Books I Read This Week 2019 – 29

A decent amount of reading this week. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Disappearing Earth (4 stars): 4 stars just for the beautiful, beautiful writing in this story. There are many reviews that outline what happened so I won’t repeat more than just to say two girls suddenly disappear from a town and the novel follows the year after. Each chapter is a month into the disappearance and it’s centered around a different character. Each chapter could easily be a standalone chapter of its own and each chapter will both give you a bit of hope and break your heart into pieces. The atmosphere, the characters, the misogyny are all alive in this novel but nothing is as extraordinary as the author’s incredible writing. The descriptions and the use of language are unlike any other and will stay with you long after you finish this book. So will the ending.

Painting Masterclass (5 stars):  When I was in high school, Art History was my favorite elective, so it was with great excitement that I requested this book in netgalley. It easily managed to surpass my expectations. This book is broken down to sections by the subject of painting (nudes, figures, still life, etc.) and for each subject, it presents a wide array of masters using many different styles. Regardless of what your favorite style is, you are likely to find something you love here.

Each page has four sections: the art, a short background of the artist (often with interesting additional tidbits), the story and details of the art including the symbolism, and then a callout section with different techniques the artist used. This isn’t really teaching you the technique or breaking it out in enough detail for you to copy. It’s mostly calling attention to it and explaining it in a handful of sentences.

If you buy this book thinking it’s an art book to learn the masters’ techniques, I think you will be disappointed. If you buy it as a book to learn more about each amazing art piece and to dive into each maters use of different techniques, all the while getting a fantastic art history class, you will love this book.

huge thanks to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ever After (4 stars): I have taken several of Tamara Laporte’s classes (in fact, I am taking a class from her right now) and I have always loved her kind, thoughtful and generous approach to both doing and teaching art. I have not taken the Ever After class, mostly because Fairy Tales do not interest me. But since she’s an excellent teacher, and I’m always working on developing my own personal style I wanted to see how much I’d like the book. 

This book has three main types of content: 
– examples of art she and some contributors have made where they share their thinking and how they made a fairy tale their own. These come with step by step instructions to recreate the art. Not in a lot of detail but I’d say more than average. You can likely copy them using the steps.
– advice on things like how to work around your negative self-talk, find inspiration, develop your own symbolism, etc. on the way to finding how to work on listening to things that speak to you.
– and finally ways to make the art your own, i think this content is a bit thinner than i’d like. but in the end, there’s no magic to developing your style, it’s hard work and consistent work just like everything else in life, so I wasn’t super surprised by the type of advice around this.

I can always use more Tam in my life. Her kind and supportive message is always just right for me. Her art, while different than mine, is always loving and kind and I learn a lot from her each time. When I am stuck or just want to feel encouraged and supported, all I have to do is pull out a Tam book and I know I will feel the warmth of her support.

with gratitude to netgalley and quarto publishing group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is How You Lose the Time War (5 stars): “Some days Blue wonders why anyone ever bothered making numbers so small; other days she supposes even infinity needs to start somewhere.”

When I first started reading this novel, I was wildly confused. I didn’t understand the characters, the world building, or even what was going on. Had I not read about the time travel in the blurb, I am not sure I would have picked up on that at first either. 

As I started pondering what I had gotten myself into with this novel, I slowly found myself falling in love. After a few chapters, I didn’t even care a bit about any of those things. I wasn’t trying to figure out the plot or the world anymore. Not even the characters all that much.

“Blue sees her chosen name reflected everywhere around her: moon-slicked floes, ocean thick with drift ice, glass churned to liquid”

I completely fell in love with the writing of this story. With the imagery, the colors, the incredible choices of words. It was like reading poetry in prose format. It was like reading a painting. I can’t even describe how beautiful this story felt to read. 

“…every evening I see a red sky bleed over blue water and think of us.”

I fell in love with the characters and how they fall for each other. I fell in love with the ways they expressed their love and the creativity in the way they shared their letters with each other. The creativity in the way they solve the conundrums they find themselves in. The juxtaposition of the beauty of the world they create for each other vs the violent one they actually live in.

“But when I think of you, I want to be alone together. I want to strive agains and for. I want to live in contact. I want to be a context for you, and you for me.”

I can tell you that this story is weird and confusing and I am not sure I understood many of the things that happened in it. The world building was still blurry for me by the end. The plot, outside of their love for each other, had too many parts that left me unclear, too. But, alas, none of that mattered for me. The way this book made me feel surpassed anything else that mattered about the book. 

I fell in love with it hook, line and sinker.

Red, White, and Royal Blue (3 stars): Really enjoyed this sweet, cute, and funny story. It’s wonderful to see more and better representation in novels and this was my first m/m romance story to read. I enjoyed the characters and the storyline. The pace was fast and uplifting and yet still covered some serious topics. I hope this book’s success encourages even more and wider representation!

A Nearly Normal Family (3.5 stars): I found this novel very readable, especially considering how much I disliked most of the characters. I liked the pivoting from character to character in three sections instead of every chapter like most novels seem to do these days. I liked how each went back and forth in time but not in a systemic way as much as in a way that built up suspense. I also liked some of the moral questions posed by the story even if I didn’t necessarily like the way the novel resolves them. I think books that make you think are good. I don’t mind when I dislike the characters and I appreciated that while there was some sort of a twist here, it wasn’t one of those “i fundamentally think of this story differently” twists that assume the reader is stupid. It was windy but all within the range of plausible and interesting, to me. I also liked some of the content that was left open ended especially to emphasize that it wasn’t the point of the story. In the end, none of these characters will stay with me, I didn’t find myself empathizing with any of them even if I did empathize with the situation as a parent. Net, net it wasn’t one of my favorite reads but it was interesting and will stay with me a while.

Tea and Cake with Demons (4 stars): “Ambition that’s born from shame and self-loathing is powerful, but unfortunately it’s a fuel that doesn’t burn clean.”

This book is a great combination of Buddhist tenants laced with the perspective of self worth and practical exercises to try out some of the concepts and incorporate the ideas into your daily life. Some of these concepts weren’t new to me but others were. In some parts, I found myself getting confused about different titles and systems but the concepts underlying them were always interesting and valuable and she did a fantastic job tying them to tangible examples.

“We are all deeply significant, and not at all special. We are all profoundly valuable, whole, complete, and sufficient, and there is nothing unique about this. This distinction can bring us back down to earth and to a sense of steady humility that doesn’t diminish our worth.”

If you’re struggling with self-worth, or even just trying to build out more awareness and intentionality in your life, there is so much gold in this book.

Thank you to Sounds True and Netgalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

And there we go, an okay week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.

Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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