Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Book Review)

After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.

"It had been surprisingly -- almost laughably -- easy. I had followed him for some distance, after first observing him in Threadneedle street. I cannot say why I decided it should be him, and not one of the others on whom my searching eye had alighted that evening. I had been walking for an hour or more in the vicinity with one purpose: to find someone to kill. Then I saw him, outside the entrance to the Bank, amongst a huddle of pedestrians waiting for the crossing-sweeper to do his work. Somehow he seemed to stand out from the crowd of identically dressed clerks and City men streaming forth from the premises. He stood regarding the milling scene around him, as if turning something over in his mind. I thought for a moment that he was about to retrace his steps; instead, he pulled on his gloves, moved away from the crossing point, and set off briskly. A few seconds later, I began to follow him.

The reasoning behind this cold-blooded murder is soon revealed in the following opening pages. The killer, Edward Glyver aka Glapthorn, confesses to the killing and others he has planned.

Portions of Edward’s story are told by an assorted collection of people in his life until his complicated past is revealed. Bella, a courtesan from “a highly select club…catered for the amorous needs of the most discerning patrons of means”, Le Grice, a best friend from his school days, and others, with whom he is careful not to reveal too much to.

In his childhood he was raised by a single mother, through whom Edward develops a love of books, and attended Eton. It is at Eton where he meets Phoebus Daunt, soon to become his nemesis and the reason behind Edward’s shameful departure from the school.

Ten years after his mother’s death, Edward goes through her papers to learn she was a successful novelist and finds her diaries: small, black books that reveal his true identity. He is not Edward Glyver, but Edward Charles Duport, a member of one of the oldest and most powerful families in all of England. Edward believes he is the rightful heir to the large country estate, Evenwood. Edward decides to reclaim his birth right and learns that Lord Tansor has designated his heir as the wicked Phoebus Daunt. One of the motivating factors for Edward’s obsession is the Evenwood library which contains rare books from the 15th century.

Edward is obsessed with the theft of his birthright, and books. In proving his birthright he searches in the more disreputable sections of London where he learns deep dark secrets.

Phoebus Daunt is a poet and a leader of a gang of thieves, thugs and counterfeiters; and locates an inscribed copy of Donne’s Devotions that confirms his suspicion that Glapthorn is Glyver is Duport, the true heir to the Tansor fortune.

The world Edward inhabits is one of opium, brothels, revenge and murder. This is a suspenseful mystery that needs to be followed to the end for a brilliant conclusion.

Michael Cox has placed various epigraphs at each chapter and section breaks, along with copious footnotes. These quaint footnotes provide brief explanations of terms and locations within the book, for example, “Waterloo Bridge was known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ because of the number of suicides who had leaped to their deaths from it.” There is wonderful, thorough detail in the description of the locations, the people, and the era in which this book is set.

There are a few loose ends in this book that may be explained in the sequel, “The Glass of Time”.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes detailed description set in a Victorian style of writing. The multiple genres are: literary, mystery and detective, and historical.

Book format: Paperback, 599 pages
Publication date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: McCelland & Stewart
Book website: The Meaning of Night: A Confession

Friday, 28 August 2009

Bench of the Week (18)

This bench is in Victoria, B.C., with Oak Bay in the background.

RuneE began an informal meme of Bench of the Week at Visual Norway.

Other participants this week are:
Sylvan Muse has a collection of benches at the University of Durham Botanical Garden.
Ackworth Born, Gone West has a bench in a perfect spot.
EG has a lovely bench at East Gwillimbury Wow
Dina discovered benches in a unique garden at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo
PERBS with an interesting set of memorial benches.
MALYSS has lovely benches in a Japanese garden

Photo Credit: gordmckenna CC=nc-nd-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Speculative Fiction Review Database

John Ottinger of Grasping for the Wind has put together an extensive listing of blog sites that review speculative fiction books. This is the second edition as new reviewers added their names. I joined last year for the first edition.
Enjoy your search for that perfect read or entertaining review.

This is the Bow River with the Three Sisters on the horizon near Canmore, Alberta.

Photo Credit: russilwvong CC=nc-nd-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Bench of the Week (17)

Then the bench taken from a slightly different angle.

This bench is located at the Lower Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Provincial Park, Alberta.

RuneE began an informal meme on Bench of the Week at Visual Norway.

Other participants this week are:
Ackworth Born, Gone West
Raph's Ramblings

Photo Credits: BugMan50 CC=nc-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Book Review)

Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.”

This is the first sentence to begin a compelling story of one man’s journey from hell to love.

