Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa,
by R.A. Scotti
Even if you're not an art expert, you'll find Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa (Knopf, 2009) interesting and suspenseful. Based on a true story, "Vanished Smile" recounts the theft of DaVinci's Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris on August 21, 1911. Since the museum was closed on Mondays, it took museum security 24 hours to realize it was missing. It was not uncommon for photographers to remove the paintings from their hangings and take them to a back room for shooting. There had also been some pranks which involved moving paintings to the wrong location in the museum. (Security back then was pretty lax.) So treasured was the Mona Lisa that some patrons even brought flowers and love letters, and laid them at her feet. The French police tried to keep the theft quiet. It was valued at $112.5 million, and was one of the most sought after works of art. Word finally leaked out, and authorities in France and America checked people coming in and out of the two countries, to no avail. Interestingly, Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, two artists trying to promote Cubism, were among the suspects. Many people tried to pass off reproductions of the original to collect a reward, but experts were able to identify the fakes. After two years, an Italian , Vincenzo Peruggia, turned up with the original painting. He wanted a monetary reward and credit for returning the national treasure, but instead he was tried and sent to prison for a year. Scotti provides some background history about the painting, and even several other theories about its theft. There has never been an adequate explanation as to what really happened. This book is very entertaining and well worth reading. I have no doubt it will become a best seller.
May 2009 Archives
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa,
by R.A. Scotti
Seven Days in the Art World,
by Sarah Thornton
This book is a candid portrait of the art world at its most robust just before the recession hit. Insider Sarah Thornton asks the kind of questions most of us have wanted to but wouldn't dare for fear of appearing unsophisticated. The writing is discerning and engaging if no longer as relevant.
by Dave Cullen
Journalist Dave Cullen has been involved with reporting the story of the shootings at Columbine High School since it happened and has spent the last ten years investigating the long hard facts of this tragic event. The book dispels myths created by the media and is a chilling and absorbing study of the minds of the killers.
Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's,
by Paul Facella
Ever wonder why McDonald's remains so popular and prosperous despite economic hard times? Former CEO Paul Facella explains the phenomena in Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's (McGraw-Hill, 2009). Facella started at the bottom as a griller and worked his way up to a Regional Vice President. During his thirty-four year career, he has observed the corporation's management practices and work culture first hand. He cites seven different principles that drive business success. These include: honesty and integrity; relationships; standards; leading by example; courage; communications; and recognition. In other words, it's all in the way McDonald's treats its employees. Facella describes situations in the workplace to illustrate each point. It's a quick, easy and interesting read. Everyone who is, or aspires to be, a manager should read this book.
Gettysburg The Graphic Novel,
by CM Butzer
Discover the Battle of Gettysburg in graphic novel form. With illustrations done in Civil War blue and grey and black, the battle is brought to life. The Gettysburg Address featuring Abraham Lincoln is a great feature bringing the words of the speech alive with pictures of the struggles in US history.
Wink- The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed,
by JC Phillipps
It was the happiest day of Wink's life when he started the Summer Moon School for Young Ninjas. Wink could tumble and climb and fight like the Ninjas...but he just could not be silent. Is there anywhere the spirited Wink could fit in? A fantastic debut by Connecticut author JC Phillipps about a boy discovering where his talents are appreciated. Beautiful, bright paper cut illustrations add to this humorous and fun picture book that preschool to early elementary grade readers will love.
The Gate of Days-The Book of Time II,
by Guillaume Prevost
Sequel to The Book of Time. Sam continues to unlock the clues of a time travelling statue and races through history to rescue his father, who is being held prisoner by Prince Vlad the Impaler. As Sam and his cousin Lily seek to understand time travel and the coins scattered through time that controls the statues, they discover others are trying to destroy the gates. With fast paced action, readers will travel to prehistoric time, to ancient Greece, to Pompeii, to 1930's Chicago and to Dracula's Castle. Fans of Percy Jackson, The Dark is Rising, and readers looking for action and adventure will enjoy this series. Age 10 and up.
