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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John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me


Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin | LibraryThing

(Last book review of books finished in 2012!)

Griffin, J. H., & Childs, R. (2004). Black like me. Middletown, Me.: Audio Bookshelf, LLC.

Reasons for Reading:Yet again, I sought another nonfiction eAudio work to entertain me during my work commute. I came across Black Like Me, checked it out from the HCPL Digital Media Catalog, and put it on my iPhone.

Summary: Texas Writer John Howard Griffin underwent a bold experiment like no other. He left his home in Mansfield, Texas with the intent to “pass as black.” With the help of a reticent New Orleans dermatologist, Griffin took a course of drugs, endured sunlamp treatments, and applied skin creams in order to understand the “black experience” firsthand. He also shaved his head and, later, his arms.

Then, he traveled through the Deep South as a black man. His social experiment altered the lives of many. Black Like Me is a journal of Griffin’s courageous experiment. The title comes from Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations”

Rest at pale evening…

A tall slim tree…

Night coming tenderly

Black like me.

What I Liked: I appreciated what Griffin did. Also, I found Griffin to be a gifted writer who wanted to understand and help his fellow citizens. I liked that Griffin didn’t lie, either. He seemed to be an interesting and virtuous man.

What I Disliked:  Many versions of this book exist. I’m grateful I got an edition with an epilogue which Griffin wrote in the 1970s. As hindsight is 20/20, Griffin related the outcome of Black Like Me. It’s my feeling that this should be the version everyone reads.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: Texas, New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina

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Sandra Brown’s Lethal


Lethal by Sandra Brown | LibraryThing

Brown, S., Slezak, V., & Hachette Audio (Firm). (2011). Lethal. New York: Hachette Audio. 9781609419172

Reasons for Reading : Since I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading Sandra Brown books, I requested her latest through HCPL. I read both the hardcover and audiobook version of Lethal.

Summary : Widow Honor Gillette lives with her four year old daughter, Emily, on a remote property outside a small Louisiana town. When Emily tells Honor there’s a sick man in their yard, Honor goes out to offer aid to the ill man, she discovers Lee Coburn. Coburn is on the run under the suspicion of killing seven people the previous night. He swears to Honor that she and Emily will not be hurt provided that Honor does as Coburn tells her. Beyond this point, Honor questions the trustworthiness of all in her life.

Review : Before I delve into the negatives, let me mention a few things I truly appreciated in this book. 1) Brown notes at the end of the novel that much of the action involved cell phones. I enjoyed what she expressed about this and since it’s post-novel, I’m not saying anymore. 2) Not always, but often, Brown spoke of her characters “cursing profusely” (Brown, 2011) rather than reveal what choice words characters employed. 3) Brown shines when it comes to dialogue. I believe she has an ear for it.

However, this wasn’t my favorite Sandra Brown book. She had some really nasty characters in Lethal. Also, I found some of the answers to the mysteries with rather unlikely. Lastly, the following comment isn’t about Brown but rather about the narrator. This guy didn’t read the female dialogue in falsetto but I dreaded each time little Emily spoke. He shouldn’t ever do child voices.  

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song : Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou – YouTube

Setting  : Louisiana

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James Patterson and Richard DiLallo’s The Christmas Wedding


The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson | LibraryThing

Patterson, J., & DiLallo, R. (2011). The Christmas wedding. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316097390

Reasons for Reading : As I worked towards reading sixty books, my mom recommended this James Patterson (and Richard DiLallo) book as a quick read. She borrowed the book from HCPL and finished it long before it was due. Also, I wanted to read a James Patterson book. Don’t worry, I still plan to try an Alex Cross soon 🙂 .

Summary: Fifty-something widow Gaby Summerhill and her estranged family haven’t reassembled since the services of her late husband. Gaby sends out a video to all four of her grown children, inviting them to her wedding which will be held in the barn on her Massachusetts estate. Guess what! It’s on Christmas Day (please refer to title). Who is the amazing Gaby joining in holy matrimony? Well, come and find out on Christmas, Gaby tells her kids. Also, we’re offered glimpses into the emotional upheaval within the lives of the Summerhill progeny – Claire, Emily, Seth, and Lizzie.

