Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mortified: Love is a Battlefield collected by David Nadelberg

Fans of the first Mortified book will undoubtedly be amused at Nadelberg's second collection of angsty adolescent essays, centered on the idea of teenage love. The anthology features bad poetry, abysmal song lyrics, journal entries and cartoons all from the submitters' teenage archives. What makes the Mortified series so funny is the awful truthfulness in every submission - who hasn't lusted after the unattainable popular person in high school or obsessed over one of their high school teachers? Adolescence is a time of confusion, self reflection and hormonal narcissism...it's nice to see that we are not alone in our painfully awkward experiences.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Despite the fact that I like to think of Jodi Picoult's books as "Lifetime TV movie" fodder, every time she has a new one out, I always try to snag it (working in a Library definitely has its perks). At any rate, with Change of Heart, we have the usual suspects - the devoted and emotionally torn mother, the lawyer/public defender/judge with a heart of gold and a controversial theme with an emotionally charged ending. This time, it's concerning organ transplants, the death penalty and the potential reincarnation of Jesus. Shay Bourne is a convicted murderer on death row when he declares that he wants to donate his heart to the girl whose family he killed eleven years earlier. Now that he's made this decision, strange "miracles" have been occuring throughout the prison. Pretty hefty stuff. If you're in a book club, this one will be sure to spark many debates.

Despite the soap opera feel that Picoult's novels ALWAYS seem to have, I can't put her damn books down. This one is no exception.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

This epic 800+ page novel deals with the dual plights of twin brothers - one with schizophrenia and one without. Domenick has spent the majority of his life protecting and simultaneously hating his brother Thomas because of his disease, to the point where his own life is nearly destroyed. The narrative is told through flashbacks and also features segments of the twins' grandfather's memoirs (and though he died before their birth he, predictably enough, has foreshadowed a lot of the novel's present). The themes of love, loss, familial obligation and personal responsibility are boundless here. Throughout the book, you're not really sure which brother you pity more and though Lamb probably could have cut out about 100 pages or so, it was still a compelling read.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Duma Key by Stephen King

Stephen King is BACK!!!! with his latest "Duma Key". I used to be a big fan but his most recent efforts(before the accident) were disappointing after his early books ....see "The Stand, IT, Dead Zone"....great reads! I wasn't a big fan of the Tower series, although many were, so I opened "Duma Key" with some reservations, especially viewing the sheer weight of the thing.

Anyway, once I got stuck in I couldn't put it down....right back to his early "good stuff". It combines the usual creepiness, way out there special effects with a very warm humanity. No doubt King's own travails had much to do with casting his main character as a man who survives a shattering accident, long painful rehabilitation and the finding of a second life painting strange and disturbing pictures, very far removed from his first career as a builder and developer. The story is set on the West Coast of Florida, an area that I'm somewhat familiar with so it was easy to picture, although King, as always, does a good job of setting the scene. There's the usual cast of characters, some lovable and some, not so much. A creepy house, strange goings on at the beach, people getting sucked into "they know not what!" etc. etc. all the wonderful stuff we loved about King's early work.

Read it and see.
--Review by Pauline Brady