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PRECIOUS THING by Colette McBeth | Book Review

precious-thing-coverI don’t read mysteries. I don’t read thrillers. Years ago, I managed a bookshop. Part of my job involved running the mystery book club. I think my bosses added that task out of a sense of epic Schadenfreude because they knew that I would read just about anything BUT a mystery. My inability to read the genre comes, not from a sense of snobbery, but because I’m a giant ‘fraidy cat. I always understood Joey’s need to put books in the freezer on Friends - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qqaCby1lGw. A few months ago, I attempted to read The Shining Girls (Lauren Beukes, Mulholland Books 9780316216852). I made it to page 60, at which point I was so terrified of the time traveling serial killer appearing in my bedroom while I was gone that I couldn’t get up to pee. True story. All this to say, reading Precious Thing (Colette McBeth, Headline Books, 9781472205940) was a major stretch for me. And I loved every minute! The story of the friendship between Clara and Rachel, as told from Rachel’s point of view, gripped me in a way I didn’t expect. This is one of those ‘stay up until 3 am’ kind of books. You just want to read one more chapter. Just one. Well, maybe just one more. And then another. As their story unfolds, as you start to question what you’re reading, you’re pulled even deeper into the obsessive and dangerous dance between two very troubled girls sharing secrets you just don’t see coming. About a third of the way through, the penny started dropping for me and a cold sense of dread began creeping. Everything I believed up to that point wasn’t quite right. And everything that followed? Well, just go read it. Trust me.

There is a tendency in selling books to make comparisons to what’s come before. Precious Thing has been called the British Gone Girl. Not having read Gone Girl, I can’t comment on that, except to say, I think this stands on its own. Colette McBeth doesn’t need the comparison for you to pick up Precious Thing. I was hooked from the last sentence of the first page. And I’m still waiting for an answer to my question about the third line on the last page. If you’re like me, if you don’t read thrillers, you don’t read mysteries, make an exception this time. And make sure you have lots of coffee on-hand for the morning, because I promise some late nights reading just one more chapter.

precious-thing-coverPrecious Thing Colette McBeth 9781472205940 $22.99 CDN Paperback 9/10/2013 Headline

Read an excerpt!

David Sedaris on the Big Screen?

cogSo many jokes start ... so a guy walked into a bar. images (1)

This one starts ... so David Sedaris walked into our Manda office. It was a few months ago while on his book tour for Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. I was so ready to be disappointed; his books and New Yorker short stories always made me laugh so hard I cried and I just couldn't fathom of a writer being as funny in the flesh as they were on the page. Luckily, I was crying the entire time he was here - whether due to his insults or his dry humor even I'm not entirely sure.

He threatened to make one of the straight men in our office cut his meat. Then he complained that he hadn't brought his lunch and didn't see any straight men.

He did his go to - asking if any of us were smokers so he could reward those of us who were with priority signing. He explained this strange behavior by noting that the smokers among us were going to die sooner so their time should be seen as more precious.

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Then he proceeded to sign our books, each one customized.  What you should know is that David Sedaris likes to draw - there was a line drawing of a fetus for our pregnant coworker, and a picture of a bloody dagger for Mark ... Enough said.

m talk pretty 2

The man is FUNNY.

And so, when I discovered that one of David Sedaris' stories, C.O.G. from his book Naked was going to become a feature film I was elated. Then I discovered that David Sedaris would be played by none other then the same actor who plays Jesse Saint James, the singing & dancing sensation from Glee. I'm curious to see if Jonathan Groff can do justice to the ever effervescent, sometimes self-deprecating and always sarcastic David Sedaris! Perhaps Jonathan can graduate from Gleekdom, and draw on his Broadway roots to become the precocious teenage Sedaris and maybe he can't.  Either way it'll be something worth watching! If it were the other way around and David Sedaris was playing the triple threat Groff, then there really would be something to laugh about - David in Broadway tights and David singing love songs to Rachel on Glee both seem equally ridiculous and hilarious.

Either way, this means I'm off to the movies for the premiere folks! But until then, I leave you with the movie trailer:

http://youtu.be/FUMWeeyDafA

 

We Need New Names makes Booker long list

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NoViolet Bulawayo's first novel, We Need New Names, has been on my to-read list since I first heard about it late last year.

The story follows Darling, a 10-year old in Zimbabwe, and her friends Stina, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Bastard. They live together in a shanty called Paradise, and they spend their days stealing guavas, trying to get the baby out of Chipo's belly, and remembering. They remember when they had real names and real homes, before the paramilitary policemen came and destroyed everything and the schools were closed down. Before their fathers went abroad to work at dangerous jobs. The children dream of escaping...

