Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club




This story was NOT what I expected initially, based on the cover and the title. 

I thought it would be a typical cozy mystery, but it is so much more than that.

This book grabbed my attention and kept me tapping my kindle and finding time to read even when I was really too busy to read anything, right up to the last page of the story. I love when that happens! :-)

And speaking of the ending, JUST GREAT!!! 

The author tied up all the loose ends and left the reader with a big surprise too, one that I did not see coming at all.

The only negatives... as some reviewers at Amazon have mentioned, the plot at times is a bit far-fetched.

SPOILER ALERT!!! 

For example: I thought the build-up to each murder should have been developed more. In real life do people ever really plan to "bump off" their neighbors with that little thought and time elapsing before calling a hit man? Maybe at times that could actually happen but it seemed rather rushed and extreme.

And is it really all that easy to get a contract for a hit online as portrayed in this story? Maybe, maybe not.

But overall, these issues detracted only slightly from the overall enjoyment of this story.

As far as the walking club members: I have known women who are this shallow, who live to gossip, who are completely wrapped up in their own little worlds and their looks...in that respect, I thought the author got it just right. I didn't agree with some  negative comments at Amazon, about this aspect of the story.

From the Amazon product page:

Little is what it seems to be in a leafy Savannah neighborhood as members of an afternoon cocktail and dog walking club mourn a neighbor’s death. Jealousies surface when friends vie for the widower running for mayor. An old woman with an infamous uncle plots to avenge a wrong. Memories haunt a once successful children’s writer. And a model has won the trip of a lifetime.

But a killer lurks and secrets unfold, as does a web of deceit. Is anyone really who he or she seems to be? A mysterious South American, a young Italian count, and a charitable nephew add suspicion and intrigue, as do an enigmatic organization linked to organized crime, a handsome firefighter, and three widows with hidden agendas. What’s a retired accountant’s secret, and why did a former showgirl really have plastic surgery?

The plot thickens, the Georgia temperature rises, and someone is destined for an early unmarked grave. The truth contorts to a climax that leaves readers breathless.

***

I've already downloaded the second eBook in this series. Can't wait to read that one too!

Well done to award-winning author: Duncan Whitehead
This book is a winner from the eye-catching cover to the last exciting page!

Overall rating for this eBook: Very Good. 4 out of 5

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FREE Haiku Book Promo (this Friday and Saturday)



HAIKU REFLECTIONS II


My second published haiku eBook will be available free, this Friday April 29th and Saturday April 30th at all Amazon sites. 

Download a free copy to your Kindle, eReader, iPad, desktop...

If you enjoy haiku poetry (or just want to find out more about it) this is a perfect time to get a copy of this poetry collection, the second in the Haiku Reflections series.

Here are 3 of the 120 seasonal haiku poems featured in this book, these from the SUMMER section:


Watching the sundial.
Sensing those from long ago.
Ties that gently bind.

<>

Clouds, light, wind picks up.
Lightness of spirit, freeing.
A hunch brought to mind.

<>

Top down, '65 MG.
Sinatra: The Summer Wind.
Two golden oldies.


And if you enjoy Haiku Reflections II or any of my other books, reviews are always most appreciated!

Happy Reading and Weekend! :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Some of My "Fun In the Sun" Favorites! :-)


Here in Interior BC, we've already had some very warm days, especially for mid-April.

 It got me thinking about some of my fav summer products/books that I thought I'd share a few of, here today. Hope you enjoy my list and find it helpful too.

And if you have a particular summer book or product that you use year after year, when the sun returns, do share! :-) 

Happy "Fun In the Sun" and here's my list (with reviews/links):




Although I don't usually have the time or interest in polishing my fingernails, I DO like to "spruce up" my tootsies, when sandal-season arrives. 

Suncoat Peelable Nail Polish is an excellent alternative to mainstream, highly toxic nail polish. It stays on VERY well and when you're ready to remove it, a soak in warm water for about 10 minutes and voila, easy to peel off. No remover required. Love this stuff!




