Sunday, 16 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

I'd be doomed

This is a list of acceptable reasons for commitment to an insane asylum for women circa 1864 to 1889.  There are a few on here that would get me locked away ... but especially "reading novels".  Hmm ... I wonder if they let you read in the asylum?  Probably not!

Origin: Unkown
Source: Facebook

Monday, 10 April 2017

Elvis the Gunslinger - A Review

It’s a Wild West tail tale with a twist – baseball and cricket have not been invented, nary a human to be found, dogs instead of horses and cats rule.


According to the book blurb if you were to cross John Wayne and James Bond you would get Elvis the Gunslinger.  To all appearances he is a gentlecat rancher but the truth is he is a government agent – the best of the best.  After a night spent putting out a mysterious fire in his dog barn and chasing down the feline culprit Elvis’ partner Frank shows up announcing they are leaving on the train ASAP to take on a case.  The son and daughter-in-law of millionaire cat Morris Pusserschmott IV have been kidnapped and Fatscat, the meanest, smelliest outlaw in the west is the prime suspect.  Elvis and Fatscat have history so who better to get to his hideout compound and see that justice is done.

Elvis is a hard drinking, hard loving lawman but that never gets in the way of his clever clue solving skills.  And like any good G-man he always gets his man!

This fun read got off to a bit of a slow start for me.  I found myself rolling my eyes at the beginning – you really need to suspend reality for this book – but soon enough I was caught up in the elaborate kidnapping scheme, the witty repartee between Frank and Elvis, the twists and turns of the case and the very creative characters Mr. Connell has written about. 

I enjoyed the case, the chase and the resolution of the story but one of the dangers when anthropomorphizing cats is walking the fine line between making them too true to their feline nature or giving them too many human qualities.  In this case Mr. Connell leaned a little to the latter.  I was expecting more of a “cat tale”.  This would have been a good read if the characters were human and, granted, replacing them with cats made it imaginative and often humorous but it would have been more fun (for me) with a few more cat-like moments and behaviours.

Overall, once I got used to the cat characters, this was a fun read.  Definitely intended for a late teen to adult audience.  3.5 stars for this one and if pushed would lean towards rounding up to 4 because it was creative and the story picked up in the last half of the book.

* I won this book in a contest by the Purrington Post, so would like to thank them for sending me this book at no charge with no expectation of a review *

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his Amazon author page)

The oldest of four children, Romey Connell grew up in a suburban waterfront community in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, and moved with his family to their nearby horse farm at the age of 14. He graduated from the Auburn University School of Business in 1985 and the Cornell Law School in 1988, whereupon he moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

Romey has been married to his lovely wife, Gretchen (an extremely talented artist and photographer), for fifteen years and they are blessed with two wonderful children, Jerry (13) and Jamie (11). In 2010, after EyeWonder was sold, Romey left the working world for a while, so that he could spend as much time as possible with his family. They live in the Lake Claire neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta.

Though spending time with family is foremost these days, Romey’s interests include travel, sports, the outdoors, beer and food, not necessarily in that order. He firmly believes that you should be wary of persons who do not get along well with children or animals. Romey is a fan of nearly all genres of music, although he is partial to those in which the artists actually play instruments, and he considers dancing all night to be the greatest form of recreation.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Change of Heart - A Review

Urban fantasy is not my usual go-to genre, but tempt me with vampires and I can be convinced to give one a try.  The bonus is that the vampires in this one are bloody and brutal – just the way I like ‘em.

A CHANGE OF HEART by Mark Benjamin

Gabriel Harper could be the poster boy for the fellow they kick sand on at the beach.  Smart and nice doesn’t always cut it and the bullies soon found he was an easy mark for their fun.  Escaping from one such attack by diving behind a dumpster Gabriel never thought it would change his entire world.  That’s where he came across the dying Lucas, one of “The Royals” in the vampire community.  Lucas had never procreated but with his dying gasp he decided to turn Gabriel.

Alone and not knowing what was happening to him Gabriel navigates, with the help of a strange voice in his head, what it takes to be a vampire and the reader is introduced to a very unique world of vampires and the Silver Legionnaires – those who hunt them.

When Gabriel and three of his friends are unexpectedly yanked from their everyday lives and into the fortress of the Legionnaires life becomes very uncomfortable for Gabriel.  Although he is a “hybrid” no one knows his secret, so how does a new vampire live among those determined to eradicate them.  As the story progresses the reader realizes that things are not happy in either camp and, while each community is determined to rid themselves of the other, a little extra spice was added because each community also had traitors within their midst.  Would the vampires and the Legionnaires destroy each other or would they be destroyed from within?

This was a fairly lengthy book and just as I thought things could be moving ahead at a little faster pace Mr. Benjamin threw in a twist I was certainly not expecting.  Well done as it certainly gave me my second wind.

