Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: Secrets and Pies

Secrets and Pies Secrets and Pies by Jenny Kales
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story. I love cozy mysteries so I may be biased. It is set in the Midwest close to where I use to live. Every time Greek Fest was mentioned, I just wanted to be there! There was also a lot of Greek food talk which, honestly, kept me hungry. I made a few of the recipes from the back of the book though and that helped my hunger. The recipes I made were Avgolemono, Melopita and Rizogalo. Greek chicken and lemon soup, cheese honey pie and rice pudding. They were easy peasey and delicious. The Avgolemono has become a favorite.
But back to the story. This is the third book in the series but the first I read. I had no trouble at all following the story. Actually if it weren’t for references to previous murders, I might have thought it was a stand alone or first book. The mystery had some nice twists to it so it wasn’t too easy to guess at. Things flowed very nicely. I loved the characters. I felt like I was visiting with friends. I thought the author did an excellent job creating and maintaining the Greek ambience.
The only downside I had was how much I missed the Greek place, (and owner,Gina), that I use to eat lunch at in downtown Chicago. This book totally took me back there and made me ache with homesickness. I am definitely reading the first two books in this series and will be watching for the next book.

View all my reviews

Review: Krampus

Krampus Krampus by Brom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book! Who is the villain...Krampus or Santa? I personally found the narration to be excellent and Kirby Heyborne truly brought the story to life for me. I have been fascinated by legends and folklore since I was a teen. Having Odin, Loki, Hel and others included in this story just made it so much more entertaining for me. I want the illustrated version now. I know I will be listening to this book again.
For those who want to know. Probably not a book you want to listen to with children. It is scary and the f-word is used.

View all my reviews

Review: The Christmas Town

The Christmas Town The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the message that family doesn’t have to be the one you are born into. I loved the characters. Yes the story was kind of sappy but I love that at Christmas. I enjoyed it. I didn’t know it was a part of a series so definitely worked as a stand-alone. I laughed out loud several times.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: Lies She Told

Lies She Told Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this on Audible intending to only listen for an hour or so while I was doing things at home. I ended up listening to it completely. The narration was excellent. I was absolutely caught up in the crazy story.
I did get a bit confused with the characters of Liza and Beth. You really need to pay attention when listening to/reading the story. It will get a bit complicated and if you are only half listening you will most likely miss key pieces.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The end. Omg. I’m so messed up.
This was an amazing story. All the twists and turns it took. Never assume. Very true words.
The story had the feel of The Body, (Stand By Me). Perhaps because of childhood friends being in both. The story phases from past to present back to past all through the book. It is all clearly marked so you are never lost but I mention it as some readers would rather know.
A huge thank you to Read It Forward and Crown Publishing for the advance copy I won. It is one of my favorite reads of 2017!

View all my reviews

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mixing with Hamilton Beach

The holidays have been in full swing for weeks now. Starting the week of Thanksgiving cooking and baking we’re slowly cranking up. Now we are days from Christmas and baking is an everyday happening. My hand mixer died before Thanksgiving. I went through that holiday the old fashioned way. My arms were getting a good workout but I live with pain as a constant companion. I knew I needed a mixer. The search was on. I asked friends and family what mixer they preferred and why. I received various responses with the majority of younger family members telling they just get what is cheap and then replace, replace, replace. That is not for me. Hopefully that is going to change for them too.
A good mixer is definitely worth paying for. Here in my part of Alaska, a cheap mixer runs in the $30-40 range. Replace, replace, replace was going to get expensive, fast. I started looking at what Hamilton Beach had to offer. I really love this company. I can honestly say that over the years my Hamilton Beach products held up for a long time. I tend to look at what they have when I need or want to buy a small appliance. I still ask friends and family for their opinions. I like to compare products. I want to be certain to get the product that does what I need it to do. I definitely want a good price. As I was researching my options I received an email inviting me to review another Hamilton Beach product. (If you are looking for a food processor, please check out my review here.)
The Hamilton Beach ErgoMix Hand Mixer was one of the products offered.


 It caught my interest because of the design. Pain has made baking difficult. This mixer is designed to be easy on the hand and elbow. When I took it out of the box, it felt heavy. I was worried about that. I thought my arm would tire quickly. However when I used it, I adjusted to the weight of it. One thing that I wasn’t expecting was how quiet this mixer is! I frequently wake in the night and am unable to fall back asleep. I enjoy baking at this time but always hand mixed everything because the noise disturbed others sleep. I am now able to mix cakes, cookie dough and other things using the mixer without anyone waking. This was a bonus for me. I also like the way I can stand this mixer on the counter. It was super easy to let the batter drip of the beaters into the bowl. I was able to let the batter drip off the beaters cleanly into the bowl while I got my pans ready. My old hand mixer could not stand as this one does. Here are the photos: 

 out of the box 

the speeds and burst button

whisk and beaters that come with

mixing up the cake 

testing the stand position

 look how the beaters don't make a mess

I am in love with the mixer. Now I know you may be skeptical because I was sent the mixer to review. I would like you to know that I am not paid for my review though I do keep the item. My review is honest and based on the following things that I look for in products I buy. 

Is it easy to put together?
Is it easy to use?
Can it be easily stored?
If it has to sit on my counter, does it take up a lot of space? 
If it is on my counter, does it look good?
Does it perform well?
Is it easy to clean?
Is it durable?
How does it improve my life?
If I need parts replaced, is it possible?
What is the company reputation for customer service?

The Hamilton Beach ErgoMix Hand Mixer was very easy to put together. It comes assembled except for the whisk or beaters you will choose to use. These attached easily, stayed put and then popped out at the push of the button. It is very easy to use with the guide very conveniently placed. You can see the guide as you are mixing and easily change it or give it burst. It is a heavy mixer but I adjusted easily. I do have arthritis in my shoulder and hands so I was concerned. I think the design helps with the adjustment. If you are getting this for someone with hand/arm strength issues, you may want to have them try out the feel at the store. It is easy to store as it fit on my shelf, in the standing position.
I love the performance. This is another area of concern for me. I have purchased hand mixers in the past that died an early death. This is the reason why my review was held a bit. I wanted to be able to tell you if it died. I have used this everyday. It's the season. I have made eggs, mashed potatoes, an amazing amount of cookies, cakes and cupcakes. I have mixed sauces and even made meringue, (I can't begin to tell you how terrified I have been to make that. Now, I wonder what was wrong with me). The ErgoMix has held up beautifully and my hand and shoulder did not ache like it did with the other hand mixers. It performs well, is durable and has certainly made my holiday season easier. It is very easy to clean. Wipe the main part, (do not immerse in water),  and wash the whisk/beaters normally. As for the company reputation, I have used Hamilton Beach products for years. My mom used Hamilton Beach. I did not need to call customer service so I did not try speaking with them. Their reputation with me is solid from 40 years experience. Honestly, this is my favorite company. I check out others and am always interested in what people have to say, but I have never been disappointed with Hamilton Beach
If you are looking for a gift for someone who enjoys cooking and baking, the ErgoMix would be a good selection. It looks nice, works fabulously and is easy on the hand/arm. A huge plus is that while it looks pricey, it is not expensive. Go for it. You might get some tasty treats out of it. 

Thank you for stopping by today. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I will answer them to the best of my ability. 





Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: Final Girls

Final Girls Final Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once I started reading Final Girls I couldn’t stop. I was glued all the to the surprising end.

View all my reviews

Review: Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I both read and listened to this book. It is enormous but engrossing. It is definitely a book you want to plan the reading of, (I ended up making a daily goal for it). I first attempted listening to it, (the narration was impressive. Seriously, get an Audible copy). Then I was able to get a hard copy from the library and started over, alternating between the two.
The story was extremely interesting for me. My family is from the area where it is set. I wish I could say that some of the setting wasn’t accurate but, with the current drug issues, sadly it was. With a setting I knew and characters I might, I was easily sucked into the story. I really enjoyed it when “ Our Place,” came in to the story. That was interesting and the ending was an incredible ride. The book seems more like drama than horror to me. Though I would be freaked if women were to fall asleep inside cocoons. I will choose to leave it there as I don’t want to spoil the story by mentioning other aspects that freaked me out. There were plenty of moments of horror but mostly I saw the story as drama. It didn’t keep me up, terrified to sleep, like earlier works did. But I was invested early and stayed invested to the end. It is interesting to read of this during a time when men and women are struggling to find balance in this “equality” for all society.
I enjoyed the story. It was fun to read a story written by father and son. I have read, and am a fan of, Joe Hill, (I loved seeing him get a nod). This is my first time reading Owen King. He didn’t disappoint me and I am interested in reading other work by him. It is amazing how much writing talent is in this family, (though somewhat expected given both parents are excellent storytellers). I would recommend the book though I would caution not to expect the horror of previous books like The Shining or It. I think if you go in knowing that, you will be able to enjoy the story more.

View all my reviews

Review: What Of Us Remains?

What Of Us Remains? What Of Us Remains? by Mila A. Ballentine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What Of Us Remains starts out a bit choppy but smooths out. I read other books by Ms Ballentine and she is a wonderful writer. The zombie genre, though, is a harsh one. Finding ways to stay true to it while incorporating fresh air is difficult. Ms Ballentine tries hard. The book is short so there really wasn’t the typical character building and scenery that you find in the author’s other books. I had a difficult time relating to the lead character. Some of that may be from the author trying to portray the typical New Yorker and giving her a toughness that makes it difficult to know her. It was interesting having a minority as the main character and having it start off in a big city. I haven’t found either to be in abundance in this genre, (could just be the books I choose as there has been an explosion in this genre). This gave the book a unique story. I would love to see the story fleshed out a bit. Perhaps made longer with the opportunity to get a feel for the characters, the neighborhood in the city and an addition of a few more zombie scenes.

