Keep your treasured books safe!

Hi everyone! I hope wherever you are, you are seeing signs of spring. We had a bitterly cold weekend, but I hope that was the last of the winter’s rage. Speaking of winter, and the cold, I thought now would be a good time to remind you that while books can last a very long time, they need to be cared for properly in order to do so.

Important-to-remember rule #1: Moisture and books do NOT go well together.
Try to keep you bookshelves on interior walls, and out of damp places like attics and basements. Mold loves paper, and it doesn’t need much help to start growing. As well as avoiding the damp, make sure you don’t jam books on your shelves if you’re running out of space (like I always seem to be). Proper ventilation around and through bookshelves will help keep your books from getting moldy or musty.
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image retrieved from Redwood Environmental Services

 Important-to-remember rule #2: Light damage is cumulative and irreversible.
Have you noticed that posters or fabric that regularly get a lot of sun fade or discolor? Even things that might not get direct sun will fade over time, and books are just as susceptible to light damage as anything else. That’s why if you go to see a museum exhibit that features books, the lighting is very dim. And if you go more than once, the book(s) on display will likely not be turned to the same pages, because the curator wants to limit the amount of light that the pages get exposed to. Light not only causes fading and discoloration, but it speeds the chemical breakdown of books as well, leading to brittle pages that crack and break more easily. Try to keep your books away from light, and especially out of direct sunlight.
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image retrieved from NEDCC

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, as those are the two biggies in terms of damage, and also the two causes of damage that are easiest to prevent. For those of us who don’t live in a museum, and who don’t have all the latest tech at our fingertips to control humidity and light, keeping your books out of the damp and out of the sun is a good start!

Penguin Random House tour!

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This week brought the privilege of touring Penguin Random House Canada’s gorgeous new facilities in downtown Toronto, sponsored by the Ontario Library Association’s 2017 Super Conference (#OLASC). As soon as we walked through the front doors, the wonderful smell of new books greeted us, and set the tone for the tour.

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Reception area at Penguin Random House Canada

When Penguin merged with Random House in 2013, it just so happened that the leases on their separate business offices were coming due shortly thereafter. Because of this fortuitous coincidence, a brand new location was renovated to house the new, combined company. We had a lovely tour guide from the architectural firm that built the new office, and she was wonderfully informative, showing us all the innovative designs that were used to build the open-concept space that truly fosters creativity and collaboration.

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We were invited to view individual work stations, as well as meeting rooms and casual spaces designed to promote spontaneous interactions and conversations. The end of the tour brought us to the brand new retail store that opened over the summer (@PenguinShopTO). Even though it is only 158 square feet, this little shop holds a great many treasures for book lovers including paperback and hardcover books, mugs, bags, water bottles, and more!

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Full disclosure though, the tour would have been even better if we had learned about what Penguin Random House actually does as a publisher. The tour was focused on the space where all the magic happens, but not on the magic itself. All in all, however, it was still a great way to spend an hour, and I think everyone on the tour would agree that it was interesting, informative and a lot of fun!

 

Moomins!

To all of you who are acquainted with some of the world’s most delightful creatures, the Moomins, I ask that you bear with me as I gush about them. I just discovered the Mooomins by accident a couple of months ago and Comet In Moominland arrived at my house yesterday, so in keeping with my blog’s initial theme of writing about quirky, slightly unusual books, I had to do a post on the Moomins. Not that Moomin books don’t abound or already have a huge following, which they do, but they aren’t quite run-of-the-mill in North America. Yet.

I’m one of those people who reads series in the order the books were published, if it’s at all possible. So naturally, I began with the completely adorable first installment, The Moomins and the Great Flood.
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Illustrated in just pen and ink, these little creatures who don’t like the cold and traditionally live behind stoves (not happy when central air started becoming more and more common) are so endearing I couldn’t put the book down. The books are written and illustrated by Tove Jansson, and the stories were published between 1945 and 1970. There are also comics and picture books, as well as all kinds of fun paraphernalia including calendars, mugs, sweatshirts, a theme park and more!

Moomins are technically children’s books, but Comet in Moominland is over 150 pages (I’m assuming the other books are equally long), so really they are more like Pixar movies. That is, they are officially billed as children’s entertainment, but people of all ages enjoy them. And it’s the same with the Moomin books.
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I mean.. those tails! How adorable are these little guys?!

