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The Recommend: October 2015

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 award-winning poet Lorna Crozier, whose latest book is The Wild in You; Jael Richardson, author and and artistic director of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD); Laura Frey, literary blogger at ReadinginBed.com; Susan Renouf, editor and publishing strategist; Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors; and Jean Marc Ah Sen, author of the debut novel, Grand Menteur.

*****

Lorna Crozier picks Connie Gault’s A Beauty

Connie Gault's new novel, A Beauty, is a beauty from the first page to the last. It’s set in the Dirty Thirties, that decade of drought and hard times in Saskatchewan. It wasn’t only the wheat that shrivelled. So did the human spirit. Gault takes us into the minds and hearts of several small-town people trying to break through despair and the narrowing of their days into some kind of wonder. All of her minor characters are touching and memorable. Th …

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We think we know them, but we have no idea

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Sure, we think we know them. Sarah Leavitt, author of the graphic memoir Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me. She’s the curly-haired cartoon narrator of her own book, which documents her mother’s decline and death from Alzheimer’s Disease. And then there’s Andrew Westoll, primatologist-turned-animal-rights-activist. Though his book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, he’s brought the world the story of his experiences at Quebec’s Fauna Sanctuary, where traumatized chimpanzee victims of medical experiments receive rehabilitation.

But of course, readers have no idea, a reality addressed by both writers in a conversation at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on July 19th. “You Think You Know Me, But You Have No Idea” was presented by Freehand Books, our own Bookmadam, and also Canadian Bookshelf. (A similar event was held on July 20 in Kingston with Leavitt and essayist Susan Olding.) Leavitt and Westoll told the stories of their stories, compared notes, discussed the ethics of memoir and nonfiction, and shattered some illusions about the nonfiction writer’s adherence to truth above all.

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