Torontoc reads and also sees films in 2018

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Torontoc reads and also sees films in 2018

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Dez. 28, 2017, 10:30am

Just established my thread- I saw two good films over the holidays- " I, Tonya" and "Molly's Game".
They were both at the Sept Toronto International Film Festival- I didn't see them there because I though that they would be released. I did miss one that is only out in Toronto on Netflix( which I don't have) " Mudbound"

Jan. 1, 2018, 8:12am

I finished my first book last night just after 12 am-my brother sent me this book.

1. Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press by Eddy Portnoy.The author works at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. YIVO holds the " essential" collection of material on Jewish Life and many documents in Yiddish. Portnoy had written about many of the topics in the online magazine " Tablet" but he expanded the chapters for this book. And what a treasury of misbehaviour- funny to the reader today and sad for those involved. Portnoy looked for the stories of the underbelly of Jewish life- the poor, the thieves and the criminal. All the stories were written about in the Yiddish press in New York and Warsaw. The time periods ranged from the 1870's in New York to the 1920's and early thirties in Poland. Murderers, runaway husbands who committed bigamy, fighting Hasidim, pickpockets and illegal bagel sellers- all have their moment of fame in the crime blotters and stories in the Yiddish press. I enjoyed this first book read in 2018

Jan. 1, 2018, 8:42am

>2 torontoc: Nice review, Cyrel, and a great book to start the New Year with.

Jan. 1, 2018, 12:58pm

Nice review. Sounds an interesting read.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 2, 2018, 3:03pm

Bad Rabbi sounds fascinating. You might like the The Rise of David Levinsky. Same place and time period, and, in a vague way, parallel mentality. (It’s free on Project Gutenberg) ... and Happy New Year!

Jan. 3, 2018, 7:10pm

Thank you!
I have read The Rise of David Levinsky ( many years ago and did like it)

Jan. 6, 2018, 6:13pm

2. Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin I did enjoy this book but really hated the ending. It is very cold where I live now and what better subject than events in the far north of Canada( Inuvik). The narrative ranges from the time of Sir John Franklin's Northwest Passage expedition and those who tried to find the lost ships and men to a present day puzzle. Fay Morgan is an Englishwoman looking for clues about the life and disappearance of her grandfather and Nelson Nilsson is looked for his missing elder brother. Both investigate past missing persons who seem to have a relationship with lost artifacts. The chapters of the book related the stories of many interesting personalities who came to the north in search of Franklin's expedition. Many disappeared so that this is a theme of living and lost in the north. There are many descriptions of starving and surviving in the bitter cold on ice floes. ( just the thing to read when it is -34 C outside with the windchill.) The characters are skillfully created and I did like this read until the choice made by the author at the end. But the more I think about it-the author is making a point.

Jan. 7, 2018, 5:28pm

>7 torontoc: not a book to encourage you to go outside for a walk. Not that you should when it's like hypothermia weather. Enjoyed your review.

>6 torontoc: glad you liked it, and quietly impressed that I suggested a random obscure book and you have already read it.

Jan. 10, 2018, 12:53pm

>8 dchaikin: I was reading a lot of novels and histories about early Jewish life in the U.S.

3. The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee I had read an earlier novel by this writer and was looking forward to this book. The narrator- Jessica- is helping her father clear out stuff in the family home just after the death of her mother, Donna. They are horrified to discover the bodies of two teenage girls at the bottom of the deep freezers in the basement. The two girls, Casey and Jamie had been living with Jessica's family as Donna took in foster children who were considered difficult. They had disappeared on weekend and nothing was heard from them until the discovery of the bodies. The reader learns about Jessica's life as a neglected child and how she tried to create a life that was an answer to feelings about her mother, Donna's own life and Jessica's quest to find out what happened to Casey and Jamie. The readers also learn about their troubled home history. However,(spoiler) we really don't have an ending that answers questions. I liked the writing but was a little disappointed in the plot resolution.

Jan. 14, 2018, 11:00am

4. Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories by Italo Calvino. I was looking through my TBR book pile and found this book of short stories. I loved Invisible Cities by the same author but was disappointed by this collection. Earlier stories and pieces from 1943- 1958 was short, pithy and made their points quickly. There were tragedies that spoke of earlier Fascist rule and exploitation of the working class. The later works ( 1968-1984) were more " wordy" and in some cases more obscure. Calvino used subjects that were familiar and some that were not- an imaginary interview with Henry Ford, the Aztec Montezuma and Casanova. This book was a little disappointing.

Jan. 15, 2018, 6:55pm

You are off to a great start, Cyrel! Sorry you were a bit disappointed with the Jen Sookfong Lee book. It had an interesting premise.

Jan. 16, 2018, 1:41am

Nice reviews! I'm actually think about reading Invisible Cities soon, since an author referenced it in one of my recent books. Could you pull together a few quick words on what you loved about it?

Bearbeitet: Jan. 16, 2018, 8:41am

Invisible Cities- an imaginary set of descriptions of different cities - told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. The descriptions are brief and very evocative. ( and the reader knows that all the cities described are really aspects of Venice. )
I enjoyed this book very much and still re-read it.

Jan. 16, 2018, 8:42am

Oh, go see "The Shape of Water"- the acting, story and great sets make this a great film!

Jan. 16, 2018, 12:37pm

awesome thanks! Invisible Cities will be the next book on my list :)

Jan. 16, 2018, 7:23pm

>13 torontoc: Invisible Cities sounds wonderful, and I can get it from Brooklyn PL as an ebook! Another reason that $50-a-year fee is so worthwhile.

Jan. 17, 2018, 8:44am

Invisible Cities has always been one of my favourite books.

5. Autumn by Ali Smith I have to add my praise to those who have also read this novel. Smith has a unique point of view- sometimes the prose reads like poetry. The author follows the life and history of Elisabeth a young woman born in 1984, and her former neighbour and friend, Daniel who is over 100 years old. Daniel is being cared for in a private care facility and drifts in and out of sleep. The story jumps from era to era as we trace the story of Daniel and Elisabeth. We learn about a forgotten woman pop artist, Brexit, and the 60's. Elisabeth always seems to have a point of view from childhood with a difficult mother to adulthood. The story really doesn't end. We see slices of life and the questions about purpose and directions. There are questions not answered but I still found a satisfaction in the reading of this very good book. I look forward to the next book in the" Seasonal Quartet" series- Winter.

Jan. 17, 2018, 11:04am

Autumn was the last book of 2017 for me. It definitely has that "slice of life" naturalistic feeling. The only other things I've read by Smith are her Girl Meets Boy and a number of introductions to other writers' books (especially Tove Jansson) and her article on the pop artist, Pauline Boty in the Guardian:

Jan. 17, 2018, 6:18pm

I'm just catching up on your thread and have enjoyed reading your reviews. Autumn seems to be a popular book right now. It was my second read of the year and I loved it. Invisible Cities is a book I was meaning to read ages ago and then forgot all about, so it's good to have a reminder of that. Also interested to see you mention The Shape of Water, since I came across that somewhere recently and it sounded unusual. Definitely something I'll be looking to see.

Jan. 18, 2018, 7:15am

Interesting reviews, Cyrel. You have answered questions about a couple of books I'm considering reading. And the trailer for The Shape of Water looks fantastic so I'm glad you have endorsed that one. Love Sally Hawkins.

Jan. 21, 2018, 11:02am

>19 valkyrdeath:, >20 amandameale: Yes, isn't she terrific- the last film that I saw her in -"Maudie" was amazing- if you get a chance to find it on Netflicks - see it - it is about Maud Lewis - an artist from Nova Scotia who was considered a " primitive" artist".

6. Wolfie & Fly: Band on the Run by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Zoe Si LT has for some reason put the two Wolfie & Fly books together when you look for touchstones. This is the second book in the series and my ER book. The author has created two very interesting characters- Wolfie who is very introverted and her neighbour Fly- a very daring boy who is oblivious to problems or insults. In fact these two travel between the real world and that of the imagination. There doesn't seem to be a boundary between the two. I think that this story for children teaches good lessons about being positive and learning to take chances. Fly wants Wolfie to join his band and enter the school talent show. Along the way, the two become famous -for a while- and have to escape from fans. The two have very supportive parents- a nice touch since the stereotype of parents in many children's books is not always affirmative. A very nice series for young readers.

Jan. 23, 2018, 10:25am

7. Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering A Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto by Samuel D. Kassow I found this history so interesting and well researched. Samuel Kassow is a professor of history at Trinity College. I have heard him speak a number of times. He writes about the historian Emanuel Ringelblum and his leadership in establishing the Oyneg Shabes Archive- This secret archive documented the lives and society of Jewish life under Nazi rule in Warsaw and many small communities. Hundreds of people contributed to this store of essays, and documents during the establishment and then destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. The archive was buried in three secret places- two of the buried caches were discovered- one in 1946 and the second in 1950. The third cache was never found. Only three of the writers survived the Holocaust. They were responsible for the discovery of the hiding places buried under the rubble of the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto. Kassow describes the history of the politics in the Polish Jewish community and how Ringelblum didn't allow his own person political beliefs to interfere with his organization of the vast number of topics written about for the Archive. Ringelblum was able to commission papers on every facet of Jewish life because he could move around the Ghetto as a leader of a charitable group Aleynhilf or "Self Help" that set up soup kitchens and other communal groups. His group of writers and historians kept away from the leading official community group -The Judenrat- and did not tell them about the existence of the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Kassow writes about Ringelblum's background, his friendships with the various political groups and how his view of the Polish Jewish community changed as the war progressed and the Ghetto was emptied. This book gives the reader a view of the movement to keep alive Yiddish culture and the despair at the realization that Polish Jewish society would be destroyed by the Nazis. This is a great history book.

Jan. 23, 2018, 3:54pm

>22 torontoc: That really does sound like a great book. Must add it to the ever-growing list!

Jan. 24, 2018, 10:22pm

It is!

8.My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs The Nobel Lecture by Kazuo Ishiguro This small book contains the lecture that Ishiguro gave when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is interesting in that the reader learns about points in Ishiguro's past that were important to his development as a writer. He recalls significant times and influences that changed his writing. Ishiguro touches on the changing history and politics and makes a plea for " widening our current literary world" to make room for diverse and new voices. His address is worth reading.

Jan. 29, 2018, 8:04pm

9. The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. This is very sad story. Christine is a poor young woman who works in a small Austrian town as a post office worker in years after the first world war. Her life is changed when her very rich aunt and uncle invite her to stay with them at a resort in Switzerland. Christine is not prepared for the wealth and lifestyle of the people who stay at the resort. Her aunt acts as a fairy grandmother to her. However the visit is cut short when various guests learn how poor Christine really is. After the shock of being force to return to her home and life, Christine becomes very bitter. After impulsively visiting her sister in Vienna, she meets Ferdinand, a former soldier who spent time in Russia as a prisoner,.He was wounded, could not finish his education and now has very little resources. Christine and Ferdinand become friends and perhaps lovers. They cannot see any hope for them to succeed in Austrian society. Their solutions are very extreme. In a way this novel has a 21st century feeling as Zweig doesn't give a final answer to the choices that the two must make. Zweig does use the story to present an argument for the hopelessness of the future for many people in Austria after the first world war.

Jan. 29, 2018, 8:38pm

The Post-Office Girl blew me away when I read it a few years ago.

Jan. 30, 2018, 11:12am

I found The Post-Office Girl really depressing, and by the end I honestly disliked the characters.

Jan. 31, 2018, 9:25am

>26 RidgewayGirl: >27 janeajones: it is sad that the author and his wife did commit suicide-in 1942? - one of the options discussed by the couple in The Post Office Girl- was Zweig using the book to describe some of his own feelings- he was in exile from his country and perhaps his culture. I saw a film about his life- mmm- have to remember the name.

Jan. 31, 2018, 4:15pm

>28 torontoc: Do you mean the Maria Schrader film "Vor der Morgenröte/Farewell to Europe"? I saw that quite recently and was very impressed.

