CBL's Canadian journey

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CBL's Canadian journey

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Ago 18, 2009, 6:44pm

I've included books I've read this year that are set in Canada. I've got Quebec covered, I think!

Ago 18, 2009, 8:11pm

It's that Louise Penny! Everyone's read her, except me, that is.

Ago 18, 2009, 8:25pm

>3 RidgewayGirl: I think Louise Penny is one of the best newer mystery authors writing. It would be worth giving her a try. It's definitely a series that should be read in order because there is a plot thread that develops from one book to the next. Her books also have strong sense of place.

Ago 19, 2009, 9:59pm

>3 RidgewayGirl: I haven't read Louise Penny either, RWG - don't feel sad.

>4 cbl_tn: cbl_tn, Is she a writer you can read just one from? I'm not a fan of being tied to serials.

Ago 20, 2009, 7:44am

>5 starfishian: Still Life, the first book in the series, could certainly be read as a stand-alone. The thread that runs through subsequent novels is introduced in this book, but it isn't the focus of the book.

The fourth book in the series, The Murder Stone, could be read as a stand-alone. However, it isn't quite as typical of other books in the series since it isn't set in the village of Three Pines.

Sep 5, 2009, 8:38am

I finished Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings last night. It is the first in a series of mysteries set in Victorian Toronto. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I thought there were some plot weaknesses. I did like the character of the detective, so I'll try at least one more book in the series. I gave this one 3 stars.

Sep 27, 2009, 6:39pm

I haven't read Louise Penny either, but I think she was just in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario for the Canadian Writers Fest. Wish I could have gone - Michael Crummy and Margaret Atwood were there. We are blessed to have Diane Schoemperlen and Helen Humphreys living in our city as well.

Oct 3, 2009, 8:03pm

The Suspect by L. R. Wright is my British Columbia read. This is the first book in a series featuring Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Alberg is in charge of the RCMP branch in Sechelt on BC's Sunshine Coast. It's a crime novel that's a little hard to categorize. It isn't a whodunit because the identity of the murderer is revealed on the first page. Some people would categorize it as a police procedural, but it seemed most like a cozy to me. I thought it was a good start to a mystery series and I'll be seeking out more books in the series.

Nov 15, 2009, 1:44pm

I just finished a wonderful book about a Newfoundland family that I never would have discovered if not for this challenge. The Danger Tree is about author David Macfarlane's Goodyear relatives. His family stories are interwoven with the history of Newfoundland in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and of the Great War 1914-1918.

I knew very little about Newfoundland before I read this book. One of the surprising things I learned was that, in the decade prior to WWI, the newsprint for London papers like the Daily Mail and the Times came from paper mills in the interior of Newfoundland.

I was fascinated by the histories and the family stories in the book, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a non-fiction read for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nov 16, 2009, 8:10am

Ooooh - that sounds like a good one!

Dic 17, 2009, 8:04pm

I made another trip to Quebec with Louise Penny in The Brutal Telling, courtesy of the Early Reviewer program. This has quickly become one of my favorite mystery series -- a police procedural in a cozy village setting. I like that the Chief Inspector is an educated, happily married man, and more optimistic than cynical. The drunk, elderly poet, Ruth Zardo, is a hoot, and she provides a bit of levity when things start to get too tense. I wasn't quite satisfied with the resolution of the investigation, so I gave this one 4 stars.

Dic 19, 2009, 12:06pm

12: I loved The Brutal Telling too, but I agree with you that the ending left me wanting. I plan to read more of her books.

Ene 4, 2010, 6:20pm

I just added my Nova Scotia book, My Famous Evening by Howard Norman. I had hoped it would be interesting, and it was much more than that. The essays were a bit uneven, as often happens, so I gave it just 4 out of 5 stars. However, it is definitely a book I will keep. If I ever travel to Nova Scotia, it will go with me.

My review is here: http://www.librarything.com/work/146247/reviews/51140349

Ene 31, 2010, 7:26pm

My Prince Edward Island book is Land of the Red Soil: A Popular History of Prince Edward Island by Douglas Baldwin.

For this challenge, I wanted to find a book by someone other than L.M. Montgomery for Prince Edward Island. It's not that I don't like her books, because I do. It's just that my entire impression of Prince Edward Island comes from her books. I wanted a different perspective.

This book is exactly what it says in the subtitle -- a popular history. There are no footnotes/end notes, and no bibliography. The writing, while a bit dry, is clear and doesn't demand a lot of effort from the reader. The book covers the history of the island from its first inhabitants through the late 1990s. One of the surprising things I learned about the island is that it's possible to drive to it without taking a ferry. As of 1997, the island is connected to the mainland by the Confederation Bridge. It will be of most interest to people with Prince Edward Island connections and to tourists either preparing for a visit or wanting a reminder of their trip.

Editado: Feb 15, 2010, 7:38pm

I joined the crowd and read Mrs. Mike for my Alberta book. This is book number 7 in my journey, so I'm now over halfway through Canada. Of all the challenges I'm participating in, this one has been the most rewarding so far. I've discovered several new authors that might not have come to my attention otherwise.

Some books combine character, place, and story in a way that draws readers completely into its world, and stays with us long after the last page is turned. For me, these books are often coming-of-age stories about young women, like Catherine Marshall's Christy, Gene Stratton-Porter's A Girl of the Limberlost, and L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Now I can add Mrs. Mike to the list. If Katherine Mary O'Fallon knew what waited for her when she married her Mountie, Mike Flannigan, she might have had second thoughts. It's hard not to admire her courage and stamina as she discovers the beauties and hardships of the Canadian wilderness and learns to live in it. I'm grateful for all of the LibraryThing members who brought this book to my attention. Highly recommended!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Edited to add that I discovered there's an old Hollywood movie based on the book. I've already got it ordered!

Mar 18, 2010, 8:13pm

I was able to cross Nunavut off my list with Darkness at the Stroke of Noon by Dennis Richard Murphy. It's a historical mystery/police procedural/arctic action thriller all rolled into one.

Victory Point, King William Island, Nunavut. When people speak metaphorically about the "ends of the earth", this is one of the ends. It's remote, barren, cold, dark, and, above all, dangerous for the eight-member archaeological team excavating remains of the Franklin Expedition. Not all of the team members will live to announce their findings to the world. When Mountie Booker Kennison arrives to investigate a fire that resulted in the deaths of two team members, it soon becomes clear that the fire is only the beginning of the dangers threatening the people at the site.

The author was a writer for film and television, and it shows in this novel. There is more action and description than reflection, the chapters are fairly short like scenes in a film, and the imagery is vivid. The author tried to pack too much into the story, though. It's easier for film viewers to suspend their disbelief during an uninterrupted 90 minutes of fast-paced action than for readers to do the same over several days of reading in between other activities. I hope I'm not giving away too much by saying that the body count eventually became ridiculous.

The characters were, for the most part, very well drawn. Had the author lived, I think he could have adjusted his story development from screen writing to novel writing. This book was good enough to make me want to read another one by this author, and it's a shame there won't be any more.

I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

Editado: Mayo 1, 2010, 6:55am

Saskatchewan: Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell

Brian O'Connel's family lives in a town on the edge of the Canadian prairie. As Brian ages from four to twelve, he stores up memories of events – his loneliness when his baby brother's life-threatening illness consumes all of his family's attention, his grandmother's sternness, the hatching of baby pigeons, the new friend who shows him where God lives, learning the rules the hard way on his first day of school, meeting the boy who lives on the prairie, getting his first dog. Brian senses that these things and events are important, and that there's more to them than he can see and understand. Like Jesus' mother, Mary, he “treasured up all these things and pondered them in (his) heart.”

All readers will identify with the boy Brian and his playmates. Even though I grew up in a different era than the book describes, it brought back memories of things I thought I had forgotten. Older readers may identify with Grandmother McMurray, Brian's mother's mother, who lives with the O'Connels. As her world shrinks from age and infirmity, Grandmother's thoughts turn more frequently to her homesteading days as she gazes at the prairie through her bedroom window.

I listened to the abridged audio version on a road trip. The author's performance far exceeded my modest expectations. He has the voice of a master storyteller, and it stirred strong memories from my childhood. His voice and inflection sounded a lot like broadcaster Paul Harvey, whose voice I heard almost every day on the radio during my childhood.

5 stars!

Edited to fix a typo.

Abr 30, 2010, 11:14pm

Thank you for this list, I just added a few more books to my books wanted list :P

Mayo 1, 2010, 6:57am

You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

Mayo 1, 2010, 11:27am

That sounds like a LOVELY book! I've added it to my wishlist and hope I get to read it soon.

Mayo 1, 2010, 11:44am

Thanks for your comments on Who Has Seen the Wind. I've been meaning to read it for years, and I have a lovely old copy even. One of these days! It was the favourite book of my favourite uncle, but my mom didn't think much of it. They both grew up in Saskatchewan during the Depression--probably too many bad memories for Mom, who was older.

Mayo 1, 2010, 11:03pm

>21 countrylife:, 22 My father was born in the Midwest during the Depression and went to elementary school in the early 1940s. Brian and his friends talked and acted just like the stories I've heard from my father about his childhood.

The author's narration enhanced the book for me. I know I would have liked it had I just read it instead of listening to it, but I might not have rated it a 5. Now Il want to read the book to find out what I missed in the abridged audio version.

Editado: Mayo 21, 2010, 10:45pm

I read James Michener's Journey with the intent to count it as my Yukon book, but since so much of it takes place on the Mackenzie River in Northwest Territories I decided to count it for that instead. I had a hard time choosing just one book to read for Yukon, and I hadn't yet identified a book I was excited about for Northwest Territories. Some of the book's action takes place in Alberta. Edmonton is the launching point for the wilderness journey. This book was originally intended to be a section in another Michener novel, Alaska, and when his editor recommended cutting that part of the novel, Michener eventually worked it into a novel of its own.

After reading about the Klondike Gold Rush in the newspapers, Lord Evelyn Luton takes a notion to travel to the gold fields in Canada. He's more interested in the adventure than in striking it rich, and for patriotic reasons he determines to travel within the confines of the British Empire, without straying into the United States. His stubborn refusal to take any of the easier routes that would take his party through Alaska leads to tragic consequences for his traveling party.

Since I'm not an outdoorsy person, I don't usually read wilderness adventure stories unless there is some other aspect to the story that appeals to me. In this case, I was drawn to the history of the gold rush and to the characters who formed Lord Luton's party - four men from England's privileged class and an Irish servant. One of the travelers carried Palgrave's Golden Treasury, and the poems or fragments of poems scattered through the novel are some of my favorites from my high school days - Robert Herrick's "The Poetry of Dress" and "Counsel to Girls", Shelley's "Ozymandias", Milton's "On His Blindness".

This book would be a good choice for supplemental reading in a course on leadership. It illustrates the folly of refusing to alter one's plans in light of new information or a change in circumstance.

4 stars

Edited to add rating

Mayo 22, 2010, 9:04am

My last Canadian book was non-fiction, but similar in that the leader's inefficacy as a leader doomed the expedition. In Death on the Barrens the leader both refused to lead and to relinquish control of the group.

Mayo 22, 2010, 10:48am

I read your review of Death on the Barrens and it does sound like there are several similarities between the books. The group in Journey was better prepared for wilderness and arctic travel, but they also became lethargic in the beautiful summer weather on the Mackenzie. As a consequence they stayed on the river longer than they should have and missed opportunities to head west up smaller rivers that would have led them to easier spots to cross the Continental Divide.

Members of the party in Journey realized that the group's leader was making disastrous choices. Other team members tried to reason with him, but none of them were willing to defy his decisions once the decisions were made.

Jun 26, 2010, 8:25pm

Manitoba: I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby

In I Am Hutterite, author Mary-Ann Kirkby reflects on a happy childhood in a Hutterite colony, the pain of leaving the communal life just before her 10th birthday, and her journey of fitting into the English world, a bitter-sweet process since her family did not sever its social ties with their former community when they moved away. Kirkby's insider's view depicts a community where everyone is valued and contributes to community life. Although families live in family units, children are nurtured by the whole community, and all adults are called "aunt" and "uncle" whether related or not. Children have work to do, but there is also time for school and play. Community support allows families to care for aging parents at home.

While colony life provides security, Kirkby's memoir shows that it doesn't always provide peace. Kirkby's parents made the difficult decision to leave their colony after years of discord between Kirkby's father and the colony's leader, who was also her mother's brother. Kirkby shows great sensitivity in writing of the breach between her parents and her uncle. She describes her uncle's flawed leadership style without bitterness or vindictiveness. By the end of the book I had developed a great respect for Kirkby's parents and their sincere faith.

Kirkby's stories about some of her failed attempts to fit into the English world are humorous, but must have been painful for her at the time. Her challenges included packing a school lunch that looked like other students' lunches and figuring out just who or what this Walt Disney was that the other children talked about every Monday.

The author's descriptions of food, particularly fresh produce and berries, made my mouth water. I'm glad I read this during the summer so I can satisfy these cravings! Only one recipe is included in the book. Many readers will want more. I think a follow-up recipe book would be a great idea.

Readers who like the currently popular Amish fiction will probably like this book even though there are many difference between Hutterite and Amish communities. Readers interested in living and eating locally might also enjoy the book. Although the book is published by a Christian publishing company, the focus of the book is on lifestyle rather than theology and should have a wider appeal. Highly recommended.

5 stars

Jun 27, 2010, 7:51pm

I Am a Hutterite is now on my wish list--thanks for your comments. My dad was in CO camp (conscientious objector) with some Hutterites during WWII, and he has some interesting things to say about them.

Jun 27, 2010, 8:19pm

>28 Nickelini: How interesting! I think you'll like the book.

Jul 31, 2010, 12:55pm

New Brunswick: The Wise and Foolish Virgins by Don Hannah, set in the fictional town of Membartouche. Real locations mentioned in the book include Moncton and Fredericton. Some of the characters visit the dune at Bouctouche.

