Saturday 30 April 2016

Book ~ "The Ontario Craft Beer Guide" (2016) Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John

From Goodreads ~ Forget wine tours! This is the comprehensive guide to Ontario’s craft-beer revival and the brewers behind it. 

The renaissance of craft beer that has swept North America over the past thirty years has transformed the Ontario landscape, leaving over two hundred breweries, both great and humble, dotting the province. The diversity of craft beers we now enjoy is unprecedented in history and dazzling to behold. For the growing number of people who find their interest piqued, the sheer selection of brews can be intimidating. 

"The Ontario Craft Beer Guide" gives readers, whether bright-eyed beginners or aficionados of the highest calibre, a dependable field guide to the beers of Ontario. Noted experts Jordan St. John and Robin LeBlanc tell the stories of some of Ontario’s most notable breweries and provide expert ratings for nearly a thousand beers.

Gord and I like craft beer (though he is more adventurous than I am) and we go to a lot of beer festivals every year.  So it shouldn't be a big surprise that this book caught my eye.

The book starts with a brief history of Ontario's craft beer past, followed by how and where we can buy craft beer in Ontario.

There is an extensive list of Ontario craft breweries, including when they opened, their owners, their histories and their beer.  I travel quite a bit because of my job.  When I'm going outside of Toronto, I ask Gord if there is a craft brewery that he wants me stop in so I can pick him up some beer.  I was surprised to see that I've visited many of the breweries that were listed.

There is also a list of recommended Ontario craft beer pubs and we've visited many of them.

There is a glossary of various terms.  To make it handy for you to explore the various breweries, there is a list of them by region.

If you want to experience more of Ontario's craft beer, this book should be your bible.

Beast, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had brunch today at Beast (on Tecumseth Street, south of Adelaide Street W).  Though it's been around for about six years, we just heard about it a couple months ago and wanted to check it out.

It seats about 35 people and was jammed when we got there about 10:45am.  We got the second last free table.

Friday 29 April 2016

Book ~ "Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can't Back Up With Facts" (2015) Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

From GoodreadsStefanie Wilder-Taylor is officially fed up with the endless mommy fads, trends, studies, findings and facts about how to raise children. Tiger Mom or Cool Mom? Organic or vegan? TV is the devil or TV is a godsend?

The mother of three young girls, Stefanie has finally decided to hell with Google she's going to find out how to be a mom all on her own. Stefanie shares her secrets for achieving a balance in motherhood between being protective and caring and downright batshit crazy. She'll debunk some of the looniest parenting myths and reinforce others; she'll describe how, through as simple a process as good old trial-and-error, she's learned to pick and choose what works for her and her family, and tune out the rest. 

I've never heard Wilder-Taylor but according to her website, she is "an author, standup comedian, TV personality, blogger and mother of three sporadically charming daughters. She hosts the late night comedy show for moms called Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, which is in its second season. You can catch it nightly on Nick Jr."

Wilder-Taylor shares her thoughts and opinions on things such as taking your kids to the zoo or the park, allowing your kids to quit, bedtime rituals, why sharing sucks, healthy eating and more.  Though I'm not a mother and couldn't relate to the situations, I found the stories and her writing style humorous.  As a head's up, there is a lot of swearing, especially the "F-bomb".

As I said, I'm not a mother and this book reminded me why I choose not to have kids.  Ha!

Island Foods, Toronto, ON (King Street W)

I had lunch today at Island Foods (Dufferin Street/King Street W).  I've been going there since 1998 and it's my favourite place to get a chicken roti.

It's a popular spot at lunchtime.  I got there at 11:45am and there was a bit of line-up.  By noon, the line-up was outside the door.  But the wait is worth it!

I got what I always get ... a boneless chicken roti.  And as always, it was delicious!

 Island Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday 28 April 2016

Book ~ "Indiana Belle" (2016) John A. Heldt

From Goodreads ~ Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the "time-travel professor," and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. 

Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, "Indiana Belle" follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers and jazz. 

It's February 2017 and Cameron Coelho is a doctoral student in history writing a dissertation on the social norms and cultural dynamics of Middle America in the Roaring Twenties.  He buys some private papers of Candice Bell, who was a reporter for an Indiana newspaper in the 1920s, which include personal letters, business correspondence, notes from interviews, pages torn from a diary and a picture.  He is provided with the opportunity to travel back to 1925 to meet Miss Bell.   He is forbidden to change events that happened which includes the murder of Miss Bell that summer.

This is the seventh book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I like time travel books when people go back in time.  Though it is part of the American Journey series, you don't have to read the others to know what's going on since the only constant is the person who is able to send people back in time.   The author wrote about 1925 well and I got a good sense of what it was like living in that time period ... you had to speakeasies for liquor, the KKK was strong, etc.  It is written in third person perspective with the focus shifting between Cameron and Candice.

Free samples at - April 2016

A couple weeks ago, I had answered an emailed survey from SampleSource and there was a box of goodies (free!) waiting for me when I got home today.  This is the fourth box of samples I've gotten from them.

Here's what I got ...

The Flatiron: a Firkin Pub, Toronto, ON

My pal, Liz, and I had supper this evening at the Flatiron at Wellington Street E and Church Street.  It's in the basement of the historic Gooderham Building.

You go down the steps to get into the pub.

Liz ordered a Coronation Chicken Wrap.  She said it was good.

Wimpy's Diner, Hamilton, ON

I had lunch today at Wimpy's Diner on Main Street W (at Dundurn Street N).  It's the first time I've eaten at this chain.

It's fun and colourful inside.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Jester on Yonge, Toronto, ON

I had lunch today at the Jester on Yonge (on Yonge Street, south of St. Clair Avenue).

All the lights were on and it was really really bright!

I ordered a Traditional Club sandwich (minus the lettuce) with fries.  It was an okay sandwich.  I usually like garlic aioli but I wasn't too crazy about it on the sandwich instead of mayo.  The fries kind of tasted like they were deep fried in the same oil as their battered fish.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Book ~ "The Watcher in the Wall" (2016) Owen Laukkanen

From Goodreads ~ Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force have handled shocking cases before but this one is different. 

Stevens’s daughter, Andrea, is distraught over a classmate’s suicide, but what the two investigators find is even more disturbing - an online suicide club of unhappy teenagers, presided over by an anonymous presence who seems to be spurring them on. Soon it becomes apparent that the classmate wasn’t the first victim - and won’t be the last, either, unless they can hunt down this psychopath once and for all.

Carla Windermere is an FBI agent and Kirk Stevens is a special agent with Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension ... they work together on a joint FBI-BCA violent crimes task force.

Windermere and Stevens are wrapping up a case when Adrian, a classmate of Stevens' daughter, commits suicide.  Stevens checks it out and discovers the student had been the object of bullying ... this brings back memories and guilt for Windermere of when she was in high school and a fellow student went through the same thing.

Further investigation reveals Adrian was on a chat forum for people wanting to commit suicide and they discover that someone named Ashley had befriended him and encouraged him to take his life while she watched, saying that it would give her the courage to do the same.  They find that Adrian isn't the first person Ashley has encouraged to commit suicide while she watches.  Windermere and Stevens are determined to hunt her down before she can convince others to end their lives.

I liked the writing style and it kept me interested.  It's written in third person perspective with a focus on Windermere and Ashley.  As such, you get to know Windermere and Ashley well as the story jumps back and forth from the past to the present.  As a head's up, there is swearing.  I didn't find Windermere especially likeable ... she's so hard, cold and unfeeling and a bit messed up.

Though this is the fifth in the Stevens and Windermere series, it works as a stand alone.  I had read the first one when it came out in 2012.  I enjoyed it and said I could see them teaming up for a series and they have.  I'm going to go back and catch up on numbers two to four.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Falcon and Firkin, Richmond Hill, ON

Gord and I saw comedian Steven Wright tonight at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts ... Wright was hilarious!

We had supper beforehand at the Falcon and Firkin on Yonge Street, just north of Major MacKenzie Drive.

Gord and I ordered a pound of wings each.  He got his plain and I got mine with honey garlic sauce.  Gord said his wings were excellent.  He meets his friends a couple times a month at the Goose (another Firkin) and they are consistent.  My honey garlic wings were good.

Book ~ "Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth" (2016) Guinnevere Shuster

From Goodreads ~ Man's best friend! What better way to showcase adoptable dogs than by letting their true personalities shine in a photo booth! 

Often seen as sad, rejected and behind cold metal bars, it's no wonder people would avoid images of shelter dogs awaiting forever homes. From photographer, Guinnevere Shuster, comes "Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth", a guaranteed-to-make-you-smile photo book featuring shelter dogs in a brand-new light.  Get ready to see the cutest canine portraits you’ve ever seen! 

The book features 100 dog photo booth-style photographs, each accompanied by a short story about the dog's personality, how the dog ended up in the shelter, and the adoption date. A follow-up concludes the book, with photos of some of them with their new families. 

I love reading books about animals and that's why this one caught my eye.  This book is made up of photo-booth style pictures taken by Guinnevere Shuster of dogs that were in the Humane Society of Utah.  Shuster is a professional photographer and the social media coordinator at the Humane Society of Utah. Using her photography and media skills, she wanted to help otherwise often overlooked dogs find forever homes. The dogs were apparently not selected at random and she tried to focus on dogs that may have needed a little extra help getting adopted or that didn't do well in a shelter setting.

There are four pictures of 100 dogs, capturing each dog's personality.  Under the pictures is a brief description of the dog such as why it was turned in to the shelter, its personality and its adoption date.

The pictures are really cute.  The dogs are especially focused where there is a treat involved.  Here are some ...

There are also pictures of some of the dogs in their "forever" homes.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Book ~ "No Woman Left Behind" (2015) Julie Moffett

From Goodreads ~ My mother's life goal has been to see me, geek extraordinaire Lexi Carmichael, happily married. So bringing my first boyfriend, Slash, home for dinner has me hyperventilating. Things get a lot worse when bullets start flying over our corn chowder. 

Now the entire alphabet soup of government agencies want my help finding the man behind the attack - Johannes Broodryk, a cyber mercenary I foiled on my last case. He wants revenge and he’s taken something of mine to ensure I’ll play, so it’s game on. But the government has its own agenda and Slash is not on board with the plan. Things are a bit bumpy in paradise. 

Although I'm more comfortable with computer code than commandos, I've been assigned a team of navy SEALs to help bring Broodryk down. The question is, will they survive me long enough to solve his cryptic puzzles and save the day? 

Lexi and Slash, a government agent and fellow hacker, have been dating for a while.  She finally gets up the nerve to bring him home to meet her parents (he's her first boyfriend) and someone starts shooting through the window during the soup round.  A memory stick is found in the kitchen which leads them back to Johannes Broodryk, who Lexi had foiled in No Test for the Wicked.  Broodryk is forcing Lexi to make the decision between saving a friend or saving her country.  Working with the Navy SEALS, Lexi hopes she can save them both.

Though this is the sixth in the Lexi Carmichael series, it works as a stand alone as you are provided with enough background.  I'm enjoying the series and thought this book was just okay (I've enjoyed some of the others more).  While I liked the writing style, I'm not into stories about cyber terrorism or Navy SEALS ... plus this one was really technical.  I found this and the last book were so serious and not as much fun as the first four in the series.  I had a hard time believing that geeky non-social Lexi is now roaming around Africa catching bad guys.

It is written in first person perspective from Lexi's point of view.  Slash and her best friend, Elvis, have a large roles in this story.  Her other best friend, Basia, and Elvis' twin brother, Xavier, are barely in the book.  I miss the interactions between Lexi, Elvis and Xavier because the three of them were so geeky and naïve.

So not my favourite in the series but I look forward to Lexi's future adventures.

Delysées, Toronto, ON

Once in a while, Gord will stop at Delysées (on King Street W, just east of Niagara Street) on his way home from work and get me a chocolate croissant ... they are delicious!  I've never been in so I stopped by this afternoon.

Delysées offers exclusively high-end french pastries, individual size desserts, mini sandwiches, 30+ flavors of exotic macarons, and a wide selections gifts and products.  So much to choose from!