Family Dining at Paramount Fine Foods

We are an extremely busy family with two kids in competitive soccer, both working full time and owning my small business. It can be very hard to find the time to sit down and spend quality time with each other. But this is very important to us and also what makes those moments so special.

We recently visited Paramount Fine Foods in Mississauga – a treasure of a find tucked away on Crestlawn Drive. If you are not familiar with the restaurant, Paramount Fine Foods is the fastest growing Middle Eastern food chain in Canada with over 60 restaurants across the country. You can find all of their locations here.

This elegant restaurant (with exquisite attention to detail) offers something for everyone. You can enjoy incredible, mouth watering recipes in a warm and inviting environment. And the kids – they can enjoy the Kids playground once they are done eating or while you are waiting on your food order.

For our visit, we ordered Manakeesh and the mixed combo platter. This was my kids and my first time trying Middle Eastern cuisine, while my husband has had it several times. We were not disappointed at all. We loved the Manakeesh, we ordered it with just cheese and it hit the spot.

We could not get over how much food was on the mixed combo platter., everything looked and tasted divine. We loved how the platter offered enough of each of our favourites – chicken, beef, rice and fries! They also have a fantastic kids menu, which had chicken fingers for the picky eater in our family. He managed to eat a little bit of everything.

I loved that we could all dive right in and share the same dishes, it made the experience feel like we were at home. Our youngest even said Mom – this tastes like home cooking but better! Which at first, I gave him the stink eye thinking he was making fun of my cooking but he was trying to say the food tasted real and healthy. Which, as any parent of a picky eater knows, is a win- win.

Our kids get full fast (I wish I had this problem!) so it was incredibly helpful that Paramount Fine Foods had a closed in Kids Playground that he could use while he waited for Mom and Dad to finish up. He felt comfortable coming and going from the table to the playground, and never felt that he was disrupting others.

For all my parents looking for an amazing evening out at a restaurant that not only has great food but is also welcoming to children, Paramount Fine Foods is a great option for you on your next family night out!

Make sure to check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with events and new menu items.

Disclosure: We were hosted at Paramount Fine Foods to experience their location. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Healer’s Daughter Book Review

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Can these three women defeat ISIL terrorists, criminal oligarchs, and corrupt officials? Can they even survive?

About The Healer’s Daughter

A terrorist bombing in Bergama, Turkey kills twenty-three people including three children. Modern Bergama is built on the site of ancient Pergamon, a city whose art and wealth and culture rivaled Athens. It was also the home of the Aesklepion, the world’s greatest healing center, and the birthplace of Galen, the Roman Empire’s most famous doctor.

Tuğçe Iskan, a Turkish Ministry investigator, finds evidence that links the terrorism to a powerful criminal family and to Galen’s life and Pergamon’s lost treasures. But Iskan is alone, an outcast in the Ministry because she is honest, diligent, and a woman.

As Iskan delves more deeply into the heinous attack, she needs allies outside the Ministry. She must turn to Özlem Boroğlu, a local archeologist, and Boroğlu’s daughter Elif, an artist with an affinity for ancient Aegean goddesses. Can these three women defeat ISIL terrorists, criminal oligarchs, and corrupt officials? Can they even survive?

My Thoughts

The Healer’s Daughter is a thrilling novel that takes you on a political, cultural and historical journey. It is the type of novel that you just can’t put down as it pulls you right in with the injustice and corruption.

The novel takes place mainly in present time but pulls in historical events through Galen, the Roman Empire’s most famous doctor. The novel starts off with a terrorist bombing in Bergama, Turkey which kills twenty three local residents and tourists. From here, we plunge right in to this fast paced story.

The novel has several layers as we learn about Galen (his teachings), archaeological findings and plundering by black markets to sell these artifacts, as well as terrorists and an element of spirituality. The story centres around Ozlem and her family. Ozlem is a local archaeologist who finds evidence of a long hidden treasure. This sparks interest by several wealthy collectors who want to sell this item on the black market. These same individuals are protected by local and international government and use ruthless methods to get what they want.

This finding sets off a series of events that centre around Ozlem, her family and her colleagues that involves betrayal, murder, bombings, deception, greed and so much more. Ozlem and her daughter have to think several steps ahead and keep themselves firm in their beliefs in order to stay alive.

This novel had an excellent pace and the plot was incredible. I have never read a book like this before and it kept me engaged throughout the whole novel. I loved how we had glimpses of the past that connected to the present and even had meaning and guidance for our future. It is a truly special novel that you will not want to put down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amika Press.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Jay Amberg is the author of twelve books. He received a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD from Northwestern University. He has taught high school and college students since 1972. His latest book, The Healer’s Daughters, is now available from Amika Press. Amberg has also published Bone Box, Cycle, America’s Fool, Whale Song, and compiled 52 Poems for Men. Prior to Amika Press, Amberg published thriller novels Doubloon (Forge), Blackbird Singing (Forge) and Deep Gold (Warner Books). Among his books on teaching are School Smarts and The Study Skills Handbook, published by Good Year. Amberg wrote The Creative Writing Handbook (Good Year) with Mark Henry Larson and Verbal Review and Workbook for the SAT (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) with Bob Boone.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Root of Murder Book Review

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Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case.

About The Root of Murder

Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case. Each mystery is special in its own right—especially for the family of the victim.The homicide of a successful executive, husband, and father seems open and shut when the murder weapon is found in his estranged son-in-law’s possession. The circumstantial evidence is so damning that when her step-son, J.J. Thornton, agrees to act as the defendant’s public defender, he assumes his first murder case will be a loss. Only the report of a missing husband proves that this case is not as open and shut as it seems. Strap on your seat belts for a wild ride in this mystery rooted in decades of deception that sprouts into murder

My Thoughts

Root of Murder is another incredible story from Lauren Carr that you will not be able to put down. She leaves you biting your nails, guessing at every turn and never truly kowing what is coming next.

In this book, we have a murder that looks like it should be open and closed very quickly with one very guilty looking son-in-law. But as the story unravels, we find many twists and interesting turns that brings some dark family secrets to light and forces you to question every person’s motives. What seemed like a simple case becomes so much more with many different layers.

Without giving too much away, Lauren has a magical way of intertwining different plots at strategic points throughout the novel that keeps you on your toes. While there are many characters, you don’t feel overwhelmed or lost at any point in the novel (she also includes a list of characters that you can refer back to if you do get lost). You do have to pay attention as the plot unravels, otherwise you may miss key parts that may have a major impact on the way the story turns out. I loved that throughout the whole novel, I never saw the end coming – the book was far from predictable.

I love the way Lauren writes and this novel is one of her best. She has a way of taking a story and making you laugh, cry, worry and feel sorrow. You don’t want to put her books down – which was the case with this story – I had to read it in one sitting! I love how she brings her characters to life and you become connected with them. Each new novel, you get to learn a little bit more about them and you can’t help but feel a deep connection to them.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Thorny Rose, Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries—over twenty titles across four fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and two spoiled rotten German shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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How To Love a Duke in Ten Days Book Review

Love takes no prisoners in How To Love A Duke in Ten Days.

About How To Love a Duke in Ten Days

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past―one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

My Thoughts

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is an excellent story from start to finish – I could not put it down!

We follow the story of Lady Alexandra Lane – who is strong, independent and fearless. She also holds a secret that she fears getting out, although it is a secret that is not her fault and that she should not be ashamed of. It is a secret that has followed her and has negatively affected her relationships and confidence in herself. On top of all of this, she is being blackmailed about this secret! She would do anything to keep this a secret – even marry one of the richest bachelors – who also has quite the reputation of being evil.

Piers is a misunderstood character – where people see a monster, Alexandra sees him for who he truly is. He may be a bit dark and damaged but he is also kind, compassionate and sees Alexandra and loves her for who she is. Their chemistry in this story is incredible and leaves you craving more. They have such an intense spark!

This is a well written, exciting novel that I could not put down. I loved the two main characters – they find forgiveness and healing through their love and this allows them to put their past behind them and move forward. It is also a story of survival – Alexandra may have been a victim and this changed her view and the way she interacts with the world but it also made her a fighter. I loved how she grew and developed throughout the story.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is a definite must read novel that you will not be able to put down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, USA Today bestseller Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Find Courage, Creativity, Compassion and the Artistic Spark with Beautiful Picture Books from Raincoast Books

With back to school right around the corner (the countdown is on), it is important to nurture your child’s creativity, compassion and confidence in themselves. Books have a magical way of taking us on an adventure where we can be anything we want to be and will take risks we may not always be brave enough to do. Books can also spark a passion and love for a subject area – I find there is nothing a good book cannot do.

These beautiful, picture books from Raincoast books bring together fantastic stories that will encourage and support your child in their dreams and passion.

I Have an Idea!

Join the magical hunt for one little idea: From one of the true creative geniuses of this generation comes a unique meditation on and celebration of the magic of the birth of a simple idea. Sparkling with visual wit and bubbling with imagination, I Have an Idea! is a richly emotional exploration of the creative process: from an initial tentative inkling, to the frustration of chasing the wrong notion, to finally the exhilaration of capturing-and nurturing-just the right idea. I Have an Idea! is a scrumptious cloth-spined package of color and inspiration equally at home on a child’s bookshelf, in a new graduate’s backpack, or atop a creative’s desk.

About the Author: Herve Tullet is known for his prodigious versatility, from directing ad campaigns to designing fabric for Hermes. But his real love is working with children, for whom he has published dozens of books, including the New York Times bestsellers Mix It Up!Let’s Play!Say Zoop!, and Press Here . He lives in New York City.

Our Thoughts: Children have this wonderful way of looking at the world, of seeing change and being excited to be an agent of change. This beautiful and simple book encourages creativity and sparking new ideas. It explores how ideas can come from out of nowhere or from anywhere, we sometimes make mistakes (but this is okay) and sometimes we soar! Sometimes ideas can be hard to come up with, whether it is writing an essay, coming up with an art project or coming up with a solution at work and it is so important to think outside of the box. We need to learn to look with eyes and mind open and then we will be open to finding. I loved the simplicity of this book, it was easy to read and follow – the illustrations were simple and stayed with the same colour patterns of blue, yellow and red. The illustrations were childlike which I loved – I think we all need to find that child in us and this will help us tackle anything in life.

