Author Archives: mumjd

Chicken Fajitas with Spice pods plus giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

It has been a little while since I shared a recipe post, as I rather lost my blogging mojo lately following my mum’s death. But now that I am confined to my home apart from when I am volunteering to help the vulnerable or a quick essentials shopping trip or a daily run / walk, it seems time to take up the blogging mantle again.

I think I got my love of cooking from my mum, although it had been a while since she had been able to cook due to increasing frailty herself. As a small child, I can remember kneeling up on a stool at the kitchen table beside her and learning to make the likes of jam tarts and gingerbread men. My mum would encourage me to enter the children’s cookery section at the local WI show. And when I unwisely chose broccoli and melon as ingredients for my cookery practical exam, it was my mum who searched to locate them for me. Those were the days before such items became commonplace on the supermarket shelves all year round. And now for a different reason, they may again have disappeared from the shelves.

I’m certainly feeling rather sad about all the panic buying we are seeing currently, as I’m sure it is leading to increased food waste, particularly with regards to fresh food. So it may still be a little while before I feel ready to post again on my series of “Reducing Waste” topics.

The Spice Pioneer

However after turning down a few product review requests whilst grieving, I agreed to do a review for The Spice Pioneer, who caught my attention due to their fabulous tree planting initiative. They kindly sent me a set of their five flavours of spice power pods to try for free. The flavours, which can also all be purchased individually are as follows…..

Fajita
Chicken Lollipops
Chilli Con Carne
Katsu Curry
Peri-Peri Chicken

Spice Power Pods


So I decided to try out the Fajita Power Pod first and cook a tasty Tex-Mex dish of Chicken Fajitas, along with all the traditional accompaniments. The power pod box includes this recipe on the back. However I did adapt it slightly to include an additional vegetable, namely courgette, as due to empty shelves, I couldn’t get three colours of peppers.

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients (serves 4)

Fajita seasoning
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 onion
3 mixed bell peppers
4 skinless chicken breasts

Method

Peel and slice onion.
Peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Slice pepper, (saving seeds to sprinkle in a salad).
Slice chicken into 1cm strips.
In a large bowl, mix the fajita seasoning, garlic, oil, onion and peppers.
Add the chicken, mix to coat evenly and marinade for 10 minutes.
Stir- fry in a large frying pan on medium to high heat for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Add more oil while cooking if needed.
Enjoy in heated tortilla wraps with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.

chicken fajitas

I made a batch of tortilla wraps and you can see my guacamole recipe below. But I did cheat with the salsa and used a shop-bought jar. However part of the joy of power pods is the simplicity with the spices being perfectly portioned, so I didn’t feel at all guilty for cheating. In fact, I wished that I had cheated with guacamole too, as my avocado was rather under-ripe for the recipe. The power pod spice mixes aim to make cooking an easy, stress-free and enjoyable experience.


Chicken Fajitas

Guacamole

Ingredients

1 avocado
Juice of half a lime
1 small clove of garlic
Half a spring onion

Method

Cut avocado in half and remove stone.
Scoop out avocado flesh, with a fork, roughly mashing it.
Squeeze the juice from half a lime.
Peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Mix together avocado, lime juice and garlic.
If the avocado isn’t that ripe, blend the mixture in a blender.
Serve and enjoy.

guacamole

I was pleased to see that the power pods are 100% natural ingredients. They are free from oil, preservatives, additives and refined sugar and are also gluten free. The products were all long-dated, best before December 2021 and they have been handmade in the UK. The boxes indicate that you can make your meal for 4 people in just 30 minutes. And they also show how mild or spicy each mix is.

The outer box was nicely sized to fit through a letterbox, so no missing a parcel if your delivery arrives when you are out. And look how well packed it is, certainly no excess packaging.

Spice Power Pods

It is a nice touch to have a recipe suggestion on each packet, plus there are plenty more recipe ideas on The Spice Pioneer website. The power pods can be purchased individually or as a subscription. All are reasonably priced.

Do take a look at The Spice Pioneer website to see the rest of their products. They also sell a range of recipe boxes and gin infusion kits. Great gifts for foodies. Every purchase contributes to their tree planting in the Scottish Highlands, which definitely gets my seal of approval.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a starter set of spice power pods like I received from The Spice Pioneer to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to cook some great easy meals with these.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using any of these products. I’m going to make chicken lollipops next, so check back soon to see that recipe.

