Thursday, January 31, 2013

The 6th Canadian Book Challenge- January Round Up (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)
4. In the comment section below, tell me your grand total so far. (ex. This brings me up to 1/13)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reader's Diary #941- Jane Urquhart: Away


As I wrote last week, I began reading all 5 of this year's Canada Reads contenders all at the same time. I'd read 25 pages in one, pick up another, and so on. But when the cycle came back again to Jane Urquhart's Away, I wasn't particularly thrilled. I think, in hindsight, that I wasn't quite grasping just what in the heck was going on. The other 4 contenders are grounded in reality, whereas Urquhart's is... different.

However, before long I realized that the story of Away borrows from folklore and blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. I started to admire the ambition and found myself getting in to the story. Moving from Ireland, just prior to the potato famine, to the pre-Confederation days of Ontario, and into the present days, moving down the generations as it goes, Away is sweeping in scope, if lacking in a singular plot. It stood out from the other Canada Reads books, because of its style and ambition, but it was a comparison to another book that caused me the most problems: Michael Crummey's Galore.

Galore also borrowed from folklore and blurred the boundaries between fantasy and reality. It was also ambitious. It was also sweeping in scope. Unfortunately for Away, Galore was also superior. And as I've read Galore, all I could focus on was how good Away could have been.

It seems that every review of Away that I've read praises Urquhart's "lyrical" writing. Another way of saying this is purple prose, and Away is downright violet. Purple prose: noun Prose that is to elaborate or ornate. To move from the fantastical world, the supernatural and superstition of folklore, Urquhart really needed to balance it with harsh, succinct, and crisp reality. Her purple prose— or lyricism if you're still going to call it that— fit the former. But her forays into the real world were not real enough. Every character seemed to think as a poet and it grew tiresome.

In truth, the white house nearly blinded the six-year-old boy. Although he had been in the new country for almost three months, it was, nevertheless, the first particle of the new strangeness that he had allowed his gaze to rest upon. It shone in the Great Lake harbour like a lamp, brighter than the sun that lit it. As the lakeboat in which they rode moved through the waves towards shore, the house appeared to breathe heavily and draw itself up like something alive. The boy was afraid of it and enchanted by it and convinced that light was pouring out of, not into, its windows. In its rooms, he imagined there would be music like Mass being sung, but louder. 

Sure it's descriptive, perhaps even beautifully so, and sure kids have great imaginations. But come on. He's six. This doesn't ring true at all and it's like this throughout the entire book, regardless of what character is currently being highlighted. In a New York Times article titled "In Defense of Purple Prose," Paul Kent writes, "A writer who can't do purple is missing a trick. A writer who does purple all the time ought to have more tricks." If Urquhart has more tricks, she didn't reveal them in Away.

Again, I admire the ambition and grant that the writing is not run-of-the-mill, but I've seen this done better. But lucky for Away, Galore is not a contender this year, so who knows how it'll fare in the Canada Reads debate.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reader's Diary #940- Robert Sharp: Man May Love

(Not Robert Sharp)
I couldn't find any information about this week's Short Story Monday author Robert Sharp. I found his "Man May Love" at Flash Fiction Online, where it was featured a year ago as a Classic Flash. It first appeared in a collection called Short Stories From Life in 1916, which from what I could gather, was publication by Life Magazine as part of a contest called "The Shortest Story Contest." Flash fiction before the term was even coined. You can read the entire 81 stories here, if you're so inclined. The only author in the whole list that I recognize is John Kendrick Bangs, whose short story "The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall" I reviewed just last month. (If you decide to read the collection, the introduction is quite interesting in its discussion of what makes a short story and especially in how they use their cash payouts to encourage writers to cull their words.)

 Anyway, Robert Sharp's "Man May Love" is about a nurse named Claire who is not only tired of men in her care who propose to her, but of rejecting such men. With the latest, Geoffrey, Claire decides to make a deal, a deal that won't compromise her nursing ethics. If, a month after his discharge from the hospital, he is still interested she will consider his proposal.

I won't say how it ends, but it's a humourous tale, even it's somewhat old fashioned in its portrayal of women. I'd read more by Sharp, but I'm not sure if he ever wrote anything else! Kind of cool though that this is a contest entry from almost 100 years ago, and it still has life.

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


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reader's Diary #939- Lisa Moore: February


Shortly after Christmas a wonderful present arrived in the mail from the good people at CBC's Canada Reads: a set of all five of this years contenders. As I was on vacation when they arrived, I was late to begin and I'm hustling to have them all finished before the debates that begin on February 11th. In doing so, I've decided to read them concurrently, which might seem like a bit of madness. However, I very quickly realized it's the absolute best way for me to compare the books. The one I found myself returning to the most? Lisa Moore's February.

To further my case for Moore's book, hers and David Bergen's were the two I was least interested in reading when the contenders were first announced. Those were the only two authors of the lot that I'd read before, and while I enjoyed other books by them both, neither blew me away. But of the five, February has definitely come out on top so far.

I feel like I should add a disclaimer that I'm originally from Newfoundland and unashamedly admit that the descriptions of St. John's in February made me a bit homesick. However, I think I was mostly drawn to her power of observation. There were so many moments when Moore referred to the most mundane of life's moments, but ones that I've not ever seen in print before, that I wouldn't have thought to put in print, that I didn't even realize I had had in real life! There's a bit about a woman trying not to think about the fuzz on a peach as she bites into it because the texture gives her shivers. Me too! There's another line about the snap and rippling of plastic when the wind catches a kid's kite. Oh yeah, it does make that sound! And it's not just subtle details for the sake of details. Each beautifully crafted image expertly captures a mood or a character trait.

And her use of memory should make the book required reading for undergrad psychology students. February revolves around the Ocean Ranger tragedy of 1982, a disaster that certainly doesn't need any explanation for my Newfoundland readers, but in case you don't know... The Ocean Ranger was an offshore oil platform that sank during a blizzard. All 84 crew members on board perished in the frigid Atlantic ocean. The book deals primarily with Helen, a widow of one of those victims, and her life dealing with such a loss. The tricky part is that there isn't an obvious chronological order to the book, with vignettes that jump from before the disaster, to the present day, and various moments in between. There's somewhat of a frame however, if you keep in mind that most of the vignettes are Helen's memories. I'm not always crazy about lots of flashbacks, often finding the amount of recalled detail unrealistic. I'd be hard pressed to tell you what I had for supper yesterday, so how come I'm expected to believe a character can remember the colour of a t-shirt that her husband wore 30 years ago? But when I look at the nature of Helen's memories, it is totally believable when I think of what I learned from my own psych degree. Her memories are of tragic or other significant moments. During those times our senses are often sharper and we often do retain more of a scene that we would otherwise. Had I choked on a meatball at supper yesterday, I bet I could tell you today quite easily what I'd been eating. For that matter, I'd probably remember details that normally I'd have taken for granted— what time I'd eaten, what cup I used, what song was playing from my daughter's room. Moore adds to the realism by very occasionally acknowledge the gaps in the memories. When recalling a story about one of her daughters boyfriend's, the memory is briefly interrupted. "Aaron somebody," she thinks, "Or Andrew." And then she's right back into the recollection. There's another genius moment when Helen remembers Pink Floyd playing in her son's room. In the next paragraph Helen has a call from her daughter. "My water broke, Cathy said. I wish you were here." Was the "I wish you were here" what Cathy really said, or is it a faulty memory, confusing the lyric of the same titled Pink Floyd song with what Cathy had actually said? What a masterstroke of subtlety. The idea of memory being a central theme of the book is best captured when Moore, for Helen, writes, "You need a strong memory to love the dead, and it was not her fault that she was failing. She was trying, but no memory was that strong." Granted, Helen's memories put up a remarkable fight.

