Rescue Cat Wednesday!

While reading is my oldest love, I am also very passionate about animals. I volunteer twice a week with a wonderful Toronto-based charity called Action Volunteers for Animals. They rescue homeless cats from all around Ontario, as well as run Trap-Neuter-Release programs to help control the population of homeless cats. Every week, I plan to post pictures of some of the delightful kitties currently staying with us at the local adoption facility.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting a rescue cat, you can find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com

For those of you who have been following on Facebook, we have a surprise return guest this week!

 

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Scar has returned to AVA! He was adopted just in time for Christmas, but was having a lot of trouble getting along with the other cat in the house. He was becoming stressed and aggressive, so his owner thought he might do better in another home. We now think Scar will be best as the only pet in the house, since he needs to know that he has all of your love!

For those that don’t know, Scar was brought to AVA in September after being rescued as a stray. He had lived rough on the streets for four years as a tom, and has the rakish appearance to prove it! Scar has made great strides since his first arrival. He loves wands and laser toys, but enjoys spending most of his days snoozing in a cat perch, preferably one near a window.

Scar likes to be petted and scratched, but can become overstimulated which causes him to occasionally swat or bite. We are training him to act out this “attack” behavior on his favorite stuffed animal instead of hands. With some love and patience, Scar will make a great addition to a quiet home with no young children or other pets. His donation fee is $175.

All three of our orange brothers found their forever homes this week. Sweet Philip went to a home to be a companion to another young cat. Eric and Rudy were adopted together to a very experienced couple who will work to make them feel comfortable in their new home.

 

 

There are four new cats (and one surprise guest) to introduce this week!

 

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Ginger and Rose were adopted from AVA as kittens. Now two-and-a-half, they were unfortunately surrendered when their owner could no longer take care of them. They are a sweet and gentle pair who are bonded and must be adopted together. Ginger (the orange one) has been a little braver so far, coming to the front of the cage for pets and scratches. Rose has preferred to hang out in her comfy cat box and observe for a few days. The donation fee for Ginger and Rose is $300.

 

 

orange dlh

This gorgeous long-haired orange tabby came from a cat colony in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Hidden behind him is his friend, an equally stunning female Siamese mix. Due to a clerical mixup, we don’t know their names or ages quite yet. I’ve temporarily dubbed them Aladdin and Jasmine, since they’ve spent all their time cuddled up on a rug. Both cats are quite shy, though Aladdin likes to be gentle petted as long as you move slowly. We hope to adopt them together, since it would be helpful to have a friend when they move to their new home. The donation fee would be $175 for one cat, or $300 for the pair.

 

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Felicity and Sadie are now bunkmates but they could be mistaken for mother and daughter! Both love playing with wands and getting head rubs. Sadie is beginning to become your typical rambunctious kitten. I think she’ll be venturing out of her cage soon!

 

 

You can see more photos of our wonderful rescue cats, learn more about AVA, and become involved as a volunteer by visiting actionvolunteersforanimals.com

Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996)

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Review 2.6

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. [Source]

 “I now walk into the wild.” – Christopher McCandless

The story of Christopher McCandless has become something of an urban legend crossed with a cautionary tale. I’m sure parents have warned their children that if they aren’t careful they’ll end up “dying in a bus somewhere in Alaska”. When I mentioned to my husband that I was reading this book, he scoffed and muttered something about idiot kids and white privilege. For some, McCandless is a cultural admonition about the foolishness of youth. For others, he is a symbol of wanderlust, that powerful urge to explore the wild places of the world and reconnect with nature that exists somewhere within all men.

It’s easy to write McCandless off as just a spoiled boy from an affluent background who got what he deserved when he walked into the Alaskan wilderness with no supplies. It’s easy to say that he was mentally ill, or suicidal, or just plain crazy. What Krakauer has done with Into the Wild is to tell the harder story, one of a charismatic and talented young man whose obsessive desire to connect with nature ended up costing his life.

“At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.”

Last year I read Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, which chronicles the violent history of the Mormon faith and how it led to the death of an innocent woman and child. Krakauer has the remarkable ability to write nonfiction as if it were fiction. He weaves his plot and characters together with meticulous attention to detail and exhaustive research. Reading Into the Wild, it is obvious that Krakauer was profoundly moved by the death of McCandless. The book represents an homage of sorts, a chance to tell Christopher’s story in a way that makes him look brave but naive instead of just incredibly stupid. Krakauer brings a sense of tragic nobility to Christopher’s life and death while trying to explain what drove him to venture alone into the wilderness. He looks at journals, interviews friends and family members, and ultimately journeys to the hollowed out bus where McCandless’ body was found.

I am writing this review more than five days after finishing it, and I can’t get Christopher McCandless out of my head. At random times of the day, when I’m washing dishes or marking homework, the image of a lonely boy dying in a lonely bus in a cold, lonely forest comes into my mind. I had before heard the story of the idiot kid who died in the wilds of Alaska. Now I feel like I actually know the story of McCandless’ life. This book was amazing.

