Thursday, 29 September 2011

Gallows View by Peter Robinson

Last summer, I heard Peter Robinson read from his then new book Bad Boy.   After he finished reading I knew that I had to search out his first Inspector Banks book.  Luckily I was able to download the audio version from my library.

When Alan moved his family to Eastvale, in Yorkshire, he thought he would find the quiet life as compared to his previous post in London.  For a while it did work that way.  But as Chief Inspector he became involved in all the illegal going ons in town.  At first it was a case of break and enter at a few seniors houses. Next, there were several reports of peeping toms.  Banks had just arranged to work with Psychologist Jenny Fuller when was informed of a dead woman, possibly the result of another break and enter.  Life was no longer seeming so peaceful in Eastvale.

I was taken in by this audio book almost from the first minutes.  I didn't want to press stop.  In fact, I listened to the whole book twice over and found it just as gripping the second time.

I thought that with such a busy and complicated job, Banks would keep his home life simple, and perhaps he had been doing that.  That is, until he met Jenny.  There is something about her that he finds highly attractive and it's not just a physical thing.  He loves his wife Sandra and would never hurt her but....

With Jenny's help, he sets out to discover whether these cases could possibly be related and what type of person or persons could be committing them.  Banks is a very by the books kind of police, he dots his i's and crosses his t's, and when something doesn't make sense he digs further.  This is the type of story that a reader can really dig into.  Lots of details to ponder.  Not only do we get to follow Alan while he tries to sort out the cases, we get involved in his personal life.  He is becoming distracted by his interest in Jenny and I was left wondering if he would be able to keep that on a professional level.  I thought that the end of this book was perfect.  Great combination of diligent police work and of course a wee bit of luck mixed in .  I will definitely be reading more by Peter Robinson.

This unabridged audio book by Tantor Audio was read by Mark Honan.  8 hours 45 minutes.  Mr. Honan did a wonderful job of reading.  He brought the characters to life for me.  He was able to convincingly portray teenagers as well as seniors as well as male and female.

Thanks to Tantor Audio for the use of the cover image.

This is my 8th books for the 5th Canadian Reading Challenge hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.  All readers are invited to join.  Read 13 books by Canadian authors between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. One book for each province and territory.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper

Joan's world is very ill and it's going to take more, much more, than a few simple spells and incantations to heal it.  It's going to take sending her back two hundred years to 1888 to effect the changes needed.

While wandering in the woods near his estate, Simon Grenville happens upon the long neglected standing stones he vaguely remembers from his youth.  As he approaches, he can feel an unearthly power building, radiating from the stones.  Moments later, Joan appears in the circle, poised for battle.

As it turns out, these two have a common adversary and they determine that they will work together to vanquish him.

This does pose certain challenges.  Joan comes from a broken, live by the skin of your teeth society.  She is essentially unaware of Victorian propriety and customs.  While she is a most proficient assassin, she hasn't the slightest idea of how to  approach her target.  It was interesting to see how different present day society and mannerisms are from 1888.  Clothing, manners, forms of speech, so much for Joan to learn for that she can fit in.  I felt that author Isabel Cooper did a good job at portraying the differences in women's positions in the two time periods.  She didn't imply that one was right and the other wrong, just that they were different.

I was surprised to learn that this is a debut novel.  There was enough depth to Joan and Simon that I felt comfortable with them and that I could almost anticipate their interaction.  I liked Simon's few friends that were introduced and am happy to hear that Isabel is working on a follow-up No Honest Woman. Eleanor makes for an interesting young woman.  She develops a substantial backbone through her involvements with Joan.  I wonder if it was there before?  How much was influenced by her brother's actions.  Hope to learn more of her in the next book.

I enjoyed this book.  Very entertaining.  I had to keep reading to find out how the romance could proceed in light of their serious quest and the societal restrictions. 

Thank-you to Sourcebooks for my review copy.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Hooks and Sticks

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post.  Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

I did it, I finally started on my newest scarf.  It's the one that Grandma Coco has designed: Papa Bear Sampler Scarf.  She has posted step four just this morning.  It's not too late to join in the the fun. 

I have finished the first week and have changed colours for week two.  I did make a wee mistake when casting on.  I had one stitch too many.  Instead of ripping them off and starting again, I waited till I was in row one of the pattern and knit together the last two stiches before the edging.  No one will ever know.  I also added an extra four rows with the new colour.

Cheryl recommended using 5mm needles.  I chose to use 4.5mm. I bought these cool Harmony wood needles from Knit Pick way back in December but haven't had a chance to use them.  I couldn't wait any longer.  Love the purple wire.  There is a streak in the needle that is the same colour as my darker yarn and I did find that a bit confusing, thinking that I had a snag.

Two weeks ago, Rikki featured a cool little basket that she crocheted. 

I loved it and had to make one.  I had a ball of unlabelled cotton sitting upstairs, so I grabbed a hook and set to it.  I had the little one done that evening and made the larger one the next day.  I gave them to daughter to coral some of her scattered nail polish and such.  Thanks Rikki.

What have you been up to this week?  Did you also make some of these little baskets, I'd love to see pictures.

My friend Linda, at living, quilting and stuff, has started a new shawl and is using a rich colour of purple.  Am looking forward to how the striping will appear.  I met Linda several years ago at a quilting retreat and have stayed in touch, though I don't get to visit with her near often enough.

Sherrie at Just Books has started a new pineapple doily.  Lovely colour, maize, perfect for autumn.

Rikki at Rikki's Teleidoscope has included instructions for how to crochet with wire.

Over at Lit and Laundry, Beth shares a few of the projects that she has been working away at. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Word on the Street 2011 - Kitchener

Yesterday daughter and I went to Victoria Park in downtown Kitchener, Ontario for The Word on the Street.  This was much larger than last year and I much preferred the set up.  This year, the booths were arranged in a large square with all the booths on the inside and we walked around the outside edge, rather than a main street arrangment as last year.  We didn't stop for any readings as the authors we were interested in, we had heard last week at the Eden Mills Writer's Festival.  Several of the booths features some of the same authors and publishers that I spoke with last week along Publisher's Way at the same Festival.

We did do very well with our book buying.  In total we spent $20.00 for the following:

Used books from The Literacy Group of Waterloo Region.  I bought these books with my father in mind.

All four by James Axler, from his Death Hands series.

Neutron Solstice
Pony Soldiers
Dectra Chain

Next we stopped at the booth set up by Chapters. My books as were marked down to $1.00.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez
The Amalgamation Polka by Stephen Wright
Clear: A Transparent Novel by Nicola Barker (had to buy this as the cover image insisted)
Very Valentine: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani (several bloggers that I follow rave about Adriana's books, and I had intended to read something by her)

These are daughter's selections from Chapters.  Four cost $1.00 and Vlad cost $5.99 .

Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys
Victorine by Maude Hutchins
Demon Chick by Marilyn Kaye
Indigara by Tanith Lee
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Kitchener Public Library was selling books that had been removed from circulation.  For myself:
Dancing Feathers by Christel Kleitsch & Paul Stephens
The Generals by Simon Scarrow (for my father)
The Machine's Child by Kage Baker

These are daughter's selections from the library:

Above Ground : A Jack Taggart Mystery by Don Easton
A different Kind of Heat by Antonio Pagliarulo
Chosen by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn

Did you visit one of the venues for The Word on the Street ?  Which one, what did you think, which authors did you hear read?
Please leave a comment or a link to your post.

Report from Vancouver location:

Author Pam Withers post these comments at Tundra's blog, Talking with Tundra.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Eden Mills Writer's Festival 2011 - A Stroll Down Publisher's Way

There aren't many times when I get to talk with dozens of authors in the course of a few hours.  Publisher's Way at the Eden Mills Writer's Festival is one of them.  In between author readings, I headed here and talked with the widest assortment of authors and independent publishers.  I wish I had a massive book budget as I could have filled several bags with future reads. 

The following are all the booths I stopped at, there were more, but time was limited so I did have to skip a few.  If I missed your favourite, please add details in the comments including a link to their site.  These are posted in the order that I visited with them.

David Beasley

Mr. Beasley is the author of over thirty fiction and non-fiction works.  He has also collected the works of Major John Richardson 1796-1852, and republished many of them. 

He has a very informative section about self-publishing that I found fascinating, much of the information being new to me.

 Jessica Ingold

While a student at the University of Guelph, in the Media Studies Program, Jessica has somehow managed to write and publish three works of fiction.  I guess it shouldn't be surprising, as she says that she has been writing stories from the time she learned her first letters.

Poetry London

 This group was founded in 2004 to draw attention to the poets of the London area.  They also feature guest poets from other locations.  Prior to each reading, which is held at the Landon Branch Library, the is a one hour poetry workshop led by Fanshawe College Professor Michelle Doege.

 Josh Martin

Josh is a writer and public speaker.  He says that his writing "tends to revolve around the topics of making the most out of life, work-life balance and simple living."  He has two non-fiction works available at this time.

Donna McCaw

Donna has written a book that provides all sorts of information on planning for your retirement, including: finances, health, timing, relationships and how to adjust to yourself as a retiree.


Mr. Meshake is an artist and write.  He currently has three children's book and it working on more.  He is also available for classroom readings and workshops.  Pictured is his wife Joan Meshake.