All that praise aside (and I'm still rooting for it in the Canada Reads debates), I don't think February is perfect. There's a minor plot involving Helen's son that doesn't really add anything to the book and I'm unclear as to why his life is singled out anymore than say one of Helen's daughters. And perhaps most damning, the plot is so very thin and slow. Granted, none of this year's Canada's Reads books are fast paced, so in terms of the competition, it isn't much of an issue. But for me, and how beautiful I found her writing otherwise, I can't wait for Moore to write a frickin' story. Now that book will get me excited.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reader's Diary #938- Fran Hurcomb: Old Town


Before I talk about the content of Fran Hurcomb's Old Town, I feel I first need to address the format: the coffee table book. I'm not a fan. They're big old awkward buggers, aren't they? They can't fit on a shelf, but then I guess they're not supposed to. They're meant to be kept on a coffee table, d'uh. The idea is that you have them out for guests, in case they get bored and want something to flip through. Is this a problem? Is your living room akin to a waiting room? I've been racking my brains to think of a way that eReaders can kill the coffee table book as they have other books. Have an iPad out on the coffee table? Have free wi-fi downloads read to go so that your guests can check out the books on their cell phones when you dart to the kitchen for bacon-wrapped whatevers? Anyway, all I know is that coffee table books look pretty but they're a damned nuisance when you want to store one away. And incredibly awkward to hold if you actually want to read one cover to cover.

All that aside Old Town is a wonderful look at Yellowknife's old town. For the unfamiliar, Yellowknife may only have a population of roughly 20,000, but it's broken up into some pretty distinct subdivisions. There's the troubled Northlands, the Niven mansions, the working class of the "behind Walmart" area, the downtown area, and of course, old town. Fran Hurcomb, an old town resident since the 70s, refers to it as "Yellowknife's defining neighbourhood" and while it might seem like inflated neighbourhood pride, I think few Yellowknifers would disagree. It's certainly the most interesting and picturesque— and no, it's not where I live.

Old Town is a photography book first and foremost, that uses archival photos and Hurcomb's own stunning shots to tell the history of Yellowknife's oldest part of town and the eccentric, talented, and determined people that have lived there and have maintained its unique image and reputation. Historical and personal essays balance out the photos, giving intellect to the heart.

Though Old Town is a beautiful and informative book, I had a bit of an odd reaction to it. I felt at times like an impostor, like I didn't really belong here. See, I agree that old town is what gives Yellowknife its character. Hurcomb, like the old towners before her and since, belong to a breed of independent hippies. Rugged bohemians. They have jam sessions on houseboats that they build by hand. They take week long canoe trips, gut their own fish, and tell the narrative in sequential mosaics. I admire the hell out of these people but good lord, they can make you feel inadequate. Not that Hurcomb's book is elitist at all (is hippie-elitism even a thing?) but it was a reminder that Yellowknife was definitely not built on the backs of dandies like me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reader's Diary #937- Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: Seal


Last week over at The Eye of Loni's Storm, Loni discussed Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's short story "Seal," which is found in the month's edition of The Walrus. While she enjoyed the story, she seemed to have been taken aback by the "strange" and "unexpected" ending. That was enough to hook me.

Of course, an unexpected ending is now expected and thus, not unexpected anymore, so our reactions cannot be the same as Loni's. And, in fact, I almost predicted what the unexpected/expected ending was going to be. It begins as a simple tale told by a man fondly remembering a fishmonger and his wife who used to live below him. At this point, there's a faint hint of an Oedipal complex sans the incest. At this point, the story could veer in any direction. It's as likely to be a Margaret Laurence tragedy as it is the strange story that Loni has promised.

It's a quirky story, and I was introduced to folklore that I was unfamiliar with (I'd been thinking the wife was a mermaid, but that's not it). Or was I? Turns out I had been briefly introduced to a similar idea with John Buchan's "Skule Skerry," which I'd read for a Short Story Monday a couple years back. Though I must say, I like Kuitenbrouwer's writing more.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reader's Diary #936- The New King James Version Bible: The Book of Jonah

Finally another recognizable tale! Getting toward the end of the Old Testament, people and stories that I recognize are getting fewer and fewer. But who hasn't heard of Jonah and the whale (or fish, or sea monster, whatever it was supposed to be).

Reading it through this time, however, I was oddly finding myself amused at Jonah, the reluctant hero. God says he wants Jonah to share a prophesy but Jonah doesn't want any part of it. But this is God he's refusing. When Jonah sleeps at the bottom of a boat and God sends a storm his way? I don't know why, but I find that sort of funny. I even imagine God smiling over that one. This seems like a movie waiting to happen. Maybe the next one in the Almighty franchise. Jonah Hill could play Jonah.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reader's Diary #935- Richard Wagamese: Indian Horse


Earlier this week I'd gotten an important reminder about the dangers of Twitter. I was at a point in Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse where I was frustrated by how perfect the titular character Saul Indian Horse was presented. Just infallible. Supernatural hockey ability. Never acted on anger. Troubles just rolled off his back. No one's this perfect, I wanted to vent. And so I did. On Twitter. I forget what I said initially. Something along the lines of "Saul Indian Horse is too annoyingly perfect," which by Twitter screw-ups is far from career ending public shame, but I still had to remove the tweet a mere hour or so later. If I'd only been more patient, I'd have seen that Saul was going to screw up. Furthermore, if I'd only had a better memory, it told me right on page two that he became a "hard core drunk." I guess I got so caught up in the flashback that I'd completely forgotten it even was framed as a flashback. Anyway, no damage done, except that anyone who'd read the book and who managed to see the original tweet must think me a bit of an idiot.

 In my defense, I still think for the bulk of the book Saul is a little too squeaky clean, not to mention a little too unbelievably good at hockey. I'm reminded somewhat of all the promos for the next Superman movie. Superman's going through a bit of an identity crisis. It seems modern audiences want their superheroes with a bit more grit. Fundamentally good, yes, but with a bit more edge. Someone who makes mistakes from time to time. Someone not so black and white. But Superman's always been a bit of a goody goody and those occasional falls from grace are good for quick entertainment. Remember when Christopher Reeve's Superman went on a depressed drinking binge in Superman III? Probably, since I just reminded you of it, but it certainly didn't change our overall image. Batman's the dark knight. With all of that boy-scoutian history, Superman's still seen as the good ol saviour of the universe— yawn. With Saul Indian Horse, I think there was too much build up. As if this would make his fall from grace more tragic. Instead, I think it just made Saul more unbelievable. Just once, in his earlier years, couldn't he have at least a thought of stabbing one of his tormentors in the eye with a fork?

I also found the book tried too hard to be important. If this were a movie, we'd laugh at the all-telling Oscar moments. In other words, no one could accuse Wagamese of being too subtle. Whenever the story veered into self-help or a history lesson, I found myself removed from the plot and it slowed down my pace. Not that his messages weren't important, I just think they would have been more effective if they weren't so forced. Without those direct teaching moments, I was rather enjoying the story.

I also enjoyed the style of Wagamese's writing. His sentences were succinct but the descriptions were rich in imagery. It's a quick read, but depending on your sensitivities to serious topics (racism and abuse are two major themes), not an easy read from an emotional standpoint.

Without having finished the other contenders yet, I can't predict how it will fare in next month's debates.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Reader's Diary #934- Brian Bwesigye: Everything to Hide

Brian Bwesigye's short story "Everything to Hide" is about a boy having a really rotten day that just keeps getting worse. (A "when it rains, it pours" story.)

Despite that, there's a trace of humour underneath it all and though this reader felt sympathy for the character, it was hard sometimes to suppress a smile. Like when someone you love slips or walks into a door. You giggle your way through asking if they're okay.

The story is short, perhaps a bit too short, and the plot is thin, perhaps a bit too thin, but there's a charm in the telling that makes me curious to read more of Bwesigye's writing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Reader's Diary #933- William Shakespeare: Henry VIII

Besides the Herman's Hermits song, which— awesome though it might be— doesn't count, I've never really been up on King Henry the VIII. I knew he got married a bunch of times, I knew he had desperately wanted sons, and I knew he had Anne Boleyn beheaded. I knew he didn't sound like the nicest of guys.

