ARC REVIEW: The World is a Dark and Lovely Place

After a whole month of not reading and posting reviews due to college workload, I’m finally back from a hiatus and ready to resume blogging! Today’s post is one that I’ve had prepared a long time ago but had to wait in order to publish it near the time of the book publication.

The author, Carol Chu, is currently holding a giveaway for her debut poetry collection on her Instagram until the 17th of September. It is open internationally so as long as you’re 18 and over and have permission to give your address, feel free to participate!

If you’re a Malaysian reader residing in Selangor, Carol will be launching her book on the 16th of September in Intermark Mall during the #MYWritersFest2019, 2PM alongside with 9 other Malaysian authors. I hope to see you guys there!

Continue reading “ARC REVIEW: The World is a Dark and Lovely Place”

REVIEW: Minus

cover163837-medium.pngMinus
by Lisa Naffziger

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Beck is on her way to college, thrilled at the possibilities of the next exciting chapter, barely holding it in as she clutches her childhood favourite toy in the family car with her loving dad behind the wheel. And that’s where Beck’s shared experience with the rest of her freshman class abruptly ends and the tangled mysteries of her astonishing life start to unravel. Homeschooled and raised in isolation by the jumpy, over-protective Gill, Beck isn’t allowed online or out of the house alone. Even a quick pit stop on their quiet family road trip takes some negotiation before they finally pull into a remote gas station, where their cautiously stable peace is jolted by gunfire. Beck emerges from the restroom to find her father gone and a dead body on the floor. Beck is in the world now, and she’s beyond not ready for it.

A taut suspense thriller that challenges our perceptions of family and identity, MINUS is a coming-of-age tale where a teen’s new discoveries might be best kept in the shadows.

BOOK REVIEW

3 stars
An e-ARC was given through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I remember setting it aside around the second or third chapter just because I didn’t feel like it captivated me enough, only to get back into it another day and finishing the rest of the book in one sitting.

Minus is a fast-paced thriller, family drama that starts with a very calm car ride and the main character, Beck telling her dad that she wanted to pee. Then everything turns messy after that. Throughout the book, there was a main story and flashbacks of the past that adds on to the confusion that was happening. It didn’t really make much sense to me until it was all revealed towards the end. And even still, I was confused.

I liked the idea that someone who isn’t your biological father can be more of a father to you than the biological one. It shows that loyalty and love aren’t because of blood-relations but because of time, effort and care. I also really liked that the characters were all somehow linked which made it very interesting.

Personally, it was a little too fast-paced since half the time I was confused about the flashbacks and the whole police department/ interrogation scene/big reveal made me feel very lost about who’s who. Thankfully, everything was clear to me before the final scene.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dennis Feeheley

Meet Dennis D. Feeheley, the author of ‘Travelin Man: Across the Sahara and Beyond’, a top-selling travel memoir that reached #51 on Amazon in its category. Dennis was only 19 years old when he went on this crazy adventure across the Sahara desert with his brother. At that time, there were no phones or GPS, just two young adults going on a nearly impossible journey with very little money and no idea if they were going to make it out alive. Read on to hear about the Feeheley brothers’ journey!

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Author Dennis D. Feeheley with his top-selling travel memoir!

Continue reading “AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dennis Feeheley”

BOOK REVIEW: Parallax

1552936250.jpgParallax
by Lance J. LoRusso

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Step into the Minds of Law Officers as They Confront Crime

“What is the one thing all law enforcement officers have in common?
Each knows they may not come home if they do their jobs and fulfil their oaths of office.”

In the first volume of author, cop, and lawyer Lance J. LoRusso’s new series True Crime Tales, LoRusso weaves true-life tales based on experiences law enforcement officers all over the country endure every day. Be it coming face to face with a sociopathic killer, hunting down a child predator, to grieving the loss of a fallen brother in blue, the limits of these heroes’ bravery and dedication to the law know no bounds.

Each story taps into the psyche of the men and women behind the uniform, and sometimes even the perpetrator. In “Running,” LoRusso steps into the viewpoint of a cop killer on the run, while in “Parallax,” a team of officers must outmanoeuvre a crazed robber holding up a bank. The catch? An officer’s daughter is inside. No matter the narrator—lawyer, perp, or cop—each story is written with poignancy and depth, showcasing LoRusso’s own extensive experience in the realm of law enforcement.

