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BookChick (Simcoe, ON Canada)
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Penny Pinchers Club, The
Penny Pinchers Club, The
by Sarah Strohmeyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.00
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read with an ending that will keep you guessing..., Feb. 14 2010
Kat is a Jersey girl at heart. She shops, and shops, and then shops some more. When she gets home she hides how much her purchases cost from her husband, Griff, a professor at the local University. She loves her job as an interior designer, but she doesn't love her manipulative boss. When Kat begins to suspect that Griff is cheating on her she finds that he has both a secret bank account and a secret Mastercard. After a consultation with a lawyer she discovers that she does not even have close to enough to pay for divorce, not to mention the ensuing life on her own. Kat joins "The Penny Pincher's Club", a group that meets in the basement of the local library made up of people who are experts on money management. Kat hope that in time she will be able to not only pay for her divorce, but be able to live on her own in the future.

I'll admit that I didn't like Kat at the beginning of The Penny Pincher's Club- not even a little! She seemed selfish and obsessed with shopping, something that I'm not. For that reason alone I had a hard time relating to her in the beginning, but luckily she began changing shortly into the book and as she changed I started warming up to her.

I ended up loving this book, despite the fact that Kat's shopping habits initially made me wary of the whole thing. Strohmeyer kept me guessing as to how the whole thing would end, and I liked that. I love chick-lit, but I don't always want to know how it ends right away. It's nice when an author can keep me guessing througout. Bravo to her! It really was a satisfying read with characters that I could relate to (and root for!) and an ending that kept me guessing. Highly recommended to both chick-lit fans and those looking for a light (yet satisfying) read!

Sex Dungeon for Sale!
Sex Dungeon for Sale!
by Patrick Wensink
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.90
20 used & new from CDN$ 4.37

3.0 out of 5 stars Fiction that is "outside of the box"!, Jan. 28 2010
This review is from: Sex Dungeon for Sale! (Paperback)
A realtor tries to sell a home with a real-life sex dungeon set up in the basement. A popular dishwasher brand has a brand new cycle available: the KILL cycle. A man can't help but notice that his son looks an awful lot like his wife's old boyfriend. A woman sees an image of Jesus in a piece of burnt toast. Kidnappers are advised how to overcome their "empty-nest syndrome" once their kidnapee has been returned home. Yup- these are all in Patrick Wensick's book of short stories "Sex Dungeon For Sale!".

Full of dark humour and bizarre scenarios, "Sex Dungeon For Sale!" is perfect for those who enjoy their fiction with a healthy dose of off-the-wall. These bite-sized stories are perfect for our brevity-obsessed Twitter generation, as most are only a few pages long yet leave the reader with a lot to think about when the last sentence has been read.

I found myself enjoying these unique, well-written stories, although I enjoyed some more than others. While I loved "Jesus Toast", "My Son Thinks He's French", and "Clean Bill of Health", I didn't enjoy "Wash, Rinse, Repeat" or "Pandemic Jones" as much: the themes were just a little too dark for me personally, but are sure to appeal to anyone who likes their humour black. I'm glad that I had the chance to experience stories that are different from what I usually read- it allowed me to "read outside of the box" for a bit.

The Happiness Project
The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 2.99

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm happier just having read it!, Jan. 28 2010
This review is from: The Happiness Project (Hardcover)
Gretchen Rubin is pretty happy. She's got a wonderful husband, two great little girls, they are financially secure and she's doing what she loves- writing. One day on the bus she comes to a realization- she's happy, but she could be happier. This realization leads her to create a "happiness project"- 12 months of tasks and resolutions that will (hopefully) result in her being the happiest Gretchen that she can be. Armed with her personal 12 commandments and her secrets of adulthood, she sets out on her year-long quest for personal happiness, and "The Happiness Project" is born.

I loved this book! I managed to pick up a lot of great ideas from the tasks that Gretchen set out to do. I learned the most from the months of January (Boost Energy), February (Remember Love), April (Parenthood), and July (Buy Some Happiness). After reading January's chapter I was inspired to organize my home more effectively, February's chapter inspired me to nag my husband less and to be thankful for the great person that he is, April reminded me to be more patient with my frustrating, aggravating, yet amazing children, and July inspired me to make some more concrete goals when it comes to saving money.

