February 15, 2016

Recent Reads

183. Friends With Boys
After years of homeschooling, Maggie is about to start High School. Oh, and her mother went walkabout, and the only people she knows in this school are her brothers, and she has to learn to navigate physical, social and emotional hurdles. And if that weren't enough, she is being haunted by a ghost.

This graphic novel is targeted at the tween/teen crowd, and can be summed up in on word: Cute. Will be recommending it to my nieces and nephews. Rating: 3 stars.

184. The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Book blurb: Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.

Well, color me pleasantly surprised and rather stunned. I did not know much about Amanda Palmer going into this one. Sure, I'd watched and loved her TED talk, and that lead to me listening to some of her music, much of which is not to my taste, but the ones that are, are incredible. And really, who needs another celebrity memoir? Well, me it turns out.

This is breathtakingly honest, and open, and not only am I an Amanda Palmer fan, but through her writing, I even like her husband, Neil Gaiman, more. What is going on? This is a very feminist, artistic exploration of what art means to both the artist and the audience. It is an exploration of life, and love, and the difference between begging and asking. It is an exploration of vulnerability, and trusting other humans and yourself, and also about the business of art. It is an exploration of the best and the worst of what the internet can enable, and seriously makes me want to hug random strangers.

I listened to the audiobook, which is superbly (why am I still surprised?) narrated by the author, and there are songs and music interludes, which add an extra punch to the book.

So, while I started writing this review with a 4 star rating in mind, I realize that is simply not enough. And dang it, but I think I've just become another Amanda Palmer bot. How did that happen? Rating: 5 stars.

185. A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks - 230 Artists - 30 Countries
This book is a collection of photos of art journal pages from journals around the world - 230 artists from 30 countries to be precise. As one would expect with a collection like this one, there is wide range of styles represented, and I certainly liked some better than others. If you are a fan of art journaling, this is a fun book to dip into when looking for some inspiration. Rating: 3 stars.

186. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
My 11 year old nephew, Jonah, is a fan of comics, so I've been reading several middle grade ones to sample what might interest him.

Reading this graphic novel just made me happy. It is the story of mice and mousey things. There is intrigue, and murder, and betrayal, though the plot is a little weak. Think of this as a much watered down Game of Thrones for mice. The art though is sumptuous, and is really the main attraction here. My nephew started reading this one, and is liking it so far. Rating: 3 stars.

187. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
"This is the best book I've read in my whole entire life. You must read it." That's what my 13 year old nephew, Luke, said to me the other day on a book buying trip. Well, how could I not read it after such a recommendation?

Edward Tulane is a rather vain china rabbit, who is much loved and admired, as he should be, in his opinion. Events are about to turn his world upside down, and he encounters situations and people who change him in unexpected ways.

I read this short, sweet novel in one sitting on a flight recently. Sure, there are incredible coincidences, and plot points that stretch an adult's sense of what is possible, but then again this is a book written for middle grade readers. This is a great read during the Christmas season, while we are surrounded by all the conspicuous consumption, to remind us of what really matters. Rating: 4 stars.

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