Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book ~ "Toronto Sketches 8: The Way We Were" (2004) Mike Filey

From Goodreads ~ Toronto Sun columnist Mike Filey is back with "Toronto Sketches 8", the series that captures the people, politics, and architecture of Toronto's past with photographs and anecdotes that will change the way you see the city forever. 

The book brings us back to the time of Toronto's original horse-drawn streetcar, the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens, and other memories of Toronto, many of which show how history repeats itself, as in the gas price wars of the early 20th century or the debate in 1911 over building a bridge to Toronto island.

Mike Filey had a column in the Toronto Sun for about 30 years and I read it for many years (I like learning about the history of Toronto) ... this book is a compilation of some of his columns.

We learn about the Eaton's store, Marilyn Bell, car shows, transit (streetcars, buses and the subway), sports (baseball and hockey), what the CN Tower and city hall could have looked like, the Dufferin Park Racetrack, and more.

Dufferin Park Racetrack, a horse racetrack which operated from 1907
until it was demolished in 1955 (this is looking east)
This space is now the Dufferin Mall (the closest mall to me),
which was built in 1956 as a plaza and converted to
enclosed mall space in the 1970s

Even though the book was published in 2004, it was still an interesting book because it dealt with many historical events in Toronto. 

If you live in Toronto or are from Toronto, you should check it out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book ~ "What Might Have Been" (2014) Matt Dunn

From Goodreads ~ A year ago, Evan and Sarah shared one incredible night. Then Evan's music - the thing that brought them together - suddenly tore them apart.

Since then, Evan's not been able to forget about her. And try as she might, Sarah can't seem to get over him either.

With time running out, Evan's got one last chance to convince her that the two of them were meant to be. But is one night enough for Sarah to make a decision about the rest of her life - even if it was the best night of her life? And if she doesn't believe in love at first sight, how can Evan persuade her that what they had will last?

Sarah's father, who was a musician, had recently passed away.  With nothing keeping her in the States, she gets a transfer to work in London.  One night she goes to a jazz club and is drawn to Evan, the sax player.  They connect and have a one night stand followed by lunch.  Evan is immediately offered a year long gig in the States backing Sting and the Police.  Since it's a great opportunity for him, Sarah encourages him to go and he does. Evan comes back a year later a week before Sarah is going to married David, her boss, and tries to win her back.

This is the fourth book I've read by this author.  I enjoyed the other three but I wasn't all that crazy about this one.  I thought the storyline sounded interesting and could have been so much better.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I didn't like Sarah.  When she met Evan, she'd had just one date with David yet she had a internal struggle because it was like she had cheated on David.  Um ... no.  It was one date!  And the "should I chose David or should I choose Evan?" debates with her friend, Grace, and with herself went on and on and over and over.  Grace was a psychologist and I was surprised that she let Sarah's rantings go on as long and as often as she did.  Sarah had abandonment issues (because her mother had left her when she was young and then her father died) which we heard about again and again.  Sarah kept faulting Evan for leaving last year when she was the one who pushed him away.

Evan seemed like a nice guy but it was unbelievable that he would keep after Sarah after she kept turning him away and being a bitch to him.  I found it hard amazing that he could be THAT much in love with her even though he'd only known her for less than two days a year ago.  Really?

It's unusual to find chick lit written by a man.  I wanted to like this book but didn't really.

Book ~ "Father of Fear" (2014) Ethan Cross

From Goodreads ~ A father returns home to find that his family has been kidnapped and the only way to save their lives is for him to kill another innocent person.

So begins a journey that will force Special Agent Marcus Williams of the Shepherd Organization to question all that he believes, unearth his family's dark legacy, and sacrifice everything to save those he loves. In order to stop the serial murderer whom the media has dubbed the Coercion Killer, Williams must enlist the help of one of the world's most infamous and wanted men ... the serial killer Francis Ackerman Jr. 

