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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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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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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Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Summer Book Fair 2022 – #Crimethriller Carol Balawyder, #Thriller #Haiti Mark Bierman

During the summer Sally is posting reviews from her Bookshelf. I was both grateful and fortunate to have her post my recent novel.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.

The first featured author today is Carol Balawyder – with her coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a…

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Warning Signs: A Story about Obsession

It is always a pleasure to have someone write such a warm review of my book. I am so grateful for this opportunity to not only expose my latest crime novel to the many bloggers who follow me but also to introduce Anneli Purchase to those who may not yet know her and her beautiful photographs, her writing tips and her many novels that deserve to be discovered.
This weekend, is Thanksgiving in Canada and this review gives me reason to count all my blessings. Wherever you are, may you always find something to be thankful for.

Anneli's Place

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder, handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them as they each struggled with various dilemmas. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived, because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates…

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My India: Juhu Beach

The photos in this post were taken in Juhu Beach, an upscale neighbourhood of Mumbai.  Juhu beach is also a preferred destination among filmmakers for the shooting of a lot of Bollywood films and therefore home to many Bollywood celebrities.

The area surrounding the Juhu beach is home to the houses of some of the most popular Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Ashit Lathia, Anu Malik, Mahesh Bhatt, Alia Bhatt, Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Dharmendra, Bobby Deol, Sunny Deol, Hrithik Roshan, Anupam Kher, Shakti Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, and Varun Dhawan among a lot of others. It’s the same reason why Juhu is often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Bollywood.

In: Times of India. 

Not knowing any of these film celebrities, I was content to sit in the lobby of the hotel, either sipping tea or a beer and reading The Times of India and The Mumbai Mirror.

I was so exhausted from the stimulation of India that all I wished to do was absorb where I was. The only roaming around I did was in the area where I was staying.

Off Tara Road in Juhu Beach


A typical alleyway

Juno beach

Entrance to a Jain community

Jains community

According to Wikipedia :

  • Jainism is perhaps one of the most ancient religious traditions of not just India but the world.
  • Jainism is the only religion wherein all followers, both monks and practicing lay persons of all sects and traditions, are required to be vegetarian.
  • Jains have been an important presence in Indian culture, contributing to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, sciences, and the politics of Mahatma Gandhi, which led to Indian independence.
  • Mahatma Gandhi took many walks at Juhu Beach.

The beach is also famous for many Mahatma Gandhi walks as a protest during independence struggle.

There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.


Juhu Beach

This is the end of My India posts.

Thank you for sharing your precious time with me.





My India

Juhu Beach 2 Mombai

Since I’ve returned from my trip to India I have been feeling quite rusty about posting. First there was the jet lag and then the putting our clocks ahead an hour. I was grappling for all kinds of excuses to put off getting back to my blogging habits. After all, there was lots of washing to do, bills to settle, phone calls to friends and family, groceries, cooking and cleaning.

And then there was what to write about.

For years, I have had a romantic relationship with India.  There was that time the Beatles went to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram in Rishikesh to learn transcendental meditation. That gave me a nudge. A place I’d like to go to someday.

Then, there were all the yoga classes and workshops I took: ashtanga yoga, hot yoga, hatha yoga. I got interested in Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of inner illumination), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom). Those all peaked my interest, especially Raja Yoga with its lure of inner illumination.

There was the literature written by Indians which drew me in. Anita Desai whom I mentioned in my novel Getting to Mr. Right and Bharati MukherjeeRohinton Mistry  and Yann Martel. The list of fine Indian writers with amazing talents is long. I have always loved reading a novel with India as its setting.

India also interested me because of their sacred cows, their holy cities, arranged marriages, Hinduism, Buddha, karma, reincarnation, meditation and Bollywood.

I travelled to India with a friend I met at a yoga class. Without going through a tour group we designed our own trip with yoga as theme.

Except for Mumbai and Agra we had the opportunity to practice yoga in Goa, Kerala, Pondicherry, Rishikesh and Varanasi with different yoga teachers both from abroad (mostly Europe and Australia) and from India.

Spending five weeks in India both in the south and the northern parts is hardly enough time to know a country so large and diverse as India. I was barely able to dip into its traditions and missed most of its day-to-day life.  At times, during the trip, when I was sick and tired of its constant honking of horns and trying to cross a street amongst tuc-tucs, automobiles, scoters (lots of them – practically touching you), whenever I was confronted with the dirt and poverty I vowed to myself that I will never return to India. India is too hard.

Yet, at the same time it is soft. That is part of its beauty. The photo in this post was taken at Juhu Beach in Mumbai. A typical Indian family out for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the beach.

Click for some spectacular photos of Juhu beach

I  hope that you will enjoy my series on My India.












Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Psychological #Thriller – Warning Signs by Carol Balawyder

In the Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers, urges the reader to take her Creative Autobiography questionnaire. One of the 33 questions on it is:

Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?

I thought of Sally Cronin and her attention to other writers, including myself. If you are not familiar with Sally’s blog I encourage you to go over there and browse through it. You are bound to be inspired.

Thank you Sally for thinking of me.



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I have just read and enjoyed the latest book by Carol Balawyder  – A psychological thriller – Warning Signs: A novel about Obsession.

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

My review for Warning Signs February 22nd 2020.

This is definitely a novel about obsession. The…

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