Tag Archives: Vincent Lam

Did You Hear the WORD ON THE STREET, Toronto? I DID!

Did You Hear THE WORD ON THE STREET, Toronto? I DID!

09.23.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

It was a fantastic book and magazine festival in Toronto yesterday. Queen’s Park was strewn with white tents filled with books, authors, publishers, and registered charities all advocating literacy and a crowd of avid readers and writers that visited each tent with a buzzing fervour.

I was so glad to be able to get there relatively early at 11:30 a.m and make it a fun, full day for the family. We actually left Queen’s Park at 5:00 p.m.

Here are some of the highlights of the festival that made our experience worthwhile:

The WOTS 2012 Enthusiasts at The Clarica Centre at Islington Station on the way to downtown, Queen’s Park.

***

For those of you who don’t know, this is on site where I used to work as an editorial assistant for UCPH! I used to walk these halls with a coffee in my hand, readying myself for an upcoming Resource Coordination meeting. And here I am, now, with my kids on a weekend ready for the adventure of The Word on the Street at Queen’s Park! Let’s go!

The Simon & Schuster Canada Tent.

***

Simon and Schuster Canada

And what tent did we hit right out of the Queen’s Park subway Station? One of my favourite publishers that I just started to review books for: Simon & Schuster Canada! And while my children scored Olivia the Pig tiaras, I bought super-cheap, but super-great books:

“The Taker” by Alma Katsu published by Simon & Schuster Canada.

***

And while the kids missed seeing Olivia the Pig, in “pig-son,” they weren’t ashamed to show-off their Olivia paper tiaras. Here’s Michael helping Mercedes adjust her crown.

The kids fixing their Olivia the Pig paper crowns from Simon and Schuster Canada.

***

First Book Canada

And how timely it was that one of our first stops was the registered book charity, First Book Canada. I had a conversation with Wayne Cochrane, Director of Operations, who told me about their great work in putting new books in the hands of children from low-income families. Today alone at The Word on the Street, First Book Canada was able to distribute 750,000 books alone! That’s exciting, especially if you’re a true advocate of literacy. I certainly am! For more information on how you can help foster literacy through First Book Canada, be sure to visit their website.

The First Books Canada tent. A great book charity with the aim to get new books to children from low-income families. Wayne Cochrane, Director of Operations, and children’s author, Helaine Becker.

***

Helaine Becker, author of The Haunted House That Jack Built

And while I chatted with Wayne, my husband took the children to meet the children’s author, Helaine Becker who graciously inscribed her book to Michael and Mercedes while Michael turned extremely shy at meeting his very first “author” in person that he could barely speak when she asked him his name!

Michael and Mercedes’ first book signed by an author! THE HAUNTED HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT by Helaine Becker, illustrated by David Parkins.

***

Dani Couture

At the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent, we took the time to listen to Dani Couture read a few passages from her novel, Algoma.

Dani Couture reading a few passages from her book, ALGOMA.

***

And since it was still early in the afternoon, we, like the book enthusiasts of Toronto and the GTA, excitedly walked the streets of the festival to find our next great book!

Walking through the WOTS 2012 festival.

***

The Penguin Pavilion

Another great highlight at the festival was dropping by The Penguin Pavilion where I chatted with a WOTS volunteer about the work surrounding the planned event. She was helpful, and patient, and like much of the event itself, positive, and energetic! She was even kind enough to let me take a picture of her shirt! Thanks to all the volunteers who stood for hours, passing around pamphlets, maps, and answering excited festival-goers’ questions.

***

And because Penguin Books of Canada is an awesome publisher, they gave out AMAZING goodies to those who tweeted promos about Penguin at WOTS. And I tell you, I’m glad I stopped by. (OF COURSE, I’D STOP BY! I review books for Penguin Books of Canada!).

Thank you, Penguin Books! I absolutely LOVE my new Classics Penguin tote bag, my Classic Penguin mug (The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells), and my bookmarks, stickers, and posters!

Penguin Books of Canada SWAG!

***

A great poster of Zadie Smith`s new release: N.W., published by Penguin Books.

***

Penguin Classics mug: THE INVISIBLE MAN by H.G. Wells.

***

Chef Mark McEwan

And then we dropped in on Chef Mark McEwan speak about his work as a Food Network TV host and his books, Great Food at Home and Fabbrica.

Chef Mark McEwan

***

With all this book love and excitement, even the best of us have to take a break. Here’s the gang taking a rest with Bear Paw snacks and juice boxes before our next tent hop.

***

David Suzuki

And it appears, I’m not the only author groupie around! Here’s my daughter, Mercedes, checking the Author Signing Tour Schedule for details. And because she’s so smart and is a green activist like Mommy, she just happens to be pointing at David Suzuki’s time slot.

Mercedes checking out the Author Signing Schedule. She’s keen on meeting authors, too, like her Mommy!

***

Here are other tents we visited:

Book Thug.

***

I was happy to see Book Thug at WOTS. I happily subscribe to their email for updates on their latest news of excellent literary work.

This Is Not the Shakespeare Stage Tent

***

House of Anansi

***

House of Anansi T-shirt.

***

I was happy to see one of the other publishers I review for at WOTS: House of Anansi. And “A List” is right! P.S. I WANT THAT “A List” t-shirt!

The Remarkable Reads Tent (Random House of Canada)

The Remarkable Reads Tent, Random House of Canada.

***

I dropped by the very popular Remarkable Reads Tent hosted by my friends at Random House of Canada. I kept my eye out for one of my favourite marketing teams: Lindsey and Cass, but didn’t catch them as I was thoroughly distracted by the number of speakers, readings, and books were on hand at the festival! Missed you guys!

I did, however, catch some author sightings and while I couldn’t see everyone I had hoped to see, to see one author in person is more than a book lover and blogger, and author groupie like myself could ask for.

Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak, author of the new release, THE WINTER PALACE.

***

And if it wasn’t talented and famous authors to swoon at, it was every other kind of “bird.” Especially this one! She was promoting The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood at the Nightwood Theatre. She was good enough to pose for me in all her feathered glory! (Do you see what we do for you, Margaret Atwood?)

I love theatre! I love drama! I even love Margaret Atwood! But, I absolutely love The Word on the Street!

***

Megan Crewe

And before I forget my YA followers and readers, can you guess who I saw at WOTS? Megan Crewe, author of the YA book, The Way We Fall, published by Hachette Book Group Canada.

Megan Crewe, author of YA novel. THE WAY WE FALL.

***

And for even our younger readers, I wanted to share the buzz of the Kid Street Festival! Literacy can and should start at a young age. And to be able to see the joy of my own children reading makes me nostalgic of when I, too, fell in love with books for the very first time.

Though Michael and Mercedes were unable to snatch a Hobbit poster like most of the children, they were more than happy to shack up at the Children’s Activity Tent to join Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her interactive storytelling of her book, I’m Bored.

Michael taking a break at the Hobbit promotional tent. No poster, but still a great attitude!

***

Kids Activity Tent

Here he is with his sister in the Kids’ Activity Tent giving me his best I’m Bored face, a new children’s book.

Michael’s best pretend face for the book, I’M BORED.

***

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

And here’s the illustrator of the book, I’m Bored, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, encouraging the children to interact as she tells the story.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of the children’s book, I’M BORED.

***

Here are other fun spots we visited:

***

A little friend, Bear in Underwear, “hanging around” WOTS.

***

And here’s Michael wondering where all the books went? I told him, it’s great news when the shelves are empty. It means more people have bought and received more books!

Michael at Mabel’s Fables.

***

Arthur

Here the kids are posing with Arthur, one of their favourite book and television characters. They do own and have read all his books!

The kids posing with Arthur.

***

The Children’s Book Bank

But most importantly, I had a conversation with the host of The Children’s Book Bank Tent and was pleased to discover their charitable work in providing free books to children from low-income neighbourhoods. My son even joined in the conversation and gladly offered his own books saying,

“I’ve read a lot of books and I’m done with them.”

How can you help? You can bring your new or gently-used books for children up to grade six to the Children’s Book Bank! And they are always in need of dictionaries!

Check out their website for details on hours of operation and other ways you can help by donating money or your time. If you love reading as much as I do, give the gift of literacy to those that need it most: children.

The Children’s Book Bank. An important book charity that places free books into children’s hands. Donate your books now!

***

Kids Street Festival

But, the fun didn’t end there! My children were eager to meet their “friends” at the Kids Street Festival:

Chirp

Michael and Mercedes hanging out with CHIRP. Yay!

***

Mercedes wasn’t shy! She went straight up to Chirp and gave him a great, big hug. And then she said,

“Chirp is wearing my red boots!”

She was in awe and so pleased that they were both wearing their red rainboots at WOTS.

And then other children flocked to Chirp!

***

Kids Think About It!

***

TVO Kids

And before we decided to go for a late lunch, Michael wanted to reaffirm that yes, he’s indeed a TVO Kid!

Michael, a TVO kid!

***

Polkaroo

And if you’re as OLD as I am, you’ll get as excited as I was in meeting…yes, that’s right…POLKAROO!!

Michael giving Polkaroo a HUGE hug!

***

Mercedes’ turn for a hug with Polkaroo!

***

A special thank you to TVO Kids for bringing these characters to life for my children. It was surely a highlight of the day for them. (I was EXCITED to see my old friend, Polkaroo, too!)

Here’s the Polkaroo Gang at McDonalds for a late lunch. POLKAROOOOOOO!

The Polkaroo Gang.

***

After lunch, the kids sat down for the TVO Kids show: Beatboxing! They had a really good time and even Daddy was impressed with the youth on the stage. Thanks TVO Kids!

The kids are excited. It’s a TVO Kids concert!

***

The TVO Kids concert! Beat-beat-beat-boxing!

***

Vincent Lam

But it wasn’t just an amazing time for the little ones, it was also a great day for me personally. I was able to catch a glimpse of Vincent Lam signing his new book, The Headmaster’s Wager. And I kept hitting myself, thinking,

“Why, oh, why, did I NOT bring MY copy to get signed?!?” Arghhh!

Vincent Lam signing SOMEONE ELSE’S book! I really should have brought my copy!

***

Susan Swan

And a meaningful meet was when I accidentally ran into Susan Swan! I had planned on seeing her read at 3:15 p.m., but here she was, quietly signing her new book, The Western Light.

 She was my Prose Fiction professor at York University while I studied Creative Writing and English Literature many, MANY years ago!

I was excited to see her again in this context and she humoured me with a lovely photograph opportunity and asked for my blog’s business card. Thanks Susan, for always being a true lover of the writing craft and for remembering me.

Susan Swan, author of the new release, THE WESTERN LIGHT.

***

Me with my former professor and highly acclaimed writer, Susan Swan. Ah, the nostalgia! 

***

Thanks to Susan Swan for her patience and her gracious criticism of my work. She was extremely helpful, yet not unkind in showing me and others how to improve our writing. If you have a chance to purchase her new book, please do so! She’s a great writer and an excellent professor!

***

SWAG

What a full day of author sightings, readings, interviews, SWAG, and book purchases. If you love reading and you love books, you’re not going to want to miss next year’s event. Look at all the fun stuff I was able to find on behalf of everyone’s promotion of literacy!

The Word on the Steet SWAG!

***

Time to go home…and well…READ! Happy Word on the Street Day! And hope to see you all next year!

The kids (coerced) to show-off their activity artwork at WOTS.

***

Michael says, “Ay Matey! See you next year at Word on the Street Toronto 2013!”

***

Bye bye WOTS! Bye bye Chirp and Polkaroo! See you all next year!

***

Did you attend The Word on the Street 2012 Festival at Queen’s Park?

What did you enjoy the most about it?

Which authors would you like to see featured next year?

***

Continue reading Did You Hear the WORD ON THE STREET, Toronto? I DID!

Canadian Author Sightings and Upcoming Events. 09.03.2012

Canadian Author Sightings and Upcoming Events

09.03.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

If you live in Toronto or in the GTA, there are a few author events coming up that you should take a note of! All are free and hosted through the Toronto Public Library:

September 12, 2012

Linden MacIntyre, Runnymede Branch, 7:00 p.m. – Why Men Lie

***

***

If you’re a literary fiction fan, you’ll know that Linden MacIntyre was also the recipient of the prestigious Giller Prize in 2009 for his novel, The Bishop’s Man.

To read my review on Why Men Lie, you are more than welcome to visit here.

***

September 18, 2012

Katrina Onstad, Northern District Branch, 12:30 p.m. – Everybody Has Everything

***

***

September 19, 2012

Emma Donoghue, Toronto Reference Library, 7:00 p.m. – Astray, interviewed by Susan G. Cole

***

***

If you’re familiar with Emma Donoghue, you’ll have read her national bestseller book, Room. Well, now she has a new collection of short stories and will be speaking about it on September 19!

***

September 27, 2012

Susan Swan, Toronto Reference Library, 7:00 p.m. – The Western Light, interviewed by  Elizabeth Ruth

***

***

This event has special meaning for me since I have a personal connection with Susan Swan. She was my prose fiction professor at York University during my studies in Creative Writing! And so, I’m quite pleased to see that she’s created another work of fiction after her popular books, The Wives of Bath and What Cassanova Told Me! If you have an opportunity, go and see Susan. She’s a wonderful writer and a genuine individual who loves the writing craft.

***

October 2, 2012

Kelley Armstrong, The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at The Toronto Reference Library, 7:00 p.m. – Thirteen

***

***

For you avid YA paranormal fans, you’re going to want to see Kelley Armstrong talk about her latest book, Thirteen!

***

October 11, 2012

Katrina Onstad, Runnymede Branch, 7:00 p.m. – Everybody Has Everything

October 15, 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at The Toronto Reference Library, 7:00 p.m. – The Prisoner of Heaven

***

***

October 25, 2012

Scott Fotheringham, Toronto Reference Library, 7:00 p.m. – The Rest Is Silence, interviewed by  Alanna Mitchell

***

***

Scott Fotheringham’s book, The Rest Is Silence is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. If you can make it down to see Scott, please do! To read my review, please visit here.

***

November 20, 2012

Vincent Lam, Taylor Memorial Branch, 7:00 p.m. – The Headmaster’s Wager

November 28, 2012

Vincent Lam, North York Central Library, 7:00 p.m. – The Headmaster’s Wager

***

Free tickets are required and are available online at:

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/appelsalon

starting four weeks before the event.

***

Have you read any of the above novels by these wonderful, Canadian authors?

Will you be attending one or more of these events in support of these Canadian authors?

I certainly hope so!

***

Zara Alexis

Fashion Fridays: The Headmaster’s Wager. 06.29.2012

Fashion Fridays:

The Headmaster’s Wager

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Fashion Friday is a weekly meme created by FireStarBooks in order for book lovers to post any fashion related idea or image that they think would be a great match for books on Friday.

Here are my fashion choices for the book, The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam:

***

***

***

***

***

***

***

***

The Headmaster’s Wager: A Review

Book Review:

The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam

05.30.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

***

Category: Fiction

Author: Vincent Lam

Format: Hardcover, 393 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 978-0-385-66145-5

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

***

 

***

Here is a video clip of the author, Vincent Lam, speaking a little about his book, The Headmaster’s Wager:

***

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam is a plot-driven, cultural, and generational story of the father-and-son relationship as represented in the characters Chen Kai and Chen Pie Sou (or as he is better known by his English name in the novel, Percival Chen); and Percival Chen and Dai Jai.

***

And amidst the father-and-son archetypal quest for vulnerable and honest communication, understanding, and connection, is the ambition for wealth and success, and the competitive obstacles and vices of gambling, womanizing, and drug addiction.

Mahjong tiles

***

The violent backdrop of the Vietnam War is the pathetic fallacy that accompanies the repression of turbulent feelings found in the main character of Percival Chen, respectfully, affectionately, and sometimes mockingly referred to as hou jeungHeadmaster.

***

There is the yearning that began as a young boy for physical and emotional closeness to his father, Chen Kai, who leaves both his mother and himself in pursuit of wealth promised in the distant land of Indochina.

That continues in his wrongly placed affection for the cruel and wealthy socialite, Cecilia, with whom he is both unloved and abused.

***

What unravels is a life as headmaster to Chen Hap Sing, a prestigious school, The Percival Chen English Academy, as originally housed by the house his father built, which grew from the laborious determination of a man’s will to prosper in the business of rice mills.

This position continued its survival through his most trusted confidant and friend, Mak, an influential teacher and administrator at the school.

This survival continues even after his son, Dai Jai, is forced to leave the country after political entanglement with the Vietnamese authorities, which is assured by Mak’s myriad of contacts and connections and the power of the headmaster’s desperation and large sums of piastres-turned-gold.

Still, it is only with Jacqueline, a beautiful Annamese girl that Percival Chen finds solace and short-lived redemption.

***

The tension in the book originates from Percival Chen’s competing desire to share his honest feelings and vulnerability to those he loves and the difficult resignation he finds in following what is deemed appropriate, cultural decorum and propriety. This tension first reveals itself in the restraint of Percival Chen’s emotional landscape.

The enjoyment of the book is found in the tension that explodes as further truths are revealed by the surprising plot. And as significant it is that the characters are flawed, the success of The Headmaster’s Wager as a book is that it is a richly, plot-driven story.

And Percival Chen’s compulsion to play his stakes at the mahjong table is both his curse and his gift, as the skills he uses to read his opponents along with the luck housed in the belief and faith he has in the gold nugget heirloom that was passed down to him from his father—are the very same gifts he uses to survive not only the Vietnam War, but the tumultuous betrayals and sacrifices of his love—which is of course, the headmaster’s true and highest wager of all.

***

Zara’s Rating

***

A special thank you to Doubleday Canada and Random House for providing me with a media copy in exchange for an honest and unpaid review.

***

My name is Vietnamese.

Book Review: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam

Book Review:

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam

12.10.2011

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

***

Category: Fiction

Author: Vincent Lam

Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 978-0385661447

Pub Date: September 26, 2006

Winner of the Giller Prize in 2006.

***

The book is an easy, engaging read (it took me a few days). I didn’t realize the chapters were meant to be interrelated short stories until much further down the work.

It’s an excellent “insider view” from a doctor’s perspective, the dilemmas of those in the medical profession: the body politic of the health system, the de-sensitized conditioning necessary to meet high volume and demand, the inevitability of sickness and death, and the tension between remaining professional, yet compassionate, while retaining a sense of one’s own boundaries and needs.

It speaks of the undeniable need to address more than the physiological, but also the breadth and scope of the fragility of the human condition—be it physical or otherwise—for both doctors and patients.

***

Zara’s Rating

***