Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: "Urban Enemies" by Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong Et Al

"Urban Enemies" by Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Somers et al is a short story anthology and will be published by Gallery Books on August 1, 2017. I've found myself being drawn to sic-fi and fantasy kinds of mystery books for a year now and when this book came up for review I jumped at the chance to find some new authors. The anthology already had two authors I knew and enjoyed, Jim Butcher who writes The Dresden Files and Kelley Armstrong who, among other things, writes the Cainsville Series which I love.

I thought it would be a fun way to get to know a few new authors easily. Short stories have such a lovely fit sometimes between long novels. Just a few hours here and there, sprinkled among big books can clean the palate so to speak.


The biggest reason I wanted to read "Urban Enemies" was that I could use an influx of new blood to my reading list as I've read every book all my favorite authors have written so far. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed. I don't have high expectations for anthologies as I assume a great short story can be as hard to write as a great novel but I did hope to be entertained. As I said above, I wanted to sprinkle them between other novels like candy after a good meal. What happened was I wasn't as entertained as I had hoped.

Firstly, other readers have mentioned that the Dresden story by Jim Butcher was a repeat from another anthology (which isn't fair) so his short story shouldn't have been touted as the number one in the book. I will say that it was a very good short story and will probably get new readers to try The Dresden Series. Secondly, I found that some of the authors assumed the reader had some knowledge of their series so their stories were too convoluted for a first time reader of their work. In some cases I felt like I'd been dropped from a high place into another universe that I knew nothing about and didn't have a translator or guide with me. Those I ended up skipping as I was so confused by the third page I couldn't stand another sentence. 

A third reason this anthology did not win a fourth star is that even the good stories, like from my favorite author Kelley Armstrong, seemed to be a little lackluster. I found myself liking the story but being sorry that no new reader would be turned onto her work because the sparkle her words usually have just didn't materialize in her story. That happened a few times with several authors too. 


Finally, I must admit, I gave up without finishing a few stories. All for the reasons given above. One reviewers said she much prefers novels to these short stories and I totally agree. If these stories brought new readers to an author then I'm thrilled. But if you're thinking of buying this anthology for the same reason I wanted to review it, then try noting the names of the authors who participated and go get their first book of the series. It's well worth doing. I may do that with a few authors that I feel didn't give me their best. I want to still give them a chance, as I said, I need new blood in my reading list. ;o)
Best,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When Any Talent You Have...

...seems to have left the building. You know that feeling when you wonder where your inspiration/talent/muse went off to when you were working hard trying to paint something? Why did whatever meager talent you seem to possess not run into your brush today? What the hell happened to that muse you pay so much money for? Did my inspiration go out drinking with my muse and they both got lost-drunk-abducted??!?


I've got no idea what happened, but when one finds oneself in this annoying position, don't despair. Bad art happens to good people. Get over yourself, go feed your muse some good chocolate. Give your inspiration a good, strong cuppa coffee. Take the night off and get back on the proverbial horse tomorrow. K? Ya, that's my plan... now where the hell is that chocolate? ;o)

Later Gator, I gotta go sober up my team. I don't drink but they obviously do. *Jenn rolls her eyes at her virtual muse". Oh and just so I can officially say I participated, I'm hooking up with #WorldWatercolorMonth. If you want to join us you have more than a month to join in the fun.

Best,

Friday, July 7, 2017

Superman Needs A Phone Booth

For those of you who come here NOT for quiche recipes,  LOL, here's some art. My friend Linda sent me samples of Peerless watercolors and I swatched them the other day. They're wonderfully bright and transparent!

Top Line (L-R):
amethyst
jaqueminot pink
deep yellow
orange yellow
daffodil yellow

Bottom Line (L-R):
bismark brown
pearl grey
olive
viridian green
butterfly wing

I also sent Linda a little package and the art I sent was a postcard painting of a telephone booth, I named it "Calling Card". It was very strange and difficult working so small. I'm used to larger pieces of paper but it was wonderfully intricate and it was such fun to try and capture all the shadows. I'm becoming addicted to doing shadows in art. Ahh god help me, I look at stuff to see it's color and how the light hits it just in case I want to paint it! I'm guessing that's the heart of an artist, huh?

