Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Tucci Table (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Featuring family-friendly recipes and stunning photography, an all-new cookbook from New York Times bestselling author, beloved actor, and respected foodie Stanley Tucci.

Stanley Tucci’s association with wonderful foods began for fans with the movie Big Night and resonated in his role as Julia Child’s husband in Julie & Julia. But well before these films, he was enjoying innovative homemade Italian meals throughout his childhood, when family and food were nearly inseparable and cooking was always a familial venture.

Now, in a completely new, family-focused cookbook, Tucci captivates food lovers’ imaginations with recipes from his traditional Italian roots as well as those of his British wife, Felicity Blunt, tied together with a modern American ribbon. The time-tested recipes include pasta alla bottarga, mushroom-stuffed trout, pork chops with onions and mustard sauce, barbeque chicken wings, and much, much more! Nothing will make you happier to spend time with family than the aroma of a hearty Italian dish sizzling on the stovetop.

Featuring 100 luscious new full-color photographs, The Tucci Table captures the true joys of family cooking. Buon apetito!

My thoughts-

When I saw that Stanley Tucci had a cookbook coming out, I had to read it. Immediately .I am always compelled to watch everything he is in and apparently, I am also compelled to know what goes on in his kitchen. I learned a couple of new things that I probably should already know. A. He has released previous cookbooks (that I can not wait to check out!) and b. he is married to Felicity Blunt. If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, perhaps you have heard of her sister Emily? You know, Emily Blunt, who was in The Devil Wears Prada with Stanley Tucci! I think it is adorable that Tucci met his wife through his former co-star. I also think Felcity's background also lends a hand at making this an all around great cookbook. Tucci's Italian roots are the main focus of the recipes, but there are some great British recipe in the book to celebrate his wife as well. I was salivating as I read each recipe. I loved that these are all wholesome, whole foods, from scratch recipes. I would pretty much try anything in this book. The thing that really ties the recipes together are the personal stories from Tucci throughout the pages. There is something about memories evoked by the recipes that make the even more special. If you are a fan of Stanley Tucci or are a foodie, you will enjoy The Tucci Table.

The Tucci Table will be available October 28. You can pre-order it on

When Calls the Heart: Change of Heart Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Edify Media. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.

See my reviews of the previous episodes before reading this one if you don't want to read spoilers of the series.

When Calls the Heart: a film by Michael Landon, Jr.
When Calls the Heart  "Lost and Found"
 When Calls the Heart "A Telling Silence"

When Calls the Heart "The Dance"

When Calls the Heart "Second Chances"

About the episode-

Jack finally gets Elizabeth to agree to join him for a dinner date just as Elizabeth's young sister, Julie Thatcher, arrives in Coal valley, surprising Elizabeth. Julie is accompanied by Mountie Patrick O'Reilly, the man who has been sent to inform Jack of his new posting and become the new Constable of Coal Valley. Jack had already forgotten that he sent in a request to transfer the week he arrived in Coal Valley, and the news takes him by surprise.

My thoughts-

I always get so excited when I get the opportunity to review episodes of When Calls the Heart. I think it is just the cutest show and I can never wait to see the relationship continue to develop between Elizabeth and Jack so this was a really exciting episode for me! He FINALLY asks her out on a real date and makes it clear that he is into her! It was done in a really cute way too. It definitely made me smile. Of course, there always has to be a conflict of some sort and of course right as Jack realizes he wants to pursue Elizabeth another Mountie shows up telling him his request to change posts has been granted. Elizabeth's sister Julie comes with Mountie Patrick to surprise her sister and gets into some interesting situations of her own. Julie has a very romantic outlook on life so it is interesting to see that play out for her in this new place among new people and to see Elizabeth try to warn her about it. My favorite parts of the episode (as always) are the scenes between Elizabeth and Jack, but there are also some very dramatic moments with Abigail as she tries to figure out what happened in the mine and, The whole overall episode was wonderful. I can not wait to see what happens on the next one!

When Calls the Heart :Change of Heart" will be available for purchase on December 30. You can pre-order it on

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt BlogTour & Book Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Litfuse Group in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.

