Carolyn’s “Global Reading” 2017!


Hello from a warm winter week-end in Manitoba’s marshland and forestland!  I am passionate about our adored cats, the plants we grow, and books and music I have gathered all my life.  You hear about my reading most because hosting and joining “reading challenges” generates posts.  I fell in love with them because they give me somewhere self-competitively and if there are prizes, competitively to direct the private reading I do.  These furnish an activity for a pastime that was for a long time solitary.  Their main attraction and function is giving me a creative way to categorize the books I choose to read in a year.  This one is one of my favourites, which places authors and the contents of their books according to countries in the world.

I quickly saw that most hosts stop at the most inconvenient time of year to choose:  December 31st.  Too many times, these precious weeks were spent busily filling-in links to my posts and reviews at numerous nost websites, when anyone would rather focus on Christmas and all of the activities that surround that.  I continue to recommend running groups February 1 to January 31 like I do.  It is one month that makes a difference.  I began prioritizing prize opportunities but the most futile thing is hosts who seldom or never read the posts we spent precious enthusiasm preparing!  Of highest importance is hosts who care when we share what we finished.

I search for this unadvertized group every year, which I hope makes her feel appreciated.  The layout is detailed and surely took a lot of time.  Goodness knows the review pages alone for my four groups took a lot of care.  Filling in my reading by continent is one of my most satisfying ways to play.  I pay attention to where settings are and whence authors come and the other part that appeals to me is that a few of the continents are tricky;  outside my reading norm.  It pushes me to read something South American (my hardest!), Australian / New Zealander, and Asian.  Phyllis A. Whitney saves me there, with her abundance of books, because she was born in Japan.  I have almost all of Amy Tan’s books and a few other Asian selections so I will use some of that this year.

I meet challenges with books we have, books plentiful enough that my spouse &  I shop within our own home store.  I seek no books elsewhere;  the point for me is to read-up our own supply.  You might find my weak continent odd because I have a huge selection of Hispanic literature.  I studied Spanish, speak and read it in fact, since grade 9 through to universitiy.  It doesn’t seem I built this collection however, for a love of this literature but because I learned who the greats are and wanted to try them as a grown-up.  I only dug into it a couple of years ago and must not think that finding those two or three oeuvres depressing means all South American literature is like that.  There must be funny, exciting, or spooky books among them too.  Thanks to the “Global Reading Challenge“;  I invest a few days reading three such books and see.

 I hope starting this year, my posts and articles are read and commented on!  This theme is one of my favourite mental scavenger hunts, which is what reading challenges are.  I concur with what must have been her thought:  it is well worth acquainting the settings and arts of other countries.  Either the site used to say, or Kerrie acknowledged that our choices can be based on an author’s residence or birthplace.  This year’s post doesn’t elaborate but I reiterate that many of my items are checked-off via an author’s origins.

Fictional is requested and is usually what I bring.  A reason is not evident, except preference so I’m not going to stress about hopping over that in a few instances.  Margaret Laurence’s writings on her work in Africa are special and important enough to share and one of my Hispanic items might be poetry.  I want to count the tough items on my list;  South America being a culture I read seldom.  We aren’t competing for prizes and our hostess lives too far to smack me.  Hehe!  Please revisit these categories to see how I match them.  I aim for triplicates but will keep recording the books I like best.



The Prophet’s Camel Bell”  Margaret Laurence  1963  SOMALILA
The Jackal’s Head”  Elizabeth Peters  1968  EGYPT
“The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”  Alexander McCall Smith  1998  BOTSWANA



The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943  Born in JAPAN



A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988  Toronto, Ontario
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986  St. Catherine’s, Ontario
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009  Charleston, South Carolina



Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984  Born in IRELAND
“Sense And Sensibility”  Jane Austen  1811  ENGLAND



“The Distant Hours”  Kate Morton  2010  Born in AUSTRALIA



“One-Hundred Years Of Solitude”  Gabriel García Márquez  1967  COLUMBIA


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Dread And Read 2017

I have wanted to write an article asking my peers if they give a second try to an author they didn’t enjoy.  I’ve wondered under what circumstances you are so gracious and if you have stories about this turning out well.  I do!  I consider a first novel or series volume a mulligan.  With a character and fresh idea to construct, we can’t expect that task to leave much room for being sensational.  The largest reason for bestowing the benefit of doubt is the way I buy:  often an author’s full catalogue of oeuvres years, before I read one page!  That is the bargain-thrifty and collector’s mentality both at once.  Either I think I will like something I encounter and go to town grabbing all wherever I find them, for I am a real book-reader;  the physical object.  There is a satisfaction in finding those objects and filling in the complete picture.  Or I bought one volume at an extraordinarily cheap price but can’t read it until I procure several volumes preceding it.  I loathe when that happens and have since made a point of only buying what’s on my existing wish list, or else a series-opening volume of something I discover.  When you have ten or even twenty books by an author and upon turning to them at last, dislike the first;  there is a physically mountainous incentive to give the next one a chance!

This served me well with Juliet Blackwell.  I love the paranormal, which is why I run “Ethereal” and mysteries, which brought about “My Kind Of Mystery“.  A witch series should be a shoe-in but I could not stand her first novel.  I still hate her gnome sidekick, who disguises himself as a pet pig and the focus was too high on him.  The culdren-brewing concept rushing in abruptly for someone unsued to that too.  I had several of her other novels and not only was I glad I gave volume two a try;  it catapaulted her to becoming one of my favourite authors!  I loved the changed tone and focus, largely because it was about old history, a secret room, and a ghost!  Unfortunately more of a demon but we were getting closer to my milieu.  When Juliet came up with a haunted house renovation series, the first volume was weak but I persisted more readily and again:  the second and third mysteries were exponentially more atmospheric and enthralling.  Is there anyone you are tempted to retry, or dreaded reading that would feel like an accomplishment if you vaulted over that hurdle?  What would be on your list?

