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When Emmet first put out the call for fellow bloggers to cover his gruelling book-a-day regime while he and his lovely bride, Stephanie, enjoy some much deserved time off renewing their vows, I thought: “Yippee, now I can review a grown-up fiction book!”

I thought to heck (as we Canadians rarely swear outright even in our thoughts) with my blog manifesto, for once I’ll review some great Canadian adult lit.  I worked myself up into a fervour thinking of all the wonderful works of fiction I could cover and how I could finally write about all the great things (sexual proclivities, adultery, drugs and the other perversities of humanity) that adult fiction has to offer (although I do review many a YA title that covers that stuff too!)

I started making a short list, I racked my brain and I eagerly fingered titles in the bookshops and library looking for just the right book.

What a rush!

Then my Canadian sensibilities and a little serendipity took over and I found the perfect children’s book to mark this occasion and thus, just like that my short-lived dreams of moving over to the adult sphere (however briefly) dissolved.

It was just that Better Together by Sheryl and Simon Shapiro and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (ISBN: 9781554512782, Annick Press, 2011) fit so perfect, it was a crying shame not to review it!

Written by the Shapiros, who have themselves been married for 34 years, this charming book of short poems celebrates the beauty when two (or more) substances come together to create something new and wonderful.

I know right? It was fate!

I love books with poems for young children. They love the bouncing, rhyming text and adult readers love the read-out-loud fun factor (anyone with a toddler knows that it’s essential to have books around that are enjoyable to read for the parents because you will be reading them…a lot!)

I love the notion of making chemistry entertaining and breaking down some of the wonderful creations in life into their components. Once wee readers get a handle on chocolate milk, cinnamon toast, music, mud, well the world is their oyster.

I also adore the ink drawings that accompany each short verse and illustrate the steps of these mixtures coming together in a fun way. Petričić has a knack for appealing to the child’s eye and mind. It’s no wonder as this award-winning illustrator of such children’s classics as Mattland and Rude Ramsay and the Rearing Radishes authored by the Canadian great, Margaret Atwood (sorry Emmet) began drawing at age four and has never stopped!

Sheryl and Simon Shapiro are also the perfect example of two very different elements can come together to create some beautiful things!

When they met over 35 years ago in South Africa they had very different interests, but over time, their interests changed again and branched into various arts and found lots of common ground. One of their own great creations, their son Stephen who was born and raised in Toronto (Ontario) is also a published children’s historical author.

Over the years, this couple has found many commonalities to enjoy (a must-have for a successful marriage I think) including writing humorous rhymes for special occasions. So when the opportunity came up to write a book together, this children’s book designer and computer programmer cum photographer, jumped at the chance.

They also agree that working separately could never have produced the amusing book proving once again sometimes we are just better together.

The Shapiros are now working on another rhyming picture book.

So Emmet and Stephanie, as you celebrate your first year together (really after the first it’s all gravy) and many, many more after that I look forward to all the magnificent mixtures/creations you two come up with (and no, I’m not talking about children – Canadians are too polite for such personal discussions) and wish you the best!

Oh and Emmet, I will leave the grown-up book reviews in your very capable and clever hands as I never tire of reading them!

SM from Word of Mouse Book Reviews.

A year ago today Stephanie and I were married in the small village of Oranmore outside of Galway city. It was a beautiful day, shared with family and friends (also the sun deigned to visit us as well).

Next Friday we will renew our vows so that relatives who were unable to attend our original wedding, what with being on the other side of the world and all, can join us in publically declaring our love for one another a second time.

Over the past few months I have made the acquaintance, and even developed some friendships, with a number of other bloggers. I had a nightmare vision of rushing home from my second wedding reception to publish that day’s review, so to avoid such an undignified event I sent out a request to some of the wonderful folk I have met through ‘A Book A Day…’

This is the email I sent -

I have a big favour to ask. See on April 15, almost one year after Stephanie and I were married, we have decided to hold a renewal ceremony so that our friends and family here in Australia can attend. Last time we did the deed in Galway and that’s quite a ways away from the placid surroundings of Bulli New South Wales.

Now weddings take time to arrange, much random things can occur, so I thought keeping to my usual schedule of a book a day would prove difficult. We never expected that it would take this long, which was one of the reasons we delayed having a ceremony like this until it became obvious we would be passing our first wedding anniversary.

