SIA: “Venus”

For this SIA, I’ve chosen a very simple look. Chosen by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey, this challenge involves a poster that’s part of a series of posters created for the recently discovered exoplanets (planets that are outside of our solar system, hence the prefix “exo”). You can read more about these awesome worlds both here and here. Some of these things dwarf even the “Mighty Jupiter”, the largest planet in our solar system. For those of you who know me well, I’m a HUGE astronomy buff and could probably talk all day on the subject.

But I will spare you all the lecture as I’m not feeling that great and need to retreat back to my bed. Been sick all day but needed to get this post ready for launch on Monday.

So let me cut to the chase and show you what I’ve come up with for this SIA.

Venus Poster SIA

Like I said, very simple. The poster has a very pastel look to it with lots of pinks and greys/silver colors. And since I don’t have any pink in my closet of clothing (I doubt I’d wear it, even if I had), I opted to go with the more silver-like colors that are seen in the poster, using my light gray shirt. And my black pants and tiny black logo on the shirt, cover the bit of black that’s seen in the poster. Incidentally, the logo you see is the company that my mom works for, Summa Care. I think my mom brought a few shirts home a few years back and had given me one, which I have never worn, until now. It’s way too big for me but I thought that it would be perfect for this challenge when I found it in my closet.

So that’s it for now, dear readers. Be sure to check in to Salazar’s blog on Wednesday to see how everyone else interpreted this SIA challenge.

Okay, back to bed with me…

Postcard Post: “Evening Forest”

Hey there, dear readers. Got another postcard to share with you all. I call it Evening Forest, as the bit of glow that you see in the sky behind the trees, makes me think of a sunset. Pretty simple.

Evening Forest Postcard

Like my last current postcard, Quiet Pond, seen here, I based this one off of one of Bob Ross’s paintings that he did, called Island in the Wilderness. You can watch how he did his painting here.

But unlike my last Bob Ross inspired painting, this one is somewhat disappointing. For one thing, the so-called “reflections” that I tried to do of the trees in the water (bottom right) did not come out good at all. They look more like deformed stalactites that you’d see in a cave. They are way too dark.

Another thing that bothers me about this one is the bottom left, where I’ve tried to paint the bushes that Bob did in his painting. They look more like really bad mustard stains that you can’t get out of your shirt, no matter how many times you throw it in the washing machine. Ugh….

But still, what do you expect with watercolor? It’s hard to do layering of color properly with this particular medium. Oil paint would have probably been better, if I had any. Oh well. You do the best that you can with what you’ve got.

And besides, it’s not all doom and gloom here. I really liked how I did the evening sky with the trees in front of it, fading back into the space. And the little sticks and twigs that I added along the water bank are pretty cool too I think.

So overall, not bad. I hope to do better paintings (whether Bob Ross inspired or otherwise) in the future and maybe give my watercolors a mini hiatus and use color pencils or oil pastels (which I used a little in the end to enhance some of the green on the trees).

Hope everyone has a great week!

P.S. Like with my last post, I put this one on a timer as well so that it will go public around 7am (Eastern Standard Time), Monday morning. Since I found success in this method the last time I did it, I deem that it’s worth doing again.

SIA: growARTS Painting #2

Before I begin, I want to announce that I’m trying something totally different for this post. I’m going to try and set this post so that it publishes at a certain time on Monday, May 8th. I’ve noticed that several of my “blogging buddies” manage to post daily at nearly the same time, which I think is pretty awesome. And I’ve always wondered how they can post so consistently. So I did a little research and found out that WordPress has a handy dandy little feature that allows you to publish posts at a set time so that you don’t have to worry about being in front of your computer when you want to make a post go live.

So my SIA post will be my test, if you will, to see if this works. If it does, it should go live at around 7am (Eastern Standard Time), Monday, May 8th. Fingers crossed.

So, onto this week’s challenge.

