Wednesday 28 July 2021

The Barren Grounds

Finished July 25
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

This is an amazing beginning to a series of books for kids. The two main characters are indigenous, and the main theme is around the environment and respect.
As you can see from the top of the cover, the series is called The Misewa Saga, and Misewa is the name of the village that the children travel to in the book.
Morgan has been in foster care as far back as she can remember. The couple she is with now are trying hard to make her feel welcome and at home, but she has a problem trusting them due to her past experiences. Eli has only been in care more recently and he has a lot of memories of his family and ties to the indigenous community. He has arrived at the same home as Morgan more recently.
Eli likes to draw and one drawing he made intrigues both children. 
Morgan has ventured into the attic of the house they live in, an area that is unfinished, but has some construction work partially done. A small closet-like space there has the door painted over, not opened in a long time and she retreats into that space when she needs to be alone. When she and Eli attach the picture he drew to the wall there it seems to come alive and connect their world to the wintry one they can see there. And the animal they see moves toward them. 
As the children react, Morgan is fearful, but Eli is curious and wants to explore this new world. When Morgan follows him, they discover a world where an outsider has upset the balance of nature and caused immense damage to the environment and the creatures who live there. Their initial contact is the creature they saw, Ochek (Fisher). With Eli familiar with the indigenous language, and some of the behaviours and activities, Morgan finds herself connecting to her own past in an unexpected way.  As they encounter another creature Arik (Squirrel), the discover that they may be able to help this world recover what has been lost.
I found this book reminded me a bit of the world of Narnia, with a doorway into a wintry world where creatures talk and walk like humans. But it has a distinctly indigenous element, with the language and the ties to the living world. 
This promises to be a very interesting series.

Saturday 24 July 2021

The Poetry of Strangers

Finished July 23
The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America with a Typewriter by Brian Sonia-Wallace

This memoir is composed of several essays on different experiences the author had while interacting with the public in different environments as a public poet. He started his journey in this line in 2012 shortly after returning home to California after studying abroad. He had a borrowed typewriter that wasn't in the greatest shape and he sat outside an event and offered poetry to those waiting in line. He asked them to pay what they thought the poem was worth, and he found many of the people did indeed think that it was worth something. Following that he decided to see if he could make a living doing this work, and he did. He found himself not only doing public sidewalk poetry, but also corporate events, weddings, entertainment venues, and "in residence" appearances. He helped one aspiring immigrant to get his poems published. He interacted with people running for office, recovering from devastating fires, living lives outside the norm as itinerant buskers, craftsmen, seers, and poets. 
He worked writing poetry on Amtrak trains, at the Mall of America, and at the Electric Forest music festival. He taught others, both adults and children. He made friends and made connections, some of them very deep. He looked into himself and found skills he didn't realize that he had.
Through many of his situations, he includes examples of poems that he wrote at those events. For his experience with the immigrant, Jeremias Leonel Estrada, he includes some of Estrada's poems as well. All of these I enjoyed. 
His experiences took him all over the country, and opened his eyes to experiences he might never have come into contact with otherwise. This is a fascinating account of his experiences that enlightens the reader and gives hope. 

Friday 23 July 2021

The Christmas Boutique

Finished July 20
The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini

I've read other books by this author, but none in this series before, so I found it helpful that there was a little introduction to each of the featured characters that gave me some background, but not so much that a regular reader of the series would find it repetitive. 
The novel moves through several narrators with each in their own well-labeled section and only overlap when it was needed for perspective. For each of these sections, there is background that relates to what is happening in the present, giving us insights into character, circumstances, and motivations. 
The time period covered here is quite short, only a few days, but a lot happens. As the book opens it is a beautiful winter day, but a heavy storm is predicted, so people are either delaying going out to do things until the storm is over and things are cleared up, or they are  trying to get everything they need done as quickly as they can. Elm Creek Quilts is in their slow season and one of the staff has been pulled away by other needs, causing some friction. In the town, things are gearing up for the annual Christmas Boutique, run by one of the local churches and benefiting a local charity. When the storm moves through, it damages the regular venue for this event and Elm Creek is approached as an alternate, giving a lot of preparation to do in a short time frame and we see the role that each of the characters plays. 
I enjoyed this brief taste of life in this small town and a glimpse of the characters, giving me a sense of which ones interest me more and which ones less. I'd say it is a good taster for the series.
For those who quilt, there is a lot of description of various quilting patterns as well. 

