#IMWAYR June 5, 2023

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. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.


It has been a while since I last posted - just over a month. I started writing a number of times, but life just got in the way. I am determined to write at least every other week!

Titles with a 🍁 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.

MOST RECENT BLOG POST


PICTURE BOOKS

I downloaded this book to read with Ellis, my dinosaur crazed three year old granddaughter. There isn't much about dinosaurs in it, but it is a fun, alphabet, rhyming book about what animals can't do. Then in the back matter there is a bit of information explaining what each of the animals can do! Ellis wasn't to interested in it, but her six year old sister was fascinated. 

CHILDREN'S NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS


I nabbed this book from the library because I am a ginormous fan of Isabel Greenberg, the illustrator of this. Am I ever glad I did.
It is a book to help us (children and adults) grasp the enormity of large numbers. I say help, because really, how can anyone come close to making sense of a number like 100,000,000,000,000,000. Most of us can't really grasp 1,000,000,000.
I really appreciated that these massive numbers were written in words at the bottom of the pages where they were mentioned. My favourite page explains that the 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants that live on this planet weigh as much as the 7,500,000,000 people who they share it with.


I started reading this because of Isabel Greenberg's artwork. I ended up loving all of it.
This book makes connections that show how how important the ocean is to our lives, even if we live a long distance from it.
Did you know that seven out of every ten gulps of air you take contain oxygen created by ocean plants?
It's full of fascinating tidbits information about ocean creatures.
I especially appreciate the end of this book where it cycles back to us, revealing the many ways human actions affect the oceans.
Author's notes in the back matter expand on the information in the book.

These underwater photographs are just stunning.
They give the reader a glimpse of the world under the sea just off the coast of South Africa. It reveals a multitude of creatures who inhabit that realm.
While an octopus is shown, I expected a bit more about it. I think this is just because of the author and the text on the bottom of the cover.

YA FICTION


This is the story of a Metis teen who is the child of rape. Her biological father, just released from jail, is stalking her, claiming he will financially support her eduction goals if she will add his name to her birth certificate. 
This book is all about being 'the other.'
It's a story of romantic and sexual love. It shows a family working together to make a better life for each of it's members. It's about friendship and how important it is to be there for and stand up for the people we care for. 
It's also kind of terrifying. 

5 stars

The Crane Husband
by Kelly Barnhill February 28, 2023

There I was with a group of women friends. They were outside in the sunshine, drinking wine, chatting and laughing while I was inside, totally absorbed by this weird and wonderful feminist retelling of The Crane Wife. 
I always loved Kelly Barnhill's children's books. I am now a hard core fan of her books for adults. Ok, since the protagonist here is a 15 year old girl who is trying to keep her brother safe and her family together while her mother works on her artwork, it's probably a YA book - or maybe it's just a book for readers of all ages. Things get extremely dark when her mother brings home a large crane, and she seems almost unaware of his brutality.

ADULT FICTION

4 stars

A Lethal Lesson
by Iona Whishaw & Marilla Wex (Narrator) April 27, 2021 🍁

Lane ends up working as a substitute teacher after discovering the existing teacher  unconscious from a beating. This book addresses issues of abuse for women and children. 

4 stars

Framed in Fire
by Iona Whishaw  & Marilla Wex (Narrator) April 26, 2022 🍁

When Lane goes to visit her friend Peter Barisoff in New Denver, she meets up with Tom, an indigenous man, who is looking for traces of his ancestors. They find Peter working in his garden where the three of them unearth a body. 
This book reveals a bit about the history of the indigenous people who once inhabited the West Kootenays. It also addresses issues of racism and prejudice. 

I was enthralled by this story of two friends, Fabienne and Agnès, growing up a small community in France after the war. The two thirteen year old girls write a novel. (Fabienne tells the story while Agnès transcribes it.) They get the local postmaster to help them get it published, with Agnès presented as the author. Her life is changed because of this. Ultimately this book is about about how much one of them will sacrifice to improve the life of the other.
I will reading more by Yiyun Li. Her writing is beautiful. 

While this book is fiction, it is based on true events and the characters are, in many ways, composites of the lives of real women. 
It's the story of the prochoice abortion movement. It connects women across time - from the abusive maternity homes and deadly backroom abortions of earlier years, to the women and men who provided safe (but still against the law) abortions with the help of different kinds of underground networks, and finally to today, where in Canada at least, abortion on demand is still, theoretically at least, available. Finding a nearby clinic is impossible in some parts of the country. It's also about motherhood and what women go through to achieve it. 
Ultimately, it's about choice. 

