Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Give an ADULT Easter Present (review and giveaway)

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge,from fFox Chapel Publishing for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them.


EASTER GIFT IDEAS

Sometimes you just want your OWN Easter basket, right?

You know the feeling- you've added all the fun toys and candy to your kid's baskets, and then you look at them and sigh,....

Thinking I really wish I got surprised with an Easter basket too...

How about if I told you there was a way to give yourself the equivalent?



Don't these just make you smile?

"Pretending to be normal day after day is exhausting," says Suzy Toronto.

 Toronto is a self-proclaimed "wacky" woman, and she wants others to embrace their inner wackiness too. In fact, she's created an entire art brand that speaks (mostly) to girls and women, inspiring them to embrace their rarity, goofiness, and everything that makes them unique—no matter how silly it may seem. Doesn't that just sound perfect for Spring and Easter?


toronto products

Toronto works out of her home studio in Smyrna Beach, Florida where she creates playful and distinctive artwork for a variety of products—from mugs to coloring books to cell phone covers and everything in between (and all available on her website, and on Amazon). She even has a Celtic Creations category (course we DO need to talk to her about an Irish Dance print about giving a girl the right shoes, but still, VERY impressed with the offerings there!).Her newest creations come in the form of coloring books with her latest book, Tingle Boots, stating loud and proud that "life is better in boots." The books are available in the 8.5 x 11 size, and a smaller 5 x 8 size, perfect for putting in your purse!

coloring book sample

In each book, Suzy Toronto sprinkles encouraging and empowering quotes on the left side pages, with the coloring art on the right, each with their own uniqe quote as well. "Release your inner child and believe in yourself again," Toronto says. "There's more inside you than you ever dreamed possible! "Ultimately, Toronto's goal is to continue empowering women. "We believe in women. We uplift women. We empower women. And we support women whenever and however we can," she says. 

We were able to check out her line of adult coloring books, and share them with you:

toronto coloring books 1

Each book offers colored pictures of the prints within, for some color suggestions and also contains a color wheel guide, to start you on your way. But really it is about just letting go and COLORING, and being inspired by the quote on the picture!


laughter sample page Light & Laughter Coloring Book- in this light heated book, Suzy shows that its ok to break the rules, so long as we stay true to who we are and learn to laugh at our mistakes. She inspires us to reach outside our comfort one and embrace every moment with passion, and always to color outside the lines! And we've all been there, when we need a quote to make us smile and laugh, despite the chaos around us! personally I want to put the circus print (left) at the front door- just as a warning! LOL  

sisterhood sample pageSisterhood Coloring Book- it's all about how you handle Plan B! Life is a wild and wacky roller coaster ride, full of fun and laughter, but also jammed with jolting twists and turns. Meet the bold sisters, friends, daughters and mothers, who always rise to the occasion, despite overwhelming odds. This book celebrates the power of sisterhood and what it means to turn lemons into lemonade. This is the perfect book to give to your sibling, to remind her that not only are you there for her, but you totally get where she is coming from, and what has made her the unique woman that she is today! And maybe to offer a bit of encouragement too!

friendship sample page Friendship Coloring Book- Why be normal when you can be a goddess? Goddesses are forever friends who make life infinitely more interesting, fun, exciting, peaceful, joyful, and real, Together they laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter, and live a little better. Celebrate the gift of unconditional and unending friendship with this empowering coloring book. I can't imagine a better book for gift giving to your bestie! Especially since it includes this wonderful quote (left)! Wouldn't it be sweet to add a letter telling your bestie JUST how much she means to you and attaching to that page? Who wouldn't love receiving such a special gift? I know this is a book I'll be giving to ALL of my best friends!