The Dress in the Window

Finished July 18
The Dress in the Window by Sofia Grant

The main part of this story takes place in 1948 and 1949. Jeanne Brink is the older of two sisters, and had been the girlfriend of an attractive and well-off medical student before the war. But after Charles was killed, she finds herself moving in with her younger sister Peggy and Peggy's mother-in-law, Thelma. Peggy's husband Thomas was also killed in the war, his body still in Guadalcanal. Peggy was pregnant when he died and moved in with Thelma. Her daughter, Tommie, is a tomboy and mothered by all three of the women. 
Jeanne soon finds herself a job in the steno pool in an office in Philadelphia, across the river, and her salary augments the widow's allowance that Peggy receives. But both girls have dreams beyond their circumstances. Jeanne has been interested in sewing ever since her mother acquired a Featherweight machine and has gradually learned to become a master at the craft. Jeanne has always dreamed of designing her own clothing, and has studied fashion and art drawing and refined her skills to be able to both design from scratch and to take inspiration from the New Look fashion coming out of Europe. They've been trying to do this work on the side, but it hasn't been paying out despite their hard work. 
The girls grew up in better circumstances, with their father owning a textile mill, but his early death followed more recently by their mothers, has left them with nothing. 
As they try to hold on to their dreams, and take any opportunity that might bring them closer to the life they dream of, secrets they've kept from each other, and secrets that have been kept from both of them, threaten to tear the small family they've made apart.
This is a tale of loss and love, of hope and despair, of the beginning of original American fashion for the masses, and of family.
I really enjoyed learning more about fashion and fabric, and I loved the characters here, each having their own dream. 

Monday 19 July 2021

All The Devils Are Here

Finished July 17
All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

The Gamaches are visiting Paris in anticipation of the birth of Annie and Jean Guy's second child. Armand's godfather Stephen Horowitz has also come to the city. As all the adult members of the family get together for a meal at one of their favourite restaurants, Juveniles, Stephen arrives late, which is unusual for him. After an enjoyable meal, as they are going their separate ways, Armand and Reine-Marie witness Stephen being deliberately run down. 
After getting him to the hospital, Armand starts digging into what Stephen has been doing, looking for clues as to why someone targeted him now. Stephen is mostly retired these days, but he has definitely made enemies in the past, so is one of them finally taking drastic action or is this something related to the present? 
We see here into Armand's relationship with his son Daniel, a side of his personal life that we haven't really seen much of before and this is an interesting development. We also see the dynamics between Annie and Daniel and a bit of Daniel's wife. I always enjoy seeing more of this personal side. 
But of course the main story is the one behind the attack on Stephen, and when a visit to his apartment results in the discovery of another body and an obvious search, things get even more serious.
Armand calls on an old friend, high up in the police force in Paris, but after an anomaly or two begins to wonder who he can really trust and how well he knows people, even those of long acquaintance. It was interesting to have Reine-Marie take a role in the investigation as well, using her research skills and library contacts. 
The city of Paris itself plays a role here, with major sites from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre appearing. It was interesting to see the characters in this new setting. 
Every book in this series brings a fascinating story, with a unique plot and crime and new developments for the main characters. I always enjoy them. 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

