Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Scott Pilgrim Volume 5 by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Twists! Turns! Twins! Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe has it all. Also, killer robots, the parental Pilgrims, and various other traumatic events. Scott's moved in with Ramona, turned 24, everything seems to be going really well -- and then --

I'm actually finding it very difficult to say anything about this fifth installment of Scott Pilgrim's saga without giving anything away. This volume is absolutely packed. So much happens, and it starts happening straight from the beginning. Things that happen make me want to shake various characters, or possibly even sledgehammer them (+2 against angst) and yet, despite the angst and the dumb decisions, I still love them. And I am dying to know what happens to them now.

One thing I can talk about, albeit briefly, is that while I do find some of the decisions dumb, and some of them hard to swallow, and some of them just plain sad because I like these fictional people, none of them seem stupidly out of place or out of character. They all make sense, given the characters and the world that O'Malley has crafted. We're not treated to inner monologues, and we don't know all the motivations, but the choices each character makes are consistent with who they are. And even when it makes me cringe because I know it's not right, I understand the decision. And I like that -- and I like that there's enough depth in each of the major characters that I can grasp their motivations and disagree with them, but still like the characters anyway.

This volume, by the way, is just as funny as some of the others. And it's paced very well. And I don't know what will happen, or if the ultimate ending for Scott will be a traditionally happy ending; the ending of this volume is a huge cliffhanger, which isn't fair because the last volume isn't out until... later. I don't know when. Waaah!

Teaser Tuesday: The Overloaded Ark

This week I've started Gerald Durrell's first autobiographical novel, The Overloaded Ark. As a kid, I used to gobble up Durrell's books, my favourite being A Zoo in my Luggage. So I decided to read them from the beginning. This first book of his was published in 1953, and the expedition to Africa he is detailing took place in 1947. So though Durrell was a much more ethical collector than many of that time, and though I suspect he had far more respect for the Africans he dealt with than many of that time, there are still some things that are written that make me cringe because of the societal views and culture he grew up in. But I'm going to stick with it because I admire the man tremendously, and I think that reading this entire book is going to be educational for me, and provide a shape to his life and philosophies that I currently don't have. And also, there are many wise bits, tender bits, exciting bits and funny bits to be read among the parts that make me uncomfortable.

From The Overloaded Ark by Gerald M. Durrell, p116:

By this time I was also covered with ants, and there was nothing for it but to remove every stitch of clothing. Stark naked I organized my equally nude staff for battle.

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. It works as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Include the title and author.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath.

And so begins one of the most charming "finding self" novels I've read in a long time. Maybe ever. I am so glad this book caught my eye (with a cover like that, how could it not?) It is an honest, beautiful, and really, really funny book.

Colin is a prodigy. We find out early on, however, that prodigy does not necessarily mean genius. What Colin would like, more than anything, is to do something original, something that hasn't been done before -- something that matters. And he would also like a girlfriend named Katherine. All of his girlfriends have been Katherines, and all of them have dumped him. So after his heart is broken by K-19, his friend Hassan ("Sunni Muslim. Not a terrorist.") pulls him off his bedroom floor, gets him in the car ("Satan's Hearse") and they start driving. A random road sign takes them to small-town Tennessee, where they meet Lindsey Lee Wells (paramedic-in-training) and her cadre of friends, her mother, and assorted characters from the town. Things happen, Theorems of Underlying Katherine Predictability get postulated, and many stories get told.

I'm not sure how to start with what I liked. First of all, and perhaps least important, there are footnotes! I love a book with footnotes. The footnotes include some of the more hilarious bits (I particularly liked Colin's sentence that allowed him to remember the first 100 digits of pi) but never take away from the action. Second, Green's turn of phrase is astounding. He says things that seem perfect. You know how authors sometimes write a sentence that makes you think, "There is no better way in the entire English language to say that"? This book is full of those for me.

