The Memory Painter – Gwendolyn Womack













The Memory Painter: A Novel by [Womack, Gwendolyn]

A mind-bending drug, a series of time-travel dreams — or are they reincarnations? — take the reader on a dazzling trip around the world into history.

Reading these segments that gift Bryan with unusual skills and the ability to speak obscure languages is, for the reader, akin to “living” history.

When Bryan meets Linz, he senses that they have loved in the past. Encountering her brings on more dreams. He is determined to convince her of their connection. Initially skeptical and even afraid of Brian, she takes the drug, and together they find the truth.

The Memory Painter is a well-written intriguing story, which I enjoyed for the most part. Unfortunately, the connection between Bryan and Linz didn’t gel for me the way I thought it should for lovers who had transcended time and distance the was they did. Nor did I find it to be the “taut thriller” as described in the blurb.

Beyond that, the book provides the reader with food for thought. Are we reincarnated? Are good and evil passed on through generations? Questions for which there are no easy answers.



Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life and Winter’s Tale

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills . . . like the ability to speak obscure languages, or an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections—if he is re-experiencing other people’s lives.

Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding genes that help the brain make memories—until she is confronted with an uncanny rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan’s shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago.

As Bryan becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the scientists’ deaths, his dreams begin to reveal what happened at the lab, as well as a deeper mystery that may lead all the way back to ancient Egypt. As Bryan and Linz follow the trail, they slip through a kaleidoscope of lives—from imperial Russia, to feudal Japan, to Newfoundland and aboriginal Australia. A pattern emerges: a great love, a great enemy, and the prospect of a powerful, ancient truth buried deep in the past. But the deadly foe is watching their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.








Free Trip to Egypt – the movie

Image result for free trip to egypt ottawa


See Official Trailer here.

Muslim, born in Halifax, raised in Ottawa, Tarek Mounib, dons a Make American Great Again cap, attends a Trump rally and asks:  Would anyone like to take a free vacation to Egypt and see what life is like in an Islamic country?

Eventually seven Americans  accepted his offer. An Arizona single mom, a Kentucky beauty queen and born-again Christian, an African-American police officer, a soldier and one of his friends, and a retired school teacher (and her husband) who said she was a former liberal scarred by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I’m so racist now, I can’t stand myself,” Ellen Decker says when she introduces herself during the film.

Mounib paid for the Americans to spend 10 days in Egypt in the company of local hosts. A film crew captured 250 hours of footage skillfully edited to create a film of not quite 100 minutes.

What began as a interesting documentary, morphed into a profound study of human nature and the similarities we share no matter where we live in the world.

I thought the film would be interesting. It was much more than that. In fact, audience members left the theater in tears (well, the women, that is). And we all stood in the theater lobby discussing the film before we reluctantly departed.

From the Ottawa Citizen: The film’s early focus on Mounib disappears as the Americans and Egyptians engage. There are a few tense moments, but more moments of bonding that seem both ordinary and remarkable. A heartstring-tugging episode or two movingly demonstrate that a common humanity greater than any cultural divide can provide much-needed consolation.

Jasper, Alberta, Canada – Part 2 – Introducing our granddaughter to the Rocky Mountains

As children, my husband and I were fortunate to spend many holidays with our parents in Jasper. We made sure to take our children to the mountains often over the years.

This trip was the first for our granddaughter. She loved it there as much as we did. And we loved sharing our experiences with her.

We stayed at Miette Hot Springs,


Hiked to the source,

Enjoyed a dip in the hot pool and built a fire to roast marshmallows.

In the town of Jasper, we spent a couple of hours scouring the gift shops (the munchkin had money burning a hole in her purse).

Bear Hugs from Jasper

and another couple of hours at Athabasca falls watching the rapids and falls and then crawling through the canyon at the bottom.

See Here


The munchkin and her mother rode the Jasper Sky Tram too.


And grandma couldn’t resist buying her a second bear. After all a girl can never have enough stuffies.

Finally, we stopped to view the town of Jasper from the bottom of the Sky Tram.

No matter how many times we’ve been, we never get tired of Jasper.





Jasper, Alberta, Canada — Part 1 – the safari

Within an hour of arriving in Jasper we saw a bear,

and mountain goats,

The next day we saw mountain sheep,

And elk,

not to mention the numerous squirrels and marmots that moved too fast for my camera,

And — ta da! — a grizzly! 

Unsurprisingly, bear-proof garbage cans and recycle bins were everywhere.

