I stumbled across this on MyModernMet, and I wanted to share it. these little dioramas are adorable, bringing tiny illustrations of classic book characters to life. Here’s more about the project:
Thomas Allen brings literary characters to life in a charming diorama series of paper “dolls” cut from book illustrations. The tiny people he frees from the pages of vintage books display the innocent fashion of the 1940s and ‘50s. He repositions the figures in new, surprising environments: A group of schoolboys plays a game atop a solar system map, a milkman delivers bottles against a galactic backdrop, and a little girl skips rope in front of a black-and-white book page, evidently overjoyed to be unbound from the pages.
Allen drew inspiration for his project from his childhood love of View-Masters and pop-up books. He enjoys projects that visually juxtapose characters and settings. “Allen gently cuts around the shape of his figures, physically releasing them from their two-dimensional surface and then places them in a new display of meaningful interactions,” his gallery webpage explains. “His characters are brought to life from their pages and covers by detailed lighting and selective focus, ultimately telling a distinct narrative with their newly defined settings.”
MyModernMet is a great place to find interesting art projects. Check them out!
I love a good thriller! Cane and Abe by James Grippando:
A spellbinding novel of suspense from New York Times bestselling author James Grippando, in which Miami’s top prosecutor becomes a prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, which may have a chilling connection to the woman he can’t forget.
Unbelievable was the word for her. Samantha Vine was unbelievably beautiful. It was unbelievable that she’d married me. Even more unbelievable that she was gone . . .
Samantha died too soon. Abe Beckham’s new wife has helped him through the loss, but some say it was a step back to marry Angelina, a love from Abe’s past. Abe doesn’t want to hear it, and through the ups and downs, he’s even managed to remain a star prosecutor at the Miami State Attorney’s Office.
Then everything goes wrong. A woman’s body is discovered dumped in the Everglades, and Abe is called upon to monitor the investigation. The FBI is tracking a killer in South Florida they call “Cutter” because his brutal methods harken back to Florida’s dark past, when machete-wielding men cut sugarcane by hand in the blazing sun.
But when the feds discover that Abe had a brief encounter with the victim after Samantha’s death, and when Angelina goes missing, the respected attorney finds himself under fire. Suspicion surrounds him. His closest friends, family, professional colleagues, and the media no longer trust his motives. Was Angelina right? Was their marriage not what they’d hoped for because he loved Samantha too much? Or was there another woman . . . and a husband with a dark side who simply wanted his new wife gone?
Nick Cutter’s The Deep starts out with a very promising premise: a strange plague is afflicting humanity on a global scale. Scientists have stumbled upon a possible cure — at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. In a desperate race to save the human race, governments have come together to build a research station at the bottom of the ocean, eight miles underwater. The Trieste may be man’s last hope, but there is something lurking there, and the cure they are researching might not be benign.
I loved the beginning of the novel. The plague itself is horrifying: those suffering with The ‘Gets slowly begin to forget everything. At first, it’s small things, like where they left their car keys. Later, it’s their name, how to feed themselves, even how to breathe. The situation is dire enough to imagine this sort of multinational cooperation and expenditure. Luke Nelson has been called to the site of this amazing research station to try and retrieve his brother, Clayton. Clayton is difficult and unpleasant, probably a bit of a sociopath, but he is also a genius, a brilliant researcher and he is currently at the bottom of the ocean and he has stopped communicating with the researchers on the surface. They hope his brother can draw him out, but that means sending his brother on that long, cold, dark journey to the ocean floor.
It’s a great build up. I was reading the novel while on a business trip, in a hotel room far from home. The descriptions of the research station were strangely in tune with the hotel: the strange shadows and unexpected noises, the feeling of isolation combined with the weird watched feeling you get when you’re surrounded by strangers – it was the perfect atmosphere for reading something like this. It really gave me the creeps. The story itself was pretty engaging, especially when you start learning the backstories of the various characters. Luke and Clayton had a pretty rough childhood and they have never been close. The other scientists have their own tragic pasts and early on, you begin to wonder if that is a coincidence. There is definitely something happening on the Trieste, and it’s not something good.
My real problem with the book is the ending. After a great build-up, great stories hinting at something evil, something strategic and inhuman, the ending really fell flat. I found some of the conclusions just too much to swallow – the idea that whatever this lifeform might be, it had the sort of influence they suggested was too implausible. The last scene was even more disappointing to me. I don’t require that a book wrap up every storyline in a ribbon and present it to the reader all neat and tidy – in fact, I would prefer that it did not – but this felt like taking the easy way out. I still have another book by Nick Cutter on the shelf – The Troop – and I plan to give it a try. The Deep had so much potential, but a really flat finish.
My copy of The Deep was an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.