I love the characters too. They're witty without being completely unrealistic, although occasionally they border on being slightly too quick with a quip. But Green has done something really special with Colin -- by taking Colin as a prodigy, he's magnified a period that many of us who have been teenagers have gone through. We thought we were one thing, we had our (admittedly fluid) identity, before various hormones hit and before we were spit out into the "real world" (or entered college or university, which is a very different thing). And then suddenly we are finished high school, at loose ends, wondering who the hell we are and what the hell we're going to do with our lives. Colin's pre-graduation identity is larger than life, but it's a feeling lots of us have had at one time or another. Hassan and Lindsey both experience similar crises in different ways. And they get through it okay, which is comforting.

And what I loved most was the role storytelling, the way we tell stories and the stories that we choose to tell, played in the book. It's subtle at first, but it's there; and it grows more powerful as the plot goes on. It's just perfect.

If I had one gripe, it's that the setup for the plot happens just a little too quickly. Hassan and Colin hit it off with Lindsey immediately, and then with Hollis just as quickly, and so the setup is complete with almost unbelievable speed. I'm saying "almost" because really, I was enjoying myself too much to not believe it.

To finish, a couple of passages I liked:

"Look," Hassan said. "This is my ninth day at a school in my entire life, and yet somehow I have already grasped what you can and cannot say. And you cannot say anything about your own sphincter."

"It's part of your eye," Colin said defensively. "I was being clever."

"Listen, dude. You gotta know your audience. That bit would kill at an opthalmologist convention, but in calculus class, everybody's just wondering how the hell you got an eyelash there."

And so they were friends.


Think about it: boys, basically, want to kiss girls. Guys want to make out. Always. Hassan aside, there's rarely a time when a boy is thinking, "Eh, I think I'd rather not kiss a girl today." Maybe if a guy is actually, literally on fire, he won't be thinking about hooking up. But that's about it. Where girls are very fickle about the business of kissing. Sometimes they want to make out; sometimes they don't. They're an impenetrable fortress of unknowability, really.

Those aren't the only bits I wanted to quote. If I quoted everything, this post would include most of the book. There are sections where I was giggling and nodding for pages. This book is very much recommended for anyone who enjoys a good, funny, romantic but not squishy romantic, read.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Eat, Pray, Love

Tuesday seems to come around rather more quickly than I realize. But here we are -- another Tuesday, another teaser. This week it's from a book I took camping and then barely took out of its waterproof bag lest I destroy it. I read significantly less than I would have had the sun been shining. As it was I only managed to read half of one book, and am grateful that I only took two books, not the four I wanted to.

Eat, Pray, Love is a book I have had on my "borrowed" shelf for a very long time. It's my mother's copy. She read it as part of her book club, and really enjoyed it, although it's interesting to me that I find it hard to picture as a book she would be so enthusiastic about. For those of you who haven't read it (and there are a few of you, I know) it chronicles a year in writer Elizabeth Gilbert's life, a healing year after years of very painful personal events. And I really, really like her. I like her a lot more than I expected, which could perhaps be what happened to Mom too. I'm looking forward to reviewing this one.

Also, I'm changing the format of these entries, because I don't like what this template does with a quote at the bottom of an entry -- it's hard to read. Shuffling things about! It's crazy, people!

From Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, p228:

If you tell them you don't know where you're going, or that you're just wandering about randomly, you might instigate a bit of distress in the heart of your new Balinese friend. It's far better to pick some kind of specific direction -- anywhere -- just so everybody feels better.

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. It works as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Include the title and author.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

I'm a little mixed on Skybreaker, although I promise that it falls well on the side of "this is an awesome book" in the end. It wasn't as shiny wonderful as Airborn is, I guess -- my expectations were set foolishly high, and so it's not terribly surprising that in some ways Skybreaker fell a little short.

We start quite promisingly. Matt Cruse is completing a field placement for school -- he's a student now, at the Airship Academy -- on a rickety old freighter named, appropriately, the Flotsam. Caught in a storm and pressed forward by their foolhardy captain, the Flotsam nearly wrecks, saved only by Matt's quick thinking and mutinous action. But before they manage to get the ship under control, they have seen what many think impossible: the airship Hyperion.

