Sunday, 26 February 2017

Some Odds and Sods

We're still getting the odd snowfall

It's getting near the end of Feb and I'll shortly be updating my monthly reading (going pretty well so far) and my monthly purchases (yes I've bought a few books), but I just wanted to provide an update on what's been going on.

Early this morning but it's been sunny all day so the trees are now bare
Starting off with a normal Canadian synopsis of the weather... I've posted a few photos of this past winter. We've had more snow this year than any I can think of since I moved to the Comox Valley in 2001. It had all pretty well disappeared in the past weeks except for a pile still on the road from where the plow deposits it when he cleans the close. Thursday last week we had an overnight snowfall but it disappeared the next day. Yesterday the missus and I had a lovely day out, went for brekkie and then a wander around downtown Courtenay. It was sunny and warm. Of course, last night it started snowing and was still going strong when I took the dogs out at 5:30 in the a.m. But it's been sunny ever since. It was so warm the snow was falling off the trees like a rainfall. Very neat.

This fella visited the other day
My little bird feeder outside the den is a popular place. Yesterday there was a huge red crested woodpecker eyeing the bird seed. The picture above is an old one but I think it might be the same fella or at least one of his cousins. Scary looking bird..



It's a dog not a sheep.. :)
I took the dogs to the cleaner this past week as well. They were beginning to look like sheep, as you can see from Clyde who is providing me advice above on the proper way to install a door knob on our extra bedroom door.

Bonnie (Sheep #2) checking the new carpeting
Bonnie looked much the same, adorable but shaggy. Fortunately, our groomer had a vacancy on very short notice so on Friday, I took them to the cleaner and they returned looking very nice and clean and groomed. (pictures will follow in next BLog I think)

The master bedroom as a temporary warehouse
From the above pictures, as well, you can see that we have finished painting and also had the new carpet installed. The remaining bedrooms have been storage rooms but we have now pretty well moved all of the furniture back into the room above the garage.

My crafty wife making the window seat
Still some touching up and sorting out to do but it's looking great. Jo found some red material that she decided she wanted to use to add a splash of colour to the extra bedroom; so it's now covering the window seat and the headboard on the bed.

Furniture being moved back in. The room looks totally new
I've slowly been moving books back in and starting to fill the shelves. Still lots of room there. We've got rid of some of the furniture, some will move to other rooms, some we'll sell. There are two new chairs that we had purchased for the kitchen but they ended up being too big. But as you can see, they are perfect for the bedroom.

Still lots of room for more books and other stuff
We will probably switch dressers, move the one from one of the other bedrooms to this room and maybe just sell the one in the extra bedroom. It's one of the last remaining items of my life before I moved here. Anyway, we're progressing nicely. The study has the shelves filled and looks great. This bedroom is 90% done. Next week, Jay and Vicky are coming to do some work in the front hallway. We will be replacing the carpet in the den and probably the lounge and dining room. And Jo is excited about remodelling the small bedroom that has basically become a storage room into a work room for her personal use.

So there you go, more to follow as we fill the shelves and such. Following entries I'll focus on books once again. Exciting, eh? Have a great day!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Snow and Feb Book Purchases

Well, after about six days steady of snow, it's finally sunny and warmer out and slowly melting. The snow has been replaced by rain. Here in Comox we're better off than the interior of BC which I understand is now suffering freezing rain. But it has still been an interesting time for us as we don't normally get such steady, heavy snowfall.


Our backyard has some new visitors other than sparrows and robins
I think it's been a bit trying for some of our feathered neighbours. The ducks that live in a nearby pond and down in the harbour haven't been able to find grass to get a rest from the water. And we've been seeing them about all over the place the past few days. They even took a bit of a break in our backyard on Thursday.

Feeding our friends
I've been spreading bird seed where ever there is an open space, under a row of bushes we've got in the back yard and also on the stump outside our study window.

Hey buddy! Clean the snow off our dining table and put some more seed down!
There have been some fat robins enjoying that area and the sparrows hide out under the bushes. I think today that I saw a woodpecker on the stump. Neat!

