Rough and Plenty: a Memorial by Raymond A. Rogers

Sometimes I am such a laggard when it comes to either reading a book I’ve had for some time, or writing it’s review. In the case of Rough and Plenty from WLU Press, it is the former. I originally requested this book back in July of 2019 and I soon had it in my mailbox. However, it has sat on my TBR table until a week ago, when I picked it up and decided to take a further look into it.…

Black Loyalists in New Brunswick by Stephen Davidson

Gone are the days of extolling Canada as the northern terminus of the “Underground Railroad” that served to funnel Black slaves to so-called freedom north of the 49th parallel. Now, thankfully, we are seeing books that put Canada’s treatment of such Blacks under a microscope and the findings are anything but something to be proud of. Another way many Blacks arrived in Canada were on ships that carried them to what is present-day New Brunswick.…

Halifax and Me by Harry Bruce

In 1971, Harry Bruce, recognized as one of Canada’s top non-fiction writers, lost his mind—according to his peers—when he left bustling, lucrative Toronto and moved his family to the tough little seaport of Halifax. Harry was already acquainted with Halifax; at eighteen, he lived at HMCS Stadacona as an officer-cadet in the Royal Canadian Navy. He joined the navy chiefly to lose his virginity.

Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence by Pam Palmater

In the introduction to Warrior Life, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair explains that in Anishnaabemowin, the word for warrior, ogichidaa, means a person “who dedicates their entire life to building, sustaining and protecting community” (ix). Pamela Palmater embodies this practice in her life, and also in this book.

Warrior Life is a collection of Palmater’s essays previously published in journals and blogs, including Indigenous Nationhood, Lawyer’s Daily, and Maclean’s.…

On This Day: 365 Tales of History, Mystery, and More by Dale Jarvis

In On This Day: 365 Tales of History, Mystery, and More, author Dale Jarvis offers a veritable buffet of factoids and history pertinent to Newfoundland and Labrador. Self-described as “weird little pieces of half-forgotten history and folklore from all over Newfoundland and Labrador, one for every day of the year,” (p. 2) the book is structured by calendar date, starting January 1 and running through to December 31.…

Planet Digby: Future Landscapes by H.M.S. Smith

I’ve just spent some quiet time poring over Planet Digby, and I had to keep telling my brain I was looking at photographs and not paintings. The collection of images – photographs of reflections of fishing boat hulls in Digby harbour – is complemented by a selection of poetry and even Biblical passages. Together, the photos and poems act as a commentary on the Earth, its ecological changes and humankind’s relationship with the two.…

A Few Feet Short: an Uncommon Journey to Everest by Jamey Glasnovic

It’s official: I’m scared shitless.

Writes author Jamey Glasnovic in his opening salvo of A Few Feet Short, the story of his Nepalese trek. And with that, I’m hooked, wanting, needing to know more. I like an author who says what they feel—really feel—not diluted or dowsed in vanilla to avoid offending. I remember advice from Stephen King’s On Writing, words to the effect of, “Don’t say things like defecate.…

What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism by Teresa Hedley

Lauded by autism leaders and practitioners as “relatable, insightful, joyful and inspiring,” What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism tells the tale of Erik from womb to emerging adult. Written with compassion, humor and keen observation, we are taken inside the shoes of autism and invited to link arms with the Hedley family as they nurture Erik from boy to man.

Heard Amid the Guns by Jacqueline Larson Carmichael

Grandpa Tom, my paternal grandfather (a couple of marriages in) served in the First World War, one of the thousands of underage Canadian kids who lied about their birthdates and enlisted, getting themselves a buzzcut, rifle, and what was, for most, a one-way ticket to the world’s worst Grand Tour. Like every soldier they felt, in part, they were doing their duty—for queen and country in this case, and to keep perceived evil at bay.…

Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World by Hana Shafi

I can’t say enough about Hana Shafi’s latest book, Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty. It is a treasure of a book; the balm for a tumultuous year.

The subtitle of the book is Affirmations for the Real World, but in the introduction, Shafi assures us that this is no book of advice. Rather, she offers affirmations and reflections as a means of reminding us that we are not alone, even when we feel unloved, awkward, or unable to sleep because we’re busy remembering every embarrassing thing we did when we were 11 years old.…

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard

Policing Black Lives is the work of Montreal-based Black feminist activist and educator, Robyn Maynard. Maynard brings her considerable expertise to this book, which is packed with information about the history and continued oppression of Black people in Canada. Policing Black Lives offers a frank and exceptionally well-researched perspective on the true nature of Canada’s relationship with its Black citizens which began with the forced migration and enslavement of Black people, and continues to this day with systemic oppression in many Canadian institutions.…

The Borders of Normal by Manuel Matas, M.D.

As an experienced psychiatrist, Dr. Manuel Matas is very familiar with the science of the human brain—as well as the possibilities that exist beyond the known borders of consciousness. He has never been a classic rationalist, as he himself has experienced phenomena that defy logic and the explanations of Western medicine. In The Borders of Normal, Dr. Matas reveals just how accepted (and studied) many of these phenomena are, providing a compelling overview of influential thinkers who have, over the years, recognized events and experiences that fall outside the realm of current scientific thought.

Invisible Wounds: The emotional journey of a police officer’s battle with PTSD by Norm DeVarennes

Mr. DeVarennes tells us, in detail, of the emotional ups and downs of being a police officer and the heavy toll it takes on a person’s mental health.

This story is an eye-opener of what a police officer faces when he leaves for work. It is no wonder the situations they encounter can have such a devastating effect on a person, be they in the military, a first responder of a police officer.…

The Painted Province by Joy Laking

The first time I ever saw a Joy Laking painting was many years back when scrolling through the internet.   There before me was her image of – Joan’s Chairs.  I immediately looked up the artist and found her website.  I have been a fan of hers ever since. This painting is included in her book The Painted Province and it was wonderful to see it again here.…

Daring, Devious, and Deadly: True Tale of Crime and Justice from Nova Scotia’s Past by Dean Jobb

Historical non-fiction can sometimes present itself as a stained parchment paper timeline of facts, the kind that is best saved for a game of trivia or a college term paper. Other times, it can deliver as a timely, fascinating excursion. In this case, Daring, Devious, and Deadly is definitely the latter as an easy, must-read work. Author Dean Jobb does an extraordinary job of winding several notorious, landmark cases in Nova Scotian history into a book that should be on every Canadian History bookstore shelf.…