Sydney Bellingham’s Canada By William Hesler (33)

This is a unique book about Canada around the 1800’s.  It is an honest yet concise historical account of the main cities in Canada around that time.

Sydney Bellingham came to Canada in 1824 from Ireland, alone, at the age of fifteen. He spent a couple of years in the dense forests which surrounded what is now Peterborough, Ontario.

He then served as a apprentice to a lumber merchant at Quebec City, and when he turned twenty-one, he set up a business of his own in Montreal.

During the Rebellions of 1837 and 1838, eh served as a captain in the Royal Montreal Cavalry, and played a key role at the Battle of St. Charles. After peace came, he because a lawyer, and then a newspaper editor.

For six years, he sat in the Legislative Assembly of the United Province of Canada a s a Member of the Argenteuil County. After Confederation, he represented that country in the Provincial Parliament for eleven years. In the middle of all this, he helped build one of the first railways in Canada, and brought about the settlement of the Northern part of Argenteuil.

His memories, which were the main inspiration for this book, give us new insight into the people, places, and events of the middle half of nineteenth-century Canada. This book strives to bring his experiences to life in a manner which is entertaining as well as informative.

This is a book that could be used for school projects and much more. It is also a great read for the historical buff out there.

It is interesting to know how Canada was divided up in the eighteenth century. I always wondered. So,when I saw this book on the shelf, I knew I had to read it.

 

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Girls Need Not Apply by Kelly S. Thompson (32)

This is a sad book about the Armed Forces. I had no idea that things were still so oppressive for women. Patriarchy is still taking a hold in different careers.

Yet, this is an inspiring story about a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces who makes space for herself in a traditionally masculine world. how wonderful is that!

At eighteen years of age, Kelly Thompson enlists in the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite growing up in a military family, she can’t seem to shake the feeling that she doesn’t belong in the Armed Forces.

When she arrives for basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Quebec, Kelly quickly realizes that her conception of soldier life isn’t entirely accurate.  Kelly was a woman who was more interested in writing than weaponry, a woman after my own heart!

As her career progresses, however, gender politics, harassment, and glass ceiling scenarios overshadow her hard work and professional achievements, until she must find the courage to take a stand against them all.

In this compelling and candid memoir, Kelly writes unsparingly and with humour, highlighting truths about her time in the military. She describes the sexism and misogyny she encountered, explored her conflicted feelings toward the forces and delves into a family legacy of PTSD, all the while reconciling her longing to be a writer with a path that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Kelly fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier, writer and woman.

This book is a refreshingly honest story of conviction, determination and empowerment, with a bit of a love story speckled in. I loved it and will be promoting it on my other blogs.

 

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Borderline by Allan Stratton (31)

This is a compelling coming of age story about acceptance and fear. It is wrapped in a fascinating adventure/thriller/mystery. All these elements are shaking mightily in this novel.

When the FBI descends in a whirlwind of Sami Sabiri’s home, Sami is shocked to find his family accused of being at the center of an international terror plot.. Now Sami’s biggest problem isn’t that he’s the only Muslim kid at school, or that he’s been suspicious of his dad for a while. Instead, everything he has ever known comes into question, and he must fight to keep his world from unraveling.

Allan Stratton delivers an explosive thriller ripped straight from today’s headlines. He writes the story with a smart and gutsy narrator at the helm. This is a compelling and relevant novel which will keep readers riveted and guessing at the truth until the very last page.

I just love coming of age stories. They capture the real feel of what it means to be young and vulnerable, with all of its angst.

I found that the scariest part of this story is that it is believable and within the realm of possibility. This is something that we all have to worry about.

What a great story!

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Chicken Girl by Heather Smith (30)

This is a young adult fiction story that I really enjoyed. It is about how hard life can be for a teenager, and how teens can cope. It is a good story for our time, given that there is so much depression around. Mental health is becoming an important priority for educators and parents as well as society in general.

Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she is having a lot of trouble seeing the good I the world. She can’t believe why anyone would do that.

As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waves outside a restaurant. One can’t help but feel sorry for Poppy and that she would reduce herself to a chicken in order to come out of her misery, so to speak. However, its not so much the chicken suit that helps her as the person she meets along the way.

While she is standing in a chicken costume, a six-year-old girl, called Miracle, helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her. She is surrounded by people who are always hurting, such as her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as a gay teen, buck, a photographer who is mean and hurts people, and Lewis, a teen caring for an ailing parent while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition.

Suddenly, Poppy realized that she is not that badly off and that many people are struggling in their own ways, yet trying to make their lives in the ways that they know how.

In the process, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts living in the present. She realizes that everyone is both good and bad. So, she feels stronger as a result. However, just as she thought her life may be getting back to normal, she suffers a deep betrayal, shaking her to the root.

This is a book about how everyone’s life is full of struggles. All we can hope for is to overcome obstacles, one at a time. And Poppy learns to do just that.

