Leafy Greens: Building an Appetite for a New Kind of Puzzle

Hang onto your hats, Ladies and Gents, this post is gonna be controversial!

Marijuana AKA Cannabis AKA over 1200 other nicknames including dank, weed, pot, chronic and MaryJane. With Michigan joining in with 9 other states and D.C to legalize recreational use and another 23 states that have legalized medical use; Marijuana has been growing in popularity.  Some of my friends and readers have found relief from their various illnesses due to this herb. For myself, I’m hoping Virginia expands our current status of medical use for Epilepsy only, to something more universal.

When I found out about a new puzzling brand was just starting out, I contacted them. Their puzzles aren’t on the market just yet, but they’ll be doing a Kickstarter campaign soon.

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Check out this box!

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Buzzed Puzzles, founded by Josh and Stephanie Sola; is a brainchild brought about by the repetitive themes in most puzzle images. They aren’t wrong, to find anything remotely sexy for an image I have to buy overseas! Buzzed Puzzles is about pushing boundaries, art and bringing puzzling back to the Xennial and Millennial Generations. And this puzzle, Leafy Greens, is exactly what D.A.R.E was warning you about!

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That bag? It’s a resealable, reusable zip-bag!

The box is a thin and sturdy cardboard with a tucked edge top and the puzzle came in a reuseable, resealable plastic bag. There was NO puzzle dust when I poured out all 504 pieces! IMG_4550The colors are remarkably vibrant, and the piece cuts unusual.

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I had a hard time keeping the cats off this puzzle, they were treating my desk lamp like their own personal sun lamp! Considering the subject matter, SC found this hilarious!

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I feel slightly guilty loving this image. I enjoyed putting it together, as 504 pieces is a perfect mix of ease and difficulty; and because before this, I hadn’t realized just how many colors Cannabis leaves came in! I’ll be giving this puzzle to SC for gluing and mounting!

I’ll be watching Buzzed Puzzles closely, as I desperately want 2 of their other designs, Mermaid and A Thousand Lives.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buzzed Puzzles
  • Title: Leafy Greens
  • Artist: Not Listed
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 504
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 16″ by 20″ inches
  • Bonus poster: No

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Small, compact and sturdy cardboard, 9¾” by 7″ by 1½” inches
  • Board: Thin but sturdy pieces, really good click
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin,
  • Puzzle Dust: None!!
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. You cannot pick up sections easily, but once set into the whole, it snaps in tight!

Disability Notes: YMMV I can definitely recommend this for a person whose hands have good and bad days. I did this on good hand days, but the piece size is acceptable for a bad hand day.  It took me 3 days of  good concentration to complete this, but I was fighting exhaustion and brain fog!

Where to buy:  Leafy Greens is not listed on Buzzed Puzzles Kickstarter list at this time, but many of their other puzzles will be available for funding soon!

Buzzed Puzzles : Website / FaceBook / Kickstarter

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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Uncommon Goods: Dragon Model and Literary Candles

I’m home from Convention again, and in need of a low-key kind of day.  I can’t be the only person whose mind has turned to the upcoming holidays and the dreaded shopping. Right? Thankfully, I have a friend who introduced me to Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods is an online company who does still send out paper catalogues(on recycled paper!), and is dedicated to providing gifts for the hard-to-shop-for and enviromentally friendly. While I don’t consider myself a particularity hard person to get gifts for; I do appreciate nifty, one-of-a-kind things.

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I love candles, but tend to get bored with the same scent day after day. So I jumped at a chance to try out the Mini Library of literary candles. IMG_4525

You get ten .5oz  tealight candles, each with a different scent based upon bookish inspirations! The candles are made with 100% soy wax with natural fragrances and essential oils. The label can be used as a nicely scented bookmark. So far, I’ve tried Walden Woods, which smells of greenery(cedar, fir and pine) and Burning Books, which has a cinnamon/citrus scent(cinnamon,orange,fir). Both candle’s scents are mild, not overwhelming and I cannot wait to try the other eight!

I love trying new types of crafting, and SC recommended I look at 3D models that were not brick-based. Uncommon Goods has several of these, and I liked the look of this little dragon.

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In keeping with Uncommon Goods’ goals, this is an environmentally conscious craft!
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No paper waste here! The directions are inside the flaps of the box!

