Tag Archives: Sheila Peters

Book Review: The Taste of Ashes by Sheila Peters

Sheila Peters’s novel, The Taste of Ashes, does not feel like a first novel.  It’s carefully crafted, multi-layered family narrative is complex and lyrical in a way that reveals Peters’s history as a poet and short-story writer.  The three primary narratives, that follow Isabel, Álvaro and Janna’s individual stories, are interwoven in such a way that even a few convenient coincidences – which could have seemed contrived and artificial – feel genuinely spontaneous and natural.

Each of the three main characters, Isabel, Álvaro and Janna, is flawed and complicated, but ultimately sympathetic.  Isabel, the heart of the novel, is a study in duality.  Her sensuous – in the most literal sense of the word – nature makes her an excellent mother when she is present, but also causes her to frequently fall off the rails and into the arms of random men.  Because we meet her after she’s sobered up and calmed down, her rift with Janna seems unfair and undeserved, but as we learn what ultimately precipitated their separation, Isabel becomes a more complete, if not more likeable character.

Álvero’s history is the most complex and his broken psyche and body, the result of brutal torture at the hands of Guatemalan authorities, are what bring The Taste of Ashes out of the realm of the ordinary.  Peters’s masterful description of the aftermath of torture, the anger and shame and fear that Álvero still feels creates a character that readers will find both frustrating and sympathetic.  His interactions with the other priests in his brotherhood, his questions about faith and God’s role in his life and the stages of his healing are fascinating and have an air of authenticity.

The third story, Janna’s thread in this narrative tapestry, is just as complex as Isabel and Álero’s and her character is just as flawed.  Peters wonderfully captures the voice of a very young woman with Janna’s aggravatingly know-it-all stubbornness.  Readers will be exasperated by her self-reliance, even when what she really needs is help and care, but that’s what gives her such verisimilitude.  We know women, particularly young women, who take the hardest path simply because help, especially from their mothers, makes them feel as if they failed.  Janna is not particularly likable but she is ultimately sympathetic and it’s refreshing that Peters does not have her change dramatically when the three stories are brought together.

Place plays a very important role in The Taste of Ashes and where the characters are from is as important as the characters themselves.  Peters intertwines small town northern British Columbia – which every northern reader will recognize as Smithers, BC– with the Vancouver of UBC students, the Vancouver of oblate priests, and exotic and turbulent Guatemala into a detailed and complex web.  Where the characters are from shapes them in subtle and significant ways and their individual histories in each place, especially the small northern town creates a narrative depth and beauty that few debut novels can achieve.

The Taste of Ashes, isn’t just the complicated history of one small town family, it’s a lyrical, richly detailed saga that draws the reader into the complexity of family relationships and ultimately reveals that redemption and healing are always possible.  The Taste of Ashes is a novel to savor.

Nicole Larson

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Summer is just around the corner (really, it’s just behind that thundercloud) at Books & Co, ArtSpace and Cafe Voltaire

It’s the middle of June and summer is just around the corner (really it is, I can see it behind that huge thundercloud).  Everyone is thinking about their summer holidays and whether it’s a simple get away to a lake or a destination more exotic, you should drop by for some great summer reads! Nothing beats a sunny day, a cool drink, a deck chair and a great novel (but don’t forget your sunscreen, melanoma isn’t cool people). So come in for advice on what to read while you unwind this summer. And if you’re looking for something to do in PG on a sunny or not so sunny day, nothing is cooler than the things happening in ArtSpace, Books & Co and Café Voltaire!

We’ve so excited that Sheila Peters is going to be in Café Voltaire TONIGHT, Wednesday, June 13 at 7:00 pm to read from her brand new (and very first) novel The Taste of Ashes! This wonderful new novel sees two unlikely worlds collide in a story of redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.  David Carpenter (a fantastic, award winning author from Saskatoon, who you can trust because I know him personally and he wouldn’t lie to you) says “Peters presents life at the ragged, angry and passionate edge of things and the result is a deeply felt love story.  What an impressive first novel.”