This book starts out with a bang.  Mr. Benjamin definitely drops you right into the middle of the action and then just as you feel you need to catch your breath he the reader back to the norm … Gabriel’s world as a college student.  From that point on the book follows a pretty straightforward time-line.  While the book is written in the third person each short chapter is headed with the name of the character that the chapter features.  I have no problem reading in this manner but the book has an overabundance of characters to keep straight and, rather than helping, the chapter headings seemed to make it more difficult to keep the minor characters straight.

I did enjoy this book.  It was, in my opinion, a very original take on the vampire tale while still staying true to the nature of the beast.  It also gave me a vampire protagonist I couldn’t help but like without making him too “twilighty”.  I did feel that some of the characters had rather juvenile reactions to certain situations considering their twenty-something age bracket but this is book one in “The Royal Blood Chronicles” so I am going to assume the characters mature as the series progresses.  I am also going to assume that I received an ARC because the book could have benefited from a last fine-tooth-comb edit.

I would definitely pick up the next one because I am curious as to where the story is going to go.
3.5-Stars for this one.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with the book at no charge to read and review.
This in no way influenced my opinion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his amazon author page

Mark Benjamin is the author of two books - one, in an adult urban fantasy series, The Royal Blood Chronicles; and the second, a short story. Devouring all books he could get his hands on from an early age, he managed to ruin his eyesight by reading (when he should have been asleep) under his bedcovers with a torch (video games had no say in his bad eyesight...okay, maybe a little). His love of books translated to a passion for writing, which he began aged ten (he still has his first juvenile novel to this day).

Currently working for a national bank, his dream job is to be a full-time author, a path he fully took when he sent a sample of his work to a ten-week introductory fiction course funded by an American foundation and conducted worldwide in 2010. Out of the 15 available slots, one was his out of hundreds of thousands of applicants (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was advertised in the national dailies).

When not writing his third book or planning literary world domination, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, entertaining his under one-year old daughter, playing on his Playstation (AnnA) and reading (obviously).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Farfel and Bob - Two Reviews

Sometimes you just have to read something light and fun, and if that something is told by two absolutely charming "talking" cats, well – all the better.  This was my first introduction to Bob and his best buddy Farfel and it was cat-love at first read.


Bob lives with Marcia who adopted him when she decided a cat was a better relationship than some of the boyfriends she had had.  Needless to even say, she spoiled him thoroughly.  One day Marcia came home and told Bob that she would have to be away every Wednesday evening for several weeks because of a new project at work.  Hmmm – this was going to be a bit disruptive to his life because Bob like to spend his evenings on the fence with his best friend Farfel.  Farfel’s life was a little more stressful than Bob’s because he lived with Mr. and Mrs. Gregson, Teenager, Bird and his nephew kitty, Rooster.  Farfel liked to “unwind” during their time on the fence so he was quite shocked when
Bob announced the change in plans.

"Having a busy family to care for, Farfel relied on his evening with Bob for much needed
down-to-earth cat companionship."

Now, Farfel was an awesome hunter so he decided that on his, now unoccupied, Wednesday evenings he would patrol the perimeter of Bob’s house.  When he caught a mouse he would deposit it on Bob’s doorstep as a gift.

“Bob, who didn't even like mice that much, especially not dead ones, purred as he looked on. Because, as much as Marcia loved him, Bob liked knowing Farfel loved him too.”

Nice kitty idea but, unfortunately Marcia didn’t agree – and – she thought it must be Bob hunting since the mouse was on her doorstep.  But how was he getting out of the house while she was away?  Marcia had to get to the bottom of this mystery!


Teenager has gotten his hands on some firecrackers and when he sets one off in the house Farfel runs out to join Bob on the backyard fence, his fur standing on end and definitely looking spooked.  “That’s the last claw” proclaims Farfel … being scared out of his own home.  Bob wasn’t too sure what firecrackers were and could only imagine something as horrible as the “tail devouring vacuum monster” or the “heat emitting hair-dryer monster”.  Teenager, now relegated to the outdoors by Mrs. Gregson, continued on with the fireworks in the driveway.  The two cats ran to Bob’s house and quickly scooted into the basement for safety.  It wasn’t long before Farfel detected mice. Bob either lacked the hunting gene or was a conscientious objector because he just let them be.  Before Bob could explain Farfel had caught and killed one of the mice. 

Marcia was devastated to know rodents were in her house and had to come up with a cat-friendly way to rid her home of these pests.  Farfel just shakes his head in disbelief at her plan and Bob makes an interesting discovery about himself.

When Ms. Carmichael reached out to me through of my “Stay at HomeKitty” twitter page to ask if I would like to read a couple of her books I agreed.  I was a little apprehensive because one never knows what one is going to get but in this case I was more than pleasantly surprised.  These books are beyond cute and the stories are accompanied by her amusing artwork.   I fell in love with Bob and Farfel and their little adventures. 

