Jacqui Murray: Natural Selection Book 3

Jacqui Murray’s third book in her series Dawn of Humanity, Natural Selection as part of her Man vs Nature series, describes Lucy’s final journey.

The nickname “Lucy” is often used by researchers depicting the oldest skeleton on the origins of our genus.

 Jacqui Murray’s Lucy is built on the facts drawn from these numerous scientific studies. Her bibliography at the end of the novel cites an impressive array of research done on the Lucy skeleton from the development of language, group thinking rather than authoritarianism, making tools, expressing feelings, the evolution of counting and thought.  

Jacqui Murray dates her Lucy (Homo Habilis) about 2 million years ago. The plot is one of an adventure/thriller set in a primitive and treacherous world inhabited by dangerous predators which Lucy and her tribe struggle to survive as they face death defying odds.

Yes, there is war and seeing members of one’s tribe slaughtered. This is a novel of adventure filled with plenty of natural obstacles, finding shelter whether temporary or to set up as a base camp, fighting the weakness brought on by hunger and always avoiding being attacked by their enemies and healing members who have been injured and betrayals.

Yes, there is also the joining of other packs making Lucy’s pact an eclectic group with various skills. Lucy regards all animals as equal and some even superior to her in their ability to perform useful tasks she is incapable of doing herself.

What fascinated me about Lucy were her attributes. She is brave. She is a persistent leader who is perhaps one of our earliest feminists in that she becomes the leader to fit in a man’s world. Lucy is capable of having dreams, of passion and curiosity. Her character shows, what today we might call romantic feelings towards her pairmate. Lucy is also kind and caring. She is knowledgeable about using plants to heal and is intuitive.

Because there are many members of different tribes and animals to keep tract of, I found it useful to read the novel on my iPad alongside the characters and glossary of terms on my Kindle.  

This is a series which broadened my knowledge of how we evolved to where were are today, thanks to Lucy and her tribe and to Jacqui Murray’s extensive research into prehistoric mankind.

Sunday Book Review – The Lilac Notebook by Carol Balawyder

Thank you so much, Debby, for reading my book and for taking the time and effort to write a wonderful review. ❤


Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. I was very much looking forward to Carol Balawyder’s newest release – The Lilac Notebook, and Carol’s books never disappoint. Carol’s story is a delicious mixture of broken and dubious characters. This murder mystery encompasses much more than just murders, always left with a calling card – a post card of Vincent Van Gogh’s, Starry Night.

The author takes on the challenge of early onset Alzheimer’s, as her protagonist Holly is navigating through beginning stages of the horrible disease, and in the process, her incompassionate husband Roy, leaves her, although he agrees to take care of her financially (isn’t that charming?). And once Holly sets up her new life and apartment near McGill University in Montreal, she decides to take a poetry class there to keep her mind sharp. While there, she befriends Kim and Amelia, both victims of childhood abuse, but they’ve digested…

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Annie Ernaux

As a fan of Annie Ernaux I was delighted to read that she was the 2022 Nobel Prize Laureate for literature.

The Swedish Committee selected Annie Ernaux for the Nobel Prize for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory

Among her novels are ‘A Man’s Place’, ‘A Woman’s Story’ and ‘Years’.

Ernaux’s work is uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean. And when she with great courage and clinical acuity reveals the agony of the experience of class, describing shame, humiliation, jealousy or inability to see who you are, she has achieved something admirable and enduring.

In her Nobel Lecture Ernaux said: 

Writing in a democratic country, however, I continue to wonder about the place women occupy in the literary field. They have not yet gained legitimacy as producers of written works. There are men in the world, including the Western intellectual spheres, for whom books written by women simply do not exist; they never cite them. The recognition of my work by the Swedish Academy is a sign of hope for all female writers.

To read her entire lecture click here.

I am always excited when a new book of hers is out on the market. Her latest book Getting Lost, is the diary she kept while she was having an affair with a married Soviet diplomat and which she wrote about in her biography/memoir Simple Passion.

 Annie Ernaux writes beautifully about passion, love, pain, mourning and shame.

For more on her and her books click here.


Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month occurs in May in Canada but in the US in March and Internationally on May 30. It’s sort of like how our Thanksgiving is different from the American Thanksgiving.

I’d love to hear from bloggers outside of Canada and the US if you have a Multiple Sclerosis Month.

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system that can cause symptoms throughout the body ranging from difficulty walking to bladder dysfunction to changes in memory and thinking abilities.

MS attacks parts of a person’s brain and spinal cord. Typical symptoms are extreme fatigue, visual and sensory problems, disequilibrium. Eventually, loss of muscle control leads to paralysis. Besides providing a bullet point explanation of the disease the site gives loads of information on research currently being on the disease. It’s fascinating on what is being done from drugs to prevent relapse, to repairing nerve cells damaged by MS.  

For more on MS visit mscanada.ca (make sure you scroll down and head to their new homepage.)

