Saturday, February 06, 2016

Book ~ "Rogue Lawyer" (2015) John Grisham

From Goodreads ~ On the right side of the law. Sort of.

Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with WiFi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant and golf caddy. He lives alone in a small but extremely safe penthouse apartment and his primary piece of furniture is a vintage pool table. He drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun.

Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house. Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior.

Sebastian Rudd is a lawyer who takes on cases that other lawyers won't.  The police are corrupt and cover up when they screw up and he doesn't think that's right.  Rudd doesn't have an office ... he operates out of the back of a van so he's always on the move and has just one assistant, Partner, who also doubles as a bodyguard.

Rudd's clients in this book include a guy who is accused of killing two young girls because he had tattoos and likes metal music, a crime lord who ends up on death row but escapes in the last hour and then wants his fees back from Rudd, an elderly man who was suspected of dealing drugs and his wife was killed by police officers when they invaded his house at 3am, a man who is suspected of kidnapping and murdering a young woman and then taunts Rudd, and a cage fighter, who Rudd owns a piece of, who is charged with murder when he beats up a ref after he loses a fight.

In addition to all that, Rudd's ex-wife is constantly challenging him about the visitation he has with his son, Starcher.

It's been a while since I've read a book by Grisham.  I liked this one.  I liked the writing style.  I found that it started off a bit weird ... it was more like a collection of short stories about Rudd's clients.  But it came together and seemed to become a novel.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Book ~ "Find it in Everything" (2014) Drew Barrymore

From Goodreads ~ "I have always loved hearts," writes acclaimed actress Drew Barrymore in the foreword to this heartwarming gift book. "The way that continuous line accomplishes the most extraordinary thing--it conveys love." 

In "Find It In Everything", Barrymore shares the photographs she has taken of heart-shaped objects and patterns she has come across over the past ten years. Some are obvious and others barely discernible. A discarded straw wrapper, a hole in a T-shirt, a scallion in a bowl of miso soup - seemingly everywhere she turns her lens a heart reveals itself. 

A very personal collection of images, many of them accompanied by brief captions that reflect on beauty in the everyday, "Find It In Everything" is a delightful book from the beloved actress and director, who now adds photographer to her list of credentials. 

I finished Barrymore's book, WildFlower, today so thought I'd check out this one.  I find it interesting to see what people take pictures of.

Barrymore has always loved hearts.  This is a short book (less than 100 pages) full of pictures that she has taken of hearts.  With some, there are some sentences of how she felt about the picture.

It was a fun book to look at but definitely one you would borrow from the library.

Here are some samples of her pictures.

Book ~ "Wildflower" (2015) Drew Barrymore

From Goodreads ~ Award-winning actress Drew Barrymore shares funny, insightful, and profound stories from her past and present told from the place of happiness she's achieved today. 

"Wildflower" is a portrait of Drew's life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. 

It includes tales of living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understoo, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today.

Drew Barrymore has led an interesting life.  On her paternal side, she comes from a family of actors.  Her father and mother, both hippies, split up before she was born.  To help pay the bills, her mother got her acting jobs when she was young.  As a preteen, Drew was smoking, drinking and doing drugs.  She ended up spending 18 months in an institution for the mentally ill.  When she was 14, she petitioned for emancipation and was declared an adult.  As Drew got older, she became rebellious but was determined to be an actress and producer and eventually settled down.  She is now happily married to husband #3 and the mother of their two daughters.

This book is a collection of stories of her life and experiences, in no particular order.  Drew tells about having her children, meeting her husband and his family, taking care of her father when he was dying, her dogs, making movies with Adam Sandler, becoming an ambassador for the UN and building a school in Africa, learning how to do laundry and lots more.

I found the stories entertaining.  It was interesting to get an insight into different parts of her life.  There's no dirt or gossip.  I liked the writing style.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Book ~ "Shift Work" (2015) Tie Domi and Jim Lang

From Goodreads ~ From hockey’s most prolific fighter comes a sports memoir unlike any other - passionate, funny, and candid, "Shift Work" chronicles Domi’s sixteen tumultuous seasons in the NHL.

