Why I want to be friends with Imbolo Mbue (and a review of her novel Behold the Dreamers)

I have no time for Booktubers who apologize for not knowing how to pronounce an author’s name – look that shit up! And so I did for Imbolo Mbue (Em-boo-wey), author of Behold the Dreamers,  and discovered that, in addition to having four letter names that are difficult to pronounce, we both worked in market research, and we both love Jonathan Franzen.

Today, I still work in market research, while Mbue is a famous novelist; and the closest I got to Franzen was being in the same room, while she shares an agent with him. But I’m not the jealous type. I totally think we could be friends.

I made friends with her novel and reviewed it here:

What author do you think you could be friends with?

It’s a CanLit Celebration

Facebook memories are good for one thing: reminding me that at this time last year, I’d already published a comprehensive post about Edmonton’s fall line up of literary festivals and events. This year, I’m attending just one event. (Insert excuses such as work, kids, and rockstar husband* here.) But it’s going to be a gooder.

Edmonton’s LitFest is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and so is the Canadian Literature Centre. As if that wasn’t enough to justify a party, the CLC also just released a book of essays, Ten Canadian Writers in Context, edited by friend-of-Reading in Bed Jason Purcell. This party just got upgraded to a soirée: the LitFest Ten-Ten Soirée and CLC Celebration to be exact.


The book. Jason’s famous!

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The Short Story Advent Calendar 2016: Giveaway open till Oct. 9


Disclaimer: Giveaway copy is courtesy of the kind people at The Short Story Advent Calendar, but I bought my own copy. I know one of the creators, Michael Hingston, and reviewed his novel The Dilettantes here.

Forgive me for talking about Christmas in early October, but the second edition of The Short Story Advent Calendar is on sale now, and I’m so excited to offer one copy to a lucky reader. Continue reading

Cecilia Read-Along Books IX and X: Fifty Shades of Morty

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

Cecilia Readalong Button edit

We’ve talked about fantasy casting a little bit here, and I’ve had several spirited conversations with fellow readers-along about who could play Cecilia or Mortimer. I preferred Saoirse Ronan for Cecilia, and one reader in particular is gunning for Ben Wishaw as Morty.

But readers, I saw a movie trailer this week that changes everything.

Masquerades. Mind games. Meddling mothers. WE HAVE OUR MORTY.

And you know Jamie Dornan can rock a periwig:


Jamie Dornan as Axel Von Fersen in Marie Antoinette

Anyhoo, readers, chime in with your dream casting and read on for my last recap:

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Good Morning, Shopaholic


Sophie Kinsella cites Jane Austen as a major influence on her writing, and her Shopaholic series in particular. It makes sense: Becky Bloomwood is, like Austen heroines, a quirky, endearing character with a fatal flaw – not pride, or predjudice, but a propensity to overspend. Kinsella’s books, like Austen’s, skewer contemporary society while guaranteeing a happy ending.

And it’s totally on-brand. Shopaholic titles are aimed directly at people who love Jane Austen (or think they would, if they get around to reading her.)

But I think Kinsella took some inspiration from another pioneering British woman author. One who might not resonate so well with her readers, being far too dark and dreary and depressing.

I read Good Morning, Midnight for Reading Rhys Week and in many ways it was a singular reading experience; but destructive heroine Sasha Jensen reminded me of something I’d read before. The fixation on clothes, accessories, and hair. The reliance on handouts from friends and family. The failed attempt at being a shopgirl. The time and effort spent on hiding from both her past and her future.

I thought it was all a coincidence till I got to the part where Sasha lies about knowing a second language to impress an employer. Just like Becky Bloomwood does in Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Then it dawned on me: Sasha Jensen is an older, broken Becky Bloomwood.

Don’t believe me? Let’s play a game.

Who said it: Becky Bloomwood or Sasha Jensen?

For each category, I chose one quote from Good Morning, Midnight, and one quote from Confessions of a Shopaholic. Can you guess who said it? Answers at bottom. Continue reading

All the Giller Ladies

Well, most of them.

