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Letters to Amelia

Lindsay Zier-vogel Book*hug Press

Library technician Grace Porter's life goes into an emotional tailspin when her live-in boyfriend pulls the plug on their seven-year relationsh­ip. Weepy, the 30-year-old Torontonia­n finds solace in a new obsession.

Tasked with cataloguin­g a cache of letters Amelia Earhart wrote to Gene Vidal (father of writer Gore Vidal), with whom she was rumoured to have had a romantic relationsh­ip, Grace immerses herself in Earhart's life story. During a vacation to Newfoundla­nd, she explores places where Earhart spent time in the 1920s and '30s, and once back home in Toronto she retraces Earhart's footsteps as a visitor to that city during the First World War.

Her interest in a woman whose plane vanished in the Pacific in 1937 borders on unhealthy fixation. But when Grace discovers she's pregnant, writing letters to Amelia is a form of much-needed therapy, finally propelling her into a future where she is not afraid to fly solo.

Happy Sands

Barb Howard University of Calgary Press

An annual family vacation at a small lakeside resort is an exercise in frustratio­n for aptly named massage therapist Ginny Johnson. Her family — teen Alistair, eight-yearold Ruby and husband Martin — seems to be avoiding her. Regular summer clients are a pain in the caboose, and a local cop suspects she's a serial vandal. To top it off, it seems Martin is suffering from depression, whether his own or Ginny's is up for debate.

Who could blame her for indulging in a morning beer or three? Hey, what's a beach party without a piña colada? And she always has a few bottles of Pinot handy because it's a vacation.

She is heinously self-deluded, but Ginny proves to be blessed on one front: When the chips are down, her family has her back in this short, snappy romp.

I Thought He Was Dead: A Spiritual Memoir

Ralph Benmergui Wolsak and Wynn

Former CBC broadcaste­r Ralph Benmergui shares some of the wisdom that comes with age — and with near-death experience­s — in this chatty memoir.

The one-time host of CBC newsmagazi­ne Midday and 1992-93 variety show Friday Night with Ralph Benmergui had a spiritual awakening after a series of health crises in his mid-50s, including a brush with cancer one year after he came close to having a massive heart attack.

Forced to confront his mortality, he came to terms with advancing old age. Now 65, he conducts workshops for men, and he makes a pretty strong case that ageism is bad for businesses and society at large.

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