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Showing posts from April, 2015

Month In Review

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This month I fell into a bit of a reading slump. And because of that, I thought I didn't get much reading done until I started writing this post and realized that I didn't do so bad.  That is all thanks to a reading sprint at the beginning of the month and one at the end.  Here are the books I read this month with their GoodReads ratings:

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison *****
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed *****
Dreaming of Elsewhere by Esi Edugyan *****
Adventures in Saying Yes by Carl Medearis ****
The Mother and Child Project by Kay Warren ****
The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond ****
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen ****
AsapSCIENCE by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown ****

Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge (3), Diversity on the Shelf (3)

What I'm Looking Forward to in May

 I decided that for the month of May I will be reading only from books I already own.  I was never one to have a very big physical TBR pile, I would always read books as soon as I bought t…

Month in Review: Non-Bookish Things

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April was a weird month for me.  Not a lot of reading, not a lot of watching or listening either.  What was I doing?  Well, here are the few non-bookish things I was doing.
Watching
Television
Now that baseball season is in full swing, I’ve been watching less television shows and the Toronto Blue Jays every single day.  Not a bad thing, though I tell you, they put my nerves through something fierce.
I am currently watching Broadchurch.  I’ve just finished season 1 and have moved on to season 2.  This is an incredible show and if you like dramas, I highly recommend it.  As you’ll have noticed if you read this column each month, I watch mostly British television.  And up until recently, it’s always been comedy because I prefer their brand of comedy.  I can’t explain why, but I didn’t think I’d enjoy the dramas as much.  Boy was I wrong.  Between Broadchurch, Happy Valley, and Scott & Bailey, I’m hooked.
I also just discovered Virtually Famous, a panel show about internet videos. So I…

"My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season" by Sarah Britton

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Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Practitioner Sarah Britton has been blogging about healthy, whole foods on her blog, My New Roots, since 2007.  She has been inspiring others to make delicious, simple plant-based eating and now she is bringing 100 all-new recipes to her first cookbook, My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season.
The book is divided into 5 sections: Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter with, as you can guess, beautiful recipes crafted for foods that are at their peak.  The photos in the book are absolutely stunning and will have your mouth watering.  Sarah also shares her own journey to plant-based eating, includes essential techniques, and gives tips for stocking your pantry.
On my first go-through of this book, I picked out three recipes to try that I knew were easy enough for me and new to my recipe collection:
Sprouted Wild Rice with Pistachios and Spring Vegetables - I loved this recipe. I really liked the combinati…

"God Help the Child" by Toni Morrison

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Bride is a stunning woman, a woman with blue-black skin always dressed in white.  Everywhere she goes she turns heads.  Everyone is amazed by her beauty and her confidence.  But her looks haven’t always been a source of pride in her life.  Bride’s light-skinned mother saw her dark skin as a detriment and because of this, she withheld her love and any affection from her.  So when she was a child, in order to earn her mothers love, Bride told a lie that ruined an innocent woman.  
Booker is the man that Bride loves, but he has walked out on their relationship.  There is an anger that he can’t shake and a decision that Bride has made it even worse.  As an adult, he continues to deal with the trauma of the murder of his brother when they were children.  When Bride goes looking for Booker, trying to get answers about the end of their relationship, they are both forced to face the lingering effects of their childhood and how much has been carried into their adult lives.
God Help the Child, …

"Written in the Stars" by Aisha Saeed

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Naila Rahman has grown up with conservative immigrant parents who have always allowed her the freedom to make her own decisions in all areas except for one - marriage.  As is their cultural tradition, Naila will have an arranged marriage, her parents choosing her husband for her.  
While Naila has always been the perfect daughter, doing well in school and being respectful of her parents, she is hiding one secret from them that will change her life forever if it gets out.  Naila is in love with Saif, a boy at school.  And though Saif is from the same background as she is, her parents will never allow the relationship.
When they do find out about Saif, their anger at Naila can’t be contained.  Convinced that she has turned her back on everything they have taught her, they take her on a trip back home to Pakistan.  But this isn’t a vacation for Naila and her family.  They are going there to find her a husband and if they do, Naila will not return to America.  
Will Naila be able to esca…

"AsapSCIENCE" by Mitchell Moffitt and Greg Brown

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What would happened if you stop sleeping?  Are long naps or power naps better?  Is television binge-watching bad for us? (I don’t think I want to know the answer to that one.)  These are the questions that were never answered in science class, but apply much more to our lives than many of the things we did learn.  
From the creators of the popular scientific YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, comes a new book that will answer all of your most pressing science questions.  AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World’s Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena, by Mitchell Moffitt and Greg Brown, is a hilarious and fascinating book that explains the true science behind our world.
This is a great, engaging book that makes the science behind everyday life fun and easy to understand.  Moffitt and Brown write with ease and humour, accompanied by fantastic illustrations, on a wide range of topics from brain freeze to sleep.  Nothing is off limits, even sex.
I had actually never w…