More of Jasper and Miette next week.

A Funeral for an Owl – Jane Davis

Question: What is Jane Davis?

J D Favourite

Answer: A writer who weaves intricate plots with compelling, fully developed characters. I have now read five of her books. Each time I think, “Wow, this is the best yet.” Then I read another and think, “Wow, this is the best yet.”

Question: What makes her books so riveting?

Answer: Simply put, Jane is gifted. Not a single word is out of place whether she’s describing the setting, reaching into the characters’ soul, engaging her characters in dialogue…. The reader is never tempted to scan or skip portions. In fact, one is more likely to go back and re-read bits, whole chapters, or the whole book.

Question: What does Jane write about?

Answer: People. Ordinary people. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. A wall falls on a young girl leaving her horribly disfigured. A teacher is stabbed in a school yard fight. Several people are killed in a terrible tube accident in London. Jane then takes these characters, their families, friends, neighbours, and strangers and us along for the ride as the story plays out. And what a ride it is.

My two favorites so far–although, it’s impossible not to love them all–are

A Funeral for an Owl and Smash all the Windows. 

Smash all the WindowsA Funeral for an Owl

Jane Davis: Author




Jasper, Alberta, Canada — Part 3 – Look what I found.

Me: We’re taking the munchkin to Jasper for a few days.

My ultra ursaphobic friend: Watch out for the bears.

Me: Hey, girl, I know you’re terrified of them, but don’t worry. We have bear bells.

My ultra ursaphobic friend: Bells! Ha! They’re just an invitation to dinner.


Tell me this isn’t the perfect shirt for her!!!


Discovering Jesse Stone

We have just discovered—and  fallen in love with—the Jesse Stone movies.

Do not ask where we’ve been all this time. But, thank you for asking why we like them so much.

Image result for images of tom selleck

Big city (LA) cop (who drinks too much) is now police chief in small town Massachusetts. The wonderful, laconic Tom Selleck (we’ve been fans for years) stars as Jesse Stone.  At first glance, nothing much happens. Just like the British shows we enjoy, we are not subjected to car chases, or scenes splattered with blood and gore even though there are some killings, or young over-confident know-it-all police officers…. Uneventful as the movies seem, we can’t stop watching because we simply must  know how it will all turn out. Plus, it’s a delight to see the subtle changes in Jesse’s character as the personalities, caring nature, and moral values of those he works with influence him and vice-versa, for his colleagues learn much from the seasoned cop.

In short, watching the movies is like reading a book. The slow pace allows time to savor the character development, the story, and the brilliant script writing.

Did I mention reading? The movie series is based on the Jesse Stone books written by Robert B. Parker. Normally, I would read the books and skip the movies, but with sincere apologies to Mr. Parker, this time I will watch the movies and skip the books. Besides, Mr. Selleck is always so easy on the eyes.

Night Passage (Jesse Stone Novels Book 1) by [Parker, Robert B.]

Educated – Tara Westover

Educated by [Westover, Tara]


Mental disorder (bipolar?) + Religious fanaticism + isolation + lack of education = a life well beyond dysfunctional.

Tara Westover’s life story in her book “Educated” proves to be a harrowing read. How the emotional and physical abuse affects Tara, her siblings and her mother is often beyond belief, yet as we read we come to realize that the most insidious abuse of all is the hold her father has over everyone. Tara, despite her brilliance and academic achievements, is continually drawn back seeking support and acknowledgement of the abuse from her parents, and most importantly love and acceptance from her father.

“Educated” is a difficult read, yet a book you just can’t put down.

Note: The blurb does not do the book justice. There is so much more to this story than “going to school.”


Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school.

Westover’s mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn’t have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school—ever—and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought.

These Fragile Things – Jane Davis


These Fragile Things: A Novel by [Davis, Jane]


I’ve been a Jane Davis fan ever since I read “Smash all the Windows” and I intend to read all of her books. So far each lives up to the high standard I came to expect after reading just one of her books.

Davis has a brilliant talent for placing her characters in unusual circumstances that show us the vast array of human emotion and reactions to life and the intricacies of friendship and love.

I will not rest until I have read all of her work. PS She has a wonderful way with words and a laugh out loud sense of humor in her FB posts.


As a London suburb reels from riots in neighbouring Brixton, Graham Jones finds fatherhood a frightening place. How can he protect his family from the onslaught of change? But the future holds more fear than he can possibly imagine. One afternoon, a wall collapses, burying his thirteen-year-old daughter Judy underneath it. Rescuers who recover her shattered body from the rubble are amazed. “She’s alive,” her shaking mother Elaine is told. “And we’ll do everything we can to keep her that way.” With Judy’s life hanging in the balance, Graham’s anxieties seem trivial. The unimaginable has happened. Who can he turn to? While his wife puts her trust in medics, Graham’s answer is prayer.

When Judy not only pulls through, but defies all medical predictions, the press publish headlines about ‘The Miracle Girl’. Elaine knows this is a tough label for any teenager to live up to, let alone one who’s batting physical and psychological scars. She has always understood that love is all we can cling to in this whirling confusion of a world. Now, under siege from the press, pushed to breaking point by an onslaught of miracle seekers, she seeks solace in the arms of strangers.

Meanwhile, refusing to be drawn into her parents’ emotional tug-of-war, Judy treads her own path. But we all of us live on a knife edge. And things are about to get far, far worse.

With the trademark elegance and profound thoughtfulness one expects from this award-winning author, this emotionally-charged novel will make you reflect on belief, faith and the enduring power of love.

6 Degrees of Separation – connecting books

Inspired by Davida Chazan’s post, I decided to give this a try. See her chain here The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog

Davida writes, “This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.” See the graphic below.

FIRST DEGREE — I start my chain with a favorite, Mixed Marriage by Elizabeth Cadell (1963), a book I’ve read many times for the sheer pleasure of laughing out loud.

Written in diary format, sometimes with incomplete sentences (befitting a diary, of course), Cadell expertly profiles a young English bride-to-be and her family along with her Portuguese groom-to-be and his family. As the young couple grapple with wedding plans, we witness the ups and downs of dealing with family, in-laws, and cultural differences. The writing is wonderful, the depictions often hilarious, but most importantly, timeless.


Domingo's Angel by [Twist, Jenny]


SECOND DEGREE — The theme of mixed marriage takes me to Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist. A tall, thin, pale English girl wanders into a remote Spanish mountain village, meets a young villager and stays. This is not just their love story. It is the story of the personalities and dynamics of a small community and of the worsening conditions under Franco’s rule. It is the villagers’ resilience as they struggle to survive that touches your heart.





THIRD DEGREE — Village life takes me to Louis de Bernieres’ Birds Without Wings. Here again, we find a happy little village of Greeks and Turks, living and loving, arguing and laughing; many of them hedging their bets by offering both Christian and Muslim prayers. Outside influences disrupt their tranquil life as the ravages of war invade their village and young men sign up to fight in the trenches. We witness and share the agony of the battles those men fight and flare with anger at the injustice of it all. All the politicians and soldiers can just damn well go away and leave these people in peace. But, as always the power brokers impose their greed and warmongering and people do what they must to survive, grasping at whatever straws there may be.



FOURTH DEGREE — Doing what one must to survive brings me to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. This may not sound like a hardship and in many ways it isn’t as the Count is rich and adapts quite well to the rich lifestyle of the hotel. But, later when his money won’t fix all his problems he proves to be resilient and resourceful, as he watches the drama of upheaval in his beloved homeland, events he would have been participating in directly if not for his house arrest.



I Do Not Come to You by Chance by [Nwaubani, Adaobi Tricia]

FIFTH DEGREE — Ah, how the circumstances we are born into affect our lives. At least, that is the case for Kingsley as it is for the count, in the novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. Kingsley, the well-educated eldest son, bears the responsibility of training his younger siblings and providing financial support for his parents in their retirement.  Unable to find a job and in desperate need of money; he can’t marry his dear Ola without a bride price. With his diplomas little more than decorations on the walls of his parents humble home, Kingsley’s desire to protect his family draws him down a path he never could have anticipated.



News of the World: A Novel by [Jiles, Paulette]

SIXTH DEGREE — In the first five books I’ve chosen, the power of love is the driving force–young love in happy circumstances, young love in tragic circumstances, love of neighbors and friends and the sacrifices they make for each other, love of country, love for family and the fierce desire to protect–but what about the love of a stranger? The answer is found in News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I loved this book so much that I finished it, turned back to page one and read it again. An elderly widower, Captain Kidd enjoys his solitary wanderings roaming from town to town reading the news as a means to support himself. Then he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young recently-rescued captive of the Kiowa to her aunt and uncle. Surviving a 400 mile journey, the two arrive only to find that her aunt and uncle don’t want her. Will the Captain abandon her or…?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I’d love to see any #6 Degrees lists you might have.

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