Tag Archives: Café Voltaire

Book review: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I finally did it folks, I jumped on the Hunger Games bandwagon.

Absolutely outstanding.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded y twelve outlying districts.  The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games.  But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (The Hunger Games book jacket.)

A post-apocalyptic, dystopian tale beginning with the incredible, macabre The Hunger Games and ending with the shocking, appalling and encouragingly hopeful Mockingjay.

The Hunger Games trilogy is written from the (first person) perspective of heroine Katniss Everdeen, District Twelve candidate and champion of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games: a brutal fight-to-the-death between twenty-four children, televised for mandatory viewing by all citizens of Panam.  The sixteen-year-old daughter of Panam’s mining district finds her life turned upside down when her beloved young sister, Primrose (Prim), is chosen as Hunger Games tribute for their district.  Though wisely fearful of the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place in them without hesitation.

While intended for a young-adult (fourteen to twenty-two-year-olds, roughly) audience, The Hunger Games trilogy has something for everyone.  Collins has given us an opportunity to study the fall and subsequent recreation of her imagined society: a post-apocalyptic world where Nineteen Eighty-Four meets Lord of the Flies, with hints of A Brave New World.  If you take a look beyond the horror and gloom of cataclysmic themes, this series is about hope.  Here you have a collection of characters, surviving an unforgiving world, who are heaved into unimaginable trials.  The major players in these books – Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Gale Hawthorne, Haymitch Abernathy and even Finnick Odair – travelled the road from innocence to experience.  Sure they had all witnessed cruelty, tragedy and tyranny, from the get-go, but they were also always distanced from it.  The Hunger Games changed that, for those directly involved in them and for those whose loved ones were directly involved in them.  All the same, they fought on.  Katniss, despite her inner turmoil, is an incredibly strong, capable and independent woman who did not give up and did not stop finding ways to thumb her nose at despotic Capitol even when she knew that such egregious insult could cost her her life.  Even Peeta, while suffering grievous injury, neither slowed nor backed down in the face of adversity.  In both of these character cases tucking tail and running would result in pain to their loved ones and would strengthen Capitol’s hold on the districts and their people.  Katniss, Peeta and their family and friends fought because they believed it would help.  They loved, they lost, they grieved and, ultimately, they hoped.  Not a bad lesson.

My only real objection in this series is static nature of several of Collins’s characters.  She spent a great deal of energy, understandably and rightly, on Katniss, so much so that some of her other principles felt a little hollow.  Most glaringly, and unfortunately, Peeta and Gale.  Where they should have been just as dynamic and sympathetic, they were a bit too “Edward and Jacob” for my liking.  Though inherently more valuable (and considerably better written), these men seemed to act as little more than love interests for Katniss (neither of whom she was terribly passionate about) or plot drivers.  Miss Everdeen stands in the ranks of Princess Cimorene and Hermione while Peeta and Gale stumble to keep up.  It’s a terrible shame, they have great potential.

All in all?  An amazing read.  I can’t recommend the series enough.  It makes a fabulous gift for your favourite reader or a wonderful treat for yourself!  Pick up a copy . . . at Books & Co.  Then have a soup and a Panini, or a muffin and a coffee.  And read.

PS. The Hunger Games is going to be released as a feature film this month (March 23, 2012)!

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This post brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood Kim “G-Unit” G: former Books & Co. bookster, current UNBC bookster and constant reader.
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The lost art of letter writing

Remember the feeling of opening your mailbox to find something other than a bill or a flyer or a magazine?  A handwritten letter from a friend or family member brings a special kind of joy.  With email and texting and Facebook and Twitter it seems like we’re more connected than ever, but nothing replaces a handwritten letter. Maybe it has an oddly shaped envelope, or is written in an interesting colour, or maybe it had extra scribbles in the margins because the writer doodled while they were thinking of what to say, but a handwritten letter is unique and we want to bring it back!

So Books and Company (and Café Voltaire) is starting a letter writing club.  Come in (bring stationary, extra to share or trade if you want) and just write.  Write to your best friend from high school who moved away and you haven’t seen for 10 years or write to your grandma who you always mean to write to but can never seem to find the time or write to your niece who just learned to read and you want to introduce the joy of a handwritten letter to.  We don’t care who you write to, or what you write (and we won’t judge your handwriting) we just want people to start writing and sending (and hopefully receiving) letters again.

So, come in on Monday, December 12 at 6:30 pm for the first installment of the Prince George Correspondents’ Club.  We’ll have coffee (free for letter writers) and stamps available (also free for letters sent to Canadian recipients) and we’ll make sure your letter makes it to a Canada Post mailbox.

It’s December so we suggest you write Christmas letters or even Letters to Santa, but it’s up to you what you write!

