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 4th 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 2.

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

Posted in Adult Book, Historical Fiction, Meme | Tagged | 12 Comments

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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We’ll Always Have Casablanca by Noah Isenberg

The full title is actually We’ll Always Have Casablanca – The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie and it has more interesting trivia about this amazingly enduring movie which seemingly took on a life of its own and still appears near the top of every top movie list that is generated.  Isenberg has done extensive research, including interviews, and has probably uncovered facts which will surprise even the staunchest of Casablanca fans.  The title, of course, is a play on Rick’s farewell to Ilsa, “We’ll always have Paris”.

One of the facts that surprised me was the number of actors/actresses in the movie who were actually refugees who had fled the Nazis along a similar if not the exact same escape route being taken by Ilsa, Victor, and so many other characters hanging around Rick’s in hopes of obtaining exit visas by whatever means they can.  S.Z.Sakall who played headwaiter Carl, Marcel De La Brosse, a German officer, Lotte Palfi who played a refugee trying to sell her diamonds, Peter Lorre as the shady character Ugarte, Madeleine Lebeau who gives the emotional rendition of La Marseillaise, and so many others — indeed, almost all of the seventy-five actors were immigrants.  Of those who were given screen credits, only three — Humphrey Bogart, Dooley Wilson, and Joy Page — were born in the United States.

The original screen play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison was entitled, Everybody Comes to Rick’s and was purchased by Warner Bros. in 1941.  Thereafter, Burnett, Warner Bros., and authors of articles and books were to be embroiled in numerous lawsuits over the next several decades for a variety of reasons. The timing of the movie’s release couldn’t have been better — in late 1942, the Allies had just mounted a huge invasion of North Africa and within months, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin were heading for Casablanca for a conference on strategy for the next phase of WWII.  The name Casablanca was on everyone’s lips.

By the 1960s, a cult had grown up around the movie.  There were many spinoffs (A Night in Casablanca starring the Marx Bros.), movies that discussed the movie, a movie where Bogart’s Rick character gives advice to a loser about how to improve his love life (Play it Again, Sam — which was never actually said in the movie), in 1995, Looney Tunes (Warner Bros. released an 8 min. Bugs Bunny cartoon called Carrotblanca, and there was a huge market for T-shirts and movie posters.  Theatres around the world were still showing the movie to sell-out crowds and in 2013, “the Troxy Theatre in London’s East End was transformed in Rick’s Café Américain as part of Secret Cinema, a British company that specializes in “live cinema.”  Spectators came in costume, played cards at roulette tables, had cocktails, and danced to the music from the film while scenes from the movie were acted out in front of them.

If you Google the movie title in books, you get almost 9m results.  There are fans of the movie who have watched it hundreds of times.  Cable cohost Erroll Parker of Inside Long Beach had, by 1999, watched the film more than six hundred times, having first watched it at the age of fourteen when he was bedridden with a broken leg.

If you’ve never watched the movie, you should.  If you have, but not recently, you should watch it again.  Then read this book which has to be the ultimate collection of Casablanca information.  The movie is surrounded by irony, humorous anecdotes, sad tales, surprising details, cast and director background, and controversy.  Lots of fun. * * * * *

Posted in Actor, Actress, Adult Book, Movie, Non-fiction, Opinion, Romance, War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments