• Book Review: “Jennifer’s Way” by Jennifer Esposito

    Jun 8 • Blog, Book Reviews • 16590 Views

    jenespSynopsis from Goodreads:

    The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that as many as one in 133 Americans has celiac disease. Unfortunately, 83 percent of people who have this terrible disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed—suffering through years of pain and misunderstanding. Award-winning actress Jennifer Esposito was one of those 83 percent, receiving an accurate diagnosis only after decades of mysterious illnesses and myriad misdiagnoses.

    Now Jennifer shares her riveting personal journey—from her earliest memories of her childhood in Brooklyn to her years as a young actress, all the while suffering from unexplained, devastating ailments. Jennifer’s struggle to finally receive an accurate diagnosis is one that anyone who has a chronic disease will share. But this is more than a story of suffering. It is the story of one woman’s valiant journey to take charge of her health and rebuild her life. 

    Not only will you learn from Jennifer’s personal story, the book also guides you through early diagnosis, sharing the steps that helped Jennifer heal. Plus, you’ll find recipes she uses at home, along with recipes for some of the delicious treats she offers at her own gluten-free bakery, Jennifer’s Way, in New York.

    For anyone struggling with a chronic illness, Jennifer’s Way is proof that you can find an answer to what is wrong with you, that you shouldn’t stop until you find it, and that you can learn how to truly live again.

    My Thoughts:

    I don’t have Celiac disease, but I know the look that Jennifer Esposito describes: that look you get from friends, from family, or from medical professionals when you describe symptoms that can’t be seen to the naked eye, or when you describe symptoms that seem to make no sense together. When you see that look on another person’s face, you can practically hear the word, “hypochrondriac” going through their mind.

    It made reading this book even more painful to realize that she had been going through this for YEARS, getting sicker and sicker, and yet being told it was all in her head, and plied with even more drugs for depression and anxiety. (By the way, did you know that depression and anxiety can be symptoms of Celiac? I sure didn’t.)

    And to know that finally receiving a diagnosis wasn’t the magic bullet I thought it would be? That she thought it would be? I honestly had no idea how devastating this disease could be. I had no idea just HOW dangerous gluten can be to Celiacs: as Jennifer says repeatedly through the book, even 1/8 teaspoon of gluten can be enough to make someone with Celiac extremely ill. Eating something cut with a knife that touched food with gluten, or even using beauty products with gluten in them, can result in weeks of illness. It reminds me of anaphylactic peanut allergies. Even pet food must be gluten free. It makes my head spin just to think about it.

    As a fan of the CBS show Blue Bloods, I was dismayed at the time of Esposito’s departure from the show when it was revealed that the network had refused to work with her to keep her on the show in a way that could keep her healthy. To learn now from the book that they wouldn’t even provide someone to make food that would be safe for her to eat? That’s unconscionable, in my opinion. Of course, there are always three sides to every story, as my mom always says (yours, mine, and the truth), but CBS really doesn’t come across in a very positive light, that’s for certain.

    If you’re dealing with Celiac, or possible Celiac, I really recommend this book very highly. But even if you’ve never had a health issue in your life, it’s still a valuable read. One thing I’ve had drilled into my mind due to events in my own life over the past month (which I’ll post about another time) is that you can never feel another person’s pain, and just because you can’t see the effects of an illness, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You’ve got to – pardon the pun – go with your gut when it comes to your health, and as individuals we need to spend a whole lot less time judging everyone’s else’s health.

    In addition to Jennifer’s own story, the second part of the book contains valuable information about Celiac, and a section of Jennifer’s own safe recipes.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

    PS – If this is your first visit here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.


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  • The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

    May 28 • Blog • 13097 Views

    The Festival Theatre, one of 3 production houses in Stratford. Photo Credit: Richard Bain. Courtesy of Stratford Festival.

    The Festival Theatre, one of 3 production houses in Stratford. Photo Credit: Richard Bain. Courtesy of Stratford Festival.

    Bobby Child (Josh Franklin) and Polly Baker (Natalie Daradich). Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann. Courtesy of Stratford Festival.

    From the time I was ever so young, I wanted to be an actress. I don’t know if this is common among writers, but there was something about disappearing inside of a character – whether through writing or on stage – that I just loved. I wrote plays from the time I was seven years old, with the idea of giving myself the starring role!

