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NCL Challenge > Tracey's 12 in 12 Gold level

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message 1: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 04:58AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
May 2018: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston

June 2018: The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by [author:M.G. Vassanji|4408


message 2: by Tracey (last edited Jun 02, 2018 01:05PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 1: May 2018: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
4.5 stars.
I knew next to nothing about Newfoundland before I read this well written book, but now I have an understanding of it's history, geography and people. One of the main characters is Joey Smallwood who was a real person; the main force that brought the Dominion of Newfoundland into the Confederation of Canada in 1949, and Newfoundland's first Premier. He worked throughout his life towards bettering the lot of the poor who lived in harsh living and working conditions. This is a book which I think one day will be seen as a classic alongside Dickens; with it's cast of characters and depicting the poor and downtrodden.
I am a 100 pages in and am already drawn into the story. At this point the most memorable chapter for me was the episode of the sealers and the hard life they led. Having recently read Moby Dick I recognize the same tribute made to men who may have had to do a cruel hard job so as to save their families from starvation. People today complain so much about conditions in workplaces but looking back, previous generations would have thought we have it easy, which compared to them, we do. A very moving chapter on their courage and sacrifice.


I have read the first 3 parts. The first part, detailing Smallwood and Fielding's school years I thoroughly enjoyed. Part 2 set in New York was not as interesting but the book picks up again in part 3 when Smallwood is back in Newfoundland.
What I am enjoying the most are the newspaper columns and history of Newfoundland written by Fielding. Her irony is very amusing and smart. Out of all the characters I feel sorry the most for her. She seems to be a woman who is unable to believe the man can do any good from choice and as a result is a very lonely cynical woman; yet at heart she has a flicker of desire/hope that she is wrong.

In part 4 Johnson juxtaposes the lives of the poor fishermen and their families in remote areas ice locked a lot of the time, with the British Commission, wealthy Newfoundlanders, and their wives.
In the remote areas the fisherman have no money to buy anything and all their homes and furniture are made out of things like old crates and doors; the things others throw away. They have not enough to eat and live and work in harsh conditions. A caribou herd travels through one settlement he is staying and he asks the son of the home if they eat them. He says that not much due to few having guns and those that do cannot afford many bullets.
When he returns from these regions, Smallwood is invited to attend an evening with the British Commission. There the tables are groaning with rich and expensive foods, and the people 'running the whole show' are dressed up like the aristocracy. As Smallwood says, to a fellow Newfie journalist, "We are living in an occupied country. A marvelous piece of writing worthy of 5 stars.

The book continues right to the end to be worthy of 4.5 stars.


message 3: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 04:54AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 2: June 2018: The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

Excellent story by this Canadian author who is new to me. The novel is set during the waning days of the British Empire in Kenya. I knew some about the time and place, about the Mau Mau and expulsion of the British, but gained a lot by reading this novel.

Vikram Lall is Indian by descent but calls Kenya his home. His parents remember what happened in India and live to see similar occurring in Kenya. As the African peoples seek liberation from their British 'masters' atrocities occur and corruption and oppression exists both pre and post independence. The age old tale of today's liberators becoming tomorrow's ruthless dictators.

The story made me think of how it must have been when the British Empire spanned much of the globe and the tumultuous changes that occurred during and after independence, for both the British and the native people of the country. The effects are still being felt today with ever more divisions being drawn and genocides and ethnic cleansing sweeping back and forth across nations and continents.

Very interesting period of history and great characters.


message 4: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 05:06AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 3: Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

Jane is such a wonderful heroine. The changes in her over the course of the story, and the delight she finds in PEI, a delight you can feel and share in as you read, all add up to a beautiful story.


message 5: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 05:06AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 4: Three Score and Ten, What Then? by Peggy Smith

Won on a Goodreads Giveaway.

The story of a woman, Savannah Ashton (Anna), who was born in 1897 in Northern Ontario; as told to a grandchild just after her 105th birthday.

People are living longer and it is becoming a growing issue. I work in healthcare and have worked in long term care and have seen this side of the system. The end of the book is concerned with the few years remaining for Anna in long term care. After having had a life of independence, the last chapters of the story are hard to read as Anna recalls all the things that she has left behind and the conditions she finds herself in as her body betrays her.

The earlier part of the book is about Anna's life and this I found the most interesting. Her childhood years on her parent's farm reminded me some of Little House on the Prairie.

I was not sure exactly how to rate this book. I felt the story might have worked better if it was told as old woman reminiscing and moved back and forth through her memories, rather than told in this 'journalistic' style. That being said, the story is still very interesting and an important one to be told. I decided on 4 stars because of this. Not a masterpiece but I would be interested to read more by this author about life in Northern Ontario.


message 6: by Tracey (last edited Jan 31, 2019 11:58AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Need to read 8 more to make my goal.

Book 5: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Only 1 star. I very rarely give only 1 star.
There was the odd line here and there that had a depth to it, but otherwise, I found this poetry to be without enlightenment.


message 7: by Tracey (last edited Mar 02, 2019 12:05AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 6: The Only Café by Linden MacIntyre 2 stars

This book started out well and was an interesting story set during the civil war years in Lebanon and modern-day Canada, but then it got repetitive and tedious. I have never read this author before and not sure I would read more.


message 8: by Tracey (last edited Feb 08, 2019 03:45PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 7: A Tiding of Magpies by Steve Burrows 4 stars
We have quite a few mystery writers here in Canada. This one is one of my favourites.

This is number 5 in the series and is another interesting foray into the world of birder and detective, Domenic Jejeune. I love the descriptions of the marshlands and coastal areas of Norfolk and the birds that feature in the books. Who knew that Eurasian Magpies are considered one of the most intelligent of all non-human species? Ruddy Ducks and other of our feathered friends feature prominently woven into the detective work.
The only thing lacking is pictures of the birds. I think that would add to the books and the enjoyment of those reading.


message 9: by Tracey (last edited Feb 21, 2019 05:32PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 8 : Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy

I really enjoy the works of this author and this book is no exception. Her greatest talent is in her characters and the landscape, both detailed with poetry and depth.
There are many characters in this story set in the Manitoba wilderness of the north of the province. All are interesting and there interactions with each other but the two I loved are first Luzina Tousignant and Father Joseph-Marie, the Capuchin priest.


message 10: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 05:08AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 9: The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

Anyone who has a love of animals will like this tale of the love of 3 animals for each other and most especially for the humans, they consider more than life itself.

The animals' names are interesting;
Tao-the Siamese cat; path, route, road, choose
Luath- the Labrador retriever; quick, fast, early, soon
Bodger- the English bulldog; a creator of things from found or improvised materials.

It seemed to me that Tao's canniness, Bodger's friendliness, and Luath's faithfulness worked together for the group.


message 11: by Tracey (last edited Feb 22, 2019 06:37PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 10: Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay

3.5 rounded up.

Elizabeth is, without doubt, a good writer but in this book after 4/5ths of the book being worthy of 4 stars the last few chapters lost something. The mysteries within the story are not fully resolved, the guilty party is merely suggested and left open.

Michael having numerous affairs was disappointing but based on the childhood trauma experienced may justify his inability to find happiness.

The best of the story was the descriptions of past times in an interesting way.


message 12: by Tracey (last edited Feb 14, 2019 04:45PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Day Has No Equal But the Night by Anne Hébert

Trying to add in more poetry to my reading.
Some nice poems. I liked her early work more than her later poems. There is a lot of religious sentiment in some.


message 13: by Tracey (last edited Jan 24, 2019 05:09AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Book 12: Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

I thought this was the last of the series but someone told me it is not. My only question at the end was why Paris? Are there no good jobs in Quebec? Spending time in Three Pines is always lovely.


message 14: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
Challenge completed in February 2019.


message 15: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 195 comments Tracey wrote: "Need to read 8 more to make my goal.

Book 5: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Only 1 star. I very rarely give only 1 star.
There was the odd line here and there that h..."


I looked at one of this author's books in a bookstore and quickly decided it was not for me. Your review confirms my impulse. I enjoy poetry with depth or beauty, or both.


message 16: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 195 comments Tracey wrote: "Book 3: Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

Jane is such a wonderful heroine. The changes in her over the course of the story, and the delight she finds in PEI, a d..."


I love this book!


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