Posted in Book Review

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration: An artist’s guide to illustration on the go! – Betsy Beier



Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration is the perfect “how to” guide to make art on the go using a combination of medium and style.

The author introduces the reader to scientific illustration, botanical illustration, portraiture, fashion illustration, food illustration and so on. She presents 12 creative projects as well as illustration styles, tools (pencils: graphite pencils, watercolor pencils; sketchbooks, paint, brushes, watercolor, gouache, and more), and techniques to create storytelling illustrations.

She explores different color palettes and shares tips on how to combine colors for subjects and evoke different moods.

The projects in this book are easy to follow: for each project, the author provides tips on media to use, step-by-step sketches, adding patterns and details, and lastly, adding color for the final touches.

This book also covers doodling; the author shows you how to doodle with different shapes, and how to draw and color scenery. For instance, a scene at the farmer’s market. She guides the reader on how to make patterns, illustrate a meal—be it in a coffee shop, a restaurant, a local grocery store—and the Japanese Kaiseki meal. She provides some high-level tips on drawing fashion.

Other projects include hand lettering, patterns—inspired by different countries—and collage illustration. The reader will learn how to create collages using newspaper clippings, tickets and other ephemera from their travels, draw and paint on ticket subs to create memorabilia.

This book will teach you how to find inspiration wherever you are and find beauty in the mundane. I recommend to art lovers.

  • Pages: 128
  • Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group – Walter Foster (14 May 2019)

Available on Amazon


Posted in Book Review

The Modern Cheesemaker: Making and cooking with cheeses at home – Morgan McGlynn


In The Modern Cheesemaker, McGlynn shares 18 cheesemaking tips and over 40 cheese recipes inspired by her love for cheesemaking from a young age. This guide provides a complete hands-on guide to making cheese from scratch.

The author opens this book with by introducing the reader to the history of cheesemaking, cheese seasons and the best season for optimal cheese production; she elaborates using cheese from the mountains (The Alps and Pyrenees).

The first part of this book is devoted to the ingredients: cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, acid, salt etc). Here, the author suggests the quality of milk for the best results. This section also covers cheesemaking equipment (Cheesecloth or muslin, large saucepan, thermometer, wooden spoon etc), and the basic steps in making cheese with illustrated step-by-step instructions to make the cheesemaking process accessible for anyone to try at home.

The cheeses in this book are divided into five categories: Fresh cheese, cream and soft cheese, Goat’s cheese, semi-hard cheese, Hard cheese and blue cheese. Each entry begins with a brief overview of the cheese as well as a summary of the cheesemaking process.

Each of the cheeses listed here is further broken down into different kinds of cheese, as well as recipes to try at home. For instance, under Fresh Cheese, you will find kinds of cheese followed by a recipe or two. Some examples are curd cheese ( curd cheese dip), Ricotta, Mozzarella, Mascarpone (Mascarpone Chocolate Pots with Honeymade Honeycomb. The chapter also features a star cheesemaker from different regions in the world.

Under the Cream and Soft Cheese section, you will find a variety of delectable cheeses such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, Brie (Grilled Brie with Caramelized apple and honey).

In the subsequent chapters, (Semi-hard cheese and Hard cheese), the author presents more challenging cheesemaking techniques and introduces the art of ageing cheese, known as affinage. She shows the reader how to make semi-hard cheese such as Paneer cheese, Swiss cheese, Halloumi and Feta cheese including recipes such as Cheese straws and Raclette. Hard cheese: Cheddar, Red Leicester and Gouda.

The author also includes some cheesemonger tips and offers different ways to flavor cheese. Another chapter is dedicated to cheese pairing and explains the balance of tastes, textures, and fragrances, as well as the author’s favorite pairings. Included in this book are seasonal cheese boards featuring cheese in all four seasons and tips on storing cheese.

The Modern Cheesemaker concludes with an extensive list of additives and cultures used for cheesemaking, equipment and where to source them, as well as the author’s selections of cheeses from around the world.

Highly recommend to cheese lovers and experienced hobbyists.

  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Publishing (21 March 2019)

Available on Amazon

Posted in Book Review

The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green – Erica Boyce


The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green is a beautiful story of family, forgiveness and love.

