An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory

Taking yourself too seriously?  Perhaps you don’t need another self-help, belly button gazing book, but a creative release that is fun, relaxing, meditative, active and legal?

There is nothing I like more than hours upon hours to lose myself in the process of painting, but I find that I rarely have the luxury.  When I found Danny Gregory’s book, An Illustrated Life, I was inspired to inhale the book in one fell swoop.

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Tom recommends Lev Grossman

By tom on September 04, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Though it sounds the same, this is not Harry Potter (which I adore, by the way). This is a strange beast of a novel, with a dark yet funny tone, and an unexpected reverence for fantasy literature of the past, for the idea of worlds built from the imagination, like Narnia.

Regular old nihilistic New York teenager Quentin is invited to take a test that will allow him to attend a school for magicians, and not the parlor trick kind. This sets him on  a three book journey about the nature of imagination, self-respect, humility, and humanity that will continue to surprise you throughout.

If you like The Magicians, you will love the two sequels. If you end up not caring for The Magicians, I wouldn't bother with the other two because they follow a similar path.

The books are sharp, funny, strangely poignant, and stay up late engrossing. 

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Without hesitation I can say that this is the best book I've read in the past year. It came highly recommended by a friend who has a very different taste in books, but I took the chance, and it paid off. 
There were several things about the book that I enjoyed. I love when the important elements of the story develop independently, and are then woven into a cohesive tale. Marra accomplished this task beautifully. He allowed the story to unfold at its own pace, without forcing the issues, and it allowed the novel to develop nicely.
I also like when an author can take difficult subject matter and present it in a way that is neither overwhelming, nor watered down. There were several of these moments in this book, which can be expected since part of the book is set in war-torn more

PORTSMOUTH, NH—April 19,2014   In an effort to connect local children’s book authors with local illustrators, Piscataqua Press has begun a public list of artists interested in working in the children’s book field. The list, which now includes more than fifteen artists, can be found on their website at and includes contact information and work samples.


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I'm apparently not the world's best multi-tasker, but it seems impossible to get 30 uninterrupted minutes to focus on one thing.  The phone rings, the child interrupts, there is Facebook, and Twitter, and text messages.  Sustained narrative reading is an important function of our brain, and one I fear we are losing.

I read a study that showed that when we surf the web, we use a different part of our brain than we use for reading a long passage of a printed book. I suppose that makes sense, the two functions are very different, and it's not that one is worse than the other. It's just that I fear we will lose our ability to pay attention to one thing for long periods of time.

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About RiverRun

  • We are your friendly neighborhood bookstore, located in downtown Portsmouth, NH.  Small but potent, we offer a fine selection of new books with an emphasis on fiction, history, poetry and mystery.  We also have a great little kids section, and hold over 100 events a year.

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