Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rosa Regale Sparkling Red Wine (by Banfi) Review

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a complimentary bottle of Rosa Regale in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

The other day I got a lovely surprise...the FedEx guy showed up on my doorstep with what is the most beautiful bottle of wine I have ever seen! I loved everything from the color to the label to the nice added touch of a little box of chocolate around the neck of the bottle. I couldn't wait to give this wine a try. I texted  my husband and told him to buy some imported cheese on his way home and we planned to have an in home fancy date night together that evening.

Rosa Regale is a sweet, sparkling red wine tat is imported from Italy. It is best served chilled, so I put it in the fridge and waited for Adam to get home from work. We got all of our little ones put to bed and out came the wine, chocolate and cheese. I am not generally a huge red wine fan, but I do love sparkling wines, so I thought I would probably be a fan of this one. We poured a few glasses and gave it a try- for me, it was love at first sip. This is seriously the best wine I have ever tasted. Seriously, the BEST. It isn't overpowering because the alcohol content isn't high, but it is so full of flavor. I noticed that the strawberries were the most prominent taste for me (which is great because I love them!) but I definitely tasted  hints of raspberry and rose petals. After we took a minute to taste the wine alone, we decided to have some of our cheese and it seemed to pair nicely. I am pretty sure this wine would go with just about any meal super well. It was great with the cheese. We saved the chocolate for last and it was like a flavor explosion in my mouth. Brix chocolate is made specifically to be paired with wine and let me say, they did a fantastic job on it. The chocolate comes in a brick. You can see in the picture that the brick is small, but a little goes such a long way.  The Rosa Regale and Brix chocolate were a match made in heaven. They complimented each other even better than I expected they would. We were, without a doubt, very impressed with both the lovely Rosa Regale and the wonderful Brix chocolate. They would make a perfect Valentine's Day pairing. (and will probably make another appearance at our house on that day!)

This is the type of wine that I could definitely see myself bringing as a hostess gift to get togethers and this will most assuredly be my go-to for special occasions from here on out. I absolutely can not rave about it enough, this is one you definitely need to try for yourself to see (taste) what I am talking about. I absolutely recommend giving the Rosa Regale a try!

For more information on Rosa Regale head over to
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Praises for Rosa Regale.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson (Book Review)

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

About the book:

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She's conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can't bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

My thoughts:

I thought this was a very different premise for a YA novel and I liked the thought of that. The book was easy to read through fairly quickly as well, always a good thing in my book. I do think that many times kids/teenagers don't really understand each other's problems because they are so innately self absorbed and I think this book might open their eyes to what someone else might go through. This book was suspenseful and kept you wondering throughout exactly what it is Laila's father did in their home country and it also keeps you on edge trying to figure out if her mother was involved, but the most interesting parts of the story to me where the parts where Laila was trying to navigate through all of the changes around her from moving. I think it would be tough for anyone who hasn't moved to a different country to really wrap their heads around what a huge change it could be, especially someone moving from a repressed Middle Eastern area to the very lax by comparison United States, especially as a vulnerable teenager. I enjoyed the rest of the cast of characters too, the naïve and innocent Bastien, Laila's six year old brother, Laila's new classmates at school and her efforts to relate to them and Amir, someone around the same age from the same country as Laila, but her social inferior back home. The character development in this novel was outstanding, I really believed that each of these characters could be real people. I believe that the author, a former CIA agent, definitely used her prior job and her time living in the Middle East herself to come up with a believable cast of characters with a story that definitely could reflect real life in several ways. I felt like the ending was slightly predictable, but that is nothing that should stop anyone from reading this story. It was nice to have something different to read for a change, so I would recommend The Tyrant's Daughter to anyone who is looking for something slightly different than the norm, but still great fiction.

About the author:

J. C. CARLESON is a former undercover CIA officer who has navigated war zones, jumped out of airplanes, and worked on the frontlines of international conflicts. She now lives and writes in Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Her previous publications include the novel Cloaks and Veils, and Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer.

Connect with J.C. Carleson on Goodreads

The Tyrant's Daughter will be available for purchase on February 11. You can pre-order your copy on

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tepamine HCL Review & Giveaway!

*Disclosure of material connection- I was provided a free bottle of Tepamine HCL in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

I feel like every since I started dating my (now) husband, I have slowly put on weight over these last ten years. We got married 3 years in, 6 months after we got married I was pregnant with our first baby and 22 months after her arrival I was pregnant with twin boys. My kids are 6, 4 & 4 now and I have been struggling with really taking off the pounds that make me uncomfortable. I managed to take most of it off a few years back and then gained most of it back. It can be such a struggle to be a mom to 3, take care of all of their needs, my husband's needs, the cooking and house duties, paying the bills and whatever else we as moms need to do. So it doesn't hurt to have a little help to get started is always welcome. I was over the moon excited to hear about Tepamine HCL. Not only is this supplement touted as an appetite suppressant, but promises to block fat and speed up your metabolism to boot. Besides the weight loss benefits, this is also an anti-aging ingredients. This supplement really gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Some of the main ingredients in Tepamine HCL are green bean coffee extract, ginger root, zinc, biotin, folic acid and the appetite suppressing saffron. As you can see, Tepamine HCL is full of natural ingredients meant to help your body be the best it can be.

The ingredients and promises are fine and nice, I know, but what you really want to hear is how the product works. I have taken a few weight loss aids in my time and have not had any luck with any of them. I have never felt like any were ever good at appetite suppression and I was absolutely always hungry. Not true with Tepamine HCL. After just a few days I was definitely feeling more full and if I tried to eat more than I should it almost made me feel sick. When I ate appropriate portions, I was full at the right time. I drank lots of water and did some kickboxing workouts and I lost about 7 pounds in 20 something days. I don't have a ton of weight to lose, maybe 15 more pounds, so I am sure someone with a higher weight to lose could probably lose even more. On the bottle, the directions say to take one capsule in the morning and one again half an hour before lunch on an empty stomach, but it does say that once you have tried that you can up the dose to two at a time. I tried that and I was having problems sleeping, but I have a caffeine sensitivity, even to a tiny little bit, so I am sure that will not be the case for most people. Anyway, I started taking two in the morning and then just one at lunch and that seemed to work really well for me.

So the big question...would I recommend this product? Absolutely. There are no negative side effects (as long as you stick to one capsule at a time if you have caffeine sensitivities), is full of natural ingredients and really does supress your appetite and give you more energy. I think anyone trying to lose weight would be please with their results with Tepamine HCL!

You can find Tepamine HCL on

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Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley (Book Review)

*Disclosure- I recieved a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging For Books 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:

In Philip Gulley's conversations with spiritual seekers around the country, he discovered that many people are drawn to the ideals of Quakerism though they are unaware of the roots of those convictions. In fact, far more people embrace Quaker beliefs than even call themselves Quakers. Many of us are finding that Quaker values offer an ethical and spiritual platform on which we can build lives of faith and service.

But what is Quakerism- and what difference could tis traditions really make?

Living a Quaker life means fostering contentment in a chaotic world, mercy in an unjust world, and wholeness in a broken world. It means believing in the nearness of God. It means wanting what Jesus wanted. As Gulley wrties, "It is the life, the Quaker way. I urge you to take up and live. By that I do not mean for you to seek out the nearest Quaker meeting and become a member, though you may if you wish. I mean for you to embrace these values, to give your assent and your heart to these virtues, so that our world might be transformed. My interest is not in growing the Quaker denomination. My passion is in growing a world in which peace, love and justice reign. In the end, I am not inviting you to a church, but to a life."

Gulley's writing is both personal and provocative as he challenges us to understand nda practice the spiritual priorities of a beautiful, generous way of living.

