Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front by Heather McBriarty

Heather McBriarty’s novel, Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front, is a remarkable true telling of what is what like in the trenches during the First World War. It is also a poignant love story.

From letters received by her grandmother, McBriarty shares the budding of a romance between Isobel (her grandmother) and a young man from Nova Scotia, James Johnstone.…

Land Beyond the Sea by Kevin Major

It seems that Newfoundlanders write some of the best historical fiction around (see Gary Collins) and Kevin Major continues to uphold that distinction with Land Beyond the Sea. In my review of his 2016 novel Found Far and Wide, I said that “Mr. Major has left us wanting more, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” So it was with great anticipation that I turned to this, the final book in his Newfoundland Trilogy.…

“Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers”| Canadian Internment Camp B, 1940-1945 by Andrew Theobald

I only knew of the WWII internment camp near Ripples, New Brunswick when I read the book Prisoner of Warren by Andreas Oertel back in 2016. Even then, I didn’t know Canada had so many camps for captured enemy personnel, or as in the case of Camp B near Ripples, enemy sympathizers, many of whom should not have even been held there in the first place.…

Cops in Kabul: A Newfoundland Peacekeeper in Afghanistan by William C. Malone

William C. Malone is a retired RCMP officer who spent a year in Kabul from 2011-2012 as deputy Canadian police commander. It is a little-publicized fact that Canadian police personnel were part of Canada’s NATO commitment; one thinks of the mission as purely a military one. From 2003 to 2014, hundreds of Canadian policemen and women volunteered to spend a year in Afghanistan to assist in the training of the Afghan National Police (ANP).…

A Family of Brothers: Soldiers of the 26th New Brunswick Battalion in the Great War by J. Brent Wilson

On the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Europe, Goose Lane Editions has published a comprehensive volume of the history of the 26th New Brunswick Battalion. Over 250 pages of the battalion’s history, from its formation in 1914 to returning home in 1918.

They fought at Ypres in the fall of 1915, on the Somme at Courcelette and Regina Trench in 1916.…

A Circle on the Surface by Carol Bruneau

While Carol Bruneau’s award-winning 2017 book of short stories, A Bird on Every Tree was excellent and well received (“Her exceptional prose reveals how much there is to discover in the every day” raved Publishersweekly.com), it merely whetted our appetites for one of her full-length works like Glass Voices (2007) or These Good Hands (2015). The wait is over for Nimbus Publishing has released A Circle on the Surface.…

The Land’s Long Reach by Valerie Mills-Milde

This is the book that I was awaiting from Valerie Mills-Milde. I had to patiently wait two years from the time that her exceptional debut novel After Drowning (2016, Inanna Publications) was released. That book won a 2017 IPPY Silver Medal for Contemporary Fiction. Of After Drowning, I stated: “After Drowning is an intriguing, well-paced and mysteriously captivating story of everyday lives impacted by tragic events and the collateral damage they inflict as well as the long road back to recovery and reconciliation.”

Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom by Stephen Gowans

all the wars fought in the twentieth century, the one I was least familiar with was the Korean War. Odd, because my father-in-law served in Korea with Canadian Forces. With Baraka Books’ 2018 release of Patriots, Traitors and Empires by Stephen Gowans came my opportunity to learn more about the history of Korea, how it came to be divided into North and South and so on.…

Come From Away by Genevieve Graham

closely at the cover image of Come From Away (2018 Simon and Schuster). The young woman is Grace Baker, daughter of Danny and Audrey Baker, the main protagonists of Ms. Graham’s hugely successful 2015 novel Tides of Honour. Who is the young blond-haired man? See the submarine in the lower right corner? That’s supposed to be U-69 (although the image is definitely not that of a German WWII-era U-boat).…

I Remain, Your Loving Son: Intimate Stories of Beaumont-Hamel by Frances Ennis (Editor), Bob Wakeham (Editor)

this book is composed of transcripts of two documentaries, with added poems and photographs, it doesn’t really lend itself to any type of review other than to compliment Flanker Press on doing admirable job of assembling and producing this book. Particularly striking is the full-colour insert “Remembering With Rugs” a collection of hand-hooked rugs commemorating aspects of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and that fateful July 1st, 1916 when the entire regiment was machine-gunned down in minutes.…

The Endless Battle: The Fall of Hong Kong and Canadian POWs in Imperial Japan by Andy Flanagan

“At age twenty-five, James Andrew Flanagan began an adventure he believed might add a little excitement to his life…..his exciting journey quickly turned into a never-ending nightmare.” So begins author Andy Flanagan in his introduction to a little told part of WWII: the Battle of Hong Kong that started just hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and ended on December 25th, 1941.…

Behind the Eyes We Meet by Mélissa Verreault

Verreault has a master’s degree in translation from Université Laval in Quebec City and lives in Lévis with her Italian husband and their triplets. She has published three novels in French. Behind The Eyes We Meet is the English translation of L’angoisse du poisson rouge, her first novel to be translated. The translator is Arielle Aaronson.

Behind The Eyes We Meet is several stories in one, that of Sergio (a POW in WWII) and his grandson Fabio, who emigrated to Canada and now resides in Montreal, and Manue (short for Emmanuelle) who discerns that there is something missing from her twenty-something life.…

Gravitational Fields by Harry Rajchgot

“A Novel of Peacetime & War”, Gravitational Fields (2016) by Harry Rajchgot is an epic (450 pages) story that covers the events of the Jewish people from pre-WWII through the struggle to establish the Israeli State to living in Canada. In particular, it is the story of Duvid Grynstzyn (later David Gryn) and how he escaped the small Polish village that was exterminated of Jews by the German army, losing all of his family in a moment of time.…

A Boy From Botwood by Pte. A.W. Manuel

“Generals, colonels, majors, and captains have all written books about the First World War, but in the years that have since come and gone, I have never read or even heard of one that was written by a sergeant, a corporal, or a private, the lowly common front-line foot soldier.”

are the words of Private Arthur.W. Manuel who served in the First World War (or the “Great War” as it was then known) with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment from 1914-1919.…