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Quick Hits: 5 Books You Need to Check Out

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.


A Circle on the Surface, by Carol Bruneau

Genre: Literary fiction

Publisher: Nimbus Publishing

What It's About

It’s 1943. Enman and Una Greene are newly married. Each is haunted by their respective pasts, and each harbours secrets. They have hopes of a happy life together—though they have little idea how to create such a life. Enman brings Una to his childhood home in rural Barrein, Nova Scotia, where he hopes they will stay. Una is restless and feeling increasingly trapped, and longs for the city life she once had. Una meets a mysterious man, and then a body washes up on a beach. There are rumours of German sailors roaming the dunes. When the Greenes receive the news they have been waiting for, and that Una is convinced will save her and her marriage, she begins to unravel in ways neither is prepared for. From critically acclaimed and bestselling author Carol Bruneau comes an achingly honest portrait of a marriage in a time of war—and an examination of how it is that we come to know ourselves.

What People Say

"A Circle on the Surface is a quietly brilliant novel driven not by action but by close observation and insight into character."—Quill & Quire, Starred Review

"Told with a meticulous eye for detail, Bruneau's voice is simple, elegant, arresting. A portrait of a partnership in peril, A Circle on the Surface lingers for days after its final pages is turned."—Toronto Star



The Party Is Here, by Georgina Beaty

Genre: Short stories

Publisher: Freehand Books

What It's About

Edgy and darkly humourous, these stories introduce us to women grappling with climate, fertility, and their relationships with each other, all as they teeter on the verge of transformation. A figure skater in a warming world quits, only to find herself embroiled in the politics of ice; a graduate student becomes progressively unhinged as she reports on the unravelling of her Patagonia research project; an artist finds an unconventional use for her own frozen eggs; a park ranger at Joshua Tree National Park goes to extreme lengths to save his beloved tortoises.

In this daring debut, Georgina Beaty offers a bold, nuanced look at our turbulent times, fearlessly probing the ambitions and confusions of her generation. Wholly unexpected yet wildly entertaining, The Party Is Here slants the world to speak to the uncanny truth of modern life.

What People Say

"I always think I'm prepared for a Georgina Beaty story, but I never am. She writes the kind of book where you end up knowing more about strange corners of the world than you did before. Her characters devour themselves by their own zeal. Environmental collapse looms in the background while they go on busying themselves, the way we do. Perhaps more threatening than the damage we do to our earth is the damage we do to each other. Beaty's world is global, endangered, dangerous."—Ian Williams, winner of the Giller Prize for Reproduction

"Georgina Beaty is a gifted writer with a deft sense of timing and a wonderfully jabbing sense of humour. Her stories are vivid, explicit yet mysterious, and altogether original."—Elizabeth Hay, winner of the Giller Prize for Late Nights on Air



The Justice Project, by Michael Betcherman

Genre: YA Fiction/Mystery

Publisher: Orca Books

What It's About

High-school football star Matt Barnes was on the top of the world until a freak snowboarding accident ended his promising sports career and left him with a permanent limp. As he struggles to accept his changed body, Matt becomes depressed and isolated. Instead of college football camp, he faces a summer job at the local golf club. Then by chance Matt lands an internship at the Justice Project, an organization that defends the wrongly convicted. The other intern is his high-school nemesis, Sonya Livingstone, a quick-witted social activist with little time for jock culture. The two slowly develop a friendship as they investigate the case of Ray Richardson, who was convicted of murdering his parents twenty-one years ago. Matt and Sonya are soon convinced that Ray is innocent—but how will they prove it? Unraveling the cold case takes them on a journey filled with twists, turns, deception and danger. It will take dedication, perseverance and courage to unmask the real murderer. Can those same qualities help Matt move on to a life not defined by football?

What People Say

“Issues are successfully blended into a well-rounded novel that, in tandem with interesting characters and a thrilling murder mystery, will grip readers’ attention until the very end.”—Booklist

"A gripping, multi-dimensional work, deserving of a place in senior high school library fiction collections."—CM: Canadian Review of Materials



Radium Girl, by Sofi Paparmarko

Genre: Short stories

Publisher: Wolsak & Wynn 

What It's About

Radium Girl is a collection full of dark wonder where Papamarko explores the boundaries of love, death, loneliness and justice. In these stories, we are introduced to a cast of unforgettable characters: Margie and Lu, teenaged conjoined twins; Rosie who cruises funerals; Pete the predatory magician; Elda the Radium Girl and many more. These are magical stories; they twist and turn in unexpected ways, leaving the reader sometimes shocked, sometimes delighted and often breathless.

What People Say

"Easy and engrossing, the short stories of Radium Girl provoke unease and careful thought about diverse human experiences."—Foreword Reviews

"So many of these stories lingered with me, whispering in my ear long after I’d finished reading them. They unsettled and alarmed me. Some characters in Radium Girl are trapped in unbearable circumstances. Others say or do upsetting things, or think disturbing thoughts. But Sofi Papamarko has an enormous heart, so she manages – skillfully, tenderly, magically, and with fierce humour – to reveal the deep, yearning humanity in everyone within these pages.”
– Jessica Westhead, author of Worry and Things Not to Do



We Will All Be Received, by Leslie Vryenhoek

Genre: Literary fiction

Publisher: Breakwater Books

What It's About

In 1977, a young woman swipes a duffel bag of drug money and flees her bad-news boyfriend, hitching a ride with a long-haul trucker who points out satellites and enthuses about the future of space cargo. Building a life disconnected from her past, she assumes a new identity as Dawn Taylor, but thirty years later, running a roadside motel on a remote highway, Dawn will host a group of disparate individuals—all desperate to rewrite their own stories.

Brody seeks escape from those intent on repeating the narrative of his childhood trauma. Cheryl, whose career as a filmmaker is being dismantled on social media, rushes to rescue her daughter from a vicious cycle. And Spencer, an ex-con with easy access to his criminal past, chases an elusive redemption after seeing a picture of Dawn on a tourism website.

In We All Will Be Received, Leslie Vryenhoek offers a range of unforgettable characters—all hoping to reconstruct a truth that’s been shattered by perspective—and asks whether anyone can find peace or atonement in a contemporary world where technology makes the past ever present.

What People Say

"With her second novel, Leslie Vryenhoek has crafted a page-turning thriller, entangling four characters, shifting between timelines of the 1970s, 1980s and close to present day … pure plot adrenalin."—The Telegram

"This novel starts off gritty and nail-biting, Bonnie and Clyde meets Goin’ Down The Road and it doesn’t let up. Even once you’ve read the last page, you’re still enthralled and you’re still right there, in the refurbished Graceland Inn, hoping there’s more book to read because you’re not ready to say goodbye to the characters..."—The Minerva Reader

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