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Upcoming Events at Books and Co for November 16

It’s getting cold and snowy folks, but we’ve got hot concerts and events all month at Books & Co, Café Voltaire and ArtSpace.

This Friday, November 18, Café Voltaire is pleased to welcome Eric Tompkins to the stage for our Friday Night Mics series.  Eric, as most of you will know, is our usual host for our Friday Night Mics, but this week he takes to the stage (at 7:00 pm because of the Alex Cuba concert in ArtSpace at 8:00 pm) on his own for a selection of jazz and blues guitar classics.  This is an event not to be missed!

There’s still time to get tickets for Alex Cuba in ArtSpace for this Friday, November 18.  This hot latin concert will warm the cold night!  Tickets are available NOW (and only $30)!  Come in and pick them up so you don’t miss out on one of the most fantastic concerts of the fall!

On Saturday, November 19 at 2:00 pm in Café Voltaire, Phoenix Whylock will be launching her new short story collection The Good, The Bad and Everything Inbetween.  Her collection explores all aspects of the human condition and this young PG writer is going to be a voice to watch in the future!

And Ed Zaruk, is presenting the 3rd in his Writing 101 workshops at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 19 in ArtSpaceDrop in for this week’s workshop: Developing Characters With Emotion and get some valuable tips on how to make your reader really care about you characters.  Each workshop is $15.

And on Sunday, November 20 at 3:30 pm in ArtSpace, we’ve got a special All Things Munsch storytime and crafternoon!  We’ll be celebrating the wonderful world of Robert Munsch (Robert Munsch not included) with stories and crafts including paper bag puppets for The Paper Bag Princess.  This event is open to kids of all ages so if you love Munsch, drop by!

On Wednesday, November 23 at 7:00 pm in Café Voltaire, come in and see realtor extraordinaire Trevor Bolin explain how to Take Charge and Change Your Life Today!  Trevor’s new book explains how he reached the top of his industry and provides techniques and skills to help you reach the top 1% of you industry.

And on Thursday, November 24 at 7:00 pm, Café Voltaire is pleased to welcome PG’s Outdoor Pool Open Mic hosted by Prince George Poet Josh Massey!   There will be 10 slots available for readers and you’re invited to come in beach attire! Come early and enjoy some of the best Prince George’s literary scene has to offer!

On Saturday, November 26 at 11:00 am, author and paramedic Michael Burzek is back to sign copies of his fascinating look into emergency medicine, Blood on My Shirt.  Mike’s book is an intriguing look into freak accidents, bar fights and heart attacks and provides an honest, eye-opening snapshot of a day in the life of an EMT!

And we’ve got tickets for some hot concerts later in November too!  On Saturday, November 26 Smithers musician Mark Perry, will be in ArtSpace with his unique brand of folk and BC favorite, Jill Barber will be in ArtSpace on Sunday, November 27.  Come in for tickets to both of these soon, ‘cause they’re going fast.

Books & Co and Café Voltaire are very, very pleased to announce our first Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 11 at 8:00 am.  Bring in your little ones for a special breakfast of French Toast Fingers (with berries and whipped cream of course), Fruit Salad, Bacon and Punch (and Coffee for Mom and Dad) and a visit from Santa and his elves!  There will be a Christmasy storytime, a holiday sing-along, crafts and lots of opportunity to tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas (and to take pictures).  Your $10 ticket includes your breakfast, but hurry because tickets are limited and on sale now!

No time for holiday baking and tired of Costco trays?  Look no farther than Café Voltaire’s Holiday Goodies Trays! These freshly baked plates of holiday cheer are perfect for office parties and family get-togethers.  The trays come in a variety of sizes to suit any office or family event.  They are sure to bring a smile to even the grinchest Grinch! Drop in and pick up a menu right away!

And remember, if you’ve got a club, group or organization that needs a place to meet, Café Voltaire has the perfect atmosphere!

That’s it for this week, folks!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook (we love your feedback), Twitter (140 characters or less), our blog and on our fantastic homepage!

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Upcoming Books & Co Events for October 26th

There’s a definite nip in the air and it’s snowing like crazy…in Mackenzie, but that doesn’t mean hot things aren’t happening at Books & Co in the next couple of weeks!  We’ve got authors and parties and music and more!

TOMORROW: Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 pm we’ve got Bonita Forsyth, the fantastic children’s and young adult author who wrote the classic Snowboarding Bunny.  Bonita will be reading from her wonderful new fantasy novel Fire, the sequel to her marvelous Ice

Friday Night Mics is super psyched to present Folksinger Denis Straussfogel at 8:00 pm in Café Voltaire this Friday, October 28.  Come out for a fantastic night of classic covers of fabulous folk music!  As always this event is FREE.

