Thursday, February 26, 2015

Defined by Others by MCV Egan, Book Review

General Information
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: IntroSpective Press
Published: December 11, 2014

Book Summary:(Per GoodReads)
A word, a single word defines a moment for Anne. She needs to find a new one when her spouse leaves her at the age of 47, coming out of the closet literally in a closet. She finds herself back in her hometown amongst her high school friends which she left behind in her past.

An inheritance from a friend leaves her with the means to meddle and spy on the lives of some of their mutual acquaintances. In an attempt to run from her reality Anne gets engrossed in a game of "fun" and "flirtation" with her friend and fellow sufferer Connie at her side. Anne however did not read all the files and what to her is fun games turns into a deadly reality. It is no longer a game.

Life, death and not even a defining word can stop the reality of manipulation.

My Thoughts:
Kept me guessing and on my toes the entire read.  Playfully showed how technology and issues such as catfishing are not just for the teenage or YA audience. At times I thought I knew how it was going to end or the next twist, and while I was correct on a few aspects, I was not correct for the entire ending...which I love!  This story shares about love, friendship, relationships, the idea of how the image we present may not be the actual story, and ties in how high school and certain moments in time can have a lasting impact.

You, if you are like me at all, will laugh, gasp and end up questioning what would I do in those situations? The intrigue, the play on catfishing and fantastic ability to discuss some serious issues in a captivating, humorous and enlightening way is just a hint of why you as a reader will enjoy this story greatly.  The way the story came together was so clear in my mind it was like reading a movie or show.  I could also see it as a play because of the comedic timing of certain lines, the intricate play on keeping people on certain pages, but still having the concern about who knows what. 

While a bit irreverent for the seriousness of what happens in a certain part of the book, I must admit upon reflection these two songs came to mind.  Additionally it made me smile and remember many of the hilarious parts of the book, which I felt it largely was made up funny and entertaining antidotes.

Bowling for Soup~ High School Never Ends

Cher~ Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

Important Links:

Links to Purchase the Book:

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lush, a brand, a description and a review

So recently I have found that I am reacting to many of my go to brands for skin care.  I usually have utilized the Mary Kay Time wise skin care line and I LOVE it!  Well, the last few months I have been having rashes, extreme itching,etc.  It was suggested I stop all my makeup and skin products and slowly add them in.  As I started to do that I found that all my itching and redness on my neck and eyes stopped when I was not using the Time wise skin care.  When I re-introduced in a month was a worse reaction than ever before.

So after that long intro where am I going with this!  I had a lot of people tell me about Lush.  That while some products come into contact or use wheat in them, it is all natural, cruelty free, handmade, vegetarian, works great, etc.  I will admit I was hesitent to try it because I do not live near a store, I do not and did not want to break out again in hives or rashes, etc.  My other concern was and is that some of these items are a bit on the pricey side. But I still took a deep breath and made a purchase, albeit a safe one!  I ordered the following two items...which admittedly do not directly touch my face!
The Pearl Massage Bar
Superbalm Scalp Treatment

I must say I love these two products!  The massage bar is just glorious.  It smells great, makes my skin feel great (it actually stops any itching from dry patches, rough skin, etc.) and helps the soreness in my muscles.  When I read that at first I was like how...but those sharp bits in the bar actually do scrape/scratch at your skin and get into the muscle with the oils.  
The scalp treatment is AMAZING.  Ever since I started reacting more seriously to certain foods and items my hair and scalp has also changed.  I have tried tons of shampoos and treatments guaranteed to help dry scalp and curly hair to no avail.  This treatment though does help.  Now, it is not a cure or fix all.  I have to use it weekly because I still have a dry scalp after a few days, but it makes it where my scalp does not have flakes, it does not itch, etc. A word to the wise though...make sure to shampoo your hair very good after using it so that your roots do not stay oily or full of treatment residue!
Based off of these two products and how my skin has improved and not reacted I plan on trying their skin moisturizer for sensitive skin and a cleanser.  I will do a follow up post once I choose them, get them and utilize them for a bit.

Have you tried Lush?  What products have you tried? What would you recommend?  Any other safe brands out there for us individuals with gluten or other sensitivities in need of skin care?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Pragg, Book Review

General Information
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Published: December 30, 2014

Book Summary:(Per GoodReads)
Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:
This book has it all.  A fantastically well-written and constructed story that will become a beloved addition to many a story collection.  The characters provide an adventure that includes love, family, intrigue, suspense, a wee bit of magic, appreciation of fashion, the inner doubts that many face and more.  I enjoyed all the great twists and turns that the story brought into the mix, and did it so well.

This story has some sub stories interwoven into the words and characters seamlessly.  These sub stories caught me by surprise at times and I never quite knew how they would impact the main characters at any given moment.  I have to say that I love the way all the characters were impacted by individuals decisions and the overall conclusion for each person.  

The author writes in a way where you feel the emotions and the depth of these emotions clearly from the beginning.  The insight Menna has into the human psyche and thoughts is fantastic and quite prevalent in the words.

Important Links:

Links to Purchase the Book:

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Toffee-tastic, girl scout cookies, gluten free review

Straight up these cookies are amazing.  So good, so fun and did not hurt my stomach at all.  The only two negatives (in my book anyway) are that each box is $5 and that the box only contains 1 row of cookies which equals 14 cookies total.  I kid you not, you will like these cookies so much that after 14 cookies you are like wait more please. Though, knowing there is only 14 I have allocated 2-4 cookies a day:) So maybe that shouldn't be a negative but a yay and thank you for keeping me on my diet:)-  Additionally, while the cost is somewhat high I can appreciate all the goodness that the money goes to in supporting the girl scouts, their goals and opportunities!

I have not had a chance to try the gluten free girl scout cookies before (my area did not sell them last year), but after trying these this year I hope that girl scouts keep making more gluten free options and selling them in more areas!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pure Beauty

I have been loving this song for a while now, but when I saw the news and video of this dance to the song..just gorgeous...breathless..enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Angel by Laura Lee, Book Review

Book Summary: (Per Amazon's summary)
Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray. 

Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do. 

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.

My Thoughts:
Audio format;
      I wasn't sure what to think when I first started this review.  I had never listened to a book before.  It was my first time using audible and I had a hard time getting into the gist of listening rather than reading.  I am a quick reader so it was a shock to me to see that this book would be taking me longer to experience than normally (hello over six hours).

The book itself upon reflection is an excellent literary work. However, I would recommend it be read rather than listened to.  The voices reflecting the characters, mainly Paul's, did not keep me engaged.  The voice for Ian did a better job showing the different emotions and keeping my attention captured, but since Paul's voice was the dominant voice I did struggle to focus on the true excellence that Laura demonstrates with her mastery of words and story telling.  I did listen to two more books after this book and review to ensure that it was not just me not liking this media format, but that I did in fact have a problem with the voice for this philosophical approach to an oft discussed topic of homosexuality and romance in religion.

The Story:
     The amount of theology and poetry before each chapter and woven throughout the story is perfectly placed and what I enjoyed most about this story.  In the audio format I did get lost in the poetry about Mt. Rainer, but after I rewound it and listened again I enjoyed this artistic view of nature. I did not feel I was reading a religion book or a romance, rather I felt this was an interesting take on how relationships can be seen and felt with society's take and the differing religious stances.

"Faith its like listen to whatever I say and don't question it...I don't like it"~ Ian

"Men are selfish shits..that what I say."~Ian

"I mean isn't canabalism a bad thing?"~Ian

"We just went from gay sex to the bible in thirty seconds, that has to be some kind of record." "Do you think we can get in Guiness."

Important Links

Links Where you can Purchase:
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Favorites~ Books

I have been reviewing books for a few months now and I am loving it!  So many new authors, stories, lands and adventures.  While almost all of the books I have read have been very good I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorite books this month! If you click on the Title above the picture it will take you to my review on the book.

What were some of your favorites this month? I hope you enjoy seeing this and until next month keep sharing some books for me to try out..they might just make my favorites list!!

So Delicious Greek Style Yogurt, GF & DF Review

I can only begin to explain how excited I was when my local Harris Teeter started carrying So Delicious Greek Style Yogurt!  I love is truly one of my favorite snacks, treats, meals, etc.  I think it might be the best food staple a person can have...want something sweet..yogurt can be your friend, need a breakfast..why hello yogurt.

But then..oh then I started reacting to gluten and dairy laden food...seriously still cry worthy in my mind.  Bubye yogurt..hello..well still not sure!  Then I started the research train and found So Delicious milks and their website said yogurt...I just couldn't find it locally..until NOW!

The price is well honestly it is pricey.  I have found them with almond milk and coconut milk.

My store has them for 1.59 a in EACH..but when you eat them any irritation goes away.  I have tried vanilla and blueberry and loved them!  I did still get a hint of almond with the almond milk varieties, so if you are adverse to almond flavor items you might want to just try one before you buy several!
The cocunut milk varieties are my favorite though!  I have tried all but the chocolate one (haven't found it) and they are davoon.  I mean each flavor is a treat and so delicious.  I have used the plain with fruit and granola, cooking or just by itself and it works fantastically

So the only con I have is the price and that is because I like to eat one (or more) a day and if you are on a budget (I am) it can push that budget to its limit!

Have you tried their yogurt?  What did you think?