August 27, 2010

Giveaway Winner for Nature Valley Prize Pack!

The giveaway for the Nature Valley Prize Pack is now officially over. I used randomizer to determine the winner, and the winner is Cheryl F! I will be contacting you right now to get the details on where to send your prize.

If you didn’t win, don’t be discouraged. You still have time to enter the Pillsbury Sweet Moments Giveaway, it ends on August 30, 2010.

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Nature Valley for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Nature Valley through MyBlogSpark.

August 24, 2010

29 Things to Know About Catholicism by Sue Marquette Poremba

Catholicism is not often understood by outsiders. 29 Things to Know About Catholicism by Sue Marquette Poremba helps to clarify what Catholicism is really all about.

Book Description
“The Pope. The Holy Eucharist. The Blessed Virgin Mary. The Seven Sacraments. Catholicism is filled with great mysteries, so you’ve 
probably been confused about this 2,000-year-old religion at one time or another. In 29 Things To Know About Catholicism, the Catholic Church’s beliefs are explored in easy-to-understand terms for the devout Catholic and the curious non-Catholic alike.

This quick go-to guide helps answer these questions:

• Was the Catholic Church the first Christian church?

• Do Catholics worship Mary and pray to saints?

• How do I know what to do in Mass with all its Latin chants and prayers, kneeling, holy water, confession, and communion?

• Does the communion bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ?

• Can the priest—a human—forgive sins?”
– 29 Things to Know About Catholicism

My Thoughts
I was baptized and raised Catholic. I’m pretty familiar with everything that goes on in a Catholic Mass and also know quite a bit about the church as a whole. Those Sunday CCD classes really helped with that, even though to be quite honest, most of the time I was really just more interested in the art projects we did.

I don’t go to church regularly though, so 29 Things to Know About Catholicism did help me to remember what I had forgotten from those early Sunday morning teachings. Even though I was raised Catholic, I did learn new things about Catholicism from this book. Now that I live in a heavily populated area of Southern Baptists, I see that they do not understand Catholicism at all – most even think Catholics are “bad” or other negative things. Personally, I would never participate in a religion that puts another one down and preaches to you by yelling, but to each their own I guess. This book would help those confused about Catholicism immensely.

29 Things to Know About Catholicism is the go-to book for those seeking more information in an easy to read format about Catholicism. I recommend it for all those wanting to learn more about the religion, or even for those just wanting to brush up on the basics, like I did.

* Thank you to the publisher of 29 Things to Know About Catholicism, Turner Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 23, 2010

Dover - Fairy Fashion Review

Fairy Fashion is a beautiful coloring book for the more grown up girl. It has a magical mixture of winged fairies to enchant you while you color. The fairies are dressed exquisitely and are stunningly illustrated.

I love just looking at all the fairies in this book. They are really fabulous and each seems to have a life of their own just waiting for you to color in some way.

This coloring book is great for scanning and then printing out to do whatever you wish with. This helps save the image for you to reuse again and again! Of course you could also color in the images in your coloring book with crayons, markers, paint or anything you want too.

Here is what my fairy looks like after I scanned, printed and then colored in with markers:

Fairy Fashion is a really fantastic coloring book for Kindergarteners and up. I think anyone that loves fairies would very much like this coloring book to add new fairies to their projects or to simply color-in.

Dover offers free samples sent directly to you each week – sign up!

Thank you to Dover Publications for providing me with Fairy Fashions for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Giveaway + Review – Pillsbury Sweet Moments

Chocolate and spa products are a great way to relax and have some “me” time. We all need it, and probably don’t get it often as we may need/want it. Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark are trying to help us have some more quality time to enjoy ourselves.

Pillsbury’s new Sweet Moments Bite-Size and Molten Lava Brownies are absolutely heaven! They are easy to make and only have 60 calories per brownie, which makes it totally worth indulging in (even if on a diet). They are layered in rich caramel or fudge and chocolaty coating that satisfy my sweet tooth, and probably yours too. I just wish they were gluten-free so I could eat them without getting ill. My Mom however loved them more than she could say, and plans on buying them each week (perhaps to torture me, or I mean enjoy herself).

