Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Type Books, a must visit if you’re in Toronto

July30

I finally made it to visit Toronto’s newest independent bookstore yesterday (after two months, shameful), and I think one of the owners must have crawled into my head before designing their bookstore. Tons of light, tall bookshelves with lots of open space in which to browse, a great magazine selection and the books – a fantastic selection of new and backlist titles. It’s my dream bookstore!

I picked up Blue Angel by Francine Prose and some book-related periodicals but the best was the 45 minutes or so of browsing. I didn’t make it much past the fiction section, except for a small foray into the children’s section and the science/nature section.

Two recommendations if you get a chance to visit:
1) Make sure you go to the kid’s section and sit on the blue mushroom. Then find out where they got it and let me know! I think I just found a must-have item…super comfy.
2) Check out the scented pencils, especially the rootbeer one. (Hint: they’re by the cash register) I think it’s the first time I’ve found a scented pencil that smells like the real thing. (Thanks to my friend Jennifer who found them!)

Type Books is located at 883 Queen Street West and business hours are as follows: Mondays – Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00am to 8:00pm, and Sundays from noon to 5:00pm. I didn’t make it downstairs into their gallery space but they currently have an exhibit of handmade books which sounds worthwhile.

This just explains so much about my life

July14

I think I burned out writing so many reviews in such a short time…so here’s today’s tidbit, totally unrelated to books.

Crazy Aunt Purl’s response to Esquire’s article The State of the American Man. I’m not convince that this is limited to American men…

My only response to CAP is that she’s hit the nail on the head, and described the last ten years of my life.

Women aren’t perfect either (I know I’m not) but there seems to be a lack of respect going both directions. What ever happened to good, old-fashioned dating?

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What have they done to Jane Austen?!?

July13

From The Telegraph (thanks to BookSlut):
Jane Austen’s novels have been repackaged as chick-lit to reflect our modern conception of her as a romantic novelist.

Have I been reading the same books as these people? One has only to read Sense and Sensibility to see what Jane Austen thinks happens to girls with romantic delusions. Jane Austen writes of women’s reality in her time and is quite unflinching in what she portrays. The Telegraph article nails it with this:

Charlotte’s subsequent life is a kind of decorous hell, made bearable by the fact that the alternative would have been worse. She is the stony reality at the heart of Pride and Prejudice. She tells a woman’s story, but in a way that is utterly remote from feminine convention: with scant emotion, appealing to nothing other than rationality. And, like her creator, she has remarkably little to do with cosy readings of The Jane Austen Book Club and communal swoons over Mr Darcy.

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An Interview with David Long

July12

I had the pleasure of corresponding with and interviewing David Long, author of The Inhabited World – released Monday. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please head over to Curled Up with a Good book and read the interview. David is a fascinating author and has a lot to say about modern literature and the charcter motivation in his new novel.

…and the interview questions are pretty good too, but of course I’m biased!

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Initial thoughts on a book

July11

Sometimes after reading a book, I discover that I can’t immediately put pen to paper to write a review. It’s almost like I need time to digest the book, to formulate my response and truly figure out my reaction to it. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is such a book. It’s an amazing novel, to put it bluntly, but there is so much to think about that I barely know where to begin.

Do I talk about the treatment of children with Down’s Syndrome? Or focus on the nature of twins? Or the consequences choices have over decades? Being physically present in a relationship yet emotionally not there? Photography as a window into a person’s soul? The relationship of the cover image to the story?

Perhaps I am paralyzed by too many options and so many words in my head. In the meantime, do yourself a favour and run out to buy this book. You won’t regret it…now I’ll go back to pondering, and hopefully write my review.

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Summer Reading

July4

It’s the time of year when newspapers and magazines publish their “summer reading lists”. On Sunday, Guardian Unlimited published their list of summer reading recommended by booksellers and writers. Jessa Crispin posted her scathing look at the new summer releases at The Book Standard.

