Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Spring/Summer 2007 Books from Europa Editions

Europa Editions is one of my favourite small press publishers. The books they publish offer a window into worlds I don't normally view and they certainly cause me to think about new ideas.

Here are my picks from their spring/summer 2007 line.

* The Fugitive by Massimo Carlotto, trans. by Antony Shugaar (April 15, 2007)
* Prime Time Suspect by Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, trans. by Nicholas Caistor (June 24, 2007)
* The Worst Intentions by Alessandro Piperno, trans. by Ann Goldstein (July 20, 2007)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Three: Color Knitting by Vogue Knitting

Collecting together more than 200 color knitting patterns from the pages of Vogue® Knitting magazine, Color Knitting is the third volume in the Vogue® Knitting Stitchionary series. Calling these volumes the “ultimate stitch dictionary,” the editors of Vogue® Knitting magazine have selected a range of designs sure to challenge and inspire knitters of all skill levels. For each pattern, a large sample swatch is shown; some in quite unusual color combinations.

Color Knitting is made up of five chapters: Two Color, Fair Isle/Multicolor, Intarsia/Motifs, Adding Texture, and Slip Stitch. In each chapter the patterns are organized from easiest to hardest. The patterns in the first three chapters are presented as graphs only. The final two sections, which incorporate both stitch patterns as well as color, are presented with both charts and written instructions.

Color, perhaps more than any other element of design, is subjective. Everyone has preferred colors, and the colors in which a design is shown can lead one to reject it without assessing the pattern itself. To provide an overall flow to the stitch dictionary, the editors have presented each chapter in a different palette. For this to be a useful volume, knitters must use it as a starting point, find their own preferred color scheme and be creative.

Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series
Vol. 1 - Knit & Purl
Vol. 2 - Cable Knitting
Vol. 3 - Color Knitting

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 1933027029
ISBN13: 9781933027029
240 Pages
Publisher: Sixth & Spring Books
Publication Date: October 2006


Monday, November 27, 2006

Spring & Summer 2007 Book Lists

After reviewing the Spring & Summer 2007 offerings from the various publisher's catalogues, I created several lists of my personal recommendations. This post is intended to provide a summary of the publishers I listed, with links to the relevant original post. If publishing houses are missing it is because I have not yet looked through their Spring & Summer offerings.

My disclaimer: These are the books which I personally am looking forward to hearing more about and perhaps reading. This is in no way a reflection on what I think is going to be a big hit nor am I suggesting that any author is publishing a "bad" book by not listing it here. At the time the lists were created, I had not read the books.

List of Publishers
Alma Books
Arcadia Books
Ballantine Books
Back Bay Books
Bloomsbury UK
Bloomsbury USA
Bond Street Books
Broadway Books
Canadian Manda Group
Chatto & Windus
Chicago Review Press
Chronicle Books
Couteau Books
Del Rey
Delacorte Press
Dial Press
Doubleday Canada
Douglas & McIntyre
Europa Editions
Faber & Faber
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Gibbs Smith
Greystone Books
Harcourt (HBJ)
Harvill Secker
Henry Holt
Hesperus Press
Houghton Mifflin
Hyperion Books
Key Porter Books
Kondansha International
Little Bookroom
Little, Brown & Company
Metropolitan Books
Miramax Books
Nan A. Talese
NYRB Classics
Owl Books
Pelican Publishing
Penguin Group
Raincoast Books
Random House
St. Martin's
St. Martin's Minotaur
Shaye Areheart Books
Simon & Schuster
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Tachyon Publications
Thistledown Press
Three Rivers Press
Touchwood Editions
Vintage Canada
Walker & Company
Warner Books
William Heinemann

Spring/Summer 2007 Titles from Hachette Group

Today I got the catalogues from the Hachette Group covering April to August 2007. I love wading through publishers' catalogues, it's almost like Christmas - seeing all the upcoming books and deciding what you want to read. Then comes the wait until you finally get a chance to buy the books, open them and have that new book smell. Nothing could be better!

