The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittDear Mr. deWitt……..



This book will forever become one of the books I recommend to people in my library when they have no idea what to read, or even what they like to read for that matter. It is a book for everyone, and one that will sit with me long after I stop seeing it cross our circulation desk with regularity. It is an almost perfect book.



I must admit, I didn’t want to read this book, and I didn’t even want to like it, to be honest. But after so many people told me how good it was, I reluctantly took it home.

  • A western.
  • A western written by a Canadian author.
  • A western, written by a Canadian author, about the Gold Rush in California that takes place in the 1850’s.



It has horses in it, for goodness sake. Horses.



But from the moment I cracked the cover, I was hooked. The dialogue (or dialog, for Americans) was immediate, masterful, and so subtle in its genius, a reader might simply think the book was common. Far from it. Not only did deWitt not waste a single word, he found ways to make each sentence convey two or three layers of meaning.



Did I mention this was funny???



THE SISTERS BROTHERS is a tale of brothers, adventurers, and killers all wrapped up in a story set in the wild west. Visually, the reader is transported back in time with ease, even though many readers might never have wondered how dangerous and exotic the era was compared to how we live now. It didn’t matter that the pace was slow, that the characters went from place to place without accomplishing much, and that I’d forgotten much of the purpose for their trip when they finally reached their destination. I loved Eli and Charlie Sisters for very different reasons, and wished them success despite the mistakes they continued to make at every turn.



Thank you, Mr. deWitt, for writing a book that inspired me as a writer, challenged me as a reader, and left me wishing I could go back to the first day I opened the book and experience it in all its originality all over again.



heidi sinnett



P.S….. If you haven’t read THE SISTERS BROTHERS, you can read the synopsis here. Then, go and read it. Today!




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Summer Reading ChallengeAfter a long spring of writing, the YA Buccaneers are doing a Summer Reading Challenge. It’s a three-month long reading challenge, and you can pick your own books based on the squares. You can find out more about it here.



We’re checking in on Fridays to report on books we’ve enjoyed, books we would recommend and more. Summer is always a great time to try something new, so why not join us for this challenge?



I just finished THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick Dewitt, and although this wasn’t a YA book, it was definitely a road-trip of sorts….when the roads were full of horses and everyone was a looking for gold. I’ll have a review up about this book soon–it’s definitely on my “Love Letter” list.  What have you been reading?




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Dear Reader,



I SO wanted to write a love letter for Caitlin Moran’s HOW TO BUILD A GIRL. Having heard so many good things about it, I was ready to enjoy it…and I really did. It was funny, poignant, brilliant, even. I loved Johanna Morrigan as much as I liked her alter-ego Dolly Wilde, and loved her family like they were long-lost relatives. From the moment Johanna and her siblings innocently killed the snails, to her appearance on TV wearing her father’s jeans, I thought this was a heart-wrenching, hilarious, honest story. I wanted to know more. I wanted to love Johanna straight through to her Dolly Wilde days of drugs, sex, and heartbreak. And in most ways, I really did.



It was only after that I was disappointed.



If you haven’t read this book yet, Johanna Morrigan’s life begins in a cramped Council house, with a handful of siblings, and her larger-than-life parents. Moran really gets these people. She writes them with confidence, humour and without shame. And that’s what makes them wonderful. At fourteen, it’s clear that Johanna understands her life isn’t going to be much different unless she can find a path to take her out of there. And she does–writing for a local music magazine using the name Dolly Wilde.



While taking on the persona of someone who should be involved in the music business, Morrigan’s Wilde is everything the name implies…..carefree, bold, wild. She quits school to follow her dream, and really, nothing is denied this girl and her scathing pen. While reading about Wilde’s antics as she bed-hopped, went to concerts, and connected with musicians, there were many genuine moments where, as a reader, we knew Wilde was purposely avoiding the truth–that she was worth so much more than what she was doing. It took her a while, but she got there. As a reader, I must say I felt the same way.



It wasn’t until after I finished this book and started to follow up (because when you read something this good, you want more), that I realized the controversy surrounding Ms. Moran.  HOW TO BUILD A GIRL is not aimed at the YA audience, in fact, and is marketed as adult fiction. Why? The book is about a 14 year old girl and her journey to figure out who she is?  That didn’t make any sense to me.  Until I read that Moran had dissed the YA audience by proclaiming she wrote the book because there were no strong female teenage characters who weren’t just there to love vampires or werewolves.






In retaliation, the YA community took to Twitter to show Moran that there were PLENTY of great YA female characters who weren’t saving the world, or falling for supernatural creatures.  It seems as though she may have stopped reading books beyond the Twilight stage.



And to make matters worse, when I went to her original best-seller, the autobiographical HOW TO BE A WOMAN, I was surpised to find many of the same ideas presented in this book…almost line for line. Huh. Line for line? So now, it made me wonder why she didn’t try to market HOW TO BUILD A GIRL to the YA audience. Instead, she marketed a very similar book under a different title, to the same audience.



If I hadn’t started the original book, or done any online research about Ms.Moran, this would have been a love letter, for sure. Maybe even my favourite book of the year so far, but it’s funny how easily something can be tainted by a careless remark.



Note to authors, be true to yourself, but not by trying to make others appear less worthy. We’re all in this together. Share the love, please.




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We’re doing it again over at the YA Buccaneers. Yes, it’s our Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015 Bingo card! This was so much fun last year, we decided to do it again. And this year, you’ll be earning points for your team, so get Bingo-ing!



Download the full YAB Bingo Card over at YA Buccaneers, and start playing this week. if you get a Bingo, make sure to use the hashtag #SWB2015 so we can follow up!  We’re excited to play along with all of you. This is going to be a fun month for Bootcampers!




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So, you’ve figured out by now that we’re having a Spring Writing Bootcamp over at the YA Buccaneers. To get things really going, we’re having a YAB InstaTour! What’s an InstaTour? Just a little bit of fun we’ve cooked up, and we’re hoping you’ll join us.



Starting today, drop over to the YA Buccaneers for your first InstaTour Challenge. You’ll need to sign up in the comments section of today’s post, add your Instagram/Facebook/Tumblr/Whatever account, and you’ll be signed up. Once you understand what it’s all about,  you’ll be directed to the first challenge. Drop by the Instagram page listed (which just happens to be mine!), and see what today’s challenge entails. Take your own photo, use the hashtag #swb2015, and we’ll count it as a point for your team. Not on a team yet? Leave us a comment and we’ll sign you up!



I’ll give you a hint about today’s challenge….it will be tricky, Matey!




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