Saturday, July 13, 2024

Book Tour & Excerpt: The Lady Glass by Anneka Walker

About the Book

Theresia Dvorak has nothing left of her parents—nothing save her dowry, a priceless crystal vase stolen and sold by her own stepmother. Theresia will do anything to secure what is rightfully hers—even assume a false identity and steal her future back. When she gains entrance to a house party and has a memorable run-in with the handsome naval captain Rolland Reese, her mission is compromised. She swore never to trust an Englishman again, but when he makes a daring proposal she cannot refuse, she must work side by side with him if either of them is to achieve their aim. Rolland is stunned when his homecoming from the war takes a decidedly deadly turn. The quickest solution is to throw a house party and invite all the suspects. With the stakes incredibly high, Rolland must root out the killer before they turn their sights to the next potential victim: his own father. The mysterious Theresia is undoubtedly the most suspicious of his guests, but against all odds, he finds himself risking everything to protect her. As Rolland unravels a tangle of clues, he faces the greatest threats of all: a heart of fire and a future as fragile as glass. 


Rolland scratched his chin. The dark stubble there matched the short, thick hair on his head and was only marginally darker than his deep, brown eyes. “Granger, I am afraid that after a full night of avoiding women, fate has trapped me with one.”

“Seems so, Cap’n.”

Rolland gave her a once-over. “Couldn’t you have climbed through any other window?”

“Yours was the only one open.”

“Of course it was. You can take my bed for a few hours, and Granger and I will sleep in the closet. When the house is quiet, if it ever is with such diverse company, I will have Granger sneak you out.”

Theresia had already been pushed past her limit of scandals for one night by hiding her identity, sneaking into a duke’s house, and being caught in a man’s bedchamber. She wasn’t about to willingly spend the night here. “I am afraid such an idea is beyond my sensibilities.”

Rolland coughed on a laugh. “Forgive me, but our actions do have consequences. And I would much rather turn you in as an intruder than disappoint my mother by letting her think otherwise.”

Theresia crossed her arms. “I do not care what your mother thinks. I cannot stay in this room. If you will not let me leave through the door, I must take my chances through the window.”

Rolland stepped back. “By all means, sacrifice yourself.”

She glared and marched by him. She even leaned the opposite direction to avoid feeling anything toward Rolland that would lessen her ire. Because if she knew anything about herself, it was that the more frustrated she was, the more determined she became. She might have leaned too much to the side, though, especially while wearing Johan’s wife’s dress. Apparently she was not bruised enough from being plowed to the floor mere minutes earlier, because she tripped over herself. She saw the ground coming fast toward her but, miraculously, never felt it—thanks to a man who was both injured and extremely capable.

Rolland caught her arm, and in a rush, she was pulled back into his arms.

She stared up at his grim expression. “Do you see why I cannot stay here?” Her voice came out breathless. “This is the third time in the short duration since we’ve met that you have thrown yourself at me.”

He released her like a hot coal. “Usually when I save someone, they say thank you.”

She ran her hands down her skirt, her heart pounding fiercely once more. “Dare I thank someone for forcing me to remain in a condemning situation? Forgive me. I will just be on my way.” She took a step forward, and her ankle gave out. No hand came forward this time to stabilize her. Thankfully, she caught herself on the bed.

“Miss?” Granger stepped forward when Rolland did not move. It seemed she had effectively put the captain in his place.

“It’s not broken,” she said, putting weight on it once more. No, not broken, but it hurt enough to make balancing on her toes and scaling down a wall far scarier than it already was. She glanced out the window and then over at Rolland. “You will stay in the closet the entire time?”

In the short window she’d known the man, she’d witnessed a myriad of his emotions. This one she would guess to be exasperation. “You have my word.”

“That will have to be good enough.”

“I will go in search of a maid’s uniform,” Granger said. “And a coal bucket. If we are going to sneak you out of ’ere, we had best be thorough.”

She was glad there was someone thinking clearer than she was. It was apparent now that she should have had a backup plan. Why, oh why, had she thrown out all the rules of propriety that had been drilled into her for years? She knew already that she would not sleep at all. How could she even close her eyes knowing that she was in a strange man’s bed? Especially since somewhere in the house could be her prized vase and only hope for the future?

