Friday 31 May 2019

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

Finished May 29
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

This historical fiction novel follows two women one hundred years apart. In 1838, in Northumberland along the coast of England, Grace Darling lives with her parents and younger brother in a lighthouse. Her father is a lighthouse keeper, and her brother will take on the role after him. Meanwhile Grace does a lot of the work of the lighthouse to assist. When a bad storm hits while her brother is on the mainland, and Grace spots a wreck on a nearby island, she and her father row out to save any survivors. One of the survivors is Sarah Dawson, who was on the ship headed to visit her brother George Emmerson, an artist. Grace has met George briefly, but felt a connection with him that surprised her.
Grace's role in the rescue brings her attention and notoriety, none of which she wants. She is compelled into answering letters, sitting for portraits and other unwanted tasks, until a local lord and his wife take her under their wing and protect her from some of the less savoury attentions.
In 1938, Matilda Emmerson is sent from England to Rhode Island to stay with a distant family member she's never heard of before, Harriet Flaherty, a lighthouse keeper. Matilda has become pregnant and her parents are trying to hide this from the society they move in.
Gradually Matilda and Harriet grow close and Harriet shares with her some of the family history, including that of the locket that Matilda wears around her neck, and the book of instructions on keeping a lighthouse.
I liked the parallels of the two women's stories, and the connections made over the years.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Comics for a Strange World

Finished May 25
Comics for a Strange World: a book of poorly drawn lines by Reza Farazmand

This collection of comics draws on the events of our strange world and makes them even more absurd. He takes a look at the world around him, and pulls out the funny, from technology to human relations. From interactions with animals to ennui.
I found myself laughing often at these. He truly has a gift for showing our world in all its craziness. From someone complimenting the grim reaper on his sense of style to a queen who talks to her candelabra, to ghosts actions and reactions, he finds the absurd and draws it.

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures

Finished May 24
Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale

This odd novel is set in a small community on the west coast of Canada. Julie Bird has returned to the town she grew up in to find everything slightly askew. Her father Marty, a war vet with a prosthesis and PTSD, seems more depressed and bent on self-destruction. A young woman making a living as a Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator seems to have a hold on him that Julie doesn't understand. When she begins to figure out who this woman is, and her relationship to Marty's past, she feels anger, but also fear for her dad.
When the three go for a boat trip, it culminates in the beaching and death of a blue whale, an event that casts a miasma, both real and nebulous over the town. More odd animals deaths continue to occur, some seem like suicide, and the relationship to animals here has many layers.
This is a story of a past that has a strong influence on the present, of the relationship between humans and their environment, and about a young woman coming to terms with the reality of death.

The Map That Leads to You

Finished May 22
The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger

This romance novel follows three young women, newly graduated from college, as they embark on a summer trip through Europe. Heather is the main character here, and she travels with Amy, a rebellious, devil-may-care woman; and Constance, a serious-minded woman who is aiming to see as many saint-themed sites as she can.
As the book begins, they are on a train to Amsterdam, travelling overnight. A young man, Jack, asks Heather to hold his backpack for a moment as he makes himself a bed in the luggage rack, and the two begin a flirtation. Amy, meanwhile has hooked up with another guy who invites them to a party in Amsterdam the evening they arrive, and although Heather invites Jack, she's not really sure whether he'll arrive. Heather feels a connection to him that she hasn't felt with anyone before, and believes that he feels it as well.
This is a story of a young woman's first series love affair, one that goes beyond the physical, that challenges her in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable, and that scares her a little with how it makes her feel, and how it questions her future intentions. Around her, are the adventures of travel, the friendships, and the escapades and relationships of her two friends.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Lost Roses

Finished May 20
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, read by Kathleen Gati, Tavia Gilbert, Karissa Vacker, and Catherine Taber

