Hurray! It’s a holi-holiday #personalproblems

Vacation

When you’re reading this I’m hopefully somewhere high in the air.

I haven’t been away since I started my blog (in February 2016) but the last months have been very stressful. I might do another post about that, maybe later (and before you even think it, no I’m not pregnant.. it seems it’s the first thing people think). Anyway I just needed to get out of it. I can’t relax and let my worries go and I hope I’ll be able to do that when I’m away.

Being me is quite hard though because I can never decide, it’s one of my issues and it doesn’t get easier getting older. A simple example is that I have to decide what to wear the day before because I’d never get to work in time otherwise, it would take too long to decide in the morning. I guess I always fear losing something, making a bad decision… I decide a lot by tossing to make it easier or I buy two things so I don’t have to choose. Going on a holiday means making decisions as well. Choosing a destiny, filling a suitcase, deciding what books to take, what to do there.. I can tell you that I wasn’t looking forward to this.

So it’s no surprise it took me months to decide where to go. I started with paging through two different catalogues and came up with a clean list of 10 hotels and destinations: Thailand, Sri Lanka, Curaçao, Cape Verde, Ibiza, Krete, Chalkidiki. My international passport is expired though and I don’t want to go too far or too long this time so I went with the European destinations.

But I came at a big standstill then, left it for a month, thinking about it but not being able to cross off any more and then – surprise surprise – I finally booked (two weeks ago). I didn’t choose any of my wishlist that I poured over and thought about for a month or two though but I chose one of the last minutes on a tour operator’s website instead because frankly ‘there wasn’t a lot of choice’ :-). Anywaysss, I think it’s time for the big reveal… I’m going to Kos!

The name Kos is first attested in the Iliad, and has been in continuous use since. Other ancient names include Meropis, Cea and Nymphaea and Lango or Langò, presumably because of its length. In Italian, the island is known as Coo. Also, did you know a person from Kos is called a “Koan” in English?

Of course now I already regret not picking a destination with lots of lovely bookshops, and a big airport with lots of books.. I was only thinking about the sun at the time, I don’t know where my head was! Anyway, I’m going to make the best of it and maybe share some pics on Instagram if I can.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve got a catsitter (my dad) who’s coming to stay over and watch Poes because I wouldn’t be leaving at all if she didn’t have the best care there is.

So there you go… I’m going on a hiatus for the first time ever. I don’t know for how long either because I might extend it a bit after my return, I really need some time off of everything in life. I have a blog tour post that I had already signed up for and but other than that I have no blog posts prepared so you’ll see me when you see me! Take care lovely people!

PS I picked 3 paperbacks to take with me (and an ereader full of books). How many paperbacks (Kindle is too easy) do you take with you on holiday? Also, if you have any tips about Kos, I’d be happy to know. 

Vacation vibes

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia #BlogTour #Extract

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia. My thanks also to Quercus Books and Ella Patel for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have an extract to share today of the initial meeting of the two main characters, speech-therapist Maya and Lucas, the boy who went missing with his father 10 years earlier. If this sounds as interesting to you as it did to me, then do read on!

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There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Purchase

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Author

Mindy Mejia is an internationally acclaimed thriller writer, known for mixing compelling characters with page-turning suspense against the backdrop of the US Midwest. Her books have been chosen for People’s Best New Books Pick and listed in The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries. She lives and works in the Twin Cities.

Connect

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Extract

The patient faced the back of the room with his hands on the cement block wall in a push-up position. From the way he stood with his shoulders tensed and legs braced it looked like he was trying to move the entire wall. I took a step closer and noticed his hospital shirt was torn at the bottom and he’d used the missing strip to tie his hair back.

‘Hello, Lucas.’

He remained still for a second, but then surprised me by turning his head. I saw his face in person for the first time.

He wasn’t a boy.

My brain stuttered on that one thought for what felt like a stupidly long time as our eyes met and held. Why did all the media keep calling him a boy? Lucas Blackthorn looked at least as old as me and stood a foot taller. His cheeks were hollow and shaded with the beginning of a beard. His skin was a deep reddish tan, not the pasty white of most of our long-term patients, and his eyes conveyed things that no first session speech therapy could have drawn out: intelligence and caution mixed with undisguised curiosity.