The Hyperion had vanished nearly forty years before, and with her, what is believed to be a huge fortune in gold. Soon Matt, the only one who can remember the co-ordinates of the lost ship, is dodging pirates again, and then he's off to catch the Hyperion, helped by a Rom girl named Nadira, Kate de Vries, and the salvage skybreaker captain Hal Slater (along with the, er, "charming" Miss Marjory Simpkins, and Hal's truly charming crew). Things become complicated by a love quadrangle, dangerous airborne creatures, yet more pirates, brilliant inventors, and good old-fashioned greed.

In trying to put my finger on what I found less than engaging about this book, I'd have to say that the love quadrangle probably comes out as the culprit. I'll admit I'm prejudiced against them anyways, but this one didn't feel particularly well done to me. Because of the relationship tangles, much of the time we spend in Matt's head is spent on both confusion and frustration. It does feel pretty genuine to the teen thought process: "I felt pulled in different directions, and I hated it. I did not like myself" says Matt at one point, and boy, do I remember feeling that exactly. But for the most part, it really didn't click with me; and at times, the characters didn't feel like they were clicking with each other, even when they were supposed to. Furthermore, the resolution to this whole situation was just... way too fast and convenient, although the book immediately gets a lot better as soon as the situation is resolved.

The other thing I didn't buy was Matt's supposed newfound greed. At all. I think he buys it, but I didn't. It's just not in his character, and it's not portrayed convincingly enough for me to believe that he had such a change of personality. In fact, it seems a bit uncharacteristically ham-fisted of Oppel -- but again this was a major driving force for Matt's actions, at points, and so I had to buy it a little bit. So I deliberately suspended disbelief.

At this point, you might be wondering what did work well. The setting, once again, is just incredible. It feels completely real and it was completely creepy at points, too. The Hyperion is a ghost ship; for all intents and purposes, she is shipwrecked -- it's just that she's floating, not at the bottom of the ocean. I've always had a strange relationship with shipwrecks. I grew up spending summers swimming over the two schooners washed up in the cottage bay, and to this day I am both drawn and frightened by them. So the setting, on this aged and very eerie airship, is very very much my kind of thing. Is she haunted, is she not? Just where is the little manservant's body? And is anything, at all, left alive?

Another thing I really liked was the characterization work on Hal Slater, the captain of the salvage ship. He's not a villain, and he is a hero, but he's also not tremendously sympathetic. He's mercurial, and the reader doesn't know what to expect of him any more than the other characters do. His character is complex and fascinating, and an interesting exercise is to read him and wonder exactly how it is that he is so unlikeable and yet still almost likeable. He's the sort of character not seen particularly often in books for kids, or adults for that matter -- and I'm not sure I've ever encountered an unsympathetic central character who isn't a villain written so well.

And finally -- the last several chapters of this book just fly. They are so good. They make up for the frustrations I had with the earlier parts of the book. More than. There was a little twist at the end that I didn't see coming, although it was so perfect that I felt I should have seen it. There were times, through the last chapters, that I had to put the book down and go do something else for a bit -- but not too long! -- just so I wouldn't injure myself with my tensing. I'll admit I wasn't particularly anxious to read Starclimber, but then I got to the end. Now Starclimber is on hold at the library for me. This isn't a cliffhanger situation, by the way, although there are a number of little unanswered questions. I just want to spend more time in Matt's world.

If you like a good adventure, please read these books. Start with Airborn, and stick with the parts of Skybreaker that frustrate you (if they even do -- I might just be more prejudiced against love quadrangles than I realize myself) because the payoff is so very, very great.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you Harvee at Book Bird Dog for the Kreativ Blogger Award! It's very kind of you to think of me. To accept, I've listed seven of my favourite things, and then pass the award on to seven creative bloggers.

