Saturday, October 31, 2020

Pencil {October 2020} #4: Happy Halloween!

  

Comments: And, we made it to the end of the month. Happy Halloween! I know it looks a lot different this year, with Covid-19 and all, but I still hope to have a fun day anyway and I wish the same for everyone else. For today’s artwork, I was influenced by an old painting I did a few years back, which I’m certain I referred to as the “spider bride.” I wanted to redraw this character, and I finally got around to doing it. I tried to exaggerate the proportions of the character a little, because I wanted her to appear a little more ghostly (hence there are no feet).


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Short Stories I Read in September

 

It’s the 29th of October, so it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in September.

Metal Like Blood In the Dark by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine; Issue Thirty-Six, September/October)

The only short story I read last month was Metal Like Blood In The Dark. This was a lovely and engrossing story about a man who built enormous machines, who he named Brother and Sister and programmed to be intelligent. From the very first line of this story, I was intrigued and invested in the characters. I have to commend the author there, because the machines were such vivid characters, full of personality and a bit of naivety. One thing that stood out about them was their needs—for metal as nourishment, for company, and their care for the person who created them—and that aspect of the story was developed quite well. At times a harrowing journey across the vast reaches of space and part coming-of-age tale as told by sentient machines, Metal Like Blood In The Dark was a fantastic story.

From Around The Web…

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Review: The Case Study of Vanitas volume 5 by Jun Mochizuki

 Title: The Case Study of Vanitas
Series: The Case Study of Vanitas #5
Author: Jun Mochizuki
Source/Format: Gift; Paperback
More Details: Altenative History; Fantasy; Manga
Publisher/Publication Date: Yen Press; January 22, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Long ago, France was terrorized by The Beast of Gévaudan, who indiscriminately murdered hundreds. Before the creature could be stopped, the Beast vanished into thin air. Now, on the streets of nineteenth century Paris, news breaks of the Beast's gruesome return. As Noé and Vanitas rush to learn more about the Beast and its connection to vampirekind, none other than the Holy Knight, Astolfo, and Jeanne, the Hellfire Witch, stand in their way...
I’m steadily working my way through the current volumes of The Case Study of Vanitas. I’m on to number five, and it is a bit of a departure from the calmer chapters at the end of the previous volume. I guess you could say that it was the calm before the storm. The story takes on a darker tone, as the plot takes the main characters out of Paris. A lot of backstory is revealed for characters like Noe. There was even a little more about Jeanne (the Hellfire Witch), as some of her backstory is revealed through the exploration of her connection to the beast stalking Gévaudan.

The events of volume five once again demonstrated the murky morality in play with the characters of the series. Most of them are secretive and morally ambiguous, and so the lines between right and wrong are often blurred. It’s one of the strong suits of The Case Study of Vanitas. They’re characters you can care about and get invested in, who sometimes mean well, who think they’re doing right—and sometimes have the justification for it—but their secrets, motivations, and methods by which they get to that conclusion makes for situations that rarely have simple explanations or solutions.

There was plenty of action and mystery in this volume, which I greatly enjoyed. I also liked how Mochizuki incorporated real-world influences here. Such as how the Beast of Gévaudan was incorporated into the story so that it fit with the overall lore established in previous volumes—and as I was reading I thought the name sounded somewhat familiar, so I did google it.

Overall, this was another great volume, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Music Monday (136): The Neighbourhood, Kerli, Epica, John Coltrane, The Gap Band

 
   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: I'm currently enjoying music by The Neighbourhood. I haven't listened to them as much in the past year or so, but over the weekend I got into their music again. One of my favorite songs is Lost in Translation.

Adri:  I'm mainly sticking to my same playlist, which is nothing new. Recently, I have rediscovered some songs I haven't listened to for a bit. My picks for today are Walking on Air by Kerli and Quietus by Epica.  



Andrea: Hi all, this week I'm listening to Party Train by The Gap Band and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. There are three parts to Coltrane's song, but I have only posted part one. Have an amazing week!

   



What are you listening to this week?



Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pencil {October 2020} #3



  

Comments: Adri and I recently watched Over The Garden Wall. I’ve been hearing about it for a while, and I wanted to watch it this year. So I picked up the DVD while it was on sale at Barnes & Noble. I really loved the series, and it’s one of my favorite shows from Cartoon Network to date. My artwork for today is partly inspired by the spooky and whimsical feel of Over the Garden Wall, but it’s not influenced by any scenes from the show—so you don’t need to worry about spoilers if you haven’t watched it.


Friday, October 23, 2020

The Friday 56 (188) & Book Beginnings: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.


Beginning: "Dusk at the end of winter, and two men crossed the dooryard of a palace scarred by fire."

56: "Olga gathered her daughter into her arms."


Comments: I recently reread one of my all-time favorite reads: The Winter of the Witch. What are you reading this week?


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

ARC Review: The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps by Jessica Maier

51340901Title: The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps
Series: n/a
Author: Jessica Maier
Source/Format: Publisher; eARC
More Details: History; Cartography; Nonfiction 
Publisher/Publication Date: University of Chicago Press; October 22, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
One of the most visited places in the world, Rome attracts millions of tourists each year to walk its storied streets and see famous sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. Yet this ancient city’s allure is due as much to its rich, unbroken history as to its extraordinary array of landmarks. Countless incarnations and eras merge in the Roman cityscape. With a history spanning nearly three millennia, no other place can quite match the resilience and reinventions of the aptly nicknamed Eternal City. In this unique and visually engaging book, Jessica Maier considers Rome through the eyes of mapmakers and artists who have managed to capture something of its essence over the centuries. Viewing the city as not one but ten “Romes,” she explores how the varying maps and art reflect each era’s key themes. Ranging from modest to magnificent, the images comprise singular aesthetic monuments like paintings and grand prints as well as more popular and practical items like mass-produced tourist plans, archaeological surveys, and digitizations. The most iconic and important images of the city appear alongside relatively obscure, unassuming items that have just as much to teach us about Rome’s past. Through 140 full-color images and thoughtful overviews of each era, Maier provides an accessible, comprehensive look at Rome’s many overlapping layers of history in this landmark volume. The first English-language book to tell Rome’s rich story through its maps, The Eternal City beautifully captures the past, present, and future of one of the most famous and enduring places on the planet.
I haven’t read many books on cartography, so The Eternal City was one that immediately got my interest. It turned out to be as fascinating of a read as I thought it would be. Interspersed with text and visual examples alike, The Eternal City focused on the history of Rome as told through maps. It was quite the read too, since it offered a visual and written account of how Rome changed over the years. Many of the details proved to be examples of the way the city developed according to the needs and ambition of who was in charge at the time, as well as how that affected the living conditions for the citizens. So there were maps for practical purposes, ones for commemorative/souvenir reasons, and others where artistic license was taken, but there was still an aspect of accuracy to them. All the maps that were pictured in this book were, to say the least, gorgeously rendered, and I could appreciate the detail that went into them. The Eternal City also covered how complicated such a thing was—the growing pains of a city—as power exchanged hands and religion came into play. It also took at a look at the establishment of some of Rome’s most recognizable monuments. Overall, The Eternal City was an excellent read.

About the author...

Jessica Maier is associate professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Rome Measured and Imagined: Early Modern Maps of the Eternal City, also published by University of Chicago Press

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (University of Chicago Press) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!


Monday, October 19, 2020

Music Monday (135): Meet Me @ The Altar, Mary J. Blige

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Recently, I've been listening to music by Meet Me @ The Altar. They're relatively new to me, but I really enjoy listening to their songs. One of my favorites is May The Odds Be In Your Favor. The sound kind of reminds me of Paramore's earlier music. 


Andrea: This week I'm listening to Mighty River by Mary J. Blige. Mighty River was released a few years ago as a part of the soundtrack for Mudbound. I never watched the Netflix movie, and I just heard the song for the first time on Friday while I was listening to Spotify. I simply love Mighty River's message. You can listen to the song below.

I can't wait to discover what everyone is listening to this week. Have an amazing week & stay safe!



What are you listening to this week?



Saturday, October 17, 2020

Pencil {October 2020} #2

  

Comments:
Today’s artwork is this pumpkin. It’s kind of a simple one, and it’s based off of a ceramic candy dish I got way back in early September. As soon as I saw the shape of it (a jack-o-lantern), I knew I wanted to draw it with a candle in the opening in place of candy. For reference, here is a picture of the candy dish.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Friday 56 (187) & Book Beginnings: The Case Study of Vanitas volume 5 by Jun Mochizuki

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.