Remember these sandals from many years ago? 

I was delighted to find them still available when I wanted to order a pair a while back. And they are still as comfortable as I remember them, as a teenager. 

The only thing I didn't like about the new pair I got was the way the buckle opened and closed. The company actually supplies written and detailed instructions for this (upon request) as they are so tricky to open and adjust now. But after that hurdle was passed, I am really enjoying wearing these sandals again. They do feel like they give your legs/feet a bit of an extra workout as you walk! How cool is that?




Still on the topic of feet/toes, this foot creme from Burt's Bees is one of the best I've ever used. You can actually see significant results, with continued use. 

And when summer rolls around, my feet need all the TLC I can give them. My heels tend to get so cracked and dry but with this BB creme, they are looking a lot better, in a short amount of time. Click to read my full review. 






After the tootsies are well taken care of ;-) it's time to chill with a good summer read!

Two books that I usually read every summer are:

Beachcombing at Miramar by Richard Bode

and

Summer's Lease by John Mortimer

Click to read my mini reviews. I just love both of these books! 

Summer beach classics I never tire of! 




I've tried a few ice cream makers over the years and this is my fav to date. Easy to use and clean, Not too big or small. Reasonably priced. And best of all, consistently good results. 

If you've never made or enjoyed homemade ice cream, you are in for a real treat. Store bought ice cream pales by comparison, in a big way after one taste!





Even if you aren't a vegetarian or vegan, this is one amazing ice cream book! 

First of all, the presentation is absolutely dazzling! All those gorgeous photos are enough to start any ice cream lover drooling. And that definitely would include die hard dairy fans too. And with choices like this, who needs dairy anyways?

Looking extra yummy, for my particular tastes: Cheesecake, Easy as Pumpkin Pie, Sesame Halvah, Gravel Path (what a fun name!!!), Chai Latte and many others.

The instructions are detailed and easy to follow. Anyone can do this, whether you are an avid cook or a beginner. 

The sugar content in most of the recipes is quite acceptable too, something that's often "over the top" IMO, in dessert cookbooks of any kind. And of course, if someone wants a bit less or more in this regard, that's an easy tweak.

This will be a keeper in my cookbook collection for years to come. Would also make a lovely hostess,shower or graduation gift, to go along with an ice cream maker.


Surf Sweets Watermelon Rings (12x2.75oz )

Surf Sweets Watermelon Rings

These really do taste like watermelon. 

They are a bit sweet for my taste, so one at a time,  is plenty for me. 

I do like the chewy texture and the organic ingredient list.

I'm guessing kids would love these too. Fun to have at the lake shore or seaside. :-) The little life preserver shape is so cute!

I bought this 2.75 oz bag for less than $4. at a local food co-op. 






Great for snacking on at the beach or by the pool. Just add a cool beverage and you're good to go. 

Love these chips with the tangy lime kick. Addictive but in a good way!

***

HAVE A FABULOUS SUMMER! :-)



Smiling Sun clipart courtesy of: Clipart Panda

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds (Intensity Walk)



After a long winter of being too much of "couch potato"and putting fitness for the most part on the back-burner, I am now getting back to more walks, strength training and aerobics, including using this older DVD from Leslie Sansone, which is one of my all-time fav exercise DVDS.

I appreciate the 3 workouts included on this dvd as they are all different, challenging and fun. 

The Super Challenge is a 4 mile walk that's great for days when I've got the time to do it and feel like a longer workout, focused on endurance walking. 


There's also  the Muscle Mile One segment, which I use 3 lb. dumbbells with and it's wonderful. The mile breezes by and at the end, in spite of how quickly I am finished, I still feel like I have had a good workout. Adding the weight really does 'bump up' this workout segment, in a significant but easy way.


Walk and Jog includes short bursts of jogging with the walking and is 30 minutes in length, equivalent to a 2.5 mile walk. Again, adding a nice variety to the overall mix. 



