2. From the Ashes (Jesse Thistle)

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 12.13.27 PMThe hardships and lessons in From the Ashes linger in my mind.  The book was a brutally honest account of the generational devastation of an Metis family impacted by the lasting effects of colonialism.  Jesse and his brothers were abandoned by their parents, left in an apartment to fend for themselves and apprehended by the police before moving in with their grandparents.  After a lifetime of neglect, abuse, addiction, crime and homelessness, it is quite remarkable that Jesse Thistle found support and had the strength to deal with his addictions, complete a university degree, become an assistant professor and write a book that has been long-listed for Canada Reads!

Living with his grandparents, Jesse just kept ending up in trouble, failing classes and navigated towards a life of drugs and crime.   His stories of living on the street are shocking and harsh.  His rampant use of drugs and lack of care for his own body is hard to imagine yet there is hope!

This book would make an impact on high school students if they were to read and understand the pain and trauma that leads to addiction and homelessness.  The Ontario Grade 11 English curriculum will be changed to an indigenous focus for 2020-21 and From the Ashes would provide great learning and perspective to students!  They would read and discuss the author’s resilience, strength and the supports from family and his rehabilitation team that led him back to health.

I am hopeful that it will make the short-list for the Canada Reads debates as I think it is a story that needs to be told.  I learned a lot by reading this book and will never look at another homeless person the same!  The world needs more understanding and less judgement and this book provides an education which will lead to compassion.

For more information:


Also, check out his website and generous offer to skype with book clubs.  My in person book club is excited to chat with him in April!:


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1. The Hour of the Fox

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 11.55.07 AMAfter reading Kurt Palka’s The Piano Maker, which was a 5 star rating for me, The Hour of the Fox was disappointing.   Although it was enjoyable and an easy read, it did not keep me engaged.

I did enjoy reading about the Nova Scotia setting which made me want to plan another trip east after our disastrous trip last summer (I should totally write a blog post about that fateful trip but for readers, the vacation did include a vehicle fire, a torrential storm, a 17 hour trip home, squished in a smaller vehicle with a dog lying across 3 laps!  Our tent trailer is still on Cape Breton which likely gives a hint as to the way our trip ended!)

The story details the struggles of a woman after her only son was lost during a peacekeeping mission. As she dealt with her own demons, she physically and mentally distanced herself from her husband by travelling home to a small town in Nova Scotia to provide legal advice for a friend’s son who was implicated in a murder investigation.  As she spent time in her hometown, she reminisced about her own past and weathered a Nova Scotia storm as she tried to put her life back together.

The book was enjoyable but paled in comparison to The Piano Maker. It needed to focus on one story line and seemed a bit scattered at times.  I might have liked to have known more about the struggles of the protagonist’s teenage life which was just mentioned at random times.

If you are looking for a great book, grab a copy of The Piano Maker’s Daughter!

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2019 Review

Followers will realize that I have been delinquent in my posts for 2019.  I started of posting and meant to catch up but then life happened…  After taking a break, here is my list of 2019 reads.

Have you read any of these?  What did you think?  Any suggestions for 2020?

Here is my 2020 list (with some commentary) and I am now reinvigorated to have a fresh start fresh for the new year (note that those books highlighted in red are by Canadian authors and authors highlighted in blue are authors I have been lucky to meet over the past few years):

# Title Author
1 Beartown – an amazing book.  To be honest, for the first third, I was a bit bored with all the hockey but then BAM! like a hockey punch, it sucked me right in and I could not put it down!!  It was a highlight of the year to meet this author!! Backman, Fredrik
2 Remember Us – written by a wonderful friend!!!  We enjoyed having Layne join us for a great book club evening!  READ LOCAL!! Blake & James
3 Eat Move Think:  The Path to a Healthier, Stronger, Happier You Francis, Shaun
4 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules – quirky seniors rob a bank!!  enough said! Ingelman-Sundberg, C
5 A Well-Behaved Woman:  A Novel of the Vanderbilts – great historical fiction based on a real family. Fowler, Therese Anne
6 goodnight mind: turn off your noisy thoughts & get a good night’s sleep Carney & Manber
7 Small Fry – quite a memoir about growing up with a brilliant yet bizarre man (Steven Jobs) from the viewpoint of his daughter who reported neglect and abuse. Brennan-Jobs, Lisa
8 Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days Guillebeau, Chris
9 Homes – written by a refugee student with help from a teacher, this is a book that all students should read and realize what other students go through in other parts of the world.  This was a great read that made the Canada Reads short-list. al Rabeeah, Abu Bakr 
10 By Chance Alone – another Canada Reads book which detailed the authors experience through the holocaust and in the time after when he had nothing and no one.  Eye opening! Eisen, Max
11 This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership that Matters – remember the lollipop video?  Check it out and then read Dudley’s book. Dudley, Drew
12 The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Turton, Stuart
13 The Penelopiad – the world needs more Atwood!! Atwood, Margaret
14 The Hate U Give – a book recommended by my daughter which was thought-provoking and a great read.  Imagine having to warn your children how to respond to police just simply based on the colour of their skin!  We were lucky to get to meet this author at the Art Gallery of Ontario! Thomas, Angie
15 On the Come Up – not as compelling as The Hate You Give but we are looking forward to her next book. Thomas, Angie
16 Carnegie’s Maid – interesting fictional tale of a fictional maid set in the reality of Carnegie’s life Benedict, Marie
17 The Death of Ivan Ilych Tolstoy, Leo
18 The Woo Woo – this was my least favourite of the Canada Reads picks.  I am not sure how anyone could categorize it as humorous and feel that this girl should have been rescued from abuse by the CAS… her feet were purposely burnt by her mother.  i sure hope that it was an exaggeration! Wong, Lindsay
19 Suzanne – a beautifully written translation for Canada Reads! Barbeau-Lavalette, Anais
20 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@CK – seriously, can you fit any more f words into one book?  It was a run of the mill, self-help, leadership type of book with f words thrown in to make a splash.  no thanks! Manson, Mark
21 A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life – an interesting reflection on the author’s life before our trip to South Carolina Conroy, Pat
22 The Quintland Sisters – another fictional novel based on the horrendous childhood of the Dionne quintuplets.  Their whole life was built on others… their father, the government, their doctor, taking advantage of them.  From further research, two quintuplets remain and one had all her money stolen by her own son.  so sad! Wood, Shelley
23 The Body – Stephen King, need I say more?  The best character author! King, Stephen
24 A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Elliott, Alicia
25 Apron Strings –  this was the One Book One Brant book of the year and told of a woman’s trip across 3 countries eating like the residents and learning how to cook along with her son.  A very interesting experience! Wong, Jan
26 The Home for Unwanted Girls – a sad part of Canadian history! Goodman, Joanna
27 Uncle Tom’s Cottage – a horrid tale of slavery. Beecher Stowe, Harriet
28 The Glace Bay Miner’s Museum – a play sent by my secret sender from my good reads group.  Sadly, our summer trip turned into a “Chevvy Chase” vacation and once our car was towed away after an electrical fire and we were stranded in a campground on Cape Breton, we never made it to Glace Bay or the mines. Lill, Wendy
29 The CHAOS Cure Cilley, Marla
30 HBR – Influence and Persuasaion HBR
31 The Moment of Lift – inspiring!! Melinda Gates
32 Foe – creepy! Reid, Ian
33 The Moon of Crusted Snow – interesting concept and story but could have used a bit more editing. Rice, Waubeshig
34 Cari Mora – disappointing story by the author of Silence of the Lambs. Harris, Thomas
35 Green Book – we all need to be more environmentally friendly! Dyer, Harriet
36 The Mister – dreadful book club pick which was so hard to finish.  Everyone hated it! James
37 Glass Beads – a collection of linked short stories Dumant, Dawn
38 A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Adichie, Chimaamanda Ngozi
39 Us Against Them – a great sequel to Beartown! Bachman, Fredrik
40 Normal People – not sure what all the hype was about?? Rooney, Sally
41 The Blue Castle – lovely story as I continue to read the words of LMM. Montgomery, LM
42 Writing the Revolution – I am kicking myself for missing the UofG event.  This collection of articles continues to be relevant today as we continue to strive for and retain women’s rights. Landsberg, Michelle
43 Very Good Lives Rowling, JK
44 Note to Self: Inspiring Words from Inspiring People King, Gayle
45 The Waiting Hours – listened to this one in audio and it was interesting to read the fictional account of a  911 operator. Mitchell, Shandi
46 The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox Wells, Katie
47 The Reality Bubble – interesting but read a lot like a textbook! Tong, Ziya
48 Explore Nova Scotia O’Brian, Cyntha
49 Nova Scotia: Canada’s Ocean Playground Beckett, H
