The Memory Chair by Susan White

I must admit to a certain guilty pleasure that comes from reading and reviewing Young Adult (YA) novels. First of all, they are an ‘easy’ read; the stories are often straightforward, devoid of gratuitous sex, profanity and violence (in most cases) and the author’s message is clear. Secondly, it makes me see things through the eyes of a young person, often taking me back in time to my own adolescent years.… Continue reading

Knife Party at the Hotel Europa by Mark Anthony Jarman

A man, let’s call him Adam (since one of the stories in this collection is called Adam and Eve Saved from Drowning, and Eve is the name of his cousin and sometime traveling companion) is trying to escape his past: a failed marriage, children grown and out of the house, and the beautiful woman that he left his wife for suddenly departs his life. Might as well go to Italy for the summer where he sweats it out, escapes a knife party (knives figures prominently throughout the book), drinks wine, takes drugs, eats, considers becoming the next Pope and falls in love with his pretty cousin Eve.… Continue reading

A Hero by Charlotte R. Mendel

Nova Scotian author Charlotte R. Mendel has written a different kind of novel with A Hero (2015, Inanna Publications*). It is different in that it concerns the lives of an extended Muslim family living in an unnamed post-revolutionary Muslim country. While the family is Muslim, it could be any family living anywhere, from the inner city to the suburbs. In fact, as I started reading the book, it seemed to me like a Muslim version of “All in the Family”.… Continue reading

Let Us Be True by Erna Buffie

Just after finishing Let Us Be True (2015, Coteau Books), I rated it a 3 out of 5 stars at Goodreads. Then I changed my mind and gave it another star because I kept thinking about the story long after I finished it, which is a sign of a four-star book for me. I kept thinking about it primarily due to the way the author, Erna Buffie has written the life story of Pearl Calder.… Continue reading

Limerence by Jon Tattrie

Jon Tattrie has written a very clever book in Limerence (2015 Pottersfield Press). What do I mean by ‘clever’? It is a clever idea, cleverly conceived and written. It concerns the life of Manitoba resident Sam Stiller who loses his wife and son in a car accident and sets out to reinvent himself on the east coast of Canada as Cain Cohen.

Cain Cohen denies he was ever Sam Stiller, but there are some telling clues: the love of Leonard Cohen’s music (which is referenced liberally throughout the book and hence his ‘new’ last name), and the biblical reference to Cain, who became an outcast after murdering his brother Abel.… Continue reading

Tomas and the Gypsy Violin by Robert Eisenberg

Quattro Books (“Home of the Novella”) has just published an endearing gem with Tomas and the Gypsy Violin. It is the story of Frank and Anna Lewitt, who adopt a seven-year-old Romani (formerly ‘Gypsy’) boy named Tomas after seeing a news report of the persecution of Roma in Eastern Europe. Told by Adam, Frank’s son from a previous marriage, he pleads:

This story is different. It is personal and painful to tell…..the little boy’s story cries out to be heard.

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