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New Year, Same You

calvin-and-hobbes-new-years-resolution-comicSo it's a new year and no doubt you have a list of resolutions a mile long: lose weight, get promoted, drink more water, find your soul mate, organize life, closet, and apartment, climb Mount Everest, move Mount Everest with mind, remember how to speak French, learn Chinese, sign language & Chinese sign language, read EVERY classic ever written, be prettier, funnier, more zen, more fashionable, and just all around a completely different and PERFECT human being. OK, so my ambitions last year were a bit lofty - even if our publishers really do carry books that can help you master every single one of these goals. Though commendable, this year my list looks a little bit different. My 2013 to do list: laugh louder, learn how to play air guitar like a pro, dance frequently, love emphatically, and fill the year with happy memories and experiences surrounded by the people I love. Here is my New Year, Same You Book List that will start my year off on a positive note.

313651First up on my reading list is The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook: Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Tolkien (Writer's Digest Books, 1599636506). Hobbits know how to do the whole live long and prosper thing really well (even if they weren't responsible for coining the phrase.) This guide book has some sage advice and some good laughs contained within it's pages. I now know not to pick any troll pockets, what recipes to cook for hearty but healthy hobbit food, and even how to disappear without the help of a magical ring. Best of all, when I went to see The Hobbit at the movie theater I stayed awake for the full 3 and a half hours and enjoyed it even more because of the book.

Fake It FINAL.inddNext up I'm reading Fake it: More than 100 Shortcuts that Every Woman Needs to Know (Adams Media, 1440541094). Just because I don't have those get prettier, be thinner, have nicer hair resolutions this year doesn't mean I don't want to APPEAR as if I do. Lucky for me Jennifer Byrne is on it. If you want it to seem as if your waist is 2 sizes smaller, you have salon-worthy manicured nails, your home is immaculate and magazine worthy, and your hair is gorgeous even if you haven't washed it for 5 days, and still have time to sleep in every morning then this book is for you. Eventually you will probably have to clean up what's been shoved under your bed and actually wash your hair, but sometimes it's OK to take short cuts when it makes lifes load just a little lighter and a little more fun.

ShittyMomOK so I'm not a mom but I HAVE a mom, I KNOW other moms, and I like to laugh - hence, Shitty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us (Abrams, 1419704591). In this frank and hilarious outlet for busy moms everywhere you'll discover that everyone drops the baby... I mean ball... sometimes, and MOST of the rascals turn out okay.

how-to-drive-a-tankThen there is How to Drive a Tank... and Other Everyday Tips for the Modern Gentleman by Frank Coles (Abacus, 0349122237) - an oldie, but a goodie. I DO NOT call myself a man, but having read the book I can safely say that learning how to hot-wire a car, hide a dead body, make things go boom, survive in the wild, and win big at poker can be really helpful in a savvy girl's repertoire (the men in your life may steal it from you, but now you will know how to pick their locks and get it back!)

OneGoodDeed_3DOne Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better by Erin McHugh (Abrams Image, 1419704176) may seem like a legitimate New Year, New You resolution book, and it is, but it is also a key to my own goals in 2013. This book is an inspirational guide that leaves you more fulfilled. Erin Hugh's book emphasizes what really matters, and encourages you to focus less on yourself and more on others, which is - in fact - a perfect path to a happier you.

The_Mark_of_AthenaAnd LAST on my New Year reading list, but definitely NOT least is The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion Books, 978-1423140603) simply because reading fiction YA makes me happy. I LOVE all the other books in The Heroes of Olympus series and I've been meaning to read it and just haven't gotten around to it.

Now I can't wait for 2013. Happy New Year from Manda everyone!




Stocking Stuffer Guide!

It's that time of year again: making merry at holiday parties, trimming the tree, wearing the ugly Christmas sweater, listening to the dulcet crooning of Nat King Cole or the upbeat melodies of the Boney M Christmas album. Whether your an uber organizer with all the presents bought and wrapped, sitting snugly under the tree (give the rest of us a break, will you?), still scrambling to buy everyone presents (that's more like it), or the person who hasn't even started shopping yet (eeeek), chances are stocking stuffers are the last thing on the list and the last thing on your mind. So, to keep you a) stress free and b) from re-gifting last years sundry trinkets and hotel soaps, we here at Manda have created a rockin' Christmas guide to soothe your stocking stuffer blues. We have something for everyone!

The Hipster

Too cool for traditional stuffers? For even the TRENDIEST hipster: the Great Moustache Magnet Set (The Unemployed Philosophers Guild) is for anyone missing the funny facial hair that was rampant in 'Movember.'

The adorable Little Book of Vintage series carries horror, crime, combat, romance, love, sci-fi, and sauciness titles (Ilex). These authentic vintage comics and old print advertisements are hilarious, awesome, and come in miniature with a rockin' retro fridge magnet in the back!

And for good measure, why not throw in the small format book by Ryan Mecum, Dawn of Zombie Haiku (How Books, 1440312869). It's a short fiction narrative haiku that is ugly-cry in public funny. "Shall I compare thee to a luscious frontal lobe? If so, thou shall LOSE." Good to know zombie. Inspiring. Really.

The Sweet Grandma (Or Gran, Nonna, Oma, etc)

I don't know about your grandma, but mine really likes to knit. I'm planning on rolling up some of D&C's Simple Knits pattern booklets to put in the stocking opening. Cushions & Pillows has some really nice patterns.

Christmas Joy by Susan Branch (Little Brown, 0316106828) is a small book brimming with holiday spirit. It is everything Christmas, and a perfect reminder of what makes the season so special (there might also be a few delicious cookies that my Grandma is sure to want to add to her repertoire.)

A beautiful deck of cards always comes in handy, especially if your grandmother likes to invite friends over for bridge and Bellini nights! Pomegranate makes some beautiful decks, and these ones, modeled after Charley Harpers Under the Sweetgum Tree (9780764960277) are particularly delectable.

Throw in a beautiful art cube puzzle by Made in Museum and you are good to go. The Splendors of Portuguese Ceramics puzzle is really beautiful.

The Adorkable Darling

(aka nerd, gamer, pop-culture fanatic, perpetual child, 0r actual child)

Oh Doctor Who mug. What else can I say?

Oh wait... The tardis will dissappear and transport into deep space when this ingenious Unemployed Philosophers Guild mug has hot liquid in it? NO WAY. All it takes is a cup of coffee for you to become the next time traveling Doctor Who. Now the question is are you a Matt Smith or a David Tennant kind of Doctor?

If your stocking owner hasn't quite reached THAT level of nerd yet, then a great alternative is the Game of Thrones coffee mug that Dark Horse produces. Whether the dork in your family is a fan of the television show, the George R.R. Martin books it is adapted from, or both, the mug will be a big hit.

 MiniMates are another fail proof option. Little kids, big kids, and kids at heart all love to play with these Lego-like figurines. Cult favourites include Spider man, Iron man, Thor, Captain America, the X-men, and even some feature characters from the video game Halo. Diamonds got both comic book aficionados and gamers covered.

 And an adorkable stocking would not be complete without the Marvel Star Wars Millennium Falcon bottle opener produced by Diamond Select Toys.

The Alcohol Enthusiast

Start the stocking off right with Jiggle Shots, a little book by Abrams Image that helps get the party started with delicious and hazardous recipes.

And for the connoisseur?

A 2013 Wine Calendar in extra small by Andrews McMeel Publishing that has a years worth of tips and facts about wine. 

 If you want to top your drinks off with the perfect garnish, try DC's Darth Vader, Batman, or Superman shaped ice cubes. Nothing says your drinking a Darth Vader cocktail like his ice cube likeness floating in your glass.

Last but not least, the hilarious pocket book 50 ways to Cure a Hangover (Octopus Publishing Group, 9781846014055) is the perfect stocking stuffer for the morning after the party is over. Written by Cara Frost-Sharatt and illustrated by Jason Ford this cute little book proves that a little laughter is always the best cure.


For The Wine Lover

This handsome, embossed, hardcover journal from Hugh Johnson, allows wine lovers to record favourite – and least favourite – wines.  Easy to complete charts and boxes for tasting notes are combined with subjects such as choosing wine for particular occasions and rules of thumb for quantities –handy for the holidays–the best vintages for particular wines, and what other wines to try if you are especially fond a particular grape variety.

The Journal addresses choosing, buying, and judging wine, and also covers such topics as:

  • Opening –corkscrew basics, knowing if it’s corked, and how to deal with a cork that won’t budge
  • Serving  - glassware, optimal temperatures,  and decanting
  • Storing  - cellaring, stacks and racks, and how long will it keep

 It is divided into sections on White wines, Sparkling wines, Rose wines, Red wines and Fortified wine.  Each section offers general and sub-category descriptions.  It also contains quick-reference vintage charts, sections on grape varietals, and wine & food pairing, plus a very useful  “Winespeak” glossary.

 Hugh’s thoughts on the what, when, and how of wine drinking form the framework of this journal.  The rest is up to you: your own favourites, tasting notes, experiments, food pairing, even notes and recommendations from friends.

'Tis The Season: Holiday Gift Guide Coverage

Joy to the world!  Holiday round-ups featuring the top coffee-table books of 2011 are hitting newspapers across the country and MANDA titles are on fire!  I love this time of year, not only is it satisfying as a publicist to see books I've laboured over all season get star treatment in all their glossy glory, but it is a reminder to all of us in the business that the beauty and craftsmanship of printed, illustrated books is still appreciated and celebrated.  Who wouldn't covet an oversized gorgeous tome on their coffee-table?  If you're looking for gift ideas for near and dears, search no further.  Click on the links below for full listings of the best gift books of the year from The Globe and Mail the Winnipeg Free Press, and the National Post.

The Globe and Mail - BOOKS Section

The Globe and Mail - STYLE Section

Winnipeg Free Press - BOOKS Section

 National Post - BOOKS Section


 Every year, Manda has a tree trimming party and everyone is invited to take a well deserved break to decorate the office and indulge in some holiday beer cheer.  Yesterday, the tradition turned ugly. Taking a cue from the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book (Abrams Image, $18.95 CAN, ISBN: 9780810997523), everyone showed up to decorate in their most hideous winter knits! Wow.  They look Feeling inspired?

For anyone looking for that perfect Secret Santa present, look no further. This book is  perfect for the millions planning to throw or attend an ugly sweater party this year.  Get ready for a laugh-out-loud look at the funniest, craziest, most unbelievable holiday sweaters you can imagine, including Scarf Face, Wreath Witherspoon, and Ryan Treecrest.

Go on, get ugly!

Manda Makes a Wish, and Gives Thanks

Time to dig out the ornaments, hang the wreath and get that shortbread in the oven.  December is finally here, and despite below average snowfall and above seasonal temps, we at Manda are thrilled to welcome this very special time of year. Before kicking off a busy month, my colleagues and I took a moment to think about where we are, how we got here and where we're headed.  What has the year meant to us?  What are we looking forward to in 2012?  A list of what we give thanks and are hopeful for is below.  There was something about this exercise that really put the season in perspective and reading through the sometimes cheeky, often touching responses from my colleagues really got me in the spirit!  I hope you take the time to make your own lists, they will likely be longer than you think.


This year I’m grateful for good champagne and kindness. --Iolanda Miller, Sales Representative, British Columbia

This year I’m grateful for paper cuts, traffic jams, burnt toast, stubbed toes, dust bunnies, dysfunctional umbrellas, hitting my funny bone...and all the other annoying little things in life, because experiencing them means that I’m ALIVE.Joanne Adams, Sales Representative, Eastern Ontario & GTA

I am grateful for my wife and kids and the daily reminders they provide about the importance of slowing down and living in the moment. I am also grateful in my work life for being surrounded with such hard working, smart and interesting people on a daily basis.  From my colleagues at Manda to the publishers and customers that we partner with, it is truly a great group of people. –Carey Low, Vice President

I’m grateful for new friendships that have grown this year. –Ellen Warwick, Special Markets Manager

This year I’m grateful for independent bookstores who introduced me to my first love…the book. --Emily Patry, Inside Sales Representative & Marketing Coordinator