This novel is related to the author's earlier Lilac Girls, but happens in the generation earlier, around the first World War. One of the central characters here, Eliza Ferriday, is the mother of one of the main characters in Lilac Girls, Caroline Ferriday.  The story begins in 1914, with Eliza hosting a close friend that she met years before in Paris, Sofya Streshnavya. Sofya is a cousin of the Romanovs, and is married to an army officer. Her father is attached to the Treasury department of the government. Sofya's mother died a few years ago, and her father remarried, to a woman very conscious of status, class, behaviour, and material wealth. Sofya's younger sister Luba has an innovative and scientific mind and is enormously interested in astronomy. As the story begins, Sofya's baby, Max, arrives early, and in good health. Eliza is already a mother to Caroline, and while she loves her husband and daughter, she also loves to travel, and it has been arranged that she will travel back to Russia with Sofya and her family.
The story then jumps to Russia, with Eliza visiting St. Petersburg and visiting the many sites with her friend. The unrest has already begun though, and an incident during an evening to a gala at the Tsar's palace shows that clearly. Eliza makes it home safely, and Sofya's family soon after decides to go to their nearby country estate. There are already some signs of change there as well, and while the family settles in, there are incidents that arise to show what is happening in the world around them.
There is a woman living near the village by the estate that was once a member of court, but married a local man, since died, and now tells fortunes. She has a teenage daughter Varinka, whom she has taught as well as she can, including French and English, and the family hires Varinka as a nanny for young Max when their foreign nanny leaves.
The story really develops from here, showing the terrible extent of the revolution with some rebels bent on destruction and filled with hate for the upper class, while others recognize the individuals that also did good for the people whose lives intersected with theirs. Sofya's family undergoes many terrible things and she must draw on her underlying strength, and the love of her son, as well as her hope for help from her friend Eliza to survive. Varinka is already in a bad place, with the loss of her father placing her and her mother under the control of her father's former apprentice, and subject to his moods and angry actions. She is young and impressionable and doesn't always follow the guidance of her mother.
Eliza, back in the United States, is filled with worry about her friend, which she begins to put toward assisting other Russian refugees, particularly women and children. But she has issues in her personal life as well, with the health of her husband, the growing rift between her and her daughter, and the expectations of the society world she lives in.
This book has sadness and loss, but also hope. Some of my own family fled the area south of St. Petersburg following the Russian Revolution, so it was interesting to see this view of the times.
While drawing from real people and real events, the author clearly discusses in an afterword the sources for the characters that she has built here, showing the detailed research she has put toward this book.
I look forward to her next one, which goes back farther in the same family, centering on the U.S. Civil War.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes

Finished May 16
Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes by Margo LaPierre

This collection of poetry is divided into three parts. The title poem is the last in the book and looks at how we deal with failure and find a way to move on. The poems here are thought-provoking, drawing on the impulse to believe and disbelieve, to search for a solid base in our lives.
Many are inward looking, trying to figure out what one is feeling, how one reacts to the world, and how we define ourselves as much by that world as we do by the innermost part of ourselves.
I really enjoyed the poems here, finding myself reading one and then sitting back to think on it, sometimes lingering or rereading a certain section, and thinking about how I related to similar situations in my own life. Very good.

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets

Finished May 15
The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

This story of two sisters begins with their mother Meredith. Meredith is supposed to be taking a nap, but she eludes the woman looking after her and is found walking down towards the spit with a flare gun. The police chief Garrett Singh is the one that finds her, confused and not entirely sure of her purpose. He asks if he should call her daughter, and she agrees, but he was referring to her younger daughter Delia, who lives in town with her husband Dan and two daughter, and she has him call her older daughter Lindy, who hasn't lived in town for nearly seventeen years.
Lindy is having a bit of a crisis in her life, losing her job, her boyfriend, and her place to live all in one blow, since one man is common to all. She's made a name for herself as a bartender and it won't be hard for her to get a new job, but she is suddenly finding her life less fulfilling. When she gets the call from Garrett and discovers that her mother had a stroke a little while ago, she immediately starts on her way.
Lindy didn't want to leave town all those years ago, but she felt she had no choice. Up until that point, Delia and Lindy had been very close, but something happened that drove them apart and made Lindy leave.
The book gradually reveals the story behind the sisters' estrangement, and what has happened in both their lives since then. Meredith plays a large role in the story, as does Delia's oldest daughter Brin, now a teenager. Brin's curiosity about the rift, about the secrets her parents and aunt have, and about her aunt in general all drive the story forward.
This is a story of secrets, not all of which are revealed to all the characters, and about family and small town life. There is lots going on her, from health to prejudice, from class divisions to fear of losing something precious. Small town life along the shores of lake Erie isn't necessarily simple.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Under the Cold Bright Lights