Marcus, Maggie and Andrew are Special Agents with a secret government organization, the Shepherd Organization.  Their job is to track down serial killers and now they have to find the Coercion Killer.  The Coercion Killer is playing a game.  He kidnaps wives and children ... the only way to ensure their safety is for the husbands/fathers to kill an innocent person.

Marcus turns to his brother, Ackerman, for help ... who better to get into the mind of a serial killer than another serial killer?  As they get closer to catching the killer, it's someone they never expected it to be and it's personal ... really personal.

This is the second book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  It is the third in a series ... I read the second one in October 2012 (I haven't read the first one yet).  Though it is part of a series, it works well as a stand alone.

I liked the writing style.  It's written in third person perspective and the focus changes depending on what's going on.  The chapters are short and snappy, between one to five pages, which I like.  As a head's up, there is violence.

I liked the characters.  It was interesting to see the interaction between Marcus and Ackerman (good and evil) and Maggie and Ackerman (she's forced to work with him and she obviously has no respect for him).  Marcus is still getting headaches and isn't sleeping ... he's not happy when he hears the organization is sending everyone for mental and emotional evaluations and then he realizes he's really the only one who has to go.  He and Maggie are back together and trying to make it work.  The Coercion Killer is a sly one and it was amazing the lengths he went.

I recommend this book and look forward to reading others in the series.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Topbox - August

My August Topbox arrived today.

For only $12 a month, you will receive a Topbox with 4 carefully selected, indulgent, beauty products. Then test the products in the comfort of your own home.

Here's what was in it ...

Total value = $41.99 (not including the nail polish remover pads)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Indie Boat Hop Craft Beer Cruise, Empire Sandy, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I did the first ever Indie Boat Hop Craft Beer Cruise.  A craft beer festival and a boat cruise ... two of my favourite things!

It was coordinated by the Indie Ale House Brewing Company and the Bar Hop.  It was on the Empire Sandy, a tall ship that was built as an Englishman/Larch Deep Sea class tugboat for war service by the British Government in 1943.

Tickets were $40 and included an Indie Boat Hop cup (which held eight ounces), a drink ticket, a three hour sail (from 1pm to 4pm) and access to beer that has never been released on land!  Extra drink tickets were $4.50.

 Here are the breweries and cidery on the boat offering one-offs:
  • Amsterdam
  • Bellwoods
  • Blackheart Brewing Collective
  • Get Well 
  • Great Lakes
  • Indie Alehouse 
  • Nickel Brook 
  • Sawdust City 
  • West Avenue Cider Company

It was a sold-out event.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book ~ "Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe" (2014) Erin Taylor Young

From Goodreads ~ You don't always know what you're getting into when you bring home a puppy. Enter Henry, a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did that God would send this dog to derail her life.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and escapades, Henry will steal readers' hearts. Anyone who has ever owned a dog, especially a canine catastrophe like Henry, will enjoy this lighthearted book about a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

The author had a boxer when she was growing up and thought it would be a good idea to get another one now that she has her own family.  She buys a puppy who has champions for parents and names him Henry.  Henry turns out to be quite different from the dog of her childhood ... he's not affectionate, is high strung and doesn't obey commands.  The family does all they can to train him ... obedience school, shock collars, etc.  He sure is a rambunctious dog!

I enjoy reading stories about animals and I liked this one.  I liked the writing style and it was at times funny and kindly sarcastic.  The author is a Christian so writes about God throughout the book ... I'm not religious at all so I skipped over those parts.

I felt bad for both the family and Henry, though.  Their lives are not their own because of Henry because he eats everything, he jumps through windows, he barks at people on the street, etc. ... many times the author said she considered giving Henry away.  I know the author was doing what she had to do but I didn't like reading about the use of the shock collars, etc.

Amsterdam BrewHouse, Toronto, ON

This evening we met friends for supper at the Amsterdam BrewHouse.

