Zara’s Review Policy

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez


 As a post-graduate of English Literature and Creative Writing and a background in Women’s Studies and Minorities in Canadian Society, I gravitate towards:

  • literary fiction
  • historical fiction
  • memoirs
  • poetry
  • children’s illustrated books
  • books with marginalized cultural themes (for e.g. Asian, Indian etc.)

Favourite Authors:

 As an example of my literary tastes, my favourite authors include:

Margaret Atwood             Anita Rau Badami           Shauna S. Baldwin

Joseph Boyden                 Raymond Carver              Wayson Choy

Leonard Cohen                 Douglas Coupland            Don Delillo

Timothy Findley             Damon Galgut                   Mavis Gallant

Steven Galloway             Barbara Gowdy                 Elizabeth Hay

Alice Hoffman                 Khaled Hosseini                  John Irving

Kazuo Ishiguro               Eugenia Kim                       Joy Kogawa

Jhumpa Lahiri                 Nicole Lundrigan              Gabriel G. Marquez

Cormac McCarthy        Ami McKay                          Anne Michaels

Rohinton Mistry           Shani Mootoo                       Erin Morgenstern

Teá Obreht                      Michael Ondaatje                Sylvia Plath

Annie Proulx                  Nino Ricci                             Mordecai Richler

Arundhati Roy              Salman Rushdie                   J.D. Salinger

José Saramago              Lisa See                                   Shyam Selvadurai

Johanna Skibsrud       Mark Strand                          Thrity Umrigar

Jane Urquhart             M.G. Vassanji                         Jesmyn Ward

Elie Weisel                    G. Willow Wilson                  Max Lucado

Phillip Yancey            Dr. Seuss                                   Shel Silverstein

Reading Format:

I prefer to read from print hardcopies in consideration that I do not yet own a device with e-reading capabilities. Advance reading copies (ARCs) are accepted.


I currently review books for the following publishers on a monthly basis:

If you are a publisher who is:

  • looking to expand your online marketing platform
  • interested in promoting new book releases and authors to a wider audience
  • looking for a literary book enthusiast, voracious reader, and honest, fair reviewer
  • and would like to be added to the list above

please contact me by email: zgarcia(dot)alvarez(at)gmail(dot)com for an opportunity to collaborate in advocating literacy and a genuine love of reading for great works of writing.


I welcome and accept queries directly from authors in reviewing their new books. Please kindly include:

  • genre category
  • author name(s)
  • format (hardcover, trade paperback, mass paperback), page count
  • publisher
  • ISBN
  • publication date
  • notes of merit (e.g. “Short listed for Giller Prize Award”)
  • author bio (5-10 lines, short paragraph)
  • author’s blog/webpage name and URL address

If I agree to review the book, I also sometimes choose to feature author interviews on my blog. If you are interested in providing an interview, please include your interest in your query. Interview questions will be emailed to you after I have completed reading the book. Please provide a profile picture along with your author bio (as above) to be included on the post.

Book Giveaways and Contests:

I periodically host book giveaways on my blog to:

  • promote upcoming and/or new releases
  • advocate literacy
  • increase readership/follower traffic to my blog
  • celebrate blogging milestones and/or “bloggoversaries”

Books, on the most part, come from my own personal library of duplicates or are bought as new purchases for the intention of giveaways and are shipped at my own personal cost.

It would be greatly appreciated if publishers and/or authors:

  • agree to provide a complimentary book copy for giveaway for books that are reviewed upon my request
  • agree to be responsible for shipping the book to the winner after I provide the winner’s contact and mailing information
  • agree to be responsible for any incurred shipping and handling costs

SWAG (Note to authors): Re: book giveaways and contests

It would be greatly appreciated if promotional SWAG (“stuff we all get”) can also be donated to me as reader, reviewer, and host of the giveaway, along with its book prize to the potential winner, if SWAG is to be included in the giveaway prize pack.

SWAG can take the form of:

  • bookmarks      book plates                   stickers
  • buttons             pens                             notebooks
  • tote bags           mugs                           misc. other

Giveaway Locations and Eligibility:

Most of my book giveaways are open internationally in order to provide wider readership of both the book and of my blog. If an author would prefer otherwise and would like to restrict promotion to domestic entries (Canada and/or U.S.) due to shipping costs, please advise me of this preference.

Readers must be at least 15 years and up to enter my book giveaway contests.

No P.O. box addresses accepted.

Reviewing Guidelines:


Being offered and receiving a complimentary book from a publisher and/or author does not guarantee a review. Books and queries sent to me are for consideration of a potential review depending on:

  • my interest in the work
  • my reading schedule availability
  • provision of complete information and other requested requirements as above
1. Books that are reviewed come from a variety of sources:
  • my own private library collection
  • newly purchased books
  • new releases from the local library
  • books I have received through contest giveaways and winnings
  • media copies for review and/or ARCs from publishers
  • media copies for review and/or ARC’s from authors

2.  I am not financially compensated for the reviews that I provide on my blog. Therefore, I ask that media copies that are sent to me from publishers and/or authors for the purpose of reviews be complimentary and courtesy of the publisher and/or author.

3.  My agreement to provide a book review for promotional purposes from a publisher and/or author does not guarantee a favourable review. My reviews are objective, fair, honest, and based on my opinion as a reader, writer, editor, and my personal literary tastes.

