Martin John book cover

Martin John by Anakana Schofield

I tried.  I really did try to read Martin John.  The book won a whole slew of awards and was a finalist for the Giller Prize.  Based on these requirements, I figured Martin John would be a fantastic book.  Unfortunately I guessed wrong.

I’m sure Martin John is a good book, but I just couldn’t get through it.  The writing style was not something that I was used to, and I found it difficult to follow.  The main character, curiously enough named Martin John, was an interesting protagonist.  That was enough to keep my interest for 68 pages but not enough to hold my interest for the full 321 pages, and that’s a shame too.  I really thought I’d be able to make to the end of the book, especially since the way author Anakana Schofield wrote the book, many of the pages in the book were not even full pages.  There was a lot of white space.  So finishing the book shouldn’t have been a problem.

But it was.

And so the book will go back to the library, unread.  I’ll add the book to a running list that I have of books that I’ve been unable to read.  Perhaps I’ll get back to Martin John at a later date, but based on the number of great books out there waiting to be read, I doubt it.

Hot Art

Hot Art by Joshua Knelman

Walking out of the library the other week, the book Hot Art was placed by the front door as a book that readers might find of interest.  Reading the inside jacket, the book focused on the whole underground art theft movement.  Hmm.  I’m a sucker for real life crime books, plus the book was written by a Canadian out of Toronto, and the book was Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Nonfiction.  So I figured why not?  Thus Hot Art found its way in to my hand and out of the library we went.

So what is the book about?  In short the book is all about art, how it gets stolen and once it is stolen, how that art finds its way in to the hands of collectors.  What I found most interesting about Hot Art is the utter lack of interest in law enforcement to go after art thieves.  And really, it is easy to understand why.  When there are murders and much more serious crimes involving personal injury going on around the world, it is a hard sell to budget conscience police departments that an art recovery unit is needed.  But what I found more interesting is that the value of the art recovered is above the valued attributed to other crimes.

In short, dollar for dollar, art recovery pays more back to the police than other types of crime.  Go figure!  I would not have guessed that.

What I also found interesting in reading Hot Art is how the dollar value of the art work has increased so much.  Basically the art world is completely unregulated so art work is sold for whatever the market will bare.  This has huge implications as works of art that were once hanging on walls to be appreciated, are now being used as currency in the black market.  Funny that.  Who would have thought that a Picasso would be the equivalent of currency?

Hot Art is a good book.  If true crime books are your thing, and you’re interested in the whole underground art thing, Hot Art is the book for you.

Just finished reading Hot Art.  I want to do a full review shortly but in the meantime here’s a quick 20 words.  Good book.  If you are at all interested in the underground art scene, then this book is a must read.  And by underground art scene I am talking about the buying and selling of stolen art.  Not some cool new art show.  Full review to follow shortly.

Cover of Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris

Cover of Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris

So this book, Travelers Rest, was by the front door of the library in the ‘recommended’ section when I walked in last week.  I read the inside of the cover and I figure why not?  The premise of the story is very Hotel California-esque.  A family pulls off the interstate because the weather is bad and they decide to stay in a hotel called Travelers Rest.  As soon as they get in the hotel, they suspect something is up/wrong, but by then it is too late.  The family as been sucked in.  The question is, will they get out of the hotel or be trapped for all eternity?

Travelers Rest is a good book.  Easy read, likeable characters and a plot/story that feels very much like a ghost story.  In reading the story I kept coming back to the lyrics of Hotel California where people check in, but never leave.  Travelers Rest is very much in the same vein and I would be surprised if author Keith Lee Morris was not influenced at least a little bit by that song.

I had a hard time putting this book.  Once I started I wanted to find out what would happen to everyone.  Would the kid, Dewey, get out or be stuck as a souvenir?  What about Tonio and his wife Julia?  Would they find each other and rekindle the love they once had for one another?  Then there’s Tonio’s brother Robbie.  An alcoholic and someone who has been in and out of rehab many many times.  Will he pull it together long enough to figure out how to save his family or descend in to a drunken stupor and ride it out?  Throw all of this together and you have the premise for a good book/story, which is why I had a hard time putting this book down.

If you’re looking for a quick summer read at the cabin, this book is for you.  Just make sure you’re not reading it alone at night.  This book is spooky!

A bunch of things

So while it looks like I have not been reading, that is not the case.  At all in fact.  I have been reading.  A lot.  Trouble is finding the time to write reviews.  THAT is what it not happening.  While I know it is a cop-out, here is a quick and dirty listing of some books that I have read recently and what I thought of them.  Just quick one-line reviews.  That’s it.

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings – couldn’t get past the first 30 pages.  A shame as I heard good things about this book
  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – great book for anyone interested in the Pacific Northwest music scene
  • The City Under the Skin – good read, nice page turner.  Definitely recommend
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher – good Victorian murder mystery based on facts.  Definitely recommend
  • Six and a Half Deadly Sins – if you like quirky mystery novels with funny and lovable characters, this book is for you
  • How Music Got Free – all about how music piracy.  Interesting reading by poorly written

That’s all for now.  Sorry for the half-assed reviews.  I used to be really good at getting reviews up on and on here once a book had been read.  But then podcasts, good TV (Walking Dead anyone?) and life got in the way.  And boom!  So much for book reviews.  With summer just around the corner here, reading will likely take a backseat as I try to get outside more and more.

