Bookmarks Made by Norma – Reading in the Country

November 22, 2020


Hello Friends! Just a quick post today to show off my favorite bookish things again and today I am featuring bookmarks made by Norma! Click Etsy shop to find their shop and use  SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

I just started reading Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart They has been a bit of buzz about this one after it winning the 2020 Booker Prize so I had to check out. It’s bold and unsettling story starting in 1981 and set in Glasgow. It’s a story of a family struggling with the ruthlessness of poverty, addiction while exploring what is a “normal boy” and the love children have for their damaged parents. Sounds a little bleak for the Christmas season but Readers gonna Read!!

Lindsay and I just started Take It Back by Kia Abdullah and loving it so far! A little about this one

The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

I am not very far in but I am intrigued and feeling a sense of dread for how this one is going to play out!!

Lindsay’s review

An informative, eye-opening look into French-Canadian history, the Duplessis Orphans and Quebec’s fight to gain independence.

1990’s: Veronique’s father is the infamous Leo Fortin, a notorious FLQ leader who spent a decade in jail for killing a prominent politician during a political standoff in the 1970’s. Vero has grown up in the shadow of her fathers extreme separatist image — always expected to follow in his footsteps. Vero meets and falls in love with James Phenix, a hard working journalist whose job is to follow the politics of Quebec separating from Canada which he strongly disagrees with. Though Vero and James have extreme opposing political views, their love is strong and passionate and they vow to not let politics stand in their way. James sister, Elodie, is one of the Duplessis Orphans who has reentered society after years of abuse and hardships while under the care of the nuns in the orphanage-turned-asylum.

In Goodman’s previous novel, Home For Unwanted Girls, she offers an intimate look into the Quebec governments decision to turn orphanages into mental institutions in order to gain more money per patient. This novel is somewhat of a continuation of that story (yet not a series) incorporating the long term struggles and suffering those innocent orphans faced while locked away and hardships once released into society with no education or training. I strongly recommend reading that novel before this one to give insight into the history of this time.

This was an informative, insightful novel that was heavy on political detail. It was an eye-opening look at this time in Canadian history which I appreciate learning more about. However, I found the depressing and somber tone of the storyline outweighed my personal investment and connection and I didn’t particularly “like” any of the characters. The dark and somber feeling made it feel more drawn out and lengthy. I found that there were several situations where characters were unrealistically forgiving. This took away from my investment in the story and kept me at a distance from the storyline.

A main takeaway for me from this story is the amount of extreme hatred that can be passed down through generations. This is so very upsetting and frustrating and unfortunately is still completely relevant in our present world.

Overall, this was a heavily detailed look into this time in our history which I was thankful to learn more about. It was more of an educational read rather than an enjoyable one.

Brenda’s review

The Forgotten Daughter explores the lives of two different women divided by their past, passionate about their causes and goals, and united by their love and friendship. This was the heart of the story for me, and I loved the dynamics between the characters. Veronique is the daughter of a radical separatist convicted of murdering a politician. She finds love with Elodie’s brother James who opposes separatism. The story delves deep into the political side more than I expected. Even though I liked learning more about Quebec’s history with separatism, it felt more like being told history rather than experiencing the conflicts with characters. I found it a bit overwhelming at times.

Joanna Goodman takes us to the streets of Montreal with the characters, and I enjoyed seeing the names of the neighborhoods and streets. It felt like I was pulled right into the story with the characters.

Things did wrap a little too easily for me in the end however, with the dark tone of the story, it was a brighter way to end the story that should appeal to many readers.

We received copies from the publisher through Edelweiss.

Hello Friends!! Lindsay and I recently hosted a spoiler-free Q & A in our Behind the Pages Goodreads group with Canadian author Jesse Thistle to discuss his extraordinary, powerful, inspiring memoir From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way. I am excited to share the Q & A with you all today! Jesse is a Métis-Cree-Scot Ph.D. Candidate in the History program at York University in Toronto, Ontario.

In From the Ashes Jesse shows us through his raw, honest and courageous voice his journey from his early years in Saskatchewan, being abandoned by his parents, living with his grandparents in Toronto, his self-destructive cycle of drugs, alcohol, crime and homelessness, to finding his way.

