May 30, 2012

Objects of my Affection by Jill Smolinski

Objects of my Affection by Jill Smolinski is a novel about a professional organizer, hoarding, drug addiction, romance, and much more. On the surface it appears to be just a “chick lit” type of easy breezy read, but it is much more than that when you actually dig in and read this book. If you’re looking for a story that is a fun and humorous read, but actually makes you think about life and things in a new way, this is the perfect summer read to do just that!

Book Description
In the humorous, heartfelt new novel by the author of The Next Thing on My List, a personal organizer must somehow convince a reclusive artist to give up her hoarding ways and let go of the stuff she’s hung on to for decades.

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them.

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference. ” – Objects of my Affection

My Thoughts
Objects of my Affection is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but I quickly realized after the first few pages that I loved the style this author writes in, and this story was one I’d really enjoy. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. I read it in a weekend off and on, and even talked about some of the characters to my family members. You know it is a good book to bring up characters to someone saying “Quit being such a Marva. You can throw that away or donate it.”

The main character, Lucy Bloom, is a writer and professional organizer. She doesn’t quite feel like a professional in either field, but she wrote a book (and got it published) on the subject, and was hired to clean up a celebrity artist’s home. The catch? The celebrity, Marva, is a hoarder and has to look at everything before she can let it go, and it takes a long time to even let go of one item in the house!

Marva has some secrets that aren’t revealed until the end of the book about why she is like she is, and why she is secretly cleaning up her house now. I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone who plans to read this book, so all I’m going to say is that it is quite a surprise! She is more of a complex and actually caring person than she appears to be at first, so don’t write her off in the beginning as just being a rude old crazy hoarder lady.

The love story is a bit of a background story in the book, but it too is interesting and more complex than you may realize at first. Jill Smolinski is fabulous with making things in the story more than they appear, so while she is a very funny writer in many portions of the book, it is also quite serious as well.

I highly recommend this novel for everyone to read. It isn’t only a fantastic read, but it might also give you some inspiration to clean out your home, too.

* Thank you to the publisher of Objects of my Affection, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 27, 2012

A Game of Thrones – War

Tonight’s episode of A Game of Thrones titled “Blackwater” is what Season One and Season Two have been leading up to: War! Sure there have been some battles and the North seems to be doing well, but now it has reached King’s Landing. Stannis attacks the Lannisters, and if it is anything like the book series, this is going to be an episode full of fiery action.

Check out the preview for tonight’s Game of Thrones episode:

I have enjoyed this season so far. There are more changes from the book series than there was in Season One. However, I don’t really mind. There are some things that would just take too long to have to explain and play out on the screen for it to come through to have viewers understand that haven’t read the books. I’ve read on many forums for the series that they hate the changes or they whine about what they haven’t done. They can’t please everyone, so just enjoy it already and quit whining. At least it was put into an HBO series!

May 26, 2012

Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakis

Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakis is a book that changes your view on “time” forever. Just about everyone has said they don’t have enough time to do something, but in reality we all have the time to do it. We just need to change our viewpoint on time and create time to do those things that we really want to do. This book will help you do it!

Book Description
Most of us have said, “If only I had more time,” as a way of explaining why we aren’t leading our most fulfilling lives. This book turns the concept of time management upside down by presenting exciting new tools for viewing and experiencing your time. Creating Time combines creativity with science in a gorgeous colorful format that presents a fascinating adventure in which you will imagine, create, and completely reshape the way you experience time. Each chapter presents a shift-making concept illustrated by real-life examples, step-by-step introspective processes, and powerful creative projects that inspire a new sense of time, a liberating view of self, and a fresh perspective on the meaning of being human, empowered, and fully alive.” – Creating Time

My Thoughts
Creating Time is as the title suggests, a creative book that helps you to learn how to create time. There are a variety of books that tell us how to make time to do things or plan better so we have a 15 minute block of “me” time. What makes this book different is that we “create” the time for whatever purpose we want to use it for. Makridakis helps us to stop enslaving ourselves with time and instead work with it so it doesn’t work against us.

The “ARTsignments” included throughout the book are creative projects that are used to help us change our view on time, and create something cool. There is no right or wrong way to complete the assignments, and there are many pictures of other people’s creations to help serve as inspiration for the projects too. This book helps to not just create time, but also helps gently nudge us to create cool things to show our relationship with time.

I really enjoyed reading this book and doing the ARTsignments. I highly recommend this book for everyone that wants to create time, or just be more creative.

* Thank you to the publisher of Creating Time, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 25, 2012

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandreth is the fifth book of the “Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries” series. It has humor, excitement, and is fast paced enough for even those with short attention spans to enjoy.

Book Description
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders opens in 1892, as an exhausted Arthur Conan Doyle retires to a spa in Germany with a suitcase full of fan mail. But his rest cure does not go as planned. The first person he encounters is Oscar Wilde, and the two friends make a series of macabre discoveries among the letters—a finger; a lock of hair; and, finally, an entire severed hand.