So! Seven favourite things:

1. Doing my first walk of the day around the garden with a cup of tea.
2. Reading a really good book and blogging about it (seriously -- I am not just sucking up to the book blogging community here -- I love doing this, and I'm so glad I started this blog).
3. Watching cooking shows in bed with fishy.
4. Super Mario Brothers 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
5. Georgian Bay around the Bruce Penninsula in any weather.
6. Birdwatching (anytime, anywhere).
7. Handing someone a book at the library that I helped them put on hold or order - it makes them happy, and it makes me happier.

I'd like to nominate, for creativity, range of topics, excellence of posting and sheer good blog form:
Geoff at wiresandwires
Phyl at Bookishgal
Darla at Books & other thoughts
Megan at Simply Books
Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm

And both Brittney at Brittney's Blog and Kinnie at Kinnie's Korner for being both brave and creative, and jumping on the blogging bandwagon early. These two young bloggers write interesting and articulate posts and as a librarian working on youth programs, it's awesome to hear from the youth themselves about what they're reading.

And everyone, just so you know -- I am always reluctant to post this sort of thing -- I will certainly not be upset if you don't post your award. I just like to point people to blogs I like. I don't really know the etiquette surrounding blog awards at all, so if anyone would like to enlighten me that would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: An Abundance of Katherines

Good morning all! It's Tuesday. Teaser Tuesday, in fact. This week I'm reading John Green's charming An Abundance of Katherines. It's different from my usual read, but I'm quite enjoying it. Road trip story, and often very, very funny, and once again full of moments that I recognize as being a moment I could have had myself. I knew I would like it from the first sentence.

Which is not your teaser sentences, by the way. No, these are much further down the line. And there's a few more than two sentences, but that's because there are two sentences that are extremely short, so I figure it averages out.

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. It works as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Include the title and author.

From An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, p150:

"I'm never myself. I've got a Southern accent around the oldsters; I'm a nerd for graphs and deep thoughts around you; I'm Miss Bubbly Pretty Princess with Colin. I'm nothing."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scott Pilgrim Volume 4 by Bryan Lee O'Malley

So, I had planned for this next review to be of Kenneth Oppel's Skybreaker, the sequel to Airborn. That's my current read. However. The fourth Scott Pilgrim book, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, just happened to be bedside when I woke up from my nap, and I happened to pick it up, and an hour later I happen to have finished it. Oops.

But it's good. Actually, it's quite good, which is nice after I found the third book to be pretty-good-but-not-excellent, and I was worried that things might be heading downhill. The fourth is right back up there. It was possibly made better by my husband mentioning, offhand, that there was no evil ex-boyfriend in this one. I was kind of indignant -- what about the whole plot! Must move along! Don't worry, it does.

We have Scott meeting an old high school friend (whom he might not remember but we do), mysterious caped and be-sworded samurais, a Sex Bob-omb album in the works, a deadly half-ninja, Wallace without pants, Scott getting a job, and shifting living arrangements. The balance between sweet, salty, and hilarious is back as Scott tries to say the l-word. Which l-word? You will have to read to find out.

One section I really, really liked was a late-night awkward conversation filled with revelations and regrets. It was pitch-perfect emotionally. I haven't been there, exactly, but I know emotional truth when I see it, and I'm pretty sure that scene is played out, in variation, on many couches, in many apartments, in many cities, every night. It was a scene for me that rivalled the emotional truth I loved so much in Lost at Sea, and I was was really pleased to find that level of connection, in a sustained way rather than little flashes, in Scott Pilgrim too.

My husband's concerned that he doesn't like Ramona as well as he used to. I can see where that might come from, but I am still very fond of her. I am concerned that Scott might get his heart broken, but to be fair to Ramona, I think she's very conflicted. She's still quite mysterious -- but she's starting to open up a bit to Scott. And I think she needed to. It's nice to see their relationship developing. Scott is growing up, and Ramona is opening up, and it's all very sweet (and funny) to watch.

