Breaking through autism

April is autism awareness month in the United States. In Canada, we celebrate autism awareness month in October. Autism awareness month is a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.

There are many books, both fiction and non-fiction, that deal with the topic of autism and living with autism. But if you haven’t yet heard of Toronto teenager Carly Fleischmann, I can guarantee you won’t forget about her after reading this.

Carly’s story first captured public attention on a 2009 “Medical Mysteries” segment for ABC’s 20/20. She has continued to be featured on national television since then, largely due to her own efforts in lobbying the likes of Larry King, Barbara Walters, and Holly Robinson Peete, who have each corresponded with her and/or featured her on their shows. Ellen DeGeneres has developed a warm relationship with Carly (at Carly’s request, Ellen read Carly’s Bat Mizvah speech for her via video). Continue reading

Bloodman: The new Luther?


I love Luther. This BBC show has a style to which I’m not accustomed. It has a smoothness about it, an addictive pacing and more than anything, a darkness. It’s this darkness that grabbed me first and it’s this same darkness that I find myself looking for in other mediums. I’ve since found it in books like Blacklands, by Belinda Bauer and in the works of James Lee Burke. Now, I’ve found it again. Continue reading

The Placebo Effect

What would you do if you had the gift of being able to detect whether or not people were telling the truth? Would you use it to your advantage or would you keep your secret hidden? What if your secret power was potentially causing harm to those you loved?

These are the issues faced by Decker Roberts in David Rotenberg’s new novel The Placebo Effect, first in The Junction Chronicles series.

Here’s a little bit more about the book…

Decker Roberts has the dangerous gift of detecting the truth. For years this talent has proven to be a lucrative sideline to his acting teaching. Only his closest friends know, and he keeps his identity secret from the companies that pay him to tell them if the people they are planning to hire are truthful.

But Decker’s carefully compartmentalized life suddenly starts to fall apart. His house burns down, his credit cards are cancelled, his bank loan is called and his studio is condemned. He realizes that he must have heard something in one of his ‘truth telling’ sessions that someone didn’t want him to know.

Decker has to go on the run and figure out what he’s being targeted. There’s also a government agent hunting him who seems to know absolutely everything about Decker Roberts’ identities, real and false–and other people of “his kind.”

How will Decker find out which truth is endangering his life? Who betrayed him and revealed all his secrets? Decker needs to find answers quickly, before knowing the truth turns from a gift into a deadly curse.

The topic of synaesthesia is dealt with in this book. It is something I’d heard of but never really understood until now. It lends a very interesting, very real quality to some of the more fantastical things that happen.

In addition to being an author, David Rotenberg is also a director and acting teacher and is the Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Professional Actors Lab. The roster of his students reads like a who’s who in ranks of Canadian actors, including Scott Speedman, Rachel McAdams, James McGowan, Polly Shannon, David Hirsh, Jonas Chernick and Shawn Doyle. You will notice the theme of acting and acting methods also feature prominently in the novel.

Here are what people are saying about The Placebo Effect

“I think it’s fantastic. Right, taut, lean, exciting, thrilling, really.” -Jurgen Gothe, CBC host & newspaper columnist

“…great storytelling, juicy characters, and a wonderful theatricality.” -Marc Routh, Broadway producer

“Kept me on my toes and awaiting the next turn of events.” – Erin Karpluk, actress and star of “Being Erica”

You can visit for more info about the author, his other books, and to read an excerpt. There’s also a reading group guide available here.

We are hosting a blogger tour for David and The Placebo Effect starting January 16th. Check out the following blogs on their corresponding dates for exclusive Q&A’s with the author and reviews.

Canadian Authors-Jan 16

Mysteries and More-Jan 18

BookBound-Jan 20

Workaday Reads-Jan 25

Beyond Books-Jan 27

Wicked Little Pixie-Jan 30

Wagging the Fox-Feb 1

The Crazy Bookworm-Feb 3

Serendipitous Readings-Feb 6

Purple Jelly Bean Chair Reviews-Feb 7

The Placebo Effect is in stores February 7th.

Overindulged a little (read: a lot) this holiday season?

We can help! And miracle of all miracles it doesn’t mean giving up your favorite snack foods….just, modifying them slightly.

Meet Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks.

Let’s face it. Snacking is a way of life. In a given year 97% of us buy candy and chocolate; 96% buy pop and chips and 89% eat ice cream! That’s why the founders of, Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos, have written Unjunk Your Junk Food, a fun, full color reference guide to eating ‘healthier’ snacks–natural foods free from artificial ingredients, preservatives, food colorings, and trans-fats. This book is for readers (like me!) that aren’t willing to give up junk food but don’t want to expose themselves and their families to toxic food additives.

Each chapter focuses on a different type of junk food such as ice cream or cookies, making it easy for you to quickly reference the foods you’re craving. The book offers a side by side comparison of natural/organic recommendations against popular conventional brands, complete with pictures of the products so you know exactly what to look for as you navigate the aisles at the supermarket.

At the beginning of every chapter, you’ll find a list of specific ingredients to be avoided in each junk food category. The book contains the latest research, advice, tips, and trivia about junk food and info on healthy ingredients and dangerous additives. The authors also reveal some of the most crafty and misleading marketing tricks behind certain food products, including confusing serving sizes, advertised health benefits and deceptive wording on ingredient labels.

Unjunk Your Junk Food uses icons to easily identify products that suit different lifestyles. The book identifies foods that match certain dietary restrictions (such as food allergies, including gluten intolerance); medical alerts to specific health conditions (such as heart disease and trans-fats); and production values (such as organic and fair trade).

Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer have a combined 35 years of experience in the natural health arena. Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Randy has been a natural health and wellness advocate to the public for over ten years, and Lisa is a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and Chief Nutrition Expert for Naturally Savvy.

Check out their website and follow them on Twitter @NaturallySavvy.

Don’t feel bad about eating junk, just eat informed!

Check out these sample pages from the Chip, Dips & Party Food chapter:

The First Stampede of Flores LaDue

The First Stampede of Flores LaDue has it all – adventure, history, drama, love and excitement.

The First Stampede of Flores LaDue

Though it sounds more like a movie or a great historical fiction novel, The First Stampede of Flores LaDue is the true story of Grace Maud Bensel, later known by her stage name, Flores LaDue. While many know the story of Guy Weadick and how he started the Calgary Stampede in 1912, many do not know the story of the women behind the man, Flores LaDue.

Born in Minnesota, but raised on a Sioux reservation when her mother died, Grace Bensel ran away with a Wild West show at the age of 17, just  a few years after her father made her return to Minnesota to go to school and become a lady. Using the skills she learned on the reservation, she became a world champion trick roper and in 1905, she caught the eye of rodeo cowboy, Guy Weadick. The two travelled North America and Western Europe before settling in Calgary, where they established the Calgary Stampede in 1912.

While parts of the book, such as the dialogue, are fictionalized, much of it is based on the memories of current Alberta rancher, Lenore McLean, who grew up next door to LaDue in the late 1940s and looked at LaDue as a mentor, mother-figure and friend.

Calgary author, Wendy Bryden, has received both the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation for her work on Canada at the Olympic Winter Games and The Glencoe Club Story: 70 Years of Sports History.  Bryden and McLean became great friends over the last few years while working on this books and  both hope that this book will demonstrate stampede values as well inspire others to live their best life.

To browse inside the book, click here.