Tag Archives: blog event

15-Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 8

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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge:

Day 8


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


10 Things that Appeal to Me on Blogs

While today’s challenge calls for 15 things that appeal to me on blogs, I only came up with 10. Why fuss? I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to these sure-fire ways to make a blog work for me:

  1. An uncluttered, clean, and clear blog layout design.
  2. Intelligent and well-written reviews.
  3. Generous giveaways.
  4. A great sense of humour in the voice of the posts.
  5. Timely and relevant topics.
  6. Interesting photos.
  7. Blogs that are informative and educational.
  8. Original memes.
  9. Easy navigation.
  10. A blog that engages with its readers by asking relevant questions.


To see the rest of the 15-Day Book Blogger Daily Challenges, you can visit here.

What’s your top 10 list of appealing factors in blogs?


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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 7

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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge:

Day 7


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis



My Blogging Quirks

I’m kind of quirky to begin with…or maybe it’s “cooky,”—nevertheless, quirks are a familiar topic in my world. In terms of blogging, here are a few of my quirks:

1. If I can create an avatar of myself in almost every avatar application that exists, then I will.

zara wallpaper avatar

weemee zara


2. I’m a blogging meme-queen.

If I find a fun blog meme online, I participate in it. Period.

3. I create a blogging schedule for myself—and then 80% of the time, break it.

I have a hardcopy agenda book, an online calendar, a desk calendar, and a wall calendar—but it just doesn’t seem to matter.



4. I’m addicted to creating blog buttons—but only 2% of them show up on my blog. 

writing wednesday - blue border  writing wednesdays button

friday feature at the bibliotaphe closet button  fashion fridays button


5. I don’t read books as fast as I would like—or write their corresponding reviews as fast either.

Every time I begin a new book, I aspire to read it as fast as I can and then, slowly, but surely, other things get in the way of me finishing the book according to schedule. I try to shrug it off and simply enjoy the process of reading, but guilt grows like a fungus when my schedule gets all mucked up.

6. I try to take my camera with me everywhere I go, just in case I get a great shot for my blog.

My second love to books is my love for photography and my old Canon SX10IS. If I could only afford the Nikon D800!

nikon D800


7. Creating a new blog is much like a pregnancy: it takes a good nine months for it to really come into community. I currently have three blog babies: The Bibliotaphe Closet, Zara’s Makeup Box, and The Branch that Clings to the Vine—as if having one isn’t enough.

Me pregnant. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Me pregnant. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.


8. I don’t like writing my reviews unless I have a cup of coffee on hand. 

I’m not sure if I’m addicted to coffee or if I’m addicted to the act of drinking coffee. Either way, I can’t—absolutely can’t—write a review unless I have a cup of coffee with me. No coffee, no review. It’s just that simple (or quirky).

zara and hcc mug


9. Meeting authors (which is great in itself, as well as creating content for my blog) really makes me nervous and actually freaks me out.

In attendance to my very first Random House of Canada Blogger Fest, I was privileged to meet Paula Mclain, Erin Morgenstern, and Ami McKay. I talked a lot and rapidly, both signs of my nervousness (and glee).

Authors: Paula Mclain, Erin Morgenstern, Ami McKay at Random House Blog Fest, Feb. 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Authors: Paula Mclain, Erin Morgenstern, Ami McKay at Random House Blog Fest, Feb. 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


10. For each new book that I add to my personal collection, I have a very specific routine: 1. I post about it on my “Stuffing the Bibliotaphe Closet” meme. 2. I add it to my library on Goodreads 3. I add it to my TBR pile 4. I don’t usually get to it because another book distracts me.



To see the rest of the 15-Day Book Blogger Daily Challenges, you can visit here.

What are some of your blogging quirks as a blogger, if you are one?


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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 3

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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge:

Day 3


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis



My Blogging BFF’s

While I know a few great book bloggers that are great at posting anything and everything about books as well as have genuinely wonderful personalities like:

I do have one blogging friend I consider to be one of my blogging BFF’s:

Lindsay from Always a Girly Girl

Not only is she a book lover, a fellow book reviewer for Random House of Canada, and a nail polish hoarder like myself, her posts are not only fun and informative, but she’s just an all-around extroverted, fun, funny, and thoughtful person!