So I decided I should post my top picks of books I want to read over the next two months. For some reason, summer to me always means reading mystery novels, so my top picks are mostly in this genre.

1. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde – Just released this past weekend, I can’t wait for my copy to arrive! I’ve ordered a hardcover copy because this is going into my permanent collection. It may take a bit longer to arrive…

2. Aftermath by Peter Robinson – Somehow I ended up a book behind in this series so I need to read this before Piece of My Heart, the newest Inspector Banks mystery.

3. Season of Iron: a Dr. Rebecca Temple mystery by Sylvia Maultash Warsh – The Castle Street Mysteries imprint of Dundurn Group releases high quality mysteries. I have not read any in the Dr. Rebecca Temple series so I’m eager to try this most recent release.

4. Before the Frost: a Kurt and Linda Wallander Novel by Henning Mankell – The first Kurt and Linda Wallander novel. I haven’t read any of this great Swedish series but it comes highly recommended.

5. Jass: A Valentin St. Cyr Mystery by David Fulmer – This has been sitting on my to be read pile for a while. I loved the first Valentine St. Cyr mystery (Chasing the Devil’s Tail: A Mystery of Storyville, New Orleans), racing through it in record time so I know I’ll enjoy this one.

What do you do when you dislike a book

June21

What do you do when you dislike a book? Usually a reader just stops after a certain number of pages. But what if you’re a reviewer? I had a situation this week where I was trying to read a book (for review) and I COULD NOT READ IT. In my opinion it was “a bad book” – needing editing and contained unneccesarily extreme violence that crossed my personal line into the offensive.

Luckily the review site was understanding and released me from having to write a review that would have stated just how much I really disliked this book and why.

So here are my questions for the readers of my blog – should I post a negative review here when nothing is being posted to the review site? Is it my responsibility as a reviewer to warn people when I find something I feel readers should be warned about so they can make their own decisions? I couldn’t get to the 50 pages I normally give a book to “hook me” so perhaps it got better. If I was the type to “burn books”, this one would have gone into the bonfire – hence the image accompanying this post.

What do you guys think?

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In Celebration of the Summer Solstice

June21

In celebration of the summer solstice today, and to honour the start of the summer reading season, Slate has published a photo essay of people reading (thanks Bookslut).

Image information: MUNICH, Germany—Enjoying the sunshine at the Glyptothek, 1950. © Herbert List / Magnum Photos

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What makes a good book blog?

June16

If you haven’t already read this post at Tales from the Reading Room, it’s a must read. I particularly like this quote:

So, I know what I like when I see it, but what makes a good book blog? I think for me, it’s a combination of information and lived experience, a mixture of useful, pragmatic knowledge and level-headed analysis, and ultimately I suppose, that elusive quality of voice that injects words with the full measure of their vitality. And I’m very happy to have found such a treasure trove of it.

She includes links to a number of fantastic litblogs and raises some interesting questions.

This excellent description gives me much to strive for in my small part of the blogosphere, and adds much to the debate.

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My Perfect Vacation

June6

I just discovered the perfect vacation thanks to Marilyn Stasio at the New York Times Review of Books. Here’s what she had to say in a recent article on the summer’s line-up of new mystery novels.

I once gave a new college graduate what I thought was a great gift: a month’s stay at an inn on Cape Cod and a laundry basket stocked with beach towels, flip-flops, suntan lotion, sunglasses and mystery novels. The kid came back tanned and fit, but exhausted from cycling up and down the Cape in search of livelier scenes than the stodgy inn where I had stuck him. The books were returned unopened.

Thinking back on it, I’m still convinced that a stretch of time on a quiet beach with a stack of mysteries is the perfect gift. My only mistake was not giving it to myself. Making up for that now, I’ve rented a place on the Cape and am packing my own laundry basket of books.

I’m off to add a few of her recommendations to my wish list of summer reading: Shamus in the Green Room by Susan Kandel; Framed by Tonino Benacquista; and They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels by Jim Huang

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