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Showing posts from November, 2014

Dear Canada: An Ocean Apart: The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-Ling, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1922 by Gillian Chan

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Dear Canada: An Ocean Apart: The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-Ling, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1922 by Gillian Chan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dear Canada series


A fine entry into the Dear Canada series. This author, Gillian Chan, is new to me so I didn't know what to expect in regards to the writing but was pleasantly pleased to find an engaging, well-written story. This "diary" is not about a particular incident but focuses in on the Chinese experience in Canada post World War I. This is a time when the country had immigration laws imposed upon the Chinese in particular so that while it had an influx of men, who had worked on the railway in the previous forty years or so, the government was at work to limit new Chinese from entering the country by imposing immigration fees and head taxes eventually up to $500 on each individual, even babies. This is where we find our main characters, a community of Chinese men, related in various ways from young to old, who are all sa…

Escaping Home by A. American

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Escaping Home by A. American

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Survivalist Series (#3)

I so enjoyed getting back to these characters and this story. I had a hard time deciding between 3 or 4 stars but this one was not quite up to the level of the first two so my rating dropped to a 3 but I still enjoyed it in a different way than the others. All our regular gang are still here, though still not back together. Things switch between the guys & family, then we see what Jess is up to. This volume is not as action-happy as the previous two, there is still plenty of shoot 'em ups but there are definitely less than the norm. This left some periods where the story was all about talking about the next scheme or waiting for an episode to happen. What I can say though, is that this volume certainly improves on the character development of nearly every one of the major players. Thad had already been the most developed character and Morg too but we get to see a different side of Morg as he intera…

Different Seasons by Stephen King

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Different Seasons by Stephen King

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


I am (re)reading King's works in chronological order. I read this book when it first came out. Up to this point in his career he had proven he was a master of genre fiction, even including the Bachman books which though not horror are still various genres. Here King now turns his hand to straight fiction with four novellas within this collection, bringing some of his finest work to date and proving that he can write pure fiction, even "literature".

1. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption - This story is the narrative of a lifer at the prison called Shawshank. Shortly after he is incarcerated along comes a new inmate named Andy Dufresne. Andy has a huge impact on our narrator and he tells us Andy's story along with what life is like inside a maximum security prison. A gritty dramatic prison tale that held me fast from beginning to end. (5/5)

2. Apt Pupil - This gets close to what we've come to expect …

The Boxcar Children #9: Mountain Top Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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The Boxcar Children #9: Mountain Top Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boxcar Children (9)

I am re-reading the original 19 in numerical order. A fine romp that continues in the tradition of the previous books. The "mystery" this time is two-fold, first the ever-present identity of the mystery person, this time an Indian boy, and second, the hunt for a hidden treasure. This is the next summer after the previous book and the kids have decided to go where Grandfather was supposed to be taking them when they inadvertently ended up at the Lighthouse last time. The children are obviously older now, though no ages are given. Illustrations of Benny, sometimes called Ben now, show him as an older boy, not the little boy shown on this cover. John Carter is the only recurring character who returns this time but he has now assumed the role of Grandfather's right-hand man. The book has a cultural message about not forgetting the ways of the past, specifically…

Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

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Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This isn't a book I particularly liked. It is a sad, depressing, dark, story filled with nasty people and themes. I like dark literature and certainly don't need a happy ending to enjoy a book but this had no redemption for anyone and none of the characters had any redeeming qualities. The only one who could be seen to have grown throughout the book is the father, and he's a minor character. Even though I didn't like the characters or the story, the book is well-written and at no point did I ever consider not finishing it.



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BOOK TOUR: The Widow Smalls and Other Stories by Jamie Lisa Forbes

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BOOK TOUR Courtesy of




The Widow Smalls and Other Stories by Jamie Lisa ForbesPronghorn Press (2014), Paperback, 232 pages

A collection of beautiful, well-written, bittersweet (for want of a better word) westerns. There is a degree of romance to these stories but not the kind that word usually conjures. These stories are sad and melancholy but the also focus on self-examination, retribution, and excepting ones past, mistakes and all. Lovely collection!

1. Ramona Dietz - A rural story set in the 1950s deals with many issues. A wealthy young man and his childless wife run a ranch the father bought. The man has father issues and takes his wife for granted. As a new hired hand couple come to the ranch he finds someone whom he can relate to in the 16yo wife and further issues of insest and abuse are explored until finally the farmer stops to examine his own life. Well-written, with a focus on characters and themes. (4/5)

2. Lincoln's Nephew - Another story of a ranch hand, this time takin…

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne by Marc Eliot

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American Titan: Searching for John Wayne by Marc Eliot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


An all around interesting biography on John Wayne. The author's note at the end of the book explains his method of biography writing which he bases on an actor's body of work reflecting the life of the person; he explains the concept of "auteurism". I'd never heard of this before. However, I enjoyed the book quite well. It is a highly positive look at John Wayne in chronological order through his movies. While remaining "pro"-Wayne the book does take on his controversial aspects such as Wayne's refusal to serve in the military. I've seen a lot of Wayne movies and knew him to be the ideal "American" of his time but didn't really know much of anything about him except that he died of cancer. The biography was highly entertaining and informative with lots of anecdotes about happenings on set and his relations with other actors of the day. Many famous names …

All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts, Frank, Alberta District, 1902 by Jean Little

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All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts, Frank, Alberta District, 1902 by Jean Little

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Canada

This is Jean Little's fifth book in the Dear Canada series and an emotional tale probably best aimed at the older end of the recommended 8-12 age group. However, I found it somewhat different than the other books I've read in this series. The book isn't really about the Frank Slide; instead it is a story of a family with its own plot set against the historical setting where the Frank slide tragedy comes as the climax. The story deals with some excellent emotional topics. Starting with the death of the father, the family that no longer has a "head of the household" moves across the country to live with relatives. The father was a brutish man, not physically, but no one greatly misses him and other topics deeply running through the book include adoption, downs syndrome and a young girl running off with a philanderer. All of this is set…