Author: janishill

Author, Foodie, mum and sarcastic cow with sense of humour to match.

Book Review – Knot What You Think by Mary Marks.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Kensington Books for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

‘Knot What You Think’ is the 5th book in the ‘A Quilting Mystery’ series and just as wonderful and entertaining to read as the other four. I have been a fan from near the beginning. I think I stumbled across the 2nd or 3rd book in the series on Netgalley, loved it so much I went to Amazon and bought the first books of the series and have never looked back. I am officially a fan!

And this book has not let me down. Another mystery, another dead body and one of Martha’s friends accused of being the murderer. I do love how the characters have evolved and grown with the series. No rehashing the same cookie cutter ideas each time. Many cosy series seem to do this and the characters make the same mistakes and do the same crazy things each book and seem surprised they get the same end results. But this is not the case with Martha et al. Oh no! They’ve been learning as they go and can officially now run rings around the police force also trying to solve the case. It’s wonderful that they know they really shouldn’t be doing what they do… but let’s just try this idea anyhow and hope for the best. A lot of chutzpah there Martha! 😉

But it’s not all about crime and dead bodies; there is still that interesting underlying description of LA that I simply can’t read elsewhere. Never having visited that city I can’t say it makes me know where I am… but I do like the way it does still link the reader to a real place and it somehow makes me feel more part of the story by letting me know where everything is.

Then there are the love and romances happening… some coming to the final commitment, some budding and new, some… well, some just all over the place making me want to shake someone by the shoulders and demand they just make up their damned mind! And that final line in ‘Knot What You Think’? Oh Ms Marks, talk about leaving your fans hanging and dying for more!

Let’s not forget my two favourite parts – besides the mystery – within this book. The quilting and the wonderful sharing of the Jewish Faith. I am a hand crafting nut with a passion to learn about how other people follow their faith and so simply adore both these parts of the tale… and would feel rather sad and lonely if they were left out.

All in all this is a wonderfully well rounded mystery/ cosy crime. It has a good balance of everything that keeps it entertaining and keeps we crime sleuths guessing. Well, actually I figured out the whodunit early on (bane of my existence that I do this) but I still needed to know the why and didn’t get that until the end. And all my questions were answered nicely without the book seeming to need to rush to finish or just stop. Which I hate in mysteries/ cosy crime stories. They tell you the who and why and then – the end. Any loose threads are left flapping in the breeze. But it didn’t happen with ‘Knot What You Think’. A true quilter knows how to deal with loose threads and tuck them all neatly away before displaying the final perfect piece.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, though I would strongly advise they read the first four books in the series before reading this one. It’s not a stand-alone novel, refers back to their other adventures quite a bit and I really feel the reader would be missing out and doing both themselves and Ms Marks an injustice if they didn’t read all five books in order.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. I already own the other books in the series (bought via Kindle) and would be more than happy to add book 5 to my list when I can. I just had a bit of a buying splurge though so give me a few months. 😉 Owning the electronic ARC of a book is one thing, but putting your money where your mouth is and paying for a copy – because you respect the author – is totally another thing. Where possible I always pay for a copy of books I enjoy simply to give the author the credit and reward they deserve.

In summary: A fantastic follow on book to an already highly entertaining mystery series. Highly recommend!

Until next time,

Janis.

Product Review – Mama’s Natural Magic Cotton Reusable Menstrual Pads – Heavy Flow / Overnight.

Just to warn my usual readers… this is what you think it is. But I am a reviewer of all things that interest me – hence the Eclectic name – so if you do not feel comfortable with reading this topic, I hope to bring you something more your style soon.❤

I bought this item with my own money online from Mama’s Natural Magic upon suggestions made on the Natural New Age Mum’s Facebook group.

As a brief overview of the item, please visit Mama’s Natural Magic product page here.

Disclaimer:

I am not being paid to make this review, nor am I deliberately singling this product or company out. I’m just trying to give an open and honest review on items I use in my household.

Please note:  This review is based solely on Mama’s Natural Magic Cotton Reusable Menstrual Pads – Heavy Flow/ Overnight. This is not a review of Mama’s Natural Magic themselves, or any other products, services or business they may offer.

5 out of 5 stars

My Review:

Last year I bought a series of cloth pads from different makers and I have to say that, even after all this time, the Mama’s Natural Magic Heavy flow/ overnight pad is still my favourite.

Why? Simply because I am a bigger bottomed woman and so need a longer pad. So love this larger size as it fits and protects me when needed…

I did warn you if this is a TMI moment! If this is upsetting you go watch some cute baby animals on YouTube, take a few deep breaths and visit me again when I post about a book or something! 😉

So, for those seriously interested in reusable cloth pads, these are excellent! Leak proof – both day and night – during any part of my cycle. And they last longer/ absorb more than disposable pads and so you don’t need to change them as often, even during your heaviest moment.

They are easy to attach with their snap locks, fold up nice and discreet to the size of the average disposable pad and are easy to clean. I simply wash them out when I am done with them and then pop them into a load of washing along with my other pads and things. I actually have a new washing machine that does a special “hygienic wash” for things like cloth nappies and pads and so I am curious to see what it makes of them. For now, I’ve had no staining or colour loss in my old machine. I do use a gentle eco-friendly washing liquid and no bleaches, fabric softeners or anything like that so I can’t vouch for what would happen if you were someone who did use such cleaners. For me, it’s either Method or Eco Store laundry soap. And no need to soak if you rinse them out as soon as you are done using them.

Due to what they are, and their layers, they do take a little longer to dry than an averge article of clothing. I’ve not tumble dried them so can’t comment on that, but do know they love a good line dry out in the sun or, if they’re not quite dry by the time I bring the washing in  – during winter – they finish drying nicely in front of the fire. No smell, no stains, no stiffness. Perfect.

I can see myself getting many years of good use out of these pads and so not only saving on my budget in the long run, but helping to reduce what we send to landfill and so helping the environment out too.

Would I recommend this product to others?

Yes I would. I feel so safe and comfortable in them and, as stated, no leaking! I’ve worn them out in public as well as at home and am protected no matter how active (walking, gardening, etc) that I am. And being cloth they are so wonderfully breathable and so you feel fresh – unlike with disposables.
The reason I would recommend them the most is they are a good fit for the larger woman, so very affordable, of excellent quality and do the job they were made to do without any accidents.

Would I buy this product for myself?

Yes, as said, I’ve done so already. And I don’t regret that purchase at all. In fact I am thinking of buying a couple more just to finish my set of pads. That is the wondrous thing about cloth pads; you can buy them one or two at a time to fit into your budget. It’s what I’ve done and I almost have enough to last an entire cycle without disposable. Such an awesome feeling!

In summary: They do the job they are intended to do. No leaks, easy to use then wash and use again! Best cloth pads I’ve tried.

Until next time,

Janis

Book Review – Cook Fast, Eat Well by Sue Quin.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a free paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

I have to start by saying ‘Cook Fast, East Well’ was a delightful surprise, especially because I received a copy without having requested it first. Yay!

Secondly, as much as I’ve never really been a fan of the 4/ 5 ingredient cook books, I really enjoyed this one! Why? Because the majority of ingredients are whole foods – which is what I like to see in a cook book. Most “only this many ingredients” cook books contain way too much processed, ready mix nasties for my liking. And, yes, there are things like marshmallows and crackers (see the smores recipe) in ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ but they are few and far between. Pretty much everything else is like fresh pasta, fresh spinach, double cream, etc… No, I don’t mean every other recipe is just made up of these particular ingredients – give me some credit people! – what I am saying is that the ingredients used in the recipes are good, whole foods and not a tin of this and a packet of that rubbish I find so abhorrent in cook books. It’s not cooking if all you’re doing is opening things and mixing them – that’s just making a meal… and not a very good one either. Just saying. 😉

And – shock and horror – I actually TRIED a recipe and have the photographic evidence to prove it. My kids simply begged me to try the ‘smores – even though they already know how to make them. And, yes, Canadian cousins have pointed out these are not true ‘smores as some of the ingredients are wrong… but I don’t mind. They tasted good and that’s all that matters. Only problem I had was I used imported American marshmallows, rather than the Aussie ones I am used to… and those suckers cooked faster (and were more flammable) than I am used to. Super, super sweet too. Good thing they tasted okay “slightly caramelised” aka burnt. But the fault lies completely with me not paying attention to the griller and ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ cannot be blamed at all. It DID warn me to keep an eye on them!