The trail leads the intrepid duo to Rome, and to a case that involves miracles as well as murder. Pope Pius IX has just died— these are uncertain times in the Eternal City. To uncover the mystery and discover why the creator of Sherlock Holmes has been summoned in this way, Wilde and Conan Doyle must penetrate the innermost circle of the Catholic Church and expose the deadly secrets of the six men closest to the pope.
In Gyles Brandreth’s captivating and richly atmospheric novel, Wilde’s powers as a detective are put to the test in his most compelling case yet.” – Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders

My Thoughts
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is the first book in the series I read. However, I don’t think it is necessary to have read the others to enjoy this one. So, go ahead and check this out if you also like Sherlock Holmes and mystery novels.

The two main characters are Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and they are definitely not disappointing. At the beginning of the book, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is on vacation yet has to answer all of this fan mail, I found a bit humorous. Then, when Oscar Wilde and he find the finger, hair, and an entire hand - I couldn’t help but keep reading to find out what would happen. They then head to Rome to the Vatican, and from there things get even more interesting. To find out what happens, you’ll have to read this one for yourself. Mysteries aren’t quite as fun to read if you know everything that is going to happen, right?

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read. I think that this would be a great novel for fans of mysteries and of course, “Sherlock Holmes” to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 24, 2012

Discover Atlantis by Diana Cooper

Discover Atlantis by Diana Cooper is a book that was channeled, so it isn’t a science-fact book about Atlantis. Maybe those books will be available one day when it is discovered, for now though – this one reveals how things could have been in Atlantis.

Book Description
World-renowned author Diana Cooper, with spiritual consultant Shaaron Hutton, brings you a comprehensive and compelling guide to the ancient and mysterious civilization of Atlantis. For the 1,500 years of the Atlantean Golden Age, the spiritual level of the planet was the highest it has ever been; people enjoyed incredible psychic gifts as well as technological and spiritual powers beyond our current comprehension. Here you will learn all aspects of the fascinating and inspiring lives of the Atlanteans, from their social structures to their extraordinary technology to their beliefs and practices including the tools they used, most of which are still available today. With guidance on how to understand the profound truths of the Atlantean culture, and special exercises – some practiced by the High Priests and Priestesses themselves – Discover Atlantis enables you to apply the wisdom and power of this most spiritually enlightened time and place to your own life today.” – Discover Atlantis

My Thoughts
Discover Atlantis covers such a large variety of how the civilization was, according to the information channeled by Diana Cooper and Shaaron Hutton. It covers how Atlantis began and was populated, how daily life was like, what the homes and buildings were like, how the people worked together, how people were healed with crystals and sound, and much more.

This book doesn’t just detail what Atlantis was like, but it also includes meditation exercises and things you can do to help you better attune yourself spiritually, and with the energy from Atlantis. I didn’t do all of them, but the ones I did I quite enjoyed. Diana Cooper also has meditation CDs which you could use to accompany this book.

Atlantis has always been a huge fascination of mine, and since I do believe in past lives, I am quite certain that I had (at least) a few lives in Atlantis. I understand that not everyone believes in the myth surrounding Atlantis, so for those people, this is obviously not a book that you’d find worth your time reading. However, if you do enjoy reading more about the possibility of what Atlantis was like, or if you too thought you had a past life there, I strongly suggest you to read this book.

* Thank you to the publisher of Discover Atlantis, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 23, 2012

The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber is a beautiful deck of tarot cards. It also includes a 192 page guidebook that is 5 ½ x 9 inches, which details the meaning of the card and also enchantments for each card so you can take your reading to the next level.

The Enchanted Tarot is for everyone who loves fantasy and fairytales. Amy Zerner's visionary art makes the deck a magical experience to use. Each of the seventy-eight cards is a richly detailed miniature work of art in Amy's award-winning tapestry collage style. 

Based on the ancient traditions of the tarot, this contemporary oracle is a remarkable system for self-counseling and understanding. Used with the accompanying book by Monte Farber, The Enchanted Tarot can illuminate and inspire our innermost being and will allow any seeker of guidance direct access to the wisdom of his or her Higher Self. The book includes an interpretation of each card along with 'Preparation for a Reading', 'Using the Enchantments', 'The One Card Technique', 'The Three Level Spread' and 'The Celtic Cross Spread'. Everything you need to conduct a reading for yourself or someone else is included, so you can start having fun right away.” – The Enchanted Tarot

My Thoughts
The Enchanted Tarot is one of the most visually appealing tarot decks I have used. The images on the cards are all fluid and beautiful. Amy Zerner is a fantastic artist! It looks like she did them in a mixed media fashion, and it honestly inspires me to want to make similar artwork.

The guidebook is also a nice size and really details the meaning behind all of the cards. Most tarot or oracle decks have a small guidebook with just general meanings to the cards. I love that this one is so detailed and also gives an “enchantment” for each card that can be used in addition to just the reading.

The only thing I wish was a little bit different is the length of the tarot cards. They are just a little bit too long for me shuffle easily. I don’t have big hands, so it made it a little awkward for me to shuffle. However, after I shuffled the deck many times (and did quite a few readings), it wasn’t as big of an issue.

I really enjoy using this tarot deck and highly recommend it to everyone who also reads tarot cards. If you want to start reading them, I also think that this deck would be a wonderful one to start with because the guidebook makes it is so easy to learn how to read them.

