Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities by Mary McHugh

Book Spotlight:   Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities by Mary McHugh

Murder is nothing to tap at. . . 

The high-kicking Happy Hoofers–Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini–have been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flan–with Gini as suspect numero uno–the feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.

The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!

Includes Photo Tips And Tasty Recipes
About This Author

Mary McHugh graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, with a B.A. in English Literature and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She is the author of nineteen nonfiction books and two novels. She was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan, an articles editor at Woman’s World, Travel Holiday, and Bridal Guide, and has written articles for The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and Family Circle.

She loves to tap dance and to travel -two passions that inspired her to write the Happy Hoofers series.

She lives in the New York area. Visit her at

Author Links
Purchase Links
Amazon     B&N    Book Depository    Kobo    Google Play
Win one of five print copies of this great cozy mystery!
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: Heroes of the City Youtube Channel

Hi all!

You may remember that last year I reviewed some great apps, books, and products for children by the Swedish company Heroes of the City.  They also sponsored a gift pack giveaway here last spring.  (You'll find previous posts about Heroes of the City:  product review and baby app.)

I'm happy to share the news that Heroes of the City has a great Youtube channel.  Heroes of the City is now a highlighted TV show in the new YouTube Kids app.  Fun!  Their videos for children are wonderful - educational, smartly written, and charmingly illustrated.  They are ideal for toddlers and preschool age children.
You can explore this fun channel by visiting:

About:  Heroes of the City - a YouTube channel for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers. · Full of fun episodes · Sketch & Guess with Calamity Crow · Calamity Crow Kids Crafting Show Heroes of the City are an animated TV-series about rescue vehicles in a small town where everybody gets to be a hero! You will find over 6 hours of full episodes with great stories for the little ones. The TV-series contains a lot of warmth and teaches the importance of friendship and what we can achieve by helping each other. 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Bella Chronicles

The Bella Chronicles - The Adventure Begins...
By Erica Leigh Austin

Genre: Fiction/Children/YA
Publication Date & Publisher: 11/2014/ Chadwick Publishing

Book Description:
Bella the Shih Tzu is in the throes of her great escape, searching for the loving home she’s always wanted.  She hears someone cry out that there’s a dog in the street!  Bella immediately puts her escape on hold and springs into action as she frantically tries to save the dog…but she can’t find him. What will Bella do???

The Bella Chronicles: The Adventure Begins brings to life the journey of an extraordinarily smart, wonderful, and special dog named Bella as she wills her way to find a home full of love and warmth – and food! Told from Bella’s perspective, The Bella Chronicles is a warm and loving piece of literature that pet lovers’ and children alike have been awaiting…

The Bella Chronicles: The Adventure Begins is the first in a heartwarming, humorous, insightful and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who have always wondered just what it is that their little pets are thinking.
Author Bio:
Erica Leigh Austin was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Pacific Palisades.  Both of her parents – all three of them, actually – were teachers and Erica was blessed to have grown up in an artistic, intellectual home.  Her summers were filled with club volleyball and serving as big sister and role model for her younger sister, Jenny.  Erica attended the University of Michigan, where she studied English and starred on the Wolverines’ Women’s Volleyball team.  After college, she returned home to obtain her MBA from Loyola Marymount University.  While studying at Loyola, Erica worked at the iconic Gladstone’s Seafood Restaurant “where Sunset meets the PCH.”  Erica’s studies then took her abroad to France.  There she immersed herself in the art and culture of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan locales.

Currently a highly accomplished professional in healthcare IT, Erica lives happily in the Venice Beach area.  She enjoys yoga, spending time with family and friends, and pushing Bella the Shih Tzu around in her stroller (Bella is too lazy to walk more than 20 feet).

She is pleased to introduce you to her dog, Bella the Shih Tzu, in this first installment of The Bella Chronicles.  Learn more about Erica at

Web and Social Media Links
Author Twitter: @Ericalaustin

The author is giving away 5 print copies of The Bella Chronicles – signed by both the author & Bella!
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Downton Abbey, Season 5: Christmas Special Finale

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)
This was a two hour special episode, so lots happened!  High points included:
  • Lord and Lady Sinderby hosted a shooting party at their estate.  I am not a great fan of hunting or guns, but I found much to focus on with the family drama, including Sinderby's mistress and small child showing up at a big gathering.  Rose saved the day by pretending to be friends with the mistress and then seeing her off.
  • Mary met a handsome new man, Henry Talbot, at the gathering and flirted with him.  Edith also met a man at the gathering, Mr. Pelham;  he seems like a nice chap.
  • After a health scare, Lord Grantham made peace with Edith and welcomed Marigold into the family.
  • Lord Kuragin reunited with his princess, a gloomy and unpleasant woman, and went off to Paris with her.
  • Isobel received a nastygram from Lord Merton's son, Larry, and broke things off with Merton.
  • Tom and Sybbie prepared to move to Boston.  (Insert several 1920's theme sad emojis here.)
  • Carson proposed to Mrs. Hughes and she accepted.  I am restraining myself from typing this in all caps, but it is very big news!
  • Bates "confessed" to Green's murder to get Anna out of jail.  Molesley and Baxter played detective to get him off the hook ... and reunited with Anna.

Character of the Week
Tom had a lovely farewell to Downton Abbey, both in the children's nursery, remembering Sybil with Mary and Edith, and at the Christmas gathering downstairs.  He is by far my favorite DA character, and as Mrs. Hughes said, a bridge between upstairs and downstairs.  I think he also has served as a bridge between viewers and the the very privileged Crawley family.

Line of the Week
“Why do you always talk of me as if I were a salmon who laid my eggs in the gravel, then swam back to the sea?” (the Dowager Countess - perhaps my favorite Countess-ism of the season)

Most Striking Visual
Christmas at Downton Abbey was so beautiful!  I especially loved seeing the tree, and the children's wonder looking at it.

"Oh My" Moment
Carson's proposal to Mrs. Hughes and her acceptance was sheer perfection.  Finally!  I think this was my favorite scene of the entire 5th season.

What I Hope Will Happen Next Season (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)
  • A Carson/Hughes wedding!
  • A Baxter/Molesley romance.
  • Drama-free Anna/Bates.
  • Romance for Mary, perhaps with the new suitor introduced in this episode?
  • Happiness for Edith.
  • A new puppy at the Abbey (although Isis will still be fondly remembered).
  • More great Dowager Countess quotes!
How about you?  What did you think of this episode?  What would you like to see happen next season?