Fiction

1521 House of cards

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding Toronto: Simon and Schuster Canada, 2021 $24.99 / 9781982176877 Reviewed by Zoe McKenna * In front of the window overlooking my own quiet street, it is not at all difficult to imagine the suburban neighbourhood in which Robyn Harding’s The Perfect Family takes place. The Perfect Family is the…
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1516 Memories and caregivers

A Funny Kind of Paradise by Jo Owens Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada (Random House Canada), 2021 $22.95 / 9780735278820 Reviewed by Ginny Ratsoy * An extended care facility in Victoria might seem a claustrophobic setting for a novel, particularly when a stroke has rendered speechless its narrator, Francesca, who inhabits a room with four…
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1509 A twosome from Susan Juby

Me Three by Susan Juby Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada, 2022 $22.99  /  9780735268722 * Mindful of Murder by Susan Juby Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2022 $24.99 / 9781443464437 Both books reviewed by Dana McFarland * “If you follow your dharma, you will bring good into the world.” – from Mindful of Murder by Susan Juby In…
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1508 Panels and palindromes

Swan Song by Sonja Ahlers Wolfville, NS: Conundrum Press, 2021 $20.00 / 9781772620627 Reviewed by Jeff Stychin * Sonja Ahlers’ Swan Song makes me wonder if we’re taking full advantage of the written discourse we use daily to communicate. Ahlers seems to have found an improved precept in which the form of the page becomes…
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1506 The time-lock bandits

Under an Outlaw Moon by Dietrich Kalteis Toronto: ECW Press, 2021 $19.95 / 9781770415478 Reviewed by Alma Lee * This book might never have been written. Dietrich Kalteis was researching for another book and came across the intriguing story of Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. How could an author resist telling this tale of tragic…
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1496 Listening to Ainsley

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada (Berkley), 2021 $22.00 / 9780593100936 Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn * Serena Singh doesn’t want the domestic bliss of a husband and children in her life and she’s ready to show her family that it’s possible to be happy with her new job…
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1492 Postwar Kootenay intrigue

Framed in Fire: A Lane Winslow Mystery by Iona Whishaw Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2022 $16.95 / 9781771513807 Reviewed by Ginny Ratsoy * The past is still, for us, a place that is not yet safely settled. — Michael Ondaatje, from The Faber Book of Contemporary Canadian Short Stories (1990) In the nine Lane Winslow mysteries…
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1489 Jacob McAlister’s suicide

Help! I’m Alive by Gurjinder Basran Toronto: ECW Press, 2022 $22.95 / 9781770416307 Reviewed by Brett Josef Grubisic * On the very surface, Help! I’m Alive isn’t a novel about paucity. After all, there’s the thrum of an urban population busy with careers, errands, appointments, and hobbies. Smooth governance and well-funded infrastructure assure the maintenance…
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1488 A story of consequence

Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene by Jaspreet Singh Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2022 $22.00 / 9781927366974 Reviewed by Danial Neil * A novel of the Anthropocene, a word with great weight, perhaps not easily used in a sentence or casual conversation. Still, it demands you to look, to understand, to fully come to terms with…
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1485 A perilous email rabbit hole

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada (Ballantine Books), 2022 $23.00 /  9780593159071 Reviewed by Zoe McKenna * As the first pages of Lindsay Cameron’s Just One Look unfold, it becomes clear that Cassie Woodson is not to be trusted. The ease with which Cassie learns every intimate detail about a…
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1482 The black cat lives on

For Freedom We Will Fight: The Industrial Workers of the World in British Columbia, 1905-1990 by Larry Gambone Edmonton: Black Cat Press, 2021 $16.00  /   9781926878263 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * B.C.’s Wobblies: A radical union that will not die The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known everywhere as the Wobblies, were once the…
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1479 Play time

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel Toronto: Harper Collins Canada, 2022 $29.99 / 9781443466097 Reviewed by W.H. New * In the first paragraphs of Part 1 of Sea of Tranquility, dated 1912, a young man named Edwin St. John St. Andrew stands ‘with gloved hands’ on the upper deck of a mid-Atlantic steamship,…
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1469 Throbbingly three-dimensional

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles Toronto, House of Anansi, 2019 $22.95 / 9781487001711 Reviewed by Jessica Poon * Everyone has an airplane story; here’s mine: he introduced himself as Alex and he was aggrieved by the state of the world — it was ending, calamitously, and he was…
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1465 Dark Wry

Ghost Geographies: Fictions by Tamas Dobozy Vancouver: New Star Books, 2021 $24.00 / 9781554201792 Reviewed by W.H. New * First off: Tamas Dobozy is a friend, so I’m not completely impartial. But I’ve now read this collection of stories three times, and each time I’m more impressed. This is a major book: serious, wryly humorous,…
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1463 The act of breaking

The Broken Places by Frances Peck Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2022 $24.95 / 9781774390450 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * This is the novel that many Vancouverites have been half-consciously waiting for– just as they have been half-unconsciously waiting for…The Big One. The earthquake that devastates Vancouver in Frances Peck’s The Broken Places is not the big…
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1461 Denman Island calling

The Denman Island Readers & Writers Festival is back — and it will be good by Howard Macdonald Stewart * The Denman Island Readers & Writers Festival is on again this year from July 15-17, with related events beginning July 11. Festival organisers improvised in 2020 and 2021 but now it’s back to our traditional…
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1458 Death at the Yatra Institute

Mindful of Murder by Susan Juby Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2022 $24.99 / 9781443464437 Reviewed by Carol Matthews * There’s no time wasted getting to the murder scene in Susan Juby’s new mystery. The Prologue to Mindful of Murder gives a brief introduction to the victim, Edna Rodd, and by the fifth page we’ve watched her…
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1457 Dial the happy endings

The Voyage of Freydis: The Vinland Viking Saga, Book 1 by Tamara Goranson Toronto: HarperCollins Canada (One More Chapter), 2021 $23.99 /  9780008495336 Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn * Two things about the title of this novel, The Voyage of Freydis, struck me when I first came across it. Firstly, that it was a voyage. That…
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1455 Settlers at the edge of empire

Providence: A Novel. The McBride Chronicles, Book One by Valerie Green Surrey: Hancock House, 2022 $26.95 / 9780888397393 Reviewed by Vanessa Winn * Historian Valerie Green’s debut novel, Providence, is the first of a family saga trilogy. The engaging story is told from the perspective of two protagonists, settlers who make the arduous journey to…
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1454 Clicks and jokes and uproar

Lucy and Bonbon by Don LePan Montreal: Guernica Editions (Miroland): 2022 $20.00 / 9781771837187 Reviewed by Brett Josef Grubisic * Lucy and Bonbon unfolds in intriguing stages, each one with characteristics true to the genre. Though the novel’s irreverent conceits — bestiality, unnatural spawn — are the foundation of the premise and might provoke the…
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