About the Author

Anneka R. Walker is a best-selling author of historical and contemporary romance. With humor and an abundance of heart, she crafts uplifting stories you won't soon forget. She is the winner of the Swoony Award, the LDSPMA Praiseworthy Award, and various chapter contests. Her books have received praise from Publishers Weekly, Historical Novel Society, Midwest Book Review, and Readers Favorite. She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in English and history and hopes to never stop learning. She is a blessed wife, proud mother of five, lover of Jesus, connoisseur of chocolate, and believer in happy endings.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon


Friday, July 5, 2024

Takeover Blitz, Review & Giveaway: Toward the Dawn by Mary Connealy

Toward the Dawn JustRead Takeover + Review Blitz

Welcome to the Takeover + Review Blitz for Toward the Dawn by Mary Connealy hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Toward the Dawn Title: Toward the Dawn 
Series: A Western Light #2 
Author: Mary Connealy 
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
Release Date: June 18, 2024 
Genre: Christian Historical Western Romance

Despite trials that threaten their path forward, hope dawns for a future filled with love.

Kat Wadsworth and Sebastian Jones never imagined their lives would entwine so closely. Forced to flee on a wagon train from a vengeful uncle and an unknown gunman, they live in a hidden canyon with the family that rescued them. But as the days turn into months, they each have separate reasons for wanting to move back to society, and the best way to the independence they desperately crave might be through a marriage of convenience. 

However, settling into their homestead in Cheyenne, Wyoming, reveals a different reality for Kat. Her new husband becomes consumed by his inventions, leaving her feeling lonely and isolated. And just when they think they've left the danger behind, a mysterious attacker lurks in the shadows, threatening the new life they've built. Together, they must confront the perils from their pasts to forge a future with hope and the prospect of love.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Bookshop


My Review

The journey continues with Kat and Sebastian going stir-crazy in the safety of the isolated canyon with their friends, and with the convenience of trains they are able to travel from city to city, getting married, establishing a homestead, building a lab for Sebastian's inventions, and tracking down the mystery of who is after them. We have some sections from the perspective of some of the villains- Ginny's vengeful husband and Kat's greedy uncle, but are kept in suspense to discover who is after Sebastian and his inventions. I enjoyed Kat and Sebastian getting to know each other more and figuring out how to have a good marriage. I wasn't feeling much chemistry between them since they are both pragmatic and tend to state and restate their situation to each other, and there wasn't much depth to their emotions, especially romantically. The plot is definitely driven by the action and tension building from the dangerous villains seeking Kat, Sebastian, and those in the canyon. Another asylum escapee reappears and the third perspective is from those in the canyon trying to rehabilitate her. Quite a bit going on which kept the pace steady and accelerating toward an exciting finish.

 Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

More Books from this Series

Chasing the Horizon

About the Author

Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than 1.5 million books and is the author of the popular series Wyoming Sunrise and The Lumber Baron's Daughters and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Connect with Mary by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a print copy of Toward the Dawn and a $20 Amazon gift card!

Toward the Dawn JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight July 3, 2024 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on July 10, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Book Tour & Excerpt: An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder by Dianne Freeman

About the Book

Filled with Victorian-era intrigue for readers of Rhys Bowen, Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander, and Julia Seales, Dianne Freeman’s Agatha Award-winning series takes a delightful jaunt to the City of Light as Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, encounters a murder scene at the Paris Exposition.

Frances and her husband, George, have two points of interest in Paris. One is an impromptu holiday to visit the Paris Exposition. The other is personal. George’s Aunt Julia has requested her nephew’s help in looking into the suspicious death of renowned artist Paul Ducasse. Though Julia is not entirely forthcoming about her reasons, she is clearly a woman mourning a lost love.

At the exposition, swarming with tourists, tragedy casts a pall on the festivities. A footbridge collapses. Julia is among the casualties. However, she was not just another fateful victim. Julia was stabbed to death amid the chaos. With an official investigation at a standstill, George and Frances realize that to solve the case they must dig into Julia’s life—as well as Paul’s—and question everything and everyone in Julia’s coterie of artists and secrets.

