Tag Archives: Nicole Lundrigan

Word on the Street Toronto 2013

 

 

word on the street toronto logo

Word on the Street Toronto 2013

09.23.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

If you’re a book lover and live in the GTA, you most likely visited the Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival in Toronto on Sunday. It’s an annual explosion of book extravaganza that features a number of book publishers, literary journals, authors, readings, and book signings. You can even get great book discounts and free goodies just for passing by.

My husband, and I, and our two young children visited last year’s event and had a blast. This year, since it was our wedding anniversary last weekend, we both decided to venture out alone without the kids (not to worry, they went to a party).

We drove to Etobicoke and jumped on the subway line to zoom through dark tunnels to reach Museum Station, a hop and a skip away from Queen’s Park, the annual host of Word on the Street in Toronto.

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We passed a number of white tents filled with books and bookish goodies, but we also passed some great book characters along the way:

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Sophia the Wise of the Kids Think About It book series. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Sophia the Wise of the “Kids Think About It” book series. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Arthur hosting the Canadian Book Bank. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Arthur hosting the Canadian Book Bank. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The Canadian Book Bank is a great non-profit organization that collects donated books and creates space for children to read and pick a book of their very own for free to take home. It not only encourages literacy, it provides children with books they love. If you have an opportunity, please drop by to either donate books or take your children for some quality time to read and explore.

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Lucy, book booth guard dog, NOT mascot! A sweet and shy pup who "kept the riff-raff away," as described by the booth host. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Lucy, book booth guard dog, NOT mascot! A sweet and shy pup who “kept the riff-raff away,” as described by her booth host. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Thanks to Lucy, a sweet and shy pup who “kept the riff-raff away,” as described by her booth host. She was the book booth guard, not a mascot—and a pleasure to meet.

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And in lieu of Hobbit Day (which was indeed September 22), the popular book was also featured at the festival.

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The Hobbit bean bag game. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The Hobbit bean bag game. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We were wistful in seeing this and secretly wished our kids were with us. They would have loved a shot at playing this!

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And of course, we dropped by the Penguin Random House Remarkable Reads Tent to support writers. (We arrived at 10:45 a.m., so we were early enough to catch this!)

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Penguin Random House Reading Tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Penguin Random House Reading Tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Marthe Jocelyn, author of "Sneaky Art." (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Marthe Jocelyn, author of “Sneaky Art.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Since my husband and I arrived extra early to the Word on the Street Festival, we caught a presentation by Marthe Jocelyn, author of a fun, craft book called Sneaky Art. Better than that, we were also able to participate in making a craft of our own: a paper cupcake. Simple? Yes. Fast? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. I brought my craft home and look forward to showing my kids how to make one, too. (I also love baking cupcakes, so this craft was right up my alley.)

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My cupcake craft. Made at Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My cupcake craft. Made at Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We were also able to hear Katrina Onstad, author of Everybody Has Everything, read from her novel that was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. (And when my husband and I went to Tim Horton’s for lunch, I ran into her in the ladies’ washroom! I’m not kidding.)

Katrina Onstad reading from "Everybody Has Everything." 2013 Toronto Book Awards Finalist and longlisted title for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Katrina Onstad reading from “Everybody Has Everything.” 2013 Toronto Book Awards Finalist and longlisted title for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We were also able to catch a glimpse of David Macfarlane read from his book, The Figures of Beauty. His memoir, The Danger Tree, won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Non-Fiction and his novel Summer Gone was nominated for the Giller Prize and won the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Bravo!

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David Macfarlane reading from "The Figures of Beauty" in the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
David Macfarlane reading from “The Figures of Beauty” in the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And I was absolutely thrilled to hear Nicole Lundrigan read from her new book, The Widow Tree. I loved her book, The Glass Boys (you can see my review here), and recommend her highly. What a wonderful writer and a lovely lady. It was such a pleasure to meet her in person.

Nicole Lundrigan reading from "The Widow Tree." (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Nicole Lundrigan reading from “The Widow Tree.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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But, because my husband and I had booked a canoe trip that same afternoon, we were unable to stay the entire day for the festival. We were, however, able to pick up a lot of S.W.A.G. (Something We All Got) in the form of book bags, posters, brochures, bookmarks, and buttons. (I picked up A LOT of buttons!)

