Friday, 24 February 2017

"Company Town" by Madeline Ashby

Another Canada Reads choice:
From "Goodreads":
"Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she's the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she's an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she's been charged with training the Family's youngest, who has been receiving death threats- seemingly from another timeline.
Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city's stability- serial killer?  Or something much, much worse...??
   This is a review of the book so the language is pleasant, but when you get into the book, it is filled with language that can't be used on T.V. or in newspapers. It is just plain crude.  I realize that the novel is about the sex trade and the language would be questionable, but why choose it for Canada Reads when you are recommending that everyone read it?  I don't agree with censorship, but I expect Canada Reads to choose the best of the best Canadian literature. 
   Sometimes, one character has a foul mouth and it fits into the story, but this language repulsed me.
   There are many people who loved this book.  Perhaps they are science fiction fans and are used to this type of language.

   So, once again, I've reached the limit of my perseverance.  The language was muddling my head, and, since I can't follow the science fiction aspect of the story, there seems to be no point in frustrating my sensibilities through the whole novel.

   Two years ago, I decided not to read "When Everything Feels Like the Movies".  It was too crude and rude for my brain.
 You may wish to read my 'rant' on that book here.

  Perhaps Canada Reads is aiming for a younger audience.  I have loved and supported Canada Reads for fifteen years, but I think perhaps I am 'aging out'.  I sure hate to give up on such a great idea.  Could we start Canada Reads for the older generation?

Monday, 20 February 2017


  I never recommend a book unless I have read it, so when my book clubs choose a book that I have recommended, I always read it again in preparation for the discussion.  
  This week, I have three book club meetings.  I am leading the discussion in two of the meetings- two books that I love. 
  Both of the books are well worth reading a second - or third time.  This is the third time I have read "The Hero's Walk" by Anita Rau Badami. You can read my review here.

   Later in the week, I am leading a discussion of "Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok.  It is my third reading of this book as well.  You can read my review here.  These books are both extremely well-written.     Jean Kwok has said :"Sometimes our fate is different from the one we imagined for ourselves".  Both books reflect this theme.      Great books!    Happy to read them again!

Friday, 17 February 2017

"The Break" by Katherena Vermette

author- Katherena Vermette

"The Break" is a Canada Reads finalist this year.
   A 13-year-old girl is viciously attacked in an open field.  A young Metis woman sees, from her house, that someone is in trouble and calls the police.  The piece of land is called "The Break" and I thought that was the reason for the title.  However, there is a much larger theme in this book that is reflected in the title.
  This whole novel centres around the crime, drawing in all the family members- four generations.  Unfortunately, it is mostly the female family members because most of the men have left.     
  Because there are so many characters involved, the story seems disruptive.  But in hindsight, that seems to be the right format for this book.  It is about native women and their lives are very disruptive.  The generational pain is so apparent in the ways all of the women cope with their lives- drinking, crying, switching men. They are constantly looking for 'something'.  And, because the mothers are preoccupied, and the fathers are absent, the children have no stability or direction in their lives. 
   And so, the title: "Broken".  The women are all broken.  It is a cycle that just keeps repeating.  
  This book was ideal for discussion.  
We are very interested to see what Candy Palmater will have to say in her defence of this book on the Canada Reads panel, March 27-30.  Candy is a comedian/broadcaster.

Candy Palmater

Friday, 10 February 2017

Robert Sawyer

   Rob Sawyer is one of my favourite authors.  Why?  Just because I like him. I have listened to him speak several times and find him just fascinating. The way his mind works is of great interest to me.  But I have to admit right here that he goes way beyond what my mind can take in.              The New York Times has called him: "a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation".
Now there's a word that also fascinates me: extrapolation.
I think that is exactly what this author does in his science fiction- imagines what could or might happen, based on known facts.  He takes scientific theory and pushes it to the extreme- maybe, maybe, maybe this could happen. 

"Quantum Night" is on the Canada Reads longlist and I was intrigued by it.  Don't understand some of it- but he certainly does extrapolate to the extreme.
  The theme is the neuroscience of morality.  Oh, yes, he really goes for stretching the mind.
But I could really believe some of the theory.  That is, three stages of consciousness:
Q1  robotic, do what you are told or what others are doing
Q2  psychopathic- lack of reflection and rumination
Q3 developed conscience, thoughtful
Don't we all know people in all of those stages?  And in this book, they discover a way to move a person- maybe the whole world to a different level.
And Rob always has something to say about the U.S.  In this book, he really plays with the election and the relationship between the U.S. and Russia- with Canada in the middle.  Rob is Canadian.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Canada Reads discussion group

Here is our group of Canada Reads "keeners".  I call the group 'apricity" because we sit in a corner window booth and enjoy snacks and coffee, while we discuss books that have been chosen for Canada Reads.
Apricity means 'the warmth of the sun in the winter'.  It comes from the Latin meaning "to bask in the sun".  And the sun did come out for our first gathering.  It was delightful!
We shared thoughts about books on the longlist as well as our expectations for the discussions in March.
My daughter has observed that I have blogged lately about many books that I didn't enjoy.  She is right.  And the reason?  I am willing to 'hang in' there with Canada Reads because even though I don't enjoy all the books, sometimes I find a gem.  That happened last year- "The Hero's Walk".  I am reading it for the third time and love, love, love it!!!!  That makes up for the others that I didn't enjoy.
Maybe there will be a gem this year.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Canada Reads 2017

   Canada Reads has made the final announcement of books and panel.

   Their launch this year was very disappointing to me, because I had been at a Canada Reads launch in the past that was open to the public, where the authors and panelists each gave a short speech and visited with the public. It was very dramatic and exciting- worth the drive to Toronto!

   But this year, Canada Reads posted a photo of the panelists with the list of books early in the morning of 'presentation day'.The next day there was a video with each panelist giving a short blurb.  No mingling with the public.

Here are the books and panelists:

Chantal Kreviazuk
Chantal Kreviazuk
Chantal is defending "The Right to Be Cold" by Sheila Watt-Cloutier.
Chantal is a singer/songwriter/activist.
She was born in Winnipeg and now lives in Toronto with her husband and three sons.

Humble the Poet
Humble the Poet
Humble the Poet is defending "Fifteen Dogs" by Andre Alexis.
Humble's real name is Kanwer Singh, but he chose a new name for the stage.  He is a teacher/ poet/ hip-hop artist with a YouTube channel.

Tamara Taylor
Tamara Taylor
Tamara is defending "Company Town" by Madeline Ashby.  She was born in Toronto  and is an actress, with a role in "Bones".

Candy Palmater
Candy Palmater
Candy is defending "The Break" by Katherena Vermette.  She was born in New Brunswick.  She is a lawyer/ braoadcaster/ comedian.  She has hosted Q radio.

Jody Mitic
Jody Mitic
Jody is defending "Nostalgia" by M.G. Vassanji.  Jody lost both legs with the Canadian army in Afghanistan.  He is now a city counsellor in Ottawa, living there with his wife and 2 daughters.
Canada Reads 2017