This wonderful looking bookstores gives me yet another reason to put a visit to Toronto, Canada on my bucket list!
Harry Potter-Themed Store Opens in Toronto
Curiosa: Purveyors of Extraordinary Things
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz33873450, "a Harry Potter-inspired
store that's supposed to make you feel like you've landed in Diagon
Alley," has opened in Toronto
blogTO reported. In addition to Potter-related merchandise, the shop
sells games, books, toys and home goods that are unrelated to the boy
"We've tried to create a really immersive retail experience," said
Stephen Sauer, co-owner of the business with his wife Heather, who also
owns the Paper Place. "We wanted to create a space that was really fun
and magical and you really had to be there in person.... We really just
wanted to bring a bit of magic into people's lives."
Curiosa is also "only about a 15 minute walk from Toronto's Harry
Potter-themed bar, the Lockhart http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz33873452,"
The Inventor's Secret, The Conjurer's Riddle and The Turncoat's Gambit by Andrea Cremer are a YA steampunk fantasy series that should be the top choice of book lovers of any age seeking a ripping good read. Once begun, I literally could not put the first book, Inventor's Secret, down. Lacy and lovely prose flowed like the best Earl Grey tea down a swift sluice of a plot that kept me guessing right to the last page. Though she seems terribly naive for a 17 year old woman of that era, I still fell in love with Charlotte, the intrepid protagonist in these tales. Jack, the rogue she loves, comes off as more than a bit of a jerk at times, but their romance takes its time, and by the end, we know that all will be well with these two, and with Jack's half sister Linnet and her handsome pirate boyfriend. Here's the blurbs:
New from Andrea Cremer, the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade novels, comes an action-packed alternate-history steampunk adventure.In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.
The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners, Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engines.
The Conjurer's Riddle :
The Revolution is beginning–and Charlotte may be on the wrong side.In this sequel to The Inventor's Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven't left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril.
Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.
This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?
The Turncoat's Gambit:
From the bestselling author of Nightshade, this is the action-packed final chapter of The Inventor's Secret trilogyCharlotte has spent her whole life fighting the British Empire, following in the footsteps of her parents and their group of rebels. But when her reunion with her mother laid bare horrible truths about the rebellion, Charlotte knew she had to escape. Now she is on the run, with no idea who the enemy is--or which of her compatriots is truly on her side.
In this action-packed conclusion to the Inventor's Secret trilogy, full of swashbuckling pirates and young ladies who can hold their own against them, Charlotte will need to fight for her life and for her beliefs -- whatever they might be.
Grave, the clockwork boy who causes both sides to go crazy trying to find out the secret to his super strong immortal body, so they can use him as a weapon and make more soldiers based on his design, is something of a mcguffin here, as while he's protective of Charlotte, he allows himself to be captured and vivisected to keep her safe, when in reality she has to keep him safe from both sides and rescue him at the end and allow him to make his own choices about his future. The only other character who seemed a bit out of place to me was Charlotte's mother, who allows her husband to be locked up in a horrible prison called The Crucible, dying of Tuberculosis, and doesn't bother to try and rescue him. That made her seem like a cruel and cold person, but once Charlotte rescues him, suddenly all is forgiven and he's going to be fine. That was just a bit too pat for me. But other than those minor qualms, I loved this series, which had wonderful characters like Pip and Scoff and Birch, all young inventors and makers with strong senses of adventure and whose loyalty and courage were evident in every chapter. I'd give this series an A, and recommend it to anyone who liked Lilith Saintcrow's Bannon and Clare, or Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, or Devon Monk's House Immortal series, or Maria V Snyder's Poison Study series.
Wasteland King by Lilith Saintcrow is the third book in her "Gallow and Ragged" series of urban fantasies that are gritty and almost too horror focused for my tastes.Still, I found Robin Ragged to be a compelling character, though why both Gallow and Alstair are so madly in love with her remains a mystery. Here's the blurb:
The thrilling conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow's dark fantasy series where the faery world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.The plague has broken loose, the Wild Hunt is riding, and the balance of power in the sidhe realms is still shifting. The Unseelie King has a grudge against Jeremiah Gallow, but it will have to wait. For he needs Gallow's services for a very delicate mission -- and the prize for success is survival itself.
In order to save both Robin Ragged and himself, Gallow will have to do the unspeakable...Publisher's Weekly: aintcrow brings her Gallow and Ragged trilogy to a close with a lovingly written but choppy conclusion. The Summer Queen and the lord of the Unseelie, Unwinter, seem determined to go to war, and signs of the sidhe plague are still evident. Jeremiah Gallow, Summer's former armormaster, and Robin Ragged, along with her hound, Pepperbuckle, are caught in the middle, and they've been tasked by Unwinter with two separate, but very difficult missions. The Sluagh, an army of the undead, has been unleashed, and Gallow and his unlikely allies will need every tool at their disposal to survive. Saintcrow's gift for lyrical writing is on full display and her highly stylized prose is frequently stunning, probing the dark, damp corners of California's urban landscapes, often finding beauty where, at first glance, there seems to be only squalor. Unfortunately, the narrative reads more like a series of vignettes than a fully cohesive whole, but fans will likely be satisfied with a poignant ending that has its eye firmly on the light at the end of the tunnel, placing hope within reach of even the most desperate and downtrodden.
I agree with Publisher's Weekly that these three books are written more as a series of vignettes or scenes from a play than a novel, and the prose is antiquated and formal in an almost Shakespearian fashion. While that seems appropriate for the Fae, the switch back and forth between regular English and old English can give readers whiplash. And, as I've said before, the focus on the pain, abuse, squalor and death of the downtrodden, poor and unsavory criminal elements of California made me feel as if I were reading horror fiction, which I'm not a fan of. The way that Saintcrow made these scenes of mortals at their worst relevant to the story was to show how their encounters with the Fae changed the mortal's fate for better or worse, depending on how the mortal treated the Fae that they encountered. So when a truck driver gives one of the Fae (or half fae) a ride, he wins the lottery and is able to settle into retirement with a lovely young waitress. Those who do not treat the half Fae or Fae with deference and respect end up dead, or lost and forgotten,'never to be seen or heard from again.' Having read my share of fairy tales and legends, seeing the Fae portrayed as cruel and capricious wasn't so much surprising as it was intriguing. Their survival dependent on grubby humans living in substandard conditions was reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys, where old gods are having to slum it just to survive. And though I can't say I appreciated all the urban blight and ugliness that Saintcrow brought to bear in these novels, I admire her ability to wield language like a weapon and create compelling characters in the midst of chaos. A well deserved A, with a recommendation to those who like the more subtle horrors of Gaiman and his graphic novels mixed with Fae magic and excellent storytelling.