Category Archives: Blog Hops

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books Set in Ontario

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Most people immediately think of Toronto when they hear the word Ontario. I love my city, but today I wanted to highlight the province as a whole. There are great books set in every part of it, so I have a lot to say this week!

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden and Kent Monkman book cover. Images on cover are of common Ontario wildlife like rabbits and otters.

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden and Kent Monkman

Where It’s Set: A fictionalized version of Kenora. (If you’re not familiar with our geography, think a remote corner of Northern Ontario near Woodland Caribou Provincial Park).

What It’s About: The story of Chani Wenjack, an Ojibwe boy who ran away from a  North Ontario residential school in an attempt to go home to his family. Chani was a real child, but some parts of the plot were fictionalized.

The Short-Wave Mystery (Hardy Boys, #24) by Franklin W. Dixon book cover. Image on cover is of one boy looking into a log cabin through its window while another boy crouches on the snow behind him.

The Short-Wave Mystery (Hardy Boys, #24) by Franklin W. Dixon

Where It’s Set: A fictional body of water called White Bear River near Hudson’s Bay, a real place in Northern Ontario.

What It’s About: The Hardy Boys figuring out who stole a collection of stuffed animals from an estate sale.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery book cover. Image on cover is of two lovers walking in a rose garden.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Where It’s Set: The fictional town of Deerwood, located in the Muskoka region in Central Ontario. Deerwood is based on the real city of Bala.

What It’s About: A young, single woman who was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. Knowing that she only had about a year to live, she decided to escape her controlling family and find happiness wherever she can with the time she had left. This is my all-time favourite Montgomery novel, and it is much more cheerful than it might seem.

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?- A Home Child Story by Mary Pettit book cover. Image on cover is of a Victorian girl's photograph superimposed onto a black and white photo of London, Ontario

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?: A Home Child Story by Mary Pettit

Where It’s Set: Hamilton (southwest of Toronto).

What It’s About: This is a fictional story of a teenage girl who was sent to London, Ontario (which also southwest of Toronto) as part of the Home Child Program. She was so dissatisfied with her placement that she ran away from it!

If you’re not familiar with this bit of Canadian history, The Home Child program was a precursor to modern foster care and adoption in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Children in English orphanages were sent to Canada (and Australia) to be looked after by families there and taught the life skills and trades they’d need to know to be self-sufficient as adults. Some children were adopted into loving homes through it, but others were treated as free labour…or worse.

Cat's Eye  by Margaret Atwood book cover. Image on cover is of a hooded figure holding a glowing blue orb levitating above a bridge while snow falls on bare tree branches.

Cat’s Eye  by Margaret Atwood

Where It’s Set: Toronto

What It’s About: A controversial painter who returns home to confront her past and understand how those experiences shaped her art.

After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara book cover. Image on cover is of a hand holding a branch filled with cherry blossoms.

After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara

Where It’s Set: Toronto

What It’s About: An elderly woman suffering from dementia who goes missing one day, her adult daughter’s frantic search for her, and the family secrets that are revealed along the way.

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Opening Lines

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Books in assorted colours with blank spines. I could have easily made this list twice as long. What a great topic!  Please note that the final opening line references the death of a child.

1.“I am sixteen when my mother steps out of her skin one frozen January afternoon- pure self, atoms twinkling like microscopic diamond chips around her, perhaps the chiming of a clock, or a few bright flute notes in the distance- and disappears. No one sees her leave, but she is gone.”

Laura Kasischke, White Bird in a Blizzard

2. “Like most forms of corruption, it began with men in suits.”

Mick Herron, Real Tigers


3. “Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.”

Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

Dark, ominious storm clouds swirling around in a sky4. “It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines

5. “It was during Latin that the Austro-Hungarians arrived with their dogs and zombies to kill everyone at the Eden College for Young Ladies.”

David Wake, The Derring-Do Club and the Empire of the Dead

6. “Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.

This is the story of how we got there.”

Fredrik Backman, Beartown

7. “Maybe punching her enemy right in the nose wasn’t the smartest way to get out of class, but it was definitely a much more entertaining way.”

Ophelia T. Starks, Nightfall Academy

8. “During the 1980s, in California, a large number of Cambodian women went to their doctors with the same complaint: they could not see.”

Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

A hot summer sun drying out a large patch of soil.9. “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”

Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

10. “The Lord gave, and the Lord took away, her grandmother said to her at the edge of the grave. But that wasn’t right, because the Lord had taken away much more than had been there to start with, and everything her child might have become was now lying there at the bottom of the pit, waiting to be covered up.”

