Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

THE DAILY THOMAS PAINE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Daily Thomas Paine: A Year of
Common-Sense Quotes
AuthorThomas Paine (Author) (Author Editor Edward G. Gray)
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
FormatPaperback
Pages176
LanguageEnglish
ISBN #9780226653518

AUTHOR / EDITOR

The eponymous Thomas Paine was the Enlightenment era Philosopher, Political activist, and some say Revolutionary. During his 72 years on earth, he made a lasting impression in the field of political science and philosophy. You can find out more about this extraordinary thinker here. Editor Edward G. Gray Professor of history at Florida State University.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Those unfamiliar with the importance of Paine as a philosopher will benefit most from this brief introduction of the man through his published thoughts.

SYNOPSIS

The Daily Thomas Paine could be described as a conspectus or a brief compendium of the learned man’s published thoughts. The main work is proceeded by a comprehensive Forward that acts as context to the broader work. Structured as a standard calendar year beginning on January 1st, there are quotes on each page in bite sized nuggets of wisdom ending on 31 December. The manuscript culminates with a brief Index of Sources.

CONCLUSION

I don’t prefer this method of reductionism, and it provides neither a sense of the philosopher nor an adequate take on his concepts and perspectives. There are little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout the text but they are too few and too brief. I never felt that this volume was a satisfactory salute to Thomas Paine’s great acumen or his humanity. I wish I could say that The Daily Thomas Paine would have made a primer for those who wish to gain some insight into the man, but I’m unable to do so. I found this book to be something of a disappointment and a wasted opportunity. You may hold a different view, but you will only know if you read it for yourself.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Thomas Paine, NetGalley, and University of Chicago Press for affording me the opportunity to review The Daily Thomas Paine.

ENDURANCE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleEndurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
AuthorAlfred Lansing
PublisherBasic Books 2007
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook
Pages304
Language:English
ISBN # 10 / 139780753809877 / 978-0753809877

AUTHOR

Alfred Lansing majored in journalism, served in the U.S. Navy, worked as a newspaper editor and later became a freelance writer. Find out more about Alfred here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Anyone who loves: adventure, human struggle, epic survival, suspense, history, extreme seamanship, and great leadership will absolutely love this book.

SYNOPSIS

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage is a true story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The information within the book was taken from the diaries of the expedition members, interviews conducted with the surviving members, and letters.

In 1915, Sir Shackleton attempted to cross the Antarctic overland from west to east. What followed was an epic struggle to survive in sub-zero temperatures, without food and minimal shelter. After his ship “Endurance” got mired in the ice and then later crushed, he and his men were forced to survive on the ice.

The story is of men fighting against nature to survive eighteen months on a drifting ice flow. Starvation, scurvy, frostbite, and illness are just a few of the hardships these men had to suffer through. These men spent endless nights in the freezing rain and snow waiting for spring to come; always hungry, always cold, always freezing, always wondering if they would live through it all.

As the months passed by and situation became more dire, Sir Shackleton kept the men going through sheer determination and leadership. This story is not just of survival but the struggle of Sir Shackleton and his dedication to his men. He is a man that is not easily equaled. His personal fortitude, expertise, and charisma kept the party alive as much as anything else.

Sir Shackleton’s heroism and self-sacrifice is why he decided to attempt a crossing of the South Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat to reach help for his men. Crossing the South Atlantic in a ship is dangerous, but an 800-mile journey by lifeboat is almost suicidal. The human struggle against the elements of the South Atlantic is another epic chapter in this story.

 CONCLUSION

This book is one of the best books I’ve read. The story is well written and I enjoyed every minute of it. The suspense flows right through the book from beginning to end. The reader constantly wants to continue to the next chapter just to see how these men continue to survive. The tale is epic in the extreme. I most heartily recommend this book.

DANGEROUS SHALLOWS -REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleDangerous Shallows: In Search of The
Ghost Ships of Cape Cod
AuthorEric Takakjian & Randall Peffer
PublisherLyons Press (January 24, 2020)
FormatPaperback, Kindle
Pages272
Language:English
ISBN # 10 / 131493042300 / 978-1493042302

AUTHORS

Find out more about Eric Takakjian on his linkedin page here. He can be found on Boston Sea Rovers here. Finally you can find some information on Eric at Doug Grad Literary Agency, Inc. here.

You can find some information on Randall at Doug Grad Literary Agency, Inc. here. Randall Peffer gives a 90 second video biography here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

This book is for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sailor, a diver, a history buff, an adventurer, or you just like a good thriller; this book has it all.

SYNOPSIS

Dangerous Shallows: In Search of The Ghost Ships of Cape Cod is a superbly written book that grips the reader from the very onset. Eric Takakjian takes the reader from the earliest of times in relation to diving techniques to modern mixed gasses. He intersperses his experiences with spellbinding tales of sunken ships and the events that led up to their tragic fates.

Eric explains in terms that are easy to understand all of the intricacies of diving and especially deep diving. He guides us through the uses of mixed gas to get to exceptionally deep wrecks and the troubles associated with each dive. He brings into view the price of miscalculation and bad circumstance and the lethal effects associated with deep diving. Intermixed is his own journey as a USCG crewman through his marriage and operating his own dive company while looking for those “virgin” wrecks.

Dangerous Shallows covers a myriad of different vessels and reasons for their current predicaments. The wrecks that Eric explores cover centuries of accidents, war, and depression. He takes the time to relate to the reader exactly what he sees and feels as he dives the wrecks. While swimming over the wrecks, he takes the reader back in time and makes the reader feel as if they are there for each vessel’s demise. The reader can feel the panic, the elation, the fear, or the determination of the people associated with each vessel.

Included within the book are the stories of his own trials and tribulations. He talks about the hardships keeping “virgin” wreck locations secret and the betrayal of “friends” who want to use his work for their own gains. He explains the research he, his wife, and friends undertake to locate and find each lost vessel. Eric describes the dangers each particular dive has; from currents, to sharks, to visibility issues, to the “bends.”

The author interfuses pictures and illustrations throughout the book. The color and black and white photos enhance the readers perceptions of the boats and the wrecks. Some of the photos are historic as are the schematics.

CONCLUSION

This book is thrilling, mysterious, and intriguing. Even if you don’t know much about diving and especially deep diving, this book easily explains the terms and conditions. The stories of the individual wrecks are told in vivid detail.  The reader can easily feel as if they are right there with him on this journey of discovery. I heartily recommend this book for everyone.

AKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Eric Takakjian and Randall Peffer, NetGalley, and Lyons Press for affording me the opportunity to review Dangerous Shallows: In Search of the Ghost Ships of Cape Cod.

BEAUTIFUL HORSES – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleBeautiful Horses: Portraits of Champion
Breeds (Part of the Beautiful Animal Series)
AuthorLiz Wright
PublisherIvy Press (March 3, 2020)
FormatPaperback & Softback
Pages112
LanguageEnglish
ISBN -10 /-131782407790 / 978-1782407799

AUTHOR

The prolific author and writer Liz Wright edits Smallholder magazine and is the author of several books on small farming. She is a panel judge for the Ponies Association in the United Kingdom (UK) as well as the British Show Pony Society (BSPS). Liz is a regular judge of Gypsy Cobs and retired race horses at horse shows. She also breeds Exmoors and Welsh Cobs on her own farm and has authored articles for many horse publications, among them Horse & Hound.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

All those epicureans with a leaning towards the equine species should anticipate an ocean of pleasure to be derived from this exceptional publication. Even if your interest in horse flesh is in admiring exceptionally beautiful animals then this is a must have book.

SYNOPSIS

Beautiful Horses is a sumptuously illustrated book dedicated to forty the world’s finest horse breeds. The book is illustrated throughout with spectacular full-page color images resplendent with pertinent details relating to the characteristics, temperament, and breed histories. This manuscript is much more than just eye candy.

I particularly enjoyed the peak behind the curtain as the owners prepare their magnificent chargers for the judgement.

CONCLUSION

Wright’s sumptuously illustrated and expertly collated compendium of pertinent characteristics and facts will have mass appeal for a range of reasons. In short, this book isn’t just another coffee table dust collector but a genuine a thing of beauty in-and-of itself. I heartily recommend this publication to you. If you enjoyed this book you may also enjoy our review of Horses, by Paula Hammond you can find it here.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Liz Wright, NetGalley, and Ivy Press for affording me the opportunity to review Beautiful Horses: Portraits of Champion Breeds.

THE LOUVRE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Louvre: The Many Lives of
the World’s Most Famous Museum
AuthorJames Gardner
PublisherAtlantic Monthly Press (May 5, 2020)
Pages416
LanguageEnglish
ISBN # -10 / ISBN # -13 0802148778 / 978-0802148773

AUTHOR

James Gardner is a prolific art critic. He is widely published with articles that have appeared in such diverse publications as: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Spectator Magazine. He is presently an editor at The Magazine Antiques and has a half a dozen other manuscripts in publication.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum is a serious book for those who adore the history, the spectacle, and the beauty of France’s most notable museum. If you enjoy history, art, sculpture pomp and circumstance of the land dating back some 7,000 years, then this could be a read you would enjoy.

SYNOPSIS

The history of The Louvre is only overshadowed by the history of Paris itself. Gardener ferries us skillfully through the sometimes-complex chronology of The Louvre from the past to the present.  Gardner guides us across the chasm of time beginning with the earliest inhabitants of the land to the stunning awe-inspiring beauty of today’s architectural masterpiece. The cast of historic characters remains every bit as interesting and notable as the iconic landmark itself. Some of the distinguished individuals within the pages are: King Philippe Auguste, Charles V, Louis XVI, and Napoleon to name but a few.

Across centuries from 7,000 years ago through the construction of a fortress in 1191, Gardner imbues us with a very intimate knowledge of the legend that is The Louvre. He takes us through the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic period, the Commune, and on to recent history.

Gardner’s work is a masterpiece resplendent with facts, details and an appreciation of the museum. The author ends with the knowledge that The Louvre is now more popular than ever and its visitor levels are a very healthy 8 million most years.  

CONCLUSION

Contained within the pages of this volume are some black and white photographs, plates and illustrations. Furthermore, there is a list of endnotes and a Bibliography. I had anticipated a directory of detailed references, but I was disappointed.

Sadly, at the time of writing this review the Museum has been closed for several days as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak that is spreading across the globe. No doubt this will reduce the number of visitors annually, unless circumstances change.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank James Gardner, NetGalley, and Atlantic Monthly Press for affording me the opportunity to review The Louvre: The many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum.

OIL PAINTING: OCEANS And SEASCAPES – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleOil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes: Learn
to Paint Step by Step (How to Draw & Paint)
AuthorMartin Clarke
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised
ed. edition (March 3, 2020)
FormatPaperback
Pages40
LanguageEnglish
ISBN # 10/131633228460 / 978-1633228467

AUTHOR

Martin Clarke, is a fine artist who specializes in seascapes and views. See more details by clicking on his name above

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Clarke’s Oil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes is written in the style of a self-help manual come tutorial. It hails from the renowned publisher Walter Foster. Whilst it is diminutive with only 40 pages in total, the information packed inside in conjunction with the attractive color plates and illustrations make it a jewel.

SYNOPSIS

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">If you have read enough Walter Foster books, the format will be familiar and welcome. As always, it is written and illustrated with ease of use built in. Within the pages are five quick and easy tutorials complete with methods to help improve your skills. There are step-by-step directions and plenty of ancillary information to assist the aspiring artist even further. If you have read enough Walter Foster books, the format will be familiar and welcome. As always, it is written and illustrated with ease of use built in. Within the pages are five quick and easy tutorials complete with methods to help improve your skills. There are step-by-step directions and plenty of ancillary information to assist the aspiring artist even further.

There is a brief introduction to color theory, brush techniques, and recommended palettes. Whilst it appears at first sight to be a tutorial best used by those new to painting in oil, the methods and advice enclosed would be helpful to even those of an intermediate level of expertise. 

CONCLUSION

Sometimes less really is more. This is for those with the need for a quick to understand but highly accessible and informative read.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Martin Clarke, Net Galley, and Walter Foster Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Oil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes: Learn to Paint Step by Step.

THE ART OF BASIC DRAWING – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Art of Basic Drawing 
AuthorWilliam F. Powell, Michael Butkus, et. al.
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised
ed. edition (March 3, 2020)
FormatPaperback
Pages128
Language:English
ISBN# 10 /131633228320 / 978-1633228320

THE AUTHORS

William F. Powell and Michael Butkus, et. al. are the accomplished authors, artists, and writers of a plethora of publications. Together the authors have created a splendid tutorial for all those who want to increase their skills and abilities.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

The Art of Basic Drawing provides a guided tutorial, style self-help book based on Quarto’s Walter Foster imprint style. Although it is described as basic, there are techniques described within the pages that will appeal to those with an intermediate skill level. For this reason I believe most artists or aspiring artist will benefit from the valuable information in this print.