But who knows?  Throw in a road trip here or there and boom.  A bunch of reading will take place and then I’ll ideally be more motivated to get rviews up on here.  In the meantime, I hope anyone reading this is having a great summer and managing to read more than I am.

Am I the only one who is not getting this book?  I have tried to read City On Fire.  I really have.  But the book just drags.  And drags.  And drags.  I know City On Fire is supposed to be THE book this year, but so far it’s been pretty much a yawn for me.  I do have to give the book back to the library in a door or so, and I definitely won’t finish it by then.  The question is, will I put my name down on the wait list to get the book out again?

The answer: yes.  I don’t dislike the book so much that I won’t bother reading it.  City On Fire is definitely a book I want to finish reading if only so that I can say I finished it.  A quickie looksee on Amazon shows that I am not the only one who feels this way.  The one and only review has given the book 1 star.  Oi.  Not to mention the CBC had a review/comment on the book and the reviewer was not a fan of City On Fire either.

Well you know the saying right.  Mystery loves company.  And since those other reviewers were miserable reading the book I might as well be too.

I absolutely love podcasts.  In fact I am probably listening to too many podcasts for my own good.  I have so many of them that I can’t get through all the podcasts good time.  Anyway, enough about my problems.  One of the podcasts that I listened to put me on to the book The Genius Factory.  And, upon hearing of this book I knew I had to give it a read.

The book covers one of the most interesting stories in American History.  A little known American millionaire was going to create a gene repository for only the best and brightest.  The name of the gene repository?  The Repository for Germinal Choice–nicknamed the Nobel Prize sperm bank, called so because the founder wanted no one else for his sperm bank except for Nobel Prize winners.

The sperm bank opened 1980, and for two decades and for close to twenty year impregnated women from all over the world.  Trouble is, the bank was stocked with less Nobel prize winners and more lawyers, doctors, scientists and businessmen.  Nevertheless, the bank did its but by 1999 the bank closed its doors.  Any records were seemingly lost and those children fathered by the bank all but forgotten.

Then in 2001 David Plotz decided to see what happened to all those kids and launched a cross-country investigation.  Plotz managed to meet mothers, sperm doners, and kids of the doners.  All done while protecting the identity of people Plotz was meeting.

I loved this book.  Plotz writes about a complex theory in very simplistic terms.  The interviews he has with the people in the book come across as compassionate and well thought out.  I must confess that once I picked this book up, I could NOT put it down.  If anyone has any interest in eugenics or just the whole fascination with ideas that eccentric millionaire come up with, this book is definitely for you.  Give it a read.

Again this is one of those books that I have no idea where it came from or why it was recommended to me.  But it’s definitely one of those books that I am glad I read.  The premise?  A virus (the Georgian Flu) wipes out most of mankind.  Think The Walking Dead only there are no zombies this time around.  Just bands of marauding villains (although we don’t see any of those in the book).  Enter a traveling theatre that performs Shakespeare.

The theatre company calls themselves the Traveling Symphony.  They move around the recreated world putting on plays, playing music, and of course doing Shakespeare plays.  Life in the settled areas is for the most part safe, but rumour persist of a man who calls himself The Prophet is spreading havoc in his little community.  Will this impact on the Traveling Symphony?  And if so, how?

I liked this book.  The way author Emily St. John Mandel structures the story, moving back and forth in time, was extremely well done.  Not only that, the way she ties in all of the little threads of the story back together in the end is truly magical.  When reading this book I kept getting flashes of The Night Circus.  While I was not a fan of The Night Circus, I am definitely a fan of Station Eleven.

If you’re looking for a ‘end of days’ book, or at least how I call them, and one that is not totally depressing, then Station Eleven is for you.  Plus if you’re Canadian you must read this book.  The Canadian references are nicely done.

I know/realize that there has not been a lot of updates around here.  Fear not!  There are some reviews on the way.  The trouble is finding the time to put fingers to keys and actually pound out a review or three!  With fall around the corner though, it will mean more computer time and more time to read.  So fear not intrepid reader, reviews will be here shortly.

Thank you for your patience.

I have no idea where I heard about this book from.  Most probably it was from a must read list that I culled off the internet at some point.  But whatever. I used to collect comics as a kid so why not give a graphic novel a read for a change.

So what is Shoplifter all about?  The book focuses on the life and times of Corrina Park.   Corrina didn’t want a job in advertising.  Instead she saw herself as an author.  As someone who would spend their days writing and living life.  Instead, Corrina finds herself working for an ad agency and writing copy.  Definitely not the life Corrina was looking for.

Author Michael Cho writes a good story and manages to illustrate a good story too.  I am not a fan of the colour selection used to illustrate the story, but that’s a personal choice.  This is a good graphic novel.  In fewer than 100 pages Cho conveys a nice story and manages to introduce us to world that is likely more truthful than many want to admit.  That may of us are doing jobs that we don’t like, that don’t speak to us, but are taken because we all need to pay the bills.

I recommend giving his book a read.  I read the book in one day.  Shoplifter is a good story and what more could you ask for?