Summer books!

Have you made your book selections/reading list for summer yet? There is so much to chose from! And many much awaited soon to be published sequels!
These are some (20) of my (Helen McIver) favourite books so far, as well as a few I have on preorder!
**Bruce Holsinger A Burnable Book (Anyone who liked Pulitzer Prize winner Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies will love this.)
**Deborah Harkness The Book of Life (Much anticipated final chapter (gasp) Discovery of Witches trilogy)
*Nancy Horan Under the Wide and Starry Sky (interesting historical novel about Franny Stevenson wife of Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson)
*Anthony Holden Poems that make Grown Cry (You might even memorize a few!)
*Gabrielle Zevin Storied life of AJ Fikry. (Highly entertaining, thought provoking)
Diana Gabaldon Written in my own Heart’s Blood (Long awaited next installment in the Claire and Jaime time travel saga. Don’t forget the television series in August!)
Charlaine Harris Midnight Crossing. (A new series, with a few old friends from previous series, you might end up reading something other than Sookie, and enjoying them more.)
Craig Johnson Any Other Name (Walt Longmire, legendary Wyoming sheriff)
*Charles Todd Unwilling Accomplice (Bess Crawford, WWI English Army nurse, 6th installment)
*Nicola Upson Death of Lucy Kyte (This series breathes life into Scottish mystery writer Josephine Tey. Be warned you will read all of her original novels too.)
*Jacqueline Winspear Care And Management of Lies
Amanda Quick Otherwise Engaged (Historical English romp)
Children’s /YA
Kathy Reichs Exposure (continuing the Virals series)
**Ransom Riggs Hollow City (Miss Peregrine) (The series continues.)
**Maria Semple Where’d You Go Bernadette? A MUST read book; you will thank me.
*Janice MacLeod Paris letters (Making young love work in the city of light.)
*Carol Wall Mr Owita’s Guide to Gardening (Gardening is good for the soul, although you will need hankies.)
Science fiction
Terry Pratchett Raising Steam (Yes it feels a bit like saying goodbye to your favourite characters but don’t miss this installment.)
*Douglas Nicholas Something Red, The Wicked (Medieval mystery that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Especially if you are still missing Game of Thrones.)
Elizabeth Kolbert The Sixth Extinction (Everyone needs to read this sobering environmental book. The next cataclysm is us. Look in the mirror, we are responsible, and need to be.)
* denotes great read
** denotes a MUST read!

Non Fiction Author Lists by Helen McIver


It is time for beach reads again, although I read anything and everything over the summer. I have a list of authors I return to, to see what they have written next, that I simply must read. Locate that sun umbrella, the chaise lounge, the iced tea and lose myself in another world. Sometimes it is a place (Paris, London, Yellowstone), sometimes it is a person (Shakespeare, memoirs, presidents), sometimes it is a time (medieval Scotland, Puritan New England, the 1960s) and sometimes it is a taste (single malts, organic foods, what to eat next). Entertaining, educational and edifying, these authors never fail me.
Nonfiction writers

Heavily weighted towards history and natural history.

A. Peter Ackroyd, Margaret Atwood (Payback), Stephen Ambrose

B. Nick Bunker, Bill Bryson, Geraldine Brooks, Iain Banks, Alan Bennett

C. Rachel Carson, AJ Cronin, Winston Churchill, William Cronon

D. Bernard DeVoto, Michael Dirda, Richard Dawkins, John Gregory Dunne

E. Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Edward

F. William Fiennes, Niall Fergusson, David Hackett Fischer, Shelby Foote

G. AAGill, A Greig, Stephen Jay Gould, Doris Kearns Goodwin

H. Edward Hoagland, Tony Horwitz, William Least Heat-Moon, Bernd Heinrich, Stephen Hawkins

I. Ian Frazer

J. PD James, Clive James

K. Verlyn Klinkenborg, Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Kennedy Jr, Tracy Kidder

L. Louise Leaman, Robert Leckie, Aldo Leopold

M. David McCullouch, John McPhee, John Muir, Farley Mowat, William Manchester

N. Stephen Nelson, Cynthia Ne

O. Edna OBrien

P. Michael Pollan, Nancy Pearl, Annie Proulx


R. Oliver Rackham, Tim Russert, Teddy Roosevelt

S. Marjori Santani Persepolis, Simon Schama, Ernest Thompson Seton, Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., TC Smout

T. Studs Terkel, Thoreau, Alisdair Taylor,

U. Robert Utley

V. Voltaire

W. Patricia Wells, Simon Winchester, Daniel Worster

Read Across America Week/Children’s Author List

In honour of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd, the National Education Association (NEA) has set aside this week to honor the birthday of one of the world’s most beloved children’s author.  The NEA’s Read Across America began in 1998 and is an annual reading motivation and awareness program celebrated to encourage reading and literacy and create lifelong readers.

This year NEA is teaming up with Renaissance Dental to deliver an important message: 2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits. “We’re asking children and their parents to brush for two minutes, two times per day plus read for 20 minutes each day,” said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO at Renaissance Dental. “That’s a daily total of 24 minutes focused on developing good oral health and reading skills.” American students miss over 51 million hours of school every year due to oral health problems. Students miss critical instruction time—especially in early grades where reading skills are a critical focus. This partnership will bring books and toothbrushes to kids in need on the eve of National Children’s Dental Health Month (February).

There are so many wonderful Dr. Seuss books that inspire and encourage reading, and there is nothing like reading with a child. Joy can be found not only by sharing the story, but also by sharing their reactions and discussing their thoughts.

