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Showing posts from April, 2010

April In Review

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April was a fantastic month for reading! My neighbourhood library branch re-opened after being closed for 2 years for renovations. It's beautiful. There is a huge interactive kids space which my little ones absolutely love and now it's only a two minute walk for me to get books. Perfect! We've been spending a lot of time there, and of course I'm coming home with more books than I can possibly read.
I have challenged myself to read more Canadian literature and this month I read four great books including Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay (winner of the Giller Prize in 2007) and What We All Long For by Dionne Brand. The other two books stood out as exceptional - The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and More by Austin Clarke.
After reading a lot of (great) serious stuff, I returned to my first love - British chick lit! I love a lot of chick lit but for some reason, the British stuff is the best to me! I read The Personal Shopper by Carmen Reid, which has been …

"More" by Austin Clarke

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Idora Morrison, an immigrant from Barbados, has lived in Toronto for 25 years.After her deadbeat husband left for America, she struggled to make ends meet for herself and her son BJ.But now, Idora has discovered that BJ has disappeared into a life of gangs and crime.For four days and nights, Idora remains hidden away in her rented basement apartment, trying to figure out how all of her best intentions have brought her to this tragic place.She recounts her most memorable moments, good and bad, as a black woman living in Canada.At the end of her self-imposed exile, she emerges with a newfound courage and perspective of her circumstances.More is a wonderfully written book that does not hold back on its criticism of the state of race and poverty in Canada.Austin Clarke challenges readers to see Toronto from a different perspective, what is often an invisible perspective to so many.Idora’s story is that of so many immigrant women to Toronto, who are striving to make their lives better for …

"Divanomics" by Michelle McKinney Hammond

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Michelle McKinney Hammond was a highly successful writer, co-host of an Emmy-winning talk show, appearing all over the world in magazines, on television and in person, living a fabulous life when suddenly she found herself broke and in debt. How did she get there? More importantly, how was she going to remain fabulous?
Many people from all walks of life are finding themselves in financial trouble. Whether it's from overspending, bad decisions or a loss of income, people are finding that they need to make changes in their life in order to gain financial stability. In Divanomics, Michelle McKinney Hammond shows that we don't need to give up our entire lives to get out of debt. Yes, it is possible to remain fabulous when you are broke.
Divanomics is a basic book about reducing debt aimed at women. Hammond does not pretend to be a financial expert, she is simply relaying what has worked for her and how she has managed to change and keep up her lifestyle to get herself financi…

"The Personal Shopper" by Carmen Reid

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Annie Valentine is a personal shopper at a swanky London store, styling and re-inventing some of the wealthiest women around town. As a busy single mum trying to make ends meet, she also sells used clothing on the internet, does at home wardrobe consultations and flips homes so she can keep her kids at their expensive private school. But all of this leaves little time for romance.
Since her husband left, Annie has had little time for dating but she is starting to feel a little lonely. So she embarks on a quest to find a man. Will she meet a man at Discerning Diners, London's exclusive dinner dating experience? What about Ed, her childrens slightly offbeat teacher? Or Gray, the handsome dentist she was introduced to by her mother? Or will she end up finding that the dating world just isn't for her?
The Personal Shopper is a fun, quick read. Combining shopping and romance is a smart idea and makes for a breezy read. If you are into chick lit this is definitely worth a rea…

Earth Day

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In 1970, the first Earth Day was the largest, organized citizen demonstration in U.S. history. 40 years later the importance of getting out the message is just as strong, if not stronger. As Christopher Hume wrote today in the Toronto Star, "To say that the planet must be saved is to state the obvious. But ultimately its fate isn't in our hands, it's more the other way around; our fate is in its hands. If it isn't healthy, neither are we."
In honour of Earth Day, here are some of my favourite green reads.
Going Green
David Suzuki's Green Guide - David Suzuki (2008) Ecoholic - Adria Vasil (2007) Go Green, Live Rich - David Bach (2008) The Story of Stuff - Annie Leonard (2010) Less Is More - Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska (2009) Slow Death by Rubber Duck - Rick Smith (2009)
Healthy Eating
Food Rules - Michael Pollan (2009) The Kind Diet - Alicia Silverstone (2009) Real Food - Nina Planck (2007) Food, Inc. - Karl Weber (2009) What to Eat - Marion Nestle (2007)
Green Dvd…

"The Twilight Gospel" by Dave Roberts

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The Twilight Saga has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world through books, movies and merchandise. But what is the Christian response to this? Is there one? Should there be one?
In The Twilight Gospel: The Spiritual Roots of Stephenie Meyer's Vampire Saga Robertsfinds that while the spirituality and worldview of the books are fascinating, they don't easily mesh with Christianity. His book helps the reader to discern what is healthy and unhealthy and to think more clearly about the many issues that arise in the books.
Roberts has certainly does his research for the book. He incorporates all of the books as well as the movies for the illustrations of his points. Even someone who hasn't read the books will still understand the points he is making. The book is well laid out, easy to follow and to the point. Roberts does not just focus on the negative aspects on the book, he also acknowledges and praises the positives. The book is a fair …

"Less Is More" edited by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska

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In his 1933 Thanksgiving Proclamation Franklin Roosevelt said "may we ask guidance in more surely learning the ancient truth that greed and selfishness and striving for undue riches can never bring lasting happiness or good to the individual or to his neighbours."
Less Is More is a book that embraces this ideal. It encourages people to live simply, to live with less so that they may have more. Voluntary Simplicity involves spending less so that you can work less and in turn spend more time with family and building your community. This is what leads to happiness, not material wealth.
The book is a collection of short essays by people involved in the Simplicity movement. The essays define simplicity, give solutions for the individual and discuss how policies need to be implemented at high levels to make a change. Voluntary Simplicity can not only bring individual happiness but help to create a healthy planet and a lasting economy.
The book is great at showing that everyone c…

