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In Touch: Books about long-distance love

March 27, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Girl on Vintage Telephone
Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

On March 27th, 1884, the first long-distance phone call was made between Boston and New York. While that was considered pivotal in its time, our long-distance communications have grown quite a bit since then. Now we've got not only long-distance phone calls, but emails, texts and sessions on webcam too.

Here are some books that explore the challenges that come with keeping in touch with loved ones, no matter where you are.

Falling Blossom: A British officer's enduring love for a Japanese woman
By Peter Pagnamenta, 2006

Arthur Hart-Synnot was posted in Japan and fell in love with a local woman, Masa. As a British officer, he was forced to move multiple times over his career. Despite seeing each other only for short periods over the course of a decade, Arthur and Masa kept in touch through letters that fueled their dedication to each other until the very end. This is a tragic true story that includes many of their original letters, translated from Japanese.

The Geography of You and Me
By Jennifer E. Smith, 2014
(Also available in eBook)

When teens Lucy and Owen meet on an elevator in Manhattan in the midst of a blackout, there's an immediate spark. But as they both go back to their homes - Lucy to Scotland, and Owen out west - their connection is put to the test. A trail of emails and postcards charts their relationship over the course of a year in this thoughtful young adult book.

By Rainbow Rowell, 2015

Georgie and Neal's marriage has been slightly strained for a while. When she puts her career ahead of their family Christmas - with only two days notice - things really start to fall apart. But when Georgie discovers a way to communicate with the past version of her husband in a strange take on time travel, she thinks there might just be a way to make their love whole again.

The Notebook
By Nicholas Sparks, 1996

If you've yet to read a Nicholas Sparks' novel, and would like to try one, this is required reading (a big box of tissues is optional). It's got lost lovers, forbidden romance, and of course, a stack of love letters that Noah Calhoun writes to Allie Nelson while they are separated by circumstance and societal pressures. 

The Book of Strange New Things
By Michel Faber, 2014

I've recommended this book before, but it warrants a repeat mention, in case you missed it the first time around. In the not-so-distant future, Peter, a pastor, is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to travel to a planet light years away to spread the gospel. The mission doesn't come without a price, however. His beloved wife, Bea, is left behind, waiting for him to return. Through inter-galactic transmissions, they share their vastly different experiences. Can their marriage survive planets apart?

Upcoming Books to Movies: Spring 2015

March 20, 2015 | Kelli | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Spring is here! While waiting for it to finally get warm outside, why not spend the time getting prepared for the spring movie season. Here are some of the books that have been made into movies, which will be released into theatres over the next few months. 


Insurgent, the second book in Veronica Roth's popular trilogy, arrives in theatres today. The story of Tris and Four which began in the book (and movie) Divergent continues with them now on the run and hunted by the Erudite leader, Jeanine. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. 

Also available in:


Prone gunman Longest ride Child 44 True story Far from the madding

The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette (Movie title is The Gunman)
Martin Terrier is a sniper on a mercenary assassination team. After he kills the minister of mines of the Congo, he is forced into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he wants out of the organization but becomes the target of a hit squad himself.

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
The story of a star-crossed love affair between the young Luke and Sophia. As their relationship is tested, Sophia and Luke make a connection with Ira, whose memories of his own romance with his beloved Ruth inspire the young couple.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
In Stalin's Soviet Union, former policeman and military hero, Leo Demidov, is arrested, demoted, and denounced, and suspects that a serial killer is in the midst of this turn of events. With only his wife at his side, Leo must find and stop a criminal that the State will not admit even exists.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpla by Michael Finkel.  (Movie title is True Story)
In 2002, Michael Finkel was fired from the New York Times for fabricating a character in a story. Just as this was about to come out, he learned that a man named Christian Longo had stolen his identity. Sensing both a story and an opportunity for redemption, Finkel contacted Longo and initiated a relationship that would grow increasingly complex.
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors and each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life.

