Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Be a Pond Detective

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Biodiversity

By [Kerry Clare]

Books complementing the Grade 6 Biodiversity unit. 

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Book Cover Emperor's Orphans

Sally Ito on The Emperor's Orphans and Family History

By [Kerry Clare]

Sally Ito on the family histories that inspired her as she wrote her new book of creative nonfiction. 

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Book Cover Parallel Prairies

Parallel Prairies: Good Monster Stories Aren’t Really About the Monsters...

By [Kerry Clare]

"A dragon is a visual feast, with its hard scales, fearsome talons and steel-melting breath. But it’s the knights in t …

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Book Cover Some Good

Some Good: Healthy Roast Chicken and Vegetables

By [Kerry Clare]

A healthy roast chicken dinner? Just the thing for autumn nights, and for those of us who are still nursing Thanksgiving …

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Book Cover Pinny in Fall

Five Perfect Picture Books for October

By [Kerry Clare]

The days are growing shorter, but the books have never better. These titles will bring you a bit of spooky, some autumn …

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Shelf Talkers: Read Your Way to a Relaxed Thanksgiving

Shelf Talkers: Read Your Way to a Relaxed Thanksgiving

By [Rob Wiersema]

This Thanksgiving, why not plan a family trip to a local independent bookstore, followed by an afternoon of quiet readin …

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The Chat with Rawi Hage

The Chat with Rawi Hage

By [Trevor Corkum]

Rawi Hage’s latest—the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize-longlisted Beirut Hellfire Society—follows the story of an und …

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Book Cover A Sorrowful Sanctuary

Iona Whishaw: Out of Place

By [Kerry Clare]

"The trauma of war bifurcates the lives of many into branches of what existed before and what remains after; so too can …

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Book Cover the Real Lolita

True Crime: At the Intersection of Law and Literature

By [Kerry Clare]

True crime spotlight, plus fiction and poetry inspired by the genre. 

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Book Cover Counting on Katherine

Exploring Space: Notes From a Children's Librarian

By [Kerry Clare]

Reading the books on this list (which complement the Grade 6 Science and Technology Unit) will result in a thirst for al …

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In Conversation With: Liz Strange on crime fiction and developing her protagonist over a series

Author Liz Strange.

Liz Strange was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, where she still resides. She is a massive horror fan, vampire enthusiast and self-confessed sci-fi nerd. Mythology and historical mysteries have long enthralled her, and you will often find them touched upon in her works. You can find out more about Liz at www.lizstrange.com.

Liz's novel Missing Daughter, Shattered Family has just been shortlisted for an Independent Literary Award, recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers.

Julie Wilson: Your previous novels have been in the horror/vampire genre. Why the jump to crime fiction?

Liz Strange: I have always been a big fan of mysteries and crime fiction, right back to my childhood days of reading the Three Investigators series. I enjoy the works of authors like Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Michael Slade, Karen Slaughter and many others. I had a story idea that I kept coming back to so I just decided to give it a try.

I like playing with the idea that monsters aren’t just stories, or figments of people’s imagination, but that they walk among us every day. People are capable of doing some truly terrible things to other humans, and I wanted to explore that in the novel. This also weaves its way into my protagonist's personal life as well; it was a mon …

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The Fertility Closet: Guest Post by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Book Cover How to Get a Girl Pregnant

Great Aunt Margaret whispered it to me once on a summer afternoon in her apartment. She was in her early nineties by then, and had been more of a grandma to us than our “real” ones. She and Uncle Milo always hugged us, told us they loved us, kept toys at their home for us to play with, cooked turkeys, baked persimmon pudding.

“You know,” she says sipping her tea, “we tried. We tried for years,” she shrugs, “But doctors didn’t know all the stuff they do now.”

I can barely pull my eyes up to make contact with hers. I always wanted to know why she didn’t have kids, given her joy at spending time with us and with the neighborhood kids. I’d asked around the family but nobody seemed to know. Nobody had ever talked about it with her.

