Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review: Omens By Kelley Armstrong

I do really love reading books, but what I love even more than reading is discovering a new author. I have to admit that I normally wouldn't have chosen this kind of book. My genre is mysteries and although there's a mystery involved Omens, it also has a decidedly paranormal slant. That's the thing that normally would have scared me away. No, I'm not a scaredy-cat, lol, it's just I usually find paranormal books a little weird. Much like the fantasy genre, most of the time I'm put off by the overwhelmingly unbelievability of everything. That's one of the things I LOVED about this book. Much of the writing and happenings were believable, the author expertly wove a good, believable plot line into some paranormal events. She didn't name her characters something unpronounceable and make their behavior bizarre. 

There is a saying about a good book, "You Can't Put It Down!". This book seriously fits that description. Even better, it's also an easy read, cool huh?? In fact, Omens was so good, when I finished it I rushed to the computer to find out when the next installment of the series was due. Oh, didn't I tell you? It's a SERIES TOO!! YAY! For me, the sign of a good book is when you just can't stop thinking about the character once you close the cover. You find yourself wondering what's gonna happen next with Olivia? You wonder how she's doing, as if her life continues when you're not reading about her. I have to say, for the past week, I've wondered nearly obsessively about the title character. Now that's a good author!

Let me give you a small synopsis or outline of the story. No, no spoilers here, you don't have to avert your eyes if you intend to be smart and try this book. I don't believe in those types of reviews. I think my job as a reviewer is to give you my opinion as to weather the book is actually worth your time and why I believe it is or not. Ok, so, as I said, the main character is Olivia. She's in her mid twenties and she's been raised in a very privileged household. Olivia is intelligent, educated and wealthy, she's engaged to a handsome man and she seems to have it all, until the night she finds out that she is actually the daughter of notorious serial killers Pamela and Todd Larson. Her newly learned adopted status throws her life into chaos as the media descend on her Chicago home. The story is about just how Olivia handles the news about her heritage. Are her real parents actually guilty of brutally killing eight people? Did her adoptive parents know about who she was before they adopted her? Does this change who she is? 


The author expertly weaves the paranormal into the story. Kelley Armstrong, the author of Omens, starts with subtle ideas that are easily accepted by the reader, then after she's gotten the reader hooked she introduces more intricacies. One of the other good things about Ms. Armstrong's writing is she doesn't break the contract she starts with the reader. I think of the outline of who the main character is as a contract between the writer and the reader. If the author then breaks the contract by having the character, like Olivia, do something not within her personal reality, then I consider the author is lying.The author of Omens doesn't make Olivia do anything foolishly out of character. 

Have I convinced you yet to pick up this book? Well, if not here's a great quote I came across about Omens from the New York Times bestselling author of In The Blood, Lisa Unger, "

“Like the creepy, spooky town of Cainsville, Kelley Armstrong's OMENS lured me in. I was busy, way too busy for this book, which, through a series of surprises and sleights of hand, had me conspiring for ways to get back to the gripping story, the colorfully bizarre cast of characters, and the clever, strong, smart heroine at its center. Don't pick this book up if you have anything else to do. It will grab you by the collar and won't let you up for air until it's good and ready. And once you’re done, you won't soon forget it.”

The next installment of Kelley Armstrong's new series (called The Cainsville Series) comes out August 19, 2014 and is named Visions. If after reading Omens you find yourself addicted to the author's style then you'll be happy to know she's written a bunch of other books, I'm going now to look up the next one I'm gonna try. Did I say, I LOVE finding a new author!

Oh, I wanted to mention that I was given the opportunity to review Omens and was generously sent a hardcopy of the book. Although my opinions are wholly my own, I did want to thank Megan Beatie of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, Dutton Books, the publisher of Kelley Armstrong's terrific new book Omens and the author herself for writing such intriguing books.

Best,
Jenn


If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 90

Early this month I did a bunch of black and white Pen & Ink sketches, sometimes using a pencil to add a little shading. Do you remember me mentioning those drawings? I'm betting you wondered why I didn't show them, right? Ya, well, they were done as a gift for a good friend who's venturing out a little and widening his culinary horizons. He wanted to learn some new recipes and asked if I'd go through all of mine and choose my very favorite. I thought, what a unique and cool thing to ask for as a present! Of course, as an artist I couldn't just print up a bunch of boring (but totally yummy!) recipes and not embellish them. Hehehe. So, I printed them all out onto good, thick watercolor paper then I got onto adding illustrations to bring each recipe to life. 


