Friday, March 19, 2010

Book review: Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

Thanks to Penguin Canada, I was provided with a copy of Even the Dogs, by Jon McGregor, with no obligation for a positive review.

I was specifically interested in this book for a number of reasons: it's set in the UK (I used to live there); it's about "lives fallen through the cracks...and the havoc brought by drugs, distress and the disregard of the wider world" (quoted from the back cover), and I have worked directly with people living such lives in a social services & educational capacity; and, the book is getting rave reviews in the UK, and is being mentioned in the same sentence as the Man Booker Prize.

The book starts with the discovery of Robert's dead body in his flat. It continues with snippets of information about him, his friends, and how the authorities are dealing with his body.

I'm not actually finished reading the book. I'm about halfway through. I'm being totally honest here: it's hard to read. It's good, it's interesting, and it's very authentic - but it's hard to read. Due to the nature of my life (working full-time, 2 little kids, all the odds and ends that come with parenting and keeping a house habitable), I find it quite hard to have time to read. So I usually read before falling asleep in bed. And a book on these topics of drugs, and death, and poverty, with a narrative style that involves unfinished sentences, and dwelling on darkness - it's hard to read at that time of day.

However, I want to finish it. I want to know what happens. Because this one paragraph at the beginning, on page 4, has sucked me in:

"They don't see us, as we crowd and push around them. Of course they don't. How could they. But we're used to that. We've been used to that for a long time, even before. Before this."
So who is the narrative voice in this book? I don't know yet. Is it Robert's friends, alive, but invisible to most people (as many homeless or impoverished people are)? Or is it a group of ghosts, of friends who have gone before? I want to know.

And it's true. I know from my limited experience working in a homeless shelter in Ottawa, and working to support people who are homeless or who have limited opportunities to access adult education in the UK. We don't see them. So I'm reading. To see them more clearly. To be reminded.

You can find this book at many bookstores, on shelves now. You can also meet Jon McGregor tonight at Ben McNally Books, in Toronto, at a book launch complete with reading and signing.

PS: the Torontoist has an interesting interview with the author here, too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

hydraSense Mom Central blog tour: hydraSense Nasal Aspirator review & coupon

Keep reading to the end if you are interested in receiving an $8 off coupon for a hydraSense nasal aspirator. snot.

One of the things that no one tells you about parenthood, one of about 3000 things that no one likes to share because otherwise the human race will end in this generation, is that you are going to end up removing snot from your kids' nose by any which way necessary. Which can include your finger. I'd never do that, of course. Pick someone else's nose? Ew. *whistles*

Anyway - here's a better solution! A hygienic & safe snot sucker! Sorry, official name: a nasal aspirator, brought to you by hydraSense®.

Before Mom Central Canada gave me the opportunity to review some hydraSense® products, I had already signed up for their Dolphins Club. I'd heard about their products on TV, seen them in the stores, and thought the Mists for congestion relief seemed like a great idea.

Particularly because ever since they decided that cough syrup and decongestant was of the devil? Parents have very few options for treating colds. And a snotty, stuffed up, congested nose can mean little Johnny can't sleep very well, and suddenly Johnny's parents are also losing sleep, and the whole family collapses into tears. (Never happened to us! Nope!)

Anyway, so, I don't have a baby to try the hydraSense® nasal aspirator on. I do, however, conveniently have a 2 year old with a snotty nose! Hurray! So he was my guinea pig for the Ultra Gentle Mist. And instead of freaking out, it made him laugh, having water up his nose. And immediately, his nose was running. Which is good, when you have a 2 year old who isn't so skilled at blowing into a tissue yet. We are going to keep using it until that nose stops running. Perhaps in high school.

The 4 year old is very interested in "the science of the sea" as he keeps telling me (which is slightly freaky as my kids don't see very many commercials - so good marketing, hydraSense®!) and may end up as a guinea pig himself for the box of Easydose nasal care drops we also received. If he gets his brother's cold. If. Ha ha.

I'm going to give the hydraSense® nasal aspirator I received to a friend about to have a baby.

Do you have a baby? Or a friend with a baby? Sign up for the Dolphins Club using this link (see the promo box at the bottom, Mom Central) by April 10, 2010.

Once logged back into your account, you can enter the code MC2010 under the online coupons tab, in order to get an $8 off coupon to be used towards the purchase of the hydraSense® Nasal Aspirator (the coupon expires December 31, 2010).

Want to know more about how the nasal aspirator works? Watch this video at this link.

Happy snot sucking! (Oh come on, it's kind of fun.)


Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate