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I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son

Kent Russell. Knopf, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-35230-7

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Russell, who has written for the New Republic, n+1, and other outlets, provides an intriguing but uneven collection of previously published essays. At their most provocative, the pieces examine the pleasure and excitement that violence can stir in people. Russell devotes an essay to a childhood friend, Ryan, who joins the army seeking the adrenaline rush of gunplay. A profile of a hockey player explains how, after being caught up in fighting during games unwillingly, he found himself in the new position of hockey goon, and thereby a key team member. These selections and others, including one about a man who self-immunizes by getting bitten by venomous snakes and an account of a gathering of "juggalos" (fans of the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse), showcase Russell's clean, clear style. He shrewdly shifts gears for two final, less dark selections about Amish baseball and a man who moves to an island off northeastern Australia, to "take [himself] out of the world." Russell is less compelling in the sections about his own life, such as when he justifies his interest in getting a lesson from horror-makeup guru Tom Savini. His justification is unnecessary; getting to know these fascinating people on the page is reward enough. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Montcalm & Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed the Course of Canadian History

Roch Carrier, Trans. from the French by Donald Winkler. HarperCollins Canada, $34.99 (327p) ISBN 978-1-44343-688-5

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The Battle of the Plains of Abraham lives on in Quebec history as a singular misfortune. Carrier (The Hockey Sweater) delves into the world that begot the battle through the lives and actions of the two opposite commanding generals, James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. The book follows their separate paths until they fatefully collide above Quebec City and the after-math. Carrier keeps his account factual and unembellished, though there is the occasional hint of French bias. Readers can glean what life was like in the French colony and how the wars be-tween France and England impacted everyone who lived there. Carrier shows that the colony's higher ups profited handsomely at the expense of New France, quickening its ultimate takeover. Squabbling between Montcalm and the governor didn't help either. Despite all the strikes against the French colonists, they stood against the English, resisting in pockets even after the battle on the plains. Carrier posits that everyone, from the Canadien farmers to the soldiers to the generals to the colony as a whole, were pawns in a power struggle between their rulers. This is an enlightening account of a long lamented battle in its greater context. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Hockey Card Stories: True Tales from Your Favorite Players

Ken Reid. ECW Press (Legato Publishers Group, U.S. Dist.; Jaguar Book group, Canadian dist.), $19.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-77041-197-5

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Early in his love letter to the hockey cards of his youth, Sportsnet anchor Reid gets the scoop on a 1981-82 Paul Baxter card—how he lead the NHL in penalty minutes, and why he looks so ornery on the card itself. It turns out the book is as much for the author as the reader: "I, for one, understand why I've always been obsessed with this simple-looking hockey card. It turns out there is quite a story behind it." There are few rabbit holes that Reid didn't go down, hunting some incredibly obscure names (hello Chuck Luska!) and some big game (Orr, Potvin, both Esposito brothers). Readers will find themselves continually flipping back to the page with the reproduction of the hockey card. What the reader won't do is plunk down on the couch and read it in one sitting, as the stories, while well-written and entertaining, are repetitive consumed one after another. Another flaw can be solved with a sequel—these are all players from the 1970s to the early 1990s, leaving open the question whether or not today's NHLers love their cards the way their predecessors did. Agent: Brian Wood. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Build the Strength Within: Create the Blueprint for Your Best Life Yet

Deborah Carlin. SelectBooks, $16.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59079-147-9

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Psychologist Carlin weaves her own stories of grief and struggle through this uneven but insightful self-help tome, which engages readers with the "notion of the strength within you." Building a blueprint for life is Dr. Carlin's rejoinder to the laissez-fair belief that life will just work out without any plan. Each section of the book introduces an influential thinker, such as Erikson or Maslow, and discusses how their theories can be applied to real life. Some readers may feel lost in Carlin's patchwork of quotes, material printed directly from Wikipedia (acknowledged in the book), and self-assessment exercises. Others may find her tone, at times, overly effusive, as in this quote: "The secret, and I really do mean that it is a big, huge, fat secret, is that your mind is what controls your world and directs the course of events in your life." Yet, after she explains neuroplasticity—the malleability of the brain—readers will realize her enthusiasm is rooted in scientific fact. In spite of some flaws, this book is set apart from others in the crowded self-help field by Carlin's personal, self-effacing style—rare is the psychologist willing to pull back the professional veil and let us see his humanity. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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150 Best Indian, Asian, Caribbean and more Diabetes Recipes

Sobia Khan. Robert Rose (Firefly Books, North American dist.), $24.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0491-8

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Cooking diabetic-friendly cuisine can be challenging, especially while remaining true to particular cultural heritages. In this cookbook, Khan, a professor of food and nutrition at the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College in Toronto, has created recipes to help people enjoy authentic multicultural cuisine while also preventing and managing diabetes. Recipes are organized by region, starting with South Asian cuisine from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, then Chinese, Hispanic and Caribbean cuisine respectively. Helpful features include nutritional charts and ingredient descriptions. Cooking tips and advice for healthy eating are sprinkled throughout the book. Some recipes include useful suggestions for side dishes to complement the meal. A multicultural pantry list will guide the aspiring chef on where to buy ingredients not typically found in the conventional kitchen. Even if diabetes is not a particular concern, readers wishing to experience cuisine from these regions while remaining mindful of a healthy lifestyle can spice up their usual fare choosing dishes from the myriad of soups, stews, curries, stir-fries and kabobs featured in this book. Photographs are beautiful but sparse, clustered on a few pages in two sections of the book. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book of Greats

