Thursday 30 June 2016

Book ~ "The Potty Mouth at the Table" (2013) Laurie Notaro

From Goodreads ~ Laurie Notaro thinks everyone’s nuts. Or maybe there’s just something wrong with her. Here, she examines the basic human condition of rudeness - other people’s rudeness, that is - in her latest uproariously funny collection. 

In her trademark irreverent style, Laurie recounts in detail such unfortunate situations as discovering that she wasn't on the viewable Facebook invite list for a good friend’s party, or standing behind a woman in the pharmacy line who says to the clerk, “Hi. I was wondering if you could tell me what a staph infection looks like?” and proceeds to embark on a fifteen-minute conversation that includes sentences like, “Infection can burrow.” 

So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering if the person seated next to you on the plane is being earnest when he tells the stewardess he will handle the emergency door in the event of a crash landing or spotted a chunk of something that could be chocolate under your keyboard and desperately wanted to eat it, then this collection of sometimes bizarre and always entertaining observations is for you. 

It's been a while since I've read one of Notaro's books.  I've enjoyed her books in the past.

Most of the rants stories were funny (like the one about her shower puff, when she has lunch with her ex-boyfriend, when she is suffering from the effects of eating falafel, and her rants about Yelpers) while others were just so-so.  She finishes off with a story of her friend, Kartz, who has brain cancer.

Tom's Dairy Freeze, Etobicoke, ON

It's warm and sunny today and I was craving an ice cream so I went to Tom's Dairy Freeze on the Queensway.

I drive by it fairly often but hadn't been since Sister Sarah and I went in 2012.

Waterfront Trail (west), Toronto, ON

It's a warm sunny day and I headed for a walk along the Waterfront Trail this afternoon.

I started at Sunnyside Cafe and Pavillion.

There were a few people on Sunnyside Beach but I didn't see anyone in the water (though there were people on paddle boats and in boats).

"Throw the ball in the water again!!"

beautybox five - June 2016

My June beautybox five arrived today.

Beauty Box 5 is a subscription-based, beauty sampling service that delivers 5 deluxe samples and full-sized products right to your door every month.

Subscriptions are $12US a month or $99US for a year.  Shipping is free.

 Here's what I received ...

Value = $54.63US

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Book ~ "No Strings Attached" (2016) Julie Moffett

From Goodreads ~ Oops, I did it again ...

 Leave it to me, Lexi Carmichael, to become a target for an elite organization of cyber criminals simply by being in the wrong place at the right time. As if I weren't already freaking out about planning my best friend's bachelorette party, I now have to keep my eyes peeled for people trying to kill me. 

After accidentally intercepting a dangerous hack into the NSA and discovering the involvement of a foreign country in said hack, things begin to get seriously complicated. Diplomats, danger and spies, oh, my! 

With Slash and my loyal friends by my side, I'm in a race against time to stop a team of sophisticated hackers on a deadly mission. My team of geeks is brilliant ... but derailing an international plot for revenge will take everything we've got.

Lexi is a director for X-Corp, an intelligence and security company.  She is a guest speaker at a hacker's convention and, while on a break, is mistaken for someone else and handed the code for a hack into a government agency.  Once the error is discovered, someone tries to kill Lexi because of what she now knows.  She tells her boyfriend, Slash, who is a government agent and fellow hacker, about it and they determine what the hack is about and try to neutralize it.  There is a mole in one of the government agencies so Lexi and Slash must run and hide.

While all this is going on, Lexi's best friend, Basia is getting married in a month and Lexi is her maid of honour ... which means she has to go with Basia to buy the dresses, plan the bachelorette party that is happening this Saturday, etc.  As a geek lacking in social skills, these are the last things that Lexi wants to do but she can't let her friend down.

Though this is the eighth (and latest) in the Lexi Carmichael series, it works as a stand alone as you are provided with background (though it does help if you've read No Room for Error).  I've liked the series and thought this book was okay (I've enjoyed some of the others more).

It is written in first person perspective from Lexi's point of view.  I liked the writing style and there was humour.  I enjoyed the non-hacking part of the story more as it was lighter and funnier ... like Lexi going with Basia to try on her wedding dress for the first time and attending the bachelorette party (needless to say, both are memorable).

Monday 27 June 2016

Book ~ "A Murder in Time" (2016) Julie McElwain

From Goodreads ~ Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates. 

 While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact. 

 Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman. 

Kendra is an FBI agent.  When a mission goes wrong, most of her team is killed, she is badly hurt and it takes months for her to recover.  When she is well enough, she heads to England to get justice by killing the man responsible while at a costume party at a castle.  Things don't go as she planned and she is transported to 1815.

Not knowing if she was crazy or had indeed gone back in time, Kendra pretends to be a lady's maid.  When the body of a young woman is found murdered, Kendra uses her skills from the 21st century to help find the killer.

I enjoy murder mysteries and time travel stories so this was a combination of two of my favourites.  I liked the writing style ... I always find it interesting to see how people from present day react when thrust into the past.  In some respects, Kendra adapted well ... in others, she didn't as she discovered that she was a lousy lady's maid.  I figured out who the killer was with a clue that Kendra eventually remembered and it was a bit convoluted.  My only issue with this story was with the way Kendra took charge of the murder investigation and everyone let her.  Back in the those days, women were decoration ... plus Kendra was pretending to be a lowly servant.  No one would have listened to her and would have put her in her place.  But considering I bought into the fact that she had time traveled, I had to let it go.

This is the first in the Kendra Dovovan series and it will be interesting to see how the next one is.

Cadillac Lounge, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at the Cadillac Lounge (Queen Street W, just west of Dufferin Street).

We both ordered wings.  I got my wings with medium sauce and fries and they were really good.  Gord got his wings with no sauce and swapped his fries for mac 'n cheese (for a small extra charge) ... I'd do that next time.  Though the fries were good, the mac 'n cheese was delicious!

Bandit Brewery, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to Bandit Brewery (on Dundas Street W at Roncesvalles Avenue) to watch the England - Iceland UEFA EURO 2016 soccer game this afternoon.  We went there a couple weeks ago for the first time and liked it.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Book ~ "Written in the Stars" (2015) Aisha Saeed

From Goodreads ~ Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: she may choose what to study, how to wear her hair and what to be when she grows up - but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating - even friendship with a boy - is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. 

Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed - her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! 

Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif ... if he can find her before it’s too late.

Naila's parents are originally from Pakistan.  Seventeen-year-old Naila and her brother were born and raised in Florida.  For the last year, Naila has secretly been dating Saif and they are counting the days until they go away to university (along with her friend, Carla) and she will have more freedom.

When her parents discover Naila and Saif's relationship, they pack up the family and head to Pakistan for a month on vacation as she has brought shame to the family.  But their time away gets extended again and again and Naila realizes that not only are her parents not allowing her to go to university after all, they are looking for a husband for her and are going to force her into an arranged marriage.

This was an interesting story as it was so culturally different and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  It is written in first person perspective from Naila's point of view.  I think the author did a good job in showing how Naila was caught between the traditional ways of her parents and being a "good" daughter but struggling to be who she wanted to be since she was raised with more freedom in the U.S.  Being back in Pakistan, even though that was her roots, was a bit of a culture shock for her, especially when she realized what her parents were up to.

The author herself is in a semi-arranged marriage.  When she was 22, she had met her husband only once, surrounded by family. before getting engaged and only a few times after that before their wedding day.  Twelve years and two children later, she is still married to "the love of her life".  She has known other women who weren't as lucky ... forced into marriages they wouldn't have chosen for themselves.  Though Naila's story is fiction, the author said she hopes "to provide a voice" to girls who feel they have no choice.  It seems unbelievable to me that in this day and age that forced arranged marriages still happen.  It's crazy that parents are more concerned about their reputations than the happiness of their children.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Duggan’s Brewery Parkdale, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Duggan's (at Queen Street W/Brock).

They brew their beer onsite

Book ~ "How My Cat Made Me a Better Man" (2016) Jeremy Feig

From Goodreads ~ Jeremy Feig was at rock bottom - broke, alone, and living in a shoebox-sized apartment. At the same time, his cat was perfectly content. 

What was her secret? She couldn't say it out loud but it was clear she had all the answers to living a good life. 

"How My Cat Made Me a Better Man" is a hilarious self-help book for guys, based on the lessons of an edgy cat named Shelly. It's packed with useful advice on topics like relationships, dealing with stress, and even grooming habits. If you feel like your life is spinning out of control, this book will help you set things right - and keep you laughing along the way.

I like cats (I've got two) so that's what attracted me to this book, even though I'm not a man ... I figured the same principles could apply to everyone.

