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

Margaret Millar’s A Stranger in My Grave (1960)

Here, the figurative language of Millar’s 1950s novels (like Vanish in an Instant and  Wives and Lovers) is replaced by a cleaner style which often focuses on extremes.

“But Fielding’s pity, like his love and even his hate, was a variable thing, subject to changes in the weather, melting in the summer, freezing in the […]

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Difficult Stories, Difficult Narrators: Five Novels

Conflicted: that describes my first impressions after meeting Pillow in Andrew Battershill’s Giller-nominated novel of the same name,and it also describes his perspective on the world.

It’s hard to be Pillow, to see all the angles which converge and diverge simultaneously on any single thought he has. For instance: “Pillow was of the mind that […]

Toronto Book Award 2016

This is the award’s 42nd anniversary and the prize is announced on the evening of October 11, 2016 at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library.

This year’s finalists for the 2016 Toronto Book Awards are Howard Akler’s Men of Action (a memoir), Ann Y.K. Choi’s Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety (a novel), The Ward: The Life and Loss […]

Katherena Vermette’s The Break (2016)

“My Stella, girls get attacked everywhere.” Stella’s Kookom — her grandmother — states her truth blnntly. She has lived it, is living it, has survived it and is surviving it. Although, as Lou says: “We have all been broken in one way or another.”

House of Anansi, 2016

The Break is more than one woman’s story. But […]

Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls (2002)

Sometimes I buy books for the stories on their pages; sometimes I buy them for the stories between the pages.

My copy of Porcupines and China Dolls was purchased second-hand at the Trinity College booksale more than ten years ago.

Because of a handful of folded sheets tucked inside the back cover (although, yes, I was […]

Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes (2014)

How many times have I fallen for this trick? A Stephen King novel opens with a vividly sketched scene, of ordinary and likeable people going about the business of their everyday lives, when disaster strikes, and someone dies.

Gallery Books – S&S, 2016

Mr. Mercedes is no different. A job fair is planned and desperate job-hunters […]

Bloody Summer 2016, In My Reading Log

Massacre, killer, murder: when these words appear on a novel’s first page, readers are fore-warned.

And, yet, the first third of Sara Taylor’s Boring Girls (2015) is a coming-of-age story.

“It was becoming more and more apparent that I had been right all along. No one could truly understand me, unless they got me.” Despite the ominous introductory pages, […]

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 […]

Ian Colford’s Perfect World (2016)

Ian Colford’s work has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, and his first published work was a collection of stories. It’s no surprise that he can write succinctly and put a short form to work.

Freehand Books, 2016

In 2012, he published his first novel, The Crimes of Hector Tomás, which honed his skill with […]

Where the Girls Went: Three Novels

Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and, most recently, The Widow: girls make for good pageturners.

But Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Fiona Barton are looking to tell different kinds of stories about girls.

In a BookPage interview, Gillian Flynn tries to explain why Gone Girl captured “the popular imagination so thoroughly”.

“It’s perhaps […]