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Showing posts from February, 2015

Month In Review

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February was a very cold month in here in Canada, so I spent a lot of time inside reading.  That is always a good thing!  Though I am definitely ready for the weather to get above 0 again and for the sun to start melting.

Here are the books I read in February with my GoodReads ratings:

The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout *****
The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp *****
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King *****
She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal ****
The Favourite Son by Tiffany L. Warren ****
Coming Home to You by Liesel Schmidt ****
The Bible's Answers to 100 of Life's Biggest Questions by Norman L. Geisler & Jason Jimenez ****
And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier ***
A Beauty by Connie Gault ***
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper ***
Amnesia by Peter Carey ***
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid ***

Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge (5), Diversity on the Shelf (3)

What I'm Looking Forward to in March

I have already st…

Black History Month: Children's Books

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My final list for Black History Month is of books for kids that teach them about historical events and people as well as culture.  These are all books that I have shared with my own kids (or plan to when they are older).
Henry's Freedom Box - Ellen Levine Elijah of Buxton - Christopher Paul Curtis The Kids Book of Black Canadian History - Rosemary Sadlier Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged  - Jody Nyasha Warner Up Home - Shauntay Grant Anansi the Spider - Gerald McDermott Martin's Big Words - Doreen Rapport Through My Eyes - Ruby Bridges The Patchwork Path - Bettye Stroud
What books do you love to read with your children and use to teach them about Black History?

Month in Review - Non-Bookish Things

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Television

Black-ish continues to be my favourite show on television.  I often feel as though I'm watching my life play out on screen (the episode where the Mother-in-Law comes to visit) or viewing what life is going to be like in 8 years time (the father dealing with his daughter having a boyfriend.)  My husband was really unsure of what this show would turn out to be but we both spend the entire half hour laughing our heads off.

And the new show Fresh Off the Boat has also captured our attention.  I began watching for the incredible 90's hip-hop soundtrack and Eddie's fantastic t-shirts and ended up enjoying everything.  Any child of immigrants will find so much humour in this show (the line this week, "crank up the a/c to low" is something I'm pretty sure I heard my dad say when I was a kid.)

I'm very glad that these two shows have turned out great because my two previous favourite shows, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family have been letting me down a lo…

"A Beauty" by Connie Gault

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Who Should Read This:CanLit fans, readers who like books that are about character-driven.
In a small community of Swedes in the prairies of Saskatchewan lives a young Finnish woman named Elena Huhtala.  It’s the 1930’s and the drought has hit the village of Trevna, and all of the surrounding areas, hard.  Elena has always lived with her father, her mother deceased since Elena was small, but now he has disappeared, taking with him his rifle and leaving a note.  At eighteen-years-old, Elena is all alone.  
Then a stranger shows up at a country dance in his Lincoln Roadster, mysterious and catching the eyes of all the young women.  Elena needs only one dance before she jumps in his car and leaves the town behind.  As they travel through the prairie towns, unsure of where they are headed, they meet an incredible group of people, all struggling to make their own way through the difficult times.  But then Elena meets a young girl named Ruth and both of their paths are changed forever.  
A Be…

Black History Month: Biographies

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Another list for Black History Month, this one of biographies.  I decided this time to focus on more recent biographies, rather than on historical figures.  Some of these books cover the Civil Rights Era of the 1960's but were written recently.  These books also cover the stories of Black people from all over the world.  There are some about war and some about breaking barriers.

I wish this list was longer.  Because I'm including only books I am familiar with and can confidently recommend, there are a lot of good ones that will be left off.  I wish I have read more life stories.  Compiling this list has made me realize I need to fix that.

