Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hitched by Carol Higgins Clark

Five brides are about to be married when their dresses disappear or are slashed to shreds.
One of these brides is Regan Reilly a PI who is to be married to her sweetheart Jack Reilly of the NYPD Major Case Squad. She is not about to sit back and let someone else find her dress.
What follows is an investigation that 'unveils' each bride and or groom.
I found this a really quick read. Amusing but with several plot twists that I hadn't considered. Always good when the author can keep me guessing. Ms Higgins Clark is the author of several books and has co-written a few with her mother Mary Higgins Clark.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Hot and Sweaty Rex by Eric Garcia

This was funny. Let me repeat, funny.
Life gets kinda hectic the week before any holiday and December is no exception. For that reason I wanted something light and distracting to read. This book fit the bill.
I am still trying to picture Vincent Rubio, a Private Investigator who happens to be a Dinosaur in human disguise. Not only that, but 2 Dino Mafia families who are in the midst of a feud. Now throw in a trip to the Florida Everglades and an approaching hurricane. I really can't say more without giving away plot but I think you get the idea. There's a lot more happening in this book than just Dinos in an unbelievable situation. There is a terrific cast of characters including childhood friend Jack who is head of one of the Dino families, Noreen an old flame once jilted and Glenda his best friend to name just a few.
I loved the story and am still trying to figure how the Dino tails fit into the disguises. If you can suspend those moments of disbelief, you will totally enojoy this offering by Eric Garcia.
There are 2 previous stories in this series, but you can easily read this one without having read the others.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Perfect read for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Not a thick book at 122 pages.
The 1951 movie version with Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge is very true to the book. Couldn't stop the visual images of him coming to mind as I read.
I had not read this book before and was glad that I did.
Will keep this short and sweet so I can get back to my family.

Read what Petty Witter had to say about her reading of this story.

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Jury by Steve Martini

A good lawyer mystery.
Lawyer Paul Madriana and his partner Harry Hinds are defending their client scientist Dr. David Crone against the charge of murder of his co-worker Dr. Kalista Jordan.
This story went through a series of twists and turns that kept me from guessing 'who done it'. There were sufficient red herrings offered along the way that I was totally side tracked by them.
I would definitely read another book by Steve Martini should it find it way to me. This book was found at a Bookcrossing meeting.

The Oath by Lindsay Chase

An historical romance novel set in New York City in 1889.

Catherine has trained as a medical doctor at a time when female doctors are still a novelty and not always taken seriously.

Along with her friend and fellow female doctor Sybilla, she opens her practice specializing in women's health. She is befriended by a male doctor, Kim Flanders, who wisely realizes that some of the wives of his patients are unwilling to be seen by a male doctor.

At this period in time many women still die during child birth and these three doctors do their best to provide life saving care, including the very risky cesarean section.

It seems to be that this book does a good job of presenting the challenges and risks that these doctors faced on a daily basis.

This book was passed along to me my a Bookcrossing member, and I will be passing it along to another Bookcrossing friend.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Curse of the Shaman: A Marble Island Story by Michael Kusugak

Love it!!! Only put it down once as my family demanded feeding.
This is the story of Qavvik (Wolverine) and his father Qabluittug(the man with no eyebrows). They live in the far North of Hudson Bay in an area near Rankin Inlet, the author's home. When he is three days old, Qavvik is cursed by the Shaman such that when he becomes a man old enough to marry he will never set foot on that land again.
For the next 15 years we follow Qavvik and his family along their yearly migrations. It was interesting to learn about their lifestyle as it is so different from the city life that many of us lead. Not only the hunting and fishing, but the frequent making of their snow houses and gatherings with other travelling families, particularly their meetings with the Shaman and his family.
I was most impressed with how Qabluittug dealt with the curse. He managed to keep those words spoken in anger separate from his everyday dealing with Paaliaq who is also the Shaman.
The story also explores the power of the growing love between Qavvik and Breath (the Shaman's daughter). A third important theme is that of compassion, which is shown by Qavvik toward an injured snowy owl.
While this book is marketed as a youth novel, it certainly has enough depth to keep the interest of adult readers. Be sure to read the Preface and the after notes as they contain wonderful information.
If you chose to read this book, I suggest you immediately turn to the inside back cover. There you will find the most amazing portrait of the author Michael Kusugak.
My daughter was privileged to meet Mr. Kusugak when he visited her school last year to share some of his stories.
This is my 6th book for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

First novel by Toronto, Ontario author Lesley Livingston.

Kelley had originally been cast as the understudy to Titania in a New York City production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". When the actress cast in the role breaks her ankle, Kelley is forced onto the stage. While practising her lines in Central Park, She meets Sonny, the changeling son of the Fairy King Auberon. This is a mutual and immediate attraction between the two.

This is a great way to start a teen novel. Fairies, magic and the promise of blossoming love.

As in a high school romance, we meet Kelley's friends at the theatre and we meet Sonny's fellow Janus, changeling guards assigned to Central Park. There are confidences shared as well as advice given and ignored. Rings very true to life.

I like the character of Kelley. For a seventeen year old, she knows what she wants in life and is going after it. She is a strong role model. Her only weakness I noticed is when she allows Sonny to take her to 'the Green' for protection. However, if he didn't take her there, it might have been hard to introduce the character of Herne, who had previously led the Wild Ride.

This was a fun read. A few un-expected twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing what would happen next.

Even though this is by a Canadian author, I won't be counting it towards my books for the Canadian Book Challenge, those I am limiting to books by First Nations Authors.

I look forward to passing this along to my niece.