Looking for a concert that will defy expectations?  Well, we’ve got just the thing.  TOMORROW, Thursday, June 14th at 9:00 (doors open at 8:30) we’ve got renowned Hamilton comedic musician B.A. Johnston and the psychedelic garage rock sounds of Ketamines! If you think there aren’t enough songs about poutine, B.A. Johnston is your man! Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

Are you concerned about Bill C-38? Well, you’re not alone! The Citizens’ Environmental Advocacy Group is facilitating the Our Canada, Our Budget meeting for Prince George in ArtSpace at 7:00 pm on Friday, June 15! The meeting will provide an overview of Bill C-38, followed by invited speakers, and discussion.  Results from the meeting will be used by Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen to oppose the bill as it moves through the House and Senate!

We’ve also got our regular Friday Night Mics at 8:00 pm in Café Voltaire on Friday, June 15!  This week we’ve got the guitar and fiddle tunes of Tom Young. Tom will have your toes tapping and your fingers snapping with his fantastic sound!  As always, this event is free!

Hey Moms and Dads, did you know every Saturday morning at 10:00 am we’ve got a fantastic storytime?  And this week is Star Wars Storytime! Come in and browse (or have a coffee and a chat) while our booksters delight and amuse with Star Wars books and crafts!

And we’ve got another great concert on the way! Willy Blizzard will be in ArtSpace on Sunday, June 17 (a great outing for your Dad this Father’s Day) at 8:00 pm.  The music from this country folk group is never clichéd and always filled with Canadiana!  If you love folk, blue grass and a good old fashioned time, you need to come to this concert! Tickets are only $15 and are on sale NOW!

Monday, June 18 is the latest installment of the Prince George Correspondents’ Club (that letter writing thing we do).  Come in and write a letter to whomever you want (seriously, it can be anybody) and we’ll give you a coffee or tea and stamps.  We’ll event mail your letters at the end of the night! So, whether you’re a regular writer or want to start writing, come and visit us! We encourage all kinds of correspondence, but I really think it’s time to write to some MPs about what’s happening in Ottawa.  Are we really happy with the budget?  Who wants an oil pipeline through pristine forest? Really, back to work legislation for everything? Or if you like what’s happening, give them a pat on the back.  The PGCC meets on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of every month!

The PG Idol Preliminary Rounds are in ArtSpace June 18 to 21! We’ve got the best in Prince George’s undiscovered talent and these are great nights of fantastic music! The list of performers is up on the Dawn Boudreau Music website (http://www.dawnboudreau.com/node/6995), so come out and cheer for your PG Idol! Tickets available at the door!

Every Tuesday starting June 19, members of the Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance will be in Café Voltaire from 7:00 to 8:30 pm help people put together their Joint Review Panel presentations.  If you’ve registered to make an oral presentation and want some help polishing your thoughts and keeping to the time limits, they are the people to see!

Tickets for Sweet Serenade – Summer Edition (Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 in ArtSpace) brought to you by Dawn Boudreau Music are now available!  This amazing night of musical excellence features Olivia Johnson, Victoria Gabriel & Alyssa Gould with special guests Lorna Jane Simmons, Mackenzie Clarke & Sophia Egan.  Tickets are only $10!

Scrabble Addicts Unite! Do you know all of the 2 letter words for Q, X and Z (qi, ax, ex, xi, xu and za)?  Are you always playing Scrabble on your phone or Facebook? Do you do a little dance when you get a Bingo? Then we want you! Books & Co is starting a Scrabble Club (because a lot of us here are spending a lot of time playing Scrabble online and we want some human contact).  Come out on Tuesday, June 26 at 6:30 pm and meet other word addicts.  Bring your own board (if you’ve got one).  Scrabble club will meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month!

And in honour of Pride Week (which runs from July 4nd to 8th with events all over the city) ArtSpace is excited to be the venue for a Pre-Pride Open Mic/Literary Karaoke! Come out for a fantastic night of readings and music.  Things kick off at 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 30 and tickets are by donation at the door.

