Book Review: Journal Sparks

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive ThinkingIn Journal Sparks, Emily Neuburger delivers exactly what she promises. This delightful book simply brims with ideas to fire up the reader’s creativity with “spontaneous art, wild writing, and inventive thinking.” Organized around seven themes, including invention, color and construction, wordsmith, and journal making and hacking, each section uses colorful photographs, illustrations, and guest journalers to provide numerous prompts to spur the reader’s own creativity. For example, Neuburger suggests making a visual record of the day, creating and naming new colors, and creating alphabetical lists of interesting things. As an added bonus, Neuburger includes over ten double-sided, pull-out pages of collage paper and stickers to nudge the reader to begin. However, what makes this book really stand out is Neuburger’s abundant enthusiasm for creative journaling that is so apparent in its pages. That enthusiasm is contagious and will make it hard for the reader to resist trying at least a few of the prompts. For the person who fears the blank page or the experienced journaler looking for new ideas, Journal Sparks is an excellent choice.

(Originally reviewed for Manhattan Book Review.)

A Quote to Consider

“This first thought comes from your intuitive mind, where the creative process finds its foothold and the ego holds no sway. This is the place of rich images and deep thoughts.”

Reeves, Judy. A writers book of days: a spirited companion & lively muse for the writing life. New World Library, 2010.

365 Somethings Project: Week 8

I’m pretty happy with my progress this week, so let’s get right into it.

1. Ashley Cowl: I think I see the end in sight, and I like what I see! (And I can legitimately start pondering the next project. *she types with a happy gleam in her eye.*)

Ashley Cowl progress

2. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: This week’s project involved stippling, or taking a gel pen and dotting the page until you start questioning your sanity. Truth be told, I’ve never been a real fan of pointillism, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m not fond of stippling. Bottom line: I completely agree with Rachel’s comment that it provides a nice texture for the mushrooms and I see that it provides a great deal of control for both mixing colors and creating lighter and darker areas. I’m glad I understand the technique, but I’m pretty sure it will make rare appearances at best in my work.

Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop Stippling Project

3. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: I also post an entry for this week’s challenge. The topic was “Sweet.”

Overall, I feel like I accomplished something this week, and it does seem the challenge keeps creativity in the back of my mind throughout the week. Probably most important to me, I’m noticing that, whenever I’m working on something for my challenge, I generally have a feeling of satisfaction. That’s good information to have when planning the rest of your life. 🙂

Book Review: A Well-Timed Murder

A Well-Timed Murder: An Agnes Lüthi Mystery (Agnes Luthi Mysteries)A well-known watchmaker, Guy Chavanon, dies at a reception at his son’s boarding school from anaphylactic shock resulting from his peanut allergy. Was it just bad luck, or was it murder? Chavanon’s daughter insists her father was murdered because he was an eccentric genius who had made a great discovery. Others argue that Chavanon was mentally unbalanced. Agnes Luthi, barely back on the job from her last case, dives immediately into the intriguing, but tight-knit world of Swiss watchmaking. Alternating between a glamorous trade show and an exclusive private school, Luthi deftly sorts numerous loose ends, while occasionally tangling with her mother in law, dealing with her own grief, and trying not to think about the handsome, wealthy gentlemen who seems to be ever present. In A Well-Timed Murder, Tracee de Hahn has written a well-paced murder mystery in an alluring setting that will keep the reader interested and guessing until the end.

(Originally reviewed through Netgalley.)


Book Review: Merton’s Palace of Nowhere

Merton's Palace of NowhereAs a young contemplative, James Finley had the opportunity to learn under Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Years later, he shared those insights into Merton’s thinking in his book, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. Now forty years later, Finley’s work is being reissued, and this book remains as startlingly insightful as it was when first published. Merton was capable of seeing through to the truth of our reality in a way that few us achieve, and Finley’s writing makes that wisdom all the more accessible for us. This small volume, which begins by distinguishing our true and false selves and ends by instructing on the two selves’ ultimate conclusion in death, provides sufficient material for a lifetime of contemplation. Whether revisiting this volume or discovering it for the first time, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere should not be missed by the serious contemplative, lay or otherwise.

(Reviewed through Netgalley.)