This week’s SIA challenge was curated by Erin on her blog, over on Loop Looks. She has chosen another growARTS piece, which you can read more about on her blog.

Grow Arts SIA 3

I went with a pretty obvious choice of colors for this one; black shirt and khaki pants (sorry, no purple in my wardrobe), similar colors to what we see in the painting.

But like I told Erin when I submitted my photo, the problem that I have with my outfit is my pants looking too “baggy”, which I don’t like. They are too long for me and a trip to a good tailor might be in order. But for a quick fix, I guess I could have just rolled the bottoms of them a little. Live and learn, huh…

So there you have it. Be sure to check out Erin’s blog tomorrow to see how everyone else interpreted this latest SIA installment.

 

Postcard Postings #6: A Look At Past Works: “Fire In The Sky”

I don’t know if I ever gave this next postcard an “official title”. Like many of my earlier ones, it was more about just making them, making sure they looked good and mailing them off to my pen pal. It wasn’t until late last year when I really started to give my art names.

Fire In The Sky Postcard

So this one here went unnamed for some time. As I was looking at it earlier today and thinking of a good name for it for today’s post, quite a few came to mind, ranging from simple names like Volcano and Lava to very elaborate names like Fire Bomb Blitz and Magma Mayhem. In the end, I sort of fell in between the two and settled on Fire In The Sky. It’s simple and to the point. I decided on this name because I want the focus of the piece to be more about the light emitted from the spewing volcanoes, lighting up the dark sky in the background, as opposed to the lava that’s flowing from them.

In any kind of painting or drawing, balance is always an important factor. If you don’t have good balance in a picture, it tends to look “lopsided” or “top/bottom heavy” and it won’t “read” right to many viewers. So I try to incorporate this sense of “balance” in my postcards, particularly in the later ones as I continue to develop my technique.

And for me, the light that I show from the tops of the two volcanoes helps balance out the very “bottom heavy” look of this picture with the lava flowing on the right and the melted rock on the left. And looking at this picture that I did with colored pencils back in 2015, makes me feel very hot, like skin melting, sweaty, blistery hot. Quite a feeling to have, considering how cold it’s been here this past week. We are in the month of May, aren’t we? Sure doesn’t feel like it so far…

Have a great weekend! Hoping to get another postcard posting up next week!

April Book Reviews 2017

If you have been reading the blog long enough, then you know what time it is. Yep, it the end of the month and it’s time for some good ‘ol book reviews. I’m quite impressed with myself this time because I have two books to present this time around as I managed to finish more than one book in a month’s time, which is pretty impressive for me. Now grant that this book that I’m about to talk about is under 200 pages (and was really captivating if I might add) might have something to do with me being able to knock out two reads in one month, then fine, so be it.

And captivating this first book is indeed. It’s called A Friendship For Today by Patricia C. McKissack.

A Friendship For Today Cover

It is about a young 10 year old African American girl living in the 1950s in Kirkland, Missouri (real town name, Kirksville) and her struggles to adjust going to an all white school after her school, Attucks Elementary, closes.

Rosemary, our young protagonist, faces many challenges when the new school year begins for her. Her closest and best friend, J.J. Stenson (James Johnson Stenson) is suddenly struck with Polio (remember, this story is set slightly before the Polio vaccine was fully developed) and is hospitalized, her parents’ marriage is deteriorating and fights often occur in her presence. But probably the biggest challenge of all that Rosemary must face is attending Robertson Elementary school and having to face the ongoing prejudice of being the only African American student in her class. Her friend, J.J., would have been in her class as well, if not for his sudden illness. At first, it is very difficult for her, as you can imagine. It is particularly difficult when her next door neighbor, Grace Hamilton (nicknamed, “Grace The Tasteless” by Rosemary), is in the same class as her, and is not shy or timid about displaying her racist feelings towards her. But as time goes on, both she and Rosemary begin to see eye to eye when they discover that they share many of the same troubles such as broken family relationships and being excluded by others, particularly by a little snot nosed uppity girl named Katherine Hogan, who I can guarantee that you will not like as you read about her in the story. Both Rosemary and Grace eventually become friends and start hanging out more and more. And when some of the other kids in Rosemary’s class see this, they too begin to join them and begin forming friendships with the two girls. By the end of the story, both Grace and Rosemary go their separate ways, but each takes with them a good lesson, which, from what I can gather, is that there is more to a person than just outside appearances and that they are not so different after all.