Another thing that I liked about the book was that Gretchen never tries to be anything that she isn't. In fact, one of her commandments is "Be Gretchen". When some of her friends tell her that she should take up meditiation, or that she should see a therapist, and those suggestions don't resonate with her personally, she just doesn't do them. She's not saying that they don't work, just that they don't work for her. She doesn't encourage anyone to do "her" happiness project, but to do one that works for "them". She also openly admits when she fails, giving her a human quality that I really appreciated. She's not saying, "I did it, and I did it perfectly", she's saying, "I did it, and sometimes I failed, but in the end, I felt happier".

I did have a few minor problems with this book: she often incorporates comments from her happiness blog into the book. They were relevant, but truthfully if I wanted to read the comments of her blog readers, I would probably just read her blog. They got a little repetitive. I also found that things dragged a little in the chapters for the months of September, October, and November. I found that the things that she was saying were similar to those things said in previous months, so I skimmed those chapters a bit. These were minor problems, though, and they really didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.

A great read- and yes, I feel happier just because I read it...

Family Feud 2010 Edition
Family Feud 2010 Edition

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing at best, Jan. 28 2010
Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Family Feud 2010 Edition (DVD-ROM)
My husband and I love watching the Family Feud on TV. We enjoy playing along at home and we thought that this video game would be a fun way to play ourselves! Man, were we disappointed! Very little thought appears to have gone into this game. The questions are silly at best, and often have very obvious or very obscure answers. The graphics aren't great and my copy even has a glitch on it which obscures the "number 3" answer on it every time, but it's not even worth it for me to ship it back. The "fast money" round isn't realistic at all, with some of the "top answers" being worth 65 points or more! We've played it a couple times and win easily every time.

I can deal with poor graphics, but this game would be far better if it had difficulty levels so that adults could play and if the questions were a little more realistic. I would have paid $5 for this game, but am disappointed that I wasted $20.

Up (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Bilingual)
Up (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Ed Asner
Price: CDN$ 39.97
26 used & new from CDN$ 19.89

5.0 out of 5 stars A movie for the whole family, Jan. 24 2010
It's been a while since I've watched a movie with the family that was really the whole package. "Up" is certainly worth watching.

The background story is about lifelong love between a man and a woman. Budding adventurers Carl and Ellie meet as children. They fall in love and marry and when Ellie passes away Carl realizes that he never took her to Paradise Falls, South America as they had dreamed of doing. When Carl finds out that he is being sent to a retirement home, he rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and sets out to give Ellie this one last gift. It's not long before he finds a stowaway, Russell, an earnest little boy and the son of a single mother, and at that point it is too late to turn back so he's stuck with him.

Carl and Russell manage to land themselves in Paradise Falls and along with their new friends Kevin (a rare exotic bird and a new mother) and Dug (a dog who talks) set out on the adventure of a lifetime.

This movie was hilarious yet sentimental and as a family we laughed and "awwwww'd" the entire way through. A must-have addition to your kid's movie collection, although it may be the adults who watch it over and over again!

In the Wake of Loss
In the Wake of Loss
by Sheila James
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.83
23 used & new from CDN$ 10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stories meant to be savoured..., Jan. 23 2010
This review is from: In the Wake of Loss (Paperback)
"In The Wake of Loss" reflects on the many facets of loss experienced by diasporic South Asians. "Ana's Mother" is the story of a woman who suspects that her husband is having an affair, but her suspicions become unimportant when her only child goes missing one afternoon. "Outside Paradise" is the story of an old woman who loses everything that mattered to her in life. "In The Wake of Loss" follows a woman whose on- again, off-again lover has died. "On Ruby's Birthday" is the story of a man who has lost his wife and children in his home country, and struggles to build a new life in Canada. "On a Mountain on an Island" is the story of two women who run a B&B together and who are falling out of love with one another. "The Arrangement" is the story of a couple in a unique situation who will do anything to have children, and "Demure" is the story of a mail-order bride who is trying to make her way in a strange new world. Finally, "Girlfriends" is the story of a woman who has lost her mother and is determined not to lose her father as well.

Eight stories, all very different, but all reflect on loss and how it affects every aspect of our lives. Whether it is the loss of identity, a country, a lover, a parent, a child, a friend, or a dream, Sheila James does a beautiful job of connecting us to her many characters, and of making us experience a sliver of the pain of their loss.

Sheila James has written eight diverse stories, ones that really drive home the point that when people immigrate to Canada they lose both their home and part of their identity, and must often become someone new in a new country. How fitting this theme was, considering Canada's diverse population and the many ethnicities that call Canada home. This was a beautiful book, and one that I would highly recommend to anyone seeking a new perspective on the world around us.

