Don't forget to check out Writer for a Year!
Sizzling Summer Features!

A shameless start to The Minerva Reader – an invitation to the launch of The Occult
Persuasion and the  Anarchist’s Solution, Inanna Publications – we really hope to see
you there! September 26! Inanna Toronto Fall Book Launch No. 1 featuring 3 authors!
Queen Books, 914 Queen Street East, Toronto: 6:00-8:30pm!

The previous post on The Minerva Reader featured two tantalizing sentences from 45 Fabulous Books that I’m hoping to read and review. Here’s one:

FROM THE ASHES: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle, Simon Schuster

MY REVIEW: This is one of the best books I've read this year. I was fortunate to get an Advance Reader Copy because in my day job, (I'm a magazine designer), sadly more books come in than can be reviewed. But I'd buy this book and I highly recommend it. 

From the moment I started it, I couldn't put it down. I read it every moment I could, on the subway and at lunchtime. That's the mark of a good book.

It's unflinching self-reportage of the darkest moments imaginable to a person. And to a child. 

It was, at times, hard to read but the writing is exquisite and Thistle never shies away from absolute self-honesty.

I felt as if I were with Jesse Thistle every step of the way, such was the vivid strength of the writing. There wasn't a moment when I didn't want to reach out to him and help him but he ultimately rescues himself, which is the most important lesson of all. Yes, he had help and support and love but one got the definite sense that Jesse never wanted the life of an addict – he fought it and his demons as fiercely as they battled to keep him in the prison of addiction. 

If there is any redemption to the human condition it is that we can, indeed, rise from the ashes. Thank you, Jesse Thistle for this book. You're a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of your work because my feeling is that there are more stories to come. And kudos too, to your courage and determination.


THE SCENT OF MOGRA by Aparna Kaji Shah, Inanna Publications.

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories is a collection of four short stories about strong female characters dealing with difficult life-changing situations. The turmoil that they face is, often, the result of a social structure that discriminates against women. Through these powerful women characters, the stories reflect attitudes and ways of life in a village in India, and in modern day Mumbai; they highlight the values of an older generation, and the dreams of a new one. Beneath all their differences, The Scent of Mogra and Other Stories illuminate the quality of women's lives, exposing the pain, the injustices, as well as the triumphs that make up their existence. 

MY REVIEW: What a beautiful read, one that appeals to all senses. You truly get the sense of being inside each protagonist and vividly experiencing their lives. This collection has one of the saddest, most beautiful stories I’ve read in a very long time – I won’t say which one because I urge you to read the collection!  Each story gripped and I couldn’t put the book down while in the middle of a story. Once I finished one, I took a break to savour what I had just read, to mull over the character’s situation and the stories resolution. They’re the kind of stories one needs to ponder, almost have an internal dialogue with the character to ask them for more, to continue being a part of their lives. I love how each voice had such a strong sense of indivuality.


As you know, The Minerva Reader is all about the unsung hero, a treasure you might have missed. I recently read Someone We Know by Shari Lapena, picking up the ARC from the book table at work. I love a good escapist read! Shari Lapena crafts finely-tuned, tightly written works and I really enjoyed this one. But Shari Lapena is not an unsung hero so while I wanted to mention the book here, I also wanted to say that if you enjoy books like like Lapena’s, then I highly recommend the Pat Tierney trilogy by Rosemary McCracken (and I am hoping there will be more in the series.) Jack Batten, the Toronto Star‘s crime fiction reviewer, calls Pat Tierney “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.”

SOMEONE WE KNOW by Shari Lapena, Pamela Dorman Books

ABOUT THE BOOK:  Maybe you don't know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . . 
"I'm so sorry. My son has been getting into people's houses. He's broken into yours."
In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses--and into the owners' computers as well--learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.
Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? As whispers start to circulate, suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they're telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their little secrets?
In this neighborhood, it's not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .

SAFE HARBOR by Rosemary McCracken, Imajin Books
Financial advisor Pat Tierney’s world is shattered when a visitor to her office tells her that Pat's late husband is the father of a seven-year-old boy. Stunned by the revelation of her husband's affair, Pat is even more shocked when the woman bolts from the office, leaving young Tommy behind.
When Tommy's mother is murdered, police tell Pat that the boy may be the killer's next target. In a desperate race to protect Tommy, Pat's searches for the truth and uncovers a deadly scheme involving illegal immigrants, trafficking in human body parts and money laundering.
And Pat discovers that she'll do just about anything to keep her family safe. 

