I don’t think I’m ready to delve into what I’ve learned about myself and life in 2020 yet. That will come in time. Now, when the days are short and the nights are long and times are uncertain, I do know that I am thankful.
Thankful for healthcare workers, all hospital staff, those caring for our elderly and all other caregivers, first responders, those who serve and protect, the cashiers and cleaners and all others dealing with the public. To all of you who will continue to battle this pandemic while those of us who celebrate Christmas pause for the holidays, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”
When I put together my reading plans for 2020, I had no idea that the world was going to implode because of a virus. You would have thought that would have made reading lots of books easier. Nowhere to go, no place to be. But, as many of us have experienced, maintaining focus long enough to finish a book has sometimes proven a struggle.
2020 and COVID 19 has also changed my reading habits. My book club, which had run for almost 20 years (there’s always a debate over our start date), decided not to meet until things settled down. Of course, that hasn’t happened. No one suggested we meet online. I don’t think any of us had the energy, or the desire, to figure out how to make it happen.
I’m finding that’s okay with me. I’m enjoying reading what I want at my own pace without stressing over having to read a book I don’t want to read or choosing one that no one else would find interesting. A break from reading a book club pick each month has allowed me to focus on reading more Canadian fiction with a focus on Indigenous, Black and writers of colour as a way to diversify my reading.
You can read the results of my 2019 Reading Challenge here.
A Classic: My thought was to listen to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier on audiobook. Then the Netflix adaptation came out and, well…I watched it instead.
A Historical: Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback. You can read my review here.
A Cookbook: Didn’t happen. But I have one in mind for 2021.
An Indigenous Author: I read several great books. My favourite was Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline. You can read my review here. Followed closely by Moon Of The Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (Dystopian/Horror) which I really liked but which freaked me out. Followed closely by Maggie Blackbird, Indigenous Canadian romance writer.
A Romance: I read several, because…pandemic. A lot of old school Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts because those books are my jam. But I also read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and loved it.
A Graphic Novel: I bought one, but I haven’t read it. Yet!
A Science Fiction Novel: Also, didn’t happen. Don’t even have one in mind. Definitely could use some recommendations as I don’t even know where to really start.
A Book of Poetry: I have one…will read it in 2021.
A Non-Fiction Book: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. I can’t say enough good things about her writing and how it speaks to me. I’m still crushed by her sudden passing in 2019.
A Canada Reads Book: So…I picked Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward’s Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. Then the pandemic hit and I could tell by page ten it wasn’t going to happen. Not that it wasn’t a fabulously written book but I knew it was going to be intense and I just didn’t have it in me. Luckily, I’d already read Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson, which I loved.
A Memoir: Mistakes to Run With by Yasuko Thanh. It was raw, honest and articulate. Highly recommend.
A Young Adult: I know I’m late to the party, but I finally read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and wished I’d read it sooner because it’s such a great book.
There you have it. I think I had a pretty successful reading year, despite finding it difficult to focus at times.
I’d love to hear about other reading challenges you did this year. Or if you have any reading recommendations, I’d love to hear those too.
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.
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?
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.
If you’d like another month of summer, raise your hand. I know I would. For a couple of reasons. One: another month before September, and flu season, are once again upon us would be awesome, as COVID-19 continues to take a toll. Two: I’m not ready for summer to be over.
Our Saskie mermaid! She’s a strong swimmer and even though it’s an incredibly cute product I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is not a strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water. I am not! Putting this tail on causes me all kinds of no-thank-you-I-prefer-not-to-drown-today.
A Saskatchewan summer usually means hot, dry weather and our province averages the most sunshine of any Canadian province or territory. Which is a good thing because I’m fuelled by sunshine. I don’t mind the odd rainy day, but otherwise I’m solar powered. Much like the summer cereal crops we grow here. Or the pulse crops. Or the oilseeds.
What I’m reading:
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU
FATE HAS THROWN TWO SWORN ENEMIES…
Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…
…INTO EACH OTHER’S ARMS
Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…
I’ve been exploring new romance authors in July and August and I’m really enjoying Julie James. Someone To Love is an older book. You can read a sample here. Generally, these cutesy covers send me running in the other direction. But I took a chance on this book because of the blurb. It appealed to my suspense loving nature, and I’m enjoying that part of the book although it’s definitely lighter on the suspense and heavier on the romance.
Until next time…
Is anyone else enjoying the heck out of the August? Or are you a Autumn person? Let me know what you’re reading?
Doing summer during a pandemic takes some creative ingenuity. But trust my daughter to come up with a fun activity. A tea party, which proved to be an excellent stay-at-home activity.
Everyone should have tea parties. They are a blast. Hats, ties, special treats, china cups and laughter. That’s a win in a time of anxious uncertainty.
And what a way to engage the imagination. We got very adventurous and made pavlova nests we filled with a lemon curd. I would definitely make these delightful little nests again using the right type of piping bag and decorating tip. Kudos to my sister for doing an amazing job despite the improvised tools. Also, I baked them a smidge too long and they weren’t a nice crisp white. But they tasted delicious. And practice makes better!
Menu decided, we dressed up, donned hats and ties, and sipped from china cups my mom donated for the occasion. We gave ourselves fancy names and thought of as many British words as we could manage.
Until next time…
Who else has had to think outside the box for activities this summer?
I took a beginners photography class this spring – part in person and part online – because of the Covid. I love taking pictures. I can’t wait to get out there with a camera and take more pictures as I’ve got a black and white project in mind for a very blank wall that needs some creative touches. Also, photography is one of the ways I recharge my creative batteries. And in these uncertain times, that is a must.
This photo won’t be used in any art project, but it is a glimpse of our new backyard patio area where we love spending time. This space used to be a no-man land’s of wasted side/front yard that never saw any use. We’ve reclaimed it as part of our backyard and we couldn’t be happier with the results. And, again, in this new normal we’re adjusting to, this space has seen a lot of use because we simply aren’t out and about as much.
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?
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!
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!