What We’re Watching and Reading: Getting Fit

Now that we’ve entered a new year people tend to make resolutions and often those goals have to do with getting into shape (especially after eating so well during the holidays and during those Super Bowl parties).  Whether you’re new to working out or a regular fitness guru, WPL has many different workout options for you, in book and DVD form, to get you in shape in 2015.

Absolute Beginners.  Cardio & Strength Training Workout for Seniors (DVD)

This cardio and strength training DVD is great for seniors who want to improve their balance and mobility with a modern approach to physical fitness.  With four different levels of intensity viewers can decide how intense they want their workout.


Transform Your Body with Brooke Burke – Strengthen & Condition (DVD)

I have used this DVD many times and enjoy Brooke’s personality (even is she’s a little overly bubbly at times).  She has a very laid back tone and the workout is challenging enough without making the viewer feel like it’s not doable.  The exercises are varied and her ab workout is admittedly pretty tough but when you see what it’s done for Brooke (a mom of four kids) it just makes you work a little bit harder.


Yoga Meltdown (DVD)

Jillian Michaels’ DVDs can be tough but they also show results.  She blends yoga poses with power moves to help her viewers to tone and lose weight fast.


Breathless Body (DVD)

This DVD isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s a ‘calorie torching cardio’ workout that is a Tabata inspired interval drill workout for ultimate weight loss.


The BalleCore Workout: Integrating Pilates, Hatha Yoga and Ballet in an Innovative Exercise Routine for all Fitness Levels by Molly Weeks (book)


Yoga Cures: Simple Routines to Conquer More Than 50 Common Ailments and Live Pain-Free by Tara Stiles (book)


The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible: 101 Best Workouts to Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Sculpt Your Best Body Ever! by Sean Hyson & the editors at Men’s Fitness (Book)


Exercise For Your Muscle Type: The Smart Way to Get Fit by Michelle Lovitt and John Speraw (book)


Anywhere, anytime, any body yoga : a practical guide to using yoga in everyday life by Emily Slonina (book)


Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners (DVD)


Pilates Workout for Dummies (DVD)


Whether you’re into pilates, yoga, cardio or strength training, WPL has a lot to help you get up and get fit in 2015!

– – Laurie P.

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What We’re Watching: Great British TV Series

Every so often I get a hankering to watch a bit of British telly.  Even if I’m feeling knackered and the kids are getting a little barmy I can always look forward to a good sit down in the evening with Sherlock, dear Chummy or the people of Downton Abbey.  I suppose my love of all things Brit is due to the fact that I love their cheeky sense of humour (their wonderful jargon, obviously) and feel rather posh when watching their programmes.


If you’re in the mood for some British TV but don’t know where to find it, don’t get your knickers in a twist or get the collywobbles!  WPL has a great selection of British TV DVD titles that may just leave you gobsmacked and itching for all things Brit.


Some of my personal favourites:

Call the Midwife (seasons 1-3) – an outstanding series that is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a nurse living in post-WWII London.  Endearing, funny and touching it is a truly wonderful series with unforgettable characters.

Sherlock (seasons 1-3) – The highly talented Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Enough said.

Downton Abbey (seasons 1-4) –  Follows the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family as well as their staff in the post-Edwardian era.  The Duchess (played by Dame Maggie Smith) is utter perfection as the cantankerous and quite humourous matriarch.


Other popular titles:

Land Girls (seasons 1-3) –  Follows four girls as they support Britain in the Women’s Land Army during the War.

Lark Rise to Candleford (seaons 1-4) – A trilogy of semi-autobiographical stories about life in a small 19th century English village.

New Tricks (seasons 1-10) – A comedic drama that showcases the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) in London which is comprised of retired police officers who have been selected to solve ‘cold cases’.

Dalziel and Pascoe (seasons 1-9)


Doctor Who  (several different series)

Inspector Lynley Mysteries (seasons 1-6)

Lovejoy (seasons 1-6)

Monarch of the Glen (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)


Ballykissangel (seasons 1-6)

All Creatures Great and Small (seasons 1-6)

Keeping Up Appearances (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8)

The Office


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What We’re Reading: The Monogram Murders

I’m not quite sure how I feel about one author using another author’s characters. For example, there’s Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, a sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. I know I read Scarlett, I just can’t remember it–which tells me it wasn’t a very good book. On the other hand, there’s P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say if the author pulls it off. But I think using Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters for a murder mystery is a brilliant idea.

All this brings me to The Monogram Murders, in which British author Sophie Hannah resurrects Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot.

