Monday, June 26, 2017

CHALLENGE: Canada Book Challenge

As we get ready to start the second decade of The Canadian Book Challenge, only one thing has changed - the host. John at The Book Mine Set has handed over the reins to Melwyk at The Indrextrious Reader, feel free to read about the challenge here. Thanks to John for starting and keeping it going, and to Mel for continuing.

Read thirteen books by or about Canada or Canadians, and post a review somewhere online. I never have any trouble reading 13 books, but I don't always get 13 reviewed - I'm working on it. The point of reviewing is to start a discussion and share these great Canadian books and authors.

This year, in honour of Canada 150, I'm planning to read 13 fiction and 13 nonfiction books. That goal is really part of 2017 so it carries over between last year and this year's challenge. It'll all work out somehow.

Some of the books I'm looking at to read include:

This is Not My Life - Diane Schoemperlen
The Tiger - John Vaillant
Stories About Storytellers - Douglas Gibson
Gone to an Aunts - Anne Petrie
Susannah Moodie - Carol Shields
Paper Shadows - Wayson Choy

The Diviners - Margaret Laurence
Landing - Emma Donaghue
Against a Darkening Sky - Lauren B Davis
The Glass Harmonica - Russell Wangersky
Rockbound - Frank Parker Day
Bachelor Brother's Bed and Breakfast - Bill Richardson

Saturday, June 24, 2017

SERIES: plucky British ladies of the 1930s

I've been doing quite well in some ongoing series this year. Here's two lighter mysteries, starring those plucky British ladies of the 1930s, Maisie Dobbs and Her Royal Spyness.

Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
#12 Journey to Munich (audiobook)
#13 In This Grave Hour

I wasn't happy with the Maisie series after book 11. It essentially reset the series and now instead of dealing with effects of WW1, Maisie is becoming involved in the beginning of WW2, moving on and leaving a large number of previous characters just home in England.
I listened to Journey to Munich, and it wasn't as compelling to me as some of the other books. I'm not convinced I'm liking this new reset.

In This Grave Hour brings Maisie back to the best parts of the series. Billy and Sandra at the office, with small stories for them, Frankie and Brenda (Maisie's dad and step-mom) butting into her life, The Compton's and their estate, and Maisie's friend Priscilla Partridge and her boys. There is a mystery going on which dates back to WW1, while WW2 has just been declared. Maisie is showing some interest in Richard Stratton (who sounds like he is working at Bletchley Park). It's all the good stuff about Maisie mysteries that has been missing in the previous two books. I'm pleased with the return!

Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
#8 Queen of Hearts 
#9 Malice at the Palace 
#10 Crowned and Dangerous 

Georgianna Rannoch, 34th in line to the throne and smitten with Darcy O'Mara, keeps getting in scrapes and finding dead people. These cozy mysteries are one of the few cozies that I enjoy. I usually prefer my mysteries as crime, with detectives investigating. There is something fun about this 1930s-era stories as Georgie runs in the royal circles, being as rude as she is able to Mrs Wallace, and dealing with her wayward maid, Queenie.

Nothing in particular about any of these mystery stories, but the back stories of Georgie's friend Belinda, Darcy becoming much more attentive, her kind brother and her mean sister-in-law keep each new book interesting.
I started this series in late 2014, and now am up to date, and waiting for the next book, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service, expected in August 2017.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Series I've Been Meaning to Start

Cool! This is a topic that was originally posted in March 2013, and I wrote a post then. Time to check in and have a little reckoning on my list-making skills (and follow-through).  Check out The Broke and the Bookish for future lists, and the find all the other participants.

1. Mo Hayder's Jack Caffery series (5 books) 
Excellent! There ended up being 7 books and I read them all. Loved Jack Caffery! This one is at the edge of my violent description levels, but I really enjoyed the series.

2. Laurie R King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series (12 books)
Oops! Haven't started this yet, and now there are 15 books in the series.

3. George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series
This doesn't surprise me that I haven't started this series, and some day I will because I know they are really good. 

