Thursday, May 30, 2013

The One- Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier

They say you can't judge a book by it's cover. But when it comes to: The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier, this eye-catching, inviting cover comes with a thoroughly entertaining story!
I'm a newcomer to Cathie Pelletier's work. In case you are too, she is the award-winning author of 10 novels and grew up in Maine. She is also an accomplished songwriter. 
The One-Way Bridge is her first and much-anticipated novel in six years and is set (as are many of her other books) in the imaginary small town of Mattagash, Maine.
From the Amazon product page:
Welcome to Mattagash, the last town in the middle of the northern Maine wilderness. The road dead-ends here, but Mattagash's citizens are fiercely proud.
Yet this simple town connected by a single one-way bridge is anything but tranquil. While neighbors bicker publicly over trivialities such as offensive mailbox designs and gossip about suspicious newcomers, they privately struggle to navigate deeper issues—scandals, loss, failed ambitions, the scars of war...and a mysterious dead body in the woods.
With her trademark wit and keen eye for detail, Pelletier has assembled an unforgettable cast of endearing and eccentric characters, from scheming mailmen and peeping toms to lovesick waitresses and loggers whose underhandedness belies their ingenuity. The citizens of Mattagash will make you laugh and cheer for them as they stumble into one another's lives and strive to define themselves in a changing world that threatens to leave them behind.
The One-Way Bridge is an extraordinary portrait of family, loneliness, and community—and the kinds of compromises we all make in the name of love.
What really stood out in this story for me were the characters. They literally jump off the page. You feel like you know these people. Sharing their joyful moments, sometimes painful memories, their dreams, expectations, losses...
There's Orville Craft, the soon to be retired, quirky, postal delivery man. Billy Thunder, a bad-boy, small-time hustler; who is hiding out in Mattagash after he's written one too many bad cheques in the big city. Harry Plunkett, who owns the mailbox featured on the cover and has several long-standing  "bones to pick" with Orville. Beautiful Blanche, owner of the town's café. The place where the townsfolk like to gather to catch up with the latest gossip. Blanche also has a secret admirer. Just a sampling of who you will meet in Mattagash, after you cross the one-way bridge into town.
There were many, many LOL moments in this story and memorable, touching and poignant passages too. What is seen on the outside is often not the complete story as we share the secrets, regrets and aspirations of the residents of Mattagash as they await the first snow of winter.
This was the first novel I've read by Cathie Pelletier but it certainly won't be my last. I'm looking forward to another visit to Mattagash, Maine and in the near future. I read The One-Way Bridge in a couple of days; it's that kind of book. Hard to put down and satisfying from the first page to the last.
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.   

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lundberg Rice Chips

I'm all for healthy snack choices like: fresh fruits, raw seeds and nuts, raw veggies etc...but sometimes, I crave a REAL "chip" snack and nothing else will do. Unfortunately, many of the healthier versions of these types of snacks leave a lot to be desired. Bland, tasteless and anything but snack-o-licious. 
I recently tried Lundberg Rice Chips for the first time and this is one healthier chip snack that delivers and in a big way. Oh so yummy, great flavours, a satisfying crunchy texture and with an ingredient list that won't make you cringe. 
Here's what's in the Fiesta Lime flavoured chips:

Organic whole grain brown rice, organic rice flour (organic whole brown rice flour, organic rice flour), high oleic expeller-pressed safflower or sunflower oil, organic whole masa corn flour, organic sesame seeds, less than 2% of the following: salt, dried cane syrup, organic nonfat dry milk, organic buttermilk powder, tartaric acid, citric acid, organic rice concentrate, dried parsley, lime oil, and natural caramel color.

Some additional information from the Lundberg site about these Rice Chips:
Now made with 70% organic ingredients and all organic grains, you'll find them in new updated packaging with bright vibrant colors and a matte finish, making them easier to spot on your grocery store shelves. The Whole Grain Stamp and the Non-GMO Verified logo have been added to every bag so you know you're getting a wholesome, healthy-for-you snack. And when you check out those nutrition labels, you'll notice we listened to your concerns about yeast extracts, removing them from our ingredients.