The Last Flight

Finished July 14 
The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Claire Cook, wife of an influential man planning a senatorial run, has been living with domestic abuse for years. She's tried to leave, and failed. She has a plan now to disappear, with the help of an old friend, but when her plans go awry and she finds herself at the airport headed to Puerto Rico, and another woman strikes up a conversation that offers a different opportunity, she finds herself agreeing to switch identities and flights with Eva and takes her flight to Oakland.
Eva James is also running from her life, and she isn't honest with Claire about what she's running from. She isn't proud of what she's done the last few years, but she hasn't seen another option, and now she fears that her time is running out. Getting a fake ID is proving difficult, and so when this opportunity arises to switch with someone, she jumps at it. 
When Claire lands in Oakland, she finds that the flight she was supposed to be on has crashed, with no survivors. She is stunned and she can't reach the friend who has helped her before. She decides to go to Eva's house and take some time to figure out her next move and there she finds some clues to Eva's real life. 
This is a story of domestic abuse, about the difficulty of getting away from such a situation when you lack the power in the relationship, and about other abuses of power and privilege. 
This was a book that grabbed me and kept me reading to see what happened to both women. It is a book about how things are beginning to change, and people are starting to believe those who speak out against those who would manipulate and use them. A book that makes you think about the bigger issues.

The Sentinel

Finished July 11
The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child

This episode of the Jack Reacher novels takes us briefly to Nashville, and then to a small town a ways north of the city. When Reacher arrives in Nashville, he looks for a few things, including music, and finds himself in a bar with little ambience, but with musicians who sound good to him. Unfortunately, they are just finishing up, and when he leaves he encounters them outside and finds himself in a position to assist them. 
A few days later, he is on the road and gets picked up by someone who needs help finding his way. Reacher decides to go on with him to the destination, and finds himself in this town that has recently been a target of ransomware. The IT manager, Rutherford, has been fired despite him being the one warning his bosses and trying to guard against this situation. The two men meet when Reacher prevents something happening to Rutherford, and they both get arrested. When they join forces to try to figure out why Rutherford is targeted, and start digging deeper, they find themself making a few new aquaintances.
As often happens, there is more than one group of bad guys, and somethings they cross over between groups. 
This is an interesting look a topic that is definitely a current event at publication time and still a topic of much discussion. As always, Reacher is thoughtful, empathetic to those in a bad situation, and aware of the bigger picture. 
A good read.

The Dilemma

Finished July 10
The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

This novel is around a mid-life couple, on the verge of a 40th birthday party for the wife Livia. Livia has been planning this party almost since her wedding day, when her parents not only reneged on their promise to give her a big wedding, but didn't even attend. She and husband Adam have had some rocky times, but have lasted and their marriage is stronger than ever. Adam didn't become a civil engineer as he planned, but he has an career he loves as an accomplished furniture maker. Livia eventually accomplished her career goals too. But their biggest pride is in their two children, Josh, whose existence forced the marriage, and Marnie. 
Marnie is studying in Hong Kong for the year, and her exams are scheduled later than originally thought, so Livia is at first disappointed that Marnie won't be able to attend, but then discovers something about her daughter that makes her less eager to see her back home. She is putting off telling Adam about it as she knows it will devastate him and the two are close. 
Adam has been contacted by Marnie who has arranged a short trip home between exams to attend the party as a surprise for Livia, getting a deal because of the indirect route she is taking. But then he hears terrible news that may affect her trip and is torn between letting Livia enjoy this party she has dreamed of for so long and telling her what he knows.
This is different than her previous books, in that these family secrets aren't the psychological suspense she done before, but more subtle than that.
Added to this is the rift between Livia and her parents that her early marriage started. She has reached out a few times over the years, but has not been able to reconnect with them. 
There are more issues, some that include the children, and some that came and went over the years. An interesting book that raises questions about the secrets we keep to protect others. 
But when there is 

Sunday 11 July 2021

Comfort and Joy

Finished July 9
Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah

High-school librarian Joy Candellaro is still grieving the loss of her marriage after finding her husband and sister together eleven months ago. She isn't sure how she's going to spend the two weeks she has off over Christmas, and is trying to create at least the look of the holiday at home. But when her sister meets with her with more news, she finds herself needing to get away, and flees for the airport.
There, she takes a flight that ends in disaster, and finds herself trying to escape even further, walking away and finding herself at a small lodge by a lake where she checks in to the otherwise unoccupied resort and befriends Bobby the young boy who lives there with his father Daniel, and is also recovering from a loss in his life. 
As she and Bobby bond over creating a Christmas at the lodge and helping Bobby with his grief and other issues, she finds herself looking for a new future and considering life beyond her divorce.
This is a tale of loss and hope, of looking at things through new eyes, and finding a future despite dealing with grief. 
Joy is a positive woman, who has a good work environment and coworkers who care about her. She also cares about others and this shows in her interactions with Bobby. 

