Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

I am in the time after the Waterless Flood, trying to survive. It's pretty bleak here, and the Gardeners, who honor the earth are battling against Corps which control the media and nearly everything else. (The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BOOK: Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, 418 pages

Typically British Challenge;
released September 21, 2010 in Canada, thanks to Random House Canada for the review copy

Becky Branford, nee Bloomwood drives me crazy in so many ways! Does she never learn? Wouldn't it be easier in to just tell the truth? But, if Becky ever learned, then these enjoyable romps wouldn't be nearly so much fun. It's silly fluff, but well written; the characters are true to form, and Becky, while flighty, has a good heart and just doesn't want to disappoint anyone.

Minnie is now a willful two year old, as obsessed with shopping as Becky is, screaming "Miine, dolly!" in the store and getting banned from Santa's Grotto at the mall. The financial crisis has hit London, and all must do their part. (Becky and her mother discover the joy of the Pound Shop, and 'save' a pile of money with all the deals they discover.) The main story is that Becky is planning a surprise birthday party for the long suffering Luke. All our favorite characters, Suze, sister Jess, Becky's parents, and Luke's estranged mother Elinor, are back to help Becky get the party organized, with several disasters along the way, natch. Kinsella makes great use of the new technology to further the plot (high powered Luke never lets go of his Blackberry, for example) and the fashion names are still being dropped like crazy, even if Becky has to go to the outlet mall to get her discounts.

Kinsella writes this type of story as well as anyone. I wouldn't start with this book, but fans of the series will not be disappointed. While I prefer her stand alone books (Twenties Girl was one of my favorite books from last year), checking in with Becky now and then provides for a weekend of amusing, fun reading. This story left the possibility of another escapade with Becky, Luke and Minnie, and I look forward to it.

my Shopaholic and Baby review from March 2008

also reviewed:
wendy and her sister Paula at caribousmom;

Sunday, September 19, 2010

BOOK: Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler

Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler, 417 pages

4th CBC Challenge; Giller Prize Winner 1997; 2nds Challenge

As another Barney might say, "This is legend-wait for it-ary". Barney Panofsky, English speaking, Jewish Montrealer is telling his life story, since that bastard Terry McIver wrote a book about Barney's life and Barney wants to set the record straight. Barney is pretty honest about his life - living in Paris in the 1950s, his three wives - one buried, and two divorced, his career in television, his three children. Oh, yeah, and the murder charge of his best friend he was acquitted on.

Richler has the amazing ability to write characters who are awful, with few redeeming characteristics, and yet I still like them. He first did this with Duddy Kravitz, who makes some wonderful cameos in Barney's Version, and now with Barney Panofsky. Fans of the unreliable narrator will have much to chew on here, as Barney is a bit forgetful now that he is sixty-eight, plus, how honest can he be about some of the shitty things he's done? The mystery of the murder hangs over the whole story - what happened to Boogie that night at the cottage? Did Barney kill him?

My only complaint is the length. I wish it had been a hundred pages less. Richler packs the pages with so many literary allusions and references that it slowed me down, and I'm sure I only caught a small percentage. The memoirs have footnotes, as one of Barney's children has gone through and made the corrections of known facts, which adds to the references. I liked the footnotes as it helped reference what Barney was really able to remember or not. For example, even in his muddled state, he remembers all the Montreal Canadiens' games and goal scorers, a nice touch. Also, the Second Mrs Panofsky, as she is always called, is a nonstop talker, and when I'd hit a page with one of her conversations with her mother on the phone, I'd practically groan. It's a credit to Richler that I'd still read it because I was scared I would miss some important part of the narrative within her rambling nattering. What was Barney's perspective of her perspective of him?

In other good news, this has just been made into a movie, with Paul Giamatti as Barney. I think it had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and I am looking forward to seeing it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

BOOK: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, 284 pages

RIV V; Suspense and Thriller Challenge

I've never watched Dexter, but I think maybe I should start. This was a really fun book, perfect for the Readers Imbibing Peril V Challenge. The best person to catch serial killers would be a person who understands their mind - a serial killer himself! That's what Dexter Morgan does - crime scene investigator, blood-splatter expert by day, serial killer by night, but only killing the bad people. He is detached, as any good sociopath/psychopath should be, not able to relate to normal people, but is smart enough to recognize the steps he needs to go through (girlfriend, nothing flashy lifestyle, wave to neighbours) to not draw attention to himself. The word play and quick repartee are very well done. I can't wait to read the next in the series, Dearly Devoted Dexter, and I've bookmarked the season 1 DVD at the library.