Yet, in Shakespeare's Henry the VIII, I didn't think he came across as despicable as I'd expected. If anyone is cast as the villain, it seems to be Cardinal Wolsey. He promises the king that he will advocate for his divorce of Katherine in order to wed Anne, but it's later proven that he advised against it in a letter to the pope.

As for Henry the VIII, I thought he got off pretty easy. Sure he's presented as a bit of a spoiled, insensitive clod but certainly not the power-abusing, misogynistic, murderer that I, even in my limited knowledge of history, knew him to be. The biggest reason? The odd cutoff point. Ending with the birth of Elizabeth who will eventually become the Queen of England, it would be a joyous, even hopeful note, if we didn't know what happened it the meantime. It's like telling the story of Nixon, but ending before Watergate. Nirvana without Cobain's suicide. Lance Armstrong before the doping revelations.You get the idea.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Reader's Diary #932- Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: Freakonomics


I'll admit it, I was interested in Freakonomics because of the hype. Not that I was falling for the praise per se, but the fact that the masses were reading an economics book was intriguing enough. It's not a Motley Crue biography, it doesn't promise rapid weight loss, and it doesn't expose any fraudulent Republican. Perhaps some credit can be given to the cover buzzwords (freak, rogue), perhaps more can be given to the clever apple/orange photoshopping, but it seems to me that a lot of its success can be attributed to positive word of mouth. As unlikely as it sounds, people from all walks of life were enjoying a book about economics. Well, almost everyone. Apparently some economists argued that this isn't really economics at all, to which the authors suggest that when you consider economics is, at its root, the study of incentives, they have in fact written an economics book. Regardless of what you call it, since it was first published in 2005, it has sold over 4 million copies. Not too shabby.

Some critics also took issue with the whole "hidden side of everything" (emphasis mine) goal. Perhaps it's a bit too far reaching and perhaps it isn't quite focused enough, or as Levitt and Dubner admit, it lacks a "central theme." I wasn't too bothered by this. It certainly didn't show the hidden side of everything, but what it did show was interesting. Sometimes, however, I was bothered by the claim that all one had to do was ask the right questions and he could better make sense of the world. Possibly that's true, but some of the questions asked in this book were clearly asked after the fact. "What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?" Answer: given the right (or wrong) incentives, both cheat. But give me a break; that chapter title is only used for quirk appeal. The research guiding the chapter was based on a few different questions: do teachers cheat and if so, how can we catch them, and do sumo wrestlers cheat and if so, how can we catch them? It's the "how can we catch them" part that has proves the most problematic. While the authors suggest that they have a way of manipulating data and analyzing correlations, many of their methods and conclusions have come under fire. And for a lay reader such as myself, there's something ironic about the way they preach the value of questioning, but we're supposed to trust their methodology and conclusions.

Still, I do think that Levitt and Dubner believe in their work (or in Levitt's work in any case, as he's the "rogue economist") and that data can be found and interpreted with their results is at the very least very intriguing. For instance, they believe that legalized abortion led to a decrease in crime (arguing that people who grew up "unwanted" are more likely to commit crimes). They have statistics to back it up. In this case, I found myself wondering things I hadn't considered before. For instance, could a similar correlation be found with the invention of "the pill"? If their conclusion is correct, the pill also should have decreased the number of "unwanted" people and therefore, there should have been a similar drop in crime.

If the above sounds callous, Levitt and Dubner claim to just present the numbers, not to make any moral judgements. For instance, just because they make the "abortion decreases crime" case doesn't necessarily mean they support abortion. They are not arguing that the end justifies the mean. For the most part I think they did a good job of keeping their own opinions at bay. Not only does this lend their "numbers don't lie" argument more credibility, it was also wise from a political standpoint considering that they took on such potentially explosive issues as race and abortion. However, in my revised edition they've added some of their blog posts from Freakonomics.com and with those I thought their values and political stances were much more transparent. For instance, Levitt at one point ponders a career change to focus solely on catching teachers who cheat. It's revealing that he doesn't express any concern that teachers have incentives to cheat in the first place.

Despite the flaws, or possible flaws, it inspires a lot of contemplation with its down to Earth style and unique positions.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Reader's Diary #931- John Wagner et al (Writers) Carlos Ezquerra et al (artists): Judge Dredd, The Complete Case Files 01

Before I get into my own review of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01, I should defer to Nicola's review written back in October of last year. There are a few key statements that she made that are important to acknowledge here:

"This is where it all started! The very first Judge Dredd stories collected together in chronological order are a delight for any fan to read." Note: Nicola was a fan going into it. I was not. I'd heard of the Sylvester Stallone movie back in the day, and had noticed that Dredd's name tends to pop up a lot in "greatest comic book characters" lists, especially those that insist on branching out from Marvel and DC.

Of Dredd himself she writes, "He's really a bit of a jerk when it comes down to it, not the complex character he is now, and I wouldn't love him if this was my first exposure to him.  But it's not and I do." It is and I don't.

And perhaps most importantly, "I would not recommend a newcomer start here." I'd read her review and still did not heed her warning, but perhaps I should have. It just kills me to jump into something in the middle though! Just the other day my wife and I were talking about what age our kids would be before we'd let them start watching the Simpsons. I remarked that I'd like to start at the beginning and watch them through, even though it really didn't start getting really go until a few seasons in. Then why not start there? she asked. Why not, indeed? But with comics, I like origin stories and I thought I'd miss out on how Judge Dredd came to be. It turns out that though these are the first Judge Dredd stories, you don't get a lot of background information. You learn that he had a twin that didn't follow the same path, you learn how he acquires his robot companion Walter, and that's about it. Judge Dredd remains an enigma throughout the entire book. He's self-righteous, puts the law above all else, and that's all you learn.

The writing is down right terrible. Like stuff I'd have written as a child. Cheesy dialogue, stories wrapped up in a mere couple or so pages— I was reminded of those old Hercules cartoons from the 60s. The last comic I read that was this laughably bad was Captain Canuck. Fortunately, and unlike Captain Canuck, the artwork of Judge Dredd was decent and so it had at least something going for it. (It's better than the cover would suggest.)

I trust that the comic has improved over the years, that the Judge Dredd character is better fleshed out in later works, but I'm in no real rush to find out. Wish I'd listened to Nicola.


Writers: John Wagner, Pat Mills, Peter Harris, Kevin Gosnell, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring, Gerry Finley-Day, Robert Flynn, Joe Collins
Artists: Carlos Ezqerra, Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, Massimo Belardinelli, Ron Turner, Ian Gibson, John Cooper, Bill Ward

Monday, January 07, 2013

Reader's Diary #930- Saadat Hasan Manto, translated by Aatish Taseer: The Dog of Ṭeṭvāl :

Look at those awesome accent marks in the title of Saadat Hasan Manto's "The Dog of Ṭeṭvāl." Yes, that's a line above the a, and better still, dots below each "T." I've never seen that before. How does that change the pronunciation, I wonder?

It's unfamiliar to me as the story is from a Pakistani author. Continuing on with short stories from around the world, I was able to find this one online at Granta.com.

It was neat to read because despite the different accents, and half the characters' surnames being "Singh," it reminded me of last year's visit to the Canadian battlefields in France. It was a very peaceful, forested area and it was hard to imagine that it could ever have hosted something as horrible as war. The opening scene in "The Dog of Ṭeṭvāl" could have the Canadians against the Germans, or the Newfoundlanders against the Germans, but in this case it's the Pakistanis against the Indians. Nature is going on as always but beneath the peaceful sky, people who have more in common than either side would like to admit, are waiting to kill one another.

It's sad that this is our common ground. Sadder when innocent people, or dogs, are caught in the middle.

A wonderfully written story, but a lot to handle for animal lovers.

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

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Literary Theme Parks


I've just returned from a vacation in Orlando. I won't go into many details, but it was a lot of fun. Generic theme park vacation, but we all enjoyed it nonetheless. Disney, Universal, and the like, clearly know what they're doing, though it's hard not to go there as a tourist and think of easy and/or obvious improvements that can be made. Disney: the novelty of bad animatronics is good for maybe a ride or two, beyond that it just seems like you've given up trying, just resting on your reputation as "the happiest place on Earth" when really others are doing the theme park thing SOOO much better and if my kids are any indication, Universal is where it's at. Not that Universal couldn't use some tweaking. I assume the logic behind not allowing Express Pass on the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey Ride is to ensure park goers do not get all of it done in one day and will return for a second day. However, if we're waiting in line for 2 hours, how about having someone come by and sell us some Butter Beer? The two hours that we stood there, you were not making an additional penny and we were thirsty. We both could have been happier with this arrangement. Also, SpongeBob StorePants is an amusing name for a souvenir shop, but how did you miss out on a Krusty Krab burger joint?

My favourite of all the parks was Universal's Islands of Adventure (though Universal Studios' Simpsons Ride makes that one worth the price of admission alone). Perhaps it's telling that Islands of Adventure seemed to be the most literary park of all those that we visited. With entire sections of the park devoted to Harry Potter, Marvel comics, funny pages comics, Dr. Seuss, and Jurassic Park, it would be possible to read one's way through the entire park. Which got me thinking; if I was to design a literary theme park what would I include? Here's what I came up with:

Roller coasters:
Stephen King's Gunslinger Ride (would have to look like a train)
One Ride to Rule Them All (Lord of the Rings ride)

Drop zone: Jack and the BeanDROP

Simulated/3D Ride- Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Carousel- Robert Munsch characters

Bars/Restaurants
- Signature Drinks (specializing in Hemingway Mojitos, Anne Shirley Raspberry Cordial-- both alcohol and non-alcohol versions, etc)
- Jane Austen's Tea Room
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (menu must include all of those foods appearing in the book)

Water Ride- Huck Finn's Mississippi River

Haunted House- Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Mystery House

Vampire Corner
Dracula Ride (3d Simulated ride through Dracula's castle)
Twilight Tunnel of Love (would have to have cheesy animatronics)
Bunnicula's Bite (restaurant that serves regular and "white" versions of all menu items)
The Cafe Lestat- New Orleans food, goth place aimed more at adults

What would you include in a literary theme park?





Friday, January 04, 2013

Reader's Diary #929- Barbara Smucker: Underground to Canada


Taken away from her mother by a ruthless slave trader, all Julilly has left is the dream of freedom. Every day that she spends huddled in the slave trader’s wagon travelling south or working on the brutal new plantation, she thinks about the land where it is possible to be free, a land she and her friend Liza may reach someday. So when workers from the Underground Railroad offer to help the two girls escape, they are ready. But the slave catchers and their dogs will soon be after them…

From a historical perspective I quite enjoyed Barbara Smucker's Underground to Canada, a tale of two American slave girls escaping to Canada via the metaphorical "underground railroad," a system of kind-hearted, risk-taking individuals who opposed slavery. Of course, "kind-hearted" and "risk-taking" don't really do justice to the heroic feats of such people, just as referring to the escapees simply as "brave" wouldn't begin to capture the mindset of the slaves. Smucker does a good job in introducing the idea of depth to younger readers. Older readers, like myself, could use even more fleshing out, but at the very least Smucker gets the point across that the world is full of different kinds of people. Fortunately, as seems to be a major theme of the book, more people fall on the good side of the spectrum than evil. The story of slaves escaping to Canada is clearly important for both Canadians and Americans to know, but at first I was concerned that Canada was being made out to be the land of milk of honey, so that Canadian readers could sit back and pat themselves on their backs and brag about how much better than the Americans we are. Certainly in the beginning of the book, that is the way Canada is presented to Julilly and Liza. Near the end, thankfully, Smucker acknowledges that things would still not be easy for black people in Canada. Underground to Canada is often taught in Canadian schools and I would like to think that even more of Canada's history (the good and the bad) with minority groups is discussed for a more balanced picture. Of course, for Julilly and Liza, perhaps a more sugar-coated version of reality was necessary at the beginning of their travel, for it gave them hope. Finally, I liked Smucker's use of slave songs. While acknowledging that often times the songs were coded plans, she doesn't lose sight of the fact that they also provided comfort and a sense of connection with other slaves.

All of that could of course be presented in a nonfiction format, and may or may not be as interesting. Unfortunately, I wasn't crazy about the plot of Underground to Canada. I understand that luck played an important role in escape, but Smucker takes it to an unrealistic extreme that I found rather annoying, insulting to a reader's intelligence. Often Jullily and Liza are told to follow such and such a river and someone will meet them at point X. Miraculously the people always show up on time, as if the routes were so predictable that everyone took exactly the same time to travel them. They're given a compass to use and simply know how to do it. They're being pursued but it doesn't take a savvy reader to learn way too early on that given Smucker's convenient coincidences, Julilly and Liza will never be in any real danger and it strips the book of any real suspense.

I'd say it's a decent introduction to a part of our history that many young people might otherwise be unfamiliar with, at least until a better book comes along. But maybe that book already exists and I'm unaware of it. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Reader's Diary #928- The New King James Version Bible: Obadiah

I was just starting to formulate an idea about the message of the Book of Obadiah (we should learn from history, let grudges go, etc) when boom, the Book of Obadiah ended. One chapter. Shortest book in the Bible. (Tucking that away for my Jeopardy appearance.)

I know I shouldn't be happy about its length. People who decide to read the Bible cover to cover aren't supposed to treat each book like notches on a belt, but I'm willing to bet that most of them who claim not to take relief from such short books are lying. With Obadiah out of the way, I've only 8 more to go to finish the Old Testament. I can do this.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Reader's Diary #927- William Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost

Apparently Shakespeare wrote a sequel to Love's Labour's Lost called, what else? Love's Labour's Won. No copies have ever been found. I'm glad.

The lack of conclusion at the end of Love's Labour's Lost may be problematic for some, but for me, it seems to complement the theme of the play. Now, when I say the theme, what I mean to say is, the theme I took away. After one reading. One, admittedly, rather distracted reading. (Clearly I'm lacking in confidence here.) The theme? There are some things that science and intellect cannot approach. Love, for example. Likewise, there's seems to be a minor but complementary theme that words can sometimes get in the way of meaning.

If such a case could be made, both would be interesting themes for Shakespeare. When his characters normally tend to fall in love at the drop of a hat, critics could easily accuse Shakespeare of confusing love for infatuation. Of course, if the Eskimos* have 100 words for snow, surely there must be at least twice that many for love, and on that list, surely there's a place for infatuation. Which leads into the 2nd theme about words and meaning. Are we getting more accurate by breaking love down into sub-categories (infatuation, lust, romance, platonic...) or do we risk missing the entire point?  It would seem that Shakespeare is writing his own defense. The ironic thing about it is that the defense hardly holds up in modern times, when reading Shakespeare is considered an intellectual pursuit and he's generally regarded as the ultimate wordsmith. (Don't worry, this all makes sense in my head.) In any case, as it's my belief that Shakespeare is making a statement about the mind approaching, but never quite reaching the heart— some sort of philosophical asymptote— a cliffhanger ending is brilliant.

(*I've used Eskimo here, not Inuit, as the whole belief is mythological at best and the term Eskimo captures the erroneous stereotype better.)





Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The 6th Annual Canadian Book Challenge- The Halfway Roundup

Happy New Year!!! 

Wow, that was a lot of reading! Only at the halfway point of the 6th annual Canadian Book Club and 13 people have already reached the quota for 13! Our author list runs from A-Z, but excludes X. Actually we had a lot of participants reading books by authors whose last names started with X, but those are not welcome here. Check out what books we read from July to January. Impressive isn't it?