These stories will appeal to and be a fun, quick read for adults (especially those who love their feline fur babies) but the stories are definitely G-rated and would make a great introduction to short chapter books for young readers.  The illustrations will help bring the stories to life and the “cat dialogue” will be something to chuckle over as your youngster reads along.

Make sure to check out her website and her blog … there’s all kind of awesome freebies available to give you a little sample of “Farfel and Bob”.

I would like to thank Ms. Carmichael for providing me with these books to review at no charge.  
This is not way influenced my opinions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web page)

A former interactive media developer, Kendra turned her creative skills toward storytelling in order to find more meaning in life. It turns out the same skills that can write JavaScript can craft stories about feline hijinks.

An expert in cat ownership, she’s had eight cats in the course of her life, plus many others that have been temporary residents (mostly due to lack of timely feline birth control).

She currently lives with The One Cat to Rule Them All in New England, where she does all the shopping, cooking, and snow shoveling herself. Occasionally, the cat supervises, when she’s not busy napping.


Farfel is partly based on my cat Jack, who passed a few years back. Both are fat and orange, with super soft fur. While Farfel is happy-go-lucky, however, Jack was angsty and, well, he’d bite you.

Though they would sometimes play together, Jack and Awesometown engaged in a massive power struggle for house dominance the entire time they lived together! Stressful for the human (me).

Now that she is queen of her own house, Awesometown refuses to even contemplate adding another feline to the household. Though, when my mother visits, she does tolerate the dreaded dog.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

All You Need Is Love ... and a Cat - A Review

I love the idea of adult coloring books but was always a little apprehensive about purchasing one and jumping in … I know its supposed to be relaxing but I’ve seen some pretty complicated pictures that I think (for me) would be more frustrating than relaxing.  When I came across this book it was enough to make me change my mind.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE … AND A CAT by Samantha Snyder

This adult coloring book is very generous with its 50 pages of cat “doodle art” complete with a wide variety of quotes and saying by everyone from Edgar Allen Poe to Abraham Lincoln accompanying each picture.  Each page was nice and big and the pictures not too intricate, hence not leaning toward the frustrating.

I’m no expert by any means but I thought the pages were of good quality with the bonus of only being printed on one side, so if one wanted to use markers the next picture would not be damaged by bleeding through.

The only reason I have not gone a full 5 Stars on this book is that not every page had a cat included in the picture; sometimes it was just a paw print and sometimes only the words of the saying with some florals or doodles around the edges.  The cats that were included were charming and whimsical often reminiscent of folk art so I’m sure this would appeal to cat lovers.

So, did I find it relaxing or frustrating? 

I can’t answer that question. 

I had scrounged out the package of pencil crayons I had in my desk from a previous (unrelated to coloring) project and had gotten about halfway through the picture I chose to start with when a friend of mine popped in for a visit.  She is an avid coloring book enthusiast – some of her completed works are amazing – and she quickly commandeered my book.  She is definitely enjoying it!

I’d like to thank Wordslinger and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book at no charge with the hope of receiving an unbiased review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her Amazon Page

Samantha Snyder has been doodling her whole life. While teaching elementary school, she often drew up coloring pages and printables for her students and fellow teachers. She decided to start sharing her creations and in 2008, Doodle Art Alley was founded.

Doodle Art Alley is dedicated to giving those squiggly lines the proper credit they deserve. Who would have thought that such a small and simple idea could possess so much potential? There are lots of fun art activities, tips and information to read through and enjoy at, along with hundreds of free coloring pages and printables.

Strange History - A Review

I am fairly convinced that I now know where the writers on “Jeopardy” get some of their questions.  I was flipping through the pages of this book during a commercial break while watching the game show and there it was! – The exact trivia tidbit that had just been a question on the show.  Their secret is out now.

STRANGE HISTORY by The Bathroom Readers Institute

The folks at the Readers Institute have taken some of the most interesting historical facts and strange stories from their numerous previous books and compiled them in this book that is perfect for history trivia buffs.  According to the blurb on the book there are also about 50 pages of previously unpublished stories. 

Whether you have read the some of the stories before or all of them are brand new to you this book is a fun read.  Do you want to know if Marco Polo really saw Unicorns, the story behind the curse on Shakespeare’s Macbeth or who really discovered the Rosetta Stone?  This is the book that will give you all that and so much more.

I didn’t realize there was a Reader dedicated to Canadian facts and trivia nor one featuring scary stories … they are definitely going to be added to my TBR.

