Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

“Newfoundland where it is perpetually almost summer until it is almost winter again.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 539 pages.
Read from February 28, 2020 to March 18, 2020

I’ve been a bad reader lately and have found myself behind on my books. I’ve finally finished what is number four out of five of the Canada Reads 2020 finalists. The debates themselves have been postponed so I have some time to catch up at least. Alayna Fender will be defending this novel when the debates resume.

Following a first-person narrative rotation of Newfoundland locals, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club highlights what it’s like to work and live within the small province. Needless to say, it doesn’t paint a happy picture. All the characters know each other and the quick-paced narrative jumps from one character to another while depicting intimate scenes from all their unique perspectives. To highlight a few of the characters: Iris, a self-sabotaging waitress, loves John but he is married. John works with Iris and thinks only of himself and won’t end their affair despite the pending consequences and damage its causing Iris. Georgina is married to John, she was looking for something completely different after the heartbreak of her last partner. Olive is Iris’ roommate who is barely holding on after experiencing severe sexual trauma. Damien, who also works with Iris and John, is suffering from a broken heart after Tom left him and can’t stop drinking and doing drugs. Each character is bound with these similarities, that they grew up in poverty in a small and socially confined bay of Newfoundland.

“No one says it is okay to feel hurt. No one says anything. Everyone just goes on living. We all go on living until we lose more of each other. And then we are made lesser.”

I have to say, I think the current atmosphere has affected my feelings on this novel. The characters are great and so is the writing but it isn’t what you’d call a happy story. In fact, it’s very dreary and the world feels a bit too dreary right now due to the Covid-19 virus.  I’m sure that this has played a factor into me not rating this novel higher as I did really appreciate the writing style and concept. This book also isn’t for everyone. The characters ooze with inescapable sadness and desperation. There are also many triggers for those that have suffered from sexual assault within the book. While it’s brought about tastefully and while highlighting the culture that perpetuates it, the content is still graphic. Interestingly, the author highlights both sides of the one major assault that takes place in the novel.

What I liked the most about this novel was how nicely it laid out some of the aspects of rape culture and the thought process behind it. The inner worthlessness and lack of control felt by the female characters and the confusion of the male characters who in the patriarchial workings of entitlement, poverty, and suffering in a small town were never taught to understand or empathise. What’s more, is that I could relate to some of the inner conversations that some of the female characters had with themselves with the endless people-pleasing and being trapped in that cycle of never feeling good enough constantly weighing them down.

I do wish I had read this book at a different time but who is to say that my rating of the book would change. Is this the one book to bring Canada into focus? Perhaps. It gives a voice to those that struggle to live out in the beautiful East coast. It’s not easy to make a living out there. The book also discusses rape culture, drug and alcohol abuse, and the treatment of people who are of mixed ethnicities, all of which are prevalent issues facing Canadians. We will have to see how this one stands up in the debates.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

3/5 stars.
ebook, 409 pages.
Read from November 9, 2019 to November 25, 2019.

I tried to do the responsible thing and wait to get this book from the library but after reading The Last Wish and the Sword of Destiny and loving them I decided I couldn’t wait to continue into this series and bought a copy for myself. 

After finally accepting his fate, Geralt has found himself protecting and caring for Ciri, the orphaned princess and the only remaining royal bloodline of Cintra. Ciri is quickly becoming skilled with a sword under the Witcher’s guidance but an old friend and lover of Geralt, Triss, points out Ciri’s serious magical potential. Ciri then begins to learn the skills of a sorceress to ensure she can control her powers and hopeful stop the horrible nightmares that have been keeping her awake at night.  However, Ciri is still being hunted. Rience, a powerful mage, tortures Geralt’s friend, Dandelion, to find the whereabouts of Ciri and ends up being saved by Yennifer. Geralt then pursues Rience while Ciri falls into Yennifer’s care in order to protect her.

The storyline in this book is not what I hoped it would be for the first official novel on Geralt. The short story style in the last two books seemed more concise and engaging whereas this book felt convoluted. Perhaps this novel is just laying a lot of detailed groundwork so that the next novel is seamless? I hope so. I still enjoyed the book, especially the character-building with Yennifer and Ciri and their bond, but the plot itself was lacklustre compared to the last two books. The focus of the previous books was more linear whereas this book the focus changes a few too many times between characters as well as on some uninteresting politics. 

Here’s hoping that the focus in the next book is narrower and more concise as I am looking forward to seeing how Ciri and Geralt’s fate unfolds. Overall, this book is likely still a necessary book in the series and I’m hoping to see the rest of the books continue on the same track as the previous two. 

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Merry Christmas, everyone! Figured I’d throw in a seasonal throwback review for today. This quick little read can be read in one sitting and shared in one sitting. 

 

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Originally published on Dec 31 2013.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Figured I’d throw in a seasonal throwback review for today. This quick little read can be read and shared in one sitting.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 48 pages.
Read on November 20, 2013.

At seven, Capote knows that the Christmas season begins when his much older cousin, Sook, exclaims that “It’s fruitcake weather!“. The story focuses on the wonderful relationship that Capote has with his eccentric and quirky cousin and the traditions that the two of them take part in during Christmas. It’s absolutely endearing that the two of them save all year so that they can make fruitcake for their family, friends and neighbours and that they both yearn to give each other something spectacular for Christmas but can never afford to so they just make each other kites. While the story ends rather sadly with Capote eventually being sent away to school and losing touch with his dear cousin the story is a nostalgic reminder of the spirit of Christmas and to be grateful for all of the wonderful miracles that life has already presented us. As Sook realizes:

“You know what I’ve always thought?” she asks in a tone of discovery and not smiling at me but a point beyond. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when he came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’11 wager it never happens. I’11 wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are”—her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone—”just what they’ve always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”

This story is about finding beauty in everyday life, appreciating your loved ones and being grateful for what you have no matter how little that may be. That is the Christmas spirit. This book is a perfect story to read at Christmas, even aloud, though I would recommend it for an older audience. Overall, I really enjoyed this quick read and will be looking forward to reading more Capote in the future!