June 28, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 61-65

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

61/100:

62/100:

63/100:

64/100:

65/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

It's rather fun going through free magazines and seeing what grabs my attention.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 27, 2016

Recent Reads

81. Girl in Dior
Winner of: YALSA 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.

You only have to look at the cover to know that the art is beautiful. It is so lovely that I flipped through this graphic novel several times. Given the lovely art the lackluster story is doubly disappointing. It reads like a boring memoir or biography of a woman whose life intersects with Christian Dior (yes, that Dior), but then at the end you read that this woman, the main character in this story, is a figment of the author's imagination, and was inserted into Dior's life to illustrate what? I'm not sure. The text is uninspired and without passion, and given that we are immersed in the fashion world, among models, and a creative genius, it just does not make any sense that it is so. Still, I would recommend that fashionistas and artists pick up a copy from the library so you an feast your eyes on the wonderful art in this one. Rating: 2 stars.

82. Coffin Hill Vol. 2: Dark Endeavors
This is the second volume in the Coffin Hill graphic novel series, and the art continues to be good, the story interesting, and I really like the local (Boston area) setting. However, there are even more timelines and flashbacks in this volume, and it is sometimes hard to keep it all straight, and I for one have no idea what that ending was all about. Still, I liked it enough that I'll continue with the series.

If you are in the mood for a paranormal horror (is there any other kind?) story with multiple timelines, give this one a try. Rating: 3 stars.

83. A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
The premise of this novel is wonderful and I was really looking forward to it, so I'm disappointed that I did not love it as much as I expected to.

In this fantasy novel, there exists four versions of London: Grey, Red, White and Black. Each one is different in a myriad of ways, the most important being how magic is regarded by the locals. In earlier times moving back and forth between the Londons was done with ease, but in the current time, there are walls between them that are impassable for all but Antari, and there are only two of those left. Kell, the lead protagonist, is one such Antari, and he calls Red London home. Meanwhile in Grey London there lives a thief named Lila, and their paths are destined to cross.

I really liked the setup of the Londons and the magic system, however, the characters had little depth, and the story while fast paced was all tell and no show. I listened to the audiobook in a couple of days as the book flies by quickly, but ultimately it felt rather like watching a long car chase scene in an otherwise lackluster movie - lots of things happen, but its way more fun for the actors than the viewers. Is this targeted for young adult readers and I missed that? I wanted more complexity, more depth, and more meat on the bones, so while I liked this story am not sure at this point whether I care enough to read the sequel.

The audiobook is narrated by Steven Crossley, and I did not like how he reads this one. His voices are annoying and distracting, so would not recommend the audiobook. Rating: 3 stars.

84. Two Brothers
This graphic novel is an adaptation of Brothers, a novel written by the popular Brazilian writer Milton Hatoum. I had not heard of either the book or the original author, so was interested to get my hands on it.

The story revolves around the relationship of twin brothers, Omar and Yaqub, and the people in their circles. I really liked that the Brazilian setting and that the Lebanese angle, however I did not connect to the story in any way. I did not love the sketchy black and white art, and the story failed to resonate with me. I enjoyed most the relationship of the twin's parents, and there are some wonderful moments of inter-generational angst, but overall, this one just did not work for me. I might see if I can get my hands on the original novel to see if I was simply lost in translation. Rating: 2 stars.

85. The Grownup
This is a short story. A really short one. The audio takes a little over an hour, and it can be read in one sitting. If you've read anything by the author, you know that you are about to be taken for an interesting ride, and this one does not disappoint. There are loads of reviews out there, but I really think that going cold into this one is the way to go, as the less you know going in the better. A really fun ride, and I would highly recommend the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Julia Whelan. Rating: 4 stars.

June 25, 2016

Journal pages

A few art supplies and my journal is all I need to keep me happily occupied for hours. We're on the boat and I'm in the v-berth sketching and writing. Capturing moments in time.

I'm about halfway done with the first volume of my summer traveler's notebook, and so stay tuned for a flip video soon.

June 24, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 56-60

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

56/100:

57/100:

58/100:

59/100:

60/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

It's rather fun going through free magazines and seeing what grabs my attention.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 23, 2016

Cinemascope: Suffragette

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.



Released in 2015.

Plot line: In early 20th-century Britain, the growing suffragette movement forever changes the life of working wife and mother Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan). Galvanized by political activist Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Watts joins a diverse group of women who fight for equality and the right to vote. Faced with increasing police action, Maud and her dedicated suffragettes must play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, risking their jobs, homes, family and lives for a just cause.

Watching this movie made me oh so mad, so if you are looking for a light, fun movie, save this for a different night. For some reason, I assumed that this was based on the US Suffragette movement, of which I know a bit about, but this is based on what happened in London in the early 1900s. I knew almost nothing about the women in this story, and there are now things I'm going to look up.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

June 21, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 51-55

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

51/100:

52/100:

53/100:

54/100:

55/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

A couple of these were done while away from home, and as I suspected, portability is a plus on any long term project.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 20, 2016

Recent Reads

76. Asterios Polyp
The thing about art, is that it is often impossible to convey what you feel about it to anyone else, and that is exactly how I feel about this graphic novel. Please bear with me while I try.

On the surface this is a simple story of a man who is middle aged, and his life has not turned out as he hoped. He is a successful theoretical architect. Stop for a second and think about what that actually means. In this case, it means that he has award winning designs that never get built. The story moves back and forth between the present and the past, and one of the things that comes through very clearly is how unlikable a character he really is. What events have conspired to bring him to his present situation, and is there any hope of redemption?

This graphic novel takes some very philosophical questions and explores them in art form. What is art? Who are we? What makes us who we are? How do our childhood wounds affect the adults we become? Can we really ever connect and communicate with another person? The art is really important in this one. The colors and the types of marks used all convey meaning, so you need to pay really close attention. How the author uses them to explore these themes is wonderful, and that spotlight sequence with Hana stopped me in my tracks.

The only reason I docked a star is that the ending was a bit Hollywoody for me. I'm not a fan of putting a bow on it, and it felt a tad contrived. I highly recommend this one, and expect to read it again. Rating: 4 stars.

77. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Reading this novel really brought to mind the notion of confirmation bias.

From Wiki: Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

This novella (it's about 150 pages, never mind what the hardcover page count claims), is written for a bibliophile audience, and panders to everything that will cause said reader to nod head in vigorous agreement.

For example: Books great. Readers make the best friends/lovers/insert your fantasy here. Cannot possibly have any friends or intimates who do not read. Vampires bad. Indie bookstore awesome. Online stores bad. Ereaders bad.

Did you feel your head nodding? Then you might enjoy this book. It is a light, breezy, fast read about a grumpy indie bookseller who finds a baby left abandoned in his bookstore, and life is henceforth fun and easy, even death, lack of money, and divorce is not a problem. Turn that frown upside down! This book skims so much that it barely touches the surface of issues of race (on a New England island at that!), adoption, grief, financial worries, or really any more complex emotions at all other than what a dog might experience, albeit if said dog could read.

This one gives chick lit a bad name, and could be read by YA audiences, though not sure why they would bother. "A love letter to the world of books" it is not in my opinion. Yet so many readers (including my friends) have loved this one, maybe because it reads like a fairy tale. I simply do not understand all the love. It is not well written, the characters are caricatures, and the plot is all tell and no show. No show at all - and that is something even the main character himself criticizes.

Still, I can understand how one might be delighted by references to books or stories one has already read, and there are some cute moments, and if not for that I would have docked an additional star. Remember how you felt after you ate cotton candy at the fair? How there was this fluffy sweet taste in your mouth for a brief moment, and then it melted away to nothing? No aftertaste, simply nothing? That is how I feel about this one. Rating: 2 stars.

78. Moose
Bullying is a thing, and probably has been a thing since humans first formed cliques of any kind. This graphic novel is the story of Joe, a high school student, whose life is a kind of hell when we check in with him. He is bullied mercilessly and has no-one he can turn to for help.

