#IMWAYR MAY 6, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

This week's post is a couple of weeks of reading. We were away in Vancouver, BC, visiting with family and celebrating one of our granddaughter's birthdays. On her birthday we took all the grandkids to Kidsbooks and let them each choose one book. We also had wonderful visits with other friends while we were there, even if it did rain everyday!

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

PREVIOUS POST

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS

I read and reviewed the first of these next two books ages ago, but checked both out from my local library to take with me when I visited my grandkids. Both these books have an interactive component that breaks the fourth wall. I ended up adding a star to my review because both of my granddaughters, the four year old and the six year old, loved these. The six year old took them to bed with her to read before falling asleep. 

5 stars

Butterflies Are Pretty ... Gross!
by Rosemary Mosco, Jacob Souva (Illustrator)

You can read my full review of this book here


This book is full of the same kind of hilarity and information as the Butterfly book.
 

Like all of Gravel's books, this one is loaded with humour. She breaks the fourth wall and has her illustrations speak to us about her. 


She writes about five different microbe families: bacteria, viruses, fungi, protists and algae. It's amazing how much information Gravel packs into this book. There is even a section on Bacterio Phages - something a lot of adults know nothing about!
This was a huge hit with my two granddaughters! As soon as she saw the author's name, Ada, the six year old, told me Elize Gravel was her favourite illustrator. When we finished reading the digital copy, she asked me to purchase the book for her. On Sunday when we went to Kidsbooks, she got her own copy. 

CHAPTER BOOKS


This is the first of Kate DiCamillo's new chapter book series. It's a charming retelling of the Lion and Mouse fable. In this version, Orris, a rat, rescues Timble, an owl. Soon afterwards the two of them become best friends. 
Carmen Mok is an award winning Canadian illustrator. Her artwork is gorgeous! 

4 stars

Swimming into Trouble
by Angela Ahn, Vicki Kim (Narrator) & Julie Kim (Illustrator) February 13, 2024 ๐Ÿ

An ear infection sidelines Julia Nam just before it's time to swim for their "Personal Best Day (PBD) — the most important day for all of the swimmers. If their times are good enough, they can enter a big regional swim meet." Instead of swimming, Julia is forced to hang out at her parents’ sushi bar. It's located in the community centre overlooking the pool where she watches other members of the team practice. Julia is so desperate to be part of PBD, she ends up getting herself in an embarrassingly 'sticky' predicament. 
I appreciated a lot about this chapter book for strong readers. (It's more of an illustrated novel given the amount of text on the pages.) I loved how the different people at the community centre were like extended family to Julia and her parents. I love that Julia's parents are Korean immigrants. I loved Julia and can hardly wait to introduce her to my granddaughter, Ada, whose mother is also a Korean immigrant. 
Swimming into Trouble is the first in the Julia on the Go! series. I'm looking forward to reading more of her adventures.

Thank you Max for the heads up about this book. It is delightful.
It begins with a Rapunzel type princess, Princess Sadie, locked in a tower. Along comes Princess Amara who asks her permission to rescue her. When Amara's grappling hook slips, Sadie rescues her and the two of them end up trapped in the tower. Luckily, Princess Amara's unicorn is able to liberate them both. 
While they are escaping, Princess Sadie is haunted by negative messages in her sister's voice. Sadie thinks she should return to her tower, but Amara helps her overcome her learned helplessness by convincing her to come with her and find someone to rescue. Soon they come upon Prince Vladric, trapped in a tree. He does not want to be rescued by princesses. Amara is ready to abandon him, but Sadie reminds her of the role of the hero, "How does a hero decide who's worth saving?" After they rescue him, they find out he was thrown into the tree by an ogre. How the three of them deal with the ogre, isn't by slaying him, but rather by befriending him. 
When Sadie's sister kidnaps Amara, the other three friends set out to rescue her.
There is so much to love about this book. I love that all these royal children are dealing with gender based parental expectations. I adore they way the usual fairytale tropes are upended. On the surface this might seems like a simple adventure kind of tale, but it is full of depth and important messages about how to be a good person and live your best life with others. 

