Thursday, July 12, 2018

Murder at the Flamingo By Rachel McMillan Review

Murder at the Flamingo A Novel
By Rachel McMillan
“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times -- including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin's “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo night club.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.

I received a complimentary copy.

Cassandra's Review-  A tangled mystery with a good vibe to the chapters.  I think that the author chose great characters to bring to life and the flow overall of the book was easy to stay into once I got the swing of it.   Perhaps older readers would enjoy this more and especially if they have a soft spot for murder mystery books. 

The Faith of Dolly Parton By Dudley Delffs Review

The Faith of Dolly Parton
Lessons from Her Life to Lift Your Heart
By Dudley Delffs
Dolly Parton has entertained, educated, and inspired millions of fans for over five decades. Whether she’s writing songs, performing live, recording new albums, acting in or producing new movies and TV programs, expanding her wildly successful Dollywood amusement park, helping children around the world learn to read with her Imagination Library nonprofit, or donating millions of dollars to schools, charities, and people in need, the Queen of Country Music has never been shy about crediting her Christian faith for her success.

“A belief in God is essential,” Dolly shares. “You have to believe in something bigger than yourself. We grew up believing that through God all things are possible.” Growing up in the little mountain church where her grandfather preached, Dolly started singing hymns and playing guitar at services when she was only six. Consequently, she has never been shy about discussing her faith and relationship with God. “People say, ‘Well, I am surprised that you talk about your faith,’ and I say, ‘Why not? That’s who I am. That’s what keeps me going,’” she explains.

Tennessee native, Dolly fanboy, and award-winning writer Dudley Delffs now spotlights ten faith lessons as evidenced in Dolly’s life, music, interviews, and attitude. The Faith of Dolly Parton focuses on the ways Dolly’s life can inspire us all to be more authentic, to trust God during hard times, to stay grounded during the good times, and to always keep our sense of humor. Sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, frequently surprising, and always true to Dolly’s down-home spirit of joyful generosity, this book will delight her millions of fans as well as anyone seeking a fresh faith-filled role model.

I received a complimentary copy.

Cassandra's review-  Sweet caring and easy to get to know, this author shares a great look into the depths of Dolly and combines her faith with stories that uplift the reader.  I enjoyed the chapters as they flew by and the love that Dolly shares through most everything she does.  I would recommend this book not only to superfans, but also to older ages that love faith based material.

The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos Review

The Crescent Stone (The Sunlit Lands #1)
by Matt Mikalatos 
Madeline, a teenager with terminal lung disease, meets a mysterious stranger who offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service in his world, the Sunlit Lands. Madeline and her friend Jason travel to the Sunlit Lands to work for the Elenil people. There is much to discover and enjoy as privileged members of the fantastical Elenil society, but Madeline and Jason soon learn that magic must be bought at a high price.

I received a complimentary copy.

Cassandra's Review Q&A

- What did you like about the book and why?  You have to have imagination and a taste for fantasy to devour this really well written book.  The author's style is genuine and fun to indulge in.  

- What did you not like about the book and why?  I think that even though it is filled with great ideas, the book ends too fast, however the could be a sequel? 
- What did you learn? The author went out of the normal writing style to create a great world that can exist in the reader's mind or perhaps be shared out loud.  

- To whom would you recommend this book and why? Younger teens and young at heart individuals who can reach into the realms and carry out the more imaginative aspects of the chapters.  


Paint and Frame: Botanical Painting review

Paint and Frame: Botanical Painting
Paint and Frame: Botanical Painting
Nearly 20 Inspired Projects to Paint and Frame Instantly

Learn to create precious watercolor paintings that you can paint and frame in just one day.

Paint and Frame: Botanical Painting features 20 charming modern watercolor projects including florals, nature scenes, and more. With step-by-step instructions and watercolor paper included, you can try your hand at these “mini” projects, and then you can instantly display your painting in one of the enclosed frames.

Add patterns or colors to your frame, then simply fold it to an upright position, and your brand new watercolor painting can be displayed inside it. Stop storing your art projects in a drawer while you wait to get frames. These handcrafted frames are ideal for displaying artwork around the house, at your desk, or to mail as a lovely handmade gift.

Paint and Frame: Botanical Painting comes with an instruction book, 20 step-by-step watercolor projects to try, an assortment of watercolor paper, and 5 fantastic frames to decorate and personalize yourself. This is the perfect gift for the beginner artist looking to display their work in an elegant way without paying for expensive frames.

I received a complimentary copy.

Cassandra's review- The style and illustrations are very pretty.  The book offers easy and shorter steps to help even a beginner to learn how to create and have fun while doing so. 

The two spice blends you Need this Summer with Recipes .@pereggourmet

To grill or not to grill? Basic standbys or something new? Fussy eaters or culinary adventurers? Whatever your summer mealtime dilemma may be, Pereg has the answer. It’s as easy as one, two!

The possibilities are endless with two newcomers from Pereg, Burger Seasoning and Thai Sweet Chili, on your spice shelf.
Mixed Spices - Burger Seasoning
Like all Pereg products, these blends are 100% pure, fresh, and natural with absolutely no additives or fillers. They are free of GMOs, dairy, and gluten -- also certified kosher & vegan.

The Burger Seasoning mixes salt with two kinds of pepper, onion, garlic, and mustard to add a savory dimension to meats and even vegetarian dishes. Take it beyond beef – try mixing it with ground lamb, salmon, and turkey, or with baby quinoa or mushrooms for veggie burgers. It also makes a robust rub for poultry or steaks.