They have no shortage of suspects. There is Paul’s inscrutable widow, Gabrielle. Paul’s art dealer and manager, Lucien. Julia’s friend Martine, a sculptress with a jealous streak. And art jurist, Monsieur Beaufoy. The investigation takes a turn when it’s revealed that George has inherited control of Julia’s estate—and another of her secrets. While George investigates, Frances safeguards their new legacy, and is drawn further into danger by a killer determined to keep the past buried.

Excerpt from An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder

Monsieur Allard singled me out with his gaze. “Are you an admirer of Ducasse’s work?”

“Based on this painting, I believe I could be,” I replied. “But I haven’t seen enough of it to be sure. And I must admit, I am no connoisseur.”

“I assume you are a patron, Monsieur Allard,” George said, “since you arranged this tribute. Perhaps you can walk us through this display and show us the finer points of his work.”

Alicia Stoke-Whitney had stepped into view beside Allard. “There is no one who could do it better,” she said. “If anyone knows Ducasse’s particular style, it is Lucien.”

Monsieur Allard smiled fondly at her, then turned back to me. “Paul Ducasse was my dearest friend. I managed all his exhibits and sales, freeing him to devote himself to his art.”

He raised an arm to guide us along the long wall of Ducasse paintings. I let George move ahead with Allard and hung a step behind with Alicia. We listened attentively while Allard described technique and pointed out the nature of light, color, and expression. I simply knew I would have hung any of them on my walls with great pleasure. They were all of scenes the artist must have viewed every day and of people he knew—intimate, honest portraits that made me feel as if I knew them, too.

I tore my gaze from one canvas, only to see that I did indeed know the person depicted in the next painting. It was Lady Julia, but not as I’d ever seen her. No more than twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, she stood behind an easel, applying brush to canvas, wearing a paint-stained smock over her dress, with a paintbrush tucked behind one ear. Her dark brown hair fell from a loose chignon and formed frenzied waves around her face. The artist seemed to catch her as she glanced up from her work.

The look in her eyes was unmistakably one of love.

I couldn’t help but stare. Unless someone had been standing behind Ducasse as he painted her, Lady Julia was obviously in love with the man.

“This is quite . . . something,” George said. He did not seem as surprised as me.

Monsieur Allard gave George a narrow look. “This is an example of his earlier work. Not his best piece, by far.” He shifted his regard from George to the painting and crossed his arms, nodding to himself. “It does show his promise, though, I must admit.”

A woman stepped up next to Allard, oozing elegance, as so many Frenchwomen did. Her blond hair was drawn up with a minimum of twisting and fixed with a jet embellishment that matched the trim on the bodice of her gown. A wide waistband, almost like a cummerbund, separated it from the black silk skirt that swept the floor in a demi-train. She was as much a work of art as the paintings in this room.

Allard angled himself to include her in the conversation. “May I present Madame Ducasse?” he asked, then turned to her. “This is Lady Harleigh and her husband, Monsieur Hazelton, from England.”

So, the artist had left a widow. “Please accept our condolences on your loss, madame,” I said. “Such a tragic accident.”

She gave me a wan smile as she turned from the painting to George. “Hazelton? I see the family resemblance. You are related, are you not?”

Monsieur Allard gasped. “Do you mean to say . . . ?” He let the words drift as he, too, looked from the painting to George and back. “I never knew that was Lady Julia,” he said. “I never knew . . .”

My guess was that the man hadn’t meant to repeat himself. If he had finished the second sentence, I suspect he would have said that he never knew Lady Julia was in love with Paul Ducasse.

“It was many years ago,” Madame Ducasse said, and for a moment, I thought she had read my mind. Then I realized she was speaking to Allard’s comment that he hadn’t recognized Julia. “Perhaps she would like to have this one.”

Allard’s harrumph evoked a chuckle from her. “It is not one of his best works,” she said. “You said so yourself.”

“I can see why my aunt might be interested in purchasing the painting,” George said, “but on the off chance she isn’t, I certainly am.”

