Monday 31 July 2023


Finished July 30
Bookworm by Robin Yeatman

I picked up this book at my local library based on the title and the fact that it is this year's book choice for Markham Reads. Because I hadn't read anything about the book before starting it, I found myself getting drawn into the story of a submissive wife, who has an inner life that is very unexpected. Victoria is a massage therapist who works at a local spa in Montreal and spends most of her free time reading. She doesn't socialize much, just with one friend from high school, Holly. Victoria also likes watching people. She believes that she can "read" them as well, sensing information about their lives that is surprisingly detailed. 
As the book begins, Victoria is seated at her local cafe, reading, when she notices an attractive man reading the same book. She is immediately captivated by him, but he doesn't seem to notice her and leaves soon after. Victoria is unfamiliar with the feelings that he aroused in her and is a bit unsettled, finding her thoughts wandering to him despite what else she does. 
We soon find that Victoria is married to Eric, a lawyer hoping to be offered a partnership. She is Eric's second wife, his first having left him for someone else of a lower class, and we see that he is a controlling figure. Their condo is decorated to his tastes, the food she makes is for his limited palate, and the clothes she wears are mostly his choices. 
As we learn the background of how they came to be married, despite the lack of real interest in each other, we also see how Victoria's inner life is her escape. She often gets ideas from the books she reads, and she often fantasizes about her husband's death. 
She also commonly experiences an out-of-body sensation at night just before she sleeps, where she looks down on herself and her bedroom from above. But this experience soon grows to allow her to float beyond her home and observe others that she senses strongly, in particular the man from the cafe. 
Victoria's thoughts are hers alone, not shared with her ambitious lawyer parents, her critical mother-in-law, or her friend Holly. And they are often dark and plotting. 
But when those thoughts begin to have real shape in her daily world, she finds she might actually get what she wants. 
This book is disturbing and my opinion of Victoria changed radically as the book unfolded. This is a unique and startling tale of desire. 

Sunday 30 July 2023

Dexter's Final Cut

Dexter's Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

This is the seventh book in the Dexter series, but the first that I've read. I haven't watched the television series inspired by the series either. So, that being said, I quickly became aware that Dexter Morgan is a very odd character. He describes himself as a monster pretending to be human, and considers his wife and three children (two of them stepchildren) to be helpful cover for him. He refers to himself as having a Passenger, a dark force that is capable of extreme violence and behaviour outside of societal conventions. Dexter also has a dark secret. He has made a habit of finding evil people and secretly, slowly, killing them, and ensuring that the bodies won't be found. He also works for the police department in forensics, specializing in blood spatter. 
Here, he is assigned a very different task, to have an actor shadow him as he works. The actor will be playing a forensic specialist in a television movie. His sister, Deborah, is a police officer and she is also assigned an actor, a woman who will be playing a police officer. 
When a body is found all four of them end up at the scene, and Dexter is able to make some astute observations as a result of the body and it's condition. As he gets drawn into the case, he and Deborah make connections to the female actor and Dexter finds himself losing his focus on his dark side, getting drawn in to the perks of high living that he is exposed to. 
When more bodies appear, the Morgans attempt to move forward with the case, but it is assigned to a different officer, one known for his ineptitude. And so they start a parallel investigation.
As Dexter's family gets drawn into the story, from his children to his wife, Dexter finds that his life begins to unravel, and his secrets may not be able to be secret anymore.
The character of Dexter is a very unusual one. He thinks himself superior to most other people, and incapable of emotions. But in his experience here, he finds himself being led by feelings that he hasn't had before and betraying those he is closest to. 
A very unusual read. 


