Tuesday, July 22, 2014

7th annual Canadian Book Challenge: Summary post

This year I participated in the 7th annual Canadian Book Challenge. This is an online reading challenge hosted by The Book Mine Set: the Book Blog with a Canadian Bias. Participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. A Canadian book is a book written by a Canadian author or set in Canada.

This was my 2nd year participating in the challenge. I read only 10 books for the challenge this year, but I was happy with that accomplishment.

I read these books for the challenge this year:

Unholy Ground by John Brady
The author was born in Dublin but immigrated to Canada at the age of 20. The first book in the series won the Arthur Ellis award for Best First Novel. The next four books in the series were all finalists for the Arthur Ellis award for Best Novel. The protagonist is Matt Minogue, a Detective Sergeant in the Murder Squad, a division of the Gardai, the Irish police force. The death of a elderly resident of Dublin is being investigated; he appears to be merely a British citizen who had settled in Ireland. It turns out he was connected to MI5 in the United Kingdom. This book was published in 1989, and is set in Dublin, Ireland. Thus the political issues in Ireland at the time are a big factor.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
The 4th, 5th, and 6th books in a series, set in post World War II Britain, in the village of Bishop's Lacey. Flavia narrates the stories. She is the youngest daughter (around 11 years old) in the de Luce family, and lives with her two sisters and their father in an ancient country house.

The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott is a historical novel set in the years preceding and during World War I. It is the story of three sisters, teenagers as the story begins, who travel with their mother to support the family as a vaudeville act. I loved this book and it is hard to describe why. I was engaged in the story immediately. I loved the way the author switched back and forth between the sisters (especially) and the mother (occasionally). This book covers the years from 1912-1917 and thus World War I figures a great deal. That was also a plus for me. I like to learn about wars in a fictional setting.

Under the Dragon's Tail by Maureen Jennings
This is the second book in the Murdoch Mysteries series, published by Maureen Jennings in 1998, and featuring William Murdoch, an Acting Detective in Toronto in the late 1800's. Maureen Jennings does a wonderful job of portraying Victorian-era Toronto.
We also get well-developed and interesting characters. Without dwelling on Murdoch's past, the author conveys how his childhood has affected him, and his continuing grief for his fiancee who died of typhoid, at the same time he yearns for a relationship with a woman. Maybe he is a tad too perfect, but I can live with that. Constable George Crabtree, and several of the suspects at varying levels of society are also well-defined; their portrayals contribute to the overall portrait of the city, its poverty and its inhabitants. 

The Night the Gods Smiled by Eric Wright
Eric Wright was born in 1929 in South London, England and immigrated to Canada in 1951. He is an academic; he taught English at Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto from 1958  to 1989. Four of his novels have been awarded the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel, including this one. 
This book gives us some insight into the relationship between the French areas of Canada and the English speaking areas. Toronto police detective Charlie Salter is assigned as liaison to a case of murder that takes place in Montreal, because the victim is from Toronto. It is the kind of case that his department doesn't have the time or inclination to deal with, so it is passed down to him. He is thrilled to get it, since he has been working essentially as a "gofer". He works with Sergeant Henri O'Brien from Montreal, and they develop a nice relationship along the way.

In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany
This mystery novel is set in the fictional mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. Constable Molly Smith is assigned to assist veteran Detective Sergeant John Winters in a murder investigation. Although Molly (also know as "Moonlight") is a rookie, she has insider knowledge of the community that Winters does not have; on the other hand she is closely involved with various persons who could be suspects. There were a lot of elements to the story: draft dodgers who had moved to Canada years earlier, ecological issues associated with a resort development, treatment of women in police departments, and the complexity of family relationships and working relationships.

Sleep While I Sing by L. R. Wright
This book is the second in a series by L.R. Wright (1939- 2001). The series features RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg and is set in a small town on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. This second entry in the series starts with the discovery of a dead woman in a secluded area. The woman remains unidentified. An artist's sketch is made and distributed, but does not generate the identification they were hoping for.
L. R. Wright excels at characterization. Karl is a loner and divorcee who misses his family. He has his problems, but he is happy in his work and good at it. The secondary characters and side plots are interesting. The writing is understated.

The Film Club by David Gilmour
Overview from Dundurn Press: "The Film Club is the true story about David Gilmour's decision to let his 15-year-old son drop out of high school on the condition that the boy agrees to watch three films a week with him. The book examines how those pivotal years changed both their lives." I read this book as much for the commentary on the films watched as for the story of Gilmour's experiences during those years. 

I will be signing up for the 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge as soon as I read my first Canadian book for the challenge.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, 10 out of 13 is excellent and I think you read different kinds of novels, including some memorable ones, for this Canadian challenge. Good luck to you for 2014-15.

col2910 said...

Well done, and good luck for 2014. I won't be signing up though I have loads of Canadian books to read. I was tidying earlier in the month and found my LR Wright book, plus I recovered the boxes stored in my mother-in-law's attic. The library is complete again, if still dis-organised!

Anonymous said...

Tracy - Well done with this challenge! And you've read an interesting variety of books, too. I'm quite impressed!

TracyK said...

Thanks, Prashant. I am looking forward to reading more Canadian authors in the next 12 months. And maybe even increase the variety.

TracyK said...

Col, I had a long list of the Canadian authors that I have, but now I am getting behind and have more that I am not tracking. Oh well, I will get to them sooner or later.

TracyK said...

Margot, I was happy with the variety in this set of books.

Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: Congratulations on the books you read for the Challenge. It is hard to read all the books you want in a given year. I will be interested to see what you are reading this year for the Challenge. Maybe you can make a reading trip to Saskatchewan!

TracyK said...

Bill, I am sure I will be reading about Saskatchewan. I will definitely be reading more Gail Bowen and Anthony Bidulka (although he travels around a bit).

w said...

How did you like the John Brady book? A friend of mine loves him and did a guest post on my blog several years ago.

TracyK said...

Keishon, I liked this one and the first one, which I had read the year before. I plan to continue reading them, when I find copies. I like the character and the plots are good.

Clothes In Books said...

Impressed by how well you did on this challenge. Several of those books familiar to me!

TracyK said...

Yes, Moira, recommendations from both you and Colm there. I hope to try more books by Marina Endicott.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I'm going to have to track down The Little Shadows. That sounds like one that both Mary and I would enjoy.

I'm so over the moon about the Flavia books. I cannot wait until March for the next one in the series. Although, mystery-wise, what I am most anticipating is the next Louise Penny book in the Gamache series, which drops August 26th!

TracyK said...

The Little Shadows is a very good book. Long but worth it.

I am also looking forward to the next Flavia book. I am not so far along in the Louise Penny books, I have only read the first two. That is another author I will be including the 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.