Making it through a single fight as an enforcer in the NHL is a sign of toughness. Making it through 333 of them is a mark of greatness. Whether it was on the ice or off it, Tie Domi was driven to be the best at his job and was gifted with an extraordinary ability to withstand pain. He made a career out of protecting the people around him and became known as someone who would stand up for the people who needed it most.

Raised by immigrant parents in Belle River, ON, Domi found success from an early age on the field and the rink. A gifted athlete in whatever sport he played, Tie eventually focused his sights on hockey. As he moved up the junior ranks, he made a name for himself as a player who was always ready to take on anyone who dared to cross his teammates.

Tie’s reputation followed him into the NHL, and it wasn’t long before he ranked among the game’s most feared - and fearless - enforcers. From New York to Winnipeg to Toronto, Tie quickly became a fan favourite in whatever city he played. As he went about working his name into the record books, Tie surrounded himself with people from every walk of life, learning from each one as he evolved into a respected leader who was never afraid to tell it like it was.

In "Shift Work", Tie recounts the ups and downs of his life on and off the ice, showing what he has learned and how he has grown as both a player and a person. He offers insight into the most memorable points of his career, sharing his successes and mistakes with unparalleled honesty. Shift Work shows Tie Domi as he is - a devoted father and friend, a valued and loyal team player, a magnetic personality, and an athlete of immense skill and courage.

I'm not a big fan of hockey but I like reading bios and thought reading Tie Domi's story would be interesting.

Tie Domi is a retired Canadian professional hockey player.  Known for his role as an enforcer, he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets over a sixteen-year NHL career. He has more penalty minutes than any other player in the history of the Maple Leafs and third overall in penalty minutes in NHL history.

In the book, Domi gives a high level description about his life, from his beginnings as the son of Albanian immigrants who moved to Canada and settled outside of Windsor.  He was very good in sports and eventually focused on hockey.  He spent most of his years in the NHL as a player of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

My favourite chapter was chapter 11, in which he talks about how important it is to treat people well, regardless of who they are or what their job is.

I enjoyed the writing style.  Obviously there is a lot about hockey and his interactions with other players in this book but I didn't find it boring even though I'm not not a big hockey fan.  You'll especially enjoy this book if you are a hockey fan.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book ~ "Our Turn" (2015) Kirstine Stewart

From Goodreads ~ In her inspiring, deeply intelligent and intensely practical "Our Turn", Kirstine Stewart draws on her own extensive leadership experience to take the conversation about women and work to a whole new level. Simply put: the time is now for new styles of leadership, and women are best-suited to set the pace. 

Kirstine Stewart got her first job when she applied for a position as a "girl Friday" at a film distribution house. Having worked her way up from the bottom - under women and men, leaders good and bad - she believes it's time we leaped past the question of how women might create change in the working world and exploit the fact that profound change is already under way. The digital revolution and the wave of millennials who are entering the work force with very different expectations than the generations who preceded them, have created a new reality that demands a new style of leader with attributes and perspectives that make women the natural front-runners. The opportunity is there. The question Stewart tackles in "Our Turn" is how do we seize it. 

Stewart's own track in the world has been exceptional, and littered with firsts, including being the first woman and the youngest person ever to head the CBC. Not only does she illuminate the broad strokes of the way forward for women, and her own principles of leadership, she digs down into the nitty-gritty of how she has managed to excel and to lead while staying true to who she is as a person. Whether you're the CEO or the administrative assistant, there is something for you in "Our Turn". 

I like reading books about "girl power" and I thought one written by a Canadian would be interesting.

The author started as a "girl Friday" with a television company and today is oversees Twitter's North American media partnerships.  Along the way, she has been senior VP of programming for Alliance Atlantice, executive VP of CBC's English language services and managing director for Twitter Canada.  Needless to say, she's come a long way from her beginnings of as a "girl Friday".  In addition, she married twice (and divorced once) and had a couple children.

I found the book was written at a high level and not overly helpful to women who want to advance and achieve.   There are many many surveys and studies quoted which are interpreted by the author.  I found the writing style cold and the author doesn't seem like a warm fuzzy person.

