Category Archives: Authors

The Masked Truth does a lot of unmasking.

Masked-Truth-NA-web (1)

Kelley Armstrong is not hesitating to go straight for the real stuff with The Masked Truth.  Although there is more representation of mental health in literature lately, there is still not nearly enough, especially in teen fiction, and this book is a valuable addition.

Teens at a group therapy session are taken hostage by masked killers, seemingly for the purpose of ransom – one of the participants comes from a very rich family.  The truth of the situation is far less straightforward, and a lot of secrets are going to come out before it’s all over.

Spoiler alert: if you don’t want to know anything more, stop reading.

I want to stand up and applaud Armstrong for her main characters.  The protagonist is struggling with PTSD, and the love interest has schizophrenia.  Armstrong shoots straight for the heart with the turmoil and fear they feel, and the struggles they endure, with so much compassion for the characters.  You don’t love Riley and Max despite their mental health – it is included in who they are, and are that much braver because of it.  There is great diversity among the characters too, on many different levels, and it makes the story feel much richer than most YA.  Even the villains aren’t one-dimensional.  I would call this YA literature.

There is some very on-point dealing with stigmatization and misunderstandings  – survivor’s guilt, PTSD, schizophrenia, homosexuality, racism.  There’s corruption, ashamed parents, estranged friends.  Well done, Ms. Armstrong – this is a book that a kid dealing with one of these things will read and think “Maybe being different isn’t bad.  Maybe it means you are that much tougher.  That much stronger.  That you are a hero for living every day with something not many other people understand.  And maybe out there, I will find someone who does.”

Bit too neat of an ending, but otherwise great.  Highly, highly recommend it.

Christie

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Review, Teen Books

Terry Pratchett & Bromeliads

Thanks to xkcd for this.

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, General Awesomeness

The End of the Discworld – Terry Pratchett has Died

 

pratchett-portrait

It is with true sadness that I report the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, at the age of 66.  It is sadness for me, because I love his work beyond that of any other.  Because reading Thud! transported me to a wonderful world and a literary journey that will impact my life forever.  His barbed wit was apparent in novels for both children and adults, and I have loved them all.

I am happy for him, however, because I know he wanted nothing more than to escape his brain that was slowly being ravaged by Alzheimer’s, taking away that quick mind and sly humour.

Thank you, Sir Terry, for all of the joy you have given me.  May you rest in peace, and may the goddess Anoia watch over you.

Christie

 

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Books

I Will Ask Your Questions!

04-kazuo-ishiguro.w215.h143.2x images (1) images

Hey guys,  I am super excited that I am going to get to meet Kazuo Ishiguro, Linden MacIntyre, and John Boyne in the next little while.  How cool is that?  Not only meet them, but ask them questions – and I am willing to ask some on your behalf.  Post ’em here, and I will bring back as many answers as I can.

Christie

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books

As far as Flavia De Luce is concerned, Having a skeleton in the closet (or chimney) is a good thing.

9780385678391

I love Flavia.  She is one of my favorite characters – Alan Bradley has done such a good job with her I can imagine sitting together and making sarcastic assessments of passers-by.  Accordingly, I snapped up As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust almost before it hit the shelf, the latest in the mystery series that has won pretty much every big mystery award out there.  Flavia is a brilliant, mouthy twelve-year-old who loves chemistry, particularly the poisonous kind.  She is almost always far smarter than the adults around her, possesses no tact whatsoever – and has the habit of stumbling over dead bodies.  In this book, she has been “banished” to a boarding school in Canada, which may or not be a front for a secret spy training facility.  Things start looking up when a dead body falls out of the chimney in her room.

I was fortunate enough to join Alan Bradley for high tea at Toronto’s Windsor Arms along with other booksellers and some representatives of Penguin Random House.   Firstly, I highly recommend having high tea there.  If you don’t have your own fancy hat, they have ones you can use for a small donation to charity, and the food and tea was amazing (I indulged in lapsang souchong, which is the most wonderful tea for winter).  Also, I got to wear my own fancy hat. I was seated next to Alan, who I would happily have tea with on a weekly basis.  Originally from Ontario, Alan now resides in England, and is such an excellent source of British television and film recommendations that we started taking notes.

He spoke about fond memories of family book readings, where adults took turns reading aloud, and the children were allowed to stay up until the story was over.   I thought this sounded like a wonderful idea, and we discussed the impact of reading aloud to children, and favorite read-aloud books (I mentioned Narnia, and Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk).  This series would actually be a wonderful one for that purpose, because it would be entirely appropriate to read to children, but has a sly subtext for adults.

Some of the booksellers spoke about having books you saved for reading when you needed a treat, or to be cheered up, or to make up for the other book you had to read because it won an award likely due to the judges panel being drunk (this seems to happen frequently).  Alan Bradley is our reading reward, our book dessert.  Flavia is delicious, and not to be missed.

 

Christie

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Review

Fairyland Isn’t Just for Kids

FairylandbyCatherynneValente

One of the most magical things in the world is a book that transcends age and era.  Although this brings to mind for most people classics like The Hobbit, or Treasure Island, people are in fact still writing these books.  Catherynne M. Valente is one of those people.

Her Fairyland series captured my eye with its first title, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a title.  A title to make you dream, to entice… where you feel like the only proper place to read it is in a blanket fort, with a flashlight, immediately.

My nine-year-old daughter adores it, and so do I.  The writing is just beautiful; whimsical and perfect.  You will fall in love with the characters, with the story, with the author.  You will want to get your friends together for an adventure in your tree fort (if you don’t have adult friends who are willing to have adventures in tree forts, find new friends). This, along with The Boundless, makes me remember why I have loved books for as long as I can remember.

Indulge yourself.  Pick up this book series.  Go home and make a blanket fort, grab a flashlight, and read (it’s a grown-up blanket fort, so feel free to make it fancy and include wine).

If your kids are really well behaved, maybe you’ll let them borrow it.

 

Christie

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, children's books, Review

Why You Should Buy a Copy of Walking Home Right Now

download (1)

Eric Walters is a bestselling writer of books, ranging from picture books for the littlest to adventure novels for teens.  Kids are drawn to his books because he doesn’t hesitate to tackle major issues – 9/11, war, poverty – but he does it at their level.  He’s also a very cool guy.

He runs an orphanage in Kenya.  He covers all the administrative fees.  He is an elder in the Kumba tribe – as he puts it, “the whitest Kumba ever.”  And Walking Home is based on true events, and some of the kids he has gotten to know there.

In Walking Home, a brother and sister have been forced to move to a refugee camp, after political violence ended in their father’s death and the destruction of their home.  While in camp, their mother dies of malaria.  Rather than be separated into different orphanages, they make the decision to slip away from camp in the night, and try to find their maternal grandparents, who they have never met, in a town no one has ever heard of.  They have no money to speak of, so the journey of hundreds of kilometres will be on foot.

It is a moving story, and it’s enhanced by the fact that Walters walked the walk – literally.  He made the journey they did, and the text has symbols throughout the book where you can go to the book’s website and watch a video clip, or see a photo, or hear the sounds of Kenya.  It is an immersive experience – and listening to Walters talk about Kenya, his compassion for her people, his amazement at their strength – well, I dare you to stay unmoved.  I certainly was touched.

In fact, my whole bookstore was touched to the point where we decided we were going to sell as many copies as we could.  Since the publisher has committed to donating $1.30 from the sale of each copy of walking home to Walters’ charity, Creation of Hope ( creationofhope.com )   we found out from Walters that selling 77 copies of the book in store was enough to run the orphanage for a day.

At last count, we had sold almost enough for three days – more than 200 copies.  We received the following photo:

10687422_805579612817063_586601295891653422_o

So, help out.  Buy a great book, help a great cause.  You have nothing to lose, and they have everything to gain.

Christie

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Bookstore, children's books, General Awesomeness, Retail, Review, Teen Books

Fall Reading!!

