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CanadianMother (Ontario)

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
by Anne Bronte
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.81
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Realistic, March 9 2009
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I really enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Like Agnes Grey, this book I found to be surprisingly realistic considering the time in which it was written. Anne Bronte seemed to be more willing to examine the ugly elements of Victorian society than were her sisters. Adultery, alcoholism, gambling, drug use, and other evils were written about by Anne without blinking. I am sure this was shocking to many readers of that day.

Some reviewers have commented that Helen is an unrealistic character because she is too pure and too good. I would disagree with this. Anne Bronte herself was extremely religious and strict with her ideas of proper behaviour, and I don't think Helen is much different than Anne herself in this respect. In every generation and in every culture there are those people who take their religion very seriously and who always force themselves to do what they feel is right--although these people may be the exception rather than the rule, they do exist.

Helen's story was very compelling for me to read. It was painful for me to see her young, naive self giving her love so freely to a man so unworthy of it. I acutely felt her suffering as she slowly came to a realization of her husband's true character.

I read the Penguin Classics edition of this book, and I would highly recommend this edition. The notes at the end of the book are extensive and excellent for getting a greater understanding of this work in particular and of the Bronte sisters in general.

Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages
Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages
by Sarah Swett
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from CDN$ 65.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Not for young children, March 8 2009
This book on weaving for kids is an attractive hardcover with glossy, colourful pages. It includes many interesting weaving projects as well as a bit of background information on weaving traditions around the world.

However I would caution potential buyers that when they say weaving, they mean weaving. Painstakingly creating blankets, belts, and other things on a homemade or store bought loom. There are a few easy projects in the beginning to get kids used to the idea of weaving, but most of the projects are difficult and time consuming.

I just wanted to mention this because I took this book out from the library with my 10 year old daughter in mind, but I returned it a few days later because the projects were beyond what she would be capable of. I think perhaps teenagers might be more interested in this book--although they might also be turned off by the 'kids' in the title.

ReadyMade: How to Make [Almost] Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer
ReadyMade: How to Make [Almost] Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer
by Shoshana Berger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.55
48 used & new from CDN$ 1.37

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very witty and hip, but not very useful, March 7 2009
When I saw this book at the library I thought I had found a gold mind of useful information. Just look at the title: "How to Make Almost Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer." I am one of those who is into self-sufficient and simple living. I envisioned a book that would give me ideas on sewing my own clothes and making my own laundry detergent, making furniture and fixing a toilet. You get the idea.

Well, I was quite wrong about the content of this book. I will say that the authors are very witty and write eloquently. They are sometimes very funny. And I will also say that this book is unique and creative, and it did make me pause and think about a few things. BUT...

But while it was interesting to leaf through, in all honesty there wasn't a single useful project or even any useful information here. This book is a quirky, witty guide to thinking outside the box for young eco-chic urbanites. The focus of the book is finding ways to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Projects include things like making a lounge chair out of plastic water bottles, and a bookbag out of the blue plastic bags that newspapers come in. There is a shoji screen made out of, I kid you not, Nike shoe boxes, and another room screen made from beer cans. Probably the oddest thing I saw was a chandelier made from plastic cutlery and Christmas lights.

Perhaps university students wanting to create a few ugly conversation pieces for their apartments will get a kick out of this book. There are certainly some unique projects, and some essays are included to get readers thinking outside the box even more. (For example the chapter on plastic has an article on starting a business using credit cards, and the one on fabric has one on how to "weave a good yarn." I am not sure I enjoyed the article on how to lie convincingly, or the one ridiculing the story of Noah's ark.)

I gave this book two stars because I appreciate the effort the authors were trying to make in getting people to think about ways they can reuse items and be more creative in general. But I feel I can't give it a higher rating than that because as I mentioned already, there wasn't one single project in here that was remotely useful to me in any way.

Oh, I also wanted to mention that I'm not sure all the projects are *really* environmentally friendly anyway. For example, there is a door mat made with clothespins--and in the picture, the mat looks to me to be made with NEW wooden clothespins. Please tell me how this is recycling wood or saving trees?

Little White Horse
Little White Horse
by Elizabeth Goudge
Edition: Paperback
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely story for the young--or the young at heart, Jan. 27 2009
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This review is from: Little White Horse (Paperback)
My 9 year old daughter recently read The Little White Horse and was so enchanted by it that she asked me to read it as well. I agreed, but I didn't expect to enjoy it very much as it looked like the type of silly story that only children can truly enjoy.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. I LOVED this book. Yes, it is a fairy tale for children, with beautiful scenes, magical creatures, and humorous moments, but it is so much more. This book really has substance. The main character, Maria, must overcome evil and sorrow in her world with the power of courage and love. Sometimes casual remarks made by the characters gave me, as an adult, pause for thought. And the love the author shows for the beauty of nature, and for simplicity of religion, was inspiring to me.

