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Apartment613 holiday gift list of books by local authors

By Apartment613 on December 10, 2013


Earlier this year, Apartment613 started the Write On Ottawa series to profile the great literary talent in our city.  With Christmas fast approaching, we are looking back at all the writers that we spoke to this year, as well as giving a sneak preview to some of the reviews coming in the weeks and months ahead.

Below we have listed more than 60 writers from the National Capital Region, as well as various independent stores where you can purchase books and comics.  All listed authors have been reviewed by Apartment613, except for those named under Upcoming Reviews.

Personal Favourites

The Adventures of Claire Never EndingWhile interests vary from reader to reader, here are six writers who caught our attention in 2013. Catherine Brunelle launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year that was incredibly successful.  With the money that she raised she published her debut novel The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending that is now available online.

Peggy Blair’s mystery series with Insp. Ricardo Ramirez, the head of Havana’s Major Crimes Unit, is a delight to read.  Not only is it great fiction, it also offers interesting observations on Cuba and Canada.

David O’Meara is certainly one of the best poets in Ottawa, and arguably one the top poetic talents in Canada.  His latest collection A pretty sight was published this past fall and is fantastic.

Want to give a present to a young child?  Consider The Pocket Mommy by Rachel Eugster, a charming book that is on the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s Great Books 2014 list.

Looking for experimental literature?  Then consider Michael Blouin, author of I Don’t Know How to Behave and Wore Down Trust.  Blouin combines poetry, fiction, screenplays and even drawings to produce truly innovative work.

Shane Rhodes’ latest poetry collection X is also cutting-edge stuff.  While not easy to read, it definitely breaks new poetic ground.

rob mclennan

Local literary jack-of-all-trades rob mclennan (his name is spelled all lowercase) deserves his own category.  A prolific blogger, co-founder of the Ottawa Small Press Fair, publisher of above/ground press, key driving force behind Chaudiere Books, and once again a proud father, he is a true literary treasure.  While we have reviewed some of his recent work, let us suggest Ottawa: The Unknown City, a work that he published a few years back and which reveals all of our city’s wonderful secrets.

Upcoming Review: Ground Rules: the best of the second decade of above/ground press 2003–2013.


Shooting the BruceSeveral good novels were published in 2013.  Shooting the Bruce by Clive Doucet tells the story of Tom Travis, a Canadian soldier who has a mental breakdown while serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and who reinvents himself as a photographer in a small Ontario town.

Maura Quell by Rita Donovan takes place in the early 19th-century, and tells the tale of a poor young girl convicted of theft in England, before being sent to Australia in a convict ship.

Cube Squared by Christian McPherson offers a funny perspective on the nuttiness that is the federal public service.

If you want to explore Ottawa’s dark side there is Run Charlie Run by John Wiber.  Then there is Stage 11, a novella by Jill Landry that is a spy thriller set in France.

If you would like to give someone a collection of short stories, consider The Breadfruit Tree by Gabriela Etcheverry.  Another option is Holy Christmas!  by Paul Mackan that has several stories for the holiday season.

Upcoming Reviews: Light by Nathan Burgoine; Two Boys From Aden College by Qais Ghanem; Stuck by Stacey D. Atkinson; Castles in the Air by Mary Hagey; Lucia’s Masks by Wendy MacIntyre; Kathleen’s Cariole Ride by Margaret Virany; The Old Man’s Last Sauna by Carl Dow.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Blood-RelationsIf you like vampire stories then definitely pick up Blood Relations by Caroline Fréchette.  Are Zombies more of your thing? There is Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies by Victoria Dunn, the evil hive mind of local writers Victoria Higgins and Meghan Dunn.

Sinkhole by Deborah Jackson is great.  This captivating novel is about a group of scientists who get lost in a remote region of Mexico while exploring one of the deepest caves in the world.

If you like your sci-fi with a healthy dose of humour, then check out Snake Oil by Bruno Lombardi, a comedic story about a race of space aliens that try to hoodwink humanity into poor business deals.

Upcoming Reviews: The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns.


Fans of good detective stories had good choices to pick from in 2013.  Barbara Fradkin released The Whisper of Legends, the latest installment in her Insp. Green series.  Mike Martin, meanwhile, is the creative force behind RCMP Sgt. Winston Windflower and his sleuthing adventures in Newfoundland.

Upcoming Reviews: Kirk’s Landing by Mike Young.

Children’s Books and YA Novels

Objects in MirrorThere are good options for the teenager on your Christmas list.  Objects in Mirror by Tudor Robins looks at the difficult issue of teenage eating disorders, while Break Point by Kate Jaimet offers a fast-paced, action-packed story that revolves around tennis.

Charlie Sparrow and the Secret of Flight is a beautiful book by David Anderson that would make a great gift for any child.  If you are looking for another title, Brian-O by Paul Mackan is suitable for a younger audience.

Upcoming Reviews: The Songcatcher and Me by Ruth Latta; Jack and the Fairy Dogmother by Tammie Winsor; Carry Tiger to the Mountain and Ayyita by Camila Reimers; My Mother is Weird by Rachna Gilmore; The Lemonman: A Picture Book Series by Natasha Ferrill.


Ghost KingThe National Capital Region has a surprisingly strong community of graphic illustrators and writers who produce a wide range of comics.  In the first few months of 2014, the Write On Ottawa series will profile some of our local comic book creators, whether in print form and/or online.

Until then, if you want to buy comics made in the National Capital Region, head over to Mirror Comics where you can make a purchase online, or go to one of several stores in the city that carry their impressive collection of works.

Keep your eye out for upcoming reviews of Ghost King, Zomkeys and Mission Arizona.

Political Journalism

As the nation’s capital, Ottawa is home (whether permanently or temporarily) for some of the best journalists in the country.  A previous post looked at books by Paul Wells of Maclean’s, John Ibbitson of The Globe and Mail, and Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star.

Althia Raj, the Huffington Post’s Ottawa Bureau Chief and one of the original founders of Apartment613, released earlier this year an e-book on Justin Trudeau.


COnflictOur region is filled with brilliant poets, such as the talented Sandra Ridley, whose latest collection The Counting House was released this past fall.  Conflict by Christine McNair, which was nominated for a 2013 Ottawa Book Award, is another work to keep in mind when shopping for presents.

Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier is a moving book that tackles the issue of mental illness and suicide. Occupations by Chris Jennings is another interesting work, while Sonia Saikaley is an excellent writer of poetry and fiction.

Want handmade poetry chapbooks? Then Apt. 9 is for you.

Upcoming Reviews: My Life in Pictures by Christian McPherson; Masham Means Evening by Kanina Dawson.

Food and Drink

If you are foodie you should take note of blogger Heather Heagney who has penned After the Harvest: Eat. Drink. Connect., a coffee table book that looks at people, food, drink and travel.

Upcoming Reviews: The SimplyRaw Kitchen by Natasha Kyssa; Light Bulb Baking by Todd Coopee.

Non-Fiction and Anthologies

pregnantAre you an expectant mother?  Then blogger and author Katina Michelis has written the book for you: You’re Pregnant – Now What? This work offers a glimpse of what life during pregnancy is like, what to expect with a newborn, as well as containing important information for new dads.

If you’re interested in urban landscapes, local historian Shannon Ricketts has produced a walking guide on Werner Ernst Noffke, one of Ottawa’s most influential architects.

For her part, Christa Mayaliwa has written a powerful memoir about her battle with systemic arthritis as a young child and teenager, and being abandoned by her father.

Upcoming Reviews: Immigrant Songs edited by Antonino Mazza; My Arab Spring My Canada by Qais Ghanem and Elie M. Nasrallah.


Given that we are an English publication we do not cover too many French writers.  However, if you are looking for authors who work in the language of Molière, there is Yoan St-Onge.  Also look out for a review in the new year of Pierre-Luc Bélanger’s novel 24 heures de liberté.

Independent Book Stores

Above we have mentioned some local writers.  Now it’s time to highlight local businesses were you can buy bookish gifts for the holiday season.

After Stonewall (370 Bank): A combination LGBT book store and art gallery, with a focus on local artists and functional art.

Black Squirrel Books (508 Bank): Carries new books by local authors as well as used books.

Books on Beechwood (35 Beechwood): A great independent bookstore that makes local readers proud.

Brittons (846 Bank): Carries books by local authors, including many mystery writers, as well as newspapers and magazines.

Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books (1018 Bank): The store to go to for children’s books and YA novels.

Octopus Books (116 Third Ave. and 251 Bank): A wide selection of books, including numerous titles by progressive authors.

Perfect Books (258A Elgin): An excellent bookstore in the Golden Triangle/Centretown area that carries a wide variety of authors.

Read’s Book Shop (135 Bridge St.,  Carleton Place): Sells local books and hosts events for Ottawa-area authors.

Where to buy local comics

The Comic Shoppe (228 Bank and 1400 Clyde Ave.)

Myths Legends & Heroes (240 Montreal Rd.)

Local Publishing Houses

Chaudiere Books

Buschek Books

Apt. 9 Press