The stars aligned the other day: the kids were at school, I was at home, and I was inspired to make a Booktube video. Behold:

The “Try a Chapter” tag’s been around since late last year, but I gave it a topical twist: I used it to figure out which Giller Prize longlister I’m going to read. I meant to try the first chapter of each longlister written by a woman, but I had to exclude The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (not released yet) and Death Valley by Susan Perly (no ebook version, and I was using Kobo previews.)

More “Try a Chapter” inspiraton:
Original video by Book Paradise
Amanda Center’s video
Mercy’s Musings’ video
Steve Donoghue’s video

Books I tried:
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler
The Two of Us by Kathy Page
Willem De Koomings Paintbrush by Kerry Lee Powell
Do Not Say That We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Giller Prize longlist, includng links to excerpts

Paper Teeth by Lauralyn Chow: Director’s Cut Review


Publication date: September 1, 2016
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Read this if you like: Historical CanLit, Edmonton and Calgary settings, funny family stories, non-traditional structure
Check out Paper Teeth on Goodreads
Thanks to: NeWest Press for the review copy and Lauralyn Chow for answering my questions

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Paper Teeth by Lauralyn Chow for Vue Weekly.

I’ve written reviews here on Reading in Bed for many years. Writing for print publications is new to me, and there are many differences:

  • Getting paid
  • Actual deadline
  • No links or gifs
  • No writing about yourself and your feelings

You also have to limit the word count. That’s not something I do here on the blog. I love a long review. I had to keep my review of Paper Teeth under 800 words, and I had about 1,500 in my first draft.

So, if you didn’t get enough of my ramblings in Vue, here’s a longer version, along with the full text of my Q&A with Lauralyn Chow. I loved this book, and if you’re into historical CanLit, especially Edmonton and Calgary settings, you’ll want to check this out.

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Cecilia Read-Along Books VII and VIII: Move Morrice (Get Out The Way)

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

Cecilia Readalong Button edit



First, some housekeeping. Let’s drain the moat, and polish the chaise, and powder the wigs, etc.


And uh, iron the hankies

My schedule as posted here has been thrown to the wind, and I just realized I made a mistake: The schedule has me posting a wrap-up on September 19, while the image I’ve used everywhere says the readalong ends on September 9. I’m a little disappointed you guys didn’t notice!

I want to finish sooner than later, because #ReadingRhys week starts on the 12th and I clearly can’t handle one blog event, let alone two (please follow along, I’m planning to show how Jean Rhys invented chick lit.) So to hurry things along, today I’m going to post on Books 7 and 8, and (fingers crossed) Book 9 & 10 over the weekend.

Oh yeah, I finished the book. Going camping in the rain means a lot of reading time! I must save my conclusions for the next post, but it feels good to be done.

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2016 Alberta Readers Choice Award: Real Talk

ARCA 2016

The above image (used with permission) is pretty optimistic. Does anyone read all five books before voting? Don’t people just vote for the author they know, or the book that looks to be up their alley?

I love the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award in spite of my belief that it’s basically a popularity contest. Some great books have won (The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel in particular).

I wrote about the Edmonton-heavy shortlist for Vue Weekly. For that article, I had to keep things pretty neutral. Here are my real opinions, for those who care. Voting is open till 11:59pm on Wednesday August 31.

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Cecilia Read-Along Book VI: And I feel so much depends on the weather (so is it raining in your drawing room?)

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

Cecilia Readalong Button edit


Another week interrupted by travel – and my reading progress was thwarted by *talkers* for two out of three flights. Only conceive how provoking!


Despite these set backs, I am still reading, if not writing as much. I’m at that point in the readalong where you just want to barrel through and finish the thing. I know a couple of participants who were stalled are finding their stride as well – check in, how are you doing?

In Book VI we finally get a semi-romantic scene between our heroine and Morty, while he’s saving her from a sudden storm. I love me some romance in the rain, even if it is a huge cliche (big Wuthering Heights fan here. Okay, and The Notebook.) Thank god the storm came and forced Morty’s hand (metaphorically!) because I was beginning to think we’d never see the day!


Disclaimer: Cecilia and Morty DO NOT ACTUALLY KISS

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