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To Want A Rogue by Tammy Andresen – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book To Want A Rogue by Tammy Andresen to review.

To Want A Rogue by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Dahlia had never been more frightened in her life. Sprinting through the rain, she comes upon the only oasis in the storm, a dark castle with stone wolves at that gate. She doesn’t want to enter but she doesn’t have much choice. With her brother trapped in their carriage, she needs help. But the man she finds inside the castle… it’s not clear if he’s her angel or a devil.

Lord Gavin deWolfe knows his old castle is off-putting, in fact, he prefers it that way. After the loss of his wife, he wishes to shut out the world. That is until a wet and pathetic girl lands in a puddle on his floor. He’ll help her and then send her on her way. The problem, her brother’s too injured to travel and she is no girl after all.

The story starts with Miss Dahlia Smith running through the thunder-storm to find help. A tree has fallen on their carriage, her brother Sam is trapped and the driver is unconscious. As lighting flashes, she sees a large imposing house up a hill ahead. She reaches the gates, where two huge stone wolves tower above her. Thinking of Sam, she tries to feel more confident, as she races up the steep drive and knocks on the unwelcoming door to ask for help.

Lord Gavin deWolfe leaves Dahlia by the fire whilst he and his men take the wagon to rescue Sam, bad memories swirling about a similar carriage accident two years ago, when his wife Amelia seemed okay but died two days later. They get Sam back to the castle but his leg is badly injured. Will he avoid infection and survive? The doctor is summoned.

Dahlia is anxious about her brother. With their parents dead, they only have each other and had been on their way to Sam’s new job.

Meanwhile Gavin is not convinced about having Dahlia in the house unchaperoned and tries to send her on her way alone. And how does Dahlia react to this?

I was surprised however when I got to the end of the story and discovered that it was the final instalment in the Chronicles of a Bluestocking series. I have previously read all of those and had thought the series to be complete. It did have one tenuous link, in that Gavin is the cousin of Lord Wesley Preston, hero of Too Wicked To Woo.

To Want A Rogue is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.28 in Kindle format. This is another nice light short romantic story from Tammy.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

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Dear Future Self by Lisa Becker – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have previously enjoyed several books by Lisa Becker, so I was looking forward to reading her latest book Dear Future Self. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Dear Future Self by Lisa Becker

Here is the book blurb.

People think they know Jase Connors. Former front man for Kings Quarters. Successful solo artist. Consummate playboy. What they don’t know is he’s tired from road life. Tired of road life. Just plain tired.

When a beloved high school teacher passes away, Jase returns to his Midwestern childhood home to honor the teacher’s final wishes. Sparks fly when he’s reunited with his childhood best friend, Cami, and is forced to confront choices that made him the man he is today.

Dear Future Self is a 23,000-word novella spin-off of award-winning Starfish: A Rock Star Romance. It can be read as a stand-alone and guarantees a happily ever after.

This short novella is a spin-off from Lisa’s previous book Starfish, which I loved. It works fine as a stand-alone read and although much shorter, is still a great read.

Jase, formerly with rock band Kings Quarters, is now a solo singer, currently on tour. The story starts with Jase’s mom calling him with the sad news that Mr Hancock, his high school English teacher has died, but has left him something in his will. Jase, or Jason as he was known back home, really respected Mr Hancock and gets his assistant Delilah to cancel the rest of the tour, so he can return to his childhood home town Clancy. His manager Damon is not pleased.

At the attorney’s, he bumps into Cami, his best friend from childhood, whom has hasn’t spoken to in more than a decade. They used to sing together in the church choir and Cami is now music teacher at the school. The attorney advises that Mr Hancock has left $650k for the school music department, contingent upon Jason and Cami working together to personally arrange his memorial service and a tribute school assembly, plus mailing all the student “Dear Future Self” letters. These were letters that they all wrote in 10th grade about their future dreams, which Mr Hancock mailed to them 20 years later.

So will Jason and Cami fulfil Mr Hancock’s request? If not, the will states that the money will be a prize at a video game tournament, something that Mr Hancock hated. How will things progress? And what about all those hundreds of letters?

Dear Future Self is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. A warm fuzzy feeling romantic comedy.

And you may like to see my reviews of other titles by Lisa that I also loved.
Links
Clutch
Starfish


About the author

Lisa Becker is a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money – on books and margaritas. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone! You can share your love stories with her at www.lisawbecker.com.


And you can find Lisa Becker on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree by David Ahern – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have previously loved reading the Madam Tulip mysteries, so I was very pleased to receive a free e-copy of the fourth book in the series “Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree” by David Ahern to review.

Madam Tulip and The Serpent's Tree by David Ahern

Here is the book blurb.

Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage. But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.

When the shaman mysteriously disappears, suspicion threatens to tear the band apart. Was she victim or poisoner? Guilty or innocent? Dead or alive?

Two brilliant and beautiful musicians; an ambitious band manager with a shady past; a sax player entranced by Vikings–each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree is fourth in the Madam Tulip mystery series, in which Derry O’Donnell, her sidekick Bruce and best friend Bella, play the most exciting and perilous roles of their acting lives.

The story begins with Derry, an actress trying to scrape a living in Dublin, accompanying her best friend Bella to meet Pat Kelly, bar and club owner and manager of famous pop band Maramar. Bella sells them to Kelly as a theatre company who could perform at his venue. So they along with friend Bruce start to plan their first production, when Bella lets on that Kelly also wants Derry as Madam Tulip, her fortune-telling persona at a birthday party for Aileen, Maramar’s lead singer. Derry doesn’t want to do it, but Bella says that without Madam Tulip, the theatre deal is off, so Derry reluctantly agrees.

They head to an estate in the Dublin mountains for the party, where Derry as Madam Tulip begins her evening’s work by telling fortune for band member Mia who is taken ill during the reading. Has Mia been poisoned?

Readings follow for Nils, the saxophone player who particularly criticises Kira, Aileen’s shaman. Then for Aileen who is worried because Kira has disappeared.

Meanwhile, Derry’s artist dad, Jacko is writing a biography. Her mother Vanessa says it will ruin Jacko’s career and begs Derry to stop him.

The main mystery appears to be regarding Kira. Why has she disappeared? Is there something sinister? And as Derry starts to unravel it, is she in danger herself?

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree is newly published on Amazon, currently priced at £3.10 in kindle format. Another great mystery which I thoroughly recommend. And I love how humour is wound into the story too. I certainly hope there will be a book 5.

Here are the links to my reviews of the previous Madam Tulip titles.
Madam Tulip
Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts
Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance


About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland. He become a research psychologist in Scotland and the Netherlands, before inevitably his genes kicked in and he absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

After stints playing in great bands, all doomed to obscurity, and writing equally obscure plays, he took to novel-writing. He now creates the Madam Tulip mysteries, in part as a tribute to the way actors never give up dreaming, but mostly to make himself laugh and scratch his head. David Ahern loves pretending this is actual work.

David lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, a cat, a tame pheasant, a clan of badgers and a vegetable garden.

You can learn more about David Ahern and the Madam Tulip mysteries from his website www.davidahern.info

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: www.twitter.com/daveahernwriter
and Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/davidahern

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A Gladiator’s Love by Lance Morcan – book review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book A Gladiator’s Love by Lance Morcan to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

A Gladiator's Love by Lance Morcan

Here is the book blurb.

In this action-romance short story, dashing Greek gladiator Leonidas promises his true love he’ll buy her freedom if he wins his own in the Colosseum of Ancient Rome. First he must defeat an opponent he knows he cannot kill.

The year is 83AD and it’s nine years since Roman soldiers killed a young Leonidas’s family in their farmhouse outside Athens and consigned him to the life of a gladiator at Ludus Magnus, one of the biggest and best ludi gladiatori, or gladiator schools, in Rome. Since then, he remains undefeated after twenty-five fights and has risen to the top of the gladiator rankings.

The Greek gladiator craves freedom. The one good thing in his life is Fatuma, an Ethiopian beauty who is a gladiatrix, or female gladiator, and who has stolen his heart. They share fleeting but precious hours together after dark in Leonidas’s cell – a concession occasionally granted to the gladiators by their Roman masters.

