Toronto International Book Fair 2014

One of the best perks of being a reader is that today, more than ever, it’s easy to connect with the people who write all the incredible books that are on your bookshelves. You can write them a message on Facebook, you can share your reaction with them in 140 characters and you can ask them anything with the help of Reddit. But there are also traditional ways to connect with authors, you can go to one of their readings, a hosted bookstore event or, in some cases, you can invite them to your book club. Either way you spin it, you now have access to authors.


At the Toronto International Book Fair, you can spend three full days connecting with over 400 of your favourite authors! Thanks to Rita Davies and John Calabro, now Executive Directors of the TIBF, and with advice from an Advisory Committee (comprised of leading figures in the publishing industry), they did some research and discovered that Toronto was in need and want of a book fair and voila, the Toronto International Book Fair was born. As someone who loves literature and can’t always fly to the US to attend book conventions, I’m so thrilled that we’re going to have a Canadian book fair. I’m sure most of you feel the same way and for the low cost of $15.00 for a 3 day pass, it sounds as if it will be a fabulous event! Come out and support your love of reading on November 13-16. All the details about the book fair are listed below.


This information is obtained from their website.

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair will appeal to all book lovers and readers. From Literary to Romance, from Science Fiction to Mystery, from Children’s Books to Cookbooks, the Fair makes the Book, in all its various forms, the star of the show. It will provide for the English-language market as well as Toronto’s diverse language communities, hosting international, national, regional and local exhibitors.

It will be part exhibition, part market and part cultural festival, celebrating reading in all forms and embracing all facets of the book trade. It will be a place for readers to connect with those who write and produce the books they love—to learn, explore and be entertained, in all print and digital formats.


This information is obtained from their website.

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is a place for readers to connect in the most immediate ways with those who write and with those who produce the books they love; a place where people can reconnect with the passion and enchantment of the world ofreading.


As I mentioned above, there are going to be over 400, yes, 400! authors present over the three day fair. To name a few…. Margaret Atwood, Chris Hadfield, Anne Rice, Elaine Lui, Jim Gaffigan, Sylvia Day, Michael Cho, Dr. George Elliott, Lev Grossman, E. Lockhart & more.Book Fair

You can see the full list here.


November 13 – 16


Metro Toronto Convention Centre (N. Building)


The cost of 1 ticket is only $15.00 for a 3 day pass. Which is an incredible deal if you ask me! And if you and your book club exceed the number 20, you can get a group admission price of $10.00 each.

Purchase your tickets here.


Twitter: @InspireTIBF
Facebook: Inspire Toronto International Book Fair

I look forward to seeing each and everyone of you there!

[Video] Document Your Life – August 2014

August 2014

When I sat down to start making my ‘Document Your Life’ video for August, I was a tad nervous, because I didn’t think I did a lot in the month of August. About 30 seconds after all the August videos uploaded, I noticed how off base I was. SO many things happened in August. I went to OVO fest where I saw… Drake, Lauren Hill, Usher and 50 Cent. You’re not going to be able to see any of those people in this video, but take my word for it, it was unbelievable. Definitely a once in a lifetime event. I got lots of great (behind the scenes) footage of a book trailer shoot Random House is creating for The Great Lobster Cookbook. I meant to take a quick snippet of the amazing lobster rolls that Matt Dean Pettit made for us, but I was way too excited to actually eat the amazing food! Then of course, I went to an early screening of Outlander thanks to Showcase (which I wrote about here), it was dark, but I got some good shots of sexy men in kilts.

Of course, I read a bunch this month and I did capture some of it on video, I didn’t get all my reading recorded, so be sure to drop by here for future book reviews to see what I’ve been reading. As many of you know, September is the kick off to the publishing fall season AKA our busiest time of year, which means that there’s going to be lot of great book events. I’m hoping to capture it all on video (dark lighting and all), so stay tuned!

Have a look at the month of August below and let me know if the comments what fun things you did this past month.

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The song in this video is Sleepyhead by Passion Pit

A Glance at What Canadian English Students Are Reading this Fall

Now that I’m an adult, September just seems to be another month in the calendar year. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I get a bit nostalgic when I see the back to school commercials advertising duo tangs, pencils and 25 cent loose leaf. I also always loved that feeling of starting over in the middle of the year, a chance to start new courses, meet new professors and make new friends. While I was taking this walk down memory lane, I started thinking of another huge aspect of the school experience… choosing the courses I wasted to study.

Acadia University

Acadia University

I was an English major of Acadia University ’06 (you do the math) and there were always lots of interesting English courses that peeked my interest, especially anything related to the idea of Canadian literature, medieval literature and the coveted course that everyone wanted to study, analyzing the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there were any new courses added to the curriculum since I graduated, which of course led me down a rabbit hole of peeking at different English courses offered and the books on the curriculum from a variety of Canadian Universities. I thought it might be fun to share my discoveries with all of you, so without further ado, here’s a look at some of the fun courses students are studying in their affiliated English Departments.

ACADIA UNIVERSITY (Wolfville, Nova Scotia)

Of course, I’m a little biased about Acadia, because it’s where I received my degree, but I always felt that they had really great English course selections, they also had amazing professors that always encourage critical thinking. Many of the course selections seemed relatively the same, but I was thrilled to see that current books had been added to the curriculum, including Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

All the course descriptions can found here.

SAINT MARY’S UNIVERSITY (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

SMU has some really intriguing English courses, including, Narrative in Fiction and Film, The Bible and English Literature and my favourite Fictions of Finance. Here’s the course description for Fictions of Finance,

This course examines the representation of money and finance in a range of genres – including fiction, drama, poetry, and film – and from a range of literary periods.  Authors to be considered include William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Theodore Dreiser, George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, and Martin Amis.  Topics to be addressed include narratives of financial success and failure, gambling and risk, the expansion of capitalism and the stock market, lotteries and auctions, fraud and financial crime, and hoarding and expenditure.

All the course descriptions can found here.


UofT has some pretty amazing courses and the course descriptions are thorough and descriptive. I think out of all of their choices, the ones that piqued my interest most were,

  • Space and the Education of Desire: Postcolonialism and Diaspora
  • Life, Death, and American Fiction
  • Actuality, Documentary, Reality

All the course descriptions can found here.

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY (Kingston, Ontario) 422100321

Of all the University websites I perused, Queen’s was the easiest to navigate. Their course selections are also plentiful, with many great topics that will pique your interest. Lately short stories have been making a huge comeback so it was exciting to see that they had a course that studys the “contemporary American short story”. The authors students will be examining  will be,

J. D. Salinger, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Robert Coover, Alice Walker, Donald Barthelme, James Baldwin, Tim O’Brien, David Foster Wallace, A. M. Homes, George Saunders, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Philip K. Dick, John Barth, Cynthia Ozik, Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lydia Davis.

All the course descriptions can found here.


As noted on their site,

The University of Albert Department of English and Film Studies was recently ranked 22nd in English Language & Literature by the QS World University Rankings - the highest ranking department at the University in this survey.

And with good reason, they have lots of fun and innovative courses that would appeal to readers. My favourite would have to “Reading Popular Culture”,

This course introduces students to post-secondary studies in English through the close reading of popular culture texts, including zines, magazines, film, television, advertising, the internet, and non-canonical fiction and non-fiction. It will address the aesthetics, concepts, theories, and debates that inform the production and consumption of popular culture, and analyze the role of pop culture in shaping beliefs, identities, and social practices. Materials, themes, topics, and genres will vary among instructors.

All the course descriptions can found here.


Here’s another University that has a very innovative approach to reading and understanding literature. On their departments website, they have a faculty bookshelf, which links of to each book shown in this picture.

Of all the great courses they have to offer (and they have many), my favourite has to be,

Assorted Literary Genres Today (and Youth Across Them)

In the spirit of exploration, this section will examine youth (its hallmarks, its dilemmas, its significance) across a range of literary genres, in particular memoir, Bildungsroman, speculative fiction, social novel, historical fiction, and/or comedy. In addition to exposing students to authors writing within (or in reaction to) genre conventions, the readings will enable students to understand the interplay between genre and representation.

