Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Terrific Upbeat Country Song that Makes You Feel Happy

Listen to "Long Live the Night" by the Reklaws
Great Song! - Available on iTunes
Canada Loves Country Music

To honor Canada Day I wanted to take a minute and introduce you to this brother and sister duo, Jenna and Stuart Walker, known in the Canadian Country Music scene as 'The Reklaws'.

We music fans switch up our favorite songs from time to time, and at the moment this brother and sister duo from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada have me blasting their latest song Long Live the Night.

With the world dishing out stress like skittles right now, sometimes we need a song that makes us jump around and dance like fools.

Long Live the Night by the Reklaws is therapeutic for me; it's that 'release song'.

When the local radio station plays this tune, ask my kids just how nuts their mom gets. Yep, bat*hit bouncing looney. The volume dial gets turned up to 40 and everything else in the world stops. The only thing I hear (and of course the neighbors) is this song. For 3:32 nothing else matters.

We all need a song that reminds us to take a breath and have fun. With all the serious issues that fill our days sometimes the only solution is upbeat, positive music.

The Lyrics Remind Us of the Important Things - These Particular Lyrics Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks:

Full moon rising
We ain't there yet
Every minute's a memory so drink it in
Before you know it's over, man it flies by fast
Make it last

For those of us who have lived a little longer and who have grown kids, words like 'before you know it's over, man it flies by fast' have an especially poignant meaning.

Oh the power of a song! This young talented duo takes me back to the days when my husband and I were building memories.

The song's upbeat energy reflects my overall happy nature, but most of all it brings me through all those wonderful moments we've lived: Young people dating, fun parties, professional careers that had wonderful moments, weddings, babies, toddlers, new homes, family gatherings, and just loving the journey.

Of course, like everyone else, we've had our share of problems, but when I'm listening to Long Live the Night, it's the good part of our life that surfaces.

That's why I love this song! It brings out the good. It reminds us "Every minute's a memory so drink it in".

Be sure to listen to it - You can find More about The Reklaws at their Website





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Piano Maker Book Review

Austrian Kurt Palka’s THE PIANO MAKER is a fictional adventure story with a strong female lead and, true to the title, it is actually about the world of the piano. It is the story of one woman’s life journey from France in the time of the First World War to Canada in the 1930s. Given exceptional training as a child and a young woman as both a pianist and as a piano maker for the family firm, she loses everything during the war and eventually winds up in a small town on the French Canadian shore.

When she arrives, she appears in good clothing and with a nice car but everything that she owns, besides her skills related to the piano, is packed in that car. Her pianist skills, however, are enough for the local church to take her in as a pianist and choir conductor without even checking her references and she is thrilled to have found a new and simple life. Unfortunately, the years in between her time in France and this town contain a secret that she is unable to be rid of.

The story flips back and forth between the time of her new life and the times that have passed. It shares the piano training she received as a young woman and her struggles with that business during war time; the love of a solider and the subsequent loss of that man; another man who rescues her when she needs help supporting both herself and her daughter. The journey includes time spent searching for treasures of different sorts in Indochina and Canada. It includes some uncomfortable situations as the woman recalls at trial her struggle for survival in the frozen Canadian north.

The Piano Maker is RECOMMENDED by me. As a Canadian, I loved that it is partially set in Canada. Anyone with an interest in pianos might enjoy the references to piano playing and piano making that are included in this book. As well, those from the Maritimes and those who enjoy war-time fiction might want to pick up this book.

Amazon says that readers who enjoy The Piano Maker will also like The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I have not read the first two but remember loving Sarah’s Key.

For those looking for piano-themed fiction, it turns out that there are an endless variety of books available. You might enjoy The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason (a Nobel prize winner), The Piano (which is also a movie) by Jane Campion or The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (which is set in Paris) by Thad Carhart’s. Apparently, books with the word piano in the title are a bit trendy though apparently not all include very much about the world of the piano. You can see Amazon’s collection of Piano fiction here.

You can read more about Kurt Palka’s The Piano Maker or buy it from Amazon here.

Have you read The Piano Maker or maybe any of the related books? What did you think?

See you at
the book store!

Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Piano Maker on Amazon.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Get Ready for Canada 150 Celebrations with these Fun Party Suggestions

Canada Day Party Ideas
Do You Have Your Canada 150 Flag, Decorations, T-Shirts or a even a Canada 150 Dress?

The fireworks, the food, the flags, the t-shirts, the smiles, family and Canadian pride and you're all set for the big day.

Did You Know there's an Official Flag for Canada Day?

Nineteen year old Ariana Cuvin, a student in the University of Waterloo's global business and digital arts program designed the sesquicentennial official emblem.

Cuvin's design was chosen as Canada's emblem because of it's simple reflection of the country's diversity and unity.

The emblem consists of 13 multiple colored diamonds that form a Maple Leaf. The four original provinces of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia) are represented at the diamond's base, while the additional diamonds represent the rest of Canada's provinces and territories.

Did You Know that each Canadian Province Joined Confederation at Various Different Dates?

1867 Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
1870 Manitoba, Northwest Territories
1871 British Columbia
1873 Prince Edward Island
1898 Yukon Territory
1905 Alberta, Saskatchewan
1949 Newfoundland and Labrador
1999 Nunavut
"Take a Peek at the Canada 150 Flag Emblem" 
If you're hosting a party, you'll want to see the T-Shirt choices along with this very creative Canada 150 Bodycon dress featured here! It doesn't end there .... check out some of the original Canada Day party suggestions - Party Ideas for the guests and decor:

1) Give your guests traditional Canadian maple syrup from Quebec, or use them as prizes for those wacky party games.

2) Feature Canada 150 Soy Candles around the Yard

3) What's a party without Canada 150 balloons

4) Put up Canada 150 Garland around the room or yard

5) Feature a handcrafted Canada 'Home' Sign

6) Greet guests with a Canada 150 Wreath on the front door

7) Have a Unique Canada 150 Felt Banner made to give out as a grand party game prize
"View the above Canada 150 Party Suggestions"
Canada, have a party, and celebrate 150 years of this great land we love and call home.

But First....

Watch 65 Hours of Footage submitted by Canadians on Why they Love Canada in a Creative 2 Minute Video:


"Happy Birthday Canada"


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

When You Have An American Heart - A World of Good

Find American Heart by Faith Hill Here
And More Inspirational Songs About America Here

Stand Beside Her and Guide Her

"From the small town Friday night lights, to the Broadway neon burning up bright, We're all the same and it's in our veins, A spirit that you can't keep down, A fire inside that'll never burn out if you are the owner of an American Heart" (Lyrics from American Heart by Faith Hill)

America The Good Representing a World of Good

The inspirational song by Faith Hill, American Heart, reminds us about not only the good in America, but also in people who proudly call themselves members of the free world.

Free speech, compassion, human rights and the collective good remain a constant work in progress and as a Canadian, like my brother and sister Americans, I'm blessed to be a part of it.

As people of earth, our diversity along with our sameness are the weights that create the balance. It's cliche, but it really is our differences that teach us and our common ground that unites us.

As an example, even with a physical border between Canada and the USA, the earth doesn't shift when you place a foot on one side or the other: Stand on one side, or stand on the other, I'll venture a guess our aspirations are fundamentally the same; those being prosperity, peace and the pursuit of happiness.

We all know Canadians and Americans share the longest peaceful border on planet earth. This speaks loudly about the people who inhabit both sides of this man-made invisible line.

The most successful friends on the planet have earned a few bragging rights and the Oscar should go to the people of both countries, not our governments. For it's the people who set the pace in a free country; it's people who push governments one way or another, and in a free world governments reflect who we are.

Belting out the lyrics of American Heart, Faith Hill sings these inspirational words 'We're all the Same'. The song is speaking to the soul that makes up America. Today I'll push these worthy sentiments forward to encompass my own country, and even further out to wrap these words of hope around the planet.

When times get tough, play Faith Hill's song American Heart full blast:

Cause it beats like a drum down in New Orleans
Sings like a Motown Melody,
It dreams like California,
Bigger than a Texas sky,
it Bleeds,
it Scars,
it Shines when Times get Hard,
and you can't break an American Heart..

(Lyrics from American Heart)



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Windigo Fire Book Review

Murder. Mayhem. Fire. When I proposed Windigo Fire by M.H. Callway to my book club a year ago, they were instantly taken by the action-packed storyline, which goes as follows:

Native Canadian Danny Bluestone, takes a job for some easy money at a kid's retreat in Red Dog Lake in Northern Ontario. A local offers him the chance to be a scout for wealthy tourists and hunters.  Danny realizes that this business is a cover-up for a grow-op but he takes the job anyway and it turns out that he has been recruited for a bear hunt that is illegal. However, he awakens and finds all of the tourists except one dead. The two survivors have to join together to escape even though the other might be the murderer. He uses his shaman knowledge to survive in the bush and from the Windigo, an evil spirit.

Little did I know that when I read this book I would be vacationing on a remote and isolated lake in Northern Ontario not far from Timmins where this story is set.  I was lucky though that I did not experience any murder, mayhem or fire. I did, however, encounter the beautiful wilderness outdoors that is part of Canada's north.  There were other cottages on the lake but we could not see a single one of them from my sister's cottage. We spent many hours swimming, canoeing and yes, reading Windigo Fire.

It is rare to have a consensus at my book club, especially one that is positive. This time everyone, bar none, enjoyed the book. It is an action packed book that was hard to put down. Perfect for an entertaining summertime read and for time spent in the wilderness.

Do not get me wrong though. This book was not perfect. Members of my group found a few inconsistencies or missing points in the book, and decided that it seemed almost like little bits had been removed, perhaps to make this story "book size."

In terms of what to be aware of, know that this book has drugs, alcohol, sex, a strip club, language, fighting, murder and fire. However, I have certainly read many books that are worse. It definitely has an interesting variety of characters that range from vulnerable to flawed to incorrigible and leaves you with a few puzzles to decipher at the end.

Is Windigo Fire recommended? Yes, it is by me and by the other members of my book club.  I will be passing it around to all of my family members some of who live in the north, others who love camping in the wilderness or at least the campgrounds of northern Ontario.

Happy Reading!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Windigo Fire from Amazon.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson - Canadian Artist

Path Behind Mowat Lodge Canvas Print by Tom Thomson
Path Behind Mowat Lodge Canvas Print
The Life, Death and Art of Famous Canadian Artist Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson is one of Canada's most famous Artists who died mysteriously, and whose death is still talked about today.
I can't quite put my finger on why I find the lives of famous artists so intriguing. However, I do think it has something to do with an artist's plight to fulfil their calling while their lives are plastered with difficultly. Added to the fact that, in many cases, their work isn't valued or appreciated until after they die - Upsetting and incredibly unfair.
Tom Thomson was absolutely one of those artists. He only lived to the age of 39 and died under mysterious circumstances.To this day the suspicious speculations of his death are still labelled inconclusive.
Northern Light
Tom Thomson:
Born: August 5, 1877, in Claremont, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 8, 1917 (aged 39), Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

NORTHERN LIGHT - The enduring mystery of Tom Thomson and the woman who loved him - This is VERY Interesting!

The details of Tom Thomson's life story, Authored by Roy MacGregor in "Northern Light", are very intriguing. He speaks about Thomson's life as well as his untimely death and the mystery surrounding it.
If you appreciate the journey of artists you will enjoy listening to this.


Tom Thomson and The Group of Seven
Tom Thomson, The Early Years

At 22 years old he was an Apprentice at an Iron Foundry and was fired because he was always late. He then attempted to join the armed services that same year, but due to a medical condition was denied entry.

In 1901 he was accepted into Business College in Chatham, Ontario but dropped out after eight months to go to the business college his brother operated in Seattle, Washington. While in Seattle, he had a brief romance with Alice Lambert.

He returned to Canada in 1904 and in 1907 he joined a Toronto design firm named Grip Ltd where many of the future "Group of Seven" also worked.

The Group of Seven

The Group of Seven were a famous group of Canadian Landscape Painters in the 1920's. Tom Thomson was never an official member of the Group of Seven, however he is recognized as having greatly influenced them.
The members of the Group of Seven were, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley.

Heffel's record $2,749,500.00 sale of Tom Thomson ~ Early Spring, Canoe Lake



Tom Thomson's Major Source of Inspiration & Art Career

Tom Thomson was inspired by Ontario's wilderness. His first visit to Algonquin Park was in 1912. That year he began working along side members of the Group of Seven at Rous and Mann Press, but he left later in the year to become his own full time artist.

His first exhibit was with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1913 and he later become a member in 1914. That same year the National Gallery of Canada purchased one of his paintings. His exhibits continued with the Ontario Society of Artists until his mysterious death in 1917.

He eventually moved to Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. He worked as a fire fighter, ranger, and guide in Algonquin Park, but gave that up as he found it didn't give him enough time to paint. From 1914 to 1917 before he died, is when he created his most famous work; The Jack Pine, The West Wind and The Northern River.

Tom Thomson's Art & Artistic Talent

The Death of Tom Thomson
Tom Thomson was another one of those "mostly self taught" artists. He was very young when he began drawing and painting, but didn't pursue it as a career until he was in his thirties. Of course, his untimely death at the age of 39 would cut short the number of paintings he would become famous for.
He did produce hundreds of sketches between 1912 and 1917 (the year he died). Today these sketches are considered part of his portfolio of works and are featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
He transformed from Graphic Designer to Professional Painter, with the help of Dr. James MacCallum between 1914 and 1917.
Many of his famous paintings began as sketches and later evolved into large oil paintings at his "Studio". His studio was an old shack, with a wood stove on the grounds of Studio Building.
With his use of broad brush strokes and his liberal use of paint to capture color, his art resembles post-impressionists, Vincent Van Gogh & Paul Cezanne.
Thomson was provided the same level of respect and prominence as Renoir, Picasso and The Group of Seven in 2002 when the National Gallery of Canada staged a major exhibition of his art.

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson

On July 8th, 1917 at the age of 39, Tom Thomson disappeared on a canoeing trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His body wasn't discovered until eight days later. Although there were reports that he had his fishing line wrapped around his feet seventeen times, and signs of a head injury, the official cause of death was deemed accidental.
The speculation on the cause of his death continues today. Numerous scenarios have been put forth, including murder and suicide. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quebec City through the Eye of a Camera


Before embarking on a Canada and New England cruise in September, I was able to spend two nights in the historic town of Quebec City.  I found Quebec City to be a photographers delight, from the historic buildings to the charming street scenes, everything just seemed to call out to me to photograph.

The photo above is the Chateau Frontenac which is located in upper Quebec high above the St. Lawrence river.  We stayed our first night in the hotel that is located within the Chateau Frontenac.  It was a lovely place to stay and a great location in which to take walks from and capture photos of upper Quebec City.

 Upper Quebec City

Here are a couple of scenes from our first evening in Quebec City. 

 The first is the 1640 Bistro where we had dinner and the second is the Chateau lit up in the evening.

Artists Street

One of my favorite places to visit in upper Quebec City is the Rue Du Tresor.  On this street artists hang their wares for all to view and purchase.  You can sometimes see artists at work too.

Lower Quebec City- Street Scenes

I really enjoyed walking the streets of lower Quebec City in the very French portion of the city.  Here are some of the street scenes I was able to capture with my camera.  The streets were charming with every entrance way taking on a different look.  There were still lots of beautiful flowers and greenery in the doorways in late September.  


 The building to the left has a mural painted on it depicting the four seasons of the year in Quebec City.  There were many small shops, restaurants, and art galleries throughout the area.

I have also written an article on my trips to Quebec City you can link to it here http://mbgphoto.hubpages.com/hub/quebec-city-2
For a scenic calendar with scenes from Quebec City stop by my Zazzle store. Click on the link below.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.