Saturday, June 30, 2012


Canada, by Richard Ford is my first Goodreads First-Reads win!  (And my first ARC.)  It made me very excited to read the book... Besides the fact that the novel had one of the best opening lines I've read in a long time.

"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."

Even if I didn't win the book, how could I resist a line like that?  (Right after I found out I won it, I saw it on a huge display table while out shopping.  It made me so happy.)

Canada was a deep, thought-provoking novel.  It was brilliantly, artistically written.  Canada is the story of Dell Parsons’ fifteenth year.  It was the most important year of his life, given that’s when the robbery and murders happened.  

I spent the first half of the book wanting to know what happened to Dell’s parents.  I spent the second half hoping Dell doesn’t have a hand in the murders.  I was so eager to read about how Dell’s parents ended up committing a robbery.  There was so much build-up.  I started to feel like Ford was taking a long time to get to the robbery.  He described every scene in vivid detail.  He described the complexities of fifteen-year-old Dell’s emotions.  It was beautifully written, but I felt it was too long, especially since we knew the outcome – the robbery.

The second half was more interesting.  There was still a lot of description, but I felt that because we didn’t know for certain who was going to be murdered and exactly who was going to be the murderer, there was more of a mystery.  Though, this is not a mystery novel.  I’ve seen it categorized as such, but when you find out the ending at the beginning, there isn’t much of a mystery.

(Minor Spoilers) One problem I had with the novel was the title.  I expected more Canada to be in, Canada.  The first half of the novel takes place in Montana.  Canada is only mentioned twice in passing.  Each time I got a little excited, but then nothing.  It’s not until Part Two that the story finally shifts to Canada, specifically Saskatchewan.  Maybe the book should have been titled “Saskatchewan,” but I don’t think it would sell as well.  Canada, its differences from America and its role as a destination of escape is important by the end of the book.  I suppose the title had me expecting something different.  If the author was actually Canadian (he lives in Maine), it might have had more of what I had expected.  Now that I write this, you know what?  The title was fine.  It was just me. (End Spoilers)

Richard Ford managed to create a character that felt like a real person.  You could believe that Dell Parsons was a teacher, with a big secret.  He could be anyone.  He could have been your high school teacher or your next door neighbour.  Dell's voice was thoughtful and introspective, like someone really looking back at their life.  It almost felt like you were reading a memoir.  I really enjoyed the tone and the feeling it gives you.  It invites the reader to really connect with Dell.  If you like deep, thought-provoking, literary fiction with a twist, then pick up Richard Ford’s Canada.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Am Without Job

I’m on maternity leave.  It ends today.  When did I find out about losing my job?  Officially, yesterday.  Yup.  That’s right.  They day before my maternity leave ends, I find out I’ve lost my job.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Tuesday is when my supervisor called me to come in on Thursday (yesterday) so we could “discuss” my job situation.  We talked for a minute and he basically said that they were “restructuring,” making cuts and one of those cuts would be me.

So, I will be actively looking for a job with no money coming in.  They did give me my severance and I have unused vacation time to be paid out.  So, it’s not like I’ll have no money, but once that’s gone, it’s done.  I better find a job before it runs out.  The longest you can be on Employment Insurance is one year.  That’s how long maternity leave is and EI is what pays that.  I don’t qualify for anymore because I haven’t worked in a year.

I’m not getting laid off because I was on maternity leave.  If I thought that, I would be way more angry and calling the Ministry of Labour.  I know that it’s a legitimate lay-off, one of many that they’re doing at the company.  Honestly, while it is extremely upsetting to be laid-off in general and specifically now, I don’t want to disparage the company I was working for.  I especially don’t want to say anything bad about the individuals I worked for and with.  I have some great co-workers.  I had some great supervisors.  I felt that they were unhappy about letting me go and having to let other people go too.

