Cauchemar by Alexandra Grigorescu (blog tour!)

I was asked to take part in ECW’s latest blog tour for CAUCHEMAR by debut novelist Alexandra Grigorescu. ECW has an amazing track record for debut fiction, especially by women. Amanda Leduc, Stacey May Fowles, Jennifer Lovegrove…their covers are always sharp, the writing gorgeous. This book continues on this trend, though it is a step sideways from what I usually read. But first, here’s 2Qs for Alexandra on her experience:

  1. ECW is a really great Canadian press. What was it like working with them as a first-time author?

As a first-time author, there was a lot of jolting awake—bursting with questions and concerns, and hung up on this or that sentence—but working with ECW Press has been a pleasure through and through. They have such a wonderful, talented team, and I felt myself to be in very good hands. 

I’m quite a visual person so the opportunity to have input into the cover design was deeply gratifying, and the experience of having editors that care and are excited about the book really contributed to the sense of a shared vision. 

  1. What did you do to celebrate your book being acquired? / What will you do to celebrate its release?

Hearing that the book had been acquired was an absolute joy (of the jumping up and down variety), but I knew I still had some work ahead of me. 

Now that the book is tangible, we’ve been going to bookstores and observing it in its natural habitat, with all its new shelf buddies. To celebrate, my husband and I are looking forward to a balmy vacation. But really, every day is a celebration in some small way: cracking open some wine, cooking a good pasta, feeling entitled to blink in surprise every so often and whisper, “It’s for real.” 

Cauchemar

CAUCHEMAR opens with the sudden death of Mae, the beloved mother figure of our 20-year-old protagonist, Hannah. Having lived on the edge of a secluded swamp with Mae her whole life, Hannah now faces an uncertain future alone. Enter one handsome boat man/musician and a birth mother with a very bad reputation, and we’re thrown into an intriguing story of extremes set is the lush setting of the Louisiana bayou.

In Grigorescu’s story, everything has been dialed up to the absolute maximum. The colours are very saturated, smells are rich, and the stakes are high. When there’s blood, it’s a bloodbath. Where there’s love, it’s life or death. Where there’s a silverfish, it’s the biggest effing silverfish in the world, and the sex fits into that near-cliché territory of perfection. It makes for a visceral reading experience that requires you to fully immerse yourself in the story. If you accidentally keep one foot out in reality, the illusion will shatter.

I think many readers will eat this story up. And so they should. There is a lot to chew on. Moody, spicy, sexy, vivid, and creepy-as-hell. But even with such an intense, flavourful plot, I didn’t exactly devour the novel as I was expecting to. But I think that says more about my individual taste than the book. The Gothic, swampy setting is very reminiscent of True Blood. Thankfully, Cauchemar isn’t campy like the show, though it gets up there on the melodrama ladder.

Overall, this is a rich piece of literature and Grigorescu is a gifted writer who has created a near 4D experience for her readers. There is just so much going on at all times, we jump from danger to danger, to flashbacks, to betrayal, to nightmares and visions, to magic, and an ever-present otherworldly presence blanketing everyone and everything. Yet, despite all this weight, the story moves extraordinarily quickly, which can be a bit jarring. We’re riding out this fantastical storm, white-knuckling the sides of the boat without rest. There were times where I wanted to stop and breathe and sink into the characters and this seductive world without another thing creeping up on me, but I wasn’t given the opportunity. Also, Hannah reminded me of a bit of Harry Potter in that she was often carried through the novel, piggybacking on the plot and the actions of others. Things kept happening to her and we experience them through her eyes, but so MUCH happens; one life-changing, traumatic wave crashing into her only to be followed by another (equally distressing) one immediately after. She doesn’t seem to get the chance to fully deal with all the awful things that happen to her, so neither do we. Because of this, I think the story could have been wrung out a bit, leaving a few things behind in order to bolster the impact of others, however, none of this made me want to jump ship. This isn’t a story you can just abandon and swim for shore. There is enough of a “wtf” factor to keep you reading until you find out exactly what happens in the end. CAUCHEMAR is a page-turner and Bella’s Bookshelves was right in saying it is a movie just waiting to be made, but it would definitely have to be a trilogy AT LEAST, maybe even a franchise, to do every element justice.

Thanks to Sam @ ECW for the arc and AG for answering my two little Qs!

Liebster Nominations!

Now it’s my turn to nominate some fellow web writers and I’ve chosen an eclectic list of blogs that swing from fashion to sex to video games. Thank again to Chelsey for nominating me and giving me the opportunity to nominate others! Here goes.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE…

Kaitlyn, That Monster
A publishing Wonder Woman, Kaitlyn writes about horror, feminism, video games, and other geekery. Her blog also features her own creative writing and criticism. AND she publishes Twines. If you want to read something new, thoughtful, and unequivocally cool, check her out!

photoMelanie, What The Librarian Wore
A blended learning librarian at the University of Guelph, Melanie has stylishly challenged the notion that librarians can only land on the stuffy or sexy side of the wardrobe. Instead, she curates thrifty and casual looks while inviting submissions from librarians everywhere to show off their own sartorial savvy.

EricaThe Ecstatic Adventures of the Exuberant Bodhisattva
I met Erica in University where she was one of the zaniest writers I’ve ever read. Now she lives in Halifax with her companion The Boatman (a frequent guest in her posts). There is no topic too intimate or personal to be thoroughly examined on her blog. Her adventures are as candid as they come!

72254_159896034033070_7799322_nMelissa, Sex and Pancakes
A sex advice and information column originating from Concordia University’s alternative newspaper The Link. Writer and creator Melissa is a wicked sex educator from Montreal that believes that “sex should be talked about as casually over breakfast the way we might talk about the weather.”

