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Showing posts from 2018

Dreampad - Techno Dreams or Nightmares?

Jeff Latosik's collection of poems is inventive and unexpectedly relatable. It's life as we know it, but with a twist. 

How do we consume information? What impact does technology have on our existence? Who is responsible for creating this byzantine labyrinth of infrastructure and software that keep us interconnected -- to the point of addiction for many. Where will this end? Will it be technological super intelligence as envisioned by von Neumann, Vinge, and Kurzweil or something more sinister (à la Terminator's Skynet)? 

The recent popularity of voice assistants in our homes has been adopted nation-wide with alarming ignorance. In Jeff Latosik's poem THERE IS A DELIVERY SPECIALIST he alludes to the fact of innocence being lost. We can't just chill and just listen to music like we used to. Our music is now spying on us. Conveniences he feels are being "gushed in until they were unintelligible". 

It used to be we could go a generation 
and still know where you…

It's complicated...especially when meddlesome family members are involved

An Unsuitable Match - By Joanna Trollope 

Critics have said, "No one writes about family tensions better than Joanna Trollope". 

Everyone loves a great story about second chances. So why wouldn't you cheer for a heroine who's found love again? Well perhaps because you are swayed by opinions and interference from those characters closest to her, whom you figure obviously also care about her well-being. 

We all have meddling family members, but there are extraneous circumstances in Rose Woodrowe's relationship with Tyler Masson that lay the foundation for additional drama in her life.

Tyler's just the kind of sensitive man that Rose felt she should have met forty-seven years earlier; before her disastrous marriage to her first husband. Now with five grown-up children between them, Rose and Tyler must fend off the criticisms, or figure out how to keep the peace between their families. 

With the love birds being in their sixties, this is a more mature themed novel tha…

Canadian Politics in a Thriller

The God Game - By Jeffrey Round

Politics. Drugs. Gambling. These themes interweave in The God Game by Jeffrey Round to spell out a story that is well played out in and around the Toronto setting. And when you infuse an extra element of murder into the mix, the intelligent mystery novel takes on an intriguing tale that is totally unputdownable. 

The Background: 
The husband of a Queen's Park aide runs off to escape his gambling debts and Dan Sharp (PI) is hired to track him down. The city's political landscape verges on the bizarre -- a crack-using mayor (sounds scarily familiar?) and a major scandal looming -- Dan finds himself pitted against a mysterious figure known for making or breaking the reputations of upcoming politicians. Then a body turns up on Dan's doorstep, and he realizes that he's being punished for sticking his nose into dirty politics. Can he clear his name and the mystery? 

A great read for the reader looking for a sharp-witted mystery rift with political…

Coding is hard? Scratch That!

Look around you and you'll see that the world is evolving at an alarmingly fast rate. From Google Mini and Alexa, now in at least half of the homes around the country, and a generation of robots heading our way very soon, the future could be very exciting.

What's at the crux of this evolution, is technology. From an AI-inspired chatbox that pops up every time we go online shopping, to interactive animation, games, stories and even art. 

On a recent episode on TVO's The Agenda they discussed Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the Arts. Automation, it is clear, doesn't just affect the manufacturing industry. Technology is also revolutionizing the world of art, literature, music, and improv. The show goes on to discuss whether AI could ever displace creative minds. You can watch the entire episode here. 

The fact is coding is a big component to the future of technology. Kids are learning this at a very early age, and it is predicted that kids who know code are far ahead…

Play with Art

I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend than by immersing myself into a creative activity. Especially since winter is not my thing. So delving into the world of colour, paint and exploration, is a productive way to spend some time indoors. 

I have to say when I came across DK Canada's book PLAY WITH ART, it took me down a nostalgic path...visions of me as a three-year-old block painting and using potatoes to create the most awesome shapes and colours, that would be hanging on the fridge art gallery wall after. When did we begin to lose that sense of fun and discovery with the simplest of objects around the house?

Some ideas were familiar. I remember making pretty patterns with oranges and apples, and printing blocks made out of wood blocks. But adding a twist to these basic techniques, like using string on a wooden block, or using bubble wrap are new creative ideas that I hadn't considered. 

That's basically what this book is about. Ideas. Plenty of them. So that…

16 International women authors compete...sadly no Canadians

It's #InternationalWomensDay and what better time to reveal the 2018 #WomensPrize longlist. It constitutes some of the best of the best writers on the planet. From Arundhati Roy to Jessie Greengrass, there's a lot of food for thought amongst the books who made it. Congrats to the authors. 

The winner will be announced on June 6, 2018. Here is the complete 2018 longlist: H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati RoyThe Idiot by Elif BatumanThree Things About Elsie by Joanna CannonMiss Burma by Charmaine CraigManhattan Beach by Jennifer EganThe Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes GowarSight by Jessie GreengrassEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanWhen I Hit You by Meena KandasamyElmetby Fiona MozleySee What I Have Done by Sarah SchmidtA Boy in Winter by Rachel SeiffertHome Fire by Kamila ShamsieThe Trick to Time by Kit de WaalSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The woman in the window by A. J. Finn

When Stephen King, the king of thriller novels, calls A. J. Finn's debut novel, "One of those rare books that really is unputdownable...delightful and chilling." just may want to pay attention. 

Undeniably one of the most thrilling rides that I have gone on this year, The Woman In The Window, is wrought with the right balance of suspense and believability. 

Anna Fox is an agoraphobic, arecluse trapped within the confines of her home. She hasn't ventured outside her home in months, and her only lens to the outside world is through her window. 

She spends her days gazing across the street at her neighbours, wondering who they are and meticulously putting together the pieces of the puzzle that seem to make up their lives. 

The Russells have just moved into the house across the street. To Anna, they seem like the perfect family, one similar to the kind she used to have...a nuclear family with a father, a mother and a teenage son. The new neighbours spark feelings of no…

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
The refugee crisis is an ongoing challenge. There are two sides to the equation. One perspective is from the refugees' viewpoint. A lot of refugees coming into Canada are innocent people, fleeing persecution from their war torn homelands. But there also may be some bad apples in the crowd, masking their true identity to seek refuge in a country that has been known to be "too soft" on refugees. How do you differentiate between the two types of claimants? 

Based on real events, The Boat People focuses a lens on an illegal refugee journey into Canada. It was 2010, when a boatload of Sri Lankan refugees arrived on the shores of Canada, and were received with a icy cold reception from the Harper Conservative Government. 

On the boat is Mahindan and his six-year-old son. They have endured brutal hardship on the boat, but hope for a better future have kept their spirits up. 

They n…

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

She loves your son, she wants your life.It's a classic case of girl meets boy; boy then falls in love with girl; and as a result, mother of boy wants to meet this mysterious girl that her son is so smitten with (within such a short amount of time). They say curiosity killed the cat. In this game of cat and mouse, you wonder if that's going to be an eventuality for one of the characters.

Laura's life looks perfect on paper. A long marriage to a rich husband, a handsome son Daniel who's in medical school, and a successful career. 

But the cracks begin to surface in this picture perfect setting as soon as Cherry (Daniel's girlfriend) comes into her life and starts to create a wedge between her and her son. The book begins with a love story of sorts. Daniel has just met Cherry, but within a week, she's become a fixture in his life. It's not hard for figure out that Laura is quickly starting to lose her son to Cherry, and her place in the hierarchy is threatened. 

The Home for the Unwanted Girls

He who plants a seed plants life.Family relationships are complicated. And novelists have long used this premise to weave a tale of intrigue and suspense. Joanna Goodman's new novel, The Home For Unwanted Girls, is based on this idea. 

Set in 1950s Quebec, right in the centre of the French and English political turmoil, the novel is filled with secrets, deceit, family and love. As the title suggests, the story centres around the abandonment of a child. 

Maggie Hughes' parents represent both sides of the French and English resistance. Maggie's English-speaking father is pro-Anglo and has ambitious plans for his daughter, including going to an elite English school and definitely not interacting with French-speaking boys. The irony is that, his wife, Maggie's mother is francophone. Maggie has always been daddy's little girl and when it comes to taking sides, she's going to lean on the side of her father. She's always at odds with her mother, who constantly compl…

Get lost in Camp Forevermore

Camp can be a life-changing experience. From developing independence and self-confidence skills, to leadership and respect, one summer can forever change a child's outlook on life. But, while glossy camp brochures tout the great positive benefits of the experience, they often fail to take into consideration any negative impact it can glean on the child. 

That's the premise behind The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu. 

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a young group of girls are sent to Camp Forevermore. Whether it's building up camaraderie with activities that include swimming to camp songs by the fire, on paper these girls seem to have hit the jackpot of a summer of experiences. Except that life isn't that straightforward. The reality is that there is bickering and backstabbing and bullying. 

One day, they set out on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island with a sole adult counsellor. What happens on this trip translates to a lifetime of scars, one that …

A cappuccino a day, keeps stress away

A frigid Sunday afternoon calls for baking. Eager to try out Tanya Bakes, a new baking book by YouTube sensation Tanya Burr, I scoured the pages to find something that would be easy to whip up and using the ingredients I already had in my pantry. Luckily, there were quite a few recipes that seemed to incorporate basic ingredients that any baker is sure to already have. 

I decided on the Cappuccino Cake. Because this is a British cookbook, it took some getting used to on the measurements. I turned to my handy metric conversation to estimate the amounts. For new bakers, who are not used to the British Imperial System of weights and measures, this can be a bit daunting and takes a bit of getting used to. 

The recipe also called for self-raising flour, and generally most baking recipes I've used incorporate all-purpose flour with baking soda. So, I took the liberty of adding some myself. The typical Canadian hack is 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 tsp baking soda = 1 cup of self raising flo…

How Top Performers Do Less and Achieve More

Many people believe that working hard is the key to success. But is it really? 

When Morten T. Hansen started his first job at twenty four, he worked crazy hours to make up for the lack of experience he possessed. Years later, he discovered something astonishing that made him rethink this initial position in work success. A colleague of his, was able to work a 8 - 6 day and produce work that was far superior to his. No nights. No weekends. 

Through various research, he came up with a theory.

To work smarter means to maximize the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted efforts.
Morten T. Hansen outlines seven key principles that yield extraordinary individual performance. By improving on these seven practices you can boost your performances beyond what it would be if you relied on talent, luck or the sheer number of hours worked. 

Start small and build up these routines bit by bit, until you master them. Great at Work tells stories of people from all w…