I started with my very favorite soup recipe, Pink Shrimp Bisque, which I have shared with the world last year on Dion Dior's Blog series "When Artists Cook". This time I decided to do an actual shrimp drawing. Boy, are those things uuuugly! Hehehe. I looked up an actual shrimp and was horrified that I was gonna draw him. Eek! But I powered through my squeamishness and added him to the blank recipe. I think he looks much cuter in Pen & Ink, lol. You should just be glad I haven't shown you the crab I did. That'll have to be on another week. Remember to scroll down for APR, I can't wait to see your art. :o)


Click to Enlarge (my photography skills seem to have sucked last week!)
Best,




Remember, there are no themes for The Artist's Play Room any more so link up any art you're working on!
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Monday, January 20, 2014

You Have The Key To My Heart

It seems that at the moment I'm totally enjoying doing monochromatic drawings. I love trying to achieve the three dimensional-ness of objects. It used to stress me out to no end when I looked at a photograph and trying to convert it to a monochromatic drawing. I guess I didn't used to know how to analyze the shadows. I'm not sure what I did in the last eight to ten months to "Learn" how to interpret shadow but I sure am having fun with it now! Don't you love it when you learn stuff through osmosis, ostensibly without you're having to do anything?? I LOVE that! Hehehe.

Now, if only that worked with learning a language or a new subject. I'd totally want to learn French, (hey, in Canada that's useful!), and maybe geography! (I suck at geography, by the way. Although I'm embarrassed to admit just how lost I get when watching the news. I hate being generally stuuuupid about something but no matter how I try, I still forget where the heck Bangladesh is on a map, lol.) And with that, maybe I'll go buy a globe, it's getting to be news time. ;o)
Click to enlarge
Oh, and sorry that the camera didn't capture this that well, it seems the pencil doesn't get captured with the flash so some of it looks a little weird.

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here. I'll also probably be adding this to Paint Party Friday and Sunday Sketches if I can just remember to do it!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 89

By Danielle Donders via Flickr
Do you love pears? Yes, I said pears, not bears, lol. I know, it sounds like a strange question, but do you? I do. I'm not talking about eating them, although I do find them delicious (thank God as I'm totally allergic to apples!). What I mean is I love, absolutely LOVE to draw. paint or sketch pears. They're so shapely and I find them much more friendly than say, bananas. I know, this sounds fruitist. It's not like I shun drawing other fruit. In the past I've drawn blackberries, strawberries, apples and even a banana but I find I always come back to pears. I'm not entirely sure why. (I decided to read what I was writing to my mom and she pointed out that my shape is akin to the pear so that might be another reason I'm so attracted to them. One never knows.)

It seems I'm not alone in my love of the pear. There is a tribute website devoted specifically to this adorable fruit. The website is called "Pearathon" and there you'll find all manners and ways of capturing the humble pear. I was so excited when I came across this site and I find it inspiring to go to and just peruse all the myriad ways artists have rendered the PEAR. Martha Lever of Art du Jour even gives a class for the love of pears. It's called Pearology, a perfect title for an art class about how to paint a great watercolor pear. Isn't it cool when other people love the very same things you do?

Anyway, here's the pear drawing I did a couple days ago. (Let me be clear though, the theme for this week is NOT pears, lol. APR has no themes anymore. Just show your beautiful work, whether it's a work in progress (WIP) or a finished piece.)

click to enlarge
Best,




It seems everyone is liking the new format of The Artist's Playroom. I'm so glad to see everyone participating. I love all the sharing!
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Life's A Bowl Of Cherries...

I'm having such fun drawing. I'm actually doing a lot of it lately, drawing I mean. So much that I ran out of time to actually post what I drew for my own Artist's Play Room last week! You know, I've never really been a prolific artist. I've never known that need and desperate want to create. Don't get me wrong, when I'm in the middle of a piece I'm ecstatic, loving the process, watching what I'm creating bloom on paper. But until now I've never known that wonderful sounding "desperate need" to create. I know one of my good friends Tracey Fletcher King is blessed with that muse. I've always been a little envious, wishing she could parcel up a little piece of inspiration and send it to me as a present.

Well it seems an unknown Christmas present arrived a little late this year. When I started drawing early last week I found that somehow, in my sleep, I had found the muse of inspiration that pushes you to so totally want to go do art twenty-four hours a day. WOW. It's a little overwhelming but I'm totally NOT complaining. LOL. My hand aches and my brain whirrs as I draw and draw and draw. I think I've done fifteen to twenty pieces in a week! Holy cow, I've never wanted to create like this. I hope the feeling never leaves me, I'm gonna to do my utmost to use and deserve it.

Here's a pen & ink drawing of a cherry branch done in my Moleskine. The only bad thing about wanting to draw all the time is HOLY COW my hand hurts! hehehee. Talk soon? OK!
(Click to enlarge pictures)
Best,
If you're looking for this week's APR just click here. Not only will I be adding this sketch to my own APR this week but I'm also going to join Sunday Sketches and also hopefully (If I remember to) Paint Party Friday. It's always good to make new friends. :o)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Artist's Play Room #88

Hi all, out my window this morning is rain, rain, RAIN. Did you know, I don't mind? Yep, I'm a rain girl. I love it. I actually find it energizing. Who cares if I get rain hair, I can put up with a bit of frizz! I'll give you that I do wish it was a little warmer, but that's  not the rain's fault, it falls no matter if it's warm or cool. Of course, I'm just glad it's not cool enough to change it's basic structure from heavy, fat, wet raindrops to light, fluffy, cold snowflakes! We have a saying here in this part of Canada, "At least we don't have to shovel it!", hehehe. 

