Saturday, August 27, 2016

BOOKS: Eleanor's Heartburn in the Kingdom

I just went through a spell of really, really good reads. The kind that have you flitting about for the next read because, how will it compare with what you just finished? Three in a row.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I had the print copy, but ended up listening non-stop to the audiobook version. Non-stop.

My first Rowell! Set in the 80s, two misfits find love after sitting together on the bus. Park is half-Korean, and comes from a loving and supportive home. Things aren't perfect but his parents are trying. Eleanor has a horrific home life, with an evil step-father, and no money. Eleanor broke my heart, trying to fit in and get by, and then she meets Park. After dissing Romeo and Juliet as a stupid lovestory, (yay!) the story then proceeds to show the depth that teenage love can reach.

(What goes on in the mind of those controlling asshat men? I almost wanted to read the story from her step-father's point of view, because what thought process happens to make men so controlling and unreasonable? I probably don't really want to read that story, but it did occur to me. He was such a stereotypical character, but they are all over the place in real life.)

Also, this story was a good reminder as a teacher that what you see in class can tell you nothing about students' home life.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by Meryl Streep

Still in the 80s, but now it was written in 1983, not a look back. First up, Ephron is hilarious! She's written some iconic movies -When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Silkwood, Julie & Julia. I also read her book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck and loved it.

This is a semi-autobiographical account of her divorce from reporter Carl Bernstein and she manages to take a horrible situation - seven months pregnant and discovering her husband is having an affair, with Thelma Rice of all people! and find the humour. Part of my enjoyment was the narration by Meryl Streep, who played the main character in the movie of the same name. Streep was perfection and the story was short, but hilarious.


The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty, 480 pages

I listened to the first part of this trilogy,  A Corner of White, last summer. I searched out the print copy and still really enjoyed this weird blend of fantasy, alternate worlds and science.

How to review the second book, without giving away some of the surprise twists from the end of the first book? I found this little snippit at Librarything:



"This story is unusual, gorgeously written, whimsical and witty. A tale of growing up, friendship and dealing with absent fathers. Peppered with fascinating facts about history of science and the science of colours. The heart of the story is in the characters and their relationships. I thought it was lovely and was enjoying it enormously.

AND THEN! And then, unexpectedly, the pieces suddenly start falling together! This was incredibly exciting and satisfying and unexpected."

Oh, the science. James Clerk Maxwell, the duality of electricity and magnetism, wave-particle behaviour of light, Faraday and Newton. There isn't so much science that would be confusing or overwhelming, but just enough if you are into that sort of thing. Which I am!

A Tangle of Gold is the final book, and the end of the second book has left me on the cliff, and looking forward the the ending. 



Friday, August 19, 2016

BOOKS: YA Sync 2016: I'll Give You a Fat Sun on the Jellicoe Road in the Last Jungle

I've been listening to all these contemporary young adult fiction this summer. Listening isn't my best method for taking in information and some of these books are starting to blend together on me. I'm writing some short synopsis to keep them straight.


Fat Angie by e.E Charlton-Trujillo 

Fat Angie has a perfect sister who enlisted in the army to fight in Afghanistan and is missing. Her adopted brother and her mother are pissed at Fat Angie (always called Fat Angie throughout the book) because she tried to kill herself at a school assembly and has brought shame on their family. New girl KC arrives from California and becomes friends with Fat Angie. Takes Angie quite a while to realize that KC is gay and interested. Angie decides to try out for the basketball team, following in her sister's footsteps.
Mother is possibly the worst, cruellest mother in YA fiction. Angie is dealing with lots of guilt, shame, and abuse. Doesn't even notice that Angie has lost weight/got in shape for basketball; won't go to her first basketball game. Pretty good examples of how not to deal with mental illness throughout this book, including her pyschologist. Angie needs to talk to the shrink from Every Last Word (see below).



