Book Rhi-view: The Official Vampire Artist's Handbook by Lora S. Irish

The Official Vampire Artist's Handbook: How to Create Your Own Patterns and Illustrations of the Undead by Lora S. Irish
Art, Illustration, Vampires
Releases: March 1st, 2012
Paperback $14.95 (112 pages, FOX CHAPEL)
How to draw vampire art in simple, easy steps. Instructions could be used to create patterns for various crafts, or for drawing. Lora Irish is the creator of a virtual library of designs and patterns for artisans, including tattoo artists, carvers, woodburners, and woodworkers. A highly regarded artist, carver and craftsperson, Irish is also the author of many top selling books including Modern Tribal Tattoos (one of Fox's top ten bestsellers for 2009), Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Great Book of Dragon Patterns, Great Book of Fairy Patterns, Landscapes in Relief, and Classic Carving Patterns. She is a former teacher and has helped thousands learn the art of woodcarving through her books, website, and online tutorials.
Publisher Site: www.foxchapelpublishing.com

Might Suit a Kid Better (2 stars)

Let me preface my review by saying that I'm not an artist. I'm a vampire and fantasy art geek who loves checking out books I'll never learn artistic skills from for the art itself. I've enjoyed other art titles from Fox Chapel so I wanted to give this one a chance.

What stumped and disappointed me right away was the way the book is presented. I still can't figure out if the author intends to be giving facts or if it's supposed to be more tongue-in-cheek. If she had stuck to the artistic side of it, suggesting anatomical conditions that would be different in vampire physiology and that sort of thing it wouldn't have been as odd. But there're entire sections devoted to supposed 'facts'. I'm not sure where most of them came from but as a fan of vampire novels, films, and such a lot of it felt pulled from random and some even seemed to contradict each other. In effect it all felt like filler between sections of sketches.

The drawings themselves were not particularly thrilling. Perhaps I was anticipating something more 'traditional' but odd piercings, shocks of pink hair, and an awful lot of tattooes gave it all a cheesy fantasy flavor that just didn't work for me. Art is definitely subjective so my opinion shouldn't matter much in regards to the art's quality but while a few of the drawings were likable, the majority lacked the professional polish I had hoped to see from a book with the word 'official' in its title.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this book. If I were a tweenager I could see this book being entertaining and helpful but as an adult vampire art fan it just didn't meet my expectations. There are some amazing titles on drawing and painting vampires out there (such as How to Draw Vampires and Draw and Paint Fantasy Art - Vampires) that have really beautiful artwork for fans who collect vampire art books for the art itself and this just isn't one of them.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

More Art Books from Fox Chapel Publishing:


Book Rhi-view: Hippo Says "Excuse Me" by Michael Dahl

Hippo Says "Excuse Me" by Michael Dahl
Manners, Toddler, Board Book
Board Book $7.99 (20 pages, PUB)
Hippo uses his manners to help a little chick. (PreK)
Publisher Site: www.capstonepub.com

Terrific for the 'Terrible Twos' (4 stars)

My elder child was constantly complimented on his lovely manners when he was a toddler. Then he grew up and went to school. Now his manners aren't quite so praise-worthy and his influence can be on the bad side with his toddler sister. So when I saw HIPPO SAYS "EXCUSE ME" I had to check it out.

At two years old our daughter is extremely verbose but doesn't always know the best way to ask for what she needs such as getting past someone who is blocking her way. I've found it difficult for her to understand the concept of 'excuse me' but this adorable book really has helped give her more to work with. She loves hippos and actually has a tub toy that looks just like the hippo in the story so she immediately fell in love with this book.

While she might not quite get the concept still, this Hello Genius title is a great way to get it in her mind. She actually said 'sus-cuse me, mama' instead of pushing at me yesterday like she usually does. I was so proud!

If you have a toddler in that 'terrible twos' phase where their vocab can't keep up with their desires I think this and other titles in the Hello Genius series are a great way to help them learn important concepts without being dull. Even I was having fun talking about the full bus and the animals packed into the elevator as we turned the pages. The only thing I had hoped it mentioned and didn't was using 'excuse me' after burps... 'cause big brother needs to re-learn that one and I bet his little sis could teach him a thing or two about manners these days. ;)

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

More Hello Genius Books:


Birchbox Subscription Giveaway @ She Scribes

She Scribes button

Had to share this giveaway since I do so much beauty booty reviewing here. I'd love to win this myself and while I don't visit She Scribes often I love the class Kimberly brings to the blogosphere. Her reviews are real and her giveaways aren't the whole purpose of her site.

Anywho, I hope you'll check out her blog and drop by to enter her giveaway! I've been on a lucky streak this week so I'm sending some your way dear followers. ;)


The Friday Five: Apps I Can't Live Without

When I received my iPad 2 last June I wasn't sure whether it was worth paying the prices asked for a lot of the apps I was finding available. Trust me when I say you have to do some shopping around. I've probably only spent about $20 on apps, most of which were games the hubs and boy wanted. But I use that damned thing all day, every day for dozens of purposes so I was inspired to write up today's Friday Five on the thought 'what if my iPad was on fire and I could only save 5 apps'. haha! Okay not the best analogy but you get the idea and so here are the five I've grown to think are the best of the best. Not sure if all of these are available for android too but Bluefire Reader is and Toca's apps are not.

1. Bluefire Reader (Free)
One of the pitfalls of being an e-ink loving Kindle fan is the lack of color and the size. Want to review cookbooks or children's picture books? It just doesn't fly on the Kindle 3 and my beloved NetGalley can't send them to the Kindle app. Enter Bluefire Reader, which I actually now use almost exclusively for reviewing. Unlike my K3 which has no backlight I can read late without juggling a booklight or bothering the hubs. Authors can send me their ARCs or sell sheets as PDFs and I have everything stored right there in one app. I use this app almost more than my stupid Bakery game one. lol

2. Toca Tea Party (99¢)
This is the first app I paid money for. It was $2.99 at the time and now I would have paid $29.99 knowing how much of a lifesaver this app would be. My iPad is only known to the tot as 'tea pardy' thanks to this genius and OMG-*squee* adorable app. This app has kept the tot busy at big sister's basketball games, doctor's appointments, in the car, at big brother's parent teacher conference... the list could go on and on. I showed it to one of the aestheticians at the spa a couple of months ago and she told me she bought it for her 4-year-old son who loves it. Need an app that'll entertain a little one? Give this a try and check out some of Toca Boca's other cool ones.

3. Calculator for iPad Free (Free)
While there is a pay version that I should probably break down and buy, I just don't think it's a justifyable purchase. Other than an annoying pop-up reminding you of the pay version this one does everything I need it to. Helps me calculate percentages on pages read versus total pages when I've been reading PDFs in Bluefire Reader as well as simple adding and subtracting when I'm in a hurry. I'm not good with math and am forever turning to the calculator on my computer for help so having it on the iPad is even handier. I think I'd go a little crazy without it and it was the one thing I was shocked that wasn't a built-in app on the iPad to be honest.

4. iPeriod Ultimate ($1.99)
The free version is great but I liked it so well I upgraded and this has been so useful. You can chart your weight, add in moods and tick off symptoms. It can average your cycle out or you can put it in manually. As soon as you open it the app lets you know the expected date of your next period and the calendar shows estimated high fertility days based on your cycle. There's no more panicking wondering 'am I late?' or guessing when I see the doc and they ask the dreaded 'when was your last period?' question. Granted you'll have to be willing to check it regularly to get good use out of it. I also love that it's discreet and is only named iP on your screen and can even be passworded.

