Dec 27, 2009

A common complaint is that children's books, especially high-quality picture-books, cost so much. All I can say is that they cost less than a dinner out, or a new pair of jeans. The books I read as a child transformed me, gave meaning and perspective to my experiences, and helped to mould whatever imaginative, intellectual or creative strengths I can lay claim to now. No doll or game had that impact on me, no pair of jeans ever changed my life.
- Michelle Landsberg

Dec 26, 2009


We are accustomed to repeating the cliche, and to believing, that 'our most precious resource is our children.' But we have plenty of children to go around, God knows, and as with Doritos, we can always make more. The true scarcity we face is of practicing adults, of people who know how marginal, how fragile, how finite their lives and their stories and their ambitions really are but who find value in this knowledge, even a sense of strange comfort, because they know their condition is universal, is shared.

Dec 24, 2009

All I want for Xmas...The Year of the Flood and The Other Boleyn Girl

posted by Josee Corrigan

This holiday I have taken the time to sit around and read.  Lucky for me, I received two loaner books just in time for the break - The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.  I flashed through Gregory's novel in a matter of days; it is an engrossing tale of the lives of Mary, Anne and George Boleyn, three Boleyn siblings attending the court of Henry VIII.  We know the story of Anne, who met the chopping block within a few years of her brief time as Henry's second wife; alternately, this book explores the story of her rise and fall from the perspective of Mary, Anne's younger sister.  Gregory's novel details the life at Henry's turbulent court: the intrigues and the scandals, his separation from the Roman Church to annul his marriage to Queen Katherine and marry Anne, his obsession with providing a male heir to England, and the extreme ambition driving the Howard family (and their daughters) into the King's court and bed to further their status in 16th Century English society.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the sequels to this book - The Queen's Fools, The Virgin's Lover, The Constant Princess, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Other Queen.

On an entirely different, futuristic track, I am halfway through Margaret Atwood's newest novel, The Year of the Flood.  I can't say I love it, but I cannot stop reading it!  It is quietly creepy and ultimately apocalyptic.  Like the prequel, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood weaves a wickedly scary tale of moral decrepitude and the general demise of humanity and the world as we know it.  Most frightening are similarities between Atwood's fictional world and our existence today, for example the "Corps" compounds - gated communities reserved for the rich and corrupt- and the "pleeblands" - the dangerous suburbs where illegal trafficking in women, animals, and drugs, among other things, occurs.  These are just two rather bland examples where comparison only begins.  Don't get me started on the gene splicing, mystery meat, sex-slave trade, environmental degradation for capitalist gain, religious extremism, and political corruption that are hallmarks of Atwood's book.  Definitely worth reading.  Find it in hardcover now at Jennie's. 
Happy holidays.

Dec 18, 2009

Robert J Wiersema's Christmas Ghost Story

from Torontoist: Books

part I                    part V
part II                  part VI
part III             part VII
part IV             part VIII


Originally posted on Robert J Wiersema's blog.

An announcement…

December 16th, 2009
As promised, some news, direct from
The editors of Books@Torontoist are proud to announce the publication of an original story by Robert J Wiersema, bestselling author of the novel Before I Wake (now published in ten countries) and the novella The World More Full of Weeping. The story, “Just Like the Ones He Used to Know,” will be serialized on the site in eight daily posts, beginning on Thursday, December 16 and ending on Christmas Eve. The story of a man who makes a mysterious journey to his home town on a stormy Christmas Eve, “Just Like the Ones He Used to Know” revives the Victorian tradition of ringing in the holiday season with a story of the ghostly and the miraculous...

Dec 10, 2009

Fun Fantasy for Adults

posted by Josee

It's been a while since I've been engulfed in what many would consider to be "children's literature" or "young adult," but I've been living in the world of fantasy for the past year fairly consistently, with a few breaks of course. It began with the terribly addictive Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer; if you haven't read it yourself you probably know of it by now due to the current Beatlesque teenage obsession with the characters in the new film series. Then I moved into watching the saga of Sookie Stackhouse in the True Blood series, a somewhat gruesome HBO series based on Charlaine Harris' novels. Deliciously vampire again. Then it was on to Alison Croggon's Books of Pellinor (I'm still waiting for The Singing to come out in paperback. Yes, it is terribly painful to wait). Then Graceling by Kristin Cashore and adventures with the characters Katsa and Prince Po. Most recently I've been engulfed in the Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin - A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu. This series is truly wonderful and beguiling.

What has made the journey through all this fantasy literature and film so interesting is the wonder of seeing the influences of older writers and creators of fantasy, influences such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It is easy to see the roots of some of the newer wizardy-type books out today, like the Harry Potter series and Alison Croggon's delightful Books of Pellinor. The link to the vampire series is not so clear, however the themes of light and dark are ever present.

Recently I was listening to Gian Gomeshi on CBC interview a lit critic about the growth of what she called "Amish fiction". The term does not indicate who is writing or reading this literature, but rather is used to denote genre to books like Stephanie Meyer's. They are often romantic, moral tales that emphasize sex after marriage, among other things. It made me think more about these fascinating vampire tales. Hmmmmn...