Finished July 27
Poison by Kathryn Harrison

This historical novel of the late 1600s follows two women, born on the same day, one a real figure and one not. Francesca de Luarca is the daughter of a Spanish silk grower. Her father's family has been in the business for years, and owns their own fields. Her grandfather held to tradition and what has worked in the past, but her father Felix has other ideas. He has heard about new mulberry trees that offer better yields, and wants to try them, but is thwarted by Francesca's grandfather. After the grandfather's death, Felix makes the changes he has dreamed of, but the results are not as he hoped. And so Francesca's mother, Conception takes on work as a wet nurse, eventually in the king's household.
Maria Luisa, first wife of King Carlos (Charles II) was born a French princess, niece to the Sun King, Marie Louise D'Orleans. She married the King on the way to the capital, shortly after crossing into Spain, in Quintanapalla. It is here that the two women first cross paths, as Francesca is in the crowd of people observing the couple as they emerge from the church. 
This is also the time of the Inquisition where there is much suspicion arising from any unusual events or behaviour outside of the norm. So when Francesca becomes involved with a priest, and is eventually discovered, she finds herself marked as a witch. 
Marie Louise's inability to conceive also arouses suspicion and when she is discovered in deception, things deteriorate for her as well. 
This is a story of women and their strong ties to their mothers, how love and fate determine their lives, and how society's reaction to their actions bring about their downfall. 
The stories of the two women only touch slightly, but Francesca's story winds around that of the Queen, and the narrative moves fluidly between them and across their lives to show the commonalities. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

The Steep and Thorny Way

Finished July 20
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Set in small town Oregon in the summer of 1923, this teen novel follows biracial Hanalee Denney as she tries to make sense of the stories she hears about her father's death over a year earlier. 
Hanalee's parents met by chance in Portland, and went to Washington state to get married as Oregon did not allow a black man and a white woman to marry. They returned to the small town her mother, Greta was from, and farmed there. 
Now the young man, Joe Adder, who was convicted of killing her father Hank, but hitting him with his car is out of jail. Joe is back in town, but not accepted back into his father's house, and is sheltering in sheds and abandoned buildings. He's back to talk to her, because he promised her father he would keep an eye on her. 
Since her father's death, Greta has married long-time family friend Clyde Koning, a local doctor, and he now lives in Greta's family's home. When Joe insists that he didn't kill her father, and there was someone else who saw him alone before he died, Hanalee starts asking questions. 
When a local girl insists that she's seen Hank's ghost and that he is trying to talk to Hanalee, Hanalee has to decide whether to accept help to try to see this ghost herself and find out what her father so desperately has to say. 
This novel taught me a lot about this time period in Oregon. The Ku Klux Klan was very active in the state, and was particularly trying to gain influence over the younger generation. This was also a time of bootlegging, with it being Prohibition, and many local men ran stills and hired others to deliver their products. It was also a time of other prejudices besides racial ones, and that is part of this story as well. 
There is a lot going on, but Hanalee must face up to what is happening in her town, and how it affects her and those she cares about personally. This is a coming of age story in a difficult time under difficult circumstances, and the characters feel very real. I also found it interesting that portions of the plot were inspired by Hamlet.
A great read. 

Friday 21 July 2023

Homeroom Diaries

Finished July 18
Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou

This graphic novel follows high school student Margaret "Cuckoo" Clarke over the course of a few months. Cuckoo's mom has disappeared for a few days from time to time, but recently she's been gone for much longer, and Cuckoo now lives as a foster child with her neighbour Mrs. Morris. She's also spent a short period of time in a mental institution being observed after having some strong feelings around her mother's unexplained disappearance.
Her group of friends at school are all outsiders of some type, not fitting into one of the more defined groups such as: jocks, nerds, barbies, goths, haters, or zomboids. They refer to themselves as the Freakshow, and created nicknames for themselves that are worse that whatever the bullies come up with. Thus she is Cuckoo; her international baccalaureate best friend is Brainzilla; Asian friend Hanna is Eggy, short for Eggroll; Paul with acne issues is Zitsy; religious and sporty Paul is Tebow; and weightroom user overweight Beverly is Flatso. 
The group decides to work on a Happiness Project to bring nicer vibes to the school, but run into barriers along the way. 
They also have to deal with an out-of-touch principal; a underage genius teacher; a nosy school psychologist, and attitudes from their fellow students.
As the school year progresses, they undergo more challenges, from online bullying to personal loss, and work together to support each other. They also find support in unexpected places.
The drawing really bring this story to life, giving more insight into the characters. I really liked the narrator and her way of looking at things and being honest about her feelings. I also liked how the friend group really cared about each other. 
I really enjoyed this read. 

