Female protagonist

The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was held at arm’s length. Although Diana is always polite to a fault, Lucy knows that even after marrying Oliver, she and Diana will never have the close bond she imaged and hoped for. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t get to choose your mother-in-law. Diana is the matriarch of a loving family, a pillar of her community and Lucy just wanted to please her.
That was ten years ago. Now Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But things do not add up; the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation, the suicide note was left concealed in a drawer, and everyone in the family is hiding something… Read More »

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir, by Samra Habib

How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don’t exist?
Growing up as an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan, Samra Habib learned from a young age that revealing their identity could put them in grave danger. But fleeing the threat of Islamic extremists and emigrating to Canada did not solve any of these problems. Instead, Samra was faced with a whole new host of challenges: racism, bullying, poverty and an arranged marriage.
With their life policed by men, and with their only example of womanhood being a pious and obedient wife, Samra began a journey of self-discovery. A journey that would encompass faith, art, love and queer sexuality, and which would take them across the globe in search of a truth that was inside them all along. Read More »

The Simple Wild, by K. A. Tucker

Calla Fletcher was born in Alaska, but she has not been back since leaving with her mother at the age of two. Unable to handle the isolation and the extreme conditions of the Alaskan wilderness, Calla’s mother also left behind her husband, and Calla’s father, Wren; and she never looked back. Now 26 and estranged from her father, Calla only knows a comfortable Toronto lifestyle. Until an unexpected phone call and the news that Wren is seriously ill brings the past right back into her life. With time running out, Calla journeys to Alaska to rekindle a relationship with her father.
Adjusting to the living conditions in rural Alaska is hard enough, not to mention the roaming wildlife, sky-high prices and the less-than-ideal plumbing situation. But Calla’s return to Alaska is made even more arduous by Jonah, the proud, stubborn and unkempt pilot who helps keep her father’s charter business afloat. Calla is determined to prove to Jonah that she is not the spoiled city girl he thinks she is, and as their fraught relationship turns to friendship, she begins to wonder if there could be something more there. But she is only in Alaska for a short time, and Jonah will never leave. Would it be wise to venture down the same path her parents tried and failed, many years ago? Read More »

This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

On a battlefield, among the ashes of a dying world, an agent finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. So begins an unlikely correspondence between two enemy agents, Red and Blue, each determined to win the war for their faction. What started as a battlefield taunt soon turns into something else, something romantic and epic. But also, something forbidden.
The discovery of their correspondence, let alone their blossoming relationship, could mean death for each of them. There is still a war going on after all, and someone has to win the war. Read More »

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett

The city of Bulikov was once the greatest city on the Continent, thanks to the all-powerful Gods who watched over its people. But these Gods also had the power to conquer the world and enslave its people, until they were killed themselves. Now Bulikov’s illustrious history has been censored and its inhabitants subjugated. The city itself was irrevocably altered by the death of the Gods and stands as a constant haunting reminder to its inhabitants of the lives they once lived.
Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. On the surface, she is just another junior bureaucrat sent by the city’s oppressors to lord it over them. But beneath her official veneer, Shara is in fact one of her country’s most accomplished spies. She was sent to Bulikov to investigate a murder but soon realizes that there is much more going on amongst the rubble. And she begins to suspect that the all-powerful Gods may not be as dead as everyone thinks. Read More »

Two Trees Make a Forest, by Jessica J. Lee

After unearthing a hidden memoir of her grandfather’s life, Jessica J. Lee was determined to learn more about her family’s history. So she journeyed to Taiwan in search of answers. Taiwan is an island of extremes: from towering mountains to dense rainforests and barren escarpments. But its political history is also fraught with obstacles, mystery and tension.
Seeking to piece together her family’s past, as they moved from China to Taiwan, and then further on to Canada, Jessica not only has to navigate the tumultuous terrain of Taiwan, but also the treacherous and uncertain world of memory and language. Read More »

Five Little Indians, by Michelle Good

Five children, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie, taken from their families at a very young age, to a remote church-run residential school. After years of horrible treatment, abuse and malnutrition, they are simply released into the world at age 18. Without any skills, qualifications or life experience, the young people find their way to the seedy world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Their paths cross over the decades as they all strive to survive and find a place within this world that doesn’t want them.

Fuelled by rage, Clara finds her way into the dangerous world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalises all of her past pain but keeps putting herself in dangerous situations. Famous among the children for his daring escapes from the residential school, Kenny can’t stop running. Moving from job to job, trying to outrun his memories and find a life. Lucy finds peace in motherhood, but struggles with a compulsive disorder, fuelled by the years of cleaning at the school. After beating one of his tormentors almost to death, Howie serves some time in prison, before being released and trying to re-enter society once again. Read More »

The Right to be Cold, by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Arctic ice sheet is melting. Polar bears and other Arctic animals are losing their habitat and their lives. But what of the people who call these cold polar regions home? They are also losing their homes, their livelihoods, and the land which has sustained their way of life for centuries. And yet, nobody is talking about them or their plight. Or indeed the fact that their plight will be shared by the rest of the world if we do not take a stand on global warming.
Sheila Warr-Cloutier is someone who has dedicated her life to bringing these issues to the global stage. As an Inuk, born and raised in the cold Arctic, she knows better than most the struggles that the indigenous Arctic communities have faced, ever since the missionaries first arrived on their shores. But those struggles pale in comparison to what they are now facing. Loss of sea ice and hunting grounds, collapsing buildings and roads due to melting permafrost, health issues caused by invisible pollutants, and many more. Read More »

Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure, by Monisha Rajesh

When British journalist Monisha Rajesh announced her plan to travel around the globe on 80 trains, it seemed like a crazy idea. But with much organisation and planning, it wasn’t long before she had plotted a journey of 45,000 miles, nearly twice the circumference of the world. This route would take her on some of the most famous and infamous trains in the world.
From the vastness of the Trans-Mongolian railway to the cloud-skimming heights of the Qinghai-Tibet railway and the luxurious Simplon Orient Express. With many other less salubrious and diverse trains as well. With just a backpack and her fiancé Jem in tow, Monisha spent seven months hopping on and off trains and meeting some truly remarkable characters along the way. Read More »

The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for a Chicago art gallery, is about the pull off the coup of his career. The collection of extraordinary 1920s paintings will not only secure his career but make a name for the gallery. But as his professional life is soaring, the world around him is crumbling. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, his friends are dying one by one. After his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles ever closer and soon the only person Yale has left is Nico’s younger sister Fiona.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter Claire. Staying with a friend from Chicago, a famous photographer who captured the AIDS crisis in all of its raw details, Fiona can finally start to explore how much the epidemic affected her life. Read More »