So after extensive review, here are my picks of upcoming 2007 titles from Hachette. (Photos to follow)

Little, Brown & Company
* The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin (April 2007)
* Afternoons with Emily by Rose MacMurray (April 2007)
* Addled by JoeAnn Hart (May 2007)
* The Confetti Cakes Cookbook: Spectacular Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City’s Famed Bakery by Elisa Strauss (May 2007)
* The Blood of Flowers: a Novel by Anita Amirrezvani (June 2007)
* Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney (July 2007)
* Exposure: a Novel by Kurt Wenzel (July 2007)
* By George by Wesley Stace (August 2007)

Back Bay Books
* Transparency: Stories by Frances Hwang (April 2007)
* Bank: a Novel by David Bledin (May 2007)
* The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo: a Novel by Peter Orner (May 2007)
* Tiare in Bloom by Célestine Vaite (June 2007)
* Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst (Trade Paperback, July 2007)
* Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker (Trade Paperback, August 2007)
* The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler (Trade Paperback, August 2007)

Warner Books
* Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson (Trade Paperback, May 2007)
* The Devil You Know by Mike Carey (July 2007)
* The History Book by Humphrey Hawksley (August 2007)

Twelve Hardcover
* Boomsday: a Novel by Christopher Buckley (April 2007)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

It is a historical fact that in 1909 Sigmund Freud paid his only visit to the U.S., after which he labeled Americans as “savages.” In Jed Rubenfeld’s debut novel, The Interpretation of Murder, Freud’s arrival in New York coincides with a rash of attacks against beautiful young socialites. Dr. Stratham Younger, a Freud devotee, is asked to help the second victim, Nora Acton, regain her memory. He turns to his teacher for help in treating his reluctant patient and, in turn, must aid his mentor by allaying the cloud of suspicion hovering around Freud.

The Interpretation of Murder is based around the real-life mystery surrounding Freud's visit to America in 1909. In an interview with, Rubenfeld says he was inspire to use, as the jumping off point for his novel, a basic question which has puzzled Freud's biographers for a long time: “Could something have happened to Freud during his week in Manhattan, something we still don't know about, some event that could account for his severe antipathy to America?” In his detailed author’s note, Rubenfeld carefully delineates the line between his fiction and historical fact.

Rubenfeld portrays a New York City well known to readers of Edith Wharton and Henry James’ work. Dr. Stratham Younger and many of the other characters inhabit the world of the beau monde, the Vanderbilts and the Astors. These glittering figures wander carelessly through the events portrayed with the same cold disdain portrayed so cleverly in The House of Mirth. By invoking the spectre of Wharton and James’ writing styles, Rubenfeld effortlessly exposes the hollowness filling the houses and settings his killer treads.

This world of excess is in sharp contrast with corruption found within the New York police department and government. In these early days of investigation, crime scene investigation is almost non-existent and the wealthy can easily circumvent procedure. What is particularly fascinating in The Interpretation of Murder is the commentary he provides on American society in the early 1900s. The resistance to Freud’s theories is expounded upon at great length and the developing rift between Freud and Jung gradually exposed.

Many of the theories expressed are laughable viewed from a century later; others however, are extremely repugnant. Many Americans felt that Freud was promoting sexual license and believe his theories would lead to all sorts of social ills. At a dinner party attended by Freud, one of the guests suggested that, as a man of science, Freud should be concerned with the dangers of sexual emancipation such as the problems of overpopulation. His proposal is that every immigrant without means should be sterilized so that American society “are not required to bear the charge of their unfit offspring, who end up as beggars and thieves” although the guest is willing to “make an exception, of course, for those who can pass an intelligence test.”

Early in The Interpretation of Murder, Dr. Younger explains one of his most exciting theories - man’s moments of revolutionary genius have all happened at the turn of a century, specifically in the first decade of a century. Rubenfeld has brought this dynamic period vividly to life and proposed a fascinating solution to the mystery of Freud’s visit to and the rise of psychoanalysis in America.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0805080988
ISBN13: 9780805080988

384 Pages
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: September 7, 2006


Friday, November 24, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim

When I first heard about The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim I have to admit to being skeptical. I relate the word "devotions" to its ecclesiastical meaning of "religious observance or worship, religious texts" and was having difficulty with the idea of daily lessons/readings of an intellectual nature.

The Intellectual Devotional is structured so you can begin using it at any time in the year. Each day of the week has a different field from which the day's lesson is drawn: Mondays focuses on history; Tuesdays on literature; Wednesday on visual arts; Thursdays on science; Friday on music; Saturday on philosophy; and Sundays on religion. As the authors say: "The book’s goal is to refresh knowledge you’ve forgotten, bring to light fresh insights, and exercise modes of thinking that are ordinarily neglected once our school days are behind us."

So what can you learn by including The Intellectual Devotional in your daily routine? The daily essays provide a brief synopsis of the topic followed by additional facts. One item the authors may wish to include in future editions is to include sources for follow-up readings on each topic as a footnote to the essays. The daily entries cover a broad spectrum in each field of learning. For example, some essays in the literature section are on individual authors while others address a specific book or literary movement such as the Harlem Renaissance. The field of religion covers all major faiths, as well as important leaders and theological understandings.