Me and Lindsay at Random House Blogger Fest 2013.
Me and Lindsay at Random House Blogger Fest 2013.


Who are your blogging BFF’s?


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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 2

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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge:

Day 2

My Bedtime Reading Ritual


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis



My bedtime reading ritual consists of:

1. Putting the children to bed.

2. Taking a warm shower.

3. Changing into cozy pyjamas and furry slippers.

4. Making myself a cup of tea.

5. Choosing a book to read.

6. Turning on my reading lamp.

7. Setting my tea down on my tiled coaster.

8. Sitting with my feet curled under me on the sofa bed in my reading room.

9. Opening my book.

10. Periodically sipping away at my tea while reading.

11. Depending on how good the book is or how tired I am will dictate how late I actually stay up to read.

12. If I don’t finish the book that night, I do my very best to finish a chapter so I can continue reading, beginning a new chapter the next day.

13. I check on the children sleeping.

14. I may or may not sneak in a few more pages to read.

15. I turn off my reading lamp and sneak into bed to sleep.

16. I look forward to waking up to a fresh cup of coffee and the next chance I can open up a book to read!


To see the rest of the 15-Day Book Blogger Daily Challenges, you can visit here.

What’s your bedtime reading ritual?


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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 1

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15-Day Book Blogger Challenge:

Day 1


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I subscribe to a number of book blogs that I enjoy reading and connect with book bloggers that motivate me to read, write, and also maintain writing for my own blog. Yesterday, I received my regular mail from The Passionate Bookworm and I discovered through her participation, the 15-Day Book Blogger Challenge! Here’s what the 15 days will look like:


And so it seems a great way to start this challenge is to confess—lay down the burden of my secret book-related sins. I can do that. Here we go…

My 15 Book-Related Confessions:

1. I actually prefer books in the trade paperback format, rather than hardcover—and I absolutely can’t stand mass paperback editions!

2. When I was in Grade One, teachers placed me in a special phonetics class on account that they thought I had difficulty learning how to read, write, and use proper grammar.

3. When I was teased in school for not being able to “speak English properly,” I vowed to myself that I would excel in English and one day become a writer and editor—and now I am one.

4. I didn’t own a lot of books when I was a child so I used to sneak reading comics in the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star after my parents threw the newspapers away.

5. I signed up for my first library card with my Dad when I was eight-years-old from The Chinguacousy Public Library, which opened up a new world of books to me. It was the most valuable thing in my wallet.

6. I rallied against my school librarian about students not being able to read young adult romance novels because I had read inside the cover that the books could be read by children ages 8 and up. Since then, novels such as “P.S. I Love You” were allowed to be read by my grade level and beyond.

7. I once lied to my teacher about wanting to do research in the library since I finished all my homework before the rest of my class. Because I was a straight-A student, my teacher allowed me to go without any supervision. Instead of going to the library, I left school property, went to a creek close by, and read poetry under my favourite tree.

8. Please, please, please—don’t EVER bend a page in a new book with dog ears instead of using a bookmark. It really BOTHERS me, especially if it’s a book that I own.

9. I can’t stand it when someone tells me they didn’t bother finishing a book because they didn’t like it. That’s like saying to someone, “I hate your guts,” after only one conversation. I think every book is worth reading until the end before its given a critique. Perspective can change throughout a reading and a reader won’t know the full potential of a story if he/she hasn’t read a book in its entirety.

10. I used to practice my signature and fantasize that one day I would be signing books at my own book-signing.

11. I restricted myself to only date writers, editors, and English Lit. majors while I was in university.

12. While the above is true, I was secretly in love with Michael Ondaatje, where no man I was dating at that time could compare!

13. Sometimes I get stuck on the proper spelling of the word, “rhythm.” I know, just shoot me.

14. I enjoy collecting bookmarks and old photographs that I find in old books that I buy. I always wonder who has and how many has read the book before it has come into my hands.

15. I don’t like reading unless I’m wearing my gold and silver rings. Weird? Yes. True? Very.


To see the rest of the 15-Day Book Blogger Daily Challenges, you can visit here.