In a small New Brunswick town, the lives of several people from dysfunctional families are about to collide. Sandy lives among the crumbling relics of his family's past glory as prominent citizens of the town. Perhaps out of duty, he is working on a book about the town's history, but can't get past the first sentence. Margaret, who lives with her sister Minnie in their childhood home, is haunted by childhood memories, and resents her much younger sister who escaped the terrors of Margaret's childhood. Teen-aged Chaleur spends hours in the woods to escape from his unloving mother, brother, and stepfather, remembering happier days before his father's death. Gloria tries to will her family to happiness through telling and retelling stories from their shared past.

The events of the book and the revelations of character are often dark and twisted, yet there is enough humor to prevent the mood from becoming completely oppressive. This isn't a happily-ever-after story, yet I was left with the impression that these formerly isolated individuals, by acknowledging the things from their pasts that have troubled them even in their dreams, have connected in a way that makes future contentment possible.

I have a fairly low tolerance for strong language and graphic sexual content, and there was much more in this book than I'm comfortable with. If I had known ahead of time about the content, I wouldn't have chosen to read the book. The characters wrestle with complex moral issues and emotions such as guilt, forgiveness, faith, love, and purpose. People with a higher tolerance level for graphic content may find much to contemplate here.

3 stars

Jul 31, 2010, 2:11pm

I am Hutterite is now also on my wishlist :)

Thank you for the review cbl... I think we share the same lower tolerances, so it is good to know about that book.

Jul 31, 2010, 3:12pm

>31 Bcteagirl: I've discovered a lot of good books in the course of this challenge, and I Am Hutterite is at the top of the list. It's been one of the reading highlights of my year so far.

The Wise and Foolish Virgins has a lot of positive qualities, and a lot of readers will like it. I'm just not the right audience for the book. I'm glad that my explanation of why it wasn't the right book for me is useful to someone!

Ago 11, 2010, 10:28pm

I finished my Canadian journey with a visit to Dawson, Yukon Territory, during the gold rush in Gold Digger by Vicki Delany.

Newspaper reporter Jack Ireland managed to antagonize almost everyone in Dawson as soon as he hit town. Soon he ends up dead on the stage of the Savoy dance hall. It will take all of owner Fiona MacGillivray's savvy and charm to get to the bottom of the murder to prevent the loss of her business.

The mystery wasn't too difficult to figure out, but there is so much more to this book than the mystery. Dawson and the Klondike gold rush come to life in the setting and characters. The perspective alternates between first and third person, and Delany gets Fiona's voice just right. Like Amelia Peabody, she is a force to be reckoned with, but with more personal charm and a somewhat disreputable past. Fiona's 12-year-old son, Angus, isn't as obnoxious as Amelia's Ramses, but he gets up to just as much mischief. This is a great series debut, and I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

4 stars

Ago 11, 2010, 10:33pm

Now that I've completed at least one book for each province, I plan to read one more book with a national focus.

I'm not finished with this thread. I've enjoyed this challenge so much that I'm planning a Canadian category for next year's 11 11 Challenge.

I know I've got at least one more visit to Quebec coming up soon. I snagged a copy of Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead in the July ER batch.

Ago 15, 2010, 6:09pm

I revisited Quebec with Louise Penny's latest book, Bury Your Dead.

I'm always torn when I read one of Louise Penny's novels. I want to finish it as quickly as possible to learn the answers to the mysteries central to the book, yet I want to linger as long as possible in the world she's created. As much as I love Three Pines, I was even more enchanted by the Quebec City of Bury Your Dead -- its blend of Old World and New World charm, of French and English culture. The murder's setting in a historical society's library and the connection to a historical mystery about Champlain, combined with the atmosphere of Quebec City, make this a favorite book in a favorite series.

If you're new to this series, please don't start with this book. It is inseparably connected to the previous book in the series, The Brutal Telling, and that book should be read first.

I received an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

5 stars. Full review here:http://www.librarything.com/work/9841764/reviews/63380679

Ago 16, 2010, 7:08am

Thanks for your review of Bury Your Dead. I really enjoyed The Brutal Telling, my first Louise Penny, but I felt there were some loose ends. I'm hoping this latest book will resolve some of them for me.

I agree that Penny creates a wonderful setting. I'm currently reading Still Life, the first book in the Gamache series.

Ago 16, 2010, 12:03pm

Yes, thank you for the review! Just added the lot to my wishlist... it is good to know that it is a series where you should start with the first book :)

Ago 16, 2010, 5:23pm

>36 mathgirl40:, 37 Thanks! I'd recommend reading the books in this series in order if possible. The first few books have a subplot that develops across several books. Bury Your Dead is the only one where it's essential to have read the prior book, though.

Mathgirl, I think Bury Your Deadwill answer a lot of those unresolved questions for you.