I started this and then put it aside for a bit because I thought it was just going to be a romance book. I'm so glad I went back to it. It does begin with what could be a teen romance, but then it ends up being a fabulous sports book.
Tre Brun is a young Chippewa teen growing up on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Although he is only a freshman, he wants to play on his school's varsity basketball team, just like his father and older brother. 
The writing about basketball held me in thrall. Yet this book is so much more than a sports novel. 
It's about growing up indigenous and having to deal with racism when you leave the reserve and when playing basketball against white teams. It's about coming to terms with death. In Tre Brun's case, it's his older brother, but according to the author, it's all too common that Indigenous youth have to deal with the death of someone close to them. 
Jesse Nobess, the brilliant narrator, is from Winnipeg, MB, and his father’s side of the family is from Pinaymootang First Nation.

MG/YA NON FICTION


This is an important, comprehensive, sex education book for our times. 
"The 150 entries cover key ideas about identity, relationships, self-image, sex and body positivity—and no topic is taboo. From bisexuality to Kamasutra to #MeToo, Naked offers answers to questions about sexuality that teens have always had but have been afraid to ask. What is consent? What does gender fluid mean? What kind of contraception should I use? With contemporary examples, vibrant illustrations and additional information and resources for young readers with more questions, Naked is essential reading for today's teens."
Although it says it's for teens, I think this is an important reference book for all ages. I learned a lot from it, so I think it's one of those books you want to have on your shelf if you have MG and older children, or even just to have around if want to check something out for yourself. 
I contemplated getting this for my grandkids, but since the oldest of them is only six, will probably wait a while in case something even better shows up. I did tell their fathers about it. 

ADULT/YA FICTION


This was an interesting time travel novel for me since I was about the same age as these characters at the time this book was written. Given that it has queer characters (gay, trans, and bisexual) it must have been an eyeopener at the time. 

4 stars

Mindful of Murder
by Susan Juby & Lisa Larsen (Narrator) ๐Ÿ

If you, like me, are a fan of cosy mysteries that are loaded with humour and heart, this is a book for you. Helen Thorpe has been a Buddhist nun, the manager of a spiritual retreat, and most recently has completed butler training. When she gets news of the death of Edna, the owner of the retreat, she has to return and finish up her former boss' plans to determine which of her nieces and nephews will take over the retreat.  
Almost as soon as she arrives, Helen notes that something is fishy about Edna's death. Soon four potential candidates arrive to partake in three courses so Helen can determine who is most worthy. Two of her fellow butler students arrive to help her run the retreat. All kinds of secrets and machinations are uncovered before Helen identifies Edna's murderer. 
Susan Juby has created a cast of wonderfully quirky characters. I enjoyed this book so much, I didn't want it to end. 
Klein's writing is honest, sharp and brilliant. This comprehensive analysis shows us that we are more connected to one another than we might want to imagine. Beginning with her personal history of being confused with Naomi Wolf, she makes profound connections across political and cultural spectrums. Ultimately she shows us that the polarization we see around us at a macro level, exists also at the micro one.  
This was a reread for me for a bookclub I am part of. I got much more out of it this time round. What struck me most was the pipikism - ”the antitragic force that inconsequencializes everything—farcicalizes everything, trivializes everything, superficializes everything.”

CURRENTLY

Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-Reum & Shanna Tan (Translator) January 17, 2022

The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann January 12, 2021

Woke up Like This
 by Amy Lea
September 5, 2023 ๐Ÿ

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Denison Avenue by Christina Wong & Daniel Innes (Illustrator) ๐Ÿ


READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 9/25 two on the go

NonFiction 15/24 one on the go

Canadian Authors 24/50 one on the go

Indigenous Authors 8/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 86/200 

FIRST FRIDAY POETRY MAY 2024

I'm joining Beverly A Baird & Linda Schueler in a "year long poetry practice – on the first Friday of each Month," when we, and anyone else who joins, writes a poem and pairs it up with a photo relating to it.

It has been an exceptional year for arrowleaf balsamroot blooms this year. The hills across the valley from us are a haze of yellow. All the photographers I know have been nearly swooning over their abundance and beauty. So have I. 

My poem today honours them and my mother. It doesn't feel finished yet, but I've run out of time. 