Demeter Press

 Demeter Press is the publishing arm of the Motherhood Initiative for Research & Community Involvement.  I had an interesting, though unfortunately brief, discussion about mothers and blogging.  title: Mothering and Blogging: the Radical Act of the Mommy Blog.   They offer numerous other publications as well as The Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.

 The Book Band

Established in 2003, The Book Band represents a number of small presses and strives to promote the works of their authors.

 Canadians in Support of Afghan Women

"Canadians in Support of Afghan Women or C.S.A.W. is a volunteer Canadian solidarity group of women committed to making women's rights and protection under the law a priority in Afghanistan. To this end, CSAW raises awareness in Canada regarding gender discrimination in Afghanistan by supporting the empowerment of Afghan women and children through their education, employment and skill development."  They had a wide variety of items for sale to support their fund raising efforts.

 Frances Tyrrell

Frances is an incredible artist whose work has appears in publications such as Sears Canada catalogue, Carlton Cards Canada and many others.  She has also illustrated a number of children's books.  I could spend hours lost gazing into her illustrations.  That is Frances at the left side of the photo.

Jeremy had the coolest t-shirt designs.  He will custom design and print from one to a huge number of shirts and ship internationally.  He also represents Jenny Panda.  Jeremy is at the right side of the photo.

Jenny is an artist and writer.  She is the author of several children's books and one of poetry.

 Erin Dunham

In January, Erin released her debut novel, The Art of Dying.    She is currently working on her next book, tentatively titled, The Year of the Dog.

Be sure to click through to her site and read her biography.  It is the best one that I have read in ages.  Eric is seated at the right side of the photo.

I had so much fun visiting with Sherry, Peta-Gaye, and Saskia (seated left to right).   All three are published  by In Our Words.

Sherry has recently published storyteller, a book of short stories.  In 2009, she won the Alice Munro Short Story Award.

She is the author of a book of short stories titled: I too Can Hear the Drums.  Peta-Gaye is currently working on her first full length novel.

Saskia is the author of two books of poetry:  her first,  life unmasked, and her newest, Swimming to the Surface.  She is Chair of the Oakville Chapter of the Canadian Federation of Poets.


Biblioasis is a literary press, publishing poetry, fiction and non-fiction works in beautifully crafted editions.

The New Quarterly

"The New Quarterly is a magazine of Canadian fiction, poetry, and conversation, primarily about the writer’s craft. Our mandate is to nurture emerging writers by publishing and promoting their work alongside that of well-established writers we admire, and to provide an editorial context in which both can be read. We try to balance serious consideration of matters literary with playfulness and invention. The tone is generally celebratory."

Wye Write

Wye Write is a group of eight women, of differing ages and varied backgrounds, though they all live near the Wye River in Simcoe County..  They get together to write and critique each others works.   They have published two collections of short stories. 
Manhattans Music Club:
Mash Mondays

The first Monday of each month, you are invited to an evening of interviews and performances.  The interviewees come from all sorts of fields, broadcasting, writing, academia, research etc., though they will also entertain you with their musical skills.

Author Krista Breen has loved horses for as long as she can remember.  When taking a break from writing she can be found teaching in the arena at the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre . 

Publishing one Dakotaroo story a year, the Appaloosa is now on his sixth adventure since 2004 and has more yet to come.  Krista told me that she uses a technique called 'torn construction artwork' to create the cover images.

I hope you have enjoyed my stroll and visits with all these wonderful people.  If you decide to visit their sites, please leave them a comment.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Eden Mills Writer's Festival: Parade of Authors

Sunday was a wonderful day for the 23rd Eden Mills Writer's Festival.  Daughter and I were quite excited to be attending.  Me, because I  was looking forward personally meeting authors at the signing table, and daughter, she was going to be introducing author Richard Scrimger.   

 James Bartleman

I'm sure I knew that James Bartleman had been Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, what I didn't know was that he is an author.  His first novel, though not his first book, As Long as the Rivers Flow, was published this year.  The wording of the title is taken from the treaties that were signed many years ago with the Native Peoples.  IE: The land would be given to them for as long as the rivers flow. 

This book deals with the devastating and lingering impacts of the abuses of the Residential Schools. In this book, he says that he is trying to personalize what is going on at the Northern reserves, the epidemic of suicides.

Jill Murray

 What's a writer to do when she'll be attending a big festival and hasn't the slightest idea what to wear?  She asks her Twitter followers.  Well, that explains why Jill is sporting a very cool Batman outfit.  Like Batman, her main character from Rhythm and Blues, Alya, is trying to find her true identity.  Jill says that sometimes you have to try on several before you find the right one.

