Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Susan Philpott’s Blown Red (2015)

It begins with a body. And with short chapters, told from a variety of perspectives, guaranteed to create strong pacing.

Blown Red is the first in the Signy Shepherd mysteries ,and it introduces readers to the series’ star, as well as some of the other key personnel working on the Line.

One stop on the Line is relatively visible […]

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Catherine Cooper’s White Elephant (2016)

A white elephant was historically bestowed as a burden which had the outward appearance of a gift; a courtier charged with its care and upkeep would have a beautiful creature to display, but the weight of the responsibility undeniable.

Freehand Books, 2016

In Catherine Cooper’s debut novel, the question of gifts and burdens permeates the […]

Nadia Bozak’s Thirteen Shells (2016)

It’s with a subtle touch, but Nadia Bozak solidly roots the reader in time and place.

House of Anansi, 2016

This is not an easy task, because Shell only grows to the age of seventeen in Thirteen Shells — across thirteen stories, and childhood is inherently rootless.

So the details noted must be those within a child’s […]

On Everything Everything and Everything Feels like the Movies

Everything: isn’t that what readers look for in a book? Many authors think so.

PRH – Doubleday Canada, 2015

One suggests that Everything Leads to You. Another insists that Everything Was Goodbye. (Nina LaCour and Gurjinder Basran)

One begs Tell Me Everything, while another is concerned with Everything I Never Told You. (Sarah Salway […]

John Bart’s Middenrammers (2016)

Although Middenrammers is set in 1970s England, it is not the England of English literature which Helene Hanff discovered in 84 Charing Cross Road.

Freehand Books, 2016

Nonetheless, the hospital which lies at the heart of the story does have a familiar air to it, for narrator and reader alike.

“Sweport Maternity had the same […]

Michelle Butler Hallett’s This Marlowe (2016)

Christopher Marlowe’s story begins and ends with a brawl, in the hands of Michelle Butler Hallett.

Goose Lane Editions, 2016

This Marlowe focuses on the final months of the playwright’s life, with his death registered as May 30, 1593.

His patron, Thomas Walsingham, openly supported his plays and verses, but they were indeed controversial, in […]

February 2016, In My Bookbag

My reading resolutions for this year revolve around a set of too-long-unread books. Many of which were too-long-unread because they are long and complicated. Like Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes, which I have been leaving at home, while these slimmer volumes have been travelling with me.

Jeremy Love’s […]

Kyo Maclear’s The Good Little Book (2015)

I returned to picture books when a face-to-face bookclub read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Books without pictures still outnumber the illustrated volumes in my stacks, but I am working to adjust the balance.

The Good Little Book, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Marion Arbona, will suit booklovers of all ages, and likely […]

I Spy with My CanLit Eye: Two Classics

Our young separatist narrator is imagining his own future and the future of Quebec, and both man and nation are struggling with matters of expression and independence, in Hubert Aquin’s Next Episode (published in 1965, translated by Sheila Fischman in 2001).

“I am the fragmented symbol of Quebec’s revolution, its fractured reflection and its suicidal […]

Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl (2015)

Despite its sedate and unassuming cover, Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl begins in a rush.

Goose Lane, 2015

“With a shriek of splintering boards, the girl breaks into daylight and stands blinded, panting, sucking air as if it were a great hot soup, her chest heaving.”

This sentence and the following pages […]