Title: "Calling Card"
What things make you or the artists around you artists at heart? I'd love to hear your response in the comments.  I'm hooking up with PPF, come join us!
Best,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crustless Quiche & Art Stuff

DEEP-Dish Quiche Pan
(biggest we could find, ignore
the mushy sentiment, lol)
We are indulging in crustless quiche lately. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that in the last month or so I've made about ten quiches! We've been making them for dinner twice a week in every incarnation we can think of. They're really, really good for you without the crust and now that I've perfected the recipe, I dare you to NOT like this quiche.

One of the best things about quiche is that you can  put practically ANYTHING in the "guts" of it to add flavor. Also, a dozen raw eggs are cheap and last an inordinately long time in the fridge. Finally, like me, you can make up the "guts" of the quiche in bulk, freeze them then as long as you always have some eggs, milk and potato starch, you're good to go for dinner that will serve SIX.

Here's my recipe for THE MOST DELICIOUS CRUSTLESS QUICHE you'll ever have, I promise. Now, you can modify all of the ingredients with different veggies, meats, cheeses and spices you want but I'll give you some guidelines.

#1 Don't skip the PESTO!!!
#2 Spray the pan WELL
#3 Use 2 cups "guts" per quiche

This is assuming you're using a pan of similar proportions to the one I have above. My quiche pan holds about 5 cups, this makes it very full but still movable, I put it on a cookie sheet just in case. Learned THAT lesson... twice ;o). Yep, this is me rolling my eyes at the screen. *Geez Jenn, you'd think you'd learn the first time, after you spilled a third of your quiche into a hot oven. Holy HELL Batman, what a mess!* 

The pan is 9 inches (22.5 cm) in diameter (not including fluting) and a little less than 2 inches (5 cm) high. Feel free to use sautéed spinach or baby kale, sautéed asparagus or broccoli or your other favorite veggie. I've substituted out chicken, pork loin, breakfast sausage, bacon and ground beef as the meat. I've always used an aged cheddar as the cheese but I'm sure you can come up with other great combos with the fillings. 


My final addition, just in the last week has been PESTO. Holy YUM Batman, Costco's own brand of Pesto taste divine in quiche! (Ok, it tastes divine on anything, even just on the spoon, lol. Seriously, how did I live without Kirkland Pesto for fortyish years?!??).

Ok, finally, here's the basic recipe:

Jenn's Awesome Crustless Quiche

Ingredients:
12 eggs
4 Tbsp potato starch
1 cup (scant) milk of choice (we make our own out of cashews, see recipe below)
1 tsp salt
generous pepper
~ two Tbsp Pesto
2 cups quiche guts

For quiche guts:
(This is what I combined last week, no measurements necessary, get creative!)
  • Costco barbecued chicken
  • package of breakfast sausage or bacon
  • head or two of broccoli
  • shredded cheese of choice
  • Kirkland Pesto from Costco
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • an onion or large handful of dried flakes of onion
  • any other veggie that's not watery (carrots, celery, cauliflower, asparagus, sweet potato)
{Cook all ingredients and either put them through a chopper or chop them up by hand (not including the pesto). Julienne or mince the sun-dried tomatoes. Mix all that you have in a big bowl then measure out into portion sizes of about two scant cups. Add 1/4 cup of Pesto to each 2 cups of "guts". Freeze in 2 cup containers.}

Directions:
  1. Put "guts" into well sprayed quiche pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs, pesto, s&p, potato starch and milk together. Pour over guts.
  3. Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle a little extra cheese over top of quiche and let melt as you make a salad to go with dinner! Cut into six pieces. Enjoy!


Cashew Milk
(tastes awesome, no grittiness, it's similar to the thickness of whole milk)

Ingredients:
1 blender
1 cup cashews
4 cups water
dash of salt
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (unnecessary if making this for quiche)
1 tsp vanilla (unnecessary if making this for quiche)

Directions:
  1. Blend nuts and two cups water on high for two minutes.
  2. Stop blender and add the other two cups of water+salt (and other ingred. if using).
  3. Blend 30 seconds more. Pour into bottles. Recipe makes 5 cups of milk.
  4. Stores in fridge for about 4-5 days.
I'd love to hear if you LOVE quiche and what you think of the recipe. What do YOU put in your quiche? HELP ME with new flavor combinations!!

Best,

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Test Driving QOR Watercolors

It should not have taken me more than a month to give my new QOR High Chroma watercolors a test drive. My forty-seventh birthday was mid last month and I was spoiled with cool art supplies (hey, what are you gonna give the rabid artist in your life?). I've been so lazy busy lately that it's taken me this amount of time to get to swatching the colors and seeing what they'll do on paper. But I finally got a wiggle on this week and worked on my long, long, LONG painterly to-do list.

The QOR High Chroma six tube set includes Cobalt Teal, Green Gold, Quin Gold, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Quin Magenta, and Dioxazine Purple. I found them wonderfully bright, clear and highly pigmented, just maybe not as pigmented as QOR implies. I'd say they are on par with Daniel Smith and Schmincke. If they are more pigmented than other premium brands I didn't particularly notice. I found they sunk into the paper a little faster than I was used to so it felt like they were more difficult to move around but I'm sure that's just a learning curve with the new binder they use in them. I had a learning curve with every upgrade in paint I ever tried so it would be nothing new to need a bit of practice with QOR to get the best out of them. 
I will definitely be using each color until it's gone and since everything but the green gold was already in my palette in another brand, when I refill a half pan I'll be able to try that color out in it's entirety. I'm not  specifically brand loyal, as long as a paint is professional quality and tends to be transparent I'm on board to using it. If I like any QOR color more than another brand I'd certainly switch. I can see myself particularly switching to the transparent pyrrole orange which was really wonderful, I love that color.

I'll be connecting to Paint Party Friday so why don't you come on over and check out the other art. I'd love to hear anyone's opinion in the comments section on the QOR watercolors and have they switched over as they got stuck into them? 

Best,

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Letter Mail

I absolutely love getting stuff in the mail. I used to have piles and heaps of stuff to write cool, fun and interesting letters but now that letter writing is a dying art, the main thing I send in the mail is, well, Art. In the past I've done cool trades with other artists and I'm always thrilled with what I get. 

Linda Kunsman of heARTfullyinspired and I decided to do a postcard art trade just for the fun of it. I was thrilled when she contacted me after I had admired one of her cool assemblage postcards and wanted to send it to me. I suggested doing a mail art exchange, it's always such fun making up the package you're sending.

I told Linda it would take me a little while to make something so hers would probably get to me before I could send and that's what happened. I'll be sending out Linda's letter mail art on Monday but hers arrived yesterday and it was such fun to open my exquisite letter art. She absolutely spoiled me, I hadn't expected anything but a cute little note and the assemblage postcard in my letter from her but instead there were a plethora of cool little things.

She included four coffee cup stamps that she made, a postcard from Pennsylvania, her business card, the awesome coffee inspired art piece and test strips of Peerless Watercolors. Yes, you heard me, I not only got a fantastic piece of assemblage art about one of my favorite things, CoFFee, arrive but I also get to try Peerless watercolors! I have wanted to try them for AGES. Thank you Linda for your generous gift. I will be framing your art to hang in my art room that I hope to have in the upcoming year. 

I also got my laminator out and made the adorable coffee cups into magnets for my fridge. I love them so thank you, they look fantastic and now my boring white fridge has reminders of my favorite hazelnut coffee. How do I know there's hazelnut coffee in my fridge magnets, you ask? Because duh, that's my favorite coffee!

I'm off to finish Linda's little package, I've got to find actual honest to god stamps somewhere in this house, lol. I have a letter opener and letterbox gathering dust as an ornament on my shelf, I wonder if there are some old stamps in there? Hehehe. ahhh how life has changed in twenty years. Go check out Linda's blog, she's really good with balance and color, I love her stuff, stuff I'm not great at. I can paint but assemblage befuddles me, we all do what we're good at. I'm just so grateful to have friends who do different kinds of art than me so I can collect awesomeness. Thanks again Linda, I'll have your package in the mail by Monday even if I have to hunt down a postmaster and kill him for his stamps. Ok, not really, I'd just molest him a little. You know, pocket picking and stuff. ;o)

Later gator.
Best,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: "Every Last Lie" by Mary Kubica

"Every Last Lie" is the latest book by Mary Kubica. It will be released on June 27,2017. I have previously devoured and loved "The Good Girl" and also "Don't You Cry" so I had high hopes for "Every Last Lie". I must admit, I was somewhat let down. Unfortunately even though it was eminently readable and the characters were well written, fleshed out and even likable, I just didn't get stuck in like I did with Kubica's previous books.

