The expression “May you live in interesting times” is believed to be an ancient Chinese curse. Centuries ago it was adopted by Russians and altered to become “God spare us from living in era of changes”. Doomed to eternal punishment by the history of their own country, Russians hope for a life in peace.
For generations, Russian writers have examined the lives drained by the love and hate relationship with their country. To name just a few: Leo Tolstoy with his War and Peace, Boris Pasternak with Doctor Zhivago, Michail Bulgakov with The White Guard, Vasily Grossman with Life and Fate, Varlam Shalamov with The Kolyma Tales, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and now Ludmila Ulitskaya with The Big Green Tent.
“The Big Green Tent” is a tremendous collection of human stories. Whereas each of these stories would be precious and stimulating food for thought by itself, Ulitskaya weaves a sophisticated lace of twisted relationships and random encounters, creating a refined saga, which affects the reader on a deeply emotional level. The focus of the novel is on three school friends. Being very different in the way they were born and bred, they have a strange connection. A peculiarly broad-minded and devoted teacher challenges their perception of Russian history and literature by reading poetry, by discovering the city’s hidden past and by asking contentious questions. Reaching adulthood, they follow their own paths, struggling to stay away from the deception and denunciation in society. The reader meets a vivid cast of characters, discovers the dissident movement and explores the dangers of “samizdat” – illegal reproducing and distributing of banned publications. Again and again he is being asked those eternal moral questions, Russian literature is preeminent in. And yet again we have to balance between ego and soul, free will and fate, honor and betrayal. “The Big Green Tent” is a rich insightful research of human behaviour in yet another of the“interesting times” in Russian history – the KGB era.
The thoughtful reader will appreciate the powerful storyline, splendid language and clever observations of one of the most prominent contemporary Russian writers—Ludmila Ulitskaya.
The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya is available November 10, 2015.
Get excited! The Fall Fierce Reads Tour is stopping in Toronto, and it’s sure to be a fun-filled afternoon with four fabulously fierce authors.
Josephine Angelini, Leigh Bardugo, Emma Mills and Leila Sales will be at Indigo Yonge & Eglinton on Saturday, October 17th at 3:00 PM. These four ladies will chat about their books, share stories and answer audience questions before signing their upcoming novels. And if you thought this event couldn’t get any better, I’m happy to tell you that Ariel Bissett—founder of BookTubeAThon and an overall fantastic YouTuber—will be hosting.
Unfortunately, I will be stuck here in Vancouver and will not be able to fangirl with the rest of you lucky Toronto dwellers, so if you are able to attend the event, we would love it if you could keep us in the loop by using the hashtag #FierceReadsTakesTO on social media. I will be living vicariously through you!
Just in case you are unfamiliar with these authors (FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY), you can click the links below to learn more about these wonderful books and their writers.
Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (Worldwalker, #2)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
First & Then by Emma Mills
Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales
If you can’t make it to Toronto for this event (I empathize completely…), make sure you stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook pages next week as the #FierceReadsTakesTO Blog Tour commences! 10 of our lovely bloggers will be posting reviews, as well as Q&As with these authors, starting on Monday. You won’t want to miss this!
Raincoast Books announced today that Peter MacDougall is being promoted to Vice President of Sales while Chelsea Newcombe becomes National Accounts Manager. Newcombe will report to MacDougall, as will Sandy Cooper, Director of Field Sales.
MacDougall will lead the sales team in developing new sales opportunities while continuing to work directly with key buyers. He will also work with Paddy Laidley, EVP of Sales & Marketing, to play a more active role with Raincoast’s publishers, working with them to identify areas of potential growth. Newcombe’s new role as National Accounts Manager recognizes her fine work with key accounts.
“In his ten years as National Accounts Manager, and then as Director of National Accounts, Pete has built excellent relationships both within Raincoast and outside the company and has consistently shown grace under fire during times of great change. These things will serve him well in his new position”, said Laidley. “These changes make a strong team that much stronger, positioning us to better take advantage of the growth opportunities that we continue to see in the industry, while serving our existing customers and clients well. We’re in it for the long haul.”
