THIS IS NOT MY LIFE:ย 

Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, PRISON, AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS    

Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

Length: 351 PAGES   

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

Price:  $24.99 CDN

How I Received This Book: This book was one I purchased for myself at CHAPTERS

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ   

Any memoir that begins with the words this one does is bound to be both interesting and shocking. Author Diane Schoemperlen is NOT the type of woman who I pictured as one that would fall in love with a man in prison – especially one who had been convicted of murder. I’m not sure who I thought of as the type to fall for a prisoner, I just know that a well-known author and journalist would be the furthest choice from my mind.

Diane’s memoir begins in 2006 with the following sentence:


“It is safe to say that never once in my life had I dreamed of being in bed with a convicted killer, let alone one with his teeth in a margarine container in the kitchen, his mother in the next room, and the word HI! tattooed in tiny blue letters on his penis.”

Now, if that sentence does not make you want to read more, then, this review is probably not for you either.

I was intrigued.

What would an educated and highly intelligent woman find attractive about a convicted killer? What the heck was wrong in her life that she would see prison as a viable dating venue? How could she ever feel safe around him?

Diane met Shane at a soup kitchen where they both volunteered. He was still incarcerated, but he was allowed out while escorted by a nun to work at the soup kitchen. No one, Diane least of all, had any idea what his crime had been or how long he had been in jail. In fact, at first, she thought he was just another volunteer.

Eventually Diane and the rest of the volunteers learned the reason he was in prison. Diane describes the moment like this:


“This was when we finally learned why he’d ended up in prison in the first place and that he’d been there for almost thirty years. Now we understood that in the language of tattoos, the tear-drop below his left eye meant he had killed someone. Now we knew he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. Whatever initial alarm we might have felt about this was tempered by the fact that it had happened so long ago and that he had become an essential and popular part of the kitchen crew. We saw him as a person who had paid his debt to society and deserved a second chance.”

This blows me away. I cannot say for sure what my reaction would have been, but I doubt that learning Shane had killed someone is something that I would have been able to overlook. But, that is the exact reason why I wanted to read this book. Well, that and the fact that author Diane Schoemperlen is not only Canadian, but she and I live in the same province (Ontario) and our homes are only a three hour drive apart.

I found this memoir to be compelling reading. Diane does not shy away from difficult topics. She opens the readers eyes to what life is like for those incarcerated in Canadaโ€™s prisons and how these prisoners become institutionalized. What I had never considered before was how the loved ones of these inmates end up institutionalized as well.

Yes, this book contains details about the often ridiculous world that is Canada Corrections, but it is ultimately a story about the desire for love and acceptance and to the lengths people will go in their quest to achieve those feelings and the seemingly bizarre choices they make that they normally would not. 

Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir is beautifully written and well thought out. Since it is written after the relationship ended I do however believe that she has glossed over many of the events. But I also believe that she did not do so with the intention of deceiving readers, rather because, in her own mind, she didn’t want to sensationalize her fear. It is human nature to downplay fear-filled moments after the fact – I believe this is an unconscience psychological defense mechanism. 

Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


*** Caution – This section may contain spoilers ***

I have done some research and I believe I know exactly who “Shane” is and if I am right, he committed multiple murders, multiple prison escapes and multiple robberies. However, whether he killed one person or three people, he is still a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison. I also do not believe the bit about his “teardrop tattoo.” I think this was included to throw off those who might be curious as to “Shane’s” actual identity. 

Despite the sentence of life in prison, somehow “Shane” is now allowed to live and work amongst the rest of us. WHY?

Personally, I used to naively believe that when someone was sentenced to life in prison, that they would actually remain in prison until they died. SILLY ME!!! I guess I should have known better. I could probably rant for many, many more paragraphs about why I think it is wrong to allow murderers to be free to walk the streets of my home  province, but I will refrain from doing so here in my review of THIS IS NOT MY LIFE by reknowned author Diane Schoemperlen.

Suffice it to say that Diane’s book/memoir is a MUST READ. This is true not only for those who love a good read, but also for everyone who has even a passing interest in Canada’s jail system and what I perceive to be its fallibility (which should be every Canadian of voting age.)


