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Laurie ‘The Baking Bookworm’

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A call to action and must-read for all Canadians

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-07-30

Canadians often compare ourselves to the US and sometimes, we can get a little high and mighty about how we think we have it better than our neighbours to the south. We definitely have it better in some ways, but in regards to racism? Canadians may want to think again.

This is a book that all Canadians should read - particularly those Canadians who think 'racism isn't an issue here in Canada' with an attitude of 'thank-god-we're-better-than-the-Americans'. In this collection of essays, one for each month in 2017, Cole confronts long-held beliefs that Canada opens its arms wide for one and all. That we're a place of inclusion, a country that celebrates diversity and was a place of solace for thousands of Black slaves as the end of the Underground Railroad.

Unfortunately, Canada's truth is far from glowing.

Desmond Cole, a Canadian journalist clearly documents numerous examples of racism, white privilege and puts a face to the issues using the specific cases of Defonte Miller, Abdouhl Abdi and Abdirahman Abdi. He shows how our systems in Canada were built with white supremacy in mind to the on-going detriment and subjugation of Black and Indigenous Canadians and how there is a general feeling of complacency by white Canadians to change a system that has benefited them for generations. Cole focuses on how racism is perpetuated at a systemic level in Canada - from its immigration policies, police brutality, corruption, intimidation and school policies. It is eye-opening, shocking and emotional.

I listened to the eAudiobook which is narrated by the author. His knowledge and passion are evident and my only beef is that the pacing of the audiobook is very slow (I increased my speed to 1.4x). I also attended an online event last night hosted by Kitchener Public Library, in conversation with Ruth Cameron, the Executive Director of ACCKWA and advisory committee member for the ACB Network, which was powerful and enlightening with specifics to my own region of Ontario. The following quotes are from that discussion:

"Black lives are constantly in a state of emergency."

"Our [Black Canadians] deaths aren't a teaching experience for white people."

Our system is functioning to "negotiate the level of harm as opposed to end it." (Ruth Cameron)


This is a powerful read that illustrates the importance of resistance, Canada's desperate need for change and will give white Canadians a chance to look at Canada through the lens of a Black Canadian. But ultimately, it is Cole's call to action for systemic reform that all Canadians must acknowledge and vow to act upon. We have a long road before all Canadians can feel equal.

An outstanding story (and multiple re-read).

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-05-22

People who know me, know I adore Harry Potter. Like crazy love HP. I love the story, the writing, the characters, the magic, and the themes. From the wizards and students, to Buckbeak and house elves, to Polyjuice Potion and even Blast-Ended Skrewts, I love it all.

'Never insult Harry Potter in front of me!'

As a Potterhead (and proud Hufflepuff), I've read the entire series several times and listened to them now at least twice (but sadly have yet to visit Harry Potter World. A travesty if ever there was one!). In this edition, the story is narrated by the incomparable Jim Dale (who also narrates the first six books) and brings the story and characters to life with his accents, nuance, and energy.

This seventh and last book in the series brings Harry's story and his fight against the dark powers of Lord Voldemort to a very satisfying end. Even though I knew how things would pan out, I was still riveted - I laughed, I cried, and I was on the edge of my seat as the powers of good and evil battle for supremacy.

If you haven't read Harry Potter yet, and you're between the ages of 8 and 108, I highly recommend that you do. While kids adore the series, this isn't just a series for kids and its darker themes and elements will appeal to adults.

Great narration but the story lost its magic

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-03-11

The Into the Wilderness series has been one of my favourite historical fiction series to date. I read the series years ago and recently I've been working my way through listening to the books. Unfortunately, this time I wasn't as enamored with the Bonner clan. The things I loved about the books (the Bonner family - particularly Nathaniel and Elizabeth, the adventure and antics of the local people of Paradise, NY) felt very subdued and not all that interesting making the story drag throughout the middle.

My lackluster feelings are mainly from the fact that Fire Along The Sky picks up a decade after the last book, Lake in the Clouds. This jump in time forces Donati to tell her readers what has happened instead of showing them through the story. This time jump removed me from the story and affected my connection to the characters. Twins Lily and Daniel were 8 years old the last we saw them and now they're 18, and much of this book now focuses on Lily. She's not my favourite character and often came off as petulant rather than strong. I was excited to see that Hannah makes her return to Paradise, but she is kept in the background and is a shadow of her former self while my favourites, Nathaniel and Elizabeth, are kept squarely in the background.

I'm saddened that I didn't love this book as much as I did previously. It felt like there were a lot of minor story lines to keep readers busy, but they didn't add a lot to the plot leaving this book to feel like just a link between the third and fifth books in the series. Even though I remember loving the fifth and sixth books, Queen of Swords and The Endless Forest , I'm debating whether to stop listening to this series. While Kate Reading as narrator continues to do an amazing job telling the story, it's the story itself that has lost some of its magic for me this second time around.

A Canadian classic, wonderfully narrated

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-20

Anne of Green Gables is, without a doubt, a beloved and much-read Canadian classic. Anne (with an E) is an iconic character who is known and loved for her spunkiness, penchant for getting herself into scrapes and ability to throw together some fanciful phrases with as many words as possible.