I found this to be a simple, but challenging project. It can be done in 15-20 minutes, but I took my time and enjoyed the process.IMG_4535

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The pieces are individually marked, and the glue was fast-drying and not messy at all! The hardest part was placing the smallest pieces at the very end. I could have used tweezers, but instead just used the edge of a fingernail to nudge them into place.

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It came out super cute and little! I’ll definitely try another cardboard 3D model in the future!

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Where to buy: You can buy the Mini Library tealight candles for $15 USD and the Mini Dragon 3D Model for $10 USD at the Uncommon Goods Website, listed below. If you are like me, and can’t get out much to physically do your Holiday shopping, I recommend checking out their Christmas collection found here.

Uncommon Goods: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received these products for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Celebrating the Creepy and Beautifully Odd: Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s Halloween Coloring Book

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Hurricane loves the vinyl spiders!

Apparently, I’m not the only one in my house climbing the walls in anticipation of this Wednesday. the decorations are all up, the cats that will tolerate clothing have been dressed, and I’ve been binging on Halloween makeup tutorials.

With all the birthday and decorating insanity behind me, I needed a quiet day to color. For me, coloring is twofold, it relaxes me and on a bad day, it makes me feel as if I’ve gotten something accomplished.

I met with Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s husband, Matt at DragonCon. Unfortunately, due to both of us having incredibly busy schedules, we never crossed paths. But! Matt was amazingly helpful, had remembered the email I’d sent Jasmine about the blog and offered a coloring book for review. I ended up buying a second one because the best way to love an artist is to buy their stuff! (I couldn’t decide, and her art really is that good!)

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I’ve followed Jasmine’s art for years, and this coloring book blows me away! There’s a great mix of adult and child level difficulty and with the Halloween theme, the subject matters ranges from creepy to almost…cute.

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The book is full of 96 images on 55 pages of a smooth, heavy artist’s paper. While the pages are not perforated, the book can and does lay flat. Or, if you are like me and prefer to work on a clipboard, excising the pages with a craft knife is simple since the back of each page holds only text describing the picture next to it.

How does that math add up? The 96 images on 55 pages? It’s easy! Jasmine added some of her images in small quartets for a quick color session.IMG_4493

 

I did manage to finish my chosen page, The Queen of Halloween. Which was colored while listening to an audiobook and talking to the cats.IMG_4484

My Halloween Helpers, Zoomie and Pandemonium.

I wish everyone a safe, and Happy Halloween!IMG_4474

Where to buy: You can buy Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s Halloween Coloring Book (SIGNED) at her website for $29.99 USD. You can also buy her other coloring books there as well. You can also find Jasmine’s coloring books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, for a little less, but they won’t be signed! If you aren’t sure you want to invest in a full coloring book, Jasmine also has a $5 USD Coloring Tier on her Patreon.

Jasmine Becket Griffith’s Art : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this coloring book for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright © Jasmine Becket-Griffith and Copyright©Blue Angel Publishing. The coloring is mine.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Reviewing Scourge and Vengance by Gail Z. Martin: Blog Tour and Giveaway

It’s nearly Halloween and when I was asked if I was interested in participating in another Blog Tour, this time about a series with Monster Hunting brothers, I jumped on it! I hadn’t read any of Gail Z. Martin’s books before, and the premise of her Darkhurst series sounded interesting.

Time for a disclaimer; I’m given things (books, puzzles, coloring books) to review. The companies would like a good or glowing review, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Book reviews are especially tricky, as each reader experiences a book differently. Sadly, I did not enjoy reading either Scourge or Vengeance. Let me break it down for you, but remember, this is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary!

Scourge

 

 

Scourge

A Darkhurst Novel

In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations.The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and advantageous trading terms. Lord Mayor Ellor Machison wields assassins, blood witches, and forbidden magic to assure that his powerful patrons get what they want, no matter the cost.Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.

It sounds great, right? However, I found that of the 550 some-odd pages, over 300 were repetitive world building that only barely advanced the plot. I read epic fantasy to escape the fact that our world currently is being run by oligarchs who think nothing of sacrificing those that do not directly bring them profits. I found myself gloriously depressed reading Scourge, as to me, it paralleled reality a little too closely for comfort. That and I found the seemingly endless cycle of battling mindless monsters and Rigan(the mage-brother) nearly draining himself to death reminded me of a roleplaying campaign I played in college. Honestly, if you like a good dungeon-crawl rpg or reading George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan, you might enjoy this book.

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Vengeance (Winner of the Manly Wade Wellman Award!)