March is Umbrella Month

March 19, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

According to the good people at Days of the Year, March is Umbrella Month. People have no doubt been seeking shelter from the elements throughout the ages. Using large leaves as a means of shade may have led to the development of the parasol in Ancient Egypt about 3500 years ago. These early umbrellas were used by royalty to protect their skin from the sun. The idea of a waterproof umbrella comes from China in 11th century B.C.

Today umbrellas are available in a huge variety of colours and patterns. They even show up on book covers from time to time:

After it rains Beautiful foolds Buddha in the attic First sight One step too far

After it Rains by Bill Haugland
After 45 years as a broadcast journalist Bill Haugland has turned to writing. After it Rains is his first collection of short stories.

Beautiful Fools: the Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo
Scott has been toiling away in Hollywood while Zelda has been in and out of mental hospitals on the East coast. This novel is a fictionalized account of a Cuban vacation they took together--their final vacation, as it turns out.

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
The story of 8 "picture brides" who came to the United States from Japan in the early 1900s.

First Sight by Danielle Steel
Large Print
A busy fashion designer doesn't think she has time for love; then she meets a handsome French surgeon and reconsiders.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
Large Print
A woman leaves behind her comfortable suburban life to completely reinvent herself. What is she running from?

Please note that these books are only moderately useful protection from the elements and do not replace proper umbrellas. 

Cookbooks that I Actually Cook From

March 13, 2015 | Melanie | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

I love to cook. I don't always have time to cook from scratch every day, but I try to make a new recipe at least twice a week. 

Despite owning a lot of cookbooks, I always turn to the library's extensive cookbook collection for inspiration. Sometimes after borrowing the library's cookbooks, I will decide they are good enough to warrant purchasing a copy for my personal cookbook collection at home.

I've added so many cookbooks to my collection that they often just languish on my bookshelf - I usually forget to cook from them. The past few months I've made more of an effort to cook from my cookbook collection. I've also refrained from buying them for myself - I can always borrow the book again if I really need to.  

Here is a list of cookbooks that I really enjoy and cook from on a regular basis.  

  Toronto Star Looneyspoons

  Family Meals Indian Slow cooker Tofu Cookery


Toronto Star Cookbook, by Jennifer Bain

I like reading the food section of the Toronto Star, but often I don't cook the recipes that are in the newspaper. This book came out a couple of years ago, and I decided to buy it after reading an interesting article about the making of this cookbook. The dishes in this cookbook definitely reflect the amazing diversity of Toronto. A lot of recipes can be made with using grocery  store ingredients, but some will require trips to certain parts of this city to find them. All of the recipes I've made were excellent: Pad Thai (Pg. 169),  Carrot Pie (Pg. 144), and Parsnip Soup (Pg. 76).

Looneyspoons Collection, by Janet and Greta Podleski

The food in this book is mostly low fat and healthy, made using grocery store ingredients. Every recipe I've made tastes really good. If you can get past the cheesy humourous recipe titles, the recipes are excellent and very simple to follow. I'm embarrassed to admit, but I've made Smackaroni and Cheese (Pg. 131) so often, that I have the recipe memorized!  

Family Meals, by Michael Smith

This is one of my newer acquisitions, but I think it's fantastic. I've watched Michael Smith's shows on the Food Network for a long time, and I really like how his recipes are made using simple wholesome ingredients, but they aren't overly pretentious or complicated. The House Red Sauce recipe (Pg. 84) for tomato sauce, is my new standby recipe. His Just-add-water Noodle Jar recipe (Pg. 44) is really good and simple to make. All of the recipes have beautiful pictures to accompany them - there isn't a recipe in this book that I don't plan on cooking.

Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes, by Anupy Singala

I absolutely love Indian food, but I find that sometimes the Indian food in restaurants can be greasy. What's great about this cookbook is that her recipes are made in the slow cooker and usually with very little oil.  I've easily found all of the spices for the recipes at any Indian grocery store.  very single recipe from this book has been fantastic. Some of my favourite recipes are Chicken Tikka Masala (Pg. 109) and Lamb Keema (Pg. 115). The first part of the book is dedicated to some delicious (and cheap!) dried bean and lentil recipes. Most of these recipes are very easy to make, and after cooking all day in the slow cooker they taste amazing.

Tofu Cookery, by Louise Hagler

A vegan oldie but goodie; it is without a doubt the best vegan/vegetarian cookbook I've ever used. This is a reprint of the same book that was published in the 1980s - long before vegan food was considered a cuisine. The picture quality isn't great - food photography has definitely improved in the past thirty years! But if you can get beyond the pictures, the recipes themselves are fantastic. BBQ Tofu (Pg. 55) is quite possibly the best tofu I've ever had. Tofu Foo Yong (Pg. 97) actually tastes exactly like egg foo young, but without the eggs. If you are vegan, vegetarian or just interested in tofu, I think this is one of the best cookbooks to try.

The library has an amazing cookbook collection, they can be a great resource for inspiration for your next culinary adventure. What are some of your favourite cookbooks?

Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015: Death has the Last Word

March 12, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...
Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Terry Pratchett was open about living with Alzheimer's disease and so his death is not a complete shock. Nevertheless I am devastated. I am not a fantasy reader but would always make an exception for Pratchett. He made me laugh. A lot. My favourite character was Death who appeared in numerous Discworld novels including my favourite, Hogfather.

I was writing a very sincere obituary but I've scrapped it to share some of my favourite quotes from his books. 

Reaper man Sourcery Guards guards Mort Unseen academicals

"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
Death thought about it.
CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.

A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.
Guards Guards

He'd been wrong, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a flamethrower.

Albert grunted. "Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?"
Mort thought for a moment.
"No," he said eventually, "what?"
There was silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, "Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve 'em right."

“The female mind is certainly a devious one, my lord."
Vetinari looked at his secretary in surprise. "Well, of course it is. It has to deal with the male one.”
Unseen Academicals

Night watch Going postal Small gods Jingo Last continent

But here's some advice, boy. Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions.
Night Watch

People flock in, nevertheless, in search of answers to those questions only librarians are considered to be able to answer, such as "Is this the laundry?" "How do you spell surreptitious?" and, on a regular basis, "Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.”
Going Postal

Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off.
Small Gods

Give a man a fire and he's warm for the rest of the day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.

"Ook," said the Librarian.
The Last Continent

Terry Pratchett died peacefully at home with his cat on his bed and his family around him on Thursday March 12, 2015. 

Have Some Pie on Pi Day

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

Pi shirtIf you were to measure the circumference of a circle, then divide it by its diameter, you will always get the same result (depending on how accurately you measure, of course). That number is π (pi) and it is approximately 3.1415926...

On March 14 1988, physicist Larry Shaw organized the first Pi Day celebration at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Staff and patrons marched around in a circle, then ate pie. Simple and elegant.

Pi Day is celebrated around the world every year but 2015 is special; it is Ultimate Pi Day. Once every century, the numbers representing the date (3/14/15) are the same as the first 5 digits of pi (3.1415).

If you want to take the celebration to its extreme you can celebrate Ultimate Pi Moment which occurs at 9:26.53 (3.141592353).

Some people mark the occasion by participating in a 3.14 mile (5.05334 km) run and probably enjoy some pie after.

Personally, I'm going to celebrate Pi Day by wearing my favourite t-shirt and maybe eating some pie because there's never a bad reason to have pie.

Here are some cookbooks that will help with the celebration.

