Category Archives: book event

Canada DOES Read! See the Shortlist for 2016

01.22.2016

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @zaraalexis / @zaraasian

It’s that time of year again when CBC announces the five titles of Canadian literature as chosen by its advocates for its annual debate, Canada Reads. 

This year’s host, Wab Kinew, a former panelist on Canada Reads, defended Joseph Boyden’s, The Orenda, and returns this year to host the event for the second time.

This year’s theme is about “starting over” and the following panelists have chosen Canadian books that they feel best represent transformation and the struggles in starting a new life.

Because Canada Reads begins on March 21 and lasts for four days, you have a chance now, to stock up on and read this year’s titles to see if you agree:

book - birdie***

Bruce Poon Tip will be defending Birdie by Tracey Lindberg.

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Farah Mohamed will be defending Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz.

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Clara Hughes will be defending The Illegal by Lawrence Hill.

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Adam Copeland will be defending Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter.

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Vinay Virmani will be defending The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami.

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Have you read any of the books that will be discussed in this year’s Canada Reads event?

Which book do you think will win this year’s Canada Reads title? Why?

Debates are usually won by those who make the strongest arguments. Based on what you know about the panelists for this year’s debate, who do you think will make the most compelling arguments on behalf of the book he/she is representing?

Which Canadian books would you like to see featured as contenders in next year’s Canada Reads debate?

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Until next time, happy reading!

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Re-cap: Word on the Street Festival 2014

09.23.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zara.tokiniha

My husband and I had planned to attend the annual Word on the Street festival in Toronto on September 21 for months since our successful visits since a few years ago. And then of course, closer to the date, we heard the disappointing news of rain and thunder showers, which literally put a “damper” on our intentions to attend. So, after waking up really early with anticipation to leave, we heard the news, and then begrudgingly went back to sleep.

After a little nap, our five-year-old daughter woke us up saying, “Mama, I thought we’re going to Toronto?” That convinced me enough to reconsider. Why disappoint my only daughter? Why break a promise to her because of a little rain? So, my husband and I got up again and were determined to head on out regardless of the potentially bad weather.

In lieu of the poor weather reports we packed our umbrellas and practically ran to catch a GO bus to head to Union Station, at which point we walked to King subway, only to turn back due to the sales booth being closed. The great thing about the weekend in Toronto is the affordable TTC Family Pass, which allows two adults and up to four children to ride the TTC streetcar and subway all day. The unfortunate thing about the weekend in Toronto is its only time to perform construction and maintenance on the subway lines, which only means closures, detours, and delays for its commuters—yes, us.

Eventually, we routed ourselves onto a subway line headed north to College, at which point we needed to hop onto a streetcar to take us to Queen’s Park. We didn’t score the new TTC streetcars only launched a few weeks ago, but got a taste of the imminent crowd that is a Toronto pedestrian lifestyle.

Even though we were late, I was able to snag quite a bit of SWAG in the form of bookmarks, postcards, buttons, posters, stickers, temporary tattoos, and even a beach ball!

Some of the SWAG items I picked up at WOTS 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Some of the SWAG items I picked up at WOTS 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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X. wearing one my favourites pieces of SWAG from WOTS 2014, play reading glasses. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
X. wearing one my favourites pieces of SWAG from WOTS 2014, play reading glasses. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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It was, however, a struggle to even get a peek at some of the books for sale at a number of tents because of the bibliotaphe mobs that surrounded these busy tables. But, because of my will, determination, and sheer girth, I was able to squeeze (and elbow) through some people to finally get near some titles.

My friends at HarperCollins Canada loaded their tent with a slew of titles, a hodge podge of genres, ready for the plucking at super-crazy, clearance prices: $3 for hardcovers and $2 for paperbacks! But, because the crowd was busy picking and pecking at books, I was only able to snag a few goodies:

Books I bought at WOTS 2014: "The Age of Hope" by David Bergen, "Solo" by Rana Dasgupta, and "Astray" by Emma Donoghue. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Books I bought at WOTS 2014: “The Age of Hope” by David Bergen, “Solo” by Rana Dasgupta, and “Astray” by Emma Donoghue. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Still, the trip was worth it since there is always a spot reserved entirely for young children and their families especially the huge stage performances by TVO Kids, which my children enjoyed.