“Parallax”, Volume 1 of True Crime Tales, delivers the spectrum of human emotion— anguish, love, terror, and gratitude — that each and every law enforcement officer experiences in his day-to-day life, one story at a time.

BOOK REVIEW
4 STARS

*I received an advance review copy from BookSirens for free, and am leaving a voluntary review.*

Despite watching many crime shows on the TV, reading it makes it seem more real. There’s a constant reminder in my head telling me that this is what some police and detectives face on a daily basis and these are stories from their lives.

I really enjoyed reading this. Sounds totally messed up since it’s a reflection of our world and this is what actually happens and what the police and detectives deal with but I’m just so intrigued. Altogether there are 5 short stories centred around different cases and situations that each cop or someone they know faced.

Parallax shares about the lives of the police and what they go through for the sake of others. You are reminded that behind the badge, there’s a person, a family, feelings, fear and aftereffects from their job. Amongst the 5 short stories, I definitely have a few favourites. Some I could tell that I would like it from the start, some others that take me longer to like it.

I really like how LoRusso wrote each description in this true-crime tales collection, from the thought process to the subtle actions, making it seem as if I am watching the whole scene right before me. I just kept on reading and reading without letting myself have the time to feel the suspense.

LoRusso is a great storyteller and it definitely makes me want to read the second volume, and the third, and fourth, as many as there are.

Mid-Year Check-In

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Hello guys! I’ve seen many bloggers do this reading check-in and thought it would be a good thing for me to do. I’ve seen people analysing their reads from the gender and race of the author to the genre and sub-genre of the book, to the race of the protagonist — itty bitty details that helped them to identify what type of books they should read next.

I figured out this would be a fun and interesting thing for me to do too and why not show you guys!
Continue reading “Mid-Year Check-In”

POPULAR BOOKFEST 2019

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The long-awaited Popular Bookfest was held on the 1st to the 9th of June during the Hari Raya holidays week. Every year, Malaysian bookworms look forward to the incredible deals from Popular Bookstore and leave the building with a ton of debt.

I was able to go twice this year and which was great for feeding my addiction to add books to my TBR and never actually reading but terrible for my bank account and I think I need to get another IKEA bookshelf.

This year’s Popular Bookfest was held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the entrance fee was RM2.50 per ticket (free for those younger than 18 and older than 55).

Here’s what I bought:

1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

41wmScO2UaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ From Roxane Gay comes this collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

 

 

2. A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes, #1) by Jin Yong

51uCvggZ4BLChina: 1200 A.D.
The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army, is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way.

Guided by his faithful shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing must return to China – to the Garden of the Drunken Immortals in Jiaxing – to fulfil his destiny. But in a divided land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.

 

3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

9780007527526 In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumours that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects.

It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd.

 

4. The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

9780007527533There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card, he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

 

 

5. Tuesday: An Ordinary Day in an Extraordinary City by Amal Nadiah Ghazali

a10b43574f1147d6b44072aca2b89923If you think Paris is all about this fantastical image of basking in the sunshine while eating an ice cream by the Seine, or living in a fancy apartment that overlooks the whole city with a random French guy who looks like Jake Gyllenhaal, think again.

Right now I’m standing by the door of my rented studio the size of an average Malaysian kitchen, waiting for my turn to use the toilet that the whole floor has to share and when it flushes, the sound is so loud that the whole building would know you had just taken a dump.

 

6. If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

original_400_600 Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

7. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

y648 Miss Marple’s last case, Sleeping Murder, was written over 30 years before it was published and sees Miss Marple solve her final mystery.

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernise the house, she only succeeded in dredging up the past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs. In fear, Gwenda turns to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, can they solve a crime committed many years before?

 

8. The Four by Scott Galloway

412LpUNgTLLInstead of buying the myths these compa­nies broadcast, Galloway asks fundamental questions. How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid (or boycott)? Why does the stock market forgive them for sins that would destroy other firms? And as they race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, can anyone chal­lenge them?

