I ended up reading 7 books this month – technically 8, but one book I’m not counting because it was a re-read I did of a book I wrote, so I can’t exactly review it lol.
Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything (Hans Ulrich Obrist)
This oversize book was a companion to Coupland’s show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It contains a collection of essays and interviews about the artist and his work. There is also a large collection of photos of much of the collection. I am much more familiar with Coupland’s work as a writer, and have only seen a small amount of his artwork (mostly public art pieces) so it was interesting to get a view of a show I missed. His Canadian-centred art in particular speaks to me – it truly is a secret handshake, and there is a lot of familiarity and nostalgia in the images that wouldn’t be felt by non-Canadians. Overall the book is a great overview of work – but if you’re like me and took it out of the library, be warned it’s big and heavy lol.
Literary Listography: My Reading Life in Lists (Lisa Nola)
This book is a cool collection of list prompts. You can fill it out and get a great overview of your favourite characters, books, genres and authors. It’s not a long read since it is mostly list headings, but it also includes some cool illustrations of book examples. My bestie gave me this, and I love filling out the lists, and going back to add a new book when I read something good. There’s a lot of lists, and many that I never would’ve thought of myself. It reminds me a bit of an offline Goodreads, which is fun. I recommend this a lot if you love reading and are a listaholic like me.
Hole in the Wall Gang (Frank Cullotta)
This book is in Frank’s own words, about his life – from his early days as a criminal in Chicago, to the Las Vegas days with Tony Spilotro and his days as a government witness. Frank doesn’t pull any punches in this book. I’ve heard him speak before (the Mob Museum has had some great events with him) and I could hear his voice very clearly in the writing. It’s not always grammatically correct, but it gives you a great feel for Frank and his world. He goes into detail about crimes he committed, including murder, and I appreciated the fact he just lays it all out there. He doesn’t portray himself in the best light all the time, so the book has a real feeling of honesty. It also really draws you into a world that people got into knowing what they’d have to do – be it burglary, murder or arson. I was very lucky to get an autographed copy of his book, and I highly recommend it, especially for Vegas history buffs or those who enjoy true crime, especially when it’s mafia related.
Night and Day (Iris Johansen)
This is the conclusion to Hide Away (which is a continuation of Shadow Play). We continue to follow Eve, Joe and friends as they attempt to get young Cara away from her sociopathic mother and her Russian mafia father. I was at least happy this book didn’t contain her stereotypical “oversexed male psycho who wants to kill Eve” character (he was dispatched in the previous book …) and had a female villain this time. I just feel like Johansen’s villains are so overwrought now that you can’t take the book seriously. The romance elements with Jane and Caleb and Joe and Eve are also drawn out and overdone. I guess I just feel like this series and these characters have run their course, and the attempts to keep it going aren’t working for me. I’d rather read her Catherine Ling, Margaret Douglas or Kendra Michaels books now. Even the new element to Eve’s life doesn’t feel like it will add anything new to the series … well, except overbearing male characters on a protection kick and women who do what they want with no thought to those around them …
A Novel Journal: The Brothers Grimm (Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm)
So this is an odd book. I don’t mean because of the stories, I mean because of the format. It’s a journal, and each line to write on is formed by the book text, printed very, very small. It took awhile to read the book because of that – I couldn’t read too much of it at a time without getting a headache. Many of the stories are familiar as the fairy tales Disney has repurposed, although these are in their original forms which are more violent and not as prone to happy endings. In reality, this book isn’t really meant to be read, so much as used. If you’d like to read the original Grimm stories, I’d definitely recommend getting a normal print sized book, but if you’re a fan, this journal is a really great and unique one. I’m also a big fountain pen user, and the paper is AMAZING for fountain pens. It shows off sheen and shimmer really, really well.
Find Her (Lisa Gardner)
The latest DD Warren novel, it focuses on kidnap victim Flora Dane, who was rescued after 472 days in captivity. Flora has started luring potential predators in an effort to find other missing women, and now she’s gone missing again. The book uses Flora’s first person POV, with her flashing back to captivity and her present situation, as well as 3rd person POV from DD Warren. I was happy to see DD’s injury from the previous book is still an issue for her, as it causes her to operate a bit differently than usual. I really enjoyed this book – all of Lisa Gardner’s work is great – and I liked that the mystery of who is kidnapping these women isn’t really the focus – it’s more on Flora and how her captivity changed her, and how she is traveling a road back to living. It highlights some issues of trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome that I find really interesting. I’d definitely recommend this book if you like suspense thrillers (but I’d also recommend starting at book 1!).
Play With Fire (Dana Stabenow)
This is book 5 in the Kate Shugak series. I think one of my favourite things about this book is the fact that I finally found characters that share my views when it comes to religion. It was refreshing to see a few characters who still believed, but are angry at the way organized religion has co-opted faith, others that are antagonistic toward all organized religions. Overall, the book was great just for this. The case Kate deals with is of a body found while mushroom picking, and its connection to the local hellfire and brimstone preacher in a local town. Goodreads seems divided on the book as a lot of readers seem to expect this to be a traditional murder mystery. The books are shelved in mystery at my local library, so it’s no wonder, but honestly … this book is not a murder mystery. It’s more of a continuation of character exploration with a case added. I think a lot of people hate the ending … and I was not one of them. I found it refreshing to find a book willing to “go there” with the conclusion of the case. As it may be. I really, really love this series. Kate is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve come across in a long time, and I really appreciate all I’m learning about Alaska and issues in that region. Definitely pick up this series, but also temper your hopes that it’ll be a traditional mystery series – while some cases (books) turn out that way, others don’t, and I think the series is stronger for it.
Total books read this year – 35
Canadian books read – 12/35
I lost quite a bit of footing this month on Canadian reads. I included the Coupland book as it’s about a Canadian with lots of Canadiana in it, although it wasn’t written by a Canadian.