Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reader's Diary #634- Budge Wilson: Before Green Gables

In the acknowledgments for Before Green Gables, Budge Wilson thanks, among others, knowledgeable Anne fans for providing her with various chapter numbers and specific pages that hinted at or mentioned Anne's life before she arrived at Green Gables, according to the original author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Wilson also made use of Montgomery's journals. I'd like to say that the result of all this research and help was a novel that stayed true to Montgomery's vision, but I can't. I can't, however, say that she got it wrong either.

I've only read one Anne book, the Green Gables one, though the series extended for eight more books. While I enjoyed it, I can't say I enjoyed it enough to remember much. So I can't really compare Budge Wilson's prequel to the rest of these books with any real authority. I imagine Anne fanatics would approach this one with a much different view point than I.

I began this book back in June and had intended it to be my PEI choice for the 3rd Canadian Book Challenge. It turned out to be set entirely in Nova Scotia as I'm sure Anne fans knew already.

All that aside, I enjoyed Before Green Gables. I read it as a read aloud to my daughter, who may be on her way to becoming an Anne fanatic herself. It was sometimes difficult going, seeing as one of the characters was an abusive alcoholic, but it triggered a lot of conversations between my daughter and me. That Wilson was able to make Mr. Thomas (the abusive alcoholic) complex and not an entirely unsympathetic character was quite an achievement.

I wish, however, she had given Anne's biological parents the same treatment. Instead, I found them them to be too perfect. Completely unflawed characters, they seemed a little too cardboard for me. Was Anne's loss supposed to be more tragic because her parents were saints? Was this Wilson's way of weighing in on the whole nature versus nurture debate? I'm not sure. In any case, I found them flat and it was a bit of a hurdle to get over. But I'm glad I continued on as the novel got much better after that.

It was sad at times, for sure. Arguably, it was sad most of the time. But most people know the Anne story enough to know she ends up with a wonderful family at Green Gables, so at least the light at the end of the tunnel can always be seen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reader's Diary #633- Michael Winter: Billy Bennett


I've been wanting to read Michael Winter's work for some time now. Blogging friends Remi and Corey seem to be big fans, and hey, Winter's from my birth province-- I'm always interested in reading Newfoundland and Labrador literature.

Unfortunately, my first experience with Winter was not a pleasant one. "Billy Bennett" as it appears in the July/August edition of The Walrus is apparently adapted from his latest novel The Death of Donna Whalen.

I'm not sure if Winter adapted it or if was the Walrus editors or someone else, but I'm not sure what they adapted it into; it certainly isn't a short story. It ends so abruptly I had to look to see if I missed the "page 2" icon to click on for more.

And then there was the grammar. I get that this Billy Bennett guy was a rough character. Though it's not from his point of view, the third person is clearly trying to mirror the way Billy would have told his story himself. I don't mind then when he talks about his car as a she. Lots of guys do that. I don't mind when he writes He don't go there much now. But when he writes something like
Bill Bennett has a criminal record. Everything except that assault sixteen months, that’s definitely wrong.
I'm left confused. What does that mean? Was there supposed to be an ago after months? And what's definitely wrong? The assault? The criminal record? Capturing a character's grammar is one thing, making it readable is quite another. I'm not impressed.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reader's Diary #632- Scott Chantler: Northwest Passage

Oni Press calls Scott Chantler's Northwest Passage a "two-fisted pulse-pounding bare-knuckled series." What does that mean? I assume they're trying to market it to the action-loving crowd. Forget the connotations of a history lesson implied in the title, this is for beer swilling guys who play hockey and scratch.

Well okay, those guys might like this book, but others might as well. In fact, I think Northwest Passage is best when Chantler slows down the pace and actually tries to develop character. As for the history angle, yes, I enjoyed that as well. It's fictional, but there's certainly a lot of real Canadian history tied into it. And the artwork is stellar.

Northwest Passage is hard to summarize. It's mostly the story of Charles Lord, an almost legendary Hudson Bay man who decides to go in search of the Northwest Passage and recapture the adventure of his exploration days after a successful but ultimately unrewarding desk job managing a trading post. Before he has the chance, however, the evil rogue French trader Guerin Montglave captures the post and all hell breaks loose. Add to this the emotional drama between Lord and his son, the capture of Lord's nephew who has been sent to replace him, and a bunch of other stuff and it becomes quite a compelling book.

A favourite scene in the book comes when Lord is trying to justify having whipped one of his traders, a trader who he'd had a great relationship with up to that point. "How could I ever have kept order without punishing you?" he asks. Shortly thereafter the scene turns to the villainous Montglave who has just ordered an execution. "Without discipline, mes amis..." he says, "How can we have order?" It was a wonderful contrast and a great way to remind us that even legendary men are more than black and white.

I wasn't crazy about the ending. There are too many pieces that fall into place too perfectly, but otherwise I enjoyed Northwest Passage very much and I look forward to future installments.

Also, check out Chantler's notes at the end to fully appreciate the amount of work that goes into a project like this!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #6- Libraries VERSUS Short Stories


The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Libraries VERSUS Book Blogs), with a final score of 9-1 is libraries.

I knew before posting last week's question what the outcome would have been had it proposed to the general population. However, I did think that here, on a book blog, with book blogging readers and writers, that book blogs would have fared a little better. But they didn't. I was also surprised to find that some people looked at it as a choice between reading or reading about reading. I initially didn't see how they drew that conclusion, but then I realized that those people might get most, if not all, their books from libraries. Therefore, no libraries would mean no reading. For me, the loss of a library wouldn't slow me down any. I've lived in a town where the library was so bad it was pointless anyway (sorry Summerford, Newfoundland, it's true) and I didn't stop reading. It's with that in mind that I would have wrestled with last week's question. If I was voting selfishly, I would have gone for book blogs. I'm addicted to blogging and reading blogs. The withdrawal would rival Leonardo Dicaprio's in the Basketball Diaries. Since I'm the only one that saw it, I'll describe it: tears, snot, spit, and occasional cursing. Not pretty. BUT, if I was voting for humanity (see in my delusions of grandeur, I fancy that these little competitions matter), I'd have to go for libraries. Would someone please think of the children?! Yes. Yes, I will. You see, I understand that not everyone can afford books. I understand that not everyone has a quiet place to read. I understand that some people just love libraries. I don't hate libraries. I like libraries. I wouldn't say, "mrrgllll libraries," but they're alright.

Now for another completely impossible, hypothetical, and pointless debate. If you could save one from complete and utter annihilation, which you save?

Vote in the comment section below before August 10th. (I'm on vacation in Newfoundland so please forgive the delay. They've got their own time zone, you know.)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Off...


I'll be in Newfoundland until August 9th. Don't abandon me altogether, I have prepared some posts in advance and may peek in from time to time.

Wish you were here.

John

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reader's Diary #631- Nasibu Mwanukuzi: Days of Summer

My selection this week comes from a Tanzanian writer, singer-songwriter and poet who also goes by the name of Ras Nas.

"Days of Summer" presents an ironic take on the usual connotations of summer. There are no unforgettable girls in daisy dukes here. Instead we're presented with a man waking up to the sun shining in his apartment but instead of this being a joyous occasion, he's nauseous and preoccupied with death.

If you think it sounds like a downer, it is. And it doesn't really work. The last paragraph begins, "Then suddenly, all of a sudden and without warning, everything turned sad." I like stories that have a twist at the end, but this one only pretends to have a twist. It's sad from the get go. He's nauseous, he's fixated on death, he notices the dilapidation of the surrounding buildings. Suddenly he's sad? When was he happy?

I'd not traveled on trains much except for my vacations in England and Japan. I remember looking at the houses and apartments nearest the train stations and in both countries they were noticeably shabbier then those further out. Dirtier, falling down, and covered in graffiti. Yet there were lines with clothes hanging from them. Could the people there be happy? I wondered. After reading Mwanukuzi's story, I guess not.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturdays : Word Play :: Analogies : Fun!


Yes, I know, the post title doesn't really work as an analogy, but hopefully the ones below will.

Use the answers provided to complete the analogies.

Remember, feel free to answer all ten at home, but only answer one in the comment section below. That way, 9 others can play along.

COHEN/ JACOB/ MUNSCH/ LEACOCK/ PATRICK/ SAMSON/ RICCI/ CRUMMEY/ DAVIES/ ONDAATJE

1. Gulamhussein : Vassanji :: ______ : Kinsella
2. Lucy : Anne :: Mordecai : ______
3. Atwood : Wise Brown :: Ludlum : ______
4. Manawaka : Laurence :: Deptford : ______
5. Lewis : Hill :: ______ : O'Neill
6. Coupland : McLuhan :: ______ : Trudeau
7. Service : Berton :: Grant : ______
8. USA : Shields :: Sri Lanka : ______
9. Dennis : Lee :: Leonard : ______
10. Giller : Munro :: _____ : Quarrington

Hey, while you're at it, how about explaining your logic?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reader's Diary #630- Ronald Melzack and illustrated by Carol Jones: The Day Tuk Became a Hunter and Other Eskimo Stories

When I lived in in Nunavut, I heard many Inuit legends. None, however, were as popular as the story of Sedna. Sedna, as you may or may not have heard, was an Inuit sea goddess, a bitter sea goddess who created and was in charge of sea life. That's the nutshell version. I'd recount the whole thing except I'm not sure what that is. I've heard so many versions now and the above details are the only consistencies I could tease out. Depending on who was telling the story, or where, or when, the story could have ample doses of sex and violence-- there was a relationship with a dog in one version, Sedna gets her fingers cut off by her father in another-- or it may be more subdued. In some tellings Sedna seems to have every reason to be vengeful, in others she just seems insane. Did I mind the variations? Not at all. As long as the core story was the same, I came to enjoy the storytellers' interpretations.