Here are some of the highlights my little readers enjoyed at WOTS this year:

The kids posing with Chirp of TVO Kids at WOTS 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids posing with Chirp of TVO Kids at WOTS 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids with one of my favourite characters when I was a kid---it's Polkaroo! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids with one of my favourite characters when I was a kid—it’s Polkaroo! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My little cowboy and cowgirl, courtesy of Howdy, TVO Kids. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My little cowboy and cowgirl, courtesy of Howdy, TVO Kids. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Other highlights included listening in to Claire Cameron speak about her book, “The Bear,” and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer on her beautifully written novel, “All the Broken Things.”

What a brilliant day for book lovers everywhere!

Hope to see you all next year!

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Did you attend WOTS 2014 this year?

Which authors were you most excited about meeting?

What bookish goodies were you able to snag?

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Happy National Reading Day! 01.23.2014

01.23.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Reading is so fantastic and integral to society that its been given its own holiday. And while most book lovers already read on a daily basis, it’s wonderful to advocate literacy just as often. At least it has a day dedicated to itself in which people are encouraged to read and to honour a genuine love of books.

While this holiday is recognized in the USA and is primarily targeted towards the advocacy of literacy for children, literacy and the love of reading can be celebrated by anyone anywhere.

With the number of publishers and imprints in Canada, the number of genres to choose from, and the number of Canadian authors who are highly acclaimed, the written word has never been more ripe than it is now. Even with the evolution of technology and the way in which people read, there seems to be a continual commitment to producing the best and most diversified forms of literature.

And though there has been a general fear in the decline of both books in print and/or bookstores, there still remains an avid group of readers that devotedly borrow, buy, collect, and read books.

Reading is not to be underrated in its importance both in a general understanding for the individual to survive and function successfully in society, but also the way in which reading builds confidence, and an opportunity to actively participate in the gift of creativity and imagination. Literature as art not only shares stories with its audience as a form of performance and entertainment, but can also house a significant comment on society at large, and can be both a reflection of society, as well as a catalyst for its change.

If anything, the works of our time can showcase and encourage important dialogue about who we are and where we are going. Stories, too, are treasure troves of the semantics of language, narrative, dialogue—all lexicons of how we think, speak, and interact with one another.

While writers can range from the obscure to the fully formed and realized literary idols, they are in essence the gatekeepers to the language and life others know, but cannot articulate.

In honour of National Reading Day, let’s relish in the ability we have to read, but also the freedom in which we can choose what to read.

Perhaps in celebration of National Reading Day, you could do (one of) the following:

  • make a book recommendation to someone personally or online
  • lend a highly recommended book to a friend or family member who’s hesitant to read
  • trade a book with a fellow bibliotaphe
  • donate some well-loved books to a book charity
  • join a book club
  • create a book club
  • create a reading room
  • host a book giveaway
  • host a book party
  • donate money to a book foundation
  • in lieu of toys, commit to buy books for children instead
  • allot time in your day/evening to read
  • commit to reading with your child(ren) on a daily basis
  • take your children to your local, public library and register them for a new library card
  • take your children to a local book store to browse and see what kind of books interest them
  • volunteer at your local library to tutor others in reading
  • become a reading buddy
  • write a thoughtful fan letter to one of your favourite authors
  • write a thoughtful letter of thanks to one of your former English teachers
  • make a reading list and commit to reading each title until it’s completed
  • join the 50 Book Pledge 2014 through HarperCollins Canada
  • create a small, free homemade library on your property
  • leave a book in a public space for someone to pick up and pass on

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What do you plan on doing to celebrate National Reading Day?

What are you reading right now?

How can you personally advocate literacy today?

Which of the above suggestions might you participate in today or in future?

What do you love most about reading?

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Check Out What Canada Is Reading for “Canada Reads”

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Check Out What Canada Is Reading for “Canada Reads”

12.09.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Canada Reads is an annual book competition broadcasted by the CBC, which first began in 2001. Readers are asked to vote on which Canadian books they believe to be the best according to a theme chosen by CBC. The best five books are then represented by five Canadian personalities to defend and debate over until one winner is chosen.