The Gargoyle is a book of multiple genres: contemporary, historical romance, paranormal, spiritual and fantasy; containing layered messages with symbolism and mysticism. The main character is the narrator, an unnamed individual, telling the story of his redemption after a horrific car accident in which he is broiled alive.

The detailed description of what happens in a burn unit and the pain the narrator lives through may put off some people, but it is important for the remainder of the story. Understandably he would have preferred to die and plots his suicide for when it is time to leave the hospital. His former porn associates are unable to cope with his new “ravaged” appearance and begin to drift away.

Through the efforts of his kindly doctor Nan Edwards, therapist Gregor, and Sayuri, a cheery Japanese physio-therapist they begin to bring him back from the edge. Then a mysterious young woman, Marianne Engel, appears, whispering “Engelthal” and tells him this is the third time he’s been burned.

Despite his initial concerns that the woman is a lunatic, he learns from her that she had lived in the 14th century as a nun at the Engelthal Monastery in Germany, employed as a scribe. She also knows the origin of the scar over his heart, and is acquainted with him during several reincarnations.

He soon forgets his suicide plans, waiting for Marianne’s visits and her stories of their previous lifetimes together and other love stories from Germany, Japan, Italy and Iceland. Each of these is well written and researched with compelling, fascinating descriptions of locations and historical components.

It is about relationships that change, through art, love and inner soul growth: situations that determine who people are. The narrative weaves Dante’s Inferno with the love stories from the past into the present where the narrator finally understands Marianne’s compulsive obsession of sculpting gargoyles from cement blocks, finding comfort and strength to overcome his limitations.

I liked this book with its intense scenes, funny moments, and concepts that are thought provoking. It is best read slowly, to savour the information as it is revealed.

Book format: Hardcover, 468 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
Author: Andrew Davidson

Available at:

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Gone Fishin'

This is Mt. Michael and Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

I will be absent from frequent posting or blog visiting for awhile as my writing will be taking precedence. There will still be the odd weekly post and, of course, book reviews, as there is a growing stack.

Photo Credit: listentoreason CC=nc-sa-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Bench of the Week (16)

This bench is in Vancouver, British Columbia, a perfect rest stop after walking across the Lions Gate Bridge.

Bench of the week is an informal meme begun by RuneE of Visual Norway where you can find other participants.

Photo Credit: pkdon58 CC=nc-sa-flickr. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Hiking Trails - Larch Valley Trail to Sentinel Pass

[1-Mt Temple from Lake Louise visitor kiosk parking lot - click to enlarge]

The distance of the hike posted today is about 16.5km distance return with an elevation gain of 880m with a time frame of about 8 hours via the Larch Valley. The photos are from a hike taken in late September and the snow covered peaks will bring a visual relief to those visitors experiencing extreme heat in their locations.

[2-Moraine Lake - click to enlarge]

The trailhead is 100m past the Moraine Lake Lodge, along the lakeshore. Here the trail branches right and begins its steep climb through thick forest of Englemann Spruce to Larch Valley and the Minnestimma Lakes (a First Nations word for “sleeping water”). The first of the switchbacks begin slightly after 1km. By remaining on the trail and avoiding short cuts, this prevents erosion and soil damage.

[3- On Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[4- Larch trees across valley - click to enlarge]

[5-Larch trees and Mount Bowlen - click to enlarge]

An ice-filled gully known to mountaineers as the 3-3.5 couloir lies between Mount Bowlen and Tonsa, 3057m (10,030 ft). In the past it was used by climbers to access the Neil Colgan Alpine Club Hut until several accidents occurred. It is no longer recommended.

[6- Snowy larch valley trail - click to enlarge]

[7-Larch trees in the sun - click to enlarge]

[8-Clark's Nutcracker - click to enlarge]

2.5km up the trail is a junction for Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass where the trail goes ahead. Take the right fork for Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. Here the trail climbs into the Larch Valley meadows.

[9-Larch Valley and some of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

[10-Moon over Larch Valley Trail - click to enlarge]

[11-Larch Valley and some of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

From Larch Valley, 520m above Moraine Lake and 205m below Sentinel Pass are panoramic views. In autumn the larch tree needles turn golden. From Larch Valley it is another 2.8 km to the top of the pass at 2611m (8,566 feet).

[12-Sentinel Pass destination for the day - click to enlarge]

Sentinel Pass is one of the highest in Banff National Park. Those hikers going up to the pass or crossing over should be wearing sturdy hiking boots while being aware of the possibility of falling and rolling rock. This particular hike ends at the top of Sentinel Pass where it is snow bound.

[13-Z marks the trail to Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[14-Moon over mountain in Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[15-Westernmost of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

[16-Uppermost Minnestimma Lake and Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[17-Minnestimma Creek below uppermost Minnestimma Lake. Mt Fay in background - click to enlarge]

[18-Upper Minnestimma Lake from Sentinel Pass trail - click to enlarge]

Steep switchbacks up to Sentinel Pass at 2611m.