I like Leslie's enthusiastic and happy attitude, the moves, the music, her real pals along with her, doing the workout....almost everything about this dvd. 

Only couple of minor negatives: the set is pretty "cheesy" and the lighting could be better but no big deal, given all the pluses for this workout dvd. 


I recently previewed some of Sansones' newer DVDs and wasn't impressed at allShe has now surrounded herself with young girls strutting their stuff behind her, with no "regular" women of various ages, sizes, fitness levels or friends, in sight. 

I think this direction for her newer DVDs was a huge mistake and Sansone has alienated a lot of her regular followers, judging by many of the comments and reviews at Amazon. Leslie Sansone has also made herself look older and tired-looking with all these fresh-faced girls working out with her now, so that marketing "gem" certainly has seemed to backfire! ;-)   

But the good news is, Sansones' older dvds, like the Intensity Walk are still relevant, helpful and available! Click to view/buy at Amazon.com.

If you are in need of something new/better for your exercise regime, perhaps getting back to a better fitness level after the winter as I am or just enjoy working out at home as opposed to outside or at a gym, you might want to give this DVD a try

Suitable for people of most fitness levels as you can easily build up your intensity level as your fitness improves. No floor work either!


Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sharpe Shooter (Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series) by Lisa B. Thomas





This is a very enjoyable and rather original cozy mystery.

And I do love a good cozy mystery! :-)



Deena is a like-able and believable main character. All the characters in this story are well developed. 

The plot moves along at a fast pace, with plenty of twists and turns, but not too many, just the right balance. 


I have read the second book and third book in this series: Sharpe Edge and Sharpe Mind and thoroughly enjoyed both of them too. 


If you like a cozy mystery with some actual substance, originality and an older, wiser but still "with it" main character, check out this series. 



One of the best I've read to date in this genre. 

***

From the Amazon product page:


"Burned-out high school teacher Deena Sharpe is ready for a change. She has no idea a fifty-year-old murder case is about to turn her life upside down. 


The Perry County Sheriff’s office has found a skeleton in the closet…literally. When they identify the man’s body fifty years after his disappearance, his family turns to Deena to uncover the truth about his murder. The clock begins ticking when she discovers a mysterious writer is about to implicate the victim in his latest conspiracy theory book. She must channel her inner super-sleuth to solve the puzzle and protect her family name. With the help of her off-beat brother and others from the cozy town of Maycroft, Texas, Deena takes on a quest that leads to more questions than answers. 

Sharpe Shooter is the first book in the Maycroft Mystery Series. With antique shopping, car chases, and ghosts in the night, the story will keep you guessing as you follow Deena on her quest for the truth. 

If you like a clean, cozy mystery, buy Sharpe Shooter today!" 

Overall rating for this eBook: Excellent. 5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Year of Living Mindfully by Randi Ragan





I am really impressed by this book, and for so many reasons! :-)


First of all, I love the seasonal theme that author: Randi Ragan has chosen to present this material in. So helpful for choosing mindfully, what best activities, food choices...etc, to pursue at that particular time of year.

For example: reading through the summer (soon to arrive) section, I have already picked out a number of topic of interest including: 

-The Possibilities Ritual (all about the sunflowers that I love).

-Yoga/mediation/breath exercises specifically geared to warmer weather.

-Choosing the safest, most natural types of sunscreen and why being a label reader is essential for these types of products too.

The research that went into this book, the attention to detail and the passion that Randi Ragan has for her work is obvious throughout.

The layout and design of this book is beautiful too. I have the print version (also available as an eBook) and right from the cover onward, it is lovely to look at and to enjoy. I would have loved to have seen the seasonal chapter pages in color, but even in black and white, the artwork is unique and beautiful.

In addition to the many topics/passages that piqued my interest throughout this book, there are a number of seasonal recipes that sound absolutely delish too, including:

-Hope's Cranberry Chutney

-Roasted Root Vegetables with Caramelized Fig Sauce

-Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

and many more.