Actually I found this a great little cook book for my eldest (soon to be 13) to add to her collection for when she eventually flies the nest. She has picked up my love of cooking (and cook books) and simply loves the quick and simply whole food recipes shown in ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’. So definitely one for the beginner!

The layout and format were interesting. I personally found them a little weird as there is no real ingredient list like what I am used to. Instead there is a picture of the ingredients with notes attached to each item telling you what it is and how much is needed. The method too is different where it’s not in a step by step or bullet format, simply a couple of paragraphs explaining it all to you. I am not saying this is bad or makes it a terrible book… it’s just different. But my daughter doesn’t see a problem with it and finds the ingredients easy to read and the method easy to follow… so I guess new generation, new style cook book and I am just an old fuddy duddy set in my ways! 😀

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, but I would only be recommending it to those new to the kitchen and cooking their own foods from scratch. That is not me being derogatory about the person’s skills or this book – I simply feel ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ is an excellent book for beginners or for getting those not too confident with from scratch cooking to get in there and give it a try.

But even an old hand like me can learn a thing or two from ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ (like how to NOT burn marshmallows) so maybe it is suited to all levels of cooks? Though, personally, I think it is an excellent starter book for those new to the kitchen and that is how I will be recommending it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Because I was gifted a paper copy, I don’t need to. Though I will openly and honestly say here and now I have regifted it to my daughter (or so I have been told when she politely snatched it from my hand crooning “my precious”). I, personally, don’t see a need to race out and buy a new copy… If I need to borrow it I will just nick it from her room when she is at school. 😉 But, yes, not a book I would/ do own… but a book much loved by my daughter and budding young cook so I feel it has gone to a good home.
In summary: an excellent simple ingredient whole food cook book best suited to encourage new and inexperienced chefs to get into the kitchen and have a go. Great book.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for granting my wish on Netgalley and providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book.

Now I want to remind people now that ‘One for Sorrow’ is of the “children’s fiction” genre. I wouldn’t even put it into the YA genre, more the tween (middle school in USA) genre. And I knew this when I asked to read it as, quite frankly, I loved ghost stories when I was that age and the blurb of this book reminded me of such books.

And I wasn’t disappointed!

The era the story was based in was clearly researched, and I do love the author’s note at the end explaining the inspiration for the story. Just added to the whole story and explained why the setting was so vivid.

And the ghostly hauntings were just right for the age group it is aimed at. A little hair raising, but not so scary as needing to only read it in the daylight (or in your parents room as it’s so scary) – yes, that was me as a tween (all those eons ago) when I was reading a particularly scary kid’s book. I like a scare…. But not such a scare as I couldn’t sleep in the dark. So, yeah, my teacher reading the class ‘The Triffids’ was right out! 😉

‘One for Sorrow’ was a fabulous balance of history, adventure and spine tingling scares – that weren’t so scary that the child might need to lock the book away in a drawer because it scared them too much (me again aged 9). I enjoyed it so much I am going to go hunting for more children’s ghost stories by Ms Downing Hahn and also see if I can encourage my own kids to read them. Sadly, they are not into scary books like I was. No idea where I’ve gone wrong with that area of parenting. 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. My children are aged 13, 10 and 8 and I honestly do feel the older two – if they read ghost stories – would thoroughly enjoy this tale. I am going to try my electronic copy on them next time they tell me they are bored and just see how we go. But yes, I feel this book is perfect for the age group it was written for (and those who enjoy that genre but may be a tad older like me) and would indeed recommend it. Though I would emphasise the obvious – it’s a ghost story. Be prepared if you’re kids do find it too scary. I don’t think they would… but I could be wrong.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Not for myself exactly, but yes I would definitely consider ‘One for Sorrow’, and others like it by Ms Downing Hahn for my children to read. Ghost stories can be such fun when they are written well, and this one was indeed written well!

 

In summary: A great little ghost tale for children and children at heart who want a little scare.

 

Product Review – Crio Bru Pumpkin Spice.

4 out of 5 stars

Ooh, look, another Crio Brü flavour to try out! 😉

Before I get into my review, here are the usual basics.

Disclaimer:
I was awarded my packet of Crio Brü Pumpkin Spice via a competition that Crio Brü Australia held on Facebook. There was no requirement, upon winning, for me to publish a review. I am simply doing it as I am a reviewer and I do so love my Crio Brü.
Please note:  My review is based solely on Crio Brü’s Pumpkin Spice blend. This is not a review of Crio Brü themselves or any other products, services or business they may offer.

 

Now, followers of my reviews will know that I don’t drink coffee (it gives me headaches and heart palpitations), but I did miss coffee very much… which is why I absolutely love Crio Brü as it’s like having coffee, but not.

It is a brilliant, organic, ethically produced coffee substitute made from Cacao Beans. To learn more about Crio Brü in general, please visit their website here.

 

My Review –

Crio Brü Pumpkin Spice is a special blend normally only found in the American packaging of Crio Brü (I think). It’s not a straight Cacao bean blend, but includes spices – like those used in America for their pumpkin pies – hence it being known as “Pumpkin Spice”. This might be a little confusing to Australians who have never heard of “Pumpkin Spice” and I had some of my friends worried I was drinking a coffee substitute flavoured of pumpkin. No… just the spices used. For more info on what “Pumpkin Spice” is all about, check out the Wiki explanation here.

As for the spice used in the Crio Brü Pumpkin Spice blend? The packet tells me it consists of cacao beans, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. And I can tell you they are all ground up so no big chunky bits.

Best way to describe it for those not knowing about Pumpkin Spice, but maybe being into Chai like me is…. Think of it as a tame dirty chai. And for those who don’t know what that is… it’s a chai (tea spice blend) with coffee. But the spices in the Pumpkin Spice are rather tame in comparison to a true chai or dirty chai. It’s just the three spices I’ve listed, where a decent chai has a lot, lot more.

All the same, it is still a very tasty drink, reminds me of Christmas and all the German spiced biscuits and chocolates I love to consume at that time. So, yes it MAY be a “tame dirty chai” but that isn’t me saying it is a bland flavour. It is still very flavoursome. Very Christmasy for me!

Although Crio Brü can be used in baking as well as just drinking it, I will have to admit I’ve only used the Pumpkin Spice blend as a drink. I mean, yes, I think it would work absolutely brilliantly in a bliss ball – especially at summer/ Christmas party picnics – but I was only awarded a little bag and I am just enjoying drinking it way too much to share it in baking – or with the rest of the family. 😉

Though I will admit that since my nearly 13 year old daughter has mastered the kettle she has started drinking my Crio Brü!!!! No!!! And Pumpkin Spice is her favourite! Meaning Crio Brü Australia needs to stock more soon.

The good thing about Crio Brü is it is indeed perfectly fine for kids to eat or drink as it might taste like coffee but doesn’t give them any of the hyper, insane, headache craziness that coffee can give them. Heck, my kids don’t get to drink coffee or caffeinated soft drinks but they get the occasional Crio Brü – perfect for iced summer drinks.

Flavour wise, Crio Brü Pumpkin Spice is one of the mid-range blends. So it’s not as strong as the Cavalla French Roast blend, but not as mild as the plain Cavalla blend. I’d put it probably between the Vega Reál and Maracaibo for strength… but this will only make sense if you try them all and know your Brü like I do. 😉

Other than that, it is just the same as any of the other Crio Brü blends, meaning it is organic, gluten free, dairy free, non GMO, Vegan friendly, etc. So, basically, easy to make and safe to drink for you and the whole family.

 

Would I recommend this product to others?

Yes I would, but I would advise them of the spice content so they realise it’s not a straight coffee sub/ Crio Brü flavour. I can’t think of anyone personally who wouldn’t like the spices, but I am sure there are a few people who like their coffee substitutes straight. But yes, lovers of Crio Brü and dirty chai would love this blend.

 

Would I buy this product for myself?

Oh heck yes! I love it; love the spice nature and the Christmasy feel it gives my morning brew. I really do hope there is an opportunity for Crio Brü Australia to get it on a more regular basis as it is amazing!

In summary: A mid to mild blend that packs a nice and spicey Christmasy whallop. Highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Music Review – 111 Zen Tracks: Meditate & Free Your Mind, Relaxing Sounds to Keep Calm, Music to Treatment of Insomnia and Anxiety

I bought this album with my own money so my review is my own and not one paid for by others. I tried to buy it from Amazon but wasn’t available to Australia so ended up buying it via Google Music.

