Tag Archives: book

Summer Reading

There’s a new Goodreads summer reading challenge coming up at the Bookish group. These are tough challenges and I’ll be starting on my second one since I joined. Some of the basic requirements are that books must be at least 250 pages long and can be nothing remotely smelling of Young Adult or …sniff… junk. (And I am not in any way implying that these are synonymous, although there is some overlap.)

The challenge involves reading tasks (as I think I’ve explained before) that are worth different point rewards. Bonus points are also involved. The tasks were just announced and I’ve started my planning. The actual reading must happen between July 1 and September 30, 2013, but challenge groupies get planning well in advance. I admit to staying up until 3:30 this morning searching for books (when I should have been reading my book club selection due tomorrow….).

Summer is one of my favorite times to read, and I have fit a number of my must-read books into the challenge parameters. For example, we’ll be reading Wolf Hall for book club so it’s there. I’ve got a couple of novels set in Turkey as I’ll be in Istanbul for a week in August. I received Arlene Dickinson’s book Persuasion for Christmas a year and a half ago and very much want to read it, so it’s on the pile.

If you enjoy Goodreads and like to discover new and sometimes challenging books, consider joining the Bookish group. If you’re a Bookish member and planning to join the challenge, feel free to use my spreadsheet. Otherwise, have a look at what I will be (trying) to read this summer.

Reality check: this is something of a fantasy list. I only read half the books I planned for in the last challenge, but at least I’m never scrambling for ideas.

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When Fenelon Falls by Dorothy Palmer – A review.

When Fenelon FallsWhen Fenelon Falls by Dorothy Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remarkable, funny, heart-breaking and completely original. A must read for children of the Ontario 60s, adoptees, and those with a passion for children. It takes a few pages to get into the rhythm of Palmer’s voice, her brilliant use of language, but it is well worth persevering. This is a novel that I will not soon forget.

View all my reviews

Dianne Warren’s Cool Water: A review

Cool Water
The National Post put me on to Cool Water by Dianne Warren in their review by Kathleen Govier.  It’s a novel, but with a lyrical structure of intertwined short stories.  Set in a small Saskatchewan town, it follows the lives of individuals and families over the period of a few days.  As in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, these stories intersect.  The reader is able to look down on the town and watch as the stories overlap and interconnect.  We read of a mother struggling to cope with her children as the family farm is in the process of being repossessed; the bank manager who knows too much about too many people in the town; a young man, adopted by Norwegian immigrants, who has inherited their farm and is anxious about his ability to manage it; a woman passing through town who loses a horse, inadvertently causing a rift between the owner of a diner and her husband; and a man and the widow of his brother who share a home and run the town’s drive-in.

While it is true to say that many of these tales are of loneliness, it’s not a depressing book.  Rather, we watch how people cope with being alone, with striving to make a life in a small town where possibilities of social intercourse are perhaps limited.  The setting is rural, but the emotions of living with others but still feeling alone, or of living alone and dwelling in the past could really take place anywhere.  Warren’s characters are incredibly rich and well-drawn and I felt drawn into their lives.  She has created a world that, as the reader, you fell you inhabit.  The dryness of blowing sand, the heat off the sidewalk, the sweat under a saddle all jump off the page.  An ideal summer read.

Recommended!

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier: Review

Tracey Chevalier and Sandra Gulland introduced me to historical fiction five or so years ago and I have enjoyed everything I’ve read by them (and branched out as well!).  So I was very predisposed to enjoy Chevalier’s latest, Remarkable Creatures.  And I did.  Very much so.

There appear to be two books out this year on the same subject.  Curiosity by Joan Thomas is also about Mary Anning, a twelve-year-old English girl and daughter of a cabinet-maker, who discovers the first intact skeleton of a prehistoric creature on the seashore near her home.  An uneducated, illiterate young person with an uncanny eye for finding fossils of all kinds, Chevalier’s tale recounts Mary’s friendship with a middle class spinster Elizabeth Philpot.  Because of their sex, they were barred from the scientific community, but Philpot’s persistence and (small) investment coupled with Anning’s skill at fossil-hunting yields a scientific partnership that is perhaps unique in the history of this discipline.

Chevalier alternates the voices of Mary and Elizabeth chapter by chapter, giving us a sense of what their friendship may have been like from both points of view.  We get a wonderful picture of life in a small English town in the 19th century, and a contrasting view of the excitement of London.  The moral codes around being a woman alone on the street, on the beaches, and out in public are interesting to read about, particularly as both women struggle against the restrictions imposed on them by society.  An extremely engaging work, this was a difficult novel to put down.

Recommended!