My List, My Rules
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 14 November 2023

My List, My Rules: The Year A Checklist Changed My Lifeby Angie CouniosPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Toby A. Welch  $29.95 ISBN  9781778690211 Holy smokes – I don’t think I’ve read a memoir more exposed and vulnerable than this one. Usually books in that genre feel a tad curated to me, which takes away from the authenticity you want in a memoir. But not this one. Counios laid it all out there for us and it is magnificent! The layout of this book is genius. I incorrectly assumed that since Counios was going to do 101 things in 365 days, she would just list them and tell us how she tackled each one. Wrong! The 365 days weren’t a calendar year, they were one birthday to the next. So the book is categorized into months, starting with her birthday month: November. I loved that she laid out the book that way as it flowed perfectly with each month having eight or nine random items from her list. (For those of you who like seeing the list in numerical order, you can find that at the back of the book.) This is catalogued as a memoir but it could also be considered a…

Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounter
Thistledown Press / 14 November 2023

Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounterby Emily PaskevicsPublished by Thistledown PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781771872485 It’s entirely rare that a first book packs a punch like Emily Paskevics’ Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounter. The Ontario writer’s auspicious debut is multi-layered, engrossing, and technically well-wrought (Paskevics is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers), and it credibly features the no-nonsense, hunting-and-fishing folks who populate Ontario’s hardy wilderness communities. If you love gothic literature, you’ll devour these dozen stories. Think taxidermy. Animal fetuses in jars. Hitting a strange creature with your car on a dark, lonely road. Think “mobile home with its porch light swinging … The blue painted door is all scratched up from when a bear tried to get in”. Often characters are fleeing, or someone close to them has recently died, and the remote landscapes—rife with bears, wolves, coyotes, harsh climate and dangerous waters—brilliantly parallel the characters’ dire situations, their psychological turmoil, and the endangered ecosystem. “Bear Bones” is set in Sadowa, where “deer-crossing signs [are] half-battered with buckshot,” a snowstorm’s afoot, and Louisa’s gone missing in a “man’s oilskin coat”. There’s a touch of magic realism at play, but the next story—also featuring loner…