Tag Archives: reviews

2015: A Fresh Start for the Bibliotaphe Closet

January 12. 2015

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

It seems the doors of the Bibliotaphe Closet have been shut for about a month without much of an explanation from me. That’s what happens when you lose your keys, or in my case, a handle on a reading and writing schedule that worked quite effectively until I unexpectedly picked up a new obsession—pretty stationery, washi tape, mail art, snail mail, and penning letters.

After I agreed to an interview and feature on the Penpal of the Week website as well as having won a free three-month membership to the League of Extraordinary Penpals (LEP), a warm and active online community; I have quickly transformed from an occasional letter-writing penpal to approximately three correspondents to a fully engaged writer and snail mail addict who has unbelievably gained the interest of 50+ penpals within Canada, the U.S.A., and around the world.

Translation —> You will most likely find me in a paper craft store running for the bins that carry a myriad of pretty stationery sets, peony notecards and notebooks, a slew of rubber stamps, kawaii stickers, and an uncertain amount of decorative washi tape, sticky notes, and planner inserts.

Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


I have gone so far as to:

  • create my own envelopes and postcards
  • renovate my study into a small craft room that now stores all my snail mail and mail art supplies
  • install hooks into the wall to display my washi tape
  • create my own midori planners and journals based on a number of YouTube instructional videos
  • buy my own digital shipping scale to weigh my mail packages by the gram
  • memorize postage rates by domestic, US, and international locations
  • bribe “Santa” for a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with a fine nib
  • visit my mailbox on a strict rotation of three hours to check for incoming deliveries
  • and carry my mail, blank stationery, and pens with me everywhere I go just in case I have time to pen a letter
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


That said, books and reading are still very much on my priority list. One does not usually forget their first love. But, as people grow, interests, too, tend to expand and develop (at least that’s what I tell myself since books have been left on the shelf).

With that in mind, I also hope to post stories about snail mail, mail art, and paper crafts on this blog. I may even have to consider revamping my blog’s site name, but I haven’t decided yet.

But, for starters, I encourage readers to set realistic reading goals for the year. This can be easily done through the HarperCollins of Canada 50 Book Pledge Program online, which acts as a database and personal tracker for a large reading community through a “To Be Read,” “Read,” and “Wish List” bookshelves.

As a preview, the first few books I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015 are:

Alphabetique by Molly Peacock



The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

strange library


Little White Lies by Katie Dale

little white lies


The Jaguar’s Children by John Valliant

jaguars children


If I Fall, I Die by Michael Christie

if i fall i die


Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

vanessa and her sister


While I suspected there would be time during the holidays to read, write, and even pen letters, there was instead a perpetual food binge and all forms of lively procrastination.

The New Year rolled itself in and just last week I celebrated my 40th—cough—birthday! (But, more on that in another post.)

Regardless, now that it’s 2015, I’m happy to reconsider some new personal goals and resolutions, as well as give The Bibliotaphe Closet a contextual renovation and a clean, fresh start.

Here’s to more reading—and writing in the New Year!


What are your reading goals for 2015?


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Top 10 Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

1.  The act of reading itself.

While the daily routine of my life has a number of things I must consider and complete, reading is and has been a constant source of comfort and solace. To escape into a fictional world through language and one’s imagination through the act of reading is an empowering privilege.

The Little Book Club: My children reading. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The Little Book Club: My children reading. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


2.  The opportunity to share and showcase my personal thoughts and responses to what I read—and perhaps influence the reading community.

The genesis of my blogging began with a collection of journal entries I had originally written and kept for myself. Now, more than 535 posts later, my reviews have a home and an audience for those most interested in literature.

3. To actively advocate the gift of literacy.

The joy and freedom I have enjoyed in my own reading is something I am very passionate about sharing with others. Literacy is not only a gift and a privilege, but what I believe to be an essential stepping stone in education and living a richer and fuller life.

4.  The ability to self-publish.

As a creative writer, I’ve always been pleased to see my work in print. To be able to self-publish is another avenue in which I can enjoy sharing my work with others—even if it takes the form of personal interest stories and book reviews.

5. To have autonomy over my own blog and writing space online.

To create and own a small space online dedicated to the act of reading, writing, and communicating with a community who loves books is not only enjoyable, but empowering.

6. The opportunity to chat with, interview, or meet authors about their work.

To connect with those who are responsible for the work that I love is an absolute privilege.

7. To be a part of the larger reading and writing community.

There is comfort and camaraderie in meeting others who share my love of reading, writing, and book blogging especially since reading is such an introverted act.

8. To be an active part of the publishing community in marketing great books.

 To be associated with publishing houses that help create and share literature with the world is also a privilege and gives me a greater sense of community.

9. The privilege of receiving free galleys, ARCs, or books on a periodical basis.

As a book lover, who doesn’t love receiving free books from time to time in exchange for honest reviews?

10. Taking pride in nurturing a growing, personal book collection.

So far, I have 12 large bookcases and a number of books scattered around my house in happy piles. Book blogging not only motivates me to read more, but to add more books to my ever-growing, personal collection.


Are you a book blogger? If so, what do you love most about it?

If not, have you ever considered being a book blogger or blogging about something else entirely?

If you have a blog or are thinking about starting one, what is it about?


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Review Copy Clean-Up 3.0 Sign-Ups

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Review Copy Clean-Up 3.0



By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

review copy cleanup 3 - feb 2013


What is the Review Copy Clean-Up?

The Review Copy Clean-Up is a month-long event in which we book bloggers have the opportunity to challenge themselves to read as many review books as they possibly can. If you’re an avid book lover and blogger like myself, I’m almost 90% sure, you, too, have accepted too many review requests that are simply sitting on your TBR pile collecting dust because you’re collecting much faster than you are reading! Am I right? This is where a great event like Review Copy Clean-Up comes in.


  • Review Copy Cleanup 3.0 runs from 1 to 28 February
  • It starts and ends at midnight in your local timezone to avoid confusion
  • To sign up, just fill in the linky below. Link to your sign up post directly, please! The linky is the same for both of the hosts’ blog, so you only have to sign up once.
  • The linky will close on the 15th, so make you sign up before then.
  • When you post your sign up post on your blog, either include the challenge button with your post or link it back to this article so that people know where to sign up. Thanks! (:
  • Every book you received for review counts towards the challenge, both e-books and hard copies (even audio books for review if you have those), including all genres and lengths.
  • Feel free to use the #RCCleanup hashtag on Twitter for your RCC related tweets or join the Twitter party at http://tweetchat.com/room/RCCleanup and meet lots of awesome bloggers.
  • At the end of every week the hosts will post their personal updates, and include a linky for you to add yours!
  • To sign-up, click on the banner above!


A special thanks to the hosts Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Tea and Celine @ Nyx Book Reviews!

Good luck and have fun!


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