It's not often that I get excited about a reference book in every way, but that is the case here. Easy to implement suggestions throughout that almost anyone can put into practice to enhance their quality of life in significant, often fun ways and with significant and long-term benefits.

This book would also make a memorable and unique gift for anyone seeking more balance, health, peace and mindfulness in life.

Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5

Friday, April 1, 2016

And the WINNER of the I LOVE SPRING CONTEST IS.....





Congratulations Amber!


 I hope you will enjoy all your great prizes.

My sincere thanks to all the sponsors for this contest, all so generous with the prizes they provided.

Loved reading all your comments about spring too.

I'll be back to posting product reviews very shortly.


Have a wonderful weekend and HAPPY SPRING!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My Real Life Reviews: I LOVE SPRING CONTEST 2016!




REALLY DO  SPRING! :-)



I've been thinking it's long-overdue that I hosted a contest here at My Real Life Reviews. 


And what better reason than to welcome spring?


One lucky winner will win all of these great prizestotal value approx. $200!! :-)




To enter the contest, leave a comment below, completing this sentence:


I LOVE SPRING BECAUSE.....


That's it, easy peasy!

And a few "rules" , dos and don'ts:

-Contest is open to US and Canadian residents

Exception: void in Quebec you can read why here. I've had to add this to my contests. Provincial laws in Quebec regarding contests are hard to understand but I'm not able to by-pass these restrictions. 

-No anonymous comments please. Please sign in with a valid blog account, if at all possible. Anonymous comments will not be considered as an entry. You can include your email address if your blog is not linked to one already, so that I can contact the winner.  

-Winner picked by a random system and will have 10 days to claim their prize. If prize package is not claimed within 10 days, an alternate winner will be chosen.

-Optional: If you'd like an additional entry, subscribe to My Real Life Reviews (see right sidebar for subscription link) and mention that you have subscribed in your comment/entry. My stats continue to go up every month, but the subscriptions haven't. ;<)

-Contest closes March 31st. Stop by the first week in April to see if you are the lucky winner!

Now, for more information about all the goodies up for grabs! 




The folks at Boogie Board have generously supplied a Boogie Board EWriter: Jot 8.5 for this contest!

 You can read my recent Boogie Board review here. 

This is one of the best gadgets I've ever tried. I use my Jot 4.5 all the time. 

And in this even larger (Jot 8.5) version, with all the bells and whistles, a whole lotta fun awaits, for the lucky winner. 



Gourmet Salt Assortment Gift Box
From The Spice House, this beautiful set of gourmet sea salts. 

This salt lover's box includes:Hawaiian Black Lava and Red Alea Clay Sea Salts - These two salts from the pristine Pacific waters off Molokai are dried in pools with black lava powder and local red clay, respectively. Their dramatic colors and light, crunchy texture make them wonderful finishing salts.
Portuguese "Salt Cream" Sea Salt - This is the Portuguese version of the famous French Fleur de Sel, the first salt to crystallize as drying pools evaporate. Because Portugal is drier than France, the salt forms faster and becomes whiter and fluffier than its French counterpart.
Himalayan Pink Salt - Formed by deposits left by retreating prehistoric oceans, this pretty salt is known for it healthful minerals.
I'm a big fan of all of The Spice House products. I've used them many times in my own recipes, always with excellent and oh so tasty results.
 You can read my full review of The Spice House here. 

 

A copy of both of my newest cookbooks (eBook or print version, the winner's preference) are part of the prize package too! 
You can read more about both of these books/eBooks here:
As an avid cook, award-winning cookbook author and cooking instructor, I am passionate about all things "foodie". 
 I've included some of my fav all time recipes and many brand new ones, in my new Groovy Green collection. Happy Cooking! :-)

From my blog pal: Tammie at the Spirithelpers Etsy shop, a set of two of her lovely nature photo cards, with decorative envelopes. 
The owl photo/card shown above is one of my personal favs but the winner will be able to pick from dozens of choices at Spirithelpers
I always feel calm and happy when I'm browsing over there. A great place to find some special gift items too. You can also read more about Tammie and her work, in my recent OWL inspired post/review.