My thoughts:

The premise of this book intrigued me from the second I read the above description. I was interested in learning about the Quakers and I also wanted to read Philip Gulley's thoughts on applying Quaker principles to live a better, more peaceful life. I did come away from the book feeling like I had my eyes opened to some new ideas that I hadn't thought of before or had thoughts that I have long held confirmed by someone else feeling the same way. The Quaker's are peaceful people and they are all about serving others, living modestly, having integrity, taking care of others and participating and being a part of a tight knit community. All of the Quaker principles mentioned are examined in detail in Living the Quaker Way. Sulley illustrates these principles by being open and relaying personal stories throughout his lifetime that relate to each. I love how honest the author is, he is not perfect but you can tell he truly just wants to be a good and peaceful person. I did feel like there were great thoughts in this book about making the world a better place, especially the section on community. I found myself nodding my head vigorously the whole time. I truly think if we were more connected, closer knit and relied on each other as our grandparents did with their neighbors and even their families, we would all be a little happier and there would be less of a prevalence of depression.

As far as learning more about the Quakers as people and a group, I really didn't feel this book delivered in that area, but then the point of this book was not to preach Quakerism, but to share ideals and principles that would indeed help this world be a better place. This book isn't one that is trying to convert anyone, but it does what it sets out to do, sharing some great insight. Because of that, I would recommend this book if you are looking to better yourself or just enjoy reading inspiration books.

You can purchase a copy of Living the Quaker Way on

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free, Second Edition by Marlisa Brown, MS, RD, CDE, CDN (Cookbook Review)

*Disclosure-I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.
About the book:
Gluten-Free, Hassle Free is a simple, friendly, easy-to-follow guide packed with everything you need to know to live gluten-free, including delicious recipes, and practical solutions, strategies, and shortcuts.
A registered dietician and chef, Marlisa Brown makes going gluten-free a snap. Completely revised and updated throughout and filled with new material, this edition includes:
  • Over 150 quick and easy recipes, with nutritional information, including gluten-free holiday classics
  • How to stock a gluten-free kitchenIf your child is gluten-free: practical advice, nutritious meals and tasty treats
  • Quick and easy substitutions to make your favorite foods gluten-free
  • How to read and translate current labels-and how to find the hidden gluten in food
  • Tips for eating out and on the go, including fast food options
  • Gluten-free products and where to find them
  • How to eat a balanced gluten-free diet
  • Advice for dining out at home and abroad
 Plus more meal plans, shopping lists, safe food lists, tips for creating your own gluten-free meals and much more!!

My thoughts:
I have mentioned before on another post about a cookbook, this year my daughter started Kindergarten and seems to have some attention problems. I did some research because I didn't want medicating her to be the first resolution we tried and I found out that people with gluten sensitivities can have attention and behavior problems. So, we set out to remove gluten fro her diet. Problem is, gluten is in so much stuff it is impossible to know where to begin ad what to remove. Gluten-Free, Hassle Free is a great place to start for anyone looking to remove gluten from their diet. This is an amazing resources for avoiding gluten. It covers every subject you cold possibly think of- everything from what foods do have gluten and what foods are safe to eat, how to avoid gluten restaurants, how to entertain gluten free and so much more. There are extensive charts that you could bring with you to the grocery store that list all of the safe foods to eat and all of the foods to avoid. Throughout all of this wonderful information contained in this informative book, there are tons of gluten-free recipes for you to try. There are so many tasty recipes to try. Some standouts include: artichoke cheese dip, cornmeal crusted chicken tenders, portabella mushroom burgers, chicken in vodka sauce with mushrooms, and chocolate dream tarts, There are even menu ideas for what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would recommend this book to anyone that has someone with a gluten sensitivity or anyone that is just interested in eating more gluten free meals. 

You can purchase a copy of Gluten -Free, Hassle Free on

Monday, January 13, 2014

Escape Monthly Giveaway! Win January's Colorado Box!

*Disclosure- the following blog post contains affiliate links.