Double Negative

Finished July 17
Double Negative by Susan Marshall

This teen novel has a lot going on, with some romance and betrayal, friendship issues, school extracurricular activities, and athletic commitments. 
The main character, Reece, has an injury that pauses her competitive swimming activity. She's been swimming at this level for years, and has hopes of a swimming scholarship to help with her university goals. She, along with other swim team members, and high level athletes, go to a school that prioritizes these activities and structures academics around training and competition commitments. Because she's injured, she gets moved to the public high school, where her older brother Jaime also attends. 
Jaime is working on his extracurriculars in hopes of getting a university scholarship as well, and is running for president of the student council. When his vice-presidential running partner is disqualified, he convinces Reece to take their spot. 
Reece is slowly adjusting to life at the high school, which involves more activities that she is used to, and begins to find she enjoys some of them, while still missing her previous environment. But her former friends seem to have quickly moved on without her, and although she does the physiotherapy and other work to bring her body back to prime condition, she feels set apart from them. 
As Reece faces new challenges, from mentoring a younger swimmer, to writing a constitution for the student council, she also finds herself attracted to Zain, one of her brother's strongest critics, and an athlete himself. 
Zain has had his own setbacks, and has some baggage from that that causes complications in how they relate to each other.
This book really immerses you in Reece's situation, so you can feel her frustrations (with her brother, her body, her father, Zain, and others) as well as her determination (to get well, to create a good constitution, to get justice for those she feels deserve it). Good characterization and real teenage decisions bring this book to life. 

Tuesday 18 July 2023

It Started with a Dog

Finished July 14
It Started with a Dog by Julia London

This is another Austin, Texas set romance with a meet-cute that is chaotic and brief. Harper Thompson is rushing to catch the Megabus to Dallas, the last one that will get her there for Christmas. The Lyft driver is friendly and chatty, but the weather and traffic are both awful, and everyone is relieved when he agrees to turn off the radio. The SUV is full with someone in front and Harper squeezed beside two others in the middle, and all the luggage in the back. 
When the vehicle stops suddenly due to traffic everyone loses their grip on their phones and then wildly searches the floor. Harper doesn't notice that the phone she picks up, although the right colour isn't hers. She is the first to exit and runs for the bus, collapsing into the last seat available. Harper is taking a break from her job with a wacky boss who talks in riddles and yet somehow has created a thriving food truck and coffeehouse business. In the new year, Harper will be opening their newest location, and hopefully setting herself up for a promotion.
Jonah is headed to the airport, to Chicago to help a cousin move and get away from the family business which he has been trying to resurrect. The coffee shop was started by his grandparents, and now run by his parents and aunt and uncle, but when his father became ill, he took leave from his aerospace engineering job to run the business side. But the restaurant hasn't been updated in years, and is losing money. He's tried a few things, but nothing has worked yet. 
Jonah discovers the phone mix-up when he's at the airport, and with the slightly unbelievable fact that neither of the them locks their phone, is able to contact Harper. 
As they text back and forth, and surreptitiously check out each other's photo collections, they find a lot in common in terms of interests and how they like to communicate. But it is Jonah's picture of his dog Truck that really intrigues Harper. She would love a dog of her own, but feels she's too busy and instead does volunteer dog-walking at the ACC (Austin Canine Coalition).
Once the holidays are over and both Jonah and Harper are back in town and meet up to exchange phones, they discover a mutual attraction. But can it overcome the business rivalry that they find themselves in. Or would teaming up there as well actually work?
A fun story, with lots of interesting characters, including a few dogs, and an intriguing plot. I read it in one day. 
This is actually the second book in an Austin series, and some characters from the previous book You Lucky Dog appear here as well. 

Three O'Clock in the Morning

Finished July 11
Three O'Clock in the Morning by Gianrico Carofiglio, translated by Howard Curtis

This delightful novel was a quick read for me. The narrator, Antonio, talks about his life looking back on it later. As a child, his parents divorced and hi lived with his mother. His father was a mathematician and professor. When Antonio has a seizure and is diagnosed with epilepsy, both his parents take a strong interest in the situation, and unsatisfied with the initial treatment, they take him from Italy to Marseilles to a specialist. 
Following treatment, the are scheduled to return to Marseilles years later for a follow-up and, due to his mother's commitments, it is just Antonio and his father that go. When they find that they must stay for two extra days and Antonio must stay awake during these days, the two walk the streets of the city, visit restaurants and nightclubs, and go sightseeing and on boat trips. 
It is the first time that Antonio, now eighteen, sees his father as a person, and he discovers things about him that he never knew. 
This has a coming of age feel to it, and the open conversations between the two about their lives, interests, passions, and even love lives, is eye-opening. 
I liked how Antonio described his time with his father, his realization that his dad had experiences that he could relate to and learn from, and that he liked his father. A gem of a book.
Shout out to the Thornhill Village branch librarian for recommending it to me. 

