Homegrown: Locally Produced Reads (September 19)

We’ve picked some of the highlights and best of the fall season and recently released with weekly batches of fresh new books. Equally stoked to spotlight some of the Canadian indie publishers we know and love—all with their own unique identities—we’ve chosen one exciting book each from over 40 indies. Read more about today’s picks, and peek authors showing off their books in their local communities!

Locally Produced Reads: Homegrown


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Partum Me by Natalie Pendergast (Conundrum Press)

Graphic Novel

Anyone who’s ever been a mother knows the messiness of being one—now add to that chronic illness during pregnancy and early motherhood. Award-winning writer and self-taught cartoonist, Natalie Pendergast shares the gritty and intense moments of her pregnancy and postpartum as someone with chronic illness, revealing that dignity is not always about presenting as pristine and pure. A series of vignettes, this graphic novel will especially speak to anyone in the thick of motherhood, and anyone who’s been there. 

Located in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia, Conundrum Press is an exclusive publisher of graphic novels from award-winning and emerging voices across Canada. This is the press for graphic novel enthusiasts and anyone looking to discover new artists in the field. 

Click here for more about Partum Me + purchasing options.

Urbane by Anna Marie Sewell (Stonehouse Publishing)


This past summer, All Lit Up book club read Anna Marie Sewell’s thriller Humane, the prequel to her latest Urbane. A blend of crime fiction, Indigenous folklore, and the family novel, we’re excited to once again dig into the world of Hazel Lesage, a Métis mother of two who takes it upon herself to find justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women as an unlicensed PI. In Urbane, the story continues with an examination of the urban-rural divide for Indigenous people as Hazel attempts to get her land back from an ex. On a mission of vengeance and redemption, Hazel draws us right back into her orbit.

Nestled in the alternately dusty and snowy Canadian Prairies, Stonehouse Publishing is an Alberta-based publisher specializing in literary and trade fiction since 2014. This is the press for anyone who loves historical novels and literary fiction with beautiful covers. 

Click here for more about Urbane + purchasing options. 

Dark PR by Grant Ennis (Daraja Press)


We know multinationals and corporations are masters of spin, but how exactly do they manipulate us? Grant Ennis’s Dark PR promises to demystify just that. Drawing on decades of experience working in the environmental, philanthropy, and public health sectors, Ennis underlines the deeply seated structures and patterns that continue to wreak havoc on our environment, healthcare, and general well being. The same companies that sell us products also sell us solutions to the problems they perpetuate. This book is a rally cry for collective organization to lobby governments and break the cycle.

Daraja Press is a not-for-profit publisher, based in Québec, that seeks to reclaim the past, contest the present, and invent the future. This is the press for intellectuals engaged in struggles for a just world. 

Click here for more about Dark PR + purchasing options.

Blacklion by Luke Francis Beirne (Baraka Books)


Luke Francis Beirne’s first novel Foxhaunt was a beautifully written slow burn of a literary intrigue novel, and his second novel Blacklion is just as intensely readable. Beirne’s latest transports us to Bloody Sunday in 1972 Ireland as the story follows US native and CIA operative Raymond Daly sent to Ireland to run guns to the IRA. When a young Irish woman begins to crack his obedient CIA shell, Ray’s mission takes a turn.

For readers of political and historical fiction and non-fiction, Baraka Books is the press for readers of political and historical fiction and non-fiction. A Quebec-based English-language book publisher, Baraka specializes in creative and political non-fiction, history, and historical fiction, as well as literary fiction.

Click here for more about Blacklion + purchasing options.

The Abduction of Seven Forgers by Sean Dixon (Freehand Books)


In this vivid, fascinating world of art and expression, a group of artists are taken hostage by an angry art collector who threatens to replace the forgeries he obtained from them in the past—unless they create original artworks at his suburban London home. Master storyteller Sean Dixon explores the power of art and artistic creation in this enjoyable, inventive novel, described by Pasha Malla as a “season of Big Brother co-directed by Wes Anderson and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.”

Check out Sean’s book launch in Toronto at the Tranzac Club on October 4. Click here for details.

Freehand Books is a publisher of aesthetically diverse, award-winning fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by established authors and exciting new voices. This is the publisher for readers who want great reads from a press that prides itself on high-quality books with innovative designs.

Click here for more about The Abduction of Seven Forgers + purchasing options.

A brief relief from hunger by Spenser Smith (Gordon Hill Press)


We love a debut writer at All Lit Up and are pretty excited about this offering from Spenser Smith. In his collection of poems about desires—big (human connection) and small (fast food)—a recovering drug addict consumes Big Macs after rehab as the Vancouver around him drug spirals. Brimming with empathy, A brief relief from hunger reflects on British Columbia’s drug supply crisis, and the way in which society is often cruel, especially online, to those suffering from addiction. And if you were to judge a book by its cover (we wouldn’t dare), this one turned our heads pretty quick.

Gordon Hill Press is a publisher of poetry and stylistically innovative fiction, non-fiction, and literary criticism (especially concerning poetry). This is the press for readers who enjoy a diversity of writers, particularly writers living with invisible disabilities, and those who especially value beautiful books.

Click here to read more about A brief relief from hunger + purchasing options.

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Join us here every Tuesday and Thursday until October 12 for a roundup of fresh new books. Books can be purchased on All Lit Up (with free shipping Canada-wide), or from your local indie bookstore (try our Shop Local button located on every book listing to find copies at your local indie).