Author: Mallee Stanley

Beverley Gray’s — The boreal herbal

Beverley Gray’s — The boreal herbal

This non-fiction book deals with wild foods and medicinal plants in Canada. It describes how and when to forage for different plants such as chickweed or wild rose.

What I find useful beside the information under each plant are the excellent clear photographs to help identify the right plant. Additionally, at the back of the book are recipes incorporating wild foods, but best of all, is a chart explaining each herb’s health benefit for healing ailments. I wouldn’t be without this book.

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Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

A sixteen year old school girl is not interested in marrying her cousin Lu or her lover, Min. All she wants to do is play Go and hang out with Min and Jing — the two boys who are both in love with her.

Waiting for an opponent in the Square of a Thousand Winds, a disguised Japanese soldier approaches and she invites him to play the board game. The game progresses day after day against a background of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. The soldier becomes intrigued, but nothing can prepare them for their final meeting.

Self-editing for fiction writers

Self-editing for fiction writers

This was an easy to read how-to book divided into chapters such as point of view, interior monologue, voice and beats. In every chapter there was a gem of advice that had me mulling over a writing habit I had previously overlooked that needed to be eliminated. The book included exercises and summaries at the end of each chapter that I must admit, I disregarded.

With a special thanks to my editor, Joyce Gram for recommending this book, I now pass that endorsement on to you.

Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

In the 1960s, Su-Jen lives with her parents who run a cafe in a small Ontario town. They are the only Chinese family and while her mother detests the isolation, Su-Jen enjoys her friendship with Charlotte. But once her father’s son arrives, Su-Jen learns a dark family secret. But after her half-brother’s mail order bride arrives, she is plunged into her own misery with a tragic event.

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

In 1947 when Charlotte’s mother escorts her across to Europe for a discrete abortion in Switzerland, Charlotte escapes on a train to London. She clutches an address in the hope of locating her childhood friend, cousin Rose, who disappeared towards the end of WW11 in France. But behind the door of the address she grips is a broken drunk of a woman and an ex con. Can they help her find her beloved cousin?

This is an exciting read made more fascinating by the author’s use of a number of real characters, women who acted as spies during WW1. As well, she wove real events into this well written fiction.

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

When Lavinia’s family lose their fortune, they leave England for a remote settlement on Canada’s east coast. Here they toil beside a handful of residents year after year. With little farmable soil, they depend on the sea for their meagre livelihood.

A well told tale of hardship and survival of early European settlers in Canada.

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Grace leaves Ireland to settle in Canada, but family hardship forces her into employment. When she moves away from her family to work for Thomas Kinnear, her life unravels. She is accused, along with another of Kinnear’s workers, of murdering Kinnear and his mistress.

This novel is based on the notorious nineteenth century murder when many believed Grace was evil and possibly insane, while others thought her innocent. So which is it?

Margaret Atwood is a prolific Canadian writer. For me, her two best novels are Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale.