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On Our Radar: Books With Buzz

Being a gay woman in Jamaica, rebuilding bodies after WW1, poetic murmurations, our place in the cosmos, and an adorable picture book about embracing new experiences! 

"On Our Radar" features books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.


Book Cover Broughtupsy

Broughtupsy, by Christina Cooke

About the book:  Akúa is returning home to Jamaica for the first time in ten years. Her younger brother has died suddenly, and Akúa hopes to reconnect with her estranged older sister, Tamika. Over three fateful weeks, the sisters visit significant places from their childhood where Akúa spreads her brother’s ashes. But time spent with Tamika only seems to make apparent how different they are and how alone Akúa feels.

Then Akúa meets Jayda, a brash stripper who reveals a different side of Kingston. As the two women grow closer, Akúa is forced to confront the difficult reality of being gay in a deeply religious family, and what it means to be a gay woman in Jamaica. Her trip comes to a frenzied and dangerous end, but not without a glimmer of hope of how to be at peace with her sister—and herself.

By turns diasporic family saga, bildungsroman, and terse sexual awakening, Broughtupsy asks: What are we willing to do for family, and what are we willing to do to feel at home?

What's the buzz: Read Robert Wiersema's rave review in The Toronto Star


Book Cover The Roosting Box

The Roosting Box: Rebuilding the Body after the First World War, Kristen den Hartog

About the book: “A hospital ... is like a roosting box: a communal space that provides ideal but temporary shelter for [the] vulnerable.”

In the aftermath of the First World War, a cash register factory in the west end of Toronto was renovated to treat wounded soldiers returning from war. From 1919 to the 1940s, thousands of soldiers passed through its doors. Some spent the remainder of their lives there.

The Roosting Box is an exquisitely written history of the early years of the Christie Street Hospital and how war reshaped Canadian society. What sets it apart from other volumes is the detail about the ordinary people at the heart of the book: veterans learning to live with their injuries and a world irrevocably changed; nurses caring for patients while coming to terms with their own wartime trauma; and doctors pioneering research in prosthetics and plastic surgery or, in the case of Frederick Banting, in a treatment for diabetes.

Naming chapters after parts of the body, den Hartog chronicles injuries and treatments, and through the voices of men and women, the struggles and accomplishments of the patients and staff. The cast of characters is diverse — Black, female, Indigenous, and people with all sorts of physical and mental challenges — and their experiences, gleaned from diaries, letters, service records, genealogical research, and interviews with descendants, are surprising and illuminating.

An unusual mix of history and story, The Roosting Box offers deeply personal perspectives on healing in the aftermath of war.

What's the buzz: Read an excerpt on the Christie Street Hospital's "roof ward" with its sunshine cures at Legion Magazine.


Book Cover Precedented Parroting

Precedented Parroting, by Barbara Tran

About the book: Opening with an exit, the poems in Precedented Parroting accept no assumptions. With the determination and curiosity of a problem-solving crow, this expansive debut plumbs personal archives and traverses the natural world, endeavouring to shake the tight cage of stereotypes, Asian and avian. Praised as “lively and intelligent" and “lyrically delicious," Barbara Tran's poetry offers us both the keen eye and grace of a hawk, “red-tailed gliding / on time."

What's the buzz: Check out the excerpt on


Book Cover Cosmic Wonder

Cosmic Wonder: Our Place in the Epic Story of the Universe, by Nathan Hellner-Mestelman

About the book: Even if people sometimes argue over the pettiest things, we all have our curiosity in common. The universe is a stupendous place that has no obligation to make sense to us. Just think about it: we're living on a tiny planet that's hurtling around a star which is whirling through a galaxy that's careening through the cosmos at absurd speeds. We humans only appeared 100,000 years ago in our universe's 13.8-billion-year-long backstory. In the big picture, we're newcomers to the cosmos—and our entire planet is nothing more than a microscopic speck. Disclaimer warning for an existential crisis!

From science writer Nathan Hellner-Mestelman comes Cosmic Wonder, a humorous and detailed guide to our universe as you've never seen it before.
While our cosmos sounds like a remote and abstract place, we're connected to it in every way. Our atoms were smashed together in the cores of exploding stars. The universe dooms us to a riveting cascade of destruction, humbling us to look at one another with more compassion. Life sprouted on this planet thanks to a series of fantastic cosmic collisions—and we might not be alone in this universe after all.

Come along on a funny, deep, and insightful journey to the edge of the universe and back. From the tiny particles that make up life to the galaxies on the other end of the cosmos, and from the explosion of the Big Bang to the chilling death of the universe itself, Cosmic Wonder is sure to be a rollercoaster ride for your brain.

What's the buzz: Check out Nathan Hellner-Mestelman's "Our Place in the Cosmos" presentation online with the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.


Book Cover Sally's New Look

Sally's New Look, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Dawn Lo

About the book: Sally is going to the groomer!

Lovable pup Sally is looking a little shaggy, so her owners are taking her to the groomer. It smells like a garden and Sally sees brushes and bows galore. Then it's time for a bath. Once she's squeaky clean and blow-dried, Sally gets brushed, snipped and clipped. When her owners arrive—surprise!—everyone has fancy new hairdos!

What's the buzz: Little readers can download the Sally colouring page!