Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: The Massey Murder: a maid, her master, and the trial that shocked a country

The Massey Murder By Gray, CharlotteAuthor: Charlotte Gray
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada, 2013

A fascinating true crime story that reveals much about Toronto at the time (1915) - its movers and shakers, the impact of WWI on its citizens, how women and girls were treated, the emphasis on morality, the system of law, etc. I found it particularly interesting since my grandparents moved to Toronto from eastern Canada as young people in 1917 and 1924, so not very long after this event. Through the lens of the murder of "Bert" Massey by Carrie Davies, his maid, Gray makes it easy to picture what life was like then - quite a different Toronto from the one I grew up in. 

Quite an eye-opener. Whatever side of the case you come down on, you have to admit: we've come a long way, baby.

Recommended for readers of history and true crime. Four stars.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Single and Rich

Single and rich: bet that header got your attention!

And to answer your question, no, I'm not suddenly available (my husband and I celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary this week, in fact). Nor am I rich (unless you count the fact that my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills - Psalm 50:10). The individual I speak of is a musician who was introduced this way by his father at an event I recently attended.

I suspect this only happens in certain circles. I mean, I doubt it's much of an issue in secular bands. If the members are single, those who'd be interested know so, and I imagine most would make no bones about going after them. To the best of my knowledge, the groupie factor hasn't changed since I was a teenager. And, hey, who even cares if they're single or not? Go for it anyway, right? After all, don't we live in the age of 'if it feels good, do it'?

Anyway, the concert I attended showcased the music of a talented singing family, who shall remain nameless to reduce any embarrassment. When it came time to introduce the members, the senior dad described his 30-something son as "single, talented, nothing wrong with him, and..." [pause for effect] "... rich". The son in question stood there with a pained look on his face as his father promoted him to all the single ladies in the audience. While he's probably used to his father's behaviour, I don't imagine it ever gets easy being paraded like a piece of meat on stage and touted for all your admirable qualities. And if they're not enough to entice, ladies, well, just think about it - he's rich! He could introduce you to a lifestyle you'd enjoy and get used to! Wow. This goes way over the top. 

I was just glad my daughter wasn't there. Not that she'd have been drawn to the guy - he was too old for her to begin with - but she's fiercely against the pressure that gets put on single people to view marriage as the high ideal, the only and best way. As if there's something wrong with being untethered. The whole thing would have set her blood to boiling. And was it really necessary to make such a public declaration? It's not like the group's unknown; it's not like they don't already have lots of connections and plenty of possibilities, if the guy is actually interested in pursuing a relationship. No one in their current circle suits? Perhaps the gentleman - or his father! - is too picky.

It was bad enough to throw out the classified ad, but worse that Dad bought into the advantage of riches. Those of us who've lived a little while should know that money doesn't equal happiness. It's a tool that helps to meet our needs and some of our wants, as well as something we can use to benefit the lives of the less privileged. But we see an awful lot of wealthy people who are absolutely miserable and who keep trying to fill the inner void with more of the things that money can buy. It just doesn't work.

And does Dad really want someone to marry his son for his money, or does he want someone to love his son for his character and what he brings to the relationship other than what's in his bank account? 

I used to tell my mother that I didn't plan to marry a rich man because I planned on being a rich woman. Neither scenario happened and that's okay. I got a good man who appreciates me, and you can't buy that.

If you had a choice between marrying rich/being miserable and marrying average/being happy, which would you pick? (Assuming you want to get married at all. There's no pressure!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Havisham

HavishamAuthor: Ronald Frame
Publisher: Picador, 2013

It's been a looooong time since I read Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, so remember hardly anything about Catherine Havisham (the subject of this prequel). There are more thorough reviews on Goodreads than mine is here; feel free to check them out :)

Overall I felt the book was well-written, but toward the end I started thinking it should be over already. It went on just a bit too long for me. As other reviewers have pointed out, the justification for Catherine's decision to live out the rest of her life in a wedding dress and to become so embittered by her abandonment at the altar is rather flimsy. I also agree with those who felt the masturbation and "pissing" scenes were unnecessary.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review: King Hugo's Huge Ego

Author: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2011

Rhyming books are among the hardest to get right, but Van Dusen (illustrator of the Mercy Watson series) succeeds in this humorous look at how ego creates a swelled head and makes it difficult/impossible to make friends. King Hugo gets his necessary comeuppance, which changes his life for the better ever after.

Fun illustrations, too!

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I'm over at Inscribe today, if anyone would like to check out my post. We were challenged to think about what we would do if given a year to write no-holds-barred. I wrote my piece pretty quickly - I just got back from vacation at the beginning of the week and have been working, catching up on laundry, and trying to get people ready for the return to school - but I think I captured the essentials of my writing year. I'd be interested in hearing what your ideal writing year would like!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: It's Duffy Time!

It's Duffy Time!Author: Don & Audrey Wood
Publisher: Blue Sky Press, 2012

Anyone who has known or loved a dog will find this relatable. A day in the life of Duffy - wake up, eat, nap. Nap, nap, nap, nap. Play time! etc.

Cute. For the dog-lover in your life.

2.5 stars

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Hogg, Hogg, & Hog

Author: Margie Palatini
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011

When an author casts about for an idea, what does she come up with? Three pigs casting about for an idea! What do they come up with? Something silly that everyone around them thinks is brilliant.

'nuf said.

 Just two stars for this one. **