Those who tend to be cynical may cringe at the overly sweet and innocent tone of the story, and even more so at the ridiculously happy and perfect fairy tale ending. But personally, I found this beautiful story with a very happy ending refreshing! We hear about so much trouble and misery in the world today, that I really enjoyed taking a break from reality and just diving right into this delightful book.

My favourite thing about The Little White Horse was the positively delicious descriptions the author gave for all the lovely things Maria encountered her first few months at Moonacre Manor--the clothing, the rooms, the gardens, the sky, the people, the church, the village--and most of all the food, the glorious food!

I should also mention that there is an awful lot of humour in this book, although some of it is subtle enough that children may miss it. I usually had a smile on my face while reading, and one scene in particular made me laugh so hard that I actually cried!

Well, I can't recommend this book highly enough. I believe it would be a complete joy to read for any child or any adult who is a child at heart and who hasn't lost their sense of wonder at the beauty that can be found in the world--for yes, there is beauty in the world outside Silverydew and Moonacre Manor as well.

Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
by Karen Andreola
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 37.40

5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle and sweet book for mothers to enjoy., Jan. 18 2009
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Because of the unusual format of this book, and because of the mixed reviews here, I was unsure if I would like this book--but I purchased it anyway, because I very much enjoyed Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion. Fortunately, I was not disappointed, and indeed I was pleasantly surprised.

Let me say first of all that this book is an EXCELLENT resource for homeschooling mothers who want to incorporate nature study into their children's lessons, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. Within each chapter of this "journal," Carol describes in detail what she and her children do for nature study, the drawings the children make for their journal, etc, so clueless people (like me!) can really get a concrete idea of what nature study looks like.

It's also a useful resource in that Carol uses Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study extensively, and she writes in her journal about how she uses it and about what information she found there. I have heard many homeschooling moms say that they like the Handbook of Nature Study but that they aren't sure how to use it.

At the end of the book is a wonderful list of "living books" with a nature theme that Karen recommends.

I feel confident after reading this book that I can successfully bring nature study into our homeschool.

Now, as for the story--yes, as one reviewer put it, it IS unrealistic. Carol's husband seems "practically perfect in every way," just like Mary Poppins, and in fact everyone that Carol knows seems to be strangely delightful. I don't think there is one unpleasant person or incident mentioned in Carol's journal. But, perhaps Carol just thinks the best of everyone? Perhaps she tries to always focus on the positive? Regardless, the story is pleasant to read. I found it enjoyable and refreshing to take a break from my busy day and read this sweet and gentle story. I didn't mind at all that it was unrealistic. I get enough realism in my daily life already!

So thank you Karen for writing a book that has blessed me in many ways. :)

Festivals, Family, and Food: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration
Festivals, Family, and Food: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration
by Diana Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.13
46 used & new from CDN$ 3.80

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for mothers, Jan. 18 2009
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I bought Festivals, Family and Food in order to get some ideas for celebrating holidays and the changing of the seasons with my children, whom I homeschool. I was not disappointed! This book has a little bit of everything--it's packed with poems, stories, songs, recipes, and ideas for crafts and decorations. It's truly a valuable book for me to have in my collection, and one that I refer to often for ideas.

It is nicely organized into sections relating to the seasons of the year, and at the end there is an extra section with ideas for miscellaneous things like convalescence and tea parties. Finishing the book is a lovely section with graces and blessings.

Several of the festivals and holidays mentioned in the book are British (for example Guy Fawkes Day) but in even those sections there are interesting crafts and recipes that anyone can use.

I should mention that I also bought All The Year Round, from the same publisher, and I ended up returning that one because it was very different from Festivals, Family and Food. All The Year Round is very strongly a Waldorf book (we are not a Waldorf homeschool) and mostly focuses on creating Seasonal Tables. It does not contain nearly as great a variety of materials as Festivals, Family and Food, which is more for a general audience.

So if you are looking for a book that contains a variety of ideas for celebrating the seasons, including lots of recipes and fun poems, choose this one! I feel it's definitely worth the cost.

by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 4.81
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Austen novel, Jan. 14 2009
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This review is from: Persuasion (Paperback)
I don't think I can add much to the glittering collection of well written reviews here, so I will merely say that Persuasion is my favourite Austen book, by far. The variety and realism of the characters in the book are delightful, and the ridiculous things Anne's father and sister say made me laugh out loud many times!