In Melzack's version, found in The Day Tuk Became a Hunter and other eskimo stories, published in 1967, Sedna falls for a man who promises her a better life in another village. It turns out, however, that he was really a loon and he'd lied to her about the better living conditions. Her father visits and tries to help her escape, but when the loon takes chase and the sea begins to get rough, the father is afraid of the loon's power and throws Sedna overboard to save his own life. When Sedna clutches the side of the kayak, her father stabs her hands to make her let go. The blood turns into various sea animals and Sedna becomes ruler over them all from her home beneath the sea, only releasing them to hunters once she is doted on by Medicine Men. I've heard similar stories, so I didn't take any issue with it, nor the other legends in the book.

Then I came across an article called "Revealing the Storyteller: The Ethical Publication of Inuit Stories" by Jefferson Faye, an American of mixed Inuit and European descent living in the U.S. Faye was quite offended by Melzack's book calling it one of the "more irresponsible and potentially damaging" books that he'd encountered. He criticizes the use of the word Eskimo, while Melzack himself acknowledges that they called themselves the Inuit, yet continues to refer to them as Eskimos because that was what they were known as outside of Inuit circles at the time. Keep in mind, this was 1967, so while Faye's point isn't without merit, it seems to me to be a complaint better aimed at 1960's attitudes than scapegoating Melzack. But from there on Faye makes some valid points.

Melzack, in turns out, hadn't done much in the way of connecting with actual Inuit people to gather these stories. Instead he gathered them from anthropologists and explorers (read: white people). Not that his sources weren't accurate necessarily, but it becomes a bit of a telephone game, especially when, as Melzack acknowledges, storytellers "often include their own experiences as they relate the tales they heard from others." Fine, but did the original anthropologists and explorers add their own experiences? Maybe, maybe not. Melzack certainly admits to making changes and his reasons for doing certainly seem suspect. "Because Eskimo life is so different from our own," he writes, "it was necessary to retell the stories in a way that would appeal to children in our culture." There are so many things wrong with that statement. To start, how was their life so fundamentally different? Nothing in this book suggests that Melzack had encounters with any real Inuit, so on what basis did he decide they were so different? And why would the original stories not appeal to children in "our culture"? Was there a study published at the time that showed how white, English children are repulsed by folklore from aboriginal people? Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that Melzack was right, we're left with another problem in that Melzack has defined his audience so narrowly. The result, when someone like Faye picks up the book, is that he's getting a part of his culture handed back to him in a modified and disingenuous form, all in order to appeal to another culture.

To make matters worse was the choice of illustrator. Talent aside (I actually think Carol Jones did a decent job), Jones was also not an Inuk. In fact, she wasn't even a Canadian. She moved here from England in 1967, the same year the book was published. So why did Melzack and/or the editors at McClelland and Stewart think she was an appropriate choice to add her spin on these stories? To make matters worse, she drew them in a style that looks as if they were trying to pass off as Cape Dorset prints. So now we have not one, but two uninformed southerners interpreting and modifying Inuit culture.

I can see why Faye has his reservations. All the politics aside, my daughter and I enjoyed the stories. They were well written and the accompanying pictures worked nicely. Did we learn authentic Inuit folklore? Possibly not, but as long as we keep that in mind, it's okay for entertainment purposes. Now if only we could get our hands on some real stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #6- Libraries VERSUS Book Blogs


The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Libraries VERSUS Bookstores), with a final score of 18-3 is libraries.

I intentionally avoided defining bookstores last week, thinking that if I left out the whole indie versus big chain/ in-person versus online stores debate, that bookstores probably had a better shot against libraries than they'd otherwise have. It turns out not to have mattered all that much. Most of those who voted for libraries last week cited cost as a major reason. For me, that wouldn't matter. In fact, I'd say I spend more at the library in a year than I do at bookstores. It's to the point where I even avoid going. In a family of four obsessive readers, we max out our library cards on every visit, and in our house, where books find themselves sticking out of every nook and cranny, we can never find all of our books come due date. The end result? Outrageous late fees and replacement costs. In our Iqaluit library, they didn't have late fees. We simply couldn't check out anything new until all our previous books were returned. I wish Yellowknife would adopt a similar policy. As for bookstores? I buy less than 10 books a year. The rest of my collection comes from free copies that publishers send me and from a book exchange at the local Co-op grocery store; leave a book and take as many as you like. Quite frankly, I'd get by without libraries or bookstores. But I support the idea of both. Certainly authors need to get paid and certainly people who can't afford books need access to reading material.

This week it's time to get a little more introspective. Book blogs. Or, if you like, lit blogs. I've never really understood the difference, or even if there was a difference. For the sake of this week's vote, you can consider them the same, but if you're interested in the semantics of it all, Yen offered his take last year.

So if you absolutely had to choose to give up either libraries or book blogs, which would it be? And which would you keep? (Vote for that one!)

Vote in the comment section below before July 21th.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader's Diary #629- Ring Lardner: Haircut


Perhaps it was the mention of Jim Kendall in Ring Lardner's "Haircut" that got me to thinking of my grandfather, Gordon Kendall. However, and fortunately, my grandfather had little in common with Jim outside of the surname. He did, however, have more in common with the narrator, Whitey.

Pop, as I used to my call my grandfather, was a storyteller of the finest caliber. If you could understand him, that is. From the small outport community of Ramea and the days before TV, pop's Newfoundland accent was thick, to put it mildly. I'd never had trouble understanding him but when I first started taking my wife, originally from Ontario, to visit, she'd find herself smiling politely while me and my grandmother went into hysterics over pop's tales of the good ol' days.

While Lardner's Whitey talks with his own grammatical idiosyncrasies, they're mild compared my pop's. Whitey's propensity to view the past through rose-coloured glasses, however, puts my pop to shame.

Have you ever been told about someone as if they were charming but to you they don't sound all that great at all? I remember once being told about someone who "tells it like it is and you gotta love her" but all the examples that were offered as proof just led me to believe that the person in question was just plain rude. Lardner must have found himself in similar circumstances because "the Haircut" plays upon those feelings.

As the reader, you find yourself in a barber's chair listening to Whitey, the barber, tell you the story of how Jim Kendall got killed. According to him, times just haven't been the same since. It's a quaint scene, this barbershop, and Whitey seems like a nice enough fellow. You want to hear this story and you want to believe that Jim was this likable guy who helped raise the town's spirits. It increasingly becomes more and more difficult to find the charm in Jim Kendall. And where this story is headed, that's just fine.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trivial Sunday- The First Thing That Pops Up


With the world going crazy for 3D right now, I thought it only fitting that we focus our attention this week on pop-up books. They've been around for a while, but maybe it's their time to shine. And just in case the 3D technology of a pop-up book is a little Jaws for your taste, don't worry, South Korea promises some Avatar style pop-ups are coming our way. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the good ol' fashioned kind:


You might know them as the books that are pointless for libraries to carry. Good luck finding one without broken pull-tabs or without cartoon characters that lie limp on the ground like they've given up all hope.

I remember when we were kids, my sister and I each had Aladdin and Pinocchio pop-up books respectively. In the Pinocchio book there used to be a large, coiled and purple snake, complete with fangs.

My father used to get me to put my finger in the snake's mouth, then he'd startle me by slamming the cover. Broken finger and traumatic childhood aside, I still remember those books as being a pretty magical experience.

Remember, while you're welcome to answer all 10 questions at home, please only answer one question in the comments below so that 9 others can play along. If you answer more than one, your comment may be deleted.

1. According to Ann Montanaro's "Concise History of Pop-Ups and Movable Books," the earliest known mechanical device used in a book dates back to:
a) the 13th century
b) 1752
c) Victorian England
d) 1945

2. Pop-up book is the generic term that we use when describing books that are 3-dimensional or movable. Apparently, movable book is the more accepted term used by those in the know. But the jargon doesn't end there. There are also transformations, tunnel books, volvelles, and more. Match each term with the correct definition below:
a)...also called peepshow books, consist of a set of pages bound with two folded concertina strips on each side and viewed through a hole in the cover. Openings in each page allow the viewer to see through the entire book to the back, and images on each page work together to create a dimensional scene inside
b) rotating paper parts
c) these books have scenes made up of vertical slats that slide over one another when a tab is pulled, creating an entirely different scene.

3. This group, made up of over 450 members, was founded in 1993 as a forum for collectors, artists, booksellers, and enthusiasts of the movable book form:
a) 3D Book Appreciation Forum (3D-BAF)
b) the Movable Book Society (MBS)
c) Lovers of Pop-Up, Transforming, and Tunnel Books (L-PUTT)
d) The Pop-Up and Interactive Book Collective (PIBC)

4. Who is the New York Times Best Selling artist behind such titles as STAR WARS: A Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy, Encyclopedia Mythologica, Brava, Strega Nona! and DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop Up Book.

5. Not to give #4 all the credit, 2 of those titles were created with another artist. This artist also won the prestigious Meggendorfer Prize (for movable books) more than anyone else. He's won three years in a row (sort of, the prize is only handed out every two years) for his work on The Christmas Alphabet, Cookie Count and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Who is it? Here's another of his creations:

6. Who created the wildly popular pop-up books, One Red Dot, 600 Black Dots and a whole series of pop-up books about bugs, including one of the very first books I remember giving my now wife on Valentine's Day way back in the day (sorry for the annoying music on this clip):


7. Which of the following children's books does not have a pop up version?
a) Oh The Places You'll Go- Dr. Seuss
b) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone- J. K. Rowling
c) The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle
d) The Paper Bag Princess- Robert Munsch

8. Name the author:
- Born in England
- Has lived in Canada since 1988
- Author of the wildly successful Griffin and Sabine trilogy
- Pop-up books include: Jabberwocky, Solomon Grundy and Kubla Khan

9. Which is NOT a real pop up book:
a) The Pop-Up Book of Phobias
b) The Pop-Up Book of Celebrity Meltdowns
c) The Pop-Up Book of Carnival Splats
d) The Pop-Up Kama Sutra

10. In January of 2009, Robert Culbertson broke the Guinness World Record for creating the world's largest pop-up book, The Pop-Up Story of Delray Beach. He held the previous crown as well, with a version of Aesop's Fables he'd created in 2002. How big was the Delray Beach book:
a) 2 ft 11 inches by 3 ft 7 inches
b) 4 ft by 4 ft
c) 4.5 ft by 5 ft 9 inches
d) 10 ft 2 inches by 12.5 ft

I'll leave you with one more:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Reader's Diary #628- AmberLee Kolson: Wings of Glass

Though the Theytus Books website lists the publication date of Wings of Glass at May of 2010, it also says "Coming Soon!" Amazon.ca says that the title has not yet been released and Chapters.ca lists the publication date as July 18, 2010. My copy, sent to me by the author, is a draft copy and this review reflects a version that may or may not be different from the final, published book.

Wings of Glass, by AmberLee Kolson, begins:
I was going to kill myself on the Monday after Gord's birthday but then I remembered I had to bake muffins for school and had to cancel.
I mistakenly thought this would be a darkly comedic book. Yes, there are darkly funny and just plain funny parts peppered throughout the book, but they provide comic relief rather than a consistent style. Which is okay, of course, it just took me a while to overcome my initial expectations. A predominately melancholy book with some comic relief is certainly not the same as dark humour.

Wings of Glass is basically the story of a woman who stalls on her way to suicide and winds up trying to work through her past and what has led her to this unfortunate state of mind. I welcomed it as a chance for to play psychologist. However, before long I realized how artificial that was and if this woman (she remains nameless) was actually spilling her guts out on my couch, I'd have interjected more than a few times to keep her on track. Then again, maybe if I was being paid by the hour...

The woman is contemplating suicide, some introspection is necessary. Hell, a lot of introspection is necessary. Those weren't the details that dragged the book down. Unfortunately, there were also tedious and unnecessary descriptions of everything else. In one instance she mentions "strains of the Beatles hit 'Ob-La Di, Ob-La-Da' waft[ing] from the radio." Of the Beatles hit? Is there another "Ob-La Di, Ob-La-Da"? But the best example comes near the end when she decides to make a stew:
I browned the chunks of meat in a frying pan at high heat in oil. I picked the crisp pieces of meat up with tongs and put them in the bean pot. I slid the chunks of onion, celery and carrot into the pot from the plastic cutting board where they lay segregated into their own personal piles. I cut the bitter ends off five large cloves of garlic, smashed them on the board, peeled off the skin, and tossed them into the pot. I poured a can of consommé, a can of Molson Canadian beer, a twenty-eight-ounce of plum tomatoes, a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce, half a bottle of hickory flavoured barbecue sauce, some salt, pepper and thyme.
A few paragraphs later she slides it into an oven set at 325°. Sounds good, doesn't it? Except this isn't a cookbook!

A book with so much introspection and little action, the book is a likely tough slog as it is. Gratuitous and insignificant details as these don't help. It's a shame really because they take away from the few times when Kolson's gift of observation actually worked. I almost brushed aside this piece a few pages later:
"Catching mice?" he asked, slamming the fridge door.

The Kleenex box, always precarious on the top corner of the fridge, fell to the floor. A picture of Batman, painted by Stevie in kindergarten and anchored to the fridge door by a weak magnet advertising a local take out pizza parlour, slid to the floor.
An argument is about to explode between her and husband Gord, which leads to her running away from her family. I can't think of a better complementary image than the scene Kolson has described.

Stevie, however, represents another problem. For a mother of two, whose biggest issue seems to have been the absence of a caring mother for the majority of her childhood, she doesn't seem overly concerned about her own kids. At one point she decides not to kill herself in the bathroom because she doesn't want them to walk in her body, but there's no thought about how they would cope without her after the fact. When she runs away later, not once on her 18 hour drive from Edmonton to Yellowknife does she wonder what Gord will tell the children, how they're supposed to deal with this sudden abandonment.

However, this is not necessarily a problem with the writing like I had with the descriptions. Suicide is, after all, a selfish act. Maybe the profile is accurate.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #6- Libraries VERSUS Bookstores


The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Paperbacks VERSUS Libraries), with a final score of 9-1 is libraries.

Okay, so I'm trying to figure you guys out. You prefer real bookmarks to fake ones, but would gladly use a scrap of tissue if it meant not having to give up hardcover books. However, you'd easily trade in hardcovers for paperbacks, but NOT if it meant the closing down of libraries...whew. But what about bookstores-- if you had to choose one or the other, bookstores or libraries, which would you pick?

Vote in the comment section below before July 14th.



Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Reader's Diary #627- The Good News Bible: Job

The frame story of The Book of Job reminded me of Chris de Burgh's Spanish Train. Remember that song about God and the devil playing poker and then chess for souls? To make matters worse, God didn't notice the devil cheating and kept losing. Not surprisingly, the song met with some controversy, even being banned in such countries as South Africa-- who, in 1985, you'd have thought had bigger fish to fry than Chris de "Lady in Red" Burgh, but that's another issue.

However, I'm not sure that God's portrayal in the frame story of The Book of Job is any more favourable. Again God and Satan are hanging out at the local pool hall when God casually asks Satan's opinion on Job, three ball corner pocket. Satan, ever the cynic, says that Job is only pious because he's prosperous. That sounds like a wager to me, says God, and in Chris de Burgh fashion, lets Satan shed Job of his possessions and destroy his home. Job, however, remains faithful to the Lord and it looks like God has won this bet, eight ball side pocket. However, if there's one thing we've learned from Chris de Burgh is that strippers can't be tried for public nudity since they're in their working clothes. Oh wait, I guess there are two things de Burgh has taught us; also that Satan doesn't give up easily. Fine, fine, Satan says, so he's still pious without his possessions, but come on, you didn't let me take away his health. Feeling confident over his first win, God puts another loonie on the table, and says, have at him-- just don't kill him (after all, that'd be cruel.)

I'm not crazy about this beginning. Why would God care what Satan's opinion is? Why he allow Satan to walk all over Job's life just to prove a point?

But the rest of the story continues with this theme. In a series of discussions between Job and his three, no wait four friends, (The fourth friend suddenly starts talking though there's no point of introduction, no "oh hey, Elihu, when did you get here? I didn't see you come in.") and finally with God, the issue of why God lets bad things happen to good people is addressed. Addressed, but not answered. There's no point when God says, "See I got carried away with this bet with Satan, and...my bad." Instead we get the message that God controls all and knows what he's doing, so trust him. What may not seem to be in an individual's best interest, may be the greater interest in the grand scheme of things.

All in all, I enjoyed this story. It was one of the more thought provoking stories so far, even if there were problems with continuity (the initial frame story isn't revisited and again, Elihu could have been sent ahead a rsvp) but seems to foreshadow where the Bible is heading overall.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Reader's Diary #626- Dashiell Hammett: The Parthian Shot


Mostly known for detective fiction, especially The Maltese Falcon, I was surprised to find that Dashiell Hammett also wrote flash fiction, and not all of it crime related. There are two available here,"The Parthian Shot" and "Immortality." I'm choosing to focus on the former, because a) I liked it more and b) it tied into a couple other things I read yesterday and I like when unexpected connections pop up.