 I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

Twins, Noah and Jude. Noah tells the story when they are 13; Jude when they are 16. Noah at 13 is sensitive, artsy, dreaming of getting into Art School; and in love with the boy down the road. Jude is living wilder at 13, partying, dating an older boy. Their parents (scientist sporty father, art teacher mother)
At sixteen, Noah and Jude are not speaking, their mother has died in a car accident, Jude is in art school and wanting to learn how to scult in rock to help rid her of her mother's ghost.
The back and forth moves the story along, as we try to figure out what happened to lead to the estrangement of Jude and Noah. Some nice tie ups by the end; crazy level betrayals on the part of a couple of thirteen year olds.



On the Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

Australia. Boarding School. Taylor Markham was left at the school. Friends with an off site adviser who becomes missing. Boarding school has leaders, meets with Cadets and negotiates over territories. There are students kidnapped by the cadets and negotiations. Very little schooling going on. There is another story being told by Hannah, (confusing in the beginning who all the people are and when the past story is being told) that appears to be fiction but is probably based on true.

"This book jumps from what happened 18 years ago between a group of five friends and what is happening now between the Townies, the Jellicoe school kids and The Cadets. The leaders of the three groups bond as they help Taylor, the leader of the Jellicoe school find out about her past and her connection to the the five friends." review summary from LT

Takes time to allow the story to develop and characters to become identified, but at halfway, things start to become clear and plots start to come together. Would be worth a reread, on paper instead of audio.




 Every Last Word - Tamara Ireland Stone

Swimmer with OCD who starts to grow apart from her high school friends. Spends a lot of time hiding her OCD, like how she must stop her car with the odometer on a 3. Most of her obsessions have to do with 3. A new girl shows her one day to a secret hideout in the school where students share their poetry. The leader of Poets' Corner, AJ, doesn't like Sam because it turns out she was cruel to him when they were younger. Lots of bullying, and  mental illness and its effects. Romance between Sam and AJ, and reasonable parents and psychiatrist. Forgiveness and acceptance.


Every Last Word
These walls heard
me when no
one else could.

They gave my
words a home,
kept them safe.

Cheered, cried, listened
Changed my life
for the better.

It wasn’t enough.
But they heard
every last word.


Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith

Such a weird book. Austin Szerba has a girlfriend, Shan, and is in love, or at least curious about his best friend, Robby, who is gay. Also, everything makes Austin Szerba horny. Austin is very interested in history and is recording life as it happens just as it becomes history. Lots of weird and gross and unbelievable in a fun and campy way.

"Austin and Robby are witnesses to the beginning of the end of the world as they know it. Their bullies accidentally release a science experiment from their Iowa town's shady past, and soon 6-foot tall bugs begin taking over." 

This is the second book by Smith that was offered in YA Sync and both were quirky with unique writing styles. (100 Sideways Miles)


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books Set in the Maritimes (not including PEI)



This week's topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is books you'd recommend with a particular setting, your choice. I thought about beach books, but since I feel any book is a beach book if you read it on the beach, my choices seemed limitless! I've decided to focus on the Maritimes, but not include my PEI. So, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick based books. (Newfoundland is not considered part of the Maritimes; the four together are called the Atlantic provinces.)

I only picked books I have read and that I liked, a lot.

NEW BRUNSWICK: (poor NB, not so many books as the rest of the Atlantic Provinces, but these are really good)


The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong
Almost not fiction, Armstrong wrote this biography of her great-grandmother but because she built a narrative around the facts and legends, it is fiction. American pioneers have been written about over and over, but life in the backwoods of New Brunswick was very tough. This is a really well done, exciting historical book, and Charlotte Taylor was an amazing woman.


Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
One of my favourite books, this would be a great book club book, with lots of discussion about the main character and the decisions he made. After an incident in his youth, he vows to always turn the other cheek. Is he a coward for never standing up for himself? 


A Neighbourly War by Robert L Dallison
Vol 7 of New Brunswick Military Heritage Series

It's not that this book is anything tremendous, but it represents the local history books that are written and published by local presses. I read mostly all fiction, but history books contain so much information and it is wonderful that the books get written. It made me want to look up more of the NB Military Heritage books at my library. There is one about the American Revolution, and one about War brides that look good.




