The Urban Sketching Handbook

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Urban Sketching Handbook:
101 Sketching Tips
AuthorStephanie Bower
PublisherQuarto Publishing Group (Nov. 3, 2019)
FormatKindle, Flexibound
Language English
ISBN-10/ISBN-131631597655 / 978-1631597657


Stephenie Bower is the author of The Urban Sketching Handbook. If you would like to find out more, you can read all about the author on her own blog page by clicking here.


Anyone with an interest in learning the fashionable new trend in artistic expression known as Urban Sketching will find this text an invaluable addition to their knowledge base. Whilst the work is intended for artists looking to engage in urban sketching and painting, other artist could benefit from the many and varied tips, tricks and techniques. This book is great if you have been considering taking up urban sketching and didn’t quite know what to expect or how to start. This text would also be useful as a reference for any aspiring the artist from beginner to intermediate level.


Urban Sketching has grown in recent years and now has a strong global following. This type of art has seen increased participation and is a popular hobby for aspiring and accomplished artists worldwide. Amateurs and professional artists participate together in the enjoyment of the architecture of the built environment.

Bower’s manual is the answer to many uninitiated urban sketchers looking to get a foot hold on the tools, tips and techniques necessary to become competent; or just to have fun and make new friends whist painting or sketching.

The text is brief and concise at only 112 pages, but within these pages you will discover 101 tips to aid in improving your artwork. The book is filled with beautiful illustrations by a variety of artists including the authors own works. It is written in a style that is easily accessible to those who like to read a little or who wish to jump from section to section. Whichever method the reader chooses to peruse this book, it is still comprehendible.  The book is comprehensive enough to be useful to intermediate artists and basic enough to inform even the most primary beginner.

Amongst the tips included are: the use of coloring; different painting methods, the variety and uses of brushes, how shading can enhance any work, how different line widths add interest to your work and the use of methods for perspective.

Bower’s book is inspiring and esthetically pleasing. A great book to have in your artist’s reference library.


If you were looking for an art theory book based on urban sketching and painting look no further. The text is full of utility, and this tiny book is jam packed with skills, techniques, and tools to get you started in the new and exciting world of urban sketching. Beautifully illustrated throughout and with helpful dialogue to assist the reader for Improving their creative skills. Bower’s work leaves the reader believing that they too, with time and application, can become as accomplished as those artists featured within the book.


My sincere thanks go to the Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher, for affording me the opportunity to review The Urban Sketching Handbook: 101 Sketching Tips.

The Falcon Thief – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Falcon Thief
AuthorJoshua Hammer
PublisherSimon and Schuster February 11, 2020
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook
ASIN # / ISBN #B07TGF9Y2 / 9781501191886


Joshua Hammer is the author of many other manuscripts, articles and has worked with organizations as notable as National Geographic Magazine as well as many other prestigious publications. He is an experienced professional writer and this book is a clear demonstration of his expertise. Click here to read more about the author and his other work.

Who is the target audience?

Those who find true crime compelling and those who share a love for all earth’s creatures will be the primary audience. This book will entice readers who enjoy the thrill of the chase or who have interest in learning new facts about the customs and cultures of faraway lands. It also holds a much broader appeal for those who identify as environmentally astute.


The narrative is well written in the style of a crime thriller and is interlaced with twists and turns worthy of that title. The eclectic mix of characters makes for a compelling story, all the more so as it is a true tale.

Hammer begins with the chance apprehension of Jeffery Lendrum, the raptor thief. Lendrum commits a rookie mistake and is apprehended, and just like that the chase is on to find his clients. He subsequently reveals the tragic context that leads to Falcons becoming an endangered species. The negligent use of chemical DDT leads to a massive reduction in bird populations thus placing them on the verge of extinction in a number of British Isles.

The ancient and noble sport of Falconry turns a previously innocent pastime into a thriving black market. Buyers and suppliers traverse the globe in pursuit of their chosen birds of prey.  The suppliers use any and all means to obtain the elusive birds without any consideration to the impact on the species.

The suspense builds as Andy McWilliam; the investigating detective uses all his acumen, resources, and cunning in the hunt for the buyers of illegal birds of prey. Hammer transports us from the gritty streets of Liverpool, in Great Britain to the opulent abodes in the desert heat of the Middle East, and then farther on into the Arctic in this epic pursuit.

Hammer weaves a compelling case for the plight of the falcons and highlights the very real and present danger that poachers such as Lendrum pose to wildlife populations. Lendrum’s antics in the pursuit of his prey verges at times on that of an anti-James Bond. He guides us through the interconnected panoply of Lendrum’s criminal enterprise, and does it in a gripping narrative.


This yarn has everything to satisfy those wanting to escape the drudgery of everyday existence: falcons that can out pace falling parachutists, a criminal who flouts International Law, Emirate Sheiks who will pay hundreds of thousands for a single Falcon egg, and a police detective who’s experience and dedication leads to a satisfying and acceptable conclusion. The characters discussed in this book don’t even begin to come close to the magnificence of the Falcon Family and their agility, speed, and unique ophthalmic.

I firmly believe that the reader will come away with a greater respect and understanding of the threats posed to our wildlife; particularly the threat to endangered species globally. Lendrum’s work is precise and without verbosity. The pages just fly by and all too soon the journey is over. I highly recommend this book to you. It is definitely a “buy it now” kind of book.    


My sincere thanks go out to NetGalley, Joshua Hammer, and publishers Simon and Schuster for affording me the opportunity to review The Falcon Thief.

My Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures as a Pet Sitter – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleMy Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures
as a Pet Sitter
AuthorChristi Grace
PublisherHarvest House Publishers (Feb. 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback,Hardcover, and Audiobook     
ISBN #0736978968 / 978-0736978965     

Dakota’s condition, which was mostly covered up by the long blanket under the saddle. Amos removed both the saddle and blanket, and I was shocked. Under all that tack was a terribly emaciated horse!’

Christi Grace (2020) Harvest House Publishers. Loc. 598.

 Author’s Bio

Christi Grace is the author of My Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures as a Pet Sitter. She devoted a dozen years as a pet sitter for a stable of animal characters most of which provided her with the inspirations for her novelette.

Click here to read about the author.  

Who Is The Target Audience?

You are; if you love animals and your fellow man.


This is the first faith-based book that I have had the privilege to review. I am normally approached to write complex scientific tombs owing to my academic background. When I stumbled across this book, I was intrigued by the book cover and then the title. I had no idea that the work was humorous, laconic, inspirational, profoundly moving, and a homage to Christi Grace’s devotion to Jesus Christ.

What followed was a beautiful retinue of animal stories some deeply moving and others full of drama and pathos. The text doesn’t only revolve around our ‘furry friends’ however it also includes a tale of human existence, challenges, and tragedies.

There are a number of characters throughout the book, and it begins with Gideon’s story. Gideon with the beautiful eyes and only three working limbs. Christi Grace portrays a stunning image of Gideon and her warmth for him radiates from the pages as she leads us through his life adventure. The list begins with Gideon and ends with Graces’s long standing friendship with Joy. In between are the recollections of Ginger the goat, Rocko the Polish rooster, Zinna, Maui, Dekota, Molly, Hollis, ToTo, and the invisible cats. In addition to the animal menagerie is the cast of human characters.

This fable has multiple attractions primary among them is the engaging tales, adventures and humanity in this written account of her experiences. The monograph enjoys a broad appeal. The text contains humor, pathos, inspiration, and devotion when brought together they produce a heady mix. Therefore, if you are looking for fun, a distraction, something to read that carries a positive message this manuscript will fulfill your needs. 

The format is made up of compendium anecdotes about the dogs, cats, goats, horses, and people. In many ways the stories make up a series of parables cleverly linked together by Grace’s use of Biblical quotes and passages. This juxtaposition of her real-life experiences and that of ‘The Book’ see each supporting the other.

Grace is moved and motivated deeply from a place of love, admiration and faith; all concentrated by her personal life experience. Grace tells us many times how the panoply of God’s blessings continually gives her reason to praise him. She shares that praise with the reader in copious amounts. This in no way distracts from the chronicle, in may ways it enhances the narrative and supports it. 

As mentioned above the characters are many and varied, as are the experiences both amusing and sad. I could not help but be moved by several of the tales, and I admit to finding some rather humorous. I found myself gripped by the tales which were both written well and completely believable to anyone who has ever owned a pet.

Christi Grace has managed to distill twelve years of caring for other people’s animals into a concise read. It is short enough to be read in an hour or two or to be savored like a fine wine over a few days.


My Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures as a Pet Sitter written by Christi Grace is as described in the title. There is humor, pathos, life and death decision making throughout. Ultimately, it is about how Christi Grace recognizes her spirituality in her everyday working life as a pet sitter. It is clear that Christi is eternally grateful for blessings she has received and this work is her eulogy for those gifts.

Of all the stories in the manuscript, the story of Dakota is the one that will remain with me. Animal cruelty is abhorrent to me, and this is such a tale. If you read this book for no other reason then read it for Dakota (Shiloh’s Promise) Beginning Chapter 5. Loc. 548.

The stories are touching, eloquently written and full of love for the animals she cared for. Her passion and love will rub off on you and engage you. I challenge you not to shed a tear over Shiloh’s Promise.

If I have any criticism, it is the stories could have been more comprehensive and lacked illustrations or images. I also would have liked Christi to talk more about herself, her circumstances and her family. Some people feel reluctant to read any faith influenced book and this is such a pity.

I found the dedications at the end useful as an aid memoir.


My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, The Author, Christi Grace, and Harvest House Publishers (2020) for affording me the opportunity to review; My Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures as a Pet Sitter.