Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt (209)

This is a book about Alzheimer’s. It is a book with serious overtones. It is a must read for anyone who has Alzheimer’s running in the family. It is a poignant book, one that is filled with sadness, but the author still has a way of turning a really heavy topic into something comical.

There is nothing funny about Alzheimer’s. However, the format of the book ensures that the reader will not feel too overburdened by the topic of the book.

This book is a graphic memoir. It is about one person’s journey through Alzheimer’s with her mother. It is difficult to imagine how hard it would be to see your mother suffering from Alzheimer’s at the early age of 52. But it does happen, and if there is a family history of the disease, it can strike at any age.

During her mother’s illness, she started using some of her notes to write stories and essays about what was happening. She always wanted to write a book about what was happening.

Alzheimer’s is a cruel and relentless disease that tears families apart. But her mother never stopped loving her family even though she lost her ability to form sentences, and stopped saying our names.

Sarah wrote this book so that she could remember her mother as she was during her illness, the ways in which she was transformed and the ways in which parts of her endured. As her mother changed, she changed too. She was forced to reconsider her own identity as a daughter and as an adult and to recreate her relationship with her mother.

This is a story with poignant honesty and beauty. It is a book that will help people who are living with people Alzheimer’s by giving them the knowledge of what to expect when this heinous disease shows its face.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Aging, Alzheimer, Author from Vancouver, Nonfiction | Leave a comment

Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins (208)

I have been reading books about Canada and celebrating Canada. Our country is so vast and wonderful, it is so hard not to be so proud of living and being a part of this vast country that has done so much good and keeps doing so.

How many Canadian innovations can you name? Did you count the electric bulb, the propeller, documentary film, the Declaration of Human Rights, the foghorn, Saturday Night Live, oil drilling, recycling, movie theatres, the egg carton, nuclear physics, and Superman?

Canadians are ingenious! Innovative both by nature and because of it, they have given the world a staggering array of tools, techniques, devices, solutions, machines, therapies, processes, and social innovations to help people live better, fuller lives.

This book moves through history to explore what circumstances, incidents, coincidences, and collaborations motivated each great Canadian idea, and what twist of fate then brought that idea into public acceptance. The book explores what goes on in the mind of an innovator, and maps the incredible spectrum of personalities who have struggled to improve the lot of their neighbours, their fellow citizens and their species.

I loved this book! I had no idea that Canada was so industrious I guess. This book sure filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in 150th Celebrations, Author from Ontario, Canada | Leave a comment

The Colour of Canada by Roy MacGregor (207)

With Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, this book is a timely addition to the literature on Canada and our vast and beautiful country.

Beginning with the Northwest Territories and the West, this visually rich and gorgeous book moves through the Prairies and on to Ontario and Quebec, completing the photographic tour in the Maritimes.

While many of the most well-known points of attraction are found in these pages – Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, Old Montreal, Dawson City, the Lions Gate Bridge – the photographers’ lens also catches a surreal cloud formation in Sault Ste. Marie, the haunting beauty of the Barren Lands in central Northwest Territories, an artist’s studio improbably perched on Fogo Island, the stillness of Head Lade in Algonquin Park, and the timelessness of Gastown in Vancouver. In total, it demonstrates the vast, varied and often breathtaking Canada is, from St. John’s to Victoria.

The photographs are breathtaking. After reading the book it is hard not to be especially grateful that we live in such a beautiful country.

I loved this book from front to back. And I hope to purchase my own copy on ABE.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in 150th Celebrations, Author from Ontario, Canada, Geography, History | Leave a comment

Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy by Thomas P. Keenan (206)

This book is a must-read for all Canadians who are worried about how technology has not only taken over our world but also our private lives as well. Professor Keenan writes the book in laymen’s terms so that it is easily understood by everyone.

This is a book that will open your eyes to the “surrender of our privacy and the capitalization of intimacy.”

Modern technology is not what it seems. It is much more than it seems. Most people are not even aware of some of the background effects of technology that may be harmful and even dangerous to our well-being and peace of mind.

So much seems to be happening that is out of our view and beyond our control. It is far worse than the Brave New World that Huxley described many years ago. It is a world that not only watches us but also pries into our personal lives when we least expect it.

Our technological systems are increasingly passing information back and forth without bothering to inform us that they are doing so. They are parsing and analyzing it to determine the deeper meaning of what we say and do.

Therefore, technocreep is quietly but relentlessly invading our daily lives. Here are some ways how they do this.

• When you use your smartphone to take a photo, it auto-uploads to Facebook without your knowledge.

• Your email through free providers such as Google, Yahoo or Microsoft is not as safe as they seem. There is no way for any of us to know how your email is processed. There are virtually no tools to investigate it.