* Big thank you to the publisher of The Enchanted Tarot, Connections, for providing me with a copy of this set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 22, 2012

True Blood – Season 5 – #WaitingSucks

My favorite show on TV is True Blood. It is a long time in-between new seasons because it is an HBO series. This also means, it only has around 13 episodes each season, which again is just not enough for fans of the series. I love it though so really, no complaints here.

I’ve watched the teaser trailers and have seen the previews on HBO before Game of Thrones (another big favorite of mine). Season 5 of True Blood starts on June 10, 2012 and from the looks of it, it won’t be much like the book series at all. It looks like there are a ton of new characters and the storyline has gone so far off track it is really like a whole different story. I’m definitely “Team Eric” though (Alexander Skarsgard is so drop dead gorgeous!), so I really hope that he and Sookie Stackhouse at least end up together in this version of the series.

I’ll definitely start trying to most more again about both True Blood and Game of Thrones. After my last post about doing that, there was the water explosion in the house which we still haven’t gotten all fixed yet. It is definitely making things harder to do, including blogging. Anyways, until then – I leave you with this little preview of the next season. Enjoy!

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker and Illustrated by Becky Cloonan

Dracula by Bram Stoker and illustrated by Becky Cloonan is the classic tale with a new feel to it thanks to Becky Cloonan’s marvelously illustrated graphics in the novel. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was originally published in 1897, and is still a favorite of many even today. If you enjoy vampire tales, be sure to check out this classic story.

Book Description
Prince of the Night. Lord of the Damned. King of Vampires. He is Dracula, the most well-known vampire in the world—and this new illustrated edition of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of terror offers Dracula as you have never seen him before. Brought to life through the stunning visual artistry of Eisner Award-winning illustrator Becky Cloonan (Demo, American Virgin, Victor Von Doom), this new graphically compelling novel offers a spellbinding, edition of the book that launched the world’s enduring fascination with vampires: Bram Stoker’s complete and unabridged Dracula. Illuminated and accentuated by the visionary hand of one of America’s most gifted illustrators, Dracula is perfect for fans of the ghastly and paranormal, and unmissable for fans of True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Tim Burton’s macabre new film, Dark Shadows (release May 11, 2012) starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, and Jackie Earle Haley.” – Dracula

My Thoughts
Dracula is a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time, but one of those classics that I just never got around to reading. It is written as a large volume of diary entries and letters, which I found interesting at first, but couldn’t really enjoy as much as I had hoped. That being said, I did like this edition of the book. The illustrations helped bring the book to life and gave it even more suspense.

It does have an excellently crafted story about Jonathan Harker seeing horrific things while staying with Count Dracula. He writes to his fiancĂ© Mina and she eventually finds him “feverish” and her best friend Lucy suddenly dies from blood loss, only to become an undead seductress. Many times I wondered how they couldn’t know vampires were at play here, but in this novel, they just didn’t know about vampires. Van Helsing enters into the novel about halfway through to help save them, which helped the story become more exciting.

Overall, I am glad that I finally read Dracula. It is one of the first “big” vampire stories and paved the way for some of my favorite vampire tales, so I am very thankful that Bram Stoker wrote this novel. It is not one of my favorite vampire books, but I appreciate it for what it is: a classic. I recommend this for everyone who enjoys vampire stories.

* Thank you to the publisher of Dracula, Harper Design, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 20, 2012

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory is a novel in the “Cousins’ War” series which tells the story of the noble family that paved the way for the Tudors. If you haven’t read any of the other novels in the series, don’t let that stop you from reading this one. It isn’t necessary to read the others first, but it may make you want to go back and read them after you’ve finished.

Book Description
A story rich in passion and legend, “The Lady of the Rivers” is the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

When Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of their royal York rivals. As Jacquetta fights for her king and her queen, she can see an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York…” – The Lady of the Rivers

My Thoughts
The Lady of the Rivers is written with a significant amount of historical accuracy, right down to the speech and mannerisms used during this part of history. I can’t stand historical novels that put in words that weren’t used back then or clothing descriptions that come from this century as opposed to then. You won’t find those issues in this book.

As for the characters, I found them to be intriguing and memorable. Jacquetta is by far my favorite character, and her gift of second sight and her link to a Goddess kept things interesting throughout the novel. Women struggled to be a part of society and to have power in this era, so her power showed hope for women in the future.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Historical fiction is either a hit or a miss, and this one is definitely a hit. If you are a history buff and enjoy historical books and/or movies, this is one that I think you will really enjoy. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Lady of the Rivers, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 18, 2012

Chaldean Numerology by Heather Alicia Lagan

Chaldean Numerology by Heather Alicia Lagan is an in-depth book that teaches you how to read numerology for yourself and others. This may be written as a beginner’s guide, but it would be well received by anyone who studies numerology at any level.

Book Description
Chaldean numerology paints a clear picture of you and your personal “blueprint”—your essence, talents, desires, lessons, and ideal directions for this lifetime. This introductory guide presents highly effective techniques for decoding the energetic vibrations and information held in names, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, and much more.