Brenda’s thoughts from her review: Jesse’s story is ugly and beautiful at the same time. His voice is quiet and hopeful but powerful with his raw, honest dark realities as he shares his story. At times it was difficult to read his heartbreaking reality not only with his life on the harsh streets but with the stereotyped words said to him. Words that I often heard when growing up that now pierced my heart to see. As painful as it is I feel these are dark realities that can’t be ignored and not seen.

Lindsay’s thoughts from her review: I am forever changed after reading this. One of the toughest, most honest and powerful memoirs I have read. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jesse Thistle for being brave enough to put his story out in the world. This is heart wrenching, yet hopeful. Upsetting yet inspiring. Heavy yet freeing. I thank Jesse for sharing his story which has opened my heart to beginning to understand how dark, deep and uncontrollable addiction can be. I have a whole new outlook after reading this. What an extremely powerful, unforgettable story that I insist you add to your reading list.

Brenda: Welcome, Jesse! Thank you so much for joining us and answering our questions about your memoir.

I read your book just before CBC Canada Reads 2020 debate battling for the one book to bring focus to Canada. I read three of the chosen finalists and out of the three, I was rooting for your book. I thought your story brought focus and gave a strong voice to indigenous people, addiction and homelessness in Canada. I thought you showed us honestly what life was like on those harsh streets of Canada and it challenged my thoughts and showed me another side to those harsh streets. It also brought awareness to those harsh stereotypes I grew up with but most of all your story brought me hope for people with addiction and hope we can understand the cycle of addiction and homelessness.

Can you tell us a little about your story and what inspired or motivated you to write a memoir?

Jesse: I wrote the book because I was asked to write it by Simon and Schuster. They’d heard about my academic awards and prior life in a Toronto Star article. When I met with S &S to discuss writing my book I sent them a collection of my AA steps and other writings about my life. That is all the book really is—a collection of short writings so I could figure out what had happened during my addiction years.

Lindsay: Thank you so much for being with us. I read your book a few months ago and it forever changed me. I find myself much more sympathetic to the disease of addiction and what the homeless face on a daily basis. I thank you for opening my eyes and helping me to begin to understand the overpowering world and hard-to-break cycle of addiction and homelessness.

I am curious about what your ultimate goal was in writing this phenomenal memoir. Was your goal to educate people and shed light on the true reality of living through addiction and homelessness? Or was writing this book more of a form of therapy and healing and for you to reflect and move forward in your life?

Jesse: I would say a little of both. I have to remember it is an educational piece and builds empathy around the issues of homelessness, addiction, colonization, trauma, criminality–so there’s that. But I also wrote it to just have people witness what happened so I could finally grieve with my family and we could move on. Scholarship on intergenerational trauma notes to truly heal their needs to be public recognition of hardships and wrongs; well, my book kind of does that, not only for me, but my family and people.

Beppie: Thank you for sharing your story with us in “From the Ashes.” I just finished it and want to offer my admiration for your tenacious battle to reclaim your life. I was wondering if you purposefully wrote your chapters as connected vignettes or “snapshots” of your life?For me it really heightened the sense of loss and abandonment which seems woven into much of your journey. As you reflect back upon your life, have you found the ability to forgive yourself as you look to the future? Much of what shaped your young adult decisions was truly beyond your control. You mention at the end of your book that you were finally able to say goodbye to your old” life. I am hopeful that you also have been able to find ongoing peace through your work and your new life. Thank you again for sharing your life with us as readers. Be well. Safe journeys to you!

Jesse: I work on forgiving myself every day. I am trying really hard to understand why I was the way I was, and some of it makes sense. But there are other parts that I cannot comprehend, amendments I still have to make, and somethings will never be made right. I try to find forgiveness from Creator or God or whatever you want to call it,, but I always live with the past, and I am always working of bringing light into the world instead of darkness. Sure, there are times when my heart fools me into thinking I don’t deserve a second chance, times when I believe naysayers. That’s a dangerous places to live – in the opinions and judgements of others. But I fight against those feelings by doing things to help others like giving a talk, donating my times, answering questions from readers, and working on policy and scholarship that will address issues around homelessness and addiction.

Brenda: How did you go about writing your journey? How did you piece together your personal story, thoughts and engage in your memories?