SYNOPSIS

This book is skillfully illustrated and resplendent with invaluable insights as well as tips, tricks, and techniques. The magnificent tutorials enclosed will guide you through methods to improve your skill-set and assist you in producing more satisfying results from your efforts.

This artists manifesto is attractively presented and most important easy to follow in step-by-step instructions. The presentation gives the viewer confidence to try out the techniques in the comfort of their own home or studio.

The structure of the book allows the reader to move from chapter to chapter or section to section with equal ease, whilst maintaining full comprehension. The phased sequence transports the beginner through the drawing methods: from getting started, to how to approach still life subjects, followed by animals, landscapes and people.

CONCLUSION

The Art of Basic Drawing made a considerable impression on me, and it reminded me of the depiction and style of more traditional artists of previous decades. It has the feel of a quality product written and published by those who possess genuine experience and love for the subject. For the price of a night out at the cinema you could have this manual that will give you a lifetime of pleasure. I heartily recommended this book for both beginners and intermediate artists.

WHO IS WALTER FOSTER

Walter Foster Publishing is one of the most recognized names in art instruction. The timeless drawing and painting techniques found in Walter Foster titles have assisted people around the world discover their creative talents. Walter Foster Publishing has developed a full library of titles for the modern artist: from traditional pencil sketching; to acrylic, oil, and watercolor painting; to mixed media, hand lettering, and DIY crafting.

SEE MORE BOOKS IN THIS STYLE HERE: Walter Foster Imprints

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank the authors William F. Powell and Michael Butkus, Netgalley, and Walter Foster Publishing for affording the opportunity to review The Art of Basic Drawing.

OIL And ACRYLIC FLOWERS – REVIEW

TitleOil & Acrylic: Flowers: Learn to paint
step by step (How to Draw & Paint) 
AuthorMarcia Baldwin
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised ed.
edition (March 3, 2020)
FormatPaperback
Pages40
Language:English
ISBN# 10 /131633228487 / 978-1633228481

AUTHOR

Marcia Baldwin MFA., BFA., is a lettered professional fine artist in Florida. She hosts her own art studio where she practices her skills in oil painting. As well as oil painting she has worked as an advertising designer, an art teacher, an art consultant, and now as an author.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Artists who have limited expertise and practical knowledge may find this work helpful.  Those just wishing to learn the basics of oil and acrylic painting could benefit from some or all of the tricks, tips or techniques explained within. 

SYNOPSIS

Baldwin has produced a useful introduction to oil and acrylic painting for those early in their painting adventure. The book is concise at only 40 pages and colorfully illustrated with botanical subjects. The layout and format is necessarily precise. Contents include the following:

  • Tools and Materials
  • Painting Techniques
  • Color Basics
  • Working from photos
  • Working from sketches
  • Creating Textures
  • Under painting
  • Taking artistic liberties
  • Creating texture and 
  • Enhancing backgrounds

The book is easy to negotiate, and the tips easily aid the comprehensible tuition. Baldwin uses painting in the abstraction method to illustrate her manual. Painting the abstraction begins with the largest shapes of the subject moving to the smallest fine detail in stages. 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this book is an attractive yet brief sojourn into oil and acrylic painting for new students of art. The color plates are enhanced by the brief but helpful dialogue and tips. The illustrations were colorful and vividly depicted, although cartoonish. 

My only disappointment is the absence of any index or reference section made the book feel as though it ended prematurely. In its favor, it left me wanting more. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My sincere thanks go to Marcia Baldwin, NetGalley, and, Walter Foster Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Oil & Acrylic: Flowers: Learn to paint step by step (How to Draw & Paint)

JUST DRAW BOTANICALS – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleJust Draw Botanicals
AuthorHelen Birch
PublisherWhite Lion Publishing (March 3, 2020)
FormatFlexibound     
Page208
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN #10 /#130711251320 / 978-0711251328     

AUTHOR

Helen Birch is the collator of this unique compendium of magnificent literary work of art. She lives in Manchester, United Kingdom. You can find her blog here and here. Her Pinterest page can be found here, and her Twitter is located here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

This is suitable for any epicurean of exceptional artistic expertise.

SYNOPSIS

This work is far more than a coffee table book. It is of Gallery quality in its presentation and content. The publication consists of a corollary of disparate international artists, united in their ability to illustrate 90 plants and flowers to an extraordinary level.

The book has full-page spreads of incredibly detailed botanical subjects, from a broad range of subjects. The professional expertise shines through on page after page. This level of artistic skill requires many thousands of hours of practical and theoretical application; with each painting requiring days or weeks of work to complete.

Whilst this is not a training manual for aspiring artists, it would make for an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to attain a higher competency in their craft.

The artistic styles and objects vary throughout the literature, thereby presenting a diverse and interesting presentation across the book. The author includes descriptions of each piece and suggested methods should the reader wish to attempt a similar subject. The format of the display pages has illustrations on one page and the previously mentioned tips and information on the other.

The fulcrum of the work is the Gallery. Alongside the gallery is a student to professional resource where there is some guidance on how to get started in botanical painting. The author includes reference pages and bibliographies for further study.

CONCLUSION

This is a stunning treasure of skill and ability created by a collection of global painters. It would increase the beauty and visual value of any bookcase or home library. Just Draw Botanicals has elevated the standard of botanical drawing compositions exceedingly high, forsaking many others.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

My sincere thanks go to Helen Birch, NetGalley, and White Lion Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Just Draw Botanicals.

Life Drawing For Artists – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleLife Drawing for Artists: Understanding
Figure Drawing Through Poses, Postures,
and Lighting
AuthorChris Legaspi
PublisherRockport Publishers (December 24, 2019)
FormatPaperback, Kindle
Pages176
Language: English
ISBN-10/ISBN-131631598015 / 978-1631598012

AUTHOR

Christopher Legaspi has taught at some of the top art schools in America, including the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood and the New Masters Academy.

His design and drawing classes are some of the most popular and exciting classes offered. Along with his classroom experience, he’s held workshops and lectured at the world-renowned Art Center College of Design, the Concept Design Academy, and LucasArts in Singapore.

If you would like to find out more, you can read all about the author on his own blog page by clicking here. You can find his portfolio here. He has a blog that you can visit here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Artists who are committed to improving their life study skills, and students who are still finding their favorite subjects to draw will find this book essential. In addition, any amateur artist who wants to see improvements in their work through study may benefit from the years of knowledge and experience contained within the 176 pages of this magnificent book.

SYONOPIS

In Life Drawing for Artists, Legaspi informs us of his technical approach to life drawing. As any professional artist will know, life drawing is best done with an actual artist’s model in good lighting. The costs of employing a live model can be prohibitive and this is where books like Legaspi’s come in to their own.

The author starts where all art creation begins, with the materials and tools. Chris goes on to discuss how important quick sketches are to capturing the moment. Quick sketching is a conventional method used in every place where art is taught. The brevity of producing drawings in limited time forces the artist to make hard decisions quickly. This method forces the artist to identify the lines, shapes and forms of the body often without allowing the pencil to leave the page for the greatest speed.

In later passages Legaspi refers to the various elements that make up the body arms, legs, head and torso. Most important for those learning life drawing is how to assess the proportions of the body correctly. Learning the anatomical proportions is central to the improvement in any artist’s work. He further explains poses and positions that are more esthetically pleasing to the eye. The perspective of the body and how to achieve the correct depiction I believe will remain a favorite of many readers.

The reader is left in no doubt that Chris Legaspi is a practiced and professional lecturer in art and design. His experience is palpable as you traverse the pages and are confronted with page after page of pure artists gold.

CONCLUSION

Life Drawing for Artists is in every way a university level course. The author takes the student on a journey similar to a class in academia. You get to choose how quickly you move forward. You have time to consider, assess, and control your own learning rate. The pages are replete with helpful and useful information from an expert with many years of experience in the industry.

In this text you will find many techniques to aid in improving your skills and take them to the next level. Among these techniques are: Increased knowledge of the human body and its structures, methods to develop exciting poses, a focus on drawing methods and how to enhance them, and how to use basic forms and shapes to aid in sketching methods.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere thanks go to Chris Legaspi, NetGalley, and Rockport Publishers, for affording me the opportunity to review Life Drawing for Artists: Understanding Figure Drawing Through Poses, Postures, and Lighting.