Welcome to What’s Hot & What’s Not, a collaboration between the Revelstoke Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and The Revelstoke Current intended to foment both readership and opinion sharing about books. If you have something to say about a book you are reading please feel free to share it with Community Librarian Kendra Runnalls and her assistants — Lucie, Susan and Gabrielle. The Revelstoke Current is pleased to welcome submissions by school children at Columbia Park, Arrow Heights and Begbie View Elementary Schools.
May 25, 2917
By Peter Critchley
A rare number of nonfiction authors possess the ability and talent to create fresh, original work that reveals the world like never before.
Salt: A World History (2002) by Mark Kurlansky, author of the award-winning Cod (1997), is the piquant story of a simple substance that created fortunes, sparked revolutions, drove entire economies and greatly enlivened our food.
The author maintains that salt, one of the first international commodities and often used as currency throughout the developing world, shaped civilization. He traces the history of salt’s influence from prehistoric China and ancient Africa to Europe and the Americas and clearly shows how it influenced and affected wars, cultures, governments, religions, societies, economies, cooking and foods.
And the cast of characters in this fascinating work includes fisherman, kings, indigenous Americans, and even Ghandi, who broke the British salt law that forbade salt production in India because it outdid the British salt trade.
The Bully Pulpit (2013) by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the acclaimed author of Team of Rivals (2005), is a brilliant chronicle of the Progressive era in the United States in the first decade of the 20th century. In this era the gap between rich and poor grew wider than ever before, legislative stalemate paralyzed the country, corporations resisted federal regulations, the influence of money in politics deepened, bombs exploded in crowded streets and small wars broke out far from North American shores.
The gripping story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft—a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptures in 1912 when they engage in a brutal battle for the presidential nomination. This work is also the story of the muckraking press and the pivotal role it played to spark the spirit of reform that helped Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians and corporations intent on exploiting natural resources regardless of the environmental cost.
The Bully Pulpit is a major work of history. The research is meticulous, based largely on primary sources, the style is engaging and accessible and it illuminates the present almost much as the past.
For all the Tea in China (2010), by Sarah Rose, reads like adventure fiction. In 1848, the British India Company, faced with the loss of its monopoly on the incredibly profitable tea trade, sent Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to China to steal tea plants, seeds and the secrets of the horticulture and manufacturing of tea, a drink burgeoning in popularity among the English.
Fortune confronted danger, prejudice, terrible weather, brigands and crooks more than willing to dupe him. And the author recounts the odyssey magnificently, as well as touching upon fascinating facets about tea growing, history and the coolies (slaves) upon whom the tea trade depended. For All the Tea in China is a wondrous tale that lushly reveals a long-forgotten chapter of the past and the remarkable origins of tea, now an ordinary beverage we all take for granted.
These three titles are all available through your Okanagan Regional library www.ol.bc.ca .
May 11, 2017
Spring is not always the kindest of seasons, especially when it comes to murder…
By Peter Critchley
Vernon Branch Reference Librarian
Spring Tide (2014) by Cecilia and Rolf Borjlind is a riveting cinematic crime thriller, expertly crafted and full of twists and turns. In 1987, on a Swedish beach, a young boy witnesses three men bury a pregnant woman up to her neck in sand and leave her to drown as the tide floods in. Twenty-four years later, 24-year-old Olivia Ronning, selects this cold case for a class assignment at the Swedish police academy in Stockholm, the same case her deceased father once investigated. Meanwhile, a gang films the brutal murders of several homeless people in parks and streams the video recordings online. And Ronning and a team of experienced investigators discover a link between the murder in 1987 and the gruesome events that now unfolding in living colour.
A Spring Betrayal (2016) by Tom Callaghan is a chilling tale about the murder of seven infants whose bodies are discovered in a field near Karakol,a remote area of Kyrgyzstan where murder squad detective Akyl Borubaev is posted. With the help of Saltanat Umarova, the beautiful Uzbek security service agent from his previous case, Akyl discovers a ring of criminals who specialize in kidnapping, torturing and murdering children and whose reach extends extends to high government levels. The homicide detective is forced to rely on State Security minister Mikhail Tynaliev, a dangerous and questionable ally, to try and stop the brutal gang determined to kill anyone who opposes them. Akyl, is an admirable hero and glimpses into his childhood years in an orphanage impart depth to the character, particularly within the context of the gripping plot.
Paris Spring (2015) by James Naughtie is a superior spy thriller that plays out against the growing unrest in Paris in April 1968, a setting seldom explored in espionage fiction. British operative Will Flemyng is approached by a German man calling himself Kristof and he is all ears when the man reveals highly interesting information about Will’s younger brother, Abel. Will finds himself in a quagmire when Kristof suggests Abel is working against the West—he must juggle his duty to both his country and kin. And the juggling grows even complicated after the body of an American journalist, Grace Quincey, is discovered at the Pere Lachaise cemetery.
These three murder mysteries are all available at your Okanagan Regional Library www.orl.bc.ca.
March 19, 2017
By Carolyn Johnston
Magyk by Angie Sage — Book 1 of the Septimus Heap series
Although I am an adult, I still enjoy good juvenile fiction. It lightens up my often serious reading and can come as a breath of fresh air when interspersed among social comment, history, classics and bestsellers. It can also be fun. And it keeps me in the loop of what young people are reading.
All of these advantages are fulfilled by Magyk. by AngIe Sage. It is a page-turner, which I found a relief after too many books that needed to be slowly chewed and digested. I found it interesting, and although I was often afraid the storyline would become too predictable, it usually went off in an entirely different direction instead. But the thing I liked most about this book was how attached I became to the characters – even to the evil ones. The feisty if inexperienced princess, the boat-savvy Nicko just coming into his own power (if not his own magic), and the frightened but nonetheless intrepid Boy 412 were all charmingly skilled and charmingly flawed. At book’s end I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. And, thankfully, I didn’t have to. There are four more books already written in the series. So next time I need some fun, I can pick up the sequel Flyte.