Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Review: The Red Tent

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I wanted to LOOOOVE this book. I really did. I went in with a misguided view of what this books is about. I thought it was all about the "perks" of being a woman: menstruation and childbirth.

I wish I had gone into it knowing that's not all it was about. I wish it wasn't called "the red tent" because it is so much more than that. I feel like the title caused me to be misled.

I had a difficult time getting into this book. I believe this is due to a few factors: 1. I don't like reading books with unusual names, I hate trying to figure out how to pronounce it and my OCD makes me stop and read the name each time it is printed. And then each time I get pissed because I don't know if I'm pronouncing it correctly. (OK, that is my issue only, I realize.) 2. The beginning was full of family lineage and it was annoying me trying to remember who was who and how they are connected, etc. 3. Due to the trouble of the first two issues, I really needed to concentrate on the book and that is near impossible when hearing "Mom! Look!," "Mom! Watch this!"

So, this book took me longer than most to get through. All through the book I kept persevering. I would get caught up in the story, and then get annoyed at the injustices of being a woman and then the awesomeness of being a woman.  And then I'd wonder about the bible story of Dinah. Admittedly, I know nothing of it. (Also, is her name pronounced DEE-nah or DIE-nah?!)

Did I like this book? Yes, but it is not what I thought it would be. I guess I just had a difficult time letting go of my preconceived notions; once I did, I enjoyed it. (As an aside, why can't I just read a book for pleasure, why does everything have to be a problem with me?!)

I was sad when the book, and Dinah's life, ended. I came away with a few thoughts:
  •  No matter the time period, it is difficult to be a woman.
  • I am glad I am not sharing a husband with my sisters.
  • My daughter and I probably would have both died during her birth.
  • Tampons are awesome.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: Bossypants

I've heard good things about this book. I saw it in paperback. For 20% off. I bought it. I read over two days. It's a super quick read and very entertaining.

I preferred reading about Tina Fey's childhood/teen years as opposed to her adult life on SNL and 30 Rock. To be honest, I sort of skimmed over the 30 Rock stuff, it just wasn't doing anything for me. Tina's writing about her childhood was wonderful. Funny and poignant. For me, one of the funniest sections is when she is referencing Joyce DeWitt from Three's Company. She's commenting how, during the 70s, blonde was "it" and all brunettes had to aspire to was Joyce DeWitt. (Woah! That rhymed.)

“If I ever meet Joyce Dewitt I will first apologize for having immediately punching her in the face and then I will thank her. For a while she looked like a Liza Minnelli doll that had been damaged in a fire, at least she didn’t look like everyone else on TV.” 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sketchbook Project

Familiar with the Sketch Book Project? You pay $25, get a sketch book, do what you want with it, send it back, and then it goes on exhibit with other sketch books. A traveling art exhibit. Kinda cool, right? Right.

I have no clue what the "theme" of my book is; hence "Undecided."

I was wracking my brain. Nothing was coming to mind except a project I did as my brief stint as an art education major (this is why time travel is necessary: I could go back, and tell myself to stay in the program; although, I'm sure I would not have listened to myself. ) Anyhow...

The cumulative semester project was to create a book. About anything. Out of anything. I was struggling to come up with a creative idea. I eventually decided on creating a simple book that looked like it was found in the woods somewhere. I imagined it to be an old book of nature prints some young girl created to remember her afternoons in the woods. Yeah, so teenage-ary, I know. BUT...

I decided to create something similar because I still love the idea. And I love the making things look old. I love creating art that's time is questionable. Making new things that look old.

I aged the paper with teabags, water, and fire. Of course my child had to make a big fat mess with teabags and water, but whatever. It kept her busy while I worked.

Removed the staples and cover; soaking in a cake pan with hot water and decaf teabags.

Removed from water; drying.

Sprinkled paper with some brown water color.

Burnt edges.

All dried and aged.

 I've done some watercolor prints on a few pages. (Not yet photographed). I don't love it, but it is what it is. I need to just create and not think.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

You know how you're not supposed to choose a book based on it's cover? Yeah, I know that is metaphorical for not judging people based on their physical appearance. BUT, it had to come from somewhere, right?

Yeah, well, the only reason I selected this book is because of its cover. It drew me in. Kudos to the person who was in charge of that whole thing.

I went over to see the photograph, picked up the book, scanned the back cover, read the description and then flips through the pages. Holy fuck! I need to get this book. There are old, bizarre photographs throughout the pages. The photos, while some occasionally manipulated, are mostly found photographs (list of the owners/contributors in the back of the book). Seriously, how could I not get it?

It is a quick, easy read, but still very good. I don't want really want to give anything away, but this book has a lot of what I long for when I read these sorts of fantasy stories: mystery, secret places, and time travel. So cool. The book's ending is left open for another tale, and, based on my reading about the book, another book is in the works, as is a movie... apparently Tim Burton is eyeballing it up! Perfect match, really.

Also, I'm looking forward to October's release of Talking Pictures. It is a book with a collection of found photographs. The description of the book is exactly why I love photographs: " ...Ransom Riggs's Talking Pictures is a haunting collection of antique found photographs—with evocative inscriptions that bring these lost personal moments to life...Each image in Talking Pictures reveals a singular, frozen moment in a person’s life, be it joyful, quiet, or steeped in sorrow. Yet the book’s unique depth comes from the writing accompanying each photo: as with the caption revealing how one seemingly random snapshot of a dancing couple captured the first dance of their 40-year marriage, each successive inscription shines like a flashbulb illuminating a photograph’s particular context and lighting up our connection to the past."

Good shit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

As previously mentioned, I am enamored with witches. I think I have been most of my life, well, at least since I was about 6 or so when I started reading The Worst Witch book series by Jill Murphy. I have also been attracted to things simple things of the past: old barns, the smell of musty wood, cottages, and thick, worn books.

Lately, I have been reading witch-inspired books. It started last summer with The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. True, the book was predictable, but I still loved every page.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished The Daughters of Witching Hill. I loved this book mainly because it is historical fiction. No present day woman discovering her family's history in witchcraft, it is all in the past. The dirty, gritty past filled with horrific details.

Last night I finished the first book in a trilogy: A Discovery of Witches. It was slow to get my interest, the I became very interested, then I became annoyed, then I just felt obligated to finish it. So, my review, I sort of liked it.

Firstly, I was disappointed when I realized that it was like an adult-version of the Twilight saga, of which, I have read none. I am not sure why, I thought it would be like Deliverance Dane, in that it is a woman from the present discovering her past. Not true. It is in present day. A present day that not only has human, but witches, vampires, and daemons (bugs the hell out of me how it's spelled). The latter three, can sense each other out, but humans do not know of their existence. That right that annoyed me.

Perhaps the thing that annoyed me the most, how the author kept insisting that the main character is a strong and independent woman, but her vampire boyfriend keeps rescuing her, and aiding her, and comforting her. Blah, blah, blah. They have known each other for a few weeks are so deeply in love that they are willing to die for each other. WHATEVER. Maybe I'm too much of a realist (says the woman who a few paragraphs up declared her love of witches), but seriously, I just can't get into that bullshit. I guess I can suspend my sense of reality a bit when dealing with supernatural beings, but when it comes to love, something that IS real, I just can't be so flighty. I wish it wasn't a love story.

I think this book could be really good, minus the love shit. So, I think I will read the second book, but not any time soon, even though it's not even out until next month. And, I will read it because it is about time travel, and I am interested in that too. Quantum Leap? Still one of my favorite shows. Oh boy!