Monthly Archives: April 2015

Book Tuesday: Love and Leftovers, by Sarah Tregay

I bought this book purely on a whim. I was at the bookstore, I had a thing in my hand that I was ready to buy that was not a book, and I promised to myself that every non-book purchases at the bookstore must be matched by a book, and that one looked all right, both in terms of blurb and of cover, so I bought it.

love and leftovers

The story seems simple enough: a girl moves away when her parents divorce and she goes to live with her mother. She leaves her friends behind and meet new people and “a new romance heats up”, according to the blurb. But even from the first few pages, you can tell that the situation is more complicated then that, and it only gets more intense as the book goes on.

One thing that really surprised me when I first read the book, a thing I didn’t expect but ended up really liking: the novel is written as a series of free verse poems. I like that the fact that the book doesn’t advertise it’s unusual style; there are clues that I picked on later, but I clearly bought the book without having figured it out. I’m not sure I would have spent my money if I had known in advance, because I tend to be weary of shticks, but I did spend the money and only learned about the shtick after having read the first 10 pages of the book, at which point I figured “might as well finish it”. And other then some conversations that turn out really awkward, the shtick works.

I enjoyed the book, I’m glad I read it, and I was more then happy to share the love by loaning it to a friend of mine, even knowing fully well that I might never get it back again. Let that be a lesson, everyone: always assume that loaning a book is giving it away.

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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Things that happened during the hiatus: I published another book

And it should give you an idea of how out of the loop I feel that I never mentioned it here. I have a blog, which is by far the most important mark I am leaving in the cyberspace (the first result that comes up when my name is Googled). I have written a second book, called Thrills on Ice, it came out last fall. I never even mentioned it here! I completely forgot to update my bibliography, even. Thrills on Ice was still in the Upcoming section, and with the wrong due date on top of that! I am embarrassed.

Anyway, here it is

thrills on ice

I don’t have time to think about that right now; it’s time to go back to the ice. 

Three times world champion and Olympic silver medalist Susanna Miles suffers a season-ending injury. With the excuse of meeting a sports injury specialist, she returns to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she meets hockey star Lucas Crawford. With the help of some new friends, she must come to term with her relationship with her difficult mother/manager and take a leap of faith into something she never thought she wanted: romance.


The book is doing relatively well, even without me doing any kind of promotion for it, which is both an ego boost (I’ve written a book that appeals to people so much they buy it without me selling it to them in person) and an ego check (my being present and participating in the sale and the promotion is not as relevant as I thought it was.)

Still, mentioning the release of my book, on my blog, is a matter of principle. I have failed, I admit, but I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not going to do it again.

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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Book Tuesday: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron

When I learned how sick my cat really was, I decided, for some reason, that I needed more literary cats in my life. (I was going to say more fictional cats, but Dewey was not fictional.) That is when I borrowed Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron, from the library.


(I learned my lesson from last week.)

Sometime, I really think that I make terrible decisions, the kind of decision that will inevitably make me cry, just to remind myself that I’m not a robot*. Reading this book when I did was definitively one of them, and I’m not just saying that because I was reading it in a bus full of strangers; they can suck an egg if they don’t like me crying. I’m saying that because it’s a biography of a cat. I knew from the start that it would end with the cat dying, and that unless the book was so terribly written that I couldn’t finish it, that death would hit me pretty hard.

The book was not terribly written, not at all.

One of the things I loved best about it is that it wasn’t just the story of Dewey Readmore Books, the kitten who was found in the return box of the Spencer, Iowa public library one cold winter morning. Of course, the book covers the life of Dewey, who recovers from his night in the return box to become the official library cat, status which brought him national, and even international, fame. Dewey sounds like he was the most adorable cat: playful and sociable, without being clingy. The perfect library cat, in a word, and the kind who makes me wish that my library had a cat.

It’s also not just the story of head librarian Vicki Myron, who found Dewey that morning and was his non-official keeper. She does inject a good part of herself in the book, as is her right as a narrator, and her story is inspirational on many levels. Her many trials and tribulations cannot fail to strike a chord with readers. (Is it prejudiced to say especially female readers? It might be, but I’m having a harder time imagining male readers connecting with the medical complications caused by childbirth, and the breast cancer diagnosis.)

Along with all of that, it was the story of Spencer, a small-town in Iowa, and the people who call it home. The descriptions of Spencer and it’s inhabitants are so tightly interwoven with Dewey’s story that you begin to think that the story could not have happened anywhere else, or at any other time. The setting would probably feel mythical to anyone younger then I am; it brought me a lot of memories and nostalgia for my late eighties to late nineties childhood.

I’m really happy that I’ve read this book, although a small part of me wishes that I’d waited a few more weeks, at least.

*There are moments when I doubt my own capacity to feel emotions, such as when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars and didn’t cry, so those reminders feel terrible but might actually be good for me. Like Buckley’s.

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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Things that happened during the hiatus: I gained (and lost) a cat

The story is this: one of my siblings moved to Montreal and started collecting cats. First there was the one from the classified ads, or some such, I honestly don’t remember. Then there was the one litteraly rescued from the street. Then it was volunteering at the SPCA, taking cats in foster care. I find it especially funny since the sibling in question has always been a dog person. I, on the other hand, am a cat person, and the sibling knows that very well. Ever since classified ads cat, the sibling has been telling me that I should get a cat of my own.

I was hesitant, to be honest. At first I had the excuse that I was still living with my parents, and they didn’t want to have pets. Once I moved out on my own, the excuse became “I have to work, I’m gone for nine hours a day, I don’t want the cat to get lonely and depressed”. Finally, the sibling fostered a cat who got along very badly with the other cats, and who apparently had no problem being left alone for hours on end. Out of excuses, I relented.

And into my life came Miou-Miou. (pronounced mew-mew)


I was going to give him a more dignified name, but come on! Look at him. He is such a Miou-Miou. Also, I had the hardest time taking a good picture of that cat. This was the best I could do for the longest time. Then there was this picture, which might be concidered better, by some.



Anyway, he was terrible with other pets, if the Montreal sibling is to be believed, but I never had any problems with him. He would walk up and say Hi to me when I came back from work, or even just from being away. He could be very playful, when I teased him with the feather thing or threw a catnip mouse at him (I don’t think the catnip made any difference: he just liked to chase the mouse), but he could also be really chill. I could always pet and brush him; he even let me rub his tummy, and cats generally don’t do that. The worst thing he ever did to me was slither out of my grasp when I was trying to give him a hug.

That is, until the end of February, when he began to worry me by not eating anymore. I mean, fair enough, I was gone for nine hours a day, so I might have missed him eating a few times, but I did clean out the litter box, and the absence of stool was hard to miss. On March second, he completely freaked me out by doing nothing all evening but lay on his side next to the living room window. That’s when I called the vet.

Long story short? Effusive feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP. Google it, or if you don’t want to, just take my word for it: it sucks.

I spent a lot of time crying after that first vet visit, and since. I also spent a lot of time on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was told from the get-go that whatever the diagnosis (leukemia was an option for a little while, and so were other tumors, or some bacterial infections), the prognosis was bad, and that Miou-Miou’s lifespan had been dramatically shortened.

The great fear I had when I really began to realize that he was sick was that I had somehow accidentally caused that illness. He was a rescue cat, he survived six years or so in really difficult conditions, and the idea that I somehow killed him in three/four months was driving me nuts with guilt. Thankfully that fear was unfounded and dismissed by the diagnosis. Humans can’t cause FIP. The second great fear was that he would die without me there. It’s what happened with the last pet my parents and I had; he was sick and died while my mother and I were gone on a week-long trip. I had plans to go to New-York on Easter. While I didn’t want to unnecessarily cut his life short, I also didn’t want to have him die while I was gone.

I spent three weeks of trying a bunch of meds and watching him get a little bit better before slowly, slowly getting worse. I started coming home from work at lunch to feed him. Whenever I left the house, I was always afraid that I would be gone too long, that he would miss a feeding or a dose of meds. I was watching him all the time, breathing a sight of relief with every sign of life. One of my favorite activity became laying my head on him and listen to him breath, or purr.

Three weeks of that turned out to be my limit. I finally took the decision to have Miou-Miou euthanized. I had the final appointment on Friday, March 27th.



(My mom went with me to the vet’s, and she tried to get some pictures of us together. He struggled against the camera to the very end, my poor baby.)

It went very smoothly, and as well as those things ever go, I suppose. I cried buckets at the vet, and I cried myself to sleep that night. Since then, I emptied and stored the littler box, washed the food bowl, put away the toys that weren’t completely mangled and tossed those which were. Now all that remains are clawmarks on the drapes, and on the couch. And my memories.


(The only unarguably good picture I have of him.)


(A little magnet message I made with the set I got for Christmas two years ago. My Montreal sibling got very upset upon seeing that the set included puppy, but not cat or kitten. The Montreal sibling lacks creativity.)

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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


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What to do this weekend: watch the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

I’m keeping this short and sweet, because I didn’t think to plan ahead. This is my favorite version of Pride and Prejudice.  I think that, in many ways, it is the definitive version. I found the 2005 movie… let’s say “disappointing”. If you want a version that celebrates Jane Austen’s witty writing and the regency esthetic,  this is the one for you.


I was so happy when I walked into a Blockbuster on my 20th birthday and saw this on sale. It makes me feel sad for the younger generation, who will never know that pleasure.

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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Book Tuesday: The “Magical Cats” mysteries, by Sofie Kelly

I was taken with the urge to read cozy mysteries about four/five months ago, and I have spend a great deal of time sifting through the collection at my local library, looking for the right fit. The good thing about cozy mysteries is that there are almost as many different types of series as there are readers. Something for everyone if you know what to look for. Whether you love cooking or crafting, or music or books, or pets or babies, there is something out there for anyone. The story can have a hint of supernatural, or be completely in the realm of fantasy, or be completely mainstream.