    When I was about 16, I fell in love with the Stratford Festival. For those who may not have heard of it, the Festival takes place in the little town of Stratford, Ontario (if you’re outside of Ontario, but have a “Belieber” in your house, ask them where it is) and is now a world-renowned producer of not only Shakespearean plays, but other classical theatre, along with contemporary plays and musicals. From my first visit, I fell in love with the town, and with the way that theatre permeates almost every aspect of life there. I love that many actors have performed there for so many seasons that they’ve chosen Stratford as their permanent home base.

    One of the phenomenal dance sequences. Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann. Courtesy Stratford Festival.

    But the plays… oh, the plays… By the time I graduated high school, I had announced to my mother – and just about anyone else who would listen – that someday I wanted to be the first female Artistic Director at Stratford. (At the time, I didn’t know about the “Group of Four” that had functioned as AD for one season, which included my idol, actress and director Martha Henry… but that’s another story.) I dreamed of being on stage, of getting to direct there… I wanted to wrap myself up in the town and just live theatre for the rest of my life.

    But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” My acting and directing dreams got pushed to the side, and flash forward many years, to the day last weekend when I first got to take my own daughters to Stratford.

    We’ve had a rough time lately, and this day away was sorely needed. I couldn’t be happier that we went. My mom and I had seen the production of Crazy for You in Toronto back in the 90s, and I have to admit, I wasn’t really a fan. I love Gershwin music in a totally unhealthy way, but the show was just cheesy, and kind of boring. But given that my daughters are 13 and 8, I thought out of the shows available, this was the best way to introduce them to the Festival.

    This is NOT the 90s Crazy for You. It may start off a little slowly, but once it gets going… WOW! The energy, the singing, and oh… the dancing… it was phenomenal – unlike anything I’ve seen before. How those actors don’t collapse halfway through the first act is beyond me. There were long, intricate dance sequences where, as an audience member, you just had to sit with your mouth hanging open in awe. I pointed out to my daughters that at the end of the first long dance sequence you could see the sweat dripping off some of the chorus members. And yet they still kept smiling and singing! The fact that director Donna Feore is also choreographer is evident through the entire production. Dance sequences are impeccable, but even non-dance movement sequences are perfect. At the top of Act 2, there is a long physical comedy sequence that had the audience in hysterics, which wouldn’t have been pulled off if not for the absolute perfection of every movement by the actors playing Bobby Child (Josh Franklin) and Bela Zangler (Tom Rooney.)

    Crazy for You. Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann. Courtesy of Stratford Festival.

    The vocals are fantastic as well, and Natalie Daradich, playing Polly Baker, is a tiny little powerhouse who reminded me a lot of Judy Garland. It doesn’t seem unrealistic at all to see her bossing around rough and rowdy cowboys and big city folk alike. I honestly can’t recommend this production of Crazy for You highly enough. My daughters were enthralled, but so was I, so was my mother, and I honestly think everyone else in the audience was, too.

    I really hope that I can get back to Stratford again this season to check out some of the other shows. It’s been far too long since I’ve been there. This time, I was only able to stay long enough to see the show and have a quick dinner, but if you have the opportunity to go, take my advice and stay for a day or two, to really get the full Stratford experience. You’ll fall in love with it, too.

    PS – As we sat on a bench outside The Theatre Store after the show, I talked to my 13-year-old about my long ago dreams of a life at Stratford. She said I should still get a job there so that she can see backstage LOL. She’s already fallen in love, too. My work is done!

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  • Book Review: “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls” by Katherine Larsen & Lynn Zubernis

    May 5 • Blog, Book Reviews • 16182 Views

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    Once upon a time not long ago, two responsible college professors, Lynn the psychologist and Kathy the literary scholar, fell in love with the television show Supernatural and turned their oh-so-practical lives upside down. Plunging headlong into the hidden realms of fandom, they scoured the Internet for pictures of stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and secretly penned racy fan fiction. And then they hit the road—crisscrossing the country, racking up frequent flyer miles with alarming ease, standing in convention lines at 4 A.M.

    They had white-knuckled encounters with overly zealous security guards one year and smiling invitations to the Supernatural set the next. Actors stripping in their trailers, fangirls sneaking onto film sets; drunken confessions, squeals of joy, tears of despair; wallets emptied and responsibilities left behind; intrigue and ecstasy and crushing disappointment—it’s all here.

