The Art of Map Illustration by James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill, Sarah King

Art book review, who is excited?! \o/ yes!


The Art of Map Illustration: A step-by-step artistic exploration of contemporary cartography and mapmaking
by James Gulliver Hancock, Stuart Hill, Sarah King, Hennie Haworth

Keywords: art, reference, drawing, traditional illustration, digital illustration, cartography, illustrated, step-by-step, hobbies
*Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Walter Foster Publishing



Have you wondered how touristic maps are made? you know, those with cute drawings of interesting places around the city?. Would you like to try making infographics, mental maps or any kind of artistic map to portray cities, communicate ideas, tell a story, teach about a specific subject or document a moment? Then you can find a lot of inspiration and tips from these 4 artists as they show you their process of mapmaking through real projects from their portfolios.


  • Hennie Haworth shows you, step by step, how to start your illustration and the order in which you should add streets, greenery, buildings, etc. The art is fabulous and the explanations make it easy for you to achieve a similar style. Very useful for traditional artists. You can find tips on how to use and combine different media like water colors, colored pencils, markers, etc. (I’m in love with her style)


  • Stuart Hills guides you throw the process of creating maps digitally, with a lot of tips and techniques like how he achieves a rough/ handmade feeling in his designs. Some tips are only useful if you use Photoshop and Illustrator but most of them can be achieved using other programs. (One of his cool map illustrations)


  • James Gulliver Hancock shows you how he makes use of both, traditional and digital elements, to achieve organic yet modern illustrations. A lot of inspiration here for city maps as well as other types of informative illustrations (just like this one, which is an illustrated recipe).


  • Sarah King shares the traditional skills she uses for map illustration. Unlike the previous artists, her work is mostly black and white and has a very unique style where words are stylized and gracefully blend with the rest of the illustration. A lot of tips for those using pen and ink (Several of her creations)


This is not an “absolute beginners guide to cartography” or a project-based book, but it works for anyone who has a desire to express ideas through drawings or try cartography and wants to learn by watching how professionals tackle these type of projects, how cool is that?.


*I requested an eArc from Quarto Publishing Group – Walter Foster. Thank you!


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misshoneybugwonders2It would be awesome to be able to make maps and infographics based on books?. Like, a map based on The Raven Boys with POI (points of interest) with tiny drawings of the forest, cemetery, school, the abandoned warehouse and so on. Anyone likes this kind of idea?









Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

I don’t even know where to start, I loved this book and I’m sure it will remain my best read of 2018. Bam, I said it.



by Nadine Brandes

Keywords: YA, historical-fiction, Great Plague, Gunpowder Plot of 1605, fantasy, magic, conspiracy, coming-of-age, father-son, racial and sexual discrimination, drama, action, pinch of romance.

*Hardcover, 448 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Thomas Nelson



This is a fantasy/ historical fiction story set in 17th century England. The plague has claimed a lot of victims, turning them to stone. Thomas Fawkes has the plague but it is dormant and has only claimed one of his eyes, which he hides from the rest of the world behind an eyepatch. When, at his coming-of-age ceremony at St. Peter’s Color School, his father doesn’t show up to give him a carved mask that would grant him color power, Fawkes resolves to go find him and get his mask. He traveled to London where he found his father, Guy Fawkes (and those who know history will have a good idea of what was about to happen), together with a group of men who where plotting to kill the King of England. What started as a simple quest to get his mask and place in society, turned into a journey of conspiracies, power, self-discovery and the seek for truth.

Remember, remember the fifth of November…

This story revolves around the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, with a fantasy twist. In this world people can choose to command seven different colors after they get their mask. For example, brown can command brown things such as dirt, wood and anything else of that color, sort of like magic. There are two factions; Keepers and Igniters. Those who stick to using one color and those who made use of several. The differences between the two factions is what fuels most of the events of the story and ultimately the plot to kill King James. Whether you know the historical facts or not, this story is enthralling, complex and full of unexpected turns. The characters and their relationships are very organic and realistic. They change and grow and so does their bonds. Thomas was a great main character but Emma was just as great, she is wise and have guts.

