Friday 29 March 2013


The 'frieze' above is a Photoshop montage/colour-change of one of the artwork images for my March book for the Artful Reading Club.  For some obscure reason I had downloaded to my Kindle "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation" by Lauren Willig.

WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO ME!  Was I so entranced by the title and price of 99p that I didn't read the reviews and 'look inside the book' facility on the Kindle Daily Deal?  I think so, fool that I am.  It's exactly the sort of book I take care to steer well clear of. 

To help you (and me) through this review I'll scatter the sketches I painted for the artwork - and they are relevant ... (ish) ....  

So the choice of book was all my own fault.  I respect the fact that many people enjoy this type of book, but it's just not for me.

But as a true blue member of the ARC I gritted my teeth and read every page when I would otherwise have ditched it on page 10. 

It's a historical romance, linked with a modern-day equivalent romance, and with the emphasis on ROMANCE.  


I'm a very fast reader and, to face the challenge of getting through it, I put my skates on.  Because of the 'quality' of the writing I was able to whizz through the pages so quickly the page-turn button got hot.  

In fact I was able to start my April book halfway through February, so that must be a good point.

Another good point - you DON'T have to add this to your own ever-growing list of books to read.


Researching and writing a book is not easy, and I don't like to be too dismissive of what is clearly a very popular book.  It's simply that I was the wrong audience.  

The author had done her research, but it was the way she used it that grated on me - the flippant tone and constant anachronisms,  silly unreal situations, and her writing style.

When I was a very young teenager I read everything I could find of Georgette Heyer and loved it, but that was a long, long time ago.

This was Georgette Heyer meets Barbara Cartland (not read any of hers) on a really, REALLY bad day.  

Here are a couple of samples, describing the heroine:  "With a toss of her mahogany curls '' and "her face was a talented engraver's etching, small and decisive, her cupid's bow of a mouth in constant movement, exclaiming, talking, laughing".  

I really haven't the patience to describe the horribility of my experience with this book.  Suffice it to say the real finishers for me were the ridiculous passionate sex scenes (what my Eng Lit teacher used to call 'purple painted patches'). 

The only way I got through it all was to read it as though it were a farce/comedy.  I deserve an A.R.C. medal at the least.

The link of my artwork  to the story is that Napoleon's collection of Egyptian Antiquities is constantly referred to.

I'm bonkers about ancient Egyptian history and artwork, and Napoleon's collection gave me an excuse to refer to my ancient Egypt books and do a bit of Egyptian doodling as well.

So, here's the actual artwork - just a page of sketches in a large sketchbook, but I enjoyed myself greatly with these.  Hope you like them.   


  1. I can just imagine you reading that Jez! If you want ridiculous writing then you'll have to read 50 shades of grey - that's really painful! (pun intended!)

  2. I enjoy books that represent a time or period in history, but I don't like trite writing. I found your examples truly enlightening and fun. I got a kick out of them, although I'm sure you didn't, especially since you had to finish this monstrosity.

    On a brighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed the art. It was perfect for the storyline. It's always fun to see the inspiration behind the art, and you created a really great page in your journal that will remind you of how fun the art was, and how not-so-fun the book was!

  3. Oh, I feel like I'm back in Egypt again. I loved all those drawings! And yours are great! ♥
    Sorry, the book was such a sad experience for you. Glad you have the Art to enjoy!!! :)

  4. Your review had me chuckling as I read it! Poor you, but congratulations for completing the task. Your Egyptian artwork is wonderful and made your review even more pleasurable to read. I agree you should have a medal. Well done that man!

    Janet xx

  5. This was such a funny post. I love that you 'put your skates on!" I am not a fan of Egyptology. I had nightmares for weeks after seeing the Tutankhamun exhibit when I was a kid. But your artwork is very spot on!! That face with the big eyes looks like a relic.

  6. love your sketches and thought your review was pretty wonderful... I hate books like that, although they do make me laugh out loud... those flowery descriptions make a book hysterical in my mind... cupid's bow of a mouth would have had me on the floor in hysterics... can't believe you hung in there... not sure I would have...xx

  7. Oh dear oh dear, the book does sound awful! But your artwork is exactly the opposite! I especially like the photoshop montage at the top with all the colour changes. clever. and the eye which turns into a bird

  8. your review is a fabulous piece of writing, even if the book wasn't. I love that one of its good points is that I don't have to add it to my pile! It's best point is the art it inspired in you.

  9. Thanks Karen, I do treasure your comments, and those of everyone else. I hope to do a little 'reply' to each when time stops whizzing by so quickly. Keep well, keep happy.

  10. There is a big smile on my face Jez you are a wonderful entertaining woman and I loved the review so much that I am going to buy this only kidding you. I would hate having to read through this so thank you for warning us. The art is absolute chocolate pudding for me, yum yum :)
    Also I am giving you a big hug again because I felt very touched by what you wrote under my book review. I am thinking of you.

  11. Purple painted patches, oh my - I love that! Absolutely brilliant review Jez, not a book I'll be rushing to add to my kindle list methinks. I do love what it inspired in you, your Egyptian art is gorgeous and I love what you did with it in Photoshop!

  12. The art is lovely. I'm surprised all the colors aren't as angry as you over the reading. I haven't read the book and I'm half disgusted about by the clichés you pointed out. I hope the book wasn't painfully long, too. I don't mind reading a flap, but when it is as long as The Green Darkness (the last book I read that made me want to pull my hair out) I just don't know what to do.

  13. Chuckled all the way thru your review, sorry you hated it but you certainly entertained us with your description. Consider yourself awarded with an ARC medal hahahaha. Adore your Egyptian doodles, they are wonderful and i am glad you got such enjoyment from making those.

  14. Hahahaha...poor Jez :D The first historical romance I ever read was a Georgette Heyer, at the tender age of 17, and that set such a high standard it is hard to equal. It was probably the Egyptian connection that hooked you into buying this monstrosity, but the upside is you got to doodle some lovely sketches :D
    Heads up for my April is an historical novel with some beautiful romance in it that I am sure you would enjoy :D XXX

  15. Well, at least you got some fabulous art out of it. :)

  16. Love your sketches, I am in the middle of a 99p kindle book that reads like a 2yr old's book with naughty bits. Kate said, Bert said, Kathleen said, gahhhhhhhh driving me insane! I can definitely relate to gritting your teeth and getting on with it, my theory is I paid for it I am reading it!

  17. Aloha certainly deserve the ARC medal for perseverance...however on the positive side...your colorful Egyptian sketches are FABulous...

  18. Love the drawings. Sorry the book was so dire, one to miss for sure. Your review was great.
    Jen x

  19. Loved that you could make light of your book choice Jez... and your wonderful review had me smiling too... your drawings are beautiful... and inspiring... happy reading for this month...

    Jenny ♥

  20. Jez I think you deserve an A.R.C. Medal for carrying on to the end of a book you felt like ditching so early on. I think quite a few of us have had similar feelings this month! Even though the book was so awful your artwork is an inspiration so at least we A.R.C members are lucky to see the only upside to your book choice this month. I hope your next book is a much better one.

  21. Excellent artwork ... Glad something good came from reading the tripe! And lesson learnt to read about the book before downloading!


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