Friday, July 20, 2012

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Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore

Library Journal –

Moore (Fool; You Suck) set out to write a book about the color blue. What he ended up with is a surprisingly complex novel full of love, death, art, and mystery. When baker-turned-aspiring artist Lucien Lessard, whose father was friends with some of the preeminent French artists of the late 19th century, receives a special tube of vibrant blue paint from the mysterious Juliette, his amateurish painting becomes masterly and his life becomes a mess. Obsessed with painting and loving Juliette, Lucien must discover the mystery of the blue paint, the origins of Juliette, and the identity of her near-constant companion, the frighteningly sinister Colorman who haunted other artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, and Cézanne. In the end, the true question for Lucien is, "At what price art?" VERDICT Don't let Moore's quirky characters and bawdy language fool you. His writing has depth, and his peculiar take on the impressionists will reel you in. One part art history (with images of masterpieces interspersed with the narrative), one part paranormal mystery, and one part love story, this is a worthy read. - Jennifer Beach, Cumberland Cty. P.L., VA



Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama's Dream of the Socialist States of America by Michael Savage

Publishers Weekly –

It’s difficult to exaggerate Savage’s animus toward Barack Obama. For the conservative radio host, Obama is a “naked Marxist,” who, if re-elected, will make himself “president for life.” Savage (Trickle Up Poverty) tries to lacerate many areas of the Obama administration’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as alleged instances of malfeasance and corruption in the Justice Department and elsewhere. Unfortunately, he clutters his narrative with charges such as the claim that the Occupy Wall Street movement is characterized by “public nudity, masturbation and sexual intercourse... carried out daily.” Worse, the book is marred by name-calling (even Newt Gingrich is seen as a “fat, frumpy, unprincipled charlatan”) and McCarthyite smears (Savage calls the Jewish Funds for Justice, a liberal philanthropic organization, “a communist-socialist group”). Savage’s sources prove flimsy; for example, he bases his statement that Michelle Obama went on a “2½-year million vacation spending spree” on an article in the Daily Mail, a British tabloid. Savage engages his fans with wild allegations and conspiracy theories, such as the claim that Obama is “determined to give our southwestern states to Mexico”: shrill fearmongering that his listeners have come to accept from a hardened ideologue. 


Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods

Kirkus Reviews –

Now that everything in New York super-lawyer Stone Barrington's life is perfect, it's time to start grooming a successor: ex-loser Herbie Fisher, now a junior associate at Woodman & Weld. Although he's willing to listen to billionaire Marshall Brennan's tale of woe about his son Dink's piddling $200,000 gambling debt, Stone's too big a player to give the problem his personal attention. So he recommends it be turned over to Herbie, who's had plenty of personal experience dealing with loan sharks. It's a good choice. In short order Herbie rouses Dink, gets him to sign a power of attorney, reads him the riot act and packs him off to rehab. Even after Dink jumps out of the van taking him to Winwood Farm and escapes, Herbie promptly tracks him down again and makes sure he's properly checked in. Meanwhile, Shelley Bach, the deranged serial killer Stone and Lt. Dino Bacchetti identified but didn't lock up in D.C. Dead (2011), has come to New York and rekindled Dino's sex life. Not to be outdone between the sheets, Stone, fresh from a quick tumble with U.S. Attorney Tiffany Baldwin ("he knew he was not going to make it through the evening without feeding her pleasure"), picks up theater director Marla Rocker at P.J. Clarke's and sets about sweeping her off her feet--a job that's made both easier and more complicated by the fact that publicist Ed Abney, who's been sending her candy and flowers, just won't take no for an answer. As Herbie's star rises at Woodman & Weld, he reflects that he's overdue for some trouble of his own, and he's absolutely right. But nothing very bad will happen to Herbie or any of the regulars, though several members of the supporting cast end up rather the worse for wear. More coherent than most of Stone's recent adventures, with actual resolutions for the major plot lines instead of the usual annoying to-be-continued signs.



Calico Joe by John Grisham

Kirkus Reviews –

Only one player in Major League Baseball history has been hit and killed by a pitch, but bean balls—balls thrown near the head—have ended careers. Grisham's (The Litigators, 2011, etc.) novel imagines the act and its consequences. It's 1973, another magic baseball season. The National League East has six teams contending, among them the traditionally hapless Chicago Cubs, soon jinxed once again when its first baseman is injured. Now the Cubs must add a minor leaguer to the roster. That's Joe Castle, a kid from Calico Rock, Ark. Calico Joe immediately begins to set rookie records, leading the Cubs to the top of the standings. Watching from New York is Paul Tracey, a baseball fan as avid as only an 11-year-old boy can be. In fact, Paul's father pitches for the New York Mets, but Warren Tracey, "accustomed to getting whatever he wanted," is a jerk. Warren is a journeyman pitcher, solid in an occasional game, kicked around from one team to another, never an All Star. Warren also abuses his family, drinks and chases women. The novel unfolds from Paul's adult perspective, with flashbacks. The crucial plot point comes in a flashback when Calico Joe, putting up "mind-boggling" numbers over 38 games, meets Warren in Shea Stadium and hits a home run. During his next at bat, as part of some unwritten "code," Warren goes head-hunting and beans the young player. Calico Joe's career is over, and he drifts home to Calico Rock, partially paralyzed, speech impeded, to work as a groundskeeper rather than earning a plaque in baseball's Hall of Fame. Decades later, long estranged from his father, Paul learns that Warren is dying of pancreatic cancer, and he decides to force his father to confront what he did to Joe Castle. Interestingly, the novel's most fully formed character is Warren, and while the narrative and settings are solid, the story drifts toward a somewhat unsatisfying, perhaps too easy, conclusion. A reconciliation story, Hallmark style.




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