From An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder © 2024, Dianne Freeman, published by Kensington Books

The Countess of Harleigh Mystery series


About the Author
Dianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Agatha and Lefty Award winning Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, a two-time finalist for the Macavity’s Sue Feder Memorial Award, and a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband now split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Visit her at

Friday, June 28, 2024

Blog Tour, Author Interview & Giveaway: Resurgence of Dawn by Brett Armstrong

Resurgence of Dawn JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Resurgence of Dawn by Brett Armstrong hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Resurgence of Dawn

Title: Resurgence of Dawn
Quest of Fire #5
Brett Armstrong
Expanse Books
Release Date:
December 12, 2023
Christian, Epic/High Fantasy, Young Adult

Haunted by tragedies and failures, Anargen and Jason each struggle to find their way. Night has fallen in the Lowlands and neither teen has an easy road ahead. In Anargen’s Era, Monarch Ilyron’s powers and influence grow, forcing Anargen and his dwindling list of allies to travel the length of the Lowlands in a desperate attempt to keep the Quest and all they hold dear from falling into ruin. 

Jason meanwhile must find Aria and her grandfather to help unite the Knights of Light from across the Lowlands against his brother, Dorian. But agents of darkness and painful vestiges of his past mix with vindictive new enemies to make the hope of seeing the dawn of the longed-for King’s Day ever so faint. If either teen gives in and surrenders, doom will come swiftly on their world.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | BookBub


Interview with Author Brett Armstrong

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Okay, well, I’m a Christian, a husband, and a father. Drawing, reading, gardening, and gaming are some of my hobbies. I’ve lived in West Virginia my entire life, mostly in a small suburb of the capital, Charleston. I work a full-time job during the day and do my writing at night so I’m also usually super tired. But really grateful, because it helps me to focus on writing as a way to give over being a source of income.

I got my start in writing by going to the library with my mom. When I was nine, I was in the middle of reading about the Aztec Empire and somehow it just came to me to write a story about a man who was enslaved when his tribe was conquered by the Aztecs and he escaped being sacrificed as a slave and hid, posing as an Aztec and gradually rising through societal ranks till he was in the position to get his revenge. After that writing my own stories became part of me.

As I got older, I was worried that writing wasn’t something I could do seriously, so I tried to walk away from it. But in college, I took a creative writing class for fun and wrote a story about a Roman Senator who was a Christian in secret and who lost everything when that was discovered. Through the story he wrestles with his desire for revenge and his growing conviction that he should forgive those who wronged him knowing full well they may never stop trying to hurt him. Forgiving as Christ forgave. The reaction my secular class had to the story really encouraged me. Soon after, I realized that having those writing classes had felt like a breath of badly needed air and made me realize that this was the path to which the Lord was leading me. In all the ups and downs since, the Lord has kept me moving forward.

Regarding my philosophy as a writer, my first unique story I'd ever written and what became my first novel are both about men who were wronged and lost everything to those who hated them, but the difference in what came after was Christ. Which is paralleled in how faith in Christ shapes every part of my life, including my writing. My chief desire as a writer is to be a brush in the Master Artist's hand.

What do you do besides writing?

For my day job I’m an informatician and database administrator for the state of West Virginia specifically working with public health datasets. I try to create programs and processes that help epidemiologists and others within the public health workforce to more seamlessly analyze and interact with their data. I also advocate majorly for using that data to help pass along the story the data is telling. To help make it real for the people my position and those I work with serve, which is the people of West Virginia.

For fun, I have a third grader who is an avid gamer and generally a bundle of energy and creativity, so he keeps me pretty busy finding new things to play either virtually or around our house. I also really enjoy drawing, though I haven’t been able to do it as much as I would like lately. We’re also raising our yearly garden and it’s really rewarding getting to see the plants grow (plus watching my son get super excited about some of our exotic plants like blue pumpkins and beans).

What was your favorite part of researching for this book?