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SWAG from Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
SWAG from Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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I entered a few raffles, signed every petition Amnesty International laid out on their table, chatted with booth hosts, and even bought some very inexpensive books! One of my favourites that I’ve been waiting to buy and was able to get at the Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival was:

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"The Free World" by David Bezmozgis. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved,
“The Free World” by David Bezmozgis. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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I also want to thank the Ontario Teachers’ Federation for their generous supply of goodies for teachers, parents, and kids! I didn’t grab everything, but I certainly wanted to!

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SWAG (in buttons and more) from The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival in Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
SWAG (in buttons and more) from The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival in Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And in support of Word on the Street (as well as my addiction to coffee and reading), I purchased a WOTS mug and only for the very affordable price of $5.00. (If you know me or follow my blog posts, you’ll know that I’m also an avid mug collector and a collector of anything bookish—so this goodie was a double-whammy!)

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My "Reading is always in style" mug in support of Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D, Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My “Reading is always in style” mug in support of Word on the Street Toronto 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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If you missed this year’s event, be sure to visit Queen’ Park next fall. Word on the Street is free and accessible to the public.

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Did you visit Word on the Street in Toronto this year?

If so, which authors were you able to see and listen to?

What books did you get this year from the festival?

What was your favourite part of Word on the Street in Toronto 2013?

What else would you like to see at Word on the Street?

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zara bird autograph

Top Ten Tuesday! 06.05.2012

Top 10 Tuesday!

06.05.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez /@ZaraAlexis

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is Rewind, which means I get to go back in topic time and pick my own Top 10 list. This is my first time participating in this meme and lucky me, I landed on the day of ultimate blogger freedom (as memes go, anyway).

So, I’m going to go a little easy, dab my toe into the pond of Top 10-ish things and choose…

Topic #16: Favourite Authors

Yeah, yeah. Stop rolling your eyes, sighing, and mumbling to yourself, Borrr-rrring…

As readers, I believe it’s important to honour our writers. They are the ones who birth the words into print and give us our stories. Where would all the books we love come from if it wasn’t for our beloved scribes?

I weeded my list down to those I find are exceptional in the Canadian and American literary fiction and poetry genre—writers with a natural gift for the language and a true depth in storytelling.

I guarantee you that if you pick up a book written by one of the authors listed below, it is 98% most likely that the work is at the very least well written, if not brilliant.

And I don’t give my praise that easily. I’m not only a fickle reader; I have a background in writing (and editing), too! Uh-huh, I do. I’m no Billy Shakespeare, but I pride myself in knowing a little about literature.

Yes, tastes vary. But, there’s a great divide between good taste and bad taste. And well— like to eat.

Let’s compare lists shall we?

My Top 10 Favourite Authors:

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1. Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

Her noteworthy books include:

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Her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into film of the same name. My favourite of her work is The Namesake, both in literature and the adapted film. (Aside from her obvious successful literary career, isn’t she just gorgeous, too?) You can read my review of Interpreter of Maladies here.

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2. Mark Strand

Mark Strand

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My favourite collection of his poetry is Blizzard of One, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The style of his work is…stark. He is not a poet at heart—but a true poet, a scribe who is able to decipher the world of subtlety with the stroke of his pen—which is further solidified by his Pulitzer Prize.

BLIZZARD OF ONE by Mark Strand. Pulitzer Prize winner.

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3. Elizabeth Hay

Elizabeth Hay

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Her body of work has won acclaim and the great respect of Canadian literature enthusiasts in her award-winning book, Late Nights on Air, which won the Giller Prize in 2007. I also recently enjoyed her latest novel, Alone in the Classroom. You’re more than welcome to read my review here.

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4. Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

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The iconic Ms. Atwood has enough press. If you don’t know “Peggy,” you’re just not well-read. Sorry. but ’tis true. My favourite poetry collection by Margaret Atwood is her collection in The Door. And of course, I absolutely love her dystopian series: The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake. With an exhaustive body of work, it’s difficult to choose her most prominent and most beloved work.

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5. Barbara Gowdy

Barbara Gowdy

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I was privileged enough in university to be introduced to Barbara Gowdy personally by my poetry professor, Christopher Dewdney (who also happens to be her partner!) at a reading at Calumet College of her novel, The White Bone. She is as beautiful as she is gifted—and a woman of a quiet confidence and grace.

My favourite works by Ms. Gowdy are: The Romantic, We So Seldom Look on Love (a collection of short stories), and Mr. Sandman. 

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6. Don Delillo

Don Delillo

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The moment I opened up The Body Artist by Don Delillo, I knew I discovered another master of the language. His works are a great telling of the American culture and subculture.

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7. Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini

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Yes, the film, The Kite Runner was wonderful—but it couldn’t be so without its originating novel by Khaled Hosseini. And though sequels tend to take the “back-burner” to their originals, A Thousand Splendid Suns was just as “splendid.” Khaled Hosseini is a writer at the height of his craft.

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8. Michael Ondaatje

MIchael Ondaatje

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I’ve been a devout fan of Michael Ondaatje’s work since I was a teenager, which was partially due to his sensual and thoughtful poetry—and I must confess—his eyes! Please don’t hold it against me. I’ve enjoyed many of his works and most recently, Divisadero and The Cat’s Table, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2011. You can read my review on The Cat’s Table here.

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9. Nicole Lundrigan

Nicole Lundrigan

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I won an early review title of the book, The Glass Boys through the book database and social media site, Goodreads—and I’m so glad I did. The Glass Boys introduced me to a writer of taut creativity, sensitivity, and talent. Nicole Lundrigan may not have the accolades that some of her peers do, which only makes her a hidden gem of an author.  My review of The Glass Boys can be read here.

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10. Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman

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THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman

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I was unaware of Alice Hoffman before my experience with The Dovekeepers, which now happens to be one of my favourite novels of all time. Yes, that’s a heavy attestation, but I stand firm in my faith in her work. The Dovekeepers had just the right poetic prose, drama, and historical fiction for the literary world to notice and for me to love. The Dovekeepers remains to me, a beautiful narrative of the empowered woman and the Jewish culture.

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Thanks to The Broke and the Bookish, who began and continues to host the Top Tuesday meme.

How does your Top 10 Favourite Authors list compare to mine?

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Book Review: Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan

Book Review:

Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan

12.11.2011

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

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Category: Fiction

Author: Nicole Lundrigan

Format: Trade Paperback, 304 pages

Publisher: Douglas & Macintyre

ISBN: 978-1553657972

Pub Date: July 29, 2011

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As a reviewer, I feel much like the character Wilda Burry when, “[h]er head wavered slightly, [her] lids lowered, and she whispered, ‘I don’t even know how to begin.'”

Because really, this novel by Nicole Lundrigan is rich with storytelling and family history between the Trench and Fagan families, which at its heart is the core and drama of the book.

The characters, though broken by the altering affects of their relationships, are fiercely honest both in mannerism and dialogue that soon, you as the reader, develop an ease through Lundrigan’s well-paced writing to surely and eventually feel affection for even the worst of the characters and the trouble and darkness that haunts and lies within them.

The chapters, too, end with stark passages that the prose fiction itself transpires into the stuff of poems and wonderful imagery.

There is much to enjoy in the landscape of Newfoundland, in its dialect, and in these characters. Though most, if not all, are left with emotional scarring, heavy blueprints of tangled and complicated pasts, Lundrigan’s writing is neither obtuse nor jarring. And though she covers a span of difficult and sensitive subject matter, she does so with serious, tender pen strokes.

What I thoroughly enjoyed was the precise unravelling of the plot, the depiction and the context of strong brotherly love and Lundrigan’s ability as a female writer to write her male characters so convincingly well.

It is a hidden gem of a novel, filled with dark lusts and perversions, displacement and yearning, recollection and reconciliation if not only with others, but oneself, and is bewitchingly hopeful amongst a long line of tragedy, which should catapult Nicole Lundrigan as an author to where she rightly deserves to be: highly acclaimed and on every bookshelf!

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Zara’s Rating

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