Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by Ann Shortell

A fine example of Canadian historical fiction, Ann Shortell’s Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale (2018, Friesen Press) is constructed around the actual assassination of D’Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of confederation, on April 7th, 1868 as he was returning from Parliament to Mrs. Trotter’s boarding house. The assailant was never seen, but Patrick J. Whelan (“Jimmy”) was later arrested, convicted and hanged as the culprit.… Continue reading

2018 IPPY Awards for Canadian Titles

IPPY Awards, or the Independent Publisher Book Awards are presented to the year’s best titles published in these important and growing divisions of independent publishing (including self-publishing). It was reaffirming to see a few of the titles I had reviewed awarded. It means that the books that I liked or resonated with me are something experienced by others as well. I enjoy promoting independent publishers and the authors whose books they undertake to bring to a wider audience.… Continue reading

Outside People and Other Stories by Mariam Pirbhai

Mariam Pirbhai was born in Pakistan and lived in England and the Philippines before emigrating to Canada. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies, at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her short stories have also appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Outside People and Other Stories (2017, Inanna Publications) is her debut collection of short fiction.… Continue reading

The Minted by Will McClelland

Quebec author Will McClelland has published his debut novel, The Minted (2016, Blue Leaf Press) to some impressive reviews. Quill & Quire noted: “The Minted is nothing like the CanLit with which we are all so familiar.” In his acknowledgements, Mr McClelland confesses: “This book is very much a product of “my first fine careless frenzy” and, as such, writing it almost killed me.” At Goodreads, I rated it 4 out of five stars, which in Goodreads parlance means that “I liked it.” And I very much did.… Continue reading

The Women of Saturn by Connie Guzzo-McParland

This ambitious debut novel (420 pages) by Ms Guzzo-McParland is an epic story of an Italian family emigrating to Canada, some (like Caterina the narrator) to join their family, others (like her older friend Lucia) to meet husbands for the first time. They make the voyage by the sea in the late 1950's onboard the Saturnalia, from which the story takes its title. Caterina, her mother Teresa along with Lucia the teenage proxy bride are "the women" of the Saturnalia.
Nicola Peffers Black Deck book cover

Refuge in the Black Deck: The Story of Ordinary Seaman Nicola Peffers by Nicola Peffers

he HMCS Winnipeg is a frigate in the Canadian Navy, and it is also the ship that Ordinary Seaman (OS) Nicola Peffers served aboard for approximately two years, starting in 2009. Fresh out of marine electrical training, she boards ship in Hawaii, full of optimism, excitement and national pride.

Refuge in the Black Deck is an amazing memoir of time spent aboard ship, and Nicola Peffers takes us along as she goes from a proud, intelligent wide-eyed recruit to a lifeless, burned out, alcoholic, weed-smoking shell of her former self by the end of her deployment.… Continue reading