Lockdown by Maggie Bolitho

When I wrote this post, yesterday, I thought spring had finally sprung. Tuesday, I was reading an ARC copy of Lockdown by Maggie Bolitho with the windows wide open, letting in the balmy plus twelve Celsius air (that’s about 66 degrees Farenheit). This morning, the ground was covered with white stuff. Boo!

Okay, I’m sure you’re sick of me complaining about our awful weather. I suppose it could be worse. We could be in the throes of an earthquake, like the characters in Lockdown. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts about the book:


The story is a cautionary tale that appeals to the Girl Guider in me. ‘Be prepared’ could be the main motto for this story, but even well laid plans can go awry.

Maggie Bolitho has written a compelling story set in the aftermath of a great earthquake that tears apart the west coast from California to Alaska. Young Rowan Morgan and her older brother struggle to survive the turmoil that follows when The Big One hits Vancouver. Fortunately, they are spending the summer with their survivalist father when it strikes. He has been preparing for just such an apocalyptic event for years and made sure his children were well-trained, but nothing they learned could possibly help them deal with potential looters, crazed citizens with a mob mentality, and hungry neighbours whose homes were destroyed. How do they decide who to help and who to turn away?

Amidst the confusion, their father is injured and hospitalized. They are unable to reach their mother because the phone lines are not operational. They must deal with this dangerous situation on their own. In addition, they are responsible for the care of their neighbour’s teenaged son, who has led a very sheltered life, as well as a cat belonging to their vacationing neighbours. Rowan, worried about her father, decides to risk breaking curfew to visit him at the hospital and runs into more trouble, as a result. They receive some assistance from a stranger, who mysteriously appears at opportune moments, but Rowan and her brother are suspicious of his motives.

Maggie Bolitho’s main character is a typical fifteen year old, who has been trying to break free of her authoritative father’s reign, which has been a source of contention between them. Despite her longing for independence, when she finally has some, she wants to return to the more secure life she had before the earthquake. She is racked with indecision but forces herself to remember her father’s advice and at least pretend to be strong for the sake of those in her care. Some of her decisions prove to be foolish and dangerous for her, but she perseveres, growing in wisdom and strength.

I would give this story a two-thumbs-up and highly recommend it for teens as well as adults. There were a few time that I, as a parent, yelled at the girl to think a little smarter, but overall I enjoyed it and think any teen would like it, too. There’s just the right mix of suspense and action that keeps the reader barreling along at break-neck speed. I was glad I had no major commitments so I could finish it in a day with few interruptions.

The official launch of Lockdown will be May 2nd, so if anyone in the Vancouver area is interested in getting an autographed copy, be at the Lynn Valley Library at 7:30 pm. If that is not an option for you, click on the picture of the book cover above and it will take you to the publisher’s website. It’s also available on Amazon.


Book Blurb:

When a great earthquake rocks the Pacific Northwest, fifteen-year-old Rowan Morgan is hiking in a suburban forest. Tremors rip the coast from Oregon to Alaska and turn Rowan’s world upside down. After her father is wounded and taken to the hospital, he orders Rowan and her brother to stay inside his earthquakeproof, survivalist home. While the electrified fences offer some protection, it isn’t long before mobs gather, desperate for some of the food and water rumoured to be held inside.

Rowan knows that if the hungry neighbours had any true idea of the riches in her father’s cellar and water tanks, they wouldn’t be so easily sent away. Early one morning, Rowan leaves the compound and sets off in search of her father. She is turned away from the hospital and so goes to check on nearby friends where she finds a local gang has moved in. She escapes from them only to run into a stranger she met in the forest the day before. Why is he following her and what does he want?

About the author:
MAGGIE BOLITHO is curious by nature and over the years has been a soccer player, a horsewoman, a martial artist, a scuba diver (volunteer diver for the Vancouver Aquarium) and a cyclist. Before making her home in British Columbia, Bolitho lived in Australia. In Sydney her home was in a red-zone, the highest bushfire risk possible and it was there, when she trained as a member of the CFU (Community Fire Unit) as a firefighter, that her interest in disaster scenarios came to life.



