Pawnography! “License to Pawn” by Rick Harrison

Quite often my sweet husband takes a nosedive into the unknown and takes up with a new adventure/obsession with something “strange.” I found this serendipitous oddity a very attractive characteristic when we first met (I know…red flag??), and frankly, it’s had its ups and downs on my last nerve over the years. All in all; however, there’s never a dull moment with Anthony if you just sit back and brace yourself.

The show is mind-boggling. As I sit in my little apple green recliner writing reviews while DH watches “his” shows, I’m wont to look up once in a while to see what’s going on.

Against my better judgement, sometimes I’m captured by the absurdities of men: Men in the greater outdoors hunting with lots of equipment (guns, bows & steel tipped arrows, whistles, bright florescent suits, misshapen, weird hats & assorted other “gear”), excavating big mountains with equipment they don’t know how to maneuver & in icy weather, clambering about and becoming lost without food in crumbling old caves with their teen aged daughters, panning for gold in muddy streams and gleefully coming up with minute particles which value is less than the cost of the pan, or pulling up by hand man-eating fish in mosquito infested jungles… Recently, I’ve been pulled in by pawn shops on the Tube! Ugh! This wars against every bone in my WASPish, DAR body, and would disgrace my family.  It’s really tantamount to watching a strip show!

Primary among such shows is Rick Harrison’s straight from Las Vegas “Pawn Stars.” Pawn Stars is a fabulous program! I love it, and it’s become my latest dirty little secret…now out in the open! We’ve agreed it’s the only pawn show we’ll watch.

Rick is an intelligent, witty and well-informed guy who actually makes wise choices about some seriously fabulous items brought to his shop. The experts Rick brings in to evaluate some of the items are so learned they add a dimension of knowledge and intelligence that rivals experts I’ve seen and heard from auction houses and museums in Boston. A couple of them are experienced in museum collections and authentic documents of early America and England…so interesting to hear and watch. I have learned a good deal from Rick, his dad and these experts.

One of the most fetching (did I use that word?) and hilarious things about the show is Chumly, Rick’s doofus nephew. Chum is a complete novice at pawn, and life, it seems. He has no idea what’s “good” and what’s “fake,” what are stolen goods, what’s trash and what’s treasure. He is a guy whose life is chockful of accidents and mishaps; i.e., nearly everything he touches falls apart, breaks down, or costs the shop money. In fact, Chum nearly costs his grandad more money than the shop brings in on some days! In the latest episode, Chumly test flies a valuable, antique kite and snags it on a highwire electrical tower…you flew it–you can’t get it down–you bought it! And, poor Chum is always shocked by these manifistations of Murphy’s Law in his life.

Chumly is the fall guy for the show, and makes it all worthwhile to watch…just for the hilarity of it. Rick’s dad is also sooo funny as he glumly and stoically mumbles his way through all the trials and troubles of the shop and Chum. And, Big Hoss, Rick’s son, who is assigned to watch over and teach Chum, as well as to be the Ass’t Mgr., lumbers along making a couple of wise choices on the way, but mostly watching Chumly mess up and telling on him. Honestly, Chum is the best comedic character on tv.

All this to give you some kind of intro. into Rick Harrison’s new book “License To Pawn” which I wholeheartedly recommend for your sweethearts and you when you want a different ride on the wild side.

“The Last Train from Paris” ~ Love, Art and the Resistance ~ WWII

The Last Train from Paris”~Love, Art and Parisian Patriots in WWII

A novel about Paris, not just the beautiful “City of the Lights,” but a city captured and terrorized in the grip of a hostile German army in WWII, this is a book I couldn’t help dying to read. I love Paris above all European cities, and my heart just stops at the thought of anyone destroying a single piece of its architecture or fine arts.

So, I could hardly wait to tell you that this book will leave you breathless and pensive. From the very first paragraphs you will be taken in to the epic story of lovers and liars, artists and anti-heros…

Stacy Cohen paints with a gentle hand and delft stokes the story of an occupied Paris that is so confined and crippled that you feel the constraints of it as you read. We come to know and love favored contemporary artists Miro and the grumpy but irrepressible Matisse, who take under wing the talented but fledgling young artist, Jean Luc Beauchamp.

Jean Luc becomes the hero of this story as we follow his passions of art, true love for a beautiful Russian ballerina with a secret, and love of Paris…all elements of the human story and the battle of good vs. evil. Ms Cohen also provides us a German Oberst officer villian to heat up the struggles. He’s interesting, darkly intriguing and easy to hate.

