Episode 10: To Market, to Mark-it

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 5.15.28 PMHello listeners!

This week’s episode is dedicated to the business of book markets. Three times a year, St. Vital Mall hosts a book sale to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital, and this is where I buy most of my books for the year! You can’t beat the deals (new hardcovers for less than $5, softcovers for $1.50 – it’s a dream) and the funds raised go directly to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, so you can feel good about your purchases, too!

In this week’s episode, I chat with Carol Irving from the Children’s Hospital Guild of Manitoba, who organizes the Children’s Hospital Book Markets each year. We talk about how the book markets got started, the work the amazing volunteers do to get everything ready for the book markets, and where the funds go. I also share my tips and tricks for tackling a book market.

literallykatrina bookmarkIn other news, to spread the word about the Literally, Katrina podcast, I’ve hidden bookmarks (for a sneak peek, see the image at left) at bookstores across the city in bestsellers, books we’ve talked about on the podcast, and all my favourites – if you pick up a book with one in it, it’s yours to keep or give away! Go forth and have fun! And don’t forget to tell your friends about the podcast.

Thanks to the Children’s Hospital Book Market organizers and volunteers for all the work you do, and thanks to Carol Irving – it was a pleasure learning more about the book markets! Don’t forget to stop by the Children’s Hospital Book Market taking place on February 4, 5, and 6 at St. Vital Mall.

Thanks for listening to this week’s episode. I’ll be back in two weeks with local author Gerald Sliva. Don’t forget to subscribe to Literally, Katrina on iTunes (or the Apple Podcast App), like Literally, Katrina on Facebook and Pinterest, follow me on Twitter @LitKatrina, and add me on Insta @LitKatrina.

Until next time, happy reading!
Katrina

Episode 9: New year, new books!

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 8.27.00 PMHello lovely listeners!

Happy 2016 – I’m so happy to be back with more author interviews, book reviews, and other fun book things on the Literally, Katrina podcast! In today’s episode, I talk about some fantastic books I read over the holidays and I also review The Road to Atlantis, written by Canadian author Leo Brent Robillard.

Literally, Katrina is the first stop on a blog tour to get the word out about The Road to Atlantis, a powerful novel about family, tragedy, and what it means to rebuild after you lose everything. It’s so heartbreakingly good! Listen in for my review of the book, as well my interview with Turnstone Press’s associate publisher Jamis Paulson about the blog tour.

I am also giving away a copy of The Road to Atlantis to one lucky listener!! All you have to do is follow @LitKatrina on Instagram and like the Episode 9 post to enter. I’ll be announcing the winner in one week from today, on Monday, January 18th. Good luck!

Looking for some great reads to dig into this year? Here’s a list of what I read over the break:

throne of glass seriesThe Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I binge-read the entire series over the holidays and I’m pretty smitten. The fourth instalment in the series, Queen of Shadows, won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy – well deserved!

25614833Pillars of Light, written by British author Jane Johnson, is a 12th century epic set during the Third Crusade. Chronicling the notorious Siege of Acre, this stunning adventure of a novel reveals both the brutality and beauty of humanity through the eyes of ordinary people. For fans of Philippa Gregory and Ken Follett, and reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven, this irresistible and humanizing epic is sure to delight. I loved this book! Catch my review of this novel in the Winnipeg Free Press in the coming weeks.

And speaking of the Winnipeg Free Press, my review of the award-winning novel Book of Sands by Karim Alrawi was out on Boxing Day. Missed it? Check it out here.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe to Literally, Katrina on iTunes (or the Apple Podcast App), like Literally, Katrina on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @LitKatrina, and add me on Insta @LitKatrina.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016 full of good books and good people!

Until next time, happy reading.
Katrina

2015 in review

Hello lovely readers,

2015 was a great year for Literally, Katrina – thank you so much for reading my posts and listening to my podcast!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog – check it out!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Looking forward to 2016. Happy New Year, friends!

Katrina

Episode 8: It’s literally a cozy christmas

Bookclub with Melinda
The book club ladies with author Melinda Friesen. From L-R: Beckie, Kaeri, Jessica, Melinda, Miranda, Katrina, Carla.