Saturday 10 July 2021

Little Big Love

Finished July 7
Little Big Love by Katy Regan

This novel is told in three voices: Zac Hutchinson, who is ten years old; his mother Juliet; and his grandfather Mick. A few months before Zac is turning eleven, he witnesses his mom at the end of a disappointing date, the first date she's had in a long time. That night, she makes a surprising confession to him, one that she doesn't remember making the next day, but that impels him on a mission that he was already thinking of. That mission is to locate his father, Liam Jones. Liam was supposedly the love of Juliet's life, but has not tried to stay in touch with her or be part of Zac's life. 
Zac's grandmother talks about what a bad person he was, really demonizing him, and his grandfather seems to agree. Zac spends a couple of days a week at his grandparents after school, bonding with his grandmother through baking and with his grandfather with nature documentaries. 
When Zac was just a few weeks old, his uncle Jamie died in an accident, but the whole truth of that night has yet to emerge for everyone. Zac himself has been told one story, and he has been focused on his similarities to his uncle, such as their common interest in cooking creatively. 
Zac's best friend Teagan is his co-conspirator in his mission and she has her own issues, living in a damp apartment, struggling with asthma, and missing her own dad who has remarried and seems to want little to do with her anymore. 
Zac is also struggling with being bullied due to his weight. And soon after Juliet's disastrous date, Juliet has her eyes opened to this struggle.
The two kids are great characters, smart and creative, and they really do their best to follow up every clue in their search for Liam. Juliet is a good mom, who is struggling herself with the loss of Liam, the responsibility of raising a child on her own, and her own self esteem issues. But she takes Zac's situation seriously and works to make healthier decisions going forward. 
Mick is a recovering alcoholic, who started his journey to sobriety a few months before Zac was born, and has always felt inferior to his wife. He struggles with the choices he has made, and it is only toward the end of the book that we see how his self esteem and feelings of precariousness in his relationships made the situation what it is now. 
This is a book that is both uplifting and heartbreaking, but ultimately a human story. 

Wednesday 7 July 2021

The Speed of Falling Objects

Finished July 6
The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer

This teen novel was a real pageturner. Danny Warren is almost seventeen and living with her mom in Oregon. When she was seven, she lost an eye in an accident, and shortly after her parents split up. Her mom is a nurse and Danny has taken on a lot of the knowledge of that job, reading the journals her mom brings home and having conversations about the cases described. She good at, and interested in, science. 
Her dad, Cougar, has a television show where he travels around the world, doing dangerous things, and using knowledge and ingenuity to get out of dangerous situations, usually with a celebrity in tow. Danny has only seen him a few times since he left and she feels that due to the compensations that she's had to learn to deal with her new physical reality, he doesn't feel she measures up to the standards he's set anymore. He tends to call her by her full name Danielle, instead of her preferred nickname.
Danny's best friend is adopted and is part of a large family, but still longs to know about her birth parents. The two are close, have each other's backs, and both feel outside the normal social groups at school. 
When Cougar suddenly invites Danny to come on one of his shows with a hot teen idol as the guest, she both longs to go to get closer to her dad, and is afraid that once again she won't measure up. She also has to deal with her mother's reluctance to let her go/
On the trip, into the Peruvian rainforest, the small plane the group is in crashes, and Danny discovers many things about her dad and the others on the trip, and about her own resources to deal with the dangerous situation.
I liked Danny, and her reactions to the situations and attitudes that she dealt with. This experience had her coming out of her shell as she had to do things and be part of a team in a way that she wasn't used to. 