Thai Sweet Chili lends an exciting sweet-and-sour note to any menu. The blend of chili, cumin, ginger, onion powder, and other East-meets-West flavors works just about anywhere. Mix it into a tangy dipping sauce, as a dry rub for poultry or short ribs, and to dress up pasta or roasted vegetables.

Whether you’re firing up the grill or sizzling on the stove, let these recipe suggestions from Pereg inspire a delicious, palate-pleasing summer for everyone.\
Kañiwa Burger

Kañiwa, or baby quinoa, is a botanical cousin of quinoa and packs a crunchy nutritional powerhouse. If your grocer doesn’t carry it yet, you can order it from Pereg.
2 cups water
½ cup raw Pereg Natural Kañiwa
1 cup water
1 cup cooked chickpeas, smashed, with the skins removed
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free)
1 large egg, whisked
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup white onion, minced
1 tsp. Pereg Burger Seasoning
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Combine kañiwa and water in a medium saucepan and bring water to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender and the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool. You should have 1 cup cooked.

Combine kañiwa with smashed chickpeas, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion and spices. Form into two big patties or four smaller patties.

Fry 4-5 minutes per side in coconut oil over medium heat until outside is brown and inside is heated through.

Makes 2 big burgers or 2 small burgers.

Burger Topping Ideas

Beef or chicken, salmon or lamb, mushroom or quinoa…burgers of all kinds make a great canvas for a personalized masterpiece. Try any or a combination of these:

Guacamole or diced avocado

Fried egg

Sautéed mushrooms

Fried onions

Turkey or lamb bacon

BBQ brisket pastrami

Roasted red peppers

Fresh bean sprouts

Hot pickled peppers

Tempura Battered Asian Thai Sweet Chili Chicken
2 egg whites
1 cup flour sifted
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ice-cold water
2 Tbs. oil
1 pound skinless-boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1” pieces
oil for frying
Toasted sesame seeds to taste
1-2 very thinly-sliced scallions, white and green parts
Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce (recipe below)

Make the tempura batter: sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Mix in egg whites, cold water, and oil. Add chicken and toss gently to cover each piece in batter.

Heat a large skillet or wok with about 2 inches of oil. Lift the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon to drain excess batter and add to hot oil. Work in batches so the pieces don’t touch. Fry until the batter is golden brown, about 4 min. for white meat and 5 min. for dark meat.

Let nuggets drain on a double layer of paper towels to remove excess oil. Top with Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce to taste. Toss to cover. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallion. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Vietnamese Vegetarian Summer Rolls
1 package round rice paper wrappers (fresh, not frozen)
1 head romaine lettuce
Fresh basil leaves (about one bunch)
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
1 carrot
1 cucumber, peeled
1 avocado
1 mango, peeled (optional)
Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)

Julienne the lettuce, basil, pepper, carrot, and cucumber. Slice avocado and the mango, if using, into thin strips.

Soak the rice paper wrappers one at a time until they become soft and pliable. Shake of excess water and lay them out.

Working quickly, assemble the rolls. Layer the lettuce and basil on the lower third of each wrapper. Distribute the remaining veggies on top of the lettuce and basil.

Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper toward the center, then roll up tightly from the bottom. Cut each roll in half on the diagonal and serve with Pereg Thai Sweet Chili Sauce on the side for dipping.

Serves 4-6.

Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
1 small onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ Tbsp. Pereg Thai Sweet Chili seasoning, or to taste
Jalapeno, halved (optional)

Combine everything in a small saucepan. (If using jalapeno but prefer less of a “kick,” remove the seeds.) Bring mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring often. Let it thicken until it’s reduced to about half. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

I will receive complimentary product.  

hifold grab-and-go highback booster

Meet hifold, the first-ever highback booster seat that is compact enough to pack in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase. Created by the inventor of mifold, hifold is just as safe and effective as a regular highback booster seat. hifold grows with your child, so it's adjustable with a longer shelf life.
The grab-and-go highback booster folds 3x smaller…just as safe*
hifold is easy to store and even easier to transport. It’s completely adjustable & just as safe*!

folds down to fit in a small carry bag and is the most compact, lightweight highback booster designed and engineered to comply with regulations worldwide. adjustable 4 different adjustable zones for the perfect fit at any age.

I received complimentary product.

Thrill Week July 23-27 zulily

Thrill Week July 23-27. We're talking amazing daily deals, 5 days in a row . Check out these 3 ways to FIND YOUR THRILL.
zulily uncovered in a recent poll which female celebrities Americans think are the “most-savvy” online shoppers and the results are in…

· The ever-lovable Ocean’s 8 star Sandra Bullock topped the charts (24%), followed shortly after by the sexy screen stealer Jennifer Lawrence (18%), and then daytime TV phenom Kelly Ripa (16%).

· She may be the “newest Royal” but Americans aren’t so sure Meghan Markle has what it takes to still be a “savvy online shopper.” The Duchess of Sussex ranked 6th from a list of female celebs, falling behind Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Kelly Ripa, Chrissy Teigen and Hoda Kotb.*

Want to dress like a celeb but stick to your budget? In honor of savvy-shoppers everywhere, zulily JUST unveiled the news about our first-ever zulily Thrill Week to bring a whole week of “wow!” with exclusive deals from boutique and beloved brands, all at unbelievable prices. From July 23-27, we’ll unveil:

· A Daily Big Thrill (like a family vacation for the price of a beach umbrella, or a new wardrobe for the price of a scarf!)

· Numerous time-limited Dashes for the Deal (like designer sunglasses for only $29.99)

· Other surprises & delights throughout the entire customer experience from the zulily site, mobile app, social channels and more…