Today’s advent discovery on StumbleUpon is more than 100 literary masterpieces bound in the finest electronic leather.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Mark Grambau’s poster series celebrates the form, dynamism, and unique aesthetics of superheroes. Each characters is represented with their iconic color palette, silhouette, and catchphrase or slogan.
See more posters here: http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Superherovillain-posters/194362/?_nospa=true
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
How Kindle’s Paperwhite Technology Works
The Kindle Paperwhite uses a unique lighting system to illuminate its electronic ink display. Rather than using a backlight as on LCD-based tablets, the Paperwhite uses a transparent light guide that directs light from four edge-mounted LEDs down toward the surface of the display. See how it all works!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Today’s StumbleUpon Advent find is 13 “Top 100 Books” lists combined and condensed into one master list. That’s 623 books in all!
Notables reads for me within in the top 100:
The Catcher in the Rye
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Monday, December 02, 2013
Day 2 of my StumbleUpon advent calendar. This one is beautiful!
照片 189 by Ginger Garden
Sunday, December 01, 2013
The Christmas spirit has captured me this year so each day I’m going to play with StumbleUpon as a little digital advent calendar. Instead of a paper calendar I’m going to push the StumbleUpon button and see what I get. One a day, leading up to Christmas. I’ll post the reveal here for you to also enjoy.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Todd Babiak’s latest novel about a Canadian family accidentally caught up with mobsters in the south of France needs to be read with the lights on and the doors locked!
This is not earnest Canadiana. Babiak has written a spine-tingling, torture-ridden, political drama about the Kruse family who end up hunted by a Corsican crime family hired by a political party with connections throughout the country and in the gendarmerie.
Christopher and Evelyn Kruse bring their 4-year-old daughter Lily to South France in an attempt to rekindle their love. Instead they are driven apart when their daughter is hit and killed by a drunk driver who happens to be their landlord and the poster-boy candidate for the Front National party, Jean-Francois de Musset. The next morning Jean-Francois and his wife are found brutally murdered, Evelyn is on the run, and Christopher discovers Russian goons hired by a Corsican crime family are hunting his wife. He must draw on his security forces training and own investigative skills to find her before they do.
Come Barbarians is a fantastic thriller where South France is as much a character as Christopher himself; dark, mysterious and desperately seeking some form of stasis.
If you like The Wire tv series, you’ll like Come Barbarians.
I think I also enjoyed this novel because we were in South France last year and visited many of the towns mentioned in the book, including Vaison-la-romaine where the book opens.
Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak
Published by HarperCollins
Thursday, October 31, 2013
My little jailbird is out at a halloween party today.
No problem getting the cuffs off.
For Milk Rustlin’
Also wanted for stealing candy from monkeys.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Third Generation Bookseller BLACK BOND BOOKS Celebrates 50 Years! (CNW Group/Black Bond Books)
Oh hooray for Black Bond Books! Canada’s largest independent bookselling group—based in BC—is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this October. Black Bond Books was founded in Brandon, Manitoba in 1963, by Madeline Neill, now retired. She moved to BC in 1972, and with the help of her children, Cathy, Vicky and Michael, the company grew to 10 locations over the years. A true, family business, Madeline’s daughter Cathy Jesson is President, granddaughter, and third generation bookseller Caitlin Jesson manages the Vancouver location, and Mel Jesson, business partner, keeps the financials in order. (Source: Press Release)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Calling All Historians & Journalists! Do you know about the Michael Fellman Award? This $1000 award was co-established by the SFU History Department and The Tyee to honour a piece of publicly accessible writing that offers a bold, erudite political analysis tied to history.
The inaugural prize honours this historian’s skill at unpacking complex issues and providing context to current day and historical events. Fellman passed away in 2012 and the Michael Fellman Award was created to reflect his spirit of public engagement, bold thought, clear analysis, and writing that rests on well-researched historical understanding.
The submission deadline is fast approaching! Entries are due before November 1.
Deadline: Nov 1
Full details are available here:
More about Michael Fellman, professor emeritus of history at SFU and historian of the 19th Century, the Civil War, and American Violence: Michael Fellman in Memoriam: an essay by Christopher Phelps
Monday, October 14, 2013
The Edmonton Public Library is celebrating 100 years and one of my favourite writers is the author of the Library’s grand story. Just Getting Started: Edmonton Public Library’s First 100 Years, 1913-2013 by Todd Babiak is published by the University of Alberta Press.
If you live in Edmonton, U of A Press has released 17 copies of the book “into the wild”, one for each branch of the library. The idea is for people to take a photo of the book and share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are all good spots), then leave the book somewhere new. Use the hashtags #epl100, #eplbooktravels to spread the message.
The launch is part of LitFest, on Tuesday, October 22 at 7 pm at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre. The event is free, and everyone is welcome. You should RSVP asap though at http://litfestalberta.com/events/just-getting-started#.UlwR1WRAQi4.
Regardless of where you live, the EPL is also allowing free downloads of the ebook (PDF, EPUB, and Kindle formats) from its website. EPL.ca/100/book. Look for the tabs with extra content, excerpts, contests, etc.
I don’t have any connection to Edmonton personally but I do love Babiak’s writing and he’s brought the EPL’s story to life through a series of stand-alone, yet interlinked chapters. The archival photos are wonderful and the story of the Library is really the story of a city.
I really liked this chapter “The Violinist with a Broom,” which is a story about one of the library’s janitors turned music director. Russian-born Nicholas Alexeef was hired by the library as a janitor in 1928 but nobody knew, or asked, about his training, which happened to be as a violinist. He was trained by a professor from the Paris Conservatory, took his examinations at the Petrograd Conservatory, and for one winter lived with one of the greatest teachers of the century, the Hungarian violinist Leopold Auer, in Saint Petersburg. But a year before he could complete his studies, he was drawn into military service, fought on the anti-communist side, fled, and arrived in Canada in 1924. I won’t tell you how he became the music director because you should really just read the story. In fact, read the whole book! It’s filled with really interesting stories of the people of Edmonton and how the Library played a central role in the politics and development of the city.
Here’s Todd Babiak talking about the book.
Todd Babiak is the perfect author for this book because he’s a great writer (check out his new book Come Barbarians or my reviews of his previous books, The Garneau Block and The Book of Stanley), plus he lives in Edmonton and was a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. Did I mention, I love his writing?
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Very excited for my friends Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White who have just launched their new publishing venture, Page Two.
Page Two is a new form of agency for non-fiction authors needing help navigating the full range of publishing options from traditional publishing routes to self-publishing and digital publishing. Jesse and Trena are publishing veterans with a ton of experience and high-level of detail so there’s no doubt in my mind that their clients will be in good hands.
Author and publisher services:
• Writing coaching and editorial support
• Career strategizing that considers the full range of publishing options, including self-publishing
• Traditional author representation to the book trade
• Sourcing printers, POD, and distribution services
• Sourcing skilled freelancers to work on your project
• Managing or expanding corporate publications programs
• Transitioning print content to digital
• Cross-format content licensing, including contract drafting and review
• Strategic planning and business development
• Editorial and acquisitions strategy
Sunday, September 08, 2013
First, I had no idea how hungry I would be all the time. The anecdotes from other moms were funny and reassuring. By 4 pm I am hangry (this is hungry + angry for those of you fortunate to not know this word). I was diligent about food and exercise before being pregnant, during pregnancy and I’ve been pretty good post pregnancy as well. Although really, I owe all my thanks to James. Annemarie’s book is for anyone who doesn’t have a “James” who cooks awesome food and slides healthy snacks across the table at the right times (being mindful of keeping his fingers out of the way).
Second, of course I am aware that my diet affects the baby’s diet. But as an exhausted new mom who is low on energy, making decisions is hard. Annemarie’s book offers some delicious meal options that make it easy to flip through and say, “ah yes, I’ll have that for dinner.” I appreciate the legend showing the prep and cook time for each recipe. I mostly flagged the 30 min or less recipes but I did drool fondly over the 60-min recipes while daydreaming about the days when I’ll have time to actually do some dinner prep.
Overall there are 35 recipes that don’t require exact measurement and will be tasty immediately or sometime later that evening when the baby has nodded off and you can still function to lift fork to mouth. Hands down, the list of healthy snacks is worthy of space on the fridge.
Also good, this book comes in whatever print or digital format works for you.
Healthy Mum, Happy Baby
How to Feed Yourself When You’re Breastfeeding Your Baby
by Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit
Published by Random House
Good job Annemarie! Thanks for this lovely, and timely gift.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
I don’t normally review two books together but I do often have two books on the go. This time it was a fiction book and nonfiction book and I’ve never had such a pair. Amanda Leduc’s The Miracles of Ordinary Men is about a man who wakes up an angel and through a series of coincidences attempts to figure out God’s greater plan for him. Bruce MacNab’s The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini is about Harry Houdini’s Maritime tour in the years before he became a famous escape artist and all the coincidences between his fame and that tour.
In both we have a transformation from ordinary man to extraordinary being. We have magic. And we have the coincidence problem. (Aside: If you haven’t read Stephen Osborne’s The Coincidence Problem please do so!).
From the Foreword of The Metamorphosis
Harry Houdini died in 1926. By 1959 only three biographies detailing his life and legend had been published. Today, in 2012, there are literally hundreds of books about the great showman, and almost all of them share the same problem. They concentrate on the part of Houdini’s life when he was a star, one of the most well-known personalities of his time, a time when he maintained an almost daily relationship with the press. He was one of the most photographed men of his time.
The Metamorphosis looks at the time before the fame, when Houdini was travelling with his young wife who was also a performer and they were getting the barest of audiences. The book’s focus is 1891-1899, in particular a tour of Nova Scotia that Houdini and Bessie undertook in their second year of marriage, and it’s full of photos from those early years both of the Houdinis and of the locations where they performed. In short, it’s a fascinating read and Bruce MacNab’s research highlights all the small stepping stones that took Houdini from the Marco Magic Company all the way to the big time.
The first chapter of The Miracles of Ordinary Men is labeled Ten, and the reader goes backwards in chapter numbers but not necessarily time.
From Chapter Ten
Sam’s cat crumpled like paper under the truck’s wheel. He knelt down to touch her and then something like heat, some sudden shock of air, surged through his hands.
Suddenly she was breathing, blicking up at him through a mass of matted fur. Dead, and then not-dead, and his were the hands that had done it.
From there we follow Sam and Chickenhead (the cat) through the death of Sam’s mother, the reconnection of Sam with Father Jim (who can see the wings) and Sam’s eventual discovery of Timothy, who also has wings. Timothy has taken to the streets, not knowing how to cope with his transformation, and his sister Lilah becomes another connection to Sam.
The two storylines that intersect are that of Sam and Timothy/Lilah. Lilah, or rather Delilah, is a wandering soul who is dating an abusive, power hungry man who is also her boss. The Boss is a bit of a dark force who’s the counterbalance to the mediocre, weak angel that is Sam.
The novel is philosophical in its open-end questions about God’s plan, our time on earth and the role of evil. I can’t say it’s an uplifting read but what it lacks in optimism it makes up for in eloquency.
Want more? Check out the publisher websites:
Friday, July 19, 2013
Sisterland: A great novel about the ying-yang of twins with ESP and the choices 1 makes to try to hide it while the other embraces it.
Curtis Sittenfeld is the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Prep, neither of which I’ve read so I was keen to get into Sisterland. I wouldn’t normally go for a book about twins and ESP because although I like magical realism and fantasy, I find things psychic abilities a little creepy. My imagination is too susceptible and maybe that’s why this novel is sort of mesmerizing.
The story is about twins Daisy and Violet who have ESP. Their “senses” help them know things like what a guy likes in a girl and they can sometimes see things like the name of a person who’s kidnapped a little boy. As little girls, the twins have fun playing games guessing at what the other is thinking, which creeps out their mom. As teens, they aren’t popular girls, twins were less common in the ‘70-90s, but they do become a little infamous when Daisy takes a chance and tells another girl that she has ESP. The other girl is a popular, rich girl who takes advantage of Daisy to win a boy but then betrays her to the school as a witch.
One of my favourite lines in the book is early on at page 67 in a section of dialogue between a substitute teacher doing roll call, Marisa the mean, popular girl and Daisy.
She took attendance by calling out our last names, and when she got to Shramm, I raised my hand and said, “Here.”
She looked again at the list. “There are two Shramms. You’re which one?”
“No,” Marisa said immediately. “She’s Witch Two.”
Out of context it can seem a bit slack stick but what I like about that line is that it sums up that caustic humour of teenagers. A less skilled writer would have made Marisa more of a caricature but instead she is craftily constructed.
From then on Daisy masks her senses and Vi embraces them. Daisy even changes her name in college in order to hide from the stories. She starts going by Kate instead, marries a nice sensible boy and has two kids. Violet on the other hand is a lesbian, psychic medium who predicts a massive earthquake and ends up on local, then national, tv broadcasting her predictions and stirring up old tensions between herself and Daisy/Kate.
Kate is of course mortified about the prediction and the publicity, has a run in with old Marisa, who is still chasing boys despite being in her late 30s now, and ends up making a ton of mistakes in her attempts to just be normal.
Between Kate and Violet, I think Vi is my favourite twin. Violet, the first born, who embraces her ESP and rocks the flowy shirts and birkenstocks, really puts the woo in woo-woo. And even though she’s worthy of many eye rolls, there’s something redeeming about her.
At the beginning of the novel I was cheering for Kate but by the end Vi was the champ. Sittenfeld’s set up of the dynamic between the twins and the what-if concerns about Vi’s earthquake prediction made Sisterland into a fun, summer read. The bit of a mystery kept me cruising through the book.
If you like Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, then you’ll like Sisterland. Both are about twins who are intensely attached to each other, emotionally removed from their parents and who possess some extraordinary abilities. Not to say that if you like a twin book, you’ll like another, but more so because Niffenegger and Sittenfeld are both great writers who turn these plotlines into well-written, page turners.