Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 5th Annual Canadian Book Challenge- November Roundup (Sticky Post-- Scroll down for most recent post)




How to add your link:
1. Click on the icon above
2. Add a link to your review. (Please link to your specific review, not an entire webpage.)
3. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book, such as John Mutford (Anne of Avonlea)

Also, in the comment section below, tell me your grand total so far. (ex. This brings me up to 1/13)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post- Ann Weir's First 4 Reviews for The 5th Canadian Book Challenge


The Origin of Species – by Nino Ricci

Nino Ricci’s The Origin of Species tells the story of Alex, a graduate student living in Montreal in the 1980’s, and the diverse set of characters he interacts with on a day-to-day basis. Alex is dissatisfied and distant in most aspects of his life, unable to focus on his work, avoiding his therapist and being generally uncomfortable in his friendships and relationships. He lives largely absorbed by his past, notably by his experiences with his Swedish lover Ingrid and his past live-in girlfriend Liz. A disturbing incident in the Galapagos Islands, which is described in the second half of the book, continues to haunt him.

Nino Ricci’s writing has a lyrical quality and The Origin of Species is a beautifully written book. The diversity and character of the city of Montreal are nicely described, making me want to join Alex on one of his walks around the city. The story is populated by a diverse set of interesting characters, the inspiring Esther, the courageous Maria, Alex’s colleague Jiri who intrudes on Alex’s life and Desmond, Alex’s irksome Galapagos travel companion.

However, the personalities of Ingrid and Liz are ill defined and hard to relate to. It is also difficult to like Alex, or to understand what others see in him. When his experiences in the Galapagos Islands are revealed, the cause of his current problems becomes clearer. After understanding this part of Alex’s life, the story seemed to hang together a bit better for me. But despite being touching and thought provoking, the lack of a sympathetic main character made The Origin of Species a challenging and long read.

Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach – by Barbara Nickel

Barbara Nickel has written a book for all ages with Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach. The story is set equally in modern day Saskatchewan, where 12-year-old Hannah Waters has moved with her father after the tragic death of her mother, a professional violinist, and in Cohen, Germany in the 1720’s, the home of Catharina Dorthea Bach, aged 11, the only daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach. The two girls “meet” while experiencing stressful times in their young lives and imagine they see and hear each other while listening to or performing music.

Two common threads connect the girls lives, the first being their relationships with their parents. The struggle each girl experiences with her respective fathers is woven nicely throughout the story. While Catharina struggles largely in isolation, Nickel provides Hannah with other adult figures to rely on, with the benefit of adding some interesting characters to the book. The girls also share a love of Bach’s “Concerto for Two violins in D Minor”, also known as the Bach Double, one of Bach’s most famous and respected works. Nickel plays with the timing of when Bach composed the piece to fit the storyline. Both girls fall in love with the music, for Catharina as Bach composes it and for Hannah as she studies it. The time-stretched friendship is an unusual concept and in this case, it feels real, balanced nicely between imagination and reality.
Although written as a pre-teen story (ages 11+), I would also recommend this book for adults as it is a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting read.

River of the Brokenhearted – by David Adams Richards

David Adams Richards’ River of the Brokenhearted is a family saga of three generations of the King family which is set along the banks of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. After several setbacks in England, George King immigrates to New Brunswick in the 1920’s and marries the much younger Janie McLeary, a New Brunswick native of Irish descent. George and Janie are both talented musicians and after several failed attempts at business, George decides to buy a movie projector and open a theatre. Their success puts George and Janie at odds with Joey Elias, a successful local businessman. Joey has a relationship with the Druken family, also recent immigrants who coincidentally have a long standing feud with the King family carried over from England. The book covers the relationship between the Kings, the Drukens and Joey Elias over the next 75 years.

Having read a lot of Richards’ novels before, the themes of envy, greed and pettiness are familiar, as are the inclusion of some very sad and some very brave moments. However, I found his writing style different in this story, which is told from the viewpoint of Janie and George’s grandson Wendell. It reads very much like a story someone is telling their children or grandchildren about their family’s history. I felt a great deal of warmth and sympathy for Miles King, Wendell’s father, as he weathers the cruelty Rebecca Druken, one of the few truly evil characters that Richards has created. I found Miles’ respect and love for his wife and children so touching, rounding out his fascinating character. If you are a Richards fan, I think you will really enjoy this book.

