Part history lesson, part life-story, SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN by JULIA LIN is an eye-opening book that I believe is a must read.

Title: SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN

Subtitle: One Man’s Life in Manchuria, Taiwan, and North America

Author: JULIA LIN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, HISTORY, TAIWAN

Length: 169 PAGES

Publisher: MAWENZI HOUSE

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 2017

ISBN: 978-1-988449-17-3

Price: $24.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Map and photograph obtained from ‘Lonely Planet

DESCRIPTION:

After the Russian invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchuria (Manchukuo) in 1945, fourteen-year-old Akihisa Takayama escapes with his family to their ancestral Taiwan. Here they find themselves under the brutal Chinese dictatorship of the Kuomintang. In the 1960s, now a physician calling himself Charles Yang, he escapes with his young family to the United States, from where they finally go on to Canada to become among the first Taiwanese Canadians in Vancouver. Charles Yang’s experiences illuminate the “White Terror” of Taiwan, and the geopolitical dispute between Communist China and Taiwan over the meaning of “One China.” This is a rare, humane, and personal account of the little known histories of Manchukuo and Taiwanese immigration to North America.

– The author, Julia Lin with the book’s subject: Dr. Charles Yang (2017)

– Photographs obtained from www.julialinbooks.com

BOOK TRAILER:

MY REVIEW:

I find history fascinating, but without personalization, there is no context. It is for this reason that I enjoy memoirs and biographies as much as I do. In my heart I believe that author Julia Lin must feel the same way.

Part history lesson, part life-story, SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN is an eye-opening book that I believe is a must read.

Retired Doctor, Charles Yang’s life has been incredible, and not always in a good way. He experienced upheaval and massive disorientation during his formative years. The lessons he learned along the way and the hardships he endured shaped him into an intelligent and thoughtful man, a brilliant doctor and a Taiwanese-Canadian with a deep love for both his original and adoptive homelands.

Growing up during the Second World War and the horror that was life in Manchuria and later Taiwan “… helped to cultivate {his} life-long belief in the futility of war.”

This book has once again proven to me that no matter how much one may think they know about a given topic, or period in history, there is always more to be discovered. For example, the bulk of the literature and the narrative surrounding the end of WWII focuses on the defeat of Germany’s Adolph Hitler and the deliverance of the European populace from Nazi control. What we rarely hear about is defeat of Japan (other than the delivery of the atomic bombs) and what happened to the innocent civilians after the official end of the war. For example, I was aware of the fact that Japan did an incredibly thorough job of indoctrinating its citizens with propaganda extolling the virtue of the Japanese cause. What I did not know was that the beliefs were so engrained into it’s citizens that there were many occurrences of mass suicides when the Japanese populace learned of their country’s defeat.

I believe it is absolutely imperative that people read books such as SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN if we are to truly revel in the fact that we, as Canadians, are truly blessed to live in a society that celebrates and embraces multiculturalism. Yes, I am aware that no society, including that of Canada, is perfect. But it is the publication of books such as this one that will go a long way to understanding other cultures and their histories and through understanding, we create hope for the future.

I rate SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to Mawenzi House Books for providing me with a free copy of “Shadows of the Crimson Sun.” **

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“As in any war, it was the common people who suffered most.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julia Lin was born in Taiwan and lived there and in Vietnam before her family immigrated to Canada when she was nine.

Since then, Julia has lived in Vancouver and its environs, Toronto, and northern British Columbia.

She holds a graduate degree in Immunology (M.Sc., University of Toronto) and a post-graduate degree in computing education (University of British Columbia) and has taught high school math, science, and computing science in British Columbia for a number of years.

Julia lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Mawenzi House is dedicated to bringing to the reading public fresh new writing from Canada and across the world that reflects the diversity of our rapidly globalizing world, particularly in Canada and the United States.

Our focus is on works that can loosely be termed “multicultural” and particularly those that pertain to Asia and Africa. We publish 6-8 titles of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (literary criticism, history) per year.

Among our achievements: we have played a role in the formulation of the Indo-Caribbean identity through the publication of several ground-breaking titles; we have kept in print books by major Caribbean writers Sam Selvon, Ismith Khan, and John Stewart; we have published provocative and perceptive social and literary critical works by Arnold Itwaru, Arun Prabha Mukherjee, Chelva Kanaganayakam, and others; the introduction of the important Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera; the first historical and critical study of Chinese Canadian writing in English; the first anthologies of South Asian Canadian literature, South Asian Canadian women’s poetry, Chinese Canadian stories, and South Asian Canadian and American women’s fiction.

HISTORY

In 1981, a group of young people, who had been in North America for just over a decade, decided to take the plunge and start the magazine they had always dreamed about as students, at a time in which Naipaul had to be ordered from bookstores, let alone Narayan or Ngugi or Soyinka. The result was The Toronto South Asian Review, which later became the much broader-based The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad and helped entrench a generation of new writers. As an offshoot of this literary magazine, in 1985 TSAR Publications published its first title, a book of essays on South Asian Canadian literature, followed by a book of poetry by Sri Lankan Canadian Rienzi Crusz.

Mawenzi House finally emerged, a uniquely diverse and knowledgeable publishing house based in Canada. (“Mawenzi” is the name of the second peak of Kilimanjaro.)

To learn more about Mawenzi House, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

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FEEDING MY MOTHER by Jann Arden – A MUST READ by this multi-talented Canadian Icon

Title: FEEDING MY MOTHER

Subtitle: COMFORT AND LAUGHTER IN THE KITCHEN AS MY MOM LIVES WITH MEMORY LOSS

Author: JANN ARDEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, FAMILY, ALZHEIMERS

Length: 210 PAGES

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: MY HUSBAND AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT

Release Date: NOVEMBER 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7392-4

Price: $26.00 USD / $35.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Jann Arden moved into a house just across the way from her parents in rural Alberta to be close to them but also so they could be her refuge from the demands of the music business and a performing career. Funny how time works.

Since her dad died in 2015, Jann cooks for her mom five or six times a week. Her mom finds comfort in her daughter’s kitchen, not just in the delicious food but also just sitting with her as she cooks. And Jann finds some peace in caring for her mom, even as her mom slowly becomes a stranger.

“If you told me two years ago that I’d be here,” Jann writes, “I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet we still fall into so much laughter, feel so much insane gladness and joy. It’s such a contrast from one minute to the next and it teaches me constantly: it makes me stronger and more humble and more empathetic and caring and kind.”

The many people who are dealing with a loved one who is losing it will find inspiration and strength in Jann’s wholehearted, loving response and her totally Jann take on the upside-down world of a daughter mothering her mother. Feeding My Mother is one heck of an affirmation that life just keeps on keeping on, and a wonderful example of how you have to roll with it.

MY REVIEW:

I was drawn to this book initially by the beautiful cover and once I read the blurb inside the cover, I knew this was a book I just had to read. After reading the small poem that starts the book, I was enchanted.

“Another year, another page.
A million moments melt away.
The ticking-tocking hands of time,
what’s found and lost, remains sublime.
The details that we hold so fast,
are nothing more than memories past.
For love is all that lingers true,
the bond that ties my heart to you.”
– Jann Arden (2013)

Jann Arden is a Canadian icon and the fact that she is now dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s Disease makes her seem less like an untouchable superstar and more like just another person of my generation who is dealing with aging parents. I can relate to her struggle.

Filled with gorgeous photography and touching moments, this book is one that everyone will want to read.

Jann may disagree, but her unflinching honesty and relentless positivity are inspiring. When discussing social media, she writes:

“Words are big. They define who you are. They are permanent… What you say is who you are. So try to be gentle on social media. Lift others up … Don’t always turn your words into weapons when you can just as easily make doves.”

She has articulated my exact feelings in a much more poetic and lyrical way than I ever could. I guess that’s why she is such an accomplished singer and songwriter.

The book is written in diary entry format beginning in June of 2014 with the final entry having been written in February of 2017. Jann has also included many of the recipes that she cooks for herself and her mother.

The recipes are written as if they had been noted down for you by a good friend after an enjoyable dinner party and yet they are also easy to follow and detailed enough that anyone and everyone should be able to recreate them in their own kitchen.

It would be impossible for me to rate this heartwarming and inspirational memoir as anything other than 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jann Arden’s latest book has kindled my interest in her, not only as a singer/songwriter, but also as an author and I plan to pick up her previous books as well. In short, BUY THIS BOOK – You will not be disappointed.

To see a terrific video interview where Jann Arden talks about this book, visit the CBC Website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

PHOTO BY: ALKAN EMIN

JANN ARDEN is a singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor, author and social media star. The celebrated multi-platinum, award-winning artist catapulted onto the music scene in 1993 with her debut album, Time for Mercy, featuring the hit single “I Would Die for You.” A year later she had her international break-out hit, “Insensitive.”

She has written three books, the most recent being the #1 bestselling memoir Falling Backwards.

She is much in demand as a public speaker, and a favourite frequent guest on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report and a guest host on CTV’s The Social.

