Mystery Monday: Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman

Cold Mourning is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Stonechild and Rouleau by Brenda Chapman, a Canadian author who lives in Ottawa.  It was the second book I’d read by Brenda and I recommend you read them in order unless, like me, you intend to rush out after turning the last page and buy all the previous books because you absolutely must have the background and must have it now.

Cold Mourning is set in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and detective Stonechild is a new addition to a special task force who has two things working against her when she arrives to join her team:  she’s a woman and she’s native.  The head of her team, Rouleau, is on her side and is the kind of detective who will back her up and evaluate fairly.  Not every member of her team is willing to do that.

The Prologue gives a rather eerie beginning as two young native girls, tired from a trek to town, accept a lift from a stranger who turns out to be a racist pervert.  It is a long way into the story before the significance of this episode becomes apparent.

Wealthy wheeler dealer Tom Underwood, unhappy with his second wife, estranged from his son, and despised by his son-in-law, disappears after the staff Christmas party just a few days before Christmas.  Is it a business deal gone sour?  Or one of his family members or associates hoping to benefit from his demise?  Stonechild uncovers layer upon layer of secrets, hidden jealousies, infidelities, and many motives for revenge.  Previously operating as a lone wolf on a fairly quiet reserve, Kala Stonechild has to work hard to make a fit with her partner and avoid the cynicism and racism of a fellow team member.  She is missing her dog (left with a friend until she gets settled), trying to track down an old friend in trouble, and attempting to prove her own and her team’s worth against stacked odds.

While I enjoyed this story immensely — I started it in bed and finished it by morning — I found there to be an awful lot of truly evil men in it.  Hopefully this is an unrealistic demographic.  The characters of Stonechild and Rouleau are completely engaging.  The settings are bang on and it was a pleasure to read about hometown locations for a change.  The empathy Stonechild feels for suspects and homeless characters who come in and out of the story, and the complexity of character and plot make for a riveting read.  I highly recommend this series but suggest you read the books in order.  * * * *


If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mention my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post or your sidebar.


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Sunday Reblog: I used to…

This site is my go-to place for inspiration, encouragement, and important reminders of how I’m meant to live my life. This particularly resonated with me when I read it and I hope it will for you too.  You might want to visit her site and hit the FOLLOW button.  Enjoy my Sunday Reblog.

Sacred Touches

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**Images found on the Internet; collage created by Natalie

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On My Bookshelf, June 22, 2018

I recently attended the book launch for an Ottawa author, Brenda Chapman‘s 5th book in a series called A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery.  It was an interesting experience — never attended a book launch before — and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I had purchased the fourth book in the series for signing purposes and thought I would read it first, then see if I would buy the others.  I now own them all, have read two, and can’t wait to read the other 3.

Brenda Chapman’s Stonechild & Rouleau Mysteries — 2 read, 3 to go!

The Day I Saw the Hummingbird by Paulette Mahurin
an underground railway story of a courageous young slave whose life changes the day he sees a hummingbird.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
a WWI, WWII, and aftermath spy story

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie —
loved the movie, want to read the book.

Lost Ottawa by David McGee
changes to the Ottawa landscape

Charmed Lives by Michael Korda
the story of film greats, the Korda brothers

Have Bags Will Travel by D.G. Kaye
Tips & anecdotes on traveling

What’s on your bookshelf?  Please share.


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The Shipping News, Book & Movie

I had bought the movie based on Annie Proulx‘s book (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) because I had missed it at the theatre and had heard it was good.  (Also, I don’t have to be told something is good if Judy Dench is in it.)  But somehow, I had never got around to watching it.  When The Shipping News showed up on my book club’s reading list and I wasn’t sure I would have time to read the book due to other commitments, I decided it was high time I watched the movie to get a sense of what it was all about.

Quoyle (we never do learn his first name) is an insecure, loser of an adult who was constantly run down by his parents and brother, as a result, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In the book, he covers council news for a small local paper; in the movie, he’s a typesetter.  Having never been loved, he has no idea how to love and so when the promiscuous (being generous here) Petal Bear comes careening into his life like a runaway truck, he falls head over heels for her.  He can’t let her go, even after she abandons him taking their daughter(s) — two in the book, one in the movie — with her to sell on the black market to an online pornographer and is subsequently killed in a car crash with her latest lover.

Quoyle meets his aunt who has decided to return to her roots in Newfoundland and Quoyle, having had his daughter(s) returned to him, decides he might as well go as well and have a fresh start in life away from memories of Petal.  Unbeknownst to Quoyle, Aunt has an agenda of her own and when he sees the family homestead perched on a desolate piece of headland anchored down with cables, he has second thoughts.  But he takes a job covering the shipping news for a local paper the Gammy Bird, and before long, begins to blossom.

The movie, of course, has some great acting in it and wonderful sweeping settings.  Cate Blanchet and Julianne Moore play Quoyle’s love interests and his daughter becomes best friend to Moore’s autistic son who adds a lot of both funny and poignant moments to the story.  Canada’s Gordon Pinsent contributes total authenticity to the movie, being a home-grown Newfoundlander himself.  It’s a low-key plot, as in the book, but the interesting characters who come alongside the family and help Quoyle rise to his potential are all well-played and add to the charm of the movie.  Warning: quite a bit of enthusiastic sex in the early part of the movie.

The book was a bit startling at first, as the writing, I’m told, is exactly the way Newfoundlanders talk — incomplete sentences, lack of antecedents — and threw me off quite a bit at first.  Once I got used to it, it was much easier to follow and enjoy.  I liked the way the chapters began with definitions from Ashley’s Book of Knots, mostly of knots — which always tied in to what would come to light during the chapter — but sometimes of maritime terms.  It made for an interesting, if not compulsive, read.

There were lots of interesting events (spoiler alert) that added to the growth of Quoyle and the reader/viewer’s enjoyment:  the mysterious white dog, the headless corpse, the destruction of the getaway boat, and the corpse that comes back to life.  Also, some subtle (and not so subtle) revelations about rural life in Newfoundland.  But best of all, Quoyle becoming an assertive, capable family man and contributor to life in his community.  Both book and movie: * * * *


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Tuesday’s Tantalizing Teasers & First Chapter, First Paragraph: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

First Chapter, First Paragraph has a new host, I’d Rather Be At The Beach, you can reach here.  Easy to participate.  Include your book title and author, a picture of the cover, and quote the first (or first two) paragraph(s) from the book.  Leave your link at the blog site along with a comment on what is posted there.  Learn about other books people are reading by visiting their blogs and noting their excerpts.

Today’s First Chapter, First Paragraph is from The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck:

Burg Lingenfels, November 9, 1938

The day of the countess’s famous harvest party began with a driving rain that hammered down on all the ancient von Lingenfels castle’s sore spots — springing leaks, dampening floors, and turning its yellow façade a slick beetle-like black. In the courtyard, the paper lanterns and carefully strung garlands of wheat drooped and collapsed.

I’m hosting this Tuesdays’ Tantalizing Teasers which is easy to participate in.  It may not appear every week but when it does, it will always be on Tuesday.  To participate, show the title, author, and cover, and choose a random (or not) quote to share with other readers (two or three sentences), and leave a comment with the link to your own tantalizing teaser for the day.  Here’s my quote from the above book:

There was a tight black cave where Franz Muller’s heart, or something more than his heart — his personhood — should be.  He had lost it in the war, and there was no getting it back. p. 215

Would you keep reading?  Have you read this book already?  Share your thoughts and leave a link to your own post.  Enjoy your day!

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Mystery Monday: The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Today’s feature mystery is the first in Christie‘s Miss Jane Marple series, The Murder at the Vicarage.  While I’ve seen many, many of Christie’s novels brought to life on the screen, I’ve only read a few of her books and am looking forward to reading more.  It’s interesting to see how her style of writing changed as her career took off.

As with most if not all of Ms. Christie’s Marple mysteries, this one is set in a small village in rural England where there is a manor, and church, a vicarage, a post office, and a clutch of cottages with large beautiful gardens.  Colonel Protheroe is a rather loathsome character whose demise, according to the vicar, would be of benefit to the world as a whole.  A tactless and unfortunate remark since, within 24 hours, the Colonel is found in the vicar’s own library stabbed to death, bringing the clergyman into the role of main suspect.

There is the usual assortment of suspects, motives, false trails, and busybodies including an archaeologist who isn’t, the deceased’s daughter and wife, her lover, and the curate who is experiencing personal struggles which may end up in his being fired.  There is the obligatory bumbling inspector aptly named Slack.  The characters are well drawn and there are lots of red herrings.

The reader is assisted by floor plans of the vicarage, the murder scene, and a village map.  There is no list of characters in my copy and the narrator is the vicar, which I found a bit unusual.  All in all, a rather cozy read without too many gory details that modern authors seem compelled to include with people dropping left, right, and centre.  I plan to read more of Christie’s novels in the future.  * * * * *


If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post.


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Sunday Reblog: Young Creators!

Annika has published the entire 500-word story that won in the age 10-13 category of the BBC’s 2018 short story contest. It is beautifully written and begins with a very upbeat mood but please do not miss that this child author is fully aware of modern slavery and its many predators’ disguises.  Enjoy my Sunday Reblog!

Annika Perry's Writing Blog


It’s been a wonderfully inspiring morning! Whilst preparing breakfasts, packed lunch, loading the washing machine I had the joy and honour of listening to the winning entries of this year’s BBC 500 Words short-story writing competition for children. The finale of the contest, which saw over a staggering 135,000 entries, was held at Hampton Court Palace and the Honorary judge was Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.


The ability and inventiveness of the children in their stories is astonishing. Their creativity, lyricism and themes were both heart-warming and funny. The Gold Winners in the 5-9 age category and the 10-13 age category were both stories I’d read from the short-list; both enthralling, very different but brilliantly written stories. These youngsters have so much to teach us all.  Below is the winning entry for the 10 – 13 age group. Enjoy.

Dancing on the Streets by Sadhbh Inman


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