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Reviews Written by
Kaitlyn Kochany (Stratford, Ontario Canada)
(REAL NAME)   

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The Shepherd's Dog
The Shepherd's Dog
Price: CDN$ 18.60
24 used & new from CDN$ 10.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Dec 27 2007
This review is from: The Shepherd's Dog (Audio CD)
This album is an upbeat gem from Iron & Wine; it actually even grooves a little! It still holds the breathy vocals and intelligent lyrics of previous I&W outings, but he expands his intrumentation and sound to create a richer, more layered album. Definitely a must-hear: I can't stop listening to it since I bought it.

Free to Be a Family
Free to Be a Family
by Marlo Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 17.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, excellent, May 3 2006
This review is from: Free to Be a Family (Hardcover)
This mixtape of celebrity vignettes and songs is one of the best examples of children's media that I've ever encountered. I've been listening to, and enjoying, this music for over 10 years, through 2 younger siblings, and countless car-trips.
The songs are entertaining without condescending to their young audience, and the music is varied enough in genre to keep young listeners and their parents happy. The sketches are funny and endlessly quotable: the best examples are Christopher Reeves spoofing his "Superman" status with a story about adoption, and the feminist message of over-the-top Robin Williams as he "helps around the house" by assembling breakfast. The performers talk and sing about adoption, helping around the house, the importance of resisting peer pressure, prayer, how it's okay to be angry, and how families can fall apart and reform themselves into something new and beautiful...and none of it is preachy, cloying, or dated, even almost 20 after the album's initial release.
The overall message of acceptance, communication, kindness and love (even through the tough times) is one that all ages can enjoy. I wish this was available to buy, because it's truly worth it.

Raymond and Hannah
Raymond and Hannah
by Stephen Marche
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Builds and satisfies, June 20 2005
This review is from: Raymond and Hannah (Hardcover)
Raymond and Hannah seems at first like a pretentious little trip into the heart of an urban relationship. There's the very post-modern device of the author leaning into the text - in this case, he divides the book into short vignettes, emails, impressions, non sequitors and snippets of dialogue, all designed to create a layered and informative effect. Surprisingly, it works.
The characters of Raymond and Hannah, and their lives as students and lovers, come vividly alive in this book. When their torrid affair ends and Hannah leaves to study in Jerusalem, she goes a disaffected and modern woman. While at the yeshiva, however, she encounters her Jewish roots and creates an identity as a Jew, a woman, a woman in a long-distance relationship with a Gentile, and a complete, nuanced character. Raymond is just as fully fleshed out. Their first week together is just as vivid, packed with the details and shimmers of Real Love that is vital in making an experimental piece of writing work.
There are flaws here, as in everything. While perhaps vital as illumination to his character, Raymond's thesis is incredibly dull. The last third of the book is a touch confusing - the characters and the writing both lose a bit of focus. Overall, however, this is a charming and totally readable bit of fiction, and an interesting and modern meditation on identity, religion, finding one's place in the world, and love.

Dorothy L'Amour
Dorothy L'Amour
by Lynn Crosbie
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from CDN$ 125.62

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overblown and overdone, June 12 2005
This review is from: Dorothy L'Amour (Paperback)
Lynn Crosbie, who usually writes a cohesive, interesting and funny column about pop culture for the Globe and Mail, has instead embarked on a different path with this book. Outlining the life and death of Dorothy Stratten, a Vancouver-girl-turned-1980s-Playboy-centerfold, Crosbie's prose is meandering and becomes weaker by the page. Her style is something like a poor man's Michael Ondaatje: attempts at lyricism are self-concious and uninspired.
Certain parts of the novel work; Dorothy's childhood in interesting, and Crosbie has obviously put a lot of thought into capturing the sexualization of a young golden girl. Once Dorothy leaves for Hollywood, however, the novel's hallucinatory style begins to work against it. Characters melt into one another. Men, in particular, become indistinguishable. They all seem to want something from Dorothy: sex, money, validation.
The dust jacket made it seem inspired and glittery; this could have been a novel that was smart and breezy, drug-smart and suntanned. Instead, it's bland, hazy and boring. I would stick to Crosbie's G&M column and leave the true crime to the E! True Hollywood Story people.

We Need To Talk About Kevin
We Need To Talk About Kevin
by Lionel Shriver
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A horror story for our age, June 12 2005
Kevin Katchadourian is a parent's worst nightmare: a sullen child who abuses, manipulates, and controls everyone around him. Eva, his mother, seems to know something is terribly wrong with her son from the moment she gives birth, as he grasps for his father and turns a baleful eye towards his mother. As he gets older, Eva's maternal instincts about her dark child places him at the center of incident after incident: playgoups that are dismantled; misterious bike accidents; sexual precocity. As Kevin grows up and Eva bears a beautiful young daughter, the family dynamic becomes even more explosive as she and her husband Franklin take sides against Kevin and his malevolence.
The inorexible march towards the conclusion - Kevin's violent and methodical attack on his classmates - made my stomach tie itself up in knots. Eva is helpless as he controls the Katchadourians and eventually destroys everyone around him.
Taking the form of letters written to her husband, Franklin, Eva reflects on her marriage, her children, the nature of violence and hypocrisy in America, and what it feels like to be the mother of a disturbed and dangerous child. This is not a light book, but it is a necessary one. Her inability to mother Kevin is perhaps an insightful look at those women who bore the real-life School Killers, and Lionel Shriver should be congratulated on her brave and difficult work.

Knocked Up: Confessions of a Modern Mother-to-be
Knocked Up: Confessions of a Modern Mother-to-be
by Rebecca Eckler
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
24 used & new from CDN$ 2.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure, May 31 2004
While this book made me think a little about the process of unwanted pregnancy, the entire 250+ page book could be summed up in five words: "Does my ass look fat?".
Not exactly the most feminist or introspective of moms-to-be, Eckler still manages to capture the sheer bewilderment of pregnancy. Unfortunately, what might be funny in person often comes across as vapid, shallow, self-absorbed or lazy, and I found myself wondering how much I cared about her size zero pants or her stealthy cigarettes. Things really came into focus when, halfway through the book, Kate Hudson becomes pregant. Eckler rejoices: finally, a celebrity she can emulate!
Still, there are moment of wit and insight, and "Knocked Up" was clearly meant as an answer to the motherhood-is-joy brigade. No matter how much weight she gains, how many cigarettes she deprives herself of, how many Big Macs she eats, Eckler grudgingly admits that her baby is beautiful, and being mother might not be so bad after all.

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