Thursday, 29 April 2010

Bench of the Week (38)

This bench is located on the Windsor, Ontario side of the Detroit River with an interesting view of the ships and the skyline of Detroit, Michigan.

RuneE of Visual Norway often posts benches on Fridays. Please join in on this informal meme.

Photo Credits: nowak CC=nc-nd-flickr. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (Book Review)

From the publisher, inside book flap:

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children onto them.”
Genesis 6:4

"Sister Evangeline was just a young girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 correspondence between the late mother superior of St. Rose Convent and the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller plunges her into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelogists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

"For the secrets the Rockefellers guard are desperately coveted by these once powerful creatures who stopped at nothing to perpetuate war and subvert the good in humanity. Almost since human civilization began, these uncommonly tall fair figures moved undetected throughout the world, gaining great power and tracked in stealth by generations of angel scholars—the angelogists—who have devoted their lives to stopping them. This mission is steeped in a reality shadowed by the divine supernatural. It haunts every corridor of Evangeline’s Hudson River abbey, pierces the innocent world of an art historian’s research, and casts architectural treasures in Paris and New York in an astonishing new light. All the while, deep in a Bulgarian mountain cavern, the Nephilim’s angelic forefathers illuminate the stalactite bars of their prison with a radiance of an altogether different sort—a perpetual glow that is as deadly as it is irresistible.

"As Evangeline learns how these realms connect to the correspondence she’s found, she comes into knowledge of the role she herself is destined to play in this ancient clash reignited—and of how her Parisian grandmother, one of the great angelogists, intends to prevent catastrophic defeat on the eve of the new millennium.”

I loved reading this book, and once begun was unable to put it down. For those looking for an engaging thriller, this is the one to read.

The author combined historical detail with a variety of interesting characters, mixing it with biblical stories of the fallen angels, mythology, the supernatural and a treasure hunt, to produce a wonderful book. The story starts out slowly with a great attention to detail of Evangeline’s life as a nun in a convent along with snatches of her childhood.

A bohemian art historian is introduced early, Paul Verlaine, doing research for the cruel and handsome villain, Percival Grigori. Verlaine is described as dressed in a white corduroy jacket and favorite Snoopy socks with a bad track record on first dates and job interviews. Verlaine has been hired to learn whether Mrs. Rockefeller and the convent’s abbess had exchanged correspondence. Grigori, an impatient, arrogant creature, presses Verlaine for the research material from the convent.

Percival Grigori belongs to a long line of Nephilim described as “beautiful, iridescent monsters” with golden skins and large white wings. The Nephilim, once powerful, are becoming sick and losing their angel powers due to too much interbreeding with humans. Grigori is searching for the golden lyre that Orpheus gave to the fallen angels imprisoned in the caverns in Bulgaria hoping to heal his decaying wings.

As bits of Evangeline’s childhood are slowly revealed, an overheard poignant comment from one of the Nephilim remains etched upon her mind: “Angel and devil….One is but a shade of the other.”

Woven within Evangeline’s story via flashbacks is her grandmother’s involvement with the Angelological Academy, providing an in-depth look at how the society managed its affairs and how some of the Nephilim managed to survive.

The detailed description within tends to slow the pace of the story in places but quickens when the chase is on at the two-third mark in the book. I enjoyed the extensive descriptive explanations as the clues were revealed one by one throughout the story. Ms Trussoni’s use of words produces stellar imagery for the reader to transcend place and time, whether it is in a convent, cave or through the eyes of a little girl or a prideful Nephilim.

I suspect by the number of loose ends left dangling at the end of the book that there is a sequel in the works. However, the ending should leave a satisfactory feel to the reader although I found it left an uncomfortable gap with the relationship between Evangeline and Verlaine with a feeling of being rushed into a new set of circumstances.

I'm looking forward to the sequel.

For more information about the book and the characters within visit

Genre: Historical fiction, thriller, supernatural.
Format: Hardcover 464 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Canada, imprint of RandomHouse Canada

Published: March 9, 2010

Author website: Danielle Trussoni

Available at:

My thanks to Julie Forrest for providing the book for my review.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Time to Escape into the Wilderness

This is Mt. Ratcliffe located about 50 km SE of Bella Coola in British Columbia.

