Wanted: Young hands to help build a robot.


A woman in her 80s approached me today in the kids department and said she was looking at the Meccano.  She had never seen it before, in Canada.

She told me she always wanted to play with Meccano as a child, but her father told her she wasn’t allowed, because she was a girl.  She looked at her hands, and held them out, and said, “My hands are probably too old now, that I am finally brave enough to not listen.”  I mentioned that one of my daughters is in the robotics club at school, and the other one is waiting to be old enough to be allowed to join.  She smiled and said “Good.  You are smart.  I am so glad.  I was stupid, to let my father tell me that girls could not be engineers.  Could not be mechanics.  That I could not play with Meccano.  Your girls will not be stupid.”

I found myself being very grateful for my own father, who bought me a toolbox at a young age, taught me to build a computer from scratch, and never made me think being female had any impact on my intelligence or ability.  He also bought a Meccano set for my daughter last Christmas.

Someone needs to build a robot with this woman.  If I see her again, it may be me.  I just hope I can find her again.

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Hello, fellow bibliophiles!

I have some happy news.  I have accepted an awesome new position at the company I work for.  It comes with some longer hours, however, especially in the beginning as I settle in, so I will be temporarily not posting on this blog.  I will still be tweeting via @bibliophiliacs, so all is not lost!  I will miss you.

See you on the flip side.


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Review of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 5.


For the honour of Grayskull!

I have been patiently reading DC’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe graphic novel series in the hope that She-ra would have to show up eventually and I was not disappointed.  I absolutely loved the recently released volume 5: The Blood of Grayskull, in which She-ra (and Swift Wind!) makes her first appearance of the series.  Although Adora first appears in #3, and again briefly at the end of #4, this story focuses on her journey to becoming She-ra.
This graphic novel is definitely more sophisticated than the cartoon I watched as a child, but there are some very familiar echoes.  Adora is more traumatized from her time with the Horde and realization of what she did in the name of Hordak.  After a brief flash back to set up the story, the main plot begins at Adora’s campsite – motivated by guilt to be alone, yet determined to fight Hordak any way that she can. He-Man makes an appearance with a message from the sorceress and the pair soon start out on their quest.  In turns, she is mission-focused military tactician (at one point He-Man has to convince her to rescue some prisoners which she has ignored in order not to give them away), healer, animal lover and He-Man’s equal in battle. Ultimately her first transition into She-ra is motivated by her love for Adam.  She is portrayed as a compassionate warrior, a role model for any woman.
If you were a fan in the 80s, it is familiar enough to connect to with the added benefit of some really beautiful artwork.  And although I’m obviously biased, it really is one of my favourite covers ever.  I enjoyed this one so much I am anxiously awaiting Dan Abnett’s next release: He-Man: The Eternity War, due out next month.

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Truly Outrageous


Just picked this sucker up.  So excited!

I’m just gonna be over here, reliving my childhood.


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A well put article about my beloved Wonder Woman.

Originally posted on desperate leisure:


In the mythology of DC Comics, there exists the concept of the Trinity – Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. They represent the thematic underpinnings of the whole enterprise – The Stranger From Elsewhere, The Night’s Avenger and The Queen of Power. Three major arcana, unique in that they have been consistently published since the early 40s and yet, are still relevant today.

Superman was created by two kids from Cleveland named Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Batman was created by Bill Finger but a kid named Bob Kane stole all the credit. Wonder Woman was created by the guy who invented the Lie Detector.

Much has been written about William Moulton Marston and his unorthodox home life (he lived in a triparate “marriage” with two women and was big into BDSM, apparently) and Wonder Woman gets tied up a lot – like, A LOT – in the early comics but…

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Everything Everything


I actually gasped while reading this – held my breath through a little.

Madeline is allergic to the world – she lives in a house with an airlock, and goes to school via internet.  But then a new family moves in next door, and sees Olly – and falls hard.

It’s a book about survival versus living, the lies we tell ourselves, and how love can be both prison and freedom.

There is some good clever witty banter, self-mockery, emotion.  Great teen book, nice fast read, perfect if you want something absorbing and emotional.  If you are looking for something for the John Green lover, this will do.  Out in September.


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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.


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I Will!


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.


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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:


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


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”


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:


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.


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.


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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