Jill then read a selection from her book.  Alya has just heard that she has an audition and she is agrees to attend.  Moments later she is wondering what she has gotten herself into.  This self talk leads to a fantastic description of what he parents are like.  She didn't want to tell her parents about the audition and has sworn her brother to secrecy, so I am expecting horrid overbearing parents, but I find that I have been totally misled.
 I thought it was cool that Jill read from her ipad instead of from a copy of her book.
Today was the first time that the Festival had hosted a cartoonist.  This makes it a challenge to do a traditional reading.  First Scott set the scene for us, the writing scene that is.  He told us that a comic book starts with a written script.  Since it is very time consuming to draw the images, you don't want to do any more of those than you have to.  Instead, he writes a panel by panel script with details of setting, people and props, and then the dialogue.  Only after this is agreed upon with an editor/publisher does Scott do his drawings.  Within about 3 panels of the reading, I didn't even notice that this was any different from the usual type of reading.  Great success.

Two Generals is based on his grandfather's second world war diary.  Scott also brought one of his prize possessions, his grandfather's helmet from the war. 
Interesting fact brought to our attention by the young  person who introduced her: Natale studied Landscape Architecture a the University of Guelph.  She also has a long standing interest in magic and was described as " A magician with words."

Not only a magician with words but with pen and ink, as in drawing.  Ever since reading Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, she has wanted to include her own drawings in a book.

Natale read to us from her book Gravity Brings Me Down.  She choose a selection where her female lead character, Sioux Smith, has to go in to the boys bathroom to remove from graffiti.  Things don't go as planned.  The scene then dissolves into hilarity when a plain pair of enormous white briefs enter.  Nope, can't clarify that statement, you have to read the book to find out how they fit in.

I have been waiting all year to hear Rene.  Last year at the Festival I spoke with his wife Joan for quite a while, but didn't get a chance to hear him read.

This year he read from his newest book The Copper Axe.  Rene is a survivor of the residential school system.  During his years at school his culture, language and family were denied him.  Like many, he had no idea that the Anishinaabe has a history of copper use, though he did wonder why his grandmother always told him stories of a metal axe.

Rene continues to encourage his cousins in the north to stay in school and to follow on their oral traditions of story telling and to use the skills that they have learned in the social medias to write books.  He has combined his paintings and Photo Shop to colourfully illustrate the story of The Copper Axe.

Adwoa Badoe

I hate to admit it, but I was still talking with Rene while Adwoa started reading.  Daughter was there talking pictures and insisted that I include her here. 

Adwoa read from her latest book, Between Sisters, which is set in her home country of Ghana.  Daughter says this would be an awesome book to read.

When I attend an author reading, the one thing I expect most, is to hear the author read and preferably from his or her latest book.  Tish took the podium and did exactly that; she opened her copy of Switch and read.

After hearing the opening pages, I now want to read more about Andrea Birch and find out about her thirty seven foster siblings.

My daughter had the privilege of introducing Richard.  She took her task seriously, even writing to him and asking a variety of questions to get material.  She sure did learn more about him that you would usually learn about an author.  In case you are wondering, sour cream and bacon potato chips, and the licorice should be black.
Prior to reading from his latest book, Me & Death, Richard had a few comments for the audience.  How to make a book attractive to a young reader: you have to find an interesting character and get him/her in trouble as soon as possible.  In this case, he made his character, Jim, a schmuck, not a nice guy.  He also offered advice to budding authors: that book you've been working on and editing for the past 8 years, put it away and let it rest, time to grown and get on with your next book.  Use that first book as a learning experience.

It didn't take long for Richard to have the audience rolling with laughter.  Not only is the book interesting, but he is such a high energy person that you couldn't help but get excited as well.

When asked how he got his hair into such a cool style, he said "Neglect."

Next week is Banned Book Week.  If you are looking for a great book to read and to kick the week off, the pick up Me & Death, it has been banned from some Catholic School Boards in Alberta, Canada due to the inclusion of a talking penis in one line of the story.

My daughter and Richard after he has signed her book.  Notice that daughter is wearing the same colours as those featured on the cover of the book.

Mr. Kay was the last author reading that I attended at the Festival.  I haven't read any of his works, but I did borrow one from my sister's shelf and he graciously signed it for her.  Won't she be surprised.

In his introduction, he told us he had been described as "writes history with a quarter turn to the fantastic."  This has made me curious.  I will definitely have to peak into one of his books and find out why my sister raves about his work.

He read from his latest book, Under Heaven.

Thanks for joining me for my visit to the Eden Mills Writer's Festival.  On Saturday I plan to write about 'Publishers Way', an assortment of the authors and publishers who set up shop for the day along the main street of Eden Mills.