Inedible ‘Cake’

Movie Reviews

I love Jennifer Aniston as much as the next person. I loved her as flighty Rachel Green, and I loved her in the ‘Picture Perfect/Object of My Affection/Office Space’ trifecta. I adored ‘The Good Girl’ and even ‘Derailed’. But I did not like ‘Cake.’ In fact, I would go on as far to say that I hated ‘Cake’…and I can personally guarantee you that you will never hear those words leave my mouth again.

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A Heroic Voice: A Review of Dana L. Goodman’s ‘In the Cleft Joy Comes in the Mourning’

Book Reviews

The great power of story telling is comprised of a symphony of words and of sentences, of tone and of finesse, of emotion and of truth. Sometimes the stories that we tell are inspired by true-life events, and at other times, mere representations of overactive imaginations. In the case of Dana L. Goodman’s riveting ‘In the Cleft Joy Comes in the Mourning’, the story is not only a true one, but it’s also one that takes a journey of one woman and transforms it into a lesson in compassion and personal triumph.

‘In The Cleft…’ is a harrowing memoir that chronicles the author’s own personal journey in reclaiming life after the loss of her husband, young son, and mother-in-law to cancer. Goodman takes the reader and tells them point blank about the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that one must attempt to overcome when the dreaded C-word enters their life and refuses to leave.

Highlighting the daily struggles of caring for a sick child so soon after having lost a husband to the dreadful disease, Goodman is careful not to become a victimized narrator. She details plainly the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany her situations, inspiring the reader to reflect on the human condition and strength that rears itself in times of such turmoil.

I recently lost my sister to cancer, and because of my recent loss, I was affected greatly by Goodman’s story. She reminded me that the wounds that lay deep in my heart will heal through faith and propensity to love. I found in The Cleft to be not only a veritable joy to read, but therapeutic and kind. It’s pacing and tone pulls the reader in from the very first word, and by the book’s end, the reader truly feels like they know Goodman personally. This is a story that inspires and beats with the thousands of hearts of those who lost their fight with the awful disease, and I feel like a stronger person for having read it.

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‘Quest’ Fest: A Review of Colin Mitchell’s ‘Matthew Willard and the Quest to Kiss a Girl’

Book Reviews

Life is full of quests. The quest for acceptance, the quest for inclusion, the quest for success. These searches all seem obvious. But what Colin Mitchell does so intriguingly in his novel ‘Matthew Willard and the Quest to Kiss a Girl’ is that he goes a bit more molecular about life’s quests, deciding to start in middle school where it all begins, and sharing his goals about liking the prettiest girl in class. The charm and whimsy literally oozes off the pages with references that are sure to appeal to all readers.

The 90’s pop-culture infused dialogue amongst the books titular protagonist and his group of friends proves to be most hilarious and realistic, and at times, slightly suggestive. However, as someone who remembers the 90’s very well, I felt as though I was reading the memoir of Brandon Walsh right out of 90210. Matthew is relatable and dorky, smart and naïve. He’s the veritable teen idol of the era that saw Dawson’s Creek take hold of the world with dialogue-laden interactions. Moving from middle school to the more dangerous battleground of high school, Mitchell successfully manages to have Matthew engage in the many often times uncomfortable situations that are inherent to all teenagers.

Of particular resonance to me is early on in the book. Chapter 3: Your Best Friend, highlights what goes on when boys have a sleepover. In most books I’ve read and TV shows and movies I’ve seen, sleepovers are always held from the point of view of the girls. From Grease to The Babysitter’s Club, it’s the gaggle of girl giggles that permeate any scene of a sleepover. I found it very refreshing to read about a sleepover with boys and the types of chats they have and its associated dynamics. Maybe Willard can write a male-centric Babysitter’s Club? Just a recommendation.

Mitchell has an uncanny ability to completely thrust the reader into the trials and tribulations of the novel’s lead character through clever word choices and finely detailed dioramas of dialogue. Matthew Willard is a movie wafting to happen, and I’ll be the first in line to see it.

Matthew Willard

Only 90? A Review of G. Eric Francis’ “90 Things That Irritate The Sh** Out Of Me, Or Just Make Me Frown”

Book Reviews

I can only speak for myself when I say that there are many things that cause us to become angry, annoyed or just plain frustrated. And sometimes it’s the smallest, most inconsequential event that will trigger an outward expression of said discontent, which will often times make your usual calm demeanor seem semi-homicidal.

This is why I find it extremely brave that G. Eric Francis had the guts to write an entire book based on the things that irritate the ‘you know what’ out of him. Francis’ fairly all-encompassing list of 90 things captures the spectrum of life’s little annoyances that every single one of us have encountered. In fact, while reading through the genuinely funny itemized listing of Mr. Francis’ irritants, I found myself laughing aloud more than once.