I love you characters!!, even if you are not real… oh, wait…

I’m specially fond of fiction that can offer more than just entertainment and this title gave me a lot of food for thought. It also gave me feels, like, tons of them. I hated some characters, I wanted to slap others on the face, I cheered for their success and I shed tears, not like “awww sad” but more like “dammit!!! nooo!”. They really grew on me. At the end of the book, Nadine Brandes shares with us which parts of the story are true facts (heads up: most of the characters are based on real people) and 7 questions that can help you relate to the feelings and actions of the characters. I did that throughout the entire book anyway, but this list ensures that anyone can find some food for thought and something to relate to.

Already said how much I love this story; the setting, the action and fights, character growth, their relationships, many plot twists, potential for reflexion and existential questions… oh! and also, it might make you want to read History books!.

*I got my eArc from Thomas Nelson–FICTION. Thank you!


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The Magic of Sleep Thinking by Eric Maisel, Natalya Maisel

Sleep thinking?!, I usually think about how wonderful it would be to read or do something productive while I sleep, so this book got me interested right away. Took me a while to review it because I wanted to actually test it. I’ll tell you how it went but first I can give you an overview about its contents:



The Magic of Sleep Thinking: How to Solve Problems, Reduce Stress, and Increase Creativity While You Sleep

by Eric Maisel, Natalya Maisel


Keywords: non-fiction, self-help, psychology, counseling

aperback, 240 pages
Published April 18th 2018 by Ixia Press


As the the title implies, it contains a lot of pointers and techniques for solving all kinds of problems (and therefore reducing stress), change personality traits and awaken your creativity. How? by guiding, training or simply letting your brain do what it naturally does best: problem-solving. Even if this book might seem to be focused on thinking while sleeping, it also gives tips and exercises for solving problems while you are awake.

This is nothing new or magical

That is why I gave it a try, I have read about many artists, inventors, scientists and other personalities getting their breakthrough ideas from a dream or a mental state in which their conscious mind was not active (Focused vs. Diffused modes*). You can read more about it in this casual article, or this one from Scientific American. There are plenty of books in the subject with different approaches. If you have read about NLP, reframing, lucid dreaming or cognitive psychology (to name a few) then what is mentioned in this book might feel familiar to you at one point or another.

Most of the book contains examples of people using sleep thinking to solve an issue. Eric Maisel presents a 18 steps program to facilitate the natural sleep thinking process of the brain and explains each step with case studies. This can be a good way to introduce people to the subject, there are so many examples that I would expect that you can identify with at least one of them. In my case, I was a bit disappointed as I was expecting a more factual approach focusing on the method, background and troubleshooting without using so many case examples that, at some point, started feeling more like positive testimonials.

“Mark, a painter in his midthirties, had been sleep thinking creative projects for years. He virtually always went to bed with his current painting on his mind, and because he used sleep thinking so effectively, he’d become a very productive artist.”

However, I did find the method and tips given of great help in general, specially the six anxiety-management strategies, “think in 20s” exercise and 12 tips for upgrading your personality. As you can see, it gives advice for happiness and well-being in general, not just sleep thinking, so it suits best those who want an easy to understand self-help book, specially if you are new to the subject. However, If you are looking for a scholarly/ scientific approach, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Let me sleep on it…

I’m not new to sleep thinking, I just didn’t know it had a name!. I thought it was something that randomly happened to me out of sheer luck. I write dreams that I can use as story plots and many times I have woken up with a sentence that answers to an emotional problem I have had for weeks. So, more than convincing that sleep thinking works, I was looking for a method to have them more “on command” not just randomly. After 1 month, I have remembered all of my dreams every night, which is really cool. No problem solving yet (it can take a lot of time and probably doesn’t help I have tons of questions fighting for their turn), but I will keep doing the exercises suggested in the book, there is nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain from it.

