Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly

Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly

by Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin, & Tom Garcia
Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Werewolves, Fae
FORMAT (144 pages, DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT)
Mercy is a shapeshifting coyote and honorary member of the Tri-Cities werewolf pack. When the pack stumbles upon the buried bones of numerous dead children, she shapeshifts into a mystery of the legendary fae - a mystery that draws Mercy's stepdaughter Jesse into the fray! The supernatural romance series Mercy Thompson continues in this all-new, original story by New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Briggs, exclusively created for the comic book medium! Collects the six-issue Mercy Thompson comic book series from 2014-2015, a story set in official continuity.

A nice addition to the novels. (4 stars)

Since the Mercy Thomson series of novels first came out I've been a huge fan. I remember the the excitement I felt when I picked up the first book at the store at random and found a map of my hometown inside. I've not been as avid of a fan of the comics but mostly just due to time constraints. I'm glad I took the time to sit down and devour this one though. Garcia did an excellent job of capturing the region while also bringing the characters to vivid life.

It's not my favorite Mercy story but it was spooky and impressively not completely predictable. The story hinged much more on Jesse than Mercy which was also a nice change of pace. On a totally gratuitous note... hello crazy hot Zee. lol

If you've enjoyed the other comics/graphic novels I think you'll dig this one too. If you've a fan of the novels this actually fits into the series continuity so that's a huge plus. Definitely check it out.



Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

Get your Mercy Thompson collection started:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

4 Reasons You Need This Beautiful Flower Crown from Valdler



If you follow me on social media you might have seen the horror we spent the end of June and beginning of July dealing with. Head lice. *shudder* Of course, this was when I had just received this stunning floral head wreath with an eagerness to review it. Much facepalming was had as I made the decision not to risk getting them on the wreath and postponed my review. Then we had rain and more rain and vicious high winds. Finally we had some sun and a perfect day for some photos outdoors. ☺ Please enjoy the review and check out Valdler's products on Amazon, I am VERY impressed! -- Rhi


Superior quality at an affordable price. (5 Stars)

If you're looking for a beautiful, well-made floral head wreath I cannot recommend this stunning piece of Valdler enough. Each flower is handmade and lovely. They're tightly bunched unlike other low priced options I've found in stores and online. The ribbons are long enough that you have a lot of adjustability for both the crown and the wristband. For my daughter we chose to have her wear the wristband as an anklet to adorable effect but I'd dare say the same could be done for an adult too. Overall this is a striking pair that would be wonderful for a child, teen, or grown woman equally. 

I have a few ideas for ways I would use this that I wanted to specifically share for this blog post:

This would make a fantastic photographer's prop both for portraits and editorial projects. Because it's well made it can handle a lot of adjustment and wear by children!

Cosplay, renfaire, and music festivals! The high quality of this piece make it a great choice because it can hold up to all day wear and hot weather and the flowers look more real than many of the other options out there.

Weddings and special events. This one is pretty obvious, it's inexpensive so it won't break your budget and if you're crafty you could easily add netting, ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, or other accents to individualize it to your tastes. Perhaps this pink version for the flower girl and the white version for the bride?

A dress-up box item. We turned an old dresser into a really great costume closet for our daughter a couple of Christmases ago and filled it with clearanced Halloween costumes. But we've since added nicer pieces (now that she's older and doesn't damage everything) like this and some costume jewelry that make her feel really special when she plays. Perfect for a older child who loves to dressup.

If you're convinced you need it find it on Amazon:

Valdler Flower Crown with Floral Wrist Band
Product Details: Material: Paper and foam (petals) and polyester (leaves)
Diameter: 16-18 cm (floral hair wreath), 6.5 cm (floral wrist band)
Adjustable size with the ribbon, fits most heads and comfortable to wear
Beautiful for bridal, bridesmaids or flower girls in the wedding, festivals, photography, etc.
It is normal for 1 or 2 pieces of petals falling off as the floral wreath is handmade and can be easily glued without having effect on the overall outlook




Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for this honest review. 
Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Giveaway Service website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Reference ID: pm654dd74cfe6a0767d67ad0ef76f8eeea

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 Reasons the Diamond Menstrual Cup Didn't Work for Me but Might Work for You