View all my reviews

Review: Holiday Hearts A Sweet and Wholesome Romance Bundle

Holiday Hearts A Sweet and Wholesome Romance Bundle Holiday Hearts A Sweet and Wholesome Romance Bundle by Josie Riviera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet holiday stories. These are fairly quick reads. My favorite was Candleglow and Mistletoe followed closely by A Snowy White Christmas then A Portuguese Christmas. Though really they each are memorable in their own ways. Ms. Riviera does an excellent job creating a picture of where each story takes place. It is easy to become lost in them and ease the stress of the day. The stories are separate and don’t rely upon each other. This makes it an excellent choice for the busy holiday season. You can choose one in any order, escape in it for a bit and read the others at a different time. Or you can set aside time to read them all at once. With this type of set either way works well. If you are looking for easy stories to ease your stress and take you away, (A Portuguese Christmas is especially great at going away...the author did an amazing job with presenting an accurate Christmas in Portugal), I would definitely recommend this set of holiday books.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: Girl's Guide to Witchcraft

Girl's Guide to Witchcraft Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book so much! I liked the majority of the characters a lot. Jane is a favorite and I am so invested in what happens to her. I want to begin reading the next book now. I like that no one is perfect in the story. I love all the emotions that Jane went through. Nothing was glossed over. It is one of the most honest, true to life paranormal story I have read in awhile. I love being taken away by fantasy and had forgotten how good it can feel to meet a character you can relate so well to. At times this book had the feel of Practical Magic for me. (That is good as that book is a favorite with my girls and me.) I'm not big on books I love being made for the screen. It is so iffy on how they will turn out that it scares me. However this is a series that I think would be truly fun to see made for the screen. I laughed way too often reading this book. It has definitely made my list of favorite reads for this year.

There are mature scenes though nothing explicit in this book for those who want that information.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: In Time For Christmas

In Time For Christmas In Time For Christmas by Mona Risk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Time For Christmas is a delightful story. Sylvia hasn’t made it home for the last couple of Christmases. This year she plans to have Christmas with her family. What she doesn’t have plans for is romance. But you know what happens with carefully made plans, right? And being too busy for romance is like tossing out a challenge. Will Sylvia make it home for Christmas? Will she get an unexpected Christmas gift? This book is a perfect book for relaxing after a day of holiday rushing around. When commercialism threatens your holiday spirit, put your jammies and grab some cocoa. Then get comfy and spend the evening reading. Let Mona Risk sweep you away from reality In Time For Christmas!
I purchased the box set, Sweet Christmas Kisses 4, which includes this story. My verified purchase will be on that book. This is a sweet romance so no worries about sexy scenes or language you prefer not to read. It is a safe Christmas romance for teen, young adult readers and those whose preference is clean stories.

View all my reviews

Review: Twelve Slays of Christmas

Twelve Slays of Christmas Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is so much I enjoyed of this book! First the name, Twelve Slays of Christmas. The play off of Twelve Days of Christmas had me wanting to know more. Then I noticed the author name, Jacqueline Frost. I’m singing Christmas Carols. But then I saw the gorgeous cover! I freely admit I am a cover lover. I will buy a book I know nothing about if the cover is done well enough. I had been drooling for days over this book, when the Cozy Mystery Review Crew offered me the opportunity to review it. I pounced on it.
The main character is Holly who goes home to Mistletoe, Maine after a romantic disaster. Her family owns the local tree farm and participates heavily in the town’s Reindeer Games. Holly is not home long when she hears a scream for help and comes across a dead body. Yikes! The sheriff is a good looking single ex cop from Boston. Holly begins asking questions which leads to danger for her, her parents and the tree farm.
I like many of the characters but especially Cookie, Ray and his family. I am hoping this book is the first in a series that will allow these characters room to blossom. I love a sense of fun in my cozy mysteries and I believe these characters have wonderful senses of humor. I like the play Holly and the Sheriff have. I think they are good together but I can also see Holly with Ray. It will be interesting to see if a triangle develops. The mystery itself was filled with suspects. A few I discounted quickly but there were some twists that kept me guessing with others. I would discard a suspect but then bring them back for another look all the way up to the end. The series is a Christmas Tree Farm Mystery but I can see interesting things happening year round. The author could go in the direction of holiday books in this series, which would also be a delight. I am really excited about this series and what the author will do with it. I honestly had a hard time putting the book down. On the inside back jacket, the blurb about the author stated, “Jacqueline Frost is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile.” Well, Ms Frost, congratulations. You had me smiling all the way through the book. To those considering this book, if you are looking for a fun afternoon filled with the delight Christmas brings, get a copy of this book. Buy it. Request it from your library. Definitely get a copy and then settle in for an afternoon of entertainment.
Thank you to the Cozy Mystery Review Crew for providing me with a review copy of the book. The opinions expressed are my honest feelings about the book. For those who enjoy their mysteries a little harder edged, this may not be for you. But for those who want the small town holiday feel with a dab of romance, a pet or two, three or more and a sense of fun while solving a murder, this just may provide you with hours of smiles.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Dog Days of Love

Dog Days of Love Dog Days of Love by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Have A Hart series by Rachelle Ayala. Each time I read a book in this series it is like meeting up with old friends and spending time catching up. The stories in the series are connected and most can be read out of order. This one, though, I would suggest you read Summer Love Puppy first. You will meet one of the main characters in it. This story also has a minor background story that continues from Summer Love Puppy.