The mystery had a great premise, here's a synopsis. Just days after giving birth to their second child, Clara Solberg's husband Nick is killed in a car crash. Although the police insist it was an accident, Clara is becoming convinced that something bad happened on that fateful day. For one thing, her four year old daughter is rabidly afraid of something, she is having night terrors, screams "The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us." and is terrified of black cars. As Clara endeavors to continue functioning, her world falls apart around her. Everything is made worse when she discovers secrets Nick kept and these discoveries fuel Clara's racing mind. Her obsession with the crash will either bring her to the truth or destroy her.

As you can read, the beginning of the book is both heart stopping and achingly real. What happens if you discover that your husband wasn't who you thought he was and how do you get over blaming him for his own death. Or did someone else end him? The immediate problem presented itself in overly written scenes. I didn't need every single paranoid thought that Clara thinks to be on the page. I thought the book could have used some editing as I did finally get tired of the angst with which Clara faced the world. 
The second problem I found was that I second guessed the actions of Clara. Too many times I thought "do this" or "go here" or "do something about how you FEEL". I found myself rolling my eyes at Clara's actions one to many times. Kubica truly captured how absolutely frustrated and bone tired Clara must have felt dealing with a young obstinate child and a new born all on her own, but that excellent writing did not cover the parts where I thought Clara was overtly and annoyingly wimpy and indecisive. It just became too much and it overwhelmed the enjoyment of the story.

I wanted to like "Every Last Lie" but in the end it only reached a three out of 5 stars. I will keep reading Mary Kubica books in the future as her previous ones were hits.
Best,

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Review: "The Child" by Fiona Barton

"The Child" by Fiona Barton will be released on June 27, 2017. I had heard of Ms. Barton's phenomenal success with "The Widow" so I was happy to try her next stand alone mystery, "The Child". The two books are not a series but two separate stories that are unrelated to one another.

Journalist Kate Waters picks up on a small story about a newborn's bones being found at a construction site in a newly developing part of London and she wants to know more. After learning that the bones are old, Kate goes on a hunt for who would have buried a baby in the backyard of an old crumbling house. She believes the baby's story deserves to be told. When a forty year old crime involving the disappearance of a newborn from a hospital crops up Kate knows there's something to tell here. The parents are still devastated and wonder what happened to baby Alice.

Through dogged research and door to door interviews, Kate Waters discovers more buried secrets than just a baby. The trick is to connect all the lies to get at the truth.

This was one of those slow burn books for me. When I started it I certainly found Kate's investigative techniques interesting to learn about and it was easy to follow along with her thinking on how to discover what happened to baby Alice. But for at least half of the book, probably almost three quarters of it, I wasn't sure if it would get to a satisfying end. I should have had more faith in the author because by the end not only was I cheering but it was one of those rare, edge of your seat, OH MY GOD moments when everything finally clicks into place. You know those moments, we avid readers crave it like candy or drugs, lol. To come across one of those unique moments in a book seems to make your heart stop and your blood race in the same breath. I found myself leaning forward, begging my eyes to read faster and my brain to process better. I think I may have even squeaked and mumbled a few unintelligible things as the pace quickened. 

This journey was so totally worth the somewhat sluggish middle of the book. In fact, without the slogging I wouldn't have appreciated the spectacular Ahh Haa moment in the end. Much like you need a little broccoli in your life to make the ice cream taste that much better. Don't miss this book and since "The Child" was a five out of five, I suspect her previous book "the Widow" is in fact a five out of five too. The reviews certainly indicate that. I'm guessing I just discovered a  new author for my growing list.

Best,

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Can I Quote You?

