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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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22 01, 2017

Review: The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein

By | January 22nd, 2017|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Rating:

pen and the brush book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein is full of surprises. Apparently, – and unbeknownst to me – nineteenth-century French novelists were best buds with the painters of their era. The novelists turned out to be the front line critics of those famous painters–and those edgy painters were a big influence on the famous novelists of their time as well.

This story is more of an outline of the painters and novelists of the nineteenth century, and offers a snapshot into their lives and influences.

22 12, 2016

Review: Die Young With Me by Rob Rufus

By | December 22nd, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Disorders & Diseases, Health, Mind, & Body, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

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die young with me book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

I’m not the one to read memoirs, especially not ones with heavy topics like cancer, but Rob Rufus’ Die Young With Me turned out to be the perfect exception to my rule. Mixed with teen angst and underground punk culture, this book enticed me until the end.

Rob and Nat Rufus live in a typical little town in West Virginia where punk is nothing but noise. It’s not until the twins visit a relative that they find out how punk truly can be a way of life. After that, the brothers and a few friends start a band and never look back. When Rob, young, angry, and full of potential, is diagnosed with cancer, the dreams the Rob had fought so hard to achieve turn into a life or death battle.

8 12, 2016

Review: Christmas Quiet by Maisie Sparks and Lauren Younis

By | December 8th, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Children's Books, Coloring Books, Entertainment, Nonfiction, Religion & Spirituality|Tags: , , |7 Comments

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christmas quiet book coverReviewed by Charity Lyman

For many people, reading books tends to relieve stress. I am one of those who will devour a novel because it takes my mind off things going on in my world around me. But for others, they take the route of actually being able to scribble in their books. I know, not what I would do, but when you have a book as pretty as this one? Oh, and while it has devotions and text, it is, also, a coloring book!

This strikingly beautiful adult coloring book is titled, Christmas Quiet. Contained within is a 25 day devotional, along with coloring pages. The authors take a piece of Scripture and then writes up a small word of encouragement or inspiration. This is leading up to Christmas so all the little pieces deal with the advent.

27 10, 2016

Review: Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford

By | October 27th, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

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magical jungle book coverReviewed by Holly Madison

As an artist, I have always been drawn to coloring books, especially those geared more towards adults than children. Magical Jungle is exactly that type of book. It has drawings simple enough for a child, but some more complex which would appeal more to adults. It is the perfect type of book to give as a gift to anyone who is creative or wants to just find something to do to fill their day. Adult, teenager, child… it doesn’t matter. Everyone will love this book.

The author has little extras hidden inside the book, such as specific animals that you have to find which I thought was really charming.

23 09, 2016

Review: Moscow Nights by Nigel Cliff

By | September 23rd, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

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moscow nights book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Let’s mash-up Once Upon a Time from the fairy tales of yore, and the iconic TV show of the mid-50s You are There hosted by the avuncular Walter Cronkite, and see what happens. One answer, and possibly the best one would be Moscow Nights by the excellent and elegant writer, Nigel Cliff. He tells the story of Van Cliburn, who was for a while, quite easily the most recognized face in the world! But not just the surface view – no, he really digs deep for a terrific and very comprehensive look at one of the wonders of the 20th Century!

Cliburn was born in July, 1934, and was inspired as a youngster by a photograph of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – as who wouldn’t be, especially if said child had already been exposed to the music of Russian’s many famous Romantic-era composers? An only child, Van – real name: Harvey Lavan –  was always simply known as Van, thanks to his mother Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn. As a piano teacher in Shreveport, Louisiana, she had once been part of the welcoming committee for an appearance there of the Russian master – Sergei Rachmaninoff.

7 07, 2016

Review: I Have a Voice by Tyler Williams

By | July 7th, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Health, Mind, & Body, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Self-Help|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

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i have a voice book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Some people are very fortunate – they discover what it is they want to do fairly early on in life and find a straight path to that goal. Others of us are not so certain that we’re headed in the right direction. Or we may think we are, but then a newly-discovered pathway leads us in a different direction. Maybe it’s only a temporary detour, but still–we’ve lost our way in the meantime.

After trying several different career paths without the satisfaction that he’d hoped to find, twenty-something Tyler Williams changed his direction. He planned on the next step, and through the good fortune that we all hope for, plus the discipline that we all have (if we care to use it) he made important changes to his life plan.

5 07, 2016

Review: Curtain Up by Julius Green

By | July 5th, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |1 Comment

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curtain up book coverReviewed by Charity Lyman

Agatha Christie has always been one of my favorite authors. She was, and probably still is, known as the queen of suspense and mystery. But what I didn’t know is that she was also a playwright, authoring many plays that in time, made her the most successful female dramatist. I have read plenty of her novels, with over 50 of them on my shelves, but reading this big book, Curtain Up, made me sit back and realize just how talented Agatha Christie really was.

Curtain Up explores the life of Agatha Christie in the theatre. Many people know her for the well written tales of suspense and mystery, but in these pages, we see another side to this multi-faceted and very gifted lady. It isn’t really a biography, but rather a comprehensive study of how much she contributed to the theatre world.

7 05, 2015

Review: Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell

By | May 7th, 2015|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: |2 Comments

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power seething book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell is a fresh look at the life of Vincent van Gogh and the man as the artist. Bell creates a picture of Van Gogh as a child and a wayward young man stumbling through life before he gave in to his artistic passion. Bell draws upon historical accounts, medical reports, and Vincent van Gogh’s artworks and numerous letters to fill in the details of Van Gogh’s life and thoughts. Yet, at no point is Bell trying to explain Van Gogh’s actions or ideas. As Bell wrote, “to ask “why the ear” is to seek logic for what’s grimly illogical” (p113).

As an artist himself, Julian Bell has a knack for capturing the artistic moment. At these times, Bell’s prose comes alive describing both Van Gogh the man and Van

2 10, 2013

Review: My Life by Isadora Duncan

By | October 2nd, 2013|Categories: Arts & Literature, Entertainment, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , |3 Comments

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1295873-gfReviewed by Jax Kepple

Isadora Duncan, founder of modern dance, wrote her autobiography a few months before she tragically died in a freak, only-in-the-1920s car accident. But, after reading My Life, one could say she really died after she lost three children within a few years of each other. Heartbreaking yet frank, My Life is an enthralling read that shines a light on a desolate star, who could not achieve happiness but has is a lasting vestige of a time when creative powers were bursting from a chaste Victorian society.

Duncan’s writing style borders on “bragging” a lot, and the forward by Joan Acocella tells a lot of Duncan’t secrets. She mentions that Duncan is lying about a few memories, and also how certain things could not have happened. I almost wished I had read the introduction after reading the book, because

28 11, 2012

Review: What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz

By | November 28th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Nonfiction|4 Comments

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Reviewed by Shannon Trenton

I always enjoy a trip to the art museum. I can pick out Monet and Picasso without walking up to the little information card next to each piece; beyond that, I can tell you how a piece makes me feel but not who painted it, or why. I understand color, subject, and perspective on only the most basic levels.

Will Gompertz wrote What Are You Looking At? for people like me.

Rather than a dusty art history textbook or an even drier lecture on Kandinsky’s “Blue Rider” period (which I only knew about before from watching Double Jeopardy), Gompertz showcases the world of modern art as a narrative spanning the 150 years since Monet, Manet, Pissarro and their fellow Impressionists first challenged the status quo of the French art scene. He reintroduces each progressive school of artists and highlights