Hello listeners!

In today’s episode of the Literally, Katrina podcast, we listen in on a chat the It’s Literally a Book Club had with local author Melinda Friesen (see photo above!), and I also reveal the winner of the #cozychristmas Instagram contest. It’s quite exciting! Take a listen:

It was so great having Melinda join us! Hopefully we’ll get a chance to chat with her when her second book comes out in the new year! For more information about Enslavement, you can visit Melinda’s website at melindafriesen.com. Enslavement is also available in-store here in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson, Chapters, and Kite & Kaboodle in the Johnston Terminal at The Forks.

christmastreeOkay, so now what you’ve all been waiting for! Here’s a recap of what’s in the #cozychristmas prize pack, which I’ve been revealing bit by bit on Instagram over the past month:

  • One spectacularly cozy handmade scarf by Pebble and Dime, made right here in Winnipeg by the lovely Vivian Sawatzky. It’ll keep you warm (especially now that we actually have snow) and it’s also adorable so you’ll look good, too.
  • One delightful Coal and Canary “All I Want Fir Xmas” candle, also made here in Winnipeg – if you haven’t heard of Coal and Canary, it is the local candle company taking Hollywood by storm – that’s right, last year, Coal and Canary candles were in celebrity gift bags at some major award shows, including the Grammy’s. “All I Want Fir Xmas” is a scent from the 2015 holiday collection and it smells like the perfect christmas tree – I love it so much!
  • A book by Giller Prize-winning author Marina Endicott, called Close to Hugh, which was also on the 2015 Giller Prize long list. Heartwarming, heart wrenching, and full of humour, this book gives us the chance to spend a week with some of the most interesting and infuriating characters – artists, actors, and prima donnas abound in this novel about love, loss, and life. And every chapter title is a witty play on words to do with Hugh, who is the loveable main character – for example, “nothing Hugh can do”, “I only want to be with Hugh”, and “can’t buy Hugh love”. Oh the puns. I really enjoyed this one.
  • And last but not least, A Whole Life, an international bestseller by Robert Seethaler. I reviewed this little gem of a book for the Winnipeg Free Press a little while back and really treasured the gentle and moving story Seethaler tells about Andreas Egger, a guy just making his way through life in the Austrian Alps. This book also features one of the most romantic wedding proposals ever, so there’s that.

Without further ado, the winner of the 2015 #cozychristmas contest is…..nadine.leila! Hooray! How exciting!

That wraps up 2015 for the Literally, Katrina podcast! I’ll be back in January with another book giveaway and much, much more. Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe to Literally, Katrina on iTunes (or the Apple Podcast App), like Literally, Katrina on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @LitKatrina, and add me on Insta @LitKatrina.

Until 2016, Merry Christmas and happy reading!
Katrina

Episode 5: The power of storytelling

Wonder Horse by Anita Daher, out now.

Hello listeners,

Episode 5 is here! In today’s episode, I chat with lovely Winnipeg author and actor Anita Daher about her book Wonder Horse, out this past spring (it’s precious).

I also give a reader’s confession – have you ever stayed up all night to finish a book? I certainly have! But I’ll admit, it doesn’t happen often anymore – who has time to pull an all-nighter just to finish a book? A lot of us don’t have the luxury of time, and sleep is in high demand…but sometimes, a book is just so good that it warrants a late-night reading marathon. Just wait until you hear my confession!

Lastly, I tease you with an upcoming contest, coming your way just in time for the holidays (hard to imagine, considering we don’t have any snow – no complaining here!). Stay tuned for instructions on how to enter and what’s in store.

Thanks so much for taking a listen. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes or the Apple podcast app, give the Literally, Katrina Facebook page a like, follow me on Twitter @LitKatrina, and don’t forget to share this episode with your friends! The more booklovers I get to talk to, the better!

Episode 6 will be up in two weeks. Until then, happy reading!
-Katrina

Episode 1: The Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival

Hello readers and listeners!

I am so excited to release the very first episode in the Literally, Katrina podcast series!