Photograph by Randy Rotheisler 


lesson in mortality

this spring
rivers of gold
tumble down the hills
and pool on high plains

a ceremonial display,
challenging the sun

my mother, 
who taught us to find the sacred
in the natural world,
adored our local sunflowers

after a day of roaming the hills,
we children would bring her home a bouquet

but arrowleaf balsamroot blooms
do not take kindly to being harvested,
and start to wither
as soon as they are picked

no matter what you do,
by the next day, 
they are gone

#IMWAYR April 22, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.


I almost didn't post this week because I have been busy trying to get the house and yard under control before we head off to Vancouver to visit with family and celebrate one of our granddaughters turning four. We won't be around next weekend because we will still be there celebrating. I wouldn't ordinarily worry so much about the house, but some of my extended family will be staying here to celebrate one of my aunts' birthday. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

MG FICTION


Lulu lives with her sister and mother in a small community outside of Manilla, Philippines. During an earthquake she discovers that she has superpowers. Soon after that she learns that her supportive neighbourhood and best friend are not who they appear to be. Lulu discovers that she is the salamangkero, a special being born to protect the different realms. When her adopted mother is kidnapped by a wakwak, Lulu, her adopted sister, Kitty, and her best friend, Bart, a shape shifter, set off to rescue her. The trio meet up with numerous personages from Philippine mythology.
I liked the merge of ancient mythology and modern pop culture in this book. Fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series will enjoy this. 
The physical book includes a glossary of Tagalog mythology. The problem with listening to this book is that I didn't realize this until I finished the novel. Villanueva does a good job of introducing them and their importance in the novel, but I really could have used it earlier on to provide background knowledge keep track of them all. 


Thanks to Max for the heads up about this sweet romantic graphic novel. It's the story of two young women who become friends and then more than that. Momo Gardner is an introvert. She's a good friend, but really doesn't value her own worth. She's the kind of friend who wants to think the best of others, but is sometimes taken advantage of by them. PG is more of a flirt and an extrovert. In spite of this, she's really a private person. When she falls for someone, she falls hard.
This graphic novel addresses important issues. At the same time as it deals with the romance between these two characters, it addresses friendship, love, self worth, and being honest with oneself and those closest to us.
I enjoyed this, but I think I might have appreciated it a lot more if I hadn't picked it up after having read Mexikid.

ADULT/YA FICTION


The Future was the winner of the Canada Reads debate this year. The theme was "looking for one book to carry us forward. When we are at a crossroads, when uncertainty is upon us, when we have faced challenges and are ready for the future, how do we know where to go next?"

"In an alternate history of Detroit, the Motor City was never surrendered to the US. Its residents deal with pollution, poverty, and the legacy of racism—and strange and magical things are happening: children rule over their own kingdom in the trees and burned houses regenerate themselves. When Gloria arrives looking for answers and her missing granddaughters, at first she finds only a hungry mouse in the derelict home where her daughter was murdered. But the neighbours take pity on her and she turns to their resilience and impressive gardens for sustenance."

After her daughter's death, Gloria moves to Detroit to live in her daughter's house. As she learns more about her daughter and granddaughters' lives, she has to come to terms with who her daughter became. Even when her attempts to connect with her grandchildren go nowhere, she never gives up hope that she will be reunited with the two girls. 
I am not generally a fan of dystopian realities, yet I fell head over heels in love with this one. Even though it's got that end of the world scenario, it's mostly about hope. It's a world that seems to be populated with old people and feral children. Getting to know them was pure joy. The Future is a story about resilience, found family, community and using that community to make everyone's lives better. I didn't want it to end. 




5 stars

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
 by Ocean Vuong (Author and Narrator) 
June 4, 2019

I started this book a while ago, but for all kinds of reasons, put it aside. When I picked it up again, I was in a better mental space for it. Emotionally this is a hard read. The beauty of the language only serves to emphasize the horrors experienced by Ocean, his mother, and his grandmother. I don't regret listening to this semi-autobiographical novel: Ocean Vuong's narration was profound. Yet I suspect I missed much not seeing the organization of his words. 
I contemplated writing more about this book, but honestly, nothing I could write could compare to this review on Goodreads by chai. Even if you have read the book, go and read this

