Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe


Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle | eBranch Harris County Public Library

(Written 31 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle & Grace Conlin (Narrator)

Release Date: May 9, 2006
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN:  9781455100132

Duration: 13 hours, 39 minutes

Reasons for Reading: I wanted another eAudio. Also, I wanted something very different from Black Like Me. When I saw a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, I felt I’d achieved that. All I remembered about her was that she was an artist that one of my sixth grade teachers said painted whatever she saw around her. While I found this simplistic, I felt there must be more to Georgia O’Keeffe. So, I checked it out via HCPL Overdrive and ultimately listened to it on my Nook Tablet.

Summary: This book takes on the true story of the American iconoclast – Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe marched to the beat of her own drummer perhaps from the beginning. Her larger than life story, bigger than some of her canvasses, draws interest.This artist lived nearly a century, one marked in change and evolution. Just the roles she played throughout her life – woman, artist, muse, lover, wife, friend, etc don’t begin to define her.

One Thing I Learned from reading Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe: O’Keeffe was the namesake of her maternal grandfather – George Victor Totto, a Hungarian count who came to the US in 1848.

What I Liked:  I liked that the author expressed herself in an objective way. Lisle portrayed O’Keeffe, warts and all, as the saying goes. She also described O’Keeffe’s mercurial ways very well.

What I Disliked: I blame myself for this. When I read about a visual artist in the future, I must skip an audiobook. I truly must see the pictures. While this encouraged me to browse online for O’Keeffe’s art, it was rather inconvenient listening to this on my work commute.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Georgia on my Mind- Ray Charles – YouTube

Setting: Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Chicago

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Sarah Dessen’s This Lullaby


This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen | LibraryThing

Dessen, S. (2002). This lullaby: A novel. New York: Viking. 9781101175613

Reasons for Reading: When I discovered Sarah Dessen after seeing How to Deal back in 2005, I read all of her published books. I’ve kept an eye out for her books as they hit the bookstores and request them at the library. I read This Lullaby during this period. During Summer 2012, thanks to the wonderful Friends of Freeman Library’s support, I attended the American Library Association (ALA) Conference and entered my name into many drawings. I became the lucky owner of a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet (compliments of ALA, Ebsco, and Barnes & Noble. Then, I perused  HCPL’s Digital Media Catalog and saw Dessen’s This Lullaby available for checkout. Thus, I reread it on my brand new Nook.

Summary:  Remy Starr gained much from her parents. From her late father, she was honored in the pop hit “This Lullaby” which she detests. She has also learned from her mother’s mistakes. As Remy plans her mother’s wedding to husband number five, she’s also plotting a clean break from her current boyfriend before she heads to Stanford University in the fall. Remy lives by the creed that relationships should be short-lived. As she pines for a fun last summer before college with her friends Jess, Lissa, and Chloe, sloppy musician Dexter doggedly pursues Remy. He’s sloppy, clumsy, and a musician – definitely not Remy’s Mr. Right. So, why can’t she get rid of this guy?

What I Liked: I liked the rich, dimensional characters Dessen creates. Imagining Dexter’s band, The Truth Squad, was simple. Even some of the over the top character such as Remy’s mother, romance novelist Barbara Starr, seemed natural. Also, it was nice getting to see Scarlett Thomas from Dessen’s Someone Like You.

What I Disliked: Both times I read This Lullaby, I had a hard time warming up to Remy. I thought she was a bit rough on people in general. Also, she was cynical enough to make me flinch. However, I appreciated her realizations by the end of the book.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Shawn Mullins – Lullaby – YouTube

Setting : Lakeview North Carolina, Palo Alto California

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Peach Keeper


The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2011). The peach keeper: A novel. New York: Bantam Books. 9780553807226

Reasons for Reading : Okay, I’ve enjoyed all of the Sarah Addison Allen’s books thus far and I wanted to read The Peach Keeper. Upon returning from England, I happily found two copies on the shelf of my HCPL branch. I checked out one and read it within a week.

Summary: Thirty-year old Willa Jackson has resigned herself to a quiet life in her hometown of Walls of Waters, North Carolina. She runs a camping goods store and looks forward to laundry night. Her days of high school joker are long behind her. Willa discovers that her old high school classmate, philanthropic socialite Paxton Osgood, has restored the Jackson family’s former home – the Blue Ridge Madam. Paxton anticipates turning the Blue Ridge Madam into an inn. Then, the landscaping crew unearths a skeleton beneath the lone peach tree. Willa’s quiet life shatters as she and Paxton face their intertwined family histories.