Synopsis from Goodreads...
Long ago, France was terrorized by The Beast of Gévaudan, who indiscriminately murdered hundreds. Before the creature could be stopped, the Beast vanished into thin air. Now, on the streets of nineteenth century Paris, news breaks of the Beast's gruesome return. As Noé and Vanitas rush to learn more about the Beast and its connection to vampirekind, none other than the Holy Knight, Astolfo, and Jeanne, the Hellfire Witch, stand in their way...


Beginning: ""--Hm? Go back for your hat and parasol?""

56: ""We'll take this to Gévaudan.""


Comments: I finally read volume five of The Case Study of Vanitas, and I really enjoyed it. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ARC Review: The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins

43880159. sy475Title: The Sisters of Straygarden Place
Series: n/a
Author: Hayley Chewins
Source/Format: Publisher (Netgalley); eARC
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Candlewick; October 13, 2020

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
A riveting middle-grade fantasy about sibling bonds, enchanted houses, and encroaching wildness, lyrically told in eerily beautiful prose... 
The grass grew taller than the house itself, surrounding it on all sides. It stuffed the keyholes and scraped against the roof. It shook the walls and made paintings shiver... 
Seven years ago, the Ballastian sisters' parents left them in the magical Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees. They left behind a warning saying never to leave the house or go into the grass. "Wait for us," the note read. "Sleep darkly." Ever since then, the house itself has taken care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine--feeding them, clothing them, even keeping them company--while the girls have waited and grown up and played a guessing game: Think of an animal, think of a place. Think of a person, think of a face. Until one day, when the eldest, fourteen-year-old Winnow, does the unthinkable and goes outside into the grass, and everything twelve-year-old Mayhap thought she knew about her home, her family, and even herself starts to unravel. With luscious, vivid prose, poet and author Hayley Chewins transports readers to a house where beloved little dogs crawl into their owners' minds to sleep, sick girls turn silver, and anything can be stolen--even laughter and silence.... 
The Sisters of Straygarden Place was a wonderfully atmospheric story about a trio of sisters and the long-held mysteries of the titular place. Perfect for middle grade readers, it was as magical as it was mysterious, as well as sometimes whimsical and also sometimes dangerous. I had a lot of fun reading this book.

From the start, the premise of an isolated house surrounded by tall, magical grass was one that had my interest. I’m a sucker for house stories, and this was very much a house story. I say that because the house of Straygarden Place had as much personality as the characters in the story. It was clear early on that the warnings about the grass weren’t to be taken lightly. The setting might have been limited due to the early setup, but it really served the mysterious and eerie tone of the story. In that way, Chewins’s did a fantastic job of developing the magical aspects of the story. The magic, for instance, had consequences, and it worked so well with the setting.

Overall I enjoyed the story. It was just good. It was a relatively quick read once I got into it, but that wasn’t hard to do. From page one, Mayhap’s voice (as a character) was distinctive. As the middle sister, she seemed to be caught between what her older and younger siblings needed from her—such as when she tried to protect Pavonine and help Winnow by keeping secrets and bending the truth. Mayhap meant well—as proven by what she said and her actions—and it spoke to the type of character she was.

The rest of the characters were just as great and dynamic as Mayhap. Chewins’s development of the characters was only one of the many highlights of the story. The sisters were really the focus of The Sisters of Straygarden Place—I mean, it’s in the title after all—and it showed.

The Sisters of Straygarden Place was a fantastic story. It was the first book I’ve read by Hayley Chewins and it certainly won’t be the last.
About the author...

Hayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house so full of books that she learnt to read by accident. The second eldest of four daughters, she sang incessantly as a child -- so incessantly, in fact, that she was sent to lessons twice a week in the interests of household peace. Hayley studied classical voice for a year before switching to a degree in English Literature and Italian. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a house full of art and music and colour, with her husband and a very small poodle. She believes in two things above all else: the magic of love, and the heroism of sisters. Her debut novel, THE TURNAWAY GIRLS, was a Kirkus Best Book and was featured on the Amelia Bloomer List of Best Feminist Books for Young Readers. Her second book, THE SISTERS OF STRAYGARDEN PLACE, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press in September 2020.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Candlewick) via netgalley for this review, thank you!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Music Monday (134): I Don't Know How But They Found Me, Aloe Blacc

 

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: I'm currently listening to music by I Don't Know How But They Found Me. This group is new to me, and I really like their song called Leave Me Alone.


Andrea: I wish I could say I've been listening to music by another artist, but that's just not so. I'm still listening to Aloe Blacc's CD, All Love Everything. Check out Wherever You Go below. Have an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?


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