ALU Spring Preview 2021: Staff Picks

BEST OF THE BLOG 2021Book people know spring weather signals new books—and we’re ready for both! Below, we pick some of the books we’re looking forward to digging into this season. 


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Leyla’s Pick

Constant Nobody by Michelle Butler Hallett (Goose Lane Editions)

Available Now

I’ve been watching the Daniel Craig canon of Bond films recently and unexpectedly finding myself loving the thrill of a bit of espionage and danger. So, this spring I’ll be grabbing Michelle Butler Hallett’s Constant Nobody. Set in 1937—and taking place during the Spanish Civil War and within Soviet Era Moscow—this read definitely gets extra marks for hitting my historical fiction nerve. When British Intelligence Agent Temerity West crosses paths in Basque Country with Soviet Secret Police Agent Kostya Nikto, she thinks she is as good as dead. Instead, he spares her life and they go on to meet again in even more dangerous circumstances, this time in Russia. With his judgement impaired, Kostya goes out of his way to deliver Temerity to safety, but in the cold light of day, both must reconcile the cost of their actions if they want to stay alive. 

Order a copy on All Lit Up.

Mandy’s Pick 

How to Fail as a Popstar by Vivek Shraya (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Available Now

Last year I binged Vivek Shraya’s The Subtweet (ECW Press), page-turning novel about two brown musicians whose friendship comes apart via social media. The novel speaks to art, race, and allyship—and, in my opinion, deserving of all the retweets. Now, I’m looking forward to reading Vivek’s one-person play which Vanity Fair described as a “cultural rocket fuel.” How to Fail as a Popstar is said to chronicle her journey from singing in shopping malls to “not quite” pop music superstardom and reflects on pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and finding one’s authentic voice. 

Order a copy on All Lit Up.

Laura’s Pick 

Big Reader by Susan Olding (Freehand Books)

Available May 1

Reading Susan Olding’s essays is to spend time in the company of a warm, extra-perceptive witness to the experiences that make up a life–a writer who makes language sing. As a longtime fan of her work, I can’t wait for this collection to land.

Preorder a copy on All Lit Up

Barb’s Pick

Murder on the Inside by Catherine Fogarty (Biblioasis) 

Available April 13

When I was 11 I went to my first author signing, for a book called Go Boy by Roger Caron (probably not his intended audience but I was very excited and he was very kind). It was a fascinating biography and the eyewitness account of the 1971 Kingston Pen riot was horrifying. That book has remained resonant (I’ve reread it at least twice since) and I am thus deeply interested in reading Catherine Fogarty’s Murder on the Inside for a fresh view on a still very pertinant topic. In “drawing attention to the dehumanizing realities of their incarceration, including overcrowding, harsh punishment and extreme isolation” the prisoners of 1971 spoke to concerns that are very much still relevant today. 

Preorder a copy on All Lit Up.

Tan’s Pick

The Rogue Wave by Paul Nicholas Mason (Now or Never Publishing)

Available April 15

Librarians across Canada picked Paul Nicholas Mason’s The Rogue Wave as one of the top 10 most anticipated books of April 2021, and I can’t agree more. Opening with the capsizing of a tourist boat in the Bay of Fundy, The Rogue Wave takes us on an international journey that has all the twists of a really good Soap Opera: A fiance with amnesia; a private eye; and, dark and sisiter forces on the loose. It’s a perfect Summer Read, whether you’ll be spending it in the beach, or your backyard.

Preorder a copy on All Lit Up.

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