Friday Review – Life Sucks by Donna Sutherland


Throughout the ages, mothers and daughters usually hit a period of disagreement during the girl’s teen years. I remember heated arguments with my mother and also with my teenaged daughter. Fortunately, none of them escalated to the point of physical violence. The period passed and, upon becoming a woman, we became friends again. I think that was mainly because we kept the lines of communication open, unlike the characters in Donna Sutherland’s book.

In the story, Life Sucks, a mother (Emma) and her daughter (Lindsay) cannot seem to agree on anything. Lindsay seems bent on punishing her mom, believing she is the source of all her troubles, like her Dad leaving, trouble at school, and her friends deserting her. Emma is hurt and confused by her daughter’s anger, but when push comes to shove, literally, Emma knows they will need outside help to heal their relationship. That help comes, not from the sterile environment of a psychologist’s office, but the friend of Mary, a new worker in Emma’s office. Through Mary, Emma meets Martha, a local medicine woman who assists them in discovering the source of their deep-seated self-loathing and anger. Together, Mother and Daughter learn the Seven Sacred Teachings and begin their journey along the Red Road.

I’m sure that every mother or daughter who reads Life Sucks will appreciate the anguish in this broken family and will learn some valuable lessons about how to treat other people and how to heal themselves, just like Emma and Lindsay did. The story provides insight into the Native teachings that I think every person can take to heart. They are simple, common sense tools to help a body and mind work in harmony to become the best person one can be. 

Book Blurb:

Lindsay McKay is a 14-year-old girl on the cusp of womanhood struggling to understand life and her place in it. Her struggle with identity – what she sees on the outside is not in sync with the spirit within. She journeys with her mother, Emma, through conflict and challenge to truth and love. Together they find answers to their questions through the grace and wisdom of Martha, a powerful Cree Medicine Woman who introduces them to the Seven Sacred Teachings of the ancient Cree.

About the Author:

Donna Gail Sutherland was born in Selkirk, Manitoba to an Irish-English-Danish mother and a Scottish-Cree father. She is the author of three historical works – Peguis: A Noble Friend, Nahoway: A Distant Voice, and Concealment of Childbirth, and a soon-to-be released children’s picture book. Little Chip. She lives north of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the lovely woods of Clandeboye, a charming village with an Irish name.

To learn more about Donna and her books, click on the book cover above. It will link you to her website.

I was fortunate enough to meet Donna when she invited me to speak at the Public Library in Selkirk, a few weeks ago. I read from Withershins and talked about the historical setting of my books. Afterwards, Donna and I had a lovely chat over coffee. She is a truly remarkable woman, who is very connected to her ancestors and has a lot to teach us. Learning about our past is one way of learning the truth about ourselves. Knowing the truth about ourselves gives us strength and helps us move forward with our lives. It also helps in our relationships with others, treating them with respect and compassion. 

Friday Review – Morven and the Horse Clan by Luanne Armstrong

Hot off the presses! Luanne Armstrong just launched Morven & the Horse Clan this past week in British Columbia. I was fortunate to get an advance review copy and finished reading it a week ago. I loved reading Jean Aul’s books (Clan of the Cave Bear series) as an adult and I’m sure if Luanne’s book had been available when I was a teen, it would have hooked me into reading this kind of historical novel long before I’d heard of those other books. Doesn’t it have a beautiful cover? I love Relish New Brand Experience. They were responsible for both my book covers and I greatly appreciate Great Plains Publications for using the company, as their design work is exceptional. Okay, on with the review!

If ever a teenager felt like she didn’t belong, Morven would be it. Living in 3500 BC on the steppes of Kazakhstan, she has always felt as different as she looked from the others of her nomadic tribe. She could relate better with the animals in her world than the people. When she befriends a herd of wild horses, and one, in particular, she finally has a purpose and a role more important to her people than anyone thought possible. When Morven trains the black horse to be ridden, her people begin to see the horses as more than meat, but as a means to ease the burdens of traveling to where the food, and especially the water, was more plentiful. However, when she shares her knowledge with another clan, one young man sees more advantages than simply carrying people and things from place to place. He sees the horse as a means to conquer.

Despite the ancient time in which this story is set, I think modern teens could easily relate to Morven, as both her moodiness and reluctance to participate in her clan’s activities are similar symptoms to what a lot of teens experience, these days. I found the voice of Morven to be a little simplistic, on occasion, but I considered it a part of the story’s setting, since the language would not have been sophisticated at that time.

