Friday, June 30, 2017

Maud: inspired by the life of LM Montgomery

Maud / Melanie Fishbane
Toronto: Penguin Teen, c2017.
xiii, 386 p.

What better way to end a year of reading & reviewing massive amounts of CanLit than with a book about L.M. Montgomery?

I've read all of Montgomery's own fiction works, as well as her diaries, and scrapbooks, and much of the lit crit and biographical work surrounding her life. So of course when I saw this new YA novel based on Maud's life as a young woman I had to read it.

It's aimed at the YA market so it is quite 'gentle' in the portrayal of LMM's hardships and disappointments in life. She was a very sensitive child and young woman and took things quite hard -- reasonable, really, considering the unhappiness she felt at being abandoned by her father after her mother died, and then experiencing a secondary rejection when she spent a year living with him and his second wife in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Add the difficulties of being raised by strict grandparents who didn't really support her literary ambitions, and the fact of romantic entanglements and impossibilities.

While these aren't horrific cataclysmic wars or destruction, these issues did affect LMM's life and development, and Fishbane honestly shares Maud's interaction with all of these elements of her life.

I was particularly interested in how the year in Prince Albert would be portrayed, as it was a very hard year for her, and, well, Prince Albert is my hometown. So I've always felt a connection to Maud's desire to be happy there in spite of her circumstances. She did make lifelong friends there, though, who she kept in touch with for years and years, so despite everything she didn't completely hate her time there. 

Fishbane shows both the happiness and despair that Maud experienced during the years of this novel. As Maud is first sent off to her father in a bit of disgrace, and then returns to PEI after one long year, her development from child to determined young woman and published author is delineated. 

If you are a fan of LMM you'll probably want to read this for sure. If you know any younger readers who are fans of LMM they might like this also; the writing style is a bit dry and old-fashioned -- suitably LMMish, so if they do like reading Anne for themselves they will most likely be able to adapt to this style easily. Viewers of the tv shows only might find the style a bit slower going than they are used to in comparison to many current YA/middle grade stories.

I'm not generally a big fan of fiction which takes real people as the main characters. I find it can be really off sometimes and even offensive to claim thoughts and emotions for a real person to suit a writer's purpose. In this case, though, everything that Fishbane writes comes directly out of LMM's extensive writings. Nothing is completely imagined or inserted that wouldn't be supported by the facts of LMM's life and experiences as shown in her own letters and journals. I think this would be a great introduction to a writer's life for younger readers who want to know more about their favourite books. This novel has been getting a lot of attention since its release and I think it lives up to it. Who better to read about in this Sesquicentennial year than our best-known literary export? 

So my verdict is that despite my reservations about a fictional representation of someone I'm quite familiar with, I enjoyed it and thought it gave a good perspective on the beginnings of LMM's career and some of her formative experiences. A solid addition to the LMM world. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Juby's Fashion Committee

The Fashion Committee / Susan Juby
Toronto: Penguin Teen, c2017
305 p.

I've read many of Susan Juby's other novels and enjoyed them, but this one quickly became my favourite, only a few chapters in! Maybe it's because of the theme: fashion. I love sewing, as many of you know, and in this book fashion design & enthusiasm for making takes top billing.

The chapters go back and forth between the viewpoints of Charlie Dean, a fashion-obsessed teen dying to get into the fancy local Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, via this year's fashion scholarship contest, and John Thomas-Smith, a young man whose first love is really metalwork but reluctantly throws his hat in the ring for the fashion competition because it's his last chance to get into the Academy.

Charlie is a bit of an oddball in her school; she dresses "like an old lady" according to others. To herself, though, she is stylish and chic, following the dictates of Diana Vreeland, fashion diva (which just made me love her more). Her chapters open with a "Thought" which is part Vreeland, part Stuart Smalley -- and the tone is perfectly attuned to vintage style books. Charlie designs a glorious, architectural dress for her father's new girlfriend, who she is slowly warming up to. Charlie's dad is a rehabbed drug addict, and so Charlie is always on edge about the possibility of him returning to the drug life alongside his usual sketchy girlfriends. The uncertainty of Charlie's life, emotionally, financially, practically, is drawn clearly, and her strength of conviction comes through in her determination to get what she wants. 