"Late Nights On Air" by Elizabeth Hay

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In the summer of 1975, an eccentric group of characters make up a small radio station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Harry Boyd, the station manager, is back in the North after failing at television in Toronto. Dido Paris, the news reader, is an attraction and mystery to all. Eleanor Dew, the station secretary, is rediscovering herself as a Christian. Ralph Cody, the book critic, is a nature photographer in his spare time. Eddy Fitzgerald, the radio technician, has radical leanings and may possibly be involved in some suspicious activity around town. Gwen Symon, the amateur announcer, is the newcomer to the station having driven by herself from Toronto to Yellowknife in search of a job.
Their lives play out against the backdrop of daily life in the Northwest Territories, as well as the Mackenzie Pipeline Project Inquiry. Relationships form, and complications arise. Love, loss, jealousy and trust all play out in this book.
Harry, Eleanor, Gwen and Ralph decide to travel…

"Forget Me Knot" by Sue Margolis

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Abby Crompton is a successful florist who built her business from the ground up. Her fiance, Toby, is a high powered corporate lawyer with aristocratic roots. Since proposing a month ago, Toby has yet to give Abby a ring, is working late and has no time for romance.
On the night she is supposed to meet her future mother-in-law, Abby becomes trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger and a bottle of fine wine. Abby shares a few secrets that were best left to herself. After they emerge from the elevator, Abby is thankful she'll never see him again.
In the weeks following, Abby's personal life begins to unravel. She finds out Toby has been keeping a secret from her. Then, after agreeing to allow a film shoot at her shop, she discovers that the director is none other than the man from the elevator! Soon, her life begins to play out just like a romantic comedy.
Forget Me Knot is a fun, quick read and stays true to the chick lit genre. It's cute, it's predictable…

"Food, Inc." edited by Karl Weber

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If you saw the film Food, Inc., you know that our food industry is in a lot of trouble. We are getting fatter, sicker and poorer. The time for change is now, and we as consumers need to start that change.
The book Food, Inc. is a companion guide to the movie. You don't need to see the movie to read the book. And the book is definitely not just a repetition of what was in the movie. Rather it uses the movie as a starting point and delves deeper into the issues.
It is a collection of essays written by many experts who were featured in the film. Most were written for the book, some are reprints from other sources. Topics covered include the industrialization of our food supply, the benefits of local eating, how organic food is going mainstream, the global impact of food industrialization and how we can declare independence from industrial food.
There are many fabulous features to the book. After each essay there is a section that helps you as the reader learn what you can do on …

"Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World" by Dan Koeppel

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Who knew there was so much to the banana, that yellow fruit most of us put in our cart every time we go grocery shopping. It's sweet, the same size every week and always seedless. For many people around the world, it's what keeps them alive. But that same banana has been at the forefront of major developments throughout history, and now it faces an unsure future.
Ancient evidence suggests that the apple Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was actually a banana. In the early 20th century many nations in Central America had their entire fate rest in the banana. Wars were fought because of the banana. And for years, scientists have been searching for the perfect banana, one which won't succumb to the unstoppable diseases that have wiped out previous varieties of banana.
The book is a very interesting look at the history of the banana, the role that science has played in getting our current banana to the supermarket, and the role the banana has played in the development and hi…

"What We All Long For" by Dionne Brand

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A family is fleeing their home in 1970's Vietnam. As the three children and two parents board a boat that will take them to a refugee camp in Thailand, the six year old boy follows the wrong pair of legs onto another boat. Years later, the family has made a new life in Toronto but the memory of their son Quy haunts them every day.
In the summer of 2002, Quy's sister Tuyen is an aspiring artist trying to make it on her own in the city. She spends her days with her friends Carla, Jackie, and Oku, each trying to find their own way and living day to day. They try to hide their lives from their families, and their families from their lives but as they quickly learn that is not easy.
Tuyen's brother Binh spends his time trying to track down Quy, who is now a dangerous criminal in the Thai underworld. Their worlds collide in Toronto with unexpected results.
What We All Long For is beautifully written. The characters are well developed and the City of Toronto is a stunning ba…

"The Story of Stuff: by Annie Leonard

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We have too much Stuff. And that Stuff is destroying our environment. In the United States, just five per cent of the world's population is consuming 30 per cent of the world's resources and creating 30 per cent of the world's waste.
While walking down the street in New York City, Annie Leonard noticed all of the garbage piling up on the sidewalks and decided to follow exactly where this stuff went. Since then she has been following Stuff all around the world, through mines, factories and garbage dumps. What she has found has frightening repercussions for our world.
In The Story of Stuff, a book based on her internet film sensation of the same name, Leonard examines the five stages of our Stuff - extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal - and the effects it has having on our health, our homes and our environment.
The book really makes you think about where your Stuff comes from and what went into getting it into your home. Most of us don't reali…

"The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood

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In the near future, the world is run by corporations with names like HelthWyzer, ReJoove and SeksMart. Order is kept by the corrupt police force known as CorpSeCorps. Many of the animals we know now are extinct and the world is inhabited by new genetically engineered species such as Rakunks, Liobams and Mo'Hair sheep. Social and environmental stability are nearing an end.

Inhabiting this world, apart from mainstream society, is an eco-cult named God's Gardeners. Their beliefs combine religion and science, dedicating themselves to the preservation of plant and animal life. Their leader, Adam One, has long been predicting a natural disaster that will forever change life on earth. And now, it has occurred.
The Waterless Flood has wiped out most of human life on earth. But two women have survived. Ren and Toby are both God's Gardeners. As they search for other survivors, they navigate through a changed world and begin a new life as a part of a new human race.
The Year…