Whether you want to compete with them, do business with them, or simply live in the world they dominate, you need to understand the Four.

 

9. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

10. The 100 by Kass Morgan

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Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.


Was I happy with this year’s selection of books?
Yes.  Despite not being able to find the two books that I wanted, I was happy with the ones I’ve found.

Is it worth it?
The entrance fee is RM2.50 to access the English hall, Chinese hall, Electronics hall and the Stationery hall. The deals are either 20%, 20% off if you buy another book with the same sticker or the daily special deals (there’s a booklet for that).

I guess it’s alright if the book deal is very good (daily specials). It definitely isn’t the cheapest since there’s the Big Bad Wolf bookfair. However, I would recommend to check out those second-hand bookstores or shops online for better deals before heading to the checkout.

Any other tips to share?
1. Definitely bring a backpack! Surprising it felt very light when I carried the books on my back rather than on one shoulder or in a plastic bag. Absolutely recommend!
2. Give a call to your friends to check if they have the same book! You can reduce money that way and perhaps start a little book club!


That’s all from me today! If you’re ever considering to come to Malaysia, come on over during the Hari Raya period where there are tons of sales for all kinds of things. The Popular BookFest is definitely one to not be missed!

– J

JUNE WRAP-UP

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Hello! It’s nice to have a chat once and a while instead of entirely having book reviews, isn’t it? It definitely is on my side and I hope to do this more in the month of July.

This June marks the fourth and last month of my internship and I was also surprised that I read a lot more books than in the past few months. It felt incredible, really, since I remember wondering if I could even find time to read when I first started my internship. It was a struggle at first but I managed.

Commuting to work for about an hour, the one-hour lunch break, the commute back and the occasional waiting for friends allowed me to find some time to read. It was a struggle to reduce my phone activity and swap it with reading but I enjoyed my reads this month so it definitely felt easier.


WHAT I READ

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

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This was my first time requesting an art book/ reference material on NetGalley and I’ve never been more amazed.

I’ve always loved art. I had many friends in high school who shared the love of art with me and this definitely miss those days. It has been a little less than two years now but I’ve been unable to spend enough time making the stuff I like.

As I was reading this, I kept taking notes of different techniques, ideas and prompts for me to challenge myself even further.

You can check out my full review here!

2. All The Lonely Hearts by Ella Rye

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The cover was what attracted me. It was absolutely stunning.

I was intrigued by the idea of poetry being inspired by music however at the time I was reading this, I did not listen to the music the poems were inspired by since I couldn’t find the playlist at the time. Either way, I still felt it was enjoyable.

You can check out my full review here!

3. Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita by Lull Mengesha and Scott Spotson

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This was a little difficult to like. I didn’t feel anything for the main character except constant secondhand embarrassment. I wanted to DNF it so many times but reasoned against it.

You can chec full review here!

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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I’ve recently joined a group on Instagram where we read Classics and a friend of mine decided to reread Little Women and of course I had to join.

Little Women is my favourite Classic. Ever since I read it 3 years ago, I’ve never stopped recommending it to whoever who asks me for a recommendation.

I don’t think I will be writing a review here but will definitely do so on Instagram so do check it out!

Instagram link


I am excited for the month of July. There’s a lot of exciting things planned and a new direction for my blog as well as my Instagram. All these you will all see very shortly.

Till then, cheers to more reading!

-J

ARC REVIEW: Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita

34839740Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita
by Lull Mengesha and Scott Spotson

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY 

Alia Tero, a planet cloned from Earth, presents both opportunity and despair for a bewildered young man named Darren Datita, who must deal with its strange rules, evolved from over hundreds of years of experimental society-building designed to enrich everyone. Everyone on Alia Tero must rotate every four months: this means leaving behind current jobs, roommates, lovers, and city of residence, to take on a fresh new life. While readers laugh at the pitfalls as Darren fumbles one new situation after the other, an undercurrent of restlessness—over just who runs Alia Tero—surfaces at unexpected moments.

