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Fall book season is exciting with its televised ceremonies and fancy galas, but spring is just as interesting, with regional and specialized prizes highlighting fantastic authors and books from across the country. As you make your summer reading plans, make sure to add some of these great books to the mix.

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Season of Fury and Wonder, by Sharon Butala

Nominated for the 2020 Alberta Literary Awards

About the book: “There are things that it is impossible to learn when you are young, no matter how much you read and study.” The season of fury and wonder, in Sharon Butala’s world, is the old age of women. These stories present the lives of old women—women of experience, who’ve seen much of life, who’ve tasted of its sweetness and its bitter possibilities, and have developed opinions and come to conclusions about what it all amounts to. These are stories of today’s old women, who understand that they have been created by their pasts.

But there’s another layer to this standard-setting example of “cronelit.” Not content to rest on her considerable literary laurels, Sharon Butala continues to push the boundaries of her art. The stories in Season of Fury and Wonder are all reactions to other, classic, works of literature that she has encountered and adm …

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Launchpad: The End of Me, by John Gould

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The End of Me, by John Gould, of which Bill Gaston writes, "John Gould's skill with the short form is miraculous in the way of bonsai, the grand made to bloom within the small. And who knew death could be so wise, invigorating, playful—so richly alive?"

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

A collection of 56 sudden stories—funny, sad, absurd—about mortality.

Describe your ideal reader.

Likes to wonder more than assert, and to inhabit different points of vie …

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Launchpad: War at the Snow White Motel, by Tim Wynne-Jones

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching War at the Snow White Motel, by the award-winning Tim Wynne-Jones, a story collection for middle grade readers.

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

War at the Snow White Hotel is nine stories about kids getting themselves in huge messes and then trying to get out of them, one way or another. You know those totally dumb things you do by mistake or because you just weren’t thinking? Those things! But it’s also about war, the environment, stolen property, ca …

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Launchpad: You Are Not What We Expected, by Sidura Ludwig

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching You Are Not What We Expected, by Sidura Ludwig, which Jami Attenburg calls, “A gorgeous, highly visceral, deeply felt collection of linked stories about how families work—and don’t work—together. The Levine family is unforgettable.”

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

When Uncle Isaac comes back to Thornhill to help is sister care for her two grandchildren, he finds himself embroiled in more neighbourhood drama than he expected in this collection of …

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Launchpad: Swimmers in Winter, by Faye Guenther

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Swimmers in Winter, by Faye Guenther, which Emily Schultz praises: "Guenther traces the paths of women in the city, struggling to survive, keep themselves fed and afloat while also falling hard for each other. In turns sexy and tender, tough and head-swirling, these characters will leave you changed."

The book is currently available as an e-book, and will be out in print in August.

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:.

Swimmers in Winter is a short story colle …

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Launchpad: The Handsome Man, by Brad Casey

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Handsome Man, by Brad Casey, a collection of linked stories declared by Guillaume Morissette to be "a gem that celebrates little blips of happiness and small, elusive moments of genuine human connection."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

I was reading The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez recently and there’s a part where the main character says something about how the novel, or the writing of a story, is an act of killing something and I didn’t entirely agre …

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Launchpad: Hunger Moon, by Traci Skuce

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Hunger Moon, by Traci Skuce, of which Julie Paul writes, "Read these stories and be transported back to the age before internet, to tree planting camps and lakeside holidays, to relentless heat and longing in both near and distant corners of the world, as characters wrestle with transitions and loss and come to a deeper understanding of what it is to be human."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

A collection of 13 short stories th …

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Launchpad: The Swan Suit, by Katherine Fawcett

Logo Launchpad

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Swan Suit, Katherine Fawcett's follow-up to Little Washer of Sorrows, which was shortlisted for the ReLit Short Fiction Award and for a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.

Lisa Moore declares this latest collection "Wicked and charming by turns...nothing short of magical.”

