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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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21 11, 2012

Review: Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

By | November 21st, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , |2 Comments


Reviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King is not the kind of book I’m used to reading. Outside of my art history and general history classes in college, I’ve shied away from non-fiction since I’ve graduated. However, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a well-written piece on one of my favorite artists. King’s analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s life, techniques, and motivations had me missing the joy of learning something new.

King goes into great detail concerning da Vinci’s life. I learned about da Vinci’s different commisions leading up to the Last Supper, his background as an artist, and his general outlook on life. But King didn’t stop there. He added in pleasant tidbits about the different cities da Vinci worked in, what was going on politically at the time, and

7 10, 2012

Review: Wild Company by Mel and Patricia Ziegler

By | October 7th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Business & Investing, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , |5 Comments


Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Stop and think for a minute about how many items you use without knowing where they actually came from. Now stop and think of all of the brands you are very comfortable with. Think of brands that have become mainstream and household names. Do you know where or how those brands originated? Chances are you don’t. I did not know how Banana Republic began and Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic by Mel and Patricia Ziegler told me in a lively, engaging way that will make me look at the brand in a new way forever now. In their charming book, they discuss how they went from broke to discovering an accidental dream, to helping run the major corporation/brand we know today. The path was not always easy for the Zieglers and they not only

11 09, 2012

Review: Georges Braque: A Life by Alex Danchev

By | September 11th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Nonfiction|Tags: |2 Comments


Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Georges Braque was one of my first artistic crushes. Braque was a prolific artist and a major contributing influence to artistic movements through the twentieth century. It wasn’t the artist, but rather his work that captivated me. It began with Braque’s painting Maisons a l’Estaque (1908). I was riveted by this geometric landscape. It was quiet, yet vibrant all at once. In Georges Braque: A Life, Alex Danchev shows that Braque’s foundation is exhibited within his paintings. Braque was an artist who believed the art should speak and the artist should remain silent. His was a contemplative life in comparison to his exuberant friend and fellow Cubist, Pablo Picasso.

Alex Danchev begins the biography with the introduction of three key events in Braque’s life: birth, death, and death. Danchev covers Braque’s life in detail. Braque was raised

24 08, 2012

Review: Great Works by Tom Lubbock

By | August 24th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Coffee Table Books, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction, Photography|Tags: |2 Comments


Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Great Works: 50 Paintings Explored by Tom Lubbock is an illuminating collection of essays about specific pieces of art. Tom Lubbock brings creative insights into the various works of art, comparing artists, movements, history and contemporary views to develop a unique observation regarding a particular work. At times, Lubbock’s essay doesn’t even seem related to the associated painting. In his essay about Giovanni Francesco Caroto’s Portrait of a Young Boy Holding a Child’s Drawing (c.1515), Lubbock does not focus on the portrait but rather the child’s drawing held by the boy in the painting. Lubbock discusses the ideas of child’s art through history, how it is an unlearned skill from early on that every person loses as we turn “into operating and coordinated” people.

Tom Lubbock’s choice of paintings in Great Works is as interesting as his insights.

20 08, 2012

Review: Walk into Prehistory by Bill Bevan

By | August 20th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Nonfiction, Photography|Tags: , |4 Comments


Reviewed by Krista Castner

What a sumptuous book Walk into Prehistory by Bill Bevan turned out to be! It’s not just another pretty coffee table book that relies more on pretty pictures than on providing in-depth information. Bill Bevan is an archeologist and photographer who has worked extensively at Stonehenge and other ancient sites in Britain. In this book he set out to help us all discover more about forty of the greatest ancient sites of Britain and Ireland. He elegantly and eloquently accomplishes his goal.

The book is beautifully photographed with Bevan’s own photos. Many of them feature the golden light found at dawn or dusk hilghlighting green wind-swept vistas containing ancient monoliths. The book tells in words and pictures, the unique stories of many of the most ancient sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Bevan states in the book’s

27 06, 2012

Review: The Receptionist by Janet Groth

By | June 27th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Historical, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , |4 Comments


Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

The Receptionist is the story of a woman who started working at The New Yorker in 1957. She began her career there and assumed she would work her way up to being one of the magazine’s premier writers – but this never happened. This true to life account is one of a failed mission to succeed in the patriarchal society of a popular literary magazine. After 27 years, Janet Groth was in the same place, and the reader’s heart will break reading about her struggles to become more than what she was at the organization. She was privileged to meet many famous poets and playwrights of the time, but she never achieved the same fame herself, which was a pity because she was and is very bright.

For over two decades,

23 05, 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

By | May 23rd, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , |46 Comments


Please join Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy below.

Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“One afternoon in 1772 she noticed how a piece of colored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium.” After making that vital imaginative connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-Acto blade (she’d have called it a scalpel) or a pair of filigree-handled scissors — the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate that you could almost imagine it picking up a scent. With the instrument alive in her still rather smooth-skinned hand, she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper. The she snipped out another, and another,

4 05, 2012

Review: How to Listen to Great Music by Robert Greenberg

By | May 4th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Nonfiction, Reference|Tags: , , |2 Comments


Reviewed by Caitlin Busch

Before beginning this book, the reader should know it is part of a continuing education series, perfect for the avid and/or adult student or hobbyist musician. But no one should assume it’s a dry old textbook! I found it to be quite the opposite: How to Listen to Great Music reminded me of my university days. While reading, I re-experienced, with sweet nostalgia, “listening” to an engaging lecture by beloved professor on a favorite subject. Now, I didn’t actually study music at university, but I have a background in piano, violin and orchestra which may make me more prone to enjoying this text than those with non-musical backgrounds – or at least those who aren’t interested in composed (a.k.a. “classical”) music.

Even with my musical background, How to Listen to Great Music is a bit of a beast,

26 04, 2012

Review: Rossetti: Painter and Poet by J.B. Bullen

By | April 26th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Entertainment, Nonfiction, Photography|Tags: , |3 Comments


Reviewed by F. Scott

Rossetti: Painter and Poet by J. B. Bullen is an overview of the life and works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a nineteenth-century English painter, poet, and translator. The large-book format lends itself well to all three of its main elements: Bullen’s readable prose, prints of artwork by Rossetti and others, and excerpts of poetry, mostly by Rossetti himself.

Bullen takes us through the whole of the artist’s life in the exciting time of artistic and intellectual change that was mid-Victorian England. Rossetti was the son of the ex-patriot Italian Gabriele Rossetti and Frances Polidori, half-Italian herself, of a now London-based family. Born the first son in 1828, he is also brother to Christina, a poet in her own right.

Rossetti was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), which true to its name sought inspiration from the

28 03, 2012

Review: Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

By | March 28th, 2012|Categories: Arts & Literature, Entertainment, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |3 Comments


Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher begins with a rambling, seemingly unrelated series of thoughts. With the progression of her story, though, Fisher delves into her personal battles with self-medication, depression, being bi-polar, weight problems, personal loss, and the challenge of once being Princess Leia (thirty years after the role ended). Fisher’s stories are at once vivid, engaging, sometimes charming and a few times shocking. Fisher reflects upon her past and present with dry humor, at times laugh out loud funny, and other times pensive.

Fisher’s writing style is straightforward. Her digressions, though, are too numerous to count, which makes me wonder whether this entire book was produced during a blitz of mania. However, Fisher speaks candidly about her continuing fight to remain sober, her battle with depression and her choice to battle the debilitating mental condition through ECT (electroconvulsive