In today’s episode, I chat with Charlene Diehl, Director of the Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival – Thin Air 2015 – as well as Méira Cook, one of Winnipeg’s own authors who will be speaking at multiple events during the festival to promote her new novel Nightwatching and poetry book Monologue Dogs. Thin Air is launching this Friday, September 18th – exciting things will be happening!

For more info on the festival (schedule, events, authors, etc.,), make sure to check out the Thin Air website – I’ll also be doing some blogging on the site leading up to and during the festival, so definitely head over there and take a peek!

Be sure to subscribe to the Literally, Katrina blog for updates and podcast episodes! You can also find the podcast on iTunes (coming soon!). Follow me on Twitter @LitKatrina and like the Literally, Katrina page on Facebook for more bookish fun. Thanks for listening!

Happy reading,
Katrina

Bright lights and the big city….of Lockport

Hello readers,

Today we’re taking a break from books (I know, how dare we cheat on books?!) to talk about Lockport. Lockport, you ask? Yes, friends, the cute little hamlet of Lockport, located 25 km north of Winnipeg.

I visited a shop in town that is oh-so-cute, so I wanted to share some photos and a story with you!


 

Huda Haddad, owner of Eveline Street Clothing boutique, is in a rush to make it to the airport. She’s celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary in Banff and her flight leaves in an hour.

 

“I’m just leaving but come in and play. Try on anything you want. Try on these shoes,” she says, pointing to a bright green and purple pair. “You’ll love them. Most of these are custom. I have the best selection of Fluevogs in Manitoba.”

Fluevog Shoes
Fluevog Shoes

 

With that, she hands the store keys off to long-time customer-turned-employee Jaime Bouw and hits the road.

 

“That’s Huda,” says Bouw, 55, laughing. “She’s a whirlwind.”

 

Bouw is working her first shift alone at the store. Her regular gig is teaching girls about self-esteem and body positivity at a school in St. Andrews. She also teaches classes at Growing Years, a family resource centre in Selkirk. This weekend, she’s helping out at the boutique while Haddad is away.

cute clothes!
cute clothes!

 

Bouw gives us full run of the store, letting us try on dresses and rearrange shoe displays for photographs. When I hold up a coral sundress and ask its size, Bouw tells me that it’s one-size-fits-all.

 

Haddad says that Eveline Street is all about loving who you are. Size doesn’t matter here.

 

“I really feel strongly that women need to love their bodies,” Bouw says. “You come in here and everything fits you.”

 

“Huda’s so capable of making you feel like the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you’re wearing,” she says. “I think that’s what women are looking for.”

 

Haddad’s 21-year-old business has been built on creating relationships with the women that visit her store.

 

“This is a different kind of shopping experience,” Bouw explains. “It’s not just about making money – she delivers so much more.”

 

cozy!
cozy!

Open seven days a week from noon to 5 p.m., and located 25 kilometers north of Winnipeg, Haddad’s store is a stone’s throw from Lockport’s legendary locks. You can find the rustic shop beside Lockport Grocery – General Store and Liquor Vendor on Highway 44. For more information about Lockport, visit http://www.lockportmanitoba.ca. You can also visit Haddad’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EvelineStreetClothing.

When you visit Eveline Street Clothing, you are guaranteed to gain a few friends and a boost in self-confidence. You may leave Lockport with a lighter wallet, but you will also leave with a lighter heart.

Cute, right?

Next week on the blog, we’ll get back to books! I’m almost finished reading The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, and people, it’s crazy. More on that in the coming weeks!

Happy reading,
Katrina

 


 

Are you proud to be Canadian?

Hello readers!

This week, I’ll be reviewing a play I saw this week. I like theatre a lot (I’ll admit to being a huge fan of musicals!) –  theatre is another form of storytelling and it was a pleasure to go see Proud, put on by Theatre Projects Manitoba. If you have a chance, check it out – it’s on until November 16th!

A review of Proud by Michael Healey

“Although much of our life is rooted in the anxiety of time, in other words the fear of death, the continuity of knowledge and wisdom that has brought us here together is rooted in love, a love that is not only as strong as death, but able to cast out its fear.”
– Northrop Frye

As 75 first-year CreComm students gathered at the Rachel Browne Theatre this Wednesday to see Proud, a play by Michael Healey, the above quote was projected onto a black screen above a darkened set.

What does this quote have to do with the play? Up front, not much. But after spending time pondering how the quote related to the play, I realized that in some way, ‘the anxiety of time’, the ‘continuity of knowledge and wisdom’, and ‘love’, all have something to do with politics. What’s this now?

Here’s the connection between the quote and the play as I understand it: Healey’s production, according to the synopsis provided on the Theatre Projects Manitoba website, is a “biting political satire” that is “humorous and clever” in its exploration of the “corrosive nature of the politics of division.” And as the cast members acted out each scene with guile and hilarity, the roles of anxiety, wisdom, and love in politics became a little more apparent.

The play is set in an alternate reality right after the 2011 Federal Election, where the Conservatives have won a majority government. There were only four characters in the play: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Cary Baines, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, new Member of Parliament Jisbella Lyth, and her son, Jake.

Ross McMillan’s portrayal of Stephen Harper was the most entertaining and impressive role in the play. Healey’s Harper is true to reality in that his Harper has an outward persona that is controlled, cold, and calculating. But the best part of Healey’s Harper was the Harper behind closed doors. The ‘real’ Harper is awkward, passionate, wise, at times both mean and sweet, and lonely. In other words, human. And it was this human portrayal of Harper that had us laughing and falling in to ‘like’ with him. 

Political opinions and leanings aside, the Harper of Healey’s imagination was real and funny and (surprisingly?) likeable. Ross McMillan’s interpretation of the character made me want to believe that that is what Stephen Harper is like in real life – who knows, maybe Proud nails Harper’s true nature. After the play, members of the audience had a chance to question the director, Ardith Boxall, and all of the actors, in a Talkback session  (a brief Q+A period) and McMillan told us he has been studying Harper’s mannerisms since 2006 – you can tell he did a thorough character-study because his acting was spot on. I loved it.

I’ve never attended a play with a Talkback session afterwards and I thought that was a really valuable component to the play – having the chance to chat with the actors and director about certain aspects of the play as well as the metaphors and underlying messages in the play was awesome. It helped provide more insight into how they felt about the play and what the play was trying to say. 

My favourite scene in the play was between Jisbella and Harper after hours in his office, talking about beliefs. Healey’s Harper had simple goals to accomplish as Prime Minister – he didn’t care about abortion, he didn’t care about Quebec, and he really didn’t care about hockey. All he cared about was “self-reliance” and creating a government that would help Canadians realize a self-reliant life. This scene showed Harper’s version of love for Canada and politics, allowing us to see something other than the anxiety of controlling different branches of governments and creating laws that solve imaginary problems. 

One thing that surprised me (but didn’t surprise me, sadly) was how women in politics are portrayed. The character Jisbella Lyth was ridiculous: both bright and astoundingly dumb, and both politically savvy and extremely naive. Her character was obsessed with sex and not at all concerned about politics. She was a willing distraction and scapegoat. Harper created a political monster in her and then when he wanted to turn the situation he had created around, she dared him to try to ‘unmake’ her.

Is this how women in politics are perceived? Is this how women in general are perceived? Are we dumb, conniving, naive, sex-crazed creatures to be made and unmade? No. While Daria Puttaert did a phenomenal job portraying Jisbella Lyth, I really wanted to know how she felt about her character and what her character was saying about the role of women in politics and the (mis)treatment of women by the Harper government. I didn’t have a chance to ask this during the Talkback session – bummer. Anyways, fascinating stuff.

While I don’t know if this play invoked a “proud to be Canadian” vibe, I left the play proud of Canadian theatre – we have phenomenal playwrights, directors, and actors, not to mention those who work behind the scenes.

In all, this play was extremely well done. While only four characters and only one set could have been lacklustre or boring, the actors did a great job moving the story forward. Healey’s script was well-written and the play was well-executed under the direction of Boxall. To me, everything worked well and reminded me of some of the Fringe plays I’ve seen in the past, with small casts and political messages. Job well done.

I encourage you to check Proud out at the Rachel Browne Theatre this weekend if you can!

Next week, we’ll get back to books – I just finished The Goldfinch!

Until then, happy reading!
-Katrina