My Trip To Calgary

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This is the first in a series of entries about my recent trip West. This post will be about the flight, my in-Calgary transportation experiences, and my hotel. I will also be doing one on the When Words Collide conference in general, one on the panels I spoke on, and one on the sessions I sat in on.

I left home mid-morning on Thursday August 10th and arrived in Calgary around 2pm local time. It was a fairly empty flight and West Jet was clean, prompt, and professional. Their staff was friendly, and while I had no special needs (wheelchair, children, etc) I watched them handle all their customers with care and respect.

I had done some research before leaving and planned to take the bus to my hotel. The signs in the airport made it easy to find my way out and I ended up right where I needed to be to buy my bus pass. I caught the next 300 BRT and was on my way. I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk a few blocks, stretch my legs, and take in a little of downtown Calgary, then onto the C-Train (201) which was so easy to use. I’m from a little big-city so we don’t have anything like the C-Train, no subway either. From the C-Train station I wandered down to the bus stop and asked one of the drivers which bus I needed to get to the intersection I was looking for. They pointed me to the right bus (Transit drivers are amazing people) and I was dropped on the hotel’s doorstep. Took me close to 2 hours instead of 40 minutes but it was cheaper than the cab and super easy.

I stayed at the Delta Hotel, the Calgary South location. Checking in was a breeze and they upgraded me to a king-room. The room was clean and had all the necessary comforts. I settled in, got myself some snacks from the Wal-mart across the street, and spent some time at the pool. They have a great water slide with a pool and hot tub in the Tower building and a second pool and hot tub in the Atrium building.

The Delta is actually two buildings with a road between them but there’s a skywalk on the third floor. There are signs pointing to all the conference rooms and back to the elevators. I got turned around a few times but only because I was texting and not looking up!

The lunch bar they had available for conference attendees was delicious. And I had dinner at the pub next door the one night (Boomtown Pub), their pizza is fantastic.

My only complaint with the room, okay, there were two things. One, there was a shower but no tub. I’m assuming this is because I was in a king room and if I got a double with my husband and kids there would be a tub to bathe the wee ones in. 2 – my room was freezing and adjusting the in-room thermostat seemed to do nothing. Considering how little time I spent in my room it was a small complaint.

Checking out was just as easy and there was a cab on hand so off to the airport I went again. Security at the Calgary airport was slower than at home but it is a bigger airport. Still, wait times were not unreasonable and the staff was efficient and friendly.

I was on a full flight headed East but again the staff was friendly and the flight was clean and on time.

I was nervous going on this trip. I was travelling alone to a city I’d never visited before and I wasn’t there to stay with family or friends. Everyone I dealt with at the airports, on the flights, and at the hotel, including house keeping, was polite, friendly, and helpful. It made the trip much easier, and far more enjoyable.

Review: Alamir: Blood of Kaos Series

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Alamir is the first book in the Blood of Kaos Series by Nesa Miller. This is an urban fantasy series that deals with demons and multiple realms.

What I like is that the pacing is steady with a good mix of sexy romance, dominance plays, and violence. Seriously, it plays out like a great TV series. You jump right in with just enough back story to keep you from being completely lost and then you get pieces along the way – some pieces make the story clearer, others make it more confusing. But confusing in a good way and answers come along often enough that you know the author intends to answer everything in her own time.

What I don’t like are the names and the misspellings. Kaos instead of Chaos. Names like Inferno, Spirit, Faux, Darknight … I know, it’s urban paranormal, this is the norm, these are the signals to the reader that it’s a demon story, but I don’t like it. That being said, it wasn’t enough of an issue to make me put the story down.

And while I don’t like the “destined to love each other, complete each other” reason for those two characters being together, she’s a strong woman who has made it very clear that if/when they sleep together it’s going to be on her terms. She forces him to be honest and vulnerable, forces him to respect her, and I like that.

This book stands alone as a single adventure with a goal which is achieved. But at the same time it sets up nicely for the sequel which will be out in the next year or so.

Overall I give this book 3.75 stars out of 5. The writing is very good and it’s gotten some amazing reviews so if you like this sort of story, with powerful brooding heroes and demons evil twins, read this book, you’ll love it. That’s the beauty of books – there’s something for everyone and if this is you’re thing you’re in for a treat.

Review: Transverse

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Transverse is a poetry book written by Theo Ashford and is a companion to his “memoir” Transform. One can be read without the other, I haven’t read Transform yet.

Transverse is not a long book but it was very moving. Each poem was unique and captured a distinctive emotion or moment. Theo relies strongly on images of breaking, shifting, change, emptiness, and confusion to illustrate his own personal journey.