This was a nice story overall and it had a fairly happy ending. Actually, it has several small happy endings as the book has a few mini subplots that all basically focus on one theme: hope. One of these subplots is the appearance of “Rags”, a battered cat found on some railroad tracks by Rosemary and J.J. that appears to have been struck by a moving train. By all rights, “Rags” should have died, based on the grisly description of her appearance when Rosemary and J.J. find her. But Rosemary stalwartly cares and nurtures her back to health and by the end of the book, ends up having 3 kittens! Awww….!

So that’s one subplot. Another is the correspondence between  Rosemary and J.J. by letters when J.J. is being treated for his Polio illness in the hospital. They both remain hopeful that he will recover and be able to come home. And sure enough, by the end of the book, J.J. is out of the hospital. And with the help of leg braces, he is able to move around on his own again, which makes for another mini happy ending here, sort of.
There are a few more subplots in the story that you’ll see as you read the book. These were just two of the major ones that I found to be prevalent to the book’s overall theme. How many more can you find?

This was a quick read as I finished more than half of it in one day (it’s only 172 pages). The author, Mrs. McKissack, writes a small note at the end of the book, stating that much of Rosemary’s life reflected her own life growing up in the 50s and having to deal with prejudice and racism. And after reading so many memoirs and biographies the past few months, I felt that this story, though a work of fiction, was like a sort of memoir of the author. And while not as heavy on the horrible concepts of racism and segregation (this is a children’s book after all) as an adult book would probably be, it still makes a point to demonstrate that the struggles that Rosemary faced were real and that kids today need to be aware of it.

And speaking of the author, I discovered something both interesting and shocking right after I finished reading her book. I finished this book on April 16th, Easter Sunday to be exact. And as I always like to do when I finish a good book, I look up the author’s name to find out more about them. Well, to my horror, it is with great sadness that I discovered that Mrs. McKissack had just passed away a little over a week before I finished her book. She died on April 7th, 2017. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s like one chance in a million that I would pick a book randomly, out of the blue (as how I usually do, working in a library), decide to read it, and finish it shortly after the author of that book has died, without even knowing that this happened prior to my choosing it and reading it. I mean, what do you call that?!?…

Well, I hope that I am honoring Mrs. McKissack’s life by writing my review and publishing it on my blog here. It was a good story and I think that she would be pleased to know that I enjoyed it.

In closing, I give A Friendship For Today a 4 out of 5. I really liked the story and now knowing how much of Rosemary’s life reflects that of Mrs. Mckissack’s, I have an even greater admiration for this story and its powerful message. I bumped it down one rate as I feel like Rosemary’s and Grace’s relationship, though special, was too one dimensional. I think that more of their story could have been told and explored so that we, the reader, could truly get to know both girls, their similarities and differences, and really help guide their friendship into something great. But besides that, it was well written and I would recommend it to anyone, especially to young readers. Great book! R.I.P. Mrs. Mckissack…

My second book for this month, Valkyrie: The Runaway, is the second book of Kate O’Hearn’s new Valkyrie series, that I started last June (seen here), which was outstanding.

Valkyrie The Runaway Cover

I literally couldn’t put that book down. While the ending of the first one sounded like it was the end for the two main characters, the indication that a second book coming out to continue their story, excited me immensely.

