Phony Bologna

A few years ago, I stumbled on a story about a fake heiress in Vanity Fair Magazine that almost knocked me off of my chair! Someone calling themselves a German Heiress had somehow swindled her way into the world of the New York elite and not only scammed individual people, but also several luxury hotels, staying months on end and not paying for it. She also tried to create her own art foundation without a single cent of capital. And, the kicker is that she almost pulled it off! Well, alright, not almost, she definitely was caught, but she made it shockingly far in her pursuits. There was media coverage of the story at the time, but the article left me wanting more; specifically, I wondered about how someone could be so duped, so manipulated and to such a great scale. Luckily, the author of the VF piece, the magazine’s very own photography editor and swindled victim, penned her own novel about her experience. I quickly found out why and how this could happen to anyone.

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams deep dives into her experience with Anna Delvey (a.k.a Anna Sorokin) and her world of lies and manipulation that nearly cost Rachel over $62,000 and a whole lot of personal pride. Meeting Anna through mutual friends at a New York night club, Rachel was soon treated to trips to high-end spas, thermonuclear saunas and endless glasses of wine at exclusive restaurants by her new friend. Things always seemed slightly impossible; Anna was easy going, laid back and not afraid to ask for or take what she wanted, all with an unlimited cash flow, or access. Anna embodied the persona of someone with wealth and for the most part acting was really all she needed to do. Well, that, and a banking loophole, a fake Russian billionaire father, and forged financial documents. But what’s far more interesting is that most of the time she was grifting someone, all she really had to do was ask.

Most people assumed, based on her “lifestyle”, that she was good for it and would pay them back, her father was a billionaire…Right?! Wrong. The money promised never came and Rachel ended up on the hook for a stay at Sir Richard Branson’s five-star luxury resort, La Mamounia in Marrakech (that’s over $7,000 a night). Forced by a few staff and Anna herself, Rachel covered the vacation on her personal and corporate credit cards, and then her nightmare really began.

Rachel chronicles what it’s like for someone who is a victim of this type of scam from a very personal and emotional point of view. It’s extremely tense and you can feel her frustration and stress through her writing. She tries desperately to connect with Anna, who continued traveling after Marrakech, to try and secure payment, only to be ghosted. For months she tried to plead her case with credit card companies, having her hopes crushed more than once. She eventually seeks legal help, but that is no easy pursuit and it takes a long time before anyone really listens to Rachel.  

In the end, well sort of the end, Anna was arrested in Los Angeles and indicted on 6 felony charges and 2 misdemeanors. She was found guilty of all charges but 2 and sentenced to 4-12 years in prison. While she was not found guilty of the misdemeanor charge specifically against Rachel, you can sense that there is some justice for her. Even if it’s only that her story serves as a thorough warning to others, if someone asks to put a luxury vacation on your credit card after promising that it was on them, just don’t do it!

P.S. Anne Sorokin was offered a deal with Netflix to sell her story, with Shonda Rhymes producing. It’s supposed to come out in early 2022.

And if you are interested in more stories about grifters, phony’s and fakes try these:


Diversity of Horror

Halloween is one of my absolute favourite days of the year! As fall settles in and the nights get longer and we creep closer to October 31 there is definitely time to stay inside and read/listen to some spooky stories. 

We are often asked where the horror section is located and if we can recommend some good scary stories. There is no horror section and the books you seek are sometimes in fiction, mystery, science fiction or even graphic novels. Of course there is, for those of us who are true crime lovers out there, the option to browse the non-fiction section (start with call number 364.1) for the next terrifying true crime story. You will notice that many branches will do displays promoting different horror and thriller books especially during the month of Halloween.

For this week’s blog post I have pulled together some thrilling, terrifying and diverse recommendations from around the world that I hope you will enjoy.

Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories

“Taaqtumi” is an Inuktitut word that means “in the dark”–and these spine-tingling horror stories by Northern writers show just how dangerous darkness can be.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Taking place in 1950’s Mexico this book has been called a mash-up of Lovecraft meets Brontë sisters and is a twist on traditional gothic horror.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

A story covering four generations of women in London, England centering on character Miranda Silver who has developed pica, a rare eating disorder that causes its victims to consume nonedible substances. It is a unique and unusual book and is narrated by a malicious house.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

A horror novel with social commentary this book follows four American Indigenous men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives as they are tracked by an entity bent on revenge.

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Originally written in Spanish, this collection of stories have been described as terrifying and socially conscious written with the setting of contemporary Argentina.