The Flying Troutmans – by Miriam Toews

The Flying Troutmans is the story of a struggling family based in Manitoba who head out on an unusual road trip south of the border. Hattie Troutman returns home from Paris after receiving a desperate call from her 11 year-old niece Thebes. Hattie’s chronically mentally ill sister Min is in serious trouble and Thebes turns to Hattie, needing help for herself, her mother and her 15 year-old brother Logan. After successfully delivering Min to the psychiatric ward, Hattie, who is feeling overwhelmed at home with the two kids, decides to take them on a search for their estranged father Cherkis. With little to go on, Hattie packs up the kids and a van and heads south.

The story mainly focuses on Hattie’s growing relationship with Thebes and Logan and on their brother/sister relationship. The dialogue in this book is so well written, feeling absolutely natural and being quite funny at times despite the underlying sadness of the story. Thebes and Logan are great characters: quirky, funny, mature and talented. The author uses a series of flashbacks to shed light on Hattie’s relationship with Min and their parents as well as on Min’s experiences as a mother. The memories of Min with her children were the most touching, helping me to understand the source of their confidence and optimism. One of my favourite conversations Hattie has with Logan occurs while he is playing basketball:
“What do you think about when you shoot?”
“Nothing.”

“Oh really? You just concentrate entirely on shooting?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Do you worry that the ball won’t go in?”
“No, I always believe that it will. Every time.”

“Seriously? Even when you’ve missed a bunch of shots?”
“Yeah, I think it’s gonna go in every time.”
“And then, so, when it doesn’t go in do you feel all disillusioned?”

“No, not at all, ‘cause I’m always sure the next one will go in.”

I found it took a few chapters to warm up to this book, as Hattie’s situation is very difficult at first. But with a bit of a twist at the end, I felt genuinely happy and optimistic for Hattie, Min, Logan and Thebes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reader's Diary #779- Sarah Selecky: This Cake is for the Party

For the record, I'm a bigger fan of Margaret Atwood than Stephen King. Atwood crafts a sentence like nobody's business, but-- and this is odd considering his specialty is supernatural horror-- I'd give King the points for capturing domesticity.

I thought of this while reading Sarah Selecky's "This Cake Is for the Party" in November's Walrus. The 2nd sentence goes, "David is on the couch, cleaning under his fingernails with a corner of his Safeway card, and I’m in the kitchen, plucking red petals off a mini-rosebush plant, hoping they’re edible." No character in an Atwood novel would ever use a Safeway card. That's classic King.

And yet the story is far from supernatural horror-- it's about a couple going to visit friends who have recently engaged for a celebratory party. It's a subtle piece. It's a typical relationship, not perfect, and it probably won't last but this is never stated. It has the whitish smell of an orange just before it turns moldy and inedible. This is more Atwood.

King and Atwood make an interesting recipe for a story, I'd say.

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reader's Diary #778- Leena Krohn (translated by Anselm Hollo) : The Three Buddhas

As I mentioned yesterday I was contacted recently by a journalist named Verna Kuutti from Finland who was writing an article about Canadian literature. In return, it got me to thinking about Finnish authors.

Fortunately I was able to find a short story by Leena Krohn, a Finlandia Prize winner for literature, online. "The Three Buddhas" was originally written in Finnish but translated into English by Anselm Hollo.

Interestingly, much of the earlier part of the story is set in Japan. Still not down from the high of my Japan vacation two years ago, this was a pleasant surprise. It also had one of the best sentences I've read this year. Talking about Finland's stunted trees, she writes, "Their wood is dense and tough, their annual rings remain as narrow as engagement rings." I find that simile very poetic.

"The Three Buddhas" is an interesting story about believing in the supernatural, getting subtle messages or hints from some great beyond. As a skeptic who'd actually like to believe in magic, the story spoke to me. Rationalizing everything as a coincidence is my specialty. The most logical explanation usually isn't a ghost. But it would be nice.

