Book Review: The Drawing Lesson

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:30 AM

Friday, September 30, 2016

An instructional art book in narrative graphic novel form that uses the tale of one aspiring young artist and his reluctant mentor to impart easy-to-follow lessons on the fundamentals of drawing.

With over 10 million views and growing, Mark Crilley's YouTube drawing instruction videos have an enormous worldwide legion of fans and have been featured on sites such as Yahoo News and Reddit. In addition, Crilley is an accomplished graphic novelist. Now for the first time, he pairs both strengths resulting in a one-of-a-kind art instruction experience. Through the story of aspiring, overeager young artist-in-the-making David and his helpful, but often flustered mentor, Becky, readers gain a grounding in the basics of drawing and rendering, along with a helping of laughs and poignant entertainment. Each lesson builds off the previous, with sidebars at the end of each chapter that direct readers to tackle some of the very same drawing exercises that David has just completed. The sequential art format provides the perfect vehicle for these step-by-step lessons, and the Pixar-esque approach to the surrounding characters and story ensures an enjoyable experience that readers will want to revisit again and again.


Every so often you come across something that just amazes you. That is this book. In some ways, it's two books in one. You can read it just as a graphic novel or you can use it as how to book for drawing. I loved David's enthusiasm as he returned for each lesson and how each lesson built upon the previous ones. While this book won't teach you advanced drawing techniques, it's perfect for those who are just starting out, young and old alike. Follow along with David and as you master each technique, open the book back up and see what Becky is now teaching him! I may not be an artist, but this book is one that will happily be joining my other graphic novels on the shelves and one that I will recommend to any art teacher who will listen.


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Free eBook Opportunity!

Posted by Katrina Roets at 7:21 PM

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


This is the complete Steampunk Fantasy novel – all four parts of the serial in one volume! Human life has value. The poor living in the gutter is as valuable as the rich living in a manor. The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint. Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed. Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.


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Pauline CreedenPauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.
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Crockpot Monday: Caramel Apple Cider

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Monday, September 26, 2016

This recipe combines two of my favorite things, caramel and apple! I love apple cider on its own but who can resist adding in the delicious flavor of caramel? Not this girl!

4 cups apple cider
3 Tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons whipped cream (optional)


Use a 2-quart slow cooker.  Mix everything together, except for whipped cream. Stir and cook on low for about 4 hours. Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream (if desired).

Leftovers refrigerate and reheat well (in the microwave).


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Book Review: Fifth Column

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:54 AM

Friday, September 23, 2016

At first glance, the young woman found in the early hours of the morning where bombs have landed is just another casualty of the previous night's air raid. But when the post-mortem shows signs of strangulation, Detective Inspector Jago is called on to investigate.

The dead woman is smartly dressed but carries no identification. However, a local engineering company reports a staff member has failed to appear at work that morning and the body is quickly identified as that of Miss Mary Watkins.

DI Jago's initial interviews yield little fruit; no one can think of a reason why Mary would be murdered. But as the investigation continues DI Jago begins to uncover a trail of deception and betrayal.

As someone who has read everything Agatha Christie has ever written and every Sherlock known to man, I couldn't resist a good mystery when it was offered to me. I'm glad I didn't. While it took me a little bit to get into it, by the time I reached the end, I was regretting that I hadn't read the first book in this series.

Let me explain. This book is the second book in the Blitz Detective series. Why did I regret not reading the first book? Not because I needed to for this one to make sense, but because this one was good enough to make me want to go back. The author does a fantastic job of painting a picture of what London was like during the blitz. The characters were real and there were plenty of them for you to try to figure out the "whodunnit". I'll confess! I figured out tiny pieces of it but the whole picture took me by surprise. For me, those are the best kind!

So, if you get a chance to pick up this book, I can happily say that I think you should!


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Send Roger to Sea

Posted by Katrina Roets at 4:49 PM

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you probably recognize the image to the left. It's the incredible design that was made for us by Nick Davis of Alt-World Studios. I bet some of you even know why I asked him to make it for us. I'm writing here today for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about though...

