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The Home for the Unwanted Girls

He who plants a seed plants life.Family relationships are complicated. And novelists have long used this premise to weave a tale of intrigue and suspense. Joanna Goodman's new novel, The Home For Unwanted Girls, is based on this idea. 

Set in 1950s Quebec, right in the centre of the French and English political turmoil, the novel is filled with secrets, deceit, family and love. As the title suggests, the story centres around the abandonment of a child. 

Maggie Hughes' parents represent both sides of the French and English resistance. Maggie's English-speaking father is pro-Anglo and has ambitious plans for his daughter, including going to an elite English school and definitely not interacting with French-speaking boys. The irony is that, his wife, Maggie's mother is francophone. Maggie has always been daddy's little girl and when it comes to taking sides, she's going to lean on the side of her father. She's always at odds with her mother, who constantly compl…

Get lost in Camp Forevermore

Camp can be a life-changing experience. From developing independence and self-confidence skills, to leadership and respect, one summer can forever change a child's outlook on life. But, while glossy camp brochures tout the great positive benefits of the experience, they often fail to take into consideration any negative impact it can glean on the child. 

That's the premise behind The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu. 

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a young group of girls are sent to Camp Forevermore. Whether it's building up camaraderie with activities that include swimming to camp songs by the fire, on paper these girls seem to have hit the jackpot of a summer of experiences. Except that life isn't that straightforward. The reality is that there is bickering and backstabbing and bullying. 

One day, they set out on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island with a sole adult counsellor. What happens on this trip translates to a lifetime of scars, one that …

A cappuccino a day, keeps stress away

A frigid Sunday afternoon calls for baking. Eager to try out Tanya Bakes, a new baking book by YouTube sensation Tanya Burr, I scoured the pages to find something that would be easy to whip up and using the ingredients I already had in my pantry. Luckily, there were quite a few recipes that seemed to incorporate basic ingredients that any baker is sure to already have. 

I decided on the Cappuccino Cake. Because this is a British cookbook, it took some getting used to on the measurements. I turned to my handy metric conversation to estimate the amounts. For new bakers, who are not used to the British Imperial System of weights and measures, this can be a bit daunting and takes a bit of getting used to. 

The recipe also called for self-raising flour, and generally most baking recipes I've used incorporate all-purpose flour with baking soda. So, I took the liberty of adding some myself. The typical Canadian hack is 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 tsp baking soda = 1 cup of self raising flo…

How Top Performers Do Less and Achieve More

Many people believe that working hard is the key to success. But is it really? 

When Morten T. Hansen started his first job at twenty four, he worked crazy hours to make up for the lack of experience he possessed. Years later, he discovered something astonishing that made him rethink this initial position in work success. A colleague of his, was able to work a 8 - 6 day and produce work that was far superior to his. No nights. No weekends. 

Through various research, he came up with a theory.

To work smarter means to maximize the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted efforts.
Morten T. Hansen outlines seven key principles that yield extraordinary individual performance. By improving on these seven practices you can boost your performances beyond what it would be if you relied on talent, luck or the sheer number of hours worked. 

Start small and build up these routines bit by bit, until you master them. Great at Work tells stories of people from all w…

The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age by Andrew O’Hagan

Looking for a book to kick off 2018? There’s Andrew O’Hagan’s “The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age” for timeliness and relevance.

The end of one year and the beginning of another prompts reflection of what was, introspection of what is, and resolutions for what may come, and this is no less true than the seeing out of 2017 and the welcoming of 2018. 

To that end, there were a number of topics which were top of mind as 2017 came and went: the proliferation of so-called “fake news” supported by algorithms know as trolls and bots; the rise of Donald Trump aided by foreign involvement mirroring the fall of Hillary Clinton coinciding with WikiLeaks disclosures; and the mania of bitcoin as it became a household name and the cryptocurrency reached dizzying valuations on the back of speculators’ FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”).

All of these narratives fit hand in glove with Andrew O’Hagan’s book. 

O’Hagan takes the craft of writing seriously, as his accomplished bio shows, and he …

The Martian is back (well sorta) ☾☽

Andy Weir is back with a new space-inspired novel: Artemis. No one can forget, his previous best-selling novel, The Martian, which was adapted into the blockbuster motion picture that featured Matt Damon stranded on The Red Planet. 

I thought The Martian was great. The book was slow and steady, and in doing so was able to accurately capture the feeling of being isolated in space. Growing potatoes, figuring out a way to reuse the water and was methodological plan put into place with one man with no resources. Yes, it was a plausible narrative. 

Artemis, is different. The characters are different. It's more of a fast-action narrative featuring a smart, young millennial called Jazz Bashara who lives on the first city on the moon. She's a bit of a rebel, loves to have a good time and also estranged from her devout Muslim father. Working as a porter, to support herself, she's constantly struggling to just get by. Jazz doesn't always follow the rules, but always …

🎼 Music to my ears (especially at this time of the year)

Rachel Joyce has a style of writing that fans adore. With a simplicity in her storytelling, she's able to touch hearts better than any AI tool can. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me bring you up to speed. The latest artificial intelligence news cited that AI is that it is learning how to make you cry at the movies. Read more.) But back to Rachel Joyce's storytelling. 

Rachel Joyce is already a bestselling author, well known for books like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. Her latest entry "The Music Shop", Joyce attempts to bring music into our hearts, as she takes us on a delightful interlude that will enrich our minds about our favourite musical masters, from Bach's Double Violin Concerto to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Did you know, for example, that even though it's common knowledge that while Haydn and Mozart were the maestros who really cracked the sonata, it was Beethoven who reinvented it? Just as he reinve…