You can learn more about I Have an Idea here.

Rabbit and the Motorbike

Rabbit isn’t sure he’ll ever be brave enough to go on an adventure. He’s a homebody who lives in a quiet field of wheat he dreams of leaving every night. His world is enlarged by his friend Dog and Dog’s tales of motorbike adventures. But one day, Dog is gone, and with him, go the stories Rabbit loves so much. Dare Rabbit pick up the motorbike and live his own story? This timeless fable of the journey from grief to acceptance will touch every reader. For those confronting loss and those eager to explore and experience, Rabbit’s bravery in the face of sadness will console, nurture, and inspire.

About the Illustrator: Sarah Jacoby grew up wandering the woods outside of Philadelphia. She now draws for many people and places, including the New York Times, and she is the author and illustrator of Forever or a Day . She lives in Philadelphia.

About the Author: Kate Hoefler received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where she studied as a Colby Fellow. She is the author of Real Cowboys and Great Big Things . She lives in a quiet village in Ohio where she can hear the distant sounds of the highway.

Our Thoughts: This is a beautiful story of the power of friendship and being brave. Rabbit is scared of change and the world around him – he is not comfortable with the unknown. His friend, Dog, understands this and supports him and always makes time for Rabbit, ensuring he feels loved and shares in his adventures through his stories. When Dog is gone, Rabbit feels alone and empty. He has his friend’s motorbike – the bike that he took around the world visiting new places. At times, the bike calls out to Rabbit but he is still too scared. He is too scared of the unknown and change. Then one day, he gathers the courage to go just up the street on his dear friend’s motorbike but what he doesn’t realize is how long that road is and how much he would enjoy. This was the experience he didn’t even know he needed! This is a beautiful story of loss, accepting our fears and being able to step outside of our comfort zones – important messaging for our youth especially now. We loved every moment of this beautifully illustrated and written story.

You can learn more about Rabbit and the Motorbike here.

Claris: Fashion Show Fiasco

It’s Fashion Week in Paris and there is no way Claris is missing the show of her favourite designer! But when a fashion emergency occurs, will Claris and Monsieur be able to make it to the show in time to save the day?

The Claris series follows an adorable mouse who moves to Paris to follow her fashion dreams. Can Claris use all her wit, warmth and – of course – style to make her dreams come true?

About the Author: Megan Hess is an acclaimed fashion illustrator who works with some of the most prestigious fashion designers and luxury brands around the world, such as Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Montblanc and Tiffany & Co. She is the official illustrator for Bloomingdales New York, and completed the cover artwork for all of Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell’s books, as well as a private commission for Michelle Obama, and has collaborated with Gwyneth Paltrow for the ‘Blo’ Blow Dry Bar campaign. TheClaris Collection is her first children’s book series.

Our Thoughts: I fell in love with this book the moment I saw it – from its glittery and fun cover to the adorable Claris, how can you resist not falling in love? Claris is quite the chic mouse and I love how the story is told with flair and in beautiful pinks, gold, black, white and pastels.

Claris lives in Paris, in a flat with two parents and a brat (the way I laughed – and yes she is a brat!). Claris loves fashion and designing dresses and she cannot wait to attend Fashion Week. She creates the most beautiful dress but almost misses out! This takes on her quite the journey (with help from friends) in order to get her to the show on time.

This is a wonderful story with a mix of French words that any young fashion designer will love. I loved the story and warmth of Claris – while she is one chic and fashionable mouse, friendship and kindness come first. This will make a beautiful gift for any young creative, fashion forward child.

You can learn more about Claris: Fashion Show Fiasco here.

A Life Made by Hand

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkerssuch as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.

About the Author: Andrea D’Aquino is an artist and author. Her previous books include an illustrated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Once Upon a Piece of Paper . Her work appears in magazines and newspapers around the world. She lives in New York City.

Our Thoughts: This is a beautifully told and illustrated story of artist, Ruth Asawa. She is an artist that I did not know about but we loved learning about. She came from humble beginnings, and like many artists saw the beauty in everything around her. In college, she explored the world of art – learning, engaging and immersing herself in every aspect. It was in Mexico, where she learned the art of wire basket weaving. I have never seen wire baskets but on a trip to Zimbabwe – I was amazed at the skill and beauty that local artists could create with wire and bottle caps! Ruth took this teaching and became famous for her work in wire sculptures – which are admired and loved in museums. The book highlights her work and her love and connection to the natural world. The author highlights some of her life moments at the back of the book, including when her family was forcibly relocated to an internment camp in the US during World War II. The book is a beautiful tribute to a special artist, that many young artists can connect with. It also includes instructions on how to create your own paper dragonfly! It is beautifully written and illustrated, honouring this very talented artist.

You can learn more about A Life Made by Hand here.

Make sure to follow Raincoast Books on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with the newest releases and more.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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