Toronto: spoiled for choice, pt. 3

We did an awful lot of shopping in Toronto for people that hardly do any shopping at all.  Chinatown, Eaton’s Centre, the tunnels that burrow under downtown like subterranean malls.  Our favourite shops are always the kinds that specialize in things we have passions for.  Like games.  Or books.

Today I have recommendations so you can be spoiled for choice, too. Books to read, a shop to visit, a game to play.


Dominion is an amazing game.  How to explain it?  You start with a little money and that’s all, but you buy cards that give you extra money or extra action, and you just build and build your deck. Simple, elegant game play.  Basically, my mother says, the game is about shopping.  Which cracks me up since Mom has never before been a game enthusiast and doesn’t much like shopping. Both Mom and Tias have taken to this game in a way that surprises me.

The addictiveness of this game comes from the fact that while the box contains 25 cards you can use, you only ever put 10 on the table for a game. Each game can hold a different permutation of cards.  Making this one box full of variations and strategies.  It begs you to try ‘just one more game’ to tweak things a little. I can see why this has won so many awards, including the much-coveted ‘Spiel des Jahres’. We chose to get the ‘Intrigue’ expansion because it plays both as a stand-alone game and it allows you to combine with the original game to play with more than 4 players. This means my family can have big matches when my sister is in town.

Since the game has entranced all of us from kids to adults, dabblers to hard-core game enthusiasts, I’d say you might want to try it.

Bakka Phoenix Books

“We have a 13 yr old daughter who’s just getting into fantasy. Do you have any titles we should look at?” And then the deluge happened. We left with 4 books and a list of more.  She gave wonderful 1 minute summaries of all sorts of novels. She reminded me of the best librarian I’d ever dreamed of – bright, passionate about books, enthusiastic, thoughtful. I’d try to be her friend if we lived nearby.

When I think of a store specializing in fantasy and sci-fi, I think of a dimly lit store, populated by people who look unmarried, and a toilet I’d be hesitant to use.  I do enjoy the books, though, and since it’s been a while since I really dipped my toes into the genre (having largely given up on fiction in order to remember to parent, keep the house from burning, brush my hair…) I thought I’d look in and see.  I love that Sandra’s attracted to fantasy, but it often deals with very mature themes and I don’t want to wander blindly into something.

These books all sound so good I’m having a huge internal debate about whether or not Sandra needs the joy of being the ‘first reader’ and that satisfying stiffness of the spine, or whether I should ask to read them.  Perhaps it’s just that the woman at the shop did such a good job of introducing the themes and characters of the books that I feel like I know them a little and want to know them better.

Bakka Phoenix in Toronto is to be recommended.  As are the books that we brought home.  Look them up and see if you don’t want to get to know them better.

The Goose Girl:  Grimm’s fairytale retold.

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret: I can’t summarize this as well as she did.  Suffice it to say, the three kinds of magic in this land make for a very intriguing concept. Secret keepers, truth tellers, dream makers.

The Thief: a Newberry Honor book

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld: Sandra’s been wanting this for a year.  Gems of Pratchett’s writing.  She’s using it for copywork this week.


5 thoughts on “Toronto: spoiled for choice, pt. 3

  1. Rora114 says:

    DOMINION!!!!! It rules. I love how addicted the family has become. Can you imagine the fun at the Derksunion this spring? 😀

    75 decks between your game and our two. Endless possibilities!!

    I’m also glad you found the Wit and Wisdom book. I know how much Sandra’s wanted it.

  2. Charity says:

    The game Dominion sounds awesome – I’ll have to look for it!

    I’m glad to hear your book recommendations – we started reading the Percy Jackson series last fall after you mentioned taking it camping, and my 3 big kids have been in love with it all winter. We’re just finishing book 5, and have been casting about for a new series that will hold everyone’s attention the same way. We’ll have to check a few of these out…

  3. Kika says:

    Has she read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy? They are really good and my son, who likes fantasy, definitely enjoys Tolkein.

  4. Crystal says:

    One of my absolute favorite books from my early teens was The Hunters Moon by O.R. Melling, and in my early twenties I read the two books that came after. I have read The Hunters Moon many many times since I was a very young woman, and still love it. One of my favorite things about it was the Canadian connection, as the main character is from Canada. This link contains a synopsis of The Hunters Moon:

    This link is O.R. Mellings own website:

    And now I see there is a fourth book, so off I go to reread it all!

    I hope you give this author a try!

  5. Kris says:

    Thank you for these titles and thank you for your glorious jewel like writing. I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m hooked.

    My nearly 10 year old also appreciates the book suggestions 🙂 She’s expanded her birthday wish list.

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