It’s Canada Day – Here’s Some Of The Best Canadian YA


We’re 146 years old today – go us!

You know, if you ask a lot of people to name the first thing that pops into their head when you ask them about Canada, you’ll hear:

1) We live in igloos

2) Wayne Gretzky (who has been retired from hockey for the past fourteen years)

3) We’re very polite unless you diss Wayne Gretzky or worse, Bobby Orr.


We do have some literary giants though – the obvious one that comes to mind is Margaret Atwood. There’s Margaret Laurence, Alice Munro and my personal fave, Mordecai Richler. But what about those Canadian authors who aren’t writing literary fiction and instead are digging into YA?  We have some tremendous talents and I’m going list a few for your reading pleasure.

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody . . . and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school. But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme is threatened. So when Tim asks her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, Cass reluctantly agrees. As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance. . . .


The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade (Go Saskatoon!)

When Mr. Socrates, a member of the shadowy PermanentAssociation, hears of a hunchbacked infant with theability to transform his appearance, he decides to take him in.Naming him Modo, he raises the boy in isolation, training himto become a secret agent. Then, when Modo turns fourteen,his education is complete. He is transported to the streets ofdowntown London and abandoned, penniless, to try to survive.

But Modo is resourceful, and he finds a way to get by,keeping to himself . . . until one day, when the beautiful OctaviaMilkweed knocks on his door. Soon, with the help of Mr.Socrates, Modo and Octavia find themselves uncovering a sinisterplot being carried out in the very sewers beneath their feet.Will they be able to stop the mad scientist Dr. Hyde before heunleashes his monstrous plans upon unsuspecting Londoners?

PS – Arthur Slade is a Governor General Award winner whose novel DUST should be required reading in Canadian classrooms.


40 Things I Want To Tell You by Alice Kuipers (Go Saskatoon!)

Amy (a.k.a. Bird) seems to have the perfect life: loving parents, a hot boyfriend, the best friend ever. She even writes an online advice column, full of Top Tips, to help other teens take control of their lives. But after a new guy shows up at school, Bird can’t seem to follow her own wisdom.

Pete is the consummate bad boy. He’s everything Bird is not: wild, unambitious and more than a little dangerous. Although she knows he’s trouble, Bird can’t stay away. And the more drawn she is to Pete, the more cracks are revealed in her relationship with Griffin, her doting boyfriend. Meanwhile, her parents’ marriage is also fracturing, possibly for good.

Bird is way out of her comfort zone. All it takes is one mistake, one momentary loss of control, for her entire future to be blown away . . .


This Dark Endeavor – The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.

The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.

The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.


Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of a slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker … but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time— literally—maybe even get a date.


And hey … if you really want to dig into Canadian Middle Grade & YA talent, check out The Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award list. There’s a ton of awesome books written by Canadians.


Alternative CBC Bookie Awards



The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) which to its credit has the most vigorous media presence in the entire country when it comes to the written word through CBC Books, Canada Reads, Canada Writes and a boatload of other book related events online (not to mention two, count ’em TWO radio shows … The Next Chapter hosted by Shelagh Rogers as well as  Writers & Company hosted by Eleanor Wachtel) has a fun little contest about nothing going on right now. It’s the CBC Bookie Awards. No cash value but winners get a golden beaver in the mail. (I covet this, by the way.)

It’s a pretty good collection of books assuming you don’t read a lot of zombie apocalypse, horror, urban fantasy, dystopia … self pubbed, paranormal romance, romance …. I could go on and on. CBC did include erotica, though … good for you CBC!

At any rate, there’s some solid reads on there – from Robert J. Sawyer to Corey Redekop … but there’s a ton of books that weren’t listed. (Yeah, mine’s not there. Meh.) I’ve long been a strong advocate for the CBC to promote books that aren’t literary fiction and there’s a few in their list, but nowhere near enough. (I know … CBC didn’t pick the list, but still.) With that in mind, I’m going to use my website to do an alternative CBC Bookie Awards because I know that readers of my blog read the kind of stuff I read and there’s some freaking fantastic genre-writing talent in this country that consistently winds up getting passed over. So … I’ll throw it out to you. Email me your favorite books by Canadian authors in the following categories and I’ll make a shortlist. In a couple of weeks, I’ll give readers a chance to vote and we’ll see who the winners of my alternative Bookie Awards might be.

The categories are:

Best Canadian Urban Fantasy

Best Canadian Paranormal Romance

Best Canadian Science Fiction

Best Canadian Young Adult

Best Canadian Middle Grade

Best Canadian Crime

Best Canadian Self Published Genre Novel

Best Cover Art on a Canadian Genre Book

Favorite Canadian Genre Author

So email your choices to info AT sean DASH cummings DOT ca (and any categories I should add).  Let’s celebrate Canadian Genre Fiction!!

What I’m hoping is to contact each winner and do an interview with them promoting their book on my hand-dandy little blog here. So … anyone interested? Let’s hear what you have to say about great Canadian genre reads!!