One of the most fun things about Quest of Fire’s dual timelines is getting to have traditional fantasy elements (knights, swords, and monsters) with a 1910-1920’s setting which the Modern Era parallels. So, there are airplanes and telephones in some areas of the story world, the Lowlands, at that point. It was a lot of fun exploring what kinds of advances in aviation and automobiles would be reasonable to include. Though to be honest I enjoy research for books, because I invariably go down rabbit holes and find out things that are completely askew from where I started but could be useful in future stories. Especially if it's something small, something innocuous that just adds to the depth and character of a story world’s cultures.

Do you have images you can share that come close to how you picture your characters? Do you like to find visual inspiration for your characters before or during your writing process?

I feel like everything we take in reading, watching, seeing, hearing, etc. get built into the fabric of your storytelling repertoire. Kind of added to the palette you have to work from so to speak. So, what usually ends up happening for me is I'll get a visual still of a scene in my head that’s kind of a composite of multiple things I’ve been exposed to over time and I cling to that image and that helps me to build the scene's events from there. Sometimes I draw those scenes or characters from them. With Resurgence of Dawn what really drove some fun storytelling was sketching out the rest of the Lowlands map for the Middle and Modern Eras. That was so much fun and led to so many fun bits of lore and culture and characterization that got worked into the book. Little details that I feel like really helped to make the story feel more vivid and vivacious. The world around the characters then gives me a sense of who can live there. What they should be like. A great example being the Yusbilsi and Kazim Cuzibaum, Defender of the West Central Realm. It might seem strange but drawing out the Yusbilsi region, thinking about its history and topography helped me to imagine Kazim and build his character from there.

What are some songs that you listened to or inspired you while writing your book?

I have a pretty long playlist that I tend to listen through that's got a pretty wide mix, but there were a few songs and pieces or music that I feel like really placed me in the right mindset/mood for writing a Quest of Fire book as I was working on Resurgence of Dawn. In particular, “Love Broke Thru” by TobyMac. Some of the lyrics really parallel what happened to the Modern Era protagonist Jason in the preceding book:

“You found me in the darkness
Wanderin' through the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I'm hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
And it all began with You
When love broke through”

Every time I heard it, it kind of grounded me at where Jason was coming from for this book. Another TobyMac song, “Beyond Me”, also captured how completely overwhelmed I felt leading into writing Resurgence of Dawn and how after I had prayed and handed it over to God I felt so much peace and the book just came together in a way I'd never experienced before:

“You take me to the place where I know I need You
Straight to the depths that I can't handle on my own
You take me to the place where I know I need You
So take me to Your great ...
Take me to Your great unknown”

And then, of course, I have to mention the theme music/song for Quest of Fire I made in collaboration with the music director at the church I attend. Hearing it always brings me back to the Lowlands like nothing else.

What message would you like readers to ultimately take away from the book?

There is a lot of chaos and noise in our day-to-day lives and the world in general. It’s not something to ignore, but it isn’t something that should define and dominate our hearts and minds. Every day we are challenged to turn back, to give up and give in to those pressures on us. The challenges Anargen and Jason face are more dramatic and acute in Resurgence of Dawn, but I hope it inspires readers with how they faced them, how they persevered through them. We don’t always know the impact our actions will have, whether in our seeming failures and present suffering that there is any good. But “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”*
In Resurgence of Dawn, Jason benefits Anargen’s perseverance. Anargen couldn’t know that, all he could do is follow the High King and stay true to his oaths even through his failures and disasters all of which seemed to indicate there was no point to continue and no hope. Likewise, we are heirs of all those who came before us and must make the same choices to stand firm: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”**

In short, my hope is that readers will reach the last page and carry it with them. So that the next time they face a trial in or challenge to their faith, they do so with more confidence and resilience. There is so much chaos and noise that comes at us every day and seeks to wear away at our faith. I hope that Resurgence of Dawn helps readers to trust the True High King, knowing that the Lord is there with us, working in and through us.

* Romans 8:28, ESV
** Ephesians 6:13, ESV

What can we look forward to coming from you in the future?

