Honesty in advertising – what a concept. Be sure to read the fine print.



The Flood — Part 2

The flood waters have receded, the streets are more or less dry and we are–dare I say it?– almost finished the cleanup.

BUT take a look at this.



Yep, that’s the drainage canal. Just how much water can it hold? Enough to prevent another flood during the next one or two or ten storms predicted for the area in the coming weeks?

NO, there are no signs of backhoes or excavators coming to the rescue.

So we wait with fingers crossed for the end of hurricane season.



It rains and now it’s personal.

No photo description available.


It rains. Within an hour a river is running through your house.

We’ve seen it on the news hundreds of times. The destruction. The devastation. The panic. Terrible, yes, but so far away.

This time, though, is different. This time it’s your family fleeing the water. Now, you truly understand the horror that people face. Overwhelmed with the task of cleaning, as you survey your property in the aftermath and search for valued possessions — the mementos that hold so many memories.  Where do you begin? And when you have restored your home, will you ever feel safe again?


Some books are more special than others



I love the ebook revolution. I love my ereader. I love that my books are available in ereader formats as well as print. I love being able to carry a library with me.

So many pluses for the book lover. See a book that sounds interesting. Download a sample. Enjoy the sample. Check out a few reviews. Reviews are encouraging. Buy with one click.

Do all of this from anywhere in the world.

Unlike other readers, I’m not tied to print books. I don’t think there is any loss of enjoyment in the story if I read an electronic version.

But … and it’s a big but, I do bemoan the following:

Nothing matches the joy of an uncle handing you a book from his laden shelves, one you undertake to read with some trepidation, for what can the aging old fellow possibly know about your young heart? You read…

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Diverted by Movies

Lately I’ve been diverted from reading by several movies. A new experience for me as I’ll take a book any day before a movie.

Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. For years, my friend and I read the foreign movie reviews in Friday’s Edmonton Journal and and then went to the Princess or Avenue theaters on Saturday to see the movie of choice. We saw a number of unique, bizarre, and amazing movies over the years. I miss those.

So what has partially drawn me back to movies? The Starz Channel. In the past couple of weeks I’ve watched:

Woman in Gold – Helen Mirren amazes — as usual — in the real-life story of a Jewish-Austrian woman’s efforts to reclaim her family’s famous “Lady in Gold” painting stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

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Akeelah and the Bee – Laurence Fishburne shines as the coach of a young girl from South Los Angeles who tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

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Vicky Christina Barcelona – Penelope Cruz awes in this wild, witty portrayal of sex, love, lust, and marriage with an unusual format of narration throughout.

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Queen of Katwe – Lupita Nyong’o and the entire cast break your heart in this depiction of Phiona Mutesi’s struggle help her family survive and rise above their dire poverty. Through Phiona’s success in chess tournaments the family is able to find a better life.

If you’re not way behind the times (like me), you’ve likely already seen these. If not, take the time to find them. You won’t be disappointed.

PS If you have other “old” movies to suggest, please let me know in the comments.





Novel Reading Peeves

Okay, here’s the thing. I love reading. Always have. But….

Some books drive me crazy.

Not the ones I start and don’t like. Those are easy to deal with. Just stop reading.

It’s the ones with an intriguing story line–a new twist on a familiar tale. For example, I’m enjoying the novel I’m reading now immensely, but the author and editor missed some big irritants. I don’t need to be told twelve times that the heroine’s reputation must remain unblemished or she will lose her status in society and her livelihood. Tell me once and get on with the story.

Then there is the hero (who of course will fall in love with the heroine — at least I hope so as they’re a great pair) who has struggled and managed to pull himself out of poverty and find a comfortable niche in society, but he still uses “street speech.” Surely in his efforts to improve his life, he would have worked on his language skills.

Novels that end too abruptly disappoint. The author uses the last couple of pages to have one of the characters conveniently explain the whys and wherefores of the plot–The end. These leave me feeling cheated.

Or the novel that has a natural ending, but the author goes on anyway. I distinctly remember one book that went off on a completely different tangent. What!?

And, I don’t like novels that leave the ending hanging. Some authors are able to handle this well giving us hope that things will turn out okay in the end or by letting us decide what will happen next leaving us the opportunity to be satisfied with our choice.

I’m not a fan of prologues or epilogues either. Start the story where it starts and end it where it ends.

That’s my novel rant. What are your reading peeves?






An OMG kind of day.

Left home at 8:20 for a 9:00 am appointment as the doc’s office was at the other end of town (practically half way to Alaska!). I had, wisely, checked Google maps and written out detailed driving directions the night before.
Followed directions and took exit 14, went past Costco and ended up headed back to the highway so turned around. Back at Costco corner, turned the other direction. Went up a mountain. Finally found a place to turn around. Went down a mountain. Stopped and called the doc’s office. Followed directions and drove past Costco. Ended up on the highway going back downtown (where I live). Turned around and found a service station to ask for help. Followed directions. Turned where they said to turn and ended up in a forest.
Called Doc’s office again. “NO! Don’t put me on hold. I’m still lost!”
Found a place to turn around. Followed receptionist’s directions. Ended up back at service station. Asked for directions again. Followed directions and ended up at Costco. Asked a bunch of Costco workers on their break out back for help. Said I needed to find Mr. Mike’s Restaurant (was told by doc’s office that they were across from Mr. Mike’s). Costco staff gave detailed specific directions. “Go past the condo buildings and turn in the driveway on your left.”
Followed directions. Et, voila! Mr. Mike’s. A brown building blending in with all the construction around it and a huge tree in front blocking the brown sign. Saw Doc’s office fronting the parking lot–so convenient for spotting from the street.
Time 9:28 am. Entered office and said, “I’m here. Don’t know if I want to cry or swear. Which would you prefer listening to?”
Turned out they didn’t want to hear either so I took several deep breaths, saw the doctor, and then motored on only to miss a crucial turn for my next appointment. Arrrgh!

The Glass Room – Simon Mawer

Inspired by a house, Simon Mawer has woven in intricate and intriguing story of a couple building just such a house and just such a room of light.

Their lives are idyllic until Hitler looms on the horizon.  The couple and their family are replaced by Nazis using the glass room to run genetic measurements of phenotype, then doctors and therapists using it to work with handicapped children. Mawer subtly weaves the original owners back into the story bringing it to a natural and satisfying conclusion.

Strong characters throughout and excellent writing make for a satisfying read.

If you’ve read The Only Woman in the Room, you will immediately recognize Hedy Lamar and her husband (Austrian arms dealer) who cross paths with the owners of the house.

Germans lived in Sudetenland which was part of the Austro-Hungarian territory for some 700 years. For more on the fate of many of the 3 million Germans living in Sudentenland at the end of WWII, read Julia’s Violinist.

Interview with the author.

Images of the house that inspired the novel, the original Villa Tugendhat.




Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana by [Cleeton, Chanel]


Two worlds separated by 60 years and 90 miles.

Elisa Perez belongs to the world of wealth and power in pre-Castro Havana. Her granddaughter, Marisol, belongs to the world of Cuban families (hers one of the wealthy) that fled and established their lives in Florida.

Cleeton alternately immerses us in the life and times of the late 1950s and life in today’s Cuba. Armed with her grandmother’s ashes in her purse and searching for a place to scatter them as he promised, Marisol also plays detective as she tries to discover her grandmother’s secrets.

Two periods in history and two love affairs make for captivating reading.

I enjoyed the book, but found the ending somewhat rushed containing lengthy passages of “telling” about political and economic conditions as they now exist in Cuba. However that information prompted me to do more research on the struggles Cubans continue to face in their country.


Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest—until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


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.