Use Your Imagination! by Kris Bertin

Halifax-based writer Kris Bertin has won many awards for his previous short story collection, Bad Things Happen (2016, Biblioasis) and I'm sure that Use Your Imagination! (2019, Vagrant Press*) will garner its share. Composed of seven stories spread over 200 pages, these are the type of short stories you can really get into.

Deli Meat by Tom Halford

At one point in Deli Meat (2018, Crooked Cat Books), Bree Arms tells her husband Todd that she is reading a book called, um, Deli Meat. She tells him it “is weird as hell and twice as strange,” which is a good summing up of the book itself. It was a very delightful type of weirdness and strangeness that I found between the blood-red covers of author Tom Halford’s first book.… Continue reading

The Small Things That End the World by Jeannette Lynes

Jeannette Lynes’ new book about The Small Things That End the World (2018, Coteau Books) begins with two BIG things: Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In between these two monumental storms plenty of “little things” happen to the three main protagonists, Sadie Wilder, Faith Crouch and her daughter Amber. Three generations of women who pluckily face what life serves them up, from Toronto to Thunder Bay to New Orleans, from a tumbledown farm north of Toronto to a strip club to a senior’s care home.… Continue reading

Remote Access by Barry Finlay

A political thriller penned in “cozy” mode (no profanity, no sex scenes) by retired Government of Canada employee (and award-winning author) Barry Finlay is actually #3 in the Marcie Kane series of thrillers. While I have not read the previous two installments, I found that not knowing her backstory in no way hampered my enjoyment of this book. The action begins almost immediately and the implications are profound: Annie Logan, the wife of the President’s Cheif of Staff has been hacked by a professional hired by a Chinese businessman and a government official (unbeknownst to each other) to help defeat a Presidental order to put in force steep tariffs on imported Chinese goods.… Continue reading

Sea Change: A Man, A Boat, A Journey Home by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

I am a landlubber, but I love all things maritime whether it is naval ships, submarines, or the days of wood and sail. It started with Joseph Conrad’s sea stories and carried on through those of James Fenimore Cooper and C.S. Forster. Then there were the classic true-life sailing experiences of Richard Dana Jr. in Two Years Before the Mast and Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World through which I lived a vicarious life on the sea.… Continue reading