Just in time for pre-garden planning, an oh so fun and user-friendly gardening book, from another blog pal, author and oh so talented gardener: Ellen Zachos.
You can read my full review of this wonderful book here.
 I am NOT a great gardener but with Ellen's book at hand, planning and creating a beautiful and unique garden is possible for just about anyone. 
This is one of my all time fav books of ANY genre. Yes, it really is that good. 


Speaking of fav books, here's another one of mine, this time from the talented author: Elizabeth Day.
Living with Gusto is a unique and inspiring book that I "happened" to find and read at just the right time for me. I was in a bit of a funk at the time and also without internet access for a couple of weeks at that time too, so a perfect opportunity to savor each page of this special story. It remains a "keeper on my kindle" and a book that I have referred to many times, since first reading it.
You can read more about this special and memorable story here, in my full review. 
If you are in need of some inspiration, a "pick me up" and/or perhaps help with finding your muse again, check out Living with Gusto. You'll be glad you did! 

When it comes to getting out of a funk, I can't think of anything that works better for me, than improving my appearance, in some way. 
 A few years ago, I found out about the Happy Face Yoga, facial exercise program and decided (with initial skepticism) to give it a try. I'm sure glad I did!
See for yourself, in my full review, including before and after photos (how brave is that!!!) of my results, and after only a relatively short period of doing the Happy Face Yoga regime on a regular basis.
I have continued to use Happy Face Yoga, (about 3-4 times a week now, seems to be enough to sustain good results) and my face has remained toned and much firmer looking. Yes, a regular small time commitment is required to see real results but IMO, this is time so well spent. 

From the A. Vogel company, one of the best pain-relief products I've ever used. Natural, safe and oh so effective too.
You can read more about this fine product in my full review here.
The lucky winner will receive a DUO (2) PACK of Absolut Arnica gel, enough to provide soothing pain relief for all kinds of strains, sprains and minor sport injuries, for a long time to come. 
A little of this product goes a long way. Absolut Arnica gel is a product that I always like to have on hand, in case I overdo it when lifting, stretching, sometimes a minor twist of an ankle...and similar situations when I am in need of effective but also safe and natural pain relief that I can count on. This product is a real winner! 





And from another of my fav Etsy shops: Erzulie Cosmetics, 3 beauty products, to give your spring look a boost.  
A Zoe lip/cheek color stick, Nona Lipstick and Eye Depuffer.
I regularly shop at Erzulie Cosmetics. I particularly love Rhonda's (shop owner) lip/cheek sticks, cover-sticks, foundation and the eye-depuffer too. 
Gentle, natural and effective skin care and cosmetics, very reasonably priced and with excellent customer service too!
You can read more about Erzulie cosmetics in my previous review of the Eye Depuffer Balm.

***

I look forward to reading your comments/entries with your thoughts about spring. Enter soon and do spread the word. This is going to be a fun contest!


GOOD LUCK EVERYONE AND HAPPY SPRING!! :-)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Boogie Board eWriter (Jot 4.5)



Boogie Board eWriter (Jot 4.5)


I recently found out about Boogie Board eWriters and I am loving my Jot 4.5! :-)

In case you aren't familiar with these nifty little gadgets, Boogie Board eWriters are a great alternative to paper to-do lists and so much more.

Write on the Boogie Board with the included stylus (or even your fingernail!) and when you no longer need that particular list, just press the erase button and voila, you have a clear screen to start over with.

No batteries, no on/off switch.. Boogie Board is ready when you are. :-)

I have ours hanging on a hook by the kitchen door, for easy use/reference. I add things to the list as I need to do them (or have Joe do them) ;-) instead of writing paper notes/lists that tend to get lost along the way, not to mention wasting paper too. 

