Tuesday, 14 June 2022

If These Walls Could Talk: Toronto Blue Jays: Stories from the Toronto Blue Jays Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box by Bob Elliott

I just finished reading If These Walls Could Talk: Toronto Blue Jays: Stories from the Toronto Blue Jays Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box by Canadian Sports writer Bob Elliot. 

Since their inception in 1977, the Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the most dynamic franchises in all of baseball. As an award-winning, longtime Jays columnist, Bob Elliott has witnessed more than his share of that history up close and personal. 

In "If These Walls Could Talk: Toronto Blue Jays", Elliott provides insight into the Jays' inner sanctum as only he can. Readers will gain the perspective of players, coaches, and front office executives in times of greatness as well as defeat, making for a keepsake no fan will want to miss.

This is not a history of the Toronto Blue jays from their inception in 1977. Instead, it's the story of the Blue Jays from their back to back World Series Victories to the near present. 

And it's not just a history. The book is mostly the behind the scene stories, how different deals were made. Humorous, never before told tales. It's a book that as a Blue Jay fan, I really enjoyed.

About Bob Elliot

Bob Elliott (born September 10, 1949) is a Canadian former sports columnist, who covered professional baseball in Canada. He began in 1978 as a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, covering the Montreal Expos, before leaving in late 1986 to cover the Toronto Blue Jays for the Toronto Sun. On June 1, 2016, Elliott announced his retirement.

He has written three books, including Hard Ball about George Bell, in 1990; The Ultimate Blue Jays Trivia Book, in 1993; and The Northern Game: Baseball The Canadian Way, in 2005. Elliott is also the mind behind the Canadian Baseball Network website, which tracks all active Canadian baseball players.

In 2012 became the first Canadian to be awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Reading from "Predators and Prey" at the Toronto International Festival of Authors: Crime and Mystery Festival

On Sunday, I was in the Crime Writers of Canada tent at the TIFA, Motive: Crime and Mystery Festival. I had a table for the day plus did a reading form my upcoming novel. Predators and Prey. (Bookland Press publisher). 

It was a fun and interesting day having the chance to talk with other authors and of course, readers. 

The video, which is 4 minutes and 47 seconds long, is too large to download to this website. Please go to You Tube to watch. You can also go to https://studio.youtube.com/video/CbN4q7PiF_Y/edit to view.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

I just finished reading. "Take Your Breath Away", by Linwood Barclay.

One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most everyone assumed Andy had got away with murder--it's always the husband, isn't it?--but the police could never build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom--he drank too much to numb the pain, was abandoned by all his friends save one, nearly lost his business, and became a pariah in the place he once called home. 

Now, six years later, Andy has finally put his life back together. He sold the house he once shared with Brie and moved away. Truth to tell, he wasn't sad to hear that the old place was razed and a new house built on the site. He's settled down with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good. But Andy's peaceful world is about to shatter. 

One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, "Where's my house? What's happened to my house?" And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman--who bears a striking resemblance to Brie--is gone. The police are notified and old questions--and dark suspicions--resurface. Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? 

It soon becomes clear that Andy's future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers.

If you are a fan of Linwood Barclay, like I am, you'll enjoy this one. I loved the mystery of the woman who appears and disappears, and how people, except for the police, begin to believe could be his lost or murdered wife. As with most Barclay stories, the plot meanders around in surprising ways. 

I quite enjoyed it.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

I just finished reading Mickey7 by American author Edward Ashton.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good

Mickey7 is an excellent, well thought out, fun story. Told in first person, Mickey7 is very descriptive about his life, what convinced him to volunteer for such a roll where he is purposely put in positions where he not only dies, but in his next form remembers vividly, each and every death, how it felt and the pain he endured.

I enjoy Sci-fi novels and certainly enjoyed this one

Friday, 13 May 2022

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I just finished reading Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Mexico in the 1970s is a dangerous country, even for Maite, a secretary who spends her life seeking the romance found in cheap comic books and ignoring the activists protesting around the city. When her next-door neighbor, the beautiful art student Leonora, disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents. 
Mexico in the 1970s is a politically fraught land, even for Elvis, a goon with a passion for rock ’n’ roll who knows more about kidney-smashing than intrigue. When Elvis is assigned to find Leonora, he begins a blood-soaked search for the woman—and his soul. 

Swirling in parallel trajectories, Maite and Elvis attempt to discover the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, encountering hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies. Because Mexico in the 1970s is a noir where life is cheap and the price of truth is high.

This was an entertaining read. I enjoyed how the story was told from the view of two different characters. Maite is a reluctant hero who finds herself in a situation way over her head. All she really wants is for her neighbour, Leonora to return and pay her what she is owed for looking after her cat. Who knew, that just by saying yes to cat sitting, her life would be in danger. 

One other thing I liked. All the way through the book, two of the characters would be putting on records or playing the jukebox. As the story is based in the 70s, I knew many of the songs, but some were covers done by Mexican artists. There were some Spanish rock bands. Many times as I was reading I thought it would be fun to play some of the songs. A nice surprise is at the end of the book, the songs and artists are listed. I will be having a listen.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy another of Moreno-Garcia's novels.

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels, including Gods of Jade and Shadow (Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, Ignyte Award), Mexican Gothic (Locus Award, British Fantasy Award, Pacific Northwest Book Award, Aurora Award, Goodreads Award), and Velvet Was the Night (finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize). 

She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows (World Fantasy Award winner, published in the USA as Cthulhu’s Daughters). Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press. Her fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. 

She has an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis can be read online and is titled “Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft.” She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Friday, 22 April 2022

The Maid by Nita Prose

I just finished reading The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life's complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. 

But Molly's orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what's happening, Molly's unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it's too late? 

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

I really enjoyed this story which has a very clever plot. Molly is a simple minded, trusting, really likeable character who is easy to sympathize with. Nita Prose does an excellent job of incorporating humour into the story of a murder which she finds herself involved with. I can see why it's currently on  Canada's top 10 best seller list!

About Nita Prose

 Nita Prose is a longtime editor, serving many bestselling authors and their books. She lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Orphans of the Czar at Crowsnest Theater

Today I journeyed to the east end of the city to see Orphans of the Czar, at Crowsnest Theater. It's the first play I've been to since October, 2019 when I saw A Streetcar Named Desire. Of course, the pandemic was the reason for my not seeing a play in two and a half years.

George F. Walker’s newest high-stakes comedy, ruefully exposes the duplicity, revenge, and self-interest at the core of a culture about to go up in flames. Suggested by the novel The Life of a Useless Man by Maxim Gorky and set shortly before Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, a hapless double agent tries to stay on the right side of both the revolutionaries and the czarists. 

The orphaned fool Vasley, leaves his impoverished village to work in his uncle’s bookstore in the city. He becomes engrossed by the women, the intelligentsia, the spies, and all their conflicting ideologies. A comedy of pathos about the fragility of people in unstable times.

I really enjoyed this production. It was funny, sad and in part, exciting. Eric Peterson played two roles in the production. Half brothers or maybe cousins, an ongoing joke in the play. Of course Peterson did a bang up job. All the roles were well acted with Christopher Allen, who played Yakov, being a standout.

Today was supposed to be the last day of the play but has been extended to April 24th. I definitely can see why.