Michael Ulmer. FENN/McClelland & Stewart (Random House, North American dist.), $40 (256p) ISBN 978-0-771-08901-5

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The Toronto Maple Leafs do not lack for history, legends, stories—and chutzpah. In the introduction to the photo-heavy coffee-table book, which it must be noted, is published in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they lay claim to being "the most popular hockey team on the planet." Fortunately, the rest of the pages aren't filled with such boasts. Instead, Ulmer (If the Cup Could Talk) lays out short biographies on many great Leafs. Setting aside the flaw of trying to place players within a decade—Bobby Baun in the 1950s? Tie Domi wasn't the player in the 2000s that he was in the 1990s—it's hard to argue with the names of players, but what about key figures like superscouts Squib Walker and Bob Davidson, or trainers Tim Daly or Bob Haggert? As a Leafs-sanctioned book, it steers well clear of controversy, and there is little information about players outside of their time in the hallowed blue and white. Curiously, an executive or two is included, with current general manager Dave Nonis oddly out of place when his predecessor Brian Burke is not, but there is little detail of ownership through the years, other than shots at the miserly but colorful Harold Ballard. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Money: Master the Game

Tony Robbins. Simon & Schuster, $28 (688p) ISBN 978-1-4767-5780-3

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Self-help author Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within) delivers with a commanding book, his first in nearly two decades, designed to financially empower readers with a simple, seven-step roadmap. Distilling insights from the financial world's leading minds, Robbins explains the rules all investors need to know and shares the best strategies from those who have already mastered the money game. Ultimately, his goal is to help readers establish a guaranteed lifetime income stream. To that end, Robbins cuts through industry jargon, debunks widespread myths, and identifies investing pitfalls, such as hidden fees. He also discusses how to minimize drastic losses while increasing gains and how to stay on target in the long run. As an added bonus, he includes a chapter of Q&As with several financial luminaries, including Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen and Vanguard founder John C. Bogle. As with every area on which Robbins has given advice, commitment and follow-through are key. But after reading this book, readers will be armed with the essential tools they need to gain control of their financial future and chart a path to success. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland

Andrew Peacock. Doubleday Canada, $32.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-68259-6

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Peacock's memoir of his veterinary career in Newfoundland includes the expected inoculations, breached births and gusty weather but also a whole lot of hilarity, colorful characters and amateur hockey matches. Born and raised in Ontario, Peacock was hired straight out of vet school by the Newfoundland government on the condition that he stay for two years. He never left. Readers are treated to stories from his school interview all the way to his acceptance as a real Newfoundlander and each story is poignant and well-told. Despite much of the content being foreign to the average reader, such as cutting open a bloated cow or dealing with clients who speak a very particular and oftentimes barely comprehensible form of English, the book is eminently relatable. There's the loyal secretary, the adopted grandmother and the guy who thinks every good idea was his. There's black ice, good meals and unexpected friends. There's birth, illness and death; embarrassment, heartache, and triumph. Some of the medical descriptions can get gory, but this is an authentic look at a big animal practice. Newfoundland language, culture and geography feature prominently. Joining Peacock in his vet truck is a rollicking adventure. Agent: Robert Mackwood. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Color Knitting with Confidence: Unlock the Secrets of Fair Isla, Intarsia, and More with 30 Vibrant Colorwork Techniques

Nguyen Le. Barron's, $19.99 paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-4380-0424-2

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For anyone who's curious about colorwork knitting but feels daunted by the task, this approachable little book provides a useful introduction to a wide range of colorwork techniques and projects. Le (500 Fun Little Toys) begins her book with an "All About Color" chapter, offering a brief and useful introduction to important color concepts, terms, and combinations. Further chapters focus on specific colorwork techniques and corresponding projects. The book moves from basic colorwork techniques like striping and slip-stitch to advanced techniques like stranded and double knitting. Although there are larger projects like a man's vest and a woman's sweater, most of the projects in this collection are small, portable accessories and housewares, including darling intarsia baby mitts, double-knit coasters, fun leg warmers, a scarf with pockets, even a map of the world. The projects are user-friendly and well-designed for knitters both new to and familiar with colorwork. This handy collection is a great way to knit a bit of color into the day. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Stories of the Stranger: Encounters with Exiles and Outsiders

Martin Palmer and Katriana Hazell. Bene Factum (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-909657-44-1

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In 2012, there were 23,000 people each day displaced, dispersed, and dispossessed, driven from their homes by conflict and persecution. When refugees flee, it's often with only the clothes on their backs—and stories on their lips. Those in exile must rely on the kindness of strangers, beware of hucksters, and seek out the protection of angels in disguise. This collection of 20 short tales, drawn from holy books, legends, and modern stories, and with a preface by former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, reminds readers that meeting the stranger is risky and mysterious, although often rewarding. In "The End of the World," the founder of the Baha'i faith transforms his jailer through holy actions and prayer. "Sister Agatha's Mobile" is from a contemporary Catholic sister in Nigeria who continues offering charity, even when it's abused, such as when a stranger steals her cell phone. But why did the U.K.-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation publish a collection of short stories? Because ARC is working with the world's major faiths to prepare for "the anticipated rise in refugees and migrants triggered by ecological collapse in their home countries." In short, our sacred stories may become critical flotation devices as the seas rise. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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