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

Psychological horror focusing on a young couple with a dark secret who move into an apartment next to a graveyard. This was originally published in Japan in 1986 and has been translated to English and it still stands as stunning work of horror.

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Originally published in Sweden this is a horror story/thriller of a documentary filmmaker investigating the vanishing residents of an old mining town.

The Lamb will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

This book is more in the science fiction genre but worth reading if you enjoy a queer punk rock anarchist ethos in your spooky stories. The stories centers around a squatter utopian town called Freedom, Iowa and a protector spirit who has turned on its summoners.

Bonus film recommendation:

What we do in the Shadows [DVD}

We have lots of scary movies in our collection for you to borrow (see many of our in library displays which go up around this time) but this is a fun vampire movie you may enjoy coming from Indigenous director Taika Waititi taking place in Australia.

Happy Halloween!


Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award

1990. When I started to write this post I did an outline as I usually do, noted that I wanted to start off with an image of the MYRCA logo, decided which books to include, and so on. So far, pretty much business as usual. But then took a closer look at the date on the webpage and paused. 1990? 1990? MYRCA is 31?!? But that makes me…well, let’s not go there. Happy 31st Anniversary to MYRCA, and many thanks to the incredible authors, readers and students who have been a part of MYRCA over the years.

The 2021 winner from the Sundogs list was The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel, and the honour title was No Girls Allowed by Natalie Corbett Sampson. The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw was the winner in the Northern Lights category, while Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto was named the honour winner.

So which titles will take the winner and honour spots in 2022? We’ll have to wait to find out, but in the meantime you can visit the MYRCA website to get your copy of the Sundogs and Northern Lights lists, then check out the WPL catalogue for the titles.

Here are a few selections to get you started:

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

2022 Sundogs

Morgan doesn’t want to start over with another foster home. But then she and her new foster brother, Eli, find a portal in the attic to another world. They discover Aski, a frozen land where people and animals can still communicate and Ochek, a fisher who can teach them the traditional ways of their people. Can the kids help Ochek save his community and drive back the endless winter that threatens to freeze them all?

Planet Hockey by J. Torres and Tim Levins

A mix-up of galactic proportions finds Isaac and Lily, two human kids, playing hockey for (literally) the worst team in the galaxy. Isaac has not played hockey since breaking his arm in the big game (and costing his team the victory), preferring to limit his playing to online hockey, where he is a star. Lily, a superstar goalie, helps Isaac return to the ice, and in doing so, they both help their new team rise in the ranks of the Galaxian Hockey League.

2022 Northern Lights

Barry Squires, Full Tilt by Heather Smith

Barry Squires is a teenage boy full of energy and somewhat lacking in social skills. In a busy home in St. John’s NL he welcomes a new baby brother with all the love that an older brother can give. As Barry deals with a busy family, a port wine facial birthmark, bullies at school, and Irish Clog Dancing you will come to love his infectious nature and empathize with his pain.

Desperate to be normal, Sara has an extensive checklist she uses to try to fit in. We see her struggle to make friends and adapt to new situations while getting to understand how she lives with mental illness. Her new friend, Erin, helps to bring Sara out of her shell, though Sara will have to deal with difficult situations when she starts to notice something off, and things get tough at home.

So many books, so many authors, so many votes, so much more to look forward to. Happy 31st Anniversary, MYRCA!


Lovecraft Country: Do you DARE???

“And you never know when a meal will be your last . . . None of us do.” Caleb Braithwhite, Lovecraft Country

It’s October and the Time to Read crew are donning their fedoras and climbing behind the wheel of their uncle’s Packard for a road trip INTO THE HEART OF TERROR.

At least that’s the plan. We are reading Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, and we would love it if you kept the light on well past dark and joined us at this smorgasbord of spellbinding spookery.

What’s it all about?

Atticus Turner, a recent veteran of the Korean war, embarks on a road-trip to New England to look for his missing father. His travel companions are his uncle George and his childhood friend, Letitia. Atticus and his uncle George are huge genre fans, especially sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and weird tales. In fact, when Atticus scans the note his father left him, he misreads Ardham, Massachusetts as Arkham: the fictional setting of many H.P. Lovecraft horror stories.

It is 1954, and the United States is not a safe place, especially for Black folks. Uncle George knows this all too well. He is the publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, a “green book” style guidebook that lists hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and the like that are friendly (i.e. not openly hostile) towards Black travellers.

When the trio arrive in Devon County, Massachusetts, Atticus and George can’t help but think they’ve entered into a twisted and terrible mythological corner of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination.

