Book Review | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

white fur arcWhite Fur takes place on the East Coast in the early 1980’s. Born-rich Jamey drops out of Yale after falling for Elise who grew up in the projects. For these two it’s like a spark at first sight and then, the more time they spend together, the deeper they fall. Jamey wants nothing more than to get away from his controlling 1% family who use their money for manipulation, while Elise cares only about being with the man she loves. As the two become one, they attempt to cocoon themselves away from their previous lives.

My plot description doesn’t do the novel justice. This book was better than I’d expected. It kept me engaged and wanting to read more. Libaire’s writing is clear and easy to follow, but maintains an artistic edge. Descriptions allow the reader to visualize certain passages, and some sections are graphic, but this is done in a gritty manner that is inoffensive to sensitive readers. White Fur would appeal to those interested in reading a magnetic love story or a story of boy-meets-girl from different social classes. This title is planned for release in May 2017 by Hogarth Press. I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Paradime by Alan Glynn

Paradime was an enjoyable read for me. This book tells the story of Danny Lynch upon his return back to New York from a contract in a mess hall in Afghanistan. Things are a bit out of sorts between him and his girlfriend Kate and as he tries to readjust to civilian life working a kitchen line job, he happens upon a man who seems to be his identical twin. Doppelgänger Teddy Trager is a tech start-up sensation who seems to have it all: money, fancy car, and a sexy, successful girlfriend. Danny stalks Teddy until lines blur and it’s no longer clear which man is which.

Glynn, author of Limitless, has penned a successful psychological thriller in Paradime. The novel is interesting from the start, easy to follow and well written. Though none of the characters are particularly likable, they are all tolerable and the flow of the story carries the narrative. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Pictorials | Chinatown, New York City – market month photo 29

ny 027.jpg

Fish market in Chinatown. 2005. New York, New York, USA.

Film Review | Félix et Meira by Maxime Giroux

Meira feels suffocated, living the life of a Hasidic Jewish married woman in Montreal. Because of strict tradition, she is unable to listen to the music she would like or spend time with friends of her choosing. The majority of her time is to be spent caring for her infant in the confines of her home. When Félix introduces himself to Meira in a neighborhood bakery, her immediate reaction is to flee without speaking. When the couple runs into each other again, Félix shares the news of his father’s passing and gives her a drawing he has made. Meira’s interest is piqued and she begins spending time with Félix and having a new kind of fun that furthers her belief that her current life is stifling.

While Félix & Meira is somewhat slow moving, it is interesting enough to keep the viewer’s attention. The plot is well developed and believable. The film won several awards in Canada, it’s country of origin, but the true highlight of the film is it’s soundtrack. Perhaps those to enjoy this film most would be those affected by similar issues of religious lifestyle restriction, or those wishing to leave a difficult relationship. Check this film out from a library near you.

Book Review | What it Was Like by Peter Seth

book cover - what it was like by peter sethThis teenage love story begins at a summer camp in upstate New York when the Columbia bound narrator meets beautiful, wealthy high schooler Rachel. What it Was Like tells the story of how the two got to know each other, fell in love, dealt with obstructions to shakily maintain a distance relationship, and ultimately paid the price for wrongdoing. Seth keeps the secret of what exactly goes wrong between the two for almost the entire book while he writes about their all-consuming love by focusing on concrete events.

Being a fairly long novel at over 450 pages, this book took me a while to get through. The beginning, while something I could relate to having previously been a summer camp counselor, was a bit slow and did not immediately draw my attention. The narration of the book is in first person, chronological and very easy to follow. Physical and situational descriptions are adequate for the reader to draw mental pictures. These positive things said, the book was a let down for me. Overall, the word melodramatic comes to mind. The emphasis was so great on concrete events that I felt character emotions could have used more attention. I was looking for more of a love story that would lead me to feel something. This book could be appealing to those dealing with sociopath partners. Check out the book or ebook from a library near you.

Book Review | The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America at the New-York Historical Society by Linda S. Ferber

Previously published by Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Reviews in January 2015.

the coast & the sea book cover In addition to serving as an exhibit catalog for part of “Sharing a National Treasure: The Traveling Exhibition Program of the New-York Historical Society”, The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America at the New-York Historical Society aims to delve into the visually expressive customs of marine and maritime painting and to demonstrate the connections and relations between them. Works covered range from 1728 to 1904 and focus mainly on happenings at, and evolution of, the New York Harbor. Paintings and text also focus on Naval involvement in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Author Linda S. Ferber is the Senior Art Historian at the New-York Historical Society and previously served as curator. She does a noteworthy job connecting all of the paintings through her guiding narrative. By drawing the reader’s attention to particular aspects of the pieces, Ferber ably links the objects’ artistic and historic backgrounds.

The text can be easily read as a book that recounts a factual series of events, or referenced intermittently as a research piece. It could also serve as an introduction to marine and maritime art, since Ferber concisely explains the concepts. An introduction to the Hudson River School painting movement is also provided.

Color reproductions of over sixty paintings form the core of the volume. Photographs of a handful of maritime objects are also a welcome addition to the text. Often figures and their descriptions are on subsequent pages, which requires the reader to flip back and forth to view the specific aspects of the painting that are being described.

Though the book has a table of contents, it is not very helpful since the main body of the text is listed as a single section without reference to the topical, titled subsections within it. A selected bibliography provides information on a number of sources for additional research. The book’s index is quite thorough and useful, as is the notes section. The thick, glossy pages of this book along with a solid stitched and glued binding make for a physically sound, high quality volume. The jacket and square shape are appealing and appropriate for the content included.

This book would be a suitable reference piece for anyone researching American marine or maritime paintings, New York coastal history or art related to Naval involvement in early American wars.

Film Review | The Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer

dvd cover the normal heart

Produced by HBO, The Normal Heart has a lot in common with the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. These films deal with the emergence and rapid increase of AIDS cases in the United States. The Normal Heart is an adaptation of a play by Larry Kramer that debuted in 1985. It places emphasis on both the gay men’s struggle happening in New York City and the personal life and relationship of an activist and New York Times reporter. The film starts out with Ned (Ruffalo) visiting his gay friends and the group learning about a new type of gay cancer (AIDS). They form a committee, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with the intent to spread awareness, raise money and support those affected by the disease. Being the 1980’s, the men must tread a fine line with what is and is not socially acceptable and handle conflicts with those close to them.

The film does an excellent job showing how difficult things could have been at the time for gay men. The relationship between Ned and his lover (Bomer) is touching and tragic. The acting is well done and the film flows well. It may make you cry, but check it out from a library near you.