The first book is actually waiting for me at my favourite bookstore, and I'm going to have to go pick it up this week. I'll order them all, but it's a budget thing. At least there are only going to be six books! The final book isn't out yet... but I think, rather than ordering the fifth book ILLO, I might order it from the bookstore and then work backwards. Also, I have decided that whatever Bryan Lee O'Malley does next, I will have to buy it. He's quietly worked his way into my favourite author pantheon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Skybreaker

Yes, I missed Teaser Tuesday last week. I was between books, and by the time I remembered to post something from the book I was intending to read this week, Tuesday was pretty much over; so I skipped it.

But this week I'm back in the skies with Matt Cruse, and I'm quite contented to be there. This book is a little less action-packed than the last, and the pace is more internal to Matt. There are new, vivid characters as well as old friends, a ghost ship, and the possibility of much gold to be had by the brave.

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. It works as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Include the title and author.

From Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, p213:

He started on the book shelf, sweeping row after row of leather-bound volumes to the floor. It shocked me to see books treated so, but I dared not say anything, for I could see in Hal's high good cheer a fierce impatience and simmering anger.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ranma 1/2 Volumes 6 and 7 by Rumiko Takahashi

I'm on a manga kick lately, in case anyone hadn't noticed. This is partially because they're easy to read and the past couple of weeks has been so busy outside of reading that my concentration is fairly shot. I'm hoping that will change, but until then I'm getting to visit with some creative stories and fun characters that I'm growing very fond of... Scott Pilgrim, and as today, Ranma and Akane and their absolutely nuts and ever-increasing cast of supporting characters.

I was thinking earlier that this series is very much a guilty pleasure for me. In the "I know this is seriously not politically correct -- Akane keeps getting made fun of for not being womanly enough -- but I love it anyway for some reason" way. But as I was reading Volume 7, I realized something that I am incredibly dense for not realizing before. More on that in a moment.

So to catch everyone up a little... in Volume 6 we meet Happosai, Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo's master, the true master of the School of Indiscriminate Grappling. He has decided that Ranma will be his heir and he shows up at the Tendo Dojo to stay, much to the horror of Genma and Soun. We soon learn why. He is the epitome the word "lecher" and his panty-stealing exploits, not to mention laziness and gluttony, combined with absolutely astonishing martial arts powers, spell trouble for everyone.

In Volume 7 there are various plots, starting with a drama club production of Romeo and Juliet, moving to a plot where a Japanese "Spring of Drowned Man" is discovered -- underneath the girl's locker room at the high school. Finally, the last episode is a plot involving deadly cookies and incriminating photographs. The first two main plots in this volume bring us back to the overarching storyline, of Ranma trying to find a way to stop turning into a girl, and the last brings back the over-the-top villainess Kodachi Kuno (hooray!) as well as the "Akane can't cook" running gag.

So. My revelation came when I realized that almost all the parts that make me cringe -- usually gender-roles related -- come from the mouths of characters we can't possibly take seriously. Soun Tendo is clearly one lightbulb short of a chandelier, and Genma is usually a panda. The part that made my jaw drop in Volume 7 was Kuno's pronouncement that a woman's sole source of happiness was in her husband loving her cooking. I actually physically winced when I read that. And then I realized, this is Kuno. This is the character who is possibly the least likeable (although not the most irritating) and who is also always wrong. Thinking more on it, I realized that the only reason Akane's massive lack of cooking skills matters to Ranma is because it matters to her. He couldn't care less, except that she does; and it's pretty clear that the main reason she cares is because she can't stand to let the cookies win.

As well, Akane as Juliet inspires a battle royale for the position of Romeo. This is Akane, who is supposed to be a tomboy, who would just as soon kick a boy than kiss him, who can't cook, and otherwise displays very little in the way of traditional "women's skills." And yet she has four men fighting over her.

I'm not suggesting that Ranma 1/2 be read as some sort of treatise on gender roles. Akane still needs rescuing a bit too much for my liking, although she does some of the rescuing and lots of quick-thinking in these two volumes herself. But it's subversive, and often hilarious, and the romance is really quite sweet. It's easy to read this manga very quickly without paying attention to the issues that Takahashi is poking subtle fun at, but I'm going to try to pay a little more attention when Volumes 8 and 9 come in at the library because I think it will enhance my own enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Ah, Discworld. It feels good to be back again. I've missed you! Getting my hands on Equal Rites has been a bit of a challenge, although that's partially because I'm really trying not to buy as many books. I will admit: was at the bookstore last week and did pick up Mort for myself, which is one of two Discworld novels I'd read before The Wee Free Men. This way I have my next book queued up in the TBR pile, rather than waiting several months to get to it. (BTW, this is the cover of the edition I read... not the one I like. These new black covers are... trying to make the Discworld novels into something they're not, I think. Although I guess they may appeal to a different audience from those who have previously read Pratchett's work, and that's a good thing.)

Equal Rites is the story of Eskarina Smith, Discworld's first female wizard. She's the first one because the wizard Drum Billet, on the eve of his death, hands over his staff to the eighth son of an eighth son -- except that Esk turns out to be a daughter, not a son. The staff's sure it hasn't made a mistake, but everyone else is sure it has. Esk's lucky, because the midwife who delivered her happens to be the redoubtable witch Granny Weatherwax -- and Granny's not about to let some wizard magic (suitable only for men, she believes, and lesser for that) mess the poor girl up. But even Granny's best laid plans can't keep the wizard magic away from Esk, and something's going to have to be done, and there's certain to be adventure on the way.

Compared to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites is a little more refined, a little less madcap (it can't help it -- there's no Rincewind), and more subtle in some ways. It's a quieter story and it's also a book about Issues, in a very unsubtle way. It never pretends to be about anything else, and the story is such a good one that I can forgive it being about Issues when I'm often turned off by that. Pratchett handles the subject of women's rights deftly. Part of what I like so much about this story is that he's very sympathetic to his characters, but only when they're not being stupid or hypocritical; hypocrisy is laid bare for everyone to see, and it's mocked mercilessly, as it should be. I guess the big difference between this book and other books about Issues is that the way women's rights are dealt with grows out of the story organically. There's nothing forced about it.

As I'm growing to expect, the characters are vividly painted, and not necessarily two-dimensional (although some of them are -- this is forgiven because the main characters eclipse the minor characters). Granny Weatherwax, especially, is remarkable and I love her. She's such a legend to me, having met her in the smattering of other Discworld books I've read -- it was fun to read her "beginnings" (when she's already comparatively elderly -- I love that she's treated so well). She's the sort of character I love to read, but would probably be scared to death of if I actually met her. Especially if she wasn't on my side. I don't imagine her to be a comfortable person to talk to. But to read about her talking to others is a joy.

The storyline itself is a good adventure, a somewhat traditional coming-of-age. There were a few episodes that seemed a little... thrown in for the heck of it, maybe? It's not as tightly crafted as it could have been, but I think I'm spoiled by other Pratchett I've read. And I didn't think some of the description was as rich as I'd expected, although still miles ahead of many other writers.

What I do love is that I'm starting to get a feel for the shape of the Discworld novels, which was my whole intention with reading these books in order of publication. In some ways, Pratchett is still clearly feeling his way through things, still growing the world. I would rather, in my case of reading the books for the first time, have the shape of the world grow in the right order for me. I don't know if that makes any sense at all to anyone but me.

And because Pratchett's quotability factor remains high in this novel, here's one of several I really liked:

The barges stopped at some of the towns. By tradition only the men went ashore, and only Amschat, wearing his ceremonial Lying hat, spoke to non-Zoons. Esk usually went with him. He tried hinting that she should obey the unwritten rules of Zoon life and stay afloat, but a hint was to Esk what a mosquito bite was to the average rhino because she was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.

And once I've worked my way through some of the coming-due library books on the TBR pile, to Mort, where we get to hang out with another of my favourite Discworld characters: DEATH.

P.S. Today is Canada Day! Happy Canada Day, everyone, especially my fellow Canadian readers. A classic treat from the National Film Board for you, that has nothing to do with books in general or Terry Pratchett in particular: The Log Driver's Waltz.