THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB by Canadian Author CRAIG DAVIDSON. This book is so good that it deserves more than 5 Stars. Don’t miss this one.

Title: THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB

Author: CRAIG DAVIDSON

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION, CANLIT, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 246 PAGES

Publisher: ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA – A Division of PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7482-2 (Hardcover)

Price: $27.00 CDN

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

When neurosurgeon Jake Breaker operates, he knows he’s handling more than a patient’s delicate brain tissue – he’s altering their seat of consciousness, their golden vault of memory. And memory, Jake knows, can be a tricky thing.

When growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls (a.k.a. Cataract City) one of Jake’s closest confidantes was his uncle Calvin, a sweet but eccentric misfit enamored of occult artefacts and outlandish conspiracy theories.

The summer Jake turned twelve, Calvin invited him to join the “Saturday Night Ghost Club” – a seemingly light-hearted project to investigate some of Cataract City’s more macabre urban myths.

Over the course of that life-altering summer, Jake slowly and painfully came to realize that his uncle’s preoccupation with chilling legends sprang from something buried so deep in his past that Calvin himself was unaware of it.

MY REVIEW:

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is on the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlist. The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize recognizes Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year’s best novel or short story collection. The winner receives $50,000 and all finalists receive $5000.
https://www.writerstrust.com/awards/rogers-writers-trust-fiction-prize

Everything about this book is sheer perfection. From the Hardy Boys inspired cover, to the uneven edging of the pages, to the scenes of Canadiana – such as when twelve year old Jake “… was sitting on the sofa watching The Beachcombers…”

Reading this book is like taking a walk through my own Ontario childhood when children actually played outside, when kids could disappear for hours and explore places that today’s helicopter parents would never dream of allowing their bubble-wrapped kids to go. It was a time when “bullying” was just a part of growing up. You had to either submit to it or learn to fight back.

“Suck it up, Buttercup,” was more likely the parental response to any type of bullying during my childhood and that of Jake Breaker as opposed to what happens now – complaining to the teachers, the Principal, the School Board, and anyone who will listen and likely even posting about it on social media.

It was a time when you would have been mortified if your parents got involved. Kids learned to solve their own problems, or they didn’t and if not, they ended up as perennial victims.

Craig Davidson takes the reader back to a time when imagination was King. A time before internet. You couldn’t just Google information about anything you wanted to know. You asked your parents or if you were as lucky as the protagonist, you asked your “Strange Duck” Uncle.

The way the author describes Uncle Calvin is so vivid and so very detailed that readers are able to picture him vividly, from his height. “He was incredibly tall, or so he seemed back then. (I realize now that, at six foot three, he was not quite the fairytale giant who exists in my memory.) To the way he moved – “He moved awkwardly, as though threads were attached to his limbs, trailing up to a novice puppeteer. He claimed this was the result of his nerves failing to stretch down to his toes and fingertips…” To his teeth, hair and even the clothes he wears. Uncle C becomes as vital and real to the reader as he is to his nephew, Jake.

The tale is told through the memories of a now grown up Jake. He has become a neurosurgeon and tells us the story of one summer when he was a pre-teen. It was a summer in which he still believed in ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.

I was so wrapped up in this story that the world around me fell away and through the amazing talent of author Craig Davidson, I was transported into the story.

It takes a rare and exceptional talent to make me excited enough about a book that I feel compelled to tell everyone I meet about it. THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB is the best book I have read this year, and I have read many.

The descriptive power of words is on full display in this work of Literary Fiction. For example, read this:

“The girl was eight years old … An MRI revealed a mass lodged near her pineal gland … an aggressive form of cancer manifesting in children. She was booked into surgery immediately. My sucker wand transited the lobes of her brain, moving through sticky webs of glia – brain glue, as it is known in our racket – to arrive at the tumor, which lay anchored in her ocular nerve. The delicate procedure was like vacuuming caramelized sugar off a strand of spaghetti. The slightest misstep would snap the nerve and rob the girl of sight in that eye. I removed as much as felt safe before retreating.”

Comparing author Craig Davidson to other authors would just not be fair. It would be like comparing a CB Radio to a Smart Phone. He is in a class by himself and is sure to win award after award for his writing.

I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and I am thankful to them for introducing me to this author. I need to get my hands on anything and everything else he has written. If those books are even half as good as this one, they are books I absolutely must read.

The rating system for books only goes to 5 Stars, but I believe this book warrants a higher rating, one that distinguishes it from all others, therefore, I rate The Saturday Night Ghost Club as 5+ out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**This book is also available as an audiobook at http://www.audible.ca Click HERE to purchase it online.

*** Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

CRAIG DAVIDSON was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls.

He has published four previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, Sarah Court, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated Cataract City.

Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in the National Post, Esquire, GQ, The Walrus, and The Washington Post, among other places.

He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his partner and their child.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AMAZON

WRITER’S TRUST AUTHOR PAGE

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

THINGS SHE COULD NEVER HAVE by Tehmina Khan is a story collection featuring characters who are usually ignoredin modern literature. It’s a MUST READ!

Title: THINGS SHE COULD NEVER HAVE

Author: TEHMINA KHAN

Genre: FICTION, SHORT STORY COLLECTION, LGBTQ, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, DIVERSITY, CANADIAN LITERATURE

Length: 121 PAGES

Publisher: MAWENZI HOUSE

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: OCTOBER 2017

ISBN: 978-1-988449-14-2

Price: $20.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Accomplished, sensitive, and often disturbing, these stories take us into the lives of modern Pakistanis—privileged and poor, gay, trans, and straight, men and women, in Karachi and Toronto.

“Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber.

In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque.

“Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi.

“Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind.

“The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan.

These and other stories link us into the complexities of a sometimes troubled and often misrepresented Muslim society.

MY REVIEW:

I am aware that the stories contained within this wonderfully written collection are fiction, but it is all too easy to see that they contain at least a degree of truth.

First-time author TEHMINA KHAN has crafted tales that are so believable that you will find yourself wondering if some of them are actually non-fiction. This is the mark of a truly talented writer.

In the story, BORN ON THE FIRST OF JULY, parents of a Canadian born young woman are shocked when she leaves to join ISIS. They “…become news junkies… [and] scour the internet for news on ISIS, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.” “For us, she dies again and again. She is reborn again and again. There is nothing as cruel as hope.” She has taken a topic that is taboo and somehow made it relatable. Great job!

All of the stories in this collection are wonderfully written and will entrance the reader. This book was impossible to put down and I found myself thinking about each of the tales, long after I finished reading them.

Tehmina Khan has given a voice to those people whom modern day literature shuns and ignores. From transgender youth to Muslim women, readers are sure to read about characters they might otherwise never encounter. It is story collections like this one that are necessary now more than ever before.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I highly recommend it. Tehmina Khan may be new to the publishing world, but I am sure we will be hearing more about her in the near future.

*Thank you to Mawenzi House Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tehmina Khan was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and holds degrees from Kinnaird College, Lahore, and Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales de Tunis.

She has her home in Toronto, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a cat. She is currently working on a novel.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

BLOG

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

GOOGLE PLUS

PICTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Mawenzi House is dedicated to bringing to the reading public fresh new writing from Canada and across the world that reflects the diversity of our rapidly globalizing world, particularly in Canada and the United States.

Our focus is on works that can loosely be termed “multicultural” and particularly those that pertain to Asia and Africa. We publish 6-8 titles of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (literary criticism, history) per year.

Among our achievements: we have played a role in the formulation of the Indo-Caribbean identity through the publication of several ground-breaking titles; we have kept in print books by major Caribbean writers Sam Selvon, Ismith Khan, and John Stewart; we have published provocative and perceptive social and literary critical works by Arnold Itwaru, Arun Prabha Mukherjee, Chelva Kanaganayakam, and others; the introduction of the important Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera; the first historical and critical study of Chinese Canadian writing in English; the first anthologies of South Asian Canadian literature, South Asian Canadian women’s poetry, Chinese Canadian stories, and South Asian Canadian and American women’s fiction.

HISTORY

In 1981, a group of young people, who had been in North America for just over a decade, decided to take the plunge and start the magazine they had always dreamed about as students, at a time in which Naipaul had to be ordered from bookstores, let alone Narayan or Ngugi or Soyinka. The result was The Toronto South Asian Review, which later became the much broader-based The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad and helped entrench a generation of new writers. As an offshoot of this literary magazine, in 1985 TSAR Publications published its first title, a book of essays on South Asian Canadian literature, followed by a book of poetry by Sri Lankan Canadian Rienzi Crusz. Mawenzi House finally emerged, a uniquely diverse and knowledgeable publishing house based in Canada. (“Mawenzi” is the name of the second peak of Kilimanjaro.)

To learn more about Mawenzi House, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

***This book is part of my #2018AtoZChallenge on Ginger Mom’s Blog***

EINSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE: Stories by Jacob M Appel – BOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from www.amazon.ca

Cover image obtained from http://www.amazon.ca

EINSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE: Stories

Author: Jacob M Appel

Type of Book: Paperback

Genre: Short Story Collection, Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Pressgang http://pressgang.butler.edu

Publication Date: 2014

Length: 179 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is a collection of short storied. I never used to be a fan of short fiction. Short stories always left me with a vague but very real feeling of dissatisfaction. Not so with Jacob Appel’s “Einstein’s Beach House”. In fact his collection is one of the very few that I have rated as deserving five stars.

In the story “Hue and Cry” readers are forced to confront a controversial and yet very real modern day issue. Your response to this story might surprise you. The author has done an amazing job of presenting opposing viewpoints without forcing the reader to choose which one to believe. He skillfully leaves the ultimate decision up to each individual reader.

When reading “La Tristesse Des Herissons” I literally laughed out loud, not once but multiple times. It illustrates just exactly how far people will go to please the person they love.

“Strings” and “Limerence” contain characters that all grown-ups can relate to. Almost everyone has either a “Lena Limpetti” or a “Jacques Krentz” in their past. Sometimes it takes looking back on the influence that certain people (who seemed to have very little significance at the time) have had on our lives to realize just how great our lives really are. We can view these people as lost chances or we can view them as people who helped shaped who we have become.

“Einstein’s Beach House” could be construed as a “Be careful what you wish for” cautionary tale about the value of the truth. This story examines both morality and ethics.

“The Rod of Asclepius” – Looking back on her memories, a woman remembers being a six year old girl visiting the hospital where her mother died. Her father wears a lab coat and has a stethoscope draped over his neck. She remembers being asked if she is “…ready to change the world, princess?” She remembers that
“At that moment, I am suddenly persuaded that the world does indeed require changing, that the entire cosmos yearns for radical transformation.”
For the next year or more she continues to attend various hospitals in various cities with her father – all in her father’s pursuit of “changing the world.”
Of course, as a six or seven year old child, she had no idea why her father visited the hospitals or exactly what he was doing.
Twenty years later when she applies to medical school it is perhaps those memories that set her on her chosen career path.
This story highlights how memories can be distorted, how both people and events can seem to be one thing when in fact they are quite another.

“Sharing The Hostage” is about a separated couple sharing custody and visitation of their pet turtle. The sad thing is that I can see this actually happening in “real life.”

“Paracosmos” is the final story in the collection. Imagine having a stranger arrive on your doorstep and announcing that he is the father of your daughter’s imaginary friend. What would you do? How would you react?

Jacob Appel has a true gift. His vivid descriptions of place are minimal in length but are still somehow able to paint an exact picture in the reader’s mind. His genius shines through mostly with his uncanny ability to get inside the heads of the characters in his stories and to take his readers with him. His writing makes each character seem less fictional and more real.

He has taken the mundane and made it feel incredibly relevant and of great importance. His stories skillfully examine issues of morality while also being highly entertaining.

These stories will stay with you long after you finish reading them. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. This is a MUST READ collection. I have become an instant fan of this author and I look forward to reading more stories by him in the future. If you haven’t yet purchased ‘Einstein’s Beach House : Stories’ I suggest you buy a copy right away. You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Image obtained from www.jacobmappel.com

Image obtained from http://www.jacobmappel.com

Jacob M. Appel has published short fiction in more than 200 literary journals. His first novel, ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up’ won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and will be published by Black Lawrence in November 2013.

For more information visit http://www.jacobmappel.com

Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/amieroger