Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bald Eagle

Bald eagles have a wing span of 80 inches with a body length of about 31 inches. This bird prefers open or wooded areas close to water. They tend to mate for life, raising 1 to 3 chicks in an eyrie 150 feet off the ground in a tree. Some nests weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

In the culture of the First Nations, including the Haida on the west coast in British Columbia, the eagle is revered as a bird of power and strength. The eagle also represents strength, courage, honesty, truth, majesty, wisdom and freedom. The traditional legends believe the eagle is a messenger of God, carrying prayers from men of the earth. It is a great privilege to receive an eagle feather, representing gratitude, love and respect.

The Haida have lineages under either "eagles" or "ravens" and use these birds as crests on their totem poles. The animals beneath them belong to the lineage of the family.

Unfortunately, these birds remain on the endangered species list despite a remarkable comeback.

Reference: http://dcp.psc.gov/ccbulletin/articles/AIANCOLogo.htm ;
http://www.haidadesigns.com/culture.htm ;
A Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Michael Vanner, Paragon Publishing (2006), p.77

Photo Credit:  Chris and Lara Pawluk CC=nc-nd-flickr (Bald Eagle in the Rockies)

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Book Review)

From the back cover:

“The fate of an empire rests in the hands of a thief

When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of theHeritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

“Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in fewer than one hundred days. Buther soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councilor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

“Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…”

This fantasy novella is my first foray into Brandon Sanderson’s work, and I’m pleased to say the read was a total pleasure. The story immersed me into well detailed Chinese lore set in a fantasy world containing magic. Woven throughout are fantastic descriptions of background, characters with their inter-personal relationships and motivations, culminating into an intriguing story with a perfect ending.

This is a not to be missed book, and with its convenient size the perfect stocking stuffer for the upcoming festive season.

Brandon Sanderson is the bestselling author of Elantris, the Mistborn Trilogy, and The Way of Kings. In 2007, he was chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series, The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight were #1 New York Times bestsellers; the final volume, A Memory of Light, is a highly anticipated January 2013 release. Sanderson received his Master’s degree in creative writing from Brigham Young University, where he currently teaches. He is a co-host of the Hugo Award-nominated weekly podcast Writing Excuses. Sanderson lives in Utah.

This book is now a 2013 Hugo Winner.

The review copy was provided by Charlene Brusso, with many thanks.

Book format: trade paperback, 176 pages

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Author website: Brandon Sanderson




Saturday, 17 November 2012

Last week I ventured down to High Park where this photo is taken to get back to nature. Once you reach the edge of the park and venture into the magnificent stands of oak, pine and other trees whatever irritations were bothersome evaporated. Although most of the leaves are gone from the trees the enchantment remains.

I spent quite a bit of time with the large oaks, aware of their energy being compressed for the winter. The oaks provide a nurturing calm to life forms around them. Those engaged in energy work will be able to resonate with them as a group or on an individual basis. Its a beautiful experience to commune with their essence allowing full grounding.

High Park has 400 acres of native vegetation and a teahouse that serves a wonderful inexpensive breakfast before 11AM. Perhaps next trip I'll see how the buffao are doing as the park maintains a small zoo on the premises.

Photo Credit: Bobcatnorth CC=nc-sa flicker.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Reality Shifts

Always on the search for new concepts to place into fantasy or science fiction writing, I came across the website by Cynthia Sue Larson. Ms Larson writes about her experiences with actual reality shifts in relation to how a person's consciousness changes the physical world around them. Her Reality Shifters website contains a myriad of information about the concept which I found to be quite interesting. You can make up your own mind.

 Photo Credit: Universe similar to the Milky Way from wikimedia commons.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle (Book Review)

Peter S. Beagle returns with an inspired collection of new fantasy that showcases his incomparable mastery and range. In these tales—with settings as different as an impossible reconstruction of the Berlin Wall and the kitchen of Mrs. Eunice Giant (72 Fairweather Lane, East-of-the-Bean, Sussex Overhead) – warriors, monsters, and utterly ordinary people struggle with possession and forgiveness, life and love, hate and death—and the choices that come after everything else has been stripped away by Fate.

This is a collection of short stories from the master of fantasy, Peter S. Beagle. As always his stories ring true to wonderful characters set in vivid backgrounds where the reader can immerse themselves right into the story. Prior to each story is an introduction of each short story.

The Woman who Married the Man in the Moon
A wonderful engaging tale of Schmendrick the Magician (prior to his adventure in The Last Unicorn), who seemingly rescues two lost children.

Sleight of Hand
A poignant story of a woman in grief looking for escape and finding it with a magician.

Children of the Shark God
The daughter of the Shark God seeks him out, determined to learn why he was absent during her childhood. This story has touching moments between daughter and father.

The Best Worst Monster
A monster learns he has a soul despite everything he does for his master.

What Tune the Enchantress Plays
Breya Drom’s enchantress abilities are inherited through the female line within her village. Taught by her mother to use power through song, Breya overcomes betrayal in love.

La Lune T’Attend
A pair of aging loups-garous with a score to settle. Well done with a perfect ending.

Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers
A wonderful fairy tale seen in the view of the giant’s wife with a rather nice twist.

The Rock in the Park
Revisting those tender teenage years of encountering magic when least expected. An enticing tale of centaurs.

The Rabbi’s Hobby
A Rabbi and his Bar Mitzvah student, Joseph, undertake to solve the mystery of a woman on the cover of a collectible magazine.

Oakland Dragon Blues
A cop coming on duty discovers a dragon sprawled in an Oakland intersection.

The Bridge Partner
A wonderful noir of a bridge player being stalked.

Rescuing victims, a woman appears suddenly in the nick of time to the consternation of onlookers.

After taking his daughter to a pre-natal clinic, a man finds himself suddenly in West Berlin, 1963, or so it seems. For those who remember the Wall being in existence this story clearly covers the era. An excellent story ending a collection of fantastic stories.

Review copy provided by Charlene Brusso.

Book format: Trade Paperback   326 pages

Publisher:  Tachycon Publications

Author Website: www.peterbeagle.com

Available at:             


Friday, 7 September 2012

INFERNAL DEVICES and MORLOCK NIGHT by K. W. Jeter (Book Reviews)

This was my first real foray into Steampunk Fantasy set in Victorian times. The description of historic background and characters provided an enticing read.

Mr. Dower, Jr., inherits his father’s trade, that of purveyor, construction and repairman of timepieces, clockwork and scientific devices.

Unfortunately, the son has no knack for the more complicated designs his father invented, nor the maintenance of them. His father’s old assistant, Creff, continues on in his former place as manservant as well as aiding in repairs.

When Mr. Dower is commissioned to repair one of his later father’s designs, a regulator, by a man described as the “Ethiope”, he has explained he is not capable of the repairs requested. Yet the foreigner persuades Mr. Dower to try, and thus, provides a gold crown with the likeness of Saint Monkfish rather than that of Queen Victoria. Once Dower realizes he is in possession of this odd coin, he decides to search for the person who made it. The search leads from revelation to the next while providing an entertaining mystery.

An assortment of supporting characters add colour to the tapestry of the unfolding mystery:

A terrier named Abel steals part of the story;

Graeme Scape, procurer of clockwork pieces, a natty dresser who wears blue spectacles which he never removes, exhibits artifacts on the road;

Miss McThane, Scape’s companion, a woman of less than virtuous habits;

Lord Bendray, scientist in his spare time, requires the regulator for one of his experiments and will go to any length to obtain it;

Sir Charles Wroth, member of the Royal Anti-Society organization, collecting new clockwork gadgets including automated mannequins.

The novel picks up speed once the Paganinicon makes his appearance, adding suspense and adventure that escalates to the end. All in all, a rather satisfying read that provided a few chuckles and many exciting moments of just what the author had up his sleeve. This was a book that was hard to put down.

