February 1, 2016

Recent Reads

175. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
The author inherits a "small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection."

I decided to listen to the audiobook, which is well narrated by Michael Maloney, on a recent road trip. This book is part memoir, part biography, part history, part sociology, part travel writing, and part art history, and is nothing like I expected it to be.

As the book unfolds, we learn about the netsukes, about the wealthy Ephrussis family, about how members of this family intersect with the artists and royals of their time in Paris and Vienna. Then the Anschluss and World War 2 changes the family's fortunes and futures in ways that were incomprehensible and heartbreaking. And through all these times, we follow the netsukes as they move from one location to another, to another.

This should have been a 5 star read for me, but the entire middle of this book was rather dry and boring, I simply did not care enough about the family and their links to various famous people. It started out well, and I'm so glad I did not bail in the middle, because the sections of the book starting with WW2 and the final several hours of the book are brilliant.

I found parts of this book fascinating, and I really liked the exploration of the legacy of objects passed down through the family. Still, this will not be for everyone, and is not one I'd recommend. Rating: 3 stars.

176. The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2)
The audiobook is well narrated by Robert Glenister, but about 37% of the way through I find myself bored and uninterested in where this story is going. So bailing before I waste any more time on this one. Not for me. Rating: 1 star.

177. American Vampire, Vol. 1
This graphic novel volume collects issues #1-5.

I love vampire stories. Correction, I love gritty, Anne-Rice-style vampire stories. None of these ones that glitter in sunlight for me, thank you very much, so was delighted to discover this series.

The story unfolds via multiple story lines, the American Wild West, and Los Angeles in the 1920s, and recounts the origin story of the American vampire.

This should have been fantastic, but the story and art is not quite fully developed enough for my tastes. Still, a fun, if bloody (doesn't that go without saying?) story, and I've already got the next one in the series started. Rating: 3 stars.

178. Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout
This book is an illustrated biography of Pierre and Marie Curie, and be forewarned that the cover art glows in , the dark. It took me several moments to realize that I was not experiencing a paranormal event one dark night.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Marie Currie is someone I have been fascinated with since I was a kid, and it was fun to read about her again, and learn quite a few new interesting nuggets in the process. The art in this book is wonderfully evocative - ghostly and luminous, but towards the latter half of the book, there was almost too much text, and muddling of the main story line. Still, I liked it, and will certainly be reading other books by this author. Rating: 3 stars.

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