May 25, 2013

Review of “The Sims 3: Monte Vista”

The Sims 3: Monte Vista is beautifully designed new world for you to play The Sims 3 in. It brings a huge Italian influence into your game that you can use in this new world, and also introduce into your other worlds, if you choose to do so.

Game Description
Discover a landscape rich with charm and money, where villas featuring sweeping views dot the gently rolling hills. Explore the vibrant community by visiting renowned museums, taking a stroll across the piazza, or learning the culinary arts on an authentic wood-fire oven.  At The Sims 3 Monte Vista you’ll gain the inspiration of a culture that has influenced generations.  Will your Sims find the inspiration to fuel their culinary fires?


  • *All-New Gameplay Object* The Wood Fire Oven: Expand your Sims' culinary world with new recipes! Make a variety of Breads, Calzones, Lasagnas and Pizzas!
  • A Whole New World Awaits - Meet new Sims, explore new locations, and experience the gorgeous views of Monte Vista! 
  • Exclusive New Items - Customize your game with dozens of all-new exclusive objects and clothing that are only available in Monte Vista.
  • Sims 2 Legacy Family – Meet the Monty Family from Veronaville! Before they started their dire feud with the Capps, the Monty family spent their time whiling away their days peacefully in Monte Vista.”– The Sims 3: Monte Vista

My Thoughts
Italy is one of those places I want to visit (sooner rather than later). Unfortunately, I don’t see myself going anytime in the near future. However, I got to travel there with my Sims thanks to Monte Vista. It is a truly beautiful world that features many of the influences about Italy that I enjoy so much.

The landscape, buildings, and Sims included with Monte Vista are all detailed to give a truly Italian influence to the world. I love it and really appreciate the time it took for the designers to do this for the entire world.

When you think of Italy, one of the first things you think of is the excellent food. Thanks to this Sims world, you can have your Sims learn new recipes for breads, pizzas, lasagnas, and more! I really like this because my chef Sims have been bored with the lack of Italian foods they could cook until now.

My favorite part about Monte Vista is that for some reason, my game runs smoother in this world. It isn’t choppy and it hasn’t crashed my game for an unknown reason (at least not yet). For that reason alone, this has become my new “main” world that I play with.

If you enjoy playing The Sims 3, this is definitely a world you want to add to your game!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Sims 3: Monte Vista, 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 24, 2013

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth is about Wilde’s time spent in prison. It is cold, harsh, and quite different than the life he was living before being imprisoned. Take a dive into this story and feel what it was like for Wilde during his time in prison.

Book Description
Oscar Wilde has fled to France after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. Oscar has endured the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, his astonishing detective powers remain undiminished—and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol’s most celebrated inmate?” – Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

My Thoughts
Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol is a novel that is more about Wilde’s life in prison than a mystery, like the other stories in the series. After living for pure pleasure out of life, Wilde’s life in prison is quite horrible. However, he is able to eventually see it as a period in his life that he needed for his soul to evolve. Seeing Oscar Wilde in this light is quite different from the guy you normally think of or read about in such stories.

Of course no novel about Oscar Wilde is complete without some sort of murder mystery, so that is included, too. Fans of the series and Oscar Wilde will definitely enjoy this novel.

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

May 18, 2013

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace is an extremely well written, dark fairy tale quality novel for adults. It is filled with brilliant imagination, relationships, magic, love, loss, and the soul of a story that only great writers can accomplish.

Book Description
From the celebrated author of Big Fish comes an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters, their dark legacy, and the magical town that entwines them.

Helen and Rachel McCallister, who live in a town called Roam, are as different as sisters can be: Helen, older, bitter, and conniving; Rachel, beautiful, naïve—and blind. When their parents die suddenly, Rachel has to rely on Helen for everything, but Helen embraces her role in all the wrong ways, convincing Rachel that the world is a dark and dangerous place she couldn’t possibly survive on her own . . . or so Helen believes, until Rachel makes a surprising choice that turns both their worlds upside down. In this new novel, Southern literary master Daniel Wallace returns to the tradition of tall tales and folklore made memorable in his bestselling novel Big Fish. Wildly inventive and beautifully written, The Kings and Queens of Roam i s a big-hearted tale of family and the ties that bind.” – The Kings and Queens of Roam

My Thoughts
The Kings and Queens of Roam is a beautifully crafted novel. It held my interest from just reading the first few pages, and never let go. Daniel Wallace constructs his stories in such a way that you become immersed in the world with the characters. It is truly the type of book that takes you on memorable adventure.

I really enjoyed the magical and dark aspects to the story, especially since it was a bit unexpected in the world that it was created for. The characters, especially the sisters Helen and Rachel, are extremely well developed, and drive the book to being the magical masterpiece that it is.

I am not putting any spoilers in this review because it is just too good to ruin it for you when you read it. Some plots are a little bit obvious, but many will shock you. I highly recommend this to be one of the books you read next.

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

May 17, 2013

Running Out? Run In – Event at Publix

Do you stock up on products at the beginning of the month, but seem to run out of them around the middle of the month? If so, you’re in luck!

From May 15th – May 22nd, stop by Publix for the “Running Out? Run In” event to save on some of your favorite brands from General Mills and Procter & Gamble. Plus, if you buy $30 worth of participating items during this time, you can mail in to get a $10 Publix gift card for your next shopping trip there to save on whatever you want.

Participating Products:
Wheaties®, Cascadian Farm®, Honey Nut Cheerios® Medley Crunch and Total® Whole Grain Cereal (assorted varieties); Hamburger Helper® and Suddenly Salad® (assorted varieties); Totino’s® Party Pizza (assorted varieties); Totino’s® Pizza Rolls (40ct, assorted varieties); Yoplait® Light Yogurt with Granola (assorted varieties); Yoplait® Go-Gurt (8ct pkg 2.25oz, assorted varieties); Gain Laundry Detergent (100oz, assorted varieties); Dawn® Dish Detergent (20-24oz bottle, assorted varieties); Charmin® Basic Bathroom Tissue (12 double roll pkg, assorted varieties); Bounty® Dura Towel and Bounty® Paper Towels (1 King Roll, 1 Big Roll); Crest® Toothpaste (8.2 oz) + Oral-B Indicator & Complete Manual Brush (1ct) assorted varieties; Herbal Essences® (6.0 -10.7oz, assorted varieties) and Vidal Sassoon Shampoo/Conditioner (12oz, assorted varieties) 

If you’ve never shopped at Publix before, this is a great time to stop in and see my favorite grocery store. It is where shopping is truly a pleasure, and you can also save money on great products.

“Disclosure: The prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and Publix® through MyBlogSpark.”

The Essential Guide to Crystals, Minerals and Stones by Margaret Ann Lembo

The Essential Guide to Crystals, Minerals and Stones by Margaret Ann Lembo is an extraordinary guidebook to the stones that decorate our homes, jewelry, and lives. If you want to learn more about what the gemstones mean, this is an excellent guide to come back to again and again.

Book Description
This ultimate go-to reference features 160 stones you can use to improve your life on all levels—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Packed with practical information—from each stone's Mohs scale rating to its divinatory meaning—this unique guide has 190 beautiful full-color photos of specimens commonly found in metaphysical stores. Each page provides concise information: stone name, color, chakra, planet, element, zodiac sign, number, divinatory meaning, and mental, emotional, physical and spiritual uses. A series of positive affirmations is given for each stone, as well as guidance on how to use gemstones as oracles for personal development and spiritual awakening.” – The Essential Guide to Crystals, Minerals and Stones

My Thoughts
The Essential Guide to Crystals, Minerals and Stones is a truly essential book for crystals, gemstones, and minerals. If there is one book that you want to invest in to learn more about crystals, minerals, and stones – this is the book to buy!

