Sunday, January 11, 2009

2nd Canadian Book Challenge - Midpoint Checkup

Several months ago, I joined the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. The originator (John Mutford), challenged bloggers to read (and write about) 13 Canadian books (by Canadians and/or about Canadians) in the 1 year period between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

I joined up, but haven't actually posted any official updates about how I'm doing on it (nor have I properly tracked how I've been doing)

So this post is an attempt to play catch-up and see where I am at about the mid-way point in this challenge.

Let's see how I've been doing and pause to comment on some of the books by Canadian I've read in the past 6 months. (I suppose it's fortunate that I've been keeping a brief noted journal about the books I've read since the beginning of 2008 -- I did it so that I could a) determine approximately how many books I read in a year and b) keep brief notes about the books I read because I have to admit I have a terrible memory if you ask me for details about a book I've read -- I usually leave a book with an impression of "liking it", "really liking it", or "not liking it all that much" but most of the details tend to escape me.)

1) The Killing Circle - Andrew Pyper
Finished Reading: July 21, 2008

Comment: A great story about a writer without inspiration who ends up stealing the story from one of the members of a writing circle. Only, this writer's tale of an evil entity known as The Sandman seems to crawl right out of the nightmarish fiction world and into the real one. A good read with a solid, intriguing storyline. I've always loved Pyper's writing since reading Lost Girls the month it came out. He never disappoints.
Link(s): The Shit You Pull Out of your Ass (Blog Post)

2) Cricket in a Fist - Naomi K. Lewis

Finished Reading: August 3, 2008
Comment: This was a decent and interesting novel by an author I had never read before. See my full review at the link below.
Link(s): Detailed Review

3) Wolf Pack - Edo van Belkom
Finished Reading: Sept 23, 2008)

4) Lone Wolf - Edo van Belkom

Finished Reading: Sept 27, 2008)

5) Cry Wolf - Edo van Belkom
Finished Reading: Oct 2, 2008)

6) Wolf Man - Edo van Belkom
Finished Reading: Oct 7, 2008)
What a great young adult series of novels surrounding a group of four teenagers who happen to be werewolves. When their parents were killed in a forest fire, they are raised as humans by the forest ranger who discovered them. An excellent series and one that I peeled through rather quickly. Easy to see how it won a Silver Birch Award. It's interesting to see van Belkom writing for the young adult market. I've alreadys quite enjoyed his adult horror novels and stories -- this series proves that he is a multi-talented author capable of writing very different types of stories for different audiences. Definitely worth picking up, particularly for those who like the supernatural young adult series like Stephanie Meyer, etc, but are looking for more Canadian content and a setting that is definitely north of the 49th parallel. Each novel is a perfectly self-contained story, but the reader certainly gets much more out of it reading them in sequential order.
Link(s): Edo van Belkom's website

7) In Tongues of the Dead - Brad Kelln

Finished Reading: Oct 24, 2008)
A very avid reader at work (someone who reads tons of thrillers), loaned me this book telling me that everyone important to her has read it. (What a nice compliment and recommendation at the same time) It's about a manuscript in a dead language that a priest has spent his entire life watching -- one day, it all changes when an autistic boy who has never spoken can read it and tells the priest a bit about what he is reading. This is a thrilling, well written and fascinating tale set both in the US and Canada. I loved it. Kelln is certainly a writer to watch.
Link(s): Dr. Brad Kelln's website

8) Wake - Robert J. Sawyer
Finished Reading: Dec 14, 2008)

Comment: I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book which is coming out in April 2009. The story mainly follows Caitlin Decker, a smart, energetic and blind teenager who undergoes an experimental surgury to gain sight. The technology involved in giving her sight allows her a "view" of the World Wide Web. As she explores the web, she also discovers there is "another" there, some sort or sentinent being. This first in Sawyer's "WWW" triology is a great start to what I'm sure will be a fantastic series. Sawyer is a wonderful storyteller and I always have a good time with pretty much anything he writes. His characters are genuine and human and the story arcs he creates are filled with intrigue, suspense and an enlightening extrapolation of actual scientific research. I tend to not only enjoy reading his novels, but I always find myself learning a bit too at the same time.
Link(s): Robert J. Sawyer's website

9) Grown up Digital - Don Tapscott
Finished Reading: Dec 26, 2008)

An eye-opening, well-researched book that I would highly recommend. Read the detailed review I gave it at the link below.
Link(s): Review

10) Too Close To Home - Linwood Barclay
Finished Reading: Jan 2, 2008

Comment: I always thought Linwood Barclay was a talented humorist. But he's an even better writer of thrillers. After completing the four book "Zack Walker" series (a fantastic series that merged mystery/thriller writing with Barclay's unique sense of humour), he moved on to an outstanding stand alone thriller last year (No Time for Goodbye) and followed it up with a similarly fantasic tale here. I treated myself to two different mystery/thriller titles for Christmas with some money my Mom gave me. With it I bought Michael Connelly's latest (The Brass Verdict) and Barclay's Too Close to Home. I picked up Barclay's novel right away and was immediately pulled into this incredible tale of intrigue and suspense. The story follows Jim and Ellen Cutter a small-town couple whose neighbours are brutally murdered just down the lane one night. The story begins with a question of what their neighbour, a successful and well respected criminal lawyer, got himself into to spark such a terrifying end to his family. It quickly moves into one in which several different long buried secrets from Jim and Ellen's own lives start to be unravelled, which leads to the question of whether or not the Cutter family were actually the intended targets of this murder. Virtually unputdownable, this is a tale with twists and turns that kept me flipping those pages and had difficulty putting down. Thank goodness I was on Christmas vacation at the time because this one had me staying up rather late at night so I could read "just one more chapter."
Link(s): Linwood Barclay's website

Okay, so I've read 10 books by Canadian authors since July 1, 2008. Not bad at all. I only need to read 3 more to get to the end of the challenge, which shouldn't be a problem because I have at least 5 more Canadian authors in my current "to read" pile.


John Mutford said...

Not bad at all!

And thanks for the Edo van Belkom review. I'm not familiar with him at all, so I'm curious to give him a shot.

Wanda said...

Glad to hear you thought No Time for Goodbye was "an outstanding stand alone thriller". I've had it on my want to read list for awhile, time to move it up.

In Tongues of the Dead looks good too. Hadn't heard about it 'til John offered it as an update prize for the challenge.