Best mini pie recipes Better homes and gardens 365 pies Crazy about pies Fine cooking pies and crisps

175 Best Mini Pie Recipes by Julie Anne Hession

Better Homes and Gardens 365 Pies and Tarts

Crazy About Pies: Irresistible Pies for Every Sweet Occasion by Krystina Castella

Fine Cooking Pies and Crisps: Over 100 Sweet and Savory No-Fail Recipes

Not so humble pies Pies and tarts Pie love Pie school

Not-So-Humble Pies: An Iconic Dessert, All Dressed Up by Kelly Jaggers

Pies and Tarts: The Definitive Guide to Classic and Contemporary Favorites from the World's Premier Culinary College by Kristina Petersen Migoya

Pie Love: Inventive Recipes for Sweet and Savory Pies, Galettes, Pastry Creams, Tarts, and Turnovers by Warren Brown

Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter by Kate Lebo

Rats! 5 Novels about the Unjustly Accused

March 9, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Two Black rats (Rattus rattus) in the Hagenbeck Zoo

Scientists in Norway have recently uncovered evidence that giant gerbils and not rats were responsible for the black death in 14th century Europe. Briefly, they examined climate data and discovered that the plague flourished in years where the black rat population would have declined due to unfavourable weather conditions. 

Innocent black rats, like the ones shown here, have been unfairly taking the blame for centuries.

These novels are about people falsely accused of crimes:

Big exit Crooked letter  crooked letter Dear daughter Never go back Wash this blood clean from my hand

The Big Exit by David Carnoy
Richie Forman spent 7 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Recently released, he becomes a suspect in the murder of the man who framed him and stole his girlfriend.

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
When Larry Ott's high school girlfriend disappeared, the people in his small Mississippi town suspected that he'd killed her even though her body was never found. Now many years later, another young woman is missing and Ott is once again the prime suspect.

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Large Print
Celebutante Janie Jenkins was convicted of the murder of her mother. Now released on a technicality, she is determined to find the real killer.

Never Go Back by Lee Child
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Jack Reacher has dinner plans but he arrives to pick up his date, she has been arrested on questionable charges. When he is accused of murder himself, Jack takes action, breaking them both out of jail so they can get to the bottom of things. 

Wash this Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas
In Quebec for training, Commissaire Adamsberg becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a young woman and must fight to clear his name.

Photo: By Kilessan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Dig A Little Deeper: Books About Subterranean Shenanigans

March 6, 2015 | Andrea | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Subterranean fiction as a genre has been around for a while, but the recent discovery of a mysterious tunnel in the Black Creek Parkland captivated Toronto's collective imagination and inspired countless conspiracy theories and Twitter jokes. Although the truth has come to light, here are some topical reads for the weekend:
The Innocent by Ian McEwan The King's Grave by Philippa Langley The Man Cave Book by Mike Yost Subterranean by James Rollins Tunnels by Roderick Gordon

The Innocent by Ian McEwan

A post-WWII spy thriller featuring a secret tunnel and some grisly plot twists along the way.

The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones

Sometimes, digging up buried things leads to the resolution of an ancient mystery. The fascinating true tale of forensics and history intersecting in the lost grave of a long-dead king.

The Man Cave Book by Mike Yost and Jeff Wilser

A collection of "man caves" and interviews with the men who built them. A reviewer on Goodreads notes, "A lot of them are over the top, but they are also very personal, and the pride of their owners shows."

Subterranean by James Rollins

Jules Verne meets Jurassic Park in this sci-fi adventure about a team of scientists exploring what lies beneath the Antarctic ice.

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

The first book in this bestselling children's series follows a boy as he tries to find his father and stumbles upon an underground civilization instead.


Fiction about subways


Online Chat with Kim Echlin--Tonight!

March 4, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Kim EchlinTonight Toronto Public Library's online book club will be hosting a chat with Kim Echlin whose latest novel Under the Visible Life was published yesterday. Her previous novel, The Disappeared was nominated for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 

Under the Visible Life tells the story of two women whose talent for music leads them to a powerful friendship. A Quill and Quire review calls it "nothing short of a masterpiece", comparing it favourably with Margaret Laurence's The Diviners. 

The chat takes place on Wednesday March 4, 7-8 PM.

It's easy to join our chat. Click the link below to open our chat site. You can participate from any Internet connection. 

Kim Echlin Online Chat

Curious about the process? Watch this very short video about online chatting with Book Buzz. 

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!


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