Reviews

REVIEW | By Ann Fields, author of Fuller’s Curse » Simone Da Costa’s children’s book, “A Silly Rhyming Alphabet Book about Animals from A to Z” is a delight for children and parents. In every sense, it is an instructional book but one which is cleverly disguised as a rhyming, animal book. While reading this book, children will unknowingly learn the alphabet, be introduced to animals new and known, and pick up the subtleties of rhyme.

The author presents short stories for every letter of the alphabet and the featured characters are animals. This makes the reading experience fun by giving parents the opportunity to sing, act out, and improvise, while encouraging children to do the same and thereby open their own creative channel. The creativity of this work is displayed in the unnatural environments the animals live in and in the actions the animals undertake. Animals driving cars, ironing, escaping the zoo…it is all way too much imaginative fun!

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Book Review: The Cure is a Forest PDF Print E-mail
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BOOK REVIEW | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick » The connection is there, right from the start, as Toronto-based poet Desi Di Nardo dedicates her book for my family of humans and animals.

Ironically, it seems, I discovered this book in 2011, the year dedicated by the UN to celebrating forests. Beginning her book with dawn in The Cure is a Forest, a poem that lends its name to the book title, Di Nardo takes her readers through a panorama of nature until she concludes with a churning feast of life in Cherry Blossoms.

Mentions of place names such as Duclos Point, Pefferlaw River, Holmes Point Road, orient the reader, lending a familiarity to these words met for the first time.

In her poems, Di Nardo presents moments of nature, interactions among birds and insects, frogs and flies, as humans canoe paddle through, in their environment. The numerous details of these are very true to life. There is an ongoing buzz of life. Nowhere is this clearer than in the captured moment of Morning Glory.

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Whisper – A Declaration Of Love… PDF Print E-mail
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altREVIEW | By Frederick Rocque » Kathryn’s feelings flow rapidly gathering unshed tears. They well in eyes that relive the past – sometimes reflecting regret that those times have died – and at other times doggedly believing they may have died, but have not perished.

Often, very often, Kathryn’s thoughts mirror the unrestrained joy and happiness to have even been a participant. The reader is left wondering if these are manifestations of grief, a sublime literary passion, or a marriage of the two blurred between bliss and a burdened mind?

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Plain Kate – Eye-catching And Mystical PDF Print E-mail
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Plain Kate by Erin Bow

REVIEW | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick » Looking for some Autumn Reads? You might want to read a work of fiction entitled Plain Kate.

The golden light-filled book jacket of Plain Kate by Erin Bow caught my eye. At first glance, the warm coloured backdrop to a sketch of a long-haired young girl tip-toeing across a rooftop certainly set off a stream of questions in my mind.

Just who was Plain Kate? Where did she live? What was the name of her cat? Was she part of a circus act? You get the picture.

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Debutant Isaac Crafts Grand Entrance PDF Print E-mail
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Storyteller, by Sherry Isaac

REVIEW | By Archie D’Cruz » Just as there is a sense of anticipation in picking up the latest work of a favourite author, there is also the joy of discovery when chancing upon a beautifully-penned book by an emerging star.

Storyteller, Sherry Isaac’s just-released debut collection of shorts, evokes exactly that emotion. Just about every one of the 16 stories in the 216-page book is pitch-perfect, with intriguing lead-offs, characters that come to life, and surprise endings that only serve to whet the appetite for the next story in the collection.

It is a testament to the Halton Hills, Ontario-based author’s skill that she not only delivers a compelling read, but does so with a level of artistry many writers can only aspire to. Perhaps that should come as no surprise; though this is her debut collection, she did announce herself to the literary world by scooping the Alice Munro Short Story Award in 2009.

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Less is More PDF Print E-mail
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Less is More – book cover

Review | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick » Looking to the future? Are you are at a crossroads in life?

Are you thinking about Embracing simplicity for a healthy planet, a caring economy and lasting happiness? You might want to check out Less is More (New Society Publishers), the small book sporting these italicized words on its front cover.

This thoughtful anthology compiled by co-editor contributors Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska is a rich collection of expert commentary on simplicity – discovering and maintaining it in an ever faster-changing world of the 21st century.

From dictionary definitions to Thoreau to the Dalai Llama, simplicity can, according to Andrews, lead us to a greater satisfaction with our lives and a gratitude that stems from that contentment. Urbanska argues that it can be empowering to adopt a more simplified lifestyle.

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Hiccups: Myths And Misconceptions PDF Print E-mail
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25 Ways To Cure The Hiccups: Uncovering 101 Common Myths And Misconceptions

REVIEW | By Archie D’Cruz » Eating sugary snacks makes kids hyper. Starve a fever and feed a cold. Stress causes your hair to go grey. Dining on turkey makes you drowsy. We’ve all grown up with beliefs like these and have come to accept them as fact. But are they based on scientific evidence or are they just old wives’ tales?