It's not surprising that Anne has become a treasured household name throughout the world. As a child, I watched Megan Follows play Anne in the TV version and she was (and remains) the only Anne for me on screen. So, when I bought the digital audiobook of AoGG here on Audible.ca, I was a little nervous to see who would be narrating Anne's story.

In this version, actress and St Thomas, Ontario native, Rachel McAdams (another Canadian sweetheart) has taken on the considerable task of narrating Anne's story. I admit that, in the very beginning, I questioned whether McAdams could give voice to Anne's unique and well-known personality, but my reservations were quickly put to rest. With great intonation, wonderful energy and emotion, McAdams brings readers into the heart of Anne's new life on PEI - her relationships, ups and downs and her fascination and appreciation for the simple things.

Anne and I are clearly kindred spirits and I greatly hope that she continues to charm new generations of readers. Montgomery's way with words and descriptions make it clear why this series of books (as well as L.M. Montgomery's other series, Emily) have been favourites of audiences for over a century. But now I find myself in 'the depths of despair' knowing that currently, it doesn't appear that Audible.ca has McAdams narrate the other books in the series. I hope Audible rectifies this soon.

Just as wonderful the 3rd time as it was the 1st

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-05

I read this book once and have now listened to this e-audiobook twice. It is a wonderful story from Canadian author, Susin Nielsen that gets to the heart of a family who has undergone a lot of changes, loss and growing pains. This is a story about family, in all its wonderful forms that showcases the POVs of two very different teens with heart and humour. This is one of my favourite Teen fiction reads. With its wonderful narration by Jesse Bernstein and Jorjeana Marie, this is a definite must-listen.

Jim Dale + HP = bliss

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-11-26

With JK Rowling's writing and Jim Dale's perfect narration, this is a must-own kind of audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

One of my favourite sagas!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-06-13

The Into the Wilderness series is one of my all-time favourite sagas. Filled with adventure, romance and family drama, Donati has written an engaging story that pulls readers into the lives of the Bonner family as they experience the tumultuous issues influencing 18th century North America.

While I liked that this book takes Elizabeth and Nathaniel on a wee bit of an adventure, this wasn't my favourite book in the series. Still a great read but I think I prefer it when more of the secondary characters, namely those at Lake in the Clouds and small-town Paradise, are included in the story lines. When you start to miss characters, you know you've got a good read.

Kate Reading narrates this audiobook and does a phenomenal job. A narrator can make or break an audiobook and Reading is one of the best. She easily bounces back and forth between the characters and includes several different well-done accents, making the story and its characters quite vivid for the listener.

Fans of Outlander will particularly enjoy this series. It has a similarly addictive story and main couple and you'll find yourself immersed in the Bonner clan. What it doesn't have is the frustrating wordiness that Outlander is known for. If you can get your hands on this saga, I highly suggest diving into this memorable series.

A wonderful read and listen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-01-29

Wonder has been a book that has stuck with me for years and one that I recommend regularly to my library patrons. It’s an uplifting story that introduces you to Auggie Pullman - a character that will wiggle his way into your heart and make you see the world, and possibly your own actions, differently.

One of my favourite book series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-01-14

You can’t go wrong with Jim Dale and Harry Potter. Another wonderful story and performance as I reread a fav for the fifth time.

A moving, powerful and reflective book.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-12-21

This was a joy to listen to. For years I've been a fan of Michelle Obama - I've always liked her strength, her passion to help others, her positivity and her strong devotion to her family. This book just made me appreciate her even more.

Michelle Obama is an engaging narrator and throughout the book her warmth, humour, compassion and honesty shine through. She is the Michelle Obama you've seen in interviews and with Becoming, she brings readers into her personal triumphs, losses, insecurities and struggles from her early days as a young Black girl growing up in the southside area of Chicago, to her love of education and her years at Princeton, to meeting a fellow lawyer with a 'weird name' and her eventual role as First Lady of the United States. Readers are privy to the Obama's early years as a couple, Barack's increasing involvement in politics, parenting two daughters together, his run for the presidency of the US and their eight years living in the fish bowl that is the White House.

Michelle Obama has always seemed like a regular kinda gal to me. She's a mom, wife and daughter who just happens to be living an extraordinary life. As FLOTUS, she has lived under public scrutiny trying to balance family life with the daunting workload that she bore as First Lady. She wanted to give their children a reasonably normal childhood and use her role as First Lady to make positive changes in the country she so clearly loves. She gives readers a bird's eye look at her life in the White House - the unique experiences made available to her as well as the limitations to her freedom and I appreciate that she doesn't hold back on her opinions on some of the issues that have plagued and still plague the US.

Throughout the book Michelle Obama is well-spoken, genuine and she comes off as relatable and even inspirational as she shares personal anecdotes that showcase her fears, loves, struggles and accomplishments. Some of her anecdotes had me grinning, relating to her thoughts as a wife and mother, while several caused me to tear up as I listened to her speak about the devastation and loss her country has faced.

This is a moving, powerful and reflective book that readers, especially women and those who have ever felt unseen and ignored, will appreciate. You don't have to be a Democrat (or even an American - says this proud Canadian) to enjoy this book. If you weren't a fan of Michelle Obama's before, you will be after reading this book.