#IMWAYR July 20, 2020

Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.


Well, it's hot. I have never in my life been so thankful for air conditioning. I have been outside this week sanding and painting doors. Why does the wind come up just when you have finished spraying white paint on things? On a positive note, we are almost finished renovating three bedrooms in our house. We just need to do the windows and hang the doors, (which I have not finished.)
We are heading off to Vancouver this weekend to pick up our granddaughter who wants some Gramma and Grampa time. My other son is bringing his son so we will be having a good time. Such a good time that I doubt I will find time to post next Monday. 
A number of covid cases have been diagnosed here in our small town. It is pretty scary, but inevitable. I'm wearing my mask faithfully if I have to go to town.
Hope the rest of you are staying safe.

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK

Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson

Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson 🍁

Just like he did with Unicorns 101, Atkinson has researched and written a compendium of monsters. The only thing that's missing is information about monster life cycles. Haven't you always wanted to know how monsters reproduce? I loved the note in the verso claiming the illustrations were completed using Photoshop, slime and zombie pus.
You can read my full review with illustrations by clicking on my blog post.
I read a Netgalley copy. This will be released August 4, 2020.


NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
Climate Change for Babies by Chris Ferrie and Katherina Petrou

I am always impressed by how Chris Ferrie and the rest of his team manage to take complex topics and break them down so simple, even a baby can understand them.
In this case I appreciate how they show the earth, our home planet, as a huge ball wrapped in a blanket called atmosphere. They compare our blanket to those of Mercury and Mars. They explain how we keep our blanket just right, and how we humans have managed to get ours out of balance so it is getting too hot.
What I especially appreciate is that while they show us the problem, they also show us solutions.
This would be a brilliant introduction to climate change for readers of all ages. Older readers can go on to read more complicated texts about climate change with this simple one providing an overarching framework.
I read a Netgalley copy. This will be released August 4, 2020.

GRAPHIC

5 stars
The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O'Neill

This is another Netgalley title I read this week. I'm almost finished a longer review that I'll post closer to the publication date (September 1st) In the meantime, what you need to know is that it's as visually gorgeous and as wonderfully loving and big hearted as the rest in the series. If you haven't read the first two, The Tea Dragon Society and The Tea Dragon Festival, you should do it now so you are ready for this one.

NOVELS

5 stars
The Year We Fell From Space by A.S. King

I read this in one sitting. I couldn't put it down.

Amy Sarig King takes us inside a family going through separation and divorce. We experience it through the eyes of Liberty Johansen, a middle schooler. Liberty is a character you will find yourself cheering on and rooting for. She's smart, creative, and caring. She's heartbroken after her parents separate and her father doesn't see her and her sister for almost three months.
What this book shows is how divorce is not really just about the parents, but that it is a whole family experience.

4 stars
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Author, Narrator), Bahni Turpin (Narrator), J.D. Jackson (Narrator)

I went into this book with no idea of what I was getting into. It is gorgeous. I loved and cared deeply about these girls. The audiobook was brilliant. The voices of Audre and Mable, two black girls from different lives, are beautifully rendered in the text and through the narrations of the different narrators. I cried.

4 stars
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders

I just finished this and have started writing a longer blog post. If you are a fan of Sheila Turnage's Mo & Dale series, you are going to love this.

NONFICTION

5 stars
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot & Cassandra Campbell with Bahni Turpin (Narrators)

I am so glad I put this book on my must read list for 2020. It is much more than I expected it to be. I assumed it would be about Henrietta Lacks, her HeLa cells, and how they have contributed to science. That is part of the story, but it's also about how the loss of their mother affected her family. While the HeLa cells are used all over the world, Henrietta Lacks' family doesn't even have healthcare. Rebecca Skloot has integrated the science and human interest aspects of this so that it's impossible to separate them. I cried a number of times.

CURRENTLY

I'm somewhere in the middle of listening to The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. I've started The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell.

UP NEXT

I plan to get to one Netgalley title this week, but am not sure what that will be. I've picked up a pile of books from the library, so something from here will be next. 


PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

Big Books Summer 2020 4/10 one in progress

#MustReadIn2020: 14/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 6/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 17/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 103/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 215/333

Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released August 4th, 2020 by Penguin Random House Canada.