Daniel makes crop circles. He travels across the country, creating intricate patterns in farmers’ fields that baffle people. Though he belongs to an anonymous group of crop circle artists, he prefers to work alone. He has come to Vermont to fulfil a dying man’s wish: create a crop circle on his farm.

There, we meet Sam, his wife Molly and their children; Nessa and Charlie. We follow their journey as Daniel sets out to create the crop circle. Soon we are drawn into the lives of these characters. As the story progresses, we observe the change in family dynamics and it’s not long before Daniel gets drawn into their family struggles.

The story is told through multiple viewpoints and interspersed with backstories of the characters. The characters are genuine and sympathetic and there were moments of difficulties that made me feel close to them.

Little details through Daniel’s perspective draw the reader into the setting of this small town:

Sometimes, I think the size of a farming town should be measured not by the number of horses or stoplights but by the number of old men sitting outside the general store. Munsen’s a pretty small town, so it has three, with pants pulled up over their bellies and big owl eyes behind their glasses.

I enjoyed the suspense in this book and I was left wondering whether the crop circle would be finished. The ending was quite satisfying and uplifting. Overall, a very enjoyable read, fitting title and a gorgeous book cover. I would highly recommend!

  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (2 April 2019)

Available on Amazon

Posted in Book Review

Ida and the Whale – Rebecca Gugger


“What lies behind the sun, the moon, and the stars?”

What a delightful story for children! The illustrations in this book are stunning and whimsical. We follow Ida on her amazing journey with a flying whale. Ida and the Whale takes you on a fun adventure and it’s easy to get lost as we see the world through Ida’s eyes. Highly recommend!

  • Pages: 32
  • Publisher: NorthSouth Books ( 2 April 2019)

Available on Amazon

Posted in Book Review

Muddy: The Raccoon Who Stole Dishes – Griffin Ondaatje


Muddy: The Raccoon Who Stole Dishes is a cute story about a racoon named Muddy, who is a picky eater. Muddy doesn’t eat racoon food—instead, he prefers combing through garbage for leftover food. Moreover, he likes to eat on plates. I liked the illustrations and enjoyed the story—though the ending was a bit abrupt. Overall, an enjoyable read.

  • Pages: 32
  • Publisher: NorthSouth Books (2 April 2019)
Posted in Book Review

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead – Lynn Cahoon


In this 3rd book in the A Farm-to-Fork Mystery, a visiting culinary professor winds up dead in his home.


Angie runs a restaurant with her best friend and partner, Felicity, in their hometown in Idaho. Angie and her staff have volunteered to cook meals at a homeless shelter. They are helping Felicity’s boyfriend, Taylor, who runs the shelter. There, Angie meets Daniel Monet, Hope’s college professor who is visiting from Canada. Hope is one of Angie’s employees; she also takes classes at a culinary school.

Angie’s boyfriend, Ian, seems to recognize Daniel as someone from his past, but under a different name. After their meet, Daniel winds up dead in his home and now Hope’s the prime suspect.

When Daniel turns up dead in his home, Hope becomes a suspect in his murder. Soon after, Ian suddenly leaves for England without so much as an explanation. Angie decides to look into the case to find out who the real killer is and reveal Daniel’s true identity.

I enjoyed this book. The mystery was well written and interspersed with mouthwatering food descriptions. The plot had me guessing. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed reading about Angie’s new recipes for her restaurant, County Seat. Overall, I found One Potato, Two Potato, Dead engaging and I look forward to reading more of this series. Recommend to anyone looking for a cozy mystery read.

  • Publisher: Lyrical Underground (19 March 2019)

Available on Amazon


Posted in Book Review

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder – Joanne Fluke

chocolate.pngChocolate Cream Pie Murder is the 24th book in the Hannah Swensen series.


Hannah is still trying to get over what Ross has put her through, when Ross suddenly shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, demanding the money he left in Hannah’s care. When he threatens her, Hannah’s friends and family all gather to support her. There are twists and turns in this book, not to mention the mouthwatering recipes that are sure to sate the appetite of any reader.

Overall, a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.

