Thursday, 17 August 2023

Upcoming Predators and Prey Book Reading


On December 14, at 6:30pm, I'll be doing a reading from my anti-African hunting crime novel, Predators and Prey at the Stout Irish Pub, 221 Carlton St, Toronto. Two other members of the Crime Writers of Canada will also be doing readings from their crime novels. Come on by for a listen and a couple of pints ... or cocktails. 

Friday, 5 May 2023

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

I just finished reading, Really Good, Actually, the debut novel from Canadian author and comedian, Monica Heisey.

Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée. 

Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.

I was looking for a light, comedic read and this certainly fit the bill. An emotional, yet comedic look at a woman suffering through a breakup with her husband.

Saturday, 22 April 2023

The Power of Crystals?

For most, maybe all of my life I have experienced vivid, in colour, horrible, terrifying nightmares. Many times over the years, Teena has had to wake me up when I begin making strange sounds, yelling or screaming in the night. Now, this doesn't mean I'm scared to go to bed at night. Quite the contrary as I really love curling under out nice warm blankets, where I fall to sleep almost immediately. 

It's around 2 or 3 when the horror begins. Me falling. Me trapped on the narrowest of ledges. (I am terrified of heights) Me being chased by a killer. Me being cornered by a killer and about to die. Also many about experiencing nuclear explosions or the end of the world, although it's been a few years since I've experienced any of those.

So, this year when the Yoga Show came to Toronto I ventured down with the goal about learning about crystals and how they might help stop or limit these from me waking up terrified or in a cold sweat. I will say it seemed most of the vendors seemed more interested in selling large, mounted, pretty stones than departing any knowledge they had of them.

I found one booth, though, where the woman really knew everything about them and I could tell was a believer in their power. It was Resha, the owner of Zen Rox. Not only did she have the usual collection of large mounted crystals, she also had some trays of smaller ones which would fit in you hand. When I explained my issues she was quick to show me the two above. Black Tourmaline and Pyrite.

Black Tourmaline

The premier stone of protection, Black Tourmaline is a grounding, protecting and calming stone. It not only absorbs negative energy but deflects it away. You can use it to reduce the frequency of nightmares and ease anxiety.

It clears away energy blockages while reducing the absorption of electromagnetic radiation from electronics leaving you a feeling safe, protected and well rested.


Not only is Pyrite an eye catching showpiece, but a strong protector, energizer of it's surroundings and an exceptional defensive shield against negative energies 

Resha explained how she and her daughter keeps them by her bedside. They also take a minute before climbing into bed to one one in each hand for a minute and they both sleep well. So, that's what I now do. I sit on the side of the bed and take 9 long, deep breaths while holding a crystal in each hand. Why 9? Because 3 always seems in history to be a magic number, so I take 3 sets of 3 deep breaths. Then I set them on the nightstand beside the bed and go to sleep.

I always try to keep an open mind on things. There is so much we don't understand about so much. The universe is full of secrets and perhaps, some of them are understood by a few. Not scientifically proven? Is it all nonsense? 

I can only say that after a week of using them, I have not had one single dream I would even consider to be bad. For me, that's a record. Am I experiencing a placebo effect? Perhaps, but I don't care. It appears to be working and it's my hope these two stones will continue to allow me nights full of peaceful slumber.  


Friday, 14 April 2023

The Elk Whistle Warrior Society by Rick Revelle

I really enjoy books by Indigenous authors and Rick Revelle's new novel, The Elk Whistle Warrior Society is no exception.  

It was 650 years ago, on the shores of Sewitakan Zaaga´igan (see-wit-akan saw-ga-e-kan: Salt Lake) now known as Big Quill Lake in central Saskatchewan, east of Saskatoon, a group of young Anishinaabe and Cree teenagers made a life-changing decision. The two young women, who went by the names Wâpikwan (wah-pi-kwan: Flower) and Gidagizi Gidagaakoons (ged a gay zay Ged ah ga cones: Spotted Fawn), decided to start a warrior group led by females who would look after and defend the women and children of their bands with the aid of selected male warriors. That night on the shores of the Salt Lake they tattooed their bodies. The boys with two crossed feathers on their left calves, the girls with the same feathers on their right shoulders. The feathers signified the strength of the sexes held together and led by women. They named their group in the Ani-shi-na-abe language Omashkooz Gwiishkoshim Ogichidaa (o mush koos gwish ko shim o gich e dah) and in Cree they were called Wâwâskêsiw Kwêskosîwin Nôtinkêwiýiniw. In the gichi-mookomaan (white man''s) tongue they are known as the Elk Whistle Warrior Society. 

This is contemporary story with historic roots. It takes place in modern times.

Stepped in history, it's a story of revenge and justice set in today's world. It's exciting, brutal and definitely a page turner. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry

Every year as baseball season approaches, I pick a baseball book to read. This year it was Bottom of the 33rd, about the longest game in baseball history.

On April 18, 1981, a ball game sprang eternal. For eight hours, the night seemed to suspend a town and two teams between their collective pasts and futures, between their collective sorrows and joys—the shivering fans; their wives at home; the umpires; the batboys approaching manhood; the ejected manager, peering through a hole in the backstop; the sportswriters and broadcasters; and the players themselves—two destined for the Hall of Fame (Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs), the few to play only briefly or forgettably in the big leagues, and the many stuck in minor-league purgatory, duty bound and loyal forever to the game. 

With Bottom of the 33rd, Barry delivers a lyrical meditation on small-town lives, minor-league dreams, and the elements of time and community that conspired one fateful night to produce a baseball game seemingly without end. An unforgettable portrait of ambition and endurance, Bottom of the 33rd is the rare sports book that changes the way we perceive America’s pastime—and America’s past.

I remember hearing about this game the morning after it happened, so reading about it was fun. Some big names were in that game, too. Cal Ripken Jr, Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst, who all went on to be superstars. 

So how do you fill a book about a single ball game. With back stories of the players and others involved in the game. Surprising how interesting most of them were.

This is a must read for every baseball fan out there. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

I just finished reading At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows by Suzanne Craig-Whytock.

Enter a surreal landscape of the twisted and unusual. Wander through the echoing corridors of old manor houses, explore dead cities and hidden rooms, and dance with menacing marionettes. Lyrical, haunting, and occasionally humorous, At The End Of It All is a collection of twenty-seven stories that explore joy and sorrow, gratitude and grief, and hatred and desire. Open the cover, feast on the stories inside...and if you're lucky, Mr. Death just might show up for dessert.

It takes a skilled writer to craft a short story. Craig-Whytock is a craftsperson at this. Her stories, most being only 2-3 pages long with some a few pages longer, and a couple which fills just a single page. Yet every one of them is a complete story which captures the reader.  

Her stories run the full range of emotions, thoughtful, scary, unnerving, gothic, psychological, and a few which I chuckled at. Mysophobia, Revenge of the Juggernaut, and The High Seas were a few of my personal favourites, while I found Nomads of the Modern Wasteland Part Three to be the perfect story to end the 27 story collection.

For nights of unsettled reading, I highly recommend this..


Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Flint & Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake by Charlotte Gray

I think I was in grade 4 or 5 when our teacher told us about the famed Canadian poet, Pauline Johnson. Her story intrigued me. A Mohawk poet who, not only travelled across Canada, but also traveled to England a few times performing. When I saw Charlotte Gray's newest history work, Flint and Feather, it reignited my interest in her and, of course, had to read it. 

A graceful biography that was a #1 national bestseller, Flint & Feather confirms Charlotte Gray’s position as a master biographer, a writer with a rare gift for transforming a historical character into a living, breathing woman who immediately captures our imagination.

In Flint & Feather, Charlotte Gray explores the life of this nineteenth-century daughter of a Mohawk chief and English gentlewoman, creating a fascinating portrait of a young woman equally at home on the stage in her “Indian” costume and in the salons of the rich and powerful. Uncovering Pauline Johnson’s complex and dramatic personality, Flint & Feather is studded with triumph and tragedy, mystery and romance—a first-rate biography blending turn-of-the-century Canadian history and the vibrant story of a woman whose unforgettable voice still echoes through the years.

Pauline Johnson was not just a renowned poet, but was also well know for her eclectic performances. As she was of mixed heritage, Mohawk and English, she create an act which would highlight both sides of her roots. In one act she would dress in her authentic aboriginal garb and recite her poems about canoeing and aboriginal stories she heard or grew up on. 

In the second act, she would dress as an English debutant with poems regarding the upper English lifestyle she had experienced. It was the two different styles, all in one performance which kept people filling the seats of theater everywhere.

Gray does and excellent job in telling the story of her life. Her successes and pitfalls. Her constant state of being poor and in debt, even though she was constantly performing. The reader can see the extensive research which went into Gray's work. It's a tale worth reading.