Grand slam with Tom Rob Smith

While channel surfing a couple of weeks ago, I came across The Graham Norton Show on BBC Canada, a talk-show from the UK which I really enjoy. Among the guests was Noomi Repace promoting her new movie Child 44 based on the book by British author Tom Rob Smith. I'd never heard of the book, the movie or the author but the subject sounded interesting so I downloaded the book from the library. Child 44 is loosely based on the true story of a serial killer of children in Russia…

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Have you checked out McDonald’s lately?

Big things are happening under the golden arches and it started with McCafé and quality coffee to challenge Tim Hortons. I first experienced the change a few weeks ago when I encountered a large touch-screen kiosk to place my order. And, standing beside it was a real live attendant to assist this old boomer as I navigated the new technology. Not easily fooled, I quickly concluded this was just another version of printing my own boarding pass at the airport—get the customer to do the work by reducing the personal…

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An Irish perspective on French resistance

If you're a lover of historical fiction like I am, then you'll enjoy the story of an Irishman serving the French Resistance during World War II in A Country Road, a Tree by Jo Baker. When real-life Irish writer and former secretary to James Joyce Samuel Beckett experiences writers' block while living in his native Ireland, he returns to Paris in 1939 at a crucial time in world history. The Nazis' invasion of France brings an abrupt halt to ordinary life for Parisiennes and all ex-pats who have been caught…

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Thank you for your thank you

As I was reading David Eddie's Damage Control column in this morning's Globe and Mail I had pangs of guilt. A reader asked for advice on how to handle ungrateful recipients of birthday and Christmas gifts who never sent a thank you or even an acknowledgement that the "gift" was received. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends who share this concern are legion. When someone takes the time to tuck a cheque or gift card for a slice of their hard-earned income into a birthday card which they've gone to…

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Me Before You presents another perspective on the challenges of love

I had some concerns about reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes because the subject matter didn't sound like something I would really enjoy. The story is mainly told in the voice of Louise Clark, a British waitress who is single, twenty-six years old and still living in her village with her parents because they need the additional income to support the family, which includes her single-mother sister. When Louise suddenly loses her job at the Buttered Bun Café, the financial pressure on the family forces her into accepting the…

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Heather Reisman . . . you go girl!

Yesterday I had a near-brush with celebrity. Actually it was just a sighting but we won't nit-pick. While browsing the newly opened Chapters Indigo Bookstore in Toronto's Sherway Mall (they've moved across the road from their former stand-alone location on the north side of The Queensway at Highway 427) I witnessed owner Heather Reisman being photographed for publicity shots in the store. In my world of book-lovers, that qualifies as an event. It was all I could do to restrain myself from running over, giving her a big hug and…

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