"The Parthian Shot," a humorous piece about a mother who is unimpressed to find that her infant is a carbon copy of her husband, reminded me briefly of Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson which I'm currently in the middle of reading to my daughter. In Wilson's book there's a mother who is most likely suffering postpartum depression (though that term wasn't known at the time). Certainly Wilson's story is more detailed and serious, but both hers and Hammett's depictions counter the Norman Rockwellish image of a mother looking lovingly into her baby's eyes.

"The Parthian Shot" was also an appropriate follow-up to a Mental Floss article I read yesterday about laws concerning what you name your baby. You'll understand why once you read Hammett's story.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Trivial Sunday- Hurry Hard! Curling up with Canadian Writers



It's summer, it's hot, and the rest of the world has caught World Cup fever. So I bring you curling trivia.

Answer as many as you can at home, but only answer one in the comments below. That way, nine others can play along. I admit it, it's a tough one this week...

1. Who wrote the Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon?

2. Which novelist shares writing credit for the story, but not the screenplay, of Men With Brooms with Paul Gross and John Krizanc?

3. Which curler did not author or co-author a book?
a. Russ Howard
b. Brad Gushue
c. Colleen Jones
d. Kevin Martin

4. According to the title of a book by sports journalist Peter Lefko, who was the Queen of Curling?

5. Who wrote Abby and the Curling Chicks, published by Pugwash Publishers?

6.Who wrote this award winning short film, directed by John Kerr:

AIM Hardcore Bonspiel from Nine40 on Vimeo.


7. According to Stuart McLean, who developed the curling scoreboard?
a. Someone who really didn't get the metric system
b. Some drunk in a kilt
c. Wayne and Schuster
d. CSIS

8. In a quiz to test your level of Canadianness, these two brothers give 50 points for anyone who forgets whether or not they curled, because of drunkenness. Who are they?

9. Name the David Adams Richards book with this line, "When he got back on his feet again, Joe would sometimes go to the curling club to watch Rita curl."

10. This broadcaster, writer and curling historian has written two curling books: Canada Curls: The Illustrated History of Curling in Canada and Tales of a Curling Hack. Who is it?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Canadian Book Challenge 4- Sorry, Excuse me. Can we start now, please?

Happy Canada Day folks! The 4th annual Canadian Book Challenge starts TODAY!

It's time once again to explore, celebrate and promote Canadian books. You have one year to read 13 Canadian books* and review them somewhere online**, Canada Day, July 1st, 2010- Canada Day, July 1st, 2011. There will be check-ins at the beginning of each month to see how everyone is progressing and have their current status marked in the sidebar of this blog. Participants are encouraged to read each others' reviews, discuss the books, and cheer one another on.

It's the fourth year of the challenge and we've had a lot of fun. Participants are mostly Canadian but we've had participants from the U.S., the U.K., India, South Korea, Spain and more. In true Canadian fashion, all are welcome! Except Venezuela. (Just kidding Venezuelans. You can come too.)

FAQs:

1. How do I join?

Send me an email with the subject line "Sign Me Up!" and I'll add you to the list. At the beginning of each month, I'll send you an email telling you that a check-in point has been posted on this blog. You will then visit the post and let me know what books you read AND reviewed the previous month (with links to your reviews) and your count so far.

2. Do I need to know ahead of time which books I'll be reading?

No. But by all means, if you want to plan ahead, do so. Some people find it's more of a challenge to do it this way, and others prefer to find their next book as it comes. If you do make a list and decide to alter it along the way, that's fine.

3. Do I need to have a theme?

No. I personally like to read at least one book from each province and territory (it's the whole reason 13 has become the goal number). Over the past 3 editions of the challenge, there have been lots of different themes. Some people have chosen to read authors exclusively (Robert Munsch, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Ethel Wilson, and Brian Moore have each had a run). Others have gone for specific parts of the country (Quebec and the prairies have been chosen). There's even been a challenge themed around dogs! Certainly a theme could make it more difficult, but then again, it could also make it more fun. In any case, the majority of participants opt to have no theme at all, just pushing for 13 random Canadian books. They feel they can still read what they want, when they want and aren't too confined by restrictions. The choice is up to you.

4. What if I don't reach 13 books or if I do?

If you don't, but you've had fun, it's still good. Your reviews will still be read by other participants. And you'll have a chance again when the next edition comes around. Some people ask if it's okay to fill up the remainder with children's books since they're shorter. I, personally, think children's books (picture books) are just as valid and need to be read and discussed as much as novels. Others think that it's a challenge, and as such, shouldn't be easy. Again, this is a participant's decision to make.

If you do reach 13, you may stop, or keep going. Remember, it's 13 or more. I love to see how many I can squeeze in. And there will be a prize for the person reading the most...

5. Can my books count towards other challenges?

Of course! That's half the fun! I read some this past year that counted in the Graphic Novels Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge.

6. I don't live in Canada and am finding it difficult to get my hands on Canadian books. Any recommendations or solutions?

It'll probably be easier to find some of our "big names" at your library (Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields, for example). Of course, you can always order online. And if you ask nicely enough, Canadian participants have been known to ship books far and wide to help out.

7. What if I read a book and don't have time to review it?

Sorry, that's one point I'm sticky on. I don't count it until it's reviewed. By all means, feel free to read 13 Canadian books, but the reviewing part is an equal component of the challenge. I want the books celebrated and promoted and talked about even if you didn't enjoy it. While I say "review" I don't mean anything necessarily lengthy and I don't mean necessarily a review as much as I mean your thoughts on the book, questions about why an author said something, memories it stirred up. Anything, just something.

8. Will there be prizes?

Yes!*** For starters there's an Uncharted Territories Prize: Two signed copies of Roderick Benn's Mystery of the Moonlight Murder given away to two lucky participants who, during the month of July, read an review a book by an author NOT read at all for the Canadian Book Challenge 3. If more than 2 people qualify, random winners will be chosen. See the final update post for a complete list of who was read.


There's also an Awards Prize Pack from Random House. By September 30th, if you've read any author that won a Canadian literary award in 2010, let me know (include the name of the author and/or book and the award won). A winner will be chosen randomly from those that qualify-- but you have to let me know that you qualify! The prize includes:
Fauna by Alissa York

The Beauty of the Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

Ape House by Sara Gruen

There will be more prizes as the challenge progresses, to be announced. Some will be new donations, others may be used books (will be indicated), all designed to merely increase the fun and add to your book collection!

9. How can I help?

By joining, reading and reviewing, obviously. And checking in once a month. I also need help with promotion. If you know someone (author, publisher, or bookseller) that can donate a prize, that would be just dandy. Also, promote the challenge on your blog. Feel free to write a post that tells your readers that your joining and why, and if you've participated before, how much fun it is. Also, use the logo above, feel free to place it permanently in your sidebar.

As you can see above, the Lawren Harris inspired logo is the official logo of this edition, by popular vote. And in keeping with a mountain theme, participant progress will be measured by peaks, the tallest peaks in each province and territory.

1 book: Glen Valley (actual peak unnamed, PEI) 142m/466ft
2 books: White Hill (Nova Scotia) 532m/1745ft
3 books: Ishpatina Ridge (Ontario) 693m/2274ft
4 books: Mount Carleton (New Brunswick) 817m/2680ft
5 books: Baldy Mountain (Manitoba) 832m/2730ft
6 books: Cypress Hills (actual peak unnamed, Saskatchewan) 1468m/4816ft
7 books: Mont D'Iberville (Quebec) 1651m/5417ft
8 books: Mount Caubvick (Newfoundland and Labrador) 1652m/5420ft
9 books: Barbeau Peak (Nunavut) 2616m/8583ft
10 books: Mount Nirvana (Northwest Territories) 2773m/9098ft
11 books: Mount Columbia (Alberta) 3747m/12,293ft
12 books: Mount Fairweather (British Columbia) 4663m/15,299ft
13 or more books: Mount Logan (Yukon) 5959m/19,591ft

But not to worry, if the mountain logo isn't your cup of tea, and since the vote was so close, I've decided to let you use the other logo, the Hudson Bay Blanket inspired logo, if you wish:

On that note, sit back in your muskoka chair with a nanaimo bar and a double double, and start your reading.

The fine print:
* Canadian books can include any genre or form (children's books, poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays, anthologies, etc), can be written by Canadian authors (by birth or immigration) or about Canadians. Ultimately, participants must decide for themselves whether or not something fits the description of Canadian.

**
Reviews do not have to be lengthy, but must be done online to be counted. Most participants typically review books on blogs, but others do so at Chapters.ca, BookCrossing, and other sites. As long as other participants can have free access to the review (i.e., without signing up or requiring special passwords), the review site is up to the participant.

***
Prizes only available for Canadian Book Challenge 4 participants.

The Canadian Book Challenge 3- GRAND FINALE!


410 authors, 535 books, 680 reviews, 59 participants, 34 participants reaching the goal of 13 or more... it's been a great, productive challenge. For those keeping score, this round wasn't as productive as the 2nd (1137 reviews), but better than the 1st (415) and it gives us a combined total of 2226 Canadian book reviews for the Canadian Book Challenges. Way to go everybody!

