Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts on Children of the Dust by Ali Eteraz

Children of the Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz

I received my copy of this book from Julie Harabedian of FSB Media.

Some thoughts on the book:

I haven't gotten really far on the book but wanted to post a few thoughts on it and a full review will come at a later date.  When I started this book I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it.  I'm still getting used to memoirs and keep expecting them to bore me (I'm a fiction-lover what can I say).  But I keep trying memoirs because I want to branch out and learn more through my reading.  This is definitely a book to do that.  I know very little about Middle Eastern culture.  In fact I got out our globe just to help me orient myself better on how exactly these countries border each other.  I also know little about Islam.

So having said all of that - the first 100 pages that I have read have been fascinating.  The style of his writing for this section which is about childhood gets me right into the mind of Ali when he was a child.  His making his way and learning about Islam from those around him, is very interesting.  I could hardly  put it down and I am looking forward to finishing the book.  Ali has an interesting life and he writes about it well.

About the Book:

Ali Eteraz's Children of Dust is a spellbinding portrayal of a life that few Americans can imagine. From his schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan to his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and back to Pakistan to find a pious Muslim wife, this lyrical, penetrating saga from a brilliant new literary voice captures the heart of our universal quest for identity.

Children of Dust begins in rural Islam at the lowest levels of Pakistani society in the turbulent eighties. This intimate portrayal of rustic village life is revealed through a young boy's eyes as he discovers magic, women, and friendship.

After immigrating with his family to the United States, Eteraz struggles to be a normal American teenager under the rules of a strict Muslim household.

In 1999, he returns to Pakistan to find the villages of his youth dominated by the ideology of the Taliban, filled with young men spouting militant rhetoric, and his extended family under threat. Eteraz becomes the target of a mysterious abduction plot when he is purported to be a CIA agent, and eventually has to escape under military escort.

Back in the United States, with his fundamentalist illusions now shattered, Eteraz tries to find a middle way within American Islam. At each stage of Eteraz's life, he takes on a different identity to signal his evolution. From being pledged to Islam in Mecca as an infant, through Salafi fundamentalism, to liberal reformer, Eteraz desperately struggles to come to terms with being a Pakistani and a Muslim.

Astonishingly honest, darkly comic, and beautifully told, Children of Dust is an extraordinary adventure that reveals the diversity of Islamic beliefs, the vastness of the Pakistani diaspora, and the very human search for home.

Book Tour and Review: The Cutting by James Hayman

I received this book for the tour and review from Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

My Review:

James Hayman is a new suspense author and I love trying out new authors to find new favorites and he is definitely going on that list.  I hope he is working on more books about McCabe as we speak.

From the start this book lures you in and then holds you hostage just like the bad guy is with Cassidy.  I loved the point-of-view from all sides, from the cop McCabe, from Cassidy, from the bad guy and from a few of the other key players.  It keeps the reader right in the  middle of the action through the whole book.  You don't have a chance to become bored because Hayman's plotting and pacing are done perfectly.

Another thing that was amazing about this book is I am not easily scared by books.  I've read a bunch that say don't read after dark or make sure all your doors are locked when you pick up this book and I don't really feel scared during the book.  The Cutting wasn't like that for me.  I was at home with my two sons last night while my husband was out.  The boys were playing on the computer and I was happily in my chair reading this book and I actually got freaked out. I had to get up and lock my doors (we don't usually lock ours until bedtime if we are at home).  That is how good this book is.

I loved McCabe.  I loved that he is a father, and he regrets his failed marriage (which is more his wife's fault than his), he is working at a committed relationship and he's a good cop.  He's not perfect, he has demons, but he doesn't let his demons get in the way of his life or the job.  It's kind of refreshing after all of the scarred cops that are dominate in suspense fiction right now.  McCabe has a great mind and he cares about people, he doesn't care about  bureaucracy, he loves his daughter, Casey, and his girlfriend Kyra.  He's just a great character and I really liked watching him develop during this book.  I also enjoyed the supporting characters from Casey and Kyra, to McCabe's partner Maggie and to the people who were in question throughout the book as the evil-doers.  They are sufficiently evil and the ultimate bad guy, while not a shock when he was given (though his identity wasn't obvious through most of the book), was very evil and very interesting.

It's a very twisted book and a very satisfying suspense read.  I hope it is the first in a series since several things in McCabe's personal life were brought up in this and I can see the story continuing with his next case.  I know I will be waiting money in hand when a new book comes out.

Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city. He dropped out of NYU Film School and joined the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the top homicide cop at the Midtown North Precinct. I graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, rising through the ranks to become creative director on accounts like the US Army, Procter & Gamble, and Lincoln/Mercury.
We both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.
Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a year later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.
There are other similarities between us. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants. And we both live with and love women who are talented artists.
There are also quite a few differences. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.

You can visit our website at

Someone is Stealing the Hearts of Beautiful Young Women. NYPD homicide detective Mike McCabe left New York for Maine to escape his own dark past and to find a refuge from the violence of the big city for himself and his teenaged daughter, but on the fog-shrouded, cobblestone streets of Portland he finds far more than he bargained for.
On a warm September evening the mutilated body of Katie Dubois, a pretty high school soccer star, turns up, dumped in a Portland scrap yard. Her heart has been neatly and expertly cut from her body. The same day Lucinda Cassidy, a young Portland business-woman and competitive runner, disappears during her morning jog.
Soon other bodies turn up. All young, all blond, all athletes. Very quickly McCabe discovers he’s on the trail of no ordinary killer. Rather his prey is a brilliant, psychopathic surgeon who kills in a bizarre way to satisfy his own strange and frightening desires.
McCabe knows he has to move fast. He has less than one week to find the killer before Cassidy dies and Casey, McCabe’s own daughter is threatened.
He also knows the clock is ticking.

 Standing here in a scrap yard in Portland, Maine, McCabe suddenly had the feeling he was back in New York. It wasn’t like he was imagining it. Or remembering it. It was like he was really there. He could hear the rush of the city. He could smell the stink of it. A hundred bloodied corpses paraded before his eyes. His right hand drew comfort from resting on the handle of his gun. Mike McCabe once again lured to the chase.
He knew with an absolute certainty that this was his calling. That it was here, among the killers and the killed, that he belonged. No matter how far he ran, no matter how well he hid, he’d never leave the violence or his fascination with it behind.

James Hayman’s THE CUTTING VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ‘09 will officially begin on Oct. 5 and end on Nov. 30. You can visit James’ blog stops at during the months of October and November to find out more about this great book and talented author!