NOVA SCOTIA: (So many books set in NS, it probably thinks this post is about it)


The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod
Short stories that are just. so. good at capturing that Maritime flavour. Plus, this will lead you to other books by MacLeod, like No Great Mischief, or his son Alexander's books.


Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
Sneaky of me, getting Anne in here by way of Nova Scotia, but that is how she ended up on PEI, just like me! Wilson was given permission to write this prequel to Anne of Green Gables, and this is not a happy, cheerful book. In fact, my sobbing at the end was because I knew Anne was headed to Marilla and Matthew, and was so happy for her, knowing what was coming, after the terrible beginning she had. Wilson does an admirable job building on the clues Maud wrote.


The Birth House by Ami McKay
Here's a very well known book set on the south shore of Nova Scotia, about a mid-wife. I read this early years of blogging and I know I liked it, good historical fiction, but I really can't remember much. Weird names? 


The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre
Before I read this book I only knew MacIntyre as an investigative reporter for CBC. He won the Giller prize with this well done book about abuse withing the church, within Cape Breton. Great characterization and setting. I've always meant to read another MacIntyre book.


Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan
Every December 6th, the people of NS send a giant Christmas tree to Boston in remembrance and thanks for their help during the Halifax explosion of 1917. This is a great easy read that will have you on the edge of your seat and then send you out looking for some more information about the worst man-made explosion, only eclipsed by atomic bombs. This is an oldie but a goodie.



Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Probably the best known of all these books, Fall On Your Knees was an Oprah pick early on in O's book club phenomenom. Again, I know I liked it, but not loved it back in the day. 



On South Mountain by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths
This non-fiction book is set in the Annapolis Valley and investigates how the Golers happened. The Golers were a mountain clan, very poor, and isolated and insular with generations of abuse and incest. It wasn't until the 1980s that the abuse came to light. I remember seeing and hearing about the Golers on TV when in high school, and 'the Golers' was a common insult for people my age to throw around. Not after reading the book. There was nothing funny about this story; it is horrifying and reprehensible and embarrassing that the clans were allowed to continue, because you see, people knew. Doctors, police, and officials all knew and just excused it as 'mountain folk'. 

This book is probably a little obscure, but Lauren B Davis has written a fictional book, Our Daily Bread, based on the Goler family that may be easier to find. Not easy reading by any means, but until we know our past...











Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books You'd Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card





This week's topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is books you'd buy right this second if someone handed you a fully loaded gift card! Who wouldn't love that? Some are books I plan to read, some are books that aren't really available easily.

1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (I just about bought this one today!)

2. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Still really want to read this re-telling of Pride and Prejudice



3. Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People by John Banville
I heard about this book and it sounded so cool, even though it is not available through Indigo right now. Different authors were asked to write a portrait based on paintings in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Kind of like The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys, which I loved

4. Montalbano's First Cases by Andrea Camilleri

5. Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
a book I can't get at my library from 2015 Bailey's Prize

6. Girl at War by Sara Novic
Also can't get at my library from 2016 Bailey's Prize



7. Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried
"Fictitious Dishes serves up a delectable assortment of photographic interpretations of culinary moments from contemporary and classic literature"

8. The Invention of Everything Else by Samatha Hunt
A story of history, fiction, and science and has Nicolas Tesla as a character. If you don't know much about Tesla, you should watch this short video by Hank Green about him. Priceless - I love showing my physics classes this biography.








9. Cowboy and Octopus by John Scieskza
This was a book we loved from the library when the children were young and I had put it on my wishlist at Indigo (and never updated). I'd never really buy it, but it would be fun to still have around.