My rating: 5/5

You can find Into the Wild here on Amazon or here on Book Depository. In 2007 it was adapted into a film starring Emile Hirsch and directed by Sean Penn.

Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (2018)

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Review 2.3

 

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

This novel is proving difficult to review because it’s about so many things. The relationship between mothers and daughters. The close-mindedness of so-called progressives. The risks that are taken when one chooses the road less traveled; and the risks that are taken when one chooses the road well paved. Little Fires Everywhere is multi-faceted and nuanced. It takes the time to set up its characters so that their actions feel rooted in real world consequences. There is no outright antagonist in this novel, each of the characters follows their own course with a series of small actions, each of which lights a small spark that eventually build into an inferno with the power to change lives.

How much time has to pass before a time period can be considered historical fiction? This novel, which is set in the mid 1990’s, often felt like a time capsule. The whole world sat perched on the edge of a technological whirlwind which was about to change how we communicate, travel, work, and live. The setting does not play a major role in the proceedings except perhaps to show how much the attitudes of middle class white families have changed over the past twenty years, but the occasional references to President Clinton and outdated technology were kind of fun.

Little Fires Everywhere‘s plot does not move at a breakneck pace; instead it settles in for the long haul and prefers a story well told. Celeste Ng is an author who cares very deeply for her characters, and this love and attention to detail comes through in her writing. I felt a strong emotional bond with Izzy, who is struggling so hard against the regulations of her parents. I also identified with Pearl; I was often the new girl at school and it’s never easy. I admired her easy self-confidence as much as I understood her desperate need to be part of a group of friends.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was surprisingly funny and occasionally heart-warming. I think that it could have many interpretations based on where a person is in their life.

My rating: 4.5/5

You can find Little Fires Everywhere here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

Happy reading everyone!

Rescue Cat Wednesday!

This is the very first segment in a weekly post I hope to start this year. While reading is my oldest love, I am also very passionate about animals. I volunteer twice a week with a wonderful Toronto-based charity called Action Volunteers for Animals. They rescue homeless cats from all around Ontario, as well as run Trap-Neuter-Release programs to help control the population of homeless cats. Every week, I plan to post pictures of some of the delightful kitties currently staying with us at the local adoption facility.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting a rescue cat, you can find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com

 

theodore

Theodore is three months old, and is still getting used to people. He’s discovered that he loves treats and pets, but can be easily startled. With love and patience, he has definite lap cat potential. Theodore needs to be adopted with another kitten or to a home that already has a young cat.

tabitha

Two-year old Tabitha is shy, but becoming braver everyday. She is very curious about life in the shelter, and has been venturing outside of her cage to investigate the other cats. She has done well with the other cats in the shelter, and could make an excellent companion to a home that already has a cat. She is probably not great with dogs.

 

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Felicity is also two years old, and she has made so much progress since first coming into AVA’s care a few months ago. She is still shy, but now enjoys being petted and scratched. Felicity suffered an illness or an injury that left her partially blind in one eye, but all her other cat senses are keen. Felicity would enjoy a quiet home, preferably with another feline friend.

philip

Philip is six-months old, and has earned the affectionate nickname of Snaggletooth, due to the canine that sticks over his top lip. He is the bravest of his brothers, and is becoming more and more comfortable being petted and handled. He needs to be adopted with another kitten, or to a home that already has a young cat.

 

oakey

Don’t let Oakey’s grouchy face fool you, he is a total sweetie! Oakey was found badly injured, and the scars have left him with an adorably rakish appearance. Oakey loves to eat, he has put on weight in the shelter and could definitely use some exercise! He loves to play with feather wands and laser pointers, and would make a great cat on his own or with a friend.

 

If you want to learn more about these kitties or any of the other cats available for adoption, find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com/

 

 

Book Review: Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton (2017)

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Review 2.1

Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween. 
In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.

 

A book of short stories, all of which center around Halloween and its traditions, may seem like an odd choice for holiday reading. I had originally earmarked this collection for part of my Booktober horror-novel marathon, but the wait list at the library was a lot longer than I had anticipated. Instead I got to enjoy these stories under the glow of my Christmas tree, and it ended up being the first novel I finished in 2019!

Haunted Nights was published by Blumhouse Books, which some horror fans may recognize as the production company behind many popular horror movies such as Grave Encounters, Insidious, and Get Out. All the stories center around some aspect of Halloween or one of the other holidays associated with death and the spirit world. As in any short story compilation, Haunted Nights has its highs and lows but overall, I felt that most of the stories hit their mark and delivered upon the atmosphere that editor Ellen Datlow was striving for.

Ranging in length from twenty to forty pages, the short stories in Haunted Nights are great for a short reading session. The stories vary from the bleak and depressing “All Through the Night” to the delightfully creepy “Sisters”. My favorite was probably John Langan’s “Into the Dark”, which reads like the script for one of the found-footage horror films I’ve come to love and expect from Blumhouse.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I read scary novels all year round. I would definitely recommend Haunted Nights as a kick-off to the Halloween season. This would be a great book to curl up with on a windy October night while you’re home alone.

My rating: 3.5/5

You can find Haunted Nights here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

Happy reading everyone!