Book Review – Art Starts With a Line

cover143302-medium.pngArt Starts with a Line: A creative and interactive guide to the art of line drawing by Erin McManness

This is a charming and whimsical drawing book. I had a wonderful time reading through it and trying out many of the different techniques.

That said, if you are looking for something for an aspiring artist, this might not be your cup of tea. I think it will depend on what your end goal is. I like to doodle and enjoy drawing books that offer very basic instructions and suggestions in a non-intimidating way. This book is very approachable, yet there is discussion of things like shading and perspective and different supplies you may want to consider.

I liked the content because it included borders and lettering, along with landscapes and plants and other more typical things you might find in a basic learn-to-draw book. This would be a great resources for someone who enjoys bullet journaling or scrapbooking and wants to be more creative.

For me, it was ideal. More than enough instruction and ideas to keep me going for some time. I’ll be purchasing a print copy that will likely see lots of use.

(Reviewed copy provided by NetGalley.)

#ArtStartsWithAline #NetGalley

Book Review -Anne Arrives

cover142275-mediumAnne Arrives by Kallie George

I adored the Lucy Maude Montgomery novels growing up and was excited to see an adaptation available on NetGalley.

This title did not disappoint Kallie George doesn’t stray far from the original book. You still get a good sense of Anne (with an E) and her delightful personality, complete with the highs and lows…or the “depths of despair” as Anne would describe them. This book is the very beginning of the beginning of Anne’s story of her arrival at Green Gables.

The artwork only adds to the charm of this short book. I like to think new readers finding the same delight as I did in the original books in this new version. Sometimes artwork can take away from your own mind’s imagining of what characters and places look like. But that was not the case here, in my opinion.

I look forward to more of Anne’s story.

(This title is due to be published on Sept. 25, 2018. I’m reviewing an edition provided through NetGalley.)

#AnneArrives #NetGalley

Book Review – The Perfect Nanny

38330854._UY2333_SS2333_The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

This was a twisted story of obsessive, twisted emotion parading as love.

You go through the story knowing the tragedy that is to come. I kept hoping it was a fever dream or some sort of hallucination. But the more I learned about the characters, I was left wondering why there wasn’t a higher body count.

Louise seemed like such a perfect nanny. She cooked, cleaned, played games…a French Mary Poppins. Except this isn’t a Disney story and Louise didn’t bring a family back together before floating into the clouds with a magic umbrella. She only seems to have an identity when she is being a nanny. Her own life has never seemed to satisfy her.

The characters never felt completely filled out. I was left wanting to know more. Particularly with Louise, there seemed to be so many unanswered questions. And there felt like there more to be said about her daughter.

But it was a hard book to put down. I wanted to keep reading to see if any of the characters would exhibit some better qualities. In the end, they were all so completely human in their imperfection and inability to stop the tragic path they were doomed to follow.


Book Review


Gilchrist by Christian Galacar

This book reminded me of early Stephen King or Dean Koontz in the weird/creepy factor. You get a good dose of shivers from the supernatural elements, but at least one character probably didn’t have all that far to go into pure evil. The “otherness” in the book helped him along, because it was good eating after all.

But it was heartbreaking to watch good people be twisted and manipulated. (In some ways, reading this book was timely considering how outside forces like to twist truths and manipulate people’s minds, causing them to behave in irrational ways.) I was disgusted, horrified, and angered in equal measure by the darkness that lurked under the surface of the town of Gilchrist.

You’ll find yourself hoping Peter can figure things out quickly enough to save the people he loves and himself. You’ll wonder if he finds enough answers in the book that oddly parallels his experiences in this weird town, even though the book was written years before. You’ll wish, in the end, he’d never decided to go for a drive that very first day and instead had turned toward home.

And you might want to reread this book and think about all these things again.


Book Review

The Outsider by Stephen King

I used to be a big Stephen King fan. Every time he published something new, I was excited to get my copy. Not so much anymore.

The premise of The Outsider is typical King suspense – kind of a body snatcher story with a twist. But it never really develops into the hair-raising terror or nerve-tightening stories that he’s well known for.

There are so many missed opportunities for the creepiness factor to be upped. I won’t presume to tell an author his craft, but I was sadly disappointed with the story. I kept reading hoping for a glimmer of the former King.

The end felt rushed and almost trite. Yes, the monster might have been destroyed. Maybe, maybe not. Just like characters tend to come back in King novels; monsters often re-appear as well. The Outsider was a disturbing monster, but not particularly scary as it was written. I’m used to having nightmares from King stories. It could have been much more and I was left wanting.

At least I finished this one. I haven’t been finished his last couple of books due to sheer boredom. I’ll probably pick up whatever he writes next…eventually.

Books I want to read

I’m always adding more titles to my TBR list. Here are a few that I hope to have time to pick up this summer…or fall…or eventually.

blurred book book pages literature
Photo by Caio Resende on

The Clarity by Keith Thomas – This one sounds like a good psychological thriller/horror story. Right up my alley. And just enough of the weird to keep it interesting and different.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai – Some books promise to draw you in and touch you at your core.

The Art of Mingling by Jeanne Martinet – The title speaks for itself.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – The dark side of social networks is evident in this suspense novel.

Book Review

Reading With Patrick: a teacher, a student, and a life-changing friendship by Michelle Kuo

There are times in your life when you meet someone who irrevocably changes how you think. For Michelle Kuo, her one-time student, Patrick, was one of those people. When she took a job teaching at an alternative high school in the South, Ms. Kuo did not know what to expect. Although she grew up as a child of immigrant parents, she didn’t fully understand the pervasiveness of racism in America until she began working with her students and saw first-hand the effects systemic racism had on generations of families trapped in one small town.

As much as this book is about Ms. Kuo, it is about her student, Patrick. He had a profound impact on her both in the classroom and after her time in the South. When she heard he was in trouble, she was returned to offer support and, through books and writing, hope. In spite of his circumstances, Patrick finds a way to maintain his humanity and teaches Ms. Kuo more about facing adversity despite a life filled with challenges.

This book provides an honest look at the harsh reality many young people in our country still face due to systems that work against them. Despite this, it is not an angry book. Ms. Kuo often describes the interactions with her former students (other than Patrick) with little unnecessary sentiment. In face, her students are seen as mainly pragmatic. This is the life they have been given and they do not expect much more.

Don’t expect any miracle by the end. This isn’t one of those stories about a teacher inspiring her student to do great things. Patrick doesn’t find that magic highway to riches. Ms. Kuo doesn’t make a grand difference that will ever be celebrated with an inspirational movie.

Despite all that, this was a worthwhile book to read. It will make you think, and that is one of the best things I can say about any book.

February 17, 2017

I’ve been listening to audiobooks more. Signed up for an account with Audible several months ago when I was going to the gym regularly. (Back before the appendectomy, throat surgery, and general life craziness.) Finally getting through the Game of Thrones books that way. Reading them in print killed me about halfway through the third book.

But I also take breaks from those with other books. I just finished Into the Light. Not a bad story, except it ended on a cliff hanger. Now I’ve got to move right into the next book, Away from the Dark. Reminder: don’t listen to the book if the husband is around because he’ll ask what smut I’m listening to now. Although there weren’t that many smutty parts. Just enough to make me blush.

Yes, I do still read actual paper books. Just finished reading The Killing WayIt was an interesting historical fiction mystery loosely based on Arthurian legend.

No Shelf Required has a free trial alert for Race Relations in America. Head over there for the login information. I’d recommend looking around at more than just that post. Good stuff there.

And because I love this song and so many of the movies featured in the compilation, here you go. Maybe it will make you grin, too.

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