What is making me crazy is the fact that I won’t get any EI money.  I mean, I was on mat leave!  I wasn’t unemployed for a year.  I went on mat leave expecting to have a job when it was done.  If I knew they were going to lay me off, I would have looked for a new job, but I didn’t know.  According to them, they didn’t know either.  But it doesn’t matter, because the money maxes out at one year, no matter the circumstances.  Even though I expected to go back to work in just a handful of days, and now I’m not.  Now, I have to scramble to find something to pay the bills.  I know that there are rules, but my “good-bye letter” states the date of my termination as after the end of my Maternity leave.  Again, that doesn’t matter.

So if I’m stressed out, unable to concentrate on anything, this is why.  I finished my last book days ago, I had even started writing the review, but I haven’t been able to focus enough to finish it.  I haven’t read anything, watched a movie or really done anything fun.  I’m trying to be my normal self for the children, but I think they can tell something is wrong.  I’m just trying not to freak out.  I’m trying not to get overly emotional.  I’m trying to hold myself together and figure out what to do.  I know what to do, find a job ASAP!  Am I going to be able to?  I don’t know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It’s Hot Out Here: Part 2

Another heated top ten from The Broke and The Bookish.  Last week was a list of our Top Ten Beach Reads.  This week we look at the Top Ten Books On My Summer List.  In no particular order (mostly because I can’t decide if I should read number 1 next or number 6).

1. City of Bones (Mortal Instruments 1), by Cassandra Clare
2. City of Ashes(Mortal Instruments 2), by Cassandra Clare
3. City of Glass (Mortal Instruments 3), by Cassandra Clare
4. City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments 4), by Cassandra Clare
5. City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments 5), by Cassandra Clare
6. Divergent (Divergent 1), by Veronica Roth
7. Insurgent (Divergent 2), by Veronica Roth
Side note: Don't judge.  I saw all these books on sale and couldn't resist.  I keep hearing amazing things about them. So, the price was right and I bought them (not all at the same time).
8. Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King - I know it's been on my short list forever, and I keep meaning to get to it.  I don't know what my problem is.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis
10. Bodily Harm, by Margaret Atwood
11. The Hunter's Blade Trilogy 1: The Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore
12. Fool, by Christopher Moore

We will see if this list works out better than the last.  I also know it’s more than ten books, but from what I've heard, those books on the first two-thirds of my list are quick reads.

What will you be reading this summer?

Also, should I read 1 or 6 next?  (Currently, I’m reading Canada, by Richard Ford.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Love You Stinky Face

I Love You Stinky Face is a super cute children's book written by Lisa McCourt and illustrated by Cyd Moore.  It is silly and sweet.  It is all about a mother telling her child how absolutely unconditionally she loves him (or her).  The child asks, Mama, would you still love me if... And gives a different situation, a skunk, a meat-eating dinosaur, a swamp creature, a one-eyed monster, to just name a few.  Nothing the child comes up with can stop the mother's love.

To me, the child is drawn androgynously, so it could be a boy or a girl.  However, Hubby disagrees.  He says it's a boy.  The only other "problem" I had with the story was that I felt it was a little too long.  I keep feeling that it should end one "What if" sooner.  But, I have no idea which one I'd take out.

I Love You Stinky Face is a story with an attention grabbing title, great art and a wonderful message.  It leaves you with a happy feeling.  It's a great addition to any children's library.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Wonder What The Canadian Stats Are: The Mommies Network: Breastfeeding in America

I only recently stopped breastfeeding.  I'm going back to work.  Breastmilk is so much healthier for your child, I don't know why someone would choose not to do it.  I understand that there are circumstances in which a mother is unable.  However, if you are able, then do it.

Do I talk about breastfeeding too much?

The Mommies Network: Breastfeeding in America: Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding . Breast is best, but we know all moms for various reasons can't breastfeed and that's...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Boys Are Tough, Girls Are Catty?

I first saw this over at Feminist Philosophers.  It makes me unhappy.  Couldn't they just have one book with everything in it?  I feel like equality keeps taking steps backwards.

