Showing posts with label Wednesday Elf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wednesday Elf. Show all posts

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Book Review of The 9th Girl and the sequel, Cold Cold Heart


Author Tami Hoag has written over 40 books. first in the Romance genre and then in the crime/mystery/suspense/thriller genres. She has written several series, my favorite being the Kovac & Liska series. 

I have been currently re-reading my collection of Tami Hoag mysteries, beginning with my favorite series with characters Sam Kovac and his partner, the wisecracking Nikki Liska whom Sam calls 'Tink' (for Tinkerbell) because she's petite, though tough and determined. They are homicide detectives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

After finishing the fourth book in the series (The 9th Girl), I happened to pick up one of Tami Hoag's standalone books to read next (Cold Cold Heart) and realized it was a sequel to The 9th Girl. Therefore, I will review both of these books for you today. 


The 9th Girl



Available on Amazon
It is a frigid New Year's Eve in Minneapolis when a body falls from the trunk of a car into the path of oncoming traffic. Detectives Kovak & Liska are called to the scene. Unidentified, she is the ninth nameless female victim of the year. The detectives need to find out not only who she is, but who wanted her dead. 

Not only is she the ninth Jane Doe of the year, but she may be the ninth victim of a vicious, transient serial killer the police call Doc Holiday. Doc Holiday chooses his victims at random, snatching them in one city and leaving them in another, always on a holiday.

When another young woman disappears, the case heats up while the detectives try to find the promising young TV reporter, Dana Nolan before she becomes another victim.




Cold Cold Heart



Available on Amazon
The 9th Girl novel ends with Dana Nolan becoming the only one of Doc Holiday's victims to survive. Cold Cold Heart is her struggle to recover from the physical, emotional and psychological trauma she endured.  After months in the hospital and a rehab center, Dana returns to the small Indiana town she left to work in Minneapolis.  

Cold Cold Heart begins with Dana still in the hospital and Kovak & Liska making a brief appearance in the first 2 chapters (a continuation from The 9th Girl) where they try to learn the details of what happened. The problem is, Dana doesn't remember much due to suffering a brain injury at the hands of the killer. 

As Dana continues to recover and returns to her family home, media interest brings up the unsolved case of Dana's childhood best friend who disappeared without a trace 7 years ago, the summer after their high school graduation. Viewing life differently because of her injuries and needing something to focus on other than the flashbacks and nightmares and the torment of post-traumatic stress disorder she suffers, Dana begins to look into her past. But the truth of her friend's disappearance may prove to be too terrible to be believed. 



Notes from the Author:



Author Tami Hoag
Tami Hoag suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) as a child which went undiagnosed for many years. Luckily, her only side effects are occasional severe headaches. She also has a friend whose husband suffered a TBI in the military. Combine the consequences with PTSD and the problems worsen.  PTSD is not a condition exclusive to the war-injured military, but also experienced by victims of crimes and other tragedies.

Ms. Hoag believes that many people are not aware of how these injuries affect the people suffering from them and their loved ones. The post-brain injury person is often not ever again the pre-brain injury person remembered by friends and family and this becomes difficult to deal with and understand. 

Tami thought perhaps having her character in Cold Cold Heart suffering from TBI and PTSD would help readers understand both people who are afflicted and those who live with them.

A well-written story ~ with a message.  



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(c) Written by Wednesday Elf 7/6/2019




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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Color Outside the Lines – Reviewing Summer Color and Activity Books for Kids or Adults

Collage created on FotoJet
Summertime brings us wonderful weather for favorite outdoor activities. But sometimes it is too hot to play outside or rainy days force us inside. That's when some indoor activities are needed. 

Television programs and noisy games are fun, but sometimes 'quiet times' are welcome. Having a variety of coloring and activity books can be a perfect fit for such times. 





Coloring Books


Coloring books for both kids and adults are always fun. Here are a couple new ones to try.