What a GREAT book!

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A Wonderful and Thought-Provoking Story by Paddy Bostock

What ifs?
By Paddy Bostock

The title of the book caught my attention and intrigued me right away. It brought me back to my philosophical roots. I have spent most of my life pursuing the “what ifs of life”. And now I had the honour of reading a story that had the same theme.

The story starts in a pensive setting where peace and order exist even if it for a brief moment because it is in a pristine natural escape away from the maddening crowd and all the chaos that modern life throws at all of us–a place for a thinker to go and rest.

James Cockburn is a thinker and an artist. He lives in the world of his imagination. And nothing seems more pleasing to him than imagining what would happen if this and that arose. He loved to reflect on the human being in an existential way.

Being an existentialist, he was naturally pessimistic. His life was anything but happy. His wife left him and his upbringing and early years were hard with boarding schools and nannies. He felt alone and probably isolated.

He taught at Heidelberg University and was a writer with quite a following. One of the people who admired him looked him up and ultimately through the internet, she found him. Her name was Gabriele. She believed they were kindred spirits from his writing.

From the first time they met in his peaceful place, there was something about her that intrigued him. He didn’t believe in love at first sight, but may this really be happening? He had a bunch of unfulfilling relationships with women, so, he never believed that true love would ever find him. He also never thought that he was physically attractive enough for real love. But when he met Gabi, something was stirring within him that he never felt before, and it was scaring him. Was it really true love? Lust? Infatuation?

As the days turned into weeks and months, things got quite complicated. His artist brother William was murdered in quite a horrific way. His partner, Stephanie, seemed to think that James had something to do with the murder while Gabi got pregnant and wedding bells rang out for the two of them.

Yet all the while, he was still a writer and thinker, asking himself what if questions. He never liked crime novels, but now that he had a real life murder investigation opening up for his brother, James.

Do Gabi and James live happily ever after? Can James hang onto the immediate love that he felt for Gabi when they first met? Who really murdered William? These questions I will leave up to the reader to investigate.

This story is wonderfully written and portrayed. Paddy Bostock is at his best, weaving inquiry with philosophical questions as well as open and raw love in this unforgettable murder mystery. I love the story and will be recommending it to my friends.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

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Book Review: Floating on Secrets

Floating on Secrets
By Tantra Bensko

This is a fast-paced suspense-romance like no other that I ever read. The story transports the reader to places that are not commonly explored and experienced. It is a treat to read and become immersed in. And once you start reading this story, you will definitely want to know how it turns out.

Flair is a beautiful bartender who loves neo-phychodelic rock music. She lives in a world that is quite removed from the ordinary. She studies psychology and finds her peace and solace in float tanks because she sees things there. This experience gives her a hallucinatory experience with the use of drugs. Instead, she uses a high content of Epsom salt to put herself into another state of consciousness.

While in the tank floating one day, she becomes aware of her ideal man. He was in the tank with her. At first, she doesn’t know if he is real or a figment of her imagination. He is wonderful in every way and feels like her soulmate. They seem to share a lot in common. Can this idyllic romantic relationship continue to thrive and develop into something breathtakingly beautiful or will something put a real wrench into it?

Who would expect that Flair would be part of a crime investigation with the float establishment owner, Addie Thompson? This bizarre event turns everything on its head and suddenly there is an underlying mystery that must be solved about who is stealing the float money from Addie. This part of the book is handled with complicated plot twists and much brilliance. Can Flair and Austin continue their wonderful relationship despite all of this upheaval?

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

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Finding Purpose in a Godless World by Ralph Lewis (29)

This is a brand new book that was displayed in the new books area of my local library.  I decided to take it out and read it. I wasn’t disappointed. It certainly made me think, I must say.

It was a book that stretched me, as I don’t believe in a Godless world. In fact, my world is filled with God and my life is too. So, the book is a wonderful argument for atheism.

Most people would be propelled into believing in something like God when they hit a hard time like a serious illness. However, some people very obviously don’t, and they seem to thrive fine too.

Also, the whole debate on whether there can be purpose without God was opened up. In fact, it was the overarching theme of this book. The central thesis of this book is that human purpose and caring, like consciousness and absolutely everything else in existence, could gave emerged and evolved unguided, bottom-up, in a spontaneous universe without God. This is again a thesis that I don’t believe in. I believe God made the universe and everything in it, and God continues to guide us along in our lives.

The third premise that Dr. Lewis argues for is that a random world is not necessarily nihilistic, demotivating, and devoid of morality and meaning. It is just the way the world seems to all non-philosophers, especially of the modern stripe.

Dr. Lewis is a physician and has a scientific background which forms the backbone of this book. It is a view that is very different from my own, but a view that I at least entertained for the 300+ page book.

If these are topics that fascinate you, then give this book a change. It is well worth your time, and may just make some wonderful conversation the next time you get together with your friends.

Posted by Irene S. Roth

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