A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah
The Other Wes Moore - Wes Moore
War Child - Emmanuel Jal
The Stone Thrower - Jael Ealey Richardson
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson
Running For My Life - Lopez Lomong
While the World Watched - Carolyn Maull McKinstry
Left to Tell - Immaculee Ilibagiza
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
Life in…

"The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America" by Thomas King

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What does it mean to be “Indian” in North America?  This is the question that Thomas King looks at it in his book The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.  Serious and funny, history and anecdote, this is a timely and important book that will open readers eyes to the narrative of the history of the continent.
The relationship between Natives and non-Natives has been going on for centuries and the entire time has been fraught with difficulties and misunderstandings.  There is a lot that the history books have either misinformed or omitted completely when it comes to the history of Native peoples in North America.  And this has led to a complete lack of understanding in our present day lives.  To counter this, King takes a look at historical events and figures, politics and pop culture, to create an account that isn’t easy, but must be read.
The history of the First Nations people in North America is longer and richer than any one book can capture. …

"Amnesia" by Peter Carey

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Who Should Read This: Those interested in Australian politics and history.

When a young Australian woman unleashes a worm into the computerized control systems of the Australian prisons, she sets off an international incident.  Not only are the locks of hundreds of prisons throughout Australia thrown open, but so are the locks of 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1700 prisons, and 3000 country jails.  All because Australian prison security systems were designed by American corporations.  
But could the young hacker have known that this was going to happen?  Was she protesting Australian immigration policies or was she declaring a cyber war on America?  The only person who can get to the truth seems to be disgraced Australian journalist Felix Moore.  He has been hired to write the biography of Gaby, the hacker.  But the people who have hired him may not be who they seem.
Amnesia is the latest release from two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey.  Set in Australia, it takes reader…

"She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" by Zeenat Mahal

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Who Should Read This:Romance fans, those who love fairy tales.

For years, Zoella has been in love with her best friend’s older brother Fardeen.  But ever since they were kids, Fardeen barely registered that she was there.  And why would he?  He’s engaged to a gorgeous socialite named Neha from the upper echelons of society and Zoella will never be able to match her.  Now that she’s of marrying age, Zoella needs to put her crush behind her.
But a car accident leaves Fardeen scarred and disfigured.  No longer the handsome prince everyone thought he was, his fiancée has left him and he has pushed away everyone around him.  When Zoella falls on hard times, Fardeen’s family propose a solution that will give both of them a second chance - marriage.
This Fardeen is not the man that Zoella fell in love with though.  He’s hard and bitter, lashing out at everyone around him, especially her.  When an opportunity to return to Fardeen to the man he once was presents itself, he realizes what a terr…

Black History Month: Contemporary Authors

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My second list for Black History Month is a list of Black contemporary authors.  Again, while there are many more authors who could be on a list like this, I am including only authors I have already read.

Canadian
Lawrence Hill
André Alexis
Dany Laferrière
Afua Cooper
Carole Enahoro
Yahaya Baruwa
David Chariandy
Dionne Brand
George Elliott Clarke
Yejide Kilanko
Esi Edugyan
Austin Clarke
Nalo Hopkinson
Cecil Foster
Suzette Mayr
Horane Smith

International
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Terry McMillan
Tayari Jones
Carleen Brice
Dinaw Mengistu
Lalita Tademy
Jacqueline Woodson
Connie Briscoe
Nadifa Mohamed
Lola Shoneyin
Teju Cole
Toni Morrison
Chibundu Onuzo
Yvette Edwards
Heleen Oyeyemi
Eric Jerome Dickey
Andrea Levy
Taiye Selasi
Chika Unigwe
Bernice McFadden
Jacinda Townsend
Rosalyn McMillan
Zadie Smith

Christian
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Victoria Christopher Murray
Tiffany L. Warren
Rhonda Bowen
Stacy Hawkins Adams
Sharon Tubbs
Angela Benson
Marilynn Griffith
E.N. Joy
Tia McCollors
Michele Andr…

"Etta and Otto and Russell and James" by Emma Hooper

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Who Should Read This:CanLit fans.
Eighty-two-year-old Etta has spent her whole life in Saskatchewan and has never seen the sea.  And one day, she decides she is going to change this.  She leaves a note behind her for her husband Otto that simply says “I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. I will try to remember to come back.”
Back at home, Otto is waiting patiently for Etta to return.  He knows that this is what she wants, so he does not plan on going after her.  But their friend and neighbour Russell cannot sit idly by.  He’s loved Etta for more than fifty years and he thinks someone should go after her.
But Etta isn’t alone on her 2,000 mile journey.  Shortly into the trip she is joined by a coyote named James who keeps her company and keeps her safe.  And when she ends up in the news, it isn’t long before everyone knows who she is when she arrives in their town.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is a debut novel that spans decades and provinces a…

Black History Month: History Books

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For Black History Month, I will be sharing what I consider to be required reading lists.  First up are History Books that share the stories and issues that are central to the Black Experience.  There is a wealth of books out there but for this I will be sharing only books that I have read.

Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X with Alex Haley
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equinao by Olaudah Equine
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr.
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
The Blacks in Canada: a History by Robin W. Winks
Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
The Confessions of Nat Turner by Nat Turner (there is a fictional account with the same name and is based on this but I recommen…

"When Everything Feels Like The Movies" by Raziel Reid

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Who Should Read This:Someone looking for a young LGBT voice in literature.
Sometimes life is just like the movies.  In the case of Jude Rothesay, sometimes it’s better to imagine that life is a movie rather than deal with the reality of it.  
Jude is a gay teenager, something that doesn’t go over well in his small-town, especially at school.  He celebrates who he is but others around him don’t, and this results in horrific bullying both at school and home.  Along with his best friend Angela, he remains an outcast.  But Jude knows that he is destined for fame, he just needs to get to Hollywood.  Until that day comes, he lives his life as though he’s already there, even if the public can’t see what makes him so special.
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid is a young adult novel that takes on the very adult issues many young people are facing today.
There is a lot to be said about this book and I don’t even know how I’m going to say it.  First off, I wouldn’t have picked …

What Reading Diversely Means to Me

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Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion going on in the book world and especially on social media about the lack of diversity in the publishing world.  This has led to many book bloggers and readers making a commitment to highlight diversity in their reading life and show the publishing industry that we want more diverse voices.

But this brings up another topic - just what do we mean by diversity?  Diversity can mean different things for different people.  And I don’t think that any one person’s definition of diversity is more important than another person’s.  The important thing here is that we are supporting voices and experiences that are different from ours as well as voices and experiences that don’t get the attention and promotion that others do.

So, it is important for me to establish just what diversity means for me.  I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a world-class, multicultural city.  Diversity has always been reality for me.  I am a white Can…

"Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes" by Kamal Al-Solaylee

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Who Should Read This:Anyone interested in the history and culture of the Middle East. Anyone wanting to know about LGBT life in Middle Eastern culture.

Kamal Al-Solaylee was born into a wealth family in Aden, in the South of Yemen, in the 1960’s.  Though his mother was illiterate and married at an early age, his father had spent time in England and relied upon Western values as he crafted a career as a property owner.  But as his country began to move away from its colonial roots, the family found themselves on the losing end, all of their property confiscated, and forced to leave the country.
They first moved to Beirut, but it quickly became a dangerous place to stay so the family then moved to Cairo.  There they were able to enjoy the lifestyle they valued so much, one that placed importance on education and freedom.  Kamal and his siblings grew up in a very cosmopolitan world, listening to American music, frequenting the cinema, and watching Western movies and television.
But as th…

Month In Review

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I love January, just for all the fun lists I get to put together of books I want to read in the year and for starting fresh on challenges.  This year, I'm aiming to read 105 books after reading around 100 for the past few years.  And 2015 is off to a good start.  Looking at my collage above, my reading this month was much more eclectic than it has been in a while and I hope that keeps up this year.

Here are the books I read in January, with my GoodReads ratings:

And the Bride Wore Prada - Katie Oliver *****
Intolerable - Kamal Al-Solaylee ****
The Jaguar's Children - John Vaillant ****
Cover Before Striking - Priscila Uppal ****
Laughing All the Way to the Mosque - Zarqa Nawaz ****
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins ****
Jesus Without Borders - Chad Gibbs ***
The Devil You Know - Elisabeth de Mariaffi ***
The Andy Cohen Diaries - Andy Cohen ***

Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge (5), Diversity on the Shelf (4)

What I'm Looking Forward to in February

Usually I list the books that…