LibraryCin's Travel Across Canada

SnakCanadian Fiction/Non-Fiction Reading Challenge

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LibraryCin's Travel Across Canada

dec 31, 2013, 6:00 pm

Hi, everyone! I'm fairly new here. I joined LT in March, I think, but have only recently become involved in a few groups.

Shelfari is still my primary book site and with an invite to read all the US states over there (which I declined, thinking across the provinces would be more appealing to me!), I found this group here instead.

So, I'm not sure how successful I'll be or how long it will take me. It looks like no one has placed a time limit on it here, so we'll see what happens!

Oh, my name is actually Cindy and I am in Calgary.

Redigeret: jun 25, 2023, 4:28 pm

1. Falling Backwards / Jann Arden. 3.5 stars
2. 419 / Will Ferguson. 3 stars
3. The Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul / Marty Chan. 4 stars
4. Green Grass, Running Water / Thomas King. 3 stars
5. The Outlander / Gil Adamson. 3.75 stars
6. The Bone Cage / Angie Abdou. 4 stars
7. Plainsong / Nancy Huston. 3 stars
8. North of Normal / Cea Sunrise Person. 4 stars
9. The Figgs / Ali Bryan. 3.5 stars
10. Forgiveness / Mark Sakamoto. 4 stars
11. Alone Together / Leah Hennel. 5 stars
12. The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat. 4 stars
13. Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees. 2 stars
14. The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edugyan. 3 stars
15. Correction Road / Glen Dresser. 3 stars

Redigeret: jun 17, 11:00 pm

British Columbia
1. Madness, Betrayal and the Lash / Stephen R. Bown. 3.5 stars
2. The Silk Train Murder / Sharon Rowse. 3.5 stars
3. Still Missing / Chevy Stevens. 5 stars
4. Birdie / Tracey Lindberg. 2 stars
5. The Dark and Other Love Stories / Deborah Willis. 3.5 stars
6. Victoria's Castles / Paul G. Chamberlain. 3.5 stars
7. Those Girls / Chevy Stevens. 4.5 stars
8. Never Let You Go / Chevy Stevens. 4.5 stars
9. The Forgotten Explorer / Samuel Fay. 3 stars
10. Michelle Remembers / Michelle Smith, Lawrence Pazder. 3 stars
11. Hands Like Clouds / Mark Zuehlke. 3 stars
12. The Brideship Wife / Leslie Howard. 4 stars
13. The Secret Lives of Saints / Daphne Bramham. 4 stars
14. The Boat People / Sharon Bala. 4 stars
15. The Devil's Making / Sean Haldane. 3 stars
16. Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast / Bill Richardson. 3 stars
17. Wild Awake / Hilary T. Smith. 3 stars
18. Offshore / Catherine Dook. 3.5 stars
19. The Last Wild Wolves / Ian McAllister. 4.5 stars
20. Five Little Indians / Michelle Good. 3.5 stars
21. Last Winter / Carrie Mac. 3.5 stars
22. Tell it to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami. 4.25 stars
23. Greenwood / Michael Christie. 4 stars
24. Dark Roads / Chevy Stevens. 4 stars

Redigeret: aug 14, 2021, 6:19 pm

1. Annabel / Kathleen Winter. 4 stars
(Most of it is in Labrador, though the main character moves to Newfoundland closer to the end of the book.)

Redigeret: feb 22, 2023, 10:45 pm

1. The Winter Years: The Depression on the Prairies / James H. Gray. 3.5 stars
(Set in the Prairies, but a lot of it is in Winnipeg.)
2. The Age of Hope / David Bergen. 4 stars
3. Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
4. The Accidental Veterinarian / Philipp Schott. 4 stars
5. Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography / Chester Brown. 3.5 stars
6. Kiss of the Fur Queen / Tomson Highway. 3 stars
7. The Barren Grounds / David A. Robertson. 2.25 stars

dec 31, 2013, 6:05 pm

New Brunswick

Redigeret: apr 15, 2023, 4:01 pm

1. Sylvanus Now / Donna Morrissey. 3.5 stars
2. The Custodian of Paradise / Wayne Johnston. 3 stars
3. February / Lisa Moore. 2.5 stars
4. Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster / Maura Hanrahan. 4 stars
5. A World Elsewhere / Wayne Johnston. 3 stars
6. Where I Belong / Alan Doyle. 5 stars
7. The Day the World Came to Town / Jim DeFede. 4.25 stars
8. First Snow, Last Light / Wayne Johnston. 3 stars
9. The Innocents / Michael Crummey. 2 stars
10. All Together Now / Alan Doyle. 4.25 stars
11. The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston. 3 stars

Redigeret: aug 14, 2021, 6:19 pm

Northwest Territories
1. The River / Gary Paulsen. 4 stars
2. Brian's Winter / Gary Paulsen. 3.5 stars
3. Late Nights on Air / Elizabeth Hay. 2 stars

Redigeret: mar 10, 2022, 10:30 pm

Nova Scotia
1. The Underwater Welder / Jeff Lemire. 3.5 stars
2. Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
3. Missing / Frances Itani. 4 stars
4. The Great Halifax Explosion / John U. Bacon. 4 stars
5. Barometer Rising / Hugh MacLennan. 3.25 stars
6. The Most Precious Substance on Earth / Shashi Bhat. 3.5 stars
7. The Clay Girl / Heather Tucker. 2.5 stars

Redigeret: dec 9, 2021, 4:38 pm

1. People of the Deer / Farley Mowat. 3 stars
2. The Three Snow Bears / Jan Brett. 3.5 stars
3. The Terror / Dan Simmons. 3.25 stars
4. Frozen in Time / Owen Beattie, John Geiger. 4 stars

Redigeret: nov 22, 2023, 10:46 pm

1. Unless / Carol Sheilds
2. The Best Laid Plans / Terry Fallis
3. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life / Bryan Lee O'Malley
4. Natasha and Other Stories / David Bezmozgis
5. The Day the Falls Stood Still / Cathy Marie Buchanan
6. Essex County / Jeff Lemire
7. Innocent / Eric Walters
8. Tell / Frances Itani
9. You Are Never Alone: Our Life on the Donnelly Homestead / J. Robert Salts. 3.5 stars
10. Lives of Girls and Women / Alice Munro. 3 stars
11. The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery. 4 stars
12. Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
13. The Forgotten Home Child / Genevieve Graham. 4 stars
14. The Quintland Sisters / Shelley Wood. 3.75 stars
15. From the Ashes / Jesse Thistle. 4 stars
16. The Marrow Thieves / Cherie Dimaline. 3.5 stars
17. We Have Always Been Here / Samra Habib. 3.5 stars
18. The Donnelly Album / Ray Fazakas. 3.5 stars
19. Crow Lake / Mary Lawson. 4 stars
20. They Said This Would be Fun / Eternity Martis. 3 stars
21. Remembering the Bones / Frances Itani. 3.5 stars
22. The Castleton Massacre / Sharon Cook, Margaret Carson. 4.5 stars
23. The War in the Country / Thomas F. Pawlick. 4 stars
24. The Wife's Tale / Lori Lansens. 3.5 stars
25. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets / Sarah Miller. 4.25 stars
26. Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya Talaga. 4.5 stars
27. Up Ghost River / Edmund Metatawabin. 4 stars

Redigeret: maj 14, 2022, 10:13 pm

Prince Edward Island
1. Chinese Islanders / Hung-Min Chiang. 3.5 stars
2. Jane of Lantern Hill / L.M. Montgomery. 3.5 stars
3. Anne of Green Gables / L. M. Montgomery. 4 stars

Redigeret: jun 11, 10:17 pm

1. Deja Dead / Kathy Reichs. 4 stars
2. Death du Jour / Kathy Reichs. 4 stars
3. Bride of New France / Suzanne Desrochers. 3.5 stars
4. Bone and Bread / Saleema Nawaz. 3.5 stars
5. The Unquiet Past / Kelley Armstrong. 4 stars
6. The Lonely Hearts Hotel / Heather O'Neill. 2.5 stars
7. Lone Wolf / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars

Redigeret: okt 24, 2023, 10:45 pm

1. Good to a Fault / Marina Endicott. 3.5 stars
2. Mennonites Don't Dance / Darcie Friesen Hossack. 3.5 stars
3. The Little Shadows / Marina Endicott. 3.5 stars
4. More Prairie Doctor / Lewis Draper. 3.5 stars
5. You Might Be From Saskatchewan If... Volume 2 / Carson Demmans, Jason Sylvestre. 2.5 stars
6. Cool Water / Dianne Warren. 4 stars
7. Small Beneath the Sky / Lorna Crozier. 3.5 stars
8. The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre / Sarah Kathryn York. 4 stars
9. Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell. 3 stars
10. Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars
11. A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage. 4 stars
12. Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars
13. The Horseman's Graves / Jacqueline Baker. 2.5 stars
14. Canada / Richard Ford. 3 stars
15. Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan 4 / Jo-Anne Christensen. 4 stars
16. Fountaineville / C.A. Simonsen. 3 stars
17. Halfbreed / Maria Campbell. 3 stars
18. Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay. 3.5 stars
19. The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen. 3.25 stars
20. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat. 3.5 stars
21. A Book in Every Hand / Don Kerr. 3.5 stars

Redigeret: aug 14, 2021, 6:19 pm

1. At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham. 3.75 stars

dec 31, 2013, 11:54 pm

Welcome, Cindy! Enjoy your travels across Canada in books.

dec 31, 2013, 11:56 pm

You may find this Wiki helpful: It has a link at the top to a non-fiction wiki too.

jan 1, 2014, 10:49 pm

>17 thornton37814:. Thank you for the link. I'll take a look on the weekend!

Redigeret: jan 6, 2014, 4:04 pm

HI Cindy, Welcome to L.T. I've been a member for a couple of years and think it's a wonderful place. A couple of years ago my book club did a coast to coast with each member choosing a different province/territory and recommending a book. It was a wonderful year of reading. I'd be happy to give you some titles if you would like. Happy reading!

Redigeret: jan 6, 2014, 11:08 pm

Thank you, mdoris!

My tbr is about 500+ books right now, so I'm sure I can find stuff to fit (or come close to it!). Thanks for the offer, though. :-)

I suspect I won't be doing it all this year (but that would be the real challenge!), but I'll see how far I get. I may (at least to start), just go with ones I plan to read, anyway.

This month, I'm reading Away by Jane Urquhart, so that will likely be my first one. I don't remember which province it's set in, but I'll find out soon enough! I hope to read Jann Arden's biography, as well, soon (can't recall the title at the moment), so that will cover Alberta. I'm sure there will be plenty of other Canadian reading I do this year, as well. I guess I just need to it be set somewhere in the country! Of course, as I tick off provinces, it probably gets trickier later, as I need to fill in the others...

Oh, yeah. Also hoping to read some Marina Endicott, so if I go with Good to a Fault, I believe that's Saskatchewan. Not sure exactly where The Little Shadows is set, but that's another one by her that I have.

Redigeret: mar 11, 2014, 12:46 am


Falling Backwards: A Memoir / Jann Arden
3.5 stars

Jann Arden is a Canadian singer/songwriter. This is her autobiography, from her childhood up to when she got her first record deal just before she turned 30.

I really enjoyed this. Jann had a fairly normal family and childhood, but it was still interesting to read about her growing up. I live in the city she grew up in (and still lives in), so I recognize many of the places. That's always fun. I was a little surprised that it wasn't funnier than it was, though. To hear her talk, she is absolutely hilarious! There were funny parts in the book, but I had expected more humour than there was. That being said, I still really enjoyed it.

Redigeret: mar 11, 2014, 12:45 am


419 / Will Ferguson
3 stars

When Laura and Warren's father drives himself off a cliff, it looks suspicious. The police quickly learn that Henry was being scammed by one of those Nigerian email scams.

In the first half of the book, I was ready to give this 3.5 stars (good), but when an additional character was introduced about halfway through and so much focused on him, I brought it down to 3 stars (ok). The parts that focused on Henry's family and on Winston, the guy in Nigeria behind the scam, I liked enough to rate good. However, there were two other characters that a lot of the book focused on (especially in the second half). I didn't find them nearly as interesting or entertaining to read about. I did learn more about those scams which was kind of interesting. Overall, I'm going to rate this one 3 stars, o.k.

feb 4, 2014, 11:27 pm


Deja Dead / Kathy Reichs
4 stars

This is the first book in the Temperance Brennan series. Tempe is a forensic anthropologist working in Quebec. When she is called in to examine some bones, she seems to think there is a serial killer out there, but the police don't agree. She tries to find links so she can convince them she is on the right track. In the meantime, she has an anthropologist friend working with prostitutes who she is quite worried about.

I really liked this! I was a little surprised at how short it was, but it was still really good. There are so many books in the series, but I will keep going. I actually quite enjoyed the narrator of the audio, as well.

Redigeret: mar 11, 2014, 1:05 am

Prince Edward Island:

Chinese Islanders: Making a Home in the New World / Hung-Min Chiang
3.5 stars

This is a history of Chinese immigrants to Prince Edward Island. There isn't a lot of information out there and there weren't very many immigrants, so the author not only looks at the history, including laws and politics in all of Canada and how that impacted the Chinese immigrants, but he is also able to look more closely at a few specific people and families.

I found this interesting. The entire history is interesting (from increasing head taxes to exclusion laws), as are the lives of the immigrants, most of whom – at least in the early days and up to much more recently – ran laundries and restaurants.

mar 11, 2014, 1:05 am


The Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul / Marty Chan
4 stars

Marty is a 10-year old Chinese boy in a small town in Alberta. In fact, he is the only Chinese boy in town. Because of this (and it doesn't help that his mother picks out his clothes!), he gets picked on. He does have one friend, a French boy, Remi (but because Remi is in the French class and Marty in the English class, no one can know they are friends). When Remi and Marty discover some graffiti on the school shed, they are initially accused of spraying it themselves! They decide they must find out who did it...

This is a kids' book and I really enjoyed it. There is a lot of humour going on in the book, and Marty Chan does such a good job getting inside kids' heads, I think. It seemed like it, anyway. Obviously, being a kids' book, it was fairly simple, but it was just a really fun book!

mar 11, 2014, 6:22 pm

PEI isn't a place I associate with Chinese. Of course, if I hadn't grown up in Mississippi and known about the Chinese in the Delta there, I wouldn't have thought Mississippi a likely place for them either. Of course, they are a tiny fraction of the population in Mississippi, as I suspect they are in PEI as well.

mar 11, 2014, 9:09 pm

Yes, there really are very few Chinese there. The author came to PEI in the 60s for school and stayed. He did talk a little at the start of the book about how difficult it was to find information to research the book, as well.

mar 19, 2014, 9:44 pm


Sylvanus Now / Donna Morrissey
3.5 stars

It is the 1950s in Newfoundland. Adelaide has grown up taking care of all her younger siblings, but hates hearing them scream and longs for time to herself. Sylvanus becomes a fisherman, but as technology and times change, he clings to the old ways. It is the beginning of the decline of the fisheries.

It started off quite slow and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. About a third of the way in, I suddenly found it much more interesting. I can't say the pace picked up or anything, but I found myself interested in Addie and Sylvanus and what was happening. The perspective does alternate back and forth between Addie and Sylvanus, but whose perspective it is is marked at the beginning of each part. Overall, I liked it.

maj 4, 2014, 8:20 pm


Unless / Carol Sheilds
3.25 stars

Reta is an author and translator. She is married and has three teenage daughters. Norah, the oldest at 19, has just gone to university, but for some unknown reason has dropped out and stands on a corner in Toronto, begging with a sign around her neck that reads “Goodness”. The story is told from Reta's point of view and looks at how she is handling what her daughter is doing and how she is holding everything together. The story does jump a bit to some backstory, as well.

It started ok, but my mind did wander at first. It seemed to turn around in the last third of the book or so, when I seemed to find it more interesting. There was also some focus on Reta's current book, which I found mildly interesting.

maj 26, 2014, 12:03 am


Good to a Fault / Marina Endicott
3.5 stars

When Clara's car crashes into a family, there are only minor injuries, but once at the hospital, the mother, Lorraine, is found to have cancer. The family was living out of their car as they were moving from Winnipeg to Fort McMurray, Alberta so the father, Clayton, can find work. With Lorraine now in the hospital in Saskatoon, they have no place to stay. Clara feels so badly that she takes in the entire family (Clayton, 3 kids (Dolly, Trevor and baby Pearce), and Clayton's mother). Clara also visits Lorraine at the hospital, as Clayton disappears shortly thereafter.

I quite liked this. I kept waffling between 3.5 stars (good) and 4 stars, but went with the lower of the two as it didn't quite hit 4 stars overall for me. It's an unusual situation, but I was certainly wondering what would happen in the end... would Lorraine get better? If she does - or doesn't - what happens later, as Clara grows more and more fond of the children? And what about Clayton? I'm glad I finally read the book and I already have another book by the same author I'm planning to read (though it's historical fiction rather than contemporary).

Redigeret: jun 13, 2014, 10:13 pm


Death du Jour / Kathy Rechs
4 stars

Forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is in Quebec for a short time to help out some nuns. They are digging up the bones of a nun from 100 years earlier, as they want to make her a saint. While there, there is a fire that claims the lives of a number of people, so Tempe is called to help with that investigation. And there is more going on back home in North Carolina that she is called in to help with.

