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June 2014

"Gorgeous" - IN THE SHADOWS reviewed

June 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (23) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover in the shadows by kiersten white and jim di bartoloIn the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo

Reviewed by Geraldynn, age 18

“In the daylight, order ruled, fences stood, how-do-you-do’s and polite nods were the recipe. But at night, darkness rendered everything still and hush and secret. Minnie was a curator of secrets.” – Kiersten White, In the Shadows.

Gorgeous. That was my first thought upon opening this book. Glossy pages. Full-colour illustrations. The prose flows like poetry. Even the pages with text have an appealing border design. The ambitiousness of the novel’s presentation of its story makes typical paperbacks look dull in comparison. Reminiscent of the visual and written style of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (adapted into the movie Hugo), the dark fairytale mystery of The Night Circus, and the centuries-spanning story of Cloud Atlas (now also a movie), the story reads like a dream, flowing from action-packed illustrations to short, written chapters that end with increasingly sinister twists. The tone can shift from dreamy to nightmarish in a blink.

There are two main plots. Both start in the early 1900s. One, represented by text, runs on a daily timeline and is rooted in ragtime-era America. The other, presented in pictures, starts at the same time and place but soon jumps ahead, skimming through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. From London and Paris to New Orleans and Las Vegas, as well as Italy, India, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, Japan and more, the mystery seems to entangle the whole world. Depictions of various architecture, landscapes, and fashion trends of different time periods and cultures make for a beautiful reading experience.

Continue reading ""Gorgeous" - IN THE SHADOWS reviewed" »

Exercises come in all shapes and sizes: The Obstacle Course

June 30, 2014 | stephen | Comments (12) Facebook Twitter More...

Hello digital friends, I thought that this week would be a good time to put my blog into perspective so you can understand what I'm blogging about and why. At the end of the summer I will be participating in an obstacle filled endurance race called Tough Mudder. This race is absolutely brutal on the body. I'm talking about 18-20km of mud, fire, hills and barbed wire which translates into a course that takes anywhere between 4-6 hours to finish.

Obstacle bookNow naturally, physical fitness is a big component of the race but given it's length and the obstacles you face, a significant amount of focus and mental endurance is also required. That is why this summer I have chosen to blog about exercises of all shapes and sizes. 

You guys can follow me every week as I prepare to accomplish this crazy goal. 

My questions for those of you out there this week are:

Have any of you ever done something similar before?

Does anyone else think this is pretty cool or do you think, as my mother puts it, "Let me get this straight, you're paying money to torture yourself?"

Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD – This Trek is not for the Faint of Feels

June 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (12) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover the road by cormac mccarthyThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

Reviewed by Mary Ann

I have always regarded literature as contrary to what many see as the time-honoured tradition of fiction – escapism. Whether it be the intriguingly cold mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Tolkien's quaint Shire landscape, or even a brief skimming of Chatelaine for just the right way to consume brownies and lay off the pounds; emerging from a good reading often leaves us with a sensation akin to dark waters. We have come back from another world unlike our own.

And while I too have the same mentality, I also highly disagree. One may immerse oneself in a fictional realm for the sake of rewinding from real-world troubles, but there is also a deeper meaning to most literature that leaves me vigorously believing that these worlds so unlike our own reality exist to help us understand our reality.

Philosophies aside, this is still a review, and I bring up all this jargon solely because Cormac McCarthy's The Road displays what seems to be almost a symbol of what I was just blabbering on about to your poor little retinas.

Following the journey of a father and son known only as “the man and the boy”, it's a post-apocalyptic novel that spans over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth. They are each other's “world entire,” and exist only out of love and dedication. The land is filled with ash and devoid of living animals and vegetation. Many of the remaining human survivors have resorted to cannibalism, scavenging the detritus of city and country alike for flesh. And . . . that's about as much of the plot that I can detail without really delving into what might be spoilers, or parts of the story that would demand more explaination.

Continue reading "Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD – This Trek is not for the Faint of Feels" »

Weekly Trivia 1: The Eragon Edition

June 30, 2014 | stephen | Comments (10) Facebook Twitter More...

EragonHello digital friends! Welcome to our weekly book trivia contest.

Every week we will be posting a new trivia question for your guessing pleasure.

Your trivia question this week comes courtesy of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle.

In the novel Eragonour protagonist finds an egg which eventually hatches into a beautiful blue dragon.

Your question (for a sweet prize) is: How did Eragon's dragon Saphira get her name?

We have two prizes to give away, one for the first person to give the correct answer and another for the person who gives us the most creative answer!

We've only got a couple of rules:

1) You have to be a resident of the city of Toronto to win a prize.

2) Your answer has to be submitted by Thursday (July 3) at 11:59 PM if you want to win.

3) You need to provide us with a valid email address if you want to be considered for the prize. Otherwise, how will we get in touch with you? Don't worry, we'll keep your address secret (see below for more info).

Winners will be contacted at the end of the week.


Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected] 

A painful read -- BORN UGLY by Beth Goobie reviewed

June 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (9) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover born ugly by beth goobie

Born Ugly, by Beth Goobie


Reviewed by Zara

Born Ugly was a really painful read, following the life of sixteen-year-old Shirley (Shir) Janice Rutz, who is constantly abused, both by her peers at school and by her own mother, because of her physical deformities. We explore her beer-addicted world, where the only places where she is comfortable in is  Bill's Grocer, where she works (all of her earnings going to the purchase of illegal beer), and Myplace, a quiet, green place where she likes to sip her beer.  

