When My World Was Very Small by Ruth Rakoff (93)

This is a memoir-type book about the journey that one lady went through when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a book like no other in that you will laugh and cry even while reading the same page. It was such a great memoir that I decided to purchase it on ABE.com.

In the whirlwind of her life with three young sons, Ruth Rakoff felt in control of her world and tight-knit community. But when a routine mammogram revealed a tumor, her world rapidly shrank down to the size of one breast.

And so began her exhausting journey of biopsy, surgery, and chemotherapy, as every cancer survivor knows very well. The journey was plagued by tidal waves of anxiety and grief:

  • How to tell the children?
  • Should she consider having a healthy breast removed, in case the cancer returns?
  • Will food ever taste good again?

Amid all the worry and changes, there is also an overwhelming gratitude for a stalwart network of family and friends who strive to help and support, to comfort and delight–even as everyone longs for the old normal of daily life to return.

Through stories, confessions and anecdotes, Ruth Rakoff shows just what is at stake when cancer shows up at the party uninvited.

There is no sugar-coating of either the physical or emotional pain of dealing with the disease or the effects of the poisons used to combat the cancer in this book. But for Rakoff, a life without laughter is not worth living. So, she finds the comical in every moment of the journey.

I loved the book and I recommend it to anyone who is diagnosed with cancer or who is helping someone with the journey.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

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Posted in Acceptance, Aging with Grace, Author from Ontario, Cancer | Leave a comment

Big Blue Forever by Anita Miettunen (92)

This is a story about the largest blue whale skeleton. It is wondrous in its nature and scope.  The photographs throughout the book bring the educative aspect of the book to mind for young and older readers alike.

In 1987, a blue whale, the world’s largest mammal, died and washed ashore on the coast of Prince Edward Island.

On the advice of scientists who came to see the magnificent creature, the whale was buried and left there for twenty years!

In 2007, an expert came to inspect the whale and decided that the skeleton could be transported 6,000 kilometers to be put on display at the new Beaty Biodiversity Museum being build in Vancouver, British Columbia.

This book is the story of this remarkable journey. Combining the techniques of fiction and nonfiction, this story is a powerful and important reminder to readers of all ages that these extraordinary mammals deserve to be respected and protected.

This is a book that will be relevant for history projects at the high school and upper elementary levels.

I learned so much about this marvelous big blue whale which will be held in the museum forever for onlookers to see. What a wonderful story!  When I visit British Columbia one day, I will definitely make sure that I visit the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Big Blue Whale, Museums | Leave a comment

Wild One by Jane Whittingham (91)

This is a children’s book with a very important message: you can be courageous and brave!

Can you stretch like a cat or hang like a bat? This little one can do those things and so much more as she bounds energetically through her day. The author, Jane Whittingham, sprightly couplets take her from the park to the pool, to dinner and bed, while the illustrator cleverly illustrates the animal companions of a child’s imagination.

The book is published in a sturdy format with a padded cover, rounded corners, and extra-heavy paper, this picture book is perfect for sharing with wiggly, little wild ones of your own. And as the last pages are turned, the story’s final, sweet “goodnight” will leave the liveliest listeners ready to snuggle like a bear at bedtime.

This is a picture book that parents will read to their kids over and over again. How wonderful to have a book that is this great!

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Picture Book | Leave a comment

Beowulf by R. M. Liuzza (90)

This is a very unique book that I just picked up at my local library.  It is a wonderful find and it enlarged my knowledge and scope of reading–which was one of my goals for this year.

R. M. Liuzza’s translation of Beowulf , first published in 1999, has been widely read and heralded for its accuracy and beauty. This translation is accompanied by genealogical charts and summaries, and a glossary of proper names.

Historical appendices include related legends, stories and religious writings from both Christian and Anglo-Saxon traditions.

These texts help the readers to see this book as an exploration of the politics of kingship and the psychology of heroism, and as an early English meditation on the bridges and chasms between the pagan past and the Christian present.

The appendices also include a generous sample of other modern translations of the book, while shedding light on the process of translating the poem. This new edition features an updated introduction and an expanded section of material on Christianity and paganism.

This book is a must read for all religious minded individuals as well as historians.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Christianity and Paganism | Leave a comment

Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders (89)

This is another book that I found on the new book shelf at my local library. And the cover sure jogged my attention, as you will already saw in the cover displayed here.

The book raises a question that I have wondered about for a long time, and that is why do we need more and more people in our beautiful country? Do we really need more Canadians?

Canada’s population has always grown slowly when it has grown at all. That wasn’t by accident.

For centuries before Confederation and a century after, colonial economic policies and an inward-facing world view isolated this country, attracting few of the people and building few of the institutions needed to sustain a sovereign nation.

In fact, during most years before 1967, a greater number of people fled Canada than immigrated to it. Canada’s growth has faltered and left us under-populated ever since.

At Canada’s 150th anniversary, a more open, pluralist and international vision has largely overturned that colonial mindset and become consensus across the country and its major political parties.

But that consensus is ever fragile. Our small population continues to hamper our competitive clout, our ability to act independently in an increasingly unstable world, and our capacity to build the resources we need to make our future viable.

In this book, a bold and detailed vision for Canada’s future, award-winning author and Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders proposes a most audacious way forward: to avoid global obscurity and create lasting  prosperity, to build equality and reconciliation of indigenous and regional divides, and to ensure economic and ecological sustainability. He believes that we should triple our population in order to be at our best.

I don’t know if I agree with his thesis; however, it did get me thinking about the state of our country in a whole new way.

I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in matters of immigration and how we can be at our best as a Country.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Award Winning Author, Canada, Cultural Diversity, Culture in Canada, Geography, History | Leave a comment

Canadianity: Tales from the true north strong and freezing by Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens (88)

This book leapt up when I was recently looking at some of the new books on my shelves of the local library. The librarian does a splendid job of displaying all the nonfiction books at my library.

This book has been spring from the author’s hugely successful Taggart & Torrens podcast. Taggart and Torrens share a collection of showbiz tales from the road and relatable everyday anecdotes, all wrapped up in a nostalgic fondness for this great country.

This book takes readers on a cross-country journey, shining the spotlight on notable local heroes, the best places to crush food and the greasiest watering holes, coast to coast. They seemed to have visited them all!

The book is filled with lists of Canada’s top bands, television shows and athletes, as well as random observations about everything this country has to offer.

This book is also provocative and hilarious. The book draws on their combined experiences as a legendary drummer and a veteran  talk show host, respectively. Taggart and Torrens have infused their first book with equal parts beer and pop culture and added a heading helping of irreverence.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Nova Scotia, Author just outside Toronto, Cultural Diversity, Culture in Canada, Geography, Nature, Nonfiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Galore by Michael Crummey (87)

This is a treat of a story by a Canadian author who is as wonderful as he is great. His writing is a nice red glass wine beside the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

This novel is sprawling and intimate, fantastical and true. It is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.

An intricate family saga and a love story spanning two centuries, Michael Crummey’s new novel is a portrait of the improbably medieval world of rural Newfoundland, where the line between the read and the otherworldly is impossible to distinguish.

This story is about a mute and naked stranger who arrive n Paradise Deep in the belly of a whale. A widow’s family is haunted by the curse she placed as a young woman on the local merchant.

A defrocked priest takes extraordinary measures to exorcise a murderer’s ghost. A charismatic political reformer with a devastating secret sets out to save the country from itself.

The story is set in a realm somewhere between the stark coastal landscape and a world of superstition and myth.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Newfoundland | Leave a comment