Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen King

June 25, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 4 ★★★★½

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen KingThe Long Walk
by Stephen King
Published by Signet
on July 1979
Genres: Horror
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars
On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as The Long Walk. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

100 boys. 100 boys, assembled on a hill in Maine. They are from all over the country. They don’t know each other, have never even seen each other before. But they are about to embark on a journey, a journey where only one will come out alive, for they are to walk. Walk until there is only one boy left standing. Along the way, profound things will be learned, friendships will be made, and at the end…does anything really change?

I’m so take it or leave it with King. And it’s not because I don’t think he’s a fantastic writer. I do! I looooooved The Stand. I’m so terrified of The Shining that I am 99.9% sure I will never touch it, even with that proverbial 10-foot pole. I thought Misery was tolerable (I was a teen when I read it, so I really barely remember it). I adored his book On Writing. The movie Pet Sematary threatened my relationship with cats for quite some time and I am a cat. lover. In short, I’m never quite sure where I stand on the guy. Basically he warms by belly in anticipation and chills my blood with apprehension.

So, when I read this book was compared to The Hunger Games, I was unsurprisingly interested and wary.

And, as these sorts of comparisons usually go, I found it remarkably different from The Hunger Games and I was completely okay with that. In many ways, The Long Walk isn’t as political. The reader is never told exactly why these boys walk every year. There is no feeling that they are a sacrifice. There is no visible government, other than the Major and the soldiers who follow the boys, and kill them when they fall. There is obviously a winner and the winner does win a prize (seemingly of a large sum of money). The focus of The Long Walk is more on the boys, their thoughts, their feelings, the process of the long walk and what it does to their minds and bodies. I’ve never really thought about it, but walking, without stopping, at a certain speed, for a long period of time would wear on your body and your mind.

In short, I know I would go completely nuts.

This book was more thought-provoking and interesting than I anticipated and I’m actually really glad I read it. I’m glad Uncle Stevie and I are starting to see things the same way. I appreciated that nothing really changed. No governments were overtly challenged, no minds were changed (except those boys), and the reader can imagine that the same thing will happen next year, and the next, and the next. Sometimes things don’t have to be all wrapped up in a bow and I love the occasionally ending that embraces that. Way to go Uncle Stevie!

 

 

 

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Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and Adventure

June 18, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 3 ★★★★★

Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and AdventurePirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
by Robert Kurson
Published by Random House
on June 16th 2015
Genres: Biography, Mystery, Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
five-stars
A thrilling new adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of the New York Times bestseller Shadow Divers

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Is there anything better than a good pirate book? Especially in the summer? Arrrr! I didn’t think so.

Way back when, I read a fantastic book about German U-Boats and deep sea divers called Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson. One of the divers, John Chatterton, may perhaps be familiar to you? If not, you are missing the adventures of one of the last, great adventurers.

John Chatterton (born 1951) is an American wreck diver. Together with Richie Kohler, he was one of the co-hosts for the History Channel’sDeep Sea Detectives, for 57 episodes of the series. He is also a consultant to the film and television industries and has worked with 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and CBS. – From Wikipedia

After reading Shadow Hunters, I (and my extension, my husband, being the history nuts we both are) became obsessed with deep sea diving. We watched Deep Sea Detectives and other such shows frequently. I read Kurson’s next book, Crashing Through; A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See, even though it had nothing to do with diving, because I just loved his writing. In other words, I really loved the book, the author, and the topic. So imagine my delight when I saw that not only did Robert Kurson had another book coming out, but it featured John Chatterton again! And pirates! Yo ho!

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship has it all. Adventure. History. Danger, greed, and of course, riches. Pirate riches. Gold doubloons, cannons, fine china, and more. I appreciated it all. The reading is fast paced. The research meticulous but not so didactic that it bogs everything down. The tension exquisite. And all to find, not on the ship, but the man who manned it; John Bannister, gentleman pirate. Bannister, lost to history and other pirates more famous, was a singular man with a fascinating story.

One feature of all of Kurson’s books are of man’s determination to be more, to push themselves to be more, than they ever thought possible. In Shadow Divers, Chatterton, Kohler, and company risk their lives to dive to unthinkable depths. Mike May, from Crashing Through, was blinded at the age of three, yet he went on to break records in downhill speed skiing, he joined the CIA, and became a successful business man, inventor, and family man. And again, in Pirate Hunters, Chatterton is thought by many to be too old to be diving at such depths. Now in his sixties, he does it anyway, risking his life, to find the impossible; a real, authenticated pirate ship and make history for finding the actual SECOND pirate ship ever to be found (and authenticated). In my mind, this outlook on life can be inspiration for anyone who wants to be more than they think they can be. Just get out there and do it!

