Category Archives: Book Reviews

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

real artists

Everyone is familiar with the idea of the starving artist, but have you heard of the thriving artist?  Using the life story of Michelangelo Buonarotti as inspiration, you know, that guy who painted the Sistine Chapel, Jeff Goins debunks that starving artist myth and presents a new paradigm in which would-be starving artists become thriving artists.  

Although Michelangelo is the primary artist featured in this book, countless other artists, both past and present are included.  The author has compiled these fascinating rags to riches stories through research and interviews with artists and entrepreneurs. Each story supports the claim that in order to be a successful artist, one need not starve.

Before you can create great art,you first have to create yourself.--Jeff Goins

Now that doesn’t mean every creative soul should quit his or her day job just yet.  There are a few hurdles you’ll have to vault. The conflicting beliefs of the starving artists and the thriving artist are nicely outlined in 12 chapters. Some of these beliefs might be surprising.  Did you know that the thriving artist steals his or her ideas from others?  Would you believe that it is essential to cultivate a patron in order to succeed?  Are you aware that you should receive monetary recompense and esteem for your creative endeavors?

At any point in your story, you are free to reimagine the narrative you are living. You can becom.jpg

There were some truly inspirational sections in Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. When I had finished reading, I felt encouraged and hopeful while at the same time realizing how very far I have yet to go to become one of those thriving artists. Fortunately, just like Michelangelo, I’m as stubborn as a donkey, so perhaps one day I’ll get there.

three stars

Read more about the book here.  Pick up your own copy here.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review–The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander

the last valentine

The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander is set on the island of Puerto Rico in 1935.  Chief Inspector Guillermo Sedeno suspects his long-time rival, Inspector Javier Villalobos, stole a crucial piece of evidence in an unsolved murder case, an unsigned blood-stained love letter.  After the love letter falls into the hands of young Olivia Esperanza Villalobos, she and her dearest friend Isaac Quintero set out in search of the Labyrinth of Love Letters, unaware that the chain of events their investigation set into motion will change so many lives.

We never know our journey before it begins, but in hindsight we discover that every experience we have is meant to be ours and ours alone

The writing in The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende.  It was lyrical, poetic, full of overlapping characters and stories started in one section that are not finished until later if at all.  It was like reading a dream and I was carried away.

One point that detracted from the story was the number of persistent errors.  Olivia, as a romantic heroine is apt to do, often lay down on her bed.  Several times the author made the grammatical error of saying Olivia lied down in bed or lied awake.  (Lay vs. Lie (vs. Laid) There were several apostrophes versus plural errors (ranting’s) and incorrect use of it’s rather than its, (See Apostrophes Rule 2b), as well as a few humorous homophone mistakes. (He went on a steak out.  What was his roll in the crime?)

A few items that were referred to were out of place in a novel set in Puerto Rico in the 1930s.  Olivia’s self-conscious reaction about her belief in the Labyrinth of Love Letters is compared to the feeling of being the last of her friends to discover Santa doesn’t exist. Although the island had been under US military control since 1898, and English was mandated as the official language since 1917, I wouldn’t think that Santa Claus would have been a popular figure in Puerto Rico at the time.  Even today, most of Latin America still receive their gifts from Los Reyes Magos on January 6th rather than a visit from Santa. (See Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico) Appropriate mention is given to El Dia de los Reyes later in the book as one of the most important religious holidays in Puerto Rico.

Another issue was the name of one of the married women.  Carmen Alicia de la Vega was married to Fernando Gonzalo de la Vega.  Although women commonly take their husband’s name after marriage in the United States, this is NOT a custom in Puerto Rico.  Therefore Carmen Alicia, being a “woman of status” before marriage would not assume her husband’s name no matter how prestigious he was.  Instead, she would keep both her maiden last names (her father’s and her mother’s) and add the word “de” followed by her husband’s name indicating her married status.  (See Naming customs of Hispanic America) Of course, it would be a bit cumbersome to be known as Carmen Alicia Gonzalez Reyes de De la Vega, for example.  Nonetheless, this is the custom.  Another female character is mistakenly referred to repeatedly as Angelica de las Fuentes.  However, her full name was Angelica Montana de las Fuentes.  De las Fuentes would have been her mother’s last name and the abbreviated form should have been Angelica Montana. Yet she was reportedly the daughter of Don (Sir) Enrique de las Fuentes.  Therefore, her name should have been written as Angelica de las Fuentes Montana.