He has provided an honest look at one person’s journey of discovery, one that is on going – at least that’s the sense I got from these poems. There was a sense of being stuck in the middle of a fight – he shares the things he struggles with, and against, and in doing so highlights where the world is failing.

As someone who identifies as “hetro-normative” in pretty much every way I really appreciated being able to read this book. It opened my eyes to the inner turmoil, yes, but it also shone a light on how people like me are failing at being supportive.

Definitely a glowing 5 our of 5 stars from me.

Review: The Bloodstone Reckoning

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The Bloodstone Reckoning is Mike Wigington’s debut novel – an epic fantasy for teens and adults.

The main character of the novel is Tabitha Millhouse, the daughter of a miller in a small town. The story begins on Tabitha’s 15th birthday. She lives with her father, her mother is dead, and her father will not speak of the past. Today, being her birthday, Tabitha pushes the issue, causing a fight that sends her running from the cabin and into the thick of the plot.

As well as her father there are two youth in town roughly her age, Faylyn, the daughter of the goldsmith, and Macon, the son of the black smith. These are Tabitha’s friends. Tabitha also meets an old wise woman, an Earth Mother, in the woods. This woman, Baba, becomes her friend and teacher.

There are powerful forces at work in this world and an evil lord from a far off country seeks an ancient and evil relic that he hopes will grant him immortality. Thus the stage is set.

Mike has created a detailed and rich world for his story to play out in, one that feels real and vivid. His descriptions are never tedious and add life to the story. The characters, while simple, are still fun. Tabitha is the stubborn tomboy. Macon is the sneaky troublesome boy who is attracted to her in spite of her weirdness. Baba is the wise woman. Tabitha’s father drinks away his heart ache and seeks above all else to protect his daughter. Lord Drake is charming and powerful, a man who simply craves power.

I love a rich fantasy and this certainly falls into that category. There are multiple forms of magic, many secrets, and a sense of urgency to the story.

I would like to congratulate Mike Wigington on a stellar debut and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Lover’s Blog Hop


Today I am hosting the Book Lover’s Blog Hop. Each day of August a different author will be hosting the QUESTION OF THE DAY on their blog. I invite you to check out posts 1-8, and to head over to the rest of the blogs throughout the month. Here’s the schedule:

1st August
2nd August
3rd August
4th August
5th August
6th August
7th August
8th August
9th August
10th August
11th August
12th August
13th August
14th August
15th August
16th August
17th August
18th August
19th August
20th August
21st August
22nd August
23rd August
24th August
25th August
26th August
27th August
28th August
29th August
30th August
31st August


Jordan 300dpi
Just B. Jordan

I don’t do anything super cool. I just organize by genre and author, putting my favorites in the most accessible spots. 🙂

Brandy Potter
Brandy Potter

By collection really and then by height, tallest to largest. I have a library corner in my bedroom. I have very old books (one from 1834). Those and classics occupy the top shelves. Then I have my series authors, Eddings, Tolkein, Riordan, Rowlings, Graham, Doyle, Lewis, Snicket, Christy. Again by height. Next contemporary artists. Grouped by author then height. Last non-fiction grouped by category.

Jo Linsdell
Jo Linsdell

I don’t really have a system as such. I tend to organise by size, and genre. Books from a series always go together, and I try to put books by the same author together too.

Skye Hegyes

I have three different categories. All my non-fiction is on one shelf sorted by topic and then book size. Then I have mass market paperbacks sorted by author’s last name. The last is all tradeback books and hardcovers, again sorted by author’s last name. It works for me, but I need more shelves.

Belinda Bekkers

I change them from time-to-time. Currently they’re organised by the book’s cover colour. Sometimes it’s by genre, height, or whether they’re read/to-be-read.

Laurie Lucking Author Headshot
Laurie Lucking

My top priority in organizing my bookshelves is to make them look pretty 🙂 I do try to group by genre a bit, but mostly I put books by the same publisher together and books that are the same size together so they line up nicely.

V.L. Jennings

I sort my books by type, how much I like them, and then by size. It is absolute sacrilege to put books in a series separate from each other. The home improvement books never go next to the Fiction books. The books that are the prettiest or those that I love reading the most go near eye level. It’s sorta complicated.

Jebraun Clifford
Jebraun Clifford –

We’ve got bookshelves in every room of the house except the kitchen and bathroom. Even boxes of books we’re storing in the attic for my daughter! (breaks my heart to keep them there, but we literally have no room for another bookshelf!) I try to keep everything tidy and in it’s approximate genre. That’s as much as I can manage.

Karina Fabian headshot Aug 2013
Karina Fabian

The family bookshelves are organized by genre and author. I don’t have my personal ones up yet, since we just moved into our new house, but there will be a shelf for friends’ books, a shelf for mine, a shelf for writing, then a shelf for my favorites by author.