toronto coloring books 2



inspiration sample pageInspiration &Encouragement Coloring Book- if you want rainbows, you gotta have rain, so pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go out and look for puddles to play in! This inspirational and empowering book celebrates the bravery that it takes to be authentic, and what it means to ignite your passion and make each day ridiculously amazing. This is another great book for gift giving, to your bestie, or family member, that you could use a reminder, or two, that they are very special and sometimes what makes us special is those moments that seem to break us, but only make us stronger! This quote (right) reminds me of my bestie's dad, who paraphrases his late wife, by always saying, just put on some lipstick and you'll feel better! It always makes us smile, even if we know we may need more than that!

tingle boots sample page Tingle Boots- Are aware that you are rare? If a rockin hot pair of boots makes you heart tingle and your spirit soar, this is the book for you! Life is just better in boots, so pull on a pair and take the day! This princess doesn't wear glass slippers, she wears cowboy boots! This wacky and empowering book is all about chasing your dreams in the cutest boots possible that you can find. I gotta admit, I'm partial to this book, mainly because well, you see, I have a boot addiction. LOL. Call it a Southern thing, but we country girls KNOW when you've got a great pair of boots on, you feel like you can take on the world (especially if you have the right shade of lipstick to match 'em!)! Miss Grace is already fighting me over this book (which I claimed as an Easter gift for ME!), as she's on her way to a good boot addiction, thanks to me and her Grandma! if you love boots, or have a friend that does, you gotta get this book!


tingle boots sample page 2

All of the books feature high quality thick paper, which takes crayon, pencil and marker with ease, as you can see. There is no bleed through like you can see on other book series, and each page is perforated for EASY removal and framing! The pages feature enough art to keep you busy for a bit, but not so extensive, that you don't feel like you can finish one page in a day. In fact, I finished the page above in about 15 minutes, so really they're the perfect size for when you need a coffee break of creativity and inspiration!

 I really can't recommend these books enough! I love how easy they are to use and pull out, and really you may find yourself wanting to frame EACH one! How about rotating the quotes out every month, so you have fresh inspiration? The books would also make GREAT Mother's Day and Baby shower gift ideas!

And since I love ya'll SO much- how about a gift of one of these books?

flashing Win

Giveaway:

sisterhood cover

One BTHM reader will get to win this Sisterhood Coloring Book for themselves, 
or to give to their sister!



And how about a freebie?

Just right click on the picture below and you can print it out to color!
It;s a reminder from Suzy to BE YOURSELF!

toronto sample

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!

Recipe Weekend: Crawfish Etoufee Soothes All!

It's CRAWFISH season ya'll!

That means wen we're sick,, since the weather has bounced back and forth, and everyone is fighting serious sinus infections, there is one thing we all want, and it ain't chicken noodle soup!

Yup, we want Crawfish Etoufee!

here's a quick and simple recipe that is PERFECT for on the go weekend eating- just add some French bread and a small salad and you've got a complete meal!

This version from out local Times Picayune is made with butter, so it's easier for ya'll who can't make traditional rouxs!


Crawfish Etouffee
(Makes 4-5 servings)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 cup green onions, minced (white and green parts)
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (with any juice) (you CAN use a can of Rotel tomatoes here is you want to make the recipe quicker, just use half the amount of the juice)
2 cups shrimp stock, clam juice or other fish- or seafood-based broth *
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound peeled crawfish (thawed, if frozen)
Hot cooked rice for serving
Directions:
1. In a large saucepan melt butter and saute onion, celery and shallots until tender. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, and stir constantly until flour is absorbed evenly and starts to color.
2.Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to look broken down a bit.  Add stock and simmer 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and crawfish. Stir well. 
3. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot rice.
See, easy peasy!

*Stock or broth can be made of crawfish or shrimp shells, simmered 15 minutes in water and strained. Or use clam juice plus water to make 2 cups, or stock made with seafood base. (With clam juice, I used 1 small bottle which measured 1 cup, plus 1 cup water.) This is a great recipe to keep on hand and make whenever you need a seafood broth!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: The Meating Room by T. Frank Muir

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Chicago review Press, via Edlweiss,for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it


This last mystery of the day is not one to be read after dark, unless you want a nightmare or two!

