Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023: “Run Towards the Danger”

‘When I first met concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins, after three and a half years of suffering from post-concussive syndrome, he said, “If you remember only one thing from this meeting, remember this: run towards the danger.” In order for my brain to recover from traumatic injury, I had to retrain it to strength by charging towards the very activities that triggered my symptoms. This was a paradigm shift for me…’ Sarah Polley

I have been a fan of Sarah Polley ever since she starred in “Road to Avonlea”. Although I knew that being a child actor has its challenges, I was saddened to read about the trauma that Polley experienced being a child actor in “Road to Avonlea”, as well as “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen”, and a theatre production of “Alice in Wonderland”.

Polley’s writing is raw and real as she writes a series of essays not only about her time as a child actor, but also about a high risk pregnancy, why she didn’t testify at Jian Ghomeshi’s trial—“Most of the lawyers I have spoken with insist that nothing should change in the way that sexual assault cases are tried…but that they would…never advise a woman they loved to come forward in a sexual assault case”—and her recovery from a concussion, which inspired the title.

Each essay is powerful on its own. Taken as a whole the collection, though dealing with some very difficult topics, is rewarding to read.

Sometimes I felt Polley was writing my own story, as someone who lost her mother young to cancer, or as someone who suffers from anxiety. For example, Polley writes, “I cannot, sitting here, in my forty-one-year-old body and brain, remember what it felt like to be certain that expressing a fear would make it worse, that the humiliation of people knowing that I had a fear could be worse than the agony of living with it alone and unexpressed.” (Although, I sometimes still have trouble with that today.)

Other times my own paradigm was shifted. Polley writes about her concussion treatment, “We are questioning some of the basic tenets of ‘wellness’ wisdom we have previously taken to heart, which implores us to take it easy and be gentle and accept our limits without specifying what limits are acceptable.” Hmmm…Acceptable limits?

I continue to follow Polley’s career and am glad that she keeps breaking ground. Most recently Polley won an Oscar for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for “Women Talking”. Admittedly I could not finish reading the book, written by Miriam Toews, but I hope to catch the movie despite its heart wrenching subject matter.

“Run Towards the Danger”—my sixth book for the 2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge— is hard to categorize. It was published in 2022, so it doesn’t quite make the 2023 list, and is not meant to be a memoir. The book touches on the subjects of the arts, relationships, and health.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler


Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023: “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands”

“I need to tell you this—There is no knowing Cape Breton without knowing how deeply ingrained two diametrically opposed experiences are: a deep love for home, and the knowledge of how frequently we have to leave it to find work somewhere else.”

Twenty-one year old Kate Beaton must leave her beloved Cape Breton in order to pay off her university student loans. It is 2005, and she decides to go to where everybody is going: the booming oil sands of Northern Alberta. Although it may be the place to make money, it comes with a load of trauma attached to it, including mental health issues, gendered violence, and environmental problems.
The graphic novel is Beaton’s memoir of her time in the “liminal space” of the work camps. The black and white drawings complement the often bleak mood of the novel. Yet, though the novel tackles some serious issues, such as Indigenous land rights, and may seem like it would be a downer, there are sparks of joy, such as the kindness of certain people, seeing the northern lights, and friendly work allies. You also know that Beaton gets out and goes on to do something that she loves, which makes reading it more bearable.
This is Beaton’s story of her time in the work camps in Alberta. There are people who would disagree with her interpretation, and in fact that is touched upon in some of the drawings.
The graphic novel is being defended by Jeopardy! champion Mattea Roach for “Canada Reads”.
You may not be a lover of graphic novels, but this layered and complex story might change your mind.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023: “I’d Rather Be Reading: a library of art for book lovers”

‘“Fast” entertainment, consumed mindlessly as we slump on the couch or do our morning commute, pickled our brains—and our souls. That’s why I am calling for a Slow Books Movement.” Maura Kelly

Maura Kelly’s essay called “A Slow Books Manifesto” is one of four essays contained in “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Guinevere de la Mare, and it is my favourite one. Originally printed in The Atlantic, Kelly writes about the benefits of people reading literary books, and she has the evidence to back it up. In these days of sound bites and click bait, I’d agree that there should not just be a concentration on a slow food movement, but the “slow” philosophy should be expanded into the intellectual sphere.
The whole book is a quick read. Besides the essays—the other three are written by de la Mare, Ann Patchett, and Gretchen Rubin—there are quotes, poems, and pictures dedicated to books and reading.
The category of this book is “The Arts”.
This is a book you’ll want to settle into on a lazy—slow—afternoon.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees March 2023—From Passages to Berani

