Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taken by Edward Bloor


It's 2036, and there are two major industries in the United States: domestic service and kidnapping children. Charity Meyers wakes up on New Year's, 2036, to find that she has been abducted. Her parents have 12 hours to pay the ransom that should save her life. Charity spends her last terrifying hours locked into an ambulance with Dessi, a young kidnapper, who challenges her perceptions of domestic servants and the underprivileged. It soon becomes clear that, in Charity's world, all is not what it seems. Will she ever escape, and will life (as she knows it) return to normal?

Book Information
Taken by Edward Bloor. 2007. Tennessee: Random House.

My Review
Critically acclaimed author Edward Bloor takes suspense to the next level in his novel Taken. Charity Meyers is an easily likeably, naive, upright young girl who has been uprooted from her life by kidnappers, and who is already emotionally estranged from her parents. Also endearing is her captor Dessi, who becomes sympathetic during the story. The only point where this novel suffers is the ending, which is so startling and abrupt that it seems entirely implausible. On all other points, this novel is a fun, breezy read.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

14 Cows for America

by Carmen Agra Deedy, Thomas Gonzalez and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. 2009. Peachtree: Atlanta.

A young man named Kimeli returns from the United States to his African home. among the Maasai, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a show of support, Kimeli wishes to send his only cow as a gift to the devastated Americans. But the elders decide that this is not enough, and they send for an American diplomat to receive their gift...

My Review
A beautiful, complex tale is told here in simple language, with lush illustrations. Parental guidance is advised with younger readers.

Book Information
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, Thomas Gonzalez and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. 2009. Peachtree: Atlanta.

This book caught my eye in my public library. The illustrations inside are a feast for the eyes, while the story (based on Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah's experiences) shows real generosity.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Debt-Free Forever

Canada’s “Til Debt Do Us Part” financial TV guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade has published a solid beginner’s financial advice guide. As indicated in its title, Debt-Free Forever provides the first steps in eliminating debt and starting to save. It gives common-sense advice in plain language on topics including: creating a budget, reducing credit card debt, saving, and purchasing insurance.

The information given by Vaz-Oxlade follows the recommendations that she makes on her show. These include making a monthly budget tangible through depositing money into allocated jars that represent budget divisions (e.g. “Transportation”, “Entertainment”, etc.) and calling up credit card companies to arrange a reduction in overdraft/balance interest. There is also basic information on savings vehicles including GICs and TFSAs.

For Canadians who are beginning to reduce their debt or who are starting to save, Vaz-Oxlade gives solid financial advice. Those who are well on their way towards a financially stable future, yet who wish to increase/change investments, should seek out more technical financial guides and find a nonpartisan financial advisor who can provide a comprehensive list of savings/investment vehicles.

Vaz-Oxlade, Gail (2009). Debt-Free Forever. HarperCollins:Toronto.
307 p.

Image courtesy of

I put this book on hold through my library since I wanted to read a financial book that was written in easily understood English. I was able to read through most of it in an afternoon. I'd recommend borrowing this book from the library as an easy introduction/refresher course before settling down to choosing a more detailed financial plan of action.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


My Review

Readers who enjoy Flannery O'Connor should take a look at Brad Gooch's Flannery. This book draws on a variety of sources, including interviews and letters, to provide a well-rounded portrait of the humor, religious devotion and social times that strongly influenced Flannery O'Connor and her work. Gooch brings to light many of O'Connor's personality quirks, including her fondness for birds and her solitary nature, and uncovers many of the real life people and incidents that appear in her stories and novels.

Gooch, Brad. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor.
Little, Brown and Company, 2009

464 pages

Personal Notes

I received this book as a Christmas gift, and was thrilled to read it. As a university student, I read and enjoyed Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Since I own a pet budgie, I was intrigued by her fascination with birds (and her ability to train a chicken to walk backwards!) What I really admire about this book is that Gooch does not overplay O`Connor`s struggles with lupus, and writes respectfully of her life and hard work.