Sweet Moments Prize Pack Giveaway:
I have one prize pack available to win from Pillsbury provided by MyBlogSpark which includes a VIP coupon for one of the new Pillsbury Sweet Moments and a chocolate spa kit.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly. In your comment, share when the best time of day for you to use this prize pack for a sweet moment for yourself.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest will end on August 30, 2010
Good luck!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark.

August 22, 2010

Neighborhood Watch by Cammie McGovern

Neighborhood Watch by Cammie McGovern is a story that takes you behind the reality of suburban life. Betsy Treading was a librarian and married, but everything turns upside down when she is sent to prison for the murder of her neighbor!

Book Description
“A riveting and frightening tale of false accusation from the author of Eye Contact

Twelve years ago librarian Betsy Treading was convicted of murdering her neighbor, the bohemian loner Linda Sue. After DNA testing finally exonerates Betsy, she returns to her suburban community determined to salvage her life and find the true killer. As she begins to pick apart the web of secrets, lies, and love affairs uncovered in the wake of her trial, Betsy suspects that her tight-lipped neighbors may know something that she has denied even to herself.

In Neighborhood Watch, Cammie McGovern captures the nail-biting electricity of the best literary thrillers and zeros in on the subterranean tension abuzz in a town whose dark secrets threaten to obliterate the glossy façade of a perfect life. It is also the story of a woman coming into her own, finding her strength, and taking control of her life. It asks readers, what sort of price would you pay for the sake of your reputation? Intricately woven, psychologically astute, and filled with complex and surprising characters, Neighborhood Watch marks a significant step in the career of this talented author.”
– Neighborhood Watch

My Thoughts
Neighborhood Watch is a story that really brings together Desperate Housewives, CSI and perhaps a little bit of soap opera drama at its best.

The story of Betsy’s life is quite sad and as a reader you feel very sympathetic with everything she has endured in her life – and not just the prison sentence she was never guilty for. I actually quite liked the portions where she explains how prison life was really like and the people she met in there.

There are so many colorful characters that lived on Juniper Lane when the murder happened that it could be anybody who really killed Linda Sue. As soon as Betsey is released, she is on a mission to figure out who the real killer was. This brings on a series of events that not even I would have guessed. No spoilers here, you have to read it to be shocked and amazed yourself!

I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves a good murder mystery and suspense book. It is easily read in a few afternoons (at most) and is very enjoyable. I do caution though that once you start, you’ll want to keep reading!

* Thank you to the publisher of Neighborhood Watch, Viking for providing me with a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 21, 2010

Academagia Review

Academagia: The Making of Mages is a role playing video game that takes place at a magic academy in Mineta. You choose your character’s starting stats and background, which depending on how you want to play can vary greatly. You arrive as a First Year student at the Academy of Magic where you’ll attend class, learn magic, make friends (and enemies), train a familiar and embark on adventures and explore your new surroundings.


• Interact with over 80 Students
• Maneuver through more than 800 possible Random Events
• Set out upon any of over 100 Adventures
• Explore hundreds of Skills
• Cast Spells from the five Pillars of Magic, or learn the Forbidden Arts
• Add new effects to existing Spells as you master the vocabulary of Magic
• Discover and visit mysterious castles, ruins, shops and secret hide-outs
• Teach, train and adventure with a Familiar from one of dozens of species
• Enjoy nearly endless replayability and scope

My Thoughts
This is a video game that is text based. There are some beautiful images but it is not an animated style of video game most are probably used to these days. This is more reminiscent of a video game from the 80s with a Harry Potter style magic academy. This helps with the low game size and equally low system settings. Also allows it to load extremely fast and wasn’t ever laggy for me at all.

The character creation is quite limited. The background offers many choices, but doesn’t allow you to pick very many of those choices, probably so your character isn’t too advanced to start with.

The tutorial comes in the form of a letter left on your bed from the student who used to inhabit your bedroom. Funny and explains the basics in the game rather well.

I enjoyed playing the game and advancing my character in the studies I chose. However, it gets very repetitive. Attending class, studying, training, etc. becomes a bit dull. After I finally completed my first year at the Academy of Magic, I was sad and annoyed to see that not much of anything exciting happened and the credits rolled concluding The End of the game. I wanted to go on to the next years after I spent so much time learning the skills!