It’s been a while since I’ve done #6Degrees, hosted by Katie of booksaremyfavouriteandbest, but I am intrigued by the first book and was hoping participating in this month’s challenge would give me a push to read it for the challenge. Alas, it is not in my library, and so far I have come up empty handed in thrift shops. So onto my TBR list it goes. The book is called “Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life” by Gail Sheehy.

From Goodreads:

“At last, this is your story. You’ll recognize yourself, your friends, and your loves. You’ll see how to use each life crisis as an opportunity for creative change — to grow to your full potential. Gail Sheehy’s brilliant road map of adult life shows the inevitable personality and sexual changes we go through in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.”

“The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause” by Susan P. Mattern
Reading the blurb about “Passages” reminded me that I have this book on my TBR list.
I and many of my friends are experiencing menopause or perimenopause, an important passage in life, so I am looking for some insight.

From Goodreads:

“For most of human history, people had no word for menopause and did not view it as a medical condition. Rather, in traditional foraging and agrarian societies, it was a transition to another important life stage. This book, then, introduces new ways of understanding life beyond fertility. Mattern examines the fascinating Grandmother Hypothesis–which argues for the importance of elders in the rearing of future generations–as well as other evolutionary theories that have generated surprising insights about menopause and the place of older people in society.”

“Bina: a novel in warnings” by Ankara Schofield
Though the main character of this novel—Bina (prounounced Bye-na)—is not a grandmother, she does have a “sorta son” called Eddie. Bina is in her 70s, and she tells her story in a series of jottings on the back of utility bills and used envelopes, and so the story is disjointed, sometimes hard to follow, yet it did keep me reading. So many questions to answer. How did Eddie become her “sorta son”? Who is the Tall Man? What did her best friend Phil ask her to do? Most importantly, what has Bina done to get her into so much trouble?

“Ducks” by Kate Beaton
On the other end of the age spectrum is Katie, who is only 22 and has left Cape Breton to work in Alberta’s Oil Sands where the men far outnumber the women. The story explores the gendered violence, mental health consequences, and indigenous land claims related to the Oil Sands work camps, a place, which is “…a uniquely capsuled-off society, a liminal space…” This graphic novel memoir is at times difficult to read—although there are sparks of joy—but it is eye opening, and it does not surprise me that it is one of the finalists of “Canada Reads 2023”.

“Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting” by Brian Gordon
In this graphic novel, the main characters are actually ducks. Gordon had me laughing out loud as I recognized my parental self about ten years ago in many of the drawings. Too bad I didn’t read this book back then.

Cat’s Café by Matt Tarpley
There is a duck in Cat’s Café, but the duck is only one of a large cast of characters. Cat’s Café is a place where the local animals come to unwind. Other characters include an anxious rabbit, a coffee loving penguin, and an energetic kiwi, and there are lots of opportunities for a chuckle and/or an “Awwww, cute”. I found the graphic novel to be simply charming and it had me smiling throughout the whole book. Tarpley explores mental health issues very sensitively. Here’s another example drawing called “Waves of Life”.

“Berani” by Michelle Kadarusman
Admittedly there are no orangutans in the previous book, but an orangutan is an animal, so I am going to make that (maybe rather loose) connection here. Kadarusman is a Governor General’s award finalist, and this is the second book of hers that I have read that I have really enjoyed. Yes, the main characters are two seventh graders and an orangutan, but I learned a lot about Indonesia. Kadarusman lived for many years in her father’s homeland of Indonesia, and the story is based on an incident that happened to her brother. The surprise ending had me bawling!

There were a lot of twists and turns in this passage, and I don’t see much of a connection between the first and last book, but I had a blast creating it, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Maybe you’ll find something that piques your interest too.