I didn't love "The Three Buddhas" mostly because it felt like two stories in one, but the first half I quite enjoyed.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finnish your CanLit

Recently I and a bunch of other Canadian lit bloggers were contacted by a Finnish journalist writing about contemporary Canadian literature. I just visited Bella's Bookshelf where Steph posted her answers to the questions. I was quite impressed with her answers and felt, in hindsight, that I may have rushed mine. But I was even more impressed with the discussion that developed in the comments following her post. In the spirit of keeping that discussion alive, I've decided to follow her lead and post my responses as well. Feel free to disagree. In fact, looking it over again today, I think I even disagree with myself on a few points. In particular, when asked about a common factor that would describe the newest generation of Canadian writers, I reply that there are more female novelists than males. I have no idea if that's true and it was pretty irresponsible of me to suggest it. I'm sure that's just one of the points people may take exception to, but if something does bother you please let me know! As for the recommended book blogs and websites, I apologize in advance if I didn't include your blog. I just picked a few that came to mind and that would change at any given moment.

Enough with the disclaimers and apologies, here are my responses:


This year most of the nominees for important literary prizes were relatively fresh names. Do you think a generation shift is happening in Canadian literature? Or is it something that the media invented?

I do think there's a generational shift. Fairly or not, I think the younger generation considers the old club as stuffy: boring and way too serious. I don't think the media invented it at all. In fact, I think the media has held on to its hero-worship of some of old guard of writers longer than the general public. To be fair, the new generation of readers can also be somewhat fickle. There are, of course, some exceptions (Miriam Toews springs to mind), but fewer new authors will ever achieve the fan base of Margaret Atwood or Carol Shields. Not that the next great talent isn't out there, I just think newer readers are bigger risk takers. Instead of sticking with an author they know will be a safe bet, they want to try new names, new styles, and so on.

Could you name five of the most interesting writers that have published their first book after 2000?

1. Jeff Lemire 2. Scott Chantler (You'll note that my first 2 choices are actually graphic novelists. While still meeting some of the usual resistance, for the most part graphic novels are being accepted into Canada's literary scene with open arms. Definitely not the superhero variety - though Lemire does that, too-- I think Canada could lead the way with literary comics) 3. Joseph Boyden (Probably one of the more traditional novelists, in terms of style, on this list. But even with the shift in styles, it's good we aren't throwing out the baby with bath water.) 4. Stacey May Fowles (who does quirky right) 5. Ivan Coyote (technically, her first book came out in 98, but close enough. The master of self-reflection, Coyote's writing challenges social norms but with such humour people actually listen.)

Is there a common factor that would describe the newest generation of Canadian writers?

For starters there seem to be more female novelists than males. Other than that, I'd say quirkiness. The quirkiness is a mixed blessing. Certainly not as stuffy as before, but sometimes the quirkiness feels so forced it's hard to relate to any characters. And while urban literature is definitely on the rise, rural lit is still quite popular here despite most of our population living in larger centers.


What are the strengths of contemporary Canadian literature compared to literature coming from other countries?

We're actually getting a pulp fiction, or pop fiction, base now with genre writers like Alan Bradley, Robert J. Sawyer and Kelley Armstrong leading the way, but I think Canada is odd in that this is new. We've always been a literary sort of country. We've never had a Stephen King or Dan Brown equivalent. And while that might make us sound snooty, I do think the newer Canadian writers are "lightening up" so to speak, and the result is intelligent but entertaining writing.

Canadian indie music is quite well-known around the word – do you think Canadian literature could become an international brand, a guarantee of quality and a certain freshness? Or is it artificial to try to group young writers by labelling them ”Canadian literature”?

Hmmm, I'm not sure. On the one hand, I'd like to think that our novels speak of common human conditions, but on the other hand, Canada's identity issues (defined more by what we aren't than what we are) shape our writing. We're coming, I think, to terms with our personality being a disjointed personality. I hope that it, and the locales and references, would be of interest to outside readers, but I'm not in a position to judge that. While I love Canada's indie music scene and that it's gotten world recognition, I think a book is more personable than a 4 minute song.

Do you think there is a favorable and supportive climate in Canada for the emergence of new talents?

I'm sure a writer could answer this better than I, but I suspect so. I've heard some people knock the number of awards and writers festivals that we have, but I think promotion and recognition could only be a blessing. A couple of years ago Alice Munro withdrew her name from the Giller Prize shortlist as she stated she'd won twice before. That's support at its finest.


Does the wider public read contemporary writers?

Absolutely.
Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants and Emma Donogue's Room have had amazing success, for instance.

If somebody abroad wants to follow what happens in the Canadian literary world, what sources (blogs/websites) should they follow?

The Book Mine Set, of course. Chris at Bookarama. The Keepin' It Real Bookclub. And the Globe & Mail online book page is quite good.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reader's Diary #777- Isak Dinesen: The Blank Page

Isak Dinesen, a pen name for Danish author Karen Blixen, was the author behind Out of Africa, "Babette's Feast," and Seven Gothic Tales. I, however, was completely unaware of her or her writing until yesterday when I looked for a short story from Denmark. Though she died in 62, she certainly seems to have her fan base even still. Check out this website all about her life and works, maintained by Linda Donelson, a Dinesen scholar for over 30 years.

I set out to read "Babette's Feast" but couldn't find a free online copy so settled instead on "The Blank Page." It's framed as a story being told by an old lady who makes her living telling stories, as did generations of women before her. I get the impression Dinesen is describing a Gypsy character, though that term is never used. Fortunately the frame is as interesting as the story that follows, of a Portuguese convent that displays bedsheets donated from the royal family, sheets from the wedding nights of the princesses. It's a bit of a meandering story, but you do see the ending coming a little ways off. It's fascinating, and makes a strong case for the untold stories of the world.

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Word Play: Book Mine Set Review Wordles

Years ago, my future wife and I worked summer jobs on a crew of groundskeepers at Memorial University. Many days during our down times someone would throw out a simple trivia game: Name a band starting with N. Name an Al Pacino movie. And so on. It'd pass the time and was mild fun until one particular girl on the crew insisted on making it about her: Try and guess my favourite song! Who knows my favourite food? Irritating, but we've since had loads of fun at her expense. She's now the go-to reference when we make fun of self-absorbed people.

But today I'm the pot calling the kettle black. I'm turning all the attention on me. (Which is the point of a blog after all!) Really, I was just goofing around with Wordle, making word clouds of some of my past reviews to see how obvious it would be as to which book I was referring. How many can you recognize? Note: I think I've chosen some of the better known books than the more obscure books I've reviewed. I've also removed any reference to words in the title and the author's name.

As always, try to do all 10 at home but only answer 1 in the comment section. That way 9 others will have a chance to play along. Click on each Wordle for a larger image.

1.Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 1

2. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 2

3. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 3

4. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 4

5. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 5

6. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 6
7. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 7

8. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 8

9. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 9

10. Wordle: Book Mine Set Mystery Review 10

Like Wordles? Try my Quotable Wordles from 2 years ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reader's Diary #776- Sandra Dolan: Wooden Boats and Iron People

Published by the Mary Kaeser Library Board, I wasn't sure what to expect with Sandra Dolan's Wooden Boats and Iron People: The History of Fort Smith, NWT. With no offense intended to the board, I can't imagine they're often in the business of publishing, and outside of Fort Smith residents, I don't expect they'd count on a wide audience.

Which is unfortunate. Wooden Boats and Iron People is a charming book. With glossy photos, well-planned layouts, and most importantly, stellar writing, it comes across as a professional publication. And for Canadian history buffs, it's every bit as entertaining and enlightening as stuff published by large companies.

This summer I read a history of Yellowknife by Ray Price. For the most part I enjoyed it but complained that it got tedious with insignificant details. At a hundred pages, Dolan's writing is far more concise and yet covers much more ground. She starts way back in the days when Fort Smith was covered by the Wisconsin Ice Sheet and follows right up to the present day. She touches on treaties, the church, the schools, the fur trade, the role of Fort Smith as a transportation hub, John Franklin, mayors, landslides, and believe it or not, a whole lot more, without, amazingly feeling rushed.

