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National Kahlua, Chocolate and Strawberry Day!

February 27, 2015 | Lynn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

We Canadians do not have official food days like our neighbours to the south have, but that does not mean that we cannot celebrate those same days.  Today is no exception to have a holiday, and it has at least 3 depending on which food and holiday site you visit.  Today’s foods to be celebrated and enjoyed are Kahlua, Chocolate and Strawberries.

What could you produce with ingredients?  You are only limited by your imagination and our cookbook and drink books.  And please enjoy all these ingredients responsibly.


See mix drink  Never cook sober cookbook

See Mix Drink

Learn to be your own bartender using easy to follow infographics.

Never Cook Sober Cookbook

A fun way to change up old trusted favourites by adding new flavours.


Chocolate more than 50 decadent recipes  Bake I'm yours chocolate  The complete chocolate book

Chocolate more than 50 decadent recipes

For the chocolate lover looking for elegance on their dessert platter.

Bake me I'm yours Chocolate

Tips for cake decorating and more playful chocolate treats.

The complete chocolate book

From the trusted chefs at Canadian Living.



What color is your smoothie  Luscious berry desserts  The berry bible

What color is your smoothie?

Smoothies are a popular drink in the morning and strawberries add a great punch of colour to your morning.

Luscious berry desserts 

Jazz up your winter dinner with friends with a beautiful dessert covered in berries.

The Berry Bible

Don't ignore your frozen food aisle for your fruits.  These fruits are picked at their peak and flash frozen making them just as sweet and as fresh as summer.


If you have any favourite recipes please feel free to share them.  Bon appetit!


You Can't Watch That! Freedom to Read Week: Movie Edition

February 24, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Freedom to Read Week 2015
The Canadian Library Association has kept track of materials challenged at publicly funded libraries since 2006. In 2012 for the first time DVD challenges outnumbered those of books. The DVDs below have faced challenges in Canadian libraries. 

Brazil the final cut Eastern promises Hope spring I love you phillip morris Killer joe

Sam is the victim of a clerical error in a dystopian world with out of control bureaucracy. Also, one of my favourite movies. A patron in an Ontario library felt that the movie's homosexuality, offensive language and sexual content were inappropriate.

Eastern Promises
After a young woman dies in childbirth, her midwife tries to contact the woman's family but discovers they are Russian mobsters. A British Columbia library received a complaint about the film's offensive language, violence, and graphic sexual content.

Hope Springs
A long married couple attend an intensive marriage counselling session to try and reignite their passion. A patron in a BC public library felt that the movie contains too much sexual content for a movie classified as 14+.

I Love You, Phillip Morris
This movie about a charismatic conman starring Jim Carrey was challenged in Alberta for sexually explicit content. In an Ontario library it was also challenged by a patron who believed the 14A rating was inappropriate.

Killer Joe
A young man hires a Dallas policeman/hitman to kill his mother so he can collect the insurance money. A British Columbia library received a complaint that the movie was sexually explicit.

Muppets wizard of oz Red state Shame That touch of mink World's greatest dad

The Muppets Wizard of Oz
The classic story retold by Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends was challenged in an Alberta public library by a patron who felt the tornado in the movie was age inappropriate.

Red State
Three teenagers are lured into a violent cult. It was challenged in a British Columbia library due to the film's offensive language, violence, and sexually explicit scenes.

A New York man who prefers sex without attachment reevaluates his life during a visit from his younger sister. The nudity and sexually explicit nature of the film prompted a challenge in an Ontario public library.

That Touch of Mink
Cary Grant plays a wealthy man hoping to have a fling with virginal Doris Day but she's more interested in marriage. A patron in a British Columbia public library objected to sexism and violence in the 1962 film.

World's Greatest Dad
A man who feels life has passed him by gets a chance to turn a terrible tragedy into success in this dark comedy. An Ontario public library received a complaint about the movie's offensive language and sexual content.

Please note that you can't always watch that. Toronto Public Library respects the classification system of the Ontario Film Review Board, so DVDs that are rated 14A, 18A, and R may not be signed out by younger patrons.

Celebrate your intellectual freedom everyday!

Attend Freedom to Read events at Toronto Public Library.

Provocative or Perverse? Books that Push Boundaries

February 23, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Thought-provoking. Disconcerting. Provocative. There's a probably a thousand ways to spin it, but some books can make you feel downright uneasy.

With the recent buzz about Raziel Reid's GG-winning controversial book, When Everything Feels Like The Movies, I started thinking about the types of books we read, and just how much can feel like too much.

Here are six titles that some readers have found to have pushed the boundaries when it came to sex, violence and more.

Reader beware - these aren't for the faint of heart!

When Everything Feels Like The MoviesWhen Everything Feels Like The Movies
Raziel Reid, 2014

Inspired by a real-life tragedy, Reid's debut novel follows an openly-gay teen narrator as he explores his sexuality, school troubles, and family dysfunctions.

The first young adult book to win a Governor General's Award, Reid's explicit novel has invited a lot of attention - and not all good. While some have lauded his writing to be unflinching and authentic, others consider it gratuitious and vulgar.

TV personality Lainey Lui will be defending the novel later next month in CBC's Canada Reads debates.

My Loose ThreadMy Loose Thread
Dennis Cooper, 2002

If the odd, bloody cover doesn't make you feel slightly out of sorts (The two boys resemble creepy clowns in an intimate embrace), the synopsis will most likely do the trick: Larry, a high-school senior struggling with his sexuality, is paid to kill a peer and steal his notebook, which holds information on a number of students. Thrown in the mix is a strange relationship with his younger brother, Jim, who harbours secrets of his own. Told from Larry's point-of-view, the story holds little back when it comes to violence and the nature of dark obssession.


Alyssa Nutting

Another story inspired by real events, Tampa follows Celeste Price, a young, attractive junior-high English teacher. Celeste is married to a hot cop, lives in a nice house, and drives a fast car. She's got it all...including a singular taste for 14-year-old boys. Her entire life revolves around feeding this obssession. It's hard to feel even a little sympathetic for a pedophilic predator like Celeste, and even Nutting's eloquent (but sometimes revolting) prose can't make it happen. What you do get, however, is a twisted look into the mind of a deceptive woman who will do anything to get her way. But do you really want to peek in there?

The Ages of LuluThe Ages of Lulu
Almudena Grandes, 2005 (English trans.)

Lulu starts off as a precocious fifteen-year-old who is seduced by a family friend more than a decade her senior. This sparks a strange, and sometimes scary, sexual journey that finds Lulu blurring the line between decency and perversion as she explores the darker side of love and sex.

Translated from its original Spanish, Las edades de Lulú won the Sonrisa Vertical Prize for erotic literature in 1989 when it was first written.



Nelly Arcan, 2011 (English trans.)

In Montreal, in a not-too-distant future, desperate people can buy their own deaths. An obscure company designs customized suicides for those that can prove their desires to die are authentic and absolute: after all, there are no refunds for this service. Antoinette Beauchamp fulfills the criteria, but something goes wrong and her death wish leaves her a bedridden paraplegic instead.

The powerful commentary on life and death is only compounded when you learn author Arcan committed suicide just days after this original French title was finalized.

Tabitha Suzuma, 2011

Lochan and Maya have only had each other for support through years of neglect and abuse from their parents. They've always felt more like friends than siblings. When these feelings grow into something more, they struggle with their unconventional relationship and the desperate, all-consuming love that drives it. While certainly not as explicit as some of the other titles on this list, Forbidden explores tricky and taboo territory. It isn't new (think of the Dollangangers in Flowers in the Attic), but incestuous love stories don't quite make it to the standard romance shelves either.

Some other honourable mentions for this list include:

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, 2009
Lolito by Ben Brooks, 2013

Wetlands  Lolito

Whether this list makes you want to go out and read them all, or simply know which ones to avoid, we can all be grateful that we have the choice to decide. This week is Freedom to Read Week (February 22 through 28) - it's a great time to celebrate whatever it is we're reading. Want some more ideas for reading this week? Check out the previous post of challenged titles.

If you'd like to share a provocative title you've recently read or would recommend, tweet us (@torontolibrary) or leave a comment!

You Can't Read That! Challenged Books for Freedom to Read Week

February 19, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Freedom to Read Week

February 22-28 is Freedom to Read Week. This annual event encourages all Canadians to celebrate the intellectual freedom that is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also important to recognize that threats to this freedom occur regularly. The Canadian Library Association conducts an annual survey of publicly funded libraries to identify challenges that have been received. 

These adult books have faced recent challenges but they're all available through Toronto Public Library.

Earth a visitor's guide Tales from the farm How evan broke his head The kid Killing kennedy

Earth (the Book): a Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
The human race as viewed by Jon Stewart and writers for The Daily Show. Challenged in Ontario for nudity and insensitivity.