This is the second book in the series; I had accidentally ended up listening to an abridged version of the first book, so this one was nice to have more personal stuff happening, in addition to the cases she was working. I did figure out some of what might be happening before Tempe clued in, but I still really liked this one.

jul 5, 2014, 8:11 pm

Labrador (most of it is set in Labrador):

Annabel / Kathleen Winter
4 stars

Wayne was born a hermaphrodite, with both boys' and girls' parts. He and his family live in a small town in Labrador, Canada. The only people who know about Wayne are his parents and a family friend, Thomasina. Wayne's parents choose to raise him as a boy, and he has to take medication. Wayne is an adolescent when he finds out, but can feel the girl inside him, a girl he calls Annabel.

I quite liked this. It doesn't move quickly (though it covers a long time period, as Wayne grows up and moves to St. John's, Newfoundland, after high school). I think it's done really well, as Wayne struggles to figure out exactly who he is.

aug 19, 2014, 11:14 pm


The Best Laid Plans / Terry Fallis
3.75 stars

Daniel has left his job working for the Liberal Leader in the House of Commons, but has promised to find someone to run in the next election for the Liberal Party in the Cumberland-Prescott riding, where the PC candidate has served for years and is loved by all. The PCs have this riding locked up. So, after a lot of searching, Daniel convinces Angus McLintock, an engineering professor, who has absolutely no desire to be a politician, to simply put his name on the ballot for the Liberals. However, things don't quite go as planned...

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I'm not a big fan of politics, or especially reading about it, but this is funny and entertaining. I couldn't quite give it a full 4 stars because in the first half of the book, there was an occasional slow patch, but the second half really picked up. Angus is a great character and I loved the "antipolitician" that he was. Not caring what people thought of him, he said and did what he thought was right. There were some great secondary characters in this book, as well.

Reread, just over 2 years later:
4 stars

This was a reread for my f2f book club. I love Angus! He's an honest politician who doesn't even want to be there. I thought the book picked up in the second halff but there is a lot of humour spread throughout the book. This is one that I suspect might be better appreciated by those who have some kind of knowledge of Canadian politics, but I wonder if there might be enough humour (and novelty – an honest politician!!) to keep others interested, as well.

sep 6, 2014, 6:23 pm

Manitoba (though really all across the Prairies, but a good portion is in Winnipeg):

The Winter Years: The Depression on the Prairies / James H. Gray
3.5 stars

This book looks at the “Dirty Thirties” (the depression in the 1930s) in the Prairie Provinces in Canada. More specifically, the author was living in Winnipeg at the time with a young family. Many chapters are a memoir, but there are also other chapters that look at the broader picture of what was going on.

I will admit that I was a little disappointed, initially. I wanted a Canadian perspective, but I had hoped for more about the drought and the farmers. There was some of that, and that was probably the parts I found most interesting, though some of the rest of it was more interesting than I expected. And there were parts that I wasn't as interested in. Overall, though, I'll rate it good.

sep 6, 2014, 11:42 pm


Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life / Bryan Lee O'Malley
3 stars

Scott Pilgrim is 23 years old and is not working, but does play in a rock band. He is living with a gay friend and is dating a high school girl when he meets Ramona, a delivery girl for who has just moved to Toronto.

It was o.k. I liked the start of it and enjoyed most of it, but it had a very odd ending, I thought. I liked the simple black and white illustrations (it's a graphic novel). But because of the ending, I downgraded my rating to o.k. and don't plan to continue the series.

sep 27, 2014, 12:23 am

Saskatchewan (really set throughout the Prairie Provinces, but a good portion was in Sask.):

Mennonites Don't Dance / Darcie Friesen Hossack
3.5 stars

This is a book of short stories, all of which are set on the Canadian Prairies, mostly on farms run by Mennonite families.

I enjoyed this more than most short story collections. The first couple weren't as interesting to me, but they got better, I thought. I loved that one later story brought me up to date on the characters from one of the earlier stories. My dad's family is Mennonite, so of the Mennonite references, I mostly just caught the food, but that was kind of fun for me, too. I also recognized some of the little German/Mennonite towns in Saskatchewan, as it was where Dad grew up.

okt 16, 2014, 12:12 am


Natasha and Other Stories / David Bezmozgis
3.5 stars

This is a book of short stories focusing on Russian Jews who have immigrated to Toronto, Ontario.

I liked that these stories followed the same people, or the same general group of people, and the same characters tended to pop up in different stories. I'm not always a fan of short stories because I find they end before I'm finished reading about the characters. So, it was nice to have them continue.

nov 21, 2014, 11:19 pm


Green Grass, Running Water / Thomas King
3 stars

This was a reread for my f2f book club. Originally read: 10ish years ago.

I'm not sure there was much of a “plot” to this one. Alberta is dating two men, Lionel and Charlie. She wants a baby but doesn't want to get married. There are four escaped Indians from a hospital and people are looking for them. Eli has come home to the reserve from Ontario; his mother died and if he's not there, her house will be torn down to build a dam, so he feels he must fight that. In the meantime, we have commentary by Coyote and other “characters”.

It was ok. I liked the “real people” storylines, but the Coyote stuff and some of the other “peripheral” stuff, I really wasn't interested in. I guess that was the magical realism in the story that I'm generally not a fan of, anyway (and wasn't, once again). Overall, then: simply ok.

feb 15, 2015, 10:05 pm


The Outlander / Gil Adamson
3.75 stars

It's 1903 and “the widow” is running from something or someone. She makes her way to the foothills of the Canadian Rockies where she tries to hide from whatever/whoever is pursuing her.

I could probably say a bit more to summarize, as the back of the book has slightly more info, but I'll leave it at that. This was pretty good. I did find the sections of the book when she was with someone to be more interesting than when she was on her own (at those times, there seemed to mostly be description). There was one question I had that was never answered. I also would have liked an author's note with more info on the Frank Slide. I know about it, but not details, so I “had” to look it up after I finished.

mar 28, 2015, 2:09 am


The Day the Falls Stood Still / Cathy Marie Buchanan
4 stars

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the early 1900s, 17-year old Bess comes home from her private school to find her life is about to change. Her father has lost his job, her sister appears to be sick, and she meets Tom, who helps her with her trunk at the train station. Unfortunately, Bess's parents see Tom as “below” Bess and unsuitable. It's a time when WWI is going on and, locally, hydroelectric plants are being built along the Niagara River/Falls and water is being diverted for that.

I really liked this. The setting was interesting and it was a big part of the book, but I do still wonder how much, if any, opposition there was to the hydroelectric plants. Were there really worries at the time about how it would affect the river and falls? (Tom was worried about this in the book.) Though the author note at the end didn't really address this, I did discover that Tom's character (as the “riverman”, who fishes people out of the river/falls) was based on a real person. I listened to the audio, and I must admit that the narrator did distract me a bit at first with quite audible inhalations. However, I got used to that after a short time, then mostly didn't notice. The audio still kept my attention throughout most of the book.

Redigeret: maj 10, 2015, 12:02 am


Essex County / Jeff Lemire
4.5 stars

Lester is living on a farm with his Uncle Ken. Lou and his brother Vince played hockey when they were younger. Now, Lou is deaf and elderly and can't take care of himself on the farm, anymore; he is thinking back on all the memories. Anne is a nurse in Essex County. They each have their own stories in this graphic novel collection set in Essex County in Southern Ontario.

I really enjoyed this. It was quick to read, despite it's length, and, I thought, very Canadian. I hope it will appeal to non-Canadians, as well, though. The rural farming community was familiar to me; though I didn't grow up on a farm, I lived in a small town - a farming community. The stories all come together as you read through them. There were a couple of short stories added at the end that were originally going to be part of the main stories - I didn't find them quite as interesting. There were also bonus materials including early drawings, and promotional material that was interesting to see.

jul 27, 2015, 11:29 pm

This fits more than just Saskatchewan, but if they spent more time in one place, it would be Sask... or Montana... I'm going with Sask! In Canada, they were also in Alberta and Manitoba.


The Little Shadows / Marina Endicott
3.5 stars

It is 1912. Aurora, Clover and Belle are sisters and their father is gone. Their mother used to work in vaudeville, so she decides to teach the girls and set up an act so they can all make a living. The girls are 13, 15, and 16 and their mother, at the same time as teaching them to perform, is also trying to protect them as they travel and try to find theatres to perform in. The book follows them up to 1917.

I liked this, but it didn't quite live up to what I expected. There was a lot of vaudeville detail that probably didn't need to be there. I did read it, in part, because of the vaudeville, but it was a lot. Overall, though, I did enjoy it and I wanted to keep reading and wanted to be reading when I wasn't. It was a long book, but didn't feel long to me (despite all the extra detail).

sep 3, 2015, 11:27 pm


Innocent / Eric Walters
4 stars

It is the 1960s. Betty is an orphan, raised at an orphanage. Shortly before her 18th birthday, when she would be released from the orphanage to make it out on her own, the orphanage catches on fire and burns down, so Betty (and the other older girls) are to set off on their own a bit early. The orphanage fire is the premise behind the Secrets series, all written by different authors, and to be released at the end of this month (I'm reviewing an ARC of this one). This book focuses on Betty and the others focus on the other older girls.

Betty is sent to Kingston to work for a rich family. When she is released, she is given a bit of information about her biological parents: it turns out her father murdered her mother when she was just 4-years old. She was born in Kingston, and surprisingly, the family she is now working for knew her parents, so she is able to find out more.

I really enjoyed this. I was interested to find out more about Betty and her parents and what happened there. It is YA, though, so it did move faster than I would have thought – that is, she found out the information really quickly and it didn't seem too difficult to find things out. I guess I was skeptical at all the coincidences that made it so easy. But, still, I was interested and really did enjoy reading it. I will plan to read more of the series.

sep 16, 2015, 11:44 pm

British Columbia:

Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver / Stephen R. Bown
3.5 stars

Captain George Vancouver served the British Royal Navy in the late 18th century. He initially did some exploring with Captain James Cook, and was later assigned to lead his own exploration to document/map the Pacific Northwest and to look for a Northwest Passage. No one yet had explored this large territory. Unfortunately for him, he was a stickler for rules and made some high-powered enemies (subordinates based on navy rankings, but high-powered back home in England) on this multi-year voyage. At the same time, he was very congenial towards the people they met along the way.

Overall, this was good. There were parts where I had trouble focusing, though, so I did end up skimming a bit of it. I debated between an “ok” rating (3 stars) or a “good” rating (3.5 stars), but decided on 3.5 (though I more often tend to round down when I'm having trouble deciding). However, the end of the book really picked up for me, and I felt badly for Captain Vancouver and how he was treated after the voyage was over. He was already ill and I felt he was being bullied. He was very strict, but it sounds like for the time, he was within his rights to be as strict as he was. I was very impressed with his dealings with the natives he came across, as well as the Spanish explorers they met along the way.

nov 6, 2015, 11:15 pm


Tell / Frances Itani
3.5 stars

It's 1919. Kenan fought in the war, was wounded, and has come home to a small town in Ontario. However, he hasn't left the house since he got back and getting used to regular life again is hard on both him and his wife, Tress. Tress's Aunt Maggie is in a somewhat strained relationship with her husband, Am, and is finding solace in music. She has always been a good singer, but has never wanted to sing in public. Am is one of the few people Kenan feels comfortable talking to.

It's not a fast paced book, but it was good. It was a “continuation” of the author's book, Deafening, which focused on Tress's deaf sister, Grania. This book has a completely different focus, however, and can be read without having read Deafening (though I liked Deafening better). Overall, though, it was good and definitely worth the read.

dec 9, 2015, 12:14 am


The Custodian of Paradise / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Sheilagh Fielding grew up without her mother and her father insisted he wasn't really her father. As a teenager, she became pregnant and gave up her twin children. As she got older, she received letters from someone who called himself her “Provider”. He seemed to know all her secrets.

It was ok, but in my opinion, the author has much better books. I really wasn't all that interested in Sheilagh (though I was mildly curious about this “Provider”), and I really didn't like her all that much, either. Much of the book is told in diary form or letters as she thinks back on her life. Normally, that doesn't bother me much, but for some reason, I tended to skim through the letters and such more than the “regular” text of the book.

feb 1, 2016, 8:40 pm

British Columbia:

The Silk Train Murder / Sharon Rowse
3.5 stars

It's 1899 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. John Granville has recently arrived from the Klondike and when he meets up with his old buddy, Sam, Sam gets Granville a job guarding a train. A couple of nights later, they find someone murdered and Sam is arrested and held for the murder. Granville is certain Sam didn't do it, but the police think otherwise and aren't looking into alternatives, so Granville does some sleuthing of his own.

I enjoyed this. Historical mysteries are iffy for me, but this was good. It did take a few chapters for me to get “into” it, but it was interesting enough, even at the start, that I backed up to reread what I missed when my mind wandered at first. I enjoyed the mystery and I enjoyed the secondary characters, Trent and Emily, who were helping Granville out. I also enjoyed the setting. It was also a nice quick read. This is the first in a series, and I will pick up the next one, as well.

feb 2, 2016, 9:06 am

I checked and my library doesn't have that one, but it sounds interesting so I added it to my wish list.

Redigeret: feb 4, 2016, 10:14 pm

>48 thornton37814: I hope you like it when you get to it! (I'm assuming you're looking at The Silk Train Murder?)

feb 4, 2016, 7:54 pm

feb 4, 2016, 10:14 pm

>49 LibraryCin: G'ah! Sorry about that *you're... Changing it now...

Redigeret: sep 18, 2016, 3:43 pm


You Are Never Alone: Our Life on the Donnelly Homestead / J. Robert Salts
3.5 stars

The Donnellys were an Irish immigrant family that came to Ontario in the mid-1800s. Four of the family members were murdered by local vigilantes in February 1880. This book was written in 1996 by the man who was living with his wife and son on the Donnelly homestead at the time. He relates various paranormal “events” he (and others) have encountered there, has anecdotes about tourists (they offer tours of the homestead), and does relay a shortened version of the Donnelly story. He also shares many photos of the Donnelly family and the homestead, both from when the Donnellys lived there and “current” to when the book was written.

I found this interesting. I have read a couple other books about the murders, so it was interesting to read about the possible paranormal happenings that continued over 100 years later. The anecdotes and photos were also interesting, I thought. There were even descriptions of the buildings, and how they were originally built. It was a short, quick read.

feb 8, 2016, 9:40 am

>52 LibraryCin: I think I'd probably prefer to read an account of the Donnelly family than of the paranormal encounters.

feb 8, 2016, 4:04 pm

>53 thornton37814: Oh, yes. Definitely read one of the books about them first! :-)

The Black Donnellys by Thomas P. Kelley is one, but, if I remember correctly, it is more fictional.

I think a better one is The Donnellys Must Die by Orlo Miller.

feb 14, 2016, 9:15 pm

British Columbia

Still Missing / Chevy Stevens
5 stars

Annie is a realtor who was kidnapped at the end of an open house. The story is actually told while Annie is in therapy and it's told as she is relating it to her therapist, so we know she gets away somehow. But where she was, what happened while she was there, who did this, etc. is still a mystery. She is also having a hard time dealing with fitting back in to her “normal” life.

Wow! This gripped me from the start. I have to admit to not liking Annie much at the start of the book, but of course, how she became that way is - at least in part - shaped by what happened to her. There was language and awful situations in the book. It was a solid 4.5 star book through most of it, but the twist at the end upped it to 5 stars for me – not a rating I give out very often.

maj 10, 2016, 11:43 pm


People of the Deer / Farley Mowat
3 stars

In the late 1940s, Farley Mowat spent a couple of years in Northern Canada (what would be part of Nunavut now). This recounts his time there, spent with the local Inuit. He tells the story of the people and also explains the habits of the “deer” (caribou).

I like Farley Mowat, but (no surprise) I definitely prefer his books when the focus is on animals. In this book, I really enjoyed the parts about the caribou, but the rest varied – some of it held my interest and other parts didn't. I was impressed with his suggestions to help the people at the end of the book, though (and it's sad to see some things still haven't changed).

jun 1, 2016, 11:44 pm


More Prairie Doctor / Lewis Draper
3.5 stars

Dr. Draper was one of the doctors in the small town in Southern Saskatchewan where I grew up (population, about 1300). He was not my doctor, but the town is small enough, we certainly knew him (and I think I did see him as a doctor at least once...that I vaguely recall!) and my Dad was on town council with him for a while.

Anyway, this book is mostly anecdotes from when he was one of the resident doctors in the small town of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. It includes stories of his own home life and about his family, some medical/patient stories, his political life (he was a town counsellor, then mayor, and later went on to serve in the provincial legislature), and other stories about various people and/or events in town.

This book is obviously of more interest to a local audience. I enjoyed it. I got some updates on some people (though for some stories – I expect the medical ones – he used pseudonyms), which was nice. Stories of being a doctor in a small town were interesting; he was well-known for speaking his mind and he certainly does so in this book, as well. The book is – I believe – self-published (though there is the name of a small publisher, but I believe it's his own publication; he has also written a couple other books, presumably under the same publisher), so there are grammatical errors here and there, but overall, I enjoyed the book. It brought back some small-town/Gravelbourg and area memories for me.

