Monday, 22 February 2021

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Today I finished a very enjoyable, fun book by Hench by Natalie Zina Walshots. 

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy? As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one. 

So, of course, then she gets laid off. With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks

Wow! What an imaginative story. While Hench could have been told as a graphic novel, it would have missed all the intensity and inner feelings of Anna.

The story is fast moving, deeper and more emotional than I thought it would be and one hell of a great ride. Hench is a contender in this years Canada Reads on CBC and will be represented by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee of Kim's Convenience fame. 

I think it should win.

Natalie Zina Walschots is a freelance writer, community manager and bailed academic based in Toronto. She writes everything from reviews of science fiction novels and interviews with heavy metal musicians to to in-depth feminist games criticism and pieces of long-form journalism. She is the author of two books of poetry. In her free time she has been exploring the poetic potential of the notes engine in the video game Bloodborne, writing a collection of polyamorous fairytales, developing interactive narrative classes and composing short text-based body horror games. She also plays a lot of D&D, participates in a lot of Nordic LARPs, watches a lot of horror movies and reads a lot of speculative fiction.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Saving Tiberius to Be Judged in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence

Today I was delighted to see my novel, Saving Tiberius, has been selected to be judged in the Best Crime New Novel, category in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence. The short list will be announced on April 22, 2021. 

My fingers are crossed!

Thursday, 4 February 2021

My Author Event at the Ontario Library Association's Super Conference

This afternoon, I was interviewed at an Author's event at a conference hosted by the Ontario Library Association about my novel, Saving Tiberius. In attendance were representatives from libraries and archives from across Canada. The event was virtual as everything is these days.

It went well.

Here is a photo of my "studio", a word which I'm using quite loosely. 

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

Today I finished reading Ridgerunner by Canadian author Gil Adamson.

November 1917. William Moreland is in mid-flight. After nearly twenty years, the notorious thief, known as the Ridgerunner, has returned. Moving through the Rocky Mountains and across the border to Montana, the solitary drifter, impoverished in means and aged beyond his years, is also a widower and a father. And he is determined to steal enough money to secure his son’s future. 

Twelve-year-old Jack Boulton has been left in the care of Sister Beatrice, a formidable nun who keeps him in cloistered seclusion in her grand old house. Though he knows his father is coming for him, the boy longs to return to his family’s cabin, deep in the woods. When Jack finally breaks free, he takes with him something the nun is determined to get back — at any cost. 

 Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Outlander, is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.

Adamson is a descriptive writer and is able to wonderful the background of a scene in the readers mind. Ridgerunner focuses on the lives of three people, William Moreland aka the Ridgerunner, his son Jack and the nun who agrees to take Jack in, Sister Beatrice. It's a wonderfully told story which I quite enjoyed.

Gil Adamson (born Gillian Adamson, 1961) is a Canadian writer. She won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2008 for her 2007 novel The Outlander. 

Adamson's first published work was "Primitive," a volume of poetry, in 1991. She followed up with the short story collection "Help Me, Jacques Cousteau" in 1995 and a second volume of poetry, "Ashland," in 2003, as well as multiple chapbooks and a commissioned fan biography of Gillian Anderson, "Mulder, It’s Me," which she coauthored with her sister-in-law Dawn Connolly in 1998. 

"The Outlander," a novel set in the Canadian West at the turn of the 20th century, was published by House of Anansi in the spring of 2007 and won the Hammett Prize that year. The novel was later selected for the 2009 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by actor Nicholas Campbell. 

Adamson currently lives in Toronto with poet Kevin Connolly.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Author Events at the Ontario Library Association's Super Conference

In February, the Ontario Library Association is putting on the province's largest book fair, Super Conference 2021. As with every event these days, the event will be a virtual one. My publisher, Bookland Press, will be in attendance with a virtual booth where I'll be putting on two author events.

The first will be from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm on February 4, 2021, where I'll be talking about my novel, Saving Tiberius.

Morgan Watson has a problem. When word leaked that his cat, Tiberius, miraculously cured itself of diabetes and may hold the key to a cure, he is attacked in his home and almost killed in a bloody fight. Paula Rogers, a strong-willed dedicated police officer, has put herself in the line of fire protecting them, and for the first time is stretching the rules and hiding facts from her superiors. The two fiercely independent people find their romantic feelings for each other grow as they search to find who is behind the brutal attempts to get Tiberius before they find themselves intertwined with the growing list of dead bodies.