Dr. Seuss Coloring Book



Available on Amazon

The Dr. Seuss Coloring Book is filled with playful patterns and intricate images based on everyone's favorite Dr. Seuss characters, this 80-page coloring book will occupy children from age 7 and up all the way to parents and grandparents who remember the lovable Dr. Seuss books. 

The illustrations come from such Dr. Seuss titles as The Cat in the Hat, Oh, the Places You'll Go, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hears a Who and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to name a few. 

Now you can color Dr. Seuss any way you want!

The World of Debbie Macomber: Come Home to Color: An Adult Coloring Book



Available on Amazon

While the kids are coloring Dr. Seuss, mom or grandma fans of Debbie Macomber can enjoy their own coloring book. Based on the Blossom Street and Rose Harbor series, this special adult coloring book has 45 original illustrations that depict scenes from the series. Revisit favorite locales and relive the themes from these favorite Debbie Macomber stories. 


Summertime Activities


See on Amazon

Keep the kids entertained when inclement weather spoils vacation fun or the 'kids' start their “I'm Bored” routines with this fun DIY activity book called The Dad Lab.  The book contains 50 projects in the interesting realm of science and technology. The projects are simple and use materials found around the house.  I can already see that the project “make slime with only two ingredients” is one my young grandsons would enjoy. 

A fun way for mom & dad and grandparents to spend quality time with the kids in a way the kids would also enjoy.


Summary


Image from Bev Owens Article
Reviewing Fine Art Colored Pencils
on ReviewThisReviews

Add in some colorful crayons for the kids, and special pens and pencils for the intricate designs for adults and you'll be creating beautiful pages. 

So don't let weather spoil your summer vacation. These coloring and activity books will give everyone hours of fun and enjoyment. 


Check out a variety of fun reviews of other coloring books and coloring pencils on ReviewThisReviews: Coloring Books



(c) Wednesday Elf 6/23/2019




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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Book Review of Bomb Shell, an FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter

Catherine Coulter has written 23 books in her FBI series featuring Dillon Savich and his wife & partner Lacey Sherlock. A few years ago I introduced you to a new series of crime thrillers by Catherine Coulter staring American-born, UK-raised Nicholas Drummond, a tough chief detective inspector with Scotland Yard in my review of “The Final Cut”. Little did I realize that a Savich/Sherlock mystery thriller written just before “The Final Cut” gives us hints within the story of this upcoming 'A Brit in the FBI Series'.

Having just finished reading this book, Bomb Shell published in 2013, I would like to review it for you now.


Bomb Shell Synopsis


Bomb Shell available on Amazon

Throughout Catherine Coulter's FBI series with Savich & Sherlock, we are introduced to other regular characters who are sometimes introduced in one book and reappear in subsequent books. One such character is FBI Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith whom we first met in "Backfire”. Griffin was working in the San Francisco office and aided Savich and Sherlock in solving a crime. Savich sees something special in Hammersmith and recruits him to join his unit in Washington, D.C. 

While on his way cross-country to his new assignment in D.C., Griffin plans to visit his sister, Delsey, who is a student at a School of Music in Maestro, Virginia. Before he gets there, a phone call tells him that Delsey has been found naked and unconscious, lying in a pool of blood that isn't hers. No one knows whose blood it is, but Griffin knows he must protect Delsey. But from whom?

Meanwhile, back in D.C., the FBI, headed by agents Savich and Sherlock, is called to the scene of a murder, a body lying naked and frozen on a bitter winter day at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.  The victim turns out to be the grandson of a former Federal Reserve Bank chairman. Is his death revenge against his grandfather for the banking crisis, or something personal?

With two crimes to solve, one in D.C. and one in Maestro, Virginia, will the FBI agents figure it out while coping with the cold and snow that is hampering their investigation? And, is Griffin Hammersmith really gifted with a unique ability to “see” how criminals think? 


Author Catherine Coulter



Personal Photo taken off book cover
Original Photo by (c) Charles Bush
Catherine Coulter has written over 83 novels, 78 of which have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list.  Her FBI thrillers starring Savich & Sherlock now number 23. 

Coulter ends Bomb Shell with the crimes solved and Dillon and Sherlock making plans to attend a showing of the Koh-i-Noor diamond at an opening gala of the Crown Jewels on display in New York City. This is her clever seg-way into the introduction of her new series starring Nicholas Dummond ~ The Brit in the FBI ~ in The Final Cut.

Both Bomb Shell and The Final Cut are excellent mystery thrillers, as are all of Catherine Coulter's books. There is drama and danger and bits of humor and touches of caring in all her stories, without any blood & gore or extreme violence. I think this is why Catherine Coulter has become such a popular author. I hope you will enjoy Bomb Shell as much as I did.



Related Links:

The Final Cut - Book Review


(c) Wednesday Elf - 6/8/2019




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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Boys Minecraft 3-piece Pajama Set Review


April brought my grandson David's 10th birthday. While pondering what to get him for a gift, I remembered that he is a fan of Minecraft. 

Shopping for his birthday gift, and not knowing what Minecraft items he already has (since we live 6 hours apart), I spotted this set of pajamas with the Minecraft design. Perfect! Growing kids can always use pajamas and other articles of clothing. 




Minecraft Pajama Set


Set available at Target

The set I purchased at Target is a 3-piece set consisting of a graphic sleeping tee with the Minecraft design, sleeping shorts for warm weather and sleeping pants for cool nights. The pajamas are made from 100% cotton and both bottoms have a full elastic waistband.

The set comes in gray and green with a short-sleeve top. The top has a big graphic of Minecraft and the long pants have Minecraft designs all over it. The short pants are green and the top and long pants are gray. 

What is Minecraft?

Source: Pixabay

Minecraft is a video game about placing blocks and going on adventures. It's an open-ended game that allows players to decide what they want to do by themselves. Or they can play with other players online.  

There are two modes. The creative mode gives players limitless resources they can use to build whatever they can imagine. The Survival Mode lets the players explore the world and mine its resources to feed, house and defend themselves.

There is no one way to play Minecraft. It is a game that lets the players use their imaginations. It pleases me as a grandmother to know this is a game that encourages a child's imagination. In addition to the games, Minecraft also now includes groups of toys, books, clothing, and other related products.


The Birthday Boy


David adores Minecraft as he is a very imaginative and creative child. Therefore, he was delighted with his Minecraft design pajamas 'grandma' gave him for his tenth birthday. 

*Note: Turned out that David's mom was even more delighted with my gift choice as, unknown to me, new pajamas for him were very much needed. (That 'growing kid' thing :>)

Now David can think about his Minecraft toys while he's drifting off to sleep in his Minecraft pajamas.



(c) Wednesday Elf




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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Book Review of Straight – A Horse Racing Mystery

Collage created on Fotojet
by Dick Francis

I have been a fan of the books by Dick Francis since the 1970s. I own them all and now am collecting them for my daughter, who has also become a huge fan. 

The Dick Francis books revolve around horse racing in England.  Most of the books are  stand-alone stories (not continuing), although there are 3 short sets of continuing characters among the Francis collection.  The main character and narrator of each story is somehow associated with horse racing. He may be a jockey, a trainer, a racehorse owner, or someone in another profession somehow linked to racing. 

I love each and every one of the 40+ books Dick Francis wrote and re-read them frequently. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to name a favorite.  

That said, I would like to review for you now one I just finished re-reading that is among those of my top favorites of the Francis collection ~ entitled Straight. As with all of the stories, it deals with crime in the horse racing world. 


Synopsis of Straight


Available on Amazon
Straight, published in 1989, features a steeplechase jockey, Derek Franklin, as the main character and narrator of the story. While recovering from an injury, Derek receives news that his older brother, Greville, has died in an accident. Greville was a successful gemstone importer in London. He did not import diamonds, but recently did so for one specific customer who creates beautiful pieces studded with gems. Therein lies the problem. Derek has no idea where the 100 diamonds are, due to his brother's need for secrecy, and it soon becomes apparent that unscrupulous others are also looking for them. The bank holds a loan of $1.5 million dollars for the diamonds and the gemstone business Derek has inherited and is now trying to run is in jeopardy if the diamonds cannot be found.  Danger suddenly surrounds Derek on all fronts and his only hope of survival is to identify the enemy. 