As a bonus, I also found a few surprises. First-- and this actually relates more to all the northern nonfiction I've been reading lately-- is the interconnectedness of the towns in the Northwest Territories. Coming from a small outport in Newfoundland, I'm used to the idea of small remote towns being isolated and developing in a largely independent setting. While I'd have expected the towns of the Northwest Territories to be likewise, I'm quickly finding that's not necessarily the case. First off, the aboriginal people seemed to move around much more and secondly, as much trade and development depended on life along the various rivers, one town's growth had direct bearing on another. It seems they were not as isolated from one another as I'd assumed.

Secondly, it would appear that one of Fort Smith's largest resources is politics. I was quite taken aback by how many familiar politicians came from this town of about 2500 people. As the fourth largest town in the territory, it seems to have a disproportionate share of well-recognized faces. Good on them!

Wooden Boats and Iron People is by no means an objective book and is celebratory in tone. However it's also not an embarrassing tourist brochure that's high on praise, short on facts. It's an educational and entertaining read.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Reader's Diary #775- Tomson Highway: The Rez Sisters

Knocking the 2nd book off my Canadian Confession list, The Rez Sisters also completes my reading trek around the country for the Canadian Book Challenge (I used this one for Manitoba as Highway was born there, but it is set in Ontario).

It's also the first play I've read for this edition of the Canadian Book Challenge. I usually like reading plays, though I also usually suppose that seeing it performed would be the superior approach. I don't have any doubts with The Rez Sisters that I'd enjoy it more in person. Granted, it would depend on the acting and they'd certainly have their work cut out for them with this one.

The six sisters (some with each other, some half sisters, some in-law) are too hard to differentiate. The only really stand out characters are an adopted daughter who is a mentally handicapped adult and a bird character. I'm not sure what the problem is. When I see the various character issues broken down as is done here, it seems like it should have rather easy to distinguish one from the other. Perhaps the shared rough-around-the-edges personality overrode the facts. Then again, this many close relatives of the same gender, same generation, and same hometown are bound to have some things in common, aren't they? Maybe it was the frenetic pace that was too distracting to the individual personalities. On their quest to raise enough money to afford a trip into Toronto to attend the world's largest Bingo, I can't even remember who fought who, who wanted to be a country singer, who was sleeping with Big Joey, though I know all this stuff happened. But I figure with a well paced performance and with a strong cast who infuse their own interpretations into the roles, it would an entertaining play. Whether or not it's a depressing play would be up to the audience and/or the director's vision. While no one can argue that The Rez Sisters doesn't have a dark side, the hope you walk away with could be determined by whether or not a lack of positive change is the focal point, or if the relationships of these women is the focus.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Reader's Diary #774- Luigi Pirandello: War

(With no disrespect to Mr. Pirandello, I find his photo a little creepy. It's not him, it's the photography.)

With Remembrance Day coming up, I figured I'd take a moment to read a story about war, so I Googled war + short story and this one was right at the top. Which is quite good because as it turned out, I really enjoyed it.

"War" by Luigi Pirandello takes place on a train. A mother and father are off to see their son before he heads to the front. They are understandably upset, but soon they realize they are sharing a car with other parents who know exactly what they are going through. However, instead of drawing support from one another, they soon get into a heated debate about who has it worse. Itself could be a comment on the cause of wars.

Finally, one man appears to be the voice of reason. We soon see, however, that there's a time to think with the brain and a time to feel with the heart. Pirandello makes a strong case that we often get those times confused.

I quite enjoyed this story and it's quite short, so I'd recommend checking it out.

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

Friday, November 04, 2011

Reader's Diary #773- J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I learned a new world today: penultimate. The second to last in a series. Good to know. Likely I'll forget it, but good to know for now.

Especially as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince feels like a penultimate book. There are fewer flashbacks and recounting of past details, as if there is an assumption (a fair one) that few readers are likely to pick up this book without having some similarity with the previous story. And while there is a definite climax, it still feels like a stepping stone to the grand finale. I'm not complaining of this, just noting that the feel of this book is quite different.

Also differentiating the book are a few other style choices. In particular, Harry appears later in this book than in any of the previous books (he's not even in the first two chapters) and thankfully little time is spent on the Dursleys. And while Voldemort doesn't appear in the flesh himself, his presence is definitely felt and having him held back makes the reader both dread and look forward to the final showdown yet to come. Unlike the last book in which some readers complained about Harry's moodiness, he seems more focused and matured in this book.