Jenny Erpenbeck, Aller Tage Abend


Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: How I’d Fare in a Zombie Apocalypse

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Hands clutching tree trunks menacingly. The rest of the people's bodies are standing behind the trunks out of view. This is one of those topics I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

On the helpful side, I’m young, intelligent, healthy, and physically fit. There are very few foods I dislike, so I’d eat the canned lima beans or whatever else it is that others can’t or won’t eat.  I have shot a gun before, and my current fitness regime includes plenty of cardio and weightlifting every week. My understanding of first aid is basic but solid. I’d easily be able to outrun slow zombies or come up with a creative escape plan if the fast ones tried to break into my home.

On the unhelpful side, my milk allergy could make it hard to find safe food for me to eat after some time has passed. A lot of shelf stable food has some form of dairy in it unless we’re looking at plain cans of beans or dry pasta. I’m also short, petite, and not-at-all what anyone would call intimidating. And while I have a shot guns before, hitting targets reliably isn’t something I’d count as one of my skills.

I think I’d survive well in the short term. Whether I made it longterm would depend on if I could link up with people whose strengths complimented my weaknesses. Maybe they could do the shooting and the heavier hand-to-hand combat and I could scavenge for more food and bandage up any wounds other people received?

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love First Contact Stories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A caution sign with the outline of an alien giving a peace sign on it. Y’all have no idea how hard it was for me to narrow this reply down to only one topic.

I desperately wanted to write at least six different posts in response to this prompt because there are so many specific things I love reading about.

But I will follow the rules and only gush about one of them!

Aliens are something that always make my ears perk up when I see references to them in blurbs or excerpts, especially if they’re written as something other than an antagonist.

1.  They make the universe seem friendlier. Since life evolved on Earth, it makes sense that it would develop on other planets and moons, too!

2. They stretch our imaginations. Sentient, humanoid aliens are interesting, but I’m even more interested in the ones that don’t feel familiar at all.This summer I’ll be reviewing a film called Life here about this precise topic.

3. They are thought provoking. How would people really react to new life on Mars, Europa, or some other faraway place?

4. They make learning from history mandatory. To tie into #3, I think we’d need to do a lot of soul-searching as a species when it came to how we’ve treated people from other countries and continents if we were to have any hope of not repeating the many mistakes of the past.

5. They say more about us than they do real aliens. Too often, alien stories assume that beings from other planets would be violent and cruel. I see no reason to believe that assumption is correct.

6. They give me an excuse to use this gif.

Man saying "I'm not saying it was the aliens...but it was the aliens."

And what could possibly be better than that?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Villain That I Wish Could Be Redeemed and Why

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

This week’s topic was tricky for me because I’m not a huge fan of redemption arcs in most cases. Too often they’re used to brush terrible choices under the rug due to the villain having a sad or tragic backstory. I’ve known plenty of people who have similar histories but who have consciously chosen to break those patterns and live gentle, good lives.

So it irritates me a little bit when a villain is given a pass for choosing to inflict the pain they felt onto new victims. There are so many other ways to create well-rounded characters in my opinion that don’t make the assumption that experiencing X somehow makes it okay for you do it to someone else.

And yet I must stick to the topic at hand and answer Long and Short Review’s question. 😉

Trunchbull saying "I'll be watching you. All of you."

Therefore, I’m going to with Agatha Trunchbull from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She was the headmistress of the school Matilda attended, and yet she truly seemed to hate her job and children in general.

Given that this book was written in 1988 but could have been set a few decades before that, I wonder if Trunchbull ended up in teaching because women weren’t welcomed in the career that would have actually fit her.

This isn’t an excuse for the way she treated her students or employees at all. She was a horrible administrator who should have been fired years earlier.

But I do wonder if her gender and severe lack of patience with children set her up for failure, especially after a couple of decades of being trapped in a job that was such an awful fit for her personality and interests.

It would have been nice to have that closure for her. Maybe she became a kinder and happier person after she was (rightfully) forced to leave Matilda’s school? What do you all think?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl I’ve been abandoning books more regularly these past few months. Have any of you noticed the same thing about your reading habits Here are ten books that I recently started reading but couldn’t finish for reasons I’ll explain below. 1. Nests, Eggs, Birds: An Illustrated Aviary by  Kelsey Oseid… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Holiday of the Year and Why

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. Halloween is by far my favourite holiday of the year for the following reasons: There Is Assorted Candy. I only eat candy occasionally, but when I do… Read More