Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One hung-over morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher. By the time she staggers into the tent the service is over, but as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.
She turns, and there is Victor. Only he insists he is not Victor, but the Reverend Eugene Wolff, on a mission to bring his people to Jesus. And he doesn’t seem to be faking: there isn’t even a flicker of recognition in his eyes.
With only two allies–her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, and Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with deep knowledge of the old ways–Joan sets out to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor, his life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon her success.
First Line: Old medicine has a way of being remembered, of haunting the land where it was laid.
Favourite Line: The creek that ran behind them whispered eight months out of the year, telling anyone who would listen the best way to sit still.
Actually, there were so many lines in the Empire of Wild I could have picked as a favourite. Cherie Dimaline has a descriptive style that is both poetic and unflinching that immediately drew me into the story and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. Her heroine, Joan of Arcand (LOVE it) is both heart-wrenchingly vulnerable and stubbornly determined. There was grief, loss, laughter, cunning, darkness, and hypocrisy. And a Rogarou, a werewolf-like creature found in Metis traditional storytelling. I mean, what more could a reader ask for? Nothing.
I loved this book! and I loved the heroine, Joan, who is now one of my all time favourite characters. I highly recommend it.
Below is a wonderful interview with Cherie Dimaline, talking about her books, love stories, and writing.
Until next time…
Has anyone else read Empire of Wild? What’s everyone else reading going into the weekend?
Since the weather has turned chillier, I’ve been on a reading binge. I’ve also been lucky enough to have been approved to read some Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of book I’d requested on Netgalley. Netgalley helps out authors by offering ARCs to approved reviewers. And by approved reviewer, I mean someone who talks about books on social media. And there is little I like to talk about more than books.
First up is Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn! Available December 31, 2019 from Kensington Books.
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .
If you love a slow, sweet burn, you’ll love this book. If you love talk of fonts, and scripts, and signs, you’ll LOVE this book. If you love New York as a setting, you’ll love this book. There’s also more to love because there is meat to this story. The characters work through some real life issues and face serious obstacles, make hard decisions. If you give this one a try, I don’t think you’ll regret it!
Second is Whiteout by Adriana Anders. Available January 28, 2019 from Sourcebooks.
Survival Instincts #1 With a storm coming and a killer on the loose, every step could be their last… Angel Smith is finally ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her final day, the remote research station she’s been calling home is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and irritatingly gorgeous glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives…only to realize that in a place this remote, there’s nowhere left to run.
Isolated with no power, no way to contact the outside world, and a madman on their heels, Angel and Ford must fight to survive in the most inhospitable―and beautiful―place on earth. But what starts as a partnership born of necessity quickly turns into an urgent connection that burns bright and hot. They both know there’s little chance of making it out alive, and yet they are determined to weather the coming storm―no matter the cost.
The action never stops. It’s a nail biter right to the very end. And I don’t know what it is about reading books that have snowstorms in winter when it’s winter for real, but I love them! This book has plenty of thrill and spills, well fleshed out characters and a remote research station in Antarctica. It doesn’t get better than that for this romantic suspense fan!
And third is The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. Coming Out on May 26, 2020 from St. Martin’s Press
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people―a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others―could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
I loved this book! And if you are a Jane Austen fan, you’ll want to mark down the release date, or better yet pre-order it because it is full of Austen goodness in the best way possible. It takes place immediately following the end of World War Two and the characters are all suffering from their own traumas. Through a love of reading, particularly Jane Austen, an unlikely group of people come together to preserve history and form lifelong friendships, heal wounded hearts…and more. It’s a gem of a novel that breaks your heart and then puts it back together. Definitely recommend it!
And there you have it! Three very different books but something for everyone. I would happily recommend all three of these books.
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!
Although I’ve managed to read, or perhaps finish is a better word, three books, I’ve spent most of my free time in June writing and trying to meet the writing goals I set for this month’s writing challenge. Thank goodness, the books I did have on the go were excellent and I recommend all three of them.
When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.
Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.
East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…
You’ll never think of certain vegetables (and some fruits) the same way again. Having said that, this book takes on some pretty heavy issues with compassion and humour. Nikki, a young, modern woman who isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life, applies for a job teaching a creative community writing class in a traditional neighbourhood centre in Southall, West London. When the women arrive for class, Nikki learns they are widows expecting to be taught English and literacy. An unexpected turn has these conservative Sikh widows penning erotic stories. I loved the characters, especially the widows. struggling to be seen in a world where they were no longer valued.
Think you know what it’s like being a baller’s girl? You don’t. My fairy tale is upside down. A happily never after. I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud. I was a fool, and his love – fool’s gold.
Now there’s a new player in the game, August West. One of the NBA’s brightest stars. Fine. Forbidden. He wants me. I want him. But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won’t let me go.
Long Shot also deals with the very weighty issue of partner violence. Trigger Warning: There are some very hard to read and violent scenes in this book. But as someone who lives in the Canadian province with the shameful statistic of having the highest rate of partner violence, I wanted to read the book I’d seen recommended on Twitter. When both Sarah MacLean and Kristen Higgins recommended the same book, I listen. Long Shot gives an insight to what it looks like inside an abusive relationship, and what it takes to leave. I appreciated every moment of this story. The hard brutal parts and the soft generous parts. Iris and August will stay with me for a very long time.
Audiobook: The Candle and The Flame by Nafiza Azad
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road.
There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population – except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.
But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.
Debut novelist Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.
I’ve hit a sweet spot with audiobooks and that’s fantasy. It’s the only thing I’ve been able to listen to with any success. This debut book by an Canadian author didn’t disappoint and was delightful with an excellent narrator. There was rich description and engaging characters and a wonderful and enticing magical element. Fatima is only one of a strong group of female characters. There is a matriarchal feel to this book that I adored. Fatima struggles to fit in. She’s doesn’t quite fit into the struggling working class neighbourhood where she lives with her sister. Then finds herself facing the same alienation within the aristocracy of the palace, when her life is changed forever. I can’t wait for the next book.
Until next time…
Summer is upon us! What books have you been reading? Or any books to recommend?
Robin Hood is one of my favourite folk heroes. Who could resist stories of an outlaw that steals from the rich and gives to the poor? Displaced, cast out, with a price on his head, the idea of Robin Hood, a rebel for the ages, has infinite appeal. At least, for me!
But I love myths and legends. King Arthur, Templar Knights! Tell me all your medieval favourites. I used to read a lot of medieval romances, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsay, Jude Deveraux. Writers with “J” names are very good at this, it seems. Castles, ladies of the keep, witches, knights, villainous villains, swords and poisonings. Oh my gosh, those books have the best bad guys!
Back to the movies and which were my favourite versions and which one was a huge disappointment.
We rented the newest Robin Hood version on the weekend. I was excited! I love Jamie Foxx! I wanted it to be good. It was not. It was terrible. Mine boggling terrible. The costumes were ridiculous. The plot holes were large enough to drive a team of horses through. At one point, my husband asked if we were actually going to finish watching it. We did, but once was enough. More than enough.
I’m not a huge Russell Crowe fan, but I love him as Robin Hood. Sigh. Almost as much as I love Cate Blanchett as Lady Mariann. I love that they are mature characters, in both temperament and age. There’s also a great cast of secondary characters. And I love that the legend begins when the movie ends. This is my favourite version, so far. It’s one of those movies I watch when I’m in need of comfort. It hits all my buttons. Every time.
Followed ever so closely by Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Despite his abysmal attempt at an accent, Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood will forever have a place in my heart. But ahead of him, is Alan Rickman’s Sheriff Of Nottingham and Morgan Freeman’s Azeem. This is another version I could watch over and over again.
My love of the legend probably began with this movie version that I saw in the theatre as a young girl in 1973. It might have been the first movie that I remember seeing in the theatre. I was enchanted by the legend, the characters, and the music.
Until next time…
If there are other versions of the Robin Hood story that you’ve loved, let me know. I’d love to check them out!
Well…March has entered like a lion in my neck of the woods with our area getting between 20 and 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) of snow. I know we’re not supposed to go on and on about the weather, because how boring, but holey moley that was a lot of shovelling. More so for Jack than me, if I’m being honest, which I almost always am. Also, a huge thank you to our snow blowing neighbours, of which we have three. Each of them took to heart the help a neighbour shovel out campaign and made runs up and down our sidewalks and driveway.
Also, of special interest to me as I’m the parent of a child with special needs, is the fact that March 7th marks the annual R-word: Spread The Word To End The Word campaign. We can all agree the R-word needs retiring, like other hurtful words that mock and malign have been in the last few years.
Bellewether is my favourite kind of book and reading it gave me so much joy. I didn’t want it to end. Very well written in Susanna Kearsley’s usual clever style, I fell in love with the characters and I also felt like I was given a glimpse into the every day life of the times. The book is set Long Island, New York, in both present day and during the last year of the Seven Years War . It also had a Canadian connection, which I very much appreciated.
The heroines of each time have both had their lives upended, both having suffered tragic personal loses. Charley Van Hoek is settling into her new job as curator of the Wilde House Museum when she learns of the long ago doomed romance between a French Canadian lieutenant, Jean-Phillipe de Sabran and Lydia Wilde. She is determined to include their history in the museum’s tribute to Benjamin Wilde, Lydia’s famous brother. Not everyone on the museum board agrees with her, but luckily the Wilde house is happy to help her figure it out.
Romance, war, historical intrigue, Bellewether has it all. And I didn’t guess the twist until the end!
*I received this ARC courtesy of Netgalley
* Book Available April 24, 2018
A bit about the Seven Years’ War
The Seven Years War (1756–63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea. In North America, imperial rivals Britain and France struggled for supremacy. Early in the war, the French (aided by Canadian militia and Aboriginal allies) defeated several British attacks and captured a number of British forts. In 1758, the tide turned when the British captured Louisbourg, followed by Québec City in 1759 and Montréal in 1760. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France formally ceded Canada to the British. The Seven Years’ War therefore laid the bicultural foundations of modern Canada.
Have you heard of or read other books by Susanna Kearsley? If you like time slip novels, check her out! Also, please share your recommendation of other books who feature characters who differently abled!
February is nearly over. I have to confess it’s not one of my favourite months. I suffer from what I call my February Funk. Luckily there are birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day in there to help it speed by.
Yesterday I indulged in a little retail therapy. Tonight I think I’ll give myself a manicure. I have Dying Embers by B.E. Sanderson to read. I’m already getting chills! I might also sip a cocktail or two.
I’ve pinned some great ideas on my Cocktail Hour pinterest board. What’s your favourite beverage to curl up with in front of the fire? Or to sip while reading or watching a movie?
I’ve tried this one and I loved it: Dark and Stormy. Candied ginger, ginger beer and rum. Yum!
Two lovely reviews for OFF THE GRID you can find on Goodreads! If you head on over to either of these two lovely review sites you can enter to win a $25 gift certificate!
Huge secrets, drama, mystery, betrayal, cover ups, murder, romance, twists and turns on every corner kept me on the edge of my seat. Off the Grid sure satisfied my craving for that mystery I have been craving.
Sophie had to be my favorite characters in the book. She has a huge heart of gold wanting to help every patient in need. However, Sophie puts her own life on the line to help out a very pregnant Kellie. I loved the fact that they had scenes at a medical clinic in Vancouver.
Off the Grid’s book cover does not do the book justice.
HOT DANG!!!! Yes, I’m trying to make my review as nicely worded as possible! Folks this book will have you on edge! The suspense it brings, the romance it gives, the balance it has of the characters and story plot show the remarkable skill of the author! The twist you don’t see coming… Yep, enough to expose enough truth, but why is it held back… If you haven’t read Off the Grid yet, you are missing out! I believe this will be a hot book for 2015!
One of my favorite things about holidays is all the good eats. I enjoy food. A little too much, but whatever. This past week in hot and sunny Arizona was no different. We partook in our share of wonderful meals while we were gone, home cooked and restaurant style.
It was so nice to sit on the patio at my in-laws winter home after a record-breaking cold winter back in Canada. They went all out for us, as usual. We ate lots of wonderful meals outside, during the day with the hummingbirds, or in the warm evening air. We were thoroughly spoiled. I didn’t lift a finger. I almost feel guilty about that…
I was lucky enough to tag along with my mother-in-law on her community group’s spring fling lunch at the Arizona Culinary Institute. (See, totally spoiled.) The company was delightful and the food was delicious. Lovely setting and the food was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. From the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer to the sea bass main course to the out-of-this-world chocolate cake.
Grandpa and Grandma spent an evening with their granddaughter dining on her favorite food of cheeseburgers and hotdogs and Jack and I treated ourselves to an evening out at SOL Mexican Cocina restaurant. A little bit of Baja California served in the desert. Oh sweet mercy, it was delicious. Bonus, I enjoyed with the best margarita EVER. If you love tequila this is the place for you! 60 artisan tequilas. No wonderful my margarita was extra yummy. Definitely recommend this one!
We also ate at a place called Wally’s American Pub and Grill which was served great food. Also, recommend. And a fabulous pizza place that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me. But when I get it I’ll add it in!
Food and family make for a wonderful combination. Especially when someone else is doing the cooking. Now it’s time to detox. Have a favorite meal you’ve eaten lately? Any restaurant recommends?
It’s December and that can mean chilly nights. In fact, today there is a Winter Storm Warning for my small part of the Canadian prairies. Nothing warms a cold winter day or night more than a book, BUT while your reading you might choose to sip a warm beverage. I’m a fan of several hot drinks.
I love the peppermint tea from David’s Tea. My husband and I drink this in the evening some nights and the scent is so fresh and addicting. I also love hot chocolate, see below. Who can forget about hot apple cider this time of year? I love making a big batch for guests in my crock pot. Chai tea lattes! And it’s always fun to add a snip of Bailey’s, Kahlua, or Peppermint Schnapps to the various mixes.
Now for the book part. My book club the Sanity Seekers read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain for our November selection. I picked it. Since it was my pick I figured I should review it.
I’m always intrigued by books of fiction based on real people, events, and well fact. Hadley Richardson was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. The story is told in Hadley’s point of view which peaked my interest as much has been made of Hemingway’s women. Their time together was short but huge at the same time. There were parts of this book that fascinated me. I thoroughly enjoyed McLain’s style and her writing. I’ve read other fiction based on fact but none that read as smoothing or believably as this. I loved the setting of Paris in the 1920’s. Loved the parts that talked of writing. But reading about their relationship and how they lived their lives was hard work at times particularly towards the end. And parts of the book dragged along. There was no temptation to stay up late and read all the way through, but the necessity of having to put it aside for a while and think about what you’d read. There is no happy ending for these two although I like to think Hadley found hers with her second husband, I wonder if Hemingway ever truly did. If he came close I’m betting it was with Hadley. But that’s probably the romantic in me.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Now about that hot chocolate. Although I haven’t been much for experimenting in the past, I’m trying to eat less of certain foods and cut others out altogether. Like cow milk and refined sugar. Which creates challenges when craving hot chocolate. It’s actually easy enough to replace the milk with coconut milk or almond mild, but the hot chocolate mix is another story. Until I found the following recipe in our local paper:
Hot Chocolate Recipe
6 to 7 medjool dates
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups hot water
Method: Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Adjust quantities to suit taste. Serves 2 Adapted from Ashley Clark: www.naturallyashley.com
I used hot almond milk instead of hot chocolate. It was wonderously thick and frothy but very sweet. If I were to make it again I think I’d use less dates and more cacao powder. Also, from using the medjool dates in my smoothies as a natural sweetner, I put them in the blender first with a little liquid and puree as I find they don’t blend up well and the end result is chunky.
Which hot drink is your favorite? Read any good books lately?
I’m a fan of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series even though I stopped reading at Book Eight or so. For me that’s a long time to stick with a series since I’m more of a trilogy gal. So, when I found JB Lynn on a friend’s blog I couldn’t resist giving her books a try. I downloaded her free offering on Amazon and kind of started in the middle.
Maggie Lee is a hitwoman. Accompanied by God and Armani (it’s not what you’re thinking, trust me) she sets out for Atlantic City to do a favor for her murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan. Barry Manilow is involved, too. But she doesn’t have a thing for him like she does for Patrick. Who has way too many rules, one of them about getting lucky.
The Hitwoman Gets Lucky is a spunky novella with a cache of eccentric characters, including a lizard and a dog. Maggie is delightful. Patrick has an unusual code of ethics but he sticks to them. And it’s clear he cares very much for Maggie. It’s also clear Maggie wants to get lucky with Patrick. There’s great chemistry there. And lots of laughs.
This is the first free offering I’ve downloaded from Amazon. I know, I’m behind the times. I kind of viewed it as a trial run of the series. Would I continue reading? And paying for the rest of the series? Yes, I would. Without hesitation. Who can resist the adventures of a reluctant hitwoman with a heart of gold? Not this reader.
Also, total random love. Pink patent shoes. With bows.