Lindy Reads and Reviews
teen novels, comics, children's books, adult fiction, nonfiction... you name it!
Monday, March 13, 2023
February 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
January 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads
January favourites:Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson
I tried this in print last year but got bogged down in the extensive translator notes at the beginning. This time, I listened to the audio, performed by 10 different narrators, including Richard Flanagan (who wrote the foreword) and Omid Tofighian, who translated the work from Farsi. Kurdish Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani was illegally imprisoned by the Australian government. This book was smuggled out in text messages on a contraband phone. An AMAZING call for justice for asylum-seekers everywhere.
Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
A supernatural mystery and a coming-of-age, set in a contemporary Haisla community on British Columbia's west coast. It's the third time I've read this and it gets better every time.
Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin; audiobook read by a full cast
The print edition -- which consists of a verse narrative composed in three long sentences, set within stylized collage art created by Jason Griffin -- was my favourite YA book last year. It's about a boy coming to terms with the challenges of our world, including the Covid-19 pandemic and police brutality against Black bodies. I wasn't sure how it would translate to audio but it works. It REALLY works! There are two performances, one by author Jason Reynolds, followed by a full cast version. The audio edition also includes a conversation between the two Jasons.
Foster by Claire Keegan; audiobook read by Aoife McMahon
A small girl spends the summer with childless relatives in rural Ireland. From that unprepossessing outline, Claire Keegan has crafted a perfect novella about family secrets and the acquisition of wisdom. Beautiful and haunting.
Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us by Rachel Aviv; audiobook read by Andi Arndt
The connection between mental illness diagnosis and identity is explored with great sensitivity in this audiobook, beginning with the author's own experience of being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at age six.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; audiobook read by John Lee
This epic fantasy is a wild and wondrous ride, fully deserving of the many awards it has garnered. I was fully immersed in a steam-powered world shared by humans, bird people, insect people, frog people, cactus people and conscious metal constructs, and their love, loyalties and betrayals. 24 hours in audiobook, superbly performed by John Lee.
Ten Days In a Mad-House by Nellie Bly; audiobook read by Rebecca Gibel
A classic work of investigative journalism: Nellie Bly writes movingly of the shocking abuses she witnessed and experienced during her time undercover in a mental asylum. It was 1887; she was 23. Once inside, she acted as she normally did outside, but every doctor dismissed her claim to sanity and attempts to advocate on behalf of patients who were being mistreated. Her exposé yielded an investigation and improvements, a laudable achievement.
Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah
I had this on my shelves ever since it made the Giller longlist, then was spurred to pick it up because it's in the running for Canada Reads. Wow! I fell hard for the wonderful central character, widowed Muna, who escaped the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s by emigrating to Montreal with her young son.
Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au
It‘s cold and rainy in Japan in October, where the Chinese Australian narrator is travelling with her elderly mother. “[Writing] was the only way that one could go back and change the past, to make things not as they were, but as we wished they had been, or rather as we saw it.” The simple, self-reflective prose style of this novella grew on me until, by the end, I absolutely loved it and the way it left me feeling melancholy yet satisfied.
Creature: Paintings, Drawings, and Reflections by Shaun Tan
A collection of essays and gorgeous narrative artwork from a prodigiously talented Australian artist, Shaun Tan. There‘s something for every reader of every age when you open one of his books, including this one.
The Call of the Red-Winged Blackbird: Essays on the Common and Extraordinary by Tim Bowling
The first 74 pages contain nine philosophical essays, including "Should I Really Read The Remains of the Day in What Remains of My Days?" The second part is a long essay (195 pages)--"The Hermit's Smoke"--about the author's conflicted desire for solitude. Edmonton author Tim Bowling is considered a writer's writer, meaning that his language is exquisite. I really enjoyed his ruminations.
Waves by Ingrid Chabbert and Carole Maurel; translated by Edward Gauvin
A graphic novel that sensitively portrays a lesbian couple and their anguish after a stillbirth, and then the subsequent journey towards emotional wellbeing, based on Ingrid Chabbert's own experiences.
A qui appartiennent les nuages? by Mario Brassard and Gerard Dubois
Told from the viewpoint of a woman looking back on a traumatic time in her childhood during un unspecified war, this deeply moving Canadian graphic novel with vintage-style art captures the uncertainty of memories. When she was 9, she was afraid to fall asleep because every time she woke up, more of her world was destroyed. When she did sleep, it was always the same terrible dream of a line of people walking. Her family eventually joined the line. An English translation is now available. Age 9 to adult.
Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy and Janelle Washington
Angela Joy‘s outstanding picture book biography and history book is summed up by the subtitle: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement—and truly does justice to its subject. Distinctive papercut art by Janelle Washington manages to capture the love, dignity and strength. Lots of helpful back matter too. Ages 8 up. Adult readers: this would be a good book to pair with Percival Everett‘s The Trees.