I'd like to thank Printers Row Publishing Group and Netgalley for providing me with
a review copy of this book at no charge

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the web site)

Three decades after the first Bathroom Reader, the Bathroom Readers’ Institute is going strong, having released dozens of titles with content sure to beat the bathroom blahs, and even offering some of the best online trivia available. Consisting of the best trivia writers that Uncle John could find, the BRI has compiled loads of information, from history facts to sports, politics to pop culture, and even the odd science tidbit. After distilling this information into its most basic form, the BRI has generated a huge collection of articles, all of which are specially designed to be read in just a few minutes.

It takes a real team to come up with the kind of authoritative bathroom reader trivia as that found in an edition of Uncle John’s, especially with more than 15 million books in print around the world and counting. The BRI is located in Ashland, Oregon, a small, quiet valley town, where they work night and day in the little red house known as home base, cranking out the second best paper product you can find in any bathroom, anywhere.

Uncle John's Factastic Bathroom Reader - A Review

I was introduced to Uncle John when I received one of the books as a Christmas gift with the inscription “Because it’s probably the only room where you don’t read”.  Hahaha … if only she knew.  What?  No! No!  Think bubble bath!

UNCLE JOHN’S FACTASTIC BATHROOM READER by the Bathroom Readers Institute

These are not the kind of books that you sit down and read in one or two sessions.  They usually come in at 500+ pages crammed full of facts, trivia, odd news and all kinds of other things that absolutely boggle the mind.

This entry into the series is no exception.  I can’t seem to ever be without a book within arm’s reach and this is perfect book to have close by to flip through during commercial breaks, on your kindle when waiting for an appointment or, of course, in the bathroom. 

I'd like to thank Printers Row Publishing Group and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book at no charge

ABOUT THE “AUTHOR” (from the web site)

It was 1987. Uncle John found himself stranded on his throne with nothing to read. That’s when he came up with the idea to launch a series of trivia books specifically tailored toward his fellow bathroom readers. “Every article must be simple to read,” he told us, “and every page must either have an amazing fact or a good laugh—or both.” And with that, the Bathroom Readers’ Institute was born.

A Darkness Absolute - A Review

Miss Armstrong had me hooked from the opening sentence.  Her ability to create unique “worlds” for her novels and characters never ceases to amaze me.  This second book in the “City of the Lost” series took me once again to the middle of nowhere, Rockton, Yukon Territories ... the place people go when the want or need to disappear from their everyday lives.

A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE by Kelley Armstrong

Yup … Rockton is where people come to disappear but unfortunately they don’t check their natures at the door.  What Casey very quickly finds out is that when you populate the town with troubled people often their troubles come with them.  This means sometimes people DIS-appear from Rockton too.

Tracking a town runaway through a blizzard is not an easy feat but you have to know when to call it quits.  Casey and Deputy Will Anders come to just that conclusion when they can no longer see each other on the trail.  Taking shelter in a nearby cave they come across a surprise – a woman thought to be another town runaway thought lost and dead – here in “their” cave, where she has been held captive for over a year.  Despite being taken care by someone she cannot identify her captor.  When they bring her back to town she seems to be all right despite her ordeal.  Maybe a little too all right?  Was it someone from town or one of the hostiles living in the wilderness?  Casey Duncan and her (now) boyfriend Sheriff Dalton are determined to find out but just how do you do that when the whole town could be suspects.

In the first book of the series we got a brief glimpse of the “outsiders” and the “hostiles”; those people living, to varying degrees outside the town.  Bad enough trying to identify suspects when all your neighbours are living a lie but how do you go about finding people who have no desire to be found and are not shy about letting you know that. 

A few new characters were introduced in this book and a few from the first were fleshed out a little bit more – all interesting and unique.  And, the new puppy was a nice touch.  Another page-turner that kept me guessing to the very end.  Looking forward to the next in the series.

* I'd like to thank Minotaru Books and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy
of the book at no charge*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web page)

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She lives in south-western Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Congratulations to Andre Alexis and Fifteen Dogs

My book nerd side is really going to be showing now but I have to post a special shout out to Toronto author Andre Alexis. His book, "Fifteen Dogs" (one of my favorite reads in 2015) won the "Canada Reads 2017".

Fifteen Dogs won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015, making it the first Giller recipient to also win Canada Reads. Alexis was recently honoured with the Windham-Campbell Prize, which recognizes an author's body of work and is one of the world's richest literary awards.

I so loved this book and would highly recommend it. 
My review HERE

Congratulations to Mr. Alexis ... very well deserved!

Checking Out the Katie Maguire Series

For me Graham Masterton is synonymous with “The Manitou”.  Mr. Masterton has been responsible for some of my most cringe-worthy horror reads and his Night Warriors books still remain some of my favorites.  For a long while he sort of dropped off my radar and then I came across his crime thriller series featuring Katie Maguire.  I started the series with the most recent book so I knew I wanted to go back and check out the first few.

WHITE BONES by Graham Masterton

When some construction on a farm building unearths bones D.S. Katie Maguire gets called to the scene.  It quickly becomes obvious that this is not a recent crime scene and after the forensics it turns out that the bones date back to 1915.  But why so many dismembered bodies in one grave – each with a piece of lace tied through the thighbone.

The crime is passed on to an anthropologist to puzzle out until a new murder victim surfaces, oddly enough with a piece of lace tied to the thigh bones as well.  Now Katie has a recent and a decades old murder to investigate.  Is it possible that it is the same killer?

I can’t say Katie Maguire is a fresh take on murder detectives … women have been taking the leading role in a lot of crime fiction lately but she is an interesting leading character.  She has a shady husband and some pretty questionable “friends”.  What made this book a little different is Mr. Masterton takes some pretty fascinating Irish folklore and ties it into a crime thriller. 

Oh?  Those cringe-worthy moments I mentioned?  Yup – still there.  I’ve read some pretty gruesome crime fiction in my day but this one had me grimacing, had it been a film I was watching I definitely would have been peeking out through my fingers.

4 Stars.

BROKEN ANGELS by Graham Masterton

If you are out fishing on a chilly spring morning it’s because you hope to land a big one, but not necessarily as big as a human body.  Father Heaney’s bloated, tortured and garrotted body snags the fishing line and it’s quite obvious that he didn’t accidentally fall in the river.  When Katie Maguire is informed about the murder of a second priest, also similarly tortured she has to amp up the investigation despite the Church trying to throw red herrings and cover-ups in her way.

Again, the story line of this thriller is not an entirely new concept but he does give it a fresh spin, once again drawing in some myths and legends.  The manner in which Mr. Masterton has his crimes executed it pretty bloody and leaves no doubt as to the reason for the killings.  I had that part figured out before it was explained, but that in no way took anything away from the rest of the story. 

Reading this book immediately on the heels of “White Bones” I immediately noticed a pretty serious continuity flaw.  One of the characters that very definitively died at the end of the first book was very much still alive at the beginning of this book.  It sounds a little petty but with 35+ books under his belt Mr. Masterton’s uncaught discrepancy set my teeth on edge.  I found myself reading the rest of this book anticipating other inconsistencies as I did so.  It was a bit distracting.  Mr. Masterton also likes to use the hospitalization of a family member as a distraction for Katie, once or twice I can accept, so I will pick up the third in the series somewhere down the road  - hopefully some of those personal peeves will be left out.

3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

Graham Masterton's debut as a horror author began with The Manitou in 1976, a chilling tale of a Native American medicine man reborn in the present day to exact his revenge on the white man. It became an instant bestseller and was filmed with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Burgess Meredith, Michael Ansara, Stella Stevens and Ann Sothern.

Graham Masterton was born in Edinburgh in 1946. His grandfather was Thomas Thorne Baker, the eminent scientist who invented DayGlo and was the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless. After training as a newspaper reporter, Graham went on to edit the new British men's magazine Mayfair, where he encouraged William Burroughs to develop a series of scientific and philosophical articles which eventually became Burroughs' novel The Wild Boys. At the age of 24, Graham was appointed executive editor of both Penthouse and Penthouse Forum magazines. At this time he started to write a bestselling series of sex 'how-to' books including How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed which has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. His latest, Wild Sex For New Lovers is published by Penguin Putnam in January, 2001. He is a regular contributor to Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Woman, Woman's Own and other mass-market self-improvement magazines.

He lives in Surrey, England (sadly his wife, Wiescka died in April 2011). He has just finished writing a black thriller featuring Ireland's only female detective superintendent, Katie Maguire, set in the Cork underworld; and a dark fantasy, Jessica's Angel, about a girl's search for five supposedly-dead children.

He has written several new short stories and is currently working on a new horror novel, as yet untitled.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Twenty-Three - A Review

After reading the first two books in this Promise Falls trilogy I waited quite awhile before picking up this last book.  I don’t know why I waited so long but now that I’ve read it I’m on the fence about this one.

THE TWENTY-THREE by Linwood Barclay

Promise Falls is a small town that has been under siege for a long while now and the number 23 seems to be important to whoever is perpetrating the horrendous acts.  Now it’s the Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd and as the sun rises people are dropping like flies.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that something has been put into the water supply.   As if that wasn’t enough for the hospital and police department to deal with another murder occurs – one bearing horrible similarities to two past, as yet unsolved, murders.  Could all these events be related?

Mr. Barclay once again gave me a page-turner.  Things in Promise Falls were happening and they were happening quickly.  For this reader it was almost too much, too quickly.  Just when I was catching on to what was happening with the water the scene switched to the murder and then a quick cut to the mayoral candidate and then back to the water treatment plant.  While I don’t mind a lot of action this instalment in the trilogy seemed overpopulated and slightly out of control.  The mystery of “23” was solved and yet with everything that went on there were still some questions unanswered. 

Mr. Barclay has stated this is his last visit to Promise Falls.  We’ll see? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the author’s website)

After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.

Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two children, Spencer and Paige.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Fosgate's Game - A Review

I’m always on the lookout for a good horror story so when I got the email that I’d won a copy of this one I was quite excited to read it.  I’ve read a few other novellas by Mr. Cassidy and, like those, this one did not disappoint. 

FOSGATE’S GAME by David C. Cassidy

Chadwick and Fosgate were business associates but that was all they had in common.  Fosgate is a hunter, a brute, insensitive to other people’s feelings, concerns and fears.   Chadwick was more sensitive – his ulcer flares up when he is in Fosgate’s company, the hunter’s trophies on the wall disturb him and thunderstorms are a phobia – and tonight’s dinner did indeed take place a very dark and stormy night.  Chadwick understands that Fosgate takes a perverse sort of joy playing on his fears but it cannot be helped; these ongoing evenings are a necessity of doing business.

But this night is different.

This night Fosgate shares a mysterious secret about an object he picked up in his travels, a chess set with pieces so grotesque Chadwick could not comprehend why and who would have carved them.  The set should have stayed hidden in it’s case.  It emanated evil, but worse; Fosgate wanted to play!

This book had me in its grip from the first page.  Chadwick’s fear and loathing of Fosgate was palpable and as the evening and Chadwick’s discomfort progressed so did mine. Since I don’t care for Jason and Chainsaw “slasher” type horror finding a good old-fashioned scare seems few and far between these days.  Rest assured there is still the requisite amount of mayhem, death, blood and gore but Mr. Cassidy does not feel the need to slap you in the face with it … one quick mention and the rest is left to the readers imgination … like some of the masters of the genre he understands that this reader does not need to feel splattered in blood to feel fear.  How does it all turn out?  Satisfyingly twisted thank you very much!


I’d like to thank Mr. Cassidy for providing me with this book through a contest
with no expectation of a review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from amazon)

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several best-selling novels of horror and suspense, including The Dark, Velvet Rain, and Fosgate's Game. An author, photographer, and graphic designer--and a half-decent juggler--he spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen.

But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots. David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD--Multiple Activity Disorder--he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

To learn more and connect with David, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or visit his website:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Echoes in Death - A Review

After the last few books I was ready to give up on this series.  I’m quite glad I decided to plough through one more.  I thought this was the best one in quite a while.


In start of this 44th book in the In Death series Eve and Rourke have just returned from a lovely vacation on their private island in time to attend the Winter Ball, a charity event.  Eve, of course, hates every minute of the schmoozing, fancy dress and toe numbing heels.  She was looking forward to getting back to work on Monday but work finds her as she and Rourke are driving home when a young woman, naked and beaten, runs out in front of their car.  Eve Dallas is suddenly back on the job … heels and all.

They manage to rush Daphne Strazza to the ER in time to save her life, but when Eve goes back to investigate it is quite obviously to late for her husband.  Daphne swears the devil himself broke into their home after a dinner party, tied up her husband and then repeatedly assaulted her.  Eve understood that it couldn’t really have been the devil, but who was this master of disguise – who, as it turns out has targeted several other couples before and probably has a list of future victims as well.

With Echoes in Death Ms. Robb has gone back to what I enjoyed about these books at the beginning – the crime, the squad, the investigation and Rourke to go home to.  It was a relief to me that Rourke took a little bit of a back seat in this one.  Frankly, he was becoming annoyingly controlling and invasive of Eve’s space in the last few entries.  Yes, he still helped with some computer work but this case was solved by good old police work.  Well 2060’s style police work.  Therein lies my only complaint with this book ... the solving of the case seemed to come out of the blue.  All at once Eve seems to have an epiphany and the bad guy is in the interrogation room.  Did I miss a chapter or two?  Was it supposed to be a surprise or did Ms. Robb realize the page limit was looming and she better get this case solved.  

Echoes in Death has ensured that I will pick up at least the next instalment. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

With a phenomenal career full of bestsellers, Nora Roberts was ready for a new writing challenge. As her agent put it, like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and caffeine-free Pepsi, a pseudonym offered her the opportunity to reach a new and different group of readers. The first futuristic suspense J. D. Robb book, Naked in Death, was published in paperback in 1995, and readers were immediately drawn to Eve Dallas, a tough cop with a dark past, and her even more mysterious love interest, Roarke.

The series quickly gained attention, great reviews, and devoted readers. Since the debut of Loyalty in Death (the ninth In Death book) on Halloween 1999 on the New York Times bestseller list, every J. D. Robb title has been a New York Times bestseller. While fans had their suspicions, it wasn’t until the twelfth book in the series, Betrayal in Death (2001), that the publisher fully revealed that J. D. Robb was a pseudonym for bestselling powerhouse Nora Roberts. Unmasked, Nora Roberts fans who hadn’t yet picked up one of the Robb books were quickly playing catch-up.