A Bad Bride's Tale a Bad Bride's Tale
A Bad Bride's Tale a Bad Bride's Tale
by Polly Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.44
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Despite some plot/dialogue problems early on, a fun read, Jan. 23 2010
Stevie Jonson is two weeks away from her wedding to Jez and is having some serious doubts. Why is it that almost everything that he does is annoying her? Is it pre-wedding jitters or is it a sign of things to come? When Sam, Stevie's high school crush, comes back to town to attend her wedding, sparks fly between them and Stevie seriously wonders if she's doing the right thing by getting married.

Katy Norris is 36, takes great care of her body, and is ready to settle down, get married, and have children. Unfortunately her boyfriend Seb has yet to pop the question and Katy isn't sure if it is even imminent. Complicating matters, Seb works in New York and she lives in England, making their time together sparse.

Stevie, Jez, Katy and Seb coinicidentally meet up while they are in Thailand: Stevie and Jez are there for their honeymoon, Katy and Seb are there for a romantic vacation. The four of them spend some time together and eventually discover that things don't always work out as planned. Or do they?

I had some serious doubts about A Bad Bride's Tale from the first page. Now I love chick lit as much as the next girl, but both the writing and the plot were a little too much for me. The writing seemed stilted, the plot overdone. Luckily, I like to give every book a proper chance (I try to read at least 100 pages before I give up) and this one got better immediately following Stevie and Jez's wedding (which is early on in the book). The plot picked up after this point, and actually started to get interesting. The plot remained fairly predictable throughout, but I stand by my theory that it is okay for good chick lit to be a little predictable here and there.

Although I wouldn't recommend that you run out and buy this one right away, I do still recommend reading it if your library has a copy or if it is sitting in your TBR pile. If you can get through the first few chapters, it's a great read for a rainy day or the beach, and the conclusion is fully satisfying.

Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks
Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks
by Denise Austin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
57 used & new from CDN$ 2.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filled with practical advice for anyone hoping to lose a little weight, Jan. 23 2010
From fitness guru Denise Austin comes a new book designed to help you incorporate fitness into your life, no matter how busy it is. As a wife, mother, and business woman herself she understands that our days are packed from the time that we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night, and that most of us do not have time for hour long workouts every day. She also understands that most of us have a few pounds that we would like to lose. She's come up with a solution: her daily dozen, 12 minutes worth of exercise that pretty much anyone can incorporate into their schedules. Her workouts are designed to maximize our fat-burning potential, while toning and slimming our bodies. She provides us with 21 days of workouts, cardio suggestions, meal plans, and shopping lists (21 days is approximately the amout of time that it takes to get into a new habit). Denise says that if we follow her instructions to the letter we can lose up to 12 pounds in 2 weeks.

What I loved about Denise's Daily Dozen is that Denise Austin offers us ways to lose weight that can actually be incorporated into our daily schedules. Almost anyone that I know can fit in 12 minutes of exercise a day, whether they get up 12 minutes earlier or go to bed 12 minutes later. There is more to the plan than only 12 minutes a day, as readers are encouraged to do about 12 miles worth of cardio every week in addition to the exercises, but even if all you can fit in is 12 minutes than really that's better than nothing. I love that there are lots of encouraging extras scattered throughout the book, whether it's a dozen tips for healthy food shopping or encouraging stories about those who have lost significant amounts of weight. I especially love the section where Denise describes simple exercises that we can do while talking on the phone, watching TV, or waiting for our toast to pop up. These are all things that I am sure that I can fit into my day with little or no additional effort on my part, but that will eventually show me results.

What I didn't love as much about the book were some of the recipes, which simply weren't to my taste. As the mom to three very picky eaters (and one very picky husband) I just can't see myself cooking one meal for them and another for myself. I simply don't have that much time or energy after a long day. Denise suggests that families can get healthy together by eating these recipes, but I can't see my sons ever eating black beans or sprouts. That being said, I did manage to find a few that I think I can get my family to eat with me, such as "Slim Sloppy Joes", which I do plan on incorporating into our meal rotation.

Quite honestly I don't think that I have the discipline or the determination to follow this plan to the letter, but in an effort to become a healthier version of myself I do plan on incorporating Denise's 12 minute exercise routines into my daily schedule, and I also plan to use a few of the recipes to help my family to eat healthier. I think that there is a lot of pratical, smart advice between these pages and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to lose a few pounds or incorporate fitness into their daily routine.