Andrew, Backlisted
Andrew is a through and honest book blogger with great taste in books. He’s also writer and artist in Toronto. Though we’ve never met in person, we often review the same books and even share a blog template!  Andrew is also a contributor to the ShortLitCrit forum @FoundPress.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Lisa, NotANudist
1507866_644073852302452_1225691815_nLisa’s yet-to-be unveiled fashion blog is a work in progress that it going to virtually explode with awesomeness when it is revealed. Friends since our first high school musical 11 years ago (!), Lisa is one the best, most beautiful, multi-talented, and cynically hilarious people I know. Look for her blog in the coming months! In the meantime you can follow her Twitter and Instagram.


Now, If the above so choose to accept this honour, you must now answer these questions  on your our own blog, then choose some of your own favourite blogs to nominate and think up a list of questions for them!

  1. What is your spirit animal and why?
  2. What, in your opinion, is your X factor as a blogger?
  3. If you were a super hero, who would you want to be your trusty sidekick? (Pick someone living, dead, or fictitious)
  4. If you could choose to live in one fictional world (literary or from film), which one would it be and why?
  5. What is the weirdest thing in your fridge/pantry?
  6. Name the best present you’ve ever received.
  7. Describe the perfect breakfast. Is it at home? Out? Who is it with?
  8. You just won your dream award. What would it be?/What would it be for?
  9. In your opinion, what is the best thing since sliced bread?
  10. Where is your happy place?
  11. Name one skill you have that you are particularly proud of and one skill you wish you had.

Ready. Set. Go!

Book Stylist gets the Liebster Award treatment

Welcome to the Book Stylist edition of the Liebster Awards! A pay-it-forward initiative to push and promote great blogs around the web! I was nominated by Chelsey over at Chels And A Book, a fellow Concordian, Humber Publishing alum, AND the blogger who showed me that book blogs are a real life thing. You can check out her Leibster post here! Nominees are encouraged to participate in a cute Q&A and then pass it along, creating a chain reaction of blog recommendations that will spread and spread until we dominate the interwebs with our positive reinforcement!  Here are the rules:

  • Liebster_AwardReveal 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions set forth by you nominator.
  • Select at least 5 blogs to nominate and send them their own inquisitive questionnaire to fill out.
  • Spread the blog love!

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. My ideal afternoon is a long lunch with good friends at a table by the window.
  2. I function at a very high temperature. I’m always warm. Like really, really warm. I like scalding hot showers. I cannot handle being cold. Why I don’t live on a beach right now is beyond me.
  3. I walk extremely fast. I don’t know if it’s subconscious compensation for my short legs or a habit I picked up after having lived through some frigid Montreal winters, but it physically pains me to saunter.
  4. Ironically though, I loath running.
  5. I taught myself how to cook during a 6 month unemployment stint a few years ago and now I love to experiment sans recipe. Before that, I couldn’t even manage instant pancakes without some terrible mishap.
  6. My closet is full of clothes with animals on it, including rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, swans, mice, and unicorns. And I won’t stop until I can wear an entire enchanted forest.
  7. Epic marriage proposal stories never fail to make me cry. Especially this one.
  8. My celebrity boyfriend is Jason Schwartzman.
  9. Most of my iPod is made up of 40s music and show tunes.
  10. In a different life, I think I would have made a great OB-GYN.
  11. I love staying in hotels. If I could live in one, I would.

CHELSEY’S RANDOM QUESTIONS:

  1. tuck-everlastingWhat is your favourite childhood book, favourite read from the last year, and most anticipated future read?
    When I was younger, I would read and reread Barbara Smucker’s Underground to Canada. Also, Tuck Everlasting.
    Last year: Oh man, I read so many great ones it’s hard to choose. The Miracles of Ordinary Men was a pretty fantastic. Also, Husk.
    Anticipated: Amy Poehler’s humour memoir!
  2. If you had the choice to create your last meal (appetizer, main course, dessert and beverage), what would it be?
    A spicy caesar. French onion soup. Cedar plank salmon, wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil, roasted asparagus. Chocolate cheesecake.
  3. mylibraryWhat would your ideal bookshelf/ library look like?  I’ve always wanted a comfy plush bay window with giant pillows, and surrounding it with book shelves to the ceiling. And don’t forget the ladder!
  4. If you were to get a tattoo tomorrow, what would it be and where? I have a tattoo! It’s a pair of sewing buttons on my ribcage. But I’m considering getting another one. I’ve always wanted a small white rabbit in honour of one of my favourite storybook catalyst.
  5. Do you anticipate your birthday, wish it was over faster or remain indifferent? I love my birthday! It gives me an excuse to plan something fun.
  6. What is in your ideal smoothie? I’ll devour anything in smoothie form, but raspberries and peaches are my favourite.
  7. If you were to go to a ball (Disney Princess style), what would your dress look like? Anything from Spanish designer Rosa Clara. Just make it red.
  8. Do you have a favourite mug? Where is it from, how long have you had it and what does it look like? My favourite mug is my new one from David’s Tea. It’s a colour changing whale mug! David’s Tea mugs are quickly bumping my old Starbucks ones to the back of the shelf.
  9. burton_alice_011__oPtWhat is your favourite thing about your blog? I love the challenge of finding ways to photograph books. I love the physical object, so trying to depict the mood of reading in a visual way is a lot of fun. That’s been a recurring compliment from readers, so it’s nice to know it works.
  10. Who is your favourite man or woman in literature and why?
    Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) for her insane imagination.
  11. If you were to adopt a dog or a cat today, what would one of your name considerations be? Oh I have a list of them. But just like my human baby names, the name of my future fur baby is under strict lock and key. Or it’s hidden behind the passcode of my iPhone.

 


AND NOW YOU KNOW! Stay tuned for my nominees later this week!