Author: mommahu

Single mom. Book reviewer. Former kickass indie bookseller, looking for work. Aspiring novelist.

Review – Empire of Wild

Cherie Dimaline
A First Nation’s Rogarou tale of lost love and salvation.
(CWs below)

You know, I wish I had picked a different title to start with here. I read Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild over the course of several months. That ARC *lived* in my backpack, just waiting to be picked up again. It took a while. To be honest, I struggled with reading for much of the lockdown, and after it, just because I was too overworked to think much outside of what’s for dinner, and what thing do I need to do next for the kids or pets or house.

Anyway, once I got back into it, this was a quick read, and one I’ve thought about extensively. I think if I had been reading this book outside of a writer’s perspective, I would have enjoyed it more. It’s a good story, and it addresses a lot of First Nations issues head on – struggles with racism, pressures for development, and balancing tradition with the need to provide, for starters. It is woman-centered, and as Dimaline says, the women have agency and authority in their lives. This is to be celebrated.

On the other hand, a lot of that agency seems focused on sex. Actually, most of the adult characters – male and female – are focused on sex. It’s a frequently recalled or longed for activity, and I think while it is a driving force of the story, it does little more than providing character motivation, avoiding any serious thematic exploration of desire or power. And as such, I think it distracted from the story.

There are points of great luminosity in the prose itself. Sometimes the book just sings along, painting bright images, places and scenes you feel you could almost immerse yourself in. Other times, however, the book is very self conscious, and I think it ultimately loses itself to this along the way. The plot and character development seem a little perfunctory, and the ending is not a great challenge to predict. Perhaps this is borne out of the author’s previous work in YA, but regardless, I found the story slipping away from me, and the ending a little pat and abrupt, its resolution emotionally detached. On a personal level, I found the ending particularly frustrating – [mild spoiler alert] – that perhaps the betrayal was not the youth’s, but his mother’s – an idea alluded to by the author herself earlier in the text.

Dimaline is a “young author” and you can see that in her prose, where it falters. She sets a good story, however, and I wouldn’t mind reading another book by her in the future.

CW – animal abuse, parental abandonment, drug use, alcohol use, violence

Notes on WordPress – Pressing Frustration

I’ve yet to get started on my big plans for this site. Part of it’s Real Lifeā„¢ – I’m managing one my offspring’s last year in high school – he’s virtual schooling at this point, which is fine, but he’s always here, and this has been a hard year, so I get interacted with a lot. Which is fine. But finding that balance between meeting the needs of a traumatized kid and focusing on my work – it’s not going as well as I’d like. Add to that the issues this year inherited – it’s been a challenge, to put it mildly. I’ll own that – it’s My Work, as an old friend of mine would say.

On the other hand, I’ve been working on getting this site up to speed as a professional reference point/anchor/place to share my skills and expertise. It’s proven a struggle, between the lack of WYSIWYG that WordPress is replete with and my growing realization that my website hosting here is not exactly a good value for the money. Right now I have a personal website via them, but accessing anything that might help me monetize is completely inaccessible. Adding the ability to add any widgets at all takes a professional level account, which would make the yearly total cost for my website between 300 an 400 dollars, depending on bells and whistles. That’s a lot right now.

As a former web developer I’m frustrated, because I know roughly how much the hosting for my website is likely to be costing WordPress. I understand the potential security concerns related to embeds, but, frankly, I suspect that they are less genuine security concerns for a monster webhost like WordPress, and more a polite excuse for another nickel and dime. Which is why I’m so frustrated right now. If I had known exactly how difficult it was going to be for me to set up my site – factoring in my background in website building – and how little I could accomplish with the money I pay for my domain and hosting – I probably would have looked elsewhere.

Long story short, I’m here, and at least for now, I need to stay, at least through the renewal of my services next year. And I’m writing, doing work in the background. It’s just going to take me a little bit longer to get up to speed.

Soon, though.

Adventures in Reviewland

2020 is certainly a year for the books, but for me, not one for books. One of my greatest frustrations this year as a bookseller has been a lack of time or energy for reading and reviewing books. Real life was hard, somehow reading was also hard.

One of the perks of being a book buyer is ARCs, or Advanced Reader’s Copies. They tend to slowly collect around booksellers, like dust woolies. I’m half convinced they breed in the dark. Because I have tons of them. Absolutely oodles. That image to the left is not my bookshelves, but somedays it feels like it could be.

One of my plans this fall is to dive back in, see what I can discover. Most of what I’ll be reading will be books for children and young adults – young readers’ literature is a passion of mine, and has been a professional focus. Not all of it will be, however. I have a few books I’m reading now – you’re welcome to check out my Goodreads to see what I have on the burner currently, but my next book will come from these stacks. I think I’m going to just start with what’s on my rolling cart (I have one of those, too, also full of books.) and on my bookshelf, and use a RNG to pick my next book, counting from the top left of my main to read bookshelf. I might just call this whole project “RNG Reviews.” ^_^ What do you think?

I also have a lot of F&Gs to catch up on – Fold and Gathers. These are picture books that have not been bound, but do contain finished art or mostly finished art. I was thinking I could do those too, on Fridays as I can. Since I’m coming up with corny names – “F&G Fridays” sounds good to me. (Side note – I once got accused of being profane when talking about F&Gs. Interesting conversation, for sure. XD)

New Life Ahead

Well, in true 2020 style, I’m off on a new adventure. I’m on sabbatical from the indie bookstore I’ve worked at for a decade. The turn of the year will mark the end of my time with them. Time for a change. I’m excited about the possibilities. And it is refreshing to have time to read again. This year that’s been hard to come by – I worked 61 days in a row during the lockdown, so I’m taking the time now to stop and look around, to gather myself and my resources and get ready to move onto to something new and exciting.

Photo by Tim Gouw on

Day to Day

Welcome to my corner of the world, in all its glory/inglory. This is where I work, every day, right now. This is my social distancing. It’s an odd space, reworked to be a hangout spot, but now where the Pete the Cat lives and where I work from home for the bookstore I’m employed with, at least right now. I don’t know how long it will last, given everything, but I’m trying to help limp things along. I love the light in this room.

The somewhat former teen hangout I call my office right now.