Spin
Spin
by Catherine McKenzie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.59
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chick Lit With Substance, Jan. 21 2010
This review is from: Spin (Paperback)
Kate Sandford is almost 30, but she still poses as a graduate student at times for the free food available at graduate events. She writes articles for the newspaper about obscure but interesting bands, and when she gets an interview at The Line, a music magazine that she has always aspired to work at, she is ecstatic. The night before the interview she goes out with friends to celebrate the combination of her birthday and the interview and, well, over-celebrates a little. She arrives at her interview the next day hungover, reeking like alcohol, and sick to her stomach and it isn't long before the interviewers politely dismiss her. Kate is devastated, but a few weeks later she receives a call. If Kate follows Amber Sheppard, the current celebrity "It Girl" into rehab and writes a tell-all after completing the program she will get another chance to work at The Line. Kate doesn't think twice and hops onto a plane headed for the rebab centre Oasis.

Things get complicated after Kate arrives. Even though she was convinced that she didn't have a problem with alcohol, her time in rehab is starting to open her eyes a little to her own destructive behaviour. Kate also manages to not just meet Amber Sheppard, but befriend her, and then comes the ultimate question: can Kate still write her article without losing her new friend? Kate also meets Henry, a celebrity handler, and sparks begin to fly. Will Henry be able to fall in love with a girl that he met in rehab, and can their relationship last outside of the walls of Oasis?

Spin is chick-lit with a heart, and I absolutely loved it. Kate Sandford is definitely one screwed-up individual at times, with the habit of leaping into things without thinking them through first, but she is the type of character that makes you root for her. Not only was I hoping that she would be able to truly see that she had a problem with alcohol, but I was hoping that she would start wanting to get better, and maybe even fall in love along the way. The secondary characters in Spin are fantastic as well: Amber appears to be a spoiled celebrity at first, but as the story continues we see that she's just a girl who has made some bad decisions, and has managed to make those in the spotlight while the world followed her every move. Henry, the celebrity handler, was fantastic as a guy who didn't need to be in rehab, but certainly didn't have it all together either. Kate's parents were wonderful as well- people who truly want to see the best in people, even if those great qualities are in hiding.

There's a line on the last page of the book that I found absolutely swoon-worthy. I would love to share it with you, but won't for fear of giving away the ending, so you'll just have to read it for yourself! What I can say is that debut author Catherine McKenzie has written a fantastically entertaining and funny yet endearing debut novel and I'm excited to read what she comes up with next.

Where We Have to Go
Where We Have to Go
by Lauren Kirshner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.78
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful coming-of-age story, Jan. 20 2010
This review is from: Where We Have to Go (Paperback)
Meet Lucy. She's an imaginative 11-year-old whose parents are on the verge of splitting up. Her father is a failed glamour photographer and a travel agent who doesn't travel. He's also a recovering alcoholic battling his personal demons at weekly AA meetings. Her mother is larger-than-life, a former beauty queen in her native Bulgaria and a lover of the antique mannequins that represent their little family. As her parents continue to fight, Lucy begins to grasp that all is not well in her household, and when another woman is introduced into the volatile mix, Lucy and her mother move out of the house in pursuit of a better life. The story continues to follow Lucy and her family as they work through the pain of infedelity, the uncertainty of trying to become a family again, her grandfather's illness, anorexia and the inability to fit in in high school. We watch her grow up in the 1990's, and eventually she blossoms into a young college student with a new outlook on life.

"Where We Have to Go" is an absolutely beautiful coming-of-age story. In the beginning Lucy is a gawky girl on the verge of adolescence with no breasts to speak of and the habit of counting things to ward off bad events. This hint of her obsessive-compulsiveness develops into full-blown anorexia in her teen years when she realizes that she doesn't fit in at school. This part hit particularly close to home for me. I didn't have anorexia in school, but I certainly didn't fit in with the popular girls, despite my desire to. Reading this book brought all of that awkwardness back, along with a sense of relief that I am now past my teenage years and am a (relatively) well-adjusted adult. Lauren Kirshner manages to take those feelings of highschool aniexty and channels them into some great material.

Her characters were also really well-developed, particularly the character of Lucy's grandfather. He was a secondary character, but I could picture him, especially when he leans his cane against the wall of his nursing home, pretending that he doesn't need it, so that he can hit on the pretty young nurses. Lauren Kirshner has written a great debut novel, one that will beg to be read again.

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