Posted in Book Reviews

Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective Mini Mysteries 2-4: Richard Behrens

#2: The Forlorn Maggie
#3 The Purloined Curio
#4 The Melancholy Scion

Because each installment is a mini, I decided to bunch these 3 titles into one, divided review. Lizzie Borden, made infamous by the trial & poem surrounding her parents’ murders, runs a consulting business from her home. Members of the Fall River Community visit her when they have troublesome cases that need solved. Even the police seem to turn to Lizzie’s ingenious skills to assist them.

In ‘The Forlorn Maggie’, Lizzie is again indulging in her ‘Fancy’. Simply put, the fancy is an addiction to shoplifting. As her prize is in sight, an unremarkable woman nearby is doing the same. When the shopkeepers catch her, she collapses. But, once the dust settles, it appears this woman isn’t quite as ordinary as she seemed.

Extended family of the Bordens are introduced as Lizzie is ‘hired’ on to solve a curious case. Sarah Borden, a cousin, has asked Lizzie to investigate a spiritualist. Elizabeth Wingate has appeared nightly to ‘summon’ the spirit of Sarah’s father. Believing Ms. Wingate can help locate her husband’s missing will, Mrs. Borden has allowed a number of alleged supernatural occurrences to go on. But, Sarah is skeptical & needs Lizzie’s help.

Readers get a glimpse into Lizzie’s later years in ‘Melancholy Scion’. Only one man ever captured Lizzie’s heart & he is the scion in the title. Espionage, World War, & secret societies will all get in the way as Lizzie & her new friend seek to help his father.

All three are worth a read. They are quite quick reads, as well. The two latter works are seeming longer than Book #2 & much more in-depth. Of the three, the ‘Curio’ is my favorite. Book #2 is decent, but was missing a lot of detail that would have made it more gripping. Book #3 is humorous & contains many more characters than previous installments. Book #4 is a fresh twist in the series, where her infamy is addressed as is her future. I personally didn’t have enough prior background on her other than hearing her ‘poem’ years ago. Readers who’ve wondered what became of her, get the smallest of glimpses, but enough to encourage further reading.

I’m excited to see that two additional books have been added to the series & am reading #5 now. Richard Behrens definitely stepped outside the box in order to write these mysteries. I recommend the series. With the minis, there is very little time investment, but they are all quality reads.

Posted in Book Reviews

On My Way to Someplace Else: Sandra Hurtes

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On My Way to Someplace Else
By Sandra Hurtes
Genre: Essay Collection

The essays in this collection were written after I’d begun pondering a divide in myself, one separating me into two selves: a daughter of Holocaust survivors and an average, liberated American woman.  Born  in  1950  in  Brooklyn,  I  was—at  least  on  paper— American. But even as a young girl I understood that being American meant being lighter and freer than I often felt. I was a painfully self- conscious child, consumed with concern for my family’s welfare.

The first piece in this collection is my first published essay. In it, I begin exploring my relationship with my mother—a gorgeous and painful presence in my life and a touchstone for much of my work—and the complex impact her Holocaust experiences had on me. This was the essay that helped me gain a third identity, as a writer. The rest touch on a range of themes. Some address the Holocaust; others spring from my experiences as the American Everywoman I’ve always longed to be. All are in some way about growing up, taking cues from society and peers, trying to make a life outside the life that had been ordained for me.

This collection contains my earliest essays.  I offer them, believing that no matter how unusual my circumstances have been, they will resonate with anyone who has searched for an identity and found it in more than one place.

Author Bio

Sandra Hurtes has written essays and features for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest and numerous other publications. She’s taught creative nonfiction workshops and currently teaches English at John Jay College and Marymount Manhattan College.

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Posted in coupons, Food, Offers & Deals, Product Reviews

Family Pizza Night Featuring Rustic Crust

20160123_154510There’s nothing like good food to bring the family together. Making good food together adds a closeness & can spark some amazing family conversations. Recently, we were blessed by the awesome folks at Rustic Crust with products to create a family pizza night.
20160123_154803Since our family has decreased in size from 5 to 3 with the two oldest flying the nest, we have tried to cherish each & every family moment we have. Making food together has always been an activity or family has treasured. Rustic Crust was generous enough to send us 3 crusts with 3 packets of sauce for 3 very individual pizzas. Stretching our creative abilities, we raided the refrigerator to see what we could come up with!
20160123_155529Using the Cheesy Herb Crust, I went traditional, old school with mozzarella cheese & pepperoni. Our youngest (13), went a little more modern with the Sea Salt & Basil Crust. His additions to the cheese & sauce were: black pepper, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, & ham. Not to ever be out done, my husband used the mozzarella, sauce, chives, sharp cheddar, provolone & ham on the Crispy Italian Thin Crust. We like cheese- obviously!
20160123_155425Right out of the box, we had a huge smiles on our faces. The crusts smelled AMAZING! It’s almost tempting to just eat them plain. As a mom & someone who often struggles to open packaging, I love that the sauce comes in a box, in 3 individual packages. No scissors needed, just a simple, easy tear-open pack. Anyone with an issue like Parkinson’s or Arthritis will appreciate how easy these packs are to use. To folks like us, it makes cooking a pleasure again.
As a plus for busy families looking for an easy-peasey weeknight meal, the pizzas cooked in 12 minutes. That’s quicker than you can call an order in! For those of us in rural, non-pizza delivery areas, it provides that delivery quality at home.
20160123_155802We all worry about what ingredients we’re putting into our bodies & especially what we feed our kids. I found it extrememly inpressive that none of these crusts were frozen. Adding quality, fresh veggies & skim milk cheese makes it healthier. Not to mention that you’re making it in your kitchen, with our oven, where you control everything that goes on. Gluten-free is available. Nothing needed refrigerated. Open, add, & cook.

Their website is loaded with great ideas for a never-ending list of creative pizzas. Rustic Crust offers an incredible line of crusts for every taste. The sauce is amazing. Don’t bother using any other sauce with these crusts. It’s unbelievable. Hands down, it beats any refrigerated crust or jarred sauce we’ve ever used. Honestly, it was better than some of our local pizza places too.
20160123_161155There are even coupons on the website. Rustic Crust is an A+ company with tremendous customer focus.

Visit them on Social Media for more info & recipe ideas:
Use their store locator to find a store near you. Pittsburgh residents can find them at Whole Foods. Even more GREAT NEWS: You can order their products on-line! YES!!!

*We received the aforementioned products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Giveaways, Product Reviews- DVDs


Prize: 1 – Elmo’s World: Elmo Wonders DVD (arv $14.98)

Start Time/Date: 12:00 AM (EST) 1/22/16
End Time/Date: 12:00 AM (EST) 2/15/16

This giveaway will be valid in the Continental United States only and entrants must be 18+ years
of age to enter.

Elmo’s World: Elmo Wonders DVD Giveaway


 Hosted By:

 1 – Winner

Holiday Contest and Sweeps is honored to work with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

to bring you another New DVD release from the Sesame Street Workshop called “Elmo’s

World:Elmo Wonders”.


Over two hours of fun, this wonderful compilation also features “Elmo’s World: Transportation” for the first time on DVD. As an added bonus segment, Elmo’s good friend Ernie joins the fun to sing the “I Wonder” song. Elmo’s World: Elmo Wonderswill be priced to own for $14.98 SRP on DVD.

In Elmo’s World: Elmo Wonders, Elmo wonders all about the exciting and adventurous world around him. Sesame Street’s curious red monster takes preschoolers on a journey to learn all about the sky, weather, doctors, bicycles, jumping and many other things inquisitive little kids like yours ask questions about.

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is thrilled to release another fun adventure with the most loveable preschool character ever, Elmo,” said Jeff Brown, WBHE Executive Vice President and GM of Non-Theatrical Franchise Marketing. “The Elmo’s World series has been hugely popular and we are excited to fill parents’ demand for more with Elmo’s World: Elmo Wonders.”

Sesame Street continues to be a retail powerhouse with over 4 million DVDs sold each year and more than $1.5 Billion in licensed merchandise sales. It continues to be the #1 top-of-mind preschool television shows for parents across the country.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsor

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

This giveaway is in no way affiliated, endorsed or associated with Facebook,

Twitter or any other Social Media networking Site. This giveaway is valid in the

Continental United States only and entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter.

This giveaway will end at 12:00 AM (EST) 2/15/2016.

Holiday Contest and Sweeps received a copy of this Blu-Ray/DVD for review

purposes only and no other form of compensation was received. Warner Bros.Home Entertainment will be responsible for the awarding and shipping of the

prize directly to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Posted in Beauty, Product Reviews

New Zest Fruitboost Shower Gel and Smoothie Body Scrubs: Boost Your Shower Power

For the first time, Zest, has thrown their hat into the arena of shower gels & scrubs! Perhaps, like me, you’re familiar with Zest as a bar soap and, of course, their catchy jingle about being ‘Zestfully Clean!’. As consumers’ preferences have changed, this well known brand has adapted & done so beautifully!
20160121_140524 Introducing Zest Fruitboost Shower Gels & Smoothie Body Scrubs! There are so many things I love about this collection, ir’s hard to narrow it down. Let’s start with the first thing you’ll notice: the price. With an MSRP of $3, Zest is giving rival brands a run for their money. There aren’t too many beauty-related products that are of quality, that consumers can score for $3. In our economy, it doesn’t matter how wonderful a product is if we can’t afford to buy it. Zest eliminates that worry by respecting your wallet. More for less: I love that!
20160121_140446Stretching those dollars even further, these new gels are 2X concentrated which means they last for up to 40 showers. Those of us with teens know how quickly body wash disappears. All they need is a quarter sized amount. They’ll see that this amount is plenty to achieve the awesome clean they all want. As a mom, it means fewer trips to the store while still maintaining a high standard of hygiene.
I had no problem with using them on my sensitive skin. They contain moisturizers as well as Vitamin C.

Now, how well does it work? The answer, simply put, is that it is amazing. From the amazing scent (if you close your eyes, you’d swear they were edible!) to the powerful cleaning, Zest has hit a home run with these gels. Not to be forgotten, the Smoothie Body Scrubs are just as fantastic! They exfoliate with Apricot seed which is definitely a plus as the winter weather dries out skin. Plus, they moisturize with Avocado Oil which is equally important for this season. Like their shower gel buddies, the Smoothie Scrubs smell good enough to eat (please don’t).
If gym memberships or traveling were on your New Year’s resolution list, then you’ll find that both new Zest products fit easily for travel. Zest usually offers coupons & there are offers currently available at Here you will also find a store locator so you can add these newbies to your shopping list. Join their E-Club to stay up-to-date on products & promotions. You won’t be disappointed.

Scents currently offered are: Citrus Splash, Peach Mango (my personal fave), Pomegranate Acai Berry, & Very Berry.

More info is available via Social Media:

*We received the aforementioned products in exchange for an honest review. Pics owned by Zest & DMO3 only. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Blackwater Lake: Maggie James

Matthew Stanyer knows something isn’t right when he discovers his parents are missing. Knowing his mom suffers from dementia & his father is exhausted, the need to find them becomes urgent. Local police are very helpful, but the worst is confirmed when their bodies are discovered. Although it’s ruled a murder-suicide, Matthew struggles to wrap his head around it all.

His childhood is filled with unpleasant memories and as he begins emptying the house, he dreads the assignment. Evie, his mom, was also a compulsive hoarder for most of her adult life. In the midst of years of belongings, Matthew discovers much more about the people he called Mom & Dad. It’s soon obvious that he knew very little about them. More details are unearthed, leading Matthew to believe there’s much more to the murder-suicide than they’d all believed.

Maggie James’ novella packs quite a thriller into less than a hundred pages. Her characters are well crafted & her plot is on point. Matthew reacts much the same way anyone would to the death of both parents. However, he keeps a clear head in order to figure out the bigger picture. Although it isn’t a light read, it can easily be completed in a sitting.

It was most definitely worth the time. I give it a full 5 stars & hope to see more from Maggie James.

Posted in Beauty, Product Reviews

January Hair + Nails From Beauty Box 5

20160109_152701Happy New Year! If one of your resolutions was to take better care of yourself, then Beauty Box 5 is a great place to start. For $12 per month, our favorite subscription service delivers 5 products to your mailbox every month. It’s a great gift to you! Plus, the amount of all 5 products, full size, far exceeds the $12 per month. In fact, if another of your resolutions is to save your hard-earned money, BB5 fits in there, too! Bonus!
Let’s take a closer look at the first delivery of 2016.
Continue reading “January Hair + Nails From Beauty Box 5”