Fave Five: Fall Reads

Know that feeling when you finish a good book and fear you may miss the characters like they were your friends? Most of us on the fourth floor are just that type of bookworm.When a lot of  reading is a big part of our job, a good book is the sweet downtime we crave to connect with our inner fantasy world, even just for an hour or two.  

Like any awesome book club, we whittled down our communal list to five (sometimes) funny, (often times) historical and (every-so-often) light reads!

1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

Not only is the man the host and co-creator of the national
radio program Q, but Ghomeshi has now added the title of author to his resume.

Set in one year of his life, Ghomeshi pens a coming-of-age story based on the desire of his 14-year-old self to be David Bowie: eyeliner and all. Much to the chagrin
of his Iranian parents, Ghomeshi embarked on the journey to transform himself in order to win the
heart of an older woman (she was sixteen – oh, young love) in Thornhill. Funny and
heart-warming, the story is structured around 12 songs and important
moments from 1982. The book will be released by Penguin Canada tomorrow!
The Paris
by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife captures
Chicago in the 1920s. Chronicling the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife
Hadley, who had all but given up on love before she met the famed author at the
age of 28. Before meeting Hemingway, Hadley was a gifted musician,
taking care of her sick mother. The golden couple of that era, they had a whirlwind romance before moving to Paris. Transitioning into the Parisian
lifestyle proves difficult, as Ernest struggles to find the voice that will
make his writings famous, documenting his life in a novel that would eventually
become The Sun Also Rises. Meanwhile,
Hadley struggles to hold onto her sense of self, juggling the role of wife,
friend and muse to the budding author. As if that wasn’t enough, a deception
 involving Hadley’s friend threatens to unravel their marriage.

Major “aww” factor: it is said that Hemingway wrote “that
he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
” That is
until you realize how creepy is it to have a love triangle with your BFF, and
that Hemingway was married four times…

And the award for the longest book title goes to… Putilizer
Prize-winner Studs Terkel. Yes,
it’s not exactly the new kid on the block but still a book that we can
easily pick up during busy times because it’s written in small, easy to
digest pieces.

Dolores the waitress, with the grace of a
ballerina, the parking attendant who says ‘working people are better tippers
than Cadillac drivers’ and the cashier of thirty years who
can tell totals without looking at the screen are the subjects of the book that take us through the
lives of everyday workers, giving snippets of their triumphs, fears and (inevitable) lay-offs.

The story shows how they survived the daily grind and how they’ve been
touched by the people they encounter while on the job.  

Dotted with illustrations and photos from the 1900s, the
novel takes us through the beginnings of Gabrielle Chanel, her ascend to Coco Chanel, and the celebration of her creative genius and the only fashion
designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Chanel is synomous with couture collections and the signature No.5 scent, and
much has been written about her beginnings as a seamstress and her fashionable return (at
the age of 70) to resurrect the House of Chanel. 

Hal Vaughan, in this part-suspense thriller, part-wartime narrative, tells the story of Chanel’s life
between 1941 and 1954 which has never been fully told by Chanel or by her many
biographers. Vaughan reveals Chanel’s collaboration and affair with high-ranking
Nazi officials, how she became a German intelligence operative and how she escaped an arrest in France. It’s a gripping read for fashionistas and bookworms alike.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry gives us a sneak peek into
the life of Harold Fry, a retiree living with his wife Maureen who is very
particular about the difference between jam and marmalade. 

One morning, Harold receives a post from an old co-worker, Queenie Hennessy (a name evoking images of
dollies, pink things and frolicky puppies) who writes her goodbyes from a
hospice. With a response in hand, Harold walks to the mail box to reply with well
wishes, but along the way is compelled to deliver the letter by hand, believing
that as long as he keeps walking, Queenie will live. 

This is the first novel by Rachel Joyce, incorporating a light read with bold characters that come to life- heck, Harold
could be one of our grandfathers…if they were British…

Fave 5: Things to pack for the beach

Spending a lazy, sunny day at the beach is as much a rite of summer as eating corn-on-the-cob and ducking out of work early to enjoy a drink on the patio. Too many times we find ourselves in such a rush to plant ourselves on the sand that we forget to pack some essential items. To keep your trip waterside as blissful as possible, we’ve done the work for you and rounded up the top five things you should bring to the beach. 

