Review: Talking to Canadians: A Memoir

Title: Talking to Canadians: A Memoir
Author: Rick Mercer
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Canada’s beloved comic genius tells his own story for the first time.

What is Rick Mercer going to do now? That was the question on everyone’s lips when the beloved comedian retired his hugely successful TV show after 15 seasons—and at the peak of its popularity. The answer came not long after, when he roared back in a new role as stand-up-comedian, playing to sold-out houses wherever he appeared.

And then Covid-19 struck. And his legions of fans began asking again: What is Rick Mercer going to do now? Well, for one thing, he’s been writing a comic masterpiece. For the first time, this most private of public figures has turned the spotlight on himself, in a memoir that’s as revealing as it is hilarious. In riveting anecdotal style, Rick charts his rise from highly unpromising schoolboy (in his reports “the word ‘disappointment’ appeared a fair bit”) to the heights of TV fame. Along the way came an amazing break when, not long out of his teens, his one-man show Show Me the Button, I’ll Push It. Or, Charles Lynch Must Die, became an overnight sensation—thanks in part to a bizarre ambush by its target, Charles Lynch himself. That’s one story you won’t soon forget, and this book is full of them.

There’s a tale of how little Rick helped himself to a tree from the neighbours’ garden that’s set to become a new Christmas classic. There’s Rick the aspiring actor, braving “the scariest thing I have ever done in my life” by performing with the Newfoundland Shakespeare Company; unforgettable scenes with politicians of every variety, from Jean Chretien to George W. Bush to Stockwell Day; and a wealth of behind-the-scenes revelations about the origins and making of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made in Canada, and Talking to Americans. All leading of course to the greenlighting of that mega-hit, Rick Mercer Report . . .

It’s a life so packed with incident (did we mention Bosnia and Kabul?) and laughter we can only hope that a future answer to “What is Rick Mercer going to do now?” is: “Write volume two.”


Rick Mercer is one of my favourite comedians. He has hosted satirical news shows, such as The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, as well as many Canadian awards shows. In this memoir, he talks about his early life and how he got into show business. He’s had a fascinating career that has led him to becoming one of the funniest Canadian entertainers.

My top 3 favourite comedians are from Newfoundland: Jonny Harris, Mark Critch, and Rick Mercer. The beginning of this memoir was set in Newfoundland during Rick’s childhood. I traveled to Newfoundland a couple of years ago and I have family who lives in Newfoundland (in Bishop’s Falls which also got a little cameo appearance in this memoir). Canada, and particularly Newfoundland, are such small places that even one of my English university professors was mentioned in this book. All of the Canadian references really made me feel connected to this book.

I’ve watched both of Rick’s shows since I was a child. I’ve been a fan of his for as long as I can remember. Many of his best jokes were in this memoir, including his segment called Talking to Americans. He would interview Americans and tell them made up things about Canada that they believed. I remember watching one episode where he told people in an American city that Canada was going to start using the 24 hour clock. They congratulated the country on adopting this way of counting time. This was some of his classic comedy, that made me laugh out loud many times while reading this book.

Talking to Canadians is a hilarious Canadian memoir!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rick Mercer Final Report by Rick Mercer

Son of a Critch by Mark Critch

Have you read Talking to Canadians? What did you think of it?


Review: The Times I Knew I Was Gay

Title: The Times I Knew I Was Gay
Author: Eleanor Crewes
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir
Publisher: Scribner
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A charming, highly relatable graphic memoir that follows one young woman’s adventures in coming out and coming of age.

Ellie always had questions about who she was and how she fit in. As a girl, she wore black, obsessed over Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and found dating boys much more confusing than many of her friends did. As she grew older, so did her fears and a deep sense of unbelonging. From her first communion to her first girlfriend via a swathe of self-denial, awkward encounters, and everyday courage, Ellie tells her story through gorgeous illustrations—a fresh and funny self-portrait of a young woman becoming herself.

The Times I Knew I Was Gay reminds us that people sometimes come out not just once but again and again; that identity is not necessarily about falling in love with others, but about coming to terms with oneself. Full of vitality and humor, it will ring true for anyone who has taken the time to discover who they truly are.


This graphic memoir is about coming out and growing up. Ellie had a close group of friends as a kid, but she always felt different. She dated boys but didn’t feel the same way about them as her friends did. Ellie came out multiple times before having the courage to live as her true self.