In this second book of Kate’s new saga, our heroes, Freya and Archie (who is now a “ghost” living in Asgard), are sent down to Midgard (Earth) by Odin to retrieve a Valkyrie that was banished there centuries ago. But this is not so simple a task as a war between the realms (10 in all with Midgard and Asgard being two of them) is nearing. The frost and fire giants from their respective realms, wish to wage war with the people of Asgard, and Odin, the leader of Asgard, seems to constantly be in contention with those living in these other realms.

To make matters worse, the lost Valkyrie that Freya and Archie are searching for, has been living in Midgard for so long that she has started a family of her own among humans and some real “family mess” takes place when Freya discovers that she has family among them and is torn between carrying out Odin’s will and protecting her newly discovered relatives.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, not quite as excitable as its predecessor, but it is nice to see all the main characters return in this book, as well as learn about some new ones that made an appearance in the first book but were not named. One example of this is the Dark Searcher (beings who sort of serve as Odin’s “police force”) that mercilessly chased after Freya when she was in Midgard without Odin’s permission. In the first book, he killed Archie, Freya’s best friend, while trying to fight him. In this book, we learn the Dark Searcher’s name is Dirian and that his beef with Freya is only the beginning. He was dishonored (had one of his wings clipped off) and forever confined to Utgard (mentioned next) by Odin after the events of the first book. Near the beginning of the second book, he kills her! But because she was in Asgard at the time, and is practically immortal, she is revived.

We also learn that there is indeed a sort of “purgatory” or “shadow realm” that was not mentioned in the first book. It’s called Utgard (mentioned above) and is the place where the Dark Searchers, frost giants, dark elves and other diabolical denizens reside. But based on how it is portrayed in this story, it doesn’t seem to be the same as how we would think of as being a sort of “hell”, in which evildoers go to be punished. Like with Asgard and Midgard, and the other not yet known realms, Utgard is just another place where certain beings live in and is not a place of eternal torment and damnation.

So I found these elements to be quite interesting. I also learned something quite gripping that I wasn’t aware of when I was reading the first book. Many of the characters in the story are based off of actual Norse myths, which the author makes note of in her brief explanation of some of the characters and places mentioned in her books. She notes that many of the characters in her books are based off of the old Norse myths, with the exception of the Dark Searchers, whom which she claims that she could not find any reference to Odin having any sort of “police force” in the original myths, Archie of course, and a few other characters that are introduced in this book. But characters like Freya, Thor, Loki; are all from Norse Myths. And similar to the Greek Myths that many of us are probably more familiar with, these characters were made into gods and had incredible powers and interesting personalities similar to the Greek gods (Thor being compared to Zeus with their theme being thunder, or Loki being compared to Hermes as both are considered “tricksters”, etc.) And I must admit that after reading these first two books, I am finding that I want to know more about Norse mythology and will probably present a book here on the blog later on at some point. We’ll see.

One thing that bothered me about this book is how it ended. A battle was about to take place between a group of Dark Searchers led by Thor, the Angels of Death led by Azrael (the leader of the Angels) and part of Freya’s family, with her uncle Vonni (introduced in this book) as the leader. And while the battle never took place (thanks to a speech made by Vonni), the ending was so clichéd that it may as well have been a freakin’ episode of Full House (which by the way, I can’t stand to watch, though it’s better than shows like Big Bang Theory, which I hate even more). As I was reading the ending, I could just hear the sappy music playing in my head as it’s supposed to help make us feel like we’ve actually learned some moral lesson about life that our parents should have taught us in the first place. Ugghh…

So I have to give this one a 3.5 out of 5. Like I said, it’s not as good as the first one, where the focus was on Freya and her human friend, Archie, but on Freya’s uncle discovering who he really is, as he was born from a Valkyrie and has a VERY close connection to the Dark Searchers, which you’ll learn about if you read this book. And learning about Freya having a twin brother adds a bit of excitement to the mix as well, though it’s not quite as good as the Freya/Archie relationship from the first book.

Still, I look forward to the next book in the series. And if Kate’s Valkyrie series is anything like her previous one, Pegasus (which I haven’t read but there are 6 books total), then I have the feeling that Freya and Archie’s adventures are far from over. I can’t wait!