(There must be other Zweig-films - forty years ago, when we used to get German films from the Goethe-Institut at school, we once had a double-bill of scratchy documentaries about "The spider" and "The Zweigs in Brazil". It was a circulation scheme, so you never knew what you would get next. I hadn't a clue at the time who Stefan Zweig was, but I got the idea firmly stuck in my mind for a long time that he'd been eaten by his wife somewhere in the Brazilian rainforest...)

Jan. 31, 2018, 4:32pm

>29 thorold: funny!
Yes - it probably was " Farewell To Europe"

Bearbeitet: Feb. 4, 2018, 8:55pm

10. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi I really enjoyed this novel about the descendants of two half sisters from Ghana- one-Esi is captured and sold as a slave and taken North America and the other- Effia lives a life of of relative ease in Ghana. The story follows the children and their children of both Effia and Esi through hardship and tragedy. The reader sometimes will find out what happened to the character described in a chapter but sometimes not. The information about the warfare in Ghana between the two major tribes and the horrible injustice done to Blacks in the United States before and after the Civil War is eye-opening. Each character has to deal with the forces that change their lives. The author traces historical events that shape the world of Blacks in Ghana and the United States. This book is well-written and touches upon themes that are really universal.

Feb. 5, 2018, 9:39am

11. Born a Crime Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah I read this book because it will be discussed by my book club this month. I found the book very interesting as Noah describes his life as a child and later an young adult. He give credit to his mother for providing him with the enrichment- books and education- that helped him later in life. He also talks about the influence of his friends and surroundings that led him to become an entrepreneur. His life was fraught with danger. As a child of a white father and black mother, he was breaking the law by living with his mother. He was hidden from his mother's black community when he was young. The stories are funny sometimes but also describe the suffocating surroundings constructed by the apartheid South African government that limited the ambitions of many blacks. This was a very enlightening read for me.

Feb. 5, 2018, 7:00pm

>22 torontoc:, wow. Who Will Write Our History? sounds incredible. I had never heard about the archive you describe. That's amazing.

Feb. 5, 2018, 10:19pm

I went to add Who Will Write Our History to my wishlist after reading your review (but I had already added it in 2009!) Enjoyed catching up.

Feb. 6, 2018, 7:58am

>33 fannyprice: >34 dchaikin:
I first knew of a diary that was written at the same time that Ringelblum was active-The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan. It survived because the author has it smuggled out of the ghetto.
I learned about the archive when I went to a lecture by Samuel Kassow in Toronto.

Feb. 6, 2018, 9:56pm

12.Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante. This is the third in the series of four books that tell the stories of Lina and Elena. These times of their lives are filled with drama. Elena marries, has two children but seems to have lost her focus for writing. She does get involved in the lives of her contemporaries who are part of the student movement and the later protests against aspects of Italian society. Lina becomes involved in the more real problems of the working class. Her time spent working in a sausage factory reveals the terrible conditions. Her fellow workers and friends in the union movement actually make life difficult for her. Both women escape from their present situations but both are not likely to have a better life. I can see how the next book will reveal what happens to Elena and Lina and the choices that they made.

Feb. 11, 2018, 10:13am

13. The Assassination of Trotsky by Nicholas Mosely. I like reading history books. I pulled this one out of my TBR pile because I was curious about the subject. However I had to wade through a lot of rambling thoughts on theory( Marxist and others) and some vague research( the names of the assassin, and his possible handlers). The book was written in 1972 and served as the basis for a screen play on the subject- I am not interested in looking up the film. Well. on to the next. I should have stopped reading this book but didn't.

Feb. 16, 2018, 8:32pm

14. Bloom A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad. This book is from the January Early Reviewers list.It is beautifully designed. The author and illustrator have created a work of art in the structure itself. The author tells the story of Elsa Schiaparelli, her very unsupportive mother and father and understanding uncle. Schiaparelli knows that she is a very creative person and succeeds creating a successful career as a designer. She creates the colour " Shocking pink" and collaborates artistically with many Surrealist artists. The theme is one of thinking being positive in spite of barriers placed before you. In fact after the story ends , the writer adds more facts about Schiaparelli's accomplishments. Is this book written for young adults or children? I think that the theme of this book is perseverance. In a way it might be written for parents of children who might be have been bullied as the story teaches the power of believing in yourself- and it is done so with beauty.

Feb. 19, 2018, 11:02am

15. Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson. This is a funny book with a lot of skewering of literary, political and philosophical themes in films as well as some terrible recipes for horrible dishes. The two main characters alternate with narratives. Gerald is an English ghost writer for sports figures and he lives in a house on a hill in Italy. He gives the reader some truly awful recipes- the first is "Scallops with Chocolate Sauce". As the story develops, Gerry talks about some more ghastly parings. He is annoyed with a neighbour, Marta, a composer with a dubious family background from a Middle European country. The plot reminds me of a Lucille Ball film- somewhat scatterbrained plots that eventually work together. Gerry is working with a potential client who is the leader of a boy band. Marta is composing music for a noted Italian film maker whose films have obscure themes with much pornography. How the two connect is worth the read although the plot does tend to get cumbersome in the end. Oh, and Fernet Branca is a brand of liqueur that figures in the plot- lots of it.

Feb. 19, 2018, 11:09am

I also saw the film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"- I don't know- it is a good film but I think that "I, Tonya", "Lady Bird" and "The Shape of Water" were better.

Feb. 20, 2018, 2:35am

>39 torontoc: Cooking with Fernet Blanca sounds fun!
My parents have seen Three billboards and quite liked it - I almost never go to the movies.

Feb. 21, 2018, 10:25pm

>41 chlorine: it was good but violent.

16. Lincoln in The Bardo by George Saunders. This is one of the best books that I have read in the past year. I stopped reading poetry a while back ( don't know why- but I was not connecting with the messages and words for some reason) and this novel's structure was somewhat poetic and wonderful. The storytelling was imaginative. It sort of reminded me of the last scene in the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. The narrative carried by the dead who lived in the cemetery where Lincoln's son was buried and their striving to help Willie and his father Lincoln was touching. A great read and I believe that many LT readers have reviewed and loved this book.

Feb. 25, 2018, 8:30am

>42 torontoc: Good review! I have Lincoln in the Bardo on my ereader and will be locating it in the next several days.

Feb. 25, 2018, 9:33am

>43 Tess_W: It was such a good read!

17. House of Spies by Daniel Silva. Every once and a while I crave a good mystery or spy story. I have been following this series and lately I find the plots starting to blend in to each other with similar characters. I think that sometimes when an author writes a continuing series, the first books are the best and the later ones not so much. I feel this way about Alan Furst's series about the second world war- the first books were amazing and the most recent - a little disappointing although I continue to read them and hope that the stories will get better. So John Le Carre is still the master storyteller. This book- too much violence and the plot-mmm -similar to past books.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 8, 2018, 2:47pm

I just came back from a week in Florida ( warm!) and am just listing the books that I read there.

18. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches- a Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley. When I go on vacation, I order books for my Kobo. This series is one that I am following. I liked the lead character and her involvement in solving murders. However, this story is about the finding of Flavia's mother's body after many years. So Flavia, youngest daughter in a family living in a not very well taken care of really big house, tries to raise her mother from the dead and ( doesn't get the chance) later solve her murder. The story wasn't as interesting as the first books in the series but the next book takes place in Toronto so I might read it on my next trip.

19. The Life She Was Given by Ellen Wiseman The author writes about two young women -one in the past and one in the present- and of course they turn out to be related. The reader finds out what happened as the story progresses. Lilly is a young girl who has been kept in the attic of her home by her parents. Her mother sells her to the circus when she is eleven years old. The so-called defect that has kept her hidden doesn't seem so bad to the modern reader. But she is trained to be part of the side show in the circus and later shows a talent for working with the elephants. In the other chapters of the book , the reader is introduced to Julia, a young woman who ran away from her home when she was in her late teen years. Both women lived in the same house and the reader learns about the relationships in this same family. Julia returns to the house where she lived when her mother dies and leaves the building and horse racing business to her. There is a resolving of the mysteries but really, Lilly is treated terribly during her life time although she does have a brief time of happiness. In fact I wonder whether the story is too horrible in the treatment of Lilly and her father's reaction- you would think that he would change his ways and not participate in some of the decisions made.

20 Defectors by Joseph Kanon I have read one of Kanon's earlier novels and I really liked this one the best. Simon Weeks is a publisher who travels to Moscow in 1961 to go over a manuscript that his company will publish. The memoir has been written by Simon's brother, Frank. Frank worked for the CIA but defected to the Soviet Union twelve years earlier. Simon has not seen his brother and in truth is not sure that the memoir is the only reason the authorities have let him into the country. The story follows the brothers and their meeting and the reasons Frank was anxious to talk to Simon. The plot resolves around the intentions of Frank and the possibility of double crosses and how Simon maneuvers through the plans of the CIA and his brother. This is a really good spy mystery novel with great storytelling.

21. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about a young bride living in Amsterdam in 1686. Nella arrives at the home of her new husband and encounters more than she had bargained for. Her husband paid little attention to Nella after buying her a cabinet replica of her home. Nella has to deal with her overbearing sister-in-law, Marin, who has an opinion on everything and runs the house. As Nella buys small items to furnish her cabinet from a mysterious miniaturist, the replicas seem to foretell events that happen to Nella's husband- Johannes and their household. Bad decisions made by Johannes lead Nella to take charge and save what she can of her house and the people who live in it.

Mrz. 8, 2018, 3:33pm

45> The Life She Was Given sounds interesting. I enjoy books with a circus background. I enjoyed The Miniaturist as well.

Mrz. 8, 2018, 4:07pm

>45 torontoc: The most recent book in the Flavia deLuce series was the best yet, I think. I hope you continue that far.

Mrz. 11, 2018, 11:39am

>47 NanaCC: I still want to read the series!

22. A Bold and Dangerous Family The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism by Caroline Moorehead. This biography of Amelia Rosselli and her sons Carlo and Nello was possible because of the many letters that they wrote to friends and family. As well, the family provided the author with their diaries and photographs. Caroline Moorehead has written a meticulous account of the lives of Amelia, Carlo and Nello. Amelia was born into a prominent Italian Jewish family that valued the works of noted liberals and proponents of democracy. She married, separated, and eventually moved to Florence after living in Rome.Her eldest son, Aldo died in World War 1. Her sons, Carlo and Nello were bright and embraced democratic ideals. Their political work resulted in both being exiled on remote islands when Mussolini came to power. Carlo eventually escaped and went into exile in Paris along with his wife and children. Nello was freed and was able to continue his historical research. Amelia still lived in Florence and traveled to see her children and grandchildren. The book really is more than a history of this family, Moorehead writes about the rise of Fascism in Italy and the hold that Mussolini had over Italy. In fact some facts of this story about a charismatic leader have troubling similarities to present day politics.( Spoiler) Both Carlo and Nello were assassinated in the late 1930's by a group of French Fascists who were supported by the Italian government. Carlo would have been one of the best choices to lead Italy after the war. The book is so well documented and written that I have to make sure to read the other books by this author that are on my TBR list.

Mrz. 14, 2018, 10:33am

23. Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad. This children's book from Early Reviewers is wonderfully illustrated with a story that is too brief for me- I would have liked to read more. What I did like was the theme of good friendship and generosity. The author has taken the names of the writer Julia Child and her friend and co-writer , Simca ( Simone Beck) and created a new story of two young friends. Julia, a child and her friend Simca. The two loved to cook and wanted to remain children forever. The reader may ask why and the answer given is that grownups in this book seem to have unhappy lives. Julia and Simca want to change this with their cooking and the results are interesting as well as their solution. A very nice book for young readers.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 27, 2018, 10:14am

24. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I have been waiting for this book to be published in paperback but it is still sold in hardcover. I used a birthday gift card to buy it and started reading immediately. This is one of those stories that is intriguing. A Count in 1922 Russia is sentenced to live out his life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. He wrote a poem sympathetic to the revolution but he was also a member of the upper class. Count Alexander Rostov makes the best of his situation and lives very comfortably in his small quarters and makes friends of the staff and guests. Rostov finds that he is better off than some of his friends as he learns about the politics and hardship as the years go by. He befriends a young girl, Nina, in his early stay and this friendship will have consequences in later years. The story is so good and I really enjoyed the book. The author creates a seemingly storybook existence for the count while reminding us the reader of the real problems in the Soviet Union in the 1920's to 1950's.

