Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Through his high school years Tsukura has a special relationship with his four best friends. But after he moves to Tokyo to continue his studies, he returns to Nagoya to discover none of his friends want anything to do with him. He is deeply hurt and only sixteen years later when he meets Jane, she encourages him to revisit his friends and find out the mystery behind why he was ostracized.

A moving story about friendships, loss and new beginnings.

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Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Gwen leaves her job at the London Royal Horticultural Society during the Blitz and volunteers to oversee a group of girls in the Land Army. She heads to Devon to discover most of the girls are more interested in the Canadian officers stationed nearby than working the land for the war effort. With little confidence in her ability to lead a group of unwilling workers, Gwen finds a friend and supporter in Jane.

This beautifully written short novel deals with friendships and love lost through the experiences of the three main characters and a hidden garden Gwen discovers while she roams over the estate.

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

After their widowed father’s death in the 1930s, Nora leaves for New York while her sister, Clara, stays behind teaching in Canada. But while Clare is out on a walk, she is raped. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she travels to New York where Nora and a friend help her seek an abortion before she returns to Canada.

After her ordeal is behind her, she meets a friendly middle-aged man she falls in love with. But is he everything she believes he is?

Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

On a farm on the outskirts of a small French village, Framboise, the youngest of three children, survives with her mother by selling their produce on market day. Their father has already been killed in battle, and the Germans occupy the country. While her mother may be a great cook, she has an acid tongue when her eyes rest on Framboise.

What follows after a German soldier witnesses Framboise stealing an orange that turns the entire community against the family?

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.

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.