Monday 30 June 2014

Book ~ "Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples" (2004) Brian Francis

From Goodreads ~ Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is overweight, the subject of his classmates' ridicule and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. 

When his nipples begin speaking to him one day and inform him of their diabolical plan to expose his secret desires, Peter finds himself cornered in a world that seems to have no tolerance for difference.  Peter's only solace is "The Bedtime Movies" - perfect-world fantasies that lull him to sleep every night. 

But when the lines between Peter's fantasies and his reality begin to blur, his hilarious adventures in overeating, family dysfunction and the terrifying world of sexual awakening really begin.

Peter is 13-years-old and is overweight (205 pounds).  He is picked on at school and his only friend is his 14-year-old neighbour Daniela, the daughter of Italian immigrants, who has a potty mouth. He spends a lot of time alone in his room (with a chair jammed under the doorknob so his mother can't barge in) and on his paper route.  He is always searching for a "boy friend".

At night, he has "Bedtime Movies" in which he fantasizes about Mr. Hanlan (a man on his paper route), male teachers and fellow male students. 

Peter monitors how much weight he's gained by how far his finger can go into his belly button.  One day he realizes his nipples have grown to the size of small cherries and he tapes them down to hide them because he's embarrassed.  I will admit that I was a bit hesitant to read this book when I read that his nipples speak to him but it surprisingly worked.

This is the second book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  It is written in first person perspective in Peter's 13-year-old voice.  I found the language, tone and actions true to his age.  It was at times funny.  As a head's up, there is swearing (lots of F-bombs by Daniela).

I liked the diverse characters.  Peter's not into sports and would rather learn calligraphy than baseball and home ec. rather than industrial arts.  He has a list of things he wants to accomplish this year ... the first and last things are to lose weight.  He is scared of Daniela but loyal to her.  Peter's mother is going through the "change" and is very emotional, which doesn't help since she is so overprotective as it is.  His dad works shift work and just wants peace.  His sisters are always fighting ... one of them feels smug because she works at Peoples Jewellers.

This story takes place in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1984 ... it was a fun reminder about Woolco, rugby pants, Jane Fonda workout videos, Olivia Newton John records, etc.  It was definitely a different time.

You should check it out if you are looking for something different and quirky.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Book ~ "Death Takes a Ride" (2014) Lorena McCourtney

From Goodreads ~ Once again private investigator Cate Kinkaid finds herself in more danger than her pay grade should allow when a straightforward case of attempted robbery turns out to be so much more.

Cate was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She'd stopped in to give Shirley a ride to a meeting at Shirley's workplace.  While she's waiting, Cate  hears gunshots and discovers that a robber had burst in, shooting one of Shirley's boss and Shirley's other boss had shot and killed the robber.  Cate is hired to investigate to see why it happened.

In the meantime, Cate's boyfriend, Mitch, is thinking about selling his computer company and maybe moving away.

I love mysteries and wanted to like this one but I didn't.  I found the writing style could have been tighter and that it dragged.

I didn't realize when I started reading it that it was a Christian mystery.  Though I'm not religious, I didn't have any issue with this.

I found Cate and Mitch boring and I couldn't relate to them.  Cate was thirty and I thought she was too naïve at that age.  She's wondering what is going on between her and Mitch and instead of asking him, she lets her imagination run wild.  I liked Clancy, the dog, the best.

I'm sure there are lots of fans out there of this author ... I guess I like my stories edgier and more realistic (Cate and Mitch didn't drink, swear or do anything beyond kiss).

The Bristol, Toronto, ON

The Bristol recently opened in our 'hood where the Samuel J. Moore used to be ... it is a revamp of the recently closed Bristol Yard.

Gord and I checked it out this morning for brunch.

They have a good reputation for brunch and we figured it would be busy so we got there about 11:15am.

Keeping an eye on everyone!
There's an ATM in the police box

I don't drink coffee but Gord does ... that was a big cup of coffee and Gord said it was good!

Saturday 28 June 2014

Book ~ "Haunted Ontario: Ghostly Inns, Hotels, and Other Eerie Places" (2013) Terry Boyle

From Goodreads ~ Just when you thought it was safe to turn off the lights, ghost hunter Terry Boyle returns with a revised version of his bestselling "Haunted Ontario". Join Terry as he conjures up a treasury of spectral delights that include apparitions at the former Swastika Hotel in Muskoka, the woman in the window at Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge, and poltergeists galore in Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum.

Venture – if you dare – on a ghost hunt to inns, hotels and museums. Travel with your mind, and perhaps your body, too, to restaurants and private homes. Experience rattling doorknobs, slamming doors, faces in mirrors, and flickering lights. Read accounts from former skeptics and feel their nervous tension as they relate experiences of shadowy visitors, ghostly voices, and household objects that mysteriously disappear. Watch a television show when the set is unplugged and hear tales of vanishing sailors – boats and all.

 With a list of addresses, phone numbers and websites to each location, Terry Boyle invites all ghost enthusiasts along for the adventure. Feeling brave? You might just want to stop and visit some ghosts on your next trip. 

I've always found ghost stories interesting and this book caught my eye because it was ghost stories about places in Ontario including ...
  • The Swastika Hotel (now Bala Bay Inn) in Bala
  • The Jester's Court Restaurant and Pub in Port Perry
  • The Donnelly Homestead in Lucan
  • The Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge - Gord and I stayed there for a couple days last August but didn't see anything or hear anything strange
  • The Mackenzie Inn in Kirkfield
  • The Guild Inn in Scarborough

A couple stories were about prisons and jails that are now hotels and hostels ... can you imagine staying at these places?!  Creepy!

I liked that the stories were told at a high level and if I wanted more information, I could Google and dig for myself.

In the back of the book is the contact information for all the sites if you want to check them out.

I'll be checking out other books by this author.

Mackenzie's High Park, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I walked around High Park for a couple hours, we were hot and sweaty ... and in need of something cold to drink (we'd forgotten to bring water ... duh!).

Mackenzies is right across the street from the park (Bloor Street W/Quebec Avenue) so we popped in for a beer.

Gord's beer was refreshing!

A FIFA soccer game had just gotten over and another one started up shortly thereafter.  We got comfy and ended up staying for supper and watched the game.  There were a few people with the same idea.

Looking towards the entrance

I started with garlic bread with mozzarella cheese (which I shared with Gord) and it was good.

High Park, Toronto, ON

It was a gorgeous day (sunny and 27C/35C with the humidity) and Gord and I wanted to be outside ... so we took the streetcar to High Park.

High Park is a municipal park in Toronto, Ontario. It spans 161 hectares (400 acres) and is a mixed recreational and natural park, with sporting facilities, cultural facilities, educational facilities, gardens, playgrounds and a zoo. One third of the park remains in a natural state, with a rare oak savannah ecology. High Park was opened to the public in 1876 and is based on a bequest of land from John George Howard to the City of Toronto. It is the largest park entirely within the city.

We entered the park at the Queensway/Colbourne Lodge Drive.  Right away one of the park's trains went by us (it takes about 25 minutes to do the circuit).

We headed towards Grenadier Pond and followed it along.

A tree had been knocked down or cut down.
Someone carved a chair from the stump

Friday 27 June 2014

The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies Bevy 0006 event, Toronto, ON

Tonight I attended the sixth The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies bevy event.

A group of Toronto ladies passionate about all things craft beer. We enjoy great craft beer & awesome women togetherness the last Friday of every month. 

The tickets were $30 and that includes two drink tickets ... one for a beer and other for a beer cocktail.  After that you can (and are encouraged to) buy more drinks.  A portion of the ticket and beer sales is donated to the Canadian Women's Foundation.

The bevy events start at 8pm (I got there about 8:15pm) ... after midnight, men are allowed in.

Tonight's was held at the Norman Felix Gallery (Adelaide W/Portland).

You could buy sliders ...

You could also buy swag (tank tops and glasses) ...

I started with a beer cocktail.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Topbox - June 2014

My June 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 = $29.17

Looks good!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Book ~ "Secret Toronto: The Unique Guidebook to Toronto's Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes" (2002) Scott Mitchell

From Goodreads ~ This detailed guide leads travelers far from the beaten path to uncover Toronto's best-kept secrets. From obscure museums and overlooked neighborhood treasures to tucked-away green spaces and exotic ethnic cuisine, these little-known destinations yield big rewards for the more adventurous traveler. The soul of this cosmopolitan city is highlighted by hotspots where visitors can learn Latin dancing at night, disco after hours, and rent a private dungeon at an S & M bed-and-breakfast.

Toronto has so much offer and I love checking it out.  This book caught my eye because it sounded like it would talk about the out-of-the-norm things here in Toronto ... and it did.

The "secrets" are listed alphabetically.  It starts off with acoustics and ends with 'zines.  In between you can get bits of info on where to find belly dancing, chocolate, make-up, pool, plane spotting, the walk of fame and a lot more!

Here is the acoustics one ...

In 1987, a little-known Toronto band called Cowboy Junkies married the voice of singer Margo Timmins to the natural acoustics of a little church in downtown Toronto and recorded the groundbreaking Trinity Sessions album. Now overshadowed by the mammoth Eaton Centre and easily overlooked, the lovely Church of the Holy Trinity(Trinity Square, Yonge and Dundas, accessible from the Eaton Centre exit at the south end of Eaton's or from the park at Bay and Dundas West, 416-598-4521) was once the central fixture of a working-class "suburb" of York known as Macaulay Town. Completed in 1847, Holy Trinity had the distinction of being Toronto's first Anglican church where the pews were entirely free, a condition set by an anonymous benefactor (an Englishwoman whose identity was not revealed until 1898). The rectory and garden of Holy Trinity now offer a secluded, peaceful retreat from the frenetic shopping mall. Services are still celebrated in the church, which hosts plays and concerts, including the annual Christmas pageant (a tradition for more than 60 years). 

The version I read was printed in 2002 so a lot of the places aren't around anymore (like the Matador, an after hours bar not far from my 'hood that is now being developed into condos) but it was fun to be reminded of them.  Other places (like Sunnyside and Gilbraltor Lighhouse) are still around and it was interesting to get a brief history.

Because the book is so dated (I couldn't find one more recent), I wouldn't use it as a definitive guide but it did give some interesting places to check out.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Book ~ "Dog Shaming" (2013) Pascale Lemire

From Goodreads ~ Based on the runaway web phenomenon, Dog Shaming features the most hilarious, most shameful, and never-before-seen doggie misdeeds. 

Our dogs are our best friends. They are always happy to see us. They comfort us in our times of need. They also eat our shoes, stain our carpets, and embarrass us in front of our guests. 

Dog owners everywhere have found their outlet in, where they can confess their dogs’ biggest (and often grossest!) sins, which turn out to be recognizably universal - complete with snapshots of ridiculously cute but shamed pups who don’t seem capable of humping humans, pooping on pillows, or snagging steak straight from a grill. So share in the shaming and laugh through your frustration as Dog Shaming reminds us that unconditional love goes both ways.

I've been checking out on a regular basis for a couple years ... the pictures are hilarious!

Dog Shaming started one night when the author and her boyfriend, Mike, were in bed reading on their tablets when they heard chewing coming from under the bed. Mike reached out and pulled Beau (their rescue wiener dog) out from under the bed. They realized he'd been chewing on Mike's underwear. They burst out laughing and snapped a picture with a sign beside him and she posted it to her blog. 


Within 24 hours, people had blogged and reblogged the picture over and over.  Then other dog owners started sending her pictures of their own dogs' shames, which she posted.

This book is a compilation of pictures of dogs and their shames.  They are all funny and here are some samples ...

If you are a dog lover, you should check it out!  It's a quick but funny read.

Monday 23 June 2014

El Caballito Tequila y Tacos, Toronto, ON

I've been an Elite Yelper since 2010.  Tonight Yelp had an elite event, Sombrero Fiesta, at El Caballito Tequila y Tacos (King Street W/Duncan Street) and Gord and I went.

El Caballito opened in February and there will be an upscale Mexican restaurant upstairs.

The restaurant was closed for the evening for Yelp party.  There were quite a few people when we got there just after 7pm ... 150 were expected.  Everyone was given a sombrero and a towel.

It was fairly dark in the restaurant so my pictures aren't great ...

Sunday 22 June 2014

Book ~ "Takedown Twenty" (2013) Janet Evanovich

From Goodreads ~ New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice) and nobody wants to turn him in - not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because - just Stephanie’s luck - the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail. 

It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose - and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor. 

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

Stephanie has to track down is Uncle Sunny, who was charged with murder.  Not only does everyone in the 'hood love Uncle Sunny but he's also Morelli's godfather and his grandmother's nephew.  Plus Uncle Sunny always has his right-hand men with him and they don't kindly to Stephanie pursuing him.

Older women are getting killed and thrown in dumpsters.  One of Ranger's clients mom was a victim so he hires Ranger to investigate and Stephanie helps him out.  This takes her around to various businesses in the 'hood and even to bingo to figure out what the women had in common so they can track down the killer.  She gets to the point where she considers taking her mother's advice to find another career.

Plus there is a giraffe (who Lulu names Kevin) running loose around the 'hood and no one seems to think it's strange.

As in previous books, Evanovich continues to follow her formula:
  • Stephanie is lusting after Morelli and Ranger ... check
  • Stephanie's mom's nerves are shot so drinks and irons ... check
  • Grandma Masur is outrageous ... check
  • Lulu is eating all the time and gets mad when someone calls her fat ... check
  • Stephanie's cars get stolen or shot at and Ranger keeps lending her his ... check
  • Stephanie goes home to mooch meals from her parents ... check 
  • Morelli's grandmother, Bella, is putting the evil eye on Stephanie ... check

Stephanie is still attracted to both Morelli and Ranger.  She's supposed to be Morelli's girlfriend (they are almost engaged) yet she still thinks about Ranger in ways she shouldn't and she lets him put the moves on her.  The majority of conversations she has with Morelli aren't deep and he talks to her like she's a 'ho and the only time he wants to spend with her is to get it on.  Same old, same old.  Speaking of 'hos, Lulu is still Lulu.  In this book, though, she considers going back on the street so she can make some money to buy a designer purse.  Really?

I thought the ending came together rather quickly and conveniently and I wasn't buying who the killer was and why.

These books have become mindless quick at times amusing reads.  You know what you are going to get and you go along for the familiar ride.

Book ~ "Pros and Cons" (2013) Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

From Goodreads ~ FBI special agent Kate O’Hare has made it her mission to nail international con artist Nicolas Fox. When she discovers his plot to plunder a venture capitalist’s twentieth-story Chicago penthouse of all its cash and treasures at the same time that the self-proclaimed “King of Hostile Takeovers” is getting married, Kate is 85% - okay maybe 92% - sure that she’s finally going to bag Nick Fox.

Problem is, first Kate has to convince her boss, building security, and maybe even herself, that wedding planner Merrill Stubing is actually Nicolas Fox. Second, she has to figure out how to corner and capture him without disrupting the event of the year. And third, what’s going to happen once O’Hare finally gets her hands on Fox? It’s going take a pro to catch a con before the fireworks over Lake Michigan go off.

This is a short story and the prequel to The Heist, which I'd read a couple weeks ago.

Kate O'Hare is an FBI agent on the hunt for Nick Fox, who is a con artist.  She tracks him to Chicago where he is posing as wedding planner Merrill Stubing (he takes his aliases from TV characters).  He is hoping the bride-to-be's flimsy wedding dress and fireworks will be enough distractions so he can rob the rich older groom-to-be, Milton.

I've read the next two in the series (the latest one will be out this year) and enjoyed them.  Had I read this one first, it would have piqued my interest to read get into the series.  I liked the writing style and it's a quick read.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I left the Waterfront Festival, we walked to the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival.

We'd bought our tickets during the week ... $21.50 got us a sampling glass plus five tickets (we bought another 20 tickets).  Drinks were one to three tickets.

There were a few people when we got there about 2:30pm and it got busier as the afternoon went on.

Here's what I had today ...