You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. by Sheung-King

Love can be beautiful and disastrous at the same time. In Sheung-King’s debut novel You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked., he brilliantly evokes the complexities of an intense romantic relationship with the use of lyrical language and folk tales that draw the reader in. “The rain has just stopped and the sky is bright. The birds are singing.…

Boy With a Problem by Chris Benjamin

How does a teenager deal with grief? Where do you turn in the aftermath of tragedy? What can ease the shame of a dark secret? Who can help when things feel helpless? In sparse but emotive prose, Chris Benjamin’s collection of short stories, Boy With a Problem, explores these different kinds of difficult. In a mere 150 pages, the pieces move through grief, abuse, lust, oppression, resignation, shame, family tension, and more.…

Hearts Amok by Kevin Spenst

In language that twists together hobo slang and flights of troubadourish diction, Hearts Amok scrutinizes the history of the love sonnet in Surrey, England and simultaneously celebrates the tickings and tollings of one love-struck heart in Surrey, British Columbia. Examining the underpinnings of love, this book journeys from the Middle Ages to the present where Spenst dates his way through Vancouver to finally find the love of his life.

Crocuses Hatch From Snow by Jaime Burnet

Jaime Burnet’s novel tells an urgent, socially relevant story firmly rooted in time and place. Crocuses Hatch From Snow is first and foremost a novel of Halifax, Nova Scotia, one that addresses the good, the bad and the ugly from the city’s, and the province’s, long history and recent past.

The novel opens in October 2007 with three women watching as their house in the city’s south end—a structure that was home for three generations of the family—is being demolished to make room for a new development.…

Waiting for the Small Ship of Desire by Allan Cooper

I don’t often read poetry, but when I do, I like it to be moderately straightforward and logical, able to reach my heart and stir emotions, buried deep as they are. The poems in Allan Cooper’s latest collection, Waiting for the Small Ship of Desire, fit the bill perfectly. They are clearly written by a poet who has lived and loved enough in his lifetime to confidently spin out some of the most touching words I have read in some time.…

The Place of Us by Karen Draper

Karen Draper and her husband are ecstatic to welcome Preston, their first child, into their lives. Joyful anticipation turns to fear when they are told they must prepare to lose him.

We’ve all lost someone. It hurts. Horribly. Most often we scar, heal, and persevere. It’s hardwired, more or less, into the species. But the efficiency of physiological backup and failsafe systems don’t make the excruciating process of loss any easier.…

Tacet by Suzanne Chiasson

Editions has published Vancouver author and poet Suzanne Chiasson’s first novel, Tacet which at under 200 pages flirts with the novella classification, and due to this brevity, leaves more questions unanswered than answered. It is the story of Charlotte, a singer (of the nightclub type) and Theo, a twentysomething actor who works in a restaurant to pay the rent to his good friend and roommate Curtis.…

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Novels, like love and family, take many forms. On every page of Reproduction, his debut novel, Ian Williams finds ways to resist and defy conventional narrative practice while constructing an audacious and uniquely challenging story that crosses generational lines. In the process, he has written a poignant, resonant tale about intersecting lives and the ways that seemingly trivial decisions can have unexpected and far-reaching consequences.…

The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot by Carolyn R. Parsons

The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot is Carolyn R. Parson’s debut novel for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Flanker Press, and she joins such authors as Ida Linehan Young and Gary Collins as storytellers of the first rank. It is set in 1933-34 in the outport community of Elliot’s Cove just after the Commission of Government took over control of Newfoundland’s governing at the start of the Great Depression.…

Prague by Maude Veilleux, Translated by Aleisha Jensen and Aimee Wall

The publishing world is starting to take notice of Quebec’s fledgling QC Fiction: two Governor General finalists  (Songs for the Cold of Heart and Explosions) and a Giller Prize finalist (Songs for the Cold of Heart) in just the past year is commendable and shows that they are definitely on the right path when selecting titles to translate and publish for the English-speaking world.…

The Philistine by Leila Marshy

Montrealer Leila Marshy is of Palestinian-Newfoundland heritage and The Philistine (2018, Linda Leith Publishing) is her first novel. The Philistine is the story of Nadia Eid, the daughter of a Palestinian father and a Scottish-Canadian woman. Her father, Bishara, lives mostly in Egypt where he works for British Petroleum, so Nadia has seen very little of him over the years. She lives with her boyfriend Daniel, in Montreal the city of her birth.…

The Deserters by Pamela Molloy

Brunswick-born Pamela Molloy’s The Deserters (2018 Véhicule Press) is just about as perfect a story as you can get in under 200 pages. Practically a novella, The Deserters is about Eugenie a woman who inherits her grandmother’s derelict farm in New Brunswick. This is the farm her and her sister Ivy grew up on after they were left orphans by their parent’s death in a car accident.…

The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye

Alida Lye is a writer from Richmond Hill, Ontario. Now living in Toronto, she works at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The Honey Farm is her first novel. (Note: this review is based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by the publisher.

If you like novels that have:

  • Old Testament references and symbolism
  • a sweet love story
  • characters with a certain mystique about them
  • idyllic and remote setting
  • strange occurrences

If you answered “yes” to some or all of the above, then you will enjoy The Honey Farm (2018, Vagrant Press).…

The Effect of Frost on Southern Vines (Stories) by Sandra Bunting

Miramichi’s unofficial poet laureate Sandra Bunting, has just released her first collection of short stories entitled The Effect of Frost on Southern Vines (2016, Gaelog Press). Having lived abroad for many years, Ms Bunting returned to Miramichi in 2011. The stories that make up this volume are primarily set in Ireland, but some, such as the title story are set on this side of the Atlantic.…

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.…