Wednesday, February 18, 2015

IN PLAIN SIGHT (Documentary Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the movie via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not require to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the movie-

IN PLAIN SIGHT is a three-part campaign (documentary film, study guide, and music album) to help stop sex trafficking in the United States. We are focused on educating the American public  and motivating people to take action in their community.

The IN PLAIN SIGHT documentary is an inspiring film featuring the work of six modern-day abolitionists as they fight sex trafficking in our nation. Through engaging interviews with numerous victims, a similar pattern of vulnerability and abuse becomes clear. In the midst of the darkness, stories of hope and freedom emerge as each survivor shares how she was transformed through the work of a sex trafficking aftercare home.

My thoughts-

This is a tough subject. This kinds of things are always hard to talk about. It is almost easier to talk about something you think is happening thousands of miles away on another continent than it is to realize that something so horrendous can be happening in your backyard. I think last year was the first time I had heard of sex trafficking happening near where I live. There was a bust a this past summer in the county I live in, some of those arrests taking place in the town neighboring mine. We live in a very safe place (our town has been #1 and #2 on the FBI's safest cities to live in the last two years) so it goes to show that this can go on ANYWHERE at ANY TIME. It breaks my heart. This documentary opened my eyes even further. These are not always run away girls that run away and are at there most vulnerable that are entered into sex trafficking, some of the girls on this documentary had been sold by their own families. No one deserves to be sold into any sort of slavery but the sheer thought of a mother selling her child to someone and in the very country we live in, is just appalling. IN PLAIN SIGHT brings to light the plight of these girls and women, but it's main focus is on recovery and the women that have been moved to make a difference in these broken lives. These women each came to know of trafficking in different ways, but have the common goal of wanting to help rehabilitate the victims. These recovery houses they live in go a long way in accomplishing that goal. As I said at the beginning of this post, I know this is a hard subject to think about or even read about, but I encourage you to watch IN PLAIN SIGHT to learn what's being done and how you can help in your area. In the meantime here are 31 ways you can take action to help stop this madness!

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My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp (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 opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

An Appalachian summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating in this debut novel about first loves, broken hearts, and moonshine.
Luisa "Lulu" Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.
Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they're out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who's always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?
My Best Everything is Lulu's letter to Mason--but it a love letter, an apology, or a good-bye?

My thoughts-

The premise of this book sounded so interesting to me. Just from the plot synopsis I felt so bad for this girl having to desperately think of a way to earn money for college because the money her father had set aside, he loses. I wondered why she didn't just get a traditional job, but as I read the book I learned she already had a job and the reason she needed to do what she decides to do is because she does not have much time until it is time to pay for and start college. It was interesting to see this good girl get desperate and turn into a bad girl of sorts, or at least a girl she never saw herself becoming. I do still wonder why she wouldn't have thought to maybe check into student loans, but that wouldn't have made for a good book. Lulu turns to Mason to learn the ropes of making moonshine and, of course, falls head over heels. He is the brooding bad guy, but secretly sensitive good guy that I usually like in a novel.  Mason helps Lulu and her two best friends in their business venture. There are times when things are not going well and times when things a get a little scary. The whole book has a somber tone (not a bad thing) and the writing is good. I think the ending is left a little vague, but I am sure that is the author's intent. I have never been one to want to imagine what the story ended like, I want to be flat out told so I know for sure, so I wasn't a fan of the open ended conclusion.  This was an interesting young adult novel that I think most YA fans will enjoy. It is definitely a different storyline than what one might be used to seeing and for that alone I think it is a worth a read.

My Best Everything will be available on March 3. You can pre-order it on

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jiva Organics Besan (Chana Dal) Flour Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received the product mentioned  via Tomoson in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

I was lucky enough to be exposed to ethnic food, particularly Indian food, from an early age. My step dad is from Pakistan, born in India and he and all of his sisters were always making delicious Indian food for us to enjoy. One of my favorite things he made when I was little and hadn't yet acquired a taste for the spicy curries India is so well known for were pakoras. My favorite were the potato pakoras.  I think in India these are probably made for celebrations, but at our house they were made for a special treat when my dad felt like getting in the kitchen. Anyway, when the opportunity arose for me to review besan flour (also known as gram flour) I knew the very first thing I would make were pakoras. I am so glad I did. They brought back great childhood memories and it was fun sharing one of my favorite dishes as a kid with my own children. They loved them! Here is a picture of my potato pakoras-

They did not last long at all! I am sure I will be making them again in the near future! Perhaps next time I will make veggie pakoras instead! Jiva Organic's besan flour came in a visually pleasing 2 lb bag. I love that it is clearly labeled USDA organic for those of us who find important to find clear labels on our food. This type of flour can be used for lots of Indian dishes (including breads and desserts) and for a great fiber boost in other dishes as well. It is a wonderful flour to use if you are gluten free or vegetarian/vegan (the flour is made from chick peas) or just want that previous mentioned fiber boost (Americans are seriously lacking in the fiber department! I am always trying to get more fiber in my diet!)

You can purchase Jiva Organics Besan flour (and other Jiva Organics products) on

Against the Grain by Nancy Cain (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received 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-

Revolutionary all-natural recipes for gluten-free cooking--from the owner of Against the Grain Gourmet.

Nancy Cain came to gluten-free cooking simply enough: Her teenage son was diagnosed with celiac disease. After trying ready-made baking mixes and finding the results rubbery and tasteless, she pioneered gluten-free foods made entirely from natural ingredients--no xanthan or guar gums or other mystery chemical additives allowed. That led her to adapt many of her family's favorite recipes, including their beloved pizzas, pastas, and more, to this real food technique. In Against the Grain,Nancy finally shares 200 groundbreaking recipes for achieving airy, crisp breads, delicious baked goods, and gluten-free main dishes. For any of these cookies, cakes, pies, sandwiches, and casseroles, you use only natural ingredients such as buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Whether you're making Potato Rosemary Bread, iced Red Velvet Cupcakes, Lemon-Thyme-Summer Squash Ravioli, or Rainbow Chard and Kalamata Olive Pizza, you'll be able to use ingredients already in your pantry or easily found at your local supermarket.
With ample information for gluten-free beginners and 100 colorful photographs, this book is a game changer for gluten-free households everywhere.

My thoughts-

We are really trying our best to go gluten free at our house (it causes issues for my daughter, but if one of us has to do away with something it is only fair we all try to support that person) and I agree that most boxed mixes or pre-made gluten free flours are not all that great. I have found a few I do like, but I liked the idea that in this cookbook all recipes were made with all natural ingredients. I am definitely on board with the idea that eating clean is the healthiest thing we can do, so the less processed food in our lives the better. Prior to finding this cookbook, I have mostly cut bread out of our lives. I am so happy to have found Against the Grain. There are bread recipes, muffin recipes, pizza dough recipes, baked good recipes, pretty much all of the things that you would think you might have to miss out on being on a gluten free diet. Most of the recipes call for similar types of flour (you will see tapioca starch, buckwheat and coconut flour called for in the majority of the recipes) making it easier to stock your pantry. Pretty much all of the recipes sound fantastic! I can not wait to try them out! Another really cool thing about Against the Grain is that it is a wonderful learning tool for people new to the gluten free world. There are several sections at the beginning of the book dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of gluten free cooking. I think most people would find this to be a very helpful section! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to learn more about gluten free cooking or who likes to cook with all natural ingredients!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Play Love Laugh Nail Polish Valentine's Day Giveaway!

*Disclosure of material connection- Play Love Laugh provided the polish for the giveaway.

Recently I wrote a review about some awesome non-toxic, natural as it can come nail polish! I am excited to be able to give away the same two polish colors I received to one lucky reader! If you missed my review you can check it out here! Enter below via the Rafflecopter for your chance to win!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Repeat by Neal Pollack (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest thoughts 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-

Through strange metaphysical circumstances, failed screenwriter Brad Cohen finds himself caught in an infinite time loop, forced to relive the first forty years of his life again and again. Each “repeat,” Brad wakes up in the womb on what was supposed to be his fortieth birthday, with full knowledge of what’s come before. In various timelines, he becomes a successful political pundit, a game-show champion, a playboy, and a master manipulator of the stock market, but none of them seem to lead him out of his predicament. As he realizes he wants to break out of the loop and find the love of his life—the one he hadn’t appreciated the first time around—Brad tries, fails, and tries again to escape the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Repeat answers the question: If you could live half your life over, would you do things differently? Be careful what you wish for! Repeating is enough to drive a dude crazy.

My thoughts-

As a general rule, I will read pretty much anything having to do with the space/time continuum. There is just something about being in another time or another dimension that intrigues me. I have read a lot of novels about time travel, but I think Repeat is the first one about a time loop that I have stumbled upon. I found it to be an interesting premise- what would you do if you had to repeat your life on a continuous loop? Would you try to change things or keep on the same path for the most part? Brad is doomed to repeat 40 years of his life on a continuous loop, reborn again each year right before his 40th birthday. He keeps all memories and wisdom with him even as he navigates infancy and childhood again. Some of the funniest part in the book to me are when Brad is a kid and because of the way he talks comes off as a precocious child rather than the adult trapped in a smaller body that he actually is. I do wonder why he takes so long to maybe let his life happen again as it did the first time, he gets greedy in his life cycles and uses knowledge from big events in history to cash in. I feel sorry for Brad because the more time loops he goes through, the more lonely he seems to get. Overall I thought this was an interesting book, but for some reason Brad and his wife constantly referring to each other as dude rubbed me the wrong way. Other than that, I enjoyed Pollack's writing style. If strong language doesn't bother you, I recommend this book to readers interested in books that explore time travel or the space/time continuum.