J.G, who kindly calls me “dynamic” and is equally so, has a group about diving into books we are uncertain we’ll like!  I had joined her nature theme and revisited her blog descriptions to find her birth date group is simpler than it seemed.  So is this.  Books for which we have a dampened enthusiasm take a sharp breath before digging in because for most of us, a 300-page novel is a 2 to 3-day investment of time.  I almost always read at night and unless a book sweeps me away at a gallop, I go through them in a few sips.  The trick even when we’re nuts about books or enjoying them generally.  Well:  if I finish even three of these, I will be happy.

(1)  “Death Of A Cad”  Marion C. Beaton  1987

I guess I’ll close by entertaining you with my reasons for naming the books that I do herein.  These are in order of dread!  First:  does it shock you that I name Marion Chesney Beaton?  She is a very popular “cozy mystery” authoress, one of those whom I collected vastly.  I even have several first editions.  It took some time tracking down the first and second volumes of her earliest series, about a Scottish constable.  I love Scotland and the Celtic countries.  I’ve been to Scotland and treasured every second with my spouse there.  It is the reason I created “Celtic Coasts“.   But when I finally got around to reading “Death Of A Gossip”, I loathed it!  I think I gave it one star, which I have to tell you is rare for me.  I am forgiving and try to find the good wherever it is, as a future (even if long off) author who hopes to receive good ratings of my own.  I loathed it like I seldom loathe other books, in every aspect that counts which my review as tactfully as possible, itemized.  I loathed it so much, I have waited two years to try the second book, which took even more trouble to obtain.  But there’s that hope that the awfulness is due to this being an opening novel, both series must be loved for some reason, and I heard one or two people say that the first volume is not very good but differs greatly from all the others.  That is reassuring but still, I have needed two years to collect myself!  J.G. offers prizes and this forum for me to brace myself and try again.

(2)  “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”  Gabriel García Márquez  1967

I am familiar with this gentleman’s revered standing because I took Spanish all through highschool and university.  As a matter of fact, it was my major.  Granted, I haven’t read enough South American literature in my own language, as a grown-up but the few I tackled the last few years were depressing.  Does this region write of nothing but the starkest hardship?  Literary or general fiction sidestep my preferences as it is.  I have a vast seleciton of South American and Hispanic literature.  I clearly intended to use my eduacation and read it to see what I make of it as an adult.  Therefore just because I thumbed down the first couple (Alejo Carpentier was another one star recipient), doesn’t mean there isn’t great stuff among the others.  “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” looks like some of it will be army or war-oriented, which is not my thing but I am willing to be surprised.  Enjoyment and appreciation can be found anywhere.  Rereading the synopsis yesterday indicates there might be a surreal element.  Many novels are described as being about “joys and sorrows” but while I have no interest in reading of, or watching examples of sorrow in my choice of entertainment, perhaps joy and surrealness play the greater part.

(3)  “Sense And Sensibility”  Jane Austen  1811

I have never read Jane Austen and I feel that if I am to be a serious writer and authoress, I should.  Oh yes, I have collected all of them.  There are millions of editions at those bargain places I riffle through and I am all ready to go.  But I have worried that the enjoyment might be hampered by these being too old-fashioned, in a “women not treated properly” manner.  She has been described as a romance writer, which is not my cup of tea but she is also billed as a must-read authoress of all time, the queen of excellence in writing.  For goodness sakes, I own each book and as always, I like beginning with the first.  I’ll just try it.  If I find the pace lagging, I’ll try to read by day and get through it.  Maybe I’ll find humour or other surprises.  Maybe I’ll be intoxicated by the writing.  With me, that is possible;  definitely one thing I admire most.  If I love the writing, the subject almost never matters.  If all of this is not incentive enough:  I have visited her house in Bath!  Well, the entryway.  I figured I wouldn’t get what I should out of a tour upstairs if I hadn’t read any of her books yet.  If I can afford to return to England, up I go!

(4)  “One Corpse Too Many”  Ellis Peters  1979

Much more briefly:  this is another case of widely gathering the pieces of a beloved, long-lasting series but not falling in love with the character or premise.  I can live with that.  Why I hesitate to step forward to the second novel is hating the writing.  I cannot stand anyone using the adjective “gently” more than once;  especially if it applies to things I do not deem gentle, like snoring!!!!  Gosh, I hated reading this but once again, I took the time to acquire about twenty of this lady’s books.  I assert that this is rare;  I am usually right when I think I’ll love something!  Let’s hope I like the second book much better.  Maybe somebody advised her to stop overdoing the soft sort of adjectives.

(5)  “The Tin Flute”  Gabrielle Roy  1945

I have read Gabrielle Roy, who is from my very own home city, and already know her writing is graceful;  a genuine writer’s writer who is unparalleled!  That was her first short story collection, presented as ficiton but which was autobiographical.  Remember not liking any of the books you took in school, probably because it was for education’s sake or perhaps because the scenarios were depressing?  There’s a reason a curriculum is mostly comprised of things we wouldn’t choose;  certainly not as children.  Most of it can’t be appreciated until we’re grown-ups.  Well, I had an extra cultural layer added to what most of you got through because I attended French schools since grade 4.  Yes indeed, I speak and read in more than two languages.  :)  Therefore taking Winnipeg’s own Gabrielle Roy in her native French was a must.

