What I Read – March 2018

Read:

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday Canada, 2011)

More style than substance though I enjoyed it while I was reading it. A month (or less) later, I can’t remember much but it entertained me at the time.

And No Birds Sang – Farley Mowat (McClelland & Stewart, 1979)

Mowat is a Canadian classic and I’ve read a few of his books now, all ranging broadly in subject. This is his memoir of his time serving during World War Two. It was recommended to me by a friend who has served in the Canadian armed forces. It’s an honest and brutal book.

(I reviewed a young adult novel by Mowat, The Curse of the Viking Grave, here.)

Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger (Bantam Books, 1986)

A re-read. Sometimes you just need some quick, interesting short stories, you know?

A Mariner’s Guide to Self-Sabotage – Bill Gaston (Douglas & McIntyre, 2017)

I wrote a review for this one! Read it here.

The Icarus Girl – Helen Oyeyemi (Nan A. Tales/Doubleday, 2005)

And another review! Read it here. Maybe I’ll actually start writing real reviews again.

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller (Anansi, 2015)

Still hoping to write a real review for this book. Stay tuned…

Didn’t Finish:

The Gift of Rain – Tan Twang Eng

(After hearing multiple recommendations of this book I was really disappointed. I just could not get into it and found the beginning dragged on and on until I gave up. What clinched its abandonment for me was also the repeated negative portrayals of all things Chinese. As far as I could see, it wasn’t necessary and added nothing to the story other than making me dislike the narrator.)

Currently Reading:

The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was a Child I Read Books – Marilynne Robinson

Funny Once: Stories – Antonya Nelson

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains – Yasuko Thanh

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What I Read – July 2016

Revolutionary RoadRichard Yates (Vintage Contemporaries, 2008)

A Tangled Web – L.M. Montgomery (Bantam Books, 1989)

The Painted Kiss – Elizabeth Hickey (Atria Books, 2005)

The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers – Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw Hill, 2005)

Six Walks in the Fictional Wood – Umberto Eco (Harvard University Press, 1994)

The Vegetarian – Han Kang (Portobello Books, 2015) (translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith)

The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be – Farley Mowat (Pyramid Books, 1968)

Currently Reading:

Rumours of Another World – Philip Yancey

The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Don’t forget! You can follow along with what I’m reading in real time on Instagram @karissareadsbooks.

What I Read – September 2015

Here’s what I read this month. Reviews are up or coming.

1. Beijing Confidential – Jan Wong (Doubleday Canada, 2007)

My review is here.

2. The Curse of the Viking Grave – Farley Mowat (McClelland & Stewart, 1966)

Read my review here.

3. What’s So Amazing About Grace? – Philip Yancey (Zondervan Publishing House, 1997)

4. The Navigator of New York – Wayne Johnston (Vintage Canada, 2002)

5. Death Benefits – Sarah N. Harvey (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)

6. My Secret Sister – Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith (Pan Books, 2013)

7. Roverandom – J.R.R. Tolkien (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002)

8. The Lotus Eaters – Tatjana Soli (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011)

9. The Sorrow of War – Bao Ninh (Riverhead Books, 1993)

10. Going After CacciatoTim O’Brien (Broadway Books, 1999)

11. Crazy Love – Francis Chan (Gale Cengage Learning, 2007)

Currently Reading:

The Tenderness of WolvesStef Penney

Love Wins – Rob Bell

Didn’t Finish:

The Everlasting Man – G.K. Chesterton

I told myself I would keep reading it until the end of September and then let it go. I’m pretty close to the end but I’m leaving it be. As close as I am, I’m still not entirely sure what the books about and I don’t agree with much of it. I’d recommend reading Orthodoxy instead.

Book Review: The Curse of the Viking Grave – Farley Mowat

The Curse of the Viking Grave, McClelland & Stewart, 1966

The Curse of the Viking Grave, McClelland & Stewart, 1966

I’ve had this book – a copy that my dad apparently received as a Christmas gift in 1966 – on my shelf for years and never read it or realized that it’s a sequel to Lost in the Barrens. Fortunately, you don’t need to have read that more famous novel to follow the plot in this one.

Farley Mowat is in a league of his own when it comes to Canadian literature. And in most other things. He famously held himself apart from popular Canadian authors and never seemed too concerned with being accepted by either them or the population in general. I’m not sure if he would have been a pleasant person to spend time with or not (he had a lot of strong opinions, to put it mildly) but he definitely would have been fascinating to talk to and I do know that when a friend of mine wrote Mowat a letter a couple of years ago, Farley Mowat wrote a kind and personal letter back.

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The Curse of the Viking Grave follows the adventures of Jamie, Awasin, and Peetyuk, as well as Awasin’s sister, Angeline, as they journey even further north of Hudson Bay to collect a Viking treasure they found previously. (I believe this discovery occurs in Lost in the Barrens.)  They need money desperately to help their guardian and Jamie’s uncle, Angus, who has fallen ill away from home. They are also evading capture by the Mounties. The reader follows their summer journey, first by dog sled, and then by canoe down the Big River. We watch the Inuit tribe hunt caribou and learn about the trap lines the boys keep. There’s lots of neat information folded into the story in a readable manner.

This is a quick and easy-to-read adventure story. Like other books by Mowat, there’s a lot of information packed in. We learn about nature, a little of history, some local mythology, and about the ways of First Nations Peoples living north of Hudson Bay. Although some of the language Mowat uses is dated (referring to Peetyuk’s people as Eskimos, for example), it’s understandable giving the era in which the book was written and Mowat is undeniably respectful of the people he wrote about. We are given lots of reasons to admire their methods and ways of life and he doesn’t infantilize them or disparage them. If any of the characters come off poorly or needing help, it’s Jamie. (The way Peetyuk’s speech is written did drive me crazy though.)

Where the story lacks is in tension. Since the Viking treasure was found previously to the action of this novel, they’re really just going to pick it up and take it to another place. I never doubted that they would do so successfully so, when you think about it, it’s the story of one long errand. Mowat’s writing, however, remains engaging and fascinating and I think would still grab a young and maybe reluctant reader who might be interested in adventures and wilderness. The setting is done well and is really the highlight of this story.

Next Week’s Review: What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey