[Book Review] Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin

imageYou know how some books come along and forever change the way you think and feel? Up Ghost River is that book for me. Edmund Metatawabin is a former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a Cree writer, educator and activist. As outstanding as his achievements today are, he was a boy with a very troubled and conflicted past. At 7 years of age, his parents, who thought they were doing right by their son, had him pack up all his belongings and head to a residential school in Northern Ontario, known as St. Anne’s. What they didn’t know is that ultimately St. Anne’s would one day be referred to as one of Canada’s worst residential school. It’s become notorious for it’s bizarre punishments and treatment of the students.

Up Ghost River is a look back on some of the horrific experiences that Edmund had to endure each year his parents sent him (and his siblings) to St. Anne’s. Experiencing sexual abuse and inhumane treatment does a number on Edmund’s psyche and in an effort to blur these horrific memories, he begins to numb the pain with alcohol. But his decision to heal using alcohol ultimately costs him his family. So he does the only thing he can do to get them back, he seeks to regain hope and strength in Alberta. As shared on the publishers site,

In Alberta, Metatawabin learned from elders, par­ticipated in native cultural training workshops that emphasize the holistic approach to personhood at the heart of Cree culture, and finally faced his alcoholism and PTSD. (source)

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Edmund Metatawabin and this man is endlessly working at uncovering the wrongdoings of the St. Anne’s staff. When we met, he was visiting Toronto in the middle of winter, working to get documents released that will expose these teachers actions. He was quiet in nature, but you could see the fight in his eyes, his determination. As he shares in this CBC article,

“All we want is justice,” he said. “All we want is movement that will make me feel ‘Oh, finally it’s over. Finally it’s over. They believe me.” (source)

This is a really hard book to read. It recounts some really difficult scenes and when reading, you’re going to cringe and squirm. The difference is that when you’re reading, you’re going to know that this isn’t a fictional book, this did happen and someone lived it and that’s exactly why this book is so important and why everyone should read it. It’s a part of our country’s history, but as Edmund demonstrates in Up Ghost River, experiences don’t have to define who we are or who we’re going to be. We, as individuals, have the power to choose how we react to negative experiences. This is the story of one man’s attempt to take back his life. Today, Edmund Metatawabin is an activist and an educator for the next generation of residential school survivors. A big part of accepting his past is understanding his Cree culture which continues to help him heal. I truly believe that every Canadian should read this book.

Need further convincing? Watch the book trailer below:

Up Ghost River is on sale today. 

5 Reasons Why You’re Going to LOVE the Television Adaption of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander

This past week I got the opportunity to attend an early premiere screening of Showcase’s Outlander and it was outstanding! Whether or not you’ve read the Diana Gabaldon series that inspired the show (and if you haven’t, you’re going to want to immediately), you’re going to become obsessed with this brilliant historical television show. I’m going to list a number of reasons why I think this is going to be the show you can’t miss on Sunday nights, but first let me take this opportunity to thank Showcase/ Shaw Media for a spectacular night. Not only was there gin tastings and Scottish inspired food, but, well… I think this speaks for itself,

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Without further ado, here are the 5 Reasons Why You’re Going to LOVE the Television Adaption of Outlander:

1. Claire is an independent woman

The show starts by introducing us to British Army nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank who are on their second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland. Because this is a family friendly blog and I don’t feel comfortable discussing the sex scene I watched, I’ll just say that this woman is all about taking control. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it. While going plant-gathering near the hill of Craigh na Dun, she time travels back into the 18th century and meets a young man by name of Jamie MacTavish. After being taken to a cabin and determining that he’s dislocated his shoulder, she uses her 20th century medicine knowledge to help fix his shoulder. I only watched 45 minutes of the show to know that this woman is all about getting things done. Oh and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this quote from Diana Gabaldon,

I don’t like stupid women, so why would I write one? (source)

IMG_64282. The chemistry between Jamie and Claire is hot, hot, HOT!

To the people that I was sitting beside (Michele, Christa, Liz and Laurie), I apologize once again for making weird noises while watching the sneak peek of Outlander. As I noted above, the scenes between Claire and Frank were pretty sexy, but you’d be a fool not to pick up on the immediate chemistry between Claire and Jamie on their first meeting. Long gazes, uncertain glances and an unspoken trust as she pops his shoulder back into place, this is a chemistry that I can’t wait to see play out on my television each week.

