Curiosity House Books.
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Curiosity House Books Publishing, founded in 2014, is a small press specializing in high-quality non-fiction and children's picture books. We have published 4 titles to date, with several more in production. Please contact us to learn and/or to purchase our books.
When Everything Falls Apart - Book One: The End by Simon Heath
A Bird Chronicle - by Rina Barone, illustrated by Ruth Ann Pearce
The Petun: People of the Hills by Pat Raible
The Village and I: Ten Life Stories - created by Sara Sniderhan, edited by Rina Barone
Virtual Author Events.
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by Sandy Poitras
Are you on a reading streak? I know I am this year, more than ever. Perhaps you’ve always been that way – reading one book after another, or having a pile of books on the go, so you can settle in with the one that fits your “mood” or appetite of the moment. With that in mind, I decided to do some short-and-sweet reviews of some of my latest reads, all by well-established female authors from different parts of the world. Two of the books are new and one is a little older, but all of them satiated my various reading appetites.
Writers & Lovers by Lily King (2020)
(Satiated: My inner romantic, insecure, struggling artist)
One of our customers had ordered this one, and, I was intrigued by the title. This is one of those stories that, if you’re an older, “creative type”, may just transport you back to your days as a youngish (30-something) adult, teaming with emotions, creative ambition and insecurity, as you try to navigate your next steps in life, while paying the bills and juggling relationships. This book is a quick and satisfying read, full of humour, a lot of tenderness, and hope for the struggling artist.
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (2020)
(Satiated: My appetite for the bizarre)
If you had the choice, would you like to infiltrate someone’s home and life in the form of virtual robotic eyes, or be the keeper of the robot with those virtual eyes? Spanish writer Samanta Schweblin sends us flash-forward into a future that isn’t that hard to imagine, where almost everyone latches on to the latest gadget: cute little robot-like creatures called “kentuckis”, about the size of a small dog, that “come to life” when they are “activated” online, anonymously, with an actual person somewhere else in the world. Essentially, consumers around the world can be a “keeper” of a kentucki, or “inhabit” one by being its “eyes”. Instead of one continuous story thread, Schweblin has created several storylines that follow along the journeys of various characters around the globe, as they invite this brand new, as-yet-to-be-regulated technology into their lives. Just like life, there is plenty of humour, kindness, absurdity and horror in the pages of this fascinating sci-fi.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (2017)
(Satiated: My appetite for a richly-detailed, character-driven tale)
This was one of those books that I purchased a couple of years ago that I finally got around to reading. I was drawn by the “shock” of the title – the words “erotic” and “Punjabi widow” are not ones that one would often see strung side-by-side, and that is exactly why the story is so appealing. Kaur Jaswal tells the tale of a twenty-something modern Sikh woman living in London, England, who has been hired to
teach traditional, older Sikh widows creative writing, except that the widows believe they have signed up for English lessons. The creative (and most definitely erotic!) story-telling that ensues, surprises and shocks everyone involved. This story is so rich in layers (there is also a mystery that weaves through it), characters and setting that I could easily picture it as a movie, full of humour, yes, but also deep respect for the older women of South Asian communities who are often socially invisible.
Reviewed by C. Bernard Dunk
The Gulf is a detailed and exhaustive work of environmental history that takes us from the pre-Columbian to the present. A rich world of sea captains, Victorian ornithologists, sport fishermen, and past presidents.
With clear crisp prose Davis opens up a world of flora and fauna jammed up hard against centuries of heavy industry, and tourism. Comprehensive, yet lyrical and lucid, it is highly recommended.
Book Review: It is Wood, It is Stone by Gabriella Burnham (2020)
By Sandy Poitras
It is Wood, It is Stone is a dreamy debut novel by Brazilian American “author to watch” Gabriella Burnham, that tenderly delves into the psyche of its American heroine, Linda, as she simultaneously struggles to both regain her sense of self, while trying to find her place in a new geographical location. Linda has moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, with her university professor husband who has been offered a one-year professorship, at a time in her life when - unbeknownst to him - she isn’t even sure she wants to be married anymore. She is full of self-doubt and insecure about her own feelings as she tries to settle in to a new rhythm of life, with no job, a language barrier, and a maid who comes with the contract.