To learn more about this Jann Arden, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

SPOTIFY

YOUTUBE

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ONE OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS BOOK:

“The cliché is that we are supposed to live our lives in ‘gratitude.’ But gratitude is not something you acquire like a Happy Meal from McDonalds. It’s something you have to slowly create in your daily life through intention and sincere acts of goodness and kindness.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This book is also part of a Reading Challenge that is being hosted by GINGERMOM READS BLOG where I have committed to reading at least one book title from every letter of the alphabet in 2018. It is the #2018AtoZChallenge

THINGS SHE COULD NEVER HAVE by Tehmina Khan is a story collection featuring characters who are usually ignoredin modern literature. It’s a MUST READ!

Title: THINGS SHE COULD NEVER HAVE

Author: TEHMINA KHAN

Genre: FICTION, SHORT STORY COLLECTION, LGBTQ, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, DIVERSITY, CANADIAN LITERATURE

Length: 121 PAGES

Publisher: MAWENZI HOUSE

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: OCTOBER 2017

ISBN: 978-1-988449-14-2

Price: $20.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Accomplished, sensitive, and often disturbing, these stories take us into the lives of modern Pakistanis—privileged and poor, gay, trans, and straight, men and women, in Karachi and Toronto.

“Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber.

In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque.

“Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi.

“Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind.

“The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan.

These and other stories link us into the complexities of a sometimes troubled and often misrepresented Muslim society.

MY REVIEW:

I am aware that the stories contained within this wonderfully written collection are fiction, but it is all too easy to see that they contain at least a degree of truth.

First-time author TEHMINA KHAN has crafted tales that are so believable that you will find yourself wondering if some of them are actually non-fiction. This is the mark of a truly talented writer.

In the story, BORN ON THE FIRST OF JULY, parents of a Canadian born young woman are shocked when she leaves to join ISIS. They “…become news junkies… [and] scour the internet for news on ISIS, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.” “For us, she dies again and again. She is reborn again and again. There is nothing as cruel as hope.” She has taken a topic that is taboo and somehow made it relatable. Great job!

All of the stories in this collection are wonderfully written and will entrance the reader. This book was impossible to put down and I found myself thinking about each of the tales, long after I finished reading them.

Tehmina Khan has given a voice to those people whom modern day literature shuns and ignores. From transgender youth to Muslim women, readers are sure to read about characters they might otherwise never encounter. It is story collections like this one that are necessary now more than ever before.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I highly recommend it. Tehmina Khan may be new to the publishing world, but I am sure we will be hearing more about her in the near future.

*Thank you to Mawenzi House Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tehmina Khan was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and holds degrees from Kinnaird College, Lahore, and Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales de Tunis.

She has her home in Toronto, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a cat. She is currently working on a novel.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

BLOG

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

GOOGLE PLUS

PICTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Mawenzi House is dedicated to bringing to the reading public fresh new writing from Canada and across the world that reflects the diversity of our rapidly globalizing world, particularly in Canada and the United States.

Our focus is on works that can loosely be termed “multicultural” and particularly those that pertain to Asia and Africa. We publish 6-8 titles of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (literary criticism, history) per year.

Among our achievements: we have played a role in the formulation of the Indo-Caribbean identity through the publication of several ground-breaking titles; we have kept in print books by major Caribbean writers Sam Selvon, Ismith Khan, and John Stewart; we have published provocative and perceptive social and literary critical works by Arnold Itwaru, Arun Prabha Mukherjee, Chelva Kanaganayakam, and others; the introduction of the important Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera; the first historical and critical study of Chinese Canadian writing in English; the first anthologies of South Asian Canadian literature, South Asian Canadian women’s poetry, Chinese Canadian stories, and South Asian Canadian and American women’s fiction.

HISTORY

In 1981, a group of young people, who had been in North America for just over a decade, decided to take the plunge and start the magazine they had always dreamed about as students, at a time in which Naipaul had to be ordered from bookstores, let alone Narayan or Ngugi or Soyinka. The result was The Toronto South Asian Review, which later became the much broader-based The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad and helped entrench a generation of new writers. As an offshoot of this literary magazine, in 1985 TSAR Publications published its first title, a book of essays on South Asian Canadian literature, followed by a book of poetry by Sri Lankan Canadian Rienzi Crusz. Mawenzi House finally emerged, a uniquely diverse and knowledgeable publishing house based in Canada. (“Mawenzi” is the name of the second peak of Kilimanjaro.)

To learn more about Mawenzi House, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

***This book is part of my #2018AtoZChallenge on Ginger Mom’s Blog***

ALL INCLUSIVE by Farzana Doctor is a phenomenal read.

