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A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover Memoir Conversations and Craft

Dazzling Memoirs

By Marjorie Simmins

Marjorie Simmins, author of MEMOIR: CONVERSATIONS AND CRAFTS, recommends her dream lineup of memoirs.

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For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

By Kiley Turner

Isn't it great when you find a new author or series that fits your reading taste to a tee? Here are a few new books that …

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Book Cover Big Reader

A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Summer Eats: Greek-Style Mussel and Watermelon Salad

Book Cover Mussels

Our Summer Eats series continues with this delicious and unusual salad from the new cookbook, Mussels: Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying a Sensational Seafood, by Chef Alain Bossé and Linda Duncan. Serve this dish at your next barbecue and you're bound to make an excellent impression.




Is there anything more refreshing than a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day? Alain thinks this mussel and watermelon salad makes a pretty refreshing change from a traditional garden salad. The sweetness of the watermelon balances the saltiness of the mussels and feta, creating a perfect balance on the palate.


2 lb (1 kg) mussels

1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine


4 cups (1 L) 1½-inch (4 cm) watermelon cubes

1/2 red onion, julienne

1 English cucumber, diced

24 oregano leaves

24 basil leaves, chopped

24 pitted kalamata olives

1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil

1/4 cup (60 mL) white balsamic vinegar

11/2 Tbsp (22.5 mL) coarse salt

1 Tbsp (15 mL) black pepper

1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese


Mussel Salad Photo


Rinse the mussels under running fresh water. Throw away any that do …

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Summer Eats: Thai Slaw from Flex Appeal

Book Cover Flex Appeal

Just as much as summer is all about throwing meat on a grill, summer is also about salad. This refreshing Thai salad from Pat Crocker and Nettie Cronish's Flex Appeal combines zest and tang for a veritable delight, plus it's from a cookbook that provides happy opportunities for meat eaters and herbivores to gather around the table together.  


Thai Slaw

Cabbage and daikon radish are combined with flavours of Asia. Add an exotic fruit for an extra boost of the Orient. —Pat


3 cups (750 mL) shredded green cabbage

1 cup (250 mL) shredded daikon radish

1 carrot, shredded

1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded rutabaga

3/4 cup (185 mL) Thai Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1/4 cup (60 mL) pumpkin seeds, for garnish


Thai Slaw

Photo by Pat Crocker, from Flex Appeal (Whitecap Books)

In a salad bowl, combine the cabbage, daikon, carrot and rutabaga. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and toss to combine.

Divide among 4 salad plates or bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds.


Thai Vinaigrette 

MAKES 3/4 CUP (185 mL)

1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

2 tsp (10 m …

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Summer Eats: Watermelon, Gin and Thai Basil Granita

Watermelon, Gin and Thai Basil Granita

Photo Credit: Mike McColl

Summer means watermelon and a cold drink of something amazing. This recipe from Chef Adam Hynam-Smith's Curbside: Modern Streetfood from a Vagabond Chef combines both. Get blending. Delicious! 


I recommend using Dillon’s Small Batch Distiller’s Unfiltered Gin 22 for this recipe (available online), as the botanicals in the gin complement the fresh Thai basil and sweet watermelon in the granita without overpowering it with a strong juniper flavour common to some other gins.


1 small seedless watermelon, roughly cubed

1 cup (250 mL) Thai basil leaves

1 cup (250 mL) gin

superfine sugar, to taste

In a blender, purée watermelon and basil until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and combine with gin. Add sugar to desired sweetness. Mix well. Place mixture into a large, shallow, glass casserole dish, and place in the freezer. Allow mixture to freeze completely.

To serve, scrape the surface of the frozen mixture with a fork. Serve in a glass on its own, or use as a garnish for cocktails or other desserts. Store the remaining granita mixture in the freezer, covered tightly with plastic wrap.


Makes 6 cups (1 .5 L) 


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Summer Eats: Cranberry Mousse

Cranberry Mousse

Photo Credit: Tracey Kusiewicz

Here is a refreshing dessert perfectly paired with fresh summer berries from Maria Depenweiller's new cookbook, Russian Cuisine. You can eat it while discussing the virtues of Checkhov versus Munro. 


This light, festive looking dessert can be enjoyed with heavy cream and fresh berries. Add some mint leaves to the garnish for an extra splash of colour.

1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh cranberries

2 cups (500 mL) water

1/2 cup (125 mL) + 2 tsp (10 mL) sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) Cream of Wheat

1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream or whipping cream (approx.)

6 fresh mint leaves (optional)

Place the cranberries in a small saucepan, crush them with a potato masher or fork, add water and sugar, bring to a boil and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to a ceramic or plastic dish and reserve the cooking liquid in the pan. Metal dishes are not suitable as they oxidize the cranberries and give the mousse an off-taste.

Mash the cranberries well and use a fine sieve to separate juice from the skins and seeds. Add the juice to the saucepan with the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil and gradually add the Cream of Wheat, stirring constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Continue stirring and cooking on low heat for 12 minutes.

Po …

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Summer Eats: Roasted Tomatoes from Per La Familiglia

Roasted Tomatoes

Photo Credit: Jonathan Bielaski

In most parts of the country, August is peak-delicious. The peaches are ripe and dripping, corn-on-the-cob is beautiful golden, and the tomatoes are huge and full of flavour. Give your Canadian summer a mediterranean twist with this recipe for roasted tomatoes from Emily Richards' Per La Famiglia: Memories and Recipes of  Southern Italian Home Cooking, setting aside some extra to be enjoyed down the line when the August sun is just a hazy memory.


It is a family tradition to buy bushels of tomatoes to make pasta sauce each year. It is an easy way to save money and enjoy the in-season flavour of tomatoes year round. I always take away about half a bushel to make roasted tomatoes to store away in the freezer. Sweet, dark roasted tomatoes retain a slight juiciness to them. On their own, sit them atop a sliced baguette that has been spread with ricotta or goat cheese for an easy appetizer or add them to soups, stews or pasta dishes.

2 lb (1 kg) plum tomatoes, about 20 (all about the same size)

1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped fresh basil

2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped fresh oregano


Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and …

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