Posts Categorized: Books

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

January 30, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 2 ★★

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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Top Ten Tuesday – The First Rule of Book Club…

January 27, 2015 Books 9

is find one? I don’t have a book club. I wouldn’t have time to go if I did. BUT, IF I HAD ONE, this is what we would read. Because I would be the Queen, of course.

(Heather was lazy this morning, so no pretty pictures. Sorry!)

An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (my review) – If  my and Andi’s emails are any indication, it is ripe for discussion.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Feminism, women’s rights, religion, society…there is a plethora of things to talk about here. A PLETHORA.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (my review) – Mainly because I want to make everyone and their mother read it, but mostly because it’s a freaking awesome book. Race. Women in the military. World War II. Familial love. It’s got it all.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Dude, I just want to discuss Cathy.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (my review) – An excellent YA that is a look at survivor’s guilt and how tragedy affects not only the families of those affected, but also those who (in this case, somewhat unwittingly) played a part in a high school shooting.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (my review) – it’s just one of those books that I want everyone’s opinion on.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin (my review) – Lots to discuss here; race, slavery, feminism, ownership, history….

Liar by Justine Larbalestier (my review) – I love unreliable narrators and would love to discuss one with a bunch of people.

Maus I & II  by Art Speigelman (my review) – Because I haven’t pushed it enough lately. Ha.

The Particular Sweetness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (my review) – This book blew my mind; not necessarily in a good way….

Do you have a book club? Which books worked well for you? What would you recommend for a book group?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

January 26, 2015 Books 8

Jan 26

OMG y’all, how is it already Monday? It feels like it should still be Saturday.

So, as you can tell, I’m still reading The Martian. My ears (which have been infected for over a week now) were still bothering me this weekend, so I didn’t get any listening done. I hope I can get back to it today. There is only a mild ringing in my ears. I did listen to it on the way to work and OMG MY NAILS.

Since I was laying around quite a bit this weekend, I sucked down The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Holy F’n Black y’all. I’ve been reading Black since the beginning, with her fairy books Tithe, Valiant and Ironside, and I AM SO GLAD SHE WENT BACK TO THE FAIRIES. Don’t get me wrong, she is a great writer, I love everything she does, but she is magic with the fairies. Loved this.

After finishing that, I went through my queue, looking for something that grabbed my eye. I opened Burial Rites and dude. I was sucked. right. in. I can’t wait to get back into it tonight.

Up next, I’m debating on starting Holly Black’s The Poison Eaters, because why not? I’m also feeling the itch to start a nonfiction book. Maybe Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett? And I’m leaning toward listening to Seraphina by Rachel Harman next. We shall see.

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

 

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An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay

January 23, 2015 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 11 ★★★★★

An Untamed State by Roxanne GayAn Untamed State
by Roxanne Gay
Published by Grove Press
on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

T.S Eliot described Nightwood’s (by Djuna Barnes) prose as “altogether alive” but also “demanding something of a reader that the ordinary novel-reader is not prepared to give.¹

This is how I feel about a book I just finished; An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay. It demanded something of me. However, unlike that “ordinary novel-reader,” I was prepared to give it. I went into the book knowing I would have to give something. And, by God, did I give.

Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.
They held me captive for thirteen days.
They wanted to break me.
It was not personal.
I was not broken.
This is what I tell myself.

 An Untamed State is the story of Mireille Duval Jameson. She is a Haitian woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an immigration lawyer, and all around strong, confident woman. One day, while on vacation with her husband and young son, she is kidnapped by armed Haitian men and held ransom for one million dollars. The things that happen to her while waiting for that ransom are horrific. For thirteen days, she endures torment no one, man or woman, should have to face. It was personal. She was broken. No matter what she tells herself.

Roxanne Gay. What a writer. Seriously. She knows how to craft a sentence. She knows how to pack a punch. Reading her writing is glorious, despite the subject matter.

Like I said, I knew this would be a hard book to read. I had read reviews. I knew what was coming. However, when the book was on sale this holiday season, and Andi said she’d read it with me, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would hurt, but I also knew I would come out better on the other side.