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor Generalโ€™s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank Oโ€™Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writersโ€™ Trust of Canada.


ACCOLADES, MEDIA AND PRIZES won by “THIS IS NOT MY LIFE” 



– One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

  
 – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

About this Video: 

Three memoirs and two biographies are nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. Max Eisen writes about surviving Auschwitz; Matti Friedman recounts his combat experience in Lebanon in the mid-1990s; Ross King examines Claude Monet’s fascination with painting water lilies; Marc Raboy reveals Guglielmo Marconi as a global communications pioneer; and Diane Schoemperlen remembers her six-year relationship with a convicted murderer. The Agenda welcomes the five non-fiction finalists to discuss what impelled them to write their books.

Dianne Schoemperlen’s book has been nominated as part of the #ygkChallenge    


MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview        

LILA and the CROW by Gabrielle Grimard is a 5 Star feast for the eyes and the heart – Childrenโ€™s Fiction at its finest ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

โ€‹


Title: LILA AND THE CROW    

Author: GABRIELLE GRIMARD  
Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION, BULLYING, PREJUDICE

Length: 32 PAGES  

Publisher: ANNICK PRESS    
Release Date: OCTOBER 11, 2016 

ISBN: 9781554518586  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ  

I think this children’s book has been released at a time when our world really needs to absorb and to believe in the message it contains. We need to embrace the diversity that makes North America so special and it is especially important that we teach our children love rather than hate and tolerance rather than judgement.

In this story Lila experiences both discrimination and bullying based solely on her appearance.  Unfortunately, this is often what happens in real life and the children who are targeted are often unsure as to how to deal with it. This is also true of Lila.

Although Lila’s race is never specifically mentioned, it is clear to me that her ancestry is aboriginal and  this story is a fable in the style of all aboriginal tales going back hundreds of years. As with those tales of old, this story features an animal who is central to the plot.

When Lila’s family moves to a new town, she is excited about meeting and making new friends when school begins. However, her hopes are shattered when on her first day of school when a boy points at her and shouts: โ€œA crow! A crow! The new girl’s hair is black like a crow!โ€ On her way home she is upset and barely notices the crow that tries to get her attention.

The next day she covers her hair, thinking this will stop the bullying. However, the boy points at her dark skin and taunts her about that instead. When she covers her face, he makes fun of her dark eyes. From that day on, Lila hides under a turtleneck, dark glasses, and a hat, but the taunting and bullying continue.

Every day on her way home, she sees a crow who seems to want to tell her something. Lila ignores the bird and even throws rocks at it, but it won’t go away.

Meanwhile, the great autumn festival is coming up soon. While the other kids prepare their costumes, Lila is sadder and lonelier than ever.

At her lowest point of despair, she has a magical encounter with the crow who opens Lila’s eyes to the beauty of being different. This gives Lila the courage to proudly embrace her true self. And the kids at school learn a powerful lesson.

We, as parents and as members of a diverse society sometimes need to be reminded that words can hurt and that our children are vulnerable. We need to teach our children to judge people not on their religion or on the colour of their skin, but rather on their character and on their actions. This book will open their eyes and reinforces the beauty of diversity.

I love the message contained within this book and I believe it is important.


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ and I think every parent, every school, and every library should own a copy of this book.


Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

After studying Fine Arts at Concordia University, Art Education at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and a few years as a painter and muralist on the island of Montreal, Gabrielle  took a more solid direction towards youth-illustration with the birth of her son in 2001.

In recent years, she has mainly been involved with publishing geared towards a youth audience, educational publishing and a bit of advertising as well.

She has worked with several Quebec publishers, including Dominiqueet Cie., Imagine,la Bagnole and HMH.

She has also worked with such Canadian publishers as Orca Books and AnnickPress. Since 2007, she has worked with Painted-Words which is a New York-based agency for Illustrators. This opportunity has given her access to the U.S. and British markets within the children’s publishing industry.

If her style remains traditional, it is mostly full of poetry. She loves being able to translate through drawing the world in which she wants to live.