This was an original coming of age memoir. In most stories, when a character comes out, it’s a single moment that changes the course of their life. This book gave another perspective, where a person has to come out many times before finally deciding to live that way. Even though Ellie knew she was gay, she continued dating boys because that’s what her friends did. When she finally accepted herself, she was able to live her true life.

I loved this original graphic memoir!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Love Letters to Jane’s World by Paige Braddock

Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote (illustrator)

Have you read The Times I Knew I Was Gay? What did you think of it?

Review: Sylvie

Title: Sylvie
Author: Sylvie Kantorovitz
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Memoir
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 9, 2021
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

In a wise and witty graphic memoir, a young artist finds her path apart from the expectations of those around her.

Sylvie lives in a school in France. Her father is the principal, and her home is an apartment at the end of a hallway of classrooms. As a young child, Sylvie and her brother explore this most unusual kingdom, full of small mysteries and quirky surprises. But in middle and high school, life grows more complicated. Sylvie becomes aware of her parents’ conflicts, the complexities of shifting friendships, and what it means to be the only Jewish family in town. She also begins to sense that her perceived “success” relies on the pursuit of math and science—even though she loves art. In a funny and perceptive graphic memoir, author-illustrator Sylvie Kantorovitz traces her first steps as an artist and teacher. The text captures her poignant questioning and her blossoming confidence, while the droll illustrations depict her making art as both a means of solace and self-expression. An affecting portrait of a unique childhood, Sylvie connects the ordinary moments of growing up to a life rich in hope and purpose.


Sylvie was born in Morocco and moved to France as a child when her dad got a job as a principal. They lived in the teacher’s school where he worked. Sylvie and her younger brother loved to explore the school. As she got older, Sylvie started to notice her parents arguing and became aware of being different, since they were the only Jewish family in the town. Sylvie was passionate about drawing, but her mom wanted her to have a more secure job, which forced her to study math and science even though she didn’t want to. This was a great coming of age memoir.

This graphic novel consisted of a variety of anecdotes from Sylvie’s life. There were moments with her friends and her siblings. Each chapter was like a snapshot of a moment in her life, which all added up to her childhood.

I loved the illustrations in this graphic novel. They looked like innocent drawings by a child, though they were more detailed than a child’s art. Since they had a childlike simplicity, it reinforced the theme of Sylvie’s childhood.

This is a beautiful graphic memoir!

Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Have you read Sylvie? What did you think of it?

Review: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story

Title: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story
Author: Huda Fahmy
Genre: Memoir, Humour, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition.


This is a hilarious graphic novel memoir about Huda’s experience with an arranged marriage.

It starts with a disclaimer about her wearing a hijab in the illustrations. The character in the graphic novel is an extension of herself, so she is always drawn wearing a hijab. However, in real life, she doesn’t wear it to bed, to shower, or to get her hair done, even though her character in the book does. She made this disclaimer funny, because she said anyone who skipped that disclaimer would wonder why she was wearing it to bed. She drew the character with a hijab every time for consistency in the book, not because that is what she actually does.

I loved the way she compared the courtship of an arranged marriage to a Jane Austen novel. They both have nosy, older women poking their noses into the lives of young people. There were suitors who came to meet her parents, like in an Austen novel. She also had to be chaperoned on any dates, like Austen’s heroines. This was a great way to compare her situation to older novels. It shows how universal these ideas of courtship are, because Jane Austen’s characters were doing the same things hundreds of years ago as what Huda did today.

This is a great graphic novel!

Thank you Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab by Huda Fahmy

Snug: A Collection of Comics About Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd

Have you read That Can Be Arranged? What did you think of it?

Review: Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

Title: Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
Author: Anne Glenconner
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Hachette Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

An extraordinary memoir of drama, tragedy, and royal secrets by Anne Glenconner–a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. As seen on Netflix’s The Crown. Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive the vipers of court life with her sense of humor intact. 

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities. 


This is a memoir written by one of Princess Margaret’s ladies in waiting.

Anne Glenconner has had a fascinating life. She talked a little about her relationship with Princess Margaret and the royal family, but I found her own biography so interesting. Some of the stories were funny, such as how when they were children, Anne and her sister planned how they would kill Hitler themselves if he invaded England. There were also tragedies, like the deaths of two of her children.

