Whether you'll be sitting at home on your balcony, deck or garden, in your neighbourhood park, at the beach or at your favourite getaway, be sure to take along a book.
It can be your best companion - easy to pack, never demanding, always ready when you want to read, never wanting to do something else or getting offended when you put it down.
Elizabeth Elwood's latest book of mysteries, The Agatha Principle, is a great choice for summer reading or Christmas giving. The Burnaby author and playwright brings us eight entertaining and puzzling mysteries with her multi-talented Beary family of sleuths. Elwood has developed and honed a brisk, entertaining style, with a sure ear for dialogue and a sense of humour.
Most of the settings for her stories are local, often involving the music or theatre scene and familiar landmarks, such as Stanley Park and Gastown. For variety, she also takes her characters on a trip to the Deep South to solve an old U.S. Civil War mystery.
For something completely different, and fantasy fiction fans, local author A.M. Dellamonica, whose first book in this series won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, brings us Blue Magic (Raincoast Books). The discovery of an underground river of magic water in present-day Oregon that both nourishes and destroys whatever it touches, imbuing people with magic powers, unleashes a wild reign of chaos and destruction that someone has to control to save our world.
ON THE TRAIL
A mystery of a different kind is the search and rediscovery of an ancient First Nations trail in the Yukon that was used to transport supplies, food and cattle to the gold-seekers. Dalton's Gold Rush Trail: Exploring the Route of the Klondike Cattle Drives (Harbour Publishing), by Michael Gates, is the fascinating story of an archaeologist's quest for the lost trail in the wild and beautiful country north of Haines, Alaska, up to Canada's Yukon. It was the trail of intrepid early explorers, Dalton and Glave, looking for a quick fortune in copper mines, that evolved into creating a lucrative pack route to take food up to the Klondike rush. Gates also discovered the adventures of these early searchers, their many encounters with the First Nations and the life story of the resourceful and often unscrupulous Jack Dalton, whose name the long-lost trail carries.
The Uchuck Years: A West Coast Shipping Saga (Harbour Publishing), by David Esson Young, tells tales of the hardy characters who operated the supply boat to our rugged West Coast and the lives of people in the small communities that it served.
B.C. has reams of fascinating stories from our lively and often turbulent history, and Esson Young has collected many in this entertaining book.
A Field Guide to Trees of the Pacific Northwest, by Phillipa Hudson (Harbour Publishing) is another in the handy folding pocketsized series just right for the hiker, camper, or tourist in B.C.
Beautifully illustrated with clear photos, showing shape, bark, leaves and needles, with evergreens on one side of the folder and deciduous on the other, this is an invaluable companion for anyone who wants to identify the trees around them.
Dirt of Ages, by Gillian Wigmore (Nightwood Editions), is her latest slim volume of poetry. Victoria poet Wigmore speaks of our natural world and its changes, native art, relationships, issues and memories in poems whose poignant visions and phrases re-echo long after reading.
Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five - Stories and History of the B.C. Coast, edited by Howard White (Harbour Publishing) is a perfect book for summer (or any time) reading with its collection of short stories of local characters, First Nations people, towns, boats, unusual events, disasters and places, all with something familiar for those of us lucky enough to live in B.C.
A great early idea for Christmas giving.
FOR THE KIDS
The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise, by Adrian Raeside (Harbour Publishing) with lively colourful illustrations, is a great book for kids aged four to nine, to help them get over the loss of a beloved pet.
Young Rick loses his faithful KoKo, and his inconsolable grieving is relieved by a wonderful dream visit to Pet Paradise.
IN THE GARDEN
Harbour Publishing also brings us three new books for gardeners, whether beginners, experts or, like me, hapless enthusiasts.
Sow Simple - 100+ Green and Easy Projects to Make Your Garden Awesome, by Christina Symons and John Gillespie, is full of neat, easy, sometimes quirky, but always eyecatching and interesting, ideas for your garden.
Old plants, new plants, fences, hedges, playhouses, water features, recipes, all illustrated in glorious and inspiring colour.
The Northern Gardener - Perennials that Survive and Thrive, by Barbara Rayment, is definitely my kind of book, arranged alphabetically, with good clear pictures of each hardy plant, what it needs and how to care for it, and an encouraging introduction.
If you want to stick to just one plant, there's The Book of Kale - The EasytoGrow Superfood, by Sharon Hanna. Hanna is the apostle of kale - a plant that is ancient, grows easily, has more nutrients than your multi-vitamins, is prolific and can be used in a wide variety of ways when included in recipes from breakfast to soups, salads and casseroles.
For more summer reading suggestions, head to your local bookstore and see what's on the shelves.