Anyway, here's to 2013 and another successful year of reading. No doubt, we'll see some 2013 titles on the list before long. Any that you're looking forward to? How about New Year's reading resolutions?

Finally, if you're not already a participant of the Canadian Book Challenge, it's still not too late. As some of us have already proven, reading and reviewing 13+ books in 6 months is entirely possible. If you want to explore or celebrate Canadian literature, you're welcome aboard. (Find more information including how to sign up, here.)

Abbas, Adam
- A State, A Statue, A Statute (Rasiqra/Revulva)

Adamson, Gil
- The Outlander (Cat)

Afshin-Jam, Nazanin and Susan McClelland
- The Tale of Two Nazanins (Jen)

Aist, Jennifer
- Babes in the Woods (Irene)

Antonson, Rick
- To Timbuktu for a Haircut (Barb in BC)

Apostolides, Marianne
- Voluptuous Pleasure (Corey)

Arato, Rona
- Courage and Compassion (Irene)
- Design It (Irene)
- World of Water (Irene)

Arluk, Reneltta
- Thoughts and Other Human Tendencies (John)

Armstrong, Kelley
- 13 (Jules)
- The Invitation (Darlene)
- The New Guy (Darlene)
- Spellbound (Jules)
- Waking the Witch (Jules)

Armstrong, Luanne
- Jeannie and the Gentle Giants (Barb in BC)

Armstrong, Luanne and Zoe Landale (Editors)
- Slice Me Some Truth (Irene)

Arsenault, Elaine
- Doggie in the Window illustrated by Fanny (Irene

Atwood, Margaret
- Bodily Harm (Cat)
- Dancing Girls (Barb in BC)
- I'm Starved For You (Jules)
- In Other Worlds (Paulina)
- The Tent (Shan)
- Up in the Tree (Irene)

Bachman, Randy
- Vinyl Tap Stories (Barb in BC)

Barclay, Linwood
- Trust Your Eyes (Shonna, Luanne, Deb)

Bar-El, Dan
- Pussycat, Pussycat, Where HaveYou Been? illustrated by Rae Maé (Jen)

Basran, Gurjinder
- Everything Was Good-Bye (Teena)

Bassett, Nicole
- Chef in Your Backpack (Irene)

Bates, Jeremy
- White Lies (Nicola)

Beach, Kimmy
- Alarum Within (Eric)
- Fake Paul (Eric)
- In Cars (Eric)

Beck, Andrea
- Elliot's Christmas Surprise (Irene)
- Elliot's Noisy Night (Irene)
- Goodnight Canada (Irene)

Becker, Helaine
- Juba This, Juba That illustrated by Ron Lightburn (Irene)

Bender, Rebecca
- Don't Laugh at Giraffe (Jo)

Benison, C.C.
- Eleven Pipers Piping (Luanne)

Berton, Pierre
- Just Add Water and Stir (Barb in BC)
- The Secret World of Og (Claire, Barb in BC)

Betcherman, Michael
- Breakway (Sarah, Teena)

Bezmozgis, David
- Natasha and Other Stories (Jules)

Blaise,Clark
- The Meagre Tarmac (Gavin)

Blaise, Marie-Claire
- tête blanche translated by Charles Fullman (Rasiqra/ Revulva)

Blake, Kendare
- Anna Dressed in Blood (Julie)

Blunt, Giles
- Forty Words for Sorrow (Gypsysmom)
- Until the Night (Luanne

Borrowman, Mary and Chloe O'Loughlin
- The Rescue of Nanoose illustrated by Jacqueline Wang (Jen)

Bourgeois, Paulette
- Franklin's Christmas Gift illustrated by Brenda Clark (Irene)

Boyden, Joseph
- Through Black Spruce (John)

Bradley, Alan
- I Am Half Sick of Shadows (Mary R, Raidergirl)
- A Red Herring Without Mustard (Raidergirl)
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (TracyK)
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie read by Jayne Entwistle (Jo)
- The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Gypsysmom, Raidergirl, Tracy K)
- The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag read by Jayne Entwistle (Jo)

Braithwaite, Max
- Never Sleep Three in a Bed (Claire)
- The Night We Stole the Mountie's Car (Claire)

Brandt, Peter A.
- 2066 (Sarah at Workaday Reads)

Brennan, Brian
- Leaving Dublin (Sharon)

Brink, Nicky and Stephen R. Bown
- Forgotten Highways (Shonna)

Brouwer,  Sigmund
- The Leper (Linda)
- The Orphan King (Lovesmukiwa)

Brown, Margaret Gillies
- From From the Rowan Tree (Barb in BC)

Brown, Peter and John Hughes
- Power of the Best (Irene)

Bruce, Renna and Robin Oakes
- Jazlyn J's Bad Hair Day (Irene)
- Jazlyn J's Birthday Celebration (Irene)

Bruck, Julie
- Monkey Ranch (Melwyk)

Burnford, Sheila
- The Fields of Noon (Barb in BC)
- One Woman's Arctic (Barb in BC)

Burns, Cliff
- The Last Hunt (Corey)

Callaway, Phil
- Jake and the Big Hairy Lie illustrated by Sharon Dahl (Nicola)

Camani, Andrew
- 100 Hikers, 100 Hikes (Irene)

Cameron, Dana
- Site Unseen (Riedel Fascination)

Cameron, Eleanor
- The Mysterious Christmas Shell (Barb in BC)

Carter, Anne Laurel and Ninon Pelletier
- Night Boy (Irene)

Celona, Marjorie
- Y (Luanne, Jules, Kate)

Christopher, Neil and Alan Neal
- Ava and the Little People illustrated by Jonathan Wright (John)

Comeau, Joey
- The Complete Lockpick Pornography (Corey)

Comer, Valerie
- Rainbow's End (Sharon)

Connor, Ralph
- Glengarry School Days (Claire)

Coupland, Douglas
- Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People, illustrated by Graham Roumieu (Nicola)
- Shampoo Planet (John)

Crewe, Gerry
- Cooking with Beer (Swordsman)

Croft, Philip
- Nature Diary of a Quiet Pedestrian (Barb in B.C.)

Crosbie, Lynn
- Life is About Losing Everything (Perogyo)

Davidson, Andrew
- The Gargoyle (John)

Davidson, Hilary
- The Next One to Fall (Swordsman)

Davies, Lauren B.
- Our Daily Bread (Jules)

Davies, Robertson
- Leaven of Malice (MaryR, Steve)
- A Micture of Frailties (MaryR, Steve)
- Tempest-Tost (MaryR, Steve)

Davis, Brian Joseph
- Portable Altamont (Rasiqra Revulva)

Dee, Gerry
- Teaching (Shan)

Delany, Vicki
- Gold Digger (Jo)
- Gold Fever (Jo)
- Gold Mountain (John)
- A Winter Kill (Jo)

Dennis, Chrissy M.
- The Lion Cubs (Linda)

Dickner, Nicolas
- Nikolski (Jules)

Doctorow, Cory
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (John)

Donoghue, Emma
- Astray (Luanne, Giraffe Days)

Draper, Clarissa
- The Sholes Key (Peggy Ann)

Ducharme, Lucy
- Spirit of the North (Linda)

Duncan, Sara Jeannette
- An American Girl in London (Barb in BC)
- The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib (Barb in BC)

Dunn, Victoria
- Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies (John)

Edugyan, Esi
- Half-Blood Blues (Sam)

Edwards, Wallace
- Uncle Wally's Old Brown Shoe (Irene)

Elliott, Lisa
- The Ben Ripple (Linda)

Erikson, Steven
- Deadhouse Gates (Sarah at Goodreads)
- Memories of Ice (Sarah at Goodreads)

Fagan, Cary
- My Life Among the Apes (Jules)

Fallis, Terry
- Up and Down (Shan, Daniel)

Faryon, Cynthia
- A War Bride's Story (Riedel Fascination)