If you've been around for a while, you know that I have two boys. Today, I want to tell you about my youngest. His name is Roger and he's 15 years old. He's also a musician and an honors student. As part of his science honors courses, he was invited to go on a science research trip to Dominica next summer. It's one of those amazing once in a life time opportunities. Sadly, it also comes with an amazing price tag. One that I've told him that I will help him find a way to pay.

You see, I wasn't given many opportunities when I was his age and I know the value of a trip like this. It's his chance to explore the world, to learn about a region about as different from here as you can get. It will give him an opportunity to work in a scientific environment with people of all different nationalities. If we want to get practical, it will look incredibly good on college resumes. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that not everyone gets to have but it's here in front of us and I want to make it happen for him.

Working Hard During Summerfest
Most of you know that right now I'm not capable of working outside of the house. That doesn't mean that I don't work..I do. I work for a friend of mine writing tweets for companies every week. The pay helps keep gas in the car but it's certainly not enough to cover something like this and as his mom, I'm willing to do what I can to help him make his dream come true.

I say help him because whenever he can, he takes his tenor sax into town and plays outside of restaurants. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed my #SaxOnTheStreets photos. Those are all of him doing what he does. People have been great about throwing a dollar or two into his case, but it just isn't enough.

Here's where I'm hoping you can come in. He has set up a GoFundMe at as part of our efforts. Some friends have donated some great reward tiers so it's not "money for nothing." You will get something in awesome reward and our undying gratitude. He also has shirts and other items for sale over at TeePublic and gets a small amount for each item sold. If you're at all local to Hastings, MI or the surrounding area, he has an ongoing can drive going.

We're not giving up until this is paid for...but it would be a lot easier if folks would help out by donating (a direct donation can be made via PayPal to close2midnight at or spreading the word. The more eyes that get on things, the easier it is.

Thanks guys for reading and for helping a mama out!


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Crockpot Monday: Boston Tea Punch

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:00 AM

Monday, September 19, 2016

Now that the weather is turning cooler, I can't wait to start creating some nice warm drinks! The only thing missing will be the fireplace to drink them in front of!

2 cups water
2 black tea bags
1/2 cup rum
2 ounces Triple Sec
2 tablespoons sugar
8 lemon slices (about 2 lemons)


Use a 2 quart slow cooker. Put water into your slow cooker, and add the tea bags. Pour in the rum and triple sec. Stir in the sugar. Wash lemons well, slice, and float the slices on top. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or on high for about 2 hours. When thoroughly hot, remove tea bags (you can squeeze them just a bit to get out more tea flavor, if you'd like) and discard. Ladle into pretty mugs and serve.


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Book Review: Four Bullets

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:00 AM

Friday, September 16, 2016

Drake and Captain Marsden rode together with a crew of morally ambiguous men for years before a deadly falling out resulted in the death of the one Marsden and Drake held dearest.

Now, Captain Marsden prepares to end his former pupil and friend once and for all. Drake is captured and brought to the town of Matherton, where five opponents await him, all of whom desire his blood by the bucket. If Drake can find and kill these assassins before they kill him, he will be allowed to leave the town alive, with a caveat:

He only has four bullets.

Whew! Talk about genres I don't usually dive into! In fact, I just spent too much time trying to decide what genre I'd put it in. I'm going to go with Western but really that doesn't begin to sum up this book.

The Good: Holy visuals. Seriously. I have a pretty vivid imagination and more than once I had to close to book, take a few deep breathes and then dive back in. The fact that I did dive in speaks to the quality of the writing and storytelling. Each of the opponents was clearly thought out and the darkness that fueled their tales was clearly felt throughout the entire book.

The Bad: Hmm..I honestly can't come up with much. There was one part that I thought broke continuity but at the time I also thought perhaps I had somehow missed something during some tired reading. Even if it is the case, it wasn't enough to really disrupt the story. The same goes for a couple of editing errors that I found. You guys know that I tend to be picky about that kind of thing.

The Summary: If you like dark and violent, you're going to love this book. Seriously. If violence or gore bothers you, give it a pass. Honestly, that's all I can say other than to tell you to head over to Amazon and order your copy today.


I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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