Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tar Sands by Andrew Nikiforuk

Ladies and gentlemen, my husband asked me to let him review Tar Sands, as he knows quite a bit more about the subject than I do, so here is my first guest review, by my beloved husband.


Take two dishes and place them on your desk. Fill one with adjectives and adverbs which immediately bring to mind associations things often considered evil or wrong, even though in themselves the thing or idea is benign or ambiguous. Fill the other bowl with wide sweeping generalizations and some indistinct segues between actual quotes and random unattributed ideas. Next, pick a topically hot subject that most of society is knowledgeably ignorant about but vaguely aware of. Mix together with the skill of a Gamey Bird newspaper-trained journalist (Car crash on the front page. If there was none that week, dig one out of the files.) and you will come up with a close approximation to Nikiforuk’s Tar Sands.

Let’s try using some of his own style.

Andrew Nikiforuk lives in a dangerous Calgary neighbourhood frequented by crack users who have broken into one of his two gas guzzling cars to steal money, leading one to wonder if this is not simply the poor addict's attempt at saying “no” to the petro-jobs which would earn him substantially more income than the dollar his neglectful wife left behind.

There. See how easy that is?

You know, if one were to substitute any other group besides tar sands executives, it is very likely there would be a case here for a human rights tribunal hearing into hate literature.

I got to page 87 and could go no further.

Thank you to Douglas & McIntyre for the review copy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love our library

I really wish, at this moment, that I had pursued my Masters in Library Science, because right now, our library is looking for a new chief librarian.

As I am not qualified for this position, and I know there are a surprising number of people out there with library degrees, I thought I should post about this employment opportunity. If you happen to be interested in applying for the chief librarian position in our small coast town in British Columbia, or know anyone who would be interested, please check out the chief librarian job posting.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

When I was halfway through this book, I had to put it down to do something grown-up and houseworky, and I found myself thinking that I'd like to read this book my someday kidlets. (Which is a little bit ironic, given the story.)

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Inkheart when I bought it through Scholastic for my classroom (not that it actually made it to my classroom). I got a Neverending Story/Pagemaster/Here, There Be Dragons kind of vibe from it, but not quite. I'd also read Funke's The Thief Lord, and even though I enjoyed that book, I didn't have huge expectations for Inkheart. (I could have, though, and Inkheart would have exceeded them all brilliantly.)

So here's the scoop: Our main character is Meggie, whose father is a bookbinder, and they are both bookworms. Instead of becoming part of a book's story, though, Meggie's father has the ability to read things (including characters) out of a story. How cool is that?

But it does cause more than a few problems (as evidenced by this book's hefty 534 pages). Some of those characters who came out of the books were quite happy in their previous worlds and are none too happy with being stuck in this one. But worse are the ones who find this one quite to their liking . . .

Inkheart is fantastic fun. You should consider it--if not for yourself, then for the kids in your life.*

*Keep Inkheart in mind with the holidays coming up. Plus, the other two in this trilogy (Inkspell, Inkdeath) have been released, so you can get all three--no waiting! Also, if you're not familiar with the Buy Books for the Holidays movement, several book bloggers have begun a movement to try to boost the publishing business this year, and have committed to buying books as gifts when possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I gave up

Good bye, dreams of actually finishing NaNoWriMo! I just spent a week moving and unpacking, and we're not done yet, and I didn't write a word, except maybe an email to my mom, in that time.

Well, maybe next year, then.

Best wishes to all who're still trucking along!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What I mean when I say...

Amy, of My Friend Amy, posted a question on Twitter last week about an article in which an author took issue with some of the words reviewers used to describe her book (among other things). A few of the replies Amy received indicated to me that words to which I attribute certain connotations aren't necessarily taken that way by other readers, so I've decided to add a small glossary of what I mean by some of the more arguable adjectives we all tend to use. For example:

Light = not to be taken too seriously; this is could be positive or negative
Fast = I was on page 100 before I realized it/I totally lost track of time
Fluffy = light, with little or no substance (most chick lit will be called fluffy)
Warm = makes you feel all happy & glowy inside

Are there any other words I need to add to the glossary?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Sister by Poppy Adams

The Sister is the complex, dark story of sisters reunited in their 70's. The narrator, an old woman called Ginny, seems normal enough at first (for a lepidoptrist)--maybe with a touch of OCD. She and her sister grew up in a delapidating, generations-old mansion in the English countryside; when Vivian left home, she never came back--until now. And now she's less than forthcoming about her reasons for this late-in-life return; readers and Ginny suspect ulterior motives. (But maybe that's all in Ginny's head, too?)

Through the few days that Viv is home, Ginny is compelled to re-evaluate memories of growing up--many of which she'd rather not think about, and some of which she only touches upon but about which readers will want to know more (and be left unsatisfied).

Despite seemingly excessive information about moths (Ginny is an OCD lepidoptrist), The Sister is a good book. I'd recommend adding it to your fall reading stack if it's not already toppling. (Unreliable narrators tend to be better in the fall--don't you agree?)

Participants in next year's RIP challenge, assuming that there is another RIP challenge, may want to consider this book. It's not specifically a mystery or thriller, but it is a touch gothic--not to mention that the narrator is unhinged and there are questions regarding the circumstances of a death or two.

Many thanks to Deanna at HarperCollins Canada for sending me a review copy!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


You probably won't be getting many reviews from me this month, because I'm, once again, undertaking NaNoWriMo. So far, on day #2, I'm doing better than in any year past. Before this year I've never even bothered posting word counts. But I really want to finish it at least once, and I'll never have more time to do it, I suspect.

So, if any of you are also giving NaNoWriMo a go and want to add me to your buddy list, you can go to my NaNoWriMo page and add me from there.*

Good luck!

*Thus far, we seem to be having issues with an author search function to add writing buddies. I can't even find an author search, but I know it's supposed to be there...