Book Review – Art on the Rocks by F. Sehnaz Bac, Marisa Redondo, Margaret Vance.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Quarto Publishing Group – Walter Foster for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Don’t let my mid-range score make you think this is a mediocre book as it’s not! It was, however a hard electronic ARC to read (kept freezing and glitching) and, to be honest, there are so many good books, Pinterest sites and blogs on rock art right now and unfortunately I didn’t feel ‘Art on the Rocks’ stood out enough to get more than an average score.

But, again, this isn’t me saying it wasn’t any good… it was great and some of the art designs are divine – I even went out and bought paints and brushes to try some… when I find the right rocks – but, as said, there is a LOT of media out there right now on rock painting and there needed to just be that little be extra spark in there to make it stand out… and it wasn’t there.

However, from another book on rock painting I have read, I need to say that F. Sehnaz Bac is an artist I now greatly admire and do so love her art and style. That fox on the front cover…. And the instructions within the book – I MUST try that! What a talent!

What was the book all about? Well, rock painting – duh! But it didn’t just cover how to paint on rocks, ‘Art on the Rocks’ teaches techniques too. From what materials (including rocks) you should source, through to the best paints, brushes, pens and inks to use. There is not only an introductory section that covers this, but each rock design continues the lesson explaining the best techniques and tools to use to achieve the final piece. Because of this, I felt the book excellent for all levels of painters from beginners through to people just wanting to fine tune their techniques.

‘Art on the Rocks’ also covers different styles of painting from animals, mandalas to nature and petroglyphs. Don’t forget to read up on the artists who took the time to make the book!

For the formal side of things – format, layout, etc. – the book is well constructed, easy to read and each section and design is set out in manner that makes it easy to follow while reading or, as my daughter found out, while replicating the design. Hers isn’t finished so I can share a pic, sorry!

All in all it was a fantastic book that not only teaches techniques and painting, but is full of projects to try, to inspire and to encourage the painter to branch out and try something new.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. As, it’s good. Yes I have just said it’s not above average but I am perfectly imperfect so have the right to now recommend it as, quite frankly, I love the designs and styles within it.
And I would recommend it to anyone – of any artistic level – to read, try and buy. Though will say this isn’t a book for little kids. I’d let my 10 and 12 year olds have a go, but they are above average in their abilities and have had their work displayed in galleries… but, yeah, parent’s discretion as to whether your child is ready for this… I personally see it as being more for the late teens to adults who have better co-ordination skills with brush and pen.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I might… But to be honest I’d much rather borrow it from a library first. How cruel of me I know!

But basically, I would want to borrow it and try it out a few times before deciding whether I was good enough to try and do rock art all the time and not just as a passing hobby. If I was to take it up as a permanent way to relax and unwind then yes, this is indeed the book I would buy.

In summary: a great book that doesn’t just teach designs to paint, but techniques too.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

5 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Kensington Books for granting my wish and allowing me to read an electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Wow! What a book! I mean, seriously addictive and so full of emotions! As some people know, I’m not usually a fan of Literary Fiction but I sometimes get in the mood to give it another go and hope the book I read is worth it. ‘The Life She Was Given’ was definitely worth it! I want to go on about how certain areas of the book made me feel, but I am concerned mentioning them would be one great big spoiler…

So I will just say some of the full circle moments were heart aching and so well written I needed a tissue! I am not a crier! Well, except for those animal ads, you know the ones. 😉

But, yes, this was a brilliantly well-written tale told in two halves about the one family. Parts of it set in the 1930’s and parts of it set in the 1950’s and  – although I’m not an expert –  I do feel some good, solid research went into writing in both eras and in both locations – one a manor house/ horse farm, and the other a travelling circus.

The stories are woven so well together, linking in subtle ways that the story runs seamlessly. Sometimes when you get two different stories running in the same book they are very disjointed and hodge podge. Not in ‘The Life She Was Given’. No – seamless writing!

What can I say about ‘The Life She Was Given’ without giving anything away? Well, it is a very emotional journey through both eras, the characters are well written and I found myself connecting with them to enjoy the ride (even through the sad bits) and boy was it addictive! My kids were told to fend for themselves on Saturday (they are 12, 10 and 8 so can do the basics) as I simply HAD to keep reading!

The only issues I found with this book – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the author, which is why I didn’t mark it down in my score – is that the eBook formatting was blocky and jumbled in places. New paragraphs starting mid-sentence, the title and page number of the book appearing mid page… EBook formatting can be a pain at times and one little glitch and cause a whole series of issues… But as it was an ARC I read I merely assumed that Kensington Books would have it all sorted and that the final version will be perfect.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Lovers of historical fiction and literary fiction, even women’s fiction, are going to enjoy ‘The Life She Was Given’. I was raving over it so much my 12 year old wants to have a read… but I feel – despite her above average levels of maturity and intelligence – that I wouldn’t recommend it to her. Yes teen girls like to adventure into this genre but their raw, developing emotions might get a little too hurt in reading this. It’s not a horror book or a completely sad tale… but there are moments where you may want to just put the book down for a moment and hug the cat or child or something.

 

Would I buy this book for myself?

Tough call. I mean, I did love it and am still walking off the book hangover it’s given me. But my underlying aversion to literary fiction does make me baulk at going out and buying my own copy. What a miser I am being! It is an amazingly heart felt and emotional roller coaster of a book – wow I can’t believe I was just that corny – but, yeah, some books touch you in such a way they are better as library books than ones you personally own.

As in, they are kept offsite and away from you, but you have access to them when you want to feel the way they make you feel… does that make sense? No, no I don’t think it does! But it’s how I feel. Love the book, not too sure I would want to possess it as it needs to be free. LOL! Ignore me, it’s Monday and my Crio Brü mug is in the wash.

 

In summary: A brilliant, well-written literary fiction that is going to tug at the heart strings while keeping you wanting more. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis

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.