10. Audiobooks! audiobooks! audiobooks! 
I only read audio books that I can get through my library (or my sister's) or through YA Sync so there are lots of times I look for a book but can't find it, unless I were to buy it. I can't pick one in particular, so instead I'll take a credit for a book or two at audible.com.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BOOKS: Jack Caffrey by Mo Hayder


Mo Hayder writes the scariest police books I've read. Like, Criminal Minds creepy. I've finished the series now, and several threads were tied up and it feels like a good place to stop.

1. Birdman
2. The Treatment - the only book I listened to, and I loved the narrator and the way he said 'Jack'

The first two books are very graphic and disturbing. One of the overarching stories is about Ewan, Jack's younger brother who disappeared when they were young. Jack has always felt it was their back door neighbour, Pendericki who still lives behind him. So, serial killers and pedophiles dominate the opening books. Just warning!

3. Ritual
4. Skin
5. Gone

Books 3-5 form a little mini-trilogy in the middle of the series. Police diver Flea Marley takes a center stage and an unsolved case carries through. There is some connection between Flea and Jack that needs to be developed, but Flea is no more together than Jack. Jack has moved out of London and seems to be moving on from Ewan's death. A few more serial killers, lots of suspense.

6. Poppet
7. Wolf


Poppet by Mo Hayder (384 pages)

Something weird is going on at a mental hospital and Jack gets called in on the sly, because the whistle-blower isn't supposed to be reporting the suspicious deaths. The cover is creepy, and so is the book. But really good if you like creepy suspense!

Not much Flea in this one, but she is still on Jack's mind.







Wolf by Mo Hayder (416 pages)

Sometimes, worrying about what might happen is scarier than what actually happens. That is the theme of this book, as a family is taken hostage, and they are still a bit creeped out by a brutal murder that happened in the area fifteen years before. As a reader, you are just as scared as the family about what might happen even if nothing even really happens. The power of imagination. Now, having said that, there are some super creepy and scary people in this one. Let's just say I read most of this one during the daylight hours!
Jack finally gets some closure but he's still pretty messed up.


Hayder has a few stand alone novels as well - Hanging Hill, Toyko, and Pig Island that I will definitely look into. Any one feeling brave enough to try some Hayder?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY:



The Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, this week is Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them. 



Redwoods/Giant Sequoias - I just wrote a post about this! Both At the Edge of the Orchard and The Cookbook Collector had the trees as important parts of the story.

Paris in the Twenties - After reading The Paris Wife, I wanted more! I found Z: Zelda which was more of the same people (Hemngways and Fitzgeralds). 

Sicily -  Italy would be great for many, many reasons, but Salva Montalbano, chief detective and the food he eats make me want to see it. There are actually tours you can take to 'follow' Montalbano around.

Greenwich - A World Heritage Site, the location of O degree longitude and center of time scientific study, inspired by Longitude by Dava Sobel

Lyme Regis, England - the fossils in Southern England, including Mary Anning's home/museum from Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

London - So many books have contributed to my wanting to visit London but foremost is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and the tube system. Also, my Bridget Jones' readings.

Switzerland - Heidi. Didn't eveyone who read Heidi want to go to Switzerland? She's the Anne of Green Gables of Europe.

The Strand, New York City - the bookstore where Dash and Lily met in Dash and Lily's Book of Dares in the heart of NYC. There are probably hundreds of other places mentioned in books in New York that I'd love to see.

French Revolution - I never finished reading Les Miserables, and I haven't seen the musical (gasp!). However, a few books I've read make me want to learn more about that time period of the French revolution and Napoleon.

I'm sure I've missed some big ideas that I would have liked to add. One thing that I haven't been inspired despite reading about, is hiking a trail like in Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I hope to read Bill Bryson's walk on the Appalacian Trail book, but I will not plan or dream of walking it. 




Sunday, July 24, 2016

CHALLENGE: Pin It and Do It

Is Pin It and Do It still at thing at Trish's Love, Laughter and Insanity? Cause I have been all over it this summer! Eh, even if it isn't, I'm pretending it is so I can share these two salads.



Since my sixteen year old daughter decided to become a vegetarian, I've created a board called Vegetarian Ideas. She likes hummus and black beans, and we now that brocolli and peas are a source of protein, as is quinoa. She also likes fish when it's breaded. We don't all eat vegetarian, but we are having vegetarian meals now and then, or bbq'ing her veggie dogs while we have our hams and hots. 

This salad, called Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing was good on a few levels. It held up in the fridge for quite a few days (makes a lot if you follow the directions) and was hearty and healthy. The rainbow part is corn, red pepper, broccoli, red cabbage and carrot. There's enough protein for a meal on its own, or as a side for the meat eaters. Will make again.


Quite a few years ago I had a fattoush salad at a local Lebanese restaurant and I just loved it. It's been on my mind for a while and then I found it on pinterest, here's the link. Score! It's pretty basic salad - romaine, tomatoes, radish, and a few ingredients for the dressing that I did need to get. Sumac spice and a pomengranate molasses are the flavours that really make this salad tasty. I left out the dried mint but I happened to have some fresh in the fridge. A little lemon juice, little olive oil. The other unique part of the salad is the pita chips - sort of a crouton. Overall, I will definitely be making this salad again.


If there is no more Pin It and Do It, then let's say it is for Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. I've always wanted to do one of these as I love to read other posts each week. 

Please do visit Weekend Cooking for lots more food related postings. 
wkendcooking.jpg

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BOOKS: At the Edge of the Cookbook Collector's Orchard

Did you ever read two random books that end up having something unusual in common? That happened to me recently. And now that I put their two covers together, there is even more in common! Surprise - it is not apples.




At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (304 pages)

My favourite historical fiction writer had a new book out this spring. With Johnny Appleseed! Backstory: my sister and I had a record that we loved to listen to. It told the story of simple Johnny Appleseed, spreading the word of the Lord along with apple seeds, to settlers in America. So when I saw my favourite author wrote a book with great childhood memories, I was pumped!


The first half of the book is about a family, an unhappy couple who end up on a swamp in Ohio, trying to grow apples to claim their land. (Johnny doesn't actually play a big part; he drops some seeds or seedlings off and preaches. That's okay, I had the songs in my head the whole time. "Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord....''') The husband is obsessed with getting his apples to grow, and grafting. The wife is all about the cider Applejack and being drunk. The kids are all struggling what with the no money, the drunk mother, and the dad trying to get his trees to grow. 

The second half of the book follows one of the sons as he leaves his horrible family and heads west. Robert Goodenough has his father's interest in trees and he eventually ends up in California. There are some great letters written as well which move the story along. He finds the redwoods and the giant sequoias. I don't think I really realized how rare and huge the trees were, and now obviously I would love to see them! The seed collector that Robert works for, William Lobb, was a real person (about him) involved in the competitive seed collecting world of the mid 1800s. Really!

Anyway, lots happens to Robert, the poor guy, and the story happens. I liked it, good happy ending. Chevalier does amazing research and you feel like you learn a lot, but not really learning. I wouldn't say her stories are heavily character driven. They are a balance of plot and characters, but the reader never gets inside the head of the characters and is kept a distance from the head, but not the action. Not my favourite Chevalier book, but a good solid entry in her booklist.

The next Chevalier novel for me: The Last Runaway, or Reader, I Married Him, a collection of short stories based on Jane Eyre, edited by Chevalier.


The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman (394 pages)

After read Intuition a few years ago, I really wanted to read The Cookbook Collector. The main characters are two sisters Emily and Jess. Emily is the elder, the CEO of a computer start-up from the Bay area in the late 1990s. Money is flying and Emily is very successful. Her boyfriend is the CEO of an equally successful computer company in Boston. Emily is the younger, hippie type with no real focus. She works part time at a book story (owned by the cookbook collector) while completed her MA and saving the trees with her eco group.

The trees! I couldn't believe after never being really aware of the extent of the redwoods and sequoias, I landed on my second book in three months. Jess ends up at one point staying on top of a redwood to prevent it from being cut down.