I have written about Escape Monthly before, the very first month it was in existence...and the boxes have only improved since then. There have been monthly escapes in a box on my doorstep from Napa Valley, Portland, Hawaii and even Italy in December. January's box is super exciting to me because it is from my favorite place in the United States to vacation- Colorado. The boxes don't ship until mid-month, so I don't have any big spoilers to share, but I know that products that are local to anywhere in Colorado will be high quality and interesting to this Texas girl. Something that I really like in the Escape Monthly boxes is in addition to all of the wonderful local products included in the box, there is also a vacation guide included. These aren't measly little pamphlets, these are full size travel guide books. I am pretty familiar with Colorado, but I know my new vacation guide and other things included in the box will introduce me to new areas, restaurants, places and products I would not have otherwise discovered. The absolute coolest thing about Escape Monthly and what I think truly sets this company apart from other subscription box services, is that each month one subscriber will win a trip to that month's escape. January's winner will get to escape to Colorado! How fun!!

Escape Monthly wants to offer reader's off Cristi's Reviews 20% off Escape Monthly boxes for LIFE when they sign up for their new subscriptions with the coupon code COLORADOESCAPE. Be sure to sign up by January 15th if you would like to get the Colorado box!

One lucky reader will win a Colorado Escape Monthly box of their own! Enter below via the Rafflecopter for your chance to win!

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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen Blog Tour & Book Review + Plus Win a Kindle Fire HDX!

*Disclosure- 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 stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul---and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master---a man her mother would never approve of---but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master 
brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

My thoughts:

I always look forward to a new novel by Julie Klassen. Not only does she write about a time period I find fascinating, she is a master at weaving a great romance between her characters. I was excited about The Dancing Master the second it was announced that it was being written. I follow Ms. Klassen on Facebook and love all of the fun things she posts about, including updates on her books she is writing and even things like a look at the cover models for the book! I was already excited just to HEAR about the impending novel, but all of the other stuff she posts on Facebook build up the anticipation even more, so I was more than willing to participate in this blog tour for The Dancing Master. I would have read it soon anyway!

I was immediately drawn into the story from the very beginning. I knew there would be some intrigue to the plot, some twists and turns and that is exactly how I like my novels. The prologue definitely opened up some questions right away and set up a great beginning for The Dancing Master. Right away, I had a soft spot for Alec and felt awful for him moving somewhere to avoid a family scandal only to find that his chosen profession of dancing master is prohibited. I also knew I was going to love Julia, despite her immaturity. It is appearant she has a good heart, but just quite doesn't know how to act appropriately. I do feel bad for her because her mother is strict and can be harsh and has kept some pretty huge secrets that Julia stumbles upon that answer a lot of questions about not only herself, but about the laws against dancing in their village. Alec also has some secrets of his own that he doesn't want getting out, but he can feel himself quite drawn to Julia, so they may have to come to light in the end. I absolutely love how their attraction to one another and their story unfolds. Ms. Klassen is a master at historical romance and I feel she is at the top of her game here. If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I am a huge fan and have been since the very first book I read by her The Apothecary's Daughter. The Dancing Master has by far been the best novel she has ever written. I think that is a wonderful sign that there are still many more great stories in her and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to get lost in a good story. I almost felt transported into these pages. I wanted to be there, I wanted to hang out with these characters and I think you would too. I couldn't sing the praises of The Dancing Master enough. This is an absolute MUST read novel!

About the author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane---Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Learn more about Julie Klassen at:

Purchase a copy:

**********ENTER TO WIN A KINDLE FIRE HDX**********

Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the "All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)" Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun "Jane" merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Luminary (Anomaly #2) by Krista McGee Blog Tour and Book Review + Win a copy of both books!

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.

This is the second book in a series. For more information on the Anomaly see the summary on Goodreads.
About the book:

She was an anomaly with a death sentence. Now she's free.

Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly--able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn't allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.

Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It's their only chance of survival.

Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there--people actually "born" to "families"--her small world is blown wide open.

Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight--a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love?