Well, this September the next book in the series, Quest of Fire: Devastation, releases. Quest of Fire alternates novel releases from the major story arcs with novellas that zoom in and tell more personal stories for a character and locality that help fill in some context for the major story arcs at the same time. Devastation is the last novella/short novel release so it sets up everything for the final book (Lord willing releasing in 2025). It was a hard story to tell because the protagonist of that book, Thomas is the returning from Desperation and Resurgence of Dawn and things start off looking great. But more than a year has passed and he and those closest to him are about to be hit with some hardships and challenges that take him to the breaking point physically and emotionally. The title is Devastation after all. But more than what tries him, that story is about who is holding him up in those trying times. Finding the High King was beside him through it all, even in the moments where he felt alone.

Devastation completes some thematic arcs across all three novellas and creates a nice inverse picture of things between Succession and Devastation. So, as a writer and as a believer it's been a really satisfying book to work on and I hope readers find it to be so as well.

More Books in This Series

    Shadows at Nightfall  Quest of Fire: Desperation

About the Author

Brett Armstrong

Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers haunting, deep historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Tomorrow's Edge), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire). Every story is a journey of discovery and an attempt to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope. Always busy with a new story, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and spending time with his wife and son.

Connect with Brett at to follow him on social media and sign up for email updates.

Tour Giveaway

(2) winners will each win a $25 Amazon gift card, a print copy of Resurgence of Dawn, and a digital poster of the Lowlands!

Resurgence of Dawn JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight June 24, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on July 1, 2024. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Review: Drawn on the Way: A Guide to Capturing the Moment Through Live Sketching by Sarah Nisbett

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Learn to observe the world more deeply—with curiosity, empathy, and joy—as you sketch the stories unfolding all around you.

In Drawn on the Way, Sarah Nisbett shares her techniques for creating captivating line drawings that capture the moments and moods that you encounter on the train, in a cafĂ©, outdoors, anywhere: a young woman lost in thought, a pair of hands clasped on a lap, a peppy beagle, a pair of jeans-clad crossed legs. Sarah invites you to see the people, animals, places, and objects you draw with compassionate curiosity—as more than a stranger or inanimate object, but as someone or something with a story worth knowing or imagining.

Even if you are inexperienced at drawing or don’t consider yourself an artist, you can learn how to create sketches from start to finish employing techniques such as contour drawing, using line work to add texture, and adding spot color—and discover how each sketch tells a story. You’ll begin to focus on important details that reveal something about the subject you’re drawing: the graceful drape of a hand over a purse, the shy way someone tucks their feet underneath them.

As you unplug, set aside perfectionism, and explore the world through drawing, you’ll learn:
- How to translate what you see into a compelling drawing
- How to silence your inner critic and find joy in drawing what captures your interest
- Techniques for drawing figures and creating quick portraits
- How to find the emotion in objects by asking questions
- How to draw scenes and backgrounds without becoming overwhelmed
- How to quickly and expressively render the natural world, including plants and animals
- How key details can take a sketch from plain to captivating
- Ways to find the extraordinary in the everyday
- How to transform mistakes into likeable elements
- Tips for becoming a visual storyteller
- Life lessons learned from years of live drawing 

We spend most of our lives on the way, rushing and running from place to place, task to task. When we have a spare minute, we usually reach for our phones and shut everything else out. The techniques, projects, and ideas in Drawn on the Way are designed to help you be more mindful about drawing, to capture the people, places, and things you encounter each day. By doing that, you’ll connect with humanity in a deeper, more meaningful way—and discover a lot about yourself.

My Review

"This is more than a book about how to draw. This is a book about how to see... This is a book about drawing, but it's also a book about living." I didn't know how much I needed this book! I love the author's method of interrogating her subject- especially inanimate ones- to deconstruct, to figure out where and how to start, what to draw next. To discover the emotion inherent in the subject or how others relate to it. The section on scenes helped me learn to edit what I'm seeing and capturing what I connect to. The concept of using a pen because of it's permanence is a new one to me- I'm used to the "timidity" of pencils because I could erase mistakes. The practice of embracing decisions and accepting them as they are is one that will take some adjustment but I am excited to try. I loved the author's encouraging words and advice for each of the exercises at the back of the book, and they are ones to use over and over again with new subjects. A wonderful book for artists of all levels of experience.