Redigeret: sep 18, 2016, 3:42 pm


The Bone Cage / Angie Abdou
4 stars

Sadie is a swimmer; Digger is a wrestler. They are both training in Calgary for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. They are both at the end of their careers, so this Olympics will be their last shot. In addition to the training, they have things going on in their personal lives and about half-way through the book, they do meet.

This was probably good timing to be reading this, just after the Rio Olympics. I'm not that much “into” sports, so I wasn't sure how much I'd like this one, but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much. The author is a swimmer, so she could go into behind-the-scenes details most of us wouldn't know. The chapters are told from alternating viewpoints and I enjoyed the personal stories of Sadie and Digger, particularly Sadie. Since the book was mostly set in the city I live, it's always fun to read about places you know, as well.

nov 1, 2016, 11:25 pm


Bride of New France / Suzanne Desrochers
3.5 stars

It’s the mid-1600s. Laure grew up in a hospital in Paris that housed orphans. When some of the girls are chosen to be sent to New France (Canada) to become wives for the many men who are already there, Laure is one who is chosen to go. The girls have heard horror stories about New France, including about the “savages” and don’t know what to expect.

I enjoyed this. I listened to the audio, and the narrator spoke very slowly, but I only noticed that once in a while. I suppose it did also help with the few French words that were thrown in. The plot itself doesn’t move quickly and it took me a little bit of time at the start to get interested, but once I was interested, I did enjoy it. It was interesting to learn about the colonization of French Canada hundreds of years ago, and for me, it’s always more interesting through the eyes of a woman.

nov 19, 2016, 6:26 pm


You Might Be From Saskatchewan If... Volume 2 / Carson Demmans, Jason Sylvestre.
2.5 stars

This is a book of comics that probably should have been funny for someone who grew up in Saskatchewan, but I didn’t laugh. A few of them made me smile, but that was about it. It was ok, but not as good as I had hoped.

dec 17, 2016, 9:32 pm


The Three Snow Bears / Jan Brett
3.5 stars

This is an Inuit retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but in this case, it’s a little Inuit girl, Aloo-ki, who is looking for her dogs who floated away on a piece of ice and she stumbles upon the igloo where three snow bears live. She goes inside to investigate, while the bears are out.

3 stars for the story, 4 stars for the artwork. It’s a cute story, but one that’s been told. But, the pictures in the book are amazing. The Inuit setting is a nice change and it makes for beautiful pictures. It reminded me of some graphic novels where there is a border. The pictures in the border were following the dogs and the bears, while the main story with text followed Aloo-ki. I read my first picture book by this author last year and I am reminded of the wonderful pictures with her stories.

jan 20, 2017, 11:46 pm


Bone and Bread / Saleema Nawaz
3.5 stars

Beena and Sadhana have an East Indian father and a white mother. They were raised in Montreal, Quebec. Sadhana is two years younger than Beena. Their father died when they were young and their mother when they were teenagers; they are then in the custody of their uncle, who runs the bagel shop (originally owned by their father) downstairs. As they grow up, they each run into teen girl problems (serious ones, not small ones), which I won’t mention, as they aren’t revealed until later in the book (though the blurb does reveal them, as do some tags).

The book is told by Beena in the “present day”, just after Sadhana has died. Sadhana lived alone and was not discovered for a week. Beena has to go clean up the apartment, and brings along her teenage son to help. The book goes back and forth between present day and Beena’s memories of she and her sister growing up.

It started off slow for me, but it did get better. I didn’t always like Beena and the decisions she made, but I could say the same of Sadhana. I don’t have a sister, but it seems that it was likely a good portrayal of sisters. There really was a Canadian flavour to the book, as well, with a look at some of the politics in Quebec.

mar 1, 2017, 11:29 pm


February / Lisa Moore
2.5 stars

In 1982, an oil rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland. This book follows Helen, now a young widow, as her husband, Cal, had been working on the oil rig. Helen is left to care for four children.

It wasn’t a boring story, but the book flipped all over the place in time, mostly between 2008 and other years, looking back. Each section did introduce the year, but it was really all over the place, I thought. I didn’t care about characters, and I didn’t believe the outcome of John’s (John is one of Helen’s children, an adult in 2008) storyline. Also, what is wrong with using quotation marks?

mar 19, 2017, 1:54 am

British Columbia.
This could go under either BC or Alberta, but because I have read fewer under BC so far, that's where I'm going to put it.

Birdie / Tracey Lindberg
2 stars

Bernice (aka Birdie) is a Cree woman and has recently come to Gibsons, British Columbia, where The Beachcombers was filmed. Bernice has had a crush on the only Indian character, Jesse, since she was younger. The story goes back and forth in time from Bernice in Gibsons to growing up in Alberta.

I just didn’t find this book very interesting, so my mind wandered. The most interesting parts were when she was growing up, but in general, I wasn’t interested and didn’t really care. Even less was I interested in the little bit of poetry(???) at the end of each chapter and the bit of dreaming(???) at the start of each chapter. Those parts, I barely skimmed, if I didn’t skip them altogether.

maj 21, 2017, 1:53 am


Lives of Girls and Women / Alice Munro
3 stars

Del is a young girl growing up in small town Ontario. This follows her from a girl through high school. It’s set around WWII and a bit after.

There really wasn’t much to this book. I’ve been wanting to try Alice Munro for a while, but am not a fan of short stories, so that pretty much left me with this book. It was ok, but really nothing happened, so for anyone looking for some kind of plot, this won’t provide it.

maj 21, 2017, 4:41 pm

>65 LibraryCin: I recommend you read Munro's short stories. I am not a fan of short fiction either but Munro is so good that she makes me a fan. The one I have enjoyed the most was Runaway. All of the stories in the collection are about people who have runaway or been abandoned and they are mostly set between WWI and WWII.

maj 21, 2017, 4:58 pm

>66 gypsysmom: Oh, that's good to know. Maybe I will give her another shot. Thank you!

maj 22, 2017, 5:27 pm


Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster / Maura Hanrahan
4 stars

In 1929, Newfoundland was still its own country; it wouldn’t join Canada for another 20 years. In November of that year, under the ocean closeby, there was an earthquake, followed shortly after by a tsunami that hit the small island nation – three successive waves that hit the shores of the Burin Peninsula the worst. Many small fishing communities in that area lost food and fuel that was meant to get them through the upcoming winter, they lost homes, livelihoods, and 27 people’s lives, many women and children. The following day, as communication lines were still down, a blizzard hit the area.

The author describes people and families as they feel the tremor, wonder what’s happened, then relax when it ends... then, as the waves first arrive. Later, she follows one nurse, Nurse Dorothy Cherry, as she travels (with two local men to accompany her) through the blizzard between the small communities to offer help. Later, the word finally gets out to a wider world, and more help arrives in the form of clothes, building supplies, food, coal.

This is a disaster I hadn’t known about. This book is mostly facts, but the author does add in dialogue and even invents some background for some key people when she couldn’t find out enough. There is a note at the end of the book to explain this. Very interesting and heartbreaking, in some cases.

jun 16, 2017, 11:41 pm

Northwest Territories

The River / Gary Paulsen
4 stars

In the first book, 13-year old Brian survived in the woods by himself for almost 2 months. A couple of years later, he is asked to go back to the woods, along with a psychologist, to show how he survived the first time so those skills can be taught to others. Unfortunately, things go wrong when they get out there, and Brian needs to save not only himself, but the psychologist, as well.

I really enjoyed this. Ok, not a realistic scenario, but the book was still entertaining. I listened to the audio, which was well done. I just wish it had been a little longer – it was over so fast! Despite being short, it is fast-paced (which maybe made it feel shorter, still!).

jul 4, 2017, 11:50 pm


Cool Water / Dianne Warren
4 stars

Juliet is a small town (just over 1,000 people) in Southern Saskatchewan, near Swift Current. This book follows some of the town residents (and local farmers) for one day. We meet Lee, who has taken over his “family” farm (we learn early on, that Lester and Astrid were not his biological parents); Norval, the town banker, whose daughter, just out of high school, is pregnant and is getting married… neither she nor her fiance are particularly responsible; Blaine, whose farm has failed and he is having trouble making ends meet for him and his family, including six children; and more.

I really enjoyed this. I grew up in a small town/farming community in Southern Sask, and loved reading about the area, though this town was meant to be (I believe it’s a fictional town) just north of the Trans-Canada highway by the sand dunes, whereas I lived a ways south of the highway. Either way, it’s not fast-paced, but I was drawn in and interested in the characters, anyway. It actually reminded me a bit of Kent Haruf’s books and his small town characters. It does switch between characters quite frequently, but – for the most part – I was able to fairly quickly figure out who was who and whose perspective we were getting each time.

jul 9, 2017, 6:29 pm

>70 LibraryCin: This is one of my favourite books set in SK. I didn't grow up in SK but in rural MB and it resonated with me too.

aug 20, 2017, 11:05 pm

British Columbia. One story is set in Ontario, one in Russia and a couple of them in Alberta, but the majority, I believe, are set in BC.

The Dark and Other Love Stories / Deborah Willis
3.5 stars

This is a book of short stories. Some of the stories include two girls/friends at camp who would sneak out of their bunk at night; two girls/friends who would break into neighbourhood houses when no one was home; a little boy who’s father lived with him and his mother when he was 9 – they had a memorable Halloween; a man who survived a concentration camp as a child moves to Canada and rarely speaks, while a girl of 18 moves away from home to work for a small town newspaper; a man shares his new apartment with a crow… and more.

Usually, a book of short stories will get a 3 star rating from me: I like some of the stories, I don’t like some, and some are ok, so the book, as a whole, averages out to about 3 stars (ok). In this one, however, I can say that I liked almost all of the stories, so it’s getting a 3.5 rating. So, one of the better collections I’ve read.

Redigeret: okt 10, 2017, 12:16 am


A World Elsewhere / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Landish Druken is from Newfoundland and, while attending Princeton, meets George Vanderluyden. They have a falling out, but years later, Vanderluyden has since built a mansion, is married, and has a daughter. He takes in Landish and the boy Landish has taken in, Deacon.

I have to admit to being quite distracted as I read the first 2/3 of the book, so I know I missed some things. For the first 1/3 of the book, I kept reading Landish’s last name as “Drunken”. Oops! It got better (though still wasn’t terribly exciting) for the last 1/3 of the book, when I was able to better focus on it. There were a few twists at the end.

I actually smiled at the dedication and the acknowledgments: I knew his parents and it was dedicated “in loving memory” of them. I was a good friend of his youngest sister so have met some of her siblings, as well (all mentioned in the acknowledgments), though I’ve never met Wayne. Of course, that’s just a personal reaction to those parts of the book that really don’t have to do with the book itself!

okt 25, 2017, 10:52 pm

British Columbia

Victoria's Castles / Paul G. Chamberlain
3.5 stars

This is a short book describing the castles in Victoria, B.C. It describes the architecture, as well as the history of the castles and the people who lived there.

I bought this book as a souvenir the first time I visited Victoria and have finally gotten around to reading it. I saw two castles while I was there (Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Castle) and apparently there is one more still standing. I enjoyed the book, particularly the histories of the people who lived in them - some politicians, some businessmen. The book was short, and of course, included photos of the castles.

okt 29, 2017, 11:08 pm


Plainsong / Nancy Huston.
3 stars

Paula’s grandfather has just died. As she goes through some of his journals/writings, she tries to piece together his life.

I think the story was fine, but I didn’t like the way it was written. No chapters, no dialogue. I don’t think this part really bothered me, but, as an fyi, it was written like Paula was talking to her grandfather in what she wrote, using “you”. It also jumps around in time, constantly back and forth, which is something that normally doesn’t bother me, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the jumping around, so I didn’t like the way it was done in this book. I did like the history covered in the book (it was set in Alberta and much of it in my city, Calgary). I did not like the person her grandfather was (or who Paula thought she was or who she wrote him to be) – he was a horrible person!

feb 28, 2018, 11:08 pm

British Columbia

Those Girls / Chevy Stevens.
4.5 stars

Due to the abuse suffered at the hands of their father (their mother died a few years earlier), three sisters, Dani, Courtney, and Jess, run away, only to find themselves in a town where some initially seemingly nice guys help them out. But, this goes badly and they end up in another terrifyingly horrible situation! 18 years later, after having lived in Vancouver since then and having built a life for themselves, things take another turn and the past is back…

I was trying to describe that with no spoilers - at least nothing that was not mentioned on the back of the book (I may have mentioned less than what’s on the book blurb)! The first half of the book is told from Jess’ point of view; Jess is the youngest sister. Perspective switches for the second half. This was a book I just didn’t want to put down! I wanted to keep reading. There is a lot of violence, though, so be warned of that.

mar 23, 2018, 11:45 pm


Small Beneath the Sky / Lorna Crozier
3.5 stars

Lorna Crozier is a poet. She was born in 1948 and grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This tells of her life, much of it during her childhood. Her family didn’t have a lot of money and her father was an alcoholic.

I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first, as there are short chapters that just seem descriptive, which I guess shows more of her poetic side, but those sections didn’t interest me nearly as much as her life stories. I grew up in Southern Sask, and my dad grew up in Swift Current, so it’s always fun to read about places you know. It’s a short book, and she did skip over a lot of stuff. Overall, though, I did enjoy the parts about her life and the familiar places.

apr 18, 2018, 9:29 pm


The Unquiet Past / Kelley Armstrong
4 stars

This is one of 7 books in the “Secrets” series, all written by different authors. The premise behind the series, as a whole, is that, in 1964, an orphanage in Ontario has burnt down. The oldest kids are sent off on their own with only a small piece of info given to each of them about their past.

In this one, Tess is given only a phone number (but it’s out of service) and an address in a town in Quebec. The address leads to a large abandoned house. Tess has visions, and has never told anyone other than her very best friend about them. She gets an eerie feeling in this house. What happened here and what is Tess’ connection to the place?

I really liked this. I loved the super-creepy feeling at one point in the story. Wow, this author was very good with creating that creepy atmosphere! This is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I do plan to continue on.

apr 23, 2018, 9:51 pm


Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea / Alan Doyle
5 stars

Alan Doyle grew up to become lead singer of Great Big Sea. He grew up in a small town, just outside St. John’s, Newfoundland with 3 siblings and a very musical family; in fact, they were known as “The Doyles from Petty Harbour” and everyone knew they were musical. The book is told as a series of stories, and include stories of his family and friends, music, religion (Catholic vs. Protestant), fishing, and more.

I listened to the audio, read by Alan himself. I loved it! The accent and the phrases, and he’s so funny! I laughed out loud many times (people on transit probably stealing odd glances toward me?)! Oh, what a great storyteller! Listening to the audio, he actually played a recording of a brief conversation with his mom, and when there were lyrics in the text of the book, he sang them. Sigh…

I had a roommate/best friend in my 20s who was from Newfoundland (in fact, from The Goulds, near Petty Harbour, where Alan went to high school) – the accent and phrases and funny stories all made me think of her. He’s only a few years older than me and my friend, so I recognized many things/places that she talked about, as well. Oh, I even remember her mentioning the high school band he was in – I think she showed me a yearbook photo of them with the FA on the drums (for First Attempt).

I really don’t think people would need the personal (or in my case, secondary) references to enjoy this, though. I highly recommend the audio!

apr 30, 2018, 11:15 pm


North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family, and How I Survived Both / Cea Sunrise Person
4 stars

It was the 1970s. Cea was born to a 15-year old mom at a time when her mom, grandparents, aunts, and uncle were leaving California for Alberta to live out in the wilderness. They lived primarily in a tipi during Cea’s first 5 years of life. After that, her mom, Michelle, found Karl, so they left Cea’s grandparents behind to head to BC to live in a cabin… at which time Karl mostly managed to steal things they needed (including sleeping arrangements). Michelle seemed to only be able to function when she had a man to take care of her and Cea. Oh, yeah. Also, the drugs… that includes Cea’s grandparents. And the nudity, and sex. No one cared about privacy.

Interesting story. Sure don’t agree with how they lived, and the poor girl had such a crazy life. I liked that she continued her story, though not in as much detail or in nearly as many chapters (the bulk of the book/story was her childhood), into her teen years (when she became a model) and adulthood and how she dealt with her “unusual” background. People compare her dysfunctional family life with Jeanette Walls and “The Glass Castle”. It’s been a few years since I read it, but the neglectful parents/adults sure fit the theme! Toward the end, I considered upping my rating, but decided to go with how I felt reading the majority of it.

maj 12, 2018, 5:40 pm

British Columbia

Never Let You Go / Chevy Stevens
4.5 stars

Lindsey’s ex-husband, Andrew, has been in jail for the past decade. He was abusive toward Lindsey, and she has since built a new life for her and her daughter, Sophie. Unfortunately when Andrew gets out of jail, he comes back to the town where Lindsey and Sophie live.