Books & Co, Café Voltaire and ArtSpace are CLOSED on Sunday, July 1st for Canada Day so you’ve got a chance to go to the Huble Homestead’s Dominion Day Celebrations! Celebrate Canada the old fashioned way with contests, prizes and cake! Events run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and a family admission is only $10! (We like to give the Huble Homestead a shout out once in a while, their office is just off ArtSpace and they’re great neighbours) Don’t forget the fantastic children’s book Mr. Huble Builds a House (illustrated by another ArtSpace neighbour, June Swanky Parker) is available at Books & Co NOW!

Are you an insane and slightly masochistic individual who occasionally dallies in the written word? Then the 3 Day Novel Support Group wants you! If you’re planning on attempting the 3 Day Novel Contest this year and want to meet other PG writers just as crazy, we’re the place to be.  For more information email Kayli at pyschopencils@hotmail.com.  There will be meetings throughout the summer up until the big weekend in September!

That’s it for this week folks, for more information about upcoming events or just the cool things that happen here, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter and did you know we’ve got a blog?  Well we do, find out our thoughts on all things books related at booksandcompany.wordpress.com

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Cool Things Are Happening for Dads and Grads (and everybody else) at Books & Co

It finally feels like summer is coming, we’ve had some lovely days (and some less lovely ones but we’re in Prince George so we wear shorts anyway!).  It’s time for graduations, (congrats to all of the UNBC, CNC and high school grads in the city) and to get out the grill and cook over an open fire.  We’ve got a display of cookbooks all set up for you grill aficionados (and they make great Fathers’ Day gifts, I’m just saying).  And not just that, but we’ve got a busy couple of weeks coming up at Books & Co, ArtSpace and Café Voltaire!  There are concerts and signings and readings and talks and a brand new Scrabble Club!

We’ve got a really interesting event for BC history buffs TONIGHTWednesday, June 6 at 7:00 pm.  Brendan Lillis will be in to talk about his new book Atlin’s Anguish, the true and tragic story of the crash of Taku Air Flight 2653.  On September 27, 1986, pilot Theresa Bond and five passengers took off on a routine flight from Atlin, BC, in her beloved de Havilland Beaver. After an uneventful eighty minutes, the plane crossed the edge of Dease Lake, turned south and descended for landing. But something went tragically wrong in those last few minutes of Flight 2653. According to eyewitnesses the Beaver nosedived into the lake at full cruising speed. As the plane sank into the icy depths of the lake, only pilot Theresa Bond managed to escape. All five passengers drowned. Atlin’s Anguish is Theresa Bond’s brother’s journey to understand what happened that fateful day on Dease Lake. And Caitlin Press, author Brendan Lillis and Books & Co are running a contest! If you buy a copy of Atlin’s Anguish you’ll be entered in a draw to win one (1) of two (2) one week stays in a deluxe condo in Kinsale, Ireland (some conditions apply, check in store for all of the small print, airfare not included).

TOMORROW! Thursday, June 7 at 7:00 pm in ArtSpace we are ridiculously excited to be hosting the world premiere of the PG produced movie My Unwanted Guest.  This tragic story of one man’s quest to reconnect a final time with his soul mate is fraught with peril.  On the way to his soul mate’s funeral, Daniel finds himself stranded at the bottom of a cliff where his very survival – let alone his chance of getting to the funeral on time – is not assured. Tickets are only $8 (and include pop and popcorn) and are available now at Books & Company!

Friday, June 8 is a big day at Books & Co, Café Voltaire and ArtSpace! The Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance is in Café Voltaire at 6:00 pm to celebrate Ocean’s Day! Come out for a lively discussion about how Bill C-38 will impact our oceans, learn what is at risk and strategize for the future.  We’ve also heard a rumour that you can win a Fish & Bird ticket for their concert in ArtSpace that night at 8:00 pm.

We’ve also got our regular Friday Night Mics scheduled for 7:00 pm in Café Voltaire! Prince George musical celebrity Raghu will be in with his gritty, achingly beautiful songs! We’re so happy to have him back and this is a show you won’t want to miss (I’ve heard Fish & Bird might drop by for a jam, too)! As always, this event is free, but note the earlier time because….

