Sunday 25 February 2024

Another Sunday afternoon post...

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, and I blame it on my cat’s neediness.  One of my cats is so emotionally needy that nearly every minute that I’m sitting in my reading chair, he wants to be lying on my lap, making it incredibly hard to write a post using just one hand (sometimes only two fingers!).  But he’s found another cozy spot to nap right now so I thought I’d take advantage of the ability to type with both hands and write a quick post before I start getting my supper ready.  

Two weeks ago I started reading Kelley Armstrong’s Murder at Haven’s Rock, the first in her new series that is a spin-off of the “Rockton” series.  This new series features most of the same characters as the original series, but with a few new characters thrown in.  Haven’s Rock, the new town imagined by and under the care of Sheriff Eric Dalton and Detective Casey Butler, is not quite open for business yet, but when Casey and Eric get a call from the project manager that two of her crew members have gone missing, they immediately fly in to help locate them.  When a body turns up, it’s just like Rockton all over again, dead bodies at every turn; it sort of reminds me of the small fictional British villages that always have such a high murder rate, except colder and more isolated!!  Anyway, while they are there to solve the case, they can’t help checking out the new town, this rare and unexpected sneak peek a real treat.  Haven’s Rock, named partly in honor of Rockton but with an emphasis on the “safe haven” part of the plan, is set in another remote location in the most northern part of the Yukon, but you won’t find this town on any map, either.  Strange, then, that so many individuals unconnected to the building of the town keep turning up in the wilderness for various reasons.  The plot and investigation is much like a middle-of-the-road “Rockton” novel, not her best, but not her worst (I don’t know if there IS a “worst”), but my guess is that the focus is really on setting the stage.  I definitely enjoyed it, and found it a real page-turner, although I found the plot to be a bit confusing at times in terms of the relationships between the new characters.  Still, the resolution made sense, but the real treat was the very ending, a plot twist I totally did not see coming.  And now the new book is out, so I’m planning to pick up a copy from my local bookstore soon.  Last week I read six juvenile fiction novels and graphic novels to make a start on the list of Silver Birch fiction (SB) contenders for next year, and this week I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for my book club meeting next Saturday, so I’m not really in a rush to get a copy, as I have no time to read it (I’ve got a stack of thirteen more SB books on the table waiting to be read right now!) 

That’s all for today.  Oh, and Happy (end-of) Freedom to Read Week!!  I thought it was next week, but it was actually this past week, so although it’s a week late, I would encourage you to pick up a banned or challenged book today!! 

Bye for now… Julie

Sunday 11 February 2024

Late afternoon post...

It’s late afternoon and I’m in that in-between stage of the day, where it’s definitely the end of the weekend, but it seems wrong to already be thinking about work… *sigh*...  That’s ok, as I have the upcoming long weekend to look forward to, and there are lots of exciting things happening at work this week, so it should be fun.

I read a fabulous book last week that I would highly recommend to anyone who likes satire or novels that mock traditional religions and also cults.  If this sounds like you, then maybe Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers would be a good choice for you.  In this novel, October 14 was the day that 2% of the world’s population disappeared.  Was it the Rapture?  Some believed that it was, but it made no sense, as “Hindus and Buddhists and muslims and Jews and atheists and animists and homosexuals and Exkimos and Mormons and Zoroastrians, whatever the heck they were - hadn’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour.  As far as anyone could tell, it was a random harvest, and one thing the Rapture couldn’t be was random.  The whole point was to separate the wheat from the chaff, to reward the true believers and put the rest of the world on notice.  An indiscriminate Rapture was no Rapture at all” (p. 3).  I love that passage and had to find a way to put it in this blog.  Anyway, all these people disappeared with no explanation, and three years after what the people of Mapleton, a small, typical US town, refer to as the Sudden Departure, family and friends are still trying to cope with the loss, the grief, the feelings of abandonment and hopelessness.  Some are trying to move on and lead what they consider “normal” lives, but their efforts are constantly hindered by a small cult group calling themselves the Guilty Remnants (GR), who dress all in white, take a vow of silence, smoke ceaselessly and take it upon themselves to follow these people and remind them of what they’ve lost - they will not let them forget.  Some others are so mired in guilt and loss that they have joined the Healing Hug Movement, led by spiritual leader Holy Wayne.  Still others join the Barefoot People, modern-day hippies who seek pleasure at every opportunity.  Mayor Kevin Garvey is a man who would love to move on, but his wife has joined the GR, his son the Healing Hug Movement, and his daughter Jill just seems to be coasting through life after years of academic and sports excellence.  What can Kevin do to help people move on, and how can he, too, actually move beyond his loss?  Kevin’s family members make up the central casting of this novel, but readers are treated to a myriad of community members who are all trying to cope in different ways and are at different stages of acceptance.  Never has a book exploring the different ways people grieve been so humourous  or managed to be both lighthearted and also insightful, at least in my experience.  Perotta certainly understands the human condition, and looks at the situation of loss and grief, and the ultimate experience of not knowing, from so many varied perspectives.  I borrowed the first season of the HBO series from the library, but I could barely watch it, as it was so angry and violent.  It seemed to miss the point of the novel completely, and while I didn’t think I was that invested in the book, I guess I am, as I had to turn it off.  Needless to say, I will not be watching the rest of it, but my husband, who hasn’t read the book, found it really interesting, so he may finish all three seasons.

And I hope to tell you about Kelley Armstrong’s Murder at Haven’s Rock next week.  I’m finally reading it, a year after it came out and just in time for the next book in the series, The Boy Who Cried Bear, to be published.  So far, it’s very good, like a “Rockton” novel, but not.

That’s all for today.  Have a good week, stay warm and keep reading! 

Bye for now... Julie