A review of Only the Dead by Wolfgang Carstens and Janne Karlsson

I would say that this book isn’t for the squeamish, or those who prefer to think about death as something that doesn’t really happen. I personally think it would make a superb birthday card – a day when everyone needs a little extra reminder that life is worth living “to the point of tears”. Maybe don’t give it to anyone under ten (though I knew a few canny nine year olds who would love it).

A review of Count Me In by Emily White

White’s search for community confirmed her belief, first expressed in Lonely, that social policy affects people’s sense of belonging. Her good experiences at a public pool and community garden were made possible by elected officials of the past who directed tax dollars toward construction of a the community centre that housed the pool and the park that had space for the garden.

An Interview with Neil Spector

The author of Gone in a Heartbeat talks about his new book, about his own medical ordeal and mis-diagnosis, what it feels like to receive a new heart, advice to readers to help them advocate for themselves in medical situations, on the nature of the current medical profession and how it needs to change, on trusting your instincts, and lots more.

A review of Clariel by Garth Nix

While it might be tempting to contain the magic of the Old Kingdom series under genre classifications like “fantasy,” or “young adult” fiction, I think it’s fair to say that Nix is a writer whose work goes well beyond genre definitions and edges towards the classic. The work will appeal to readers of all tastes – particularly those who want to be transported into a world richly drawn and exotic, and yet so full of a very human verisimilitude of life, coming-of-age, and loss.

A review of Plus One by Christopher Noxon

Noxon’s gift as character creator compels us to believe in the slightly zany, uber LA Plus One leader of the pack Huck whose apparent ease with all things, comfort with this moment’s offering appeals to the protagonist, Alex’s character. Marked by a Woody Allen type of insecurity and running commentary of self-doubt Alex emerges as a kind of “all man” in a surprising way.

A Different Mary: An essay on the novel The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

The reader will immediately recognize the tone of sadness and fear that permeates the text. But there is a niggling sense that there is something missing, of something not being said. It is only after the narrative has advanced a long way, to its end almost, that what is withheld becomes clear: guilt and shame. It is not withheld deliberately from the reader, rather it is something she is hiding from herself with poignant delicacy and tact.

An interview with Patricia Bracewell

The author of The Price of Blood talks about her new book, her title, the attractions and challenges of Emma of Normandy’s story, her extensive research, the appeal of Vikings, her other characters, advice for aspiring writers, her ideal book club, and lots more.

A review of The Moon in the Pool by Gary Metras

Gary Metras’s The Moon in the Pool is a small book that packs a big poetic punch. Metra makes something out of what appears to be nothing at first sight. Mundane items, such as stones or the sight of an old man, serve as inspiration for Metras. It is not surprising, then, that Metras has ten other books under his belt. The Moon in the Pool is the work of a seasoned poet, a writer accustomed to having his way with words. But there is more to these poems; they make us what we already are. In other words, they tap into our shared humanity.