Derek says: “I inherited my brother's desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress.  I inherited my brother's life, and it nearly killed me.”


Author Dick Francis


(c) Wednesday Elf
Dick Francis was a pilot with the RAF (Royal Air Force) during World War II and after the war became a highly successful professional jockey. In fact, he was a jockey for The Queen Mother's (Queen Elizabeth) horse, the story of which is outlined in “The Sport of Queens”, an autobiography published in 1957. 

After retiring from racing as a jockey, Francis worked as a racing correspondent for a newspaper, and also began to write his horse racing mystery stories. A nearly unknown fact is that his wife, Mary, was his researcher and a major contributor to his stories. In fact, during the many and varied  subjects she researched, Mary became a pilot (3 novels feature a pilot) and a photographer for a book about a race course photographer. 


Dick Francis with son Felix Francis
Near the end of his writing career, and after Mary's death in 2000, his son, Felix, became his writing partner. 

Dick Francis was born on Halloween in 1910 and died on Valentine's Day in 2010 at age 89. His son, Felix Francis has continued writing the Dick Francis Mysteries ever since. I am delighted that my favorite series of books continues to this day. The subject matter is still about horse racing, mainly in England, and involves a mystery to be solved. Felix's writing style is very similar to that of his dad and just as enjoyable to read. 


Summary



My Dick Francis Book Collection
(c) Wednesday Elf

I highly recommend Straight, or any of the other Dick Francis and Felix Francis horse racing mysteries. You don't even have to like horses or be a fan of racing to enjoy these stories, as the writing is superb, the characters interesting, and the stories fascinating. 















(c) Wednesday Elf - 5/11/2019




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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Two By Two – A Book Review

https://www.amazon.com/Two-Nicholas-Sparks/dp/1455520691/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=two+by+two&qid=1556133987&s=gateway&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=reviewthisblog02-20&linkId=4d2f356f9ebd858ccf22761a883e83a6&language=en_US
Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks
by Nicholas Sparks

I have been a fan of the books by Nicholas Sparks for many years. His romantic novels are wonderful.

I think what makes them especially interesting is that they focus on real-life situations.  There is romance and love, but love is not always perfect. Sparks' books describe times of absolute joy, as well as the daily love, disappointment, life journey changes and adjustments we all experience in our own lives. There is also always a touch of sadness just as we all experience from time to time. In other words, his love stories are realistic. Two By Two is no exception. 


Synopsis


Two By Two, published in 2016,  is about an ordinary guy – Russell Green – who has everything a man could want ~ a successful career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife (Vivian) and an adorable six-year-old daughter, London. They live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Russ is living the Dream, or so he thought. Suddenly he finds that the life he took for granted has turned upside down. In just a few months Russ finds himself without a job, his wife leaves him for a new job and exciting life with a real estate billionaire,  and he has become a single dad to daughter London. 

The story takes place over the space of a year which shows Russ struggling to adapt to a baffling new reality.  Trying to launch his own business while coping with the demise of his marriage, his days revolve around his daughter whom he tries to shelter from the consequences of these changes. His close relationship with his wise older sister, Marge and her partner, Liz, and his loving parents help sustain him during the emotional roller-coaster he finds himself on.


Source: Pixabay


“Friendship isn’t about how long you know someone. It’s about who walks into your life, says ‘I’m here for you,’ and then proves it.”
  ~Nicholas Sparks, Two By Two


Throughout the story are short sections of memories of Russ' childhood and his close friendship with his sister, plus memories from collage days when a foolish one-night stand costs him the girl (Emily) he was in love with. 

When a chance encounter with an old flame tempts him to take a second chance on love he finally learns that unconditional love is a treasure to be bestowed, never earned. 


