East Side Hustler (Alex Cohen #2) – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

East Side Hustler (Alex Cohen #2) by Leopold Borstinski

Monday 23rd to Sunday 5th April

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I was lucky to be selected to participate in a Damppebbles Blog Tour this week.

I’d not been feeling well, and this was the perfect book to help me ignore the current state of the world while I rested in bed.


Book Blurb:

Alex lived through the war, but will he survive the peace?

Jewish gang member, Alex comes back from the Great War almost destroyed by the horrors he has seen. When he is plucked from certain death by an old friend, he commits to making so much money he’ll never know that agony again.

But the route to the top is fraught with danger and every time he helps one of his powerful friends like Al Capone, he acquires more enemies who want to see him dead. When organised crime financier, Arnold Rothstein dies, the turmoil caused by his loss sets in train a chain of events which means Alex must once more fight for his life. How far would you go to attain your American dream?

The second book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which tears through the Prohibition years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir pierces the heart of every reader like a bullet from Alex’s sniper rifle.


So, this is the second book in the Alex Cohen Series, and while you don’t absolutely need to read The Bowery Slugger, it really does help. East Side Hustler picks up with Alex having returned to NYC from the horrors of WW1 trench warfare. I have to give Mr. Borstinski credit, his portrayal of Alex’s PTSD is amazing.

Like Bowery Slugger, East Side Hustler follows Alex through a decade of his life on the streets as a member of the Jewish-American Organized Crime Syndicate. Alex has to rebuild his relationships with his family, his lover, and his gang associates to become a success.

East Side Hustler is very much a different style of book from my usual crime fiction, while the author refers to is as Noir, I find it to be more Narrative Historical Fiction with a criminal background. Alex Cohen is NOT a good person, and only rarely a nice one. But as you read through his struggles and triumphs in the seedy underbelly of Prohibition Era New York, I can’t help but empathize. Alex is a gangster when we were only just defining what made one a gangster and his decisions and motives are defined within that context.

I think my favorite part of reading this series is spotting the real life historical figures. Most people wouldn’t get the references until they smack you upside the head, but because I’m a history nerd with a love of true crime; I actually know who these mooks were! To paraphrase, “So Benny Seigel wants me to go to the Windy City to meet Alfonse.” I had to explain to my spouse why this made me shout. “Bugsy Seigel wants me to meet Al Capone!” While Alex Cohen isn’t an actual person, that I could discover, there are a few people who he seems to be based off of and if my theory is correct, I can’t wait to read the next book!

Rating: 4/5

  • Title: East Side Hustler (Alex Cohen #2)
  • Author: Leopold Borstinski
  • Publisher: Sobriety Press
  • Released: March 21, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 238 pages
About the Author:

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.


Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski @borstinski

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeoBorstinski/

Website: https://www.leopoldborstinski.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/borstinski/


Where to buy: East Side Hustler is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $4.99 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $14.99 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here  or Amazon US: Here

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, Leopold Borstinski and Sobriety Press for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

The Money Book – Coloring to Attract Wealth

Some folks believe that by focusing their energy/minds on a subject, they can bring about the result they want. While I believe in the basic gist of Karma and such, I was skeptical that by coloring a page of wealth images, I could attract wealth to me. But I’m always up to try something new, and The Belba Family makes great coloring books, so I decided to give it a shot.

I was sent The Money Book Color-by-Number in December. before they changed the cover art from the piggy bank to the Maneki-neko. Both covers are super cute!


I have to admit that I love the images in this book. There are symbols and images of wealth from all over the world and each page has the color key. This book features single-sided sheets that are black on the back to prevent bleed through if you’re like me and enjoy using pens or markers.

Colored with Crayola® Twistables

This book has tons of fun images, and while I have only taken photos of a few,  I can promise  that there is something for everyone! My sister demanded to color the Maneki-neko.


Colored with Prismacolor pencils.

I’ve been fighting illness all winter, both my own and my mom’s.  Coloring has kept me sane. Even when I’m stuck in bed, I can still color. Mind you, if they think I should rest, my cats aren’t shy!


Hurricane Enlil sits on my page to tell me to take a break!

The final two pictures are my personal favorites. I love anything to do with fish and aquariums, and Celtic knots and trees are a common theme in my non-blogging coloring.

