I Will!

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In a world where young adult romance has actually spawned a genre called “sick-lit” (thanks for that, The Fault in Our Stars), thank the literary deities for Say You Will.

This is a book that I have no reservations handing over to even a younger teen (my own daughter, for example), and it is fully readable by boys as well.

I first heard about the book last fall, from Eric Walters himself – he was really excited about the book, and the whole idea of “promposals” – which I had never heard of.  A promposal is an elaborate, public invite to the prom – like it wasn’t laden with enough pressure to begin with.  The protagonist, Sam, is a boy with a very high IQ who is only just starting to get the hang of social interaction, who wants to create the perfect promposal for the girl of his dreams.  I can’t tell you much, because it will ruin the story, however Walters not only tells a sweet love story but also makes sure to puncture as many tropes and preconceptions along the way as possible.  Highly recommend this.

I now digress from this review to make a point that has been bothering me.  As was brought up very eloquently in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, boys are often steered away from books that either have female protagonists, or that might be classified as romance.  GIRLS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO LIKE ROMANCE.  I have a couple of male customers at my store who are die-hard Harlequin lovers, and know many men, including my husband, who are fond of a good love story.  (In fact, a great romantic night in can be a bottle of wine and taking turns reading The Notebook) Even books like The Hunger Games, or Divergent, I have seen parents steer away from because a female is the star, so of course their son won’t want to read it.  Thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy;  Clearly there must be something wrong with a boy reading a book starring a girl, or with a guy reading a love story – so he will never pick one up.  This is dumb. Boys can empathize with a girl main character, and you’re selling them short by assuming they won’t.  Boys dream of being the star of their own epic love story too, and Say You Will is a great one.

Christie

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Weird Erotica. REALLY Weird.

One of the things you learn working in a book store is that there are some seriously strange books out there.  And just when you thought you’d seen the strangest one out there – nope, that’s just been annihilated.  Some of the weirdest, to me, is the erotica stuff – and I am not a prude by any means, but some of the titles made me giggle uncontrollably.  Here are some of my favorites:


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Taken by the T-Rex.  Who looks at a T-Rex and thinks “sexy”?  Christie Sims, that’s who.

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Wouldn’t you worry about bits falling off?  Are they hoping for bits falling off?  I don’t understand.

9216061Aster Zhen is clearly going for a very niche market here.  Not just a zombie queen, a mutilated lesbian zombie queen.  Ok then.

a524dfe4f9d1bf709b2022e5c1fe87865385275f-thumbJ.J. Abraham apparently writes all kinds of mythological sexy books.  If giant fire-breathing lizards do it for you (I’m looking at you, Daenerys). Abraham is your girl.

covers_335466The title.  The cover.  Chuck Tingle (obviously his real name) is a genius.

51t7MLGcS1L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_I may be forced to purchase this, just to figure out what the hell is going on here.  How would this work?  Where did this idea even come from?  SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT IS HAPPENING!  Can’t think about this book without laughing.

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Never, Ever, Ever Buy “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting is iconic.  It is the title of a movie.  It was the book Hugh Grant was reading in “Nine Months.” It is the book everyone rushes out to buy the minute the test is positive.  And it is absolutely the last book I would recommend buying a first-time parent.  Speaking as someone who read it during my first pregnancy, it terrified the crap out of me.

When you find out you are pregnant, it is a big, scary deal, even with a planned pregnancy.  You are growing a person.  Everyone you know (and many you don’t) will suddenly recall horror stories about pregnancy and labour, and are compelled to share them with you in gory detail.  In case you aren’t nervous enough, What to Expect will bring week by week hypochondria to the experience, telling you not only how big the baby is and how your body has changed, but also what horrible crisis can occur to you and your fetus this week!  Preeclampsia! Placenta previa! Oligohydramnios!

Some doctor’s offices (including my own OB-GYN at the time) not only don’t suggest it as recommended reading, but in fact discourage expectant mothers from reading it. The authors are not medical doctors, and there is a lot in there that is questionable, including many iffy holistic treatments.  Also, as a Canadian, this book is aimed at the US market, and our health care system and options are different enough that it makes a big difference.

Here are my recommendations for pregnancy books here in Canada, based on my own reading and experiences – please feel free to comment with your own recommendations:

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Canada’s Pregnancy Care Book.  This book was fantastic.  A solid, reassuring book put out by the amazing pregnancy clinic at Mount Sinal Hospital that covers a wide range of topics and has lots of practical information.  They don’t assume that you have a ton of money, and there are great tips for healthy eating and fitness during pregnancy that you can use even with a tight budget.  They cover complications, but you are more likely to feel reassured by the information than alarmed.  Good for both reading through from cover to cover, and for keeping on hand as a resource.  This is my number one recommendation for first-time parents.

