What a year 2014 has been…

I admit, it has been a whirlwind year 2014 has been.  A teenager, and 2 deaths in the family.

A week after my son had turned 16, his world and mine was turned upside down with the unexpected passing of his father.  A shock for anyone for sure.  We were kind of expecting it sooner rather than later.  Crass, I know but with his history of drug addiction, time I do not think was on his side.  He was a few months shy of turning 50.

After all the arrangements were taken care of, things started as least I thought would wind down, looking forward to Christmas and the New Year.

On December 26, 2014., My father had passed away in his sleep peacefully.  He was 83 years old and finally reunited with his wife – my mom, who  passed away suddenly back in 1984 at the age of 48.

Before dad passed away, I was getting my self synced to getting back into blogging.  I had made arrangements with a few different publishers about books and what I wanted to talk about.  Sadly, with all of this grieving it hasn’t materialized as of yet.  For that, I am deeply apologetic, and once the snow clears from the ground and the weather gets a bit warmer, I hope to be back in the saddle.  Maybe not as fast and furious as I have been in the past, but back in some capacity.  Blogging about something for sure.  Death and grieving knock you for a loop at times.  I am reading all of the books I receive, posting on GoodReads if you are on that site.  Just short and sweet – to the point and not embellishing anywhere I swear!

So, here is a picture of me and dad on my Wedding day to my son’s father way back in 1996.  My dad, so dapper he had his own tuxedo!
Keep us in your thoughts and prayers would you, it would be appreciated.
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RIP Dad, I love you.  Marcel Golec – April 29, 1931 – December 26, 2014.

Double Post – Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing HeartbeatsI’m doing a double post, because frankly,  one book doesn’t go without the other in this instance.  Jan-Philipp Sendker has a sequel of books that came out last January and the other just recently.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well Tempered Heart.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

A Well Tempered Heart – Almost ten years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Though she is a successful Manhattan lawyer, her private life is at a crossroads; her boyfriend has recently left her, and she is, despite her wealth, unhappy with her professional life. Julia is lost and exhausted.

One day, in the middle of an important business meeting, she hears a stranger’s voice in her head that causes her to leave the office without explanation. In the following days, her crisis only deepens. Not only does the female voice refuse to disappear, but it starts to ask questions Julia has been trying to avoid. Why do you live alone? To whom do you feel close? What do you want in life?

Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her two young sons to be child soldiers . This spirited sequel, like The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, explores the most inspiring and passionate terrain: the human heart.

A Well Tempered HeartThese books at first for me at least I didn’t think would appeal to me, since I’ve been finding it hard to read just about nothing in the genre.  But these two books have opened me to getting back to that genre.  Lately, I don’t know if it has or had to do anything about love/romance/or even that genre that has me off them, I haven’t been able to read anything except for thriller/action/suspense genre instead.  Even then it seems that if it doesn’t catch me right off the bat, Im off to find another in those genres that will hold my interest for more then an hour.

These books are like poetry.  A story within a story, where the main characters are entwined.  They have a connection they can both feel, but only one knows it and tells the tale in the first book.  When the story is told and the final part of the story revealed, do you understand how intricate their lives will become to one another.  How love between 2 people can span an entire lifetime.  Something that holds you back from giving everything in a current relationship, you leave to go back to that first one love that completes you, the one that started it all off.  It did hit a few instances for me in my real life, past and present.

The second book, there is something wrong in her life.  Something is talking to her in her mind that she either can’t or won’t let go.  Her job is suffering, her personal life is suffering.  She goes back to Burma to see what it is that is troubling her.  In the end of the book, you know that I don’t give out spoilers is one that will touch your heart.  In my case, it felt that there is a third book that needs to be written to have the storyline go fully and completely.  The pain and anguish of the characters, the situation they are in will transport you to the spot where everything happens, then leave you breathless wanting more.

I really enjoyed reading both books.  Maybe this will fill your heart with more, maybe they will make you want to throw them up against the wall.  I just think you should read them, and ponder the hidden messages that are inside the stories.  Maybe give you some sort or direction in which way you want to go if you are finding yourself in a rut or in a time where you need to make a change in your life – for the better.