If there is one thing I never thought I'd use my iPad for it's cooking. But this app has saved my butt so many times now it's not even funny. I found the perfect Taco Seasoning recipe when I discovered I was out one night thanks to this app! Plus when I search for recipes I can specify certain ingredients to include or exclude, preparation methods and more. If you're a busy mom like I am and you find yourself at your wit's end scrambling for last minute dinner ideas download this app. It's a lifesaver and you can't beat FREE.


Beauty Rhi-view: La Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes

La Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes 24 count
Company Site: La Fresh
Product Details: La Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover is formulated in a non-greasy wipe that instantly dissolves even the most resistant and waterproof makeup. The delicate skin around the eyes and lips is nourished with a blend of oils including olive, jojoba, sesame and grapeseed. Alcohol-free and 100% biodegradable, theyre a great alternative to greasy liquid makeup removers.
  • Leaves no greasy residue
  • Instantly dissolves resistant makeup
  • 100% biodegradable wet wipes
  • For eyes & lips
  • Alcohol-free, Made in USA
  • Directions: Gently wipes your eyes and lips with love and good intention. Soon they will be sparkling clean. No need to rinse. Carefully re-seal the pack after use. Do not flush.
    Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Oil, Lavandula Officinalis (Lavender) Oil.

    The BEST Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes. Period. (5 Stars)

    I don't wear a lot of waterproof make-up simply because removing it is such an unpleasant task. My skin and eyes are super sensitive so it's taken years to find a couple of mascara brands that don't make my eyes itch. But every woman needs a good waterproof mascara for attending weddings and funerals, or just watching Hallmark commercials. So finding a great remover, especially a wipe-style has become a hunt for me. Now I've found it, the holy grail of Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes—La Fresh.

    I'm not sure what I was expecting when I bought them, the fact they have lavender in them was scary. Surely that couldn't be good for your eyes? But I'm a brave product reviewer and love the smell so I figured I would give them a shot. I pulled the first one out... and it felt dry. Huh? Yep, they're not drippy and there's no water or alcohol in them! The gentle oil-based formula smells heavenly and to my shock removed my hardcore eyeliner and mascara without me needing to rub or tug at my eyes. It all swiped off with such ease I was highly impressed. I waited and waited for the burning I was expecting but it never came.

    Not only are these wipes extra gentle and effective they're eco-friendly AND made in the USA. I love them so much I won't be buying anything else from here on out. They're a bit pricier than the drugstore brands but so much better than any of them in all areas (no need to use more than one!) that they're worth the extra couple of bucks. Highly, highly recommended!

    Other great products from La Fresh:


    If I had lots of monies... I'd make ALL of this mine!

    Day to Night Style: Jewelmint's Madison Avenue Ring

    So Jewelmint & Polyvore are having a contest and I've never used Polyvore so I had fun playing with it. It reminds me of being 12 and cutting things out of magazines to make collages and Christmas wishlists. That and at that age I was aspiring for a career in fashion. When you grow up the child of a former model these things seemed fated but alas life took me in another direction. So what do you think? I don't actually own the jacket but have been hoping to get one someday. But I have basics similar to everything on the day side. The evening side... well okay I don't have any of that but am planning to buy the earrings and would buy all of it if money were there for it. I am madly in love with the dress and would totally wear it but it's not available anymore. *has a sad*

    Anywho, busy week reading for the other blog and IRL. Tell me what ya think of all this lovely stuff!


    Jewelmint Haul: Wondermint Mystery Bags

    I don't even remember how the heck I stumbled on Jewelmint in the days right before Christmas. I just know I was broke from holiday spending and so I didn't do more than make an account. Now I am an official fan and mildly obsessed. But I digress... I ordered a mystery bag on the 27th not realizing it was putting me out of the running for the awesome extra prizes purchasers were being entered for (Apple GCs, Kindle Fires, etc.) and then decided I should buy a couple more the 28th. They took forever to get here though. They sat in a town 4 hours away for 7 days! Not sure how thrilled I am about the shipping but whatever, I'm blaming it on the holiday season.