In short, Persuasion is a joy to read, and potential readers have nothing to lose in giving it a try with the Dover edition that only costs $2.95.

Dr. Jack Newman's Guide To Breastfeeding
Dr. Jack Newman's Guide To Breastfeeding
by Jack Newman
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 3.80

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best breastfeeding resource, period., Jan. 5 2009
After having been unsuccessful breastfeeding my first two babies, I was determined with my third that I would succeed. So I started checking out breastfeeding resources from the library. Because I had already tried breastfeeding, I knew that problems do occur and I wanted to be equipped withe knowledge to conquer those problems.

Imagine my surprise when I found that most breastfeeding books just talk about what a great experience it is, and then cover the basics, but tend to gloss over the potential problems as easily fixable. Ha!

Then I read Dr. Newman's book, and then, I knew that I could do it, because he gave me all the information I was looking for. This book is, simply put, the BEST, and MOST COMPLETE resource that I have been able to find on breastfeeding. He talks in great detail about subjects such as how to increase milk production through taking herbs; how to treat problems such as thrush, blocked ducts, sore nipples, and mastitis; how to deal with colic in the breastfed baby; and so much more.

Dr. Newman treats hundreds if not thousands of women yearly in his Toronto breastfeeding clinic--so he knows the sorts of problems women have with breastfeeding, and he knows how to deal with them. He also knows which ideas should be tossed out the window (for example, restricting the mother's diet, or telling smoking mothers they shouldn't breastfeed). I can't say enough good about this book, and I also can't say enough good about Dr. Newman himself. He truly is a gem for breastfeeding women everywhere! He even answered my emails promptly when I had questions for him.

I love the style the book is written in too--Dr. Newman writes with a friendly, casual, conversational style that makes you feel like you're having a personalized visit with him in his office.

In the end, I DID succeed with breastfeeding my third baby, but I guarantee I would have given up if it had not been for Dr. Newman's detailed advice for treating thrush. God bless him!

River Into Darkness 02 Compass Of The Soul
River Into Darkness 02 Compass Of The Soul
by Sean Russell
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down!, Jan. 4 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed The Compass of the Soul, the second part of the River Into Darkness duology (which as another reviewer stated, is really one book split into two, so make sure you get both). This surprised me, because I had read the Moontide and Magic Rise first, and those books take place about thirty years after the River into Darkness events--so I thought what suspense can there be when I already know how everything turns out?

Well, there is a lot of suspense indeed in this book (as in Under the Vaulted Hills). Russell introduces a lot of new characters that are not in the later books, so I wanted to keep reading to see what happens to them. Mystery and suspense fill the plot right up till the last chapter. It was very hard for me to put this book down!

I will also say that many of the happenings here had richer meaning for me because of my knowledge of the later books (for example, Kent painting the Countess's portrait).

Furthermore, Russell did an excellent job developing the characters in this second book. They are all complex characters. Not a single one can be neatly categorized as "good" or "evil," but rather they are all various shades of grey. Personally I found the character I had the most sympathy for was the mage, Eldritch--although he was portrayed as the villain of the story.

Perhaps I would have liked to see a little more "wrap up" at the end of the book--for example, I would have dearly liked to see Averil Kent again, and the Countess as well--but all in all, it was a satisfactory ending. In my experience, Russell's books are more about the journey than they are about the ending. And this book does provide a fascinating journey, beautifully written too.

I would recommend any of Russell's books to fantasy readers. They're definitely a cut above the rest.

Klutz Extra Stuff: Paper Fashions Fancy
Klutz Extra Stuff: Paper Fashions Fancy
by Klutz
Edition: Misc. Supplies
Price: CDN$ 12.95
16 used & new from CDN$ 11.36

5.0 out of 5 stars My daughter loved this!, Dec 30 2008
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My daughter (who is 9) loves creating fashions using the Klutz kit, Paper Fashions Fancy, which is sort of like making clothes for paper dolls (although there are no dolls). This "Extra Stuff" package contains more patterned papers for making the fashions.

She opened up this package of extra materials today, and was just about beside herself with excitement. There are many of the original papers here, as well as many that she had not seen before. She is very eager now to design some new fashions.

As with the materials in the original kit, the paper quality is very good and the variety of patterns here is excellent. Good for many hours of creative play!

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