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My reading encompasses a wide range of genres, from literary fiction and thrillers, to memoirs and biographies, to books about business and art. I even read children’s books that appeal to my young kids. Today, I’d like to share a few snippets from recent reviews I’ve written.
This is a beautiful book about figurative sculpture written by author Traci L. Slatton and featuring her husband, Sabin Howard’s artwork. She begins with a personal story of how she and her husband each became enamored with this form of art. Then she reviews the history of figurative sculpture with many diverse examples from the Balikligol Man from Turkey, which is more than 13,000 years old, to Rodin’s Striding Man. The remainder of the book focuses on Sabin Howard. She offers a sort of biography of his education and growth as an artist, and chronicles his major works of art, including a complete look at the process of creating these clay-to-bronze figures. I found this to be quite fascinating. The book is filled with beautiful photographs of artwork, but the most interesting pictures in my opinion were the ones that showed this extensive process. Also quite interesting were the many sketches that were included in the last section of the book, showing how Howard goes from a drawing on paper to a complete figurative sculpture. In reading The Art of Life, I learned a lot about figurative sculpture and enjoyed applying that knowledge during a recent visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art.
In No Story to Tell, KJ Steele has captured the small-town atmosphere and brought the characters to life. From the victimized Victoria, to her drunk and obnoxious husband Bobby and his drunk and obnoxious friends, to all the side characters who you’d expect to encounter in a small town like this ~ all are so realistic in both their actions and their voices. She has written a compelling story of an abused woman who thinks she is trapped in a loveless, miserable existence. But then she finds a spark of hope to hold onto, at least for a brief time. I will say that toward the end, Steele took Victoria in a direction I was not expecting. But overall, this is a well-written, engaging, mysterious novel that I enjoyed on many levels. It is not a lighthearted read, but I think it would appeal to those who enjoy contemporary fiction that tackles more serious issues and features interesting, realistic characters.
Fiona Ingram’s The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a fun adventure that I’m sure will appeal to the middle-grade crowd. It’s about cousins Adam and Justin who join their Aunt Isabel and Gran on a tour of Egypt. Traveling from their home in South Africa, they can’t help but wonder what sorts of adventures they may find on their trip. But soon they find themselves in a much bigger adventure than they had expected. It all starts with a dirty old stone scarab that a peddler slips into Adam’s pocket. This sets off a chain of events that leads the boys down the Nile and across the desert in an effort to save the world. Ingram brings together an exciting adventure with lots of facts and myths from Egyptian history. It’s a nice blend that doesn’t get into too much detail to be over most kids’ heads. She also develops Adam and Justin into great characters that kids can really relate to and look up to. They get into a bit of trouble and try to keep what they’re doing secret from their aunt and grandmother, but overall they’re pretty good kids. I’d definitely recommend this for middle-grade readers who are looking for some adventure, especially if they have an interest in ancient Egypt or enjoy Indiana Jones movies!
Disclaimer: I received copies of each of these books from the authors in exchange for honest reviews.