What are your bookish confessions?


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2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge


2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This will be my first time joining a TBR Pile Reading Challenge so it really will be a New Year for me!

If you’re a book blogger like myself, you most likely already have a To-Be-Read/Reviewed (TBR) Pile collecting more than dust—yes, that’s right—it’s most likely collecting more books!

I have quite a pile that still continues to grow, so I’m hoping to chisel it down and work towards reading some great titles that I can review for my faithful readers.

And why not use those towards winning some great prizes, too? The 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge will allow me to do just that!

Here’s my current TBR pile (and with a month left to go until the end of the year, I’m hoping to finish some titles before 2013):

  • Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
  • Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
  • The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry
  • Interrupted by Rachel Coker
  • Waiting for the Monsoon by Threes Anna
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • Absolution by Patrick Flanery
  • Touch by Alexi Zentner
  • Magnified World by Grace O’Connell
  • Above All Things by Tanis Rideout
  • We Are Not in Pakistan by Shauna Singh Baldwin
  • Battleborn Claire Vaye Watkins
  • 13 by Kelley Armstrong
  • A World Elsewhere by Wayne Johnston
  • The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
  • The World by Bill Gaston
  • The Selector of Souls by Shauna Singh Baldwin
  • The Magic of Saida by M.G. Vassanji
  • Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon
  • Dear Life by Alice Munro
  • Mister Roger and Me by Marie-Renee Lavoie
  • Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
  • Carnival by Rawi Hage
  • Husk by Corey Redekop
  • Monsieur by  Emma Becker
  • Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
  • Buddy, How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man by Brian McGrory
  • The Great One: The Complete Wayne Gretzky Collection
  • The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
  • Lost & Found by Tom Winter
  • The Deleted World by Tomas Transtromer
  • Sugar Zone by Mary Mackey
  • Love Calls and Roundelays by WYN
  • Tears for Nanertak by Skip Hofstrand
  • Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo


I’ll be signing up for A FRIENDLY HUG level (11-20 books) and hope to move up in ranking as the year progresses.


Challenge Guidelines:

  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013.
  • Anyone can enter! You don’t have to be a blogger, as long as you review the book you’ve read! (On your blog, Amazon or Goodreads/Shelfari!)
  • Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2012 and earlier! NO 2013 ARCs and 2013 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge.
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  • On the 20th of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have its unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It’s open to INTERNATIONALS. The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month) 
  • If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice – we will be checking 😉
  • December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you’ll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway- a box of books.
  • You don’t have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!


1-10 – A Firm Handshake

11-20 – A Friendly Hug

21-30 – A Sweet Kiss

31-40 – Love At First Sight

41-50 – Married With Children


January 20th: Evie @Bookish (www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com)

February 20th: Rachel @Fiktshun (http://www.fiktshun.com)

March 20th: Justin @Justin’s Book Blog (http://www.justinsbookblog.com/)

April 20th: Tiffany @Escaping.. One Book At A Time (http://escapingonebookatatime.blogspot.com/)

May 20th: Bonnie @Words At Home (www.wordsathome.ca/)

June 20th: Justin @Justin’s Book Blog (http://www.justinsbookblog.com/)

July 20th: Emily @Doodle’s Book Blog (http://doodlesbookblog.blogspot.com/)

August 20th: Tiffany @Escaping One Book At A Time (http://escapingonebookatatime.blogspot.com/)

September 20th: Rachel @Fiktshun (http://www.fiktshun.com)

October 20th: Emily @Doodle’s Book Blog (http://doodlesbookblog.blogspot.com/)

November 20th: Bonnie @Words At Home (www.wordsathome.ca/)

December 20th: This one will be posted on all the blogs. There will also be a huge BOX OF BOOKS giveaway and this time you can link up ALL YOUR TBR Pile REVIEWS you wrote for the entire month!

Make sure to include the button (as shown at the top of this post) somewhere on your blog if you sign up using the linky found here.