Pink, Blue, and You!: Questions for Kids about Gender Stereotypes by Elise Gravel with Mykaell Blais
This appealing Canadian picture book about gender stereotypes is well-suited to its audience: children from preschool through to Grade 2. Author/illustrator Elise Gravel received the Rights and Freedoms Award in Quebec for “raising awareness and popularizing complex and sometimes taboo subjects among children.” Gravel worked with trans educator Mykaell Blais.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
“I love goat! Let me count the ways.”
I love authors who sneak in some exposure to Elizabeth Barrett Browning to preschoolers.
As expected from this brilliant duo—Barnett and Klassen—this picture book retelling is hilariously clever. It follows the traditional pattern, with surprises. The convention of the troll‘s poetic manner of speech has him fretting over what rhymes with strudel. The trick played on him by the first two goats becomes, in the troll‘s mind, his own doing. Goat number three is astonishingly huge. There‘s another big, bigger, biggest towards the end. Etc. Kidlit fun!
Maybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us by Kobi Yamada and Gabriella Barouch
An award-winning picture book with whimsical, dreamy illustrations and an inspirational message for all ages.
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett
Buffy Sainte-Marie says writing the song that has been made into this picture book was like “taking photos with my heart of the things that I see on the reserve.” Cree-Métis illustrator Julie Flett has contributed her gorgeous collage artwork. Sheet music is included at the end. This book is a celebration of nature and community, and a treasure for readers of all ages.
Saturday, December 31, 2022
Annual Reading Stats 2022
I like to look back on my reading at the end of the year, to see how well I'm doing in regards to my goals, which are to prioritize books authored by women, Indigenous, People of Colour, queer, and Canadian. In my efforts to read diversely, I also look for works in translation. I aim to maintain fluency by also reading books written in French. To that end, here are my stats in tasty pie charts:
A couple more interesting stats:
I re-read 10 books that I'd previously enjoyed
and abandoned (did not finish) 19.
December 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads
Nineteen out of the 42 books that I finished in December were so good that I gave them 5 stars on Goodreads. That's what I call an excellent reading month! My favourite books are listed below, roughly in order of preference, starting with the best.
Fayne by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka
Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi
The Short Story Advent Calendar, edited by Michael Hingston
Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams, audio read by the author
Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich
Amazona by Canizales
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice, audio read by the author
Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote, audio read by the author
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz, audio read by
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, audio read by Charlie Thurston
Thrust by Lidia Yuknavitch
Maya's Song by Renee Watson and Bryan Collier
Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family by Erika Hayasaki
Charlie Muskrat by Harold Johnson
The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure by Dan Werb, audio read by Jason Culp
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell, audio read by Genevieve Gaunt
Indelicacy by Amina Cain
Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, audio read by the authors
My stats for December:
There were two that I did not finish, and in both cases it was because I could tell that it was the wrong time for me to be reading that book, not because I didn't like it:
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Here are a dozen new literary references to Tim Hortons, which is my idiosyncratic ongoing personal project. For previous collections, click here.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
There was no place to put the trash - no bins, no Dumpster - and pickup was every other week. If you put trash outside, Bugsy [the racoon] got into it, so there was just an industrial-sized communal bag in the kitchen. With three people living there - sometimes four or five, as there was always a rotating cast of girlfriends and buddies and other persons of various origins washing up on our couch or on the floor - it piled up quickly, and the house often had the wet, rotten smell of hot garbage.
We didn't know much about addiction, about homelessness, but we knew how it could look. We'd watched a man nod into his own lap in the Tim Hortons on Abbott Street, had seen kids hawk lone red and white carnations in plastic sleeves to drivers on the interchange offramp. We'd heard the spellbound murmurs of the woman who sat all day at the bus shelter on Fillmore.
"Some stories I'm writing."
"Don't you have anything better to do?"
"Well, not really." I shuffled some of my other papers, hiding them out of sight. Our whole group had culture and language classes during the day, and I was about to start my calligraphy homework.
"You wrote this?" She cleared her throat and began reading from one of the papers: "'Our first kiss was in a twenty-four-hour Tim Hortons. She came back from the restroom and' blah blah blah."
"Whaddya mean decent?" rasped the fat platinum blonde. Pack a day minimum was Charlotte's bet.
