Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: "Double Knot" by Gretchen Archer

"Double Knot" by Gretchen Archer comes out April 12, 2016 and is the fifth book in the Davis Way Crime Caper series. I did not read the previous books before reading this one and I'm happy to say it stands on it's own without you needing to have read the last four books. Now, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read the series from the first book (Double Whammy). I also see that the first book is on for a great price, around three dollars as a Kindle book so you certainly can try this series out and fall in love with it for only a tiny bit of cash.

Davis Way works as a spy on an elite security team for Bellissimo, a Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Belissimo has invested billions of dollars to build the world's largest private yacht that will take billionaires on a floating casino cruise to the Cayman Islands. Davis sets sail on the MS Probability, it will be her last assignment before she goes on maternity leave. You'd think it would be a relaxing time but with her mother along and then getting locked in their stateroom, it is anything but calm waters. There shouldn't be any worries though, the stateroom is state of the art and so luxurious it couldn't be a hardship to be locked in for a while, right? Someone will miss them soon. Or are they being kidnapped? Davis has her job cut out for her on this cruise!

This was a very cute cozy mystery. I'd give it a four out of five star rating. My only complaint, and it's a personal one, is how annoying Davis' mother was. If you find know-it-all mothers who can't keep their opinions to themselves as annoying as I do you might grit your teeth a few times while you fantasize about smacking Davis' mother in the mouth. Other than that it's a fun and fast read. Ms. Archer is a good writer and she adds some really funny scenes into each chapter that helps keep the situation light. This would be a great beach read. Bring it on your own cruise, it'll keep you busy as you enjoy your Mai Tai.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Carrots For The Easter Bunny

It's total coincidence that I chose carrots to do this close to Easter. But since the carrots are so colorful I'm sure the Easter Bunny will love them. I'm totally using them as payment for chocolate. Seems to me it's a fair trade.

When I found this photo on the internet I was shocked to find out that carrots come in such riotous colors. I mean, I know you can now get green, orange or purple cauliflower but holy COW, who knew there were bright pink, weird yellow, purple and off white carrots. I even saw a photo where there were also light turquoise carrots. Unbelievable.

Anyway, I'm so thrilled that I finally seem to be finding some kind of personal style after years of not being able to find myself in my own art. The shadows were totally fun to do in this one because they're bold, love that. The whites I added using my Signo white pen show up much brighter because of the scanner than what actually shows on the paper. So here's to a wonderful Easter for all of you, I wish you all the chocolate bunnies you can capture!
Colorful Carrots
We'll talk later, K? You'll have to forgive me though, I'll probably be on a post Easter sugar high. Oh, which part of your chocolate bunny do you eat first? I don't get a choice. It's been a tradition that my mom ALWAYS eats the ears off my bunny (I'm now 45 and still I have never eaten chocolate bunny ears). This means I always start with the tail. ;o)


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review: "Passenger 19" by Ward Larsen

"Passenger 19" by Ward Larsen was a pretty darn good yarn. I'm not usually a "plane down, go rescue" kind of girl, I tend to choose the more traditional mysteries. But this was a very tightly written mystery that had me wondering how the hero was going to win the day.

Jammer Davis has been a pilot and a crash investigator for most of his adult life. He works for the NTSB and when a plane goes missing over the Columbian jungle, Jammer is called upon to be the one to investigate what caused it to go missing. There is a very good reason he was chosen, when Jammer's friend and boss looks at the flight manifest he recognizes a name on the passenger list. Jammer's daughter was on the fateful flight and there's no way Jammer isn't going to Columbia to find her. 

Now Jammer's job is to find out just what has happened on that fateful flight so he can locate his daughter, dead or alive. This distraught father has to separate his desperate fear for his daughter's life with his need to investigate thoroughly if he wants to solve the mystery of what happened to TAC-Air flight 223. His daughter's life may depend on Jammer's expertise as an investigator.

