My 22 Recommended Reads of 2017

Many book-ish sites this time of year take time to reflect back on some of the standout reads from the past year. Here is my list of recommended reads of 2017. I can recommend them all with out hesitation. (Books that won a 2017 “Very Best!” Book Award are marked with an * asterisk. Some titles are on the 2018 longlist for the award; I had finished reading them after awarding the 2017 winners.)

Fiction (in no particular order)

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Most Anything You Please by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole

Most Anything You Please (2017, Breakwater Books) is the first book I have read by Ms. Morgan-Cole and it is a solid saga of the Holloway family through several decades. The author was born in, and still lives in the Rabbittown neighbourhood of St. John’s:

“Over the years, I’ve discussed with many friends the fact that, when we were growing up in the 1970s, there was a family-owned convenience store on every corner, most of which have since disappeared.… Continue reading

Wall of War cover

Wall of War (A Drake Alexander Adventure) by Allan Hudson

Wall of War is New Brunswick author Allan Hudson’s follow-up to Dark Side of a Promise and is the second book in the Drake Alexander Series. I read Dark Side of a Promise, a copy of which was kindly provided by Mr. Hudson approximately one year ago, in December 2016.

While action-adventure novels are not typically my genre of choice, I nevertheless found it a ‘good read’ stating (at Goodreads):

“If you like action, adventure in various locales and don’t mind f-bombs, violence, sexual abuse and other disquieting themes then Dark Side of a Promise will appeal to you.”

I’m happy to say none of the above is applicable to Wall of War (aside from having action and adventure in different locales).… Continue reading

How Maine Changed the World by Nancy Griffin

state of Maine, on the extreme northeastern tip of the United States, ranks quite low in population density (41st amongst the other states) and with only a little over 1.3 million residents, it seems improbable that it could have (or does) contribute much to the world outside of it’s 36,000 square miles. (Source: http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/maine-population/)

Perhaps that is why a book such as How Maine Changed the World: A History in 50 People, Places, and Objects (2017, Down East Books) will come as a surprise to those who read it, even “Mainers”.… Continue reading

Where Eagles Lie Fallen by Gary Collins

exceptional 2010 book by Gary Collins, author of The Last Beothuk (2017), Desperation: The Queen of Swansea (2016), Left to Die (2014), and several others (all titles Flanker Press). Mr. Collins is a master storyteller and combined with his fastidious fact-checking, his books make for some of the best historical fiction accounts anywhere. However, with Where Eagles Lie Fallen we have a book based on actual events: the fatal crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 on December 12th, 1985 killing all on board, most notably men and women of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S.… Continue reading

In the Belly of the Horse by Eliana Tobias

the her “Acknowledgements” section at the back of In the Belly of the Horse (2017, Inanna Publications), Ms. Tobias thanks “the anonymous South American taxi driver for sharing his memories which became the catalyst and inspiration for my story.” While she does not elaborate on this statement, it is easy to see after reading this story that the taxi driver could have been the inspiration for Salvador’s Uncle Tomas.… Continue reading

The Malahat Review Issue #200

Malahat Review is among Canada’s leading literary journals. Published quarterly, it features contemporary Canadian and international works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction as well as reviews of recently published Canadian poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction. Issue #200 also marks the fiftieth issue of this exceptional West Coast-based literary journal. Some excerpts from this issue are available online here: http://www.malahatreview.ca/issues/200.html

Of special note:

Emily Carr’s unpublished memoir “Afterglow” in which she relates the “supreme death-beauty” of three individuals she had known, one being her sister Lizzie:

“Lizzie was beyond, beyond, beyond.… Continue reading

New Brunswick at the Crossroads, Tony Tremblay, Editor.

Subtitled “Literary Ferment and Social Change in the East,” New Brunswick at the Crossroads is an attempt to explore the relationship between literature and the society in which it incubates as it pertains to the distinct character of New Brunswick with its bicultural character.

This authoritative reference work examines the literary landscape of New Brunswick and its two dominant peoples, Acadian and English, with the bulk of literature coming out of Fredericton (primarily due to the influence of the University of New Brunswick) and Moncton with it’s Acadian population (and the Université de Moncton).… Continue reading