Friday, June 21, 2013

Neil Gaiman Canadian Tour Dates

Another favourite author of ours is coming to Toronto and we are beyond excited! Supporting the release of his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman will be at the Danforth Music Hall on July 6 for a reading, Q&A and book signing. This tour is Gaiman's last signing tour ever, so catch him while you can.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is now available everywhere. We already have a copy, check back soon for our review of what we expect to be a magical book. Also stay tuned for a review of Gaiman's Toronto appearance.

The Toronto stop isn't his only Canadian date, below are the details for his Canadian tour:

August 6, 2013
Location: Toronto, ON
Tuesday, August 6, 6:30 PM
Presented by Indigo Books & Music


Danforth Music Hall
147 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 1N2

$20 plus tax and service fees
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August 7, 2013
An Evening with Neil Gaiman
Location: Montreal, QC
Wednesday, August 7, 7 PM
Presented by Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore


Ukrainian Federation Hall
5213 Hutchison Street
Montreal, QC H2X 2H3

Available in store – Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore, 211 Bernard Ouest - $10 with $5 off  The Ocean at the End of the Lane with ticket purchase.
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August 8, 2013
An Evening with Neil Gaiman
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thursday, August 8, 6:30 PM
Presented by Vancouver Writers Fest
Book sales by Kidsbooks

The Vogue Theatre
918 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L2

TICKETS$21 adults $19 students (with ID) and seniors plus service charges. General admission
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

NXNE Night Three – The Anti-Queens @ the Bovine

One of the things I’ve learned so far this year at NXNE is that this fine country of ours is producing some fierce female musicians. Seeing these women up on stage rocking out harder than a lot of the other bands we’ve seen this week makes me proud to be a woman.

NXNE Night Three – The Anti-Queens
@ the Bovine Sex Club

The Anti-Queens are another local band that I’ve been trying to see play for a while now. After seeing front woman Emily Bones collaborating with another favourite of mine, Sarah Blackwood, I’ve been keeping my eye on them, anxious to see what these three girls could do.

The Anti-Queens
put on an explosive show at the Bovine, blending grungy rock with a hint of punk. The dynamic on stage was great to watch, you can tell that there’s a great friendship between the girls and that only makes their essence all that stronger.

Coincidentally, last night was the pre-release of their new EP Grow Up / Stay Young. It was also Emily’s birthday. The Anti-Queens easily fed off all this excitement, turning their set into a seriously rocking show.

The Anti-Queens will be playing at Pride and will be around Toronto plenty over the next few months, you need to see them rock.

Pictures (c)CityGirlScapes

Friday, June 14, 2013

NXNE Night Two – Zachary Bennett @ the Tranzac

Night two of our NXNE adventures started off a little rainy, a little dark and gloomy. But that didn’t stop us and many others from taking to the streets and jumping bar to bar to see what Thursday night had to offer.

NXNE Night Two – Zachary Bennett
@ the Tranzac

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to see Tin Star Orphans play, but anytime they have a show, I’m either at another show or out of the city. Timing just never seems to work. Keeping with that pattern, they are playing tonight (Friday) at midnight at the Dakota Tavern, and yet again I will not be able to see them.

Thankfully, last night, Tin Star front man Zachary Bennett was playing a solo show at the Tranzac and I was finally able to catch at least a flavour of the Orphans through him.

If you’ve ever heard the Orphans, you know that Zachary’s vocals have a very distinctive, raw sound to them. And not the kind of raw you expect; there’s a strangeness to his sound that at first, is kind of shocking. But it’s also a powerful sound and you can’t seem to keep it from grabbing you and soaking in all its dripping emotion. 

Taking that sound and isolating it from the rest of the band leaves Zachary and his guitar completely on display in the tiny but acoustically emphatic front room on the Tranzac and creating one of the more intimately potent shows we’ve seen all week. 

Zachary started the night with an improv little ditty he sang up on the spot, talking about the Tranzac, while waiting for some technical issues, but it wasn’t long before he launched into a mix of solo songs, some Orphan songs and a couple of new Orphan songs from their upcoming album. Orphan Steve Savage joined him on stage for a stint, accompanying him on piano to create a full, haunting sound.

For a performance with a show of physical passion that is giving us all he’s got, Zachary was surprisingly lighthearted and witty in between songs, laughing with the crowd and bursting with additional energy. His presence has this strange ability to just pull you right in, whether you fight it or not, something that seems to parallel his music as a whole.

Tin Star Orphans will be at the Dakota Tavern tonight at Midnight. They apparently put on one hell of a show, so if you have the chance, check them out and let me know how it goes.

Pictures (c)CityGirlScapes

Thursday, June 13, 2013

NXNE Night One - Machinegun Suzie @ the Hard Luck bar

It’s NXNE week, baby! Bands are invading the city, bars are open until 4am, it’s nonstop rock and roll all week! Or simply put, it’s Ashley’s favourite time of year! 

With 1,000 bands in over 50 venues over 7 days, it’s almost a daunting, overwhelming task to pick and choose who to check out and where to go. Not to mention trying to divide schedules and bands between two people with very strong musical opinions.

As a veteran NXNE-er, however, Ashley has long gotten over her need to see it all and found a happy medium in setting her expectations to a more reasonable point. Music hungry and always on the hunt for new sounds, Ashley will be happy coming away from the week with an introduction to a couple new bands that have really made an impact. 

So instead of recounting each and every act, over the next few days she’ll be offering her NXNE highlights of bands that stood out among the rest. Not surprisingly, her first night out introduced her to a band that could arguably be her new favourite band.

NXNE Night One – Machinegun Suzie

As a grunge rocker at heart, it was hard to pass up a band with an official description calling them “dangerous little sisters of Josh Homme and L7” that remind you of a time when Courtney Love and Melissa Auf der Maur shared a stage (you know, when Hole was still good). As a lover of hard-rocking females, it was hard to pass up a band with four strong women taking the stage with a nostalgia of the Riot Grrl movement. Everything about this Quebec band screams Ashley.

From the very first song, you could see the vibe in the Hard Luck bar start to change. Everyone sitting lazily at their tables were suddenly on their feet and moving towards the stage. People were exchanging awe-inspired looks and crashing air-drums in sync with the thumping drum beat. This is what you want from a rock band.

With their adorably “bad accents and f—cking bad reputation”, Machinegun Suzie barreled through their set with the confidence of a long seasoned band. They were tight and powerful, making music not just playing instruments. 

As their set went on, you discovered a darker side with heavy guitars laying down their defined stoner rock sound, heavily influenced by the 90s, with surprisingly mature Auf der maur-ish vocals that are almost hypnotic at times. Not only can you feel their passion through their music, but you can see it on their faces and in their presence. These girls belong there on that stage.

For some vexing reason, their website says Machinegun Suzie is “a group of girls who do not make music for girls”. As a girl, I assure you, this is exactly the kind of music I want to be listening to.

Machinegun Suzie
's debut album Black Paper Horse is now available. 


Pictures (c)CityGirlScapes

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

EVENT: Jeannette Walls at the Toronto Reference Library

One of our favourite authors, Jeannette Walls, will be in Toronto this Friday, June 14 to speak with CTV'S Marci Ien about her new book The Silver Star.

We've read Jeannette's last two books - The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses - and can't wait to get our hands on The Silver Star. 

Jeannette has a beautiful way of turning her life experiences into a story that resonates deep within you. 
If The Silver Star is anything like her previous works, and we are confident it will be, then you won't want to miss an opportunity to see Jeannette in person to speak about it. 

The event is free, but you need to reserve your tickets here.
Friday, June 14, 2013
7:30pm (doors at 6:30pm)
Bram and Bluma Appel Salon
Toronto Reference Library
(789 Yonge St.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Blog Tour - Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

CityGirlScapes teamed up with Simon & Schuster Canada for a Blog Tour in anticipation of the release of Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews on June 4. 

We recently reviewed the book itself, but we also had the opportunity to chat with author Jason Matthews about his debut novel, specifically the memorable cast of colourful characters scattered throughout. 

From a sadistic dwarf who personally carries out Putin's murderous schemes to a likeable if somewhat battle-weary CIA station chief, to MARBLE the ultimate Russian mole, to dauntless Dominika and of course to Nate himself, Red Sparrow delivers such a memorable cast of characters

City Girls: How much of you do we see in Nathaniel Nash, are his actions and reactions mirrored from your own first-tour experiences or were you basing Nate’s instincts from your years of knowledge?

Jason Matthews: None of the characters are truly autobiographical, but the tradecraft, gadgets, experiences, attitudes, and work environment are all based on my real-life experiences over 33 years in CIA.  I’ve met Russians over the years, but no one like Dominika Egorova!

CG: Alexi Zyuganov is described as a ‘poisonous dwarf’. Physical limitations must be very conspicuous in such a prominent role in a secret world. What prompted you to take on this unique challenge?

JM: Like some of the other characters in Red Sparrow, Zyuganov is sort of a hybrid taken from real life history.  One of Stalin’s intelligence chiefs named Nikolai Yezhov was five feet tall and was responsible for murderous purges in the 1930s.  Of course in real espionage work, physical limitations would be a real challenge.

CG: When you look at mainstream spy thrillers, particularly something like the Bond franchise, the female “sparrow” seems to be a common component. Is the art of seduction still a viable operational tactic in this modern age or is it generally relied upon as a character in books and movies to balance the sexual aspect?

JM: Some intelligence services, infamously the KGB, regularly used trained Sparrows and sexual entrapment to recruit sources, provided they could be maneuvered into a “honey trap.”  The modern Russian spy service, the SVR, probably still do. Most western services don’t use sex as an operational technique because it is generally thought that a source recruited by coercion will be resentful and prone to fabrication and/or revenge. It makes for great movies though.

CG: With confidentiality being a prime consideration, how close did you come to featuring an actual person as one of your characters? Part of the allure is hoping that at least one of your characters is real.

JM: All the characters are totally fictional.  A few are drawn from historical figures (like Yezhov mentioned above.)  Any similarity to real persons is purely coincidental. 

CG: And last one, just for fun. These City Girls are known for their love of wine, if we were at a cocktail party with Nate, Dominika, MARBLE, Egorov and Forsyth, what would they be drinking?

JM: Fun question.  Nate and Gable probably would be drinking beer--Corona for Nate, something exotic--Singha--for Gable.  Dominika perhaps would reach for French champagne.  MARBLE would have a glass of Brunello.  Uncle Vanya would order Georgian brandy, and Forsyth would go for a dry Chardonnay.   Benford of course would drink something arcane like grappa. 

When it comes to the character of the double agent, it’s hard to believe that someone once so dedicated to their job and to their country could commit such a betrayal and cross to the other side.

It often seems to be the result of mistreatment or a desire for revenge, but as Jason explains in the video below, there are four human motivators that turn a spy into a double agent.

Red Sparrow is released on June 4. For more information visit

A big thanks to Jason Matthews and Simon and Schuster Canada for having us on this Blog Tour!

images from official website.