What I've been reading
Oh, it feels so good to read again. When I have a lapse in my reading, I forget how much I enjoy it, how much it engages my mind, how much I learn from books, and just how relaxing it is to pick up a book, plop my butt down in a comfy chair, and recede from the world around me. Last night was a good example. The Boy had friends over and they were rocking out to guitar hero and I was engrossed in a book. They were making a lot of noise and occasionally talking to me, but although I was physically right there, mentally I was in Barcelona, following the adventures of the guy that cracked the code to buying Birkin bags right from Hermes stores.
Let me share with you what I've been reading. In the past week, I've finished 5 novels and one non-fiction memoir. I know, it's a bit excessive, but this is how I used to read, pre-kids.
Bringing Home the Birkin, by Michael Tontello. This quick read is a fascinating first person account of how a young gay man from Provincetown, MA moved from his seaside home and thriving business to Barcelona, Spain and found himself emeshed in the very strange world of buying and selling Hermes merchandise on Ebay. What began as a serendipitous act, selling a couple of Hermes scarves, ended up as a 1.6 million dollar business before he lost interest after the death of his mother. Tontello found several Hermes mentors on Ebay that advised him on how to find rare scarves and price them accordingly, and mentioned that he might want to try and find them a Birkin. Tontello didn't even know what a Birkin was, but with each visit to Hermes stores throughout Europe he kept asking if they had them, and was rejected time and time again, until he figured out the formula on how to get Hermes salespersons to show him the Birkins hidden in the back rooms, only pulled out for 'special' customers. Once he solved the dilemma of how to get Birkins, he was buying as many as 6 in a week, and immediately turning them around to his customer base. While Hermes claims that they only make 100 Birkins per year, Tontello was buying many more than that, and making a large fortune in the process. This is a great read, hilariously funny in parts, and highly enjoyable. Read it!
The History of Lucy's Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters, by Deborah Wright. Meh. I'm not a lover of chick lit, but it's my version of trashy novels. Some people like mysteries, some people like romance, I'll read a quick chick lit book for fun. Usually they are fun. This one wasn't. It was stupid. Lucy is a commitment-phobe and sort of a dim bulb. She loses her job as assistant to a 'scientist' and the 'scientist' gives Lucy a time-machine that Lucy put together and used to travel in time to meet some of the world's greatest lovers. She meets Lord Byron, Casanova, Ovid, Al Capone.... yawn. I only finished it because all the other books were downstairs. Definite skip.
Mommy Tracked, by Whitney Gaskell. More chick lit, although light years better than the previous book. Four different women in the same town, lives intertwined, marriage and relationship problems... the usual. Not offensive, not literary prize winning. Exactly what chick lit is supposed to be, light, entertaining, and fun.
Codex 632: The Secret Identity of Christopher Colombus, by Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos. I'm not sure exactly what this genre is called. It's historial fiction with a dash of intrigue and a lot of code solving. Started by Umberto Echo in The Name of the Rose, this genre was taken to the heights of popularity with Dan Brown's The DiVinci Code. Now, I'll admit to being a sucker for whatever this genre is called. I happen to love history (I know, I'm a freak of nature) and I like code solving and all that mysterious spooky stuff. I find it highly entertaining, and this book certainly didn't disappoint at all. I loved it. It didn't have all the extranious violence and police chasing of the Dan Brown books, which is a big plus for me, and it focussed solely on existing historical documents, some of which I've already read, to prove the "real" identity of Christopher Colombus. Of course, nobody has actually proven exactly who Colombus was, but many have proven who he was not. He was not Italian, he was not from Genoa, he was not a poor silk weaver, and he certainly was not a dupe of the Spanish government. This novel takes research on Colombus's identity to such far-flung places as Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, New York and Jerusalem. It's a consistantly interesting read with no lag and no disappointments. A definite two thumbs up.
The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris. Did you read Chocolat? Or see the movie? With Johnny Depp? No? You missed Johnny Depp in his sexiest role ever? You fool! The Girl with No Shadow is the sequel to Chocolat, and it does not disappoint. More magic, more chocolate, more intrigue, more quirky characters... how can you go wrong? Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk have left the small village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the much more crowded and busy village of Montmarte in Paris, where they change their names and live a very private and quiet live. But all that changes when a woman named Zozie arrives in their lives and turns it upside down. Zozie and Vianne open up a chocolaterie on a Montmarte corner, and just like Lansquenet, the chocolaterie becomes the center of village society. But Zozie isn't what she seems. She another witch, and she teaches Anouk to use the powers that Vianne has forbiden to be used, all in her desperate quest to abduct Anouk and put her to work practicing identity theft. Zozie is an expert at identity theft, and she works quietly to steal Vianne's identity as well as her daughter. But Roux (the Johnny Depp part) comes to Paris after 4 years away and finds that Vianne's baby Rosette, a child with special needs, is his daughter. He figures out that Zozie is up to no good, and help's Vianne rid her life of this very dangerous woman. LOVED IT. Cannot wait to see it in a movie form. Just wonderful. Slow and filled with beautiful prose, this is a masterpiece of gorgeous, rich prose with a surprise around every corner. Do not miss this book!
Another Thing to Fall, by Laura Lippman. Let me just begin this review by saying that the photo of the author on the back shows she is a dead ringer for Tia Leone. Pretty and a good writer. Hate her! No, not really. This book is one of a series following Tess Monaghan, Baltimore private investigator. While rowing, Tess literally runs into the crew of a new TV series filming in Baltimore called Mann of Steel. Expecting the crew to be angry for ruining their shoot, she's surprised to find that they want to hire her to investigate some disturbing incidents that keep happening; fires, bad press, union threats. Tess is asked to watch starlet Selene Waites and serve as her bodyguard and babysitter, a job that sounds easy but ends up being more than full time and filled with 'accidents' and 'adventures'. Selene isn't what she seems at all, and Tess has to hire her friend Whitney to tag team the bodyguard duty. Meanwhile, the aging actor Johnny Tampa and the two partners responsible for the show, Ben and Flip, also behave questionably, forcing Tess to look further into the entire crew to solve the mystery. Another meh. It was ok, written well, but this is so not my kinda book. I like mysteries, but not this kind of mystery. I'm more interested in the psychological thriller, Ruth Rendell, PD James type of book. This book is fine, but just not the kind of book I like to read. If you like this genre, you'll like the book. Stumble It! JBlog Me