A few more stats:
- The author with the most books reviewed was Charles de Lint with 9 different titles reviewed
- The most commonly reviewed book was Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood, reviewed a whopping 12 times
- Not surprising, Atwood is also the author with the most overall reviews with 19

Some prizes to give away:

1. The Bannock Baker's Dozen (featuring one book from each province and territory-- more details here) goes to Nicola for reading and reviewing the most books! Congrats, Nicola!

2. The How Do I Love Poetry Prize? donated by Brick Books (more details here) goes to Matilda!

3. The Long and the Short of It Prize donated by Harper Collins (more details here) goes to Pooker! Congratulations.

Abbott, Elizabeth
- History of Marriage (Teena)
Adamson, Gil

- Help Me, Jacques Cousteau (Matilda)
- The Outlander (Kate, Kailana, Leya)
Aiken, Sean
- The One Week Job Project (Luanne)
Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri (Editor)
- Without Reservation (John)
Alexis, Andre
- Asylum (Scrat)
Allan, Von
- the road to god knows... (Nicola)
Allen, Jocelyne
- You and the Pirates (John)
Anderson-Dargatz, Gail
- Turtle Valley (Tara, Scrat)
Arato, Rona
- Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matza Ball Emporium (Nicola)
Armstrong, Kelley
- The Awakening (Becky, Kailana)
- Bitten (Nathan, Pooker, Luanne, JK)
- Haunted (Kailana)
- Living With The Dead (Kailana)
- The Reckoning (Nicola, Nathan)
- The Summoning (Linda)
Armstrong, Sally
- The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor (Raidergirl)
Ash Wolfe, Inger
- The Calling (Susan)
Atwood, Margaret
- Alias Grace (Eva)
- Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda illustrated by Dusan Petricic (Chris)
- The Handmaid's Tale (Lahni)
- Moral Disorder (Pooker)
- Negotiating with the Dead (Buried in Print)
- Oryx and Crake (Nicola)
- Surfacing (Jules)
- Year of the Flood (Corey, JK, Kate, Nicola, Lahni, Scrat, Chris, Charlotte, Kailana, Remi, Gavin, B. Kienapple)
Aubert, Rosemary
- The Ferryman Will Be There (Gypsysmom)
Austen, Catherine
- Walking Backward (Becky)
Babiak, Todd
- The Garneau Block (Lynn)
Bacigalupi, Paolo
- Ship Breaker (Becky)
Bailey, Linda
- Stanley's Party illustrated by Bill Slavin (Jacki)
- Stanley's Wild Ride illustrated by Bill Slavin (Jacki)
Baillie, Martha
- the Incident Report (Raidergirl, Corey)
Barclay, Isabel
- O Canada (Nicola)
Barclay, Linwood
- Fear the Worst (Nicola, Luanne, Kerri, Teena, Mark)
- Never Look Away (Luanne, Nicola)
- No Time For Goodbye (Raidergirl)
- Too Close to Home (Kerri)
Bateman, Robert
- Vanishing Habitats with Nancy Kovacs (Nicola)
Beattie, Owen and John Geiger
- Frozen in Time: The Fate of The Franklin Expedition (Bybee)
Bemrose, John
- The Last Woman (Pooker, Sandra)
Benham, Leslie and Lois
- The Heroine of Long Point illustrated by Vernon Mould (Nicola)
Bergen, David
- Sitting Opposite My Brother (Pooker)
Berton, Pierre
- Just Add Water (Matilda)
Bezmozgis, David
- Natasha and Other Stories (Pooker)
Birdsell, Sandra
- The Two-Headed Calf (Pooker)
Bishop-Stall, Shaughnessy
- Ghosted (JK)
Bischoff, Theanna
- Cleavage (Melwyk)
Biscott, Lynn
- The Boomers Retire (Teena)
Blanchet, Pascal
- White Rapids (Gavin)
Bloomfield, Lori Ann
- The Last River Child (Chris, Luanne, Becky)
Blunt, Giles
- No Such Creature (Sandra, Mark)
Bociurkiw, Marusya
- The Children of Mary (Melwyk)
Borel, Kathryn
- Corked (B. Kienapple)
Boulton, Marsha
- Wally's World (Jacki)
Bowen, Gail
- Verdict in Blood (Gypsysmom)
Bowling, Tim
- The Paperboy's Winter (Wanda)
Boyden, Joseph
- Through Black Spruce (Patricia, Kerri, Raidergirl)
Bradley, Alan
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Nathan, Eva, Raidergirl, Lahni, Kerri, Lesley, Kate)
- The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag (Corey, Luanne, Chris, Kerri, Nicola, Nathan)
Brett, Brian
- Trauma Farm (Luanne)
Brown, Chester
- I Never Liked You (Chris)
- Louis Riel (Chris, Lesley)
Brunt, Stephen
- Fighting Ali (Teena)
- Searching for Bobby Orr (Raidergirl)
Buchanan, Cathy Marie
- The Day the Falls Stood Still (Nicola, Kailana, Kate, Lynn)
Buckworth, Kathy
- Shut Up and Eat (Teena)
Burns, Cliff
- The Reality Machine (Corey)
Butala, Sharon
- Lunaby (Melanie)
- The Perfection of the Morning (B. Kienapple)
Cameron, Christian
- Tyrant: Funeral Games (Claire)
Campbell, Maria
- People of the Buffalo (Heather, Teddy Rose)
Capponi, Pat
- Last Stop Sunnyside (Lynn)
Carpenter, David
- Niceman Cometh (Melanie)
Carr, Emily
- Klee Wyck (Gavin)
- The Book of Small (Gavin)
Castellucci, Cecil
- The PLAIN Janes (Lesley)
Catton, Eleanor
- The Rehearsal (Pooker)
Chercover, Sean
- Trigger City (Teena)
Chiasson, Hermenegilde
- Beatitudes (Matilda)
Childs, Thomas J.
- Bettina (Pooker)
Chong, Denise
- The Girl in the Picture (Eva)
Choy, Wayson
- All That Matters (Scrat)
- The Jade Peony (Scrat, Raidergirl, JK, B. Kienapple, MyNovelReviews, Tara, Charlotte, August, Leya)
- Not Yet (Ariel)
Choyce, Lesley
- Beautiful Sadness (John)
Christopher, Neil
- Stories of the Amautalik illustrated by Larry MacDougall (John)
Clark, Joan
- Road to Bliss (Pooker)
Clarke, George Elliot
- Whylah Falls (Steve)
Coady, Lynn
- Play the Monster Blind (Pooker)
- Saints of Big Harbour (Steve, Teena)
Coady, Mary Frances
- The Practice of Perfection (Sandra)
Colapinto, John
- As Nature Made Him (Kailana)
Cole, Trevor
- Fearsome Particles (Tara, Pooker)
Comeau, Joey
- One Bloody Thing After Another (Corey)
Connelly, Karen
- The Lizard Cage (Raidergirl)
Cooper, Afua
- Hanging of Angelique (Charlotte)
- My Name is Phillis Wheatley (Becky)
Cohen, Bruce and Brian Fitzgerald
- The Pension Puzzle (Teena)
Coren, Stanley
- The Intelligence of Dogs (Jacki)
- The Modern Dog (Jacki)
Coupland, Douglas
- Generation A (Corey, Remi, Chris, Lahni, Raidergirl)
- Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (Pooker, August, B. Kienapple, Tara, Charlotte)
- Souvenir of Canada (Raidergirl)
Craig, Alisa
- Murder Goes Mumming (Gypsysmom)
Crewe, Lesley
- Ava Comes Home (Chris)
- Shoot Me (Teena)
Crosbie, Lynn
- Liar (Matilda)
Crummey, Michael
- Galore (John, Luanne, Kate, Rosalynn, Teddy Rose)
- River Thieves (Lesley)
Crymble, Lynn
- It Can Happen to You (Luanne, Lynn)
Cuthland, Beth
- The Little Duck- Sikihpsis illustrated by Mary Longman (Heather)
Czajkowski, Chris
- Lonesome: Memoirs of a Wilderness Dog (Jacki)
Davidge, Bud
- The Mummer's Song illustrated by Ian Wallace (Wanda)
Davidson, Andrew
- The Gargoyle (Scrat, Heather, Raidergirl)
Davies, Robertson
- Fifth Business (Raidergirl)
- Leaven of Malice (August)
- The Lyre of Orpheus (Steve, GeraniumCat)
- A Mixture of Frailties (August)
- Rebel Angels (Ariel, Steve, GeraniumCat)
- Tempest Tost (August)
- What's Bred in the Bone (GeraniumCat)
Dawson, David Laing
- Don't Look Down (Heather)
Defeede, Jeff
- The Day The World Came to Town (Eva)
Delany, Vicki
- In the Shadow of the Glacier (Leya)
De La Roche, Mazo
- Wakefield's Course (GeraniumCat)
- White Oaks of Jalna (Steve)
De Lint, Charles
- Dreams Underfoot (Susan)