Beach Blanket

Make sure to match your bathing suit to your beach blanket.

A towel is important if you’re planning on taking a dip, but no one wants to sit on a soggy piece of terry cloth (at least, not us). Enter the beach blanket. You want one that is lightweight, large enough to share with friends and preferably in a fun colour or pattern. We love this throw from Anthropologie or this upcycled blanket from Etsy, but you can use an old sheet if you’re in a bind. 


The easiest sunscreen application. 

We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but we can’t stress the importance of wearing sunscreen this summer. Be sure to apply at least 30 minutes before heading outside and throw it in your bag to re-apply every 1-2 hours. We already gave some suggestions on our favourite organic sunscreen brands (read it here), but wanted to share one more. Lesa Hannah tweeted about this sunscreen “game changer” Janine Falcon introduced her to: Sun Defense Minerals by Eminence. This mineral-based face protector is easily applied with a brush and is hypoallergenic – perfect for those with sensitive skin. 

Hydrating drinks

We’re partial to this flask from the Drake General Store. 

As much as we love Ontario’s lakes, we wouldn’t recommend gulping it down if you’re thirsty. It’s extra-important to stay hydrated in the heat, so pack some hydrating drinks (and no, alcohol absolutely does not count) to bring with you. Water is always your best bet, but a refreshing home-brewed iced tea would work too. Gracie Carroll has an easy recipe over on her blog.

A good read

Can’t beat a great love story at the beach.

Whether it’s a trashy gossip mag or you’re re-reading Anna Karenina, a good read is a beach essential. We’re partial to fun, lighter reads in the summertime. Some of our top suggestions: Summer Sisters, Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, The Night Circus or Your Voice in my Head.

A cute cover-up

Better than cute, this cover-up is on sale right now at Shopbop.

After a day in the sun and sand, there’s nothing less appealing than putting on “real” clothing. Cover-ups are easy to throw on over you bathing suit whether you’re heading to the restroom or  wanting to keep that beach-y vibe going once you leave. The perfect cover-up should be lightweight, so its also perfect to throw on if you’re getting a bit too much sun. 

Rave: Summer Reads

Shhh! Here on the fourth floor, not only are we stylish femmes, but we are also bookworms. This summer, we have scoped out some of the best local pools  and exotic travel hot spots. While we always pack the sunscreen for these sunny locales, our best accessory is a good read. 

Check out our recommendations:

This non-fiction novel tells the story of the late Henrietta Lacks, a tobacco farmer. Her DNA continues to “live” within millions of people today as something known as HeLa cells. In 1951, her cells were taken from her without her knowledge, never compensated for, and used to develop the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and more. Billions of her cells are still used today, yet her family is unable to afford health insurance. Penned by Rebecca Skloot, this story takes us back to the American South in the 1950s, mirrored by the unanswered questions we still have today about this woman who helped revolutionize the medical world.

We fell in love with the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Now writing as Madeleine Wickham, Kinsella brings us the saga of Milly’s wedding. Sculpted ice swans filled with oysters anyone? Seeing as two ladies on the fourth floor are brides-to-be, let’s hope they avoid these calamities! A sure bet for a weekend on the sand or at the cottage.

For some serious vacationing (or “staycationing”), we need an equally serious read. David Housholder does just that, bringing us a story of two individuals born on opposite sides of the world when the Berlin Wall falls. Their only connection is a mistake made by their great grandparents year ago. Together, they seek liberation from the disappointments in life. We won’t give away the ending, but can guarantee you won’t to put it down, except maybe to take a sip of a Mai-Tai.

Did we miss any must-reads for the next few months? Let us know @rockitpromo.

Meet our team: Amalia

Amalia is one of our newest team members, and has been a lovely addition to the fourth floor. She’s just graduated from Algonquin College, after studying Public Relations for two years. Previously, she graduated from the same college with a degree in hospitality management.