I think Luanne provides the reader with a wonderful glimpse into the customs and lifestyles of the nomadic tribes living on the steppes during this early point in their history. She does not ramble or expound into complex explanations of how things were done back then, like in the adult stories equivalent to this. She does give simple explanations of how things were done and why the people did things a particular way when it was necessary. As a result, I think it could be used as an excellent resource for teaching, as well as an enjoyable jaunt through history.

The set-up of the book also had a little treat for the reader. On the centre of each right-hand page was a silhouette of a horse in various stages of running so that, if you flip through the pages quickly, it creates a ‘movie’ of a galloping horse, like the flipbooks we all enjoyed as a kid. I hope you will pick up a copy of Morven and the Horse Clan, so you can enjoy a taste of our pre-history.


From the Back Cover

In 3500 BC, a killing drought forces Morven and her tribe to roam the steppes of Kazakhstan, struggling to survive. Fiercely independent and never quite feeling she belongs, Morven feels a greater kinship to animals than her own people. Despite ridicule, she befriends a herd of wild horses. She learns to ride and shows her clan the horses are not just a food source, but they can also help them survive. But it is not just Morven ’s people who are changed by knowledge. A brash young man from another tribe also learns from Morven. His goals, however, are not just to survive, but to conquer. Morven must learn to accept responsibility for the terrible changes she set in motion, and become a leader amongst her people, or they will die.

About the Author

Luanne Armstrong is the author of poetry, novels, non-fiction, and children ’s books. Her previous children ’s books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Chocolate Lily award, the Red Cedar award, the Canadian Library Association ’ s Book of the Year and the Silver Birch Award. Luanne teaches Creative Writing online for the university of British Columbia and lives on her farm in BC.

Friday Review – The Fault In Our Stars – and the memories it dredged up

I know I’m a little behind the times with reading and reviewing this book. I’d put off reading it because I was afraid that, given the subject matter, I’d never get through it, having lost many friends and family to the dreaded ‘C’. On a whim, when I saw it on the bookstore shelf and after reading so many wonderful things about it, I bought it. As I read the story, I was reminded of my time with a good friend with the same name as me, who I met about 6 years after her battle with breast cancer.

We were introduced when my son became a school chum of her daughter. She and her husband wouldn’t let the two teens be alone together until they had vetted us. When we finally met, we immediately hit it off. She and I had so many things in common besides our names. We had two kids, our eldest being girls and our youngest were boys. We were married in churches with the same name, although the churches were in different cities. We both worked as educational assistants, but in different school divisions. We both took care of other people’s kids when ours were little so we could stay at home instead of going out into the work place, leaving our children in someone else’s care. We both enjoyed a competitive game of Canasta when we were with our Hubbies and Cribbage when it was just the two of us. It was as though we’d been friends for decades.

We’d only known each other a couple of years when she began to experience back pain. Having had chronic back pain for years, I thought I understood what she was going through and tried to help ease her pain with the usual methods, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, after seeing her doctor several times, he discovered that her cancer had metastasized into her bones. It was hard not to burst into tears when she told me the cancer was back – and in her bones. I knew the prognosis was not good. It seemed a shame that I would lose such a close friend, even though we had not known each other very long. Fortunately, I was only working on a part time basis, so I was able to drive her to her chemo appointments. We’d play cribbage and laugh while other patients sat stoically in their chairs reading or watching TV . . . alone.

For me, 2005 was a particularly tough year right from the start. On New Year’s Day, our 5-year old kitty was experiencing such excruciating pain expressed with the most mournful sounds an animal could ever utter. We rushed him halfway across town to the nearest veterinary clinic that was open that day and was told he had a blockage caused by urinary crystals. We had two choices; put him through a surgery to widen his urethra or put him down. My daughter was so distraught, we didn’t have the heart to put him down so paid for the expensive surgery. While he didn’t have cancer, it was just the start of things to come.