Essex County, Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire
The story of an orphaned boy living on his uncle's farm was challenged in Ontario for offensive language.

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein
Evan's life is rocked by the arrival of a teenage son he's never met. The book was challenged in Alberta because of homosexuality, sexually explicit scenes and offensive language.

The Kid by Sapphire
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
After his mother's death, 9 year-old Abdul Jones must fend for himself. Challenged in an Ontario public library for sexual explicit scenes, violence and offensive language.

Killing Kennedy: the End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Large Print
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
An examination of the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and the significant impact of his death on American culture and society.
It faced a challenge in 2013 in Ontario for inaccuracy--specifically, the author's assertion that Kennedy was killed by a single assassin acting alone and not through a conspiracy.

Sophie crumb Styxx Warlord Wetlands What i meant to say

Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist
Artists A. Crumb and R. Crumb trace the development of their daughter’s artistic vision through an examination of her art from childhood to adulthood.
Challenged in an Alberta public library for nudity and sexually explicit images.

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon
An ancient evil has been unleashed and Styxx may be the only one who can save human race.
An Alberta library patron challenged the book for its explicit sexuality and child abuse.

Warlord: an Alex Hawke novel by Ted Bell
Large Print
MI-6 agent Alex Hawke must save the British royal family from a terrorist threat. This book was challenged in Ontario for the following reasons: anti-ethnicity; insensitivity; racism; political viewpoint; inciting hatred.

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Hospitalized, an eighteen-year-old woman reminisces about her life and her sexual experiences in this explicit novel. The book was challenged in British Columbia by a patron who was concerned that the book would be mistaken by students for a biodiversity title.

What I Meant to Say: the Private Lives of Men
A collection of essays from 28 writers about their lives as Canadian men. It was challenged in Ontario for sexism.

Read more at Freedom to Read.

Celebrate your freedom to read every week!

Attend Freedom to Read events at Toronto Public Library. 

5 Famous Couples to Celebrate Valentine's Day

February 13, 2015 | Kelli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Valentine's Day is a celebration of romantic love.  There are so many ways to celebrate the day with your significant other, such as going out for dinner, giving chocolates or flowers or just spending time together. Here's another idea: how about reading to each other.  Perhaps you could start with a book about a famous historical couple.  

If the idea is intriguing, here are a few to get you started:

An affair Cleopatra and antony Kahlo and rivera Napoleon and josephine Radioactive

An Affair to Remember: The Remarkable Love Story of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy by Christopher P. Anderson
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tray mesmerized audiences worldwide with their famous on-screen chemistry.  Yet, their 26 year love affair remained very private and shrouded in secrecy.   Drawing on extensive conversations with Hepburn and others who knew the couple, Anderson tells the poignant love story of these two movie icons. After you have read about them, watch one or more of the movies they made together.
Large Print

Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love and Politics in the Ancient World by Diana Preston
One of the world's first celebrity couples.  Set against the political backdrop of their time, Preston explores  the lives and times of  the Egyptian Queen and Roman general.  Even after two thousand years, their names still invoke thoughts of passion, scandal, and mystery. 

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera by Isabel Alcántara
Mexico's most famous 20th century artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, are remembered for their provocative paintings as well as for their deep love for each other. Their marriage was  tumultuous, filled with passion, pain, betrayal, revolution, and, above all, art.

Napoleon and Josephine: An Improbable Marriage by Evangeline Bruce
Napoleon married Josephine, a 32 year-old widow with two children in 1796.  Often away on campaign, Napoleon often sent her love letters (many of which still survive).  However, their 14 year marriage was quite volatile, as neither was faithful.   

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss
In 1891, Marie began working in the laboratory of Pierre Curie.  After they fell in love and were married, they continued to work together.  They discovered two new elements radium and polonium, recognized radioactivity as an atomic property, and won the Nobel Prize together.  Their love created a  partnership that heralded the dawn of a new scientific era.   

For more books on famous couples, have a look at  5 Books for Kim and Kanye's Wedding.




A Dream in the Night: 5 Traditional Romance Novels

February 12, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey increased the popularity of erotic novels but what if you prefer your romances without graphic sex? Toronto Public Library has options for you, too.

These books have a lot of romance but little explicit sex:

All broke down Garden spells Mambo in chinatown Only enchanting Single kiss

All Broke Down by Cora Carmack
Dylan is an activist and when she is arrested at a protest she doesn't expect that her time in jail will lead to love. Silas Moore plays football at Rusk University whose bad temper has landed him in jail, too. He has a bad reputation and seems to be a lost cause but Dylan specializes in lost causes. This book has been on a number of best of 2014 lists.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Large Print
If you like romance novels with a touch of magic realism, try this one. Claire Waverley, a caterer who uses enchanted flowers and herbs in her dishes, has her life turned upside down when her sister returns home after fleeing an abusive relationship. The sisters struggle to find common ground as they revisit their past.

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Twenty-two year-old Charlie Wong is a dishwasher at her father's Chinatown restaurant and, since the death of her mother, caregiver for her younger sister. Tired of her grim life, Charlie impulsively applies for a job at a dance studio where she blossoms; a handsome man takes notice and a romance begins.

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh
Large Print
A Napoleonic war veteran struggling to cope with the memory loss and erratic behaviour caused by a head injury meets a young widow and is captivated. Sensible Agnes Keeping never expected to remarry but is unable to resist the charming, damaged man. Library Journal selected this book as one of its best romance books of 2014.

A Single Kiss by Grace Burrowes
Young lawyer and single mother Hannah Stark is relieved to get a job with long term security at the Hartman and Whitney law firm. Her new boss Trent Knightly is immediately attracted but she is not interested. The divorced single father sets out to win her heart.

Looking for something a little spicier? 

Close Encounters: Books Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey

February 9, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

If you are a child who has stumbled across this post, you should stop reading it and go do something more fun with your Internet time. 

The movie based on E.L. James' bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey is being released on Friday February 13. Pre-release publicity has not been overwhelmingly positive. Instead of going to a theatre this weekend, why not read a book? These books are similar to Fifty Shades of Gray but be warned--they are very racy. 

Bared to you Belong to me Destined to play Eighty days yellow Submissive

Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
The chemistry between young billionaire Gideon Cross and witty, rich Eva Tramell is undeniable but can they overcome past traumas to commit to each other? The first book in the Crossfire series.

Belong to Me by Shayla Black
Submissives at a BDSM club are going missing so FBI analyst Tara Jacobs infiltrates it and unexpectedly encounters the man who once broke her heart. 

Destined to Play by Indigo Bloome
A married psychologist runs into a former lover at a conference. He promises her a weekend of passion beyond her wildest dreams but she must agree to two conditions--she must ask no questions and she must agree to lose her sight for the duration of the experience. [She should probably ask a few questions!] Book one of the Avalon Trilogy.

Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson
Summer, a feisty violinist catches the eye of Dominik, a university professor. Together they explore the world of dominance and submission. Some readers have criticised the book for its lack of romance.  The first book in the Eighty Days Trilogy.

The Submissive by Tara Sue Me
From the publisher's description: "Yearning to experience a world of pleasure beyond her simple life as a librarian, Abby offers herself to Nathaniel, to fulfill her most hidden desires." The first in The Submissive series.

Prefer something a little less explicit? A list of tame romance novels will be posted on February 12, 2015.

Everybody's Got the Fever: 5 Books about Epidemics

February 6, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

On Thursday, February 5, Toronto Public Health confirmed that a fifth person in Toronto has been infected with measles. It is described as a "small outbreak" of the highly contagious, potentially deadly disease.

These non-fiction books describe other disease outbreaks.

In the wake of the plague Ghost map Polio an american Pox an american history Typhoid mary

The Black Death
Causing 75-100 million deaths, this 14th century pandemic was most likely caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. It is considered one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.

In the Wake of the Plague: the Black Death and the World it Made by Norman F. Cantor
Although it killed 40 per cent of Europe's population, historian Cantor discovers that some positive things came out of the pandemic.

This disease is an acute infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacterium. There are 3-5 million cases each year resulting in over 100,000 deaths.

The Ghost Map: the Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
When his neighbours begin dying from cholera, Dr. John Snow worked tirelessly to find an answer. What he discovered changed cities forever.

Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that is spread person-to-person. It primarily affects children under 5 years of age. It can result in permanent paralysis or death. There is no cure but preventative vaccinations have greatly reduced the number of infections. Only 416 cases were reported internationally in 2013.

Polio: an American Story by David M. Oshinsky
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
This book documenting the search for a polio vaccine won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for History.

Smallpox is an acute contagious disease. It is believed to have caused the death of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses V in 1149 BC. In 1980 The World Health Organization announced that the disease had been eradicated.