4. Karin Slaughter's series with Georgia (3 books), Will Trent, and Sara Linton
The labeling of these series can be confusing. I've read the 8 books in the Will Trent series, and Sara Linton shows up in the later books. This was a good police series; I probably listened to half the books. 

I'm at 50 %  series read so far!

5. Kate Ellis' Wesley Peterson mysteries (17 books)
Nope, haven't read any, but I've picked up 3 of them at book sales.  And now there are 21 books. Yikes!

6. Amitov Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy
I still want to read this trilogy.

7. Michael Stanley's Assistant Superintendent David 'Kubu' Bengu (3 books)
Starts with A Carrion Death, and now there are 7 books. I feel like there is a chance I'll start this series.

8. Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death (5 books)
There were only 4 books, and Ms Franklin died, but I loved this series set in the 12th century. Read them all!

9. Declan Hughes' Ed Loy mysteries (5 books)
Well, I forgot all about this series, and I'm pretty sure I have the first book, The Wrong Kind of Blood. Still only 5 books - seems readable.

10. Anchee Min's Empress Orchid series (2 books)
You'd think I could read a 2 book series, but apparently not yet.

So, final tally - 3 series read, but I read them completely, so that counts for something! I thought I was going to list the books I had already added to my FictFact lists, because I had 9 new series already listed there. None of them are the ones I never read from my list 4 years ago. 

Here's the 9 from FictFact. I add new series as I read good reviews, so I won't forget. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

BOOK: I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (9 h 52 min)

This was fun! And I'm not really a biology person, but I do like science. The information in this book felt very up to date, like listening to cutting-edge science. What do we know about microbes? Not very much overall, but it seems to be a developing field.

I've never been an anti-bacterial soap person, and, anecdotally, I'm fairly bacteria-free, having only had several doses of antibiotics in my life. I do pick up viruses, but I seldom get bacterial infections. I must host a well-rounded multitude of microbes! 

Have you seen the microbe stuffed animals? They make microbes almost look adorable.
I'm not even completely sure about all I listened to, but Yong had a great writing voice and narrator Charlie Anson was engaging and enthusiastic with the material. I would read more, or at the very least, re-read this and feel like I am still learning new ideas. There is just so much to learn about the interactions between good and bad microbes, the evolutionary skills of bacteria and virusus and phages, symbiosis, and probiotics (the opposite of antibiotics).

My favourite microbe that appears throughout the book was Wolbachia, present in insects and sometimes is good and sometimes is bad. I'm not even sure what it does, but it seems necessary, and there was something funny to me about how often Wolbachia kept showing up in a new chapter. 

Think of all the television shows which showed - 'how many germs/bugs are present on your (fill in the blank)'. The problem was these were presented as bad things, as dangerous microbes, when in reality, the balance of microbes is necessary. So there are billions of microbes - they are supposed to be there! And many of them are the good ones, necessary to deal with the bad ones. This wasn't presented in the book, it is my analysis and opinion of things, which is why I've never been an anti-bacterial soap, or Purex person. 

Microbial scientists are doing great work, and fighting a battle against society's inherent disgust over these bugs. More people should read this book to get on board with these invisible creepy crawlies.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Nonfiction books I've added to by TBR recently

The topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday is books from 'x' genre that have been recently added to my TBR pile. I chose nonfiction, and I looked at my lists at librarything and my library to see what I've recently added. Thanks to all you reviewers out there who give me all these great ideas!
Check out The Broke and the Bookish for future lists, and the find all the other participants.

by Candace Savage
I find crows fascinating! Each summer, there is a March of Crows in Charlottetown, where people dress up as crows and march to the park where all the real crows return each evening. Caw, caw!

by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Moss doesn't sound like it would be interesting, but when a person who has a passion for something writes about a seemingly mundane idea, it doesn't matter the topic: it will be good.

by Steven Johnson
Victorian era London is always interesting, and add an infectious disease? Sounds like gold! 