John, meanwhile, lives with his grandparents who are sweet and supportive. He doesn't know his father, and his mother works in a city far away, seeing him just once in a while; he has a few anger issues as a result. He has a best friend and a long-time girlfriend & the three of them are a solid trio of average teen life. As this fashion competition ramps up, though, and John gets serious about actually competing, his vision of what's possible in his life changes. And this necessarily changes the relationship between the three of them; they don't want him to change, to leave the world they've all constructed. John sees other artists of all disciplines at the Academy and realizes he does have ambitions and that artsy people are not the dorks he and his friends have always made them out to be.

So these two manage their complicated home lives even as they are rhapsodizing about fashion and ambition and possibility. The voices of each character are distinctive, realistic, and enjoyable. Juby studied fashion design herself (briefly, as she notes in the afterword) but as a result, the love of fabric and texture and design is authentic and absolutely real. I could feel my stitching mind racing after some of the descriptions of what people were making -- what fabric did they use? How could I copy that? And so on. 

It's a fast-paced story with lightness and warmth, despite the serious issues of class, drug use, domestic violence and more. There are some really touching moments, some well-developed emotional connections, and bad decisions by both characters actually have consequences. There is no fairy tale ending but there is optimism and hope nonetheless. 

I found this book uplifting and engaging, and I really loved it. Highly recommend to teens who are searching for their artistic path or who are really into the Maker scene, especially those who love Project Runway and similar things. Susan Juby is an honest and empathetic writer whose portrayals of the two unusual teens in this novel are complex and replete with understanding. It really hit all the readerly high spots for me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

13 Ways to Kill Your Community

13 Ways to Kill Your Community / Doug Griffiths
Victoria, BC: Friesen Press, c2016.
157 p.

This quick read from Doug Griffiths is packed full of fabulous content if you're thinking about how to strengthen your community. Anyone interested in community development from the viewpoint of city politics or community organizations should take a look. 

What are the 13 Ways, according to Griffiths? See below!

Each chapter looks at these "anti-suggestions", and Griffiths humorously uses the reverse psychology approach to show the problems that each of these attitudes can cause in smaller communities. He is spot on in so many ways. All thirteen of these topics are unable to be separated; complacency, self-deception, idealizing the past, rejecting the new -- all lead to the attitudes of ignoring youth, outsiders, seniors, business, etc. From one perspective this is a good thing -- starting to fix one of these issues will affect them all. 

In each chapter there are both folksy anecdotes and practical action steps for communities to consider. It's a nice combination of humour that isn't too hokey, shared experience that isn't corny, and usable, concrete information. It has made me look at things a little bit differently and think about ways to contribute to positive change, so I certainly can't complain about its efficiency!

Griffiths is from Alberta, and was a politician for 13 years, before becoming a public speaker and community development specialist via his business, 13 Ways. You can find a lot more information about what this business is and does at the link; it's a busy and vibrant cause that Griffiths is clearly passionate about. 

I enjoyed this book and its many and varied suggestions for community improvement and growth. However, Griffiths' past as a Progressive Conservative politician comes through at times with some ideas that I disagreed with, at least mildly. The idea that communities and people are responsible for their own success (mostly financial or business oriented) and shouldn't look to government for help is a little bit disingenous, I think. Government policy and assistance is often vital to getting things going both for businesses and for social services in smaller communities, and to downplay that in favour of a "personal responsibilty" approach is not all that useful, for me. Community leaders need to recognize where all of their community members are starting from and break down those kind of systemic barriers to success that can hold back many who are not the "founding families" kind of people. There isn't a lot of talk about racism, sexism and various other inhibitors to success found in most places. 

But other than that, this book would be a great starting place for more conversations in your own community. If we want to keep smaller places growing and flourishing, we need to work on it actively. This is a great resource for just that kind of thing. Recommended.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Discovering Canadian Books

What should I read for the Canadian Book Challenge?, you may be asking yourself. Fear not, there are so many places to find great suggestions for your challenge titles. 

My #1 Suggestion: The Book Mine Set

John Mutford created and ran the Canadian Book Challenge for its first 10 years, and he has fabulous year-end review roundups that you can spend hours clicking through for reviews and suggestions.
Find them all here. 

