Archive for May, 2009

Bloody Words

Bloody Words, Canada’s national mystery conference, will take place in Ottawa from June 5th to 7th 2009. The national guest of honour is Louise Penny. She’s a real favourite of mine. Check out earlier entries in my blog for info about her books. Among those attending is Ross Pennie, author of Tainted, which I mention in Books with Buzz, and Howard Schrier, author of Buffalo Jump, which I highly recommend. For anyone in the area, there are lots of free readings and they are open to the public.  For info about this conference go to

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Barney’s Version

Celebrated producer Robert Lantos has signed up Dustin Hoffman to co-star in the upcoming production of Mordecai Richler’s last novel, Barney’s Version… how good is that!!  He will play Barney Panofsky’s foul mouthed father Izzy.

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Man Booker International

Celebrated Canadian writer Alice Munro has won the third Man Booker International Prize for fiction. The biannual award is a spin-off of the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded annually for a single work of fiction, and is open to writers from around the world and is awarded for an entire body of work.

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Oldies but Goodies… not classics just older favourites

Mark Haddon is an amazing writer. His book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a huge success and is one of my all-time favourites. Writing about an autistic teenage boy, and doing the fantastic job that he does, is not an easy task, but Haddon was able to rely on his experience of working with autistic individuals when he was younger. The book is a mystery, and a comedy, that is exceptionally funny, poignant, full of details on how the autistic mind works and copes, and is written with Christopher John Francis Boone, the autistic teenager, as the narrator. After being accused of killing his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, Christopher turns to his favourite fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, to try and track down the real killer. This is a novel rich with emotional moments regaled by a boy who can’t fathom emotion, and the effect on the reader is brilliant. You’ve really missed out on a wonderful book if you’ve never read this. Everyone I’ve recommended it to over the years has loved it.

Haddon’s second book A Spot of Bother is every bit as good as his first. It is so hilariously funny that I could barely catch my breath from laughing so hard. I thought I was going to choke. Sixty-one year old George Hall tries to settle down to a comfortable retirement, building a garden shed, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of jazz. But he discovers, quite by accident in a change room while trying on a suit for a friend’s funeral, a sinister looking lesion on his hip and immediately thinks he’s going to die. This really amusing story of a dignified, proper, old-fashioned man dealing with the problems of modern day family life, as well as his own false self-diagnosis of terminal cancer, when he won’t reveal his true feelings and fears, is definitely one of the funniest books you’ll ever read.

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A new book from Kathy Reichs

Fans of Tempe Brennan will be happy to know that author Kathy Reichs’ 12th novel, 206 Bones, will be released in late August.

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Buffalo Jump

Buffalo Jump (published by Random House) is Howard Shrier’s first novel. It was recommended to me by a clerk at my local bookstore. I needed something portable for travelling and it had to hold my interest enough to keep me occupied early in the morning when I was waiting for my hosts to wake up. (Getting up at 6:30 is not such a good idea when you’re visiting.) I was intrigued by the fact that the story is set in Toronto because that’s where I was headed. That essentially is why I bought the book. I love books set in familiar places. And I was pleasantly surprised – it’s really good. When a contract killer comes looking for private investigator Jonah Geller it’s not to bump him off… it’s to enlist his help in finding out who ordered the hit that he can’t bare to commit – killing an entire Toronto family, including their 5 year old son. The plot involves the pharmaceutical industry and cheap Canadian drugs that filter over the border to the US. It is well written, quirky, laugh-out-loud funny, and gritty with a wee bit too much info on guns and fighting for my taste but don’t let that discourage you from reading it. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve just discovered that Shrier’s second book, High Chicago, is due out mid July – it’s definitely on my list for a summer read.

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Book or Movie, or both?

When they take a great book and turn it into a movie, do you go see it? If you’ve read the book and liked it, are you tempted to see what they’ve done with it? Or do you stay away, knowing that it just won’t be like the book and you’ll be disappointed?

I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie based on a book and liked it. Often they make a total mis-mash out of it, and there’s no similarity to the book, or they’ve left out so much stuff that you realize it’s a good thing you read the book first. Remember what they did to Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. What about The Da Vinci Code. There was a lot left out in that movie. Snow Falling on Cedars – another great book. But the movie was so dismal.  The only instance where they did a great job was probably the Harry Potter series. But I am intrigued enough to  go check out Angels & Demons.

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Searching around for what’s new

I discovered that a second book by Inger Ash Wolfe titled The Taken will be released in October 2009. The first one, The Calling, has just been released in paperback.

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