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Harper Collins Canada

Friday, July 06, 2007

Book Reviews from a Canadian blogger

Canadian blogger ... that’s me, Monique Trottier. Here in Vancouver. I review books.

Yah right, where and when you might ask?

Well, I’ve fallen behind recently. I like to post an individual review for each book, but I’m desperate so here’s the quick roundup.

Town House by Tish Cohen
Very funny. Jack is afraid to leave the house. Clinically. This is a novel about the madcap adventures of Jack Madigan, son of legendary rock legend Bas Madigan. It’s quirky. I really liked it. Please have a look at this book.

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt
My first science fiction read. Ok, maybe not the first but the first I remember. David Perkins is the victim of a well-orchestrated scheme to let clones and frogs control the Earth. That’s not entirely accurate but I have 3 minutes before my flight. This was a good book too. Really well written. Not sure if I’m a fan of sci-fi yet, but if it’s all like this, I’ll try it.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
If you pick any title in this list to investigate further, sorry no links, then pick this one. Baby is the main character. We follow her from childhood to older childhood. I truly believe that we use stories to make sense of the world. Baby tells herself pretty incredible stories to try to understand her druggie father, her missing mother, her attraction to the wrong sorts of men, the screwed up system of Child and Family Services. Heather has created a strong and confident voice in this character. As a novel it does all sorts of things right. For good or bad, it reminds me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Strange characters, a look inside those characters’ minds, great writing, a bit of soul searching and strong narrative. 5 starts for sure.

The Big Moo by Seth Godin
One-page case studies and inspirational stories from 33 experts and thought wizards. I really enjoyed this book too. It’s business but inspirational business. I think it will sit on my shelf for years to come and will be pulled off frequently. It’s one of those reads that will mean different things to you at different times. Even if you’re not self-employed, if you’re interested in company structures, organizational behaviour and big ideas, have a read.

Many, many apologies for the lack of links but I know you can all Google and Amazon. I’ll fill in the blanks later. Also no spell check so the editors in the crowd, maybe skip this post, or read lightly.

Cheers and now I’m off to Banff for a wedding.

Exit stage left. Zing!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Review: The Line Painter by Claire Cameron

I came across Claire Cameron’s The Line Painter in the HarperCollins Canada Facebook group.

See Facebook is good for something other than finding your elementary school detention partner.

The Line Painter is not a book I would typically pick up. It looks like a thriller. I suppose the quote from Andrew Pyper on the front should have been the clue that it was more literary than it looks. But I judge by the cover.

Anyway, The Line Painter is about dippy-canoe Carrie running away from home. Seems I only read books about run-aways these days. Carrie is an adult running away. Her boyfriend has been killing in an accident. The accident happens moments after they have a huge fight. She’s a little torn by what’s happened and feels lost in her world.

Carrie is unhappy to start with. She doesn’t know where her relationship is going, she doesn’t know where she’s going. Life is hard, confusing, and really not rewarding.

The road trip is meant to take her mind off her sucky life. The problem is the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the knight in shining armour is a psycho-looking guy who’s painting the highway lines at 20 km per hour. This rescue vehicle is less than flashy, although it does have flashy lights.

The thing that killed me about this book is the suspense. I kept waiting for the line painter to do her in. There are a couple of bears and other shady characters who I thought might get her too, but I really had my money on the crazy, alcoholic line painter.

I’m not going to tell you if I won that bet because I don’t want to ruin your life.

If you’re looking for a fast summer read, and something to make you feel a little creepy-crawlie, pick up Claire Cameron’s The Line Painter.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The stories we tell ourselves and others is how we make sense of the world.

In searching for who said the above quote I came across, “Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn’t be human beings at all” (Philip Pullman).

I was searching for the origins of these quotes in reference to Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods. Gaiman has written a book of stories, myths and legends that collide and at times are at war.

American Gods are the gods who have come to America in the minds of its immigrants. Odin, Easter, Ganesh, Anansi. The ancient gods are the left to their own devices, poised to disappeared as they are pushed out by America’s newest gods. The ones we make sacrifices to daily: TV, big cars, the internet, warfare in the name of liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

Both worlds become Shadow’s world. Shadow, who did time for assaulting his bank-robbing partners for cheating him of his share of the proceeds, who is hired by Wednesday to rally the old gods against the new, and Shadow, who represents our look into the shadows. Gaiman asks us to take a closer look at the things that sometimes catch the corner of our eye. The things that we hope not to be true, but deeply believe to exist.

As our protagonist, it is Shadow’s job to make sense of this world. To tell the story. To sort things out. To know under which cup the nut is, into which hand the coin drops.

I enjoyed this book.

Anansi Boys is still my favourite, maybe because I read it first. But American Gods is one of those novels that will hang in my mind like a remembered dream.

I wanted to write about the power of narrative, how it informs what we do, how we understand ourselves, our country, our beliefs. Instead of telling you my story, why don’t you read this one.