I have not yet been disappointed in a Chevy Stevens novel. I found this very fast-paced and suspenseful, and I wanted to keep reading. I listened to the audio, which was very well done; it was read by two different narrators, one for Lindsey and one for Sophie. The book does jump around in time (now and then) and perspective (Lindsey and Sophie). Very very good, in my opinion! There was what I thought of as a coincidence at the end, but without saying too much, it turned out to be planned, so not a coincidence, after all.

jun 3, 2018, 2:57 pm

Prince Edward Island

Jane of Lantern Hill / L.M. Montgomery
3.5 stars

Jane has been living in Toronto with her rich grandmother and her mother as long as she can remember. She doesn’t even realize her father is still alive and living on Prince Edward Island, until a letter comes asking if she can stay with him for a summer. Her (hateful!) grandmother hates Jane’s father, and all Jane knows is to hate him, and she doesn’t want to go. But, when she meets her dad, she is pleasantly surprised.

I enjoyed this! LM Montgomery’s books are pretty simple, and the end was tied up with a nice bow, but I still enjoyed it, overall.

okt 16, 2018, 12:01 am


The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre / Sarah Kathryn York
4 stars

Edouard Beaupre was born in 1881; he was Metis and was the first child born in the small Southern Saskatchwan settlement of Willow Bunch (which happens to be about an hour from where I grew up). He died in 1904 at the age of 23; he was 8’4” and still growing. He spent parts of his adult life as a giant and strongman in travelling sideshows and circuses. Where the story actually starts and ends is with a doctor who is studying his corpse.

I knew of Edouard Beaupre when I was younger, but knew him as the “Willow Bunch Giant”; I don’t remember if I knew his name when I was younger. There is a museum in Willow Bunch that I have been to, once about 15 years ago. I was very interested to find this book about him. I think I initially thought it was a biography, but it’s actually fiction, but it sounds like a lot of research went into it and so it sounds like most of it is probably fairly accurate. I found it very interesting and a little bit sad, for him.

okt 19, 2018, 11:44 pm


The Age of Hope / David Bergen
4 stars

Hope was born in 1930. She was fairly young when she married Roy. They lived in the small Mennonite town of Eden, Manitoba. They had four children, and we follow Hope’s thoughts and feelings throughout her entire adult life, as she marries, becomes a mother to her four children, while Roy is mostly working. She feels lonely and Roy doesn’t understand since she has four kids around. But, Roy loves her; he is a nice man and treats her well. But, sometimes Hope has trouble and needs some help. The story follows Hope through her entire life.

There is not a whole lot to the story, ultimately, and definitely not fast-paced, but it was still really good. The (male!) author does a really good job of bringing us into Hope’s world, I thought.

jan 26, 2019, 4:56 pm


The Lonely Hearts Hotel / Heather O'Neill
2.5 stars

Rose and Pierrot grew up at the same orphanage in Montreal, where they performed for rich people to raise money, once Pierrot’s piano-playing talent and Rose’s dancing talent was discovered. While at the orphanage, despite abuse at the hands of the nuns, they fall in love. As they grow older, however, they are separated and spend their lives trying to dig their way out of poverty and pining for each other.

Not a fan. I listened to the audio and the narrator was good, but it wasn’t enough. I thought, at the start, I was going to like it, but it didn’t turn out that way. I didn’t like any of the characters, and I didn’t care about what happened to them (except when they were young and still at the orphanage). Disappointing, especially since I really liked “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by this author.

mar 22, 2019, 10:27 pm

Finally, my first Yukon book!

At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham.
3.75 stars

It’s the late 1800s. Liza and her family live in Vancouver, but her father decides he wants to pack up and head north to Dawson City to set up his business there and cash in on the gold rush traffic. Liza and her brother are both adults, but the entire family sets off on this adventure. It’s cold and dangerous even just to get there, as they have to traverse the Chilkoot Trail.

Meanwhile, Ben, who had an abusive childhood, has been wanting to become a Mountie most of his life. He manages to do so, and is sent to Dawson City to help with the policing there. As he (and other Mounties) make their way along the Chilkoot Trail and toward Dawson City, he and Liza cross paths more than once.

I quite enjoyed this. At first, I was more interested in Liza’s story, but I also got more interested in Ben as the story continued on. The disasters in the book were the best parts for me. I also really enjoy reading books set near me, so reading about the Frank Slide was fun. (Frank was a small mining town in southern Alberta where a rock slide buried the town in 1902.) The romance was not overdone, so I felt better about that, as well (not always a romance fan). I also enjoyed the author’s note at the end. I could tell how passionate she is about Canadian historical fiction and the research she did.

mar 23, 2019, 2:03 pm

>86 LibraryCin: That sounds pretty good. And congratulations on getting Yukon read (well at least the first book).

mar 23, 2019, 3:14 pm

>87 gypsysmom: I know! I can't believe it's taken me so long to finally read something set in the Yukon!

Just fyi, this was a NetGalley book, so it hasn't been published quite yet. I believe it's to be published in April, though, so soon!

apr 14, 2019, 6:36 pm

Nova Scotia

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 / Sally M. Walker
4 stars

On Dec 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour. Around 2000 people were killed and many more injured.

This book is aimed toward younger readers, but I found it a good introduction. There are also plenty of archival photos included. The author decided to tell the stories of a few specific families – to follow what happened to the people in those families, what they were doing at the time, etc. I do think this makes the book more “relatable”.

I did know of the explosion, but this is the first I’ve read about it, to really get more info/details on it. I already have other books on my tbr about the topic, as well. I thought this book was very well done. (Hate to say I “really liked” a book about a disaster, though I’m sure I have before!)

maj 11, 2019, 3:27 pm

Northwest Territories

Brian's Winter / Gary Paulsen
3.5 stars

In “Hatchet”, 13(?)-year old Brian is stranded in the Canadian North after a plane crash. What if winter had come and he was still there? This looks at Brian trying to survive the winter on his own.

I listened to the audio and enjoyed it. It looks like I rated the first two books 4 stars each, but on thinking back, I feel like “Hatchet” should have been 4 stars and “The River” probably 3.5, same as this one. In any case, it was interesting to see the kinds of things Brian had to do/learn in order to survive over the winter.

jul 2, 2019, 2:14 am


Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training / Tom Jokinen
4 stars

What happens behind the scenes when someone dies until they “appear” at the funeral? The author looks at this, in addition to the business of being an undertaker, in all the historical changes – from burial to cremation… and still to come, green burials. He works with a family funeral home in Winnipeg where he learns all the different aspects of the business. He also heads to California, where he learns more about green burials (at the time of writing – this was published in 2010 – in Canada, the only place you could have a green burial was in Guelph, Ontario, and somewhere in BC was building someplace for it), then to Las Vegas for an undertaker trade show – see all the new and best in funerial apparel!!

I found this really interesting. Of course, there was a bit of humour thrown in here and there. In such a business, I think there needs to be!

jul 7, 2019, 5:05 pm


The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland / Jim DeFede
4.25 stars

Gander, Newfoundland has about 10,000 people. It was once a hub for airliners to stop to refuel, so it has lots of space for large aircraft. On 9/11, when the terrorists took down the Twin Towers in New York, air space in all of the United States was closed. Flights already in the air were ordered to land as soon as possible. 38 planes chose to, or were ordered to, land in Gander, adding 7,000 people in to the community who ended up staying for a few days before being able to get back on flights to continue on (or go back).

When Gander declared a state of emergency, people were housed at schools, churches, and anywhere else that had room, while flight crews took over all the hotel rooms. The people in Gander donated hours of their time, items from their homes, food, and places to stay for some of the stranded passengers. Friendships (and maybe even at least one romance) were formed.

The book was published in 2002, about a year after the events of the day. Some of the people the book followed included: a husband and wife returning from Kazakhstan with a little girl they’d just adopted; there was the parents of a missing firefighter in New York; there was royalty; there was a couple of higher-up people in well-known companies; there were a few Jewish people, in a town where most of the people had never met a Jewish person before, and more. I hadn’t thought about the animals that were on those planes, in the cargo hold!

I’m Canadian. I grew up in a small town, and can see people reacting as the people of Gander did, doing everything they could do to help. 9/11 itself is an emotional topic, though I have no close personal connections to New York. This was emotional, it made me feel proud to be Canadian, to read about everything the people in Gander had done.

I listened to the audio book, so I missed out on some photos that were included in the book. Overall, a really good (and emotional) account of what some of the people who were flying that day went through when they landed in a small isolated town in Eastern Canada.

jul 12, 2019, 4:12 pm


Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell
3 stars

Brian is a boy growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. He lives with his parents, a younger brother, and his grandmother, whom he hates! The book starts when Brian is (I think) 4-years old and continues until he is 11 (I think).

It was ok. Pretty slow-moving, as nothing big really happens. It was just things that happened in his life as he was growing up. I grew up in Southern Sask (though in the 70s and 80s!), but “recognized” some of the small town prairie happenings (i.e. (sadly) kids trying to get gopher tails; luckily, I never saw it, just heard about it). Overall, it was ok.

jul 16, 2019, 1:41 pm


Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat
3.75 stars

Billy has a collection of animals as pets, including gophers, snakes, rats… He and a couple of friends decide they want an owl, so go looking to steal one from a nest, but instead find an injured baby owl and bring him home. They later come across a second injured one, and bring him home for company for Wol, the first owl. The two owls are very different in personality, but they both seem to not realize they are owls who can fly and do other things owls can do.

This was so short; I wish it had been longer. I felt terrible when I thought Billy was going to bring home an owl by stealing it out of a nest! There were plenty of humourous stories about Wol and Weeps. I am curious if Mowat actually had owls as pets.

jul 23, 2019, 1:16 am


The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery
4 stars

Valancy is turning 29 years old and is constantly reminded by her family that she is an old maid. She has always been a good, obedient daughter, but hates pretty much everything about her life with her family. She even wears only clothes her mother approves of and an old-fashioned hairstyle approved by her mother. When she receives some news, she finally stands up to her family and does things that she wants to do, just for herself.

I really liked this. I liked Valency, though I hated her awful family. I liked some of the other characters, as Valency gets to know them after her rebellion from her family. It’s frustrating, the lack of options for an unmarried woman during this time (the 1920s). It’s slow-moving, but I really enjoyed it.

aug 6, 2019, 12:30 am


A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage
4 stars

This starts off as a memoir. The author and her husband come across the town of Eastend, Saskatchewan, near Cypress Hills on their travels back home to Saskatoon from the U.S. They initially stayed for 2 weeks on vacation, but were drawn to the town enough to buy a house and live there part-time. While there, the author wrote about the landscape, the dinosaur history and the T-Rex Centre that is there, then started looking into the more recent history of the First Nations people who were there, but were driven off the land in the late 19th century once the white settlers started arriving. The last half of the book looks at the First Nations history of the area.

I probably would have given this 3.5 stars (good), except that I grew up only a couple of hours from Eastend, and have been there a few times. I can picture Eastend, the T-Rex Centre, Cypress Hills, the surrounding land, the ghost towns nearby that were mentioned... I’m sure I also once (though I didn’t remember it) learned the history of Chimney Coulee and the Cypress Hills Massacre. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Chimney Coulee and can also picture that in my head. Good book, sad stuff about the First Nations people and everything that happened, but important to learn about.

sep 2, 2019, 3:19 pm


The Accidental Veterinarian: Tales from a Pet Practice / Philipp Schott
4 stars

The author is a veterinarian in Manitoba, and this is a memoir of how he became a vet, as well as anecdotes of his practice, including not only the pets/animals he sees, but also the people and behind the scenes, as well. It was originally written as a series of blog posts (or most of the stories, anyway).

I found this really interesting; in addition to the animal stories, he discusses things like costs, diseases, etc. He gives tips on dealing with your vet, as well as dealing with your pet (i.e. giving a pill to your cat!). He also talks about the people he sees. Because it’s written in short “essays”, it moves from one topic to the next quickly, but that didn’t really bother me. I really enjoyed this!

sep 2, 2019, 6:20 pm

>97 LibraryCin: When I lived in Cincinnati, my vet showed me how to give a cat a pill when I needed to give one to Brumley for a few days. I never had a problem with it. I've never had trouble getting them down since then.

sep 2, 2019, 8:40 pm

>98 thornton37814: My attempts vary. It's easiest when they like pill pockets. :-)

sep 3, 2019, 8:31 am

>99 LibraryCin: My way uses one hand to hold open the mouth and insert pill using middle finger while holding cat with other hand.

sep 3, 2019, 10:47 pm

>100 thornton37814: I try something along those lines (I've seen videos and all...), but it never seems to work well for me!

sep 3, 2019, 11:16 pm

Saskatchewan. Ohhhh, didn't expect this, but I've now read more set in Sask than in Ontario!

Upstream / Sharon Butala
3.5 stars

Chloe is ½ French and ½ English, and she grew up in Saskatchewan. When her husband heads to Scotland to work on his PhD, she discovers he has been having an affair. Not knowing what to do about her marriage, she travels for a bit with a friend, then heads to her father’s French town in Sask. for a while. While there, she learns about being French in Saskatchewan and comes across her grandmother’s diary.

Unfortunately, there were no likable characters in this book. That almost brought my rating down to 3 stars (ok). However, I got much more interested in the second half of the book when Chloe started reading her grandmother’s diary – about having to move from Quebec to Saskatchewan and starting over in an English province (though in a French town). I am not French, but I grew up in a small, primarily French, town in Saskatchewan, so I found this really interesting: the history of the Fransaskois (French-Saskatchewanians). The town this was set in was not near the town I grew up in, but it was close to Batoche, famous for the battle during the Rebellion where Louis Riel was defeated.

sep 6, 2019, 10:04 pm


Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes / Kamal Al-Solaylee
4 stars

The author was born in Yemen in the 1960s. He was the youngest of 11 siblings and was only 3 years old when the family moved to Beirut (Lebanon), then not long after, they moved to Cairo (Egypt), where he spent his years growing up, and figuring out that he was gay. Most of the family eventually headed back to Yemen, but long before then, Kamal knew he had to get out of the Middle East. He yearned to go to England or the US, where he felt he would be able to be himself and not hide. He managed a scholarship to study in England, and from there, he eventually made his way to Canada.

This covered the 1960s (when the people of Yemen and Egypt were relatively free and not so constrained by religion) up to and including 2011. As Kamal yearned to leave, he hated to leave his mother and sisters behind, the way women were being treated by the time he got out. Some of his brothers had gone fervently religious, too much for Kamal’s liking. He tried to not look back on his life there, and even speaking to his family was difficult, as he was still hiding who he really was and it reminded him of how bad things were in the country he was born in. As things got worse in the Middle East, and in Yemen in particular with a civil war happening in 2011, he did seek out news from home.

This was really good. It was also very interesting, to read the cultural differences between the Middle Eastern countries he lived in and the Western countries. As a Canadian myself, it was really nice to see how accepted he was in Canada (Toronto, though I am from the West), regardless of his nationality and his sexual orientation. Completely not book-related, but as someone who has taken bellydance classes off and on, I had to take a brief break from reading to look up a famous Egyptian bellydancer his father hired to perform at one of his sisters’ weddings.

dec 7, 2019, 3:29 pm

Northern Canada

The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier
3.5 stars

Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in a Northern Quebec Inuit community and raised by her mother and her grandmother. She was sent away to school in Churchill, and (mostly) enjoyed her time there. She later married, had kids, and went back and forth between her home in Northern Quebec and the southern part of the province.

Eventually, she would become an activist; she is most commonly associated with environmental activism, but really she is an activist for her Inuit culture, for education and health care, and yes, for the environment and climate change, and how it is currently affecting the Inuit culture and lifestyle. They are seeing the effects of climate change now, and they feel that they deserve “the right to be cold” – they need that cold – in order to sustain their traditional culture.

This was good. I expected more of the environmental aspect in the book (and a lot of that did come in the 2nd half), but actually ended up enjoying the biographical part of the book best. Much of the 2nd half of the book included her travels to various conferences and counsels to tell the story of the Inuit to put a “human face” on the environmental crisis in the Arctic. Surprising to me, I just didn’t find that part as interesting. Overall, though, I liked it.

dec 25, 2019, 4:45 pm

>104 LibraryCin: How intersting that she was sent from Northern Quebec to Churchill. I guess it was felt that she would fare better being schooled with other Inuits even if they were a completely different society.

I've heard lots of good things about this book. Wasn't it one of the books chosen for Canada Reads at some point? And I know it is on the CBC list of 100 True Stories that Make You Proud to be Canadian.

dec 25, 2019, 5:21 pm

>105 gypsysmom: It was actually a residential school in Churchill, if I'm remembering correctly. Yes, it was a Canada Reads book - that's what brought it to my attention. :-) (It just takes me a while to get to them!)

dec 30, 2019, 2:10 am


The Forgotten Home Child / Genevieve Graham
4 stars

When Winny is young, she finds herself in the streets of London and finds friends in Mary, Jack, Cecil and Edward. They are caught stealing one day and are taken to an orphanage. From there, they eventually are sent to Canada, where they will be sent out to families and should have a better life. They are split up, but vow to find each other again.

Apparently, between the mid-1800s and up to 1948(?) over 100,000 children – the British Home Children – were sent to Canada. Sadly, for the majority of these kids, it was not a better life. Many (most) were neglected, malnourished, abused. They were indentured servants and most were not treated well.

In the book, Winny is actually 90-some years old, and having been ashamed of her background all these years, she never told her family. But, the book goes back and forth between Winny telling her granddaughter and great-grandson her story and, of course, the story itself: Winny and her friends in the 1930s and through WWII.

This was very interesting. I had never heard of the British Home Children, and that’s why the author wanted to write the story. It’s not taught in schools, and many of the kids sent over kept their stories to themselves, so it’s not well-known. The author includes a good historical note at the end. The author used examples from many of the people she talked to – things that really happened. It was a quick read, but I hope I don’t forget it soon.

jan 5, 2020, 2:07 am

British Columbia. Could have put this in BC or Alberta, but decided on BC b/c more of the trip is in BC than in AB.

The Forgotten Explorer / Charles Helm, Mike Murtha (editors)
3 stars

Samuel Fay was an American hunter who explored the Northern Rocky Mountains (North and West of Jasper, Alberta) over a few years, in 1912, 1913, 1914. His longest trip was 4ish months between the end of June and November, 1914, when he was hunting and collecting wildlife for the US “Biological Review”. The bulk of this book is Fay’s journals while on that trip, though the foreword is someone else’s summary/account of the trip, and there are appendices that include articles Fay wrote about his travels afterward.

I hadn’t realized before starting the book that Fay was a hunter and that was the purpose of his travel. I don’t like hunting. I did enjoy the descriptions, especially of the wildlife; I just kept hoping the next sentence after any wildlife was mentioned wouldn’t be along the lines of “so we shot one (or more)...”. I think I won the book at a conference, and it’s just been sitting here, waiting for me to read it for a while now. It’s not a long book (page-wise), but I was kept from reading it for a long time due to the tiny font in the book! It’s now done and I will donate the book. Overall, I rated it ok.

jan 26, 2020, 4:21 pm

British Columbia

Michelle Remembers / Michelle Smith, Lawrence Pazder
3 stars

This was published in 1980. In 1977, Michelle Smith recounted repressed memories (from when she was 5 years old in 1954/1955) to her psychiatrist (co-author Lawrence Pazder). This book follows that therapy. When Michelle was only 5, her unstable mother gave her away to a cult of Satanists to be abused and used in various rituals.

So, I’ve owned this since I was in high school, but I don’t think I read it back then. The first half was more interesting than the second half, when Satan appeared. The second half got much more religious, and it was less interesting to me. Now, this has since been debunked, and I found that out in the middle of reading it, but I don’t think it affected my rating (though it appears that many rated it 1 star, simply because it’s not true); I actually didn’t want that knowledge to affect how I rated the book.

apr 17, 2020, 11:24 pm

British Columbia

Hands Like Clouds / Mark Zuehlke
3 stars

Elias is the coroner in the small town of Tofino, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. When a local environmentalist/activist (or “ecoterrorist”) is found hanging from a tree, the initial thought is suicide, but Elias quickly figures out that Ian was strangled before he was hung. The local RCMP, though, is busy preparing for a US Senator to tour the area, looking at the ancient rainforest (and the already clear-cut sections) that the logging companies want to continue to raze.

Especially with the environmental angle, I had hoped this would draw me in more. The mystery itself was interesting, but the characters weren’t as much so – at least to me – until at least the second half of the book. Zuehlke puts a lot of description in the book, which does paint a clear picture of Vancouver Island, but it’s a bit too much for me, overall. I did love the setting, though.

apr 19, 2020, 3:58 pm

British Columbia

The Brideship Wife / Leslie Howard
4 stars

It’s the mid-19th century, and Charlotte, at 21-years old, is desperate to find a husband. Well, she isn’t that excited about it, but her sister and brother-in-law, high society people, are insisting. The match they want her to make, however, is a jerk, to put it mildly. But, Charlotte doesn’t have a lot of options, until she finds out about a “brideship”. England is sending unmarried women to the colonies in the New World, specifically to Vancouver Island and British Columbia, in what would later become Canada, to provide the men there with potential wives. Although Charlotte is initially hesitant, she ends up on one of the ships...

I really liked this. I liked Charlotte – she is more independent than many women at the time, I think – certainly those of her social class. Although quick to read is nice, I did feel like the book could have gone into more detail/spent more time on many of the topics.

As I always hope for, the author did include a note at the end where she talks about where she learned of many of the issues she covered in the book, including treatment of women, social classes, smallpox in the Native population, the gold rush towns in BC, the culture in those towns, as well as the tendency toward fire in the buildings, and more. She also provided a master list (can’t think of what it’s called) of actual women who sailed on one of the brideships (she used many of the names). Many of the things that happened in the book were events happened to someone in real life.

maj 17, 2020, 1:48 pm


Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography / Chester Brown
3.5 stars

Louis Riel was a charismatic Metis leader in the late 19th century who led a couple of rebellions as the government of Canada wanted to set up Manitoba and West differently from how the First Nations, Metis, and others already settled there wanted it done. Riel was later hanged. This is a graphic novel that depicts his battle with the government.

It was good. I think the graphic novel format does make it more interesting than I remember it from high school (what little I do remember, and I’ve even been to Batoche, one of the sites in Saskatchewan where he fought). The illustrations were simple, black and white images, but I think they portrayed things well. There is a large notes section at the end that expands what was included in the story. I think the notes took as long or longer to read through than the graphic novel portion itself, but it does add quite a bit of extra info.

maj 23, 2020, 11:15 am

>112 LibraryCin: I'm not a big graphic novel reader but I did like this one.

maj 23, 2020, 3:10 pm

>113 gypsysmom: It was nicely done.

jun 2, 2020, 11:25 pm

Don't really have a category for Prairie Provinces, but this one wasn't explicit. I'm recording it here, anyway.

7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga / David Alexander Robertson, Scott B. Henderson (ill.)
4.5 stars

In this graphic novel, Edwin learns from his mother the history, going back seven generations, of their family and his people, the First Nations Cree. We learn about fighting between the Cree and Blackfoot, then when smallpox hit, then the residential schools in the 1960s, where Edwin’s father and uncle attended.

Wow, this started off with a very powerful chapter, as Edwin tries to kill himself as his mother rushes to him in the hospital. Particularly powerful, again, with Edwin’s father and uncle at the residential school. It was a story of Edwin not only learning about the past, but having to come to terms with all of it and to forgive his father. It is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel, in colour.

jun 11, 2020, 12:22 am

Nova Scotia

Missing / Frances Itani
4 stars

In France, Luc was 12-years old in 1917 when he saw an air battle between one British and two German planes. The British plane came crashing down and Luc ran towards where the pilot landed. He was only able to notice/discover a few things before Germans shoo-ed him away, but enough to find out the pilot’s name, nationality (Canadian), and to collect a few souvenirs before heading home. Back in Nova Scotia, Jack Greenway’s parents are worried for their only son who went off to be a pilot in this war.

This is a very good short story. I would have loved for it to be longer, still, to be able to put more detail into the story. This was based on true events. Itani is a very good writer of war stories.

jun 14, 2020, 4:57 pm


Kiss of the Fur Queen / Tomson Highway
3 stars

Champion (later Jeremiah) and Gabriel are Cree, living in northern Manitoba. When they are young, in the ‘60s, they are sent away to a residential school. This book follows them beyond the residential school as they grow into adults.

There was some magical realism in the book, which I’m not a fan of. It didn’t make sense to me. The book skipped ahead – skipped years in their lives – quite a bit. That is, we’d get a very brief time at their age, then suddenly (without any real indication beyond a new chapter or part), we would have advanced years. Some of it was good and held my interest, but much of it was also very vague, and you had to figure out what was going on... it wasn’t clear. I hate that. Despite this mostly negative-sounding review, I am rating the book “ok”, for the parts that I liked.

jun 26, 2020, 3:25 pm

>116 LibraryCin: I adore Itani's writing and this is a new one to me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

jun 26, 2020, 5:03 pm

>118 gypsysmom: Hope you like it! I've really liked everything I've read by her, as well. Can't recall for sure, but Deafening may have made my favourites the year I read it.

jul 18, 2020, 12:02 am

Nova Scotia

The Great Halifax Explosion / John U. Bacon
4 stars

On Dec. 5, 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour. One of them was loaded down with explosives, meant to head to Europe for the war effort. Instead, with the collision, a good chunk of Halifax and neighbouring Richmond were wiped out in an instant, along with a couple thousand (likely a low estimate) people, and more thousands injured.

This was very well researched. It does include some discussion of the war, and a soldier from Nova Scotia who ended up helping out after the disaster, as he was back home after being severely injured. Also includes a detailed account of the ships and crew involved in the collision, as well as tidbits of time of some of the civilians on shore who were affected (lost family members, lost homes, injuries...).

sep 19, 2020, 5:00 pm

British Columbia

The Secret Lives of Saints / Daphne Bramham
4 stars

“Saints” in the title refers to the religion, “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (LDS), or more specifically, fundamentalist LDS (FLDS) – that is, the polygamous branch of the LDS/Mormons. This book includes info from various, mostly former, FLDS – that is, it includes some memoir-type info with regard to some people (again, mostly those who have left), but the second part talks about the law, courts, trials, and even that some governments look the other way (British Columbia in Canada seems the worst for that).

This book does focus more on the Canadian FLDS (and leader/prophet Winston Blackmore) than any other I’ve read, so that was interesting to me. I’m in Calgary, Alberta, and though I knew about Bountiful, BC (actually called Lister, which I didn’t know), I did not know that there is a small population of FLDS in Alberta, as well, mostly in/around Cardston. The FLDS is so intertwined, though, that it started with a history, and there is also much about the communities in Utah and Arizona, and of course, about Warren Jeffs.

I have read quite a bit about the FLDS so many names are already familiar to me in that I’ve read some of those memoirs. I know that a few of the Canadian FLDS had a trial wrap up in BC last year, so I’m going to look that up to refresh my memory on what happened there. This book was published in 2008, so things have happened since then (like the trial in BC). I found the second part of the book – the legal stuff – much more interesting than I expected, and found myself even more interested than in the first half of the book; I guess much of that was exasperation and frustration at all the laws they are breaking... and in some cases, flaunting (in addition to polygamy, there is, of course, all kinds of abuse, plus bilking the government (i.e. taxpayers) out of as much money as possible – they need all that extra income to feed their 15+ wives and 70+ children (ok, that might just be Blackmore with that many, but you get the picture)).

nov 30, 2020, 5:37 pm

British Columbia

The Boat People / Sharon Bala
4 stars

In 2009 or 2010 a boat of refugees arrived in British Columbia. There were over 500 people aboard, coming from Sri Lanka. This really happened, and this book is a fictionalized version of this. The refugees were “detained” (basically, jailed) until they had their initial hearings (just as to whether or not they were allowed into Canada at all; later hearings determine whether or not they can stay.)

Mahindan is a mechanic and has arrived with a young son (5 or 6 years old); unfortunately, his son is not allowed to be detained with his father, so he is initially sent with some of the women detainees and their children, and later placed with a Canadian foster family. Priya is studying to become a lawyer; she wants to be a corporate lawyer, but is assigned to help as counsel for the refugees. Grace has been assigned as an adjudicator for the hearings; she has been informed by a government minister of (I think) public security to be wary and watch for the terrorists who are aboard, because he is certain some of them are.

The story is told from all three viewpoints. Priya has a Sri Lankan background, but does not speak the language. Grace’s background is Japanese and her family has been in Canada for a few generations now (her grandparents and parents were interred in the Japanese concentration camps during WWII. The two women learn more about their families’ backgrounds, as well.

This was really good. I was really frustrated with Grace for – what I felt was – relying too much on Fred’s (the minister’s) rhetoric. I guess I wanted to believe all of their stories. I wasn’t as interested in Mahindan’s background in Sri Lanka – well, some was interesting, but I did lose a bit of focus when talking about his courtship to his son’s mother. Without giving too much away, I really had no idea how it would end, and yet I was still surprised.

nov 30, 2020, 5:38 pm

And by far, the bulk of my reading this year set in Canada has been set in BC!

6 books vs 2 in Manitoba, 2 in Nova Scotia, and 1 in the Prairies.

dec 2, 2020, 11:58 pm


The Quintland Sisters / Shelley Wood
3.75 stars

The Dionne quintuplets were born in a small town in Northern Ontario in 1934. It was amazing that they all lived. However, not long after they were born, they were taken from the parents to live across the street in a building built to keep them safe and healthy. 17-year old Emma was there when they were born to help the midwife. She becomes a nurse and is one of a revolving door of nurses and teachers (in addition to Dr. Dafoe and others) to help take care of the girls. They’ve immediately become sensations, being so rare. People come from all over to see the girls in their purpose-built play room, so the girls are visible to outsiders, but the visitors aren’t visible to the girls.

The story is told in diary form from Emma’s point of view up until the girls are 5-years old. It is interspersed with real newspaper articles. It’s a sad story, as the parents rarely had access to see their daughters. Since this is fiction, I don’t really know what the parents were like, but I waffled between feeling bad for them and really not liking them, as they were very strict and the father seemed more interested in the money and control of the girls’ lives.

I did appreciate the historical note. Emma was, as I’d suspected, not a real person. I was surprised at the end, but she did put a bit into the historical note that might help explain. I definitely want to find and read some nonfiction on the Dionne quintuplets.

dec 24, 2020, 12:34 am


From the Ashes / Jesse Thistle
4 stars

Jesse and his two older brothers (Metis-Cree) were abandoned by their parents when Jesse was only 3-years old (older brothers Jerry and Josh were 4 and 5). They spent a short time in a foster home before their paternal grandparents in Ontario came to get them. Jesse did not do well growing up – he got into trouble with alcohol and drugs, stealing, and he was off-and-on homeless. He was in and out of jail a few times before he eventually turned his life around.

This was really good. Jesse also writes poetry and it is sprinkled throughout the book. The chapters are short and overall, the book is fairly quick to read. So many times I shook my head, and thought: ok, this has to be rock-bottom, when you’ll turn your life around. But it wasn’t. So many times. I also wondered occasionally how he remembered as much as he did looking back on his life, given all the drugs and alcohol, but he addressed this in a note at the end.

jan 6, 2021, 9:48 pm

Nova Scotia

Barometer Rising / Hugh MacLennan
3.25 stars

It’s 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Penny (a woman working at the shipyard – very unusual for the time)’s love (and cousin) has been at war and he’s missing. They all think he’s dead. So, when Angus (much older than Penny) asks her to marry him, she accepts. Only days later, the Halifax Harbour goes up in an explosion.

The book only follows just over one week. It took longer than I liked to get to the explosion. Leading up to it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the explosion itself and the aftermath, but not long after, it concluded mostly with their regular lives again. If there had been more focus on the disaster, I would have enjoyed it more, I’m sure. There was an afterword by another “classic” Canadian author, Alistair Macleod – one of those that analyzes the book; one of the ones that should never be an introduction but often is (because it gives away the story)! Luckily, it was an afterword.

mar 19, 2021, 11:12 pm


The Figgs / Ali Bryan
3.5 stars

June has just retired, but with her and Randy’s three adult children still living at home (though they’ve been trying to get rid of them for a while!), there’s not much time to relax. When she is trying to get her kids to help her clean the basement, her youngest son, Derek, gets a phone call. He needs to go to the hospital because Marissa is having her baby. Who is Marissa, June wonders, but they pile in the car to be there with Derek. Soon, Derek is home with a baby he’d only found out a week or so earlier that he was the father of. Daughter Vanessa seems to have a much older girlfriend – who new Vanessa was a lesbian!? Not June, nor Randy. Both June and Randy also have their own family issues going on at the same time…

This was a whirlwind! I liked it, but I’m sure happy to live alone. All that activity was crazy and would drive me insane! I like my quiet life. There was humour mixed in here and there, as well. This is a local author to me, so it’s always fun to read about places I know in my city.

apr 5, 2021, 2:05 pm

British Columbia

The Devil's Making / Sean Haldane
3 stars

Chad Hobbes went to law school in England, but never wrote the bar exam. In 1868, he has come to British Columbia, a British colony, but not yet part of Canada (which was just recently formed in the east), but without having written the bar, he cannot practice as a lawyer, so he gets a job as a constable in Victoria. When an American “alienist” (psychiatrist - I had to look it up!) is found murdered in a very gruesome way, everyone assumes it’s the First Nations people who are closeby who killed him. One is arrested and it is assumed he will soon hang for it. Hobbes, though, doesn’t think he (nor any of the other natives) did it, and he sets out to find who really did it. In the meantime, Hobbes finds himself attracted to the sister of the man who was arrested.

Be warned: this was quite gruesome in the details. Also, there was a lot of investigation into sexual things. There is definite racism here, primarily against native people. Overall, I’m rating this ok. There were parts that just didn’t interest me, so I kind of tuned out, but other parts were fine and I followed without an issue. I’m thinking maybe the writing style? The odd thing is that I love historical fiction, I also like mysteries (though some types more than others), but oddly, more often than not, historical mysteries don’t interest me as much. I have no idea why.

I did like the Canadian background in this, though. I’ve been to Victoria a couple of times, so I could picture some of the places mentioned. There was an odd (I thought) twist and I felt like the end was a bit too much all tied up – except for one thing. That one thing wasn’t a happy one (and it was apparently a real event). The brief afterword also explained that many of the people were real people.

maj 16, 2021, 3:15 pm

Northwest Territories

Late Nights on Air / Elizabeth Hay
2 stars

This story revolves around people who work at a radio station in the mid-1970s in Yellowknife, NWT. Dido and Gina are fairly new to Yellowknife and the radio station. All the men seem to be attracted to Dido.

Wow, this was boring. There were a couple of mildly interesting things that happened – thee was debate on a new pipeline that a company wanted to put in and a woman disappeared in winter. But, overall, pretty slow and boring. And I didn’t see one likable thing about Dido, who seemed to just go back and forth between the men. In fact, I don’t think I really liked very many of the characters… maybe Gwen, but then I skimmed so much of the book in the end, so hard to say if she really was likable.

I’m not sure why I added it to the tbr… looking now, I see it was either nominated for or won the Giller Prize, which should have been a red flag waving me away, but if the story initially sounds interesting, I will still often try them. I see the GR description also says “Written in gorgeous prose…”, which should also be a warning to me.

maj 31, 2021, 11:08 pm

Prairie Provinces

Herbert has Lots for a Buck / Elizabeth McLachlan
4 stars

This book looks at twelve small towns on the Canadian Prairies, four towns in each of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. These are towns that have reinvented themselves to come back from dying out completely. One chapter for each town tells us the history of the town and what they’ve done to keep the town alive.

I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan, so I found this really interesting. It might have helped that I know some of the towns (and I know about Rosebud, AB and Vulcan, AB and their “claims to fame,” so to speak); however, I really do think the stories of these towns could be interesting to anyone. The author really does write the stories of the towns very well. The book reminded me a bit of CBC’s “Still Standing”, except the book includes more town history, in addition to the current situations in the towns.

Favourites of mine were Craik, SK (now an eco-village) and Neubergthal, MB (done up as a historical Mennonite village). My Dad’s background is Mennonite, so that might also have helped with the interest there. Other towns (you can guess what Vulcan is famous for): Rosebud is for the dinner theatre in town; Warner, AB for a world-class women’s hockey program; Elbow, SK for their marina, Beacham, SK for the artists in town; Inglis, MB for their “elevator row” (historical grain elevators). The title really drew me to the book, as I have family in Herbert, SK. The author did not include Herbert as one of the essays, but she mentioned a bit about it (and the title) in the epilogue.

jun 12, 2021, 4:03 pm

Northern Canada - if the authors said where in Northern Canada, exactly, I missed it!

Mrs. Mike / Benedict and Nancy Freedman
3 stars

In the early 1900s, Katherine (Kathy) is sent to Calgary, Alberta to live with her uncle due to her health, where she meets RCMP Mike. Although Kathy is only 16, they get married and move further north – where there aren’t many white women, and life is much more primitive than Kathy is used to.

Apparently this is based on a real person – I only found that out by looking at a few other reviews. I listened to the audio, which wavered in and out on holding my attention (or not). It was ok. Some parts I liked, but overall, ok. Had a hard time with a couple of parts about injured animals. I’m not sure I particularly liked any of the characters. Except for one secondary character (due to the unusual name), I tended to get those secondary characters mixed up. One of the good things, though, were descriptions of hardships encountered: loss, fire...

jul 30, 2021, 5:22 pm


The Marrow Thieves / Cherie Dimaline
3.5 stars

It’s sometime in the future, and Indigenous people are being hunted by non-Indigenous for their bone marrow, as there is something in it that helps people dream, and Indigenous are the only ones who are now able to dream. Frenchie, a 16-year old(?) Metis boy, has lost both his parents and his older brother, so he’s on his own until he comes across a group of Indigenous people travelling north.

This was good. I had a bit of trouble getting into it at the very start, but it only took a couple of chapters. I didn’t like one of the decisions Frenchie made near the end of the book, but that ended up working out better than I’d expected. I also thought the very end was unrealistic, but it was good up to that point. It’s a pretty fast read.

aug 2, 2021, 2:50 pm

Nova Scotia

The Most Precious Substance on Earth / Shashi Bhat
3.5 stars

Nina is an East Indian girl, growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is mostly vignettes of her life, starting in grade 9 in the 1990s and continuing through high school and beyond, as she becomes a teacher and navigates online dating.

I thought this was good. I liked Nina’s parents, and I liked many of the pop culture references. I was a bit confused that there was something at the beginning that never seemed to be tied up, though. I kept wondering if it would resurface later in the book, but it didn’t – unless I missed it.

aug 14, 2021, 6:17 pm


The Horseman's Graves / Jacqueline Baker
2.5 stars

This is set near the Sand Hills in Saskatchewan near the Alberta border. It starts in 1909, but quickly moves on to the next generation. I wouldn’t have known it from the story, but the majority of the farmers living nearby are German immigrants, (I think) via Russia.

All these things should have been more interesting to me with a German (via Russia) family background, and I grew up in Southern Sask and have been to the Sand Hills.

I feel like 2.5 might even be a bit generous. There was one storyline that was (somewhat) interesting, but mostly this was boring. I wasn’t all that interested, and I was confused by who some of the characters were and how they related to the story. Well, they were all in the same town/area, but otherwise… Drove me nuts the one character was simply called “the boy”. Seriously? He doesn’t have a name? Come on!

aug 14, 2021, 7:11 pm


We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir / Samra Habib
3.5 stars

Samra Habib was still a girl when her entire family came to Canada from Pakistan. They were a part of a minority group of Muslims who were discriminated against in their own country. As she grew up, she knew she didn’t see things the same as her parents and she did not want to marry her cousin in the arranged marriage that had been planned. In fact, she wasn’t interested in men at all, and thought she may be asexual. As an adult, she came to realize that she was, in fact, queer. And she learned how to reconcile that with her Muslim faith.

This was good. It did move quickly and it felt like it skipped forward fast in some cases. It was interesting to read about, though.

aug 23, 2021, 11:21 pm


The Donnelly Album / Ray Fazakas
3.5 stars

The Donnelly family was an Irish family who immigrated to Canada in the mid-1800s. They set up in the township of Biddulph, Ontario. They were rough – they got into fights, they drank, they vandalized neighbours’ barns (including arson), sabotaged competing business… The father, James, was even convicted of murder and spent time in jail. But the entire area was rough and others did these things, too. James and Johanna had seven sons and one daughter. After decades of the violence, locals got tired of it and took things into their own hands. In the end, four of the family were murdered and burned in one house, and one of the sons murdered in another.

I’ve read a couple other books on the Donnellys, so the entire story was not new to me, but I think this book had a lot more detail and more episodes of things happening. There was a LOT of detail. In addition, there were photos – of the people, the places, letters and other primary documents that the author used in his research. There was a LOT of research that went into this, but it was also a bit dry to read at times. I wanted to give it 4 stars for the extensive research, but I’ve kept my rating just under that. 3.5 stars is still good for me.

sep 3, 2021, 10:53 pm


Crow Lake / Mary Lawson
4 stars

When Kate is only 7-years old, tragedy hits her family in Northern Ontario. She and her baby sister, Bo, end up being raised by their older brothers, Luke (19-years old) and Matt (17-years old). Luke gives up his future so they can stay together, and also so Matt can finish school and continue to university (he was always the smarter one, anyway – the one expected to go to university). Kate and Matt have a bond.

Grown-up Kate, a professor in Toronto, never thought she’d fall in love, but she has. But she also has a hard time opening up to Daniel about her past and her family, even though they’ve been together for more than a year. Daniel still hasn’t even met her family.

I really liked this. It was slow-moving, but I found even the biology bits interesting. There was tension in Kate’s family, though she didn’t understand much of it when she was a kid. And the neighbours had some drama (this may be putting it lightly) going on at their place, as well. I actually read this over a decade ago, but only remembered siblings and a lake (actually it was a pond). I really didn’t remember much at all, but it was chosen as a book club book, and I’m really glad I reread it.

sep 11, 2021, 10:32 pm

>137 LibraryCin: As I was reading your review I thought "My it's been so long since I read this book, maybe I should read it again because I remember I loved it." Then I read your last 2 sentences and that sort of cements that decision. Thanks.

sep 12, 2021, 12:51 pm

okt 10, 2021, 10:04 pm


The Terror / Dan Simmons
3.25 stars

In 1845, two ships sail from England looking for the Northwest Passage. The Terror and the Erebus later become stuck in ice for three years, as the men manning the ships died not only from starvation, cold, and scurvy, but there is something stalking them. Something… they don’t know what it is but it’s white, and much bigger than the white bears they have seen. It seems to appear out of nowhere to kill, maim, or maul.

This is a mix of survival, historical fiction, and (some) horror. The horror (the “thing” out there), I found was minimal. The focus was on the survival aspect. The book is very long, and I had a hard time getting interested until the last 1/3 of the book – that last 1/3 is what brought my rating up ¼ star. And it would have been nice for the book to be much shorter. The book is told from multiple points of view at different points in time, occasionally jumping back and forth in time. By that last bit of the book where I was more interested, it was chronological.

There were a lot of men on the two ships and, although, I was able to keep what each of them did straight (at least those whose viewpoint we followed), I wasn’t able to keep straight who “belonged’ on which ship. The end was a bit vague in a couple of cases, I thought. Descriptions of the ships and workings of the ships were less interesting to me. A bit horrifying, but more interesting was the description of what happens as someone develops scurvy. Anyone looking for horror, though, this didn’t fit the bill for me at all, unfortunately. It was not scary, in my opinion.

There was a brief author’s note at the end that really just provided citations for his research. It hinted at the fact that this – the “Franklin Expedition” really happened, but I still wasn’t sure, although “Franklin Expedition” did sound familiar to me. Other reviews tell me it did, and I’ve just read a bit on wikipedia about it. That is, the two ships set out to look for the Northwest Passage and disappeared. I guess this partly explains the vagueness of the ending.

dec 9, 2021, 4:37 pm


Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition / Owen Beattie, John Geiger
4 stars

This book first looks at the Franklin Expedition in the mid-1800s to find the Northwest Passage. Franklin and his entire crew of 129 people and two ships disappeared. In the years following, others set out to find them or some clue as to what had happened. In the early 1980s, Owen Beattie, a forensic anthropologist, and a team of others set out to the graves of three of the expedition members on Beatty Island to dig them up to do autopsies to see if that would tell them what had happened.

Surprisingly, I found the second half more interesting than the first. I guess all of it was potentially interesting to me, but I was surprised to be more engrossed in the parts as the modern-day scientists dug up the graves to find extremely well-preserved bodies and to read the details of their testing and what they found. Be warned that there are photos of the bodies that were dug up; of course, there are other interesting photos, as well.

dec 13, 2021, 10:12 pm


Canada / Richard Ford
3 stars

In 1960, 15-year old Dell and his twin sister, Berner, are effectively “orphaned” when their parents are arrested for robbing a bank in North Dakota. Berner runs away and a family friend takes Dell over the Canadian border to a small town in Saskatchewan to live with and work for her brother.

The first paragraph sets things up, telling the reader of the bank robbery and also about murders, still to come. So, it starts with a “bang”, but after that, the book moves pretty slowly. That being said, I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan and thought the descriptions were very well done. It’s also always fun to recognize places, and there were a few really small towns mentioned nearby to where I lived. Overall, I’m considering this one “ok”.

dec 22, 2021, 9:22 pm


How Hard Can it Be? / Peter Wiebe, Diana Cruchley
3 stars

This is anecdotes of Peter Wiebe’s life, as told by him to his daughter. He was a Mennonite born in Saskatchewan and later lived in British Columbia. There was nothing extraordinary about his life, but his daughter wanted his memories to be written.

Peter Wiebe was a great-uncle of mine. I don’t believe Dad ever met him. The “stories” (more anecdotes, as they range from one paragraph to five or six, mostly) are ok. They are in Peter’s words, exactly; Diana did not edit them. They are not arranged chronologically, but each chapter is a topic. There is info about Canadian Prairie history, Mennonites in Western Canada, and life in general throughout the 20th century. Given that names are often reused in Mennonite families, the names were often familiar to me, even though they they weren’t people I actually know. And I “recognized” some of the situations and stories told, as similar to other situations and stories that I’ve heard in my family. There are photos included, and any info inserted by Diana is included in the captions to the photos, as well as a short introduction.

dec 26, 2021, 3:38 pm

British Columbia

Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast / Bill Richardson
3 stars

50-something year old twins, Virgil and Hector, run a bed & breakfast on a small island between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. There really isn’t much to do there beyond relax and read. Yet, the B&B has plenty of guests and the brothers are kept busy. This book includes anecdotes from both brothers, as well as some of the people who have stayed with them. Also included are a few “top 10” books (and authors) with various themes.

This is a bit of Canadian humour, parts made me smile and a few even made me laugh. I was ready to rate it “good” and I (mostly) did like it, but more so in the first half. The second half felt like it got a bit too philosophical for my liking. I liked that so many of the top 10 lists included Canadian authors.

dec 27, 2021, 11:26 am

>144 LibraryCin: I always wanted to go stay there. Too bad it's fictional.

jan 5, 2022, 10:21 pm


Forgiveness / Mark Sakamoto
4 stars

Mark Sakamoto’s grandparents were on two different sides of WWII. His maternal grandfather fought in the war and was captured and spent years as a prisoner of war, first in Hong Kong, then in Japan. Mark’s paternal grandmother, a Japanese-Canadian, and her family lost their home and livelihood in BC and were sent to rural Alberta to farm. Mark and his brother were born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta. After Mark’s parents marriage ended, his mother had a really hard time (to put it lightly, but trying not to give too much away in my summary).

The summaries of this book make it sound like it’s all WWII, but it’s not. I found the book to be an entire biography of his grandparents, then his own – with a focus on his relationship with his mom. I really liked this. A little “bonus” for me was that Mark’s wife is from Assiniboia, Sask, a small town about 45 minutes from the town I grew up in.

jan 19, 2022, 9:52 pm


Jonny Appleseed / Joshua Whitehead
2 stars

Not really much of a story to this – Jonny is a gay indigenous boy growing up on the rez, and he moves to Winnipeg when he gets older, where he becomes a prostitute (my mistake – apparently not a prostitute, but a cybersex worker).

It was not in chronological order, and it was quite sexually graphic at times. The author narrated the audio – I rarely lost focus, but he did have a monotone voice. Turns out there might have been more of a “plot” than I thought (although, still kind of flimsy, I think), so maybe I did miss more than I thought. For some reason, I had it in my head that indigenous 2-spirit people were more accepted in indigenous cultures than gay people in white cultures, but (at least in this book) that doesn’t appear to be the case.

jan 21, 2022, 10:14 pm


Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan 3 / Jo-Anne Christensen
4 stars

This is the third book of Saskatchewan ghost stories written by this author. This one had a few chapters that were a bit different, though. In addition to the ghost stories from around the province, she interviewed a few groups of ghost hunters based in Saskatchewan.

This had me scared enough – when reading by myself at night – to not head down to the basement after reading, before bed, to scoop the cat’s litter box down there! The chapters on the ghost hunters was unexpected, but surprisingly interesting. Although (sadly), none of the ghost stories were really near where I grew up, I quite liked this one.

jan 29, 2022, 4:05 pm

Northern Canada

Brian's Return / Gary Paulsen
3 stars

This fourth book in the series has Brian back at home in the city, but longing to be back in nature and really not fitting in. He manages to convince his counsellor and his mom that he should head back out to the wilderness.

This one was super short, so only about ½ of it was in the wilderness. Which for me is the most interesting part. Also, very unrealistic – to think the adults would let him go back on his own (he was supposed to be meeting up with someone, but how come an adult didn’t accompany him that far?). I did find the author’s note at the end very interesting, though.

mar 10, 2022, 10:30 pm

Nova Scotia

The Clay Girl / Heather Tucker
2.5 stars

Ari (Hariet) is only 8-years old when her abusive father shoots himself. Ari heads to Nova Scotia to live with her aunts. Her four older sisters… I’m not quite sure where they went. Even the summary so far is partly from the summaries online. Ari goes back and forth between her abusive mother in Ontario and her aunts. Luckily for Ari, her new stepfather (Len) is kind and caring. Even so, Ari has her imaginary friend, Jasper the seahorse, to help her along.

Ok, so it was really hard to follow, especially at the start. I don’t like having to use an online summary to get me up to speed with what is happening as I read a book, but I didn’t like the way it was written, as there was too much reading between the lines to figure out what was going on much of the time (though not all the time).

When I could figure out what was going on, it was good. But too hard to figure that out in too many places. Especially at the start, it didn’t help that all of Ari’s older sisters had names that started with J, in addition to Jasper. It also took a while to figure out who/what the heck Jasper was (and maybe I never would have without the online summary?). There were some things I liked – Ari’s relationship with Mikey, especially. Mikey was a stepbrother later on (not Len’s son, but the son of a different (abusive) stepfather later). I also liked Ari’s relationship with Len. I did think the story was good, but I did not like the way it was written, as it was just too hard to follow through much of the book.

apr 20, 2022, 5:25 pm

British Columbia

Wild Awake / Hilary T. Smith
3 stars

Kiri’s parents are away on a cruise and have left her on her own. I think she’s 17? She is part of a musical duo with her best friend, Lukas, and they have Battle of the Bands coming up. Kiri is also a very good piano player and has a test(? competition?) coming up. When she receives a strange phone call about her (long-dead) sister, she learns something (big) her parents never told her about her sister’s death. This starts a series of events that has Kiri spiralling out of control.