This one made me laugh – back when I was spending a lot of time in Amsterdam for work, the first place I learned to find on my own (after my office) was the American Book Center on the Spui. Spent a lot of lovely weekend mornings there.
“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”
A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory is a lovely little book, beautifully illustrated with tiny watercolor paintings of olives and figs and rabbits and vegetables and wine bottles. The emphasis is on the word little – on some pages, the writing is so small that it is almost impossible to read. The pages are full of tiny watercolors, small-scale photographs, leaves and flowers and fruits in a wonderful color palette. The paper is heavy and more textured than an average book, and the font is chosen to mimic handwriting. I spent a long flight studying the tiny charts on how to cut cheese correctly, miniature photos of bamboo implements, drawings of dogs and stone walls.
It is a food-lover’s journal of places visited, meals eaten, tastes remembered, There are recipes and recommendations: what to eat in Morocco, perfect foods for summer days and nights, the best way to prepare parsnips. I loved the pages on choosing the perfect mug, food memories, and the chapter on the history of olives and olive oil.
It’s really a beautiful book, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with it, now that I have enjoyed the first reading. It’s not the sort of thing I’m likely to read again (at least not after I try that recipe for Onions Monegasque). It would have been the perfect stocking stuffer for food-loving friends; I know a number of people who will enjoy reading the tiny print and smiling over the tiny pictures. Whether they will use it to suggest table settings or ideas for onion tarts, I can’t say for certain, but it will be a lovely addition to their shelves and certain to bring a smile.
My copy of A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.
I don’t recall requesting this one, but it certainly sounds interesting! Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan:
In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.
Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.
After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley . . .
Man V. Nature: Storiesby Diane Cook is a fascinating book of short stories – the kind that keep you thinking long after you finish reading. The stories present impossible situations — truly impossible situations that you can’t imagine happening in real life. In “The Not-Needed Forest, a 10 year old boy is told he is “not needed” and is sent off for incineration. Huh? What parents would allow this? Why is it only 10 year old boys who are deemed “not needed”? Why not girls or 12 year old boys? It’s a completely improbable situation, but he waits on the front lawn for the bus and off he goes – how could that possibly happen? The way the characters navigate these strange circumstances makes for really intriguing reading.
In “Moving On” my first thought was that this was an impossible situation that some people might really be drawn to. Our main character is a recent widow, and after a very brief period of mourning, she is sent off to a sort of boot camp for widows and widowers. (Her home and all the belongings she shared with her husband are sold and the proceeds become part of her dowry.) She gets counseling to help her get over the loss of her husband as quickly as possible. She is encouraged to get in shape, learn new hobbies, make new friends, all with an eye towards attracting a new spouse. Her spouse will choose her (and her dowry) from among a batch of profiles and she gets no choice in the matter.
In another favorite, “Somebody’s Baby,” a woman comes home from the hospital with her new baby to find a man lurking in the yard — a man who plans to steal the baby. This is a perfectly normal occurrence; some families lose two, even three babies before the man moves on to other families, but when the new mother suggests protecting their children and fighting back, she is ridiculed and shunned by her neighbors.
I find myself thinking about these stories, even as time passes. What would I do if clothes and trinkets began turning up in my washing machine? Why would a woman become fixated on a perfectly ordinary weatherman? What mother wouldn’t want to retrieve her stolen children? I think that’s really the measure of a book like this — how long do the stories stay with you? How often do you find yourself thinking about them? What new insights have come, weeks down the road? If a book can keep me thinking and questioning, I will definitely be recommending it to my friends, and I will certainly be recommending this one.
My copy of Man V. Nature: Stories was an advanced reader copy, provided free of charge.
What a great way to start the new year – more new books than I can read! But I will try and make time for them all. Today, it’s The Swimmer by Joakim Zander:
A deep-cover CIA agent races across Europe to save the daughter he never knew in this electrifying debut thriller—an international sensation billed as “Homeland meets Stieg Larsson” that heralds the arrival of a new master sure to follow in the footsteps of Stieg Larsson, John Le Carré, and Graham Greene.
In the end, you cannot hide who you are.
Klara Walldéen was raised by her grandparents on a remote archipelago in the Baltic Sea, learning to fish and hunt and sail a boat through a storm. Now, as an EU Parliament aide in Brussels, she is learning how to navigate the treacherous currents of international politics: the lines between friend and enemy, truth and lies.
But Klara has accidentally seen something she shouldn’t have: a laptop containing information so sensitive that someone will kill to keep hidden. Suddenly, she is thrown into a terrifying chase across Europe, with no idea who is hunting her or why.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, an old spy hides from his past. Once, he was a man of action, an operative so dedicated that he abandoned his infant daughter to keep his cover. Now, he is the only man who can save Klara . . . and she is the only woman who can allow him to lay old ghosts to rest.