My daughter took Dumbledore's death pretty hard, but her fury towards Snape gave her something else to focus on. She's too nice to admit it, but you can tell she wants blood. As for me, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is neither my favourite, nor least favourite in the series, but it felt necessary.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

5th Annual Canadian Book Challenge- 4th update


Another month, another 80+ books read. Last month's roundup included a couple of war books (perfect for the upcoming Remembrance Day), some past Canada Reads champs and contenders, a cookbook, and a handful of books with very long (more than 5 words) titles. Check them out, and please leave some comments when you read one another's reviews!

I know we've just finished Halloween, and I know how much we hate seeing Christmas decorations in the stores already, but I wanted to offer next month's prizes as potential Christmas presents. I also have to get them in before the year is out, seeing as both lots of prizes are celebrating anniversaries that happened in 2011:

1. From Scholastic Canada, it's the tenth anniversary of their wildly popular historical fiction for young readers series, Dear Canada:

That Fatal Night
by Sarah Ellis
It is May 1912, one month after the horrific sinking of the Titanic, and twelve-year-old survivor Dorothy Wilton is sent home from school in disgrace when she strikes another student. Although she's expelled, her sympathetic teacher encourages Dorothy to write an account of her experience on the ship, with the hopes that it will help Dorothy come to terms with her trauma.


and also by Sarah Ellis, A Prairie as Wide as the Sea:
Ivy Weatherall and her family leave a comfortable life in London for the promised riches of Canada's expanding West. Expecting to make their fortunes on Uncle Alf's ranch, the Weatheralls are shocked to find themselves living in a sod hut on a rented farm. Ivy is determined to taste life to the fullest, whatever hardships she may encounter. Writing in her diary, she recounts learning the new skills expected of a young farm girl. She struggles to help the family survive, but ultimately learns that responsibility brings its rewards.
But that's not all! Also included in this Scholastic Prize, in honour of our war veterans, comes 2 books from their newest series, I Am Canada aimed at 9-12 year olds: Shot at Dawn, by John Wilson, and Prisoner of Dieppe, by Hugh Brewster:

Alistair "Allie" Morrison lets his friend Mackie talk him into enlisting for WWII, even though he’s only 18. After months of endless training, Allie is eager for battle. But his first action is not just any battle . . . it’s the disastrous raid on the German-held port of Dieppe.

The reality of trench warfare comes as a shock to Allan McBride. Like many other young soldiers, he enthusiastically signed up for the chance to join the war effort and be a part of the fighting. But after months in the ravaged battlefields, watching men, including his friend Ken, get blown up by German shelling, something in Allan snaps and he leaves his unit, believing he is “walking home to Canada” to get help for a friend.


Whew! Pretty awesome prize pack, right? You might want to win them for a son, daughter, a niece, a nephew, a friend of the family, or if you're like me maybe you still enjoy reading youth fiction, for yourself.

But that's not the only give away this month. From Kids Can Press, I also have 4 copies of Franklin in the Dark to give away. Can you believe Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark's lovable turtle has been with us for 25 years? This anniversary edition of the book that started it all comes loaded with special features such including a look at the original manuscript, letters from the author and illustrator, and a collection of Franklin success stories.

With the Scholastic Prize Pack and the 4 individual copies of Franklin in the Dark up for grabs, you've got an awesome shot at a prize this month. All you need to do, if you're a Canadian Book Challenge participant, is either write in the comments below what your favourite Canadian children's book or YA novel is or better yet, review such a book in November as one of your November's reads (remember to come back here and let me know!), and you'll have your name entered in five random draws. Good luck!

Last month's prize pack was up for grabs for any participant who reviewed (and linked to) an award winning Canadian book. That prize goes to Shonna, for reviewing David Bezmozgis' Giller shortlisted The Free World. Congratulations Shonna, you've won these wonderful books, generously donated by HarperCollins Canada. Enjoy:

1.


2.


What are your reading plans for November? Has Canada Reads inspired you to read more nonfiction? Any new releases that you can't wait to get your hands on?

Don't forget to keep reviewing Canadian books in November. Share your links at the round-up post here.