Finished July 4
Followers by Raziel Reid

This is definitely a type of book I don't normally read. This teen novel is set around a group of teenagers who are on a reality television show in Beverly Hills. Most of them have either money or the illusion of money, and most of their parents are also part of the show. The novel moves from character to character and the chapters are structured to begin with Instagram posts on the character that is the focus of that chapter. They are titled with the Instagram profile name and give the number of followers, and then a few comments that appeared on that profile. 
It begins with one of the young stars Hailey Paley reached the point of a million followers, which she decides to have a party to celebrate this achievement. 
Then we have her cousin Lily enter the story. Lily lives with her mom in a trailer in the Valley and she's just had a bad date, one where she ended up in jail charged with a crime. Hailey's mom has decided this event and her being taken in by the Paley family for a time will help ratings. So Lily is bombarded by paparazzi, met by a team from the show, taken to the Paley house in Beverly Hills and installed in the pool house. Cameras are rolling almost all the time, and Lily must figure out what is real and what is staged, and how she feels about it all. It takes a little ways into the book for Lily to get an Instagram account of her own, and some time for her to find her feet. But she's used to relying on no one but herself, and has a summer job as a lifeguard on one of the beaches, and she has a good head on her shoulders.
Getting immersed into a world of status, money, alcohol, and drugs is a big change, and decoding the terminology of this generation and their social media took me a while. This is a very dysfunctional environment and that becomes obvious through some of the behaviour that we see. A window into another world.

My Wrap-Up for the 14th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

My goal this year was 30 books and I made it to 46, so am very happy with that.

I'll also participate and run the book club I'm doing this year. 
I meant to put up the post sooner, but it was only when I went to post my first book that I realized that I had not. 

1. When We Were Birds by Maria Mutch. Finished July 5
2. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. Finished July 10
3. The True Story of Ida Johnson by Sharon Riis. Finished July 28
4. Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon. Finished August 1
5. The Girl who Rode a Shark by Ailsa Ross and Amy Blackwell. Finished August 23
6. The Swinging Bridge by Ramabai Espinet. Finished August 23
7. 1967: A Coming of Age Story by Richard Doornink. Finished August 25
8. The Afterlife of George Cartwright by John Steffler. Finished August 30
9. Roanoke Ridge by J.J. Dupuis. Finished August 31
10. Benjamin's Blue Feet by Sue Macartney. Finished September 3
11. Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong. Finished September 27
12. Once Removed by Andrew Unger. Finished September 29
13. Shape Up, Construction Trucks! by Victoria Allenby. Finished September 30
14. Starlight by Richard Wagamese. Finished October 1
15. The Wars by Timothy Findley. Finished October 8
16. Blue Sky Kingdom by Bruce Kirkby. Finished October 16
17. Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny. Finished October 27
18. Duck Days by Sara Leach. Finished October 31
19. Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler, illustrated by Jennifer Faria. Finished November 4
20. Teaching Mrs. Muddle by Colleen Nelson, illustrated by Alice Carter. Finished November 5
21. The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan. Finished November 17
22. Snow Days by Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato. Finished November 28
23. The Ever Open Door by Julie Band. Finished November 29
24. The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. Finished November 30
25. A World of Mindfulness by editors and illustrators of Pajama Press. Finished December 2
26. Journey to the Hopewell Star by Hannah D. State. Finished December 4
27. Bomb Girls by Barbara Dickson. Finished December 8
28. The Rogue Wave by Paul Nicholas Mason. Finished December 12
29. Victory Colony, 1950 by Bhaswati Ghosh. Finished January 3
30. The Blondes by Emily Schultz. Finished January 4
31. Her Aussie Holiday by Stefanie London. Finished January 13
32. The Push by Ashley Audrain. Finished January 22
33. Uncharted by Kim Brown Seely. Finished February 10
34. Midnight Cab by James W. Nichol. Finished February 18
35. The Deadly Hours by Susanna Kearsley, C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber and Christine Trent. Finished February 21
36. Swallow's Dance by Wendy Orr. Finished February 24
37. Season of Fury and Wonder by Sharon Butala. Finished March 28
38. Just Their Luck by L.A. Donahoe. Finished March 29
39. Proof I Was Here by Becky Blake. Finished April 2
40. Juliet's Answer by Glenn Dixon. Finished April 8
41. The Healing by Lynda Faye Schmidt. Finished April 27
42. Two White Queens and The One-Eyed Jack by Heidi Von Palleske. Finished May 12
43. How a Woman Becomes a Lake by Marjorie Celona. Finished May 20
44. The Dutch Wife by Eric McCormack. Finished June 13
45. Aubrey McKee by Alex Pugsley. Finished June 23
46. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Finished June 29