Good luck and let’s shrink our TBR piles down!
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Book Blast: First Time by Samuel Ben White Giveaway for $50 Amazon GC or PayPal Cash

Book Blast:

First Time by Samuel Ben White

Giveaway for $50 Amazon GC or PayPal Cash


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This blog tour and book blast is hosted by Kathy of I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. A special thanks goes out to her for her organization and for giving me a spot on the tour!


Category: Fiction

Author: Samuel Ben White

Format: Paperback, 404 pages

Publisher: Imprint Books

ISBN: 978-1-591-0946-54

Pub Date: September 26, 2002


Book Summary

“What if history didn’t happen that way … the first time?”

Garison Fitch was one of the most revered scientists in the Soviet Americas until he left fame behind to work on a secret project in his log cabin in the mountains of Marx.

But something went wrong. Instead of traveling interdimentionally, Garison has traveled through time … twice.

Now, he’s in something called “The United States of America” and a woman he’s never met before is calling herself his wife. It it a hoax? Or, has he somehow changed history?

If so, can he return the world to what he believes is “normal”, or must he live in this strange world he created?


Sam continues to weave his magic as a storyteller. I always find myself anxious to find out what will happen next and what kind of twist will befall the adventurers. It helps to be familiar with the places that the heroines go, which adds to the story.

~Labdaddy, Texas

I’ve had a few very unproductive but enjoyable days thanks to Samuel Ben White. If you haven’t read Sam’s books you have been missing a treat. These were funny, suspenseful, spiritual and kept you turning the pages.

~Karen S.

Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your books. I have a Kindle and I have purchased all of the Garison Fitch novels. I am in Saudi Arabia and your books have really helped take me away from here.

~Scott, Saudi Arabia


Also Part of the Series:

Saving Time

Two years ago Garison Fitch traveled through time and rewrote history. An accident in the eighteenth century created a whole new world, and even gave Garison a wife he had never met before. Now, he’s got a daughter and he’s coming to enjoy this world he created. Until he’s attacked by men masquerading as Indians, and a funeral procession from out of the past enlists his help, and a tree grows from sappling to full-grown in a matter of minutes, threatening his daughter’s very life. Time itself is unraveling and Garison’s trips through time seem to be the cause. Garison must go back in time once again and keep himself from making the original trip that started the problem. But he can’t use his time machine to go back. How does one sew up a rip in time?

Lost Time
Jason Kerrigan and Brownwyn Dalmouth are pilots with the Republic of Texas Army Air Corps. A world war is going on and bombs have just brought an end to Crockett Air Field in south Texas. Jason and Bronwyn, though, are called away from the battle to be test pilots for a new aircraft that-they’re told-will bring the war to an end. The experimental craft lives up to expectations in early tests, but then it lands them somewhere it never should have sent them. Another place? Another time? Another dimension? Somehow, they’ve taken a trip to the future and changed the past. Or did they? The answer to their change of reality may be known to a Justice of the Peace in Colorado named Garison Fitch. To figure it out, though, Garison may have to team up with his least favorite person: Bat Garrett.


Author Samuel Ben White

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the national newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at http://www.tuttles.net) and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at http://www.destinyhelix.com). He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as both a minister at a small church and a chaplain with hospice. In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.


Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Ends 12/18/12

Open to anyone 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’s permission. 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. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch Tour Schedule


If you had the opportunity to time travel, where and when would you go and why?


Review Copy Wipeout Blog Event!

Review Copy Wipeout Blog Event!


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

The Book Monsters blog is hosting the Review Copy Wipeout blog event that began October 1st and will last until December 31st.

The goal?

To read as many of your remaining 2012 review pile as you can.

I’m in!

My review pile has exceeded my expectations, my reading, and my bookshelf space. And so, like many others, I’ve decided to join in on this much needed blog event.

My review pile list can be found here on Pinterest (and trust me, it continues to grow and burst at the seams of my shelves!).

Why don’t you join me and hack away at your overgrown TBR pile?


Have you ever caught up with your TBR pile? If so, how did you do it? (Because I’d love some tips!)


Random House of Canada’s Olympic Readathon: July 27-August 12

Random House of Canada’s Olympic Readathon:

July 27-August 12


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


For most of us push-ups, weight-lifts, or cardio runs seem all too exhausting. But, that’s why we’re not participating in the Summer Olympics in London, which is scheduled to air on July 27—and those brave and disciplined few have been called to represent the best athletic prowess of their country.