CURRENTLY

Doppelganger by Naoimi Klein ๐Ÿ 

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin January 1, 1978

Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia by Myriam Daguzan Bernier & Cรฉcile Gariรฉpy (Illustrator)  ๐Ÿ

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Rez Ball by Byron Graves

Woke up Like This by Amy Lea  ๐Ÿ

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 8/25 one on the go

NonFiction 11/24 one on the go

Canadian Authors 17/50 two on the go

Indigenous Authors 7/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 75/200 

#IMWAYR APRIL 15, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

I'm finally ready to quilt my collage project! I've been watching a lot of Susan Carlson videos to figure out all kinds of things - most importantly, how to know when the collage part is done! My goal is to get it quilted tomorrow so I can get it mounted and then I can call it done! Here's where I am so far. 

I'm also getting ready for an appliquรฉ workshop coming up next Monday. Honestly, choosing the right fabric is the hardest part of this so far. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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


This book is the perfect example of why adults should read children's books. Seriously, the humour in this one, with its parody of a private investigator, is hilarious and way above the heads of children. 
When Mercy goes missing, the residents of Deckawoo Drive hire Percival Smidgely, private investigator, to find her. The children at least, don't have much faith in him. 
Stella, Horace Broom, and Leroy Ninker and Maybelline, his horse, set out in search of the errant pig. 
Meanwhile, Mercy has evaded a couple of ne'er-do-wells who had bacon on their mind. She's managed to cadge some toast and butter, and has continued to chase down the very strong scent of butter in the air. 
Mercy is eventually found and everyone returns to the Watson house for toast and butter. 
Like the other books in this series it is screamingly hilarious, at times poignant, and always full of important truths about how to live a good life. 

GRAPHIC NOVELS


"Pedro Martรญn has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito—his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! But that doesn't mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has 8 brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough! Still, Pedro piles into the Winnebago with his family for a road trip to Mexico to bring Abuelito home, and what follows is the trip of a lifetime, one filled with laughs and heartache. Along the way, Pedro finally connects with his abuelito and learns what it means to grow up and find his grito."
Mexikid is frigging brilliant. 
It is the best graphic novel I have ever read.
Not only is this the best graphic novel ever, it's also one of the most hilarious books I've ever read. Absolutely nothing can compare to the episode with the snot and the pop rocks. Absolutely nothing.
Other sections are profoundly moving - especially those that address his relationship with his older sister who really gets Pedro, as well as those with his abuelito.
There is a lot packed into this book. It's a book about identity. It's a book about family and sibling relationships. It's a book about grandparents and grandchildren. It's a book about Mexico and it's culture and history. It's a travel book. 
It paints a brilliant picture of growing up in the 1970's. I might have been a bit older than Pedro Martín, but all the pop culture references, as well as the Winnebago with shag carpet, and the summer farm work to have your own spending money, were a kind of time warp for me.
If you need more Mexikid stories after you are finished, check out Martín's site here.


If you are Canadian, and have a $10 dollar bill in your wallet, there's a good chance it will have Viola Desmond's picture on it. This book tells the story of her remarkable life.
In New Glasglow, Nova Scotia, on November 8th, 1946, nine years before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, Viola Desmond refused to leave the white's only section of a movie theatre. The police were called in, she spent the night in jail, and was accused and convicted of tax evasion (the one cent difference between tax in the balcony and floor sections). It was the only thing they could legally charge her with. She paid the fine and returned home. She took her case to the supreme court of Nova Scotia where she lost. Finally, in 2010, Viola Desmond was pardoned and the premier of the province apologized for how she had been treated.
Viola grew up in a large family who put a lot of stock into doing well in school and getting a good education. They were activists who tried to make the world better for all black people. In 1876, her grandfather had managed to get schools in the North End, where they lived, desegregated. When she graduated she wanted to go to teacher college and become a teacher. At that time black students were not allowed to go to the local teacher college, and even if she went somewhere else, she would only have been able to teach in a segregated school for black children. She challenged the teacher training tests, passed and began teaching.
Not long afterwards she quit and opened up a hair salon for black women. Soon she became a successful business woman.
There is so much I love about this book. Mostly I appreciate that it provides a woman's perspective of racism. I also learned a lot about dealing with Black hair!
I really like the layout. Sections in yellow are reflections from her younger sister, Wanda. It's because of Wanda that justice was finally achieved for Viola. There are numerous sidebars (highlighted in teal) that explain historical events, define relevant terms, and provide mini biographies of important individuals of the time.
The end of the book includes a timeline, a glossary, a section on resources, and an index.

Readers were introduced to Kimberly Reynolds in Whispers Under Ground. She has made the odd appearance in the Peter Grant books since then. Here she is the protagonist in her own novel.
Kimberly, an FBI agent, heads off to Northern Wisconsin to investigate some kind of paranormal event upon the request of a retired agent who lives in the area. She finds he has gone missing and ends up trapped in a small town in the middle of a freak winter storm.
I liked a lot about this book. I appreciated the integration of local spirits, and that Kimberly has much to learn about local Indigenous culture and history. I was relieved when the evil forces turned out to be connected to white explorers. I would have liked a connection made between them and the Windigo, though perhaps that is really only the purview of Indigenous authors. I did interpret those creatures through that lens.
I liked all the action in the plot but I missed the magical responses to the dangers that are integral to the Peter Grant books.
At different times in the book I was irritated by the focus on Kimberly's born again Christian faith. It seemed overdone and weird. Do people, who have barely met, really ask each other if they have accepted Jesus into their hearts?
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. If I am honest, it's probably because I have gotten into the habit of listening to this series before eventually reading the books with my eyes. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the voice of the series so Penelope Rawlins narration was jarring to start. I could have gotten used to this except that at one point Kimberly Reynolds phones Peter Grant and it wasn't Peter's voice. I wish they could have had Kobna narrate those bits.

CURRENTLY

Doppelganger by Naoimi Klein ๐Ÿ 

Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors by Gail D. Villanueva

Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia by Myriam Daguzan Bernier & Cรฉcile Gariรฉpy (Illustrator)  ๐Ÿ

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

The Future by Catherine Leroux & Susan Ouriou (Translator) ๐Ÿ

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 7/25 two on the go

NonFiction 11/24 

Canadian Authors 16/50 two on the go

Indigenous Authors 7/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 71/200 

#IMWAYR April 8, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

I started out trying to write a poem a day for April. I'm settling for achieving at least one line I like.

I'm also working on a new sewing challenge these days. The focus is circles and the criteria is that we have to do something we have never done before. I'll post a picture when it's finished (or abandoned.)

Otherwise, it's been a busy couple of weeks trying to get the yard under control. My pea plants are finally up. It's gotten a bit cold recently so I haven't stayed outside for long. I usually plant primula in pots this time of year, but the growers plants were frozen and not many survivors made it to our part of the world. I planted pansies instead and am hoping it doesn't get really cold and kill them off. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

PREVIOUS POST

PICTURE BOOKS


I chose to read this book because here in Canada, January 4th is National Ribbon Skirt Day. This came about in honour of Isabella Kulak, who was shamed by an ignorant staff member for wearing a ribbon skirt to school. 
Bunten's book is mostly about Native American Indians, but the meaning behind the skirts (and shirts) is the same across Turtle Island. 
The first part of it is a fictionalized account of a family watching Deb Haaland's inauguration. They have a celebratory feast that looks and sounds delicious! It ends with the extended family making ribbon skirts and shirts together. 
The back matter includes additional information about Deb Haaland, the history and meaning of ribbon skirts, and a two page spread about how to take action to protect our world. 
I had been thinking about ribbon skirts for a while. Mostly I've been wondering if it would be appropriate for me to make one for myself. I like to think it's to honour my Menominee grandmother, but honestly, I really don't know much about Menominee culture. I'm still questioning what my true rational for wanting one is. 

4 stars

Winter: A Solstice Story
Kelsey E. Gross &  Renata Liwska (Illustrator)

This is a sweet story about collaboration and inclusion. A group of animals gather together around a tree in a forest to celebrate the longest night. Each one contributes something towards the benefit of the others. When an unexpected guest appears, they too are welcomed. 
 