Review at Reader Rabbit

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Buried in Quilts by Sara Hoskinson Frommer

First off, I have to admit to a weakness for quilting novels, meaning I've read a fair number of them and have more on Mount To Be Read. This ranks as one of the better ones. Ms. Hoskinson Frommer has managed to incorporate quilts and quilting throughout the novel, not just limiting it to a cover photo and a passing mention like some I have read.
Her main character, Joan Spencer, is the manager of the Oliver, Indiana Civic Symphony which is scheduled to perform at the local quilt show. During the dress rehearsal, a body is found under a quilt. Somehow Joan is drawn into the investigation just like she was in the previous book in this series.
I found that the characters in this book are very realistic. They may have been in the same orchestra, or working on the quilt show together, but that didn't automatically make them best buddies or even friends. Lots of possible suspects and motives.
Quilters will enjoy the accuracy with regard to the quilts and the running of the quilt show, though I do question the high values assigned to some of the items (might be the difference between Canadian and American valuations).
I didn't guess the outcome until it was revealed. I did enjoy the development of the renewed relationship between Joan and her daughter Rebecca (also a quilter).
The series continues with a few more books , though none are of a quilting nature.
I will be passing this along to another member of my quilting 'bee'.

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Man Who Ran Faster than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat by Jack Batten

A very inspiring read.

Being a runner, I had heard of Tom Longboat and of him winning the Boston Marathon, but I didn't really know anything else about him. Fortunately Jack Batten has changed all that.

Tom, an Onondoga Indian, was raised on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario (1/2 hour from where I live). He started out as a lacrosse player, but at the age of 17 he was challenged to a race by a teammate, which he easily won. Shortly after that he began to take his running more seriously.

Jack tells us that for Tom, running brought him pleasure. Like many runners I know, he liked the way that running emptied his mind of worries.

In 1906 he entered his first major race, the Around the Bay race in Hamilton, Ontario, a distance of 19 miles 168 yards. He won over the favoured runners by almost 3 minutes. This race is still run in March with a distance of 30 km.

His next major race which brought him world wide recognition was the Boston Marathon , April 19, 1907. He won this by an unprecedented 3/4 of a mile lead.

The book goes on to detail many of Tom's races and his competitors. What I am most impressed by, is for Tom to have been winning so many races against such esteemed competitors he must have had a comprehensive training program which no one seems to have known about. Here was a young man, without the advantage of wealth to pay for his training, nor the modern shoe technologies and food supplements, yet he was running times that would please many a runner today. Wow.

Mr. Batten has written an easy to read book that clearly conveys the thrill of the race. He brought this runner to life for me. Tom Longboat has also been remembered by the establishment of the Longboat Runners of Toronto, Ontario, who host a race in his honour each September.

This book will count toward my total for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. It isn't written by a First Nations Author, but it is about a First Nations and a Canadian Hero.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge

I found this book while browsing the website of The Bookworm. Being that it's by a Canadian Author I hadn't heard of, I ordered it right away, and then went into their shop the next day to pick it up. A dangerous feature but oh so handy.
Turned out to be a good choice. Pauline has written a whole series of books about ancient Egypt. This one deals with Hatshepsut, a woman Pharaoh who had a long and very successful reign. We also met Senemut, her chief Architect. The book proposes that Hatshepsut and Senemut carried on an affair for a number of years during her reign.
I rather enjoyed this book. It mixes enough fact in with the fiction that it makes you feel as though you are learning something at the same time as you are enjoying yourself.
At this point I am not counting this book toward my total for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge as I am trying to read books by First Nations Authors, but should I read 13 of those, then I'll submit this title.

Friday, 28 November 2008

My Photo

My friend Lisa over at Mistaken Identity has added her photo, so I decided to follow her example and add mine. Now you can see who I am. Yes, that's me, all hot and sweaty out for a winter race February 2007 about -14C plus wind chill.

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese Mushkotay Beezheekee Anakwat

"That's what this journey is all about - to learn to express yourself as whom you were created to be."
was raised in foster homes and by his adoptive family till he struck out on his own at 16. He was rootless and searching for a sense of belonging.
During his life so far, he has met a wide variety of people who have had significant impacts upon him. This book shares these glimpses into his life and the significance of these people.
A pivotal point seems to occur when he meets John Thunder Rock, who teaches him that first you have to be a good human being. Through that he will learn to be a good man. Only then can he be the good Indian that he has always wanted to be. That it isn't the wearing of Indian clothing that makes him into a good Indian.
There are dozens of shaping moments/messages contained within these covers. Many brought tears to my eyes and a catch in my throat. Particularly the passage when Richard meets his grandfather for the first time. I can't even imagine the impact that would have had on him. It did cause me to reflect on my relationship with my grandparents and the varying roles they have played in my life and my development.
This book is best read in little bits, each section savoured and enjoyed. Meditate of them if you chose. I had to rush through as I borrowed it from the library, but I will be ordering my own copy to which I plan to add my own comments and a few photos that were brought to mind by the reminiscences.
There is so much wisdom contained within the pages of "One Native Life" that I know I will be coming back to various passages again and again. With a lot of help and guidance, Mr. Wagamese or Mushkotay Beezheekee Anakwat (Ojibway for Buffalo Cloud) seems to have found peace with his past and is most comfortable in his skin. He has definitely become the Indian that John Thunder Rock knew was lurking inside all along. I feel privileged to have had Richard's life and experiences shared with me.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

All my Relations

I really did make a post today, but I had started it as a draft a few weeks back and when I clicked on publish, it was posted back on the day that I had started it instead of right here. arg.

So here's the link, or you can scroll down.


All my Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction ed. by Thomas King.

This is my 3rd bock for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Can you be reading too many books at one time?

It just might be true that I am reading too many books at the moment. Now why would I think that?