Overall, it was fun while I played and I did enjoy the storyline (which seems to be a lost art among many games these days). However, how it ends and the repetitiveness of finishing even the one year makes me not really want to play it again. It is fun enough to give it a go for the first time around.

I hope you enjoyed my Academagia review. I have more video game reviews coming soon!

* Thank you to the publisher of Academagia, Black Chicken Studios and Gamers Gate for providing me a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it.

August 20, 2010

True Blood Rolling Stone Cover

I love Tue Blood and I subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. I was pretty excited when I saw this True Blood Rolling Stone cover in my mailbox.

I saw it on our local morning talk show on ABC a few days before I received it. I live in Alabama so they obviously did not have the same reaction of it being “hot” as I did. They were blowing it way out of proportion.

Sure, True Blood nakedness is not anything new, if you watch the show… and Rolling Stone certainly has had much riskier covers. So really what is the big deal?

Have you seen this Rolling Stone cover before now? What do you think?

Dover Coloring Box – Fairies

The Dover Coloring Box Fairy boxset is a perfect gift for the girl or boy that you know that loves fairies, or perhaps the best way to feel like a kid again yourself.

Set Includes:
• Colorable Box
• Fairyland Hidden Pictures: 24 ready to color hidden pictures
• Garden Fairy Alphabet Coloring Book: fairies and flowers for each letter of the alphabet
• 11x16 two-sided color your own poster
• Crayons

Fairies are one of my favorite magical creatures and being able to color them in really makes me feel like a kid again. I loved coloring when I was young and actually won quite a few coloring contests (and some really great prizes from it too). Coloring was one of the favorite things my Mom and I would do together.

Who would have thought that years later I’d be asking her to color some fairies with me? Well, I did and we colored in some beautiful fairies from this collection and made some new refrigerator art, which is something I haven’t done for many years!

It was a fun afternoon to spend reminiscing about stories from when I was a kid and learning how cute I was. This time though we had “adult drinks” and I think I colored much better (I used some colored pencils I had already). :)

Dover is so fantastic that they even offer sample pages for this set that you can check out, download and print out and color yourself. If you like free samples, then sign up to get new ones each week, too!

I highly recommend this boxset from Dover. It would make a fun gift for a kid, or for yourself – so really you can’t go wrong there! I would however suggest purchasing a bigger set of crayons or colored pencils to go with it to make it that much more fantastic.

Thank you to Dover Publications for providing me with this set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 19, 2010

Giveaway + Review – Nature Valley – National Parks Project

Nature Valley is a fantastic company with some equally fabulous granola bars. What makes me love them even more now though is that they are helping to preserve our National Parks. Companies that give back in a great way make me smile and also want to help out.

Nature Valley granola bars are one of the top granola bars and snacks my family enjoys. It is healthy and gives good nutrition, which is something that isn’t always so easy to find. The prize pack that was sent me to me has so many fun goodies in it (besides the yummy granola). I really enjoyed flipping through the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and seeing which ones I’ve been to already and where I want to go before I die. Love it!

About the National Parks Project
Since the dedication of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park in 1872, America’s parks have been visited by hundreds of millions of people who marveled at their beauty, found peace in their wildness and shared their experience with others.

However, these national treasures need care and support to help them flourish. Years of underfunding and environmental problems such as pollution and climate change are threatening our National Park system. To help preserve our national parks and ensure their existence for generations to come, join Nature Valley® and Patricia Shultz, internationally best-selling author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and travel industry leader, to help support the National Parks Project. This year, the National Parks Project will focus on restorative work at Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Biscayne National Parks.

To get involved, simply purchase a box of specially marked Nature Valley Bars and mail in your wrappers to the address below:

National Parks Project
PO Box 450328
El Paso, TX 88545-0328

Nature Valley will not only recycle the wrappers, but will also contribute $0.10 to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) for every wrapper received (up to $600,000 in total). To learn more about the National Parks Project and how you can make a difference, check out today. And don’t forget to visit Nature Valley on Facebook or Nature Valley on Twitter to “Like” or “Follow” the brand. Facebook fans can enter to win a trip, as well as share photos and videos of their summer vacations. All of these sites will also feature updates on the restoration projects, as well as videos and pictures from “National Parks Project” volunteers.

Nature Valley Prize Pack Giveaway:
I have one prize pack available to win from Nature Valley provided by MyBlogSpark which includes a mini backpack; a military grade compass; a solar-powered, key chain flash light; a reusable water bottle and a copy of Patricia Shultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly. In your comment, share an experience with me about visiting a National Park, or tell me which one you would love to visit one day with your family.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest will end on August 26, 2010
Good luck!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Nature Valley for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Nature Valley through MyBlogSpark.

Do It Gorgeously by Sophie Uliano

How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products

Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is something more people are striving towards. When one first starts moving in the green direction though, it can seem a bit overwhelming. Do it Gorgeously by Sophie Uliano teaches in this book how easy it can be while still being gorgeous.

Book Description
“It’s official: In these tough times, clueless is out—and crafty is in. For both financial and environmental reasons, life is all about doing well with what you have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be fabulous. Do It Gorgeously shows you how to make nearly everything you would otherwise purchase: From the kitchen to the nursery, from your medicine cabinet to your makeup drawer, you’ll be astounded by how easy and inexpensive it is to make safe and eco-friendly products for your family. You deserve to have it all—and now you can do it yourself!” - Do It Gorgeously

My Thoughts
Eco-friendly products can be very expensive. However, Uliano suggests grabbing some friends and sharing the expense of some of the essential oils and other ingredients needed in her beauty recipes to then make and share. I think this is a fabulous idea! Not only can you have a girls night making fun beauty products, you then get to use them and feel gorgeous!

Uliano writes in a fun, friendly way. She doesn’t make any of the projects seem like they are too hard or complicated for anyone to accomplish. In fact, she makes it fun and seem like you’d want to do them all.

Some of the beauty products and other eco-friendly products I tried include: Spicy Holiday Sugar Scrub, yogurt, computer screen cleaner, flea spray for my dog and a few more. I have to say that out of the ones I tried, I loved the Spicy Holiday Sugar Scrub the most. It is really a great exfoliator and really easy to make. My dog perhaps liked the flea spray but she rolled around for at least 5 minutes after applying it (she doesn’t like sprays very much).

Some of the ones I will be trying in the near future include the bookcase, milk paint, gardening and composting ideas, beeswax candles, and some of the so cute sewing projects like an apron, dresses, skirt and yoga pants out of a men’s t-shirt. Uliano has so many great ideas that I will be trying these projects out for a long time.

I highly recommend Do It Gorgeously by Sophie Uliano for everyone wanting to be more eco-friendly and live a more healthy green lifestyle.

* Thank you to the publisher of Do It Gorgeously, Hyperion for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 18, 2010

34 Things to Know About Wine by Paul Kreider

34 Things to Know About Wine by Paul Kreider is a part of Turner Publishing’s Good Things to Know series. Kreider is an expert at wine. He has been making it since 1974 and opened his own winery in 1987 in Marin County, California. Reading through this book is like taking a tour through his winery while being fully educated about the joy of wine.

Book Description
“Cabernet, pinot noir, tannins, residual sugar. The language of wine is foreign to many of us, and wine itself is a topic that can also seem foreign—and snobbish. An unpretentious presentation of the essentials of wine, 34 Things To Know About Wine is an easy way to gain straightforward information about a simple yet complex subject. This book, presented in an easy-to-understand, entertaining format, will allow you to better:

Enjoy wine in all its complexity
Be at ease in the wine environment
Save money by making choices that suit your palate
Understand the language of wine
Choose wines to complement meals”
- 34 Things to Know About Wine

My Thoughts
I have to admit that I just recently (past couple years) even started drinking wine. It is not something most college parties offer, which isn’t really so shocking is it? So my taste in liquor until I gave wine a try was really limited to just shots of rum or beer.

This book gave me a huge understanding about wine. Learning about red wine versus white wine and the sweetness factor really shocked me. I thought that was just how they are, but apparently “red is red and white isn’t.” I also learned about “dry” wine. I was curious about this detail before too, how can something wet be considered dry? As Kreider explans, “dry” is the opposite of “sweet” in the wine world. Which, if you think about it, it makes sense.

One of the tips Kreider gives is how wine can be murdered – by heat. I never really considered this before, but it is quite true. If wine is left for too long in a hot environment (car, by a radiator, stove, etc.) it will ruin and not be nearly as good as it once was. Out of everything I discovered in this book, I think I’ll remember this the best – and utilize this knowledge each time I buy wine.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and learned more about wine than I ever thought I’d know. If you enjoy wine or are perhaps looking to know more about the subject, I highly suggest picking this book up and discovering the joys of wine for yourself.

* Thank you to the publisher of 34 Things to Know About Wine, Turner Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 16, 2010

Weekly Lovelist: My Birthday, Shopping + More!

What a great week this is!

My Birthday!
Okay, so I may not be fully embracing the whole getting older thing, but it is my birthday tomorrow nonetheless and it should be celebrated, right?

I never really have huge birthday plans, so just being able to hang out and celebrate it without anything bad happening is a huge plus for me. I had a few really bad birthdays (and was quite sick on a few too), so as long as neither of those 2 things happen – it is a good birthday for me!

Gluten-free birthday cake and gluten-free pizza for my birthday dinner! I guess I am pretty easy to make happy, huh?

I really don’t have the extra money to spend on tons of clothes and stuff like I wish, but every now and then I stumble across some great deals and things I just simply cannot live without. I know it happens to you too, right?

Here are some of the things I’ve recently purchased:

Michael Kors dress (in pink) which I am wearing on my birthday!

Calvin Klein workout outfit.

Cute shirt but needs some altering.

Vera Bradley purses that were on sale. I was looking for a Vera Bradley messenger bag for school, but their website was sold out and I couldn’t find any I liked elsewhere.

So You Think You Can Dance
You know how I love this show. Well, this season I actually called in a few times to vote and for the finale I voted for Lauren to win. Guess what? She won! I was quite happy.

The Sims 3
I've been able to play more of The Sims 3 for some articles I was able to write. Check them out here:

Walkthrough for The Sims 3 World Adventures -

Guide to Careers in The Sims 3 -

The Sims 3 Gothic Lots to Download -

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson is a novel about May Seymour who just graduated from college and had no idea what to do next. I’ve been there, so this particular book really hit home for me. If you’ve been there too, this book is for you!

Book Description
May Seymour graduated from college with the world at her feet and no idea what to do with it. A mission trip to Rwanda brought her a sense of purpose in loving others. So when the genocide began she chose to remain in the village, which was subsequently slaughtered. Only May survived.

So, May journeyed to heal on the farm of Claudius Borne, a sweet, innocent old man who understood plants and animals far better than people.

Years later, having not stepped a foot off Claudius' farm, May learns an old college flame, now a death-row inmate, is refusing to appeal his sentence. Can she convince him to grab hold of life once again? Their surprising friendship turns the tables, for the prisoner, Eli Campbell, has a deeper faith from which to draw than she. Eli slowly begins to pull May from her cloistered existence. With the help of Eli, their tiny town, and ultimately a renewal of faith, May comes to life once again.

My Thoughts
Not knowing what to do in life is something I think most people struggle with at some point in their life. In this story, May is there and with the help of being healed by Claudius and the faith she attained while on his farm, she finds herself – and helps another find themselves again too.

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson is a great story that really captures the feelings of May. It moved a little slowly at points, but overall the flow of the book quite worked with the story. It is a great story that is perfect for reading a few chapters at a time.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Victoria 2 Review

Victoria 2 is a new strategy game released by Paradox Interactive. This video game allows you to play a country during the colonial era in the 19th century. You are in control of everything from the colonization, military conquests, industrialization, politics and much more. What you do impacts the population and if they don’t like it they will revolt!