One last photo for you. My neighbour, unlike the rest of us in our crescent who have either cedar shake or asphalt shingle roofs, has a steel tile roof. When the snow builds up on it and then the roof warms up, it slides off in one big sheet. You can see the pile of snow that now blocks his front door after the previous few falls.. It's amazing to watch, but not fun to try and shovel. We almost got one but instead decided on an asphalt shingle roof. Good thing, as our hedge would not survive a couple of dumps like that.

Now on to book purchases. I usually only do one per month, but on the 7th, in between snow falls, I went to Nearly New Books while I was out doing some chores and dropped off about 20 books or so. I also found a few new ones. As well, the same day I had a book order from Goldstones in the UK arrive in the mail. So rather than wait, here are the books I got on the 7th.

Nearly New Books, Comox BC

1. Eye for an Eye by T. Frank Muir. This is a new author for me, as most of the books I got were this time. It is the first book in a mystery series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist  of the Fife Constabulary, in Scotland.

"Six corpses have turned up in the cobbled streets of St. Andrews, all known spousal abusers, who suffered the same gruesome fate - stabbed to death in the left eye. But with no new leads left to explore and public censure mounting, DCI Gilchrist is forced off the case.

Why the left eye? With his career on the line, Gilchrist vows to catch the killer alone. But as he digs deeper into the case, Gilchrist fears he is up against the deadliest of killers - a psychopath on the verge of mental collapse."

2. Complicity by Iain Banks. I'm well familiar with Banks' writing, either his science fiction or his fiction.

"A few spliffs, a spot of S&M, phone through the copy of tomorrow's front page, catch up with the latest from your mystery source - could be big, could be very big - in fact, just a regular day at the office for free-wheeling, substance-abusing Cameron Colley, a fully paid-up Gonzo hack on an Edinburgh newspaper.

The source is pretty thin, but Cameron senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago - only to find that the police are checking out a series of bizarre deaths that are happening right now. And Cameron just might know more about it than he'd care to admit."

3. Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. I've read and enjoyed the first two of Cotterill's Dr, Siri Paiboun mystery series. This is the first book in a new series for him, featuring Thai journalist Jimm Juree. I'm looking forward to trying it as well.

"Jimm Juree is an ambitious journalist with a somewhat eccentric family. When Jimm's mother sells the family home in Chiang Mai and relocates, Jimm is forced to follow her family to a rural village on the coast of southern Thailand. Which leads Jimm to the inescapable conclusion: Her career - maybe even her life - is over.

So when a van containing the inexplicable skeletal remains of two vintage-era hippies, one of them wearing a hat, is unearthed in a local farmer's field, Jimm is thrilled. Shortly thereafter an abbot at a local Buddhist temple is viciously murdered, with the temple's monk and nun the only suspects. Suddenly Jimm's new life becomes somewhat more promising - and a lot more deadly.

4. Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly. I readily admit that I bought this book mainly for the cover. The fact that I'd never read The Wind in the Willows also factored in as it is a classic children's fantasy. And, yes, I realise that this not the original author but wait for my next book.. :)

"Jacqueline Kelly masterfully evokes the magic of Kenneth Grahame's beloved children's classic in this sequel to The Wind in the Willows. With lavish illustrations by Clint Young, the venerable Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger are back - and as lovable and charming as ever!"

5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I think it's time that I explored this work. I've enjoyed other children's classics, especially the Winnie-the-Pooh books and luckily my book store had a copy of The Wind in the Willows.

"Finding the secret of the wind is hard enough without Mole wandering off into the Wild Wood and getting caught in a snowstorm or Toad stealing motorcars and landing in jail. Between practical Water Rat and wise old Badger, the four of them manage, after many great adventures and much laughter, to settle down to a quiet roar with an understanding of the wind's song and the Wild Wood."

6. Wycliffe and the Four Jacks by W.J. Burley. The Chief Superintendent Wycliffe mysteries are one those I like to pull off the shelves and relax with, like many others of my favourite mystery series. This is the tenth book.

"David Cleeve lived the way a bestselling novelist should live - in an opulent house set in a beautiful corner of Cornwall. But beneath the successful façade he lived a private nightmare. For at regular intervals a sinister and mysterious warning arrived - a single playing card, the Jack of Diamonds.

The day came when -ominously - the card arrived torn in half, and that night a murderer struck.

Chief Superintendent Wycliffe - on holiday in the area - found himself drawn into the investigation of the murder - which became a double murder, arson, and a series of crimes that stretched back over many years."

Goldstone Books, UK

I tend to order books from on line book shops when I can't find them locally and they've been in my TBR book for a while. The five books below fall into that category.

1. Peace and War by Joe Haldeman. I've been looking for Haldeman's The Forever War for a while now. This book is the Omnibus edition, containing War, Free and Peace.

"War - William Mandela is a reluctant hero, drafted to fight in a distant interstellar war against unknowable and unconquerable aliens. But his greatest test will come when he returns to Earth. Relativity means that every time he returns home after a few months' tour of duty, centuries have passed on Earth, making him and his fellows ever more isolated from the world for whose future they are fighting.

Free - When Mandela returns for the last time he finds humanity has evolved into a group mind called man. Living a dull life in an autocratic and intrusive society, missing the certainties of combat and feeling increasingly alienated, the veterans plan an escape. But when their ship starts to fail, their journey becomes a search for the Unknown.

Peace - 2043. The Ngumi War rages, fought by 'soldierboys', indestructible machines operated remotely by soldiers hundreds of miles away. Julian Class is one of these soldiers, and for him war is truly hell. But he and his companion, Dr. Amelia Harding, have discovered something that could literally take the universe back to square one. For Julian, the discovery isn't so much terrifying as tempting."

2. The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. I either read about this book in the back of one I was reading or it was recommended by one of my Mystery, Thriller book club.

"Vanessa Munroe deals in information: covert information. With an extraordinary intellect and ruthless fighting skills, she will work for anyone - government or individual - who'll pay her.

Now a Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his missing daughter. Where international investigators have failed, Munroe journeys deep into lawless central Africa.

And then things spin out of control.

Soon Munroe finds herself cut off from civilisation and left for dead. Her only hope of discovering the truth - and of getting out of Africa alive - is to face up to the violent past that she's fought so hard to forget."

3. Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White. White lived from 1876 - 1944) and I've looked for her books for a very long time. According to the write-up for this book, she was acclaimed as the mistress of the macabre mystery. She wrote only 15 mysteries. Some Must Watch was the inspiration for the movie, The Spiral Staircase.

"Film director Robert Siodmak took Some Must Watch as the inspiration for his classic, bone-chilling thriller, The Spiral Staircase. In this novel, Helen Capel takes the position of lady-help in a remote country house owned by the Warren family. She learns that a murderer is on the loose. All four of his victims were young girls, and the last of these was strangled in a lonely house just five miles away. Helen feels safe inside the house, protected, but the maniac is closer than she fears."

4. The Book of the New Sun - Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe. I read a collection of short stories by Wolfe and enjoyed very much.

"Voted the greatest fantasy of all time after The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways.

Severian is a torturer, exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his victims, and now journeying to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner's sword, Terminus Est. This edition contains The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, the first two volumes of The Book of the New Sun"

5. The Man with the Cane by Jean Potts. Potts is another mystery writer I've been looking for. I was thrilled when I found this book.

"It all started when Val Bryant took out his six-year-old daughter, Annabelle, for the afternoon. She lived with her mother, Val's ex-wife Doris, now married to rich executive, J. Monroe Ward.

Annabelle happened to mention a man she had met, a man she called Cane. She told Val he had eyebrows like little moustaches, whiskers in his ears, and that he always carried a cane (with which he could swing Annabelle up to the ceiling).

Val might not have remembered her remarks but for a strange and sinister coincidence. That very night he found the body of a man sprawled on the church steps. The man was violently dead - obviously murdered with his own cane. It didn't take Val long to realise that he fitted exactly the description Annabelle had given him of her Mr. Cane.

