Books I’ve checked off the Reading Lists

20170701_210816Hello there!

It has been too long since I made a post. Here is my way of apologizing by giving you a quick update of some books that I have read and enjoyed. To refresh your memories I am trying to complete at least two reading challenge lists (1 – Smiths On the Coast‘s Walking Reading Challenge: Young Adult/Adult Edition, 2- Modern Ms. Darcy‘s 2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Fun).

From the Smiths On the Coast Reading Challenge

Read a book with a kid: Mortimer by Robert Munsch

I had to read this book numerous times with the kids in the classroom. It was a fun read when they were able to recite the predictable moments in the story. Be aware that storytelling can get loud when reading this book.

A nonfiction book: Just Paint it! by Sam Piyasena

I really like this book. It is full of art techniques and information about artists who used/ developed the techniques. This book inspired me to go buy new paint supplies and try my hand at watercolour painting.

From Modern Ms. Darcy Reading Challenge

A book on the backlist of a new author: The Best We Could Do  by Thi Bui

This is an intense and emotional read. The author presents her family’s history of living and fleeing war – torn Vietnam through a graphic novel. Fantastic debut!

A juicy memoir: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I was super excited to read this book. I absolutely enjoyed reading Noah’s life story of growing up in apartheid South Africa. It was hilarious, reflective, informative, and provoking. One of my best reads in a long time. I would recommend others read it for sure.

A book recommended by someone with great taste: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book was constantly being brought up every where I went (e.g. during the pastor’s sermon at church, during a work meeting, while I was watching t.v.). I told myself I needed to read this book. Eventually, I asked my god sister if she owned a copy of the book and if I could borrow it. She gifted me with it as she found it such a beneficial read (thanks again!!). After reading the book, I have a better understanding of how I receive love and I have a clearer understanding of love languages of others in my life.

That’s all I’m sharing for now.  HAPPY READING!

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My Reading Challenge 2017

img_4393Last year was the first time I attempted a reading challenge and unfortunately I was not able to complete it. So, after reading a few blogs on the topic of about tackling reading challenges (mainly modernmrsdarcy.com who is an awesome blogger) I discovered that my problem was that I did not commit to a plan. To resolve this, I did research about the books I want to read and wrote them down ahead of time. So, this year my goal is to complete 3 reading list goals.

Here is the first of my reading challenges I am going to accomplish (yes, accomplish…I’m going in with that much confidence) in 2017:

This is the READING FOR FUN challenge by Anne (the blogger on modernmrsdarcy.com)

  1. A book you chose for the cover : Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
  2. A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  3. A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit: The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
  4. A book you’ve already read: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
  5. A juicy memoir: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  6. A book about books or reading: –
  7. A book in a genre you usually avoid: The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
  8. A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read: –
  9. A book in the backlist of a new favourite author: The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  10. A book recommended by someone with great taste: A Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami
  11. A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: Winter by Marissa Meyer
  12. A book about a topic or subject you already love: Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

Happy reading to all of you!

When Fiction Meets Real Life

small-great-things-hc-400wIn the early part of December I picked up a book entitled Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I have read a number of books by Picoult and I admire her writing, yet the plot line of this book caught my attention.

The story is about Ruth, an African American nurse who happens to be in care of a white supremacist couple’s newborn baby. The couple insist to the hospital management that they do not want any African American medical personnel to touch/care for their baby. The next day, Ruth finds herself alone with the baby when he goes into cardiac arrest. At first, Ruth does nothing as she is in a quandary; does she obey the instructions of family and hospital or does she touch the baby to save him?

She is snapped into action when she is told to begin CPR. In the end, the baby dies and the in true Picoult fashion we enter a court room to fully analyze and explore this story.

For some people, it is hard for them to accept white authors writing about racial issues from another ethnicity’s point of view, but Picoult manages to be respectful, true, and thoughtful. I think this book succeeds with the alternating POVs of the different characters; it helped to underline Picoult’s authenticity as an individual to tell this story. Picoult will never truly know what it means to be a black woman, yet the character of Kennedy (Ruth’s lawyer who is white and female) allowed her to be able to ask questions and explore the topic of racial injustice.

There is a scene in the novel between Ruth’s teenage son, Edison and Kennedy’s preschool daughter which impacted me:

“Edison?” Violet asks. “Is that a chain?”

… “Yeah, I guess so.”

“So that means you’re a slave.” She states matter-of-factly.

This exchange made me pause because only days before reading this passage a four year old I work with said to me these words:

“Why are you black? You need to change your skin so you can be white. That would be better.”

I wasn’t offended by this child’s words, after all he is only four. I was saddened and sighed because I knew this notion was learned, I knew that he was seeing skin colour in an order of hierarchy.

Ruth in the book had to give Violet a simple and clear explanation as to why black people in the past wore chains and how ownership led to slavery. I gave my student a simple explanation as to why my skin was darker than his.

“Some people have black skin, brown skin, or white skin. Everyone is different and that is okay, no one has to change.”

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From the book I got that it is the small exchanges and the small acts that make a difference in people’s lives. It might not happen in that moment or even in a year’s time. The point is you made an effort, you planted a seed. All seeds need time to grow.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Uppercase YA Greeting Card Exchange

Hey there,

This post isn’t about books, but rather about a bookish opportunity I am taking part in. The book box company Uppercase offered to host a greeting card exchange for those who like YA novels. #YACardSwap 

I thought this might be a fun thing to do as I really like making cards, sending cards and receiving cards. I’m excited to see what my exchange partner will send in the next few days and for her book recommendations for me.