• Late at night, you hear the hard drive whirring on your computer. The monitor is flickering even though nobody is using it.

• Bars in several cities have installed cameras that silently watch their clientele and make inferences about them from their physical characteristics.

• Next generation wearable computers such as Google Glass may start regularly tracking where you are looking. That information will then be sold to advertisers and others who are seeking a window into your mind.

• Your phone may listen for audio cues about where you are. Is that a football stadium announcer it hears? Perhaps you would like a discount coupon for the team’s store.

Therefore, we must try and make sure that we save ourselves from these technologies that are invading our lives and discovering who we are without our knowing.

This book is at once scary as it is poignant. It is a warning to all of us to take heart and to make sure that we are careful with our technology. Shut it down as often as possible. That may stop big brother from really watching you and gathering information about you and spreading it without your permission.

Rating: 5+ stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Alberta, Computers, Technology | Leave a comment

Canadian Housewife: An Affectionate History – By: Rosemary Neering (205)

This is a book about the Canadian housewife throughout history from the 17th-century onwards.

I found some of the details just hilarious, such as the 10 cent quart of milk. Then there were signs about the importance of babies health and the importance of putting their health ahead of profit.

Here are a few of the fun facts that you will learn when you read this funny and yet insightful book.

• Women in the 17th century New France took to the streets in illegal protest because they didn’t want their families to eat horsemeat.
• Housewives in the 19th century backwoods were aghast at the harshness of pioneer life and dreamed longingly of civilized England.

• Women in the 1930s scrimped pennies and douched with disinfectant.

• Housewives in the 1940s collected metal and remade clothes to aid in the war effort.

• In the 1950s housewives worshipped jellied salads with marshmallows and wore their heels while vacuuming.

These tidbits and more make this book a must read for all Canadian women. It is fun and also informative as well as inspiring. It is a book like no other that I have read.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Canadian Housewife, History | Leave a comment

Where I Live Now: A Journey through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope – By Sharon Butala (204)

This is a book that will capture the attention of anyone who is in the process of decluttering their lives. This is especially poignant if you have lost a spouse as Sharon Butala did.

When Sharon Butala’s husband, Peter, died unexpectedly, she found herself with no place to call home. Torn by grief, she fled the ranch lands of Southwest Saskatchewan and moved to the city, leaving behind almost everything she owned. She took with her a lifetime of experience and a limitless well of memory – of a marriage that everybody said would not last but did, and of an isolated yet intensely beautiful life lived in nature.

After her husband’s death, she reinvented herself in an urban landscape. It was painful because it was something that she was not used to. It made her face her life as a widow. She was tested to her very being. Yet out of this hard-won existence emerges a compelling and warm-hearted memoir that not only offers solace and wisdom but also inspiration and healing to those who have experienced grief and loss.

The book is brave and honest. I just LOVE books like that. Perhaps we have many homes that we must build in our lifetimes. We are born into one home. Then we create another home when we move out on our own. And we move into another home when we get married and have kids. But when our spouse leaves us, we have to start over again, and get another home that we can call our own and that can become our home.

I love memoirs like this. I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a spouse or who is old enough to expect that this may happen in the future.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Saskatchewan, Memoire, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Love Is and What It Could Be – By Carrie Jenkins (203)

So many of us are always wondering about what love is. It is a true philosophical question in its own right. Love is one of those mystical things that can be very hard to explain. But when we are in love, we know it. And when we see love, we know it too. But describing it is quite another matter.

Love, we are told, can be felt but not defined according to Carrie Jenkins. No wonder so many of us fall back on the advice of long ago that love is something we shouldn’t overthink.

Though trying to understand love feels like an insurmountable task, the reality is that we urgently need to think more about it. Love is of immense importance and many of us frame our whole lives around it. Tidy definitions of love describing it as just chemicals or just a construct are unsatisfactory.

As a philosopher, Carrie Jenkins reveals that love is both a physical phenomenon preserved throughout evolution – which explains the palpitations, butterflies, and adrenaline rushes – and a constantly changing social convention. In an era in which interracial, queer, and not poly-amorous love are becoming more normal, our ideas of love may not match our parents’ ideas, even if our bodies’ experience of love remain similar.

Carrie Jenkins draws on a whole bunch of cultural, scientific and personal reflections to make this book hard to put down if you are interested in love. Jenkins frees us to see love as layered. It is as political as it is physical and as emotional as it is intellectual and chemical.

I love this book from start to finish. I will definitely re-read it later on and place it on my shelf of philosophical books.

I can appreciate her penetrating probing of the concepts of love because I too am a philosopher who is quite interested in the topic of love.

Thank you Professor Jenkins for such an insightful book!

Rating: 5 stars

Irene Roth

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Nonfiction, Scholarly book | Leave a comment