Gluten free, no trans fats, non GMO and approx. 300 calories per 20 chips. And these are nice big triangular chips. Most of them in the bag are whole too, not a bunch of broken up pieces; I appreciate that. A 170 gram bag sells for about $3.50 locally, so comparable to other "junkier" brands of chips and cheesy-type snacks and with some nutritional value going for them, unlike so many popular mainstream snack items.

One negative: they are fried not baked, that's one thing I wish they could change.

I've tried several of the flavours already and they've all been good but my favs are:
 Fiesta Lime, Santa Fe Barbecue and Honey Dijon.
If you've been looking for a better snack alternative that actually tastes good and satisfies that "gotta have chips" craving, give Lundberg Rice Chips a try. They won't replace carrot sticks when it comes to "good for you" but they certainly are a better choice when it comes to chip-type snacks.
Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of  5.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mortal Faults by Michael Prescott

After recently reading the ebook: Kindle Success Stories by Tom Corson Knowles which included a chapter about novelist: Michael Prescott's phenomenal success with Kindle ebooks; I decided to find out more about Michael's work.
I am not (and in a big way) a person who normally reads crime thrillers but I decided to give: Mortal Faults by Michael Prescott a try. I think it's fun to get out of my usual comfort zone when it comes to book genres but for that to happen, it's got to be a story that captures and keeps my attention right from the first page.
Michael Prescott did not disappoint!
From the Amazon product page:
A one-woman private operative, Abby Sinclair stalks the stalkers. Her new client is a U.S. congressman shadowed by a mystery woman believed to be a disgruntled ex-employee. He wants her stopped. What Abby doesn't know is that FBI agent Tess McCallum is already on the case. Now, despite vowing never to work together again, Abby and Tess have been partnered in a deadly game. And this is a case that takes one surprising turn after another-because there's more to the story than anyone knows.

I couldn't put this book down!
Michael Prescott keeps a fast, blood-pumping pace throughout this story. He is an excellent writer and shows real skill in all areas of what it takes to make a story compelling: believable characters, crisp dialogue, meticulous attention to detail and a plot that is entertaining right to the last page.
And speaking of the last page, there are no loose ends at the end of this story. All is revealed and wrapped up, in a complete and satisfying way. I appreciate that. Something where many authors (even the big names) seem to fall short.
Michael Prescott is the author of numerous novels (available in print and ebook formats) you can check them all out at his website.
I'm trying to decide what to read next. But I will definitely be reading more Michael Prescott's novels and soon!
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Word 2013

Here's a link to the mini review I wrote about this software over at my writing/poetry blog: My Poetic Path.
To say I'm not impressed by this new version of Word is a big understatement!
If you are considering "upgrading" to this new version of Word, read my review first! You might save yourself some money and a whole lot of aggravation.
Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Winner for the Spring Yarn Lover's Contest

I've picked a new winner in the Spring Yarn Lover's Contest as  NOREEN (Running With Books) 
has not been in touch with me to claim her prizes within the 2 weeks allowed.

The NEW winner of the Spring Yarn Lover's Contest is:
Congratulations Rebekah!

Please send your mailing info. to: MRLR at myway dot com asap and I'll arrange to have your prizes sent to you.
Again, two weeks to claim your prizes or I'll have to try again.
And let's hope I don't have to try again; it shouldn't be hard to give away great prizes, right? ;<)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson

Check out my complete review of this wonderful new cookbook and an oh so yummy (and just in time for picnic season) Kasha and Beet Salad with Celery and Feta recipe from it, over at my cooking and craft blog: Veggies, Yarns & Tails.
You'll be glad you did! :<)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kiss My Face Olive & Honey Soap

This will be a short review as there isn't much to say about this soap except:
Kiss My Face Olive & Honey Soap has a pleasant fragrance.
A short, acceptable ingredient list:
Saponified Olive Oil, Water, Sodium Chloride, Honey, Fragrance
It comes in a generous sized 230 gr. bar and locally here in BC, I bought a bar for about $3.
All good. So why am I advising not to buy this soap?
In a word, this soap bar turns into one big, messy BLOB as soon as you wet it and start to use it.
And I mean a REAL MESS. Slimy, gooey...are you getting the picture?
 It really was disgusting to use.
Luckily, I was able to return it to the store where I bought it for a full refund, explaining to the manager there how unacceptable this product was.
The soap is also a very ugly brownish color adding to the "yuck factor" after it got wet. Definitely NOT pretty in the soap dish. LOL
I like using more natural hand/bath soaps without a lot of  unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients added to them, which are absorbed in part, through the skin. The color they are is not a big concern either. I don't like anything that is brightly- colored, using artificial dyes.  
But the soap still has to be relatively pleasing to use.
Kiss My Face Olive & Honey Soap fails in that respect, big time!
Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Very Easy Guide to Fair Isle Knitting by Lynne Watterson