First, there is the book of short stories by assorted authors. For each new author I have to do some research and find out who has created this story. Only then can I read the associated pages.

Then there is the book of short stories/passages all by one author. Not meant to be read continuously but rather read one by one and savoured.

Of course there is the novel that would really benefit from longer periods of un-interrupted reading. Now where do I find that time when I am continually picking up the other books, both of which are from the library and will soon need returning.

And then to make matters even more murky, I picked up another book from the library that I had been wanting. I hadn't meant to start reading it. I couldn't hurt to peek in the front cover, and maybe then to check out the illustration over the page. I should really finish that chapter. eeks.

And then while I was out, the library called to say that next book I requested was in and I could pick it up right away...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Medicine River by Thomas King

After his mother passes away, Will decides to return home to Medicine River, Alberta. Once there he meets up again with Harlen Bigbear and his life is never the same.

Harlen knows everyone and doesn't mind adding his helpful suggestions in any situation. He introduces Will to all his relations on the reserve as well as dozens of others. Harlen is not content to sit back and watch others live their lives, he wants to be part of them, he wants to help. This gets Will involved with many more members of the community. It doesn't take long for Will to become an integral part of the society.

Mr. King has a wonderful story telling ability. He takes ordinary, everyday events and turns them into occasions. When Will and Harlen are looking for a gift for South Wing, they could have driven straight to Martha Oldcrow's. But no, add the adventure of going off roading, stripping and wading across the river, and now you have a story worth repeating for generations. Did I forget about Will dunking Harlen?

My favourite part of the novel occurs when Harlen convinces Will to offer a "special" for family portraits. When he agrees to do Joyce Blue Horn's family photo, he's figuring on wife, husband and kids. By the time the Shoot is completed it has included an excursion to the river where the 50+family members, including the newly "adopted to the family" Will. I can just imagine the conversation and how this simple photo steam rolled into such an event.

Interesting story telling technique Mr. King didn't go beginning to end, rather he jumped all around. Giving little tidbits that left me hungering for more. It's hard to put down a book that keeps teasing you with little details.

My second book for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Richard's review at Book Addiction

Monday, 10 November 2008

Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy

A fantasy novel about police officer Joanne Walker (birth name Siobhan Walkingstick) who lives in Seattle. Her life went awry when she learned to her dismay that she is a shaman.
Something is not right in Seattle and its up to Joanne to set it straight.
Through out this book Joanne struggles against accepting her gift. She doesn't want it and she doesn't want the responsibility that comes with accepting it.
You can easily read this book without having read the first one, though there are a number of references back to previous events. It would have been interesting to know what had happened and how she came to realize that she is a shaman. You can check Ms. Murphy's website for her other novels that sound equally interesting.
As a side note, Joanne has taken up fencing as a means of dealing with the stress in her life after she was stabbed through with a sword in the previous novel in this series. Since I have started fencing I am compiling a list of fencing related novels.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

My son was reading this one in class, and since I managed somehow to make it all through school and university without reading any Shakespeare, thought I would give it a try.
I really enjoyed it. I found my self laughing aloud during the scene where Petruchio's wedding clothes and the state of his horse is being described.
My daughter studied "A Comedy of Errors" last year and came home saying that Shakespeare is a dirty, old man. Now I understand her comment.
I will be looking forward to reading more of his work.

All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction edited by Thomas King

This book is a collection of short stories by a number of different Canadian First Nations Authors. I have included a few comments about each story. These are my own thoughts and feelings, your will probably be quite different. Where possible I have included links to each author.

"An Okanagan Indian becomes a Captive Circus Showpiece in England" by Harry Robinson - Okanagan as transcribed by Wendy Wickwire

This is the story of George Jim who is convicted of killing a white man. While in jail he is taken to England and paraded around as a show piece to earn money for his captors.

The story appears to have been transcribed word for word as Mr. Robinson told it to Ms. Wickwire. It reminds me of sitting with my grandparents and listening to their stories.

Coal Oil, Crayons and Schoolbooks by Ruby Slipperjack - Ojibway

I love stories such as this. It's a day in the life of our main character. She awakens early and has time alone with her mother, which I suspect is a rarity in such a full house. It turns out to be a special day with a visit from the Medicine Man.

See my review of 'Little Voice' also by Ruby Slipperjack

Run by Barry Milliken - Ojibway

It's the story of Peter and how his life and family have changed since his father passed away. Peter had found solace in his running.

This is one of the best descriptions of the meaning of running to the runner that I have read. Peter is usually calmed by his running, but today that is not the case. Its as though the running is sending him a message that this is wrong.

Weaver Spider's Web by Peter Blue Cloud - Mohawk

A fable. Coyote's survival is threatened because he is mesmerized by the web the Weaver Spider is making. He is saved when Grey Fox comes to visit and sees what is happening.

It's amazing how people can get stuck on the smallest of details yet miss out on all the major events that are surrounding them. I think that this would make a wonderful children's picture book. I can imagine the lovely pictures that Weaver spider would be spinning.

Compatriots by Emma Lee Warrior - Peigan

Hilda is visiting from Germany and wants to learn about Indians. She spends the day with Lucy and her kids and learns that their daily life is just like anyone else. You have to care for your family, cook and clean. It seems she is looking for some profound revelation but finds that we are all people regardless of race or colour.

The Seventh Wave by Jordan Wheeler - Cree

This is a coming of age for the second time. Jerry has returned to university to earn his Masters. While camping with his young girl friend and one of her contemporaries he realizes that their life is no longer for him

The Rez Sisters (excerpt) by Tomson Highway - Cree

Several ladies from Wasaychigan Hill on Manitoulin Island want to go to Toronto for the bingo where there is a larger pot to be won.