And that’s all for me. Two books in one month; that’s like some sort of a record for me. Perhaps next month, I’ll try for three? No? Okay, I won’t hold my breath. But we’ll see what I can do! Be sure to tune in next month to see what I’m reading next! I’ve already got my stack of books ready to go! Hope you got yours! And be sure to check out Salazar’s and Kezzie’s respective blogs (14 Shades of Grey and Kezzie AG) to see what books they have been reading lately. Our book club is growing!!! 🙂

Two Posts For The Price Of One: SIA & Postcard

I’m going to try something a little different for this post. I’m going to combine my SIA posting with a small segment of my latest postcard that I painted. I was supposed to write about the postcard last week sometime, but I never got around to doing it, which I’m not exactly happy about, but that’s how it goes sometimes…

So let’s get right to it. Here’s what I did for this week’s SIA challenge, chosen by Jen on her blog, Librarian For Life And Style .

Jogakbo SIA

Jen chose a patchwork piece from Korea called a “jogakbo”. You can read more about this piece (as well as see a picture of it on Jen’s blog) here .

Though I like this patchwork art, it was a bit difficult for me to find the right kind of shirt to best go with this SIA (without repeating a previous look). And if memory serves me, I wore this sweater for a previous SIA challenge curated by Jen called “Capax Infiniti”, for its neutral reds and grays. So I struck out on the whole “not repeating myself” thing, but this was the closest thing that I could come up with. But ironically enough, I also wore this sweater to the museum one time and the background behind me would have been perfect for this current SIA. Check it out below!

Me In Art 2

Really makes you dizzy just looking at it, doesn’t it? It’s like standing in another dimension as it’s hard to distinguish between the wall and the floor. I actually wouldn’t mind having at least one room at home painted like this, though it’d have to be in black, gray and white. 😉

Anyway, getting back to my outfit, I couldn’t really decide what to go with for this SIA, so I took the neutral route, as those are the colors that I saw in the patchwork. And like my SIA colleagues have said before, one of the best things about these challenges is that you can interpret them any way that you wish, which makes it fun and gives you a lot of freedom. And given my lack of fancy attire, this concept works in my favor.

So there you have it folks. Be sure to check in on Jen’s blog Tuesday, April 25th for the round-up to see how everyone else went about in interpreting this piece. Should be fun!

Okay, now for the second part of my post. I’m presenting my latest postcard that I painted last weekend. Take a look below:

Quiet Pond Postcard

I call this Quiet Pond. Done with watercolor paint, I would say that this is probably one of my best postcards that I’ve done up to date. And unlike many of my previous postcards that I’ve painted, this one was done with a more “heavy” layering of the watercolor paint. What I mean by that is, I used less water and applied the paint more thickly than normal for a watercolor painting so that it appears to look more “acrylic”, as opposed to the more “washed out” look of a standard watercolor piece. I’d say that it worked out rather well, wouldn’t you say?

And I can’t take all the credit for this painting. It was inspired by one of my favorite artists of all time, Bob Ross . For those of you who may have seen some of his videos, or like me, had the pleasure of watching him live on TV back in the early 90s, you know that he would often “invite” the viewers to paint along with him as he painted during his 30 minute TV shows each week. Well, after just watching him paint all of these years, I finally decided to go ahead and paint along with him, figuratively speaking of course. You can see how I was inspired to paint this postcard by watching the same video I did, here . And what’s nice about doing it now, as opposed to back then in 1984 (I was only a year old then) is that we can do an instant replay when we need to re-watch a section that we missed, or pause with a touch of a button or screen, so that we can render the right colors in our paintings as we paint along. By the way, it took me a lot longer than 30 minutes to paint my postcard; more like an hour at best.

A lot has changed in the past 33 years. But what hasn’t changed is the love of art and how anyone (and that includes all of you reading this post) can pick up a brush and some paints and can make art too. Try it sometime. If Bob were still alive today, he’d tell you the same thing.

So there you have it dear readers; two posts for the price of one. While I didn’t really want to combine my SIA post with my postcard one, it was the best that I could do, as I don’t know when I’ll have time to post anything new on the blog anytime soon. If anyone knows how I can write posts ahead of time and post them later, I’d love to know. I’m still trying to become a good blogger and I still don’t know all of the rules yet. I’m just sort of figuring them out as I go along. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading! See you next post.

 

Postcard Post: “Untitled”

It’s time for another postcard posting. It’s been a while since I updated the blog with one, so I figured that now is as good a time as any. Plus, I have a little extra time, so that always helps.

I’m displaying a new one today. I painted this one over the weekend, mostly because I just felt the need to break out my watercolor paints and make something, as it has been a while. Here’s what I came up with:

Untitled Postcard 2

So as you can see, it’s pretty simple with nothing really special that pops out at you. I did it in about 30 minutes, which I often try to model all of my postcards after one of my favorite artists of the 20th century, the late Bob Ross. You can read more about him here.

It is currently “untitled” (if any of you wish to throw out any suggestions for a name on this postcard, I’m all ears). And while I usually try to have some sort of picture in my mind as to what I want my postcards to look like, with this one, I just sort of threw some watercolors together and came up with this, like throwing in your food ingredients into a food processor and coming out with a curious concoction in the end. This is what I did for this postcard. I could have rendered the sky a little better and gave the mountains a little more “personality” (it looks like something out of a coloring book). But for pushing a brush around on a blank card for 30 minutes, it’s not too bad. Hoping to showcase better and more thought out pieces in the near future.

SIA: “Monmon Cats”

You know what time it is. Yep, it’s time for another SIA presentation!

This week’s challenge is curated by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey. She chose the work, Monmon Cats, by Japanese artist, Kazuaki Horitomo. You can see an image of her work here and also read more about her and her art from the handy dandy links that Salazar provided on her blog.

I just couldn’t pass this one up. Though I do not own any cats, I loved this piece for its gray, monotone-like appearance, which suits me just fine, based on my love of grays and blacks. This is what I came up with:

Monmon Cats SIA 2

Not too bad I must say. But I must admit that I’m not 100% happy with it. I mean, sure I got the whole “dark and light stripes” look with my shirt going for me here. But it just doesn’t quite appeal to me like I had hoped that it would. Though I must admit that I like this picture a lot better than the one I took a few days prior to this one. Check it out below:

Monmon Cats SIA

See the difference? I had thought that taking pictures inside would be better for this SIA, as I was really hoping for a white background, or some other background that lacked color. Plus, the sun had already gone down when I took this photo and I wasn’t sure that I’d be granted the opportunity to get another photo in before Tuesday, so this was all I had at the moment. But the lighting wasn’t quite right and I didn’t like my posture (you try posing well with only 3-4 hours sleep). I looked tired in my picture here.

So I was thankful to be able to get a better one snapped before the round-up and the top picture will be the one you see on Salazar’s blog tomorrow.

And while I got the stripes element in to represent the stripes seen in Horitomo’s painting, I wish I could have done a little bit more to make my picture a bit more exciting. Oh well. It is what it is.

Be sure to check Salazar’s blog tomorrow to see how everyone else interpreted this great piece!