Monday, September 6, 2010

BOOK: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 389 pages

It's the End of the World as We Know It; RIP V; Young Adult Challenge

So, who thought she was being smart, pre-ordering Mockingjay in July? Who didn't realize that Chapters would not even begin to mail it to them until the evening of the day it was released after I had already complained that I didn't have it yet? And who is never going to pre-order a book from Chapters again? Who placed her next little book order from Amazon? Yeah, I was bitter before I started this book.

It was good, a quick read with everything that should have happened. I liked how Collins wrapped up the story although lots of violence and death with the war and all. I read it as fast as I could, with the twelve year old son pushing me along. I have not much to add to this. I eventually went back to read some reviews, but everyone has been very careful about not giving anything away. So nothing interesting from me.

BOOK: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston, 562 pages

4th Canadian Book Challenge; Giller Shortlist 1998

Newfoundland joined Canada in 1948 after a referendum. Joey Smallwood was the first premier of Newfoundland, which made him a Father of Confederation. He died in 1991. That about sums up my knowledge of Newfoundland history, in relation to Canada, at least until I read this book. Johnston has written a book for Newfoundland that covers the life of Joey Smallwood, born in 1900.

It's epic, as is Newfoundland.
On the other hand, I was an islander. I wondered, if like [my father], I would be so bewildered by the sheer unknowable, unencompassable size of the world that I would have to come back home. How could you say for certain where you were, where home left off and away began, if the earth that you were standing on went on forever, as it must have seemed to him, in all directions? For an islander, there had to be natural limits, gaps, demarcations, not just artificial ones on a map. p 132

I, living on an island, completely understand this passage. Johnston has a way of letting the reader see Newfoundland, along the railway, in the outports, or in St.John's. And Joey Smallwood was a Newfoundlander to the core. Based on the wikipedia article, he described his character and all the conflicts in Smallwood very well. I had to read the article to get an idea of what was real and what wasn't. 

Here's what I was surprised wasn't real. The main conflict for Smallwood, other than wanting to be remembered for something, was his obsession with a local reporter, Sheilagh Fielding. They had gone to school together and an incident, reminiscent of Robertson Davis' Fifth Business, haunts them. Smallwood was from the wrong side of the tracks but was given a chance to attend a tony prep school and always wanted to be famous, to show 'them' he was worth something. The incident with Prowse (the rich guy), Fielding, and Smallwood makes up a bit of a mystery that stitches its way through the novel. But Fielding wasn't a real person. I didn't like that. She was an obsession for Smallwood. He was almost portrayed as asexual, except for his dealings with Fielding. This seemed to go against his character and if I was a family member, this would bother me. His real wife, Clara, is barely mentioned in the story.

The Fielding character provides the humour for sure. Her articles were dry and biting.  She was also writing a concise history of Newfoundland, and I'd love to read her take on the history of any province, or Canada. It certainly could have livened up Canadian history in high school if it had been written by Fielding.

I liked how the author managed to include a lot of Smallwood's real life, and it was his interactions with the people of Newfoundland that I liked best. The real history, not the made up stuff. The made up stuff was well written, with a mystery that I didn't suspect but was rationally explained, with fascinating characters. I just didn't think it belonged in the book. Once I realized Fielding was a made up character, I questioned everything, which defeats the point of a historical novel for me. I would encourage any one interested in Newfoundland history to have a look at this epic novel, but to be aware that not all is true. (And I know, it's fiction, but historical fiction should not make up major parts.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings
runs now until October 31, 2010

All my favorite types of books:
Dark Fantasy.

Peril the First - read 4 books

Pool of possible reads:
Broken Shore by Peter Temple
Room by Emma Donaghue
The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin
The Murder Stone by Louise Penny
Thirteen Hours by Deon Myer
Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Black Echo by Michael Connolly
Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Any you think I really need to read?

The ones I read:
  1. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins 09/06
  2. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay 09/10
  3. Room - Emma Donoghue 10/02
  4. The Darkest Room - Johan Theorin 10/13
  5. Fear the Worst - Linwood Barclay 10/16
  6. The Murder Stone - Louise Penny 10/23
  7. Thirteen Hours - Deon Meyer 10/30