I breezed through this book in a couple of days because I got so caught up in the story. Linda narrates the story as if she is recounting the memories of her year in Brazil, directly to her husband. It is through her eyes that we get to know (and love) Marta, the maid, and other richly developed female characters, of all walks of life. And like all good books, a key event takes place (nothing tragic) that impacts our heroine’s world and those around her.
What I enjoyed about this book, besides reveling in Linda’s idiosyncrasies (she is often self-deprecating and there were moments when I laughed out loud), is learning a little about life in Brazil, through Burham’s descriptions of the landscape and the people. At one point in the story, Linda references the popular Brazilian song, Aguas De Marco (Waters of March) by Elis Regina, which undoubtedly inspired the book’s title, and perhaps even the theme. (This could be a good discussion for a book club.)
Although our heroine flounders – like we all can do in life - as she tries to regain a sense of her true self, this book will leave you smiling, and maybe even humming the tune of Aguas De Marco. All in all, it’s a truly satisfying summer read.
Reflections on Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
By Sandy Poitras
In Miranda Popkey’s first novel, Topics of Conversation, it almost feels as if one is watching a movie where the actors are encouraged to ad-lib. You know when you are having a conversation with someone - a real conversation - and the sentences don’t flow perfectly? How you may add little inflections, maybe wave a hand, flick a cigarette, look away, pause? That’s how Popkey writes the conversations. They flow so naturally, in their imperfect state, that you can easily visualize the whole scene roll out before you like a play.
The book has the feel of a memoir. Each chapter is written as a “memory” in one year of the life of the fictitious narrator, as she navigates from young adulthood to middle-age. As we read through her memories of specific conversations she has had with various people in her life, we come to know the narrator (she doesn’t mince words) and how she has been shaped and changed by these social interactions.
While Popkey’s narrator is sharing stories of conversations, I think she is also conversing with the reader. She reveals to us her own ways of seeing situations – it’s as if she is confessing her deeper thoughts - while she tells us about a conversation she had with her mother, her university girlfriends, a man at a bar, a boyfriend, various women. The reader may also see a bit of themselves in these personal reflections.
Popkey is clearly an observer of humans. What I especially liked, at the end of the book, was her inclusion of “Works (Not) Cited,” something she says she was inspired to include by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel Fra Keeler. Here, she reveals over 200 sources of inspiration for her novel, from books to essays, articles and movies. It was fun to read this, to see how many of those I had read or watched (and how many I now want to read or watch). For readers who may also be aspiring writers, it gives insight into the creative process, by revealing the breadth of sources from which one can draw inspiration.
While reviews highlight Topics of Conversation as a novel that addresses views about female sexuality, desire, attraction, repulsion, loneliness, power, rage and gender, I think it also invites one to slow down and observe people with more curiosity. I imagine a director like Woody Allen bringing this book to life on the big screen. Not so much the comedic side of Allen, but the more reflective side, the one that really examines the inner workings of human beings and what makes them who they are.
Popkey’s book may inspire creative types to take a closer look at life, at the little details often missed: the way a person behaves while they are speaking, for example. Or it may even inspire one to don the detective’s cap, observing a person’s body language and picking up little clues about what they might be feeling inside.
(You could be completely wrong about your observations, of course, as the narrator discovers she has been, on several occasions, but that’s life.) The conversation, in a sense, goes beyond the words, it lies in our body language too; we reveal so much of ourselves in the silence and movement between the words.
Curiosity House Books.
A place for discovery.
From our bricks-and-mortar bookstore in the beautiful village of Creemore to our author events to our online journal to the books we create, it is our hope that you will find something new and inspiring and walk away happy to have found it.
Our collections are carefully selected. Our mandate is simple: to connect books with readers. We hope to engage and create, to inspire and to empower. Our story starts here.