Cale Atkinson knows his stuff. First he wrote a scientific textbook about unicorns and here he is this time with one about monsters. 

This compendium of monster information is delightful. Like Unicorns 101, the similar format is bursting with important (and often hilarious) facts for readers who want to know more about these elusive creatures. 

It begins with a page identifying the Masters of Monstronomy: a collection of experts in the field. I suspect he must have studied with these wise ones to become such an authority himself. 



Next is a checklist for how to identify a monster. Readers can use it to see if the creatures on the next page have any of these characteristics. 

Atkinson deals with many aspects of monster life. The biology section includes common and scientific names as well as a cross section of what the inside of a monster looks like. The page on daily life explains how monsters look after themselves, dress up as humans, and have fun. A monster's diet is not really for the faint of heart. At least, this is not my idea of a delicious BLT!



The chapter on history identifies famous monsters. Later on readers will discover what monsters are afraid of and how to get along with any monsters they might meet up with. 

 In the back matter there’s a Monstronomy Diploma readers can fill in thus proving they are officially Monster Scientists. 

Cale Atkinson's knowledge of monsters is obvious in the comical colourful illustrations. A note in the title verso claims they were created with Photoshop, slime and zombie pus. 

Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released June 2nd 2020 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

Sara is a teenager who wants, more than anything, to be normal. She has a long checklist of things to achieve in order to get there. The thing is, Sara has never been normal, and no matter how hard she tries, never will be. When she was seven she did her best to behave while on a dress shopping expedition with her mother, but when she tried to tell her mother she had had enough, no one listened to her and she had a breakdown.

She is an only child who lives with both her parents. Her mother has become more accepting and supporting of Sara since the dress incident. She is very close to her father, but he is volatile and drinks to excess. I couldn't help but wonder if he didn't have his own mental health issues. 

Sara is gifted academically, but has multiple mental health diagnoses. She calls these her games. They include: False Alarms (panic attacks), the Lead Ball (depressive symptoms) and The Danger Game (schizophrenic episodes.) She can't handle being integrated into a regular classroom so she has her own teacher's aid. Sometimes the two of them have lunch with the rest of the school. Unfortunately, many of the students at the school call her names - Psycho Sara being the most enduring. 

Sara sees a therapist, Dr Ring, once a week. At the park one afternoon she meets James, a boy her age who she first met at Dr Ring's office. James is dealing with anxiety following the death of his older brother. Sara is able to help and reassure him that he will get better. He is so ashamed of having these issues that he doesn't want to be around her when other people might see them. 

Dr Ring convinces Sara to join a weekly group therapy session. At the group Sara meets Erin who becomes her first real friend. It's her friendship with Erin that saves Sara and helps her give up on her goal of being normal, and accept and love who she is. In turn, when Sara discovers why Erin has bruises all the time, she does what is necessary to save her, no matter the cost. 

There are a number of plot lines in this prequel to OCDaniel, Wesley King's first book about a teen with mental health issues. Yet for me, this book is primarily about character. Sara is someone I took into my heart from the first page. She is so authentic it's obvious this is an own voices title. In spite of all her challenges, Sara is courageous and strong. She's generous and smart. She's a kid you never want to give up on. Even though she's a fictional character, I found myself wondering how she will get on as she gets older. 

This is a book about the power of friendship. It's about learning to love and accept yourself for who you are. These are important lessons for all of us. Hopefully this book will be a mirror for people like Sara with mental health issues and a window for others so that we can also learn to accept each other just as we are. 

#IMWAYR July 13, 2020

Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.


Our son and grandson came for a visit this week. They arrived on Wednesday and left Sunday. We are sad to see them go, but are thankful for the time we had together. Everett was my enthusiastic helper in the garden until he realized bugs lived there. He enjoyed watering everything he could reach with the sprinkler, including Grampa, me and his dad. He wanted to bring worms home with him, but Daddy said no. The house looked like chaos when they left, but it was worth it. It's dreadfully quiet now.

While they were here we dug into my vintage picture book collection for night time reading. I'm sharing a few of those here with you today. I hope you are able to find copies of these to read for yourself.

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus & JosΓ© Aruego (Illustrator)

Both of my toddler grandchildren love this one, so I do too. It's the simple tale of a mouse that saves his family. Maybe the real kicker for them is that the mouse has a baby brother at the end, and both of my darlings are either expecting a new sibling or have one of their own.
I like the repetitive language, the stylized art, and that the little mouse becomes a hero.

