Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes I read books

I finally finished reading "Scream For Me" by Karen Rose, the follow-up to "Die For Me", which I reviewed a few weeks ago. It took me a little while to read it. Karen Rose falls into that section of mystery/thriller writers who got their start in romance fiction. So, while there is plenty of gruesome goings-on, there's also a lot of fragile heroines breathing in manly scents and alpha-males holding said fragile heroines to their furry chests. Therefore, sometimes I need to take little breaks so that I don't put the book down and vomit into my nachos.

All in all, it wasn't a bad read. I always find it ridiculous in these sort of books when the demure heroine, who's usually somewhat scared of sex, suddenly transforms into a modern-day Jenna Jameson as soon as the new hunky man in her life decides he wants to sleep with her. In this case, we have Alex Fallon, who's still haunted by the death of her twin sister, who was gang-raped and murdered fifteen years ago. She hasn't had much luck in the sex department, but when Special Agent Daniel Vartanian is called in to investigate the disappearance of Alex's foster sister, she can't rip her clothes off fast enough. As it turns out, this disappearance has links to the past gang-rape (plus several others), a spate of current murders, not to mention the evil activities of Daniel's brother Simon, who was the serial killer hunted down and killed in "Die For Me". Confused? Well, you could actually read this book without reading "Die For Me" and still follow what's going on, which I guess says something positive about Rose's abilities as an author. In fact, she manages to wrap up the various goings-on in this novel and yet still leave a couple of threads dangling to be resolved in the next installment, which I believe is titled "Kill For Me".

After finishing "Scream For Me", I moved onto "The Passenger" by Chris Petit, which is basically a "what-if" scenario centred around the plane crash in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. A father is devastated by the death of his son on that plane - until he learns of the possibility that his son never boarded the plane. The book goes on to involve real-life spy James Angleton and his meetings with Kim Philby and Graeme Greene, the political climate between America and Palestine, and numerous other factors, to provide a multitude of conspiracy theories as to why the plane crashed. It's fascinating reading, but is saddled with a bizarre "twist" ending that pretty much renders everything that preceeded it as non-sensical.

After "The Passenger" I've since gone on to read "Until It's Over" by Nicci French and "8th Confession" by James Patterson, but I'll provide my illuminating and heart-thumping opinions on those for another occasion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Bus That Rocked!

So, I hopped on a bus to Albany on Thursday. Six hour trip all up. After I suitably embarrassed the mother whose child was kicking the back of my chair, it all seemed okay. I suffered through the documentary they screened first (although some of those creatures that lurk at the depths of the ocean would make great horror movie monsters), and tolerated the fact the woman next to me was using up more than her fair share of the seats. However, after the food stop, they whacked on another movie, this time a Disney one called "Camp Rock". Disney is loving the musical at the moment thanks to the success of "High School Musical". This flick was actually on free-to-air TV a few months ago. I remember bits of pieces of it, because I had it on in the background Saturday morning whilst lying on the couch desperately hungover after a pub crawl down Beaufort Street - I think it came on after Hannah Montana. Anyway, at least then I had the option of changing the channel, leaving the house, or going to sleep.

On the bus, however, there is NO ESCAPE. You might as well have strapped me to that bus seat and stuck pins under my eyelids so I couldn't blink. I was forced to watch as Mitchie (Demi Lovato) gets to go to Camp Rock because her caterer mother is the cook and they get a discount. Mitchie lies to all the rich kids that her mother is the president of some Tokyo company so that they'll like her and include her. Her desperation at being one of the gang is really quite nauseating to watch. Peer pressure doesn't even begin to cover it. The popular kids could tell her to vomit up her own intestines and she'd probably do it. So her behaviour around these kids doesn't quite gel with her ability to put the big teen popstar Shane (Joe Jonas), whose teaching at the camp to clean up his image, in his place. Of course, the head mean girl at camp, whose viciousness borders on sociopathic, doesn't like the fact Mitchie and Shane are getting close, or the fact Mitchie is a better singer. Trouble's a-brewing when Mean Girl (I forget her name and the actress who plays her) discovers Mitchie's secret....

I think Disney has a brainwashing business going. I didn't like the movie but after it was over, I had this strange desire to hunt down the soundtrack of cookie-cutter pop songs. And the movie actually has the audacity to have its characters complain about pop stars forced to sing what the studio wants, as opposed to singing what's in your heart. Isn't that what Disney is all about? I don't see those studio executives saying to its latest 16-year-old product: "Hey, sing about whatever you like!"

To be honest, I was having more fun listening to the conversation between the two 13-year-olds sitting behind me (I know that sounds creepy, but half the bus could hear them, okay?). The movie rudely interrupted at the point where one of the girls was saying her English teacher was a fat pig who should be buried in a deep hole. Now, if Disney made movies where that was the plotline, the bus trip would have been something else entirely.