It is the 5th book in the Gilchrist series.

the meating room


Synopsis:

When Thomas Magner’s business partner is found dead in his car on the outskirts of St. Andrews, all evidence points to suicide. Meanwhile Magner, a wealthy property developer, is under investigation for a series of alleged rapes almost thirty years ago. In total, eleven women are prepared to go to court to testify against him, but one by one they withdraw their complaints until only six remain. With the procurator fiscal now reconsidering her case, one of the remaining accusers is found brutally murdered in her home. Even though Magner’s alibi is rock solid, DCI Andy Gilchrist is convinced he is somehow responsible. But as Gilchrist and his sidekick DS Jessie Janes dig deeper, they begin to expose Magner’s murky past and uncover a horrifying secret that has lain dormant for decades. Was Magner a serial rapist in his youth? Or was he something much worse? 


Review:

This book starts off with a pretty gruesome murder scene, so be warned, this is NOT a locked room little grey cell mystery. No this is depravity and cruelness shrouded in mystery that rivals an onion, as it has SO many layers! Once again Muir takes Gilchrist and his team through a convoluted case that requires all their special skills to try to figure out, and just when they think they have it, they find out they're wrong, Or ARE they? As the mystery heats up, more crimes evolve and grisley comes back into play. So if you are squeamish,this might NOT be the book for you. But if you can handle it, then this is an awesome read that will have you holding your breath and screaming out loud, as you anxiously turn the pages!


About the Author:

T. Frank Muir is a Scottish crime novelist known for his DCI Andy Gilchrist mysteries, which include Eye for an Eye, Hand for a HandTooth for a Tooth, and Life for a Life. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Frank was plagued from a young age with the urge to see more of the world than the rain sodden slopes of the Campsie Fells.  By the time he graduated from University with a degree he hated, he’d already had more jobs than the River Clyde has bends.  Short stints as a lumberjack in the Scottish Highlands and a moulder’s labourer in the local foundry convinced Frank that his degree was not such a bad idea after all.  Thirty-plus years of living and working overseas helped him appreciate the raw beauty of his home country.  Now a dual US/UK citizen, Frank makes his home in the outskirts of Glasgow, from where he visits St Andrews regularly to carry out some serious research in the old grey town’s many pubs and restaurants.  Frank lives outside of Glasgow, Scotland. Check out his website for more info.

Book Review: Undertow by R.M. Greenway

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Dundurn Press.via Edelweiss, 
for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.


We've got Mystery Thursday today, and this is the 2nd of 3 mystery reviews today!

But this one is set closer to home- Canada!

undertow cover

Synopsis:

RCMP detective Leith fears he’s made a mistake bringing his family to North Vancouver. His first Serious Crimes Unit case has rocked his senses: who would brutally murder a mother, father, and baby? Detective Dion, also regretting the move, has returned to the city where he no longer fits in — but is he back in the swim, or destined to drown? 

A heartbreaking set of murders bring detectives Leith and Dion together in the Lower Mainland, where violence flows like a riptide.


Last summer the inlet waters washed an unnamed woman’s body onto the rocks of North Vancouver’s Neptune shipyards. When RCMP Constable Cal Dion returns home after a year’s absence, he finds the case still open and grown cold.


While Dion works to fit back in and put closure to the Jane Doe drowning case, newly relocated Constable Dave Leith is learning to cope with his first big-city posting. But they have bigger concerns: Why would anyone beat up a young electrician, then track down his wife and baby girl to finish them off? It is a motiveless and haunting killing that leaves behind one small witness and a handful of cryptic clues. And who battered and asphyxiated a wealthy nightclub owner in his own garage? A case of home invasion, by the looks of it. But Leith has a less abstract set of suspects to deal with: the victim’s business partner and his strange little clan.