She is obviously very career-driven who no doubt has worked very hard to get to where she is today.  But most of us aren't lucky enough to have the opportunities the author had like an encouraging boss who took her under her wing when she was starting out.  What do we do then if we don't?  Most of us can't afford nannies or have a stay-at-home husband so we can work the crazy hours it takes to get ahead, once one has those opportunities.  It seems like the author has forgotten her humble beginnings and for most of us, it's a struggle.  It would have been nice to get more into nitty gritty details on what to do in various situations, including the author's experience when things didn't always work out.

We have access to cell phones, computers, etc. and the author advises that we take advantage of technology.  But should you, as the author was, be sitting at your child's skating practice and be on a conference call and then get called out about it by your daughter during the practice?

What I got from this book is to speak up with your ideas and that women should work together to get ahead rather than watching out for our own backs ... this is not new advice.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

RIP Keith

My father-in-law, Keith, passed away unexpectedly at his home (about 2.5 hours from Toronto) on Tuesday afternoon in his 90th year.

He was married to Gord's mom, Minnie, for more than 40 years.  Though he had no children of his own, he was stepfather to Gord and his sister, Judy.  He was grandfather to Ken, Kyle and Jonathan and great grandfather to Madison and Colton.

There were two viewings yesterday and the funeral was this afternoon.  Gord and I drove down yesterday morning, stayed at Judy's and drove home this evening.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

St. Paul Hotel, Montréal, QC

The company I work for had a sales conference for the last two days in Montreal.  My home away from home was the St. Paul Hotel on Rue McGill.  It is in Old Montreal and is formerly a Beaux-arts building which has been converted into a boutique hotel.

The lobby
The hallway to my room

Here's my room ...

There was a big pole as soon as I entered the room

Monday, January 25, 2016

La Pizzaiolle, Montreal, QC

I had supper tonight at La Pizzaiolle (Rue Marguerite D'Youville/Rue McGill).

Book ~ "The Silent Hour" (2009) Michael Koryta

From Goodreads ~

Whisper Ridge
Home to Dreams
October 2, 1992--April 12, 1996

So reads the strange epitaph carved beside the door of the home called Whisper Ridge, a multimillion-dollar piece of architectural majesty that once housed the beginnings of a unique program for paroled murderers. The program never got off the ground, however, despite how passionate a woman named Alexandra Cantrell, daughter of a notorious Mafia don, and her husband, Joshua, had been about it. Still uninhabited twelve years later, the house remains as a strange monument to dangerous secrets, falling into ruin as the forest grows up around it.

While the couple’s abrupt exit was unusual, it was also not regarded as suspicious - until the bones of Alexandra’s husband are found buried in the woods.

Private investigator Lincoln Perry isn’t thrilled about the situation or his client: Parker Harrison served fifteen years for murder but claims Alexandra’s intervention saved his life. Now he wants to find her - and he’s not the only one.

What seems at first like the simplest of jobs proves to be an undertaking that will challenge both Perry’s abilities as a detective and his commitment to that calling. With a new partner to train and a case that leads straight to the heart of the Cleveland organized crime scene, Perry finds himself glancing over his shoulder at every turn, pushing the bounds of safety even as he backs away.

Lincoln is a private investigator who starts getting letters from an ex-con named Harrison who wants his help to find a woman named Alexandra.  Alexandra's father and brother were part of the mafia and when her father died, he left her a lot of money which she eventually used to build a house to start a program for paroles ... Harrison was one of those paroles.  Twelve years ago she and her husband, Joshua, disappeared.  Then Joshua's bones are found.

Ken, the private investigator than Joshua's parents had hired to find him, shows up and asks Lincoln to help figure out what happened.  It's a case that Ken hadn't been able to solve and it's bothered him ever since.  Working together, they investigate to figure out who killed Joshua and where is Alexandra.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book.  It is the fourth and last in the Lincoln Perry series and it's been about eight years since I read the first three.  Though it is part of a series, it does work as a stand alone.  It's been seven years since this was written ... I wonder if the author has decided that he won't continue with this series.  The book didn't end as if there wouldn't be any more.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I liked Lincoln.  As much as he doesn't want to, he can't help pitching in to help.  I found that there were quite a few characters (the paroles and the bad guys) and I had a bit of a hard time keeping them straight.