My mom, for about a year or so, had literally been withering away because her vocal folds, which had taken massive doses of radiation in 1979 because of throat cancer, were failing to close when she ate or drank anything. She aspirated a bit of everything she tried to ingest and eventually gave up the battle, passing away in mid-February. Late in August, my father-in-law was rushed to the hospital because his lungs were filled with fluid. He’d had emphysema for years because of heavy smoking and his lungs could no longer function. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and the doctors gave him only a few months to live. He died the first week of September. Shortly after his funeral, I was asked to take over for a co-worker, with whom I’d worked for many years, because she was not feeling well. She was rushed to hospital for tests, but died in October before the final results came back. She had been riddled with cancer.

During that whole time, I was still helping Sue through her illness, taking her to chemo and taking her to her appointments. Her treatments ended about the time my co-worker died, which was a good thing, because I ended up working that position until Christmas when they finally found a full-time replacement. Just before Christmas, Sue was rushed into ICU because of fluid in her lungs. She developed pneumonia and died New Year’s Eve. We were able to spend a few hours with her before the end, but her death marked the end of one heck of a year.

Now you know why I hesitated to read The Fault In Our Stars.

Although it did bring all the memories flooding back, I am not sorry I read the book. Despite the grim subject matter, John Green managed to suck me into the lives of his two main characters, Hazel & Augustus. I could not stand to put the book down, because I was so quickly invested in the lives of those teenagers. I couldn’t wait to get back to the story to see how they dealt with their cancers.

John Green ran me through the gambit of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I was touched and I was angered. It was such a wonderful portrayal of people, not just the teens who were forced to face death not knowing just how much time they had left, but also those who loved them. I empathized with them all. A lot of Hazel’s feelings and observations were similar to things that I’d seen Sue suffer. Augustus reminded me of a boy from the local high school, a football player, for whom we created a fundraiser to help his mom cope with her finances when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He’d been a vibrant young man until then, just as Augustus had been playing basketball. The parents of the teens each dealt with their children’s conditions in different ways. I could feel their pain and understand why they did what they did for their children.

For those of you who haven’t read The Fault In Our Stars, I highly recommend it. John Green dealt with a difficult subject with humour and grace, just like his characters.

Oh, and one other thing, if you ever have a friend who is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, please do not feel intimidated and ignore them during their final days. They need your support at a time like that more than ever. It’s tough, I know, but I watched many people in the Cancer Care Unit who had no one with them. It’s a scary time. Although Sue shared her fears and we shared tears, that’s to be expected. The main thing was, we focused on her getting well, even though we both knew the end was closer than we wanted. As with everything in life, no one can be certain of the ‘when’, so make the most of the days you have with them.

I think that is the main point to Green’s book. By the way, while looking for a book cover image, I discovered that they will be making it into a movie, so here’s the link to John Green’s book page so you can check out a behind-the-scenes video: http://johngreenbooks.com/on-the-tfios-movie-set/

Enjoy! 🙂


Friday Review

A Turn Of Light

Well, I am officially in love with Marrowdell, the setting for Julie Czerneda’s A Turn of Light! Oh, yes, and the toads. I’ve always liked frogs, but Julie’s ‘Little Cousins’ are loyal, stoic, and courageous. Each household in Marrowdell has a house toad to stand guard for them, and I think all homes should have one, even here in the real world. 🙂

Julie sucked me into her fantasy just by hinting at its historical aspects. In the beginning, wandering along with Jenn, I was entranced by the mill, the town well, and all the quaint pioneer homes. There were hints that made me believe that the sleepy little valley was not all it appeared. Then came the arrival of the truthseer with his not-horse and faithful companion, Tyr. Bannon noticed things that others did not see, or preferred to ignore.

As a writer myself, I must commend Julie for her perfect descriptions and clever story progression. The magical qualities and beings were not revealed all at once. Like a mystery novel, certain pertinent bits of information were dropped like pebbles in the woods, marking a path to follow before arriving at one’s destination. Even the characters, themselves, did not fully comprehend the depth of the dangers and wonders around them or the consequences of what certain actions might bring down upon them. Jenn learned her lessons the hard way.

As with most coming-of-age stories, A Turn of Light explores the impulsiveness and carelessness of youth. Jenn Nalynn hated wearing shoes and avoided her chores whenever possible, often escaping to her meadow where she dreamed of leaving her home and travelling the world. (Sounds like most teenagers, right?) The closer she came to her nineteenth birthday, the more she realized her dream might never be realized. She must learn to cope with the changes that could destroy her, make an important decision about her upcoming wedding, and learn how to save the home she loved.

I hope you all get the chance to visit Marrowdell. I know I can’t wait to return there when Julie’s next book comes out. For those of you who missed my interview of Julie Czerneda, please read it here. I hope that all who live in Canada & the U.S. have a wonderful Labour Day weekend – and may the rest enjoy your shorter weekend as well. It’s the perfect time to forget about chores, like Jenn Nalynn, and indulge in the fantastic world of Marrowdell! 🙂

Friday Review – The Lake and the Library

The Lake and the Library

Today, I’d like to rave about a new fantasy tale by another local writer. The Lake and the Library, by S. M. Beiko, is an imaginative tale about Ashleigh, a sixteen-year old malcontent, who has waited ten years to hear her mother say, “Were leaving.” Getting out of the crumbling, incredibly boring small Manitoba town has been the only thing she’s talked to her friends about for more than half her life. However, now that it’s becoming a reality, she’s discovered something that threatens to keep her there forever.

The Lake and the Library is not just about a girl wishing to leave a dull life behind and finding excitement in a place that seems too good to be true, it’s an analogy of what books do, in general. They take us to places where dreams come true, where we can interact in fantasy worlds, and where spirits become real. The Library holds such magic for Ash.

When she strikes out on her own without her friends, Tabitha and Paul, to learn the secrets of a place she has always felt held a certain mystery, Ash discovers more than she bargained for. At the abandoned building, she meets an intriguing, yet mute, guy, who silently draws her away from the humdrum into a make-believe world of their own making. It’s a hurricane ride that threatens to overturn her lifeboat of reality and plunge her into the depths of madness.

I found the story fascinating. Samantha’s references to so many classics made me want to go back and immerse myself in those words, once more, and I hope it will encourage her young readers to check them out for themselves, if they haven’t already read them. Her descriptions transport the reader into the magical library and make them feel as if they are Ash, taking part in a marvelous adventure and falling in love with a boy who seems to be everything she’s been craving.

Since the Library becomes a bit of an addiction for Ash, as a reader (and a mom), I felt a certain amount of anxiety while reading, worrying how far Ash would go before she’s lost all touch with reality and what that might do to her. I would love to find out if the story affects a teen the same way or whether they’d feel like Ash and not want it to end! That shows how powerful a story this is, when I can be that drawn into the story that I feel intense motherly protectiveness towards a fictional character!

I hope you will check out The Lake and the Library and let me know what you think. Did you feel the same way I did, or did you just float along and enjoy the magic, like Ash?


The Lake and the Library book blurb:

Wishing for something more than her adventureless life, 16-year-old Ash eagerly awaits the move she and her mother are taking from their dull, drab life in the prairie town of Treade. But as Ash counts the days, she finds her way into a mysterious, condemned building on the outskirts of town—one that has haunted her entire childhood with secrets and questions. What she finds inside is an untouched library, inhabited by an enchanting mute named Li. Brightened by Li’s charm and his indulgence in her dreams, Ash becomes locked in a world of dusty books and dying memories, with Li becoming the attachment to Treade she never wanted. This haunting and romantic debut novel explores the blurry boundary between the real and imagined with a narrative that illustrates the power and potency of literacy.

About S. M. Beiko:

S. M. Beiko holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Manitoba and this is her first novel. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Friday Review – Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food (and other life lessons)

Click on the picture to link to Little Pickle Press

Spaghetti Is NOT  A Finger Food is a chapter book for early readers ages 8 to 12. While I don’t normally review books aimed at this young an age level, I was intrigued by Jodi’s character. Not only that, I think this is a book that all ages can enjoy and appreciate because, I’m sure we’ve all met people like Connor.

Working with Special children within my local school division, I have come across many Connor-like kids and, sadly, have also met teachers who just don’t get kids like Connor. I love that the author, Jodi Carmichael, is donating the proceeds of her book’s posters to Asperger Manitoba and that her publisher, Little Pickle Press, produces many books that deal with similar subject matter. 

Spaghetti gives us a humourous, yet sensitive, peek into the life of a child who is dealing with some impulse control issues. Connor is a sweet little boy who makes some unfortunate choices that land him  in trouble. His teacher and principal don’t seem to be able to connect with him and always seem to be disappointed in him. Connor does have an advocate in Mrs. Rosetti, his resource councilor, who helps him understand his impulses and how to make better choices. 

