Lori's Book Nook

Reviewed Books

Posted on: January 5, 2008

In an earlier post, I listed the books that arrived in my mailbox to review. I’m going to list them again, but this time, with a bit of a rating, and brief “to read or not to read” comments. Feel free to argue with me, like pretty much everything else, taste in books is all relative…

Running with Swords: The Adventures and Misadventures of the Irrepressible Canadian Fencing Champion by Sherraine MacKay (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

This one was quite lovely. Sweet, almost — if a sports bio can be that. Fencing is a sport with very little funding, and MacKay is quite funny in her stories of how training all pans out.

6 out of 10 (but I’m not a sports enthusiast…)

*   *   *

The Rage: Reflections on Risk by Steve De Maio (Rocky Mountain Books)

De Maio is a raging ego-maniac. And a jerk that can’t write. If I see/read the word ‘chortled’ again in my life, it will be too soon — he used it in almost every essay/story, and I think 3 times in one. Oh, not in the pieces where he’s playing the ugly Canadian in South America — those were appalling bits of so-called storytelling…if you like stories of tourists laden with extreme sport gear haggling over pennies for taxi fares in developing countries, yelling “You cheat me!” then by all means, pick up this book.

-2 out of 10 

*   *   *

Mental Traps: a Field Guide to the Stupid Mistakes that can Ruin Your Life by Andre Kukla (Doubleday Canada)

A neat book, written in an archaic style to mimic early ‘Field Guides’ — it is an interesting look at the mental ‘flora’ that can keep us down. I found it to be quite Epicurean, promoting a do-what-you-want attitude, as long as it does no harm, brings pleasure, and doesn’t waste your time.

6 out of 10 

*   *   *

Zed by Elizabeth McClung (Arsenal Pulp Press)

I blogged about this one. Great novel. Great character. Get this book and read it.

9 out of 10

 *   *   *

Mallory by Margaret Gunning (Turnstone Press)

Good novel…interesting turns, great title character. I almost wished it were thicker, just to get more of the characters…but would it have been the same? No, probably not.

8 out of 10

*   *   *

Certainty: a novel by Madeline Thien (McClelland & Stewart)

A delicious book when I read it, but when it came time to write the review, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was actually about. A visitor to my illustrious blog left a link to her review of it, so check it out.

7.5 out of 10 

 *   *   *

The Best Way You Know How by Christine Pountney (Penguin)

Vaguely experimental in style — no quotes for the conversations, all written in the present tense, some weird weird weird long-winded similes (“…and the best man comes running over, the flaps of his jacket billowing to reveal the shiny beige lining like the pages of an open book left out to flutter in the breeze on a summer porch by a child who’s rushed down to the lake to plunge into the water and drown.”). I was intrigued to keep reading, but in the end I felt a little cheated.

3.5 out of 10 

*   *   *

Gotta Find Me an Angel: A Novel by Brenda Brooks (Raincoast)

Fun premise, great characters, honest dialogue, wonderful descriptive moments…this is one to pick up. The author is a poet, and there are moments that you can really tell. The characters happen to be lesbians, even the ghost, if you’re tired of the ubiquitous hetero fare.

9 out of 10 

Keep in mind, a rating of 10 out of 10 is really hard to come by. 🙂

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4 Responses to "Reviewed Books"

Our library had already bought Zed so I took it to read in Cuba. (I can’t remember if I said this before I left.) I too would give it 9 out of 10. Funny about books and their covers, Marcus read this one and immediately put it down. Physically and verbally. I rarely look at the cover and I had read the first chapter here so I didn’t even glance at this one. It was not good nor descriptive either. I could see his point, too bad because he would have liked it.

@Lydia
You didn’t mention you’d picked it up at the library — the last we discussed it, I sent you to the library to ask them to buy it! 🙂

I’m glad you liked it…and you’re right about covers. Like all clichés, there’s some truth to it. I’m sure we all have books we’ve picked up or put down because of the cover. I like the cover of Zed because it really seems to exemplify the novel…a very dark tale that all takes place in one building. I’m sure you razz’d Marcus enough about judging this book so harshly!

The front is great but the back starts off with ‘she knifed a rapist by noon’ or something along that line, which was true but in his haste he saw ‘she’ and jumped to feminist in one great leap. No I didn’t razz him although when I finished it I almost mentioned it. That same day he said how he wished he had not judged this fellow since he was totally cool and he had wasted several opportunities to know him better. Ah, life and art! And Motherhood if that’s not included.

[…] Another box o’ books… Well, it’s happened again…I’ve received another box of books to review (here’s a list of the previous batch, and the one before). […]

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