Canadian lit

Teen Drama & Magic Potions in “Flannery”

26113800.jpgFlannery by Lisa Moore
Groundwood Books: May 1, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Flannery Malone is sixteen years old and she’s been in love with Tyrone O’Rourke since she was a little girl. Sadly, this love is unrequited. However, things start looking up when Flannery is paired with Tyrone on their entrepreneurship assignment. Together, they have to create a product, a product that up until this point there has been no desire on the part of consumers to actually own (apparently this is the basis of being an entrepreneur). Tyrone suggests that he and Flannery make magic potions for their assignment; after all people will be willing to spend their money on a magic solution “Especially if they start to believe in it” (p. 52). The funny thing is that people do start believing in Flannery’s potions. Now, if only Flannery had a magical solution to solve the problems in her own life. (more…)

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Book Adventures Weekly: Issue 23

This week’s list is slightly more random than most…

A hilarious sketch about the pitch for PBS’ Wishbone.

In archaeology news, a shipwreck was accidentally discovered off North Carolina.

I AM NEVER SURFING IN SOUTH AFRICA. Never ever.*

This might make a good based-on-a-true story: Two brothers search for the remains of 57 Irish immigrants who disappeared in Pennsylvania while working on the railroad. One of them, Catherine Burns, will be reburied in her hometown in Ireland.

CBC lists 12 Canadian writers to watch (read?) in 2015.

Writer, founder, and editor of Urban Native Magazine, Lisa Charleyboy, shares her top three indigenous summer reads. None of them are any of the genres we review here, but if you’re looking for something different…

If you’re crafty, have a few old books you no longer want, and don’t care about “ruining” books, PopSugar has some clever ideas for transforming old books in to pretty things.

*After this post was published, I learned that the United States is actually more dangerous than South Africa, with more attacks and more fatalities. So, I’ll need to more closely examine the beaches I want to surf…

Book Adventures Weekly: Issue 14

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Did you notice? This week, our links focus on women. 

CBC Books celebrated with a list of 12 Canadian women writers “you need to read.”

Tor.com has a guest post by none other than Kate Elliott (!) on how to write women characters as human beings in genre fiction. (I’m still making my way thoughtfully through her amazing and wonderful The Very Best of Kate Elliott, which has some great examples of women as human beings.)

Susan Sontag on books in a letter she wrote to Jorge Luis Borges on the 10th anniversary of his death. From Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.

Again from Maria Popova, Pearl S. Buck, the youngest woman winner of the Nobel prize for literature, on creativity.

Emma Watson’s Q&A on HeForShe.

Huffington Post UK has collected trending news about women. Including the only female Football Association president in the world: Isha Johansen from Sierra Leone.

HuffPost UK also has a list of 15 books every woman should read. While I don’t entirely like the idea of books only women should read (why shouldn’t men? See reference to HeForShe above), it might be interesting and is certainly thematically appropriate.

A 17th-century song about a woman who dressed like a man to become a soldier and sailed to Iceland to fight.

Lastly, I feel the need to repeat a link, given this week’s theme and the awesomeness of the content: Some of my favorite heroines EVER are on this list of Science Fiction/Fantasy heroines you ought to know, from BookRiot.

And, from the Department of Random, Local Division

Check back at noon today, we have a special giveaway coming up!

Audio Success with “The Bear”

17669036The Bear by Claire Cameron
Little, Brown and Company: February 11, 2014 (Suspense; Adventure)

My rating: I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

After my first disappointing foray into audiobooks, I was rather reluctant to give audio another shot. Desperation drove me to it. Listening to the same songs on a long drive is mind numbing, and The Bear was anything but mind numbing. The Bear was a much more successful listening experience, even if it’s not something that I would have picked up in paper form.

The Bear first came on my radar while attending a readers’ advisory training session last month. The guest author was Clair Cameron, who read an excerpt of her book. I was immediately struck by how this book sounded. The Bear is narrated by a young girl and it was this style of narration that decided me on trying this one out in audio. (more…)

Monthly Non-fiction with ‘The Inconvenient Indian’

15797509The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Doubleday Canada, November 13, 2012 (Nonfiction)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

Fictions are less unruly than histories.

It’s that time again, for my monthly foray into nonfiction all in effort of facilitating my book club at work. Last month I tackled WWI and this month it’s a more complicated and controversial subject, Native relations in North America. This was not my pick for this month’s meeting, and I wasn’t exactly filled with excitement to read this one, but it’s a nominee for this year’s Evergreen Award, and we wanted to support the program at our book club. I should have been excited for this one, was it ever good. And I’m always happy when discussion flows at our meetings, although with this one, discussion got a little heated. (more…)

Classics: The Blue Castle

bluecastleThe Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: Bantam
Date: 1926
Genre: Romance / Historical Fiction
My rating: Outstanding adventure

This is one of my all-time favourite books ever, and one that I think is completely underrated. Generally, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series gets all the attention, but The Blue Castle is an amazing little gem of a book.

Our heroine, Valancy Stirling, is a twenty-nine year old spinster, stuck at home with her overbearing mother. Valancy is the epitome of a dutiful daughter; however, she is desperately unhappy, her only outlet being the “forbidden” books of John Foster. Foster’s books are all about nature – quite the racy read, I’m sure.

When Valancy starts having strange sensations in her chest, she dutifully visits the doctor. When she hears her prognosis, Valancy decides its time for her to make some changes in her life if she’s not expected to live out the year. Valancy’s first order of business is to vacate her mother’s home and care for the ill and disreputable Cecily Gay. In caring for Cecily, Valancy gets to know the town “bad boy,” Barney Snaith, notorious for flying about town in his outrageous car. In an impulsive moment, Valancy asks Barney to marry her, explaining that she will not live out the year, and Barney miraculously agrees and takes Valancy off to his island in the Muskokas.

Finally free from her family, Valancy begins to shine and becomes her own woman and Barney becomes her best friend. However, Barney is hiding something in a locked room in their cabin, and while Valancy has promised never to go there, Barney’s secrets may be enough to tear them apart.

While I’m not sure that the plot is original, I loved Montgomery’s quiet delivery when I discovered it in high school. Valancy was a wonderful character that I think many can identify with. When I read The Blue Castle I always hope for Valancy to find her courage and live her life. This book is the ultimate comfort read for me.

The relationship between Valancy and Barney is also quiet and understated. It’s not a grand passion; rather, Valancy and Barney slowly become close friends and then realize there is something more. Readers get to watch them become friends, which I find rather lovely in a world where many romance novels speed through to the steamy bits (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that there are times when you’re looking for something else).

Overall, I highly recommend this book. If you liked Anne of Green Gables you will be sure to love The Blue Castle. This is an atmospheric and lovely little novel that will appeal to a wide audience. And I also think that, despite the main character’s age, this novel is also appropriate for a teen audience.

Read-alikes:

If you have already read The Blue Castle or want more similar reads I would urge you to check out some of L.M. Montgomery’s other lesser known works:

Pat of Silver Bush (Pat, #1)Emily of New Moon (Emily of New Moon, #1)Kilmeny of the Orchard