One of the things I have come to look forward to with Rachelle Ayala books is the reflection of an issue in today’s world. Ms Ayala has a tremendous talent for shining a light on a contemporary issue using care, intelligence and respect. She educates with a story that is fun to read. In Dog Days of Love she writes of interracial dating and of doing what is expected of us or doing what we want. How often do we get stuck in doing what is expected of us even if it stresses us out or is making us unhappy? How do we make the change, without disappointing people we care about, to doing what makes us happy? What if we don’t even realize what is expected, is what is holding us back? These are the questions that Nessa and Dale need to find the answers to. Will they be able to find their happiness? Will their happiness hurt the ones they love? How do you make that choice and live with it?

This story is a sweet romance which means no graphic language, sex or extreme violence. I would recommend it to teens and up. This book does contain references to faith, though, in my opinion, it is not heavy handed and is relevant to the story.

I received an ARC electronic edition of this book, from the author, for review consideration. The edition I reviewed may be slightly different from the actual book. Upon release I may edit this review if any changes are significant and/or relevant to my review.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Calm Before The Storm

Calm Before The Storm Calm Before The Storm by Ryan Mullaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This was intense. It is loaded with action and suspense. I was surprised by it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Method

The Method The Method by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting story. It had quite a few turns in it. Just when you think you know who you can trust, bam! You are hit with something that pulls the rug from under your feet.I stayed up reading just to find out how the heck it was going to end!

View all my reviews

Review: Heartwarming Holiday Wishes

Heartwarming Holiday Wishes Heartwarming Holiday Wishes by Anna Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Christmas! It is the most magical time of year for me. I look forward to the decorations, movies, music and books. The Heartwarming Holiday Wishes series is one of the most anticipated collections for me. I am never disappointed with a trip to Christmas Town. It is magical how these authors take a central theme set in the same town and make each story unique yet connected. This year the theme is a Christmas Stocking. Every story was a delight to read. I can't even pick a favorite because they were all so wonderful. I recommend reading these anytime you want to feel the spirit of Christmas.
These are all clean stories. I would share them with teens as well as adults who prefer stories that don't have graphic content.

View all my reviews

Review: Death of a Wolfman

Death of a Wolfman Death of a Wolfman by Susan Boles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading Death of A Wolfman. I found the characters to be likable and realistic. I love the relationship between Lily Gayle and her sheriff cousin. The mystery was not too hard but it definitely was fun to read about. I had a few scenes that had me laughing hard which had people asking what I was reading. This was a new author for me and I am looking forward to enjoying more Lily Gayle cozy mysteries.


View all my reviews

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: The Pain Eater

The Pain Eater The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this book down. It is not an easy subject matter. It is definitely not an easy book to read. I do think it is an important one. It is one I would tell friends to read with their teenagers and talk about it. It is one that I would tell those moms and dads listen carefully and with an open, no judgment mind when they talk to their teenager. Nothing will be easy about that. The act and what happened after will make you uncomfortable. Listening to your child may make you, and them, uncomfortable. That’s okay because that is how you know growth and change are not only possible but happening. Read this book. Talk about it. Pass it on.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Starboard Secrets

Starboard Secrets Starboard Secrets by Hope Callaghan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really had fun with this book. I thought it was humorous. I really like Millie. No. I think I love her. She has so many good qualities including a fantastic sense of humor. I did wish she would stop saying her name is Mildred but call me Millie. Fair warning: this is another cozy where it may not be for you, if you aren't willing to suspend reality. I can easily do that and so I had fun. I'm looking forward to reading more!

View all my reviews

Review: Final Sentence

Final Sentence Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed it but there were things that bothered me. I would actually rate this a 3.5 because of them. I didn't really understand the how and why of some scenes. I don't want to give away anything but there were 2 things that happened that needed better explanations. One involved Jenna's husband and the other her dad. Little by little I did understand it more but I think it started too vague.
I enjoy cooking and love cookbooks. This book has a lot of references to them. That was fun for me. I enjoyed trying to match mine with those mentioned. I thought it was funny that Jenna really has no idea about cooking. It just goes to show that partners in a business may have different roles and experience to offer in making a business successful. If you are the type of reader who wants their story absolutely grounded in reality, this might not be the best fit. I suspended reality and just enjoyed the story. I can't say if I really like Jenna or not. I think she needs a bit more development. However I love Aunt Vera who I thought was fun. I am looking forward to seeing this series develop. I liked the concept of the cookbook shop and the culinary classes. I enjoyed the references to the entertainment industry. That was fun to see. I had an enjoyable night with it.
I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Facebook. A review was not required or requested.