Title: ALL INCLUSIVE

Author: FARZANA DOCTOR

Genre: FICTION

Length: 294 PAGES

Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Release Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781459731813

Price: $22.99 CDN (SOFTCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A story about one all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, and the tragedies we can’t forget.

What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of having to see them again.

Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her, and they both must come to terms with the reason why he abandoned her.

A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and death, and reminds us that love is neither easily lost nor found.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

MY REVIEW:

ALL INCLUSIVE was released in 2015 and won the Kobo Best Book of the Year — Canadian Favourites Category; a wonderful achievement.

Canadian author Farzana Doctor also won the NOW Magazine Best Author of 2015. Upon reading ALL INCLUSIVE, I can certainly see why it won so many awards.

The subject matter of ALL INCLUSIVE firmly places it in 18+ readership category.

The main character is Ameera who has a white mother and a Middle Eastern father, a father she has never met and knows almost nothing about.

The narration of the tale swaps between two points of view. One is Ameera’s and the other is that of her father, Azeez.

Despite never having met, Ameera and Azeez are connected. Ameera decides to search for him at the same time as he begins to search for her.

The main story is about Ameera and her job at an All-inclusive resort. Someone is trying to sabotage her and the promotion she thought she had in the bag.

While trying to figure out who is out to get her and why, there is an entire other story happening which is just as complicated as the main storyline, maybe even more so.

With vividly realistic characters and descriptions that will paint brilliant pictures in the reader’s mind, ALL INCLUSIVE is a delightful read. Readers will feel immersed in the story and feel sad when the book ends – they will not want to stop reading. It’s a good thing that Farzana Doctor has more books available because I do not believe it is possible after reading this book to not become an instant fan of hers. I know that I for one am hooked. I plan to read her novel SIX METRES OF PAVEMENT next.

I rate ALL INCLUSIVE as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

FARZANA DOCTOR was the WINNER of the NOW Magazine Best Author of 2015.

Farzana Doctor is the author of Stealing Nasreen and Six Metres of Pavement, which won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award.

Farzana is one of CBC BooksTen Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now and the recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant.

She co-curates the Brockton Writers Series and lives in Toronto.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

CBC BOOKS

FRED’S FUNERAL by SANDY DAY is a fascinating tale of one man who returned from WWI only to be locked up in an insane asylum for “Shell Shock”

Title: FRED’S FUNERAL

Author: SANDY DAY

Genre: FICTION

Length: 114 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 2, 2017

ISBN: 9781979556163

Price: $22 CDN for an autographed book through the author’s website.

Price: Ebook $2.99 CDN

Price: Softcover for $14.95

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:
(From the Back Cover)

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

MY REVIEW:

FRED’S FUNERAL is based on a true story. The details came from the letters, journals and recollections of the author’s Uncle Fred who, like the title character, fought in World War One and returned as a changed man.

This story begins upon Fred’s death in a Nursing Home. Fred finds himself floating above what was bed for years. He watches as his brother’s widow paws through his most cherished mementos. Fred is not happy about this since he never could stand Viola, and he never understood what his brother saw in the shrewish woman.

Fred finds that he is stuck between death and heaven and is somehow tied to his estranged family. He floats, invisible, to his own funeral and the reception afterward.

The rest of Fred’s relatives are eager to learn more about this Uncle they never knew and it is Viola who begins to tell the tale of Fred’s life.

Fred’s time as a soldier in World War One had a profound affect on him and after being home from the war for several years and not meeting his father’s expectations, Fred’s family has him involuntarily admitted to the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, also known as Ontario’s Hospital for the Insane.

The above pictures are from the website Invisible Threads

This hospital actually existed. It was constructed between 1913 and 1916 to serve as a military convalescent hospital for soldiers wounded in the First World War. The hospital was considered a model of mental health care for its era. However, patients like Fred were forced to undergo treatments that we know now as cruel and barbaric such as shock treatment.

The more readers learn about Fred and his life, the more they will be forced to think about how veterans have been treated in the past, and how they are treated today. It will also bring awareness to mental health issues which is much needed.

Did Fred actually have “Shell Shock?” (What was once called Shell Shock is now know as PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) We, as a society, are only just now beginning to recognize and treat PTSD sufferers with the dignity they deserve. But, we still have a long way to go to completely remove the stigma that is wrongfully attached to mental health issues. To learn more about PTSD, visit CMHA – The Canadian Mental Health Association.

The story jumps around in time, which I normally am averse to, but in this case it actually works.

