Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: A Vision of Angels by Timothy Jay Smith

A Vision of Angels
A Vision of Angels by Timothy Jay Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A Vision of Angels by Timothy Jay Smith is a tragic and suspenseful tale that revolves around a planned terrorist attack for Easter Sunday in Jerusalem. The lives of an American journalist, Israeli war hero, Palestinian farmer and Christian grocer are weaved together and changed forever as a result of this single event that is set to take place amidst the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

It is a story that moves at a fast pace and switches between perspectives of the characters just as quickly. The destruction, desolation and desperation caused by the conflict is at times brutally confronting, but gives the story an underlying human perspective that is too often missed in modern media reporting.

Smith does well to give all sides involved in the conflict a voice, and I found it a particularly interesting read in the sense that it gave new perspective to an old war. However, whilst the nature of the conflict itself kept me interested enough to continue reading, I found it impossible to either like or relate to any of the characters in the story. Whilst they are all dynamic, complicated characters for whom I felt empathy or a general disdain for, I couldn't connect with them in such a way that made me feel invested in their stories. For this reason, it was merely the conflict itself and not the stories of the individual characters taking place within it that gained and held my attention.

Overall, A Vision of Angels is an interesting yet confronting depiction of the ways in which conflict can tear a nation apart and yet bring it together at the same time.
Recommended to readers of contemporary fiction and those with a particular interest in current world politics.

Thank you to the author for inviting me to read and review this novel.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 40, 41 & 42

Week 40:
As I now only have the weekend in which to spend some time on creating new mail art pieces, I'm finding the project very slow moving at the minute, especially when I am trying something new.
Two envelopes went out in week 40 (dismal, really), each made from a print of some of my own digital photography. The letters were written on a large sheet of scrapbooking paper, which were divided into "sections" that served the purpose of numbered pages, making it easier to write on.
#137 of 365:
Spooky ruins for Kirby in Australia...

#138 of 365:
And a cemetery for Karlee in the USA.
Week 41:
In between traversing the countryside to try out my new camera, I managed to make this letter booklet using old postcards, bookmarks and tags. Paper was stuck to the back of the cards and folds out to reveal the letter. I then staggered the cards and bound them together using a ring binder, in the same way I would an art journal.

#139 of 365:
Postcard letter booklet for Janice Marie in Australia.
Week 42:
S T E A M P U N K !
I had fun this week making some steampunk themed envelopes to go out to friends.
Everyone likes steampunk, right?

#140 of 365:
Red & black steampunk lady for Ulrika in Sweden...

#141 of 365:
Trousered steampunk lady for Tarah in the Netherlands...

#142 of 365:
And gentlemanly steampunk for Riley in the USA.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Being Green.

Green fields...

Green hills and plains...

Green along the creeks...

And green around the cliffs...

Green moss on rocks...

The bright green of a lemon tree...

And a cosy-warm, little green cottage make for a wonderfully wintery July in the Ranges.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Not Wisely but Too Well by Pauline Montagna

Not Wisely but Too Well (The Stuff of Dreams #1)Not Wisely but Too Well by Pauline Montagna

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not Wisely but Too Well by Australian author Pauline Montagna is the first in a series of novels based on the life of William Shakespeare. As a fan of Shakespeare, and as someone who has had the privilege to study his work in the past, I was most intrigued to read this fictional account of the bard's early life.

The story is relayed to the reader through letters written by Shakespeare to his lover. Whilst this format may be unconventional, Montagna has meticulously put the letters together so that they flow effortlessly from one to another and read less like correspondence and more like a traditional novel. In addition, the missives are in a style that compliments Shakespeare's own without making it a challenge to read or understand. There are just enough thou dost's to give the work an authentic sense of history and the element of realism that the author was aiming for.

However, I was not convinced by the premise that the letters were discovered by an academic and sent to the author for safe keeping at the beginning of the novel. The sense of intrigue in their discovery and the threat of danger in possessing them lacked the sense of realism that is prevalent throughout the rest of the novel. I feel it is a device that would have been best left out.
Having said that, I do feel that this shouldn't distract from the fact that Not Wisely but Too Well is an interesting interpretation of William Shakespeare's life, one that hasn't before been told quite so precisely as Montagna tells it, and one that would appeal to many fans of historical fiction.
Thank you to the author for inviting me to read and review this novel.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 38 & 39

Quite a few mail art pieces to share this week. I must be feeling inspired (or something).
Week 38 I really wanted to do something with my watercolour paints, so I made some envelopes using art paper and painted on a simple dots-and-stripe pattern. I was quite surprised by how they turned out, although I ended up only making four as they were seriously time-consuming.
I'd like to try this style again in future.
#126 of 365:
Green for Kelly in the USA...

#127 of 365:
Purple for Felicia in Canada...

#128 of 365:
Pink for Tomoe in Japan...

#129 of 365:
And blue for Arjen in Belgium...
This week (week 39) I decided to use some of my own digital photography to make envelopes, then I prettied them up with either washi-tape and alphabet stickers, or just a splash of colour.
(FYI: The photos I printed using high quality 100gsm A4 paper, specifically designed for getting the best results from your pictures).

#130 of 365:
Graveyard cross for ├żorey in Iceland...
#131 of 365:
Patrick Daly's headstone for Sarah in the USA...

#132 of 365:
Giant redgums in black and white for Jennifer in Australia...

#133 of 365:
Giant redgums in colour for Sulea in Australia...

#134 of 365:
Arthur Hill Stace's headstone for Rachael in England...

#135 of 365:
Ruins in the Ranges for Amanda in the USA...

#136 of 365:
And weather worn trees for Lina in Lithuania.