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Showing posts from August, 2013

Book 33 of 52: The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

I try not to read reviews for a book I write about on this blog until after I'm done with the book, but I accidentally saw something that Parade  wrote about B.A. Shapiro's  The Art Forger . The magazine called it a "literary thriller." Thriller? Yes. But literary? No. Sure, it makes for a servicable caper - a young painter shunned by the art world who is offered the chance to copy a Degas that had been stolen in the 1990 Boston art heist (the heist is fact; the Degas fiction). But any book that uses the word "laboriously" is not literary. I tripped up on the writing. It's just not good. The novel is told in present tense. Adverbs are ripe. Shaprio over describes everything, which is tedious to the point of maddening when describing how to forge a painting. I was very tempted to pick up my red pen and start slashing, but it just wasn't worth it after a while because I'd slash everywhere. The writing didn't pass my meter test: I would n

Book 32 of 52: What Shall I Wear? By Claire McCardell

I found out about Claire McCardell's  What Shall I Wear? from Couture Allure , my go to site for vintage fashions. She reviewed the book in January , and I just got to it now. It's an interesting read. It isn't a new book, but a re-release from 1956 by a master designer who made clothing more wearable and comfortable for American women. It's sometimes hilariously dated, with things like what to wear when you drive your husband to the train in the morning. "When you drive your husband to the train, is the whole community there? If you are display, it is only sensible to be displayable." On shoes, she writes "When you buy shoes, you are not just buying for your own feet. You are buying for  your husband's tastes, for the things you are going to walk to. Does he take big steps? Would he rather help poor delicate you into a taxi?" Sports are limited to skiing, hiking, golf and tennis, and gloves must be worn, always. Oh, and "every woman sho

Book 31 of 52: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

I, like many people, binge watched Netflix's Orange is the New Black  this summer. I fell down the rabbit hole on Fourth of July weekend, and immediately ordered the book upon which it's based -  Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison . I guess I wasn't the only one. Barnes and Noble said the book was backordered, so I cancelled that order and bought a used library copy from Half.com. It's always odd to read the book after you've seen the movie/TV show/series, and I wonder how I would have felt about the book version if I hadn't first seen the show. I wasn't disappointed, but I already knew parts of the story, even if they aren't a perfect match. Some of the basic facts are the same: the main character/narrator is a woman named Piper who came from a middle to upper class background, graduated from an all woman's college, and then traveled the world with her lesbian lover who was also part of an international drug ring. Piper,

Book 30 of 52: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

In February, I wrote a post about DNF-ing books. In that post, I told the story of why I reviewed Curtis Sittenfeld's Man of My Dreams  even though I didn't like it. I felt that the reader should know that an author's sophomore's effort was a let down after her wildly popular debut (in this case,  Prep ). I was happy, then, that Sittenfeld's third book The American Wife  seemed to be a return to form. I devoured that novel, and bought her new novel  Sisterland   as soon as it came out. It falls somewhere in the middle between Man of My Dreams  and The American Wife  - disappointing but not a terrible book. Sisterland  is about twins Violet and Daisy. They have what they call "senses" - either able to predict an event happening in the future, or know something about someone without knowing why (i.e. that a classmate will die young). Violet chooses to tune into these senses and brands works as a psychic. Daisy starts telling people that her name is Ka

Book 29 of 52: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Well, this was a disappointment. I got suckered in by the cool topic, media buzz, and the fact that a book was on the New York Times Best Seller  list. But as  The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story shows, these things do not always a guarantee of a good read. The Astronaut Wives Club  is the true story of the women behind the men who flew on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions. Most were stand-by-your-man military wives who found themselves pushed into public view, never more so than when their husbands launched, and the press camped out on their lawns. This should be fascinating, right? These women were plucked from obscurity because of their husbands, right as the women's movement started. There were stories of infidelity, and most couples ended up divorced. But no,  The Astronaut Wives Club  is a bland. It's like a bug that skates on the surface of the pond. I kept wanting it dive in and get wet. Halfway through, I started wondering if Koppel had even tal