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this fantastic book. It will look great in your beach bag!

 

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Reading Notes: What is it about a Book with a Book on the Cover?

June 10, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 11 ★★★★★

Reading Notes: What is it about a Book with a Book on the Cover?The Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins
Published by Crown
on June 16, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
five-stars
"Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy."

Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course--before the time she calls "adoption day," when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library--and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price--because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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There are (quite) a few things that make me pick up a book immediately. Things I am helpless against. First, putting a book or books on the cover. It appeals to my bookish nature. Second, compare it to a favorite author. I know I shouldn’t let this work on me, because more often than not, it doesn’t actually work out that way, but I can’t help it. Marketing works, sometimes. Lastly, Let me read it for free for a review. I’m a sucker.

The Library at Mount Char has a burnt book on it’s cover, with comparisons to Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill, and the publisher let me read it for free FOR MY HONEST OPINION. So I’m going to give it to you: I loved it. So there you go.

I don’t know much about Joe Hill. I’ve only read his comics. So, I’m mainly coming at this as a Neil Gaiman/Fantasy fan. And I felt so many shades of American Gods, in the best possible way, and I also felt shades of something new. Something unique. Something undeniably Scott Hawkins. The world he has created here, the characters, the story; all remarkable. He’s created a whole new world, a world where people can become gods, where a Library can hold all the power in the universe, where a person can be brought back to life again and again, and where a person can learn incredible things, like reincarnation, terrible savagery, and startling humanity. And behind it all is the sly, deadpan, quirky voice of a new talent. Surprising at every turn, The Library at Mount Char is not to be missed.

Favorite Bits:

“The librarians I know are into, like, I dunno, tea and cozy mysteries, not breaking and entering.”

“Yeah, well. This is a different kind of library.”

“It’s about the Library,” Carolyn said. “Right now the only thing that matters is who takes control of Father’s Library.”

“Library? Who gives a damn about a library?”

Carolyn rolled her eyes. “Americans.”

“With this particular species of crazy, you stop trying to make things better. You start trying to maximize the bad. You pretend to like it. Eventually you start working to make everything as bad as possible. It’s an avoidance mechanism.” Jennifer looked Carolyn directly in the eyes. “It can’t actually work. That’s why they call it crazy.”

Steve walked over and squatted down. There, almost invisible in the shadows, he found it. “It’s a book?”

She smiled. “Of course it’s a book.”

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Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

May 28, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 1 ★★★

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance RubinDenton Little's Deathdate
by Lance Rubin
Series: Denton Little #1
Published by Knopf
on April 14th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars
Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager's life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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You know, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’ve been going through something of a book identity crisis. You see, I used to LOVE young adult books. Then I didn’t love them quite so much any more, but I still read my favorite authors. And then, I wasn’t feeling the pull to read my favorite authors (of YA that is) either. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, this book called to me from the shelf of NetGalley and I was like sure. What the heck. It might be good.

It was good.

But, just good.

In the world Denton Little lives in, everyone knows when they will die. Down to the very day. And everyone celebrates their death day, because, why not? Denton’s death date is, tragically, early. He will die on prom night, in his 17th year. Dude has been busy. So many firsts in his last days! As the book opens, Denton has his first hangover. Upon waking he discovers he’s had his first sex (and totally missed it because booze) which leads to his first love triangle (because dude has a girlfriend and sex was not with her).

Things are dramatic.

Then he discovers the beginnings on a rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? He’s disappointed. Because teenage boy.

If things don’t seem dramatic and crazy enough, things are about to get worse, when a strange man shows up at his funeral. Since you know when you’re going to die, you go to your own funeral. Fun times.

Thoughts:

  • It’s funny. Very witty. Lance Rubin is quite the funny, witty, guy.
  • It is fast paced. I can see kids (boys especially) appreciating the quick action.
  • There’s a mystery. Mysteries are always fun.
  • The characters are fun. I’m saying fun a lot, am I not?
  • The sex isn’t handled lightly. The cheating isn’t either, which I appreciate. The drinking kind of is.
  • The adults are present, which is nice. Adults tend to go missing in YA.

All in all, it’s a fun read. Kids will love it. I finished it, which I think says a lot. I may even make an effort to read the next one. And, if I had a kind old enough for it, I would push it off on them.

Recommended, for those younger than me.

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Audiobook: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

May 15, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 1 ★★★★

Audiobook: The Buried Giant by Kazuo IshiguroThe Buried Giant
by kazuo ishiguro
Narrator: david horovitch
Length: 11 hours 48 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 317
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay..."

The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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You guys, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never read a book by Ishiguro, prior to The Buried Giant. It’s not that they haven’t appealed to me either; it’s that he intimidated me. To me, he’s up there with Atwood, Auster, Murakami, and Eugenides. And lots of others. So, yeah, I’ve steered clear of Ishiguro.

Until now.

The Buried Giant pushed all the Must-Read-Buttons.

  • The writing is impeccable. Even during the slow parts, the writing was gorgeous and atmospheric.
  • The many themes: memory, love, betrayal, forgiveness, religion, loyalty. The facing of reality. And they are all dealt with so richly and with compassion.
  • The characters and their story. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living just after the time of King Arthur, are struggling with memory and acceptance. In their village, they are outcast from the rest of the villagers and missing their son. One day, they decide to leave to go visit their son, whom they miss very much. They know something is wrong, something is very off, and the hope they can find out what it is along the way. There is a mist, covering the land, and it is affecting memory.
  • The supporting characters are just as interesting. A knight, a foreigner, an orphan. A dragon. Some devious monks. Pixies. And the mist. That dangerous mist.
  • It’s such a serene story. It puts you in mind of a fairy tale or a fable. That feeling of magic, lying over everything, is prevalent.
  • The feelings. I could feel Axl and Beatrice’s pain, love, confusion, everything. I came to love them and hated to leave them at the end of the book.
  • The ending. It was…not what I expected and I love it when a book can surprise me.
  • The reader. David Horovitch. His voice was the perfect match for the book and his accent lovely.

I knew reviewing this book properly was beyond my skills, but I hope I have conveyed just how much I loved this book. It was a surprise, a lovely surprise, and I hope I can find more from Ishiguro soon.

Som favorite quotes:

But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn’t like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.

But God will know the slow tread of an old couple’s love for each other, and understand how black shadows make part of its whole.

When it was too late for rescue, it was still early enough for revenge.

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Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.

April 9, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 2 ★★★★★

Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
by tara austen weaver
Published by Ballantine Books
on March 24th 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
For fans of Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving memoir of rediscovering, reinventing, and reconnecting, as an estranged mother and daughter come together to revive a long-abandoned garden and ultimately their relationship and themselves.
 
Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real-estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would’ve seen the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way.

So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, detailing what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past.

For everyone who has ever planted something that they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth set in a most unlikely place.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Back when I was a kid, I would occasionally (read – often) steal my grandmother’s romances and read them under the covers at night. A bad habit to be sure (kids, listen to your parents!) but at the time, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want me to read them! I do now. Why am I telling you this?

Well, one time, I read one of those romances and it was about a woman who bought old homes and renovated them to sale (and yeah, I think she wound up in love with a contractor and they did the YOU KNOW WHAT all over one of those houses and then fought and broke up then made up and then lived happily ever after the end.) (12-year-old me says “blush.”). Something about that touched the romantic and ambitious part of me. It sounded so fantastic! To buy an old home, rip out all the rot, the ugly, the unwanted, and make it warm, cozy, and a home again. And the garden. My dream garden, with flowers and vegetables and fruit, everywhere. It sounded terribly awesome.

I decided that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. Refurb houses, not read romances. Because ick.

Flash forward 25 years (or so) and that is definitely not what I am doing. And yet, I still find it a romantic thing to do. I moon over old houses in our area. I love looking at books, magazines, and websites about decorating. And someday, I will take a house and make it my own, although probably not an old one. Oh well.

So, when I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read it. And it’s why I loved so much. Tara Austen Weaver finds just such a house, with “peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden…” just what she (and I) can see so much potential in. She convinces her mother to come to Seattle and they start planning.

This book. Wow, this book. It sounds sappy to say it “touched my heart” but it honestly did and dude, you know I’m a cynic. I did not have a relationship with my mother, but I did with my grandmother and in many ways, the relationship between Tara and her mother reminds me of the one I had with her. We were so much alike and so very contentious. And part of the beauty of this book is seeing how these two souls manage to love and work together, despite their ways.

And the food. Oh the descriptions of food. And the garden. I read this when it was too early to get out in the garden, but I was dying to do so while reading it. I even mentioned starting an orchard on the land we’re going to build on eventually, so perhaps we’d have fruit by the time we moved and my husband said yes! Color me delighted.

All in all, if you love foodie, gardening, mother/daughter relationship, family relationship, etc, type books, I can’t see why you wouldn’t love this book as much as me. Highly recommended.

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Everybody Needs One

March 11, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 10 ★★★★½

Everybody Needs OneStrong Female Protagonist
by brennan lee mulligan, molly ostertag
Series: Volume 1
Published by Top Shelf Productions
on November 2014
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 220
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars
With superstrength and invulnerability, Alison Green used to be one of the most powerful superheroes around.

Fighting crime with other teenagers under the alter ego Mega Girl was fun — until an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch enemy, showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy, and suddenly battling giant robots didn't seem so important.

Now Alison is going to college and trying to find ways to help the world while still getting to class on time. It's impossible to escape the past, however, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a hero....

After a phenomenal success on Kickstarter, Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag bring their popular webcomic into print, collecting the first four issues, as well as some all-new, full-color pages!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Everyone needs a Strong Female Protagonist, that is.

I hate to admit it, but I had never heard of this comic until I saw it on NetGalley. It’s a webcomic. It had a very successful Kickstarter campaign. It fell into my lap and y’all. I am so happy about that, because this protagonist is right up my alley.

Alison Green is one of those protagonists you can’t help but identify with. Sure, she has superhuman abilities, but underneath all that strength and super-ness, lies a very uncertain girl with real world problems like money, family, friendship, lack of confidence, and a past she just can’t escape. And then yes, on top of it all, Alison has superpowers. What does she do with that? Is she obligated to save the world? And who really cares anyway?

There is so much to love in this little comic. The writing is great. The art is too. The thing I love most though, is the message. That no matter how smart, how super, how strong you are, you are also human. With human fears, feelings, desires, and just messed up.

Highly recommended.

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Alex + Ada, Volume One by Jonathan Luna

February 5, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 10 ★★★★★

Alex + Ada, Volume One by Jonathan LunaAlex + Ada
by Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn
Series: 1-5
Published by Image Comics
on July 16, 2014
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 128
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars
Collects ALEX + ADA #1-5. From JONATHAN LUNA (GIRLS, THE SWORD, ULTRA, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot.

Five reasons you need to read Alex + Ada. Like, right now:

1. The art is gorgeous. It’s plain jane, but well drawn, and for the story (at this point, anyway) I think it fits. Alex is sad. He’s depressed. And his world reflects that. And the story, while not original, it is a fresh take on it, if that makes sense. I mean, the execution is excellent. And you know, it’s not what you have, it’s all in how you use it. It is just so engaging.

2. Robots are boring. Super boring. Completely subservient, no will – absolute no will – of their own. No personality, no desire, no spark. Some people may think this is great! No more dishes, no more laundry! Others, those who see robots as more than that, have a Big Moral Dilemma to contend with. Fireworks!

3. The political and social tensions. People are terrified because the robots are becoming sentient and no one knows how it is happening. And just like in the real world, when people don’t understand something, they panic. And when they panic, bad things happen. And then the politicians get involved. OH SNAP.

4. Loneliness. This hit me so strongly. These characters have everything they could possibly have in subservient assistance. Alex, for instance, wakes up to a holographic tv screen that gives him the weather, the news report, and more. He has a robot (a very standard model) to make his breakfast, wash his clothes, put up his feet, etc. He has implants in his head that enable to him to tell all his appliances (and robot) to do this, do that, make the water this temperature, flush the toilet, call Grandma, etc. He doesn’t want for anything. Anything except basic human company. In this near future, everything seems solved, except loneliness. Depression. All our technological advances can’t solve this. Except maybe self-aware extremely lifelike robots?

5. Because I LOVES it! When have I ever steered you wrong? (Don’t answer that.)

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Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi

January 30, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 4 ★★

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken PerenyiCaveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger
by Ken Perenyi
Published by Pegasus
on August 15th 2012
Genres: Autobiography, Nonfiction
Pages: 314
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
two-stars
It is said that the greatest art forger in the world is the one who has never been caught—the astonishing story of America’s most accomplished art forger.

Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front-page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, renowned experts, and the major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure.”

Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off.

My mission: To review this book with a straight face. Because I STRAIGHT UP AM NOT KIDDING. I didn’t read it with a straight face.

I had all the laughs.

I don’t think it was on purpose.

Caveat Emptor is a conundrum. I keep thinking about how to tell you about this book. The author is telling his story, and the more I think on it, the more I feel like he is a terribly unreliable narrator. Of course, we’re all an unreliable narrator for our own lives, yes? We all tell our own version of events. We embellish. We gloss. We blur. We paint the picture of our lives, just like Mr. Perenyi did here.

And y’all. This dude. His ego. It is large.

I’m not saying he isn’t telling the truth in this book. He got up to some crazy stuff; crime, drugs, alcohol, sex, you name it, this dude did it. He got away with a lot of shit. He copied the artistic works of some pretty famous painters. And he got away with it. FOR YEARS. He made a TON of money.

Again. So he says.

Like I said, he may be telling the whole, complete, unbiased truth. If he is, his life was crazy. There came I point where I was just like, whoa, this is impossible to believe! How can one man get away with so many things???? And yeah, I had to laugh.

So, obviously, this book was good enough for me to finish. Perenyi is a decent writer. The story is out of this world big. It’s entertaining. It just depends on how big your capacity for bullshit is.

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The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

January 29, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 2 ★★★★★

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick RothfussThe Slow Regard of Silent Things
by Patrick Rothfuss
Series: Tales from Temerant, The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5
Published by DAW
on October 28th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 159
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
five-stars
Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows...

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

Some days simply lay on you like stones.

How does one review a book in a series that almost didn’t happen? How do you convince readers they have to read a book in a series, a book that is chronologically 2.5 in the series?

First, I start with saying you have to read the other books in the series. It’s a given. To know the characters, to know the place, and the time period, the world of the books, you have to read the series.

Secondly, I have to tell you, you could probably read this out of order or as a standalone. The character in this book appears in the other books, but none of the other characters do. She mentions a character from the other books a few times, but never by name. In the other books, she is a very small secondary character who doesn’t take up a lot of time or plot. She is merely a character the author felt the need to expand on. For more on why Rothfuss wrote the book, if you are interested, here is a blog post he wrote on it here.

To be so lovely and so lost. To be all answerful with all that knowing trapped inside. To be beautiful and broken.

Lastly, yes. Yes, I hear you. Why should you read this? Honestly, because it is…geez…how to describe it. It is just such a great character study. (To me, it felt like the chance to get inside the character as it exists in the author’s head.) It’s one character. It’s a week of her life. Wait, let’s back up. The character. Her name is Auri. She lives under the university. In the bowels, the basement, the place where all the pipes lead. Auri is a sad character in the grand scheme of things. She’s alone. She lives alone, under the university, scrounging for food on a daily basis. Yet, when you take a closer look, the picture is a little different. Yes, she’s alone, but she choses to be so. Auri knows she’s not…quite…right.

She felt the panic rising in her then. She knew. She knew how quickly things could break. You did the things you could. You tended to the world for the world’s sake. You hoped you would be safe. But still she knew. It could come crashing down and there was nothing you could do. And yes, she knew she wasn’t right. She knew her everything was canted wrong. She knew her head was all unkilter. She knew she wasn’t true inside. She knew.

God, y’all. This book is gorgeous. The writing is gorgeous. The character is gorgeous. If you’ve ever had a day when things didn’t feel quite right, that you felt maybe a little crazy, like you couldn’t live in the world; this book. I mean, you’ll understand it. You will get it.

But for half a minute she wished it was a different sort of day, even though she knew that nothing good could come from wanting at the world.

You won’t need to know the world this book lives in. You will connect with this character. This powerful, lost, sad young woman will get to you. I got it. I got her. I’ve been her. And, well…

She’d strayed from the true way of things. First you set yourself to rights. And then your house. And then your corner of the sky. And after that… Well, then she didn’t rightly know what happened next. But she hoped that after that the world would start to run itself a bit, like a gear-watch proper fit and kissed wit oil. That was what she hoped would happen.

As the author said:

“This story is for all the slightly broken people out there. I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.”

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