“What will your experience be like? The only way to find out is to begin”

animal animal photography cat close up

Photo by Pixabay on

* I took those terms from the MOOC “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” This is probably the most popular MOOC of all times, highly recommended, they also talk about the importance and potential of the brain when it isn’t “actively” thinking.

*I got my eArc from Ixia Press. Thank you!


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Blog 1 Year Anniversary!


1 year of blogging! \o/ I have had so many first times during this year: my first spam, my first bot follower, my first eArc, my first blog friendo, my first goodreads giveaway win (and last, because no more international giveaways), my first book contest win, my first “author noticed me!” moment, my first meme that no one used, not even me, soo maaaany things in only one year! \o/  Thank you for joining me in this magical experience of blogging! I was planning to make something special for this occasion, but of course I lost track of time and *surprise~ not* I admit I keep writing reviews a day before publishing them or on the same day (like this one). You would think that after one year of blogging I’d be better at scheduling posts… but heh…




So, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!


…and expect a lot of cool changes to celebrate 1 year of WordPressland adventures 😉






Addict by Matt Doyle

Happy Midsummer!! (aka. middle of the year/ don’t forget your new year’s resolutions)

Fiction book review time!!! *standing ovation*, great option if you are looking for a pride month read which is not purely romance (like most stuff) and for the very first time, I will include some fanart. Let me know if you enjoyed this review.


(The Cassie Tam Files #1)

by Matt Doyle


Keywords: mystery, crime, sci-fi, romance, F/F, diverse MC

Published May 8th 2017 by NineStar Press



What a great read this was! It is a rare thing to have a book that you enjoy from page one. Usually it takes a while until the story gets interesting and most books have a slow start that can make some readers DNF it. Not the case here, just one paragraph and I was already immersed in a futuristic noir story. If you haven’t watched a noir film before (black and white detective movie) you might miss some of the charm of this story, at least at the beginning.

I loved the neo noir/ tech noir mood in this story


The story is about Cassie Tam, a Chinese-Canadian private investigator. Business has been low, so when a prospect customer comes knocking at her door in the middle of the night, she takes the job. Her new client is Lori Redwood, a tech shifter. Tech shifters are those who have had their body modified so they can use a metal exo-suit that enables them to shift into animals. The reason she is seeking help from a P.I. is because her brother died, apparently of an over-dose, but she refuses to accept the official story and believes that he was murdered. As Cassie and Lori try to solve this mystery, they come to learn more about each other and about the truth behind the dead of Lori’s brother. Oh, almost forgot the cute yet deadly character of the story: Bert, Cassie’s protector class AI familiar; head-sized, with metal wings and claws ready to do deathly damage and protect his owner. It reminds me of toothless and I fell in love with it, I want my own~



I liked a lot the combination of a mainly detective story with sci-fi elements (which are not only believable but interesting and thought-provoking), a retro/nostalgia feeling, diverse MC and a F/F relationship. Everything fits nicely within the story and it is well balanced for my taste: not too much romance distracting from the main plot (aka. fan service), well explained and relevant sci-fi elements, an interesting mystery with twists and turns and a satisfying ending. Even if this is the first book of the Cassie Tam Files series, it works perfectly as a stand-alone, no danger of cliffhangers!.




Fanart for Addict by Matt Doyle


*I got my eArc from the author, Thank you! I enjoyed your work.


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Power Blender Revolution by Vanessa Simkins

Food… fast food…. fast made food but healthy, yep that last one is my favorite type of food. I really can’t stand lengthy recipes that require a lot of steps and many dishes to wash at the end. I’m always tired and have limited amount of spoons, so I am a fan of quick recipes and who would have guessed that you can do so many wonders with a power blender! Do you have one? I don’t, but I was still able to test several of the recipes from this book:


Power Blender Revolution
More Than 300 Healthy and Amazing Recipes That Unlock the Full Potential of Your Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja, or Other High-Speed, High-Power Blender

by Vanessa Simkins

Keywords: cookbook, reference, healthy, low-sugar, gluten-free, vegan, diary-free, detox, easy recipes

*Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Harvard Common Press


What a great book this was! I must confess that the cover made me think it was all about smoothies or generic recipes that included blending at some point, didn’t expect much more than that. Once more, I found proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I keep doing that time and again~

The recipes are amazingly varied (fasten your seat-belts):

  • Homemade non diary milks: nut milks and creamers (macadamia, pistachio, almond, cashew, coconut, Brazil nut, walnut) rice, oat, hemp and banana milk
  • Drinks: juices, smoothies, shakes, slushies, coffee drinks, matcha drinks
  • Jams, butters and syrups
  • Guacamoles, hummuses, dips and spreads
  • All-purpose sauces, pestos and condiments
  • Dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades and spice blends
  • Smoothie bowls
  • Soups
  • Entrees
  • Vegetable sides
  • Muffins, pancakes and other quick breads
  • Desserts
  • Sorbets, ice creams and popsicles
  • Baby food purées
  • Skin products
  •  7-day cleaning plan, 3-day juice and smoothie cleanse

Drinks, sauces, dips and maybe soups weren’t surprising to see in a blender recipe book but what amazed me was recipes such as how to chop cheese on the blender, grind homemade flours, coffee and condiments, make your own butter and even natural beauty products. As I said, I don’t have a power blender but many of the recipes can still be achievable with a common blender. Look at what I made~

power blender revolution3

Blender juice without straining, just pour the stuff, blend, drink  your vitamins + fiber

power blender revolution1

Sugar cookie smoothie: it tastes deliciously sweet and yummy! (plot twist: you don’t use sugar or cookies in this recipe)

power blender revolution2

Finally made butter! (it was something I wanted to do since elementary, weird kid I know) Afterwards, I turned it into ghee.

My favorite thing about this book is that the recipes are easy to make and include normal ingredients while remaining healthy. Great for lazy days or for the hustler that can’t afford to get sick or lose time in the kitchen. It has indications for vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and low-sugar recipes and tips to make your life even easier in the kitchen. But no, no alcohol drinks here, sorry, I know some of you will be utterly disappointed.

See you soon!! I promise I will talk about fiction books soon! I guess I have been crafty and hungry lately because that is all that I have been reviewing lately.

*I got my eArc from Harvard Common Press. Thank you!


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Congratulations to The Daily Tales of Gregg Savage for 1000 Followers!

I made a little banner with a quote from a comment Gregg made in one of my favorite stories from his site, hehe, hope you like it Gregg! Congratulations!


#90 – The Tale of What a Flea Can Do



Thank you to everyone for accessing the stories! To give back to the WordPress community and to say thank you for reaching 1,000 followers, I’m giving away an Amazon Voucher for the country of your choosing worth US$50. To enter, simply: Reblog this post, AND Leave me a comment below telling me which tale you […]

via GIVEAWAY! $50 Amazon Voucher – Celebrating 1,000 Followers! — The Daily Tales of Gregg Savage

How to Draw People by Jeff Mellem

The simplicity of the title got my attention right away, I have been itching to draw book fanart, specially all my bookboyfriends (Raven Boys! TLC crew! I’m practicing to draw you as handsomely as you deserve!). As a self-taught artist in process, I once went online to search for the “best books to learn figure drawing” and bought a couple of them (I have an Andrew Loomis book on figure drawing, amazing yet daunting). That was many years ago and those books are nicely gathering dust. Truth is, what I really needed was a book to take me by the hand and play the part of the teacher with homework/ exercises. I didn’t know that, but while checking this book I realized that this title could have avoided me a lot of frustration when trying to tackle figure drawing for the first time.



How to Draw People
Step-by-Step Lessons for Figures and Poses
by Jeff Mellem

Keywords: how-to, art, instructional, guide, drawing, figure, poses, realism, human anatomy, beginners, step-by-step.
*Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by North Light Books


What makes this book special is that it starts from the simplest representation possible: the stick figure. It then adds just a small amount of complexity to it, enough to get you on the path of improving but not that much that you might feel overwhelmed or “omg, there is no way I can draw THAT from the get go”. The other great thing about this book is that it gives you exercises right after each lesson. These rather simple exercise boxes are really useful for self-taught students. They make it easy to know when to stop reading and start practicing. They also tell you what to notice and focus on while practicing.

The simple lessons are grouped in “levels”: Armature, Simplified Skeleton, Simplified Volumes, Major Anatomy and Putting it Together. At the end of each chapter (level) there’s a checklist with things you should be able to achieve before you can jump to the next level. I found this self assessment extremely helpful for avoiding frustrations and to be more aware of my progress. Most definitely recommended for beginners, self-learners and for those who have tried popular books only to end up feeling overwhelmed and incapable of drawing people. <— like yours truly

*I requested an eArc from North Light Books in exchange of a fair review. Thank you!


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The Cramm Awards and life updates

Hello everyone! Missed me? I have missed you all a lot. I have been MIA from WordPressland and mostly getting rid of my worries through art. Art is my therapy and my best way to channel all negativity into something positive and uplifting. I recently won 1 year of Skillshare premium, so I am really happy I will be able to keep learning for many months to come! Would you like me to share my creations here?.

My email has been overflowing with messages about the GDPR law and little by little I’m learning about what it is all about. So far sounds good, specially for new generations and because of the constant development in AI and big data. But my knowledge is very limited.

I recently got nominated by lovely Meghan @Meghan’s Whimsical Explorations & Reviews for the Cramm Awards! When i got notification of an award I thought “oh boy, I bet this will be a “Silent blogger award” or “where the heck are you?! award” hahahah!!! Now, lets have some fuuun!


  • Include that tidbit about who created this awesome award: theCramm (a 14 y.o. girl founder and sole writer of theCramm. Her goal? Changing the world – one Cramm at a time – and creating activists out of the next generation by informing them about the world’s happenings.)
  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • Share three things that motivate you to blog
  • Share three people who inspire you to blog
  • Share one thing you hope to do that will improve the world
  • Answer your challenge question
  • Nominate 10+ bloggers and give them a fun challenge question

3 Things that motivates me to blog:

  1. Interacting with WordPressland dwellers! it’s amazing!: friendships, lost brothers and sisters, mentors, doppelgangers, yourself, you find them all when you start a blog.
  2. My love for books, crafts, anime and lack of people with whom I can share info about these (without driving them insane sometimes).
  3. Tags and Nominations! I feel like I’m playing “pass the ball” and it is always fuuuun (and I just read Irina’s post on tags, while procrastinating and taking a break from all the questions, ohh the sweet irony, lol)

3 People who inspire you to blog:

Only 3?!!! (can I switch to 11 people who inspire me and tag only 3 friends?)

Alright, I will start with Evilcyclist’s Blog because I really like how he reviews all kinds of books and poems. The content of his blog is so good and unique. Long or short posts, it doesn’t matter, it feels like there is just the right amount of information that needs to be told and always in the most articulated way. Yep, check for yourself.

When it comes to crafty blogging, I get my inspiration from kelleysdiy. I would love to be able to make so many wonderful posts like she does! but alas, I’m quite slow at the crafting-taking pics-editing-writing-posting business. I’m trying! You’ll see on my next review of a book called Addict! There will be some eye candy.

My third inspiration is

These 3 blogs sum up what I wished my blog was: a source of knowledge full of colors, emotions and everyday life. Btw, this question is the main reason I like tags and nominations. It is the way I can show my appreciation for my fellow bloggers in a non-creepy fully acceptable way.

Share one thing you hope to do that will improve the world:

Become what I wish the world was, It is all about teaching by example, walk the talk and all that. Simple as that.

Answer your challenge question,

 How do you come up with questions such as these? Do you try to make them difficult to answer? Do you base it off of what you’re currently reading/watching? (I kinda wanna know!)

Mmmm…. It is all random, really. Thoughts I might have at the very moment I’m answering the post , plus, something that lets me know more about the way my fellow bloggers think. Some day it might even be “answer what shall I make for dinner today?” 😛

Nominate 10+ bloggers and give them a fun challenge question

And back to Irina’s post…I don’t want to spam everyone, but on the other hand I know how awesome a nomination feels, like “heey, I’m thinking about you. Here, a flower a nomination for you.” so, I will spread the love but don’t feel obligated to anything, okay? remember that fun goes first!. I’ll nominate 3 + anyone who wants to share their ideas in the comment section:

Peri , Alicia (no, I’m not nominating myself! we have the same name ^.^) and Nesha

My challenge question for you: If you were granted the ability to be a genius in something (math, economy, chef, dancer, etc) at the expense of forgetting everything else that doesn’t belong to your area of expertise (say, you are the best dancer but you suck at math, burn the food, fail at giving speeches, etc)… what would your mastery be and why?

That’s all! Have a great weekend my friends!


Hanging Kokedama by Coraleigh Parker

Okay, I waited long enough for stores to have all their summery selection but, to my surprise, none of them sell moss! Only thing I found moss-related was a chemical to get rid of it from your lawn. Who wants to get rid of moss?! I find it more beautiful than grass, I even make a happy dance every spring when moss starts growing in my pots. Oh, are you wondering why I need moss?, because I want to make my own kokedama! If you haven’t heard about it, I’ll give you some eye-candy, because pictures say more than words:

Image result for kokedama

Eventually the twine decomposes and all you are left with is a nice green ball of cuteness with enough roots to hold the soil together without any aids.

Image result for kokedama

Even if they are not hanging, they look so, so, sooo pretty. Looks like a round fairy garden.

Image result for kokedama

Okay enough, I need self-restrain because I really love how this style looks, it makes me think about fresh air, relaxing atmosphere and fantasy. They do look like something from a fairy tale or elven world, don’t you think? I haven’t given up on my quest for moss, I will order ready-made kokedama if I need to, but I rather make my own.



Hanging Kokedama: Creating Potless Plants for the Home
by Coraleigh Parker

Keywords: reference, gardening, interior design, DIY, home and living, hobbies, Japanese culture, decoration, step-by-step
*Hardcover, 144 pages
Published March 15th 2018 by Jacqui Small



About the book, it is lovely, it has a lot of big pictures that made me dream about all the different plants I want to hang from my ceiling, next to the window or beside my reading spot. I used to have a very general idea of kokedama: “a ball of soil covered in something that keeps the soil together and twine all around it, used for ferns and those kind of plants” but oh I was wrong! so wrong. First of all, there is a methodology and a reason for each material used when making a kokedama. Second, *get ready for it*, you can even create kokedama trees and seasonal plants!.

“it’s one thing to wrap up the plant in moss, it’s another thing entirely to create a home for a plant friend which he will be happy to live in for years to come.”

If you are interest about this style and would like to make your own creations, Hanging Kokedama has everything to get you started: list of materials, explanations on different soil ingredients and their characteristics (so that you can choose what will work best for your plant), different kokedama styles, shortcuts and step by step instructions with lovely images.

Most of the book focuses on instructions for making and maintaining kokedama of popular plants, organized by categories such as tropicals, succulents and cacti, tress and shrubs, herbs, bulbs, corms and tubers, epiphytes and of course, ferns. Each “plant profile” comes with scientific and common name, light, water and food requirements, growing speed and conditions, if it is pet friendly, most common concerns and a soil recipe that best fits that plant. There’s a list at the end of the book with online suppliers from around the world (in case you have same problem as me and can’t find the materials from your local shop and don’t dare to ask the neighbor for their wild growing moss.)

*I requested an eArc from Jacqui Small LLP in exchange of a fair review  Thank you!


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