- Drink Down the Moon (Susan)
- Forests of the Heart (Kailana)
- Jack the Giant Killer (Susan)
- Little (Grrl) Lost (Pussreboots)
- Memory and Dream (Eva)
- Muse and Reverie (Pussreboots)
- The Mystery of Grace (Pussreboots)
- Wild Wood (Pussreboots)
Delisle, Guy
- Pyongyang (Lesley)
Dey, Claudia
- Stunt (Pooker)
Dickison, Stephanie
- the 30 Second Commute (Joanne)
Dickner, Nicolas
- Nikolski translated by Lazer Lenderhendler (Buried in Print, JK, Sandra, August, Charlotte, Lynn, B.Kienapple)
Doctorow, Cory
- Eastern Standard Tribe (Claire)
- For the Win (Claire)
Dow, Lisa
- It Would Be Funny If...It Wasn't My Life (Kerri)
Drummond, Robbie Newton
- Arctic Circle Songs (John)
Echlin, Kim
- The Disappeared (Kate, MyNovelReviews, Scrat)
Edwards, Melissa
- The Geist Atlas of Canada (Claire)
Emery, Anne
- Barrington Street Blues (Lynn)
Enahoro, Carole
- Doing Dangerously Well (Luanne)
Endicott, Marina
- Good to a Fault (Scrat, Raidergirl, MyNovelReviews, Charlotte, Sandra, August, B. Kienapple, JK)
Evans, Polly
- Mad Dogs and an English Woman (Jacki)
Falcone, L.M.
- The Mysterious Mummer (John)
Farrow, John
- City of Ice (Gypsysmom)
Ferguson, Will
- Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw (Kerri)
Files, Gemma
- The Book of Tongues (Claire)
Finch, Robert
- The Iambics of Newfoundland (Kailana)
Findley, Timothy
- Not Wanted on the Voyage (Chris)
Fleming, Ann Marie
- The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (Lesley)
Fletcher, Katherine
- Capital Walks (Nathan)
Fleury, Theo
- Playing with Fire with Kirstie McLellan Day (Kerri)
Fowles, Stacey May
- Fear of Fighting (August, JK)
- She's Shameless anthology co-edited with Megan Griffith-Greene (Teena)
Fraser, Ivan
- Peggy of the Cove (Wanda)
Freedman, Benedict and Mary Freedman
- Mrs. Mike (Lesley)
Gabriele, Lisa
- Tempting Fate DiNapoli (Leya)
Galchen, Rivka
- Atmospheric Disturbances (B. Kienapple, Ariel)
Galloway, Stephen
- The Cellist of Sarajevo (Ariel, John, Bybee, Jules, Lahni)
Gardiner, Scott
- King John of Canada (Steve)
Gay, Marie-Louise
- When Stella was Very, Very Small (Teddy Rose)
Gibb, Camilla
- Sweetness in the Belly (Kailana)
Gibson, William
- All Tomorrow's Parties (August)
- Count Zero (August)
- Idoru (August)
- Mona Lisa Overdrive (August)
- Neuromancer (August)
- Virtual Light (August)
Giles, W. Mark
- Knucklehead and Other Stories (Patricia)
Gilmour, David
- The Film Club (Pooker)
Gladwell, Malcolm
- Blink (Mark)
- Outliers (Mark)
- The Tipping Point (Mark)
Glenn, Joshua and Mark Kingwell
- The Idler's Glossary (Rosalynn)
Glover, Douglas
- Elle (Matilda)
Goldstein, Jonathan
- Ladies and Gentlemen The Bible! (Ariel, Corey)
Gough, Laurence
- Heartbreaker (Gypsysmom)
Govani, Shinan
- Boldface Names (B. Kienapple)
Gowdy, Barbara
- Falling Angels (My Novel Reviews)
Grant, Jessica
- Come, Thou Tortoise (Scrat, Corey, John, JK)
Gray, Charlotte
- Nellie McClung (Raidergirl)
Greenwood, Barbara
- Gold Rush Fever (Nicola)
- The Last Safe House (Nicola)
- A Pioneer Story (Nicola)
- A Pioneer Thanksgiving (Nicola)
- A Pioneer Christmas (Nicola)
Greer, Darren
- Still Life With June (B. Kienapple)
Grescoe, Taras
- The Devil's Picnic (Eva)
Grissom, Kathleen
- The Kitchen House (Luanne)
Gruen, Sara
- Water for Elephants (Patricia)
Gunn, Carla
- Amphibian (Corey, JK)
Harasymchuk, Rob
- The Joining of Dingo Radish (Pooker)
Harvey, Kenneth J.
- Blackstrap Hawco (John)
Haworth-Attard, Barbara
- Haunted (Nicola)
Hay, Elizabeth
- Late Nights on Air (Geranium Cat, Wanda)
- A Student of Weather (Gavin)
Heidbreder, Robert
- Drumheller Dinosaur Dance illustrated by Bill Slavin and Esperanca Melo (John)
Helm, Michael
- In the Place of Last Things (Rosalynn)
Hendley, Nate
- Toronto Book of Everything (Teena)
Heti, Sheila
- Ticknor (Sandra)
Heuer, Karsten
- Being Caribou (Kerri)
Hicks, Faith Erin
- The War at Ellsmere (Nicola)
Highway, Tomson
- The Rez Sisters (Eva, Susan)
- Fox on the Ice (Teddy Rose)
- Dragonfly Kites (Teddy Rose)
- Caribou Song (Teddy Rose)
Hill, Lawrence
- The Book of Negroes (Lahni, Ariel, John, Eva, Lesley, Debbie, Raidergirl)
Hitzer, Rolf
- Hoodoo Sea (Nicola, Gautami)
Hobbs, Will
- Jason's Gold (Nicola)
Hollingshead, Greg
- The Healer (Scrat)
Hooton, Matthew
- Deloume Road (Luanne, Raidergirl)
Hopkinson, Nalo
- The New Moon's Arms (Chris)
Horvath, Polly
- My One Hundred Adventures (Pussreboots)
Humphreys, Helen
- the Lost Garden (Geranium Cat, Kailana)
- The Frozen Thames (Heather)
Hyde, Anthony
- The Red Fox (Susan)
Ilsley, George K
- ManBug (Corey)
Itani, Frances
- Leaning, Leaning Over Water (Pooker)
- Remembering the Bones (Nathan, Lesley, Raidergirl)
Jameson, Anna Brownell
- Winter Studies and Summer Ramblings (Susan)
Janes, Percy
- House of Hate (Steve)
Jarman, Mark Antony
- 19 Knives (Pooker)
- Salvage King, Ya! (Steve)
Jarratt, Melynda
- War Brides (Kailana)
Jewison, Cathy
- The Ugly Truck and Dog Contest and Other Stories (John)
Jocelyn, Marthe
- Would You (Lahni, Joanne)
Joel, Mitch
- Six Pixels of Separation (Mark)
Johnson, P.J.
- Rhymes of the Raven Lady (John)
Johnston, Basil
- By Canoe & Moccasin (Heather)
- Crazy Dave (Heather)
Johnston, Wayne
- Human Amusements (My Novel Reviews)
Jones, Amy
- What Boys Like & Other Stories (Pooker)
Joyce, Ron
- Always Fresh (Teena)
Jumbo, Sheyenne and Mindy Willett
- Come and Learn With Me photography by Tessa Macintosh (John)
Kaslik, Ibi
- Skinny (Kerri)
Kaufman, Andrew
- All My Friends Are Superheroes (Remi)
- The Waterproof Bible (Corey, Scrat, Clair)
Kelly, Michael (editor)
- Apparitions (Mark)
Kelly, Michael and Carol Weeks
- Ouroboros (Mark)
Kennedy, Ellen
- Silent Watch (Linda)
Kenyon, Michael
- The Beautiful Children (John)
Kidd, Monica
- Beatrice (Pooker)
Kimber, Stephen
- Sailors, Slackers, and Blind Pigs (Teena)
King, Thomas
- Green Grass Running Water (Eva, Rosalynn)
Kirkby, Mary-Ann
- I Am Hutterite (Patricia)
Klassen, Sarah
- Simone Weil, Songs of Hunger and Love (John)
Knowles, Mike
- Darwin's Nightmare (Corey)
Kogawa, Joy
- Obasan (Eva)
Kusugak, Michael
- The Littlest Sled Dog illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka (Debbie)
Lake, Nick
- The Secret Ministry of Frost (GeraniumCat)
Lam, Vincent
- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Barbara, Leya)
Lane, Dawn Beaumont
- Fairy Glade (Pussreboots)
Lane, Patrick
- Red Dog Red Dog (Ariel, Kerri)
Lansens, Lori
- The Wife's Tale (Nathan, Luanne, Kate, Pooker, Lesley)
Lau, Evelyn
- Runaway (Debbie)
Laurence, Margaret
- A Bird in the House (Gautami)
- The Diviners (Remi)
Lawless, Kathleen
- Wicked Night Games (Heather)
Lawson, Hope
- Mercury (Chris)
Lawson, JonArno
- Think Again (Matilda)
Lawson, Mary
- Crow Lake (Patricia)
Leacock, Stephen
- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Steve)
Lee, Dennis
- Alligator Stew: Favourite Poems (Nicola)
Lee, Y.S.
- A Spy in the House (Nicola)
Lemire, Jeff
- The Country Nurse (Wanda, John)
- The Nobody (John)
- Tales from the Farm (John, Debbie, Wanda)
- Ghost Stories (Wanda, John)
Leslie, Mark (editor)
- Campus Chills (Mark)
