With the holiday season in full swing, odds are you’re on the hunt for gifts for friends and family. Luckily, 2015 was a busy year for local authors. Here are six new titles available at the Homer Bookstore, for sale by the author, or on iTunes — check out Shelley Gill’s new whale info app. From memoirs about frontier Alaska to a novel of romance and danger in Africa to creative and kooky new books for kids, there’s something new by a Homerite for every member of the family. Now you can curl up by the fire and wait out winter with a gripping story in hand.
Old Alaska II: Events of the 1900s
by Jim Rearden
Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Inc.
260 pages, $21.95.
A sourdough if there ever was one, Jim Rearden arrived in Alaska in 1948 and has been writing about the state ever since. He was the outdoors editor of Alaska Magazine for many years and has published 29 books, including Alaska bestsellers like “Castner’s Cutthroats” and “Shadows on the Koyuyuk.” “Old Alaska II: Events of the 1900s” is a sequel to the first “Old Alaska,” and details harrowing adventures of Alaskans throughout the twentieth century, from a former Marine fighting a grizzly with his bare hands to the story of the shipwrecked freight SS Yukon.
I Wanted to Fly
by Don Ronda
88 pages, $12.95.
A posthumous memoir, “I Wanted to Fly” chronicles local educator and former Homer City Council member Don Ronda’s experiences learning to fly an airplane during the years around statehood. It includes cartoons by the author. Don’s wife Arlene Ronda has published the book, and says it’s a story both for people who knew Don and who are interested in flying or Alaska history.
Beyond the Shadows
by Joyce Porte
302 pages. Contact Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In her newest novel, local author Joyce Porte again draws on her experiences attending boarding school in Kenya — this time, during an armed uprising in the 1950s. The plot of “Beyond the Shadows” switches between Kenya in 1953 and Paris in 2000, as a dying American woman recounts the story of her elopement and flight across the face of Africa to escape the violence. The book is dedicated to Porte’s fellow students at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, who lived through the terrors the book describes. Porte’s previous books include The Tangnyika Trilogy and a collection of stories entitled “Stormbird of the Serengeti.”
by Molly Montgomery
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
58 pages, $14.95.
Molly Montgomery has been styling hair in Homer for years, but with “Beachcomber’s ABC’s,” she shows she’s a pro in another art form as well. The book is a photographic essay that teaches young readers the alphabet using items found on the beach in Homer. Rocks lined with veins of quartz make up the letters, complemented by sand etchings and alphabetical arrangements of various beach finds.
What’s Up with Whales?
by Shelley Gill
$4.99 on iPads in the iTunes Store
Size: 334 MB
Kiwa Digital Ltd
Made for Ages 9–11
Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with Apple iPad.
This digital book, created by author and whale researcher Shelley Gill, lets young learners get a peek at the mysterious lives of some of our neighbors in the bay. Readers can choose either an English or Spanish version to read about whales: what scientists know and don’t know about them, why they sing and migrate, how they’ve evolved, and more. The app allows users to pick one of three reading levels or choose to have a narrator read the book to them. Its technology also allows them to record themselves reading, and find more information on drop-down menus. “What’s Up with Whales?” is available in the iTunes store, and is compatible with Apple iPads.
Corky and the Alaskan Gold Digger
by Bill Richardson
224 pages, $18.95.
In the fourth installation of the “Alaska Adventure” series by Bill Richardson, young adventurer Corky is back. This time, she’s delivering emergency equipment to earthquake-ravaged Kodiak during a North Pacific storm, and happens to discover gold along the way. The story also features the dramatic rescue of a hypothermic family from an airplane crashed in rural Alaska. The series is sex-, cussing-, and violence-free, with plenty of intrigue and excitement to keep young readers on their toes. Author Bill Richardson has been in Alaska nearly 50 years, and “children’s book author” is only the latest of a long string of jobs he’s held here.