When Pat Tierney's daughter, Tracy, asks her to help find Tracy's partner, Jamie Collins, their mother-daughter relationship is stretched to the limits. Pat heads out to cottage country where an elderly man, who killed Jamie’s sister in an impaired driving accident ten years ago, has perished in a suspicious fire. Unfortunately, Jamie is the prime suspect. 
Pat takes charge at the new branch her investment firm has opened in the seemingly idyllic community where Jamie grew up, and her search for Tracy's missing sweetheart takes her through a maze of fraud, drugs, bikers and murder. 
Once again, Pat proves that family can always count on her.

Murder, jealousy, fraud, deceit—welcome to cottage country! 
Financial planner Pat Tierney’s dream vacation in cottage country turns into a nightmare when the body of an elderly woman is discovered in a storage locker. Pat’s friend, Bruce Stohl, is the murdered woman’s son, and when he is pegged by police as their prime suspect, Pat rallies to find his mother’s killer. 
Meanwhile, a con artist has targeted cottages in the area, and vacationers are arriving, only to learn they are victims of a rental scam. When disgruntled renters show up at her door, Pat fears for her family’s safety. 
Now she must navigate treacherous waters to protect those who are dear to her. 


IN THE KEY OF THIRTEEN, The Mesdames of Mayhem's New Upcoming Anthology
And, for the final highlight in this issue of The Minerva Reader, here’s the fabulous cover for In The Key of Thirteen, a new anthology coming out in Fall, by the Mesdames of Mayhem (of which I am one!) There are 19 stories in the collection, all on the theme of music. 

Many thanks to the very talented Sara Carrick for our dramatic and elegant cover, which captures our theme of music and murder.

Our official launch of the In the Key of 13 anthology takes place in Toronto on Saturday, October 26, 2 to 4 pm at Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd. Watch for more details as we near publication. And fellow Mesdame Rosemary McCracken has a story in the anthology, “Farewell to the King,” a homage to Elvis Presley. She got the idea for the piece two summers ago, on the 40th anniversary of the King’s death. The anniversary brought back memories of a trip she took to Memphis. She was assigned to cover the King’s funeral for the Montreal Star where she was working as a reporter. A group flew from Montreal to Memphis–for the day–where we joined thousands of mourners.


Hope You'll Check Out The 45 Two-Sentence Sizzling Summer Book Blitz!

