Hi, my name is Candy in Austin, TX and this my blog to rave (and sometimes rant) about books, movies, products, services or just whatever strikes my fancy. I love when people comment on my blog, so feel free to agree or disagree or maybe I inspired you to try something?

Disclaimer: I do get some of these books/products for free for doing an honest review. Yes, those are affiliate links and I could be compensated if you purchase through them. It\'s always small and it always goes to my kids college funds.

25 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods – Unofficial Recipes from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and more

Geeky Chef CookbookFor the geek in your life that has everything…

You know that one super geeky friend that has all the geek toys already? We all have one on our list. Birthdays and Christmas come around and that friend sits on the list begging to be scratched off and you scour all the usual suspects, think geek, Amazon’s “everything” lists… and you cannot find something they either don’t already have or that just isn’t geeky enough.

This is the answer to that. Even if your friend doesn’t “really cook”, they will still love this – and hey, they might find a recipe they enjoy. Highly recommend this one. It lent itself to lots of laughs and lots of fun.

Geek out with recipes inspired by books, movies, television, and video games!You’ve conquered comic con. You binge watch Star Wars regularly. Now, it’s time to get your geek on in the kitchen!

Cassandra Reeder loves to cook, and she’s a bona-fide mega-geek. Comic-lover, avid gamer, and sci-fi and fantasy lover, she started The Geeky Chef in 2008. She creates real-life recipes for all the delicious foods you’ve seen in your favorite sci-fi and fantasy movies, TV shows, and video games. From Game of Thrones and the Hunger Games to Doctor Who, the Legend of Zelda and the World of Warcraft, this book features over 60 recipes and photos that you can re-create right in your own home for the geek in your life. Finally learn to create Butterbeer and Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter. Indulge in the Lemon Cakes from Game of Thrones. Sip from a bowl of Plomeek Soup from Star Trekand enjoy with Peeta’s Cheesy Bread from the Hunger Games right in your kitchen! Fantasy foods are fantasy no longer…

Rating: ★★★★★

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05 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

LEADCIN Titanium Stainless Steel Men’s Bike Chain Bracelet 8.66 Inches Length, Silver and Purple

braceletOverall nice quality bracelet

Very heavy duty and high quality, nicely colored, but packaging is not ideal. This Stainless Steel Bracelet, out of the box, is very shiny and does not smudge much. The purple color is very nice, and is light enough as to not look strange. The packaging was a bit frustrating, as the plastic on the bracelet itself was somewhat difficult to rip off, but once i did get it off, it looked rather nice. This bracelet is very heavy, and feels like it has some substance to it, but the clip took me a while to figure out, but that is likely just because of my lack of experience. The gift box is simple, with square patterns in a black box, with some padding. Over all, this bracelet is very cool, and i will give it a 4/5.

This is fashionable titanium stainless steel bracelet for men
The bracelet secures with a fold over clasp for easy wear
Unique bike chain design, stylish and shine
Perfect for any occasion, best gift for his birthday, Father’s Day
Material: Titanium stainless steel
Length: 22 cm/ 8.66 inches
Width: 10mm/ 0.39 inches
Quantity: 1pcs
Net Weight: 55g/ 1.94 oz
Color: Silver and purplePacking Including:
1 x Men Bike Chain BraceletWhy choose Titanium Steel Jewelry?
Titanium is also called 316L stainless steel. It is always known widely for its cold light texture and brightness which is wide range of uses. As to its characteristics, it is resistant to acid and alkali without discoloration, allergy or deformation. It is always used in medical science, luxuries, expensive watches, pens and industry etc

Titanium Steel jewelry does not tarnish and oxidize, which can last longer than other jewelries. It is able to endure a lot of wear and tear. And it is amazingly hypoallergenic. Such advantages make it a more popular accessory.

Rating: ★★★★☆

27 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

STAINMASTER Cozy Pillow Pet Bed

dogpillowSoft and easy to clean

Our 20 pounds terrier mix loves this bed. If he is not inspecting his people or protecting the backyard, he is sleeping, laying, or chewing on his bed.

Did I mention that he sheds quite a lot? And is a very messy chewer? Luckily, the outer cover comes off the bed for very easy cleaning. For small spills, we can usually just wipe it off and call it good.

Overall: 5 stars. I’m a little jealous!

The STAINMASTER Cozy Pillow pet bed is made with premium fiber technology that provides long lasting support and comfort that your pets deserve. The cover is made of a durable fabric that is easy to clean and is machine washable and dryable. Choose from an assortment of different sizes and colors, including chocolate brown, khaki and olive. Care instructions: To wash, remove the cover and machine wash the cover separately in cold water only. Do not use bleach or strong detergent. To dry, use delicate cycle or gentle setting with very low heat. Reshape as needed.

Rating: ★★★★★

21 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Elite Platinum EPC-678SS MaxiMatic 11-Function Digital Pressure Cooker with Stainless Steel Pot, 6-Quart

cookerLots of functionality, easy to clean!

With two working adults and 3 busy, growing and (always) hungry kids, it can be difficult to make sure dinner is ready on time. We find that we end up using the microwave, oven, stove, and sometimes a griddle just to get one meal ready. While we didn’t have any room for an extra appliance, we needed something else that would give us a hand.

The MaxiMatic is small enough that it doesn’t take much counter space. It is light enough that you can move it to a pantry or closet between uses.

So far we have used it to make a soup, cook a pot roast, and to steam broccoli. In all 3 cases the MaxiMatic did its job well.

If you have a modern style, stainless steel kitchen, this little baby will look right at home!

Overall: 4 stars. Multi-purpose cooking appliance. Lots of functionality, easy to clean.

Maxi-Matic U.S.A has been an established provider of small kitchen electrics and other various household items for more than 25-year. The company has grown from exclusively marketing the Pillsbury line to developing its own brands which are carried by all major U.S. retailers today. Over the years, the company has added many more products to its portfolio and earned a reputation as a “Can Do” company.

Rating: ★★★★☆

14 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Nerf N-Strike SharpFire Blaster

nerf blasterUnpowered, pain to load

We acquired this Blaster for my nephew. He did not have a lot of Nerf equipment and was getting annihilated by my own kids. Unfortunately, we didn’t know we were just setting him up for more pain.

First, we didn’t realize this was single shot. Not Nerf’s fault, but the Blaster looks like it should hold more.

Second, the range is very short. With a short range, comes low accuracy.

Third, it is a pain to reload. In the heat of the moment, we have more jams than we have darts flying around.

Overall: 2 stars. Looks good, but probably the worst Nerf in our arsenal.

Stay on the move and ready for anything with the SharpFire blaster! This incredibly versatile blaster is a 6-in-1 powerhouse. You can configure it as a one-handed blaster, attach the removable stock and barrel extension for a more stable shot, or attach the stock under the trigger to convert it to a holster. Whether you’re doing recon, taking down your targets from afar or jumping right into the thick of the mission, the SharpFire blaster has a configuration for that! Nerf and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

11 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

The Nutro Company Baked Beefy Bones


Dogs love ’em, but I’m less impressed

I have three dogs and all of them seem to really like these. I’m not as impressed with them, but since they like them so much I hand them out sparingly. These are definitely junk food treats – wheat is the first ingredient and sugar is the third. So, I suppose, OF COURSE the dogs love them :) The exterior “crust” is crunchy and the interior is still a little crunchy but softer. The problem with the exterior is that it flakes off pretty easily. When I opened the bag, I noticed that the coating had cracked off several. Not a huge deal, but if you’re a stickler, (or – like me – have a touch of OCD twitchiness) it will make you crazy.

We have two small chihuahuas and one small/medium terrier/mini-schnauzer mix. The terrier loves them dearly and will do any trick I ask for them. The chihuahuas love them and will grab the whole thing and run off to a corner to munch it down piece by piece.