C. J. Brightley

The main bookshelves downstairs have all the fiction books organized alphabetically by author’s last name. The bottom shelves hold books to be read (in no particular order). The books in the arts and crafts area in the basement hold all the non-fiction books grouped by topic, and one shelf has young adult books we own that my daughter isn’t quite ready for yet.. The bookshelves in our bedroom hold library books, books I’ve borrowed from friends, and books next up on my TBR list. My children both have their own bookshelves, which are always disorganized, although we try to keep their library books on the bottom shelves.

And me?
My big bookshelf is organized by size first – books go on the shelves where they fit. Then each shelf is sorted by author and series. I have a second shelf that has my photo albums, oversized books and text books. There’s also a shelf in the basement with kids’ books which is sorted by reading level.

Thanks everyone for sharing! I hope you’ll take the time to visit some of the other blogs on the tour.

Review: Wendigo Whispers

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Wendigo Whispers is Alex McGilvery’s first thriller and it is officially being released today. Set in a fictional small town in Northern Manitoba, the story follows Leigh and her husband, new-comers to town, as they unravel the mystery that is plaguing the failing town.

The town was once prosperous, until the ore in the mine ran out and the big money left town. Things have been sliding downhill ever since. You meet a lot of very interesting characters in this town, some quirky, some friendly, some dangerous, some just misguided.

The main character, Leigh, hears voices and is on some very potent medication. This makes her both a sympathetic and empathetic character. She’s passionate and dedicated to her class (she’s a teacher).

The story features a lot of Cree culture. Now, I’m not an expert in any form of Native American culture but I do have family and friends who are Native American and it seems that Alex has done some research and has certainly treated the Cree characters in his story with respect.

The story itself walks a fine line between traditional thriller and supernatural tale. There are little side stories woven into the novel making it a story about the town and its people, not just Leigh vs the bad guy.

I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down. I stayed up way too late just to finish it, and I’m glad I did. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, and to reading more of Alex’s works.

Wendigo Whispers is available TODAY so if it sounds interesting to you, you can be one of the first to read this gripping tale. I know I give it 5 stars.

Review: The Prussian Lieutenant

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The Prussian Lieutenant was originally written in German by Karl May in 1845. It was translated into English by Robert Stermscheg in 2009. The English translation is available digitally and in print through Amazon.

This was our July pick for the Steinbach and Area Book Club.

This is a whopper of a book. 379 pages at a 6×9 trim size. I loved the feel of it. A good, solid book is so satisfying. And the font is not large so if you like larger print opt for the e-book.

Set during the German-Russian occupation of Paris in 1814, it was “historical” fiction when it was first written, and even more so now. In comparison it would be like someone today writing a book set in the 1980s, maybe not quite historical yet but certainly “retro”. As a work of historical fiction it falls in the same category as other classics (such as Emma, Pride and Prejudice) which were contemporary when written but have been on our shelves for so long they have become historic. These books offer us a unique view into the past. In some ways it is clearer, more accurate, and in other ways far more vague. Who among us would explain in detail how something day-to-day works? Like bathrooms or e-mail? Similarly Karl May would not have included such mundane details for his contemporary audience. Robert Stermscheg has done a wonderful job of clarifying such details for us in the translation notes included in the book (notes which I did not include in that 379 page page-count).

The story centers on Prussian Lieutenant Hugo von Lowenklau and his adventures in Paris. He rescues Margot, a young Parisian woman and becomes entangled with her step-brother, Captain Albin Richemonte. Helping Hugo are Margot’s mother and Lowenklau’s superior officer, one Field Marshal Blucher. Albin has the assistance of Baron de Reillac. This cast of 6 is the core focus of the book, other characters mainly being lower ranked soldiers whom the main six cross paths with and a few other minor officials.

The small cast size makes it easy to keep everyone straight and you become intimately involved with each of them. You feel a deep connection, positive or negative, to each.

This is, at heart, a love story, but is full of intrigue and humour. Blucher is by far my favourite character and he adds so much lightheartedness and intensity to this story.

In some ways this book feels cliched, but you have to remember that it was written before whatever other book it is reminding you of. Like other books of its time-period, it is BEFORE cliches were cliched.

It took me FOREVER to read this book the first time. I would read a chapter or two and set it down, but it was never out of my mind. It just took me that long to unpack and digest the level of detail in this book. And yet the pacing was remarkably balanced. The tensions in the plot were resolved with ingenuity on the part of the characters. Motives remained consistent to the characters’ personalities. The time period was authentic and so rich in detail that you felt you were there.

Robert did an excellent job of keeping the steady pace and authentic feel of this story while making it easy to read and understand. His notes were helpful and interesting.

5 out of 5 stars to both Karl May and Robert Stermscheg.

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