Book OneBook TwoAuthor’s WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

 

REPOST – Inside Out Girl – Tish Cohen

Hi Everyone,

Right now, iTunes have Inside Out Girl as the Book of the Week, I loved it when it read it originally, so read my review and go and get it!  FOR FREE!!

Inside Out Girl is the story of a young girl Olivia, who has a non verbal learning disorder. Len is her father who has been raising her alone since her mother died in a car accident 5 years before.

NLD is when people cannot interpret physical clues, which means Olivia is a bit weird, harassed at school for being weird, and bullied.

Rachel is a single mother of two teenagers a boy and a girl, who continually test her boundaries. Being a publisher of a famous and well known magazine….Which is failing. And has a secret she’s kept to herself for 16 years.

As Rachel and Len meet, and beginning to date, the hi jinks of the children, not to mention Olivia getting lost in a mall, is a very heart wrenching, a real book. I just picked this book up from the library this afternoon, and just finished half an hour ago. I was literally engrossed entertained and sad at how the story develops, but yet there is a happy ending in the end.

I would absolutely love to see how in the end how things work out with the blended family. There are many important issues that need to be addressed when they happen or on the verge of happening in today’s hustle and bustle society. And being different doesn’t mean that you are a freak, or not worthy of friends. It just mean you are different and the need to be accepted as you are, instead of being judged as to what you are not.


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THE STOP – How the Fight For Good Food Transformed A Community and Inspired a Movement – Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis – BLOG TOUR

The StopIt began as a food bank. It turned into a movement.

In 1998, when Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, the little urban food bank was like thousands of other cramped, dreary, makeshift spaces, a last-hope refuge where desperate people could stave off hunger for one more day with a hamper full of canned salt, sugar and fat. The produce was wilted, and the packaged foods were food-industry castoffs—mislabelled products and misguided experiments that no one wanted to buy. For users of the food bank, knowing that this was their best bet for a meal was a humiliating experience.

Since that time, The Stop has undergone a radical reinvention. Participation has overcome embarrassment, and the isolation of poverty has been replaced with a vibrant community that uses food to build hope and skills, and to reach out to those who need a meal, a hand and a voice. It is now a thriving, internationally respected Community Food Centre with gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmers’ markets and a mission to revolutionize our food system. Celebrities and benefactors have embraced the vision because they have never seen anything like The Stop. Best of all, fourteen years after his journey started, Nick Saul is introducing this neighbourhood success story to the world.

 In telling the remarkable story of The Stop’s transformation, Saul and Curtis argue that we need a new politics of food, one in which everyone has a dignified, healthy place at the table. By turns funny, sad and raw, The Stop is a timely story about overcoming obstacles, challenging sacred cows and creating lasting change. – Publishers Website When I was asked to be a part of this blog tour, I had a few reasons for doing so – 1.  To see if a community can get together whether it be a low income or even your average middle class neighbourhood and actually make something of it.  2.  To see what I could do in my own community to help or encourage it to become one that it is proud of.  3.  To see if anyone in any community could work at it and become the best it could be.  I was not only inspired, I am in awe.

It is a personal story first, it drew me in as a lowly food bank in one of the low income neighbourhoods in Toronto was struggling.  The work was and is hard, that is one thing that won’t go away.  They needed committed community volunteers, a desire, the need was apparent, and the drive to achieve their dreams.  Did it work?  Of course it did, it is still working since Nick Saul become Executive Director of  The Stop in 1998 – 15 years he poured into a place where even the residents had given up, to make the immigrant community vibrant and flourishing once again.  They took back their neighbourhood, sure it had taken time, effort and probably much more then they dreamed possible.  I am sure that some wanted to give up, but in the end and as of today, it is a thriving part of the community – bringing people together, one person, one ethnicity at a time.  To share in learning something new, making new friends, coming together – even the children, the babies, the elderly, and the not yet born to enjoy a good meal.  Not something that came from a can – REAL FOOD when so many of the people who come to a food bank if you want to call it that to get something that they need in their time of hunger, loneliness, and gave the people to look forward to something, anything to be a part of something huge.