The Full Scoop

Finished July 2
The Full Scoop by Jill Orr

This book is the fourth book of a series set in the small town of Tuttle Corner, Virginia and featuring Riley Ellison, small town journalist. Riley is single, recently split amicably from her boyfriend Jay when he took a job in D.C.
Her coworker and friend Hal Flick died a month ago when his car was forced off the road. The case is still unsolved. Hal was working on the case of Riley's grandfather's death a few years ago, which Riley also suspected was a murder, but that was set up to look like suicide. Riley has taken some time off work and then some part-time weeks to deal with Hal's estate and her own grief, but she is now headed back to work at the Tuttle Times full time. Another coworker, Holman is also a good friend and the two often hang out together and he helps her as she continues to look into Hal's and her grandfather's deaths.
Other friends include her high school boyfriend Ryan and his Swedish girlfriend Ridley, who have recently opened Mysa, a cafe in a former Tavern. She is also spending time with Lindsey Davis the new county prosecutor. Riley has also started to date Ash, a recent addition to the town who runs the local funeral home. Riley gets out and about in town often walking her dog Coltrane. 
Riley's mom Jeannie has set her up with a subscription to an astrology site that sends her daily updates. Jeannie is also the local Uber driver.
With the former sheriff, now in jail, saying he knows more about the two deaths and indicating he's willing to make a deal with the information, a file of documents Hal left for her, and her own ability to sniff out a story, Riley has a lot of leads to follow. 
Part of the plot in this novel figures around a New Year's Eve party at Ash's cousin Toad's house with a Gatsby theme. 
I liked Riley, and her strong sense of self. She's still unsettled in terms of her love life, but she has a job she enjoys, a circle of good friends, and a home she loves. She stands up for herself and those she cares about. This was a good read. 

Friday 2 July 2021

Because Internet

Finished July 1
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

This book was fascinating. I've always been interested in language, poring over my mother's old linguistics textbooks when I was a kid, but this book brings a lot of linguistic theory into the now with its focus on how the internet changed the way we use language and the way that we communicate.
It sometimes looks back further at how other technology changed communication as well and looks at how societal change feeds the way language changes. For instance it looks at the telephone and how greetings were suggested and adapted for that new broadly adapted form of communication and compares that to the way that different pieces of the internet changed language and communication.
It looks at both formal and informal types of communication and generational differences between broad groups as the internet grew and changed and became part of everyday life. 
There was so much here in terms of ideas that made me think and bits of communication history I hadn't been fully aware of before. 
My favourite part was in the section on memes where the author talked about an embroidered piece that she made based on a common meme, that she then adapted to be more personal to herself.  She comments
Both memes and needlework are collective folk texts that spread because people remix and remake them. The words "text" and "textile" have a common origin, from a Proto-Indo-European root teks, "to weave." Writing and weaving are both acts of creation by bringing together. A storyteller is a spinner of yarns, and the internet's founding metaphor is of a web. If we go far enough back, before printing presses and cameras and photocopiers introduced the notion of faithful reproduction, all transmission is re-creation. Teks is also the root of the word "technology," which at one point meant a systematic treatise on an art or craft, or even a grammar, before it referred to a study of mechanical or industrial arts (a 1902 dictionary gives the examples of "spinning, metal-working, or brewing") and then to digital tech.
Since I am a needleworker, this really hit home for me. Since I also work with a lot of internet pieces, and have helped others navigate the internet as part of my job, this all connected for me. 
A fascinating look at language, social change, and human adaptation. 