The story is written from Connor’s perspective, giving the reader some delightful insight into how his brain works. I especially liked the way he innocently suggested his teacher try a particular product – an anti-wrinkle cream – that he’d seen advertised on TV because of the way her face was all scrunched up and wrinkled with stress over Connor’s antics. In this way, Jodi shows that he is not being malicious in his actions, he just hasn’t learned how to react in certain social situations, much like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

While most children with Asberger Syndrome, or any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, are extremely intelligent, their ability to pick up on social cues is a little different from ‘the norm’ and they must learn the protocols in order to function well in our society. They need rules of conduct, very SPECIFIC rules to follow, so their actions are not considered ‘bad’ by others.  In Connor’s case, he has a vast knowledge about dogs, but can’t understand why his friend won’t let him use a stool she’s sitting on so he can reach a dog book in the library. He needs the stool because, as everyone knows, they are what one uses to stand on, unlike a chair which is used for sitting. The end result is a bit of a scuffle between the two children and, ultimately, an accident. Connor is very sorry for the consequences, but he needs Mrs. Rosetti, through the use of specifically worded questions, to figure out how to deal with a similar incident in the future. 

I think Spaghetti would be a great resource for any school because I haven’t been in any that don’t have their own versions of Connor, who are regularly misunderstood and end up in trouble if they do not have advocates such as Mrs. Rosetti standing in their corner. Teachers and classmates need to learn what makes these children tick and how to act towards them, making the educational experience better for everyone. Spaghetti, because of Jodi’s whimsical informative writing style, has won both the 2013 Gold Mom’s Choice Award and 2013 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award.

I highly recommend picking up a copy (it’s available in all formats) and getting to know Connor because you never know when you’ll meet someone just like him. Oh! And drop by on Sunday to learn more about the author, Jodi Carmichael. 🙂

Friday Review – The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews


The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley is the latest book from Jan Andrews, published by Great Plains Publications. It’s also one of her first Young Adult stories, and I think she’s done a marvelous job. Jan managed to get into the mindset of a child who has been abused and abandoned. Kyle’s trust issues are front and foremost, with good reason. He has never had anyone in his life he could rely on, until the Jones-Wardmans welcomed him into their home.

Having 3 foster kids in our family, I can certainly sympathize and understand some of the things Kyle was feeling. Although our nieces & nephew came into the family as babies and have grown up with all of us, we love them as if they had been born into the family. That being said, I doubt it would have been as easy for them if they had arrived as teenagers. These three were lucky enough to have stability, a home that has been the only foster placement they’ve had, unlike students I’ve known who were not so lucky.

Silent Summer explores the life of one such child who was bounced around from one place to the other since his father abandoned him at the age of eight. Now, as a teenager off to another foster home, he has decided that not speaking is his only way of controlling the situation in which he finds himself. Kyle steels himself against disappointment. He does not dare to hope that Scott and Jill, as they ask to be called, could possibly want him around forever. He questions their motives in his mind but does not have the courage to voice his reservations and ask why they really agreed to take him.

Despite his silence, he communicates to his foster parents through mime. The reader, however, is privy to Kyle’s thoughts and those of his imaginary figments – his father’s voice berating him and a new character that is more analytical and sympathetic, created to help him through this latest transition. Slowly, Kyle begins to adjust to his new life in the country with a dog, a cat, a herd of cows and an injured crow. The crow becomes a parody of Kyle’s life; abandoned, injured, and afraid. His new foster placement also allows him freedom to explore his creativity. Then, someone threatens to disrupt the peace he’d begun to feel – his father.

I thought this was a wonderful story. I sympathized with Kyle for reasons I mentioned above, but also because Jan was so meticulous about her character’s voice. It shines through, loud and clear, despite the absence of words to those around him. As an educator, I feel it would be a great addition to any classroom library, opening up the issue of fostering to a class – discussing good &/or bad experiences, changes that should be made to the current foster care system, and creating sympathy and understanding for those who have been through it. It’s also a terrific story for anyone who just wants to read about a teen trying to cope with a lousy life. You can follow his hopes and dreams, his anxieties and reservations. 🙂


Book Blurb (Great Plains Publications):

When no one listens, what’s the point of talking?