Shelly is the author's cat.  And through Shelly, he learned about and describes lessons in:
  1. Control
  2. Grooming
  3. Fear
  4. Relationships
  5. Persistence
  6. Health
  7. Stress
  8. Career
  9. Sharing

The chapters begin with a cat tale and a lesson.  Then there are tips.  For example in the Control section, the tips include not being a doormat, confidence, picking your battles, self-discipline, compromise and acceptance,   Some chapters have quizzes, "WWCD" (What Would Cats Do?), comparisons (for example, as living with a woman vs living a cat), etc.

I liked the messages in the book and it was cute to use Shelly as a learning tool.  I enjoyed the writing style as it was funny and easy to read ... I did get tired of his use of "chick" when referring to women, though.  Seriously, Dude?!   With all the self-help books out there, this was an interesting twist.

Friday 24 June 2016

Book ~ "My Heart and Other Black Holes" (2015) Jasmine Warga

From Goodreads ~ Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Aysel's parents are from Turkey and moved to the U.S. before she was born.  They split up when Aysel was about a year old and Aysel lived with her father.  When he is sent to prison, Aysel moves in with her mother and her new family, though she doesn't feel welcome.

Aysel is 16-years-old and sad and feels alone.  She decides she is going to commit suicide and finds a partner in Roman, another teenager, on an online suicide site.  As she and Roman start hanging out together, she gets to know and like him and starts to reconsider their pact and hopes that Roman feel the same way.

This is the author's first novel and despite probably not being the correct demographic (mid to late teens), I liked it.  It wasn't a happy story as Aysel and Roman were both dealing with dramatic events that had effected their lives.  I liked the writing style and it was written in first person from Aysel's perspective.  As a head's up, there is some swearing.

At the end of the book, there are resources for suicide prevention.

Thursday 23 June 2016

meowbox - June 2016

Morgan and Crumpet's June meowbox arrived this week.

meowbox is a cat subscription box full of surprises, delivered to your door every month. Your meowbox is brimming with yummy cat treats and fun cat toys, specially selected for quality and uniqueness, to cater to your cat’s discriminating taste. 

We carefully research and select items that are high quality and unique. We pick food and treats that are either made with natural ingredients, are tasty, nutritious, grain-free, organic or locally made. You won’t find just the regular run-of-the-mill stuff in your meowbox. Our goal is to excite kitty and put a smile on your face. 

The cost ranges from $22.95 to $32.95 a month, depending on the plan, and shipping is free.

We believe that if we have the opportunity to give, then we should share what we have. This philosophy comes packaged neatly within the heart of every meowbox. For every meowbox you buy, we give a can of food (or monetary equivalent) to a shelter cat on your behalf. One box can make a difference.

This month, Morgan and Crumpet's donation is being sent to the Humane Society of El Paso in El Paso, TX.

Here's what was in the box ...

Artwork by Rosalie Ferne

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Quality Inn & Suites Downtown - Inn on the Hill, Charlottetown, PEI

I stayed Sunday 'til this morning at the Quality Inn & Suites - Inn on the Hill (on Euston Street).

Here was my room ...

The tub was great for bubble baths
... the towels were really really soft
The bed was comfy

Tuesday 21 June 2016

John Brown Richmond Street Grille, Charlottetown, PEI

I had supper this evening at John Brown Richmond Street Grille ... it is on Victoria Row (on Richmond Street).

Victoria Row is one of the gems of Charlottetown. Not only is the area full of restaurants, cafes, shops and galleries but this cobblestoned street is lined by some of the most beautiful historic buildings in the city. Located on Richmond Street, between Queen and Great George Street, Victoria Row is closed to vehicle traffic during the summer months and transformed into a pedestrian mall. 

John George Hamilton Brown Jr. was the original visionary of Victoria Row but it was never his intention for it to be anything other than the Brown Block.

The British Warehouse was a dry goods store operated by John Brown Senior until it was destroyed in the fire of 1884. That tragedy quickly turned to an opportunity for John Brown Jr. – he wasted no time in buying up the property surrounding the burned out lot. Prominent local architects, Phillips and Chappell were hired to design the Italianate Commercial-style buildings. The three sections of Brown Block were not identical in their construction.

The design was also more decorative, being reminiscent of the Venetian arcades of the Renaissance period. The Brown Block remains one of the City’s well-preserved examples of this style. Despite various fires, including three that damaged the Brown Block in 1952, 1957 and 1971, the buildings have survived as a well-preserved assembly of Victorian buildings in the City.

There was a jazz band playing across the street.

It looked like it might rain so I sat inside rather than on the patio (it ended up not raining).