FRED’S FUNERAL contains a mere 114 pages which makes it an ideal weekend read. I was so absorbed in the story that I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good family drama with a dose of history thrown in. In fact, this little book really packs a punch when you consider just how many topics and timelines are contained within.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sandy Day is a recovering chatterbox living in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy then took 20 years off from writing to run a gift store and raise a family. Now relationship-free and un-self-employed she finally has time to write and publish.

Sandy is a trained volunteer facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and writing teacher who sells dog halters on the side. Tech savvy, a born marketer, entrepreneurial, and a big picture thinker, Sandy is a dedicated indie author, publisher, and book coach.

If you enjoy Sandy’s writing please sign up on the email list – she promises to write. Contact her via her website.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

SMASHWORDS

WALK IT OFF by RUTH MARSHALL

Title: WALK IT OFF

Subtitle: The true (and oddly hilarious) story of how I learned to stand, walk, pee, run, and even have sex again, after a nightmarish diagnosis turned my perfectly awesome life upside down

Author: RUTH MARSHALL

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTO-BIOGRAPHY

Length: 257 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Release Date: JANUARY 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7362-2

Price: $26.00 CDN / $21.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

First off, let me say that I ADORE the title of this book. I generally am averse to book covers with long subtitles, however this book would not have caught my eye without it.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) from GOODREADS and I am very glad I did.

This memoir chronicles one woman’s journey to find out what was causing the bizarre symptoms she was experiencing, through diagnosis, surgery, rehab and beyond.

I suppose I should tell potential readers right away that this is NOT a self-help book. Instead, it is the unflinchingly honest memoir of a woman who goes from leading something closely akin to a charmed life, to discovering that no life is perfect.

I have never met Ruth Marshall, but after reading her story, I feel confident in stating that she is an amazing woman. This is not due to the fact that she is famous (or as famous as any Canadian television actress can be), nor is it because of her health issues. My opinion of Ruth as an amazing woman is based on her honesty.

It could not have been easy to chronicle her medical condition and her efforts at recovery, and yet she has done so while managing to be surprisingly honest. She does not shy away from the “icky” stuff. She talks about everything from poop to sex to shoes.

It’s human nature to want to ‘put your best foot forward’ (yes, pun intended) and to present yourself to the world as close to perfect as possible. However, if this memoir had been written that way, it would not have been authentic, nor would it have been such a compelling read.

Ruth has been able to tell her story in such a way that instead of pitying her, you find yourself following her journey with rabid interest.

You will want to cry at times, yet at others, you will be laughing along with her – and a few times you just might find yourself laughing at her antics.

It may not have been her intention, but this memoir also has lessons to teach us all. Firstly, even though Ruth looked perfectly healthy and happy, she was struggling with a wide variety of symptoms. Not yet diagnosed, and working at a voice acting gig, Ruth says: “I was able to stand for the entire voice session, ignoring the temptation to rest on the stool behind me. Neither the producer nor my voice partner seemed to notice the effort it took for me to remain perfectly upright, making me wonder for the thousandth time: If no one else was noticing, was anything wrong with me.”

This is something that many people struggle with. But, as Ruth proved, it is important to listen to your body and to be your own healthcare advocate. Do NOT ignore your symptoms.

By all accounts, Ruth Marshall is a terrific actress, but I believe she was always meant to be an author.

Judging by the readability of WALK IT OFF, I am sure others will agree. This memoir is destined to become a Bestseller and I would bet money that Ruth Marshall’s name will be on literary lips everywhere in 2018.

I rate WALK IT OFF: THE TRUE (AND ODDLY HILARIOUS) STORY OF HOW I LEARNED TO STAND, WALK, PEE, RUN, AND EVEN HAVE SEX AGAIN, AFTER A NIGHTMARISH DIAGNOSIS TURNED MY PERFECTLY AWESOME LIFE UPSIDE DOWN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old and have been one since I was twenty-five. My career has been notable for three reasons: I got naked in my first film role; I was in a television series with Billy Ray Cyrus; and for eight seasons I played a Mom on the Canadian teen drama DEGRASSI. The biggest chunk of my career, however, has been made up of commercial voice work. My voice has sold everything from Ikea kitchens to condoms.”

Ruth Marshall was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is known for her work on Casino Jack (2010), Doc (2001) and Dolores Claiborne (1995).

She graduated with a degree in English from McGill University in Montreal and then returned to her hometown of Toronto to pursue a career in acting.

Ruth Marshall made her feature film debut in the lead role of Candy in Love and Human Remains.

Marshall is also a stage actor and was critically acclaimed for her one-woman performance in 4 Letters, 5 Years, which she wrote, produced and starred in.