Next month the starting book will be “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Free Verse Friday, March 2023

This month the theme of our Free Verse Friday is Green.
Here in my corner of southern Ontario it has been unusually green most of the winter. When the snow does come, it tends to come in very lion like, like it did a couple of weeks ago. Schools were closed on the next day, and when I ventured out later in the day, I could see why: I couldn’t even shovel the driveway or sidewalk, as it was pure ice! Buses were again cancelled on Tuesday this week. Today we are scheduled for yet another big snow dump.
This month I have decided to do a persona poem. I became intrigued with persona poems when I sat in on a webinar held by Vocamus Writers Community. Persona poems are poems written from the point of view of someone else or something else. I have been practicing them, always from the point of view from an object. A couple of good examples are “Katrina” by Patricia Smith, written from the point of view of a hurricane, and “The Hawthorn Tree” by Louise Glück, written from the point of view of the tree.
For my persona poem, I was inspired by these pictures to write from the point of view of grass.


Winter marches in, swishing a white cape over us
Lulling us into a long sleep
We are warm and cozy under this snowy blanket
Though the cover is chilly, we are protected from gusts and gales
Until the day when Spring tiptoes in with a green cape
Releasing us from our slumber to see the sun again
The white withdraws, the green advances
Securing the soil for another season

If you know of any good persona poem books, please do let me know.
I hope that you will join Bev and me by writing a green themed poem. Also, please do stop by Bev’s blog to read her poem.
The next three months we will be having these themes:
I hope to see at least one of your poems in the upcoming months.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

WOW Blog Tour for “Hope and Fortune”: Book Review

In the fairy tale “Hope and Fortune” by Marissa Bãnez, Esperanza (Spanish for Hope) chases a beautiful butterfly into the Fabled Fairy Forest and gets lost. Golden Tree advises Esperanza to go deeper into the forest and ask the twelve fairies for advice. Esperanza visits each fairy, and they give the child some life advice in the form of rhyme.
Although the story does have an arc—child gets lost, finds help, then finds her way—the book is more a collection of poems with advice to help guide a child through life. Having said that, these poems are presented in a gentle and nonthreatening way.
There is much to love in this book. First of all, the fairies represent different genders, generations, and cultures. Second of all, the book is multilayered with lots of symbolism to unpack. For example, many of the fairies are accompanied by “spirit animals”, e.g., The Fortune Fairy of Confidence has a leopard. As well, the colours often are symbolic and some fairies have symbolic clothes. Finally, some Fairies give a nod to different cultural icons, such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Bãnez hopes that the layers in the book will springboard into further discussions.
The pictures are beautiful and a fantastic complement to the story. My favourite fairies are the Fortune Fairy of Strength and Courage, represented by an Asian warrior, the Fortune Fairy of Imagination, represented by a head scarf wearing Muslim, and The Fortune Fairy of Beauty, represented by a heart radiating energy.
Bãnez hopes that the book will grow with a child, and I can see that happening, as each reading would allow the child—and adult—to discover a different aspect, whether in the text or pictures. This book is one that invites you to read it many times.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Be sure to check out the other stops in this tour.

Purchase a copy of Hope and Fortune on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author

A first-generation immigrant to the U.S. from the Philippines, Marissa Bañez is a graduate of Princeton University and a lawyer licensed to practice in New York, California, and New Jersey. She has published legal articles for the prestigious New York Law Journal and the American Bar Association, but her true passion is in her children’s stories. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, whose childhood was filled with many original stories and puppet shows made up entirely by her mom. In her free time, Marissa likes to travel, design and make clothes, cook, binge-watch Star Trek shows and Korean dramas, and occasionally strum a guitar.

She is currently working on her second book, Hues and Harmony (How the Singing Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors), a story about mixed or multiracial children, self-discovery, and respect for others as told through the life and adventures of a caterpillar. It is scheduled for publication on July 20, 2023.

You can find her online:


Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

One Word: February 2023 Update

One thing I have noticed is that I now am writing an Abundance of words; I am writing almost every day. Yay!

One project I have started is based on persona poems, which are poems written from the point of view of someone else or something else. I attended a free webinar held by a local writing group called Vocamus Writers Community, which introduced me to the form. The facilitator noted that you could write a “memoirish” book using these types of poems, and that got me thinking. I thought maybe that I could approach some of the traumas in my life—chronic illness, parental death, bullying—from the point of view of another eye looking at the scene. So far I find it’s been helping. I’ll have to try an Abundance poem from the point of view of something too.

This month, Lisa Notes had a few suggestions for what we could do to incorporate our word of the year into our lives. There are a couple that I really thought were a good idea, so I followed up on them.

  1. Listen for a song.

When I googled “songs for abundance”, surprisingly I came across the suggestion of “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles. Yes, it’s a good reminder that money cannot buy everything.

  1. Find a poem.

I really like the poem “Abundance” by Amy Schmidt, written in memory of Mary Oliver.

I also thought that I could write an acrostic poem, and I am working on that.

Finally, I came across this invitation to listen to a podcast called “How Your Ancestors Impact Your Abundance” with Linda Fitch. Recently I have been hearing about how much your ancestors can impact you and your life choices and directions. Epigenetics is fascinating!

So how’s it going with your word of the year?

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023: Book Review of “How to Make a Plant Love You”

Having studied horticulture and also believing in the healing power of plants—I am a member of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association, though not accredited—I am always on the look out for plant related books, especially ones with a unique angle. So when I read about eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes in Ingrid Fetell Lee’s “Joyful”—my favourite nonfiction read in 2022—I knew I had to read Oakes’ book.

There’s lots in this book I had learned before, but there were several practical exercises with a unique angle that I loved. For example, have you ever considered going on a “plant date”? That is, get to know your plant before you take the plant home. Where is the plant from? What are the plant’s needs? Is your plant high maintenance and does that suit you? As the author notes, “Developing a mind-set that encourages us to care for the needs of our plants will allow us to experience ‘plant love’ instead of ‘plant lust’.”
This book could fall into the category of either science, with all of its descriptions of how to take care of plants, or health, with all of the examples of benefits of taking care of plants.
If you are considering getting your first plant, or if you have a stash of plants that is not flourishing, I recommend you read this book to get a holistic view of adding plants to your indoor space. Recommended also to those who are interested in the health benefits of having plants.
What about you? Do you have a plant related book that you can recommend?

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023: Book Review of “Keep Moving”

The second book I am reviewing for the Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2023 is “Keep Moving”, which is a book of quotes and essays written by Maggie Smith, an award winning poet who has written poems such as “Good Bones”. The book was written after her divorce and deals with her grief and beginnings in her new life. Smith also writes about her children, two surviving and two not.
The book is divided into three parts: Revision, Resilience, and Transformation. Every quote ends with the phrase “Keep Moving”. A lot of quotes resonated with me, but I will leave you with two:

“Ask yourself what part of you is holding on to pain because it is familiar, because letting go would require you to do something different, to fill that space…”

I’m trying to shift out of the same pain stories that I keep telling myself.


“Revise the story you tell yourself about failure. Consider yourself an apprentice in the world. Learn all you can. Gain experience. KEEP MOVING.”

I like the thought of being an apprentice in this world.

This is a book you can pick up again and again for some inspiration.

The book is part memoir, part poetry (the arts).

What’s moving you these days?

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Free Verse Friday—February 2023

Has it already been a month since our first Free Verse Friday? Wow!
This month’s theme is “Winter”. Winter started late here in my corner of southern Ontario, but now that winter is here, it’s come with a blast! This morning I took a walk in -18 degree Celsius weather! At least we are seeing more sun.
For this challenge I used this picture for inspiration. The decoration hangs in my front yard, usually only for Christmas, but this year I have left it out longer.

I have done three variations of my poem.


Winter, the time when
the whole world wears a toque
Trees, bushes, even
decorations take part
in this ritual, making
winter festive and thus more
bearable although…
Bears do hibernate…

This one I tried to use a syllable structure, loosely basing it on a tanka poem. I got the comment that it was choppy, so I tried the next structure to see if it improved anything.

Winter, the time when the whole world wears a toque
Trees, bushes, even decorations take part in this ritual,
Making winter festive and thus more bearable although…
Bears do hibernate…

Then it seemed that the funny twist at the end didn’t appeal to all, so I tried it without.

Winter, the time when the whole world wears a toque
Trees, bushes, even decorations take part in this ritual,
Making winter festive and thus more bearable

So what do you think? Which poem do you like best?

Don’t forget to head over to Bev’s blog to read her poem. And feel free to leave yours in the comment section.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler