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Snow Job

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Another hilarious and unexpected romp with bumbling BC lawyer Arthur Beauchamp, the crazy Garibaldi island neighbours, and his wife Margaret as leader of Canada's Green Party. A terrorist bombing in Ottawa shocks everyone, and Arthur is asked to help some idealistic nationalists from the fictional Bhashyistan, near Albania and Macedonia. The RCMP and CSIS have spies everywhere, the Conservative government is in trouble, oil companies are plotting and the greens are opposing them, a crazy spy is stalking Margaret and Arthur... The plot romps along unpredictably, full of Canadian political satire and all kinds of jokes. You'd think a Canadian political thriller would be an oxymoron, but this one's a delight.
Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada

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I loved this one. Lots of interesting travel memoir and family reflections, lots of Canadian history notes on different areas and different time periods. Very entertaining. Would be a good cottage book to browse on lazy afternoons, or naturally a good one to read on a Canadian road trip.
An Enchantment of Birds: Memories from a Birder's Life

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Each chapter portrays a different bird species found in Canada, some common and some endangered, with interesting accounts about their behaviour and habitat, why some are endangered, why some have become less abundant or have changed locations over time, and why the author knows and likes these birds. An appealing read for amateur birdwatchers and students of nature and the environment.
Easy Spanish Phrase Book: Over 770 Basic Phrases for Everyday Use

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A thin, simple guide for tourists. Latin-American usage, but would mostly be understood in Spain. This has been an extremely useful guide for a family trip in Mexico. All the basics are here, 750 basic phrases in only 50 pages: pronunciation, greetings and introductions, travel by air, taxi and automobile, customs and baggage, hotel, restaurants and food lists, banks and money, shopping and services, health and medical concerns, and words for the weather, the days of the week and more. In particular, we found the travel, restaurant and automobile repair sections extremely helpful. (We were able to find a man to repair a flat tire in rural Mexico, very quickly and cheaply!) The brief sections of the book are easy to navigate, and a complete index makes finding a word or phrase quick and easy. I would definitely recommend this book for travellers with little or no Spanish. Used together with a pocket English-Spanish dictionary for additional words, this book will make foreign travel less stressful and more enjoyable.
The Draining Lake: An Inspector Erlendur Novel

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Third in the Detective Erlendur series set in Iceland, this is the best yet. In this cold case study, the narration goes back and forth between Inspector Erlendur investigating a body found on a draining lake bed, and the memories of Icelandic students sent to study in communist East Germany to learn about the "perfect socialist" state during the Cold War in the 1950s. Plenty of suspense, fascinating and chilling historical background.
The Confession: A Novel

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Very good read, tons of suspense and sympathy for the innocent, and frustration with the guilty and the system that upholds a wrongful conviction and death penalty. Perhaps a bit too black and white, with the good guys and the bad guys clearly separated and not too many shades of grey. A good summer thriller for sure. Will probably re-read, even though now I know how it will turn out.
Identity Theft

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Excellent science fiction short stories from an award winning writer.Stories include "Shed Skin" which was a Hugo award finalist,"Identity Theft" which was nominated for a Nebula award and Hugo award,and "Ineluctable" which won an Aurora award, plus13 other stories. Some Canadian content but most pieces have universal appeal. Highly recommended.
The View from Castle Rock

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Very interesting, enjoyable. This collection of short stories is fiction, but based on Munro's research into her own family history, and her own life. The stories are arranged in chronological order, from the Scottish ancestors who dreamed of emigrating to Canada, those who made the harrowing sea voyage, pioneers in southern Ontario, and on to Munro's own family. The specifics appeal to me, but the emotional content and family relationships are universal. Alice Munro's writing is conversational, accessible, and beautifully descriptive. The stories are snapshots of different people at different times in history, and some people appear in only one story, making me want to know more about them and what happened next. Some people are only dimly known, while others are more completely portrayed. Some, I suspect, are portraits of real people, with a few names and details changed to avoid lawsuits! I enjoyed the connections with my own family history - Scottish immigrants in the 1800s, first land-owners clearing farms in Ontario, the education, dating and marriage of a young woman in the 1930s to 1950s Ontario (the same age as my parents), one story where Munro was the maid at a cottage on Georgian Bay. Later stories portray the different generations of her family, caring for her parents, becoming elderly, a breast cancer scare, a first and second marriage, her father remarrying after his first wife died from Parkinson's. This is a very good book, and I know I will re-read it every few years. I will also give a copy to my mother, and recommend it to other family members in Ontario.
I Heard the Owl Call My Name

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This well-known Canadian novel was very popular in the 1970s. Craven writes very beautiful and moving descriptions of a remote BC coastal indian village, the rhythm of the seasons of hunting and fishing, their traditions and legends, and how their way of life was changing in the early 20th century (the story is set around 1912). Mark, a young priest (Anglican or Catholic?) is sent by the bishop to live in the village of Kingcomb, many hours by boat north of Vancouver, and to care for the people in a widespread community. Gradually he adapts to the first nations people and earns their respect and friendship, and comes to love the culture and the land at the edge of the river and the sea. The people are troubled, as their youth go away to residential school and some move away to the city, changing forever. I wondered if this book, written in 1973 before the residential schools lawsuits and treaty rights court cases, might be limited by a romanticized vision of the native way of life, and a paternalistic idealized view of the role of the white men, government and the church. However it is not so easily stereotyped and dismissed. The bishop and priests are aware of their society's flaws and their own limitations. The RCMP and other white visitors (including a lady anthropologist and a teacher) are shown to be arrogant and ignorant of the people's needs. The Indians have their own problems including issues with alcohol, sexual abuse and violence, which are not easily solved. The simple life in the village is portrayed as an ideal, while shown at the same time to be fading away, and the people know that their way of life will disappear in one or two more generations. So the tone of the book is both celebratory, loving, and nostalgic and sad. In communion with the natural world, the priest and the people find peace, accept hardships and tragedies with dignity, and prepare for death. There is an interesting harmony and balance between the traditional beliefs and the Christian faith.Overall, a very good read, with lots to reflect over.
George's Marvelous Medicine

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This edition, "Geordie's Mingin Medicine" is a translation into Scots dialect of Roald Dahl's humourous fantasy tale for children, "George's Marvelous Medicine". From the jacket notes on the Itchy Coo edition, "Geordie's Grannie wis a grabbie crabbit ault wumman wi peeliewally broon teeth and a wee snirkit-up mooth like a dug's bahookie. She wis aye compleenin, girnin, greetin, grummlin and mulligrumphin aboot somethin or ither. She wis a meeserable auld grumph." And so the story continues, in the vernacular Scots dialect which is seldom heard now except when speaking to elderly Scots in certain regions. Best enjoyed when read aloud by a Scotsman or woman who can go with the flow, make the most of the dialect, and enjoy the wild exaggerations and hilarious events of the story.
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