Short reviews

Regression – Kathy Bell
 
I have waited a week after reading the book Regression, before I drafted this brief review. I usually write a review immediately after finishing a book, but this book left me with a sense of anticipation, which meant it has taken me a while to think through my reactions. Thank you for letting me receive an early copy.  The small Canadian publisher, Northern Sanctum, should be pleased with this book from a new writer.
Overall I enjoyed this book, but I also have some mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is an easy read.  The writer holds your attention because you want to discover what it is all about. On the other hand, some of the twists and the preoccupation with self of the main character are annoying.
The storyline is strong and the connections between characters are well thought out.   Some of the explanations for why things are happening seem overdone.  The main character also seems to be somewhat void of emotions which turned me off.
I wonder, if the sex was cut out, would it make a better book for teenage girls?  I think its worth reading, so give it a go. The next installment is due out in October 2010.
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Northern Sanctum (2009), Edition: First Canadian, Paperback, 352 pages

 

Dirty Little Angels – Chris Tusa

This is a short, fast moving, in your face novel, which operates on a number of levels.  It is a good read, which seems to suggest that greater books may be inside the writer.
Christianity, sex, crime and the examination of values are explored at a pace that gives very little time for the reader to reflect.  It is written from the perspective of Hailey, a 16 year old girl.  There is very little self reflection as Hailey occupies herself with worrying about everyone else but herself.  The plot is a little predictable, but none-the-less dramatic.
The writer is obviously skilful and it was no surprise to realize that he works as a lecturer in creative writing.  The description of context and landscape both make and weaken the book. Some descriptive phrases were repeated more than twice, such as “glass bones” and “roaches crawling around in my head”.  The effect was to annoy this reader.  But time and thought had clearly been given to making the descriptions coherent with the plot, such as;
“That night, the moon looked like Verma‟s cataract, and the sky, black and cluttered with clouds, was crying little drops of rain”.
“SATAN SUCKS was spelled out across the back window in gold letters, and a yellow bumper sticker read: IF GOD DIDN‟T WANT US TO EAT ANIMALS, HE WOULDN‟T HAVE MADE THEM OUT OF MEAT”.
It is not until page 146 that the title Dirty Little Angels is explained and that works. “The angels,” Raynelle asked. “You said their hands and mouth is dirty. What they dirty for?” Chloe looked at Raynelle as if the answer were obvious. “They have to eat our souls before we can go to Heaven,” she told her. “The dirt’s from our souls. It rubs off on their hands and their mouth when they eat it.”
The dialogue is strong and carries the plot. I am looking forward to Chris Tusa’s next novel.

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The e-book can be found on smashwords www.smashwords.com



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