September 19, 2016

Recent Reads

141. The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw
This graphic novel has an interesting premise. Can you take the basics of how to draw, and incorporate them into a story? This book shows that you can. It's a cute story of a young boy who has a passion for drawing, and along the way the reader learns along with him the fundamentals of drawing. This would make a good introduction for young artists. Rating: 3 stars.

142. Lucky Penny
New Adults. Emerging Adults. Whatever you call them, this genre tends to deal with collage age-ish people and their woes and misadventures. I can see how this would appeal to many in a similar situation, but unless the story sheds some new light they don't work for me.

This graphic novel is about a young woman who loses her job, loses her apartment, and ends up living in a storage unit. The story is light and fluffy, and given some of the issues lightly touched upon, this would have been a much more interesting read if the author had dived deeper. The art is cute and manga-ish, with all those large eyes. A fast read that I will not remember having read in a week or two. Rating: 2 stars.

143. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Delilah Dirk #1)
This graphic novel is about the swashbuckling (mis)adventures of Delilah Dirk. I especially like that the story starts in Constantinople and includes a Turkish angle. The art is good, and while I enjoyed all the action, I'm not sure that there was an actual plot. Still, this a fun read with an unorthodox heroine. Rating: 3 stars.

144. The Muralist
I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Xe Sands, and I bailed about 32% in.

This story has so many elements that I usually love. It's a story with two time lines. The earlier one is set in the 1940s, and centers around a young painter in the days of the WPA, and her cadre of painters, who are household names today. The second story line is set in 2015 and centers around woman number one's grand niece. Painters, artists, missing people, authenticating artwork, the plight of Jewish refugees, etc. All these should have added up to something with more meat, but alas did not.

The writing itself is not bad, but the plot seemed to rely on the reader's emotional response to events surrounding World War 11, without the author earning those emotions, and that felt somewhat like cheating to me. There was not enough character development for me to know, or really care, about any of the people in this story, and they seemed to be generic stand-ins for historical figures. I don't have an issue with very specific stories that use war time or historical events as their backdrop, but the author must earn the emotions in the writing, and not simply move characters around while dropping clues that tell the reader what to feel.

On the plus side, this is the first that I'd heard about the history surround the MS St. Loius, and I plan to read more about it. Also, this book reminded me that I really should move a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt higher up my TBR pile.

This is the second book by this author that I have DNFed, both for similar reasons: books with a wonderful premise that do not deliver. Rating: 1 star.

145. Shelter
Someone close to me once said that he knew how to be a son, a husband, and a father, but not all at the same time.

I read this book in three sittings, and I don't recall a book that has so haunted my dreams in a very long time. The premise is a deceptively simple one: what does it mean to provide for one's family? It is what the author does with this question that makes this very hyped book deserve all the hype.

This is an example of a book that the less you know going in the better. The author explores so many themes really well in this slim novel. We get a look behind closed doors at a couple of marriages, parent - child relationships, and violence in various forms. There is much to ponder about humanity and yourself while reading this one, and you will not look at things the same way after you are done.

I really cannot say more without giving away things that are better discovered while reading it yourself. I docked a star because this is a debut novel, and it shows in parts, but I cannot wait to see what else this author uncorks in the future. Rating: 4 stars.

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