Book Review: Art

Art – book cover

Book: Art

Author: Marin Darmonkow (@fontrealbooks) / Twitter

Genre: Children’s fiction, Picture book

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

This magical book of inspired art lets you create your own story and give voice to its protagonist. Art, an illustrated book, reminds me of silent movies of yore when only actors’ expressions were articulated and audiences interpreted the characters in different ways. In this book of intricate imagery, the creative artist Marin Darmonkow has given voice to an autistic character without saying a word. This work of art is intense, tugging at the heartstrings, and generating empathy.

The artwork in fluorescent line drawings and colors stands out on black paper. A heavy mood hangs on the pages because the story that is hardly narrated invokes sadness. There is so much going on in just a few pages – the circus, non-verbal Art, and his stuffed toy friend, mesmerizing people with antics, yet no one knows what goes on in Art’s mind. The jester’s hat of Art and the thousand glistening crowns in the audience bring about the sharp contrasts in life. The stuffed bear, in its silent companionship, seems to be alive and supporting Art in his life’s mission of “Do what you dream!”

There is a lyrical melancholy that pulls you into the black sheets of sparkling wonder. I can imagine a parent narrating a bedtime story based on pure imagination, brilliantly transposed against the beautiful artwork. As an empath, I wonder if it is too dark or sad a book for children. Then, I think – it is not by shielding from the pain that a child grows, but by expounding truths so that compassion flows.

This inspired book can inspire many stories and poems. Bring the magic home and carve your tales, page-by-page, where the stuffed bear comes to life, and Art speaks from the heart. Truly, a collector’s edition, this book must find a place on the bookshelves of young and old. It holds a meditative power, deep insights, and imaginative streak. Make it yours because silence can be stronger than words, as we see in this book.

Words – are all that matter

Reading and reviewing books for ReedsyDiscovery has become an integral part of my daily schedule. I don’t give it a thought and yet my reading game seems to be spot on. I get the Reedsy Discovery top book reviewers for the month badge when I am least accepting it. I do not count the books I read in a month or compete to get this badge. I just pick up a book that draws me in – be it the book cover or the back cover blurb.

I read parts of a book throughout the day. Each weekend, I carve out a good 3-4 hours to write and publish book reviews. I always have a read and review task on my to-do list. Honestly, it requires discipline, dedication, time, and effort. Yet, it comes effortlessly because it is a cherished interest. It has helped me grow in so many ways.

I have read some brilliant books this year and the stories have stayed with me. I often ponder over the stories or the lessons I garnered from the non-fiction book I consumed.

The most endearing part is that the authors are also thinking about my review of their work. I receive comments and emails from authors and it warms my heart. Many request me to read another of their work or contact me with advanced review copies (ARC) when their new work is ready to be unveiled. It’s a symbiotic author-reader relationship – unique because we only know each other through words.

We build bridges across the world with our words. I can only stand in awe of all the brilliant talent out there and gaze with greedy eyes wanting to consume the brilliance of these works of art and creativity.

Book Review: The Marigold Chemise

The Marigold Chemise – book cover

Book: The Marigold Chemise

Author: Sheryl Westergreen (@SDWeste) / Twitter

Genre: Historical fiction, business

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

“The seduction had begun.” I could not resist picking up The Marigold Chemise by Sheryl Westergreen as it gave vibes similar to one of my favorite historical fiction featuring a painting – The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. The stunning book cover with yellow-orange hues was instantly attractive. I deep-dived into this book with much anticipation and undivided attention.

When young Lucida of the conservative Glavani family agrees to model the marigold silk chemise for portraits by her friend Alessia, the reader can relate to her eagerness. How can one not revel in the beauty of silken wonder almost as bright as the sun? The book does justice to these sentiments – both of the protagonist and the reader as it brings forth a mesmerizing story.

A fine lesson in history, architecture, food, decor, art, and the culture of Roman society, the author’s research features in an impactful narration. Some of the prose is poetic. The dreamy color of the marigold occurs more than once. The romantic tale thrills and the historical fiction enthralls. Halfway through the book, a nefarious element builds up and keeps the reader glued. The whispering of clandestine dealings with scandalous consequences creates further curiosity about how the characters will handle the brewing storm.

This is a young, bashful story – of two women trying to fulfill dreams and desires. As always, the base conflict is between aspirations and how to keep them alive in the face of societal bindings. The characters are well-fleshed out. Even the male characters are tender and understanding, wanting the best for their women. The story moves at a breathtaking speed with twists and turns like the cobbled streets of Rome. This book is a tribute to the artistic spirit.

Eventually, how do events transpire in the lives of a talented female painter and her gorgeous female model, wrapped in the magic of a marigold chemise? They have the same dream, but can they stand for themselves in a world that would rather have them relegated to lavish living rooms and busy kitchens? How does the marigold chemise inspire a business venture? Read this alluring tale with an artistic and feministic theme, just as I did. I have added this book to my beloved historical fiction list. It brims with the fire and the glow of the marigold. Make it yours.

Read the author’s interviews:

https://www.newswire.com/news/sheryl-westergreens-new-book-the-marigold-chemise-is-an-intriguing-21716448

Book Review: Don’t Feed the Elephants!

Don’t Feed the Elephants! – Sarah Noll Wilson – Book Cover

Book: Don’t Feed the Elephants!: Overcoming the Art of Avoidance to Build Powerful Partnerships

Author: Sarah Noll Wilson (@sarahnollwilson) · Twitter

Genre: Non-fiction, business

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

Don’t Feed the Elephants! by Sarah Noll Wilson is a handbook for personal and professional life. With an appealing cover and text embellished with relevant drawings, the content of the book is engrossing. Building on the proverbial elephant in the room, Wilson, a leadership coach with a doctorate in Adaptive Leadership, reflects on common behavioral issues that create barriers at work and home. Feigning ignorance, harboring avoidance, seething in silence, or telling problems to people other than those who can resolve them, are some hallmarks of “feeding peanuts” to the elephant in the room.

Sarah Wilson writes on the subject from a place of knowledge and experience. By sharing her life scenarios and professional case studies, she expounds on concepts of vulnerability, courage, mindfulness, powerful conversations, and even curiosity. The subject will resonate with many, including those who walk out of meeting rooms knowing too well, “If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.

The book has nuggets needed for good leadership and relationship management, including references from other writers. As Wilson observes, “… a productive relationship is one where all parties can disagree openly, effectively, and respectfully.” After establishing the book’s premise, including explaining the science behind a triggered Amygdala, Wilson names the elephants that we nourish at the expense of our mental peace and spiritual growth. She provides cheat sheets to not only identify each but also how to tackle them out of your life.

The questions toolkit is handy, and one can create their own each time one faces an elephant. The book has relevance for leaders with information on unconscious bias, feedback, intentions, team dynamics, and conflicts. Wilson explains the significance of learning to identify and stop feeding elephants in corporate setups. She also advises how to introduce the concept of elephants to a team.

Elephants belong in the vast expanse, not the shallow confines of insecure minds. Use Sarah Wilson’s book to set them free and liberate yourself from mind games and self-manipulations. I relished this book and will refer to it often. The anecdotes were enlightening and relatable. The writing is crisp, and the book is well-organized. This truly enjoyable and informative book deserves to be on your bookshelf.

Book Review: Crafting Great Stories

Crafting Great Stories -Gerald Gallagher – Book Cover

Book: Crafting Great Stories

Author: Gerald Gallagher

Genre: Non-fiction, writing

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

A concise guide to starting with the art of crafting impactful stories – ideal for students, beginners, leaders, and writers of all genres.

Storytelling is a buzzword not just amongst creatives and academicians but also in corporate boardrooms. Off late, there is an emphasis even on delivering impressive stories around bland data charts. Effective storytelling requires skills in story writing and narration. While there are several books on the subject, Gerald Gallagher’s Crafting Great Stories is a succinct and handy guidebook. It gets straight to the basics and carves an easy-to-grasp set of rules and practices based on research.

Gallagher summarizes all the key elements of story writing and supports them with ideas that can act as writing prompts for a beginner. He builds his book on the affirmation – “The author is mighty, indeed, having the ability to create worlds unlike our own.” His book is then a simple toolset to get a writer started on this unique journey. Crafting Great Stories has valuable information for those who are exploring the art of storytelling and a ready-reckoner for those wanting to hone their craft. My copy of the book has several highlighted takeaways for reference.

Apart from the rules related to good writing, such as outlining, plotting, characterization, setting, and tying it all up neatly together, Gallagher talks about an important subject – writer’s block. He offers advice on how to tackle writer’s block and acknowledges, “…writing burnout is a real and sometimes terrifying thing.” He talks about first deciding on the narrative type you want to build. On this canvas, one can add brush strokes and colors that give a complete picture of an outline. Sometimes, where to start from is the toughest question and Gallagher gives sound advice.

He has given numbered lists and cheat-sheets while providing ample material to create your own. There is information on story arcs and subplots, secondary characters, subvert expectations, and how the story’s theme differs from the moral. I found it interesting that the moral should be woven “into your writing mostly during the middle section of your writing.

I appreciate the author has dedicated an entire chapter to the art of editing and publishing, which I always believe breathes life into any piece of writing. I also enjoyed the chapter on creating settings and backdrops, and even treating them as characters. This is an important book and a must-have for all writers who want to learn the dynamics of creating impactful stories.

%d bloggers like this: