Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book Review: "The Graphic Vegetable" by Michael B. Emery & Irwin Richman

"The Graphic Vegetable"  by Michael B. Emery & Irwin Richman publishes today, November 28, 2016 and is available to purchase.

This is a beautiful and visually stunning book. I contacted the publisher so I could have a hard copy to review as I didn't think my Kindle would do it justice. I'm so glad I did. As an artist I appreciate this book even more. It is really a love letter to vegetables and the way we've advertised them over the many years.

I have always been fascinated by seed packets and old can labels so the collection of photographs in this book is right up my alley. Alongside all the awesome vegetable artwork is an historical look at how we've seen vegetables on our tables in the last century. The authors start the book by discussing how vegetarianism got started then the book moves through each group of vegetable including onions, beets, carrots, kale, cucumber, peas, herbs etc. 

As I said above, it is obvious that this was a work of love for the authors. I find all the information fascinating but what I really love is the visual data, all the beautifully rendered artwork done in homage to the humble vegetable. If you are a visual person like me and get joy out of just seeing amazing artwork or, like the authors are irresistibly drawn to historical drawings and knowledge then this book is for you. It would make a sumptuous coffee table book for any artist or foodie. That's where mine is right now, where friends can peruse a beautifully rendered history of vegetables in both word and picture form. I think it would make an unusual but perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: "Stonefly" by Scott J. Holliday

"Stonefly" by Scott J. Holliday was a wonderfully unique book and so worth the time I took to read it. I'll start with a synopsis then give my reasons why you as the reader should invest some time in this book.

Jacob Duke has a compulsion to grant wishes. When he is ten a schoolmate wishes her tormentor dead and Jake is compelled to grant her wish. This act sends Jake to a mental institution in Braketon. We fast forward to ten years later and Jake has come back to Braketon to do some lazy fly fishing, he wants some alone time. He had promised himself while in the institution that someday he would enjoy beautiful Braketon summer days from outside the institution's walls. On his mini vacation from his tattoo shop, Jake doesn't intend on meeting a young boy named Frankie. Frankie makes a terrible wish. "I wish someone would kill my dad." Now Jake has six days to change Frankie's mind or fulfill his wish.

5+, When it's so good you just CAN'T miss it.
Some books build up a huge head of steam very quickly and the reader feels like they're rushing headlong into a spectacularly  overwhelming ending. Other books are a slow build of tension that keeps the reader reading steadily well into the night not because of the adrenaline rush but because they just have to know what happens to the characters. Scott Holliday's "Stonefly" is an exquisitely written book that follows the latter form of tension. It's tension is not the breathless kind but is still incredibly effective in compelling the reader to keep reading. We want to know what compels Jake to grant wishes, we want to know if Jake can rescue Frankie from his horribly abusive father and we want to see a happily ever after for Jake at the end.

Even by the first chapter I was trepidatious on wishing for that happily ever after for Jake but I knew I'd love this book. Sometimes just the sheer poetic beauty of the writer's style tells you you're gonna love this read. That's what this book was like for me, a five star slow boiling need to see what was gonna happen in Jake's unusual world. I'm not going to give you any more details about the book as even one more word would possibly ruin something wonderful. Go get this book, you'd be missing something awesome if you skip it.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: "Beautiful Maids All in a Row" by Jennifer Harlow

"Beautiful Maids All in a Row" by Jennifer Harlow comes out on October 10, 2016. This was the very first book this author ever wrote and she wrote it when she was nineteen. This truly excellent five star read certainly foreshadowed Jennifer Harlow's skill as an author. She has now written more than twelve books so you will have other selections as you explore this author's writings.

Dr. Iris Ballard is a mess. She used to be an FBI profiler with a degree in forensic psychology. Now she spends her time popping pills to help with her PTSD and when that doesn't work she moves on to vodka and chocolate bars. It all fell apart when a serial murder that she had caught got away and came for her. He not only stabbed Iris but he also shot her husband just to punish her for profiling him. It's been two years since that horrible day and Iris just wants to eat her chocolate bars, watch TV and drink her vodka.

