Showing posts with label 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2021. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Every year Canada's Broadcasting Corporation or CBC as it is more commonly known, releases a short list of five Canadian books. It's a battle of the books competition in which the five books are brought forward by five Canadian celebrities and in March they come together over five days to debate the merits of the books eliminating one each day. On the final day, a winner is proclaimed the book that we should all read. 

I thought I would give you a brief review of the Canada Reads program and the books that were nominated this year. It was interesting to learn a bit about each of the books and consider adding them to my reading list. Obviously since I have not read them, I cannot personally vouch for them though I can give you a brief description, share the official Canada Reads book trailers, and, at the end, tell you the name of this year's winner.  I might help to know that these books have often been nominated for other literary awards.

Here we go, the nominated books for 2021 under the theme 'One Book to Transport Us'.


BUTTER HONEY PIG BREAD BY FRANCESCA EKWUYASI 

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread transports the reader from Lagos to London to Halifax. It is the story of three generations of women from Nigeria, a mother and her estranged twin daughters. The mother "believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision." This book is about food and family and forgiveness, about choices and consequences, and about friendship and faith. 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.4 out of 5 by Goodreads readers. 

Writing on The Suburban author Meredith says that this book "ended up being her personal favourite to win the 2021 competition. It was a book that she simply didn’t want to put down and a story that she didn’t want to end."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




TWO TREES MAKE A FOREST: IN SEARCH OF MY FAMILY'S PAST AMONG TAIWAN'S MOUNTAINS AND COASTS 

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Two Trees Make a Forest transports the reader to Taiwan and is a book about memory, love, and landscape, about finding a home, about the distance between people and places and how they meet. 

The author uncovers letters written by her immigrant grandfather that take her from Canada to her ancestral home in Taiwan where she searches for her grandfather's story while learning about the land that he grew up on. She hikes and bikes and swims. She learns about the mountains and the flatlands, the flora and the fauna. She discovers the similarities between natural stories and human stories that created her family and this island. The book is about the world of nature but it also looks at the colonial exploration of Taiwan. It "encompasses history, travel, nature, and memoir."

Rated 4.1 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 3.6 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

The reviewer on Bomb says, that this book is "A remarkable exercise in careful attention, be it to the nuances of language, the turns of colonial history, or a grandfather’s difficult-to-read handwriting, Two Trees Makes A Forest is a moving treatise on how to look closely and see truthfully, even as the fog rolls in."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN BY C.L. POLK

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain transports the reader to Regency England. It is a fantasy novel set in a world that looks like Regency England where women must give up their ability to perform magic when they get married. Obviously, this means that you have something else to think about when you are a mighty sorceress and aspire to be the best female magician. In this book the main character wants to be come a full Magus and continue pursuing magic like men do but her family needs her to be a debutante during Bargaining Season and marry to save them financially. She finds the key to becoming a Magus but it is twisted up with the brother of a handsome, compassionate, wealthy man. The question becomes, will she become a Magus and ruin her family or will she marry the man she loves and give up her magic and identity? 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.2 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

Colleen Mondor on Locus says, "The witty exchanges are indeed sparkling and the verbal cuts are of the sharpest varieties. Polk is so clearly in her element that readers will be carried away by the sheer radiance of her smartly crafted prose and, like me, sorely miss Beatrice when they make that final and satisfying turn of the page."

Here's the official Canada Reads trailer for The Midnight Bargain:




HENCH BY NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS 

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench transports the reader to the world of superheroes and villains. As a young woman working as a temporary office employee, she finds a great job as a hench. Howver, things go wrong, the hero leaves her injured and she gets laid off. Using her internet prowess, she finds out that what happened to her is not unique and when she shares her story, she no longer feels powerless. She discovers that the differences between good and evil may boil down to marketing, which she knows how to manipulate. When she is once again employed, albeit this time to one of the worst villains out there, she discovers she could save the world. 

This book is a novel of love and betrayal and revenge and redemption. It is a look at the cost of justice via "a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics." 

The readers on Amazon gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 and the readers at Goodreads gave it a 4.15 out of 5.

In the promotional information about the book, Seanan McGuire says "Hench is fast, furious, compelling and angry as hell." On NPR, Jessica P. Wick says, "Although the author tackles serious issues like how women are treated in the workplace, or how friendships might splinter under the weight of fear, Hench is steeped in the glorious campiness of Golden and Silver Age superheroes. There are lava guns! Mind control devices! Costumes! Lairs! Supercars! Awe! Names like Doc Proton, the Accelerator, the Tidal Four, Electric Eel, the Cassowary, the Auditor. It's fun. It's emotional. It feels like a friend. But it's not comforting. I think it might be terribly honest, and I honestly can't wait to see what Natalie Zina Walschots does next with the genre."

Here's the official book trailer for Hench:




JOHNNY APPLESEED BY JOSHUA WHITEHEAD 


Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Johnny Appleseed takes us to the world of an Indian glitter princess. Our main character is trying to forge a life off of the reserve in the big city and becomes a cybersex worker in order to survive. He has to go back to the 'rez' and his former world for the funeral of his stepfather. What follows are seven days. Seven days full of stories that include "love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and heartbreaking recollection of his beloved grandmother." As he readies to return home, he figures out how to put together his life in this look at "First Nations life which is full of grit, glitter, and dreams."