I’m grateful for Hendrick’s Gin and Wild Geese Whiskey. –Jean Cichon, Sales Representative, Alberta & Saskatchewan

This year I’m grateful for the time I have spent with my family in Vancouver, and London. It has been a happy year. –Jennifer Fyffe, Sales Representative, British Columbia

This year I’m grateful for our amazing customers, publishers, and that Wimpy Kid. --Peter Hill-Field, Director of Sales and Marketing

This year I’m grateful for great co-workers who are always ready to help out. –Chris Hickey, Sales Representative, GTA, SW Ontario, Northern Ontario

I’m grateful for my dog Chloe, who forces me to slow down and spend time outside, and who makes me smile every day. –Tracey Bhangu, Marketing & Publicity Manager

This year I am grateful for the company of good friends and family who bring out the best in me and choose to ignore my many imperfections. –Liza Hageraats, Sales Representative, Quebec & Atlantic Canada

I am SO VERY thankful for the constant supply of caffeine the office, for the awesome people I get to spend my days with, and for the new friends I’ve made this year. --Kristina Koski, Inside Sales Representative


My hope for the new year is that Manda will realise that the Aston Martin DB9 Coupe is really the only car a rep needs to drive. And world peace, of course. –Iolanda Miller

My wish for the new year is getting more cuddles from the people I love, reading more good books under a fleecy blanket, drinking more hot chocolate, taking more long walks. –Joanne Adams

My wish for the new year is a brief encounter with a Kobo touch. --Emily Patry

My hope for the new year is for my youngest daughter to start her university life, and love it. And for my relationship to continue to flourish. –Jennifer Fyffe

In the new year, I am hopeful that the CDN government will take a global leadership role in fighting climate change and global warming.  Since this may be a little naive given their efforts thus far, my hope is that I will take more time to make my voice heard. –Carey Low

My wish for the new year is that people will continue to appreciate the beauty, craftsmanship and value of printed books. –Ellen Warwick

My hope for the new year is that people will continue to enjoy print books of all kinds, and that our clients are prosperous.  I also hope for new bookstores to come on the scene and thrive. –Peter Hill-Field

My hope for the new year is a new (magically house-broken-at-birth) puppy, and obviously world peace, too. –Jean Cichon

My hope for the new year is for the newest member of my family to arrive happy, healthy, and on-time. –Tracey Bhangu

My wish for the New Year is to be able to devote more time to creative pursuits. –Liza Hageraats

I hope for more kitten covers from, and (thanks to the History/Disovery channels) an awesome Mad Max outfit if should anything get a little ‘apocalypticky.’   Actually, scratch that. I hope for an awesome Mad Max outfit period. --Kristina Koski

Scissors, Glue & Pine Cones

There's something heartwarming about receiving a handmade holiday card.  Knowing someone went through the effort to find the scissors, draw some nostalgic mistletoe and craft a personal note gets me every time.  Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that I'm a sucker for handmade decorations too.  On any given tree, my eyes seem to gravitate towards the papier mache angel hung with a piece of frayed red yarn, or the paper snowflakes heavy and wilted with copious amounts of white glue and glitter.  Images such as these send me back to grade school during that last week before Christmas break when all children are expected to do is decorate ginger bread, sing carols and go on nature walks seeking out the perfect pine cones and tree branches for endless craft projects.  The stuff great memories are made of.


Enter now the fabulous new book from Stewart Tabori and Chang, Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas: Crafts, Decorating Tips, and Recipes, 1920s - 1960s (9781584799238, CAN $22.95)

Author Susan Waggoner recaptures the magic of holidays past with vintage crafts projects that, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been craving. Inspired by treasures from the 1920s through the 1960s, she includes simple instructions for a variety of decorations that allow crafters of all ages, naughty or nice, to deck their halls with cellophane wreaths, glittered glass ornament balls, beaded bell garlands, and whimsical, tinsel-bedecked miniature trees.

To keep spirits merry and energy flowing, the book includes a sampler of easy-to-make candy recipes. Yum.

Merry, merry everyone!