Master Numerologist Heather Alicia Lagan has simplified Chaldean numerology, making it accessible, practical, and easy to use. In addition to providing the original meanings behind numbers and letters, Heather also offers detailed sample readings of three celebrities—Apolo Anton Ohno, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Drew Barrymore—to help you understand, share, and benefit from this treasury of ancient knowledge. Chaldean numerology offers guidance, inspirational and enlightening messages, and a framework for identifying and achieving goals.” – Chaldean Numerology

My Thoughts
Chaldean Numerology is different from the average book on numerology I’ve read before. Heather Alicia Lagan takes it to the next level, and gave me the inspiration to read not just my own numerology, but also family members and friends.

She teaches it in this book in a very easy to read and understand way that made me really want to try it out for myself. The results were amazing! My personal numerology was quite accurate in many places. When I did the readings on a few family members, I found that it was accurate for them as well. So, I was very pleased with the book and new knowledge I now have on numerology.

If you enjoy looking for patterns, have an interest in astrology, and of course numbers, I think this book would be a perfect fit for you to read and learn more about numerology. I found it to be a fun book that I will reference again and again. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Chaldean Numerology, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 17, 2012

Running Out? Run In to Publix

I hate running out of something when I need it. Usually it happens with things I really need and just forgot to stock-up on. This May Publix has an in-store event called “Running Out? Run In” event to reward their shoppers for shopping with them, and stocking up on their favorite products.

More About the Event:
  • From May 17th through May 23rd, look for the “Running Out? Run In.”event at your local Publix store and “run in,” to take advantage of the great savings available on some of your favorite brands from General Mills and Procter & Gamble, including Cheerios, Totino's, Charmin, and Crest
  • Also, don’t forget to look in-stores for over $15 in coupon savings – coupons are valid May 9th through June 2nd
  • Receive a $5 Publix® gift card to use on your next shopping trip when you purchase $30 or more in participating items during the event (5/17 – 5/23); simply mail in the rebate form found in-store or online at along with your original receipt(s).
  • For more details on this great rebate, visit

A new Publix just came into a town near where I live, so I plan on going there tomorrow to stock up on some gluten-free items. They carry a good amount of items I can eat that other stores don’t carry. Plus, it is affordable. I’m not one to pay $10 on pretzels just because they are gluten-free. If you plan on saving money and stocking up on items you and your family eat, which ones do you plan on getting during this event?

Disclosure:  The Publix gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Red Cell by Mark Henshaw

Red Cell by Mark Henshaw is an exciting debut novel about CIA outcasts that are trying to prevent a world war. This is not a boring book in any way, and would make for an excellent summer read for people who enjoy action-packed adventure novels.

Book Description
From the Tom Clancy for a new generation, a debut thriller following two CIA outcasts who must race to stop a secret Chinese weapon that threatens to provoke a world war.

After her first assignment in Venezuela goes disastrously awry, rookie case officer Kyra Stryker is brought back to Langley to work in the Red Cell, the CIA’s out-of-the-box think tank. There she’s paired with Jonathan Burke, a straitlaced analyst who has alienated his colleagues with his unorthodox methods and a knack for always being right, political consequences be damned.

When a raid on Chinese spies in Taiwan ends in a shoot-out and the release of a deadly chemical, CIA director Kathy Cooke turns to the Red Cell to figure out why China is ready to invade the island nation without any fear of reprisal from the US Navy. Stryker and Burke’s only lead is the top CIA asset in China, code named Pioneer. But when Pioneer reports that Chinese security has him under surveillance, Stryker is offered a chance for redemption with a highly dangerous mission: extract Pioneer from China before he’s arrested and executed. The answers he holds could mean the difference between peace in the Pacific or another world war.

From CIA headquarters to the White House to a Navy carrier in the South China Sea and the dark alleyways of Beijing, Red Cell takes readers on a whirlwind race against time as Stryker and Burke work to save Pioneer and discover the hidden threat to America’s power: China’s top-secret weapon.

CIA analyst Mark Henshaw infuses expert knowledge of the intelligence world into a pulse-pounding plot to create a fascinating, authentic, and unforgettable read.” – Red Cell

My Thoughts
Red Cell is detail oriented and beautifully written. The characters are all brought to life with the author’s excellent attention to detail and weaving a memorable story. The actual story takes place in a short amount of time, but it is full of suspense and action. This is a book that I could easily see being turned into a summer blockbuster movie. For now though, pick it up and enjoy it for the amazing book it is.

This isn’t the type of book that I usually grab to read. However, I was really taken in by it. I think that the author is amazing and the story was fantastic. This novel kept my attention, and left me wanting to see it take place in a movie. It is just that good.

* Thank you to the publisher of Red Cell, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 15, 2012

Love Has Wings by Isha Judd

Love Has Wings by Isha Judd is a spiritual self-help book that really makes people look at their life, and how they are living it. If you want to change your life for the better, and I mean really do it, not just think about doing it, read this book!

Book Description

Free Yourself from Limiting Beliefs and Fall in Love with Life

Isha Judd has taught thousands of people a simple system that shows how to find the luminous state of mind she calls “love-consciousness,” in which every moment of life — even the most challenging and frustrating — can be filled with love, peace, and self-acceptance. In these pages, Isha will teach you to:

• Free yourself from the most common fear-based illusions we cling to out of habit, illusions such as “there is not enough,” “comfort is king,” and “being passive protects me from making mistakes”

• Empower yourself to permeate all your roles and responsibilities with love-consciousness, to joyfully become the best woman or man, partner, parent or child, and employee or boss you can be

• Soar above fear, boredom, impatience, jealousy, insecurity, loneliness, and the uncertainty of a world in crisis” – Love Has Wings

My Thoughts
Love Has Wings is a self-help book that helps to push people out of their comfort zones and call people out on their issues. Of course, it is done in a subtle way and has a variety of stories and ways to see things differently to help people with changing their prior held beliefs about life. But you know what? I think people need to be shaken up sometimes (in a loving way of course) to get out of the victim or comfort mode in life.

Choosing to be a victim or a creator in your life is the main theme in the book. Do you want to be a whiny “Why me?” kind of person who is living a life they don’t enjoy living? Or would you rather be a creator and create the kind of life you do enjoy living?

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and found quite a few things useful in my own life to help me out. Everyone can always use a little extra help and loving push to change things, and I am no exception. I think that everyone could benefit from reading this book and hopefully using it to help them in their life. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Love Has Wings, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 14, 2012

Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law

Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law is an exciting way for both kids and adults to read about good vs. evil that actually uses parts of the bible in an exciting way. If you are looking for more of an approved Christian magical adventure story for your kids to read, this is it!

Book Description
Percy Jackson, move over! Jonah Stone is here!

What if Nephilim—the children of angels and men—still walked the earth? And their very presence put the entire world in danger? In Spirit Fighter, Jonah and Eliza Stone learn that their mother is a Nephilim and that they have special powers as quarter-angels. When their mom is kidnapped by fallen angels, they must use those powers to save her. Along the way, they discover that there is a very real and dangerous war going on between good and evil and that God has a big part for them to play in that war.
Parents today are looking for fiction that makes Christianity and the Bible exciting for their kids. This series is the Christian answer to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, The Secret Series and other middle-grade series packed with adventure, action, and supernatural fights. Son of Angels, Jonah Stone will be the first series in the market to explore this topic from a biblical perspective with content that is appropriate and exciting for middle-grade readers.” – Spirit Fighter

My Thoughts
This is actually a very good book. It is written so that young adult/teens will enjoy it. However, adults will too! It is a well written story that draws you in to read it. I started it after lunch and had it finished later that same evening. It is one of those books that you don’t want to put down.

The characters all have a depth to them that makes them memorable and the action definitely kept me interested in the book. It is a fantasy type of book with aspects from the Christian bible in it. I didn’t like it more than Harry Potter, but it is still a great book.

This is the first book in the series, so the only really downside to that is having to wait until the next book(s) are released. I for one will definitely want to read them! I also think that this is a series that would make for a great movie series as well, so ::fingers crossed:: on that happening!

* Thank you to the publisher of Spirit Fighter, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review as part of their BookSneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 11, 2012

Review of The Sims 3: Showtime - Katy Perry Edition

The Sims 3: Showtime Collector’s Edition with Katy Perry is the first real game that The Sims 3 has done that featured a celebrity, and was used in the game (for that edition at least) that also included personal items for fans to use in their game. The actual Katy Perry Sim isn’t included in the edition, but she is available for download via the exchange, and if you bought this special edition, you can also download some of her cool stage props and costumes.

About the Expansion Pack
Make your rise to fame in The Sims 3 Showtime Katy Perry Collector’s Edition with unique Katy Perry themed in-game content and an exclusive poster. This Collector’s Edition includes The Sims 3 Showtime Expansion pack, plus downloadable content including an Ultimate Stage bonus venue, iconic Katy Perry themed items, and an exclusive poster. The iconic content includes fashions, a guitar, a hairstyle and various Katy Perry themed stage props. Venture into a new world of Starlight Shores and live the story of your Sims as they become superstar singers, acrobats, magicians… and they can even moonlight as DJs. Watch your Sims rise to fame—or go down in flames as they perform and practice for other Sims.

New optional social features allow you to share your big moments and connect with friends and fans of The Sims like never before. Send your Sim into a friend’s game using the new, optional SimPort feature to perform in their world, book gigs in their town, go on tour and be reviewed. Along the way, earn rewards for achieving goals and accomplishing special challenges that can be tracked and shared via in-game social wall posts and beyond.

o Collector’s Edition: Enjoy The Sims 3 Showtime Expansion pack and an Ultimate Stage bonus venue plus special Katy Perry themed iconic content including fashions, a guitar, a hairstyle, and various stage props plus an exclusive Katy Perry poster

o Rise to Stardom: Venture into a new world and live the dream as a singer, acrobat, magician or moonlight as a DJ. Watch your Sims rise to fame—or go down in flames as they perform for other Sims.

o Create New Sims: New traits and Lifetime Wishes give you more tools to tell stories the way you want to.

o A Whole New World: The brand new world of Starlight Shores features new venues and new objects to hone your Sims’ talents.

o Make Your Rise to Fame: Build your own custom stages and see your Sims perform in sold-out arenas and in front of packed crowds.

o Book or Host Gigs: Using the optional SimPort feature, send your Sim to a friend’s game to perform in their world, earn rewards, book gigs, go on tour and even be reviewed.

o Be Connected (Optional): Make new friends, connect and share your stories and experiences without ever leaving the game. Using the new individual in-game news feeds, messaging, and live updates, post your Sims’ successes, share gameplay techniques, create wish lists and gifts, search for new friends and share memories.

o New Achievement System: Earn rewards for achieving goals and accomplishing special challenges that can be tracked and shared via in-game news feeds and messages.