My Life in Pink and Green,
by Lisa Greenwald
How can a 12-year old possibly help save her family's Old Mill Pharmacy from going out of business? Lucy Desberg has inherited her activist ways from her mom, her work ethic from her grandmother and her flair for cosmetics from all those years stocking shelves at the pharmacy and practicing makeup on her older sister. After helping a popular teen during a "hair emergency", all the teens in town turn to Lucy for their makeup needs. Lucy's family doesn't think this little side business can turn the pharmacy around and makes plans to shut down. But Lucy has other, bigger ideas that just might save the pharmacy. A fun read about how one person can make a difference. Lucy's confident personality, her friendships, plus the focus on environmentally friendly businesses will appeal to girls ages 10 and up.
Hedge Fund Wives,
by Tatiana Boncompagni
Hedge Fund Wives is a behind the scenes look at the elite life of a hedge fund wife, and the sacrifices they must make in order to get and hold on to the gold ring. When Marcy Emerson's husband John is recruited to New York City as a hedge fund manager, their perfect life together begins to unravel. Marcy feels like a fish out of water when she is pulled into a world of over-the-top baby showers, glamorous beauty treatments and decadent shopping sprees. A closer look at this opulent lifestyle shows how miserable some of the wives really are, and what lengths they would go through to keep their positions in the country club hierarchy. Once John dumps Marcy for a younger, blonder wife, Marcy must learn how to become independent and survive on her own. She also finds out who her true friends are. This was a very entertaining read filled with power, secrets, scandals and revenge!
by Roberto Bolano
The last novel written by Roberto Bolano (The Savage Detectives) before his death in 2004, 2666 (recommended to me by a very astute colleague) is arguably the most ambitious, moving and compelling novel I've read since James Joyce's Ulysses. Like Joyce's work, 2666 is rife with underlying themes and hidden symbolism. (One critic has already suggested that the title, which is never referred to or mentioned in the book, is a reference to the biblical exodus from Egypt, which took place 2,666 years after the Creation, and is seen as a period of spiritual redemption.) 2666 is divided into five "books", titled "parts". Throughout the novel, there is a sense of mounting violence and terror, with the recurrent subplot of a series of murders of young women in the fictional Mexican town of Santa Teresa (possibly the real-life Ciudad Juarez), always present in the background (and coming to a head in Book Four). Here are brief summaries of the five books: The Part About The Critics focuses on four literary critics searching for the reclusive German novelist Benno von Archimboldi, which leads them to Santa Teresa. Along the way, the Critics begin to discover some troubling facts about themselves and each other. The Part About Amalfitano details the emotional and mental decline of a professor at the University of Santa Teresa (whom the Critics met in the previous book) and his concern over his daughter during the murder spree. The Part About Fate concerns an American journalist (nicknamed "Oscar Fate") sent to cover a boxing match who winds up getting involved in the murders and meeting Amalfitano's daughter. The Part About The Crimes is the most heartbreaking and, despite the flat, journalistic prose (which recounts an amazingly large number of murders in an omniscient point-of-view), emotionally stirring section of the novel. The reader feels an increasing sense of despair and hopelessness as we follow the detectives (and assorted interested parties) investigating the seemingly never-ending series of murders The Part About Archimboldi returns to the subplot of the first book, here recounting the life and experiences of Hans Reiter, a Prussian born in 1920, and his connection to both Archimboldi and the murders. In this final section, a tone of redemption begins to manifest itself, but just barely. To say anymore about Bolano's novel would ruin the experience that awaits the reader. 2666 is a stunning and powerful work that, despite a seemingly downbeat tone, ultimately rewards the reader with one of the richest literary experiences they'll ever have.
The Ghost's Grave,
by Peg Kehret
12 year-old Josh was sure the summer with his elderly, eccentric aunt would be one big bore. Then things start to get really spooky. He meets Willie, the ghost of a coal miner, who asks Josh to dig up his leg and rebury it with the rest of him. But digging in the old cemetery unearths more than just bones.