Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy" by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

When I think about the term "Southern," lots of things come to mind - etiquette, comfort food, funny accents, big hair…and a few things I can't quite wrap my head around like Nascar. So when I heard about the book Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, I knew I had to pick it up and see if I could understand Southerners a bit better.

Using principles from the "Belle Doctrine" Tomlinson covers a wide range of topics such as fitness, men, time management, manners, politics, holidays and regional differences. Included amongst the observations and advice are Southern recipes and anecdotes from readers about growing up Southern. Right from the start this book screams "go-to book on all things Southern."

This is a follow-up to Tomlinson's best-selling book Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On! but the book does stand alone so you don't have to have read the first one. Though I'm sure you'll want to once you've finished with this book.

I will admit that some of this book was hard for me to get into. I loved the personal stories and many had me laughing out loud. But there was quite a bit that I just didn't get. I justified this during my reading in that I just don't have much knowledge of the American South and therefore just wouldn't get why some things are funny. I likened it to a non-Canadian reading a book about us and our crazy ways. I mean, if you don't know what Tim Hortons is you just wouldn't understand why we consider a doughnut shop to be a national institution.

So I will say that if you are Southern, have spent time in the South or just happen to know a lot of people from there you will find this book hilarious, and you'll be laughing and nodding your head the whole way through. If you aren't from the South then you may not have the same experience with the book.

But no matter where you are from, there are a lot of lessons that can be taken from this book. One thing those Southerners sure can do is point out the absurdities of this world and teach you how to behave with a little bit of dignity in this crazy world we live in.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save Toronto's Public Libraries

For those of you who live in Toronto or the surrounding areas, you'll probably already know about this. For those of you who don't live near Toronto but love books, you'll want to hear about this.

Our new mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, rode into office on a thrilling platform that promised to "cut the gravy" at City Hall without cutting services. Here we are only a few months after the election and up on the chopping block are our public libraries. Apparently Rob Ford sees them as more of a financial burden than an essential community service.

His brother, Councillor Doug Ford, also seems to think public libraries aren't very important. He stated that in his area of the city, there are more public libraries than Tim Hortons. Anyone who lives in Toronto can point you to an area in the city where there is a Tim Hortons across the street from a Tim Hortons and knows this statement is obviously false.

Some options at City Hall right now are to either privatize the library system or to close branches. For however many dollars this saves the City, there will be many more people who suffer.

My library

Let me tell you about my local branch. It is situated in a planned community built to house 12,500 people but currently houses more than 30,000 in 2.2 sq kilometres of space. The local public school is the largest in North America with 1900 students between Junior Kindergarten and grade 5 as a quarter of the population is under the age of 14.

Our neighbourhood has one park, one community centre, one set of soccer fields, one outdoor pool and one library situated among high-rise buildings. It is crowded, it is stressed, and kids play in parking lots because that is the only space available for them. The library is one of the few safe places kids can go.

In my neighbourhood, over half of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Seven percent of the population cannot speak English at all. 68 percent of the population are immigrants. Do I need to point out how useful the library is for these people? Our library plays a central role in our community where families can borrow books, learn English, receive settlement services, look for jobs, use computers, watch movies, and more. Can you imagine what this neighbourhood would be like if we lost our library, or if it became privatized? I don't want to think about.

What can you do?

Go to and sign the petition if you live in Toronto. Spread the word. Let city council know that we love our libraries and won't stand for them being cut. Tell Rob Ford to go find the gravy elsewhere.

If you don't live in Toronto, aren't Canadian, you can still show your support by spreading the word and making sure that this doesn't happen in your own city. Support your local libraries.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Money Can't Buy Love" by Connie Briscoe

How would five million dollars change your life? Would it solve all of your problems? If your answer is yes, don't be so sure.

Thirty-eight-year-old Lenora Stone is a successful photographer for the glossy magazine Baltimore Scene. But Lenora wishes that she could be socializing with Baltimore's A-list rather than photographing them. But with overdue bills, car trouble, a demanding boss and a boyfriend of three years who doesn't seem to want to propose, her life is far from glamorous.

When Lenora wins the jackpot Maryland lottery it seems that all her dreams may be finally be in reach. She has traded in her brokedown Honda for a brand new BMW and she has upgraded from a tiny condo to a million-dollar mansion. Her boyfriend has proposed, she has quit her job and the city's most exclusive women's group has offered her a membership.

But soon Lenora finds that money doesn't always bring happiness. Her old friends are concerned about her sudden changes and don't speak to her much anymore. A sexy, young landscaper has come into Lenora's life and she can't resist his advances. Soon, Lenora realizes that the money she has won may not stretch far enough.

Money Can't Buy Love by Connie Briscoe is a fantastic summer read. It is quick, fresh and easy to get caught up in. I'm sure many of us have thought what we would do if we won the lottery, but I bet we don't think about how the money would change us in ways other than financially. Lenora Stone is a believable character, easy to relate to and though she makes mistakes you still pull for things to turn out well for her in the end.

Reading this book makes you understand why many people who win the lottery are broke only a few years later. It gives great insight to the emotions that come along with the large sums of money. Briscoe has written an honest and realistic book that is fun and fabulous.

This book proves that money can't buy love and happiness but it is still fun to dream about winning the lottery. Connie Briscoe is a fantastic writer and I definitely will be looking for her other books. If you're searching for a delicious summer read, pick up Money Can't Buy Love.

About the Author

Connie Briscoe has been a full-time published author for more than 17 years. Her work has hit the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

Visit her online at