As the New York Times Review of Books put it, “at every turn, Ruff has great fun pitting mid-twentieth century horror and sci-fi clichés against the banal and ever-present bigotry of the era. And at every turn, it is the bigotry that hums with the greater evil.”

Lovecraft Country has been turned into an HBO series as well, produced by J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele.

In the meantime, please check out our latest episode where we discuss Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Talk about a horror show! (Spoilers: we were AMBIVALENT).

Until next time, make sure you give yourself enough TIME TO READ.


What’s New in the Local History Room? (September 2021)

As Fall is upon us there are exciting new local reads to discover, available for lending from branches in our system, or if you drop by the Local History Room at Millennium Library.

A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Wednesday March 17, 2021 - Winnipeg  Free Press

First is a local entry in the growing field of “COVID confidential” literature: editor Paul Samyn recently released Notes from a pandemic : a year of life and death Winnipeg Free Press, which started off as a series of nightly entries about COVID-19 in a newsletter for the newspaper. Samyn took 300 entries, the earliest from March 17, 2020 when the pandemic hit the city and finishing in March 2021, to create this book. The missives mix straightforward information with political commentary, pandemic peculiarities, humour, inspiring stories, and personal accounts of Samyn’s (and family members’) experiences and insights during a very long year. This is a very timely and relatable read, or re-read since the newsletter itself ended up with a viewership surpassing 100,000 readers!

Cover image for Did you see us? : reunion, remembrance, and reclamation at an urban Indian residential school

Another subject to read and learn about is the Residential Schools tragedy, which unfolded for many decades from coast to coast. The book Did you see us? : reunion, remembrance, and reclamation at an urban Indian residential school focuses on the Assiniboia Indian Residential School between 1958 and 1973. It was the first residential high school in Manitoba and one of the only residential schools in Canada to be located in a large urban setting. Did You See Us? offers a glimpse of Assiniboia that is not available in the archival records. It stitches together memories of arrival at, day-to-day life within, and departure from the school with a socio-historical reconstruction of the school and its position in both Winnipeg and the larger residential school system. Stories transcribed from oral interviews from survivors are mixed with anecdotes from former teachers and community members, plus it contains illustrations and poems. For more resources and reading suggestions about this very important subject, explore our Residential Schools Info Guide .

Cover image for Thinking big : a history of the Winnipeg business community to the Second World War

Local historian Jim Blanchard (author of Winnipeg 1912 and A Diminished Roar) treats us again with another engaging read about our city. In Thinking big : a history of the Winnipeg business community to the Second World War, the focus is on the Winnipeg business community from pre-contact Indigenous trading up to 1939, how it dealt with challenges such as the Great Depression and post-World War I depression, and organized itself to take advantage of periods of growth and prosperity. Focus is given to local entrepreneurs like Sam Stall and Andrew McDermot, and companies like Great-West Life that rose in that period and left their marks on the city. Blanchard’s research cover the years of the fur trade, the rise of the wheat economy, the creation of the Board of Trade, and then the “boom years” at the turn of the twentieth century where industry and agriculture expanded and diversified until slowed by the Great War and the General Strike. The 1920’s saw sectors like the garment, manufacturing and hydroelectricity production flourish until the Great Depression stopped economic growth until the Second World War began. This is a well-researched book filled local stories and anecdotes about the people that helped make Winnipeg what it is today.


Finally, Mennonite village photography : views from Manitoba, 1890-1940 features the work of four Mennonite photographers from villages in southern Manitoba at the turn of the 20th century. Unlike the formal portraits taken by professional photographers of the time, these restored images collected from archives and family collections provide a clear view into Mennonite life and early settlement in Manitoba. Though two of the photographers, Heinrich D. Fast and Johann E. Funk, were encouraged by their respective churches to give up their hobby in preparation for baptism and marriage, all four nonetheless captured an array of subjects both posed and candid, and the images reveal something of how they saw their worlds. The quality of some of these photographs is truly great, and show the viewer a time and place rarely seen before.

Come and check them out.

~ Louis-Philippe

Good things come in small packages

Good things come in small packages, so they say. Our recent battle with a microscopic virus might suggest otherwise, but truth be told I’ve always been fascinated by tiny things. Now, I’m not talking about everything that is tiny, surely not everything tiny can be that interesting, I’m talking more about scale. Objects, even stories, that are molded after something much larger and scaled down, to a miniature representation, now that’s what I am talking about.

It all started when I myself, was little. As a kid who spent a lot of time in hockey arenas, I really loved small toys that could easily fit into my pocket. It wasn’t all about easy transport though, it had to be the right kind of miniature object. For me, that was usually something animal related; something that I could build a good narrative around. Thus, a lifelong obsession began. I’ve been looking for, collecting and now making my own collections of miniatures for as long as I can remember.

I often scour the library catalogue every month, stalking all the new non-fiction. Looking for books and resources about all things miniature, crafting and modeling making. I just so happened to stumble upon a book that captured my attention, that I could not pass up; Tiny Love Stories: True tales of love in 100 words or less. While I’m not normally a fan of the romance genre, I thought it couldn’t be that bad, they are tiny stories after all.

I was pleasantly surprised. I can assure you that all of the stories are tiny, 100 or less, all of them are about love and all of them are impactful in some way. Edited by Daniel Jones and Miya Lee, Tiny Love Stories is based off of the New York Times personal essay column Modern Love, now a book, podcast, and television show on Amazon Prime in its second season. It started as a challenge from the editors to the readers, to share a love story in 100 words or less. Submissions came in from all types of social media platforms, and the most compelling, funny, and charming were selected and Tiny Love Stories was formed. 

Though small, these tiny stories are majorly impactful, some brought tears to my eyes and stayed with me longer than full length novels I have read recently. Some were just really cute or funny, and many of them were extremely relatable. All of the stories are rooted in love in some way, but not all of the stories are happy. There is lots of evidence of hurt, betrayal and regret expressed; some familiar, some less. All of the stories have a realness about them, they aren’t perfect by any means, but they are honest. A few of my favourites include “Grandpa, I’m on the Toilet,” “Dakota’s Best Prom Date,” “The Flamingo Connection” and “The Dress I Can’t Throw Away.”

My love of miniature things has only expanded after reading these tiny stories, and it has only affirmed something I feel I’ve always known, some good things still do come in small packages, even stories.

If you are interested in more, true life love stories, Daniel Jones has edited two other books, that expand upon Tiny Love Stories. Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers) an exploration of love based of the thousands of submissions to the New York Times columnist reviews every year and Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption that chronical eight true stories that inspired the television show.


Video games are fun for everyone.

Video games are meant to be just one thing: Fun! Fun for everyone.

~ Satoru Iwata

The library has video games. This is great for a couple of reasons: you can try a game out to help you decide if you want to buy it, or you can save your money and only borrow games.

We offer video games for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch. And we have them for kids, teens, and adults. All games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) so you can pick and choose. Visit their website for the list of ratings and details about what each rating means.

Here are some of the games that have been added to the collection recently (game descriptions provided by the game developers):

Balan Wonderworld (Switch, PS4, XBSX)

Rating: E 10+

“Balan Wonderworld is a 3D action platformer game themed around the Balan Theatre. Led by the enigmatic Maestro named Balan, the stars of the show Emma and Leo will use special abilities from a multitude of characterful costumes as they adventure in the bizarre and imaginary land of wonder world. Twelve different tales await our stars in the Wonderworld, each with their own unique quirks. They will explore all corners of these stages, filled with a myriad of tricks and traps, to get to the heart of each story.”

Harvest Moon (PS4, Switch)

Rating: E

“Ride camels across the deserts of Pastilla, venture deep into the snowy mountains of Salmiakki, and visit a volcano near the mountain town of Lebkuchen. Can you imagine a world without cabbage, tomatoes, or even carrots? In the world you’ll find yourself in at the beginning of Harvest Moon, the Harvest Goddess, the queen of crops herself, has vanished. Before she vanished she imbued the tiny Harvest Wisps with the knowledge of various seeds to ensure the fruits and vegetables of the world would not be lost. Using the power given to these Harvest Wisps, you’ll unlock various seeds as you progress through the game.”

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville (PS4, Switch, XBOX ONE)

Rating: E 10+

“Kick some grass in Plant vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville, the wackiest shooter game yet! Unearth 20 fully customizable character classes at launch. Customize every character for battle. Bring the unique abilities of each character class to six pvp modes. Venture to the outer edges of Neighborville, squad up with up to three friends in the Giddy Park social region, and take back Weirding Woods, Mount Steep, and Neighborville town centre.”

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (PS4, Switch, XBOX ONE)

Rating: E 10+

“It’s about time – for a brand-wumping new Crash Bandicoot game! Crash Four Ward into a time shattered adventure with your favorite marsupial. Neo Cortex and N. Tropy are back at it again and launching an all-out assault on not just this universe, but the entire Multiverse! Crash and Coco are here to save the day by reuniting the four quantum masks and bending the rules of reality.”