Bottom line for me? As an occasional treat, yes, we would get them (however, they are other junk food snacks they like more), but as a daily treat, we’ll stick to other things.

Nutro Baked Beefy Bones are made with real bone marrow. Our natural dog bone treats are crunchy on the outside and meaty on the inside. Your dog will find Nutro Baked Beefy Bones irresistibly delicious.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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09 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

CHUCKIT! Ultra Squeaker Ball

chuckitGreat sturdy ball, but don’t expect the squeaker to last if your dog likes to disable them,

First the bad – my dog managed to kill the squeaker in this toy within thirty minutes. But that’s not all that unusual, really.

The odd part is that he still loves playing with it. Usually once he’s killed it, it’s pretty much “dead to him” and he’s done with it. This ball still holds up well, even after your pooch has de-squeaked it. It still makes a funky whoosh-whoosh noise and I think he likes that because he’ll walk around with this in his mouth for hours stopping to “whoosh” it.

It is pretty heavy duty as far as the ball itself. Even with him gnawing on it, he hasn’t managed to get any pieces off of it in the past week that we’ve had it. We do take it away from him after a while.

I went out and bought the ChuckIt stick and I have to tell you that I’m in love with this whole system. Having had two spinal surgeries, bending down repeatedly starts to hurt. Throwing a ball with my dog wasn’t something I was really able to do. Now, I can. It takes a few times to get the hang of picking it up with the stick, but once you do it, it’s super easy and super simple.

But back to this particular ball – we like it. The squeak didn’t last – but really – I have yet to get a squeaker toy that the dog cannot destroy, sadly. The ball still makes a noise and every time we grab it, Anton jumps up and the tail wags and the eyes smile. I’d say that’s as good as it gets.

… now if he’d bring it back on a consistent basis (we’re working on it!) :)

Bottom line, it’s a great ball, but it’s even better if you have the chuck it stick/wand thing. It means I can play fetch with my dog now!

Take the interactive game of fetch to new heights! The Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker Ball is made of durable material with fun textures and a high bounce. Get out the house and have some fun with your pet today.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book count for 2014: 00

04 June 2015 ~ 1 Comment

14k Gold Crystal Heart Chain Necklace, 18″

I absolutely love this little heart necklace. The photo truly does not do this piece justice. I have to admit that when I first noticed Amazon sold jewelry, I was kind of wary. I remember worrying about if it was going to be junky. I don’t know why I worried because the quality of the pieces have all been magnificent! This was no different.

The chain is pretty thin and delicate, absolutely perfect for the design. A heavy chain would take away from it. What I found interesting is that the gold flakes kind of float in there. They don’t move much at all. In fact if I hadn’t tilted it and the little air bubble moved through them to move them around, I wouldn’t have noticed. It must be some sort of thick liquid in there or something. Anyway, now it’s kind of a distraction game when I wear this, I sit there playing with the gold flakes.

Yes, I have found a way to fiddle with nearly everything, I know. I’m a fiddler, I suppose :)

At any rate, the heart is perfect and I couldn’t be happier with it. Totally recommended for those that like pretty things (or like to fiddle)!


The Amazon Curated Collection

Discover the Amazon Curated Collection of fine and fashion jewelry. The expansive selection of high-quality jewelry featured in the Amazon Curated Collection offers everyday values that range from precious gemstone and diamond pieces to the latest fashion designs.

This hand-selected assortment features an array of diamond, gemstone and precious metal designs that receive a quality inspection, including from Amazon’s staff graduate gemologist, to ensure they meet Amazon’s high standards. All diamonds featured in the Amazon Curated Collection are certified by our suppliers to be conflict free, and IGI, GIA, or AGS certifications are provided on white diamonds of .75 carats or larger on all stud earrings, rings, and pendant necklaces.

Pieces from the Amazon Curated Collection come packaged in a custom box, making them wonderful gifts. In addition, we offer free one-day shipping within the continental US on items over $500. International shipping options for friends and family overseas are available for an additional fee.