Mrz. 18, 2018, 12:13pm

>50 torontoc:, Sounds excellent, like a book you can really lose yourself in.

Mrz. 27, 2018, 10:13am

>51 fannyprice: it was!

25. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I am in a quandary about this novel. I did like reading it- the writing style was descriptive and the author eloquently told the story of Koreans who moved to Japan before the second world war and lived their lives in Japan in the next few decades. They were always " the other" -their children born in Japan were not considered citizens and had to hold Korean passports. The reader follows the family of Sunja, a Korean woman who falls in love with Hansu- a handsome and wealthy man. She does not know that he is married and when she become pregnant, Sunja marries Isak - a young minister. Sunja eventually moves to Japan with Isak and there the story of her sons and grandson continues. The hardship of discrimination of the Korean-Japanese is a major theme. And yet , some of the deaths are a shock and I wish for a more complete storyline- although like life, neatly tied up plots are not a reality.

Mrz. 28, 2018, 11:04pm

26. Fire and Fury Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff I was given this book as a present and I had a morbid curiosity in reading it. The story is so strange- too many plots and firings and a very scary portrait of the president. The rivalries between the various factions and the incredible inexperience in governing seems surreal but- hey-in my city- Toronto- Rob Ford got elected. And his brother might become Premier of Ontario.

I saw " Come From Away" last week- it was terrific.

Mrz. 30, 2018, 4:12pm

27. The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville I like some dystopian fiction- one of my relatives thinks that he doesn't like to read about made up terrible things that happen in an altered reality- the real world can be terrible on its own. The author has created an altered world where in 1950, the Nazis and various guerrilla groups are fighting. But there is an important difference. An event in 1941 turned all the Surrealist fantasy beings from paintings, drawings and literature into real creatures that haunt Paris. The reader learns how in the chapters that describe the events that led to the unleashing of this phenomenon in 1941.IN 1950 Thibault is a Surrealist fighter traveling through Paris fighting monsters, Nazis and renegade surrealist inventions. He is eventually helped by a Surrealist creation -the Exquisite Corpse. It really helps to have a knowledge of Surrealism to understand the images in this plot. As well, the reader should know about Alister Crowley to understand how the Surrealist monsters emerged. There is a good set of notes at the back of the book that reference most of the images. Still an interesting read.

Mrz. 30, 2018, 7:06pm

>54 torontoc: This one sounds quite interesting. Have you read any other Mieville? I haven't but wonder if this is a good place to start.

Mrz. 30, 2018, 9:43pm

>53 torontoc: I can’t imagine what our friends in other countries must be thinking about us right now. I’ve no real interest in reading that book, because we are living it every day. But I’m always interested to see what others think.

Mrz. 31, 2018, 7:42am

>55 janemarieprice: I really think that the best book to start with is The City & the City or Railsea or Kraken and the maybe children's book Un Lun Dun. I have to tell you that I have started Perdido Street Station too many times and put it down- my brother , however, loved it.

Apr. 12, 2018, 1:16pm

It has taken me a few days to get back in the mood for reading and completing- I have a number of books that I have to finish- I just got the feeling that I didn't want to continue for a while- so I started and completed a new book to me.

28.The Measure of my Powers A memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris by Jackie Kai Ellis. I think that writing this book was part therapy for the author. She had a very controlling husband ( who she eventually divorced) and a family that was not supportive of her ambitions. Kai Ellis took to teaching herself how to bake in order to taste sugar- her parents did not allow their children any sweets. She had to be doubly ambitious in order to go to art school- she needed to show her parents that she could get accepted into a university programme of science. However, even with the harrowing descriptions of her married life, the author became superbly accomplished- opening a bakery, operating a tour company, writing and spending much time in Paris. Each chapter is accompanied by wonderful detailed recipes for the dishes that are important to her story. A very interesting read.

29. The Magician's Secret by Zachary Hyman and illustrated by Joe Bluhm This is my ERbook. The author introduces the reader to a grandfather who baby sits his grandson and tells him adventurous tales about his life. The stories have their origin in the objects inside a magic story chest in the attic. Grandfather had been a magician and the stories that he tells range from stopping thieves in the tombs of Egypt to battling dinosaurs. The illustrations are so important to this story as the images of the boy and his grandfather and the places that their imaginations take them help create the magic of the story. What is also interesting to me is the other job that the author has- Zachary Hyman is also a hockey player doing very well as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs( Go Leafs! it is the playoff season). A really nice book for children -the lesson about following your dreams and the importance of imaginations is important.

Apr. 12, 2018, 4:13pm

>58 torontoc: It would never have occurred to me that it was the same Zachary Hyman. That's quite a feat and the book itself sounds lovely For some reason your review reminds me of Joseph had a Little Overcoat - perhaps it is the magical element. As for the Leafs (non hockey fans rest assured that in this case the spelling is correct), I confess to being a very disappointed, somewhat embarrassed Habs fan, hoping now for a Boston - Nashville final. I do enjoy watching Hyman play though.

Apr. 14, 2018, 4:38am

>54 torontoc: What a great premise!

Apr. 16, 2018, 10:01am

>60 wandering_star: yes it was!
30.The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by MG Vassanji The novel is about one man's life in colonial and then independent Kenya. The story is narrated by Lall as he is in exile in Canada, recalling his career and family's life as part of the Indian population living in the town of Nakuru and later Nairobi. Lall's grandfather came over to Africa in order to work on the construction of the railway. The immigrant Indian population were treated better than the Africans by ruling British. However, they still faced discrimination even though their children were born in Kenya. The pace of the plot is seamless as the story moves from the present to the past. The reader might wonder if Lall is the unreliable narrator especially as he talks about his business life. The heart of the story is about the relationships of Lall, his sister Deepa, his best friend Njoroge, his father and mother. There are many betrayals of friendship, and much corruption in the ugly world of politics. Lall is witness to brutal Mau-Mau killings. the corrupt regime of Kenyatta in free Kenya and finally his own implication of money laundering. The narrative is so well done. This book won the Giller Prize in 2003. An excellent read.

Apr. 17, 2018, 2:14pm

31. Small Crimes In An Age of Abundance by Matthew Kneale. This slim book of short stories is very well written. Each one focuses on an event gone wrong or the wrong choices made by ordinary people. Sometimes the reader has a sense of " finish" to the episode. Sometimes the ending is not so clear. The plots are skillful but not always satisfying. I have mixed feelings about this grouping.

Apr. 18, 2018, 9:57pm

32. Granta 106 New Fiction Special edited by Alex Clark. This issue is noted for the interview that Jhumpa Lahiri conducted with Mavis Gallant. Some of the short stories were not so interesting to me although I liked Amy Bloom's "Compassion and Mercy" and Ha Jin's "In The Crossfire". I alway liked to see what authors that the magazine would select

Apr. 23, 2018, 4:36pm

33. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. I did enjoy reading Margaret Atwood's last three books that had a science fiction theme. This one didn't thrill me as much although the narrative was fast paced and I did want to follow the characters through the plot. Stan and Charmaine are living in their car. Charmaine has a job at a bar and Stan lost his job after an economic meltdown. The society that they live in is dangerous with burned out buildings, no jobs and threatening mobs. They sign for a new initiative. They will live in a gated community in a very nice house with jobs for both of them. However, every other month they will leave their home and go to live and work in a prison in the community. This system goes sideways when Charmaine is tempted into a torrid affair with another man. Stan is drawn into a situation where he is targeted by a small group that is trying to change this community system. Both Stan and Charmaine become key players in a very Marx brother type plot to smuggle out evidence. There are threats of killing for body parts, creating robotic dolls, and using fake Elvis and Marilyn Monroe bots. The story is easy to follow but I liked Atwood's earlier novels on dystopian worlds better.

Mai 2, 2018, 5:00pm

I saw the documentary "Witkin & Witkin" at the Hot Docs film festival this week- excellent story about two brothers- identical twins and one a photographer and the other a painter. Both are in their late 70's now , live in very different parts of the U.S. and really don't talk to each other. The film maker- Trisha Ziff was at the film screening and gave a very interesting talk after the film.

34. The Warburgs The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family by Ron Chernow. This was an amazing biography of the multiple descendants of the Warburg family- a German Jewish family that can trace their ancestors to 1600's Germany. The biographies of the many cousins seem very complex. ( and long -over 700 pages)Chernow traces the stories of the two major branches of the family -the Alsterufer and Mittelweg Warburgs as they create a very important banking dynasty in Hamburg and later London and New York. The first sentence in the Prelude says it all-"The German Jews were a people shipwrecked by history." Chernow shows how the family were German first in their beliefs and Jews second. Their culture , while at the beginning was Orthodox Jewish, later became more German. However, the family was still conscious of the problems of anti-semetism. In fact, Chernow shows how the leaders of the family confronted the rise of Hitler in the 1930's. It seems to the reader that Max Warburg, who insisted that Jews should remain in Germany as Hitler would soon be gone from the leadership, was a hypocrite as at the last moment he and his family was able to leave Germany because of his son's American citizenship. One branch of the family perished at Auschwitz. The ties that Germany had for the family led some of them to come back to Germany after the war. Many did stay in the United States. The striving to create businesses in New York and London was a major push for Sigmund Warburg. Eric Warburg returned to Germany to reclaim the family firm with great difficulty. The section on the charitable endeavours was very interesting as the Warburgs did support Jewish charities for Jews all over the world but in the 1930's they had differences with Chaim Weizmann over the idea of the state of Israel. The Warburgs believed that Jews should not look to Israel exclusively but become citizens of other countries " in a quiet way". The idea that as citizen one should be " careful" leads the reader to look at the psychology of their lives in Germany- where they had some financial power but were always looking over their collective shoulders to see that they did not offend. The conflicted loyalties of the Warburgs is a very interesting theme in this very, very good biography.

Mai 6, 2018, 10:53am

I am seeing films from two film festivals ( last week and this week)
I have to mention one documentary that is terrific. "Bathtubs Over Broadway"- The lead writer for the Dave Letterman show-Steve Young - became interested in the industrial musicals written and performed for commercial companies. He found records of these events that were usually held at conventions. After becoming a collector of the records and any visual recordings of the musicals, Young looked for and interviewed the actors, and composers who performed. The documentary follows Young as he talked to the many performers who made good living working for these industrial shows. The songs were catchy and to the present day audience- funny as the subjects were bathroom fixtures, cars, diesel engines and more. The documentary ends with a musical number featuring Young, and many of the performers. See this film!

35.American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This story is similar to an odyssey. Shadow is a man who has just been released from prison. He is looking forward to seeing his wife Laura and taking a job in their home town. However, Shadow's life changes drastically when he learns that his wife died in an automobile accident. Soon Shadow meets a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. Shadow works for him and drives him to various places in the US. The reader learns that Mr. Wednesday is a Norse God and he is in a struggle with other newer gods. Wednesday is trying to get older gods to join with him to fight a battle for supremacy. Shadow is followed by some of the opposing forces and he is helped by the ghost of his wife who wants to return to life. Shadow has some powers of his own and the reader learns about his past and relationship to the present struggle. A really good novel- I have been meaning to read it for a while!

Mai 7, 2018, 12:47pm

36. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje I really like to read a well written novel. Michael Ondaatje is a master of prose to me. His latest work is about the search for truth by a young man, Nathaniel after the second world war in England. Nathaniel, 14, and his older sister ,Rachel, are being left in England while their parents go to work in Singapore for a year. Both children will be at boarding school. A man introduced as a family friend and who the children nicknamed " The Moth" would be their guardian. Plans change when both Nathaniel and Rachel insist on leaving the boarding school. They want to return to being part of the day school and to live at home. Here is where Nathaniel realizes that the Moth has some unusual friends who start to visit their home. The Darter involves Nathaniel in the smuggling of grey hounds and some other unknown products. Both Nathaniel and Rachel discover that their mother has not gone to Singapore at all. The story of their mother Rose and her real exploits are revealed to Nathaniel later in life. The reader learns about the role that Rose played as a spy and the danger that she and her children are in after the war. Nathaniel does investigate the life of his mother and the unknown and disappearing father. The reader sees that both of Rose's children have been damaged by the choices that the parents made. This is an excellent novel with wonderful prose. There are insights about the choices made and the impact on children and friends.

Mai 12, 2018, 10:05pm

37. Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr. I really enjoy a good fast paced mystery/murder/historical fiction series. I was so sorry to hear of this author's passing- I think that there are two more books in the Bernie Gunther series. This novel , like the others pairs two stories. One takes place in 1939 and the other in 1956. Bernie is working for Heydrich in 1939 and he is sent to Hitler's Alpine headquarters in Obersalzberg. One of the officials has been murdered on the terrace of Hitler's home and Gunther has been sent to quietly find the murderer. He is also to gather as much information for Heydrich on Martin Bormann who is in charge of everything in the area. Of course , Gunther not only finds out who killed the official but he also learns about the graft and corruption that is taking place. In 1956 Gunther is kidnapped by East German Stasi officers and told to kill a former operative. The lead officer is a former Nazi colleague who had helped Gunther with the 1939 operation. Gunther escapes and is hunted through France by the East Germans. Both stories have some similar geographical locations that help Gunther. The story is complex and the suspense is sustained to the end of the novel. A good read!

Bearbeitet: Mai 12, 2018, 10:10pm

>68 torontoc: You have piqued my interest in this one. Is the rest of the series as good?

Mai 12, 2018, 11:21pm

>69 NanaCC: Yes- I think that the first three books were the best( grouped under the title Berlin Noir) but I have enjoyed all of them. I think that they should be read in order of publishing but that is my preference.

Mai 13, 2018, 12:17am

Nice review of Warlight, Cyrel. I'm a fan of Ondaatje's work, so I'll look for this novel.

Bearbeitet: Mai 13, 2018, 11:07am

>71 kidzdoc: it was just published- I could't resist buying it and I am a fan as well.

38.The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King. Thomas King is a novelist and I remember his hilarious radio show on the CBC, " The Dead Dog Cafe." This book is a serous account of the history of native people's interaction with the British, and later American and Canadian governments. The treaties that were enacted all led to the disenfranchisement of native peoples from their land. King does begin his book with the image of Indians ( today the term used for Native people is Indigenous in Canada) in the media-films, books and television. He is funny sometimes in this account. but for the most part, his meticulous research shows the reader the massive injustices inflicted on Native peoples. The work ends with tow somewhat successful treaties and outcomes for groups in Alaska and British Columbia. As well my paperback edition has a transcribed CBC radio interview between Thomas King and broadcaster Shelagh Rogers in 2013.This book is a must read for those who want to start to understand the issues.

Mai 16, 2018, 7:58pm

39. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney I found out about this novel from alpha order and thank you very much! I loved it.The author writes that the story of Lillian Boxfish is inspired by a real person- Margaret Fishback- a poet and successful copywriter in the 1930's. In this fictional account Lillian is in her mid -eighties, living alone in New York City and about to take a walk on New Year's Eve of 1984. As she walks ( over 10 miles it turns out) she thinks about her past life- her loves, history as a successful copywriter for Macy's and her successes and failures. The reader learns about her history, opinions and life.Lillian encounters a number of people on her walk and the reader sees her interaction with them. This is a really wonderful novel!

Mai 16, 2018, 10:10pm

>73 torontoc: You’ve added Lillian Boxfish to my wishlist. Thank you!

Mai 22, 2018, 4:34pm

40 Escape Don't Stop Running by Linwood Barclay This ER novel is written for older children. It is an adventure and Barclay - a master of novels of intrigue for adults- has created a suspenseful story. Jeff is a boy on the run with his dog Chipper. Chipper had been engineered to communicate with people and has some interesting enhancements. Jeff's parents used to work for the "Institute" a place where fearsome experiments are taking place with both animals and young children. Both parents have died and Jeff had been living with his aunt. However the Institute wants Chipper back and as a result Jeff is trying to protect Chipper with the help of an older man named Harry. There are suspected betrayals of helpers, abductions by sinister employees of the Institute and unusual discoveries that change everything. The story is fast paced and not too scary but still suspenseful. Recommended for pre-teen readers.

Mai 24, 2018, 10:55am

41. Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck and translated by Susan Bernofsky I found that this novel eloquently presented the dilemma of the response to the needs of refugees moving to Europe. In this story Richard, a retired professor living in Berlin decides to talk to a specific group of refugees who had been camping in a public square. Richard follows these men to their new living quarters and interviews them on their background. The reader learns about the heartbreaking stories of disrupted lives after war and poverty. Richard tries to help the men, offering music lessons, buying land for one man back home in Africa and going to their government interviews. The confusing rules regarding who can work and what is needed to obtain the correct documents are described as Richard tries to talk to his friends about the needs of the men he has befriended. The reader learns about Richard as well as his life has not been without problems- some of his own making. This is a truly important book to read in the light of the problems of refugees today.

Mai 28, 2018, 12:46pm

42. Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka I will be reading some books for children in the next little while.. Yesterday was "Doors Open" in Toronto and after I saw a new public gallery, I stopped at the House of Anansi Press bookstore. ( who knew where it was before I went to Doors Open)These books are intended for my young relatives so I wanted to talk a longer look than just a brief view at the bookstore. The story involves a young boy, Tokyo who lives in a big city with no views or sense of nature. After meeting an old woman who gives him some seeds, Tokyo plants them in his back yard. What happens next is the return of nature- trees, plants, animals and more. The brief story celebrates beauty in nature with the wonderful illustrations.A nice book for young children.

Mai 31, 2018, 10:50am

43. Circe by Madeline Miller I think that there are authors who create such a compelling narrative that the reader is carried along in a great story. This is one of those books. Miller narrates the story of Circe, a daughter of Helios, Titan god of the sun. Circe is ignored in her father's court and she looks to change her own life. She learns how to cast spells and because of her actions finds herself exiled to the deserted island of Aiaia. Learning more about how to cast spells, Circe is ready to confront the visitors to her island-good and bad. She is summoned to help her sister Pasiphae in childbirth in Crete and meets Daedalus. On her island she has a relationship with Odysseus and later meets Penelope and Telemachus. Circe stands up to the gods and this is really a modern twist to the story. I really liked Miller's interpretation of an old tale of the Greek Gods and Titans.

Jun. 1, 2018, 9:26am

44. The Breadwinner a graphic novel-book by Deborah Ellis and filmed by Nora TwomeyThis graphic novel is really an adaptation from the film that did receive an Oscar nomination. Ellis had written the story years ago. It is very dark not only in the artwork but the story itself. Parvana is a young girl who tries to help her father sell in the market in Kabul, Afghanistan. After her father is arrested and the family is destitute, Parvana dresses like a boy and is able to make some money. The story follows the family's attempts to leave Kabul and the fate of Parvana's father. The colours of the background to the story are all sepia, black and umber. The story as well reflects the suffering of people in the war torn country when the Taliban were in charge.This is a worthwhile read and targeted to young adults. I would be careful to assess whether the young person who will read this book is ready to handle the story.

Jun. 2, 2018, 11:04am

This might seem a little strange- I am on a jury for a book award- so I am not going to list the titles of the books that I have to read as part of the jury- I will fill in the titles after the winner is announced in Oct.
45. read first book for award

Jun. 5, 2018, 8:41am

46. book read for the award

Jun. 6, 2018, 8:49pm

47. book read for the award

Jun. 11, 2018, 10:46am

48. read for book award

Jun. 13, 2018, 9:44am

49. If A Horse Had Words by Kelly Cooper and illustrated by Lucy Eldridge. This is my ER book for the month-sigh- I have to stop signing up for ER books for a while- my great nieces are at the stage where they want to choose their own books.
This story is suitable to be read to young children. A young horse is born and soon gets its back legs in a badger hole. After being rescued by the farmer and his son, the horse is named Red Badger. The young horse grows up and does not want to have anyone on its back . This fact has consequences for what happens to the horse. Throughout the story, descriptive words are emphasized for the young reader or listener. The illustrations are quite lovely and will appeal to the young audience.

Jun. 14, 2018, 8:58pm

50. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz This murder mystery is a perfect summer read. A woman goes to a funeral parlour to plan her own service. Hours later she is found dead in her home. Hawthorne, a former detective makes an unusual proposal to a writer named Anthony Horowitz. Hawthorne has been asked by the police to investigate this murder. He wants Horowitz to write a book about his solving of this case and split the profits with him. The reader knows that this novel is written by Horowitz and some of the narrative feels like part of his real life as a writer. But this is still a fictional novel so we are not sure what is real and what is pure fiction. But there are good adventures as Hawthorne and Horowitz interview suspects and look for the killer.

51 Jacob Isaac Segal A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu by Pierre Anctil and translated into English from the French by Vivian Felsen Pierre Anctil wrote this history of the Yiddish poet J.I. Segal and his life ( mainly) in Montreal along with the poets and writers who worked in Yiddish in the first half of the 20th century. Anctil describes the influences on Segal's poetry and the main themes that figured in his work. Segal was never wealthy as he lived to write and made a modest living as a teacher of Yiddish. What is so wonderful about this history is that the author describes the society of Yiddish intellectuals and writers in Montreal in the 1920's and 30's. Anctil also comments on poetry that Segal wrote. The reader learns about the life of immigrants to Canada and Montreal and how that city influenced the writing of that first generation.

Jun. 21, 2018, 9:41am

52. Wait for Me Memoirs by Deborah Mitford. The youngest of the famous( and infamous Mitford sisters) wrote a memoir of her life with her family and her times as the Duchess of Devonshire. I was interested as I have visited Chatsworth- the home of the Devonshires. The author was the force behind the revival of the Chatsworth estate although she gives credit to many other people. Deborah Mitford was born into a very eccentric and very upper class English family. She was educated at home with governesses and learned how to ride and take part in the English hunt with all its rituals. Her sisters took very different paths as they grew up. Nancy was a writer.Decca became a journalist who wrote a famous books about the excesses of the funeral home industry in the United States. Diana married a famous English Fascist and Unity tried to kill herself after England declared war on Germany-she was a fan and friend to Hitler. Deborah Mitford writes about her own life which seemed very social compared to her sisters' worlds. In fact she comes across as an apologist for some of her sisters' actions. Part of the book details the different homes ( both old and stately) that the author lived in before and after marriage. She also knew so many people connected with politics and culture in England. An interesting set of notes at the end of the book report on two events the author attended- the inauguration and later the funeral of John Kennedy. I have read other books on the Mitford sisters and found the other books more informative on the actions of the sisters. This book was more intimate on the lives of the Mitford family. But this was a good summer read.

Jun. 21, 2018, 1:47pm

53. Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki This graphic novel is an excellent portrayal of teenagers - and more specifically a girl named Skim or Kim. She feels like she is an outsider in her school. She has a friend, Lisa and they believe that they might be witches. Kim seems isolated although the reader sees how she deliberately shields herself from possible rejection. Kim seems to begin relationship with a much admired teacher but that situation changes. The artwork by Jillian Tamaki is beautiful and the story by Mariko Tamaki feels real- there are no happy endings just a stage in the life of a troubled young woman.

Jun. 28, 2018, 1:39pm

54. The Ward Uncovered :The Archaeology of Everyday Life edited by Holly Martelle, Michael McClelland, Tatum Taylor, and John Lorinc.To me, this book is really a companion volume to the the book The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood.Some of the same editors were involved in this compilation of short articles on artifacts found in Armoury St site in the Ward or St. John's Ward in 19th century Toronto. A parking lot in downtown Toronto was to be turned into a new courthouse. However, because there were artifacts found on the site, an archaeological firm was hired to excavate the site. Many artifacts are found in abandoned privies. Each short piece in the book refers to a specific artifact found and the history of the buildings from the site. There was a synagogue, a 19th century Black church, factories and row houses. The compilation of histories of individuals, and institutions lead the reader to see that the area was more diverse than previously thought by historians. a really interesting read for me. In addition, a Toronto musician turned the stories into a performance piece -"The Ward Cabaret"- I saw it and it was wonderful!

Jun. 28, 2018, 2:41pm

Beem a while since I posted here. Fascinated by The Warbugs and, oddly, by Wait for Me ( even though I don’t know anything about that family). The Ward Uncovered sounds really interesting.

Jun. 30, 2018, 5:47pm

It was! I know one of the authors- I will have to ask her if the cabaret will be repeated and see what is next!
55. The Witches of New York by Ami McKay The author is a great storyteller. This novel takes place in New York City of 1880. Adelaide Thom who used to go by the name Moth( in McKays' previous book The Virgin Cure has opened a tea shop with a young woman who is a " keeper of spells". Adelaide and Eleanor St. Clair produce potions in their shop and are patronized by women in the upper classes of New York. A young woman comes into their life- Beatrice Dunn and soon all three women are involved in seances, threats from sinister individuals and more ghosts and spirits. A very good novel and there is soon to be a sequel as there were some interesting plot lines left to develop.

Jul. 11, 2018, 1:26pm

Just got back from a trip to Quebec City( really, really hot but a beautiful place) and a visit to the Four Winds Garden Or Le Quatre Vents in La Malbaie( about 2 hours outside of Quebec City)- the garden is owned by the family of the man- Francis Cabot - who designed the garden and is only open to the public for guided tours ( over 22 acres) four days a year- and you have to book online in Dec!- Wonderful visit- see the documentary to get an idea of the place and history!

56. Defiant Spirits :The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King I like the work of this author. I did read this book for the July Non-Fiction Read. King looks at the time in Canada in the early 20th century when a number of artists developed what has become known as the painting style of the Group of Seven. He shows that the artists who came from very different backgrounds, were influenced by theirs studies in Europe, a ground breaking art show by Scandinavian artists in Buffalo and most important, sketching and painting in Northern Ontario. These artists were not the first to go up north on canoe trips to search out a wilderness that was distinctly Canadian. King writes about the support of the director of the fledgling National Gallery of Canada, faithful benefactors, and the terrible reviews of the Canadian art critics. Under much duress and with a lack of sales of their work except for the National Gallery, the artists looked to change and perfect their style to describe the landscape. Two of the group were soldiers during World War 1. Their experiences in battle and recording the effects of war certainly had a effect on their lives. King does chronicle some of their lives although he does end his account at about 1931. The reader learns about the tragic end of Tom Thomson's life. King believed that this group of painters " were at the forefront of a cultural awakening in English Canada". His argument about their importance was so coherent- I gained more of an understanding about the role these artists have played in the creation and recognition of Canadian culture.

57. The Burning Girl by Claire Messud There are some authors who draw the reader into the story with their narrative- this is one of them. A young teenager , Julia, has had a best friend , Cassie, since they were in nursery school together. Cassie's mother, Bev was single parent as Cassie had been told that her father died early in her life. Julia's family is very close and creates a feeling of assurance for Julia as she grows up. After being close in elementary school, the two grow apart in middle and later high school. Julia is the high achiever who excels. Cassie is not as bright in academic subjects and finds new friends who seem to excel in the social world of teenagers. A change occurs when Bev finds a boyfriend- the controlling doctor, Anders Shute. Cassie seems to be caught in a situation that she hates. Julia is not close but knows that something is wrong. The reader never do finds out what exactly makes Cassie's life so terrible that she takes drastic action. Julia does have a dramatic effect on the course of Cassie's fateful decision. Julia is the narrator and learns to find a way to deal with loss, true friendship and family support. An excellent novel.

Jul. 12, 2018, 9:55am

>91 torontoc: What a beautiful place La Malbaie is. I would love to get to those gardens. I spent a week very close to them once, and every time I walked by I would crane my neck hoping to see something, but of course it was impossible. I posted a link once to his obituary, which had the greatest heading: Frances H Cabot, 86, Dies; Created Notable Gardens. What a wonderful way to be remembered - so different from all those other titans of commerce and their ilk you normally see in those pages.

Two weeks ago I spent time at Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, which was amazing and luckily the blue poppies were in bloom. in Canadian terms, it's not that far from La Malbaie. Maybe next year the garden gods will smile on me for Le Quatre Vents.

Interested in Defiant Spirits following your review. I once took two people from Italy to the McMichael to see some Group of Seven works, and they dismissed it with "Canadian art, it's all landscape. What's so interesting about that?" Ouch!!

Jul. 12, 2018, 2:06pm

>92 SassyLassy: You have to reserve right away when the booking period opens in Dec. - I was on the 8:45 am tour and the timing was perfect- slightly cool for the two and a half hour tour!

Jul. 12, 2018, 11:25pm

58. Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents by Mark Sakamoto This memoir won the 2018 Canada Reads-( a debate on radio with five books nominated and defended by five celebrities over one week.) I really liked the account written by the author. He relates the story of his paternal grandmother Mitsue-a Japanese Canadian who was expelled from her home in British Columbia along with her family and was moved to Alberta. He also tells the reader about his maternal grandfather Ralph- born on the Magdalen Islands and who enlisted in the Canadian army during World War Two. Ralph was sent to Hong Kong and was captured and spent time in prison camps. The two had children who married each other in Alberta. Both grandparents provided the author and his brother with a safe place to be when the parents divorced. The theme of forgiveness for past experience and present love is a strong part of this narrative.

Jul. 13, 2018, 8:21pm

59. French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano O.K. This is a terrible title. I was looking through some books to see if I had any to give to a friend running a yard sale for a charity.
Actually, although the first chapter is slightly patronizing and maybe parts of the last chapter as well, the majority of this work has some common sense advice. The book reads like a study in how to eat and live in a more healthy way. The advice- eat more fruits and vegetables, eat three meals a day slowly and make it an occasion, drink more water, walk more every day, look for seasonal fruits and veg and do more cooking. In fact there are some nice recipes.The author advises enjoy food and look for the best in the your area. So the book has merit- except for the title.

Jul. 19, 2018, 8:34am

60. Granta 81 Best of Young British Novelists 2003 edited by Ian Jack Well I dug deep into my book tower. It is interesting to see which of the twenty writers have made their mark- so Monica Ali, Rachel Cusk , David Mitchell , Sarah Waters, Hari Kunzru, Rachel Seiffert, Zadie Smith and Nicola Barker are on the list. The short stories- as with any collection, some are really good and some not so good.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 20, 2018, 12:24pm

61. Personal Velocity by Rebecca MillerSo I picked out some books to read that were on the bottom of one of my book towers. This series of short stories was made into a film a number of years ago. ( I didn't see it). I probably should have stopped reading but curiosity led me to finish. Too many victimized women in bad situations. Theoretically the women came from different backgrounds-rich and poor- but they seem to sound and act the same.

Jul. 23, 2018, 9:41am

62. The Other Woman by Daniel Silva ( weird touchstones this morning) This spy novel is one of the author's better stories . I wasn't happy with his last two novels in the series featuring Gabriel Allon. In this story Allon is looking for a mole who might be in one of the highest positions in the British government espionage department. The reader follows how the British, French and Israeli agencies tracks down this person with interesting references to the Russian spy Kim Philby. There is a nice twist and some references to current political realities. I am going to hear the author speak this week. I will report.

Jul. 30, 2018, 10:42am

Daniel Silva is a very engaging speaker. There were over 1000 people at the event where he was interviewed by the Books Editor of the Toronto Star.

63. The Patriots by Sana Krasikov The author writes about Florence Fein, a very headstrong young woman who leaves the United States in 1934 to live and work in the Soviet Union. Alternating chapters related the story of her son, Julian, in 2008, who is advising for a Russian company but living in the United States. Julian is in Moscow for a series of business meetings. At the same time he is trying to convince his son Lenny who works in Russia to leave and find new work anywhere else. Julian also is looking for the KGB files on his parents. The novel follows Florence, her husband and her friends as they live and work in the Russia of 1930's, the second world war and aftermath. Florence's decisions will impact all those around her as well as determine her own fate. This is an excellent story.

Jul. 30, 2018, 11:53am

>99 torontoc: I liked The Patriots a lot—great yarn, and a good portrait of 20th-century Russia.

Aug. 6, 2018, 11:13am

>100 lisapeet: I agree- a good story!

and now for something more contemplative!

64. Back alleys and urban landscapes by Michael Cho This is really an album of drawings done by the author of back alleys in downtown Toronto. They were drawn mainly at night in monochrome for the most part. Cho writes that as a young man he liked to go out at night and read. This habit led to Cho's many depictions of the life in back alleys- there are no figures just the evidence of lives lived in small spaces. The restricted palette of colours and the dominance of texture in the wood and bricks of the structures lend a kind of melancholy mood to the work. I liked the small compositions of the works.

Aug. 7, 2018, 12:31pm

65. Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue by Mark Kurlansky The author is noted for his non-fiction work. This novel has too many characters in it for me. The stories of Jews, Puerto Ricans, Italians and Dominicans passing as Puerto Ricans have too many plot lines to follow. The stories centre around the Seltzer family who live on the Lower East Side, The father, Harry, manages many buildings that were owned by his wife's family. However, Harry almost never collects rent and likes to sponsor musicians. Harry's son Nathan has a copy shop and is married to Sonia, a masseuse, who is writing a play about Emma Goldman and Margarita Maza Juarez. Nathan has a number of issues- he wants to give his young daughter swimming lessons and he has become claustrophobic. He also lusts after the daughter of the German baker. And someone is killing people in the area. The stories pile one on top of each other and do resolve. It was an exhausting read but there are some great recipes in the back of the book.

Aug. 8, 2018, 2:33pm

66. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay. This was a very fast paced and interesting thriller although I did guess who one of the killers was before the end. A fourteen year old -Cynthia- wakes up in the morning after drinking too much with a boyfriend and being yelled at by her father. She finds that her brother and parents have disappeared. The story then continues 25 years later. Cynthia is married to Terry and has an eight year old daughter Grace. However she is still haunted by what happened. As a result Cynthia is over protective of Grace. There is some conflict between Terry and his wife. Cynthia is certain that someone has been following her. After appearing on a television programme that publicizes unsolved crimes Cynthia and her family receive clues about the mystery surrounding her family. As well, there are some murders. Terry tries to find out what happened and his detective work lead to answers. The novel is highly constructed so that the reader is really carried along with the clues. A good book to read all at once.

Aug. 9, 2018, 10:13am

67.Granta 110 Sex edited by John Freeman I really dug into my book tower for this one. I thought that it would qualify for the August non-fiction read but it really doesn't. There are some memoirs in the collection but the majority of the material is fiction. The stories are -some good and some not so good. The best in my opinion was the story at the back of the book by Jeanette Winterson. Her take on the Greek gods was really fun to read.

Aug. 9, 2018, 4:18pm

>104 torontoc: I've been meaning to dip into some of my old unread Grantas for a while. I was a subscriber and read them religiously for a while and then sort of fell off the wagon. I've accumulated a few here and there since, mostly from library sales and the like, but there's always a gem or two to be found in them.

Aug. 9, 2018, 8:03pm

>105 lisapeet: yes I agree- I used to buy and read every issue but at one point( don't remember when) I lost interest in keeping up.

Aug. 9, 2018, 9:20pm

I love the way those old Grantas smelled when you first cracked them (maybe the new ones do too?). And I always like the photography they feature, even though it's usually too small IMO.

Aug. 15, 2018, 9:27am

> 107 yes-the production value is really good- better than some of the current paperbacks that I have read.

68. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. I can see why this book won the Man Booker Prize. There are many voices in this novel about the attempted assassination of the " Singer" in Jamaica in 1976. The author uses the stories of some of the gunman, the leaders- drug and political, a journalist, and a rejected lover to show the atmosphere, grinding poverty and the life in the slums of West Kingston. The " singer" is supposed to be the late Bob Marley- who is never named but understood to be the real subject. The story covers about 30 years as some of the would be killers move to New York to control the drug trade there. There are connections to the actions of the CIA, the Cubans, and the Medellin Cartel. Some or many of the actions are terrible to read- killings and the casual destruction of many lives. However the voices of the many characters compelled me to read this very big( 686 pages) book. An excellent read.

Aug. 23, 2018, 9:47am

69. Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss. This novel is really two stories- about a man,Jules Epstein, who makes radical changes in his life and a young novelist who makes a trip to Israel to think about her writer's block and her failing marriage. Epstein has divorced his wife after a long marriage, sold his paintings and travelled to Israel. Here he meets a young woman who is making a film about King David.He also looks to making a significant donation for a suitable commemoration to his parents. The novelist meets a retired professor who tells her a fantastic story about what really happened to the writer Kafka and ask her to complete a secret project. The novelist thinks about her life and the ramifications of her actions. She also reflects on the work and meanings of Kafka's writings. The novelist might be a fictional depiction of the real author as many details are similar to the Krauss's life. The book's ideas give the reader a lot to think about and invite return reading on specific passages. A book that is not an easy read but one worth pursuing.

Aug. 24, 2018, 11:24am

70. The Hydrofoil Mystery by Eric Walters. This Early Reviewers novel is designed for " early young adult readers". The setting is Nova Scotia in 1915. A fifteen year old boy- William McCracken- is sent by his mother to work with famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell for the summer. William's father is never home as he is a sailor on merchant marine ships. William had been friends with a bad crowd and learned how to gamble and cheat. Graham Bell has a farm and a facility where he is developing a hydrofoil boat. William still gets into trouble but is saved by Graham Bell who notes his interest in the hydrofoil. The story has sabotage, German spies and more. This is an adventure story that will interest the early teen reader in my opinion.

About to pick my films for the festival- the system has changed ( yet again) and I might have difficulty getting all my first choices.

Aug. 29, 2018, 12:44pm

71. The Assassin's Song by M.G. Vassanji. I really like the works-both fiction and non-fiction by this author!.Karsan Dargawalla is the son of the " saheb or keeper" of the shrine at Pirbang. The shrine is dedicated to Nur Fasal- a thirteenth century mystic sufi. Karsan's family have been the guardians of this place for many generations. But Karsan doesn't want this position - he just want to be a " ordinary" boy. The pressures to take on this role lead Karsan to look to applying for educational opportunities outside India. He is accepted by Harvard on full scholarship. Karsan's family are not really pleased by this move but agree. After a few years, Karsan writes his father to reject the role that was set out for him. The fall out- estrangement from his father and family- and Karsan's new life as a professor in Canada- lead to many years of isolation from the life that Karsan led as a boy. After many years and some tragic events in his new life, Karsan travels back to India to explore what happened to his family and to research the story of the sufi. The meetings with his brother, Mansoor lead Karsan to learn more about family history and the dangerous role that Mansoor is taking on. The book's chapters alternate with past and present as Karsan thinks about his own beliefs.This is an excellent book.

Sept. 2, 2018, 9:02am

72. Seven Fallen Feathers Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
This book has won many prizes in Canada. Talaga is a journalist with the Toronto Star and has written a very compelling account of the deaths of seven Indigenous high school students. The students had moved to city of Thunder Bay ( a city in the north of Ontario) to attend high school. Their homes were in small reserves with very limited access to higher education. The school that they attended was built specifically for Indigenous students with access to help from teachers. However , living in a boarding house situation and separated from family led many students to take up behaviours that would lead them to danger. Talaga questions the way the Thunder Bay police handled the disappearance and subsequent finding of the seven bodies of these students. There seems to be evidence overlooked that indicate killing rather than " no evidence of foul play." (In fact the police force is under investigation.) She also gives the reader an education in the history of Indigenous education, the actions of Canada's federal government, and the terrible history of residential schools. This is a must read for those who want to be educated in the problems facing Indigenous families who want to give their children a good education.

Sept. 7, 2018, 11:59am

73.Little Sister by Barbara GowdyIn this novel Gowdy writes about the life of Rose Bowen. Rose owns and manages a repertory movie theatre in Toronto. She also keeps an eye on her mother Fiona who helps her at the theatre and seems to drift in and out of senility. Throughout the story the reader learns about Rose's little sister, Ava, who died very young. Rose also is affected by extreme weather-thunderstorms- to be exact where lately she seems to dream about being in another women's body- Harriet. Rose learns about Harriet's problems and tried to track her down . The chapter alternate between the present ( around 2005) and the early childhood of Rose and Ava on a farm property. The characters in this story are quirky and contribute to the life and Rose and her family. The reader learns about Rose's guilt and how it influences the choices that she makes. Gowdy is a very good storyteller.

Sept. 7, 2018, 8:57pm

Well, the first film that I saw last night was a real stinker- in fact everyone in the very large audience laughed as the thriller/ gruesome film became more bizarre.
So the name
I am not mentioning the names of the director or actors- they have all been in better!

Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
Director : Barry Avrich

What an inspiring documentary. Ben Ferencz was an immigrant to the United States as a young boy. He went to law school at Harvard but during World War 2, he enlisted in the US army and was in the infantry. He was part of the group that liberated some of the concentration camps. Ben Ferencz was on the prosecution team at the Nuremberg Trials and later was the main prosecutor of German generals who led the death squads that conducted mass killings of Jewish people-the Einsatzgruppen. All the evidence was available in the meticulous records that the German army kept. Later Ferencz was one of the key people in the creation of the United Nation's international court of Justice. The director interviewed Ferencz in Florida where he lives now- Ben Ferencz is now 99 years old and very sharp . This was evident not only in the film but also in the question and answer period after the film- he was on Skype.

Sept. 11, 2018, 10:48pm

Director : Zhang Yimou

I love a good historical drama and this one was directed by the man who made " Raise the Red Lantern". The palette of this film is composed in shades of greys, black and white. ( plus the red of blood in the many fighting scenes)The ink wash painting tradition is seen in the palace of the Pei King. Pei is ruled by a unstable king. His military commander has a great reputation but has pledged to fight a duel with the Pang leader for the freedom of the city Jing- previously ruled by the Pei. The commander has a secret- he is ailing and has used a young man as his "shadow" to fight his battles. Only the commander's wife knows of the deception. The battles and betrayals in this film are dramatic. There was a lot of bloodshed but it was a terrific film!

Working Woman
Director Michal Aviad

The TIFF programmer who introduced this film said that it was one of the best depictions of sexual harassment that she has seen in film . I would have to agree. Orna has three young children and a husband who has just started his own restaurant. She gets what she considers a lucky break when she gets a job as an assistant to a real estate development firm. Her boss, Benny, sees that she is very accomplished and does promote her. However, he takes advantage of Orna as he slowly becomes more aggressive in his attentions to her. Orna's reactions are interesting- she rejects the advances but seems uncomfortable in confronting Benny directly. Eventually she does take a step that might seem minute to the viewer but does show growth in her resolve to learn from her past.

The Wedding Guest
United Kingdom
Director: Michael Winterbottom

This is a very interesting story about motives and secrets. A young man ( played so well by Dev Patel) travels to Pakistan from England. The viewer sees him renting and driving first one then another car to a remote village. He also buys guns and tape. He then proceeds to abduct a young woman who is about to be married in the town. He does not know her. They travel to India. The young woman knew that someone would be taking her away from the marriage that she did not want to go through with. The abductor was a friend of her boyfriend- they were planning to run away. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the plan and both the woman and man are on the run from the authorities.This is a really well directed and acted film.

The Sisters Brothers
Director : Jacques Audiard

I had such great hopes for this film since I loved the book. However, the writers and director lost the quirky feel of the original story. The actors were all very good-John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as the murderous brothers, Jake Gyllenhaal as the scout who betrays them, and Riz Ahmed as the chemist with a secret formula that could transform the gold fields of California in the 1850's. There was a lot of brutality but the repartee of the dialogue was not there. And-- the film could use editing.

Sept. 12, 2018, 10:21am

Fahrenheit 11/9
Director : Michael Moore

Yes, this latest documentary by Moore castigates everyone- Republicans, Democrats and more for what is happening in the United States. He talks about the Flint Michigan water crisis and who is responsible, Trump and what led to his victory, the high school shootings in Florida and more. There is humour and anger in this film. I saw the second showing of the film. Moore gave a question and answer session at the end of the film, gave everyone in the audience red bandanas, and then invited everyone to a party at a restaurant nearby. ( I was tired at that point and went home)

Sept. 17, 2018, 9:21am

74. French Exit by Patrick DeWitt. I was really disappointed in this novel after eagerly looking forward to a new book by this author. A very spoiled woman, Frances Price and her grown up son Malcolm have run through all their money. Frances was accused of neglect when she went off to ski in Vail after seeing that her husband was dead- she just left him in their apartment. Frances took her son out of boarding school and the two of them lived on the Upper West Side for many years. Taking what was left of her funds, Frances and Malcolm go off to Paris by boat-they will live in a borrowed apartment in Paris. They also smuggle their aging cat, Small Frank, aboard. Frances believes that Small Frank is really her dead husband. In Paris Frances and Malcolm meet a variety of characters who interact with them and stay in the apartment. The book has been described as a " Tragedy of manners" and " send up of high society". I think that it is a story of sad people with no moral centre.

Sept. 17, 2018, 1:14pm

Directed by Markus Schleinzer

Set in the 18th century, Angelo is a young black boy captured and sent to Europe where he is selected to be educated by a French noblewoman. Her prejudices are shown as she tries to educate Angelo to be obedient and " saved" from his origins. The film shows Angelo at different stages of his life as he is shown off for his musical ability first by his French owner and later by his Austrian owner as an actor. Acquired by the Austrian emperor, Angelo later tries to achieve some independence. The viewer sees how his life progresses although the society in which he lives still views him and blacks as the "other" to be viewed as if in a museum. The ending is particularly brutal but does make the point.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

This is a semi-autobiographical story by the director that in a way is a tribute to the women who raised him. The black and white film depicts the world of 1970's Mexico City and the Roma District. Cleo is one of two live-in maids ( and nanny) who work for an upper class family. The husband, a doctor , leaves his wife and doesn't contact their young four children. Cleo , herself becomes pregnant and her boyfriend then disappears. The mother, Sofia, helps Cleo. The film shows how both women ( and Sofia's mother as well) support each other through crises and how the children depend on Cleo to help them through this period of emotional instability. An excellent film.

Sept. 17, 2018, 5:15pm

Red Joan
United Kingdom
Directed by Trevor Nunn

This film was the best edited and had the most riveting story in the festival. And of course, it had Judi Dench. The story was " inspired" by a true story. Judi Dench plays Joan Stanley a grandmother who is charged with espionage. Her son is enraged.The viewer sees the story of her life from two points of view. The younger Joan is played so well by Sophie Cookson. Doing her time studying at Cambridge in 1938, Joan meets two very glamorous refugees- Sonya and her brother Leo. Both are Communists. Joan goes to all the meetings but does not join. She is infatuated with Leo and they have a relationship. After graduation Joan obtains a job in a secret laboratory. She is asked by Leo to hand over information so that he can take it to the Russians. She refuses and Leo seems to disappear from her life. Joan find romance with her boss but that does not seem to work out. After the war, the laboratory works on plans a nuclear bomb. Joan is horrified that " one side" would have the ability to wipe out so many people ( she saw what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki) She does then copy all the information from her lab and pass it to Sonya. After a few traumatic incidents and betrayals- she realizes that she has to stop. The pace of the film works really well and the actors are excellent.

Legend of the Demon Cat- Director's Cut
Directed by Chen Kaige

The director worked with a writer friend of his to create this fantasy story that used two real historical figures- Bai Juyi, a famous Chinese poet( shown at the beginning of his career) and a Japanese monk Kukai who brought forms of Buddhism to Japan. In this story a mysterious cat has been creating havoc in the royal court- the emperor is near death and the cat has enchanted the wife of the head of the imperial guard. ( You can get an idea of this film as " Harry Potter meets ancient China"). Kukai has been brought to the court to help the emperor. However not only does he die but his son becomes paralyzed. Both the monk and let set out to solve the mystery of the cat and it's powers before it kills again. The monk traces the cat back to the previous emperor who also had a famous concubine- Lady Yang. By interviewing many of the officials the two piece together the story of Lady Yang, her mysterious death that saved the emperor from a mutiny and the revenge that the cat wants to bring to all those involved. Chen Kaige built a city( took over five years) that housed this story. The fantasy scenes of celebration for Lady Yang's birthday were amazing- in fact the whole film was beautiful. I really enjoyed it.

Sept. 18, 2018, 10:16am

I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians
Romania/Czech Republic/France/Bulgaria/Germany
Directed by Radu Jude

The director( he also wrote the screen play) shows the viewer his concern with the representation of history and in this case -that of Romania's actions in World War Two. A young director- Mariana- is organizing a re-enactment of a battle and massacre in Odessa. Romanian troops defeated the Soviet army in Odessa and then killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews. She insists against opposition from a prominent city official that the whole story must be told. The audience sees through Mariana the views of many writers and historians as she debates the official, her lover and other people associated with the re-enactment. The film is very long( two and a half hours) and parts of the story take the form of a scholarly debate. The end result is surprising to Mariana and show the audience why this director is intent on presenting this topic today.

Directed by Christian Petzold

This film story was adapted from the book of the same name by Anna Seghers. In fact the story is the same. The director ( and also the screenwriter) has just transposed the story from World War Two Marseille to the present day ,keeping the Nazis, French and American officials as they would be during the war. This actually works as we draw comparison with present day refugees.. Georg is a German hiding in Paris. He is given letters to deliver to a writer- Weidl- at a hotel but discovers that he has killed himself. Taking the writer's manuscript and documents, Georg flees to Marseille where he is mistaken for the writer. George also finds out that Weidl's wife has been looking for him all over Marseille although she left Weidl in Paris for another man. The documents can give Georg passage to Mexico and he struggles with some new relationships with a young boy who is the son of another murdered refugee, the doctor who helps the boy and finally Weidl's wife. This is a very competent retelling of the refugee story by the director.

Out of Blue
United Kingdom
Directed by Carol Morley

This film takes place in New Orleans. And the script was adapted from Night Train by Martin Amis. A tough detective ( played so well by Patricia Clarkson) investigates the murder of a professor who was found shot to death at an observatory where she had given a lecture the night before. The viewer sees that the detective has her own set of demons that haunt her and have directed her own life. She links the killing to the professor's dysfunctional family, and a set of unsolved murders from years ago. The atmosphere is very dark but the script is satisfying in the direction of the plot. Like many films at the festival-the one could use more editing but I did enjoy it.

Sept. 20, 2018, 11:06am

Directed by Boaz Yehonatab Vacov and Joseph Madmony

I thought that this would be more upbeat but it was very sad with a sort of uplifting conclusion. As with some of the films at TIFF- it needed some editing. A man who was very religious worked at a low paying job as he supported himself and his daughter. His wife had died and his young daughter was now undergoing treatment for cancer. Previously before he became religious, he was part of a rock and roll band. He now turned to his former partners to regroup and play for weddings as he needed more money for an new experimental treatment for his daughter. The band members were skeptical of his demand but did agree. The viewer follows the man and his daughter as he tries to balance the needs of his religious practice with the strengthening his relationships with friends and his daughter.
Very touching film.

Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto

A young samurai had been living in a small farming community helping them with the harvest in mid 19th century. He trains a young boy who dreams of becoming a fighter and flirts with the daughter of the family. Into this calm scene comes an older samurai who asks the young warrior and the boy to accompany him to Edo to fight for the emperor. As well a band of ruffians come tot the village. The young samurai realizes that he has to go fight although he has double whether he can or wants to kill. A series of catastrophic events (with much bloodshed and fighting) led him to a tortured conclusion. The scenes are either the green of the fields and forests or the muddied rocks and ground of the battles. A very dramatic story.

The Dive
Directed by Yona Rozenkier.

This film has a lot going on. A man, Yoav comes back to the kibbutz in the north of Israel that has been hit by missiles at the time of war with Lebanon. He has come back for the burial of his father.( the father died a year previously- he willed his body to science for a year and then burial)His two brothers, have been living with their mother at the kibbutz and are also preparing to do their military service. One brother is terrified and the other is enthusiastic. Yoav is in conflict with his family as he has not spoke to them for over a year. He was a major in the army but suffered from trauma. The conflicts among the three brothers as they try to honour their father's requests and their own relationships form the plot of the film. What was interesting is that the director not only acted in the film ( his first ) but he used his own brothers as the brothers in the film. It was a little autobiographical and the director's first film.

Well -17 films- there were others that I wanted to see but had to make a choice- so until the Hot Docs film festival in April- I am back to books.

Sept. 20, 2018, 2:07pm

75. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The author has written a very touching story about a family in Nigeria. Narrated by teenager Kambili, the story contrast the life Kambili and her brother Jaja live with their parents in Enugu with the more welcoming household of their Aunt Ifeoma. Kambili's father, Eugene, is a rich and powerful figure. He also has created a tense and threatening atmosphere in the home. His wife is usually very obliging to her husband's wishes. A strict Catholic, Eugene, requires his children to be the best and very obedient. Both children have been injured by their father's punishments. Jaja and Kambili are invited to stay with their aunt and her children in another town. Their visit is eye-opening and life changing. They see how Ifeoma encourages her children and has helped them be independent thinkers. The narrative shows how damaging their upbringing has been to both Jaja and Kambili. Returning home after their visit, both brother and sister find their lives changed by surprising events that change their lives. The narrative voice of Kambili demonstrates how she learns to be more assertive.

Sept. 25, 2018, 5:30pm

76. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit Where Nature and the Sacred Meet edited by Ellen Bernstein I read this book in order to take part in the Non-Fiction Challenge. The editor introduces each chapter's theme. This introduction provides continuity as the many contributors write about Judaism's connection to nature, preserving the environment and the connection with the Harvest Holidays of Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot. Each chapter looks at a different aspect of the texts that connect Judaism with preservation of nature. Some of the passages are solely concerned with text and great philosophers while others describe the contributor's personal experience- A great book to read just as the Jewish fall holidays happen.

Sept. 28, 2018, 8:50pm

77. The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre Stories about spies are my secret pleasure and this author always writes good books on the subject. Macintyre relates the story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB veteran who became a British spy. The book is really a biography of the man from his family background ( father a KGB operative as well) to his decision to spy for the British. As well, when Gordievsky is perhaps identified by the KGB as an agent of the British spy service MI6, the British work out a plan to get him out of Russia. The book is a really good read!

Sept. 29, 2018, 8:23am

>124 torontoc: Ben Macintyre’s books are really good, and read like novels. I haven’t read The Spy and the Traitor, and now have it on my list. I’m glad it is good.

Okt. 1, 2018, 8:57am

>125 NanaCC: I haven't read all of Macintyre's books- I have to look for some of his earlier works.

78.The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarre This was a mesmerizing story but very grim. Alec Leamas was the head of the Berlin station for the British Secret Service but all of his agents have been killed by the East Germans. The reader sees as he seems to go downhill from petty jobs to brawls that land him in jail. He is picked up by East German spies who want him to defect and tell them all about his time in M16. The reader also knows that this is a setup in order to catch the head of the East German security. However, there is double-cross after double cross as each side's true intentions are revealed. This was a good book to read.

Okt. 1, 2018, 10:48pm

>126 torontoc: I would recommend Agent Zigzag. It was a page turner.

Okt. 4, 2018, 4:36pm

>127 NanaCC: I read that- it was!

79. Tinker, Tailor,Soldier, Spy by John LeCarre I really am getting hooked on the books featuring George Smiley. In this case Smiley was dismissed by the British Secret Service. However, after a year where everything seems to go wrong with the " Circus"( the nickname for the secret service) Smiley is asked to look into the possibility of a " mole" in the Circus by a government minister. A spy has brought some extraordinary material to one of the Circus officials. Smiley is aided by a few loyal people as he reconstructs events that led to the downfall of his former boss-" Control" and the takeover of the Circus by a number of people duped by the mole. I enjoyed the structure of the plot and the character descriptions.

Okt. 7, 2018, 1:31pm

80. Dance To The Piper by Agnes De Mille This memoir by the famous choreographer was published in 1951. It really is De Mille's story about her early years and struggle to make a name for herself in dance. As a daughter and niece of the famed directors and producers William and Cecil, many acquaintances in the dance world thought that Agnes had money although she didn't. Her father didn't want her to dance. Her mother was very controlling in the early part of her life but later provided much emotional and financial support. This memoir is about the gruelling steps that De Mille took in her quest to be recognized as a dancer and later maker of dance. She moved to England and worked with some of the now legends of the dance world - Marie Rambert and Anthony Tudor. DeMille was involved with both Russian and American ballet companies. She describes the real world of itinerant dancers and the poverty and unsettled lives that they led. The end of the book deals with De Mille's success as she created the ballet "Rodeo" and the choreography for the musical " Oklahoma". I really enjoyed this book.

Okt. 7, 2018, 6:54pm

“many acquaintances in the dance world thought that Agnes had money although she didn't. ” - That’s kind of interesting in itself.

I’m just catching your last film reviews. A lot of fascinating stuff. The spy novels sound fun.

Okt. 8, 2018, 10:32pm

>130 dchaikin: the spy novels are great-
Agnes DeMille did have some money from her mother but she was very anxious that she would use up all her mother's savings( her parents divorced) She spent it on outfitting companies to tour with her own choreography
The film festival was fun- I see that The Sisters Brothers is getting better film reviews from the newspaper critics than I gave it.
I just saw "A Star is Born" -it is excellent!

Okt. 15, 2018, 9:17am

81. Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore I really like the work of this author and looked forward to reading this new book of short stories. The " wordsmithing" is great. But I didn't appreciate the subjects or story lines. I was disappointed in this book as I enjoyed this author's previous works.
Well everyone has different tastes.
I recently saw a film that was based on a book that I liked- I did not like the film but all the reviews has been very positive.

Okt. 15, 2018, 5:23pm

82. Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra. I liked to read interesting children's books that are intended for gifts for my nieces's children. This book shows the various animals that were pets of the famous artist. Kahlo's life and some of the problems that she had are referred to but not in a " heavy way". The illustrations are well crafted as the young reader learns about Frida Kahlo's art.

Okt. 16, 2018, 11:25am

83. Jackie's Girl by Kathy McKeon I was given this book as a gift- it is a memoir of the author's life as a personal assistant and part-time governess to Jackie Kennedy and her children that began a year after President Kennedy's assassination. The author talks about her early life growing up in rural Ireland and how she went to work in the U.S. as a young woman. her descriptions of life with the Kennedy family show an inside view of the life of Jackie Kennedy and her children and the behaviours of the staff that worked for and protected them. It is a very easy book to read and shows both the kindness of the Kennedy family and some of their foibles.

Okt. 19, 2018, 8:28pm

84. Transcription by Kate Atkinson. Eighteen year old Juliet Armstrong seems to be without ambition after the death of her mother. But in 1940, she is given a job with the British agency MI5. Juliet sits and transcribes the conversations that are held in the next flat with Fascist sympathizers and a government operative. Later she is given the opportunity to actually interact with another group of British Fascists. Juliet lives through some dramatic and sinister events. The story continues in 1950 when Juliet is a radio producer with the BBC. However, some of people who were involved in her wartime actions seem to crop up and perhaps threaten her. The story takes a surprising turn and as a reader, I find myself wanting to reread in order to look for clues that I might have missed. This is a gripping story!

Okt. 19, 2018, 9:38pm

ah, the new Atkinson. Sounds fun.

