Author Archives: Above&Byonkers

Peer Review #3!

Kelly’s website, KellyinSaturn, also known as Love, Kelly – is an amalgamation of honesty, creativity and honesty. The theme may seem dark- topics of self harm or abusive relationships, but Kelly does an excellent job of combining these topics with her own thoughtful drawings and provides resources for the reader. 

Kelly’s marketing of “A journey in self-care 23 years in the making” describes the overarching theme of the blog and entices the reader to keep exploring the page, which I imagine helps her amount of page view time for her analytics!

Prior to writing this, Kelly’s blog had a darker colour theme, and a lighter font colour, making it a tinier bit harder to read on the eyes, since then Kelly has lightened her colour scheme, which I think looks more cohesive now, and has darkened the font which makes it easier to read. I would say that Kelly should increase the font size- however her blog posts are quiet lengthy, which makes the smaller font more cohesive. Kelly also pointedly puts effort in making the images that she draws correlate with the blog post itself; the colours are from a similar pallet and I love how Kelly has created sequences in her drawings to show or mark progress and growth! 

My feedback for Kelly is partially based on my inability to view her branding canvas- I can’t see her goals for her blog but I imagine they are about helping people and reaching an audience of people going similar experiences. This website can be very helpful for those it can reach if Kelly is to broadcast it more widely. If Kelly linked some social media, a contact form or an email for people to reach her I think she can help a wider audience of people. This is also part of the issue with her “personal projects” page- Kelly’s site would flourish if she marketed her projects on her site as a form of reaching her audience through personal interest and relatability. 

In terms of monetization I think Kelly could run some Adsense eventually – but also get sponsorships from both self care companies and drawings/ art brands if she wanted to! This site has many cool opportunities that I think Kelly could pursue if she wished. 

I really enjoy the concept of Kelly’s site and I’m excited to see where it goes! Thank you for sharing and for your vulnerability, Kelly!

The post Peer Review #3! appeared first on Above&Byonkers.

Interview With the Owner of Iron Dog Books!

This week I virtually interviewed Hilary Atleo, one of the owners of Iron Dog Books – located on 2671 E Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC! Iron Dog Books began as Vancouver’s “first modern-day mobile bookstore” in 2016, and opened up a store space in late 2019, right before COVID-19 sent British Columbia into lockdown. Iron Dog Books stands out as an Indigenous-owned independent bookstore, and as explained on their website Hilary and Cliff Atleo felt that “More often than not we struggled to source books we needed, or to convince the folks around us that Indigenous stories were important to the literary canon. Our experiences taught us that if we wanted our dream bookstore to exist, we would have to build it ourselves.” And so they did – with Iron Dog Books! Here is my virtual interview with Hilary.

Iron Dog Books Mobile Store

Q: On the Iron Dog Books site, you mention opening your store on December 6th 2019, just a mere three months prior to the pandemic hitting Vancouver! How do you feel this impacted your opening of Iron Dog and the way you managed to persist as an independent store?
A: “The pandemic has simultaneously been a deeply challenging time for small business and a platform on which our fledgling store found significant customer loyalty and success. In many ways the pandemic reinforced our founding principles of great customer service, empathy for our patrons and being a place for locals to find the things they need. Our business has always been focused on our community first and that principle meant that when folks needed books and entertainment during the worst of the restrictions we were there to help them. I sometimes think that we were always going to get where we are, but the pandemic hurried us there faster.”

Interior of The IDB Mobile Store

Q:You went about the opening of Iron Dog in a very unique way, starting with the mobile truck in 2017- I know you touch on this in your ‘Our Story’ section, but do you mind discussing how this set you up for the opening of the Iron Dog Books store and what it taught you about book selling?
A: Operating the truck is the most challenging business I have ever been a part of. There is a lot of mythology about the freedom and ease with which one can operate a mobile business but the reality is much harder. There is no part of operating a business that is easier in a truck, and I have the utmost respect for my colleagues who manage to run food operations out of these incredibly tiny and cramped quarters. The days are long, the fees are high and you are at the mercy of the weather every single time you book a date. Operating the truck taught me how to be realistic about opportunities, how to negotiate, how to walk away from a bad deal, how to appreciate every single customer, and how to be as efficient as possible – with space, with money, with time, with essentially everything. All of these things are make or break skills in any business and they are all key aspects of our success in a conventional brick and mortar store

Q: How did you come up with the name “Iron Dog Books”? 
A: We named it after our dog, Buckley, who I always called “The Cast Iron Dog”. He was sturdy and moved with me 10 times in ten years, interprovincially and internationally. There was nothing else called Iron Dog anywhere, and I thought it invoked a quiet sense of strength and endurance

Q: What are you currently reading/ recently read that you enjoyed? 
A: I’ve been having trouble settling into reading for the last two years, basically since we took on the lease for the new shop, but since February I’ve been reading two or three books a week. I think it’s because I decided to read for fun only. For a long time I did most of my reading for work, which can be a slog when I am just trying new titles to see if they will fit in my store. Fun reading for me means genre reading, mystery, sci fi, some romance. I’ve found four new mystery authors I love – Jane Pek, S A Cosby, Nekesa Afia, Eva Jurczyk. For science fiction I am mostly reading things from the last few years that I missed, I just finished Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and I’ve been picking up Becky Chambers books. I read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus on the recommendation of another bookseller friend. It was great and I know exactly the person to recommend it to.  

Q: What advice would you give those who want to go into book-selling or the publishing/book industry? 
A: Loving books is not enough. This job is a job in all ways – it has good parts and bad parts and it mostly relies on the skills you would use at any job; reliability, accountability, problem-solving. If you can do all that and you also love books then this is the best job in the world.

Hilary in Front of Iron Dog Books

Q: What is your favourite Iron Dog Books memory?
A: Bringing my daughter to work with me when we first opened the brick and mortar store. We started the business in 2017, just before she turned 3. She used to go to all my meetings with me when we first started, because we have never had access to daycare. My son was in kindergarten when we started the truck and a lot of times it was just my 3 year old and I managing inventory, meeting with contractors, booking events. She was 5 and in kindergarten when we started the storefront but she would still sometimes ask to go to work with me.

Thank you so much Hilary! Check out the Iron Dog Books’ Website and Instagram!

Vancouver Public Library Resources

When I was at the VPL the other day there were so many advertised workshops that I don’t see advertised on social media or online (unless you go to look.)

So here is my VPL infographic, clearly outlining workshops and resources for readers and writers!

Read with Me! Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow was published in 2018, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you would never know. Rice’s fictional story of an Anishnaabe community that loses all electrical power and access to gas, followed by the rest of the world, achingly shows us the dark side of humanity and lack of empathy that follows in the face of a crisis. 

Waubgeshig Rice

I first saw Waubgeshig Rice at his 2018 Vancouver Writers Festival reading in 2018, prior to the launch of his novel, and I instantly knew he was an incredible storyteller. Having only recently read Moon of the Crusted Snow, I was amazed at Rice’s ability to predict the end-of-times and the downfall of people as they fight for resources. In Rice’s novel, the families fight over food in the grocery store, only leaving some canned goods and a sparse amount of necessities. Perhaps when the novel was published in 2018 that would have seemed like a dark and far-fetched possibility. Of course we would be scare and leave food for everyone, especially seniors, however we now, globally, know this wouldn’t be the case- as eloquently shown by Rice. 

How far will you go to protect your family, and how far is too far? Rice forces the reader to confront the dark truths of starvation and lack of resources. Moon of the Crusted Snow is a dark but eloquent and necessary read, and you can purchase it here or here.

Interested in learning more? Check out Waubgeshig Rice’s website to stay updated!

(This content is not sponsored)

Peer Review #2!

In this week’s peer review, I was assigned to Edelweiss’ website and I immediately fell in love! The clever title and unique colours immediately draw the viewer into the site. Her “about me” section explains where the title came from and why it’s extra special and unique to her as a moderator. My only wish for Letter Elle is that it went on to explain “All Things Y2K and Hallyu” as the opening page reads. Like I said, I love the colours and lay out of Elle’s site, and my suggestion would be to explain the meaning behind the Y2K content in the “About Me” section since it is a common theme of the website itself. 

The niche-ness of Elle’s post’s make her website interesting and engaging, and personable, as if you really are conversing with Elle. For the posts themselves, I wish Elle would put her own twist or opinion, in lieu of general pop music content. Because the bands she has posted about aren’t as mainstream as pop bands, my suggestion would be for Edelweiss to explain why they mean so much to her. 

I see Elle has a pending post titled “So…Why Y2K?” which is an awesome play on words! I am so excited for this post as I imagine it will address my previous concerns. My suggestion would be to put this on the main page for viewer accessibility. 

I really enjoy the small quirks Edelweiss has placed in her site, like the “Mmmm…” on the search barand the “Recent Posts” on the right of the site. I am SO excited to read her forthcoming letters. 

I really enjoy the direction Elle is going in, she’s chosen such an interesting and unique theme, and I’m so excited to see how all of her posts end up intersecting. It’s really smart to play on the Y2K current trend and the rise of Korean dramas and music. You can tell who Elle’s target audience is, and once she has more content up I am so sure it will take off as a fun, quirky, informative and personable site! Thank you Elle!

Why You Should Have a Goodreads Account!

If you, like me, are not only obsessive with your book buying and reading, but also organizing and tracking, then I recommend a goodreads account. Goodreads is for those of us who can’t wait to get our hands on a sequel, while also tracking the books we have and haven’t read. 

You can set your yearly goal to encourage your reading habits, or you can do what I do, set it to 1 at the beginning of the year so you’re proud of yourself no matter what! 

You can add friends, vote for your favourite books, message other readers, and categorize all of your recent or present reads. I’ve had my Goodreads account for almost a decade, and it’s fun to look back on what I read as a teenager, and the ways in which I would reach out to authors or attend digital events through Goodreads. They also have frequent giveaways, and Goodreads is an excellent way to reach out to “booktubers” or people you may follow on “booktok”. 

It is an excellent way to keep in touch, form book clubs, track your reading, and see what other people are reading! 

Read with Me! Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner is an effervescent story of love, reconciliation, grieving and self-reflection.  A deeply personal memoir meant to place you in the time and space of the narrator, while also leaving room for your own feelings and reflection. Zauner perfectly encompasses the fragility of fraught mother-daughter relationships, and the effectiveness of reaching out and cultural ties. 

Discussing themes of loss, heritage, and forgiveness, Zauner forces the reader to confront their own familial ties and identity politics. In a heartwarming and engaging 256 pages Zauner takes us through the growing up and breaking down of childhood. If you yourself have ever gone through parental loss, or struggles with familial relationships Zauner is there to hold your hand and guide you in a way that is both uplifting and validating. 
Rich with stories of Korea, love, food-service, and rock and roll, Crying in H Mart will leave you both broken-hearted and hopeful. This memoir recounts the complexity of a relationship and the ability to love someone through a terminal diagnosis, learning to forgive both them and yourself in the process.

Massy Books and The Vancouver Black Library

Massy Books, Living Wage, and The Vancouver Black Library!

On February 1st, Massy Books was announced to be the first bookstore in British Columbia to be a living wage employer! This is an integral aspect of a healthy working environment, as Massy Books has already been known to be. Massy is setting the tone as a store with fair working conditions, and is setting a precedent for the book publishing/buying industry. 

On February 4th, Massy Books announced it’s partnership with the “Vancouver Black Library” that was recently established in late January. Massy Books has created a Vancouver Black Library registry on their sales page, which features wishlist items that you can donate through Massy Books. 

The Vancouver Black Library is described on instagram as a “resources and workspace by & for BIPOC”. They are currently looking for any and all donations, while also crowdfunding through gofundme (links below). The VBL is introduced due to an “overt lack of Black community” as explained on their social media. Spaces like these need community support, and Massy Books has once again raised the bar for booksellers. 


Donate to the Vancouver Black Library:

Donate through Massy Books:

VBL Instagram:

Peer Review 1!

The blog I am reviewing today is . Hannah’s blog ( is focused on social media promotion, primarily Instagram and TikTok, and how to grow and market yourself on each respective platform. Hannah has chosen a monochrome, white and neutral-coloured theme. I think this accomplishes the “look” she is trying to market, and her use of images pushes her image of wellness and exploration as well. Hannah also uses many smiley face images, both in her header and at the end of her “about me” page, which shows the platform of positivity that she is trying to promote. 

Hannah’s most extensive post is her “about me” where she explains the number of garnered followers she has gained during the pandemic- without telling us how. I think this is a good marketing tactic to promote people to actively follow along as she, metaphorically, reveals more to her followers. She also ambiguously alludes to being in the “industry” which invites the curiosity of the reader to stick around and be part of something that can be considered difficult or exclusive. Her about me section is informative while also engaging. 

Hannah’s use of images help promote self care and wellness as she markets images of herself, visibly happy and pleased, showing her viewers/ readers that her methods for success and wellness do work. By showcasing a healthy and carefree lifestyle Hannah is inviting her readers to mimic her choices and read her future blog posts on how to achieve this success and happiness. 

Hannah emphasizes the quickness of which her following came to her, showcasing and branding herself as a successful and business brand-creator. By emphasizing how fast she accomplished her goals, Hannah is promoting instant success for her followers.