In my novel, Not by Design, Felicity Starr is dumped by the man she is about to marry when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.  Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths. Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

I realize that my knowledge of the disease is scant and that I’ve portrayed just a very small part of what it is like to be diagnosed with MS. If my perception of MS leans towards optimism it is only because the young men and women I met inflicted with MS showed courage, strength and optimism themselves in living with MS.

For more read here.

I hope that my novel raises awareness of multiple sclerosis and would love to hear from people who suffer from MS.

Visit my author central page

Two Very Different Books

I have just finished reading two very different books: Mark Bierman’s Vanished and Cheryl Oreglia’s Grow Damn It!


 Vanished takes place about a year after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The protagonists of this story are two Americans, Tyler Montgomery and his father-in-law John Webster.  Grieving the death of their wife and daughter respectively, they have come to the chaos and corruption of Haiti to help with the construction of an orphanage.

There they meet Mahalia, whose seven-year-old daughter, Chantale, has gone missing.

Ill equipped on many levels such as lack of medical training, the geography of the island and weak knowledge of Creole the Americans set out, through life and death situations, to find Chantale and return her to Mahalia.  

Mark Bierman shows us the reality of poverty-ridden Haiti. It is heartbreaking and tragic to read about the cruel abusive treatment of children who are sold as slaves or prostitutes for pedophile rings. Evil men in the business of child abuse as a commodity.

In their search for the seven-year-old child Mark Bierman takes us through the tunnels of a mining shaft where they believe are hidden abducted children. Normally, I am not drawn to reading adventure/thrillers but I was captivated by the suspenseful description and action in the tunnels of the mine shaft.

Other characters inhabit the novel, such as Eliana who was abducted as a young child and sold to a wealthy Dominican family until she was purchased by the evil Diego who was in the business of Child slavery.  

Vanished opened my mind to the extent of evil, greed, abuse, cruelty, torture and human trafficking that is pervasive in our society.

Underneath the strong plot of this novel is a novel about courage, strength, compassion and a deep relationship between Tyler and his step-father.

Too little attention has been placed on the plight of Haiti since the Earthquake. I congratulate Mark Bierman for tackling such a difficult subject.

If you enjoy thrillers and adventure stories, you’ll love this novel.

Check it out on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.

Unlike, Mark Bierman’s Vanished Cheryl Oreglia’s memoir Grow Damn It! is filled with lightness of spirit and many joyful moments

The collection of essays takes place during the pandemic and Cheryl Oreglia graciously invites us into her loving family; generously and unabashedly sharing with us the ups and downs of her daily life.

She writes about serious stuff, for sure, – her mother’s death, the sacredness of life, about retirement, middle age and even colonoscopies.

Through it all, her sense of humor shines:

I’ve been running at breaking speed for nearly half a century, trying to keep up with the Jones whom I barely know.

The book is written in a conversational style where she will throw in off the cuff phrases as: Don’t ask. Anyhoo. While her chapters begin with a reflective quote she also tosses in the middle of an essay an inspirational, keeping you on your toes kind of quote.

The writing is beautiful and I love how in her essay on retirement when asked what she will do she unapologetically says I am a writer.

Her writing gives hope to humanity, to kindness and doing the right thing. Something precious in our times. You only have to go through her chapter titles to know that you will be learning something encouraging. Take for example: Tough Times Don’t Last. Tough People Do… or her essay titled What Do I Really Want? – a very long list – reminded me of the simple things of life that I often take for granted.

It was inspiring to read that there are some good marriages out there. Not Cinderella perfect mind you. But solid, respectful and lasting. A marriage and family built on good moral values.

She is the kind of person I’d love to have as a neighbor.

Check it out on Amazon, Goodreads, , Barnes &Noble.

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult

Here is something I posted awhile back. I thought maybe you might enjoy it, if you haven’t read it or weren’t on WordPress when I first posted it. In any case it’s just a mother bragging about her daughter.

Carol Balawyder

I am bragging about my daughter’s pastry skills today.

One of the assignments in her Pastry Chef course was to create a chocolate piece based on the literary classic Tristan and Iseult, the tragic romantic legend made popular during the 12th century by the French writer, Joseph Bedier.

 Both Catherine’s father and I are avid readers. As a child we read to her at night-time and put books in her hands. I’m sure you’re familiar with the research that to turn a child into a reader surround her with books and people who read.

Catherine is proof that this theory does not always work. She does not like reading and so rather than read the book for this assignment she browsed the internet and found a marble sculpture of Tristan and Isuelt by Roger Stephens.

Inspired by this sculpture she created her own marble like sculpture made of…

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Recently I posted two reviews on Amazon.ca and both were rejected because apparently, I did not follow the community guidelines.

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. It appears your content did not comply with our guidelines.

While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines
Amazon Community Guidelines
  More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose 5-*
from Carol Balawyder on April 13, 2023
Fairy Tales Do Exist
More Than Coffee is a tribute of love to her family. It is an intimate look at her thirty-two-year-old marriage – a husband whom she met serendipitously by selling a fridge.
The book is a mixture of prose and poetry with some touching lines.
For example,…

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. It appears your content did not comply with our guidelines.

While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines
Amazon Community Guidelines
  Fatal Rounds 5-*
from Carol Balawyder on April 11, 2023
Odd but Loveable Character
If I have dark circles under my eyes blame it on Carrie Rubin’s latest book, Fatal Rounds.
I have read many of Carrie Rubin’s books, including her Benjamin Oris series and the book she wrote under her penname Morgan Mayer. Fatal Rounds, in my opinion, is her…    

So, I wrote to Kindle Support:

I have read the community guidelines and can’t see anything that I violated for both of my reviews of Fatal Rounds and More Than Coffee.

Would you please explain to me specifically what I need to correct so that my reviews can be posted. This is the second time that you have blocked my review. I wrote to you about my review for Carrie Rubin’s Fatal Rounds asking what I had done wrong but you did not respond.  Now, once again you are blocking me for Lauren Scott’s More Than Coffee.

After sending me a host of links I wrote back and got this as reply:


I understand that you are requesting to remove review. Please allow me to elaborate we read the review and did not find that it qualifies for removal for violating our Community Guidelines

To which I responded:

Thank you for your response. However, you misunderstood my request.
The two reviews which I had posted Fatal Rounds by Carrie Rubin and More Than Coffee by Lauren Scott were rejected because they did not follow community guidelines.

Now, you are telling me that “we read the review and did not find that it qualifies for removal for violating our Community Guidelines.”

I do not want my reviews to be removed but want them to be posted.

Further, how can you talk about removing a review that was not posted?

Obviously, there is a mix-up.

Also, Amazon rejected my review for D.G. Kaye’s Words We Carry and Conflicted Hearts.

These same reviews were posted on Goodreads, which you can read by clicking the links below.

Read on Goodreads

Read on Goodreads

Read on Goodreads

Read on Goodreads

The Lilac Notebook

My gratitude and thanks to Anneli, for posting this on her blog. If you are not familiar with Anneli’s blog have a look at it. She writes amusing poetry about the critters that inhabit her backyard and ALSO she has written amazing novels. And oh, yes, if you are looking for an editor, look no further. ❤ Thank you Anneli for posting this. xxx


You won’t want to miss this one. Carol Balawyder’s latest novel is something unique.

Here is Carol and a little bit about her.

Carol’s academic training is in English Literature and Criminology. She studied criminology so as to bring credibility to the crime novels she wanted to write.

These days Carol is retired from her teaching post of supervising and teaching criminology to college students. She has been busy as a volunteer, visiting Alzheimer’s patients. She brings along her little dog, Bau. One of the patients, Doris, especially loved spending time with Bau. The sweet relationship they developed is reproduced in Carol’s latest novel.

The Lilac Notebook is a study of the decline of a young woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Doris had lost her ability to speak. Ms. Balawyder used this as a focal point of the murder investigation in which her fictional character, Holly is accused, but…

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New Book: The Lilac NoteBook

I am proud to present my latest novel The LILAC NOTEBOOK – a novel about Alzheimer’s, incest and murder.

Three university friends. One in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, another out for revenge and a third murdered.
Age 40, Holly Baranov is in the beginning stages of fast advancing Alzheimer’s. Unwilling to care for her, Holly’s husband leaves her. While frightened to be on her own, Holly is relieved to be freed from the clutches of a controlling husband.
She moves out of her large home in the middle-class west end section of Montreal and into a small apartment near McGill University where she enrolls in a poetry course in the hopes of activating new brain cells.
There she meets Kim Harris, a thirty-something beautiful but damaged law student and Amelia Rose, a twenty-year-old pole dancer in a seedy nightclub who wants nothing more than to graduate, teach high school, marry and raise a family.
When Amelia is found strangled in her apartment, Holly becomes embroiled in the investigation, both as amateur detective and prime suspect. Along with her fading memory, she has also lost her ability to speak and write. Uncertain whether she killed Amelia as her friend Kim, her ex-husband Roy and the police suspect her of doing so, Holly must race against her own failing memory, and progressive illness, to discover the real murderer, even if that means finding out the truth about herself.

Available on Amazon

and Smashwords

Free Kindle app Available on iOS, Android, Mac and PC.

Thank you for your support.

Please help me spread the word by posting this on your social media preference and /or e-mailing it to your friends. A short revue will be gratefully appreciated.


This took a long time coming. Not only the writing of the novel which began at the beginning of Covid but also the revisions, editing and cover design.

I am grateful for the wonderful job which Anneli Purchase did on the diligent editing of the book.

The cover design was done professionally and patiently by Anita Carroll.

Both e-books for KDP and Smashwords as well as the KDP paperback version will be available on April 6.

In the meantime, here’s a bit about the novel:

Three university friends, Holly in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, Kim, a law student seeking justice and Amelia a part-time pole dancer.

When Amelia is found strangled, Holly takes it upon herself to investigate the murder while she becomes prime suspect.

The clue to the murder lies in Holly’s note book of the investigation along with Vincent Van Gogh postcards left not only at the scene of Amelia’s murder but also next to the bodies of two other murders.