Darling's dream, at least, is seemingly realized, as she moves to America to live with her Aunt. She finds that things aren't necessarily easier for her there, where her options as an immigrant are so few.

NoViolet Bulawayo's 2011 Caine Prize winning story Hitting Budapest, became the first chapter in this, now Booker long-listed novel.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo Little, Brown and Company 9780316230810 May 21, 2013

 

9780316230810

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown | Little Brown

I blame The Lost Boys, as I’m sure does every straight woman raised in the 80s. If it hadn’t been for that vampire gateway-drug, I probably never would’ve picked up a single Anne Rice book. I think without The Lost Boys, we wouldn’t have Twilight Moms… for most of those women? 1987 was a formative year. I was just entering my own adolescent angst period, and I blame my love of vampire novels (and angsty teenage stories) entirely on The Lost Boys. Have a thing for tormented bad boys? Check! Do you like the pretty boys who just want to fit in and make you happy? Check! All-night parties and angst-filled declarations of love your thing? CHECK! Really, the vampire novel is the ultimate expression of teenage emotion. Imagine, then, my excitement when I learned that Holly Black, mistress of all things dark and cool YA, had written a teen vampire novel: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Little Brown, 9780316213103 $21.00). The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Be warned: these are not your cuddly sparkly vampires. While they most definitely live up to the vampire lore and tradition of lush, lavish, over-the-top glamorous lives, these are ruthless and (of course!) tormented creatures who don’t exhibit Edward’s restraint when it comes to the blood-lust. In a place not far from our own, vampirism is an infection that can be held off if the bitten victim does not consume human blood for 88 days. At least it can in theory—no one’s ever seen it happen. When Tana is one of two survivors of an attack on a teenage house party, she and her ex-boyfriend Aidan (who is Cold, or infected) head to the nearest Coldtown (a ghetto where all vampires are legally required to live, which attracts Colds and humans alike) with a ‘rescued’ vampire in tow. The vampire is Tana’s ticket out—she will turn in her charming and annoying ex, along with the vampire as bounty and thereby earn herself a marker to get back out.  What follows is a gripping story with plenty of humour and self-awareness as we watch Tana try to balance doing so many right things that you know she’s going to fail. The culmination of events happens at the most gorgeous and self-indulgent of vampire parties and it is replete with the required jewels, gowns, blood and gore. There had better be a sequel, and fast, because I have questions and I need tormented vampire answers!!!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, #1)

Looking Forward to... Icons

I'm always interested in a good alien story and, coming up in May, it looks like we're going to have a really amazing YA title that might be the next great humans vs. aliens tale. Margaret Stohl, #1 best-selling co-author of the Caster Chronicles series (aka Beautiful Creatures), has a new book coming out called Icons (9780316205184, Little Brown). Take a look at the great teaser-trailer for a hint of what to expect.

Icons

Wow! Right?

Humans losing a war they didn't know they were fighting? Four teens fighting to save the world? And this killer tag-line:

Your heart beats only with their permission.

Look for Icons in May, 2013. I will be!

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.

Pharos Editions brings back the old... with the new!

Pharos EditionsPharos Editions, a new imprint from literary fiction publisher Dark Coast Press, is an idea that's been a long time coming. Venerable book-rep Harry Kirchner, now retired and taking on the role of Editor for Pharos Editions, had the idea long ago to ask contemporary media literati what books were important to them in some way, and to introduce them in a Foreword to their selection. With the addition of stylish but simple cover designs and high-quality papers, Harry hopes to expose a new generation of readers to "...overlooked gems, " as he puts it.

The first set of titles, which will release in May, will include selections by bestselling author Jonathan Evison, American Book Award winner Sherman Alexie, Edgar Award recipient Jess Walter and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

Groening's selection, You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up by Eric Knight (ISBN 9780988172500), was a bestselling noir fiction when it was first published in 1938. It's the first on my Pharos Editions reading list, to be followed in short order by the other three initial releases. What will your first Pharos Edition book be?

Dr. Phil's Best Yet

It’s time to learn how the world really works, not how you wish it worked, not how it should work, but how it really works. If you’ve been doing everything “by the book,” and your life still isn’t where you want it be, you’ve been reading the wrong book. Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World (ISBN 9780985462734 from Bird St. Books) will empower you to become a leader of your own life, and just as importantly, protect yourself and those you love. “Life is a game — and you will either be a player or be the one played,” explains Dr. Phil. “Yesterday's rules and expectations about relationships, emotions and interacting just simply don't apply any more , not like they used to ... and those who figure that out and adapt to the current world will have an incredible edge."

This book will create an urgent awareness within readers, and help them become street-smart and savvy. (from Dr. Phil's web site)

Now a New York Times #1 Bestseller!

Beautiful Creatures Trailer

beautiful-creatures-character-posterThe first novel in The Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl has been made into a movie! I always enjoy seeing how the movie turns out after experiencing the wonderful inner world a book creates in your mind. And who doesn't love Emmy Rossum? Watch the trailer HERE. If you haven't had a chance to read these addictive YA novels yet, Little, Brown has a new edition of the book with a new cover, as well as the Beautiful Creatures: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, and a new Manga edition with stunning art work all available!!!

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The movie compendium!

 

The manga!

 

Exciting New Publisher!

page street logoIt isn't every day you get to be on board for the launch of a publisher's very first season, especially not one made up of people brimming with such enthusiasm, experience, and vision. To say that we are excited about Page Street Publishing here at Manda would be an understatement, and when you see the books on offer this upcoming season you'll immediately understand why. The logo for Page Street Publishing is an old printing press block belonging to the publisher Will Kiester's father, and it is the perfect symbol for a company that is devoted to the fading tradition of bookmaking as an art form. The books are exceptional; the aesthetic is clean, crisp, and vibrant - crafted with attention to detail that is characteristic of true quality.  The lifestyle authors are incredible at what they do whether it's cooking, baking, or taking care of chickens.

Will Kiester is keeping it current, making books that are inspirational, affordable, beautiful, and useful.  And this is just the first list for their very first season! I can't wait to see what they have for us next. Here are a few examples of this season's upcoming titles to keep you satiated.

baking-by-hand-make-the-best-artisanal-breads-and-pastries-better-without-a-mixerSimply delicious! Baking by Hand by Andy and Jackie King contains baking techniques and 100 recipes on how to make everything from sourdough to Rhubarb Ginger treats. It's also from world class professional bakers who own their own artisan bakery.

the truly healthy family cookbook Tina Ruggiero knows what it's like to be sick of the next diet craze and to crave a nutritional guide to healthy family-friendly food. The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook has more than 150 recipes from the Gourmet Nutritionist who is the health correspondent for NBC, Daytime and Fox!

bake and destroyYou will LOVE Natalie Slater and her quirky, rockabilly-inspired recipes from the kid friendly Crouching Cornbread, Hidden Broccoli to the delicious Burger Time Whoopie Pie. Hilarious, one-of-a-kind, and so yummy describes Bake and Destroy perfectly.

 

 

Non-fiction Recommendation!

When Manda and the Literary Press Group of Canada started working together and we began receiving book samples from their many amazing publishers, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them! I wanted to share one book that we received from LPG that I read recently and really enjoyed: The Other Side of Midnight: Taxicab Stories (ISBN 9781897174968) was written by Mike Heffernan and published by Creative Book Publishing in Fall 2012.

1897174969This is a work of non-fiction which is comprised of interviews that the author conducted with taxicab drivers in St. John's, Newfoundland. Some of the interviewees are new to the job, some have been at it for more than 20 years. This book was compelling all the way through, and gave me a different perspective on the taxiing industry which I never had before. Very well put together, the stories are grouped by subject and are easy to read. If this peaks your interest, I strongly recommend you give it a read!

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!

 

Edgar Allan Poe Award nominees announced

Congratulations to the Edgar Awards 2013 nominees! The Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America each Spring, celebrate the best writing in the Mystery genre with 14 categories and special awards. Here are our favourites for this year:

Best First NovelThe 500

The 500 by Matthew Quirk, 9780316198622 (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company - Reagan Arthur)

Best Fact CrimeMore Forensics and Fiction

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers' Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle, MD, 9781605423944 (Medallion Press)

Best Short Story

"Hot Sugar Blues" - Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Steve Liskow, 9780316176354 (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company - Mystery Writers of America Presents VengeanceMulholland Books) "The Unremarkable Heart" - Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Karin Slaughter, 9780316176354 (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company - Mulholland Books)

Best Juvenile

Fake MustacheFake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind by Tom Angleberger, 9781419701948 (Abrams - Amulet Books)

13 Hangmen

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau, 9781419701597 (Abrams - Amulet Books)

 

The Quick Fix

The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo, 9780810997257 (Abrams - Amulet Books)

 

Good luck to all the nominees!

After Alice ...