She loves working light, and different levels and patterns. To create an album, her research work  involves various media and itโ€™s a process that she loves, but her favourite aspect will always  be colour. She uses mainly watercolours, gouache and oil, which she combines together on watercolour-cardboard. She likes watercolour for its lightness, gouache for its intensity of colours, and oil for the depth it offers within which I delve with happiness every time. In all, I add a touch of wooden pencil for the details which fly in the wind.

 To find out more about this wonderful author/illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS      

FACEBOOK      

PINTEREST          

AMAZON      

CHAPTERS    

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE    

PAINTED WORDS LITERARY AGENCY   

TRAPPED IN ICE by Canadian Author Eric Walters – A 5 Star YA Historical Fiction Thriller based on a true story. A MUST READ.

Title: TRAPPED IN ICE

Author: ERIC WALTERS 

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 225 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 

Release Date: 1997

ISBN: 978-1-77049-994-2 (Softcover)

Price: $12.99 CDN ($8.91 on the Chapters.ca website)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

I sometimes wonder why we don’t learn more Canadian history in high school. I am 100% sure that if TRAPPED IN ICE was read in history class, not one student would complain of boredom.

ERIC WALTERS has taken the tale of the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and fictionalized it into a tale that everyone should read.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of historical fiction or not, this book will draw you in and you will find it nearly impossible to put down.

Thirteen year old Helen lost her father and her home all within the span of a single year. Her mother accepted a job as a seamstress on the Canadian Arctic Expedition and arranged for Helen and her younger brother to join the expedition as well.

Up until this trip, Helen has only ever experienced adventure through the many books she has read. What should have been a moderately scary trip becomes a nightmare when the ocean unexpectedly freezes over early. This catches everyone on board The Karluk by surprise, even the experienced and tough Captain Robert Bartlett. The ship becomes locked in the ice with no chance of a thaw for many months.

Actual photo of the Karluk stuck in the ice in 1913

In fact, it is likely that the ship will sink before the ice thaws enough for it to be released. What follows is a true tale of the ship’s Captain, crew and passengers and their terrifying trek across the ice flow to try to reach land.

Photo of Captain Robert Bartlett at home in Newfoundland before leaving for the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition

Readers will find themselves drawn into this harrowing tale of how Helen and the others push themselves beyond human endurance based solely on their will to survive.

This book is not very long, it consists of only 225 pages and readers will become so swept up in the story that they will want to read it in a single day.

I love the fact that author Eric Walters has chosen to bring to light a part of Canadian history that is largely unknown and I hope that he continues to write more books like this one.


I rate TRAPPED IN ICE as 5 out of 5 Stars and I highly recommend this book to all readers aged ten and older. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ 

To learn more about The 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and it’s true story click here

TRAPPED IN ICE won the 1999 Silver Birch Award. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It all began in 1993 when Eric was teaching a Grade 5 class.  His students were reluctant readers and writers and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature.  His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class.  It is set in the school where Eric was teaching, Vista Heights Public School, and some of the features of the community of Streetsville and many of the names of his students were incorporated into the story.

  

Since his first novel Eric has exploded on the childrenโ€™s and young adult scene.  Over the following years he has published over 94 more novels and picture books with more than ten scheduled for the coming years.

These novels have been enthusiastically received by children and young adults and critically acclaimed by teachers, reviewers and parents.  Ericโ€™s novels have won more than 100 awards including eleven separate childrenโ€™s choice awards. 

He is the only three time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards โ€“ in which over 250,000 students participate and vote the winner.  In November 2013 he received the prestigious Childrenโ€™s Africana Book Award โ€“ Best Book for young children โ€“ for his book The Matatu.  This American award was presented to Eric in a ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

 https://youtu.be/yheY6Lut3iU   

Ericโ€™s novels are now available in places as far award as New Zealand, Australia, India and Nepal and have been translated into more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.

Eric has presented to more than 1,500,000 students across North America and internationally in Japan and Germany.  His presentations blend drama, storytelling, audience participation and interaction.  He presents to students from K โ€“ Grade 12 as well as adult groups and keynote speeches.

 June 2013 Eric became โ€˜Dr. Waltersโ€™ when he was granted the honorary degree of Literarum Doctorem by Wilfred Laurier University.  He gave the address to graduating  B.Ed., B.A. students in the spring convocation.

