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The Recommend: RomComs, Mysteries, Shoe Sellers, and Icons of CanLit

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of writers Ian Colford (A Dark House and Other Stories), Ariela Freedman (A Joy to Be Hidden), Farah Heron (The Chai Factor), Sky Curtis (Traps), Heidi L.M. Jacobs (Molly of the Mall), and Denis Coupal (Blindshot).

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Ian Colford recommends Alison Watt's Dazzle Patterns

Dazzle Patterns is a quietly seductive novel, set at the time of the Halifax Explosion, which took place on the morning of December 6, 1917. Clare Holmes, a young woman employed in the glassworks, is injured when a window is blown apart by the blast. Fred Baker, a co-worker, takes Clare to the hospital. Clare, alone in the city, longs for her fiancé, Leo, who is fighting in France. But as the war drags on, Clare and Fred frequently find themselves in each other’s company and are taken by surprise when a trusting intimacy springs up between them. Alison Watt, a professional artist, brings her interest in the visual experience to her debut novel. The writing …

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Reading Resilient Women

The Chai Factor, Farah Heron's debut novel, is a fun and entertaining romantic comedy, but underneath the surface is a story of struggle, strength, and resilience. In this recommended reading list, she shares titles whose resilient heroines helped to inspire her own. 

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The Chai Factor is a romantic comedy following Amira Khan, a 30-year-old engineering grad student who comes home to finish her thesis in her grandmother’s house, only to find that her grandmother has rented the basement to a barbershop quartet. As one does, apparently. Hijinks and arguments about noise levels in the basement are inevitable, but what Amira doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the plaid-wearing baritone who is not what she initially assumed him to be.

But although laughs and swoony romance are front and centre in this book, it covers some pretty heavy topics like Islamaphobia, homophobia, workplace sexism, and living up to familial expectations. And at its core, it’s about a woman of colour’s resilience in a world that is not designed to be easy for her.

I’m primarily a romance writer and reader, but books from other genres about strong, resilient women finding ways to thrive amid the harsh realities of the world are huge inspirations for me. Here are some of my favourite …

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