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Book Reviews

Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon - Delicious!

Okay, so I am slightly biased. I admit it. I have a story in this deliciously inviting book, HOT APPLE  CIDER WITH CINNAMON.  But, seriously, you have to admit she's a pretty girl with her lemon yellow frock. The subtitle - Stories of Finding Love in Unexpected  Places, follows through on its promise. I'm in the middle of soaking up these stories and believe me, your emotions will be stirred. 

My story, Old Ladies' Perfume, on page 145, was an honour to write. I did it as a loving tribute to 'me Mum' who, bless her soul, is not here to read it herself and tell me off. Although it's a story with humour [she was a funny girl] and shared shenanigans [she did some crazy things], it is also a tale of the life lessons that my mother passed on to me. I shed a few tears as I penned my story. I sure do miss my mother. She would really like this book. 

HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON is a great book filled with so many different stories guaranteed to warm the heart. I love the way our trusty, patient editor, NJ Lindquist outlined the stories in her introduction. "Some are amusing, some serious, some plain and straightforward, some intricate and thought provoking. Some will make you cry, some will make you laugh, some might even make you angry. No two are alike, even though their themes may be similar. Some will resonate with you as you read them now. Some will come to life for you years from now when an experience you've had suddenly lets you see what the author was talking about. . ."

I am excited to share HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON with others. This 100% Canadian literary delicacy with 61 excellent stories will take you to a quiet place and remind you that simple acts of love can make a lifetime of difference. 

Wanna' join me on the reading journey?


LOVE REBEL - Reclaiming Motherhood. (Book Review)

Love Rebel - Reclaiming Motherhood, an anthology written by five moms who blog, had me nodding and smiling. It’s not a long read, but cuddled between the pages are some passionate stories filled with love, challenges and downright honest recollections of what motherhood is all about.
Anna Eastland, Monique LeBlanc, Bonnie Way, Monique Les & Melanie Jean Juneau team up with editor, Roberta Cottam and designer, Laura Wrubleski to put together this book of encouragement and blessings for those who have ever had the privilege of being called ‘Mom’ (or who are looking forward to that day!)
As I was reading, I started jotting down notes – joy phrases; sage advice; brilliant quotes. I was barely halfway through before I realized I had almost two full pages.  Something rings true as each author ushers me into her life. Perhaps it is the vulnerability and the frankness of the authors.  The stories are all different yet share a common thread -mothers are vessels for the miracle of life. A good reminder to our society where motherhood is too often considered secondary or not as important as career and climbing the corporate ladder.
I think Bonnie Way said it best – “As I gave myself permission to just be a mom, all the little daily tasks of motherhood became a joy, instead of a chore.”
Each powerful story of love focusses on how ‘children are not merely bodies to be cared for.’ I love the part where Anna Eastland stresses that children are emerging intellects; budding souls; creative spirits.  Anna also relays the heartbreaking story of losing her little girl right after she was born. She asks God why He broke her heart in two. She felt Him answer: “To make it bigger.”
Then there are stories of octogenarian relationships that turn into valuable lessons all around; tales of toilet brushes, the sharing of chores, the blessing of baby shoes, a 5’1” 104 pound mother of nine who learns the true meaning of motherly love and how a hard of hearing momma’ adjusts thanks to a healthy dose of humour, a ton of patience and through the love of a supportive family and friends.
Like a little sprinkling of stardust, Love Rebel – Reclaiming Motherhood has tucked between stories,  dashes of poignant poetry and  measures of delightful quotes straight from the hearts of our moms’ children. What fun.
I’m thinking that Love Rebel – Reclaiming Motherhood, is a book that can easily be read over and over (and over).  A breath of fresh air.


Lest We Forget these Children

     Stirring and incredibly revealing, Rose McCormick Brandon's book, "Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children," challenged my emotions. Sometimes I wanted to cry. Sometimes my anger at the cruelty of people made me speak out loud. Other times I felt so sorry for the children who were dropped off at the homes for disadvantaged children and then sent to Canada not knowing what to expect. I had heard a little of the Dr. Bernado homes, but this book and the stories contained therein beckoned me in and shone a light on the plight of so many helpless children. Many children who were sent from the homes in England to Canada expected a better life. Some stories were filled with happy experiences, but more often than not, children were signed on as indentured servants; some seemed just as slaves. Some encountered abuse at the hand of the very people who had supposedly agreed to give them a better life in Canada. The voices are real in this book. There are authentic and treasured photographs of children which makes these stories even more alive.

     The British Home Children, through their suffering and their bravery, have contributed greatly to the history of Canada. Their voices need to be heard and their stories need to be told. Rose McCormick Brandon manages to do that very well in this book. Her empathetic heart and sensitivity to the human condition and what so many children endured over so many years, is remarkable. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic and I actually would love to see this book as required reading in schools - nothing like learning history straight from the heart.rite your post here.