Bad science : Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks 
I like good science, I like bad science, I like all science

Krakauer is always on his game (Into Thin Air, and Into the Wild) so I expect no less on this one.

by Norm MacDonald
This one so interested me that I have it out from the library right now. Uncle Rusty from The Middle tells a good story. (Plus, Canadian!)

by Luke Dittrich
Something I read last year (maybe Moonlighting with Einstein, about memory) mentioned this book. Brain research is cool.

H is for Hawk 
by Helen MacDonald
I've heard this one is good on audio, so I am waiting for my library to get the audio version.

This is Not My Life: a memoir of love, prison, and other complications 
by Diane Schoemperlen
Another Canadian book, I found this one on the Taylor Prize for Nonfiction writing as a finalist.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the  History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements 

by Sam Kean

Nonfiction titles have the best subtitles! I still remember that grade eleven chemistry class, learning about the periodic table and how it all fit together, and how Mendeleev knew where to leave blanks and being blown away. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AUTHOR: Alistair MacLeod

Alistair MacLeod (1934-2014)  is a Canadian treasure. He didn't written a ton of books (one novel, a few short story collections) but he packed a huge punch in what he wrote. While in university, I took a course called Maritime Studies and the professor, David Weale, took us on a tour of Maritime culture. Music, language, history, culture, and literature. The main thing I remember though is reading a story called  Lost Salt Gift of Blood. I later went back and read the whole book, and all the rest of MacLeod's writings. Another thing that Alistair produced was his son, Alexander, who also writes wonderful short stories, see Light Lifting.

I went through a little Alistair MacLeod spell this spring...

To Everything There is a Season by Alistair MacLeod (short story)

Dear little Christmas story set in 1940s, waiting for the older brother to come home on Christmas eve. It's a story about family, and remembering, and nostalgia, tinged with sorrow. 

I think it is a book I'd like to have to my Christmas book collection, so read once a year, like A Child's Christmas in Wales or Dave Cooks the Turkey. You know, classics.

Reading Alistair MacLeod

NFB of Canada DVD

I was able to borrow this DVD from my local library and enjoy the legend of Canadian literature. Typical delightful NFB film with no narrator, just conversations and people answering questions that have clearly been asked, but the viewer doesn't get to hear.

Featuring Alistair MacLeod ; with appearances by Margaret Atwood, David Adams Richards, Russell Banks, Colm Tóibín, Lisa Moore and Wayne Johnston.

A documentary that explores the mysteries of MacLeod's creative process, his deep and abiding connection to Cape Breton, his explosion onto the international literary scene with his first novel, No Great Mischief, and his love of family. Woven into the documentary are commentaries by other authors such as Margaret Atwood who read their favorite passages from his work and sharing their personal stories.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BOOK: Knucklehead by Matt Lennox

Knucklehead by Matt Lennox, 320 pages 

Kuncklehead came to my attention when it was on the longlist for Canada Reads this year. There weren't a lot of books that caught my attention, but this one had mystery associated with it, so I decided to give it a try.

Ashley Rosco is a small town Ontario young guy, going no where. He's bouncing at the local club, working out and competing in body building. He's in love with his best friend's girl who also happens to be his cousin. Yeah, things get a bit icky here because they fool around too. 

And yet, I liked Ashley and hoped he could get his life together. His family is messed up and Ash has his own issues. He's that young guy with no ambitions, just hanging out with his old life, doing drugs, on the edge of society, but senses that he could be doing better.

The mystery is when his cousin, Chastity, goes missing. He gets a bit obsessed, and the story he narrates goes back in forth, growing up times, present time, and times with Chastity. His friend Darren is definitely heading in a dangerous direction with his really bad news father. 

Things get pretty gritty - guns and drugs and fights. Somewhere around half way through I really got into the story, and the mystery of Chas started ramping up. 

Certainly not a book I would have ever found myself or picked up, but I ended up liking it quite a lot.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. The topic this week is Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017. I have lots of books already to read, so most of the books I'm anticipating are from tried and true series. I'm looking forward to seeing what books other people are looking forward to. 

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen (August 1st)
What's up with Georgie and Darcy? Book 11 in this fun cozy mystery

Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta  (August 2017)
I've enjoyed two other Perrotta books quite a lot, so I thought I'd take a chance on his latest book. (The Leftovers, Little Children)

The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest van der Kwast  (August 1st)
This cover is so delightful, and I feel like an Italian book

Glass Houses by Louise Penny  (August 29th)
Book #13 of the Three Pines crowd

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith (Nov 7th)
Another Precious book, #18

The Paris Spy (August 2017)
I'm actually one behind here, so once I get The Queen's Accomplice read, this one will be out.

New Boy by Tracey Chevalier (now)
I'm waiting for the library to get the latest Chevalier book in. It is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare retelling series. It has been released, but fairly recently and I'm waiting. Chevalier is one of my reliable authors, but this is her first non historical novel.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BOOKS: Leftover Nonfiction

I am trying to review all the nonfiction books I read this year. Let's file these under - Not all Nonfiction Books Will Be My Favourite Reads

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe - Thomas Cahill, 246 pages

I read the introduction which told how, because it was isolated, books survived in Ireland that were destroyed in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire in the early centuries AD and then spread Christianity during the Dark Ages. That's the main point and after reading the rest of the book, I don't know a whole lot more than that. There's a nice background on Saint Patrick and I have increased my still slight knowledge of the Dark Ages.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible - AJ Jacobs (audiobook)

This idea of picking a crazy idea and then writing a book seems to have reached its nadir here. It started with a secular, not very religious guy wondering what to teach his son about religion, and then he decides to live the Bible, Old Testament, for a year. There is some humour and you can tell he is writing this to be a book. I guess I see a difference between doing something, and then writing about it after, versus deciding to write a book about something and then chronicling it as you go. There is a level of artificiality to this, like a reality show that follows famous people on their very contrived adventures. 

A lot of the tasks seem to be doing them just to do them, or finding loopholes to do a different version of things. However, he treats the people he talks to with respect, and his effort at prayer and meditation were getting somewhere. His wife was a saint throughout this. A saint.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition - Michael Pollen (audiobook)

I previously listened to Pollen's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and only found it okay. This was the last of last summer's YA Sync I listened to and it was very similar to In Defense of Food. Pollen makes good points, and he doesn't say anything is good or bad, just presents the different facts.  It really is a dilemma! There is a level of judgement though and I find myself arguing what ever point he is making as I listen. 

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old With Autism  - Naoki  Higashido, 176 pages

I feel bad not liking this book because it is written by a thirteen year old with autism, sharing his experiences and reasons why he does the things he does. It is written as a somewhat guide to dealing with kids with autism with Naoki wrting questions and then answering them based on his experience. I felt there was too much generalizations as I can't imagine that every autistic child is experiencing the world the same way he does. However, I imagine that even seeing his explanation of why things happen they way they do could be insightful.
There were some very beautiful sketches between chapters.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BOOK: The Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

The Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (9 h 38 min) read by Erin Bennett

I haven't seen Hidden Figures or read that book, but I would imagine the same basic information is covered. I'll have to try Hidden Figures to compare. 

Starting in the 1930s and the rise of rocket technology, The Rise of the Rocket Girls follows the roles that women played in JPL (Jet Propulsion Labs) as they develop rockets for NASA. Women who were strong in math (yay for women in math!) were hired as computers, to do the calculations.

Holt examines the role of many women as they were hired, as they dealt with getting married, working with children, and providing the expertise needed. I couldn't always keep all the women straight, and sometimes Holt goes into way too much detail (the ball game were the last couple outs of the game on television were described. Really?)

Overall, this was a decent read and showing the contribution of women to science in space technology. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

AUTHOR: Jess Walter

Somewhere along the internet, I heard great things about Jess Walter. His books were often on the 'Best Of' lists at the end of the year. I confess, I'm easily influenced by book lists. Unfortunately, some of the books that get listed for awards or Best Of' leave me bored. I'm particularly thinking of Michael Coetzee. Sometimes the themes and writing style that literary critics like is not what I particularly like. So I was surprised to buy my second book by Walter without having read the first. Risky!
Lucky to report, I quite liked Walter's style and both books I've read this year.

