Penny's Canada

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Penny's Canada

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Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 5:00am

Jul 1, 2010, 3:56am

New Brunswick:

David Adams Richards Hockey Dreams: Memories Of A Man Who Couldn't Play

David Adams Richards Lines on the Water: A Fisherman's Life on the Miramichi

Both of these books are set in what was Newcastle and is now called Miramichi. I re-read them in June as they are favourites of mine. They provide good autobiographical information on Richards and insight into some of his novels.

Jul 1, 2010, 3:59am

Northwest Territories:

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay s set against the history of the early exploration of the Canadian north and the 1975 Berger Commission on the oil and gas pipeline. The main characters are employees of the local CBC radio station who struggle with the changing culture of the north, the changing relationships within the group and how this will impact the future. This novel won the Giller Prize in 2007. A good read.

Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 4:15am


Gail Bowen The Brutal Heart the latest in the Joanne Kilbourn series set in Regina. I use to live in Regina so it is enjoyable to read a book and pick out the places I know. I like this series the people and politics are true to Saskatchewan.

Gail Bowen Love You to Death. I am not sure where this is set but I am placing it in Saskatchewan as all of Bowen's other books are set there. This was an Early Reviewer book.

“Love You to Death” by Gail Bowen demonstrates the power of talk radio. Charlie D is the host of a late night talk show that attracts troubled people looking for help. On this particular evening he learns, before going on air, that three faithful listeners have recently been murdered. The police want him to use the show to attract the attention of the murderer, whom they believe is a listener.

Charlie has his own problems and had left the show for over a year because of the emotional drain it caused him. His listeners are faithful to him and have built up an image of a strong man who ‘has it together,’ and get upset if he shows what they perceive as weakness. He is ‘the man’ who can reach out and touch them.

The power of who gets on the radio and who is blocked is determined by the station managers, so people who once were heard frequently are now blocked because they don’t project the right image. The participants don’t use their real names and some have been given names by Charlie like “Marian the librarian.” This enables them to develop different persona to hide behind.

The book is part of a new Rapid Read series and takes about an hour to read. The characters are quirky and the pace of the plot moves well but it is too much for Charlie’s two hour time slot. I like Gail Bowen’s writing but prefer her Joanne Kilbourn series to this.

Jul 1, 2010, 4:13am

Nova Scotia:

Dust from our eyes: an unblinkered look at Africa by Joan Baxter. As you can tell from the title this book is set in Africa but the author is from Nova Scotia.

For most people their vision of Africa is based on coverage of news events and television ads for orphaned children. This means Africa is seen as a continent of dictators stuffing their pockets, tribal wars and starving, sick children, not of individual countries, with a rich history, and citizens who work to develop their country in the best interests of its people.

Joan Baxter, a Canadian journalist, lived in Africa, in particular West Africa for over twenty years reporting for the BBC World Service, Associated Press, CBC as well as newspapers and other media. She shares how living in Africa opened her eyes not only to the injustices done to Africans but also to the strength and deep culture that has helped them overcome adversity.

In "Dust from our Eyes An unblinkered look at Africa" she looks at the impact western society has made on Africa as it has tried to reshape the continent in their image and at the same time strip it of gold, diamonds and other minerals, leaving behind poverty and an ecological disaster. The way they treat them as labs for growing genetically mortified crops, e.g., cotton. By using NGO's to work in favour of the west rather than Africa, in some cases setting up NGO's specifically for that purpose. How western governments support dictators, not for the benefits to the country, but for their own financial and military interests.

Dr. Asseto Samake of the University of Mali expresses it well:
“Africa is a place for experimenting. When you come to Africa you can do what you whatever you like, all you have to do is knock on the right door … the pressure on African governments is enormous, they the foreign powers play on our vulnerability, they sell us a situation and profit from the weakness of our states.”

You may not agree with everything Joan Baxter has to say but reading “Dust from our Eyes” should make you think more about the African continent and its fifty-four countries the next time you hear a news bulletin. Just for this I give it 5 stars.

Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 4:22am

British Columbia:

Denise Chong The concubine's children : the story of a family living on two sides of the globe set in Vancouver, BC. and China.

Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 4:21am


Howard Shrier High Chicago, another Early Reviewers book. It is set in Toronto and Chicago.

Jonah Geller is asked to investigate the apparent suicide of a young woman. This leads him into the world of construction and corruption. A big time player in construction with a bad reputation, Simon Birk of Chicago, is a partner with Rob Cantor; father of the dead girl; in building a large apartment/condo/retail complex in an environmentally unsound area on the Toronto waterfront. Soon the bodies begin to pile up. Geller takes his investigation to Chicago and faces attacks on his person as he continues to look into Birk’s involvement in the Toronto deaths. He is forced to call on his partner and a friend from Toronto for help.

The ending is somewhat contrived but otherwise the plot is realistic in this well paced, hardboiled detective mystery. The characters have depth and add realism to the novel.

I am looking for the first in the Jonah Geller series “Buffalo Jump” as I enjoyed “High Chicago.”

Jul 1, 2010, 4:32am


Louise Penny Murder Stone featuring Armand Gamache, a police detective in Montreal.

This is not set in Three Pines as her earlier Gamache books are. He and his wife are celebrating their wedding anniversary at a hotel in rural Quebec. The rest of the hotel is taken over by the Morrow family reunion. When murder occurs Gamache is both an investigator and a witness.

The series is worth reading.

Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 4:45am


Barbara Fradkin's seventh in the Inspector Michael Green series This Thing of Darkness set in Ottawa.

A retired psychiatrist is found beaten to death on a street corner in Ottawa's Byward Market. Green discovers that the doctor recently changed his will to disinherit his estranged son and to benefit several former patients whom he believed he had failed. But who is the young mystery woman seen visiting the doctor's home every Saturday night? What does she know?

A very good series.

Joan Boswell's Cut to the Chase, the third in the Hollis Grant series set in Toronto.

Danson Lafleur's been on a crusade to investigate deported criminals who return undetected to Canada, and now he's missing. Is Danson the unidentified, mutilated man in the morgue?

Editado: Jul 1, 2010, 5:10am

Nova Scotia:

Victoria Glendinning write a biography of the affair between Bowen and Ritchie Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie. Charles Ritchie was a member of the Canadian Diplomatic Corp. Ritchie came from a long-prominent family in Nova Scotia.

For Charles Ritchie "love's civil war" refers to the relationship between long term, unofficial couples. In his case Elizabeth Bowen was married when he met her in 1941 and when her husband, Allan Cameron died in 1953 he was married to his cousin, Sylvia Smellie. Their affair continued until Elizabeth's death in 1973.

Charles Ritchie was a Canadian diplomat who served as ambassador to West Germany (1954-1958), Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1958-1962), ambassador to the United States during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (1962-1966), ambassador to the North Atlantic Council (1966-1967) and from 1967 to 1971 was Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in London.

Elizabeth Bowen was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer. She published eleven novels, eleven non-fiction titles and ten short story collections. She was a frequent lecturer and writer-in-residence at American colleges.

Victoria Glendinning has edited the remaining diaries of Ritchie and letters of Bowen for this book, some were destroyed. Through Elizabeth's letters, aside from her feelings for Charles and her desires to see him, one gets a sense of her social life in Ireland and England as well as the struggles of writing and making ends met. From Charles' diaries we learn of his infidelities to her and his wife, the on-going questioning of his feelings for Elizabeth, we learn little of his work. He comes across as a rather unsympathetic person.

What I missed, and this certainly has no bearing on the work of the author, is the connection of Elizabeth and Charles to the other parts of their life. The death of her husband, the roles of her husband and his wife, and Elizabeth's relationship with his mother and extended family. Glendinning clearly lays out what is included and what isn't based on the material with which she has to work in the introduction. However, I feel much of the book exists in a vacuum from the world in which Elizabeth and Charles live. I want to know more, but I know the answers are not to be found in the four volumns of diaries he published in his retirement. Perhaps I should try Victoria Glendinning's "Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer."

I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in December 2008.