Author Archives: lydias

Bedroom Battle: A Review of The Teddy Bear’s War

The Teddy Bear's War by Alex Cross book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a teddy bear holding a sword. Title: The Teddy Bear’s War

Author: Alex Cross

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 17, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 9 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars


Every little kid is afraid of the dark in some way. The unknown scares us all to some extent. John is no exception. Is there a monster under the bed? A ghost in the closet? Or something else…something we don’t even have a name for? Luckily for John, he has someone looking out for him. When the thing in John’s closet goes bump in the night, it has to go through a Teddy Bear first.


Bedtime is anything but restful for this bear.

Teddy Bear was an incredibly brave toy. While John slept, he was responsible for protecting the boy from anything that might cause him harm. The reasons why Teddy Bear had taken on this role and what would happen if he failed were fascinating and well developed. I can’t go into more detail about them than that for spoiler reasons, but I was thrilled with how the author explained it all.

I also adored this story’s explanations for where nightmares come from and why they can be so terrifying, especially for kids. Not only did they make perfect sense for the plot, they made me wish that our world worked this way as well.

While I enjoyed every word of this story, the ending was particularly meaningful. It resolved all of the most important plot points while also leaving plenty of room for a sequel if the author ever decides to write one. I loved getting to know these characters and would be first in line to revisit them if we ever get a chance to see what John and Teddy Bear get up to as John grows older and Teddy Bear grows even wiser than he already is.

I can’t recommend The Teddy Bear’s War highly enough! It made my heart sing.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Indulgence

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Shar pei dog getting a face massage. This entire post could be summed up into one word: massages.

There is nothing I enjoy more than getting a gentle massage from someone who has a lot of experience giving them.

It’s one of the most relaxing things I can possibly imagine. I carry tension in my back and shoulders that sometimes translates into pain, so it’s glorious to have all of those knots gently loosened and sorted out.

Years ago, there was a massage studio somewhat close to my house that offered back massages at a pretty reasonable rate.

They’ve since closed, but I will be keeping an eye out for future massage opportunities once this pandemic has ended and it’s safe to get them again.

(And, no, that isn’t my dog in the photo in today’s post. I simply wanted to share a photo related to massage that was G-rated for anyone who reads this at work. Some of the massage photos on stock photo sites can be a little risqué!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Mountains on Their Covers

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A mountain half bathed in evening sunlight. It is reflected in a perfectly-still lake at the foot of the mountain. Mountains are one of my favourite natural settings to find on book covers. They’re so majestic and breathtaking!

I spent part of my childhood living right next to a large mountain range, so they also bring up happy memories from those years.

There’s nothing like being nestled right next to the mountains.  You get so much snow in the winter, and the summers are nice and mild as well.

Here are ten beautiful covers that include mountains on them.

This list turned out to have more North American mountains on it than I was originally intending to include. If you know of beautiful book covers about mountain ranges in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them.

The Mountains That Remade America- How Sierra Nevada Geology Impacts Modern Life by Craig H Jones book cover. Image on cover shows a mountain in Nevada that's right next to a highway

1. The Mountains That Remade America: How Sierra Nevada Geology Impacts Modern Life
by Craig H Jones

The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti book cover. Image on cover is a photo of snow-covered mountains.

2. The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti

Everest- Mountain without Mercy by Broughton Coburn book cover. Image on cover shows sun setting on Mount Everest.

3. Everest: Mountain without Mercy by Broughton Coburn

Annapurna- The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak by Maurice Herzog book cover. Image on cover shows sun setting on Annapurna mountain peak.

4. Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak by Maurice Herzog

Uluru- Australia's Aboriginal Heart by Caroline Arnold book cover. Image on cover shows Mount Uluru in all of it's red, dusty glory.

5. Uluru: Australia’s Aboriginal Heart by Caroline Arnold

Walking in the Caucasus - Georgia by Peter Nasmyth book cover. Image on cover shows mountain covered in clouds and snow peeking above a thick forest of pine trees.

6. Walking in the Caucasus – Georgia by Peter Nasmyth

Adirondacks- Views of An American Wilderness by Carl E. Heilman II book cover. Image on cover is panoramic shot from a mountaintop to the lush forest and lake below.

7. Adirondacks: Views of An American Wilderness by Carl E. Heilman II

If Mountains Die- A New Mexico Memoir by John Nichols book cover. Image on cover shows stormy clouds passing over mountains bathed in red evening light.

8. If Mountains Die: A New Mexico Memoir by John Nichols\

Hannibal's March- Alps and Elephants by Gavin de Beer book cover. Image on cover is a painting of the Alps in spring when some snow still remains on them.

9. Hannibal’s March: Alps and Elephants by Gavin de Beer

The Sound of Mountain Water by Wallace Stegner book cover. Image on cover is of a mountain stream filled with water rushing over the many rocks in it.

10. The Sound of Mountain Water by Wallace Stegner

A Photo Essay Update on Damaged Toronto Trees

Last year I shared photos from one of the parks in Toronto once a month to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is an update to two trees in that series that were badly damaged in a winter storm in early 2020.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, November, and December, and January to read the earlier posts and see what the park is like throughout the year.

Welcome back to this photo essay series! This post will be shorter than previous instalments in it since I’m only focusing on the two damaged trees that some readers requested an update on after the winter of 2020-2021 ended.

Photo of a damaged tree whose branches are curving downward.

Let’s begin with the tree that lost a third of its leaves in that storm last year.

Look at how nearly all of its branches continue to bend down. You rarely see anything like that here.


A large branch that has fallen off of a sick tree.

A week or two ago, I noticed a branch that was taller than me lying on the ground next to it. I suspect that it fell off during a recent storm due to the lack of cut marks on it and the way the bark was peeled off, but I can’t say for certain.

A large bare tree branch lying on the ground.

On a more recent visit, I saw this. I thought it was the same branch but also couldn’t confirm it.

A possibly rotting trunk of a tree.

The trunk looks like it’s beginning to split open, and something appears to be growing inside of it. Maybe it’s mould or a fungus of some sort?

I worry about the survival of this tree as well as the possibility of someone getting hurt if a large branch falls on them while they’re standing near it.

Closeup of a tree that lost half of it's branches.

In happier news, the tree that originally lost half of its branches and a good chunk of its trunk is not showing any signs of mould (or whatever that stringy stuff was) growing in it. The wound on its drunk appears to be dry. There are no deep cracks in the wood, and all of it’s branches are as straight as the branches on healthy trees nearby. Landscape shot of a tree that lost half of it's branches in a storm in 2020. It's just beginning to bud again.

And to think I originally assumed this tree had been killed in that storm! Nature is full of surprises.

Side view of tree that lost half of it's branches in a 2020 storm. The branches that still remain are just beginning to sprout many new leaves.


May it stick around for many years to come.

I’ll continue to keep an eye on these trees and will provide another update in this series if either one of them experiences a dramatic change in health for the better or the worse. My hope is that any future update in this series will only contain good news, but we’ll have to see what happens.

If you’ve ever seen trees in your area go through similar injuries, I’d love to hear about your experiences there.

My reduction in blogging time will continue on for now. As much as I miss interacting with all of you more often, I’m enjoying the quieter schedule and using that writing time to focus on my speculative fiction.

A Quiet Life: A Review of The Retirement

The Retirement by Keith Minnion book cover. Image on cover is of multiple gravestones crowded into a graveyard together. Title: The Retirement

Author: Keith Minnion

Publisher: White Noise Press

Publication Date: January 4, 2021

Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 9 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


Charles Midwich, a recent retiree, decides to move to a new state, a new town, an entirely new life and lifestyle. What he finds once he gets there, and settles in, is nothing like what he ever expected.


What is your idea of the perfect retirement plan?

Mr. Minnion’s beautiful writing style sucked me into the plot immediately. He knew exactly when to describe one moment in detail and when to leave other details up to the reader’s imagination. I enjoyed switching between his descriptions of the scenes and characters and coming up with my own theories about the things he only mentioned briefly.

Unfortunately, the author gave far too many clues about what was happening to Charles as this character adjusted to retirement. I had a hunch about the ending from reading the blurb, and I was certain I was right by the time I finished the first scene. It would have been nice to be challenged more here.

With that being said, there was something about Charles I really liked. He was a conscientious man who thought through every decision he made carefully. I also appreciated how calm and polite he was no matter if he was ordering honey fig scones at the local bakery or taking a quiet stroll through the cemetery. This was one character I’d love to eat scones with, so don’t be frightened off by the horror tag if this isn’t a genre you normally read.

The Retirement was short, thoughtful, and worth checking out.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Ten Most Recent Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl Along with my blogging slowdown as of about a month ago, I’ve also been reading less.   The good news is that I’ve been enjoying what I’m reading more than I did when my list of finished books was longer. Here are my ten most recent reads. 1. The… Read More

Hidden in Plain Sight: A Review of The Fact of the Matter

Title: The Fact of the Matter Author: Madeleine L’Engle Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Publication Date: April 21, 2020 Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Historical Length: 21 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3.5 Stars Blurb: Enjoy this free short story from award-winning author Madeleine L’Engle’s newest book, The Moment of Tenderness,… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Rabbits from Books

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl Anyone who has followed this blog or my accounts on Twitter or Goodreads for a long time knows how much I love rabbits. Today I will be sharing books about rabbits! Yes, I have read them all and recommend checking them out yourself if you’re interested. Do speak up… Read More