The plan was to sit on the patio which overlooks the harbour but alas, it was raining.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Do I Have To Do Everything My F$cking Self?", SummerWorks, Lower Ossington Theatre Cabaret, Toronto, ON

This evening Gord and I saw Do I Have To Do Everything My F$cking Self?, which is part of the 2004 SummerWorks Festival

SummerWorks is Canada's largest juried performance festival. For 11 days in August, it takes over the Queen West Strip, hosting theatre, music, performance and more.

It was playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre Cabaret, which is in our 'hood.

Most women know what they want. Regina knows what you want. With the voice of a shady angel and a body made for breaking hearts, she delivers anthems from the alleyways and sets the nights ablaze.. By her beauty and the beat, you are hers for the taking. Regina is shadow and light, high kicks and deep splits, fierce tongue and soft touch. You already need her, and you haven’t even met her yet. Regina is a celebration of love. Regina is a celebration of the night. Regina is what you’ve been missing in your life. 

Performed by Regina The Gentlelady

For about an hour, we were entertained by Regina who talked about being from Guelph, wanting to kick Miley Cyrus' butt, reminiscing about Charlie's Angels and the 20 Minute Workout and more.  Along the way, she sang some songs and danced ... she's got some great moves! Do I Have To Do Everything My F$cking Self? was a rap song she finished with.

Regina the Gentlelady is actually indie rock singer Gentleman Reg's alternate persona in drag.

"And Now, The End", SummerWorks, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto, ON

This evening Gord and I saw And Now, The End, which is part of the 2004 SummerWorks Festival

SummerWorks is Canada's largest juried performance festival. For 11 days in August, it takes over the Queen West Strip, hosting theatre, music, performance and more.

It was playing at the Theatre Muraille, about a fifteen minute walk from home.

With the announcement of the coming apocalypse, the citizens of Roxton, a small Canadian town, struggle to come to terms with their imminent doom: a young woman’s tragic past threatens her relationship with her best friend; a doctor’s profession goes from saving lives to ending them: the wife of a stranded astronaut desperately hopes for his return; a pair of slacker interns finally live their dream by hosting their own radio show. 

This new Canadian musical examines life, death, and what people choose do with the time they have left. 

Performed by Troy Adams, Tamara Bernier Evans, Ruth Goodwin, Kaleigh Gorka, Amir Haidar, Zach Parkhurst, Hugh Ritchie, Paolo Santalucia, Jeff Yung

There is an asteroid heading for earth in a year's time and everyone will die.  This play follows various people as they get ready for the end.  Best friends Clare and Johnny have just graduated from high school and don't have a future ahead of them.  Inez is pregnant and is looking forward to having her baby and spending time with her ... she hooks up with the doctor who has become used to ending the lives of those who don't want to wait 'til the end.  Cathy's husband is an stranded astronaut and seeks comfort from the brother of her neighbour.  Dan and Scott are determined to keep hosting their radio show for anyone who may be listening.

I'm not into end-of-the-world movies and books ... I find them depressing.  So I wasn't sure whether I would like this play ... but I did ... a lot!  It was very well-acted ... it was obvious that these were professional.  Despite the subject matter, it was funny at times.  There were 14 songs and they weren't all doom and gloom.

My one complaint is that the band was really LOUD and drowned out the singers.  We initially sat in the front row next to the band and moved back a bit once the play started.

I would recommend this play!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Chicken Grease is Nasty Business", SummerWorks, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto, ON

This evening Gord and I saw Chicken Grease is Nasty Business, which is part of the 2004 SummerWorks Festival

SummerWorks is Canada's largest juried performance festival. For 11 days in August, it takes over the Queen West Strip, hosting theatre, music, performance and more.

It was playing at the Theatre Muraille, about a fifteen minute walk from home.