Anne was also connected with many famous people. Her husband developed the Caribbean island Mustique, which is still a popular destination for celebrities and royals.

The stories about Princess Margaret were great. Anne gave an inside look at who she was in private. There was a lot more to the book than just Princess Margaret’s life, but there were some interesting anecdotes about her.

This is a great book for readers who are interested in the royal family.

Thank you Hachette Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Black

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

Have you read Lady in Waiting? What did you think of it?

Review: Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir


Title: Son of a Critch: A Newfoundland Memoir
Author: Mark Critch
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A heartfelt and outrageously funny memoir about Newfoundland, family, and being the weirdest kid in school

What could be better than growing up in the 1980s? How about growing up in 1980s Newfoundland, which as Mark Critch will tell you, was more like the 1960s. Critch takes us to where it all began in this tremendously funny and warm look back on his formative years. A “recovering Catholic,” he recalls his many misadventures growing up on the outskirts of a small town. And when your radio-star dad is the talk of the town, and your mom can’t stop talking at all, life at home is always entertaining.

Best known as the “roving reporter” for CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mark Critch has photo-bombed Justin Trudeau, interviewed Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle (while impersonating Alan Doyle), offered Pamela Anderson a million dollars to stop acting, and crashed White House briefings. But in this hilarious debut, we learn that Critch has been causing trouble his whole life. Son of a Critch will have you longing for life in Canada’s most unique province–even if you’ve never been there–and marvelling at how one person’s childhood could be so ridiculously funny.


My favourite comedians are all from Newfoundland: Jonny Harris, Rick Mercer, and, of course, Mark Critch. I was so excited to learn that Mark Critch had written a book, and I knew I had to read it!

Mark Critch is one of the funniest men on TV. The segment on his show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, that I enjoyed the most was based on the news story of the boy who went up in a homemade hot air balloon a few years ago. The actual news story ended up being a hoax. Mark did a parody of this story, which was a baby in a grocery bag that blew into a tree. I still burst out laughing thinking about that sketch! I became a lifelong fan of Mark Critch. (Here’s the link to the clip on Youtube:

If you love 22 Minutes, you will love Son of a Critch! This book was hilarious! Mark’s storytelling from the show was evident in this book. I learned some of the history of Newfoundland from his stories. I loved the stories and I could hear my own relatives from Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland in this book.

I loved this book! I recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh!

What to read next:

  • Canada by Mike Myers

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  • Rick Mercer Report: The Book by Rick Mercer

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Have you read Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir? What did you think of it?

Review: The Victorian and the Romantic: A Memoir, a Love Story, and a Friendship Across Time


Title: The Victorian and the Romantic: A Memoir, a Love Story, and a Friendship Across Time
Author: Nell Stevens
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

History meets memoir in two irresistible true-life romances–one set in 19th century Rome, one in present-day Paris and London–linked by a bond between women writers a hundred years apart

In 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed, Mrs. Gaskell was keen to escape the reviews. So, leaving her dull minister husband and dreary provincial city behind, she set off with her daughters to Rome. There she met a dazzling group of artists and writers, among them the American critic Charles Eliot Norton. Seventeen years her junior, Norton was her one true love. They could not be together–it would be an unthinkable breach of convention–but by his side and amidst that splendid circle, Mrs. Gaskell knew she had reached the “tip-top point of [her] life.”
In 2013, Nell Stevens is embarking on her PhD–about the community of artists and writers living in Rome in the mid-19th century–and falling head over heels for a soulful American screenwriter in another city. As her long-distance romance founders and her passion for academia never quite materializes, she is drawn to Mrs. Gaskell. Could this indomitable Victorian author rescue Nell’s pursuit of love, family and a writing career?
Lively, witty, and impossible to put down, The Victorian and the Romantic is a moving chronicle of two women each charting a way of life beyond the rules of her time.


I’m not usually a fan of nonfiction. The stories have to be very intriguing for me to read them. I loved this book and I couldn’t put it down!

The narrative switched between Nell’s modern story and the story of Elizabeth Gaskell’s life. The story of Elizabeth’s life was unique because it was written in second person, as if you, the reader, are Elizabeth Gaskell. The other stories I have read which are written in second person come across as commanding, but this one sounded like a story that you are a part of.