In 1994, Marshall took on the role of Celeste in Transit of Venus at the Globe Theater in Canada. In addition to her career as an actor, Marshall is also a very accomplished voice actor as well.

Features & TV Movies:
Love & Human Remains (1993)
TekWar: TekJustice (TV-1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Waiting for Michelangelo (1996)
Too Close to Home (TV-1997)
Half a Dozen Babies (TV-1999)
Dogmatic (1999)
Apparent Woes (2006)
Baby Blues (2007)
Daniel`s Daughter (TV-2008)
Degrassi Spring Break Movie (TV-2008)
Casino Jack (2010)

TV Series – Cast:

Wild C.A.T.S. (voice, 1994)
Doc (2001-2004)
The Path to 9/11 (mini-series, 2006)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2007-)
Flashpoint (2008-2009)
TV Series – Guest appearances:
F/X: The Series (1997)
Power Play (1998)
This is Wonderland (2004)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2005)
Puppets Who Kill (2006)
Love You to Death (2007)
Friends and Heroes (voice, 2007)
The Dating Guy (2009)
She’s the Mayor (2011)
The Listener (2011)
The Firm (2012)
Rookie Blue (2012)

To learn more about Ruth Marshall and her new career as an author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

NORTHERN STARS – CANADA’S CELEBRITY DATABASE

INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE

GOODNIGHT HOCKEY FANS by Canadian ANDREW LARSEN is a wonderful children’s book – 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: GOODNIGHT, HOCKEY FANS 

Author: ANDREW LARSEN    

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION

Length: 32 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS    
Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY       

Release Date: OCTOBER 3, 2017  

ISBN: 9781771381055

Price: $18.99 CDN – HARDCOVER

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 
DESCRIPTION:  

A young boy doesn’t want to go to bed. The hockey game is on! “What if I can’t fall asleep?” the boy says. “Don’t worry,” says his dad. “You will.” After his parents have tucked him in and turned out the light, he shines a flashlight on his prized hockey possessions around his room: the posters of his favorite players, the pennant for his favorite team, the puck. Then he decides to listen to the game on his bedside radio, which he places under his pillow. With the familiar drone of the announcer’s voice for company, the boy drifts off to sleep. He dreams he has joined his favorite team on the ice — where he scores the winning goal! And the boy smiles as the announcer exclaims, “What a play! What a goal! What a game!” Award-winning author Andrew Larsen’s simple yet evocative story sets just the right tone for the youngest children, who can relate to the boy’s disappointment about missing the exciting nighttime game and his fears that he won’t be able to fall asleep. Jacqui Lee’s illustrations in soothing greens and blues are done in a wonderful blend of nostalgic and contemporary styles that suit the story’s timelessness. This book provides all of the appeal of the perfect bedtime story: the reassurance of caring parents tucking the boy in and then coming back later to check on him, the bedtime routine, the atmospheric winter night outside while it’s cozy and snug inside, and the promise of dreams come true.   

REVIEW

I have to admit that I have a positive bias toward children’s books that are about hockey. As a proud Canadian who also happens to have male children, hockey was a huge part of our lives for many years.

Anyway, with that said, I enjoyed both the story and the illustrations in this book. I think that kids can never have enough hockey titles in their library. I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Andrew Larsen is the acclaimed author of such books as Goodnight, Hockey Fans, A Squiggly Story, The Not-So-Faraway Adventure, In the Tree House and The Imaginary Garden. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS 

TWITTER     

FACEBOOK        

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS  


PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE 


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

JACQUI LEE is a graphic designer and the illustrator of I Am Josephine (And I Am a Living Thing), Taffy Time and the Murilla Gorilla series for young readers. Jacqui currently lives in London, England.

To learn more about this Illustrator, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

TWITTER  

TUMBLR

INSTAGRAM 

AMAZON  


AWARDS

– 2014 Canadian Toy Testing Council Recommended Read Murilla Gorilla: Jungle Detective
– 2013 Ontario Library Association Best Bets for Children Murilla Gorilla: Jungle Detective
– 2012 Applied Arts Illustration Awards The 400 Blows
– 2011 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition Roots General Store (In Show)
– 2011 Applied Arts Student Awards The Jules Verne Collection
– 2011 Applied Arts Student Awards The Jelly Bean
– 2011 Applied Arts Student Awards The Sandwich with Britny Samuelson
– 2011 Applied Arts Student Awards The Story of Joseph-Armand Bombardier