Modestine fries the South’s best chicken but when she hatches a plan to lure her sons back home, best friend Pearl calls her crazy, son Dwayne’s bride-to-be clearly has other plans, son Delmar falls hard and Dr. Long offers mouth-to-mouth as this dizzying plot twists clean out of control. 

Starring Lili Francks, Karen Glave, Danny Waugh, Christian Lloyd, Dian Marie Bridge, Sedina Fiati, Jeremiah Sparks, Jade O'Keeffe

It's Dwayne's birthday and his kindhearted mother, Modestine, is throwing him a party and has a surprise for everyone.  But Dwayne also has a surprise of his own for everyone as does his trashy religious girlfriend, Jolene.  Everyone gets stirred up when Dwayne's ex-girlfriend, Maddie, shows up.

There were a lot of funny and sometimes crude lines ... I wish the actors had paused to let them land, though.  I found that funny lines were said and the actors kept going so we missed the next lines because the audience (including me) was laughing.  Plus sometimes the actors spoke really fast.

This was a fun play and the actors did a good job with it ... I liked it and would recommend it.  The play has potential ... I think the actors need to practice a bit more as it seemed like they stumbled over the lines sometimes.

Book ~ "Death, Taxes, and Hot-Pink Leg Warmers" (2013) Diane Kelly

From Goodreads ~ It’s bad enough that Tara has to go on trial against the mortgage-frauding “Tennis Racketeers” who cheated banks and homeowners out of millions in between doubles matches. Now she has to go undercover - in a strip club - to strip the sleazeball owner of his indeed illegal livelihood. At least she’s working as a bookkeeper, not a pole dancer. And who needs tips when her undercover crush, Special Agent Nick, is the club’s bodyguard? 

With so many hot bodies on display, Tara agrees to join her boss, Lu “the Lobo” Lobozinski, in her daily workouts at the Y. Lu’s on a health kick after recovering from cancer and she’s pulled her leotards, tights and hot-pink leg warmers out of mothballs. Which is okay with Tara. If she hopes to put Mr. Geils behind bars, grab the tennis boys by the balls and lock lips with the unsuspecting Nick, she needs to be in the best shape of her life.

Tara is an IRS agent and has two cases on the go.  Four men dubbed the "Tennis Racketeers" have ripped off desperate homeowners and taken their homes.  Tara and her partner, Eddie, investigate and testify at the trial. In the other case, Tara becomes an undercover bookkeeper at a strip club where it's suspected the slimy owner is dealing drugs.  Nick, Tara's new boyfriend and fellow IRS agent, is also working undercover at the club as a bodyguard,

This is the fifth book in the Tara Holloway series (I've read the previous ones) and the six book I've read by this author.  It works as a stand alone as there was enough information from the past ones so you know what's going on.

I liked this book.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic.  It is written in first person perspective from Tara's point of view.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I like Tara and Nick together ... they seem well-suited and fun together.  I did find their constant obsession with having sex annoying ... it's all they seemed to think and talk about.  It was interesting to see how Tara's view of the world of strippers changed as she worked at the club and she got to know the workers.  I like the supporting characters like Eddie, Tara and Nick's parents, etc.

I'm enjoying this series and look forward to reading more.  We were left with quite a cliffhanger in this one!

Trius wine club - August

Our August Trius wine club box was delivered today.

Gord and I have been members of the Trius Wine Club for over ten years.

Every month, 2 bottles of our best wine will be delivered to your door along with Winemaker Craig McDonald’s tasting notes and Chef Frank Dodd’s recipes.

The cost is $43 a month and it's only available in Ontario.

Here's what we got this month ...

  • Trius Merlot 2013 ($14.95) ~ The recipe included that pairs with it is Jambalya
  • Showcase Riesling 2013 "Ghost Creek Vineyard" ($25.20) - The recipe included that pairs with it is Spicy Pad Thai

Both wines sound delicious!

And while Gord and I will enjoy what's in the box, the kitties enjoyed the box!

Morgan chilled in the box ...