Sunday 16 July 2023

The Summer Before the War

Finished July 10
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

This historical novel takes place mostly in the summer  of 1914 in the small coastal town of Rye in East Sussex. Agatha Kent is one of the women who makes things happen in the town. She is progressive to a degree and protective of her own. Often, her nephews, Hugh Grange and Daniel Bookham, spent their summers there. Agatha's husband John works in the government and gets down from London when he can. Hugh is studying to be a surgeon and Daniel is a poet, who aspires to larger literary pursuits with his friend Craigmore North.
Beatrice Nash has been living with her father's family since his death, but can't go on doing so. She was close to her father who was a writer, and she acted as his secretary and assistant for as long as she can remember, travelling widely with him. Agatha has arranged for her to take over as Latin teacher at their local school, and Beatrice is both thankful for the opportunity to make her own way, and a bit nervous at the prospect of teaching. 
Hugh has been tutoring three of the boys from the school in Latin, but is happy to hand them over to Beatrice for the summer. The boys: Jack, Richard (Snout), and Arty are to be tutored by Beatrice during that time. 
As Beatrice navigates the politics of the small town, and the responsibilities of her position, she also makes friends and tries for some small changes.
Another female in town who has pushed for Beatrice to be taken on as Latin teacher is Lady Emily Wheaton, who has two grown children, with her daughter married to a German duke. 
As the war begins, the men in town are drawn away to military pursuits and the women find themselves called in different directions. 
There are some scenes at the front with Hugh visiting Daniel and his unit there. 
This is a book that shows the ways of society before the this world-changing war, and gives a hint of the aims and dreams of the young generation that will end up giving the most in this war. We see the traditions of this rural community in the celebration of the hop harvest and the military parade of the local soldiers. 
The way the community welcomed some Belgian refugees was also interesting in many ways, and displayed prejudices and social commentary. 
This is a book that truly makes you care about several of the characters and brings them to life with their own personalities. From Snout to Agatha, and Beatrice to Hugh, we get a glimpse into their lives which will be changed forever. 

This Spells Love

Finished July 10
This Spells Love by Kate Robb

This romance starts off with Gemma Wilde having a night of solace after the breakup of a years-long relationship with Stuart. Gemma has a lovely condo overlooking the lake, a great job as beauty-products buyer for a popular chain store, and the people she is spending the evening with, her intriguing aunt Lily, her older sister Kiersten, and her best friend Dax. Her aunt suggests using a love cleanse spell in a book she's just acquired, and Gemma is definitely onboard. But the spells requires a kiss, and so Dax gives her a chaste kiss at the end of the evening before tucking Gemma into her bed in her margarita haze. 
When Gemma awakes the next morning, she is surprised to find that the spell may have worked, and she never went out with Stuart, but she finds herself in a dismal basement apartment with different possessions. When she goes out in search of answers, there is no one at her aunt's shop, and she finds herself at Dax's sneaker store, sneaking in the unlocked backdoor to look for reassurance. Dax is there, but he has no idea who she is and Gemma is aghast to find that her ex-boyfriend may not be the only thing thar she no longer has. As she discovers the alternate version of her life that she finds herself in, she discovers both good and bad things are true.
It seems that this Gemma made one of her long-time secret dreams come true, but that things didn't go as well for others. As she remakes old friendships and discovers new ones, she also must decide whether to stay in this reality, or attempt to undo the spell and return to her previous reality, if she can. 
Set in Hamilton, Ontario, this novel gives the feel for an authentic place, and some Canadian quirks. It also a lot of imagination in the details of Gemma's predicament.
Her friendship with Dax is a strong one, and I can see how losing that would be hard. He's also a hot guy and maybe there are feeling between them beyond friendship. As their relationship develops in one world, it's possible that it might be a stronger one in the other world as well.  
I like the unflappable quality of Lily, and the strong relationship between her and Kiersten, who always makes time for her despite being married with three kids. And I liked Dax, who has dreams of his own, and who has been an amazing friend to Gemma. 
A great read. 

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Signup for 17th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge and 16th Annual Wrap-Up.

It was pretty much a given that I was doing this challenge, since I am the host, but here's the official commitment

If you want to signup, here's the signup page.

For the 16th Annual Challenge, I read 37 books

1. Where Have You Been Bobby Marr by Morris Dalla Costa. Finished July 15
2. Windy Days by Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato. Finished September 5
3. This is the Boat that Ben Built by Jen Lynn Bailey and Maggie Zeng. Finished September 25
4. Animals Move by Jane Whittingham. Finished October 1
5. Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Finished October 6
6. Act of God by Jill Ciment. Finished October 15
7. A Sky-Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Peggy Collins. Finished November 15
8. Dinos Driving by Lynn Leitch and Scot Ritchie. Finished November 20
9. Bear Has a Belly by Jane Whittingham. Finished November 23
10. The Witch of Babylon by D.J. McIntosh. Finished November 26
11. Let's Add Up! by Victoria Allenby, illustrated by Maggie Zeng. Finished November 27
12. If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It by Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac, illustrated by Scot Ritchie. Finished December 11
13. Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli. Finished December 16
14. Dusk in the Frog Pond and other stories by Rummana Chowdhury. Finished December 20
15. Zolitude by Paige Cooper. Finished January 7
16. Snitch by Allison van Diepen. Finished January 8
17. A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong. Finished January 8
18. Sari Not Sari by Sonya Singh. Finished January 12
19. The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr. Finished January 31
20. The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny. Finished February 11
21. A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny. Finished February 14
22. Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo. Finished February 25
23. Six Weeks with You by Janet Koops. Finished March 11
24. Easter Morning, Easter Sun by Rosanna Battigelli and Tara Anderson. Finished March 25
25. While You Sleep by Jennifer Maruno and Miki Sato. Finished March 25
26. Nurse! a memoir by Francene Cosman. Finished March 27
27. Haven by Emma Donoghue. Finished April 18
28. Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett. Finished April 30
29. Cocoa Magic by Sandra Bradley and Gabrielle Grimard. Finished April 30
30. Percy's Perfect Friend by Lana Button, illustrated by Peggy Collins. Finished May 12
31. Harmless by James Grainger. Finished May 14
32. Next Time There's a Pandemic by Vivek Shraya. Finished May 18
33. The Whole Night Through by Christiane Frenette. Finished May 25
34. Standing in the Shadows by Peter Robinson. Finished May 31
35. Belonging by Adrienne Clarkson. Finished June 10
36. White Slaves by Nicholas Kinsey. Finished June 15
37. People Change by Vivek Shraya. Finished June 21

Girl, Forgotten

Finished July 5
Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

The beginning of this book has a day from the early 1980s, where a young woman, Emily Vaughn, is planning to go to her high school prom. She hasn't been to high school in months, and no one wants her there. The reason for that is her pregnancy. Here we see Emily encounter several young men, classmates as well as a teacher, and defy her parents' wishes to head to the school. She gets there, but never gets back home. 
This novel follows U.S. Marshall Andrea Oliver from her graduation day as a marshall through her first assignment. Andrea grew up in the witness protection program, although she wasn't aware of that until recently. Her biological father is a man who is in jail partly due to her mother's testimony. He was also one of the men suspected in Emily Vaughn death. 
When, on her graduation day, Andrea is offered the job of protecting a judge in Delaware who has been receiving death threats, she finds that the judge Esther Vaughn is Emily's mother, and there is a hidden agenda to her posting. Someone wants her to find Emily's killer, and they think it is Andrea's father. 
As Andrea gets her bearings in the small town, getting to know her partner, an experienced marshall with a quirky sense of humour names, Leonard (Catfish) Bible, as well as the locals, she finds there is more going on than she expected. 
As she learns how Bible thinks, she also learns that many people from Emily's life have secrets, and most of them are still in town. 
This is a book that has a lot going on, and some of the plotlines are eye-opening. Andrea has training, but she is learning her job as she goes, and sometimes, she makes a mistake. A book that will keep you guessing until the end. 