So, why not join them in spirit and participate in the Random House of Canada’s Olympic Readathon instead?

There are a few of us willing to endure late-night reading under lamplight until our eyes bulge out of their sockets from cover and climax reveals, to swoon-worthy, fictional characters, and plot-driven, maddening page-turners. We do it anyway. Why not commit to participating alongside other avid readers and knock off some titles from your TBR list?


My To-Be-Read/Reviewed List has ballooned to epic proportions and my house is exploding with piles that are collecting dust. I trust if you’re an addicted book blogger or just a mad book collector, the same is true for you. So, why not put your bookmarks away and get reading?


The Random House of Canada Readathon will run from July 27 to August 12, which gives you a lot of time to flex those reading muscles of yours. To sign up, you can register here. And be sure to check out the Retreat Random House blog page from which the original post was written.


@RandomHouseCA will be using the hashtag #OlympicReadathon to chat about our progress on Twitter, so be sure to join and tell your friends and family to cheer you on or come out and participate.

Twitter Bird…tweet, tweet, tweet!


Until then, I’ll be scrounging my piles to see what goodies I’ll be getting into for the readathon. See you at the Start—and hopefully, the Finish Line!


Are you a fan of the Olympics? Do you plan on keeping track of this year’s events?

Will you be participating in the Random House of Canada’s Olympic Readathon?



A Review: Hey Canada! Blog Tour


A Review: Hey Canada! Blog Tour


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category:  Description and travel, Juvenile Literature

Author: Vivien Bowers

Illustrations by: Milan Pavlovic

Format: Hardcover, 74 pages

Publisher: Tundra Books

ISBN: 978-1-77049-255-4

Pub Date: May 8, 2012


It doesn’t matter if you’re Canadian or not, this book, Hey Canada! is going to make you smile. And if you’re a blogger, you might even smile more!

The book is narrated by nine-year-old Alice who’s “writing [a] blog on Gran’s netbook,” about her coast-to-coast trip across Canada with Gran, her grandmother, her cousin, Cal, and their pet hamster.

The story moves from each province, starting in Newfoundland and travelling through each province and territory, outlining key places and facts about its culture, cultural sites, monuments, landmarks, history, nature and climate, animals, and geography—pretty much anything and everything, a potpourri of Canadian, encyclopaedic information—but it’s done in such a way that it’s both educational as well as fun to read for both children and adults.

It incorporates photography, cartoon graphics, and great sidebars that are both creative and fun, which include:

  • a Find It box that lists things you can find in each province
  • Cal’s Tweets
  • Hamster Updates
  • Cal’s Factoids

There’s even a periodical comic strip featured as Cal’s Historical U-Turn that explains a little background history explaining founders and origins for each province!

This book is a lot more than I expected it to be where it happily combines the realism of photographs to show the true context of key places and artefacts within each province along with the cartoon graphics of the book’s characters who, in their excited narrative, carry us, story-wise, from coast-to-coast.

Its humour and its layout is what makes this book a great grab. Because of the way it’s written and laid out, the reader can read the book from beginning to end, page-to-page, or randomly pick tidbits out and still thoroughly learn and enjoy new information about Canada and its provinces.

It’s also written in a narrative that children will understand and connect with while at the same time remain informative and entertaining to both children and adults.

Hey Canada! is a fun, creative, and informative book that reads like the adventure it claims and the discovery it promotes and would be a great addition to any personal library.


Zara’s Rating


For more information, you’re more than welcome to visit the author and illustrator’s websites here:

Vivien Bowers
Milan Pavlovic
And guess what? Cousin Cal has his own Twitter account!
Tweet, tweet, tweet!


You can follow him and read his fun facts about Canada, here.
There’s also a Twitter list that can help you track the Hey Canada! Blog Tour. Check out the hastag #HeyCanada for posts, too.

And it gets better!

You could win a copy of the book on Goodreads so be sure to sign-up and enter!
If you were to travel across Canada on a road trip, what places might you want to travel to the most?