    And yet even as they reveled in their fandom, the authors were asking themselves whether it’s okay to be a fan, especially for grown women with careers and kids. “Crazystalkerchicks”—that’s what they heard from Supernatural crew members, security guards, airport immigration officials, even sometimes their fellow fans. But what Kathy and Lynn found was that most fans were very much like themselves: smart, capable women looking for something of their own that engages their brains and their libidos.

    Fangasm pulls back the curtain on the secret worlds of fans and famous alike, revealing Supernatural behind the scenes and discovering just how much the cast and crew know about what the fans are up to. Anyone who’s been tempted to throw off the constraints of respectability and indulge a secret passion—or hit the road with a best friend—will want to come along.

    My Thoughts:

    About two years or so ago, my friend, author Jessica Jewett, started watching Supernatural. She got just a wee bit obsessed, and wanted all of her friends to watch it and obsess over it, too. Funny thing was, my husband has watched it for years, but I never got into it. Finally, I started binge watching it last fall, and watched all nine seasons (up to the end of the fall part of the current season) in about a three month period. So I was immediately intrigued by this book.

    I had a fairly intense reaction to the basic premise of the book: that women who engage in a fandom – whether it’s a TV show, or oh, I don’t know… a boy band – are made to feel ashamed, like they’re wasting their time and money, and being frivolous. They are made to feel like to be a fan means being a “crazystalkerchick.” At the same time, men who AREN’T a fan of some sports team or another are made to feel less of a man. Intriguing concept.

    So I couldn’t exactly help but relate their theory to Idol Hands, and the Blockhead world that I’ve become immersed in over the past six years or so, and it was fascinating, and horrifying, and at times it made me smile in recognition.

    On a technical note, there was one issue I had with the way the book was written: because it was co-written in the first person, at times the authors would talk about how “we” thought something, or “we” had done something, but then they would refer to themselves singularly by their first names, as if it was in the third person. I’m not really sure how it could have been avoided, but it really did drive me nuts.

    But overall, as a Supernatural fan, and as someone who knows what it’s like to be a “fangirl”, I really enjoyed the book, and now that I know their academic version is out there, I’m going to have to look for it.

    Whether you’re into “Wincest” or “J2” or “Destiel” (*cough* Jessica *cough*), or like me, just really enjoy the show, I highly recommend “Fangasm.”

    Rating: 4/5

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo

    PS – If this is your first visit here, and you’re a self-professed fangirl, you might want to check out my book, Idol Hands.

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  • Book Review: “Pioneer Girl” by Bich Minh Nguyen

    Apr 2 • Blog, Book Reviews • 3354 Views

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    From an award-winning author, a novel about a Vietnamese American family’s ties to The Little House on the Prairie

    Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she’s evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an
    object from their mother’s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers’ lives as well as her own.

    A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic,Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.

    My Thoughts:

    I read this book in less than twelve hours; I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened! Partly it was because I was stuck in a hospital waiting room with no WiFi or cell service, but it was also that Pioneer Girl grabbed me in a way that I didn’t expect. From the descriptions of life as an American-born daughter of Vietnamese refugees, to the literary – and as far as I am aware, completely fictional – mystery that Lee discovers, I was drawn into the world of this book.

    Lee’s relationship with her family is complicated. There is no other way to say it. Her mother criticizes her every move, and favours her spoiled, angry older brother, while her grandfather just wants to keep the peace between everyone.

    Of course, every book has its issues: there were time when descriptions went on so long (I’m thinking in particular of a section detailing the life of workers in a Chinese buffet restaurant) that they were practically stand alone essays. I know there were reviewers who took issue with there being a lot of “show, don’t tell” in the book, but that’s never been a rule I really understood. If it is told in an engaging manner, what difference should it make? I was also a little disappointed with the somewhat obvious choice in a part near the end… but I can’t say more than that without spoiling things.

    I liked that the book didn’t have a neat, tidy ending. The story was fairly well wrapped up, but at the same time, not everything was SO well wrapped up that felt unreal.

    Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with an interesting journey, even if they don’t know anything about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, or the Little House books.

    Rating: 4.5/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Kobo

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    PS – If this is your first visit here, please consider checking out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • Book Review: “Pigs Can’t Swim” by Helen Peppe

    Mar 29 • Blog, Book Reviews • 3014 Views

    pigs cant swimSynopsis from Goodreads:

    An outrageous, hilarious, and touching memoir by the youngest of nine children in a hardscrabble, beyond-eccentric Maine family.

    With everything happening on Helen Peppe’s backwoods Maine farm, life was wild–and not just for the animals. Sibling rivalry, rock-bottom poverty, feral male chauvinism, sex in the hayloft: everything seemed–and was–out of control. In telling her wayward family tale, Peppe manages deadpan humor, an unerring eye for the absurd, and poignant compassion for her utterly overwhelmed parents. While her feisty resilience and candor will inevitably remind readers of Jeannette Walls or Mary Karr, Peppe’s wry insight and moments of tenderness with family and animals are entirely her own. As Richard Hoffman, the author of Half the House: A Memoir puts it: “Pigs Can’t Swim is an unruly, joyous troublemaker of a book.”

    My Thoughts:

    Pigs Can’t Swim is almost overwhelmingly bleak, and I didn’t see much of the humour claimed in the synopsis. I do have to commend the author on her honesty, as it must have been painful to write some of these stories – one section sticks out in my mind as being incredibly difficult to read, so I can’t even imagine how it would feel to write it – but it wasn’t until near the end of the book that I found any hope in it at all.

    Through most of the book, I wanted to sweep girl-Helen out of the pages and wrap her in a warm blanket. I’m not really sure what book the reviewer who called it “joyous” was reading, because it definitely wasn’t the one that I did.

    My other big issue was referring to her siblings as “my hair-twirling pretty sister” or “my holier-than-thou brother” instead of using names. While I realize that this could have been to try and mitigate any hard feelings (although I’m not sure I’d like to be referred to as “my sister who holds grudges longer than God”) for some reason it made them feel very two-dimensional. Maybe that’s how Peppe saw them, though?

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that there isn’t value in the book, just don’t go into it expected a lighthearted tale with a scrappy young heroine, or you’ll be disappointed.

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    PS – If this is your first visit here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • Let the Storm Rage On!

    Mar 22 • Blog • 3488 Views

    Let It GoYes, I am the last person in North America to see Frozen. I bought it for my kids the other day, and tonight I’m finally getting a chance to watch it. But of course, I’ve already heard “Let It Go.” From the infamous “Adele Dazeem” gaffe by John Travolta at the Oscars

    to the innumerable cover versions on YouTube, you would have to be living under a proverbial rock to have completely avoided it.

    As I watched the movie, though, and saw the scene where Elsa (Idina Menzel) sings the song, I started to tear up. Then I started to think about people’s reaction to the song: everyone seems to relate to it. It’s a song about feeling different, about feeling like you have to hide who you really are, and then finally letting that go, and being who you really are:

    Don’t let them in,
    Don’t let them see.
    Be the good girl you always have to be.
    Conceal, don’t feel,
    don’t let them know.
    Well now they know.

    It’s funny how some distance
    Makes everything seem so small
    And the fears that once controlled me
    Can’t get to me at all.

    It says something about us all, doesn’t it? If this many people are thinking that the song speaks to them, and their feelings, then we really all do feel different. We all feel like “the freak” that doesn’t fit in. So who are these “normal” people if we all feel like we’re the weird ones?

    So here’s what we need to remember:

    What makes us different, makes us special. There is no “normal.” We all have things that we don’t like about ourselves, that probably don’t bother anyone else nearly as much as they bother us. And the truth is, if someone treats you as “less than”, they aren’t worth your time anyway.

    Let it go: be the amazing person that you were born to be. Just think how incredible the world could be if we all were able to share who we really were.

    The cold never bothered me anyway!

    PS – If this is your first visit here, you can check out my books here.


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  • Calling All Readers! Want a Sneak Peek?

    Mar 19 • Blog • 4371 Views

    So, I haven’t entirely dropped off the face of the earth and become solely a book reviewer – not that there’s anything wrong with that! 😉 I’ve been hard at work in my (ha!) “spare” time on a new book, and now I’m almost to the point where it’s time to let a few people in to have a look.

    What I’m looking for are “beta readers.” If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s not editing, it’s just reading with a ms piccritical eye. I depend on my beta readers to tell me that certain parts aren’t working, or certain characters aren’t believable, or that I’ve made some giant, glaring error. I usually send a few questions along with a .pdf file of the manuscript, and ask that the readers also give their general comments.

