Son of Escobar by Roberto Sendoya Escobar

“…say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.”

1/5 stars.
ebook, 184 pages.
Read from December 26, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

This book was a selection for my book club. Normally, the beauty of book clubs is reading books that you wouldn’t have read and most of the time that’s a good thing, this time, however, it was not.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know the name, Pablo Escobar. You know, the biggest drug lord in history? The guy has a whole Netflix series (Narcos) about him. The premise of this book is that the author claims that he is Escobar’s firstborn son. In 1965, MI6 operatives raid and shoot up a safe house that results in the death of a young mother with one of the operatives deciding to save her newborn baby (the author). The operative put the child in an orphanage only to adopt him later. The operative learns whose child it is and massive amounts of effort are gone into protecting the child as well as using him to coerce a friendly relationship with Pablo himself. The book details all of the events that happened to the author as he grew up in this strange environment. From kidnappings, shootouts, murder, and more, all while not knowing who his real father is and thinking that having armed guards is a normal part of childhood. Strange meetings were made with Pablo Escobar as the author grew but he was never given an explanation of who Pablo was or the relevance of the meetings. As an adult, the author does eventually learn that Pablo Escobar is his father, apparently, and at the end of his adoptive father’s life, he is given a code that is supposed to be the location of Pablo Escobar’s missing fortune after he was taken down and his property destroyed. The code is published within this book hoping someone will figure out its encrypted location.

If this sounds far fetched to you, you’re not alone. The author has been called out for misinformation and lies since this book’s publication. It makes no difference to me if this story is real or not as people can write whatever they please, however, the writing quality in this book was dire and I didn’t find it all that entertaining. Well, I suppose it was interesting to discuss these points in a book club setting but the book was still a disappointing read. I would not recommend this book as I think it’s likely a money grab and a publicity stunt. Outside of that, say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

I will not be pursuing the trilogy further. I will, however, watch the next season of the TV show when it’s released as I feel like the show took the original ideas of this story, tidied it up, and in general did more justice to the interesting concept and world that this author created.

1/5 stars.
Hardcover, 584 pages.
Attempted from January 16, 2019 to February 12, 2019.

I just can’t… this book is poorly written and highly disorganized and I found it strain from the first page to get involved in this book. The first book in this trilogy has a more engaging story and clearly had a heavier hand in editing whereas the author ended up ruining the story for me by being allowed to write so haphazardly. You have a large number of characters thrown at you from the first page which make them hard to invest in as well as making the story hard to follow. The main plot of finding a witch to help Diana and the Ashmole 782 gets lost in the mound of unnecessary characters, Matthew’s ridiculously excessive past and accolades, as well as cringe-worthy romance and sex scenes. All of the aspects I was interested in from the previous books were not apparent in this novel as it turned into a poorly written romance. I managed to make it nearly halfway through the book and all of its details without drowning in it.

I will not be pursuing the trilogy further. I will, however, watch the next season of the TV show when it’s released as I feel like the show took the original ideas of this story, tidied it up, and in general did more justice to the interesting concept and world that this author created. If I were in a less hassled state of mind I might have had the resilience to finish this book and find more redeeming qualities but for now, it’s being added to the very, very small pile of books that I could not finish.

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter

1/5 stars.
Read from March 22 to April 01, 2016 (DNF).
ebook, 270 pages.

Well, this is a rare occurrence for me. In my lifetime of reading, there are only three books that I committed to read that I did not finish. Sadly, I had to add this book to that list to make it a fourth. This book was painful to read. I managed to make it quarter of the way through though, but I also picked up and almost finished two other novels in the time it took me to get a quarter of the way through this one. I tried, I really did, but I’m not sorry I didn’t finish this book. I don’t think my life is lacking for not finishing it.

Henry Hayward, who is originally from the east coast of Canada and has been working up in northern area of Alberta, Canada, which is very common. His romance with his long-term girlfriend Nora comes to an end so he unemotionally deals with his loss with booze and sex. Henry then takes up a job in Afghanistan in hopes of being able to forget Nora and move on. Sadly, Henry and his good friend, Tender, end up being involved in tragic accident while out on patrol. Tender dies and Henry knows that  it was his mistake that caused it.

Returning home, Henry is guilt-stricken. He hopes to make amends by repairing and fixing Tender’s home, but ends up making some poor decisions with Tender’s girlfriend in the process. Tender’s girlfriend also has a secret that will devastate things further for Henry and their circle of friends.

It’s no surprise to me that this book was knocked out first in the Canada Reads 2016 debate because it doesn’t stack up. Winter’s writing style is forced, hard to follow, and ultimately unengaging. He also didn’t do himself, or the reader, any favors by completely omitting quotation marks. There are very few authors that can pull off this distinct style and Winter’s isn’t one of them. Combine all of this with an unremarkable plot line and characters that are distant and lack depth and you have a terrible book.

I suppose I can at least see what Winter’s was trying to accomplish with his characters, in how they all lacked feeling, as he I think he was trying to explain a lifestyle very specific to those who Alberta (working up North) and the type of people that do this sort of work.  I sadly can’t even say it would appeal to the families of workers or even those faced with the trauma of war as the writing and depictions of the characters and plot line is so poorly handled.

Sorry Mr. Winter, but your novel just didn’t do it for me and I can’t see myself recommending this book to anyone I would know.

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