Jesse: I’d been collecting fragments of my life in writing since my time in rehab in 2008-09. Whatever I could remember about my life I wrote down in an effort to do my amends list so I could go back and make things right, or forgive myself. I went back and talked with all kinds of people who knew me at my worst–my PO, old friends, my brothers, uncles, school and court records. I even went to the RCMP and got my full record and wrote much of the middle of the book from it. So, a strange thing. To go back and collect you life from people, but that’s what I did

Brenda: Your memoir has been called a love story and you showed us some of that love and support you received. Why would you call it a love story?

Jesse: It is called a love story because early in the book I am with my Metis-Cree family on the road allowance and we are happy in our Saskatchewan lands and I am connected to our teachings and kinship structures. That abruptly ended when me and my brothers were taken into Children’s Aid and then placed in Toronto. I was only three and half and lost my mother’s and nuclear family’s love. I spent the rest of my life trying to believe I could be loved, a personal failing that dragged me through hell, until finally in rehab I came to love myself and those around and then met my wife who showed me what real love is. That is why it is a love story–love on many levels, not just eros or romantic love

Brenda: You narrated the audiobook. How did it feel for you to narrate your personal story compared to writing it? Did you experience any emotions differently?

Jesse: It was brutal. To voice my traumas as well as my joys and everything in between torn my heart out over and over. I had to sage pretty good after that. I also had to do it over 3 gruelling days to get through it. If it went any longer I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Brenda: What were some challenges/struggles you had writing your memoir?

Jesse: Some of the challenges of writing my memoir was around confidence: confidence of my memory accuracy and also confidence of whether I even had a story worth telling. The funny thing about writing a memoir is you enter it knowing you’re going to piss off family and you’re also going to get things wrong. Some people remember things completely differently than you. I had this inner dialogue within the whole time I wrote, “Is this right, am I right, how will they feel, do I have a right to share my family’s story?”

Brenda: You also wrote about your family in your memoir. Did they have any involvement in your writing process? When did they read it and what was their reaction to your memoir?

Jesse: I did talk with my brothers while writing and I read them their parts and checked in for accuracy. Other family members were also consulted for clarity, while others were not. Most in my family loved the book as far as I know. There was only two who got upset, but hey, that’s what memoirs do–they piss of those you love sometimes. At least that’s what I’ve heard from most other memoirists

Lindsay: How long did it take you to write this book?

Jesse: It only took me about three months. I started in August 2018 and had it completed by mid November. Mind you, I did have much of the fragments and memories already collected in small scribbles in my AA program. But the actual writing went lightening quick.

Brenda: What would you like readers to get out of reading your memoir?

Jesse: I would say I want them to have a better understanding of Indigenous homelessness and the drivers unique to what I and other Indigenous people went through. I am a scholar primarily and I wrote something called the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness. All the dimensions of Indigenous Homelessness appear in my book I am just not explicit in explaining them as they appear. My hope is that people read this document alongside my book. https://www.homelesshub.ca/Indigenous…

Brenda: I set this Q & A up with your wife Lucie. Can you tell us a little bit about your wife and the work you do together?

Jesse: Lucie is my everything, my rock, my heart. I am super cheese-ass about her because the gal saved me in so many ways. She also runs our business – contract negotiations, logistics, bookings, finance, everything. i am just the creative arm of our company–I show up and talk, write stuff, and lecture. So I am the creative arm. We work well together professionally as she knows what is good for us and she’s a bulldog in business. I am more a softy and people used to pull the wool over my eyes back before she took the steering wheel. So, yeah, she is the captain, I am the first mate. LOL

Lindsay: Do you have any future writing plans? Will we see any other books from you?

Jesse: Yup a couple. I can’t really discuss publicly yet. But keep your eye out

Hello Friends!! I am back again with another plant-based cookbook review! I am excited to share my review with you all for The Everything Plant-Based Meal Prep Cookbook: 200 Easy, Make-Ahead Recipes Featuring Plant-Based Ingredients by Diane K. Smith. The cookbook is easy to read and follow and focuses on recipes that are easy to plan, prep for, make ahead to put in the fridge for the week or frozen for future meals.

This is a great cookbook for anyone thinking or wanting to switch to more of a plant-based diet and is a little overwhelmed where to start. It’s great for anyone looking for recipes for those meatless days or for anyone who follows a plant based-diet looking for tips and recipes that are easy, fresh, and exciting. Diane K Smith shares with us the benefits of a plant-based diet and explains what foods can be substituted for protein and dairy. Even now after following a plant-based diet for a couple of years, I struggle with adding protein to my meals and need reminding what I can use. I enjoyed flipping through the recipes and making notes of the ones I want to make and planning which ones I want to make a little extra or make ahead for the freezer. Diane K Smith makes that easy with the tips she includes with the recipes.