About the book-

What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "it's about you." The author is your college ex. In The Mason Jar, Clayton "Finn" Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk; letters of counsel and affirmation. When Finn attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark, debutante from Colorado, named Eden. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Finn is left with unanswered questions. Finn goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Finn returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Finn know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar. A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her and a reunion they never imagined. Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational romance that brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending that encourages us to love again, and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with Wolves, A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall.

My thoughts-

I don't think any of us forget our first love. There is just something about that first strong, serious, romantic relationship that grabs ours hearts and always has a place there. Finn falls hard for Eden and very quickly. She is the first girl he dates and he can't get her out of his mind. I think a big part of that is the harsh and quick way she leaves without much closure for the relationship. Finn wasn't interested in having a relationship before her and there is no one that interests him after either. A part of me wishes Eden would have told him exactly why she had to leave, but I can also understand why she did what she did. I liked the idea of having a novel within the novel, that was definitely interesting. It gave us the opportunity to discover what Finn had been up to and what he had been feeling through Eden's eyes. Besides the great storyline between Eden and Finn, I absolutely adore that this book is about overseas missions and microlending. These are things that maybe the average person doesn't know a great deal about, so hopefully this book will open some new doors for some of it's readers.

I thought The Mason Jar was a beautifully written book. It only took me a few days to work my way through it. It will definitely keep the interest of anyone who enjoys a good love story. I can't wait to see what future books James Russell Lingerfelt comes up with, I will definitely be reading them!

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Younique 3D Fiber Lash Mascara Giveaway!

A while back I wrote a glowing review of Younique's 3D Fiber Lashes. A good friend of mine had started selling Younique products and I had a party for her, tried the mascara and all of the other products and fell in love. I fell so deeply in love that I joined Younique as a presenter myself! I love everything about this product. Not only does the fiber lash mascara give you 3 times the length and volume of mascara, it is made of natural products. Do you know what is in your mascara? A bunch of stuff you probably don't want to know about! Here is a comparison-

As someone who only uses natural products and who advocates the same on this blog, I was so excited to find a makeup company like Younique who feels the same way! It is important to put good food in our bodies, but it is equally as important to use products ON our bodies that are free of synthetic chemicals. This was the biggest reason that I fell for Younique, but the other huge reason is because it looks SO fantastic-

If you are interested in looking beautiful, working from home, mostly on social networks, and getting instant commissions, I would love to have you on my Younique team! We have a fabulous and encouraging support system and I know you will love being on the team! Contact me for more information or join here! 

I love the 3D fiber lash mascara so much and I am confident you will too! That is why I am giving away a set here for one lucky follower! I want to share this amazing product (and all of the other amazing products also made by Younique!) with anyone that I can! Enter below via the Rafflecopter for your chance to win! 

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Friday, October 3, 2014

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom. 

The Underground Girls of Kabul 
is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents’ attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults. 

At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.

My thoughts-

When I read stories about the oppression women deal with in other parts of the world, especially the middle east, I am so very thankful to have been born an American. I could not imagine my whole existence being nothing more than bearing a male child or to be ostracized, shamed or even starved by my family for having a girl. I ave never heard of the practice of bacha posh, but that is exactly why this book intrigued me. I tried to imagine myself in these women's shoes and I could see why they would dress up their girls as boys. It is a desperate measure, but it can make all of the difference in a family. I find it appalling that these Afghani men could treat their women this way. It just does not make sense to me. A. A woman can not control what sex her child is (the Afghani people believe that they can just through sheer determination) and b. the man's sperm is actually what determines to the sex of a baby. Imagine if these men realized they were to blame for what they consider a shortcoming. Honestly, I doubt it would make a difference. This book broke my heart. I knew that it is looked down upon to have all girls or to not be able to bear a son, but I had no idea about the shaming and starving and just downright mean treatment of these women. It makes perfect sense that to have a better life as a family they would resort to presenting their girls as boys. I can not imagine the fear they must feel pretty constantly at being found out or the desperation that lead them to make the decision to live this way, but at the same time I applaud them and admire them for fighting the only way they can against the oppressive society in which they live. This was a fascinating story. I do not think many people realize the atrocities that happen when it comes to child bearing in the middle east and even if they do, this is definitely an interesting read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes learning about other cultures or who is interested in social change. 

