Please Stand By by Carolyn Bennett

Carolyn Bennett’s debut novel Please Stand By is a fast-paced story about a woman trying to save the public television station in Edmonton where she freelances at. When a corporate man from Toronto is recruited to make changes to the Alberta Broadcasting System (ABS) and threatens the protagonist Suzanne Foley’s livelihood and those of her colleagues, Bennett skillfully reveals the anguish at the prospect of losing a job with convincing and, at times, hilarious dialogue.…

Blaze Island by Catherine Bush

Blaze Island opens with a Category Five hurricane off one of Newfoundland’s most northern Islands, a ferry ride from Gander. Rain and wind batter the Island and the home of Milan Wells and his daughter. A disturbance from the front door finds a young man, soaked and unconscious.

Catherine Bush tells us a story of the climate changes that threaten the world as we know it.…

Melt by Heidi Wicks

We meet Jess and Cait, best friends and cusp-millennials, in 2016 during a funeral reception for Jess’s mother. Cait comforts Jess while assessing her own complicated relationship with her husband, Jake.

As Jess notes, “Cait and Jake have been at each other for years. Pick-pick-picking like crows jabbing their beaks into other people’s garbage.” Cait, a CBC host and the more daring of the two, is about to make a significant life decision.…

Crocuses Hatch From Snow by Jaime Burnet

Jaime Burnet’s novel tells an urgent, socially relevant story firmly rooted in time and place. Crocuses Hatch From Snow is first and foremost a novel of Halifax, Nova Scotia, one that addresses the good, the bad and the ugly from the city’s, and the province’s, long history and recent past.

The novel opens in October 2007 with three women watching as their house in the city’s south end—a structure that was home for three generations of the family—is being demolished to make room for a new development.…

Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel

There comes a time in every adult’s life when they realize they are now on the other (wrong?) side of the generation gap. Today’s music, today’s news and sports figures hold little interest for us. Our cherished music is relabelled as “classic” and likely has been repackaged in 30, 40 and even 50th-anniversary editions. Same with books and movies of our generation (Late Boomer).…

The Waiting Hours by Shandi Mitchell

The Waiting Hours, Shandi Mitchell’s suspenseful follow-up to her award-winning debut novel, Under This Unbroken Sky, examines the professional and personal lives of people working in crisis response: Mike is a cop, Kate an ER nurse, and Tamara a 911 operator.

The action takes place in an unspecified urban centre, though enough cues are present, and sufficient landmarks mentioned, to make the Halifax/Dartmouth setting obvious to anyone familiar with the city.…

All I Ask by Eva Crocker

There are novels that feel alive. There is no other way to describe it, because words like ‘fresh’ or ‘current’ are not enough. These novels are more than just a compelling plot or strong writing. They do more than tap into current events or debates. These novels offer access to something made animate on the page, and speak from a perspective that feels somehow deeply familiar and entirely unknown; Eva Crocker’s All I Ask is one such novel.…

Skin House by Michael Blouin

Skin House got me with this line on its back cover: “Skin House is a story about two guys who end up in the same bar they started out in.” I thought, sweet, a kind of modern Waiting for Godot story. Wrong. But oh, so good in what it does do.

Take a down-and-out guy who stocks store shelves, add an ex-girlfriend who hates him while he still loves everything about her, his father Otis who lives unhappily in a nursing home and wonders who his son is, and his best friend, bald Gerry, who works in a meat department in a grocery store and competes with the guy for top rung on the loser ladder.…

In the Beggarly Style of Imitation by Jean Marc Ah-Sen

Jean Marc Ah-Sen, award-winning author of Grand Menteur — a novel about Mauritian street gangs—, has returned with something new: a collection of short pieces titled In the Beggarly Style of Imitation. Now a novelist and short story writer, Ah-Sen has proved what a multi-faced creator he is. He is currently working on another novel “just to make sure the first one wasn’t a fluke,” he says (Ah-Sen, “The Jean Marc Ah-Sen Interview”). 

Some People’s Children by Bridget Canning

Some People’s Children* is Bridget Canning’s second novel, and effectively debunks the myth of the ‘sophomore slump.’ The novel follows Imogene Tubbs as she navigates the difficulties of life as a teenage girl living in rural Newfoundland.

Imogene has been raised by her Nan and has a complicated and at times tense relationship with her mother, Maggie. She has never met her father, and his identity forms the central mystery that drives the plot.…

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

main action of Megan Gail Coles’ debut novel takes place in St. John’s, NFLD, on a single day—February 14, Valentine’s Day—as a blizzard threatens the city. The setting is a fashionable downtown restaurant called the Hazel, which caters to a varied clientele: politicians, snobbish business types, couples willing to splurge on a special-occasion dinner. The characters are restaurant staff and patrons, their relatives, friends and acquaintances.…

The Art of the Fall, a Play Translated by Danielle Le Saux-Farmer

Fiction could never be labelled as predictable. It has published divergent kinds of contemporary French fiction titles which it carefully translates into English to gain a wider audience. Witness what happened recently with Eric Dupont’s Songs for the Cold of Heart: a prestigious Giller nomination that made the publishing world take notice that there is a virtually untapped market for translations.…

We All Will Be Received by Leslie Vryenhoek

the title of Leslie Vryenhoek’s latest novel reminds you of Paul Simon’s song Graceland, that could be by design, for there are several characters looking for Graceland (although it’s a very different one from Elvis’ mansion). Their stories are told in separate threads that eventually merge to a climactic finish at Graceland, a renovated motel in Newfoundland, near the L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.…