Reminds me of my grandmother telling me of the ladies at the bingos that she used to attend. Am really looking forward to seeing this play performed.

See my review of 'Kiss of the Fur Queen' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Fox on the Ice/mahkesis miskwamihk e-cipatapit' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Dragonfly Kites/pimihakanisa' by Tomson Highway
See my review of 'Caribou Song/atihko nikamon' by Tomson Highway

An Afternoon in Bright Sunlight by Shirley Bruised Head - Blackfoot

This story has the start of an amazing novel. An interesting mix of characters, a remote wilderness location, and a mystery. Is it an old woman, a bear or a malevolent spirit that lingers in the coulee? Just when I thought we'd get a hint, the story ends.

The One about Coyote Going West by Thomas King - Cherokee

Grandfather tells the story of how coyote discovered the Indians. A modern legend.

See my review of 'Medicine River' by Thomas King

Turtle Gal by Beth Brant - Mohawk

A sad tale. SueLinn is 9 when her mother dies. Kindly senior James William takes her in, with the understanding that the little he has to offer her is much, much more than the child welfare agency could ever hope to give her. Wonderful writing. Beth easily conveys the anguish that Sweet William feels while making his decision to care for SueLinn.

Hookto : The Evil Entity by Bruce King

This is an excerpt from an untitled novel. Hookto seems to embody all that is dark and evil. The only thing that can defeat him is pure good.

This is a Story by Jeanette C. Armstrong - Okanagan

This is the story of the People and how the Swallow people caused the salmon to leave the river. The People stopped living the way they needed to and began living the life of the Swallows. This was not good for them.

All peoples must live their own life and not anyone else's life.

Rain by Maurice Kenny - Mohawk

This is a story for reflecting. For thinking back to the past. The dancers are in the plaza dancing down the rain as they have for decades past. I can almost hear the beat of the drums and the thumping of the feet on the previously dusty ground.

Welcome to the Real World by Joan Crate - Cree

Dione is a new mother and while visiting with her mother she reminisces of when her family got electricity in the house and avocado coloured appliances.

The Last Raven by Richard G. Green - Mohawk

After a morning in bible classes, Jim, Bill and Hartman go out with shotguns to eliminate a murder of crows that are too bloated on berries to fly away.

Cement Woman by JB Joe - Nootka

Wustenaxsun found her in the city, living the life of the cement people. He brought her to the country to "live". Now that he has passed on she needs to find the strength of self to continue with her real life and not to resume the cement life.

King of the Raft by Daniel David Moses - Delaware

A coming of age story. The boys spend the summer hanging out on a raft anchored in the river. Much time is spent telling stories and comparing life events.

Song One: The Riverside by Jovette Marchessault - Montagneise-Cree

A young girl grows up living half the year in her mother's house and the other half in her grandmother's. Her growth and learning is greatly influenced by her grandmother's beliefs and traditions.

Summer Holidays in Spanish by Basil H. Johnston - Ojibway

35 Boys from the residential school spend the summer camping on Aird Island.

See my review of The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway by Basil Johnston

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Fox on the Ice/mahkesis miskwamihk e-cipatapit by Tomson Highway

This is the third story of Joe and Cody. It is winter and they are ice fishing with their parents. Cody is helping his father with the net and Joe is napping on the sled with his mother. When the sled dogs catch the scent of a fox across the lake and they take up the chase. Unfortunately they are still attached to the sled. Now father and Cody must abandon their net and save the family.
The paintings of their dog Ootsie are so full of expression you can almost imagine him barking in excitement. The painting of father in that split second where he decides to abandon his net and rush after his family shows the anguish of the decision.
The illustrations are by Brian Deines.

Dragonfly Kites/pimihakanisa by Tomson Highway

This is a lovely story of Joe and Cody. During the summer months they travel in the northern reaches of Manitoba, far into the lakes country. It is a very isolated area and there are no other children to play with. That does not stop the boys, they make playthings of those items they find around them. Their favourite play things are the dragonflies which they turn into kites.
This book is wonderfully illustrated by Brian Deines.

Caribou Song/atihko nikamon by Tomson Highway

This is the first in a three book series, "Songs of the Northwind" which are written in both English and Cree. They are wonderfully illustrated by Brian Deines.
This is the story of Joe and Cody. Joe loves to play his kitoochigan (accordion) and Cody dances to his music.
One day while hunting with their parents, Joe and Cody wander away and use their music and dance to call the caribou.
Readers of "Kiss of the Fur Queen" will recognize this story of Champion and Dancer.
Other books by Mr. Tomson that I have reviewed:

Monday, 3 November 2008

My Halloween Pumpkins

It was a lot of fun carving pumpkins this year, and even more fun watching the reactions of the trick or treaters as they came to the door. I have to admit that these are not from my own patterns. Click the name to travel to the pattern link.

Sponge Bob

Ghost Window and Guild Wars Sword and Rose

We also put a fog machine on the porch. Found out that the littler kids were a bit scared of coming on to the porch. We had to tell them what it was before they would approach. Certainly not what we expected.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Echoes of Earth by Sean Williams & Shane Dix

The people of earth have started looking to the stars. Knowing how lengthy the explorations will be, they are sending engrams (synthetic humans).
One ship, the Frank Tippler has been exploring the planet Adrasteia in Upsilon Aquarious. Aliens visit and leave behind 10 large structures containing eleven gifts.
In the many decades since their departure from earth communication from home has ceased. The crew are faced with the dilemma of determining the acceptable risks of re-establishing contacting with earth. I can't continue without revealing too much plot development, so you'll have to get the book and read it your self.
I enjoyed this fanciful novel. It indulges the 'what if' scenario. What if we travel to the distant stars? What if we encounter aliens? What if...
The story continues in the novel 'Orphans of Earth' and then in 'Heirs of Earth'. Mr. Williams and Mr. Dix have collaborated on several novels.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Short Stories

Are you a fan of Short Stories? I have really only started to enjoy them in the past year of so. Prior to that I felt that I needed a longer story to really get in touch with the characters. Not so.