Friday 7 July 2023

The Invited

Finished July 1
The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

This novel set in a rural area near a small town in Vermont, has a couple, Helen and Nate, who have quit their jobs, bought a property, and are building their own house there. Helen was a history teacher and she is fascinated by the history of their property, particularly a previous owner, Hattie Breckenridge, who lived there many decades earlier. Hattie was suspected of witchcraft and was hanged by the townspeople. 
As Helen looks for historical artifacts that connect Hattie and her descendants to the home she and Nate are building, she begins to see things, and gets drawn to certain places and things. 
Nate, meanwhile, becomes obsessed with an unusual animal that he has seen in the marshes near their home, spending time tracking and trying to capture images of it. 
A teenage girl who lives nearby is mourning the loss of her mother, who disappeared recently. Olive's father is struggling with the unexplained disappearance of his wife and seems focused on remaking their home to draw her back. Olive herself is drawn to Helen and Nate, the stories of Hattie, and the mysterious activities of her mother before she disappeared. 
This story has a lot going on, that gradually comes together around the story of Hattie and her descendants. 

Lucky Red

Finished June 29
Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens

This western focuses on a young woman, Bridget, as she deals with the realities of the American West. The year is 1877, and sixteen-year-old Bridget lives with her father, who often disappears for long periods and tends to go through what money they get quickly. She's learned to handle his moods, and when he announces that he's sold their place and they are going west, she adjusts quickly. But soon after leaving their rustic home, her father is bit by a snake while sleeping and Bridget is unable to save him. She takes their few possessions and continues on, on her own, finding herself in Dodge City. Bridget soon goes through her money there and finds herself, a pretty redhead, invited to join a female-run brothel, the Buffalo Queen. 
Not bothered by the sexual expectations of the job, she appreciates the food and shelter and the personal earnings she can accumulate. 
Bridget learns from the other women there, and begins to make friends of a sort, particularly with one woman who is more educated that most. As Bridget learns her place in the society of the town, and how to manage the men she services, she also finds herself unable to see herself in a more domestic role. She enjoys the environment she works in, until things change with her naive actions, the feelings of one man who wants more from her than she feels able to give, and her decidedly unprofessional interest in Spartan Lee, a female gunslinger who comes to town. 
This is a coming of age tale in an unusual manner, where Bridget learns about trust and betrayal, and the harsh reality of the world. 
A great read that builds slowly to faster action near the end. 

Thursday 6 July 2023

The Venice Sketchbook

Finished June 28
The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

This book caught my eye at the library when I was picking up some holds, and I ended up bringing it home and reading the whole book that same day. 
There is a short prologue in 1938 at the beginning, which sets the scene for a place and time that ends up being a key to the book's plot. From there the book follows three timelines. The first four chapters are from 1928, when 18-year-old Juliet Browning visits Venice as a gift from her aunt, and has an encounter that she will never forget. The book then moves to 2001, when Caroline Grant is facing the end of her marriage. Caroline and her husband both have degrees in fashion, but he has chosen to pursuit a career in design and recently travelled to the United States to follow that dream. As the book begins, we find that he has begun a new relationship there. The divorce is now final and Caroline will have their son Teddy during the school year, while Josh will have him for the summer and holidays. Caroline stays at her job at a women's magazine, but considers moving in with her grandmother and great aunt Lettie in the house she grew up in. When her great aunt dies, secrets get revealed and when an opportunity to investigate those secrets opens up to Caroline, her grandmother encourages her to take it. 
The story then moves back to Juliet Browning in 1938, where she returns to Venice as an art teacher accompanying her students. Several things have changed for Juliet since 1928, and while she longed to return to the city, she hasn't been able to until now. When she has a chance encounter that brings back feelings from her 1928 visit, she is once again tied to the city. Soon after, an opportunity to study abroad returns her to Venice, a move she makes despite the looming political situation.
As the 1938/39 and 2001 ones stories begin to connect, we find Caroline making interesting discoveries, and revealing possibilities that may change her own life. 
A book that encompasses romance, suspense, and intrigue, this book was one I had difficulty putting down. 