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter, 292 pages
Edgar Award Novel 2006

1980s, a week before the presidential election between Carter and Reagan, and Vince Camden, donut maker and small time crook, gets a registered voter's card. This might not seem a big deal, but it is for Vince, who is in the Witness Protection Plan, and was a felon. Vince is trying to live a 'regular' life but finds it a little dull. When he notices someone in Spokane that he recognizes from his former life, life stops being quite so dull.
I really liked this book. The juxtoposition of the election against the mob mentality plus Vince is a guy you kind of hope for, even though he was a rat and a bad guy before. I also liked the 80s setting and the real life events that were happening at the same time. Second book this year with the Iranian hostage story! see also Argo
Walter's writing is so much plot and characters, but the writing is also solid, making me feel I'm reading more than just a genre mystery fiction book. As well, there is a humour present in the descriptions, as well as a crime noir feel.  I feel the higher level of writing, but it doesn't overwhelm me or intimidate/bore me with descriptions or themes. Walter accomplishes a lot in this book, especially keeping me entertained.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, 352 pages
NYT Notable Books 2012

This was probably the book that made me notice Walter, a lot because, how gorgeous is that cover? A little village in Italy - divine.
Many strands in this book - I saw it described as 'braided narrative' at Tournament of Books, keep the pages turning.
In 1962 a young American actress takes a break from filming Anthony and Cleopatra in Rome (and yes, Richard Burton makes a cameo later in the book) and arrives at the most out of the way village in Italy, to stay at the Hotel of Adequate View. ha!
Also, present day Hollywood with an old producer guy. And rural Montana with a semi rock star. And a story within a story written from the same village by an American army guy.
Some stories work better than others, but the plot strands kept me interested. Trying to see how the people were connected is always the best part of braided narratives. I liked this one, it was different than many books I read, and I'd read more books by Jess Walter.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

BOOK: A Tap at the Window by Linwood Barclay

A Tap at the Window by Linwood Barclay , 480 pages

Every now and then I like a good paperback suspense read and Linwood Barclay is who I turn to. His books, previously I've read Fear the Worst,  Too Close to Home, and No Time for Goodbye, are all the same with twisty, tight plots and realistic characters. His writing is very good, with little extra prose; I never feel like this could have been shorter. These would be excellent beach or travel books.

Here we have a private investigator from upstate New York dealing with the death of his teenage son from drug use/suicide. One night Cal picks up a girl who is looking for a drive and recognizes him as Scott's dad and while he knows it is not a good idea to drive a young girl, he wants to talk about Scott and maybe get new information. Things go weird with Claire and thus sets us off on the hunt for Claire. Cal is related to the police chief, and Claire is the mayor's daughter so everything is related. And that's the end of my informatioin because Barclay's books are all about the revelations and the search for answers.

I would always pick up a Barclay book at a book sale or from the library and know that I am getting a great suspense book!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BOOK: A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold (11 h 25 min)

Sue Klebold writes a very difficult book, putting herself and her family under the microscope and open to much judgement. Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, half of the duo who perpetrated the Columbine killings. 

I was feeling rather judgey at the beginning of the book, because until she explains more of what happens, nearly everyone's reaction, including mine, is to wonder how this could happen in her house without her knowing. But I should have realized it is possible: ultimately, no one ever really knows any other person. You can never say 'He or she would never do that," because no one can ever know. This book really solidifies this idea.

Part of the book details Dylan's life growing up which seemed pretty normal. Nothing stands out and after the fact, in any family, things may have happened that you could look at. Klebold is brutally honest, but who knows what got left out? 

Part of the book deals with the aftermath, as they were grieving their son's death, but were not permitted to be a part of the community's losses. Easy to see both sides of that situation. I was struck by the outpouring of support from across the country the Klebolds got and I was impressed with the people who recognized their loss. Very generous in the wake of such horror. 