Our favorite indie-rock-folk-art band is back on Friday, June 8 at 8:00 pm in ArtSpace!  Victoria’s own Fish & Bird is back with their fabulous old-timey art-folk sound and we’ve got tickets (only $12) on sale at Books & Co RIGHT NOW!

Hey Moms and Dads, did you know every Saturday morning at 10:00 am we’ve got a fantastic storytime?  Come in and browse (or have a coffee and a chat) while our booksters delight and amuse with the best in classic and contemporary children’s stories!

Saturday, June 9 at 11:00 am in Café Voltaire Elizabeth Hutchinson will be signing God, Are You Listening? Are you so tired and burned out that you feel life is running you instead of you living it? Have you lost faith in yourself, in your life, and in God? In God, Are You Listening? Elizabeth Hutchinson provides the inspiration you need to find meaning and purpose in your life. She shares her own story of how the stress and strain of her responsibilities propelled her toward a life-threatening case of burnout. She describes in accessible language the process she undertook to arrive at what she calls “heart consciousness.”

Are you pregnant?  Thinking about getting pregnant? Have a pregnant partner? Then come out and discover what doulas do! Books & Company is super excited to present an informative Evening with Prince George Doulas on Monday, June 11 at 7:00 pm in Café Voltaire! Find out what doulas can do for you during and after your pregnancy and get all your questions answered by this panel of experienced doulas!

Scrabble Addicts Unite! Do you know all of the 2 letter words for Q, X and Z (qi, ax, ex, xi, xu and za)?  Are you always playing Scrabble on your phone or Facebook? Do you do a little dance when you get a Bingo? Then we want you! Books & Co is starting a Scrabble Club (because a lot of us here are spending a lot of time playing Scrabble online and we want some human contact).  Come out on Tuesday, June 12 at 6:30 pm and meet other word addicts.  Bring your own board (if you’ve got one).  Scrabble club will meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month!

We’ve so excited that Sheila Peters is going to be in Café Voltaire on Wednesday, June 13 at 7:00 pm to read from her brand new (and very first) novel The Taste of Ashes! This wonderful new novel sees two unlikely worlds collide in a story of redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.  David Carpenter (a fantastic, award winning author from Saskatoon, who you can trust because I know him personally and he wouldn’t lie to you) says “Peters presents life at the ragged, angry and passionate edge of things and the result is a deeply felt love story.  What an impressive first novel.”

And we’ve got another great concert on the way! Willy Blizzard will be in ArtSpace on Sunday, June 17 (a great outing for your Dad this Father’s Day) at 8:00 pm.  The music from this country folk group is never clichéd and always filled with Canadiana!  If you love folk, blue grass and a good old fashioned time, you need to come to this concert! Tickets are only $15 and are on sale NOW!

Monday, June 18 is the latest installment of the Prince George Correspondents’ Club (that letter writing thing we do).  Come in and write a letter to whomever you want (seriously, it can be anybody) and we’ll give you a coffee or tea and stamps.  We’ll event mail your letters at the end of the night! So, whether you’re a regular writer or want to start writing, come and visit us! We encourage all kinds of correspondence, but I really think it’s time to write to some MPs about what’s happening in Ottawa.  Are we really happy with the budget?  Who wants an oil pipeline through pristine forest? Really, back to work legislation for everything? Or if you like what’s happening, give them a pat on the back.

The PG Idol Preliminary Rounds are in ArtSpace June 18 to 21! We’ve got the best in Prince George’s undiscovered talent and these are great nights of fantastic music! The list of performers is up on the Dawn Boudreau Music website (http://www.dawnboudreau.com/node/6995), so come out and cheer for your PG Idol! Tickets available at the door!

Tickets for Sweet Serenade – Summer Edition (Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 in ArtSpace) brought to you by Dawn Boudreau Music are now available!  This amazing night of musical excellence features Olivia Johnson, Victoria Gabriel & Alyssa Gould with special guests Lorna Jane Simmons, Mackenzie Clarke & Sophia Egan.  Tickets are only $10!

