Sunday, February 14, 2010

Canada Also Reads

If you are Canadian, you've probably heard of Canada Reads, but have you heard of Canada Also Reads sponsored by the National Post?

Well, one of my all-time favourite books has been long listed in the Canada Also Reads competition: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan. I just adored this beautifully written book (my review). I haven't read any of the other books, but I've heard good things about a number of them. It looks like a good competition.

Anyway, the winner will be determined by public vote. Make sure you follow along and vote for your favourite when the time comes. I don't have to tell you where my vote will go. ;)

Good Luck Cathy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Strictly Sundays by Joe Fitzpatrick

In Strictly Sundays: Making Every Cook a Hero on Sundays, Joe Fitzpatrick, The Blue Collar Gourmet, offers a tempting collection of recipes to help make that Sunday supper something special. The recipes are grouped into sections for: appetizers, main dishes, salads, soups, side dishes and salsas.

This is a pretty good cookbook. The recipes are nice enough for a special occasion or a Sunday family supper, but since they aren't overly complicated or fussy, many of them could be used on a weekday. The recipes are varied, but with the exception of a few salads and side dishes, vegetarians would be disappointed (and quite possibly starving). The only other thing that is missing is a dessert section.

The book contains some standard fare (pot roast, steak, clam chowder), but also has some out of the ordinary dishes that sound intriguing: "Wasabi White Chile", "Chestnut Soup", "Crab and Scallop Lasagna", plus many more.

A lot of the recipes sound delicious; I can't wait to make a few of them: "Tomato Pie" on page 113 looks a little unusual; "Garlic Bread with a Kick" on page 134 will likely be devoured in my house, but will no doubt enlarge my waistline; "Quinoa Salad" on page 93, I'm always looking for new things to make with quinoa; "Lemon-Garlic Chicken" on page 55 contains two of my favourite ingredients. I could go on and on. There are so many good ones.

I love the photographs in the book. Photographing food and have the photo come out delicious looking is extremely hard and is best left to those who know what they are doing. Well, Steven Potter knows what he's doing. The photos are wonderful and appetizing.

The layout of the book is really nice. The adequate index makes recipes really easy to find. I especially liked the addition of the coloured pages. They make the photographs stand out and add overall interest to the book.

Recommended.

For more information about the book and the author, please visit Strictly Sundays website.

Review copy provided by author/publicist via Bostick Communications. Thanks!

Strictly Sundays by Joe Fitzpatrick, Book Publishers Network, ©2009. ISBN 9781935359197 (Trade Paperback), 146p.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

In The Day the Falls Stood Still, Bess Heath has returned home from boarding school to find her family in near shambles. Her father has lost his job and disappears for hours at a time, her mother is forced to take in sewing to support the family, and her sister Isabel is despondent after having her heart broken. In a chance encounter on her way home, Bess meets a young man who will change her life and have her torn between her family's wishes and her own desires.

I absolutely adored this book. It's hard to believe it's Buchanan's first novel. The story was emotional, intelligent, stunning and beautifully written. I didn't feel like I was just reading about the past; I felt like I was actually there. The words and phrases, the characters actions, the descriptions of the surroundings, the fashions at the time; everything about the book pulled me back in time.

Even though the book is billed as an "epic love story", it's not at all gushy or sappy. Buchanan is reserved in presenting the obvious attraction and blossoming romance between Bess and Tom. Besides, there's so much more to the book than the love story between two people. It's about the love for the river and falls; their power and grandeur; the history of the area; war on the home front; the life of a young woman during that time; the controversy and division between those who appreciate the river as it is and those who seek to use it for their own gain.

I especially loved that Buchanan used fictitious newspaper articles to tell the story of Fergus Cole, the legendary riverman and Tom Cole's grandfather. These are scattered throughout the book and were a very nice way to introduce past events into the story. I also loved that she included some antique photographs of the Niagara Falls area and inhabitants. These added to the sensation that I was a participant in the story rather just an observer or reading about it afterwards.

I've been a prairies girl all my life and know very little about Niagara Falls area or its history. I appreciated how the information about the falls was incorporated into the story, particularly the part about the power companies and their use of the river. I had once read that the amount of water going over the falls was a fraction of what it could be, but I didn't know why. Now I do.

As emotional as the ending was, I wasn't moved to tears. Of course I was sad, but I knew that a destiny had been fulfilled and not much could change that. The ending stayed true to the story and characters and I just couldn't see it ending any other way. That's not to say that I knew what was going to happen.

This book is filled with beautiful passages. I couldn't possibly list them all here. So for now, here's a sentence that I can relate to. I'd list it among my favourites. From page 53: "It seems a cruel trick that time contracts when you want to savor it and expands insatiably when you do not."

The author's note at the back of the book contains lots of information about the real life riverman William "Red" Hill. Fascinating stuff that's definitely worth the read.

Highly recommended. This book is definitely one of my all-time favourites. I already know it's going to make the list of "Daisy's Best of 2010". So look for it in that post at the end of the year. I look forward to more works from this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author and other interesting stuff, please visit Cathy Buchanan's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan, HarperCollins, ©2009. ISBN 9781554683277(Trade Paperback), 298p.