This was a solid four out of five stars. The author writes a beautifully integrated story and pairs Jammer's emotional state expertly with believable behavior. I loved how Larson imagined the Jammer character. Not a single note rang untrue. We had an expert in his field who had an uncanny knack for finding the truth in an investigation woven beautifully with an emotional dad who just wanted to find his daughter alive. Jammer was a tortured soul and as a reader I ached for the pain he went through as he investigated. I understand there are two other "Jammer Davis" mysteries that precede this one. I recommend reading all three but I'm happy to say this book stands strongly on it's own and you don't need to have the back-tstory to enjoy the book. Solidly recommended.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Just A Little Veggie To Get Me Going

I have a superpower, although it's not really a superpower one wants. I can procrastinate like nobody's business. If procrastination was an Olympic sport I'd have several gold medals. In fact, I'd look like Mr. T with all the gold around my neck.

I've been using my superpower for over a week. Somehow by wanting to choose more complicated art to try I've hit the panic button when it comes to actually starting any single piece. I have several photographs all picked out but when it comes to actually putting pencil to paper I flinch and find something else to do. It's easy, I have a bunch of books I've said I'd review, the kitchen needs cleaning, I want to thin the herd in my closet, it's close to (pick a mealtime), I'm too cold, I'm thirsty and need coffee... etcetera, ad nauseam.

I decided today (after I spent two and a half hours looking up new and interesting books I might want to read someday) that I would just pick a damn veggie and PAINT IT!! So, here ya go. A Radish. Yep, just a simple radish. Hey, it's better than no freakin' radish at all! Hehehe.

We'll talk later (if I'm not procrastinating again). 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: "The Passenger" by Lisa Lutz

"The Passenger" by Lisa Lutz has ended up being a totally different book than I expected. I thought it would be just one of those head long rushes of adrenaline as I franticly try to find the conclusion of the book. Instead I found that it was also an incredible look into just how difficult it would be to be a fugitive. I really had not given that conundrum much thought as I hadn't ever read a full book of "running". And yes, the main character runs from her past throughout this incredible mystery.

To me, this book is both a thriller and a psychological look at how you change when you run from your past. I loved it. I have a degree in Psychology but never thought of how one would change if put in our main character's position.

Tanya Dubois is already running from her past when we meet her. She confesses that she didn't, in fact, kill her husband but since his fall down the stairs looks suspicious, she feels compelled to run. What if the police look too closely at her "Tanya Dubois" identity? Thus starts Tanya's run from everything comfortable and safe. She gets a new identity from a shadowy character in her past, changes her hair color and length, trades in her husband's truck and runs. When she stops off in a bar after several hours of driving she meets Blue, an interesting yet hardened woman who pours Tanya a drink. Tanya inadvertently ties her future to Blue and thus begins the intrigue. Will Blue be the heroine in Tanya's life of the death of her?

This book was so unexpectedly awesome. There wasn't one single place where I thought, "I so totally wouldn't do that!". In fact, sometimes I couldn't believe that I couldn't see any way out of her situation except the terrible choice she made. These character decisions that authors make are usually where a book falls short for me. I don't like thinking how inept or stupid a character is. With Lisa Lutz' character Tanya, I was so pleasantly surprised that I never once felt ripped off and this was the kind of book that would be easy for an author to cheat or choose wrongly for her characters. I thought Ms. Lutz writing was excellent, I really came to respect and like her "Tanya" character. It was incredibly intriguing to see the subtle changes Tanya's choices made in her psychologically. This is definitely another five star book. It was a quick read and well worth the time.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Book Review: "The Girl In The Ice" By Robert Bryndza

"The Girl In The Ice" By Robert Bryndza was an amazing mystery and it is now available for purchase. Even better, right now (March 15, 2016) the Kindle edition is only 99¢ at both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Now THAT'S a good deal!

Detective Erika Foster is our heroine in this spectacularly written thriller. The book is set in London where Erika is hired to head the investigation into the murder of a young and beautiful socialite named Andrea Douglas-Brown. Small bits of information are given to imply that Erika has been off the job for the past seven months due to the death of her husband. It is also made clear that this investigation is not going to go smoothly due to police infighting and the influence from the wealthy family of the victim. 

DCI Foster delves head long into finding out who killed Andrea but it soon becomes clear that no one wants to know that Andrea wasn't a perfect social butterfly, she had secrets that may have gotten her killed. Erika is even sidelined from asking the victim's family the difficult questions that will help capture the murderer. Whether the top brass or the victim's family want to help or not, DCI Erica Foster is determined to find justice for Andrea and that drives her into very dangerous territory.

For many years I don't think I've read a mystery that I couldn't solve before the last couple pages. I always at least have a solid idea who probably did it. With "The Girl In The Ice" I truly had no clue who killed Andrea until the author spelled it out for me. What a thrill it is to read a book that kept me spellbound until the very end! It was so wonderfully torturous that I even started wondering if the author was going to break all the rules and slide in a character as the killer that hadn't been mentioned before. Had the author not given enough clues for the reader to figure it out?? YES, he had! The mystery was just so well written, with the killer hiding in plain sight, that I totally didn't winnow out the truth. I was floored in the end when the killer was revealed. It was awesome!

If you love mysteries like I do then you HAVE to read this author. It was such a wonderful surprise to NOT know "who done it". Please take advantage of the excellent Kindle price and grab this book, I guarantee you won't regret it.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

How To Be A Better Artist

Some of you may remember last year that I took a course hosted by my good friend Tracey Fletcher King. It changed my art in so many ways I have trouble even verbalizing the improvements. I actually feel like a more accomplished artist with solid skills under my belt and I know I'm a better artist for Tracey's "Delicious Paint" course.

I'm telling you all this because although the original course at Community Thrive shut down because the hosting website closed, Tracey has revamped "Delicious Paint" and put it on her own platform so it can run again! It has a new video and a bunch more written content and PDF's to help you get the most from your experience in the course.
My Bok Choy, Delicious Paint 2015My Tomatoes, Delicious Paint 2015
Tracey will be around to answer any questions her students have and although we in North America have to be reminded that she's in a different time zone (Australia) so it may take time for her to answer, she is available to encourage all who want help. She's an amazing teacher, the best in fact, I've ever come across in imparting information about watercolors in an easy to digest way. Her teaching style is so easily accessible even for beginners. The course really is for both beginners and more advanced students. She has tons of degrees in art and many years as a teacher. Her style is so natural that you forget you're learning.

When you sign up for Delicious Paint you get access to the course forever so you can go back again and again to keep up your watercolor skills and you can learn at your own pace. I've signed up for it again and if you took it previously in 2015, just contact Tracey and she'll send you a discount to get into the course again if you'd like. I hope you join us, the course just opened and everyone is excited and participating already, sharing on the private Facebook page set up just for the course.
My Radishes, I LOVE them!
The tomatoes, bok choy and asparagus above were done in the course and the radishes were done after. Comparing the radishes to the other three shows my progress from tighter perfection where I never let me as an artist show, to a more loose style, starting to show me in my own art. I saw that my actual painting skills improved almost immediately but it took a couple of weeks to let other nuances from the course sink in. I was so thrilled to see the changes to a loosening style all because of Tracey's help. The course rocks and it's so worth the price!

I'll be back with more art soon, I gotta go pick out some fruit and veggies to paint in Delicious Paint!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: "The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum" By Kirsten Weiss

"The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum" By Kirsten Weiss comes out March 8, 2016. I had never read the author but the premise sounded fun and I felt like adding a cozy mystery to my reading list. 

The general outline of the story goes like this... Maddie Kosloski was fired from her high powered international job because she has ethics. She refused to pay a bribe to facilitate an ongoing project. Now, she finds herself back in her small hometown running the local Paranormal museum. Maddie tells herself she's just doing this to help a friend but when that same friend is accused of murdering the woman found dead in the museum, Maddie finds herself with a second job, trying to find the real killer. As the bodies start to pile up, Maddie has to figure out what she really wants before the killer targets her as the next victim.

