Category: Books

May the Fourth Be With You: It’s Star Wars Day!


This morning I was informed that May 4th is Star Wars Day. Even though I’m more of a Trekkie, I’ve decided to commemorate the day with a question: What if absentee dad, Darth Vader, actually took an active role in raising his son Luke?

Jeffery Brown has written a book called Darth Vader and Son, aiming to answer that question. The book is filled with endearing and funny illustrations that depict Darth raising a young Luke Skywalker in a galaxy far, far away (awww… he even takes Luke trick-or-treating).

Darth Vader and Son - Book Cover

Darth Vader and Son (1)

Darth Vader and Son (2)

Darth Vader and Son (3)

At the time of this post, the 64-page hardcover book seems to be out of stock (probably due to various Star Wars fanatics), but I’m sure if you really want a copy you can find one used online.

For all you fellow geeks out there, this weekend also marks the tail end of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival which will be taking place at the Toronto Reference Library. This event features hundreds of comics creators from around the world, as well as readings, workshops, gallery shows and more. Check out for more info.

As for me, I’ll be letting my inner geek out this weekend by watching Marvel’s The Avengers.

Je Parle Un Peu Français! Michel Thomas Speak French For Beginners


Michel Thomas Speak French For Beginners ProgramI’ve been a tad skeptical about those language learning software and audio kits. So I surprised myself by purchasing Michel Thomas’ Speak French For Beginners program. I haven’t heard this much French since I took the Summer Language Bursary Program (now known as Explore) when I was in university. The 5-week language program (in Trois Pistoles, Quebec) I took was one of the best experiences I ever had. I made new friends, experienced different cultures and activities, and most importantly, I greatly improved on my French (I fairly recollected my one year of high school french). Of course as soon as I left Trois Pistoles and returned to Toronto, I forgot a good deal of what I learned because I was re-immersed into an 99% anglophone city.

I would love to learn French on a more conversational level. Speaking a second-lanuage definitely has it’s benefits. And when I do learn French to an extent, I won’t have to worry about strangers asking me, “Oh, you’re name is Monique. Do you speak French?” :D

I’ve heard positive things about Michel Thomas‘ teaching methods, so when I noticed that it was on sale at for 34% off the regular $99.99 price tag, I jumped on it (I also got an additinal 5% off with my iRewards card, and had a $5 coupon, so I wound up paying only $60 with free shipping). It probably would’ve been cheaper if I purchased it from, but I wasn’t sure about all those extra customs charges at the border.

Yesterday I started with disc one, and this morning I listened to the second one on my way to work. Honestly, the reviews aren’t kidding: his way of teaching actually makes me retain what I’m learning. I don’t have to worry about writing anything down, reviewing homework, or memorization. And the program is done as Michel teaches two students, so you actually feel like you’re learning as part of the class.  Using your pause button on your mp3/CD player, you’ll try to translate the English phrase Michel asks into French phrases before the students.  Part of the process is also learning from the mistakes the students may make before Michel corrects them.

Almost 20% into the entire package, I have a basic understanding of words, phrases and vocab that could get me to feel a little more comfortable with speaking simple French–a lot more than I remember from when I was taking French in high school.   The programs breaks down the language, so you’re able to piece together each ‘building block’ into a proper sentence.  I’m actually beginning to understand more of the French language and how it works.

No books. No writing. No drills. And nothing to memorize– ever! With his patented method, Michel Thomas has taught languages to top celebrities and–through his bestselling audio programs–more than a million everyday learners around the world. At the end of this ten-CD beginner’s program, you will have acquired:

* A full working vocabulary
* Essential comprehension skills
* Complete language confidence

Don’t try to memorize specific words or expressions. It is a basic principle of the Michel Thomas™ method that the responsibility for the student’s learning lies with the teacher. With Michel Thomas as your teacher, your learning will be based on understanding–and what you understand, you do not forget!

Included in the package:

* 10 audio CDs–including the two-CD Speak French Get Started Kit and 2 review CDs
* Program booklet
* Zippered travel case

I can’t wait until I reach the end of the 10-disc course to see how much I really have learned! Now writing en Français is another story. It’s a good thing I also picked up Barron’s French Verb book! I’ll be sure to keep you guys informed on my progress.

10 Sure Signs A Movie Character Is Doomed


Ignoring the negative balance in my bank account, I decided to stop and browse through the shelves of Indigo today after work. I’m glad that I did because I picked up a nice bargain from the discount table: Richard Roeper’s 10 Sure Signs a Movie Character is Doomed & Other Surprising Movie Lists. The first thing that struck me was the giant $3.99 price sticker on and the word ‘movie’ in the title (I’m a pretty big movie-lover). Flipping through the pages, I was struck with lists like “7 Movies in Which Ben Affleck Cries Like a Big Fat Baby”, “Age Difference Between Michael Douglas and His Leading Ladies” and “Best Porn Titles Based on Legit Movies”. The latter will have you laughing at the creativity, or lack thereof… “Free My Willy” or “Jurassic Pork” anyone?

Here’s an excerpt from the title list of a sign that movie character is doomed:10 Sure Signs A Movie Character Is Doomed

The bad guy is locked in a life-and-death clinch with the good guy, when suddenly a gun goes off. We see the look of shock on the good guy’s face as he falls away–but of course it’s the bad guy who’s been shot in the gut.

And one list that I found particularly funny was “5 Things That Happen When a Wrongly Accused Fugitive Walks into a Bar, a Restaurant, or a Convenience Store”:

  1. A television will be turned on, and the news will be playing.
  2. The fugitive will glance nervously at the TV and then order a drink or a pack of smokes.
  3. The newscaster will start reading a story about the fugitive, with a mug shot of the fugitive prominently displayed.
  4. A customer will glance at the fugitive an then back at the TV.
  5. Just as the customer realized the fugitive is RIGHT THERE, the turns–and the fugitive is gone, the door swinging in his wake.

As much as I disagree with Richard Roeper’s “critiques” on the Sunday night movie review show Ebert & Roeper, I must admit that this book is a fun read so far. I had no idea he could be so hilariously witty. And for $3.99 it’s well worth the price (the original price of $20 when it first came out 4 years ago was way too much). You’ll be laughing to yourself saying “That is sooooo true!” after some of these lists (well, maybe not his picks for bests and worst movies). The paperback would also make a nice, cost-efficient gift to a film buff you know.

So if you’re planning on passing through a Chapters or Indigo this week, take a look for this book. It’ll cost you less than a round trip fare on the TTC, and it’s make some nice light reading on public transit.