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Showing posts from 2017

The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age by Andrew O’Hagan

Looking for a book to kick off 2018? There’s Andrew O’Hagan’s “The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age” for timeliness and relevance.

The end of one year and the beginning of another prompts reflection of what was, introspection of what is, and resolutions for what may come, and this is no less true than the seeing out of 2017 and the welcoming of 2018. 

To that end, there were a number of topics which were top of mind as 2017 came and went: the proliferation of so-called “fake news” supported by algorithms know as trolls and bots; the rise of Donald Trump aided by foreign involvement mirroring the fall of Hillary Clinton coinciding with WikiLeaks disclosures; and the mania of bitcoin as it became a household name and the cryptocurrency reached dizzying valuations on the back of speculators’ FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”).

All of these narratives fit hand in glove with Andrew O’Hagan’s book. 

O’Hagan takes the craft of writing seriously, as his accomplished bio shows, and he …

The Martian is back (well sorta) ☾☽

Andy Weir is back with a new space-inspired novel: Artemis. No one can forget, his previous best-selling novel, The Martian, which was adapted into the blockbuster motion picture that featured Matt Damon stranded on The Red Planet. 

I thought The Martian was great. The book was slow and steady, and in doing so was able to accurately capture the feeling of being isolated in space. Growing potatoes, figuring out a way to reuse the water and was methodological plan put into place with one man with no resources. Yes, it was a plausible narrative. 

Artemis, is different. The characters are different. It's more of a fast-action narrative featuring a smart, young millennial called Jazz Bashara who lives on the first city on the moon. She's a bit of a rebel, loves to have a good time and also estranged from her devout Muslim father. Working as a porter, to support herself, she's constantly struggling to just get by. Jazz doesn't always follow the rules, but always …

🎼 Music to my ears (especially at this time of the year)

Rachel Joyce has a style of writing that fans adore. With a simplicity in her storytelling, she's able to touch hearts better than any AI tool can. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me bring you up to speed. The latest artificial intelligence news cited that AI is that it is learning how to make you cry at the movies. Read more.) But back to Rachel Joyce's storytelling. 

Rachel Joyce is already a bestselling author, well known for books like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. Her latest entry "The Music Shop", Joyce attempts to bring music into our hearts, as she takes us on a delightful interlude that will enrich our minds about our favourite musical masters, from Bach's Double Violin Concerto to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Did you know, for example, that even though it's common knowledge that while Haydn and Mozart were the maestros who really cracked the sonata, it was Beethoven who reinvented it? Just as he reinve…

Bring on the painters and poets 🎶

A few weeks ago, Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" painting sold for a record $450 million dollars. The sale of this Da Vinci painting was the talk of the art world, but the sticker price was definitely a conversation topic for weeks after. So, what was so incredibly special about this single panel (damaged) painting that earned it the title of the highest price paid at an auction? 

The answer could be any number of reasons. Perhaps one was that the buyer, Saudi Arabian prince Bader bin Abdullah, was an ardent Leonardo da Vinci fan effectively swept away by the marketing campaign by Droga5 that referred to the painting as "the male 'Mona Lisa'", thus cashing in on the emotional connection of one of the most iconic art pieces in the world. 

As you have garnered by now, I'm obsessed with art. A self-professed art-a-holic, I have never miss an opportunity to head to an art gallery in a city. My travels have taken me as far as the The Art Institute of …

On the first day of Christmas

Inspired by the famous traditional Christmas carol, The Twelve Days Of Christmas, Joshua Seigal's book Morris Wants More...For Christmas, is imaginative and entertaining. Kids will love the buildup of excitement as they anticipate what little Morris will get for each of the twelve days of Christmas. 

Meet Prince Moris, rich kid, who has everything he could possibly imagine. It's no wonder that on the first day of Christmas he expects a gift that is huge. His parents always get him whatever he wants, and the spoilt kid is going to make sure that they get the best present ever.

From day one, to day day 12, Moris is unappreciative of the gifts he gets, each time demanding a bigger and bigger gift. His parents oblige, since they don't like to see their little "sweet" prince disappointed. 

But there is sweet justice in the end. And to all kids everywhere, it's a reminder to be grateful for what you have.

An unusual Christmas story. But an important lesson for…

Life is a beautiful mystery (or two)

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.
Two mystery books to recommend over the holidays...

The Man In The Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

The Washington Post refers to Dolan as a writer who has a "talent for ingenious, serpentine plots". 