My point is: this stuff is fun. Fun to read, think about and critique. Definitely come into Jennie's and peer beyond the veil into our fantasy/fiction section. It's not just for young adults and children, it's adult fiction too!

Dec 7, 2009

Cuban Missile Crises: A Love Story

posted by Jennie

I started reading The Translator by John Crowley because a friend told me that it was even better than Little Big by the same author. It took me weeks to finish it. Read it. It's very good. Don't worry if it takes awhile to get into. Finish it.

Here are a few things that Crowley had to say in an interview about The Translator :

I'm drawn to characters who seem to perceive the secret history of the world, or see a world-story proceeding, and don't trust themselves -- and don't believe that they could know such a thing -- but are drawn to it anyway. That's been a consistent direction all my writing has taken. I can think of people whose minds are active in that way in almost all the books I've written.

We live in more than one universe. We live in an ordinary, commonplace, shared world where things are amenable to reason and in which John Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Kruschev are ordinary people who have gotten into positions of power and are subject to historical forces. But, at the same time, we live in mythic universes in which these people take on symbolic import that we can't entirely control and that we summon up when we mention their names. The same way that we summon up mythic power when we mention King Arthur or characters of that kind.

Whenever you use material like that in a book you are at once touching on both. What I hoped to be able to do was to reference their mythical manifestations while altering those slightly for my own purposes. I don't put myself in this class, but Nabokov said that all great novels of the realist tradition are great fairy tales really: Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, Anna Karenina -- they create worlds of their own and beings of power and beauty and angelic appearance who move among us. To a much smaller degree, that's what I was up to. It was a way of telling of telling a fairy tale within our shared world. I think there are certain people who are able to apprehend that alternate reality -- and to whom it comes -- and it comes back out of them as poems.

Dec 4, 2009

Terry Tempest Williams’ New Book Promises Depth, Feeling and Insight

posted by Kate Guthrie

One of my favorite authors, Terry Tempest Williams, has a new book in at Jennie’s. Finding Beauty in a Broken World examines the artistic and metaphoric beauty of mosaic, first in the “jeweled ceilings” of Italy, then in a clan of prairie dogs near extinction in the Southwestern U.S. and, finally, in the building of a memorial in war-torn Rwanda.

Williams first shook me up and made my eyes widen with the deeply moving, gorgeously written Refuge, in which she explores the experience of her mother’s death from breast cancer. Refuge also demonstrates the delicate, stark beauty of the desert where Williams lives, the dance of great birds in one Utah sanctuary and the Mormon faith, in which she was raised. Finally, the book tells the story of Williams’ fierce, passionate awakening as an environmental activist.

Besides being an award-winning author, Williams is a naturalist and environmental activist. To all her writing she brings a strong, physical connection to Earth and an informed academic eye. Her work teaches the reader about the fascinating intricacies of the planet without ever leaving us stuck in our heads—in Williams’ experience of stone, water, animals and the elements, we are always, also, of the world.

Like Refuge, Finding Beauty in a Broken World explores Williams’ process more than anything. How do we make something whole from that which has been broken, she asks, with her usual poetic, meditative, lyrical power. Sure to move, stir and awaken, I can’t wait to read this book.

Dec 3, 2009

Holiday shopping at Jennie's and the Nelson & District Women's Centre Raffle

Here's an exciting opportunity to do some holiday shopping at Jennie's and support the Nelson & District Women's Centre. The Women's Centre is holding a raffle to raise funds to keep their doors open. For this fundraiser there are some Really Fabulous Prizes!! Raffle Tickets are $5 each and each ticket gives six opportunities to win great prize packages.

*Early Bird Prize: two Whitewater day passes, a 90 minute massage and a special gift will be drawn on December 18th and in time for the upcoming holiday season.

Major Draw: March 8, 2010 for International Women’s Day!!
Five Major Prizes will be drawn on March 8. One of the packages is a week-end deluxe stay at the Prestige Inn complete with a $100 dining certificate at Frisco`s. Other prize packages include restaurants, massages, kayak rentals, surprise gifts and a cash prize of $200.

For the last 37 years women and children have been supported at the Women’s Centre through counselling, information, referrals, free food and clothing, training and skill development. This past year nearly 3,000 women and children have come to the Drop-In which provides women with a safe place to go for help. It is often the first place a woman goes for support when in crisis or fleeing violent situations.

These Raffle tickets will make a great stocking stuffer or a thoughtful gift. Tickets are available at Jennie's Book Garden, in addition to the Women’s Centre 420 Mill Street and a few other local venues. If you have any questions, please call the Centre at (250) 352-9916. Any donations of $20.00 or over will receive a tax receipt.

In addition to these great stocking stuffers, Jennie has beautiful books coming in every week just in time for the holidays. Come and check out our best sellers in fiction and non-fiction, crime fiction, travel, art and culture. We've got so many wonderful books to touch, browse, buy and read. We hope to see you soon.

Dec 1, 2009

Canada Reads 2010 list is announced

Canada Reads 2010

Perdita Felicien is defending Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Samantha Nutt is defending The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
Roland Pemberton aka Cadence Weapon is defending Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland
Simi Sara is defending Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Michel Vézina is defending Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, translated by Lazer Lederhendler