Category Archives: Contemporary

The best book I have read in a long time…interested?

So my book club picked Up and Down by Terry Fallis, Canadian political writer. Oh my. Not my bag but the rule is we all read it for good or bad. That’s what makes it interesting.
Here’s the Amazon synopsis…….
“The author of the Stephen Leacock Medal-winning The Best Laid Plans brings his trademark humour and sharp storytelling to a new novel set in the high-stakes world of a global public relations agency. On his first day at Turner King, David Stewart quickly realizes that the world of international PR (affectionately, perhaps ironically, known as “the dark side”) is a far cry from his previous job on Parliament Hill. For one, he missed the office memo on the all-black dress code; for another, there are enough acronyms and jargon to make his head spin. Before he even has time to find the washroom, David is assigned a major project: devise a campaign to revitalize North America”s interest in the space program – maybe even show NASA”s pollsters that watching a shuttle launch is more appealing than going out for lunch with friends. The pressure is on, and before long, David finds himself suggesting the most out-of-this-world idea imaginable: a Citizen Astronaut lottery that would send one Canadian and one American to the International Space Station. Suddenly, David”s vaulted into an odyssey of his own, navigating the corporate politics of a big PR agency; wading through the murky but always hilarious waters of Canada-U.S. relations; and trying to hold on to his new job while still doing the right thing. Equal parts clever and satirical, thoughtful and affecting, Up and Down is Terry Fallis at his best, confirming his status as a Canadian literary star.”

So this is not the book I would pick for book club. I love Canadian literature but I can’t abide politics and Terry Fallis writes political fiction (The Best Laid Plans and The High Road, both best sellers).
So I borrowed the book from a friend because I was too cheap to spend the money on a book I didn’t want to read. So further to that I decided I didn’t even want to spend my valuable reading time reading it so I went in search of an audio version. I found it as a free podcast on iTunes read by Terry Fallis himself. Jackpot….in more ways than one. So I started listening to it on the way home from work one day, the sooner I started the sooner I would finish it. Little did I know I would start looking forward to my drive home just so I could listen to another chapter of this book! I love this book! I was so sad when I finished it. It is one of the funniest and most well written books I have come across in a long time. I think I will have to actually read it over the summer but I will miss Terry Fallis talking to me. His voice has a Stuart Maclean (sp?) type quality about it. He had a voice for all the characters and this really added to the book. His southern accent was hilarious and his slow western Canadian speech was right on. A little tongue in cheek but that seems to be his shtick.

Here’s the scoop on the main characters:
– David Stewart, very green PR guy who is totally in over his head but will fight for what is right. He will do anything to get Landon Perceval up in space. He is smart, honest, witty, a little bumbling, and truly human.
-Landon Perceval, (the true star of the book) 71 year old lesbian bush pilot-doctor that lives in the interior of BC on a lake that can only be reacher by plane. She is the Canadian candidate for civilIan in space. You will love her. I really wish I knew her. One of the most interesting characters I have ever read about. You get to know a lot about her back story. She is a typical unassuming Canadian with every stereotype rolled into one. Fallis is definitely poking fun at ourselves but it is certainly with brains and kindness.
-Eugene Crank, 27 year old deputy sheriff from Texas who is the US civilian in space. Do I need to say anymore? Again every stereotype rolled in to one but done with intelligence and humour. I just finishing the book while on vacation in Texas. Maybe that made it more amusing!

The characters are very well written, they are the best of all things Canadian and American. The humorous is smart, the plot interesting and unexpected, the writing is more elevated than your regular fiction. I can’t say enough about how good this book is. I particularly recommend it to Nancy Dawe, Sheilagh Murphy, and Bobbi French, I think you would love it.

Best line of the book spoken with a southern drawl…
” ….you mean to tell me there is a 71 year old lesbian flying her Beaver all across Canada?”

Just read it!!!!!

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Something wicked this way comes…..

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Read it. Read it. Read it. Did I mention you should read it? It is fantastic. I don’t normally read psychological thriller/who done it books but there was a lot of buzz about this one. And I’m hoping to add to it. The final push to read it came from Hoda Kotb on The Today Show. She went on and on and on about it. Kind of like me.
So here’s the amazon synopsis……
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears. There are signs of struggle in the house and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that Nick hasn’t been completely honest with the police and, as Amy’s case drags out for weeks, more and more vilifying evidence appears against him. Nick, however, maintains his innocence. Told from alternating points of view between Nick and Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling Gone Girl a psychological thriller is an understatement. As revelation after revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that the truth does not exist in the middle of Nick and Amy’s points of view; in fact, the truth is far more dark, more twisted, and more creepy than you can imagine. Gone Girl is masterfully plotted from start to finish and the suspense doesn’t waver for one page. It’s one of those books you will feel the need to discuss immediately after finishing because the ending doesn’t just come; it punches you in the gut.
That really sums up the book well. It makes an episode of Criminal Minds look normal. My post title of ‘something wicked this way comes’ describes the two main characters. At first you feel so bad for Nick, then he is the devil, then he is the wronged, then he is the devil again, and the cycle continues. Same with the character of Amy, his wife. The book turns on a dime. I was reading the final paragraph and had no idea how the book would end. I’m not kidding. I was waiting for the big change up again in the last few lines. I won’t tell you if it came or not. Some of the things that happen in this book are just not expected. Some of the characters are just wicked in thought and deed. God help us all if we actually knew people like this. I can’t go into specifics without giving away the plot but rest assured these people are warped.
I also really like the format of the book. The alternating voices of Nick and Amy in each chapter was great. You sometimes got the same story from two different view points, sometimes they filled in details in each others chapters, and sometimes it was completely new material. Well done.
Very well written book. While the language is colloquial, the characters are very intelligent so the prose was a step up from most thrillers. The characters are both writers and involved in the world of publishing so they speak and think and devise at a higher level. I liked that. There is only one ‘ ditsy’ character in the book was she was needed and is well written.
So read it. Read it read it. Did I mention you should read it?

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Filed under Contemporary