Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

I began The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke imagining it was young adult fiction, similar to a number of books I’ve read in the last year with a young protagonist, but was surprised by the frightening events Alex Connelly, a ten-year old from Belfast, encounters in his troubled life. Not only does he see demons, including the shape shifting Ruen who pledges to be a friend to this friendless boy, but he suffers neglect, abandonment and the trauma of living with his mentally unstable mother.

Entering into this tragic situation is Anya, a child psychiatrist grieving the loss of her own daughter. She desperately hopes to help Alex, but can she? That is the major question that haunts this tale, as the narrative alternates between the perspectives of these two characters. Alex’s portion of the book depicted through diary entries and Anya’s portion chronicles her own struggle to move past the tragedy of losing her daughter to the mental illness that she fears Alex also suffers from.

The story is fairly fast-paced, takes a number of twists and turns (all of which I saw coming), and resolves successfully. The writing is descriptive enough to draw to my mind a number of frightful ways this could be filmed, but ultimately its mere entertainment, with little that sticks. It that’s what you look for in your reading, I predicted you’ll like The Boy Who Could See Demons. If you’re looking for more depth, I’d skip this one.

3 of 5 stars

Note: I received an advance copy of The Boy Who Could See Demons from Delacorte Press for review, but my thoughts here are an honest expression of my reaction to this novel.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

My taste in books is varied, preferring literary fiction most of the time, but I do partake in reading two or three chick-lit books a year. Sometimes I find them shallow and silly, but every once in awhile I find a character I fall in love with… Esme, the 23-year-old, British transplant seeking her PhD in art history at Columbia, is definitely one of those characters. She’s intelligent (she would have to be to capture a full scholarship at Columbia), but young and terribly na├»ve in the ways of the world, particularly the ways of love. It’s this combination of personality traits that won my heart in The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler.

The story begins with Esme coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy. Soon she seeks employment at The Owl, a used bookstore, barely holding its head above water in the current world of the e-commerce and e-readers. It’s here that Esme finds an odd mix of friends and co-workers who will ground her during this unexpected turn her life has taken.

The cast of characters is lovable as well. I’d even go so far as to say there’s not a bad one in the bunch… Oh, except for Esme’s boyfriend and his wealthy, entitled family. They will turn your heart cold, and for good reason.

New York City, the setting of The Bookstore, is a character in this story as well. The energy and diversity of Manhattan will make you yearn to visit the city with fresh, young eyes.

The Bookstore is a modern story. Esme finds herself unexpectedly pregnant early in the novel. Because of this you should expect a good bit of reflection on whether she should have the baby. If this sort of rumination is difficult for you to handle, I suggest you skip The Bookstore completely. For those who venture in, this story offers many scenes that sparkle and shine... You’ll also get to see these characters grow, as life and its challenges mold them. What more can you ask from a novel.

Highly Recommended. 4****

Note: I received an advance copy of The Bookstore from Gallery Books for review, but my thoughts here are an honest expression of my reaction to this novel.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Down, Eleven to Go

Water for Elephants is the first book I've read for The 2011 TBR Pile Challenge. See the rest of the books I'm planning to read here.

Sara Gruen succeeded in drawing me into the world of Depression-era circus life. I could sense the movement of the train that carried this menagerie of characters from town to town. I could smell and hear of the circus lot. I could also feel the desperation of many of the characters living this unorthodox lifestyle. The only downfall I can site in this magical tale is the naivety of our young narrator, which made Water for Elephants a bit more saccharin than I usually prefer. But even so, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves good storytelling. 4****

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Reading

I've been planning my reading for 2011.

I'm participating in The 2011 TBR Reading Challenge. The books I plan to read for this challenge are:
  1. The Sorrow of an American by Siri Hustvedt
  2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen Complete 2/13/11 - 4**** See review HERE
  5. Windfalls: A Novel by Jean Hegland
  6. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
  7. Atlas of Unknows by Tania James
  8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  9. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
  10. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  11. Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
  12. Complete 6/17/11 - 4****
  13. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
And 2 Alternates
  1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  2. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
I'm really looking forward to the challenge and moving some books off my bookshelves.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Well I've not been blogging much this year, but I've been doing a new form of art... Zentangles. You can find out all about them and the Official Zentangle site.

You can also see all of my zentangles on flickr here.

The zentangle pictured here is for Laura Harms weekly zentangle challenge. This is week #1 and the prompt during this busy holiday season is Simplicity. I took the simplicity of one spiral and added one pattern. Fairly pleased and happy to start the weekly challenge.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A New Favorite

Another reading update. I hope I'm not becoming one dimensional here, but I have to share a bit about the book that I just finish today - Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.

I read this book specifically for Summer Reading Challenge and boy, am I ever thankful I did.

This book is an immediate all-time favorite. It follows the path of two people: 1)Cornelia, a 27 year-old coffee shop manager, drifting her way through life and comparing almost everything she encounters to a classic romantic movie, and 2)Clare, an 11 year-old, struggling to cope with the abandonment of her troubled mother and seeking solace in orphan characters from classic children's literature. I loved and connected to them both and marveled at the wittiness of all the characters throughout Love Walked In. I recommend this book to all who like deeply drawn characters and a pace that keeps you turning the pages.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reading Update

What I liked most about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was the variety of character voices presented through their letters. The result for me was that I felt closer to the group as a whole, and their struggles through difficult times, than I did to any one character. Without much connection to the characters, particularly in the beginning of the book, I could keenly imagine the emotional impact the wartime events would have made on me. I feel very lucky that I have not had to experience such challenges in my lifetime.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner was a re-read for me, but loved it, loved it, loved it. Cannie, the protagonist of book, is one of my all-time favorite characters. I'd definitely have her as a dear friend if given the opportunity. This book is characterized as chick-lit by many, but it is far surperior to anything I would put in that genre. There's a lot of life-truth weaved into this often funny, sometimes heartbreaking tale.

Still really enjoying my summer reading. I have two more Jennifer Weiner books to read. One even continues the tale of Cannie. I would definitely recommend any of Jennifer's books as a good summer read.
Check back here for my updates and feel free to ask questions about any of the books I've read.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

4 Days of Fun

This is the start of a 4-day weekend for me. I definitely have some fun in store for myself that I would like to share.

I signed up for a doll workshop online this week. I’ve wanted to do this workshop for awhile and this weekend is a great time to start. The coolest thing about this process is getting to sculpt a face for my dolly. The doll will be made of fabric with paint and paperclay applied to the body form to create features. Very exciting!

Here are some of the dolls made by others who’ve participated in this workshop:

I’ll be sure to take photos of the process and final product.

In addition to starting on my doll this weekend I plans with a friend which involve lunch, visiting Spool and Loop on South Street and helping her start a sweater for her first baby due in November. I also have plans to go see the Phillies with a large group of folks from my neighborhood Monday evening. Let’s hope they win.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cracking the Books

Angie's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

So what have I been doing with my summer?
I came across a great website for those who enjoy books, Goodreads. I’m participating in the Summer Reading Challenge on the site which has gotten me really reading. Here are the books I’ve read since June 1st:
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (4 stars) – One of my very favorite movies. So glad I’ve finally read the book.
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (4 stars) – Really enjoyed the movie. The book was really good as well, but I have to admit I hoped it would be a little racier.
  • The Whiteness of Bones by Susanna Moore (2 stars) – This is by the same author as In the Cut, which I enjoyed. Didn’t like this book half as much, primarily because I found it somewhat depressing.
  • Under the Skin by Michel Faber (3 stars) – Read specifically for the Summer Reading Challenge. It started out really good, but really didn’t have a satisfying ending.
  • The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this book, although it was a little long for my taste.
  • The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman (4 stars) – By the author of Practical Magic, this book also has a family with magical abilities as its center. I liked every single character in this uplifting book.
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (5 stars) – Another book I read specifically to fit a category in the Summer Reading Challenge. This book remarkably captures the thought processes of childhood and sheds light on growing up with a visible disfigurement in a society that values beauty.

I’m currently re-reading Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed. This book has one of my all-time favorite characters, Cannie. Weiner has a new book out with this same character. I’ll be reading that as well in the next couple of months. And Weiner’s newest book is coming out next week. She scheduled to appear at the Central Library next Wednesday. I’m hoping to go and see her speak.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin - With My Back to the World

I saw a very interesting documentary last night on the Sundance Channel. It was about the art and life of Agnes Martin, an artist I had not heard of before. She describes her work as abstract expressionist, although her art is often associated with minimalism. As the movie progressed, I became more and more fascinated by her somewhat mystical approach to her art. Abstract art is fairly difficult for me to connect with, but listening to her speak of what she was trying to express through the grids and horizontal lines that predominant her paintings I traveled to a deeper connection to what art, even my own, could express. Perhaps this is the path to "true" art.

Peace & Happiness by Agnes Martin

Her description of her work that I found most intriguing was the idea that so, so many painters were painting about painting, and she wanted her art to be about life. This is the primary reason for the abstract, minimal approach to her work. In this way there is nothing between the idea and the art. She waits... and waits.... for inspiration on how she can express whatever concept/trait she would like to express and how that can be done through the use of lines, grids, color fields. It is only when she has been visually inspired that she starts painting. Very fascinating. I think I'll look into whether the Philadelphia Art Museum has any of her work on display.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Feel Like Traveling?

Well all you need to do is listen to one of my favorite new musical groups, Rodrigo y Gabriela. I heard them first on WXPN, the only radio I listen to here in Philly. The station has introduced me to so many of my favorite artist... RyG are merely the latest. The video is pulled from their website. The best part to me comes near the end of the piece when the crank-up the speed.

I'd love to hear what you think about them. If you'd like to see more videos you can see them here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moonlight Memories

A dirt road . . .
acres of potato plants
white-flowered under the moon
Robert Spiess

There has been a lot of reminiscing going on around my family lately and I came across this beautiful haiku that brought to mind a personal memory of my own…

A moonlit night, a dirt road and a sense of adventure…

I had the wonderful luck in my early teens to go to Camp Pinecrest a number of times; for summer camp and also for church youth group retreats. I’m pretty sure it was on one of these retreats that a number of us from the group went on a nighttime hike. Our ultimate destination was a dilapidated old shack that was covered with kudzu, presumably haunted. I vividly remember walking down a dirt road with my friends and the moon shining so bright. At one point we came to a soybean field and it was so bright that the light was bouncing off the leaves in the field. I was immediately struck by wonder at this nighttime world that I had no idea existed. I wanted to stay and look at the field, forget the creepy house. I wanted to drink in this scene; become one with the night.

We took a pause in our journey to gaze upon the field, but soon the more adventurous, less contemplative kids in the group urged us on. I left the scene reluctantly, but carried it away with me, enriched.

A good memory. I’m glad it was awaken by the words of another.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In the Works

Here's a sneak peak at a knitting project I started yesterday. So what do you think it is? Hint, I've never made anything like it. I'll post the end product as soon as it's complete, so you won't be in suspense. Off for Sunday breakfast....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Challenging Myself

Jukebox Days
Acrylics & Collage on 8"x8" canvas
I joined a creative challenge this week. Crowabout has organized a weekly challenge where she posts a group of collage elements for us to work with every week. I'm not particularly excited about this piece, but excited about participating. I joined mid-week so I did not have a lot of time to work on something. The next set of collage elements posts tomorrow and I'll have a whole week to work with those. I can't wait.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's All About the Music

John Mayer
Originally uploaded by jay west photography
"It's all about the music" is the catch-phrase used by my favorite radio station here in Philly, WXPN. It's a public radio station that plays a variety of music; mostly singer-songwriter. And there are no commercials. I've been so spoiled that I just can't listen to commercial radio stations any more; the commercials are just too aggrevating. If you'd like to listen to the station yourself, they offer online listening here.

In order to make my blog a little more personal I thought I’d add a little music. I made a small playlist at They provide handy code so all I had to do was add a new page element and, there you go, music. I’ve tried to make the player handy to access so if our musical tastes aren’t the same you can easily pause the player in the left hand column.

I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Opening Up

My blog reading has changed a lot over the last year, moving away from Art & Soul teachers and participants, to individuals who may not even participate much in “art”. Instead their art is living and they share intimately their thoughts on that in their blogs. It’s inspired me to want to share more of myself here. Rest assured, I’ll still continue to post my art & craft doings here, but you can also expect to see other aspects of what occupies my mind and life on a daily basis. Hopefully that will mean I’m posting more, even during times when there’s no time or inclination to create.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Look What I Made

My oldest niece had her first baby a couple of weeks ago... a girl... Magnolia Clare. That makes me a great-aunt. Shocking! I'm very excited for my niece and felt inspired to pull my sewing machine out. It's been far too long since I've used it. I'm very pleased with the results. I hope it fits her. It looks sooooo long, but I guess she won't be tripping on it at 3 weeks. Look for more sweet treasures like this one to be posted soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

True Colors ATC
I made this very colorful ATC today. I'm really not very satisfied with it, but I did give it my best shot. Colored pencils are still more difficult than charcoal in my book. It's for a swap at Illustrated ATCs entitled Colorful Stylized Portraits. I'm much more please with a couple others I did for the swap. You can see them here and here. I found iATCs last month. It's a juried site, so you have to be voted in by a panel. I really hope my cards measure up. The swaps there are very inspiring. My first swap card returns are in the mail. They may even arrive as early as tomorrow.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Up & Running!

As the saying goes, "Out with the old and in with the new!" New computer that is. I'd hoped to get back to blogging as soon as I returned from Art & Soul, but my old computer had other ideas. My new one came this week and it's so nice and shiny. I usually don't get this way about "things"(or at least I like to tell myself I don't) but it's been 7 years since my last computer purchase. At this point I am enamored with my brand new toy. Tomorrow I'll share about what I've been doing art-wise, but I just wanted to dedicate today to my new toy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Still Alive!

I've been away for so, so long... But I'm starting to get really excited about Art & Soul later this month. This year all my classes are painting classes.