Friday, April 29, 2016

Playing the Part by Jen Turano Book Review

Book Reviewed:
Playing the Part by Jen Turano

Book Summary:

While enjoying her life as an actress on the rise in New York City, Lucetta Plum's life is quickly turned upside down from a fan's visit, whose interest becomes threatening. Having to quickly rely on the help from Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, and her bodyguard, Mr. Skuckman, Lucetta is quickly whisked away to safety. Lucetta's temporary safe harbor just happens to be Lucetta's friend Abigail's grandson, Bram Haverstein's, estate. 

Bram Haverstein appears to be the mysterious type, whose career is a mystery, and whose eccentric ways leave others wondering who he really is. Although, deep down Bram is quiet the gentleman who seems to be very aware of the needs around him, both human and animals.

The plot twists and thickens as strange things begin to happen at Bram's estate, leaving everyone to wonder who can be trusted, and what will happen next. Playing the Part combines a little bit of history, mystery, romance, humor, and adventure. 

My Review:

I always love discovering new authors. I was excited to have the opportunity to review Playing the Part, by Jen Turano. Booklist said this about Playing the Part: "Playing the Part: One of the funniest voices in the inspirational genre." Besides hearing great things about Turano's new book, I was drawn to its beautiful cover. I couldn't wait to receive the book in the mail, and to dive right into reading it. 

As you can see from my pictures, Playing the Part, was the perfect book to pick up and enjoy reading outdoors. I have been enjoying the beautiful Spring weather and it was nice to get outdoors and read a book that was a quick, easy read.

I have to be honest that I have mixed feelings about this book. Playing the Part, is the last installment in Turano's A Class of Their Own Series. Although I feel you could definitely read this book as a stand alone book, I think I would have liked to have read the first two books in A Class of Their Own series before reading this book. 

I have a Smash Book (see picture above) where I like to write quotes I want to remember from books I have read. I am a quote girl, words speak to me. You can see some of the quotes I love on my Pinterest page HERE. 

There were several quotes that I really liked from Playing the Part. Jen Turano has such a fun, playful writing voice about her. Not often do you come across an author that is able to write Historical Fiction (which I am a big fan of) and can add humor into the story-line as well.  

Here are a few of quotes I enjoyed while reading Playing the Part:
  • Bram Shrugged, ... "It's become known that I'm always willing to take in strays, so... people drop off all sorts of animals at Ravenwood, or people send me letters, letting me know of animals that might need my help. My staff and I spend a lot of time tracking down neglected animals, and once we find them, we bring them here to live out the rest of their lives (pg. 96)."
I am such an animal lover. I have always found so much comfort in being around animals, especially dogs. I would love to be like Turano's character, Bram, and have a place where I could rescue animals and help them find permanent, loving, safe homes. You can read about my journey of adopting rescue dogs HERE
  • Mr. Skukman (Lucetta Plum's body guard) is talking to Lucetta. "I think what you need to understand, Miss Plum, is that Mr. Haverstein is one of those rare gentlemen, a throwback, if you will, to the days of knights in shining armor. One only has to look at that staff of his, or take a trip to one of his many barns filled to the brim with the oddest assortment of animals I've ever seen, to know he possesses a strong sense of chivalry and honor (pg. 104)"....
I appreciate the fact that Jen Turano made her main male character someone who was chivalrous and whom treated women with respect and kindness. Such a nice change from the way a lot of male characters are portrayed in books these days. 

I felt that the main and supporting characters in, Playing the Part, were believable and that you were quickly drawn to them. Jen Turano did a great job of helping you paint a detailed picture of the characters in your mind. 

The part that I had a difficult time with while reading this book, was that I felt like there was too much going on in the story. The plot seemed to jump allover the place, while often times leaving you confused. I think that if the story-line would have been simplified a little bit, the plot would have moved a long at a smoother pace. Now, this does not dissuade me from picking up a different book written by the author. In fact, I appreciated Turano's laugh out loud writing style and her characters enough that I am excited to try more of her books. I have a feeling I will really like them. 
To purchase your own copy of Playing the Part by Jen Turano you can CLICK HERE to be taken to Amazon, CLICK HERE to be taken to Barnes and Noble, or CLICK HERE to shop at Bethany House (Baker Publishing). 
                                   (Author Photograph Copyright:

Want to find out more Jen Turano's books? You can CLICK HERE to visit her on Facebook, and CLICK HERE to go to her website.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the Baker Publishing Group Bethany House Blogger Program for this review. The opinions expressed in my review are unbiased and reflect my honest judgment and opinion of the book. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch Book Review

Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch 
Book Review

Watercolor has always been my favorite art medium. There is something special about the fluidity of watercolors. I love how you can produce fluid washes, as well as small, delicate details. 

Book Summary:

On the cover of the Just add Watercolor it says, "Inspiration and Painting Techniques from Contemporary Artists". Just add Watercolor features over 70 different artists and shares different tips and techniques the artists use in their artwork. The publisher stated this about the book, "Its small trim size with one painting per spread provides a bold, but user-friendly alternative to traditional, process-heavy painting instruction texts."

After flipping through a book for the first time (I am such a visual person that I love to see the pictures first), I like to flip back to the contents page to see what great things the book has to offer. I have typed up the contents of the book below, just so you can see another reason why I love this book. For a smaller book in its actual physical size, it is jam packed with with so much quality content.

Just Add Watercolor

  • Flipping through this book
  • Visual index (I love this feature in the book. It is a quick visual reference of all of the paintings featured in the book with the page number that you can find the painting on. Brilliant!)
  • What is Watercolor?
The paintings:
  • Traditional watercolor
  • Gouache
  • Digital
  • Mixed media
  • Other water-based media
  • Non-paper media
Watercolor fundamentals:
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • What next?
The back of the book also gives a reference to where you can find out more information about each of the artist's featured. I loved this because I instantly had another tool at my finger tips to help me with my creative process. I think that by studying other artist's artwork and art processes, that it can help you in your own individual art journey. 

My Review:
I read every single page of Just Add Watercolor and I think that whether you are a beginner or an advanced watercolor enthusiast, you need to read this book.  
I also appreciated what a variety of artists Helen Birch featured when compiling Just add Watercolor. Birch shares your traditional watercolor artists, as well as more contemporary watercolor artists with the reader. 

Each of the paintings featured in this book are gorgeous. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite. I will say that I have been a fan of the artist, Yellena James, for several years now. You can see a sample of her artwork above. I love the uniqueness and inorganic beauty of her work. 

I love how you can simply pick up the book, turn to any page to start reading, and you don't necessarily have to read the book in order. You can simply start with the page that speaks to you, to continue your art journey. 
There are so many beautiful pages full of inspiration in this book. I was so excited to start implementing some of my favorite techniques and tips into my own artwork. The book helped remind me of why art has always been such an important part of my life. You can see one of my latest paintings and my art process in this blog post
Helen Birch's Just add Watercolor book inspired the fun art lesson I did with my daughters, nieces, and sister-in-law above. Specifically this page, pg. 84, "Setting the horizon line", featuring artist Simona Dimitri
You can CLICK HERE to find out more details and to see more pictures.

To purchase your own copy of Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch you can CLICK HERE to be taken to Amazon and CLICK HERE to be taken to Barnes and Noble.

                                        Helen Birch
     (Author Photograph Copyright:

Want to find out more about Helen Birch? You can CLICK HERE to go to her Twitter page, CLICK HERE to visit her on Pinterest, CLICK HERE to go to her Instagram Account, and CLICK HERE to go to her website.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions expressed in my review are unbiased and reflect my honest judgment and opinion of the book. 

This "Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch Book Review" first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on March 18, 2016. 

1920's Lindsey Watercolor Painting

Today I thought that I would share with you a little bit of the process I go through when I am creating a watercolor painting. Watercolors have always been a big part of my life ever since I was old enough to pick up a paint brush.

My beautiful Mother (who draws the most darling pictures and paints the most beautiful paintings) always encouraged my sisters and I to explore our artistic abilities growing up. Creativity was a big part of our childhood. As I got older I was encouraged and inspired by many wonderful art teachers as well.

One teacher that I will always be grateful for that made me believe in myself as an artist, was my High School Art Teacher, Ms. Lisa Lyle-Bly. I will never forget her encouragement and the way she made me feel like I  had talent that I should continue to pursue. For a teenager, that meant a lot. It still does.

Now that I am a mother I am blessed to have two daughters that enjoy art as much as I do, and art (in all its forms) is a constant staple in our lives. I should also say that I am thankful for a husband that is patient with all of our artistic endeavors. Even when our art projects take over parts of the house for a while. Love ya babe!
Enough about my watercolor passion, now let's move onto my painting. Sometimes I see something that sparks an idea, that I can't get out of my mind. My "1920's Lindsey" watercolor painting started this exact way.

I gave this painting the title of "1920's Lindsey" because the finished piece reminds me of what my little sister would have looked like is she would have grown up in the roaring 20's. :)

While browsing my Vintage Fashion Pinterest Board one night (awe Pinterest, how I love you too), I found the most gorgeous 1920's dress that you can see in the first picture above. I would dress in clothes from the 1920's everyday if I could!

I then found some gorgeous vintage photographs that I decided to reference for hairstyles, so that the hair would be draw accurately to the time period.

Last but not least, I have always loved the picture of Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss Everdeen, in a Hunger Games book my youngest daughter gave me a couple of years ago. Side note, The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2, is being released this coming Tues., March 22nd. I love both the books and the movies in the Hunger Games Series.

Here is my finished sketch I did on cold press watercolor paper, using pencil.
I always love to mix my watercolors to get the perfect color I am looking for. I then start adding a few watercolor washes to the main areas of the painting.
You can see in this picture that I have used a smaller paintbrush to add some fine details to the painting.
Here is the finished painting above and an up-close view below. I was very happy with how the painting turned out. Creating this blog post made me realize that I somehow need to make more time in my schedule to paint. Painting not only brings me joy, but it also brings a nice balance to my life.
Happy Painting and have a fabulous weekend!
Do you want to see more of my artwork? Simply CLICK HERE!

This "1920's Lindsey Watercolor Painting" first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on March 18, 2016. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Currently I Love...Journaling Page Freebie

Currently I Love...Journaling Page Freebie 
with Artistically Shauna
(featuring an original watercolor illustration by Shauna P. Williams, of Artistically Shauna)
 Hello! I hope that you are doing well this beautiful March day. I wanted to share with you a new "Currently..." journaling page I created for my daughters and I to fill out. "Currently..." journaling pages are such a fun and quick way to record what is going on in your life at the moment. My daughters and I are all big journal writers. We love filling these "Currently..." pages out together and then sharing them with each other.
All of our "Currently I Love..." pages filled out. 
As you can see we filled these papers out at the end of February. 

My "Currently I Love..." answers:
  1. Currently I love listening to, "Come Undone", by Duran, Duran, and "Bad Blood", by Taylor Swift. 
  2. Currently I love readingRoom for Hope, by Kim Vogel Sawyer. i finished this book and you can read my review here
  3. Currently I love eating, Chobani Greek Yogurt - Lemon Blend. 
  4. Currently I love watching, the last season of Downton Abbey (so sad that all good things have to come to an end).
  5. Currently I love spending time with my cute kids.
  6. Currently I love seeing my roses beginning to bud outside (now the buds are leafing out, yay for Spring approaching).
  7. Currently I love having time to read more, draw more, and take care of myself more. 

 My 11 year old daughter's "Currently I Love..." answers:
  1. Currently I love listening to, the new "Jem and the Holograms" Soundtrack.
  2. Currently I love reading, The Invention of Hugo Cabret  (by Brian Selznik)
  3. Currently I love eating, pepperoni. 
  4. Currently I love watching, Bunk'd (Disney)
  5. Currently I love spending time at school enjoying recess. 
  6. Currently I love seeing my wheat plant grow (Little Blonde learned all about wheat at school and got to plan their own plant. I was amazed how fast wheat grows.).
  7. Currently I love having a fun time sewing and dancing. 
My 9 year old daughter's "Currently I Love..." answers:
  1. Currently I love listening to, the new "Jem and the Holograms" Soundtrack.
  2. Currently I love reading, Dork Diaries (by  Rachel RenĂ©e Russell)
  3. Currently I love eating, pizza and salad. 
  4. Currently I love watching, Jem and the Holograms (movie)
  5. Currently I love spending time dancing and doing cheer. 
  6. Currently I love seeing my Dad come home (my husband just got back from a business trip).
  7. Currently I love having no school (we filled this out on a day they had off of school). 
Notice that I changed the journaling page title at the top by saying "Currently I Love...", instead of just "Currently...". That may change your answers slightly. 
  • You can choose to print the journaling page two different ways. First, you can print the journaling page as is, a standard 8 1/2 x 11 size. Secondly, you can choose the "print two to a page" option in your printers settings (before printing), and then you will get two smaller sized journaling pages. 
  • I chose to print the larger size page for myself. I then folded the "Currently..." page in half and attached it to one of my journal pages with some fun Washi Tape.
  • My daughters wanted smaller copies of the "Currently.." journaling page, so that they could glue their page directly into their journals.
To download your own FREE copy of my "Currently I Love..." journaling page, CLICK HERE. If you share your "Currently.." page through social media, add the tag #currentlywithartisticallyshauna so we can find you. 

This "Currently I Love...Journaling Page Freebie" first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on March 8, 2016.