No one could work out how Annabelle knew him. She had never been left on her own. Neither Doris nor Monroe claimed acquaintance. And Maudie, Doris's sprightly mother, and Barbara, her beautiful sister-in-law, also denied any knowledge of him.

So Val started probing and it wasn't long before he discovered that Mr. Cane, alias Mr. Custer, had an unpleasant hold on nearly all of them."

So there you, all updated. The missus is doing some rearranging so I'd better close this off. 'Til next time we meet.

Monday, 6 February 2017

More snowy pictures!

Mr. Robin enjoying the free food
Just a quickie this morning. I've been sitting in the study enjoying watching this young fella as he perches on the stump outside, enjoying himself/ herself? with the grub I've been putting out for our local birdies. He's not a very generous guy as he keeps pushing the smaller sparrow off. Luckily for them, I've also sprinkled seed at the base of the tree and also under some shrubs in the back yard.

Yesterday we had a respite from our 3 days of snow. But it is cool enough that is not going to go away any time soon.

Pondering the strange crop (snow) circles (lines) that appeared on his driveway overnight!
I shovelled out the driveway last Sunday morning and haven't had to since. The dogs even enjoyed going for their walks yesterday as for the most part, the neighbourhood had shovelled the sidewalks so we weren't plowing through sticky snow and they didn't need to get their feet washed every time the left the house.

It's very pretty but I'm still awaiting the huge lumps of snow that are hanging on for dear life to the mighty pines that surround our neighbourhood. If the wind picks up, we'll be hearing thuds and crashes all day long. I think one of the neighbours had a large branch crash down onto his sidewalk yesterday as I saw him trying to drag it free.

The view from the bedroom over the garage
It's snowing a bit again this morning but for a change the snow seems dry and light. Last night, even with Super Bowl coverage keeping the other American networks from showing anything of interest, we, at least, had some excellent shows to watch on PBS. New episodes of Victoria and Season starts of Father Brown and The Coroner. They were all excellent and enjoyable to watch. And to end the evening, we watched the Swedish Wallander, sub-titled. It has been such a find and each episode seems to get even better than the last one.

Anyway, enough for now. More about books and such in future posts. Have a great week!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

House Renos Update and other miscellany

Since Friday morning, it has pretty well been snowing non-stop. I know that back east this is probably nothing, but I CAME OUT HERE TO ESCAPE THIS STUFF! :0) It's been heavy, heavy snow at times. The plows have been doing yeoman work. They've probably been in our little crescent and development 3 or 4 times since Friday. I'm so impressed how they are staying ahead of it all. When I took the dogs out this morning, during a respite, he was cleaning up our area again.

video
The missus took a video yesterday after I'd just finished shovelling our drive and the neighbours and the snow started up all over. OK, I admit it, we're kind of soft here on the West Coast. But it is difficult to shovel when you just want to throw on your shorts and t-shirt.

Here you go one last snowy photo from yesterday and then I'll move on to our ongoing house renovations.

So last I talked about it, I showed some of the photos of the work that Spinning Compass, aka Vicky and Jay, were doing on our extra bedroom over the garage. The work is almost done there now. We've still got some painting to do; another coat on the ceiling, touch up the built-ins and the bit that links the panelling with the ceiling. Hoping the new carpet will be in by then so we can get that installed and then it's just a matter of moving the furniture back in and stocking the shelves.

After that Vicky and Jay freshened up the skylight at the top of the stairs. (I borrowed this picture from Spinning Compasses Facebook page as it is a great shot.). Basically, the added trim around the skylight itself, installed bead board, trimmed the bottom bit and added a fresh coat of paint. It looks so much better. This wasn't an easy job for Jay. There are so many weird angles and he did it all perched on a ladder at the top of the stairs. It looks so nice coming up the stairs now and seeing it.

Their most recent work has been in the Study (where I'm currently resting my derriere). When we moved in, back in 2003, we took down some awful wallpaper, painted the walls and the ceiling and installed a new ceiling light. The ceiling never looked right. It was a popcorn ceiling and in the past, the tub in the bathroom upstairs had leaked and stained and cracked the ceiling. Nothing we did could get rid of that crack and stain.

Let me backtrack a bit. This is what the study looked like before the previous owners moved out. You can see the wallpaper. It took a bit to get it down.

We made the changes I mentioned above and moved in our furniture after our upgrades. This what it looked like when we first moved into it.

We've reorganised the shelves a few times, bought a nice comfy chair and, as part of a major renovation, replaced the windows. But that ceiling was always a sore point. That's where Vicky and Jay came in.

Once Jo and they came up with the plan for the ceiling, she and I moved most of the furniture (except the bookshelves) and desk out of the room. All the breakable items off the shelves, pictures and wall lights were moved into the dining room. Good thing we have these extra rooms.. lol.

This is one final close-up of the ceiling, showing what I mean about the stain.

So Jay and Vicky got to work, removed the ceiling light and put up the new ceiling.

They finished by replacing the light and Jo and I painted the new ceiling to cover the nail marks and scuffs. We're still in the process of moving everything back in, but we should finish that in the next day or so. While I love the built-ins in the extra bedroom, every job has seemed to just get better. Jo loves this ceiling and I really can see why. I'll add some pictures once we get the room completely back together.

Next up will be some work we want to get done in the front hallway and stairs to the 2nd floor. More panelling and new baseboards are the order of the day. For the next couple of weeks though, we want to finish setting up the bedroom over the garage and the study.

So it is coming along nicely. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rooms all look like when we're done. Next BLog will be back to discussing books. Hey, hey, hey!!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Our Visit to Victoria - Jan 2017

Last weekend, Jo and I dropped the puppies off at our local boarding kennel, Poochies, and headed off for a long - awaited weekend trip to Victoria. It's been over two years since we last headed down island, so we were looking forward to it.

We stayed at the Harbour Towers Hotel, the place that's become our favourite place to stay in Victoria and splurged a bit and got a room on the top floor. I borrowed the pictures from Google, but it gives you an idea of the kinds of lovely views you get downtown.

We had a nice meandering drive to Victoria, taking the old road instead of the newer inland highway. It follows the shore line to Parksville and is nicely scenic and just an overall nice drive. We stopped at an antique store outside of Chemainus and had a nice time wandering around. We didn't buy anything this time but there are always nice things to look at.

Friday night we just stayed in the hotel, relaxed, had a meal we brought down with us. Unfortunately, there was a loud party in the room next door but it was dealt with and it didn't negatively affect our enjoyment of the night.

Saturday morning after breakfast, while Jo relaxed, I had my normal wander around the downtown bookstores. My favourite used book store is Russell Books on Fort Street and I spent most of my time there. I'll list the books I found after I finish this bit. Once I got back to the room, Jo and I went to see a few open houses. We like to imagine what it might be like to live in Victoria. We checked out three places, the nicest being one on Dallas Road. We think that this company, Nickel Brothers, brought the house to the location by ship as a check on Google maps showed that it wasn't there before. The place had been lovingly updated, beautiful kitchen and fantastic master bedroom. It was only $2 million.... (Like I said, we could only dream).

After a wander around Oak Bay, where we picked up some snacks from Cob's Bread, we headed down to Chintz and Company, one of the neatest stores I've ever been in. It's got a bit of everything, dishware, soaps and stuff, furniture, smellies, fabric, etc. It's one of those places you need to wander around. We found a wall lamp that I will shortly be putting up in our newly updated den and Jo is thinking of ordering two bookshelves she saw, for her new craft room upstairs. I hope she does.

Saturday night, we went out for dinner at Il Terrazzo's, an Italian restaurant we discovered during one of our previous visits. We like to try and go there during our trips to Victoria. It's got a wonderful, warm noisy atmosphere. The staff are excellent, the customers are friendly and the food is excellent. Jo had a Fusilli con Sugo di Manao (a lasagna with fusilli instead of lasagna pasta)  and I had a Cioppino, a tasty fish stew. All in all, a lovely evening out with my missus.

We headed home Sunday morning, with a brief stop at Chintz and then picked up the puppies around 4 pm. My oh my, they were filthy and excited to see us. Quickly home, then they were both installed in the tub for baths and basically they slept the rest of the evening. They must have had an exciting weekend. We had a great time, but it was definitely nice to get home and slip into our pyjamas and relax.

Book Purchases

As I mentioned, I did purchase a few books during our visit, mostly at Russell Books. I did buy one later in the day at Ivy Books, when we wandered around Oak Bay.

Just as an aside, let me tell you a bit about Russell Books. Russell Books seems to get bigger each time I visit it. It does lend me hope that the future of real books still is a strong one. It used to have two premises, one on the street side and an upstairs location that was where I spent most of my time as it had my science fiction, mystery and basic fiction books. When I went there last time, the upstairs section had expanded to cover double the area. This time I noticed that there is now also a below the street section with their antique and collectibles. As I said, it is most encouraging to see book stores doing well.

Anyway, with that preamble, here you go, these are my purchases.

Fiction

1. Graham Greene - Loser Takes All. I've become such a fan of his writing the past few years. I've been trying to find his earliest works and have enjoyed exploring his writing. Loser Takes All was initially published in 1955.

"Bertram had no belief in luck. He was not superstitious.
A conspicuously unsuccessful assistant accountant, he was planning to get married for the second time. Quite quietly: St Luke's, Maida Hill, and then two weeks in Bournemouth.
But Dreuther, a director of Bertram's firm, whimsically switches wedding and honeymoon to Monte Carlo. Inevitably Bertram visits the Casino. Inevitably he loses. Then suddenly his system starts working..."

2. George MacDonald Fraser - Flashman and the Dragon. It's only in the past year or so that I decided to try the Flashman series. I had read the first book many years ago and then just never got back into the books. It's an entertaining series, with a rogue for an anti-hero, who gets involved in great adventures.

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman - Abraham Lincoln
Unfortunately, in China in 1860, a lot of people did: the English vicar's daughter with her cargo of opium; Lord Elgin in search of an intelligence chief; the Emperor's ravishing concubine, seeking a champion in her struggle for power; and Szu-Zhan, the female bandit colossus, as practised in the arts of love as in the art of war.
They were not to know that behind his Victoria Cross, Flash Harry was a base coward and charlatan. They took him at face value. And he took them, for all he could, while China seethed through the bloodiest civil war in history, and the British and French armies hacked their way to the heart of the Forbidden City..."

3.  C.S. Forester - The Gun. Forester was a prolific writer. I've enjoyed his Horatio Hornblower books very much and still have a few to finish off for that series. I have read and enjoyed one of his mysteries that her wrote in the early 1900's. I found this book and the next one at the antique and collectibles portion of Russell Books.

"Like Mr. Forester's Death to the French, this is a story of the Peninsular War. 'His best works,' wrote Sir Hugh Walpole, 'these two military episodes are remarkable for their vividness and common sense. He writes like an eye-witness.'
This is a book without a hero - or rather there is an impersonal character - an eighteen-pounder siege gun which has adventures enough to satisfy the most exacting reader of adventure stories, and it makes its appearance in the theatre of war at a moment when circumstances are such as to make its use decisive."

4. C.S. Forester - Death to the French.

"In this exciting story of the Peninsular War Rifleman Matthew Dodd gets cut off from his regiment, and has to fend for himself with the help of a group of Portuguese peasants. The story of his struggle and bravery, and of the French Sergeant Godinot's efforts to restrain him make this early novel of Forester's one of his best."

5. H.H. Kirst - The Revolt of Gunner Asch. I've read a few of German author H.H. Kirst's books. He offers a unique perspective of WWII. I especially enjoyed his Night of the Generals. I found two of his Gunner Asch books at Russell Books.

"Gunner Asch was fed up with his brutal barrack-room companions, with his Nazi bosses, and with the horror and stupidity of the coming war. Also because he was seeing far too little of his girl.
But what can one man do against the mightiest army in the world? It is a known fact that every army has its weak spot. So Asch found the Wehrmacht's - and struck hard!"

