The Barbizon Diaries by James A. Owen

The Barbizon Diaries, An Advance Course in Surviving The Refiner’s Fire, A Meditation on Will, Purpose and the Value of Stories by James A. Owen; 2014; $22.00; 134 pages; Coppervale Press, Taylor, AZ; backed on Kickstarter; 1/4/17-1/9/17

Why did I read this?  Because I backed this on Kickstarter, and because James A. Owen is a great motivator.

The author uses his own story to make his points, a story that many people would be too embarrassed to share.  This is a meditation on authority and authenticity and how we surrender too much of our personal authority to other people in our lives.  We let others write our story for us and don’t realize how much we give up to others.  This is the companion book to Drawing out the Dragons and The Grand Design.  It is a book that I will be revisiting.

Grade A

The Grand Design by James A. Owen

The Grand Design, A Master Class on Living an Extraordinary Life, A Meditation on Creativity, Ambition, and Building a Personal Mythology 
by James A. Owen; 2014; $22.00; 138 pages; Coppervale Press, Taylor, AZ; backed on kickstarter; 12/30/16-1/2/17

Why did I read this?  Because I backed it on Kickstarter and James A. Owen is a good motivational writer.

I don’t really know how to describe this book.  Some might categorize it as a self help book.  I think it is a different way to look at our lives and see how that change in perspective might help us live differently.  The author uses his own and his family’s story to show how a change in perspective can affect a change in life.  This is a book that I will be reading repeatedly, it is part of a trio of books that are about life changes, Drawing Out The Dragons and The Barbizon Diaries.

Grade A




This is an awesome reward

 The Twentieth Anniversary Nearly Complete Essential Starchild by James A. Owen; 2014; $45.00; 704 pages; Coppervale Press, Taylor, AZ; Kickstarter Reward; 12/18/14-12/20/14

Twenty years ago was an even younger man who self published a comic book called Starchild, over the years it has progressed in fits.  Now he has gathered together almost everything pertaining to Starchild and published them in this awesome slip-covered hardback.  There is an awesome story that is part graphic novel and part illustrated novel.  Every one hundred years storytellers gather together and tell storytellers and the one who wears the mantle may restart the world, this is the story of a quest for the mantle and a family and their relationship to the mantle.  I just realized how difficult it is to synthesize the story into a capsule, let’s just say that it is an awesome story.  Not to mention the alien raised by earth parents and becomes a sun god, the kingdom erected by a mouse or the retired soldier Nicodemus Fury.

Did I enjoy it?  Let’s just say that I would James’ to do list because I think he could make it exciting.  I have read his Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, Drawing out the Dragons and Treasures of the Caribbean and am looking forward to the Fools’ Hollows novels, The Barbizon Diaries and The Grand Design.


What is with the title of the review?  I have backed several projects on Kickstarter and this is one of the most awesome rewards that I have received as a backer.

My Fave Reads of 2013

In 2013 out of the 137 books I finished I gave 9 books A+.  Those are obviously the best books I read this year.  Here they are in order to my favorite of 2013.  Title links to my review, author links to their website.

Honorable Mention

Southern League by Larry Colton/The Amish Seamstress by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould/Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

9. everyday by David Levithan, what if a soul moved from body to body with no regard to gender or age or place, everyday was new and different but you were the same.  A soul is a soul.  excellent read

8. OK for now by Gary Schmidt, I felt for the main character as I could relate to moving alot and being without friends and slowly making them only to move again.  Gary Schmidt really knows how to write bad fathers.

7. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, a bitter and sweet tale of a young Chinese boy and his mother set in Depression Era Seattle.

6.  Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace, Muhammad Ali has been one of my heroes since he came on the scene.  This details his country’s attempt to punish him for his religious beliefs and abuse him because of racism and politics.

5.  The First Dragon, Book 7 in The Chronicles of the Imaganarium Geographica by James A. Owen, the final book in the Chronicles was exciting and tied up several things and was a bittersweet end to a series that I really enjoyed and got into.  I try to recommend this series to someone at least once a week.

4.  The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy, I have been anxiously awaiting this memoir (but heck I anxiously await every Pat Conroy book) for a couple of years.  Pat Conroy details the last years of his father’s life after the book and movie The Great Santini were released.  A moving and touching account of some familial reconciliation.

3.  My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, this memoir by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was a revealing look at where she came from and what drove her to get where she is.  Well written and easy to read My Beloved World is the Everybody Reads book for Multnomah County in 2014.

2.  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, The story of Hattie told over 60 years or so through the lives of her children.  An original story that really touched me, I usually don’t like stories told in multiple voices but this one really engaged me.

1.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, when I finished this I stepped away from the book and then came back to it after awhile and just the sight of the book moved me.  Even now typing this 4 months after reading it is unleashing a flood of emotions.  I will come back to this again.  A story of an orphaned girl, her adoptive parents, and friends during World War II has one of the most compassionate narrators ever and you couldn’t guess who it is.

I read my top three books in August so the books surrounding them probably suffered a little in comparison. I actually read a Sunset magazine after reading The Book Thief as a palate cleanser before I read anything else.

I hope that I can read more great books this next year.  I am looking forward to new books from many of my favorite authors again and hopefully I can discover some great new authors.


It is with a heavy heart and much anticipation.

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, The First Dragon by James A. Owen; 2013; $17.99; 294 pages; Simon & Schuster BFYR, New York, NY; 978-1-4424-1226-2; Young Adult Fiction, purchased from; 11/13-11/15

Why did I pick this up? Because I have read all six of the other books in this series and this is the finale.

What is the story?  J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Cain and Abel, Modred, Tummler, Samaranth find what is necessary to defeat evil and restore the Archipelago.  You know unless you have read the series there is nothing that I could say that would make any sense.  The author effectively ties together all kinds of literary characters and authors.

Did I like it?  Yes, it was an exciting and satisfying end to the series.  It tied together all the loose ends from the series and was a great payoff to the series.


What is with the title of the review?  It is with a heavy heart that I read the last book in the series, I have been heavily invested in this series and thoroughly enjoyed it  and it is with much anticipation that I look forward to what comes next from the author.