Little Copper Pennies for Kids - Review

     As I read Susan Harris's picture book -Little Copper Pennies for Kids, I soon discover that it's not only for kids. What I mean is that while the format is certainly appealing to children the information contained within the colourfully, inviting pages brings back memories for me of those bygone 'penny days.'
     The whimsically appealing pictures created by illustrator, Mark Sexton, draw me in and as I flip page after page, nostalgia takes over. "Penny for your thoughts." "A penny saved is a penny 
earned." "Find a penny, pick it up and all the days you'll have good luck..." The rhythmical reminders of my childhood scurry by. Interspersed between the delightful pages of Little Copper Pennies for Kids are interesting facts and historical details about the now out of circulation coin. 
     I have a feeling Susan Harris's book might just be around for a long time - not just because of its great entertainment value but because it is an excellent resource for children (or anyone else) who might want to delve deeper and discover all sorts of interesting penny trivia, facts and even a few penny challenges. 
     The Canadian penny was removed from circulation on February 4th, 2013, but because of well written and popular books like Little Copper Pennies for Kids,the little copper coin lives on!

My Two Cents on Little Copper Pennies by Susan Harris

Little Copper Pennies by Susan Harris is a celebration, commemoration and for me, oft-times a revelation, all wrapped up in one informative yet entertaining package.

Cleverly, Susan manages to take an unremarkable coin and make me care. A mere penny, when you think about it, is naught to get excited about but Susan's creative chapters in Little Copper Pennies beckons me to keep reading and to keep learning. 

Who knew that in 1911, pennies became known as the 'Godless coin' because during the reign of King George V, the phrase Dei Gratia (by the Grace of God) was removed from the penny? Eventually the words were added back due to a public outcry. 

Never heard of rubbing pennies in loose sand with the heel of your shoe to bring back the shine? How about that 1936 Dot Cent that was auctioned off in 2010 for $400,000?

Little Copper Pennies is full of such interesting anecdotes and each chapter ends with fascinating Penny Facts and entertaining and equally challenging Penny Fun. 

Since the Canadian penny is no longer produced and has been taken out of circulation, this book is a fitting tribute. I particularly appreciate the Eulogy toward the end of the book and I can't help feeling nostalgic and even a little bit sad as Susan reflects and summarizes what a precious treasure the little copper coin has been to Canadians over the years. 

Since the usefulness of the copper coin has been declared to be naught, and its demise has been obvious, it's good to have Susan Harris's book - Little Copper Pennies on hand to remind us and to help us remember and recollect our own private memories of the wee cent. 

Susan bids au revoir to the penny but her book will journey on for a very long time. Little Copper Pennies is a delightful read, a handy reference and a book that will definitely give readers an opportunity to contemplate their own relationship with the penny. 

Destiny's Hands - Review

    Violet Nesdoly’s first novel, Destiny’s Hands, is described as a work of fiction. However the wealth of biblical truths interwoven throughout made me feel like I had stepped inside the pages of scripture. For four hundred years the Israelites were in bondage under Egyptian rule. When the Hebrew Moses appeared suddenly on the scene and promised to free the slaves, the whole country was thrown into chaos as the ten plagues pervaded the land. The manner in which Nesdoly relays the course of events is spell binding and effectual. 

     Bezalel, a young, skilled and gifted goldsmith, ‘just knew’ from an early age that his hands were to ultimately bring glory to God. As the central, intriguing character, Bezalel shifts from being a highly regarded worker creating beautiful trinkets and precious, golden idols under Pharoah - to nomad. The life changing decision that Bezalel initially made, did not come without cost. Because of Moses’ promise to free the people, and Bezalel’s struggle to understand Yahweh’s plan, an incredible journey and intriguing, relatable story unfolds. Bezalel is tempted and tried. He is pressed upon to make decisions and when his loyalty to his people is tested, his choice is clear.  

     The inviting cover and beguiling title of, Destiny’s Hands, initially made me wonder if this might be a biblical romance of sorts.  Granted there were plenty of tender and intimate moments when the copper-haired Sabia appears on the scene. But the true adventure is realized as I journey with Bezalel and experience everything from the incredible parting of the Red Sea, to grumblings and groaning in the desert. Nesdoly has a way of weaving spiritual truth and challenges into the story. I even found myself wondering about how I use my own gifts to honour Yahweh.

     I would recommend this book as a wonderful summer read with one caveat – prepare to be consumed. I had trouble putting Destiny’s Hands down. I was riveted and even a little saddened as I turned the final page – that was until I saw the 13 discussion questions at the end of the book – what a great idea and challenging food for thought.