Morlock Night is the second novel in the combindation package put out by Angry Robot Books with Infernal Devices. This review will follow below.
The review copy was provided by Lee Harris.

Book format: mass market paperback, 416 pages

Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing 

Author website: K. W. Jeter 

Available: UK – ISBN 978-0-85766-096-1 384 pp in B format paperback US/Can – ISBN 978-0-85766-097-8 416 pp in mass market paperback




This novel is also of the Fantasy Steampunk genre.

It is 1892 in Victorian England. Edwin Hocket has been to an unusual meeting in London where time travel to the distant future was discussed. Hocker finds it to be rather entertaining to learn mankind has evolved into two races: those who live underground and those living above ground, known as “Morlocks” in perpetual war.

Enroute home, Hocker discovers a man accompanying him down the street. They discuss the evenings’ discourse with Hocker no more convinced that a Time Machine, Time Travel and Morlocks actually exist. After smoking his companions’ exotic pipe tobacco, Hocker, discovers himself in the midst of sniper fire, rescued by a woman dressed as a man carrying a rifle and pistol, both of unknown manufacture.

The story moves on in a manner that reminded me of the movie “Matrix”, with each new revelation more fanciful than the last. Historical figures from the past make their appearance which I found to be far-fetched. Up to this point the story was rather good and then it didn’t appeal to me at this section of the story. Perhaps other readers might find this different.

The advanced review copy was provided by Lee Harris.

Book format: mass-market paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing
Author website: K. W. Jeter

Available: UK ISBN 978-0-85766-099-2 - 314 pp - B format paperback US/CAN – ISBN 978-0-85766-100-5 - 352 pp mass market paperback



Friday, 10 August 2012

This lovely photo was taken from the terrace behind the Banff Springs Hotel and overlooks the Bow River.. I know Fairmont owns the hotel now but it is a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific, and I will continue to refer to the original name out of loving tradition. Many years ago, my Mother and I spent a wonderful long weekend there one May. That was when it was slightly more affordable.

My eyes are improving with medical care, new glass lens, and wonderful holistic healing of Reiki. I still have to maintain an easier schedule of working on the computer and not spend too much time, whether on the internet or making edits to my manuscripts.

My vacation plans are going ahead for late summer into the wide open spaces of the western prairies, away from concrete and pavement, large population to a place of quiet solitude and rest.

Currently, I'm reading one of the Angry Robot Army books for a review, Infernal Devices/Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter, a fascinating steampunk story.

 Photo Credit: ElCapitan CC=nc-sa-flickr.com Click to ENLARGE

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls Anthology Book Review

This anthology was edited by Phyllis Irene Bradford. It is filled with a variety of science fiction: stories of space, technology, aliens and humanity. Most of the stories are thought provoking, action filled, humourous and have something for every reader. This anthology was a nice return into the science fiction genre. The majority of the stories within have been previously published in magazines and anthologies such as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Speculative Inflights Magazine, Women at War, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, The Future We Wish We Had, Dinosaur Fantastic, American Journal of Australian Literature,  and Helix Magazine. Each of the stories is accompanied by a brief description about the author and their writing.

The genres covered are space opera, sci fi, fantasy, and futuristic.

18 stories

Of the eighteen stories I managed to read tje first two sections finding most of them quite interesting. Unfortunately I found the PDF format produced eye strain after reading one or two stories which resulted in a slower reading schedule.

Space stories

      Emancipation by Pati Nagle, 1996, The Williamson Effect

An old ritual on an asteroid that separates day from night is changed so that day is to be forever. Manuel, keeper of the Night, finds a way to restore the darkness through a compromise.

Rocket Boy on Call by Pati Nagle

Rocket Boy is a futuristic skip tracer who has romantic ideas about his case assigner.

Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars by Nancy Jane Moore

Lia Bukanan arrives at the Galatea Station, with biodome regulated climate, after working as temp crew on a ship needing a vacation. After a bar fight, Lia hooks up with a “captain” with his own starship. Who turns out to be a bounty hunter.

Sitting Shiva by Judith Tarr

A peacekeeping machine that didn’t grab my interest. Perhaps it will for another reader.

Kinds of Strangers by Sarah Zettel

A starship, the Forty-Niner, returning to Earth from a successful tour of the asteroid belt is losing its crew while their expert intelligence computer is malfunctioning. Or is it? A great line was, “A little red sphere drifted out toward her face.” Ms Zettel reveals insight into space travel and its inherent perils.

Technology stories

Alien Voices by P. R. Frost

A ballet artist takes a chance with a risky surgery, and learns during therapy that the implanted nanobots replicate themselves and heal any new injuries. The nanobots develop an appreciation for ballet.

Aberlard’s Kiss by Madeleine E Robins

A woman has a bioengineering firm make her a man who she introduces to a friend.

Perfect Stranger by Amy Stirling Casel

A young boy has gene therapy to heal a defective heart.
 Revenants by Judith Tarr

A creepy yet intriguing story about a woman taking her child to the revenants zoo setting with dinosaurs.

Alien stories

Its Own Reward by Katherine Kerr

 Your First by C L Anderson

 Gray to Black by Brenda W Clough

Slick by Brenda Kelso

Ask Arlen by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Humanity stories

 Steelcollar Worker by Vonda N McIntyre

A Mighty Fortress by Brenda W Clough

Who Killed Science Fiction by Jennifer Stevenson
 Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls by Irene Radford

The review copy was provided by Sue Lange.

Book Format: ebook PDF 406 pages 
Publisher:  Book View Press http://www.bookviewpress.com/

Saturday, 14 July 2012

This photo is of the Niagara Escarpment of the Bruce Peninsula.

The weather in Toronto has been scorching and humid with little respite except for thunder and hail storms to the west. I'll be happy when the weather returns to cooler temperatures.  The above photo makes me yearn to stick bare feet into the cold water which laps against the rocky shoreline, an activity that would be certain to cool my poor overheated body.

My eyes are seeimg to get a little better with sparse use of the computer, TV and cell phone. I'm to get new lenses shortly which may alleviate the condition a little. I'm finding that drinking more fluid and using saline eye drops are producing an improvement. And I'm planning a vacation for later this summer to get away while looking for a new apartment as the one I've been in for the last couple of years has increased its pest population to an unbearable level.

This leads me to wonder if this is a underlying problem with my eyesight as I'm very drug sensative and any of the toxic chemicals used so far in battling the pests has proven to make me nauseated, wheeze or send me to the hospital emergency with exposure to boric acid (used for roaches, and yet the flysheet says it will kill rats and rabitts). Why is the boric acid used in a building with children I'll never know but am writing a letter to government officials to inquire about the validity of such substances. Any comments on the use of Boric Acid or other such chemicals is appreciated.

Photo Credit: Screen Door Slams CC=nc-nd-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

This photo is of the Bow River heading east toward Canmore, Alberta from Banff National Park. My posts have slowed of late due to ongoing eye problems where I get flashes of light on either side which limits my use of the computer at this time. Thus, future posts are liable to be sporadic until I can get the situation under control. Getting older has its challenges. Photo Credit: pinkcanoe CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Friday, 25 May 2012

These beaultiful gardens are near Chilliwack, B.C. Photo Credit: Stephen Rees CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Point by Thomas Blackthorne (Book Review)

From the back cover: “It’s spreading. The suicide cults of kids barely through puberty. They kill themselves in Cutter Circles, brought together by 3g and desolate dreams. It’s a virus. A plague. Who knows how to stop it? Find out who caused it. Find out who’s in charge. Destroy them. Survive.” This novel is a different kind of science fiction thriller. This was a book that I started several times but was unable to continue to the end due to its subject matter. Stories on suicide may interest other readers even in a fiction setting, but it wasn’t for me. The review copy was provided by Lee Harris. Book format: mass-market paperback, 384 pages Publisher: Angry Robot Books Author website: [http://www.johnmeaney.com] Available: January 2011 US/Canada Edition ISBN 978 0 00 732 948 9 Ebook Edition: ISBN 978-0-85766-080-0 Chapters.indigo.ca

Sunday, 29 April 2012

This photo was taken along the Athabasca River south of Jasper. Once the end of April arrives thoughts of summer trips come to mind. Scenes like the above stir memories of past journeys to the Rockies with family and friends. For me now, it's making the time as I've become quite busy with rewrites, some SF/F short fiction and a new venture of writing a historical article for a magazine. It's a time to keep focused with deadlines approaching. Regular posts will resume shortly as I've found that keeping the mind working creatively assists in keeping my readers interested.

 Photo Credit: Karen Hall CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Nutritional Deficiencies Can Cause Mental Disorders

In the April 2012 issue of Vitality Magazine the article Nourishing Mental Health by Helke Ferrie, covers the effects of the lack of proper nutrients that lead to various mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and maniac depression. There are scientific facts outlining how diets that “do not contain the necessary essential nutrients, such as folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin C, minerals, and the amino acid tryptophan.” A pilot study carried out in the UK where mental patients were deprived of various convenience foods, chocolate bars, colas, snacks containing sugar and given essential nutrients. All improved quickly, some quite rapidly.

 Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, began his work on essential nutrients and cognitive function of the brain in the 1940s at the University of Saskatchewan. His research in nutritional deficiencies causing mental diseases was supported by Tommy Douglas, then Premier of Saskatchewan.

 Dr. Hoffer’s case histories revealed may instances of total recovery from end-stage catatonic schizophrenia through vitamin therapy using nicotinic acid and ascorbic acid. Other cases where mega doses of vitamins were used to treat advanced mental health disorders. An excellent article that led me to consider the various foods I eat on a daily basis, and how to eat healthy to keep thinking clearly. Making certain to eat as health conscious as possible might seem to be a stretch, but by avoiding those snack convenience foods we grew up on as children and teenagers makes a big difference.

 Over the last couple of years I’ve taken steps to eradicate those foods and replace them with healthy alternatives such as nuts, fruit: dried or fresh, carriots, celery, etc. Though for cognitive function I find that eating sufficient quantities of meat protein help along with vegetables, fruit and grains. Certainly something to consider today in keeping oneself healthy

Nourishing Mental Health, Helke Ferrie, Vitality Magazine 2012, pp.40, 42-44, 48-49.

 Photo Credit: Gord McKenna CC=nc-nd-flickr. Ladner farm in summer.

Friday, 13 April 2012


During my youth my mother told me varying recollections of her childhood: of growing up on a farm in rural Alberta. One of those stories involved “stooking”. Today farmers put their hay up in stacked bales rather than sheaves set up in stooks that stand upright. A farmer would drive a two horse hitch pulling a flatbed wagon to drive between the rows to pick up the stooks to remove them to the barn or shed. Today a tractor is used with a baler attachment which packs the sun dried hay or green feed (oats not yet ripened) into a square bale or a large round bale and attaches twine to it to keep it secure until picked up.

Now, the story my mother told me dealt with her wanting to earn the same “extra” money her three brothers did by doing farm chores that involved heavier work like stooking in the fields when harvest came. She thought she was strong enough with the ability to do the same. Housework held no charm for her.

My grandfather, being a shrewd man, allowed her to stook the front corner field consisting of ten acres. Mother thought she would be working with dried wheat sheaves, but soon learned the task involved heavy green oats that hadn’t quite ripened in time for the harvest. Determined to get the job done she persisted.