Connect with Jenny Nordberg on Facebook
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Luxe Home Essentials Microfiber Kitchen Dish Towels Review

I spend the good majority of my time in my kitchen. I love to cook and even if I didn't, I feel it is necessary to cook when I can for my family because of the current state of our "food" supply. Being in the kitchen cooking 3 meals a day makes for a lot of dishes and a lot of messes so I need good cleaning tools to help me get my kitchen back in order for the next round of cleaning. Luxe Home Essentials Microfiber Kitchen Dish Towels are the perfect towels to have in your kitchen. They come in a pack of 3, which is awesome for when you need to have a towel or two in the wash, you always have a backup! These dish towels are made out of microfiber cloth which can absorb up 10 times it's weight in water, making it perfect for cleaning up big messes. It also makes a great towel for cleaning and drying dishes. I have been using these multiple times daily since they arrived and I don't see that slowing down any time soon. I absolutely recommend getting a set of these (very affordable) microfiber kitchen dish towels on They only come in white, which is my only complaint. I wish they came in multiple colors so they could be matched to each individual's kitchen  decor (ours is olive green and eggplant purple), but if they have to come in just one color, white is definitely  as neutral as you can get. I am happy to have found towels durable enough to clean all of my kitchen counters (I have a lot of space and it can take multiple rags to get the whole kitchen clean). It is nice to get the kitchen clean in one swoop!

*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding Mr. Darcy (High School Edition) Blog Tour & Book Review + Enter to Win a Copy of the Book & an Amazon Gift Card!

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via YA Bound Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Sixteen-year-old Liza Johnson takes fangirl to a whole new level of crazy when she decides to take dating advice from her literary hero: Jane Austen.

With the help of her best friends, Liza sheds her ancient-speak and complete Austen wardrobe for something a bit more modern in an attempt at finding her very own Mr. Darcy.

Enter Will, the new kid and Liza's Darcy incarnate. Add her BFF's ex to mix and the sexy Brit who kisses with an accent, and Liza is in trouble.

So, what's a girl to do? Without her mom to go to relationship advice, Liza turns to the only person she can truly trust with matters of the heart via her mother's copy of COMPLETED WORKS OF JANE AUSTEN.

It's too bad Austen's heroines have never played Spin the Bottle or Seven Minutes in Heaven. Liza's determined to find her true Austen-esque happy ending, but if she can't trust herself instead of books, she just might end up in her own tragic love story.

About the book-

I read this book in one setting after I put my kids to bed one night. It is not super long and it is quite engaging so it was an easy one to work my way through. As a Jane Austen fan, I was thrilled to see a book like this, aimed at high schoolers and about a high schooler who is an Austen super fan. I loved all of the references to Jane Austen books, which will hopefully lead  a new generation to Austen's beautiful, witty, romantic novels. This book is about Liza discovering the woes of dating and trying to figure out exactly what it is she wants in a guy. Using Mr. Darcy as the ultimate example, Liza has to decide who it is she wants to be with when she has several guys after her suddenly after feeling like she had never had any boys liking her before.  I really enjoyed going on Liza's journey with her whether she was at school or in England for a surprise trip. Any teenage girl (or woman who once was one of these creatures) will find herself relating to the inner dialogue in Liza's head about boys, what they want and what she wants. Finding Mr. Darcy is a fun, light read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a romantic story line or young adult novels. 

About the Author-

Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kinds of books she enjoys reading. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially loves the ones with kissing scenes.

Erin lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but will venture out for chocolate and sunshine. She is the author of BLOOD HEX, a YA paranormal, HOW WE LIVED, a contemporary New Adult novel, and FINDING MR. DARCY: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION, a contemporary YA.
$10 Amazon Gift Card + ebook of Finding Mr. Darcy (INT)

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