Ferguson, Will
- 419 (Jules, Gypsysmom, Daniel, Barb in BC, Kate, Sarah)
- I Was a Teenage Katima-Victim (Barb in BC)

Findley, Timothy
- Headhunter (Eric)

Fleischmann, Arthur
- Carly's Voice with Carly Fleischman (Shonna)

Ford, Richard
- Canada (Sam, Bybee)

Fostaty, Gerry
- As You Were (Perogyo)

Francis, Brian
- Natural Order (Paulina)

Gammel, Irene
- Looking for Anne (Barb in BC)

Gardner, Scot
- The Dead I Know (Christa)

Ghatage, Shree
- Thirst (Shonna)

Ghomeshi, Jian
- 1982 (Raidergirl)

Gibson, Graeme
- Gentlemen Death (Eric)

Gilmour, David
- The Film Club (Raidergirl)

Gladwell, Malcolm
- Outliers (John)

Glennon, Paul
- Bookweird (John)

Godwin, Lara
- One Moon, Two Cats illustrated by Yoko Tanaka (Pussreboots)

Goobie, Beth
- Jason's Why (John)

Gossage, Carolyn
- Accidental Captives (Shonna)

Gowda, Shilpi Somaya
- Secret Daughter (Sarah)

Goyette, Linda
- Northern Kids (Perogyo)

Graham, Genevieve
- Under The Same Sky (Chris)

Greenwood, Barbara
- The Kids Book of Canada (Mary R)
- A Pioneer Christmas (Irenehttp://canadianbooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/a-pioneer-christmas-37/)

Hamilton, Ian
- The Red Pole of Macau (Kathy)
- The Water Rat of Wanchai (Mysteries and More)

Hamilton, Lyn
- The Celtic Riddle (Riedel Fascination)
- Maltese Goddess (Riedel Fascination)
- The Moche Warrior (Riedel Fascination)
- The Xibalba Murders (Riedel Fascination)

Hammond, Charmaine
- On Toby's Terms (Teena)

Hammond, Charmaine and Debra Kasowski
- GPS Your Best Life (Teena)

Hargreaves, H.A.
- Growing Up Bronx (Nicola)
- North by 2000+ (Paulina)

Hartman, Rachel
- Seraphina (Christa)

Hay, Elizabeth
- Alone in the Classroom (Sam Lamb)
- Late Nights on Air (Raidergirl)
- Small Change (Jules)
- A Student of Weather (Sarah at Goodreads)

Heal, Tyler
- The Times Behind the Signs (John)

Hegerat, Betty Jane
- the Boy (Matilda Magtree)

Helm, Michael
- Cities of Refuge (Shonna)

Helwig, David
- Close to the Fire (John)

Heyer, Paul
- Titanic Century (Steve)

Hobbs, Will
- Far North (Nicola)

Hodgetts, Eileen Enwright
- Whirlpool (Nicola)

Hodgins, Jack
- The Honorary Patron (Barb in BC)
- Over 40 in Broken Hill (Barb in BC)

Hole, Lois
- Northern Flower Growing Bedding Plants (Sharon)

Hollingshead, Greg
- The Roaring Girl (Barb in BC)

Hood, Susan
- The Tooth Mouse illustrated by Janice Nadeau (Perogyo)

Hopkinson, Nalo
- Brown Girl in the Ring (Gavin, Chris)
- The Chaos (Shan)
- The New Moon's Arms (Melwyk)

Horvath, Polly
- Everything on a Waffle (Pussreboots)
- One Year in Coal Harbour (Pussreboots)

Hough, Robert
- Dr. Brinkley's Tower (Jules)

How, Douglas
- Night of the Caribou (Steve)

Hull, Maureen
- The View From a Kite (Barb in BC)

Hume, Stephen Eaton
- Frederick Banting (Irene)

Humphreys, C. C.
- Absolute Honour (Gypsysmom)

Humphreys, Helen
- The Lost Garden (Jules)

Hunter, Lauren
- The Coffee Shop (Sarah)

Hustak, Alan
- Titanic: The Canadian Story (Teena, Swordsman)

Iglauer, Edith
- Denison's Ice Road (John)

Itani, Frances
- Deafening (Jules)

Ivascu, Simon and Wesley Pop
The Price of Freedom (Linda)

Iyengar, Sheena
- The Art of Choosing (Pussreboots)

Izzo, Kim
- The Jane Austen Marriage Manual (Sharon)

Jackson, Matt (editor)
Mugged by a Moose (Irene)

Jaden, Denise
- Never Enough (Darlene)

Jennings, Maureen
- Beware This Boy (Shan, Luanne)

Jennings, Sharon
- Franklin Forgives illustrated by Céleste Gagnon, Shelley Southern and Alice Sinkner (Irene)

Johnson, Harold
- The Cast Stone (Melwyk)

Kalman, Bobbie
- Splash It Swimming (Irene)

Kaufman, Andrew
- The Tiny Wife (Giraffe Days) 

Kearsley, Susanna
- The Shadowy Horse (Chris)

Keeney, Patricia
- First Woman (Rasiqra Revulva)

Kennedy, Des
- The Way of a Gardener (Barb in BC)

Kilanko, Yejide
- Daughters Who Walk This Path (Jules)

King, James
- Etienne's Alphabet (Melwyk)

Klassen, Jon
- I Want My Hat Back (Giraffe Days)

Klinck, Carl F. and Reginald E. Watters (editors)
Canadian Anthology, 3rd ed (Rasiqra Revulva)

Knowles, Mike
- In Plain Sight (Corey)

Kolpak, Diana
- Starfall photography by Kathleen Finlay (Perogyo)

Korman, Gordon
- This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! (Claire)

Kramer, Sarah
- La Dolce Vegan (Irene)

Kress, Adrienne
- The Friday Society (Christa)

Krykorka, Ian
- Silver Moon illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka (Claire)

Kulling, Monica
- Going Up! illustrated by David Parkins (Perogyo, Nicola)
- Lumpito and the Painter from Spain illustrated by Dean Griffiths (Perogyo)

Kusugak, Michael
- Baseball Bats for Christmas illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka (Heather, John)
- Hide and Sneak illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka (Jo)
- My Arctic 1, 2, 3 illustrated by Vladyana Krykorak (Jo)

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd
- The Low Down on Denim (Pussreboots)

Lam, Vincent
- The Headmaster's Wager (Sam Sattler)

Laukkanen, Owen
- The Professionals (Teena)

Laxer, James
- Tecumseh and Brock (Swordsman)

Lawson, Mary
- The Other Side of the Bridge (Caroline)

Layton, Irving
- Taking Sides (Resiqra/ Revulva)

Leacock, Stephen
- Behind the Beyond (Claire)

Lear, Edward
- The Owl and the Pussycat illustrated by Anne Mortimer (Pussreboots)

Ledger, Don and Chris Styles
- Dark Object (Steve)

Lee, Y.S.
- The Body at the Tower (Kim)
- A Spy in the House (Kim)
- The Traitor in the Tunnel (Kim)

Lemire, Jeff
- Lost Dogs (Nicola)
- Sweet Tooth: Out of the Woods (John)

Leavitt, Martine
- Keturah and Lord Death (Melwyk)

LePage, Robert and Marie Michaud
- The Blue Dragon art by Fred Jourdain (Eric)

Lint, Charles de
- Wildings: Under My Skin (Heather)

Livingston, Billie
- One Good Hustle (Jules)

Livingston, Lesley
- Starling (Christa)

Loomis, Ruth
- Small Stories of a Gentle Island (Barb in BC)

Lunn, Janet
- Laura Secord illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse (Nicola)

Lynes, Jeanette
- The Factory Voice (Gypsysmom)

Lyon, Annabel
- The Best Thing For You (Barb in BC)
- The Golden Mean (Giraffe Days, Jules, Barb in BC)

MacDonald, Ann-Marie
- The Way the Crow Flies (Danielle)