I can see this book as one readers will utilize for the year and keep around as a reference volume and it is for this function that the included index will come in handy. Of concern are the ragged page edges which, while initially providing a lovely look to the book, with repeated flipping have the potential to become dirty looking and quite worn.

The book's website has a forum where you can offer suggestions for the second edition and sign up for a free 7 day trial prior to buying the book.

ISBN10: 1594865132
ISBN13: 9781594865138

377 Pages
Publisher: Rodale Books
Publication Date: October 2006
Book website:


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Museum of Kitschy Stitches by Stitchy McYarnpants

“…The Museum of Kitschy Stitches, a collection of the most groan-inspiring crimes against hand-crafted fashion ever to assault the senses.”

Based on Stitchy McYarnpants’ description of this book, it is understandable if a reader hesitates before picking up The Museum of Kitschy Stitches: a Gallery of Notorious Knits. McYarnpants has been delighting readers by investigating crafting’s most embarrassing moments and exposing them to the world's scrutiny on her blog. Hideous hats, granny squares gone mad, and more are featured in all their awful glory.

In The Museum of Kitschy Stitches (the book), McYarnpants has selected the best of the worst and added her own juicy descriptions to the devastating fashion choices. In her preface to the first chapter "Hoodwinked: Never Trust a Homemade Hat", McYarnpants advises: “Choose carefully, for in the turbulent waters of fashion, the fish stinks from the head down.”

Many of the designs in The Museum of Kitschy Stitches are sure to induce nightmares but none as completely as the hat featured on page 17, a particularly abhorrent ski mask. McYarnpants counters the horror with her trademark wit inducing gales of laughter in readers ending with this outrageous statement: “Oh, how rude of me! Let me introduce you. This is Leatherface’s more sadistic cousin, Yarnface.”

This is perfect coffee table reading material, a great conversation starter and the perfect cautionary tale for when good knitters go bad. As Stitchy McYarnpants says: “Remember, only use your knitting powers for good.” An important lesson for us all!

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 1594741115
ISBN13: 9781594741111

127 Pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: June 2006
Author Website:


Monday, November 20, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Northampton Wools Knitting Book by Linda A. Daniels

Quintessential New England sweater patterns fill The Northampton Wools Knitting Book: the Shop Patterns by Linda A. Daniels. These thirty-four original patterns are customer favourites designed by Daniels during her two and a half decades of running Northampton Wools. Also included are several designs created for Charlize Theron to wear in the movie, The Cider House Rules.

The Northampton Wools Knitting Book is the perfect collection of patterns for beginner and advance beginners. The patterns are divided into sections by skill level with the first two (Little Things and Simple Sweaters) containing projects perfect for the beginner looking for something more than a simple garter stitch scarf. The fourth section (Stitch Pattern) features challenging stitches that build on basic sweater construction for the knitter moving beyond the basic projects.

Scattered throughout are a few patterns sure to engage the imagination of the experienced knitter. The Reversible Cable Scarf features ingenious cables twisted in a way that looks the same on both sides of the scarf. The Fancy Watch Cap, designed by KeriAnne Shaw (an employee of Northampton Wools), features many examples that highlight Shaw’s love of getting every detail exactly right.

The final section features children’s patterns from Northampton Wools, Too, the store opened in 2003 to expand Daniels' business. The patterns in this section cover designs from infant wear to four years.

The Northampton Wools Knitting Book is a sure winner for the beginning or intermediate knitter on your Christmas list.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 0881506834
ISBN13: 9780881506839

115 Pages
Publisher: The Countryman Press
Publication Date: September 2006
Store Website (coming soon):


Friday, November 17, 2006

Selsi Sea Rocks - a new Toronto shopping establishment

If you're looking for something different for gifts, you should visit Selsi Sea Rocks. Celebrating everything salty, this unique sea salt bar offers truly flavourful gift ideas. Owner Andrea Brockie used to have an outdoor stall at the St. Lawrence Market but decided to move to a retail location to expand her range of products.

As a special treat, every Sunday in December you can experience complimentary sea salt mini massages and reflexology, to help combat the stresses of holiday shopping!

Selsi Sea Rocks
2 Gladstone Ave.
(at Queen St. W.)

UPDATE (February 13, 2007): Due to condo construction, Andrea had to give up her storefront. You can now find her back at the St. Lawrence Market but indoors on the lower level.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Welcome to the world Matthew Timothy

Making his first appearance, my four-hour-old nephew - Matthew Timothy. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 oz. and 20 inches long, Matthew has brown hair with curls.