I was thrilled when the author of a blog I follow agreed to post her short story that she has written for a school assignment. I think she has done a terrific job. She has captured my imagination and has me wondering about 'him' and what will happen to 'him' at the end of the story.

If you like this genre, be sure to travel across the pond and visit Who is that girl?, give her story a read and leave her a comment. She'll love to hear from you.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

eeks, snow

Yesterday we woke to a surprise. Our yard has been transformed. This is the view of my side yard at about noon. Quite the difference from the picture I posted only 2 weeks ago.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway


Champion (Jeremiah) and Dancer (Gabriel) are the youngest sons of Abraham and Mariesis Okimais, Cree, who live in the Northern reaches of Manitoba. At the young age of 7, both boys are sent south to be educated by the Catholic priests.

The priests' 'education' tries to remove all the 'Cree' from the boys and replace it with 'white'. Their language, their beliefs, clothing, food etc are taken away from them. They also suffer sexual and other abuse at the hands of the priests.

The impact of the Church and its 'education' follows the boys for the rest of their lives. The Church has tried to turn them into 'white men' but the colour of their skins won't allow for that to happen. Society continues to view them as 'only indians'. While each boy reaches the pinnacle of their chosen career they are viewed as 'the indian pianist' and 'the indian dancer' and not as 'the Pianist' and 'the Dancer'. Each of them struggles with what they know in their hearts, with what the Church has tried to force them to be and with how their families are twisted with 'white mans' ways.

This is a wonderful book. It brings the issue of Residential schools to life. Mr. Highway attended a residential school in the 1950's along with his brother Rene. He is a playwright and also has authored three children's stories (which I will review later this week).

Residential schools were a fixture in Canada for many decades with the last one in Saskatchewan closing in 1996. It was in the 1980's that students began speaking out about the abuses they had suffered. The Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Government are still working toward a resolution to this serious issue.

This is my first book for the Canadian Book Challenge. Thanks to Kathleen Molloy for suggesting Mr. Highway as a author.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

To Serve and Submit by Susan Wright

This novel is set in a mythical world that seems to bear some resemblance to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Marja is a young woman living with her family who survive on what they can coax from the land. When a traveller arrives at their home offering to buy Marja, it seems a salvation to them.
She willing leaves with Lexander a year later when he returns with the promised payment. From this point forward, Marja's life changes in ways she had never imagined. In his travels, Lexander buys men and women and then trains them in the ways of being a slave in a "pleasure house" in his homeland.
Marja quickly learns that her true nature is that of a 'submissive'. Through the remainder of the book the reader, as well as Marja, learn that being a submissive does not mean that you become a 'doormat' and get trodden over in all aspects of your life. With the guidance of other women, Marja learns to take control of her life and her destiny. She learns that she can be a submissive in the sensual areas of her life yet still main control and responsibility in the other areas.
I'll admit that I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. The sub-title 'A Novel of Fantasy' caught my attention. After a tough week, a bit of fantasy can't hurt.
I liked this book. It showed that women can be both soft and yielding/nurturing but have spines of iron and wills to match.
Susan Wright is a well established writer with over 25 titles to her credit including 11 Star Trek novels. She is also the Spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in the USA.

Friday, 17 October 2008

helpless by Barbara Gowdy

Celia is a video store employee by day and a lounge singer by night. Her young daughter Rachel is drop dead gorgeous. It should come as no surprise that someone has nefarious plans for Rachel. She is snatched from her front yard during a blackout in Toronto by a man who has been stalking her.

I have read a number of abduction themed books, and in most cases, the focus is on those investigating the events. This story is different. It focuses on Ron, the abductor, and the events in his past that led him to take this action. On Nancy, his girl friend, and why she at first supports Ron, but why she defies him in little ways. And finally there is Celia who questions whether she is worthy of such a wonderful daughter.

This is a wonderfully crafted novel. Ms. Gowdy kept me guessing if and how she would re-unite Rachel and Celia.

I found this a hard book to listen to. Several times I had to wipe away tears. The topic of child abduction is one I prefer not to delve into and thus would not recommend it to other sensitive readers.

As for the book being on MP3-CD, I was pleasantly surprised. Laurie Brown, the reader, has a lovely voice. She is well able to convey the anguish of Celia, as well as Nancy's concern and confusion. The disk format allowed for easy movement between chapters. My children think this is a 'cool' way to read.

If you haven't listened to an audio book since the cassette tape ere, then you should give it another try. I think you'll be happy you did.

While this book is by a Canadian author, I have chosen not to count it in my challenge as I am planning to read First Nations Authors. I would welcome your suggestions of authors and titles.