Repeat will be available on March 24. You can pre-order it on

Monday, February 9, 2015

Play Love Laugh Nail Polish- Peel Off Nail Polish Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received products via Tomoson in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

When my daughter was born, her arrival in the world set me into a mission of surrounding our family with the healthiest of products. I have always loved painting my nails and knew I would want to paint my daughters too, but I learned at that time about the all of the awful chemicals that were in nail polishes and knew I wouldn't bring any of that stuff anywhere near precious baby. I quickly learned about 5-free nail polishes that don't contain the nasty chemicals that should not even be legally allowed to be in products we put on our bodies. That was a while ago. Now my little girl is growing up and we still always strive to be as healthy as possible at our house. I was very excited to hear about a food grade nail polish that is not only completely natural, but doesn't even require nail polish remover to come off (big win!). Play Love Laugh nail polish is not only made from natural ingredients, but is also gluten free, soy free, vegan, cruelty free, and is free of synthetic ingredients and artificial colors and dyes. Because of what it doesn't contain, it is also odorless. All of these things make this polish a great option for babies, little girls, expectant mothers and anyone who just wants to use products that are free of all of the bad stuff.

Madelyn and I were super excited to try out Play Love Laugh nail polish in Grapelicious. We decided to do mother/daughter manicures. My daughter is in first grade and of course going through quite an independent streak (of course, I think she was born with that streak!) so she wanted to paint her own nails. She applied two coats of the paint to her nails. I opted for a thicker, darker application and applied three coats. This was how it turned out-

Mother/Daughter Mani

I think it looks great! I can't believe that her hand is almost as big as mine, I think she is going to outgrow me in a few short years! Anyway, I was comfortable with her painting her own nails because there is no odor and no bad chemicals.She didn't do too bad of a job. As promised, there was no odor. It didn't take super long for the polish to dry. I would say maybe about 5-10 minutes. On the nail polish bottle it says that you do not need to use polish remover. If you soak your nails in water for just a few minutes,the polish peels right off. Here were my results of getting the nail polish off-

As you can see, it came off clean in pretty much one swoop. I am so happy to have a nail polish brand like this that I feel comfortable letting my daughter use on her own. I highly recommend this polish to mom of little girls! We really like it! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma Blog Tour & Book Review + Giveaway

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 stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Irene and Rand come from very different walks of life. Will they find common ground in their fight to survive? 

Irene has grown up in the jungle as a missionary with her Aunt Anita, but now she and countless others are imprisoned by Japanese soldiers at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Irene and her aunt are safe there, and she keeps busy with her duty of delivering censored messages to the camp’s prisoners, but like everyone else, she prays for the war to end and for her freedom. Rand is a wealthy, womanizing American, whose attempted escape from the internment camp has put himself and others in danger. When Rand and Irene’s Aunt Anita meet one another in the hospital, Irene learns more of his story and her heart is determined to save his family. But the danger outside the walls of the hospital worsens every day, and life in this exotic place is anything but luxurious. Can Irene find Rand’s family before they disappear forever? And can a humble missionary woman and an arrogant man find common ground in the face of their biggest fears?

My thoughts-

Remember the Lilies is set in an internment camp in the Philippines where many people are being held prisoner by the Japanese during the war. I have read a lot of historical fiction, I would even venture to say it is my go-to genre, but it isn't often that I have come across a novel that is set in a prison camp. The beginning of the story introduces us to Rand and lays out his womanizing, money loving character right away. Soon after we meet Irene, who is quite different from Rand but there is just something about her that holds his attention. The book focuses on the time they both spend in the camp and many of the situations they may have been in as prisoners. Tolsma does a good job of giving us an idea what an internment camp might have been like without being overly descriptive of some of the more horrible things written about. I thought the story unfolding between Irene and Rand was as lovely as it could be in such a stressful environment and I also enjoyed the voice of reason in Anita. There are a few really tense situations throughout the book, but this could not be an accurate portrayal of war or prison camp without them. This is the 3rd book my Tolsma that I have read and I plan to read the next as soon as it comes out! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history or enjoys historical fiction.

About the author-

New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author ofDaisies are ForeverSnow on the Tulips, and the contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

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Connect with Liz  Tolsma on Goodreads This gripping new tale from Liz Tolsma, Remember the Lilies, is a must-read for fans of WWII-era fiction. When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, she and Rand must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

Help Liz celebrate the release of Remember the Lilies with a Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy of Remember the Lilies
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/19. Winner will be announced at Liz's Remember the Lilies Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and WWII fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!   