Finished May 12
Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher

This Australian mystery features the Melbourne detective Alan Auhl. Alan had retired from the police, but recently rejoined to work cold cases. Alan also has an unusual living arrangement. He lives in the large old house that he inherited from his parents. He rents out rooms to university students, and his university attending daughter also lives there. His ex-wife has a room in the house that she sometimes uses and the two get on well. There is a small suite at the back of the house that has been used from time to time by people who need time to get themselves together, and is currently being used by a young mother and daughter fleeing from a domestic abuse situation with a powerful man.
As the book begins, a body is found in a former agricultural area hidden under a concrete pad. Alan and his team are assigned the case, looking to find both the identity of the man and who might have killed him. Another case that Alan brings to the job himself, is one that he worked on before he retired. The two daughters of a murder victim call him every year to see if anything has turned up. He decides to look into the case again and see what he can find. Alan is also brought into another case from his past when a man that Alan had investigated for murder when both of his first two young wives died under suspicious circumstances. Alan could never prove it, but he believed the man was guilty. Now, though the man is accusing his third wife of trying to kill him, a twist that Alan doesn't believe for a minute.
On the home front, Alan is finding himself drawn into the situation with his vulnerable tenant as well. As Alan starts to make more of a productive relationship with one of his new colleagues, he also gets drawn into her personal life. There is lots going on here, and Alan is a very interesting man, who strongly believes in justice, even if it isn't always formal.

The Red Daughter

Finished May 7
The Red Daughter by John Burnham Schwartz

This is a fictionalized biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, the only daughter of Joseph Stalin. A lot of the story is real, but the main relationship between Svetlana and her American lawyer is not, and the lawyer here is heavily fictionalized. The author has access to a lot of documents and people that were unique as his father was the real lawyer that worked for Svetlana during much of her time in the United States.
Here, the lawyer, Peter Horvath, is made literary editor for Svetlana after her death, and as he puts together the various papers, he also takes his mind back to the past and their complicated relationship. Brought in by the CIA to travel with Svetlana from Switzerland to the U.S., Peter and her share a unique experience. As he tries to make her transition more comfortable, he brings her into his personal life by inviting her to his summer home near the ocean. And thus begins a lifelong antipathy by his wife for this woman she deems a rival.
As Svetlana makes connections, she also gets drawn into a controlling relationship by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow and the lawyer was the one asked to give her away when she married Wright's widowed son-in-law. The marriage doesn't last, but it does produce a son.
This insight into the life of an extremely troubled woman, manipulated by many in her life, was a fantastic read. I learned about the real story with empathy.

Home Safe

Finished May 3
Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg, read by the author

Helen Ames, an accomplished writer, has had writer's block since her husband died nearly a year ago, but she hasn't been able to tell anyone. She lives in the Chicago suburbs, and her daughter Tessa lives closer to the center of the city. Tessa is also a writer, currently working for a magazine. Helen's husband Dan died very suddenly, and Helen is still coming to terms with it. She has been depending on Tessa a lot for things Dan used to do, and letting other things slide. When her accountant gives her a wake-up call on her finances, she is hit by the fact that she didn't know as much as she thought about her husband. And she needs to get her mojo back regarding her writing.
Helen accepts a grant-funded position to run a writing workshop at the public library, something she's not sure she's comfortable doing. But as the librarian indicates, this is not your usual writing workshop, and Helen finds the diverse group of people attending interesting. She experiments and goes with what seems to work, and her students respond enthusiastically.
As Helen learns to do things for herself more, she also learns to let Tessa go and to move on with her own life.
This is a story of love and loss, and finding hope. A comforting read.

The Paris Diversion

Finished May 2
The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone

This book continues the story begun with The Expats. Now living in Paris, intelligence agent Kate is running her own team, but is increasingly feeling that she isn't measuring up. And her husband Dexter is acting like he has secrets again, which didn't pan out well for them last time.
Kate is trying to fit in more with the expat community here, but she's way overdue to host, and so tonight she is having a bunch of people over for dinner. After dropping the kids at school, she goes to the market and gets the ingredients for the meal, but that is when things start to go wrong.
First she hears about a bomb scare at Gare de Lyon, and then there is the suicide bomber at the Louvre. What is happening and why didn't she hear any noises about it beforehand?
Dexter has risked a bigger chunk of their money than he usually does on one deal. But this time it is personal, and he's sure he's done his homework. But as things progress he begins to wonder and worry. And when Kate finds out even part of what he's done, she worries too, and starts to put the pieces together. He's right, it is personal. Very personal.
I love Kate just as much as I did in The Expats, and was rooting for her throughout. There's a lot going on here, and you can see her professional know-how come to the fore. I loved the scene where she played the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel, nabbing Dexter and taking off with him. I loved the whole story around the Lego. And I loved her human worry and caring.
I also loved the smaller stories. The irony of the sniper's story really got me. The greed of the plotters angered me. Unputdownable.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Before You Were Born