EXHIBITIONS

– 2014 It’s A Jungle Out There ?! The Ledge Gallery, Calgary, AB
– 2012 On The Move Collage Collage, Vancouver, BC
– 2012 SHAPE JAM (with Jenn Kitagawa & Co), Hashtag Gallery, Toronto, ON
– 2011 The Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition Exhibit – Museum of American Illustration, New York, NY

Visit Jacqui’s page on WORKING, NOT WORKING 

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

Kids Can Press is the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher. Its catalogue includes an award-winning list of over 600 picture books, nonfiction and fiction titles for young readers, including the worldwide bestselling Franklin the Turtle, Scaredy Squirrel and CitizenKid series.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK      

INSTAGRAM     

PINTEREST   

YOUTUBE  
  

F.O.L.D. BOOK BASH was terrific – Check out the amazing and diverse authors, poets and publishers I met on Saturday.



F.O.L.D. stands for FESTIVAL OF LITERARY DIVERSITY 

Today at City Hall in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, FOLD hosted the 2017 Book Bash. 

WHAT IS A FOLD BOOK BASH?

  • A one-day book market designed to give authors and book selling organizations a space to promote their books. 
  • A chance for the community to learn about books written by local authors
  • The ability for consumers to learn about and to purchase multicultural books that reflect the diversity of the city and  country in which they live
  • A chance to meet the authors of those books and to have them autographed 
  • As well as the chance to listen to authors read from, and talk about their books. 

    FOLD is the first and only literary festival in Canada to focus on diverse authors and stories.

    The first Festival of Literary Diversity was held in May 2016 and included more than 25 unique sessions held over three days with over thirty of Canada’s most exciting authors.

    Mark your calendars for May 3rd to May 5th, 2018 for the next Festival. There will be quite a few authors and publishers with many different sessions to choose from.

    CHECK IT OUT – YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID. 

    AUTHORS I MET ON SATURDAY  & SOME AMAZING BOOKS YOU NEED TO OWN


    #1. 

    JAEL RICHARDSON 


    Jael Richardson
     is one busy woman. Besides being the Founder and Creative Art Director of the Festival of Literary Diversity, she is also an author in her own right.

    Her book THE STONE THROWER: A DAUGHTER’S LESSON, A FATHER’S LIFE is a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The memoir received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Acclaim Award and a My People Award as an Emerging Artist and was adapted into a children’s book in 2016. 

    To learn more about Jael, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

    GOODREADS          

    TWITTER    

    FACEBOOK          

    INSTAGRAM        

    CHAPTERS              

    This is me with Jael at the 2017 FOLD Book Bash

    #2. 

    DEJA BEALS has been writing poetry since the age of sixteen. She finds her inspiration for her poetry in family, friends and everyday experiences.  

    DĖJA BEALS has been writing poetry since the age of 16. You would never know that during those early writing days, her poetry was filled with incorrect grammar. Now, like Déja herself, her writing has matured and
     developed. Her work has blossomed to include a range of topics such as love, faith and everyday experiences.

    Déja finds her poetic inspiration in family, friends and her daily experiences.

    She is known for her silly moments, big laugh and even bigger heart. She has been said to have wisdom beyond her years and uncanny insight which adds depth to her writing. She is currently living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    To learn more about this author visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

    DÉJA’S OFFICIAL BLOG     

    GOODREADS      

    TWITTER     

    FACEBOOK     

    INSTAGRAM    


    AMAZON          

    DISCOVERING DIVERSITY PUBLISHING    

    3, 4 and 5.

    I met these three very gracious and amazing women at the FOLD Brampton Book Bash. 

    About the multitalented Catherine Graham – Not only has she written the fiction novel QUARRY but she is also only days away from the launch off her new poetry collection THE CELERY FOREST which is being published by Wolsak and Wynn

    Author and Poet – CATHERINE GRAHAM

    QUARRY is a fictional story set in Southern Ontario during the 1980s. Only child Caitlin Maharg lives with her parents beside a water-filled limestone quarry, but her idyllic upbringing collapses when she learns her mother is dying. After a series of family secrets emerge, Caitlin must confront the past and face her uncertain future. 

    THE CELERY FOREST      

    Like Wonderland or Oz, Neverland or Narnia, The Celery Forest is an extraordinary world filled with strange creatures and disorienting sights. But the doorway to the Celery Forest is not a rabbit hole or an old wardrobe. The doorway is an MRI. For poet and novelist Catherine Graham, this is the topsy-turvy world she found herself in after learning she had breast cancer.

         More than a survivor’s tale, these poems are a map through unknowable terrain, infused with awareness and forgetting, written by a poet with the visionary ability to distill our sense of wonder into something we can hold.
    TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CATHERINE GRAHAM, VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINKS: 

    To learn more about this author visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

    GOODREADS 

    TWITTER   

    FACEBOOK    

    INSTAGRAM      

    AMAZON       


    CHAPTERS         

         
    #4.  