When Iris's ex-partner Luke Hudson knocks on her door right after she's fired from her job at the local collage she isn't in the mood to listen to plea for help in the latest serial killer case he's heading up. But Luke leaves the files with her and Iris can't help herself, catching killers is what she does best. She becomes even more invested when one of the victims ends up being an acquaintance of her former husband.  Now Iris has to find and stop the man they call the Woodsman.

With her profile and a large team of FBI agents she and Luke plot how they will catch a killer who is stalking, drugging, raping and strangling women. The problem is he's smart enough to put the bodies in water next to the forests where he tortures them. There is no evidence to follow. It will become a cat and mouse game between Iris and the Woodsman. Who will be the mouse and who will play the cat becomes the problem as Iris struggles to stay out of a killer's sights.

5+ means the book is beyond great,
it means DON'T miss this one!
This book was beyond excellent. I knew within the first ten pages that I had a slam bang winner on my hands. Dr. Iris Ballard is a strong kick ass character that takes no guff from anyone, including her former partner. She is made all the more interesting and three dimensional as we learn of her guilt and shame wrapped around the incident that took her career and her husband. The writing was succinct with no wasted words. The author was so smart about making this mostly a game between two broken people, one a psychopathic killer and the other the profiler who needed to catch him. Only the scenes that needed explaining were added, there was no "fluffing" to make the book longer. This kept the tension high and caused this reader to hold her breath several times and read late into the night.

I certainly hope Jennifer Harlow writes more Iris Ballard books because her character was just that good. If I were you I'd put this book on my "to read" list and rush out to get it immediately. If you like psychological thrillers you nave a total winner in this one.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: "Ghosts Of Havana" by Todd Moss

"Ghosts Of Havana" by Todd Moss published on September 6, 2016 so it is available for purchase now.

Judd Ryker is a former academic who now works for the American government as a state department crisis manager. His wife Jessica, although ostensibly a soccer mom is actually a covert CIA operative. Although Judd doesn't know it, his wife helps him behind the scenes.

Four friends from Maryland decide to take a fishing vacation off the coast of Florida. When their boat drifts into Cuban waters the Cuban navy promptly arrests all four men and throws them in jail. Judd is sent to negotiate their release. What he finds is that none of the details surrounding the incident make sense. Everyone around Judd is lying, they all have their own agenda regarding the politics that surround Cuban-American relations. Lives are in the balance though and Judd has to win the day to also save his own life and the lives of others.

This book was very well written and succinct. I always find it a great way of understanding what is happening in the world when an informed author writes an exciting story based on what's happing now. Todd Moss is the former deputy assistant secretary of state. Because of his intimate knowledge of the government, he imbues his books with details that feel real. 

Currently, actual US-Cuban relations are improving and changing, basing the book on real events allows for both a spectacular thriller and also lets the reader see behind the scenes so to speak. This is what makes Moss's books great. Beyond his strong characters, tight storyline and terrific grasp of how to keep the reader engaged, we also feel like the story just might be true. I give this book a 4 out of five stars.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: "Against All Grain Celebrations" by Danielle Walker

I am so thrilled to be reviewing Danielle Walker's newest cookbook, "Against All Grain Celebrations". This wonderfully creative Gluten Free and Paleo cookbook is out in stores on September 27,2016.

I have to confess, I'm a huge fan of Danielle Walker. I have both of her other cookbooks in hardcover, I follow her blog and get her newsletter. I must have pinned over a hundred of her recipes in the past few years and every recipe I've made has come out deliciously. I love that Mrs. Walker gives tips both in her book and online about how to make her recipes the best you can achieve.

Cooking Paleo and Gluten Free is hard. Not only is it difficult going without the regular, convenience foods everyone else can indulge in but acquiring all the myriad ingredients and then producing a successful recipe can seriously be daunting. In comes Danielle Walker and her cookbooks. I can't believe I can say this but I have only had success with her recipes, that's a miracle in the Paleo & GF world. I'd have to say that when I just go online to find recipes it's usually a 50-50 chance that the recipe will fail. This is usually no fault of my own, I know to follow directions explicitly. In fact, the first Christmas we were GF, more than half of our recipes were inedible. What a waste of food, effort and Christmas spirit! Needless to say, I didn't have Danielle's cookbooks, "Against All Grain Celebrations", "Danielle Walker's Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime" or "Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great" then. Now several years later, I'm looking forward to Christmas cooking & baking, especially with Danielle's newest cookbook specifically focusing on successful celebrations at hand.