I don’t remember the book but I remember two French films we took and even their names.  Although I far prefer cats and almost any animal to dogs, due to the contingent in my rural neighbourbood that is allowed to be noisy;  I was horrified to watch a children’s movie in which the dog was killed:  “La guerre des toques”.  That means “War Of The Toques” and the poor dog is the victim of a collapsed snow fort.  Awful, futile, and sad!  A sweet, big Saint Bernard type.  I must have seen it the same year and maybe in the same class, because I seem to pair this negative memory with “Bonheur D’Occasion”.  This is Gabrielle’s original title for “The Tin Flute”.  It was written at war time and is about an impoverished Montréal family, for whom nothing goes right.  That is all I remember.  So I am worried this will be depressing but it is last on my list for a reason.  Perhaps as an adult I will appreciate the story in a way I couldn’t before;  certainly with the omission of that disturbing toque movie.  I already love Gabrielle’s writing, my advantage in this and this is the award-winning first book that rocketed her career.

(6)  “Body Of Evidence”  Patricia Cornwall 1991

Her first novel and that of this long Kay Scarpetta series, “Postmortem”, was so violent and disturbing that I seriously doubted wanting to read any further.  I pondered the same of Kathy Reichs, twisting so uncomfortably with her first novel that only hashing out my decision by reading reviews avoided something I do not do;  not finish a book I have begun.  A glance at the next of Kathy’s told me the subject matter was no less horrifying and depressing but I wanted to give Patricia a try.  In the manner of my book-gathering style;  I already owned most of their series!  It was a matter of deciding I would open this one up and get going.  I am fortunate that I started with Patricia’s less popular and surprisingly, less-liked trilogy.  However I loved her writing in that much letter story and believe it was the main reason I endured “Postmortem” and thought I would continue.

To my relief, even though the most awful of subjects was mentioned, sexual assault;  it was distantly, a past that does not pertain to this story.  Thankfully “Body Of Evidence” focused on solving a murder and although unfortunately brutal, the book’s tone wasn’t as dark and depressing.  I was surprised to find Kay moaning about a lost love that occurred long ago when she is independent and respected today but the suspicion of a love interest lent a personal angle that made the threads of this case matter.  The police inspector is becoming a friend and we even travel to Florida, which we discover is her home.  I think the book was brisker and brighter because we only see one hasty part of an autopsy and seldom enter her workplace.  The whole book was about her being a sleuth and Frank Marino helping;  with a series of small leads that grow into excellent detecting.  Thumbs-up!  I will continue with a series I have already bought!

J.G. asks that we overcome three dreaded books but in case I plunge well ahead of my aim, I listed five.  She is offering prizes!  As someone who struggles to afford that in my groups, I want to be rewarded for an appreciable, measurable effort.  Please wish me luck!  In closing, J.G. requests our ideas of treats.  Who wouldn’t be delighted by that!  Mine are as bizarre as they are modest, which should make it fun for her.

*  I love Amazon.CA (that’s the Canadian site) gift certificates.  But if J.G. lives near second hand shops and happened upon this mystery volume, a great wish to grant would be this:  “Service For Two” by Kate Kingsbury!

*  I can’t find CD-labelling markers in my city.  It’s as if they stopped producing them but I love making music CDs and need to write on the blank DVDs that back up my files anyway.  A set of coloured markers for writing on CDs!  I’ll bet the US has a lot of stores that still sell this.  All the fun cereals, like “Cookie Crisp” and “Count Chocula” used to be there.  ;)

Speaking of CDs, I could use Maroon 5’s first album “Songs About Jane”.  They have a new one coming too!

*  I love flower seeds!  Whether they grow house plants that keep living in pots, or annuals for summer;  it would be fun to receive seeds from somewhere else.  I offer plant seeds as one of my prize choices.  I already have a lot of Marigolds, cosmoses, bachelor’s buttons, and regular “tall” sunflowers.  The giant “Grey Stripe” and other varieties would be lovely and anything not named here.  Thank you, J.G!  This is generous and fun!

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Carolyn’s “Birth Year Reading”!


I have been happy to discover the wonderful J.G. (whose given name I must ask), the rewarding kind of hostess I strive to be, who takes interest in your contributions and makes you glad you put in the energy to write them.  I joined her “Naturally Reading” theme and have had this birthday year one on my mind.  The criteria are a lot more narrowed, straight to your birth year but other than that, revisiting her post clarifies for me that the rest is as easy as finishing one book.  I prefer to do better than that, so I am looking around our pride and joy, our very generous library of book possibilities here at home!

I am the most enthusiastic birthday celebrator!  I take meaningful pleasure in savouring the magic of mine each November;  with music, friends, and great vegetarian food.  This is another theme for me!  You know my rule, since our personal library of unread books is a large, generous queue:  right?  I use these themes to trot through books we already own, so I can’t cast around for other sources.  However there is a lot of fun shopping to come from within the collection Ron & I have built, that started with my childhood bargain bin purchases at my uncle’s family cottage.  Here are two books I will read.

I know very well the young year 1972 is a wonderful source of literature and music.  I have a third novel on hand but am reading other ouevres by that authoress and preferring spacing her pseudonyms and many heroines out.  Stay tuned for the third alternative I know I will find and perhaps more.  I have a good idea where more good 1972 material is in our reserves, as long as they aren’t far inside a series I am just beginning to read.


“Uncle Robert’s Secret”  Wylly Folk St. John  1972
“Nobody Likes Trina”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1972

February 11th, 2016:
I found my third!  I alluded that there are two others I know of;  by Barbara Mertz, with her Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters pseudonyms.  I want to get along in another Amelia Peabody novel, my least favourite series and after a two year wait, treat myself at last to the second Vicky Bliss, her best series.  I wish it were the longer one.  From Barbara Michaels, there is a 1969 novel that precedes the right one I own.  I read in order, single novel or not!  However with a break provided by a plethora of other authors even over the next couple of months, I can surely fit those in.  I’m not done browsing our home for other candidates.  If prize competition is fierce, it might behoove me to gather my special year now.  Hehehe.  The third separate novel I found thus far, a gothic one, is this!

