Sunday, July 28, 2013

YA Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

   “… I was so tired and scared that my mind was delirious, and the more I lay there thinking about it the more I was convinced that Furnace was Hades, Gehenna, the pit where sinners are sent to rot away for all of eternity. It made perfect sense – the warden and his devil eyes, the Blacksuits with their superhuman strength, the Weezers that looked like tortured ghosts of Nazi storm troopers…”
            Alexander Gorden Smith’s Lockdown had officially been honored a place on my bedstand around a year or two ago and I remember thinking (before I read the book) that Lockdown would either live up to the awesome cover, that built a sense of fear before the book was even opened, or it would crash and burn trying to create something frightening that was obviously not.  But the greater forces prevailed and the book turned out to be what my father would call a ‘page turner’.  The main character Alex is an anti-hero who grew up living a life of petty crime which eventually grew in into burglary then ironically Alex was sent off to Furnace for a crime he didn’t commit.  This is around the time in the book when Alex encounters his foes and friends.  These boys are forced to brave the horrors of Furnace with a single united hope of freedom which they all share and strive for.  This combination of clear characters, interesting plot and a great mixture of horror, action and hope build a compelling story that I couldn’t put down. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adult Non-Fiction Opium Nation by Fariba Nawa

Do you want to know what is going on in Afghanistan? So does everyone. Even folks who live in Afghanistan want to know what the hell is going on. Fariba Nawa was born in Afghanistan and moved to the US when the Soviets tried to take over the country in 1979. She is now a journalist who has traveled back to new country and the remains of her memory of that country. "Opium Nation" is the rare non fiction book that is both a general history of a region and a specific history of a woman returning to land that she does not recognize and one who's men do not recognize her as nothing more than property that has not been claimed, and therefore unholy.
The general history follows the military and political but entwined with both, and life in Afghanistan, is the cultivation, production and distribution of opium. The consequences of this are to be imagined but one consequence sets it apart and that is the child bride that is given over to pay off debts due to the military and political influences on the cultivation, production and distribution of  opium.
The personal history is the real hook. Fariba has such a unique take on her homeland, having spent half of her life in the US. She doesn't condemn the way that her Afghan sisters live their lives, they have no choice, for a woman to wear pants in Kabul is ask for real trouble. Yet to wear a head scarf in the US is to elicit suspicion.
Anyone interested in a cursory history of Afghanistan or an engaging biography of going home would be well served to read "Opium Nation" by Fariba Nawa. Khaled Hosseini named it one of his must read books on Afghanistan. And who am I to argue?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jane By April Lindner

Jane is a beautiful story, and a sort of 'Fanfiction' to Jane Eyre. Except for in Jane instead of Mr.Rochester, it is Nico Rathburn, a rock star from Connecticut. The story lines are almost the same, but, for a twelve year old, Jane is easier to understand.

Jane may sound like it is a "girl" book. You are completely incorrect if you are assuming it. Yes, it is a little sappy, but it is filled to the brim with interesting plot twists, and, as an aspiring author myself, I was instantly sucked in. April Lindner tells an amazing rendition to a classical story, bringing the story up to the modern age, and bringing it with heartbreak, love, and laughter. Not to mention a cute little girl! 

I recommend Jane to anyone who loves everything from romance, to adventure. I immensely enjoyed it, though I do not recommend it to littler children, there is one inappropriate scene, and there is some foul language...  

That's all for now!
Rhiannon Zwieg

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Borderliners by Peter Hoeg
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Nine Stories by jd salinger
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman