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The Recommend: September 2016

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 month we're pleased to present the picks of authors Caroline Adderson (Ellen in Pieces), Kate Taylor (Serial Monogamy), Edeet Ravel (The Saver), Anna Leventhal (Sweet Affliction), and Shari Lapeña (The Couple Next Door).

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Caroline Adderson recommends Kerry Lee Powell’s Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

Set in grody strip clubs and greasy spoons, peopled with “tramps and lunatics,” “an assortment of creeps and lowlifes with bad breath,” battered girlfriends, and Soviet-scarred chamber maids, this energetic collection presents a “raw humanity defiantly festive in the face of poverty and despair.” Powell, also a poet, is a painterly prose writer, not just in her many references to visual art, but her gorgeous images. One character lives alone in a sagging house “surrounded by the upturned scarabs of old snowmobiles.” A husband lurking in a dark corner is “filleted by shadows from the Venetian blinds.” But what makes this book so striking i …

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The Recommend: May 2016

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 authors Tricia Dower (Becoming Lin); Nadia Bozak (Thirteen Shells); Teva Harrison (In-Between Days); and author, editor, and blogger Kerry Clare (The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood).

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Tricia Dower recommends For Your Own Good, by Leah Horlick

I bought this poetic memoir because of the cover, featuring a gorgeous, creepy illustration by Thomas Shahan. It turns out to foreshadow the dark material within. I’m not an expert on poetry. I can’t tell you how a poem does what it does. I can only tell you the effect it has on me. Horlick’s collection of forty-nine poems grabbed me by the gut. Five poems in, I was pressing my lips together, afraid for the narrator, tense with foreboding. For Your Own Good unveils an account of abuse both devastating and redemptive. I almost hate to tell you that because part of the power for me in this collection was discovering the truth of it. Within the queer community, the word is this is an impor …

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The Recommend: April 2016

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 authors Andrew Forbes (The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays), Peter Behrens (Carry Me) and Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus and soon, The Voodoo Killings); librarian Jamie-Marie Thomas; and me (Kiley Turner).

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Andrew Forbes recommends A Token of My Affliction, by Janette Platana

I want to say that Janette Platana's excellent story collection A Token of My Affliction is a funhouse mirror on domestic life, but that's not quite right. It's not a cracked mirror, either. I'm flipping through all the mirror metaphors here, and none fit. What it is is a magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.

“Invisible Friends” begins with a sequence which deploys the language of crime reportage to describe in unsettling fashio …

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The Recommend: January 2016

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 memoirist Brian Brett (Tuco); author Amy Jones (upcoming We're All in This Together), author Ursula Pflug (Motion Sickness), former Ontario premier and Liberal Party leader, Dalton McGuinty; author John Bart (Middenrammers); and poet Adebe DeRango-Adem (Terra Incognita).

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thegoldeaters

Brian Brett picks Ronald Wright's The Gold Eaters

A recent reading treat for me has been Ronald Wright’s The Gold Eaters, a novel that’s both informative and gripping.

Long known as one of the top scholars of Meso-American civilization, Wright caught my attention with the lyrical Time Among The Maya, and I invited him to give a reading on Salt Spring Island where I like to think we became friends, and I’ve followed his career since, including his impressive novels, A Scientific Romance and Henderson’s Spear.

The Gold Eaters tells the story of Waman, a young man who sneaks away on a fishing boat and is captured by the first wave of Pizarro’s conquistadors, becomin …

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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.

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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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The Recommend: July 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 Chelsea Rooney, author of the acclaimed first novel Pedal; Daniel Allen Cox, author of two Lambda Award-nominated novels and the new book Mouthquake; Kevin Hardcastle, much-published short story writer and author of the upcoming collection Debris; Chadwick Ginther, creator of the award-winning Thunder Road trilogy; and Teri Vlassopoulos, whose short story debut, Bats and Swallows, was a Danuta Gleed finalist and whose forthcoming novel is Escape Plans.

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Chelsea Rooney picks Nancy Lee’s The Age

In the 1980s myriad panics—both real and imagined—swept across North America. An untameable disease killed people by the tens of thousands. Crack cocaine flooded and ravaged the cities’ most embattled poor. Primetime television reported breathlessly on rumoured Satanic cults. And the threat of nuclear war reached its fever pitch, with WWIII imminent.

Nancy Lee’s The Age tells one story from this generation’s most vulnerable: its youth. …

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The Recommend: May 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 Steve Burrows, author of the birder mystery, A Siege of Bitterns; Gail Bowen, author of the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve mysteries; Julie Joosten, author of the poetry collection Light Light; Diana Davidson, author of the historical fiction novel Pilgrimage; and Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors.

