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High Heels & Beetle Crushers – Review and Giveaway Blog Blitz!

I love nonfiction and history, so I jumped at the chance to review this upcoming memoir.

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The Blurb:

A compelling memoir of post-war Britain. Jackie Skingley grew up with limited career choices but joining the Women’s Royal Army Corps offered her a different life, living and working in a military world, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Packed full of stories reflecting the changing sexual attitudes prior to the arrival of the pill and the sexual revolution of the mid 60s, Skingley’s memoir denotes a shift in the political and social fabric of the era. Follow her relationships with the men in her life from finding her first true love, which through a cruel act of fate was denied her, to embarking on a path of recovery.

While the title is a little odd, it refers to the footwear of her young adult life; high heels when a civilian or on leave and “beetle crushers” black heavy shoes when on duty. Jackie’s memoir takes us from her earliest memory through her service with the Women’s Royal Army Corps.

Her writing style is relaxed and easygoing, I honestly felt as if Jackie were in the same room, telling me stories from her Army days. The depth of emotion when discussing her relationships with her family and beaus is wide-ranging. There is Jackie’s struggles against the expected roles of women in her time and the trials of finding love. Her fears and losses are heartrending and all too human, as is the slow recovery from grief.

She is frank when talking about sexual harassment and the attitudes of the 1950s-60s about affairs, premarital sex, and homosexuality. There are small asides in many of the chapters relating historical anecdotes or mentioning at what time in the future things changed.

Overall, I loved this book. My only real complaint is that the book ends with her military service in 1963. Write more of your following adventures, Jackie!

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: High Heels & Beetle Crushers: The Life, Losses and Loves of an Officer and Lady
  • Author: Jackie Skingley
  • Publisher: Chronos Books
  • Released: January 1st, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 328 pages
About the Author:
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For Jackie Skingley, adventure has been her quest since childhood. Life with the British army allowed Jackie to live all over the world and gain huge appreciation for different cultures and customs. Since 1999, Jackie and her husband have lived in the Charente region of South West France where Reiki, jewellery making, painting and mosaics, as well as writing keep her fully occupied. Member of the Charente Creative Writing Group, mother and grandmother
Jackie Skingley: Twitter / Facebook
Where to buy:

High Heels & Beetle Crushers: The Life, Losses and Loves of an Officer and Lady will be available on Amazon and bookstores on January 1st, 2020. If you click the above link, you can preorder the book for either Kindle ($10.69 USD) or Hardcover ($29.95 USD).

 

Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperback copies of High Heels & Beetle Crushers (Open UK / US Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK & USA entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

Giveaway Link: RaffleCopter

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!

EasyWhim’s Unicorn: My 1st Square Drill Diamond Painting

Since starting diamond painting last year, I’ve done a quite a few round drill kits, but no squares. When I spoke to EasyWhim Arts and Crafts™ about reviewing one of their kits, they were almost as excited as I was! I was warned that square drills have a higher difficulty level than rounds, but I’m always up for a challenge!

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I chose to tackle the Magical Unicorn kit, which is a 25cm by 30cm canvas. The kit includes everything I needed to start; canvas, instructions, drills, wax, drill tray, applicator pen and tweezers.  IMG_6040

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I seriously love EasyWhim for the way they package their drills. Each drill color (and there were 35 colors in my kit!) comes individually packaged in a resealable bag marked clearly with both the appropriate kit number and DMC color, as well as an approximate count of the drills.

As I was traveling most of this summer, I was able to fit all the drills and accessories in a small Tupperware®-like case and take my project with me.

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As you can see, squares are a bit harder to work when you first start doing them. The alignment alone can cause headaches if you are a fan of precision. IMG_6329This gets better as you go. I found the best advice I’d been given was to use a ruler to straighten the alignment and to place the drills in large sections in a checkerboard pattern.

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As you can see, there are a few drills I have to fix still.