MacIntyre, Linden
- Why Men Lie (Kate)

MacLennan, Hugh
- Barometer Rising (Chris)

MacLeod, Alexander
- Light Lifting (Jules)

Maclear, Kyo
- Spork illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Pussreboots)

Maendel, Elma
- Marty's Colour Adventure illustrated by Cynthia Stahl (Linda)

Malone, Greg
- You Better Watch Out (John)

Malone, Jean M.
- No Room at the Inn illustrated by Bryan Lango (Irene)

Mant, Janice MacDonald
- The Next Margaret (Jo)

Marshall, James
- Ninja Vesrsus Pirate Featuring Zombies (Corey)

Martel, Yann
- Helsinki Roccamatios (Eric)

Martinez, Jessica
- The Space Between Us (Giraffe Days)

McIntosh, D. J.
- The Witch of Babylon (Christa)

McKay, Ami
- The Virgin Cure (Cat, Sam Lamb)

McKay, Sharon E.
- Charlie Wilcox (John)

McKenzie, Catherine
- Forgotten (Teena, Kate)

McLean, Stuart
- Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe (Julie)

Meisterman, Bruce
- Arn? Narn. (Nicola)

Mendez, Antonio
- Argo (Swordsman)

Mercer, Rick
- A Nation Worth Ranting About (Shan, Swordsman)

Meshake, Rene Andre
- Moccasin Creek (Heather)

Micallef, Shawn and Patrick Cummins
- Full Frontal T.O. (Teena, Swordsman)

Michaels, F. S.
- Monoculture (Pussreboots)

Milway, Katie Smith
- Mimi's Village illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Perogyo)

Miron, Molly
- "Some Kind of Piggery Jokery" (Nicola)

Montgomery, Lucy Maud
- Anne of Green Gables (Sharon, Resiqra/Revulva, Honest Variety Books)
- The Blue Castle (Barb in BC)
- The Blythes Are Quoted (Gypsysmom)
- Jane of Lantern Hill (Barb in BC)
- Kilmeny of the Orchard (Nan, Christine, Barb in BC)
- Rilla of Ingleside (Sharon)
- The Story Girl (Barb in BC)
- A Tangled Web (Barb in BC)

Moodie, Susanna
- Roughing it in the Bush (John, Christine)

Moore, Lisa
- February (Sam Lamb)

Morgan, Keith
- Ruta's Closet with Ruth Kron Sigal (John)

Morrissey, Donna
- The Deception of Livvy Higgs (Luanne)

Mowat, Farley
- The Boat Who Wouldn't Float (Heather)
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (Peggy Ann)

Mucz, Michael
- Baba's Kitchen Medicines (Melwyk)

Munro, Alice
- The Progress of Love (Danielle)
- Runaway (ChrisHarding)
- Too Much Happiness (Barbara)
- Vintage Munro (Jules)

Munsch, Robert
- Finding Christmas illustrated by Michael Martchenko (John)
- Up, Up, Down illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Giraffe Days)

Nemat, Marina
- Prisoner of Tehran (Sarah)

Neufeld, Gordon and Gabor Maté
- Hold On to Your Kids narrated by Daniel Maté (Darlene)

Nielsen, Susin
- Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom (Paulina)

Nightingale, Marie
- Out of Nova Scotia Gardens (Nan)

Nytra, David
- The Secret of the Stone Frog (Nicola)

Ogle, Jennifer, James Darcy, and Alison Beck
- The Ontario Seasonal Cookbook (Irene)

O'Grady, Rohan
- Let's Kill Uncle (Barb in BC)

Ohlin, Alex
- Inside (Jules, Daniel, Sam Lamb, Shan, Sarah)

O'Malley, Brian Lee
- Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Nicola)
- Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together (Nicola)
- Scott Pilgrim: Precious Little Life (Nicola)
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe (Nicola)
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Nicola)

Ondaatje, Michael
- Secular Love (Resiqra/Revulva)

Ondaatje, Michael (Editor)
- From Ink Lake (Gavin)

Onstad, Katrina
Everybody Has Everything (Sam Lamb, Jules)

Oppel, Kenneth
- Emma's Emu (Nicola)
- The King's Taster (Nicola)
- Peg and the Whale (Nicola)
- Peg and the Yeti (Nicola)
- Such Wicked Intent (Nicola)

Panhuyzen, Brian
- Night is a Shadow Cast by the World (Teena)

Paquette,Ammi-Joan
- The Tiptoe Guide to Teaching Fairies illustrated by Christa Unzer (Irene)

Pashley, Nicholas
- Cheers! (Swordsman)

Peacock, Shane
- Becoming Holmes (Nicola)
- Eye of the Crow (Kim)
- "The Man Who Walks on the Sky" (Nicola)

Pearson, Kit
- The Daring Game (Barb in BC)
- The Lights Go On Again (Claire)
- Looking at the Moon (Claire)
- The Sky is Falling (Claire)

Peck, Dale
- The Lost Cities (Pussreboots)

Penny, Louise
- The Beautiful Mystery read by Ralph Cosham (Shonna)
- The Beautiful Mystery (Luanne, Sam Sattler, Bill, Bill, Raidergirl)
- The Cruelest Month (Jo)
- A Fatal Grace (Jo)
- Still Life read by Ralph Cosham (Jo)
- Still Life (Kathy, Peggy Ann)
- A Trick of the Light (Mary R)

Petersen, Christian
Let the Day Perish (Barb in BC)

Piatigorsky, Anton
- The Iron Bridge (Giraffe Days)

Pick, Alison
- Far To Go (Christine, Sharon)

Pitt, Steve
- To Stand and Fight Together (Perogyo)

Poast, Lloyd
- Blink (Sarah)

Porter, Pamela
- I'll Be Watching (Melwyk)

Powning, Beth
- The Hatbox Letters (Riedel Fascination)
- The Sea Captain's Wife (Sarah)

Price, Steven
- Omens in the Year of the Ox (Melwyk)

Proulx, Monique
- Wild Lives translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed (Melwyk)

Pullinger, Kate
- The Mistress of Nothing (Jules, Sam Lamb)

Quarrington, Paul
- Whale Music (Resiqra/Revulva)

Quinlan, Patricia
- Anna's Red Sled (Nicola)

Rakoff, David
- Half Empty (Bybee)

Rayner, Mark A.
- Pirate Therapy and Other Cures (Corey)

Redekop, Corey
- Husk (John)

Reichs, Kathy
- Bones Are Forever (Kate, John)

Reid, Barbara
- Picture a Tree (Perogyo)

Reisman, Rose
- Choose It and Lose It (Shonna)

Rhodes, Morgan
- Falling Kingdoms (Christa)

Richards, David Adams
- Mercy Among the Children (Sam Lamb)

Richardson, C.S.
- The Emperor of Paris (Jules, Shonna)

Richardson, Jael Ealey
- The Stone Thrower (Shan)

Richler, Nancy
- The Impostor Bride (Gypsysmom, Jules, Daniel, Shan)

Rideout, Tanis
- Above All Things (Giraffe Days)

Ripley, Catherine
- How? illustrated by Scot Ritchie (Jen)

Rivard, Émilie and Anne Claire-Delisle
- Really and Truly (Irene)

Robinson, Peter
- Before the Poison (Mysteries and More)
- Watching the Dark (Luanne, Shonna)

Rodriguez, Sonia and Kurt Browning
- T is for Tutu illustrated by Wilson Ong (Irene)

Rotenberg, Robert
- Old City Hall (Mary R)

Rothman, Claire Holden
- The Heart Specialist (Jules)

Round, Jeffrey
- The Honey Locust (Shonna)
- Lake on the Mountain (Gypsysmom)

Rowe, Michael
- Enter, Night (Pussreboots)

Rowen, Michelle
- Blood Bath and Beyond (Jo)
- Demon Princess (Kim)