5 stars
What Do You See? by Janina Domanska

Through illustrations and poetry we discover the various perspectives of a frog, a fly, a bat and a fern. Each one tells us what their world is like, and then the lark flying over them all tells them that they are all right.
It begins with this,
"The world is wet," said the little frog.
"What isn't water is mostly bog."
I'm not always a fan of rhyming poetry but it really works here!

I absolutely adore the illustrations! One of Janina Domanska's picture books, If All the Seas Were One Sea, was a Caldecott honor book in 1973. I wish I knew how she had created the art for this one. I found a site saying that "her illustrations are noted for their often abstract and geometric style as well as her use of color. Her works are done in various media including watercolor, pencil, pen and ink, and woodcuts."

I want to use her images in a quilt!

NOVELS

4 stars
A Matter of Malice (DreadfulWater) by Thomas King πŸ

Thumps DreadfulWater returns home from Seattle where he has been with his girlfriend, Claire, who underwent treatment for cancer. Things are looking good for her but as soon as they return home, she heads off somewhere without letting Thumps know.
Turns out that while he was away his car was wrecked, his cat ran away, and his diabetes has taken a turn for the worse.
A film crew offers him money to help them find out what really happened in the death of a young girl a few decades earlier. Thumps needs the money, but resists until when one of the crew dies in the same mysterious way. He ends up involved whether he wants to be or not.
I love all the characters in these books. Each novel feels like visiting old friends. I hate having to wait for the next in this series which, from the end of this one, appears to involve the serial murders linked to his past.

5 stars
Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King πŸ

I am in the process of writing a longer blog post about this book. In the meantime you should know that it takes us inside the head of a young girl with all kinds of mental health issues. She is a character you won't want to miss!


NONFICTION

5 stars
The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole πŸ

This was a hard read. It felt like bearing witness to a year of police brutality in Canada. I don't think I am naive about these problems, but I still needed to take breaks from reading to keep from getting overwhelmed and let the reality sink in. Desmond Cole is a brilliant writer who takes the time to educate readers fully about each of these different episodes of violence. I can't fathom what it is like to have to live with this reality on an ongoing basis, but I feel like I have a much clearer understanding of what it means to be black or indigenous here in Canada.

5 stars
Half-Breed by Maria Campbell πŸ

Maria Campbell had a challenging, but love filled childhood. Her family were poor, but so was everyone else around her. Listening to this took me back to aspects of my own childhood. Especially in the early years, poverty hounded us, and like her, we had a large and rambunctious extended family and there was never any shortage of love. Unlike her, we never had to worry about someone coming and taking us away from our parents. As the oldest child, she did what she had to to protect her younger siblings. After her mother died, that meant, at fifteen years old, getting married to someone she did not love in order to give them a home.
Maria Campbell survived all kinds of horror before finally starting to get her life back in order around the time she turned 30.
This book was first published in 1973 and has been a regular required read in high schools in Canada ever since. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. This recent edition has an afterward that lets us know how she has fared since then.

Nanaimo Girl by Prudence Emery πŸ

This autobiography was a book club title that started out interestingly enough with Prudence Emery's early life in Nanaimo BC, Crofton House School for girls, and Victoria BC. It even has a recipe for Nanaimo Bars (If you have never hand a Nanaimo Bar, you live a deprived life.) It kind of went downhill from there. I abandoned the book when she was working for the Savoy and it was more or less a tale of drunken debauchery interspersed with never ending name dropping. I have been told it improves later on when she delves into he life in the film industry but don't have the stamina to read more. Maybe if I hadn't read Half-Breed previously I would have tolerated it better.

CURRENTLY

I'm almost finished to The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus. I've just started reading The Year We Fell From Space by A.S. King. I've got a couple of NetGalley picture books open and ready to go.

UP NEXT

I plan to get to The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O'Neill. My next audiobook will be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I'm hoping to get to Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

Big Books Summer 2020 4/10

#MustReadIn2020: 13/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 17/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 102/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 207/333

#IMWAYR July 6, 2020

Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.



We had a few really cool days last week which enabled me to get out into the garden and get the weeding under control. As of Saturday the heat has returned so I'll be only out there early in the morning or after supper except for going out to make sure my seedlings don't dry out.
We have slowed down with the renovations. After talking to friends who told us that they took up to four years to finish the work on their house, we are trying to relax and take our time. It's not like we, or the house, are going anywhere, and at least our bedroom no longer has carpet in it!

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith & Nicole Neidhardt (Illustrations)
 πŸ

This simple book explains in what kindness is. Each page makes statement explaining one aspect of kindness. Each sentence is accompanied by an illustration. The book talks about how we can be kind to each other, to our families, friends and neighbors, and to the planet. It continues on explaining the feelings we get when we are actively kind.

Nicole Neidhardt’s bold illustrations show indigenous people in of different skin tones, but the messages of kindness are for everyone. Her artwork turns this simple book into a thing of beauty. She explains that she integrates  “ Navajo identity into my everyday contemporary reality. I explore this relationship through the media of painting, reflective mylar stenciling, and painted collage. “
This is a beautiful book. It’s ideal to read to a group of younger students at the beginning of the school year. It’s one I’m looking forward to sharing with my three year old grandchildren.
I appreciate that it shows us the power each of us have, no matter our age, to make the world a better place.

It won't be published until October 13, 2020, but you can watch Monique Gray Smith reading this book here.




NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson & Rebecca Huang (Illustrations)

This was a fabulous read for all kinds of reasons. I had never heard of Wu Chien Shiung before this book. I was fascinated just reading about her parents' work to set up a school for girls in the early 1900's in China. Then they sent their daughter off to further her education in the nearest educational center to support her learning. I've been thinking about how that 50 miles was so far from home compared today when it's hardly worth thinking about. Then she ended up travelling even farther from home to learn more and more about physics. She ended up in the United States where she worked on some of the most important problems of the time.
I appreciated the additional information in the back matter. There is more information about Wu Chien Shiung, a glossary which explains the physics vocabulary, a bibliography and suggestions for further reading.
Rebecca Huang's stylized illustrations reveal so much emotion in the characters while her swirling numbers, formulas and symbols show what is going on in Wu Chien Shiung's head.

While Teresa Robeson was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Indiana, she was raised and went to university in Vancouver BC. Does this mean I can claim her as Canadian?


NOVELS

4 stars
Rick by Alex Gino (author and narrator)

This is the story of a young boy who is trying to figure out his sexuality. He's not  attracted to boys or girls. He joins the after school Rainbow Club where he makes many new friends. Unfortunately his best friend, Jeff, is a homophobic bully who is always getting into trouble. I liked that Alex Gino showed Jeff as having some positive qualities. I just wish I understood more about how he became the person he was. I can't help but wonder if he can be redeemed and become a better person.
As a grandparent I especially appreciated Rick's connection with his grandparent. It's this relationship that helps him find the courage to end his friendship with Jeff.


4 stars
Dig by A.S. King & Mike Chamberlain, Tonya Cornelisse & Kirby Heyborne (Narrators)

Dig is a book that was on my 2019 MustReadList. I started it way back when, but had to send it back to the library unfinished.
This time I was engrossed in the audiobook from the start. It did take me a bit to get all the characters sorted out, but when I did, I was wowed. ( To be honest, I've never read, or listened to any of A. S. King's novels that didn't wow me.) This book tells the story of six teens, five of who are related although they don't know each other. It's a ghost and murder mystery, although you won't figure this out at first. It's a book that speaks out against racism.

Once I got the characters sorted out, I was infatuated with each of them. In their own ways they are unique, quirky and honest. Together they create a beacon of hope for the future of their family, their world and maybe for us too.

5 stars
Don't Stand So Close to Me by Eric Walters 🍁

This tells the story of a teen girl, Quin, and her friends in the first days of the Covid 19 pandemic. At first they are all excited to be getting a longer spring break. Then the boredom sets in and they struggle to deal with online schooling. Quin lives next door to one of her best friends, a class clown and the two of them are lucky to be able to spend time together all the while social distancing. While the story is told from these young people's perspective, we get to know more about how it affects other people through their parents and extended family.
These youth filled me up with hope as they go out of their way to support their community and each other in different ways.
Eric Walters writes wonderful characters who I came to care about. I can't help but wonder if he will write a sequel so we can learn how they are doing as the pandemic continues.
At first I assumed this novel was set in Ontario Canada, but by the time I finished the book I realized it could be almost anywhere in North America. With the virus raging out of control in the USA, but more or less under control here in Canada, I can't help but wonder how these young teens' lives would differ depending on where they live.

The hardcopy version of this book won't be available until September 22, but you can download the ebook now.

CURRENTLY

I'm still reading The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole. It's a hard read but it's giving me a thorough understanding of what it means to be black or indigenous here in Canada. I'm almost finished Half-Breed by Maria Campbell. I've just started Nanaimo Girl by by Prudence Emery. When that is done I'll get back to Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King.

UP NEXT

I'm hoping to get to A Matter of Malice by Thomas King and The Year We Fell From Space by A. S. King. My next audiobook will be The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

Big Books Summer 2020 3/10

#MustReadIn2020: 13/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 15/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 97/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 199/333

#IMWAYR June 29, 2020

Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.



I haven't participated in #IMWAYR for the couple of weeks because I was occupied with family events. There were birthday parties and father's day celebrations. I managed to get a few blog posts written in spite of having my granddaughter with us for a week. Then my sister was here house hunting and helped me celebrate my birthday. (I discovered that I am one year younger than I thought) After she left I got the garden weeded and almost under control (for now.) We have a week or so before my other son brings our grandson for a visit. In the meantime, it's back to renovations for us.

While I didn't have time to read as much as I usually do, what I did get to was mostly brilliant! I have been focusing on reading Indigenous authors for Indigenous History Month here in Canada, but I also read a couple of big books for the big book summer reading challenge. So far I've read some amazing titles. 

On an exciting note, my little local library is now open for curbside pickup. I just got a notice that some of my reserve books are ready for me to come and collect, and a couple more are in transit!

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

BLOG POSTS IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS

Swift Fox All Along by by Rebecca Thomas & Maya McKibbin (Illustrator)

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamilla & Chris Van Dusen

Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist)

PICTURE BOOKS


4 stars
Swift Fox All Along by by Rebecca Thomas & Maya McKibbin (Illustrator) 🍁

A young girl meets her indigenous relatives for the first time. Based on the author's experience, this shows her anxiety and eventual acceptance of this part of who she is. This book had me thinking about what it must be like for all the 'scooped' children who undertake to connect to their heritage. You can read my full review here.


4 stars
The Truth about Wind by Hazel Hutchins, Gail Herbert & DuΕ‘an PetričiΔ‡ (Illustrator) 🍁

This is the story about a boy who finds a toy horse. He keeps it and lies to his family about where it came from. He names the horse Wind. At first everything is good. He loves playing with Wind and telling his parents all about their adventures. Then he starts seeing missing horse pictures, and begins to feel guilt and remorse.


3.5 stars
Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, Bob Shea (Illustrator)

Floyd Peterson wants you to acknowledge that he is more than just a monster. At the same time as this is humorous, it's also about accepting our differences.


CHAPTER BOOKS


5 stars
Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamilla & Chris Van Dusen

I loved this story of adversity and friendship. To be upfront, I am a hardcore fan of this series. Each book is like a visit with old friends. In this one, I appreciated finding out how Baby and Eugenia Lincoln are getting on. I probably say this about each new character Kate introduces us to, but I do believe that Stella and Horace have found a special place in my heart. You can read my full review here.

GRAPHIC NOVELS


4 stars
Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist) 🍁

This is the third volume in the A Girl Called Echo series. The collection focus on the lives of Echo, a young modern day Metis girl who travels back in time to meet with Louis Riel and others during the conflict between Canada and the Metis people in the mid 1800's. You can read my full review here.


5 stars
Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1) by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's first autobiographical graphic novel for the younger crowd is as important and wonderful as her adult novels. Moving from the city to the country was hard on her eleven year old self for all kinds of reasons. She has to get used to the new man in her mother's life, learn to look after chickens, get along with two step sisters, and deal with her math disability. Here is a story that will resonate for younger readers wherever they live. I especially appreciated the additional information and photographs at the end of the book.

NOVELS


4 stars
Crow Winter by Karen McBride 🍁

This is a story of coming home, healing, and moving forward into a new world. It addresses historic oppression and injustice. Readers are made aware of different ways of knowing the world, especially with respect to land ownership and use.