See Marie's review.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard

"Never let your name be found in a dead mans trousers." Hector Carpentier
This novel is set in Paris in the year 1818, while King Louis XVIII sits on the throne. Our main character, Dr. Hector Carpentier has been linked to the untimely death of Chretien Leblanc. From this point on Hector is compelled to work with Police investigator Vidocq to determine why Chretien was travelling to see him, a man he had never net.
We are quickly drawn into a web of political intrigue that dates to 1794 and the imprisonment of Louis-Charles, son of Louis XVII and Marie Antoinette.
It is fascinating to follow along as Vidocq pursues his investigation without the benefit of modern forensics and CSI techniques. Careful observation is paramount.
I enjoyed the growth of Dr. Carpentier from a self absorbed student/researcher, into a confident, responsible member of society. This was clearly illustrated when Hector was still trying to protect Charles Rapskeller as they were awaiting their fate at the guillotine.
I admit that at this point I slammed my book closed and thew it across the room as I cried 'no'. It was the next day before I could continue reading. While I will often cry along with a character, this was the strongest emotional response that actually sent me 'fleeing' from the room. A totally compelling read. The intrigue kept me guessing till the final pages. I look forward to reading more by Louis Bayard. This is his third historical novel.
The character of Vidocq is based on the real life Eugene Francois Vidocq who was appointed the first chief of the Surete in 1811.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Autumn Leaves

The leaves in my backyard are gorgeous right now. Hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Mind Game by Christine Feehan

A para-normal romance between Dahlia Le Blanc and Nicolas Trevane.
I had been hoping that their "powers" would be the main thrust of this story, turns out it is mostly about the development of their relationship and their trust with each other. They both have some pretty major and possibly dangerous hurdles to cross, but they both keep working at it, looking toward success.
I find that a romance that focus's on communication and trust is good to read every so often. Those are areas in which many of us could use a reminder. Life and relationships don't just happen and stay healthy for long periods of time without effort being put into them.
Christine's latest novel, "Dark Curse" was the number 1 Best Sellers Fiction pick on the New York Times Book review list of September 21, 2008.
A good choice of novels to finish off my list of summer reads.
This book was suggested by my blog friend Sherrie.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

I'm sewing like crazy so my reading is on a CD book

I am in the crunch with my sewing project and haven't had much time for reading. arg, I hate to say that. I do fit a few minutes in when I am driving, have my first book on CD. Its a 7 hour, Uun-abridged story. I have to admit that I am rather enjoying this format, now I need a longer drive such that I can listen to more chapters in one sitting.

Will report on it when finished.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Title for your Auto-Biography

If you were to write your auto-biography, how would you title it?

This random thought cross my mind this morning, and its kinda sticking with me and I have to answer it.

So, I have to think about myself. I like to travel, even if I don't do it often. Love to read about other people and places. Studied environmental studied, geography and mapping at the University of Waterloo. When I'm reading I keep and atlas at hand so I can find where the characters are located. I am a crafty person, like to take bits of stuff and put them together. Taking this all into consideration I've come up with the following title.

"Making My Own Map".

Let me know how you would title your auto-biography and why.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

I had no intention of reading this book. I honestly thought that it was about Tractors that had been built in the Ukraine. Not a far fetched thought as my father collects scale model vehicles and has given my son a few that had been manufactured in the USSR.
I was at a Bookcrossing meeting when this book landed on the table and I was set straight of my misconception. So I brought it home.
The first 10 pages left me a bit confused, possible due to the use of various nicknames for Nadezhda/Nadia and other family members. A few more pages and I got the hang of it.
Nikolai reminded me a bit of my Ukrainian grandfather. He would also have been chasing after Valentina with the exception that my grandmother would have smacked him on the back of the head and told him to behave.
I enjoyed the interactions between Vera and Nadia. Yes, they were upset with each other regarding the inheritance from their mother, but when their father needed them, they put that dispute aside and pulled together to help him.
The quick camaraderie between Nikolai and Dubov (Valentina's ex husband) was a balm to the ill feelings created by Valentina. Even though he was a rival for her affections, Nikolai had to like him. Dubov was many things that he respected. I am sure the two of them could have been the best of friends in different circumstances. There I go, turning them into real people, I can't help it, I was so caught up in their interaction.
Even though the thought of reading an historical perspective on tractors did not appeal to me initially, when I saw that one of those italicized passages about the tractors was approaching, I read quicker so I could get to it sooner. I found them very interesting and was wishing that were more.
In reading an online biography of Marina Lewycka I came across a most interesting quote, "When A Brief History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) was first published, it was allegedly mis-shelved by many booksellers in their agriculture or engineering sections."

Additional Reviews of this Book:

My Novel Reviews

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

2nd Canadian Book Challenge

I have recently signed up for the 2ND Canadian Book Challenge, which is to read 13 books by Canadian authors before the next Canada Day (July 1, 2009). Its open to all readers regardless of Nationality or Country of residence.
I found out about it on Kathleen Molloy's website and followed the links till I ended up at John Mutford's The Book Mine Set.
While I have read books by several Canadians this year, they won't count against my 13. That's not a problem, there are so many wonderful Canadian authors that I shouldn't have any difficulty finding more to read.
My first book(s) will be by author and playwright Tomson Highway (as suggested by Kathleen in her blog entry earlier this week). At first I was going to read books by authors that are new to me, now I think I'll refine it to First Nations Authors. I will really enjoy this challenge.
I'll try and remember to put the challenge logo in each entry and post my running total. So right now I stand at 0/13. If you have joined in this challenge let me know which books you are reading.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

A quilted Running Shoe

Terrific progress was made on the quilt this weekend. I now have 4 of the 5 rows of blocks completed. For the fifth row, I need to draft the block and then I can work on the paper piecing.

The paper pieced running shoe was designed by Linda Worland at the Paper Panache website. If you haven't visited Linda's site, you really need to take a look. It's amazing the blocks she has designed.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Candy Box

This Candy box block was a little more fun to piece. It was still quite straightforward, nothing tricky, but a few spots you will want to match and pin.
Pattern is by Ula Lenz. I did change it a bit so that it is leaning sideways. You'll understand why when I post the picture of the finished quilt. I also enlarged this paper pieced pattern by about 25%.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Origami Crane Block

I have been finding some time most days to work on this newest quilt. Not as much as I want, but the project is proceeding.
I decided to make this crane with some Japanese themed fabric. Quite fitting I felt. The pattern is paper pieced and is from the Kitten's Mitten site.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

One More Sunday by John D. MacDonald

A murder mystery by a prolific author. Before his death in 1986 he penned almost 500 short stories and 78 novels.

This story peaked in to look at the inner workings of a "Religion based" empire. Seems that life is not always as 'pure' as it appears in the carefully crafted church services that are broadcast on TV.

I loved the writing in this book, particularly the chapters involving the Reverend Tom Daniel Birdy. He managed to cut through all the garbage and get to the real issues. I could picture him with his plain speaking telling Reverend Mary Margaret some truths that she desperately needed to acknowledge.

I will admit that for me this wasn't an edge of the seat read, but I did find myself admiring the masterful writing style of Mr. MacDonald. I would definitely read more of his works.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Neon Lotus by Marc Laidlaw

Lately I find that every time I read a book, I have to do a Google search on the author. I'm glad I do, as I have been finding interesting stories. Always, the author is far more that 'only' a writer.
In this case, Marc Laidlaw is also renown for his work on the computer games of the Half-Life series from Valve Software. You can read further about him on Wikipedia, or you can visit his blog.
I enjoyed this book which is mainly set in Tibet. It gives just enough information about the struggle for Tibet's freedom from the Chinese that I need to find out more.
Some books are just mind candy, they occupy my time and give me immediate pleasure. They don't stay with me for days and weeks afterward. Then there are the books that feed my imagination and keep my pondering on them for various periods of time. This is the later type of book. I admit that I don't know much about Tibet and its people and beliefs. I do know that I look forward to the challenge of finding some books that will fill in the gaps.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A New Quilt Project

I really wasn't planning to start something new until I finished a long standing project. But life happens and things get shoved around. So here I am putting my books aside and digging into something new. I can't release all the details, but I can say it is turning out to be lots of fun and its stretching my imagination and skills to try and pull it all together.

This Teacup block is from Quilters Newsletter Magazine Online Extras . I did fussy cut the main fabric piece of the cup so that the crane is centred.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Offspring: A Novel of the Silent Empire by Steven Harper

Today my entry is not so much about the book I read, but rather about the timing. I find it an amusing story, whether you do???
As you may be aware, a week ago a federal election was called in Canada. By chance that is the day I started to read this book. The author of the novel is Steven Harper, and our current Prime Minister is named Stephen Harper. Now the part that amuses me. The day I finished reading the first book in this series was the day that Stephen Harper was first elected.
There is no connection between the two men that I am aware of. In fact, Steven Harper is really Steven Piziks.
I did enjoy this book and found my self looking forward to "whats going to happen to Kendi and his partner next". I was fairly easy to suspend any disbelief that people could communicate telepathically over great distances.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Making Cards

I tried something different on Saturday. I was going to a birthday party and needed a card. OK, time to use those supplies I had been collecting, or buying for my daughter.
I few weeks back I bought a magazine "Card Maker" the September 2008 issue. On page 12 is a lovely card with the word 'Celebrate' across the bottom. Since I don't like to copy, I made my own version.
My friend loved it.
I will have to search out some books on card making and see what I can create from them.

Monday, 8 September 2008

No Highway by Nevil Shute

How is it that a book published 60 years ago can still be timely?
The issue of aircraft safety comes to light with every flight incident that hits the news headlines. In this novel, Mr. Shute considers the potential of metal fatigue due to various flight stresses. When Mr. Honey's research first comes to the attention of Mr. Scott, his manager, it is met with scepticism. While further explanation brings Mr. Scott round to his way of understanding, he experiences this disbelief with each person to whom he presents his thesis.
History has shown that this is often the case with new ideas/research.
One of my favourite passages in the novel is when the actress Monica Teasdale is reflecting upon her life. In retrospect, she very clearly realizes who the most important people have been. It's not her "movie" people as you might expect. I can only hope that I view my life and relationships with such clarity.
I feel that this novel should still have a broad audience including historians, those with and interest in aeronautics and sociology.
I have read several books by Mr. Shute and each has been as gripping as the previous. If you are interested in learning more about this author, please visit the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

From the surface, Odd Thomas is a young man you'd expect to find in any town. Almost immediately we find out that he is frequently visited by ghosts and that he can see unearthly creatures he calls bodachs.
Its very easy to like the character of Odd. He's just an everyday guy, he goes to work, visits with friends and neighbours and loves his girlfriend Stormy. Just about what the rest of us do.
The story-telling style of this book makes for easy reading, though it is hard to put down. Even though I knew that something 'really bad' was going to happen, Mr. Koontz managed to keep it a mystery and it seemed that he 'sprung' it on me all of a sudden.
The character of Odd appears in 3 further novels as well as a graphic novel. There is even a web-site visit that is solely devoted to Odd.
I do hope that in one of the future novels we get to 'meet' Odd's Aunt Cymry (his mother's sister). There is a mystery to her that we are clearly introduced to, but it is not explored.
Read my review of the other books in the series:

Friday, 5 September 2008

Point Blank by Catherine Coulter

This story sucked me in from the first pages. I could have read it through without a break if it weren't for other everyday obligations (such as family and food).
I enjoyed meeting FBI Agent Ruth Warnecki as she explored Winkel's Cave. You could forsee right from her rescue by Sheriff Dix Noble that a relationship would develop between them.
We are also introduced to FBI Agents Savich and Sherlock, who are investigating their own twisted mystery.
I enjoyed the interaction between the four law enforcement officers. Lucky for me the three FBI agents have been featured in previous novels, which I will be on the look out for. You can check Catherine's website for a complete listing of her books.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A Virtual Soul by Kevin Teixeira

This futuristic novel is a first for Kevin Teixeira. The main character is Josh Numes, an em-printer (he gives personalities and memories to test tube people) finds himself caught in a web of corporate espionage involving mass murder.
I found this a compelling read. Through-out the day, each time I walked past the book I had to pick ti up and read at least a few pages. I needed to know whether Josh would get his life back or would the corporation win.
Angelica developed into an interesting character of hidden straights. I was sorry to see the story end when it did.
I did expect to see a follow-up book by Mr, Teixeira, but nothing yet at my local bookseller.
Thanks to my bookcrossing friend who passed it along.
Turned out to be a good summer read.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A book unread

Do you ever come across a book that you are unable to read?