Amazon reviewers give Johnny Appleseed a 4.3 out of 5 and reviewers on Goodreads, a 4.1 out of 5.

The Globe and Mail says, "Despite its often serious subject matter, Jonny Appleseed is a very funny book, in the same way that Indigenous people themselves are often very funny despite our traumas. In that way, reading this book felt to me like home. Every line felt like being back on Six Nations, laughing with my family, even though I was in my apartment in Brantford. With its fluid structure and timelines, Jonny Appleseed creates a dream-like reading experience – and with a narrator as wise, funny and loveable as Jonny, it’s the sort of dream you don’t want to wake up from."

Here's the official book trailer for Johnny Appleseed:




AND THE WINNER IS...


After five sessions of debate that you can watch on CBC by clicking right here, the panel voted Johnny Appleseed as the winner. In my mind, though I have yet to read any of these books and they may not all appeal to everyone, these books are all winners in their own ways.  

Here is the highlights reel from the five debates. It gives a further insight into each of the books, into the passion behind the individual presenting the book and into the varied and interesting stories written within.



That's it. The 2021 Canada Reads book list. There are a bunch of books here that I would never have picked randomly but some of the storylines and some of the reviews from other individuals have left me thinking that I might read them. How about you? Are there any books on this list that you find intriguing? Any that you have read?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:



CBC's Canada Reads Book List 2021






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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hope for a New Year, Sunflowers Plant of the Year for 2021 A Garden Review

Everyone I know has had enough of 2020, so even though Christmas is still a day or two away, it's time to look forward! 

There seems to be many authorities on Plant of the Year for 2021 and I know we all need something to look forward to, so I'm going with the authorities at the Winnipeg Free Press!  They (and I agree with them) have dubbed 2021 the Year of the Sunflower!


There is so much about sunflowers that I just love and I'm going to fill you in on just a few of them.

  1. They are easy to grow from seeds.
  2. They will grow without any help from you.  No fertilizers, no need to baby them!
  3. By summertime, you will have a beautiful stalk of bright yellow flowers (or some other cultivar).
  4. They are beautiful cut flowers that last a long time.
  5. The bees will love you!  as well as butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, and other insects that all feed on the nectars they produce.
  6. The flowers are interesting not only for their colors (and there are many) but also for the seeds they are producing.
  7. If you are into "mathematics", they love working the Fibonacci Sequencing with the seed heads as they are revealed in growth patterns in nature.
  8. The seed heads are food for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice and more.
  9. You can bake the seeds for human consumption too!  But you can also eat them raw.
  10. You can have a variety of sunflowers growing together.  They will delight you in so many ways.
So when you think of sunflowers are you just thinking of the big yellow multi petalled flower?  There are so many more varieties of sunflowers than the traditional yellow.  

Sunflower "Elf" is probably the shortest growing at stems of 16 inches or so in height.  Then there is one called Sunforest Mix which can grow up to 10 feet tall.  The seed heads can measure almost 12 inches across!  As it's name implies, if you plant a bunch of these you will have a "Sunflower Forest" growing.  What could be more beautiful?  The bees, birds and small wildlife will thank you!

Did you know that Sunflowers are also yellow with orange centers, or white?  Some varieties have just a few layers of petals around the seed head, while others are so full of petals that they look fuzzy!  

One thing that they all have in common is that they will surely bring a smile to your face!


Ripening Seed heads! Just one sunflower can produce hundreds of seeds.  That will feed a lot of birds!

            This bird can hardly wait for the seeds to ripen on this seed head and he's helping himself to a delicious snack!

Seed heads are easy to harvest.  Just grab a sharp knife (be careful) and cut the seed head off.  You don't need to remove the seeds from the rest of the flower head, unless you want to.  Turn the heads upside down and suspend them with some string and the birds will come for them.  If you have lots of seed heads, you might want to ration them out a head at a time, so that as winter sets in you still have some heads for the birds.  Sunflower seeds are a great source of food for the birds in the winter months.  They are loaded with oils that birds need for energy during the coldest months of the year.  

If you want to get an idea about how many colors and sizes of Sunflowers there are, here is a link to HGTV's 13 Crazy and Colorful Sunflowers!  

I think I would love to have a few acres that I could plant with sunflowers of all types, can you just imagine the riot of color that would be seen? 

As we lead up to Christmas, I won't fill your minds with too much more than beautiful pictures of the Sunflowers that hopefully will grace your gardens in 2021.  In the language of flowers, sunflowers mean Adoration, Loyalty, and Longevity!  We( all the writers) at Review This Reviews, adore our fans and readers.  We will loyally bring you a variety of reviews that you will enjoy and we want to be with you and have you visit us often.   A very fitting flower for us, for this time of year and the year to come.  


Decorate your life with a little sunshine that lasts and lasts.  Sunflowers are just one of the cheeriest flowers and so charming in their own way!





I can't think of a flower that would make me smile bigger and longer than the sight of a bright yellow or red sunflower!



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