    As usual, I’m not so good at sticking to a particular genre, so I’m describing this as a New Adult romance with a slightly paranormal/spiritual bent. No vampires or werewolves, though. It’s about how we deal with tragedy, and the aftermath; it’s about fate vs free will; and it’s about love, and letting go. And that’s all I’m going to tell you!

    I don’t normally look for beta readers this way, but I’ve decided that I have such fantastic readers in general, that I’d like to open up my search a bit more, so that perhaps someone may come along that I would never have thought to ask. If you’re interested, please contact me using the contact form below, and tell me a little bit about yourself.

    Please note that I will only select between 3-5 people, and I’m looking for a good cross-section of readers, so please don’t be offended if you don’t hear back from me! Also, I intend to send the manuscript out by the end of the month at the latest (hopefully sooner), so if you won’t have time in the next few weeks, you can always catch me next time.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    PS – I thank everyone for their interest – it’s been wonderful! I have sent the manuscript off now, so we’ll see what happens!


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  • Book Review: “Red Collar” by Clarissa Cartharn

    Mar 15 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2651 Views

    Pretty Woman this ain’t…

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    Kate Ripley is struggling to provide for her four siblings and her ill-mother. So when she loses her job to an unpredictable redundancy, she resorts to the unthinkable. She accepts the offer of secretary-cum-mistress to billionaire Clayton Reid. But can she survive this new role without sacrificing her dignity… and falling in love. 

    Tired of secretaries taking advantage of their proximity to win his heart, wealthy bachelor Clayton devises the ultimate solution- hire the secretary who can also perform dual duties as mistress. And Clayton thinks he’s found the perfect woman in escort Kate Ripley. Until he discovers the one flaw in his perfect plan- he can never let her go. Can he afford to fight against his principles and risk all he’s worked for to keep her?

    My Thoughts:

    I have spent the last week or so trying to decide whether to review this book, or even whether I would finish it. My reading time is extremely limited now, and I don’t like feeling like I’m wasting my time. At the same time, I don’t like to publish reviews of books if I can’t find a positive spin for them.

    And I can’t.

    Perhaps it’s my own fault for agreeing to read it: I should probably have done more checking before saying “yes.” I have a very hard time believing the reviews posted on Goodreads, for various reasons. The author says in her bio that she majored in English Language and Literature, and yet in that same bio, there are some glaring errors. The book is no different. I almost wondered if perhaps English was a second language at times, because certain phrases were so awkward.

    As far as the plot goes, it seems to me a combination of the movie Pretty Woman, that Sandra Bullock – Ryan Reynolds rom com where she’s the boss who needs to marry her assistant in order to stay in the US, and Fifty Shades of Grey – although admittedly that’s a guess, since I’ve only read one page of those books, from over someone’s shoulder (and even that was too much for me.)

    Maybe I’m being too hard on the book: after all, romance novels aren’t meant to be believable. But I at least like the main relationship to feel somewhat plausible, no matter what the circumstances are, and this one just wasn’t.

    And don’t even get me started on the ending: I have NO idea what the heck was going on. It was just… weird.

    I probably should have stopped reading as soon as I started having doubts.

    Rating: 1/5 stars

    I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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  • Justin Bieber: We’re All to Blame

    Mar 10 • Blog • 20991 Views

    I’ve spent a lot of time defending Justin Bieber over the past few years. Not because I particularly like his music, and not even because my kids are fans (they aren’t): I defended him because he was a kid, and all kids make mistakes. It’s just that most of them don’t have to make their mistakes with the world watching. The mother in me wanted to protect him. Bieber-a-few-years-back-JPG

    Then this morning, a Toronto radio station played some clips of his deposition in the lawsuit filed against him after his security allegedly beat up a photographer in Florida. The clips are available on TMZ, if you really want to hear them.

    When I heard the clips, I was angry: he was mouthy, belligerent, and just plain bratty. I was driving along, steam coming out of my ears as my train of thought continued. I thought of the videos I’ve seen of him before fame hit, busking on the steps of Stratford’s Avon Theatre. I thought of a segment on “Ellen” several years ago where he went to an elementary school in one of the poorest sections of LA to bring a massive donation of school supplies. No doubt the supplies were sponsored, but what struck me was that he could have gone in, done his good deed and left, but he didn’t: he stayed there with those kids, listened to them, and told them his story. He was visibly moved by that visit.

    I thought about a fourteen-year-old kid who put videos of himself singing on YouTube: a kid like a lot of kids, who just wanted to perform, and then I really got angry.

    All I could think about was how this child was exploited. The entertainment industry takes people, chews them up and spits them out on a regular basis. It’s a horrible thing for even adults to deal with, but we let them do this to children, and then have the gall to insult those same children when they break down from the pressure.

    In those clips that I heard, on top of sounding arrogant, it was fairly clear to me that he was on… something, and a scenario emerged in my mind. A kid, full of energy, explodes into the stratosphere of teen idoldom. This kid, trying to please everyone exhausts himself. Except that now he’s not just a person, he’s an industry: dozens of people’s livelihoods depend on this kid performing concerts, appearing on radio and TV shows and events, being everywhere, and being everything to everyone. His parents, who should be protecting him, are now on his payroll. Are you able to tell your boss to go to his room?

    The kid is tired, needs a break, but that can’t happen, because people will lose money. So someone says to him, “Here, just take this to get through this next concert, and then you can have a break.” But there’s always a “just this next” and so the kid keeps taking whatever it is, until he needs something else. Meanwhile, the kid is still being told that they’re the greatest entertainer ever, because as long as the kid believes that, they’re more willing to keep going, so as not to “disappoint the fans.” Lack of judgement, from youth, and from the “something” he’s constantly being handed, makes his ego explode, and he starts acting out, because really, who’s going to stop him?

    I’m not saying that this is what happened to Justin Bieber. I have no inside knowledge of his life or career. But really, is it that far-fetched of a scenario? If it didn’t happen to him, it could have happened to Lindsay Lohan, or any other child star whose name later becomes the butt of jokes, a cautionary tale. Apparently we didn’t learn anything from the life and death of Judy Garland. justin-bieber-mug-shot

    But we don’t care. We want our pop culture, our entertainment. You can’t have a family movie without the cute kids in it! Preteen girls need the sweet face of their favourite singer to swoon over!

    At what point, though, do we say “enough is enough”? When does society as a whole decide that it’s not okay to put a kid on a “worst dressed list” or to stalk them for a picture of them kissing a new girlfriend or boyfriend? When do we say that it’s not okay for a kid to be the sole support for their entire family?

    I don’t know the answer, but I wish we’d at least start the conversation.

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  • Book Review: “What Nora Knew” by Linda Yellin

    Mar 8 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2311 Views

    Nothing beats a Nora Ephron movie!

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

    Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

    My Thoughts:

    It’s funny: when Molly meets author Cameron Duncan, you know right away that he’s going to be her Tom Hanks, but as Molly says about Sleepless in Seattle etc, “It’s the journey that keeps you watching” or in this case, reading.

    In a case of rather obvious, hopefully intentional, irony, Cameron’s books, we’re told, are full of “homages” (or rip offs, depending on your point of view) to various movies and books, which is, of course, exactly what this book is.  But watching Molly jump out of airplanes, and sneak vibrators into courthouses (really, would that even be an issue? Are there really rules about getting yourself off in courthouse bathrooms or something? Do people often try this?) is entertaining in itself. In some ways, I didn’t really even care if she did end up with Cameron or not.

    The supporting characters are all well-drawn: from Molly’s mother who decided once her children were all grown that she was no longer going to cook meals, to her neighbour across the hall who’s a self-proclaimed “social media expert” (never heard of those before… where’s that darned sarcasm font when you need it???) to her boss whom I kept picturing as a cross between Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and some kind of accident-prone sitcom boss (I’ve honestly been trying to put a name to this image for several hours now… I give up!)

    Overall, it’s a good read, and I do recommend it, but there’s something… more… that I wanted. The ending, for one thing, was completely rushed, although that may have been an “homage” to Ephron, where suddenly everything clicks into place, and the magic happens. But while the ending of Sleepless is romantic, this ending seemed somewhat anti-climactic.

    Still, I think most fans of Nora Ephron will appreciate What Nora Knew.

    Rating: 3.5/5 stars

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    PS – if this is your first visit here, please check out my novels, Idol Hands and What Lies Behind.

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