“The Late Mrs. Fonsell”  Velda Johnston  1972

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Carolyn’s “Mount To Be Read”

I have belonged to Bev’s reading challenges for years and she to mine, in their fourth year.  My newer, fourth theme is “Celtic Coasts“, reprising for its second year!  She wracks our brains with some crazy criteria and particularly this time, has two generalized outlets.  I like “Mount To Be Read” as a full year’s list of every book I read, all of which I review as well.  She does offer prizes, which I have been thrilled to win a few times and I’m sure she knows that, very much like her, it is in my personality to strive for the best I can do each time.  We are not women to choose a level and close out shop when we arrive at that plateau, oh no!  We push higher, which is why she and really everyone in my own groups, make me feel rewarded about creating themes, as well as playing along elsewhere.  Bev would be glad to know her groups are a great part of the reason I track how much I read and fit in many more books than I used to.  I became one of the heavy-hitters, of 125-150 a year.  I will aim for “Mount Everest” right away.

There are rules but we buy in such bulk at charity sales, it is important for me to keep reading.  Because they are physical objects, with recent exception of a few freebies on a PC app (no portable device to make this a comfortable, frequent mode);  second-hand is the only way to afford the authors’ suites and series I have spent my life gathering.  A new release is rare:  new to me if published since 2000.  Although I honestly can’t keep track, it is also a rarity to read something recently procured.  I need to keep pushing forward to stay atop the literary gems of our home but my year’s queue is usually comprised of “it’s about time” material.  How could it not be?  I have been buying in bulk since I was at least 15.  I am no sharp tac with mathematics but I hastily calculated about two years ago that if I read 150 books per year, I probably couldn’t finish what we have in 20 years.  Everywhere I glance around any of our rooms, I behold several books I would love to start reading.  Ron & I have in real life what the heaviest readers store in virtual reality “Kindles”.  If you don’t believe me, watch my blog for a reprisal of my well-received photograph activity:  “Show Me Your Stash”.  Onwards and upwards!

Pike’s Peak:  12 books
Mount Blanc:  24 books
Mount Vancouver:  36 books
Mount Ararat:  48 books
Mount Kilimanjaro:  60 books
Mount El Toro:  75 books
Mount Everest:  100 books
Mount Olympus:  150+ books

Nancy’s Mysterious Letter”  Mildred A. Wirt  1932
Postcards From The Edge”  Carrie Fisher  1987
The Prophet’s Camel Bell”  Margaret Laurence  1963
Emily Carr:  The Life & Adventures Of A West Coast Artist”  Cat Klerks  2003
Escape From Big Muddy”  Eric Wilson  1997
A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
(10)  “Bliss House”  Laura Benedict  2014
“The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943

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Reading Naturally

Now that my groups are started February 1, including colourfully-decorated review pages and my participation posts:  I turn towards other bloggers as a guest!  The distinction of my first this 2017 goes to a new discovery and her year creating it:  “Reading Naturally“.  I saw that my reading would fulfill a lot of J.G.’s categories, enough to join;  as long as the generous prizes are inclusive of Canadian guests.  It matters that anyone offering Amazon gift certificates will e-mail the Canadian equivalent from the “.ca” website instead of “.com” because we cannot use American certificates on our site.  Of course, we wouldn’t buy from their site (I only purchase physical objects) and lose a portion to out-of-country postage.  She reassured me by replying:  “Yes”!

What I notice most strongly is an eager hostess.  This is most important when I consider challenges!  Will they stick with it, take interest in what you contribute;  care to acquaint you?  I put a lot of concentration into updating posts for the challenges I join and would not do it, if hosts and other members did not read them.  J.G. is very engaged and appreciative in a way I hope my guests feel too, because this is always my aim.  I anticipate a sense of community, however small the group.  It is well worth joining.

The subject matter is a pleasure too:  all about animal and nature protection, natural vistas and stories.  Our cats are daughters & sons to Ron & I and our year is happily dedicated to gardening:  food, including fruit and herbs, regardless of our location and flowers galore!  This is a theme fitting me well.  This year especially, I can’t believe how much books I have had queued are uncannily matched!  Here is how my application to her headings looks.  Come back to see what I add, including my reviews.  I am getting warmed-up with 10 books so far!  Here are J.G.’s criteria and categories.

Exposed to nature:  1-3 books
Engaged with nature:  4-6 books
Immersed in nature:  7+ books.

(01)  Written by a giant in animal advocacy, environment protection.
“Lost In The Barrens”  Farley Mowat  1956

(02)  Outdoor activity or gear on the cover.
“The Emily Carr Mystery”  Eric Wilson  2001

(03)  Animal-related.
“The Mystery Of The Gulls”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1951

(04)  Outdoorsy heroine.

(05)  Current Issue:  climate change, biodiversity.
The Prophet’s Camel Bell”  Margaret Laurence  1963

(06)  Water-related.

(07)  New:  published in 2016 or 2017.
(I assume nature-related;  not any 2016 book or novel)?

(08)  Dystopia-flavoured: emphasizing future consequences.
“Timescape”  Robert Liparulo  2009

(09)  Extreme element:  sailing around the world, mountain climbing.
“Women Explorers:  One Hundred Years Of Courage”  Helen Y. Rolfe  2003

(10)  Season-related.
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986

(11)  Plant-related.

