Monthly Archives: January 2015

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


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.



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Fairyland Isn’t Just for Kids


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.



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The Bulletproof Diet is Full of Holes


I think most diet books are bullshit,  but Dave Asprey’s The Bulletproof Diet stinks more than most.  At this time of year, a lot of people are coming into the bookstore for diet and exercise books, self help, “new year, new you” stuff.  I had heard of Asprey’s “Bulletproof coffee with butter” (another one of his diet tips that helps you achieve “mental clarity”), and decided to have a look at what he was putting in the book – curious to see if it could possibly be as dumb as his coffee.  It can.

The first page I flipped open to contained a weird rant about how garlic and onions are “Suspect” (the capitalization is his).  He claims you need look no further for evidence of their evil than the fact that in the Koran, garlic and onions sprang from the cloven footprints of Satan.  Yep, that’s right, the scientific reasoning is that obviously these are Satanic plants, so they will make you fat.  He ranks all foods on his pseudo-scientific scale of toxic to bulletproof.  Apparently he’s not a veggie person, and hey, raisins are toxic.  Who knew?

He also wants you to skip breakfast, despite the many, many scientist who share an opposing view, because obviously he knows more than some “scientist” who went to “school.”

He has a handy-dandy line up of Bulletproof branded products that are even more expensive then the stuff at Whole Foods, so they must be extra good at weight loss!  Of course he is only making these products out of the goodness of his heart, to help you lose weight!  There is no profit-based motive here at all!

As far as I can tell, The Bulletproof Diet is your personal guide to malnutrition for you, and enrichment for Asprey.  What a sleaze.

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