I especially like the way Leckie deals with gender in this book. In the protagonists culture, everyone is a she, whereas in other cultures she often errs and misgenders people. We never really know what (if any) gender she is. I'm fascinated by her imagining of AI in a future world. I liked a lot about this book and am now reading the next in the series. It might even be better than the first. 


There are few things as satisfying as finding yourself lost in a book. I had no real idea of what I was in for when I started this, but ended up being fascinated by Elizebeth Smith Friedman's life and the times she lived through. She was brilliant. If she was alive today, I suspect she would have been one of the world's finest computer programers.
Not only did I learn more about codes, I learned about the their use and abuses across the span of her life. It was fascinating to learn about how the different aspects of government interacted.
Elizebeth and her husband were both code breakers and makers. As is usual in these cases, it was he who garnered most of the credit while they were alive. Her life is remarkable given that she was a woman born 1892. Getting an education was no mean feat. Becoming one of the countries foremost code breakers of her time is an especially remarkable accomplishment.


I worried this would be harder to listen to, but Yeonmi Park is almost dispassionate about some of the horror she and her family experienced. By North Korean standards, her family, at least until after her father was arrested, were privileged. Following his incarceration for smuggling, things changed drastically. 
Park and her mother's escape from North Korean to China is a story of sexual abuse and slavery. With the help of a missionary group, she eventually ended up in South Korea where she became involved in the human rights movement. She now lives in the USA. 

CURRENTLY

Gut by Giulia Enders & Jill Enders (Illustrator)
VenCo by Cherie Dimaline 🍁
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
The Secret Pocket by Peggy Janicki & Carrielynn Victor (Illustrator) April 11, 2023 🍁

UP NEXT 

Roll For the Initiative by Jaime Formato

READING GOALS 

#MustReadFiction 6/24

#MustReadNonFiction 8/20 one in progress

Canadian Authors 21/75 

Indigenous Authors 9/20 

Big Books Summer 2023 - 1/5

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 82/200


FREE VERSE FRIDAY #6 JUNE SOLSTICE

I've decided to join Beverly A Baird, Linda Schueler and others in a "year long poetry practice – on the first Friday of each Month," when they, and anyone else who joins, will be writing a poem based on the theme of the month and a photo taken relating to that theme.

You can find out more about this here.

This month it felt like Spring was writing her story through me in this poem. I wonder what Summer will have to say?

The first time I participated, I didn't get the photograph first bit. I let the theme percolate throughout the month before posting and the poem more or less wrote itself. When I realized my mistake, I sent a half decent draft of it to my partner, Randy Rotheisler, and a friend, Ron Peace, both gifted photographers, asking for images to accompany it. We have continued this process. Both have remarked that this poem is dark and that finding images was challenging. In case you are interested, both these photographs can be purchased from the photographers. Let me know if you want their contact information. 

Moses by Ron Peace

Solstice

early on 

i two stepped 

lightly across the land 

now my feet, 

heavy,

drag across it


the season has been hard

harder than usual

Winter ignored the equinox,

threw white flurried tantrums well into April

now Summer,

always impatient,

blasts heat

well before her time


i’ve heard rumours 

those two are getting weird messages from the sun

a story about atmospheric interference 

too much carbon or something 


frankly, i’m too tired to care

i just want it to stop 


under these conditions 

it’s exhausting, 

almost impossible

to keep

my delicate charges alive,

never mind thrive


thankfully, 

my shift 

is almost over


soon i get to let go


soon


just as soon 

as the solstice arrives


it will be

someone else’s

turn to 

worry 

about 

the world


Descent by Randy Rotheisler




FREE VERSE FRIDAY #5 MAY FLOWERS

I've decided to join Beverly A Baird, Linda Schueler and others in a "year long poetry practice – on the first Friday of each Month," when they, and anyone else who joins, will be writing a poem based on the theme of the month and a photo taken relating to that theme.

You can find out more about this here.

In my mind I have a vision of Spring waking up flowers to join in a wild and raucous celebration of the return of the sun.  I started working on it, but it is unwieldy and wants to go on and on. I thought I better prune it down (pun intended) and focus on one aspect of it. 
It's blossom time in my neck of the woods, and it is glorious indeed. Unfortunately this poem kept too kept growing. On my walks I keep noticing flowering shrubs and trees that I had overlooked in my poem. I swear they scowl at me and ask, "Hey, What about me?"

