Adrianne Harun has nailed it! I live along Highway 16. Adrianne Harun has taken this "Highway of Tears" and created an amazing fantasy based on the di...moreAdrianne Harun has nailed it! I live along Highway 16. Adrianne Harun has taken this "Highway of Tears" and created an amazing fantasy based on the disappearances of mostly aboriginal girls, a case that defies solving to this day. Mixing reality, myth, the plight of small logging towns in northern British Columbia, and the boredom of mixed-race youth and hopelessness of the poor, she has run with this fascinating story. Her descriptive prose, the stories told by Leo's Uncle Lud, and a man who is unknown yet known, and a mysterious young girl--is she really the Snow Woman?--all combine to make this story compelling. The devil has many faces.
The characterizations and mindsets are spot on, too often found in these small one-store towns in the forests of British Columbia. Youngsters must work, alcoholism is rife, and in their free time make their own entertainment, whether good or bad. A group of friends stick together, surviving the odds. Adrianne has taken on these elements and many others to give us a mythical yet not unknown reality, mixed it up and turned out full-blown a novel we can feel. Sad though these conditions are, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was mesmerized and found it hard to put the book down, not wanting to lose a single thread. Remember her name, I'm sure we will be hearing it in the future. Review based on Advance Reading Copy (ARC)(less)
This book is the life of author, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, the sequel to "Fatty Legs" by the same authors. It is also the life of Canada's shame, the story of how the government took the children away from all aboriginal nations and sent them to Catholic residential schools. "A Stranger at Home" tells the true story of Margaret's return to her parents in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories and how she was snubbed by family, friends, and townspeople. I have not read "Fatty Legs", but must because it will take me into her years in school.
The boat bringing home the children is arriving in Tuktoyaktuk, or Tuk as they call it. Parents and siblings are waiting for the arrival, but when Margaret approaches her mother, she says "Not my daughter!" Margaret's hair has been cut, she is in clothing supplied by the school, and all tradition is gone. She can not even remember how to speak her language, Invialuktun. She is unable to understand her mother and her mother does not understand her. Her siblings look at Margaret as though she were an alien. She is now an "outsider" and is devastated. The book is well named because Margaret is indeed "a stranger at home". Her father does speak English, fortunately, and he is her only strength.
Margaret can no longer eat the food her mother prepares. She can't eat and loses weight. Even the food at the Hudson Bay store doesn't appeal to her. She is horrified when the family eats without saying grace, and is terrified that her family will go to Hell. This is what she has been taught, and that it is her responsibility to convert her family. Margaret's best friend Agnes can no longer play with or see her, because she only knows English. Agnes kept her language by telling herself stories in her mind and occasionally naming things in her room, but she is punished when she is caught. Margaret's only happiness is playing with the dogs and reading. She particularly likes "Gulliver's Travels", relating to it in a way.
Through her father's attention and help, and her mother trying to find communication, Margaret finally finds a way to be a part of her family again. She is once again Olemaun Pokiak, her Inuvialuit, or Inuit name. She is able to eat the food her mother prepares. She remembers how to skin caribou, and she is able to drive a team and sled. But still she misses her home on Banks Island where she was so happy growing up. Tuktoyaktuk still seems like a stopover, and soon it will prove to be just that when the government people come and tell them that the children must go to the school, and that includes Margaret's siblings.
This is a book everyone should read. It is written for school-age, but I feel it should be read and explained by adults who can remember this time, or who understand this time, so the children and young adults will understand what happened, how it affected the families, and how so many languages almost went extinct.
Kudos to those who have worked hard to restore the languages, beliefs and teach their children of the old ways. That is not the whole story, though. Through the efforts of people like Margaret, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the aboriginal renewal has been underway for the past several years and now many languages have been retrieved and spoken, old customs have been returned, although now updated.(less)
Snake Dreams by James D. Doss: A Charlie Moon Mystery
Book 13 of the Charlie Moon series and I have read all of them up to and including this one. Wait...moreSnake Dreams by James D. Doss: A Charlie Moon Mystery
Book 13 of the Charlie Moon series and I have read all of them up to and including this one. Waiting for me in my bookcase is #14 The Widows Revenge, and on my Wish List is #15, A Dead Man's Tale. Obviously I am a fan of James Doss and a fan of Charlie Moon. What is not to like? A 7 ft tall lean good-looking Ute cowboy, retired cop and now part-time tribal investigator. He has a wonderful ranch in a beautiful location, every girl falls for him but he just can't seem to hang onto them. Of course this is often because of Aunt Daisy's machinations.
His Aunt Daisy Perika, of ancient age, is a blessing and a curse, a disaster, sly as a fox, and a shaman, a crabby one at that. Daisy talks to spirits, not that she invites them, they come to her with messages and portents and try as she might, she can't ignore them. After all, they know where to find her anytime, anywhere. She also visits and talks to a pitukupf, a dwarf who lives in an abandoned badger hole, bringing him food and tobacco in exchange for cryptic answers to the spirits' problems which are now her problems. He also brings news of evil coming, if she can decipher what he is saying in time.
In Doss's earlier books, there was much more police action, mysteries, missing people, murder and such playing a rather major role, along with the great descriptions you can count on. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona some of the most beautiful and extreme landscape in the country. Those readers of Tony Hillerman's series of the Navajo tribal police, especially Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, will understand what I mean. I expected similar when I started reading James Doss' books, and in fact there were a lot of similarities in the early books, although with Daisy there was a lot more myth, legend, because of her heritage, but there was still a lot of policing and investigation.
The Charlie Moon series has always been great fun to read, but in the latest books, possibly because Charlie is supposed to be on his ranch, not solving crimes like his best friend Scott Parrish, chief of police for Granite City, the focus has been much more on the characters themselves with a mystery running in the background. As mentioned, the books have always had some humor in the storyline, but the past few have been nothing short of hilarious, which leaves me to wonder if this series has done a crossover genre. I laughed out loud through a lot of this book Even the style of writing seems to be different and very unique, but again, very funny.
The characters are true to themselves, and it's been fascinating to see them continue to grow and even to age, something that is often missed in a series. Who would be my favorite character? It's hard to answer that, so many diversities, but I think my personal favorite is Daisy, without her half the book would be missing. She is now tutoring her young protégé, 16 year old Sarah, in healing, magic and other shamanist knowledge. This is still one of my favorite series and great for a break between more serious books. Highly entertaining. This particular book made me think of Dana Stabenow's "Breakup", a book in another great series with wonderful characterizations and scenery, set among the Alaskan Aleuts.(less)
As stated on the book cover, this is "An ancient feud, a modern love triangle," and "a twisted plot for revenge." I don't normally mention what is wri...moreAs stated on the book cover, this is "An ancient feud, a modern love triangle," and "a twisted plot for revenge." I don't normally mention what is written on the cover, but this description is right on the mark. This is the first book in a series of archaeological thrillers. Unfortunately, I read the third book first, so I will have to shift my mind backward in time to review this one. Here, our characters are introduced and most definitely well-fleshed out. Book one is set in the San Juan Islands, a group of West Coast islands on the US/Canada border.
Deborah Cannon plots this series around the historical myths of the several nations of the West Coast, from Alaska to Oregon, but particularly the historical myths and legends of the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. As an aside, these islands have been officially renamed Haida Gwaii as of December 2009, after this book was written. At the time of writing the books, the islands were known as both the Queen Charlottes and Haida Gwaii, causing some confusion geographically. Why is this important to us, the readers? Because the protagonist of these books is half-Haida, so the islands are important to the story.
Deborah has a special knack of weaving suspense, murder and mystery into the ancient myths and legends of the Raven. I was hooked in the Prologue! Her writing grips the imagination, and keeps the suspense at high level all the while weaving romance, anthropology and archaeology, and history into the mix. I would be remiss if I didn't mention a deadly rivalry between two men part-Haida, who have directed their lives in opposing directions with the exception of searching the myth of Eagle and Raven. These two men are the arch-rivals of this reading journey. Both are totally invested in their goals.
Discovery of a cave with petroglyphs on a small island is the main centre of activity in this book, with a nearby "wet" site where a Raven rattle of indeterminately ancient age is discovered where it should not be. Immediately, the rich and powerful Clifford Radisson wants to buy up all the land and turn it into a theme par, while the dedicated but poor archaeologist Jake Lalonde fights to preserve it. Even though there are some petroglyphs that are obviously faked, he sees much more. Radisson will stop at nothing from trying to take away Jake's girlfriend to burying the opening to the cave in rubble while Jake and Angeline are in there. Will they be able to escape? Well, obviously since there are more adventures to come, but how will they manage it? In trying to find a way out, they stumble on a very important find they are able to keep secret, and Angeline's escape brings help but not before more of Radisson's dirty tricks. Does Radisson accomplish all the feats by himself. Hah! No way! Why should he get his hands dirty, he has too much to lose, but with all his money he can buy anything or anyone. Which will win this rivalry, theme park or heritage site? Many surprises are in store in this book which will keep your attention from wavering. Strong, suspenseful, action-packed thriller, an excellent entry into the series, and I know having read the third book it just gets better!(less)
Anyone who has heard the haunting sound of a whale's song will never forget it. So it is with this story, mystical, honest, haunting and wonderful. So...moreAnyone who has heard the haunting sound of a whale's song will never forget it. So it is with this story, mystical, honest, haunting and wonderful. So emotional in fact, that I am writing this review while my eyes are still damp with tears. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow, and a great feeling of enlightenment and belonging. The rich blend of lifestyles from the prairies of Wyoming to Vancouver Island's rugged west coast in British Columbia, both very remote, brings together a family who have never seen an ocean to the very shores in their new home, and a traditional indian family whose roots go back many hundreds of years. The area around Bamfield is largely populated by the Huu-ay-aht Tribe and the warmth of the people represented in this novel is passed on to us in a way that feels personal. Cheryl Kaye Tardif, you moved me. I read this straight through without setting it down once.
The story begins with Sarah, an eleven year old girl, learning that her marine-biologist father has been offered an opportunity he can't refuse, nor wants to, to live and work near Bamfield for a couple of years. His artist wife, well-known for her paintings of the plains will have the opportunity to paint different scenes in their new home. Sarah of course does not want to move, her best friend is here in Wyoming. However, at eleven one has little in the way of choices. But Sarah has no idea how much her new home will change her life. Though well-populated with many full-fledged characters, this is really Sarah's story.
If I take nothing more away with me from reading this book, these three alone were worth the read: live life fully; "forgiveness will set you free"; know when to let go. Of course I loved many things about this book, and it deals with many subjects that afflict peoples lives today. [On a personal note, I mean no disrespect when I refer to our native people as indian. As a Chief once told my husband when he asked what he wanted him to call him, he said to call him an indian, the government made him an indian when they created the legislation in the 1800s, and they call themselves indian because why should they keep changing names, because someone tells them to?:]*
Very soon after arriving at their new rural home, Sarah meets Goldie, her neighbor who is indian and also eleven. They become the best of friends and very soon both families become as close as non-family can be. Goldie's grandmother Nana, regales the girls with many legends, and yet it seems that she is tapping into something that Sarah is thinking or troubled about. I know, you are wondering about the whales. Sarah had been warned by her parents never to swim past the float because a young boy had tried to swim to the nearby island the year before and drowned. Sarah soon hears from Goldie that she believes her brother is now an Orca (Killer Whale) and swims nearby so she can talk to him. Nana narrates the legend to the girls later and Sarah then understands what Goldie was talking about. Sarah's mother and Nana have also become good friends, and incorporating something of the legends in her newer paintings have given her even more notice for the mystic quality they present.
When school starts, the girls find they are in the same classroom, and sit next to each other. But trouble brews for Sarah in a case of racism and bullying all through the first year. All is not terror for her though, as she becomes popular among her classmates and has also caught the eye of a popular young boy Adam, causing her to giggle and blush every time he looks at her. Goldie tells her he is part Haida, part white. A field trip on the boat Sarah's father does his research on brings a great windup to the school year. They are all mesmerized by the sounds of both fish and whales after Sarah's father drops the echolocation microphone into the water and turns the volume up so all can hear. Adam in particular looks toward his future as he learns as much as he can from Sarah's father.
The book takes place over approximately 13-14 years and there is so much to tell, but I will not plant spoilers. I have left a large part of the book undiscussed. Let me just say that this is one book I am thrilled to have had the opportunity not only to read, but to feel. It is as though I was dropped into the mind of Sarah and existing within these pages myself, feeling every emotion. Cheryl Kaye Tardif, you are an inspiration! The version I am reviewing is an ebook, and is more recent than the original printed book (I chose the pdf file and printed it because I don't have a reader). This book should be read by everyone, perhaps a little too sad in places for young children but definitely for 12+ because some of the lessons learned, almost by absorption, are particularly applicable to that age group. For the rest of us, we are never too old to learn something new, and sometimes you can go home again.* *This review is written by a Canadian reader, reference to legislation is Canadian(less)
I find it incredible that this is a debut novel, it is so well-written. Mara Feeney has written a wonderful novel...moreRankin Inlet, a Novel by Mara Feeney
I find it incredible that this is a debut novel, it is so well-written. Mara Feeney has written a wonderful novel taking place in a part of Canada few people know about. The characters and descriptions of life in Rankin Inlet are so real that it is difficult to realize this is a novel and not a true story. Ms. Feeney has personal experience to draw from. The book is written with a very compelling knowledge of life in the isolated north, and no doubt at least some of her characters are based in some small part upon real people, or a combination of individuals she has known or met. To this Canadian reader I felt a connection to this far northern village through this book.
The story begins in 1971 when our heroine, Alison, comes from Liverpool, England to be a nurse in this remote location. After waiting for weather to clear she is on her way north in a small plane flown by a bush pilot, arriving in a village that looks completely alien to her.
The book is written as a diary by Alison, some pages devoted to the stories of the patients themselves, some to the families of patients. The stories are told in the voices of the characters. Historical and accurate, this is the first book I have read of this particularly remote area and am very glad I did. This is a delightful read with the characters bringing us from the old ways via a grandfather talking to his critically ill daughter, and later to his grandchildren. The novel continues to update right through the creation of Nunavut, the newest of the northern Territories of Canada in 1999.
The "first hand" stories of the entire family of Nikmak, the grandfather, give the reader insight impossible to get without an actual non-fiction biographical work. When Alison marries into the family we really begin to see the changes as they occur in the lives of the Inuit. Using the true Inuktitut words in many cases adds to the authenticity of the book. Although explained as the words are first used, there is also a glossary at the back of the book.
It is a tale of hardship, family, lifestyles old and new. The coming of electricity, skidoos, and finally television and computers, while still trying to maintain some tradition in their lives becomes more difficult as time goes on. Children in the old days were sent away to school, later they were able to be schooled in Rankin Inlet. Many of the Inuit children are now able to go on to university in Manitoba and become a part of the evolution of the north while trying to protect the rights of the "people of the land". Alison's own sons and daughters become very active in the environment, the growth, and the government of Nunavut.
I would definitely recommend this book to any age group as a glimpse of the Arctic and its contribution to the development of this country, to the mix of ethnicities of Canada, and among the first peoples of Canada.(less)
Even the indomitable Aunt Daisy is in danger in this one. Chalk up another great aboriginal (Ute) mystery for James Doss. Not only good mysteries but...moreEven the indomitable Aunt Daisy is in danger in this one. Chalk up another great aboriginal (Ute) mystery for James Doss. Not only good mysteries but great fun. 4 1/2 stars. (less)
I am a long-time fan of Doss' Charlie Moon series, but this one seems to have a lot more humour than previous books. I love the interaction between th...moreI am a long-time fan of Doss' Charlie Moon series, but this one seems to have a lot more humour than previous books. I love the interaction between the characters, the blend of cultures, Ute, Apache and white, the glimpses of the old ways through Charlie's aunt Daisy - the elderly shaman, and the uniqueness of his mysteries. I would certainly recommend his books to those who like a dish of humour with their murder mysteries. For Tony Hillerman fans who are bereft of the famous Leaphorn & Chee Navajo series since his passing, this is a great series to check out. (less)
This is my favorite Kate Shugak story. Not quite the usual story but hilarious. Imagine beginning your day with a jetplane dropping its engine right b...moreThis is my favorite Kate Shugak story. Not quite the usual story but hilarious. Imagine beginning your day with a jetplane dropping its engine right behind your house! After a long Alaskan winter it is Break Up time, hungry bears awakening, rivers starting to run, and insanity in bloom after so many long days in the dark and cold. This one is hard to find, must be popular with more than me! I first read it as a library book, as I did with most of the series and have been gradually buying them ever since. I love the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow, as well as her Liam Campbell series. I've yet to read her Star Svensdotter Series (SciFi) and considering they are out of print I may never get the chance.(less)