Book #83: The Orphan Master’s Son

Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son, 2012, 443p

Welp, this is a book that really messes with your sense of reality.

Would I have ever read this on my own? Nope. But when you are leading a book club with a bunch of older ladies who can ALWAYS TELL when you don’t read the book… you’re kind of stuck aren’t you?

So I read it.

Set in North Korea, Jun Do (yep – literally John Doe, basically a nobody) is an orphan master’s son, stuck with the worst of the duties and responsibilities. AFter that, he becomes a professional kidnapper then takes on his most difficult role yet – the rival to Kim Jong Il. Jun Do does everything he can to protect his new-found love, but will it be enough?

First thing that popped into my head was how much of this is the truth?

First of all, Jun Do seems to be constantly choosing his own sense of reality and identity. Was he ever really the Orphan Master’s son or did he choose to believe that to make up for the cruel treatment? This book takes the old adage of “fake it til you make it” to heart. Jun Do goes from zero to hero in roughly 450-pages – victim to master.

Also, as I know little to nothing about North Korea, is this an accurate portrayal of life in that country? Apparently Johnson based this off interviews with North Korean defectors, so it must have some hints of truthfulness. In that case, holy geebs.

This is not the worst book club book I’ve read but it won’t top the list of the best.

 

Book #82: Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, 2001, 743p

Hello giant beastly huge book with a giant beastly huge Scotsman! Hubba.

This one took me A LOOOOONG time to read.

a) Because of said mentioned beastly length
annnnnnd
b) Because this one was harder to get into than Outlander. Like seriously, it took me like 300 pages to be like ‘okay, this is aight’

I get it. I get it. We sort of need all the historical backstory to get to the spoilery ending. But, my new Outlander motto is: MORE JAMIE, LESS ERRRYTHING ELSE.

We met Claire again in present day – well as present day as 1968 is – with her fire-haired daughter Brianna (hmmm…I wonder where she gets that from…) as they head back to Scotland. Claire plans to reveal to Brianna once and for all the unfathomable details about her heritage. Told through present day Revelations and beautiful, Highlander-filled flashbacks, we learn more about Claire and Jamie’s quest to change history and where it led them.

The cliffhanger ending somewhat made up for the slow start. I have yet to pick up Voyager, cause I’m worried it will be much the same. I feel like this a series that is going to take me a decade to read, but I’ll slog through it one giant tome at a time.

Cause Jamie.

Book #81: Career of Evil

Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil, 2015, 489p

Since kicking off this blogging adventure, I have read all three of Galbraith (aka Rowling)’s books. (see reviews here and here.) One I enjoyed, the other not so much. So I was interested to see if the third time was the charm.  (Yes, Prisoner of Azkaban was actually my favourite of the series, so I had high hopes.)

In this case, book three seems to be my sweet spot.

Our unlikely heroes Strike and Ellacott are at it again. When Robin receives a severed leg in the mail, the daring duo set out to find the sicko killer, all while the police department put it on the back burner. Strike soon realizes this case is personal and narrows it down to three suspects – all from his deep dark past.

I REALLY liked that we got to know Cormoran and Robin better in this book. Robin always seemed flat to me until this book. The will they?/won’t they? game is STRONG with this one – culminating in a cliffhanger ending. (Is it all really over?!? Obvi not, when there is a fourth book in the works). And FINALLY Cormoran has given up on Charlotte – which is refreshing.

All in all, I liked this book best of the series. Character development ALWAYS wins out for me over grossness.

 

 

Book #75: If I Fall If I Die

Michael Christie, If I Fall, If I Die, (2015), 288p

I always peruse through the Giller Prize lists, because I’m SO Canadian. Do I typically read a lot of Canadian authors? Sadly not really, with the exception of Miriam Toews. Being a teen fiction addict, it’s sadly tough for me to get hooked on a contemporary adult book. Which is nuts – because I used to ONLY READ contemporary adult fiction for like ever.

For some reason, Christie’s book jumped off the long list for me. I somehow missed the rush of holds and got my copy pretty quickly. It fell to the bottom of my TBR pile AND I did manage to get to it. Yay!