Fortune shined on her that day. A grove of trees hid the field from the farm house. After several long back-breaking hours, a harvest work crew, hired to work in gangs for large farming operations, passed by on the road. Several of the men seeing my mother hard at work jumped down from the flatbed wagons and joined her in the field. They made short work of the stooking before running down the road to catch up to their ride.

Afterward my mother went to her father and told him she had completed the stooking in the field. He went out to see for himself, and without questioning her how she managed to get it done paid her the money.

Photo Credit: Ewing Galloway, The Book of Knowledge (1937) ,The Groiler Society, Limited, vol. 7, pp.1414. “corn stooks”

Monday, 9 April 2012

Interview with Don Gutteridge

Vital Secrets is the third novel in Don Gutteridge’s historical mystery series. His first novel was Turncoat followed by Solemn Vows. Mr. Gutteridge kindly accepted my invitation for an interview for his readers to learn a little bit more about this talented author.

1. Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?

My son and daughter read the manuscript and they are my biggest fans.

2. How do you choose your characters' names?

My characters names come from the primary historical materials I research and from my imagination.

3. What do you have in your writer's drawer?

Pen and paper in my drawer. I hand-write every novel and then put it on the computer.

4. Where is your favourite place to write?

I write in my study.

5. Do you listen to music when you write?

I don’t listen to music when I write. I need silence to hear the words in my head.

6. With an obvious interest in Canadian history, why did you choose this particular time period?

I have always been fascinated by the rebellion period with its fair share of political intrigue.

7. What was the inspiration for the Marc Edwards mysteries?

I was inspired to write the Marc Edwards mysteries by my lifelong love of histoircal mysteries.

8. Do you keep a chart or list of all the things about Marc Edwards or any of the other characters?

I keep brief charts of my characters and their traits.

9. Are there other characters you plan to carry over in future novels of the Marc Edwards mysteries?

I plan to introduce other historical figures into later novels, like Robert Baldwin and Louis Lafontaine.

10. How and why did you become a writer?
I started writing storeis in grade five, then poetry and never stopped.

11. What authors do you read?

I read quality Canadian fiction and numerous British, Canadian and American mysteries.

12. Have you written other genres besides historical fiction?

I have written and published eight literary novels and sixteen books of poetry, in addition to nine books in education.

Mr. Gutteridge, I wish you well with your upcoming books in this series. The next novel should prove to be as excellent as the others.

Link to


Friday, 6 April 2012

Vital Secrets by Don Gutteridge (Book Review)

From the back cover:

“It’s the fall of 1837, and Lieutenant Marc Edwards of His Majesty’s 24th Regiment of Foot is now an old hand at his post in the colonial backwater of Toronto, Upper Canada. The local population seethes and buckles under the repressive hand of the new government, and Marc expects to see some action very soon. In the meantime, the arrival of a touring American theatrical company promises an enjoyable diversion, and Marc’s friend Rick Hilliard falls hard for a young actress. Events turn deadly when a rival for the ingenue’s affections is murdered, and a disheveled Hilliard is discovered standing over the body holding a bloody sword.

“Marc leaps into action to save his friend, joining forces with the rough-edged Constable Cobb. The two soon discover that the victim was secretly smuggling American rifles across the border and selling them to local radicals. Was this a crime of passion or a criminal transaction gone wrong?

“What Marc doesn’t realize is that both crimes will reveal incredible secrets about his own identity, and the outcome of the investigation will change Marc’s life forever.”

In the third novel of the Marc Edwards mystery series set in early Canadiana, more particularly 1837 during the famous rebellion of that year. With this Mr. Gutteridge aptly “sets the stage” for this mystery series, providing historical detail to give colour and motive for his well rounded characters.

Marc Edwards, Lieutenant of the British army, raised in privilege, continues to court Beth Smallman. Although she is outspoken on the financial situation with the merchants and farmers he finds himself making compromises. While considering a wedding date Edwards has concerns of uprooting her from Upper Canada to some far off country: the British colonies in Van Damien’s Land, India or the Caribbean.

Other returning characters are Rick Hilliard, an ensign, perpetually love struck with each woman he meets, certain “she” is the one; Horatio Cobb, Toronto constable, with personable rough characteristics and loaded dialogue guaranteed to bring chuckles.

Each of the new characters are introduced with enough description to keep the reader interested, especially when one of the actors is discovered murdered. One character in particular that I took a shine to was Dora Cobb, Horatio’s wife, who is a midwife.

As Marc Edwards carries out the investigation rather than the local police due to the victim being an American to avoid political repercussions, the clues begin to surface: some red herrings and others most intriguing. The ending does come as a bit of a surprise but fits in well with the norms of the time.

Vital Secrets follows nicely after Solemn Vows. The next book in the series continues with the 1837 Rebellion in Lower Canada which should be as interesting as this one was. Historical novels provide an excellent way to reintroduce the reader to a time long ago.

Don Gutteridge taught English at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, before starting the Marc Edwards mystery series.

Review copy provided by Anneliese Grosfeld.

Book format: paperback, 321 pages

Author: Don Gutteridge

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

Available at:

Also in ebook




Saturday, 17 March 2012

Eastern Cougar Making Comeback

According to a recent post in Cougar News about an article in the Ottawa Citizen written by Tom Spears, March 15, 2012, cougars have made a comeback in eastern Ontario. Rick Rosatte, a biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Trent University in Peterborough, ON conducted a study from 2006 to 2010 that confirmed sightings. He suspects the cougars come from those in the wild, and those people had as pets decided to release them back into the wild. They prefer low density areas and prey upon the large deer population.

Myself, I'm pleased the wildlife are making a comeback in areas they deserve to live in. Although if the cougar population increases substantially then they will be reduced by hunters who are given permits by the Ministry. It's a shame they were almost hunted to extinction in the first place. But times are changing.

Photo Credit: ART2 CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

This photo was taken at the Minter Gardens near Chilliwack, B.C.

A nice reminder that spring and summer will soon follow bringing sunshine and warmer temperatures. There's nothing quite like a waterfall in a garden or natural setting to put people at ease. Myself, I'm looking forward to summer and the coming year to get out more and enjoy those thigs that go hand-in-hand with sunshine and balmy days.

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

Thursday, 16 February 2012

This photo is of an island in Whitefish Lake near Thunder Bay, Ontario. I imagine if the temperatures have been sub-zero in the -18C/0F range or colder then it would be quite the trek across the ice to the island to see what was there. Though a boat or canoe would do nicely in the summer.

Although February is often cold, snowy and definitely winter in Toronto, we have been having a mixture of freezing cold with blowing snow followed by milder temperatures just above the freezing mark. I have never known a winter quite like this. I expect there are varying temperature fluctuations all around the globe.

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

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Angry Robot Opens Door Again

Yesterday I received an email from Angry Robot Books informing me about an opportunity for debut novelists (that would be me!!!!) to have another Open Door Month like they had last year. The submissions for 2011 garnered publication for three authors - Cassandra Rose Clarke, Lee Collins and Lee Battersby, and at least six brand new novels for publication with Angry Robot Books in 2012 and 2013.

Angry Robot Books are having another Open Door running from April 16th - April 30th, 2012. This time they require only two types of genre: EPIC FANTASY - with a bit of an edge or the sort of left-field twist the Angry Robot audience has come to expect, and YA -any subject welcome, but must be science fiction or fantasy, and inteded for a Young Adult audience, for potential publication via Angry Robot's new Strange Chemistry imprint.

Further details can be found at http://angryrobotbooks.com/opendoor

Alas, my novel(s)-in-progress are not epic fantasy: no shwash buckling heroes brandishing broad swords fighting to uphold justice in whatever kingdom is prevalent. No lovely heroines to be rescued from some dastardly villan who seeks power and voluptuous maidens imprisoned in a tower or dungeon.

But, surely there's someone out there who has something that needs a quick review and rewrite or edit to polish it off and send it. It's worth a try.

On anorther note, this photo was taken near Sparwood, B.C.

The snow disappeared a few days ago in a heat wave of 7C and rain, and has now reappeared with a light dusting. Its a wonder the trees aren't in a state of shock with the rapid changes in temperature. The forecast called for partial sun and cloud yesterday and it was overcast the whole day. Today I expect much of the same. I love it when the sun comes out as it refreshes my optimism.

I've posted a photo to remind myself that I must get back to my hiking posts. I had one partially done for last year that never made it to the blog. It seems as if the hours in my day have shortened to where nothing I work on gets completed or progresses properly.

Photo Credit: Gord McKenna CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Winter Means Snow

The winter weather has so far astounded me, at least as far as Toronto is concerned. I'm quite familiar with snow, frigid temperatures combined with blustery winds during the northern hemisphere's winters. This year has been a huge exception: almost balmy some days with rain followed by an odd day of colder temperatures with little snow only to change in an day or so to above freezing temperatures combined with rain showers. I wonder how the trees and bushes cope with such modified weather. Even the squirrels are out foraging.

The Mallards that inhabit the nearby creek don't seem to mind as long as they can paddle happily in free moving water. Though they do quite well with walking on ice. It's quite the sight to see them bobbing their heads in the water to cleanse themselves. A little too frigid for me.

The photo is taken near the Flathead Range in the Crowsnest Pass in winter. The Flathead Range makes up part of the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia.

For history buffs courtesy of Peakfinder.com: "The Flathead Range was named in 1924 after a tribe of Indians that lived in northwestern Montana. Some members of the tribe wrapped the soft-boned heads of their infants against a board so as to shape their skulls in a preferred manner."

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

Sunday, 1 January 2012

This photo is taken in Kananaskis Provincial Park, Alberta.

With the New Year of 2012 upon us, I wish everyone a blessed and glorious time. Personally, I'm looking forward to the change of ages from Pisces to Aquarius in December: a new age which is said to bring peace, harmony and joyous love between people in a new "Golden Age". We will be leaving the Age of Pisces where people were forced to be under the control of others. Now is the time for every person to take control of their lives and see what measures they can assist in implementing to help others less fortunate or to see that proper safety measures are taken in environmental issues.

There are always a variety of avenues to be considered: safe health products, better standards for drinking water...i.e. is chlorine really safe to use? Chlorine is used in a variety of ways: to safeguard tap water, in disposable diapers, in bleach, in swimming pools, etc. The dangers of chlorine and its by-products is that it is linked to various forms of cancer. Are the chemicals used in household products, medical prescriptions, personal care items such as deodorant, soap, perfume, cosmetics, safe? Most are not. It's time for people to take an interest in what products they use and how they affect their lives and the lives of their families. Corporate companies are interested in the financial bottom line, not consumers' safety.

On a less serious note, winter did not really arrive in Toronto. It came for a couple of days after Christmas with a scattering of snow followed by mild temperatures and today it's raining with a temperature of 4C. The weather folks say it'll be a mild winter. Global change or is the planet wobbling lower these days? Ever noticed how the sun is located in a different position than when you were younger. Pay attention to where it sits above the horizon and where it sets. In 2010 in April a friend and I noticed that the sun was at an odd height at 4pm: quite high in the western sky when it should have been lower. Who out there has noticed the ground tremble just a little in the late afternoon or evening? A tremble almost imperceptible, but there. Any tremble more than this and my birds act up. Do you pay attention to what is going on around you, or are you more concerned about what's for dinner, or what movie you're going to, or how many emails you have to slog through at work? Take a few minutes and take a good look around you, feel the quiet in the park or is there something else there you didn't quite see before.

Some food for thought for the coming year. Be alert to new things and just maybe you'll experience something profound and new.

Photo Credit: D'arcy Norman CC=flickr.