What can I say, I loved this album. So relaxing, peaceful and calming to listen to day or night.

There are indeed 111 tracks to this album and they average about 4 minutes each. So perfect for a quick moment of meditation within a busy work day – 1 or 2 tracks – or to help you drift off to sleep at night. But I have found you need to set it to fade out because if you listen to it all night you do not slip into the deep sleep needed, rather just float at the level similar to meditating. Wonderful… but not so restful. 😉

I have also found playing this music to a house full of bored kids trapped inside during their school holidays  – due to terrible weather – a magical balm that leads to calm, polite individuals rather than the horrors I usual claim to be the mother of.

So, yes, this album was amazing. Really helped me to centre and focus. To detached myself from the hectic nature of my life for a moment and find that inner peace and strength.

Some may think this album is like “spa music” or even elevator music… but they would be people who don’t meditate and look to clear their minds and heal their souls. So don’t listen to them. Loved this album, best purchase in a while. Definitely value for money and so very, very helpful and finding my inner peace.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Destined: a novel of the Tarot By Gail Cleare.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank the author Gail Cleare for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review. I approached her via a book reviewing newsletter I get so no sneaky deals done. Just me simply wanting to read a book as it looked interesting.

Okay, so I will say I felt ‘Destined: a novel of the Tarot’ was going to be a lot different than it was. Like other reviews I’ve read, I was thinking it would be more an urban fantasy romance mystery than the… ‘women’s fiction’ it turned out to be. But hey, I read it, enjoyed it to some extent and so am not disappointed I requested or read it.

But, yeah, if you were looking for something with a plot, mystery, adventure – don’t read this book. It is more a constant rambling journey of someone thinking out loud as they find themselves. It’s more about love, life, learning how to be who you are and all in all – that girly affirmation stuff we sometimes need to read to help us reconnect with who we truly are.

So, if you can’t tell yet, I have mixed feelings on ‘Destined: a novel of the Tarot’. It wasn’t what I had hoped and expected… but it was an entertaining, feel good, brain fairy floss book type book I enjoyed all the same.

I will admit to being a bit annoyed by the inconsistencies of belief. One moment the main character is in touch with people, their auras, spirits, etc… the next she is saying she has no true belief. Meditates and knows about her chakra, then later on needs to have it all explained to her.

But, other than that, it was still a feel good book suited to my eco green hippy Pagan ways. Those who have left bad reviews for this book simply didn’t get it. They expected something and closed their minds off to all other options. I expected something different than what the book is, but enjoyed the rambling, plotless, feel good journey all the same.

‘Destined: a story of the Tarot’ to me was like a fictional story of the perfect world, people and friends – there to help create a positive affirmation of life. Telling the reader that this sort of thing may indeed be possible and, if not, hopefully the read was at least entertaining. Mind you, I read this mostly while listening to my new downloaded album of ‘Zen Meditation’ music so maybe I just found the blend of the two worked well together and allowed me to enjoy what was there rather than get annoyed that it wasn’t what I had wanted?

Oh, and although I didn’t use my Tarot while reading this book – I do indeed own a deck (rune stones too) and with some pretty major things happening in my life right now I feel ‘Destined: a novel of the Tarot’ has really helped reinforce my belief and need in using these tools to help find guidance from within myself. A shove in a direction I haven’t been for a while. So, although no Tarot cards were touched during the reading of this book, I can see myself grabbing my deck soon to ask a few important questions and seek guidance. 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

This is a tough call as I really don’t know. Why? As this is a genre I usually don’t enjoy and avoid like the plague. Feel good women’s fiction with HEA endings and all that. I am just surprised the main character wasn’t a vegetarian – as it seems that most of them are vegetarian or vegan when I read characters like this of late.

So, yeah, as much as I enjoyed this book, after stumbling into it being something I didn’t expect, I really don’t know if I could recommend it as it’s just not something I usually read and so don’t know who I would really recommend it to.

 

Would I buy this book for myself?

No, I can’t say I would. Please realise though that this is due to me simply not being a fan this genre and not a comment on the quality of the book. The quality is not bad, just not really my thing.

In summary: A feel good story of female affirmation on love, life and finding one’s own path in life.

Until next time,

Janis.