Monthly Archives: May 2014

I Love Rat Queens

So, so good.  It’s like you took a wine fueled D&D session with your girlfriends (note to self: have one of those) and turned it into a graphic novel.

A foul mouthed, hard drinking band of hilarious mercenaries causes ruckus, usually always involving bloodshed, sometimes for money, sometimes always for fun.  The character descriptions are “Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.”

This was presented to me by a colleague on the basis that someone had obviously written it for me.  Seeing his point, I purchased it.  Purchase of Volume 2 is imminent.

I’m sure you’re all already reading Saga… but if you’re not, start.  As a colleague described it, it’s Romeo in Juliet in space, with lots of hot space sex.  I love Lying Cat.  I need more people to read Saga so I can say “LYING” at every opportunity.

Oh, and while you’re at it, pick up the new reboot of the Huntress series.  I was weirdly excited about the fact that she isn’t leaping around in high heels, and actually has real boots with decent tread.  A small detail, but an important one.




1 Comment

Filed under Books, geek lit, Graphic Novels

There’s A Duck On My Pancake!

One of the greatest benefits to working in a bookstore is the amazing and eccentric coworkers.  Today, one of my coworkers wrote a poem based on my incredulity at the cover of Toronto Life Magazine – A photo of duck and blueberry pancakes, which my mind won’t process.  Here is the poem:

There once was a duck

Who ran into some bad luck

When I drenched her in maple syrup.

There’s a duck on my pancake!

What a surprise!

I was only expecting a side order of fries!!


I love my job so much.




Poem credit to Alisha Fournier 😉

Leave a comment

Filed under Bookstore, poetry

My favorite spam comment so far…

I don’t know if you can improve on this spam.  Amazing.


The result of this unearthly union is called
a cambion, and when the kid is born it seems to be a stillbirth as a result of
it reveals no obvious signal of life. But what happens
when you are suddenly interrupted from reading this book by a group of menacing ninjas.
After checking an endless amount of several Monster Legends Hack I was really concerned whether this will probably work or not.

Sometimes, it becomes art.



Leave a comment

Filed under General Awesomeness

Iron Curtain offers a peek at the past – and insights for today.

I recently finished the book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956, by Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer winning author of Gulag.
It discusses how at the end of WWII, the Soviet Union was able to (more or less) turn several disparate countries into an ideologically and politically homogenous  region.  She also focuses on what day to day life was like for those living in the Eastern Bloc countries.
Applebaum suggests that unification was achieved through four main channels: 1. the creation of local secret police forces who would selectively target political enemies and take control of ministries of the interior (the ministry that determines land redistribution); 2. Take control of the era’s mass media, particularly radio; 3. Ban most independent organizations (e.g. women’s leagues, church groups and trade unions) and control youth organizations; 4. Displace people from the areas where they had lived for generations, making them disoriented and more easy to control.
In addition, there is an interesting discussion on how the Western Allies sat down with the Soviet Union and carved up post war Europe between them, with a devastating economic effect on Eastern Europeans; once among the most affluent countries in the world these nations now were forced to pay reparations to the west, while at the same time watching their resources exported to Russia.
The book is comprised of almost entirely original research, both of interviews and declassified government archives.  As a result, it is a very heavy read and it took me some time to finish, but was well worth it.  I picked up this book because I was working on my family history and was interested in more insight of this period of time in Hungary; but there is as much information on Poland, Germany or most of the other affected nations. This book is also particularly interesting considering current border disputes between Russia and former Soviet territories Ukraine/Crimea, Moldova (Transnistra) and Estonia, and increased NATO presence along Russian borders with Poland, Romania and the Balkans.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Non-Fiction, Review

In the Shadows

Text Story by Kiersten White, Art and Art Story by Jim Di Bartolo

Intended for age 12 and up


I am really excited about this novel of suspense and horror!  Its main characters are young adults who live in or are visiting a boarding house by the sea. Two sisters share some duties with their mother after their father’s mysterious death. Three young men, one terminally ill, are visiting with them. The boys’ respective fathers are also deeply involved in something sinister. As the plot unrolls, the characters become embroiled in a chilling series of events that seem to involve far more than their sleepy little town. Reluctantly, they find themselves forced into more and more dangerous situations that involve not only their fathers but many of the townspeople they thought they knew well.

I want to hand this book to all my reading friends and order them to read it, and look at the twin story in paintings by Di Bartolo. It is a brand new technique to me. It’s not really manga, because there are no thought balloons or speech balloons or captions or any text whatsoever accompanying the paintings. It’s not really an illustrated narrative either, because the pictures have a purpose beyond accompanying and interpreting the text.  I believe there are two narratives going on in parallel, both delivering the plot in different ways and from different points in the narrative.

At first I had no idea what the paintings showed, because they start the book, and with no captions I was lost. Still, they are so compelling that I spent several moments on each picture, struggling to “read” it. It wasn’t until I had read a fair bit of the text that the pictures started to have a narrative for me too. Then the two media started to work together brilliantly.

The text itself is a verbal wonder that conjures a visual wonder as effectively as the paintings. White creates characters you can see, without wasting a word. The creepy atmosphere of horror is just as much a product of the evocative writing as the shivery paintings. The story is a series of shocks to the nervous system that will keep you turning the pages well in to the night. Now that I am tuned in to the art work, I am going to re-read it to see what I missed at the beginning. This is a book that will merit second or third or even more readings.


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, children's books, Graphic Novels, Review, Teen Books

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.



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.


Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books in the News

Sharpe-ned *contains Sean Bean not dying immediately

The Sharpe series, written by Bernard Cornwell is centered around British soldier Richard Sharpe through his early years fighting in India through the Napoleonic wars in Europe.  Sharpe, the illegitimate son of a prostitute, joins the army to avoid being arrested for murder, expecting a short life.
Due to his survival instincts, intelligence and some luck, he begins his rise up the ranks, even being promoted to an officer at a time when commissions were purchased by the rich.  The series chronicles not only his victories against the enemies of the crown, but his own struggles against officers who look down on him and foot soldiers who mistrust him.
Also, if you can track down the British series of movies it is worth watching; it is a faithful rendition of the books and the lead character is played by Sean Bean (the reason I fell in love with Sean Bean and to this day cry whenever his character is killed off.)  The first film is Sharpe’s Rifles, the original first novel.

The first book, Sharpe’s Tiger, follows private Sharpe in India in 1799.  He is once again facing a death sentence, this time for striking his sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill.  However after receiving only 200 lashes he is released and assigned an impossible mission:  to rescue the head of intelligence of the British East India Company from the dungeons of the Tipoo Sultan.  He and Lt. William Lawford pose as deserters to infiltrate the Tipoo’s army, but are betrayed and are themselves imprisoned.  Based on the beginning of this review it should be no secret that Sharpe makes it out alive, but this book lays a lot of groundwork for the rest of the series, for example the continuing conflict with Hakeswill and the fact that Lawford teaches Sharpe to read in prison (something that makes his transition to officer possible).
I began the series years ago, when the author was still writing it, but Cornwell did not write it in chronological order and after twice backtracking to new releases I lost track.  Recently I have returned to the series, drawn by the wonderful characters, phenomenal historical research, strong writing and the fact that the author has finished the series.
If you’re biding your time until The Winds of Winter or are sick of mere trilogies, settle in for twenty novels and a couple short stories!

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Review