This year’s contenders are:

Cockroach by Rawi Hage to be defended by Samantha Bee, Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

 cockroach cvr

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The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described thief has just tried but failed to commit suicide. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naive therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator’s violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoky emigre cafes where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen night-time streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but wilfully blind, citizens who surround him. In 2008, Cockroach was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, presented by the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

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Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan to be defended by  Donovan Bailey, a two-time gold medalist at the 1996 Olympic Games and the record holder for the 50-metre dash.

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan.

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Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience. Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

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The Orenda by Joseph Boyden to be defended by Wab Kinew, an award-winning journalist, aboriginal activist, and hip-hop artist.

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From the Scotiabank Giller Prize-Winning author of Through Black Spruce comes a literary masterpiece steeped in the natural beauty and blood-soaked brutality of our country’s formative years. A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar. Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world. As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux.

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Annabel by Kathleen Winter to be defended by Sarah Gadon, a young actor appearing most recently in David Cronenberg’s films, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis.

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Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment. In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret: the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished. Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.

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The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood to be defended by Stephen Lewis, a prominent activist, A Companion of the Order of Canada, and the chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports women and children in Africa living with HIV/AIDS.

 year of the flood2

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The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .

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The Canada Reads show is from March 3 to 6, 2014.

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Out of the contenders listed, which book do you think best represent this year’s theme:

the story which has the power to change Canada?

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The 2013 Giller Prize: The Year of the Short Story

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The 2013 Giller Prize: The Year of the Short Story

11.07.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This year’s 20th Annual Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala was glorious as usual, a black-tie affair housing the who’s-who of Canadian literature, and its powerhouse publishers, hosted by Toronto’s Jian Ghomeshi.

While I wasn’t as successful in guessing which books would make it onto the shortlist—(I was baffled at the omission of Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda and shrugged my shoulders in disbelief)—there was still enough literary calibre to impress the jury, Canada, and the world.

The runners in the Giller Prize race were equally well-written, if not had stories that moved its readers to question the dynamic of relationships with:

The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta

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In watching Dan Vyleta accept his hardbound copy of The Crooked Maid, I especially appreciated his humility, grace—and his crooked bow tie!

The book itself:

The Crooked Maid is a dark, suspenseful novel set in post-war Vienna about Anna Beer and Robert Seidel, who meet on a train and then return home to find their households and their lives in disarray, and then are reunited as spectators at a criminal trial to deliver judgment on Austria’s Nazi crimes.

– Paraphrased from Chapters-Indigo online catalogue.

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Caught by Lisa Moore

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“It’s a book about consequences…,” and according to the author, a book about “doing what we’re afraid of,” and how that can be a positive thing. Though Lisa Moore confesses not living like her characters do, she was indeed brave enough to make creative writing her career.

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Cataract City by Craig Davidson

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Cataract City is about two childhood friends, Owen and Duncan, who grow up in Niagara Falls, better known as Cataract City, who experience a near-death incident that bond them together, and later in adulthood, a story about “what breaks those mends.”

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Going Home Again by Dennis Bock

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Going Home Again is about “a man in crisis,…” and the question, “Do we fail love or does love fail us?” It’s a  wrenching and dramatic story that explores the fabric of family: sibling rivalries, marriages on the rocks, hurt children, midlife crises-in short, modern life.

– From the Chapters-Indigo online catalogue.

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And to introduce us to the winner of the Giller Prize, here are the literary figures who were asked to join this year’s Giller Prize reading panel who successfully read and critiqued a total of 147 books of fiction written by today’s prominent Canadian writers: Jonathan Lethem, Esi Edugyan (last year’s winner of the Giller for Half-Blood Blues), and Margaret Atwood.

The 2013 Giller Prize Jury with host, Jian Ghomeshi. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The 2013 Giller Prize Jury with host, Jian Ghomeshi. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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When asked if Margaret Atwood would read on the Giller Prize jury again, she blatantly answered, “No,” and when asked why not, her reasoning was that she would be “too old,” and teased Jian Ghomeshi that he would soon find out what that’s like when “he grows up.” For those of us who know and love Ms. Atwood, we know her humour is as biting sharp as her writing and her wit—and that she has a deep affection for those she teases.