BOOK REVIEW
3 STARS

*A free e-ARC was given through BookSirens. This is a voluntary review.* 

Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita is a fast-paced story that follows Darren. In Alia Tero, everyone goes through a rotation every four months where they are relocated to a new country with a new job, new home, new roommate and unable to be in contact with others from past rotations. All based on the ‘point’ system where the more points you receive, the better job you get and vice versa. From a young age, Darren wasn’t like the rest of the people around him, instead, he constantly questions the rule of the society in Alia Tero and wonders if there’s a way to revolutionize and put an end to it.

The world of Alia Tero was thought-out quite well. The rotations made it seem as if it was absolutely impossible to get together to conspire against the leaders, the school curriculum discouraged thinking out of the box and everyone did as they were told. Despite that, there were some who tried their best to do so.

I enjoyed the story when it first started, however, it became rather boring in the next few chapters. I couldn’t get myself to like the protagonist or even have any feelings for him other than secondhand embarrassment. It was difficult for me to motivate myself to read it but I managed to push on because of the short chapters. Still, there were a few things that didn’t sit well with me. It was extremely fast-paced, to a point where some events happened just for the sake of information and understanding, making it a bit sloppy in my opinion.

Overall, it’s a light read that I definitely needed so I enjoyed that quite a lot.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Tia Wins

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while now, the name “Tia Wins” might ring a bell. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Tushnamaity,  the author of Flock in A Closet and A Word to the Wise, who goes by the pen name ‘Tia Wins’.


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Tia Wins named as Tushnamaity Davierwala (at birth) born on 8th October 1994 in a Parsi family brought up in a small town close to Mumbai, a common girl with millions of uncommon dreams, author of the book “Flock In A Closet: A profound and intense collection of relatable poems” is a poet and an influential writer, observing even the very minute of the aspects and interpreting those in her own unique way makes her special.

Having her own lens to life rather than reside on the already been ‘dwelled on’ beliefs she holds a perspective beyond any other. Her newest book, “A Word to the Wise: Wear My Perspective to Change Your Perception” shares her viewpoint that’ll change your perception in a way that sets you to wonder how there could be a fourth angle to a triangle of any particular situation.


GOODREADS

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FLOCK IN A CLOSET                     A WORD TO THE WISE 
REVIEW                                             REVIEW


INTERVIEW

  1. Hello Tia! Congratulations on your second book, ‘A Word to the Wise: Wear My Perspective to Change Your Perception’! I’m sure others would love to hear what is it about so could you give 3 words to summarize your book?
    It’s Your Story:
    Just as its name (which is also a phrase “A word to the wise is sufficient”) suggests it is a short word to people who are wise enough to take a hint from each quote and not needing a long explanation for it. The reason why I haven’t elaborated on it is that most of the quotes in the book are multi dimensional where only the reader can link his/her unique story to that quote and I bet 90% readers will relate cause that’s my speciality when it comes to writing. 
  2.  You’ve previously written a poetry collection, ‘Flock in A Closet’ and now you have a quote collection, which did you prefer writing more?
    Both. Each of my write up is very very close to my heart and each of which holds my secrets that may be I’ll never disclose to anyone.
  3. What’s your inspiration behind ‘A Word to the Wise’? Do you have a favourite quote from it?
    The inspiration behind “A Word To The Wise” is nothing more than my experiences or experiences others may have had or things and people I might have closely observed (as I am very observant) , emotions I feel too deep as compared to other people I have known, a purpose to help people out the ones who are fixed in the complexity of their own fluctuating thoughts mostly teenagers and those who just stepped in their twenties and a great need to share my heart out.My favourite quote from the book is:
    Almost all but let me share some of my top favourites:
    1) “If you deceive me your dog’s ticks will bite you.”
    (Dog’s ticks here is “Vikarma” )

    2) Story of one-sided love:
    “I didn’t fall you, I collapsed.”

    3) “If you play the dim chord of my heart,
    I might no more sound a melody.”

    4) “When life doesn’t give you sarees drape bed sheets
    Don’t wait for happiness, create it!”

    5) “I am no intellect
    I am just hit by reality
    Knocked down by life
    And loved by my will.”

  4. I’m sure it was difficult to choose which quote to be included in your book. What made you choose one quote from another?
    I had nearly 300 quotes and as I love every bit of what I write So, now you know how tough it might have been for me to pick best 169 to 170 quotes of those so many. I tried picking up the most sane of all and keeping the length of the book enough to afford at the pocket for all my readers.
  5.  About your poetry collection, the title ‘Flock in A Closet’ is an interesting title. What does that mean?
    “Flock In A Closet” for me actually means feelings and thoughts long locked up in a closet of my heart and mind.
  6.  Do you have plans for a third book? What type of genre would it be?
    Yes! I do have a plan for my third book I am not really sure about what genre it would be because I have been working on multiple projects like I want to write;
    1) a poetry book
    2) A novel or maybe a self-help book
    3) a quote book with some new concepts to talk about
    Whichever I complete first will be out as my third book.
  7. What’s the biggest takeaway from ‘A Word to the Wise’?
    It’s to peep deep into your soul and dig out your reality!
  8. In your opinion, how does one become successful?
    I’d say, when you wanna succeed in life just talent and hard work won’t do…you need to have determination, dedication, patience, the ability of right decision making, a self-forgiving and learning attitude…

    Well, and most importantly BRAINS!!!

  9. Where else can we find you on social media?
    You can google me: Tia Wins and click on “more about Tia Wins” it’ll show up my social profiles follow the tabs and you’ll get my pages.
    I am on,
    Instagram: @tiawinsofficial
    Twitter: @Ms_Smarthead
    Youtube: Tia Wins
    Facebook: Tia WinsI have Goodreads, Amazon and Notionpress author pages in name Tia Wins and you can follow me there too.

SKAVANSIEUR is now offering author interviews (questions regarding the author) and book interviews (questions regarding your book). Email skavansieur@gmail.com for any inquiries.

REVIEW: Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration is exactly what it’s title says! A compact and easy to understand guide to illustrating on the go! From experimenting with different mediums to even little projects, this book is sure to stimulate your creativity and help you learn more about illustrating while out and about!

cover163980-mediumAnywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration
by Betsy Beier

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

With the approachable instruction and contemporary approach to drawing featured in Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration, aspiring creatives of all backgrounds can learn how to make illustrative art on the go using pencil, pen, colored pencil, and more.

Learn how to make art inspired by your immediate surroundings, wherever you are—whether traveling abroad or exploring at home. Use your art and creativity as a means to document your experiences, capture your travel memories, and dream of new adventures.

After an overview of the suggested tools and materials, explore essential drawing techniques, such as mastering line art and gesture drawing, making quick on-location sketches, and working with color media to complement illustrations. Helpful tips include information for packing and traveling with art supplies, drawing in the open air, and working from photographs. Finally, easy-to-follow and customizable step-by-step projects show you how to creatively express yourself by combining color, pattern, texture, typography, and cultural experience with a variety of projects.

Packed with a plethora of fun and creative exercises, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration is the perfect portable resource for creative types on the go.

BOOK REVIEW

5 STARS
*An e-ARC was given by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m extremely glad that I was approved to review this book! As someone who likes art and exploring different mediums and wants to constantly improve in art, this was not only an enjoyable read for entertainment, it was also educational and helpful.

Brier uses different mediums such as watercolour pencils, markers, gouache, acrylics, watercolours and explains these mediums in ways that is easy for the typical reader to understand.  It also taught different ways to illustrate on the go – some that seem possible and simple and some that seem less possible, such as capturing a scene in a market, which I doubt I’d be able to draw from memory.

I liked how Brier included some projects to do and included a step-by-step instruction on how to do it. These projects explore the different types of mediums that were mentioned in the earlier section of the book and gives ideas on what the reader can do while illustrating on the go.  Although some of it seems strange, I liked most of the ideas and will put it to practice.

Like everything else, I believe a lot of these would be easier with time and practice.

It was within the first 20 pages where I felt determined to get a mixed media sketchbook, watercolour pencils (since I had the other mediums at home) and took down notes to try to implement into my own work. If you’re looking for something to inspire you to try out different mediums and work on improving and growing in art, this is a good book to check out!