I didn’t like Kiri, nor many of the choices she made. The book became kind of chaotic as we moved more and more toward the end. I did like the Vancouver setting – it’s always fun recognizing places. I also thought the idea of Kiri never learning what she does about her sister’s death until the start of this book (5 years later) is pretty unrealistic. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have heard it somewhere, even if not from her parents or brother. The book still (at least more at the start and throughout the first half or so) interested me enough to consider it “ok”.

maj 14, 2022, 10:13 pm

Prince Edward Island

Anne of Green Gables / L. M. Montgomery
4 stars

Anne is 11-years old and an orphan when she is brought to middle-aged siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island. They had sent word that they wanted a boy to help with the chores, but there was a miscommunication and they ended up with a girl. They hadn’t the heart to send back the chatty girl who wormed her way into their hearts, despite all the foibles she made along the way.

This was a reread. I read it as a teenager. For this reread, I listened to an audio version. The CBC mini-series from the mid-80s with Megan Follows is one of my all-time favourite movies. Because of that, there was no way I could picture anything else but the characters in that movie as I listened to the book. But that’s ok by me. The book had a few additional happenings that they didn’t put in the movie and the movie expanded on some of the happenings in the book. I don’t know how anyone could not help but love Anne. (Well, to be honest, I’d probably have a harder time of it in real life – as an adult, anyway; I’m sure as a kid, I would have loved her.)

maj 16, 2022, 10:29 pm

British Columbia

Offshore / Catherine Dook
3.5 stars

Catherine and her husband John live on a boat off the coast of British Columbia. This book details a few short sailing trips they took, mostly with the intention of being gone longer than they were, turning back mostly due to weather issues (and not really being very good sailors!). On the trip where they’d hoped to sail to Hawaii, they brought two additional crew members, Aussie John and Kiwi John; at that point, Catherine’s husband was “John Darling”.

This was short and I had to shake my head a bit at the foibles. But it was entertaining and a bit amusing with some humour thrown in. I enjoyed it.

Redigeret: maj 29, 2022, 4:33 pm

British Columbia

The Last Wild Wolves / Ian McAllister.
4.5 stars

The author is a photographer and lives on the northern coast of British Columbia. He has taken many wildlife photos and helped with studies of the local wolf populations where he is. This is a coffee-table-style book with plenty of large photographs, alongside information about the wolves, and an epilogue that includes information about the destruction and conservation of the area.

Oh, they are beautiful. And sadly, so vilified. I hate people. I hate hunters – there are stories in the epilogue of some awful hunters. I hate the humans behind the companies that only want to make money and don’t care what they destroy to do it, as they destroy the habitats for most animals. These wolves are in an area that is less disturbed by humans, but it’s hard to say if that will last.

Getting beyond that, the wolves and the photos are beautiful. The area itself is beautiful, and there are a few photos that are not of the wolves, though of course, the bulk of the photos are. The information about the wolves was interesting – I didn’t know that wolves and ravens have a symbiotic relationship; wolves will hunt and eat many birds, but there has never been remains of ravens found in their scat. There is also a 20-ish minute DVD included with the book, a short documentary that says some of the same as what the book says, but of course the “photos” are now a video. And have I mentioned how beautiful they are!?

jun 19, 2022, 4:28 pm


Alone Together: A Pandemic Photo Essay / Leah Hennel
5 stars

Leah Hennel is a Calgary photographer who was working for Alberta Health Services before the COVID-19 pandemic began. During the pandemic, she was there to take photos in the hospitals, at COVID testing sites, at vaccine clinics, and more. The photos in the book start with testing, progress through various groups and celebrations and how they handled distancing and lockdowns, continue in the ICUs and hospitals, and on to vaccine clinics.

Some of these photos are very powerful. There was a photo that made the rounds early in the pandemic here in the Calgary media and on social media, so it extended to Canada and likely beyond: a doctor is on his knees on the phone with his forehead in his hand as he tells a family their loved one has died. This book has many more photos and stories to go with them. Not all sad, though. There is a photo of a 90-something year old man with a party hat as he gets his first vaccine. There are photos of the therapy dogs coming to “visit” with hospital staff to try to relieve some of the stress. A powerful look at the pandemic. (I almost said “back” at the pandemic, but it is still happening.)

jul 11, 2022, 10:20 pm


They Said This Would be Fun / Eternity Martis
3 stars

The author grew up in the diverse Canadian city of Toronto, but decided to move to the smaller city of London, Ontario for university. Unfortunately, London was not so diverse. As a woman of “mixed” race – her mother was Pakistani and her father (whom she did not have a relationship with) from the Caribbean – she stuck out and had a hard time at her new school. University was supposed to be fun – full of friends and parties. Though she did go to London with a friend, they grew apart during their time there. And Eternity had a number of toxic relationships, and was treated to many microaggressions and abuses.

As someone who went to university about 30 years ago, and even then, wasn’t “into” partying or drinking, I enjoyed her chapters about her family and relationships more than the partying/drinking/campus/student life. The book (though I listened to the audio) read sort of like essays. Obviously as a middle-aged white woman, I am not the target audience! Of course, Eternity brought in some stats to go along with her own experiences. I found the stats easier to swallow, and of course, she went through what she went through, but I questioned some of her generalizations about white people; many of the “stereotypes” or generalizations (about white or black people) she mentioned were things I had never heard of. That’s not to say they aren’t stereotypes, but if they are, I hadn’t heard of (many of) them before.

I feel badly for this kind of review. I hate to criticize, as I know she wrote what she did experience. Am I being a “defensive” white person? I’d like to think not, but I don’t know. The author read the audio herself and did a fine job.

aug 8, 2022, 10:31 pm


Remembering the Bones / Frances Itani
3.5 stars

79-year old Georgie is on her way to the airport as she has been invited by Queen Elizabeth to their shared 80th birthday celebration. Unfortunately, Georgie’s car goes off an embankment and lands in a ravine. Georgie is alive, but too hurt to move from where she landed and she and her car are not visible from the road. As she waits for rescue, she goes through memories of her family and her life.

This was good. The initial crash brought me in and although the memories initially weren’t as interesting, I found it picked up a bit when Georgie got married, so I liked the second half of the story better. I also liked the comparisons to “Lilibet’s” (Queen Elizabeth’s) life and the little royal tidbits brought in that way. I thought it was amusing that all the women in Georgie’s family had names that shortened into “male” names: Phil, Fred (she had an Aunt and Uncle Fred when her Aunt Fred married a Fred), Grand Dan… (ok, not quite all, but most).

aug 13, 2022, 10:40 pm


The Castleton Massacre: Survivors' Stories of the Killins Femicide / Sharon Cook, Margaret Carson
4.5 stars

In May 1963, Robert Killins, a very intelligent man and a former United Church minister, murdered his (estranged) wife, his daughter, his sister, and his wife’s youngest daughter. He’d been stalking his wife and daughter for years since wife Florence tried to leave and travelled across the country from B.C. to Ontario to get away. His wife and daughter were both pregnant at the time of the murders. Two more of Florence’s children watched in horror as the murders happened, and were able to get away. They were 12- (Margaret) and 10-years (Brian) old at the time.

The book backs up in time to give a biography of both families – beginning with Robert’s and Florence’s parents, then Robert and Florence and their siblings and everything leading to 1963. It also included a section after the murders where Margaret and Brian came to live with their Uncle Harold and his wife and their youngest daughter (a teenager, the only child still living at home), Sharon, and the two tried to come to terms with what had happened and what they’d witnessed. The last bit of the book also talks about domestic abuse in Canada, in general. Margaret and Sharon are the authors of the book. They undertook a lot of research and got oral histories from many of the people still alive who remember it.

Wow! First a bit of advice – don’t read the chapter that describes the murders close to bedtime! It was terrifying and violent. With one of the authors having been there and the oral histories given by her brother who was also there and a couple of other people who tried to help, all put together, you get an awful feeling of being hunted (as I’m sure both Margaret and Brian felt)! That being said, I am a fan of true crime, and I do like biographies, so all put together, a very very good book. And murders I had never heard of before this.

aug 20, 2022, 11:59 pm

British Columbia

Five Little Indians / Michelle Good
3.5 stars

This book follows a few First Nations people who went to a residential school in B.C. when they were young. It follows them from the school, as they leave, and as they try to make lives for themselves after the traumas they experienced at the school. They wind in and out of each other’s lives.

Lucy is 16 when she is put on a bus to Vancouver from the school; luckily she knows Maisie who left the school a year earlier; unfortunately, she does get into a sticky situation before making it to Maisie’s place. Kenny managed to escape the school when he was younger, but he and Lucy had crushes on each other back then. Carla is a friend of Maisie’s. Howie gets into trouble with the law when he encounters “Brother” from the school as an adult.

I listened to the audio book. It was good. I wasn’t as interested in Carla’s story, so I missed a few things there. I also don’t think I liked Carla very much; she was very pushy. The book jumped between characters, and it often jumped forward large amounts of time, so at the start of some of the chapters I needed to try to figure out how many years later it was (and there was one bit with Carla that felt like the timing was out of sync with her character vs the rest of the story… but I’m not sure – that’s where I lost a bit of interest and missed a few things). And of course, there were memories of the school for all of them. There was at least one event that I think I missed altogether and when it was mentioned later in the book, I wondered what exactly had happened about that, so not sure if I missed it or it just wasn’t detailed or what happened there.

sep 25, 2022, 3:26 pm


The Innocents / Michael Crummey
2 stars

When Ada and Evered’s parent both die, they are still young. It’s the 19th century and they live in an isolated area in Newfoundland. They do what they can to survive.

I listened to the audio. It was slow-moving and I couldn’t get interested, though the Newfoundland accents and phrases are fun. I missed much of what happened in the book, but I didn’t really care, either. I’m not sure how old the kids were when their parents died and not sure how old they were at the end of the book, either. It was a bit ugly as they became teenagers with no one else around, though. When I saw this book was nominated for a few awards, that explained it for me (my not liking it).

sep 30, 2022, 10:56 pm


The War in the Country / Thomas F. Pawlick
4 stars

The author of this book is looking at life in rural areas with a focus on eastern Ontario. More specifically, he is looking at family farms vs factory farms, as well as mining rights vs indigenous land claims and sub- vs surface rights of landowners.

It seems the government is making things more and more difficult for smaller operations. Large corporations not only get subsidies, but smaller operations are hit with regulations they couldn’t possibly afford to meet, and in a lot of cases, regulations that just make no sense for what they are doing.

Some examples include the vegetarian restaurant told they needed to replace their cedar counter with stainless steel, stainless steel being needed for meat… but they don’t serve meat; but they might one day; well we’ll get stainless steel if that happens; nope, too bad, you need to do it now. Or the small butcher shop that doesn’t serve food to eat inside his shop but is suddenly required to install washrooms. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Both these businesses were asked to do much more than this, as their own expense, of course. Growing organic food is much more difficult than it should be, etc.

The author does end the book with lots of suggestions to fix these issues, but the political will is needed to do it and that’s currently not there, with large corporate lobby groups holding the purse strings of many politicians. Urban folks are asked to become educated to help rural folks stand up for these things.

dec 4, 2022, 11:07 pm


Fountaineville / C. A. Simonsen
3 stars

In the late 1950s, Davis is the youngest of four (living) siblings in a rural area on the Prairies (Saskatchewan, I think). His oldest brother died in Korea. His only sister, Gracie (whom he is closest to) is dating the local minister’s son. He has two twin brothers. Davis is 11/12 years old, I believe. There is an older neighbour whose yard Davis passes by every day who intrigues him. But Davis sees something very unusual (and a bit scary for him) one day. Davis spent a lot of time with the elderly people in town (a “witch” he met who was telling a “story with a story”, as well as some of the men at the local Legion Hall), while at the same time dealing with things happening at home.

This was ok. I rarely enjoy stories within the main story. This one took up a lot of the book, and I ended up skimming through much of it (the story within, that is). Of course, it did mean something in the end. I found the family issues more interesting than either the additional story or the time spent with the older people.

Redigeret: dec 16, 2022, 3:53 pm


The Wife's Tale / Lori Lansens
3.5 stars

Mary is obese and much of her thought is taken up with her weight and food. On their 25th anniversary, her husband “Gooch” (Jimmy Gooch) has left her with no notice. He just didn’t come home. Mary, although she has never or rarely left her small hometown in Ontario, takes it upon herself to follow clues first to Toronto, then to California, to try to find him.

The first half of the book was hard to read with all the moaning about her weight and food, etc. But maybe that is accurate for some people battling obesity? It’s nice to see Mary become somewhat independent (with the help of people in the small town in California she ends up in). The ending was left a little bit open, but I suppose in doing that, that might mean something, too.

dec 16, 2022, 3:53 pm


All Together Now / Alan Doyle
4.25 stars

Alan Doyle, lead singer of Great Big Sea, was missing performing when COVID hit. In the summer of 2020, he wrote some stories, as if he’s in a pub telling friends, and published it in this book.

I listened to the audio read by him, and I think that’s the way this story should be “read”. He is telling the stories as if he’s in a pub, and one of them, in particular (my favourite) – I just don’t see how it would translate on paper. It was the story of “dying laughing” and I was! The way he tells it – with his own laughter (fake laughter, but he does it so well...) – is just incredible and the laughter is so infectious! Other stories focused on Newfoundland itself, as well as some of his travels with GBS and the other famous people they met. It’s fun to hear how starstruck a star themselves can be sometimes. One of the stories just didn’t interest me much, but the rest were really good, so 4 stars, overall, for the book, but the extra ¼ star (as I do) for an amazing audio book.

jan 4, 2023, 11:07 pm


Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
3 stars

The author grew up in Saskatchewan; she is Metis (or “halfbreed” is the word she uses: part Cree (indigenous), and part European), descended from Gabriel Dumont. Her family was poor and she never really got out of the poverty, even as she married, had kids, moved to B.C. and Alberta, etc. She also ended up drinking, doing drugs… I think prostitution, too, but (unless I missed it), she only hinted at it.

I maybe made a mistake in listening to the audio. Maria herself read it, but she has a very monotone voice. I thought that I was still able to focus in the first half or so of the book, but I did miss things as the book continued, and I suspect I missed more earlier in the book than I originally thought.

jan 9, 2023, 10:56 pm


The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat
4 stars

This book is a combination fiction, memoir, and true crime. The author goes back and forth between telling her fictional story… which (in some ways) mimics the true crime portion of the story as she writes about her research into the crime. The chapters alternate between the fiction and the memoir.

The fictional story is set in the 90s, and is from the POV of a woman, Louise, marrying a man, Jake, who has a 12-year old son, Daniel. Louise is a teacher and knows that Daniel often gets into trouble, so she is concerned about how this will go as she becomes his stepmother. The true crime portion of the story is about a boy (Bobby Cook) in small town Alberta who, in his 20s, was convicted and hanged in 1960 for murdering his family: his father, stepmother, and five younger half-siblings. This was the last execution in Alberta.

It seems kind of an odd mix, but it worked really well for me. I liked that the character Louise would “talk” to the author, usually in between chapters, but occasionally in the memoir chapters, as well, as Louise and the author Betty figured out what the fictional Louise’s story would be and how similar it would be to Bobby Cook’s story. I liked both the fictional story, and I found the true crime portion of the story quite interesting, as well. Might have to look further into Robert Raymond Cook.

feb 2, 2023, 11:35 pm

British Columbia

Last Winter / Carrie Mac
3.5 stars

Early in the book, we learn that 5 children died in an avalanche. One adult also died. 8-year old Ruby was one of 2 children who made it out alive, along with one other adult.

Leading up to the avalanche, we follow Ruby, her mother Fiona, who has a mental illness, and Ruby’s father Gus, who is a former Olympic snowboarder and now runs a backcountry guiding company and was one of the adults on the trip when the avalanche happened. Fiona and Gus’s relationship is in bad shape and they fight a lot. Fiona often does not take her medication, so is quite shocking in some of the things she says and does with friends.

It took me a long time to get “into” the book. It was hard to follow for the first 1/3 to ½ of the book, as there were a lot of characters I had trouble keeping straight (who was who, and how are they “related”?). There were also a couple of shifts in time that I struggled with. Fiona was extremely unlikable; I guess I should try to have more sympathy, but it’s hard when she won’t take her mediation. But, the book really picked up in the second half as the avalanche hit, along with the aftermath.

feb 22, 2023, 10:44 pm


The Barren Grounds / David A. Robertson
2.25 stars

Morgan and Eli are indigenous kids, foster kids in a white home. Morgan is a sulky teenager, always in a bad mood, and Eli is younger. When they hide in the attic one day, Eli has a drawing he puts up on the wall that comes to life and pulls them through to another world of talking animals and learning of their indigenous culture.

Fantasy, talking animals – definitely not my thing. At first, I really did not like Morgan (sulky, complaining teenagers), but I would have been happier with a story in the real world. I listened to the audio and tuned out much of the other world stuff. I had a gist of some of what was going on, but it just wasn’t that interesting to me. And… talking animals. No.

mar 1, 2023, 10:35 pm


Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay.
3.5 stars

In the late 19th century, Chief Piapot lived, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan (or what became such), through the coming of guns, the extinction of the buffalo, white man coming to take the land, the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) coming, and the train coming to the West. He liaised between the Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot peoples. He knew a few languages (including French and English) and negotiated with the Canadian government for the treaties.

