The 2016 Giller Shortlist is Announced

The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced its shortlist on Monday, September 26, 2016, derived from a longlist of 12 books. The jury read an amazing 161 books submitted by 69 publisher imprints from every region of the country. The longlist was selected by an esteemed five-member jury panel: Canadian writers Lawrence Hill (jury chair), Jeet Heer and Kathleen Winter, English author Samantha Harvey and Scottish novelist Alan Warner.

The shortlist includes:


thienDo Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien

Madeleine Thien’s new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. With exquisite writing sharpened by a surprising vein of wit and sly humour, Thien has crafted unforgettable characters who are by turns flinty and headstrong, dreamy and tender, foolish and wise.

P.S. This is also Blue Heron Book’s September book club pick!



partywallThe Party Wall by Catherine Leroux

Catherine Leroux’s The Party Wall shifts between and ties together stories about pairs joined in surprising ways. A woman learns that she may not be the biological mother of her own son despite having given birth to him; a brother and sister unite, as their mother dies, to search for their long-lost father; two young sisters take a detour home, unaware of the tragedy that awaits; and a political couple—when the husband accedes to power in a post-apocalyptic future state—is shaken by the revelation of their own shared, if equally unknown, history.

Psst…Watch and listen for more information on a Blue Heron Book event with Catherine in the new year!



Thirteen Ways of Looking fatat a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking,13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction.




yiddishYiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin

This outstanding New Face of Fiction is filled with Jewish takes on classic pirate tales–fights, prison escapes, and exploits on the high seas–but it’s also a tender love story, between Moishe and Sarah, and between Aaron and his “shoulder,” Moishe. Rich with puns, colourful language, post-colonial satire and Kabbalistic hijinks, Yiddish for Pirates is also a compelling examination of mortality, memory, identity and persecution from one of this country’s most talented writers.

P.S. You may recognize the name from our Books and Brunch event with Gary last spring. If you haven’t picked up Yiddish for Pirates yet, it is now in paperback!



bestThe Best Kind of People by Zoe Wittall

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

The WonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue

A magnetic novel written with all the spare and propulsive tension that made ROOM a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels—as a simple tale of two strangers who will transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil in its many masks.

Psst…Emma Donoghue is coming to Wooden Sticks on October 30th. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets and meet the Giller nominee.


October 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Books and Brunch with Kevin Patterson and Steven Price

Our first Books and Brunch of 2016 is on Sunday, October 23. Kevin is the winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for his debut short fiction collection, Country of Cold. He will be discussing his latest novel, News from the Red Desert. Steven is the winner of the Gerald Lampert Award and the winner of the ReLit Award. His latest novel, By Gaslight, has been nominated as a Giller 2016 Longlist title.

News From The Red Desert by Kevin Patterson

News From the Red Desert begins in late 2001, when everyone believes the war is already won and the Taliban defeated, then leaps late in the severely escalated conflict–into the mess, and death, and confusion. At its heart are the men and women who have come to Afghanistan to seek purpose, and adventure, and danger, by engaging in the most bewitching and treacherous of human pursuits: making war.
It’s the story of Deirdre O’Malley, an American journalist who had been covering municipal politics when the airplanes went into the towers. Now a war correspondent, she has come to love the soldiers she covers and to grieve so hard over their wounds and their deaths she considers herself a member of the mission too. Embedded with Canadian infantry, she can’t ignore the situation on the ground. Her loyalty toward her ex-lover, the American general who has taken command of the theatre, wavers as the war wavers, and the use of torture and the slaughter of civilians is brought to light. Fuelling the tension is a melancholy American supply sergeant who accidentally releases a trove of war porn online that sparks a furious hunt for the person who leaked it. Fearing arrest at any moment, he has stayed on too long in Kandahar for reasons he doesn’t understand himself. Caught up in these currents are the Pakistanis who operate the Green Beans café on the Kandahar Airfield, led by optimist Rami Issay, who wants to lighten his customers’ hearts (and make a success of his business) by running film and chess clubs in the only zone of recreation on the base. But the war intrudes even into the lives of the well-intentioned. In a powerful climax that tests everyone’s loyalty and faith, the essential chaos of violence asserts itself. Love and desire endure, but no-one escapes unscathed.

By Gaslight by Steven Price

London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men’s futures — a man of smoke. William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London in search of her; what he learns of her fate, and its connection to the man known as Shade, will force him to confront a grief he thought long-buried. What follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and seance halls. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.
Epic in scope, brilliantly conceived, and stunningly written, Steven Price’s By Gaslightis a riveting, atmospheric portrait of two men on the brink. Moving from the diamond mines of South Africa to the battlefields of the Civil War, the novel is a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our darker selves.

October 7, 2016 at 8:02 pm

Celebration of the Arts…Books and Authors Night September 22, 2016

This year’s Celebration of the Arts Books and Authors event is on Thursday, September 22 at the Uxbridge Music Hall. These four top-notch authors will be showcased.

behrensPeter Behrens was our guest with the release of The O’Brien’s — his first book since winning the Governor General’s Award for The Law of Dreams. In his new novel, Carry Me, we are focusing on that time between the two wars.

“Behrens . . . revitalizes the war epic, substituting grand panoramas with realistic settings and great acts of heroism with small yet powerful acts of compassion . . . ” —Publishers Weekly

An intriguing cast of characters braid this harrowing story together, transporting the reader from a golden Edwardian summer on the Isle of Wight, to London under Zeppelin attack, to Ireland on the brink of its War of Independence, and at last to Germany during the darkening Weimar period.

Brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, and profoundly moving, Carry Me is an unusual love story, an historical epic, and a lucid meditation on Europe’s violent twentieth century.

helmMichael Helm was first in the literary spotlight when his debut novel, The Projectionist was a Giller finalist in 1997. Several books and nominations later, Michael will be joining us to introduce his newest book, After James a genre-bending novel, reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

A neuroscientist retreats to a secluded cabin in the woods, intending to blow the whistle on a pharmaceutical company and its creativity drug gone wrong. A failed poet is lured to Rome as a “literary detective” to decode the work of a mysterious Internet poet who seems to write about murders with precise knowledge of private details. On the heels of a life crisis, a virologist discovers her identity has been stolen by a conceptual artist in whose work someone always goes missing. After James is an audacious, masterful novel, told in three connected parts, each gesturing toward a type of genre fiction — the gothic horror, the detective novel, and the apocalyptic. As the novel unfolds in great cities, remote regions, and deadly borderlands, it weaves connections both explicit and subtle, pulling us deeper into a greater mystery that has come to define our times. Gorgeously written, alive with intelligence and wit, full of adventure and suspense, After James confirms Michael Helm’s reputation as one of the most electrifying writers of his generation

trudeauAlexandre (Sasha) Trudeau is a documentary journalist and filmmaker. Over the past decade and a half, his films and reports on issues of geopolitical importance have been seen and read by millions of Canadians. He now turns his attention to China with his new work of non-fiction Barbarian Lost, Travels in the New China.

To this day, China remains an enigma. Ancient, complex and fast moving, it defies easy understanding. Ever since he was a boy, Alexandre Trudeau has been fascinated by this great county. Recounting his experiences in the China of recent years, Trudeau visits artists and migrant workers, townspeople and rural farmers. Often accompanied by a young Chinese journalist, Vivien, he explores realities caught in time between the China of our memories and the thrust of progress. The China he seeks out lurks in hints and shadows. It flickers dimly amidst all the glare and noise. The people he encounters along the way give up but small secrets yet each revelation comes as a surprise that jolts us from our preconceived ideas and forces us to challenge our most secure notions.

Barbarian Lost, Trudeau’s first book, is an insightful and witty account of the dynamic changes going on right now in China, as well as a look back into the deeper history of this highly codified society. On the ground with the women and men who make China tick, Trudeau shines new light on the country as only a traveller with his storytelling abilities could.

westoll2Another returning author is Andrew Westoll who last visited Blue Heron with the release of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Andrew is an award-winning author, journalist and teacher based in Toronto. A former primatologist-in-training, Andrew traded the real jungle for the concrete one a long time ago, but his experiences with wild animals still inform his work. Most of his writing explores one corner or another of our fraught, curious and ever-evolving relationship with the natural world.

His second book, the national-bestselling The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, is the biography of a family of chimpanzees who were rescued from a research laboratory and retired to an animal sanctuary near Montreal. The Chimps won the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, was a finalist for several other major book awards, and was named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail,, Quill and Quire and CTV’s Canada AM.

September 7, 2016 at 12:00 am

Fall class registration is now open!


Click on the image to enlarge.

For more information and to register, visit:

August 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Fall 2016 Passport of Author Events

As always, we have bundled the four events together as a ‘passport’ to provide you with an opportunity to save some money! Each event on its own is $25 plus HST. A passport for the four events is $90 and includes 3 five dollar coupons to be redeemed against book purchases. This gives you a $115. value for $90. The passport is transferable, so if you can’t attend a particular event you’re most welcome to share it with a family member or friend.

First on the roster is the Celebration of the Arts Books and Authors event on Thursday, September 22 at the Uxbridge Music Hall. Four top-notch authors will be showcased.

 behrens   helm   sacha   westoll

m (1)m Following that, we have three amazing Books and Brunch events, all at Wooden Sticks Golf Club on a Sunday morning.

Sunday, October 23 at 11 am Kevin Patterson and Steven Price will be our guests. From the award-winning author of The Water in Between and Consumption, Kevin’s new book is the definitive novel of the Afghanistan war, while Stephen Price’s novel By Gaslight is a magnificent literary historical-suspense novel in the tradition of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers.

m (3)m (2)Just in time for Halloween, on Sunday, October 30 at 11 am, we are hosting three mystery/thriller writers. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware — (visiting from the UK) is an eerie, sinister psychological thriller — a traditional ‘locked room mystery’. Joining Ruth, is literary sensation Emma Donoghue. Emma is perhaps best known for her brilliant book, Room, subsequently made into an Academy award-winning movie of the same name. Interviewing Ruth and Emma is Amy Stewart author of Still Mine. This haunting debut mystery was an instant national bestseller in Canada, and as Amy understands the careful plotting required in a mystery, it should make for a very interesting interview.

m (4)amimckay

The final event of the passport season is on Sunday, November 13. In an unusual pairing, mystery writer Linwood Barclay returns with the third in his Promise Falls trilogy, and joining Linwood is The Birth House author Amy McKay reading from her new book, The Witches of New York. This is Amy’s most beguiling novel yet, luring us deep inside the lives of a trio of remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft…

We hope to see you at one or all of these incredible events and look forward to your thoughts and opinions on our upcoming books and authors. Call the store (905-852-4282) to reserve your tickets or passport. Your VISA card secures your spot.

August 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

A party fit for a wizard

unnamedHarry Potter turns 36 on July 31st, and we’re throwing him the best (belated) birthday party a wizard could ask for! Join us for an evening of sorting, photo booth, trivia, potion mixing, butterbeer, Bertie Botts and chocolate frogs, costume contest, live performance by professional acting company (pssst…you too could have a starring role…sign-up with Director Rebecca in store), costume contests, and, of course, magic!

Where: Blue Heron Studio (rear of Blue Heron Books)
When: Monday, August 1, 2016 from 7pm – 10 pm
How: RSVP in store or by calling 905 852 4282

Please note that space is limited! Please RSVP as soon as possible to ensure you receive entry to this event. Activity passes for the night are available at a discounted price of $15.

As an added bonus, pre-order your copy of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child before August 1st to receive a $10 coupon towards future purchases at Blue Heron Books!

See you there!

July 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm

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