January 21, 2017

Guest Post: 12 Ideas to Help Harness the Power and Magic of Hugs

Laura Duksta, author of I'LL HUG YOU MORE, has a special message to share for National Hug Day.

Where are My Huggers At? 12 Ideas to Help Harness the Power and Magic of HUGS 

1. HUGS... wondering what you can do to foster healthy self-esteem in your children, HUG THEM, it creates a sense of connection and belonging which they’ll take with them into the classroom and out into the world.

2. HUGS allow us to love and to be loved, and to feel connected, some say these are the reasons for our existence.

3. HUGS can shift our energy. An upset child can often be comforted by taking a few deep breaths, meeting them at their height and offering a hug until their upset subsides. This works the other way too, a child often senses when you’re upset, let them come in and give you a hug. Hugs can remind us what’s important and help us regain perspective.

I'll Hug You More 4. HUGS can express empathy, by saying “I’m with you,” “I understand what you’re going through,” “We’re in this together,” “You matter,” “I’m here for you.”

5. HUGS heal. Researchers have only scratched the surface in studying the heart’s electromagnetic waves. When we connect in a heart to heart hug there’s a chance were harnessing the most powerful ‘medicine’ of all.

6. HUGS can help put a smile on our face as well as our heart. As a friend shared, “Hugs make me smile on the inside and out.”

7. HUGS help generate oxytocin which reduces stress producing hormones. Hugs also release dopamine which give us a feel good feeling and helps to motivate us.

8. HUGS ... a healthy dose, says family therapist Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve hugs a day for growth.”

9. HUGS are a one powerful way to experience the healing and nurturing power of touch, but there are others, consider a mani/pedi or a massage. Not quite ready for human touch, test out the power and magic found in hugging a tree!

10. HUGS are perfect by design. We live in a universe of duality where we have support and challenge, happiness and sadness, health and sickness, winning and losing, though experiencing these things at different times often knocks us off balance. A HUG is the perfect gift where we share the power of giving and receiving simultaneously.

11. HUGS connect us soul to soul. They’re a universal language we all can understand.

12. HUGS can say “Hello” and “Good-Bye,” “I’ll Miss You,” “Thank You,” “I’m Sorry,” and more, and underneath it all every hug says “I love you.”

13. HUGS BONUS .... your biggest benefits will come from 20 second HUGS, so extend your heart and your arms, take your time and make it count!

January 11, 2017

Review: Fudge and Jury

Fudge and Jury The fifth Bakeshop Mystery
By Ellie Alexander
Available now from St. Martin's
Review copy

Ashland, Oregon is a small town that's built up a Shakespearean tourist industry, as well as an annual chocolate festival. As the co-owner of Torte, Ashland's resident bakeshop, Jules is cooking on all burners. She's considering expanding the business, and using the festival as a chance to renovate her current storefront. She's also got a couple of guys vying for her attention, but she's not ready to move on from her estranged husband.

When Evan Rowe, the infamously mean owner of Confections Couture, dies of an allergic reaction during the festival, everyone suspects foul play. The desserts he was served were supposedly nut free. Jules would be interested in the case just to clear her own name, but her friend Lance pushes her to become even more involved in probing for answers. As is the case in many mysteries where the victim is a real jerk, there's a plurality of suspects.

I haven't read the previous four Bakeshop Mysteries, but I was able to dive right into this tale. There is some exposition at the beginning about Jules' business and husband which helped me understand the basics of the setting, although it made me think Jules' husband would actually show up in the story. The series has a fairly standard cozy mystery set up, which made stepping into the series in the middle still feel familiar.

What I found stood out about FUDGE & JURY is the importance of Jules' career. Her professional development often overtook the murder mystery as the most important part of the book. I don't think that's a bad thing, since there's a new murder per book but investment in Jules is what will keep readers coming back. I know I'm thinking about checking out the previous four books from the library. I find that most cozy mysteries are centered around hobbies, or people starting new careers, so it was unusual to read one about a woman who is excelling in her field and finding increasing success.

I thought the cast was likeable. The array of romantic options seemed like a bit much, although Ellie Alexander sold the scene where Jules turns one of her suitors down. I felt for the guy and appreciated how maturely Jules handled the situation, by making her feelings clear but being compassionate. That's always a rough situation.

The details of the various confections are lush and mouth-watering. I know I wanted some chocolate pasta of my own! (And I greatly enjoyed Jules' defense of cocoa-powder based brownies. This Smitten Kitchen recipe proves they don't have to be grainy.) The solution to the mystery surprised me, and will certainly make me more careful about serving one of my favorite sauces to guests. The denouement happened quickly, since FUDGE & JURY does focus on so much more than the mystery, but I found the clever solution satisfying.

I have one copy to give away. US only, 13 and up.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 31, 2016

All Romance eBooks Closing - Back Up Your Library Now!

All Romance eBooks (ARe)/OmniLit was one of the bigger ebook stores. It specialized in romance (obviously) and offered buy-10-get-1-free codes as well as a rebate system of eBook Bucks. I bought many a book there over the years (and downloaded more from their extensive collection of free books).

Normally I'd be saddened by another ebook retailer shutting their website down, but ARe is doing it in a particularly scummy way, as detailed over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Thus, I'm angry instead.

This is a notice that if you've ever bought anything there, you need to back up your library now. You have less than 24 hours, because the site shuts down permanently at midnight CST tonight.

I try to diversify from Amazon, but it can be so hard, can't it?

December 24, 2016

Bookish Gifts for Terrible Shoppers

If you don't have your Christmas shopping done, you're in a bit of a pickle. You're mostly stuck with e-gift cards. However, there's a few deals on gift cards of the bookish sort:

Litographics has 15% off their gift cards, today only. Use code GIFT15. These cards are nice because you can give the exact amount for one of their products.

Out of Print gift cards are 30% off through Christmas with the code EGIFT30.

Amazon also has a couple of useful deals. The 12-month Kindle Unlimited subscription is on sale for 25% off. Prime Now has free delivery through midnight tonight. No dealing with the grocery store rush if you forgot eggs!

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2016

Movie Monday: Rogue One

I've been excited about Rogue One coming out, although not as excited as I would be for Episode VIII. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this side adventure.

Jyn (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of weapons designer for the Empire. He doesn't believe in the cause, but it's build or die. His brief rebellion did manage to get his daughter out of the control of the Empire, so they couldn't use her as a hostage against him. When he convinces a pilot to defect with news of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance contacts Jyn because she can help them confirm the tale.

What follows is a story that ranges over several planets as a rag-tag team of fighters attempts to prove that the Death Star exists and can be stopped.

While The Force Awakens assembled a cast of mostly unknown actors, Rogue One goes for more familiar faces like Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, and Donnie Yen. I like those actors, and don't think their higher profile distracted from their story. They faded into their roles quite well. I did enjoy that Rogue One allowed the actors to keep their accents instead of having everyone use an American or English accent.

Rogue One is darker than most Star Wars movies. It shows the side of the Rebel Alliance that veers into terrorist attacks. And the ending is more hopeful than happy. While my dad and I enjoyed the film together, Rogue One is not the best choice for families with smaller children. I don't think it's inappropriate for kids; just be prepared for potential discussion (or calming down upset kiddos) afterward. I think the ending fit the film, but it definitely takes a new tone for the universe. This one is more Empire than Return of the Jedi.

I've seen mixed reviews online, but both my dad and I enjoyed Rogue One. As always, I believe the best way to make a decision is to see something for yourself.


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