The real issue here is that sure, people nowadays are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  It just isn’t people who have low incomes, it is everyone.  I had a conversation the other week in the grocery store with a woman, about how the produce was so much smaller, but it is either the same price or even more then it was a year ago.   The sizes of just about everything in the grocery store are becoming smaller, yet the prices stay the same.  We all deserve to have good food, we live in one of the most bountiful countries in the world.  Even here in the Niagara Region where I live, there are still roadside stands where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables by just pulling over and dropping money into a jar and taking what you like.  I think that had to be the most favorite parts of living in the area.  Of course, you could also talk to your neighbours while doing so.  Catch up on what was or is going on with them, their families, the community.  I live in the best part of Canada – We produce just about everything from fruits and vegetables to VQA award winning wines.  What isn’t to love about this region?!?

The thing is that in the city where I live, the population is about 55,000, and there is 4-6 food banks where on a given day depending on which one you were at the week before, you can access all of them as far as I understand.  One week you could go to the Salvation Army, the next The Hope Centre which is just down the same street.  Get your fill of canned salt, fat, and carbohydrates and not much else.  We have a good food box program of course, for a family of 2 for $15 or a larger family $20 you receive from what I have heard a really nice array of fruits and vegetables either grown in the region during the growing season, or around the other areas of Southern Ontario.  Most are on social services here or disability, where I’m guessing some people don’t spend it as they should, and need to access these food banks either once in a while or frequently as the mood suits.  I was actually in one a few weeks ago, accessing other services, and I have to say it’s pretty depressing.  The clients were treated with respect, but what I got out of it was that they almost expected it to feed them for the entire month. – It doesn’t.  It doesn’t even come close.

We need to change, we need to gather everyone together, to make a better plan for everyone.  Not just Nick and Andrea who did this in Toronto – EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITIES rich or poor, healthy or sick need to come together and work at making it better for everyone.  Making it a community that everyone is proud to be a part of, to have healthy, non-processed, food that everyone can enjoy.  There are community gardens here, but on the other side of town.  What good does that do for the other side?  Nothing if you wanted to travel to garden.  We need to come together and make a plan, a solid plan to make sure our communities most vulnerable aren’t lacking.

I urge everyone to go and get this book.  Not just because you have to, but because you want to make change in your own communities.  The stats in the book are just scary for a country like ours that has our resources.  The “Food Bank” phenomenon was actually started in the USA, now they are starting them in Europe to see if it can work there.  We need to stop these, and have our communities together on a solution and not a stop-gap effort.  We should have started it decades ago, but I guess this is as good a time as any.  Read every morsel that this book has to give and start making dialogue in your own community – and if the nay sayers put up a fuss then work harder.  Get stubborn, get active and make your city or town better not worse.

People whether they are rich or poor have just as much worth.  We all have gifts that we can give to our community.  Lets get involved and make something of our gifts. If this neighbourhood in Toronto can do it, so can anyone else!  What will it take ?!?

Community Food Centers Canada – Twitter – The Learning NetworkFacebook

 

The Stop Blog Tour

A Murder of Crows – David Rotenberg – Blog Tour

murder of crowsDecker Roberts is back, and he always knows when you’re telling the truth.

David Rotenberg first introduced Decker Roberts and his unique gifts in the critically acclaimed thriller The Placebo Effect. Since Decker’s last run-in with the NSA, he’s been trying to remain off the radar, searching for his estranged son, Seth. Decker’s synaesthetic abilities, once a lucrative gift, are increasingly becoming a liability.

When a vicious attack wipes out the best and brightest of America’s young minds, devastating the country’s future, Decker is forced to step out of the shadows and help track down the killer. And as the hunt brings him in contact with other people of “his kind,” Decker begins to realize that there may be depths to his gifts that he had never even imagined.

Meanwhile, several parties are secretly tracking the progress of Decker’s son, trying to determine if Seth has the same powerful gift as his father. Decker is determined to go to any lengths to find his son, but along the way he will have to face down enemies, both old and new, as well as struggle with whether Seth even wants to be found.

David Rotenberg’s thrilling sequel to The Placebo Effect is full of suspense and will challenge what you think you know about people who have special “gifts.” From rural Africa to downtown Toronto, the paths of Rotenberg’s colourful characters intertwine as they move toward a conclusion that none of them can see coming. – Publisher’s Website

Decker is one frantic father.  When looking for his son, he’s in the middle of something else horrific that happens.  Can he get out of it, no.  In this second installment, Decker meets some other “special” people who have some of the same gifts he has, finds more about who and what his gifts entail.

I dove into this book as soon as I received it.  I wanted to know more about Decker, his friends – if they wanted to harm him or help him.  Right now, that is still up for debate, but in this second installment of the Junction Chronicles, I’m as deeply into it as I ever was before.  I for one want a happy ending, but with things going as they are, I am not sure.  The book ends at that pivotal point in the book where you all will go nooooooooo!! and wanting to know what happens.

We will have to wait until book three, probably next year to finally find out what exactly does happen with Decker, his son, and everyone else in the cast of characters of this nail-biting thriller/mystery.  I can’t wait!  Maybe I can bribe the publisher or the author for a peek…we shall see ha!

David’s WebsiteGoodreads David’s Acting Website – Reading Group Guide – Placebo Effect Review – Q and A with David

The Poisoned Pawn – Peggy Blair – BLOG TOUR

blair_poisonedpawn_pbWhen Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is dispatched to Canada and told to bring home a priest found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children, he knows his job will be hard enough. But it gets worse once he’s in Ottawa, and women in Havana start dropping dead from a mysterious toxin. Worried about his family, powerless to help pathologist Hector Apiro, and faced with the threat of a Canadian travel advisory that could shut down Cuban tourism, Ramirez tries focus on his mission. As he does, he untangles a web of deceit and depravity that extends all the way from the corridors of power in Ottawa to those of the Vatican, and uncovers a cold-blooded killer.

The Poisoned Pawn is the gripping, fast-paced sequel to the award-winning, critically acclaimed mystery The Beggar’s Opera. Evoking the crumbling beauty of Old Havana and featuring Inspector Ramirez, a man haunted by the victims of his unsolved cases, it’s perfect for fans of Donna Leon and Martin Cruz Smith who love exotic settings and unforgettable characters.  – Publisher’s Website

I really have to say, Peggy is getting better and better with her 2nd book in the Inspector Ramirez series.  She has penned a book that has everything tucked away in a concise and entertaining series.  Even though this book is set mostly in Canada, Inspector Ramirez’s mind is as clear as ever, even with the sub-zero temperatures.  He has more things up his sleeve during this investigation that I would have thought of, but he does it with class and grace.

Do not underestimate him!  I want the next book to come out already! My earlier review of Peggy’s first book is located here, so go and take a look.  Also, the Begger’s Opera is now available in the U.S., so if you live there, go and get yourself a copy and get ready to immerse yourself in Cuban Culture, and Mystery Writing at it’s finest.

Much Thanks to Peggy and Penguin Canada for allowing me to take part in the blog tour again.  Always looking forward to great new emerging Canadian Talent! I’m so happy to be able to bring this to you along with many, many more that I have loved.  So, go and get both books in the series if you haven’t read them, and the first in the U.S. and are new to Peggy’s work.  I can attest that you will not be disappointed in the least !

If you are looking for other view points on this book and her first, the blog tour isn’t finished yet.  You can go to these blogs and see what they had to say about Peggy’s newest work.

Feb 25 –  The Literary Word
Feb 26 –  Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
Feb 28 –  Just a Lil Lost
March 4 –  A Bookworm’s World
March 5 –  Serendipitous Readings  – That’s Here !
March 6 –  Literary Treats
March 7 – Thrifty Momma ’s Brainfood 

ExcerptPeggy on Twitter – Peggy’s Website Goodreads FacebookPeggy’s Blog – My review of The Beggar’s OperaQ&A w. Peggy