January 2017 Book Reviews

A goal this year is to only read about 12 books.  One book per month or around there.  I’ve really reduced it because I want to focus more on writing than reading.  I know I’ll probably end up reading more than 12 books but if I do, that’s okay.  I don’t want to stress out over trying to hit my numbers.  So far, I’ve read two books this month.  It wasn’t expected but once I learned Veronica Roth’s book, “Carve the Mark,” was out, I had to buy and read it.  Below are the reviews for the books I’ve read this month.

Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller

behindcloseddoors_350This story is about a couple whom everyone thinks has the perfect relationship but deep down there are secrets.

Although the pacing is fast, the story starts out a bit slow.  There is a tenseness in the beginning especially when one of the supporting characters, Esther, questions their “perfect” marriage.

The characters were well developed and stayed true to themselves. The back stories to the main characters really helped in shaping them. The setting was clear and done well. The story line was interesting and kept me in suspense and intrigue, which was what kept me reading.

What bothered me most about the story was the protagonist and the main antagonist. Grace didn’t seem very smart or wise and Jack wasn’t as evil as he could be. I felt that Grace could have easily gotten away from Jack and even reported him but she let it go on for too long, doubting herself all the time, and not trusting her own intuition. She was so strong and determined at taking care of her little sister, I didn’t get why she suddenly gave in to Jack and put her sister on the sideline. As for Jack, I wanted him to be even more evil than he was but he seemed to also give in. There was no explanation why he gave in to Grace so much since his back story made him to be this person who enjoyed torture/pain, etc. If it was because he was afraid he’d get caught, then that fear should have somehow made it into the story or the back story.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The suspense stretched out further than I had anticipated which almost led me to stop reading because it got to the point where I almost just didn’t care what happened (because as mentioned, Grace wasn’t very smart) but Esther got me hooked. She was the person who made the story interesting. I was annoyed by her at first but I was also curious as to why she was always prying. I was surprised by her at the end, and have to admit, I cried. She was amazing.

Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Young Adult

carvethemark_350This story is about…I’m not even sure exactly what it’s about, to be honest, but I’ll do my best to describe it.  I believe it’s about two families who are enemies, where the evil family gains rulership and tortures the other family in hopes to continue ruling.

The story was interesting and the powers the characters had were unique. I liked the idea that it took place in outer space and other planets.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I had expected. It was pretty fast paced. Too many characters were introduced so I couldn’t feel for the main characters. Some characters were introduced and then only had small, almost irrelevant, parts. I tried to visualized the world they lived in and found it difficult because I felt as though there were pieces of Dune by Frank Herbert and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Every time I came across the word “Benesit, ” (the name/title of one of the families) I kept wanting to say “Bene Gesserit” from Dune.

As for the relationship between the two main characters, I felt very little for them. As mentioned, because it was so fast paced and so much information was being thrown in, I really couldn’t relate to the relationship or to their situation.

What was very obvious was the pain the protagonist felt and how she learned to deal with it. I think if the focus was solely on this as the story, how she was chosen to have this type of power that would cause herself pain, and how she learned to control or manage it, would have been a great story on its own.

I really wanted to like this story. I love sci-fi and fantasy combined and I love Veronica Roth’s style. The scenes merge seamlessly and the transition from first to third person was well done.  I’m just a bit bummed that there was so much thrown into it and it felt rushed.

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My NaNoWriMo Status

I can’t believe I’ve written my novel every day since the first of this month.  It feels great.  My fingertips hurt from typing but just seeing how I’m getting so close to 50K words is exhilarating.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be writing this much and my story wouldn’t be flourishing right in front of me if I wasn’t held accountable like this.

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A couple favorite music I listen to while writing:

“At the Edge of the Cliff” by DreamScape

“Aitherios” by Axl Rosenberg [This one is my favorite because I love the transition starting from 1:45.] – I listen to it on repeat on soundcloud, here: https://soundcloud.com/axl-rosenberg-composer/aith-rios

*I’m not affiliated with these musicians nor am I promoting for them.  I really just love them ’cause they inspire me.

 

Acrylic Painting of Couple In Rain

A year ago I came across a painting tutorial on Youtube of a couple in the rain and really wanted to attempt it but I didn’t have the resources at the time.  I waited until I collected everything I needed and the courage to paint something of this size.  For me, it wasn’t an easy painting and took me longer than the artist in the YT video to finish, but it was well worth it.

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Here’s my steps.  I used a 30×40 Artist’s Loft canvas

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Products used:

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Watercolor Leaves

Some watercolors I did through a course on Skillshare.  I used the Kuretake watercolor set I posted a photo of in a previous post.  I am getting a lot more comfortable with watercolor but I am still far from my own style and confidence.  I’ve also learned that paper quality is very important.  In the first two paintings, I used 90 lb Strathmore papers, and in the second two, I used 140 lb Strathmore papers.  The difference is extreme.  The 140 didn’t buckle and held on to water much better.

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Shaman Bells Water Color and Ink Pen

These Shaman bells are used in Hmong spiritual rituals.  I am not Shaman so I am not familiar with the rituals.  I only know that they are used but I have no idea how and what for.  Another term for the spirit calling is “jingle bells,” or in Hmong, Hu Plig (pronounced, who-plee).

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Arno Dorian Watercolor and Ink Pen

I had wanted to paint Arno Dorian from Assassin’s Creed because I loved his outfit, so I gave it a go.

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I’m In Love

This is a fine beauty.  I’ve heard that it’s hard to start using it.  I’d have to agree.  I had ideas for it while it was in transit, but now that it’s in my hands, I don’t know if I can do anything other than stare at it.

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