View all my reviews

Review: The House that Death Built

The House that Death Built The House that Death Built by John Llewellyn Probert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It wasn't what I was expecting but I did enjoy it a lot. I was expecting it to be a bit scarier, though I did find it scary. I wasn't expecting how funny it was. The dialogue was truly awesome. Perhaps that is what kept it from being too scary for me. If you are looking for a haunted house to spend a chilly, dreary day in, get this book. I read it on a windy night and the howling wind just made the atmosphere perfect!

View all my reviews

Review: Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Legends, and Mysteries of Southeast Alaska

Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Legends, and Mysteries of Southeast Alaska Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Legends, and Mysteries of Southeast Alaska by Bjorn Dihle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Interesting book about hauntings in Alaska's Inside Passage which includes Juneau, where I live. I was very happy to read the stories told by Renee Hughes, a Juneau local. All the stories were fun to read. Some I had heard of but did not know the full story. I loved reading the history about the sightings and the areas. Definitely a book you want to read if you are interested in ghost sighting and folklore in Southeast Alaska. I would recommend it!

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier

Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier by Joni B. Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have wanted to write since I was a child in school. It seems like there was always another world going on in my head. I wrote out some stories in school. As life went on I continued to write but not sharing. I never thought I was good enough or knew enough to truly write. This book was perfect for me! I used an entire pad of sticky notes. Page after page have little pink squares on them. There is a wealth of information in between the covers. The best part? It is written so you understand and are encouraged. You are encouraged to take the writing class. You are encouraged to write. You are encouraged to share what you write. You are told not everyone will like it. You are told you probably won't be great. You are told to write anyway. The author is herself a writing instructor as well as author. She truly gives a solid look at writing. More important she gives a solid look at being happy writing. It is the most motivational and helpful writing book, I have read. You come away encouraged and ready to start writing. You may have already started by doing the exercises in the book. I did which is why it took so long to finish the book. In honesty, I am not done with it. I don't think I will ever be done with it. I keep going back and over things and doing the exercises mentioned, this way then that way. If you write, want to write, are intimidated to write, buy this book. You will grow from it and will probably use it over and over.
I was offered this book for review purposes. Thank you to Joni B. Cole for providing a copy of it for an honest review. I am giving copies for Christmas to a my son and a few others who want to write but aren't confident. I know they will find it to be a writer's treasure.

View all my reviews

Review: Strange Weather

Strange Weather Strange Weather by Joe Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed Joe Hill books before. He does horror very well.
Strange Weather is a collection of four short stories. My favorite was Loaded. All of the stories were good creepy reads. Not the horror I was expecting but I enjoyed the book the same. The stories are the kind of scary that creeps up on you. You know something is wrong. Then, 'bam!' there it is. Different from what you expected so you are surprised at the turn of events. I truly enjoyed that.
The stories are not connected so you can read them in whatever order you choose. All of them will offer you an escape into another place, not necessarily away from reality though. I don't do spoilers and, with short stories, I'd rather you read them. Especially these. Grab the book and settle in. If your on a plane, you might choose 'Aloft'. I think that would be heart stopping.
Thank you to William Morrow Books for the giveaway. I am so excited to have won this amazing book!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Ax To Grind

Ax To Grind Ax To Grind by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I was reading this book it occurred to me that I get excited by Tonya Kappes coming out with a new book because the characters really feel like old friends or family. The Kenni Lowry Mysteries are no different. Ax to Grind is the third book in the series.

Kenni Lowry is sheriff of Cottonwood. Her grandfather, "Poppa," is her helper from the other side and Finn Vincent is the hunky deputy from Chicago, (who is also the love interest). The budding romance works so well because Momma trying to marry Kenni off and have her be a proper Southern wife is funny, (and truly kind of real -I'm constantly hearing about that. There is a lot I relate to in Tonya's books.). In book three we have a murder mystery that revolves around an author and her final tell all manuscript. There are enough potential suspects and curves to keep you guessing until the end.

The book does close with a final ending making it easy to read as a stand alone or out of order, (though for the flow of the romance, I would suggest reading them in order). The book is clean making it fine for listening on audio. I received an arc from Net Galley for review purposes but have also purchased the book. I highly recommend this book, (and series). Tonya Kappes books are addictive and best enjoyed with coffee and a brownie.



