Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: "Hail Storme" by W.L. Ripley

I've just finished reading W.L. Ripley's "Hail Storme", the first book in his Wyatt Storme series. What a great ride it was. I'm happy to say there are several more Wyatt Storme mysteries for me to sink my teeth into so I'll have many happy nights reading meaty books.

We meet the main character Wyatt Storme in the forests of Missouri where he's bow hunting. We're told he's a former professional football player and Vietnam vet. Storme just wants a calm week hunting and enjoying down time at his cabin. The problems start when he comes across a large marijuana field guarded by a vicious doberman and a man with a gun. Storme is forced to kill the dog and wound the gunman. When Storme reports the incident and the marijuana filet to the local sheriff he unknowingly begins a domino effect that will end in a bloody battle for his life.

"Hail Storme" was an incredibly complicated and totally enjoyable read. I was completely immersed and invested in Storme's character and had trouble putting it down at night to allow myself some sleep. It took me several nights to finish Ripley's novel because it was so wonderfully deep yet easy to read. I found myself really getting to know Wyatt Storme. The writer fleshes his character out so expertly that Storme felt real to me. I'm not surprised that many have compared Ripley's Wyatt Storme  to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, it's an apt comparison  This is a five star winner and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Filling The Gap

Hiya. There hasn't been much from me this last week but I'm hoping that I can change that really soon. I'm having trouble with carpel tunnel in my dominant hand so painting (and typing for that matter) is darn hard. If I want this to heal I have to let it alone and just not use the hand for a few more days. I didn't know until a few years ago that I had weak wrists that were prone to carpel tunnel. Up until this time the problem has always been in my right wrist (non-dominant). 

Anyway, all I have is from early last week, just adding a little playfulness to my sketchbook. I gave a good friend tea snails for a silly Christmas present. She's notoriously hard to get kitsch for when it comes to tea because I think she may own EVERY cute infuser in the world. Hehehe. These little silicone snails sit on the edge of your mug and you wrap the teabag string around it's shell. I thought they were just so unique and cute that I had to get them for her. I figured if she usually used loose tea, she could put them along a pen cup so they could sit and watch her and cheer on the art she makes. Hope you're having a pleasant week all!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: "The Bitter Season" By Tami Hoag

"The Bitter Season" By Tami Hoag comes out January 12, 2016. This is a complex, mesmerizing psychological thriller that continues Hoag's Kovac/Liska series. 

I am not going to do what I usually do when I review a book. I'm not going to outline what this one is about. The plot is just too complicated (in a good way) and if I try, I might inadvertently give away a detail that will lesson your enjoyment of this spectacular read. I'll spell out the very basics. Detective Nikki Liska has a twenty-five year old murder case she's working on and her former partner Sam Kovac is saddled with a brutal double homicide of a professor and his wife. The reader goes back and forth between these cases until the detectives realize the two cases seem to be connected. How that's possible makes for a hugely satisfying mystery. This was one of the most intense books I've read this year.

I read mostly mysteries and I'm used to having a good idea about who done it by the end of a book. Even if the writer is good enough to fool me until the end, I almost always have the plot twists and scenarios worked out, if not the actual murderer. This time though I had no idea at all who done it or why or even what was connecting the old and new murders. It was GREAT to be so in the dark! I spent hours (when not reading the book) trying desperately to figure out how, why, who and what. I loved the challenge and instead of that challenge being frustrating, it was exhilarating. I recommend this book wholeheartedly and would give it more than five stars if the rating system would let me. Don't miss this one, you'd be missing a gem of a mystery.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Extending Christmas

Yes, I know Christmas ended weeks ago. Sue me, lol. I didn't get to paint up a poinsettia until now and I've wanted to paint one forever. Seriously. It's been on my paint bucket list for at least four years but I never got to it. Honestly, I think I didn't really think I could do it justice until now. Tracey's Delicious Paint course really changed my confidence level and gave me skills I didn't know I could learn. I'm so waiting for another course and I hear she's not only running Delicious Paint again this spring but will also be putting out another new course. Yep, I'll be first in line for that one.

Anyway, I finally found the courage to put paint to paper and discovered that I could indeed paint a poinsettia. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I'm trying hard to be looser with my lines and my paintbrush. Now all I have to do is figure out what to paint next. I'll take suggestions, lol.

Later gator.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Do You Love Brussels Sprouts?

I started drawing up this recipe more than a month ago. Christmas planning and execution definitely got in the way. We made this recipe for awesome brussels sprouts (testing it for Christmas) and were blown away by just how great and easy they are. They're sweet and spicy and just so you know, the amount of sriracha sauce is minimal, I don't like spicy stuff much. But, of course, you can up the ante and ratchet up the heat by increasing the sriracha to whatever you like. I thought I'd actually type up the recipe below just in case you can't read my artwork, lol. (below, click on either side of the recipe to see larger)

Left Page RecipeRight Page Recipe

Honey Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1½-2 pounds brussels sprouts
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (or rice-wine vinegar)
¼ cup honey
1 1/2 tsps Sriracha sauce
2 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim the brussels sprouts & cut in half.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, honey, garlic and Sriracha to combine. Add the brussels sprouts and toss until they are fully coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spread the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, cut sides down. Pour any extra olive-oil mixture onto the pan and tilt the pan around to distribute it.
4. Roast until the sprouts are crispy on the outside and golden and caramelized on the cut sides, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

We'll talk soon, it's art all the time here at the McLean house. God I need a tea, I'm off caffeine and it's killing me. ;o)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Review: "Three Truths & A Lie" By Lisa Gardner

"Three Truths & A Lie" By Lisa Gardner comes out January 5, 2016. This is a great little short story that introduces you to Lisa Gardner's writing style and her popular Detective D.D. Warren character. There are ten mysteries in this series so any reader who likes Gardner's writing has a plethora of meaty books to read.

It looks like this short story will be only $1.99 on Kindle when it comes out so I think it's a great way to meet the series' main character. This novella also includes a preview of Gardner's next mystery to come out, "Find Her", which I will be reviewing in February 2016 just before it's publishing date. I'm pretty excited to get reading that one.

Boston Detective D.D. Warren is intimidated by very few things but this latest assignment has her tied up in psychological knots. How did she get roped in to giving a fifty minute speech to a large group of thriller writers who thrive on bloodlust? D.D. has no idea what she's going to say about police procedure or how she might educate a bunch of writers on true police work. At the last minute she realizes all she has to do is use one of her actual cases. Who wouldn't be interested in a twisted case involving murder, drugs, cheap hotel rooms, prostitution and a severed leg? 

Lisa Gardner always hits them out of the park, so to speak. I've never read a mystery from her that I didn't like. Although this novella is short, it still holds the reader's interest through to the last sentence. I laughed out loud several times at some of the tongue in cheek dialogue that makes Gardner's characters great. I also loved how she wove a few actual writer's names into the story, it made the context of the story feel really real. I could imagine D.D. Warren standing in a lecture hall talking to a bunch of cheeky authors as she tried to keep them interested. This was a solid four out of five star read, I just wish it was longer! Luckily I have a full novel from Gardner to read soon. 


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