My November Reads 2018

Dusk comes early at this time of year, and the short days remind me that another season has come and gone. The garden has been put to bed, the greenhouse has been tidied for the winter, and the seeds are all packed away. Spring lettuce and summer tomatoes are a sweet memory as we snack on this year’s crop of kiwis.  I’m spending my evenings getting ready for the holidays and, when time permits, relaxing in front of the fire with a book. Here’s what I’m reading this month:


By the fire: All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

At the gym: The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith

Before bed: Love Among the Ruins: A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945 by Harry Leslie Smith

Books read to date in 2018: 73

My October Reads

Some days chickens, other days feathers. When the feathers are flying and the chickens are in short supply – in other words when life isn’t unfolding according to plan, escaping into a good book can be a godsend. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

Beside the fire: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

At the gym: The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren

Before bed: Bringing Your Soul to Light by Dr. Linda Backman

Books read to date in 2018: 65

My September Reads

The season is turning. The mornings have a hint of crispness and the air seems to carry a whiff of wood smoke and resinous pine almost constantly these days. My two kids and many of my friends revel in the coming of fall; they yearn for rain days and heavy sweaters and mugs of cocoa by the fire. Me, I’m a summer girl at heart. I come alive with warmth, and handfuls of deeply scented sweet peas, and ripe juicy peaches. But even though I greet the colder temperatures and lower light levels of September with mixed feelings, I embrace the ‘fresh start’ feel of this time of year. I also adore the first-of-the-season apples and pears, those show off dahlias with their vibrant colors, and the fact that the beaches are nearly deserted now. Mostly I like September because my garden is put to bed, my summer chores are winding down, and I have more time to read. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

At the gym: Before and Again by Barbara Delinksy

After dinner: How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren

On the weekend:  Slouching Towards Innocence by Ron Norman

Books read to date in 2018: 60

My August Reads

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. With the exception of the word lazy, the phrase is particularly apt this year. The skies are hazy from nearby forest fires, and the tempo of my life is edging to the crazy side. That means reading time is at a premium, and whatever book I pick up must be compelling enough to hold my attention and keep me away from my out-of-control ‘to do’ list. Lucky for me there’s no shortage of great material. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

Before bed: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

At the gym: A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman

Beside the pond: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Books read to date in 2018: 54

My July Reads

We’re staying close to home this summer, which isn’t exactly a hardship when you live in a city as beautiful as Victoria. Since we’re planning a move in the not-too-distant future, we’re savoring what my hometown has to offer while we can. We’re also keeping on top of garden chores and tackling a few inside renovations as well. It doesn’t leave much time for reading but when the opportunity presents itself (and when Mr. Petrol Head isn’t looking), I seize the moment. Here’s what I’m diving into this month:

Beside the Pond: The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

On the Kindle: The Past Life Perspective by Ann C. Barham

Before Bed: The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman

Books read to date in 2018: 46

Summer Time . . . Book Time . . .

It’s that time of year when friends are packing up and heading out on holiday. Books inevitably find their way into carry-ons and suitcases, and I’m sometimes asked to recommend titles. It’s easy if I know their taste (and especially if I share it) but that’s not always the case. When I’m at a loss I always recommend they talk to their favorite book seller or check out some of the lists that pop up at this time of year.

Time Magazine has compiled a list of 22 new books to read this summer:

Since Canada Day is less than a week away, my attention was drawn to the CBC’s 100 Novels That Make You Proud to be Canadian list. Check out their recommendations here:

If you’re buying for children and teens, Scripps National Spelling Bee has released its 2018-2019 Great Works (and Great Words) book list. I especially like that they break their recommendations into very specific age ranges (they use grades but you can easily extrapolate to determine suitability for the children in your life). I also like the fact that they mix classics with contemporary reads.

Finally, if you’re looking for an easy summer beach read you can’t go wrong with one of these romances:

Happy reading and happy travels!

My June Reads

I’ve been in the weeds of late. The garden is producing them at a rate beyond which they’re controllable. The path you see to your left has been weeded several times already but you’d never know it. The butterflies and bees are happy, even if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s not an unusual feeling for me at this time of year; the garden is at its most demanding now. This year, however, we’re juggling spring garden chores with indoor renovations as we’re contemplating selling our house. Lots of changes . . . and very little downtime to read. But when I do stop for a break, here’s what I’m reading:

At the gym: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

On the Kindle: Flipside – a Tourist’s Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife by Richard Martini

Before bed: No Time to Spare: Thinking about what Matters by Ursula Le Guin

Book read to date in 2018: 37

My April Reads

Spring often conjures thoughts of spring cleaning. It’s more like spring purging around here these days as we go through cupboards and drawers and hidden corners of the basement eliminating the things we don’t use and no longer need. With the exception of my garden (crammed with plants,) my bookshelves (crammed with books) and an impressively stocked kitchen pantry (eight kinds of rice at last count, and herbs and spices into the triple digits) I’m something of a minimalist.

Part of it is necessity – a writer’s salary isn’t large (at least this writer’s salary isn’t large) – and part of it is the way I’m wired. I don’t love shopping. I don’t hate it, but it’s not what I do for fun or for relaxation. Reduce, reuse, and recycle was part of my lifestyle before it was trendy, back when it was considered weird.

So I was keen to pick up and read Cait Flander’s Year of Less. After getting rid of 70 percent of her belongings, Flanders stopped shopping, other than for necessities (and those were very narrowly defined), for an entire year. Unfortunately, the book didn’t have the depth I was hoping for. It wasn’t so much a memoir about living with less as it was a memoir about a millennial struggling with love, loss, career and family angst during a year when she also stopped shopping. It was a fun, easy read but it didn’t speak to me in quite the way I’d hoped. So if you’ve read any great books on minimalism, let me know. Spring purging should only go so far.

Here’s what I’m reading this month:

At the gym: Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Beside the bed: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

On the weekend: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Books read to date in 2018: 31

The Quiet Ones Sometimes DO Surprise You

Some books are sleepers. Michael Morpurgo told me that years ago (if you’re not familiar with Michael’s work take a minute and google him). It’s not that I put any less effort into what I call my sleeper books. They take as much effort as any other novel; some come together relatively quickly and others take a long time to jell. But sleeper books start out quiet. They don’t generally make a splash out of the gate; in fact, they might never make a splash. That doesn’t reflect on their quality. They’re good books but quieter ones, often modestly reviewed, rarely gathering much attention or getting nominated for awards.

Those sleeper books, however, have staying power. And Hannah’s Touch is a good example. Hannah’s Touch was first published in 2009. It received moderately good reviews but no real fanfare. A year or two after its first release, it was translated into German, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian. Then an audio version became available. Today it continues to sell, and well enough that the publisher just did another print run.

Thank you Orca Book Publishers. And thank you readers for keeping Hannah’s Touch out there in the world.

My March Reads

The daffodils are blooming  and so are the cherry blossom trees. Spring officially arrived yesterday. The air, which seems to get warmer by the day, is fragrant with possibilities. Life is especially sweet at this time of year . . . and especially so if you have a good book to read. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

At the gym: Same Beach Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank

Beside the fire: We, the Arcturians: A True Experience by Norma Milanovich

Before bed: Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Books read to date in 2018: 20