CHAPTER BOOKS


I wrote about Salma Makes a Home a couple of weeks ago. This sequel is equally impressive.
This book focuses on siblings. Salma's uncle, Khalou Daawood, has moved to Vancouver, but there is tension between him and her mother because of his marriage to another man. At the same time Salma's mother is expecting a baby.
Salma is determined to be the best big sister ever. When she can't find anything at the local library to help her figure out how to do this, she decides to write her own book. Salma interviews her school friends about being an older sibling and begins her book.
But how can Salma become the best big sister when her mother can't accept her little brother? How do siblings fight and deal with strife?
After she and her best friend do something terrible, Salma destroys her book. Then she gets into a huge argument with her mother.
A long conversation with Khalou Daawood helps put her worries into perspective and fix the terrible thing she did with her friend. Even her mother learns a few things about being a better big sister.


Thanks to Linda Bai who talked about this book a couple of weeks ago. I immediately downloaded the audiobook version and began listening. 
I fell instantly in love. From the beginning first lines of "I turn I turn I turn before I lie to sleep and I rise before the Sun. I sleep inside and sleep outside and have slept in the hollow of a thousand-year-old tree,” the writing is bloody brilliant. Ethan Hawke's narration is exceptional. The last time I loved a book with animal characters this much was The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt with Lyle Lovett as narrator. (Also, E.B. White reading Charlotte's Web is pretty spectacular)
I suspect that the only problem with listening to this book, is missing the artwork by Shawn Harris.
Dave Eggers characters are unforgettable. I adore Johannes, the free dog who lives in a park. He is the eyes for the park's three resident bison. When changes come to their park home, Johannes and the rest of park's animal inhabitants have to figure out how to deal with them. 
If you think you might want to read this book aloud to some children, don't bother, just listen to the audiobook together. 
I on the other hand, now plan to read this book with my eyes. 

The summer before 5th grade turns out to be chaotic for Ferris Wilkey. Her beloved grandmother, Charisse, has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Her six year old sister gets arrested for trying to rob a bank. Uncle Ted has left Aunt Shirley and moved into their basement to paint the history of the world. Aunt Shirley has given Ferris a disastrous perm. There is a ghost to be dealt with. 
Luckily Ferris has her best friend, Billy Jackson, renowned pianist, to help her get through it all. (I admit to taking a break from reading to listen to Mysterious Barricades)
Even though this book is often hilarious, I ended up worrying a lot. Mostly I worried about Pinky. Thankfully, by the end of the book we figure her out a bit. More importantly, Ferris and Pinky become close. 
This book reminded me of DiCamillo's Tales From Deckawoo Drive series - a whimsical world populated by children, adults and animals, whose lives intersect in delightful ways. 
DiCamillo's books might be labelled children or MG, but adults will probably get more from them. 

ADULT/YA FICTION

4.5 stars

Bad Cree
by Jessica Jones & Tanis Parenteau (Narrator) January 10, 2023  ๐Ÿ

Calling this horror (a genre I can't handle) is a misnomer. While reading this, I felt uncomfortable on occasion, but never felt the need to stop reading because I was terrified.
Real life for indigenous people has already been, and in many ways, continues to be, a dystopian nightmare. It was full of monsters like the wheetigo. Some were dressed up representatives of the crown negotiating treaties, some as Indian agents, others as Christian priests and nuns. Today they might look like a white men working in the field of resource extraction.
When Dallas Soonias defended this book on Canada Reads, he claimed this book was all about residential schools. Some people denied this. Now that I've read the book, I understand his meaning. This is brilliant story telling on multiple levels. I see Mackenzie, the protagonist, as dealing with decades of generational trauma. The only way she can heal is by returning home, speaking honestly about what she is going through, and working with her family to address the evil that surrounds them. Thankfully she's got some kick ass Aunties to help her. 

If you like cosy mysteries with a lot of wit, then you must give Thomas King's DreadfulWater series a try. 
The series is set in a small town somewhere in the American West. Native American Thumps DreadfulWater is an ex-cop turned photographer, who, after personal tragedy, relocated to the small town of Chinook, adjacent to a Blackfoot reservation. 
Reading one of these novels is like hanging out with old friends. There's Al, the owner of the local breakfast diner, Archie Kousolas, bookstore owner and chef, Claire Merchant, Chief of the local Blackfoot, and Sheriff Duke Hockney.
There is a lot going on in this novel. Should Thumps and Claire, his long time girlfriend and her six year old daughter move in together? Does he really want to take on the job of deputy sheriff? Can he get used to working with a digital camera and living in the modern age of wifi and smartphones? Why have so many heavyweights shown up at a low key coin exhibition? 

5 stars

Let Us Descend
by Jesmyn Ward (Author and Narrator) October 24, 2023

If Jesmyn Ward writes it, I will read it even if, often, her work is hard to read. It's loaded with truth about trauma experienced by black people. It's also beautiful. The beauty and the ugly truths are woven together into unparalleled literature.
The history of slavery before the civil war is told through the eyes of Annis, a young girl whose sire was the owner of the house where her mother worked. Her mother is ripped from her and sold. Eventually she too is sold and makes the long walk from the rice fields of Carolina to New Orleans. There she is sold and ends up in a sugar plantation in Louisiana. On that long trek Annis connects to African spirits who guide and use her on this journey through hell.
I wasn't as emotionally invested in Annis as I have been in the characters of Ward's other books. That doesn't mean I wasn't on the edge of my seat desperately wanting for Annis to survive and be free.

The book blurb calls this a warm and uplifting novel. It is. It left me with the same satisfied gush of warm feeling I got when I finished The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune.
I'm not really a big romance fan, but I've been gushing about this one to friends and family. Mika is a witch of practical magic. It's a lonely existence. She has to hide who she really is, and can't spend time with other witches because of the danger inherent when too much magic is in one place. 
When she ends up accepting a job tutoring three young witches, her life is transformed. She becomes part of a found family and is accepted for who she is. She learns to overcome adversity, to trust, love, and be loved. Romance plays a part in this book. There are even a few spicy bits. Yet, while it's a significant part of the plot, it's not the most important. 
I am almost gobsmacked by Mandanna's authentic characters. Mika is rich and layered, but so are the rest of the cast. 
The most important takeaway from this book is that things don't always have to be the way they now are. 
I'm looking forward to reading more of Sangu Mandanna


"America is at a crossroads.
A country that once stood as the global symbol of democracy, has been teetering on the brink of authoritarianism."
So begins Richardson's look at the history of democracy in the USA. She writes about a nation more or less divided from the get go. The ideal of 'equality' was always a loaded word. The same 'men' who wrote the constitution, owned slaves. She shows us a country that has flirted with fascism and authoritarianism a number of times across the decades.
I wish I could say that reading this left me hopeful that the country will come together again. Yet I fear the divisiveness is even more pronounced today than it has ever been.
I feel the same way about Canada, the country I live in.


I really struggled with this book.
Maggie Smith is a brilliant wordsmith. The beauty of her words kept me reading long after I just wanted the whole thing to be over.
Here's the thing, Maggie met her husband in a creative writing class. They both dreamed of writing being their career choices. He even had one of his plays performed. Then he gave his dream up to become a lawyer to provide for the family they had together. Of course he wasn't perfect. Neither was she. In the eight hours or so listening to this audiobook, I would have liked for her to really have acknowledged what he gave up. So much of what fell apart for them, especially his wanting her to give up her writing, makes sense in the context of that.
Maybe it's because I've been married for close to a fifty years. Perhaps it's because I'm much older than the author. Anyway, as I listened to this, I couldn't help but think that perhaps if there had been more honest communication, more collaborative parenting and less traditional roles between the two of them, maybe divorce wouldn't have been inevitable. Maybe they would have understood how flawed we all are.
Smith talks a number of times about forgiveness. I suspect this is the wrong goal. Perhaps she should be looking for acceptance: acceptance of herself and her former husband.

CURRENTLY

Mexikid by Pedro Martín
Doppelganger by Naoimi Klein ๐Ÿ 
Winter's Gifts by Ben Aaronovitch

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors by Gail D. Villanueva
Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia by Myriam Daguzan Bernier & Cรฉcile Gariรฉpy (Illustrator)  ๐Ÿ
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 6/25 one on the go

NonFiction 10/24 

Canadian Authors 15/50 two on the go

Indigenous Authors 7/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 67/200