The North Vancouver General Investigations Section is put to the test, with two files to solve, one tragic cold case, and Dion seemingly lost at sea.

Book Excerpt:

One Bitter End
Lance Liu was beginning to believe he wasn’t dead after all. He hurt all over, he couldn’t see too well, and couldn’t seem to move. But if he were dead, he would be pain-free, wouldn’t he? And probably serene, and looking down a tunnel of warm, bright light. He was distinctly being and doing none of that. 

So he had survived. He blew out a shaky breath. He blinked at the murk above, all dark and dribbly, spattering erratic raindrops on his face. The tree was pissing on him, like it hadn’t done enough already. All around was tall grass, bushes. The bushes made him nervous. Would be nice to have his vision back. Damned shenanigans. 

What had his mom always said? 

Coming events cast their shadows before them.

Or I told you so.

After tonight, he was going to make some major changes in his life. Maybe return to church. He wanted to bring a hand to the side of his head and feel the damage, but couldn’t. Tried to shift his legs but couldn’t. Just needed to calm himself a bit. He tried to pray, stretched out under the giant tree that had smacked him twice. “Dear God,” he whispered, doing his best, because his best was all God required. “Forgive me my — ” but a noise stopped him. He listened hard.

A car sped past above, wet tires on wet road. Was that the noise he heard? He struggled to turn that way. He shouted out, “Hey! Help!”

The car was gone. Didn’t see his vehicle down there, didn’t see trouble, wouldn’t come to his rescue. Nobody would come to his rescue. The panic surged through him like a low-grade electric shock. He couldn’t keep lying there. He needed to get back to the family, make sure they were safe. He managed to flop a knee, up and down, and up again. Good. Not paralyzed.

He made more resolutions as he worked his other leg back to life and flexed his hands. Never rise to a taunt again.

That was what put him in this ditch. Taunts. The SUV dripped privilege, just glared cash — a big, boxy black-and-chrome Hummer telling him I’m rich; you’re a blue-collar shithead. All he had wanted was to level the field, make a buck, and take that guy down a notch. No face-to-face confrontation. No bloodshed. No harm done.

Didn’t happen that way.

* * *
How did it happen? Lance picked up the tail in Deep Cove, as instructed. He was led around town a bit, stopping at the liquor store, and a KFC, and finally hitting the Upper Levels. All good, just two trucks tootling along the highway. Where it went wrong was the Hummer taking an off-ramp, up a sparsely trafficked two-laner, leaving Lance exposed and vulnerable. That would have been a really good time to back off. But he didn’t.

The Hummer sprinted away, topping a hundred in a sixty zone. Lance did his best to keep the vehicle in sight, trying to tail without looking like a tail. The Hummer swerved hard through a hairpin. Lance took the curve more cautiously, but his tires still squealed. At that point he was hit by an epiphany. “I don’t need this,” he declared. He dropped back so the Hummer’s wide-ass tail lights ahead shrank and converged into the darkness. “We don’t need this. Nobody needs this. I’m calling it off. Not just this, but all of it. Pack it in, moving back to Cowtown, with or without you, man.”

The you, man was Sig — the Sig Blatt in his mind, his business partner and pal. Moving west was Sig’s idea, just like this Hummer business. The Sig in his mind was peeved, a pale, blotchy face telling him to stay on that Hummer’s ass. Lance switched him off and spoke to Cheryl instead, the other reason for this move.

Cheryl’s pressure was more a passive insistence. A prairie girl who thought it would be so cool to live on the very edge of the Pacific Rim. “See what I’m doing here?” he told her. “Never had this kind of baloney in Calgary, did we?” He was based in Airdrie, not Calgary, but from this distance — way over on the West Coast — Calgary and Airdrie pretty well converged to a point on the map. “And all this so you could wade in the waves. Well, you waded, didn’t you? Then you said it was cold and dirty and you wanted to go home. One flippin’ day at the beach. Big moves like this don’t come for free. D’you have any idea what that walk on the beach cost us?” He made up a number. “Five hundred dollars a millisecond worth of walk on the beach. No way, princess. I’ve had it. I’m gonna beg Ray for the job back, and we’re outta here tomorrow.”

