Fiction

#724 Postwar gardening therapy

The Vegetable Museum by Michelle Mulder Victoria: Orca Books, 2019 $10.95 /  9781459816794 Reviewed by George M. Johnson * Michelle Mulder cultivates rich soil (sorry I couldn’t resist that) in her middle-grade novel about 13 year-old Chloë Becher, forced to move from Montreal to Victoria with her Dad when her parents separate. Initially she finds…
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#722 A punchy and brilliant debut

Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji Vancouver: VS. Books, an imprint of Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019 $17.95 / 9781551527550 Reviewed by Jenna Butler * Téa Mutonji’s 2019 short story collection Shut Up You’re Pretty is the first book to be released under Arsenal Pulp Press’s VS. Books, a new imprint publishing work by young…
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#720 Masks, midgets, and junk culture

The Ventriloquist’s Dummy Tells All: A Politically Incorrect Novel by Ernest Hekkanen Nelson: New Orphic Publishers, 2019 $20 / 9781894842273 Reviewed by Sean Arthur (Art) Joyce The Ventriloquist’s Dummy can be purchased directly from New Orphic Publishers at 706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C. V1L 4S5. The cost is $25, which includes postage — Ed. *…
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#713 Writing tips from Cowichan

10 Sure-fire Ways to NAIL Your First Draft by Carol Anne Shaw * After several years of reading, scribbling, blogging, Facebooking, and trying to look serious on LinkedIn, I’ve come to realize that this writing-a-novel thing is actually a no-brainer. Because there are only ten necessary rules for success. I’m not lying. (I’ll get to…
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#705 Batten down the hatches

Arrow’s Fall by Joel Scott Toronto: ECW Press, 2019 $18.99 / 9781770414273 Reviewed by John Hutchings * This is the second book by Chemainus-based sailor and author Joel Scott, featuring the further adventures of his principal two characters and their old wooden boat, the Arrow. Having not read the first book, I can attest that…
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#694 My name is Lane Winslow

A Deceptive Devotion: A Lane Winslow Mystery by Iona Whishaw Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2019 $16.95 / 9781771513005 Reviewed by Kim Naqvi * “He doesn’t seem like the romantic type. I mean, he’s kind of old.” “The world is full of mysteries, Constable.” Clever dialogue, and an ear for human flight and fumbles, places Iona Whishaw’s…
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#689 Little Blue Island almanac

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante Montreal: Metonymy Press, 2019 $18.95 / 9780994047199 Reviewed by Paul Headrick * On March 12, 2020, Hazel Jane Plante’s Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) was one of five books shortlisted for the 2020 Jim Deva Prize (for “writing that provokes”) from the BC and Yukon Book…
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#686 Exile on Pleasant Valley Road

Little Fortress by Laisha Rosnau Hamilton, Ontario: Wolsak & Wynn, 2019 $22.00 / 9781928088998 Reviewed by Mary-Ann and David Stouck * What fascinated me as a novelist was how did these women who led these really large lives — these lives that took place all over the world — come to then seclude themselves in…
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#680 All hat and no soapbox

Mad Hatter by Amanda Hale Montreal: Guernica Editions, 2019 $29.95 / 9781771833905 See here for the audiobook Reviewed by Linda Rogers * Don’t judge a book by its cover … at your peril. That’s a song worth listening to but sometimes, and in this case, it is all there, the rabbit’s final bone crushing scream….
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#672 Coastal escapes and departures

Throw Mama from the Boat and Other Ferry Tales by PJ Reece Gibsons: Rolling West Productions, 2018 $16.95 / 9780995323537 Reviewed by Caileigh Broatch * PJ Reece’s book Throw Mama from the Boat: and other Ferry Tales promises to excite and explore with wild imagination from the word go. This is a collection of thirteen neatly…
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#671 Connecting the dots

The Great Happiness: Stories and Comics by M.A.C. Farrant Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2019 $14.95 / 9781772012217 Reviewed by Valerie Green * I’ve learned through the years that book covers can be deceiving. Such was the case with M.A.C. Farrant’s book The Great Happiness, which shows a young girl, some flowers, and a small bird. It enticed…
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#659 Move over Bridget Jones

A One-Handed Novel by Kim Clark Halfmoon Bay: Caitlin, 2018 $24.00 / 9781987915624 Reviewed by Margot Fedoruk * What is the difference between desirability and disability? Author Kim Clark explores these ideas and more in her fast-paced and farcical work of fiction, A One-Handed Novel. The book’s main character, Melanie Farrell, is a forty-something, face-planting,…
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#656 Facing all the ghosts

The Forbidden Purple City: Stories by Philip Huynh Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions 2019 $22.95 / 9781773100784 Reviewed by William New * Editor’s note: We are pleased to report that on February 6, 2020,  The Forbidden Purple City: Stories was shortlisted for the annual George Ryga Award, given to a B.C. writer who has achieved an outstanding…
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#645 The journeys of Eizo Osada

The Return of the Shadow by Kunio Yamagishi London: Austin Macauley, 2018 £6.16 (U.K) $25.95 (Cdn) / 9781786937155  /  Please order from your local bookstore or through Book Depository who offer free worldwide shipping. Reviewed by Patricia E. Roy * In July 2019, The Return of the Shadow, by Comox Valley writer Kunio Yamagishi, was shortlisted…
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#642 Tales of timber and heartwood

Greenwood by Michael Christie Toronto: Penguin Random House, 2019 $35.00 / 9780771024450 Reviewed by Heather Graham * On September 3, 2019, Michael Christie’s Greenwood was longlisted for the 2019 ScotiaBank Giller Prize; on March 12, 2020, Greenwood was a double nominee for the 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prizes: it was shortlisted for both the…
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