The In Death books are perpetual bestsellers, and frequently share the bestseller list with other Nora Roberts novels. J. D. Robb publishes two hardcover In Death books per year, with the occasional stand-alone original In Death story featured in an anthology.
Forty-four books later, there is no end in sight for the ever-popular In Death series.

Friday, 24 March 2017

I Liked My Life - A Review

I hadn’t heard any buzz about this book, but the cover caught my eye from the “express read” shelf as I was hurrying past it on my way to the “holds” shelf at the library.  When that happens (more often than I should probably admit) I read the synopsis on the inside cover but I also flip through the book and read some random sentences and the first line.  How could I resist a book whose first line read “I found the perfect wife for my husband”?

I LIKED MY LIFE by Abby Fabiaschi

Madeline is devoted to her teenage daughter, still in love (mostly) with her husband and proud of being a stay at home mom.  She, possibly rightly, knows that she is the glue that holds her family together.  She’s happy with her family and her accomplishments.  That’s what she and everyone around her thought until Maddy, for reasons unknown, went to the roof of the library building where she worked and ended up dead and broken on the tarmac below.

As her family comes to terms with her unexpected death Madeline finds that although her mortal life is over she is not quite ready to leave her family totally to their own devices.  A presence - but not really a ghost - Madeline has to learn how to navigate in this limbo where she finds herself and, more importantly, how to steer her family in the right direction before she ascends to wherever she is meant to go.

Told from the perspective of the three family members, Brady (husband and father), Eve (daughter) and Maddy herself.  This style is perfect for this book because it gives the reader the insight they need into all three characters that an omniscient narrator could never accomplish in the same satisfying manner.  Despite the fact that this book primarily deals with the death of woman, the pain and the grief her husband and daughter go through and their tense, often difficult, road toward forming a new type of relationship at it’s heart this is a feel good book.  Yes, it is sad in places and I can even admit to being angry with each of the characters at different points, it made me smile at others and, boy, I liked this book.

It never occurred to me while I was enthralled in the read but if you liked “Lovely Bones” then this is a book you should definitely pick up and read.  The books are different in many ways, the same in others but certainly with the same type of feels.

It didn’t take too much deciding to come up with my 5 star rating but I hesitated for a couple of moments wondering if I enjoyed this book so much because of my age.  It will definitely appeal to the “mature” woman but I truly believe it will appeal to young women and older teens just as much.  It’s a story of family, love and friendship and how to get through the tough times.

* Twenty percent of the author’s proceeds support women and children’s charities around the globe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

After graduating from The Taft School in 1998 and Babson College in 2002, Abby climbed the corporate ladder in high technology. When her children turned three and four in what felt like one season, she resigned to pursue writing.

In March, Abby signed a two-book, hardcover deal with St. Martin’s Press. Her debut upmarket women’s fiction novel, I Liked My Life, will be released January 31, 2017.
Abby is a human rights advocate interested in economic solutions to social/cultural problems.

She is Director of the Board for Made By Survivors, an international nonprofit organization with a unique prosperity model that uplifts victims from sex trafficking and extreme abuse.

She and her family divide their time between West Hartford, Connecticut and Park City, Utah. When not writing or watching the comedy show that is her children, she enjoys reading across genres, skiing, hiking, and yoga. Oh, and travel. Who doesn’t love vacation?

I Work at a Public Library - A Review

I am a bit of a sucker for this type of book.  Interacting with the public for most of my working life I have a few amusing stories up my sleeve too.  I think that sets my expectations pretty high.


The tag line on this book is “A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks”.

Crazy?  Not so sure.

Humorous?  Borderline.

I can’t honestly say that, for me, there were any laugh-out-loud moments as I read this book.  I found it mildly funny at best so that was a little disappointing.  I understand that Ms. Sheridan was sharing some of these stories in a blog and eventually had other librarians sending her stories that she added to her own and shared a select number in this book.  I may go and check out the blog sometime just to see if she could have made better choices.

My favorite story in the book?  Ouchies, Library … I stubbed my toe just as someone dropped a book into the inside book drop.  As I yelped and howled in pain, a child on the other side said “Mommy, I think we hurt he book”.

All that aside I do applaud any literary effort that celebrates libraries and librarians.  I use my library A LOT and am so grateful they do what they do.  For that reason I tacked another ½ star onto my rating of this book … 3 ½ stars!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)

Gina Sheridan is a librarian in St. Louis, Missouri, where she lives her partner Travis.  When she’s not collecting stories, she’s exploring cemeteries, dressing up her cats, or taking pictures of things overlooked by regular people.  You can visit her website at

The Ice Dragon - A Review

I read and enjoyed the books in the Song of Fire and Ice series, and let’s face it; very few authors are as ruthless as Mr. Martin when it comes to killing off characters in the most gruesome ways.  When I saw this book at the Dollar Store (sorry Mr. Martin, sad for you – good for me), despite my self-imposed book buying ban I had to pick it up to see what Mr. Martin considers YA fiction.