(5+ stars means this book is BETTER
than great, it totally ROCKS!)
"Against All Grain Celebrations" is laid out in celebratory holiday sections like Halloween, Mother's & Father's Day, Easter, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Birthdays and even Fourth of July Barbecues and Autumn Dinner Parties! You'll also find conversion charts, a recipe index and a special diet index where Danielle has specified which of her recipes conform to certain special diets or food group exclusions like needing to be egg free.

Mrs. Walker also has a section on the most successful ingredients and brands to use. Many times it matters just what almond flour or other ingredient brand you use. It can mean  failure if you have the wrong grind on your flour for instance. Danielle has done ALL the work for you in her cookbooks and website. Danielle Walker draws on her own experience of fighting an autoimmune disease and she knows the pain of not being able to eat what other's eat. Now with this newest cookbook you can have company over and know that the food will please everyone. You will not have to risk your health by cooking "regular" recipes for those who do not need to eat a special diet. No one will suspect that it's grain free because it will taste so delicious, it won't matter that it's made using Paleo & Gluten Free ingredients. Speaking for those of use who need to be Paleo and Gluten Free to save our health and lives, I thank Danielle Walker for all her amazing diligent work.

Lastly, I received this cookbook as a download onto my Kindle and I've personally found that I enjoy the hardcover cookbooks much more and find them easier to use. I didn't get to enjoy the colorful, encouraging and mouthwatering photographs because mine were black & white. Before Christmas, like you, I will be purchasing my own hardcover of this cookbook. I really can't imagine trying to do holiday cooking without Danielle Walker's excellent help. Now with her three cookbooks in print I have a huge plethora of great recipes to choose from.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book Review: "The Comfort Of Black" by Carter Wilson

"The Comfort Of Black" by Carter Wilson has already been published and is available for purchase. This title has won several awards including the following:

WINNER: 2016 Colorado Book Awards (Thriller)
WINNER: 2016 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense)
WINNER: 2016 National Indie Excellence Award(Suspense)      

FINALIST: 2016 RONE Award(Suspense Category)

Hannah has survived a brutal, violent childhood and she still has nightmares about Billy, her abusive father, who is now in jail. Hannah ended up raising her younger sister after Billy was incarcerated for almost killing her and her mother committed suicide. Hanna is a strong woman though, she didn't let her childhood stop her from building a successful life. She got an education, then met and married Dallin who has become very successful with his Internet security firm. But Hannah isn't sure she's happy, she drinks too much and misses her husband who seems to be more and more distant lately. He also seems to be hiding something.

All of Hannah's fears about Dallin coalesce when she hears him talking in his sleep. The things he mumbles that night, that he wants to hurt women, chills his wife. Hannah realizes she has to know what her husband might be hiding and that decision sets off a complicated set of circumstances that has Hannah running for her life. Finding out what is truth and who is lying about her life becomes Hannah's focus. Surviving her new reality will be even more difficult than surviving her abusive childhood.

I really liked this book but I didn't love it. I wanted to love it, I almost loved it but in the end I actually think that because I read excessively and have experienced some minor situations like in this book, I didn't find it as believable as I should have. I think most readers would agree with the award givers, this is an excellent read. Therefore although personally I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5, I'll professionally giving it a 4. 

The characters are expertly written, the situations are heart pounding and the thriller leaves you breathless. The reader feels the main character's pain and confusion as she tries desperately to sort out what is happening to her life. When there seems no where to turn and no one to trust the reader feels caught in the quagmire that the author has so skillfully written. I really do think most readers will think this book is well worth their time. I recommend it and hope you will go out and purchase this well priced thriller.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: "Robert B. Parker's Debt To Pay" by Reed Farrel Coleman

"Robert B. Parker's Debt To Pay" by Reed Farrel Coleman  published on September 13, 2016 so it's available for purchase now. Reed Farrel Coleman has taken over writing Robert B. Parker's character Jesse Stone and now that I've read "Debt To Pay" I agree with The Huffington Post about the novel's success.
“This series can run forever in these new capable hands and readers will eagerly await each new book about Jesse Stone. I know I will.”
The Huffington Post

When Robert B. Parker died he left several strong characters such as Spencer and Jesse Stone, I think the readers are lucky that Reed Farrel Coleman agreed to bring the Jesse Stone character back to life. Several of my favorite authors are deceased, John D. MacDonald and Robert A. Heinlein to name a few, and I heartily miss their incredible characters. I mourn the fact there are to be no more of their engrossing books. It's great to feel like I'm getting on of my favorite author's back.