I started a new book on Wednesday and after a bit it didn't seem right to me. I figured that I hadn't read enough so I kept going. After another chapter or so it still didn't sit well with me. It was as though I was paddling upstream and the current wasn't going to relent.

I put the book aside. I had found it at a meeting of local Bookcrossers. I had heard good things about it, so wanted to read it. I'll be taking it back to our next meeting and am sure that it will find a more receptive reader.

This doesn't happen all that often, I enjoy lots of genres of writing and many authors. There have been a few that just don't work for me. With one author, it's too much realism, and another its something about his writing style. I am sure they are both very good writers, but they just don't work for me. So, I pass their books along and find something else to read.

Thankfully there are thousands of authors available and even more books.

I am always appreciative of the authors who have visited my blog and left comments. I love to read their blogs and see what they are up to. In the next few days I plan to update my blog to add a list of authors and links to their blogs/web pages.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs

As far as I can tell, this is my first book by this author, though it won't be my last.

I enjoyed meeting the main character, forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan. She is a very likable person that I could relate to.

Tempe is called in to investigate an airline disaster. All is going well until she finds a foot that doesn't appear to have come from any of the persons on the plane. The story takes off from there. I found it hard to put the book down. Could have easy read it in one sitting (420 pages) if it weren't for family obligations and food calls.

It will be interesting to see what happens with regard to Pete (husband in Charlotte that she is separated from) and Ryan (occasional partner in Quebec) in the next novel in this series.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A Quilt for a Dentist

I have been viewing this quilt at my dentist's office for the past 5 years. I have looked at it during each visit and wondered about it. I never could figure out the abstractness of it.

Last week I was there with my son and I realized that there was a dark blue toothbrush. Now how had I missed that?

Next came the light bulb moment, its not an abstract but teeth!!! Oh my gosh, how did I miss this. I never made the connection.

A closer inspection shows filling on some teeth and orthodontic brackets on others.

This lovely quilt was made by Joy, the receptionist in the office. She adapted it from a pattern in a magazine.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Daylight Runner by Oisin McGann

Sol Wheat lives in the futuristic city of Ash Harbor. Possibly one of the last remaining human populations after a world wide ice age has made outdoor survival impossible.
To help him deal with the challenges of being a teenager, Sol has taken to running, and with the encouragement of his father, boxing. When his father disappears, Sol takes it upon himself to find him and to determine whether it has anything to do with the mysterious "accidents" that are plaguing Ash Harbor.
Sol is now forced to grow up quickly and at the same time, to decide what type of man he wants to become. He realizes that he could very easily become a violent, lawless type that his father would never have respected.
While this story occurs in a setting its readers will probably never experience, they may have to face similar moral issues. It's not always easy to decide which is the correct course of action. In Sol's case he is lucky to have a teacher he trusts, Ana Kiroa, and a friend, Cleo to help guide him, and the unlikely mentor, Maslow, to keep him alive long enough so that Sol can find his answers.
Once you get past Sol's tough guy image, you realize that he's a good person and you'll find yourself cheering for him.
I would recommend this book for every teacher's bookshelf. There is a student like Sol in each classroom needing to connect with a caring adult.
I will be passing this book along to a new friend that I met at the Endurrun. He's a runner of course, but also a boxer.
Thanks to Amazon for the cover photo.

Endurrun 2008, a Volunteer's Perspective Stage 7 Marathon

Today was the biggie. 42.2 km. eeks. Not something I have really considered. Yet. My daughter helped me with the pictures today. Of the many tattoos she saw this week, the one shown here is her favourite. Its an indication of how seriously the runners take this race, and more importantly how significant their accomplishment is.

The second picture is Lloyd. I understand that he was watching the Tour de France on TV one year and a lightning bolt struck and he said to the effect that we needed an equivalent event for runners. Way to go Lloyd.

Ian is shown in the third picture. He was the very first runner to sign up for the race in it's first year. He has returned as a volunteer every year since. This year he participated in a relay team as a walker in 3 of the stages.

All the timing was done manually, no timing chips. It takes continuing vigilance to time all the laps and keep alert to each approaching/finishing runner. My hats off to these ladies.

Brad had intended to run this year. He has competed previously but was side lined by an injury. Yet he flew across the country to join us. He is the one that has provided the wonderful video coverage on the race website. I know I have enjoyed watching and re-watching the footage.

There are many more volunteers that are not pictured here. Sorry I didn't manage to catch all of them. They all gave their time freely and many of them do it year after year and plan to return.

So why do I do it? Mainly, its fun. Sure its a lot of work, and the hours are long and the weather doesn't always co-operate... I think, for me, it comes down to the mothering instinct, handing a cup of Gatorade to a labouring runner, calling their name and a few words of encouragement, giving them a hug, sweat and all. They tell us about themselves and their families and why they are running. We talk about running and they encourage me more than they can imagine. It all adds up to a special experience, and then they top it all when they come up to me out of the blue and say a heart felt thank-you, it makes it all worth while. All of that is why they quickly become my runners and why I'll be back next year.