The outcome of Leonidas’s next fight will decide both their futures for he’ll be fighting Gaius, another undefeated gladiator who held the Greek to a bloody draw when they met in the arena previously. At stake will be the rudis, the small wooden sword given to gladiators who are granted their freedom.

This is a short story of just 43 pages, so I read it very quickly.

The story begins with a flashback nightmare to when Greek Leonidas was enslaved and the rest of his family killed 9 years previously. He was kept alive to be sold as a gladiator and he has been climbing the rankings ever since due to his great fighting skill. In 2 months time, he will be pitted in a fight to the death against Gaius, where the winner will be granted freedom, so long as he wins tomorrow’s fight against Philo.

Meanwhile as tradition dictates on the night before a fight, he has been allowed to sleep with someone. Of course, as always, he has chosen Ethiopian Fatuma, a female gladiatrix, whom he is in love with. If he wins his freedom, he plans to earn lots of money, to buy Fatuma’s freedom too.

But how will it all play out? As the story unfolded I did guess one of the twists, but not the ending.

This is the second short story of Lance’s that I have read, the first being The Last Tasmanian Tiger and in my opinion they would both be better suited to being part of an anthology rather than a book on its own. Still a good read though.

A Gladiator’s Love is available on Amazon, currently priced at £1.99 in Kindle format. An enjoyable short story. Lance is a very versatile author as this is quite a different genre to the brilliant Silent Fear full-length novel that I absolutely loved, which Lance wrote with his son James, plus they write non-fiction and novellas too.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a kindle copy of A Gladiator’s Love to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.
Plus you don’t even need to own a kindle to read this, as you can download the kindle app free to your phone or tablet.comper friendly badge

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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The Last Tasmanian Tiger by Lance Morcan – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Last Tasmanian Tiger by Lance Morcan to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Last Tasmanian Tiger by Lance Morcan

Here is the book blurb.

Charlie Truganini can’t believe his eyes when on a trip into Tasmania’s wilderness he sees a Tasmanian tiger – a carnivorous marsupial considered by most Australians to be extinct.

Charlie has a number of claims to fame – one of those being he’s a direct descendant of one Truganini, the woman considered to be the last full-blooded Aboriginal Tasmanian and whose name he inherited. A close second to that is he’s the great-grandson of one Dingo Truganini, the tracker who helped capture the last known Thylacine cynocephalus – an animal better known as the Tasmanian tiger.

It’s his admiration for his great-grandfather’s exploits that explains why Charlie has devoted his life to searching for the Tassie tiger, as he refers to it, or the thylacine, as scientific types insist on calling it, to determine one way or the other whether it still exists. He has always suspected it does despite having never sighted it nor even stumbled across its spoor in all his travels.

When Charlie sees a Tasmanian tiger with his own eyes, he realises he doesn’t want his tiger meeting the same fate as the last one. And so he makes a decision. A decision that will have life-and-death consequences.

This is a short story of just 36 pages, so I read it very quickly.

Charlie Truganini, aged 48, a Tasmanian Aborigine tracker is trekking through the bush on behalf of the Southwest Wilderness Native Animal Protection Society (SWNAPS) to check and resite their cameras. It is a role he loves, as he hopes one day to discover a Tasmanian Tiger, an animal believed to be extinct for many decades.

But today is different. He actually discovers and photographs a Tasmanian Tiger. Now what should he do? Tell everyone or keep quiet? Zoos, scientists, conservationists, hunters, media? Does he make the right decision?

I enjoyed this story. It brought back memories of when I did a project on marsupials in junior school and made me think about the ongoing situation with the koalas and bush fires. But for such a short story, it did feel as if it should be part of an anthology rather than a book on its own. Although under current circumstances, one short story was probably all my attention span could cope with, so it was the ideal read for me just now.

The Last Tasmanian Tiger is available on Amazon, currently priced at £1.99 in Kindle format. An enjoyable short story. Lance is a very versatile author as this is quite a different genre to the brilliant Silent Fear novel that I absolutely loved, which Lance wrote with his son James, plus they write non-fiction and novellas too.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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Ditch the Tube with Reco Ecofriendly Toothtabs

Disclosure.  This post is a review of  a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Time to talk about another eco product. I’ve received a packet of 62 toothtabs from Reco, free to review, enough for a whole month. Their mantra is #SingleUseSucks, Ditch the Tube, Zero Paste, Zero Waste which sounds fab to me.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and sustainability and may have seen, via my series of posts about my own personal journey towards zero waste, that I have been trying to avoid toothpaste tubes. These are notoriously hard to recycle, being mixed materials made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, so most tend to end up in the rubbish bin. Terracycle have introduced a recycling scheme but there is no collection point locally.

I have tried a few types of plastic-free toothpaste now, so was very interested to see how these would compare. Reco toothtabs are toothpaste tablets which contain fluoride. My dentist has stressed that fluoride is essential, so this is a definite plus point for me, since some brands of plastic-free toothpaste that I have tried don’t have fluoride. At my age, I’m sure my enamel is wearing thinner, so thumbs up for the fluoride to help with my dentall health and oral hygiene.

So let me tell you how to use the toothtabs. Pop one tablet into your mouth. Chew it to form a paste. Wet your toothbrush under the tap and then brush your teeth as normal. Simple.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

I was pleased with the minty taste, as some others that I’ve tried haven’t been too great in the taste department. This is definitely my joint favourite along with one that I have purchased from my local zero waste store. However I must mention that the packet indicates they are not recommended for children.

Reco state that their toothtabs are free of artificial preservatives and stabilisers normally found in toothpaste. See their website, for full details on each ingredient. They are also vegan and cruelty free.

Also I am pleased to report that the packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and home compostable. The toothtabs come in small paper bags, with a label that Reco say has been printed on 100% recycled waste paper. And Reco also say that the mailing envelopes are made purely from sustainably sourced paper.

I’ve cut out flying myself, but these toothtabs are ideal for your hand luggage when going through airport security. Dry, so no need to be separated into a see-through plastic bag and you only have to pack the number you need for your trip.

I’ve popped mine in a handy tin that I already had, but if you subscribe to their regular 3 month delivery service, they will throw in a storage tin for free, plus you get a 5% discount. The delivery will easily fit through your letterbox, and you can can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers of a 31 day trial pack of toothtabs for £3 (including free delivery) so that you can try them out for yourselves. Just visit this page for a toothtab trial pack.

And I’ve been browsing around the Reco website and have seen that they sell other brands that I already buy. There is Kitenest who I helped crowdfund and Pokito who I bought a collapsible cup for my son to keep in his school blazer pocket. And there is rCup, which we used to have until my other half accidentally left it behind after a race. I’ve got my eye on some of their other products too like the soaps, natural deodorant and vegetable loofah scrubber.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too where you can even discover 37 Hacks for an Old Used Toothbrush.

So join Reco and me in the mission to help our society switch from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one!

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Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Past Deeds by bestselling author Carolyn Arnold to review. I’ve now read a number of Carolyn’s books, so I was very much looking forward to reading this one, particularly as it stars FBI Agent Brandon Fisher just like the first of her books I read. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

The sun was just coming up, and the sniper’s hands were sweaty as she looked through the rifle’s scope to the streets eight stories below and point eight miles away. In mere minutes, the target would be dead.

A prosecuting attorney is murdered in a sniping that takes place in Arlington, Virginia, less than fifteen minutes from Washington. FBI Agent Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit are called in to investigate the threat level and to determine if the lawyer was targeted. The FBI hadn’t anticipated previous victims stretching from coast to coast.

The team splits up across the country, but more than jet lag is getting to Brandon. As their profile on the shooter takes shape, their one theory on motive strikes too close to home and has him battling with regret over a past decision. He comes to discover some choices not only haunt us but can have long- and far-reaching repercussions we couldn’t even begin to imagine. Will Brandon be able to set aside his personal issues for long enough to stop a serial killing spree before there’s another victim?

Past Deeds is a gripping psychological crime thriller that will have you flipping the pages as you try to put the clues together faster than the FBI. To stand a chance, you’ll need to unravel the psyche of a killer. This mystery will also make you think and reflect—and you just might wonder if any past decisions you’ve made are stalking you, ready to strike.

Become addicted to an international bestselling series that will take you into the minds of the most heinous and disturbing serial killers the world could ever imagine.

This is book 8 in the series featuring FBI agent Brandon Fisher, but works fine as a stand alone read. The dynamics of the team have changed as Zach left at the end of book 7, replaced by Kelly. And now Jack is mentoring Kelly, so Brandon has been reassigned to partner with Paige. This is somewhat awkward as they have history. However I haven’t read whichever book they had a relationship in, and didn’t find this detracted from the overall read.

The story starts in Arlington, Virginia with a skilled sniper killing her target, a lawyer, Darrell Reid across town from 8 miles away. What an opening to lure you in. I can’t even begin to imagine a shooting like that. Chapter 2 moves forward just over an hour to the start of the FBI investigation, as we follow the ideas of different team members in turn, with intermittent chapters focussing on the sniper, so the reader always knows a bit more than the FBI, although of course not the whole picture.

About a quarter of the way into the book, the investigation widens across the country once similarities are matched to earlier victims. We have a serial killer, across a chain of different towns. Will they find the killer before there is a other victim? How come the earlier killings weren’t linked up before?

This book had me on the edge of my seat, turning the pages, as they follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

But one small point. I did grumble about this in book 7, but the author is still using acronyms like BAU – Behavioural Analysis Unit. But maybe these are more widely known in the US than over here.

Past Deeds published today, is available on Amazon, currently priced at £13.99 in paperback or £5.55 in Kindle format. Once again, Carolyn keeps us on the edge of our seat with this gripping story. A real page turner.

Here are the links to my reviews of other books by Carolyn Arnold.
Remnants
Power Struggle
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
On the Count of Three
Shades of Justice
Exercise is Murder

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Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves by Samuel W Reed

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves edited by Samuel W Reed to review. You may find out more about Samuel on his website.

Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves by Samuel W Reed

Here is the book blurb.

Take a tour through the minds of thirteen of today’s most talented independent authors in a crime anthology like no other. Miscreants, Murderers, and Thieves hosts a cross-section of indie writers from all across America in a unique compilation of diverse stories set to take you on a journey beyond your wildest imagination. From aging detectives trapped in a magic house of hell, to a doctor with a fascination for the macabre, to New Century City, where superheroes and super villains battle it out for supremacy, this is a genre-bending short story collection guaranteed to thrill you in ways you never thought possible.

This is a book of 13 short stories all by different independent authors, including one written by Samuel W Reed, the editor who has put together this collection. The common theme linking all the stories is devious behaviour, although not necessarily criminal in all cases.

Biographies and links have been included for each author at the end of their story so that the reader can easily look up their other work if they so desire.

I have to say that not all of them were to my taste, but that can often be the case with an anthology. But there certainly should be plenty to suit most readers. Luckily the first story “The Temperature at which Love Freezes” hit the spot for me, so that got me hooked ready to read the rest. And even with those that I was not so keen on, as they were short, I did read them in their entirety.

Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves is newly published today and is available to download in Kindle format for FREE for a limited time only on Amazon and is also available in paperback. An interesting collection of short stories. Also I understand that this is the first book in a longer series.


About the author / editor

Samuel W Reed is a screenwriter, film director, producer, and novelist, best known for his work on the decade-long production of the groundbreaking disability-rights documentary CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion (Jamie Foxx, Marlee Matlin, Ben Affleck). He also wrote narration for the SXSW Audience Award winning film Take Me To The River (Terrance Howard, Snoop Dogg) and has ghostwritten projects distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment. His first novel, The Fabulist, was released in 2017, and the follow-up, Foolhardy, is slated for late-summer 2020.

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Plastic Free Communities – reducing single-use plastic in your local community

Plastic Free Communities - Surfers Against Sewage
My town has signed up to the Plastic Free Communities initiative run by Surfers Against Sewage, aimed at reducing single-use plastic in our local community. This is something that I am very passionate about, so I offered to join the committee. And I thought I’d use this post to brainstorm some ideas to suggest.

Plastic free gardening
Our group has already identified that we could speak to garden centres and nurseries regarding recycling flower pots, sale of non-plastic insulation and bulk soil and compost. I’ve just discovered only this week that we have a Gardener’s Association locally, so I haven’t been to see if they already do any of these, but I certainly plan to join. Also we could make a list of local stables / farms offering plastic-free manure.

Ecobricks
Ecobricks
For those of you who haven’t heard of ecobricks, they are plastic bottles that you fill with small pieces of clean dry plastic in order to make a building block. I have made a few myself, but although there are plenty of community projects collecting them across the country, we have nothing locally. I have a local school in mind who may be interested, although I do know that they won’t wish to promote needless purchases of plastic bottles.

School stationery
It is great that the library take old pens, but the product that I am accumulating which I don’t know what to do with, is old Pritt-sticks. My children are asked to take these to school and they go through a tube so quickly, sticking worksheets etc into their books. Surely there must be a more eco-friendly solution. And don’t get me onto the topic of sticky-back plastic. Some teachers, but luckily not so many, still ask the children to cover their exercise books with this. How about wrapping paper instead?

Packshare
Most of us end up with packaging that we don’t need. I’m using pieces of bubble wrap to insulate my greenhouse and I have given some of the large paper bags that milk&more deliver, to a local shop to use as bin liners. But I came across a scheme called Packshare which originated in Cornwall, whose aim is for you to find local businesses who can reuse your packaging. They are hoping to get a good presence nationwide, but when I keyed in my postcode, the nearest businesses are about 20 miles away. It would be great to promote this to local businesses. Hopefully it can take off to the same extent as the water bottle refill scheme.

Pallet packaging
One day when I had popped into our local supermarket, I observed one of the staff wrapping an empty pallet trolley with a huge roll of plastic like clingfilm, going round and round with layers of single-use plastic. Why? And talking of supermarkets, some have collection points for plastic bags. Perhaps we could ask ours to consider doing this or even organise a mass unwrap event.

Reusable bags
Bags
Not everybody unfortunately, but it is now much more widespread that people will bring their own shopping bags. However not many also carry their own produce bags and boxes. Some of the local shops are more on board than others at reducing plastic, but I have a few ideas in this area. Sewing or crochet skills could be taught to disabled with learning difficulties to make cloth, net and mesh produce and shopping bags, which can be sold through their own shop and other local shops. Of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to bags, they could also learn to make things to replace other single-use products like scrubbies and pads.
Notices to be displayed in local shops saying that you are welcome to bring your own boxes. And where they do wrap in paper like at the butchers, I scratch my head sometimes as to whether it is purely paper or a plastic backed paper. How should I dispose of it? With food waste? Or can it be washed and then go in recycling or torn up for home composting? Again notices would help.

Ice Cream
I find that large plastic ice cream boxes are ideal for reuse. We are lucky to have a local dairy farm who make their own ice cream, which is sold locally in either individual or 500ml sizes, but apart from the plastic lids, they appear to be mixed material. However they do also make a 2l size in a plastic box, which they used to call family size on their website. When I contacted them last year, they said this was usually only sold to pubs but I did arrange an appointment to buy some directly from the dairy. Also someone mentioned at our last meeting, that the plastic lids can be returned to the dairy for reuse, but I can see no mention of this on their website. So definitely some scope for follow-ups here.

Hairdressers
The hairdresser is traditionally not very sustainable. This is not just on the plastic front, but energy and water usage too. However some hairdressers are starting to address sustainability better. Perhaps we could promote this, starting by suggesting refill hair products for both the salon and to sell to customers.

Plastic free butter
Deli
Sadly it is many years ago since the local deli closed down, but I have discovered plastic-free butter elsewhere. Perhaps one of our local shops, maybe the butcher who sells a small selection of cheese, could be persuaded to stock this.

Balloons and Balloon Sticks
At the local Christmas shopping evening I saw kids with the estate agent branded balloons on balloon sticks, one of which blew away but luckily the dad caught it. Balloons can be lethal to wildlife. So we may wish to suggest that the estate agent reconsider their promotional material.

Toothpaste
I have made the swap to toothpaste and mouthwash tablets and bamboo toothbrushes, as I am sure we have all heard that every toothbrush we have used will be around, long after we die. However TerraCycle do have a recycling scheme for toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, but none locally. I have tried to ask my dentist to enrol (in a nearby town) and she did promise to raise it with their head-office. But worth pursuing with other more local dental practices too. We do have a few of the other TerraCycle schemes locally, but this could be broadened further to encompass items like cleaning product packaging, biscuit and sweet wrappers

As always I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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