The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

7047094Looked good so I picked it up.

Stats: Audio book is 17 discs, it doesn’t tell me the hours (a lot). Read by Treat Williams, Anne Heche “and a full cast.” Print book is 565 pages, published in 2010.

Blurb: Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

What I liked: The question behind Robert Oliver’s action in the beginning is well hid, along with the connection of the people around him to this man. The information is doled out slowly. I like how the artwork is an integral part of the story, so much so that I wanted to see it for real. Alas, this is fiction. I imagine some of the artists she mentions in the Washington’s National Gallery are real, so I’ll have to try and find those. The surprise at the end was good. I was expecting something else, of course. The narrators did a fine job.

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned, the information about Robert Oliver is doled out slowly, too slowly at times. And other information is not needed, like stuff about Mary, who is connected to Robert (I won’t say how so as not to give anything away). Kostova tells of Mary’s childhood and life as she grew up, something that really didn’t add anything to the main story, in my opinion. Then there is the question of why doesn’t Robert speak? It’s never really shared and it is the only way the story can be told as it is. And it’s not to realistic to believe his psychiatrist would travel to Jamaica (I think that’s where he went) and France just to find out the mystery, whether it’s for his own curiosity or for his patient, or for both. And low and behold – they find the missing information! Really?! But these things are not enough of a problem to make the story a problem to read.

Rating: 3.5/5



Photo Phriday

compliments of Photobotos and March Adamus

compliments of Photobotos and March Adamus

Isn’t this amazing. It is actually a composite of 13 images (taken on the same evening). I generally like “real” – not photo shopped – images, but this one took Marc 4 days cold and late, late nights to get create this image and it is really quite beautiful, so I have to put aside my prejudice and just enjoy the artistry. It was taken in the Yukon, Canada and is the Tombstone Range. The ice formation alone is amazing but with the aurora borealis on top of it. It must have been inspiring being there.

Photo Friday

Someone on the site took a look at Aaron’s sketches, so fortunately for me and now for you, I checked out their site and I saw this post:  The Dreamy World of Lorland Chen .

Artist Lorland Chen from

This really struck me. This is digital art, but it’s so beautiful and as my son says, it’s photo realism, so I had to share it on my Photo Friday.  I can really see a good story around this piece of art. Lorland titles this work: Knowledge and Wisdom. Go to this site and enjoy more of Lorland Chen’s work!

Aaron’s Sketches for The Red Velvet Box

Aaron and I met last week to nail down what illustrations we wanted for The Red Velvet Box project. This week he has started working on character sketches. This is so fun for me to see what he comes up with. I have a vague idea of what I see with these character when I wrote them into being, but it will be interesting to see them “in the flesh” so to speak. I think it is interesting how he puts so many ideas/sketches on one page. (a step into the mind of an artist!)

If you want to see a bit more of what he’s come up with on the book go to his blog: You can also view a lot of his other stuff. I like his work, but then I’m a little biased.

And I need to make another plea for the project. I had a flurry of activity the first week we put up the project but nothing since. We’re still only 4% funded and we only have 18 days to go, so I would appreciate any support you can give us including just passing this on. Thanks!

I am so Excited!

I just posted a project on: 

(click on the Kickstarter logo to see my project page) Doesn’t sound very exciting, but it really is. If you ever had something you wanted to do but couldn’t do it for one reason or another, then some or something happened and VOILA!, it happens! That’s exciting!

Well that is what I am hoping for with Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a very unique website. It is a place where people who have ideas get their ideas funded – ideas for a music CD, ideas for video game, ideas for a design, ideas for a movie, ideas for a BOOK… Well you get the idea! (yuk, yuk). The fun thing about the funding is that anyone from any where in the world can help fund a project with as little as $1 (or anything above that). It’s a really fun idea, I think. I like to support the arts, but presently don’t really have the funds to do that much. This site allows you to fund creative ideas and creative people with whatever amount of money you want.

And what’s even better is with any money pledged, each project creator has agreed to give you a “reward” for your pledge.

I’ll use my project to tell you what I mean. I have a Christmas story called The Red Velvet Box. It is a short story that I would like to have illustrated. Well, illustrations cost money, and in this story, there will be over 25 illustrations. The other fun thing about this project is that my son, Aaron, is going to do the illustrations for me. He is continuing his art education in the fall, so this will help him pay for his schooling.

So I build this web page thanks to the Kickstarter folks, made up a video with the help of my daughter and my friend Colleen, made up rewards for various dollar amounts pledged {ie. pledge $25 and get a book with your name in the book on the “thank you” page.} and posted it. Now I have 30 days to come up with the goal needed to illustrate and publish The Red Velvet Box.  If I don’t reach my goal, then nothing happens, no money changes hands, no rewards are handed out, no illustrations are drawn. If I make my goal (or surpass it!) then Kickstarter gets 5% of what is pledged, and projects goes forward and I send out the rewards to the people who have pledged.

Again- pretty cool idea, don’t you think? I hope you think it’s cool, and I hope you check out the project:

If you aren’t in a place to contribute toward the project, please do me a big favor and share it with people you know. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for your help, and I’ll keep you posted on my blog how things are going: post illustrations as Aaron finishes them, let you know how the pledges are going…

I’m so excited!