Tin Man

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.

Ellis and Michael are twelve-year-old boys when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between? 

Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living. 

 

This book is written from the perspective of each of the main characters, first Ellis secondly Michael.  The narrative of Ellis each covers many years, jumping back and forth, I found this difficult to follow at times.  Michael’s narrative is taken from his journals and thus follows a more direct timeline.  This book deals with relationships, how they can be interpreted differently by the parties and how one decision can alter lives. Not sure how I feel about this book, it wasn’t my favorite but I get the point.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.

 

Cute and enjoyable are the words that come to mind about this book.  It was a nice easy read dealing with the ackwardness of high school and how first impressions can be very wrong.  The main character learns, the hard way, how to fit in, how important it is to just be yourself and know what you really want.  Hard lessons for a teenager realized in a comedic way.

 

Sadie

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

 

The only thing that is disappointing about this book is that Sadie remained missing. It was a very interesting read to follow how she tracked Keith and to see how far she would go out of the love she had for her sister.  This book is very true to life (I believe) in that some of the worst people can appear so kind and unfortunately parents are often so overwhelmed by life that they don’t notice the small changes in their children. 

What They Don’t Know

Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.

Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice―a choice she must face alone.

Lise stands up―and speaks out―for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her…all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.

Told through Mellie and Lise’s journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie’s struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the two girls on their journey.

 

This book is written in the form of journal entries by 2 characters.  It delves into the controversial topic of abortion and the varying emotions that a woman can experience while weighing the moral aspects of abortion.  The author does an excellent job of showing the internal struggle of making the decision to have an abortion. This is a very timely book with great insight into the matter.  It also deals with family relationships and friendships showing how family relationships can go awry and that friendships can last even if the parties are not close.

Moon of the Crusted Snow

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community loses communication. Days later, it goes dark. Cut off from the urban realm of the south, many of its people become passive and confused. They eventually descend into panic as the food supply dwindles, with few hunters left in the First Nation. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives from a city in the south to escape a crumbling society. Soon after, others follow. The community leadership is faced with the dilemma of allowing the urban refugees to live with them on their territory. Tensions rise, and as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again, while they grapple with a grave decision.

 

I did not know what this book was about when I started but it quickly became apparent.  How do people deal when the modern conveniences they have become accustomed to are suddenly removed from their lives?  This book chronicles how a town of indigenous people react which shows how bad things can get, which will definitely come as a shock to some.  I didn’t particularly like this book, it seemed that the events were too contrived, jumping to the worst case very quickly.

February Prize Draws

The first round of prize draws was held at a pizza lunch on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.  There were many prizes to be won with each participant receiving coupons for Taco Time and buy one get one 50% off Booster Juice as well as a few draws for a free Big Mac.  Draws were also made for some bigger prizes with Sierra Gold winning a $10 Burger King gift card and a Tigers team signed hockey stick, Meray Mayer won a $25 Mall gift card and Ashtyn Gold won a $25 Boston Pizza gift card, a Cineplex 2 for 1 and the Grand Prize of a Kindle e-reader.   The next prize draw will be held at the beginning of June so there is still time to read the books and get entered.

 

People Kill People

People kill people. Guns just make it easier.

A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?

One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?

 

Ellen Hopkins did not disappoint once again.  This is a great book detailing the emotions people can go through which push them toward violence, how easily they can snap but also how they can change after a bad event.  It also shows how easily innocent people can be killed by the wide spread easy access to guns in the USA.

The Hazel Wood

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

This book is a fantasy and I do not particularly like fantasies so I really did not enjoy it at all.  I guess if you are into this type of story it was probably very good. There were many different facets to it with numerous fairy tales interwoven that all come together in the end.  I found following the main character to be quite the task and not an enjoyable one.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions. 

 

I quite enjoy historical books.  It is always interesting to see things from the point of view of people who lived during the time.  This book does not disappoint. It sets out the hardships endured, the cruelty encountered but it also shows how the prisoners were able to keep a flicker of hope alive.  A first hand accounting of the life (good and bad) of a prisoner tasked with tattooing new prisoners. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel

Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

I read this novel many years ago which definitely helped to understand this graphic novel.  I’m not sure how much one would really understand of this book without the background provided in the novel.   This book illustrates a very different world from what we live in, the extreme that could happen. Did I enjoy it – no. I didn’t enjoy the book the first time and the graphic novel did not change my opinion.  Maybe this is because it goes against everything that I believe the world should be. I believe in equality, all people being equal, and the world depicted in this book is the polar opposite.