Finished April 30
Before You Were Born by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo

This lovely book is a perfect gift for a new mother or father, and a perfect bedtime read for a little one, sending them to sleep with lovely images and the comfort of knowing how much they are loved. It tells through rhyming phrases of the parents' love for their child even before he or she arrived.
I loved this author/illustrator combination in a previous book Sun Dog, and this book was even better. The lyricism of Kerbel's words is beautiful, each phrase of anticipation leading you on to the next page. It just flows and the words are full of love. I loved the phrase "a mountain of promise, a valley of calm".
Del Rizzo's 3D illustrations using polymer clay bring everything to life, from the animals are birds, to the trees, flowers and other plants. And the details were just right: the lanterns hanging in the trees, the expressions of the faces of all the creatures, the feathers and fur and rubbery-looking noses, the surface of the moon, the bear's tongue, the raindrops on leaves,
One of my favourite is the scene of the birch forest, with a woman leaning on a tree, enjoying the world around her, with birds in the trees above, deer and foxes, and the water beyond. I wanted to step into it.
An absolutely beautiful picture book

Saturday 11 May 2019

Paula Knows What to Do

Finished April 28
Paula Knows What to Do by Sanne Dufft

This lovely picture book uses two styles of drawing, one to tell the story, and one to show the drawings that Paula makes, bringing them together in wonderful ways.
Paula is a young girl who is very resourceful. When she awakens one morning and her father isn't up to greet her and she's waited a while, she gets up and begins drawing pictures for him. But he still doesn't get up. When she goes to check on him, he tells her he is sad, and agrees when she asks if it is because her mother is gone. But Paula takes charge, getting out paints and paper and drawing an adventure that draws on one of her mother's favourite activities, sailing. As the adventure progresses, she gets her father involved, and when her story is over, some of his sadness has lifted.
I loved how the drawings tied into the bed covering, and how the sense of adventure that Paula instigated brought energy into the story. A great book to use to begin discussions of loss and grief.


Finished April 25
Craving by Helen Hardt

This is the first book in the series Steel Brothers. There are two points of view that the reader sees here. One of them is Jade Roberts, a young woman recently jilted at the altar by her long term boyfriend, now staying with her best friend Marj while she waits for her bar exam results so that she can look for a job as a lawyer. Marj lives with her brothers on a large Colorado ranch. Two of the brothers live in separate houses, but Talon still lives in the main house with Marj.
Talon Steel is the second point of view here. He is a troubled young man, with a secret in his past that feeds both anger and shame. He is attracted to Jade, as she is to him, but isn't really ready for a relationship in his current state.
Jade is drawn to Talon, and recognizes that he has some kind of past wound, but doesn't want to alert her friend to her feelings. This leads to lots of push and pull between the couple.
This book doesn't resolve the relationship, but it does move it forward, and the reader is aware of at least part of the issue that Talon is dealing with, but I'm not sure that all the information has come to the surface yet.
This is a romance with explicit sex scenes and lots of drama.

Ruin Falls

Finished April 23
Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman, read by Cassandra Campbell

This thriller follows Liz Daniels, a woman who is setting off on a family vacation as the book begins. She, her husband Paul, and their two children, Reid (8) and Ally (6) are heading to the western part of New York State to visit Paul's parents. She's never visited them before, although she's met them a couple of times. Paul doesn't have a close relationship with them. Paul is a professor at the agricultural college that he graduated from and Liz works with a friend to supply local restaurants with organic and specialized produce and make products with the crops they raise.
But as the drive west progresses and a couple of incidents make Liz nervous, when Paul suggests they stop at a hotel, so they can be fresh to arrive at his parents, Liz agrees. When she wakes up in the morning though, the children are missing. Liz is beside herself and Paul helpful, yet distracted.
As things grow more and more confusing, Liz learns that she didn't know her husband as well as she thought, and that she needs to grow more independent.
There are side stories about a young woman with a six-year old son and a controlling husband, and young pregnant woman with a controlling mother whose stories eventually converge with Liz's.
This is a story of relationships with dominant people, of how much we really know about those we think we are close to, about idealism and the dangers of the internet. A book that kept me engaged right to the end.