Eric, along with his wife Anita, and Ruth and Henry Kyatha, are the co-founders of The Creation of Hope which provides for over 400 orphans and disadvantaged children throughout the Mbooni District of Kenya.

100% of money donated by schools goes directly to serve and through the website these schools are shown โ€“ school by school, dollar by dollar, item by item โ€“ how their donations are spent.

Eric is the father of three (Christina โ€“ born 1985, Nicholas โ€“ born 1988, and Julia โ€“ born 1992) and he and his wife live in Mississauga with their two dogs โ€“ Lola and Winnie the Poodle.  In his free time (what little of it he has) he walks, hikes, and plans his next adventure.  He spends time every summer in Kenya at his orphanage.

To learn more about Eric and his phenomenal books visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS    

TWITTER          

CHAPTERS / INDIGO BOOKS    

EMAIL: ericwaltersauthor@gmail.com   

 

5 Stars for Rรฉmy Simard’s Childrenโ€™s Graphic Novel: SIMONE: THE BEST MONSTER EVER – Perfect for all ages – Coming in April 2017ย 


Title: SIMONE: THE BEST MONSTER EVER 

Author: Rร‰MY SIMARD    

Illustrator: Rร‰MY SIMARD      

Translated from French to English by: KAREN LI   

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS 

Length: 50 PAGES

Publisher: OWLKIDS BOOKS INC

Release Date: APRIL 15, 2017  

ISBN: 978-1-77147-293-7 (Hardcover)

Price: $16.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Morris is a green, googly-eyed monster. He loves zombie bowling, rain storms, and anything gross or disgusting.

Simone is a cute little girl. She loves sunshine, flowers and cute puppy dogs.

When Simone ends up in Morris’s world she is the scary one. The monsters run away from her horrifying cuteness and her happy smile. In this monster-world everything is topsy-turvey.

Despite his initial terror of Simone, she and Morris end up as best friends and the unlikely pair have a host of hilarious adventures.

Kids will be able to relate to each story. There is school, Halloween, Christmas, sports and much more.

These comics were originally published in French and luckily have now been translated into English. 

The illustrations in this beginner’s graphic novel are sheer perfection. The monsters still look like monsters, but they are not really scary. This will draw the children’s attention without causing nightmares or fear.

The colors are bright, vibrant and bold and the illustrations will make fans of not only the young children, but also their older siblings, and even their parents. 

Each page in this book is its own story, which is told in 4 to 6 comic panels. This format makes this book terrific for bedtime reading since parents can easily read a few pages per night and pick the book up again the next night.

This is an amazing book to introduce children to the joy and wonder of graphic novels without having to worry about non-age-appropriate content.


I rate this visual treat as 5 out of 5 Stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ and I highly recommend it to children of any age from 4 to 99.


** Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

       



 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR: 

 

Rร‰MY SIMARD is an award-winning illustrator and author of many books and comics for children.

When he is not busy creating, Rรฉmy loves zooming around the streets of Montreal, Quebec on his motorcycle.

To learn more about him, click on the following links: 
OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS      

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK       

INSTAGRAM    

AMAZON      

FOLIO PLANET    

PLAY ILLUSTRATION    

WORKBOOK.COM   


ABOUT ME: 

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NEW RELEASE “PATHOGEN” by Jessica L Webb is a riveting, terrifyingly realistic mystery with multiple sensational twists. A 5 Star, Must Read thriller.

Title: PATHOGEN        

Series: DR. KATE MORRISON MYSTERIES #2

Author: JESSICA L. WEBB   

Genre: FICTION, THRILLER, MEDICAL THRILLER, LGBTQIA

Length: 288 pages

Publisher: BOLD STROKES BOOKS

Release Date: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62639-832-0

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Canadian author Jessica L Webb has written a medical thriller worthy of fans of Robin Cook.

Set in the province of British Columbia and with the main character being in a lesbian relationship, this book reflects the world we live in today which is a refreshing change.

This is the second book in the Dr. Kate Morrison series, however, it can easily be read as a stand-alone thriller. I have not yet read TRIGGER which is the first book in this series and during reading I never felt I was missing anything.