Splintered by A.G. Howard (Abrams, 1419704281)  is a mesmerizing YA novel that just came out on January 1st and is a fantastic read! It is along the lines of Michael Buckley's The Sisters Grimm series. Both a tribute to and a continuation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, (available from Dover Publications, 0486416585) Howard plays with the dark undertones in Carroll’s novels and draws inspiration from his real life muse, Alice Lidell.

better splintered

Howard's debut novel produces a hatter who is just a bit madder, a Moth King who spouts red herrings and flies on gossamer wings,  and a Wonderland that is macabre but grand, alluring but perhaps just a sleight of hand. You’ll be drawn into the story by nostalgia, but you’ll soon fall head over heels down the rabbit hole, eagerly navigating the plots surprising twists and turns.

Alyssa Gardner is your typical skateboarding, rainbow-hair-extension-wearing, sixteen year old girl... except that she is Alice Lidell’s great, great, great granddaughter and her mother is in an insane asylum. Alyssa is concerned that she has inherited the family curse – hearing talking plants and insects can make you a bit paranoid after all. She follows her delusions through the looking glass to save her mother from madness by breaking the curse and fixing everything Alice once put amok. Upon arrival in Wonderland, she discovers that her over-protective crush, Jeb, has followed her on this adventure, and she must rely on the alluring but devious King Morpheus, to guide her on a magical mission.

At its heart, Splintered is a quirky coming-of-age story with a vivacious cast of characters.  Alyssa must grapple with the challenges of growing up which is confusing when you can’t decide who you trust, if you like the good boy or the bad boy, or even who you are.  In the end, will Alice be able to break the curse, fix Wonderland, and get herself and Jeb back home … with their heads still intact?

bk-CarrollBestOfLewisCarrollNot only is this story enchanting and whimsical, but it inspired me to read The Best of Lewis Carroll (Book Sales, 0785813268)  - some of my all time favourites - all over again. Howard's descriptions are vivid and draw on Steampunk, Gothic, and Tim Burton imagery, and her Splintered Pinterest boards are gorgeous!

aliceinwonderland

 

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!

HAPPY-NEW-YEAR

 

 

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.

 

MY FRIEND DAHMER is killing it!

Congrats are in order for Derf Backderf, whose graphic novel My Friend Dahmer (Abrams ComicArts, 1-4197-0216-5) made it to number 4 on Time Entertainment's prestigious Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2012. It's highly unusual for a graphic novel to garner such buzz, but My Friend Dahmer is racking up quite the reader body count. In fact, Ibid Filmworks picked up the rights to make it into a movie! In this captivating autobiographical account of Backderf's middle and high school years, he pieces together an almost sympathetic portrait of Dahmer as a disturbed young man who devolved into a notorious serial killer.

Through his quirky cartoons, we are told Dahmer's haunting story in an unobtrusive way: we see him as a loner, as a victim of a troubled home, as a self-medicating alcoholic, as a budding sociopath in the indifferent world of 1970s suburbia. Backderf's unique vantage point elicits profound insight and some serious queries: Were the existence of Dahmer demons already an indication of an inevitable sinister outcome, or could this troubled youth's life have turned out differently if someone had noticed the red-flags and just reached out to help?

Deeply unsettling and frighteningly tragic!

 

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!

 

 

 

AGO Event with MID-CENTURY MODERN author Judith Miller

Join us Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. for an hour of fascinating conversation about Judith Miller’s life with antiques and a glimpse into her latest book heralding design from the 1940s to 1960s. Miller’s Mid-Century Modern (Mitchell Beazley, 978-1845336936) is a comprehensive and critical guide to one of the most exciting periods in design history and one of the hottest design trends of the moment. This invaluable book covers all of the most iconic designs and designers emanating from the 1940s to 1960s and explores the most desirable furniture, ceramics, glass, metalware, interiors and textiles from the period. The event will take place at the AGO (317 Dundas street W) visit http://artmatters.ca/wp/2012/10/designtalk-judith-miller-and-mid-century-modern-in-shopago/ for more information.

RED KNIT CAP GIRL is a Best Illustrated 2012 Winner!

    Congrats are in order for Naoko Stoop, one of the recipients of the New York Times' coveted Best Illustrated Children's Book Awards of 2012! The ten winners were just announced over twitter feed recently by Pamela Paul from the New York Times. There should be more information on the awards apearing soon in the NY Times review section.

     Red Knit Cap Girl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is a book that will entertain young and old with its stunning and intricate images and touching story. From the heart of an enchanted forest, the reader follows a little girl and  her woodland friends on an mission to talk to the moon. The beauty of the natural world pops through the illustrations painted on wood grain.