Monday, 16 January 2017

Book Review - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I enjoy reading Science Fiction especially cleverly done Sci-fi, so when I read the premise to Sleeping Giants, knew it was my kind of book.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. 

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected. But some can never stop searching for answers. 

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

The story is told in a series of interviews by one unnamed person with the different people involved in the story, personal logs and mission logs. It is a hard way to tell a story but Neuvel does it so well. The personalities of all the characters, including the interviewer come through and the story is gripping.

It's a very clever story told in a very clever way. I can't wait to read the sequel Waking Gods.

About Sylvain Neuvel:

Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and peddled furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He taught linguistics in India, and worked as a software engineer in Montreal. He is also a certified translator, though he wishes he were an astronaut. He likes to tinker, dabbles in robotics and is somewhat obsessed with Halloween. He absolutely loves toys; his girlfriend would have him believe that he has too many, so he writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course).

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The 2017 Toronto Rock Home Opener


Tonight was the home opener for the Toronto Rock and of course, Teena, and I were there. We bought season tickets again, for the fourth time. We have been going for five years but the first year we were trying out seats in different sections.

10,275 fans joined us at the ACC to cheer on the Rock who were taking on the Saskatchewan Rush who won last year's championship. We figured we might be in for a tough night.


I made a new friend on the way into the game.


Teena and I were happy to see that Scotty Newlands was back again to sing the national anthem. He always does a fabulous job.


Team huddle before the game.


Ten seconds after this opening face-off, Toronto put in its first goal of the game, much to their fans delight.


Some action shots.


The Toronto Rock Cheerleaders put on a performance.


The Rock finished the first quarter with a 5-0 lead. A shutout in quarter in lacrosse is very rare. At the half, it was 8-2 and we all were having a great time.


A contest on who was the best announcers. You can see that the red wig guys are back!


In the third quarter, Toronto started to come apart. Saskatchewan put in six goals and at the end of the quarter, Toronto's lead had shrunk to 11-8


Toronto's lead slipped more in the fourth quarter when the Rush put in two goals to bring Toronto's lead to just one goal, 11-10.

The cheerleaders came on to rev up the team and the crowd.


Iggy worked the crowd too.


We didn't win the 50/50 draw but the Rock did what they needed to do to win the game.


The Rock scored two more goals just a minute apart to win 13-11 and bring their 2017 record to 2-0


Last year was bad with the Rock going 5-13 but this year looks so much better with a younger, faster team. I am really looking forward to this season. It's going to be a good one.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Defending the Inland Shores Now at Indigo Eaton Centre


Today I was on the Indigo website checking to see if my book, Defending the Inland Shores: Newfoundland in the War of 1812, was available in stores. It is at Indigo Eaton Centre! Look at the shelf third row up from the bottom.


Here it is! Indigo now is not only selling the book online but also in better brick and mortar book stores.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Snowshoeing at Highlands Nordic


After having a great time last week snowshoeing with Trakkers Cross Country Ski ClubTeena and I both joined the club. It is well-run and it's so nice to ride in a comfortable highway coach bus to and from the resort. The roads today were quite bad and we saw the result of a few accidents on the road. Both of us felt better riding the bus rather than driving.

Highlands Nordic is located just below Collingwood. The weather was quite cold when we arrived but we were prepared and layered up.


Leaving the lodge.


At the start of the trail.


On the trail. We covered 4.5 km during the day. It was a hard 4.5 km!


Although there is no snow int Toronto, there was plenty here.


It was a fun and exhausting trek. It had snowed and the trails either were not packed down very well or not at all. Makes for heavy going but much more fun!


Ducking under a fallen tree.


More trail shots.


Happy and cold.


Larry's Glacier was steep and very challenging.


The snow is half way up the fences.



It was a funexhilarating day. At the start, we warmed up pretty quick and started to take off some of our layers but as we reached the peak, it was quite cold and windy, so the layers were put back on.

We're looking forward to our next outing with the club.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Snowshoeing at Hardwood Hills


Our friend, Trish, goes skiing with a group called Trakkers Cross Country Ski Club. Trakkers is a volunteer, non-profit, recreational ski club dedicated to the support and enjoyment of cross-country skiing and has been providing Sunday ski trips in luxury highway coaches to Southern Ontario ski resorts for over 30 years.

Trakkers welcomes members of all ages and all skill levels, from novice to the expert. Trakkers is the club for you if you want to learn to ski or improve your skills.

They also go to places that have snowshoeing trails and today made a trip to Hardwood Hills, which has four dedicated snowshoe trails, so Trish invited Teena and I along.

Here is a group of cross country skiers outside the chalet getting ready to go.


Cross country trail maps. Snowshoe trails are intertwined with them.


The start for all trails.


Teena on the trail.


I love snowshoeing. The views are always so beautiful. We had a great blue sky for most of the day.


Cross country ski trail signs at a major junction.


OK, this part was a challenge. Loose snow, step climb.


I made it but not before taking a great tumble. I held onto the tree beside me and helped Teena up over the large mound.


We thought we would do a short trail, grab a bite then head out for a long one. Instead we ended up doing a 6 km trail that passes by a lookout. The view was stunning. My camera does not do it justice.


Here we are at the lookout after an hour and a half of trudging through the snow. We haven't been out for a couple of years and forgot how exhausting it could be ... still, we look good but then again, this was taken after a bit of a rest!


A couple of trail shots.


There is no snow in Toronto but plenty north of Barrie.


 Here I am.

Teena taking the lead.


Here are Trish, Teena and I at the end of the day.


It was a great day and very reasonably priced. It's our first trip with Trakkers.  Thanks again, Trish, for inviting us. Looks like Trakkers will be getting a couple of new members.