View all my reviews

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cooking Made Easy With Hamilton Beach

Today I would like to talk about cooking. I love being in the kitchen. Living in Alaska, we get fall temperatures faster than the Lower 48 and nothing says fall is here like good smells coming from the kitchen. Soups, stews, roasts, casseroles, breads, cake. They all smell so enticing as they heat up the house. Prepping though can really tie you down. Let's face it, as much as I love being in the kitchen and cooking, I do have other things to do. Like reading. Ha ha. Okay, other things that need my attention, too. Our days can seem endless when we have so many things that need to be done. I'm getting older, too. With that comes more joy than you can imagine as it brings aches and pains out of the blue. I always thought my grandparents could tell the weather by the sky or the way tree leaves look. Now I know. It was their bodies. We are more accurate than the nightly weather person. Honestly, need to know this week's forecast, ask an older adult how they feel.

Products that help me manage time are great. Ones that help me with time and my aches are phenomenal. That is why I turn to Hamilton Beach. They have a variety of products that help me in the kitchen, both with time and my needs. Recently they sent me a food processor to try. I am not paid for my review though I do keep the item. My review is honest and based on the following things that I look for in products I buy. 

Is it easy to put together?
Is it easy to use?
Can it be easily stored?
If it has to sit on my counter, does it take up a lot of space? 
If it is on my counter, does it look good?
Does it perform well?
Is it easy to clean?
Is it durable?
How does it improve my life?
If I need parts replaced, is it possible?
What is the company reputation for customer service?

I received the Hamilton Beach® Professional 14 Cup Dicing Food Processor. It is amazing although a bit intimidating to look at. It came with a storage container for all the blades. It is a beauty! As intimidating as it looks, I was happily surprised at how easy it was to put together! Everything just fits easily in place and then you raise the arm to lock it in place. Easy peasy. (Yes that is Hamilton Beach's Breakfast Burrito Maker in the background. If you need a delicious yet nutritious breakfast, fast, the breakfast sandwich maker is the appliance to have. I use it every weekday.) 




 I have used it in a variety of ways. I have made egg salad, sliced potatoes for a casserole, diced carrots and onion for soup, mixed a cake, kneaded rolls and made the Salted Peanut Cookie recipe from the product guide book. It is amazingly easy to use. I absolutely love it!


 Check out the potato slices! Perfect for my casserole, fried potatoes or potato chips. So much healthier than buying a bag of chips. Less expensive too! I found this to be an amazing help for drying potato slices. I sliced a whole bowl in seconds and had them in the dehydrator in no time.



 The blades lock on. If you can't easy lock it in place, it is the wrong side.



I diced carrots and onions. This was an amazing help in making my vegetables for soups and for dehydrating purposes. If you dehydrate food, or cook for holiday parties or large families,  this is a food processor you want.






 I love this tool! What is it, you ask? It is the dicing cleaning tool. It will push through any food left in the blade after chopping and then you can use it when you wash the dicing grid. It is super awesome. No more cut fingers.



This is my egg salad. I usually roughly chop  the eggs, onion and celery. I was making the sandwiches, though, for some older friends. Some of them have trouble eating. I decided to put everything in the bowl and mix it in there. It came out perfect for making smooth, easy to eat sandwiches.


This is one of my soups. It is super tasty. I had a little pork, a can of green enchilada sauce, hominy and some fresh veggies. I decided to toss it in my Instant Pot and see what happens. I used my food processor to chop all my vegetables. It was in my pot and 20 minutes later it was ready to serve. Recipe below, though I honestly do not measure things. I am one of those people who learned to cook by eye, smell and taste.



So to answer my buying questions:

Yes to both easy to put together and use. I found it very easy to clean. The biggest problem was the dicing grid with onions. Other than that clean up was almost as fast as using it.

I have mixed feelings regarding easy storage. The food processor is big, so no room in my cabinets. If you have a large kitchen or pantry, this may not be a problem for you. The storage container is a YES. All the blades are safely stored inside it and I could put it in my cabinet out of the way of small, curious hands.

The food processor is impressive and I like it on my counter. It makes it easy for me to use. However, you do need open space or it may hit the bottom of upper cabinets. It does take up a bit of space on the counter. I'm okay with that. It definitely looks good on my counter and I hear compliments on it.

Performance is exceptional. Easy to use. It is way safer than my old food processor. I have used it almost daily and it has not overheated or broken down. Everything looks well made. If you need to replace something, on their web site you can find a section titled parts and accessories. It comes with a 5 year warranty so you can call the company with any problems. I have used Hamilton Beach products for years. My mom used Hamilton Beach. I did not need to call customer service so I did not try speaking with them. Their reputation with me is solid from 40 years experience.

The instruction guidebook has detailed instructions, troubleshooting advice, tips, charts, care and cleaning instructions, processing times with which blade is best, and a few recipes. The booklet comes in English, French and Spanish. This booklet also contains your warranty information.