Will has grown up in Toronto, Cairo, New York, Paris… but has never left his house. Will’s mom, Diane, is fiercely agoraphobic – leaving Will’s world limited to their Thunder Bay home, with rooms named after world famous capital cities. One day, Will hears a noise Outside and heads out in a helmet to investigate. He meets Marcus, a neighbourhood boy, who is never seen again. Will gets a taste of freedom and enrolls himself in school. There he befriends Jonah, an aboriginal skateboarder, and sets for on his mission to find Marcus.

Christie’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. I can rarely say that about a book. It was an interesting take on mental health issues and fears. The ending was slightly twisty and I didn’t predict it. Ended up somewhat cutesy, which I didn’t see coming.

I dug this book. Sad it didn’t win the Giller.

Book#71: The Silkworm

Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm, (2014), 455p

I don’t know how I became a fan of mysteries again. Likely due to these Cormoran Strike novels, I suppose. I used to LOVE mysteries. And by mysteries, I mean that Mary Higgins Clark used to be my preteen jam. Her Stillwatch novel was the first adult book I ever ordered from Scholastic. (But like seriously, how was that even an option to order?!?) I devoured many of her books (and typically figured out who the killer was at the beginning due to her cookie-cutter plots).

But, enough reminiscing. Back to this book.

Cormoran is back. This time, Strike and his faithful sidekick, Robin, are hired to track down the ghosted Owen Quine, super pompous writer extraordinaire, by Quine’s wife. He’s disappeared before, but typically comes home with his tail between his legs soon after. But there is more than meets the eye to this case, when Strike discovers that Quine has completed his latest novel – complete with rank and divisive characterizations of himself, his friends and coworkers. When Quine is found in a similar situation to his self-penned persona, Strike and Robin must uncover who had the most to lose.

I will admit this novel is my least favourite of the bunch. Likely due to it’s confusing as all hell characters. It reminded me of Game of Thrones, in that I needed a character cheat sheet listed in the back (Seriously, I used that list in GoT likely a million times). It was dark and twisty and angsty, but didn’t grab me like the previous book.

Still a far cry from Harry Potter though.

Book #69: This is Where I Leave You

Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You, (2009), 339p

My partner is a fan of Tropper. This book and One Last Thing Before I Go have been sitting on our bookshelves taunting me for some time. Granted, I typically don’t take kindly to his reading suggestions (ahem, Christopher Moore…)

But, somehow this book wiggled it’s way into my brain (likely because the movie came out and I pretty much refuse to watch movies of books I haven’t read) so I dove in.

Judd Foxman can’t win. His wife is sleeping with his boss. Oh wait, she is also pregnant with Judd’s baby. Another kick to his gut – his dad passes away and for dying wish wants his dysfunctional family to sit shiva for seven days. Together. Forced to hash out old sibling feuds and rivalries, the Foxman family tumble into old family roles while trying to rebuild, relearn, and re”love”.

Was this my favourite book? Nope. It was pretty misogynistic. But there were some laughs and groans. There was quite a bit of heart and hurt behind these characters. Quasi entertaining but not something to five-star rate.

I haven’t seen the movie, but honestly all I could picture throughout reading this book was Adam Driver’s sweet little face. Because, film casting.

 

 

Book #65: If I Fall, If I Die

Michael Christie, If I Fall, If I Die, (2015), 288p

I always peruse through the Giller Prize lists, because I’m SO Canadian. Do I typically read a lot of Canadian authors? Sadly not really, with the exception of Miriam Toews. Being a teen fiction addict, it’s sadly tough for me to get hooked on a contemporary adult book. Which is nuts – because I used to ONLY READ contemporary adult fiction for like ever.

For some reason, Christie’s book jumped off the long list for me. I somehow missed the rush of holds and got my copy pretty quickly. It fell to the bottom of my TBR pile AND I did manage to get to it. Yay!

Will has grown up in Toronto, Cairo, New York, Paris… but has never left his house. Will’s mom, Diane, is fiercely agoraphobic – leaving Will’s world limited to their Thunder Bay home, with rooms named after world famous capital cities. One day, Will hears a noise Outside and heads out in a helmet to investigate. He meets Marcus, a neighbourhood boy, who is never seen again. Will gets a taste of freedom and enrolls himself in school. There he befriends Jonah, an aboriginal skateboarder, and sets for on his mission to find Marcus.

Christie’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. I can rarely say that about a book. It was an interesting take on mental health issues and fears. The ending was slightly twisty and I didn’t predict it. Ended up someone cutesy, which I didn’t see coming.

I dug this book. Sad it didn’t win the Giller.