Don’t forget to read to your adult loved ones as well. That special poem, silly rhyme, moving passage, joke that you can’t wait to share, or just the book you are reading now.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”


Here is a listing of some of my favourite children’s and young adult authors (that I am still reading!)

A. Chris van Allsburg (Polar Express), G.A. Aiken (What a Dragon Should Know), Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

B. JM Barrie (Peter Pan), Frank Baum, Alan Bradley (Flavia deLuce), Thornton Burgess, Gillian Bradshaw (Arthur series)

C. Lewis Carroll (Alice), Chaucer

D. Kate DiCamillo, Roald Dahl, Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Jeanne DuPrau (Embers)

E. Julie Andrews Edwards, Michael Ende (NeverEnding story)

F. Ian Fleming (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Anne Frank, Fynn (Mister God, this is Anna)

G. Neil Gaiman, Kenneth Graham, Jean Craighouse George

H. Mark Haddon (Curious Incident Dog in the Night), Rachel Hartman (Seraphina), George Haley

I. Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie), Washington Irving (Rip van Winkle)

J. William Joyce (Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore), Brian Jacques, W.E. Johns (Biggles)

K. Rudyard Kipling, Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)

L. Andrew Lang (Blue Fairy Book), Madeleine L’Engle, Munro Leaf (Story of Ferdinand), Edward Lear (Owl and Pussycat), C.S. Lewis (Narnia)

M. Walter Moers, Gregory Maguire, Andrew Motion (Silver), Brandon Mull

N. Edith Nesbit (Railway children), John Newbery, Mary Norton (Borrowers)

O. Scott O’Dell

P. Terry Pratchett (I shall wear Midnight), Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials), Gary Paulson


R. JK Rowling (Harry Potter), Arthur Ransom, Marjorie Rawlings, Rick Riordan (Perry Jackson)

S. Robert Louis Stevenson (Kidnapped), Maurice Sendak, Lane Smith, (It’s a Book), Louis Sachar, Dr Suess, Lemony Snicket, Brian Selznick (Hugo)

T. J.R.R. Tolkein, Nigel Tranter, Mark Twain, Tasha Tudor

U. Anne Ursu (Shadow Thieves), Florence Upton (golliwoggs)

V. Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji)

W. T. H. White (Sword in the Stone), E. B. White (Charlotte’s Web), H.G. Wells


Y. Laurence Yep (Golden Mountain Chronicles), Jane Yolen (Owl Moon, Wizard’s Hall)

Z. Paul Zindel (Pigman), Pamela Zagarenski (illustrator)



Every year I am asked for my reading list. Some people only want the highlights (the top 10**, the top 50), others want everything. I never list the books I read that I didn’t like, but I still end up with 300+ books. I am a positive reviewer, although I will often have great discussions about books that don’t show up on my lists! I have been late with the Christmas newsletter and at this rate it is going to be a Valentine’s note, but I have not forgotten those who look forward to adding to their reading list. Happy Reading.

2012 Book List
Michael Chabon Maps and Legends: reading and writing along the borders
John Connolly (ed) Books to Die For
**Michael Dirda On Conan Doyle
Susan Hill A Bit of Singing and Dancing
**Tony Horwitz Midnight Rising
Sam Kean The Violinist’s Thumb
St. Clair McKelway Reporting at Wit’s End : tales from The New Yorker
PJ O’Rourke Holidays in Heck
*Nancy Pearl After Life (Book Lust Rediscoveries)
*Jonathan Yardley Second Reading
Julian Barnes Sense of an Ending
Mark Haddon The Red House
Kathleen Howe House of Velvet and Glass
William Kuhn Mrs Queen Takes the Train
**Hilary Mantel Bringing up the bodies
*Paula McLain The Paris Wife
China Mieville The City and the City
Stef Penney The Invisible Ones
Alexander McCall Smith Uncommon Appeal of Clouds
Natasha Solomons Mr Rosenblum dreams in English
Jacqueline Winspear Elegy for Eddie
Simon Beckett An Unmarked Grave
*John Connolly Wrath of Angels
Elly Griffith House at Sea End
**Deborah Harkness Shadow of the Night
Susan Hill Betrayal of Trust
Craig Johnson As Crow Flies, Walt Longman series
**Laurie King Beekeeper’s apprentice:series
*Susan Elia MacNeal Princess Elizabeth’s Spy
**Ian Rankin Standing in Another Man’s Grave
Imogen Robertson Instruments of darkness
Robin Sloan Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore
Julia Stuart Pigeon Pie Mystery
Charles Todd The Confession, Unmarked Grave
Science Fiction
Richard K. Morgan The Cold Commands
**Patrick Rothfuss The Name of the Wind; The Wise Man’s Fear Book 1,2
Carol Carr India Black (series)
Gail Carriger Timeless (series)
Susanna Kearsley The Winter Sea
**Chris van Allburgh The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
*Alan Bradley Flavia deluce series
**Kristin Cashore Bitterblue
*Kerstin Gier Ruby red translated from the German by Anthea Bell
*Adam Gopnik The Steps Across the Water illustrated by Bruce McCall
Pete Hautman Obsidian Blade
**Mark Helprin Swan Lake, A Kingdom Far and Clear
**William Joyce The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Moris Lessmore
China Mieville Un Lun Dun
Eva Marie Mont A Breath of Eyre
**Walter Moers Labyrinth of Dreaming Books
**Andrew Motion Silver : Return to Treasure Island
**Terry Pratchett Snuff, Dodger
**Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children
**Elizabeth Wein Code Name Verity

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