Pox: an American History by Michael Willrich
Willrich tells the story of the United States' 1898 smallpox epidemic and the efforts to treat it with mandatory vaccinations--a campaign that caused suspicion and panic and led to a Supreme Court case.

Typhoid Fever
A bacterial infection caused by exposure to the Salmonella typhi bacterium, usually through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The World Heath Organization estimates that there are between 200,000 and 600,000 deaths each year from this disease.

Typhoid Mary: an Urban Historical by Anthony Bourdain
In 1904, an outbreak of typhoid fever in Long Island, NY was traced to cook Mary Mallon but she proved difficult to apprehend and spread the disease wherever she worked. The first asymptomatic carrier identified by doctors, she denied responsibility for the outbreaks.

Colleen McCullough: 1937-2015

January 29, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Colleen McCullough was born in Wellington, Australia to Jim, an itinerant worker and Laurie, a New Zealander with a Maori background. McCullough described her early life as nomadic and unpleasant. "Mother and father hated each other but refused to separate. They fought constantly," she said. Following Jim's death in 1973, Laurie was accused of poisoning him. It was discovered that Jim had at least two other families and she was cleared of the charges. Both McCullough and her younger brother Carl vowed to remain single.

When Colleen was 12, the family settled in Sydney where she excelled academically in both arts and science. She felt that a career in science would be most suitable for a spinster so she studied neurophysiology. She was a well-respected scientist, working in Australia, England and the United States where she ran a research laboratory and taught at Yale University Medical School.

Thorn birdsBecause she was determined to remain single, she became concerned about supporting herself in her old age. Women scientists were paid about half the salary of their male counterparts during the 1970s. She envisioned herself as a "a 70-year old spinster in a cold-water walk-up flat with one 60-watt light bulb" and decided to write a bestseller. Her first novel, Tim, was published in 1974. It did not provide the financial security she had envisioned, so McCullough polled Yale students to see what they wanted to read. With their suggestions--romance, character, and plot--she tried again. Her second book The Thorn Birds was the bestseller she had wanted. By 1977, she was a millionaire and gave up her job at Yale.

She returned to Australia to write full time. Because their relationship was so strained that she did not want to live on the same continent as her mother, McCullough settled on remote Norfolk Island, 1400 km from mainland Australia. In 1984, she married Ric Robinson describing him as "nicest man I'd ever met".

She died of apparent kidney disease on January 29, 2015 on Norfolk Island.

Some of her books:

Angel Antony and cleopatra Bittersweet Independence of miss mary bennet The Prodigal Son


Antony and Cleopatra


The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

The Prodigal Son

DeflateGate: 5 Books about More Important Football Issues

January 28, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The victory of the New England Patriots in the January 18th American Football Conference Championship game has been called into question. It has been discovered that 18 of the 20 footballs used by the team were significantly underinflated. Underinflated footballs are easier to grip in cold weather and may travel farther. Because each team plays with its own balls, this would have aided only the Patriots whose victory in the game sent them to the Superbowl.

People are taking this very seriously and that's sad because American football has actual problems that are more important than ball psi (pounds per square inch). Here are a few books that talk about football’s other issues.

Against football Concussion inc Game over League of denial Scoreboard baby

Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto by Steve Almond
Almond, a lifelong football fan has become increasingly concerned the game, troubled by its violence, corruption, racism, economic exploitation of poor youth and misogeny. Particularly troublesome to Almond is the NFL's business model, which places moneymaking ahead of the welfare of its players.

Concussion, Inc.: the End of Football as We Know It by Irvin Muchnick
Muchnick investigates the rising concerns about concussion in all levels of football from peewee to the NFL and speculates about how this will ultimately change the game.

Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and the Culture of Silence by Bill Moushey and Bob Dvorchak
A look at the child sex abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State, specifically at the possible cover up by university officials who may have turned a blind eye to the abuse allegations "in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity".

League of Denial: the NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for the Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
The compelling story about the discovery of the prevalence of devastating head injuries in football and the fight for recognition from the NFL was the winner of the 2014 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing.

Scoreboard Baby: a Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry
The remarkable 2000 season of the University of Washington Huskies ended with a Rose Bowl victory but for journalists Armstrong and Perry, the discovery of rampant misconduct among the team's players was disturbing. Even more astonishing, the authors uncovered evidence  that the behaviour was enabled by university administration, law enforcement and the media.

Superbowl XLIX will be played on Sunday, February 1, 2015.

Welcome to The Buzz...About Books -- the official blog of Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club.