Want a few more options? Try these:

  • 49th Shelf - their tag line is: " is the largest collection of Canadian books on the Internet—and an amazing way to discover your next great read.
  • CBC Books - the bookish arm of our national broadcaster.
  • Your local library (if you are Canadian, especially)
  • Many, many Canadian book blogs. Too many to name. If you have favourites, please share them in the comments!
  • And of course, all the other participants' lists as we go along, and the reviews already on our blogs - you can search for any previous Canadian reading when you find someone who shares your tastes.

What are your favourite CanLit resources?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How Raven Returned the Sun

How Raven Returned the Sun / written by Christal Doherty & illustrated by Carla Taylor.
Yellowknife: Yellowknife Education District, c2016.

I don't usually review picture books, but this one is a bit special. I won it from the Book Mine Set as part of the Canadian Book Challenge last month, and thought I should share a little of my impressions because of that. Also, it's National Aboriginal History Month and I haven't yet shared any of the Indigenous authors I've been reading. 

This picture book is based on a Dene legend about how Raven returned the Sun to the sky after Bear stole it - because of an argument with the people living alongside him. Raven tricked Bear very efficiently and saved the people from darkness and starvation, which was caused by a touchy, ego-driven bully stealing their source of light and life. Not like this seems applicable today or anything. 

The legend was told by Dene storyteller Dora Blondin, and is based on the story from the Sahtu region on Great Bear Lake. It was made into a picture book by author Christal Doherty, with the text in English and Dene side by side, via translator Jane Modeste. Carla Taylor's illustrations are a full page opposite each page of text, and are bright and clear. I appreciated the information on all the contributors, including photos, on the last page of the book; it makes it clear that this was a team effort. 

This is a great beginner level picture book for any educator or parent who wants to incorporate legends or trickster stories into their reading. It's told at a very understandable and young level, while older kids will be able to draw more inferences from text and images alike. 

Thanks to John at Book Mine Set for offering up this fascinating book that highlights the stories and language of a specific locality. Definitely an interesting Canadian read! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pflug's Mountain

Mountain / Ursula Pflug
Toronto: Inanna, c2017.
140 p.

This novella from Inanna is an interesting one: it's apparently focused at the YA market, which I only discovered after I'd read it - though the fact that it is in the Inanna Young Feminist Series could be a clue. The good thing is, I couldn't tell, as it was also an excellent read for adults! 

The writing is consistently strong, and Pflug never talks down to a YA audience. It's simply that it's a story of Camden O'Connor, a teen in an bit of an extreme situation, through which she must find her own path.

Camden divides her time between her father Lark, a former minor rock star with a lot of money, and with him in Toronto Camden lives a 'normal' urban teen life - malls, music and so on. With her mother Laureen, however, things are different -- not much money, and a nomadic lifestyle travelling around to various encampments as part of "The Tribe". Laureen is a computer specialist, able to set up internet access almost anywhere, and her skills are in demand at the remote camps they end up at. 

But when they arrive in California during the spring thaw, and their new camp is full of various nomads of all sorts in the mud and tents and camp kitchen, Camden has to adapt to a strange new world. Laureen quickly heads down to San Francisco in search of a recent lover, leaving Camden in the care of old friends at the camp, including a young man called Skinny, who becomes a good friend to Camden and orients her to the life of the camp. Skinny has his own issues with a past full of trauma, but is a solid and supportive friend to her throughout the story.

Laureen never returns from her trip, and Camden waits and waits, adjusting to camp life. To keep her busy and to give her some direction, she is given the task of collecting stories from some of the other inhabitants of the camp. They tell stories of homelessness, trauma, financial woes, and so on -- many of them have slipped through the cracks of society and have found themselves a place here at this nomadic campsite. These stories are powerful and touching, though I did find that in such a short book they detract somewhat from Camden's own journey to both self-knowledge and to her reclamation of her birth name, Amethyst. 

The stories of other lives which Camden shares are reworked from stories that appeared in journals previously, and that might be part of the slight disconnect for me. They were all powerful personal stories of a kind that don't often get told though, so very worth exploring, and especially for a younger reader they may be eye opening. 

I thought this short book had a large impact. The characters are so viscerally present, and are complex and thoughtful people. I appreciated the perspective of a story highlighting so many kinds of lives that can be overlooked in general literature. Fortunately Camden has a place to go (to her father) at the end of the story, so there a bit of closure for the reader, knowing she'll be safe and able to continue healing from her experiences. 

This was an unusual read that I'd recommend if you want to shake up your reading habits a bit. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Artisan Gerard Brender a Brandis

Photo via WEN blog
 (the Wood Engraver's Blog)
Local artist, printmaker and bookmaker Gerard Brender a Brandis is a legend. He makes his own paper from plants he grows himself; he does glorious he has a press upon which he makes his prints and produces books of his own and those he creates alongside his sister, also a prolific author; he has an artist's studio which is open to the public for part of the year, and where you can see his artistic process and talk to him directly. 

There's a beautifully in-depth visit and interview with him posted by a visitor to his studio recently - lots of images of his stunning work and his charming self. Check it out!

He also has many books that have been published by various Canadian small presses, highlighting his art in different ways. Porcupine's Quill Press, which is located quite close by, has put out a few titles by Gerard Brender a Brandis, and I'll highlight two that I own and that I've just gone through again. 

A Wood Engraver's Alphabet is a perfect introduction. He's an expert on botany and many of the prints you can buy at his studio are studies of flora in its many guises. (The only print I own is a small lily of the valley which is so delicate and superbly beautiful). This book takes the structure of an abecedarium and illustrates it with multiple floral images - a multitude of options here. 

A brief introduction explains his choices and why he made them, as well as giving a lovely nod to his writer sister, Marianne Brandis. It's a  pretty book which really highlights his skill at this art and rewards close observation. There's not any text besides the intro, so this small book (61 p.) is really just for visual delight.

A Gathering of Flowers From Shakespeare (with quotations selected and interpreted by F. David Hoeniger) (143 p.) is exactly what it sounds like. 

It's the perfect Stratfordian mix, with many images of Shakespearean settings and botany alongside mentions of those flowers in the plays. If you want something that evokes Stratford and its best known arts, try this book! 

Hoeniger gives excerpts of a few lines of play, and then explains the import of the plants that Shakespeare chose to refer to -- why they might be important in context, what the deeper meanings were to each reference -- all in brief companion pages to the images. Most are florals, though as you can see from this cover there are also a few others; houses, sundials, bridges, interiors. It's charming and a must-read for Shakespeare aficionados. 

Stratford really is an artistic place, and I'm fortunate enough to know many artists and authors here. I'm happy to share these two books by an artist whom I admire for his kindness and his skill. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bookish Days Off Are Best

I had today off work, and sometimes a nice day plus free time to go bookstore hopping is the best of all possible worlds. 

One of my favourite excursions is to head down the road to London (Ontario) and check out all the thrift stores, ending up at the glorious 3 floor used bookshop downtown, Attic Books. It's a clean, well-organized, affordably priced and well-stocked place that I can spend quite a bit of time and money in! 

Today's sunshine and free time led us that way, and this is the result... I held myself back, by the way, and didn't buy everything I'd looked at. This is my summer book haul from both Attic and 3 thrift shops. 

Bottom to top:

An excellent book on embroidery, by Thomasina Beck

An Alan Bradley to add to my colourful series

Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, something I have been looking for for a while

Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place, ditto

Two unread titles by Kyiv author Andrey Kurkov, in perfect condition

Two Viragos that I didn't yet own, Storm Jameson's Company Parade and Radclyffe Hall's The Unlit Lamp

Two Scandinavian women in translation that I've been wanting to read, Rosa Liksom (Finnish) and Therese Bohman (Swedish)

Classic SF, Asimov's Foundation

Classic Helen MacInnes, one of the only titles of hers I haven't read

And then topping it all off, a score: 6 titles by my favourite Harlequin author, Mary Burchell (originally Ida Cook). That should keep me going for a while! 

It's always fun to uncover treasures and stock the home library. You can see a handful of my husband's purchases in the background of my picture as well... we really can't help ourselves! 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Levelling Up: Canadian Book Challenge theme!

What is this logo all about? This year's theme! 

This year we're going to be all about the road trip, crossing Canada in our literature and in the levels you'll reach as you read. As you read this year, you'll advance along a series of highways - representing most of the provinces and territories of Canada, and ending up with our longest road, the TransCanada Highway.

Here's a little bit about each one:

1 -Alert to Alert Airport Road

2 -Charlottetown Perimeter Highway 

3 - Cabot Trail 

4 - Icefields Parkway

5 - Klondike Highway

6 - ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian) Highway

7 - Coquihalla Highway 

8 - Dempster Highway 

 9 - James Bay Road

10 - Queen Elizabeth Way 

11 - Trans-Labrador Highway 

12 - CanAm Highway

I hope you'll decide to sign up for the Challenge and read your way across Canada with us!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Two Indigenous stories with art

Finishing off my week of reading graphic novels, I picked up two titles which have been getting a lot of attention (and prizes) lately. Both are on my library shelves, but I hadn't got to them yet.

First I picked up The Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire. This is the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who tried to walk home from the residential school he was sent to in 1966 - though his home was 400 miles away. Sadly he didn't make it. 

This is now a well-known story, and Downie's dedication to sharing this story and giving all the proceeds to The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation via The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at The University of Manitoba is admirable. You can learn more about how and why it was written, and hear the music and watch the animated CBC version over at the Secret Path website.

The book itself is oversize, quite large and unwieldy. It's laid out with one poem/song on a page and then illustrations to follow, with no words or dialogue. Chanie's experience is all drawn in blue/grey/white and his memories are in colour. Despite the importance of the story and the good intent behind it I didn't love this book. I think it works better in its online format, with music, as an animated short etc. rather than an oversized softcover.

Then, I read Patti Laboucane-Benson's The Outside Circle. This is based in her work with the Warrior
program focused on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men. 

In this story, two brothers struggle against a life shaped by crime and addiction. The eldest, Pete, joins a gang and eventually goes to prison. The youngest is left to manage on his own, until finally they reunite and find a long lost uncle who was separated from his siblings (their mother) as a child in residential school. 

Much of the book is about Pete's journey to self-awareness and a knowledge of his identity as an Indigenous man. The book lays out history and reasons for the social conditions they face in this story, and a move toward a more stable future as someone with a strong and respected cultural identity.

I found it very interesting, and a really good blend of text and illustration. It held a sense of hope and meaning that really touched me. There are links and information about the services that the author has been involved in at the end, as well, for anyone who wants to learn more. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Two by Two Tamakis

Two more graphic novels to add to my recent reading streak: I was told I must read some Mariko Tamaki. So I checked my library and behold, two titles by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. 

This One Summer / Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Toronto: Groundwood, c2014.
319 p.
First I read this longer book. And really liked it. Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have been vacationing at Awago Beach for years. This year, Rose, who is older, is starting to notice boys. She and Windy observe the development of a local crisis as the weeks go by, while Rose also tries to manage her parents who are arguing and distant. 

Both of these storylines meld, coming to a head in one incident at the shore. It's a simple book, with sketched blue & white illustrations, but with so much feeling in it. The drowsiness and pace of a summer at the lake is clearly evoked, as are all the relationships that drive the story. Rose and Windy's friendship is realistic and engaging; the story that emerges to explain Rose's mother's depression and anger makes so much sense. And the local drama between teen lovers is both everyday and intense. These young girls are realizing that everyone around them has a secret, and in their own friendship there are things they don't tell others about, nothing scandalous, just their own.

I thought it was lovely, intriguing, and evocative. I really enjoyed this book. If you want to feel like you've had a trip to the lake this summer, read this book.

Skim / Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Toronto: Groundwood, c2008.
143 p.

This much briefer book is for a slightly older crowd. In it, Skim is a teen goth at a fancy private girl's school. When one of the cool girls, Katie, is dumped by her boyfriend - who then goes on to kill himself - it upends the school. A clique of cool girls starts a club, Girls Celebrate Life!, which strangely enough Katie doesn't feel like joining when she finally returns to school with unresolved anger and two broken arms. Skim, generally a bit of an outsider as a wannabe Wiccan Goth, befriends her, understanding her emotional upheaval.

Skim herself is going through quite a bit of emotional stress. She's fallen in love, with someone she really shouldn't have, and any relationship will be doomed from the start. This book is darker and more steeped in the angst and heartbreak of being young and questioning everything, including your own sexuality, identity, and reason for living. It wasn't all gloom, even if the subject matter was very serious - there was a touch of lightness and a sympathy with the reader inherent in it. Although the subject was darker than the first book I read by the Tamakis, the illustrations were brighter, more intense. I did feel, though, that the ending was inconclusive and a bit unsatisfying for me. 

It was well done and absorbing, but in the end I think I preferred This One Summer just a bit more. Still, both are really worth exploring.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Seconds & Snotgirl

Seconds / Bryan Lee O'Malley
Toronto: Random House Canada, c2014.
322 p.

This is a graphic novel that was on the 2016 Ontario Library Association's Evergreen Award list, and I read it then but never reviewed it. I've just picked it up again for a reread and realized what a great story it is.

I really enjoyed the philosophical underpinning of this tale -- the idea that our life is what it is and do-overs aren't really that helpful -- and enjoyed the fun illustration style as well. 

Katie is head chef at Seconds, a fashionable restaurant. But that's not enough, she wants to start her own restaurant where she'll be owner as well. While she waits, she lives in the tiny apartment upstairs. But Seconds is an old building, and there is a house spirit living there. Lis appears when something goes terribly wrong, and a server is burned. She gives Katie a magic mushroom that will give her a chance at a do-over - in the morning, none of the disaster had happened. 

But Katie gets greedy, wanting her new restaurant to be ready sooner, wanting to get her ex back, wanting, wanting, wanting. And when she finds more mushrooms in the cellar, there's nothing to stop her from eating them and shifting reality every night.

But changing history is not so easy or so result-free. Katie gets more and more tangled in alternative timelines and spirits, until things are a confusing mess. Only when she accepts that her original life is good enough and should be lived as is, do things fix themselves. 

This was a clever, funny, visually interesting and magical story that read quickly. It was entertaining and thought-provoking and just as good on the second read. 

Snotgirl v.1: Green Hair Don't Care / Bryan Lee O'Malley & Leslie Hung
Portland, OR: ImageComics, c2017.

Snotgirl just arrived in my library, and was the incentive for me to pick up Seconds again. Snotgirl is quite different, though with some similiarites, both in drawing style and in the main character as a messed up 20 something with an ex, who gets involved with something perhaps supernatural, and definitely beyond her ken. 

Lottie Person is a fashion blogger, living the glamorous life... until you get to see her off screen. She refers to others, especially other fashion bloggers, by cutesy nicknames, since that's the only way she can remember anyone. Have I mentioned that Lottie is just a little self-absorbed? Her friends are Cutegirl, Normgirl, etc etc. Then she meets Coolgirl, a truly glamorous It Girl who seems interested in her as an inspiration and mentor. But Lottie's allergies and her emotional swings lead to Coolgirl giving her a nickname: Snotgirl. 

With an ex and his new girlfriend in the picture, and an incident with frenemy Coolgirl that Lottie can't quite recall the facts of, she is a mess. When Normgirl has a fancy engagement party, and they all end up in the same place, disaster strikes -- and the volume ends! Can't wait to get my hands on Vol. 2. This volume includes comic books 1-5, as it originated as a monthly comic book series.

This was a lot of fun, with some more touching bits thrown in about Lottie's questions about real life vs. blog life, and the quest for authenticity.

I enjoyed the style of it and thought it captured the modern existence of the lifestyle blogger effectively -- and humorously too. Lottie is a good balance of popular and messed up, not too much of either, and the story has legs. While I don't usually read a lot of graphic novels, I've had fun with both of these this week.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge: one month countdown

One more month to think about signing up for the 11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge! I hope to see many readers joining in this year, as we are going to have a lot of fun with it. 

The Challenge part is easy: to read and review 13 books from July 1 2017 to July 1 2018. You can do it! 

Get full details and sign-up information here.

I'll be sharing some inspiration for your book choices over the next weeks, along with more details about our Theme and what names our reading levels will take, and a few other fun things, too.

Including a wonderful incentive: Simon & Schuster Canada is sponsoring our very first month, and is offering a wonderful 13 book prize pack to anyone who signs up to the challenge by the end of July. They want to get people started on their 13 Book Challenge! More information on the contents of this prize pack coming soon.