In his new book 25 Ways To Cure The Hiccups: Uncovering The Truth Behind 101 Common Myths And Misconceptions, Wisconsin professor Brian Udermann does a marvellous job of putting commonly held beliefs under the scanner to examine if they do indeed stand up to deeper scrutiny.

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Island Girl PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Sherry Isaac

Island Girl, by Lynda Simmons

The more I learn about the craft of writing the more critical a reader I become. With Island Girl, the latest offering from Lynda Simmons, I was mesmerized from the first word to the last.

How would you put your house in order if suffering from a terminal disease? The question is not a new one, but Simmons, true to her style, offers a twist. Ruby Donaldson isn’t terminal, but soon she will cease to exist.

Ruby’s memories have become as elusive as the waves that pound the shore of Ward’s Island. Stoic, proud and isolated, the island, and Ruby, are a short ferry ride from Toronto’s city centre. Ruby is a monument to control. Control drives elder daughter Liz to the bottle, control keeps younger daughter Grace a prisoner, control keeps Mark, Ruby’s former lover, at bay.

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Bride of New France PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick

Bride of New FranceHistorical fiction has a strong following. If you are a member of this group, you will enjoy reading Bride of New France by Canadian author Suzanne Desrochers.

Who, you might ask, was this “bride of New France”?

Actually, Laure Beausejour, the fictional main character is a composite of female figures in the historical records researched by Desrochers in her thesis studies of early immigrant women in Canada. Particularly, the author focuses on les filles du roi, young women who were dispatched to the colony of New France with a mission to expand the population.

For those who have seen a dramatic portrayal of the daughters of the King in CBC’s Canada: a Peoples History, this will definitely supplement that glimpse of the past.

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You Know Who You Are PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick

You Know Who You Are – cover» Who are you?

Ian Williams, with an emphasis on the “I”, asserts in his premier poetry volume title that You Know Who You Are. Encased in a shiny slim volume covered with watery blue translucent cubes, the youngish Professor Williams shares a collage of life in an urban pop culture context. William presents a trilogy of experiences.

The first of three sections is entitled Look at You, a snap-shot of life in Toronto and Boston – relationships and encounters and perceptions.

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Frozen Stare PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Cheryl Antao-Xavier » Oneal Walters’ third book Frozen Stare retraces his formative years as a youth growing up in a troubled neighborhood in Toronto’s west-end. Graphic poems and photographs of former hangouts track this ‘childhood revisited’.

The poems are honest reflections of a man who has moved on and out of the world of his youth, yet in many respects carries that world with him, indelibly etched in memory. Hard lessons and impressions of vulnerable, formative years lodge in our subconscious to define who we become as adults, how we act and react as individuals.

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Hands-On Guide For Teen Writers PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Patricia Anne McGoldrick

Writing Fiction

With its shiny blue highway cover photo, Heather Wright’s slim volume, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens invites teens to pick it up and take a look inside. The experienced educator’s self-published handbook invites teen readers to tak e a road-trip through the writing process clearly outlined in the Contents list.

In a conversational tone, Wright addresses her reading audience with tips on Setting Goals and Editing. The workbook style format provides templates for student input: writing goals list; Brain Dump bubble diagrams for start-up ideas; detailed character sketch outlines; random writing prompt lists; hero comparisons grid. Dialogue and setting tips are illustrated with actual examples to reinforce teens’ comprehension of their effectiveness.

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Sea Change PDF Print E-mail
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REVIEW | By Cheryl Antao-Xavier » The poems in Adebe DA’s aptly named Sea Change probe the depths of intimate relationships reflecting starkly on the vicissitudes of love, in the backwash of a reality check. Crashing illusions effuse self-revelations that surface as a new consciousness and understanding of oneself and one’s sense of self: “for me/it is in hopes that I evade/the traditional female destiny/of longing/for you/to take back the absence.”

A strong undertow of subliminal messaging tugs the reader along in a personal connection on a voyage to emotional maturity: “and do not call me with your old depths/for I am learning to sing a new song/learning to find/a new grammar of beauty/mornings where memories burn/and the poems return.”

The aqueous metaphor is carried through this collection of exquisitely-crafted gems of the deep. The poetry flows effortlessly, the verbal imagery captivates, the wisdom resonates: “that all poems/must be listened to with eyes/and all bodies are poems.”

Sea Change is a compelling read and an impressive first collection. Hopefully we will see a lot more from this young Canadian poet.

• Cheryl Antao-Xavier is a poet and publisher