Moving slowly and deliberately, I walked to the bare mattress between us. There was no table, so we’d have to start the flashcards on the bed. He watched my progress, studying my hair. The short, pixie-cut combined with its dyed color grabbed a lot of patients’ attention. One of the men in ward two, a lifer named Big George with a traumatic brain injury, even liked to touch the ends of it that swished in front of my ears. I made sure he stuck to the left side so he didn’t get distracted by the tiny silver hoop earrings along my right ear. Lucas noticed those, too. I watched him catalog every part of me, absorbing the appearance of this outsider to his room, like someone would analyze a newly discovered insect. His gaze paused on the blue fabric bag I carried, his expression unreadable now.

‘I’m Maya.’ Three syllables. Slow rate, distinct pronunciation.

I didn’t smile. I’d never trusted strangers who smiled at me – they always wanted something.

Patting the place where my pulse beat too fast, I nodded and said it again. ‘Maya.’

He swiveled back toward the wall, dismissing the insect. I glanced behind me where Stan was shaking his head through the lead glass. Shrugging, I started to pull out the flashcards when suddenly Stan’s face changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a warning I couldn’t hear.

I hesitated and before I could turn around, a giant force threw me into the wall and something was being looped around my neck.

The metal door shrieked as Stan wrenched it open and I was pulled back, my body turned into a human shield. The thing around my neck tightened and I panicked, unable to breathe. Lucas had my arms locked behind me in an impossibly strong grip. I fought against it, desperate to free myself.

‘Keys,’ he said in a hoarse voice. I bowed my body against his,

trying to find some slack in the cord around my throat, but met only a column of unyielding muscle. If anything, the cord grew tighter.

My vision started to contract, black creeping in at the edges.

I kicked viciously, striking his shins so hard they should have snapped in half, and used the rest of my oxygen in the process. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was Stan’s hand, holding out his ring of keys.

*** Don’t forget to check out the other stops of the blog tour ***

Leave No Trace blog tour poster updated

 

New BFF: Another Book In The Wall

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I think I have the youngest blogger in the history of this series in da house today,  I’d like to give a warm welcome the lovely Kelly to the blog! Don’t be mistaken though, she knows the ropes alright and I believe you and me can still learn a thing or two from her ;-).

Kelly’s wonderful blog is called Another Book In The Wall and it looks very pretty, you don’t notice at all that she’s an organized perfectionist haha (no offence Kelly, I’m jealous really!). She has a few bad reading habits, that we’ll all recognize as well (book hoarding, but anyone who isn’t one raise your hand). I totally love her Blogger Questions because they ask all the questions that I’ve been wanting to know: how much time you spend on blogging, how you request physical ARC’s, what unique visitors are on your blog. Whether you are new to blogging or not, they’re always interesting to read and I think my favorite blogposts after reviews. Anyway, hop on over to her blog but not before you read her answers to my questions below ;-).

QandA

Name: Kelly Costigan

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Age: 17 🙂

Birthday: July 5

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job? I don’t have a job at the moment, but am currently studying Dental Hygiene at my local community college.

Dental hygiene

Do you have any other hobbies? I absolutely love playing piano – I have been playing for around 5 years, and although I’m not the best, it’s a part of me. I’m also a huge fan of watching anime. I haven’t seen many series, but have been obsessed lately with My Hero Academia and Made in Abyss!

Made in Abyss

Your favourite color? I adore burgundy and any shade of blue!

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Do you collect anything (besides books)? Mistakes. 🙂 Haha, just kidding. I’m not much of a collector, but I do love printing out and keeping photos.

What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it? I’m not sure what novel I have held the longest, but if I had to guess it would be one of my Junie B. Jones books. If so, yes! I have read every book in this series multiple times!

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Have you ever regretted a book you purchased? A book that sounded so promising but you wished you’d have spent your money on another book after reading it? I can’t think of any book I’ve bought and wound up disliking, but I have purchased a few paperbacks, without realizing that I already owned the e-book! Hahaha.

Do you listen to audio books? Not typically, but I would be open to!

Do you have a favorite genre? I love YA fantasy and contemporary!

What is the book highest on your wishlist right now? King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo.

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Quote Leigh Bardugo

Kings of Scars

How is your library organized? I have it perfectly color coordinated, except for my top shelf which holds books on my tbr!

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Do you read more ebooks or physical books? Definitely e-books!

Do you have a favorite book? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak!

Review: Why you should read The Book Thief

5 Reasons That Will Make The Book Thief Your Next Read

What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of? I truly love the cover for Renegades by Marissa Meyer.

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Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …? Physical copies I believe are a little over a 100, and I have around 200 ebooks! I’ve regretfully barely read half of these! Haha.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased? Save the Date by Morgan Matson.