Not much is happening in Paradise, the small town where Jesse Stone is Chief of Police. Although there has been some annoying petty vandalism lately, Jesse is much more concerned about his ex wife Jenn's upcoming wedding. He received his invitation but because of their convoluted history, he just doesn't want to attend. Jesse is worried seeing Jenn will stir up a hornet's nest of emotions that he's worked hard to tamp down. Besides, he has a new woman in his life and he doesn't think Dianna will want to attend his ex's nuptials.

Jesse doesn't get to carry out his decision to skip the wedding though. An old foe has reared his deadly little head up and threatened everyone Jesse cares about, including his ex wife Jenn. Now Jesse has to try and puzzle out the clues to just what Mr. Peepers is planning. Peepers is a lethal shadowy, brilliant assassin who is nearly a ghost to law enforcement. Only Jesse and Suit have seen the madman's face, that and the fact that Jesse is the only one to ever thwart Mr. P's assassination plans have put all of Jesse's friends in the cross hairs.

I read every one of the Spencer books and several of the Jesse Stone novels by RBP. I also watched the tv versions of these characters. I guess what I'm saying is that I know what to expect from a Parker novel and I thought I'd be hard to convince that anyone could reanimate Parker's characters and make them as good as he wrote them. I had my doubts that I'd like this book by Coleman. I can honestly say I was shocked at how stunningly good this book was. I will certainly be picking up more of this series now that it has been brought back to life by Reed Farrel Coleman. He's one hell of a good writer. This is a 5 out of five read, don't miss this book.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book Review: "The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag

"The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag is out in print now just awaiting your download and it was so good I would highly recommend it.

Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac, homicide detectives in Minneapolis, are working on the "Doc Holiday" serial killer case when another victim shows up on New Years. It is unclear if the horribly disfigured woman was alive when she fell out of the trunk of a dark sedan into traffic. When the detectives arrive on the scene they're not sure if the now dead young woman is Doc Holiday's ninth victim or did someone else hate her enough to kill her. Before they figure out anything else Liska and Kovac need to identify the body. Who is missing their daughter on New Year's day?

Detective Liska is not only a dedicated homicide detective, she's also a mom and she's having trouble with her older son. The problems she's having at home compound as the case she's working becomes more and more complicated. When one of her son's friends turns up missing Liska battles the need to be in two places at once. When a task force to catch Doc Holiday is formed both detectives are pulled in too many directions and details are being missed. Someone killed their ninth victim, there's a missing sixteen year old girl and Doc Holiday continues to evade capture. Which details are related to one another in this book will shock you.

This is my second time reading this book. I read it when it was published but was too ill at that time to review it. Reading it a second time I was really surprised to find that it was so wonderfully complicated and detailed that it was just as enjoyable the second time around. Even though I almost never re-read books, I found this one so good that it was worth the second read. Liska and Kovac are great together. Although some reviewers said they found Liska's home problems annoying, I actually found them very realistic. The subplot with her son really added a lot to the story line, showing that Liska is more than just a detective, the extra details rounded out her character wonderfully. This is so well worth the reader's time. If you've ever read a Tami Hoag you know she never disappoints. If you haven't indulged then try this one, it's a winner.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review: "The 1st Victim" by Tami Hoag

"The 1st Victim" by Tami Hoag is out in e-book awaiting your next need to read. The book is a short novel (61 pages) that introduces  the "Doc Holiday" serial Killer case that is continued in the fill length "The Ninth Girl" mystery.

Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are the detectives who catch the case of the first Jane Doe of the New Year. The victim has been beaten, raped and tortured before her dead body is thrown onto a lonely stretch of seldom used highway. The detectives suffer late nights agonizing over the fact that they cannot seem to identify the body of a well cared for young woman. Who is missing their daughter? The medical examiner estimates her age to be between eighteen and twenty two so why is there no missing girl inquiry looking for someone of her description?