A Darkhurst Novel (Book 2)

Fighting the monsters that killed their family and friends cost undertaker brothers Corran and Rigan Valmonde their home and livelihood and made them wanted men—but the worst is yet to come.

The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and the best trading terms. Ambitious and ruthless leaders use betrayal and assassination to gain their ends. Blood magic conjures monsters to further the goals of the ruling class, and the price of stolen power is paid for by the deaths of commoners. Now, the fate of Ravenwood hangs in the balance as rival city-states maneuver to gain advantage.

When Corran and Rigan and their friends became outlaw monster hunters and fled beyond the walls of Ravenwood City, they thought they had defeated the source of the abominations that killed so many of their friends and loved ones. But the more successful they become at destroying the creatures, the more they realize a greater evil is at work – larger and more monstrous than they ever could imagine…

I’ll admit to liking Vengeance a bit better than Scourge. The characters have personality and verve. The dialogue isn’t as stilted and while the monster hunts are still ongoing, the monsters are more interesting and dangerous. The world has expanded somewhat with the characters now being outlaws, but the rules and overall villainy remains. There appears to be a third book in the series, but it has not yet been announced.

While I didn’t enjoy this particular series, I am interested in the steampunk one she wrote with her husband, Larry N Martin. Every author deserves a second chance, as each series and book is different. Give the Darkhurst series a try, you might like it.  My opinion is just that, mine. Yours may be different, and that’s why our world is full of amazing books.

Giveaway: 

Win a Kindle copy of both Scourge and Vengeance! Contest runs October 15th thru the 29th. Rafflecopter code is below:
Rafflecopter link: Giveaway

About the Author:

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Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications
Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel and Trifles and Folly 1: A Deadly Curiosities Collection, the latest in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC; Shadow and Flame is the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga; The Shadowed Path (The first Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures collection), as well as Iron and Blood a Steampunk series, and Spells, Salt, & Steel, both co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The SwornThe Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities and Tangled Web. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden AdventuresThe Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Gail’s work has appeared in over 35 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Journeys, Hath no Fury and A Haven Harbor Halloween.

You can also find Gail on: Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartinand free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.
Disclosure: I received complimentary ebooks from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Halloween Cookies and My Sisters

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My parents and two of my younger sisters visited for my birthday last week. It was a whirlwind few days, but I managed to wrangle both Hime (not her real name but she’s 9 and I’m keeping her online presence on the DL) and  Little-Big (she’s younger than me, but MUCH taller!) into doing a puzzle for the blog. This wasn’t overly hard, LB and I grew up doing puzzles, and Hime has been doing them electronically for the last year.

As the theme of my week with them was Halloween decorating, Cobble Hill’s Halloween Cookies was perfect! The Family Pieces puzzles have pieces in large, medium and small so everyone in the family can participate!

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LB’s hands are on the left and Hime’s are on the right.

I wasn’t able to get my usual picture of the frame(edges) as we had a bit of a problem finding them all! While the Family Pieces puzzles are meant for a range of ages to partake in the assembly, this one was incredibly tricky! We ended up filling in the frame as we found the pieces and filled in the puzzle.

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Yes, I totally stealth-moded a candid pic of the girls hunting for pieces.

We assembled this puzzle differently from my usual method. Because LB and Hime hadn’t worked with random cut pieces before, we focused on the pattern recognition of the cookie designs. Teaching Hime to focus on searching for black and white webbing or pretzel pieces helped her not be discouraged as her older sisters seemed to take random pieces and made them fit. She made or finished several of our cookies once she got the technique down!

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This photo doesn’t do this awesome puzzle justice!

Overall, it took us 2 hours and 20 minutes from start to finish. I figured it was a great way to spend time with the sisters I rarely get to see. When I asked the girls their opinions on the puzzle, I got these responses:

LB: I liked the bonding, but I’m not sure if I like the random-cut pieces. They’re new to me I would have liked to have a poster or picture separate from the box lid.

Hime: It looked good enough to eat! I had fun and like the family bonding. I have no dislikes.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Halloween Cookies
  • Artist: Cobble Hill Creations
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 350
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 26″ x 19″
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces, good for all 3 sizes of pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin,
  • Puzzle Dust: Small amount, more than the other Cobble Hill puzzles I’ve done before
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces in 3 sizes
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple large or medium pieces and move them, but the small pieces could lock together and be moved in small batches.

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for any multi-age family, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. My sisters and I had fun and the full assembly only took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. My hands didn’t ache after assembly, and the difficulty level was certainly up to adult standard.  I can happily recommend a large piece puzzle for people with fine motor skill issues, or arthritis.

Where to buy: Halloween Cookies is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 usd.

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Charles Wysocki’s Trick or Treat Hotel

It’s definitely getting closer to Halloween! The store shelves are groaning under the weight of candy, SC is looking at scary makeup tutorials and I’m weighing the eternal adult question… Do I just buy my candy, or do I take a cut from the minions? It will most likely be a mix of the two, I’m hunting my favorite but hard to find candy, Trolli Watermelon Gummy Sharks and when I find them, I’ll buy tons! I’m also taking the minions (my godsons) out trick or treating, and will get a cut of the spoils. 

Much like the childhood institution of trick or treating, I have fond memories of Buffalo Games’s puzzles. I grew up in a small town in Central New York, and Buffalo Games was one of 3 New York puzzle companies. Because of proximity, I put together a LOT of Buffalo puzzles. I learned to love the soft click of a piece snapping into place. 

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This is Charles Wysocki’s Trick or Treat Hotel. I’ll admit that it confused me to equate this puzzle with the usual hometown or cat paintings the artist is known for! How could someone who is called the Master Painter of Americana create such a creepy picture? img_4356

This 500 piece puzzle came with a fold out poster to help in assembly.

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Zoomie, our very own PuzzlePaws, helped make sure the edge pieces didn’t disappear!

The edges went together just as I remembered, with that Perfect Snap™ that is a Buffalo puzzle signature.img_43571

Other than chasing off the cats, this puzzle came together rather quickly until I hit the sky. With the tree branches, cobwebs and odd scattered creatures, that section was quite the challenge!img_43611

As I assembled this puzzle, I kept finding all sorts of cute details that were mixed into the weird ones.

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I love the black cat on this pumpkin witch’s head!
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I’m not sure if that’s a stuffed demon or a ventriloquist’s dummy.
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I think this is the best piggyback ride I’ve ever seen!

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buffalo Games
  • Title: Trick or Treat Hotel
  • Artist: Charles Wysocki
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 21¼ in by 15 in
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Light and compact, 7.75″ by 7.75″ by 1.5″
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Excellent. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups, but once assembled the whole puzzle is nearly solid!

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 500 piece puzzle are kinder to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I will be trying this brand’s 300, 750 and 1000 piece counts for later posts. I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Trick or Treat Hotel is available on the Buffalo games website for $10.95 usd.

Buffalo Games : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

The Moonlit Vale: A Mythical Coloring & Art Book by Annie Stegg Gerard

I meet a bunch of talented and artistic people at DragonCon every year, and this year was no exception! I got to talk with local artist Annie Stegg Gerard about the blog and my goals for it. She completely understood, having had her own trials with the boredom that is bed rest. She gifted me one of her coloring books, The Moonlit Vale.

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Teedle refused to move and so became my easel!

Annie also included this beautiful pencil-case, which I’ve been using for holding the spare markers that don’t fit in my coloring case.

I’ll admit that I’ve been dithering over this coloring book. It’s a LOT more complex than my usual fare, and I’ve been afraid that my coloring skills wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Today I sat down and simply TRIED. It was harder than it sounds.img_4424

Look at this beautiful art! img_4427

The book is small, only 8″by 8″ inches, and has 78 perforated pages. Now, I can’t say that they are single-sided pages, as on the back of each one is a little illustration that you can also color, which is great for people who prefer colored pencils.

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Isn’t he sweet??

For the marker and gel pen colorists, Annie includes a thick vellum sheet to place behind your artwork to prevent bleed through.img_4423

I absolutely surprised myself! Can’t believe that I managed to make something that pretty…it must be because of Annie’s amazing art. Yup.

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I love this, as the last piece in the book, it warms my heart!

 

Now that I’ve done one piece, I can’t wait to color another! Not only has Annie made Moonlit Vale, which features mythical animals and ladies; but she has also drawn a coloring book called The WildWood Soiree, which features animals in outfits that remind me of both Beatrix Potter illustrations and Brian Jacques’s Redwall series.

Where to buy: You can buy The Moonlit Vale and pencil-case at Annie Stegg Gerard’s website for $30 USD. You can also buy her other lovely coloring book, The WildWood Soiree there for $20 USD

Annie Stegg Gerard’s Art : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this coloring book for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright © 2018 Annie Stegg Gerard. The coloring is mine.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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