While so far these are the only two Moomin installments in my collection, I look forward to getting acquainted with the rest of the books and characters. And if you haven’t yet made a trip to Moomin Valley, I hope you do! It will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.

Men and Books

A little while ago, my husband went on a trip and asked if I had anything to read that he could take with him. At first, I was worried I didn’t have any books that a man would enjoy reading! After all, my collection is full of 1930s murder mysteries, classics, historical murder mysteries set in various regions, books about books, historical fiction… I do have some interesting true crime books, but I wanted to recommend something gripping. Something that someone who reads magazines and lots of information online would still enjoy, despite it coming in the form of a book.

1. After a fresh look at my bookshelves with these criteria in mind, my eyes fell on
Headhunters by Jo Nesbo and I knew he’d enjoy it. Sure enough, he couldn’t put it down.
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Headhunters is an extremely fast-paced, incredible story of a man-hunt, fraud, and murder. I would also recommend Nemesis to those who don’t read many books. While other installments in Nesbo’s detective Harry Hole series can be quite dark, Nemesis isn’t quite as graphic or disturbing as some of the others, and it’s a thriller with a shocking twist I never saw coming.

2. Who doesn’t like James Bond?! Nobody. Or at least, lots of people like the movies. And you may or may not know that the movies are based on books. So if you know someone who loves the movies, they might enjoy reading the books as well. It’s always interesting to see how closely the movie adaptation adheres to the original work.
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3. Dan Brown’s books are always action-packed, and Deception Point is no exception. Unlike many of his other works, however, this one has nothing to do with art history. It takes place in the arctic and keeps you glued to the story from page one. This book is perfect for saying, “Just read the first 10 pages,” because I guarantee it will hook anyone long before they get to page 10.
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All of these books are written by men, and have male protagonists. If there’s a man in your life who doesn’t love reading quite as much as you do, these may help to bring him over to the dark side 😉

A bookish retrospective

Hello, and happy new year! I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you are also amazed by how quickly 2016 went by. It happens every year, so I don’t know why it is such a surprise each time, but…I can’t believe it!

Every year people write about all the books they’ve read, and I was always left wondering how I would fit in on the spectrum of volumes read per year. So in 2016 I kept a list, and I managed to get 26 books read this year! That number has made me especially skeptical of those who read over 100 books a year. Unless their job is to read and review books, of course. But for anyone with a full-time job to read over 100 books a year, I have to wonder.

2016 Reading Highlights

  • I discovered a new series this year: A Victorian Bookshop Mystery series by Kate Parker. They are obviously fluffy reads, but I love that they are set in Victorian England; the protagonist is the proprietor of a bookstore; there’s a cat, murder, intrigue and romance. What’s not to love?! A wonderfully entertaining escape from reality.

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  • The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. I enjoyed this novel about a descendant of the Brontë family, and I was especially impressed by the author’s insightful comments about the Brontë girls and how events in the lives of the other sisters seem to have ended up in Charlotte’s best-selling work, Jane Eyre.

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  • As some of my posts this year indicated, I re-read some books that I haven’t looked at in years. Re-reading books is always enjoyable, because it’s like visiting with old friends. I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which is one of my all-time favourites, and I think I will try to tackle The Moonstone this year, which I haven’t cracked open in close to 20 years.
  • I renewed my acquaintance with Agatha Christie. I read lots of her books in high school, but hadn’t picked one up in years! So after following @agathachristie on Twitter and reading about The Bibulous Bibliobiuli‘s challenge to read all of Christie’s works last year, I thought I would re-visit those classics, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I try to pay equal attention to M. Poirot and Miss Marple.

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Who knows what this new year will hold? If I could make a wish, it would be for the space to build some shelves that can hold all the books in my home. Aside from that, I can’t wait to read more M. L. Longworth books, find out what happens in the newest Birder Murder installation (being released in May), and meet more new books, as well as re-visit some old familiar ones. Oh, and let’s not forget the next illustrated Harry Potter book, due out in October!