Kate is an ER Doctor in a downtown Vancouver hospital where she more often than not deals with patients who are on the lowest rung of the social ladder. So, when she receives an invitation to liason with the local RCMP on an investigation into a potential bio-terrorism threat she accepts the challenge.

Her decision means that she will be investigating alongside her girlfriend Andy who is an RCMP Sergeant. The two head to the ultra-exclusive town of Hidden Valley where homes sell for tens of millions of dollars and the people who live in them think they deserve special treatment.

As the pair start to learn more about the virus that seems to be randomly striking victims from all age groups and all walks of life, they start to wonder if the bio-terrorism threat might actually be real.

But who would want the residents of Hidden Valley to get sick and in some cases, to die? And why? What would prompt someone to do something so strange?

Set in the gorgeous province of British Columbia, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is fast-paced enough that the action never seems to lag and yet contains enough medical information to make it seem eerily realistic.

I hadn’t heard of Jessica L Webb before discovering this book on Netgalley, but I am positive that it is a name I will not soon forget.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars and highly recommend this book to readers over the age of 18 (some scenes and situations are graphic and not for the faint of heart). 

I received a free Advance Review Copy of this book from Netgalley

  • TRIGGER
  • Book One of the Dr. Kate Morrison Mystery series 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Jessica Webb spends her professional days working with educators to find the why behind the challenging behaviors of the students they support. Limitless curiosity about the motivations and intentions of human behavior is also a huge part of what drives her to write stories and understand the complexities of her characters and their actions.

When she’s not working or writing, Jessica is spending time with her wife and daughter, usually planning where they will travel next. Jessica can be found most often on her favorite spot on the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Visit the following links for more information about Jessicaa L. Webb

AT BOLD STROKES BOOKS   

GOODREADS        

TWITTER    
        

  • Repercussions 
  • Coming July 2017


  • Troop 18
  • Book 3 of the Dr. Kate Morrison Mystery series
  • Coming in March 2017 

STUPID by Kim Firmston is a Young Adult book that will get you talking

Title: STUPID

Series: SIDESTREETS NOVELS

Author: KIM FIRMSTON

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Length: 208 PAGES

Publisher: LORIMER & COMPANY LTD.

Release Date: 2014 

ISBN: 978-1-4594-0611-7

Price: $9.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐ŸŒŸ

Martin wishes that everyone would quit calling him stupid.

Just because he isn’t on the honour roll like his younger sister doesn’t mean he’s stupid.

No matter how hard he tries, Martin just can’t seem to improve his grades at school.

Martin’s father constantly belittles him; calling him lazy and stupid. As it would with any teenager, this devastates and frustrates Martin.

Out one night videotaping he captures surprising video of someone jumping from roof to roof at an abandoned brewery. When security spots the person on the roof, the two teenagers  team up to help each other escape.

From that night on, Martin and Stick becomevgood friends. Asking Stick what he had been up to that night introduces Martin to the world of parkour (free running).

Seeing correlations between Stick’s jumps, flips and tricks and the way words move around the page when he tries to read, Martin decides to make a movie that will prove he isn’t so stupid after all.

I love the fact that this book addresses issues that other authors are afraid to take on – like the fact that parental verbal abuse can be as bad (and sometimes worse than) physical abuse.

That topic alone would be enough to tackle in a single book, but not for Kim Firmston. Her writing is absolutely fearless (kind of like Stick when he is doing parkour.)

Additional topics talked about in very realistic ways include: learning disorders, dyslexia, ADHD, the foster system, the sale of ritalin in high schools, depression and the frustration of giving something your absolute best effort and still coming up short.

If a reader cannot find a way to relate to either Martin or Stick then they must have been brought up in complete isolation from others.

This is the second book I have read by KIM FIRMSTON and I am now officially a fan. I love the realism in her books and I love that she is not afraid to bring up hard topics. Her books are perfect for Young Adult Reading Groups and in fact, I think that it sbould be required reading for parents of teenagers.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

* I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author but this in no way influenced my rating or my review. All opinions are 100% my own and 100% honest.

