Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Two Books One Author

by Laine Moriarty

There are two reasons I am combining these book reviews, first I am still rather behind on my blog posts and second the books are pretty similar in many aspects.

Big Little Lies
Madeline, mother of 3, has everything under control except the emotions of her preteen daughter. Jane, a single mom trying to run away from her past and Celeste, gorgeous mother of twins and married to the perfect husband become friends at the kindergarden parent night. The threesome join forces to battle a kindergarden bully, the snobby PTA members and even Madeline's ex-husband's new wife, but when someone is killed at the school social night they become the perfect murder suspects.

The Last Anniversary
Sophie is 39 years old, single, stuck in a rut with her job and her biological clock is ticking away. She has become frantic because she wants children, but can't seem to find a man for the job. Things aren't looking good for her and she is depressed. And that is when her ex-boyfriend calls her up with some shocking news that could change everything!

Both of these books were okay, but I didn't find either very engaging. Whereas they should have been light, easy reads I had to force myself to keep reading. To me the characters were unreal, unbelievable and silly and the plots were predictable. Her books all seem to go in the same direction with the same type characters, at least one of which is the most beautiful woman on earth.  Each book tries to address some relatively tough real life issues like postpartum depression, abuse, jealousy and unplanned pregnancy, but unfortunately they are dealt with in a rather nonchalant way and then seem to be blown off with miraculously happy endings.

The reason I went ahead and read the second book after not being super impressed with the first is because I had already purchased both and some of my friends really do like this author and her books, so you might love them too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Lotus Eaters

by Tatjana Soli

The Lotus Eaters had potential, but just never got there. Helen Adams, a photographer for Life magazine, heads to Viet Nam to cover the war, which in itself posed problems for me, since her first time out she didn't even know how to load a camera! But that aside, the author does recover a bit by her descriptions of the land and the impacts of the war on the Vietnamese and seems to be heading in a good direction. Unfortunately, the story shifts focus and turns into a bit of a love triangle, turning this supposedly hard-as-nails female journalist into a love sick fool. And here is where the story becomes scripted and predictable. Helen is smitten with another photographer, Clarence Darrow, who has a wife back home. Clarence's local guide, Linh, has a secret crush on Helen. None of the characters go beyond the stereotypes and neither Helen nor Clarence is very likable or interesting. Linh has a good back story, but not enough to pull this story up.

As I said, the writings on the land, the people of Viet Nam and the war are interesting and well written, but if that is what you're going for, I'm sure you could find it in a better book.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Art Forger

by B.A. Shapiro

The springboard for this novel is the notorious Gardner Gallery art heist of 1990, in which thirteen works of art were stolen by a pair of thieves disguised as policemen and remain lost to this day. However, very little mention is made of the actual event, the true foundation of this book is the history and the process of art forgery. And although the Degas "masterpiece" described in these pages is an invention of the author's mind, the details and specifics of art forging and other infamous forgers mentioned are real. Interestingly, Shapiro goes into a lot of detail about mixing paints and chemicals to remove paints and layering of paints but I didn't find it as tedious as that in Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling. 

What happens in The Art Forger is that Claire Roth, a starving artist, gets offered a deal to paint a forgery of After the Bath V, one of the missing works from the Isabella Gardner Gallery, in exchange for her own art showing in one of the foremost art studios in Boston. The issue is, this dealer has the original from which she is supposed to make her copy, and he wants to "return" her forgery to the Gardner Gallery as the real thing.  Not only does she have to deal with how he got the painting, as she is copying it, she comes to believe his "original" is also a fake.

A little mystery and a little history. If you like art and art history, you'd like this book.