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

Review: Conscious Crafts: Quilting 20 Mindful Makes to Reconnect Head, Heart & Hands by Elli Beaven

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


In Conscious Crafts: Quilting, maker Elli Beaven reveals the meditative nature of the quilting process and its empowering skill set for creating, mending and mindfulness.

Making is mindfulness made practical, and quilting is a renowned and rewarding craft. Drawing on the traditions of hand quilting, Elli has created 20 modern makes, ranging from simple coasters, bags and cushions to quilts and curtains. She shares the basic techniques of quilting and shows how these can be adapted and developed for different projects, as well as mending and repurposing.

Clean photography, contemporary illustration and heart-affirming text are neatly sewn together to celebrate handwork and the act of crafting for a sustainable future.

The projects: patchwork coasters; strip trivets; needle book; storage basket; patched pencil case; slow stitch bag; rainbow cross body bag; clamshell beach bag; coaster and waste not cushions; wild fan, border, log cabin, butterfly play and ad astra quilts; arrow wall hanging; patchwork curtain; and mending under and over patching.

Packed with inspiring ideas and practical guidance, Conscious Crafts: Quilting gives you the skills to get started with this fulfilling craft, and shows how the quilting process and the satisfaction of creating your own unique makes can benefit your well-being.

The Conscious Crafts series places mindfulness and well-being at the heart of making. Picking out proven meditative crafts and bespoke authors, these practical, contemporary guides are an inviting introduction to reconnecting head, heart, and hands.

My Review

I'm not an experienced quilter, though I have played around with it a bit over the years. This book is wonderful for both beginners and experienced quilters. It brings mindfulness into the process, allowing for creativity and flow. I appreciated the section on useful techniques in the beginning of the book and learned some great information. I especially look forward to using the baptist fan stitch. The projects are not just for blankets- they cover a variety of home goods and bags as well. Can anyone ever have too many zippered pouches? There is also a balance between machine stitching and hand stitching across the pages. Hand stitching is perfect for mindfulness, embracing the use of our fingers to manipulate the materials and create. This book is perfect for sewers, quilters, crafters, and artists- especially those with a fabric stash of small pieces to use up!

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Review: Highcliffe House by Megan Walker

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

About the Book

Love ignites when two rivals vie to secure a possible fortune at the seaside town of Brighton.

Brighton, England, 1813

When a romantic entanglement leaves her humiliated and reeling, Anna Lane wants nothing more than for her father to whisk her away from the gossip of the ton. Unfortunately, he has obligations elsewhere, leaving her stuck in London.

Graham Everett’s financial security depends on an investment with Mr. Lane, his long-time friend and business partner. He’ll do just about anything to secure it for his family, even if it means fighting spoiled, embittered Anna for her father’s attention.

Luckily, Mr. Lane concocts a plan that will give everyone what they want, with one stipulation: Anna must accompany Graham to Brighton in her father’s stead and make a decision to invest—or not—based on a thorough report.

But it will take more than a day at the beach for these two headstrong hearts to admit that they’ve been wrong about each other. If they are willing to invest a little time working out their differences, they might have a chance at real love.

My Review

The cover of this book is so serene, I was not prepared for the tumultuous dynamics at play between Anna and Graham! There are reasons they begin as enemies, and I was happy to see the character growth as they overcome those complications and learn to develop confidence and grasp happiness in spite of their circumstances. It takes time for Anna and Graham to release their prejudices and come to know each other under the layers of self-preservation, and discover the attraction and esteem they share. Removing to a different location is pivotal in their process, as it takes Anna out of her comfort zone and allows her to observe Graham in his home setting. Graham's family was lovely and I enjoyed the different personalities of his sisters. His backstory reminds me a bit of Mr. Thorton in North & South- a man who has pulled himself and his family out of poverty and into affluence, yet subject to the whims of investments and the inherent risks. There is much to admire in him and his work ethic, yet Anna helps him to see that love and family are truly important. Anna craves attention from her loving father to feel secure in her world, one where a woman's reputation is easily fractured. Graham's influence as well as his family develop her trust in others and opens her vision to a brighter future. I loved the deep feelings and wonderful chemistry in this book!

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

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