Sunday, July 26, 2020

Book Review: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (darkly comic thriller)

Everyone in this book is using someone, but no one does it more frequently or to such a degree as narrator Korede's sister Ayoola.
Ayoola is self-absorbed but is she capable of murder? Is Ayoola a serial killer? It's a mystery Korede doesn't want to solve.

From the time Ayoola was born, Korede has been made to feel responsible for her sister. So she will clean up her sister's "murder" and help hide the body but she won't bring her sister to justice.

What stops her?

Sisterly love or...?

In fact, Korede attempts to convince herself of Ayoola's innocence. She blames the "victims" and even the "murder weapon".
'For some reason, I cannot imagine her restoring to the stabbing if that particular knife were not in her hand; almost as if it were the knife and not her that was doing the killing. But then, is that so hard to believe? Who is to say that an object does not come with its own agenda? Or that collective agenda of its previous owner does not direct its purpose still?' (p. 36)

Published by Anchor Books
A Division of Penguin Random House Inc.
Published in 2018

This gripping darkly comic thriller is perfect for a "challenged" reader with its easily digestible short--one to four pages--chapters. The chapters are so short, in fact, that some readers may be tempted to speed read. But doing so is unwise because transitions are subtle and information is provided sparsely. And you don't want to miss any of the twists and turns.

Braithwaite utilizes a clever means to convey backstory--Korede confides in Muhtar (a man in a coma).

Set in the city of Lagos, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a culturally rich book and I enjoyed visiting Africa from the comfort of my reading chair.
'In the Western world you can walk or dance in the rain, but here, the rain will drown you.' (p. 144)

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

Follow, follow me...

                                                Linked In

photo by ldyck

On this blog in August... 

Really? August already? Wow...

August 2

Short Story:  Maybe Me

This is like kinda a romantic story--kinda.
You'll need to read it to understand. 
(Or it may just leave you more confused)

August 9

Book Review:  The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens

Adventure story through Victorian England

August 16

Short Story:  Visiting Iceland

We've been stuck at home to long. It's time we traveled--and what better country than Iceland.

August 23

Guest Post:  

Book Review:  Year One
Nora Roberts

Guest Reviewer:  Benni Chisholm

August  30

Short Story:  Jaron Cardew, author

What is an artists' role in society?

photo by ldyck

Leaving July with...

A Smile

I offer this smile to you

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Galiano Island Ablaze (short story) by Leanne Dyck

When you live on a remote island there's an ever-present danger that tourists may not be aware of--but should be. This short story explains.

'Galiano as seen from Mayne' photo by ldyck

Map of the Southern Gulf Islands

Galiano Island Ablaze

Usually Mayne Island (my remote island home) is quiet. In the summer, peace may be broken by a chorus of tree frogs, birds singing, dogs barking or even a vehicle driving down the road. But our world of tranquility exploded last Sunday night. Helicopters circled overhead. Were we being invaded?

Monday, a smell woke me--air thick with...something. 

I turned on CBC radio. Two words, that's all it took--'Galiano' and 'fire'. 

My husband is a volunteer firefighter. He's warned me, "We have 45 minutes to vacate this island if... 45 minutes." 


"Things are so dry that all it would take is a spark."

So no beach fires, camp fires, wood stove or fireplace fires. No chainsaws. No bar-b-ques. No... 

We islanders know the dangers, heed the warnings.


Tourists? Do they know the risk?

Rumour had spread that tourists were buying firewood, setting beach fires.


And the worse had happened on Galiano Island. It was ablaze. 130 residents were evacuated.

Where would they go?

Remote island living breeds self-reliance, breeds community.

All Mayne Islanders answered as one, "Over here, neighbours. You're welcome over here."

Three Mayne Island firefighters went over to help battle the flames.

On Tuesday, I attended an art council meeting. Present were members from Mayne Island, Saturna Island, Pender Island, and Galiano Island. The members from Galiano Island set our worry to rest, "We're all working together. The fire is contained. Don't worry. We know what to do and we're doing it."

Yesterday, I turned on the radio and heard, "Galiano Island evacuees have been given permission to return home."

The worse is over, but we all must remember to be careful. 

This short story was inspired by a true event that happened in the early 2000s.

'ferry terminal' photo by ldyck


State of Emergency Declared As Fire Menaces Galiano Island

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

Follow, follow me...

'Galiano' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

In Room, a five-year-old boy and his mother are held captive in an 11 x 11 foot room. 

A few years ago, I walked into my local bookstore. 

The proprietor greeted me--book in hand. "Leanne, you have to read Room."

"What's it about?"

"A mother and her son are held captive in an eleven-by-eleven foot space." Was all I heard her say.

And all I could think was:  How depressing. Do I really need to feed my brain something so heavy?

But I value her opinion. So brought Room home. 

For two years the book haunted me until I finally gave in. I took the book off the shelf, flipped it open and read the first page. 

And what I thought was:  The story is told by a five-year-old boy? What an original narrator. Maybe I should just read the book simply to discover how/if Emma Donoghue pulls it off. 

I tried to keep reading but...

All I could think was:  What if something happens to the little boy? I don't want to read about the victimization of a child. 

Then, one day, curiosity won. I dived back in. I learnt that Jack isn't a victim. And even though hero and survivor are adjectives I would use to describe him I learnt that he wouldn't claim them. Room to me symbolizes fear and confinement--Room to him symbolizes a cozy home, thanks to his courageous mother.  

As I write this I have ten pages left to read--and I don't want to leave Jack. I feel a deep connection to him. He has made me laugh out loud; he has brought me to tears. 

Yes, it is a story about a mother and son confined in a small space. But, oh, it's so much more than that.

Questions I asked myself as I read:  What's my Room? What's my Outside? Why? How can I break free and overcome?

Published by HarperCollins Canada
Published in 2010

Related articles...

The cast of Room talk about the movie

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

Follow, follow me...

"found art"
found this when out on a walk--love it when people hide their art 
photo by ldyck

A short story...

The Difference Between BC and Manitoba Mosquitoes
Leanne Dyck

Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Fish on the Hayfield (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A Fish on the Hayfield is a short story about how the places I've lived have influenced my author journey.

'or a starfish on the pavement'
photo by ldyck

A Fish on the Hayfield

I was raised on prairie sunshine. Our community highly valued work--chapped hands, dirty fingernails, sweat on the brow work. Farmer husbands tolled for years over rocked filled land in an unforgiving climate too hot in the summer--too cold in the winter. Farmer wives minded the house, tended the kids, took a part-time job in town and worked beside their men come haying season. Art was a hobby that few had time for. But one day my dad pointed out a local farmer--Ted Stone--and identified him as a writer. I cut Mr. Stone's articles out of our local newspaper. I read Hailstorms and Hoop Snakes*. And I dreamed. Maybe... Someday... Could I use the power of my imagination to add beauty to the world? But no, I knew I was just...

Years passed and this hayseed was blown far from the prairies. When I settled I found myself on a remote island. Strangely, it felt more like home than any place I'd ever been.

"You are an artist," the islanders told me.

"Who me? No, I just like to scribble," I whispered.

"You are a writer," they announced.

And I was a fish in water.

*Hailstorms and Hoop Snakes was short-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award for Humor.

Are you following me?

Linked In

The story behind the writing and re-writing of 
A Fish on the Hayfield...