Category Archives: Five Star

‘Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simple Satisfying Plant-based Recipes’ by Angela Liddon


When Oh She Glows came onto my kitchen table, I was thrilled to have a cookbook which I could feel confident using if I had vegan guests coming over, but I could also use these simple and wholesome recipes everyday, as is, or by adding a bit of meat, cheese, or milk. I loved this cookbook immediately and have gotten quite clever about locating things in my grocery store like almond flour and sorghum and nutritional yeast. Grocery stores have caught on and are making Bob’s Red Mill products widely available and offer handy ‘health food sections’ where the ingredients can be found. I didn’t know how much I would use this cookbook when I got it, but it has become my ‘go-to’ right alongside Looneyspoons!

I was excited to learn that Angela Liddon has another cookbook out with an ‘everyday’ focus, and thanks to my children and Mother’s Day, I have been able to start enjoying this book as well, though I find everyday things in both of these books. It’s just more of her recipes and there are some really good ones in it. Love the salads, the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies recipe, interesting things for breakfast like Apple Pie Overnight Oats and a vast selection of smoothies. There is a large section featuring ‘Homemade Staples’ like 9-Spice Mix and Lemon Tahini Dressing that might be handy to keep on hand. Healthy eating couldn’t be easier!

If you are a fan of Angela Liddon you probably already subscribe to her blog, but did you know she has an iPad and iPhone app? Cook from Oh She Glows using your favourite device! Check your meal ideas on the train on the way home before you stop off at the store!!  Special search options and features of the app include the same elegant photography as in the books, listing capabilities, an anti-lock feature keeping your screen from going dark while cooking, and the ability to cross off ingredients from the list as you include them in the recipe!!

‘The Quality of Silence’ by Rosamund Lupton


Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska and are met at the airport by a policeman instead of her husband. The police are convinced that Matt has died in a tragic fire but Yasmin refuses to believe this. Within hours she and her young daughter are driving across the frozen wilderness where nothing grows, and tears can freeze in an instant. In round the clock dark they search for Ruby’s father and as they travel ever deeper over a silent land and into an approaching storm they become aware that they are being followed.

This stylish and unique literary thriller has it all: not only is it beautifully written and gives the reader a meaningful glimpse into what it is to be deaf, it has edge-of-your seat suspense, memorable characters, current and relevant issues, multiple twists in the plot, and some glorious and terrifying descriptions of the Arctic landscape in all its beauty and deadly darkness. It contains not only an exploration of an extraordinary Arctic land, but also the interior landscape of a profoundly deaf child.

The author makes you experience the biting cold, the sting of grief, the drive to survive, the weight of responsibility, the love of family, the mustering of courage, the agony of defeat, and the triumph of overcoming. Atmospheric and gripping, this is the kind of gem I look for where literary excellence and commercial readability meet.

‘The Aunts Come Marching’ by Bill Richardson and Cynthia Nugent


(Preschool – 3) Thanks to Jessica for putting me onto this fabulous musical counting book with a catchy marching tune. Road tested with our new grandchild, this slightly wacky but delightful book is already a favourite both with children and adults (always my benchmark with picture books)! The illustrations are such fun, the repetitions irresistible, and in case the tune  is unfamiliar, there is a helpful musical score included. What a great introduction to various instruments as well! The eccentric aunts (not ants) come marching one by one, two by two, etc., all playing loud instruments and bound on staying for awhile. Oh help!! Dad would like to be marching (or swinging) to a slightly less frenetic drumbeat…in his hammock!

‘The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit’ by Michael Finkel

If voluntary withdrawal from all human contact were an extreme sport, Christopher Knight could be the best in the world. On a whim he disappeared one day and lived alone in the woods in all seasons for 27 years. In all that time he interacted with another person only once–he said ‘Hi’ to someone on a trail. He never built a fire, not even in winter, for fear of being sighted, using a cookstove instead. Although he felt guilty about it, part of his ability to survive depended on breaking into nearby unoccupied camps and cabins to steal food, books, batteries, and other supplies. Because he never stole much of great value, the regular thefts were something that puzzled and terrorized the cottage dwellers and local law enforcement officers. His decades long sojourn came to an end when he was finally caught and charged for more than 1000 break-ins. When he was captured he was clean shaven and nicely dressed.

Michael Finkel, a journalist for the New York Times was the only personal Knight would tell his extraordinary story to and even that took some doing. His ability to get the details from Knight is as amazing as the account itself. It took Finkel three years of full time work to write these 191 pages. He was dedicated to getting it right and making it as accurate and compelling as possible.

I couldn’t put this remarkable book down and found it haunting and thought provoking. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

‘Ragged Company’ by Richard Wagamese


“When hands on the street are held out, it isn’t always alms that are beggared; it’s life, contact, touch, generosity of spirit…”

Ragged Company is about a group of homeless people who win the lottery (13.5 million) but can’t collect because they don’t have a fixed address! It’s been on my to-read pile for ages but I bumped it to the top after the recent passing of this great Canadian author Richard Wagamese. Like Medicine Walk, this book is a real, elegant, earthy, funny, and gentle story well told.  Parts of it are delicious reflective prose and though it isn’t a quick read, I did fly through it and couldn’t put it down. It is deeply compelling and healing as a human reflection on the meaning of ‘home’ but also is intriguing to see what happens to people when they suddenly have an unlimited source of money and go from getting enough for each day to having enough for each day. Wagamese explores the development of the inner lives of four homeless people, as well as the lonely jaded journalist who befriends them and the lawyer who helps them. They become a rather odd ragged company, but isn’t that what all of us are in the end?

What does it mean to belong, to be needed, to be free, and to be in community? After reading this book I feel even more strongly that when giving to the homeless it should always include a gesture of  human connection as well…get a name, have a brief conversation, give a blessing–do not allow them to be invisible. Do not make assumptions about them or consider them all alike–they each have a unique past and a story, as do we all. Wagamese turns our conventional ideas upside down and makes us think in new ways about winners and losers, rich and poor, bondage and freedom, love and friendship, value and worthlessness, support and community, faithfulness and rejection…all through a powerful story. Rest in peace Richard Wagamese. You have taught us that we are story and we are grateful.

The New York Times Obituary

‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman

a-man-called-ovestarstarstarstarstarFull marks for this translation from Sweden. It’s a hilarious life affirming and heartbreaking story much like Olive Kitteridge or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It seems that Ove (rhymes with groove with a ‘uh’ sound afterwards [oo-vuh]–see pronunciation video below) is a nasty, grumpy old man but he also has a great capacity for love. People are not always what they seem and if they behave in a certain way, there may well be a very good reason for that. This does not excuse bad behaviour but it does remind us to show grace and not make assumptions about people too quickly. Ove-rarching themes in the novel (sorry, couldn’t resist) are that love and loss are the stuff of life and community is key. Looking forward to more by this author! There is a film adaptation in Swedish with English subtitles, which I haven’t seen, but hope to find.

‘Ish’ by Peter H. Reynolds

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Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke

Following directly on from my last post, this is an amazing yet simply illustrated children’s picture book about enjoying creativity wherever it takes you. Even children can judge themselves too harshly and not pursue a creative endeavour because they feel they are not ‘good enough’ at whatever it is they enjoy doing. Be it drawing, or instrument playing, or writing, or sewing, or dancing, or inventing, or whatever… Give yourself and your children and grandchildren the gift of abandoning perfection and enjoying the abandon of creative expression. Dare to live life as recommended in this picture book, “ishly ever after.”

Ramon loves drawing, anytime, anything, anywhere. But after a careless remark, all that changes. Ramon’s sister Marisol comes to the rescue, ‘framing’ things for him in a way that opens his perspective to what is way more valuable than ‘getting it right.’

Ish completes a trilogy by Reynolds called Creatrilogy, with two books of similar theme The Dot and Sky Color. Ish is my favourite of the three.