This short mystery is a precursor to Hoag's "The Ninth Girl". Some of the previous reviewers bought this kindle offering for the low price of $1.99 mistakenly thinking it was a full length book. I can understand their ire at being left hanging with no satisfying ending for this book. That ending will come after reading "The Ninth Girl" which I will be reviewing several days from now. This spicy tidbit really whets your appetite for the full book to come, it sets up the story well and gives you the background to Doc Holiday's story.

I like the two detectives in this story, Sam and Nikki specifically because although they do an unusual job, hunting murders, they also come off as normal people with lives outside the horror they see on the job day after day. Det. Nikki Liska is divorced from a lazy pompous man who doesn't seem to like visiting their two children. She worries about raising her sons right and keeping them from harm. Sam Kovac is a well worn old time cop, he's unmarried and finds himself wishing he could do more for the victims he stands for. I can't wait to read "The Ninth Girl". My appetite has been piqued and I'm hungry for more.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: "Hit The Road, Jake!' by Cricket Rohman

"Hit The Road, Jake!" by Cricket Rohman will be published tomorrow, September 5, 2016. I read the first book in this series, "Wanted: An Honest Man" to prepare me for the this, the third book in her Lindsay & Jake series.

I'm chagrinned at how terrible this book was. It's actually one of the worst I've read in a long time, and I hate having to say that, it makes me feel bad for the author. When I did a review for Ms. Rohman's first book in this series I said I hoped her writing would improve and become less juvenile. I can happily say it did improve but the story was just ridiculous. I actually loved the premise of Lindsay and Jake driving across the country in a hugely expensive RV and helping school districts with their problems that didn't rate police involvement but did need solving. Cool idea, terribly executed. The mysteries were woefully simplistic and the behavior of the main characters was just hopeless. Here's an example.

I owned a parrot at one time. I therefore know they're very expensive and physically sensitive to their environment. They are also coveted by many people and I'd never leave my bird in it's cage in an open space where anyone could either hurt her for the thrill or steal her. Lindsay leaves her parrot in an open car in a campground when she and Jake use the restroom and even take the guard dog ( a 150lb mastiff) with them!! The car, as I said was left open with windows rolled all the way down so the bird didn't cook in the heat. Why the hell would you take your precious bird with you on a hike in the woods instead of leaving it in a protected and air conditioned RV?? Seriously?

It feels like this book was written for twelve year olds, except for the sex scenes which were lackluster and boring. This was not a book for me and I will not be reading any more of Rohman's other books.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: "Girl Underwater" by Claire Kells

"Girl Underwater" by Claire Kells has already been published so you can go scoop it up right now and start reading this terrific thriller right away. Astonishingly, this is Claire Kells' first book! This is a story about survival in the thick of a crisis and afterwards when one has to deal with the fallout from enduring something horrific.

Avery Delacorte is a sophomore at a California University, she is an Olympic hopeful swimming in a nationally ranked team. She is happy, she may not be swimming the events she wants but she feels good about her life. She has a boyfriend, she is popular and she's finally broken away from her suffocatingly successful family. Avery is the youngest child, the only girl. Her three older brothers are hugely successful, one is a million dollar baseball player, another one is in Hollywood. Finally she's making her own way in California, so many miles away from Brookline, the wealthy part of Boston, Mass.

Her teammate Colin Shea thinks she should fight for what she wants, to swim the 1500m. But what does he know, Avery thinks. He's the next Michael Phelps, he can choose whatever he wants when it comes to his swimming career. Avery just wants to fit in. She actively avoids Colin on campus because of this conflict. Avery is forced to spend 6 hours with him though when he sits beside her as they fly home over Thanksgiving break. She will become grateful for his switching seats to sit beside her when the plane crashes in the bitterly cold Rocky mountains. He tells her they will survive as the plane crashes into a cold lake. Avery believes him, she holds onto Colin's words as her primary comfort.

Only five souls survive the plane crash. Colin, Avery and three little boys. Now they have to survive the freezing weather where everything they can scavenge from the sinking plane is wet, they have little food and no shelter. How does one overcome these extreme conditions? And if you do survive, how do you deal with the aftermath, the physical and emotional pain that follows victims of tragedy.

This is a five star book. I will certainly be seeking out Claire Kells' future books because this one was so stellar. I found myself grabbed from the first page. Kells has written her characters so expertly that I felt connected to Avery and Colin immediately. I could see myself feeling just like Avery as she struggles to help them all survive. The novel moves back and forth through time so the reader feels immersed in her survival before she's rescued and after as she deals with the psychological trauma of the event. I couldn't put this book down, since this story alternates from past to present I know Avery survived but I felt an immeasurably strong need to get to the end of her story. Kells is a terrific writer, she created great tension between Avery and all the people around her. It seemed as though no one could understand her pain. It made the book a visceral experience. Hopefully Claire Kells will write another book soon because I couldn't recommend this one more strongly. It's a beautiful story of survival.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MacKenzie-Childs Love (#WorldWatercolorMonth)

I'm in love. Nope, not with a person, with a brand. I've been jonesing for anything MacKenzie-Childs lately. I especially love their Courtly Check pattern. Who doesn't love black and white together? Then they add bits and hints of turquoise, teal and a lovely bright green and quin gold to pump up the volume. Their enameled mugs are awesome, all 16 ounces of them! They're endlessly expensive but so darn adorable that I'd have something made by them in every room if I could.

I could see Christmas done in the Courtly Check pattern, with little tiered plates, gorgeous fluted bowls and checkered mugs filled with hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on top. Oh, don't forget the candy cane stirrer. I looked it up, they even have Christmas tree decorations. Of course they do. MacKenzie-Childs found a niche and ran with it. They're the company that put all different painted patterns on things like tuffets (you know, the thing that Little Miss Muffet sat on?) and tables and chairs. Well, now they put hand painted patterns on EVERYTHING. I know they're hugely popular and I'm so in love I'm willing to spend $7000 for a sofa. That is if I had $7000 to throw away. And that would only be predicated on me winning millions of dollars.

Since it would take a tiny miracle for me to own large amounts of MacKenzie-Childs pieces, I thought I'd memorialize my obsession love of this gores pattern. I did a double page layout, double the love. Ode To Courtly Check.
MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check Kettle
MacKenzie-Childs Mug, Salt & Pepper Shakers
If you want to participate in the second half of the #WorldWatercolorMonth go to the Facebook page and join. I'll be back with more art soon. Later Gator.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Feathering My Nest (#WorldWatercolorMonth)

I haven't posted for a few days and I've filled my time painting feathers. Maybe tomorrow I'll do a whole bird. ;o)

First I thought I'd try some peacock feathers. Although the drawing gave me great hope for the success of this painting, I don't really think it turned out much like I wanted it to. It became nearly impossible to add shadows with all the stuff going on "on top". I'll have to figure out how to add details to the eyes of the peacock feathers. Not sure how to subtly connote the fact they're made of thin feathers that are hooked together.

Peacock Feathers
The next feather I thought I'd do was a plain white one then play with the shadows and the background color. I really like how this one turned out. Although I don't have phthalo turquoise, I decided to try to mix it. It's on my wish list for Christmas, but then paint is always on my wish list, lol. Ya, I hear you. Line forms to the left Jenn, we ALL want more and more and more paint!!

White Feather on Turquoise
Finally I found a Macaw feather online and painted it up. I think this one turned out the best. These have been fun, it's surprising how difficult the details are to get right though.
Macaw Feather
I'll see you tomorrow with something else, not sure it'll have feathers though, lol. If you'd like to start participating in #WorldWatercolorMonth just go to the Facebook group to join.

Supplies used to create the above art: Daniel Smith or Schmencke watercolors in cobalt turquoise, phthalo blue, Payne's grey, neutral tint, phthalo yellow-green, sap green, pure yellow, manganese blue, french ultramarine PB60, burnt umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, buff titanium, Arches 140lb hot pressed paper, Da Vinci Meastro 1503 travel brushes size1, 2, 3, pencil F, kneaded eraser. Sakura Pigma Micron pen 005.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book Review: "All Is Not Forgotten" by Wendy Walker

"All Is Not Forgotten" by Wendy Walker will be published July 12, 2016. I waffled about my enjoyment of this book throughout the reading of it. In the end it is a four star read. It does finally get to that satisfying ending but you have to believe you're going to get there. This story is told masterfully and uses a unique point of view of the psychiatrist, his name is Dr. Alan Forrester. Let me give you the synopsis and then we'll discuss the good and the bad. Maybe I  can convince you to give up a few days to read this because in the end it is worth the time spent.

Jenny Kramer, a normal, bubbly, beautiful and smart sixteen year old lives in the idyllic affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut with her mother and father. They're life seems picture perfect. One evening while Jenny is at a party she is brutally raped in the woods behind the house. In the hours after the rape her parents agree for Jenny to receive a controversial drug cocktail that will essentially erase Jenny's memory of the horrific event. This seems like the merciful thing to do to prevent the trauma that would plague Jenny. Unknown to her parents and doctors administering the drug is that just forgetting the event isn't enough to rid the patient of the haunting emotions connected to it.

After the rape and the drug cocktail Jenny's family does not return to normal. Her father obsesses about finding the perpetrator and her mother lies to herself that everything is peachy. This leaves no room for Jenny who lives with the anxiety of knowing something happened but not being able to connect with the event. Told through the eyes of Jenny's psychiatrist, we get a thorough analysis of how a family fractures through trauma and how to find a new normal. Dr. Forrester knows he must help Jenny get her memories back and through this process of helping a victim overcome and a family survive we also follow the mystery of who raped Jenny.

Let me add here that there are actual drug trials in the real world looking for this memory wiping capability. Scientists have already found ways to alter and manipulate memories using drugs and it is on the near horizon where there will be the ability to erase trauma. Whether this is a good idea or not will be a very controversial subject.

In this surprisingly complicated mystery we learn how memories are formed in the brain. Memories are not just one "blob" stored together in one place so when you access them, you watch a movie of an event. Traumatic or powerful memories in particular are split into many pieces separate from the actual event memory. There are emotional, smell, touch, taste, sound memories. We can access the event memory by using any of the pathways connected from the senses. For instance, the smell of lilies can trigger the memory of one's wedding because the bride's bouquet was lilies. If the connections between the senses and the event are disconnected, the event memory can be lost and misfiled, making it difficult or nearly impossible to access. This was what the drug did with Jenny's memory. The connection to the event was severed in her mind.

Through Dr. Forrester's telling, we see the excruciating psychological pain Jenny is experiencing because she has no connection to explain all the emotional trauma she feels. Jenny has free floating anxiety and no explanation of why she feels so horrible all the time. Reading about how Dr. Forrester helps the Kramer family is what made me keep reading this mystery. The only negative in the book that made me waffle in my enjoyment was that Dr. Forrester, being a psychiatrist, can have a monotone "voice" as he keeps his emotions out of the telling as any good psychiatrist should do. Sometimes this approach got tedious. In the end I finally got that moment every mystery reader looks for. It took most of the book to get there but the journey was worth it.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finished: Spoon & Tomato (#WorldWatercolorMonth)

This was a really fun one to challenge myself with. I love the mix of the monochromatic spoon and the colorful baby tomato. I have a love of painting fruits and veggies and I also love figuring out the shadows in a black and white photo so this was a fantastic mix for me.

I just can't figure out what to do next though. i hate when I'm so indecisive, lol. I think I see Eenie-Meenie-Minee-Moe in my immediate future, I'm just saying'.

Here's yesterday's before, obviously before the tomato was added...
Spoon & Tomato Without The Tomato
Spoon & Tomato


Spoon & Tomato Sans Tomato... (#WorldWatercolorMonth)

Just a quick post showing today's progress for #WorldWatercolorMonth. Thought I'd do a complicated drawing/painting this time. Tomorrow I'll paint in the tomato. I love doing value drawings and I think this will be so unique with the painted tomato on the spoon. Now all I have to do is wait until tomorrow morning to finish. I can't wait, I have so little patience, lol.

I saw this beautiful photograph on a Flickr account of a fellow artist, Lori at Elvie Studio. I sure hope she doesn't mind me painting it up.
Go to the Facebook group page for #WWM to participate.


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