50 I’m Afraid of Men Shraya, Vivek
51 The Dead Zone – this was a reread for me and it is amazing how prescient Stephen King seems to be with this book and how much relates to the sad situation with Trump in the States. King, Stephen
52 The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore Fu, Kim
53 All Things Consoled – a memoir of an author experiencing the aging and death of her parents… sad but something we will all deal with at one time. Hay, Elizabeth
54 French Exit – not for me! DeWitt,
55 Men Explain Things to Me Solnit, Rebecca
56 The Rosie Result – a lacklustre end to the Rosie trilogy. Simsion, Graeme
57 The Latte Factor – simple, common sense finances but a basic repeat of The Wealthy Barber. Bach, David
58 Dear Life – Alice Munro, amazing stories always! Munro, Alice
59 Hysteria
60 The Handmaid’s Tale:  Graphic Novel – not a genre that I typically pick but a great refresh. Atwood, Margaret
61 In Praise of Difficult Women Karbo
62 My Life on the Road – what an interesting life she has had.  I didn’t realize what a nomad she is! Steinem, Gloria
63 I Feel Bad About my Neck – aging sucks! Ephron, Nora
64 Jane Goodall:  50 Years at Gombe – when he government was concerned that she would be camping alone in the jungle, she brought her mom along!  An amazing start to her love and research of chimpanzees! Goodall, Jane
65 The Handmaid’s Tale – 3rd read and always AMAZING in preparation for The Testaments. Atwood, Margaret
66 The Testaments – won’t say much as you all need to read this one but I LOVED finding out more about Aunt Lydia.  There is always more to the story and we can’t judge before we understand! Atwood, Margaret
67 Akin – a sweet tale of a boy and his great uncle.  Thanks Shalom! Donoghue, Emma
68 The Innocents – still damaged by this book and have not been able to rate it.  Beautiful writing by Crummey. Crummey, Michael
69 The Institute – another great book by a great author! King, Stephen
70 A Quality of Light – Love all of his books, a bright light, gone too soon! Wagamese, Richard
71 One Drum: Stories and Ceremony for a Planet – great to get a taste of what Wagamese was working on but so sad that he never got to finish these teachings. Wagamese, Richard
72 The Crucible – a read along as my daughter studied this play… wish I could have gone to Stratford with her class! Miller, Arthur
73 A Fine Balance – I am not sure why I waited so long to read this.  Devastating but amazing literature! Mistry, Rohinton
74 Plant Based on a Budget Okamoto
75 Mostly Plants – learning and adapting our diets with a new vegetarian in the house. Pollan family
76 The Chimps of Fauna Sactuary – read with kleenex.  It is hard to believe that research chimps could have been abused so horribly.  This sanctuary is amazing and tries to bring joy. Westoll, Andrew
77 Our Homesick Songs – I want to go to Newfoundland!!! Hooper, Emma
78 24/6:  The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week – great advice for a technological attached world. Shlain, Tiffany
79 Empire of Wild Dimaline, Cherie
80 Finding Chika – i never knew that this author opened an orphanage in Haiti.  the sad tale of a girl that he tried to save. Albom, Mitch
81 You are Awesome – so positive! Pasricha, Neil
82 The Last Resort – a quick read about a marriage saving resort gone wrong. Stapley, Marissa
83 The Minimalist Home – don’t bother! Becker, Joshua
84 Nine Perfect Strangers – could have been edited down to a third of the book. Moriarty, Liane
85 When We Were Vikings – thanks for an ARC from Harper Collins.  This was a terrific story about a girl living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and her struggles for independence as she lived with her brother who had his own challenges. MacDonald, Andrew
86 This Year it Will be Different – awful Christmas read that was all about women looking for a man or being with men who are cheating on their spouses. Binchey, Maeve
87 I Quit Sugar Wilson, Sarah
88 Albatross – do you like golf?  The author said it is not all about golf but it sure does talk a lot about the sport! Fallis, Terry
89 Be More RBG  Easton, Marilyn
90 The Weight of Ink – a great historical fiction. Kadish, Rachel
91 The Education of Augie Merasty – devastation from colonialization in this disjointed account. Merasty, Augie
92 For the Love of Books:  Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books – dry, dry, dry. Tarrant, Graham
93 Chrismas Present – cheesy! Jacquelyn Mitchard
94 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – I need to read more Agatha Christie in 2019! Christie, Agatha
95 The Obesity Code – unfortunate title but turns the nutrition that we all learned upside down.  Guide to intermittent fasting and cutting out added sugar by a Canadian renal specialist. Fung, Jason
96 The Noel Diary – are all Christmas reads so cheesy? Evans, Richard Paul
97 Bad Feminist – interesting essay collection Gay, Roxanne
98 Christmas at the Vinyl Café – best Christmas tales every!!  Enjoy in a book or in audio.  The late Stuart McLean was a genius story teller and these should be repeated EVERY Christmas season! McLean, Stuart
99 Euphoria -a sad love triangle of anthropologists set in New Guinea. King, Lily
100 The Shape of Family – a quick read of a family struggling with loss.  Instead of pulling together, they all suffered individually as they tried to get their lives together. Gowda, Shilpi Somaya
101 The Obesity Code Cookbook Fung, Jason
102 The Blood Sugar 10 Day Detox – helpful concepts but lost me when the author started pushing his own products. Hyman, Mark
103 Reproduction – an interesting mix of family dynamics starting with two individuals meeting in hospital as their mothers were dying.  This was the winner of the 2019 Giller prize and is certainly unique. Williams, Ian
104 Where the Crawdads Sing – an awesome book to end the year.  I could not put it down!!  everyone needs to pick up this book!!! Owens, Delia
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Michelle Obama – Becoming