I am looking forward to reading Kim Firmston’s next book called BOILED CAT which is to be read while also experiencing it’s website at the same time. It sounds like a lot of fun. (Don’t worry, its not a horror. BOILED CAT is the name of a rock band.

ADD “STUPID” TO YOUR GOODREADS ACCOUNT BY CLICKING THE LOGO BELOW: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WHO is this so called KIM FIRMSTON?

Kim says she is a real life mutant โ€“ though one without any cool powers. When she is not writing or cursing obvious villain mistakes, she warps young minds in her Reality is Optional Creative Kidsโ€™ Programming, at WordsWorth Writing Camp and through the ACS Dramantics Theatre Camp, among other places. 

Her short story, Life Before War, was short listed in the 2008 
CBC Literary Award and published in FreeFall MagazineReturning Home, was published in the Alexandra Reader Anthology. Her childrenโ€™s plays (many of which were co-written with children) have been produced across North America, the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as far away as the UK and Egypt. She has published six YA books which can be seen here, has been the Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, toured Labrador as part of TD Book Week, and was even interviewed on CJSW.


Kim is dedicated to sharing writing with children of all ages including those not able to write yet and promoting youth who wish to make it their career. 

Other websites where you can find Kim: 


http://www.boiledcat.com/

amazon.com/author/kimfirmston

SCHIZO by Kim Firmston offers a glimpse into the life of a teen whose mother is mentally illย 

Title: SCHIZO 

Author: KIM FIRMSTON  

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, BULLYING 

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: LORIMER  

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55277-871-5

Price: $9.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ  

Dan and his little brother Dustin live in a single-parent household. Dan is a fifteen year old boy who is just trying to live his life. He has all the normal teenage concerns and desires. There is a girl he really likes and his favourite thing to do is to play his base guitar.

BUT there is one thing that distinguishes him from the rest of the kids at his high school and it is so time-consuming and so emotionally draining that he is exhausted and sleep-deprived every single day. This is obviously affecting his grades.

The difference between Dan and his friends is his mother. She isnโ€™t like the mothers that his friends complain about. They all think their mothers are psycho and  complain about them bitterly. If they only knew!

They may call their mothers “psycho” but they have no idea what life is actually like with a mentally ill mother.

Dan’s mother is a schizophrenic and she has recently stopped taking her medication. This makes her unpredictable and can lead to her becoming violent.

Dan feels powerless and as if he is all alone in the world:

“I wonder, sometimes, if anyone else has a life like mine. I’ve never heard of it. Not once.”

Dan is doing his best to hold his family together and to protect his brother. But soon things begin to spiral out of control. Will Dan be able to keep himself and his brother safe? Or is his mother’s schizophrenia going to tear the family apart?

WHEW!!! What a book. I started reading and couldn’t stop. I read the entire book in a single sitting.

Author Kim Firmston should be applauded for writing a book that directly tackles the issue of mental illness. Unfortunately, even though we are making progress in bringing the issue of mental health out of the shadows, there is still a long way to go.

In the story Dan is tormented by a bully who often says: “…You’re a schizo-nutbar. Like your schizo mom.”

Dan replies by saying: “Don’t call my Mom that. She’s sick. You wouldn’t call someone with cancer names, would you?”

Dan makes a great point. Schizophrenia is an illness, and until people start to believe that, things will not really change. Talking about it and having books like this one available is an important step towards understanding.

 According to Dan, “…mental illness isn’t just something you announce. People think it rubs off.”

As ridiculous as it seems to those of us who are aware that mental illness is NOT a choice, there is still a large segment of the population that believes that everyone can choose how they act and react. This needs to change.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

I highly recommend it to teens and other young adult readers. It is especially important that books like this are available in all high school libraries so that they are easily accessible to those who need them.

If this book reaches just a single young adult and makes him or her feel less alone then it has done its job.

Thank you to Canadian author Kim Firmston for providing me with a free copy of this book. 

To find out more about mental illnesses or to find links to places where you can seek help, click on the following logos:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WHO is this so called KIM FIRMSTON?

