It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris.
Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems—has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history.
When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life or lose the most precious thing in it.
The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.
Zoe Disigny holds a master’s degree in art history and has taught at the college level throughout her career. She has led numerous art tours in Europe and established a business in Paris offering art history adventures for American tourists.
Winner of 5 major book awards, including thePublishers WeeklyU.S. 2021 Selfies Award for Best Adult Fiction and winner of theIndieReader2021 Discovery Award.
The riveting odyssey of one of the world’s most scandalous works of art.
In 1866, maverick French artist Gustave Courbet painted one of the most iconic images in the history of art: a sexually explicit portrait of a woman’s exposed genitals. Audaciously titled L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), the scandalous painting was kept hidden for a century and a half. Today, it hangs in the world-renowned Orsay Museum in Paris, viewed by millions of visitors a year.
As the first artist authorized by the Orsay Museum to re-create Courbet’s The Origin of the World, author Lilianne Milgrom was thrust into the painting’s intimate orbit, spending six weeks replicating every fold, crevice, and pubic hair. The experience inspired her to share her story and the painting’s titillating, clandestine history. L’Origine is a tale of survival, replete with French revolutionaries, Turkish pashas and nefarious Nazi captains. Hold onto your berets for a riveting ride through history.
Paris-born Lilianne Milgrom is an internationally acclaimed artist and award-winning author residing in Washington DC. In 2011, she became the first authorized copyist of Gustave Courbet’s controversial painting L’Origine du Monde, which hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris. Milgrom spent a decade researching and writing L’Origine: The Secret Life of the World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece. Her debut novel has been awarded six literary honors including the Publisher’s Weekly 2021 US Selfies Book Award for Best Adult Fiction.
In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.
From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Peel Back and Seeis a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal.
Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5).
1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!
2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up!
3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂
4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂
5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)
In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers.
Heart Rating System: 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) Score: ❤❤❤❤
Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.
In The Art of Time: A Mother-Daughter Sprezzatura on the Spirit of Time, Martine Therese and her daughter, Martina Franca, invite you into a lush world where time has no limits. Consisting of paintings, meditations and poetry, The Art of Time merges maternal & youthful wisdom into a one-of-a-kind artistic showcase with a powerful message: humanity’s experience can be enhanced by developing our minds into sensual thought.
A gorgeous book to be treasured by everyone from art connoisseurs to children, The Art of Time offers concepts and images that introduce readers to a new—and wonderful—realm of being.
Martine Therese was a practicing Certified Public Accountant when she became pregnant with her daughter, Martina Franca. She decided to leave her accounting job and focus on her daughter instead. The transition, while “brutal,” completely transformed Martine’s life, and opened up a whole new world of possibility.
For Martine, who has been writing poetry all her life, motherhood expanded her creativity, and she finally felt the courage to bring her work to the world. Martine and her daughter discovered a love for painting, and their artwork, combined with Martine’s poetry, form the basis of The Art of Time; A Mother-Daughter Sprezzatura on the Spirit of Time. The book is a token of their shared loves and talents.
Martine and Martina Franca are putting together a follow-up collection on the topic of what it means to be human, exploring the theme of building the potential of humanity. Martina Franca embraces her maternal side on a daily basis, be it with caring for her baby dolls or her puppy, Marcello. She gets a kick out of tailgating with Mom and watching people’s reactions, and playing practical jokes like hiding Daddy’s shampoo bottle, and she loves having conversations. She regularly chills out with Mom during yoga in their special “rainbow room,” a room just for the two of them to recharge. On sunny days, gorgeous rainbows fill the wall of the Rainbow Room, and Martina and Mom bask in those colors—which is why Martina loves infusing her art with rainbows.
I was born and raised in London, I studied graphic art at Kings College there. I moved to Cornwall in the south west of England when I got married to raise my children. Cornwall is a beautiful place but there wasn’t much work for a graphic artist. So I found a day job and put my art aside. It was an idylic life that sadly came crashing down when I did a charity parachute jump that went horribly wrong. I was left disabled, housebound and very depressed. But even the darkest cloud has a silver lining as I rediscovered art, with a difference, I taught myself how to paint, through trial and error but I found joy in the freedom of expression it gave me. I like to paint what I feel as well as what I can see. I love bright colours and images that lift my spirit and make me happy. After displaying my paintings a various art fairs thoughout Cornwall I made a few sales which made me even happier. During the past few years we have made several visits to Spain, I love it there, the warm weather, the bright sunshine, the gorgeous old buildings and of course the sea. My husband is a photographer and I paint most of my paintings from the photos that he takes. His recent photos have been of dolphins in the wild and I’ve fallen in love with dolphins. I love to paint them bright and colourful, and happy, but recently I’ve experimented in black and white images to accentuate the perfectionn of their shape and the way they move. I have found it really interesting and I’m sure I’ll paint more. But I have to admit, I get the most pleasure from painting bright and colourful as it always cheers me up.