Review : I enjoyed this book – it was light without schmaltz. The characters were easily perceivable, identifiable, and even likable. The Summerhills are fun and altruistic. Oh, and, yes, it’s a quick, seasonal read. I urge anyone yearning to get into the yuletide spirit to read it.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Eartha Kitt with Friends Santa Baby – YouTube

Setting : Massachusetts, South Carolina, New York City, Boston

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Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl


Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand | LibraryThing

Hilderbrand, E. (2011). Silver girl: A novel. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316099660

While in England, my roommate gave me a book she just finished. It was Silver Girl. This was the first book I’ve ready by Elin Hilderbrand.

Hilderbrand relates a story of two estranged friends in addition to a tale of a Ponzi schemer. The author gives us two perspectives – that one of Meredith Martin Delinn, the wife of the “Bernie Madoff” character – Freddy Delinn, and her childhood friend Constance “Connie” O’Brien Flute. Forty-nine year old Meredith has lost it all thanks to Freddy cheating rich people out of loads of money. Nobody wants to associate with Meredith and she can’t talk to her grown sons because they’re also implicated in her husband’s crime. Connie’s got problems of her own in addition to the rift between her and Meredith. Then, Connie calls Meredith and the two head out to Nantucket for the summer. Here, Meredith and Connie make way for reconciliation as well as ghosts from the past. Meredith also has to face her old boyfriend, Toby O’Brien, Connie’s brother. 

I found Silver Girl easy to read and the characters realistic. I liked that Hilderbrand offered a point of view such as Meredith’s. Also, I liked that the title was a reference to a song by one of my all-time favorite music acts. I wanted to know more about Connie, though. Also, I was annoyed by how the author stated the characters’ full names. For example:

“The ring had been inherited from her grandmother, Annabeth Martin, and not bought with dirty money.”

“And the way that Meredith knew that Veronica O’Brien drank was because her own parents talked about it. . .

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: ‪Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water Original Version‬‏ – YouTube

Setting :  New York City, Nantucket

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Sandra Brown’s Smoke Screen


Smoke Screen by Sandra Brown | LibraryThing

Brown, S. (2008). Smoke screen. Waterville, Me: Thorndike Press. 9781410405630

When I desperately needed a book, I spied a Sandra Brown book on the large print shelf at HCPL – one I hadn’t read. So, I took the book home and read it within days.

Charleston, South Carolina broadcast journalist Britt Shelley wakes up in bed with the dead body of police detective Jay Burgess. Britt doesn’t remember how she got there or how Jay died. While recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, Britt looks suspect.   

Just five years ago, Jay’s former best friend, ex-fireman Raley Gannon, experienced something similar, waking up next to a dead party girl after one of Jay’s wild parties. At the time, Raley was investigating the big fire at the police headquarters. This fire resulted in seven deaths even though Jay and three others heroically saved many. Britt and Raley team up to investigate what really happened with the fire. They also seek vindication.

While I’ve read many Sandra Brown books, Smoke Screen is the first one I’ve reviewed. She bundles explosive chemistry between Britt and Raley with sleuthing. I continue to read Brown’s books due to excellent dialogue, characterization, and description. Smoke Screen meets this criteria. I liked this novel better than a few others by Brown simply because she offered up not one but two characters seeking exoneration. She’s wickedly good at conjuring the thoughts of some rather icky characters and I was relieved Smoke Screen wasn’t one of those – see Unspeakable or Fat Tuesday for these nasty villains.

This wasn’t my favorite Brown book but I didn’t feel I wasted my time reading it. I saw that it was made into a Lifetime Movie. Maybe I’ll see it at some point.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – ‪Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water w/ lyrics‬‏

Places : Charleston, South Carolina

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