• Deep engrossing political simulation with dozens of different governments
• Detailed economy with over fifty different types of goods and various production factories
• Over 200 different countries can be played, during the era stretching from 1835 to the onset of WWII.
• Advanced Technological system with thousands of inventions to discover
• Improved graphics and interface, as well as multiplayer support
• A streamlined interface makes the game easily accessible.
• Automation of various tasks including, trade and population promotion.
• Advanced spheres of influences system, where the great powers battle over the control of the world.
• Cottage production simulating pre-industrial economies.
• Gunboat Diplomacy, no need for negotiating as a fleet outside a port may be a more persuasive argument.
• Historical and Dynamic missions guiding your country through the history.

My Thoughts
I love city building games and simulation games. I’ve even quite liked some country ruling and fighting strategy games. Victoria 2 is a grand game for all those who enjoy this style of gaming.

It offers long and sometimes intense ruling of countries and overseeing the population of your country. It is not something that is easily beaten in a day or even a weekend. This is a game that once started and enjoyed has a long playing life – which is really what most gamers are looking for, right?

However, it is not directed for the gamers who prefer to experience things on a closer level such as in The Sims or Sim City type of games. Not to say that those gamers wouldn’t like it, just that it is different. Maybe that type of gamer would prefer Majesty 2 if looking for a new simulation game.

Overall, I liked Victoria 2. It is a newer style of game for me, and something that I am glad I tried out. Expanding your horizons in video games is also a good thing. I recommend it for everyone who likes this kind of video game and also for those that may not or are unsure – give it a shot!

System requirements
• Windows XP/Vista/7.0
• Intel® Pentium® IV 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+
• 2 GB hard disk space, NVIDIA® GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon® X1900 video
• card,
• Direct X-compatible sound card,
• DirectX®: DirectX 9
• 3-button mouse,
• keyboard, speakers,
• Internet connection for multiplayer

* Thank you to the publisher of Victoria II, Paradox Interactive and Gamers Gate for providing me a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it.

August 13, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is a Southern style story that will have you drawn in from the first few chapters. CeeCee Honeycutt lives life in a way no child her age should have to, and when she is rescued by her Great Aunt Tootie and whisked away to Georgia – the story really begins!

Book Description
“Steel Magnolias meets The Help in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.”
– Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

My Thoughts
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the author’s debut novel and is really a remarkable story about the love and friendship between women of all ages.

The story revolves around CeeCee, a young girl who finds herself in Georgia after losing her mother. There she finds many brighter than life and full of love mothers that really help her to find herself and live again.

It reminds me in many ways of The Secret Life of Bees. It is however a true Southern gem of a story that you will fall in love with. I highly recommend this novel by Beth Hoffman, it is a memorable story that would be just as good reread the second time.

* Thank you to the publisher of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Viking for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 12, 2010

Giveaway Winner: Romano’s Macaroni Grill

The giveaway for Romano’s Macaroni Grill is now officially over. I used randomizer to determine the winner, and the winner is Liz! I will be contacting you right now to get the details on where to send your prize.

If you didn’t win, don’t be discouraged. I have more contests coming your way soon!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Romano’s Macaroni Grill for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Romano’s Macaroni Grill through MyBlogSpark.

August 9, 2010

Enrique Iglesias ft Pitbull on So You Think You Can Dance

I am loving this song this summer "I Like It" by Enrique Iglesias ft Pitbull. Here it is from So You Think You Can Dance, if you missed it. Gotta love the All-Star dancers dancing with them! Enjoy!

I can't wait until this season's So You Think You Can Dance finale this week. Whoever wins is awesome. I love Robert, Lauren and Kent. Really I think it will be an amazing episode. If you watch, who do you want to win?

August 7, 2010

Weekly Lovelist

What a few weeks this has been for me! Sorry I didn’t update this lovelist sooner. School is kicking my @$$. Speaking of…

My psychology course is over. I have a 104 average. I’m pretty happy about it. The teacher was awesome and even let us have some extra credit chances (which I always take advantage of, no matter how hard/easy it is).

Anatomy and Physiology is not as easy. I have a solid B. My A average is pretty much unreachable after these last two exams (killer hard) unless I pull a 100+ on this final, which I honestly do not see happening. However, a 87-89 average in this course is really good. Hopefully I do just as well next semester in A&P II.

Between school work and other various things, I’ve also been really busy reading. I love to do book, video games, beauty products, and any review really. So, I’ve been busy doing those if you hadn’t noticed. I’m also working on a few more beauty best-of articles for Associated Content. Have any ideas for organic products I should try that I haven’t reviewed already?

I’ve been trying to write more often for Bright Hub, and lately I’ve been published with these articles about The Sims 3:

Guide to Life Fruit in The Sims 3 –

Nude Mod for The Sims 3 -

The Sims 3 Teen Pregnant Mod and More -

I have to say that I love writing for their Gaming channel because it allows me to play video games and write (two of my loves) and get paid for it. So, please check out those articles.

I’ve been bad at posting awards won. I love to get them, so please don’t stop awarding me with them. I’ll try to be a better blogger and post them sooner.

Here are some of the ones I’ve been awarded with lately from Carina and Little Tiara. Thanks so much!

August 4, 2010

Pellinor Series: The Singing by Alison Croggan

The fourth book in the Pellinor Series, The Singing by Alison Croggan is the conclusion of the Books of Pellinor. It is the epic story of the Light vs. the Dark set in a time long long ago…

Book Description
“In an increasingly battle-ravaged land, Maerad, Cadvan, and Hem desperately search for one another as they make their separate journeys. The Black Army is advancing north, and even as Maerad faces a mighty confrontation with the Landrost to save Innail, all of the Seven Kingdoms are threatened with bitter and devastating defeat. Yet in Maerad and Hem lives the secret to the mysterious Singing, and legend holds that if they release the music of Elidhu together, they have the power to defeat the Nameless One. Can brother and sister find each other in time to fight this all-powerful enemy, and are they strong enough -- even reunited -- to defeat him before all is lost?

The climactic volume of the epic quartet follows the Bards of Edil-Amarandh on a vital quest to merge their powers against a nameless evil.”
– The Singing

My Thoughts
The Books of Pellinor is really a series that wraps you in their world and make you feel like you know these characters and want them to defeat the Dark. From the previous books, The Naming, The Riddle and The Crow, we’ve met Maerad, Cadvan, Hem, Saliman, Irc, and many more beautifully formed characters that can’t help but leave you wondering what happens to them. In some book series you are left with just an end that the author formed and perhaps even leaves out some characters. The Singing thankfully did not do that.

The Singing brings together all of our loved characters and shows how their paths lead them back to one another in their battles with the many faces of the Dark. Not everyone who has touched their lives has lived through the books, but everyone has had an impact on how Maerad and Hem fight in the end.

The end is really good and perhaps ended perfectly (if you ask me), but the story is so good it was sad to finally finish it because I wanted to keep reading more. I however did really like the fact that the author put in at the very end more information (summed up) on how each of the characters lived the rest of their lives.

I personally loved the story from The Naming to The Singing. If you love fantasy books and want to get lost in this world for awhile (they are rather large books), this is a great story fall into.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Singing, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 3, 2010

Giveaway + Review: Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Love Romano's Macaroni Grill but don’t want to go out to the restaurant? Well, now they offer some of their fabulous meals in the frozen section of some local grocery stores.

The new Macaroni Grill frozen entrées are made with high quality meats, colorful vegetables, distinct pasta and flavorful sauces. Try the Grilled Chicken Florentine, with grilled white meat chicken and spinach, along with farfalle pasta tossed in a delicious creamy parmesan cheese and garlic sauce. Or cook up the Basil Parmesan Chicken with grilled white meat chicken, broccoli florets and tomatoes with cavatappi pasta tossed in a flavorful creamy basil parmesan sauce.

To add even more Italian flare to your relaxing nights at home, check out the additional varieties of Macaroni Grill frozen entrées available this summer. The Roasted Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Spicy Italian Sausage Pomodoro varieties are perfect for bringing the romantic aromas of Italy into your home.

My family loves pasta, so I was glad I got to let them try the new Grilled Chicken Florentine from provided by the Macaroni Grill through MyBlogSpark.

It came with a big plate / serving bowl and pasta tongs which really gave it the feel of the Macaroni Grill. The frozen entrée came with dry ice, which after taking out carefully was still frozen.