Michelle Obama took to the stage in Toronto and shared a powerful message to 15000 (mostly) women!  It was an amazing evening, listening to Michelle speak about her book, Becoming, with my daughter, mom, IMG_1159sister in laws and friends!  Her message to the audience was to tell your story, teach others, be open, have fun and practice failure.  She got screams of “run for president” and huge applause.  If you have not read Becoming, I suggest you pick it up and learn how hardwork and a good education have led her to a position of influence an to become the First Lady of the United States, the first black First Lady who encouraged children, had a garden at the White House and spread her message with grace and humility.

She shared how she had started out with little (financially), living in the apartment above her great aunt’s home but she had much love and family that helped guide her.  She shared that with “a lot of hard work and a good education anyone can succeed”!  Succeed she has, making an impact on the world with her role as first lady and with her most successful memoir in “herstory”.  I look forward to seeing what the Obama’s accomplish with their Higher Ground Netflix project which will enhance their power to tell stories.

She spoke of being open to change, instead of using the news to tell their story during the campaign races, she reached out to the people through late night shows, having fun with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon.  She reached out with Ellen, with Sesame Street and took the approach of “making people laugh and then teaching them something”.  She trusted her young staff to help her reach out through social media saying that “if the goal is to reach people, you have to be flexible”.  (My favourite was her carpool Karaoke when as first lady she spent time with Jame Cordon).

She impressed on the audience that “no one gets where they are, as a success, on their own” and encouraged the audience to find people to trust, build a base of support, be out IMG_1161their and ask for help while building a community.  This message was specific to young people getting ready for college but applies to all.  She shared the importance of being curious, open to explore and to learn and to listen. She laughed to the teens saying that they “know nothing” but need to go out, make mistakes and learn for themselves.

She opened up about seeking marriage counselling and that “no one else can make you happy”, that you need to seek this happiness yourself.  She encouraged girls to reach their goals and not wait for any man!  She noted that life is long, that “we all have to make trade offs but that it is never to late to be a better leader, never to late to be a better friend and never to late to self reflect”.

She talked failure, how it is important to get used to fear, and know that “the feeling of failure ends, you recover from it” and that everyone else is failing all around you so likely not even paying attention to your missteps.  She noted that “I failed a lot but just kept moving through the failure” and that it is important to practice failing and get back up.  She shared how she had learned about the importance of not procrastinating when she failed the bar exam, having to tell the partners at the firm that she had failed which at the time had been very difficult.

Her powerful messages were packed into a great evening and will have a lasting impact on the audience!  It was a wonderful evening, leaving the audience many thoughts to ponder and her message will inspire others to make a difference!

“The path to anywhere is filled with bumps and bruises and lessons learned… hit them and don’t give up!”

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Canada Reads – Finale

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 10.49.12 PMWhat an amazing day!!  What could be better than spending a great day with fellow book lovers including my daughter and friends at Canada Reads?  After a bit of panic with a delay on the highway, we made it to the GO station and into Toronto to met up with our CanadianContent Goodreads group friends from as far away as Bermuda (yes, I did say Bermuda) and Kingston (Ontario)!

The finale was amazing with two fantastic books squaring off against each other: Homes and By Chance Alone (I am sorry but I am behind in my book reviews so will be adding blog posts about the books soon).  Chuck Comeau was his at his strongest today, highlighting the importance of a young person’s story about his refugee experience.  He took his role so seriously and seemed much more comfortable debating today yet saddened by the loss of Homes.  Like my daughter kept saying, how can you argue against the Holocaust?  It is so important to understand the past to ensure it is never repeated and Ziya Tong led By Chance to victory in a very polished and prepared debate!  Check out day four here.

In the end, the readers won with 5 great books (okay, really 4 as I still struggled with The Woo Woo but some people did somehow find it humorous… I am still not sure what was funny but do agree that mental health is a very important topic).  The authors also won with the brisk sale of their books (not to mentioned the booksellers)  and the audience won with an invigorating opportunity to be in the audience (or listen from their cars, or watch later on the CBC stream).

It was an amazing day!!  Our group is very thankful to both Tara and Chloe at CBC for their help in arranging group tickets and to the CBC Books for a great event!  We celebrated with lunch before we parted ways but are already looking forward to Canada Reads 2020!!!



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Canada Reads – Day 3

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Canada Reads is down to the final two.  Both books are non-fiction and both tell harrowing tales, one of the horror of the Holocaust and the other the plight of a young refugee whose family had fled Iraq to the safety of Syria only to be plunged into more danger.

Both stories are told by remarkable individuals who have show great resilience and strength.  Both stories need to be shared.  Readers need to understand, reflect and make the world a better place.

Sadly, Brother was voted off today.  It was a story that also needs to be told.  I loved the beautiful prose and appreciate understanding the challenges of immigrant families (particularly this single mom who struggled to support her family, working diligently yet not able to be home when her boys may have needed her) in Toronto.

The Canada Reads t-shirts are here and our group is very excited to be part of the studio audience tomorrow!!  Tune in at 11!!

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Canada Reads – Day 2

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Day 2 was full of great discussion and I was sad to see Suzanne be voted off.  Although it was difficult to like the actions and decisions of Suzanne, it was a book that did move me to consider the lack of choice for women at a time when the expectation was to be a wife and mother.  The book was a beautifully written collection of vignettes spanning the lifetime of experiences of Suzanne.  Not only did I like the story, but the book nerd in me appreciated the quality, linen like, thick pages printed by Coach Books (much like Fifteen Dogs).

The next two days will be exciting.  The remaining books seem quite evenly matched although the defenders of By Chance Alone and Brother seem to have stronger debating skills and a greater comfort level in the high tension atmosphere of a live audience situation.

Bring on Day 3 and I am looking forward to being part of the audience on Day 4 when the winner will be chosen!

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Canada Reads: Day 1

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Canada Reads is the most exciting “book holiday” of my year!!  I love the focus on CanLit, the competition, the strategy and the game show antics.  I have enjoyed reading the books (well, most of them) and am so excited to be attending the finale on Thursday which some equally enthusiastic book friends.

Today, I am thrilled with the result.  Of all the books, I had the most difficulty finishing The Woo Woo.  I could not see the “black humour” that others have commented on.  If her life was truly so bad, why did teachers not see the abuse and the neglect and follow their duty to report?  How could no-one identify and help to rescue this little girl?  Did they not notice that she infrequently bathed, had her feet burned and was verbally and psychologically abused?

I appreciate the importance of reducing the stigma of mental health challenges but this book does not resonate and I am pleased with the results of today’s voting.

Looking forward to day 2…

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January Book Review Blitz

3.  Eat Move Think:  The Path to a Healthier, Stronger

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 8.40.36 AMJanuary was a month of thinking about resolutions and Eat Move Think was the book to inspire a few changes.  The book was a little light on research but it was an easy read to inspire readers to make healthy living goals for 2019.