Roy, Gabriel
- Garden in the Wind/ Enchanted Summer (Gypsysmom)
- The Road Past Altamont (Jules)
- Street of Riches (Jules)
- Windflower (Danielle)

Roy, Zoe S.
- Butterfly Tears (Nicola)

Salivarová, Zdena
- Ashes, Ashes, All Fall Down (Claire)

Sands, Lynsay and Jeaniene Frost
The Bite Before Christmas (Giraffe Days)

Sapergia, Barbara
- Blood and Salt (Melwyk)

Saracuse, Tara
- Island Kids (Perogyo)

Saunders, Margaret Marshall
- Beautiful Joe (Peggy Ann)

Sawyer, Robert J.
- Factoring Humanity (Braedonnal)
- Frameshift (Braedonnal)
- Hybrids (Braedonnal)
- Iterations (Braedonal)
- Mindscan (Swordsman)
- Relativity (Braedonnal)
- WWW:Watch (Sarah at Workaday Reads, Braedonnal)
- WWW: Wonder (Braedonnal)

Schabas, Martha
- Various Poistions (Barb in BC)

Scharf-Dessureault, Roswitha
- Memories of a Life's Journey (Linda)

Schmidt, Jennifer
- Risking it All (Giraffe Days)

Schrier, Howard
- High Chicago (Gavin)

Schultz, Emily
- The Blondes (Shan, Corey, Christa)

Scott, David E. (edited by)
- Great Canadian Fishing Stories That Didn't Get Away (Irene)

Selecky, Sarah
- This Cake is for The Party (Jules)

Serres, Alain
- I Have a Right to be a Child illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (Irene)

Shaben, Carol
- Into the Abyss (Julie)

Shields, Carol
- Larry's Party (Raidergirl)
- Unless (Sarah)

Shrimpton, Tiffany
- The Search for Almighty Voice (Gypsysmom)

Sinclair, Sue
- Breaker (Eric)
- Mortal Arguments (Eric)

Skibsrud, Johanna
- The Sentimentalists (Jules)

Skvorecky, Josef
- The Engineer of Human Souls (Eric)

Smart, Elizabeth
- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (Rasiqra Revulva)

Smith, Brad
- Crow's Landing (Luanne)
- Red Means Run (Sarah at Workaday Reads)

Smucker, Barbara
- Underground to Canada  (Barb in BC)
- White Mist (Barb in BC)

Snyder, Carrie
- The Juliet Stories (Irene, Jules)

Spalding, Andrea
- Seal Song illustrated by Pascal Milelli (Perogyo)

Spalding, Linda
- The Purchase (Luanne)

Spires, Ashley
- Binky Takes Charge (Perogyo)
- Binky Under Pressure (Perogyo, Nicola)

Spoon, Rae
- First Spring Grass Fire (Barbara)

St. James, Simone
- The Haunting of Maddy Clare (Danielle)

Stockum, Hilda van
- Friendly Gables (Barb in BC)

Stratton, Allan
- Chanda's Wars (Shonna)

Suzuki, David
- The Autobiography (Barb in BC)
- The Legacy (Shan)

Svendsen, Linda
- Sussex Drive (Daniel, Giraffe Days)

Syjuco, Miguel
- Illustrado (Giraffe Days)

Tamaki, Mariko
- (You) Set Me On Fire (Teena)

Taylor, Joanne
- There You Are (Barb in BC)

Taylor, Kate
- Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen (Cat)

Taylor, Patrick
- An Irish Country Village (Jules)

Taylor, Timothy
- Stanley Park (Jules)

Thomas, Audrey
- Graven Images (Riedel Fascination)

Thúy, Kim
- Ru (Daniel, Gypsysmom, Raidergirl)

Tilly, Meg
- A Taste of Heaven (Teena)

Toews, Miriam
- A Complicated Kindness (Jules)

Tolle, Eckhart
- Guardians of Being art by Patrick McDonnell (Shonna)

Trueman, Stuart
- Cousin Elva (Barb in BC)

Turner, Michael
- American Whisky Bar (Rasiqra Revulva)
- Hard Core Logo (Resiqra Revulva)

Urquhart, Jane
- Sanctuary Line (Cat, Gavin)
- The Whirlpool (Jules)

Vanderhaeghe, Guy
- A Good Man (Gypsysmom)

Vassanji, M.G.
- The In-Between World of Vikram Lall (Jules)

Vaughan, Brian K.
- The Pride of Baghdad illustrated by Niko Henrichon (John)

Vaughan-Johnston, Sally
Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook (Teena)

Vlessides, Mike
- The Ice Pilots (John)

Wagamese, Richard
- Indian Horse (Gypsysmom)

Wagler, Ira
- Growing Up Amish (Bybee)

Waldner, Johannes
- Playing Like Timothy illustrated by Victor Kleinsasser (Linda)

Walsh, Darryll
- Ghosts of Nova Scotia (Riedel Fascination)

Walter, Julie
- At Home in the Kitchen (Linda, Sharon)

Walton, Jo
- Among Others (Paulina)

Wan, Michelle
- Deadly Slipper (John, Heather)

Wangersky, Russell
- Whirl Away (Jules, Shan, Daniel, Sarah)

Watt, Mélanie
- Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas (Perogyo)

Weir, Joan
- The Brideship (Perogyo)

Whamond, Dave
- Oddrey (Irene)

Whishaw, Lorna
- As Far As You'll Take Me (Barb in BC)
- Mexico Unknown (Barb in BC)

Wiersema, Robert J.
- Bedtime Story (Corey)

Wills, Gabriele
Elusive Dawn (Teddy)

Wilson, Eric
- The Inuk Mountie Adventure (John)

Wilson, Ethel
- Hetty Dorval (Danielle, Jules)
- Swamp Angel (Danielle)

Wilson, Robert Charles
- Darwinia (Braedonnal)
- Spin (Braedonnal)

Winkler, Derek
- Pitouie (Eric)

Winter, Kathleen
- Annabel (Giraffe Days, Julie)

Wojna, Lisa
- Canadian Inventions (Bybee)

Wolfe, Inger Ash
- The Calling (Gavin, Raidergirl)
- A Door in the River (Luanne, Nicola, Shonna)
- The Taken (Gavin)

Woodward, Caroline
- Showdown at Border Town (Sharon)

Wong, David H.T.
- Escape to Gold Mountain (Perogyo)

Woo, Alan
- Maggie's Chopsticks illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant (Irene)

Wright, Eric
- Death by Degrees (Barb in BC)

Wright, L.R.
- The Suspect (TracyK)

Wright, Richard B.
- Clara Callan (Raidergirl)
- October (Raidergirl)

Wright, Robert
- Our Man in Tehran (Swordsman)

Wynne-Jones, Tim
- Le matou marin (Riedel Fascination)

York, Alissa
- Effigy (Sarah at Goodreads)
- Fauna (Jules)

Young, Moira
- Blood Red Road (Darlene)
- Rebel Heart (Sarah at Good Reads)

Young, Scott
- Murder in a Cold Climate (Mysteries and More)

Zentner, Alexi
- Touch (Sarah at Workaday Reads, Raidergirl)

Zentner, Ali
- The Weight-Loss Prescription (Teena)

Whew, that's a lot of Canadian authors represented! But it's certainly not all of them. What about Scott Fotheringham or Deni Y. Béchard? If you'd like to win books by these two men, all you have to do is tell me the names of five Canadian authors we didn't get to in the first 6 months of the challenge that you hope someone (you, perhaps?) will get to in the 2nd half. Write your suggestions in the comments below.  You may not use anyone else's suggestions! From all those making suggestions, I'll choose one random winner to win these 2 books generously donated by Goose Lane Editions. As I'm not eligible for the contest, I'll go ahead and make my suggestions now:
1. Joan Clark
2. Richard Van Camp
3. Seth
4. Chester Brown
5. Ivan Coyote



Once again, Happy New Year everyone! And good luck.