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Mumentous by Amy Schultz takes us into the heart of Southern high school culture and gives us a warming glimpse into the tradition of the homecoming mum. But is this tradition something worth continuing? What does it truly represent? Is it just a showcase of modern consumerism? Or does it stand for something much deeper? No matter where on the spectrum of thinking you fall into, taking a deep dive into Southern United States culture can be an enjoyable ride. So let’s take a dive into the stunning photos and unique commentary writing of Amy Schultz in Mumentous!

When we’re talking about the focus topic of Mumentous, we are discussing someone’s local culture, and as I am not immersed in that culture, it can be hard to understand the infamous tradition. This charming book of fascinating stories takes readers into the culture that embraces homecoming mums with gusto. One of the highlights of this unique book is the black-and-white photography showcasing modern high school culture; it has a profound effect on the book as a whole. It made the book feel more immersive and was the added touch that sent this book from an average diary-like piece to an almost Joan Didion-esque piece of journalism. Additionally, I enjoyed the artistic spins on true stories that Schultz openly admits to. Her quote about being an artist and not a historian was cheeky and admirable. I could relate to the sentiment as a fellow writer who enjoys writing about real life. I will say that if you’re looking for some big ah-ha moment that is going to somehow expose unheard-of news, this book is not for you. It is simply an artistic and heartfelt view of a popular piece of Texan culture. It’s real everyday stories.

Mumentous by Amy Schultz is a well-written book about the history of the homecoming mum in Texas. It’s a book that I enjoy having on the shelf to simply pull down and flip through every now and then, to slowly pick through when you want something lighthearted and intriguing. But, if anything, simply buy it for the photographs; they are beautiful!

Pages: 178 | ISBN : 163988565X

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Perception is an enjoyable collection of poetry written by multiple authors, which includes different forms and styles for every reader’s preference. Each author has their own section with a dedication page that precedes their poetry. A collection of drawings and photographs from different artists are scattered throughout its pages incorporating the different ways poets and artists perceive life. Its concluding pages contain a meet the authors and artists section. Written from a college-age perspective, this poetic and artistic compilation makes for a pleasurable read.

The collection of poems contains a variety of styles of poetry which is perfect for those looking for an unpredictable read. The writing differs in style, which is a pleasant surprise as no two poems are identical. Each author has several intriguing poems that are worth reading, especially for those who have a great appreciation for art. I appreciated that the compilation of poems contains the perspectives of both male and female writers making this a diverse read.  

One of my favorite poems is titled Euphoria, I felt that the author perfectly described what it means to be in a state of euphoria, and I felt at peace while reading this poem. I appreciated that at the end of each poem, the author’s name was placed so that we know who the writer of a specific poem is. In the introduction, the author shares with the reader, “Our work is meant to be seen, collected, discarded, diagnosed, broken down, analyzed, criticized, admired, hated, discussed, etc.” This sentence stood out to me because I can feel each author’s sense of pride and accomplishment for their work. The images included in the poems are an excellent touch, as some were humorous, and others were a piece of art. At the end of the collection is a Meet the Poets/Artists section which I felt was an excellent way to connect with the authors, and I enjoyed reading a little about them.

Perception is a creative collection of distinct pieces of work from authors who are humble, creative, and unique. I highly recommend this book to those studying art or poetry or who want to enjoy a fantastic art collection.

Pages: 288 | ISBN : 1456763016

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The Kitchen and the Studio

The Kitchen and The Studio: Memoirs of Food and Art by Mallory M. and John A. O’Connor is an alluring read. As the title implies, it combines a cookbook, an art book, and a memoir detailing the couple’s long and storied marriage. These elements are expertly blended to form a book that contemplates love, family, friendship, and the meals that bring us together.

We follow Mallory and John from their first meeting in a UC Davis art class in 1960 through moves, career changes, and heartaches over the next 60-plus years of their life together. Along the way, they share stories of the fascinating people they befriended and, of course, the food they shared with those people.

The book is beautifully illustrated, with stunning landscapes and still-lifes peppered throughout, along with photos and documents from the couples’ prosperous lives. Much of the art is by the co-author himself, though there are also some lovely pieces by the couple’s many friends in the field. I thought it was a nice detail that, rather than photos, many of the recipes are accompanied by paintings of the dish in question, bringing a personal touch you don’t often see in recipe books.

As someone interested in food history, this book was a fascinating resource. Coming from the perspective of one couple and how food has been a part of their own story and journey over the past 60 years, it tells a very personal story. In addition, the authors made sure to include some historical background for many of the dishes, which was incredibly enlightening.

The recipes sound delicious and include some more exotic ingredients that the standard household may not always have in stock. Readers may have to make adjustments when attempting to replicate these menus to take into account ingredient availability. This is one area I would have loved to have seen in this book, some substitution options for hard-to-find ingredients, just to make the dishes more accessible. That aside, this collection offers readers a chance to expand their cooking repertoire and experience something they might not have thought of trying. The authors have included in this informative book some helpful resources for those looking to experience the dishes for themselves, including a wine list and some information on small businesses that make quality ingredients.

The Kitchen and The Studio: Memoirs of Food and Art is a highly original presentation of food history and personal memoirs. The authors clearly have enjoyed their life together and share their passion for cooking with friends and family. The stunning artwork and poignant reflections make it an unforgettable read.

Pages 412

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A Body Hair Experiment

A Body Hair Experiment: An Intimate Lens on Gender is a thought-provoking mix of visceral photographs and elegant prose. This exceptionally perceptive photo essay features photographs by O Zhang and text by Eli Cohen. Cohen reflects on the always tense relationship that body hair has with the human body and, via his experiment, highlights how body hair is acceptable on certain bodies and (mostly) unacceptable on others.

The experiment had Cohen completely remove all the hair on the left side of his body only, leaving the other half naturally hairy. He mentions that hairlessness was never an option for him, not even the rejection of it. His lines on how he had never viewed himself as a subject of desire make the readers question how society terms certain bodies as constitutive of being desirable and others as not.

Preceded by Zhang’s close-up of a man’s stomach (one hair-covered arm angled towards the tuft of pubic hair in presumably an act of concealment) and succeeded by spliced halves of a close-up of the nipple—one side completely hairless with the pores sharply defined and the other with wiry black-grey coils, the question of subjects of desire also gently extends in the reader’s mind to body parts significant of desire. Cohen’s wondering about the ‘feminine choices’ regarding body hair and the natural extension of perceptions of women who choose to make a feminine choice shows us just how insidiously notions of seriousness and frivolity are tied up with femininity. 

I am giving A Body Hair Experiment: An Intimate Lens on Gender by Eli Cohen and O Zhang 5 out of 5 stars— Zhang’s gorgeous photography graphically brings home the reality of gender norms being broken and unsettles ingrained notions of gender-specific beauty practices. Cohen’s writing and his musings on what this act of deliberate part-hairlessness and part au naturel involves—from the physical sensation of smoothness, of hairiness, of the preparation, of the embracing, and of the disconcerting sensation of unevenness—invite readers to the possibilities of body hair while also highlighting the strong cultural notions it carries.


Maverick, by Fernando Rover Jr., presents its purpose upfront in a crisp, cohesive, and certain manner—a moment of pre-contextual deliberation before readers are asked to take the plunge into this elaborate body of work.

Plain, generic titles served alongside poems constructed with intensity and intricacy serve as self-portraits of the complex human crushed beneath the burden of their role in corrupt society—the consequence of what occurs when a person is made to be seen as a laborer first and a human second.

The theoretical backdrop of this book, use of monochrome and modern design, and ability to blatantly state its arrival, presence, and pursuit is among the numerous elements that make Maverick worth reading. The specifics of its contents are powerful and thought-provoking. The stanzas and line breaks are phenomenal tools for allowing the breath of a poem to speak for itself.

Maverick isn’t a text of trickery, nor one of intellectual flexing and self-gratification. It isn’t written or compiled to impress the sea of nameless, faceless coffeeshop hipsters contemporary artists are pressured to indulge. Rather, it’s monochrome. It’s black, and it’s white. It’s text, and it’s art. It’s graphic design. It’s multimedia. Most of all, it is a calling out of capitalism, as well as all the ways in which we, as humans, are not only forced to survive under it but have actually become so accustomed to its vile lore that we have forgotten our own.

Maverick is an extraordinary work of poetry and art that gives the reader a chance to look into themselves and experience the message the author is presenting. In capitalistic fabrication, we lose our own authenticity — and that, in its most genuine essence, is what Maverick exists to call out and rebel against. I highly recommend this stimulating read for those who are looking for a creative outlet.

Pages: 100 | ISBN : 0578378868

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Rocky Mountains – A Self-Portrait

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It isn’t often that we get to sneak a peek into the hows and whys of the jobs and hobbies around us. Assumptions are easy to make, and it takes very little to make a guess as to what causes a person to become drawn to a career. Photography is one of those interests. There is much more to taking photographs than most of us will ever realize. This endeavor requires a great deal more than just a love of being behind the camera.

Photographer and author, Kent Gunnufson, shares his lifelong love and dedication to creating artwork with the camera in his autobiographical book, Rocky Mountains: A Self-Portrait. Gunnufson’s book is filled with the most amazing landscape images from his time spent in the Rockies. In addition, he has included photos of people and objects that seem to defy all logic in their beauty. The purpose of the author’s work is to share the story behind his career and his love of photography and his subjects, but the stunning imagery he has captured will be, without a doubt, what fascinates readers from cover to cover.

