Monday, 5 May 2014

Book Review of Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves by Dianne Ascroft

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to participate in a Tribute Books blog tour. Today we welcome Dianne Ascroft, the author of the short story collection entitled Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves.

Book Summary

Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves is a collection of half a dozen short stories with Irish connections. Tales of outsiders who discover they belong, a humorous slice of life yarn, heartwarming love stories and a tale of taming fear. The shadows are on the wall, in the heart and clouding a woman’s memories while tangible foes tramp through the physical landscape. The stories were previously printed individually in a variety of publications, including Ireland’s Own magazine, Dead Ink Books’ website, and the anthologies, Fermanagh Miscellany and Tuesdays At Charlie’s.

Dianne Ascroft's Biography

Dianne Ascroft is an urban Canadian who has settled in rural Northern Ireland with her husband and an assortment of strong willed animals. She writes contemporary and historical fiction with an Irish connection. She has released the short story collection, Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves, and a novel, Hitler and Mars Bars. Her articles and stories have been printed in Irish and Canadian magazines and newspapers as well as in anthologies by Writers Abroad, Fermanagh Writers and Fermanagh Authors’ Association.

 Our Review of Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves

Short stories are not easy to write. The author has just a few pages in which to introduce and delineate characters, develop the action, and reach an ending that will satisfy the reader. In Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves, Dianne Ascroft demonstrates that she has mastered the craft of short-story writing. The stories included in this collection are understated, allowing characters to be delineated through their gestures and thoughts. The prose is simple, and the language is cadenced and at times almost lyrical. The stories are vignettes from daily life that examine such themes as nostalgia and regret, pride, self-awareness, and second chances at happiness.

Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves is a delightful collection that will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those who enjoy short stories, contemporary and literary fiction, romance, and quiet-time reading.

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Monday, 28 April 2014

Time for a Break

I will be taking a break from my three weekly blogs, The Overnight Bestseller, Open Investigations, and Behind the Walls of Nightmare so I can focus on completing the first novel  in my new Canadian crime series.

Thanks to all of you who continue to follow my blogs. I expect to be back at the end of August with an update on the new series.

I will continue to post reviews as part of the Tribute Books blog tour. Next week's review on The Overnight Bestseller will feature Dianne Ascroft's Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves.

In the meantime, I will remain active on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great summer, everyone!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Pet Vet Day

It begins in early January with the dreaded postcard reminders from the veterinary office. When these are ignored, there is a tactful reminder call from office staff asking if we would like to schedule an appointment for our five pets for their annual shots and check-ups. No longer able to procrastinate, we set a day aside for the annual Pet Vet Visit.

This annual event has taken on a somewhat legendary status complete with war stories and survival bragging rights. It begins with a search for cat kennels which we have dutifully packed away in a storage shelter outside. The trick is to remember which shelter and then to excavate the cages and remove the mouse droppings.

Once the cages are located and brought inside to be cleaned, previously bored cats become hyper-vigilant. THEY KNOW WHAT'S COMING. For those cats unlucky enough not to have moved quickly, this means going directly into the cages. For the cat who is a grizzled vet (no pun intended), there is a hasty retreat upstairs. Quick question: how many people does it take to coax a cat from under a bed and then get it inside a cage? Answer: at least two, but reinforcements are always welcome.

Now all three of our cats are inside their cages and meowing in unison. They are NOT amused.

The dogs are next. Our black Lab Charley actually loves to go to the vet's to socialize. Cody, on the other hand, hates going there and is already looking very worried.

The dogs are on their leashes now, and we've spread an old blanket on the back seat of the car. Two cat carriers are perched there, and the dogs jump in too. My wife sits in the front passenger seat, and I balance the remaining cage on her lap. After a brief discussion with Cody as to who will actually drive the vehicle, he moves to the back again while I take over the driver's seat. The cats start meowing in tandem, and a pungent odor alerts us to the fact that one of them has found a new way to express his or her displeasure.

We're off now, and my wife is serving as navigator because I can't see past Cody's head. When we finally get to the vet's, we're already exhausted. We shuffle them all inside. Charley has meanwhile changed from his usually sleepy self to being a whirling dervish, and he requires two hands on the leash to keep him from sacking the office.
Two hours and $900 later, it's finally over for another year. All of our guys are well, although Sammy the cat has gained three pounds instead of losing the six extra from last year. The vet will call us later with details of a DIET, which will no doubt involve exorbitantly-priced cat food and will probably not lead to weight loss.

Oh well, at least we have another whole year before we have to do this all over again. . .

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Uni Project

Photo courtesy of Uni website

The April edition of the Goodreads newsletter has an interesting article on the Uni project, which is bringing books to the people by setting up reading rooms and seating in public places, including parks, farmers' markets, and city plazas. Currently the project is placing pop-up reading rooms at various locations in New York City. The project is non-profit, and it provides high-quality books and knowledgeable staff. Moreover, the reading rooms can be shipped across the world.

For more information on the project, including how to donate books, please click here.

It's always nice to see books shared among readers.

Monday, 7 April 2014

No More Selfies!

I am probably not the only one among you who is sick to death of "selfies", supposedly candid (but often posed) shots of oneself alone or with a group. Even President Obama has succumbed several times to the craze, only to learn that his latest selfie with David Ortiz was a Samsung marketing ploy. (The President is not amused: see

With spring here, it would be nice to see people, especially adolescents, moving outdoors to see what's awakening in the world. So far, I've spotted robins and red-winged blackbirds and that sure harbinger of spring, the Canada goose. The snow is gradually melting (unless you live in Newfoundland) and, fingers crossed, we've hopefully seen the last of snow storms.

You can even take non-selfie pictures of birds and wildlife outside. . . 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Elementary, My Dear Watson?

Jerome Caminada
The Telegraph has an interesting article on Jerome Caminada, the real-life detective who may well have been the inspiration for the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Author Angela Buckley has written a biography of Caminada entitled The Real Sherlock Holmes, which underlines the similarities in character, methods, and case work between the real and fictional detectives.

Buckley states that “Caminada became a national figure at just the time that Sherlock Holmes was being created. There are so many parallels that it is clear Doyle was using parts of this real character for his.”

Caminada spent most of his career with the Manchester City Police Force, later operating as a consulting detective. He relied on an extensive network of informants to keep him apprised of criminal activity and would often move among the underworld in disguise. He was purportedly responsible for putting 1225 criminals behind bars.
For the full text of the article, please see

For an article on Angela Buckley and her book, please see


Monday, 24 March 2014

Historical Crime Fiction, Anyone?

Historical crime fiction writer S.J. Parris has recently published her latest Giordano Bruno novel in a series set in Elizabethan England and featuring the unlikely detective duo of a monk and a courtier-poet. (The latter is Philip Sidney, whose poetry you probably read if you were an undergraduate in English literature.) The novel is reviewed in The Telegraph.

The Telegraph recently carried an article by Parris entitled "The Best Murder Mysteries Are Historical" in which she postulates that reading about crime in an historical setting is more satisfying to the reader. 

Parris states:

Writing history is a kind of detective work, so it’s no surprise that the murder mystery lends itself so well to historical settings. Part of the pleasure of historical crime is that it allows a return to the golden age of the amateur detective, before investigations depended on forensics and CCTV.

Among her favorite historical crime novels are Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, based on the murder of the Princes in the Tower (Edward and Richard); Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, a tale of ritualistic murders inside a 14th-century monastery, and novels by Iain Pears, Charles Palliser, and Matthew Pearl.

For the full text of the article, please click here.