Fall on the Prairies

It’s October and the temperatures and cooling down. I’m enjoying the moment and the last of the fall days. Being able to be outside these last four months has been a lifesaver. Hopefully, October will see lots of backyard fires, blankets and cups of tea under the Big Dipper and the North Star.

Fall is raking leaves, blowing out sprinklers, cleaning out flower pots. I love fall, but it can be short in this part of the world. Winter is on the horizon. I even ordered a new winter coat yesterday. I’m determined to spend more time outside this winter.

Somehow fall also means organizing to me. Watching The Home Edit on Netflix was timely incentive. I’ve tackled the storage area in the basement and gotten rid of the first of the things that need to be recycled or taken to the dump and put together a donation pile.

But I still had time to read some books!

My Thoughts On:

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Just when you think you have nothing left to lose, they come for your dreams.

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

I’m one of those people that love to read dystopian books, even in the midst of a pandemic. I LOVED this book. There is a reason this book has won or been shortlisted for many awards. Though The Marrow Thieves is a young adult book, it’s also a book for all ages. Set in a near future ravaged by pollution and climate change. it’s the story of group of Indigenous companions who struggle to make their way north while being hunted for their marrow, their very essence, by white people who have lost the ability to dream and their humanity.

Each member of the tight knit group of characters has a coming-to story, a harrowing tale of what they survived before they found the group. By witnessing their stories, we learn how the destruction of the world began and what lengths people will go to save their way of life. Both the hunted and the hunter. A talented writer, Cherie Dimaline has a way with words. With storytelling. With craft.

It is gripping, and bleak, and enlightening. But hopeful. Dark, but somehow full of colour.

“‘Dreams get caught in the webs woven in your bones. That’s where they live, in that marrow there.’”

Miig, The Marrow Thieves

Until next time…

Do you like to organize your spaces? Have you watched The Home Edit? Or read The Marrow Thieves? What did you think?

Canadian Book Settings

I love Canadian settings. I think it started when I was a young girl with Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery which was set on the beautiful province of Prince Edward Island. It continued with Gail Bowen‘s Joanne Killbourn mystery series, which remains a favourite of mine, that is set in and around Regina, Saskatchewan. And so many others. For much of my twenties, I read a lot of Canadian literature. A lot.

Canada is more than maple syrup and hockey.

Not knock an often touted cliche, but while a picture can give you a great first impression of the sights, a book gives you the whole picture. A book can describe the tastes, the smells, the sounds, and the texture of a place.

Books can take you to a place you’ve never been, especially in a time when we’re not going anywhere, and if you want to know what life in Canada smells like, tastes like, sounds like, or feels like, there are a no end of books that can bring you here.

I’m going to leave you with four books that are not recent releases, with the exception of Mistakes to Run With, but ones that will give you a glimpse into the corners of Canada that you might not know existed or have read about, and not all of them paint a pretty picture.

Elizabeth Hay, Late Nights on Air

Richard Wagamese – Indian Horse

Miriam Toews – A Complicated Kindness

Yasuko Thanh – Mistakes to Run With: A Memoir

Until next time…

Anyone have a book recommendation that includes a Canadian setting? I’d love to hear it!

Hello July! And Summer!

I’m a day late because Wednesday was Canada Day, which means Wednesday I thought it was Friday and Thursday I thought it was Monday. Now I have no idea what the actual day is. Welcome to summer!

Back to Canada Day. All I have to say about the 1st of July is I’ve yet to appreciate the whole and very complicated history of my beloved country. I’m listening and learning and reading and I like to think I’m more knowledgable today then I was yesterday.

I live, work, and love on traditional lands referred to as Treaty 4 Territory, which is the traditional lands of the Cree, Ojibwe (OJIB-WE), Saulteaux (SO-TO), Dakota, Nakota, Lakota, and on the homeland of the Metis Nation.

The first day of July was a beautiful summer day. The perfect kind. With sunshine and birdsong and dips in the pool. There was also food. There’s always food. My husband smoked ribs and I made a rhubarb/strawberry/nectarine galette. It all turned out mighty fine.

The only thing missing was ice cream, which I forgot to buy, but we did have whipped cream and that was delicious too. Also, I may have baked it too long as I wasn’t sure how to tell if it was done and the last thing I wanted was to dig in and find a soggy crust at the bottom. But I’ve learned baking takes practice and that practice makes better. Just like writing.

One of my favourite recipe books for desserts is All The Sweet Things by Rene Kohlman who is a Saskatoon chef and food blogger. She’s busy working on a vegetable cookbook. Follow her blog or on Instagram as Sweet Sugar Bean.