Okt. 22, 2018, 11:02pm

>136 dchaikin: It was a really good read!

85. The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carre This book contains a number of sketches of the spy life as told by one of the veterans of the British spy establishment- Ned. He has been instructing future spy masters. One of his mentors was George Smiley. Ned invites him to speak to the students. Each chapter has Ned recalling a specific case in his own career. The reader sees how disillusioning the spy world is with betrayals and secrets. Many stories end with the destruction of agents both physically and mentally. This is a well written set of interlocking stories.

Okt. 27, 2018, 12:19pm

86.Tales From The Inner City by Shaun TanThis is really a book for adults. The author has written and illustrated wonderful books for young adults and children. This one, I think has a number of messages for a mature reader. The stories assembled in this collection are sad and the illustrations are not funny but somber. Each story looks at the relationships between people and animals. There is a certain amount of whimsy but the messages relayed have a significance for the thinking adult who looks at the implications of neglect in our environment. Crocodiles live on the eighty-seventh floor of an office building. A big fish lives in the sky and still risks death. A dog looks at the separation between a person and animal. I think that the author conveys a powerful message about our stewardship of the planet through this collection.

87.Imagine! by Raul Colon This picture book has no words. Instead the illustrations tell the story of a young boy who goes to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He invites some of the images from paintings by Matisse and Picasso to leave their canvass and go on a trip through the city with him. The work is beautiful and the author/artist relates the story of his own life at the end of the book.

Nov. 6, 2018, 2:11pm

88. The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carre This novel is the second in a series that involves George Smiley and perhaps the elusive Karla. An operation that is run by the "Circus" or British Secret Service hopes to flesh out the relationships between Russia, perhaps China and a mysterious Hong Kong millionaire. George Smiley entrusts part of this mission to Gerry Weatherby- a operative who is pulled out of retirement and sent to Hong Kong, Saigon, Vientiane, and Bangkok. Gerry is diligent in finding out information but eventually makes some decisions that could spell disaster for the British. There is betrayal on many levels in this very dense read. I was fascinated by the complex plots and descriptions of the conditions in the above cities and countries just before the fall of Saigon and the take over of Cambodia.

89. If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson. I actually read this book earlier as part of the Early Reviewers programme- although this book is a board book and the first book that I read was a regular paged children's book. So the famed algorithm may have made a mistake. The story is still wonderful and the illustrations are still charming. A little boy thinks that he would like a new pet that is different than his hamster. But each choices comes with problems- and in the end he likes his hamster!

Bearbeitet: Nov. 10, 2018, 5:40pm

90. Smiley's People by John Le Carre I have had a great time reading the three books with " Karla"( the Russian superspy). In this novel George Smiley finally is able to neutralize his greatest enemy. The plot takes the reader through a puzzling set of situations with murder, hidden identities and small bits of clues that George has to figure out. George has been in a forced retirement but is called back to work with the British secret service when a former informer or spy is murdered. The man, Vladimir, had been trying to contact Smiley. The search for the truth leads Smiley to bring back some of his former colleagues who were also forcibly retired- Tony and Connie are key to helping Smiley solve the mystery of the killings and finding the soft spot in Karla's life.

Nov. 10, 2018, 9:02pm

91. Haven The Unknown Story of 1000 World War 11 Refugees by Ruth Gruber This book was written in 1983. I have seen a documentary on the life of Ruth Gruber and her story is amazing. ( in fact she was at the screening when she was in her nineties( she died at age 105). Ruth Gruber studied in Germany in the 1930's but wisely came back to the US after graduating with a Phd. She became a writer and journalist. Her adventures in Alaska and Soviet Asia were documented in another book. She was a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes during the second world war. In 1944 President Roosevelt decided to let 1000 refugees into the US to be sheltered until the end of the war. Ickes wanted Ruth Gruber to go on the ship taking the refugees from Europe to the US. They were to be settled in Fort Ontario, a former army camp near the Oswego, New York. This book is the story of this passage, the settling in Fort Ontario, and the fight to keep these people in the US after the war ended. Ruth Gruber recounts the histories of many of the refugees and how they fared in the US. The stories of separated families, deaths in concentration camps, escapes and their suffering are heartbreaking. However, the ability to adapt and grow by these refugees is inspiring- The reader learns about the fate of many of the 1000 in the last chapter as Ruth Gruber and many of the former refugees attend a dedication at Fort Ontario thirty five years later. The fight to keep these people from being returned to Europe lasted until 1946.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 8:27am

92. The Ambassador by Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees Sometimes dystopian literature is hard to read. I actually put this book down for half a year- it was painful to imagine the situation that both authors thought up for this novel. The " What If" is as follows. Great Britain recognized the state of Israel in 1938. The Israelis have a diplomatic ties with Nazi Germany. They are trying to process as many exit visas for German Jews as possible. In order for this to happen, the ambassador has to have good relations with many of the German hierarchy who are crucial to keeping Hitler in power and carrying out his policies. There are some subplots with Israelis trying to assassinate Hitler, surprising allies and some " Indiana Jones" actions by the main characters. I was uncomfortable with some of the "what ifs" although one is one that many today hoped would happen. I have mixed feelings about this book. The authors are interesting. Yehuda Avner was an Israeli diplomat and had been an ambassador to a number of countries. Matt Rees is a novelist and foreign correspondent.

Recently I saw some good films but both were intense and sad- "Beautiful Boy" and " Can You Ever Forgive Me"

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:26am

93. Recipes for Victory Great War Food from the Front and Kitchens Back Home In Canada edited by Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich This is a very interesting cookbook and history of food preparation during the first world war. It was published by the city of Toronto and was researched by the " Volunteer Historic Cooks" at Fort York National Historic site( in Toronto) In fact I heard one of the editors give a talk ( and provide samples- loved the " Scottish Fancies" cookies and "Canadian War Cake") last week. This book has a history of what food was provided to the Canadian troops during the war, what was sent to them and the measures the government took to change food habits in Canada. There was a need to send beef and pork to Great Britain and the troops. The editors were lucky to access the notebooks and recipe books of a soldier who was trained as a cook for the army and enlisted men-not officers. The recipes are interesting- the volunteer cooks took the originals from government pamphlets of the time as well as contemporary cookbooks. The original recipes are presented along with modern adaptations. I plan to try out some of the baked goods recipes soon.

Nov. 18, 2018, 6:52pm

94. Mort Ziff Is Not Dead by Cary FaganI received this book from the ER programme and it is a very nice story for young readers. The setting is first Toronto and then Miami Beach in 1965. Norman Fishbein is a young boy who is always being tormented by his older brothers. He wins a contest and uses the money to finance a trip to Miami Beach with his whole family. At the hotel, the boys meet a family and their three formidable daughters. They all seem to be opponents until Norman meets the youngest, Amy, and they in turn meet the ageing comedian -Mort Ziff. How Amy and Norman save Mort's career and help their brothers and sisters become friends is the basis for this story. The writing is age appropriate for the young reader who needs a more complex story to understand and follow. I have always liked the writing of this author -he has written for all ages and his stories are always interesting.

Nov. 19, 2018, 8:58am

95. The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman. I read this book because my book club decided to review it at the Nov meeting. I thought that the main theme -the treatment of orphans during the 1950's in the province of Quebec by the Duplessis government- was worthy of more than a book. ( The provincial government of Quebec received funds for mental institutions from the federal government but no money for orphanages. The province decided to turn most of the orphanages into mental institutions and labeled the orphans as mentally deficient. There were many abuses in this system). The story relates how a young girl, Maggie, becomes pregnant and gives up her baby- Elodie- to an orphanage although she believed that Elodie would be adopted by a family. The novel follows the lives of Maggie and Elodie. I thought that the story of Maggie is filled with melodrama. Elodie's story shows the abuses that took place in the newly renamed mental institutions.The information on the orphans was interesting. The fictional story was too much like a soap opera for me.

Nov. 27, 2018, 9:26am

96. Making a Global City How One Toronto School Embraced Diversity by Robert Vipond This book is supposed to be about the history of the changing population of Clinton Street Public School in downtown Toronto from 1920-1990. The school had a significant Jewish enrolment from the 1920's to about 1950. The makeup of the school changed in the1950's to mainly Italian and then in the 1960's to a large Portuguese population. Later the school was home to a very diverse group of students from many different backgrounds. The author diverges from the history of the school to an examination of the way immigrant children adjust to a new country. He talks about the policies of the government over the years to religion, English as a second language policies, and the concept of multiculturalism. The book is really about educational policy and the Toronto school board. I wish that there was more about the school itself. There are some references to the former pupils and teachers that the author interviewed- but I wish that the policy talk was more limited.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 10, 2018, 10:27pm

97. The Many Rooms of This House Diversity in Toronto's Places of Worship Since 1840 by Roberto Perin This is a very " dense book". The author traces the histories of the many churches and synagogues in the West End of Toronto. The details are precise and the author relates the histories of the many, many different churches and synagogues and their clergy that served the many ethnic groups that settled in Toronto over the years. Perin traces the rise and fall of the many groups that sold their places or worship to newer groups. The stories covered the many groups and subgroups that split off from different denominations. There are many tables that show the years, and change in buildings that happened over a hundred (and more) years. There are so many facts. I think that the history could have been more coherent with a paring down of the details and perhaps more thoughts on the reasons for change.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 13, 2018, 10:21am

I just realized that I used the word " many" an awful lot of times in the review above. But there were so many churches and synagogues listed -with stories.

98.Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell This was a very entertaining book to read( especially after the last one) Cornwell creates a brother of William Shakespeare -Richard-and writes about his life in the theatre company. William acts and writes plays while Richard plays female roles and is not happy about it. Conflicts arise when the scripts for A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet are stolen. Richard is first accused of taking the scripts to a rival company. He manages to steal the scripts back amid problems with Puritans, a traitorous actor, rival theatre owners and an unscrupulous owner of a boys' school who trains actors or "players". The action takes place as William Shakespeare's acting company are preparing a play that will be performed at a wedding celebration that will also have Queen Elizabeth in attendance. The characters include the real actors who worked with Shakespeare and the story describes the development of theatre during the reign of Elizabeth. This was a very enjoyable book to read- the plot was good and there was a joy in the descriptions of how the first presentations of two of Shakespeare's plays might have happened.

Dez. 13, 2018, 12:33pm

>148 torontoc: Have you seen Ben Elton's very funny BBC series Upstart crow? Highly recommended if it comes your way. There are a lot of other people who've had a go at making backstage drama out of Shakespeare, of course (Tom Stoppard included!).

I think your review in >147 torontoc: would still work if you replaced all the remaining adjectives with "many" - "coherent" looks like the only one where it would be a problem to replace it. :-)

Dez. 13, 2018, 4:13pm

> 149 I'll have to look for the series!

Dez. 17, 2018, 11:09pm

99. An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim This is s such a good book about sacrifice, love and memory. Lim's book was on this year's Giller Prize shortlist. Polly and her boyfriend Frank are stranded in Texas in 1981 during a severe flu pandemic. Frank is stricken and will die unless he can have expensive treatment. Polly is able to procure the medical treatment for Frank when she signs on to work with a company that sends employees via time travel to later years. She believes that she is being sent to 1993 and makes arrangements to meet Frank. However, Polly find out that she has been sent to 1998. The work and circumstances of society are very different than her past life. Meeting Frank seems to be impossible with the barriers set up for workers. Polly's work and the people that she meets take place in a world that is rebuilding with what looks like slave labour. Polly is determined to find Frank and her aunt who raised her. The reader sees the life that Polly led, her relationship with Frank and how memory propels her to take risks to find Frank. However the story is also about lost chances and the choices that different people take. A very affecting story and it is very well written.

Dez. 22, 2018, 11:36am

got to ..te-dah!

100.Book Lust by Nancy Pearl What a way to reach 100 books read and almost at the end of the year. The author's lists of what to read are organized so that the reader can refer to them for suggestions very easily. I was able to read about authors who I didn't know about or have heard about in passing. I will use this book as a reference for future plans.