I have just endured another residence move back into an apartment complex. Sharing a house has too many headaches. One of the other roommates had a tendency to leave the stove burners on when distracted (sometimes leaving the house with them still on). This is the same woman who used sulphuric acid in the kitchen drain which I previously posted about.

The new location has a creek running along the property perimeter with several families of mallards paddling happily in the water. Expect some photos taken by me soon.

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

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Bench of the Week (37)

[Please click to enlarge]

This rustic bench is located at the Parc des Chutes Rivere-du-Loup in Quebec.

RuneE of Visual Norway began an informal meme of benches which he usually posts on Fridays.

Photo Credit: Gwen CC=nc-flickr.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Hiking Trails - Plain of Six Glaciers

[1 - Lake Louise in morning light - click to enlarge]

The Plain of Six Glaciers is located near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta.

This hike is 14 km in distance, taking about 7 hours to complete depending on the hiker's level of fitness.

The trail begins outside the Chateau Lake Louise parking lot and goes along the north shore of the lake. From here it is about 5.5 km (one way) to the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house.

Elevation gain 340m (1,115 ft)
Max elevation: 2070m (6,800 ft)
Maps: Lake Louise and Yoho (Gem Trek)

[2 - Lake Louise and Mt. Victoria - click to enlarge]

The first 2.5 km of the trail are flat.


The trail goes through a subalpine forest, past the turn-off to the trail to Lake Agnes, then up a steep ridge crossing several avalanche paths.

[4- Ground Squirrel aka Chipmunk- click to enlarge]

These can be found almost everywhere in the Rockies, especially where there are tourists. (An eastern Canadian variety have spots between the stripes.)


[6 - Western end of Lake Louise where the trail meets the delta formed by silt from the glacial meltwater - click to enlarge]

[7 - Glacial silt entering the still water of the lake]

[8 - Looking back to Lake Victoria]

Here the trail continues in a moderate climb toward Mt. Victoria along a glacial moraine.

[9 - click to enlarge]

The trail hugs the ridge beside the moraine from Mt. Lefroy (left) and Mt. Victoria.

[10 - click to enlarge]

[11 - Lake Louise as seen from the glacial moraine of Mt. Victoria]


[13 - Western-most end of trail - click to enlarge]

Looking at Victoria Glacier on Mt. Victoria.

[14 - Death Trap to Abbot Pass - click to enlarge]

[15 - Avalanches are preceded by a big boom - click to enlarge]

[16 - Glacier calving from Mt. Victoria - click to enlarge]

This photo reveals the potential dangers of accessing the Death Trap to reach the alpine hut at the top of Abbot Pass.


The trail climbs toward the Plain of Six Glaciers and the tea house.

[18 - Pika]

These are usually very timid, and give shrill squeaks when spotting intruders to their territory.

[19 - click to enlarge]

[20 - Stream crossing on way to Tea House - click to enlarge]

At the bottom of the Shortcut Switchbacks there is a junction (elevation 1800m) leading to the Highline trail to the Big Beehive and Lake Agnes. Keep left. Here the trail stays level for some distance and passes along a narrow ledge before it begins a steady climb in the trough behind the north lateral moraine of the Lower Victoria Glacier.

[21 - click to enlarge]

[22 - click to enlarge]

[23 - click to enlarge]

[24 - part of the Plain of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]

There used to be six glaciers, but now there are only three.

[25 - Avalanche chute on flank of Mt. Whyte near the Plain of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]

[26 - View near Tea House of Six Glaciers - click to enlarge]

[27 - click to enlarge]

[28 - Hoary marmot]

These rodents live near the meadows along the avalanche chutes where it is common to hear them 'whistle' at intruders who come too close to their burrows.

There are several switchbacks on the trail with the fourth being about 300 m from the tea house.

[29 - Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House - click to enlarge]

The Tea House is at an elevation of 2100m.

Supplies to the tea house are packed in by horses during the summer months. The tea house was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1920s to accommodate mountaineers.

[30 - View from balcony on second floor]

[31 - Tea and chocolate cake - click to enlarge]

[32 - view from the Tea House - click to enlarge]

Close to the Tea House mountain goats can be seen among the rocky crags.

Beyond the Tea House the trail splits: a faint trail to the right climbs for 305m in 1.6km to a breathtaking view Mt. Victoria and the six glaciers. Here the wind can be quite strong and the trail slippery when wet. The main trail continues for another 0.4km up to the edge of the Victoria Glacier.