That’s it for this week folks, for more information about upcoming events or just the cool things that happen here, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter and did you know we’ve got a blog?  Well we do, find out our thoughts on all things books related atbooksandcompany.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Emails, Friday Nights at Cafe Voltaire, Literary Event

Spring is in the air at Books & Company

Signs of spring are popping up (or, you know, sinking down in the case of gigantic potholes) all over Prince George!  Snow is melting, and I saw a couple of people wearing shorts the other day (I’m willing to go without my coat, but shorts seem a bit extreme).  The time change means it’s light out when the store opens and that the sun doesn’t go down before people head home from work.  A general feeling of well being has pervaded the bookstore and you can share that feeling if you drop in for one of the fantastic upcoming events at Books & Company, ArtSpace or Café Voltaire!

TONIGHT, TONIGHT there’s a party in ArtSpace! The Arrogant Worms are coming to ArtSpace on March 14! This is going to be a fantastically hilarious show from Canada’s funniest band and you can get tickets for only $30 each. There might be a couple left…maybe.

From March 5 – 30 we’re proud to be hosting the Envisioning Change – Prince George Women Share their Experiences of Substance Use and Mental Health Photography ExhibitionHead up and look around anytime ArtSpace is open!

Join the Caledonia Ramblers in ArtSpace on Friday, March 16 at 7:00 pm for a fantastic slideshow by Sheila Page!  Sheila will be presenting a slideshow of her recent trip to Central Asia on the Silk Road!

It’s back people! OPEN MIC NIGHT is back this Friday, March 16 at 8:00 pm in Café Voltaire.  So start singing those scales and get ready to wow the crowd with your musical talent.  As always, this Friday Night Mic event is free!

Did you know we’ve got a Spectacular Storytime Every Saturday Morning at 10:00 am! Our expert storytellers provide spice (and excellent scary, funny and weird voices) to classic and modern tales! So drop in with your youngsters and enjoy a coffee while they listen to stories and make crafts!

The Sixth Annual Traveling World Film Festival rolls into PG on March 16! With films about social justice, the economics of agriculture, oil and general consumption and much, much more, this is a fantastic week of wonderful documentary film!  ArtSpace if pleased to host:

City of Borders at 2:00 pm on Sunday, March 18

Freedom Riders at 3:15 pm on Sunday, March 18

Vegucated at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, March 20

Urban Roots at 8:25 pm on Tuesday, March 20

Survival, Strength, Sisterhood at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 21

Raw Opium at 7:45 pm on Wednesday, March 21

Point Holmes at 7:00 pm on Friday, March 23

Rainforest at 7:20 pm on Friday, March 23

SpOil at 8:20 pm on Friday, March 23

A full schedule is available on the Books & Company website (www.booksandcompany.ca).  Festival passes ($30 for the whole week or $5 per day) are available now!

And we’re still running the Prince George Correspondents’ Club (That Letter Writing Thing)! Come in for coffee and a chance to catch up on your letters to friends, family and anybody else you think deserves to hear your thoughts (I plan on writing to my MLA about the teachers’ strike, and a few different MPs about saving both the CBC and Library and Archives Canada from significant funding cuts).  Monday, March 19 at 6:30 pm in Café Voltaire.  We’ve got stamps (and paper and pens and envelopes of you need them).

Drop in and see author Robert Mackay while he’s here signing his fantastic historical novel: Soldier of the Horse! Set during WWI and detailing the life of one of the few cavalry units in the war, Soldier of the Horse has been called a “grand gripping yarn” by the Vancouver Sun.  Robert Mackay will be in Books & Company from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 24th.

In conjunction with Creekstone Press, Books and Company is really please to present a night of Resistance Poetry on Monday, March 26 at 7:00 pm in ArtSpace.  This wonderful evening features the launch of The Enpipe Line: 70,000+ kilometres of poetry written in resistance to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal.  The evening will feature readings from northern contributors Rob Budde, Al Rempel, Sheila Peters, Weston McGee & Charlene Mattson and special guests Sarah de Leeuw and Gillian Wigmore.

That’s it for this week folks, for more information about upcoming events or just the cool things that happen here, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter and did you know we’ve got a blog?  Well we do, find out our thoughts on all things books related at booksandcompany.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Emails, Friday Nights at Cafe Voltaire, Literary Event