Farewell WordPress!

Dear Readers,

One of our goals for 2013 is to make our book news more readily available and accessible to you. In order to achieve this, we’ve decided to move our blog to Tumblr. We hope you will follow us to our new digital home at simonschusterca.tumblr.com. Thank you for your continued support and Happy Reading!

Sincerely,

Simon & Schuster Canada

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Cooking with Rachael Ray and the Cake Boss

UPDATE: Thanks for participating. This giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to Louise, Sandra, Rizwana, Terry, and Jolyn!

I hope it’s no secret that we at Simon & Schuster Canada are foodies.
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve no doubt seen the bevy of desserts that roll through our kitchen.

We love to host potlucks, rummage through each other’s snack drawers, and have cheese tastings with goodies from St. Lawrence Market. When we’re not discussing books, we’re discussing where and what to eat.

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But food is only delicious if you have someone else to share it with. And I’m a firm believer that the family that eats together stays together. So keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re giving away 5 cookbook sets of Rachael Ray’s My Year in Meals and Buddy Valastro’s Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss to help bring great food into your homes. 

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To enter, tell us what your favourite home cooked meal is in the comments section. We’ll draw five random winners on Friday, December 21, 2012. Happy holidays, and happy eating!

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Book Blogger Spotlight: Beyond Books

We’re excited to bring you our December Book Blogger Spotlight! This is where we chat with one of our bloggers, ask them to share some of their favorite authors, the books they can’t live without, and find out how they came to book blogging.

This month, we bring you our chat with Cat from Beyond Books. You can follow her on Twitter @CatHealy.

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What made you want to start a book blog?

I’ve actually been blogging since 2004 and I used to post about books I loved on my personal blog. Back in July 2007 I followed the lead of a close friend of mine and began blogging about books in a separate space. I never thought I’d be able to keep up with a second blog and I was sure that it would just end up gathering dust. Though here I am over 5 years later and I tend to blog more often on Beyond Books than on my personal blog!

What’s your favourite reading spot?

I generally curl up on the couch in my living room, wrapped up in a blanket with one of my two dogs snoring away beside me. Not the most exciting of reading spots, but it’s certainly comfortable!

Your favourite book in the last year?

I’m going to feel super guilty for mentioning books that aren’t from S&S Canada, but I adored The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesy, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Cinder by Marissa Meyer and (and I promise this isn’t just to relieve my guilt!) Fever by Lauren DiStefano (The Chemical Garden Trilogy is one of my favourite Dystopian series ever!)

Favourite book of all time?

Polgara the Sorceress by David & Leigh Eddings. My copy is so well-read and loved it’s about to fall apart.

Favourite author?

I have quite a few but those I am quick to push on others are: Kate Forsyth (Australian author), R.J. Anderson, Sarah Addison Allen, Kim Harrison.

Favourite movie adaptation of a book?

Oh dear, I’m afraid movie adaptations just make me so angry! This might not be original, but I do love the Harry Potter films. I think letting the author have full creatve control over the movie helped big time. Mostly I am so disappointed by movie adaptations I feel like the air has been knocked out of my lungs. I try not to watch movie adaptations if I can help it.

What do you do when you’re not working on your blog?

I am an administrative assistant to a Dean in a University. I am also a wife to a wonderfully patient man and a “mum” to two Finnish Lapphund dogs. Although my first dream of becoming a rock star isn’t going as planned, I am trying to make my second dream of working and living with books a reality. I might not have the money to own my own bookstore but I am currently taking Publishing courses* to try and move out of my academic administration career into a new one where I can live, breathe and work with BOOKS.

*Though I have to admit, being a student again after 15 years is daunting and exhausting. Working full time and schooling part time means a lot less time to do things like read and blog. Woe is me!

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Do you seek reader engagement on your blog? If so, how does this affect your ideas about books and authors?

I love when people leave comments on my posts, but I don’t actively seek discussion. Since I tend to run my blog as a book journal rather than a review blog and I rarely participate in promotional events like blog tours or post book trailers, I  suppose the answer to this question is no, in that case. Although I still feel a little sad if a post doesn’t get comments, but nothing is better than “great book, check out my blog?” 😉

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?

Oh my gosh! I read TOO MANY blogs! (Blog reading has also suffered due to my shiny new scholarly activity! My google reader is showing me scary numbers of unread posts!) These days I tend to check quickly on a handful of blogs that I know will give me great new book ideas like –www.booksandotherthoughts.com; sassymonkeyreads.ca; goodbooksandgoodwine.com; thestorysiren.com; and charlotteslibrary.blogspot.ca. These are my “quick and dirty” blog checks because I have always found great recommendations there!

How has your blog developed or changed since you first started?

I don’t think I have changed much in 5 years, with the exception of having a larger readership and the fact that I now make an occasional video blog post. I have always blogged the same way – in the order in which I read the books (I’m very OCD that way) and I am always completely honest in my opinions. I will not promote a book I have not read and loved myself and I don’t exactly review the book so much as I blog about what happened as I read the book and why I might have read that book. I buy a ton of books every month (much to my husband’s chagrin) and the first time I received an email from a publisher asking if I’d like to review a book, I thought I had won the lottery! I have never really received many review books and now I accept even fewer (due to limited free time these days) so I guess in that aspect my blog has changed a little.

I have always held to the belief that as long as I find this fun, I will continue to do it. So far blogging has been fun and I have made sure it never feels like something I HAVE to do. Staying true to myself and blogging the way I do has managed to keep this entire process fun and cathartic to me. I don’t see myself stopping blogging any time soon. 😉

Book Blogger Spotlight: Purple Jelly Bean Reviews

We’re excited to bring you our November Book Blogger Spotlight! This is where we chat with one of our bloggers, ask them to share some of their favorite authors, the books they can’t live without, and find out how they came to book blogging.

This month, we bring you our chat with the delightful Natalie from Purple Jelly Bean Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @nattiejean1969.

What made you want to start a book blog?

I have always been a very passionate reader, it wasn’t until I had been given an ereader that I discoverd reviews for books, I followed the trail to the Goodreads website and started checking out everyone’s book blogs, I asked a few questions to friends who added me and as they say “Bob’s your Uncle” my blog was born!

What’s your favourite reading spot?

My favorite color is purple (like I’m not obvious about that lol) and I found a huge purple leather chair that just happened to look like a jelly bean. Curled up in that reading is where you will most of the time find me.

Your favourite book in the last year?

My favorite in the last year is a series by Patti Roberts called Paradox The Angels Are Here. It is so far a 3 book series and I think 1-2 more coming out. I am on #3 right now. It is a must read series, Patti is from Australia and she is an indie author published through Smaswords.com and Amazon.

Favourite book of all time?

Oh wow that is a tough question, with all of the books I read it is really hard to narrow down which has become my favorite of all time. I think I will answer this question with a favorite book/series I have read many times if that’s ok lol. V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic I would say is one of my favorites to date, I’ve read that series probably 20 times now.

Favourite author?

I have a few of those, Stephen King, Sandra Brown, Christine Feehan, Beatrice Small and Philippa Gregory are my favorites that I just have to have their new books, incredible authors.

Favourite movie adaptation of a book?

The Green Mile, I have to say is my favorite adaptation of a book, I think I have watched that as many times as I have read V.C. Andrews!

What do you do when you’re not working on your blog?

I work in Health Care, I am a secretary for Seniors Mental Health and also for Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Program in Nova Scotia. I have 2 children 17 & 21 but they still keep me very busy lol an amazing boyfriend and 2 cats Bubba and Missy and 1 dog, a Boston Terrier named Jack who I think has been sent to drive us all crazy lol, he is very entertaining though and a joy to be with (espically when he’s sleeping)!! The rest of my time is spent reading, and I love chatting with all my blogger/author friends on facebook or through email.

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Do you seek reader engagement on your blog? If so, how does this affect your ideas about books and authors?

Oh yes, I love getting others opinions of what I have read, my opinion is only 1 of many and it is nice to see how everyone elses perspective is different from my own, it lets you see things in many different ways wether I agree or not. It is a big part of why I blog I love the interaction with those who follow me.

Do you read other blogs? Which ones?

I have over 400 that I try to follow as best as I can, I always start with Simon & Schuster I review a lot for them, Cambria Hebert, Jason McIntyre, Patti Roberts, Rachel Firasek, Christine Feehan, simonreads.ca, harpercollinscanada, Dani Harper oh her blog is so awesome, they all are but there is so many to list.

How has your blog developed or changed since you first started?

Oh when I first started lol it was a mess, I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know HTML coding, trying to figure out what a gadget and a widget was almost gave me a nervous breakdown lol, but slowly and with the help of some amazing bloggers I had made friends with my blog has developed better than I had thought it would, which to me is amazing, I love blogging and reviewing for authors if I hadn’t of gotten an ereader for christmas one year I wouldn’t be talking with you today which I am so grateful that I am!

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Woozles Bookstore

The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.

Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For November, we are featuring Woozles bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

Tell us a little bit about the history of Woozle.

In the spring of 1978, three people agreed they couldn’t find the children’s books they wanted in Halifax – Liz & Brian Crocker and Ann Connor Brimer – and so the idea of a children’s bookstore was conceived.  And then they noticed that an old house on Birmingham Street was for sale.  It seemed the fates were aligned, the building was bought (along with a manual on bookselling and how to do accounting for small businesses), renovations were made books were ordered, a fabulous manager was hired, and Woozles opened its doors on Saturday, October 14, 1978.  Opening day was overcast but people came by the hundreds (600 the first day) and Woozles has never looked back!

There have been so many milestones along the way…ranging from Woozles graduating from writing sales on pieces of paper to getting a cash register in 1986 and then a computer in the late 90’s…to the untimely death of Ann Connor Brimer in 1988…the two expansions of the building so that Woozles has now grown from its initial 600 sq. ft. to approximately 1500 sq. ft….the numerous authors and children’s performers who have crossed our threshold to delight young people (and adults too!)…to the retirement, after 30 years, of our first Manager, Trudy Carey, in 2009…to our newsletter which was first issued in October, 1978 and still is published 3 times a year, on-line and on paper!  (I could go on and on here but hopefully that’s a bit of a flavour)

What made you want to open a bookstore?

This is somewhat answered above…it really was because three of us couldn’t find the books we wanted for children in Halifax – there were other bookstores but no one had a very extensive children’s section…and children’s books were our passion.  We also strongly believed in the idea of a community resource for children and the line underneath “Woozles” is “A Place For and About Children”….our community bulletin board, our workshops, our support of various children’s organizations, our Battle of the Books program and our writing competition (which both support the love of writing and reading) give testimony to the fact that we believe we are more than a store…

What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?

Most people are familiar with a traditional retail model that marks everything up a certain amount to make profit and are not necessarily aware that things work differently with books.  The fact that the publisher sets the price of each book and then gives bookstores a discount on that price makes things different in the sense that it limits the percentage which a bookstore is able to mark down a book without then actually losing money on the sale.  This makes it look like we are deliberately refusing to discount our books the way that grocery stores or big box stores do but doesn’t allow customers to see the full story.

What is the hardest part about being a bookstore owner in 2012?

In one way, it’s not hard because we continue to love what we do and see the positive responses, every day, from children and parents when good books are discovered and shared.  The media would like us all to believe that independent booksellers are on their way to being things of the past and, in this climate, we believe it is important to pay attention to actual trends rather than broad-stroke gloomy predictions.  We believe the trends are saying that more people are reading than ever before – in paper format and on-line – even though there is tremendous competition for children’s time and attention.  It would be great if authors, booksellers and publishers could come together and think creatively to ensure that good books continue to be written and published and sold by people who know them and love them.

What types of books does your store stock and/or specialize in?

As a specialty bookseller, we focus on books ‘for and about children’.  We pride ourselves in having fabulous books for readers aged 0-18.

What are some of your favorite titles? Titles coming out this year?

Phewf.  How long have you got?  We are enormous fans of Oliver Jeffers, of Sandra Boynton, of Kenneth Oppel, of Sarah Dessen…the list goes on and on and on.

What are you reading right now?

Suzy is reading The Casual Vacancy for her adult bookclub (but she did just finish Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot!), and Lisa is reading Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes and the Friday Society by Adrienne Kress.

What is your most current best seller? Classic?

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown are consistently at the top of our bestseller lists.

Right now, due to the recent release of Shauntay Grant’s new book, Apple and Butterflies, that is the #1 seller.

What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?

Barbara Cooney, Tamora Pierce, Robert Munsch.

Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories?

There was a period of time when we found handwritten notes on pieces of paper left in several books over several months.  We dubbed the author of these notes the ‘caper of Woozles’.  Incidentally, all of the notes were loosely about the end of the world.

We get a bit of a kick out of kids who come into the store and promptly take their coat and shoes off…because Woozles is situated in what was once a house (and still feels like a cozy house)

We were approached recently by a local ghosthunter who wanted to stay overnight and do an infrared recording of the potential bookstore ghost…but for security reasons one of the staff or owners would have had to sleep overnight in the store with the team, so it didn’t end up happening.

We once got a call from a gentleman who asked to see our books about taxidermy for an 8 year old.  Not, do you have any, but where are the multitude of?  We’ve also been asked about the location of our ‘Octopus section’.

What book are you, or will you, hand-sell with a vengeance?

What’s neat about this store, and about independent bookstores in general, is that our staff are knowledgeable, generous and helpful.  And tastes vary all over the map.  So depending on the day, you could encounter Mollie, who will no doubt sell you In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak or Suzy who will insist you take home Visitor for Bear.  But if you meet Lisa, you’ll likely walk out with an armload of YA fiction, whereas Nadine might show you her favourite illustrated classic.  We are passionate about what we do, and it is not formulaic in any way.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?

We are deeply honoured to have the opportunity to do what we do every single day.  Thanks for making the independent bookstore experience so special.

Signed,
Lisa, Suzy and Liz