My verdict on this is if space is an issue you may want something smaller. Otherwise, I would recommend the Hamilton Beach® Professional 14 Cup Dicing Food Processor. I can't wait for holiday cooking! I am already planning my menu and delighting in how easy it is going to be!

Hearty Pork Soup

1 pound boneless pork, cubed
2 cups diced potatoes, 
1 cup diced carrots
1 diced onion
1 can, drained, hominy 
1 packet dry soup mix (I used onion)
1 can green enchilada sauce
water

I put all this together in my instant pot, adding enough water to cover it all. then hit soup. While it was cooking I took my left over fresh vegetables and chopped them. I had cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower,carrots and a little spinach. I threw it all in the processor and chopped it. When the soup was finished I topped each bowl with the fresh vegetable mix. It was filling and tasty, tasty. 
No, I did not use any additional salt. I did sprinkle some pepper on the soup of those who like pepper. 

Thank you for stopping by today. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I will answer them to the best of my ability. 






Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Cozy Mysteries Cookbook: Recipes from Hope Callaghan's Cozy Mystery Books

Cozy Mysteries Cookbook: Recipes from Hope Callaghan's Cozy Mystery Books Cozy Mysteries Cookbook: Recipes from Hope Callaghan's Cozy Mystery Books by Hope Callaghan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore this recipe book! I admit that while I have several books by the author in my tbr and my Kindle, I haven't gotten around to reading them. That has changed. I am making it a point to include at least one this month.

I received an email from the author telling me about the cookbook. Being a cookbook hoarder and lover of all things in the kitchen, I immediately purchased the book. I figured it would have a few recipes, and then try to sell me books. It does. However, I was surprised by the number of recipes there were. Not only that but these were all recipes I would have very little issue with making! Holy cow! The recipes all look good, sound easy peasy to make, have ingredients that are relatively easy to find and they are reasonably priced ingredients. Winner, winner! Chicken Dinner! (Appropriate because there are several delicious chicken recipes in the book). Don't think that is all because it gets even better. Hard to believe but it's true. Along with the chicken recipes there are recipes to cover just about anything you can think of, including homemade dog biscuits you can feel good giving your pet. Zoey, (my shih tzu reading companion), is as exited as I am.
As if that isn't enough we come to the sales pitch. Normally I roll my eyes at the amount of advertising in books of this type. Yes, I know. The author is trying to interest you in their books. I understand that. I am just one of those readers who doesn't want to hear what publisher's or professional reviewers have to say. They are all paid or have some type of investment in the book/author. I do like to hear what everyday people, like my friends, have to say. Their investment is having a good story or feeling like the author gave them a good deal for their money. I am digressing. Sorry. Pet peeve.

The author gives an introduction to her mystery solving main characters at the beginning of the book. That was ideal for me. I liked her covers, which show these characters. They looked like fun people, so I bought the books. But I haven't read them. The introduction provided me with the information that I would like these characters. Then, instead of half a book of professional praise, the author provided snippets from her books. I have seen that in a few author cookbooks. Usually it is the first couple of pages. This author, though, provided snippets where the characters were talking about the recipes! How fun is that! I absolutely loved this idea. Not only did it get me excited about the recipe, it got me excited about the books.

I am always wary of new authors and first chapter peeks. The first chapter is the lure. Everyone dresses up their first chapter and makes certain it is the best it can be. Occasionally, though, they get lost in the middle or, even worse, the end, and lose steam. Then you have to make the dreaded decision, do I muddle through hoping the author gets back on track or do I shelf it as DNF? Or you are just angry that all was good and the ending fizzled out with no hope of redemption. Another pet peeve.

Hope Callaghan provides snippets that are likely found all over her books. They were chosen because they mention a recipe in the cookbook. This gives me a much better look at Ms. Callaghan's writing. It allows me to determine if her characters are who I thought they are. It gives me an opportunity to see if the story is truly interesting. Then, because both of those were positives for me, it got me excited about the books sitting in my tbr. So I will be making a shopping list and dedicating at least one day this month to cooking from this book while reading the books that contain the references to the recipes.

I would recommend this cookbook to everyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and likes to eat. Most of the recipes are easy enough for a beginning cook. The snippets have nothing in them to worry about a young teen reading them. It is a cookbook that is fun as well as functional. If you are thinking of getting it, I would tell you to give it a try. If you have specific dietary needs, please use the sample to see if you would find the recipes useful or easily adaptable. Otherwise, go get it.