- North of Infinity II (Nathan)
Lester, David
- The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism (Debbie)
Little, Jean
- Exiles from the War (Nicola)
- The Sweetest One of All illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin (Kate)
Livesay, Dorothy
- Journey With My Selves (Buried in Print)
London, Jack
- Call of the Wild (Jacki)
Lotz, Jim
- Killing in Kluane (Gypsysmom)
Ludwig, Sidura
- Holding My Breath (Melanie)
Lunn, Janet
- Larger Than Life (Nicola)
Lush, Laura
- Going to the Zoo (Pooker)
Lyon, Annabel
- The Golden Mean (Kate, Gavin)
- Oxygen (My Novel Reviews)
MacDonald, Ann-Marie
- Fall on Your Knees (Sandra, JK, August, B. Kienapple)
MacGregor, Roy
- The Dog and I (Jacki)
MacIntyre, Linden
- The Bishop's Man (Raidergirl, Kate, Debbie, Scrat)
MacLean, Stuart
- Vinyl Cafe Diaries (Raidergirl)
MacLennan, Hugh
- The Watch That Ends The Night (Remi)
Macleod, Alison
- Wave Theory of Angels (Ariel)
MacLeod, Alistair
- No Great Mischief (Saray)
MacLeod, Elizabeth
- Alexander Graham Bell: An Inventive Life (Nicola)
- Helen Keller: A Determined Life (Nicola)
Macnab, Sophia
- The Diary of Sophia Macnab (Nicola)
MacPherson, Andrea
- Beyond the Blue (Leya)
Maffini, Mary Jane
- Death Loves a Messy Desk (Nathan)
Maharaj, Rabindranth
- The Amazing Absorbing Boy (Corey)
Major, Kevin
- Ann and Seamus (Wanda)
Malone, Stephens Gerard
- I Still Have A Suitcase in Berlin (Wanda)
- Miss Elva (Scrat)
Mandel, Emily St. John
- Last Night in Montreal (Mark)
Martel, Yann
- Beatrice & Virgil (Kate, Corey, Lahni)
- Life of Pi (Jules)
Mayor, Chandra
- Cherry (Pooker)
McAdam, Colin
- Fall (Kate)
McAlpine, Mary
- The Other Side of Silence: a Life of Ethel Wilson (BuriedInPrint)
McEnzie, Catherine
- Spin (Luanne, Lynn)
McEnzie, Grant
- Switch (Nicola, Teena, Mark)
McKay, Ami
- The Birth House (Steve)
McLeod, Tom and Mindy Willett
- The Delta is My Home (Heather)
McNaughton, Janet
- Dragon Seer (Heather)
Mercer, Jeremy
- Time Was Soft There (Lesley)
Metcalf, John
- Shooting the Stars (Pooker)
Michaels, Anne
- Fugitive Pieces (Pooker)
- the Winter Vault (Scrat, Kate)
Millar, Margaret
- How Like and Angel (Heather)
Mitchell, Shandi
- Under This Unbroken Sky (Melanie, B. Kienapple)
Mitchell, W.O.
- Jake and The Kid (Corey)
Montgomery, L. M.
- Anne of Green Gables (Chris, Nathan)
- The Blue Castle (Lynn)
- The Blythes are Quoted (Charlotte)
- Kilmeny of the Orchard (Becky)
- A Tangled Web (Gypsysmom)
Moore, Jeffrey
- The Memory Artists (Kerri)
Moore, Linda
- Foul Deeds (Gypsysmom, Teena)
Moore, Lisa
- February (Heather, Remi, Matilda)
Moore, Marsha
- 24 Hours London (Luanne)
Morgan, Anna and Dr. Rachel Turkienicz
- My (Worse) Best Sleepover Party (Heather)
Morgan, Bernice
- Random Passage (Sandra)
Morrissey, Donna
- What They Wanted (Barbara)
Morton, Alexandra
- In The Company of Whales (Gavin)
Moss, John
- Still Waters (Geranium Cat)
Mowat, Farley
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (Jacki, Geranium Cat)
- Grey Seas Under (Pussreboots)
- Never Cry Wolf (Geranium Cat)
Munday, Evan
- Quarter Life Crisis (B. Kienapple)
Munce, Alayna
- When I Was Young and In My Prime (Remi)
Munro, Alice
- Too Much Happiness (Kate, Rosalynn)
- The View from Castle Rock (Raidergirl, 3M)
Munroe, Jim
- Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask (Pooker)
Munsch, Robert
- From Far Away with Saoussan Askar and illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Teddy Rose)
- The Paperbag Princess illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Teddy Rose, Bybee)
- The Sand Castle Contest illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Lesley)
- Stephanie's Ponytail illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Teddy Rose)
- Where is Gah-Ning? illustrated by Helene Desputeaux (Teddy Rose)
Murphy, Dennis Richard
- Darkness at the Stroke of Noon (Gypsysmom)
Murray, Anne
- All of Me (Teena)
Nadir, Leilah
- The Orange Trees of Baghdad (Kate)
Narsimhan, Mahtab
- The Silver Anklet (Nicola)
Newfeld, Frank
- Drawing on Type (Charlotte)
Nielsen, Susin
- Word Nerd (JK)
Norman, Howard
- The Bird Artist (Gypsysmom, Steve)
- My Famous Evening (Lesley)
- The Northern Lights (Steve)
North, Dick
- The Lost Patrol (John)
North, Suzanne
- Seeing is Deceiving (Gypsysmom)
Novik, Mary
- Conceit (Sandra)
Obamsawim, Diane
- Kaspar (Chris)
Ohi, Ruth
- Chicken, Pig, Cow on the Move (Teddy Rose)
Olson, Sheree-Lee
- Sailor Girl (Kate)
O'Malley, Bryan Lee
- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Joanne)
- Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Joanne)
- Scott Pilgrim & Infinite Sadness (Joanne)
- Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Joanne)
- Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe (Joanne)
Ondaatje, Michael
- Divisadero (Bybee)
O'Neill, Heather
- Lullabies for Little Criminals (Heather)
O'Neill, Paul
- Fish For Dinner (Chris)
Onstad, Katrina
- How Happy to be (August, Charlotte)
Oppel, Kenneth
- Airborn (Lahni, Charlotte)
- A Bad Case of Ghosts (Nicola)
- A Crazy Case of Robots (Nicola)
- Skybreaker (Lahni)
- A Strange Case of Magic (Nicola)
O'Reilly, Terry
- The Age of Persuasion with Mike Tennant (Barbara, Raidergirl)
Ostenso, Martha
- Wild Geese (Melwyk, Charlotte, August)
Pacey, Desmond
- Ethel Wilson (BuriedInPrint)
Page, Kathy
- The Find (GeraniumCat)
Patterson, Kevin
- Consumption (Wanda)
Pattison, Brad
- Synergy and Training Between Man and Dog (Jacki)
- Unleashed (Jacki)
Peacock, Shane
- Death in the Air (Nicola)
- Vanishing Girl (Nicola)
Pearson, Patricia
- A Brief History of Anxiety (Clairification)
Pelley, Chad
- Away From Everywhere (Wanda, Corey)
Penny, Louise
- The Brutal Telling (Gautami, Leya)
- The Cruellest Month (Raidergirl)
- Dead Cold (Raidergirl)
- The Murder Stone (Leya)
- Still Life (Raidergirl, Gavin, Eva)
Phelan, Susan
- The Cure (Heather)
Phillips, Edward O.
- Queen's Court (Lynn)
Pitt, Stephen
- My Life and Other Lies (Heather)
Pohl-Weary, Emily
- A Girl Like Sugar (Teena)
Poliquin, Daniel
- A Secret Between Us (Ariel)
Powning, Beth
- The Sea Captain's Wife (Scrat, Luanne, Chris)
Preston, Allison
- Cherry Bites (Gypsysmom)
Pullinger, Kate
- Mistress of Nothing (B. Kienapple, Kate)
Pynn, Susan
- The Colours of My Home illustrated by Nancy Keating (Wanda)
Pyper, Andrew
- The Wildfire Season (Wanda)
Quarrington, Paul
- Galveston (Kerri)
- The Spirit Cabinet (Pooker)
Raddall, Thomas H.
- Halifax: Warden of the North (Steve)
- The Nymph and the Lamp (B. Kienapple)
Rayner, Mark A.
- Marvellous Hairy (Corey)
Redekop, Corey
- Shelf Monkey (Scrat)
Redhill, Michael
- Consolation (Remi)
Rees, Kent Allan
- Molly Withers and the Golden Tree (Jules)
Reid, Mark
- 100 Photos That Changed Canada (Teena)
Reichs, Kathy
- 206 Bones (Kate)
- Bones to Ashes (Susan)
Remington, Robert and Sherri Zickefoose
- Runaway Devil (Debbie)
Ricci, Nino
- Origin of the Species (Wanda)
Richardson, Bill
- Oddball @ Large (Pooker)
Richardson, C.S.
- The End of the Alphabet (Jules, Lynn)
Richardson, Evelyn
- We Keep a Light (Steve, Teena)
Richler, Mordecai
- Barney's Version (Remi)
- Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang (Mark)
Ritter, Erika
- The Dog Beside the Table, the Serpent Beneath (Jacki)
- The Secret Life of Humans (Jacki)
Robertson, Ray
- Moody Food (August, Charlotte)
- What Happened Later (Matilda)
Robinson, Eden
- Bloodsport (Heather)
Robinson, Peter
- The Penguin Book of Short Stories Vol. II editor (Luanne)
- The Price of Love and Other Stories (Luanne)
Rooke, Leon
- The Last Shot (Steve)
Ross, Sinclair
- As For Me and My House (Melwyk)
Rotenberg, Robert
- Old City Hall (Lynn)
Rothman, Claire Holden
- The Heart Specialist (Ariel, Linda)
Rubin, Jeff
- Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller (August)
Salamon, Daria
- the Prairie Bridesmaid (Pooker)
Sandham, James
- The Entropy of Aaron Rosclatt (Sandra)
Sawler, Harvey
- Last Canadian Beer: The Moosehead Story (Mark)
Sawyer, Robert J.
- Flashforward (Susan)
- Wake (Nathan)
- Watch (Nathan, Mark)
Schnitzer, Deborah
- An Unexpected Break in the Weather (Pooker)
Schoemperlen, Dianne
- At a Loss for Words (Matilda)
Schroeder, Karl
- The Sunless Countries (Pussreboots)
- Sun of Suns (Pussreboots)
Schultz, Emily
- Heaven is Small (Heather, Corey, JK)
Seymour, David
- Inter Alia (John)
Shatner, William
- Up Till Now (Nicola)
Shields, Carol
- Unless (3M)
Shiraz
- Defenders of the Scroll (Nicola)
Shrier, Howard
- Buffalo Jump (Teena)
- High Chicago (Teena)
Shirriff, Charles W.
- Spirits of a Feather (Pooker)
Shubin, Neil
- Your Inner Fish (Pussreboots)
Simpson, Anne
- Falling (Raidergirl)
Singh, Jaspreet
- Chef (Gavin)
Sinnett, Mark
- The Carnivore (B. Kienapple)
Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk
- Stolen Child (Nicola)
Slade, Arthur
- The Hunchback Assignments (Kailana, Nicola)
Slade, Michael
- Red Snow (Luanne, Lynn, Mark)
Smith, Ray
- Century (August)
Smith, Russell
- Girl Crazy (Remi, Kate)
- Muriella Pent (Rosalynn)
Snopek, Roxanne Willems
- Great Dog Stories (Jacki)
Snyder, Carrie
- Hair Hat (Charlotte, August)
Spires, Ashley
- Binky the Space Cat (Nicola)
Stanger-Ross, Ilana
- Sima's Undergarments for Women (Teena)
Stegner, Wallace
- Wolf Willow (Pussreboots)
Steltzer, Ulli
- The Spirit of Haida Gwaii (John)
Stephens, Jay
- Monsters! Draw Your Own Mutants, Freaks & Creeps (Pussreboots)
Stouck, David
- Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography (BuriedInPrint)
Strube, Cordelia
- Lemon (B. Kienapple, Pooker)
Sweatman, Margaret
- The Players (Corey)
Szumigalski, Anne
- When Earth Leaps Up (John)
Tamaki, Mariko
- Skim illustrated by Jillian Tamaki(Pussreboots, Eva, John)
Tardif, Cheryl Kaye
- The River (Gypsysmom)
Taylor, Drew Hayden
- Motorcycles & Sweetgrass (Luanne, Raidergirl)
Theis, Leona
- The Art of Salvage (Melanie)
Thomas, Joan
- Reading by Lightning (B. Kienapple, Pooker, Gavin)
Tibbo, Gilles
- Where's My Hockey Sweater? illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin (John)
Toews, Miriam
- A Boy of Good Breeding (Bybee)
- a complicated kindness (Kerri)
- The Flying Troutmans (Rosalynn, Scrat, Nicola, Wanda)
Torres, J.
- Allison Dare: Little Miss Adventures illustrated by J. Bone (Nicola)
Towell, Ann
- Grease Town (Teddy, Nicola)
Trail, Gayla
- Grow Great Grub (Chris)
Tremblay, Michel
- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (Tanabata)
- Therese and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel (Charlotte)
Trofimuk, Thomas
- Waiting for Columbus (Luanne, Lynn)
Turner, Max
- Night Runner (Becky, Heather)
Urquhart, Jane
- L.M. Montgomery (Buried in Print)
Van Camp, Richard
- The Moon of Letting Go and other stories (Pooker)
Vanier, Jean
- Our Life Together (Kate)
Van Keuren, Luise
- Raven, Stay By Me (Debbie)
Van Rooy, Michael
- An Ordinary Decent Criminal (Teena)
Vassanji, M.G.
- The Book of Secrets (Gavin, Kate)
Viswanathan, Padma
- The Toss of a Lemon (B. Kienapple)
Von Kampen, Bettina
- Blue Becomes You (Melanie)
Vreeland, Susan
- The Forest Lover (Eva)
Wake, Val
- White Bird Black Bird (John)
Wales, Dirk
- Jack London's Dog (John)
Wallace, Frederick William
- Blue Water (Steve)
Walton, Jo
- Farthing (Clair)
- Half a Crown (Clair)
- Ha' Penny (Clair)
- Tooth and Claw (Susan)
Warren, Dianne
- Cool Water (Luanne, Melwyk)
- A Reckless Moon (Melwyk)
Wasserman, Bryna
- The Naked Island (Scrat)
Watts, Irene N.
- Good-Bye Marianne illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker (Wanda)
Watt, Melanie
- Chester (Susan)
- Scaredy Squirrel (Susan)
Watts, Peter
- Blindsight (Clair)
West, Michelle
- City of Night (Heather)
- The Hidden City (Heather)
- Hunter's Oath (Charlotte)
Wheeler, Jordan and Dennis Jackson
- Christmas at Wapos Bay (Heather)
Whittal, Zoe
- Holding Still for as Long as Possible (B. Kienapple, Remi)
Wiersema, Robert J
- Before I Wake (Claire
- The World More Full of Weeping (Gavin, Lynn, Claire, Nathan)
Willis, Deborah
- Vanishing & Other Stories (Pooker)
Wills, Gabriele
- The Summer Before the Storm (Teddy)
Wilson, Ethel
- The Equations of Love (BuriedInPrint)
- The Innocent Traveler (BuriedInPrint)
- Love and Salt Water (BuriedInPrint)
- Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories (BuriedInPrint)
- Stories, Essays and Letters edited by David Stouck (BuriedInPrint)
- Swamp Angel (BuriedInPrint)
Windley, Carol
- Home Schooling (Pooker)
Winter, Michael
- All This Happened (Remi)
With, Cathleen
- Having Faith in the Polar Girls' Prison (John)
Wolfe, Inger Ash
- The Calling (Nicola)
- The Taken (Luanne, Nicola)
Wright, L.W.
- Prized Possessions (Susan)
Wright, Richard B
- Clara Callan (Raidergirl)
- October (Jules)
Young, Terence
- Rhymes With Useless (Pooker)
Zelinski, Ernie J.
- How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free (Teena)
Zipp, Steve
- Yellowknife (Gavin, Kerri, Luanne, MyNovelReviews, Kate)

Special thanks to the following companies and individuals for their support in making the 3rd Canadian Book Challenge possible, through donations, promotion, and more: Random House, Brick Books, Chris@Bookarama, Val Wake, Theresa Kishkan, the National Post, the Yellowknifer, Johnna Abdou, and of course, you, the readers of Canadian books.

I've had so much fun again this time around. It was wonderful to have challenge regulars participate with some new faces. There were books by some well-knowns authors (Atwood, Davies, and Coupland) and books by lesser known authors (Kenyon, Bishcoff, and Phelan). Lots of books about dogs. Books by Anne Murray, Theo Fleury, William Shatner, and Emily Carr. Books about retirement. Books by and about Ethel Wilson. Graphic novels, picture books, YA, nonfiction, genre fiction, literary fiction, short story collections, plays and poetry. Even a "how to draw monsters" book. Books by Canadians, books about Canadians. Canada Reads titles. Governor General and Giller Prize winners. Books from every province and territory. All reviewed by participants from Canada and around the world. I hope to see you all again, along with your friends, for the Canadian Book Challenge 4!

Exploring, celebrating, and promoting Canadian books. Together.