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. Why do I (or anyone else for that matter) want to read books with difficult subject matter? I remember when I was a kid…. I was always a voracious reader. I read all the time. Time out in my room never bothered me; that’s where the books where! And I had a role model for this behavior. My grandmother. She read all  the time. After she retired, she could sit and read two books a day. And you know why? She read easy books. She subscribed to Harlequin. It was nothing for me to go get the mail and find a box (or two, or three) of 6 books in there waiting. When I was in high school, and reading all the books, I asked her. “Did you ever read these kind of books? The classics and stuff?” And she said yes. “But now I’m too old to put thought into my reading,” she added. She didn’t want to think.

I want to think.

I want to be challenged. I want to expand my world view. I want my brain to be hardwired differently by what I read. (Seriously, read that article. It’s fascinating.) I want to empathize. I want to understand. I want to learn.

An Untamed State was a great teacher. I can’t wait to find my next one. As Gustave Flaubert said, “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” (sorry, couldn’t resist a favorite quote…) (I feel kind of pretentious.) (Oh well.)

Favorite bits:

The sun was still out but fading into pink along the horizon. It was beautiful how the color stretched across the sky in sweeping arcs. I stared into that pink, wanted to remember everything about it, until a hand grabbed my elbow.

My parents are not warm people. They love hard and deep but you have to work to understand the exact nature of that love, to see it, to feel it. That day was the first time I realized my parents loved each other more than they loved us though I couldn’t know then the price I would pay for that love.

Sons are different, my mother says. They always look for home somewhere else. Daughters, though, a mother can count on. Daughters always come home.

What is truly terrifying is the exact knowledge of what will come and being unable to save yourself from it.

This is what I know-the body is built to survive.

My mother has often told me there are some things you cannot tell a man who loves you, things he cannot handle knowing. She adheres to the philosophy that it is secrets rather than openness that strengthen a relation ship between a woman and a man. She believes this even though she is an honest person. Honesty, she says, is not always about the truth.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

January 19, 2015 Books, Meme 12

Jan1915

Hello! And Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Are you surprised to see The Martian up there? I am too! Last week, I mentioned The Martian as one of those books I regretted not reading last year. After all the comments calling me out on my gross oversight,  I got the idea to see how much the audiobook would cost on Audible. Sometimes a book that doesn’t work for me in print, works for me in audio. Luckily, since I had bought the ebook from Amazon, the audiobook was super cheap and I snapped it up. I had just finished listening to The Sparrow so I thought, why not? No other audiobooks had stuck yet, so I started.

And OMG YOU GUYS. I can’t put it down. If I didn’t have an double ear infection (I know, the luck, right?), I’d be listening right now. As I emailed Andi later, I think First Person POVs work better for me in audio. I will continue to test this theory.

I was a reading madwoman this weekend (see above parenthetical) and finished two books. I speed-read First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, practically reading it in one day and then I finished up N.K. Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I was ready for a change of pace, so I grabbed a few books to test out. Twain’s Feast was the first that I tried and it stuck. It’s going to be a hungry read, for sure!

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

January 12, 2015 Books, Meme 12

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Oh my gosh, you guys! Remember all that reading mojo I had going on this week? I had almost NONE this week. Mostly because life is just so freaking BUSY. Although, this is a catch-22. I am too busy to read, but by golly, I’m so busy I’m getting lots of audiobook time in. I listened to almost 80% of The Sparrow last week. I cannot honestly say I’m in love with this book (yet, I hold onto hope) but at this point, hell yeah, I’m gonna finish it.

I started The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms last week. I’ve been wanting to read this book FOREVER because several readers I trust recommend it. I haven’t picked it up in probably 5 days. This is partly Andi’s fault. She was ready to start An Untamed State and I said SURE! I can fit that in! {insert eye roll} {I have way too much confidence}

All my free reading time has gone into An Untamed State. Because this book is going to kill my heart and OMG I can’t put it down. The writing. The WRITING. OMG it’s gorgeous. I read the opening paragraph at LEAST three times in a row. It’s like poetry. Witness:

Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.

I mean, just, oh my gosh. I love that paragraph. It hurts my heart and turns my stomach, brings tears to my eyes and makes me read more. In fact, I’m going to go do that now.

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good next week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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The Best of 2014 – The Nonfiction

January 9, 2015 Books 12

Another day, another list! Honestly, I am so proud of my nonfiction reading last year. Every year I say I want to read more of it and last year I finally did. Nonfiction November helped, but I consistently did it all year. I feel it really enriched my reading for the year. Here are ten of my favorites.

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  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (my review)

Life changing. Defining.

  • Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson

Informative and fun.

  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand

I learned so much about the Japanese side of World War II. I feel like I knew nothing about it until I read this book. Heartbreaking and inspiring.

  • The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson

It feels weird to say a book about obituaries was fun, but good golly, it was.

  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

I love Mary Roach. She makes the most gross subjects not only informative, but also fun.

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  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

I’m beginning to suspect a fascination with death? Probably not, but still, it’s all very interesting.

  • Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

Interesting look at what it takes to open a restaurant, and the effects that can have on a marriage.

  • Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (my review)

This look at a midwife’s life in London’s East End during the 1950s is nothing short of fascinating.

  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (my review)

Y’all, my body hurts just thinking about this book. What a wild ride. Exciting and a little scary.

  • Will Storr vs. The Supernatural: One Man’s Search for the Truth About Ghosts by Will Storr

This was just plain fun and a great read for the fall months.

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Best of 2014 – The Fiction

January 7, 2015 Books 16

I am such a cheater. But hey, I read 132 books last year. And it IS my blog. So, here are my top 10 favorite FICTION books from last year.

2014fiction_1

Yep. This was my favorite. It has stayed with me all year and, believe it or not, I have it queued up to listen to very soon. I waited until 2015 to reread it. It was hard to wait.

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I never got around to reviewing this one, dang it. There is SO MUCH I LOVE about this book! I have followed Maggie Stiefvater since she published her first book (I got it for Christmas that year!) and she just gets better and better. This story of wild (killer) horses, and races, and poverty, and sexism, and more, so much more, spoke to me on so many levels. It is, in my mind, her best novel to date. And yes, I’m putting it above The Raven Cycle books. Which is hard, but there you are.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (my review)

Oh Ms. Jones! What TOOK ME SO LONG? And why haven’t I read another? {sigh}

  • Chains (Seeds of America #1) by Laurie Halse Anderson

Somehow I never review this and I am actually pretty upset about that. Isabel, a young slave who will do anything to obtain freedom for herself and her sister Ruth is pretty compelling. I have to get my hands on the sequel this year.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time India by Sherman Alexie

This book. OMG you guys, THIS BOOK. I read it during the April readathon, which turned out to be the perfect time to do it. I did not want to put it down! Junior’s typical awkward journal to adulthood is complicated by his desire to break free of his reservation life and take his future into his own hands. This book is so beautifully written and so true. Just so true. Not to be missed. I will be rereading this.

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  • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

I tried, I can’t tell you how many times I tried, to review this book, but in the end, it hit too close to home. I was abandoned by my mother and left with my sick (not mentally, physically, but still) father who died when I was still young and raised by my grandparents. CeeCee’s story was so close to my own, I couldn’t see how to write about it, which I regret because the book is absolutely breathtaking. Oh, the tears. Lifelong favorite right here. And good Lord I have got to get myself to Savannah!

  • Ruby by Cynthia Bond

This book broke me. The hardest books to read can leave the largest impression. This one left a huge one.

  • The Green Mile by Stephen King

I have long loved the movie, but had never read the book, mainly because I figured the book would be sadder. Boy, I was right. John Coffey is one of my most favorite characters. Ever.

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Epic. What. an. epic. This is another one of those books that can leave an impression. This one is everlasting. And Cathy? OMG What a piece of work. Most evil character ever? I’m leaning toward yes.

  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I really like Sepetys. I mean REALLY. Her writing is gorgeous. She makes even minor characters feel important. Her sense of time is well established and her sense of place make you almost feel like you’re there. She’s on my One to Watch list for sure.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

January 5, 2015 Books, Meme 14

PicMonkey Collage

Happy Monday!!!

How is your year going so far? Mine’s going great! I’m finally on the mend and I’m STILL reading! In fact, I’ve already finished two books! On January 1st, I devoured The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. It was a great way to begin the year.  The next book, Caveat Emptor by Ken Perenyi, was an impulse buy during Amazon’s holiday sales. I’m glad I got it on sale. It was hilarious, to me, probably in a way unintended.

Now, I’m reading devouring The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin. I actually staying up late last night to read more of it. I would have stayed up longer, but dang it, I had to work today. {sigh} I’m listening to The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I decided it was time to push on through whatever is blocking me on this book. I know I’ll love it, so I’m giving it one more try. Don’t worry, if I have to I’ll drop it. But so far so good!

Up next is An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay. I’m reading it with my Andi!

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good next week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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