Pillow Cover by pure_soul on Zazzle


“Happiness isn’t something someone can deliver. It comes from within.”
~Nicholas Sparks, Two By Two



Author Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks, Author

Nicholas Sparks is a romance novelist with 20 (to date) novels to his credit and two non-fiction books. He is also a screen writer. Several of his novels have become international best sellers and 11 of these stories have become films.  Probably his best known are “Message in a Bottle” and “The Notebook”. Almost all his stories are placed in a North Carolina setting, many of them along the coastal areas. Nicholas lives in North Carolina. 

His latest book just published in 2018 is Every Breath



Available on Amazon



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(c) Wednesday Elf 4/27/2019




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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review of the Death On Demand Series by Carolyn Hart

The “Death on Demand” series acquired it's name from the Mystery Book Store [Death on Demand] owned and operated by the series' central character, Anne (Lawrence) Darling. The stories take place on a fictional South Carolina island (Broward's Rock) located off the coast of the mainland and reached only by ferry boat. 

I only recently discovered this mystery series and am currently reading my way through the entire series of 27 (to date) books.  I had seen Carolyn Hart's name in the library mystery section several times, but had never read any of her books until about 2 months ago. After reading the first book, I became 'hooked'. The characters are charming, the plots interesting, the reading 'light' with humor and good taste and downright fun throughout. 

Although there is usually a murder (or two), it is secondary to the stories of the characters who solve the mystery of the crime. By that I mean there are no heavy details (like blood & gore) to wade through about the actual murder. The descriptions center more on the characters, their backgrounds and the uniqueness of life lived on an island. 


South Carolina Low Country


South Carolina Low Country (Source: Pixabay)

The main reason I love the setting is the author frequently mentions island residents going into Beaufort or Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, all quite easily reached after taking the ferry from Broward's Rock to the mainland. After having spent years camping at Hunting Island State Park just past Beaufort, having visited Charleston several times and having lived in the Savannah, GA area for nearly 20 years, the author's descriptions of these places is so familiar and such fun to re-visit through the pages of the books. If you have never been to any of these places in the 'Low Country' (a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina's coast, including the Sea Islands) you will find the descriptions of the area delightful).  


Death on Demand



Book One in the "Death on Demand" Series
In Book 1, simply titled “Death on Demand”, Anne Lawrence has returned to the South Carolina island of Broward's Rock where she spent many summer vacations as a child to take over her uncle's mystery book store she inherits after his death. The plot begins with a weekly meeting of island mystery writers at her book store during which one of the writers (the most irritating one) is murdered. Anne becomes the primary police suspect, but she and her boyfriend, Max Darling, investigate and solve what appeared to be a classic 'locked-room' mystery. 

As the Death on Demand series continues, Anne Lawrence marries Max Darling and together they seem to become involved in one mystery after another, often solving them with the help of several friends who are regulars at both the bookstore and in their lives. One of them is Max's mother Laurel. Laurel is often joined by two other older ladies, Henny, a former WWII pilot and former teacher and Emma, a mystery book writer who also  lives on Broward's Rock Island. Max and Anne also become good friends with the island's Chief of Police, Billy Cameron, who is a regular character in the series, along with his wife, Mavis and other members of this small island police force. As I read my way through the series, the characters become as familiar as my own family. 


(Source: Pixabay)
By using a mystery bookstore for her background, Hart has given her characters the opportunity to talk freely about other mystery authors and books. If you are a mystery story fan (as I am) you will recognize many of the book titles and authors mentioned throughout the series. 

Cats play a regular role in the stories too, with a black cat named Agatha (after Agatha Christi, Anne's favorite mystery writer) who lives at the Death on Demand bookstore and a white cat named Dorothy L (primarily Max's cat) who lives at Max & Anne's home.



Carolyn Hart



Author Carolyn Hart
Carolyn Hart, a former newspaper reporter born in Oklahoma in 1936, has been writing books since she left journalism upon the birth of her first child. Early on, women writers were not much recognized for writing mysteries, but with the advent of authors such as Sue Grafton and Sara Parentsky, publishers began to recognize American female authors in the field of mystery.