The simple, stark, no frills black and white art painfully evokes the world of terror occupied by Joe. The author captures the isolation, despair, and loneliness felt by Joe, and accurately depicts how clueless many adults, including loving parents, can be, to the hell that is childhood for some kids.

This graphic novel is labeled YA, and would make an excellent short story for discussion on the topic with older teens, as some of the things that happen are quite explicit, and might not be appropriate for a middle grade reader. What happens in this story will haunt me for a long time. Rating: 4 stars.

79. Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London
Whether living in New York, London, or Lahore, the author considers Pakistan home, and as many people who are displaced either by necessity or choice know, this can lead to severe emotional turbulence.

This slim book is a collection of previously published essays on the author's musings on books he has read and loved, or not, on marriage and extended family, on being a father, on being a Muslim man in the post 9-11 world, on being an author, on the politics of Pakistan, the Pakistan-India relationship, on US Drone attacks, on Islam.

It is a good collection, but not a great one. Some of the essays are really short, while others are feature length. There are wonderful tidbits and insight to be gathered and marinated over, but as with any collection, I liked some of these essays better than others. Rating: 3 stars.

80. Thirteen Hours (Benny Griessel #2)
This was exactly the right book at the right time for me. I was in the mood for a fast paced thriller, and this, the second book in the Benny Griessel series, did not disappoint.

When an American backpacker disappears in Cape Town, the clock starts counting down, and the story moves along at a breathless pace for the next thirteen hours (hence the title). I really like that this South African detective series incorporates complex post-apartheid issues into the plot. The writing is really good, the characters well fleshed out, and the seemingly unrelated strands of the story converge in a satisfying manner.

That the audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Simon Vance was the icing on this already delicious cake. Rating: 4 stars.

June 16, 2016

Cinemascope: Miss You Already

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.



Released in 2015.

Plot line: An honest and powerful story following two best friends, Milly and Jess, as they navigate life's highs and lows. Inseparable since they were young girls, they can't remember a time they didn't share everything - secrets, clothes, even boyfriends - but nothing prepares them for the day Milly is hit with life-altering news.

I can't put it any better, so here is a critical review of this one: Miss You Already isn't shy about going for filmgoers' tear ducts, but its solid script and talented cast are often powerful enough to make up for its more manipulative moments. This stayed away from being a pure chick flick by dealing with some real life issues in such an honest way. Plus, it passed the Bechdel Test. What's not to love about that?

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

June 15, 2016

Where Ideas Come From (the100dayproject)

My brain has clearly changed in the past 57 or so days. Everything I see is now potential for my 100-Day project. You see ice-cream scoops, I see girls. Am delighted with this change.

June 13, 2016

Recent Reads

71. Hey, Wait...
This graphic novel is one of the earlier works by the author, and his talent is clearly visible. In this one the author explores childhood trauma and loss, and to say anymore would be spoilery. I have always loved how all the characters in his art have animal heads, but behave like humans. There are some really quirky and imaginative things the author does in this story (the stilts for example), and he is really good at telling a story with very few words and panels. While I liked it, I did not have an emotional connection with the story, but that might just be because nothing can ease my Middlemarch hangover at the moment. Rating: 3 stars.

72. Coffin Hill Vol. 1: Forest of the Night
This volume collects issues #1-7.

I've been in a bit of a reading slump after finishing Middlemarch. Not a surprise really. I've picked up and put down various books, and when I get this way, my go to books are graphic novels. They are usually fun quick reads. This was the first book I got through after Middlemarch, so hooray for that.

The premise reminds me of teen horror flicks; roll out the booze, sex, drugs, and blood. Our main character Eve Coffin is a witch with Salem ancestry. The story has two major plot lines. In the earlier one we encounter a teen, goth, angry Eve, who is not only unlikable, but wakes up after a raucous night in the woods to find herself covered with blood, one friend missing, and the other mentally broken. In the current timeline, Eve is a rookie cop who solves a major case, but is still unlikable and having issues. When teens start disappearing in the woods around her old home, Eve know what is responsible, and this time she is determined to put an end to the horror. Will she succeed without tapping into the darkest magic?