As any of my regular readers already know, I am an avid knitter.
I LOVE to knit and last year I stretched my skills (quite a bit) and tried my first Fair Isle project, a cardigan (it's the one I'm wearing in my profile pic btw). ;<)
Although I did find this project a bit of challenge (including trying to decipher a couple of things in the pattern that didn't make sense) I have been "itching" to try another Fair Isle project since then.
What a beautiful book this is.  And it certainly has provided the inspiration for several Fair Isle projects that I'd love to make, including:
Isn't this a gorgeous tote bag?
And for any of you wannabe Fair Isle knitters out there, this would be an easy project to make.
 I've read over the instructions a couple of times already and it would definitely be a good first and/or beginners project for Fair Isle knitting.
Wowsa! I want this set too!!!
I LOVE heart motifs and this hat and scarf set caught my attention right away.
 A bit more of a challenge but even for a newbie FI knitter like myself, definitely doable.
These lovely legwarmers are a bit more challenging.
But doable for an advanced beginner.
From the Amazon product page:
Fair Isle knitting may look complicated, but knitting expert Lynne Watterson lays out the basics in a way that is easy to follow and understand. She starts with an overview that covers everything from the best types of yarn suitable for Fair Isle patterns to beginner knitting techniques. Also included is a primer on how to read Fair Isle charts, plus an illustrated step-by-step guide to Fair Isle knitting showing complete beginners how to hold the yarns, strand across the back of knitting, link colors in, and how to weave in ends.

The main chapters feature a selection of beautiful Fair Isle stitch patterns. Each pattern contains clear instructions in both written and chart form, and these are cross-referenced to a comprehensive guide to abbreviations. A variety of simple, stylish projects included in each chapter demonstrates ways to use the beautifully shaded Fair Isle patterns—from chic accessories and the latest fashion looks to colorful cushion covers and cozy blankets. Bonus material offers a variety of stunning finishing touches that can be used to enhance your knitting—including beads, buttons, tassels, cords, fringe, and more.
One of the (many) things I like about this book is that the author included projects for a range of skill levels. So many Fair Isle books I look at focus on patterns that may be OK for someone with Intermediate or Advanced skills, but nothing that a Beginner or Advanced Beginner could actually make and enjoy making. I like a challenge when I'm knitting but not to the point of being frustrated with every stitch. What fun is that?
In addition to the 11 projects included in this book, there are 28 easy to follow lessons throughout that even beginners would find easy to follow. The diagrams in this book are excellent too and that's something that's lacking in so many knitting books. And when you're stuck on a particular technique, good diagrams can be a knitter's lifesaver!
Other patterns in this book include: a child's cardigan, child's hoodie, adult fingerless mitts, hot water bottle cover, mug cozies, home décor items and more.
This book would also be a great gift for the knitters on your list. Maybe they've also been tempted to try Fair Isle knitting but were too intimidated by difficult patterns and hard to understand instructions, to give it a try. This is a great knitting book to change all that.
The Very Easy Guide to Fair Isle Knitting is a visually stunning book. There are full-page color photos of each project throughout the 144 pages. The other pages include charts, diagrams...also in color, adding to the appeal and enjoyment of this book.
I'll keep you posted on my progress as I work on these projects. Now all I need is some yarn to get started! ;<)
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And the Winner Is....

The winner of the Spring Yarn Lover's Contest is:
Congrats Noreen, I hope you enjoy your prizes!
I have sent you an email and you have two weeks to claim your prize package.
And to everyone else who entered the contest, thanks so much for your yarn stories and entries.
Do stay tuned for more contests here at My Real Life Reviews.
Lots of new reviews in the works too!
Happy Crafting :<)

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