Review : While I enjoyed more Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I also liked The Peach Keeper. I appreciated the reality of these characters, especially Paxton’s relationship with Sebastian Rogers as well as several characters’ attempts to reconcile the past with the present and the future. However, I didn’t care for the 1930s storyline of their grandmothers. Lastly, my absolute favorite part of this novel were the Easter eggs of Garden Spells’ Claire and Bay Waverly.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Heart – Magic Man – YouTube

Setting : Walls of Water, North Carolina

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Girl Who Chased the Moon


The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2010). The girl who chased the moon. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 9781444706611

After reading her two previous books, I couldn’t wait to read Sara Addison Allen’s third – The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I requested the book from HCPL.

Seventeen-year-old orphan Emily Benedict, travels to Mullaby, North Carolina. She moves in with her maternal grandfather, gentle giant Vance. Grandpa Vance does not talk much of the late Dulcie, Emily’s mother. Soon, Emily finds many folks in Mullaby hold a grudge against Dulcie. However, Emily discovers friends as well. One of these is Julia Winterson, a woman paying back her late father’s debt and once a girl Dulcie bullied. Julia bakes delicious cakes at her dad’s old BBQ restaurant. There’s Win, a boy just about Emily’s age who hasn’t inherited his family’s grudge against Dulcie. Then, there’s this amazing light show at night.

I liked The Girl Who Chased the Moon almost as much as Garden Spells and more than The Sugar Queen. The characters are more my speed – especially Julia. Maybe it’s the cakes.


Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Van Morrison – Moondance – YouTube

Places : North Carolina

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen


The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2008). The sugar queen. New York, N.Y: Bantam Dell. 9780553805499

I enjoy Garden Spells so much that I checked out Sarah Addison Allen’s second novel, The Sugar Queen from HCPL. I looked forward to returning the enchanted world of Allen’s North Carolina.

Josey Cirrini leads a predictable life in ski resort town Bald Slope, North Carolina. The twenty-seven year olds lives with her mother, the quintessential Southern Belle, whom Josey serves hand and foot. She loves winter and enjoys her stockpile of candy and romance novels in her closet. This all changes when Josey finds local waitress Della Lee Baker living in her closet. What should Josey do?

While I didn’t adore The Sugar Queen the way I did Allen’s Garden Spells, I liked this book. Characters from the warm Josey and Chloe to the chilly Margaret Cirrini are of the slice of life variety. I wasn’t terribly crazy about the mystery of Jake’s one night stand. Still, I appreciated that Allen didn’t tie all loose ends neatly – making this an authentic novel about everyday life with a dash of magic.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – ‪The Archies Sugar Sugar‬‏

Places : North Carolina

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Sarah Dessen’s What Happened to Goodbye


What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen | LibraryThing

Dessen, S. (2011). What happened to goodbye. New York: Viking. 9780670012947

I began reading Sarah Dessen books after seeing How to Deal. I like Dessen’s community of Lakeview and enjoy discovering the Easter eggs throughout her novels. What Happened to Goodbye is Dessen’s latest novel, the previous one having come out in 2009. I requested the book from Houston Public Library.

For the last couple of years, Mclean Sweet and her restaurant manager dad have moved four times. In each place, Mclean acts differently – a bubbly cheerleader in one place, a drama queen in the next town, and student council rep in the last. Mostly, she doesn’t want to make a new connection after her parents’ nasty divorce. However, in Lakeview, Mclean can’t seem to escape herself. She might actually have to face the music this time.

This book wasn’t my favorite Dessen work. It even had that Jason Talbot in it! However, I appreciated that Mclean seemed to bring together people. I wasn’t crazy about Dave, the main guy in this book, but I thought Opal and even Jason were cool. I couldn’t stand Mclean’s mom, Katie/Katherine, but sort of came around to her.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Coldplay – In My Place

Places : North Carolina, Florida, Hawaii

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Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells


Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2007). Garden spells. New York: Random House Large Print. 9780739327432

Back in February, I attended a Reader’s Advisory workshop. The speaker, Neal Wyatt, sang the praises of Garden Spells. Then, I heard this book was the alchemy of Practical Magic and Like Water for Chocolate. After hearing the rave reviews of my coworkers, I checked out Garden Spells from HCPL.

The Waverley women possess special abilities. In their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina, the Waverlys’ apple tree bears magical fruit of magical properties. Their garden yields unique, edible flowers. At this time, 34-year-old Claire Waverly embraces the family traits and runs a lucrative catering business. On the other hand, her younger sister, Sydney wants little to do with family inheritance. Sydney left behind her hometown.

However, Sydney returns to Bascom, bringing her daughter, Bay with her. In Bascom, Sydney faces the ghosts of the past, determined to make a better future for Bay.  

Reading Garden Spells was a true joy for me. Sarah Addison Allen rendered a beautiful picture of the Waverlys and the Bascom community. Even villainess Emma is relateable and Allen deals with her kindly. I enjoyed the Waverlys more than the Owens sisters in Practical Magic but strong similarities can’t be denied.  

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Strange Magic by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)

Places : North Carolina, Seattle

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