While there are so many reasons we're glad to be through with 2021, we're not through with its books yet. While the new year is here and we're all looking forward to exciting forthcoming releases, some of us [ahem. Editor Kerry speaking. Hi everyone!!] We are still making our way through 2021's literary fare because 365 days is simply not enough to have us read everything we want to read.
Fortunately, the best books are willing to wait for us, and we are so glad that Katherine Walker's debut novel All Is Well is one of them.
Off-beat, heartfelt and hilarious, we could not have loved this book any better, and Walker's recommended reading list for us is just as fascinating and eclectic as her novel.
The Best Soldier's Wife, by Katrin Horowitz
About the book: The Best Soldier's Wife is the deeply personal story of one woman trying to cope with the shocks and aftershocks of Canada’s war in Afghanistan, told in a series of letters from a military wife in Victoria to the wife of a fictionalized Chief of Defense Staff. In her letters she uses a number of real events to ground her story in the nitty-gritty of the actual war as it unfolded. Each letter ends with a list of the real soldiers who died during the course of her story.
Tiny Lights for Travellers, by Naomi K. Lewis
About the book: Why couldn’t I occupy the world as those model-looking women did, with their flowing hair, pulling their tiny bright suitcases as if to say, I just arrived from elsewhere, and I already belong here, and this sidewalk belongs to me?
When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved Opa’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi Lewis decides to retrace his journey to freedom. Travelling alone from Amsterdam to Lyon, she discovers family secrets and her own narrative as a second-generation Jewish Canadian. With vulnerability, humour, and wisdom, Lewis’s memoir asks tough questions about her identity as a secular Jew, the accuracy of family stories, and the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations.
Murder on My Mind, by Dana Goldstein
About the book: Dana Goldstein gives a survival guide for menopause, a lava pit of hormones, remorse and chicken wing cravings.
Every woman goes through it, but few ever talk about it. At a time when we should be settling comfortably into who we are and what brings us joy, women are plagued with anxiety, insomnia, and a body that changes in ways we don’t feel comfortable talking about.
All that is about to change.
Within these pages, you’ll read about:
- The menopause beard and ear hair
- Erotic dreams and diminishing libido
- Periods resembling crime scenes
- Mood swings not suitable for all audiences
- The scattered brain (I think)
And so much more.
Murder on my Mind pulls away the curtain to reveal one woman’s experience with menopause. With her unique style of humour, Dana Goldstein candidly shares her six-year journey from peri-menopause to post-menopause.
The World on Either Side, by Diane Terrana
About the book: After the death of her boyfriend, sixteen-year old Valentine stops going to school, quits seeing her friends and, finally, won’t leave her bed. Desperate for her daughter to recover, Valentine’s mother takes her on a trek in Thailand. In the mountains north of Chiang Mai, Valentine finds a world she didn’t know existed, where houses are on stilts and elephants still roam wild. She learns about the Burmese civil war and the relentless violence against the Karen and Rohingya peoples.
Then she meets Lin, a mysterious young elephant keeper tormented by his hidden past, and an orphaned elephant calf, pursued by violent poachers. Together, the three flee deep into the jungle, looking for refuge and redemption.
Niceman Cometh, by David Carpenter
About the book: Carpenter's voice captures both the bleakness and the unexpected joys of life. Filled with moments of high humour but grounded by the sense of defeat and rejection that we all face, this novel provides an insight into the human condition, its foibles, its delights and its lunacy.
The Afterlife of Birds, by Elizabeth Phillips
About the book: A gorgeous, deeply felt debut novel about obsession, loneliness, and the surprising ways we find to connect with each other.
Henry Jett's life is slowly going nowhere. His girlfriend recently left, and his job in a local garage is uninspiring, considering that he doesn't particularly like cars. Henry finds solace in his eccentric passion, rebuilding the skeletons of birds and animals. Meanwhile Henry's brother, Dan, is disappearing into an obsession of his own.
Without Dan to rely on, Henry begins to engage in new ways with the people around him in his Prairie city: the 80-year-old Russian émigré who delights in telling stories; the very pregnant former employee of his mother's; the lawyer who may or may not be his brother's ex-girlfriend. Gradually they demand that Henry become a participant in his own story, and Henry must forge his own way of living in the world.
In The Afterlife of Birds, award-winning poet Elizabeth Philips draws together unforgettable characters who subtly, powerfully demonstrate the beauty of ordinary lives and finding our place in the world.
All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, by James Allan Gardner
About the book: Monsters are real.
But so are heroes.
Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly.
Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.
Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks—and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities—and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.
Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be!
Christine Wright is having a bad day. She’s an ex-special forces soldier and a recovering alcoholic, and now her new career as a church minister has started off with the worst kind of bang. Could it be her reflexes are a little too twitchy for this job?
From the opening page, this fast-paced tale is all about a cover up: the burying of a body, while fending off an angry widow, and a very suspicious parishioner appalled by the loss of a precious church artifact. And then there’s the vengeful, terminally ill military-cop-turned-stalker who plans to get Christine locked up if it’s the last thing he does. Among the many revelations and surprises we experience is the fact that we’re instantly on the side of the unfailingly flawed and irreverent Christine—who cannot imitate a perfectly pious priest even though her life so clearly depends on it. Mystic Julian Norwich, she of the famous “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” is the patron saint of this wickedly funny novel. All Is Well for Katherine Walker’s readers despite, or because of, Reverend Wright’s many wrongs.
Comments herecomments powered by Disqus