“Of course the problems must’ve been from his side of the family, not ours” she chuckles and I see the familiar twinkle in her eyes return.

Her confession came a decade before I hit the fertility market, but her soft words stuck with me. I was sad for my Great Aunt Margaret who had been so generous to her (grand) nephews and nieces, but couldn’t have a baby, and hadn’t adopted. I was sad that it was such a secret, something others gossiped about.

I came to understand just how profoundly silence can shape the pr …

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A Shelf of Small Press Books: a list by Theresa Kishkan

Given the economics of contemporary publishing, it strikes me as something of a miracle that so many small presses continue to publish such interesting and beautiful books. Often they are books that would not be picked up by the larger houses yet they find loyal readers and contribute significantly to literary culture. Sometimes it’s hard to find them. Most small presses can’t afford full-page ads in the nation’s newspapers or publicists. But word travels by mouth, by the passing of these volumes from one hand to another. They’re worth the search.

Dragonflies, by Grant Buday: This brief novel is an account of the period during the Trojan War when Agamemnon asks the crafty Odysseus to come up with something ingenious to bring the bloody conflict to a conclusion. The reader is taken into the heat and sweat of the Greek camp outside the gates of Troy, and into the claustrophobic interior of that iconic horse as the warriors wait for their moment. Superbly written and designed.

The Nettle Spinner

The Nettle Spinner, by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: An elegant weaving of fairy-t …

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In Conversation With: Nutritionist @JulieDaniluk (Meals That Heal Inflammation) talks cravings and the path to healing. (cc: @RandomHouseCA)

Julie Daniluk, author of Meals That Heal Inflammation.

Julie Daniluk, host of Healthy Gourmet.

Walk with me, barefoot in the snow, back to the summer of 2006 where a group of post grad book publishing students have just presented their final project, a hypothetical publishing house. I was one such student and presented a hypothetical title written by a young nutritionist I knew from The Big Carrot in Toronto. Flash forward, and Julie Daniluk—having since added TV Host to her many gigs—has indeed written her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at a Time (Random House).

What better way to catch up with Julie than to ask her a few questions for Canadian Bookshelf?

In particular, we focus on the often complicated and conflicted emotions that accompany a shift in diet, how to counteract the fear and shame of giving our bodies what they need to heal, and how to start that conversation with our loved ones.

Julie Wilson: I'd like to theme the questions, if possible, around the emotional legwork one needs to do to get to healthful place of self-worth, to make a choice that is best for their own mind and body and not the needs of their friends and family. My guess is that there's a lot of shame and fear ass …

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Unlikely Inspirations: Guest Post By Mark Lavorato

 

Things weren’t looking good. I was hitchhiking on a lonely, secondary road in the Maritimes, it had just started to rain, and the night was quickly sinking into the landscape around me, colours taking on ever-dimmer shades of grey. I heard a minivan hissing over the horizon and turned to walk backwards, a half-hearted thumb held out into the road, knowing that, in terms of getting a ride, the odds were certainly not in my favour. A family car, the rain, the dark, the isolation, my beard. I’d be lucky if the driver didn’t speed up just to better spray me on the fly-by.

But this minivan, which looked to be fresh out of a showroom, slowed down, swerved, and came to a stop right in front of me. I opened the door to a hesitant, middle-aged man. “I… I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker before,” he admitted. “Is there some… protocol, something I should be asking you?”

“Uh. Well, generally you ask where I’m headed. Then, if we’re going the same way, you tell me where you’ll likely let me off. And that’s it. So I’ll start. I’m heading to PEI.”

He nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “PEI. I think I might be going there too.”

So we drove, through the long, quiet dark, and we talked for hours. He was balding, slightly overweight, and was living out the quintessential mid-life crisis. The second his divorce papers had been finalized, he sold his house, quit his job, bought a van, and filled three Rubbermaid containers with pricey outdoor gear he had yet to u …

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