The next day, February 5, again, from 1:00 pm until 2:00 pm, I'll be discussing my non-fiction, Defending the Inland Shores

Newfoundland played a significant role in the defence of Upper Canada during the War of 1812. "Defending the Inland Shores: Newfoundland in the War of 1812" tells this incredible story. The book describes many key battles, including the siege and capture of Fort Detroit, taking of an American naval schooner on Lake Ontario, a surprise attack against Ogdensburg, New York, and desperate defence of a British ship on the Niagara River during an American night assault.

I hope you will join me.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

The First Book I Remember Reading, Blacky the Crow

Sometime last year there was a post on Social Media asking who remembered the first book they ever read. The answer came to me instantly. Blacky the Crow by Thornton W. Burgess.(January 17, 1874 – June 5, 1965). I remembered how much I enjoyed it. That I read it many times. If fact, I credit it for igniting my joy of reading.

I replied to the post and started thinking more about the book. I was planning to write a short blog about it and was looking for a photo, not of a recent copy, but of the copy from the edition which I read, which was printed in 1922. Not only did I find it, but discovered it was for sale from Thrift Books, an online used book company. It wasn't expensive, around $20 CAD all in, so I bought it.

It arrived this week, so of course, I took a trip back in time and read it.

Children will love this wonderful tale of Blacky the Crow, who has very sharp eyes, and who is often getting into trouble because he sees things he shouldn't. One day Blacky notices two fresh eggs in a nest belonging to Hooty the Owl and Mrs. Hooty. The eggs are a prize too delicious to pass up and Blacky devises a plan to snatch them. But does he succeed? Young readers will enjoy finding out in this charming tale by master storyteller Thornton W. Burgess. Reset in large, easy-to-read type, this book is filled with gentle humor and important lessons about nature and wildlife, and is further enhanced by four original Harrison Cady illustrations. Blacky the Crow is sure to captivate youngsters discovering the joy of reading and the pleasures of storytelling at its finest.

It is an enjoyable story. Yes, I am 60 years plus after reading it for the first time, but still it's a simple well written story of a few of the adventures of Blacky the Crow and his friends of the Green Forest. Even though it was originally released in 1922, it is a wonderful tale for today's children to read or have read to them. The author stresses many of the morals which we hold dear today, but are inserted into the story in such a way, it's just part of the tale.

I'm glad I bought it and plan to give it to my grandson to read as, hopefully, his first book.

Thornton Waldo Burgess (born January 14, 1874 - died June 5, 1965), naturalist and conservationist, loved the beauty of nature and its living creatures so much that he wrote about them for 50 years. By the time he retired, he had written more than 170 books and 15,000 stories for daily columns in newspapers.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

I just finished another Linwood Barclay novel, Fear the Worst.

Tim is an average guy. He sells cars. He has an ex-wife. She’s moved in with a man whose moody son spends more time online than he should. His girlfriend is turning out to be a bit of a flake. It’s not a life without hassles, but nothing will prepare Tim for the nightmare that’s about to begin.

Sydney vanishes into thin air. At the hotel where she supposedly worked, no one has ever heard of her. Even her closest friends seem to be at a loss. Now, as the days pass without word, Tim must face the fact that not only is Sydney missing, but that the daughter he’s loved and thought he knew is a virtual stranger.

As he retraces Sydney’s steps, Tim discovers that the suburban Connecticut town he always thought of as idyllic is anything but. What he doesn’t know is that his every move is being watched. There are others who want to find Syd as much as Tim does

Like other Linwood Barclay books, Fear the Worst, has no boring parts in the entire story. I like how this book is told in first person, so the reader has inside into Tim's thoughts and fears. I mean, not only has his daughter disappeared, but the mystery behind it all. Nobody where she worked has every heard of her.

The books I enjoy most are stories of reluctant heroes. People thrown into situations they have no idea how to handle, but handle it, they must.

This is an early book of Linwood's released in 2007. I finished Elevator Pitch last year and see that he certainly, hasn't lost his touch.

I read this book as part of the 14th annual Canadian Book Challenge.