There seems to be consensus that Dylan and Eric Harris were suffering from different mental issues. Dylan was suicidal depressive while Eric was homicidal psychopath - bad mix together. Klebold missed that Dylan was depressed. I found this very timely, as a previous student of mine had committed suicide just the week before I read this book. Nobody realized he was depressed. I appreciated the background and research into suicide that Klebold provided in the book. 

The role the school and the school culture played was significant. As teachers, we get to see a different side to students that parents may not, and therefore we can play a role in helping and preventing tragedies. She includes some interviews with people who were not surprised that someone at Columbine snapped which forces a discussion of school culture.

This is a difficult book to read. Klebold toes a fine line between helping to examine what led to her son murdering people and the child she thought she knew. Accepting some blame but not knowing what she could have changed. Dealing with her own grief and guilt. Hopefully it contributes to the mental health discussion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

BOOK: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (7 h 18 min)

What makes a person a success? Hard work and pluck? Malcolm Gladwell takes his 'anecdotes to explain theories' book concept to examine success. What makes these outliers work?

I feel I've read this before although I know I haven't. Some of the ideas from the book have already become ingrained in our collective understanding of success. 

For example, Gladwell examines the role that birth month has on successful hockey players. We now realize that players born in January, February and March are much more likely to make it to the NHL. They are just that much older and bigger in the beginning of minor hockey when 7 and 8 year olds begin to play. Their slight age advantage makes them stand out, and get picked for travelling teams. They get better coaching and more practice and thus progress faster. And suddenly, it's not necessarily hard work and natural talent that gets you to the NHL - being born in January is an automatic advantage.

I am also already familiar with the 10,000 hours idea - that it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice of anything to become an expert. That's why overnight successes are never that, the hours of practice have been put in.  Did you know that of the biggest names in computer technology - Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and some other technology icons were born within eight months of each other.  They were in the right spot at the right time to become interested and have the ability to work with computers at the same time.

Other examples he covers in this book related to the culture you are born into include: why Asians are better in math, why South Korean airlines had so many accidents in the 90s, how feud fights in Eastern Kentucky and a culture of honour also seen in the southern states relate back to a Scottish/Irish shepherding background. It's all quite fascinating!

I can see how this book led to his book David and Goliath, and maybe even includes leftover research. They cover the same theme: success is not based on what you think it might be. Success is more to do with luck of location or hereditary, and what we perceive as a disadvantage may not actually be one. 

Gladwell narrates his own books and he has a good style. His books are so interesting and he covers so many ideas, I could easily re-listen to any of his books again and still feel like I am learning new things.

Monday, May 22, 2017

BOOK: Field Notes by Sara Jewell

Field Notes: A City Girl's Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia by Sara Jewell  232 pages

Sara Jewell writes 'Field Notes' for her local paper in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. This book is a collection of her essays and articles put together chronicling her adjusting to life in rural Nova Scotia after moving from Vancouver. 

Jewell feels she has always been a rural girl who never happened to live in a rural area, having grown up in Ontario. She had spent some summers in the Pugwash area growing up, and her parents had a cottage there. So when she is suddenly getting a divorce, her first reaction is to leave Vancouver and head to Pugwash and her parent's cottage. 

The essays are short but so well-written. Jewell's love of her new life, and appreciation for nature and small town life shines through. After a few years, she meets a local boy and they get married. I thought the book would be a linear narrative of her life after she moves to NS, but once I realized it was previously written essays, I was good and just loved the book. I read a few chapters each day to extend out the enjoyment of these lovely views of life. Jewell's voice is strong and by the end, I felt like I knew her and if I was in Pugwash area, we could get together for a coffee and chat.

I'm not sure how available this book is across Canada. I bought it while in Nova Scotia at a Chapters and I'm sure you could order it online. It is also available at my local Indigo in the 'Local Interests' area. Cumberland County is just across the Northumberland Strait from PEI and I was familiar with some of the areas making this more personal for me. I loved the sketches on the cover and the only thing that would have made this book better would have been including the sketches throughout the book. 

Jewell's blog looks like an extension of the essays that were combined in the book, so if you want a little taste of Field Notes, check it out.