It's been two years since private eye Jack Pellum's wife Olivia was murdered. Jack is an ex-cox and his eye is on the murderer, who he believes is someone he saw a few days ago in the neighbourhood...the man with a fedora hat. There are some leads. Danny Cavanaugh recently hanged himself (after his wife was killed) left a suicide note: There's a killer, and he wears a crooked hat. 

Is there a connection between the murders? Serial killers usually have a common thread of behaviour. There usually is a motive. These crimes seem to be unrelated, but there are murders that go back at least 20 years. How can Jack Pellum get to the bottom of this mystery and …

From Winning the Pulitzer to The Fresh Complaint

What is it about complaining that feels so good? 

This is one of the themes that Jeffrey Eugenides tackles in his book of short stories, Fresh Complaint. It is the first collection of short fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. 

A retrospective collection of 10 stories, Jeffrey Eugenides is able to use his astute talent for observation and pull us into the world of the characters. I enjoyed the first one called "Complainers". It's about two women who are friends. Della is 88, and resides in an assisted-living facility. She is suffering from dementia. Her friend Cathy brings her one of her favourite books wrapped in exquisite style, but she notices that her friend doesn't really notice the book once she opens it. 

The story goes back and forth, recounting their lives and their support of each other through the years as they manoeuvre through divorce, meddling husbands, and the inevitability of getting old. 

I enjoy short stories, and this one will be on my books…

The Illustrated Mahabharata - The Definitive Guide to India's Greatest Epic (DK Books)

To label The Mahabharata as "India's Greatest Epic" is, in the opinion of your humble scribe, the personification of understatement. Once one distills the elements of this magnum opus into its essential elements -- something that can unarguably take years if not a lifetime -- there is still much to learn and mull over. Having said this, the masterful DK (Dorling Kindersley) rendition, expertly penned and contributed by none other than Devdutt Pattnaik and Bibek Debroy is an evident labour of love and devotion thanks to the DK India team that put it together. It is a brilliant effort and acknowledged as such by in this article: How a 15-member team produced a lush visual version of the ‘Mahabharata’.

My first experience with the book came in an abridged format made for kids. I was 10 years of age and the illustrated book was gifted to me during a visit to India. Subsequent generations of Indian children have read similar versions in comic book format under the Am…

The Secret Sauce Of Subban Success

Truth be told, I'm not a sports fanatic. I watch sports on occasion, if there's a world cup or Olympics. But even I know P.K. Subban. The moment I watched him in an interview, I was in awe of a superstar who carried himself with such humility. I was struck by his eloquence, and admired this incredibly successful well-rounded player, who at such a young age seemingly had achieved such greatness. 

The interview also featured the entire Subban family. And I was further in awe of the success that this family collectively had achieved. Did you know his other two brothers have also been drafted to the NHL? Inspiring. How could one family raise such incredible children? At the time I wondered about this, but the thought just lingered in my mind until I came across a new book by Karl Subban and Scott Colby, published by Random House Canada.

How We Did It: The Subban Plan For Success In Hockey, School & Life. 
~ By Karl Subban and Scott Colby

Karl Subban is the dad of P.K. Subban. Toge…

An Exclusive Interview with Bestselling Author Karen Swan

What would the holidays be without another Karen Swan romance thriller to whisk us into a feeling that anything can happen, and love is in the air.  

Mystery, intrigues and a whirlwind romance are key ingredients in Karen's novels, and her new book The Christmas Secret is full of unexpected twists and turns, and of course a whole load of chemistry. 

So before you dive into this book by the Globe and Mail bestselling author during the holidays, here's something else you can sink your teeth into: an exclusive interview with Karen Swan herself. 

Does Karen Swan have a muse? What's her writing style like? Where's her favourite place to write? What are her Christmas traditions? (SPOILER ALERT: Christmas Eve = Gifting a Book) 

So many questions...and we have the answers. Just keep on reading this blog, to find out what makes Karen Swan tick. 

But just before we get to that, you just may want to make a note of this in your calendar. Did you know that Karen Swan will be in town nex…

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Taking a departure from the epic battles and military focused historical fiction that made him famous, Bernard Cornwell dives into the thespians' world during the Elizabethan era in Fools and Mortals

Set back in A Midsummer Night's Dream, when young Richard Shakespeare has run away to London to carve himself a space in the world of theatre, Fools and Mortals plays out like a stage production. The narrator, Richard Shakespeare who had been estranged from his older brother William for a while, needs a job and becomes an actor at William's theatre company. But brotherly love does not dominate their relationship, and it is evident that the tension between the two siblings runs high. William continues to be dismissive of his brother, offers no preferential treatment, and, more often than not, chooses other actors for roles that Richard clearly covets. 

But, Richard can hold his own and is determined to find a great role (ideally playing a man) in one of London's prominent p…

Stolen Words - Written by Melanie Florence. Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard.

A new picture book about the legacy of residential schools. 

One day, after school, a little girl asks her grandpa how to say "Grandpa" in Cree. The question stops him in his tracks and the answer is not one that you would expect. Instead it comes with a sadness, as he realizes that he has lost his words. 

With a natural childhood curiosity, the little girl wants to know more, and questions her grandpa to tell her the story. How did Grandpa lose his words? Who took them away from him? 

The story does not end there, because the next day when the girl meets her Grandpa after school she has a surprise for him. Words that will make him smile.

Tânisi, nimosôm

They are Cree words that he recalls from when he was a child. Smiling the girl pulls out a book "Introduction to Cree" and hands it over to her Grandpa.  

Word by word, the words that were stolen in his youth start coming back to him. 

A book about the power of words. The power of stories. And a relationship that is pure …

I Am Not A Number

Powerful. Poignant. Part of our history.

We need more stories that are representative of our history. Not just those that are covered in our history books, but those that have been repressed so that the truth be hidden from our children. Since the truth is the truth, and we must face head first if we are to move forward as a better nation.

The injustices that occurred in the residential school system were an atrocious blemish on our country's image, but if we do not face up to our past, then we cannot create a better future for our children.

I Am Not A Number, written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer is one such book. Set in Nippising First Nation, the "I" in I Am Not A Number, refers to eight-year-old Irene Couchie, who is forcefully taken away from her parents Ernest and Mary Ann, along with her two brothers, to live in a residential school system. Irene's number was 759. 

They are wards of the government, now. They belong to us.
The story takes us step-by-step throu…

There's nothing common about Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Perhaps if you are an ardent fan of Tom Hanks, you won't be surprised by the literary prowess that he embodies. After all, this Oscar-winning superstar has already published a series of short stories in The New Yorker. So, by extension, it would only be fitting that he would inevitably publish a book of some sort.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories due for release this month, is Tom Hank's debut as an author. Published by Knopf Canada, the book has seventeen short stories that somehow involve a different typewriter. Here's something that you may not know. The typewriter theme is not a mere coincidence. Tom Hanks has a long fascination with typewriters, collecting well over 100 of these literary tools in his possession. 

From my interpretation, Uncommon Type: Some Stories seems to be a metaphor for uncommon stories, which really are stories about people...different types of people. The forgotten heroes. Of course there's a typewriter eleme…

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Say goodbye to vague personality tests, because Gretchen Rubin has come up with four tendencies that apply to everyone.

Personality frameworks tend to cram too many elements into their categories. The Four Tendencies describes only one narrow aspect of a person's character. 

The Four Tendencies explains why we act and why we don't act.
Gretchen Rubin claims that when you consider the Four Tendencies, you're better able to understand yourself. This can help you build a happier life. But it can also help you understand other people, which mean you can live and work more effectively within your community. 

But where do these Tendencies come from? Are they a result of upbringing or gender? Gretchen Rubin claims that they are hardwired, and don't change with our surroundings or over time. She suggests that unless we go through some catastrophic, character-reshaping experience, then our Tendencies do not change.

So what are these Tendencies and which one are you?

UPHOLDER - respon…

After your Thanksgiving Feast you may need a bit of a detox

Hope you had a fabulous thanksgiving! 

Now it's time to get serious and cleanse yourself from all the must-haves you've been tempted with at Thanksgiving dinner. 

Two books that may interest all foodies alike.


Everything you need to eat beautiful from the inside out. From the best nutrient-dense foods to enhance your natural beauty, Eat For Beauty, gives you a snapshot of the best things to eat to make yourself feel beautiful from head to toe. 

Curious to know what foods will reduce fine lines? Here's a tip: Green beans. While some skin types have a propensity to develop fine lines, caused by a lack of seburn that can lead to dryness, introducing your diet with super-hydrated foods containing minerals that rebalance fluids and electrolytes is key. French, sting, mung and sprouted beans, all provide hyaluronic acid, a moisture magnet that helps to plump and moisturize skin so that fine lines appear less visible. 

There's also a quick tip recipe in the book for …