The only child (she wishes she had a sister!) is originally from Bogota, Colombia and moved to Ottawa with her mom in 2003. She loves to travel, and has visited eight countries so far. She secretly loves reality TV, especially any show on MTV. When she grows up, she wants to have dinner parties every weekend, a walk-in closet and a career in PR. We say she’s off to a running start.

How long have you been part of the team?

Two months. 

What do you love most about living in Toronto?
I’ve only been living in the city for two months, but I can easily say that I really like the diversity of the city the best. Everything from the architecture to the people you see in the streets, from the west end to the east end, everything is so unique. (I love you too, Ottawa!)

What song gets you out on the dance floor?
Anything by Justin Timberlake. Wanna see me dance? Throw on Sexy Back and you will witness this girl jamming like it’s 2006 all over again.

Favourite movie of all time?
I think I’d have to say a toss between The Holiday and any of the Harry Potter movies. As far as The Holiday goes, there’s something romantic about the little cottage in the outskirts of London, and Jude Law is very easy on the eyes. Harry Potter and I go way back. My best friend and I (hi Steph!) even made a point to go to the midnight showing of the latest movie (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows). We totally geeked out, and stood in line for almost five hours.
How do you like to relax?
Sitting in my backyard, and listening to the sounds around me. It’s funny how little attention we pay to our surroundings, and every now and then, it’s good to be reminded of all the simple things around us.

Best part about being a publicist? 
So far, I love that I am always doing different projects. My best moment to date has been interviewing Carly Pope for On The Fourth Floor.

A little more from the fourth floor: 

Website: Hands down, Lainey Gossip.

Designer: I covet all Steve Madden shoes. Boots. Heels. Name it, I own it.

Store: Harnn and Thann (in Ottawa). They sell amazing skincare products.

Book: Into The Wild. Though I only read this book a couple of months ago, it’s still haunting me (in the best way possible).

Snack: Granola bars.

Season: Fall, nothing beats crisp mornings and sunny afternoons. 

Sexy: Silk.

Inspiration: My mom and grandma.

Drink: Chamomile tea, as an iced tea. Try it, it’s super refreshing. 

Motto in two three words: Love it All.

What’s In Your… Carry On?

We all know by now: whether it’s a short flight or you’re in for the long haul, keep your prods to a minimum. And by minimum, we only mean 30 mL or less. In terms of how many items you want to bring on though, well, that’s still left up to you and the size of your travel bag, luckily. We asked our office what their carry-on staples are, and this is what we’re rocking:

Michelle: I typically bring a mix of magazines in all sorts of genres so I don’t get bored. My selection would look something like: Toronto Life, Flare, Nylon, Adbusters and one tabloid like Us Weekly.

I would DIE without music, so always have to have my iPod. It helps me tune out the sound of other people snoring, kids crying, someone coughing, etc. And I have a huge fear of my luggage getting lost, so I always bring one outfit and pair of shoes in my carry on, just in case.
Lara: As soon as I clear customs, my traditions kick in. First stop: Starbucks for a Frappucino. 

Second stop: mindless magazines and a bottle of water. These are added into my overstuffed carry-on, which also always has a few other things, like ear phones. 

I barrel through new releases on flights. I never travel with out my various chargers – Blackberry, iPod and camera. If there’s one place where I find the leggings trend appropriate, it’s on a plane. Enter comfort zone as soon as the bathroom light comes on after take-off.

Rachelle: My top 3 must-have carry-on items: Rosebud Salve lip balm: It can be used on basically anything dry (lips, face, hands). Baby wipes, which are great for the babe, and to clean my hands if the bathrooms are not vacant. Otrivin nasal mist: I know, kinda gross, but my sinuses kill me on the plane.
Carly: Apparently, there is something to be said about packing light. Don’t ask me about it; I have never done it. When choosing between my Michael Kors wedges and Pedro Garcia booties, I bring them both.

Then I throw in my Stuart Weitzman’s for good measure. So what’s in my carry on bag? All the shoes I can’t fit into my suitcase.

Christina: I’m one of those weird people who loves to fly (comparable to the weird people that enjoy going to the dentist). This is because I usually take the opportunity to catch up on sleep. After boarding, I enjoy a glass of Merlot and then catch up on my zzz’s. 

My carry on includes items that make my snooze a little more comfortable:

A good book. I read a little until the Merlot kicks in and I get to snooze. Gum for when I wake up from my snooze. Also, great to chomp on while descending. I pack Pur Gum in spearmint. It’s aspartame-free, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to cut this chemical out of my diet.

Sunglasses. The second I get off the plane, I slide on my sunny gees to cover my sleepy eyes.

Debra: I never go on a plane without regular flavoured Bubbalicious (for take-offs and landing), a spray toner that I transfer into a small spritz bottle (I like Dermalogica), and Rosebud Salve lip balm. I also always have a pashmina in case I get cold.

Lisa: A really warm sweater! Airplane blankets are never warm enough and I always get chilly on planes. I would also bring a full-sized pillow if it would fit. I like to be comfy.

Alana: First and foremost, a good book. I love reading at night, but find that I’m out like a light after three pages, so taking a good book with me on vacation is always a must. Bonus: it also gives me a chance to actually finish the book in a normal amount of time. 
Second, snacks. If I’m travelling out of the country, I’ll always bring something small but filling, like granola bars, just in case of delays or as a potential life-saver from unappetizing foods (as tempting as those chicken feet look, I think I’ll pass). 

Other essentials include a travel toothbrush and face wipes and anything else that will make my trip run smoothly!

Abby: Number one carry-on must-have is a good book or two, depending on how long the flight is. I wear my glasses and bring contacts to change into before I land (they get way too dry on the plane). And toiletries: a toothbrush, my makeup bag to look a little less rumpled (Benefit’s benetint is the single best way to do this) and a hairbrush. 

I love Nina Garcia’s words about airplane travel – something along the lines of “flights are not an excuse to wear yoga pants. Look presentable, wrinkle-free and comfortable, not like you’re going to the gym”. I try to live by this (sorry Lara!).

Rave: Great vacation reads

Vacation time is here, and one of the ways we love to relax is with a good book. Whether on the beach or inside by a cozy fire, we’ve found some great reads for our break. Here are three that we’ve been sitting down with:
Set in 1962, The Help is a story about the white children of Jackson, Mississippi, and the black women who raised them. The story begins when Skeeter Phelan comes home after graduating from Ole Miss to find her much-loved maid, Constantine, is gone. When her mother offers no answers about Constantine’s whereabouts, Skeeter embarks on a journey to find her. 
Skeeter asks two maids to help her – the always-loyal Aibileen and the always-loud Minnie. In doing so, Skeeter is exposed to the tough realities of racial divide. While Skeeter’s journey begins as a pursuit of the truth, together these three women start a movement that forever changes their Southern town. Written by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is a hopeful book about the boundaries that exist and the time to cross them. 

Transitioning between the past and present, Sarah’s Key breaks the silence on Paris’ Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundup of Jewish men, women and children. The book begins in 1942, when French police arrest Sarah and her family. With no foresight of the danger that lies ahead, Sarah locks her brother in her family’s apartment cupboard to try and keep him safe. While the French police hold the family captive at the Vel’ d’Hiv’, Sarah holds the key to her brother’s life in her pocket.
In 2002, journalist Julia Jarmond’s editor assigns her to write an article to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv’. As Julia begins her investigation, the information she discovers connects Sarah’s past to her own family’s future. Following Sarah’s journey from the roundup on, Julia’s life becomes forever intertwined with hers. Written by Tatiana De Rosnay, Sarah’s Key is an unbelievable Holocaust story about our duty to always remember. It’s not a light read, but will be one of the most memorable books you pick up.

After giving birth to a daughter during a monsoon in a remote Indian village, Kavita has no choice but give her up. Kavita brings her baby to a Mumbai orphanage with nothing but a silver bangle. Meanwhile, in California, American-born Somer and her Indian husband Kris decide to adopt a child from his birth place, Mumbai.
Though she loves her adoptive parents dearly, Asha takes a break from college life to discover her roots. She returns to Mumbai to find out who she is and where she came from. Switching between the stories of the two families, The Secret Daughter, written by Canadian Shilipi Somaya Gowda, tells the story of a mother suffering the loss of her daughter, and a daughter’s search for the mother who gave her up.

Pick up one of these books and become immersed in another world, giving you the mental break that you deserve during vacation. Happy reading!

What are your top vacation book picks? Tweet us – @rockitpromo!

We’re Not Just Pretty: Lindsey Love

Lindsey Love is a senior publicist with HarperCollins Canada. A quasi-fixture in the book industry, Lindsey has also worked with Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors, Warwick Publishing, and The Writers’ Trust of Canada as well as working as an intern in far too many places to list.
Twitter: @lindseyelove

How long have you been in your current position?

Three years.

How does your company leverage PR (i.e. to generate press, to build reputation, to manage crisis communications, etc)?
Events are a huge PR focus for most of our authors at HarperCollins. We’ve done everything from sending a writer to speak at an intimate book club, to throwing a reading at a nightclub, replete with shots and strippers. It all depends on the book, the personality of the author, and our PR budget to determine what will work best. It’s definitely a case-by-case decision.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I’ve been very lucky to work under two PR dynamos at HarperCollins. Rob Firing is known throughout Canada for his boundless enthusiasm for every project he works on, and you’ll never meet a more thorough publicist than Colleen Clarke. They’ve both inspired me in equal ways.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows (Melrose Place, Sex and The City, The Real L Word, The City, etc.)?
I think anything that brings awareness to the PR industry is inherently good. When I was in high school, and even when I was in university, I didn’t even know that someone could cultivate a career in PR, so it’s great that young people are learning more about the profession. 

That said, many of these shows are making the industry out to be far more glamorous than it actually is. A typical day involves a slew of emails with long hours at a desk. It’s not all high heels and push-up bras, although some of that does exist. Some of the shows also seem to glorify being rude, and I think that’s too bad. In my experience, being as kind as possible to those you work with is always the better route to choose. 

Lastly, there’s also a lot of men in PR, and they don’t seem to be portrayed very often in these shows, which I also think is too bad. It’s definitely a great career option for both genders. 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
Like I said, be nice. Always, always, always, strive to be nice. I would never tell anyone not to be assertive when they need to be, but pick your battles carefully. Canada’s PR and media industries are small, and things you say or do today can definitely catch up with you tomorrow, so always keep that in mind, for better and for worse. 

Luckily, most people in both PR and media in Canada are amazing, so there’s seldom anything to be BUT nice — it’s such a great industry to be in.

What do you love most about your job?
The people. I love working with my colleagues at HarperCollins, the amazing contacts I’ve made in the media and other industries since I started in PR, and of course I adore working with so many talented writers and personalities as well — who can range from rock stars like Dave Mustaine, to political players like Ralph Nader. It’s a fun and interesting job, every day.

A little more from the fourth floor:

Designer: Sometimes I shop at Lululemon, does that count?
Store: Ben McNally Books and/or Nicholas Hoare Bookstore. Both of these shops are lovely.
Book:  Very tough question, obviously. The best fiction I’ve read recently is Room by Emma Donoghue, which is out this September, and the best non-fiction I read this year was War by Sebastian Junger, which was published last spring. Both are enlightening and disturbing in their own ways.
Snack: Chocolate.
Season: Summer.
Inspiration: My mother. She’s been through a great deal of adversity in her life, but she still smiles every day and seeks to make life better for those around her. She’s amazing.
Drink: I don’t drink very much or often, but when I do, it’s a vodka soda (please).
Motto in two words: Love. Courage.
Idea of perfect happiness: A sunny day by the ocean.
Indulgence: A monthly membership to hot yoga at any of the amazing hot yoga studios in town.
Celebrity crush: Slash from Guns N’ Roses. He’s just as dreamy in person as he is in 80’s rock videos. Sigh.
Favourite Tweeter to follow: Since he’s one of my authors and he’s ALWAYS funny, @shitmydadsays, tweeted by Justin Halpern (the book is equally as great!).