The first time I participated, I didn't quite get the photo part right, so I sent a half decent draft of my poem to my partner, Randy Rotheisler, and a friend, Ron Peace, both gifted photographers, asking for images to accompany it. It was fun and they are keen to continue, so that's what we are doing. 

Randy Rotheisler


oh so lovingly
spring tickles blossoms
from reluctant trees and bushes

forsythia flounces out first, 
leading the parade 
in yellow frills, 

on the wild slopes 

saskatoon branches 
adorn themselves in 
delicate wisps of white corolla

antelope bitterbrush 
burst out in 
halos of cream clusters 

stately dogwood 
announce their presence 
in cascades of four petal splendour  

citrus sweet clusters 
of mock orange 
arrive 
just in time 
for bridal bouquets

in the tamed valley, 
fruit trees explode
in florescence 

apricot arrives
in a fuss of blush  
 
apple, cherry, pear and plum 
hustle bustle around 
arrayed in shades of alabaster  
  
cheeky peach  
preens and pirouettes
in a profusion in pink

in the gardens and yards of local folk
 
crimson camellia 
carry on with the

magnolia cousins,
strutting their stuff
in sprays of white stars  
and marvels of magenta

while lilac arrives
quietly, 
in perfumed panicles 
of delicate florets

blessed indeed 
are we humble creatures 
to witness 
this divine spectacle of
painted fragrance


Ron Peace


Maybe I should have just focused on arrowleaf baslsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata.) The hills glow golden with their flowering these days. 




IMWAYR April 23, 2023

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. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.


I have been away. I have been busy. I did not read much. I have been writing. All this is true and why I have not been posting. I am doing my best to not get overly stressed. It isn't easy.
 
Last weekend our guild quilt show was a smashing success. As co-chair of the committee, I can't take much credit. It's because of the individual committee members that it went off so brilliantly. Since it was my first quilt show, I did a lot of worrying. I am really good at that.
You can read about the show here

My reading life has been in fits and starts. I have picked up and abandoned a lot of titles. I sent a huge pile of library books back to the library unread. After reading Orwell's Roses by  Rebecca Solnit, I thought I would reread 1984. I got about half way into it before realizing it was way too dark and only going to get darker. 

Titles with a 🍁 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.

MOST RECENT BLOG POST

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Lift
by Minh Lê & Dan Santat (Illustrator) May 5, 2020

When Iris' little brother takes over her job of pressing elevator buttons, she is seriously miffed. In retaliation she presses the button so many times that it breaks. When the repairman tosses the broken piece into the garbage, she rescues it and tapes it onto her bedroom wall. She's surprised and delighted to discover that pushing the button opens a portal into other worlds.

Just Wow! I have ordered copies of this for my two grandkids for their 6th birthday.
It's gorgeously illustrated (as is anything created by Jenkins.) Sure I'm impressed by the quality of the information, but it's how it's presented that really wows me. Each page has a paragraph explaining the tools the species is using. The simply captioned illustrations show the animal using it. I also really like the silhouetted sections that show the size of the creature compared to a human. The back matter contains additional information about the animals in the book, but really, it's not needed.


I almost abandoned this one because it seemed like it was going to end up as one of those mean girl kind of books. I continued because this is Barbara Dee, and she has never let me down before. She didn't this time either.
Haven is full of eco-anxiety. It gets in the way of her completing her school work, but after a conversation with her social studies teacher, gets an extension. In science class they discover that their local river is in trouble. Species are missing and the acid ph level is too high. With the help of others, Haven organizes a river awareness and cleanup party. When she realizes that it isn't enough, she tries to emulate her hero, a Greta Thunberg kind of character. In the end, with the help of her teachers, parents, and others, she discovers a way to make a serious difference.
I ended up really liking this story. I like that Haven's relationship with the girl she had problems with is resolved and becomes a positive one. I like that there are all kinds of students and adults working along side Haven to improve the world. I like that Haven becomes a role model herself, but I think the most important message here, is that real change can only be accomplished if we work together.

Some readers suggested that reading the previous books would help figure out all that was going on. This might be true. I did have trouble keeping track of who was who and what was happening to them. That the author inserts little snippets of life for ordinary people doesn't help. I liked Simon Vance's voice as narrator, but suspect that had I read this with my eyes, my confusion might have been less of an issue.
You might think after that little spiel, that I didn't enjoy this book. You would be wrong. In spite of being confused more often that I like to be, I got completely caught up in this fantasy. The writing is gorgeous. The world building - a combination of historical reality and fantasy is powerful and authentic. The characters are appealing and real - even the nasty ones!


I thought I had written about this when I finished it, but discovered that I didn't. I think I wanted to mull it over, but what I really wanted, was to read it with a book club. I was/am desperate to talk about it with others who have read it. 
This book made me crazy with rage. Having lived through, and grown into my teens in the 1950's and 1960's, I lived through this reality. I saw my mother struggle through it. Unfortunately, it feels all still relevant today. I would like to transform into a dragon. 

4 stars

A Match Made for Murder
(Lane Winslow #7) by Iona Whishaw & Marilla Wex (Narrator) April 28, 2020 🍁

I was delighted to return to this world and these characters. Lane and her husband, Darling, are in Arizona on their honeymoon. A murder in their hotel ends up pulling them into the investigation.
Meanwhile, back in Nelson, Sergeant Ames has a murder, and a missing teen girl to deal with. It turns out that the different cases in two different countries are connected.
I liked that this one addresses the issues of domestic and sexual violence for women and girls.

What an amazing story teller!
I listened to this read by the author. It was an intimate experience - as though she was still here chatting about her life. If my library had her next book in audio format, I would have downloaded it immediately to continue.

CURRENTLY

The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life by Amy Butler Greenfield

UP NEXT 

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
 by 
 Jenny Ferguson 🍁

READING GOALS 

#MustReadFiction 6/24

#MustReadNonFiction 7/20 one in progress

Canadian Authors 17/75 

Indigenous Authors 9/20 

Canada Reads Finalists 3/5

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 69/200


FREE VERSE FRIDAY #4 APRIL CHANGE

I've decided to join Beverly A Baird, Linda Schueler and others in a "year long poetry practice – on the first Friday of each Month," when they, and anyone else who joins, will be writing a poem based on the theme of the month and a photo taken relating to that theme.

You can find out more about this here.

The first time, I didn't quite get the photo part right, so I sent a half decent draft of my poem to my partner, Randy Rotheisler, and a friend, Ron Peace, both gifted photographers, asking for images to accompany it. It was fun and they are keen to continue, so I'm continuing this process. 

A couple of weeks ago we were in Vancouver and the world was full of flowers. I especially noted the daffodils that were everywhere. Then we returned home to nothing. Well, there were bits of green shoots poking out of the ground, but no colour anywhere. That's when this poem began to write itself. 

Last month Linda Schueler shared a persona poem. As I thought about daffodils, I began to wonder what it's life was like and the idea for a poem from the daffodil's perspective took shape. It turned out I really didn't know much about the life of a daffodil. Who would have thought that writing a poem would have involved so much research!

When I sent a very rough draft of this out to these gifted photographers, it was untitled. Randy was sure I was talking about the local balsamroot flowers. Given that I never mention bulb, and people interpret art as they see fit, he insisted I use his image. When I sent Ron a later draft, I made sure he had the title.  

Daffodil Diary

is it time yet?

i am tedium incarnate

hiding from summer heat
and then, later on
cowering from winter cold

no matter how
snug and secure
i am

waiting
beneath the earth
waiting for
the return of the sun
waiting for
just right warm
waiting

feels like forever

and now,
at last,
it’s time
time to get up, grow up, show up,

it’s time
to get my
greedy roots reaching deep into dirt
it’s time to
greet mycorrhizal fungi
and trade some carbon for
compound rich water

it’s time
to push my strong leaves
up
up
up
through the soil
into
radiant light

into the glory of
chloroplasts synthesizing the divine

it’s time
time for
phloem and xylem to
send this sacred joy
throughout my body
til i am
green and giddy
drunk on this
consecrated elixir

it’s time
time to send scape skyward
time to release
pedicel, spathe, ovary, tepal, corona, anther, stigma, style
to fill myself with sweet amrita

it’s time

to bloom

to bloom, resplendent in golden yellow

It’s time
at last
to commune,
however briefly,
with bees

Ron Peace

Randy Rotheisler







#IMWAYR April 3, 2023

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. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

Last week was the exciting Canada Reads Debates. Alas I didn't get all the books read, but I enjoyed watching the conversations about books. It helped that of the ones I did read, Ducks, the one I thought best fit the bill for changing Canadian perspective, won. You can find out more about this annual celebration of Canadian literature here.  