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Book Cover The Swan Suit

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:

The Swan Suit is a collection of twisted, layered tales that examine what it's like to inhabit a body that betrays …

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Nine Evocative Reads

In my stories, I try to recreate a time and place and mood as honestly as I can. I’m most drawn to story collections that do the same—ones that that feel like they could only have been written by someone from a certain time and place that are then brought back to life each time you read them. The collections below are the best examples of this I know.

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Natasha and Other Stories, by David Bezmozgis

It seems silly to say now, but I didn’t read much CanLit until well into my twenties; it wasn’t taught in high school, and I didn’t pick up much after, except for an intense dislike of Robertson Davies, who I took to represent all of CanLit. Released in 2004, Natasha was the first Canadian short story collection that showed me there was good, contemporary, Canadian writing that was up to par with the British and American stuff I’d grown up reading. Set in Toronto and the suburbs in the '70s and '80s, the stories follow a young man growing up with his immigrant family. The setting and characters were as far from my experiences as they could be, but …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with David Bezmozgis

Bezmozgis_David credit-David Franco

Our final conversation in our special Giller Prize edition of The Chat is with finalist David Bezmozgis, author of the short story collection Immigrant City.

(See also our chats with finalists Michael Crummey (The Innocents), Megan Gail Coles (Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club), Ian Williams (Reproduction), and Alix Ohlin (Dual Citizens).

The Giller Prize jury says: “The heart barks like a dog,” writes David Bezmozgis in one of the short stories contained in Immigrant City, and the bark echoes down generations, interrupting the everyday, vibrating with nostalgia and lost memories. In this wise and assured collection, Bezmozgis has reimagined immigrant lives not simply as marked by displacement and discontinuity, but of immigration as a shared and binding experience that crosses the boundaries of race, nationality, occupation, class, politics and even past betrayals, to serve as a point of connection and compassion between Bezmozgis’s characters."

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is the author of Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World, The Betrayers, and Immigrant City. He has been short listed three times for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, including for his latest short story collection, Immigrant City: Stories, and n …

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Endlessly Flowing: Five Books on Water

Watermark, Christy Ann Conlin's latest book, has been a favourite this fall among our editorial team here at 49th Shelf. These spooky, rich, and Gothic tales are gripping and immersive, the entire collection so propulsive. Here, Conlin recommends a handful of other titles that share her own book's preoccupation with water. 

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Hunting Down Home, by Jean McNeil

Jean McNeil, a prolific writer originally from Cape Breton, has lived in the UK for 23 years. Water plays a symbolic role in all her books. “It was a dark shame, floating just beneath the meniscus of history and story and folklore, like the whale I once saw from a plane as we banked into Brisbane, passing beneath the surface of the sun-stuck water, heading up to the Great Barrier Reef,” remembers Morag in McNeil’s first novel, Hunting Down Home. Set partially in Cape Breton, the book tells the story of Morag and her last year living on Boularderie, an island separating the Bras d’Or Lake from the Cabot Strait. It is a rugged island which is a world unto itself, as is the Bras d’Or Lak …

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The Chat with Christy Ann Conlin

Christy Ann Conlin 2018

This week on The Chat, we’re in conversation with acclaimed East Coast writer Christy Ann Conlin. Her superb collection of short fiction, Watermark, is out this month with Astoria. The book is chock-full of Conlin’s trademark Gothic touch and ability to create empathy for her complicated, hard-luck characters.

Kirkus Reviews says Conlin “shows her flair for crafting mystery and suspense ... on the smaller stage of the short story” while the Winnipeg Free Press calls her stories “creepy” and “complex.”

Christy Ann Conlin is the author of two acclaimed novels, Heave and The Memento. Heave was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, and the Dartmouth Book Award. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, longlisted for both the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the American Short Fiction Prize, and appeared in the anthology Best Canadian Stories. She lives in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

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THE CHAT WITH CHRISTY ANN CONLIN

Trevor Corkum: Watermark is a rich and compelling collection, full of Gothic spookiness, deep empathy, and dark Maritime humour. Tell us a bit about how the collection came together.

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