Readings include the following,

  • Speculative Fiction: Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • Bildungsroman: Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
  • Historical Fiction: George and Rue by George Elliott Clarke
  • Social Novel: The Wise and Foolish Virgins by Don Hannah
  • At the moment, the fifth genre is undecided. It will be either memoir (Fun Home by Alison Bechdel) or comedy (Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood)

All the course descriptions can found here.

As you can see, I only looked at a handful of Canadian Universities, but it was exciting to see how out of the box the arts department has come in just eight years (since I graduated). Of course, there are still lots of OG’s (original gangsters) present, Shakespeare, Approaches to Literature, Literary Analysis and Postcolonial Lit. But for the most part, there seem to lots of new and exciting ways in which to study English.

So if you’re an English student who’s stumbled on this post, go sharpen your pencils and buckle up for a great year of expanding your mind. If you’re like me and September is now just the month that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is released, know that English University students are reading and thinking critically based on the above research. Now, I’m going to sharpen a few pencils for old times sakes…

[Book Review] Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin

imageYou know how some books come along and forever change the way you think and feel? Up Ghost River is that book for me. Edmund Metatawabin is a former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a Cree writer, educator and activist. As outstanding as his achievements today are, he was a boy with a very troubled and conflicted past. At 7 years of age, his parents, who thought they were doing right by their son, had him pack up all his belongings and head to a residential school in Northern Ontario, known as St. Anne’s. What they didn’t know is that ultimately St. Anne’s would one day be referred to as one of Canada’s worst residential school. It’s become notorious for it’s bizarre punishments and treatment of the students.

Up Ghost River is a look back on some of the horrific experiences that Edmund had to endure each year his parents sent him (and his siblings) to St. Anne’s. Experiencing sexual abuse and inhumane treatment does a number on Edmund’s psyche and in an effort to blur these horrific memories, he begins to numb the pain with alcohol. But his decision to heal using alcohol ultimately costs him his family. So he does the only thing he can do to get them back, he seeks to regain hope and strength in Alberta. As shared on the publishers site,

In Alberta, Metatawabin learned from elders, par­ticipated in native cultural training workshops that emphasize the holistic approach to personhood at the heart of Cree culture, and finally faced his alcoholism and PTSD. (source)

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Edmund Metatawabin and this man is endlessly working at uncovering the wrongdoings of the St. Anne’s staff. When we met, he was visiting Toronto in the middle of winter, working to get documents released that will expose these teachers actions. He was quiet in nature, but you could see the fight in his eyes, his determination. As he shares in this CBC article,

“All we want is justice,” he said. “All we want is movement that will make me feel ‘Oh, finally it’s over. Finally it’s over. They believe me.” (source)

This is a really hard book to read. It recounts some really difficult scenes and when reading, you’re going to cringe and squirm. The difference is that when you’re reading, you’re going to know that this isn’t a fictional book, this did happen and someone lived it and that’s exactly why this book is so important and why everyone should read it. It’s a part of our country’s history, but as Edmund demonstrates in Up Ghost River, experiences don’t have to define who we are or who we’re going to be. We, as individuals, have the power to choose how we react to negative experiences. This is the story of one man’s attempt to take back his life. Today, Edmund Metatawabin is an activist and an educator for the next generation of residential school survivors. A big part of accepting his past is understanding his Cree culture which continues to help him heal. I truly believe that every Canadian should read this book.

Need further convincing? Watch the book trailer below:

Up Ghost River is on sale today. 

5 Reasons Why You’re Going to LOVE the Television Adaption of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander

This past week I got the opportunity to attend an early premiere screening of Showcase’s Outlander and it was outstanding! Whether or not you’ve read the Diana Gabaldon series that inspired the show (and if you haven’t, you’re going to want to immediately), you’re going to become obsessed with this brilliant historical television show. I’m going to list a number of reasons why I think this is going to be the show you can’t miss on Sunday nights, but first let me take this opportunity to thank Showcase/ Shaw Media for a spectacular night. Not only was there gin tastings and Scottish inspired food, but, well… I think this speaks for itself,


Without further ado, here are the 5 Reasons Why You’re Going to LOVE the Television Adaption of Outlander:

1. Claire is an independent woman

The show starts by introducing us to British Army nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank who are on their second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland. Because this is a family friendly blog and I don’t feel comfortable discussing the sex scene I watched, I’ll just say that this woman is all about taking control. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it. While going plant-gathering near the hill of Craigh na Dun, she time travels back into the 18th century and meets a young man by name of Jamie MacTavish. After being taken to a cabin and determining that he’s dislocated his shoulder, she uses her 20th century medicine knowledge to help fix his shoulder. I only watched 45 minutes of the show to know that this woman is all about getting things done. Oh and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this quote from Diana Gabaldon,

I don’t like stupid women, so why would I write one? (source)

IMG_64282. The chemistry between Jamie and Claire is hot, hot, HOT!

To the people that I was sitting beside (Michele, Christa, Liz and Laurie), I apologize once again for making weird noises while watching the sneak peek of Outlander. As I noted above, the scenes between Claire and Frank were pretty sexy, but you’d be a fool not to pick up on the immediate chemistry between Claire and Jamie on their first meeting. Long gazes, uncertain glances and an unspoken trust as she pops his shoulder back into place, this is a chemistry that I can’t wait to see play out on my television each week.

3. It’s being called the new ‘Game of Thrones’ and with good reason

If you’ve ever been to a Diana Gabaldon event, you know that this woman can create one hell of a crowd. Some would say, the same fan numbers of the equally talented Game of Thrones creator, George R.R. Martin. Their dedicated fan base has taken both of these authors to new levels of their careers. Of course the two book series/shows have different plots, but the obvious comparison is that these are two fantasy authors that have vivid, wild and descriptive imaginations. There are some obvious contrasts between the two shows that are explored in this great Independent article,

Indeed it’s arguable that a large part of Outlander’s success derives from the way in which it subverts gender conventions. Where the TV version of Game of Thrones has been criticised for its objectification of women’s bodies, Outlander’s gaze is female and, at times, breathtakingly frank. Not only is Claire unapologetically upfront about her own desires, it is the male rather than the female bodies which are lingered over – a pleasant contrast to Game of Thrones’ sexposition and breast shots. Furthermore Jamie might be loyal, brave and often very funny, but this is Claire’s story. Indeed Jamie’s role in it is closer to that of the traditional heroine in that he’s a good-looking virgin who when not getting his war-wounds treated spends a fair amount of time getting rescued. (source)

4. It’s already been renewed for a second seasonoutlander

You know something is a hit when it hasn’t even hit the air waves and it’s been renewed for a second season. In the US, Outlander released a bit earlier and clocked in an outstanding 5 million+ viewers on the night of the premiere. With numbers like that, it wasn’t hard to convince executive producers that this show isn’t going to be a one trick pony. That’s why on August 8th, it was announced that Outlander had been green lit for a second season. Thankfully, thanks to the eight book Outlander collection the television producers have lots and lots of guidance on where to take it next…

5. Diana Gabaldon has been very involved in the adaptation

Who would have thought that when she started writing Outlander, by mistake I might add, it would become a television phenomenon. It only makes sense that the television creators would bring Diana Gabaldon on as a consultant for the show. As Gabaldon shares in this article,

Ron [Moore] and his partner, Maril [executive producer Maril Davis], came out to my house and spent two days with me talking over characters and story lines and backstory and discussing their ideas for adaptation, which I thought was very, very smart of them, as well as very generous. (source)

And I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but Gabaldon is great on Twitter and Facebook. She’s been sharing lots of great behind the scenes shots and connecting with her fans, so be sure to connect with her ASAP.

Tonight, break out the whiskey and your kilts and tune into Showcase’s at 10pmET to watch the premiere of Outlander. Also be sure to follow @showcasedotca for lots of great Outlander TV updates.