musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Has it really been a year?

I've definitely been letting the blog slide. I'll blame it on pandemic isolation and leave it at that... but I can't let the new year begin without a look back at the books I enjoyed in 2021. Follow that link to see them all. Meanwhile, here are a few of my top reads of last year.

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

Castle Shade by Laurie R. King

A Match Made for Murder by Iona Whishaw

The Postscript Murders by Ellie Griffiths

Stargazer by Anne Hillerman

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews

Murder in a Teacup by Vicki Delany

To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton

I'm always looking for my next great read, so leave a comment and share your favourite book(s) of last year. Happy New Year! May 2022 be good to you... and happy reading!

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stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Sunday, January 03, 2021

the strange year that was 2020 ...


However you experienced it, I think we can agree: 2020 truly was a year like no other. 

For me, it began with six weeks of recovery from major surgery. Then, in late January, my son J and I were both miserably ill with sore throats, fevers, and respiratory problems. Was it Covid-19? Probably not, but we may never know. The two of us were just beginning to get our lives back to normal when news broke about a dangerous new corona virus. Suddenly nothing was "normal" at all. (Lately I find myself wondering if we'll ever know that kind of easy-going normal again.)

In the early days of the pandemic my middle son and his wife, who both work in health care, were felled by the virus. Thankfully they were able to recover in isolation at home but it was brutal. Being unable to help them was brutal, as well. (And don't even get me started on the wickedly brutal 14 days in May when J was hospitalized and I wasn't permitted to be with him at all, even though he's non-verbal. What a nightmare.)

Those of you who've read this blog for a while may remember that J has multiple disabilities, putting him at risk for worst-case complications. Age and asthma put me as risk as well, so excepting those terrible 14 days, the two of us have been hunkered down at home since mid-March. As I write this, we've been apart from friends and family for 293 days with only a handful of masked and socially distanced outdoor visits. Groceries, prescriptions - just about everything we might need - can be ordered locally and either dropped at our door or picked up curbside. We reminisce about "the before times", he missing the friends and mental stimulation of his adult day program and me missing restaurant dinners, theatre nights, and road trips with friends. And hugs. We really miss the hugs.

Through it all, I've been so thankful for family and friends who call or text, just to check in; for the countless front-line workers who make it possible for us to shelter at home; for a new virtual day program that keeps J engaged and happy (yay, Zoom!); and for peace and safety at a time when so many have neither.

I'm thankful, too, for the books of 2020. More than ever, it was a year to escape, to visit times and places where people could still meet for coffee and laugh and sing and dance. I was surprised, though, to discover I haven't read nearly as much as predicted. I've been doing the Goodreads Challenge since 2015 and have always exceeded my goal. Until this year. Missed it by a lot! Maybe all that home cooking, bread making, and (thinking about) closet purging used up my book time. But I did enjoy a fairly long list of cozy mysteries and feel-good stories - no angst this year. The real world has quite enough of that! 

Here, then (in no particular order), are my 2020 five-star reads. Visit me at Goodreads 2020 Challenge to see all 57 books - I enjoyed them all. 

The Corpse with the Crystal Skull (Kate Morgan #9) by Cathy Ace
Forbidden Fruit (Corinna Chapman #5) by Kerry Greenwood
A Death Long Overdue (Lighthouse Library #7) by Eva Gates
All the Devils Are Here (Gamache #16) by Louise Penny
Closing Time (Stonechild and Rouleau #7) by Brenda Chapman
Acqua Alta (Commissario Brunetti #5) by Donna Leon
Tea & Trechery (Tea by the Sea #1) by Vicki Delany
Hid from Our Eyes (Fergusson & Van Alstyne #9) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Umbrella Man (Inspector Ramírez #4) by Peggy Blair
Riviera Gold (Russell & Holmes #16) by Laurie R. King
The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell
Read and Buried (Lighthouse Library #6) by Eva Gates
The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway #11) by Elly Griffiths
The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway #10 by Elly Griffiths
A Deceptive Devotion (Lane Winslow #6) by Iona Whishaw
Meet Your Baker (Bakeshop #1) by Ellie Alexander
There's a Murder Afoot (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop #5) by Vicki Delany
The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

What were your favourite reads last year? What books are you most looking forward to in 2021? Leave a comment or connect on Goodreads and let's share.

Happy reading... and stay safe out there. Wear a mask!

Permalink: the strange year that was 2020...

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Friday, April 10, 2020

spring at home...

On Tuesday, J and I left our apartment for the first time in more than a week – we really needed to breathe some fresh air and feel a little open space around us. It was unusually quiet in the park. We saw a few people walking dogs or jogging, all of them paying attention to the new rules of social distancing. We sat, enjoyed the fresh breeze, soaked up some sunshine, and sipped hot coffee from our thermos. And what a difference that quiet hour beside the lake made! As the song says, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

Lake Ontario from Len Ford Park in Toronto

This little guy seemed to be wondering where all the
people (and peanuts) went. He ventured close to
beg a treat. Sorry. No nuts here.