The pictures are all in full color and the two page guide to each of the 190 specimens contains all of the information you’ll realistically need to know about each stone. You’ll learn about the color, chakra, planet, number, element, mohs scale, astrological sign, affirmation, spiritual use, mental use, emotional use, physical use, divine guidance, and general information about each stone.

You will also learn about how to choose your crystals, what the shapes and sizes mean of the stones, how to clean and charge your crystals, which gemstones work best for each chakra, how to use the stones in your home, and much more.

I absolutely love this book and have been using it almost daily since I received it. It is the perfect reference book and I have honestly learned so much from it. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Essential Guide to Crystals, Minerals and Stones, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith is a historical novel about Jane Shore, also known as the “merriest mistress” of Edward IV. It is a story of lust, love, power, and the political intrigue of this time period that Anne Easter Smith brought to our imagination in this century.

Book Description
Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows King Edward will find her irresistible.

Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard III, bent on reforming his brother’s licentious court, ascends the throne.

This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for five hundred years, and, as told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well. ” – Royal Mistress

My Thoughts
Royal Mistress is a very captivating novel. Personally, I enjoy historical fiction and history in general. I know not everyone likes this type of novel, but if you give this one a chance, I think that you will surprise yourself and keep reading it right up to the very end.

Jane is a young, vibrant, and naïve character. She is being told what to do all the time by her father, who eventually marries her off to a man she doesn’t love. Marriage doesn’t keep her from doing what she wants though, and she becomes the mistress of King Edward IV. Everything changes for the both of them from there, and this book helps us to see Jane become a stronger, more powerful version of the girl we see from the start of the novel.

Overall, I found this novel to be well-written, interesting, and captivating. Even though I knew the basics of the story of what happened in history, reading it out in this novel changed my perspective of it, and I quite enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.

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

May 11, 2013

Big Daddy’s Rules by Steve Schirripa

Big Daddy’s Rules by Steve Schirripa is a funny and honest account of the author’s life raising two girls. Known for his acting skills as being a tough guy, Steve Schirripa shows readers that he can give excellent advice to parents out there, too.

Book Description
What happens when a world-famous tough guy takes on the toughest job of all— becoming a father?

Welcome to the world of the Big Daddy.

Steve Schirripa is known for his star turns on The Sopranos and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but in his own life he’s the father of two daughters of his own—and a self-confessed human volcano. In Big Daddy’s Rules, Schirripa tells all and brings a welcome dose of old-school advice (and new-school humor) to the parenting wars. “You’re not there to be a friend,” Schirripa says bluntly. “You’re there to be a dad.”

Schirripa serves up the heartwarming and hilarious stories of how he and his wife navigated the wild waters of parenthood: from the moment the tough guy’s heart melted when he held his first-born in his arms to what he felt (and did) the time he caught someone looking at his teenage daughter’s butt.

He lays out all the rules for being a Big Daddy— someone who is strong, devoted, and always looking out for his kids’ best interests, even when that means not being the coolest dad on the block. Overprotective? Maybe. Willing to tone it down? Absolutely not. Big Daddy’s Rules is filled with tales of his over-the-top yet heartfelt parenting style—confronting bad teachers, staring down boyfriends, and explaining just how crazy you’re allowed to get if you catch your kid drinking (hint: really, really crazy).

With a mixture of street-smart bravado and self-effacing humor, Schirripa pulls no punches as he delivers his no-bull stance on what it takes to raise kids today. He’s uproariously funny, but Schirripa isn’t just cracking jokes here; this is also a call to action for dads to return to common-sense parenting and reclaim their role as protector and holder of values to be passed down. ” – Big Daddy’s Rules

My Thoughts
Big Daddy’s Rules is written by an actor of one of my all-time favorite TV series - The Sopranos. I was really excited to read this book, because even though I don’t have kids, I am at that age where a lot of other people my age have kids, and certain things that parents and kids do annoys the (insert curse word here) outta me, too.

First of all, I have to admit, Steve Schirripa is truly funny. I honestly didn’t know he was this hilarious. He also writes very well. The entire book is easy and fun to read. I found myself laughing out loud and agreeing with a huge percentage of what he comments on.

This is a great book for all parents out there to read, and hopefully they’ll learn a thing or two from it, so Steve Schirripa won’t consider them one of those parents who need to be slapped. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Big Daddy’s Rules, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse Review

When it comes to PC gaming, your mouse is important. If you are just using a standard mouse, you are missing out on your full capability to really play at the level you want to play at. The “Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse” is the perfect gaming mouse to start out using. It has all the settings you’ll realistically need to start out with, and help your gaming much more than you can imagine.

Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse Features
Data Over CableThe game doesn’t need to stop when it’s time to recharge. G700s charges during play over its standard Micro-USB cable. To power up, switch seamlessly from wireless to data-over-cable connection over a standard Micro-USB cable. The standard AA NiMH batteries charge up while you stay in the game.

13 Programmable Controls - Achieve great results with the default configuration straight out of the box. Or, set up one-button triggers for actions that typically require digging into menus. Put push-to-talk communications in easier reach. Temporarily down-shift DPI for sniping. Reassign any game command or multi-command macro to any one of 13 programmable buttons with optional Logitech Gaming Software (LGS).*

Consistent Report Rate, Wired or Wireless - Be confident that your every command is executed as quickly as possible. G700s maintains a consistent 1 ms report rate, whether over 2.4 GHz wireless or connected by USB. Up to eight times faster than a standard USB mouse, G700s captures your moves as fast as you can make them.

In-Game Sensitivity Switching - Make the right moves in any game situation. Shift through up to 10 DPI settings, from pixel-precise targeting (200 DPI) to lightning-fast maneuvers (up to 8200 DPI) with a single button press, conveniently located behind the scroll wheel.

Dual-Mode Scroll Wheel - Unlike most mouse scroll wheels, G700s features hyper-fast, dual-mode scrolling. When gaming, quickly and accurately select menu options with click-to-click precision. Or, zip through Web pages with a quick flick of the free-spinning hyper-fast scroll wheel.

Plug-and-Forget Nano Receiver - Ready for any laptop or LAN party, G700s includes a tiny receiver that can stay plugged in a USB port without getting in the way. Or store it away in the battery compartment when it’s not needed.

Ultra-Durable Build - Gaming conditions torture typical mice. G700s is designed to endure. Upgraded primary mechanical microswitches are rated to a 20 million-click lifespan. Low-friction polytetrafluoroethylene feet are tested to last an amazing 250 km. Whatever you can dish out, G700s will stand up to it.

Slick Feet - Low-friction polytetrafluoroethylene feet reduce drag for faster motions, smoother cursor movements, and improved accuracy.

Intuitive Shape and Design - With a naturally shaped grip designed for maximum comfort over hours of use, you’ll always be the last gamer standing. The individually sculpted buttons are easily identifiable by touch, ready when you need them, and unobtrusive when you don’t.

Advanced Surface Materials - We used infrared imaging to determine strategic tactile zones where the hand meets the mouse surface. We applied advanced materials to each zone for improved comfort and durability. The hydrophobic coating on the palm area helps prevent your hand from sticking. For heavy contact zones, we added a fingerprint-resistant coating to the primary buttons. And, dry grip on the sides ensures a steady hand.

Gaming-Grade Laser - When the difference between MVP and also-ran is measured in pixels, laser sharp sensitivity pays off. G700s uses a gaming-grade laser that delivers precision at any hand speed and works across a wide range of surfaces to register even the most subtle of hand movements.

Onboard Memory Profiles - Every game requires its own unique setup, be it World of Tanks or League of Legends. Program all 13 buttons* across 3 profiles for individual players or games and you can bring your setup to other PCs. Configure your mouse once. It remembers.

