Thursday, June 28, 2012

CBR IV: Book 24: Sacre Bleu - Christopher Moore

At this point, I have lost track of how many Christopher Moore novels I have read.  Either you love his novels, or he just isn't your cup of tea. I happen to love his sense of humor. I listened to Fool a couple of months ago and loved it as well.  You can read that review here:

The novel starts out with the death of van Gogh.  Did he really shoot himself in a field in Auvers, or was he murdered?  Sacre Bleu is the story of Lucian Lusard, a baker/painter in the Montmartre district of Paris in 1890.  He was raised around some of the most well-known artists of the Impressionist era.  His best friend is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and he was also a friend of Vincent van Gogh.  Lucian and Henri have noticed that a lot of their contemporaries seem to have long gaps in their memories, and an awful lot of them are dying of syphilis.  This novel is historical fiction with mystery, romance, and plenty of Christopher Moore bawdiness and humor.  The beginning is very slow, but I got hooked near the middle.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has a love of Paris or the Impressionist period.

I definitely recommend reading the print version of this book.  There are several color pictures of Impressionist paintings, and the book is printed in blue ink.  It's so pretty!

5/5 Stars

Monday, June 25, 2012

CBR IV: Book 23: Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir - Jenny Lawson

*Audiobook Review*

Apparently I have been living under a rock, because I had never heard of The Bloggess until I saw this book on a table at Barnes & Noble.  I kept seeing reviews of this book on the Cannonball Blog, and I was looking for something funny for my next Audible credit.  I listened to a sample of this book and fell in the floor laughing.  As a child, Jenny Lawson was playing chase with her sister.  She wasn't looking where she was going, and she accidentally ran inside of a deer that her dad was "cleaning" AKA gutting.  She said it was like being inside a deer sweater.  Then she vomited inside of it.  Then her dad hosed it off and served it for dinner.  You know, just your typical evening at home.  I knew this would be perfect for my next listen.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is Jenny Lawson's mostly true memoir of growing up in rural West Texas.  Her family was poor.  Her mother was the school lunch lady and her dad was a taxidermist who routinely brought home litters of baby raccoon and kept a flock of asshole turkeys for pets. Wackiness ensues.

Holy shit this book was funny!  I almost drove the car off the road a couple of times.  I made the mistake of listening to this while I was eating, and nearly choked to death.  There are also a couple of serious moments, but they are few and far between.  I have recommended this book to nearly every person I have met.  The only book I can remember being funnier than this was George Carlin's Brain Droppings.

*Audio-specific portion of review*

I feel that this may be a book that is made better by audiobook.  Jenny Lawson is probably the only person who could ever understand Jenny Lawson, so it makes sense that she narrates her memoir.  At first, her voice can be a little annoying, but as the book went on, I began to enjoy it.  I am glad that I purchased this one, because I will be subjecting it to anyone who takes a road trip with me.

5/5 Stars.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CBR IV: Book 22: Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution - Michelle Moran

*Audiobook Review*

I had always heard of the famous Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London.  Every once in a while the news does a fluff piece about some new celebrity wax figure. I guess it is similar to getting your star on the Hollywood walk of fame.  I had no idea of the history behind the museum, or who the Hell Madame Tussaud was.  But, when I saw this book, and read the subtitle, "A Novel of the French Revolution", I knew I had to read it.  I am fascinated with the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.  I read "A Tale of Two Cities" both my Sophomore and Senior years of High School (the one advantage of moving) and was hooked.  I have read several biographies of Marie Antoinette, and in 2005 finally achieved my dream and took a vacation to Paris.  One of the highlights of my trip was standing in the Place de la Concorde and looking at the plaque where the guillotine ended the French monarchy.

Madame Tussaud was born Marie Grosholtz, and at the start of the story is living with her Mother and her mother's boyfriend, Curtius,  in Paris.  Curtius owned the Salon de Cire, a well-known wax museum, and Marie has learned the art of wax molding from him.  Commoners and the nobility came to their Salon to see wax figures of current political figures, royalty, and miscreants like the Marquis de Sade.  They continuously updated the figures to reflect the times. They were almost the TMZ of pre-revolutionary Paris.  Marie is the business head of the family and she has been begging Rose Bertand, the Queen's dressmaker, to get Queen Marie Antoinette to visit the exhibition.  Marie Grosholtz is hoping that if the Queen approves of her own likeness, then the commoners will be beating down the door to visit the Salon de Cire.  Apparently she didn't notice that the Queen wasn't really very popular anymore.  Also, she must not have been paying attention to the revolutionary talk of men like Robespierre and Marat, even though her family regularly dined with them.

Eventually, Marie receives an invitation from Princess Elisabeth, the King's sister, to come to the Royal Palace of Versailles and tutor the Princess in the art of wax sculpting.  This put Marie in an awkward situation. Some evenings she would dine with the revolutionaries and some evenings she would spend at masqued balls at Versailles.

French Revolution ensues.  Lots of people lose their heads.

This book was obviously well researched.  The mark of a good audiobook is when I find myself going out of my way to listen to it.  I couldn't stop listening to this one.  I also learned quite a bit about the French Revolution.  I didn't know that every evening all of the candles in Versailles were given to certain members of the nobility who got to sell them on the black market and keep the enormous profits.  Also, Marie Antoinette was required to wear completely new clothes every day, and the old ones were given to certain members of the nobility.  I read that Paris Hilton only wears an outfit once as well.

This was great historical fiction, and I am looking forward to reading some of Michelle Moran's other novels, especially her upcoming novel about Napoleon.

5/5 Stars.