The fish tank finally completed! Colored with Staedtler felt-tip markers.
Colored with Staedtler felt-tip markers.

Currently, I cannot say whether or not coloring in The Money Book has brought me wealth. However, I can say it has brought me entertainment and peace during a difficult time, and that is a wealth of its own.

Notes: I love the accessibility of this book. The price is affordable, and the color key is filled with colors that can be found with ease no matter what your favorite media; crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, markers or watercolors.

Disability Notes: I found the coloring book has designs large enough to accommodate nearly any coloring age group. Some designs are more complex than others, but all are delightful!

Where to buy: The Money Book is available at Amazon. The book’s MSRP is $8.99 USD. There is also a non-color-by-number version of the book available here.

Belba Family: Website / FaceBook / Instagram

Disclosure: I received this coloring book for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©2019 Belba Family. The coloring is mine. All links are direct; I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

St. Patrick’s Day is Pan’s Birthday!!

Attention PuzzlePaws Fans! We interrupt the usual blogging of reviews to bring you a special post!

Begging posture, ~2014

Our lovely mascot, Pandemonium has turned 15! She’s been with me through all sorts of adventures and I thought it a good idea to write up her story.

I have Mom’s Papasan and her platypus! 2015

I started rescue work when I was 14. We lived out in the country, and it was not uncommon for people to drop unwanted pets in the area. The summer I was 16, a scrawny, bedraggled looking tortoiseshell half-grown cat staggered down my driveway. She was dehydrated, dazed and had burnt the skin of her paw-pads on the hot asphalt, trying to find her way home. I ended up naming her Gilligan McGilicuddy after my mom’s old tortie and the fact that Gilly staggered for weeks with her feet wrapped as her burns healed. Gilly was Pandemonium’s grandmother.

Pan was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 2005. She was one in a litter of four, who were called Nick, Nack, Paddy, and Whack. (I apologize for my younger, dumber, racist self.) She is almost entirely black with a white spot on her neck, what is sometimes referred to as an Angel’s Kiss.

This is my pillow! 2013

My boyfriend at the time, immediately took a shine to Paddy. She was a complete Daddy’s girl. He renamed Paddy to Pandemonium, and spoiled her outrageously. When the relationship ended abruptly after 3 years, I’m not sure who was hurt more, me or Pan, who he left with me. Don’t tell me cats don’t mourn. Pan kept me sane, and I kept her alive.

I don’t like you, human!

For years, Pan was clingy to me, and distrustful of any men. I fostered and adopted other cats, and moved several times. Eventually, I moved to Virginia. When Spouse-Critter and I got married, Pan had a really hard time adjusting. We had a tiny apartment, and SC had a fur-son named Zane that had to adjust to living in a multi-cat household. There were cat territorial disputes, and worse, hisses and swats when SC and I cuddled. Pan did NOT want a new Dad!

Keep petting, I may like you later. 2018

It took time and moving to a larger house, but after 7 years, Pan will let SC cuddle her and will occasionally choose to sleep on him. But she is most definitely my girl. Or I’m HER human, to be honest.

Like most pet-owners, I’ve developed multiple nicknames for my pets. I’ve always held with T.S. Elliot’s Naming of Cats, and most of Pandemonium’s nicknames are variations of a theme. She is: Pan, Panu, All-the-Demons, Pan-demon, Panna-cotta, Pan-Noodle, Pan-pan, Panda, Newds, and Noodley-o.

Pan sleeping on my shoulder. 2018

When my disease started to get bad, Pan became my therapy cat. She’s mostly self-taught, but being a warm, cuddly, mobile purring companion doesn’t take much. Pan can tell when I’m having a flare or am overstimulated and makes a point of oozing up my body to cuddle on my lap or chest. I’m certain that there is a very special magic that cats have that allows them to go from weighing 7lbs to 30lbs or more.

Bad Flare day, 2015

As she’s aged, Pan has gained a few health issues. She nearly lost one of her nine lives by eating thread from a sewing project I had been working on. It got caught on her tongue and tangled in her stomach. I had a wonderful vet who worked with me to save her, but Pan has had a touchy tummy since. We have to keep her from all yarn and thread, and watch her carefully for eating and drinking too much, too fast.

Winter sweater, one of many.