I really liked the New England setting, and the art is quite good. I liked the story enough that I'll continue with this series. Rating: 3 stars.

73. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules
I'm not a short story fan, so you might be justified in wondering why I read this one. I blame George Eliot. I kept trying various things to pull me out of the Grand Canyon sized reading slump that Middlemarch abandoned me in; I could clearly see the rim but seemed unable to get up there.

I'm a Sedaris fan, and his writing almost always makes me smile, so why not try this collection of short stories curated by him? I read somewhere that this audiobook is an abridged collection - it only has 5 of the 17 stories in the book - but that's OK with me. If you are a Sedaris fan, you'll totally understand why he loves these stories - they are in his wheel house.

1. Where the Door Is Always Open and the Welcome Mat Is Out by Patricia Highsmith, narrated by Cherry Jones. 3 stars.
This is the story of woman in New York getting ready for the arrival of her sister. Classic domestic fiction, with Highsmith's whiff of tension.

2. Bullet In the Brain by Tobias Wolff, narrated by Toby Wherry. 2 stars.
A short look at the last moments of a man's life while he robs a bank.

3. Gryphon by Charles Baxter, narrated by David Sedaris. 4 stars.
Life went along its usual boring way until a substitute teacher with crazy notions walked in. Sedaris is excellent at narrating this one, and it is my fave of the collection.

4. In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried by Amy Hempel, narrated by Mary-Louise Parker. 3 stars.
A story of illness and loss, and the inability to be the person we want to be for others in their time of need.

5. Cosmopolitan written and narrated by Akhil Sharma. 2 stars.
This is a strange (Sedaris kind of strange) story of an Indian man and his shapely neighbor. My least fave narration of the lot.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this collection as much as I did, and I might seek out the book to read the stories I missed. Rating: 3 stars.

74. The Lost Thing
This picture book has gorgeous art - but then I would expect nothing less from the author. The story however was not as engaging as his other work. Still, I'd get a library copy just so you can ogle the artwork. Rating: 2 stars.

75. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Merricat , said Constance, would you like a cup of tea?

I was hooked by the third sentence. I owe Ms. Jackson huge thanks for yanking me out of my reading slump, and will pour out some tea later today as an offering to the reading gods.

This is a dark and twisty tale of the two Blackwood sisters who live, with their aged uncle, in Blackwood House. The story is slowly, ever so slowly revealed; the author has impeccable timing. I was sucked breathlessly along, trying to make sense of the tension that was clearly palpable, and yet incomprehensible. The less you know about this one going in, the better.

I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Bernadette Dunne. She was able to pitch her voice and cadence so as to capture the mood and uneasiness you already feel with this story. A word of advice though, do not make the mistake I did and read this at bedtime as it will not put you to sleep.

The only reason this did not get a higher rating is because there are parts that could have been edited out to make the story tighter. If you are in the mood for an eerie, atmospheric read, give this one a try. Rating: 4 stars.

June 11, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 46-50

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

46/100:

47/100:

48/100:

49/100:

50/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

Halfway done!

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 9, 2016

Cinemascope: The Big Short

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.



Released in 2015.

Plot line: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors' money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.

I read the book that this is based on and it made me so dang angry. This movie did too. I would love to see Hollywood make more thought provoking movies like this one. Why we did not have a revolution in the streets after the bailout is something I still do not understand. I guess it just goes to show how important a middle class is to a country's stability. I know there are many people who would not read the book, but it my hope that they will watch this movie.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

June 7, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 41-45

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

41/100:

42/100:

43/100:

44/100:

45/100:


My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

This project continues to be both challenging and fun.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 6, 2016

Recent Reads

66. Lulu Anew
This graphic novel is about a middle aged woman who decides one day to walk away from her life, leaving behind a husband and three children. I liked that the story was told from various points of view, and the slow reveal as to what happens next. I also liked that the events that occured were realistically plausible without any grand heroics. Also, the art is quite lovely. The reason this does not get a higher rating is that I did not connect to the story in the way I expected to. Maybe because it did not cover any new ground, or because there is not much character depth revealed, or that it was a little to lifetimey for my tastes. Rating: 2 stars.

67. The Fade Out, Vol. 1: Act One
Based on the reviews of certain GR friends, I picked up this graphic novel trilogy expecting to love it. I'm looking at you Jan and David S. But something about this one did not work for me.

The premise is interesting enough - a murder mystery set in 1948 Hollywood with all that entails: movie stars, people attracted to movie stars, and the usual cast of unsavory characters. The story starts off with a bang when writer Charlie wakes up after a drinking binge in a bathtub, only to find the lead actress of the movie he is working on dead near him. Whodunit?

I quite liked the historical setting of Hollywood in a bygone era, and the art is interesting, and captures well the atmosphere of that era, but I did not find any of the characters interesting, and was not pulled into the mystery. Did I care enough to read on? Well, since I had the other two books on my nightstand I did. Rating: 2 stars.

68. Middlemarch
With a nod to Mr. Brooke, this book is marvelous, bloody marvelous, you know?

This book has been on my TBR for years, and I'm not sure why it took me this long to get to it. One of my reading goals in 2016 was to finally get around to reading it, and what a better time to read this one than in March?

I started the audiobook at the start of the month, and finished it with a couple of days to spare. I loved every single moment I spent in the world that George Eliot created. Her skill at crafting this novel is awesome (in the old school sense of the word), and she has moved up to the top five authors I'd like to have to dinner. Eliot's understanding of human nature is remarkable, and I loved her empathy for all the characters in this epic novel, scoundrels included. She opens up vistas on our humanity for us to observe, and in doing so expands our capacity to have sympathy and empathy for those we might otherwise judge harshly. There are characters I loved, and ones I wanted dead, some I felt like hitting on the head with a saucepan, and others that seemed to need a good long cuddle. Eliot's wit and wisdom shines through, and she had me smiling in acknowledgement of one or the other on every single page, all the way to the very last paragraph. How often can one say that about a book this long?

Virginia Woolf once famously remarked that this is 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'. I concur.

A quick note on the audiobook. It is narrated by the wonderful Juliet Stevenson. If I ever won the lottery, I would spend a significant portion of it paying Ms. Stevenson to narrate all the books I'm interested in reading. She is that dang good, and deserves an award for her work on this one. Rating: 5 stars.

69. The Fade Out, Vol. 2: Act Two
I'm happy to report that Act Two does improve on Act One, but I'm still not hooked on caring about solving the mystery. Good thing too, as no-one else seems to care about solving it either in this installment. I liked getting more of the backstory of some of the characters, and the art continues to be good - the colors especially are great. I've got the last volume of this graphic novel trilogy in hand so will read it just to complete the series, not because I care about the killer or their motives. Rating: 3 stars.

70. The Fade Out, Vol. 3: Act Three
I'm not a big fan of crime/mystery stories, so the fact that this graphic novel trilogy did not resonate could be all due to my personal tastes. Act Three concludes this story, and the murderer is revealed. Did I care? Nope. The art is good, I liked the gritty historical context of the story, and there are certain plot lines of debauchery and race I found interesting. I'm not opposed to stories with sexy women, booze, and secrets, but this one felt rather stereotypical, with no additional insight to be gleaned from its pages. Not for me. Rating: 2 stars.

June 5, 2016

Rainy morning journaling

This is what is happening on my bed this rainy Sunday morning.

June 4, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 36-40

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

36/100:

37/100:

38/100:

39/100:

40/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

I can hardly believe that I'm 40 down. I am learning so much on  this journey.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

June 2, 2016

Cinemascope: Straight Outta Compton

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.



Released in 2015.

Plot line: In 1988, a groundbreaking new group revolutionizes music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A's first studio album, "Straight Outta Compton," stirs controversy with its brutally honest depiction of life in Southern Los Angeles. With guidance from veteran manager Jerry Heller, band members Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren navigate their way through the industry, acquiring fame, fortune and a place in history.

This one is fantastic in every way. A must see for fans of the music, but really, I would recommend this rags to riches story based on the true stories of these singers to everyone.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

May 31, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 31-35

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

31/100:

32/100:

33/100:

34/100:

35/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

I continue to love this creative challenge.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

May 30, 2016

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Primaries and Caucuses (Video)

I know what I'll doing on Feb 2, 2017. Do you?

Primaries and caucuses are a surprisingly undemocratic part of the democratic process. John Oliver discusses our convoluted system for choosing presidential nominees.



If the embedded video does not work, click here.

Recent Reads

61. Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir
It seems to me that almost everyone is writing a memoir these days, and while I do believe that we all live interesting lives (at least to ourselves), I'm not sure anyone else cares. The publishing industry seems to churn out memoirs at an alarming rate. Maybe it's because they are easy to write, and people are fascinated by an insider look at the lives of celebrities, but come on, not everyone lives a memoir worthy life!

Now that I've got that out of the way, let's talk about this book. Literally the only interesting thing about it is that the author lived with her family on an island in Washington State that used to house a prison. Given that, this book should have been about a 5 page pamphlet. No more is needed in my opinion. The black and white art is not good, and the story is dull and uninteresting to anyone who does not love the author. There are not many graphic novels I have bailed on, and this one joins that trashy heap. I quit about half way through, and let me remind you that graphic novels generally can be read in a single sitting.

I really wish publishers would reconsider the glut in the memoir genre, and go for quality over quantity. It's not that I dislike memoirs, though the last three or so I've read were all awful, but there needs to be something interesting about the life of a total stranger that makes me care to read on.

Want to read some great books in this genre? Try any of these brilliant ones: Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright, or The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, or The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, or The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. Rating: 1 star.

62. Steps to Success in Watercolor: Learn Eight Valuable Principles for Planning Your Next Watercolor Painting
Book blurb: Accomplished watercolorist Brenda Swenson breaks down the process of planning a painting into eight individual steps, which include choosing a format, planning out values, effectively using color, developing a center of interest, creating a visual path, incorporating variety, painting negative shapes, and introducing light and shadow. Then she combines the steps in one final painting to show how each step works together to produce a pleasing, successful work of art.

I can't put it any better than the blurb, so will leave it at that. This is the second time I've read through this one, and a little more sinks in each time. It is wonderfully clear and concise, and I feel like I've attended a a really good watercolor workshop. I plan on doing some exercises in my journal soon. Rating: 4 stars.

63. Mixed Media Masterpieces with Jenny & Aaron: Create Incredible Art Journals and Handmade Mixed Media Treasures with Two Master Crafters
The thing about style, is that it is a very personal thing. This book has several art projects that I found way too kitschy for my taste. Not for me at all. Back in the library drop off it goes. Rating: 1 star.

64. Me Before You
The thing is, I have no one but myself to blame on this one. In spite of the rave reviews, I just knew that I was not the target audience for it. I mean, all I had to do was look at the cover, read the blurb, and I knew. I just knew better. But then I saw that it will be made into a movie, and that the Khaleesi from GOT will play Lou, and I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, all my fears were realized.

On the plus side this is a fast, light read, and the writing while not good, is not bad. The characters and the plot though are paper thin, and I was both annoyed and bored. Can one really get to be 26 years old and be as ridiculous as Lou? She seemed to act like an eight year old most of the time. As for Will, well, this would have been a more interesting story if he was not so filthy rich, wouldn't it? I was annoyed at the tired, old trope of a woman who gets saved by a man, and I think the notion of telling (not showing) the reader about certain things in Lou's life so as to evoke an emotional reaction from the reader is a kind of cheating by the author. The themes explored are done with such a light touch that it sheds no light on anything, and this could easily have been a YA book - though I doubt that teens would put up with it either.

I bailed about 170 pages in, and was not really surprised at how much I disliked this one. I guess I'll wait for the movie on DVD, and will keep my fingers crossed that the Khaleesi will use her charm to enliven the immature and annoying Lou. Rating: 1 star.

65. The Outside Circle
In the entire history of humanity, has there ever been a positive story about what happened to the native/indigenous/aboriginal peoples of any land? Sigh.

This graphic novel is targeted at an older teen plus audience, and I think it would make a good introduction for anyone who has not read anything about some of the issues explored here. Set in Canada, this story revolves around two brothers of aboriginal heritage struggling to find their way in the world. I really liked the art and the themes explored in this gritty bildungsroman, but my complaint is that it reads more like an brief, educational introduction to the First Nations history than a fictional story. The plot itself is a simple and straightforward one, but it is the historical facts and data thrown in that makes this worth reading for anyone interested in these important issues. Rating: 3 stars.

May 26, 2016

Cinemascope: Chi-Raq

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.




Released in 2015.

Plot line: A modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.

I like Spike Lee movies, and while I really liked this one, it took me a while to warm up to it. The entire movie is done in verse, and it is quite a different movie experience, though ultimately quite satisfying. I did not agree with all the messages in this one, but loved the exploration of themes we don't often see talked about in the movies.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

May 24, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 26-30

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

26/100:

27/100:

28/100:

29/100:

30/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

Sometimes day 100 seems so far away.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.

May 23, 2016

Recent Reads

56. Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope
This volume collects issues #1-6.

I love the premise of this graphic novel series, but am so disappointed with the execution. So check this out, at some point in time our Sun changes, and the 3rd rock is not longer a comfortable habitat for humanity. I still remember with glee talking to my 7th graders about all the ways the Earth might end - it is not a question of if, but how and when. That sure sparked a fun class, but I digress, back to the premise. In order to escape the dangerous radiation, humans have moved to the deep oceans, but resources are running out, and soon there will be none left. Will humanity survive?

See what I mean? An aquatic sci-fi/fantasy series should be right in my wheel house. However, the story is rather thin, and the art is so chaotic as to not leave my eyes a place to rest comfortably. I really like the creativity at play here, but it did not work for me. I have the next volume in the series in hand, and hopefully things will get better. Rating: 2 stars.

57. Low, Vol. 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us
This volume collects issues #7-10.

I started of this series by complaining about what I did not like in my review of the first volume, and I liked this one even less. So, this story now has underwater thunder dome like scenes? Puhlease. And while I have absolutely no issues with nudity and scantily clad women, why the hell are all the men dressed as if for the Siberian winter? What's good for the goose is good for the gander no? There is also too much of a preachy, quasi-religious, positive-thinking-will-solve-all-problems tone to these books for my tastes. So while I love the premise of this series, it does not work for me on any level, and after this one, I'm out. Rating: 1 star.

58. H Is for Hawk
There are many readers who have loved this book and raved about it all over the place, but unfortunately I am not one of them. I listened to the audiobook, which is really well narrated by the author, but about half way through it, 43% to be precise, I have decided to DNF it. Let me try and explain why.

It is quite clear that the author can write, and I would try her work again, but this book is all over the dang place. It is a grief memoir about the death of her father, it is the actual training of a goshawk, it is a memoir of her childhood experiences, it is about the author's connection with the author T.H. White through his writings, it is part nature writing, part history, part biography, part, part, part. All those parts did not work for me. While I am not particularly interested in falconry, I would have enjoyed a book on the training of a goshawk and the history of falconry, or I would have enjoyed her training juxtaposed with a biography of White, or I might even have enjoyed a straight up grief memoir, but this book is too much of a mashup to work for me. So, while I do think this one has some lovely prose, it felt rather too work-shopped and unfocused to make it an interesting read. Rating: 1 star.

59. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
I'm a person who has kept a journal since I was a young girl, and I am convinced that to non-journal keepers, keeping a journal for long periods of time must feel like a Jedi Knight skill. It might well be, I don't know. I'm too close to the pages to be able to make an objective assessment. I know many people who struggle with keeping a journal, and personally I cannot imagine why they do. But then, I also cannot imagine why people who can read don't. All this means is a lack of imagination on my part maybe. I am a reader, and I am a journaler. Oh sure, we could use that lofty term "Writer", and it would apply, but why be so formal when we're among friends?

Journalers write for all sorts of reasons, and I love reading published journals - May Sarton's for example are wonderful - so I was expecting to love this one. Alas, I did not. The author has kept a journal for twenty five years with this objective: "I wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened." Well, as those of us who keep journals know, that is a tall order indeed. This little book is not a published journal, it is more an essay on keeping a journal, and not even an essay, but a collection of very short musings on the topic.

What I did like was that the author goes back and looks through all her entries, and in these musings meditates on her personal journey. There are some wonderful insights, and some well crafted sentences that are made me catch my breath, but overall, this one just left me wanting more. Rating: 2 stars.

60. Identity Crisis
This volume collects Issues #1-7.

Let me first say that I'm not a big superhero fan. I did not read those comics when I was a kid, and do not often read them now. The reason that is important for this review is that I read this book not knowing these characters, or their back stories, relationships, feuds, etc., and I think that might be the reason I felt lost and bewildered most of the time while reading this graphic novel. Elongated Man! Was he even a real thing?

I really liked the premise of this story, and it was fun to go home with the super heroes and villains - after all what did you think they did when they clocked out and were not busy saving the planet or a kitten? They have lives, and parents, and spouses, and when a serial killer seems out to hurt the heroes by killing their loved ones, who do you call? I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected humor in parts, and the art is really good, but I think not already being familiar with these characters might have been the reason this did not work for me. Rating: 2 stars.

May 20, 2016

A taboo-free way to talk about periods | Aditi Gupta (Video)

Video Blurb: It's true: talking about menstruation makes many people uncomfortable. And that taboo has consequences: in India, three out of every 10 girls don't even know what menstruation is at the time of their first period, and restrictive customs related to periods inflict psychological damage on young girls. Growing up with this taboo herself, Aditi Gupta knew she wanted to help girls, parents and teachers talk about periods comfortably and without shame. She shares how she did it.

This is not just a problem in India, and not educating girls, and shaming them about their periods continues to this day. Watching this video gives me hope.



If the embedded video does not work, click here.

May 19, 2016

Cinemascope: Game of Thrones (Season 5)


Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.




Released in 2015.

Plot line: Season 5 is based mostly on the fourth and fifth novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, respectively. The storylines of the two books run concurrently but follow different sets of characters.

I can not be objective about this one. I've read the books, and in preparation to watch this season, I re-watched all the previous ones. Oh my word, but I love this show. Yes, it is incredibly violent, would you expect anything else during times of war? The writing is great, the setting, lighting, and cast is excellent, and I enjoyed every minute of these 50 episodes over a couple of months, even though I was sobbing at the end of this season. When I was done, I glimpsed a very large hawk outside the window, and for a moment I was convinced it was a dragon. Now the wait begins until the next season is out on DVD.

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a TV series worth watching.

May 17, 2016

The 100-Day Project | Days 21-25

I've accepted the 100-day project challenge this year, and you can read more about it here. I post my collages daily on Instagram, and plan to post a recap every 5 days or so here on my blog. As always, click on images to view larger.

21/100:

22/100:

23/100:

24/100:

25/100:

My mixed media supplies include card stock, junk mail, outdated sailing charts, origami paper, wall paper samples, fabric samples, acrylic paints, paper, gel pens, stamps, stamp pads, and sharpie markers. I glue everything down using an uhu glue stick.

I'm a quarter done. Time sure flies.

You can see a video of the journal I'm using, and my thought process for this challenge here.