Here's some additional info about the Jot 4.5 eWriter :


-Jot down notes and erase with the press of a button

-Compact, lightweight design fits easily in a purse or pocket

-Tapered stylus attaches securely to case

-Unique stack-able design for easy use and storage

-Thumbtack holes for hanging notes on a pegboard (or similar surface)

And here's a wonderful short video: Writing Redefined, from the Boogie Board company, that I found not only informative, but touching too. Click through to view, it's worth it! 

The Jot 4.5 is currently on sale at Amazon for less than $15, so a great time to pick one up for your own use or as a thoughtful gift. They come in a variety of colors and with optional covers available too, in case you want to take your BB on the go!

***

If you prefer a larger eWriter, the Jot 8.5 has several additional features that make it even more versatile. Perfect for not only note-taking but also sketching, doodling, brain-storming.... all kinds of fun!



Boogie Board Jot 8.5 

The next time you reach for a piece of paper and a pen, don't! Grab a Boogie Board LCD eWriter instead, the tree-friendly alternative to memo pads, sketchbooks, sticky notes, dry eraser boards, and other writing/drawing mediums.

Sketch, write, draw, without paper then start over with the touch of a button. Perfect for the car, office, classroom, kitchen, or backpack.

Jot 8.5 is 50% Brighter.  It features erase button, durable, shatterproof plastic. LCD 3V replaceable battery. Stylus dock pressure-sensitive writing surface. Neoprene sleeve  protects your Boogie Board eWriter during transport eliminating unwanted screen marks.

The folks at Boogie Board are great too! :-)

 I had some questions about my Jot 4.5 that they answered quickly and completely. I also contacted them about some of their other products, again a quick, courteous and complete reply to my query.

Excellent customer service for any product is IMO, just as important as the actual item. I don't want to wait days for an email/phone reply from any company I've bought something from but sadly, that's all to often what happens. But not the case with the team at Boogie Board, they are on top of things and doing it right, the first time!

Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5

Saturday, February 27, 2016

G. H. Cretors Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Popcorn






 POPCORN!!! :-)


And I have finally found a commercial bagged popcorn that tastes delish and has an ingredient list I can smile about too.

G. H. Cretors Organic Extra Virgin Olilve Oil Popcorn has a fresh, unique flavor, with just a hint of the olive oil it's popped in.

It's unlike any commercial popcorn I've ever tried before. 

Nice and crunchy but with no hard bits that can be tough on teeth.

An ingredient list that's simple and hard to beat:

-organic popcorn
-organic, extra-virgin olive oil
-sea salt

That's it! 

Compared to most commercial popcorn brands this is definitely a change for the better; so many mainstream brands leave much to be desired when it comes to what's in the bag! 

I noted that this popcorn is sold in a 12 pack at Amazon for just over $48 with free shipping. At $4. a bag, this is a great price too, for such a quality snack product. Also sold as individual bags (4.4 OZ (125 g) .

Each bag provides 3 generous servings IMO. And I sure don't want to skimp when I'm eating popcorn, do you? ;-)

G. H. Cretors also sells a variety of other types of popcorn-snacks (sweet and salty). You can check them all out at their site. 

I love that this is a healthier popcorn/snack option. But it's the taste that keeps me coming back for more, again and again. As I've written above, this one has a unique, subtle olive oil flavor, and with just the right touch of sea salt.

It really does take popcorn to a whole new level of yummmm.... :-)


From the G. H. Cretors site:


Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Today we make our Extra Virgin Olive Oil popped corn with three timeless ingredients: Organic Popcorn, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt.

We still use traditional small batch methods to pop our corn, like Great Grandpa Cretors did, but we have stayed modern by keeping our focus on purity.

Each Organic batch is popped to perfection and seasoned with just the right amount of sea salt.

From our kitchen to yours! Enjoy!

-We use only Organic Ingredients

-Made with Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-No artificial flavors or colors

-Non-GMO Project Verified

-Certified Gluten Free




And how's this for a popcorn stat??

 Americans eat around 

17 billion quarts of popcorn every year

An amount that would fill the Empire State Building 18 times!


Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5
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