After a lot of trial and error, I figured that I wanted something with books, especially those starring librarians, and with pets, with maybe just a hint of the supernatural. I found exactly that in the Magical Cats series, written by Sofie Kelly, a pseudonym of Darlene Ryan.

The Magical Cats series follows Kathleen Paulson, a Boston-born librarian who takes a one-year contract to oversee the modernization of a small Minnesota town. She adopts, or gets adopted, by two almost-feral cats, who have magical abilities: one can turn invisible, and the other can walk through walls. They also have the “cozy mystery pet” syndrome: they know exactly when to get involved in a homicide investigation, and they have a knack for finding the piece of clue that will guide their non-professional-investigative-person owners to the guilty party.

When I first began reading the series, I was worried that the supernatural element might be a bit too much. After trying some “witchy” cozies and getting annoyed with the magical element, I wanted something more mainstream. But the magic here is so specific, it’s an original twist that doesn’t feel so far removed from reality. (Which should give you an idea of the talent of Sofie Kelly: the cats who turn invisible and walk through walls still feel realistic.)

The main character, Kathleen, is a great protagonist. I was expecting more of a book-lover vibe from her, although she does occasionally breaks into book quotes, but it is clear that she is a librarian at heart. She’s the straight man to her family of crazy actors and artists, which leads to some interesting reactions vis-a-vis her super-powered cats. And, most of all, she is a cat-lover. Because, really, it’s the cats that sell the story. There are many well developed and amusing secondary characters in the from of Kathleen’s family and friends, and a police detective romantic interest. But it’s all about the cats.

The series is six books along so far. A seventh book is planned for this fall. I can’t wait, but I don’t have a choice.

eta: It occurred to me that this post might look better with the covers of the books discussed. So, here is the series, so far

magical cats mystery series

and here is the upcoming book

faux paw

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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Things that happened during the hiatus: I got a haircut

It’s not a big thing, but it’s as good a place to start as any. I was turning 30, and I realised that I had the same hairstyle for years now. Long, natural brown, pulled in a ponytail. Look at my author photo. (You can’t really tell how long it is from that shot, but it gives a general idea.)

Aurelia Osborne

That was taken in december 2013. I don’t think I even had it trimmed since. Then I decided: “enough”. I wanted a new look, and this is what I got.


Here I am with my freshly re-dyed hair.

Not the best picture of me, I’ll give you that. Still, doesn’t my hair look great? I’m really happy with my new style. It’s more upkeep, I’ll have to get trims and roots done more often, but I think it’ll be worth it.

I guess I’ll need a new author photo soon.

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Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The aftermath of an unexpected, (nearly) year-long hiatus

First of all, I have to day that I’m feeling a little silly, right now. Trying to get back into the blogging thing feels awkward. It has been nearly a year since I wrote anything here, and I don’t have a real reason for my absence. I have been thinking of coming back here for a while, now, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. And I didn’t want to risk a vicious cycle of “post for a little while, go silent for a year”. Which means that I had to think about why I stopped writing here, and figure out how to motivate myself to keep writing here.

So, what went wrong?

First and foremost, writing these blog entries has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I’m not super comfortable talking about myself. Talking about my life in general is a little easier, but made more difficult in this case by the fact that I can’t talk in specific ways about the people in my life. (I mean, I could, but I don’t have their explicit permission, so it feels unethical.) All of which is further complicated by the fact that I use a pseudonym. (It’s not a secret; it’s right in my author bio.)

I think the pseudonym was part of a second problem. I felt that since I was using a different name, I had to create a different identity for myself. It was hard enough to share myself online, but now I was adding extra limitations, because there were parts of me that I felt didn’t belong in Aurelia Osborne’s life, and that therefore I could not share here.

The third problem was that I followed the advice of well-meaning friends who told me that to increase the following on my blog, I needed to have a brand of sort. People would be more likely to visit if they knew what to expect was the general idea. It may be so, but it added up to even more limitations on what I felt that I could talk about, until one day, I missed a post and had no idea how to get back on schedule.

Now that I have some idea of what went wrong: too many self-imposed limitations. The solution would therefore be less self-imposed limitations, so we’re going to try that and see how it goes from there.

What can you expect from this blog? For the next few Sundays, I’m going to queue a series of posts about what has happened during the hiatus. So far, I can think of six posts. I might think of something else, but unless/until I do, I will say six weeks of hiatus updates. After that, I will keep on writing every Sunday, but about what? Who knows?

I will also try to write book reviews every Tuesday, I do have a year’s worth of books read to pick from, and I am determined not to limit myself to the books that I believe to be part of the “Aurelia Osborne” brand. And once or twice a month, on Fridays, I will write reviews of movies or plays, or other things that are week-end activities. (That’s all I can say without spoiling future planned )

So I’ll talk to you all again on Tuesday.

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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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