Book Review: The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg
3 Stars , Fiction / July 29, 2010

I found the setting of a claustrophobic small fishing town of Fjällbacka to be the most intriguing character.  Läckberg does a masterful job capturing the feel of a small town with lots of bad history to bury, where every ripple causes a big effect in the lives of many people.  The seemingly idyllic town, where rich people flock to buy summer houses for peaceful, restful and pleasant vacations, holds many dark riddles which the townsfolk would rather be left uncovered.

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
3 Stars , Fiction / July 28, 2010

However, this is a fun book; the book can be ridiculous at times and riveting at others. The character of Salander, who was somewhat believable in the first novel is taken to extremes in this one, but is still great fun even though the “chance encounter” plot twist is a bit overplayed.

Beirut 39: New Writing from the Arab World Edited by Samuel Shimon
Fiction / July 25, 2010

Beirut 39 edited by Samuel Shimon is a collection of stories and poems.  The collection is the product of a literary competition in the Arab world, young authors and poets, all under 40 years of age, competed in a contest sponsored by, among others, Banipal magazine in the Hay festival. The best 39 short stories, poems and novel parts were published. Buy Beirut 39 from Amazon.com*  The stories and poems touch on many varied subjects, politics, sexuality and culture. The selections are as individual as the authors and tell such tales as the wife of a Damascus man who is measuring, for good or bad, her various lovers; or the man who hides his gay identity from his mother while watching a movie about the subject on satellite, hoping she wouldn’t wake up. There were two standout stories I thought, in this book which were a cut above the rest: “The Twentieth [9/11] Terrorist” by Abdullah Thabit and the straight-to-the-point “Coexistence” by Ala Hlehel. Both stories were told from a very believable and vivid point of view which I found refreshing as well as enlightening on an intellectual level. “The Twentieth [9/11] Terrorist” tells of the harsh system of education…

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
4 Stars , Fiction / July 23, 2010

I liked Little Bee and the ending caught me a bit by surprise and I liked the distinct voices author Chris Cleave tries to use – it made the story more interesting and gave us a bit of background about Little Bee without having to resort to flashbacks.

Book Review: Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland
4 Stars , Fiction / July 22, 2010

There is something about the Romanov’s which has always been lighting up people’s imaginations, whether it’s the rumors about their death (helped immensely by misinformation from the Russian government), or the enormous wealth symbolized by the fabulous Faberge eggs or the legends of the survival of Princess Anastasia.
In “Eye of the Red Tsar”, a fictional tale with historical accuracy, author Sam Eastland introduced his audience to the Tsar’s personal detective Inspector Pekkala. We first meet Pekkala in exile at the harsh forests of Sebria, where he works in the gulag as a tree marker.  Pekkala has survied this punishing task for almost a decade, shattering the record for a job that most people last in a few months before dying.

Book Review: Infamous by Ace Atkins
4 Stars , Historical Fiction / July 20, 2010

The story is told through the eyes of an invisible observer, a fly on the wall. We, the readers, do not hear what any of the characters think but we observe them from a close distance.The storytelling is riveting and exciting; the characters are interesting, engaging and dimensional. I don’t know if Mr. Atkins meant to make George Kelly a likable figure, but to me he was the most likeable person in this unique cast of characters.

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