St. Martin's Press
Chevy Stevens is back with this year’s must-have summer thriller—a powerful, emotional story of survival and revenge (now a Globe and Mail bestseller!).
“This is Stevens’s best book to
date.”—The Globe and Mail
St. Martin’s Press
No summer reading list is complete without Jackie Collins. In The Santangelos, she delivers an epic family saga, filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.
Read an excerpt here.
Set in the Pacific Northwest and inspired by true events, Kelli Estes’s brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories.
and Francesca Serritella
St. Martin’s Press
This breezy, laugh-out-loud beach read by mother-daughter team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella “takes the…cake for best title of the summer.”—USA Today
St. Martin’s Press
Coming Aug 18
Stephanie Clifford's "superb" debut
is “a 21st century version of a grand 19th century novel—smart, moving tale of class, ambition, and identity" (Malcolm Gladwell).
Look for it on the People, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping summer reading lists.
Coming Aug 25
Celebrate 10 years of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series with her newest installment, The Nature of the Beast.
“Splendid . . . Penny's books mix some classic elements of the police
procedural with a deep-delving
psychology, as well as a sorrowful
sense of the precarious nature of
human goodness, and the
persistence of its opposite.”—The
New York Times on The Long Way
Drawn & Quarterly
Ages 14 and up
“Art School Confidential meets X-Men” (The Globe and Mail) in Jillian Tamaki’s newest graphic novel—one of TPL’s top 10 "Summer Reads for Teens".
Mary E. Pearson
Henry Holt and Co.
The 2nd title in the New York Times bestselling Remnant Chronicles does not disappoint: "It's rare that the second book in a series is as good—or perhaps better—than the first, but that's the case here. Anticipation for the next volume will start as soon as this one is put down."—Booklist starred review
Ali Novak (My Life with the Walter Boys) delievers “a fun summer romance that doesn’t shy away from the deeper issues of family, illness, and self-discovery” (School Library Journal).
Coming Aug 4
Don't miss the latest gripping, high-stakes thriller from Wattpad sensation Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar.
John Wang and Holman Wang
Jedi apprentices, little princesses, and Star Wars fans of any age will delight in this (heart)felt retelling of the Star Wars saga (a Today’s Parent summer reading pick).
Feiwel and Friends
If your vacation isn’t going entirely swimmingly, Duck’s Vacation will give you a laugh. This fun, interactive read will entice kids (and young-at-heart adults) to turn the pages over and over.
illustrated by Ben Mantle
Coming Aug 4
While we hope your holiday is shark-free, trouble comes in all shapes and sizes in this picture book about a first pet.
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
This action-packed mystery is the perfect page-turner for middle-grade bookworms.
"Full of heart and replete with
challenging ciphers for readers to
decode, Bertman's debut is literary
cousin to classic puzzlers likeThe
Westing Game, and a story that
values books and reading above
other pursuits . . . sure to be popular
with voracious readers."—Publishers
Weekly, starred review
Original blog post can be found here
Steve McDonald is an artist and lifelong traveler who has lived in cities and countries all over the world. His large-format, photo-based, detailed drawings of cities are collected in the new adult coloring book Fantastic Cities, coming this August.
I’ve always loved drawing buildings. When I was young, I even had aspirations of becoming an architect, but ended up as an illustrator instead. When creating a piece of art, the most appealing part for me has always been the line work. Even when I’m working on a painting, the part I enjoy most is always the initial drawing. I really love lines, and I think that shows in the finished work.
I have my daughters to thank for how Fantastic Cities came together as a coloring book. After creating artwork focusing on individual and small groups of buildings, I started to veer toward larger groups and then aerial views of cities. My daughters saw this work and told me that they thought it would be fun to color in the lines themselves (whereas I might normally keep going past the line-work stage to color it myself).
I realized that it might be a perfect vehicle to share my work more widely, with people who might not otherwise see my paintings, for instance. I also really like that people everywhere could become a part of the creative process. That’s very exciting and fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing how people might choose to color the images in.
In my city drawings I always try to accentuate the characteristics that make a city unique. For example, the organized chaos of a favela in Brazil, the towering majesty of a skyscraper in New York, or the historic façades of Parisian row houses. I try to capture something that illustrates something unique about that place.
I love to draw on-site with pencils or ink and I always try to take a lot of photographs. (For sites I haven’t visited, I’ve been fortunate to work from the material of many noted photographers.) I take these back with me to my studio, and it’s there that I really create the compositions using a range of analog and digital means, including ink on paper, stylus work on a tablet, and wall projection. The size of the original work really depends on the composition and detail of the image. Sometimes they are quite large. 24 inches square is the smallest I work while sometimes they are as big as 6 feet square ! Even if I’m drawing with the tablet I like to do the drawings bigger than I need to. This allows me to really get into some of the detail required on some of them.
I know that lots of people find coloring to be meditative and relaxing. What do I do when I want to unwind? I draw! I also love nature and travelling. By that, I mean living in nature and travelling to cities. I’ve been a lifelong traveler ever since my family moved to the Middle East in 1979. I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia, Italy, India and Indonesia, visited dozens of countries, and spent the better part of twenty years travelling and painting my native Canada coast to coast by bus, car, helicopter, canoe, by ship and on foot. My wife and kids and I just spent two years in Bali, where my daughter and I learned how to surf, and we really enjoy it.
Among my favorite illustrations for the book are the Rocinha Favela in Rio (there’s an organized craziness to it that is immensely appealing to me), the Amsterdam street corner, because I love drawing that city, and the super-dense San Francisco drawing from above, which was kind of nuts and definitely the biggest challenge in the book. I can’t wait to see how they get colored in.
Can’t wait until August to start coloring? Download and print a page from Fantastic Cities.
Canada Day Must-Haves
What better way to celebrate Canada's birthday than with some homegrown books? Check out this list of some of our faves, eh!
For the historian: War Plan Red
For the creative kid: Canada Doodles
For the BBQ-loving foodie: Grilling with House of Q
For the lit lover: Anne of Green Gables
For the softie: Winnie
It's not too late!
Here's some great titles we think would be a great fit for your dad, or husband, or some great guy you know with children! All available at your local bookshop. List is a bit long but hey, what can we say? We have lots of books to offer!
Brad Richardson of the Littlest Bookshelf reviews Book Scavenger and finds himself mentally racing through the streets of ‘Frisco, caught up in a wild mysterious adventure involving hidden books, treasure hunting and life-altering friendships.
Book Scavenger, written by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, is a contemporary mystery reminiscent of the Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown adventures. Much like those classic stories, Book Scavenger focuses on the adventures of an independent young protagonist as they race to uncover a dastardly plot. It’s up to the young sleuth to crack the case with the help of their friends. Filled with puzzles, the story engages the reader with clues that deepen the mystery and heighten the danger. Twelve-year-old Emily is tired of moving around the county to fulfill her parents’ nomadic lifestyle. Because of their goal to live in all fifty states she never makes any real friends. Instead, Emily spends her time hunting and hiding books as part of the Book Scavenger game, a community created by the enigmatic Garrison Griswold. Before long, Emily and her new friend James find themselves in a world of ciphers, clues and treasure hunting as they race to finish the latest game by Griswold.
Published by Henry Holt and Company, Book Scavenger is an amazing story for book lovers and cipher crackers of all ages. From Edgar Allan Poe to Robert Louis Stevenson, the number of literary references in the story is both staggering and wonderful. Bertman does an excellent job of blending well-known works of literature with codes and ciphers to bring the mystery in the novel to life. She creates a world that, while fantastical, mirrors our own. The majority of the landmarks that Emily visits in San Francisco (‘Frisco) are real, as is the animosity that existed between Rufus Griswold and Edgar Allan Poe. Bertman captures her readers’ imagination by keeping the story grounded.
The characters in Book Scavenger are well-developed and fully realized. They react according to their established personalities and grow throughout the adventure. This growth begins with Emily but also happens in her parents and brother. Even supporting characters like James’ grandmother feel real because of the small details that Bertman includes. Most importantly, the characters aren’t perfect. There are moments where Emily behaves like a twelve-year-old girl. She has moments of selfishness and ignorance because of her age. Her brother, parents, and teacher all have flaws and feel more real because of them. However, Emily and James’ determination and cleverness steals the story as they race from one clue to the next. Emily and James don’t always get along but their friendship feels real and earned. The antagonists are under-developed when compared to the protagonists but in a way that is reminiscent of the villains in classic children’s mystery stories such as Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. The only real foil to the protagonist is their ability to solve the mystery.