The story is more than just the two sisters. From each, we branch off and take tangents from each sister to the people involved in their lives. Boyfriends, the people at their work, neighbours, their father. We meander around, but still moving forward. If I started to mention all the topics and issues that get brought up, it would seem too much, but Goodman has her story firmly in her hand and she connects the dots by the end. All these seemingly loose threads get braided up by the end in a very satisfying way. The element of recent history with the collapse of the dot com industry, and 9/11 seem closer than the fifteen years ago it is.

The biggest distractor was that one of the computer companies was called ISIS. I had to look it up because the book was written in 2010, just before the initials became more sinister and well known.

Like the other book I read, Goodman writes real characters, flawed and all, but all the situations are real life, conflict that is real but not far-fetched.

Next Goodman novel for me will be The Other Side of the Island, the only other book my library has.












Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books Set Outside the US




The Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, this week is top ten books set outside the United States. I love reading books set in very different countries and have many different mystery series that are set around the world. Here are a few:






India - The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Detective Vish Puri and his merry band of investigators take on mysteries in Dehli. Enjoy the foods, the people and Puri's interesting family.



Iceland - Reykjavik Night's by Arnaldur Indridason
 Life is bleak and dark in Iceland for much of the year, making lots of work for the police. 




Italy - A Beam of Light by Andrea Camilleri
Ah, nothing like spending some time on Sicily, with good food and hilarious cops. You really must go to Sicily.




Switzerland - Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Not a mystery series but a good read about a modern wife in Switzerland. There is some suspense in reading the book as to what will happen to poor Anna. 




Australia - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The Slap is not a mystery either, but it was a great book about modern Australia. Lots of different perspectives, and immigration issues. There are good mysteries set in Australia - look for Peter Temple or Kerry Greenwood




Ireland - Broken Harbour by Tana French
There is a new book by French coming out this fall, so now is the time to get caught up on the back books. Although, each book is actually a stand alone, with a new main character who may have been a minor character in the previous book. Broken Harbour is a great look at Ireland after the financial bust 




South Africa - Seven Days by Deon Meyer
Meyer is writing some very intense, very thrilling mysteries. If you like mysteries and police procedurals, you need to be reading Meyer.




Ghana - Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
Nice blend of present and past, modern and traditional





Japan - All She Was Worth by Miyiki Miyabe
I've read a few of Miyabe's Japanese mysteries. They are all stand alone and are all unique. 




Botswana - The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Spend some time in Botswana with the lovely Precious Ramwotse and appreciate bush tea and wonderful people




Canada - A Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe
Great mystery series set in Ontario with a female cop. Only 4 books in the series which is very manageable.










Saturday, July 9, 2016

BOOK: Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery

Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery (10 h 19 min)

Rilla of Ingleside is the last in the eight book series that started with Anne of Green Gables. Rilla is the youngest of Anne and Gilbert's children, named after Marilla and this book is her coming of age book. But more than Rilla, this book is a wonderful look at life on the homefront during WW1.

The book opens with Susan, the Blythe's cook and housekeeper, dismissingly reading about some guy killed in Sarejavo, of whom and where she has no interest at all, not when there is gossip about Glen St Mary's to read about. Of course, we know the implications of that assassination, and soon, Susan will be reading the paper and discussing places and battles with a detail not expected of an unworldly, untravelled person like Susan.

Rilla starts the book as a carefree fifteen year old, somewhat spoiled as the youngest of six, and looking forward to a summer of beaus and dances. Instead, her first big dance ends with the announcement of England declaring war with Germany. Four years later, Rilla, after sharing much of her thoughts in her diary with the reader, has grown and faced challenges and grief that no one wishes on any teenager.

Canada as a nation was also like a teenager as the war started. Only 47 years old as a nation, Canada was still very much tied to Britain, and joined the war along with GB, just like all the young boys in Canada signed up to fight the Kaiser. Battles like Passendale and Vimy Ridge were Canadian-led and considered instrumental in Canada becoming a mature, independent nation. Part of our heritage.

The battles are well known and taught in school, but the other side of wars, the homefront and the role of women, never seems to make it into the history books. Montgomery wrote this book in 1921, so everything was still pretty fresh. Mothers and wives, sisters and daughters sent their boys off with a smile and then just waited. Scouring the newspaper, learning to bake without eggs and butter (Susan finds this a particular hardship she cannot handle), getting the crops in, and waiting and hoping.

At one point, it seems every young man Rilla knows is off in France fighting in the trenches. Of course, not all make it back alive. Montgomery, known for her own dark life, doesn't let Anne and Rilla off the hook. Dear Walter, the poet, faces all his fears in bravery. In a nice touch, a poem he writes on the battlefield, 'The Piper', becomes the most famous poem of the war. I always imagine it to be like 'In Flanders' Field' by Robert MacRae.

Dilemmas with pacifism, Germans living in Canada, feathers in envelopes, new technologies (airplanes and cars!) are also discussed. But it's not all big ideas - regular Montgomery tropes are here aplenty. Random inheritances from chance meetings, elopements defying unreasonable parents, babies appearing and being raised by Rilla (no family services to investigate), babies nearly dying from croup, and happy endings.

The most touching part of the book is Jem's dog, Monday, who stays at the train station after seeing his master off to war. Stays there for four years, and always knows immediately what has happened.

I've been re-reading, or rather, listening to the Anne series again. This one I listened on 1.25X and have found listening to be a way to enjoy the books anew. My only complaint is the pronunciation of some Island names. Clow, should be pronounced to rhyme with 'low', not to rhyme with 'cow'. Drives me nuts every time!









Friday, July 8, 2016

CHALLENGE: 10th Canadian Book Challenge





All in for the tenth!
Check out The Book Mine Set for more info and sign -ups. John is the best host for this, my favourite challenge (because it is the easiest). Except, John insists on reviews, which is the part I find hard. But  I understand how this encourages discussion. There are going to be prizes, and mini-challenges, and great Canadian books.

Books Read:
1. You Went Away - Timothy Findley
2. Rilla of Ingleside - LM Montgomery (audiobook)
3. The Night Bell - Inger Ash Wolfe
4. Shampoo Planet - Douglas Coupland
5.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

BOOKS: You Went 100 Sideways Miles Calling

100 Sideways Miles - Andrew Smith (audiobook from YA Sync)

This was a cute little coming of age young adult novel. Finn, the narrator, measures time in distance, as in the distance the earth has travelled. The physics in me liked this little quirk. He also has epilepsy, and is dealing with teenage stuff - parents, wants a girl friend, has a cool friend who pushes him into doing things he doesn't really want but actually does. Mostly realistic fiction, but perhaps a bit far-fetched, I still enjoyed listening to this one.






 You Went Away - Timothy Findley (220 pages)

Written in 1996 but set during WW2, this Canadian novel looks at a family on the homefront. The idea behind the story is a box a found photographs, and the piecing together of the lives behind the pictures. The family consists of a husband whose brother died a hero in WW1, a wife and their two children. The husband joins and hopes to earn his mother's love, but things fall apart with his boozing and womanizing once he realizes he isn't going to be flying planes like a hero. The wife tries to keep things together and his young son reaches the age where he sees his parents as people, flawed people.  It's a quiet story, sad lives.





The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (464 pages)

What fun to find a great new series to follow! Cormoran Strike, the PI and Robin his 'temporary' secretary are wonderful characters; a good series, while needing an intricate mystery, mostly needs main characters you like and want to cheer for. I liked Cormoran, but I really liked Robin! She lands this temporary job for a down on his luck PI, (do any PIs have their life together?) and it turns out to have been her secret perfect job. She tries to make herself indispensable while Cormoran deals with his break-up and subtly lives in his office. The actual mystery was good - famous, adopted model falls to her death in an apparent suicide that her lawyer brother asks to have investigated. Lots of red herrings, but it felt solvable with the clues. I'll be looking for The Silkworm sooner rather than later.