LED Display - Keep an eye on your DPI sensitivity and battery power that stays in view underneath your hand.

Easy to Use Setup Software - Use the optional Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) to perfectly match its commands to your favorite games. Simple drag-and-drop settings allow you to customize button and tracking profiles for any game you play. Or, use pre-configured customizations with automatic game detection.*” – Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse

My Thoughts
Before using this gaming mouse, I had never used a rechargeable or wireless mouse before. I was always a little bit leery of doing so because I thought you had to buy batteries for it, and I also thought that it would drain quickly, leaving me having to buy batteries for it all the time. Plus, knowing my luck, it would probably stop working with no notice in the middle of an important gaming event.

I tested this mouse out while playing “Guild Wars 2” – my favorite MMO. I used it with the mouse plugged in and also wireless. I also used this mouse for just browsing the web and doing normal things on the computer.

For gaming purposes, I found this mouse to be excellent. It never stalled out on me, and was always extremely fast and had great precision. I like to have the DPI setting quite high, so I don’t have to move my wrist as much when moving around in games. This mouse offers the ability to do so quite easily. You do have to setup the Logitech software and save your settings though. If you don’t do that, it won’t save the settings for your next use.

For general computer use this mouse works flawlessly, too. I was also able to move it to use between my desktop PC and laptop easily. It is fast, comfortable, and very easy to setup. None of the features and settings are too hard to understand or program, so even the beginner to gaming mice options should be able to convert to this one with ease. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: Thank you to Logitech for providing me with the product for review. All opinions, experiences, and thoughts about the product being reviewed are my own.

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern is a funny, yet touching book about what matters in life. Sometimes with everything going in life, you forget about the basics, but books like this help you to remember those simple, yet important life lessons.

Book Description
"Dear Lucy Silchester, You have an appointment for Monday, May 30, 2011. Yours sincerely, Life."

Lucy Silchester keeps receiving this appointment card and sweeping the envelope under the rug. Literally. Instead, she has busied herself with work (a job she doesn't love), helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, seeing her family, and devoting her time to their life dramas. But she's stuck in a rut and deluding everyone. Only Lucy knows the real truth.

Then one day life shows up at her door, in the form of a rather run-down man in an old suit, who is determined to bring about change. Life follows Lucy everywhere—the office, bars—meets her flabbergasted friends, and won't let Lucy off the hook. What she learns in the process is that some of the choices she's made, and stories she's told, aren't what they seem either. Now her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory . . . unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.” – The Time of My Life

My Thoughts
The Time of My Life features a character by the name of Lucy, who is just your average girl who is living an ordinary life. Nothing is wrong with her, and she is just fine. How many times have all of us said that we are “fine” when really, deep down, we aren’t? Life comes and breaks Lucy out of her ordinary existence, and makes her realize that the life she has been living isn’t what she really wants out of life.

This is a funny and lighthearted book with a big message to everyone who reads it. Reading about Lucy’s life, it makes us reflect on our own lives, and realize that the really important things that sometimes get pushed under the rug really do matter.

I enjoyed reading this book. It is a good moral story with a twist of the magical, which I am always fond of. I definitely recommend it to everyone who needs a reminder of some important life lessons.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Time of My Life, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 9, 2013

Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt

I love yogurt and found a great deal to share with all of you on Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt.

From May 11th – 31st Publix is offering this delicious yogurt for 10 for $10. Try flavors such as Black Cherry, Lemon, Mixed Berry, Peach, Tropical, and many more! Figure out which are your favorites, and enjoy the yummy goodness!

This is seriously my new favorite yogurt because it is delicious, and only 100 calories! I’m not gonna lie and say it completely fills me up like a whole meal would, but it is very satisfying and helps curve my appetite, which is a good thing.

So, if you are looking for a new snack to try, stop by Publix and check out this yogurt during the promotion, and let me know what you think of it.

Disclosure: "The information and gift pack were provided by General Mills and Publix® through MyBlogSpark."