Here are the contents for each book:

BOYS ONLY: How to Survive Anything!
Table of Contents:
How to Survive a shark attack
How to Survive in a Forest
How to Survive Frostbite
How to Survive a Plane Crash
How to Survive in the Desert
How to Survive a Polar Bear Attack
How to Survive a Flash Flood
How to Survive a Broken Leg
How to Survive an Earthquake
How to Survive a Forest Fire
How to Survive in a Whiteout
How to Survive a Zombie Invasion
How to Survive a Snakebite
How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails
How to Survive a Croc Attack
How to Survive a Lightning Strike
How to Survive a T-Rex
How to Survive Whitewater Rapids
How to Survive a Sinking Ship
How to Survive a Vampire Attack
How to Survive an Avalanche
How to Survive a Tornado
How to Survive Quicksand
How to Survive a Fall
How to Survive a Swarm of Bees
How to Survive in Space


GIRLS ONLY: How to Survive Anything!
Table of Contents:
How to survive a BFF Fight
How to Survive Soccer Tryouts
How to Survive a Breakout
How to Show You’re Sorry
How to Have the Best Sleepover Ever
How to Take the Perfect School Photo
How to Survive Brothers
Scary Survival Dos and Don’ts
How to Handle Becoming Rich
How to Keep Stuff Secret
How to Survive Tests
How to Survive Shyness
How to Handle Sudden Stardom
More Stardom Survival Tips
How to Survive a Camping Trip
(“fresh air is excellent for the skin”)
How to Survive a Fashion Disaster
How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
(are you #$&^%*@ kidding me?)
How to Turn a No Into a Yes
Top Tips for Speechmaking
How to Survive Embarrassment
How to Be a Mind Reader
How to Survive a Crush
Seaside Survival
How to Soothe Sunburn
How to Pick Perfect Sunglasses
Surviving a Zombie Attack
How to Spot a Frenemy
Brilliant Boredom Busters
How to Survive Truth or Dare
How to Beat Bullies
How to be an Amazing Babysitter

Source for contents:

Here is what Scholastic has to say.  Not really an apology, but maybe an oops?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It’s Hot Out Here!

It’s been a while since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday, from the Broke and The Bookish, but I saw this week’s topic, Top Ten Beach Reads and started listing off books in my head.  There are more than ten here.  Most of the books I’ve listed are actually series.  They are in no particular order.

1. The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins
2. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
3. Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer
4. The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris
5. The Undead series, by MaryJanice Davidson
6. Wither and Fever, by Lauren DeStefano
7. The Legend of Drizzt series, by R.A. Salvatore
8. World War Z, by Max Brooks
9. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire
10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, by Douglas Adams

What will you be reading at the beach?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Maladjusted

The first thing that caught my eye about Derek Hayes' short story collection, The Maladjusted, was the cover.  If I had seen this in a bookstore, I definitely would have picked it off the shelf/display and given it a look.  I didn’t see in the bookstore, however.  The Maladjusted was kindly sent to me by the author for an honest review.  Even after the craziness with my last short fiction collection, I still wrote a bit about each of the stories.  It was a good collection and the stories definitely had me thinking.

Feel for America

A great opening story.  For an in depth review, please see my post for Short Story Monday.

The Maladjusted

The Maladjusted is a great, interesting story.  The unnamed narrator is engaging and makes you think, not just about him, but how people react to him.

That's Very Observant Of You

Melanie is potentially crazy.  I wasn't sure how I should feel for her.  I wasn’t sure what was real and what was in her head.  It was a good, mental, story.

In The Low Post

I didn't really like the story.  I found James, the main character unsympathetic and self-indulgent.  I was waiting for the story to get to the point and I guess it made one about being nice to others or something, but by the end of the story, I didn't care and was already looking to the next one.  I almost didn't bother writing anything about it.

A Good Decision

What if the one who got away wasn't really?  What of you saw them forty years later and realized that you were the one who got away. But it didn't matter to your life, because you are happy and you had/have a great life?  This was a great story.

Green Jerseys

A good story, but one that left me angry by the end.  I don't know if anyone was making good decisions.

Maybe You Should Get Back Here

Max is depressing and confused and self-conscious.  I couldn't like him.  He was driving me crazy.  He was another character stuck in the past.  Is this a theme for Hayes?