My husband and I went out for dinner Saturday to celebrate our anniversary. My sister reminded me it was 46 years, not 45. We enjoyed the good enough french food, but since both of us are pretty good cooks, (especially him) it was really only the crème brûlée that wowed us.
 
I meant to write a post last week, but we had been away in the big city of Vancouver, BC, for a vacation of sorts and I got my days all mixed up and thought Monday was Sunday. 

Titles with a 🍁 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.

PICTURE BOOKS


Walter Had a Best Friend
by Deborah Underwood & Sergio Ruzzier (Illustrator) October 18, 2022

Walter and Xavier were best friends, and then they weren't. Walter grieves the loss of this relationship until he realizes that he has to go on with his life. He sets out on a new path and finds a new best friend.
I really like that this book doesn't minimize the hard and painful feelings Walter experiences, and at the same time, leaves the reader full of hope at the end.
I am a hard core fan of Sergio Ruzzier's illustrations and hope these two do more work together.


Hot Dog
by Doug Salati May 24, 2022

I'm not really a dog kind of person, though I like other people's dogs well enough. Still, this didn't stop me from appreciating this book. Through poetic language and gorgeous artwork, readers experience a busy city and a peaceful beach from the perspective of a pup. In turn it shows the rest of us how to appreciate nature and the small blessings in our own lives. 

CHILDREN'S NONFICTION


Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill
by Matt Lilley & Dan Tavis (Illustrator) January 11, 2022

I knew that krill were a keystone species in the Canadian Arctic, but it wasn't til I read this book that I realized how significant they are globally. While I appreciated the information and illustrations in this book, there is nothing in it about how they mate. In the back matter it tells how egg laying females swarm together, but nothing about how they end up producing eggs. As a retired teacher librarian, who worked with young researcher, all the details are important.

MG FICTION


City of the Dead
by James Ponti & Lisa Flanagan (Narrator) February 7, 2023

I sometimes forget how satisfying a good middle grade novel can be. I needed this book in my life as a break from the intensity of the rest of my reading life. 
In this, the 4th in the City Spies series, the team of teen spies ends up in Egypt in search of a computer hacker. Their stepfather's son unexpectedly shows up. He seems to be very helpful, but whether or not he can be trusted is another matter entirely. 

ADULT NONFICTION


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
 by Barbara Ehrenreich
May 8, 2001

Barbara Ehrenreich left her well paying job as a journalist to see if she could survive working at a minimum wage job in three different cities around the United States. While she was cushioned from the full assault of poverty because she was white, proficient in English, started out with some seed money, and didn't give up her car, she was still unable to make ends meet.
She reveals the dark underbelly, almost dystopian reality that is the life for working class people, (mostly women) who work and live below the poverty level. This was written at the end of the 1990's. I fear that life for people  today is probably even worse. 
As a Canadian I couldn't help but reflect that people here working at these kinds of wages, don't have to worry about paying medical bills. Their lives are still impossible, but they have one less thing to fret about.
This is a book to enlighten those of us who live comfortable lives, that if someone like us, with all the advantages, can't survive on minimum wages, how can we expect anyone else to?



The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in A Toxic Culture 
by Gabor Maté & Daniel
 Maté (coauthor and narrator) September 13, 2022 🍁

"Over four decades of clinical experience, Maté has come to recognize the prevailing understanding of “normal” as false, neglecting the roles that trauma and stress, and the pressures of modern-day living, exert on our bodies and our minds at the expense of good health."
This reads like the author's magnum opus, a synthesis of his previous writings on addiction and physical and mental health. I appreciated that he integrates his own experiences into the rest of the narrative.
Reading this book was unsettling. It opened up wounds I though were healed over. At the same time, it helped me think about aspects of my life today through a new lens. 
It should be required reading for all health and education professionals.

CURRENTLY

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay 🍁 

UP NEXT 

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
 by 
 Jenny Ferguson 🍁

READING GOALS 

#MustReadFiction 6/24

#MustReadNonFiction 4/20 in progress

Canadian Authors 15/75 1 in progress

Indigenous Authors 9/20 

Canada Reads Finalists 3/5

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 62/200