What was your favorite author when you were a child? Barbara Parks – those Junie B. Jones novels were the definition of my childhood!

From which author do you have most books? Rick Riordan. I own the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, plus Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, and The Demi-god Files.

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times? Yes! The Book Thief have read I believe three times, and I’ve reread the Lunar Chronicles

The book thief

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already? I have 75 books on my challenge, and have miraculously read 55! I’m over half way!

Can you spell your name with the first letters of titles in your book case ?

King’s Cage – Victoria Aveyard
Empire of Storms – Sarah J. Maas
Legendary – Stephanie Garber
Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo
Your Name – Makoto Shintai

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In case you missed it, here are a few of the BFF’s (Blog Friends Forever) I posted about before :

Liis – Cover to Cover
Danielle – Books, Vertigo and Tea
Betty – Bookish Regards
Anais – Zeezee with Books
Nicki – Secret Library
Donna – Chocolatenwaffles’ Blog
Chitra – Books & Strips
Annie – The Misstery
Dee – Novel Deelights
Tina – Reading Between the Pages
Delphine – Delphine’s Babble on Some Good Reads
Lisa – Rambling Lisa’s Book Reviews
Diana – A Haven for Book Lovers
Norrie – Reading Under The Blankie
Lynne – Fictionophile
Lorna – On The Shelf Reviews
Vera – Unfiltered Tales

I don’t want my BFF club to be complete just yet! There’s still room for plenty more so give me a shout if you want to be added! 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green #BookReview

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‘It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.’

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

amazon uk amazon com

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I was very excited to read my first John Green novel and I thought I was going to love it since I really like YA mystery and the mental health issue also sounded quite interesting but I’m afraid I didn’t fall in love with the plot nor the characters.

A lot of it is probably due to never having felt a real connection with Aza, the person this whole novel is actually about. She’s not a very remarkable character except for what makes her different: she suffers from obsessive thinking. I think it’s great that this condition is brought under our attention but it was quite hard to understand and often sympathise with Aza. I did make some progress towards the end of the novel in regards to knowing how she is as a person and what the consequences are for her but it still wasn’t easy to grasp. I know novels are sometimes too rosy-colored and they often make problems go away or mental illnesses resolve themselves and I don’t like that but I would have preferred to see some progression, something to be really happy about for Aza. The only people evolving are her friends and the reader and she seemed to remain at a standstill. Maybe that’s the whole point of the novel too but even so, she could have showed perhaps a bit more how to deal with it properly and how to live her life happily instead of only highlighting the problems. This way it was definitely not a good news show.

Unfortunately the mystery part of the missing billionnaire was also only a small section of the novel. It really wasn’t what the novel was about and wasn’t followed through. I believe it was just a way to get in touch with Davis as there wasn’t happening much with the plotline. As for Davis himself, I quite often felt sorry for him and his little brother. The spiralling thoughts Aza is having also impact her personal life and relationships and the poor guy is of course caught in the middle when he tries to connect with her.

Turtles All The Way Down was sometimes a YA story and sometimes almost lyrically philosophical. There are plenty of wonderful one-liners that really spoke to me and make you want to get into a highlighting mode. Green uses metaphores aplently and one of Davis’ qualities is quoting poets and using their quotes to refer to his own life. I liked it but it was all a bit much sometimes.

It was disturbing to hear Aza’s spiralling thoughts and seeing that she can’t break those thoughts, telling her what to do if she doesn’t want to be killed by bacteria. C. diff. is her her greatest torment and she goes very far in her thought process.

I wouldn’t read this novel again but in the end it created more awareness for me and I’m sure everyone who reads it and I’m grateful for that.

I won a paperback copy of this novel in a blogger’s giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Resin by Ane Riel #BookReview

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Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities think.

Her father knew he was the only one who could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing.

But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her Dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way her Dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents.

This way, Liv would be safe.

amazon uk amazon com

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This novel was emotionally devastating! Yep I’m dropping that d-bomb right away. I feel it’s my duty to warn you right now that it’s totally going to creep up on you and shake you up by the end of it. Seriously, I didn’t know what I was diving into but this is quite a sensational story.