3. It’s being called the new ‘Game of Thrones’ and with good reason

If you’ve ever been to a Diana Gabaldon event, you know that this woman can create one hell of a crowd. Some would say, the same fan numbers of the equally talented Game of Thrones creator, George R.R. Martin. Their dedicated fan base has taken both of these authors to new levels of their careers. Of course the two book series/shows have different plots, but the obvious comparison is that these are two fantasy authors that have vivid, wild and descriptive imaginations. There are some obvious contrasts between the two shows that are explored in this great Independent article,

Indeed it’s arguable that a large part of Outlander’s success derives from the way in which it subverts gender conventions. Where the TV version of Game of Thrones has been criticised for its objectification of women’s bodies, Outlander’s gaze is female and, at times, breathtakingly frank. Not only is Claire unapologetically upfront about her own desires, it is the male rather than the female bodies which are lingered over – a pleasant contrast to Game of Thrones’ sexposition and breast shots. Furthermore Jamie might be loyal, brave and often very funny, but this is Claire’s story. Indeed Jamie’s role in it is closer to that of the traditional heroine in that he’s a good-looking virgin who when not getting his war-wounds treated spends a fair amount of time getting rescued. (source)

4. It’s already been renewed for a second seasonoutlander

You know something is a hit when it hasn’t even hit the air waves and it’s been renewed for a second season. In the US, Outlander released a bit earlier and clocked in an outstanding 5 million+ viewers on the night of the premiere. With numbers like that, it wasn’t hard to convince executive producers that this show isn’t going to be a one trick pony. That’s why on August 8th, it was announced that Outlander had been green lit for a second season. Thankfully, thanks to the eight book Outlander collection the television producers have lots and lots of guidance on where to take it next…

5. Diana Gabaldon has been very involved in the adaptation

Who would have thought that when she started writing Outlander, by mistake I might add, it would become a television phenomenon. It only makes sense that the television creators would bring Diana Gabaldon on as a consultant for the show. As Gabaldon shares in this article,

Ron [Moore] and his partner, Maril [executive producer Maril Davis], came out to my house and spent two days with me talking over characters and story lines and backstory and discussing their ideas for adaptation, which I thought was very, very smart of them, as well as very generous. (source)

And I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but Gabaldon is great on Twitter and Facebook. She’s been sharing lots of great behind the scenes shots and connecting with her fans, so be sure to connect with her ASAP.

Tonight, break out the whiskey and your kilts and tune into Showcase’s at 10pmET to watch the premiere of Outlander. Also be sure to follow @showcasedotca for lots of great Outlander TV updates. 

How Long Do You Take to Break Up With a Book?

DONE

How many of you have gone through an awful breakup? You break up. You get back together. You break up. It happens, but breakups don’t just happen in your love life.

I’ve had to break up with books before.

I don’t like doing it and trust me, I try and try to make it work, but sometimes it’s just not the right fit. Typically, I give it about 50 pages before I set it down. Sometimes I’ll even pick more than twice and try again if someone makes a strong case. And of course, I’ve been wrong before! I can’t tell you the number of times I tried to read Animal Farm (which is only 112 pages) before a professor made me read it and I ended up loving it. We all make mistakes, but I feel pretty strong that when I’m done… I’m done.

Clearly this is a book blog, so there’s no real scientific reasoning to the following breakdown. But people have different reasons and strategies when it comes to reading, so after doing some research… who am I kidding… I asked Twitter and I got some great responses.

There are a number of reasons why you put a book down before you finish it, such as,

  • You can’t/don’t relate to the characters
  • You don’t like the characters
  • You don’t enjoy the plot
  • You’re not a fan of the writing
  • You’re not connecting with the story

Everybody has a different reading process and no one is going to have the same reading experience (even if they’re reading the same book) so here are some thoughts from Twitter:

As you can see, everyone is different. Maybe I’m naive, but it actually never occurred to me when I started writing this post that people didn’t give up on books. I completely understand their reasoning on why they might not want to break up, but I think I have the same philosophy as @MissusLeaver – life is too short to read something that I’m not enjoying. It could also be due to the fact that I have so many unread books, that if I can’t get a book to “stick”, I know I’ll be able to find one that’s a better fit. 

They say that breaking up is hard to do and it’s hard to do it with books too, so share with me in the comments below, what’s YOUR reading break up habits? Do you bail at chapter 3? Why do you throw in the towel?

*Luckily, I’m at the 75 page mark in my current read (a Spring title by Tessa McWatt), so it’s safe to say, I’m in it for the long haul.

