Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year 2011 Precedes a New Age

This photo is of the Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park, Alberta.

As 2010 comes to a close, I sit looking toward another year wondering what it will bring. As with most matters it is best to look forward with a clear mind and fortitude for whatever comes forth.

Being an avid astrology buff, the New Year brings with it planetary changes that will benefit all the signs. This is the forerunner to 2012 when the Age of Pisces gives way to the Age of Aquarius in the latter part of December.

2011 will hallmark the path toward a new age brimming with new ideas and a new consciousness, not only for our planet, Earth, but the entire cosmos. It is a time of change from 'self' to a heart-centred consciousness where love is the answer for all things. A caring for others, be they people, flora and fauna, or even intergalatic travellers.

For those who recall 1969 and the music by the Fifth Dimension: The Age of Aquarious

For a peek into your yearly astrological sign provides an overview for 2011. An alternative site is Planetary Rhythms.

Photo Credit: whipstar CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings

This is the Flathead Range in the Crowsnest Pass on Highway 22 in British Columbia.

The last several weeks have been fraught with internet connection problems and hopefully once Mercury Retrograde is over things will be easier.

This is the time of year I look forward to, to reflect on the season and the meaning behind the holiday. It's a special time of sharing and giving of oneself for the benefit of others.

Again, I'm having Christmas dinner with friends and am really looking forward to stuffing myself. I hope your holiday is wonderful and fulfilling.

Photo Credit: tipkodi-CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall (Book Review)

From inside flap:

“Murder is no laughing matter.

Yet a prominent Indian scientist dies in a fit of giggles when a Hindu goddess appears from a mist and plunges a sword into his chest.

The only one laughing now is the main suspect, a powerful guru named Maharaj Swami, who seems to have done away with his most vocal critic.

Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator, master of disguise and lover of all things fried and spicy, doesn’t believe the murder is a supernatural occurrence, and proving who really killed Dr. Suresh Jha will require all the detective’s earthly faculties. To get at the truth, he and his team of undercover operatives—Facecream, Tubelight, and Flush—travel from the slum where India’s hereditary magicians must be persuaded to reveal their secrets to the holy city of Haridwar on the Ganges.

How did the murder weapon miraculously crumble into ash? Will Maharaj Swami have the last laugh? And perhaps more important, why is Puri’s wife, Rumpi, chasing petty criminals with his Mummy-ji when she should be at home making his rotis?

Stopping only to indulge his ample Punjabi appetite, Puri uncovers a web of spirituality, science, and sin unique in the annals of crime.”

This is Tarquin Hall’s second book in the Vish Puri, most private investigator, series. The first book The Case of the Missing Servant was very successful. The story begins with vivid detail to provide the reader with the feeling of being present in Delhi. The heat is palpable combined with the customs within the Indian culture. As with the first book there is a glossary to provide explanations for meanings for unfamiliar Indian terms.

Vish Puri continues to sneak snacks throughout the day despite his wife, Rumpi, providing a lunch. The detective continues his habit of a voracious appetite while at work, eating delectable snacks, of various descriptions, that expand his waistline and ease his tension.

Vish Puri, a 50-ish man, follows a traditional role rather than a modern one, often reflecting upon the social and political structures of Delhi and India such as “India’s recent economic rebirth”. It is this theme that reoccurs throughout the entirety of the book.

Mr. Hall provides thorough though brief glimpses at the history of India to reflect the current conditions including political corruption, and how the characters relationships interact within that framework.

The investigation leads Vish Puri to the Godman, Maharaj Swami, who runs a spiritual centre. This centre, the Abode of Eternal Love, is located in the foothills of the Himalayas. There, Swami’s clientele pay exorbitant sums in an attempt to reach enlightenment. Puri’s investigative undercover team, Facecream and Flush, infiltrate the spiritual centre with the intention of finding “proof” whether Swami arranged the death of Dr. Sha, and more particularly, how the levitation and disappearance of Kali was done. There is a scene where Facecream learns a vital lesson about healing herself, which in itself contradicts Mr. Hall’s inference throughout the book that spiritualists are nothing more than conmen.

However, the endings for the investigations into Dr. Sha’s murder and Rumpi and Mommy-ji’s “kitty party” theft are plausible. There were several hilarious portions throughout and some tense moments. It’s a good read and should content anyone looking for a cozy.

Review copy provided by Lucinda Blumfeld.

Book format: hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author website: Tarquin Hall
Available: June 1, 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon (Book Review)

From inside flap:

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his compassion and arouse his desire.

But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere.”

The Exile, a graphic novel, is a new addition to the Outlander series. Some of Ms Gabaldon’s avid fans may find several of the scenes depicted as being too revealing, such as enhanced bosoms in provocative costumes. This is the nature of this type of book.

That said, the story is presented in a shortened form while following the major plot points. New insights are revealed through the viewpoints of Jamie Fraser, Murtagh and Gellis Duncan.

Every reader has an image of what a character’s appearance is from the description provided by the author. That image carries over from book to book and grows as the character changes. The illustrator, Huang Nguyen, has done an excellent job of portraying the characters in appearance and historical detail. Several of the scenes that caught my attention were the opening of a stormy sea and rugged shoreline, the end of a carrot sticking out of a horse’s mouth, the wild boar, Scottish building exteriors and one of Jamie riding a galloping horse on a saddle without a girth.

This was an enjoyable read for a couple of hours while allowing me a new glimpse at another’s interpretation of a favourtie saga.

The review copy was kindly provided by Cassandra Sadek of Random House.

Book format: hardcover, 208 pages
Publisher: Random House
Author website: Diana Gabaldon
Illustrator’s webite: Hoang Mguyen
Available: September 28, 2010