Little Nightmares II (PS4, Switch, XBSX)

Rating: T

“Little Nightmares II is a suspense-adventure game in which you play as Mono, a young boy trapped in a world that has been distorted by a mysterious transmission from a distant signal tower. With Six, the girl in a yellow raincoat, Mono sets out to discover the dark secrets of The Signal Tower and save Six from her terrible fate; but their journey will not be easy as Mono and Six will face an array of new threats from the terrible residents of this world.”

Want to explore the entire video games collection? Here’s the link for the list in the library catalogue!


Mouth-Watering Meal Plans

September signals a change in the menu. The garden salads of summer are coming to an end and fall fruits and vegetables are ready. Yummy squash, potatoes, corn and apples from the garden (or farmer’s markets) are so delicious they inspire new recipes and supper ideas.

Unfortunately, I don’t find it easy to create meals off the top of my head. I need good recipes and pre-planning to ensure healthy and appetizing foods are on the menu. To assist me with this I use library resources such as Vegan Yack Attack’s Plant-Based Meal Prep by Jackie Sobon. It is an easy-to-read favourite with daily plans and recipes. Cook When You Can Eat When You Want by Caroline Pessin is also a plan ahead recipe book. You can spend a few hours a week prepping and have meals ready quickly and easily on the busy days. Great idea.

Weekly Provisions by Kim Duke focuses on seasonal foods to provide food prep encouragement. And also has creative ideas to transform leftovers into mouthwatering fare. The Six O’Clock Scramble Meal Planner by Aviva Goldfarb incorporates 8 weeks of daily recipes for each season, and a shopping list for every week! Talk about making meal planning easy.

100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous by Lisa Leake is a highly detailed book which even has a full meal plan template and a shopping list template. It also includes seasonal recipes. Vegan Meal Prep. by Robin Abbell has even more great meal prep plans.

As you can see there are no shortage of meal planning books in the library. Check one (or more!) out and simplify your cooking life. I’m looking forward to doing the same. Happy cooking! 


Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

News. We get it through word of mouth, the web, social media, newspapers, magazines, podcasts, email, radio, and television. Everywhere you look there’s news: good, bad, true, false, and questionable. At the library, part of our role is to connect you with information and help you wade through it too.

With so much news readily available an important life skill to have (and build) is media literacy.

To be media literate means that you can access media, analyze it, evaluate it, and produce it yourself. One of the Branch Head Librarians at WPL, Trevor, created a very helpful information guide on this topic – Media Literacy and Spotting Fake News. It shares information about what media literacy is, how to spot fake news, and much more. Here are some resources that Trevor has shared through it. Visit the guide for even more resources.

Fact-checking websites ↗

We love our fiction books, but when it comes to news do we want fact or fiction? This page lists organizations that fact-check.

Media smart kids ↗

If you’re a parent or caregiver you will likely need to navigate through the world of video games and social media with your kid(s). There are lots of good resources to help you from MediaSmarts.

Bad News game ↗

A game created by two Cambridge University researchers to show you how easy it is to create and share bad/fake news by becoming (not really) a person who creates it! Read the background on the game.

Feel like putting your media literacy skills to the test?

Building up media literacy skills takes time, but you can start testing them out immediately. Check out PressReader – one of our online resources for news sources from around the globe. We also offer several additional sources for news-related information. After you read or listen to media ask yourself some key questions like these from Common Sense Media:

  • Who created the message and why?
  • Whose perspectives are included and whose are missing?
  • Who paid (or is paying) for the message?
  • How is the message trying to get your attention? Is the language extreme or characterized by all-or-nothing statements? Does the message simplify or over generalize?
  • Are there any resources to support what’s being said?

Need help finding information about a subject to get the fullest picture possible? Ask us!


Love in the Time of Covid

Or Cholera, I guess?

That’s right. The Time To Read Book Club Podcast will be discussing Love in the Time of Cholera by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Nobel Laureate and Fashion Icon: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If you are planning on reading along with us this month, you may be wondering if you should be looking under the “M”s for Marquez, or perhaps under the “G”s for Garcia?

Well! Allow me to link to a blog post that talks all about the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2) and how they deal with multiple surnames. (Or, if this kind of “inside library” talk is not your thing: G. You’ll find him with the “G”s).

Now, I am just starting the book, so to avoid any uninformed opinions and to skirt the spoiler issue, I am just going to assume it’s a love story between people who suffer from unrelenting diarrhea and periodic vomiting. Or am I getting cholera mixed up with dysentery? I guess I’ll just have to read the novel and find out!

In the meantime, why not listen to our most recent episode, where we discuss Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing?