Book Quotes: Shiny

July 31, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more. (Author’s note)


…she was the one artists would want to draw…She was the one who would someday know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire. (p. 24)

It wasn’t a Gothic cemetery; there were no mossy angels weeping miraculous tears of blood, no crypts or curses or crumble. No poets or courtesans were buried here; no vampires slumbered belowground. … Even the dead loitering here spoke of dull things, like the one who worried she’d left the stove burning when she died. (p. 45)

(Goblin Fruit pp. 1 – 55)


Lips Touch: Three Times
by Laini Taylor
Toronto: Scholastic, 2009 Lips Touch

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Happy Birthday Your Majesty

April 17, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary, Faery tales) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Queen turns 90 on April 21, 2016.

She’s been through a lot in those ninety years. There was Wallis Simpson & the abdication, World War II, the death of her father at an early age, the Diana years, the loss of both her sister and her mother. A lifetime worth of trails and tribulations.

She is old enough to forgive and forget. Myself, I still hold grudges. I still want people to admit they done me wrong and some of these people are dead.

The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. That makes her a Taurus like my eldest sister. Like most Tauruses, she’s reliable, practical, ambitious, and independent.

On her official birthday during the weekend of June 10 – 13th, there will be many celebrations. There will also be celebrations from May 12 – 15th.

We’re not celebrating Her Majesty’s birthday here in Canada as far as I know. The RCMP Musical Ride will go to London to join the Royal Celebrations there and we are publishing a charming children’s book to mark the occasion.

Our government here in Canada is pretty boring especially compared to the British Monarchy (though there was that Prime Minister who had seances to contact his mum).

We may not have castles but our Prime Minister resides in a very lovely mansion as he governs the country. Honestly, we’ve not had anyone interesting living there since Pierre Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister! Politics have been boring, boring, boring ever since he left but maybe his son (our current Prime Minister) can liven up our world-wide reputation.

The United States has no connection to royalty anymore (not since the revolution) so they create their own royalty out in Hollywood.

We (I) fantasize about being royal. Does Royalty fantasize about playing at being normal. I love the movie, The Prince & Me. I love its light humour. We are amused (yes that is the royal we).

What has the Queen been fantasizing about lately? Maybe these quick, amusing reads have the answer.


The Uncommon Reader deals with the Queen as a bibliophile.

What she was finding was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do. (p. 21)

As Queen…pleasure had always taken second place to duty. (p. 31)

To read is to withdraw. To make oneself unavailable. (45)

Once she been a single-minded woman knowing where her duty lay and [her] intent [was] on doing it…(104)

The moral, of this book, is that the love and act of reading can lead to the act of writing which leads to abdication.

A moral, I’m sure, our current Queen would be against considering how long it took her and her mother to forgive Edward and Wallis.

The Uncommon Reader is written by Alan Bennett. Faber & Faber published it in 2007.

Mrs Queen

In this fairy tale-ish book, the Queen takes a melancholy jaunt alone to Scotland to visit the decommissioned Royal Yacht.

People had been writing about her from the very first day she was born in April 1926. (p. 5)

It was Prince Edward [who had] shown her (he knew his mama’s bad habits) a website where she could place a small bet on the races. (p. 8)

She had already called the IT woman three times. She couldn’t call her again. The Queen knew she needed help, but she hated to appear helpless. (p. 4)

The Queen set store by doing everything as Queen Victoria had once done it. (p. 135)

This story is set in December 2002. It is a charming, small, book with lovely black & white illustrations throughout. Here the Queen’s world is populated by many charming and eccentric characters.

There is Lady Anne Bevil, one of her Ladies in Waiting who at seventy has little money left to support herself and is estranged from her son.

Shirley is the queen’s senior dresser. She is sixty and her grandmother and mother worked for the Queen before her. She has no family left.

William is the senior butler. He is gay and has made this job his whole life.

Luke, an equerry and Iraq vet considers his job to be temporary.

Rebecca is a stable girl who takes care of the Queen’s horses. Queen Elizabeth’s latest horse, who was born on the Queen’s birthday, likes cheese. This is a very important plot point!

Rajiv works as a shop clerk at a cheese store and has a sideline profession of taking & selling candid Queen shots to the press. He likes Rebecca (every story needs a romance).

The tale becomes a cozy mystery involving the queen’s household vs MI5. It is very Doctor Whoish. The servants are at friendly odds with each other. They are not sure who to like or who to trust and must find the Queen before it is noticed that she is missing.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train was written by William Kuhn. HarperCollins published it in 2012.

Queen Townsend
After 40 years on the throne, The Queen and her family are rehoused to a council estate because the People’s Republican Party has gotten rid of the monarchy. Everything the Royal Family once had belongs to the state; the new Prime Minister sells off some of royal treasures to Japan and Windsor Castle is turned into a hotel. The former Royal family have no servants, make no public appearances, and they must check in/out with a guard every time they leave the house.

This was subversive fiction written during the Thatcher’s 90s!

The sweetest scene is when the Queen Mum dies and is laid out by neighbours.

Even with all this upheaval, the Queen gets on with it.

The sequel featuring Camilla instead of Diana is not as strong.

The Queen & I was written by Sue Townsend. Methuen published it in 1992.

Hello Magazine

Further readings written by me:

Here is my article about Princess Anne’s wedding.

Here is my article commemorating Elizabeth’s longest reign in September.

It seems Ailsa & I both had books on our mind this week!

Happy Birthday Your Majesty.

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My Book Obsession

February 21, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read and I read and I read. It is not uncommon for me to average five books a week. On top of that I also read magazines and newspapers and blogs.

This is who I am and have always been.

I am a reader.

I will read anything. Any topic. Any author. Any genre.

But I have been obsessed with female detectives since I got my hands on the Encyclopedia Brown series when I was in elementary school.

For those of you who don’t know, Encyclopedia Brown is an amateur boy detective and son of a police chief. His business partner is a girl called Sally Kimball. Together they kept the small town of Idaville crime free. I wanted to be them. I wanted to have read the complete set of encyclopedias cover to cover like Leroy (Encyclopedia) Brown and solve crimes with him like Sally did.

And thus an obsession was born.

The Case of the Tri-Coloured Cat

The Case of the Tri-Coloured Cat!

I quickly graduated from Encyclopedia Brown to more advanced detective books.

I sped read through the library’s collection of Nancy Drew books.

I fell in love with Harriet the Spy and her classmates.

I inhaled all of Agatha Christie. It’s too bad I didn’t have internet capabilities then or I also would have become obsessed with learning about the real mystery that she caused! It seems that, around 9.30 p.m. on Friday, December 3 1926, Agatha Christie got up from her armchair, climbed into her Morris Cowley car and drove off into the night. She would not be seen again for eleven days.

I devoured P. D. James books starring the reluctant detective Cordelia Gray.

I could not get enough of these smart, sassy, singular women!

Where bounty hunters go to buy their cannoli

Where bounty hunters go to buy their Cannoli!

I still read books starring women detectives.

I love me a good mystery!

I, occasionally, picture myself another life. Me, detective or bounty hunter or spy, roaming the streets of the mean city and helping the downtrodden!

I am the lone heroine. with no family or other connections to drag me down.

I am the hard-boiled Private Investigator, a solitary, wandering soul, roving from mansions to dives in search of the truth.

I am the grisly bounty hunter successfully bringing in the bad guy.

I am the reluctant detective drawn in by circumstances that are slowly revealing who I am.

I am the lone heroine. with no family or other connections to drag me down.

Broken Down Rusty Truck.

Broken Down Rusty Truck.

I am obsessed with reading about strong women.

I am fascinated by crime (which thankfully does not touch me).

If you are also obsessed, know that there are a myriad of other exciting crime novelists who are women writing about women.

To explore this obsession further you can go spend hours on the Sisters in Crime website.

Enjoy your obsession!

Dragonfly Border

“Every mystery solved brings us to the threshold of a greater one.”
Rachel Carson, 1954, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (1998)

“… blackmail. The age-old path to the land of milk and honey. The one sure way of being paid for doing nothing.” ~Ursula Curtiss, Voice Out of Darkness (1948)




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At Seventeen

November 8, 2015 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve always been drawn to the dark.

My best friend & I hung out at graveyards/cemeteries when we were in elementary school.

SC Cemetery

I read Stephen King’s Carrie at thirteen.

When I was a teenager, 1970’s music was full of women singing songs with delightfully ambiguously dark themes.

Songs filled with images of tainted love & betrayal.

I never believed in the traditional vision of love and happily-ever-after.

I didn’t see it anywhere in my own life so how could it exist?

I learned the truth at seventeen,
That love was meant for beauty queens.

And those of us with ravaged faces,
Lacking in the social graces

dreams were all they gave for free,
To ugly-duckling girls like me.

(Here are the full Lyrics.)

Janis Ian was just like me. Lonely, an outcast, dreaming in the dark.

Cher was another woman singing and dreaming of the dark.

And then there was Helen Reddy telling me the tale of Angie Baby.

The headlines read that a boy disappeared
and everyone thinks he died
‘Cept a crazy girl with a secret lover…


According to my sister, two years older than me, I was in the mean class in High School.

Tammy, a mean girl classmate once hit me with a large board (art project) on top of my head when we were on the school bus. The driver did nothing. My classmates said and did nothing.

Did everybody see me drowning and nobody think to save me? I was barely able to save myself but somehow I did and reading about the secrets in the darkness helped me.

I recently read a YA Horror Anthology, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. I loved it. I would have adored it at seventeen. The stories are chock full of girls who take charge and get revenge.


The book blurb reads as follows:

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

If you haven’t figured out the inspiration(s) by the end of the story, they are written out at the end of each one.

I’ve always been drawn to the dark.

See additional reviews:





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That Stings?

August 23, 2015 at 10:08 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?