A Tank of Gas

I liked this story better than the last.  I really enjoyed the character growth.  It is about teachers in a foreign land again.  This has to be something that Hayes once did.

The Runner

This one connected with me more than some of the others.  It probably has to do with main character's issue with his girlfriend,

A Wonderful Holiday

At first seems like it might be an annoying story about a self-centered man, but by the end, it was really nice.

Tom and Wilkie

This was a depressing story.  It was as well written as all the others, it just left me with a need to read something else, so I didn’t dwell on the negative emotions.  Also, the story kind of disparaged Toronto.  Was that on purpose?

The Revisionist

I felt a disconnect with this story.  I kind of hated the main character. How many stories leaving you feeling sorry for the bully?


Jean is so mean!  She really hasn't adjusted to having a pretty, fun, young co-worker.  Samantha's one line of dialogue shows she is intelligent.  Jean seems to only like people who are like her.  This is another protagonist that I didn't like.  In the end, I wanted to give Samantha a hug.


Finally a main character who goes through some kind of change for the better.  Thank goodness for Joseph.

My Horoscope

Does Hayes actually believe in horoscopes?

This story took me back to my university days.  Stewart's personality is a bit high school-ish, but since they are first-year students, that isn't surprising.  Stewart and his roommate, Cam, are having trouble adjusting to university life.  It's an interesting glimpse at that period.

The Lover

The main character is creepy and weird.  It was another story where I didn't like the main character.  However, I found the overall story really interesting and engaging.  I really wanted to see how he and the patients we going to end up.

In Conclusion.....

The Maladjusted was a well-written, engaging short story collection.  Being a teacher is a theme throughout many of the stories.  We also see foreigners in strange lands.  I guess there has to be some kind of adjustment to be made if the characters are going to have the opportunity to be “maladjusted”.

The collection starts off strong.  Each story makes you want to read the next.  I just wish the collection ended on a less creepy note.  With Inertia, maybe?  I don't need happily-ever-after, I just need to shut a book and not be thinking of weirdos.  Overall, if you're a fan of short stories and good writing, Derek Hayes' collection is worth picking up.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Tent

What was I thinking?  Recently, I decided that with collections of short stories, I would write at least a few sentences about each story.  Margaret Atwood’s The Tent is short, but so is each "short fiction".  The Tent was great, but I will definitely need to re-read it at some point.  I think by stopping to write a sentence or two about each piece, I may have lost part of the feeling of the collection as a whole.  Also, I have no idea what some of my own notes mean right now, but I’m still including them.  They were important enough for me to write down at the time.

Life Stories

Can be interpreted two ways, I think.  Either the narrator is hiding from her life or she is letting go of the past.  I do get the impression that she is disgusted (is that too strong a word?) with her life though.  Maybe it's others life's she's disgusted with.

Clothing Dreams

Super short, like flash fiction.  Another narrator lost in the past, lost in a life that doesn't belong to them.  If these aren't your clothes, then this isn't or shouldn't be your life.


Is the narrator trapped in the bottle?  This dialogue also seems to deal with identity.  I liked the surprising god/in my head/nothing angle the story took.

Impenetrable Forest

A character who is lost, doesn’t know what path to take.  Even an “angel” (who doesn’t look so angelic up close) can’t help when you don’t know what you want.  Also, I really like the drawing.

Encouraging the Young

Is this an old person’s rant?


With her death so recent, this piece reminds me of Whitney Houston.  This person is inexorably tied to their talent.

No More Photos

Weird.  Caught between a poem and a rant.

Orphan Stories

Orphan Stories is depressing.  It takes orphan stereotypes and turns them on their head (whatever that means).   It’s like looking at the stereotypes and seeing the truth through sarcasm.


Gateway is interesting.  It is told in the second person.  I’m not sure I like that.  It makes the story seem as though the main character (or you) are being told about your life.  Unless that’s the point, to create that sort of connection with the reader.  The narrative is asking you, I think, where are you going and do you know where you have been.

Bottle II

Does the person who takes the cork out of the bottle of sand deserve the voice who tells them all they need to know?  I want to know more about this voice.

Winter’s Tales

Do the old tell the young stories to scare them?

It’s Not Easy Being Half-Divine

This piece has felt most like a short story so far.  It has a beginning, middle and end.  The note the narrator uses puts Helen’s story in a certain light, whereas, if it were told with a more favourable tone, it would sound more caring or positive.

Salome Was a Dancer

Another story where the tone of the narrator affects your feelings toward the main character.

Plots for Exotics

Is this a commentary on the white-washing of main characters (if it’s set in the West)?  What do exotics have to do to be the main character?  Can an exotic be a main character if the book is set in (for example) Utah or Nova Scotia?

This also gets me thinking about some of the books I’ve read lately.  Would they be as popular if the main character wasn’t white?  …Atwood makes me think too much…

Resources of the Ikarians

What do a people do when they have no resources and are also not very nice?  Atwood again has created a narrator that negates any sympathy you might build up reading the story, yet still makes the story engaging.

Our Cat Enters Heaven

This is an odd, funny story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I think it might be a favourite among the bunch.  There are nice twists along the way.

Chicken Little Goes Too Far

The sky is falling isn’t just a conspiracy theory; it’s either ignored or covered up!  Poor Chicken Little never had a chance.  Chicken Little Goes Too Far is a great take on an old story.  Another favourite.

Thylacine Ragout

Really weird.  I don’t know what Atwood was thinking.  A social commentary on capitalism, searching in the past and science.

The Animals Reject Their Names and Things Return to Their Origins

There is no light.  This is an amazing poem/story (a poem that tells a story.)

Three Novels I Won’t Write Soon

But she doesn’t say never.  I want to know what happens to Chris and Amanda.

Take Charge

Take Charge is like an absurd comedy.  I can imagine two people having these conversations on stage and the audience laughing their butts off.


Seems like a short essay on what the colonials did to the natives.  I don't know if I understood what she was trying to say.

Heritage House

Does Heritage House combine forgetting the past with a commentary on a lack of government funding for the arts?

Bring Back Mom:  An Invocation

A feminist poem aimed at the right wing, I think.  It takes the image of the perfect Mom (from the 50s perhaps) and peels back the layers.  It reveals what was happening to women behind the mother mask.

Horatio's Version

An interesting take on Horatio's personality.  Mostly I think it's a rant against the war and violence in our world - an interesting well-formed rant.

King Log In Exile

A unique story.  Enjoyable, but I don’t know what to say about it.


A commentary on our increasing need for new, better, faster technology.  The new gadgets get consumed, but what do they really do for us?  (Of course, I'm using my iPad to write some of this...)

Eating the Birds

A commentary on consumption?  Another weird one.

Something Has Happened

Like an introduction to a crazy dystopian novel (or longer short story).


So far, most like a short story.  It is beautifully written and I like the drawing.  It's so sad.  It sums up what could be a whole novel.  The emotional tone reminds me of A Thousand Splendid Suns.


Seems most out-of-place.  It's Atwood's tone and style, but warriors and warlords aren't usually her style.

The Tent

The Tent is desperation.  The title story is filled with need, urgency and fear.  The writer is trying to be a protector of knowledge, but the predators are coming to destroy it.  It is an allegory. The Tent is filled with so much; I'll have to re-read it.

Time Folds

Time Folds has an almost sweet, romantic tone.  It was nice after the previous story's tension

Tree Baby

Tree Baby is more like a poem.  It's about hope.  It left me with a good feeling and a smile.

But It Could Be Still

Is this about faith?  Faith in a happily-ever-after.  I like to believe in happily-ever-after, but I'm a prepare-for-the-worse person most of the time.  Is it about the reader?  Is it the hope a reader gets from a story?  I don't know.  I'm confused.  The tulip bulbs aren't part of the story and neither are you (to paraphrase).  Is it about being on the outside looking in?  I felt hope until the last three sentences.

In conclusion...

This was a great little collection.  Potentially, it could be read in one sitting.  I was feeling like I needed more Atwood and The Tent was it.  It left me wanting to read another one of her books.