Thursday, 29 September 2011

Word on the Street

Every year cities such as Toronto, Halifax, and Vancouver host their annual "Word on the Street" book and magazine festival. The festival takes place simultaneously all around Canada on the last Sunday of September. (It's always easy for my to remember the day it takes place, because it happens right around my Birthday!) The festival consists of book sales, author readings, author signings, concession stands, and many different kinds of book related activities. I kept hearing about Word on the Street for about three years now but hadn't gotten the chance to experience it for myself, until last Sunday. To say I had a blast at Word on the Street is an understatement.

I started getting excited about the festival just about six weeks prior to the actual date of the event. I kept asking around to see who wanted to join me but not many people seemed too interested. Some of my friends' said things like, "That seems boring" or "Maybe I'll come if I have nothing better to do that day." Finally, I convinced my 17 year old cousin to accompany me. However, I soon learned it probably would have been more fun to go alone. The event went on from 11 am to 6 pm, but we only stayed around for the afternoon. I got a chance to see the Scotiabank Giller Prize tent (which was actually the main one I really wanted to see) and heard some author readings. Much to my surprise, many of the books were actually being sold for a fraction of the cost. One independent author was selling his book at a price of "pay what you can." (Yes, you read right.) The book sold on book shelves for $16.99, but I got a steal for $10.00! Even better, the author personalized it for me with his autograph!

I am a proud member of an online community called "Wattpad" who also had a booth at Word on the Street. I was super excited to see some of the people I've been communicating with online, in the flesh! Wattpad was giving away free t-shirts, posters, stickers, bags and candy. Of course, I took some! Many tents were giving away freebies, and I'm proud to say I've accumulated a lifetime supply of free bookmarks! Well maybe not a lifetime supply, but so much so that I'm planning on making a scrapbook out of them! After browsing around various tents like a kid in a candy store, it was time to go home and my smile soon turned into a frown. I took my last few steps towards the nearest subway station and already starting planning for Word on the Street 2012. Word on the Street Book and Magazine festival was definitely something I would like to be a part of every year.

Word on the Street Toronto is located at Queen's Park and the best part about it is that it's for everyone and it's free. There are many tents and stages set up which are aimed for kids, teens and adults. If you're a book enthusiast, you're guaranteed to find something for you. Those who don't like buying books can even check out Toronto Public Library's bookmobile, if you're more of a borrower than a purchaser. The only downside about Word on the Street is that most of the authors are Canadian unknowns. Lucky for me, I have read a lot of Canadian books and I love Canadian authors. Furthermore, although I hadn't heard of many of the authors there, I love hidden gems. I am passionate about literature as it is, so I can't describe the feeling of contentment I get when I get to see who is behind the scenes. Overall, it was a great experience, and one that I hope to have again every September.

Does Word on the Street take place in your hometown? Take a look at their website below and find out!

Word on the Street

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Beyond Harry Potter

I keep hearing people say "So, I just finished Harry Potter... now what?!" Although I also jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon and fell madly in love with the series, I find it sad that Harry Potter fans are unable to find new book series' to read. If you spend time searching, it's really not that hard to find some amazing series'. Mind you, they may not live up to the awesomeness of Harry Potter, but you might just discover that you love them equally as much. Some books from the same genre which I know of are the following:

"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin: Although this is a popular book series, I will admit, I never heard of them until the HBO Series came out, which personally I thought was amazing. From various recommendations, I keep hearing that the books are equally as amazing.

 "The Seven Realms Series" by Cinda Williams Chima: Those of you who have been following my blog know how much I love Cinda Williams Chima, as I've written about her a few times before. I like to describe this series as a PG version of Game of Thrones; more aimed for teens, and less sex and nudity. I've only read the first book so far, but what I read, I liked.

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians" by Rick Riordon: The story is almost as good as Harry Potter, but the writing style is not as good. Though Percy Jackson's story is a bit more simple when compared to Harry Potter, I can see it possibly having the same fan base. In other words, if you liked Harry Potter, you will most likely also enjoy Percy Jackson.

"100 Cupboards" by N.D. Wilson: Well, I picked up book 1 from the series, but never got around to reading it. When I read the synopsis, I got the impression that the story was full of magic and wonder. 100 Cupboards is the first book in the trilogy, followed by Dandelion Fire and The Chestnut King. 

So there is a list of some of my personal series recommendations which I think Harry Potter fans might enjoy. Keep in mind, that this list is a mix of both children's, teen's and adult books. My fellow Harry Potter lovers: please remember that if you keep an eye out, you can surely find some hidden gems out there.