Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Green Virgin Liquid Soap Nuts Review

I have been using soap nuts for a few years now, but for someone who is not familiar with them, they might be a little intimidating. I was thrilled to hear that there is a liquid version of soap nuts and I was even more excited to give it a try!

If you are unfamiliar with soap nuts, they are the shell of the fruit of sapindus trees. This is the only laundry product you can get that grows on trees! That makes this pretty much the safest thing to use in your washing machine to clean your clothes. You can not get more natural than right off of the tree. The liquid version made by Green Virgin  is comprised of the main ingredient sapindus mukurossi soap liquid and caprylyl glycol and phenethyl alcohol as the preservatives. All ingredients rate as a 0 (the best rating) on the Skin Deep Database, so this is a safe product to use for your clothes. It comes with a pump and it says for HE washers that you only need to use two pumps.  That is 120 loads in a tiny 8 oz bottle! I have a top loading washer, which requires three pumps of liquid, but that would still last a while! When I first pumped it in, I noticed that it is a brown liquid, which is a little different than the norm, but I have used this laundry soap several times now and the coloring has not effected the outcome of any laundry I have done. There is a distinct smell to the laundry soap, but I have not noticed that it leaves any scent on the clothes. I like to use dryer balls with essential oils infused for scenting my laundry. 
I have been impressed with Green Virgin's Liquid Soap Nuts so far. It does a great job getting my clothes super clean and since it is so concentrated, it takes up less space in the laundry room and also lasts longer than some of the big containers you would get at the store that contain all kinds of bad chemicals. Liquid Soap Nuts are great for naturally cleaning your clothes, contributing less to waste (because of the small bottles/long lasting product:) and better for you and your family to be around because the liquid does not contain any chemicals.

Green Virgin has a sample bottle of the liquid soap (that will take care of 6 loads of laundry) for .50 cents if you want to give it a try before you commit. I highly recommend giving it a try!

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Escape Monthly July/India box review

There is probably nothing I love more than traveling when I can. I think it is so much fun to explore new places and explore new cultures. I do not get to travel as often as I would like or go to all of the places on my travel bucket list, so when I heard about Escape Monthly I was ecstatic! Escape Monthly is a subscription box. Each month they pick a new destination, gather cool items from the destination, jam pack a box with said items and ship them to your doorstep. The coolest thing about it is that each month, one lucky subscriber wins a trip to wherever the destination is! Past escapes have included: Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Colorado and Ireland. July's escape was to India and so far it was my favorite!

There were tons of great items in the India box. In addition to the travel book about the Taj Mahal and surrounding areas, my absolute favorite thing included was a bottle of Amber perfume oil. It smells fantastic. I have been wearing it daily.  There was a small bottle of gee included which I promptly used to enhance the rice I was cooking in the rice cooker that night. You know if the family eats all of their brown rice (at least in my white rice loving house) that whatever was used to cook it must have been some good stuff! Madras curry and Korma curry were also in the box. I used the Korma for some chicken the same night as I used the ghee. It was okay as far as taste goes (Indian food is supposed to have a bit of spice kick to it, and this korma fell short in that department), but I was glad to see that Saffron Road (the company that makes it) is GMO free. That is enough to prompt me to buy it again and add my own spices and to try other Saffron Road products. Another really cool thing included in this box was the Masala Pop Chai Masala Popcorn. It is a unique twist on popcorn with authentic Indian flavors. The cardamom gave it a wonderful taste. The kids and I absolutely loved it. As with every Escape Monthly box, there were a couple of bath and body products included. There was a sample of Banyan Botanical's Neem & Aloe soap and Healthy Hair Oil from the same company. I am really excited to use the hair oil because I know it will make hair look shinier and healthier. Last but not least, for a bonus item Escape Monthly through in some cute Bindi decals for the forehead. These are a tradition in India said to represent one's wisdom. They also look really cute! Although it had nothing to do with India and wasn't listed in the brochure as one of the items, they also through in a Juice Beauty hand cream! It was a nice extra bonus!

There wasn't a thing in this box that I didn't like. That makes me even more excited for next month's escape. THE ONE I have been waiting for- PARIS!! If you are not already receiving these boxes, this is the month to sign up! Boxes will ship mid-month and I will be counting down the days and crossing my fingers to be the lucky one to win the trip to Paris! If you are a new member, you can get 20% off of your subscription by entering the code PARISESCAPE at checkout!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (Book Review)

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

About the book-

A lively step up from early chapter books, this seafaring romp is packed with hilarious art, lovable misfits, meddlesome monkeys, and tons of kid appeal.

When Oliver's explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?

My thoughts-

My kids are still young and are not quite into chapter books yet (my daughter i almost there though!), but I can't wait until the day that they are! It is so fun to come to the realization that you can have such fun adventures through someone else's words using your imagination! I love to read children's books of all sorts so that when they do get to the age to read more difficult books, we will have a library full of them at home to chose from. I recently had the opportunity to read Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. It is a very imaginative fantasy book that I think little kids would love. Oliver is a likable character and from the very beginning pages, he is on an epic adventure. I love that this book is short enough to not be overwhelming for a young chapter book reader, but there is enough going on in the plot to keep an older child interested as well. The illustrations are lively and adorable and there are fun characters that Oliver meets along the way and I loved the wonderful wit throughout the story! I would recommend this book to parents with young kids ready for chapter books to read together with them and for independent young reader's alike. 

Oliver and the Seawigs will be available for purchase on July 22, 2014. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

About the author-

Philip Reeve is the acclaimed author of the Mortal Engines/Predator Cities series, the Fever Crumb series, and Here Lies Arthur (2008 Carnegie Medal Winner). He was born and raised in the seaside town of Brighton, and has been writing down adventures since he was five years old. (www.philip-reeve.com)

About the illustrator-

Sarah McIntyre has written and illustrated several picture books and comics for children. Her delightfully over-the-top drawings and mischievious monkey illustrations brought Philip and Sarah together for this series. (www.jabberworks.co.uk)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revolutionary (Anomaly #3) by Krista McGee Blog Tour & Book Review + Enter to Win All 3 Books in the Series!

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

About the book- 

All her life Thalli thought she was an anomaly. Now she must use her gifts to fulfill the role she was called to play: Revolutionary. Back in the underground State against her will, Thalli is no longer the anomaly she was before. She has proven herself to be a powerful leader aboveground and returns with information that Dr. Loudin needs to complete his plan of uniting the world under one leader: himself. But he, too, has information. A secret he has kept from Thalli her entire life. A secret that, once revealed, changes everything about the person Thalli thought she was. Hoping to help Thalli rise up against the Scientists, both Berk and Alex join her underground, but their presence only brings more trouble for her. Now Dr. Loudin knows just the leverage to use on his captive, and she is forced to choose between the two of them. Is her first love her true love? Or does Alex ultimately claim her heart? Unsure of everything around her, including her own identity, Thalli doesn't know where to turn. She knows she needs the Designer, but he seems further away than ever. What she does know, though, is that if she doesn't do something to stop Loudin, the fragile world above ground will be lost once and for all.

Revolutionary is the 3rd book in the Anomaly trilogy. Check out my review for the first two books by clicking on the titles- Anomaly #1, Luminary #2. You will want to read the first two books before you set out to read Revolutionary.

My thoughts-

Revolutionary picks up right where Luminary left off. We found out what has become of Thalli and her friends and some intense action scenes take place throughout this book. Thalli is still trying to figure out how she feels about both Alex and Berk in the midst of trying to figure out what she can do to fix the dystopian world that she lives in. There is a great plot twist involving Dr. Loudin and Thalli and Thalli also gets to know James better. Throughout the book I wonder which side James is on, Mcgee definitely keeps us guessing where his heart lies. As it's two predecessors, this novel is centered around faith in God. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel and thought it was a different take on a dystopian trilogy. It was done well. I was just as into this novel as I was the first two books in the trilogy. Revolutionary was definitely edge of your seat reading. I was left wondering many times who might get out alive and if Thalli and company would be able to stop the evil Dr. Loudin. As far as this book ending the trilogy, I was left somehow feeling a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this was a great book and everything was concluded and wrapped up nicely, but I felt like something was missing. I guess I expected the book to go out with a bigger bang since it was the end to a series, but I would absolutely still recommend the Anomaly trilogy to anyone who is interested in dystopian fiction, christian fiction or ya fiction.

About the author-

Krista writes for teens, teaches teens, and more often than not, acts like a teen. She and her family have lived and ministered in Texas, Costa Rica, and Spain. Her current hometown is Tampa, FL.

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is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books & The Book Depository

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson (Book Review)

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

I live in Texas and grew up in a family full of wonderful southern cooks and bakers and as a result, I grew to love cooking quite a bit myself. Add to that a mother who is known to eat dessert before her meal instead of after and I have always battled a sugar addiction. I was really excited when I came across this title on Blogging for Books and I had high hopes that it would be exactly what I needed. I absolutely loved the beautiful front cover and then flipping through to check out the other pages, this is just a beautifully presented book that will catch your eye with it's pop's of color throughout. As far as the actual book goes, I did agree with much of what the book says, I can not however agree that sugar is sugar. The sugar in fruit is quite different than using overly processed table sugar, but I get what the author means as far as really needing to give it all up to detox your body for the 8 week program. It is evident in her writing and her recipes that she feels the same way, that sentence in the beginning just irked me a bit. As far as the actual book goes, there is a lot of useful information to be read and I love that there are tons of great recipes in the book. I have bookmarked at least half of them to try it. Although these recipes are sugar free, several rely on the use of stevia or brown rice syrup so you don't have to give up all sweetness forever. I definitely plan to try many of these recipes very soon. I recommend this book to anyone looking to get a hold on their sugar addiction or just looking to have a more well rounded view of healthy living.

About the author-

Sarah Wilson is a journalist, television host, and blogger, and a qualified Health Coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

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I Quit Sugar is now available from Random House.

Guilt by Degrees (Rachel Knight #2) by Marcia Clark (Book Review)

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

About the book-

Someone has been watching D.A. Rachel Knight—someone who's Rachel's equal in brains, but with more malicious intentions. It began when a near-impossible case fell into Rachel's lap, the suspectless homicide of a homeless man. In the face of courthouse backbiting and a gauzy web of clues, Rachel is determined to deliver justice. She's got back-up: tough-as-nails Detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey stir things up, they're shocked to uncover a connection with the vicious murder of an LAPD cop a year earlier. Something tells Rachel someone knows the truth, someone who'd kill to keep it secret.

Harrowing, smart, and riotously entertaining, Guilt by Degrees is a thrilling ride through the world of LA courts with the unforgettable Rachel Knight.

My thoughts-

This is the second book in Marcia Clark's book series featuring D.A. Rachel Knight. I hadn't realized Marcia Clark wrote novels at all until I came across the first book in the series,Guilt by Association, and really enjoyed reading it so much that I couldn't wait to read more books in the series. Guilt by Degrees was an enjoyable novel. I always love book series' because they allow us as readers more time to get to know these characters that we may have become attached to and aren't quite ready to say goodbye to like we would have to do in a one and done stand alone novel. It allows more room for character development and to delve further into the protagonist's world. Rachel night is a complicated person, so it is going to take several novels to get her full story, so I am thankful this is a series because there is still so much I want to know about her. In this particular story, Rachel Knight and company are attempting to solve a murder case of a homeless man. In the process of learning about the case and more about the victim, Simon, we discover this case may be related to another murder that took place in the past where the victim is someone close to Simon. I enjoyed the interweaving of the two stories and how everything feel into place. I didn't feel like there was enough of Graden in this book, so I hope there is more focus on the love story in the next book. As far as this novel goes, the only complaint I have is the same as it was for the first novel, it is just way too wordy. I do not mind reading a lengthy novel if all of the details are important to the story, but I feel like there are too many instances in Clark's novels of spending more time than necessary describing things that are unimportant. I found myself skimming over several passages because of this, but I definitely still enjoyed the book and I don't think the overly-wordy descriptions should stop anyone from giving these books a chance. I have already started reading the third book Killer Ambition myself! I recommend Guilt By Degrees to anyone who enjoys courtroom thrillers or suspense novels. 
About the author-

Marcia Clark began her law career as a criminal defense attorney. In 1981, she became a prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office where she handled a number of high profile cases prior to and including the O. J. Simpson trial.

In May of 1997, Clark wrote a book the Simpson case called Without a Doubt. It quickly rose to #1 on several best seller lists including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal LA Times, among others.

In addition to her law career, Clark has toured the country giving lectures on women's issues, was a legal analyst and expert for several television networks between 1998-2000, has appeared on several other shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show", "Larry King Live", "The Today Show", "The Early Show", "Good Morning American" and many others. She has also been involved in writing several tv pilots. 

Guilt by Degrees is the second novel in a series of novels about prosecutor Rachel Knight. These books have been optioned as a television show and are currently in development for TNT. She will serve as Executive Director of the show.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

When Calls the Heart "The Dance" Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of When Calls the Heart "The Dance" from Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About When Calls the Heart-

When Calls the Heart is a television show on the Hallmark Channel based on the writings of Janette Oke that debuted on the Hallmark Channel to more than 3 million viewers, making it the #2 show for the night on all of cable for the primary telecast at 9 p.m and #3 overall in households. The show is about Elizabeth Thatcher, a young high society woman who is now working as a teacher on the western frontier. "The Dance" is a feature length film that can be purchased on Amazon.com or the entire series can be watched on the Hallmark Channel or Amazon Instant Video. To see my reviews for previous feature length films in this series see in this order-
When Calls the Heart: a film by Michael Landon, Jr.
When Calls the Heart  "Lost and Found"
 When Calls the Heart "A Telling Silence"

"The Dance" is about new minors coming into town and they all happen to be bachelors. Elizabeth meets Billy who seems to be smitten with her. Jack seems weary of Billy, but is that because he is jealous or because he really has a bad feeling about the newcomer? The other women in town also become interested in the new men around and there is a dance to welcome them to town at the end.

My thoughts- 

I always love watching new episodes of When Calls the Heart. I love reading historical fiction and it seems the same is true about watching it. I like that we get to take a peek into another time period and how things might have been at that time. I also love that their is a sweet love story brewing without being over the top about it. The further I get into the series the more hooked I am and the more I want to find out what happens next. This is especially true of "The Dance". I enjoyed the element of suspense with the Billy/Jack story line. I really didn't know whether Billy was a good guy or a bad guy, but I was kind of rooting for him to be a bad guy because I love Jack and although I knew some of him being weary of Billy was jealousy of the relationship he was forming with Elizabeth, I also know he has her best interest at heart. I also enjoyed the new minors being in town and the introduction of a few new characters and possible romances brewing. I look forward to continuing the series and I can't wait to see what is going to happen next, both between Elizabeth and Jack and with the rebuilding of the town.

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Watch the trailer for When Calls the Heart "The Dance" below.