My thoughts:

*Warning* Spoilers to the first book Anomaly appear in the below text...

I have been counting down the days since I first finished Anomaly for the release of Luminary and not surprisingly I devoured it in just a few short days. Anomaly introduced us to the dystopian Chicago that Thalli and company live in. In this future version of Chicago, babies are created in labs and are bred for certain tasks within their community. Thalli is her pod's musician. Emotions or questions are not tolerated and these very things are a huge part of who Thalli is, so it gets her into big trouble, schedule for "annihlation". With the help of her former podmate turned Scientist Berk and an old man who lived in previous times "above ground" and full of insightful knowledge of "the Designer", she escapes. That is where Anomaly leaves off and Luminary picks up.Thalli and friends have escaped and set off for the world  "above ground." What they find are two communities that don't get along and Thalli gets right in the middle of it. I really liked that the second book in this series, while it definitely ties into the first novel, is almost completely different from. Many times middle books are just filler to hold us over until the next book in the series comes out. That was not the case with Luminary. It has my attention at the beginning and it still held it at the end. There are new characters introduced and conflicts with old characters and new ones alike. It is frustrating to deal with the teenage drama that seems to happen in every trilogy's middle book, when the two love interests seem come up with odd reasons, typically all in their heads, as to why the other person doesn't love the one thinking about it. That gets old, but there is an interesting twist in this book that made it not bother me as much as it usually does. It seems Thalli has found a new home, but what will she have to do to save it? I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult or dystopian novels. Once again, the book ended on an intense cliffhanger! I will definitely be counting down the days until the last book, Revolutionary, is released (July 15, 2014)!

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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Purchase Luminary:
Book Depository
Purchase Anomaly
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
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3 sets of print copies of Anomaly and Luminary (US only)

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Blog Tour Hosted by: YA Bound Book Tours

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Riunite Lambrusco Wine Review

Disclosure of material connection- I was provided a free bottle of Riunite Lambrusco in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

When my husband and I first got married almost 8 years ago, the summer between him receiving his (first) bachelor's degree and beginning Chiropractic school, he worked as a waiter at The Olive Garden. We had not previously been big wine people, being young 20-somethings we were used to the usually mixed drink college fare, but with his new job. he had to taste test everything on the menu and that included their extensive wine list. He brought home wines every now and then for me to try that he liked and so we grew a little more refined in our tastes.

I have never been a huge red wine person, but I have been a fan of Lambrusco since the first delightful sip I had those many years ago, so I was excited to be offered the opportunity to try Riunite's Lambrusco for this review. Lambrusco is not your typical red wine. Red wines are usually preferred at room temperature. Lambrusco is the only wine (that I am aware of) that anyone would even consider chilling, but chill it you must, for the optimal tasting experience. I had the Ruinute Lambrusco with a great mash up of enchiladas and pasta that I found on Pinterest called Chicken Enchilada Pasta. The spicy notes of the enchilada sauce and Mexican spices was the perfect match for the sweet red wine. Lambrusco has a slightly carbonated feel to it and is a very sweet and smooth wine, not at all dry like a typical red. I am usually a blush wine drinker, but I really enjoy the sweet and subtle taste of Lambrusco, so if you shy away from reds, don't be afraid of the Lambrusco. I thought the simple label on the bottle looked sophisticated in a subtle kind of way, which is a perfect match for how I feel about the wine itself. I would recommend Riunite Lambrusco to the occasional wine drinker, the wine newbie or someone who wants something different than a traditional red wine. It pairs wonderfully with spicy cuisine, so think Mexican, Indian, Thai or whatever your favorite spicy food is. It also stands alone well if you just want a drink without a meal.

Find Riunite Wines at a location near you.

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Riunite Website

Banfi Vintners, the makers of Riunite wine, was founded in 1919. It is America’s longest standing independent and family run wine importer and remains. To this day Banfi remains one of the worlds top 10 wine marketers and a leading importer of wine.