I’ve got an exciting stash of amazing Canadian Reads lined up for The Minerva Reader! So many that it will take me a while to read them all. And, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I've got half a dozen books on the go and I pick up whichever one appeals to my mood at the time.
ECW posed the question (on Twitter) as to how readers file or organize their books and my answer was ‘to add to random piles until they fall over and then I start again!’ Book storage, Jenga-style!
Terri Favro (@fluffybaggins) said this: “Books signed by author, together. Graphic novels, together. Poetry, together. All others, wherever there's space. When there's no space, something goes to the nearest #LittleFreeLibrary” which was very impressive!
Which made me revisit my stacks, with the intent to do some sorting and organizing and then I decided to create a Two-Sentence Teaser, with two random sentences from each book.
So here, in no particular order at all – and I know, I should have alphabetized them or bundled them into genres or something – are 45 books on my CanLit To-Read Pile! And, some may be a bit longer than two sentences or a bit shorter! And, there's no information about the author or the book, just the sentences and who published the book. (And there is poetry too!)
Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones, McClelland & Stuart. “You are beautiful is so last month,” she said to Val, who was wrestling with a bubble-wrapped envelope full of what turned out to be two-dimensional paper flowers, cut from construction paper and painted with more glitter. “This should say Survivor. At least it would be shorter.”
• Bina by Anakana Schofield, Alfred A. Knopf, Canada. “Eddie’s the kind of son you are landed with because no beggar wants to be bothered with him, and because he’s used up all his goodwill and will soon expire on yours.”
• Spirit River Dam by Susan Daly, in The Best Laid Plans (Superior Shores Press). “In her mind’s eye, she saw the fateful figures reasserting themselves one by one, burning through the paper seal on the back of the painting. Like something in a Twilight Zone episode.”
• The Red Word by Sarah Henstra, ECW Press. “No one in their right mind gives up power peaceably, Dyann would say. No one is ever going to hand over our freedom to us, just like that.”
• The Whiskey King by Trevor Cole, HarperCollins. “The foursome spent the night in Detroit, Zaneth somewhere on his own, presumably receiving his drugs, and the Poles trio out drinking, or so they said. He didn’t see them until noon the next day, but once they were together the trio wanted Zaneth to stay with them.”
•  Up From Freedom by Wayne Grady, Doubleday Canada. “Nothing is forgiven,” his father used to say. “Some things are forgotten but damn few. And nothing is ever forgiven.”
•  Songs for the Cold of Heart, by Eric Dupont, translated from the French by Peter McCambridge, QC Fiction. “He was shorter than me. I’m a little on the tall side, even for a German from the north, but he was fat too, wearing a black suit with a bowtie. Nothing says “I’m a total cretin” like a bowtie, Kapriel.”
• An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim, Penguin Random House Canada. “He is at the end of time. There is nothing but ashy beach and giant, slithering crabs with palpitating mouths and pale, jerking antennae. He remembers the sounds of his world, birdsong and teatime, and he thinks, All that is over.”
• No TV for Woodpeckers by Gary Barwin, a Buckrider Book.
at this difficult time
in our lives, ladies and gentlemen
let us consider sandwiches:
if the only thing in the universe
• Subtitles by Domenico Capilongo, Guernica Editions. “The music grows outward from ancient street corners. In wafts of cigar smoke, off the hoods of vintage cars, echoing between the rows of tourists who tap their feet, off rhythm.”
• Tender in the Age of Fury by Brandon Pitts, Mosaic Press.
we knew then
that the boy
who spoke with departed shades
was a prophet of things to come
so we called him
Sweet Medicine
• Four-letter Words by Chad Pelley, Breakwater Books. “It had been a while, sure, a month or two, but this wasn’t about catching up, so he stood there, wordless, waiting to be invited in. She tightened her bathrobe and swooped her arm like, come in. A waft of lavender, some kind of bath product that smelled purple.”
• In the Bear’s House by Bruce Hunter, Oolichan Books. “She was fragile now. He felt the tremor in her voice and the uncertainty in her eyes. “Not a word,” he said. Then she let him go.”
• Twelve Moons and Six More Poems by Ellen S. Jaffe, Pinking Shears Publications.
I clean out your kitchen
one last time,
bake the sweet, apple-rich cake.
You never felt hungry, you
told me before you died.
Now I hunger, I hunger,
and I eat.
• Send by Domenico Capilongo, Guernica Editions.
I’m like in love with you
like she walked in the room
and I’m like wow look at her
like if you think I’m pretty
like if I shouldn’t kill myself
like I got so many likes
it was like crazy
• The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley, Simon & Schuster. “She created a Twitter account. She named herself Zoey W., left her photo the little white egg. It made her sad, the lonely little egg, but this was not about Zoey—or if it was, it was about creating the world she would have wanted Zoey to live in.”
• Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds, Biblioasis. “As soon as he saw the desert, Henry knew he was in the right place. It was like no landscape Henry had ever seen before. It was absolute.”
• Blue Pyramids by Robert Priest, ECW.
Daniel slips away
but he’s still standing there
riding the blue wave
into a painting
into a story
or just a fantasy-thought
one more little cape
for identity to twirl in his
wild shaman’s shuffle
• The Street of Butterflies by Mehri Yalfani, Inanna Publications. “On our honeymoon I realized I couldn’t live with him. He wasn’t my type. I couldn’t make myself love him.”
• Permission by Saskia Vogel, Coach House Books. “Standing in that same window, it wasn’t the ocean I saw but the seams: silicone, grout, hinges and brackets. All that was holding the house together and all the ways in which it could fall apart.”
• Black Beach by Glynis Guevara, Inanna Publications. “As she stepped away from the water and headed toward the unkempt trail back to town, she wondered what condition her mother would be in when she got home. She thought of her mother’s mother and her father’s sister, both of whom had suffered from debilitating mental health issues before their deaths. Will I end up like them? 
• Motel of the Opposable Thumbs by Stuart Ross, Anvil Press.
My shadow contains three words:
Sh. Ad. Ow. I contain mulitudes
of headlice I’m hoping to comb out
before you arrive with your eyes in your face,
• There is a Place by Ivy Reiss, Ivy Reiss.
Nothing can compare to
The blunt breaking in
Of un-thought
Forgotten things
• Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page, Biblioasis. “Running through the leafy lane, his shirt damp with sweat, his body warming to the work and liking it, his eyes growing sharper and taking in the almost-bursting buds and the spiderwebs bejewelled with glistening droplets, Harry forgets the argument completely.”
• Perspectives on a Crime Scene by Alex Stolis, Grey Borders Books. “Together they looked like some noir tableau, a Hopper painting. When he got the drop on her she looked straight-edged, full of sin; ready to burn him to the ground.”
•  Branches by Mark Truscott, Book*hug.
The feeling
we could be
Doing something
else is always
there, the
edge that
bespeaks the
thing is
here now
• One Day it Happens by Mary Lou Dickinson, Inanna Publications. “But then, after your understood it all, and God knows, she thought she understood it—the sudden crushing desire to take the oar and be that woman she hadn’t been—then what did she understand?”
• Side by Side by Anita Kushwaha, Inanna Publications. “Suddenly she can’t stand to look at the photograph any longer. Its lost beauty burns her eyes as if backlit with fluorescence. She turns away.”
• Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage, Alfred A. Knopf. “One morning in late June, Pavlov, still in his pajamas and slippers, rushed along the street to get his French Gitanes Maïs cigarettes before the grocery’s metal doors, in deference to the impending passage of death, rolled with the speed of a guillotine.”
• land of the sky by Salimah Valiani, Inanna Publications.
Have you seen
the moon through
A square in the sky?
The moon looks like
the sun
In some measure
4 rays (instead of many)
pronounced and crisp
but not blindingly bright
• Dreaming Fidel by Heather Birrell, Proper Tales Press 2018.
“There are insects that look like sticks in this world, and birds that can blend into flowers. Do you ever want to do the same, or does it bother you a little that they do not have the courage to make themselves known?”
• Journeywoman by Carolyne Van Der Meer, Inanna Publications.
We were removed
those summers
from our lives on Boundary Road
the little bungalow on the same street
• Roll With It by Heather Wood, Tightrope Books. “Gregor was totally pumped that NASA just announced they discovered water on the moon. Apparently they did this by crashing a satellite on purpose. Because of this discovery, and as it was also a Friday night, he asked me out for a special date at a classier than usual pizzeria.”
• Terra Incognita by Adebe DeRango-Adem, Inanna Publications.
Remember the cries that came
from small workshop rooms
when you marched onto everyone’s notebooks,
left the door deliberately ajar;
spoke in bleeding headlines,
need to get the story straight
• Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale, ECW. “The macaroni trudged down Marty’s throat. The world outside was dark, and he wondered what was outside the front door. The apocalypse could be long over. This dinner could have started ten years ago. Maybe he was stuck to the couch and didn’t realize it because he never tried to move.”
• Two O’Clock Creek by Bruce Hunter, Oolichan Books.
Blame it on this odd day
April in January
your parents’ empty house
an appropriate choice of music
you and your tangled hair
But the wind shook loose our clothes
sent us spinning like twin spells
tremulous through the house
• Beached Whales by Stedmond Pardy, World Enterprise Books
A quadruple rainbow, stretchedddddd across, A
Our Black sheep, was about to get wrapped, Wrapped
The Golden, FLEECE,
• From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle, Simon & Schuster. “A million years of silence followed. Stars flickered and extinguished one by one, civilizations rose and fell, great pyramids were built and crumbled, yet she kept looking at me. And the wall, a thousand miles high, that I kept between me and the rest of the world didn’t exist—not a brick anywhere in sight.”
• I know you are but what am I? by Heather Birrell, Coach House Books. “The museum was colossal and quiet, like something God had built then abandoned. Not that quiet, with the people. Tourists chasing down culture. Lisa was one of them, and it smarted a little.”
• In the Days of the Cotton Wind and the Sparrow by Rafi Aaron, Exile Editions.
“And it was the time of disenchanted boulders
pounding on the plains and a time of courageous
endeavours when green plants stood against a
southern wind, and the feathers of the peacock
searched for colour.
• Drugs by Stedmond Pardy, World Enterprise Books.
That “the elements in modern society
Destructive of the best qualities
Of human nature”
Have been laid out mercilessly
For our insatiable eyes
Countless times, you stand!!
• the innocents by Michael Crummey, Doubleday Canada and McClelland & Stewart.
“It was a foolish undertaking but she knew there was no bringing him to his senses. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
“Sister,” he said. Though he knew she would insist and didn’t waste any more of his breath trying to talk her into staying back.
• The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson,
“Your mother is a tireless turds polisher,” was my father’s official position on the matter.
That night the brothers got drunk, picked a fight, and scrapped outside the bar.
• To the River by Don Gillmor, Random House Canada. “We can’t protect them forever, of course. But parenthood is made up of thousands of these moments—something visceral in the dark when you are pressed against your child with your secret thoughts.”
• The Sweetheart Scamster by Rosemary McCracken in The Best Laid Plans, Superior Shores Press.
“And that made me sit up straight in my chair. As a financial advisor, I’m well aware there are complexities to grey romance that are seldom present in youthful relationships.”

"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press