Larkin on the Shore
Red Deer Press
October 2019

Sixteen-year-old Larkin Day sits on the shore in front of her grandmother’s house in Nova Scotia watching the sun set over the incoming tide – and imagines walking out across the sandbars, swimming towards Prince Edward Island and letting the waves roll over her head. Because, as she says, “Anything would be better than this.”

“This” is Larkin’s growing fear that she has inherited her mother’s tendencies towards addiction – especially after a downward spiral of bad choices that resulted in a frightening and physically brutal incident with a boy at school.

Sent as a last resort to spend a few weeks during the summer helping Granne – her paternal grandmother – put the finishing touches on a new café in Tuttle Harbour, Larkin thinks she has reached rock bottom. But then, slowly, the landscape around her begins to shift. She’s befriended by Will, who’s helping his father, Billy, build Granne’s café. Through Will, she becomes part of a group of local kids who hang out at nightly campfires on the back shore and whose relationships, not to mention interest in Larkin, are both exciting and confusing. She also meets Becca, neighbour and local artist, who knows Larkin’s father from their shared Tuttle Harbour schooldays.

As Larkin awaits the return of her father from Vancouver, she is caught up in a disturbing incident at the still-unfinished café involving her new friends and Will’s father: Billy’s negligence is blamed for starting a fire. But what’s the real story? Larkin, fragile and fearful, is forced to decide who she trusts and how she wants to live.

“Well-told, intense and at times heartbreaking, this young adult novel, set mainly in Nova Scotia, captures a sense of place, Atlantic culture and a book lover’s heart.” – Sheree Fitch, author of The Gravesavers

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Skating Over Thin Ice
Red Deer Press
June 2018

Imogen St. Pierre is an 18-year-old musical prodigy who has been performing with her father and grandfather in the world-renowned Trio St. Pierre since childhood. She lives in a musical bubble, guided and protected by her loving Papa and Père, happy as long as she is at the piano, detached and sometimes even unaware of the world and people around her. She is a celebrity who craves anonymity.

But Imogen’s world is beginning to shift and change. Into her life comes a new classmate, Nathan, a young hockey player who is battling his own celebrity after a violent incident in an international hockey game. At the same time, Trio St. Pierre collaborates with a rising musical star who is pressuring Imogen into joining his new ensemble. Most worrying, the future of Trio St. Pierre becomes murky as Père’s fingers begin to falter.

Things are changing, and Imogen fears change. When she, her closest friend, Fredrik, and hockey boy Nathan are thrown together for a school Media Studies project, her world begins to expand, and Imogen finally discovers she is capable of making choices and finding her own path, outside the musical bubble of Trio St. Pierre.

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Here’s what REVIEWERS are saying about Skating Over Thin Ice:

“Skating Over Thin Ice is a wonderful read which is inspiring and uplifting.

It is refreshing to read a young adult novel which focuses on talent and growth and finding happiness rather than the dark issues and themes which are so often confronted in young adult literature.

Mills has created characters who resonate and who will be remembered long after the covers of the novel have been closed.” – CM: Canadian Review of Materials


“Different and moving.” – Kirkus

Here’s what READERS are saying about Skating Over Thin Ice:

“The characters are breathtaking, beautiful, strong, vulnerable, and complex. The plot weaves these two lives together exquisitely, like a spider’s web. The writing is accessible and elegant. The dialogue flows smoothly and draws the reader into the conversations. This is such a positive coming-of-age story about accepting change. I highly recommend this book to anyone 13 and up. It will draw you in, uplift you, move you, and maybe even change your outlook.” – Kids’ Book Buzz (written by 15-year-old reviewer)


Skating Over Thin Ice, by Jean Mills, is a breath of fresh air in a YA market saturated with dark, post-apocalyptic content.  As someone who dedicates ten months of the year to looking for new literature that opens worlds, holds up a mirrors, or inspires kids to keep reading, I believe Skating Over Thin Ice has definitely made the cut.” – Carey Gallagher, Assistant Upper School Head and Upper School English Teacher at St. John’s-Kilmarnock School, Breslau, Ontario

Some earlier publications….

My first books were published for the educational market, thanks to Nelson Canada. After they went out of print, I published them through my own imprint, Pugwash Publishers, to meet the demand from teachers who wanted to use them in their Language Arts programs. Along with these Nelson Novels, I added a few titles to the Pugwash Publishers list.

If you’re interested in reading any of these books, you may be able to find them in your local library, or you can contact me to ask about ordering them, using the form on the Contact page.

Wild Dog Summer

Nelson Canada, 1990; Pugwash Publishers, 2004

Thirteen-year-old Betty Jane Kelsey and her family are still reeling from the loss of her brother, Joe, in a drinking and driving accident a year ago. And the boy who was driving, Joe’s best friend, Craig Hannaford, is a constant reminder of all the family has lost.

It’s summer, and a pack of wild dogs are roaming the fields around the town of Rosehill. As B.J. wanders the fields and trails, trying to make sense of life without Joe, she discovers that she and Craig may have found a way to make things better – including healing her mother’s devastating grief.

The Legacy
Nelson Canada, 1991

Staying with relatives she has never met is not Anna’s idea of a fun way to spend the summer. Particularly when she encounters her bad-tempered cousin Laird, who is none too happy to meet her either.

But it’s a summer of discovery for Anna. She finds out that her love of fiddle music isn’t an accident, and her connection to relatives alive and gone is strong – a legacy of music and family connections.

Abby and the Curling Chicks
Pugwash Publishers, 2003

Abby Chisholm has no interest in curling, but when her mother makes a deal with her – a season of junior curling at the local club in exchange for registration at a summer writing camp – Abby reluctantly agrees to give it a try.

So begins a season of playing with her best friends on a team, The Curling Chicks, where she meets some challenges both on and off the ice and learns what sportsmanship really means.

The Toymaker’s Son
Pugwash Publishers, 2005

Linden Flanders is a shy, troubled 15-year-old boy with a lot on his mind.

From the time his mother was killed in a car accident years earlier, his family has been disoriented and lost. His father, distant and grieving, doesn’t approve of Linden’s hockey aspirations, and his older sister, Ardith, tries desperately to create a normal home life for her shattered family. Awkward and silent, Linden seems to come alive when he puts on his skates and hits the ice with his best friend, Thomas.

But when Ardith launches a plan to save some local woods from being demolished by a developer, and Linden finds himself befriended by Cassie McKay, the daughter of Ardith’s adversary, the trouble begins. Linden’s loyalty is tested, and he finds himself caught up in events that force him to make some important choices about what – and who – matter most to him.

The Toymaker’s Son is a sequel to Wild Dog Summer.

Order the e-book of The Toymaker’s Son from Amazon.