I liked that it had references from Canadian sources and sparks thought which may lead readers to more research.  For me, this book helped me to set goals to some new 30 day challenges like not eating snacks after dinner, ensuring that I get in my 10 sets of stairs daily (easy to track with a fitbit) and get to bed earlier working towards at least 7 hours of sleep.

4.  The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules (Catharina Ingleman-Sundberg) 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 9.10.07 AMFor February Book Club, the plan was to finish the books from pas book club Christmas exchanges.  I had been especially delinquent and had a copy of The Doomsday Book, The Little Old Lady and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.  My goal had been to finish all 3 for our discussion but I did not quite make it in time!

This was a light, amusing read about a group of pensioners, frustrated by the lack of amenities and control of their own lives in their retirement home.  They began testing the boundaries and breaking rules which led to a life of crime!

Readers need to set aside their need for realism and just enjoy the antics of these seniors rather than judging the actual possibility of the success of these crimes.

5.  A Well-Behaved Woman:  A Novel of the Vanderbilts 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 9.11.47 AMAfter loving Z, the novel written about Zelda Fitzgerald and the opulent life of parties and excess, I was happy to listen to A Well-Behaved Woman during my January commutes.  Based on the extremely wealthy Vanderbilt family, it was interesting to read about the lifestyle and challenges of being a woman at this time.

This thought-provoking, creative fiction was woven with actual history and told the story of women in the late 1800s.  It was a time where women did not always marry for love but had to consider their husbands with a focus on money and security.  Women could not vote and had limited ability to make independent decisions.

The Vanderbilt family lived a life of excess and it was interesting to read this book and think of the impact these family members had on their future generations.  As I listened to this tale, I reflected on what I had learned listening to The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper.

6.  Good Night Mind: Turn off Your Noisy Thoughts and get a Good Night’s Sleep

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As someone who periodically has sleep challenges, i was interested in learning some new tips for quieting my mind. Although there were helpful tips, there was nothing new but lots of common sense suggestions.




7.  Small Fry (Lisa Brennan-Jobs)

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 9.26.53 AMAs I type on my MacBook Air, communicate on my iPhone and take notes at meeting with my Apple pencil and iPad, it is easy to see the genius and vision of Steve Jobs.  I had already learned about his eccentricities and selfishness in his biography but it was really quite sad to read of his daughter’s experience in her biography, Small Fry.

His daughter and ex lived in relative poverty during Lisa’s early years, her parentage was denied and there was no support despite his ample income.  When he did spend time with Lisa, his behaviours were often mercurial. He was mean, even mentally abusive at times yet loving and over the top at other times.  He lived in a mansion where he had not even been in some of the rooms.  The home was crumbling around him.  He attempted to get his family to eat his extreme vegan diet, stopped paying Lisa’s tuition and demanded she choose one parent over the other.

I am thankful for his vision which allows me to carry a “computer” (iPhone) in my pocket but it is hard to reconcile the technological brilliance with the selfish, petulant man described in Small Fry!

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2. Remember Us (Lindsay Blake/Layne James)

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 2.30.22 PMDid I tell you that my friend Layne has written a book?  How amazing is that??  She is a busy mom, photographer and has recently went back to school to finish a masters program… yet somehow, she has found time to write and publish a book!!!

Remember us is a story full of challenging family dynamics.  Feelings and frustrations escalate  when Reese and her brother Ben return home to care for their father who has been diagnosed with cancer.  As they struggle to care for him, their estranged mother arrives and turns their lives upside down as she attempts to rekindle relationships and make amends after being absent for thirteen years.

The characters are quirky and readers have to wonder how much of these antics are pulled from real life situations?  This story follows Reese who struggles to answer questions such as whether to forgive her mom?  Which love interest to choose?  How to move forward with her life?

If it is not enough that the characters come together in their family home, they take off on a road trip in a rust volkswagen bus.  I don’t want to share any spoilers so I will end this review sharing that there was a bit of a shocker towards the end which leaves readers pondering.

Support a local author!!  Ask for Remember Us at the library, or buy a copy from Coles or Chapters.  Layne lives locally and is excited to join book clubs for discussion and I am looking forward to my May book club where we can get our books signed and ask questions about the writing experience, specifically the challenges in writing a book with a friend.

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