Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by Alyona Nickelsen

33866626Title: Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life
Author: Alyona Nickelsen
Source/Format: Blogging For Books; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Art
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill; June 20, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Colored pencil painter Alyona Nickelsen reveals how to use the medium to push the limits of realistic portraiture...

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits provides straightforward solutions to the problems that artists face in creating lifelike images, and will prime readers on the intricacies of color, texture, shadow, and light as they interplay with the human form. In this truly comprehensive guide packed with step-by-step demonstrations, Nickelsen considers working from photo references versus live models; provides guidance on posing and lighting, as well as planning and composing a work; discusses tools, materials, and revolutionary layering techniques; and offers lessons on capturing gesture and expression and on rendering facial and body features of people of all age groups and skin tones...
This was a book I was honestly interested in reading from a purely learning viewpoint. Colored pencils aren’t a medium I typically use often. So, it was only a given that I wanted to know more about what could and couldn’t be done with them from the perspective of someone passionate about the medium. When I saw Alyona Nickelsen’s new book available for review, of course I signed up for it. I’m glad I did, because Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life was a comprehensive look at the art of creating portraits not with paint, but with colored pencil. Alyona’s process—techniques and paper preference among other things—was truly interesting to read about.

I’ve always liked colored pencils, but after reading this book I’ve got a new respect for the medium. Nickelsen is truly a pioneer in colored pencil art. She didn’t just learn how to create amazing pieces, but she also studied her medium too. Her writing showed her enthusiasm and technical know-how on the subject in a concise and organized manner. One of my favorite quotes was from the afterword of this book:

“Making and implementing a goal (in art and beyond) is sometimes not that straightforward, but if you know what you like, you are already halfway there. The other half is just figuring out how to get there.”(p.172).


There’s just something I find so inspiring about the above passage. I think it has to do with the fact that advice like that can apply not just to art, but writing (and blogging, Etc.) as well. And while I will use colored pencils more, my focus is still on working with watercolor and gouache. However, this book still had a lot of good advice, and gave me a lot to think about in terms of how I layer and mix my colors. Suffice it to say, I will definitely keep this one on my shelf for future reference.


Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Alyona Nickelsen, born and raised in Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1999, where she pursued a successful career as a professional artist. Alyona has dedicated her life's work to advancing colored pecvil painting techniques and promoting her favorite medium. To do this, she had developed a range of methods and materials that allow the once-limited colored pencil medium to challenge such traditional favorites as oil paints in most performance aspects. Alyona's art has received numerous awards and recognitions, and has been featured in a number of national and international publications, including The Artist's Magazine, International Artist, and Colored Pencil magazine. Alyona is the author of the bess-selling book Colored Pencil Painting Bible, which is highly praised by artists at all levels of expertise, has an impressive base of fans and followers, and has been translated into Chinese and Korean languages. Alyona Nickelsen currently resides in the state of Texas with her family and continues researching, teaching, creating, and inspiring.  Visit her website at www.BrushAndPencil.com...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Monday (26) Daft Punk & Nero

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I’ve been listening to a lot of film soundtracks lately—I blame all the movies I’ve been watching. **cough-cough Wonder Woman…cough** Of course, I’ve gone back and listened to Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy Album, and Pacific Rim’s entire OST. Anyway, my first pick this week is Derezzed by Daft Punk. This is one of my favorite songs from the Tron Legacy soundtrack.


I also started listening to Nero again because I was looking for music that had a Tron Legacy-ish vibe. And I found what I was looking for. Honestly, I can’t believe I forgot how much I liked Nero’s music. So, my second pick is Promises.

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friday 56 (107) & Book Beginnings: The (Fabulous) FIBONACCI Numbers by Alfred S. Posamentier & Ingmar Lehmann

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
**Note from Breana: Adri wanted to try out The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings. However, she is busy today so I will be around to answer comments and visit other blogs.**
909093Synopsis from Goodreads...

The most ubiquitous, and perhaps the most intriguing, number pattern in mathematics is the Fibonacci sequence. In this simple pattern beginning with two ones, each succeeding number is the sum of the two numbers immediately preceding it (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ad infinitum). Far from being just a curiosity, this sequence recurs in structures found throughout nature - from the arrangement of whorls on a pinecone to the branches of certain plant stems. All of which is astounding evidence for the deep mathematical basis of the natural world.

With admirable clarity, two veteran math educators take us on a fascinating tour of the many ramifications of the Fibonacci numbers. They begin with a brief history of a distinguished Italian discoverer, who, among other accomplishments, was responsible for popularizing the use of Arabic numerals in the West. Turning to botany, the authors demonstrate, through illustrative diagrams, the unbelievable connections between Fibonacci numbers and natural forms (pineapples, sunflowers, and daisies are just a few examples). In art, architecture, the stock market, and other areas of society and culture, they point out numerous examples of the Fibonacci sequence as well as its derivative, the "golden ratio." And of course in mathematics, as the authors amply demonstrate, there are almost boundless applications in probability, number theory, geometry, algebra, and Pascal's triangle, to name a few.