4. My reviews are rated on a five “Z-ring” rating. The lowest rating begins from one to the highest rating of five.


5. As a standard, I include in my review postings the following:
  1. title of the book
  2. author’s name
  3. genre
  4. format, page count
  5. publisher name
  6. ISBN
  7. publication date
  8. notes of merit (for e.g. “Winner of Giller Prize 2011”)
  9. image of book cover
  10. Z-ring rating (from 1­-5)
  11. link to book featured on either publisher’s site or Chapters-Indigo webpage
  12. link to author’s webpage if applicable
  13. mention of the publisher/author as provider of media review copy if applicable

6. I  aim to write intelligent, thorough, and thoughtful responses to the work and will look at the book as a whole in regards to its narrative, characters and character development, plot, readability, its comparison to its author’s previous works (if applicable), its cover design, and also consider its intended target reading audience.

7. Reading time is at least a month in consideration that I review more than one book at a time from different sources. Reading times vary depending on page count of book, readability, and my reading schedule. I do, however, do the best that I can to read quickly and thoughtfully.

8. My blog does not contain mature language or imagery intended for an 18+ audience. I reject any forms of spam, explicit, disrespectful, racist, sexist, ageist, or questionable content or interaction on my site. Any such content will be blocked and reported.

Other Social Media Sites:

Aside from posting reviews on my blog, I will also:

  • post the review on my Bibliotaphe’s Closet Facebook page
  • post the review on my Goodreads account
  • post the review on the Chapters-Indigo website upon request
  • promote the review via Twitter (current following of 300+ and growing)
  • promote the review via Networked Blogs

I am a member of:

 Outline of Weekly Posts:

I am about to implement a lenient outline of personally created and thematic weekly posts:

Meet Me on Mondays:

Meme of five random questions about the blogger provided by meme host.

Tote Bag Tuesday:

A feature of newly purchased books and/or books recently won in contest giveaways.

On Writing Wednesday:

Word definitions, literary terms, writing quotes, writing tips and advice. Anything and everything about writing from a creative writing perspective.

Wish List Wednesday:

A list of books on my personal wish list to own that I have not yet had the privilege to add to my collection.

Thursday: Zara’s Inkblot:

A feature post of my creative writing in the form of poem, short story, essay, journal entry, or random thought.

Feature Author Friday:

 A post featuring an author of the week.

Saturday Snapshots:

A post of a photograph personally taken by me with as little or as much caption information provided. The intent of this weekly post is to share my love of photography and my photos with others.

I own copyright to all photos posted and request that any use of my photos be first cleared by permission from me with the use of an appropriate credit line, which I will specify and provide, as well as a link back to my webpage.

Copyright requests may be sent to me via email: zgarcia(dot)alvarez(at)gmail(dot)com

Other Content:

Other content on my blog consists of:

  • book reviews                                  author interviews/author feature
  • book events                                   blog events
  • book giveaways/contests             blog hops
  • word definitions                            literary terms
  • Zara’s Tote Bag (newly purchased books or contest winnings)
  • Zara’s Ink Blot (my creative writing)
  • social media tools
  • thematic features
  • cultural heritage month feature
  • holiday features


If you are interested in a review for your book, please send me a query with all pertinent information (as listed above) by email: zgarcia(dot)alvarez(at)gmail(dot)com.

I will do my best to respond to queries within a 48-hour turnaround time.


Thanks for your interest in The Bibliotaphe’s Closet and wishing you the best of success in the publication and promotion of your book(s).

Happy writing and reading!

Zara Alexis

Meet Me on Monday: 03.19.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Based on the original Meet Me on Monday hosted by Java at Never Growing Old, Acting Balanced will ask five questions on Sunday evening along with a linky for participants to post answers!

Here are today’s questions (and my answers):

1. How do you like your eggs?

I usually take my eggs over-easy with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mmm…yum! But, I LOVE eggs in general. They’re delicious, healthy, and so easy to make. If I’m so inclined, I’ll eat them as a scrambled omelette with sardines or eggplant with mozzarella cheese, or simply with fried onions! *Zara is salivating* For a great snack, I’ll boil a few and munch on them at 4:30 p.m.—Uh-oh! Now, I’m getting hungry…

The only thing missing is a sprinkle of salt and pepper---and my fork!
2. Who is the last person you spoke to on the phone?

The last person I spoke to on the phone was my husband during his break at work. I’m not much of a phone person, but I do enjoy using my vintage rotary phone from the 1960’s! If anything, though, you’ll most likely reach me by email or find me via Twitter or my blog.
Z&E. Wedding Day.
My favourite phone in the house: my rotary phone from the 1960's.
3.     Do you have a place you keep ‘junk’ in your home?

Why, of course! We have a family “junk drawer” that continually collects trinkets, hodge-podge, and miscellaneous stuff we’re either unsure of where to put or too lazy at the time to put away. And then of course, there’s my entire basement…

Just a few...things... (My favourite item is my Avon lipstick pen! It's hilarious!)

4. What is on your ‘spring cleaning’ list?

My basement needs a good run-through for a potential garage sale in the spring. Then there’s my closet full of unused bags and shoes. I should say my books, but it disheartens me to part with them unless I have duplicate copies or they’re in such poor condition, they’re in need of loving replacement.

Okay, so I'm a book hoarder AND a purse/bag hoarder!

5. What blog post have you written recently that you’d like more people to know about?

a) Aside from being a book blogger, I also write short stories and poems. I posted a short story a while back and would love it if people came by to read it and share their thoughts. It’s called, The Postcard and won First Honourable Mention for the “Show-Off” Writing Contest through The Write Practice in February 2012.

b) And I also posted my plans in participating in this year’s upcoming Bloggiesta Olé Blog Event. Not sure if there’s still time to join in, but you’re more than welcome to drop by and say “hello” to me during the blogathon.

I will be participating in the Bloggiesta Olé blogathon event from March 30 to April 1.

Thank you to Heather Smith of Acting Balanced for her continual hosting of this creative and fun meme. To see who else is participating, please visit here.

Zara Alexis