Hannah has big shoes to fill. Agatha Christie (1890-1976), has been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare and has sold 1 billion (yes, that’s a billion) copies of her books in English and a further billion copies in foreign language translations.

The mystery is set in a big London hotel in 1929. Three dead bodies are discovered in three different rooms, all carefully laid out in the same way, a monogramed cufflink thrust into their mouths. The secret of the murders, after lots of twists and turns, lies in a long distant village scandal.

The Monogram Murders doesn’t read like an Agatha Christie at all. And Poirot himself, the dapper Belgian detective, acts and speaks differently than he does in Christie’s books. But actually I’m OK with that. I don’t think any self-respecting writer would be content to produce a carbon copy of someone else’s work.

I found the book interesting. But I probably wouldn’t line up to read another sequel, should there be one.

– – Penny D.

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Winter 2015 Featured Titles

Winter 2015 Sell Sheet_Final

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What We’re Reading: Its the End of the World as We Know It

I love the coincidences that come from working in the library.  A patron will return a book and then 30 minutes later another patron will come in and pick up the same book from the Holds shelf and remark about how much she is looking forward to reading that same book.  The serendipity of working in an environment that is filled with people and books can be so pleasant.  When I find that same kind of coincidence in the material I’ve been reading I can’t help but wonder whether there is a reason behind it.

Well, with my recent reading topic I certainly hope not!  Two Dystopian novels with terrifying self-proclaimed prophets – what kind of message is behind that coincidence?  Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Edan Lepucki’s California had been on the list of things I wanted to read for quite a while and their similarities just made the reading more interesting.  I have always enjoyed books that try to illustrate how society will rebuild after catastrophe (remember Stephen King’s The Stand? – still one of my all-time favourites).  It’s that whole idea of how it’s possible to safely think though scary thoughts in books because you know you aren’t really experiencing it – like how a roller coaster gives you that feeling of intense fear but you know you are safe within the car the whole time – that makes post-apocalyptic fiction so much fun.  Really, musing about the end of the world has been popular for a very long time.

Reading two novels that have similar themes so closely together gave me a chance to compare the styles of writing, the way the two authors felt we might try to rebuild our world and consider whether their choices might match up with the ones I might make (all from the safety of my striped chair).  California brings us into the lives of Cal and Frida a few years after they’ve adjusted to the destruction of the world they used to know and are firmly in the routine of hunting, farming and trading to try and keep themselves safe.  In Station Eleven we have the chance to get to know the cast of characters a few weeks before their worldwide disaster strikes and then they try to find a way to survive without refrigeration and mass distribution of food and consumer goods.  In both novels the main characters find objects or memories that they protect, helping to connect them with the homes and families that they have lost.  These small coping mechanisms seemed so real to me and I felt like it built a stronger connection between the reader and the story.  Maybe I would have chosen the same things in a way to feel closer to what I had lost?

I like a book that gives you a lot to think about.  I like a book that gives you a lot to talk about also – with library patrons or at home with my family.  It’s very easy to sit back and wonder how it would be possible to rebuild a community or how you would find enough to eat but to actually do that is another thing.  I am amazed (and thrilled) that both authors took such different approaches to similar stories.  The world their characters knew has ended but in each novel – despite creepily similar obstacles – there are distinctly different moments of beauty.  Their imagination and ability to create a new and terrifying world on the pages was incredible.  It all felt very real.  It was a scary but gripping roller coaster ride to read both of these novels.  True, there is much to fear in the new worlds these two young authors have created but you are left with a sense of something good to come.  You really do get the feeling that it might be ‘the end of the world as we know it, (but I feel fine)’.

What do you think?

– – Penny M.


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2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge

Happy New Year!  A new year makes it a great time to set up a reading challenge for ourselves.  To stretch our ‘reading wings’.  Some people, like myself, like to keep track of the numbers of books that they read in a year (a free GoodReads account is great for this) but this year I wanted to do something different.  More challenging.  I’m an avid reader already so why not make it a little harder and push myself to read books/genres that aren’t in my comfort zone?  Hopefully this will open up a whole new world of reading for me.


Here’s a list of reading challenges.  How many of them can you accomplish this year?