6 Reasons Why You Should Read Marie Phillips’ The Table of Less Valued Knights

Less Valued KnightsI could write a review of this incredible book OR I could convince you why you should purchase a copy of The Table of Less Valued Knights in six points. Seeing as how I love categorizing things into numerical form I’ve chosen to go with the latter.

1. She’s the author of Gods Behaving Badly

Back in 2009 we all got the pleasure of reading a comical satire about the Greek Gods, otherwise known as Gods Behaving Badly. This charming novel had everyone talking about it’s originality and humour. Lucky for us, she’s done the same thing in her new book The Table of Less Valued Knightsa tongue in cheek look at the world of King Arthur and the Round Table. Well… technically, we don’t spend too much time at the Round Table as this story is told from the perspective of the Table of Less Valued Knights. A less prestigious table where old and rigid knights are forced to sit when they’re past their prime.

2. The Princess Bride meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When I heard that this was the two comparisons the publisher used to describe Marie Phillips newest book, I was sold. It’s the perfect combination of work to describe this hilarious book. Sir Humphrey du Val is not valued and when a damsel in distress comes running into the castle, he disregards King Arthur’s rule that he’s no longer able to go on quests and offers to help Elaine, a young maiden in search of her kidnapped fiancé. With his squire Conrad (an undersized giant) and Jemima (Conrad’s elephant) they set off a journey together with hopes that he’ll be able to prove his worth and once again get a seat at the Round Table. What transpires is a journey like no other… talking swords, a chase and a girl dressed as a boy, you’ll be laughing and cheering for this unlikely group the whole time you read this book!

3. It’s laugh out loud funny

There’s nothing better than a book that makes you smile and makes you chuckle. This is that kind of book. If you’re looking for something silly, but written brilliantly, this is one you NEED to pick up. Oh and if you need further convincing, might I suggest you check out the first two chapters.

4. You can make yourself an unofficial Knight while reading the book

In an effort to make you feel like a British leader, Random House of Canada created a Knight Name Generator to enhance your reading experience. For instance, some of you might know me as Reeder, but technically my Knight name is Sir Favian Chastity, Rider of Lawnmower, so feel free to call me that when you want to get my attention. Some of my other favourites are,

  • Sir Rulf Darktonian, the Average
  • Sir Rebral Joust-a-Lot, Scrabble Player Extraordinaire
  • Sir Favian Shadowmere, the Entitled

5. Who doesn’t like a good misadventure? 

As I shared before, this a book that will make you smile while reading. I love literature… a lot, but there is something to be said for a book that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, a book that just takes you away on a fun adventure. Even if you don’t have a firm understanding of medieval literature, it’s not required to understand this book. When you open up page one of The Table of Less Valued Knights, you’re going to be entertained for the rest of the afternoon, I guarantee it.

6. It’s going to be the book everyone’s talking about!

I can promise you that this is one book that everyone and their dog will be talking about, it’s that funny. It’s already received a rave review from the Guardian and it hasn’t even hit bookshelves yet! If I’ve done my blogger duties right, I’ve hopefully convinced you that this is a book you’re going to LOVE. So here are the next steps you can take:

  • Pre-order a copy from your local bookseller or online by clicking here.
  • Chat about it online using the hashtag #LessValuedKnights
  • Connect with the author of Twitter @mpphillips
  • Pick up a copy when it does hit bookshelves on August 12th.

I really hope you consider picking up this book, because it’s the perfect read to enjoy with a cup of tea or beverage in the sun this August. Oh and be sure to share with me in the comments what your Knight name is!

Signed,

Sir Favian Chastity, Rider of Lawnmower

 

 

[Video] Document Your Life – July 2014

July 2014

My first couple of days of July were spent saying goodbye to my childhood home in Halifax and spending some quality time with my favourite people. Only two of which are documented in the video below, but many more were there… I promise. The rest of the month, I read only a few books, Gone Girl and Landline, because much of the month was spent enjoying the Toronto sunshine.

It only made sense that since I’ve finally finished the Harry Potter series that I come face to face with Daniel Radcliffe. Well… technically, he never really looked at my face, but he did come to the premiere of The F Word here in Toronto and I got to attend with my pal Amy. We took pictures (and video) and thought that after the introductions that would be it… but nope. About fifteen minutes into the premiere of the movie, he came back in and sat SIX seats away from us. I watched the movie (which was delightful), but a lot of the time was spent looking to my left to watch him sip from his bottle of diet coke. FUN FACT: He is very short in real life.

Have a look at my July below and let me know if the comments what fun things you did this past month.

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The song in this video is Bare Feet by Vydamo — http://www.vydamo.com