The title above actually pertains in several ways to my post today. A few years ago I worked for Marit Barentsen and the team as the Canadian Editor for Featuring Magazine. It was a wonderful time and I absolutely loved writing for an art magazine. Working for Featuring actually taught me I could write. One of the Christmas' Marit sent each editor a beautiful hand made book full of twenty-four watercolor pages to do with what we would. I was so touched when I got it but really didn't know what to put into it. I didn't want to ruin my gorgeous gift with just anything so I painted up the pages with color and put it lovingly away until I had inspiration. When inspiration came I had forgotten just exactly where I had put it but I started an (inexpensive) little book to keep quotes in knowing I'd come across the handmade book when the time was right.

That happened last week. I was searching for something else and lo and behold, there was my beautiful little book from Marit! I had been saving quotes for several years now and I knew I'd have enough to fill it. So, last week I sat down and decorated each page with frames then added my very favorite quotes. There ended up being just enough of them that were really important to me, the ones that struck me as things to remember. So, finally, after years of waiting to be seen, here is my little book of quotes. Thank you Marit for inspiring this, I love how it all turned out and the book looks so beautiful in it's teal cover.
(Click on a Picture to Enlarge)
Quote from Edward DegasQuote is anonymous
Quote from "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth GilbertQuote from Arnold Lowrey
Quote from MichelangeloQuote from Oscar Wilde
I loved writing for Featuring. As the title of this blogpost implies, I loved using other artist's words to illuminate their art and to create a story around a subject. I wish there hadn't been a European monetary slowdown that caused Featuring to close. I know that if the magazine hadn't been so new it would have survived as I think (although I'm biased) it was the best art magazine out there. I hope some day to write for a magazine again. It was one the best experiences in my art life. I'll be joining Paint Party Friday. If you want to see more lovely art just head on over and join us.

P.S. If you want to see all of the quotes in the book you'll find them under my "LINKED PAGES" ------>(on the left) as "Quoted Art".
Best,

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: "The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris

"The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris will be released on June 20, 2017. Paris also wrote "Behind Closed Doors" which has fantastic reviews and it is on my to read list. Knowing that Paris had written this book heavily influenced me to agree to review "The Breakdown". I had heard such great reviews and also had heard about "Behind Closed Doors" so often that I was thrilled to get my hands on the newest thriller by this author.

Cass is in her mid thirties but she's worried she's losing her memory especially since her mother suffered from early onset dementia before her death recently. Everything is made worse when, on a dark and stormy night, Cass witnesses a murder victim right before her horrible murder. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and on the wrong road. She'd promised her new husband that she'd never take that backroad at night but in a moment of panic she wants to get home quickly, she breaks her promise. On that road she sees a woman sitting in her car. She doesn't stop and help, she's afraid of the storm and wants to get home but now she can't live with the guilt. When Cass learns the woman is dead she is distressed that she left the woman stranded and vulnerable. Cass's guilt sets off further hand wringing, memory problems and anxiety. Over time Cass gets worse, does she have dementia like her mother? Is her paranoia about the killer stalking her mean she has a mental disorder? Will her life ever get back to normal? No one believes her and she just wishes she could forget that woman like she seems to be forgetting everything else.

I had so many feelings about this book as I read it. I started out being excited and anxious to get stuck into the story. I thought I had it figured out by the first chapter but knew it would be a good story anyway. Then for about half of the book I just wanted it to move faster. I felt like it should have been edited to be shorter. I thought the writer didn't need to go on and on and on about phone calls and anxiety experienced by Cass. When finally in the last fifth of the book it started moving I found I was not exactly right about who done it or why. I found my enjoyment increased a whole star in about two pages.

I must admit that Cass was a little simpering and she didn't help herself at all in the beginning. I found that eminently frustrating. I found myself yelling at my Kindle, begging the main character to think outside the box and get a backbone. The writing was well done and truly conveyed the anxiety and debilitating loss of hope one would feel at thinking one had early onset dementia. My final note would be that I wished in the end Cass hadn't blamed herself for not loving the murderer enough. As though what she could have done would have saved the murder victim. If the book hadn't gone there, to blame the victim in the last few pages I certainly would have given this book four stars. I'm taking half a star away  because innocent victims should never blame themselves unnecessarily. I wish the author had left the main character in a slightly brighter place, I found it a real let down when Cass blamed herself once again.

I do actually recommend this book, just know that the middle is going to frustrate you. The ending is well worth it though. Just ignore Cass's last few thoughts.
Best,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Book Review: "The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson

"The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson is the sixth installment of his Jessica Daniel series. This book has already been released so if you're interested you can find it now in bookstores and online as an e-book. I was lucky enough to get the first book in the series, "Locked In" for 99¢ so I could get to know the main character well before delving into book six.