Starting with his ode to those people who are too seemingly lazy to return their shopping carts to their rightful holding spot, 90 Things quickly moves into more generalized annoyances like the mystery of the turn signal to The Walmart Pyjama Phenomenon, along the way offering witty anecdotes and sometimes caustic observations that we have all thought to ourselves while buying discount toilet paper and all those Tupperware containers we didn’t know we needed – or wanted.

The book then moves into more personal territories, such as the hilarious and nuance-filled 74. When Did We Forget to Laugh? and the racially sensitive “73 – The Difference Between Brown and Black”, both of which allow the reader to question societal expectations and what their personal role is in perpetuating any lingering stereotypes that plague the world today.

It’s a slippery slope to write a book chronicling one’s irritants, especially 90 of them, without coming across as angry, petty or smug. This is why I commend Mr. Francs for diarizing his annoyances so neatly. There’s just enough of an angry tone in 90 things that works without the entire book becoming an esoteric exercise in outrage. Maybe its just me, but perhaps we all should just question a little bit more why we are bothered by the things we are, and what we can do to change that. While it’s unlikely you can control many things in life, at least with 90 Things, Mr. Francis gives the reader some guidance on how to mitigate – or at least recognize, the universals ughs of life.

Get your copy of“90 Things That Irritate The Sh** Out Of Me, Or Just Make Me Frown” today on Amazon and Goodreads.

90 Things...

Close to ‘Perfect’ – A Review of Robin Storey’s ‘Perfect Sex’

Book Reviews

Who doesn’t love a good story where the protagonist finds out a few pivotal fundamental truths about his or herself as a result of a major catastrophe? After all, didn’t Outlander become so popular because it allowed readers to vicariously live out a life that only came to be because of a total life change? Stop reading now if you shook your head because you are clearly a liar.

Perfect Sex, written by Australian novelist Robin Storey, cleverly delves deep into the post-divorce self-discovery formula and spins it around on its literal head. In fact, she subverts it so fast and so well that at times I felt like I was reading a prequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary, minus the recent nightmarish images of Renee Zellweger’s post-surgery face.

In this case, Storey’s protagonist Susie Hamilton is a character with qualities that all of us can relate with. She’s confused at startling personal revelations, but she’s also skeptically authentic with her goals and ideals. Truth be told, Susie is not so unlike the gaggle of ladies you overhear at the bar talking about the marvels of the Internet and what happened last week on Scandal. What makes Susie so average is what makes her so interesting. The reader roots for her as she navigates the stormy waters of online dating, of choosing the right profile picture, and her quest to achieve critical and financial success with her best-selling novel that chronicles her true-life romantic liaisons. These liaisons, though familiar thanks to the media’s barrage of covering ‘dates gone wrong,’ had me giggling crazily at times.

While Storey can sometimes veer towards a slightly too-explicit narrative with details that could potentially make readers outside of the targeted demographic slightly uncomfortable (Fred, Susie’s vibrator, could be considered a supporting character), her talent as a writer shines most brightly in the moments where Susie examines her true purposes and motivations. It’s that universal thematic construct of soul-searching and the quest for happiness that makes Perfect Sex more than your average romantic comedy sex farce. By the end, you’ll realize that Susie Hamilton just wants to feel loved. After all, who doesn’t?

Perfect Sex is available for purchase at amazon.com, smashwords.com, and other fine retailers.

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Donations In Honor of my Lovely Lisa

Random Musings

Everyone.

It has been five months since the passing of my lovely sister, Lisa-Marie. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her infectious laugh and ever-honest presence.

This is exactly why I am participating in the Shoppers’ Drug Mart One Walk to Conquer Cancer on September 12, 2015 in Toronto.

Attached is a link if you care to donate, no matter how small or grand, as every contribution helps in raising awareness and to help conduct research into a cure for this unfathomably evil illness.

Thank you for my very core. And thank you from Lisa.

http://to15.onewalk.ca/site/TR?team_id=3760&pg=team&fr_id=1050&s_locale=en_CA&et=dyrG6VjeP7DRjacXO1tsZQ

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My Wandering Days are Over

Music

It seems I’m forever delayed these days. If I had to make the analogy as clear as possible to you all, it would go something like this: you know when you’re waiting for the bus and there’s that person who ALWAYS makes a mad dash to get on the bus? And they do that every single day? Well, that’s how I’m feeling. Call me always a little late for the bus.

That being said…

Riding on city buses for a hobby is sad, right?

The most lustrous and emotionally resonant band that has characterized my own personal development played down the street from me a few weeks ago. While it was the third time I have seen them shine their beauty unto their appeasing minions, this appearance hit me on a more deeper level than the others. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s because timeless music transcends context. Regardless of the reason, Belle & Sebastian’s set list seemed to have been curated for my personal enjoyment. Look what they played!

  1. (Extended Version)
  2. (Just the first few lines)
  3. Encore:

By the time song #6 finished, I was practically swooning.

I also just recently learned what a Arab Strap really was. Yikes.

Stuart Doing His ThingOn-Stage Mayhem