Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Pomegranate & World Watercolor Month

I'm gearing up to join World Watercolor Month over on DoodleWash. I always do well when there's a challenge to get me to do art everyday. Somehow when there isn't a challenge I'm pretty much hit or miss when it comes to art on a regular basis. I hate that I procrastinate. I wish I could be more like my friend Tracey Fletcher King (who is re-running her amazing course Delicious Paint now). She procrasti-paints, defined as putting off all the other things she should be doing so she can paint. I do all the other things instead of painting. *sigh* 

Yes, the question I can hear you all screaming, "WHY skip the painting in favor of laundry, cleaning the bathroom, watching the grass grow etc?" I've got no idea, I just do it. Often. WAAAAYYYYY too often. This is why I LOVE finding monthly art everyday kinds of challenges.

So, we're supposed to use either watercolor or gouache (opaque watercolor) and do a piece of art everyday of July, 31 days. Then go to Facebook and join in the celebration. July is actually now officially World Watercolor Month. Here's a quote from the website:

"It’s a month to inspire people to paint with watercolor while raising awareness for the importance of art and creativity in the world. And anyone can join the celebration from master watercolorists to artists just starting out with watercolor! Simply tag any art that uses watercolors (or gouache) with #WorldWatercolorMonth during the month of July!"
If you want to buy some swag to celebrate World Watercolor Month all the proceeds go to The Dreaming Zebra Foundation. The charity provides support so that children and young adults are given an equal opportunity to explore and develop their creativity in the arts. Click Here to buy a souvenir of the event.

So, this is me gearing up to start doing art everyday. I will post a few times a week but I am seriously gonna get control of that procrastination monster so I can participate. Here's my pomegranate to start off on Day Zero, lol.
To get back to the loose way of painting taught by the intrepid Tracey Fletcher King (In Delicious Paint) I took a short swim around her videos the other day. It so helps keep my skills flowing instead of how tight they get when I don't paint often enough. I love how this turned out as opposed to the much more tight Basil plant I did a week or so ago. Yay, I'm back!

See ya all in the WWC, I can't WAIT to see everybody's art. Oh and one warning to those of you who follow me, I'll be doing some bug paintings soon, a housefly, a bumblebee a ladybug, a dragonfly, etc. So if you don't like bugs, look away when they pop up, lol.  *Yes, this means you Mic, I love you so I thought I'd warn you. ;o) *


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: "Ghosts Of War" By Brad Taylor

"Ghosts Of War" By Brad Taylor will be published on June 28, 2016. I've read three previous books in this series featuring The Taskforce and the Pike Logan character and including this one, I've loved them all (Insider Threat, The Forgotten Soldier & No Fortunate Son). I especially love that I not only enjoy the intrigue and story but I LEARN stuff. I am so ridiculously ignorant of world events, political maneuverings and military stuff. (See I didn't even know what kind of stuff would be military so I could be specific.) I'm an artist and have always been terrible at both history and geography. I can hardly find myself on a map let alone another country. However, just by reading these spectacular mysteries (no boring storyline here) I get to, just by osmosis, learn how the world underneath all the "pretty" works.

These books are written by an actual  badass with real world experience in the military. Brad Taylor is a former Lieutenant Colonel who is a twenty-one year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces. He also put in eight years with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment popularly known as Delta Force. I have found that as I read his books I look at what's happening on the world stage differently. In the last few books I've learned about international political infighting, ISIS and suicide bombers. In this book Taylor takes on Putin, Russian corruption and the fabled Nazi gold train from WWII.

Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill own Grolier Recovery Services, a front company that the Taskforce (a top secret counterterrorist unit) uses to hide their clandestine movements across the world. But since the Taskforce may be disbanded because of recent unsavory outcomes Pike and Jen are left in limbo. Not knowing if they'll have a job with the Taskforce, they take a contract with their Israeli counterparts who work with the Mossad.

Israel wants to retrieve a priceless Torah that has been rumored to be on a Nazi gold train in Poland. The four operatives are sent to confirm and retrieve it. Little do they know that they will be stepping into the beginnings of World War three. With Putin wanting to increase his influence and power and a terrorist wreaking havoc on the world stage, a terrible attack on the United States pits NATO against Russia.

As I said above, Brad Taylor's books are spectacular. If you want a roller coaster ride that keeps you breathless along with a story that reflects real world happenings then don't miss reading "Ghosts Of War". Seriously, this was the best of the series so far and it was exhilarating to see how World War Three just might happen in the blink of an eye. Fantastic read.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: "All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda

"All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda will be published June 28,2016. This is Ms. Miranda's first adult novel and it's spectacular. It has been compared to "Gone Girl" and "Girl On The Train" and although I don't see the resemblance in actual storyline, I do see that I would be surprised if this book didn't end up THE book of 2016, just as the above mentioned books did in their brake out year.