12 Canadian First Nations Recipes: an across the country sample of recipes from First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people. The list was put together by Sharon Bond-Hogg and it makes me think I need to take a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia and the Kekuli Cafe! If you’re in the area this summer make sure and check it out.

Until next time…

Have a favourite summer dessert recipe? I’d love it if you’d share!

National Indigenous History Month

June is National Indigenous History Month is Canada. I realize that I have a lot to learn about the impact systemic racism and colonization has had on the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada, both past and present. I also understand it’s my job to do the work of educating myself. To do research and gain some clarity before I start to ask uninformed or disrespectful questions.

I always start with books and to that end I put together a list of books to add to my TBR pile. I can’t wait to get started!

There is also a great list of book found in this article: 35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month by CBC Books (Canadian Broadcasting Centre). This Place 150 Years Retold will also be added to my TBR pile! Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Second Story Press has a wonderful list of books for children in honour of Indigenous history month. I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland is based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother.

I hope you join me in reading one or two of the mentioned books.

Until next time….

If you’ve read a great book by an Indigenous, Inuit, or Metis author, I love to hear about it!

End of October Update

Tomorrow marks the end of another month and 2020 is a mere two months away! Autumn in Saskatchewan never lasts long enough to suit me and this year winter has arrived way too early. Tonight we’ll be carving pumpkins and tomorrow we’ll be setting them out on frozen steps or snowy driveways to attract trick-or-treaters. Well, hopefully not the tricksters…

Speaking of tricksters. I read a couple of great books in October written by a new-to-me author, Eden Robinson, who I met at The Saskatchewan Festival of Words this summer. Below is a photo of her interview with Jael Richardson. And let me tell you, she was has the best laugh! It fills a room and you can’t help but join in.

I started with Son Of A Trickster, Book 1 in The Trickster Trilogy, and finalist for The Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2017. I quickly moved onto Book 2, Trickster Drift, winner of the 2019 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. I loved these books and I can’t wait to read the third one when it comes out.

But for those who steer clear of books with serious accolades to their name, don’t worry.The beautiful thing about these two books is how very readable they are. If you like edgy coming of age stories with a paranormal bent to them, these books might just be the thing for you. Robinson deals with some heavy, tense issues in an authentic way and works at dismantling a lot of old and tired Indigenous stereotypes, and these books will have you smiling in places you least expect to. Add to that, Robinson’s way with dialogue is magic! Click here to read an excerpt! CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is adapting a TV series from her books called The Trickster, set to air in 2020.

 Meet Jared Martin: sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared’s the pot dealer with a heart of gold–really. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared’s determined to help hold his family together–whether that means supporting his dad’s new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours. But when it comes to being cared and loved, Jared knows he can’t rely on his family. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby, but she’s dead. And then there’s the talking ravens and the black outs and his grandmother’s perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but the son of a trickster.

As my October recommendation, I urge you to go out and get the two books from The Trickster Series. Tomorrow night I’ll be handing out candy and sending out thoughts to keep all the little (and big) trick-or-treaters warm and safe. Happy Halloween to those of you who enjoy the shenanigans!

Until next time…

What book(s) did you read in October? Inquiring minds want to know!

No Such Thing As a Guilty Pleasure!

It doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. It can just be pleasurable.

There should be no guilt attached to the things we choose to enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I need things like books and cupcakes and new shoes to balance groceries, laundry, work, and worrying about my kids. We’ve had more extreme cold warnings this winter then I can remember and the coldest temperatures in 80 years. Our daughter-in-law brought over cinnamon buns last weekend. I ate two. I’m not sorry. I enjoyed every delicious bite.

Also, books! Reading is a pleasure for me, as it is for a lot of people. We should be allowed to read anything we wish. We shouldn’t have to apologize for our reading choices. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we have to publicly reject the books we enjoy in private. The literary police can take a hike.

Books should be accessible, and in most instances they are. They are found in libraries, schools, bookstores, online, and a variety of other places. We can read paper books or ebooks. We can listen to audiobooks. We can stick to one type of book or enjoy a variety of stories. We can read memoirs or cookbooks, or DIY manuals. Newspapers. Periodicals. Magazines. But what we want to read must be available to us. The offerings must be there so we can pick and choose. No one has the right to restrict the access of books to others.

My Top Five Guilt-Free Pleasures!

  • Colouring my hair. Because I love my blonde hair.
  • My 80s playlist. Including but not limited to REO Speedwagon, Quiet Riot, Chicago, Laura Branigan, and .38 Special.
  • Watching Forged in Fire. Because modern-day blacksmiths making knives and swords is awesome.
  • Shoes. Do I really need to explain this one…
  • Keenau Reeves. Because Speed is the best movie ever made.

February 24th to March 2nd is Freedom to Read Week in Canada.

Until next time…

What little things make you happy?

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” ~ Brene Brown

Thanksgiving Weekend! Let Us Eat Pie!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend. Let us eat pie! And all the other good things. But especially pie, because pumpkin is my absolute favourite pie.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. Held in October to give thanks for the harvest season which arrives earlier north of the 49th parallel and in Canada, there’s little difference between Canadian and American Thanksgiving. We get together with family and eat lots of great food. Other than that, we don’t really have a lot of traditions that go along with the usual turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Other than giving thanks, of course.

This year I’m thankful for the history and legacy behind many of those favourite dishes of mine and for others that show up on our thanksgiving table. Thank you and much gratitude to our First Nations peoples, who were here long before Europeans arrived in North America, and who have a long history of celebratory feasting.

“Besides fish and game such as buffalo, elk and caribou, native feasts held centuries ago at various times of year would have included roasted fowl such as pheasant, grouse and turkey, root vegetables such as turnips, potatoes and carrots, the “three sisters” of corn, beans and squash (including pumpkin), nuts and berries. In some locales, wild rice and cranberries might have been served, and on the coasts and in the far north seafood would have been a staple.”  Susan Greer, The Associated Press,

I love eating! And in Canada there’s no pressure to rush out the next morning to go shopping. We’re still too full from all the yumminess of the night before.

Contest News!

Don’t forget there’s still time to enter my giveaway! My newsletter will go out monthly and include my take on any books I’ve read, recipes, cover reveals, deals, and contests. Sign up by October 15 to be entered to win! Winner announced on October 16!

Until next time…

Blessing to you all! Pumpkin Pie is my fav, especially when someone else makes it. Not a baker! What’s a thanksgiving staple in your house?

Everyone Needs A Little Time Away

Or, so the lyrics go. Not that the band Chicago had a family vacation in mind when they wrote Hard To Say I’m Sorry. But it’s true, everyone needs a break and some time away. It doesn’t have to be far, as in our case. Just far enough to feel like your in a different place.

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

California or Bust


Packed for California Road Trip

We left behind the snow and cold for the sun, water, and scenery of Encinitas, California. You can read more about the lovely coastal town and surfing mecca of Encinitas HERE. If I won the lottery I’d by a house on a cliff overlooking the ocean. That’s my fantasy. A place by the ocean. I can’t imagine the novelty of walking out my door and along the beach every single day of my life. Darn it, I’ll just have to settle for living in a province of a 100,000 lakes with beautiful sunrises and sunsets and plenty of golf courses. Poor me.

ocean, sunset, California

Palm Frond

ocean, waves, sunset

We didn’t rush about and fit in as much sightseeing and touristy things as we usually do. We settled into our VRBO and relaxed. We did visit the San Diego Botanic Garden which is an absolute treasure and it was lovely to see all the plants and flowers after a VERY long winter. We watched surfers, dolphins and pelicans from the hot tub on our deck. I drank my fair share of margaritas.

Oh, and I read the best book. Two, actually.

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

Thriller, A.J. Finn

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

I couldn’t put it down. It’s twisty and turny and you’re never sure who you can trust. It managed to take me by surprise and I loved all the old movie references.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Middle Grade Book, Kenneth Oppel, Canadiana

Will Everett has always wished for an adventure.

Little does he know his started the moment he boarded The Boundless. The longest, most glamorous locomotive in the world, it stretches more than eleven kilometres long and pulls an astounding 987 cars: passenger cars, shooting galleries, gardens, an onboard swimming pool, cinema and much more. But its maiden voyage won’t be a smooth ride for Will. After witnessing a murder during a station stop, he barely makes it back onto the train (with a running leap!), then must work his way from the caboose forward to his father in first class – with the murderer and his cronies on his tail. Luckily, a clever and nimble friend is perfecting her act in The Boundless’s circus car, and there the real thrill ride begins. Sasquatches, bog-dwelling hags and illusions abound in this outsized adventure aboard the Titanic of trains!

This is a middle grade book that we read it to our daughter on this trip. It’s so good! Very Canadian, which I adore. A cast of colourful characters are in for the ride of their life as the Boundless traverses the Canadian Pacific railway not long after the last spike is nailed into place. Also, and people probably don’t know this about me, I’m a Sasquatch (Bigfoot) enthusiast. And guess what? There are Sasquatch in this book!

Until next time…

Where is your fantasy home located? Or share the name of a book you’ve enjoyed lately!