Funny enough, the crocuses are actually trying to stick their little heads above the ground already! It's been a rough winter so far all across Canada so an early Spring would sure be welcome. Usually we chuckle when we have flowers so early, thinking of the East, suffering through the lower temperatures. I'm thinking this year we'll just keep those crocuses to ourselves. No need to rub in the bad weather the rest of Canada's suffering, huh? So no sniggering under our breaths here. Mother nature might decide to punish us for our arrogance with more winter weather!! I'm gonna be good, I promise! :o) Enjoy our second Artist's Play Room of 2014.
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room and to enter your artwork throughout this upcoming week. Click here to read the new changes to APR.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,




Thanks to all of you who participated last week, you all did spectacularly! Better than me, I did art but didn't get it posted!! Bad Jenn, baaaaddd! ;o)

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 87 - A New Year

Well aren't I just silly. We start a new year and it makes me think "Fresh Start", "New Beginnings" and "Onward & Upward". I was so excited this New Year to post the official changes to my Artist's Play Room (which you can read about here or here). I thought applying fresh, new and upward would inspire me to get going and participate again, to keep the agenda tight. What happens? My brain happens, that's what. It's like a spider's web in there, no linear list making, no hierarchal thinking here. NOPE. 

Here's how my brain works, just so if you wondered about the rats nest in there, you'd have a crude map. 
  1. Dinner's over, what shall I do?
  2. I wonder what's on TV?
  3. I could work on the recipes I'm culling for Duncan...
  4. How the heck am I gonna explain to him what a roux is? That's a good Jeopardy question...
  5. Ooh, there's always Jeopardy taped!
  6. Taped? Other stuff's taped too. Maybe something else...
  7. Did I brush my teeth this morning? Of course I did, why wouldn't I?
  8. OOH!!! CORONATION STREET must have taped!! YAY!!
  9. I wonder what's gonna happen with Kylie?
  10. I wonder what a rum and coke tastes like. I should really expand my alcohol knowledge..
  11. Awww, it's Saturday, Coronation's not on on Saturday.
  12. SATURDAY!!!! SH*T! I forgot about APR!
  13. *Jenn sits down to apologize that she can't even tell the days of the week and the first APR of the new year is LATE*
  14. Sigh. Sorry. *hangs head in utter shame*
LOL, yep, I've been thinking about APR for days, weeks and months lately and when it finally counts I drop the ball. Hopefully this doesn't spell things to come this year. Scatterbrained is NOT something I want to add to my skill set, although I must admit my loved ones have a term for my inability to stay on one topic for long. They call it "SQUIRREL!". I can give you a definition that we have for the phenomenon. Just click here and read about my little problem personality quirk. Anyway, without further ado, heeeeerrrres APR!!

Best,



It;s so nice to be back and thank you to all of you who noticed. :o)
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Ideas For The Artist's Play Room

Hi all, Happy New Year. It's so nice to have a brand new year starting. I must admit, 2013 was a rough year all around for  me and several beloved friends/family. I'm thrilled to say I'm finally back after many months of health issues. I may, over this year, have the courage to explain just what was going on health wise with me but for now I'm just happy to say I'll be back blogging and keeping up with all of you again. Thanks to all of you who kept coming around and leaving comments. It has been much appreciated. I'M BACK!! YAY!!!!

I've been really giving The Artist's Play Room a lot of thought in the last several months. I think it's time for a little make over for the place we share our artwork. Instead of every week having a theme to fit in with, I've decided that it would be more inclusive for APR to just be a place to share and talk about our artwork.

I want everyone to feel like their paintings are welcome, so starting this week, the first new week of the year, there will be no themes. Share what you're working on, whether it's finished or not. Let all of us see your artwork so we can encourage you to continue on your journey to being the artist you want to be. I'd love to encourage all of you to check in and talk about your art.

I think this will make APR truly live up to it's name, a place to play in The Artist's PLAY ROOM. I'm thinking we'll leave APR each week on Saturdays, each Mr. Linky will go live for that week around noon on that Saturday. If a majority of you want it on another day I'll take any and all suggestions. Is there a better day of the week to have it? (You can put your art from that week in at any time, by the way. You don't have to put your link in only on Saturday.)

I look forward to hearing from all of you and welcome back to APR for 2014!! I can't wait to see your art. (If anything is unclear, click here to go to the APR FAQ page.)
Best,




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