What I found as I read through this cozy mystery was an unusual growing like of the book. I started out disappointed when a character did something colossally stupid in the first five minutes of the mystery. Unfortunately, that set the mood for the first half of the book. But a weird thing happened as I hit about sixty percent read. I found that I actually did NOT know who was the killer and even stranger, after only experiencing an average amount of joy reading until then, that I really, really wanted to know who did all the killing. I found myself actually enjoying the second half of the book much more than I expected. I'll say, that almost never happens when I start out not enjoying a book.

If cozy mysteries are your thing then you actually might like this one. The writing is tight and the details are so well winnowed out that I really couldn't figure out "who done it" until the end. I have to say the first half of the book was only a three star but by the end I'd give it a four. I think, if I came across this author again I'd try her a second time, I like where she's taking the main character. The book is an easy read, probably perfect for a lazy day cuddled next to the fire to keep warm with a cuppa by your side. Oh, and don't forget the chocolate covered cookies!


Sunday, March 6, 2016

It'a All About The Shadows

(Click to Enlarge)
So I finally got those pesky paint tubes all painted up. I don't think I've ever done such an intense and filled piece before but I really love how it turned out. It's surprising, as you'll see, how many subtle shadows were removed just by scanning the page. I noticed that and then also took some photos. Only lately have I started exclusively scanning my art. I noticed how inaccurate photographing a page was once I started scanning. This problem of losing the subtle shades has only happened once before but I can still see how horribly I have to correct the coloration of any photo I take, so scanning it is.

Speaking of shadows, I was shocked to see the difference between the scan of the finished paint tubes without their cast shadows compared to the finished piece with the cast shadows. I'm not great at cast shadows, I work every time to improve them but still they elude me. I therefore decided to scan my piece of art before I screwed up tackled the cast shadows for each tube. I was amazed, flabbergasted and, well, I must say, kinda thrilled to see what a difference they made. Yes, they're simple cast shadows. There's no complimentary colors in them from each tube or any other color play to make them more real. I decided the page was just too full to play around with anything more complicated than a one color shadow. I chose my new Daniel Smith Moonglow, I love this new color, so unique and cool and perfect for this job.

Now, here's the subtle yet very cool difference between the piece with and without their cast shadows... see what you think. I think they actually (the cast shadows, that is) make the page look more real or accessible.
(With Cast Shadows Under Tubes)
(Without Cast Shadows Under Tubes)
I hope everyone is enjoying their March and I'm sure you're all looking forward to Easter and chocolate bunnies. What's your favorite Easter treat?? Leave me a comment, I really want to know. (Ok, I want to live vicariously through you and drool a little thinking of all that sugary goodness.)


Thursday, March 3, 2016

I Paint Therefore I Am

Get one at Zazzle.com
So darn true, dat. I haven't been painting much at all in the last couple months and I found myself becoming unlike me the more time I let slip away. Therefore it is so true for me,
"I Paint Therefore I Am"
I can't get over how much just putting brush to paper makes in my mood. It's transformative. So, I guess I'm gonna try to remember exactly why I named my blog what I did... I wanted to remember that all I had to do to be successful in my own heart is Just Add Water Silly. For me, being an artist has always meant just putting in the work, finding the hours in the day, enjoying the process. I don't think I have to sell or be known to be an artist, I just have to embrace that watercolor paint runs through my veins and the best way I can feed my soul is to JUST PAINT.

So, it seems appropriate that I'm finally getting around to painting up all my paint tubes. I drew this up months and months ago. In fact, I think there's half a dozen pantings in my Moleskine after this unfinished page. Yes, I also procrastinate, lol. I'm really loving doing these, some would think, holy repetitive Batman but actually, seeing the shadows that are unique to each tube is so much fun and learning strength of my grays and Payne's is also very therapeutic.

I've always thought my worst thing was shadows so learning how to capture them successfully makes me feel all proud inside. I love all the nooks and crannies in each squeezed tube, they're festinating to study. That's not to say the drop shadows I add to each tube at the end won't do my head in but we'll trip over that bridge when we get there.

I only have the Daniel Smith tubes to go and it's kinda fun to randomly assign a color to a blank tube. I get my fun where I can find it. Talk later, K? Good!



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