2015-2016: Top 5 Series

Inspiration

Summer time is the best time for reading series. Mostly because this is the time we readers can dedicate more time to reading and becoming invested in a specific story and group of characters.

Below is a list of the top 5 book series I have read during this past year:

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  1. “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin

These books are not new, but have been made popular by HBO’s mega-hit series Game of Thrones. This year, I finally finished reading the published installations of this series, including the prequel stories compiled in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” If you are a reader that loves the show, then you will absolutely love these books. Martin is a first-class world-builder and will probably be recognized as the greatest fantasy author of our time. Also highly recommended is “A World of Ice and Fire.” 

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2. “Memoirs of Lady Trent” series

This series is fantasy meets feminism. An adult read, these books are also fun, providing drawings of the different dragon species throughout the pages. The first three books are shown above, with the most recent, “In the Labrynth of Drakes,” having been published this April. I have yet to read the 4th installation but am looking forward to doing so this summer!

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3. Harry Potter Film Production Series

This series includes:

  1. “The Creature Vault”
  2. “The Character Vault”
  3. “Magical Places from the Films”

I know that I have mentioned all of these books at least once before, but I’m doing so again because they are just fantastic. My favorite remains “The Creature Vault,” but all three books contain plenty of insider information and concept art sure to please all HP enthusiasts!

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4. The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading this series many years ago, probably when I was too young to be reading it. Having read through the first three books, but not remembering a lot, Starz’ drama encouraged me to revisit the series. Reading them through again as an adult, I have so much more appreciation for these books. This past year I re-read the first two books (“Outlander” and “Dragonfly in Amber”) and plan on reading the rest of the series this coming year. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I would highly recommend these books to just about anyone.

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5. The Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier

This YA series was entertaining. Unlike many other books in this category, the main character was devoid of angst,and the fantasy and time travel elements were approached from an entirely unique standpoint. If you are looking for a quick yet entertaining read, give these books a shot.

Be sure to also check out my top 5 picks for novels!

Craft Beer Interprets “Game of Thrones”

Inspiration, Travel

Game of Thrones comes back tomorrow and many of us cannot contain our excitement! Although yes, it’s a bummer that the show will be spoiling the books, I know that my personal disappointment is trumped by the idea of finally having some new plot development.

In celebration of this coming weekend, I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences pertaining to Ommegang Brewery, the official brewer of the Game of Thrones beers. Located nearby in Cooperstown, NY, Ommegang is a producer of quality craft beers and makes for a great outing destination. Andy and I have been there twice, once by ourselves last Spring and again just recently with his father.

On any given day they offer tours of the brewery as well as tastings. Tastings are only $5.00 per person and allow for tasters to sample six different brews. This is a pretty good deal considering the amount of beer they give you and the fact that you get to keep your tasting glass (photo featured above).

The tour is also worth taking, as they bring you within the brewery and explain the methods behind their processes.

Because Game of Thrones is coming back tomorrow, I encourage the rest of you GOT fans out there to check out the different beers that are featured in Ommegang’s themed selection. The titles are:

  1. Take the Black Stout, served best on long winter nights
  2. Iron Throne (A drink for Kings!)
  3. Fire and Blood for members of House Targaryen
  4. Vhalar Morghulis, because all beer must be drunk.
  5. Three-Eyed Raven (Disclaimer: you will not be granted the green sight)

And as of most recently:

6. The Seven Kingdoms (Why didn’t they make a sixth variety before releasing this one? No matter, it’s delicious!)

IMG951224So while I’m not encouraging binge drinking, I am saying: “Less than 48 hours before season 6!” Get excited.

(Side note: I do not work for Ommegang, I am purely a fan of its products and a Song of Ice and Fire enthusiast).

Targaryen at Heart

Art

As I mentioned back in October, I am a drawer of dragons. As a child, I was obsessed with fantasy and would use art as a way to breathe life into entities that would otherwise be unable to escape the confines of my mind. This has not changed, even though I am now a 22 year old woman one month shy of graduating with a master’s degree in public relations.

In fact, growing up has had the opposite effect on me. I place immense value in fantasy, treasuring the fantastical ideas and creations generated by myself and others.

Ridiculously excited for the return of Game of Thrones this Sunday, I am using this post to showcase a colored pencil drawing of a dragon we all know and love, despite his occasionally naughty behavior. The fiercest and by far the most interesting of Dany’s trio, the drawing below is a colored pencil representation of Drogon, symbolic reincarnate of Balerion the Black Dread.

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I chose Drogon as subject matter as he is the dragon readers and viewers identify with most. Martin has developed his personality more than the other dragons as he is Dany’s obvious favorite and impacts the story’s plot line the most.

Drogon’s red and black coloring is also most synonymous with the Targaryen house and I find the contrast enticing as an artist.

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That is not to say I plan on neglecting the other two. In fact, in the future I plan on adding to this piece by creating similar drawings of Viserion and Rhaegal, compiling a small series.

After all, I am a drawer of dragons and plan on being so for many years to come.

Inspiration is Novel

Food, Inspiration

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I think it is very important for artists and other creative people to identify the roots of his or her inspiration and keep track of it. If you know what inspires you then you will have a much easier and much more enjoyable time creating in the future.

As some of my readers may know, this past weekend was my 22nd birthday. And, lucky as I am, I received the gift of inspiration from two individuals. In both instances, such inspiration came in the form of a book.

The first came from my brother who gave me “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook .” This book has inspired me in the kitchen, providing me with classic English recipes that I probably would never have thought of or tried otherwise.

the unofficial hp cookbook

Although I do not have much time to cook, I have already tried the recipe for cauldron cakes, or as we may know them, pancakes. Granted pancakes are a simple food, but this recipe was very different from the classic American version or what you might expect from Jiffy mix. The pancakes were much sweeter and took special care when flipping.

To those who want to try this recipe I would advise waiting longer then expected before flipping your pancakes. Though you make think they are done on one side, rest assured they are not. Give them a minute longer than you typically would allow.

cauldron cakes

My second inspiration piece came from Andy who gifted me “The World of Ice and Fire” a very large, very beautiful prequel to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, more commonly known as the “Game of Thrones” series. The book is fantastic, containing not only fabulous narrative to the world that George R.R. Martin has created but also a wide array of artwork.

the world of ice and fire

Glancing through this enormous book I am especially inspired by the artwork. When you are an artist that chooses to focus on fantastical imagery such as myself it is always helpful and inspirational to see how other artists are approaching the fantasy realm. Especially, for me, how they are portraying dragons.

Fantastic illustration from the book

Fantastic illustration from the book

Having always been inspired by books I am lucky to have people in my life who not only care enough to buy me birthday gifts but also know what to give me. As I work my way through both of these books I know I will not only be content and entertained but also inspired.