The trail continues upward along the valley cresting a lateral moraine which provides a viewpoint of the Victoria glacier below and Abbott Pass where on a clear sunny day the alpine hut built by the CPR for mountaineers to stay overnight, can be seen. It is Canada’s highest location for a national historic site. This is a rather precarious spot though it is the best place for a view to Abbott Pass between Mts. Victoria and Lefroy.

[33 - Map of trails to Plain of Six Glaciers (left) and Lake Agnes (right)]

Photo Credits: [1]-meironke CC=nc-flickr, [2][7][19][20][21][26][27][29][31][32]-Fred Hsu CC=flickr, [3]-saeahkim CC=nc-nd-flickr, [4][5]-, [6][17][24]-Cleavers CC=nd-flickr, [8][9][10]-isurusen CC=nc-nd-flickr, [11][14][22][23]-Maggie T CC=nc-flickr, [12]-totten photos CC=nc-nd-flickr, [13][15]-Soul of Beer CC=nc-nd-flickr, [16]-jackrutherford CC=sa-flickr, [18][28]listentoreason CC=nc-sa-flickr, [33]-subindle CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell (Book Review)

From the publisher:

"From the internationally acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries comes an extraordinary stand-alone novel--both a mystery and a sweeping drama--that traces the legacy of the nineteenth-century slave trade between China and America.

January 2006. In the small Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, a horrific scene is discovered: nineteen people have been tortured and massacred and the only clue is a red silk ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has a particular reason to be shocked by the crime: her mother's adoptive parents, the Andréns, are among the victims. Investigating further, she learns that an Andrén family living in Nevada has also been murdered. Travelling to Hesjövallen, she finds a diary, kept by a gangmaster on the railway built across America in the 1860s, full of vivid descriptions of the brutality with which the Chinese and other slave workers were treated. She discovers that the red silk ribbon found at the crime scene came from a local Chinese restaurant, and she learns that a Chinese man, a stranger to the town, was staying at a local boarding house at the time of the atrocity. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed such a horrific crime, but Birgitta suspects that there is much more to it, and she is determined to uncover the truth. Her search takes her from Sweden to Beijing and back, but Mankell's narrative also takes us 150 years into the past: to China and America when the hatred that fuelled the massacre was born, a hatred transformed and complicated over time and that will catch up to Birgitta as she draws ever closer to discovering who is behind the Hesjövallen murders."

This book is an excellent political thriller and detective mystery which unfolds with the discovery of a dead man missing a leg in the snow outside a rural Swedish village followed by eighteen other bodies of elderly residents and a boy in the houses. The only clues are a red ribbon and a 19th-century diary found at the scene.

Mr. Mankell provides just enough information to keep the reader going without losing interest. The story moves from the present into the past mid-nineteenth century to Guangzhou, then to Nevada, returning to 21st century Beijing to Zimbabwe and Mozambique and back to Sweden while using international political issues as a background. The underlying motives are dealt with through a variety of characters to provide political and social explanations of China’s involvement with foreign countries, as well as the reason behind the murders.

Judge Birgitta Roslin begins her own inquiry into the murders when she discovers that her mother’s foster parents are among those found dead. Off work for high blood pressure she studies the journals found in the foster parents’ home. She finds a link to the red ribbon and follows it to a local hotel where Birgitta uncovers another clue. The suspense builds until the naïve Birgitta finally realizes that the killer is after her.

I would recommend this book for any avid mystery crime reader as it does provide good elements for a thriller.

About the author:

Author Residence: Sweden; Mozambique Author Hometown: Sweden

Internationally acclaimed author HENNING MANKELL has written nine Kurt Wallander mysteries, which have been published in thirty-three countries and consistently top the bestseller lists in Europe, receiving major literary prizes (including the UK's Golden Dagger for Sidetracked). He has also published many other novels for children, teens, and adults. In addition, he is one of Sweden's most popular dramatists. Born in 1948, Mankell grew up in the Swedish village Sveg. He now divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a director at Teatro Avenida. He has spent many years in Africa, where a number of his novels are set.

Book format: Hardcover, 371 pages
Publisher: Vantage Canada, imprint of Random House of Canada
Author website: Henning Mankell
Available: February 16, 2009