I’m a huge fan of Victorian literature, so I could relate to Nell’s love of it. I haven’t read any of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work, but her biography of Charlotte Bronte is on my TBR. I’m even more interested in reading it now, after learning about the controversy around it.

I could also relate to Nell’s PhD work. I’m currently working on my Master’s in Creative Writing, so I understood her need to write constantly, but it can be hard when life gets in the way and you don’t feel inspired.

Though this book is nonfiction, it reads like a fictional story. I absolutely loved it!

What to read next:

  • The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell


  • Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World by Nell Stevens


Have you read The Victorian and the Romantic: A Memoir, a Love Story, and a Friendship Across Time? What did you think of it?

Review: Unqualified

Title: Unqualified
Author: Anna Faris
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Anna Faris has advice for you. And it’s great advice, because she’s been through it all, and she wants to tell you what she’s learned. Her comic memoir and first book, Unqualified, will share Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir, part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna’s unique take on how to navigate the bizarre, chaotic, and worthwhile adventure of finding love.

Hilarious, authentic, and actually useful, Unqualified is the book Anna’s fans have been waiting for. 


Anna Faris will always be “that girl who had Monica and Chandler’s babies” to me. She’s so funny! I was so excited when I won the giveaway for her book. 

I liked her stories. All her stories of boyfriends and relationships were quite funny. She seems really down to earth and real, which was nice to read about. 

The book got off to a rough start, with Anna (and Chris in his foreword) saying over and over that she doesn’t know how to write a book. That was frustrating, because if you don’t know how/don’t want to, just don’t do it! But it improved greatly from there. 

One major problem with this book is her relationship with Chris Pratt. In August, they announced they are getting divorced. However, she references her happy marriage many times throughout the book. This really took away a lot of her credibility. If they had waited a few months to announce the divorce, it would have made this book much better (and it would have benefited him as well because he wrote the foreword to the book). I heard that she has revised the book for the final edition so that it commented on her divorce, but my ARC didn’t have these changes. 

Other than that, I enjoyed this book. Even if you aren’t looking for relationship advice, this was a fun memoir to read. 

Shoebox Funeral

Title: Shoebox Funeral
Author: Elizabeth Voltz
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Rating: ★★★

Elizabeth Voltz grew up on a farm in Wolf Creek. She is one of ten kids. She is the second youngest. She often made her own fun by playing with the animals on the farm, particularly the cats. However, this also meant she had to bury her beloved friends starting from a young age. This memoir tells of her experiences with these animals.

I could relate to a lot of what she talked about in regards to the pet cats. She distinguished between the house cats and the barn cats. At my house, we feed a lot of stray cats. I like to play with some of the kittens and they all have names. I understood the emotional attachment she got to them, even when they weren’t really her pets. Often this attachment leads to heartbreak when they get sick or injured beyond recovery.

This is a well written book. I enjoyed a lot of it, but the heartbreaking stories of having to bury pets were too much for me. I’ve had to do that before and it dredged up too many unhappy memories. This is a good book, but too emotional for me.

Just Jen

Title: Just Jen: Thriving Through Multiple Sclerosis
Author: Jen Powley
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Roseway Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Jen Powley was diagnosed with Mulitple Sclerosis at the age of 15. Now she is in her late 30s and has written a memoir about living with MS.

Jen grew up in Alberta and later moved to Halifax, where she has earned multiple degrees. Despite the many challenges she has faced since her diagnosis, Jen never gave up. Rather than dismissing her dreams, she adapted them to her new situation. For example, since she is now in a wheelchair, it would be impossible for her to go rockclimbing like she always dreamed of doing. Instead, she had a colleague strap her to his back while he propelled down the side of a building, making her feel like she was rock climbing.

Jen’s story highlights how inaccessible the world is. When she attended a lecture, she noticed that the wheelchair ramp only led to the seats on the end of the aisles rather than the front podium. This shows that the architect imagined someone in a wheelchair attending a lecture in that room but not actually giving the lecture.

Jen has a great sense of humour. This came across in her narrative. She dictated her book with the help of her assistants because she does not have the use of her hands anymore. It’s amazing that this technology allowed Jen to tell the story of her life.

I had the pleasure of seeing Jen speak at the Festival of Literary Diversity. She is truly inspiring. She has faced many challenges but she never let them stop her. Jen is also very talented, as demonstrated through her poignant, humourous, and touching narrative.