    My order showed up at some point Saturday while I was on my spa-date and so I did get to quickly open them and wear a couple pieces to the party we went to Saturday night. So here is my haul...

    Bag #1:


    BeautyBox from Beachmint :: The Loot

    Alright, so a couple days after Christmas I posted about Beachmint's BeautyBox for $29.99 (+ $3.99 shipping). Later I found a video with the details of the contents and I wasn't particularly thrilled about it. Most of it seemed random and only a couple of them were brands or items I had any interest in trying. But my box showed up last week and not only was one item different from what had been listed I'm actually loving most of what I've tried so far. If you still want one I can honestly say it is worth the price. I did the math and disagree with their assessment of the $164 value to a point but it's still double the value of what's in it. If you want one they're still available.

    Here's the unboxing pics... included but useless to me were codes for $10 off a first purchase for new customers at Shoemint, Beautymint, Stylemint, and Jewelmint. I don't like anything on Stylemint, Shoemint is beyond my budget, and Beautymint doesn't appeal to me. If you'd like to use one of the codes let me know. I'll share. I think they have to be used by January 31st anyway.

    Here are the products I received:

    Tatcha Aburatorigami - $.75 3-pack
    Perfekt Brow Perfection Gel (caramel) - $1.50 sample
    Nivea Creme - $.44 sample
    Beautymint Hair Ties - $18 full size (7)


    Total Value: $147.92

    So far I've not tried everything but most of it. I can say for certain that I love the Weleda Wild Rose Moisture Cream and the La Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover EcoWipes the most. I didn't think I would like the Mama Mio Shower Cream. Initially the smell was gross, reminded me of my great-grandmother which is great in that I loved her but I don't want to smell like her. The scent is better post-shower though and it is killer skin softening! I am in LOVE with the Beautymint hair ties. Not great for the gym but sleeping in, everyday wear, it's been all good. The Too Faced gloss is nice but insanely overpriced for what it is and how little you get. I would never pay full price for it. The Josie Maran Lip Stain is nice, the color doesn't flatter my fair skin at all but I'm a new Argan oil fan so I was pleased to give it a try.

    Will share a few real reviews eventually but overall I'm glad I bought it. I just wish more of the products were really useful to me. It's nice to try new brands out, I've wanted to try Weleda, la Fresh and Too Faced for ages.  If you bought the Beautybox what did you think? Were any of your products different from mine? -- Rhi


    Still alive... but crazy!

    So we survived the holidays... just barely. Hubs is back to work. *coughfinallycough* Kids are back to school. Hallelujah! But now all of the holiday decor needs to come down and get repackaged. I need to clean out the fridge. I have about 8 book reviews to write. Some paperwork that needs sorting. Not to mention I'm having a Pure Romance party at the end of the month and so plans for that are being finalized. I am—to put it gently—losing my freaking mind.

    Haven't had a good night's sleep since before hubs' surgery, missed my weekly check-in chat with my gram this week, and the catbox is whispering stinky nothings in my ear. So I'm running on fumes. But I have lots of awesome stuff in the mail for bloggy goodness. A beautybox from Beachmint is on it's way. Three Wondermint Mystery Bags from Jewelmint that for some reason have been stuck in Billings since Saturday. *sigh* Hopefully they'll show up by the weekend. I have a spa-date with the MIL on Saturday and a party right after that to go to so I would love to have some gorgeous jewelry to wear. Then there's the January CraveBox which I've heard only the twitter based clues about. Then I'm also hoping to be invited to the January Influenster VoxBox because it's going to be Love/Valentine's themed. Very much up my alley.

    Well anywho guys. Just wanted to let you know I am around just playing RL catch-up a little now that everyone is out of the house during the day again. Be watching for good stuff in the weeks to come. ;) -- Rhi
    The Rhialist (Rhianna Walker) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.