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

Vickie Gendeau’s Testament (2012; 2016)

Originally written after the author had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, Testament is a response to the news that Vickie Gendreau would have little time left to live: about a year.

2012; Book Thug, 2016

The novel’s translator, Aimee Wall, writes about the work, a few months after its author died, in Lemon […]

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Darren Greer’s Advocate (2016)

“The past presses so hard on the present, the present is badly bruised, blood brims under the skin.”

These lines from Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “Nachträglichkeit”* fit beautifully with Darren Greer’s new novel, Advocate:

Not only because much of Advocate is preoccupied with memory, with what the characters carry with them everyday which belongs to another […]

Page-turners and other gripping reads

What’s interesting about each of these novels is that none fits a traditional model in the suspense genre. Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door is the closest to a conventional thriller. But even her novel spends more time on characterization and atmosphere than many loyal genre readers would tolerate.

Nonetheless, she does rely on tropes to […]

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 […]

Kate Taylor’s Serial Monogamy (2016)

“My books aren’t romances per se; they don’t even necessarily feature happy endings any more, they just conclude with hopeful moments that allow the reader to decide whether widows have the strength to go on or divorced dads find love for a second time.”

And there is nothing romantic about the idea of serial monogamy. One cannot […]

The Fourth Nina Borg Mystery: The Considerate Killer

“’What the hell makes you think,’ she said, in her most glacial voice, ‘that I am anybody’s victim?’”

Soho Press, 2016

Nina’s question, in an earlier volume of the series, is ironic in this context: The Considerate Killer begins with two blows to the back of Nina’s head and a lingering state of unconsciousness, […]

Tracy Barone’s Happy Family (2016)

As a screenwriter and a playwright, it’s not surprising that Tracy Barone’s debut novel, Happy Family, reads like a series of scenes.

Little, Brown and Company, 2016

The first unfolds on August 5, 1962. “The pregnant girl enters the Trenton Family Clinic, looking like she parted the Red Sea to get there.”

She is as adept at sneaking […]

Karen Molson’s The Company of Crows (2016)

It might seem to be, at first glance, a quintessential CanLit passage, a poetic description of the natural world.

Linda Leith Publishing, 2016

But the opening passage of The Company of Crows reveals more about Karen Molson’s debut novel, than one might think.

“Thin grey lines fan out across the earthscape like a gigantic, tattered spiderweb. […]

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 […]

In the Wake: Books which Suit RIP X

In the past, I’ve made large stacks of creepy reading with the RIP challenges in mind, but I  have a habit of stacking up many lovely possibilities but then choosing different books altogether later on.

Perhaps this is partly because books can surprise you and take you in unexpected directions. Many of the books in […]