Sig popped back into view, still griping. But in the end, Sig would pull up stakes, too. He would follow Lance back to Morice & Bros. Electric (1997), and their cheapskate boss Ray Duhammond. Sig would get it, eventually. They just weren’t cut out to be businessmen.

The tail lights were back in sight, for some reason, and growing larger. The Hummer had slowed right down. Lance did, too. He slapped at his jacket pockets, then the seat beside him, piled with receipts, grubby boxes of connectors, a tangle of hand-tools. He found his iPhone and thumbed the home button. A colourful, glowing line indicated his phone-servant was listening. He snarled at her: “Siri. Call fucking Sig.”

Red blazed at the side of the road ahead and to his right, smeared by rain and darkness. The Hummer had pulled over and was parked on the shoulder. Lance drove past, not giving a fig any more who was in that Hummer or what he, she, they, or it was up to. Siri apologized and said she didn’t understand his request. He started to repeat, “Call Sig,” without the eff-word, but headlights popped up in his rear-view mirror, then pitched and straightened and expanded.


The Hummer was beginning to scare him.


It was now coming up on his rear, and by the way those headlights were spreading like a couple of supernovas, it was coming fast. He sighed in relief as the Hummer pulled into the oncoming lane and tore past. Passed on a solid line, it was in such a hurry. Why the rush? There was nothing up there but forest, rock wall, and more forest.


He didn’t care. He was off the case. He slowed further, on the lookout for a good place to pull a U-ey, and in the distance red dots flared. The fickle-hearted Hummer had put on its brakes. Again. A knot tightened in Lance’s gut. White backup lights glared. The Hummer had thrown itself into reverse and was moving. Seemed to be moving fast, too.

Lance swore aloud. He flashed his high beams. He leaned on his horn. He tried steering forward into the oncoming lane, but the road was narrow, and the SUV was wigwagging, hogging the centre, blocking him.

This wasn’t a freak accident. It was an attack.



Review:

This is the follow up to Cold Girl, which was my introduction to the characters of the RCMP detective squad (and the first book in the series. In this follow up, both Leith and Dion have moved South and joined a specially made team of detectives. As they both adjust, the new case threatens to tear the team apart, as they try to make sense out of its non-sensical style. As they each battle their own fears and suspicions, the case spirals and becomes crazier, leading them both on separate paths to the solving the crime, that is NOT what it seems. A real page turner, you may find yourself trying to finish this one late into the night! It can be read as a stand alone book, as Greenway gives you plenty of background, without ruining the previous book, and it is well worth the read!

About the Author:

R.M. Greenaway has also worked in probation and travelled British Columbia as a court reporter. Her First Novel in the B.C. Blues Crime Series, Cold Girl, won the Unhanged Arthur Ellis award. She lives in Nelson, B.C.






Book Review: Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from  Random House Publishing Group - Alibi. via Netgalley, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

Well there was PLENTY of whiskey flowing last week, so this book was an appropriate read....


single malt murder cover


Synopsis:


Abigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.


When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.



Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.



Review:

Whiskey making is NOT for the feint of heart! In Scotland, and Ireland, it has a LONG history, that ties into the land, the people and the very culture of the area. Which is why this book was perfect for History Thursday, as it deals with so much of the history of making whiskey! This is a perfect Spring read, full of twists and turns and red herrings aplenty, yet you get so entranced with the descriptions of the village and Abbey Glen, that you'll want to immerse yourself in the book and take your time reading it (although it IS a quick read!). I really look forward to the next book in the series, Distilled Spirits (coming in September) with Abi and her crew! 


About the Author:

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

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