February & March Book Reviews 2017

It’s time for another book review here on the blog. I’m a few days early this time around as I finished my monthly reads early. So rather than wait until the last day of the month, as I’ve done since starting my blog, I decided to post now.
I admit that I have been a bit reluctant in posting the reviews lately because I’ve been getting a strong hunch that no one will read them on here. That’s part of the reason I missed February’s review, even though I had a book that I was ready to talk about. Personal blogger’s discouragement…
 However, since I missed February, I now have two books to talk about in this review, so it’s double the fun. The reviews are mostly to help me after I finish a book, as it’s sort of like a mini book report. Writing them helps me to retain what I have read and allows me to analyze what I got out of reading it.
So whether or not if anyone reads the reviews, for now, I still intend to write them.
So the first book that I have to present is an autobiography that is fairly good. It’s called An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski.
An Invisible Thread Book Cover
This book tells the heartwarming true story about a woman and a young boy, and their unlikely but unique friendship by way of a simple act of kindness. I’m not going to go into their story too much with this review as the book can clearly speak for itself and doesn’t need my commentary. I highly recommend that you read it for yourselves and decide what you think of it rather than going by my review here. But I will say that out of all of the books that I have read in the past that share similarity to this one, this particular story is probably the most touching (the brown bag story that is mentioned in here had me in tears, seriously).
To give you a quick synopsis of the story, Laura Schroff, a sales business executive encounters Maurice Maczyk, a young panhandler on a street corner in Manhattan, New York in the 1980s. After being turned down when he asked Laura for money for food, she at first ignores Maurice and keeps walking. But a second later, she stops, turns back around and walks back to him, agreeing to take him to McDonalds for lunch rather than give him money. And it’s this simple act that sparks a lifelong friendship between the 35 year old woman and the 11 year old boy that has lasted up to the present day.
I won’t go into the details of their story. As I said, the best thing to do in order to fully grasp and appreciate Laura’s and Maurice’s story is to read the book for yourselves. It’s a quick read as it only took me about 2-3 days to read it; it’s captivating, if nothing else. I couldn’t put it down.
I usually like to wait until the end of my review to rate a book. But this time, I’m rating it before I finish my review as I want to say why I gave it the kind of rating that I did. I give An Invisible Thread a 3 out of 5. While Laura’s and Maurice’s story was touching and very heart warming, I found it to be somewhat “sub par” as far as how it was written. If you recall back when I was posting my reviews on Salazar’s blog, 14 Shades of Grey, I reviewed another book that had a similar feel to it called I Will Always Write Back, co-authored by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. They were pen pals that wrote to each other with the girl, Caitlin, becoming friends with Martin and the two helped each other in their own unique way. Another book I read a few years back was called Hope Runs, co-authored by Claire Diaz and Samual Ikua Gachagua. This is also very similar to the current book that I am reviewing here. But notice what I said for both of these books that I mentioned. They were co-authored by the people who’s stories were being told, not by an outside party. Caitlin, Martin, Claire and Samual all have one thing in common: they each told their story from their point of view. That, I believe, makes for a stronger, more believable way of co-authoring a book, which they have all done with their respective books. But this did not happen with An Invisible Thread. Throughout the whole book, we only hear from Laura’s point of view. We never see or hear Maurice’s point of view at all. I mean sure we hear Maurice’s side and about his life, which is great. But it’s all from Laura’s viewpoint. I feel that this greatly weakened the overall flow and story telling element that the other books I mentioned above managed to have. And I found it strange that the person who co-authored the book with Laura, is not really a part of Laura’s and Maurice’s story and only gets a sort of “honorable mention” in the dedication portion at the book’s end.
So that was a bit of a let down while reading this book. I still think that it’s a great inspirational story and I’m glad that I found it, which originally was by way of a children’s Christmas book of the same name, that tells a very condensed version of their experience. But I think that it would have made for better reading if Maurice had more of a say so and told his part of their experience rather than have Laura tell it all.
Another thing that sort of weakened the book was how Laura would “interrupt” herself in the middle of telling a story about her and Maurice and suddenly shift over to an incident that happened in her past, usually involving her relationship with her father. And while this adds great dynamics in how her past coincides with Maurice’s, I felt that it broke up too much of the overall story, as it happened within the same chapter oftentimes. I think it would have flowed better if she had given these excerpts of her past their own chapter as it would allow the reader to have a better sense of continuity and good “reader flow” (my own personal phrase) and eliminate confusion.
But other than these two flaws, the book was still very good and I enjoyed reading it. It again reminds me that people can have love and care for each other, despite outside appearances and differences. The heart is what matters most. And if you enjoy these kinds of real life stories, you will love this book. Go read it!
Okay, so the next book that I have to present to you is also an autobiography, like the last one. It’s called Threading My Prayer Rug by Sabeeha Rehman.
threading-my-prayer-rug-cover
I’ve made mention of this book several times in previous reviews and now I finally can write a review on it. This is the book that my newly formed book club (outside of the blog) chose to read for March. And why not? March is Women’s History Month after all. So how perfect is this that I get to read about a great woman? I’d say that the timing was impeccable.
And once again, I will give my disclaimer about not being judgmental about someone’s life, but rating the book solely on how it was written.
Mrs. Rehman, in my opinion, did a superb job in conveying to her readers her story and really brought to life her experience as a young immigrant in the US during the 1970s. She has a way of telling you a story based on truth by telling it like a story. It was like reading a novel and oftentimes, I felt that I was reading a novel, as opposed to an autobiography. It’s witty, clever, sarcastic (without being mean) and directly personal. What I mean by that is, she will often write as if she is talking directly to the reader. For example, she will often make reference to life in how it was before the whole 21st century phenomenon came about and the majority of the world’s population lives off of their smart phones. And at least twice in the book, she refers to the younger generation as “Millennials” (those of us born between the mid 1980s and the late 2000s). I recall her mentioning the use of a phone book, and she briefly explained to the “Millennials” that that was what people used before the era of smart and iPhones. I’m sort of in between the “Generation X” and “Millennial” eras, so much of what she refers to, I know about. And yes, I have actually used a phone book in my time as well as a rotary dial phone!
Homework assignment: go look up rotary dial phone if you don‘t know what that is. 😛
So it’s the clever way of writing (like what I explained above) that she uses that makes this a great and captivating read. And of course, her story is quite fascinating as well. It is a wonderful book for everyone (for both Muslim and non-Muslim readers) and I guarantee that you will not be able to put this book down. At least, I wasn’t able to.
So overall, I give Threading My Prayer Rug a 5 out of 5.
Be sure to check back here next month to see what book, or books I managed to get my hands on next. And be sure to check Salazar’s blog, 14 Shades of Grey, to catch her reads for March as well. We’re trying to expand our book club here on our respective blogs so feel free to join in! Later!

SIA: growARTS Painting

It’s SIA time once again and this time, it was Erin’s turn to curate the inspirational art for the challenge. She chose a piece from the growARTS program, which you can see and learn more about on her blog at Looplooks.net.

The piece she chose depicts two red roses set against a beige background with what appears to be little flower embellishments spread all around it. Very cute! 🙂

I was very enthusiastic about participating in this SIA challenge as the program which hosts the various artworks that are created, helps encourage people to become artists and express themselves through art. And if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, then you know that I’m all about art and expressing one’s self through art. A good portion of it is about art after all. 😉

My outfits are quite simple, as you can see below.

Grow Arts SIA 1 Grow Arts SIA 2

These photos were actually snapped on two separate days, which is why the size is a little off when comparing the two. At first, I wasn’t going to use the first photo as I was wearing black pants and instead, wanted to incorporate my khaki ones instead. But then I realized that my look would have been too similar to the last SIA that I did when Erin hosted Pond In The Woods, seen here. But because I didn’t want to change and then try to take photos in freezing weather (it was extremely cold when I took the first photo), I opted for a warmer day when I wouldn’t give myself hypothermia and waited before snapping the second picture that you see with my burgundy shirt and khaki pants. My outfits, simple as they are, show the two main colors that best catch my attention when I look at the painting. I could have went with the more subtle colors, blue and gold/yellow, that’s seen in the painting, but I went with the obvious choices.

Be sure to check out Erin’s blog this Wednesday, March 29th, 2017, for the round-up post and see how everyone else went about in interpreting this great work!