This is a twisted, complicated mystery that starts with a missing teen. Oliver was babysitting but when the parents of his charge come home they find their little girl fast asleep but no Oliver. Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is called in to find out where the teen has gone. By the time they find Oliver murdered, another murder has happened with very similar characteristics. Det. Daniel must winnow out the connection between the two murders and figure out who the culprit is. It will take her into the underworld of strip clubs and thugs. 

I really wanted to like this series. Unfortunately, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed. This book was only a three for me. It's not like the mystery isn't good, I just didn't connect enough to the character of Jessica. I found this surprising. Jessica Daniel is a no nonsense spitfire of a character who throws it back as much as she takes it when dealing with colleagues. She pushes hard for answers and runs herself even harder than she does the constables who work under her. I should have liked her. I really don't know why I didn't. Since it was a good, solid mystery with no flaws to speak of and the writing was good and the main protagonist was complicated and relatable I have to put it down to just not the right fit for me. It happens. I guess what I'm saying is that although I am putting this review up, you may want to look at other people's reviews to balance my blasé attitude toward this otherwise good read. So many other reviewers love this series. In fact, that's why I was excited to try it. Maybe I"m just having an off week. I hope you as the reader give this series a try, even though it wasn't for me, I still would recommended it to friends and family.

Best,

Friday, May 19, 2017

It's Paint Porn Time Again!

Calling all artists, calling all artists! Yes, I know how much we ALL love looking at other artists' stuff. It's one of my very favorite guilty pleasures, drooling over someone else's palette, paint bag, travel set or art shopping haul. So, since I just had my 47th birthday on Wednesday, I thought I'd show & tell all the lovely little art trinkets I was so thrilled to receive.
First and foremost, I got the High Chroma Qor Six tube set. Not only does this let me try Qor watercolors for the first time but I so totally wanted the tin the paints came in! It's the perfect size to make a full but compact palette. I ended up getting a total of 37 colors into this small palette that only measures about 4" x 6" (it's the size of an index card). I used some full and some half pans, mostly I did that so I could tell where colors fell. As most of you would know, if you don't have some way of telling, a line of ten colors can get confusing as darker dried watercolors all look black, lol. The High Chroma set includes 5ml tubes of Cobalt Teal, Green Gold, Quin Gold, Transp Pyrrole Orange, Quin Magenta, and Dioxazine Purple.
Next, my lovely Aunt Mic decided to surprise me with a little present every day of my birthday week! It was so fun to have something to open every morning. She must have talked to my mom and they trolled my bucket list of art supplies I drool over, lol. One of the coolest things is a very accurate eraser, the thinnest and most agile eraser line on the market. It's called Tombow Mono Zero Eraser and it's so thin that you can erase even the tiniest line. I'll be using it mostly for pencil work when one wants to get to the most impossible spot without disturbing the drawing. I am so thrilled to also now have Caran d'Arche Technalo water soluble pencils. There were a bunch of other wonderful stuff including another cool eraser for smudging using the lightest touch, pens and even a stencil set as I'm rubbish at lettering, I was well spoiled.

As you can tell, much of the above involves working on detail pencil art so as a final gift I was so thrilled to get a set of 24 Derwent Tinted Chracoal. I love how the lead colors are just slightly tinted and they can be liquified with a water brush to give even more interesting colors and effects. I can't wait to try them.

So, there'll be several more paintings of art supplies. I mean, when you have all these puuurrrty new things you should immortalized them in your sketchbook, right? 

If you are interested, here's the list of the paint colors and brands that are in my shiny new palette. Oh, and also if you're interested, I attached each pan using a magnet cut and glued to the bottom of each plastic piece using silicone glue. I tried previously just relying on the sticky backing on the magnet strip but I found when I pulled a color out the magnet was strong enough to pull off the plastic instead of out of the tin, lol. Addition of a tiny bit of silicone glue worked perfectly. Now everything magnetically attaches to the palette and can be switched out anytime I want to. Here's the list of colors, left to right, top to bottom. (DS=Daniel Smith, S=Schmincke, W&N=Winsor & Newton)
Row 1 (turquoises & Purples):
Cobalt Teal (DS), Prussian Green (S), Aqua Green (W&N) , Phthalo Green (DS), Quin Violet (W&N), Carbazole Violet (DS), Moonglow (DS), Neutral Tint (S)

Row 2 (Greens):
Green Gold (QOR), Phthalo Yellow green (DS), Leaf Green (Sap), Sap Green (Holbein), Sap Green (Schmincke), Hooker's Green (Sennelier), Serpentine Genuine (DS), Sap Green (DS), Shadow Green (Holbein)

Row 3 (Yellows):
Pure Yellow (Schmincke), New Gamboge (DS), Yellow Ochre (S), Quin Gold (DS), Burnt Sienna (DS), Burnt Umber (S), Buff Titanium (DS)

Row 4 (Blues):
Manganese Blue (), Cerulean Blue (W&N), French Ultramarine (DS), Phthalo Sapphire (W&N), PB60 (DS), Indigo (W&N), Payne’s Blue Grey (S)

Row 5 (Reds):
Transparent Orange (S) ,Permanent Red (S), Quin Red (Sennelier), Sanguine Red (W&N), Opera Pink (DS), Permanent Rose (W&N), Quin Magenta (DS)

I'll be joining up this week with Paint Party Friday. Why don't you head on over and see what gorgeous art has been created this week!
Talk soon, promise.

Best,

Friday, May 5, 2017

LIMITED EDITION: "The Perfect Sketchbook 2017"

Hiya. I've done a post like this before, I mean about The Perfect Sketchbook. I wrote all about the funding campaign two years ago, you can read all about it HERE. I'm telling you this because I got an email this morning saying that the maker, Erwin Lian, has done a limited edition of this sketchbook for 2017. Here's some of the information about the sketchbook from their website (I'm not affiliated, I just know it's a great sketchbook).


Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.
Wonderful PaperGreat for Watercolor and other Media
I just wanted any artist out there who has a little money burning a hole through your pocket to know that there are only a little less than THIRTY left to be purchased out of the nine hundred they made. The count down is on so if you want one, RUN over and grab yourself a spectacular Perfect Sketchbook. Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me one for my birthday this May16th then go for it, ;o).

Ok, so click on the picture below or THIS LINK to go to buy The Perfect Sketchbook. Talk soon with some actual art, sorry I've been MIA for a while. :o)


Best,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: "The Perfect Stranger" by Megan Miranda

"The Perfect Stranger" is Megan Miranda's latest book. I had previously loved "All The Missing Girls" and given it high marks for both mystery and character development so I had really high hopes for this new book. I'm so glad I put in to review it as it held up spectacularly to my expectations. "The Perfect Stranger" is already out in print so go pick it up at your local bookstore.

You know when you read a book and after you're done you find yourself wondering about what the characters are up to now? It's like they become real people to you and you want to phone them up and ask how they're doing, suggest you go for a cuppa and chat about their lives after such a harrowing experience. Are you still with the boyfriend? Did you finally settle down and find happiness in that little town you moved to? How's it going my friend? Ya, this is one of those books, I just cannot seem to let the characters go. That is such a good thing.

I crave these kind of books, the ones that get under your skin and set your world a little on a tilt. Once again, Megan Miranda has written wonderfully knowable characters that she has fleshed out by winding the details into the story. Leah Stevens used to be a journalist, now she's run from her life in Boston to a little town in Pennsylvania to teach high school. Leah will be living with her old friend Emmy Grey but their new start is marred when a woman who looks like Leah is assaulted and Emmy disappears. To protect her new life Leah will have to manipulate the truth and the past to stay above water. The local police are confused and Leah isn't helping by keeping details to herself. She's going to have to trust someone or she may not ever unravel the truth about where Emmy has gone.

This mystery works on so many levels. "The Perfect Stranger" sucks you into the labyrinth of Leah's life and the reader is given salient details in a slow, piecemeal fashion which stretches the tension. By the last quarter of the book the reader aches to understand where all the pieces of this puzzle fit together. The ending is so satisfying that I almost sighed in satisfaction, like one does when one finishes the last bite of an especially delicious dessert, good to the last word.

Best,

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