Letters to a Young Poet with the Letters to Rilke from the "Young Poet"

Finished June 28
Letters to a Young Poet with the Letters to Rilke from the "Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Xaver Kappus, translated by Damion Searls

This is a classic, paired with the other half of the correspondence that it was part of. The letters are written over several months and were an interlude in both the writer's lives, with no significant connection between them beyond this. One thing that struck me was the relative closeness in age between the two, although Rilke had already launched his career. Rilke's writing, even in this private correspondence (never published until after his death) was much superior to that of Kappus. Kappus definitely sounds like a fanboy, and his writing includes a lot of fawning and thanking. 
Rilke is patient, thoughtful, and diplomatic. His writing stands the test of time, and in some cases was ahead of its time. One selection from Letter Seven is a great example:

The girl, the woman, in this new manner of unfolding specific to her, will only transitionally imitate masculine ways of being, both good and bad, and follow the same male callings, do the same male jobs. After the uncertainty of these transitions has passed, it will be clear that women have passed through this multiplicity of (often ridiculous) disguises only to purify their own essential nature from the distorting influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life dwells and tarries more immediately, more intimately, more fruitfully, must surely have become fundamentally more mature, more human human beings, than the easygoing man, not pulled down beneath the surface of life by any difficult bodily fruit, who overhastily, arrogantly undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity of the woman, carried to term through pain and humiliation, will come to light once her outward position has changed and she has thrown off her conventional status as "only a woman'; the men today who don't see this coming will be baffled and shattered. Someday (and trustworthy portents of this are already speaking and shining, especially in the countries of the north) -- someday there will be a girl, a woman, who name no longer signifies merely the opposite of male but something in and of itself, existing, alive, implying no limit and requiring no complement--; the female human being.

As you can see from this passage, the letters convey not just advice particular to the recipient, but general life advice and commentary that will help any young person with their struggles, and put things in perspective for them. I can see why Rilke's letters are a classic.

Book Love

Finished June 26
Book Love by Debbie Tung

I was looking for a graphic novel, and this one jumped out at me. Tung is someone that I can definitely relate to. Books are a big part of my life, and obviously they are to her as well. 
The character she draws here, from the way she gets immersed in a book, to how she relates to reading, to how she prioritizes books in her life are all things I do as well.
When I'm reading a book, it can sometimes take a moment for me to respond as I have to make my way back to the real world to respond. The cover gives a good sense of her drawing style, realistic with the use of emphasis on features to express emotion. 
This is a lovely book for any reader. 

Saturday 1 July 2023

July Reviews for the 17th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

 Here is where you link your reviews for books read during July 2023 for the 17th year of the Challenge. Don't forget that the book must either: be by a Canadian author, set in a Canadian place, be about a Canadian, or be about Canada in some way. Link to YOUR REVIEW, not just to your site and not just to the book on a book site like Goodreads or Storygraph.

I'm looking forward to another year of highlighting Canadian authors.

Here's the Mister Linky. Add a comment too!

Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge Sign-Up

The challenge is to read one or more books with at least one of the key words in the title each month.
I didn't note this challenge until July, but went back to see if I could fill in any of the previous months. Synonyms and suffixes are allowed. 

January: Crown, Girl, Whisper, Black, Heart, Guide, All, Ever
    None of my reads fit for this month
February: Please, Might, Return, Shy, Vanish, Book, Ash, Come
    None of my reads fit for this month
March: Crimson, Beyond, Friend, Cry, Wait, Six, Run, Woods
    Six Weeks with You by Janet Koops. Finished March 11 (Six)
April: Vicious, Ask, Wind, Found, Circle, Broken, Beneath, Drown
    Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett. Finished April 30 (Ragged is a synonym for Broken)
May: Dragon, Day, Chain, Another, Thousand, Begin, Stolen, And
    To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters. Finished May 3 (And)
June: Bridge, Everything, Blue, Why, First, Wild, Luck, Tomorrow
    None of my reads fit for this month
July: Final, Clock, This, Way, Poison, Summer, Future, Kiss

August: Dangerous, Again, Best, Chase, How, Flower, Date, Together

September: Sign, With, Just, Lies, Grace, Enough, Sleep, Name

October: Old, After, Take, Shadow, Monster, Haunt, Darkness,Of

November: Paris, Hidden, Sparrow, Realm, Two, Fair, Street, Say

December: Silver, Wish, Forgotten, Dance, Also, My, Fate, Dream