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Shelf Talkers: January 2015

Girls, gangs, murder, elephants, Billy the Kid, and environmental disaster feature in this month's Shelf Talkers from Canada's indie booksellers.

It’s a brand new year which means that booksellers across this fine nation are picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after the blur and chaos of December. They’re both looking back and looking ahead, giving a sense and perspective to the year and the books just past, and gazing hopefully, always hopefully, at the year and books just ahead.

Here are five of our finest booksellers, ready again to help you fill your shelves with the best books this country—and its bookstores—have to offer.



The Bookseller: Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)

The Pick: Anatomy of a Girl Gang, by Ashley Little

"This is a dark and gritty story of a girl gang in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. It is told from five points of view, and Little has managed to give each character a unique voice. This is the perfect book for girls aged 15 and older who are tired of reading teen fluff books and want to read something real and important."


The Bookseller:  Heather Kuipers, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)


The Pick: Nancy Knows, by Cybele Young

"Nancy is a charmingly drawn elephant literally full of things she knows, all organized and reorganized page by page as she tries to remember something she has forgotten. Each of the many items in her sizable memory is realized in gorgeous paper sculpture; every object a treat to consider. When Nancy finally stops trying so hard to remember ... there they are, the lost details! For little sorters and counters and their art-loving parents."



The Bookseller: David Worsley, Words Worth Books (Waterloo, ON)

The Pick: The Devil You Know, by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

"You don't need to be a bookseller to spot a trend maker and Gone Girl certainly spawned a slew of like-minded knockoffs in the last year. There are more to come, but if crime fiction fans are sick of forced quirky and car-manual-quality prose, the curative has arrived: The Devil You Know, by Elisabeth de Mariaffi.

It's set in Ontario in the early 90s. The hook is readily apparent, but the Giller-longlisted de Mariaffi teases everything else out over time in the person of Evie, a young junior reporter for a provincial newspaper. A serial rapist has much of urban south Ontario on edge, and Evie has a connection to an earlier victim in what is now a cold case. Whether her past and her job cross paths matters, but The Devil You Know has more to do with the nature of female fear, resolve, and resource.

The newspaper setting feels spot on, the reportage quality of the prose synchs almost perfectly with the galloping creepiness here, and de Mariaffi's ability to keep the story moving and still build character makes this one something very special. 

Other national reviews have noted the many illuminating moments in the novel that clearly show that de Mariaffi simply "gets" what makes a standout crime novel.

It's going to be a whole lot of fun selling this in bulk."



The Bookseller: Carleigh Baker, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)

The Pick: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, by Michael Ondaatje

"Don't know much about Billy the Kid? It doesn't matter. This genre-busting collection builds an engaging and totally badass profile of the outlaw, sometimes humorous, sometimes outright crazy, always authentic."



The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)

The Pick: The Back of the Turtle, by Thomas King

"It has been a long time since Thomas King has put out a book of fiction, but it takes no time at all for readers to be reminded that he is a masterful storyteller. The Back of the Turtle weaves a tale of complicated relationships, forgiveness, and acceptance around themes of environmental disaster and big business. There is something to appeal to every reader in this well-deserving winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction. The Back of the Turtle was one of my favourite reads of 2014."

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