(12)  Set in a wilderness locale.

(13)  Spiritual:  emphasizing connection.

(14)  Skills-related.
“Celebrating Earth Day”  Janet MacDonnell, Diana Magnuson  1994

(15)  Advocacy-related:  speaking up for nature.
“Owls In The Family”  Farley Mowat  1961

(16)  Biography, memoir of an environmentalist.
“Who We Are”  Elizabeth May  2014

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Carolyn’s Gentle Spectrums 2017



Happy RIEDEL Challenges renewal!  February 1 is here for my four groups!  May we have a fun year with GENTLE SPECTRUMS 2017!  This is my post for creatively choosing my literature.  I plan, then smooth out this list into finished books with reviews.  I keep categories that will continue to drum up a lot of book possibilities for us but add a fresh batch that will be easy as well.  I always have a lot of colour titles on hand and love matching them for our ten other themes, so please enjoy generous the scope of all eleven!  For some, the content suffices instead of scrounging for title words.

How do you think your reading fits these?  There is no quota and the same colour book can also go into one subject category.  If you are finding several books that match, please sign-up with me by clicking my gorgeous Manitoba portrait above and gather them with us!



“The Red Carnelian”   Phyllis A. Whitney   1943
“The Hot Pink Farmouse”  David Handler  2002
“Shades Of Earl Grey”  Laura Childs  2003




Historic people, content, places, symbols, books set in, or of 1967 and older.

“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  2016

(02)  FOOD
“Sweet Expectations”  Mary Ellen Taylor  2015,
“The Bordeaux Betrayal”  Ellen Crosby  2008

(03)  THE SKY
Elements by day or night, astronomy, spiritual terms.

“Street Of The Five Moons”  Elizabeth Peters  1978,
“Tears Of The Moon”  Nora Roberts  2000

Titles do not need to match this category.  Canadian authors or features will do.
Stronger content than Canada as a brief setting.

“Prairie Ghosts, True Manitoba Ghost Stories”  Lois Forsberg  1988
“The Night Travellers”  Sandra Birdsell  1982

“The Thai Amulet”  Lyn Hamilton  2003,
“Legend Of The Jade Dragon”  Jasmine Galenorn  2004

(06)  MUSIC
Musical words / names do not need to appear.  Books may be about music, musicians, and authored by them.
“The Bells Of Freedom”  Dorothy Gilman  1963
“The Favourite Game”  Leonard Cohen  1963
“Backstage Passes”  Angela Bowie  1993

Titles assocated with “three”.  A third volume, or your third book with an author.  In a series, it could be any volume if it is your third sojourn with that author.
Comment on whether it is a dip or a rise!

“The Missing Madonna”  Carol Anne O’Marie  1988
“Voices After Midnight”  Richard Peck  1989

“Garden Spells”  Sarah Addison Allen  2007

“Mystery Of The Gulls”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1951,
“Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw”  Will Ferguson  2004

“Cloaked In Malice”  Annette Blair  2012
“Shattered Silk”  Juliet Blackwell  2016
“The Roman Hat Mystery”  Ellery Queen  1929


As reviews fill-in, please enjoy following along here:  Gentle Spectrums reviews 2017.

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Carolyn’s CELTIC COASTS 2017



Happy RIEDEL Challenges renewal!  February 1 is here for my four groups!  May we have a fun year with CELTIC COASTS 2017!  This is my post to show how I get along.  I plan, then smooth my list into finished books with reviews.  I long ago gathered most of Maeve Binchy’s oeuvres:  beloved journalist and general fiction authoress.  To my surprise, with nary a ghost or mystery, I love them.  Narrating from an empathetic and quirky perspective, even drawing me in when she shares chapters with several, is the key.  I am impatient about a diversion from one lead character but Maeve crafted intertwined viewpoints successfully.

Contrary to popularity, I disliked Ellis Peters’ and Marion C. Beaton’s openers but will try their sequels.  I heard Marion got better.  I will finally sample Josephine Tey.  I am enthusiastic and need my tri-country reading group, after discovering a rush of new Celtic authors and stories.  Alexander McCall Smith, Nora Robert’s fairy cottage trilogy, and single novels I can’t wait to settle into;  like “The Mermaid’s Song” by Lisa Carey.  No one tires of writing about these magical lands so our posts will be humming.  I will enjoy talking about them with my visitors and guests.  Do you like Irish, Welsh, Scottish authors and themes?  Please click the banner to join me and tell others!


Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984

“Bridge Of Friendship”  Mabel Esther Allan  1975
“Central Line”  Maeve Binchy  1978
“Victoria Line”  Maeve Binchy  1980
“Echoes”  Maeve Binchy  1985
“Into The Fire”  Jodi McIsaac  2013
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“Secret Of Goblin Glen”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1968
“The Trickster”  Muriel Gray  1994


As reviews fill-in, please enjoy following along here:  CELTIC COASTS reviews 2017.

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Carolyn’s MY Kind Of Mystery 2017



Happy “RIEDEL Challenges” day!  February 1st is when my four groups renew.  Here is to a fun year with MY KIND OF MYSTERY 2017!  Do you read them?  Millions do, so I hope you click the banner to join me and tell others!  This is my post to share how I do.  I start with a little planning, then smooth my list out into finished books with their reviews.  This is still the genre I read the most and likely always will but I really do branch out, especially in the years sampling many sorts of Canadian literature and non-fiction.  I enjoy several fantasy series too, which I did not grow up reading.

I’d like to delineate my two favourite kinds, adult ghost fiction / paranormal (which also belong in Ethereal).  Rarest of all:  true mysteries, for adults, based on something mysterious, instead of a plot directly generated by crime.  If you know of these books, please tell me!  One is Lyn Hamilton’s “The Celtic Riddle“.  Below, see my review of Karen White’s “The Girl On Legare Street” to know what I mean.  I search for something like these every time I consider a book.  You might call it “Eclectic Nancy Drew-type plots, for forty year-olds, with ghosts”.  Yes, rare indeed!  It is a joy to find it!  In the quest for My Kind Of Mystery;  this series is perfection!  What are the kinds you love best?


Nancy’s Mysterious Letter”  Mildred A. Wirt  1932
Escape From Big Muddy”  Eric Wilson  1997
A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
“Bliss House”  Laura Benedict  2014

“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  20161
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943
“The Mystery Of The Gulls”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1951
“Mystery Of The Black Diamonds”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1954
“Secret Of The Samurai Sword”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1958
“Secret Of The Tiger’s Eye”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1961
“Mystery Of The Angry Idol”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1965
“Secret Of The Spotted Shell”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1967
“Secret Of Goblin Glen”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1968
“The Mystery Of The Crimson Ghost”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1969
“Secret Of The Missing Footprint”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1970
“The Vanishing Scarecrow”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1971
“Mystery Of The Scowling Boy”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1973
“Secret Of The Stone Face”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1977
“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  2016
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“Death At Buckingham Palace”  C.C. Benison  1996
“Cirak’s Daughter”  Charlotte MacLeod  1982
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Trickster”  Muriel Gray  1994


As reviews fill-up, please enjoy following along here:  My Kind Of Mystery reviews 2017.

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian, Spirits / Ghosts / Haunted | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carolyn’s ETHEREAL 2017!



Happy “RIEDEL Challenges” day!  February 1st is when my four groups renew, so here is to a fun year with EHTHEREAL 2017!  Click the banner to join me and tell others about it.  This is my post to share how I am doing.  I start with a little planning, then smooth my list out into finished books with their reviews.

A few might not contain the metaphysical or fantasy, books in which animals are depicted intelligently (which I call accurate!) or with spiritual backgrounds, like “A City Called July”.  Howard Engel bases this detective case on Benny Cooperman’s Jewish community.  More obvious fare about spirits, psychics, witches etc….  will certainly populate front and centre of this theme.  If you know people reading this stuff, please send them to me!  :)


A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
“Bliss House”  Laura Benedict  2014

“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  2016
“The Darkest Road”  Guy Gavriel Kay  1986
“The Land Without Unicorns”  Vicki Blum  2001
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“Into The Fire”  Jodi McIsaac  2013
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“Owls In The Family”  Farley Mowat  1961
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Dragon & The Dry Goods Princess”  David Arnason  1991


As the review page fills-up, please enjoy following along here:  ETHEREAL reviews 2017.

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No one calls it “clutter” on my turf! ;>

I have been itching to write articles about everyday things and I shall:  belongings.  Several situations culminate in this.  I think of that television show;  useless to Canadians because our stores don’t play those games:  “Extreme Couponing“.  (I loathe the pronunciation “Q-pawn”, don’t you?  It’s KOO-pon)!  It is about saving mega money by buying in cheaply-discounted bulk, staples that you will need later.  You see them with forty packages of toilet paper and other sundries to the ceiling but no one thinks of it as “clutter” because we agree it is wise to grab a discount on things we use a lot of.  Try calling beloved collections “clutter” around me:  you are lucky not to be punched!  [GIGGLE]

Not because you aren’t allowed to reduce your passions to a gadget.  My objection and actually, injury, is due to painting a negative word with one brush.  The decorating theme of our house and accompanying outbuilding is music and books.  It is the conversation piece and feature of our home.  Not only neighbourhood children come to view our outbuilding library and marvel at about 3000 books queued to read!  They bring friends!  Yes, I send them skipping home with gifts.  I intend to sell duplicates and books I don’t like enough to keep from here, which our country town needs.  See Conan & Petal looking out at our library on Christmas day.


I tried explaining my passion to a woman, a Kindle person who hated emptying the houses of two parents.  I understand that is daunting.  My parents would benefit from a sale.  I don’t welcome the chore but they have a wealth of souvenirs.  This woman trivialized my life’s collection by saying:  “That’s nice if you like piling books around you”.  Ouch!  Right!?  I explained (the last time I will bother) that a whole world goes with physical books, over and above eventually reading one of them.  I spent three years seeking Dorothy Gilman’s rare “The Maze In The Heart Of The Castle” and longer, for her autobiography “A New Kind Of Country“!  Eventually I found a spare of each.  I feel joyous about the results of my quests that I see around me.  I remember where I got each of them and feel proud.  It isn’t all internet buys.  We make driving trips for some deals.  Bulk is the only way we can afford many.  We read regularly, the decor theme delights us, and:  IT AIN’T CLUTTER ON OUR TURF!

I left that friendly lady one last counterpoint.  My middle brother and endearing wife have a neat, gorgeous house.  Something about their spare, modern Christmas tree gave me pause.  It is only white wire with lights, on a wall.  Pretty but I instinctively compared it with the stories about the ornaments and garlands on our fluffy tree.  One ceramic was made by a boss.  A couple of ornaments are from a manager who invited me to her team’s Christmas party at home, even though I was a temp!  I never forgot that.  Get ready for this ditty:  a Corey Hart ornament was made for me in my teens!  I befriended that gal only briefly and “his royal Coreyness” is peeling (the baby’s block visible below) but I use it with a smile!  I have photographs of our kittens bundled in certain garlands as babies.  One has been gone two years after heart failure;  the other three siblings are six years-old.


Later, we have eternity to focus on thin air.  We SHOULD value our belongings in the physical realm.  There is an opposite side to closing out a home.  We just experienced it.  Two weeks ago, Ron and his sisters sifted their brother’s apartment.  He had colon cancer four years and is at rest.  He kept to himself and Ron’s sisters are similar;  only visiting at their parent’s house for Christmas and Easter, hours out-of-town.  I found it sad and I think Ron feels it too, that there was little to strongly remember him by.  It is mostly “useful household things”.  There is nothing to help us know him better now either.  Naturally, a functional abode is easier to clean.  I’ll take PERSONALITY and MEMORIES any day, wouldn’t you?  A stranger could visit our threshold and know me.  I clean and give as gifts what we don’t need.  My parents will leave energy on belongings that mean a lot to me and I have a few things of my Grandparents’.

Don’t dismiss the value of tangible items, is my message.  Books, music, and movies are not clutter automatically.  That offends what are proud collections for many of us:  our life’s work of a sort!  Cared for very well and appreciated.  I have an awesome record collection, alphabetized and stored neatly.  I took them out to inventory and enjoy lately.  While they air out I love the way McCartney, our 16 year-old Siamese snowshoe seen here and even younger kitties, find it fun to sit among them.  It is the thought that some records predate me as much as them.  That is another special thing about objects:  they outlive us and the next generations can touch us, through the things we love.  Units with record-players, cassette-players, CD-players all in one and I hope USB ports too, are growing in number.  When I see the right combination, I’d love to have one.  A means to play all of the album formats is not going away.  I have hundreds of 45s too, safely stored like this.


The spartan idea railed against my judgement in another way, when dear friends sold their first house.  A real estate agent said excess things ought to be put away.  I agree.  They claimed there should be no personal cues;  not even pictures.  I disagree loudly!  They got one bid on their listing.  I have no trouble picturing a room’s possibilities with people’s belongings in it and appreciate the ideas.  More importantly, I want to know as much as I can about who lived there!  They passed their home along to us.  There is nothing more personal than that.  It is our home’s history!  We insited on meeting our predecessors, who showed us how the rural filter system worked and which flowers and trees they planted.  I still call certain things “Susan’s lillies”, etc, with recognition of the home they started for us.  I hope people treasure what we built too.

If you are a library-borrower, Kindle, or Itunes-user:  I hope you understand why owning books and things like tangible music albums matter to collectors like me.  Now that I think of it, my records were put away most of my cats’ lives, including McCartney’s, for want of a good turntable.  All of a sudden, I can make sweet associations between my records and them, like this picture shows.  I hope I gave fresh perspectives about moving house:  appreciating the people who lived and loved inside the same walls as you.  When people step inside your place, does it represent you?  Is there evidence of delight in things you love?  :-)

Posted in Bargains / Garage Sales, Book / Novel / Literature, Music | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Checking On Gentle Spectrums

I can’t believe I have had my birthday only two weeks ago and now we have reached December!  Even though RIEDEL Fascination groups go until January 31, with review page links open longer so folks can take their time catching-up on things like this;  there is much to do.  I wrote all four of my update posts October 3rd and rolled each out a little at a time.  There are almost no comments so I’d better e-mail members as planned to tell you the posts have been here, inviting conversation!  For my overall subscribers, there is much more I want to blog about and I will, when reading group posts are attended to.

First up:  I am sorry to not have had the financial resources to do a halfway activity and prize but as it turned out, this year was the leanest membership-wise, thus it would not have been feasible to hand out prizes if only one or two of those sparse people participated.  If I roll out my new group pages by this month, that ought to generate many more guests and participation will be way up as a natural course;  by the odds simply being higher.  Because we are so few and also considering those finances, one end-of-year draw will cover all four groups.  I hope that’s all right.  If I get at least 20 in each group I will resume a separate prize for each.

Up until now, I have kindly put everyone’s names in the bowl, whether I heard from them or not.  It was a way to encourage quieter folks to consider activities worthwhile and to inspire them to rejoin at least.  However it is best to ensure folks are interested.  If you are keen on a second-hand book of your choice, offered with several other nice selections (plant seeds, my own greeting cards, a few CDs, my own photo prints….) please e-mail me:  “Put me in the year-end draw”!  My address switched from Hotmail to RIEDELFascination[at]Gmail[dot]com because it was a hair-puller on slow-speed telephone internet.  Suddenly having to switch e-addresses meant it was no easy feat to gather your names and prepare a notification message from a new location but I believe I have everyone’s contacts ready to go.  I thought you might find these posts in the interim and left notice at the Goodreads group.

It is a shame the comment boxes were mysteriously missing from the review pages, which contributed to the feeling that things were quiet.  For those who need to submit a list of books read for each of our groups, who do not have review links:  please use the comment boxes the sign-up pages for each, or these update posts for each.  Discussions and inquiries can occur on any group page like this too.  While blogspot is fickle for non-blogspot users, I visited many of your reviews at Goodreads.  Whenever I could, I did more than click the “like button” but commented;  which I hope you enjoyed.  Comments mean the world to me because I work hard at everything I write.  That is why I can never just roll out a post.  Each one is an endavour for me.  Non book-related musings are coming soon!

Okay:  people who do not review can submit a list of titles on any matching group blog page or post.
Anyone wanting in on the end-of-year prize draw should e-mail me.
Any posts that got missed, related to books or not, certainly invite comments perpetually!

Last piece of business:  if anyone, in this group or not, has ideas for new Gentle Spectrums subjects:  now is the time to share them.  I need to find a new logo, implement the 10 subjects, and see if any of my software works on windows 7.  I switched from XP and the same software I got used to won’t function on this operating system.  Likely Nero will work.  Now:  here is that update I had ready at the start of October!  It might feel like a year-end chat instead of the interim update it is but I will leave it as I wrote it, instead of pouring over it.  Here we go!