Last Things

Finished April 20
Last Things: a graphic memoir of loss and love by Marissa Moss

This heart-wrenching memoir tracks Marissa's family life from shortly before her husband was diagnosed with ALS to the time after his death. Marissa and her husband Harvey are on a sabbatical year in Rome when his symptoms begin. Harvey was a medieval art historian, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and a full-time university professor in California. He was working on a long term book project about Louis IX's personal prayer book. The couple celebrated their Jewish heritage and once they return home are immersed in planning for their oldest son's bar mitzvah. The day after the event, Harvey collapses and is rushed to the hospital. They stabilize him and determine that it is some sort of neurological problem. The following month his diagnosis arrives. It's another month before their first visit to the ALS clinic in San Francisco, near their home. Harvey has a particular type of ALS called Bulbar ALS that starts with the tongue and throat muscles. Breathing often weakens before the arms and legs, which explains Harvey's symptoms in the summer. It also advances more quickly than other forms of the disease.
As Marissa is open about the reactions of various family members from anger to distancing to denial, she shows the devastating effects the situation has on her entire family. One of Harvey's legacies to his children is his book, and Marissa works with the assistance of other scholars and finished the book four years after his death. She deals with each of their sons individual reaction to the loss, and on her own life as one of the still living.
The diagnosis and quick pace of Harvey's decline didn't allow for the time she would have wished for to come to terms with it. All they did at the time was react. Writing the memoir helped her to sort it out for herself so she understood it better, deal with her guilt at not doing better in the moment.
In the preface, Marissa is clear about her reasons for writing this book. She shares her story to show that what seems at times impossible pain can be lived through and make you stronger. She wants readers to feel her family's pain, bear witness to it, and gain some of that strength for themselves.
The drawings are simple, but evocative, expressing the emotions of the situations. A moving read.

Saturday 4 May 2019


Finished April 19
Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

This Australian novel was a delightful read. Justine Carmichael has been working as a copy-runner at the Alexandria Park Star, doing whatever is asked of her while she waits for a reporting position to open up. The Star has developed over the last thirty years from a street rag to a glossy current affairs magazine. Justine runs errands, gets coffee, delivers messages and generally does whatever needs to be done. Justine has an incredible memory, a love of literature, and a penchant for correct grammar. She carries a sharpie in her purse and corrects signs, menus, and other sources of grammar and spelling mistakes that she encounters in her day. Nick Jordan is an actor, so far not very successful. His latest gig has him wearing a fish costume at the local market, which is where Justine and him meet, or rather meet again after several years of not seeing each other. Their mothers had been best friends, until his family moved across the country. Justine has never really forgot Nick and the one evening they spent together at the young age their were then.
Catching up on each other's lives, Justine discovers that Nick is a big believer in horoscopes, particularly the ones that run in the magazine she works for. When an unexpected opening at work brings the transcription of the horoscopes under Justine's purview, she can't resist tweaking them to encourage Nick to think of her romantically. But of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius reading those horoscopes, and there are other people who make life choices based on what Justine has done.
I really enjoyed this read, liking Justine, and Nick and several of the other characters that come along. There is a good deal of humour, a general light-hearted flavour to the book, and of course some romance. Definitely recommended.

The Library of Lost and Found

Finished April 17
The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

The main character here is Martha Storm, a library volunteer, single woman in her early 50s living in a small English seaside town. Martha was a bit of a rebellious child, not always giving in to her father's domineering ways, as her mother too often did. She felt that her father loved her younger sister Lilian better, Martha looked after her parents until they passed on, and has been a helpful person in her community most of her life. She volunteers to do things for a wide variety of people from the local schoolteacher, to business owners to her own sister, but never feels fulfilled by her own life. Several times she has applied for a job at the library she volunteers at, but even though the library manager Clive has her planning events, doing tours, ordering material, and manning the service desk, he always seems to have an excuse not to actually hire her. Martha gets on well with the staff at the library, particularly the newest library assistant Suki. Her sister Lilian has two children, and she is often called upon to mind them when Lilian has plans. One person that Martha still grieves for is her grandmother who died suddenly when she was just a child. Martha hadn't even been allowed to go to the funeral.
When she finds a book left at the library door for her, Martha is confused. The book is not new, but damaged, but it is dedicated to her and seems to be written by her grandmother, but the publication date is after her grandmother's death. As Martha takes the first steps toward her own independence and makes decisions in her life, she finds that there are things about her own past she didn't know, and things about her future she must make choices about.
An interesting read.