I love this time of year.  I love the changing leaves, the pumpkin-flavored everything, and I have kind of a sweater and boots fetish.  But that is all secondary to… FALL BOOK RELEASES!  Sorry, sorry, got a little excited.

Some of what’s coming looks great – and some of it not so great.  Without further ado…

Visions by Kelley Armstrong

This is the book I’m currently reading.  I love Kelley Armstrong, and the second book of her latest adult fiction series is fantastic (no pun intended).  I do wish that the main character was a little less wishy-washy in this one, but I have high hopes – Kelley Armstrong has a strong history of kick-ass female characters who don’t wait around to be rescued.

 

THE QUEEN OF TEARLING

 

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Soooooooo good.  I really can’t do a good enough job of describing how good.  There’s been a lot of buzz around this book because it features a tough woman with drive and compassion, is royalty, and ISN’T BEAUTIFUL.  Or even merely pretty.  That fact doesn’t make you lose the story, though… and the story is wonderful.  Really, the main problem with this book is that it is the first of a series, and I read it really quickly, and now I have to wait way too long for the next one.  Also that one of my kids spilled coffee all over my copy.  Sigh.  Waste of coffee and a great book.  I guess I’m off to get another copy.

rs_634x980-140520152707-BoFIxFTCQAAJ0jV

I love Neil Patrick Harris.  If you have never watched 1) Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog 2)Neil’s Puppet Dreams, go do it now.  Especially #1.  They are both free on You Tube, and not kid friendly.    Done?  Ok.  NPH’s Choose Your Own Autobiography drops October 14th here in Canada, and you bet I will be right there, getting my copy.  It’s pure NPH style, a little truth with a lot of poking fun at himself with a dash of the absurd thrown in.  Here’s the blurb from the book:

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?
Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further thanNeil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based-life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, and make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

 

There will be more recommendations and reviews coming, not to fret.  I am partly limiting the length of this post because of the banner you may have noticed displaying before my post loaded.  I, along with Twitter, Etsy, Netflix, WordPress and others are participating in Internet Slowdown in support of net neutrality – slowing down our sites on purpose to give you an idea of what the internet could be like if some of the big telecom companies get their way.  If you want more information, check out https://openmedia.org/

Christie

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Review

Mirror Sight

I love Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series.  Love it.  I make people read it.  My dad, not normally a fantasy fan, enjoyed it.  So the minute I saw Mirror Sight had arrived at the store, I carried it around with me like a stuffed toy until I was able to purchase it.

Then, when I got it home, and eagerly cracked open the cover, I realized that I had no idea what was going on.  It had been too long since I read Blackveil (which I also leaped upon when it first released).  No help for it, I went back and re-read the whole series, and thoroughly enjoyed it.   Then I got to Mirror Sight.

Mirror Sight is very, very different from all the previous books in the series.  It almost feels like it was written by a different author.  It is supposed to take place more than a hundred years later than the timeline the rest of the series is based in, and it’s… weird.  Very steampunk, and way more classic romance.  The rest of the series featured Karigan, the heroine, constantly in over her head, but through cleverness, ingenuity, luck, and loyal friends managing to (barely) survive, and even triumph.  Mirror Sight consisted of Karigan being mostly helpless, almost constantly unconscious, and relying on another character to rescue her.   A lot.

I’m not sure how much of my annoyance stems from how much of a departure this is from the other books – perhaps if this was a standalone story, written in this style, I would have enjoyed it.   It’s hard to tell.  It’s still a well told tale, and I whipped through it, all 770 pages.

My verdict is read it, but wait for the paperback.  Here’s hoping the next book in the series is a return to the character I know and love.

Christie

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Review, steampunk

Farley Mowat, Famed Author and Environmentalist, Dead at 92

It is with great sadness that I report the death of beloved Canadian author, Farley Mowat.  His stories led me through adventure and beautiful landscapes as a child, like in The Curse of the Viking Grave, or and Never Cry Wolf is still one of my favorite books of all time.  One of the first great environmental activists, a holder of the Order of Canada, his legend will live on for a long time. His was a life we should all aspire to.

Christie

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books in the News