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We Can(ada) Read: Lynne @ Words of Mystery - Top 10 Books By Canadian Authors

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadians for EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors! It is a highlight of Canadian Literature and those of us who promote it as much as possible. 

For a full schedule of events, please check out the Kick-Off post!


Thank you to Moonbeam Books for sponsoring the amazing giveaway! Scroll to the bottom!
Growing up, Lynne was always that kid who got in trouble for reading during class or well past her bedtime. Despite being a well-known bookworm, she was never picked to recommend books to her classmates for their book report much to her disappointment. Nowadays on her blog, she enjoys featuring lesser known titles and books by Asian writers and introducing them to new readers. When not at work, she can be found giving personalized book recommendations to those around her, reading on trains, going on food adventures and exploring her city and the world.

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Top Ten Canadian Reads

Hi there, I'm here to share with you my all-time Canadian reads (so far)! Keep in mind that didn't discover Canadian writers until late into university so many of the titles will be fairly recent as opposed to the classics that you may tend to find on these kinds of list. So without further delay and in no particular order, here are some of my top Canadian reads.

BLOODLETTING & MIRACULOUS CURES

Author: Vincent Lam

Series: N/A
Publisher: Penguin Random House (Anchor Canada)
Publication Date: September 26, 2006

Summary:

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures invites us into a world where the ordinary becomes the critical in a matter of seconds. A formidable debut, it is a profound and unforgettable depiction of today’s doctors, patients, and hospitals.

Provocative, heartbreaking, and darkly humorous, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures introduces readers to a masterful new voice in fiction. A practicing ER physician, Vincent Lam delivers a precise and intimate portrait of the medical profession in his fiction debut. These twelve interwoven stories follow a group of young doctors as they move from the challenges of medical school to the intense world of emergency rooms, evacuation missions, and terrifying new viruses. Winner of the prestigious Giller Prize, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures marks the arrival of a deeply humane and preternaturally gifted writer. 

Fitz, Ming, Chen, and Sri are the four ambitious protagonists of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. They fall in love as they study for their exams, face moral dilemmas as they split open cadavers, confront police who rough up their patients, and treat schizophrenics with pathologies similar to their own. In one harrowing story set amidst the 2003 SARS crisis, which the author witnessed firsthand, two of these doctors suddenly become the patients. 

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures invites us into a world where the ordinary becomes the critical in a matter of seconds. A formidable debut, it is a profound and unforgettable depiction of today’s doctors, patients, and hospitals.
Purchase:

BLOODLETTING & MIRACULOUS CURES is the Giller Prize winning debut of author, and it's a must read for fans of shows like Grey's Anatomy and ER. I was introduced to this book and author when I took an Asian Immigrant course in university and it was a fitting read as I could identify with the characters' struggles as a university and because my sister was in the process of applying to med school at the time.

RU

Author: Kim Thuy
Series: N/A
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Publication Date: January 5, 2010

Summary:
A runaway bestseller in Quebec, with foreign rights sold to 15 countries around the world, Kim Thúy's Governor General's Literary Award-winning Ru is a lullaby for Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland.


Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, money. Kim Thúy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.
Purchase:
RU is the 2015 winner of the Canada Reads, making it the book all Canadians should read that year. As someone of Vietnamese descent I loved reading about an immigrant experience that more closely resembled my own parents' experiences. This book is also short in length but the prose is beyond gorgeous making it a memorable read.

UP AND DOWN

Author: Terry Fallis
Series: N/A
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Publication Date: September 11, 2012

Summary:
David Stewart, fresh from the Canadian Space Ministry, proposes NASA revitalize their PR with a Citizen Astronaut. A lottery for one Canadian and one American to visit the International Space Station chooses a too-perfect Texan, and a aged lesbian bush doctor pilot. How can he keep his job and still do the right thing?
Purchase:
UP AND DOWN served as my introduced to Terry Fallis, a Canadian writer known for his hilarious books and I haven't missed a book of his since. To me his books are quintessentially "Canadian" and they can always be counted on to take their readers on a rollicking ride.

STILL LIFE

Author: Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2007

Summary:
Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.


With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces--and this series--with power, ingenuity, and charm.
Purchase:
The INSPECTOR GAMACHE series is probably hands down my favourite mystery series to date. Even after 13 books, Penny hasn't lost her touch when it comes to the character of Armand Gamache and the village of Three Pines. Quite unusually I actually came into this series at book 9, How the Light Gets In and haven't looked back since. This series is also my go to for whenever I find myself in a reading slump and fortunately for me there is a new book out each year to look forward to.

AYESHA AT LAST

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: June 12, 2018

Summary:
Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 


When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 
Purchase:
When it comes to Pride and Prejudice, I'm rather hard to please. However, this fairly recent release manages to hit all the right notes and it.

INDIAN HORSE

Author: Richard Wagamese
Series: N/A
Publisher: Douglas McIntyre
Publication Date: January 27, 2012

Summary:
Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a northern Ojibway, with all its joys and sorrows.