1. A book set in Canada. (eg. Still Life by Louise Penny)

2. A book with a non-human main character. (eg. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien)

3. A book with more than 500 pages (eg. Roots by Alex Haley)

4. Read an e-book (WPL staff can teach you all about our download library!)

5. A non-fiction read

6. A book written by a female author

7. A book from WPL’s ‘Featured Titles’

8. A book published during the year you were born

9. A fantasy novel

10. A book with a number in the title

11. A book written by a British author

12. An entire book trilogy

13. A book of short stories (eg. Alice Munro’s Family Furnishings

14. A book published this year

15. A Young Adult novel (eg. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers)

16. A book that you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t yet

17. Re-read a book that you have read in the past and didn’t love

18. A book that you read in high school

19. Listen to an audiobook or e-audiobook

20. Read a book that’s currently on the bestseller charts

21. A book set during a World War (eg. The Paris Architect by James Belfoure)

22. A book that was later made into a movie or mini-series

23. Read a classic novel

24. A memoir or biography

25. A book written when the author was older than 65 years of age

26. Re-read your favourite book as a child

27. A historical fiction read

28. A book with magic in it

29. A book set in a country that you’ve always wanted to visit

30. A thriller or suspense read

31. A book written by a Canadian author whom you haven’t read yet

32. A book set in the 1700’s

33. A memoir of a celebrity

34. A book that will make you cry (eg. Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer)

35. A humourous book (eg.Yes, Please by Amy Poehler)

36. A book that a friend recommends to you

37. A book originally written in another language

38. A graphic novel

39. A book written when the author was under 25 years of age

40. A guilty pleasure read


– – Laurie P.


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What We’re Reading: One Day

One Day (DVD and book) by David Nicholls

Awhile back I borrowed the DVD One Day (starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess). But I found it a disappointment, dull and plodding in places and overly sentimental in other places.

Anyway, I recently discovered the DVD was based on a book (of the same name) and decided to give it a try. And I loved it! The book is smart/funny/sad and perfectly captures the angst/awkwardness of a new relationship.

One Day by David Nicholls tells the story of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew. They meet just after graduating from university and spend one day and one night together. Dexter is the guy with everything, he’s rich, handsome and popular– though maybe just a bit shallow. Emma is smart, hardworking and idealistic, and definitely not part of the popular crowd.

Anyway, their encounter is such that they decide to meet the same day—July 15—every year (hence the title). So we see the trajectory of their careers and lives over the years as they meet for that one day. Their friendship has its ups and downs (sometimes they can barely stand each other), and the burning question is, of course, are they going to get together for a long-term relationship?

All in all a really good read, but I have to say I so DID NOT like the ending.

The author has out a brand new book, Us. I’ve got my hold placed for it, I’m near the top of the list and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. (He just better not write another bad ending.)

– – Penny D.


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What We’re Reading: Where I Belong

Alan Doyle is one of the frontmen of Great Big Sea; a band known for fabulous storytelling in their songs and in their live shows, so you had to know that his autobiography was going to have something good going on.  This book is going to fit the bill for someone on your shopping list and, if you have that nagging feeling that you might have forgotten someone, just grab an extra one of these and keep it wrapped up, just in case.  It’s so good that it’s almost a one size fits all book.  Should you find it left over at the end of the gift giving season you can just keep it for yourself.


When I received the shiny copy of Where I Belong I was so very excited as it had been heavily promoted on his web site, in the newspaper and on the CBC.  I had been quite keen to read the book because the song of the same name (found on the album Boy on Bridge through your local WPL branch) had captured my heart and I wondered how much of that same emotion would be in this book.  It’s all there.  I knew I had just 14 days to read it as the demand for this book was high but it only took two.  It reads like a well-written magazine article and feels like a long chat with a friend.  The stories are poignant or hilarious and it’s like you are right there in the kitchen with him while he tells you about his siblings, his friends or ruining his mother’s piano (oh my goodness).  I’d give a lot to be able to meet his grandmother or have him get a chance to meet mine.  It’s an odd way to feel after you read a book written by a singer from a musical group that can sell out multiple shows at Massey Hall.  You’d expect the book to be fairly egotistical or at least a little bit ‘hey look at me’ but it didn’t read like that at all.

 I’m touting this as a great gift (hope my brother Jeff doesn’t read this post before the holidays) because I think there is something to be gained from reading a book where the author reflects on their own good fortune.  I think that looking back on where you came from, who your parents and grandparents were, what you learned from your siblings is a bonus part of the holiday season.  Feeling lucky and reflecting on that is a little treat we can give to ourselves.  And, should you find yourself with that wrapped copy of Where I Belong following the busy holiday season then just unwrap it and enjoy.  If you did give that copy away you can drop by your WPL branch and we’ll help you track one down.  Maybe take home an accompanying soundtrack as well?  We have a few good ones we can suggest…you know, there is this really great band from Newfoundland you might have heard of…

 – – Penny M.


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2014 Holiday Kids Picks

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2014 Holiday Staff Picks

2014 Holiday Staff Picks_12014 Holiday Staff Picks_12014 Holiday Staff Picks_2

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