A Writer’s Journey To Slow Fashion

My transition into slow everything, food, fashion, fitness, has been, well…slow. My evolution into a conscious consumer a work-in-progress. Good habits take time to cultivate, after all. And it’s not always easy. Improving my health, my carbon footprint, or my writing craft takes effort and a great deal of planning. Oh, the planning! I find I’m no longer the jump right in and get it done sort. The older I get the more planning becomes one of my cornerstones to achieving my goals

Cue my foray into slowing things down and letting go of Fast Fashion. I read a truly alarming statistic the other day in an article discussing the movie: The True Cost.  In a conversation with Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age, a fashion activist (also the wife of Mr. Darcy, sometimes known as Colin Firth), she mentioned The average garment remains in a person’s closet for an average of five weeks. What!?!

My first thought was the amazing amount of time some people must spend shopping. Yikes! If you’re throwing away clothes at that rate, you must be really like the mall. I’m also wondering about the amount of money being spent. But when you can buy a t-shirt for $4.99, who cares if you throw it out when it falls apart after one wash. So much of what we consume is disposable. Unfortunately, it’s not biodegradable.

Livia Firth is also a force behind the 30 Wear Challenge. When you buy an article of clothing commit to wearing it a minimum of thirty times. I know some of you are already a pro at this concept. But some of you, like me, might want to check out your closet, or take a look in your daughter’s closet. Or at her floor. What about that one-time-wear adorable holiday outfit you bought for your grandchild? Or your dog?

An estimated 1 million tons of textile waste is dumped into landfills around the world each year.

Armed with that tragic stat, I did a little research and learned what I could do to be more conscious about my wardrobe choices and my shopping habits. Enter the words: eco, ethical, and sustainable.

Me? I’m a terrible impulse shopper. So that’s one of the habits I need break. Turns out it’s not that hard to do when you have to keep an ear to those three ideals and the commitment to 30 wears. Shopping then becomes a little overwhelming, to be honest. But not impossible. Hence the planning part and also the realization I have to take it slow. Ease my way towards my end goal of an ethical wardrobe.

Five Ways To Becoming A More Thoughtful, Slower Consumer:

  • Buy local.
  • Buy less.
  • Buy used.
  • Buy from independent designers.
  • Buy quality garments that last.

My discoveries so far: Miik (A 100% Canadian Company), Tonle (A Zero Waste Fashion Line) and SlumLove Sweater Company (Ethically Handmade in Kenya).

Personally, it’s also about improving the lives of people at the very beginning of the supply chain. The majority of garment workers are women who work and reside in some of the most underdeveloped countries in the world working for factories and brands who have little regard for safety and labour protection issues.

A dress from Tonle, a zero waste fashion line.

Someone complimented me on my Tonle shirt (my new favourite) the other day and after I said thanks I asked if they wanted to hear the story behind my shirt? As a writer and teller of stories, why not wear one?

What’s in your wardrobe?

Off The Grid 99c Until January 22nd

Off The Grid is on sale for 99c!

It’s a steal of a deal for 99 cents until January 22nd! Set in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Off The Grid is the story of two people snared in the net cast by one man in a quest for power and dominance.

I think this book weighs in higher on the suspense side. Bad things happen in this book. Just so you know. It’s honest, emotional, and fast paced. If you love gritty romantic suspense, this is the book for you!

Poverty, Privilege and Power

Off The Grid by Karyn Good

Off The Grid by Karyn Good 99c until January 22nd

A committed doctor to Vancouver’s inner city, nothing fazes Sophie Monroe—until a pregnant teenager shows up at her clinic on Christmas Eve requesting sanctuary and claiming the baby’s father is one of the city’s most influential businessmen. Sophie is in over her head and thankful when aid shows up in the form of an attorney who’s a little too confident and a lot too sexy.

Family Law expert Caleb Quinn just wants a date, a chance to prove he isn’t the elitist jerk Sophie assumes. Helping deliver a baby is not what he has in mind. But before long protecting a traumatized teenager and her son become his first priority. Even if saving them pits him against the baby’s father, a childhood friend. A man who will do anything to keep his dark side private.

But justice never comes cheap. Will doing the right thing cost Sophie and Caleb their reputations? Or their lives?

The Wild Rose Press * Amazon * Kobo * Barnes and Noble * iBooks

A Bit About The Inspiration Behind Off The Grid

The first time I heard about the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, famously dubbed Canada’s poorest postal code, I knew I wanted to set a story there. In a tough environment where I could explore the incredibly difficult choices some women are forced to make in order to survive. Not pretty ones, but real ones. I wanted a heroine who was compassionate, smart, and driven and a hero who was the product of privilege, ambition, and character. Two protagonists caught up in something bigger than themselves who must decide on which side of the line they are going to stand.

“These people, they aren’t invisible, and acknowledging that is worth something.” Eastside Stories

The video below is a powerful reminder that we’re all equal, that poverty isn’t catching, and that how we care for each other matters.