Recommended Read – Artful Ways with Mixed Media

300x300_32bf40879f64564d6e921f935db7990eTitle: Artful Ways with Mixed Media

Author:  Monique Day – Wilde

Overview: (taken from “Learn to combine texture, line, and color in mixed-media collage, altered art, and montage. This lavishly illustrated book makes this popular form of expression accessible to people of all skill levels. Beautiful photographs of 23 mixed-media pieces are accompanied by step-by-step instructions explaining the materials and techniques used in each piece. The stunning layered projects will get readers” creative juices flowing and inspire them to experiment in this unique and versatile form.”

Thoughts/Comments: Mixed media is a favorite of mine. I enjoy creating mixed media pieces as well as appreciating others. This book is full of various projects with instructions for each one. At the beginning of each project there are a few sentences that summarize the project and materials and / or techniques that will be used. I found myself reading these to quickly determine if had the resources and skills for the various projects. The projects in here differ greatly and there is lots to be learned from this book. At the end of the book there is a visual guide describing the different methods / techniques used throughout the book.


Recommended Read – Drunk Mom

15799161Title: Drunk Mom: A Memoir

Author:  Jowita Bydlowska

Overview: (taken from “Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. “It’s a special occasion,” she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita’s immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret. Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she’s being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she’s stored in the diaper bag. She know she’s become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts. Jowita Bydlowska’s memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment–saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression–and rehab. Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale.”

Thoughts/Comments: Most of the books that I read are memoirs. Memoirs about alcoholism and drug abuse to be exact. You might think it is because I am an alcoholic or drug addict, but that is very far from the truth. I suppose it is because I can relate to them from what my family has gone through. I am one of 3 daughters that have some very close family that are alcoholics and drug addicts, I will just leave it at that. Anyways, back to what I was saying. I have read many books on this topic for years and years. This particular book however, was different. Different in a good but sad way. I feel the author writes with truth and raw emotions. The fast passed, hyper, all over the place type of thinking and reasoning, the downward spiral of lies to everyone around them and to themselves, the never ending delusional reasoning that takes over their lives… it all is exactly what I saw in my encounters with the addicts in my life. She refers to the addicts mind as a “fantasyland”, (Pg. 257)  and there is some truth in that. There were some parts of course that I did not relate to completely. The sad truth of how her newborn son was effected daily by her and his life was often put at risk was heartbreaking. I respect her for her honesty and not excluding what I imagine to be a very shameful and embarrassing part of her life.

I found myself bookmarking many parts in this book that I wanted to come back and read again later. The first was her explaining how she feels about alcoholism being a disease. I think this is one of the biggest debated topics of addiction. Can it be cured? Is it just an excuse that addicts use? or is it really uncontrollable? People effected by addicts struggle with this whole who/what is to blame all the time. I still am not 100% sure what my beliefs are, but this helped to read…

“I believe that you’re never cured of alcoholism. I use the word cure but it is not strictly a disease. Go to any AA meeting, watch or read anything about addiction, and sooner or later you will hear the word “disease”. But it is not a disease. Disease implies you can maybe cure it. In my opinion it’s closer to a condition or, perhaps, a habit you can’t unlearn completely once you stop it. Even if dormant, it is ingrained in you.” – Pg. 14

The other was just a simple line. It is the complete truth of getting sober all in one little line. I really believe that no one can force or make a person be sober.

“As for the meetings, I could go to one or I could go to a hundred but without desperately wanting sobriety, it wouldn’t work.” – Pg. 255

Recommended Read – Brain on Fire

Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Author:  susannah cahalan

Overview: (taken from “One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a “flight risk,” and her medical records-chronicling a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all-showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind? In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. A team of doctors would spend a month-and more than a million dollars-trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go. Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of “demonic possessions” throughout history.”

Thoughts/Comments: This book terrified me. Do not get me wrong, it was a really interesting book, but reading about such a fast and drastic mental change in a “healthy” woman that left doctors guessing was scary. It was hard not to think about what would happen if I were in her shoes suddenly. A great book leaves an impression on you after you finished the last page, and this one sure did with me.

Recommended Read – Yarn Bombing

Title: Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti

Author:  Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain

Overview: (taken from “On city street corners, around telephone posts, through barbed wire fences, and over abandoned cars, a quiet revolution is brewing. Knit graffiti is an international guerrilla movement that started underground and is now embraced by crochet and knitting artists of all ages, nationalities, and genders. Its practitioners create stunning works of art out of yarn, then donate them to public spaces as part of a covert plan for world yarn domination.Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti is the definitive guidebook to covert textile street art. This full-color DIY book features 20 kick-ass patterns that range from hanging shoes and knitted picture frames to balaclavas and gauntlets, teaching readers how to create fuzzy adornments for lonely street furniture. Along the way, it provides tips on how to be as stealthy as a ninja, demonstrates how to orchestrate a large-scale textile project, and offers revealing information necessary to design your own yarn graffiti tags. The book also includes interviews with members of the international community of textile artists and yarn bombers, and provides resources to help readers join the movement; it’s also chock full of beautiful photographs and easy step-by-step instructions for knit and crochet installations and garments.”

Thoughts/Comments: When I picked this book up at work It was a new concept to me. I had not seen stuff like this around Edmonton at the time so I was naturally intrigued. After flipping through the first few pages you are given the impression that Yarn Bombing is a form of street art. “Yarn Bombing can be political, it can be heart-warming, and it can be funny” – Pg. 18. The question of why on should Yarn Bomb is explored on Pg. 20 with points such as “It provides opportunities for self expression”. If you are still a little unsure about what it is, on Pg. 21 they give some examples of what Yarn Bombing looks like. It can be things such as car antenna cozies, doorknob covers, and sweaters for trees. They also compare Yarn Bombing to traditional graffiti. From here they go on to showcase all sorts of different types and examples of Yarn Bombing. I really like the ones done on street signs, fences, poles, etc. They seem like a neat addition to urban settings.They do however showcase ones done more in a natural setting such as sweaters for trees. I cannot help but wonder if/how these types of projects would effect a living and growing tree. would wrapping a knitted piece around the trunk and branches of a tree hurt it or inhibit growing in some way? I have to say that my favorite project they show in here is the hanging shoes/shoes on a wire on pg. 170. Everyone knows that image of old sneakers hanging from telephone wires in urban settings. This is a play on that with knitted shoes. Overall I think this book is wonderfully creative. I do wonder though if this type of work would be accepted by society since traditional street art is often frowned upon and even illegal. Also, who cleans it up when it starts to fall apart and get dirty?

Recommended Read – The Art Of Papercutting

51iK8sKR2qL._SL500_Title: The Art Of Papercutting

Author: Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell

Overview: (taken from “Papercutting has a long history, originally as a traditional folk art practiced across Europe and North America, and now elevated to new, sophisticated levels. Here, Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell presents a stunning collection of 35 papercutting projects, ranging from party decorations, découpage pictures and paper flowers, to greetings cards and gift tags. All have easy-to-follow instructions, with advice on the best paper to give your projects a superb result. Papers used in this book range from lightweight crepe paper and tissue to heavier weight card and watercolour paper. Recycling plays an important role, too – finding, collecting and using small scraps of discarded paper to incorporate into something new is a rewarding process. Here you will find wallpaper, postage stamps, gift wrap and postcards given a new lease of life. Whether you are new to the art of papercutting, or a skilled crafter looking for fresh ideas, the projects featured in the book will inspire you to pick up scissors and paper and create something beautiful.”

Thoughts/Comments: This book is divided into greeting cards, party decorations, gifts and treats, and for the home. Since i spent years making greeting cards I found this section to be not that impressive. The party decorations had some nice ideas. The gifts and treats section had ideas that could be used in many ways or combined with other ideas. I usually look at these types of books for inspiration and fuel other ideas of mine. This book was simple with easy instructions and had nice modern ideas.

Recommended Read – S.E.C.R.E.T Shared

Title: S.E.C.R.E.T Shared

Author: L. Marie Adeline

Overview: (taken from “The hotly anticipated sequel to the erotic sensation S.E.C.R.E.T., where women’s sexual fantasies become reality. Still wounded from a recent heartbreak, Cassie Robichaud throws herself into service with S.E.C.R.E.T., the mysterious organization that changed her life last year by bringing her deepest sexual fantasies to life, one step at a time. Now, it’s Cassie’s turn to guide the group’s newest candidate, Dauphine Mason, recruiting men to execute a new set of fantasies. While it gets Cassie’s mind off Will, the man she truly loves, it also gives her the chance to help watch S.E.C.R.E.T. work its magic on someone new. At thirty-one, Dauphine is the proprietor of a New Orleans vintage clothing store-the kind of buttoned-up career woman who has no idea how attractive she really is. In order to reignite her sexual flame and reawaken her dormant heart, she must leave behind her bitter past. As both Cassie and Dauphine navigate the rocky path between their hearts and their passions, they discover what they truly want in life and in love. SECRET Shared is a liberating, passionate and sexually charged sequel to one of the hottest new series in erotica.”

Thoughts/Comments:  I am assuming anyone who read this or is wanting to read this has already read the first book, S.E.C.R.E.T. With that being said, I will say that I find this cover a little more appropriate than the cover of the first book in this series. I still do not find it overly amazing though. So for this book it is written from two character’s point of view, Cassie who is the main character in the first book, and Dauphine who is a new character. I read this book in less than a week so I had lots of uninterrupted reading. I got into the book and the characters and would say this one is as good if not better than the first book in the series. There were parts that I was almost mad at Cassie for her decisions, ha ha. The last chapter of this book was huge and the last page left me wanting to know what happens next.

Recommended Read – The Landscape Photography Field Guide

Title: The Landscape Photography Field Guide

Author: Carl Heilman Li

Overview: (taken from “Landscape is perhaps the most enduring photographic genre, and, as we travel, we are always encountering new and exciting scenes we”d love to capture.The Landscape Photographer”s Field Guideprovides a complete pro reference in a compact book which can be carried in even the most compact camera bag, always at hand. With his extensive experience of shooting from remote locations, Carl Heilman II has established himself as one of American”s leading National Park photographers. Every word in this book, and all of the inspirational photography, all draw from that experience and make that craft accessible to enthusiasts looking for a professional advice, wherever and whenever they need it. With sections on core skills, shooting for digital, and even advanced techniques like 3D, this book is everything a photographer on the move could need.”

Thoughts/Opinions: This small little book is jam packed with lots of really helpful information. I personally wish the book itself was physically bigger though. I found it difficult to hold and the text size was small and often hard to read. There were also beautiful photographs in it, but they were also really small. The content inside is divided into 6 different topics; equipment, technique, shooting, creative effects, editing work flow, and reference. All of which were thoroughly explained. If you are interested in landscape photography, or any photography really, this book is great. I found one really great quote in it that I would like to share, “It’s all about developing the ability to shoot perfect pictures every time and learning how to create photos by choice – not by chance.” Makes you want to work on your photography skills hey?

Recommended Read – S.E.C.R.E.T

Title: S.E.C.R.E.T

Author: L. Marie Adeline

Overview: (taken from “No judgments. No limits. No shame. Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed. The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.”

Thoughts/Comments: First thing I have to mention is how much I dislike this particular cover. I have seen different covers online for this title that are much better, but the actual one I read had the same as the image I posted so that is what I am going by. I find this cover very Juvenile in many ways. I look at it and think it is some cheesy Teen book, not an adult Romance/Erotica book. Covers are so important and I almost did not read this one because of first impressions.

Anyways, now that my little rant about the cover is done… This was a very fast and easy read for me. Was it amazing? well no. It was good but not fantastic. Parts of it I found almost silly and hard to believe, however that may simply be because I am more of a non-fiction reader. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it and found myself getting wrapped up in the story at times. This book did make me want to be a more confident female. I think that is the Author’s goal, to have the reader relate to Cassie in one way or another and picture themselves growing as she does. Overall, It was a good book. Not my favorite, but far from my least.