Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I’m not the target audience for this book.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a dystopian action-adventure novel by American author Suzanne Collins. It is a spinoff and a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy. …

Critics had a mixed overall reception …

The central character is the teenage Coriolanus Snow who would 64 years later become the dictatorial president of Panem as Donald Sutherland.

This book didn’t really work for me.  And the 10th Hunger Games were pretty horrible.

The only character of interest is Volumnia Gaul – The Head Gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games.

Fans of YA fiction where teens kill other teens will probably love it.

Needless to say, a film version is in the works.

Canada Day 2020

It’s great to be Canadian in 2020.

I’m pleased the border with the USA stays closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most celebrations this year will be virtual.

Happy Canada Day.

Rathtrevor Beach, Vancouver Island

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta

If She Wakes is Michael Koryta‘s most recent novel. (2019)

Some feel it’s his best.

Michael Connelly calls Koryta the genre’s “best of the best“.

Certainly the plot is fascinating:

Tara Beckley is in a coma. Her brain is working perfectly, but she cannot move.  She has locked-in syndrome.

Tara knows that a visiting professor has been murdered, but can’t tell anyone.  Her family is thinking of pulling the plug.

Abby Kaplan, an insurance investigator and former professional driver, is suspicious about the supposed accident

Meanwhile, two assassins have been dispatched to clean up the mess and recover a secret device. 

I did like the book and plan to read more Koryta.  Best character, for me, was Dax — son of one of my favourite characters from “Those who wish me dead”.



my Quad Lock phone accessories

What’s cooler than a man wearing a HIP pack with a phone belt clip?

A man wearing a fanny pack with two phone clips!   😀

My trusty Otterbox case has served me well. And saved me many, many times. I’ve never broken a phone. The belt clip is … OK.

When I got a second phone I tried, instead, the Quad Lock belt clip.  It’s better than Otterbox, overall.  Quad Lock was rated #1 on Wirecutter.

There’s a cheaper alternative called Nite Ize Wraptor.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I only tried that belt clip because I was looking for a way to mount my new phone on the handlebars of my touring bike.  The belt clip is compatible.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


Fair Warning by Michael Connelly

Fair Warning is the 2020 book from the author of all those excellent Harry Bosch stories.

But Bosch does not appear in this one.

It’s his 3rd novel featuring exclusively reporter Jack McEvoy,

Undetected by law enforcement, a vicious killer has been hunting women, using genetic data shared by the victims themselves to select and stalk his targets.

After reading this book you certainly will want to avoid getting your genetics checked by sites like 23andMe.   There’s very little regulation.  In the book women are tracked down by the killer by their genetics data.

His next book will feature Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller.  Bosch will return after that.

He’s also currently working on #7 and last of the Bosch TV series.

Michael Connelly’s new book is Fair Warning

Author’s Note:

This book is a work of fiction, but FairWarning is a real news site offering tough watchdog reporting on consumer issues. It is a nonprofit founded and edited by Myron Levin. Michael Connelly is a member of FairWarning’s board of directors. Go to for further information and to consider making a donation to support its important work.


My Strathcona Park hiking/cycling week

I spent 6 days in British Colombia’s 1st Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, my first time to the main part of the attraction.

Cycled first to Buttle Lake Campground.  Fantastic.  I highly recommend it for car camping.

Next day I cycled towards Gold River to try the Kings Peak hike.

It didn’t go so well.  But the cycling was excellent.

From there I headed for Flower Ridge – 2 days, 1 night.  Much better.

As Strathcona has no electricity and no mobile phone service, I relied on solar power.

My best hike was Bedwell Lakes trail.

I do recommend Strathcona for one and all.  In fact, I want to return for some longer hikes after August 1st when there will be less snow and easier navigation up high.

Strathcona Provincial Park (1911) contains the highest peaks of the Vancouver Island Ranges. Some notable mountains located within the park boundaries include:

  • Golden Hinde (2198 m)
  • Elkhorn Mountain (2166 m)
  • Mount Colonel Foster (2129 m)
  • Mount Albert Edward (2093 m)

Exploring Strathcona Park is the best guidebook. It’s not inexpensive, but worth it. Great maps. Colour photos. Comprehensive coverage.

Author Phil Stone is truly an expert.

I’ll be carrying a dead tree copy on my bike.

And I plan to be spending quite a bit of time in Strathcona over coming years working towards establishing a possible coast-to-coast Vancouver Island route.

Detailed map.