Check out the letter I’m sending. Bon voyage!

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P.S.  -> An update on my reading challenge is coming soon.

Happy reading!

 

Cooking with Books

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Today I want to share with you a new cook book that I am using in the kitchen. It is Deliciously Ella Every Day (Quick and Easy Recipes for Gluten-Free Snacks, Packed Lunches and Simple Meals) by Ella Woodward.

I can’t seem to remember where I was introduced to the book, but I like having it in my book collection. Eating a more plant-based diet is something that I strive to do in my life (note the italics). When I discovered this book I thought it would be helpful in giving me ideas for meal preparations.  I must say  the book has aided me in this endeavor. Yet as it is with  life there needs to be a balance with the good and the bad. Here are my likes and dislikes about this cook book:

Cons:

  • Some of the ingredients are tricky to find (e.g. vanilla powder, tamari)
  • Some of the ingredients are pricey (e.g. pine nuts $$$$, almond butter $$$$)
  • I found that some of the recipes were bland, so the second time I made the recipe I would put in some additions (e.g. the banana breakfast bars needed coconut flakes, cranberries and sunflowers seeds… without these add-ins it was dull)
  • You will need a powerful blender to smooth out certain ingredients (I tried the cashew butter with the food processor… I thought I was going to burn out the motor!)

Pros:

  • Great pictures of foods which accompanied the recipes
  • I liked reading about how the author used natural foods to heal her body
  • The instructions are easy to follow
  • The book is a good size to have in the kitchen (I hate those heavy cook books)
  • Introduces you to new ingredients (e.g. vanilla powder, raw cacao powder)
  • Woodward provides substitution ideas for those hard to find ingredients (e.g. soy sauce for tamari or almond butter for tahini)
  • I appreciate that Woodward doesn’t try to force her lifestyle on you
  • Encouraged me to experiment making my own healthy recipes (e.g. overnight oatmeal, 1:1:1:1 tomato sauce… one day I will share my recipes)

Moving from the good and the bad, I’ve made a number of recipes from this book, here are a few examples of what I made:

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Maple Chia Pots

I added  molasses and coconut flakes to this breakfast meal. It was easy to make as the chia seeds get soaked over night and in the morning you top it off with fruit.

 

 

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Carrot, Beet and Sesame Salad

Super easy to make and in no time it is ready to eat. I threw in a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar.

 

 

 

DSC01623 Almond Butter Quinoa

My least favourite meal. There was too much lemon for me in this recipe. I did add some dried cranberries.

 

 

 

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Black Bean Hummus

 A creamy and spicy snack. Love it!

 

 

 

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Pad Thai

Woodward was right when she wrote that readers would like this recipe, I am a huge fan of this meal. I made this for the plane ride when I was travelling to Mexico (yes, I whipped out my Tupperware with no shame!) and I was grateful for this delicious brown rice salad. It is packed with layered flavours and bright colours.

 

Happy reading and eating!

 

 

Ongoing 2016 Reading Challenge

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Hello,

This year I decided to take on the 2016 POPSUGAR reading challenge. I have never done one of these before and I think I’m making pretty good headway. I needed to make some slight adjustments to the list for various reasons (one being that I live outside of the U.S.A.). Here is my progress so far:

A book based on a fairy tale – The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Susan Ocker

A book set in your home state province – The Journal by Lois Donovan

A book set in Europe – The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

A book that’s under 150 pages –  The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Children’s Book)

A book that’s becoming a movie this year – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

A book you can finish in a day – Ms. Marvel. Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson (Comic book)

A science – fiction  fantasy novel – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A graphic novel – French Milk by Lucy Knisley

A book published in 2016 – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

A book of poetry – All the Words are Yours by Tyler Knott Gregson

A book from the library – Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

A book about a road trip – Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

A book with a blue cover – The Gospel Truth by Caroline Pignat

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – Counted with the Stars by Connnilyn Cossette

At the end of the year I will share my top five books. Cheer me on as I tackle this reading challenge.

Again check out the full POPSUGAR reading challenge list here:

http://media1.popsugar-assets.com/files/docs/reading%20challenge%202016.pdf

Happy reading!!

The Hope of Freedom

truthFebruary as many know (or perhaps many still do not know) is Black History Month. I believe that black history is all our history and should be acknowledged as much as possible throughout the year. 

With that being said, here is one of the latest books I have read and want to share with you. The Gospel Truth  is a historical fiction YA novel written by Canadian author Caroline Pignat. I took my time reading this book as it was written in free verse; I wanted to savour the words. Considering the author is a Caucasian woman from Canada, I thought she was able to deliver an authentic voice of the teenage African American slave, Phoebe, who lived the deep South. Pignat did her research and from it she create a stunning piece of work. Pignat challenged herself by writing from not only a single character’s POV, but from multiple characters (5 in total). Every character she used each had a distinct voice which added layers and dimension to the story.  While the plot of book may be slightly predictable, the reading of the book was thoughtful and vivid for me.

Great book and great effort by a Canadian author! I want to thank Pignat for being an example of someone who understands the fact that the stories of history belong to all of us and need to shared with everyone.

I also want to applaud the artist for the striking book cover. The artist was able to portray the character with exact detail as provided by Pignat.