amazon.ca

Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books

Blog

Winning Books: Spring 2017

Every year, as spring arrives across the country, Canadian writers and readers celebrate the best of CanLit with prizes and awards from different regions and genres, but there's nothing specialized about any of it. These books are for everyone, and we at 49th Shelf relish every second these great books get to spend in the spotlight. So much so that we want to let it shine a little longer with a look at the titles that have been big winners lately. 

(Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post in the weeks to come, once the winners of the Alberta Literary Awards have been announced, and the Trillium Book Awards, and more. The job of celebrating Canadian books is never done—which is just the way we like it.) 

*****

If I Were in a Cage I'd Reach for You, by Adele Barclay

Winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (BC Book Prizes)

About the book: If I Were in a Cage I'd Reach Out for You is a collection that travels through both time and place, liminally occupying the chasm between Canadiana and Americana mythologies. These poems dwell in surreal pockets of the everyday warped landscapes of modern cities and flood into the murky basin of the intimate.

Amidst the comings and goings, there's a sincere desire to connect to others, an essential need to reach out, to redraft the narra …

Continue reading »

Great Companions

If you're going to read one book this summer ... why not read two? 

As fascinating as books themselves are the connections between books, the curious ways in which books inform and echo each other, creating strange synergies completely outside of their authors' purview. In celebration of these connections, we've made great pairings of recent Canadian books of note—ideal literary companions. 

*****

Kickass Women

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, by Hope Nicholson, and Sputnik's Children, by Terri Favro

One book is an illustrated compendium of the amazing women who've been part of comics history for decades, and the other is a novel about a fictional comics creator/heroine. Both are galvanizing, rich stories of feminism and awesomeness. (Check out our Q&A with Hope Nicholson about her book.

About The Spectacular Sisterhood of SuperwomenA woman's place is saving the universe.

 
Think comic books can’t feature strong female protagonists? Think again! In The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen you’ll meet the most fascinating exemplars of the powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female characters who’ve populated comic books from the very beginning. This spectacular sisterhood includes costumed crimebusters like Miss Fury, super-spies like Tiff …

Continue reading »

20 Life Stories Rocking Our World This Spring

This month we're curling up in our proverbial chairs with life stories, biography and memoir, stories that run the gamut and take you all over Canada and beyond. Here are twenty compelling life stories that are rocking our world this spring. 

*****

I Hear She's a Real Bitch, by Jen Agg

About the book: Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg, the woman behind the popular The Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar, Rhum Corner, and Agrikol restaurants, is known for her frank, crystal-sharp and often hilarious observations and ideas on the restaurant industry and the world around her. I Hear She's a Real Bitch, her first book, is caustic yet intimate, and wryly observant; an unforgettable glimpse into the life of one of the most interesting, smart, trail-blazing voices of this moment.

Why we're taking notice: More books about kick-ass, talented women, please. This book is getting so much buzz. 

*

The Unfinished Dollhouse, by Michelle Alfano 

About the book: No mother is prepared for the moment when a child comes out to her as a person whose physical gender is out-of-keeping with his e …

Continue reading »

13 Picture Books to Fall in Love With This Spring

These gorgeous books will warm your heart, and whoever you're reading them to will like them just as much as you do. 

*****

Under the Umbrella, by Catherine Buquet, Marion Arbona, and Erin Woods 

About the book: The weather has never been worse. The man with the stormy heart is soaked and he's going to be late! His mood is as black as the sky. Outside a nearby patisserie, a little boy stands under the shelter of its awning, gazing at the beautiful treats on display. When the wind snatches the man's umbrella and drops it at the child's feet, can this hasty curmudgeon slow down long enough for an unlikely friendship to blossom?

Catherine Buquet's touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbona's bold and stylish illustrations, celebrates intergenerational friendship and the magic of sharing. It also reminds children and adults alike that bright moments can be found on even the gloomiest of days.

*

A Horse Named Steve, by Kelly Collier

About the book: “Steve is a fine horse,” begins Kelly Collier's clever picture book. “But he thinks he cou …

Continue reading »

Poetry Must-Reads for Spring

Poetry collections are to springtime what ripe peaches are to late summer, and let me tell you: the crop this year is splendid. Let the juice run down your chin. 

******

No TV For Woodpeckers, by Gary Barwin

About the book: In the pages of Gary Barwin's latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world.

Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us—that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of "nature" and "the animal."

As philosophical as it is entertaining—weaving together threads of surrealism, ecopoetics, Dada and more—No TV for Woodpeckers is a complex and multi-layered work that offers an unexpected range of pleasures.

Why we're taking  notice: Barwin w …

Continue reading »

Writing the World

Stories of travel, migration, immigration, and what we can learn by going to find ourselves in places where we don't belong.

*****

Wanderlust: Stories on the Move, by Byrna Barclay

About the book: Readers of Wanderlust, an anthology of travel stories, will at once feel that need to roam, the longing for surprise, the thrill of just recognizing the threat of danger, and the nomadic impulse simply to move oneself for the sake of moving, that restless and endless quest for a new beginning—even if it means the end of one life and the start of a new one.

In every story a character embarks on a journey of discovery. They travel through the Nordic Viking age, experience family life in Italy, interpret the Lascaux Caves in France, climb Nicaragua’s volcanoes, undertake a road trip through the villages of Mexico, and finally are brought back to the Canadian prairies. Editor and contributor Byrna Barclay draws inspiration from the philosophers who expounded on the theory that, rather than change, a person simply becomes more of what he or she already was at birth.

Why we're taking notice: Award-winning writer Barclay has assembled this collection of travel writing from other Saskatchewan-based writers. There are stories that will take you somewhere, and give you the urge f …

Continue reading »

The One-of-a-Kind List

There are some writers who write books close to home, writers who celebrate the domestic, the ordinary, the way that a singular sliver of sunlight can shine off a china plate. The kind of authors who write about dust motes, you know? 

And then there are the authors on this list whose weird and wonderful books get at the more peculiar, singular elements of human experience. Truly these books and their characters are one-of-a-kinds. 

*****

No TV For Woodpeckers, by Gary Barwin

About the book: In the pages of Gary Barwin's latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world.

Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us—that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of " …

Continue reading »

Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2017 Poetry Preview

In February it's necessary to be looking ahead toward brighter, sunnier things, and so we're dreaming of April, daffodils, and National Poetry Month. Spring heralds the arrival of so many fantastic poetry collections, and these are the ones we're most anticipating. 

*****

Book Cover No TV for Woodpeckers

The latest title in Wilfred Laurier University Press’s Poetry Series is Certain Details: The Poetry of Nelson Ball, selected by Stuart Ross. In the pages of Gary Barwin's latest collection, No TV for Woodpeckers (April), the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. Linda Besner’s Feel Happier in Nine Seconds (April) is a collection of poems in pursuit of knowledge and joy. In her second collection of poetry, Passage (out now), Gwen Benaway examines what it means to experience violence and speaks to the burden of survival. Roo Borson’s Cardinal in the Eastern White Cedar (March) is the latest from this Griffin Prize winner, completing her triptych of recent books. Stephen Cain’s new collection is False Friends (March), in which he takes inspiration from the linguistic term “false friends”—two words from different languages that appear to be related, but have fundamentally different meanings. 

Continue reading »

Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2017 Non-Fiction Preview

History, memoir, cookbooks, essays on food culture, politics, plus books on birds, baseball, royal babies and bike rides. And that's just some of what's on offer by CanLit for non-fiction during the first half of 2017. Read on! 

*****

Celebrated restauranteur Jenn Agg tells her story of life in the restaurant industry in I Hear She’s a Real Bitch (April). In Michelle Alfano’s intimate memoir, The Unfinished Dollhouse (May), Alfano recounts her experience as the mother of a transgender child. Marianne Apostolides' memoir about abortion, Deep Salt Water (March), includes a series of collages by visual artist Catherine Mellinger. In My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell (out now), Arthur Bear Chief depicts the punishment, cruelty, and injustice that he endured as a residential school student and then later relived in the traumatic process of retelling his story in connection with a complicated claims procedure. And You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead (February), by Hamilton Spectator columnist Paul Benedetti, puts on a humorous spin in the realities of modern family life. 

Book Cover Sugar Ride

Continue reading »

Historical Fiction to Read This Spring

An excellent crop of historical fiction is being published by Canadian authors this spring, and we recommend these titles not just because of how they exemplify the best of the genre, but also for how they play with it, and with our notions of both history and fiction—making the past come to life and illuminating the present. 

*****

The Widow's Fire, by Paul Butler (JUNE)

About the book: The Widow's Fire explores the shadow side of Jane Austen's final novel Persuasion, disrupting its happy ending and throwing moral certainties off balance. We join the action close to the moment when Austen draws away for the last time and discretely gives an overview of the oncoming marriage between heroine Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. This, it transpires in The Widow's Fire, is merely the beginning of a journey. Soon dark undercurrents disturb the order and symmetry of Austen's world. The gothic flavor of the period, usually satirized by Austen, begins to assert itself. Characters far below the notice of Anne, a baronet's daughter, have agendas of their own. Before long, we enter into the realm of scandal and blackmail. Anne Elliot must come to recognize the subversive power of those who have been hitherto invisible to her—servants, maids and attendants—before she can d …

Continue reading »

Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2017 Fiction Preview

New year, new books: so many of them! Here are some of the fiction titles that will be rocking your world during the first half of 2017. 

*****

Book Cover Bad Endings

Kelley Armstrong follows up City of the Lost with A Darkness Absolute (February) and more page-turning suspense. With her debut story collection, Bad Endings (March), Metis/Icelandic writer Carleigh Baker makes light of the dark and takes readers out of Vancouver into the wilds of BC. Anais Barbeau-Lavalette's Suzanne, translated by Rhonda Mullins, is 85 years of art and history through the eyes of a woman who fled her family—as re-imagined by her granddaughter; it was a winner of the Prix des libraires du Québec and a bestseller in French. Wilful Desire (April) is the fifth book in the successful Heart’s Ease Newfoundland romance series by bestselling author Victoria Barbour. Paul Butler’s The Widow’s Fire (June) explores the shadow side of Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion, disrupting its happy ending and throwing moral certainties off balance. Celebrated Saskatchewan writer Bryna Barclay edits an anthology of travel fiction, Wanderlust (April). And Donna Alward's Somebody Like You (February) is the first title in her brand-new romance series.

Continue reading »