A novel that will set you adrift into another time, “The Last Train for Paris,” will catch you up in a story that will rush over your heart and bring you to tears. It is a story that will create a righteous indignation about the savaging of the arts, and the art thefts of WWII. And, it is a novel that will remain with you should you visit Paris or when you think of its beauty and many treasures.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself taking the last train from Paris…but always going toward Paris. It is the most beautiful and mysterious of European cities. Just like cities all over the world in these times and in the past, it is worthy of our concerns and protection.

I’m grateful to Ms Cohen for reminding me of that. It took many brave hearts in the Resistance to liberate Paris and France from a hostile enemy. Theirs is a story that is beautifully rendered in “The Last Train from Paris.”

Highly recommended and timely.

****
Since Ms Cohen is a most admirable woman in every respect,  I wanted to add this very interesting information about her for you:
 
“Stacy Cohen, author, philanthropist, and life-style consultant continues to bring her passion for love and life to everything she does.  With her first novel, she creates a distinct voice that combines her passions for art, history, and the undying power of love….
In the world of international philanthropy, she has been a tireless advocate of children, including her support of Camp Okizu, the largest camp in Northern California for children and their families affected by cancer.  She has raised hundreds of thousands for children’s hospitals and funded a special performance by the Russian National Orchestra in support of Russian orphans, bringing her love for children and her passion for the arts full circle.”
 
Your Bookish Dame/Deb

“Swallow” A Novel by Tanya Plank

Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She’s the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, “now what do I do to one-up everyone” generation. She “gets it” and she’s telling!! LOL

I thought her author’s voice–her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one…or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations.

Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie’s fiance’s Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie’s own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as “when you’re young,” as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all–and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses….which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it’s caused Sophie to choke, hasn’t it?

It’s caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction…a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender’s Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel.

Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie’s secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify…and the fiance’ who can’t believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!…all make for a fun ride!!

I loved Tanya Plank’s book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons)

This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vs the “real” people. It’s a look into the workings of the public defender’s life and the big city lawyer’s mindset. It’s a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young “brave ones” who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren’t in their favor.
This is a book that’s easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That’s how good Tanya Plank is at writing!

You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again, and you’re going to be listening and loving her!! Just like I do.

Books I’m Anxious To Read Before 2011

I simply cannot believe we’re fast approaching a new year and I’m way behind in all the books I wanted to read this year!!   Now I have to make a list of those I want to finish before January 1st, 2011:

1)   The Iron Duke  by Maljean Brook

2)   The Widower’s Tale     by    Julia Glass

3)   Mothers & Other Liars   by   Amy Bourret

4)   Dark Origins ~ Level 26      by   Anthony E. Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski  (NEW! Access digital cyber-bridge videos..immersive storytelling experience)

5)  Look Again      by   Lisa Scottoline

6)   Adam and Eve        by   Naslan

7)   The Windup Girl      by   Paol Bacigalupi     (a steampunk novel….Hugo & Nebula prize winner for 2010)

8)   33 AD by David McAfee

  *I’ve begun this great book and will soon be writing my review on it.  It’s a fantastic Vampire novel with a bizzare twist that’s not to be missed!  David was kind enough to send a copy to me with a personal note.   I’ve been slightly afraid to read this book, though…        You’ll see why when you search for it!!!

See  www.amazon.com    for link to these books above……

There are several more that I’ve started and need to finish quickly, but the above are the ones I simply have to read before it’s too late! 

Let me know what’s on your “Before the New Year List.”     I’ll be busy making my “Books I Have to Read This Winter List!”

Your Very Bookish Dame

Audiobooks Reviewed

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read/listen for a couple of very busy days making my jewelry for an up-coming show.  I adored the story of Alice and Mr. Dodgson.  It was a bit creepy in the pediphile-ish way that had to be addressed, and yet, there was the beautiful outcome of our beloved book, “Alice in Wonderland,” to compensate us for the hint of childlove that he displayed.  I have to say that the author handled the situation with great taste and respect in that she only touched on the subject and gave us to think of it as a mutual “infatuation” as if these two were magnets drawn to each other from a source unknown and unfamiliar to both of them.   

Alice’s story is absorbing as it moves from the little girl to the vamp, to the college blooming genius and lover of “kings and princes” of a sort, to the ends of her days.   I was simply entralled and loved this book.  I would read it in full hardback, if  I hadn’t listened to it!     Highly recommended, not just to “…Wonderland,” fans.  It’s much more than a book about a book.