What I propose is this. I am asking for each of you to write a review on a book of your choosing and forward it on to me before the end of the month. I do not expect you to stick to the same restrictions as myself, so no worries, this is not meant to be a speed-reading gamut. Also write as much as you want, totally up to you. I will schedule the reviews as a series of ‘guest reviewers’, on the site. If you have a blog of your own or a project you wish to promote, this could be a platform for you. In the introduction to each piece you could say a few words about yourself and describe what it is you produce.

Never fear, there is no pressure here with this request. I am going to be mailing a large number of fellow book lovers and bloggers, so if this proposal is not feasible for you I understand.

Just send me a mail to this address stating whether or not you’re interested. Either way, cheers for your support of the blog, it’s been great fun for me to write.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

The kindness and enthusiasm of the responses I received really touched my heart. My inbox is now full with reviews from all over the world, from Australia to Korea, Scotland across to my old stomping grounds in Dublin. I do not have words to express my gratitude.

Below I am listing the order of these ‘guest blogger’, reviews, which will be starting from tomorrow.

My thanks to everyone who is taking part – Stephanie and I are going to enjoy the rest.

Saturday 9 April – Jason Lim from Blurred Lights

Sunday 10 April – Stacey from Word of Mouse

Monday 11 April – Ryan from Geek of Oz

Tuesday 12 April – Colin from Too Busy Thinking About My Comics

Wednesday 13 April – Ruairi from Seven Towers Books

Thursday 14 April – Colin from It’s Bloggerin’ Time!

Friday 15 April – Oran Ryan

 

 

So there I was, minding my own business, when Lori from TNBBC’s The Next Best Book Blog threw me a cyberspace lifeline. Namely – this:

 

I really appreciate the gesture and am interested in how the Award allows recipients to promote other bloggers, that folk may not have had a chance to enjoy. So here are the rules for recipients. (And sorry Lori, I’m just going to copy and paste from your post here) -

  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Right so I think I have scratched the first item off the list – although if I haven’t made myself clear enough Lori, I really appreciate your support of the blog, many thanks – so seven things about yours truly.

  1. My party piece is singing ‘Springtime for Hitler’ from The Producers.
  2. I watched the entire first season of ’24′, in a single sitting. My brain was so traumatised by the experience, I was deluded into a feeling of excitement when Lou Diamond Philips appeared onscreen.
  3. I wore blue Converse shoes to my own wedding.
  4. My drink of choice is Bundaberg Ginger Beer.
  5. The perfect book is Hope Mirlees’ Lud-in-the-Mist.
  6. For my German oral exam I recited the ‘One Ring’, verse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Der Herr Der Ringe!
  7. Brussels is my favourite city, as it has everything I enjoy – good food, comics and beer.

Right so, and now a list of blogs I have discovered recently.

TNBBC  itself of course, which is an excellent site for promoting both bloggers and independent publishers.

It’s Bloggerin’ Time a fine account of all things comic-book-y.

Teatime Brutality a sadly defunct blog, or so it seems, that features some amazing and impassioned writing about fandom. His account of the meaning behind Grant Morrison’s sprawling Final Crisis series is reason enough to trawl through the archive.

Word of Mouse Book Reviews Blogging affords us not only the opportunity to write about what we enjoy, but to meet other writers with similar interests. Since I began writing for this site Stacey at ‘Word of Mouse’, has been a constant support, even organising a ‘cultural exchange’, of Canadian/Australian fiction. This is a great site for reviews of children’s fiction.

The Geek of Oz Another comic book site (what? I’m a nerd!) with a particular focus on Marvel Comics. I am eagerly awaiting the review of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s Australian gig.

Too Busy Thinking About My Comics A comic book review site that takes the time to really discuss the many aspects of this much derided medium. A real revelation and one of my favourite discoveries this year.

the Little Red Reviewer Is another blog I discovered through the comments function of this site. A fellow book blogger, though with better taste in reading material than myself.

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review Fantasy got me first addicted to reading and it’s a crutch I never fully gave up on. Graeme’s reviews remind me why.

Several Deadly CINEs Film discussion written with dry humour and passion.

Primate Typings Get ready for the monkey invasion….I meant ape, I MEANT APE!! (‘thunk’)

The Comely Banking Crisis If I could choose to return to anywhere in the world, it would be my second home away from home Edinburgh. Still an Athens of the North, this blog is an account of all the cultural happenings in the ‘Burgh.

Blurred Lights Tv, book, film reviews – this site has it all, courtesy of genial blogmeister Jason.

And that’s it from me. Check these folks out, drop ‘em a line and let them know how special they are.

Later peoples.  

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