Linda Granfield – release of a new book

Linda Granfield has visited Reading Recommendations previously, here and here. She returns now to tell us about a new book on a little-known story from WWI.


The Vimy Oaks
by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Brian Deines
Published by Scholastic Canada
Genre: History, Ages 7-12

A soldier, a handful of acorns — and a hundred-year legacy of hope, remembrance and renewal.

“I am writing seated at the foot of a large oak,” wrote Leslie Miller in his diary in 1916, while war raged around him. Little could this Canadian soldier have imagined how future generations would come to enjoy the majestic oak trees he grew after his return to Canada.

Standing amidst the devastation of war, Leslie picked up a handful of acorns and mailed them home, where they were nurtured. This small but amazingly hopeful act continues to be felt just as powerfully today, one hundred years after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The living legacy of Leslie Miller’s “Vimy Oaks” inspires hope as the world remembers and honours the soldiers who served in the First World War.

Également disponible en édition française

Where to purchase Linda’s book:
Scholastic Canada


Natalie Hyde

IMG_0583Natalie Hyde

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Stay Strong: A Musician’s Journey from Congo is non-fiction.

Quick description: Growing up, Gentil Misigaro only knew the world as a place of loss, fear, and death. For fifteen years he and his family moved from country to country to escape the violence, but it followed them from their village in Congo to Rwanda and then Uganda. Through it all Gentil found strength and hope in music. When his family got the news that they had finally found a new home in Canada, Gentil saw his music as a powerful force that could bring positive change to his new homeland and to the world.

Natalie has provided a few links to Gentil’s music videos: With Status4 founder Kevin Gibson; Beautiful People Video; and the ExileZ Facebook page offers more music!


Brief biography:
Natalie Hyde is the author of over fifty fiction and non-fiction books for kids. She lives in Southern Ontario with her family, a little leopard gecko, and a cat that desperately wants to eat him.

Links to buy Natalie’s book:
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Natalie’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the second book in the Arrivals series. This book will feature a young woman who fled Colombia to find a new life in Canada. I am also working on a new middle grade novel as well as a new middle grade non-fiction book.

Natalie’s reading recommendation:
I just had the pleasure of reading Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson. Great story!

Stephen Bown

When I was a publishers’ sales rep, I represented Douglas & McIntyre, a company that at the time published several books written by Stephen Bown. Dennis and our neighbour Rodger especially enjoyed reading sample copies I brought with me to Bequia. I was pleased to discover Stephen is still writing and publishing historical biographies and non-fiction and invited him here to tell you about his latest!

[Craig Douce photo]

[Craig Douce photo]

Stephen Bown

What is your latest release and what genre is it? White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic – Historical biography

Quick description: White Eskimo is the first full-scale biography of the visionary Danish explorer and ethnographer who unveiled the culture, the language and the life of the Arctic – for lovers of adventure, remote cultures and timeless legend.

“This compelling book is a marvelous tribute to an extraordinary explorer and the lands and peoples that made him great.” Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest.

White Eskimo-CDN

Brief biography:
I am a critically acclaimed author of eight literary non-fiction books on the history of science, exploration and ideas. I take a biographical and narrative approach to my writing, using the techniques of fiction writing – strong storytelling, creative language, emphasizing people, their decisions, actions and motivations – to tell factually and historically accurate stories. I believe that people and their behaviour never change, only the context is different. My lifelong interest in history is fueled by the lessons to be learned from studying the successes and failures of history’s greatest thinkers, leaders and innovators, those who challenged conventional thinking and entrenched power structures to change their world. My previous book was The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen.

I live in Canmore in the Canadian Rockies with my wife and two kids, and enjoy hiking, skiing and mountain biking when not writing.

Links to buy Stephen’s book:
Douglas & McIntyre – Canada
Da Capo Press – US
Amazon US
Amazon Canada

Stephen’s promo links:
Douglas & McIntyre Q&A with Stephen Bown
Interview with Daybreak Alberta, CBC Radio

What are you working on now?
Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition, about the Bering expedition across the Pacific to Alaska in the 1740s, and the scurvy, shipwreck, starvation and eventual survival or some of the members – an incredible true story.

Stephen’s reading recommendation:
Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, by Mark L. Winston. I was on the jury for the Governor General’s Award in 2015 and this is the book we chose as the best in the non-fiction category. It is a beautifully written exploration of honey bees, nature, the environment and our place in the world by a leading naturalist and researcher.

Brian Brennan – an update

Brian Brennan has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations in Nov. 2013, and with two updates in Dec. 2014 and on my other blog in Feb. 2015.


Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Canada’s West
by Brian Brennan
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, history

Published by The University of Regina Press

Brian Brennan will be launching the republication of Rogues and Rebels in Calgary at Owl’s Nest Bookstore on Thurs. Oct. 8, 7-8:30 p.m.!

Biographical profiles of 32 larger-than-life Western Canadians – some from recent history, some from the distant past – who dared to be different. These were mavericks, iconoclasts, risk-takers and adventurers who threw away the rulebook, thumbed their noses at convention, and let their detractors howl.

It’s a sequel to Scoundrels and Scallywags, a book I published in 2002 that became a Canadian best-seller. In Canada, a book is commonly acknowledged to be a best-seller if it sells 5,000 copies. Scoundrels has sold more than 12,000 and is hailed by my wine-drinking buddies as one of the most successful books of regional history published in Canada during the first decade of the 21st century.

The characters in Rogues and Rebels include political leaders such as Ralph Klein and Tommy Douglas, social justice advocates such as Nellie McClung and Ruth Gorman, crusading journalists such as Heather Robertson and Gladys Arnold, entertainers such as Billy Cowsill and Shay Duffin, and the woman who co-invented the Bloody Caesar, which is now officially designated Canada’s national cocktail.

Updated brief biography:
I’ve been writing professionally for most of my adult life. I spent more than 30 years as a staff writer with daily newspapers in British Columbia and Alberta, and have been freelancing for the past 15. I have published 11 books of non-fiction and seen my byline in such publications as The New York Times, the Irish Times, The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

Links to buy Brian’s new book:
University of Regina Press

Brian’s promo links for the new book:
Rogues and Rebels Trailer
CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta
Brian’s Website

What Brian is working on now:
A book of celebrity profiles based on interviews I did during the 1970s and 1980s with such stars of stage, screen, literature and music as Tennessee Williams, Sophia Loren, Chuck Berry and Richard Harris.

Brian’s current reading recommendation:
Fred Stenson’s Who by Fire, the latest novel to deal with how Alberta’s oil and gas industry affects the people of the province. Great storytelling from an accomplished scribe who knows the industry and knows his fellow Albertans. (Fred Stenson has also been featured on Reading Recommendations.)

Hubert O’Hearn

While preparing this post, I discovered that Hubert O’Hearn attended Queen’s University at Kingston immediately after I graduated. He also studied English Literature with many of the same professors as I, so we had a delightful chat on Facebook about our memories of those days and the people who taught us. Thanks, Hubert!

Hubert profile Hubert O’Hearn

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Joss Whedon: The Making of a Cult Superhero – biography

Quick description: Critical biography, going into detail on all of Whedon’s written and/or directed TV series, movies, and the comic books he has authored

whedon cover

Brief biography:
Born in Canada, moved to Ireland end of 2012. Wrote Inside Television newspaper column for 12 years. Former book editor, Herald de Paris; currently Contributing Editor/Interviewer for San Francisco Book Review. Six produced plays. Also author Random Acts of Love (poetry).

Links to buy Hubert’s book:

Hubert’s promo links:
Website and Book Review blog

What are you working on now?
1) I’m finishing a suite of four One Act plays on a theme of Human Rights
2) My Human Rights reader (For Freedom Vol. 1: The Fight for Global Human Rights 1948-2015) is due for release this fall
3) And I’m working on a bio of Bono, centered on his work as a Human Rights activist

Hubert’s reading recommendation:
I read (and interviewed) a fantastic new writer based out of San Francisco named Sean Taylor. He has a book of short stories called Your Smallest Bones. He gets it. He really really gets it.