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World Book Day... only in Great Britain?

Why is it World Book Day in the UK today when UNESCO World Book & Copyright Day isn't until next month? Who knows? Who can explain Great Britain, after all? But being loyal commonwealth citizens - and being unrepentant bibliophiles to boot - we figured it was a perfect opportunity to highlight some of our favourite new releases from the Mother Country. Where The Decision by Penny Vincenzibetter to start, from the land of tabloids, than with Penny Vincenzi's latest The Decision (Headline, 9780755320905). Multiple best-selling author Vincenzi takes us back to the 1960s, and introduces us to two up-and-coming professionals - she in the fashion industry, he in real estate. What starts out so well soon turns sour and the couple end up fighting through a horrible divorce and a terrible custody battle. Will anyone be the victor when neither will give ground?

Far Rockaway by Charlie FletcherAnd, from the author of The Stoneheart Trilogy, comes a story for every young book-lover, Far Rockaway (Hodder, 9780340997338). After a terrible accident, Cat is whisked away from her New York City home to a land where her grandfather's books come to life. Populated by characters she (and you!) will recognize, Cat begins an epic adventure with strange, new friends to find The Castle at the World's End - Far Rockaway!

The Tyrant by Christian CameronBeing a history geek, I'm happy to be able to recommend Destroyer of Cities (Orion, 9781409117124) by Christian Cameron. It's the fifth book in the Tyrant series by one of my favourite Canadian authors. As a historian and a former soldier himself, Cameron gets the details right in his stories of how the world fractured after Alexander the Great's death. Using history as his guide, Cameron takes you through the battles and intrigues to gain riches, power and glory that still reverberate today.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

And finally, and not least by any means on World Book Day UK, the story of Highclere Castle, the setting of UK and Canadian TV hit Downton Abbey. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey (Hodder, 9781444730845) is written by Lady Fiona, the current chatelaine of Highclere Castle and the latest Countess Carnarvon. Lady Fiona describes the history of Highclere castle, with special attention to the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Almina, through the trials of World War 1.

Well, that's it. We hope you enjoyed this sampling of some of Britain's latest and best. Maybe today would be a good day to read one of these books, in support of UK World Books Day.

Guinness World Record broken by ... The Bachelor Sean Lowe!?

KissI'm guessing there were a few battles waging last night in Toronto over the remote control. Regardless of how the score fell in your household, the Leafs game versus The Bachelor outcome probably produced the same results: some questionable calls, a bit of dirty fighting, and quite a few broken hearts. If you're anything like me, tuning in to watch Sean Lowe court 20 girls in an epic Hunger-Games-style mêlée to the dating death is both an embarrassing guilty pleasure you try to hide and the most fun you've had watching television ever; observing a woman try to impress Sean with a flip only to fall flat on her face, watching the Leafs loose 2:1 to the Sabres, and observing a multiple car collision all seem to have a similar - can't look away-macabre fascination. Regardless, this is one admission I will probably never live down at work but that has actually come in handy for it!

That's right folks, Sean Lowe and Lesley Murphy broke the world record for longest onscreen kiss, and I bet my bottom dollar that they will have their own spread in The Guinness Book of World Records 2014! But until then, you can get your world record fix in the new Guinness Book of World Records 2013.

sean_lowe_200x200Though I'd like to say that the kiss happened organically because they had so much chemistry that they simply couldn't disengage for over 3 minutes and 15 seconds, the record breaking smooch was actually staged on a date to The Guinness Book of World Records museum in New York. Following in the footsteps of his father who currently holds the world record for longest road trip taken in the shortest amount of time, Sean can now take his place as the number one kiss-and-tell-Fabio the world over!


THE CASUAL VACANCY to be the new Downton Abbey?

The Casual VacancyJ.K. Rowling fans take note: The Casual Vacancy is being adapted for television! Rowling will be working in collaboration with the network to create an exciting adaptation of the novel to air sometime in 2014 on BBC One. Rowling says she is "thrilled" about this new development, and I'm guessing that the Canadian public, along with book lovers the world over, share this sentiment. After all, The Casual Vacancy dominated the Quill & Quire's list for Canadian booksellers top fiction of 2012.

Set in the small English town of Pagford, The Casual Vacancy begins with the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother, one of the local city parish councilors. His untimely death becomes the catalyst for a shocking trajectory of events that pits neighbour against neighbour, and leaves the entire town reeling in its aftermath.

Definitely ideal BBC subject matter of the dramatic variety.  I can't wait to see it!




Game of Thrones

With the thrilling conclusion to Game of Thrones season 2 now passed, fans everywhere are left in suspense with a long wait ahead for season 3. Want to keep the Game of Thrones vibe alive? Here's how! Publisher: Adams Media ISBN: 9781440538728 CAD $20.99

Eat like a Lannister! Brew spirits to warm you in the coming winter. Treat guests to exotic sweets and alchemy-inspired cocktails. With this collection of hearty meals inspired by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, it's all possible! Every dish finds its roots in the pages that brought Westeros to life, including:

* Pentoshi Mushrooms in Butter and Garlic - a seductive and aromatic side dish, perfect for any exotic feast.

* Arya's Lemon Cakes - served warm off the griddle, these sweets are what daydreams are made of.

* Tyrian's Leg of Lamb - garlic, goat cheese, and basil make this a roast worth living for.

And so much more!

Keep Game of Thrones alive with The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook! You don't want to miss it.

You Thought You Had Problems With Your Ex?

If you haven’t heard of Hilary Winston and don’t yet follow her hilarious Twitter feed, don’t fret!

People don’t usually know who the writers of their favourite TV shows are, but Hilary was a writer for My Name is Earl and currently writes for Community, and you should definitely  get to know her. That’s exactly what this book allows you to do; in it, Hilary tells hilarious stories about her relationships with her two cats and her various romantic interests with a shameless self-awareness and wit.

For anyone who has ever had their heart broken and needed to know that others have similar experiences — here is your proof. Hilary reveals herself through her past relationships and manages to tell heartbreaking stories with a grain of salt and a sense of irony.

Available in hardcover (ISBN 9781402779794) from Sterling May 3rd 2011


Diamond Dishes launches MLB opening day

On March 31, while many Canadians are gearing up to watch the NHL postseason, many others are getting ready to watch baseball. There are a great many baseball fans across Canada, and by no means are all of them Jays fans – and let's be honest, it ain't easy to be, with memories of '92 and '93 fading, if not gone, and an apparent curse preventing them from achieving higher than fourth in the East Division.

Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseball's Biggest StarsAhem. So – if you're following a team from the US, and you're not within driving distance of an American city with an MLS team, you'll probably be watching games on TV, which means you'll need sport-watching sustenance. Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseball's Biggest Stars (Globe Pequot, ISBN 9780762769629) offers recipes from twenty of baseball's top names, such as:

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals | Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers | Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers | Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox | Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies | Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers | Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies | Derek Jeter, New York Yankees | Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins | Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox | Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays | Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins | Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox | Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals | Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins | Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees | Johan Santana, New York Mets | Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians | Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies | David Wright, New York Mets

However, this is not a compendium of snack suggestions. Nor is it just a cookbook with over sixty (!) easy-to-prepare recipes. It features exclusive, full-colour photos of Major League Baseball stars in their kitchens and their homes, and a discussion of family, friends, and (of course) food, and the role these play in their lives.

Go Jays!


John Edward Mini Media Tour and Tickets

John Edward: Infinite QuestInternationally acclaimed psychic medium and New York Times bestselling author John Edward will be promoting Infinite Quest (Sterling Ethos, ISBN 9781402778933) on a Canadian mini media tour in late March, which will include stops on The Marilyn Denis Show and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. In addition, he'll be doing a series of group readings across Canada in late April and early May. Click on a city below for more information on times, locations and tickets.

