Della Dennis

Della Dennis

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Something Unremembered – Historical fiction/contemporary realism/magic realism

Quick description: The narrator of the story is Janine LaFoy, a late 20th-century woman living in Alberta, with roots in French-Canadian Catholic culture. One would hardly think an outlying college town on the prairies would be the place a woman from the 15th century would choose to reveal her story, but when Janine begins to discover the story of Madeleine of Beauvais interpolated in the pages of her beloved books about the history of art and culture, an enigmatic presence begins to form. Mystified by references to Madeleine which seem to appear in her books only to disappear again, and unhappy with her own restless ever-aftering, Janine becomes preoccupied with uncovering the secrets of Madeleine’s life.

This book began by imagining how a subjugated history, a story that could not keep peace with being forgotten, bubbles up between the lines of 20th-century Janine LaFoy’s art and cultural history books.

Brief biography:
Della Dennis is a music educator and historian. As a missionary kid in Africa, she grew up in the shadow of a protestant ethic where fiction ranked among the lower orders of creation. As an adult she returned to her birthplace and settled in Edmonton. When her children were safely grown and on their own, she fell from grace and began to write. She wrote and privately published the story and documents relating to her grandmother’s early life and journey (as an 11-year old without her parents) to Canada in 1904. Something Unremembered is her first novel.

Links to buy Della’s book:
Stonehouse Publishing
All Lit Up
Chapters/Indigo
Amazon Canada
Amazon US

Della’s promo links:
Facebook
Goodreads

What are you working on now?
I am just beginning a second novel that takes place at the same time as Something Unremembered and features many of the same characters. In this story, the narrator, Janine, makes different choices. As a result, her interests and challenges and the course of her life turn out quite differently.

Della’s reading recommendation:
I have been reading Charissa’s Shoes by David Gay, a satiric, dystopian novel that is both absurd and prophetic. It is a startling reflection on the potential for cyber terrorism in the modern era. It was written before the Trump era, and mostly takes place in Canada, but some of the ludicrous behaviour of people seeking power could have been taken from today’s news. Next up, for a change of pace, I am looking forward to reading Evelina, an 18th-century novel recently reissued by Edmonton’s Stonehouse Publishing.

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Myrna Kostash

Myrna Kostash

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The Seven Oaks Reader. Nonfiction.

Quick description: The Seven Oaks Reader, forworded by Heather Devine, offers a comprehensive retelling of one of Canada’s most controversial historical periods, the Fur Trade Wars, the Selkirk settlement and the explosive Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. As in the companion volume, The Frog Lake Reader, Kostash incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources, to weave a compelling historical narrative.

Brief biography:
Life-long Edmontonian, Myrna Kostash is a fulltime writer, author of the classic All of Baba’s Children, and of the award-winning The Frog Lake Reader and Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium. Her latest book is The Seven Oaks Reader (NeWest Press, 2016). Her essays, articles, and creative nonfiction have been widely anthologized. She is a recipient of the WGA’s Golden Pen Award and the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen award for a Life of Writing. She is a volunteer barista at the Carrot Community Arts Café.

Links to buy Myrna’s book:
NeWest Press
Ebooks: Amazon Kindle ; Apple ; Kobo ; Nook
Distributor: LitDistCo
Overdrive for Libraries

Myrna’s promo links:
Website
Facebook

What are you working on now?
A playscript for the Edmonton Fringe

Myrna’s reading recommendation:
Betsy Warland’s latest book, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas (Caitlin Press, Vancouver)

Andy Marshall

thinpower-authorandypic Andy Marshall

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Thin Power – Political, biography, Canadian history

Quick description: Thin Power is the unauthorized biography of former Calgary mayor Rod Sykes, featuring the achievements and bitter controversies of his eight-year term ending in 1977. Publicly revealed for the first time are details of Sykes’ unorthodox upbringing in Victoria, B.C., his rise to the mayoralty, and his doomed attempt in provincial politics as leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party in the early 1980s. It offers an entertaining look into one of Alberta’s most controversial public figures.

thin-power

Brief biography:
Andy Marshall served as a staffer for part of Rod Sykes’ term as mayor of Calgary, and later for his stint as leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party. As well as spending two decades as a reporter and editor with Alberta dailies, Marshall founded and operated his own weekly newspapers. Born in England, he holds a degree in German from the University of Durham. After immigrating to Canada in 1965, he’s spent most of his life in Alberta.

Links to buy Andy’s book:
Friesen Press
Direct from author – Email: camarshall3(at)shaw.ca

Andy’s promo links:
Facebook
camarshall3(at)shaw.ca

What are you working on now?
Personal memoir. Rough working title, The Path to Non-Belief

Andy’s reading recommendation:
I enjoyed and referred to for my Sykes book, Calgary author Brian Brennan’s The Good Steward (Bowness Press, 2008) and Scoundrels and Scallywags (Fifth House 2002). Impressed by The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (Anchor Canada 2013) and All Our Sisters by Calgary author Susan Scott (Broadview Press 2007). More broadly, I’ve been devouring work of British author Julian Barnes in past year.

Brian Brennan has been featured a number of times on Reading Recommendations.

Maria N. Rachwal

Maria_0004 crop Maria N. Rachwal

What is your latest release and what genre is it? From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, published by Second Story Press. It belongs to the Non-Fiction genre.

Quick description: From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, documents the amazing true story of the first all-women’s orchestra in Canadian history. In the 1940s, it was unheard of for women to be members of a professional orchestra, let alone play “masculine” instruments like the bass or trombone. But Ethel Stark, a talented violinist, and Madge Bowen, a wealthy socialite, broke convention by pulling together a rag-tag group of women from all walks of life—housewives, secretaries, and grandmothers—to create The Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (MWSO). For years they lugged their old instruments from their living rooms to store basements to hold rehearsals. Cynics sneered and family members frowned. Yet despite these formidable challenges, the MSWO became the first orchestra to represent Canada in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1947 to glowing reviews. One of its members also became the first Canadian black woman to play in a symphony in Carnegie Hall. While the MWSO has paved the way for contemporary female musicians, the stories of these women are largely missing from historical records. From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall illuminates these revolutionary stories, including the life of the incredible Ethel Stark, the co-founder and conductor of the MWSO. Their work opened doors of equal opportunity for marginalized groups and played an important role in breaking gender stereotypes in society at large.

From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall

Brief biography:
Maria Noriega Rachwal is a music teacher and musicologist living in Toronto, Ontario. She has given many lectures on women in music throughout the country and written articles on the subject for professional organizations. She is also an accomplished flute player who has performed with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups in Alberta. Her work on the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra was featured on the CBC Radio documentary, “It Wasn’t Teatime: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra.”

Links to buy Maria’s book:
Second Story Press
Amazon

Maria’s promo links:
Official webpage
Book Trailer
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
I am busy editing the memoirs of violinist and conductor, Ethel Stark.

Maria’s reading recommendation:
I recently enjoyed reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

David Poulsen Recommends Ted Barris

9781459732087
Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited
by Ted Barris

Genre: Canadian History

Barris chronicles the history of the vessels that traversed the waters of the western Canadian plains by bringing to life the voices of those on board and on shore whose lives revolved around those prairie steamboats.

ted_barrisWhy I recommend this book: Painstakingly researched and compellingly written by one of Canada’s most important historians.

David Poulsen’s review of Fire Canoe:
Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days
Review by David A. Poulsen

Fire Canoe—Another Barris Literary Treasure

Ted Barris’s recently released Fire Canoe (Dundurn, Toronto) confirms once again the writer’s position as one of Canada’s pre-eminent purveyors of our nation’s history. In the tradition of Pierre Burton (and others), Barris once again combines exhaustive research, compelling story-telling with his clear love of this country’s stories to create a thoroughly readable look at the largely forgotten story of the steamboats of the Canadian prairie waterways.

Fire Canoe—the name came from the First Nations people, some of whom were terrified at the noise and sight of the wondrous vessels while others were employed to pilot them through often tricky waters. The ships themselves were the very definition of multi-taskers and their stories leap off the pages of Barris’s book. The vessels played important roles in war (The Riel Rebellion), in transporting the goods needed for a growing west , in dredging for gold at river’s bottom and in providing fun, not only for those who toiled on the ships but those on shore as well. But perhaps, most of all, the steamboats were home to a cast of characters–rascals, builders, villains and heroes and Barris, as he does so well, has them leaping off the pages and into our hearts.

One of those characters, Jimmy Soles (his father had rafted his family over six hundred miles from Medicine Hat to Prince Albert) eventually became part of the crew of the Hudson Bay Company’s stern-wheeler, the Saskatchewan.
“We danced at every place we stopped downriver—The Pas, Cumberland, Chemahawin, Cedar Lake—if we were going to be there overnight, we had
a dance. . . . The Indians called them fiddle dances,” mused Soles, who called
at all the dances “especially if I knew I didn’t have to get up ’til about noon
the next day. . . . Oh those square-dances. . . . The first trip I made with the Saskatchewan, we had a dance at Cumberland and there was an Indian fellow
playin’ the fiddle. He had a fiddle alright, and a willow bent with horse hair on it.
And he only could play the one tune, ‘Little Brown Jug.’ We danced to that all night.”

Ted Barris has become one of the most important and gifted chroniclers of Canada’s often fascinating and sadly, just-as-often forgotten past. Barris is doing all he can to remedy that unfortunate reality, and Fire Canoe is another feather in his well-decorated cap.

Links to purchase Ted’s book:
Dundurn Press

DavidPoulsen Guest reviewer’s latest title or project: Serpents Rising, Dundurn, October, 2014

David A. Poulsen has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Feb. 2014 and Oct. 2014.