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Canadian Medical Association’s Complete Book of Mother & Baby Care. If you know absolutely nothing about pregnancy or babies, this is the book for you (and me).  I was the first of my friends to have a child, and I had literally changed one diaper in my life before my daughter was born.  This book has step-by-step instructions and photos for all the things that people just assume you know.  How to express breast milk.  How to properly clean and change a baby. How a diaper shirt works.  How to give a baby a bath (imagine trying to wash oiled jello that is actively trying to escape).  This book is why my children are still alive.

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The Mother of All Baby Books. This is a great book as a reference – it has really handy charts and a great list of resources and services.  If I could get just those things, it would be perfect.  The other parts I found more annoying, because the author is very pushy about some topics. It made for good practice in taking the advice I found helpful and ignoring the rest.

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Ruby is Painfully Beautiful and Worth Every Minute

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Cynthia Bond has written about how terrible human beings are in the most beautiful way possible.  I never really needed to use the term “lush prose” until I read this book.  The words are fat, and gorgeous, and paint a picture that you wish was not quite so vivid because Ruby is full of horror and misery, and a tiny bit of loveliness.

The story of Ruby is the story of a young black woman who tried to outrun her past, and found that it wouldn’t stay in the past.  Mostly set around the time of the Washington Riots, a letter from a beloved friend reached Ruby, and she made the choice to return home to her small town.  Once home, she found small minds, judgement, and secrets waiting to tear her down, and Ruby’s descent into mental illness is met with smugness and derision, not compassion.  Many of the characters are just horrible, but Bond doesn’t let you have the satisfaction of completely despising them, because almost all of them have some horrible happening in their own past that twisted them – and it almost makes it worse, because they could maybe have been good people.  Maybe.

Some of the characters are truly evil.  I’m talking gag inducing, have to put the book down for a while evil.  This book has child abuse, sexual abuse, and rape in it, and you should be prepared for that.

If you can manage it, read it.  It is heart searing, dreadful, flashback prompting – beautiful.  And there is a little hope for humanity in there, I promise.

Don’t be surprised if this starts showing up as required reading for English Literature classes.  Wow.  One of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time.

 

Christie

 

 

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Terry Pratchett & Bromeliads

Thanks to xkcd for this.

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The End of the Discworld – Terry Pratchett has Died

 

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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

 

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LGBT Picks?

Hi everyone,

Here in Toronto, Pride Week falls in June, and I love doing great displays for pride.  I want to not feature the same titles every year, so I am asking you guys if you have read anything with LGBTQ characters or themes, for all age ranges, that you thought were great.  I have some great YA picks, but I need more books for kids under twelve, and new books for adults.  I don’t just want romance – books that feature great characters who are gay, trans, asexual – I am perfectly happy for that not to be central to the story line.  In fact, that’s great, because I want there to be books where a person’s sexuality, gender identity, gender expression, is only a part of who they are, not the whole story.

I know I’m super-early, but the more time I have, the better the selection will be, and it gives me extra time to get hold of hard-to-get stuff.  Thanks for the help!

Christie

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I Will Ask Your Questions!

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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

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Something a Little Fishy With These Customers

fantasy-computer-goldfish-creative-art-wallpaper-1136x640_8bdd084536c156bd844e9f2316fc4c8d_raw A customer in the store yesterday was telling me about her goldfish, and how it had its own Facebook page.  This was moderately cute until I realized that she was telling me that her goldfish told her what to type, and that obviously it couldn’t do it itself without a waterproof computer.  Because clearly, that’s the only impediment to fishy bloggers – the lack of good waterproofing. Cue backing away slowly, as she is telling me about her plans to mic the aquarium and live stream (no pun intended) her talking fish… On a different note, I had a customer who told me he had no idea Nelson Mandela was a member of the Illuminati.  Why did they think he was a member of the Illuminati, you may ask? Because of the Coretta Scott King award on the cover of Kadir Nelson’s children’s book, Nelson Mandela.  Sigh. download

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Red Queen is Bloody Good

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If you love a good dystopian YA, Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel,  Red Queen is for you.  With a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels to The Hunger Games & Divergent, the characters and plot twists make this read different enough to still be enjoyable, without feeling like you’re just reading on repeat. If you have read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, this is like a weird parallel universe to that book.

Red Queen is a little more rooted in fantasy territory, and has a unique take on the dystopian theme.  The nobility of Red Queen‘s world is distinguished by their innate ability to channel fire or electricity, or possess extreme strength or psychic powers.  Their control over the lower class is absolute, who don’t possess any superhuman talents.  Imagine the uproar when Mare, a girl of perfectly common blood, suddenly displays her own power – and no one’s surprise is greater than Mare’s.

I won’t get too deeply into the plot  and spoil it, but there are some great twists, a little romance, lots of intrigue. Lots, and lots, of intrigue.  Like baby Game of Thrones.  If you have a teen who is looking for an entry to more sophisticated story lines, this is a good place for them to start.

This is clearly the start of a series – it should be a fun ride.

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