This custom of carrying both the father’s and the mother’s name into the next generation would have been helpful in unraveling the intricately woven relationship between the characters. For example, it would have been useful to know that Inspector Guillermo Sedena’s second last name was Colon.

Then there is the mortician who prepared the dead for the ferryman and placed two coins on the eyes sockets before sealing the casket.  Again, I found this incongruent to the context of the story.  The placing of coins on the eyes of a dead body began so that the dearly departed could pay the ferryman Charon to cross the river Styx, a decidedly Greek tradition.  (See Why do they place coins on the eyes of the dead?) I thought perhaps there was a similar belief held by the Taino people, the original inhabitants of the island, however, I could not find one. (See Taino spirituality) So I was baffled by this action. It may have been that just as Isaac’s uncle was well versed in the Greek gods, the mortician may have been similarly educated.  Had he developed an affinity with Charon the ferryman because of his profession and this affinity prompted the coins?  It wasn’t explained.

I found the mention of La Llorona to be consistent with the story found throughout Latin America. (See La Llorona returns) On the other hand, El Cucuy, the boogeyman that comes for disobedient children, is better known as El Cuco in Puerto Rico.  El Cucuy apparently only gathers up disobedient Mexican children. Another legend was left unexplained. I was unable to find anything that would indicate what the story of “Las Lagrimas Perdidas (the lost tears) from a small town in southern Spain” might refer to.  I would have been interested in hearing how that legend fit into this story.

four stars

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars despite the issues previously mentioned.  It really was a lovely, poetic story.  It would appeal to the romantics of any age.  Realists might get hung up on the details.  Perhaps I’m a realistic romantic then.

When we reach the end of our lives,

Read more about this book here.  Get your own copy here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

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Book Review–One Last Lie by Rob Kaufman

one last lie

Jonathan and Philip are approached by an old college friend of Phillip’s with an interesting proposition.  Angela offers to have their child.  Thrilled at the prospect of becoming fathers, they little realize the depths of deception that Angela has planned nor the price they will have to pay.

One Last Lie by Rob Kaufman was a page turner!  I was on the edge of my seat as each layer of the story was revealed.  Clues to the conclusion are scattered throughout the story, however, the “last lie” remained shrouded until close to the end.

The story has multiple perspectives so that the reader is able to see the horror unfold, yet helpless to do anything about it.  The characters were well-developed, both the principal players and minor personas. Rationales for the ultimate decisions made by the characters are hinted at but not spelled out. There’s an element of chance throughout it all.

The majority of the story is set in Connecticut, on streets that I visited as a child, which for me added just a little extra realism.  The author did a fabulous job setting the scene.  Things like this just don’t happen in upper-middle-class America, or do they?

four stars

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.  It was well written, with nary an error found.

Unfortunately,  I don’t think this book is for everyone.  It’s not a pleasant read.  There’s no happy ever after ending given.  I would even say that it just might be too real for some.  Who knows why people do what they do?  Who knows why bad things happen? It would be easy to say that horrible things are perpetrated by those who have some sort of mental illness. In fact, the book suggests that. However, can that explain the permissiveness or blindness of those who interact with such people on a daily basis?

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. Read more about this book here. Get your own copy here.

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Free E-Book Contest

 

Today I’d like to tell you about the free e-book contest from Surviving Mexico.

Why am I doing this?

I thought this would be fun and it fulfills one of the 31-day writing challenges.

When is the contest?

The contest begins today and will close on July 31.

Who is eligible to enter?

Everyone who completes the 8 questions about Surviving Mexico’s media sites correctly will be entered into the drawing for a free e-book.  Don’t worry!  They aren’t hard and there are links to help you find the answers easily.

What is the prize?

The e-book will be one of your choosing from my book reviews.

How will the winner be notified?

I will contact the winner by email after the drawing to ask which e-book he or she would like.

Where can you enter?

You can find the contest questions by clicking on the link below.

Good luck!

 

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