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This is officially the longest time I’ve spent working on a diamond painting. I started this back in July, and worked on it in sections in between conventions and other things all summer and fall. I finally finished it in October. IMG_6675I am so incredibly proud of how pretty this turned out! The drills are sparkly and once pressed for a few hours they don’t pop out. The image looks exactly like it does on the website, and I’ll be framing this for SC’s home office.

Diamond Art Specs:

  • Company: EasyWhim
  • Title: Magical Unicorn
  • Colors: 35
  • Finished size: 25cm by 30cm
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  • Gem Shapes: Square
  • Gem Fit: Excellent

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Small compact box, easy storage
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Glittery without the glitter!

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for a person whose hands have good and bad days, but not if you have problems with your eyesight..  I worked on a lapdesk on the couch, and at the kitchen table, both places that have excellent natural light. Other than my butt going numb, it was a very comfortable project to work on.

Where to buy: You can purchase Magical Unicorn – DIY 5D Diamond Painting Kit on EasyWhim’s website. It normally retails for $29.99 USD, but is currently on sale for $9.99 USD.

EasyWhim Arts and Crafts : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Diamond Kit from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them. All images of the product are ©Easy Whim 2019.

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!

Shave the Princess?? Acceptance and Self-Discovery on the High Seas.

The Princess Beard is the third in the Tales of Pell series, and while I’ve listened to the previous two books on audiobook, this was the first time actually reading one. There is a definite difference between listening to someone else interpret puns and wordplay, and reading and discovering that wordplay yourself.  Either way, this book is a delight!

The Princess Beard

The Blurb:

Shave the princess? Inconceivable! The hilarious bestselling authors of Kill the Farm Boy and No Country for Old Gnomes are back with a new adventure in the irreverent world of Pell.

Once upon a time, a princess slept in a magical tower cloaked in thorns and roses. 

When she woke, she found no Prince Charming, only a surfeit of hair and grotesquely long fingernails—which was, honestly, better than some creep who acted without consent. She cut off her long braids and used them to escape. But she kept the beard because it made a great disguise.

This is not a story about finding true love’s kiss—it’s a story about finding yourself. On a pirate ship. Where you belong.

But these are no ordinary pirates aboard The Puffy Peach, serving under Filthy Lucre, the one-eyed parrot pirate captain. First there’s Vic, a swole and misogynistic centaur on a mission to expunge himself of the magic that causes him to conjure tea and dainty cupcakes in response to stress. Then there’s Tempest, who’s determined to become the first dryad lawyer—preferably before she takes her ultimate form as a man-eating tree. They’re joined by Alobartalus, an awkward and unelfly elf who longs to meet his hero, the Sn’archivist who is said to take dictation directly from the gods of Pell. Throw in some mystery meat and a dastardly capitalist plot, and you’ve got one Pell of an adventure on the high seas!

In this new escapade set in the magical land of Pell, Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne lovingly skewer the tropes of fairy tales and create a new kind of fantasy: generous, gently humorous, and inclusive. There might also be otters.  

The Princess Beard is a book that makes you think, even as you laugh until you cry. Much like the movie that the title references, this story is beautifully complex and multilayered. I have read it twice over, and know that there is still much left to uncover the next time I pick it up.

Honestly, it’s hard to decide where to start gushing. I adore fairy tales and their retellings. The premise of the princess rescuing herself and becoming a pirate is only the start of the story. At its heart, it is about facing your personal demons, and embracing them to find your true self. The fact that this is accomplished by challenging traditional gender roles or stereotypes (Vic and Morgan), or by having to face both the disapproval of family and an inevitable fate (Tempest), or by forging an entirely new path (Alobartalus); it is done with both grace and humor.

I adore excellent wordplay. I grew up reading both Xanth and the Callahan series. Puns fly frequently between SC and I. Kevin and Delilah have made a world replete with clever words and multiple meanings. There are macguffins, and anagrams. There is edge-of-your-seat action sandwiched between genuine feelings and laugh-out-loud hilarity. And at the very end, there is the warm fuzzy of finally coming home.

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: The Princess Beard
  • Series: Tales of Pell, Book 3
  • Authors: Kevin Hearne & Delilah S. Dawson
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Released: October 8th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 384 pages
About the Authors:
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Kevin Hearne is the NYT bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, as well as The Seven Kennings, an epic fantasy trilogy, and the Tales of Pell, a humorous fantasy series co-authored with Delilah S. Dawson. INK & SIGIL, a new urban fantasy series set in the Iron Druid universe, will be out in 2020.

 

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Delilah S. Dawson writes whimsical and dark Fantasy for adults and teens. Her Blud series for Pocket includes Wicked as They Come, Wicked After Midnight, and Wicked as She Wants, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. Her YA debut, Servants of the Storm, is a Southern Gothic Horror set in Savannah, GA, and HIT is about teen assassins in a bank-owned America. Her Geekrotica series under pseudonym Ava Lovelace includes The Lumberfox and The Superfox with The Dapperfox on the way. Delilah teaches writing classes at LitReactor and wrote the Island of Mesmer world for Storium.

Delilah lives with her husband, two small children, a horse, a dog, and two cats in Atlanta. Find out more at www.whimsydark.com.

Where to buy:
The Princess Beard is available on Amazon in Hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook. The hardcover retails for $27 USD, but is currently on sale for $19.80 USD. The Princess Beard is in bookstores right now!
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!

It’s My Party….And I Had a Blast!

Today is my birthday. Officially, I’m older and presumably wiser. I’m not sure I’m convinced of that, as I’m currently paying the price for a weekend of excitement and excess. I came home from my trip with a hellacious head cold that has confined me to bed for the last few days. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? Absolutely!

So…definitely not grown wiser this year. But I’m out living my life and enjoying the heck out of it; despite my disabilities and health.

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It started as a question. Would I be interested in going to a Book Fest that my Bestie’s boyfriend was going to be speaking at? Such a silly question! I had never been as far west as Nashville, Tennessee.  So I did research, and found that The Southern Festival of Books was in it 31st year, and was a celebration of local authors, historians and readers. It’s a program presented by Humanities Tennessee, and as a veteran of many conventions, this was a treat to visit!

Nashville shuts down an entire street from the Nashville Public Library to the State Capitol Plaza. There were booths for everyone! The children’s section was closest to the library. Performance tents were tucked to the sides of the plaza and self-published authors were cheek-to-jowl- with both large and small press houses.

I got to meet Karen Abbott, the author of Ghosts of Eden Park, which was the one book I desperately wanted for my birthday.

That was Friday, and started the whole weekend on a high note!

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The Nashville Public Library is both beautiful and ginormous! On top of using it’s various learning spaces for the many scheduled author talks, they also hosted their annual book sale in the lobby. I won’t lie, I came home with a duffel bag of used books & movies.

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My Swag haul of books for review.

Now, I didn’t just live in the library all weekend. Brian Allison, who wrote Notorious Nashville and Murder and Mayhem in Nashville was able to guide me to some of the fun landmarks within walking distance of downtown.  We mutually geeked out about local history and murder.

My favorite place was the infamous men’s bathroom of the Hermitage Hotel. It is an Art Deco wonder! The entire hotel is beautiful, but that bathroom is amazing.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend. There was awesome company, great people to talk to and a new city to explore! I hope to visit again next year!

Disclosure: 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 New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

I’m a sucker for a good mystery. It piques my curiosity and I just can’t seem to help myself! When Artifact Puzzles announced that they were debuting a new line of wooden puzzles I knew I wanted to try them out. Then Artifact upped the ante and announced that the new Ecru puzzles would include Mystery Puzzles. I was doomed!!

The Ecru puzzles are different from the main Artifact line in that they are made with a closer cut and a matte finish. The Mystery Puzzles are made to be ephemeral, they are only made for a few months at a time, then they are “revealed” and added to the main Ecru lineup.

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I love this. I was sent Mystery Puzzle #1, and it arrived in a plain gray box. IMG_6488

Like all Artifact puzzles, the box and contents are curated for maximum sustainability.  The box has a magnet closure in the lid and as you can see, you are given an envelope of resealing stickers so that you can be sure no pieces have escaped while in storage.

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These pieces look fiendish! I’ve never worked with anything quite like these. The pieces look like interconnected hexagons or simple chemical formulae. In fact, while assembling, I swear I saw a piece that looked like a sugar molecule!!

Continue reading The New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

Traveling the World – Travel Mosaic

 I’ve been traveling a lot this summer. While none of my destinations have been super exotic, I enjoy being new places and seeing new people. This week I’m in Atlanta, Georgia for DragonCon and I thought I’d share a new coloring book that’s been keeping me busy.

Travel Mosaic is a Color by Number coloring book by Belba Family, who also created the Animal Mosaic Book. This coloring book is fantastic!

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 There are 24 images of places and people from all over the world, done in a pop art sort of style.My sister, Little-Big really enjoyed this book. She did the majority of the coloring on some of the pages!

We both enjoyed the range of images and colors. I’ve found color by number books to be incredibly relaxing. All the colors are ones easily found in most crayon and colored pencil sets, and most marker sets as well.

Disability Notes: I found the coloring areas large enough to accommodate nearly any coloring age group, through a few pages have a higher level of difficulty than others. If you have eye issues, you may have difficulty seeing the numbers as they are printed in a charcoal ink that is designed to blend into the colored page.

Where to buy: Travel Mosaic is available at Amazon. The book’s MSRP is $7.99 USD.

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!

Coloring on the Go – Reviewing COLORpockit!

Back in June I was browsing my FaceBook when one of the sponsored posts caught my eye. I usually ignore these, but I’d been searching coloring books and such enough to have tripped the FB algorithms. This ad was for an odd little coloring kit called a COLORpockit.

I was intrigued and did a little research before reaching out to see if Dalaine Bartelme, the creator of COLORpockit would be interested in me doing a review. Thankfully she was! My new green COLORpockit came just before I headed north for inventory and the Convention Season. IMG_6347This is a rather unassuming little thing, isn’t it? The dimensions are only 8 inches long by 5 inches high by 1 inch deep. But you know what they say about small packages….IMG_6346BOOM. Check this out! The top slides to reveal the coloring deck, a dozen 4 by 6 inch postcards and the built-in pencil sharpener. The bottom conceals a drawer full of 12 double-sided colored pencils.

This kit is entirely self-contained, and refillable! which is a good thing, because after traveling to 3 conventions this summer, I put a serious dent on the colored pencils. I was seriously impressed by the pencils, the color they lay down is super smooth and surprisingly bright!IMG_6357

The Welcome coloring deck which comes with each COLORpockit is drawn by Dalaine Bartelme herself! I had a lot of fun choosing where to start my coloring journey! IMG_6349

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Colored by me 

I ended up giving this kit a real workout. It lived in my convention backpack and I would find myself coloring nearly everywhere. The train was easier than the car (I had a lap tray), I could color in my hotel room after work, or at home resting on my own couch. I could fit it in my purse and pull it out to distract Hime when she claimed she was bored.

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Colored by Hime.

Overall, I’m really pleased. I’ve already recommended COLORpockit to my mom, who is a avid colorist.

Disability Notes: I really only have nice things to say about this product. The COLORpockit body is sturdy and is kind to hands that may not have a full range of motion. The art on the various cards is a good mix of large and small coloring areas for people with eyesight issues. The prices are reasonable for folks on a budget and the kit fits well in a medium purse or small tote bag. I think this would be a great addition to a hospital bag or bedside kit for those awful I-can’t-move days. Bonus, because it is made with food-grade plastic, it can easily be cleaned and wiped down with sanitizer.

Where to buy: The COLORpockit is available on the COLORpockit website. The COLORpockit kit is normally $25 USD, but is currently on sale for $19.99 USD.  Each COLORpockit kit comes with the welcome coloring deck, and there are additional coloring decks done by different artists and with different themes for $10 USD. You can also buy additional pencils for $10 USD.

COLORpockit : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©2018 COLORpockit. 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!