The Amazon Curated Collection offers a specialized customer service team that is available seven days a week to answer any product questions before, during or after the purchase. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you will receive a full refund and free return shipping within the US if you return your purchase within 30 days.

Find a special gift for a loved one or a beautiful piece that complements your personal style with jewelry from the Amazon Curated Collection.

Rating: ★★★★★

28 May 2015 ~ 1 Comment

D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina

Guest post by: Lee Ness

DEM Cover.001My book D.E.M. started out as a short story prompted by a single piece of advice given to me over 20 years ago. When I first started managing people, our old Personnel manager took me to one side and said “Just remember, ‘No good turn goes unpunished.’” I thought it an odd piece of advice at the time. I was a young man of 24, just about to manage a section in a manufacturing plant with a dozen people or so. How right that piece of advice was. That isn’t to say that no-one should do a good turn, just that often these things have unintended consequences. It has stuck with me all these years and I am reminded of it often, when it comes true!

So, when I looked to write a short story, it sprung back to mind. The origins of the story were created as I drove to work and was listening to a sad piece on the radio about a missing boy. I was annoyed. There are lots of videos on YouTube that not only go viral and achieve millions of hits (‘Charlie bit my finger’ and ‘Fenton’ for example), but also have the potential to generate significant sums of money. Why don’t people use this for good intentions? If you were searching for a missing boy, what better way than to activate millions of people in the search? That’s where my story begins, with my protagonist, Rachel, going through the same thought process as I did. Fortunately for her, that’s where she had computer skills that I didn’t have. She manages to get the video viral and is able to post a reward with the advertising fees she gets from it. So far so good, but then the ‘No good turn goes unpunished’ kicks in. The law of unintended consequences as it is often known. What Rachel is aiming for is a groundswell of support, buoyed by a reward so that someone gives information that leads to the boy’s discovery. Instead, a vigilante steps in and Rachel is suddenly a target. That’s where the short story ends. I always like to resolve the main story but leave a cliffhanger to a different one, even if I never intend a follow up. I like to try and leave the reader satisfied but still with questions.

In this case, it was me that had the questions that I needed to answer. I loved the two characters too much to leave it there, so the short story became the first chapter. Cue my next little foible. I always loved the term Deus Ex Machina and what it meant (A god outside the machine – someone external that influences the scene). My vigilante was exactly that, but I wanted them to be an even greater personification of the term. So, all I needed was a theme, and it was handed to me on a plate.

Hacking is a very real threat right now, to business, to individuals and to governments. The US Department of Defence was hacked recently and everyone knows about Sony pictures along with the stories about governments hacking each other in one form or another. Once you start researching, it gets even scarier. I’ve tried to balance the amount of technical information in the book with maintaining reader’s interest. According to reviews, I’ve got it about right, enough to be credible but not too much to be overly technical to the layman. All the information in the book is based on real things though. Email really is easy to crack, people really are the weak link and Line X and Line Y protocols do exist but you’re unlikely to find anything about them on the internet.

I didn’t want to lose everyone in a technical manual though, so I’ve tried to keep the hacking and technical stuff in the background. I learned a lot from reading Matthew Reilly and Elmore Leonard and have tried to reflect their pace and dialogue as much as I can. I wanted to create a story that was relevant to society today and that was credible. It’s a book I’d want to read and I’ve intentionally stayed away from telling you, the reader, every thought, every piece of information about the characters and their history. You wouldn’t get that in real life, you’d work it out from your conversations, from how people talk and how they behave. You’re clever folks and I didn’t want to insult you.

I hope you enjoy it and when you hear in the news about the Cryptolocker virus, or that some country is hacking some other country, you’ll hopefully think of Rachel and her friends!

About the author:

leenessLee Ness writes both fiction and non-fiction books and non-fiction articles. He has an Honours Degree in Electronic Systems Engineering and a Masters Degree in Engineering Management.

He has written a historical fiction series set around the Olympics in Ancient Greece circa 440BC and a technological thriller called D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina.

His first book The Sports Motivation Master Plan passes on the experience of many years coaching athletes in multiple sports. Lee is a UK Athletics Event Group Coach for and part of the National Coach Development Programme for Speed.

Lee’s articles appear in Athletics Weekly, on speedendurance.com and on stack.com. Lee is head coach at City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club and was Wiltshire Sport Coach of the Year in 2014.

Contest Details:

To win an e-book copy of D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina answer the following question in the comments below:

Which country is believed to be behind the hacking of Sony?
A) Russia
B) Israel
C) Korea

10 winners will be selected at random. 20 further selections will be sent the e-book of Lee’s historical fiction novel Hoplite – Part 1:Lysander
(Deadline for entries is Thursday, June 4th)

26 May 2015 ~ 0 Comments

deepFreak: virtual is the new reality


A magical mystery tour of virtual reality and beyond.  Love, politics, conspiracy, and fluctuating space-time coordinates all come to a head when a huge solar flare disrupts the event horizon between parallel universes.

Living in simulated reality, SIM, is all the rage in the mid twenty-first century.  But just when it seems that illusion has triumphed and Reality has become irrelevant, Reality throws a curve ball.

Audrey is a SIMdesigner and an artPrank hacktivist.  When her friend Dano disappears, Audrey is forced into the gritty world of Real to find him.  People disappear all the time in this dystopian near future.  But then there are Type III disappearances, so when the young Milan also vanishes, but this time right before Audrey’s eyes, the quest for the disappeared takes a whole new turn and Audrey finds herself unwillingly thrust on a bizarre existential odyssey.  Real?  SIM?  Or hallucination?  Nothing is what it seems.

Meanwhile, Milan wakes floating in midair before the floor suddenly comes up and crashes hard into him.  He looks around and at first the room does nothing.  Then it wakes up.  Milan is on the other side, a place where people meet in Astral, not SIM, where luminescent mushrooms grow in the snow, and the weather knows what you are thinking.

Guest interview:

Interviewer: Who is Mars Dumont?

Mars:  Actually, Mars Dumont is not a real person, it’s two people.

Venus:  Hi, I’m Venus Dumont. We think of ourselves as a band. Originally we tried to think of a band name like “Liquid Mars” but it sounded too goofy so we came up with a nome de plume using his first name and my last name. 

Interviewer: So how does writing together work?

Mars:  I’m color, Venus is form.

Venus:  Basically I sketch out the story line and Mars writes. But we switch roles. When it gels we both know it. Until then it can be a real struggle.

Interviewer: Do you argue?

Venus:  Fight? Us? You bet! There’s the whole male-female swing of the book. I work out the romance and Mars focuses on the cyberpunk and the conspiratorial angles. When Mars starts gagging on my love scenes I get really mad. But the general rule is if one of us thinks it’s bad, it is bad.

Mars:  And then there’s the editing. Venus is brutal: if it isn’t absolutely necessary it’s out. Weeks, sometimes months of effort on the cutting room floor. Without so much as an apology. 

Interviewer: How do you keep on the same page, so to speak, how do you keep from working at cross purposes?

Venus:  We have a routine, we write by day and at night we read out loud to one another. When you read out loud whatever isn’t working is glaring. Once the characters are well defined they write themselves.

Mars:  We also keep picture boards. We’re both visual people. We try to collect inspiration for every character, outfit and setting. If we can see it we can convey it. If we aren’t seeing the same thing then we haven’t worked it out well enough. But when we get into a groove it’s like magic. We go to places where neither of us could get to on our own.

Interviewer: Do you both write all the characters or does Venus write certain characters and Mars write the others?

Venus:  There’s a lot of back and forth but once the characters are well defined they write themselves. I never felt like we wrote this book. It’s almost like we were channeling the story. Sometimes I re-read and I just don’t know where it came from.

Mars:  Really? Really??? I read it and I am reminded of three and a half years of some of the most demanding work I’ve ever done.

Venus:  But it was fun!

Mars:  Yeah, it was fun.