I think it was last year that I started refreshing our categories, despite enjoying the endless possibilities derived from plants and other early themes.  Only a new member posed a question about “Couples, Pairing”.  I meant for it to be as broad a theme as any other but it was awkward to describe.  Are you finding material for it?  If you can’t find much, it’s alright to skip any category you need to.  We are about the pleasure of sharing whatever you read, never feeling sheepish about not getting to something.  That’s why our year-end reward is for everyone:  because there is no such thing as not finishing and because joining any of these groups is all it takes to make me happy.  :)

Do you have favourites?  Have you been surprised to find content easier to fulfill in particular categories than you expected?  I didn’t think I would have much for “Music”, “Fashion”, or “Photography” and I thought I would have to rely on secondary words to get around them.  To my surprise I ended up with books containing “Beethoven”,”Violin”, and “Didgeridoo” in their titles!  In “Literature” I surpassed my expectations by coming up with such direct examples as “Library” and “Languages”.  I imagine everyone is doing well with “Fashion”.

I am thrilled, like I have been in preceding years, that you are continuing to add content to categories you have already fulfilled once.  That’s the other reason I eliminated rules about reaching any specified quantity:  so everyone is a finisher but especially, so that you keep on counting!  When we’re through our quiet year, I will increase the chitchat and game-playing occasions.  We don’t want you to finish a minimum and disappear.

If you have struggled with any category please let me know.  Here is a clarification that will be helpful.  For the following themes, a directly related word does not need to squeeze into a title:  “Music”, “Photography”, “Canadian”.  If you read a photography book, it’s all right to submit any title it might have.  The same goes for music and Canadiana, which can for example, be simply authored by musicians or Canadians.  Does this remove a hurdle?

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A Winter Birthday Reflection!

Happy November and in three days’ time:  happy birthday to me, Carolyn!
This year 2016 has been good.  Legends like Doris Roberts (who isn’t mentioned enough), David Bowie, Glen Fry, and Leonard Cohen have departed but personally:  like a summer without last year’s horrendous racket from neighbours, has been a gift and relief.  Mom is healing from last year’s bypass surgery.  I met my infant nephew last month, visiting from Ontario.  Our weather was extraordinary all year.  A good early spring, plentiful berries and garden produce (our thyme, coriander, and a few carrots still need to be picked), and regular rain.  In a forest, that is a Godsend.  With a town in Alberta flattened by a forest fire, the way Slave Lake was a few years before and a friend mentioning that North Carolina, USA is in danger;  every rainfall made me relieved, never grumbling.  Winter is ushering in without snow and with only a few nights of frost all this way into November!

Freezing means a temperature dipping below 0 Celcius;  the minimum threshhold before sensitive plants would freeze.  To keep our beautiful beaming plants living longer, my spouse & I bring hanging pots and flower boxes inside and cover sections of our flowerbeds with plants that are still going with this sporadic assistance.  It has worked again this year and for those who can guess the triumph of what this means:  we have living hanging plants and flowerbeds, during November in southern Manitoba!  I love them and it makes me smile.  We put the hanging pots and flowerboxes back out and uncover those dear flowerbeds, when the forecast indicates it won’t freeze for two nights in a row.  Since I love helping everything live as long as it can and the brightness of our flowers and landscape lift my soul, we will repeat this sunset work until winter has arrived to the point of there being no more temperatures above 0 Celcius even in the day.

Most have finished growing and are showing the flower petals they still have.  I used to wonder what it would be like to live somewhere that doesn’t take cold breaks for a few months;  to see how long flowers and garden plants would keep on going if there was no cold.  Since last year we have received the blessing of getting a good look at what that’s like and I am happy about that!  Many are fniished but some do seem to keep on propelling themselves in the absence of impediments.  This might be my last warm day, so I am enjoying it and giving everything a good drink of water.  We will be above 0 Celcius all through this week but those degrees are smaller and low overnight temperatures more frequent.  We will enjoy the flowerbeds as long as we can, which are additionally protected by the warmth of our house and library building.  If you know me at all:  you bet our hanging baskets and flower boxes will come into the house and library.

I am having birthday visitors this Saturday and Sunday so I will arrange them neatly if they are inside on those days.  I should share something else that is remarkable and special:  there is a flock of Goldfinches that arrived last week and which is still flitting around!  If our region’s winter birds, like the Pine Grosbeaks, arrive;  it will be a great rarity for these birds to meet!  The first snow fell after my birthday at midnight, on November 18th itself last year.  Let’s see if this is my first non-Caribbean birthday without snow.

To cherish my birth month inside home as well, I am reading books I am enthralled to choose.  I give many genres a chance including classics but November is my dear month, a time to treat myself to the kind of writing I love best.  I also love making CDs of uptempo, fun music that create a lively atmosphere for visiting friends…  or just dancing around for exercise at home!  I don’t make time to walk but dancing, we can do.  Britney Spears and Garbage have new albums and my two-year party downloading project has led me to great new artists.  Films I am looking forward to seeing in the city are Tom Hanks’s “Inferno” and Eddie Redmayne’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”.

I am excited to see which albums and blu-rays Ron wraps for my Friday birthday and Christmas!  Sometimes he labels presents from our cats, even those no longer here;  which is poignant by allowing them to still feel near through our special events.  I thought it would be fun to share this personal update.  I would love to hear from all of you:  what you think of our dedicated gardening and birdwatching, or things you treasure as winter nears.  Happy winter from a November girl!

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Canadian, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments