Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cool DVD Site

Every now and then I come across a non-literature site that I simply must tell everyone about. The team at First Weekend Club DVD ( helps to build audiences for Canadian films via grassroots initiatives including screenings, filmmaker focus Q&As and other programs. You can join at the site and be the first to receive notification when new Canadian films are released - you can even win tickets to great premieres and parties. All I can say is that Canadian films do rock!

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me  by Selcuk Altun (Telegram, April 2009): A wonderful book about two men whose lives are fated to cross in modern Turkey. 

Cham by Jonathan Trigell (Serpent's Tail, May 2009):  Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, Trigell tells the story of Itchy, a young man living in the mountains of Chamonix Mont Blanc. A lost soul, Itchy is thrust into the shadows of a serial rapist; he must pull from deep within to find redemption for his past and hope for his future.

Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Grand Central Publishing, 2009): Jessica is a young woman who relies on her neighborhood psychic for answers to all of life's questions. However, what will happen when the psychic tells Jessica to expect a big change? Will Jessica be ready for a life-altering event? Zepeda writes with humor and honesty in this multi-cultural chick lit book.

The Pools

Serpent's Tail, 2008.

Another brilliant debut novel courtesy of the brilliant team at Serpent's Tail. It is England, mid 1980s and the body of a 15 year old boy is found by the pools. What is the cause of his death?

Through the eyes of narrators Howard (stepfather) and Joanna (a young teenager), a disturbing story is told; one that keeps the reader intrigued until the bitter end.  Roberts' characters are realistic, filled with bad behavior and questionable decision making; yet, this is what compels one to continue reading. Why? How? The sense of foreboding is overwhelming and yet, essential to the essence of the work.  I guarantee you will walk away from reading this work a changed person.

The Sound of Building Coffins

Toby Press, 2009

This powerful novel set in 1890s New Orleans is a complex debut novel from Louis Maistros. Maistros, owner of a voodoo botanica in New Orleans focuses on the nature of rebirth in a place that is filled with demons, both physical and literal. The city itself becomes the main character within the pages as we wander its streets, learn of its inhabitants and its history. Lyrical in its prose, the book deftly paints a world that is changing, a world where music fills the streets even as pain fills the doorways. A beautiful and compelling first novel.

Serpent's Tail, 2008

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Cathi Unsworth takes the reader through the dark alleyways of the world of punk music as she weaves the tale of journalist Eddie Bracknell who is writing the ultimate story of cult band Blood Truth. As Bracknell uncovers the sad truth behind the disappearance of lead singer, Vincent Smith, he discovers a world of loneliness, drugs, sex and music. 

While the story primarily focuses on the mystery surrounding the glorious Smith, it is also a tale of undying love; a love that can leave one in pain and misery, that can send one to a state of near insanity. Bracknell's life begins to parallel Smith's as he wanders back in time in an attempt to understand the real reason for the band's fall from fame. Unsworth vividly paints a picture of the U.K. at a time where music could bring youth to their knees, could make a strong moral and political statement (The Clash) and could create a bond between disaffected youth. This is a book that the reader will not want to put down; the characters are ones we care about, ones we want to follow and learn about. A true book about a movement and a group of people determined to change the world one song at a time.