"At the Water's Edge" by Sara Gruen

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After embarrassing themselves at a New Year’s Eve event for members of Philadelphia’s high society, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are financially cut off by his father and left completely on their own.  Ellis has already disappointed his father, a former army Colonel, by not being able to serve in WWII due to his colourblindness.  There is only one way he can think of regaining his favour - to hunt down the famous Loch Ness monster, a feat his father attempted but failed to do.
But it is 1942 and a war rages on overseas.  This won’t stop Ellis though, and along with their friend Hank, they set off for Scotland.    While Ellis and Hank spend their days hunting the monster, Maddie is left on her own back at the inn.  As she tries to adapt to a new country and a new station in life, she begins to figure out that her life isn’t what she thought it is.  As her eyes are opened to the world around her, she discovers a strength she didn’t know she had and a brand new kind of love.
At the Water’s Edge…

"The Year of Taking Chances" by Lucy Diamond

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In a small English village on New Year's Eve, three strangers form a bond that will change their lives forever.
Gemma’s life is centred around her two children, something that lately has been getting her down.  She wishes that her husband and children would view her as more than “just a mom.”
Caitlin is in town to pack up her recently deceased mother’s house and figure out what she should do with her life.  Fresh off of the bad break-up of a bad relationship, she feels heartbroken and lost. 
Saffron is a PR executive who is keeping a secret from everyone she knows.  She knows that when she reveals it, people around her will be devastated.  
At the New Year’s Eve party, the three women bond over cocktails and fortune cookies and vow that the coming year will be their best one yet.  But very quickly, their lives take shocking turns and each has to deal with drastic changes in love, work, and home.  Will they succumb to the pressure or will they remember their New Year’s vow and fin…

"Funny Girl" by Nick Hornby

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In 1960’s England, 18-year-old Barbara wins a local beauty pageant in Blackpool.  But spending a year as a small-town beauty queen isn’t want she wants.  She’s dreaming of stardom and wanting to follow in the footsteps of the incredible Lucille Ball.  So she sets off for London where she starts out as a salesgirl and ends up a television star.  But real life never plays out the way it does on television, and along with her friends and workmates Tony, Bill, Dennis, and Clive, Sophie experiences the highs and lows of stardom and breaking television barriers.
Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby, is an humorous novel about a colourful cast of characters in the early days of television.  Fans of Lucille Ball and British humour will be wonderfully entertained.
Nick Hornby is one of those authors who I must read every book they release as soon as it is released.  He is also one of those authors who I love everything they put out.  And yet, if you ask me to tell you what his previous books are about, …

"Fire and Air" by Erik Vlaminck, translated by Paul Vincent

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Ten-year-old Elly Verkest is a first-generation Canadian born after the Second World War.  Her father, Gaston, is Belgian and her mother, Mina, is Dutch.  Growing up in Southern Ontario, in a small town filled with Dutch and Belgians, she is carving out her own unique Canadian identity.
Her father raises pigeons and often travels back to Belgium for business.  But he doesn’t return from one of his trips.  As Elly and Mina struggle to build a new life without him, their relationship becomes strained and they grow apart.  As a young adult, Elly decides to travel to Belgium in search of her father, and is shocked at what she discovers.  
Elly returns to Canada, pregnant by a man she met while in Antwerp.  When her daughter Linda is grown up, she develops a close relationship with Mina, much to the dismay of her mother.  And as this relationship develops, the family secrets spill out.
Fire and Air, by Erik Vlaminck and translated by Paul Vincent, is a novel about a family that flees their…

"Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home" by Esi Edugyan

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“But where are you from, really?”
This is a question that Canadians of all walks of life are often asked.  Part of our identity as Canadians is that we all come from somewhere else, and no matter how long ago, it is a defining part of who we are.  
But for many people, this question is about more than where their family came to Canada from.  For many, it brings about a question of home and belonging.  These are the ideas that Esi Edugyan explored in her 2013 Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture, Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home.  Born in Canada to parents from Ghana, Esi Edugyan has travelled to and lived in various countries, all the while searching for her identity and coming to understand the meaning of home.
As an author, Edugyan also reflects on Canadian literature and the notion of the “Canadian story.”  Her wildly successful novel, Half-Blood Blues, was set outside of Canada, and something she often heard was that it was not a typical Canadian novel.  But as Edugyan point…

"The Gallery of Lost Species" by Nina Berkhout

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Edith grew up in the shadow of her older sister Vivienne, a beautiful girl forced into child pageants by their overbearing mother Constance.  Edith instead followed in the footsteps of their father Henry who collected oddities, finding her solace and peace in reading moldy old books.  But it was a family trip to the Rocky Mountains that changed their relationship forever.
After meeting a handsome geology student named Liam, the girls returned home to new lives.  Vivienne rebelled against their mother, refusing to enter pageants and turning to drugs.  Edith took it upon herself to save her sister, but the love that both girls shared for Liam comes between them.
As they become adults, their lives take them in two different directions.  Viv moves out West to become a painter but her addiction takes over her life.  Edith takes a job at the National Gallery of Canada, where she meets Theo, a retired cryptozoologist.   But when both Vivienne and Liam reappear in Edith’s life, her world bec…