The very first sentence of the novel was instantly debilitating and I knew there was a captivating but harsh story between these pages to be discovered. The novel was very atmospheric, the remoteness, the isolation from the town and the mainland tangible between the pages. I mistakenly thought this novel was perhaps reminiscent of The Marsh King’s Daughter, a story involving an abhorrent dominant father but I couldn’t be further from the truth. Liv’s father didn’t punish her or used any kind of force and came across as a gentle soul and I forgave him for the lifestyle that he pushes upon his wife and child for quite a while. The author showed me his background, the seed that was planted for his actions in the present and that earned him some understanding. I also knew that even if Jens was doing wrong by keeping his daughter away from other children and by telling her things that weren’t necessarily true just to make it better, his actions were made out of a warped sense of love that made I couldn’t really hate him.

The blurb gave me the illusion that Liv was sort of held captive but she isn’t, at least not literally – she can move around – yet in a way she is because her world is confined and terribly limited, her view on the outside world small and distorted. She tells chapters in her own voice and I came to know her as a brave and resilient girl. My heart went out to her although I never heard her feel sorry for herself or cry. It’s only her brother who cries and the two of them acting together pulled on my heartstrings so hard.. it actually shredded my heart to pieces more than once!

Her father’s ideas and his mental health spiral out of control as the story progresses and there was one particular scene that will play in my mind many times over when thinking of this novel. You’ll certainly know what I’m talking about when you read this novel, it’s a completely non-violent scene but it made my heart thud quite loud. Even though it was quite reverant and written beautifully, it was also disturbing to read at the same time, especially because Liv is a witness to it as well and I felt how emotionally damaging that must have been for the child.

I was aware that the situation Liv was living in wasn’t normal but I felt like I was actually opening my eyes for real when it was presented by another person’s POV in the end. The tragedy really creeps on you and then suddenly it hit me real hard. I felt it in my gut.

You’ll do crazy things out of love and some might seem like the kindest thing to do but sometimes you just have to let people go. The horror of it all is that Jens, Liv’s father, just wants to keep, keep, keep..  A tragic and disturbing novel that you won’t possibly forget!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Happy birthday authors !

Happy birthday authors

It’s not only my birthday in a week’s time (we won’t talk about that) but it suddenly crossed my mind that there are also several famous authors born in September! It actually wasn’t so easy to find but here’s some I did find out about:

Mackenzi Lee: 11 September

The Gentleman's Guide

George R.R. Martin: 20 September 20, 1948

A Game of Thrones

Stephen King : 21 September 21, 1947

Stephen King

Carlos Ruiz Zafón: 25 September 1964 

Shadow of The Wind

Tatiana de Rosnay: 28 September, 1961 

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Unfortunately there also quite a few famous authors who are not alive anymore but they certainly deserve a mention. We’ve all heard of them or read their books even, but why not remember them by these lovely quotes as well:

Daniel Defoe (September 13, 1660 – April 24, 1731); author of Robinson Crusoe

“Expect nothing and you’ll always be surprised”

Roald Dahl (September 13, 1916 – November 23, 1990); author of Matilda and Big Friendly Giant

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Agatha Christie (September 15, 1890 – January 12, 1976); author of Murder On The Orient Express

Not only was she appointed the title of “Dame” by the Queen of England, but according to the Guiness Book of World Records, she is the best-selling author of all time.

“Time is the best killer.”

“Poirot,” I said. “I have been thinking.”
“An admirable exercise my friend. Continue it.”

“An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”

H.G. Wells (September 21, 1866- August 13, 1946); author of The War of the Worlds

“We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories… and those that carry us forward, are dreams.”

T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888-January 4, 1965): poet

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”

Miguel de Cervantes (September 29, 1547- April 23, 1616)

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”

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See, some of the best authors of all-time are born in September! Do you know any other authors born in September?

Author Spotlight: In Defense of Innocence by @DaveWickenden #QandA

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From time to time you come across a novel that piques your interest and In Defense of Innocence did just that. I think it’ll deliver some great conflicting feelings towards the person who’s avenging crimes and I already wonder what the main character, Janice Williams, will do in the end.

It doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet on Goodreads but I think it really deserves a spotlight so I’m very happy to have Dave Wickenden on the blog today. I have an interesting Q&A coming up but first some info about the novel:

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In Defense of Innocence follows Janice Williams, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Child Sex Crimes Division, as she hunts child abusers only to be beaten to their capture by a vigilante who avenges the harms done to these innocent children.

When Janice uncovers the identity of the vigilante, she is faced with the dilemma to do her job to uphold the law or help this person escape a nation-wide manhunt.

amazon uk amazon com

Customer Reviews IDOI

Author

David Wickiden

Dave has lived the life of a protagonist. He spent time in the Canadian Armed Forces before the Fire Service, so is as comfortable with a rocket launcher as a fire hose. He has brought people back from the dead utilizing CPR and a defibrillator and has assisted in rescuing people in crisis. He has led men and women in extreme environments. He retired as Deputy Fire Chief to write full time.