Thursday 1 July 2021

Elevator Pitch

Finished June 29
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

This novel makes you look at elevators in a completely different way. In New York City, an elevator falls and all occupants are killed. It was a nice touch to have one of them doing an actual elevator pitch at the time. When a second elevator accident kills too, questions start arising about what is happening, and what caused the falls. 
Barbara Matheson is a reporter for a New York City paper. She covers mostly politics and business, and lately she's been writing a lot about the mayor, Richard Wilson Headley. .She calls out behaviour that  she considers sketchy, even if it is "how things get done." In this case it is the awarding of a construction contract to a firm owned by a big political donor. As she enters the story, she is at city hall with a crowd of reporters, hoping to ask questions. And she definitely gets a reaction. Along with the mayor are a few of his staff, including his twenty-five-year-old son, Glover. Glover and Richard have a not-always-smooth relationship, but Glover is bright in a techie way and helpful in certain areas. 
Barbara also has a difficult relationship with her child, daughter Arla. Barbara got pregnant when she was young and when the father wanted nothing to do with it, she considered her options. Her parents offered to take on the raising of Arla, and there was no secret that Arla was her daughter, but more recently, after her parents died, there have been tense discussions between the two women. 
Meanwhile, police have found a body, badly beaten and with an attempt to disguise the identity of the victim. As they research his identity and look for why this man was killed, one of them, Jerry Bourque is also dealing with PTSD and guilt from a recent case. 
There is also a group of people in the middle states of the U.S., who have organized their resentment at those on the coast and have acted out their frustrations in violent ways. A couple of them, including the head of the organization are in New York City, and questions arise about the ties to some of the accidents happening there. 
Conversations between a boy and his mother in a different font are interspersed through the story and only make sense as things are revealed near the end. 
I liked how all these storylines wove in and out of each other in a natural way, and not all the clues lead somewhere. 
As I said at the beginning, I also like how Barclay makes you think about ordinary, everyday things in a different way. This is something he does in many of his books, both the standalones like this one and The Accident, and many of the Promise Falls series. His characters are ordinary people who did things that you and I do, and then some of them get caught up in situations beyond what they could ever have expected. Even though this is a long book, it's a quick and satisfying read. 

Bargello Needlepoint books not worth purchasing

Finished June 26
Bargello Needlepoint: A Pattern Directory for Dramatic Creations by Justine Pfefferie
Bargello Needlepoint Guide for Beginners: Basic Bargello Needlepoint Instructions by Rebecca Weber
Bargello Needlepoint: Detail Instructions to Bargello for Beginners by Sarah Jarrad
Bargello Needlepoint for Mom: Learn to Basic Bargello Needlepoint - Guide for Beginners by Montavious Bulger

I'm reviewing these four books in one review as despite having different covers, titles, and authors, they are essentially the same book, and none of them is really worth the purchase. I was looking for more books on bargello or florentine stitch and these were under $10, and looking like they might have something unique. 
They are all poorly written with many spelling and grammar mistakes and some have pages repeated within them, or sections repeated under different headings. Cryptic notations seem to indicate they have taken content from webpages. Some include small black and white pictures of patterns and finished stitching, but not all are bargello stitches. 
The one with the orange design on the cover, the one with the heart design on the cover, and the one "for mom" are word for word, page by page exact copies of each other. 
The Pattern Directory one includes a little more history and some patterns, but nothing that you can't find in any real bargello or florentine book. If you are going to buy one of these, I'd recommend that one for the extra content. 

July Reviews for 15th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

 Here is where you add your reviews for books read in July 2021 for this challenge which just launched. 

Remember to link to the review itself! You can also add comments below.