- The Sims 3: Showtime

My Thoughts
The Sims 3: Showtime is such a fun expansion pack, I honestly don’t know where to start. I haven’t had such fun playing this game since the Late Night expansion pack (you know, the one that added in vampires).

For this EP, the new town of Starlight Shores was added, so I made a new game there and started playing with my Katy Perry Sim that I downloaded from the exchange. I dressed her in different outfits that match her personality, created a really cool house for her to live in, and even had her have a pink cat named Kitty Perry. Very cute!

I first had her become an acrobat. Mainly because her main profession would overall be the Singer one, and I wanted to try out being an acrobat with her. It was fun, and the costumes for the career were very much inspired by acrobats. I liked doing the blazing ring of fire routines and bouncing on the ball the most. Although, the contortions that they can do is quite amazing!

I then had Katy join the Singer profession. While I was trying to level her up in this career, I also had her learn how to use the guitar so she could perform with it onstage, too. I had fun with this career for her, and the gigs were all received very well by the audiences.

I created a new vampire Sim, Eric Northman to become my Magician Sim. I saw that they could levitate, and well, in the True Blood series, Eric can levitate/fly, so it was a natural fit. There is actually quite a lot of options to do as a Magician too, including being buried alive and vanishing other Sims in the audience. It was fun and just the pure fact that a vampire can levitate in the game is fun.

I played connected to the new achievement system and SimPort. It wasn’t always perfect, and I had to add in a lot of new friends to see anyone who wanted to host a Sim, or find someone to host mine. However, it is quite fun (when it works). Plus, it unlocks stage props and costumes if you do enough of them. Some of the achievements will take a while to earn, and I hope that they add in more to try and earn from previous expansion packs, too.

If you play The Sims 3, this expansion is one that you do not want to skip. I love it and if you are a Simmer, I bet you will too!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Sims 3: Showtime, Electronic Arts, and Gamers Gate for providing me with a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it. All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.

May 8, 2012

Cheerios Giveaway

I have a new giveaway for all of my Blog followers! I’m really happy about this one because just about everyone can benefit from getting free food, right? Thanks to General Mills, Cheerios, and MyBlogSpark I was able to review the new style of Cheerios packaging for their cereal and share a gift pack with one of you.

I haven’t seen the new style of Cheerios packaging in stores yet, and seeing something new is always fun. Although I can’t personally eat the Cheerios, my family was very happy to get eat it. The new packaging makes it easier to store the cereal in the pantry, and if you shop at Sam’s Club, Costco or BJ’s you’ll see this in the store soon.

What I really like about the new type of packaging for Cheerios is that it helps the environment. As stated by General Mills, “By reducing the amount of air in each individual bag, these enhanced containers fit 10% more cereal than before and use less packaging. While each box contains more cereal, packaging material has been reduced by over 200,000 lbs, saving 1,000 trees and taking 130 Cheerios trucks of the road, decreasing CO2 emissions.”

Cheerios Giveaway
I have one 2-box of double box Cheerios (so really like four boxes) to give to one lucky winner. If you want to win this yummy prize, reply to this post with the entry guidelines. Each entry needs to be entered as a separate comment on this post to be counted as an entry.

One entry (mandatory) – Folly my Blog and leave a comment saying how this new 2 box Cheerios packaging will benefit you and your family and/or say what you like about it.

One entry – Post about this contest on your Blog. Leave me a comment with the URL to it.

One entry – Follow me on Twitter and post about this contest on your Twitter account. Leave me a comment with the URL to it. @sherinewtonthe tweet so I can find it easily.

One entry – Post about this contest on your Facebook page. Leave me a comment with the URL to it. Add me as your friend, if you want.

Note: If you don’t have your e-mail address showing on your Blogger profile, or don’t enter it, I can’t contact you if you win. If you’re unsure if it is there or not, put it in your entry.

Giveaway ends on May 14, 2012. Good Luck!

Disclosure:  Cheerios® cereal, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Transition to the Golden Age in 2032 by Diana Cooper

Transition to the Golden Age in 2032 by Diana Cooper is a spiritual book that looks at the shift that will take us into the Golden Age in 2032. If you’re afraid of what may happen on December 21, 2012, this book may ease some of your worries and help give you encouragement for what is to come in the future.