After preparing it as directed, this is what it looked like:

My family loved it and were quite happy to eat something yummy without having to leave the house for an hour + drive to a Macaroni Grill nearby us. Maybe one day they'll have a gluten-free one, ah one can hope. :)

Macaroni Grill Giveaway:
I have one prize available to win from the Macaroni Grill containing the serving bowl, pasta tongs and the frozen entrée delivered on dry ice.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly. In your comment, share an experience with me about either the Macaroni Grill or a frozen entrée.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest will end on August 10, 2010
Good luck!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Macaroni Grill for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Macaroni Grill through MyBlogSpark.

August 2, 2010

Skinny Italian by Teresa Giudice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Italian cooking the way Americans eat it isn’t really Italian cooking. As Teresa Giudice says it is “American Italian” and not really “Italian” at all. If you watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey on Bravo, you know that she is a fantastic cook, friend, fashionista, Mom and much more. Skinny Italian is her cookbook where she says that you can, “Eat spaghetti and still fit into your skinny jeans.”

Cookbook Description
“To many of us, “diet” is a four-letter word. And rightfully so. Starving yourself thin or keeping track of each bite like pennies in your checkbook is no way to live. So what’s a girl with skinny jean dreams supposed to do?

Teresa Giudice has the answer. In fact, she was born with it. The first-generation Italian-American mom of four and svelte star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey credits her knockout figure to her Old World upbringing. And now, in her fun, encouraging, and budget-friendly cookbook, she skewers the myth that looking fabulous has to be a chore.

In Skinny Italian, she reveals how to:
• substitute tedious meal plans with simple, flavorful recipes
• choose fresh, flavorful ingredients instead of counting calories
• slow down and enjoy a faster metabolism
• replace starvation with celebration by adopting an Italian attitude to cooking, eating, and entertaining
• love food, love eating, and still love your body afterward

Teresa shows how anyone can master the cornerstones of Italian cuisine. Learn how to make six different tomato sauces from scratch, how to choose and use the right olive oil, and how to prepare over sixty Giudice family recipes straight from Salerno. From Gorgeous Garlic Shrimp to Beautiful Biscotti, you’ll want to make these sumptuous recipes again and again. Discover how easy and economical wholesome, homemade cooking can be.

Skinny Italian is not a diet book. It’s an “eat it and enjoy it” book. Join Teresa and discover how gorgeous can be a sumptuous side effect to living la bella vita.”
– Skinny Italian

My Thoughts
Teresa Giudice is one of my favorite NJ housewives. She is so funny and I just love her. Seriously, if you watch the show, how can you not be on her side and love her too?

This season one of the episodes featured her family’s annual tomato canning day at their home. As I was watching it, I realized this was something I really wanted to try to do, but I had really no idea how to start. So, I kind of just forgot about it… until I read Skinny Italian.

I read and reread how to do the tomato canning. My Mom and I researched it and decided that we could do it, with Teresa’s instructions (which honestly were much simpler than some of the ways to do it). We didn’t buy the extra canning stuff needed like the canning sanitizer thing or the vegetable strainer (though we wish we had those). We even went to a local farm and purchased tomatoes grown locally and organic.

We waited for the tomatoes to ripen and then plunged in and started our canning celebration. It was fun, sort of messy, and definitely memorable. Overall, we made 10 jars (which really doesn’t compare to the 160 Teresa makes on her canning day), but we were proud of ourselves – it was our first attempt after all.

Unfortunately, since I have celiac disease I couldn’t make some of the recipes in Skinny Italian exactly as described in the book since I can’t eat regular pasta or pizza dough. Gluten free pasta isn’t always the best, but there are some that are pretty good, so I just substituted that in.

Some of my favorite recipes in the book include:
• Gorgeous Garlic Shrimp
• Basic Tomato Sauce “The Quickie”
• Milania’s Marinara Sauce
• Bellissimo Bellinis
• Spaghetti All’Ubriaco “Drunken Spaghetti”

Skinny Italian is a full color cookbook featuring pictures of Teresa Giudice’s house, family and friends, and of course the food. The cookbook is written by Teresa and you can expect her sense of humor and witty tales in each and every section. My Mom and I love this cookbook and if you also love The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and/or Italian cooking you will too!

* Thank you to the publisher of Skinny Italian, Hyperion for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.