On that note, I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year! All the very best in 2017 – may your tea always be hot and your bookshelves always full.  🙂

Classics Re-visited

Earlier this year I mentioned that I planned to re-read some of the classics I’ve read years ago, and I did! I read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and The Hobbit. I’m hoping to add The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to my list by the end of this year.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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This is one of my favourite books. I first read it in high school, and it has remained a favourite for all these years. I even named my cat Percy after the hero 🙂 It takes place at the time of the French Revolution, during Robespierre’s reign of terror. In a gripping tale of suspense, espionage, mistaken identity and love, we meet the daring British men who smuggle French aristocrats out of their homeland to safety, at great risk to their own lives.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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This is also a favourite of mine, if only because it was so surprising. Written in 1859, the story is incredibly creepy and chilling, and when I first read it (also years ago), I had no idea that semi-early Victorian writers could produce works that would keep modern readers glued to the page. Collins is often cited as the creator of the detective novel, by whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It begins by drawing us in right away, and continues as we meet the man whom our heroine is engaged to marry, and who is not at all what he appears to be. There is greed, more mistaken identity, murderous cunning and a brilliant plot that brings a very satisfying conclusion.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
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Many people are familiar with The Lord of the Rings and middle earth. My father read this book to me when I was about 10, and the only thing I could remember of it was the description of Gollum. I realized it was high time I re-visited this classic and read it over the summer. It was fun to watch the movies afterwards (I always enjoy comparing books to their movie versions), and I’m glad I read this book again. What an epic tale! And while I rarely delve into the fantasy genre, it was highly entertaining to read of the dwarves’ quest for their stolen treasure, and to meet all the different creatures they encounter on their journey.

If you’re looking for something to read and have not enjoyed these classic tales before, or if you have read them but it’s been a while, I recommend all three and hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Books for Babies

Hi everyone! Is there anyone else out there who can’t believe we are well into September? The summer flew by faster than ever this year.

The other day I received an invitation to a baby shower, and in the invitation was card that asked the guests to bring a book instead of a traditional baby shower gift. I had seen a post on Twitter a week or two before I got the invitation, showing a baby shower invitation with the same request, so I guess this has become a thing. And I am not complaining! On the contrary, there are few things in life that I enjoy more than choosing books for others, especially children’s books. Here are some books I pooled for my options, even though I knew I would have to narrow it down:

Beatrix Potter stories
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The Berenstain Bears
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Curious George
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Goodnight Moon
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Paddington Bear
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Corduroy
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There are many, many other options, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Snowy Day, and of course, Dr Seuss. Also, a lot of these books are not only available in paperback, but also in hard cover for a more formal gift, or as board books, more appropriate for babies.

In the end, my husband chose Curious George, as they  were favorites from his childhood, and my selection was Goodnight Moon, because those bright colors will catch the eye of a little one, and every new parent needs a helping hand when getting their baby to sleep!

If you want to give books for a special occasion (or even for no reason at all), and are in need of suggestions, I’d love to help you out! Just reply to this post and I’ll do my best to provide some appropriate titles.

You gotta read this!

Hi everyone! I am so sorry I have been such an infrequent blogger this year. Interesting, original blog posts have been hard to come up with, and life has been so busy that I haven’t had many opportunities to read. But I hope I will be able to create more posts as we move into the second half of 2016.

This year, my goals is to re-read some of my favourite books, as well as to read some of the classics that I still haven’t read yet. Future posts will bring you up to date on my progress in those areas, but this post is about some new, interesting, and entertaining books I’ve read lately that I highly recommend.

  • The Case of the Secretive Sister by Nilanjan P. Choudhury

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I first heard of this absolutely delightful book from another blogger, The Bibulous Bibliobiuli. His review here is definitely worth reading to get more of a sense of this witty, engaging read. It’s published in India, and I have not read much contemporary Indian fiction, but this was a quick read that was fun from cover to cover. Perfect summer reading, or just to get away from everything for a while, I know you’ll be glad you read it.

  • Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

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This is the second book I’ve read by Amy Stewart, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. Girl Waits With Gun takes place in pre-WWI America, and is based on true events. The author brings the past vividly to life in this story about a thug and his gang of hoodlums who hit a horse-drawn buggy while they are driving in their car. The three Kopp sisters were in the buggy at the time of the accident, and the story unfolds as they try to get the driver to pay up for the damages. A very satisfying story with a dose of history as well!

  • The Great Pearl Heist by Molly Caldwell Crosby

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The Great Pearl Heist falls into the true crime category. It’s a well-researched tale of the amazing theft of the world’s most expensive necklace. It happened in London in 1913, and as well as full details on the theft itself, we also learn a lot about policing and the art of detection at that time. For a synopsis, click here – but I have to warn you, if you don’t already, you will want to read the book after you learn more about it!

Book Art: Malena Valcarcel

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a post on Book Art (almost exactly a year, oh my!), but I realized that although I have admired the gorgeous creations of this artist for some time, I somehow failed to do a post about them.

Malena Valcarcel is a book artist from Spain, and has a wonderful shop on Etsy. For the exceptional quality of work, her items are very reasonably priced. She even makes jewelry! Click on the pictures to go to the items on Malena’s website.

This is one of my favorites:
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And look at this one. Amazing!
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Malena’s work is incredible and ships anywhere in the world. I hope you have enjoyed looking at these treasures, and I also hope you head over to Etsy and treat yourself to some bookish art! 😉

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Interview with Words and Peace blog

Hello, Readers! A fellow blogger and I wanted to get to know each other a bit better, and also wanted to do a little advertising, so we’ve decided to co-publish an interview we did with each other on our blogs.

Emma from Words and Peace is posting my answers to these questions on her blog, and I hope you will enjoy her responses below, and also stop by her blog and get to know her!

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  1. What made you want to start a blog?

First of all, I would like to thank you Jess for interviewing me. The idea was born during BBAW, I’m glad we finally took the time to do this. Your followers who are interested in your answers can come and read them on my own book blog.

I launched Words And Peace in September 2010.
I have always loved reading and talking about books, to anyone ready to listen.
One day, I discovered evolution had produced a rare species, book bloggens. I was overjoyed to discover other members were not far from me, just a few computer keys away, and that I could communicate with them in a common language. So we started talking, and one day, I decided to join their lively community. I have not regretted it once.
So when I can’t talk books with people around me, I can always go and find other book bloggens members. Through them, I have discovered zillions of books I would never have heard about otherwise.

  1. What is it about books that is special to you?

I devour about 110 books every year, and I practice book polygamy, that is, I always read several books at the same time. I usually have one or more going on in print, one or more in a digital form, and always one in audio form. I am always in the process of reading a religious book, Lent or not, and I try to have another one pertaining to nonfiction as well.

So far, nothing that exceptional for a book blogger. Maybe more special is the fact that as soon as I have a minute when my hands are going to be busy and my brain free, I do not listen to music or podcasts, but to an audiobook: preparing dinner, doing the dishes, dusting, ironing, exercising or painting (I’m also an artist). Also during long road trips.

And I have decided not to have TV at home, so I basically have around 5 hours of leisure time every night to read. I usually do not read before 6pm, too busy with work (tutoring and translating novels), but after that, I can relax with a good book.

  1. What are some of the unexpected rewards that have come to you as a result of your blog?

When I started book blogging, as said above, I was just looking for a place to talk about books with others. In the process, I got familiar with all kinds of events related to book blogging, such as, among many other things, virtual book tours.
Visiting many other book bloggers and participating in blogging events made me become more aware of new releases and discover more closely the world of publishers. Little by little, I realized how many books published every month were set in France. So the idea gradually grew in me that there was a niche for me if I combined these two things.
That’s how book blogging led me to start my own virtual book tour company, in 2013, focused exclusively on books related to France.

For years, I’ve been aware of a heated debate among book bloggers, whether getting a book for free to review is pay enough, or whether you should get remunerated for talking time to read a book and write a review. There seems to be a brand new trend opening right now for book reviewers, where some companies are willing to pay to get some good quality honest reviews –we are not talking about “bribes” by sales platforms here. I have been recently accepted by one of these companies and another invitation is pending, so I have the feeling book blogging is going to morph for me and open onto other things down the line.

  1. Is blogging everything you thought it would be?

Book blogging has opened up wide horizons for me, much wider than I ever imagined, as far as connections with bloggers, authors, and publishers are concerned.

I had never thought either that it would push me to write public pieces on a regular basis in English, which is not my native language. It is quite exhilarating, even though I am aware of the persistent presence of syntax mistakes.
It has also offered to me the unexpected opportunity for more visibility regarding my translation jobs – I translate English novels into French, and I have the feeling this is also going to grow.
Besides, for whenever I have time, I also have a book project of my own. It will be the fruit of both my book blog and my virtual book tour site. I published an anthology a few years ago, so it would be really thrilling to put together a second book.
So book blogging has ended up being so much more than I thought it would be!

Thanks Jess, for your wonderful questions.

Emma at Words And Peace and France Book Tours

Words And Peace is also on FacebookTwitter, Google+Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube

And you can see here the novels I have translated so far

*** Thank you for this fun opportunity to spread the word about a fellow book-lover’s blog. All the best to you, Emma, and to those who stopped by to read our interview. ***