the bookish life

my geeky love for books and bookish things

Category: Geeky in the Real World

Coast to Coast: A Canadian Book Release!

Today was the release party for the adorable new children’s book, Coast to Coast: A Canadian Journey.

Writer Tinisha Powell and illustrator Valeria Gonzalez started ValTin Publishing in 2004. Their first book, Colours of the Rainbow: A Multicultural Journey was a university assignment turned passion project about Lucy, a little girl who learns about 10 different cultures through 10 new friends. They’ve now continued Lucy’s journey with their latest book Coast to Coast, in which Lucy travels across Canada experiencing all the things that make Canada great.

Valeria & Tinisha

Signing Coast to Coast

As pretty much any Canadian will tell you, this summer has been one long party celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. ValTin Publishing has launched Coast to Coast in celebration of the big 1-5-0, with plans to continue Lucy’s journey in the future.

On to the book itself! Coast to Coast is adorable. Each page focuses on a province or territory and uses colourful illustrations and playful rhyme to share facts about each region. It’s clearly well-researched and really fun to read. I grabbed a couple of copies for my nephews, and I’m sure they’re going to love them.

I also grabbed a copy for YOU! I’m hosting a giveaway on Instagram, and the prize is a signed copy of Coast to Coast: A Canadian Journey. Follow my account, look for this image and try your luck!


You can also buy both books by visiting ValTin Publishing.


Curiosa: Purveyors of Extraordinary Things!

The greatest store EVER just opened in Toronto, and today I had the opportunity to visit. Welcome to Curiosa: Purveyors of Extraordinary Things!

Curiosa exterior

Curiosa is mainly Harry Potter themed; it’s like stepping into a shop on Diagon Alley. They sell games, stationary, enamel pins, artwork, even old-fashioned tin toys and music boxes. The majority of the items for sale are from JK Rowling’s world, but there is also a small section of Tolkien and Game of Thrones goodies. Surprisingly, I recognized quite a few things from some online shops I love. This store is so me!

Harry Potter shelves

Curiosa interior

The inside of the store is gorgeously decorated – the detail was kind of amazing. The shelves overflow with leather trunks, wand boxes and other magical props. They even have cauldrons that stir themselves.


Curiosa ceiling

My other stroller is a Nimbus 2000

If you live in the Toronto area (or happen to be visiting), you should definitely swing by and check out Curiosa for yourself. Trust me – it’s worth it!

My Staycation Bookstore Tour!

Last week I was on staycation, which of course meant lots of time for reading. But I also wanted to be less of a hermit too. Which in my language means BOOKSTORES! So, I jumped on the subway and visited my three favourite shops.

First up was The Monkey’s Paw.

The Monkeys Paw

The Monkey’s Paw is a used bookstore that specializes in antique, unusual reads. It has a simple layout, with shelves against each wall, and a table where the owner sits with his laptop (surrounded by stacks of books). The owner is really friendly, and he has interesting stories about where he acquired some of the books. The shop also has a Biblio-Mat – a vending machine of the literary variety. For a toonie you can get a random used book. I’ve tried it before, but didn’t this time – but I still had to get a picture of it!

I like to look for classic paperbacks, especially tri-band Penguin editions. This time I managed to snag the Gormenghast trilogy, which is one of my favourites (it beats Lord of the Rings, hands down). I foresee many more visits in my future – the shop moved a few months ago, and it is so much easier to get to now!

Next up was the Penguin Shop.

Penguin Shop

I’ve written about this store before, and unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to visit since then. I’m hanging my head in shame right now – trust me. So I had to go again. There was a lot of new stuff, and they had even added new spines to the book wall (I didn’t get a picture – sorry!). I feel like this shop should be a tourist stop for out-of-towners, it’s just that awesome. But if you can’t visit, they have started selling some of their products online! (The Little Black Classics box set is calling my name.)

Onwards! Last stop was the Silver Snail, because comics are books too.

Silver Snail

The Silver Snail is pretty much a Toronto institution – it first opened in 1976. They have tonnes of collectables and comic books, as well as a nice coffee shop (The Black Canary), if you want to sit down with your new books and a hot drink. Every time I’ve gone it’s been a total zoo, but their selection makes it worth it. Those of you who know me, know how much I love Superman – and of course I bought one of his titles while I was there. It’s at Yonge & Dundas, if you’re interested in experiencing the magic.

At the end of the day my legs hurt, my Fitbit had logged 14k steps, and I had a small stack of books to enjoy. I’d call my staycation bookstore tour a success!



Exploring the 2016 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival

This past weekend was the 28th annual Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, and my first visit!

Eden Mills is a little village of about 350 people, and is actually the first community in North America to attempt to be carbon neutral. It was really cool to see how they kept to that goal during the festival – the food area used real dishes, and there was a free water station (BYO water bottle).

But what about the festival itself? I loved it – it was the perfect balance of people, booths and authors. The crowd wasn’t overwhelming, every seat was a good seat at the author readings, and there was ample opportunity to talk to the publishers and authors in the booths.

Eden Mills Writers' Festival

The main street was closed and filled with booths (officially called Publishers’ Way by the festival). Many of the booths were run by indie publishers, and it was a great opportunity to learn about new (to me) authors and books.

Book readings

Author readings were all outdoors, and people relaxed in lawn chairs or on blankets. It was all very casual and friendly.

Amanda West Lewis

I attended the Young Adult portion of the readings. First up was Amanda West Lewis, who writes historical fiction (published by Red Deer Press). She read from her new book, The Pact, inspired by a true story of a young boy living in Germany during World War 2. It was fascinating, beautiful and tragic all at once – I can’t wait to read it myself.

Douglas Davey

Douglas Davey was up next – he read from his latest book Switch, as well as his previous novel M in the Abstract (Red Deer Press). His work is a bit more quirky and modern, which I really enjoyed. I couldn’t resist picking up M in the Abstract. After the readings I had a lovely conversation with both authors while they signed my books.

Amnesty Int Booth

Back on Publishers’ Way, one booth really stood out for me: the Amnesty International booth. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this organization, they fight worldwide for human rights. At first glance, it’s not really clear why they would have a booth at a festival all about books. But it turns out they actually run a book club as well! The Amnesty International Book Club is free to join. Sign up on their website and receive monthly emails featuring a recommended book, editorials and questions about the book, as well as articles highlighting AI’s latest human rights campaigns.

Amnesty Int Book Club

The Amnesty International booth was also selling a book – and it’s an important one. Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters is an anthology created to raise awareness about violence against First Nations women. 50 Canadian artists contributed to the slim volume, and it was published by Penguin. Only 800 copies were printed, but you can also buy the ebook here. 100% of the proceeds will go towards Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters campaign, so please grab a copy.

Eden Mills Book Haul

So there you have it – my first year at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. I think it’s fair to say I will be back again next year!

Exploring Toronto’s Penguin Shop

There is a new shop in town, and I think all the local bookworms need to check it out. Penguin Random House Canada has launched a tiny store (filled with books and branded merchandise) in the lobby of their office building in downtown Toronto.

Penguin Shop

Guys, it’s awesome. The square footage is super small, but they’ve crammed a lot in there. Do you see the book spines on the wall? They are actually shelves that pull out, and are full of some great reads. My friend Shireen and I spent quite a lot of time browsing through them.

Browsing at the Penguin Shop

The opposite wall has exposed shelving that mostly contains the branded merchandise, and a small selection of books. For eons I have been trying to track down some Penguin classics with the tri-band cover, but until recently they weren’t available locally. So I was thrilled to see their famous cover design all over everything.

Penguin Shop Merch

Mugs, water bottles, notebooks, bags, pins… There is a lot. How could any bookworm resist this?! Of course I had to bring some of the lovely goodies home.

Penguin Shop Goodies

The water bottle was a lifesaver at FanExpo, the free-with-purchase tote is destined to hold some of my yarn, and the pin now has a place of honour on my purse. As for the notebook – it is almost too pretty to write in!

Right now the shop is only open on weekdays, although the shop girl did suggest requesting weekends on their Instagram or Twitter accounts. If they see the demand, they’ll likely oblige. But don’t let that stop you – go and check it out!

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