Margaret Atwood, Giller Prize Gala. November 6, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Margaret Atwood, Giller Prize Gala. November 6, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Esi Edugyan was elegant and graceful in her support of the diversity of writers and the calibre of Canadian writing and joked that being on the jury this year didn’t allow her “to win,” — an indirect reference to her snag of the Giller Prize last year for her book, Half-Blood Blues.

Jonathan Lethem entertained us with his answer of how he felt about the reading experience of being on the Giller Prize jury this year—a reference to the news of Rob Ford’s admission of smoking crack cocaine—that they read “in a drunken stupor.” Only in Toronto, eh?

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And the winner of the 2013 Giller Prize is…

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It seems this year in lieu of Alice Monroe’s win of the Nobel Prize, that “Canada is [indeed] known for its short stories,”—and that yes, the short story is not a lesser one than its bulkier and longer novels.

It’s with great admiration and pride that I congratulate Lynn Coady on her spectacular win of this year’s Giller Prize. Her narrative voice is authentic, hilarious, harrowing, fast, and smart; and her writing, a recognizable force in today’s writing industry.

Lynn Coady, Giller Prize Winner 2013. (c) Photo from winnipegfreepress.com. All rights reserved.
Lynn Coady, Giller Prize Winner 2013. (c) Photo from winnipegfreepress.com. All rights reserved.

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It’s with great pleasure and pride to congratulate all writers shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize this year and to congratulate Ms. Coady on her win of the much-coveted prize. It seems she won’t be going to Hell any time soon.

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Have you read any of the books that were shortlisted for the Giller Prize this year?

Which book would you have chosen to win this year’s prize, if not Lynn Coady’s book “Hellgoing?”

Did you watch the Giller Prize Gala or attend a Giller Light Bash?

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Education Week: Literacy Day at School

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Education Week: Literacy Day at School

04.17.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

My eight-year-old son’s public school celebrates Education Week on an annual basis, which encourages the celebration of different parts of its curriculum and hosts community events that parents and family members are welcome to participate in during the school day.

Education Week runs from April 15-19 and my three-year-old daughter and I were privileged to attend and participate for at least two days this week at Michael’s school.

Yesterday, we sat in Michael’s Grade Three class and witnessed their celebration of Art Day! We learned about the process of making things look like they’re in the foreground and background. And when we left, Michael was working on a rainforest picture.

And today, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to visit Michael’s school because it’s Literacy Day! When it comes to reading, as a family, we’re all for it!

Here’s a picture of Michael outside the school, participating in his school’s Dance-a-thon:

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Michael in the center in the red jacket participating in the school’s Dance-a-thon! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And now, we’re on our way in! Welcome!

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Michael in his pyjamas for Pyjama Day with his favourite stuffed toy, named “Foxy!” He was SO happy to be able to bring him to school today. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And while parents weren’t permitted to take photographs in the classroom in order to protect the students as well as avoid disrupting the class, we were able to visit Michael’s school Book Fair and pick up some literary treats.

Sixty percent of purchases go back to Michael’s school, so what better way to support my son than a treat to good books, bookmarks, and erasers? While I couldn’t buy everything on their shelves, Michael made a couple of great choices:

set 1

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The Cross of Lead by Avi Crispin

The Amazing Adventure of Nate Banks: Secret Identity Crisis by Jake Bell

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set 2

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The Keys to the Kingdom: Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix

Dead and Gone by Norah McClintock

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set 3

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And we’re in much agreement with “Bite into a good book!” So much so, we had to buy two bookmarks! And I love that monster eraser. I was tempted to buy another for myself, but I figured, it’s my son’s Book Fair, not mine.

All in all, it’s been a festive Education Week. I may just pop by the School Book Fair again and pick up a couple more bookmarks and erasers (another monster one, for sure)!

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How do you participate and give back to your community through the love of books?

If you have children, did they participate in Education Week this week?

What book recommendations might you have for an eight-year-old boy? Or a three-year-old girl?

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Congratulations, Pulitzer Prize 2013 Winners!

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Congratulations, Pulitzer Prize 2013 Winners!

04.15.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

While a number of categories are represented for Pulitzer Prizes such as:

  • Public Service in Journalism
  • Breaking News Reporting
  • Explanatory Reporting
  • Local Reporting
  • National Reporting
  • International Reporting
  • Feature Writing
  • Commentary
  • Criticism
  • Editorial Writing
  • Breaking News Photography
  • General Nonfiction
  • History
  • Drama
  • Music

I will be featuring the Pulitzer winners in the following categories:

Fiction

“For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life,…” the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is:

Awarded to “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson (Random House), an exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.

– From The Pulitzer Prize 2013 Jury

orphan masters son - cvr

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An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother-a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang-and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.

– From the publisher

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Biography or Autobiography

“For a distinguished and appropriately documented biography or autobiography by an American author,…” the Pulitzer Prize winner for Biography or Autobiography is:

 Awarded to “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo,” by Tom Reiss (Crown), a compelling story of a forgotten swashbuckling hero of mixed race whose bold  exploits were captured by his son, Alexander Dumas, in famous 19th century novels.

From the Pulitzer Prize 2013 Jury

black count - cvr

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Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo – a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best-loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave — who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East – until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

– From the publisher

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Poetry

“For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author,…” the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry is:

Awarded to “Stag’s Leap,” by Sharon Olds (Alfred A. Knopf), a book of unflinching poems on the author’s divorce that examine love, sorrow and the limits of self-knowledge.

– From the Pulitzer Prize 2013 Jury

stags leap - cvr

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In this wise and intimate telling-which carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending-Sharon Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music-sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry Olds has yet given us.

– From the publisher

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Feature Photography

“For a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs,…” the Pulitzer Prize winner for Feature Photography is:

Awarded to Javier Manzano, a free-lance photographer, for his extraordinary picture, distributed by Agence France-Presse, of two Syrian rebel soldiers tensely guarding their position as beams of light stream through bullet holes in a nearby metal wall.

– From the Pulitzer Prize 2013 Jury

To view Javier Manzano’s award-winning photo, please click here.

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Have you had the privilege of reading any of the Pulitzer Prize winning books for 2013?

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! The prestigious Pulitzer Prize has been honouring excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917 and is well-deserved.

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Meet M.L. Stedman!: April 2nd at Indigo, Bay & Bloor

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Meet M.L. Stedman!

April 2nd at Indigo, Bay & Bloor

04.01.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I’m pleased to announce an exciting event happening tomorrow!

You and your bookish friends can meet M.L. Stedman who’ll be doing a talk and reading from her debut novel, The Light Between Oceans on April 2nd at Indigo’s Bay and Bloor location.

Ecard_LightBetweenOceans

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Summary from the publisher:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

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Be sure to check back at The Bibliotaphe Closet for an upcoming review of M.L. Stedman’s debut novel, The Light Between Oceans!

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Have you yet had the pleasure of reading M.L. Stedman’s debut novel?

Will you be attending M.L. Stedman’s reading tomorrow at Indigo’s Bay and Bloor location in Toronto tomorrow?

Like the character, Isabel, in the book, what lengths would you go in “having a baby” after the trauma of two miscarriages?

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Starseed Book Blast, Blog Tour & $50 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash Giveaway!

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Starseed Book Blast, Blog Tour &

$50 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash Giveaway!

03.13.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Starseed

Author: Liz Gruder

ISBN: 978-1937178291

Publisher: WiDo Publishing

Published: February 2013


SUMMARY

Kaila Guidry has always known she is different. When she meets Jordyn Stryker at school, she finds out just how different.

Jordyn was born and raised far from Earth, a starseed, one of six new students sent to Louisiana’s Bush High to learn human ways. But Jordyn didn’t count on meeting someone like Kaila.

When Kaila is pushed to her limit by high school bullying and cruelty, Jordyn awakens her to a new reality—and to love. But to prove herself, Kaila must look the other way as the real purposes of the starseeds unfold.

As the horrific plan behind the starseed visit to Earth moves inexorably forward, Kaila and Jordan, caught in an impossible love, must determine where their true loyalties lie.

