Stories 1 to 5 of 152

BOOKENDS REVIEW: They Left Us Everything (a memoir)

They Left Us Everything Plum Johnson Non-fiction (memoir) ABOUT THE BOOK: After both of Plum Johnson’s parents passed away, she and her brothers were left with a 23-room Oakville home full of more than 50 years of family history. The siblings come to accept that they can’t afford to keep the house, so they decide to put it on the market. But first, Johnson needs to sort through all the heirlooms and junk that has been collecting in the beautiful lakefront property over the decades. Along the way, she learns much more about her parents’ past, and reminisces about her childhood years.   Before she can let go of the historic home, she has to discover who her parents really were. Her biggest struggle is dealing with the resentment she felt while caring for elderly parents for two decades, and the guilt that came when they were gone. MY THOUGHTS: This is a great book for those of you who love ancestry. Everyone’s family history can be fascinating, as long as it’s told in a captivating way. And Johnson has succeeded in doing that.   She takes you along on a journey that is emotional, humorous, and candid. Johnson finds ... Read more

INTERVIEW: Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip writes personal memoir

Listen to the Squawking Chicken Elaine Lui Non-fiction, memoir INTERVIEW: Listen to my chat with Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip about her new book. Elaine talks about her decision to be as honest as possible in writing the memoir, and what her mom, the “Squawking Chicken,” thinks about what she wrote. ABOUT THE BOOK: Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip certainly has stories to tell about being raised by a mom that family and friends call the “Squawking Chicken.” Her mom’s unusual advice and life lessons have come in the form of ghost stories, “feng shui blackmail,” and public shame. She earned the nickname as she fought her way out of hard times in Hong Kong. It is because of her own experiences that she wanted to make sure her daughter was ready for life’s hardships. It wasn’t until Elaine was in her 20s that she says she realized how priceless her mom’s advice has been. MY THOUGHTS: Elaine Lui is entertainingly hilarious as she recalls memories of her childhood – everything from her mom’s pee jar, to waking up to her parents having sex. There are so many moments throughout the book that will make you cringe and laugh. But most of all, ... Read more

BOOKENDS REVIEW: The Ever After of Ashwin Rao

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao Padma Viswanathan Fiction SYNOPSIS: The story is set around the lives of the families of the passengers killed in the 1985 Air India bombing. Ashwin Rao is an Indian psychologist who has decided to write about how the victims’ family members were affected by the disaster and how they are grieving. He was trained in Canada and he comes back to interview those who lost husbands, wives and children. Two of the loved ones lost are a mother and son. Ashwin spends some time with the husband, Venkat, and a family friend, Seth. As Seth tries to help Venkat through his heartbreak, he himself struggles to understand the disaster and turns to a controversial guru for spiritual guidance. Ashwin, meanwhile, is forced to confront his own sorrow – he also lost a sister, nephew and niece in the bombing. MY THOUGHTS: Padma Viswanathan’s writing seems so honest and personal, you really feel like you’re reading a piece of non-fiction, Ashwin’s memoir. The author successfully shows what kind of a devastating trail is left behind by senseless and ruthless terrorism. My only criticism is that there seems to be two books in one here –Ashwin ... Read more

BOOKENDS REVIEW: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

The Lemon Grove By Helen Walsh Fiction SYNOPSIS: When Jenn goes on vacation with her husband, she starts to experience a kind of mid-life crisis. Every year, they visit a beautiful island off the coast of Spain to stay at a villa situated in a mountainous village.  This year, Jenn’s 15-year-old stepdaughter Emma is joining them and bringing her 17-year-old boyfriend, Nathan, along. As Jenn, who is in her early 40s, starts to question aspects of her life and her relationship with her husband, she gets pulled in to a clandestine affair with the young, fit, overly confident Nathan. MY THOUGHTS: This was a great book to read at the start of a spring season that still feels like a Canadian winter. From the first paragraph, Helen Walsh’s beautifully descriptive writing takes you away to an exotic, warm, and stunning European island. Beaches, villas, lemon groves and café patios. Can you imagine, on a day when it feels like -19 in Toronto, taking a walk through cobblestoned streets in short sleeves and flip-flops? Locale and writing style aside, Walsh has created a relatable character. Jenn continues to resist something that feels wrong, but her boredom of the mundane gets the ... Read more

INTERVIEW: Tilar Mazzeo explores the scandalous history of the Hotel Ritz

The Hotel on Place Vendome Tilar J. Mazzeo Non-fiction INTERVIEW: Author Tilar Mazzeo talks about what fascinated her about the Ritz Hotel, and how she found out about some of its scandals and secrets.  ABOUT THE BOOK: For over a century, Paris’ Hotel Ritz has been a popular spot for socialites, royalty, politicians, famous writers, artists and actors. Taking you through the early history of the renowned hotel, Tilar Mazzeo shows just how central the Ritz was during the first half of the 20th century. The hotel was established in 1898 on Place Vendome. It immediately turned into a hot spot in the City of Light. Mazzeo’s focus is on what went on inside the Ritz leading up to, and during, the Second World War. French and American guests mingled with the Germans who moved in when they occupied Paris in 1940. There was no separation between Allies and Nazis inside the hotel. (Those who “collaborated” with the Germans in Paris paid for their indiscretions after the war.) Here’s some of what you’ll find in The Hotel on Place Vendome: -          Famous regulars of the Ritz included: Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, F, Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, the ... Read more