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Steve Burrows picks The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany, by Graeme Gibson

"As symbols and muses, omens and deities, birds have always been an inspirational part of the human experience. Graeme Gibson’s book is a fascinating overview of the many varied forms the relationship between birds and humans has taken throughout the ages. But this book is more than just a celebration of the positive. It examines the entire spectrum of the human connection with birds, and provokes sober reflection at times. Some of the entries are profoundly moving, even disturbing, b …

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The Recommend: March 2015

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 Robert Hough, author of the upcoming The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan; Nina Berkhout, author of The Gallery of Lost Species; Harry Karlinski, author of The Evolution of Inanimate Objects; Ann Dowsett Johnson, author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcoholand Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors.

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Robert Hough picks Black Bird, by Michel Basilières

"I’m not exactly sure how I discovered my favourite Canadian novel, though I’m pretty sure I have my editor at the time, a legend named Anne Collins, to thank. In my memory, we were at some industry party—likely a sweaty Harbourfront affair—when she pulled me over and, in a slightly conspiratorial voice, said, 'There’s a book coming out I think you’re going to like.'

The year was 2003. The title was Black Bird and it was the first title by a Montreal native named …

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The Recommend: November 2014

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 author and magazine editor Gary Stephen Ross (Stung); YA author and Penguin Canada marketing and publicity manager, Vikki VanSickle (Summer Days, Starry Nights); 2014 Governor General's Poetry Award finalist Garth Martens (Prologue for the Age of Consequence); playwright, novelist, and actor Sean Dixon (A God in Need of Help); and author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors, Steve Stanton (The Bloodlight Chronicles).

Gary Stephen Ross picks David Macfarlane’s The Danger Tree

“A quarter-century ago, I was lucky to be the editor of David Macfarlane’s The Danger Tree, a book that was one of the first our company* published. As I worked on it, I wondered whether that fact was warping my judgment; whether, because I so hoped it would be brilliant, I was seeing brilliance in the merely competent. But how to explain the tears that welled up as I made my way through the manuscript?—tea …

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The Recommend for September

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 Mike Petrou, Maclean's journalist and award-winning author of Is This Your First War? Travels Through the Post-9/11 Islamic World; Frances Peck, partner with West Coast Editorial Associates and author of Peck's English Pointers; Jennifer Kervin, TO-based bookseller and publishing professional; Christine Fischer Guy, author of the new novel, The Umbrella Mender, and many acclaimed short stories; and Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors.

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Mike Petrou picks Alistair MacLeod's The Lost Salt Gift of Blood

"Alistair MacLeod achieved his greatest international accolades for his first and only novel, No Great Mischief, published in 1999, but it is in his short stories, and especially those in his first collection, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, that his writing is its most evocative, limpid, and heart wrenching.

'I am speaking now of a July in the ear …

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The Recommend: August 2014

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 acclaimed mystery writer Deryn Collier (Open Secret); short story sensation Doretta Lau (How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?); Kobo merchandising director, Nathan Maharaj; Governor General's Award-nominated poet David McGimpsey (L'il Bastard); and John Vigna, whose debut novel, Bull Head, was a contender for the Danuta Gleed Award.

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Deryn Collier picks Giles Blunt's Forty Words for Sorrow

"I read Forty Words for Sorrow again this week, just to make sure it was the book I wanted to recommend to you. From the first paragraph, in which Giles Blunt touches his readers down in 'the very definition of winter'—Algonquin Bay in February—I was entranced. Again. I've read this book at least three times. And we're talking a crime novel here. I remember how it ends. 

But Forty Words for Sorrow is not just a crime novel. I'd say it's the crime novel. It's Canada's Maltese Falcon. The book that gave Canadian crime w …

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The Recommend: July 2014

It's The Recommend, our monthly series  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 author Bill Gaston (The World); writer and speculative fiction blogger, Christa Seeley; essayist, editor, and digital media professor, Bruce Gillespie; author and teacher Kim McCullough (Clearwater); and Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors.

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Bill Gaston picks In the Slender Margin, by Eve Joseph

"It would be an awful shame if anyone heard a nutshell description of this book—a memoir about death and dying, by someone who worked in hospice for decades—and passed on it because it sounds grim and depressing. Grim and depressing it is not. Open-eyed, yes. Joseph, whose older brother’s death when she was a little girl haunted her and possibly triggered her career in “the death business,” is a poet with a softly musical voice and unflinching gaze. She’s compiled a book of personal anecdotes, lore, reminiscence, and speculation that is by turns harrowing, funny, gentle, and moving-as-can-be.

While Joseph doesn’t take herself as seriously as, say, Didion, her work is in th …

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