The first few chapters are not very interesting, and I was considering putting the book down, especially since the vocabulary was not very advanced, and I wasn't really learning any new words. However, I like to finish a book once I have started it, and I was curious to see how it ended. And so, I pushed my way though it. It gets better near the end of the book, when we see some crime-fighting, drugs, and action. Shir meets someone who changes her life, and she learns that people are not always as they seem. 

I really was shocked at the way people treated Shir. It was simply obnoxious, even going to the point where they smear dog poo on her face. 

If you are having self-esteem issues, this book is for you. It really helped my self-esteem. Goobie really convinces us that true beauty is on the inside, and that we always matter. She reminds us that we can always make the situation better for ourselves.

Overall, I'd say this book is worth reading.

Surviving on THE RULE OF THREE - a review of a book by Eric Walters

June 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (13) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover the rule of 3 by eric waltersThe Rule of Three, by Eric Walters

Reviewed by Joseph, age 16 

 What is "the rule of three"?

1) A person can last 3 minutes without air.

2) A person can last 3 days without water.

3) A person can last 3 weeks without food.

Imagine if all of a sudden the electricity went out and anything powered by a computer stopped working. No one would be able to turn lights on at home, cook food, use any water facilities, use a computer, watch television, use their phone, drive their cars; it's madness! How could anyone manage to live through a time like this?

One shocking afternoon, this catastrophe strikes sixteen-year-old Adam Daley's high school and he soon finds out that this event has spread further than anyone would have thought. With nothing working, many grow angry and fear that their region has become paralyzed because they do not know how long this problem will last for. It's amazing to see how the community begins to die within seconds. They begin to think of the long-term effects of this problem. Many realize that resources will dwindle, crises will mount, and chaos will occur, but how will everyone be able to pull through this? Adam soon understands that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival. These are the two people who help him bring together their suburban neighborhood for protection and manage to survive on their own. 

I really enjoyed this book because Eric Walters managed to put forth these questions about how a society would manage to survive if we suddenly lost something that we heavily rely on on a daily basis. His protagonist character, Adam Daley, possess the characteristics of a person who truly thinks of the "what ifs” in society and he is one of the few people who truly knows how extreme this situation has become. The book mostly focuses on how the neighbourhood comes together to survive through this crisis. What makes this book even more interesting is that the characters never find out what could have caused everything to go out so suddenly. I’m hoping that this question will be answered in the sequel, scheduled for release January 2015. 

Eric Walters' first book in this new trilogy is sure to have readers on the edge of their seats waiting for a promising and exciting sequel to surpass what we saw in this terrific story.

If you want a great book to read this summer, definitely check out The Rule of Three by Eric Walters by clicking on this Toronto Public Library link to place a hold.

Comic Book Art with Freeze DNA at the Jane/Dundas Branch

June 28, 2014 | Monica | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Cylong_by_FreezeDNALike comic books? Do you draw or want to learn how to? Then this is the workhop for you!

We are very excited to host Freeze DNA, the amazingly talented people behind Blac Ice Comics, at the Jane/Dundas branch this summer. Join us for a free comic book art workshop on Thursday, July 10th from 2-4:45 PM.

"Freeze DNA’s mandate is to design, create and educate, offering some of the most innovative and compelling products and services pushing the limits of character development and creating an educational and diverse world for kids and teens alike"

To register or to get more information, call 416-394-1014. Or just stop by the library!

Jane-dundas-library-01Comic Book Art with FREEZE DNA
Thursday July 10, 2:00 PM
Jane/Dundas Branch
620 Jane Street

Image courtesy of Freeze DNA's Deviant Art page.







Make a Zine with Hal Niedzviecki

June 28, 2014 | Thomas Krzyzanowski | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Broken Pencil CoverWhat do you know about zines?

Come to the Parkdale branch of the Toronto Public Library on July 9 to meet author, Broken Pencil founder and zine expert Hal Niedzviecki for an interactive workshop about zine culture and creation. Hal will lead a workshop on zine making and discuss why zines matter in the digital age. Bring your imagination, ideas and creativity!


Parkdale-library-02Parkdale Branch
1303 Queen St. (west of Dufferin)
Wednesday July 9, 6:30 - 7:30 PM
Call 416-393-7686 for more details

WELCOME to WORD OUT teen summer reading 2014!

June 27, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...


School's out!    WORD OUT is on!!    Join us!!!


   Pink_elephant_01Great book suggestions


Pink_elephant_02  BOOK REVIEWS by other teens


Pink_elephant_04Listings for exciting events at library branches all over Toronto


  Pink_elephant_07Engaging discussions about books and the issues they raise


Pink_elephant_12Contests, prizes and more!


Read with friends at



Get LOUD This Summer!

June 27, 2014 | Alice | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Don-t-keep-calm-get-loudI pretty much explain what I'm like by telling people I may be a grownup on the outside, but I'm about 13 to 16 on the inside... and I get totally excited by things that some adults think are not, shall we say, the most mature. Fine, whatever, it's way more fun to just go ahead and get excited about things that are awesome, right?

So that's what I'm going to be doing here all summer. Talking about things that are loud, exciting, fun, action-packed, and amazing. Things like music, graffiti art, dangerous science experiments, blockbuster movies, epidemic outbreaks, alien invasions, mythological heroes, girls who kick ass, and those rare, perfect times when everything is just so incredible, you know it's going to change you a little after the bubble bursts.

I mean, this is what summer's all about, if you ask me. Living out loud for a handful of all-too-short weeks when weather is glorious, responsibilities are fewer and lighter, barbecues are smoking, and even the sun doesn't want to go to bed early and miss the fun. And this summer? I'm planning to have some fun with you and the Word Out crew, right here.

See you on Fridays...