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

In Cainsville: A Giveaway

The second volume in Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series is an enticing follow-up to Omens.

Random House Canada, 2014

Those who have read the Otherworld series will recall that the earliest novels concentrated on Elena’s character and here, too, in her return to Cainsville, the main character remains consistent.

Olivia Taylor-Jones is now seeing both [...]

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Between Generations: Two Novels and a Memoir

Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)

Bond Street Books – Random House, 2014

It’s risky, fragmenting narration into a large number of voices, but it’s the perfect format for a novel about the experiences of newcomers to the United States, who can have an astonishing variety of experiences.

Readers might expect to [...]

Theresa Kishkan’s Mnemonic: A Book of Trees (2011)

Like Sharon Butala in Perfection of the Morning (1994) and Candace Savage in The Geography of Blood (2012), Theresa Kishkan explores the relationship between landscape and memory.

Goose Lane Editions, 2011

The essays in Mnemonic are titled in two ways, first with the Latin name for a tree and, second, with a reference to [...]

Dissenting Voices: Three Novels

Knopf, 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland (2013)

“Naxalbari is an inspiration. It’s an impetus for change.”

One brother in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel is a member of the Naxalbari movement, Udayan. His involvement with the far-left radical Communist group in Calcutta vitally impacts the entire family, even Subhash, who leaves for the United States in [...]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2014

“Bad coffee can only keep you company for so long at four a.m. in a bus depot.”

Caitlin Press, 2014

All of the characters in Janine Alyson Young’s debut collection seem as though they would immediately recognize the truth of that. They all seem to have a spot of the drifter in them, even [...]

September 2014: In My Reading Log

Among other books enjoyed in September were some standout novels that will be featured later this month, including Michael Crummey’s Sweetland and Magie Dominic’s Street Angel. There was also Diversiverse and the launch of RIP IX, and much musing on future Read-a-Thon choices. Award longlists began appearing (including the Toronto Book Award and the Giller Prize) [...]

Broken: Careers, Contracts, Society

Each of these novels considers a shattered state of being, whether the devastation plays out through the cycle of addiction or societal breakdown or international conflicts. The characters employ a variety of coping mechanisms and the authors’ styles are diverse; Elizabeth Renzetti’s Based on a True Story, Edan Lepucki’s California and Audrey Magee’s The Undertaking make for [...]

Nadia Bozak’s Borders

Excerpt from reading journal:

Nadia Bozak is the reason that I have copies of the three books in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy on my shelves. Books that I never planned to read, but I came across the idea that the works were somehow connected with her novels Orphan Love and El Niño. And, so, the [...]

Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (2014)

When a passage on page two is just breathtakingly powerful, readers’ expectations soar. It seems impossible to imagine reading beyond this passage without stopping to reread, or not reading it aloud to a friend sitting alongside, or not tapping the stranger sitting next to you, pointing and saying “Check this out”.

HarperCollins, 2014

Debra Komar’s The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (2014)

Debra Komar creates a narrative which manages to straddle the line between scholarly analysis and page-turner, relying upon court records, newspapers, and other historical documentation to gather evidence surrounding the murder of 14-year-old Annie Kempton in Bear River, Nova Scotia in 1896.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

“This book looks back so we can see [...]