[19-Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[20-Sentinel Pass Trail at Pinnacle Mountain - click to enlarge]

[21-Minnestimma Lakes from higher up Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[22-Pinnacle Peak adjacent Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[23-Mount Temple from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[24-Looking north into Paradise Valley from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[25-Trail into Paradise Valley under the snow - click to enlarge]

[26-The Sentinel and Paradise Valley from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

The tallest of the pinnacle spires is known as the Grand Sentinel. This pass was first ascended in 1894 by Samuel Anderson and Yandell Henderson. Several days later they returned with their companions to climb Mount Temple at 3543m (11,625 ft).

[27-Coming back down Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[28-Larch Valley and the Ten Peaks, with Mt Fay, snowcapped - click to enlarge]

Mount Fay, 3235m (10614 ft) was named by Charles E. Fay in 1902 and first climbed in 1904 by Gertrude Benham guided by Christian Kaufman.

[29-Valley trail with Mt Fay - click to enlarge]

[30-Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[31-Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[32-Moraine Lake from Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[33-Moraine Lake from Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[34-Canoes on Moraine Lake - click to enlarge]

ParksCanada recommends that anyone hiking on this trail to ensure they are in a party of four or more for safety from Grizzly bears.

ParksCanada – Banff
Trail Conditions
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki -

Map from parkscanada of half day hikes in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake area

Photo Credits: [1]to{34] inclusive were taken by brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Fishing - Canyon Lake


Canyon Lake is located near Kenora, Ontario in the northwestern portion of the province near Manitoba. This morning photo promises a perfect day of fishing for muskie, walleye and small mouth bass. Muskie monsters have been caught ranging in size from 25 to 50 pounds.

Photo Credit: SensorPhoto CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Monday, 3 August 2009

My Town Monday - Samuel B Steele - Occurrences

[Ranch just off highway 3 in southern Alberta - click to enlarge]

[Samuel Steele]

Samuel Steele in his memoir of his days on the North-West Mounted Police in what is now western Canada recounted an interesting story about a pet goose that had been caught by one of the men on the Force. During the winter the goose was fed in the barracks, and in the summer, grazed on the parade ground. There it was seen, winter and summer, until the reveille sounded. The beat of the sentry included the occasional visit to the stables, at which time the goose would squawk until he returned. On very cold nights the bird would tap on the guard room window with its beak until admitted to be warmed by the stove, and when comfortable would leave whenever someone entered or left, and resumed its watch on the flat stone by the sentry’s beat. During the day, the goose was inside the fort keeping an eye out for strange dogs, and whenever one appeared the goose immediately attacked with fierce flapping of wings until the intruder departed through the gate.[1]

In the 1880s it was common for gentlemen living in the United Kingdom to send their young men to Canada to learn farming. An absurd practice as instructors, hired to teach, did not care if the men worked or not as they were paid for board and lodging. Or they were sent out without any farming experience to begin a farm or ranch on the prairies.

While at Fort Macleod, Samuel Steele knew of a “famous, professional man” who had sent his son west with sufficient money to begin cattle ranching. A stockman was hired to build a log house and spacious corrals on the banks of stream, while the young man enjoyed himself in a neighbouring town with others of his ilk spending his financial support. To encourage his parents for more money he would send letters to them of his successful cattle ventures, which resulted in them coming for a visit the following summer to his ranch. With no cattle, despite his report as having many, he wondered what he should do. Being a resourceful sort, when his parents arrived at the log house at the ranch in sight of the snow-capped Rockies, they were given a tour of the corrals, in which were a large number of fine cattle with different brands. Nothing was suspect as brands were not used in the old land, and his father pleased with his son’s success with cattle increased his allowance and invited him home for a Christmas visit. When he stayed with his parents that winter he related that the winter had been so severe the cattle had died. Thus began a new venture in an orange grove.[2]

My Town Mondays were started by Travis Erwin in Amarillo, Texas who has handed the reins over to Clair Dickson. For other participants please visit the new location here.


For previous posts on this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Forty Years In Canada by Col. Samuel B. Steele (1915) [1-p. 139, 2-p. 171]

Photo Credit: [1]Calyspo Orchid CC=nc-nd-flickr, [2]-wikipedia.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Battleship Islands


These are the Battleship Islands as their outlines from the Black Tusk mountain appear as battleships or submarines. These islands are located at the Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia, 70km north of Vancouver.

Source: BC Provincial Parks

Photo Credit: Canadian Veggie CC=nc-nd-flickr.