If Cats Disappeared from the World

Finished April 15
If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland, read by Brian Nishii

I was drawn to read this book by the title. The narrator of this tale is a postman, living alone with the cat, Lettuce, that used to be his mother's before she passed away. Before Lettuce, his mother had a cat named Cabbage, and both cats were a big part of her life.
The young male narrator wakes up one morning with a headache, and after struggling for several days without relief, he goes to his doctor. When he does, he finds that his diagnosis gives him only a short time left to live. As he tries to decide what to do with that time, he is approached by a Faust inspired devil character, who gives him an extra day on earth for each item that he agrees to let disappear from the world. The young man isn't sure what to do. He is estranged from his father, single after the end of a long romantic relationship, and lives a very private life. As he is forced to choose whether his life means more than something chosen by the devil, he must also look at his own past and deal with some things he never properly resolved.
I found the idea interesting, but didn't really connect with the character. He talked about connecting his decisions to their effect on larger society, but I really didn't see that play out in the choices he made. Some of the things he agreed to let go from the world were important to other people he knew, and thus not what I would expect. Of course, I believe that the whole situation was something his brain created as a result of his illness, and thus only a reflection of this thoughts, and where they led him as he looked back on his life with regret.
A very different voice.

Hillbilly Elegy

Finished April 14
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I had this book on my shelf at home for a while, and finally was prodded to read it by it being my book club read. It is a personal book, about the author's own experience of an absent father, an addict mother who wasn't often there for him, two grandparents that raised him for the most part, and an older half-sister who tried to do what was right for him as much as she could.
It is a story of being raised in both the factory towns of Ohio and the hills of the Appalachians. It is about those around him who adjusted well to the urban life, and those who did not. It is about poverty, and the rise and loss of American manufacturing jobs, about how education and home life combine to keep children on the path towards a happy and fulfilling life.
I enjoyed it, but also was aware from other reading that I've done, that it only shows part of the story of America. The more stories we learn from the many different experiences, help us to understand what is right and what is wrong with the current situation, and hopefully those that set policy read and listen and learn from stories like this.

A Catalog of Birds

Finished April 7
A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington

This novel takes place in 1970 with the main characters Billy Flynn and his younger sister Nell. Billy has an amazing affinity for birds. From a young age he watched them, drew them, and knew their sounds. He always wanted to fly, and when the war in Vietnam started, he signed up. He flew helicopters in the war, but has now returned home, damaged and hurting. His hearing has been affected, and his right arm, meaning that he can no longer draw like he did.
Billy's parents are supportive, and so is Nell. Nell's best friend was Billy's girlfriend, but she has suddenly gone missing, and no one seems to know where she is, or whether she left of her own accord. Billy's best friend Harlow also did his time in the war, and came back changed. He tried college, but now works as a mechanic at a local service station.
Billy and Nell both have their own secrets, and they hold them close. Billy has nightmares about his, and their father Jack tries to talk to him about it, citing his own period of nightmares following his stint in World War II. Billy and Nell's other siblings aren't as close, but they still play roles here.
This is a story of a bond between siblings, but also a story of coming of age, of the terrible effects of war, and of loss.  A beautiful read.

My Sign-up for the 13th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Well WWell, I am extra excitied 

Well, I'm extra excited to sign-up for the forthcoming Canadian Books Challenge, because I'm also taking on the role of host this year. I hope we'll get lots of participants this year, and read lots of great Canadian books. 
I like to read serendipitously so I haven't got a list going. I'll be looking to be inspired by all you other readers participating. 
The FAQ and signup for the challenge are here. This should be a fun year.

13th Annual Canadian Book Challenge!

Hi! I'm so excited to be taking over as host for this Reading Challenge. I've participated for years, and love the idea of promoting Canadian books and authors. I've created an FAQ page for the Challenge, that also is the Sign-up page. You can sign-up anytime and the review link-up post and participant progress chart will launch on July 1st.