Thursday, January 22, 2009

Towelhead by Alicia Erian

Despite the incendiary title, this novel was more like a modern day version of Lolita than anything else. Thirteen year old Jasira moves in with her extremely strict Lebanese father after her mother feels threatened by her daughter's sensual effect on older men. Things go from bad to worse for Jasira as she struggles to accept her father's isolating attitude, racist remarks from classmates because of her mixed heritage and her black boyfriend, an inappropriate relationship with her next door neighbor and just plain old adolescent angst.

I felt so horrible for poor Jasira throughout this entire book - I mean, the kid has no awareness about her growing sexuality, her awful father is emotionally vacant and physically abusive, she confuses rape with a warped perception of love and on top of all that, she gets picked on because of her ethnicity. Though the book *does* have a happy ending, it comes at a really depressing cost. The only shining light in this kind of bleak novel is Jasira's positive and loving relationship with a female neighbor, who's like the only person that actually cares about the kid.

Overall, a good read, but mildly depressing. The film version of it came out in 2008 and I'd be curious to see how they could pull it off (Aaron Eckhart from Thank You For Smoking plays the creepy neighbor)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just After Sunset by Stephen King

The literary horror machine that is Stephen King is back again. This time, King has cranked out about a dozen short stories guaranteed to make you feel anxious and slightly at ease. What's always so great about King is that some of his creepiest works don't necessarily have to involve the supernatural - human nature alone can be just as terrifying, shocking or just plain disturbing. Whether it's the threat of paranormal activities like in "The Things They Left Behind," where a man who was lucky enough to be spared on 9/11 must confront all the "ghosts" of his former coworkers or in "A Very Tight Place," whereKing takes something as common as a port-a-potty and turns it into a potential death chamber, in the end, you'll feel just a little out of sorts.

Though some may argue that Sunset really isn't anything new, considering that the bulk of the stories have appeared in various magazines, it's still definitely worth a read.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell

Ok, here it is,,I did not like this book. (cries) I wanted to because I love Patricia Cornwell. First off the book was 512 pages(oy my eyes). The story took half a book for me to get interested in it. Scarpetta is brought into a case where a woman is murdered and the cops are looking at her boyfriend as being the killer. She is brought in to examine the bf (um,,ok). I miss the days when Scarpetta worked in the lab and actually worked as a forensic medical examiner . I can't bring myself to write much about the story because there wasn't much of a story. And at the end of the book I still don't know who killed who. When the book is this big you have trouble keeping track of all the characters in it. Read and decide for yourself.

Blood Sins by Kay Hooper

After reading some crappy books lately, written by bestselling authors, I went into reading this book not expecting much. I should have known better. Kay Hooper has not disappointed me lately. This book is the second installment in the Blood trilogy. This book picks up with Noah Bishop and his FBI Special Crimes Unit , which consists of psychics and mediums and its partner group Haven, a civilian investigative organization. They are in North Carolina trying to gather proof that the Rev. Adam Deacon Samuel is killing members of his flock. They find this hard to do since he is doing it by using psychic energy. I know this sounds a little funky, but trust me, it will make sense when your reading it. For me this book is perfect because I get murder and supernatural happenings all in one. Read all of Hooper's books, but especially the Bishop trilogies starting with Stealing Shadows. Finally, a GOOD book!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hope and other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

Sometimes you don't really need to write a lot to write a really good book. Case in point - Lalami's debut novel Hope and other Dangerous Pursuits. The fact that Lalami manages to evoke such sadness and hope in such a petite book speaks volumes for her talent. The novel focuses on 4 individuals who are trying to illegally cross the international waters from Morocco to Spain. What's different about this novel is that there are essentially only 8 chapters, a "before" and "after" for each character. All of the characters are trying to reach Spain in an effort to create a better life - whether they actually achieve that goal remains to be seen. Whether it's Halima, a mother trying desparately to escape her abusive husband, or Murad, who doesn't want to be the disappointment in the family, in the end, they all must accept the consequences of that fateful voyage to Spain.

A quick read, but in this case, quality trumps quantity.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

Here are the reasons why I shouldn't have liked Twilight (or any of the works in the series):

1. I'm not 13. (The series is for Young Adults)

2. I received by BA in English and can recognize "good" writing and character development from "bad"

3. I usually avoid the romance and/or fantasy genres.

And still...despite all of these drawbacks, I have to admit I became addicted to this series. Set in Forks, Washington, the series centers on Bella Swan, a plucky and clumsy girl who relocates to the rainy city to live with her dad. Everything is going fine until the day she meets the mysterious and gorgeous Edward Cullen. Edward and his family have a disturbing secret that noone but Bella knows about. The series tracks the epic love between the two along with some action between the Cullen family and their immortal enemies. There's also a nicely created love triangle. I am firmly on Team Jacob.

The downsides to the series are that it's poorly written, features almost an unbearable amount of teen angst ("I'll love you forever" "No, I'll love YOU forever"), and damn near steamrolls the reader with abstinence and anti-abortion messages. However, agenda or not, in the end, Meyer has created a very powerful story and a memorable cast of characters. This whole series was my guilty pleasure during Christmas and New Years. And yes, I even went to see the movie afterwards. I was the oldest one in the theater.