Hazel Ellis returns home to the reserve to stay with her mother after completing her post secondary degree. Both of them are grieving the death of their father/husband who died of cancer a short while ago.
In the process of learning more about her father and the history of her family and people, Hazel reconnects with her culture and makes connection to the spiritual world. She discovers that her father was keeping secrets and set a plan in motion, that however well meaning, will have catastrophic consequences for all people if let come to fruition.
It’s up to Hazel and her unwilling partner, Nanabush, to do the right thing and save them all.

Hazel’s relationship with Nanabush, her capacity for moving in and out of different realms, and the perspective of Nanabush himself, put me in mind of Celia's Song by Lee Maracle. Maracle's characters inhabit a landscape wherein past, present and future, and physical and spiritual realms exist simultaneously. So do McBrides. 

Karen McBride is an indigenous Canadian. This is her first novel. I am looking forward to reading whatever she comes up with next.


5 stars
The Huntress by Kate Quinn

In spite of being terrified at times, I loved this book. It’s got some fabulous strong characters to admire and care about. I especially appreciated learning the history of the Night Witches.


5 stars
Lovely War by Julie Berry

This tells two beautiful love stories against the backdrop of World War I. I loved the characters and appreciated all the details about the war. I knew something of the hospitals for traumatized soldiers from reading Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. It was fascinating to learn more about the roles of women at the time. In spite of this being an historical novel, it felt relevant for today, especially since one of the love stories introduces us to a black soldier in a black regiment. I was terrified for him.
I loved the integration of the Greek Gods and Goddesses and the connection to music.

I appreciated the historical notes at the end of this as much as I loved the story itself.


5 stars
Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells

Martha Wells is just brilliant. I can't believe she can keep coming up with new scenarios for this character. It's such joy to read about Murderbot's slow transformation as he figures out how he fits into the rest of humanity. I usually read these in one sitting. I would have been riveted once again but had my three year old granddaughter visiting. I really love that kid, so I forgive her for interfering with my reading life, but still...
If you are not a Murderbot fan, I feel really sad for you.


4 stars
A Short History of Indians in Canada: Stories by Thomas King 🍁

This is a collection of weird, wonderful, dark and disturbing short stories. I didn’t really understand all of them, but each one compelled me read more. I loved the conversation between Thomas King and Margaret Atwood in the back matter.


5 stars
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

While searching the attic Edie and her friends discover a secret box. Inside are photographs and letters from someone named Edith who looks a lot like Edie. Edie surreptitiously attempts to get her parents to reveal more about how she got her name and who this other Edie is, but they remain silent until she confronts them straight on.
All this happens against a backdrop of realistic friendship drama.

As Edie learns about her Native American heritage, we discover that a government agent took her mother away from Edith just after she was born and put her up for adoption. We learn that the apprehension of Native American/Indigenous children was a common occurrence in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Even though this is set in America, it's a relevant and important story for Canadians. Here in Canada we call these apprehensions The Scoops.

It's such a common story that you might know people who were victims of this process. In the small town I grew up in I went to school with Indigenous kids who were 'scooped' and adopted into white families. My hairdresser and her brother were 'scooped' from their Indigenous Canadian family and adopted by a white couple in California.


4 stars
The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson & Matthew Frow & Kimberly Farr (Narrators)

Deborah Hopkinson integrates compelling fictional characters into the true story of Dr John Snow's identification of a poisoned well as the cause of the Broad Street Cholera epidemic. Eel is a homeless young teen who works different jobs to save up money for a secret purpose. When, on the cusp of a cholera outbreak, he loses his steady day job through no fault of his own, he ends up working as Dr Snow's assistant.
Readers will hardly be aware of how much they are learning about science as they become absorbed in this riveting historical drama.
I especially appreciated the extra information in the back matter.
Given that we are living through a pandemic, this is a timely read.

CURRENTLY

I'm reading a nonfiction title, The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole. Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King is the fictional novel I have on the go. I've just started listening to Rick by Alex Gino.

UP NEXT

As soon as I pick up my library books I hope to get to A Matter of Malice by Thomas King. Then eventually I'll get to my book club books, Nanaimo Girl by Prudence Emery and Don't Stand So Close to Me by Eric Walters.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

Big Books Summer 2020 3/10

#MustReadIn2020: 13/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 15/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 95/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 195/333