Mystery Thrillers Anyone?

A rainy day! Perfect for reading!

Where shall I begin today? Am I in the mood for a mystery? Perhaps a mystery thriller that calls up ancient rituals and rites in far away realms?

simon toyne 1.JPGTake ‘Sanctus‘, for example, one of those books I am reading right now. This one intrigued me the moment I read the overview in GoodReading:

An explosive apocalyptic conspiracy thriller from a major new British talent that will set the world alight…
The certainties of the modern world are about to be blown apart by a three thousand year-old conspiracy nurtured by blood and lies …

kate mosse 1

And then I was reminded on another writer’s mysteries that engaged me; these I recommend to those who like the mystery but not the horror. Kate Mosse has enthralled me with Labryinth, and Sepulchre and I love the evocatve imagery on the covers.

Oh but what about The Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper the second book in the trilogy. Maybe I want to read that one again or perhaps search for some of his newer ones. I really admire a writer who can transport you in time and place and thrill you in the discovery of yet more shocking secrets – those that mankind has never before seen. I love these titles, found on Glenn’s fabulous web site. The Resurrection Maker, The Devil will come, Near Death, wonder what they are all about.

The thing that I struggle with is not having the ability to read several stories at the same time! Plus, as you may realise by now, I am easily distracted.

So I plan now to go back to reading. Stop writing about reading, just do it!

This has been prompted by the ‘regular posts on a theme’ from Blogging 101. Perhaps my ‘On Reading’ posts will become just that? And it was also inspired by a comment on my post – it occurred to me that others might like to try the books I have read. Look for my latest book I am reading  on the left at the very bottom of this site.


Getting lost in a good book!

What do you like to do in the summertime? That was a question posed at our Toastmaster meeting last night. Members and guests responded enthusiastically on the topic and shared myriads of pastimes. This prompted my thinking about my own favourite summertime pastimes and I volunteered one of my own.

Getting lost in a good book!

Now I usually have 2 or 3 print books on the go at any one time, plus one or two more ebooks on Kobo or Kindle apps. I often borrow ebooks from my local library through Borrow Box by Belinda digital. I love to see my books in bookshelves; I pile them up on coffee tables and select a few to keep beside my bed! I subscribe to GoodReading and BubBooks, and I often purchase books online through the Book Depository. How about you? What are you reading? Where are your books? Post a comment, I’m interested.

I like to skip from one story to another depending on my mood and location. This may be a ‘brain programmed’ activity from one who is used to leaping about in technology; from a laptop, to an iPad to an iPhone; from recorded movies on Foxtel to the latest offerings from Netflix. Or maybe it is a known trait of Geminis?

I am easily distracted it seems and have the concentration span of a flea! Did I regress somewhere, sometime – back to my youth? In summertime it does not really matter much, the days are my own and I stretch them to fit my reading. Occasionally I might look up and wonder if I should be doing something else! Is there a meal to prepare, some shopping to be done or was I meant to be somewhere else? The call of a good book overrides all these and hooks me into another world.

the river houseThe latest book I am lost in is The River House by Janita Cunnington. It is a new release and one that I believe will surprise and engage readers who love stories of Australian living and family intrigue.

In my opinion this has all the right ingredients for a movie. I would put it on a par with The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham!

Product Description

THE BOOK CLUB PICK OF 2016! The River House is a spellbinding debut novel, resonant of childhoods past and the beauty of the Australian countryside.

It is the late 1940s, and the Broody River runs through a maze of sandbanks into the Coral Sea. On its southern bank lies the holiday town of Baroodibah. But its northern shore is wild – unsettled except for the River House, an old weatherboard box on stumps where the Carlyle family take their holidays.

For four-year-old Laurie Carlyle the house and its untold stories fire the imagination. It is a place of boating trips and nature collections, of the wind howling, the sheoaks sighing and the pelicans soaring into the blue sky.

But when a squabble between Laurie and her older brother Tony takes an unexpected turn, she detects the first hints of family discord. As the years pass, the River House holidays seem to shine a light on the undercurrents in the family: the secret from her mother’s past, the bitterness between Tony and their father Doug, and her sister Miranda’s increasingly erratic and dangerous behaviour . . .

Following the family’s story through the decades, The River House is a richly nostalgic novel about love and betrayal, personal tragedy and thwarted ambition, illusion and remorse. Above all it is about change, and the slow but relentless march of time.

“Evocative, deeply Australian and beautifully written. A treat to read” Susan Duncan

To find out more about The River House head over to GoodReading.
I have carved out a few hours this summer for getting lost in this good book!
I will come back to the Blogging 101 each day for that too is keeping me occupied with summer reading of another kind.

Come share with me and I can link with more blogs from avid readers!

Reason to Believe | The Daily Post

6cm-optical-crystal-globe-paperweight-87966-pIn Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?

Source: Reason to Believe | The Daily Post

My reason to believe is embedded in my roots;

the past that shapes my future;

My reason to believe builds a stronger pathway;

the future that binds my past;

My reason to believe brings hope in darkest moments;

the present that rules my life.

Reason to Believe

This Prompt Post took me down a ‘spiralling rabbit hole’ of music, using Reason to Believe as the search string I plumbed the depths of YouTube for a little more about the song.

Rod Stewart

Karen Carpenter

Tim Hardin (Composer)  Reason To Believe (original) Lyrics


Using Videos

One of the daily tasks earlier in the course encouraged Blogging 101 participants to embed a video.

Below are a few videos I have chosen for helping learners in the process of creating a video. I have subscribed to TechSmith in YouTube for a range of these useful video tutorials. There I was able to access their playlists and selected Tips and Tricks.

I have edited the embed code to vary the sizes of the playing windows for each one and centred on screen.

Video Tip Series #1: Recording a Video

Video Tip Series #2: How many Videos do you need?

Video Tip Series #3: Recording your screen


Blog Notes!

Reflections on Days One to Ten!

I did have several blog sites that I used for various projects and purposes! During my participation in Blogging 101, I have been able to delete those that are no longer relevant and focus my attention on those that are!

Blogging 101 has focussed my journey into WordPress with renewed information and I am glad I chose to join the challenge for January 2016.

The Daily Tasks have steered me in the right direction for:

  • managing my blog and all its components
  • commenting on other’s blogs
  • linking to other blogs of interest
  • organising my pages and posts; widgets and Themes
  • learning again about the power of blogging!

I now have a clearer approach to the tasks involved in blogging. Thank you Blogging University.



William Adrian Allery, my late great uncle, spent many hours and pounds in searching for his ancestral link to the Angell Estate. William was a Master Tailor with money to spare for his genealogy searches, much to the dismay of his immediate family. He had at last found evidence of the marriage of Elizabeth Benadict Angell to his 8 times great grandfather, Samuel Allery.  The news of his find was all over the newspapers of the time and has intrigued me for years as I follow in his footsteps. It was the discovery of an entry in an old parish register in Dartmouth that leads him to do extraordinary things. I pick up his story as an old man in his eighties, in that moment in time when he retraced his heritage back to Dartmouth and the old Townstal Church of St Clement’s. I have imagined that he kept journals of his exploits and that I was sent these notes along with the news articles, as part of my inheritance. The second part of that sentence is true, I have copies of those articles – they are the spark for this creative story. This is William’s journal entry for December 1924.

Chapter One: December 1924

I was tired and dusty from the long train ride from London to Dartmouth. The station platform was almost empty, except for a few porters vying for business among the meagre crowd. Spotting a large white card with the word ALLERY in large letters held by a tall, thin man wearing a pinstripe suit and bowler hat; I pushed my way through the milling porters to reach my guide. Walking briskly out of that oppressive steamy station we climbed into the black cab waiting for us. Black clouds were brooding over the township and I was glad to be heading to the countryside of my birth.

St Clements DartmouthAs we drove to the parish church of St. Clement, Townstal, my pin-striped guide gave the history of the old 12th Century building which had served the small village for centuries. Irritated with his diatribe, I sat silently nodding. I knew St Clement’s history already, I was back in my home town.

“After the Reformation years it is difficult to find reference to St. Clement’s beyond the list of successive Vicars and the record of Baptisms and Burials. We do know, however, that the church must have formed a valuable strong point comman­ding the only route down to Hardnesse, our present main road not then existing.” He continued to babble on. I wished I had not hired him at all.

“I am only interested in the parish registers and any references to marriages between my ancestors in the 18th century”, I said, rather too loud. After that, all was silent in the cab.

St Clements Altar.jpgOn arrival at St Clement’s, I hastily paid the cabbie and the guide and jumped from the cab. Rushing through the iron gates, I reached the entrance and pushed open the carved wooden doors. The feel of the wood made my fingertips tingle. I gazed down the nave to the beautiful stained glass window and walked forward to the altar, peering from left to right at the small, but beautiful church. Memories from my childhood came flooding back

I remembered my own cold words the last time I had stood here with Sam, and the funerals of our lost siblings.

Six headstones, all in a row!

‘Another cold, grey weeping day!’ I thought to myself as I put on my best black suit again.

‘Mother is too weak to attend this time!’

‘Poor little bugger, never stood a chance. Just one day in this world and he’s off to another!’

My Dad and I, we heft that sad little coffin easily onto our shoulders, and together we walk the black mile, again. It doesn’t take long to gently lay James Frances Allery in his grave! All is quiet!

Six headstones now, stand neatly in a row in the cemetery plot. Elizabeth 1847-1849; Alice 1849-1851; Louisa 1851; Henry 1852; Frances 1853 and James 1854.

Rain has gathered in puddles and the wind has whipped the tears from our faces. Young Samuel and me, we just stand and watch as our weeping Dad kneels in the mud with his head bowed. I show Sam how to throw small clods of freshly dug earth onto the coffin; and we listen as it scuds and thuds across the shining lid.

‘I’m never going to bring a child into this dreadful world!’ I whisper to Sam. He just huddles closer to me and shrugs his coat close around himself. His face is grey and he is colder than sorrow.

‘You’ll be going back to St Mary’s tomorrow!’ I say to him as I take him squarely by his thin shoulders and look hard into his reddened eyes.

‘Me, I’m going into town and find me a job!’

“The Altar is unique. It dates from James I and may have replaced an older one dedicated in 1318 AD by Bishop Stapledon of Exeter, on his only visit to Dartmouth”, said the Vicar “Are you the gentleman who wishes to view the Parish Register?”

William was startled out of his reverie. “I am indeed”, said William eagerly, turning around in surprise to see the vicar standing right behind him.

St Clements Font“Are you interested in the baptismal records too?” asked the vicar, pointing to the ancient stone font. William was then beaming with great excitement.

“Come, let me show you where the ancient registers are kept, in the crypt.” Said the vicar.

Finally, back in St Clements, there’s more to the Church than I remembered. The vicar was striding ahead of me, looking over his shoulder and beckoning me to follow him down a stone staircase.

All I could do was whisper “Yes”! My eyes grew accustomed to the gloom of the crypt as I trod the stairs cautiously, all the way to the bottom. We were in a large marble pillared room in which I could see several ancient tombs and effigies of people past. This was new to me. I had never ventured this deep into the Church.

To my left, a sliver of yellow light glowed beneath an old iron doorway. The light billowed out as the vicar turned the ancient ring handle and opened the door. I smelled the faint odour of mildew. I stepped into a small chapelry and saw shelves of old registers, organised chronologically, all gathering dust. In the middle of the room was a small raised dais on which was a reading lectern with a small lamp. One old register was already on the lectern, opened at a page with a small white bookmark. My blood was thumping in my temples and I felt clammy and faint.

“I believe you will find what you are looking for on this page,” said the vicar leading me to the dais.  The pages were filled with rows of faded ink inscriptions; the marriage dates and names of many Dartmouth parishioners. I scanned the chronological list following it all with the tip of my finger, until the name ALLERY almost leapt off the page. The second last entry!

24/1/1710: Samuel ALLERY & Elizabeth BENADICT

Angell and Allery

“The concept of accepting others’ writing into your blog is a brilliant concept. A collaborative project like this would appeal to connected educators and students and would make a powerful contribution to the blogosphere. You have inspired me to follow your lead and create a learning activity that uses this concept. Thank You!”

Comment January 14, 2016 for Amra Ismail‘s blog post.

Since then I have noted a few other blogs that invite collaboration and my thinking has changed favorably towards the use of blogs, in particular collaborative blogs, for sharing thoughts, ideas and challenges for students in online courses. Prior to Blogging 101 I was naive about the impact of social blogging; only ever having subscribed to educational blogs and rarely keeping up with them. I would send a link of an interesting blog, to friends in Facebook or take note of the latest and greatest e-learning strategies currently being used by my peers. During Blogging 101 I have learned the power of collaborative learning once again, this time ‘through the blogs brightly.’

When I read Amra’s post about contributing to the enriched Perfect The Days blog, I was hooked on the idea of using collaborative blogging as an online activity for learners in my courses.

This is my plan!

Encourage Club Officers in Toastmasters to share their ‘learning journey’ or their ‘learning take aways’ during their year in office by contributing to a collaborative blog! I thought that it may be too complex to have the enrolled learners create their own blog in the blogosphere and then try to connect them, although that certainly would be possible.

Therefore I plan to open up a shared ‘blog’ tool inside my course and direct them to posting their ideas in there. The MOODLE environment is ideal for such an activity as the Blog tool is already built in. The added benefit is that entries need no further intervention by the facilitator, and can all be accessed from the Blog Menu available in the side menu of the course.

As for the content of the shared blog posts, I would be suggesting the following for my learner club officers!

blog instructions for coto.JPG