Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: "The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris

"The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris will be released on June 20, 2017. Paris also wrote "Behind Closed Doors" which has fantastic reviews and it is on my to read list. Knowing that Paris had written this book heavily influenced me to agree to review "The Breakdown". I had heard such great reviews and also had heard about "Behind Closed Doors" so often that I was thrilled to get my hands on the newest thriller by this author.

Cass is in her mid thirties but she's worried she's losing her memory especially since her mother suffered from early onset dementia before her death recently. Everything is made worse when, on a dark and stormy night, Cass witnesses a murder victim right before her horrible murder. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and on the wrong road. She'd promised her new husband that she'd never take that backroad at night but in a moment of panic she wants to get home quickly, she breaks her promise. On that road she sees a woman sitting in her car. She doesn't stop and help, she's afraid of the storm and wants to get home but now she can't live with the guilt. When Cass learns the woman is dead she is distressed that she left the woman stranded and vulnerable. Cass's guilt sets off further hand wringing, memory problems and anxiety. Over time Cass gets worse, does she have dementia like her mother? Is her paranoia about the killer stalking her mean she has a mental disorder? Will her life ever get back to normal? No one believes her and she just wishes she could forget that woman like she seems to be forgetting everything else.

I had so many feelings about this book as I read it. I started out being excited and anxious to get stuck into the story. I thought I had it figured out by the first chapter but knew it would be a good story anyway. Then for about half of the book I just wanted it to move faster. I felt like it should have been edited to be shorter. I thought the writer didn't need to go on and on and on about phone calls and anxiety experienced by Cass. When finally in the last fifth of the book it started moving I found I was not exactly right about who done it or why. I found my enjoyment increased a whole star in about two pages.

I must admit that Cass was a little simpering and she didn't help herself at all in the beginning. I found that eminently frustrating. I found myself yelling at my Kindle, begging the main character to think outside the box and get a backbone. The writing was well done and truly conveyed the anxiety and debilitating loss of hope one would feel at thinking one had early onset dementia. My final note would be that I wished in the end Cass hadn't blamed herself for not loving the murderer enough. As though what she could have done would have saved the murder victim. If the book hadn't gone there, to blame the victim in the last few pages I certainly would have given this book four stars. I'm taking half a star away  because innocent victims should never blame themselves unnecessarily. I wish the author had left the main character in a slightly brighter place, I found it a real let down when Cass blamed herself once again.

I do actually recommend this book, just know that the middle is going to frustrate you. The ending is well worth it though. Just ignore Cass's last few thoughts.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Book Review: "The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson

"The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson is the sixth installment of his Jessica Daniel series. This book has already been released so if you're interested you can find it now in bookstores and online as an e-book. I was lucky enough to get the first book in the series, "Locked In" for 99¢ so I could get to know the main character well before delving into book six.

This is a twisted, complicated mystery that starts with a missing teen. Oliver was babysitting but when the parents of his charge come home they find their little girl fast asleep but no Oliver. Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is called in to find out where the teen has gone. By the time they find Oliver murdered, another murder has happened with very similar characteristics. Det. Daniel must winnow out the connection between the two murders and figure out who the culprit is. It will take her into the underworld of strip clubs and thugs. 

I really wanted to like this series. Unfortunately, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed. This book was only a three for me. It's not like the mystery isn't good, I just didn't connect enough to the character of Jessica. I found this surprising. Jessica Daniel is a no nonsense spitfire of a character who throws it back as much as she takes it when dealing with colleagues. She pushes hard for answers and runs herself even harder than she does the constables who work under her. I should have liked her. I really don't know why I didn't. Since it was a good, solid mystery with no flaws to speak of and the writing was good and the main protagonist was complicated and relatable I have to put it down to just not the right fit for me. It happens. I guess what I'm saying is that although I am putting this review up, you may want to look at other people's reviews to balance my blasé attitude toward this otherwise good read. So many other reviewers love this series. In fact, that's why I was excited to try it. Maybe I"m just having an off week. I hope you as the reader give this series a try, even though it wasn't for me, I still would recommended it to friends and family.


Friday, May 19, 2017

It's Paint Porn Time Again!

Calling all artists, calling all artists! Yes, I know how much we ALL love looking at other artists' stuff. It's one of my very favorite guilty pleasures, drooling over someone else's palette, paint bag, travel set or art shopping haul. So, since I just had my 47th birthday on Wednesday, I thought I'd show & tell all the lovely little art trinkets I was so thrilled to receive.
First and foremost, I got the High Chroma Qor Six tube set. Not only does this let me try Qor watercolors for the first time but I so totally wanted the tin the paints came in! It's the perfect size to make a full but compact palette. I ended up getting a total of 37 colors into this small palette that only measures about 4" x 6" (it's the size of an index card). I used some full and some half pans, mostly I did that so I could tell where colors fell. As most of you would know, if you don't have some way of telling, a line of ten colors can get confusing as darker dried watercolors all look black, lol. The High Chroma set includes 5ml tubes of Cobalt Teal, Green Gold, Quin Gold, Transp Pyrrole Orange, Quin Magenta, and Dioxazine Purple.
Next, my lovely Aunt Mic decided to surprise me with a little present every day of my birthday week! It was so fun to have something to open every morning. She must have talked to my mom and they trolled my bucket list of art supplies I drool over, lol. One of the coolest things is a very accurate eraser, the thinnest and most agile eraser line on the market. It's called Tombow Mono Zero Eraser and it's so thin that you can erase even the tiniest line. I'll be using it mostly for pencil work when one wants to get to the most impossible spot without disturbing the drawing. I am so thrilled to also now have Caran d'Arche Technalo water soluble pencils. There were a bunch of other wonderful stuff including another cool eraser for smudging using the lightest touch, pens and even a stencil set as I'm rubbish at lettering, I was well spoiled.

As you can tell, much of the above involves working on detail pencil art so as a final gift I was so thrilled to get a set of 24 Derwent Tinted Chracoal. I love how the lead colors are just slightly tinted and they can be liquified with a water brush to give even more interesting colors and effects. I can't wait to try them.

So, there'll be several more paintings of art supplies. I mean, when you have all these puuurrrty new things you should immortalized them in your sketchbook, right? 

If you are interested, here's the list of the paint colors and brands that are in my shiny new palette. Oh, and also if you're interested, I attached each pan using a magnet cut and glued to the bottom of each plastic piece using silicone glue. I tried previously just relying on the sticky backing on the magnet strip but I found when I pulled a color out the magnet was strong enough to pull off the plastic instead of out of the tin, lol. Addition of a tiny bit of silicone glue worked perfectly. Now everything magnetically attaches to the palette and can be switched out anytime I want to. Here's the list of colors, left to right, top to bottom. (DS=Daniel Smith, S=Schmincke, W&N=Winsor & Newton)
Row 1 (turquoises & Purples):
Cobalt Teal (DS), Prussian Green (S), Aqua Green (W&N) , Phthalo Green (DS), Quin Violet (W&N), Carbazole Violet (DS), Moonglow (DS), Neutral Tint (S)

Row 2 (Greens):
Green Gold (QOR), Phthalo Yellow green (DS), Leaf Green (Sap), Sap Green (Holbein), Sap Green (Schmincke), Hooker's Green (Sennelier), Serpentine Genuine (DS), Sap Green (DS), Shadow Green (Holbein)

Row 3 (Yellows):
Pure Yellow (Schmincke), New Gamboge (DS), Yellow Ochre (S), Quin Gold (DS), Burnt Sienna (DS), Burnt Umber (S), Buff Titanium (DS)

Row 4 (Blues):
Manganese Blue (), Cerulean Blue (W&N), French Ultramarine (DS), Phthalo Sapphire (W&N), PB60 (DS), Indigo (W&N), Payne’s Blue Grey (S)

Row 5 (Reds):
Transparent Orange (S) ,Permanent Red (S), Quin Red (Sennelier), Sanguine Red (W&N), Opera Pink (DS), Permanent Rose (W&N), Quin Magenta (DS)

I'll be joining up this week with Paint Party Friday. Why don't you head on over and see what gorgeous art has been created this week!
Talk soon, promise.


Friday, May 5, 2017

LIMITED EDITION: "The Perfect Sketchbook 2017"

Hiya. I've done a post like this before, I mean about The Perfect Sketchbook. I wrote all about the funding campaign two years ago, you can read all about it HERE. I'm telling you this because I got an email this morning saying that the maker, Erwin Lian, has done a limited edition of this sketchbook for 2017. Here's some of the information about the sketchbook from their website (I'm not affiliated, I just know it's a great sketchbook).

Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.
Wonderful PaperGreat for Watercolor and other Media
I just wanted any artist out there who has a little money burning a hole through your pocket to know that there are only a little less than THIRTY left to be purchased out of the nine hundred they made. The count down is on so if you want one, RUN over and grab yourself a spectacular Perfect Sketchbook. Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me one for my birthday this May16th then go for it, ;o).

Ok, so click on the picture below or THIS LINK to go to buy The Perfect Sketchbook. Talk soon with some actual art, sorry I've been MIA for a while. :o)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: "The Perfect Stranger" by Megan Miranda

"The Perfect Stranger" is Megan Miranda's latest book. I had previously loved "All The Missing Girls" and given it high marks for both mystery and character development so I had really high hopes for this new book. I'm so glad I put in to review it as it held up spectacularly to my expectations. "The Perfect Stranger" is already out in print so go pick it up at your local bookstore.

You know when you read a book and after you're done you find yourself wondering about what the characters are up to now? It's like they become real people to you and you want to phone them up and ask how they're doing, suggest you go for a cuppa and chat about their lives after such a harrowing experience. Are you still with the boyfriend? Did you finally settle down and find happiness in that little town you moved to? How's it going my friend? Ya, this is one of those books, I just cannot seem to let the characters go. That is such a good thing.

I crave these kind of books, the ones that get under your skin and set your world a little on a tilt. Once again, Megan Miranda has written wonderfully knowable characters that she has fleshed out by winding the details into the story. Leah Stevens used to be a journalist, now she's run from her life in Boston to a little town in Pennsylvania to teach high school. Leah will be living with her old friend Emmy Grey but their new start is marred when a woman who looks like Leah is assaulted and Emmy disappears. To protect her new life Leah will have to manipulate the truth and the past to stay above water. The local police are confused and Leah isn't helping by keeping details to herself. She's going to have to trust someone or she may not ever unravel the truth about where Emmy has gone.

This mystery works on so many levels. "The Perfect Stranger" sucks you into the labyrinth of Leah's life and the reader is given salient details in a slow, piecemeal fashion which stretches the tension. By the last quarter of the book the reader aches to understand where all the pieces of this puzzle fit together. The ending is so satisfying that I almost sighed in satisfaction, like one does when one finishes the last bite of an especially delicious dessert, good to the last word.



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