THE ICE DRAGON by George R.R. Martin

Adara was a winter child, born during the worst winter anyone could remember.  Unfortunately, her mother died in childbirth – no one knows if that, the storm or her father’s (albeit) hidden blame resulted in her not ever feeling cold.  When other children tired of their winter games and ran inside for warmth Adara went alone to build her ice castle.  It was there she first met the Ice Dragon of legend.  No one had ever seen it other than from afar but after several winters Adara not only touched it but also rode on it’s back.  They developed a unique friendship out of mutual loneliness.

As war encroaches ever closer on her village neighbours and friends are leaving.  Even Adara’s uncle, a King’s Dragon Master, warned her father to leave but he was a stubborn man.  When it was too late to leave and the only thing that could save them was Adara’s dragon it became a question of which friend was willing to sacrifice more for the other.

While not totally without war, bloodshed and death Mr. Martin has definitely toned it down for the younger audience intended to read The Ice Dragon.  What there is, I would consider age appropriate and not graphic - happening “off page”.  He does give his young reader a page turning story and a poignant lesson about what it means to be a friend.  An added bonus is the wonderful illustrations. 

I enjoyed the book and am glad I “splurged” and picked it up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)

Mr. Martin is a six time Hugo and two-time Nebula Award winner, is the author of the most wildly acclaimed and anticipated series in recent history, A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis for HBO’s show Game of Thrones.  Time magazine named him “One of the most influential people of 2011”.  He currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from the book jacket)

Luis Royo is a prolific Spanish artist best known for his lush fantasy illustrations.  More than thirty books of his collected art have been published, including “Women, Dead Moon”, and the “Malefic Time” series.  Royo’s artwork is featured in Spectrum 3 and has been exhibited in Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, New York, Seattle and St. Petersburg.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Switching things up with a movie review

I was fortunate enough to see Kedi (Turkish for cats) at the Rogers “Hot Docs” in Toronto last night and I am not using the word “fortunate” lightly.  It was a delightful film.  I always walk into documentaries, especially those featuring animals, with a certain amount of trepidation because of what I might see.  With Kedi my greatest fear was that it would be tear-inducing account of the hardships feral cats face in the streets of Istanbul.  Oh yes, I’d watched the trailers but they always put the best parts into those don’t they?  Thankfully, my trepidation was unfounded.  I am sure they purposely left out “ugly” but, with my blinders permanently in place, that was fine by me.

The cats of Kedi are not feral cats – wild and uncared for, they are “street cats” (as the film’s English title infers) – cats that are cared for, fed, petted and loved by the people with whom they share their city.  As one of the people featured in the film explained “we all have running tabs at the vet’s office”.  From the fisherman who discovered an abandoned litter of kittens and took over feeding them using a syringe to the shop owner who was administering antibiotic drops to a kitten with an eye infection there wasn’t much in this film that didn’t make me smile.

Common belief is that they first arrived on Norwegian trading ships and just stayed (a few of the cats definitely bore traits common to the Norwegian Forest breed).  And why not stay?  They are treated like the royalty I’m sure they believe they are.  The people in the film were eloquent in describing why the cats were such an important part of not only their lives but also the life of the city that they have roamed freely for centuries.  Kedi is also a truly beautiful film to watch … Istanbul on film is both breathtaking in the long shops and quite real, dare I say gritty at times, when the camera went to street shots and then even to cat’s-eye level.

That entirely aside, and as it should be, the cats were the stars of the film.  Each of the featured felines had a distinct personality.  With a gentleman, a psychopath, the lover and the hustler the movie could be a Hollywood blockbuster but these cats are just going about their days and, more often than not, getting their own way.  Even President Obama was not immune to their powerful charms when he bent down to pet one of these felines on a tour of Hagia Sophia.

There was a serious side to Kedi that cannot be overlooked.  The people are concerned about the gentrification of their little part of the city.  They worry about themselves but also about what will happen to these cats that are so much a part of their lives.  Now the cats lounge in the sun on car windshields, relax in store doorways, perch upon high walls, sprawl on top of awnings and curl up on sidewalk cafĂ©, they have their private little hidey-holes and safe places to disappear into when they need alone time.  The citizens fear for them when all there spots disappear.  Where will they go … both people and cats?

I must admit there was a big – okay huge – part of me that watched this film with my Canadian mentality and wondered why they would not start a Trap/Neuter/Release program in this beautiful city.  The people pick up and cuddle kittens, interact with these cats, feed them and look after their health … why not spay and neuter? But, this is a review not a platform so, definitely, this is a film I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone but especially those with a soft spot for furry feline friends.