You’ll often see Pan wearing outfits. She has developed an allergy to fleas (we medicate for fleas, but her brother goes on walks and sometimes brings some home), as well as over-grooming when stressed or anxious. I prefer to clothe her rather than subject her to the Cone. Besides, she looks damned cute!

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Pan is the last of her bloodline, my sister who had her half-brother lost him last fall. I’m incredibly lucky to have shared the last 15 years with Pan, and I know that every day is a gift.

Happy 15th Birthday, Pan!

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Blog Tour: Deadly Waters by OMJ Ryan

Deadly Waters (DCI Jane Phillips #2) by OMJ Ryan

Thursday 12th to Wednesday 18th March 2020

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I was lucky to be selected to participate in a Damppebbles Blog Tour this week. I adore crime novels, and British police procedurals are a guilty pleasure! When Emma of Damppebbles told me about Deadly Waters, I was all in!


2019-1396 OMJ Ryan b03

Book Blurb:

Several young women have recently drowned in Manchester’s vast network of canals. A coincidence? Or something more sinister?

When star detective DCI Jane Phillips begins to investigate, her finely tuned instinct tells her these are no accidents. And when she discovers that each of the drowned women has a mysterious circular bruise on the back of her neck, Phillips is sure of it — she’s up against a very clever serial killer.

But how are the victims being chosen? And who will be next?

With the body count rising, Phillips and her team find themselves in a fight to the death with a shadowy figure who always seems to be one step ahead.

Can Phillips stop the killer before the next victim dies? Or will she herself become an offering to Manchester’s deadly waters?

This is the second Detective Jane Philips book by Ryan,  and having not read the first novel, I was hesitant to dive headfirst (pun absolutely intended). Ryan does a wonderful job of filling in the necessary backstory of DCI Philips and her core team at the Major Crimes Unit.  Philips has a full caseload and her supervisor breathing down her neck, but her gut says that these weren’t cut-and-dried drownings. She has to use all her contacts and her wits to get to the bottom of a set of killings by a murderer with a rather convoluted reasoning.

A bit of a CW, if you will. This book involves a murderer who preys upon women in the sex trade and are also drug users/addicts. There are both unpleasant scenarios dealing with the realities of those who do sex work, and those who deal with addiction. I found that Ryan wrote these scenes believably; so that the reader feels both compassion and empathy.

This book is a roller-coaster! There are a few jarring chapters in the beginning that give shape to the events that molded the mindset of our killer. DCI Philips’ history in the police force as well as her relationships within her team are understandable and each character is written as to give the reader a sense of familiarity.  I feel that Deadly Waters was amazingly well written; there are no easy answers. and the first suspect (or second one!) may not be the actual culprit. And when all is said and done, the end of the case may not be a happy ending, but it is an ending.

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: Deadly Waters
  • Author: OMJ Ryan
  • Publisher: Inkubator Books
  • Released: March 15th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 281 pages
About the Author:
OMJ Ryan

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards.

In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last. DEADLY WATERS will be his third novel published with Inkubator Books.

Where to buy: Deadly Waters is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is free to free to read with Kindle Unlimited, or if you don’t have KU, $.99USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $10.99 USD. 
Amazon UK: Here  or Amazon US: Here


Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, OMJ Ryan and Inkubator Books for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

LEGO® My Valentine!

Last summer, when I got the word that Toys“R”Us was closing I ran to get the specialty holiday kits for myself and some family members.

I’ve been saving this kit for today! As you can see, my box is a little beat up from being stored in my Block-Kit crate.


This is LEGO® 40236 Romantic Valentine Picnic. It features 2 minifigures, 3 separate base stands with tons of romantic elements. I had a lot of fun putting this together and managed to do a timelapse video of the assembly.

No, I’m not wearing anything cute or romantic, I’m rocking the USMC Skivvy shirt because it’s comfy and my date-night clothes are not. SC and I are joining friends for a dinner for our Valentines.


The water fountain set is super cute and remarkably simple. I adore the curly ferns!


This is the trifecta of Valentine’s gifting. Flowers, food and the bubbly of your choice! Note to my underage or expecting readers, bubbly doesn’t have to be Champagne to be romantic! I love a good Italian soda, great taste, low price and no DUIs!


This tree rocks, I loved putting it and the bird together, even though my hands didn’t want to cooperate. The little birdhouse is a great detail, and the flowering branches remind me that Spring will be here soon!