Vancouver | Winnipeg | Edmonton | Calgary | Montreal | Saskatoon | Toronto

The Allure of Nigel Barker

On Tuesday night at the Toronto Eaton Centre Nigel Barker, noted fashion photographer and judge of America's Next Top Model, spent the evening with fans to promote his new book The Beauty Equation.


Nigel Barker Booksigning in Toronto!!

Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation

Author: Nigel Barker Book: Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation

Drawing on 20 years of experience in the beauty business and 14 seasons of judging on America’s Next Top Model, photographer Nigel Barker has discov­ered the formula for revealing inner beauty that will have readers looking great and feeling even better.

Casting aside conventional rules (be tall! be skinny! have flawless skin!) Nigel shares the elements that, when added together, equal true beauty: humor, honesty, and confidence, to name a few. Armed with their own cameras, readers are guided through a series of self-portrait chal­lenges that mirror the weekly challenges on ANTM. Along the way, Nigel shares tips and advice on fashion, style, hair, and make-up, showing readers how to turn perceived negatives into positives, celebrate their uniqueness, and be their personal best.

Date: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 Time: 7:00 PM Location: Indigo Books and Music Toronto Eaton Centre 220 Yonge Street Toronto, ON M5B 2H1



Total global annihilation!...almost.

So, according to The Daily Galaxy, our planet narrowly avoided total destruction yesterday – the latest installment in a 70-million-year lucky streak, without which we would not exist. Kinda makes the so-called death of print sound like a minor issue, eh? To ease my panic, I called upon one of our national heroes, who has plenty of experience with foreign objects from outer space. That's right – William Shatner. According to Star Trek: The Original Series 365 (Abrams, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8109-9172-9, $38.95 CDN), he "hoped to wrestle" (p. 97) a live rented tiger to the ground during the production of classic episode "Shore Leave," although the idea didn't fly with the crew. Sounds to me like a guy who can shoot a couple of asteroids out of the sky – a far cry from the peacenik approach of Jean-Luc Picard. In a quote from "This Side of Paradise," the memorable episode in which Spock, under the influence of alien spores, succumbs to human emotion, Captain James Kirk says, "We weren't meant for [Paradise]. None of us. Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is." (p. 131)

A thick, widescreen-proportioned hardcover, Star Trek 365 consists of over 700 pages of beautiful photographs and long lost lore from all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek series. Publisher Abrams describes it as "the definitive, authorized guide (...) for old and new fans alike."

Although Star Trek barely survived the entirety of its original run from 1966-1969 – extended into a third season largely because of a massive fan-driven letter writing campaign (p. 263), and, um, Lucille Ball – it became a hit in reruns during the 1970s, which was when I, and many others of my generation, started watching it as a kid. The original series has of course spawned several spinoff series and movies, merchandise, and of course books and comics. So far, this particular book stands out for me as a very effective memory aid – just flipping through, I've pleasantly recalled some of the weirdest episodes of the show, including "This Side of Paradise" mentioned above, which I will forever remember as the "Spock laughing" episode.

Another example: there was the one where Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Yeoman Janice Rand – with a very complex wicker-like hairdo in many of these photos – visit a planet identical to 1960s earth populated only by filthy, feral children.

SPOCK: Guards! Cover me. CHILDREN [OC]: Nyah na nyah. (stones are dropped from above) Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah. Nyah na nyah! [...] SPOCK: Children, Captain. Lots of them. We couldn't begin to get close to them. They just seemed to scurry away, like animals. Only children. [from Chrissie's Transcripts Site]

Brilliant stuff, for sure. But even stranger than this episode is the fact that one of these children was played by actor Phil Morris, a seven-year-old at the time. He has since held many roles in moves and TV, but you'll probably know him best as lawyer Jackie Chiles in Seinfeld. (p. 77)

This is a fun book about what has become a very popular fictional universe. It's definitely more fun than thinking about the real universe – or specifically, how close we often are to global annihilation.

Do you have any fondly remembered episodes from the original series? Post them in the comments section below!