Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Review: "Cold, Cold Heart" by Tami Hoag

This was such an unusual mystery/thriller. But by the end of "Cold Cold Heart", the book became so great that I'm happy that I believed in Tami Hoag's prowess as an excellent writer and plowed through.

"Cold, Cold Heart" had an unexpected slow start. Now, don't get me wrong, in this case that's not a bad thing. I found it quite refreshing to not know exactly where this mystery was going for several well written chapters.

The book opens with the reader meeting Dana Nolen, a kidnap victim of a serial killer named Doc Holiday. She becomes the only victim of this vicious killer who lived. Dana isn't the same person now though. After surviving torture and struggling through rehab, she still has little memory of the ordeal that changed her life forever. 

Tami Hoag's book spends about half of it's pages teaching us about Dana's new life and what it means to be a victim of a serial killer. We learn of the lasting scars, both psychological and physical and what it's like to have PTSD. Throughout this interesting meandering through Dana's new life we also learn about her past life and the people who she grew up with. In that learning the reader discovers that there is in fact a mystery to be had after all. When Dana was younger her best friend disappeared and was never heard from again. Could she have been one of the first victims of Doc Holiday? Could there be such a cruel coincidence? What happened to Dana's bestie? Now that we're invested in Dana's life, this mystery pulls us hard into wanting to know what happened, if only to help Dana heal from the trauma of wondering if her own torturer also killed her best friend.

I absolutely loved the way Ms. Hoag wrote this thriller. It was so refreshing for an author to find a new and unique way of leading the reader into the mystery.  You get to love the main character first. You care about her and want her to be ok, all before the main mystery pulls you into it's spiderweb of twists and turns. This is a five out of five star book and so well worth the read. I hadn't read Tami Hoag for a few years and now I'm going to go back and fill in my reading with the books I've missed. If this book is any indication of what I've missed, I'll have a plethora of mysteries to fill my spring and summer reading. Tami Hoag's "Cold, Cold Heart" is being released January 13, 2015 so let this terrific mystery keep you warm on those cold January nights.
Best,



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: "No Fortunate Son" by Brad Taylor

I loved this book. I was surprised to find myself liking "No Fortunate Son" so much as I usually don't like military/political thrillers much. I'm really not any kind of a political animal or military enthusiast so anything to do with either category really never interested me, until this book. I am now sure I've found a new spectacular author in Brad Taylor.

Mr. Taylor has written a slam-bang, run as fast as you possibly can and read well into the night to get to the end of this stunningly well written book. Our main characters, Pike Logan and partner Jennifer Cahill are summarily fired from their jobs with an undercover counterterrorist unit called Taskforce. They are both shocked. With their last mission, Pike had broken many rules but had also saved many lives. You'd think a successful mission that saved thousands of lives would be a positive thing, but the oversight committee has decided to put their foot down. What the committee doesn't know is they'll need Pike & Jennifer's keen skills to get through the latest terrorist threat to the country.

The book starts with Colonel Kurt Hale, Pike's former commander, asking for his and Jennifer's help in finding Hale's niece who has disappeared from her University in England. Kylie is an exchange student and hasn't been heard from for several days. There has been no social media interactions from Kylie and her Uncle is worried. At the same time, the Taskforce team has been called into action. Key members of the government have had their children or relatives kidnapped, including the Vice President's son. It's a complicated and huge mission, to track down the terrorists who coordinated this monumental feat. Who took the hostages and how do you negotiate when you official policy is that "we don't negotiate with terrorists"?

Brad Taylor has written an intricate and complicated thriller that draws you in from the first page and doesn't let you go until the last paragraph. As the reader, you cheer for Pike and Jennifer, no matter what they have to do to win against the terrorists. You'll love the blatant good against evil theme. This is a five out of five book, go, run or click onto to your nearest bookstore on December 30 and GET THIS BOOK. You won't regret it, in fact, you'll hate yourself if you don't.
Best,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just A Little Note...

I thought I'd tell all of you about the free introductory class from Sketchbook Skool. Anyone who has thought of signing up but has been reluctant can try it out first and get your feet wet, so to speak. This allows all of you who just don't know what it would be like to take a course to try before you buy. Isn't that great?

