Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini is the story of a girl named Lindiwe growing up in 1980’s Zimbabwe under the new Mugabe government.

A mysterious tragedy occurs in the house next door – her neighbor is burned alive. The victim’s stepson, a white man named Ian is the prime suspect but is soon released. Lindiwe and Ian forge an unlikely friendship but circumstances and the deterioration of conditions in Zimbabwe threaten to divide them.

The Boy Next Door is about politics, race, corruption and love.

I haven’t finished this book yet. I’m intrigued by the plot and the setting of Zimbabwe as it’s been popping up in the news this past year. Some of the lingo is puzzling and is left without explanation for the reader to figure out but overall it does not impede the reader from enjoying the story.



Filed under books, culture, opinion, politics, travel

What the Dog Saw

I just finished reading What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell, and I found it just as enjoyable as his other books that I’ve read, (The Tipping Point and Blink.)

Malcolm Gladwell’s curiosity always leads him to interesting questions, and even more interesting answers. In this book find answers to a wide range of questions from how criminal profiling works to why women choose to dye their hair. The chapters I found most interesting answered what makes Cesar Millan, (the Dog Whisperer), uniquely suited to do what he does, how the birth control has changed history, and why we have so many varieties of mustard yet Heinz ketchup has no serious rivals.

If you’re the curious type and you love random trivia, check it out.

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Filed under books, culture, opinion

Three most popular books at Guantanamo

I have to say, I was pretty surprised when I read this article listing the three most popular book titles in the library at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Out of the 13,500 books available to the 229 prisoners, these 3 were most popular:

1. Harry Potter (series)

2.  Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

3.  Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

First, I thought this was kind of cool because I’ve read all 3 books. (Okay, I attempted Don Quixote and didn’t quite finish it) … The article goes on to quote a lawyer who spoke with one of the prisoners as a potential client. The prisoner was a 36 year old Algerian man named Ali.

From the article:

I kept our conversation light. We spent a long time discussing the Harry Potter books, his favorite books at the Guantánamo library.

Ali sees parallels between George W. Bush and J.K. Rowling’s arch-villain, Voldemort. Guantánamo is the real-world equivalent of Azkaban, the cheerless prison guarded by the soulless “tormentors.”


Filed under books, politics

Indian Romance novel controversy

indiabk In India, a new genre of books are popping up that have many women rushing to stores and some politicians crying immorality.

The Romance novel is becoming popular among young Indian women, but in a country where kissing in films is censored, this industry will not flourish without a controversy.

Even so, Harlequin Enterprises and Random House have both set up shop.

The TimesOnline UK article notes that,

“Sociologists believe the explosion of risqué romantic fiction may herald an impending sexual revolution in India. “In the past even our fantasies were repressed,” said Shiv Vishwanathan, a sociology professor. “Now they are not and that makes a difference.”


Filed under books, culture, politics, romance, women

A Change in Altitude

altitA Change in Altitude, by popular author, Anita Shreve was both depressing and captivating. It was one of those rare novels where I truly could not even guess at what might happen next. Each turn in the plot seemed to be randomly pulled from a hat, yet it all came together in the end, for better or worse.

The story is told in third person but is sympathetic to the perspective of an American woman named Margaret.  She and her  husband, Patrick, are newlyweds  living in Kenya.

When they go with two other couples on a climbing expedition, a tragic accident on the mountain will change Margaret and her marriage forever.

I appreciated the cultural details, the diverse cast of characters, the deep emotions, the obvious knowledge of the complexities of marriage and the unpredictable plot,  but I had difficulty relating to or caring very much for the Anglo characters.  (The non-Anglo characters were much more interesting.)

Over all, if you enjoy Anita Shreve you will probably enjoy this book. Just be forewarned that it isn’t exactly a happily-ever-after type of story.


Filed under books, culture, marriage, opinion, women

Hispanic Heritage Month Book Giveaway!


Forgive me for forgetting to close this giveaway on time!

The winners, selected at random, are:

1. Andrea

2. Iva

3. Beth

4. Ruth (and)

5. Humincat


I can’t believe it’s Hispanic Heritage Month again, and time for another generous Hachette giveaway.

There will be 5 winners who will each receive a gift pack containing all 5 books shown below!


1. Zumba® By Beto Perez , Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
2. Evenings at the Argentine Club By Julia Amante
3. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz By Belinda Acosta
4. Tell Me Something True By Leila Cobo
5. Amigoland By Oscar Casares


US and Canadian residents only. No PO Boxes, please.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (with a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted should you win.)

For a second chance to win, blog about this giveaway on your blog and link to this post. (I’ll see the trackback and enter you twice.)

Giveaway will close on October 1st, 2009. Winners will be announced here and contacted via E-mail. Buena suerte! (Good luck!)


Filed under books, contest, culture, giveaway

The Jumping Tree

jumptree The Jumping Tree by René Saldaña, Jr. is a sweet and sometimes funny collection of stories about an adolescent Chicano boy growing up in South Texas. It was an easy and very enjoyable read. The stories were filled with so many strange yet amusing details, that I’ve concluded that this book is probably somewhat autobiographical or the writer is a genius at capturing such nuances. (Perhaps both could be true.)

I found this book in the Young Adult section of my library and plan to let my 11 year old son read it. It teaches a lot of good lessons about family, growing into a man, dealing with peer pressure and being true to yourself. This is an especially great book for young Latino Americans struggling with identity issues.

This is Mr. Saldaña’s first novel. I truly look forward to reading more from him.


Filed under books, culture, kids