There are over 200 recipes here that included colourful vegetables and appealing protein. The easy recipes cover every meal of the day and include meal-worthy salads, comforting soups, and stews, side dishes, sauces, and condiments to kick up your meals a notch and desserts.

There are so many I want to mention but here are a few that caught my eye to try very soon.

Black Bean Breakfast Tacos

Raspberry Scone Muffins

Asian Noodle Salad

Falafel Burgers (can use them for) Greek Spinach Salad 

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Lasagna Soup

Spaghetti with Black Bean Meatballs

Penne Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

AND many more 

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley so I am unable to show some pictures of the book but the photos are appealing! It is one I am putting on my cookbook wishlist! I highly recommend it!!

My Favorite Bookish Things: Handmade Book/Kindle Sleeves, Book Markers Pouches and Book Markers Made by Norma and our Mom Linda

November 14, 2020


Hello my friends! Today I am talking about my favorite bookish things and they can be yours too!! Norma has taken a turn from reviewing books and is now making book markers and managing her Etsy shop selling handmade bookish things that her and our Mom Linda are making. Christmas might be a bit of a challenge this year and it might be time to start thinking about gifts so I would like to share some of my favorite things you can find in their shop or have it custom made in any of the fabrics they have available for someone special on your Christmas list. Also I heard this year people are thinking of self gifting this year!! Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off. AND of course I am going to talk about books as well.

I chose this fabric to feature in their Etsy shop and I requested the book marker made to go with it. I use the book sleeve for my book or my iPad. Now about the books, I am currently reading Homegoing and I love it! It’s heartbreaking and eye opening and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to finally read it. I just finished and posted our reviews for Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy and we highly recommend it as one not to missed for thriller readers!!!

My favorite thing is my kindle sleeve. I love, love it and it goes everywhere I go!! Well I really don’t go out much right now. I do have a couple other ones that my Mom made me because I like to have chooses and options but this one is my go to one. I also have the same pattern in a book sleeve because I like things to match. I even try to match the book cover to my book sleeve. Norma made the book marker to go with the sleeves. I am currently reading The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on my kindle and I love it too!! I also just finished but haven’t reviewed Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. It’s a is a powerful, raw, intimate and deeply layered story that explores love and grief experienced by a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

I keep Norma pretty busy making me book markers and I love all the book markers she makes. So I have a bit of a collection of them now and love the bookmarker pouches my Mom makes to keep them safe in. Here are some now available in their  Etsy shop 

This one here is one I have with a few of my book markers I have collected.

Some book sleeves they have available and many more are in their Etsy shop

I hope you all get a chance to check out their shop and see what other great items they have for yourself or a gift! Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

Hot Jaw-Dropping Diggity Dang!!! Grab those lounge pants again because you will need something comfy to wear when you pick your jaw off the ground while reading this astounding twisty thrill of a read.

Brenda’s review

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a few times here with this twisty, twisty brilliant story!!! There are twists, and then there are those creative layered twists that rarely come in suspense thrillers that catch the avid readers off guard as this one did. Aimee Molloy nailed it here with these astounding twists. That first twist had me questioning everything I just read, and I had to go back and reread it to see how I missed seeing that twist coming. Let me say Aimee Molloy is one clever writer. After the first twist, I thought I am keeping a closer lookout for the next twist, and again I was caught off guard.

Those twists made this one an exciting, entertaining read, but it’s not entirely what has me raving about this one. It’s Molloy’s ability to deft those gender norms and expectations I have been talking about a lot lately. She is an author who is moving forward from that tunnel vision in fiction and bringing us a fresh and exciting thrill of a read! For me, she has set the standard for authors and books moving forward in the future. We can read better!!!

I highly recommend going into this one, not knowing too much about the story.

Lindsay’s review

I dare you to try to figure this one out. My mind was BLOWN multiple times! I seriously cannot get over the brilliantly clever writing that kept me in jaw dropping shock mode. This was so thoroughly enjoyable that I feel bad for whatever thriller I pick up next – it doesn’t stand a chance of comparing to this. I’m going to leave it at that.

This was phenomenal! One of my top reads this year for sure! Get your hands on a copy now!

We received a copies from the publisher through Edelweiss

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