Adrift at Sea gets fab review from Resource Links!

Thank you Victoria Pennell for your high praise! Here are some of my favourite quotes:
“What a powerful book!”
“This book is very timely as we have so many refugees from war torn countries in the Middle East now attempting to make their way to a better life under the same kind of conditions that the Vietnamese people experienced back in 1981. With so many refugee children attending schools in Canada now, books like this one can help young children appreciate what some of these children have experienced and develop an empathy for them as they integrate into Canadian society.
I would highly recommend this book for all school and public libraries”

A slew of awesome reviews for Adrift at Sea!

From Laura Fabiani and Sandra Olshaski on their blog Library of Clean Reads:

Laura says “I highly recommend this book as a teaching tool and feel that it should be in every library. It’s books like this that will make history come alive for our next generation of children.”

And Sandra says “The soft-focus artwork done by Brian Deines that illustrates each page is amazing….The author has produced a very readable book that both parents and children should read together. I highly recommend this beautiful book.”

From Literacy Daily: “The evocative text and powerful illustrations, painted with oils, enable readers to feel as though they, too, are refugees adrift at sea during this risky journey to freedom.”

Sal’s Fiction Addiction says “The authors include personal photographs of Tuan’s family, before their escape and following their settling in Canada, to help readers understand this historical moment in time….Brian Deines (as he always does) has created truly beautiful artwork using oils on canvas to bring Tuan’s story to this book’s readers.”

Sherry Early’s Semicolon says: This nonfiction picture book opens with a bang. The illustrations in this book, full color paintings, are absolutely stunning….Brian Deines, has outdone himself in two-page spreads that bring this refugee story to life….[A] good introduction to the subject of the Vietnamese boat people…”


Adrift at Sea Brantford book launch!

A surprise snow storm didn’t keep people away from coming to the Station Cafe on Dec 6th. We had a packed house!

Tuan came with his entire family and we all autographed the books that were sold that night. Proceeds of the event were donated to the Brant Anglican Churches Support for Syrian Refugees. Sweets were provided by the Brant Anglican Churches refugee committee. The Family Literacy Committee of Brant, Kids Can Fly and the St. George Girl Guides hosted the event. Many thanks to Mike Tutt and the Station Cafe for the great venue.

Here I am with the amazing Sharon Brooks of Kids Can Fly. Sharon was the master organizer of the launch. Sharon is dedicated to improving the lives of the kids of Brant (she has my vote for being a woman selected for Canadian currency!)

Adrift at Sea — a bunch of awesome reviews!

AdriftAtSea_website“The text is terse and unembellished, leaving the images to capture the emotions through color and perspective—and they do so with compelling immediacy.”—Booklist

“[A] remarkable tale of perseverance that involved attacks from soldiers, a broken boat at sea, and a trip that was intended to last four days but went horribly awry….This is a solid informational resource that can be used for introducing a refugee’s experience.”—School Library Journal

“As she did in The Last Airlift and One Step at a Time, Skrypuch uses one child’s story to give moving insight into the experience of the many children who escaped war-ravaged Vietnam to start new lives….Deines’s (Elephant Journey) hazy oil paintings poignantly capture the family’s physical ordeal and anguish during their perilous journey.”—Publishers Weekly




“From the illustration of a lone boat adrift in a wash of dry heat that graces the cover of Adrift at Sea, to the dark and engrossing images of Tuan’s steps along the journey, Brian Deines’ art is evocative and integrative, resplendent in complementary colours of orange and golds and blues and purples.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…detailed authors’ notes include history, photographs, and maps. The warm undertones in Deines’ oil paintings evoke tropical Vietnam.”—Kirkus Reviews

Review: Dear Mr. M

Dear Mr. MDear Mr. M by Herman Koch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Herman Koch has a gift for getting a reader inside the head of flawed and unlikable humans in a mesmerizing way. Who is the most unlikable in Dear Mr. M? The voyeur neighbor who spies on the declining author and his family? Or that declining author, who finds moral equivalency in collaboration and resistance during war, and who marries a star-struck high school student 40 years his junior? Or maybe the young wife, who marries for fame. Intertwine these characters with the past ones — the teacher who sleeps with his student and then stalks her when she breaks it off, or those students who delight in tormenting people with cruel pranks.

All of these characters intertwine when the elderly author writes a mystery thriller loosely based on a true incident of a teacher who disappears and the students who are accused of murdering him. The title of his novel is Payback and as you reach the end of Dear Mr. M, you realize how perfect that title is.

Brilliant and addictive. Herman Koch’s best novel yet.

Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this book.

View all my reviews

Review: I Liked My Life

I Liked My LifeI Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Right from the first paragraph I was engaged in this poignant intertwining narrative. The voices alternate from Maddy’s from beyond the grave, to her teen daughter Eve, who is grieving and rightly feeling tremendous guilt, and husband Brady — ditto. I wanted to get to the bottom of it — how this family got to the point that Maddy dies (no spoilers — you’ll have to read for yourself). I liked the self-reflection on all ends and how the story made me reflect on my own life and people I may have inadvertently hurt. This novel affected me to the point that I wept through parts.

I almost didn’t request this novel on Netgalley because of the comparison to Jodi Picoult, whose works I find emotionally exploitive. There is a fine line between compassion and exploitation and Fabiaschi veers on the side of angels.

Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read and review this book.

View all my reviews

Review: Kiss of the Sun

Kiss of the Sun: A ThrillerKiss of the Sun: A Thriller by R.K. Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

RK Jackson has good potential as a writer and this story certainly had promise but this novel read like an early draft. Too bad that he and his editors didn’t take some time with it to clean up the howlers and the logistical holes. I particularly liked the character development at the beginning and the first half of the book was evolving into a nice thriller that only required a bit of willing suspension of disbelief. But then, near the end, it was like the writer realized he was running out of pages and rushed through to finish. The last few chapters in particular were all telling and no showing — the bad guy standing up and explaining what he was doing, and why. Sheesh. And the ending? Hoo boy: all trope. A few more drafts and some good editing and this could have been brilliant.
Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this book.

View all my reviews

Review: The Boy Who Escaped Paradise

The Boy Who Escaped Paradise: A NovelThe Boy Who Escaped Paradise: A Novel by J. M. Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very unusual novel about a young North Korean math savant who is found beside the murdered body of an unidentified man in New York.

The boy is taken to the hospital for treatment but also must be interrogated by police, but because of his difficulties in relating to people, this is a challenge. He does pour out his story bit by bit to another person, who, like him, speaks the language of numbers and symbols and in this way, the reader learns what happened to him.

In some ways the character reminds me of Forrest Gump. The boy is brilliant and easy to be taken advantage of, but what an uplifting story it is to follow his journey from a prison camp in North Korea all the way to the Statue of Liberty. He is such a true and trusting friend to the few who can relate to him. Many try to take advantage of his gift along the way and that in itself puts him into amazing circumstances.

Beautifully written, nuanced characters, great research. LOVE love this novel.

Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of a fair review.

View all my reviews