  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (26 February 2019)

Available on Amazon


Posted in Book Review

A Summer of New Beginnings – Lisa Hobman


Zara Bailey is a luxury travel writer. She spends most of her time traveling to stunning destinations, staying in boutique hotels in far-flung places and writing about her experiences.

She’s just returned from her last travel assignment in Miami when her boss, Noah announces her next assignment and destination: cycling in Scotland and writing an article of the North Coast 500. Her colleague, Dillion who was supposed to cover this article, has quit suddenly and Zara has to go on this assignment because the trip has already been paid for. Seeing as she’s used to staying in five-star hotels and penthouse suites in exotic places, she’s not too keen on the prospect of camping outdoors. Nevertheless, she agrees to go.

We follow Zara as she navigates the rough terrains of the Scottish Highlands on a bicycle, taking in the views of the stunning coastal scenery, the craggy mountains, not to mention the friendly people she meets along the way—her encounter with Daughters of Anarchy and the toy soldiers.

On her first leg of the journey, her map gets swept away by a gust of wind and then soaked in a nearby pool. Then she loses phone signal and her phone battery runs out. To make matters worse, her bicycle gets a puncture.

She decides to pack it up for the night, pitching her tent unknowingly on private property. The owner shows up the following morning but instead of reproaching her for trespassing, he offers her a place to stay on his farm while she sorts herself out.

A Summer of New Beginnings is a beautiful blend of romance and chick lit, interspersed with humor. I was easily transported to the dramatic scenery of Scotland’s Highlands. Not to mention the mouthwatering descriptions of the food she sampled there—the hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain in Balkneil. Yum

I’m glad everything turned out well for Zara, from finding love in the least likely place to finally pursuing her dream of becoming a novelist. Overall, an enjoyable read and I definitely recommend.

Quotes I liked:

“She was like a comet passing through the atmosphere of his life. Beautiful but all too fast… So like a comet he would have to enjoy the memory of her even though it was unlikely she would appear in his sky again.”

  • Publisher: Aria (19 February 2019)

Available on Amazon


Posted in Book Review

Treking Beyond – Dave Costello, Billi Bierling, Damian Hall, Alex Treadway


Trekking Beyond is filled with breathtaking images showcasing the best trekking regions around the globe. From the Scottish Highlands to the Appalachian trail, the images in this book will tempt the reader to visit the globe’s gorgeous landscapes.

This book includes maps for each region and offers useful information about the area. It covers interesting topics such as its history, the region’s weather and flora. It also includes the best trekking seasons, trek duration, and advice on accommodation. Highly recommend.

  • Pages: 224
  • Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Publishing (4 October 2018)

Available on Amazon

Posted in Book Review

The Stranger Inside – Laura Benedict


You come home to find your key no longer works in your front door and a stranger claims that your house is now theirs. What would you do?


Kimber has just returned from a long weekend at Lake of the Ozarks to find out that she can’t get into her house because the locks have been changed. There’s a man living in her house!

Frantic, she calls the police. According to Lance, the new occupant, he’s been living there for 6 months after Kimber gave a lease because she was moving in with her boyfriend. She also said to take care of the yard until she decided whether to sell the house or keep it. He presents documents with Kimber’s signature.

How did he get Kimber’s signature on the papers if she was away the whole time?

To which Lance replies that he found the property on a rental website the previous week and rented the house unseen. Her nosey neighbor, Jenny even claims to have seen Kimber hand the stranger a set of keys and documents.

But Kimber insists that there must be a huge mistake; the whole thing is some kind of weird misunderstanding. Besides she has no boyfriend.

While trying to force the intruder out of her home he whispers in her ear, and out of earshot of the police.

“I was there. I know what you did.”

Kimber is shocked. She has no idea what this stranger is on about. Or does she?

As the story progresses, the reader learns that Kimber witnessed a crime twenty-five years ago, which she may be partly responsible for. Someone has discovered the truth and is threatening to expose her. Who is the stranger in her house? Is he someone from her past? And what does he want from her?

The Stranger Inside is a gripping, psychological thriller with enough suspense to keep any reader turning the pages. I would definitely recommend this one.

  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books ( 5 February 2019)

Available on Amazon