Book Description
“Transition to the Golden Age of 2032 will guide you to tap into the energies of the universe to gain understanding of the changes taking place. Exciting new spiritual energies will be coming into the planet and influencing specific areas, and economic, political, and climatic shifts are also predicted to occur. Renowned cosmic scholar Diana Cooper includes a time frame for this massive transition that is anticipated to last until Earth moves into the fifth dimensional frequency in 2032. From what to expect to how to prepare, the teachings in this book serve as guidance for the next 20 years, so that people will be able to attune themselves to the spiritual forces that are coming.” – Transition to the Golden Age in 2032

My Thoughts
Transition to the Golden Age in 2032 was first introduced to me by listening to Coast to Coast AM (one of my favorite radio shows). The show was interesting of course, but the book is even better. I’m really glad that I heard Diana Cooper on Coast to Coast and that I was led to read this book. Everything happens for a reason.

December 12, 2012 is coming up very quickly, and according to Diana Cooper, this will start the transition period for the next 20 years which will lead us into the Golden Age in 2032. There will be cleansings of areas around the world to prepare for this and we’ll be moved into the fifth dimension.

This is one of those books that will take you in and make you want to read it all as fast as you can. I read it in one sitting because I wanted to know what was going to happen around the world, and then also what I could do to help this transition.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it to be encouraging about the changes that will hopefully come our way soon. I highly recommend this book to everyone to read that likes spiritual books such as this.

* Thank you to the publisher of Transition to the Golden Age in 2032, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 7, 2012

Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza? Not Really

Domino’s pizza chain announced today that they are now offering small (10-inch) pizzas with a gluten free crust in all of their stores across the USA. They partnered with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to help make sure that their gluten free pizza met their criteria.

As someone who has Celiac Disease and has also worked at Domino’s in the past, I am highly suspicious of this “gluten free” pizza actually being free of gluten 100% - which people who have Celiac Disease has to have.

As a former employee, I can verify for you that at the location I worked at wasn’t the cleanest, and even pans used to cook food were rarely washed (as in a few times a year). The gluten contamination at Domino’s would not ensure that a pizza with this gluten free crust would in fact be gluten free. In fact, I can assure you that it is likely going to be contaminated.

To push this point further, Domino’s company statement on the matter states that they don’t even recommend this crust for people with Celiac Disease. The company’s release states that “Domino’s and the NFCA found that while the crust is certified as gluten free, current store operations at Domino’s cannot guarantee that each handcrafted pizza will be completely free from gluten.”

People who actually would have to have the crust can’t even eat it. As someone who really misses eating pizza that isn’t homemade, it is quite sad. To me, it seems like they are just trying to jump on the gluten free bandwagon without actually taking steps for people who have to live gluten free to benefit from. 

May 6, 2012

Water Leaks and Final Exams – Not a Good Combo

Last week (on Friday to be exact) a water pipe burst behind the wall in my bathroom. I live in a 2 story house, and the bathroom is on the 2nd floor. This means that the water was coming out everywhere upstairs by it and then falling down from the ceiling on the first floor. It was literally raining from the ceiling in the hallway and parts of the living room. Talk about scary!

Of course I was home alone when this all happened, and I have never had this happen before, so I wasn’t really sure what to do. Also, the new “electronic” meter was installed for the water line and there was no way I could shut the water off. I even called the water company and they told me I couldn’t do anything and not to mess with the electronic meter thing (not that I could pry it open anyways). If it was so electronic, why can’t they just turn it off from their end “electronically”? Sometimes the new technology forced upon us is in fact much worse than it was before.

So I was filling up trash cans and plastic bins, trying to soak up areas with towels and moving things away from the water for almost an hour before someone was able to come out and turn the water off “electronically.” I was in water up to my ankles in places and water was pouring from the light fixture in the hallway like it was a faucet! I was seriously afraid of being electrocuted.

Sure, now it sounds like a funny episode of “The Middle” or something, but it was really scary.

Our insurance agent lady sent out people from ServPro to come help get rid of the water and dry up everything. It was a huge mess. It took like 5 days to dry out the carpet and drywalls. Bad damage overall and all of our carpet is being replaced, with hopefully the hardwood laminate. I hate carpet and honestly if this ever happens again, carpet is terrible to have to get dry. I never want carpet in my life again.

As with all home repairs and insurance issues, things take time and as of right now, nothing is set for the actual repairs. We’ve packed up some rooms, moved things, found damaged items, etc. Hopefully it gets started soon because living in all of this chaos is not fun.

Last week was also final exams for me. I had 3 to take and even though I didn’t really have to do super great on them to keep my A’s, I still always try my best. Studying while fans are blowing loudly and everything is crazy isn’t easy.

So far 2 of the 3 grades are posted, and I did make A’s in those classes. I’m also quite sure that I got an A in the 3rd, but that professor takes longer than most to actually grade papers, so I didn’t really think that the final exam would be much different. It’s okay though because I am sure I did very well on the test.

I’m taking 2 classes this summer and then I’ll be completely finished with all of the pre-requisite courses needed for nursing at the university I’m going to. This means I’ll be going to actual nursing school (finally) in Spring of next year. Yay!

May 5, 2012

In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard

In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard is an honest look inside one of America’s Olympic prodigies. If you are a fan of the Olympic games, swimming, or Amanda herself, this memoir will give you everything you could want in a book about the athlete.

Book Description
In this candid and ultimately uplifting memoir, Olympic medalist Amanda Beard reveals the truth about coming of age in the spotlight, the demons she battled along the way, and the newfound happiness that has proved to be her greatest victory.

At the tender age of fourteen, Amanda Beard walked onto the pool deck at the Atlanta Olympics carrying her teddy bear, Harold, and left with two silvers and a gold medal. She competed in three more Olympic games, winning a total of seven medals, and enjoyed a lucrative modeling career on the side. At one point, she was the most downloaded female athlete on the Internet.

Yet despite her astonishing career and sex-symbol status, Amanda felt unworthy of all her success. Unaware that she was suffering from clinical depression, she hid the pain beneath a megawatt smile. With no other outlet for her feelings besides the pool, Amanda expressed her emotions through self-destructive behavior. In her late teens and twenties, she became bulimic, abused drugs and alcohol, and started cutting herself.

Her low self-esteem led to toxic relationships with high-profile men in the sports world. No one, not even her own parents and friends, knew about the turmoil she was going through. Only when she met her future husband, who discovered her cutting herself, did Amanda realize she needed help.

Through her renewed faith in herself; the love of her family; and finally the birth of her baby boy, Blaise, Amanda has transformed her life. In these pages, she speaks frankly about her struggles with depression, the pressures to be thin, and the unhealthy relationships she confused for love. In the Water They Can’t See You Cry is a raw, compelling story of a woman who gained the strength to live as bravely out of the water as she did in it. ” – In the Water They Can’t See You Cry

My Thoughts
In the Water They Can’t See You Cry is an engaging memoir by an amazing swimmer. I only slightly remember who she was from watching the Olympics. I knew that America has talent, determination and strength, and Amanda Beard really shows in this personal memoir that she has all of that and more.

Amanda’s struggles with growing up in the spotlight, bad personal relationships, depression, an eating disorder, and cutting are all shown in the book. Hopefully not many people can relate to everything she went through, but there are enough there that most women could relate to something she went through, even if they didn’t get through it while also being famous. I found her story to be very real and encouraging. I recommend it for all women and teenage girls to read and draw some strength from.

* Thank you to the publisher of In the Water They Can’t See You Cry, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 4, 2012

The White Magic Book by Mrs. John Le Breton

The White Magic Book by Mrs. John Le Breton was first published in 1919. This edition published by Red Wheel has the introduction written by Monte Farber, who does a very good job explaining what the book is and why it is so great. Fortune telling for yourself and friends or family is actually quite easy with this book, and more fun than you realize at first – because it really does work (at least it did for me)!

Book Description
A mysterious book with a mysterious past, first published in 1919, The White Magic Book serves up answers to life's daily questions. "This book," Farber writes in the Introduction, "is your personal, portable shrine, twenty-four-hour medium, and in it is the answer to your every question. All you have to do is use it with sincerity and an open mind, and you will be truly surprised and delighted to experience moments of synchronicity on a daily basis."

The White Magic Book is like the Internet. There's information out there to be had, and this wonderful little book helps us to access it. Although the questions and answers are written in the language of the early 20th century, like a lovely piece of china from another era, they are as meaningful today as they were then. We may now hear good news from far away not by post but by e-mail. There is nothing dated about the advice to pay attention, have a sense of humor, and find a suitable career.

The White Magic Book is simple to use: pick a question, let your finger fall to a symbol on the Table of Jupiter, and find the corresponding answer.” – The White Magic Book

My Thoughts
The White Magic Book is a handy little oracle or fortune telling book that is so fun to use. Of course before you jump right into figuring out your future, you do have to read about the book to be sure to use it correctly. If you don’t, all of the symbols and numbers won’t mean much to you, and you won’t use it right. Don’t worry though – it isn’t that much to read and the information covered in it (including the introduction) is very enjoyable to read.

The pre-selected questions were originally written in 1919, but they can still be adjusted to work in modern times. When I used the book to ask questions about situations popping up in my life, I didn’t have any issues finding a similar question that would work with it.

The answers to the questions that you can select for each question would be hard to pre-select before you flipped to the corresponding page, so each one is honestly not going to be unconsciously chosen by you when picking out the symbol (especially if you pick the symbol with your eyes closed). I found this process to be fun and unique and looked forward to finding my fortune on the pages.

I really enjoyed this fortune telling book experience and highly recommend it for anyone who likes books like these. It would also make a very cool birthday present for people who also like items such as this as well.

* Thank you to the publisher of The White Magic Book, Red Wheel, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan is an exciting and fascinating tale about the very real struggles people have when people are in danger, and for some to live, others must forfeit their own life.

Book Description
Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.” – The Lifeboat

My Thoughts
The Lifeboat reminds me very much of the Titanic and somewhat like the TV show Survivor (except on a lifeboat) with the alliances and scheming that takes place. This is a very captivating story, and once you get started reading it, you won’t want to put it down. I read it in about a day off and on, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Grace. If you read it, you’ll likely be taken in as well, so plan ahead to not have anything to do once you start reading it!

There are some plots that I wish would have been tied up in the end, but overall, I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes stories about human struggles and/or books similar to the Titanic stories.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Lifeboat, Reagan Arthur Books, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.