Anyway, here's the link to sign up for the free mini class. Merry Christmas!
Best,




I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday Season. APR will start up in January 2015. :o)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review: "Saving Paradise" by Mike Bond

"Saving Paradise" by Mike Bond is based in Hawaii, which made it really enjoyable to read. It was informative to learn all about Hawaiian history and the corrupt underbelly that exposes the exploitation of Hawaiian natives. 

Pono Hawkins, our main character, is a special forces veteran, an excellent surfer, a native to Hawaii and a reluctant amateur sleuth. When Hawkins inadvertently bumps into a beautiful, young but dead woman, as he goes to catch the next wave one morning, he is instantly saddened and overcome by her death. The fact that he found her spurs him on to find out what happened. The police called it an accident but Pono discovers that she was murdered. Finding justice for Sylvia Gorden, the beautiful and smart investigative journalist who stepped into something much too sinister for her own good, is Pono's determined goal.

Mike Bond's excellent narrative is both fast paced and convoluted. Although quite logical in his step by step approach to finding the killer of Sylvia, Bond's writing keeps the reader's interest by having many savvy details. Mr. Bond's prose include beautiful descriptions of Hawaii's islands. The reader, as they run headlong into the mystery, is treated to some spectacular scenery along the way.

This is a four star book, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a slightly different kind of hero and a good who-done-it mystery. Along with a great and complicated mystery, you get terrific information about Hawaii, it's history and the lifestyle of the people who live there. It's an easy read and a good book to curl up with on a cold and snowy day.
Best,



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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Last Page

I can't believe I've finished my Moleskine sketchbook. It's a real milestone for me. I had only done about a dozen or so pages in my Watercolor Moleskine in 2012 and 2013. Then I signed up for Sketchbook Skool earlier this year. In doing two courses with them ("Beginnings" and "Seeing"), each course being six weeks, I have filled the entire rest of the Moleskine. The whole book has over seventy pages. So, it took me only twelve or so weeks to fill over fifty pages. Amazing.


It's been quite a journey in three years. I've learned so much and grown in my art. I love how my paintings are getting looser and I'm not afraid anymore to start any piece. I just jump in with no fear that I'll mess it up or not be able to create what I want to create. I've learned so much about how watercolor paint works and how the water moves the paint around. I've learned how to successfully use water-soluble pens too. It's been so much fun, I can hardly explain how great the learning has been.

I would SO recommend Sketchbook Skool for anyone who wants to learn great techniques and see incredible art from your teachers. You'll also have a terrific group of people to grow and learn with. All of us interact in a private group on Facebook, it's like playing on the playground when you were in grade school. Having fun, learning and sharing is the best way to grow. I couldn't recommend it more.

If you'd like to see my progression in art, go to my Flickr account.
Best,


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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: "Suspicion" by Alexandra Monir

"Suspicion" was a lovely and easy read. I didn't particularly realize that it was written for tweens until I was well into the book. I just thought the author, Alexandra Monir, wrote easily read books. By the midpoint, I had noticed that there weren't as many details in this mystery as I would expect in an adult book. It was, however, enjoyable just as Harry Potter was enjoyable, even though it was written for children. "Suspicion" has qualities that remind me of "The Princess Diaries" but with an interesting mystery and murder plot with a little paranormal thrown in.

Our heroine Imogen Rockford is the granddaughter of The Duke of Rockford. Her heritage makes her status just below royalty. But when her parents, aunt and uncle are killed in a fire started in the garden's maze, Imogen is left alone at ten years old. She is moved to the United States to be raised by her parent's best friends and in the process of moving, she abandons all of her family heritage back at Rockford Manor, including her older cousin Lucia and Sebastian, the boy she loves. Not until she receives an urgent letter from Rockford Manor when she's seventeen, does she confront all that she left behind. Imogen will have to deal with her painful past, learn the history of her family lineage and go back to Rockford Manor to gain the truth about what really happened to her parents and what her future holds.

As I said, this was an easy read. Because this book was written for tweens I'll be giving it four stars. The mystery was good but some of the paranormal details just were not fleshed out enough. As an adult it was enjoyable to read and I think parents would have fun reading this book to their children. "Suspicion" had some interesting and unique ideas that would have brought this young adult book into a five star if they had been explored in deeper way. The actual mystery was quite complex and kept me from being bored. I know tween girls will certainly enjoy reading about Imogen just as they enjoyed The Princess Diaries years ago.

Best,




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