Oh! the author does provide links, at the end, to her books on sale, to her books divided up by series and the order of them and to her newsletter where you can get free books along with information she shares with her readers.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: Do Not Become Alarmed

Do Not Become Alarmed Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a difficult book to review. I gave it 4 stars as it kept me up, listening, until 5 am. Then I had to take a break to sleep but immediately picked it back up to finish. I had to know about the children. This sounds like an easy peasy 5 star, right? No. Wrong.
The story does ensnare you in its trap. I didn't find myself really liking nearly everyone, including most of the children. Some parts were difficult to read/hear. Some parts didn't make a lot of sense, (behaviors of some adults and even the children). At one point I rooted for the kidnappers! (I can handle whiny kids but at this particular point, I felt it would have been justified. If you choose to read this book, you will immediately recognize that point). It left a bad taste in my mouth after the ending settled and I sat down to write this.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but to carefully selected individuals. It is a gripping story. It is interesting. It is one where you could find plenty to discuss. But it is not for everyone. I suspect this book might end up being placed on a lot of DNF shelves.
There is a rape scene, involving one of the older children. It was very difficult to get through. If you want to read the book but not this part, when two of the kidnappers are drinking and playing cards, jump a few pages or fast forward a couple minutes. This book is definitely intended for a mature audience.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review: Deck the Hearts

Deck the Hearts Deck the Hearts by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deck the Hearts takes us to Christmas Creek where we find Holly decorating a mansion for the Christmas gala. The woman who owned the mansion has passed away and willed it to her nephew, Gordon. When it comes to Christmas, Gordon could be described as the grinch. What will be the outcome when Gordon shows up in Christmas Creek?

I enjoyed this short story. I totally identify with Holly. As a matter of fact, though it is September, I had on my Christmas jammies, Christmas lights up and on, I made sugar cookies with hot chocolate and settled in my Christmas blanket to listen to it on Audible. My other half, however, identifies with grinch, (especially if it is not December). Grumpy, grumpy. A plate of cookies kept him from complaining too much. I settled in and was enjoying myself while he was playing Sheltered on Steam. All of a sudden he tells me to stop the story. I start to get slightly huffy, after all it is around 2 hours to read. He stops me again, (must be playing the game that has him so brave - haha), and then tells me he needs to use the bathroom so don't resume until he gets back. Well, that certainly shut my mouth. He not only was listening, he was invested in the story! That is big news as when he is gaming I could dance naked with the seven dwarfs and he would just ask for the plate of cookies. That was the moment I knew it just wasn't my love of all things Christmas but the story was really good. So take it from the gamer guy and read this story. He actually said to listen to it but I'll leave that up to you.

We listened to this on Audible. The narrator, Kate Marcin, was awesome. She is a favorite narrator of mine. I especially love hearing her sing snatches of the Christmas Carols mentioned in the story.

Another winner from author, Rachelle Ayala. Ms Ayala can really write a story! She researches enough to have them realistic yet still take you away. Her words draws you into the story and by the end, you feel like the characters are friends or family. If you haven't read anything by her, take a chance.

View all my reviews

Review: A Pet For Christmas

A Pet For Christmas A Pet For Christmas by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series! This is the second book of three. In the first we met Kelly and her daughter Bree. Bree asks Santa for a father and we are introduced to Tyler, a veteran with deep issues. In this book Tyler has gone to Afghanistan. Kelly is pregnant and Bree has decided to ask Santa for a dog. That is the easy and brief description. There is way more going on in this heart wrenching story but I would rather let you discover it on your own. I love Bree. She is adorable and has an unshakable belief that everything will be fine. As with real life, the deepest believers are small children. We could learn something there. I like Tyler but Kelly I haven't ever been a fan of. I know too many people like her. The characters are realistic. You may or may not like them but will probably recognize them. In my opinion, they make a good couple. They can balance each other and each has something to learn from the other.

I would recommend this book to romance readers who want a deeply intelligent story to go with the romance. This book,in my opinion, is a clean read. It does deal with mature issues. In my opinion Rachelle Ayala is not an author who shies away from contemporary issues. Instead she researches them and then puts them on display in a very real way.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Poet's Diary 1 Book Blast







Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Xlibris
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 58
Genre: Poetry
Tour Dates: September 4 - 15

  Add to GR Button   

A Poet's Diary 1 is a collection of thought-provoking poems such as, "It Doesn't Stop Me from Being Happy," "When I Think of Love," "Police State," and "God's Recipe for Love. " As his poetic words flow, thought-provoking observations and experiences will have the reader mentally and emotionally stimulated.

SIGN UP HERE







Monday, September 4
Book featured at Mythical Books
Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life
Book featured at Author CA Milson

Tuesday, September 5
Book featured at T's Stuff
Book featured at Comfy Chair Books

Wednesday, September 6
Book featured at Alaskan Book Cafe
Book featured at What is That Book About

Thursday, September 7
Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla
Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords

Friday, September 8
Book featured at Book Babble
Book featured at Voodoo Princess

Monday, September 11
Book featured at The Literary Nook

Tuesday, September 12
Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Book featured at A Book Lover

Wednesday, September 13
Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Book featured at Lover of Literature

Thursday, September 14
Book featured at The Bookworm Chronicles
Book featured at I'm Shelf-ish

Friday, September 15
Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures
Book featured at A Title Wave

Review: The Secret

The Secret by Kathi Daley My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is a really good cozy mystery for reading with te...