With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man.
Purchase:
The book was my pick for the 2013 Canada Reads, unfortunately it did not win. Still, I think it's an important read as it looks at the trauma and consequences that resulted from the residential schools in Canada, something which I feel that many people are still not aware of. Of course, Richard Wagamese is also a gifted storyteller and his prose helps to tell his heartbreaking yet hopeful story. Fun fact this book was actually made into a film which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

LISTEN TO THE SQUAWKING CHICKEN: WHEN MOTHER KNOWS BEST, WHAT'S A DAUGHTER TO DO? A MEMOIR (SORT OF)

Author: Elaine Lui
Series: N/A
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: April 22, 2014

Summary:
As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice, warnings, and unwavering love that has guided Elaine throughout her life. Using the nine principles that her mother used to raise her, Elaine tells us the story of the Squawking Chicken’s life—in which she walked an unusual path to parent with tough love, humor, and, through it all, a mother’s unyielding devotion to her daughter. This is a love letter to mothers everywhere.
Purchase:
With movies like Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I've Loved Before coming out this year, it's even more evident that there is still a great need for Asian representation in the media. Elaine Lui aka Lainey Gossip was one of the first people on a TV talk show that resembled like me. I loved how outspoken she was and could definitely relate to some of her stories about her mother. This book was not only an entertaining read but it was also somewhat inspiring and was a lovely love letter to Lainey's mom.

LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE MOSQUE

Author: Zarqa Nawaz
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Summary:
Zarqa Nawaz has always straddled two cultures. She's just as likely to be agonizing over which sparkly earrings will "pimp out" her hijab as to be flirting with the Walmart meat manager in a futile attempt to secure halal chicken the day before Eid. 


Little Mosque on the Prairie brought Zarqa's own laugh-out-loud take on her everyday culture clash to viewers around the world. And now, in Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, she tells the sometimes absurd, sometimes challenging, always funny stories of being Zarqa in a western society. From explaining to the plumber why the toilet must be within sitting arm's reach of the water tap (hint: it involves a watering can and a Muslim obsession with cleanliness "down there") to urging the electrician to place an eye-height electrical socket for her father-in-law's epilepsy-inducing light-up picture of the Kaaba, Zarqa paints a hilarious portrait of growing up in a household where, according to her father, the Quran says it's okay to eat at McDonald's-but only if you order the McFish.
Purchase:
Growing up, Little Mosque on the Prairie was one of my favourite TV shows. Years later, I actually got to meet and work with the actor who plays the Imam on the show which was pretty cool for me and my supervisor who was a HUGE fan of the show as well. Anyways, I love this collection of essays as they were hilarious and often quite relatable as well it gave me a better understanding of Muslims (Canadian) culture which has always intrigued me.  

THE WATER RAT OF WANCHAI

Author: Ian Hamilton
Series: Ava Lee #1
Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Publication Date: February 19, 2011

Summary:
Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it’s in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava’s $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share...
Purchase:
Another Canadian mystery/thriller series that I adore. The heroine is not your "typical" accountant, she's a total kick butt heroine! What I love the most about this series is the fact that we get glimpses of other Asian countries as Ava often has to travel to various foreign locales as part of the gigs she takes on. I also love that her home base is in Toronto and as a result many of the places mentioned in the book are places that I've either heard of, walked by or been to. For fans of book adaptions, word is that this series will be adapted into a TV show and I'm hoping that's true and that I get to see Ava Lee on the small screen soon.

THE BEGGAR'S OPERA

Author: Peggy Blair
Series: Inspector Ramirez #1
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Publication Date: February 7, 2012

Summary:
In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water—much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecón. For Inspector Ricardo Ramírez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem—Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramírez also has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that makes him see the ghosts of victims of unsolved murders. As he races against time, the dead haunt his every step 
Purchase:
Another Canadian mystery/thriller series that I adore. The heroine is not your "typical" accountant, she's a total kick butt heroine! What I love the most about this series is the fact that we get glimpses of other Asian countries as Ava often has to travel to various foreign locales as part of the gigs she takes on. I also love that her home base is in Toronto and as a result many of the places mentioned in the book are places that I've either heard of, walked by or been to. For fans of book adaptions, word is that this series will be adapted into a TV show and I'm hoping that's true and that I get to see Ava Lee on the small screen soon.


There are a lot of good Canadian mystery writers. Peggy Blair is a former lawyer, and her character Inspector Ramírez is someone who will definitely grow on you. I'd recommend this series for those who enjoy the Inspector Gamache series. Unfortunately this series was cut short at only four books. I particularly loved the third book, Hungry Ghosts because of its Canadian setting and Indigenous characters. Although the Cuban setting also makes for a great escape. 
This giveaway is sponsored by Moonbeam Books, an independent bookstore in Toronto, Ontario! 

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