Diamond Menstrual Cup
Product Details: MENSTRUAL CUPS with a CAUSE. For every diamond menstrual cup purchased, our company supports Feminine Hygiene Education & Kits for women & girls in third world countries who miss school or are shamed due to their period. We are proud to support these Causes. These cups are HYPOALLERGENIC FDA APPROVED MEDICAL GRADE SILICONE. Latex free, manufactured in USA. High quality with women's safety and health in mind
DID YOU KNOW? The average woman will spend $2400 & use 11,000 tampons in her lifetime? Save money and time with the eco-friendly safe Diamond cup. Reusable for up to 15 years.
WHAT SIZE DO YOU NEED? Size Small/A made for women who have not given birth or had a Cesarean. Size Large/B designed for women post-childbirth.
NO LEAKS OR ACCIDENTS! No leaks, accidents or odor when properly used and inserted. Easy to insert and detailed directions and helpful video link is provided with every purchase.
FREEDOM FROM YOUR PERIOD!. Safe to wear during sporting, exercise, swimming and virtually all daytime activities. Effective for eliminating nighttime leaks and bulky pad wear. Forget you are even on your period!

Every Body is Different. Here's my review of the Diamond...

If you are always looking for ways to save money and be more kind of our planet chances are you've heard of menstrual cups. But they are an up front investment that makes dropping the cash for one a good reason to read reviews and be sure you've found the one that sounds most likely to work well with your body.

I've had two vaginal births and I'm pretty comfortable with my body so my earliest forays into the world of menstrual cups seemed fairly straight forward. I saved up my pennies and plunked them down on one of the most well known brands. I purchased the size intended for women who are older and who have had babies. Unfortunately, try though I might I never could get comfortable with it. Placement was near impossible. I had literally once got it lodged sideways and that was excruciatingly painful and difficult to remove. For three months I tried to make it work. I crawled Pinterest seeking advice and suggestions, different folds and more reviews. I finally decided maybe it was the size.

Enter the Diamond Cup. It's nearly identical to the Lunette but this time I got the smaller size. I wanted to see if it was a size issue for me and the Diamond is much less expensive. I'm sad to report though that once again it didn't work for me but it might be a great option for you and here are my reasons why:

Not everyone's bodies are the same size and shape. I'm glad I went with the small on this because its shorter length was much more comfortable for me. I also found that the width was a good fit as well. If you know your body pretty well I think you should be the judge on which cup size is more likely to suit you. Ultimately for me the size still wasn't a great fit. I could still feel the stem and if you've tried cups before you know that the stem can cause major irritation. The Diamond was better than the Lunette this way but not perfect. If you generally like cups in this style but have found the stem uncomfortable this one is a great option.

If you have to wear backup protection it kinda defeats the purpose. You're welcome to debate whether my issue was user error or a matter of my body functions but every time I used the Diamond I had some leakage. Never a lot, but enough that it was necessary to wear a pantiliner with it. If that's no biggie to you then drive on sister, personally I would prefer not to.

When it all boils down, it's got to do it's job without causing pain. What ultimately made me decide I couldn't keep using the Diamond was that no matter that I had it properly placed or that it was working alright I couldn't stand or sit while using it. I found the silicone was too stiff and hard to be comfortable. Laying down wasn't as bad but it put so much painful pressure against my insides that by the second day of usage I had to stop. It just hurt so much it's all I could think about. For some women menstrual cups that sit lower in the vaginal canal are just not comfortable but if you like them and are in need of a new one I think the Diamond is an affordable option that's very comparable to the Lunette and similar cups.

After using the Diamond I went back to using the reusable Softcup. It's not as economical but it's the only menstrual cup option I've found that works well and doesn't hurt. Keep in mind that this has just been my personal experience with it and that your body and it's needs are unique to you. If you're a first timer be sure and do your homework! Read loads of reviews and decide which one sounds right for you and be ready to have to buy a few before you find the perfect one for you. I think the Diamond is a good cup that will last for years and that if it's a good fit for your body you will absolutely love it. It just wasn't for me.



Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Zaca Recovery Chewable


Zaca Recovery Chewable (Mixed Berry, 4 Packs - 16 Tablets)

Company Site: website
Product Details: FEATURING JAPANESE RAISIN (contains Dihydromyricetin - DHM). Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over a millennium as a detoxifying agent for alcohol. It also helps to cool the body which helps to combat the heat alcohol creates, and it has anti-fatigue effects.
AID ELECTROLYTES AND HYDRATION. L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine (Sustamine®) alone helps helps the body replace lost electrolytes and fluids, and refill the body's energy stores.
EASY TO USE. Take on-the-go with no water needed & perfect travel companion.
NATURAL INGREDIENTS. Non-Gmo, Sugar Free (using Xylitol & Stevia), Gluten Free, Whole Food & Fermented Based Ingredients, No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives
MULTIFUNCTIONAL WHETHER WEEKEND WARRIOR, ENDURANCE ATHLETE OR BUSINESS TRAVELER. Because of so many benefits in the formulation, in addition to partying the chewables are great to use for exercise, work, travel & altitude.



I like them for workout recovery. (4 Stars)

Having used Zaca's patches for hangovers in the past I thought the chewables would make a great option for workout recovery. With the summer heat and the HIIT workouts I've been doing on occasion I find that sometimes water and a protein filled snack aren't enough. I still feel drained and wind up so fatigued that I have a hard time getting a solid workout the next day.

So far I've found that 2 tablets about 20 minutes after I finish followed by some water works well for me. Normally I avoid stevia like the plague because it majorly upsets my stomach and overall digestion but I've found that not only do I not taste it (ugh I hate that sickly sweet taste it has) I haven't had the tummy trouble. They even taste good and not weird or medicine like as many of them do.

If you're looking for an easy to carry recovery option for your gym bag I would definitely recommend checking them out. I honestly haven't had a drink in a long time so I can't say if these work as well as the patches for a hangover but I think they'd be even better based on how they've helped with my hardest workouts.



Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for an honest review.

Struggling to Stretch Your Grocery Budget? This Book Might Help.

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

Cookbook, Economics, Budgeting
Ebook/Print (208 pages, WORKMAN)
A perfect and irresistible idea: A cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes created for everyone on a tight budget—and a cookbook with a strong charitable component: With every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need.
While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at NYU, Leanne Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informally known as food stamps? The answer is surprisingly well: Broiled Tilapia with Lime, Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad—even desserts like Coconut Chocolate Cookies and Peach Coffee Cake. In addition to creating nutritious recipes that maximize every ingredient and use economical cooking methods, Ms. Brown gives tips on shopping; on creating pantry basics; on mastering certain staples—pizza dough, flour tortillas—and saucy extras that make everything taste better, like spice oil and tzatziki; and how to make fundamentally smart, healthful food choices.
The idea for Good and Cheap is already proving itself. The author launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish and fund the buy one/give one model. Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched her video and donated $145,000, and national media are paying attention. Even high-profile chefs and food writers have taken note—like Mark Bittman, who retweeted the link to the campaign; Francis Lam, who called it “Terrific!”; and Michael Pollan, who cited it as a “cool kickstarter.” In the same way that TOMS turned inexpensive, stylish shoes into a larger do-good movement, Good and Cheap is poised to become a cookbook that every food lover with a conscience will embrace.


A Generalized, Useful Resource (4 stars)

I grew up quite poor. I remember watching my mother slice the moldy parts off of 'government' cheese for sandwiches while things like chips and snack cakes were luxuries I only saw in the lunchboxes of my peers. But if there's one thing growing up mostly in poverty will teach you, it is how to be resourceful and grateful for what you do have... because there is always someone who has much less or does not have the skills to make do with what they do have. With this in mind I was quite eager to see what Brown had put together.

GOOD AND CHEAP has a lot of fantastic information about not just how to prepare food, but when and how to buy it to maximize your budget. Whether you're receiving SNAP benefits or just living on a tight budget as a single-income family there are recipes and information here that will help you eat well and even quite healthfully.

The one area it doesn't seem to hit on that I felt would have been of great use is food allergies. Having discovered earlier this year that my partner is allergic to wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and a host of other inexpensive staples I struggled for several months with horrifying grocery bills trying to find ways to avoid allergens while on a very tight budget. I'd have liked to see some budgeting advice for those who are struggling with food allergies or celiac disease because those conditions affect low income families just as much as those of wealth and alternative foods can be costly.

Overall, while I feel that some of the recipes and ingredients were still a bit unreasonable to expect someone of limited means to get on board with, GOOD AND CHEAP is still a fantastic general resource for anyone who wants to eat well with limited funds. This would make a terrific gift for young adults new to living on their own.



Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Phantom Fit Resistance Bands


Phantom Fit Set of 4 Resistance Loop Bands

Company Site: website http://phantomfit.com/
Product Details: The Secret Of Getting a Toned Body Without Clunky and Expensive Exercise Equipment Or A Gym Membership
Workouts can be such a hassle. If you're not running to the gym every day before or after work, you're trying to find the motivation to do an intense workout on your home gym.Resistance bands are the best solution because they:
- Are perfect for physical therapy exercises all the way to intense workouts
- Works flawlessly for arm, ankle, and leg workouts
- Are separated by resistance level to meet your needs
- Are extremely durable and long-lasting
- Are lightweight and portable
What's Included? Four Phantom Fit or GHI brand resistance loop bands
- 1 Blue Light Band
- 1 Red Medium Band
- 1 Green Heavy Band
- 1 Black X-Heavy Band



Fantastic for resistance based stretching. (5 Stars)

I'd never tried resistance bands before getting this set to try and I'm now wishing I had been using them much sooner! There's so much you can do with them from physical therapy exercises to actual strength training workouts. My primary use for them though is increasing my flexibility through stretching. Sometimes you just can't reach your own foot or other hand and these bands provide a simple and effective solution.

While I don't have any basis for comparison I feel confident in recommending these to those seeking a great set of bands at different resistance levels. I tend to stick with the medium most days and if I'm feeling like I really want to challenge myself I will go with the heavy. Maybe some day I will advance to the x-heavy but it's pretty hard core. If you've never added resistance bands to your fitness routine I think this set from Phantom Fit is an excellent place to get started.



Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for this honest review.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Better Made At Home by Esterelle Payany

Better Made At Home: Salty, Sweet, and Satisfying Snacks and Pantry Staples You Can Make Yourself by Esterelle Payany

Cookbook
Ebook/Print (144 pages, BLACK DOG & LEVENTHAL)
Instead of buying mass-produced, often unhealthy food products, why not make your own? From crisp sesame crackers to Greek yogurt to tapenade, let the more than 80 simple and delicious recipes in Better Made at Home stock your pantry with staples that are better tasting and better for you.
In Better Made at Home, French cookbook author Estérelle Payany shows us how to make delicious food we can feel good about eating. She takes more than 80 packaged foods normally found in delis or gourmet food shops?from chips to chocolate pudding?and replaces them with recipes for healthier, better-tasting alternatives that can be made quickly and easily right in our own kitchens. For breakfast, make your own muesli or crostinis with homemade strawberry jam. For lunch, try your hand at grinding meat for hotdogs topped with homemade ketchup or batter up some homemade, crispy fish nuggets for dinner. Recipes for treats include candies (lollipops, marshmallows, and caramels), snacks (barbecue popcorn, tortilla chips, and pretzel sticks), and desserts (buttery shortbread and chocolate sandwich cookies).
Beautiful photography combined with vintage illustrations make for a book that is both timely and timeless.


Terrific for DIY lovers! (5 stars)

My friends and family think I love to cook but the truth is... I love to eat! And if you're not going to go broke enjoying eating there are things you learn to cook. But whipping up the basics had never really seemed like a thing you could do until I stumbled on this book on NetGalley last year. Translated and adapted from the French version I found it exceptionally accessible and friendly.

While I had originally sampled it as an advanced readers copy I wound up buying it because I liked it so much that I wanted to have a permanent copy. I've admittedly not actually used any of the recipes yet but I've been hoping to start making all of my own mayonnaise, ketchup, and the chocolate milk powder from the book. If you've ever considered purchasing a cookbook to teach you the basics I would definitely put this at the top of the list. From marshmallows and crackers to hamburger buns and fries you're going to have an arsenal of basics you'll never have to buy again... and you'll always know what goes into them!



Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley but also purchased a copy.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: Gotham Academy Vol. 1

Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy (The New 52)
by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, & Karl Kerschel

Graphic Novel, Teen, Mystery
Ebook/Print (160 pages, DC COMICS)
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits…
Okay, so Gotham Academy isn’t like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn’t like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she’s back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude… and an unexplained fear of bats.
Olive’s supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is kid sister of Kyle, Olive’s ex. Then there’s the ghost haunting the campus…the secret society conducting bizarre rituals…and Bruce Wayne, the weirdo billionaire who funds the Academy - and may know the secret to Olive’s big mystery.
Find out in GOTHAM ACADEMY VOL. 1, the acclaimed new series from co-writers Becky Cloonan (DEMO) and Brendan Fletcher (BATGIRL) and artist Karl Kerschl (TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE)! Collects GOTHAM ACADEMY #1-6.


Nice option for the middle-school reader. (5 stars)

I'm notably new to the DC universe. I've just always been a Marvel girl but I'm trying to expand my reading this year and I'd heard good stuff about Gotham Academy. I'm so glad I did because I love a good boarding school story and this one is really good.

Since I was previously unfamiliar with the characters I definitely felt like I was missing something but that added to the mystery that Olive and Maps are trying to solve. I was pretty amused with what they discovered and am very eager to see where the story heads in the next volume. In particular I loved the illustration style, it suited the story so very well I felt it was important to mention.

If you liked the new Batgirl or have enjoyed the Vampire Academy graphic novelization or loved Runaways—all three of which I loved—I would highly recommend picking this up!



Notes: ARC received via Edelweiss.

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