Archive for February, 2013

FREEDOM TO READ WEEK

February 24th starts Freedom to Read week and I can’t think of a better way to start thinking about what this means than to read Globe & Mail writer Elizabeth Renzetti’s wonderful column “Censorship is alive and well in Canada – just ask government scientists”. Read this and make sure to pass it along to family & friends. Censorship isn’t just something that happens in other countries. Our alarm bells should have gone off a long time ago.

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The Last Runaway

The Last Runaway is written by Tracy Chevalier. She wrote the hugely successful The Girl with the Pearl Earring  a few years ago. This novel starts off with Honor Bright accompanying her sister Grace to America, leaving behing their entire family and Quaker community in Bridport, England. Tragically, Grace dies of yellow fever while en route to Ohio where she is to marry a former member of their Quaker community, and Honor is left to her own devices, relying on people she doesn’t know to shelter, feed and take care of her in a strange land with strange customs – slavery being a major one. Honor soon learns that being a Quaker in England isn’t the same as being a Quaker in America. Even their timely passion of quilting is different. There’s a fair amount of info in the book relating to quilting (I paid attention… British quilters do patchwork quilts and Americans do applique quilts) and as research for her book Chevalier even learned to quilt. But the book centres on how the community of Quakers in Ohio deals with the whole issue of runaway slaves trying to make their way to Canada on the Underground Railroad. Honor soon realizes that her principles don’t mesh with some of those in her new homeland. And she is forced eventually to decide where her loyalties lie. It’s a great read. Chevalier is a wonderful writer. I do have a bone to pick with her though, and I know it’s silly but… Honor is British, so why wasn’t her name spelt with a “u”… “Honour”. It would have been more authentic. Chevalier was born in Washington D.C. but now lives in London, and I guess bowing to an American editor and with the book being geared to American readers… but I still think her name should have been spelt the British way.  Anyway, that’s my 2 cents worth. Just a comment from an observant Canadian reader. But it’s a great book nonetheless.

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February wins Canada Reads!

Lisa Moore has won the Canada Reads competition for her fantastic book February. The win came on the 31st anniversary of the storm that sank the Ocean Ranger oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland on Feb. 15th 1982. The book tells the story of one woman’s grief and stuggle to cope after the death of her husband Cal in the Ocean Ranger disaster. Lisa deserves all the attention & recognition and $s this award brings. It is one of my all time favourite books. READ IT!!! (And read my blog posting from March 2010.)

If you didn’t hear Jian Ghomeshi’s intro on “Q” on CBC radio the morning after, you’ve got to find it online and listen to his ode to Canadian literature… he brought me to tears.

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A Question of Identity

Susan Hill’s mysteries are a cut above the usual, and A Question of Identity, her 7th in the Simon Serrailler series, certainly is a terrific read. I sat for ages staring at my computer trying to figure out how to even start to tell you about this amazing book. In a nutshell… 3 women are murdered, and when, with undisputable evidence, Alan Keyes is acquitted, the public is so enraged that “the system” realizes, for his own safety, Keyes will have to cease existing and become someone else. They give him a new identity. His old life is gone. Years later, when 3 more women are murdered, it takes a very astute member of Her Magesty’s Finest to put two and two together and come up with – nothing. How do you find a murdered when he’s fallen off the grid?  He no longer exists. Hill allows us to get inside the murderer’s head, and listen to his conversations with himself, all the while not revealing exactly who he is now. It’s a fantastic twist to a typical mystery that definitely sets this book above all others. Kudos to Hill for her smart twist of the tale. Fans of Simon Serrailler will be happy to know that Rachel, his love interest, is back (remember I said in my review of her previous book I hoped we’d hear more of Rachel), along with his sister Cat. As per usual in Hill’s books, the background stories are every bit as interesting as the main plot. She’s a brilliant writer. And this is a fantastic book.

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