A Dark House and Other Stories by Ian Colford

I never had an opportunity to read Ian Colford’s previous book, Perfect World (2016, Freehand Books), but I had read many positive thoughts about it on social media and elsewhere. For example, Naomi MacKinnon (of Consumed by Ink) said of it in a guest review here: “By writing this book, Ian Colford has given us a chance to vicariously experience a life that is hard for many of us to imagine.” Anne Logan (of I’ve Read This) said of Perfect World in her review: “Colford doesn’t feel the need to show empathy for his protagonist, but his respect for the reader is evident in his succinct and unsentimental sentences.”

A Dark House and Other Stories* is a collection of eight stories covering about 180 pages, so the stories here are not too short, but are long enough for character development, particularly of each protagonist’s thoughts which is a standout characteristic of Mr.… Continue reading

Inquiries: Poems by Michelle Porter

Michelle Porter is a Red River Métis poet, journalist, and editor. She holds degrees in journalism, folklore, and geography (Ph.D.). She currently lives in St. John’s Newfoundland. Inquiries is the debut collection of her poems.

I’m assuming that the book’s title is tied to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The poems within Inquiries are all tied together taking a hard look at the hardscrabble life of a Métis woman and her children eking out an existence near the Red River (and sometimes in NL), moving when the rent cannot be paid, leaving memories and items behind (a dollhouse that wouldn’t fit in the station wagon, gym sneakers left in a school locker).… Continue reading

Blue Bear Woman by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau

Originally published in French as Ourse Bleu in 2007, Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s book has the distinction of being the first novel published in Quebec by an Indigenous woman. Now, English readers have Blue Bear Woman, a translation by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli and published by Inanna Publications.* Blue Bear Woman is a powerful little novel of a mixed blood Cree/Métis woman (Victoria is her given name) searching for the memories of her past growing up in the James Bay area of Quebec.… Continue reading

Melba’s Wash by Reesa Steinman Brotherton

Grand Manan Island is part of the province of New Brunswick and has a population of just over 2,000 (as of 2016). It is also the setting for Melba’s Wash by Reesa Steinman Brotherton, who was born in New Brunswick, and whose own story slightly follows that of Esther, the main protagonist.

It’s difficult to summarize the storyline of Melba’s Wash. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think of Eric Dupont’s Songs for the Cold of Heart: both have similar plots, spanning generations and various settings, and with a mirthful undertone for what is a dramatic story full of poverty, teen pregnancies, more pregnancies, deaths and secrets, lots of secrets.… Continue reading

Summer Shortlisting 2019: Best First Books!

It’s time to start revealing the short-listed titles for the 2019 “The Very Best!” Book Awards!

This year, I thought I would streamline the entire process for selecting books for “The Very Best!” Book Awards. While maintaining a running longlist throughout my reading year, I thought it best to pare that huge list down to two or three books in each category (Best First Book, Short Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction).… Continue reading