In the beginning of "All The Missing Girls" we meet Nicolette Farrell who has been running from her small home town of Cooley Ridge and her past for the last ten years. Although now almost thirty, Nic was eighteen when her best friend Corinne disappeared after an afternoon spent at the fairgrounds. The investigation focused on Nic's group of friends and as we learn right away, all of them hold their own secrets. When Nic comes back to her hometown to help sell her family's house she finds herself once again in an investigation of a new missing girl. This time Annaleise Carter has disappeared. Annaleise was a young teen when Corinne originally went missing, she ended up actually being an alibi for Nic's brother. Now the rumor mill of a small town has started up again and this time there will have to be answers, everyone's secrets are going to be revealed. Living with the outcome will be the problem.

Megan Miranda employs a unique way of telling her story. We are first introduced to all the main characters and given the general outline of the mystery then the story jumps ahead fifteen days and is told backward by the day until the end is revealed. I actually would have hated this in a lesser author's hands, it could have been clumsy and ill conceived. But Miranda's excellent prose force the reader to work a little harder in trying to solve the mystery. It was so cool to have to reorder the events as they happened backwards. This literary device also helped make the entire situation feel very fractured, that added to the book's mystery.

Definition of 5+: Better than all the rest,
in other words, DON'T miss this BOOK!
I loved this book. I found that I related to the main character even though I've obviously never been in her kind of situation. I think most readers will relate to the people around Nic though. The character of Corinne was especially haunting and recognizable. I have had frenemies like this girl and didn't know what to do about her either. You love her and hate her at the same time. Teens usually don't have enough life experience to see people like Corinne as dangerous people when, in fact, they're more dangerous than any other friend. It's so easy to be swayed by a powerful personality. We all want to get along, be part of the group and not be shunned. Megan Miranda's novel allows us a glimpse into Nic's present and former world as the past comes crashing through her life. The characters are so well written you'll recognize them in your own life and you'll be thankful you never lived in Cooley Ridge. Oh, and did I not mention that you'll have a seriously tough time figuring out WHODUNNIT?? Ya, I didn't figure it out at all, I had to read it instead and that's a really rare happenstance for me. YAY for Megan Miranda's mystery, so spectacularly mysterious I couldn't figure it out.

As I said above, I would not be surprised to see this book become one of the standouts of 2016 so I would recommend pre-ordering it now before it's popularity doubles the Kindle price! I really regret waiting and being unsure about reading "Girl On The Train", now it's on my to read list and because I didn't read it when it came out, I'll have to fit it in somewhere in the future. On the other hand, I'm thankful I read "Gone Girl" when it was popular, it's ever so much nicer to be a part of that frenzy of a great new novel. Don't miss the frenzy of "All The Missing Girls", I can guarantee you'll regret it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Review: "The Curse Of Tenth Grave" By Darynda Jones

"The Curse of Tenth Grave" By Darynda Jones will be published June 28, 2016. It is obviously the tenth installment of the Charley Davidson series. I highly recommend reading the first nine before reading this one and let me tell you, the series is so totally worth reading. It's fun, unique, interesting and even sexy. The relationship between Charlie and Reyes is explosive and crackling. The series has such wit, humor and snark that I can't believe any reader would be bored.

To give an accurate synopsis of this book I would have to reveal "spoilers" for the nine books before it so let me simplify the story a little and give you a broad overview. Charley Davidson, our heroine is the Grim Reaper. Yep, she is the conduit to heaven from earth. When someone dies, if they don't immediately ascend to heaven for some reason (that reason usually being unfinished business here on earth) Charley is the cross over point for those lost souls. She is an impossibly bright beacon of light to those who have not crossed over. She describes it like being a flame that all the moths are attracted to. Charley uses her abilities (she can see and speak to dead people) to help lost souls solve the problems keeping them here on earth.

In "The Curse Of Tenth Grave" Charley encounters a lost thirteen year old girl, Heather, who's not yet dead but thinks she's cursed. She has good reason, nearly a dozen foster kids from the institution she lives in have died under mysterious circumstances. Heather is now sick and running for her life. Charlie is also trying to help an innocent man accused of murdering his girlfriend. All the evidence points toward the boyfriend but Charley knows he's absolutely innocent so who killed his girlfriend, why and where's her body? On top of all this, Charley is dealing with her husband Reyes' unusual aloofness. He's lying to her about what's bugging him and she's determined to dig up the truth. But then he's not the only one keeping secrets, Charley now has the God Glass and a lot more knowledge about who wants her dead. Reyes isn't going to like hearing all Charley's secrets and the tension between them is affecting their marriage.

I LOVE this series. I love taking a break from hard bitten detectives and psychopaths to read something that begs you to just suspend disbelief and go with it. I also revel in Darynda Jones' sense of humor. For instance, at the top of every chapter you get a quote, bumper sticker or T-shirt saying.
"The fact that there's a Highway to Hell and only a Stairway to Heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers"
"I'm one step away from being rich. All I need now is money." 
"Just when you think you have all your ducks in a row, someone comes along and teaches you the recipe for Duck a` L'Orange, and you realize you can live without a duck or two." 
I don't think I've read a funnier, meatier more satisfying series in years. I totally recommend you starting this series with book one named "First Grave On The Right". The Kindle price is less than $10 and since the series is ten books in, you'll have LOTS to read this summer. I'll tell you the truth, I devoured the first five books in two weeks this January because I fell in love with Charley and Reyes right away. It's like binge watching a great series on Netflix. Go and binge read this series, seriously, you won't regret it.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

It Isn't Easy Being Green

I've put off painting herbs even though they really interested me. They have been on my bucket list for ever. See, although it seems like a fun little project to paint a plant like basil, the problem is IT'S ALL GREEN. That's a problem when you need the leaves to have some definition. If there's no definition then it'll just look like one green blob, been there, done that.

My worst thing in the past has been not being creative with my greenery. I didn't think bold enough, I didn't add purples or blues into my shadows. I didn't just get creative when something wasn't working. I realize my thought process at the time made sense, I mean the plant IS green so what could be wrong with using all of the different kinds of green? What I had to do is learn to SEE LIKE AN ARTIST. 
I had to paint the basil not like I saw it with my eyes but like I saw it with my heart.
That can be a hard lesson to learn and I still think I'm working on it. I like how my basil turned out but I don't LOVE it. I know I want to be even more creative and not end up frustrated and finally thinking, "oh ya, I can add other colors, not just green!". That's what happened this time. I finally realized I could refresh the painting with pure yellow then mix some deep blue and go to town on the shadows. Yes, it reads as green but believe me, it's NOT. Maybe next time I'll be even more creative and go for some purples and even some turquoise in the lighter areas for character. Live and learn.
My Sweet Basil comes off my
(painting) bucket list
Speaking of colors and loving your own work, I finally broke down and made some more cards. I LOVE MOO!!!! Since discovering them, I have gotten all my cards, stickers, pamphlets and postcards from Moo. I can't wait for them to get here. This is the first time I used my newly scanned art instead of photographed art so there'll be no shadows or wrong colors, instead they should be bright and awesome. I'll definitely show you in a week or so when they arrive but until then I thought you guys would like a MOO Coupon. Moo gave me a 10% off coupon code to pass out for anyone who hasn't tried Moo before. So, if you're looking for some cool business cards (or anything else paper related for that matter) and you've never tried Moo then click on this code ( and save 10% on your first order.

The cool thing about Moo is that you can put different pieces of your art on every card then on the other side you put your particulars. Here's the (really OLD) set I did...
YOUR art on every frontYOUR stats on the back
Anyway, see you soon with new art (I'm thinking cauliflower will challenge me), probably some book reviews and of course, the MOO cards!! Later Gator.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book Review: "Ink & Bone" by Lisa Unger

"Ink & Bone" by Lisa Unger will be published on June 7, 2016. If you like paranormal type mysteries this just might be right up your alley.

Finley Montgomery has been sensitive since she was little. She sees dead people as the psychic saying goes. As she approaches adulthood her powers are becoming more difficult to integrate into her normal life. The only person she knows who could help guide her as she becomes more able to use her unusual abilities is her grandmother Eloise, a renowned psychic. So, against her mother's wishes Finley moves to The Hollows, New York. The Hollows is an unusual place, it seems to draw people to it when it needs something. 

Finley and Eloise take on a cold case with Jones Cooper, a detective Eloise has worked with many times in the past. Ten months ago a little girl named Abbey went missing and her mother, Merri Gleason, has contacted Jones as a last resort. Merri has heard of the phenomenal successes in similar cases that Jones and Eloise have worked. She just hopes a miracle can happen and her daughter will be returned. Finley ends up taking the lead in the case, with her grandmother's help maybe her gifts can do some good. Finley must piece together all the information coming at her to help find this little girl and in this process she may solve many other mysteries buried deep in The Hollows.

This was a good, solid although unusual mystery. Ms. Unger writes smoothly and this makes the reading go down so easily. To enjoy this book though, one would have to believe somehow in other worldly happenings. I have no problem suspending disbelief and embracing psychic phenomenon so I found that I really enjoyed the journey.

I"nk & Bone" is a wonderfully unique look at psychic phenomena without all the usual unbelievable baggage. Finley must use the feelings she gets and interpret what it all might mean. She is a complex character and I can see that Ms. Unger will surely use this her again to start a series. There is so much to get to know about Finley and it seems obvious that this book is the beginning of something unique. One small caveat: since I think this is the start of a series, I found myself wanting more in a slightly negative sense. I felt that some of the relationships were left hanging so in a small way the book felt a little unfinished. I would think that's a problem when starting a new series, you can't just give away everything all at once. There's so much more to say in future books which left me hanging a little in this one. Because of that unfinished feeling I would give this book a three and a half stars out of five but since I can't go halvsies I'll round it up to a four star book.

I did find that the character Finley and her position at the beginning of her psychic journey made me think of what I wanted in the future. Finley didn't want the future to choose her, she wanted to choose her own path. This sentiment gave me pause and caused me to think about whether I was drawing my own life script or just letting it happen. I like books that cause me to look inward. It makes for a much deeper reading experience. 



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