Dave and his wife Gina are parents to three boys and three grandsons. His two youngest boys are busy with minor hockey and fishing, so you can guess where you’ll find Dave when he’s not writing. He is a proud member of the Sudbury Writers Guild and working on his fourth thriller novel.

Connect

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

QandA

1. Defense of Innocence is a police procedural about the hunt on someone who targets child abusers. My first obvious question is:  How hard do we need to brace ourselves when starting this novel for graphic scenes? Should readers take caution about some disturbing scenes?

Although the story surrounds a very disturbing topic, there are no scenes of child abuse. There was no way I was going to sensationalize the horrors that played out by monsters within our society. Although I allude to and come close to tell the story, readers do not have to worry about graphic or gory details. In one scene, I go into the thoughts of a child abuser and a fair amount of readers told me that one scene spooked them good.

2. What gave you the idea to write a novel about this subject matter? Did your job have anything to do with it perhaps?

Although I have come across physical abuse of women in my career as a firefighter, I never had to deal with a child abuse incident. However, I personally know of some children who have been abused and of course we are inundated through the media with countless stories of animals preying on children. Each and every time though, the punishment did not fit the crime and that got me upset. The story had been growing in me for a number of years and finally I decided to write a story that brought attention to the issue while at the same time was an exciting read.

The vigilante in the story does what I think a lot of us contemplate in the darkest corners of our minds. What parent wouldn’t think about taking the law in their own hands if someone touched their child? I’ve listened to fathers, god fearing and law abiding citizens say so when the topic is raised.

3. What was the most challenging part when writing this book?

The hardest part is keeping it real. Although I write fiction, it has to be realistic. There is a scene where a mother comes to realize that her child is dead. As a parent, this had to be the hardest scene. I won’t lie, I bawled my eyes writing this part, because I had to put myself into the character’s head and imagine finding my own child. I also had to get into Janice’s head while dealing with this distraught parent. It hurt like hell.

4. What’s the most fun part of being a full-time writer?

The best part is having time. I have no idea how authors who work full time can write a book. Even working all day long, I’m still struggling to get all I want done completed. As I become more comfortable with the writing process, the stories are taking less time to complete, so I am able to produce more. And I have so many ideas.

5. The detective in Defense of Innocence is Janice Williams. Who is she? Can you compare her with another detective we might know?

Janice could be anyone of us. We all carry baggage, some more than others. We all struggle with our demons; some real, like her past and some circumstantial like overcoming a marriage breakup. How we deal with those demons defines us. By facing her biggest fear, Janice has become a strong successful police officer. She still has issues but she won’t quit.

As for comparisons, I think a good contender would be Detective Olivia Benson from Law and Order: SVU. Using her tortured past to help her understand what the victims have had to deal with.

6. Who is your own all-time favorite detective?

My favorite detective would have to be Batman. He’s been around forever uncovering and stopping the schemes of the world’s most evil villains. He uses a variety of techniques and technologies that are usually cutting edge. Hell if I was as buff as the Bat, I’d wear spandex too.

7. You write books about child abuse and ISIS, two very diverse novels. Is there a story in your head that you still really want to write in your life?

I have a number of ideas swimming in my head. One would deal with a cult that is involved in a scheme to take down the government. Another idea is an issue that is growing and surrounds itself with fresh water. Canada has it in abundance. I think in the future it will be fought over more viciously than oil (Next World War?)

Of course any important issue that is affecting the world like child abuse and the radicalization of young people by ISIS is always on my radar. My question is always – what would I do if…

8. What’s the current working title for your Work In Progress? 

My WIP is the sequel to IN DEFENSE OF INNOCENCE. I haven’t confirmed a title, but I am toying with DEADLY HARVEST. My main character is in Paris and fights an International Human Trafficking organization.

9. One final question to round up: You’re Canadian and I haven’t been to Canada yet but I would love to visit one day. Can you give me just one tip what not to miss when I visit (sights, food, anything)? 

When you visit Canada, make sure to try Poutin – this is a national treat that stems from Quebec. It is french-fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. Of course, if you’re American, try our Canadian beer just so you taste the difference – of course, this might cause an invasion on its own.

Thank you Dave for your answers. It was a pleasure to have you on the blog!