Monday, October 28, 2013

Curling up with Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth

With only thirty-two pages left to read, I had to put Elizabeth Ruth's novel Matadora aside. Life happened and commitments and interruptions were distracting me from a good read. The writing is excellent−descriptions poetically detailed. I was transported in time to a place where dust tickled my throat and my breath quickened at the snorting of bulls in their pens. Yes, I was enjoying the book too much to rush through the ending. That’s strange coming from me−the one who impatiently flips to the last chapter because I just NEED to know the ending NOW. Shameful to admit, but I’ve even read the last chapter first. Just sometimes.

I cured myself of these habits, or maybe my readers cured me. ‘Were you shocked to learn that the killer was her deranged father??’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘actually, I accidentally read the last few paragraphs of the story first.’ Arrggghhhh! Serves me right, though. So, out of deference to the author, I no longer spoil the rhythm and pace of a well-written book.

Though crime/suspense is my favourite read, Matadora, published by Cormorant Books, is not of that genre. Something else that sets it apart from my ‘go to’ books is the setting−Spain and Mexico. Foreign settings are not usually favoured by me. So why am I reading it, you ask.

Elizabeth Ruth, Author
I had the pleasure of dining with the author of Matadora, Elizabeth Ruth, at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. My first impression was of a woman impeccably groomed, cool and confident, possessing an air of graciousness. In reading Ruth’s novel, I recognized the same proud carriage and qualities in her main character Luna, the courageous Matadora. Fleetingly, I wondered if Elizabeth Ruth always possessed these characteristics and passed them on to her protaganist, or whether Luna instilled them in her creator. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

At dinner, Elizabeth Ruth asked me what I liked to read. I need a good story, I told her. Even when the writing is great, the book is a disappointment if the story is lacking. She reached into her bag saying, this is a good story. She handed me her copy of her latest novel. Fortunately, I was immediately impressed. Can you imagine if I thought the cover was boring and the storyline sucked? I’d never make a good poker player. So it was with relief (for both of us) that I was immediately intrigued. I love character driven stories and I correctly suspected the 1930s story of a young female bullfighter would be filled with passion and courage. The enthusiastic testimonials on the book cover cinched it for me. I’d be ordering this book when I returned home. I couldn’t wait to read it. Which brings me full circle.

Thirty-two pages to go. The house to myself, a hot cup of Tetley, a warm fireplace, and Elizabeth Ruth’s Matadora...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cuddles, Coos, and other Writerly Distractions

'Do you love sitting with mommy? Do you? Tiki leans into me purring on all cylinders. 

As quick as that, I was reminded of those television commercials of the cat owners cooing to their pets. In one case the conference phone line is still open, and in another a woman is on the floor with her pussy cat while a little girl stands in the open doorway waiting for payment of the cookies she’s selling.
17 yr old Tiki with her summer lion cut

Tiki, her summer cut outgrown and her fur long and silky again, kept meowing at the side of my chair. Her paws tapping my leg. Yes, I forgot to close that heavy oak door which allows me peace and quiet to work. Finally, I reached down and lifted her onto my lap. Hence the conversation I felt obliged to share with you.
A little purring and a short cuddle wouldn’t hurt anyone but it did manage to distract me. First it was the thought of those hilarious TV commercials−what were they selling anyway, cat food? Not sure.

But this coo and cuddle distracted me from my current project, the re-working of a memoir. An undertaking that has been going surprisingly well. (Think about it, here I am blogging instead of, you know, working.)
17 yr old Tiki

 I’m trying to play catchup with my work. I took a few days off for Thanksgiving (Canadian, eh) and the fall fair. There were a couple of appointments, and then a shopping and movie fix with my bestie, (awesome boots and jeans, and oh, the purse−love the purse, and I really enjoyed seeing Rush) and finally I’m back at the desk.

Tiki’s left the office now. That’s the way it is with cats. They come, they disturb, and they leave. Sometimes she wakes me in the morning, jumping on the bed, walking across my sleeping body, and crying–which is how I describe her meows−until I’m fully awake. When I get up, she curls into my spot to sleep. At times when I’m on the phone, people mistakenly think her mewings are a baby crying.

She’s back now, again tapping and screeching until I snuggle her in my lap.  She has food and water. I know that for certain.  I cleaned her litter box last night. So what’s her problem? It’s okay, I can type with her on my lap. I’m doing it now, but she never stays put. Pets are so much like children.

I have to chase my dog around the house to get her outside but the minute I’m on the phone, she goes to the door and whines. So what’s with that? When my pets were younger they’d wait until I got on the phone to chase each other. Around my ankles! Until I’d excuse myself from the phone and put the run to both of them. I love them dearly which is why they’re allowed to continue interrupting my work, demanding my attention, and …hey, I guess it’s not so different than having kids around.

I’d better get back to work. Only two more days and it’s Nana day!! J


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Giving Thanks for the Little Things

I am Thankful...............................


I am thankful for a child’s embrace

A baby’s hand curled around my finger

And the tickle of Tiki’s fur against my cheek

The smell of freshly squeezed lemons

Clean sheets and fresh towels

And the fragrance of my granddaughters’ hair

The smell of a campfire

Lake air after a rain

Cedar cuttings and new mown grass

The aroma of perked coffee

Stew simmering in a pot

And the familiar smell of my dog

The sound of crickets and tree frogs

A little girl’s giggle

A train whistle at dusk

Rain spatters against the window

Rumbling thunder

And his whisper in the night

I am thankful..............................

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay’s The Accident is a flashlight- under- the- covers kind of a novel. No way are you going to put this book down until you’ve read every page.

I’m not going to tell you what happens to the book’s main character Glen Garber that sends his life into a tailspin. You can check that out on the cover. (Hint – it was an accident)

Loved the prologue. Some publishers say that prologues have no place in books anymore. I say they do. They should be right at the front. Barclay’s prologue is ingenious. You read far enough into the story that you forget all about the prologue and then it becomes one of those a-ha moments. Gotta love that. The prologue was a great way to jump into the action immediately to grab the reader’s attention. Then the first chapter moves forward at a slower pace – but not for long. Before you finish that cup of tea, you’ll be chasing after Garber as he races towards the truth.

It occurred to me that the author sacrificed several good books by using up their story lines in this one. Lots of characters and subplots that could have held their own.

There were so many twists and turns that it felt like a rollercoaster ride. Believe me, I devour a lot of suspense and I can usually read between the lines, see something coming, and find stuff that doesn’t fit or make sense. While I was reading The Accident, that didn’t happen. Heck, I couldn’t even find a typo.

A few different times, I thought I’d figured everything out and then actually chuckled aloud at being left hanging in midair – knowing I’d been duped. Nothing predictable about this plot. What a rush! An absolute masterpiece for all you whodunit fans. Barclay manages to interweave all the connections until they seamlessly mesh. 

Another admirable trait is the development of the characters – characters are so important to me – and the realistic dialogue. Man, he really nailed the dialogue. Nothing turns me off faster than reading something that you know is not a natural fit. I admit to being a character and dialogue nitpicker.

Barclay is a master plotsman. Is that a word? It is now. He makes it look easy. It isn’t. Just when you think the story is over – you lurch over another bump and turn the corner. Just when you think you’ve figured out whodunit – you haven’t.

Even those last few pages had me thinking Could she? Will he? The entire book was an adrenalin rush for me. If you like thrillers as much as I do, it’ll be a winner for you too.

Tell you what, do not start reading this book until you put the cat outside, feed the dog, and turn off your cell.

The Accident by Linwood Barclay. Don’t take my word for it. Get it. Read it. Now.