Tickets are still available (but going fast) for the Navaz & Los Gringos show in Art Space on October 29 at 8:00 pm. All the way from Argentina to Iran, this show will blow you away with fantastic global music!  Tickets are only $15 ($10 for students) and available at Books & Co right now!

If that’s not enough, Books & Co is having a Howling Halloween Party on October 30 at 2:00 pm in ArtSpace.  There will be a special storytime, games, crafts and prizes for kids who come in costume!

But wait, that’s not all!  Come on out for the special Warm-Up to Coldsnap Party on October 30th at 8:00 pm in ArtSpace.  The entire Coldsnap 2012 Lineup will be announced and blues legend Colin Linden will provide a taste of the wonderful concerts coming up in the new year!  Tickets are still available at Books & Co, but don’t wait to get them at the door or you might miss out on a fantastic night!

And if politics is your purview, Books & Co and Café Voltaire are hosting an all Candidates Forum focused on issues near and dear to our hearts: Arts Funding and Downtown Business Development on Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 pm.  Come in to find out each candidate’s ideas about how to keep the arts vital in Prince George and how to encourage people to shop, eat and just spend time downtown!  There will be time for questions and a chance to talk to the candidates!

On Saturday, November 5 at 11:00 am, local author Whisper Demoss is in to sign copies of her thrilling new book Escape from Manhattan.  Drop by and learn about this death defying tale of mystery, adventure and one family’s travels from New York to Alberta after the towers fell on 9-11.

Starting on November 5 at 2:00 pm in ArtSpace (and continuing on every Saturday in November) Quesnel author and writing instructor Ed Zaruk is offering a series of writing workshops!  Workshops are $15 each or $50 for all four ($10 each for students).  Drop in for one or all!  Topics include: Show Don’t Tell, How to Write Dialogue, Developing Characters with Emotion and Mistakes I’ve Made Along the Way.  For more information please contact Nicole at booksandcompanyevents@gmail.com

November 7 is a bit night in Café Voltaire and ArtSpace! Not only dies it see the return of Literary Karaoke at 7:00 pm, but Peter Katz will be upstairs for the Prince George leg of his “Live at the Music Gallery” CD/DVD release tour!

And we’ve got tickets for Joanna Chapman-Smith, the Canadian Songstress that CBC’s Q called “The slinky-voiced Canadian whose arch acoustic musings and fondness for the accordion come laced with a hint of Parisian cafes and East European Klezmer music.”  Tickets for her November 12 show in ArtSpace ($12 in advance, $15 at the door) are available NOW!

And who could forget: Alex Cuba (seriously, Alex Cuba)!  He’s going to be in ArtSpace on November 18th.  Tickets are available NOW!  Come in and pick them up so you don’t miss out on one of the most fantastic concerts of the fall!

And remember, if you’ve got a club, group or organization that needs a place to meet, Café Voltaire has the perfect atmosphere!

That’s it for this week, folks!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook (we love your feedback), Twitter (140 characters or less), our blog and on our fantastic homepage!

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What’s Happening at Books & Co Starting October 19

Cool and frosty mornings are ahead, but don’t let the chilly nights keep you from coming in to Books & Company, Café Voltaire and ArtSpace for some of our wonderful musical, community and literary events (and hot soup, don’t forget our wonderful, homemade soups)!

TONIGHT (October 19)!  Award winning Canadian author Wayne Johnston is coming to the store.  He’s the author of the wildly successful The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (among others) and will be at Café Voltaire to read from his wonderful latest novel A World Elsewhere.  Things kick off at 7:00 pm!  Come early so you get a good seat

AND if that weren’t enough, Roy Forbes is playing in ArtSpace on Friday, October 21 at 8:00 pm! We’re really excited to be the Prince George stop on this folk music legend’s 40th Anniversary Tour! Come out and see one of BC’s very best, who are we kidding, Canada’s very best folk musicians!  Tickets are still available (but going fast) and cost only $25.

We’re also super excited to announce that we’ve got OPEN MIC NIGHT in Café Voltaire this Friday, October 21.  Come out and showcase your musical abilities on vocals, guitar, piano, trumpet or washboard!  If you can play it, we want to hear it!   But, if you’re not ready to unleash your inner diva, don’t despair, simply come out and support those on stage.  As always, things kick off at 8:00 pm and are FREE.

Monday, October 24, members of the Prince George Safe Water Coalition are hosting a Safe Water Panel in ArtSpace starting at 7:00 pm.  Come out and discover what’s happening in our aquifer!

On Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 pm we’ve got fantastic young adult author Bonita Forsyth (the author of Snowboarding Bunny) reading from her wonderful new fantasy novel Fire, the sequel to her marvelous Ice

And don’t forget the special Navaz & Los Gringos show in Art Space on October 29 at 8:00 pm. All the way from Argentina to Iran, this show will blow you away with fantastic global music!  Tickets are only $15 ($10 for students) and available at Books & Co right now!

If that’s not enough, Books & Co is having a Howling Halloween Party on October 30 at 2:00 pm in ArtSpace.  There will be a special storytime, games, crafts and prizes for kids who come in costume!

But wait, that’s not all!  Come on out for the special Warm-Up to Coldsnap Party on October 30th at 8:00 pm in ArtSpace.  The entire Coldsnap 2012 Lineup will be announced and blues legend Colin Linden will provide a taste of the wonderful concerts coming up in the new year!  Tickets are available at Books & Co right now!

Things are really humming here this fall!  Starting in November author and instructor Ed Zaruk is offering a series of writing workshops every Saturday afternoon in ArtSpace.  For more information please contact Nicole at booksandcompanyevents@gmail.com  and check future coming events emails!

And we’ve also got tickets for Alex Cuba (seriously, Alex Cuba)!  He’s going to be in ArtSpace on November 18th.

We’ve also got plans for a City Councilor Candidates forum on Arts Funding and Downtown Business Development, book clubs for kids, and lots and lots of author visits!

And remember, if you’ve got a club, group or organization that needs a place to meet, Café Voltaire has the perfect atmosphere!

That’s it for this week, folks!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook (we love your feedback), Twitter (140 characters or less), our blog and on our fantastic homepage!

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October 5th Cafe Voltaire and Books & Co Events Email

Autumn is officially underway at Books & Co

As we stare across the river, through the mist to the golden trees beyond, it’s clear that our not-so-summery summer is truly over.  But it just means chilly nights and foggy mornings are made that much better with the homemade soups and warm drinks in Café Voltaire!  We’re open late every weeknight and that makes us the perfect place for an intimate coffee or a rousing discussion!

And of course, we’ve always got something happening!

This Friday in Café Voltaire as part of our wildly successful Friday Night Mics, we’ve got Ben Beattie (one quarter of the much missed and completely delightful The Delightful Gang) performing his own brand of acoustic jazzy pop in a special going away show before he leaves Prince George!  Ben Beattie’s Going Away Show kicks off at 8:00 pm and is free, as always!  Come see him now, so that in a couple of years when he’s up on stage receiving that Grammy, you can tell people, I saw Ben Beattie in Café Voltaire and it was incredible!

And, of course we’ve also got our weekly storytime every Saturday morning at 10:00 am.  Leave your little loved ones in the care of our marvelous bookster Asia while you browse for your own reads or enjoy a coffee with other parents.  At the end of the month (and the last Saturday of every month from now on), October 29, we’ve also got a 2nd special French Language storytime at 11:00 am with bilingual bookster Taylor.

Sunday, October 9 and Monday, October 10 we’re closed so we can give thanks for the past summer (despite is uncertain weather) and share a meal with the ones we love.  We encourage all of you to do the same.

Tickets are still available for Western Roots music legends Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard’s magnificent show on October 13!  Come out for this fantastic opportunity to see some of Canada’s best loved folk and country artists combined for a wonderful night of music.  Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard will be playing Art Space starting at 8:00 pm on October 13.  Tickets are $25 and available now!

Coming up the following week it’s all about authors: Stan Chung comes by on Sunday, October 16 at 2:00 pm to talk about his new book Global Citizen, local poet GP Lainsbury launches his latest collection, Versions of North on Monday, October 17 at 7:00 pm and Wednesday, October 19 at 7:00 pm award winning, popular and fantastically funny Newfoundland author Wayne Johnston will be here to talk about his wonderful new novel A World Elsewhere.

AND there are more wonderful concerts coming up for Art Space this fall, too!  We’ve currently got tickets for Adrian Glynn on October 16th, Roy Forbes on October 21st, Colin Linden as part of Coldsnap on October 30th and Alex Cuba (seriously, Alex Cuba) on November 18th.

And don’t forget the special Navaz & Los Gringos show in Art Space on October 29 at 8:00 pm. All the way from Argentina to Iran, this show will blow you away with fantastic global music!  Tickets are only $15 ($10 for students) and available at Books & Co right now!

We’ve also got plans for writing workshops, book clubs for kids and a Howling Halloween Party so stay tuned for future updates!

That’s it for this week, folks!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook (we love your feedback), Twitter (140 characters or less), our blog and on our fantastic homepage!

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Barbara Stewart Reads from her Memoir Campie – TONIGHT

BC author Barbara Stewart will be in Cafe Voltaire reading from her new memoir Campie in Cafe Voltaire tonight at 7:00 pm.  This memoir is about more than simply her time cleaning an oil rig camp, it’s about her personal transformation, her realizations about how she got to a place in her life where camp work was her only option and her emotional transformation.

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