Accessible and appealing to even the most math-phobic individual, this fun and enlightening book allows the reader to appreciate the elegance of mathematics and its amazing applications in both natural and cultural settings...
Beginnings: “With the dawn of the thirteenth century, Europe began to wake from the long sleep of the Middle Ages and perceive faint glimmers of the coming Renaissance.”

56: “Although our focus is largely about the Fibonacci numbers, we should not think of Fibonacci as a mathematician who is known only for his now-famous sequence of numbers that bears his name.”
Comments: There is a long story as to how I found about this book. For now, let’s just say I was intrigued by the relationship of the golden ratio and the golden spiral–which is prevalent in both art and nature. Then I was further drawn in by the periodicity of both the numbers and equations the Fibonacci numbers can make. I just had to find out more, so I went to my library and picked this book up.

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight (Starflight, #1)Title: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
Source/Format: Purchased; eBook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Disney Hyperion; February 2, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
Melissa Landers is one of those authors who has been on my radar for a while. So, back when Starflight was on sale I went ahead and bought a copy with every intention to read it. Well, I have finally accomplished that, and let me tell you, this story surprised me in a good way. I’m going to be honest. The first couple of chapters of Starflight were just okay. I didn’t have the easiest time getting into the book, but once everything was set up and the characters were introduced, the story got really interesting.

Before starting Starflight, I never really read the full synopsis. What I knew about it came from the praise I saw around the time of the books initial release. The fact that it was set in space was enough to get my attention, because I haven’t read enough young adult science fiction outside of the Illuminae Files series. So, I was looking forward to Starflight.

The space travel aspect was a lot of fun to read about. Part of Starflight’s charm is the characters, especially the mc, Solara Brooks. Her backstory was a point of interest, and her POV was a definite highlight. I liked the fact that she was willing to take risks to protect herself. She made mistakes, but was given the capacity to own up to them. Then there was Doran Spaulding. Doran started off as a stereotypical rich guy who also happened to be a conceited jerk. He was intentionally mean and the friction between him and Solara wasn’t easily solved, but that’s what made the story interesting. The crew of the Banshee was amazing. They were kind of eccentric and kept their secrets, but it was hard not to like them and the dynamics aboard the Banshee.

Starflight was really good, and I look forward to reading more works by Melissa Landers.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Friday 56 (106) & Book Beginnings: The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
26074093Synopsis from Goodreads...

In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past . . . before their past unravels them. Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever. But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts...
Beginnings: ""Nothing," Max said disgustedly, peeling away from the window."

56: "When they reached the second floor, however, the source of Miss Fitch's bad mood became immediately apparent." 
Comments: I saw this one at a library and decided to get it because it seems like an interesting story. So far, I like it. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Griffin; March 28, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire...
Last year, I read The Star-Touched Queen and it was magical. I was thoroughly enamored by the story, characters, and the world that Roshani Chokshi created. Obviously, A Crown of Wishes was one of my most anticipated 2017 book releases. And you know what? The wait was worth it. A crown of Wishes was fantastic. It surpassed all of my expectations in the best way possible. It also made a clear return to places like Bharata and took another look at the politics and continued conflict that have so thoroughly influenced the lives of the characters.

Honestly, this was just a great story. There was magic, myth, danger, and wishes—all things I happen to like reading about. I can’t forget about The Tournament of Wishes since it was one of my favorite parts of A Crown of Wishes. It was kind of amazing. There was magic, but there was also danger partially in the form of the trials and fellow guests. Chokshi was successful at portraying a vivid picture of the scenery that made up the tournament grounds, the challenges, and the guest who were present. But all of that was combined with characters that were at once charming, cunning, dangerous, and determined.

There are so many characters I could choose to talk about, but I’m just going to focus on the main two: Vikram and Gauri. Vikram was interesting, but I don’t want to say too much about him. What I will say is that he was intelligent and cunning, as promised by the synopsis, but there was more to him than that. What truly got me excited for this book was the fact that one particular character from The Star-Touched Queen was going to get her own story. I remember Gauri from the first book. I always liked her character. Even though her scenes were few they were meaningful to Maya, and more importantly, memorable. Gauri was such a layered and complex character. She went from being introduced back in the first book as just a child, to someone hardened by circumstances and experiences. She was strong but haunted by her past and also vulnerable. I particularly liked her determination to do right by the people of Bharata. I have to admit though that I preferred when Gauri and Vikram were together. Their banter and interactions with one another were priceless.

Well, I could just keep gushing about A Crown of Wishes all day. There were so many things I loved about this story, but I just don’t want to spoil anything. Needless to say, I will just be over here waiting for Roshani Chokshi’s next book.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Music Monday (25) Halsey, Hayley Kiyoko, Aanysa X Snakehips, & Ibeyi

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Adri: My choices for Music Monday today are basically two songs that have been stuck in my head for the past month. My first pick is Burn Break Crash by Aanysa X Snakehips. I love it simply because it always makes me want to sing along and dance. Plus, I can't forget it...


My second pick is River by Ibeyi. Even though I find it kind of simple (less instrumental sounds than other songs I listen to) it really draws me in, just like Burn Break Crash did.

Breana: Once again, I was going through some of my old playlists from years ago, and I happened to come across This Side of Paradise by Hayley Kiyoko. I actually forgot about this song for a while. Here’s a fun fact: Hayley Kiyoko actually played Velma in the two live-action Scooby-Doo movies, Curse of the Lake Monster & The Mystery Begins. I totally did not know that until I looked up Hayley Kiyoko while working on this post, to see if she had any new music out. 


My second pick this week is Strangers by Halsey featuring Lauren Jauregui. First off, NEW MUSIC BY HALSEY, YESSSS! I have been waiting for Hopeless Fountain Kingdom for what seems like forever, but now it’s out. Strangers is one of my favorite songs from the album.

What are you listening to this week?

Musing Monday (69) So Many Questions...

Rules: 
  • Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker that asks you to muse about something book related each week. 
My musings for the week...

I haven't done Musing Monday in a really long time, and I wanted to participate because there were so many good questions that I missed. I just couldn't pass up the chance to answer them.

Question from April 10 th: What’s the coolest name you have ever seen in a book? Would you name your offspring after said fictional character?

Uh, I don't think I would necessarily name a child after a fictional character. While some of those names are cool and catchy, there are some that are kind of out there. I mean, it works for the character, but unless this name is absolutely magical and lovely (and I have an inexplicable and burning need to stake some claim on it) then I'm going to have to say no on that one. As for the coolest name, I really can't think of one right now.

Question from April 3rd: Are there any songs that make you think of certain books or scenes from books? If so, which songs/books?

This is an interesting question. Sometimes I listen to music while I read, but I never really likened any songs specifically to any of the books I've read. I just have that go-to playlist that I automatically listen to. This is something to think about though, and I could probably put together a list later, if I feel like it. Who knows...
Question from March 27th: What was your favorite picture book as a kid?

The entire Amelia Bedelia series. I just remember that when I was a kid I found the stories to be incredibly funny. 

Question from April 17th: Do you have a favorite time of day to read?

I don't have a favorite time of day to read. I just read whenever and I say that because if I'm reading a particularly good book, then I usually stay put for hours on end, or read off and on all day. There just isn't a specific time. 

Question from May 1st: Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

For this one, its not really a question of either or because I prefer both of them. I enjoy fiction because there are too many great stories I would miss if I only read nonfiction. However, this also works vice versa too because I could say the exact same thing about nonfiction. There are a wide range of subjects I like to read about, and also enjoy when I happen to come across some obscure historical or an interesting fact concerning anything science/astronomy related.

Other Musings...

Since I don’t want to just answer questions today, I thought I’d use one of the discussion topics that I didn’t have too much to say about. And that’s DNFing books. DNF is basically the abbreviated way of saying did not finish, and yeah, I know I’ve talked about why I DNF books at least once, but that was a while ago. And if you haven’t noticed, as of late, there have not been many negative reviews on this blog.

So, do I still DNF Books?

Yes, yes I do. Trust me when I say that, because I still DNF books and it happens more often than you might think. However, I just haven’t written many reviews about them. Not because I’m ashamed that I didn’t finish the book, but because I felt like doing so would be a waste of my time. Most of the books that fall into the DNF category happened to be ones I either bought or checked out from the library, so, I really have no obligation to talk about them. Because, sometimes, I just don’t have the words. So, just because I haven’t written much about any of the books I’ve recently disliked, doesn’t mean that I think everything I pick up is the most perfect object in the universe. It just means that I don’t want to write about them.

Of course, that won’t always the case, but I just wanted to mention why nothing really negative has been posted to Our Thoughts Precisely recently.

What about you? Do you write reviews for every book you read regardless of if you liked it or not?

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Friday 56 (105) & Book Beginnings: Starflight by Melissa Landers

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
21793182Synopsis from Goodreads...

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
Beginning: "What if nobody picks me? Nothing can be worse than that."

56: "Solara retreated a pace until her back met the wall. She braced herself, waiting for the owner of that enormous voice to appear, but a tiny young woman stepped onto the bridge wearing a bathrobe that dragged on the ground."
Comments: Starflight by Melissa Lander's has been on my ereader for some time now, and it's only today that I've finally gotten around to it. Suffice it to say, I'm really excited to start this one because I've heard a lot of great things about it. I haven't gotten to page 56 yet, so I don't know what's going on in the scene.

What are you reading this week?

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