Bertman explores a few different themes in her novel, such as; the importance of friendship and family, the impact of community, and the endless pursuit of an individual’s passion. Each of these themes play an important part in Emily’s adventure as she discovers the difference a friend can make in the pursuit of knowledge. I also love how Emily, unable to connect with a traditional community, finds happiness in an online community. It’s an important message, especially considering how small the world has become.
While I read this story I felt like I was in the streets of ‘Frisco. The city came to life as I raced down alleys and explored bookstores to reach the next clue. And that’s the best compliment I can give to an author establishing a story’s setting. For Bertman to so completely recreate the city without any visual aids is an impressive feat. I’ve never visited ‘Frisco but after reading Book Scavenger I think I could successfully navigate its steep hills expertly. The city feels like another character because of how it’s history influences the direction of Griswold’s game.
A well-written mystery should make me want to read it again. Now that I’ve followed the protagonist through their adventure and understand the whodunit and what the clues mean, I should want to start at the beginning with this special knowledge. Book Scavenger succeeds in this goal. I read this book twice, the first time in one sitting. This story reminds me of the classic children’s mysteries series I used to read when I was younger. Only with more inspired literary references.
I loved this book. The characters were well-realized and flawed. The setting immersed me in the adventure and instantly made me feel at home. The entire idea behind Book Scavenger as a game is wonderful (check out the book’s brilliant marketing website here). The illustrations have a hand-drawn charm to them that fits in with Bertman’s narrative style. This is a mystery that deserves to be explored by children of all ages. Don’t miss your chance to begin your adventure on June 2.
Happy Spring! What a perfect time to start up the ol'bbq!
We have so many great grilling books this season! So here are a few to help get your creative juices flowing.
In his latest lip-smackin' cookbook, Dr. BBQ shows how to dress up meat, vegetables, and fruits with 120 brand-new recipes for tantalizing marinades, mouthwatering injections, savory brines, flavorful rubs, delectable glazes, and full recipes for what to make with them.
A taste of the good life! This bite-size collection showcases 20 special recipes, all with photographs, that will inspire food lovers to take the party outside. Selected from some of Chronicle Books' best-loved cookbooks, here are easy-peasy drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic), quick appetizers, simple salads and sides, and great-for-the-grill main dishes.
BBQ Brian Misko shares the secrets of successful grilling in this collection of his best recipes from the backyard and the competition BBQ circuit. Here's a recipe below for you to try out. Enjoy!!
We're also doing a BBQ giveaway! Please head on over to our Facebook page and let us know what you like to BBQ for a chance to not only win a set of all of these books (incl. a signed copy of Grilling With House of Q), but also some yummy sauces and a some house rub courtesy of House of Q as well! Happy grilling!! ~ Dani
Raincoast Books announced today that it will take over Canadian distribution of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing titles, effective January 1, 2016. Raincoast will handle sales, marketing and logistics for HMH trade titles to all Canadian customers.
Paddy Laidley, Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Raincoast said:
“HMH's industry reputation is renowned and its titles and authors recognized for their quality and appeal. We've been impressed by their offerings for many years, but also by the caliber of their people and the alignment of our shared values. Raincoast is delighted that our teams will now be working together to grow the HMH business in Canada.”
Laurie Brown, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at HMH said: “We are excited by the potential to reach even more readers in partnering with Raincoast. We have been especially admiring of Raincoast's marketing outreach to the children's and young readers' markets and believe HMH and Raincoast will be a perfect fit.”
HMH’s Canadian customers will experience no immediate changes. Through to the end of 2015, customers can continue to order books from the current distributor — Thomas Allen. Instructions regarding transition details, including returns and ISBN prefixes, will be communicated to customers later this year, prior to the transition date of Jan 1, 2016.