Disappearing Earth offers a peek into everyday life in a remote Russian community

Certain books appeal to me for their ability to transport me to another place, another culture or another time that I would never otherwise have the opportunity to experience. That's what appealed to me about Disappearing Earth, a novel by Julia Phillips. It's set in Kamchatka, a remote peninsula extending south from the eastern coast of Siberia in Russia. It's a contemporary story about the abduction of two young sisters, 8-year-old Sophia and 12-year-old Alyona on a warm August day. This crime is the unifying thread that ties a wide variety…

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Japanese occupation of Singapore still resonates today

Every so often we read a book that gives us a renewed appreciation for when and where we were born. That's what struck me the most after reading How We Disappeared, a novel by Jing-Jing Lee. I've always felt I won the lottery being born in Canada as a baby boomer after the end of the Second World War. Growing up in a free country that offers so many opportunities and privileges as well as a comfortable standard of living is truly a gift.The main character of this book, Wang Di…

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Cathy Guisewite is back with the opposite of a graphic novel . . . a narrative cartoon

There isn't a boomer gal alive who hasn't at one time clipped a Cathy cartoon out of the daily newspaper and attached it to her fridge, tacked it to her bulletin board at work, or sent it to a friend. We were devastated when she 'retired' from her daily comic strip a few years ago but she's back in the saddle with a new book that picks up where she left off. Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite is like reading her famous comic strip in narrative style—fifty…

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Canadian author Yasuko Thanh’s personal journey is a contemporary tragedy

Despite the proliferation of helicopter parenting these days, there are still far too many children who are unloved, unwanted, mistreated, and, tragically, abused. Mental illness often plays a major role in the lives of many parents and children who through no fault of their own are unable to negotiate a happy, fulfilling life. Canadian author Yasuko Thanh's Mistakes to Run With: A Memoir is such a story. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading her memoir but as the story unfolded I was alternately appalled and transfixed.…

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Leader of French network spying on German military installations during WW2 was a beautiful, courageous young woman

When I started reading Madame Fourcade's Secret War by New York Times' bestselling author Lynne Olson, I assumed it was a novel of historical fiction—a story built around the experiences of true-life heroes of the French Resistance during World War II. To my surprise and ultimately much more rewarding to read, it turned out to be non-fiction. This book is a history lesson that is long overdue. We've read a lot of stories over the years about the bravery and heroic efforts of French citizens who risked their lives and…

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Story of Lithuanian struggle after the war is a fascinating read

Whever I read a book like Under Ground by Antanas Sileika  I'm reminded that we won the lottery being born in Canada. The rights, freedoms and privileges that we enjoy as Canadians are shared by so few in the world. After World War II, the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were basically abandoned by the Allies and left to be plundered by the Russians. After being pummelled both physically, morally and politically by the Germans during the war and then the Red Army, Lithuania was a country…

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