Some Indie Books for Your Book Club

Small and independent presses are real treasure troves for great stories that you won’t necessarily see splashed across ad banners and subway stations but they. are. so. good. As much as I love seeing lists like this one pop up, there are so many indie titles that I would have LOVED to discuss with my friends over guacamole and wine (and, in some cases, probably would have helped me cope with my feeling afterwards)! So I’ve decided to make up my own lists, starting today, to spread the book club love around, even though my “book club” is basically just me reading with my cat in the room. (thanks for the inspo Buzzfeed!)
Full disclosure! Some of the books I pick will be from the company I work for, BUT were published before I got here, so I’m calling it a fair loophole.

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In Da Club (Part I)

  1. Wet, Hot, and Shaking: How I Learned to Talk About Sex by Kaleigh Trace (Invisible Publishing)
    Who doesn’t want to talk about sex? But, like, in a funny, positive, honest way with no “grey” in sight.
  2. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (Coach House Books)
    If you’ve ever owned and/or loved a pet, this is a must-read.
  3. Every Little Thing by Chad Pelley (Breakwater Books)
    Prepare to yell “What the hell happened to Cohen??” over and over in this love story + mystery.
  4. Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth (Cormorant Books)
    Dive into the Spanish Civil War alongside a killer young heroine you can really root for.
  5. Enter, Night by Michael Rowe (Chizine Publications)
    If you’re going to read a vampire book, make it a really good vampire book!
  6. Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles (ECW Press)
    Cheaters are supposed to be bad people, right? Not exactly. Let’s discuss!
  7. The Indifference League by Richard Scarsbrook (Dundurn)
    Light, fun, and truly super.
  8. Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie (House of Anansi)
    Read this and then tell me you don’t want to devour this book right now.

Happy reading!

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Blog tour: Boring Girls by Sara Taylor

Sara Taylor has tapped into the very ugly side of girlhood in her novel Boring Girls. At times relatable and other times deeply unsettling, it’s a dark, bloody, and ultimately very sad coming-of-age story demonstrating the awful power that can come from emotional suffering.

Rachel has a lot going for her. Supportive family, good grades, creativity…but she has difficulty making friends at school and starts to get bullied for being weird and different. Classic, right? Not exactly. The anger Rachel feels after a particularly embarrassing confrontation with the token mean girl starts to fester inside of her. I think everyone can remember those moments of feeling so utterly vulnerable, weak, and powerless, it made you sick. Taylor perfectly captures this mindset in Rachel, but where it takes her is somewhere truly darker and more off-putting than I was anticipating. As most teens do, Rachel eventually discovers something to give her a kind of escape from all the crap in her life: metal music. Serious, screaming, graphic metal music (with some of the most creatively gross names i’ve ever heard). She meets Fern who shares her interests and they become fast friends. Wholly inspired by the metal music scene, they start a band and begin to break into the biz, but soon Rachel and Fern realize that the music industry can be just as traumatic and unfriendly to women as high school.  When shit goes down, shattering their illusions, Rachel and Fern don’t shrink away from it all, they do the exact opposite. And it is a murderous mess.

Image-1This book won’t leave you warm and fuzzy in any way. Taylor takes you on a violent revenge spree of these two girls, who are (obviously) anything but boring. The first paragraph teases a massacre, and they aren’t exaggerating. The girls’ vulnerability and rage leads them on a destructive path towards retribution. It’s actually pretty badass as a fiction story, and also very horrifying when you think about how the actions that take place are (and are a result of) some pretty realistic situations encountered by women all over. Nonetheless, Taylor tackles the tough subjects here with unrelenting prose, and the result is a debut novel that is sometimes hard to swallow but even harder to put down.

Mini Reviews: An ECW Triple Bill

I’ve been meaning to talk about these books for a while now. All three of them stuck with me for a long time after I had read them recently. Three hard-hitters in strong subject matter and emotional punch, swirling varient themes of faith, trust, desire and suffering in a pool of beautifully written prose. All three of these books were written by amazing women authors (two of them being debut novels) and published by ECW Press. ECW (or Entertainment, Culture, Writing) is a Canadian publisher that continues to impress me with its breadth of content. I’m especially drawn to their literary selection, though they publish everything from Taylor Swift books to Wrestle mania, mystery, and children’s novels. Their books feel good to the touch, they provoke you, they make you think. Most importantly, they are stories I know I’m going to want to revisit and discuss…once I’ve had a chance to cope.

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Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles chronicles a passionate affair between a Charlie, a married writer, and Veronica, an engaged hairdresser. These inherently flawed characters make for an engrossing trajectory that pits emotions and moral consciousness against each other, while waiting for that imminent crash and burn moment when one finally wins out over the other. Appropriately titled (with a beautiful and simple cover image) Fowles depicts all the unraveling complications of love and hate, duty, and deceit with accuracy and resolution.

ECW2The Miracles of Ordinary Men begins with Sam, who wakes up to find angel wings have inexplicably sprouted out of his back. Though only a select few can see them, his life begins falling apart under their weight. At the same time, Lilah, in coping with her younger brother’s recent mental collapse, finds sexual penance at the hand of her otherworldly boss. A haunting exploration of God, faith, and uncertainty that forces secular humanity into the face of inexplicable wonders. A brilliant take on good and evil under the guise of magical realism, Leduc draws out terror and magnificence from her writing while still leaving us to search for our own answers.

Watch How We Walk by Jennifer Lovegrove is the story of a Young Jehovah’s Witness named Emily who idolizes her older, fearless sister Lenora. Once a model Witness, the teenaged Lenora begins to rebel against their rigid upbringing, causing a rift in their already fragile family dynamic. As the child Emily acts like a sponge, filtering the emotionally laden circumstances that occur around her through an innocent perspective. Image 110 years later, adult Emily struggles with the serious emotional and physical scarring that has resulted from it. The slow reveal of what becomes of Emily and the fate of her sister is done with heartbreaking suspense and precision. A powerful, provoking, and intimate narrative that flows seamlessly from first person to third person and back and forth through a tumultuous decade.