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Praise

“You know from the opening paragraph that something very strange is going on… We see Kaila try to live the life of a normal teen, and we see her “otherness” pull her back into an increasingly tangled web of questions, deceit, and hidden intentions. Liz really shines as a writer, lining the closets and drawers of everyday life with spine-chilling suspense that springs out at you when you least expect it. Starseed is an entertaining read. I highly recommend.”

–Patricia B. Smith. Author “What the Animals Tell Me” and “Fifty Shades of Santa” (clean romance fiction)

“Liz Gruder’s characters come alive through youthful, spunky narrative, and her headstrong heroine, Kaila Guidry, elicits a reader’s encouragement from the first page. Fans of Amanda Hocking will find themselves similarly transported into Gruder’s exploration of the dark sides of faith, love, higher dimensions, and, of course, high school.” –Jadie Jones, young-adult fantasy author

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Purchase
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Author Liz Gruder

As a youth, Liz Gruder saw a series of UFOs with her best friend while riding bikes. Ever since, she’s held a fascination for the stars. An avid reader, she used to hide under her covers and read with a flashlight. She has degrees in English and Psychology from Tulane University, a nursing license and a yoga certification. After going through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Liz realized how short life is and is now slowly fulfilling her bucket list: she’s been to the Egyptian pyramids (totally awesome and thought provoking) and is now teaching yoga and writing speculative fiction. Starseed is her debut novel.

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Tour Schedule
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Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/7/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Enter the giveaway here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Good luck and have fun!

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A special thanks to Kathy of I Am a Reader, Not a Writer blog for hosting this book blast and tour.

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Are You Mad About Books? Good! Because It’s HCC March Madness!

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Are You Mad About Books? Good!

Because It’s HCC March Madness!

03.04.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

For book lovers everywhere, the month of March brings a lot of possibilities: from a sense of finally moving away from the drudgery of a cold, harsh winter to the hope of more sunshine (and new spring releases); to the opportunity to go on March Break to read the piles of books that have been waiting patiently on their bookshelves—and now the opportunity to not only VOTE for your favourite books in a battle of books published by HarperCollins Canada (HCC), but also WIN the entire set of 64 contenders for your very own collection!

Is HarperCollins Canada (HCC) mad?

Uh-huh.

Mad about books just as much as other book lovers are!

Mad enough to give us our say on which books should win the reigning title of Best Book for HCC March Madness.

Mad enough to host this book event for the entire month of March!

Mad enough to give out book prizes to its most enthusiastic cheerleaders!

And mad enough to award one winner the entire collection of 64 books at the end of the event!

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How mad are you about books?

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Are you mad enough to host your own book blog because you’re obsessed with reading — even though you already have a full schedule of other things to do?

Are you mad enough about books to clear your schedule to attend much-coveted book events?

Are you mad enough to wait in a two-hour line-up to meet and greet your favourite authors?

Are you mad enough to create a personal book budget—and then break it—every time you enter a book store?

Are you mad enough to remember quotes and passages from your favourite books?

Are you mad enough about books that you recognize publisher logos from afar?

Are you mad enough about books that you’re on almost every social media network with friends and followers who are primarily book lovers or are in the book industry?

Are you mad enough about books that you’ve sold your soul to Rafflecopter in the hopes of winning a copy of a book amongst thousands of other entries?

Are you mad enough about books that you often buy bookish jewellery and accessories?

Are you mad enough about books that you think of new ways to organize and re-organize your books on your shelves?

Are you mad enough about books that you find your books pretty much everywhere?

Are you mad enough about books that you look forward to time alone so that you can actually sit down and read?

Are you mad enough about books that your family and friends often come to you for advice on what to read or not to read?

Are you mad enough about books secretly dream of owning your own private library?

Are you mad enough about books that you’re a great advocate of literacy?

Are you mad enough about books that you’re genuinely pleased when you see other people reading?

Are you mad enough about books to VOTE EVERY SINGLE DAY in the HCC March Madness event?

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If you’ve said yes to most, if not all, the questions above, you’re the perfect candidate for the HCC March Madness Event!

hcc march madness

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To enter the madness, click on the button above and vote, vote, vote!

May the best book win!!

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