Not being one to waste your time on books that are horrendous, I want to recommend this one to you without reservation.  This is a young author who’s lived a lifetime of sadness and triumph.  She shares her memoir without apology or attempt at sympathies.    What an amazing child who’s grown into a young woman. 

  Her story about the life of a neglected child, taken up by the “system,” kept from her mother and placed from one foster home to another before she is finally adopted is both chilling and educational.   I cringed, I cried, I laughed and I was so angry I could have punched someone in the face!!!     Don’t read this unless you want to really know how it FEELS to be a victim of our Child Protective Services.     Gladly,  Ashley finds an adoptive family in the end and comes out of the whole thing fighting for her rights and the rights of the other children she knew and loved.     This is a memorable and important book which all of my friends should read.  It’s also a good audiobook to listen to.

It has been a very long time since I’ve given V. I. Warshawski a try in one of my favorite genre.    Last time I read a Sara Paretsky novel about V. I., it left me wanting more.    Not this time!     I loved this book.   The narrator was great, which made the book wonderful as a great escape novel.   Covering everything from a homeless mother and children, to women who serve such homeless victims, to abused children of the wealthy and powerful, to international scams and intrigue….this was a much better written novel than I experienced in the past.    Now, I have to read a few of the newer V. I.’s to catch up!!!

   The Bookish Dame does not tolerate bad narrators; however, I have to say.  I wanted to love this “Three Cups of Tea,” but found the narrator grinding on my last nerve….so had to forego it before it completely turned me off reading the book!   I have it in paperback and will have to go there for the good read.  Many friends have recommended it, so I know it must be better than the narrator was letting on….with his very stuffy rendering.  Ahhhummmm.

I’ve downloaded some new audiobooks for this coming week as I work on my jewelry:

“Room,”  by Emma Donogough

“Adam and Eve,”  by Sener Jeta Naslund

“Breaking Dawn,” by Stephanie Meyers.     :]

And, that’s a good start for the week since I have a stackful of books to finish reading before my online library deadline, as well.

Happy reading and listening, dear friends and readers.  Please leave me a comment with your own blog addresses so I can visit you, as well.   I’m looking for good blogs about books and I know you have them!!

Yours,     The Bookish Dame

Good Read: The Second Virgin Birth

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Second Virgin Birth” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51twYDfrn7L._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”The” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth”>The”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2899982.The_Second_Virgin_Birth”>The Second Virgin Birth</a> by <a href=”Tommy” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1255912.Tommy_Taylor”>Tommy”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1255912.Tommy_Taylor”>Tommy Taylor</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”4″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122776274″>4″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122776274″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />

This book tells a fantastic, very fast-paced story of the what-ifs of the cloning of Jesus Christ.  I’ll say this: I simply could not put it down for the few minutes it would have taken me to go get a cup of coffee at 5AM, after having stayed up all night reading it!!

The story is compelling and so well-conveyed that it’s nearly believeable. Descriptions of forensic DNA testing, cloning and the fortress-like business establishment of one of the primary characters show close research.

At this point, I cannot give it a 5 star rating only because there are so many editorial glitches. But, this, I believe is the result of it being a first time novel, and will be missing in its sequel which is due out next year.

I’m only halfway through this book…I love the characters…and I want to know what happens to them. 

Get this book.  You will not be sorry you did.  It will rank along with the best of Dan Brown’s works.  I highly recommend it!!

<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/268108-deborah”>View all my reviews</a>

Update:   October 18, 2010        I’m still giving this very inventive, imaginative book a 4 star rating.   While the premise and much of the storyline was compelling, I found the grammar and misspellings distracting.  However, I have to quantify that comment by saying that I have a double major in Fine Arts and English Lit., so it may just be me!!!  Certainly, it’s a story and a book that moves along so fast that these minor things do not take much away from it.  :]    

I wasn’t happy with the Kindle version.  Sometimes Kindle just doesn’t get its timing right in the separation of chapters and that’s annoying to me.  I would purchase it as a paperback from one of the discount houses that Amazon lists if I had it to do over again.

All in all, I continue to recommend this book to my friends and followers with slight reservations as mentioned above.   It’s a story that Tommy will be continuing in sequel, and which I know will have the improvements that were lacking in this first effort!    I’m looking forward to hearing more from him!!

Your Bookish Dame