    Publisher & Author Alexander Leggett  

    CEO and Founder of Two Wolves Press, Alexandra Leggat is the author of the novel The Incomparables as well as several other published works. 

    Alexandra started Two Wolves  Press as a way to nurture talent without compromise  – to work closely with Two Wolves writers to follow and trust their intuition and publish “instinctual fiction”. 

    Two Wolves Press publishes Catherine Graham’s novel QUARRY and
    Aileen Santos’ SOMEONE LIKE YOU.

    To learn more about this Publisher and author, visit the following links:
     
    OFFICIAL WEBSITE   


    GOODREADS     

    TWITTER   

    FACEBOOK        

    INSTAGRAM      

    AMAZON     

    CHAPTERS       

    MORE INFO COMING IN MY NEXT BLOG POST. 


    AMAZING Children’s Book ROW BOT by B.A. Knowles – A 5 Star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Must Read

    Title: ROW BOT          

    Author: B.A. KNOWLES    

    Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION

    Length: 27 PAGES  

    Publisher: MacINTYRE PURCELL PUBLISHING INC.      

    Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

    Received From: THE AUTHOR

    Release Date: APRIL 5, 2017 

    ISBN: 978-1-77276-040-8

    Price: $14.95 CAD

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

    REVIEW:

    “It is not every day you meet a rowboat-rowing Row Bot (say that three times fast), but here he is.”

    This Canadian children’s book is pure entertainment for young and old.

    The word play that starts with the title: ROW BOT (as in Robot) continues throughout the book and will delight both parents and children alike.

    The target readership for this book is children aged 4 to 6 years old, but it is my belief that children of all ages will fall in love with ROW BOT, just like I have.

    Through imaginative rhymes and alliteration, author B.A. Knowles has created a fantastic story where the illustrations tell as much of the story as the words do.

    There is also an important lesson buried inside the fun of the story which is something everyone should learn. What is it? Well, you will need to purchase a copy of your own to find out.

    I rate this wonderfully written and impressively illustrated book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

    With the holiday season fast approaching, parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and even Santa’s elves will be out shopping for gifts. ROW BOT should be on everyone’s list. In fact, I think it would be the perfect gift not only for the children in your life, but also for their primary school  teachers.

    If all the details I have listed above are still not enough to make you want to run out and buy this book, let me give you about one last incentive. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will support the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation. 

    This Foundation is leading efforts to protect, enhance and restore our ecosystem through research, education and action on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. 


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR / ILLUSTRATOR: 

    After completing a science degree at Dalhousie University, B.A. Knowles‘ career path led her around the globe and back again.

    She lives along a dirt road overlooking the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and just a stone’s throw from where she first spied the Riverport Row Bot.

    She now draws (literally) inspiration and motivation from her husband and two young sons, their family exploits, and all the rhymes a tub full of dirty dishes can evoke.

    To learn more about this author / illustrator visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

    GOODREADS     

    FACEBOOK     

    INSTAGRAM     
      

    AMAZON     

    CHAPTERS    
        

    COMING EVENT – Attend the Toronto Book Launch of THE TORONTO BOOK OF THE DEAD on Friday, September 15th at 7.30pm – FREE ADMISSION 

    Friday, September 15, 2017 – 7:30 PM

    Book Launch: Toronto Lit Up

    Spacing Store

    401 Richmond Street West
    Toronto M5V 3A8

    Cost: FREE

    IFOA and Dundurn Press invite you to the release of The Toronto Book of The Dead by Adam Bunch as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

    bunch-adam-the-toronto-book-of-the-dead-2

    “Toronto has witnessed countless lives lived and lost as it grew from a muddy little frontier town into a booming metropolis of concrete and glass. The Toronto Book of the Dead tells the tale of the ever-changing city through the lives and deaths of those who made it their final resting place.”

    15-dundurn

     

     


    Toronto Lit Up is a three year initiative, spearheaded by the Toronto Arts Council and IFOA, designed to spotlight Toronto’s writers and empower local artists with career-building opportunities.

    toronto-lit-up-logo-magenta-2Toronto Arts CouncilPrint


    Participants

    • Adam Bunch

      Adam Bunch

      Adam Bunch is the creator of The Toronto Dreams Project, and has written about the history of the city for Spacing Magazine, Torontoist and the Huffington Post. In 2012, he earned an honourable mention for a Governor General’s History Award. Adam lives in Toronto.