In Toronto, as in most places around the world, all but essential businesses are closed because of COVID-19. We've all been asked to stay at home except for essential outings to pick up supplies from the grocery store or pharmacy, or for occasional walks where social distancing is possible. J and I have, so far, been fortunate to have delivery service available, so we've been able to avoid crowds and lines. This bounty came from a local start-up, a brother and sister whose graphic design business had to shut down. They partnered with one of their clients to make fresh food deliveries in our area. It's every bit as delicious as it looks. We were able to share some, some went into the freezer, and some will be on the table for our Easter dinner. 

Fresh delivery from - yum!

Easter Sunday will mark 28 days of shelter-at-home for us. A few hours ago, I looked out the window and saw a splash of bright yellow in the garden. The forsythia is blooming! I can't get out to take a photo, but it was a happy reminder that spring really has arrived and, even though our lives are necessarily very altered right now, the world carries on and nature is full of miracles.

Wishing you and your families all the blessings of spring and may your holiday celebrations be joyful (but apart). As Toronto's favourite medic, Dr. Eileen de Villa, tells us every day: "Stay home, stay safe, and take care of each other."  

Daffodils at Centennial Park Conservatory in Toronto,
March 7, 2020 - just before the park closures.

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stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington


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Thursday, January 02, 2020

Books of 2019...

I read a total of 95 books in 2019 and binged a few terrific new (to me) mystery series. You can check out the entire list over on Goodreads but these few were my five-star favourites, listed in order read with most recently finished first:

The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger
The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
A Sorrowful Sanctuary by Iona Wishaw
A Dance of Cranes by Steve Burrows

I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming
A Better Man by Louise Penny
All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming
It Begins in Betrayal by Iona Wishaw
A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming
An Old, Cold Grave by Iona Wishaw
Something Read, Something Dead by Eva Gates
A Killer in King's Cove by Iona Wishaw
The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell
The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman
The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal
Color Me Murder by Krista Davis
Malice in Miniature by Jeanne M. Dams
Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes
The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

What were  your favourite reads last year? What books are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Leave a comment or connect on Goodreads and let's share!

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year and happy reading in 2020! 

Permalink: Books of 2019...

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Friday, August 09, 2019

just a little buzz...

How to make an author happy: leave a review! I can be a bit intimidating, but a book review doesn't need to be complicated - just a few words will do the trick. You'll make an author smile by letting them know someone is out there, reading their work. Even more important, your review will help other readers find books that you've enjoyed. 

Here are just a few things readers have said after reading Sparks Fly, Fast Focus, and Rock Solid.

About Sparks Fly:

"I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a sweet romantic story filled with lovable family members, adventures in the sky and on the ground, and that age old feeling of falling in love."  - review

"The setting is so vibrantly real one can smell the pines and feel the icy stab of cold water as well as the warmth of the sun on chilled flesh. - review

"Lovely setting, sweet story with some exciting moments." - review

"I very much enjoyed this story and couldn't put it down, particularly in the end, when everything reached a climax. The characters are totally lovable and the scenery is described so well that you can hear the roaring of the fire. I recommend this book!" - Goodreads review

"Her description of flying through a forest fire was riveting. I am so glad I found this book." - review

Find Sparks Fly in paperback, hardcover, or for your Kindle (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!) 

About Rock Solid: 

"An excellent read! It's well written, with a well-paced storyline that sucks you in from the beginning and keeps you turning pages. The characters are likeable and believable. Thoroughly recommended!" - review

"A sweet, fun read. 5 stars!" - review

"A great summer read. 5 stars!" - review

"Totally delightful! - Goodreads review

"What a brilliant book, I just had to read it from cover to cover, I just could not put it down." - review

Find Rock Solid in paperback, hardcover, or for your Kindle (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!) 

About Fast Focus:

"Entertaining! This is a fun and enjoyable read." - review

"This story is a light, humourous, romantic, silly tale. It's pretty corny but cute. It would make a perfect Hallmark romantic movie as it's exactly that style." review

"Another wonderful read with lots of mystery, action, suspense and romance. These two authors should investigate having both their books turned into a movie for either the big screen or television. Look forward to their next book as I enjoy their writing." review

"This book is an easy read. With interesting/quirky characters, great dialogue to move the story forward, and a less than predictable plot line, it's time well spent." - review

"A fun read with great three-dimensional characters." - Goodreads review

Find Fast Focus in paperback, hardcover, or for your Kindle (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!) 

Thanks for reading ... and a special thank you for leaving reviews!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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