Monday, August 31, 2015

September Reading List

Hey Everyone, 

This month, I will be reading the following: 

1. Musings of a Madman, a poetry book by Adam Brown
2. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
3. Possibly something by Oliver Sacks, a well known neurologist who died this week, if anyone has any suggestions and if time permits! 

Stay Tuned,

Book Review: The Gaugin Connection by Estelle Ryan

Hey Guys,

Here's the last book review of August! I recently had the pleasure of reading The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan, which is an introduction to the Genevieve Lenard series. What a cool book! It combines my love for art and mystery novels into a novel that I couldn't put down. Genevieve Lenard is a very unusual heroine. She is a highly functioning autistic person and initially is very misunderstood. Over the course of the novel, not only does she solve a complex case, but develops several new relationships, including a potentially romantic relationship.

This book is much much more than just a simple mystery. It forces us to think about the assumptions we make about people who view the world differently from us. At work, I interact with patients from all walks of life and I put a great deal of effort into approaching every case in as neutral a manner as possible. Assumptions only hurt us and prevent us from growing, and I think this concept is presented very clearly in the Gauguin Connection. Genevieve ends up forming strong bonds with people in the most unlikely places.

In terms of character development, I loved the main character. She was brave, spunky, and funny. She was well developed and her interactions with the other characters were humorous at times. I enjoyed reading about the budding relationship between Genevieve and Colin and would love to read more. The book was well paced and kept me engaged. I was eager to see Genevieve solve the mystery

In technical terms, the book was well written with no noticeable typos. The characters were well written and complex. I would be interested in reading more about the early days of Genevieve's relationship with Philip. I would also love to learn more about Colin and Vinnie's past. This book is followed by several others in the series, and when I get the chance, I am looking forward to working my way through the rest of the series. I would also be interested in reading other books by Ms. Ryan as her writing style greatly appeals to me. Overall quite an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend checking this series out!

My Review: 5 Stars

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Featured Photographer: Uday Misra

Hi Guys,

Time for something a little different. As I said earlier, I would like to feature noteworthy artists of all kinds on this blog. Today I would like to focus on a young and talented photographer named Uday Misra. Uday is a college student and a business major with an interest in photography. I've taken a look at some of his photos and he has a knack for taking a standard photo-op and putting his own spin on it. In his own words, his goal is to "frame the conventional in an unconventional way". Take a look at some of his photos below.

The most important thing for any artist is honest feedback. Leave a comment and let Uday know what you think. If you are a photographer, give him some advice! Also feel free to send me photos to feature on the blog!

Don't forget to be polite when you are giving feedback!


Book Review: Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J Pepper

Hi Guys,

One of the books I read for the month of August, is a book that has been on my to-read list for quite a while! Here is my review for Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J Pepper.

I've always enjoyed the "fractured fairy tale" format, in which an author takes a well known and well loved story and puts their own spin on it. Death of a Mad Hatter is a very unusual book. It is about the relationship between a young boy Ryley and Alice Mae, from "Alice in Wonderland". I don't want to spoil the book for you by giving away too about Ryley's identity. To give you a quick rundown, there is a prophecy in Wonderland, about the person who will end the Queen of Heart's Reign of Terror. The Queen of Hearts sends Alice to bring Ryley to her, who she assumes is the person named in the prophecy. Of course, Alice and Ryley fall in love.

It took me a few chapters to start liking this book. At first, I was trying to put all the pieces together and I was a bit confused. Once some of the pieces fell into place however, I started to really enjoy the book. Alice was a fascinating character! She was well developed and likable. The book looked past the absurdity of Wonderland and showed us that at her core, she was simply a young girl who had been through a lot and wanted to be loved.

Ryley was also very interesting. I enjoyed finding out his connections to Wonderland and the prophecy. The author did a good job with developing his character. He started out as immature and somewhat irritating but became an unconventional hero.

I would have liked to learn more about some of the Wonderland characters, especially the Joker. What happened to make him so very sadistic? I also wanted to know more about Ryley's father and uncle and how they ended up in Wonderland in the first place.

From a technical standpoint, the book was well written and only had a few typos. I do think the pacing was an issue. As I said above, it took a few chapters before things fell into place and I could enjoy the book. It's a complex story and I understand that the author didn't want to give away too much upfront but I was pretty confused at the beginning.

To sum up, this was a very interesting book. It took a standard story and turned it on its head. When I think of Wonderland, I imagine it as a crazy place where Alice went to escape her dreary life. The Wonderland depicted in this book, however, is dark and scary. Alice herself is flawed and traumatized by a lot of what has happened to her, but the relationship that develops between her and Ryley helps her to heal. I would be interested in reading more about this couple as well as the other characters in the story. I would also love to read other books by this author.

My Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chai Time Buzz # 1

Featured Artist: Degas

I recently saw this painting at the Barnes Foundation in Philly. The above picture is linked to a post in the Smithsonian magazine where you can read about Degas and his ballerinas in more detail. I am a dancer, although not a professional and I absolutely love the above picture. The dancers are waiting in the wings to perform and Degas has made them look so graceful.

Featured Music: Cheerleader by OMI

This song is a total guilty pleasure. It's incredibly catchy. Not a particularly thought provoking song but it really gets me in summer mode and makes me want to take a trip to Jamaica. 

Featured Movie: Mr. Holmes 

I LOVED this movie. It was so different from the other Sherlock Holmes movies that have been released in recent years. It shows Sherlock as an elderly man, many years after his last (unsolved) case. Ian Mckellan is brilliant. He struggles with memories of the extraordinary detective he once was, and tries to deal with the vagaries of old age. 

Featured Photo:  From Humans of New York

This picture sums up the frustration that I often feel as a young woman in Medicine.

As a Marylander and a lover of all things Poe, I had to feature this poem first. It is spooky and wonderful and I never tire of hearing it. 

Featured Book: Hyperbole and a Half 
Written and illustrated by Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half started as a blog. It is laugh out loud funny and I couldn't put it down. Filled with hilarious stories from her awkward childhood as well as a piece on depression that was particularly poignant. 

Please send me your submissions! I want to feature artists, musicians, poets, photographers, and writers from all over.

For the month of August, I'm going to
review the following books : 

The Gaugin Connection by Estelle Ryan
Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J Pepper 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I'm Back!

After a very long time, I want to start my blog again. I am trying to decide what I want this blog to be. I want it to be more than just a book review blog. My tentative goal is to make it a place where I can showcase things of my own and things created by other artists, including writers, poets, painters, musicians, photographers, etc.

Some of the other things I would like to feature on here are:
-movies and music
-my own writing

If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them :)

-I am looking for two books maximum to review on this blog for the month of August 2015. For those authors whose books I did not get to before my blog went on hiatus, I am very sorry. I am looking through my backlog of books and will be emailing you. I will do one book from my preexisting list of books to review and one new book. I will announce my choices this week!

Looking forward to hearing from you guys.

-- chaitime