My father felt the vehicle shake from the intersecting mid-city track spines. The old coal town grids remained part of the roadway, holding up traffic now and then for flour cars and even causing a few traffic deaths. He watched familiar landmarks and their darkened corridors and intersections pass by in the gloom. The dingy old mill, Overpass #1, Overpass #2, Emmett Card's Dodge Chrysler dealership, the first shopping mall ever built in Ezra, the northside Safeway converted into the Garfield Hockey Arena, the Ninth Avenue bridge and traffic circle, the roof of the homeless shelter down the slope near the old train junction, McDonald's, Tim Hortons, Walmart, Chinatown, and the three-storey boarding house. Arteries led out to the endless spill of fields -- wheat, canola, potatoes, mustard, barley. Where urban ended and rural began in Ezra was a mystery.
Black Friday, and we'd left Jeff's parents' to drive to Ontario after Thanksgiving. I didn't need to be back for work until the next night. He hadn't been to Niagara since he was a kid. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
The Surfside Inn was right on the Welland River, between a water treatment facility and a Tim Hortons. Old-timey sign on the roof, triangular planter boxes stuck with fake flowers between each room. The timber on the exterior was painted a shocking blue, the brickwork the colour of clotted cream. Jeff protested only a little before relenting. Through he didn't understand my affection for outmoded, cheesy Americana -- It just reminds me of being a kid, he'd say -- he had no more appetite for chain hotels than I did.
Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down
O Tauro maxed out at a buck twenty-five an hour and turned the radio knob until he got Rock 95 and blasted it nice and loud. The two of us hummed along and he butted a third or fourth or fifth cig into the hot clipping Highway 11 winds. We took an exit and joined a procession of cottagers who arrived on the north side of Sunshine City, where a morass of corner gas stations and townhouse rows, apartments and plazas greeted us.
We continued along to West Street, where a convenience store, a doughnut shop, a Little Caesars, a store called Big Apple, and other unassuming businesses formed a semicircle plaza. The only place that had any consistent traffic besides the gas station was a slow burning Timmys drive-thru and a stucco-themed KFC beside it.
Half Bads in White Regalia: A Memoir by Cody Caetano
After Bonnyville and to-go coffees from Timmys, we scoop south, down to Wainwright, and while we catch our breath from running from the parking lot to get close enough for our photo, we admire the big, fake bison. It's here because the real bison used to be here, and it's massive, and it makes me sad. But there's no time for sadness, to think about what we did to this earth, and the things living here. To think about what it was like when we were at the front of this thing, when we were on our first date, and not at the end.
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson
I suggested we meet at Timmy Ho's.
"Timmy Ho's?" the Posner impersonator queried, as if he was some guy from Chicago who had never heard of the place.
"Yes. Tim Hortons on Sixth."
"All right," he said, after a pause.
What did he think, I was going to suggest Starbucks and blow my grant money on a venti mocha frappuccino with him taking notes?
Mr Posner's cover was so blown. Plus that fake American accent was plain goofy. In any event, my dog noticed a squirrel on the windowsill and started barking incessantly. I couldn't hear anything else so I hung up.
'Vacuuming the Dog,' in Western Taxidermy by Barb Howard
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
November 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads
An Indigenous readathon called Skoden took place on booktube in November and I joined in with enthusiasm. I usually read a few books by Indigenous authors every month, but this month I read 21! That's more than half of the 40 books I read in November. I'm pleased to say that I learned a lot and also enjoyed the many new perspectives offered by reading a wide variety of Indigenous literature. See my video links below for further details.
Here are this month's stats.
Here are the covers of all 40 books that I finished in November.
These are the eleven best books of the month:
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm; David Robertson; Richard Van Camp; Katherena Vermette; Chelsea Vowel and others
H of H Playbook by Anne Carson, translation and adaptation of Heracles by Euripides
Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame, translation by Anne Ishii
The Power of Story by Harold R Johnson
Rave by Jessica Campbell
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson
The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley
The two books I tried and then abandoned in November:
Links to booktube videos I uploaded in November:
Finalists for Canada's GG Award for Fiction 2022
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
October 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads
Grateful as I have been for online events during the covid pandemic, I was so happy to attend the Vancouver Writers Fest in person this year. I went to 8 events and walked a lot. Vlogs of my Vancouver biblioadventures are linked at the bottom of this post.
These are my favourite books of October:
Alberta and Freedom by Cora Sandel
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make by Michael Hathaway
Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King, audiobook read by Pete Cross, Jane Yolen, AS King, Maggi-Meg Reed et al
Finding Edward by Sheila Murray
Aki-Wayn-Zih: A Person as Worthy as the Earth by Eli Baxter
Mina by Matthew Forsythe
Time Zone J by Julie Doucet
Here are my October stats:
Covers of the 30 books I finished:
Uploads on my booktube channel, Lindy's Magpie Reads:
3 minutes of highlights from a 3-hour walk through Stanley Park