Happy Birth Day Matthew!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Must Love Dragons by Stephanie Rowe

Booklist describes Stephanie Rowe’s paranormal romances as “blissfully bizarre” and this reviewer must concur. Not having read Date Me Baby, One More Time, I was unsure what to expect in the second volume of the Goblet of Eternal Youth Series, Must Love Dragons. The plot picks up at the end of Date Me Baby, One More Time and continues the development of the love affair between Theresa Nichols (dragon and interim Guardian of the Goblet) and Zeke Siccardi (ex-dragon-slayer turned PI).

Theresa Nichols, stuck in dragon form, is hungry and thoroughly bored. Quincy, who is supposed to look after Theresa and the shape-shifting Goblet she guards, has been rather lax in fulfilling his duties. Zeke, her cyber-sex buddy, is pushing really hard to get her to agree to finally meet him in person. But an eleven-foot dragon walking the streets of New York City is sure to cause chaos but hunger finally drives Theresa out of the apartment and straight into an attack on her life. Desperate to regain her human body, Theresa decides to sell her soul to Satan in return for a favour owing to Satan to be claimed at a time of his choosing. Of course, this decision can't possibly be a good one and all out chaos ensues.

While the love affair between Theresa and Zeke is fiery and fascinating, the secondary characters in Must Love Dragons add to the blissfulness of the book and in many ways steal the show. The fountain of youth turns out to be a shape-shifting Goblet with attitude known as Desdemona’s Temptation, more commonly known as Mona. Satan is lovesick for Iris, a defrocked Guardian who spurns his attention while she is secretly more than a little in love with him herself. Becca, a hostile Rivka who is Satan’s right-hand woman, is exasperated by most of Theresa’s antics but is intrigued by her zest for life.

The third volume in Stephanie Rowe’s Goblet of Eternal Youth Series, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot, is scheduled to be published in May 2007 and will feature Becca as she tries to break free on her own, away from serving Satan.

Read an excerpt of Must Love Dragons here.

ISBN10: 0446617679
ISBN13: 9780446617673

Mass Market Paperback
384 Pages
Publisher: Warner Forever
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Author Website:


Monday, November 13, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

Victoria Cartwright, unlike her friends Melody Seabright (The Kitchen Witch) and Kira Fitzgerald (My Favorite Witch), is convinced she doesn’t have a magical bone in her body despite her supposed magical heritage. Upon the death of her beloved grandmother, Vickie receives a key with a cryptic tag “Unlock the wardrobe with the magic inside you and meet your destiny.” According to family legend, her ancestor Lili Lockhart left the key to her female descendants a century previously and only the daughter who inherited her magical gifts will be able to open the wardrobe and complete her spell. When she opens the wardrobe and finds a carousel unicorn, Vickie is flabbergasted.

Rory MacKenzie, hermit and carousel expert, immediately recognizes the carousel unicorn when it appears on an antiques television show. The unicorn was carved by his ancestor Drummond, for the Immortal Classic Zodiac Carousel, and its recovery is key to ending his family curse and the curse on the town of Caperglen, Scotland. Rory heads for Salem, Massachusetts intent on recovering his unicorn but is unprepared for the sparks that fly when he meets Vickie. Will Rory be able to end his family’s curse before succumbing to Vickie’s spell?

The third volume in Annette Blair’s ‘Accidental’ Witch trilogy picks up where My Favorite Witch left off. The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe focuses on Victoria Cartwright and her quest for a knight on a charger. Vickie and Rory make a wonderful pair and the witty dialogue the two fling at each other will have readers laughing out loud. The double entendres fly thick and fast throughout: “Some wooden chargers are specimens of piercing beauty and should be taken for at least one good…gallop…before a decision is made.”

Despite the disparaging view each holds of the other - Vickie is convinced that Rory is a “lack-wit shoddy-mannered Scot” and Rory believes Vickie to be “lady stubborn spitfire” – the heat between the two shimmers off the page. The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe is full of sexual tension but first and foremost it shows the power of love as these scarred individuals find healing.

Blair will continue to write about witches with her upcoming Triplet Witch Trilogy, focusing on Victoria Cartwright’s triplet half-sisters who provided a great deal of comedic appeal in The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The first book, Sex and the Psychic Witch is scheduled for release in August 2007.

Read an excerpt of The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe here.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0425213463
ISBN13: 9780425213469

Mass Market Paperback
304 Pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: December 5, 2006
Author Website:


Sunday, November 12, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Crazy About Quilting by Ada K. Moyles

For many years Ada Moyles delighted quilters with her regular column “Views from the Attic” in Quilt World. Now her stories are available to delight a larger audience in her new book Crazy About Quilting: Confessions of an Average Quilter.

Quilting originally was done with scraps of leftover cloth and retired clothing, a practical way to keep a family warm and be thrifty at the same time. Many of these old quilts are still treasured heirlooms and family keepsakes; however, in recent years quilting has transcended its homey image and become an art-form of its own.

Like any other interest or addiction, quilting brings together a community – perhaps even more than other crafts because of the community’s history of quilting bees and charitable work. In Crazy About Quilting., Moyles provides a window into this world of fabric addicts and “obsessive quilters.” Featuring vignettes on how to minimize housework (and make more time for quilting), what it means to be an average quilter, and even a quiz on how to tell if you are truly obsessed with your craft, this tiny volume is full of heartwarming sentiments and life lessons.

While dealing explicitly with quilting, Moyles’ ponderings on life, the pursuit of a passion and the creative process is sure to find resonance with crafters of all mediums. The focus of the passion may be different but the process, and others’ reactions to it, is sure to be familiar to many.

The act of making an item like a quilt, meant to keep someone warm, is a gift from the heart and Moyles’ amusing vignettes are sure to warm many hearts this Christmas.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 1552857581
ISBN13: 9781552857588

224 Pages
Publisher: Whitecap Books
Publication Date: October 2006


Thursday, November 09, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Remainder by Tom McCarthy

In Remainder, our narrator is a young Englishman traumatised by an accident which, while destroying his memory, has left him a very wealthy man. All he knows is something fell out of the sky and hit him, and someone very wealthy is willing to pay a lot of money to guarantee his silence about the event.

With no memories to tie him to the past and having remapped his brain to perform the most basic tasks, he obsessively tries to capture “real” moments – instances which feel fluid and natural rather than learned. He seeks the perfection achieved when he loses consciousness of and merges with his actions.

To help him achieve these moments of perfection, he spends his time and money obsessively reconstructing and re-enacting memories and situations from his past. He purchases a large building and hires actors to help match the setting to the remembered moment. When this fails to quench his thirst for authenticity, he starts reconstructing more and more violent events.

Tom McCarthy’s artistic eye is apparent in Remainder, translating into vividly described settings. The setting is as much a character as our nameless narrator. Readers are immersed in the setting which is invoked at such a visceral level that one feels the sunbeam warming one’s skin as the narrator lays in a sunbeam and smell the liver wafting through the ventilation system.

As McCarthy describes in an interview with ReadySteadyBook: “Trauma is intimately tied in with re-enactment: it brings about a compulsion to repeat…What excited me right from the crack-moment onwards was that the premise clearly had much wider implications: it was about history and time, simulation, questions of authenticity and, by extension, of our whole state of being-in-the-world. And it was about the world's state of being-in-the-universe as well: the world, matter, this shard left over from some unnameably violent disaster - a remainder.”

While the conclusion of Remainder is unsurprising, how McCarthy reaches it is unique. This is not a novel in the traditional sense, and it is not remarkable that traditional publishers were unwilling to take it on. McCarthy’s work will make many readers uncomfortable; yet within the progression of the narrator’s obsession the world he presents is terrifyingly plausible.

ISBN10: 1846880157
ISBN13: 9781846880157

290 Pages
Publisher: Alma Books
Publication Date: September 2006


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

And the winner of the Giller Prize is...

Toronto-based author Vincent Lam has won the Giller Prize, Canada's richest and most prestigious literary award, for his book of linked short stories, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures.

The $40,000 Giller Prize was handed out at a gala hosted by Justin Trudeau in Toronto Tuesday evening.

Vincent Lam, author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, says he wanted to be a writer but went into medicine so he would have some life experience. Lam, 32, who is an emergency room physician as well as a writer, said he was "astonished" by the win.

"Luck is not what it seems and most of it falls into the category of divine blessing or people who have been kind to you," he said in an acceptance speech that honoured his publisher and writer Margaret Atwood.

Atwood has been a mentor and advocate for Lam and introduced his book during the ceremony.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is about medical students and young doctors, a world Lam was immersed in when he started writing the book, a year after finishing his residency.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is his first book of fiction. His debut novel is due out in 2007.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A blogger's apologies

Into every blogger's life comes a week when they can't seem to post at all and this has been mine. Life explodes with craziness and good intentions of daily posts go out the window. The stack of books waiting for reviews to be typed up has grown monstrous, so expect a flurry of posts next week.

Tonight I head to Baltimore to attend Stitches East - entering that nirvana of yarn goodness. I wish you all days filled with books and will report back next week, refreshed and overflowing with creativity.