Carolyn Hart also has written two other regular series, the Henrie O mysteries which features a 70-something retired newswoman, Henrie O'Dwyer Collins, as she travels the country and the world, solving crimes that seem to follow her as she travels, and the very humorous Bailey Ruth Raeburn Ghost series about the ghost of a woman killed at sea who returns to earth via the "Rescue Express" to help her fictional hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma while trying not to violate the Precepts for Earthly Visitation and adjusting to her powers on earth. 

In 2015, Hart decided that keeping up with all her series and characters was becoming too much, and decided to end the Anne & Max Darling series to give her more time for her Bailey Ruth series.  Instead, as Hart wrote "Anne and Max looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t even think about it!”, so (thankfully) Anne and Max returned. 

Today Carolyn Hart, author of more than 60 novels and one non-fiction book about Oklahoma,  today resides in Oklahoma. She is a delightful author who specializes in traditional mysteries, also known as cozy* mysteries.


*Wikipedia defines 'cozy' also known as "cozies", as a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.  

I would definitely classify Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina as such a small intimate community and Death on Demand as a very delightful series. 



Source: Pixabay



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Book Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf (2019)




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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Day of the Mushroom Review

Basket of Picked Mushrooms (Wikipedia)

Mushroom Day, or Day of the Mushroom, is celebrated each year on April 16.  No one appears to know who created Mushroom Day (or why), but it has become quite popular on cooking and recipe websites, 



What is a Mushroom?



Definition per Wikipedia: A mushroom, or toadstool, is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. 

Many kinds of mushrooms are poisonous. The mushrooms most of us care about are the 'edible mushrooms'.  The most common of these are the white mushrooms or button mushrooms many of us use in cooking. A couple other popular edible mushrooms are the Portobello and the shiitake mushrooms. 


(c) Wednesday Elf

We have always been told that the mushroom is a fungi, but to further classify it, the Department of Agriculture considers mushrooms to be vegetables because they provide many of the same nutritional attributes of vegetables. For a complete history of the edible mushroom, click here.

Celebrating Mushroom Day


There are numerous ways to eat mushrooms and dozens of dishes which use mushrooms as an ingredient. To celebrate Day-of-the-Mushroom you probably should fix a favorite mushroom recipe.

I never ate mushrooms as a child, being a very fussy eater who wouldn't 'try' new things. So it wasn't until I was grown, married and a parent that I was introduced to a mushroom treat that changed the way I thought about mushrooms forever more! 


Crab Stuffed Mushrooms by Small Town Woman

We had moved to the Central Coast of California near San Luis Obispo and a new neighbor invited us over.  There were several appetizers prior to the meal, one of which was a plate of Atascadero Stuffed Mushrooms. Now, Atascadero Mushrooms are well known in the central coast area of California. This was our first introduction to these mushrooms. They look like button mushrooms, but are very large.

Our host had fixed them by cutting off the stems, chopping them and mixing them with crabmeat, bread crumbs & seasonings then stuffing them back into the base of the mushroom cap, sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top and popping them in the oven. The taste ~ unbelievably good. I became a mushroom fan immediately. 

If you want to try your own crab-stuffed mushrooms, this recipe on a blog by Small Town Woman for Quick and Creamy Crab Stuffed Mushrooms sounds fabulous and close to the stuffed mushrooms which won me over to being a mushroom lover.

Mushroom Decor and More…


The mushroom has become so popular over the years, that it is enjoyed in more ways than just as food.  Many home décor items are decorated with scenes of mushrooms and mushrooms appear on wearable items such as T-shirts. 



The mushroom has even become a fun toy item. 


Mushroom Garden Interactive Toy

I love this colorful Mushroom Garden educational interactive toddler toy.  It lights up, has music and fun sounds, and teaches colors and numbers. It also has a memory game. Tots have fun and learn at the same time. 



So enjoy the DAY-OF-THE-MUSHROOM on April 16. 



Related Mushroom Dates:


  • Stuffed Mushroom Day – February 4
  • National Mushroom Day – October 14



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Holiday Review written by Wednesday Elf







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