Book Review | Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney

brightpreciousdays.jpegProtagonists Russell and Corrine have been married for years and are parents to school-aged twins. In New York City, he runs a publishing house and she works in the non-profit sector dealing with food redistribution. Both have, at times, strayed from their marriage, but they pride themselves in having weathered storms together. When a publishing faux pas lands Russell’s business upside down, and Corrine can’t keep her bloomers on, it’s a question of whether the storm will be too much for this couple to bear.

I was not aware until after reading this book that it was the third installment by the author about the protagonist couple. Bright, Precious Days works well as a standalone novel. Enough information about the couple’s history is woven into the text that they can be understood without further background. Mostly, I found this book to be an enjoyable read, though in some places I felt details or descriptions were overdone. The text would certainly be of interest to those wanting to read about the lifestyle of New York’s rich. Ultimately, the story made me contemplate people’s values and worth, leaving me with a somewhat hollow feeling. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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

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

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 | Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

cover beautiful you

In Beautiful Youaverage 20-something Penny Harrigan stumbles into billionaire C. Linus Maxwell and a strange relationship begins. Penny has failed the bar more than once and her law career is worse than at a standstill. Things look up when Maxwell flies her to Paris to live in his penthouse and wine and dine with who’s who of high society. Penny loses control when Maxwell introduces into their relationship a series of erotic gadgets he’s invented. As the final test subject before they hit the market, Penny feels responsible when women begin losing their lives and careers to new pleasurable addictions.

The novel seems divided into two parts. At times the first half reminded me of Fifty Shades and the second half of Tom Robbins stories, but each of these authors proved more successful. While Palahniuk tells an inventive tale that flows better than most of his recent works, it is no match for his original novels (think Diary, Survivor, Choke, Lullaby…). This book is a quick read with a story that decently holds the reader’s interest and includes a few plot twists. The plot and sexually graphic content may be off-putting to some readers, but as other reviewers have noted, the story is fairly unique. If the jacket description sounds inviting, check it out 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.