Kim says she is a real life mutant โ€“ though one without any cool powers. When she is not writing or cursing obvious villain mistakes, she warps young minds in her Reality is Optional Creative Kids’ Programming, at WordsWorth Writing Camp and through the ACS Dramantics Theatre Camp, among other places. 

Her short story, Life Before War, was short listed in the 2008 
CBC Literary Award and published in FreeFall MagazineReturning Home, was published in the Alexandra Reader Anthology. Her childrenโ€™s plays (many of which were co-written with children) have been produced across North America, the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as far away as the UK and Egypt. She has published six YA books which can be seen here, has been the Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, toured Labrador as part of TD Book Week, and was even interviewed on CJSW.


Kim is dedicated to sharing writing with children of all ages including those not able to write yet and promoting youth who wish to make it their career. 

Other websites where you can find Kim: 


http://www.boiledcat.com/

amazon.com/author/kimfirmston

CANADA ABC by Paul Covello is my pick for Best Best for ages 0 to 4 for the year 2016. Check it out here…


Title: CANADA ABC  

Author: PAUL COVELLO    

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: CHILDREN’S BOARD BOOKS, CANADIAN CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION

FOR AGES: 0 – 4 YEARS OLD

Length: 30 PAGES 

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS   

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

ISBN: 9781443448840

Price: $12.99 CDN 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ 

I purchased this board book for my next door neighbor’s 2.5 year old daughter for Halloween rather than giving her candy that she just didnโ€™t need. SHE LOVES IT!!!!

She has had her mother reading it to her over and over again ever since she received it. I LOVE IT because it not only teaches children their alphabet, but it also teaches them words that are synonymous with our wonderful and unique country of Canada.

Some of the words include B is for Beaver, I is for INUKSHUK, H is for HOCKEY, L is for LOONIE and Z is for ZAMBONI. Where else but in our glorious country would children learn these words at such a young age?

I believe that it is not only important to instill a love of reading in children from a very young age, but I also believe that it is important to teach kids about the country in which they live. They should know how unique it is and how lucky they are to have been born into such a great, multicultural company where tolerance is the rule, not the exception.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars.

This beautiful board book has also been chosen as one of the TOP 25 READS FOR FALL by TODAY’S PARENT MAGAZINE.  

This book is a MUST HAVE for everyone with small children as well as for people who just love Canada and want to celebrate some of our iconic words and images in the lead up to Canadaโ€™s 150th Birthday in 2017.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Paul Covello is an illustrator, author,  motion graphics artist and designer living in Toronto, Canada.

To learn more about this amazing Canadian author and illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

FACEBOOK  

TWITTER   

INSTAGRAM      

TERROR’S END describes the life, crimes and trial of Canadian Serial Killer – Alan Legere

Title: TERROR’S END

Subtitle: ALLAN LEGERE ON TRIAL

Authors: RICK MacLEAN, ANDRร‰ VENOIT and SHAUN WATERS

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION, CANADIAN CRIME 

Length: 358 PAGES

Publisher: MCCLELLAND & STEWART INC.  

Release Date: 1992

ISBN: 0-7710-5595-1

Price: $6.99 CDN (IN 1992) 

Rating: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Serial killer Allan Legere, who was already in prison for one murder, escaped from custody in May 1989 and killed four more people during a 201-day manhunt. (CBC)


When we think of serial killers, we generally think of them as being a United States problem. ( I apologize to my US based readets, but it is true).

Most people (especially Canadians) would  NOT think of Canada, which is famous all over the world for its friendliness and peaceful nature, as a hotbed of criminal depravity  – a fact that I am immensely proud of being a born and bred Canadian.

Until reading this book, I would have said that there were only two Canadian Serial Killers that I could think of; those being Robert Pickton from British Columbia who murdered prostitutes that he picked up on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia and the disgusting piece of filth that is Paul Bernardo who definitely deserved the death penalty (if it had been available in Canada.) So, when I began reading this book and learned of Alan Legere I was very surprised.

When I think of New Brunswick and the people who live there, I think of gorgeous scenery, lakes, the ocean, and amazingly courteous and helpful people. I have visited New Brunswick many times and I love it. Even in the cities, people are friendly and accommodating. It is difficult to fathom that a serial killer was born and bred in such a wonderful province. However, that is exactly what happened.

MIRAMICHI REGION, NEW BRUNSWICK – Photo Credit = Don Richard – Obtained from http://www.mightymiramichi.com

Allan Joseph Legere was born and raised in the Miramichi area of New Brunswick. His reign of terror over the people of that area took place in and around 1986. 

One of the mugshots taken of Serial Killer Alan Legere

 This book contains so many spelling and grammatical errors that I feel like the publisher of this book should be ashamed of themselves. I assume that the reason for these errors was that they rushed the book through the publication process in order to get it onto newsstands and into bookstores as quickly as possible so as to take advantage of the public’s intense interest in the case at the time. However, in my opinion, there is simply no excuse for the sheer number of typos and spelling errors. It is RIDICULOUS.

Aside from the errors, the book seems to encompass the complete details of the crimes themselves, as well as what took place in the courtroom.

Official courtroom sketch made during Legere’s trial

Official Jury Sketch from the trial

The authors also managed to adequately convey the feelings of fear that the residents of the Miramichi area felt at the time the crimes were occurring as well as the anger and outrage citizens felt once the horrific details were released.

I also want to mention my disdain for Alan Legere on a personal note. Yes, he killed multiple people, but in my opinion he was / is a cowardly piece of scum. He chose elderly people as easy targets (probably because he knew he might be overpowered by younger, stronger opponents. He even murdered a elderly priest who had never wronged anyone in the ultimate act of cowardice. 

All in all, the book did hold my interest most of the time, but the details were so tediously described in some passages that I felt my attention wandering and set the book down for days on end.


It is for the reasons outlined above that I have chosen to give this book only 3 out of 5 stars. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

To view the YouTube video of Alan Legere – THE MONSTER OF THE MIRAMICHI click on the link below:

  http://youtu.be/mxogJzNr3dM     

WADE’S WIGGLY ANTLERS is an adorable book for ages 3 to 7 – COMING IN 2017ย 

Title: WADE’S WIGGLY ANTLERS

Author: LOUISE BRADFORD    

Illustrator: CHRISTINE BATTUZ  

Genre: CHILDREN’S BOOK

Length: 32 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS – A DIVISION OF CORUS ENTERTAINMENT     

Release Date: MAY 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-615-9 (HARDCOVER)

Price: $16.95 USD / $17.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ 

Wade is a young moose who discovers one morning that his antlers are “wiggly”.

He is very worried about his antlers falling off because he uses them for so many different things, so he decides to try to stop his antlers from falling off.

In the end, Wade has to learn to accept that he is growing up and that with growing up comes change. He also realizes that change just might not be so bad after all.

The illustrations in this children’s book are simply adorable. I love how the different animals are depicted and that they are not so stylized as to be unrecognizable which I see all too often in children’s books.

There is also a message found in this story that is something every child needs to learn and that is that change is inevitable and that it is not necessarily a bad thing.

I rate this children’s book as 5 out of 5 Stars. ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ


Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC (Advance Review Copy) copy of this book.

Pre-Order online at INDIGO.CA


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

LOUISE BRADFORD loves to spend time outdoors and in the woods. She wrote this story after spotting a young moose (similar to Wade) on a camping trip at LAKE SUPERIOR PROVINCIAL PARK.

Louise’s other stories have been produced by CBC RADIO and CBC TELEVISION.

She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where she writes speeches for grown-ups.

Louise is a member of the Writers Guild of CanadaCANSCAIP, the Canadian Childrenโ€™s Book Centre and the Society of Childrenโ€™s Book Writers and Illustrators (Canada East).  

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

CANADIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK CENTER        

TWITTER   

FACEBOOK 
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

CHRISTINE BATTUZ was born in France and received her Masters of Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts of Perugia in Italy.

Christine has illustrated over sixty children’s books, and has taught art to children of all ages.

Christine loves camping near mountains and rivers – especially with her husband and their son. She currently lives in Bromont, Quebec, Canada.

View more books illustrated by Christine Battuz HERE

To learn more about this illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

ILLUSTRATION QUEBEC        

GOODREADS  

LINKEDIN