Gunnufson’s story is compelling and is a must-read for those interested in photography. There is a story behind each of the images he has taken, and they are all fascinating. He not only relays to readers how he found each subject, but he explains in detail the intricacies of the composition of each photo. This is something I found especially interesting as I read. Taking photographs seems, at first glance, like a simple task. Gunnufson, however, explains in language all readers will understand exactly how much thought and preparation goes into each one of them.

I have always been drawn to black and white photography whether it be nature or portraits. Gunnufson provides wonderful insight into the history of black and white photography and how it compares with color imagery. It really is a treat to see this side of photography and hear directly from the artist himself about the ins and outs of the process.

Rocky Mountains: A Self-Portrait is an astonishing look at the life of one photographer. Photographers and students of the art will appreciate the advice, insight, and history provided by the author. I cannot say enough about the beautiful images Gunnufson has created. There is a softness to his work that readers will find absolutely riveting. I highly recommend Gunnufson’s book for both his enchanting images and the heart he has poured into his personal narrative.

ISBN: 978-0-9605366-4-1

Promise Of The Visitor

A pair of police officers are called to the residence of Jacob, Amy, and their artificial intelligence alien that resides in a golden sphere called “Arcon.” They all have to muster up the courage to explain why Jack Markham is unconscious on their floor. They discover he is an international criminal. In a battle of self-defense, Jack was rendered unconscious.

After the ordeal, this novel skips ahead. Readers are taken to a cold night in November, where all three stand on the beach awaiting a space shuttle. The shuttle is operated by an alien woman who comes to them for rescue after her own home is destroyed by enemy forces. However, she didn’t just bring new technology to earth in her escape but also managed to get the enemy to their doorstep. So it is now their job to save their world from a similar fate to the alien woman’s home planet.

Author David Gittlin’s world-building skills are excellent and bring the readers right into the action, experiencing everything the characters do. With under 200 pages, this is a short quick read filled with thrilling action. Since this is book 3 of the series, I recommend readers have read books one and two as the author dives right into the action of book three, assuming that the reader knows of the character’s history. Gittlin expertly develops the characters in the story, and I grew fond of the AI that assists Jacob and Amy. The back and forth banter and the humor sprinkled into the dialogue made this book hard to put down.

Promise of the Visitor is a fast-paced, exciting novella that will have you hooked from the turn of the first page. I highly recommend this quick read to those who are looking to go on an entertaining journey through space.

Pages: 142 | ASIN : B09Y2FHL5R

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Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs

You may never understand the beauty of photography until you read Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs by Carl-Evert Jonsson. Carl-Evert Jonsson writes extensively on photography, focusing on Japanese paper for the digital printing of photographs. The author is intentional in his explanations and describes every detail for those not familiar with Washi.

The images in Carl-Evert Jonsson’s book tell a compelling story. The pictures are stunning, distinct, and aesthetically pleasing. The photos are classed into four groups; Places, Persons, Varia, and Mixed. Each of these categories tells a unique story that the reader connects with. I loved going through the images under Persons as one can see the different features in humans and how individual people are. Images of places are striking because of the locations the author drew his inspiration from. Varia and Mixed pictures are also eye-catching and impactful.

One of the best things about this book is that the author uses few words in the description and leaves the reader to form an opinion on the images without being influenced. Under the Mixed category, the image displaying the Notre Dame de Paris and the Vehicle. Brown ochre, primary blue was my favorite. Varia had a lot of impressive figures, but the image displayed Egg oil x1. Underneath: yellow ochre subjects were my best. The sense of illusion when one looks at the picture is satisfying. It feels authentic for a minute, then one feels a certain sense of imagination the next minute.

Carl-Evert Jonsson shares a personal touch throughout the book. Anyone reading this book will appreciate the author more as they keep flipping the pages. I loved reading the preface as the author gives a little background information about himself and the book. Carl-Evert Jonsson’s story is fascinating and increases one’s interest in photography. The author also enlightens the reader on techniques for digitally printing photographs on Japanese paper in the introduction. The short text was helpful, especially to readers that may not have been familiar with different photography techniques. The modest way of expounding on concepts and creativity displayed by the author is inspiring enough for one to delve into photography and related subjects.

Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs is a captivating book that photography students, lovers of nature, and individuals who fancy capturing objects and printing them will love. Any photography enthusiast will appreciate this work, especially the content under Places and Persons. Every image under this category was unique in its own way.

Pages: 54 | ASIN : B0998MKMTD

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