6. H.H. Kirst - The Return of Gunner Asch.

"The war was over for Germany, and for Gunner - now Lieutenant - Asch. It was particularly over for Asch's men who had been killed in a last foolish battle - fought solely to let a German officer escape with his loot.
So Asch had one piece of unfinished business, vengeance. And in the ruins of Hitler's Germany, he outwits Nazis, black marketeers and Occupation Forces in a tense, deadly manhunt."

Science Fiction
I have enjoyed getting back into Science Fiction and Fantasy the past years. I found a few interesting books that I had on my list of  'I want to try' books.

1. Alfred Bester - Golem100. Bester is a newish author for me. I have read one of his books previously and enjoyed.

"In a mega-city of the future...
They were nice ladies, really. Just bored. And they never expected to succeed. But intoning ancient rituals to raise the devil, they unwittingly began a rampage of rape, torture and murder. For  they concocted a new demon: Golem100. And the Golem continues to grow...
Tracking the monstrous path of depravity are three super talents: Gretchen Nunn, beautiful, black master of psycho dynamics; Blaise Shima, her brilliant chemist lover; and the shrewd policeman Subadar Ind'dni. Their hunt takes them into real and subliminal worlds of dazzling intensity, through the heart of the collective unconscious and beyond... where they battle for their souls and for the survival of humanity.
But even these three super intelligences are up against their limits. For now the Golem has acquired a new identity. And the Golem continues to grow..."

2. Roger Zelazny - Damnation Alley. Zelazny wrote one of my favourite fantasy series, The Chronicles of Amber. I've wanted to try some of his other works. This one looked interesting.

"Damnation Alley: three thousand miles of radio-active wasteland, torn by hurricane winds and giant fire storms, the domain of mutants and monsters, a wasteland few men dared to cross.
Hell Tanner: the last Angel left alive, his gang wiped out in the Big Raid that destroyed most of America. Hell Tanner, the only man in California with a chance of getting through Damnation Alley to Boston with the plague serum the ravaged city needed to survive."

3. Philip Jose Farmer - Dare. I was looking for Strange Relations as I'd seen it highlighted in the back of one of my other Science Fiction books. They didn't have that, but this one, amongst all the others on the shelves, looked very interesting.

"No fraternising with the natives...
Earthmen had first landed on the planet Dare three hundred years before, but they were still bound by the same standards of snobbery and fear.
Yet Jack Cage, eldest son of a wealthy human farmer, found himself strangely drawn to the native inhabitants of the planet, spectacularly beautiful humanoids whose rich, magnificent hair grew down to the base of the spine. To consort with one meant death, he realised. But why? Was it merely a matter of prejudice? And what were humans doing on the planet anyway?
These were questions which plagued Jack, and which were avoided by his fellow Earthmen, but he felt they were questions which could be answered by one of these sultry, glamorous aliens - if only he could win her trust."

4. Clifford D. Simak - Cemetery World. I've previously read and enjoyed Simak's City (a book I plan to revisit this year) and The Werewolf Principle, both excellent books. I've wanted to try more of his work.

"Carson the Creator - Loose on a doomed planet.
Fletcher Carson has come on a journey of high purpose to an unwelcoming world, accompanied by a sentient machine, an ancient, powerful robot and a treasure-seeking beauty on a quest for a mysterious and vital bounty.
But here is hostile terrain, where their footfalls call the Wolves of Steel to the hunt - where the bitter landscape never carries them beyond the reach of ephemeral beings called...The Shades."

Mystery / Thriller / Spy
I've fleshed out some of my favourite series and also found a couple of books by new authors.

1. Louise Penny - The Cruellest Month. This is my one new book that I found at Ivy Books, a neat little shop in Oak Bay. It's the third book in the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. How I wish that CBC would make another movie based on the 2nd book.

"A vast abandoned house. A chilling séance. A sudden death. To Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, it's the stuff of an old novel - but when he discovers the victim was murdered, a sinister shadow falls over the town of Three Pines...and an old secret, buried deeper than the dead, returns once more to haunt the living."

2. Len Deighton - Horse Under Water. I have enjoyed the Deighton books I've read so far, e.g. The Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin. He has a different style to le Carré, but they are both excellent spy authors.

"The depths of perfidy are sounded in this taut, technical story of a bid to back a revolution with counterfeit money lying in a sunken German U-boat"

3. Margaret Millar - Beyond This Point are Monsters. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Millar has become one of my favourite mystery writers, along with writers like P.D. James and Minette Walters. Not to denigrate all of my other favourites, mind you. I've slowly been gathering her books. I've found each one to be excellent and different.

"Young Robert Osborn was a successful California rancher, a happily-married man with a beautiful, devoted wife. he walked out onto his property one night to look for a lost dog and was never seen again.
Devon Osborn couldn't help but believe her husband was dead: the police had found traces of his blood in the bunkhouse, and a possible murder weapon was discovered in a nearby field. But Robert's strong-willed mother was convinced her son was still alive and she was more than ready to prove it. The two women met head on in a California courthouse, determined to settle the mystery of Robert Osborn's whereabouts. Their search for truth would ultimately subject Devon to an ordeal of unspeakable horror!"

4. Colin Wilson - The Schoolgirl Murder Case. This is one of the new authors I thought I'd like to try.

"'Body of a young girl, probably between twelve and fourteen years of age. Death apparently due to strangulation with white plastic-covered flex, tied around the throat with three knots..'
A straightforward case of rape and murder? Some aspects of the case puzzled Chief Inspector Saltfleet. But not even Saltfleet suspected his investigations would draw him deep into a dark labyrinth of sexual magic, perversion and devil worship..."

5. Howard Engel - A City Called July. This is another series that I started many years ago but then neglected. The Benny Cooperman mysteries are always entertaining and fun to read.

"'I was thinking about a noisy glad-hander like Geller taking the Jewish community of Grantham for two point six million dollars. Why should a guy like Geller come into money like that, while I pick up nickels and dimes looking through people's keyholes?'
There's something missing from the long, hot summer that Canadian detective Benny Cooperman can't quite put his finer on - something that blowing the dust off otherwise perfectly good paper clips doesn't solve. Then his rabbi arrives with the news.
Larry Geller, upstanding citizen and prominent lawyer, has riled his address as Nowhere and packed a cool two million dollars of other people's savings to help with the moving party. Now Geller is probably salted away in a distant country, sipping long, cool drinks and laughing up his sleeve. Benny takes the case. After all, when did he last have a long, cool drink?"

6. Ruth Rendell - Wolf to the Slaughter. This is one of the Inspector Wexford books. I've enjoyed the first in the series so far.

"It was better than a hotel, this anonymous room on a secluded side street of a small country town. No register to sign, no questions asked, and for five bucks a man could have three hours of undisturbed, illicit lovemaking.
Then one evening a man with a knife turned the love nest into a death chamber. The carpet was soaked with blood - but where was the corpse?
Meanwhile, a beautiful, promiscuous woman is missing - along with the bundle of cash she'd had in her pocket. The truth behind it all will keep even veteran mystery fans guessing through the very last page."

7. Eric Ambler - Cause for Alarm. Ambler is a writer I've wanted to try for awhile now. I was looking for A Coffin for Dimitrios or this one.

"Marlow was a young innocent, deeply in love - and in terrible trouble. The job he was taking on was more dangerous than he could imagine. The man he was replacing had been murdered, brutally run down by a car accelerating violently in the fog of Milan...
Now Marlow was catapulted into the deadly world of foreign agents where he would become a target of convenience - and lose his innocence in gunfire and a surprising nightmare of suspense and violence."

8. Agatha Christie - Nemesis. This actually came in the mail between my last BLog entry about book purchases and this one. I've been looking for Nemesis for awhile and my sis-in-law kindly sent it to me.

"In utter disbelief, Jane Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr Rafiel - an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels.
He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intriguing.
Soon she is faced with a new crime - the ultimate crime - murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remain buried."

So there you go, our trip to Victoria and book purchases. Loved going to Victoria and look forward to our next trip there.

As a final note, it's been snowing since around 8 this morning. Steady, steady and everything is white, white and more white. I think we'll be staying indoors today.

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