Kyle McGinley doesn’t say a word. Fed up with being shuttled from one foster care home to another, he has stopped speaking.  But at the home of Scott and Jill Wardman, with the help of a crow, a swamp, and an excess of black paint, he begins to think that maybe, just maybe, life could be better.

As long as his frigging dad doesn’t mess things up.

About Jan Andrews:
Four time finalist for the Governor General Literary Award, Jan Andrews is an internationally celebrated storyteller and author to more than a dozen books. 

Friday Reviews

While I do have several books I want to personally review, I am waiting on the interviews that go along with them, so I hope you will be patient until I get everything sorted out. In the meantime, there are others who have been reviewing books so I thought I’d share their links. You might want to add some of them to your summer reading list. 🙂

The first is Jennifer M. Eaton’s review of Surrender by Aimee Lane. I love her cookie ratings.

The second, if you have a passion for zombies, is a review by Derek Newman-Stilles (Speculating Canada) of Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos by James Marshall. He speculates that the story shows how “our society [has] become like zombies, not questioning, not changing, following outdated patterns, and mindlessly destroying”.

If you like poetry, here are a couple of links to sites where new works of poetry are being discussed:

Julie Catherine has a poetry collection, Poems of Living, Loving & Lore and a few more poems to share.

Christy Burmingham has just produced her collection of inspiring poems, Pathways to Illumination.

To round out the selections, Cheri Champagne has just published, Love and Deceit, the third of the Mason Sibling series of Regency Romances. These aren’t your usual period romances, with simpering leads fawning over men they can’t possess. Cheri has strong female characters who are embroiled in mystery, intrigue and high adventure, as well as antics in the bedroom!

If you’ve ever contemplated life, death and its mysteries, Evelyn Woodward’s story I Am the Gatekeeper presents a different perspective on the world around us. Evelyn also has a chilling mystery, Caught In The Web.

Finally, Cas Courcelle has her engrossing adventure, Down Dark Deep, on Kindle. It draws you in and captures you with suspense!

Do YOU have any good books you’d like to share? 🙂

Friday Review – Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors

While this is a pretty heavy topic, I still want to introduce you to this book, Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors. I could only read small parts of it at a time, because the stories these people had to tell were so horrific I could barely see the pages through my tears. It angers me when I read about how some people refuse to believe that the Holocaust ever happened. That is pure ignorance. Books like this are necessary to make us face the reality of that dark time in our history, in the hopes that it doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately, there are still countries who believe this kind of ‘cleansing’ is necessary and they must be stopped just like the Nazis in World War II.

Sorry for the rant!

Back to the book: it contains information on over 70 individuals and families living in Winnipeg, who survived the Holocaust, or Shoah, as the Jewish people refer to it. There are photos and copies of official documents, along with family histories, including those of the book’s editor, Belle Millo. Some of the data was only given in the form of a survey, because some of the people died before their stories could be told.

The surveys had been part of a project that the Manitoba Holocaust Heritage Project began many years ago, that blossomed into this incredible book, capturing the lives of those brave souls within its pages. It amazes me that, after their awful experiences, they could put it all behind them and embrace their futures. I suppose, when you’ve faced death like that, you treasure ever moment of life, from then on.

Voices only tells a few stories in the whole scheme of things, but there are thousands (millions?) out in the world who have experienced similar injustices. It’s good to know that there is now documented proof of what happened to those people over 70 years ago, so that their voices will not be lost and will be heard by each new generation.

I hope you will be able to read these stories at some point and pass them on to those who need to learn about this black era in history. Drop by on Sunday, when I will be interviewing the book’s editor. 🙂

Book blurb:

Documenting the stories of more than 70 local survivors and their families before, during and after the Holocaust, Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors was edited by Belle Millo, Chair of the Holocaust Education Committee. Gustavo Rymberg, formerly of Winnipeg produced the design and layout.

In addition to the written testimonies of the survivors, precious photographs further tell the story of a world that was lost, of entire families that were eradicated. Documents attest to imprisonment in concentration camps, confiscation of businesses by the Nazis, incarceration by the British on the island of Cyprus, to mention but a few.