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.…

This Cleaving and This Burning by J.A. Wainwright

This Cleaving and This Burning by J.A. Wainwright is a novel I will never forget.

While overwhelmed with final essays and preparing for my final exam, I could always rely on Wainwright to instantly teleport me away from my worries and into the lives of Hal and Miller, two boys so perfectly developed and well written that I experienced their lives alongside them rather than just reading about them.…

Melt by Heidi Wicks

We meet Jess and Cait, best friends and cusp-millennials, in 2016 during a funeral reception for Jess’s mother. Cait comforts Jess while assessing her own complicated relationship with her husband, Jake.

As Jess notes, “Cait and Jake have been at each other for years. Pick-pick-picking like crows jabbing their beaks into other people’s garbage.” Cait, a CBC host and the more daring of the two, is about to make a significant life decision.…

Swimmers in Winter by Faye Guenther

Faye Guenther’s first collection of short fiction, Swimmers in Winter*, is described as a “trifecta of diptychs.” Any of the six pieces can stand well on their own, or can work in their pairs to flesh out the characters, the timeframe, and the realities of life for queer women in their communities. Offering an exploration of desire that spans the past, present, and future, the collection’s structure and organization is as interesting to contemplate as the stories themselves.…

All I Ask by Eva Crocker

There are novels that feel alive. There is no other way to describe it, because words like ‘fresh’ or ‘current’ are not enough. These novels are more than just a compelling plot or strong writing. They do more than tap into current events or debates. These novels offer access to something made animate on the page, and speak from a perspective that feels somehow deeply familiar and entirely unknown; Eva Crocker’s All I Ask is one such novel.…

Skiing With Henry Knox by Sam Brakeley

Skiing With Henry Knox represents a bit of a departure for Islandport Press of Maine. This book is not written by a Mainer nor does it take place in Maine. However, Skiing With Henry Knox is really not about skiing either, and you certainly don’t have to be a skier to enjoy it. Henry Knox may be best known as the first United States Secretary of War.…

Half-Sisters & Other Stories by Ryan Turner

matters dominate Ryan Turner’s exceptional collection of short fiction, Half-Sisters & Other Stories. The characters in these dramatically subtle, psychologically probing stories are often coping with or reacting to tragic or unhappy events—separation, estrangement, sudden death—and are compelled by circumstance to re-connect in tentative or awkward fashion with family members with whom they may have had little contact and who are largely unknown to them.…

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier by Lesley Choyce

The arresting title of Lesley Choyce’s new book from Dundurn Press* begins to tell the story of Charles Howard, a fifty-five-year-old man with little to show for all his time on earth. No family, no significant other, failed relationships, and out of a job as a journalist since the newspaper he worked for closed down. He’s lost his life’s savings in an altruistic act.…

Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor

I have grown to dislike the overused term “coming of age” but that’s how many reviewers will describe Susie Taylor’s Even Weirder Than Before (2019, Breakwater Books), a chronicle of Daisy Radcliffe’s life journey from Grade 8 through the end of high school in the late 80s/early 90s. Fast-paced, it hits all the highs and lows of the teen years: boring classes, romances, school plays, house parties (and drinking too much), teen pregnancies and more.…

Making it Home by Alison DeLory

in the Maritimes, there were two separate incidents of Syrian families losing their homes to fires. One fire led to the tragic death of seven children. In both instances, the communities they lived in rallied around them and got them back on their feet as far as their material needs went. There are also happier stories of Syrian families making a new life in Canada, starting businesses and so on.…

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.…

You and Me, Belonging by Aaron Kreuter

Toronto’s Tightrope Books continue to publish good short story collections by a very gifted group of authors. Most recently, it was Tread and Other Stories by Barry Dempster and The Colours of Birds by Rebecca Higgins. (Their reviews are here.) They were definite examples of sound literary short stories, and you may add Mr. Kreuter’s You and Me, Belonging to the list.…

Black Beach by Glynis Guevara

Trinidadian Glynis Guevara has now written her second Young Adult (YA) novel, Black Beach, following 2017’s Under the Zaboca Tree. Both titles are published by Inanna Publications. Black Beach is set (like its predecessor) in Trinidad. Tamera is sixteen-years-old and lives with her father and mother in the rural fishing village of La Cresta. Her older sister Mary lives next door with her husband Renwick and their young child Emma.…

The Ambassador of What by Adrian Michael Kelly

As with any university town, Kingston, Ontario has its fair share of writers that call the Limestone City home: Diane Schoemperlen, Merilyn Simonds, Steven Heighton and many more. Add Adrian Michael Kelly to the list. His newest book, The Ambassador of What (2018, ECW Press) is a collection of stories, some previously published, but many appearing in print for the first time.…

The Small Things That End the World by Jeannette Lynes

Jeannette Lynes’ new book about The Small Things That End the World (2018, Coteau Books) begins with two BIG things: Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In between these two monumental storms plenty of “little things” happen to the three main protagonists, Sadie Wilder, Faith Crouch and her daughter Amber. Three generations of women who pluckily face what life serves them up, from Toronto to Thunder Bay to New Orleans, from a tumbledown farm north of Toronto to a strip club to a senior’s care home.…