Books don’t sting me anymore (I’ve become too numb to emotional pain) but they do make me think.

I read more fiction than non-fiction. Right now, I’m really not in the mood for thinking. I just want to be passively entertained.

But yesterday I finished a book that was both entertaining and educational. In spite of myself, it made me think.

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store.

Perhaps this book bit and stung my mind a little bit. It didn’t hurt but it did make me think. It also annoyed me slightly as well. The author, Stephen Witt, argues that it was his generation that was primarily responsible for music piracy and though I don’t dispute his point it aggrieves me that he dismisses the older generation as being too computer illiterate to have participated in the crime.

(Is this a confession? Don’t we all have questionable MP3 files stored on our various devices. Even some of us so-called old people.)

I liked the book. It made me think in spite of myself. I recommend you read it and decide for yourself how much piracy affected the way we consume music!


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Death Is Your Gift

October 19, 2014 at 10:22 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“And I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”  (T.S. Eliot)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery_SC

I was a Cemetery Girl. This was before goth was a thing. As a child, my best friend and I use to wander the local graveyards exploring and reading the gravestones. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was a pleasant way to spend a coolish Fall afternoon.

It was usually Fall when you would find us in the graveyard. Leaves would be falling and the world’s axis was spinning into winter and long, cold days of nothing to do. Fall is my favourite season. It is cool. School is starting. There is a quietness in the air. Halloween is just around the corner.

Most of the cemeteries we haunted were country cemeteries; the closet one was a block outside of town. The other one we visited regularly was a mile out. We hardly ever saw anyone else there. It seemed a shame. There was so much beauty and peacefulness there and everyone else was missing it.

We come upon an old woman in black, holding an umbrella against the sun, sitting in front of her husband’s grave on an overturned bucket. She speaks to us in her own language, pointing at the face on the black headstone, crying into a hankie. Lisa gives her a fresh bottle of water. (p. 244)

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Toronto:Random House of Canada, 2010

Country Cemetery (Dahlton)

I still haunt graveyards. I’ve taken pictures of cemeteries all over Saskatchewan, in Scotland and recently in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m always going to regret not being able to get to explore the historical cemetery at Skagway.

Death intrigues me. No, how we process death intrigues me. No, the history sitting around in graveyards entrances me. I am an explorer of the past. I like to explore what use to be.

I also wonder about what is beyond – beyond the shadows, beyond death. What is the next step? Knowing the plan calms me. I like to know the steps, what to do, what ie expected of me at each turn. Don’t surprise me. I hate surprises!

Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery

I delight in exploring cemeteries and graveyards. Did you know the two terms are not interchangeable? A cemetery is an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard. A graveyard is a burial ground, associated with or beside a church.

I also delight in reading books about the death industry. I enjoyed the television series Six Feet Under and always wanted to live in a large, Victorian funeral home.

The latest funeral industry book I bought is Caitlin Doughty’s book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caitlin oversees the blog The Order of the Good Death that I regularly read and has a series of videos about death and the way we (as a society) deal with it. Scroll down this page for the book video.

I am a cemetery girl. I haunt graveyards. Death is my familiar. I fear not.


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Wanting: Book Quote Sunday #9

September 28, 2014 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , )

Look to the Stars

I thought you could have everything if you wanted it hard enough. (p. 221)

The China Garden
By Liz Berry
N.Y.: Avon Tempest, 1996

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Summer: Book Quote Sunday #8

August 31, 2014 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary, Weather) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

He spoke to me as if I were a butterfly that he was asking to hold its wings open wide so he could have a better view of their colors. (p. 7)

The Tale of the Rose
by Consuelo De Saint-Exupery
N.Y.: Random House, 2001

Doesn’t a rebellious rose ever decide it wants to be a dandelion? (p. 31)

Common Nonsense
by Andy Rooney
N.Y.: PublicAffairs, 2002

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Mothers & Daughters: Book Quote Sunday #5

May 25, 2014 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I believed that every child’s mother could read her thoughts …

Sometimes I couldn’t breathe; it was like the suffocation of too much pollen. (p. 21)

by Francesca Lia Block
N.Y.: Roc, 1994

Doe and Fawn

Why should it be so strange that the beast had a mother?
So many of us have mothers. (p. 196)

Bay Wolf pp. 190 -197 in
Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman
N.Y.: Avon Books, 1998


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Family: Book Quote Sunday #3

March 30, 2014 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary, Life) (, , , , , , , , )

Still, you never could tell. Especially when it came to family. You thought you were done with someone, and they’d reappear when you least expected to see them. (p. 142)

The Probable Future
by Alice Hoffman
Toronto: Doubleday, 2003

I do believe I will be dealing with family issues until the day I die. Don’t we all? The picture, above, is from my trip to Scotland – my paternal grandfather’s ancestral home. I didn’t get close to where he lived but here is the capital city of Edinburgh and I know that my grandfather walked these streets at least at one point in his life. This is why I would time travel – to meet my ancestors and know them before they knew me.

The picture is for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life.

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