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review 2018-04-06 23:44
Water monsters and other beasts in the prewar Okanagan
Our Animal Hearts - Dania Tomlinson

Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book via the Goodreads Giveaways program.


I generally find literary novels to be a challenge to review/rate because they often aren't the sort of thing that you 'like'. They're not asking to be liked or to provide entertainment in the same way genre fiction does. So when I say I didn't like this book, that's not meant as a criticism, exactly. It was an engaging, well-written piece of fiction and an excellent debut.

Iris is a preteen of British descent living in the Okanagan around the turn of the last century. Her working-class Welsh mother prefers to be called by her first name, drifts around their fanciful house with her pet peacock generally defying propriety, and tells alarming legends or fairy stories. Her father is upper-class English and generally absent. Iris's mother may be a seer, a character from legend, a madwoman, an abusive parent, an epileptic, an abused child, unfaithful, or a mother of monsters. Iris is her mother's daughter and lives in her mother's world of magic and monsters. It is not a kind world.


I would have enjoyed more emphasis on the supernatural elements, and less of the dark heart of man, but that's not the sort of book this is. It reminded me of Gone With The Wind - selfishness, pettiness, jealousy, cruelty and a lack of taking responsibility for one's actions wrapped up in a story about coming of age as your world falls to the violence and loss of wartime. This is not a book about the redemptive power of stories. It is not a story about using magic to escape or defeat darkness.


However, there is much to like. The setting - a tiny lakefront settlement in the Okanagan in the early 1900s - is tangible, rich, earthy and otherworldly by turns and all at once. I appreciated the nuanced portrayal of diverse communities, both their existence and the challenges they faced. I hadn't previously been aware of a significant Japenese community in the Okanagan working the orchards, and while the book doesn't quite cover both wars, it does stretch up to the Japanese internment tragedy. The First Nations community exist mostly as ghosts or a marginal presence, quite literally unseen or half-seen at the edges of things, and the tension between British-descent Canadians and immigrants, and other white (specifically Eastern-European) immigrants and their children was also handled well. Supernatural elements similarly feature a blending of influences, most strongly in the water monster in the lake, who is referred to by Welsh, First Nations, and Japanese terms.


This story is both beautiful - ethereal, intricate, magical - and horrific in its portrayal of humanity. Its excellent quality, historical detail, imaginative format, and philosophical positioning will likely make it a polarizing read, with both fervent fans and those who won't appreciate its uniqueness. I wouldn't be surprised to see it shortlisted in more than a few of next year's literary prizes.

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review 2018-04-06 04:03
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach - Kelly Robson

Our 80-something main character, Minh, is an ecologist bidding on a project to do an ecological survey in the past (approx 2000 BCE) in a future about 250 years from now where humans have just started to reclaim the surface of the Earth. Medical technology is quite advanced, so I'm not sure how much like an 80-year old she actually looks (maybe she'd pass for 50-60?), but it wasn't so advanced to avoid the plague that cost her her legs (the reason she walks around on six prosthetic tentacle-legs).


This was interesting, but it took half the novella just to build the team and the proposal and get to the past, and I wasn't sure how I felt about Kiki and what she did. I would be curious enough to look into other things that Kelly Robson has written, however. I hadn't read her before. She is Canadian, though, which is always a plus (I know there are lots of Canadian authors, but sometimes it feels like they're drowned out by everyone else even in Canada). Minh is based in Calgary, naturally. Or the hab that is located on what used to be Calgary and is thus called Calgary.


There is a double narrative thread that is weaved throughout (starting each chapter) that only pays off towards the end, but I'm not sure I liked it enough to reread it just to appreciate that part more.

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review 2018-04-05 03:11
Bedtime For Monsters - Ed Vere
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A fantastic bedtime story that is a little bit scary and a lot a bit fun. Great for kids who like monsters. Simple illustrations and text, that make up a hilarious, entertaining read. 

This will be an instant favorite to be read again and again. It's a nice, quick book sure to delight. Great read.
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text 2018-04-02 02:55
Library Books, Updated
The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines - Shohreh Aghdashloo
The Boat People - Sharon Bala
Northwest Garden Manifesto: Create, Restore, and Maintain a Sustainable Yard - John Albers,David F. Perry
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach - Kelly Robson
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate - Zoe Quinn
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor
In Other Lands - Sarah Rees Brennan,Carolyn Nowak

Checked Out

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines - Shohreh Aghdashloo (DUE 04-13-18)

The Boat People - Sharon Bala  (DUE 04-27-18)

Northwest Garden Manifesto: Create, Restore, and Maintain a Sustainable Yard - John Albers, David F. Perry (DUE 05-04-18)

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach - Kelly Robson  (DUE 05-10-18)


On Hold

New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson   (In Transit)

Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty   (1 of 1 holds)

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate - Zoe Quinn  (1 of 1 holds)

Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor  (1 of 1 holds) 

In Other Lands - Sarah Rees Brennan,Carolyn Nowak  (1 of 1 holds)

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris   (2 of 2 holds)

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review 2018-03-19 18:54
What's Izzy up to?
Hilo Book 4: Waking the Monsters - Judd Winick

Judd Winick's series continues with book 4 titled Waking the Monsters and we find ourselves back with HiLo and his friends as they continue to fight off the monsters that are being unleashed on earth by Razorwark. Two heroes are born: Comet and Star Burst. This is the book where we finally discover just exactly why Razorwark wants to destroy humanity and where all of the robots are coming from. If you've been following the series from the beginning, you'll be happy to learn that Gina finally expresses her true feelings about being a cheerleader to her mom. Eagle-eyed readers should pay special attention to the background of the illustrations for an especially funny jab at the U.S. government (unless you're a Trump supporter in which case you probably won't think it's that funny). It continues to be an action packed, humorous book about friendship and doing the right thing. Winick knows how to capture his audience's attention and keep it even when books are spread out (the next is sadly not due out until 2019). You're not even ready for the ending of this one, guys! I think the best part about reading the HiLo series is that I have quite a few kids here at the branch that are reading it right along with me. Since I'm always here I have the benefit of reading it first so when they come and check out the shelves and see it I can gush about how much they're going to like it. (Maybe I crow over reading it before them a bit but that's neither here nor there.) 10/10 for readability and 'inside' jokes + making a connection with my kids.


An example of the humor. [Source: Bam Smack Pow]


What's Up Next: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


What I'm Currently Reading: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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