I went a little nontraditional with the provided couple. Everyone, regardless of gender,or sexual orientation should feel free to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their partner of choice. I placed the short hair piece on the female because I have short hair, and the long haired ponytail on the male because SC has long hair. Regardless, they make a cute couple, don’t you think??


The picnic setup is really cute, although I’m not exactly sure how a pineapple is romantic?? The teddy bear, balloon and tray of cookie,pastry, cupcake and strawberry are all standard romantic treats/gifts. The minifigures are holding a chocolate bar and a valentine letter.


Altogether, this is an amazingly complex and over-the-top romantic picnic!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Disability Note: This was a great little kit. I struggled some with my hands, but it was not so difficult that I got frustrated.

Where to buy: Obviously, Toys“R”Us is gone, but I managed to find LEGO® Romantic Valentine Picnic on the Bricklink website for ~$9 USD. Click Here.

LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

Disclosure: I bought these items for my own use. The opinions are my own, and do not in any way reflect the thoughts and views of the Lego Group of companies.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!


Back in the Saddle with Madd Capp’s I Am Horse

Last February, I got to meet an awesome puzzle company at Toy Fair. Madd Capp Games makes animal head shaped puzzles. Not just any animal shapes, though. These are hyper-realistic puzzles that any big-game hunter could substitute for a moldy taxidermy trophy. I was determined to try one, even though shaped puzzles are something I find incredibly daunting.

I was sent the I Am Horse 300 puzzle, which has 300 pieces. The 300 line is for people like myself who are intimidated by the larger puzzles which range from 550 -700 pieces but want more challenge than the 100 piece Lil line.


The box is really nice and sturdy, the puzzle is nestled inside with a full color poster, wasting no space. The poster’s back side is covered in great horse facts, adding to the educational aspect.


The pieces are a random cut, nicely large in size and with a great bottom texture. I found them to be gentle on my hands and easy to handle.


As I expected, this was tricky to get started. I sorted according to color as there wasn’t a frame to work off of. Once I got the nose and part of the ears together, the assembly sped up!

IMG_6686I love how very realistic this is!! You can see the individual hairs on the horse’s muzzle and count it’s eyelashes!


It took me 2 days to finish this puzzle and I took another 2 to seal it with polycrylic. Hime is currently getting to the horse/unicorn obsessed phase,  and this was part of her Christmas present.


I am not really a horse person, but I love how this came out! Definitely will be doing more Madd Capp Puzzles in the future!


  • Company: Madd Capp Games
  • Title: I Am Horse
  • Year released: 2019
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 15 x 20 inches – Horse Shaped
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in China


  • Box: Sturdy and compact,
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: Random
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups.

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 300 piece puzzle are kind to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I want to try this brand’s 100 piece counts for later this winter when my hands threaten to swell into claws. Their 550 -700 piece puzzles are intricate and huge! I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: I Am Horse is available on the Madd Capp Puzzles website for $14.99 USD.

Madd Capp Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct; I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Writer’s Block and Better Days to Come

Hi guys, I’ve missed you! Blogging has taught me quite a bit about making unreasonable goals and that because I live with a chronic illness, I often don’t get much of a say in the when and where of my stop-points. I may go more in depth on my Patreon page as to where I’ve been the last few weeks, but the TLDR is that there was major family drama leading up to Christmas and then once we resolved said drama; my mom has been in and out of the Emergency Room with heart attack-like symptoms that the doctors swear they can’t figure out.

It’s been stressful. The stress was so bad that I didn’t want to write. The thought of blogging terrified me. I’m not exactly sure why.

Mom was put on nearly complete bedrest for a few weeks and Hime is only 11. Someone had to take care of the pets and get Hime to school and make sure Mom rested. Being a caretaker is exhausting. I have a new appreciation of SC when I’m not well.

So while I dreaded writing, I went back to the hobbies that kept me sane. I colored for the fun of coloring. I assembled puzzles that made me smile. I joined World Puzzle Days and have completed 3 puzzles for that with numbers 4 & 5 in various stages of completion. I played a LOT of Fallout 4 with the Spouse-Critter. In short, I took care of me.

The sun is showing its face more each day, Mom is getting better, and I have one of my favorite conventions coming up. It’s time to get back to doing what I love, trying out new things and sharing them with folks like myself.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!