I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, so I recognized names of places that had been named after some of the people (including a town called Piapot), and I recognized names of people who were historically in the area (Sitting Bull probably being the most well-known, and Gabriel Dumont made a few appearances). It appears the author did a lot of good research and seems to have portrayed him well. I have to say the end was pretty exciting, when Piapot really did stop the train!

mar 4, 2023, 11:09 pm


The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen
3.25 stars

It’s the late 19th century. Ott has lost his grandfather and he had promised to take his body to rest with his grandmother somewhere in the Plains of the U.S. He takes his old mule, Sir Lucien, who has to pull the wagon with the coffin and they set out from (what would later become) Southern Saskatchewan to likely somewhere in South Dakota to deliver his grandfather. He bumbles his way along and meets many characters on the way there and back, including picking up a dog.

To be honest, I was bored through the first third or so of the book. For some reason, the way to drop off his grandfather just didn’t peak my interest at all. But it picked up and got better for me as the book continued on, when Ott first ended up at a brothel as he turned around to head home.

From there, he continued on and met up with various Indigenous peoples, Metis, a thief, a runaway slave from Louisiana (though technically free, her master didn’t seem to agree), and more. And it was harsh, travelling back on foot and by mule (by the way home, his wagon had disintegrated). I think his concern for his animals helped pull me in, eventually, too. It’s another book where (being originally from Southern Saskatchewan), I did recognize some place and people names, which is always kind of fun.

apr 12, 2023, 12:56 pm

You do a great job of summarizing a book and also your reactions. Thanks.

apr 12, 2023, 9:11 pm

>171 gypsysmom: Aw, thank you!

apr 15, 2023, 4:01 pm


The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Percy was born with FSS (Famous Someone Syndrome), where his hands, feet, and lips are all oversized; he also has an extremely large wine-red/purple “stain” on his face. He lives in St. John’s, Nfld with his beautiful single mom and her boarder, who also teaches at Percy’s school. A frequent visitor to their house is his mom’s friend, Medina. He also realizes there will never be a girl/woman who will love him or have sex with him; he figures his only hope is his mother. The story follows Percy from about 5 years old to 15.

Ok, as distasteful as that is, the story itself wasn’t bad. Initially, it reminded me of John Irving. It was pretty slow, though. It did pick up for me as I continued on, so I temporarily thought I might rate is just a bit higher, until something at the end of the book brought my rating back down to “ok”. It was apparently set in the 1950s and 60s, but I don’t recall if that was explicitly stated in the book. There was some humour and plenty of criticism of the Catholic Church.

apr 28, 2023, 11:21 pm


The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets / Sarah Miller
4.25 stars

The Dionne quintuplets were born in rural Ontario in 1934. It was the Depression and their parents had no idea how they would pay to take care of 5 more kids! They were the first set of quintuplets who all lived. But the doctor who took care of them was so careful and cautious, he separated the quints into an entirely new, separate building across the street from their parents and other siblings, taken care of full-time by rotating nurses. They were so careful, the family was rarely able to visit. The Ontario government took over their care, supposedly so they wouldn’t be paraded around the U.S. Instead they were paraded out in front of the crowds who came to see them in their rural Ontario “home”. It was only when they were almost 10-years old did their parents win back custody of their own children.

Wow, those kids certainly did not have a normal childhood. Initially, they didn’t know any different, but when they finally were back with their family, they had no idea what a “normal” life was like. They’d never had to do any work before, everything was given to them and/or done for them. The parents suffered greatly, as well. They were harsh when they got the girls back; they were trying to provide a normal life for them, but they didn’t seem to have any inkling of how hard this was for the girls.

I don’t remember when the fictional version that I read of the Dionnes’ story ended, but this one continued right up to publication in 2018, when two of the sisters were still alive. I feel like the fictional book I read didn’t follow them into adulthood, so it was interesting to read that, too.

I’m giving this an extra ¼ star because I feel like this was researched so very well and the author tried to find a middle ground with all the melodrama and exaggeration and heightened emotions that seemed to happen with interviews with all parties. I feel like this is a well-rounded version, and I guess I can’t really say it’s the best version of what happened (since I’ve only read the one other (fictional) book about the quints), but I feel like it might be -- with the way it was researched and told.

maj 8, 2023, 10:50 pm


Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees.
2 stars

This was set in the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta near the British Columbia border. During the early 20th century, there were a few interesting happenings in the area, but none was the focus of the book, though they were mentioned (a rock slide and a couple of coal mine disasters). I think the bulk of the story(ies?) - maybe all? - seemed to happen during WWII.

I initially thought it was short stories as I started reading – there were different characters in each chapter (at first); I also thought there were different time periods, but one of the characters from (what I thought was) one time period appeared in another later on. So, either time travel or I was mistaken on different time periods? Unlikely it was time travel! There were weird random pages/paragraphs (in different font) referring to “you” – none of that made sense to me. I thought this book was odd, and despite being in an area not too far from where I am and somewhere I’ve been, I did not like this. Likely a good reason for that is the writing style.

maj 14, 2023, 12:14 am


Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya Talaga
4.5 stars

There are all kinds of issues on indigenous reservations in Canada. Education is just one of them. In 2000(?), a group of indigenous people built and started running a high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario for those students living north who didn’t have a high school to go to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before some of those kids – many who were away from home for the first time, who had never been in a city before, a new culture, a new language, no (or not many) family or friends to help – started disappearing. And dying. Over 11 years, seven teenagers died.

The Thunder Bay police did very little to help, often not even contacting the families on the reserves to let them know their kids had disappeared. In some cases, they went too long before starting to look for the kids. Five of the kids were found in the river, and in most cases, just written off as “no foul play suspected”. But the indigenous people running the school, the families and friends question this. It was so unlike these kids to just get drunk and drown in the river. It has never really been figured out what exactly happened to these kids.

Wow, this is so sad. And aggravating that not enough is being done to help the indigenous kids and their communities. It’s an eye-opener and definitely worth reading. There are some repetitive bits and the author kind of went all over the place sometimes – between telling the kids’ stories, then working in other information about other people or communities. But really worth the read.

jun 10, 2023, 5:12 pm

British Columbia

Tell it to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami
4.25 stars

Varsha is 13-years old (or 12?) when her half brother, Hemant, is born. Varsha’s had a tough life until now: her mother was leaving her father when she was in a car crash and died. Not long after, her father headed to India to bring home a new bride. Varsha is so scared of her new Mama leaving that she hides Suman’s passport so she is unable to.

Why might Suman want to leave? Abuse. It’s why Varsha’s mother tried to leave. When Vikram (Varsha’s father) decides to rent out the little house behind theirs in this tiny rural area in B.C. a former classmate (whom he does not remember), Anu, comes from NYC in hopes of getting some writing done. While there, she befriends Suman and Vikram’s mother, Akka. And slowly figures out something is wrong with the family.

This was told from many different points of view, including Suman, Anu, Varsha, and Hemant, so we got to see almost everyone’s perspective of what was going on. Varsha became very possessive – she was very controlling (reminiscent of her father?); I initially felt badly for her, but came to quite dislike her. And the end? I liked it although many might not due to it being open-ended, so we don’t really know how it continues or what happens, though I suppose we can guess. I think this would make a good book club book with lots to discuss.

jun 13, 2023, 11:30 pm


The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edugyan
3 stars

In the 1960s, Samuel and his wife Maud live in Calgary, Alberta. They had immigrated from Ghana (or the Gold Coast, as it was called when they lived there when younger, and as they still call it). When Samuel’s uncle (in small town Alberta) dies and leaves his house and land to Samuel, he up and moves his family (they also have twin daughters) to this small town. The twins are 12 or 13-years old and bring their “friend” (really, an acquaintance, as they don’t really have friends), Ama, with them for the summer while her parents are in France.

This was pretty slow-moving, but it was better than I expected. I didn’t like the first book I read by this author (can’t currently recall the title), but I decided to give this a try, anyway. Wow, those twins… something a little (a lot) wrong in their heads. Did not like the twins at all. In fact, none of the characters were particularly likable (oh, Ama’s likable, but that’s about it; felt really bad for her, actually). But the story was ok, better than expected.

jun 14, 2023, 12:04 pm

>178 LibraryCin: I haven't read this book by Edugyan but I've liked the others of hers that I read. Half Blood Blues was her debut and it won the Giller Prize. It mostly took place in Europe during World War II. Washington Black was quite a bit more ambitious. The person of the title was a slave who was removed from the plantation by a white man who thought his artistry would be useful to illustrate scientific findings. Washington travels with this man for a while and then is abandoned by him in the Arctic when he is only 14. As a black man, Washington finds that his accomplishments are quite often credited to a white person but he hopes to change that.

Does that ring any bells for you?

jun 14, 2023, 9:10 pm

>179 gypsysmom: That's the one I didn't like: Half Blood Blues. But then, the fact that it won the Giller explains that. LOL!

jun 16, 2023, 11:05 pm


The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat
3.5 stars

In the 1930s, Farley Mowat and his parents moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They wanted a dog. His father wanted a hunting dog, but since that was too expensive, his mother just bought a dog a little boy was selling for cheap door-to-door. They called him Mutt. This book includes stories that mostly focus on Mutt.

Actually my favourite chapter was the one with the two owls (Mowat used those owls in his fictional kids’ story, “Owls in the Family”). The book was more like short stories, but that’s ok. Mutt was a character. A lot of people seem to consider this a children’s book, but I didn’t think it read that way. A boy and his dog, sure. I suppose that would appeal, but it didn’t seem particularly written for kids. I’m rating it good.

jun 25, 2023, 4:28 pm


Correction Road / Glen Dresser
3 stars

Alberta is a rat-free province (this is true), and to be that way, there are people staffed at the Saskatchewan border to kill them when they are found. It’s 1979 and Hugh is one of those people. Joan, who works at the liquor store, is his girlfriend, though neither seems really interested in the other. In fact, when Joan meets Walt, who works at the museum, she doesn’t act on her interest in him, but it’s there. And it’s mutual.

This is a pretty slow story. Not much to it. Overall, I’m rating it ok, though. I’m not thrilled about rats being poisoned at the border. None of the people were terribly likable or interesting. I was a child in 1979, so some of the 70s references (tv, music, etc) were kind of fun. Also, my grandparents, then parents sold farm equipment, so it was interesting for me to read about the different farm equipment, though this is unlikely to be of interest to many.

Redigeret: okt 24, 2023, 10:43 pm


A Book in Every Hand: Public Libraries in Saskatchewan / Don Kerr
3.5 stars

This is a history of public libraries in Saskatchewan, with a focus on the regional library system that helped bring books and libraries to rural areas. Saskatchewan once had one of the worst library systems in the country, but it made real efforts to bring it up to one of the best (according to the author and the stats he interpreted).

It doesn’t sound like a super-exciting read, and probably for a lot of people, it may not be. It is probably more of interest to librarians and/or people from Saskatchewan who use or once used their public/regional libraries. I am both a librarian and I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and used our local branch of the Chinook Regional Library. I did find it interesting (mostly) to read about how the different regional systems were formed, the politics, etc. There were a lot of stats and economics included, as well, which all sounds not overly exciting, but it’s written in an accessible way. I did recognize a couple of names, even. Overall, I’m rating this good, but it’s likely to appeal to a pretty specialized audience.

Redigeret: okt 24, 2023, 10:45 pm

Is it just me because I'm originally from Saskatchewan or are there a lot of authors from Sask or who set a book in Sask?

I have almost as many or more books that I read set in Sask than in Alberta. Oh, even more than I've read set in BC!!! Only Ontario has more on my list.

ETA: Oh, my mistake. I have one more read set in BC than in Sask. But very close. And quite a few more in Sask than in Alberta.

okt 26, 2023, 8:14 pm

>184 LibraryCin: I think perhaps being from a province like SK or MB makes one search out local writers and stories. I have more books from MB than SK on my list but the books from AB are a lot less than either. I know I tried for a number of years to try to read a book set in each province and territory and it was always quite a struggle to find books for AB. (PEI was also hard but that kind of makes sense given its smaller population.)

okt 26, 2023, 10:50 pm

>185 gypsysmom: I did wonder if that was why I had so many.

I only have 7 for Manitoba! 15 for Alberta, and 21 for Saskatchewan.

okt 27, 2023, 12:08 pm

>186 LibraryCin: I can recommend lots from Manitoba if you want to add to your numbers.

okt 28, 2023, 2:17 pm

>187 gypsysmom: You can mention a few, but I already have so many on my tbr... But I will take a look. :-)

okt 29, 2023, 1:31 pm

>188 LibraryCin: My top recommendations, if you haven't read them, would be Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy, The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, Settlers of the Marsh by Frederick Philip Grove and The Break by Katherena Vermette. The first three are quite old but really wonderful evocations of the time and place in which they are set. The Break is more modern and set in the city (whereas the others are rural).

okt 29, 2023, 2:53 pm

>189 gypsysmom: Thank you!

nov 22, 2023, 10:46 pm


Up Ghost River / Edmund Metatawabin
4 stars

8-year old Indigenous boy, Edmund, was forced to go to a residential school in Northern Ontario in the 1950s and ‘60s. He didn’t want to go but his mother insisted. His mother was very Catholic and trusted that they would take good care of him. Of course, while at St. Anne’s school, the nuns and priests were abusive to him and others. I was going to mention some of the abuses, but I’ve decided not to; a couple of things were not things I’d heard previously. And for Ed, it got worse after he left for high school in a bigger city.

He did marry and have children, and get a university degree, but he also became an alcoholic. In this memoir, Ed details all of this and more.

As mentioned in my summary, despite having read quite a bit about residential schools, there were still a couple of surprising things (not good surprising). Of course, when he finished school, he had issues (the alcoholism), but it was good to see how he got himself better and is doing good to help others, as well. I thought this was really good.

Redigeret: dec 29, 2023, 4:05 pm

British Columbia

Greenwood / Michael Christie
4 stars

In 2038, Jake works on Greenwood Island in British Columbia; it’s one of the only truly livable/habitable places left with its giant trees. A biologist, Jake loves living here, though she’s not as enamoured with the job, touring around “Pilgrims” (tourists). Unfortunately, she’s also discovered a couple of trees that appear to be sick; these trees are hundreds of years old.

Her ex-fiance (a lawyer) shows up and books a private tour with her to tell her she might actually “own” the island, given her family history and the history of the island (that is, it may be part of an inheritance for her). The book continues by backing up in time through a few generations of Greenwoods to when Jake’s grandmother was a baby… and one generation earlier in 1908 when Jake’s great-grandfather was a kid (along with his brother). The brothers were very different: Everett ended up a vagrant and in jail; Harris was hugely wealthy via his lumber business, cutting down all the beautiful trees that Jake loves so much.

The bulk of the story followed Harris and Everett and that’s what I liked the best. Have to admit it took a short bit for me to get interested and to figure out what was happening and who the different characters were as we went back in time. I liked the way this one was done: we actually started in 2038, and gradually made our way to 1908 through the generations, then moved forward again back to 2038.

jun 11, 10:17 pm


Lone Wolf / Jodi Picoult.
4 stars

Luke and his 17-year old daughter, Cara, are in a car crash. Luke ends up on life support. He and his wife are divorced, and their adult son, Edward, has been in Thailand for six years. Luke’s doctors have given him a poor prognosis (he is extremely unlikely to ever wake up), but someone needs to make the decision on what to do. Cara is too young, so Edward comes home. Edward wants to let him go, but Cara refuses, so they head to court to decide who will make the decision.

Luke studies wolves and I loved all the parts about his integration with the wild wolves in Quebec. I easily sided with Edward on this decision, as hard a decision as that must be (it’s hard enough with my cats…). Like many of Picoult’s books, there are multiple points of view. There are also a few surprises along the way.

jun 17, 11:00 pm

British Columbia

Dark Roads / Chevy Stevens
4 stars

Teenaged Hailey is an orphan, and she has recently been living with her Aunt Lana her aunt’s husband, Vaughn, and their son. Vaughn is a police officer and pretty much forbids Hailey to do much of anything outside the house. She does not like him at all and tries her best to avoid him. They live in a rural community in British Columbia along a highway where a number of girls and women have been murdered or gone missing over years. They think it’s not only one person who have done the murdering, but that there has been more than one person responsible over time. When Hailey finds something on Vaughn’s computer, she has to get away. Not long after, her new girlfriend, Amber, is found dead.

Yes, this was based on the famous “Highway of Tears” in B.C. where a number of women and girls (many First Nations) have been murdered or gone missing. The author changed the name of the highway and made up the town where it took place, but it’s recognizable and she does mention it in a note at the end.

I listened to the audio and was mostly able to pay attention to what was happening. When Amber’s sister, Beth, from Vancouver arrives to try to find out what happened to Amber, the POV switches between Beth and Hailey. I mostly didn’t find Beth’s story as interesting as Hailey’s but it did come together at the end. Have to admit, I also though Beth did a supremely stupid thing near the end. I also ended up really not liking Hailey much – at least at the end of the book. No surprise here, but I loved Hailey’s dog, Wolf.