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Roadmap Genesis Movie Review + Giveaway

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

About the movie-

Roadmap Genesis is a film documentary that makes the case that the Book of Genesis is a roadmap containing guideposts on how to live a productive, fruitful, and fulfilling life that will help our society lift itself out of its current decline and return it to prosperity, promise, and accomplishment.
When Filmmaker Nolan Lebovitz found himself at a crossroads in his life, he knew he had to choose between continuing to make the Hollywood suspense thrillers that were his livelihood and trying to make the world a better place for his new young family. After much struggle, he found his answer in the Book of Genesis.
He decided to combine his love of the Book of Genesis with his passion for filmmaking and set out to travel the United States, interviewing clergy and public figures in order to build an undeniable argument about the continued importance of the Book of Genesis as guiding force in our Judeo-Christian country.

Roadmap Genesis invites Americans of all faiths to engage in a dialogue about the relevance of the Bible in the modern age. Through interviews ranging from Gov. Mike Huckabee of Fox News Channel to Rabbi David Wolpe, from Alan Dershowitz to the Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George, from Erick Stakelbeck of the Christian Broadcasting Network to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, and many, many more, Nolan explores the rules that God has set forth to help us maintain a successful and working society.

My thoughts-

Roadmap Genesis explores the question is the Bible still relevant today? Can we apply the book of Genesis to be our guide book for how to live? This was an interesting documentary because people from all walks of lives and different religions were interviewed. Many of the people being interviewed on the streets identified as atheist which just completely saddens me that so many people are not exposed to or are completely against religion...but that is not the point of this movie. The point is that we can take what is written in Genesis and use that as a guide book to get things back on track. Somewhere along the line we have lost touched with how God intended for us to live and I think Lebovitz is on to something. The insight added by a plethora of public figures adds even more depth to this insightful documentary. I think anyone who wants to see a change happen in this world we live in will find Roadmap Genesis an interesting and thought provoking documentary.

Watch the Roadmap  Genesis Trailer 

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Calimberti (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received 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 a gorgeous keepsake volume based on the slideshow that captured the world’s attention, Gabriele Galimberti’s beautiful portraits of grandmothers from all over the world with their signature dishes stunningly illustrates the international language of food and family.

On the eve of a photography trip around the world, Gabriele Galimberti sat down to dinner with his grandmother Marisa. As she had done so many times before, she prepared his favorite ravioli—a gesture of love and an expression of the traditions by which he had come to know her as a child. The care with which she prepared this meal, and the evident pride she took in her dish, led Gabriele to seek out grandmothers and their signature dishes in the sixty countries he visited. The kitchens he photographed illustrate both the diversity of world cuisine and the universal nature of a dish served up with generosity and love. At each woman’s table, Gabriele became a curious and hungry grandson, exploring new ingredients and gathering stories. These vibrant and intimate profiles and photographs pay homage to grandmothers and their cooking everywhere. From a Swedish housewife and her homemade lox and vegetables to a Zambian villager and her Roasted Spiced Chicken, this collection features a global palate: included are hand-stuffed empanadas from Argentina, twice-fried pork and vegetables from China, slow-roasted ratatouille from France, and a decadent toffee trifle from the United States. Taken together or bite by bite, In Her Kitchen taps into our collective affection for these cherished family members and the ways they return that affection.

In Her Kitchen is an evocative, loving portrait of the power of food and family, no matter where in the world you sit down for dinner.

My thoughts- 

This is an absolutely stunning book. In Her Kitchen is not the type of book you store away on your bookshelf, but a lovely book begging to be seen whether it be on display on your kitchen counter or a beautiful addition to your coffee table. My 7 year old daughter and I love to cook together and we love to dream of where we can travel together someday, dream of all the wonderful places we can explore. We had a great time going through this book and seeing all of the beautiful pictures of tantalizing dishes from all over the world. This book is more than just a cookbook though. We also loved reading the personal stories of these grandmothers telling a little bit about their family and their signature dish. For my family, this is a wonderful way to bring the other cultures of the world to our home to satisfy our wanderlust (to an extent) and foodie nature. There are several recipes my little blossoming chef (the previously mentioned 7 year old) and I already have  marked to try and you know there are some good ones in there because no one meals taste better than grandmothers! I recommend this book to anyone who likes to explore culinary fare from other parts of the world or to people who just enjoy looking at beautiful books!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hush by Stacey R. Campbell (Book 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-
For small-town girl Blakely Henry, any hope of finding her biological parents died when she stopped believing in fairy tales and Disney princes. That is, until she spots her boarding school's new British exchange student, Max Ryder, staring at her.
Why would a boy who looks like he stepped out of the pages of a magazine be looking at her?
Because Max knows something Blakely doesn't.
Following the tragic demise of one of Europe's most beloved royal families, Max has stumbled upon information he thinks may lead to a lost royal heir, and now he is on a quest halfway around the world to see if he's right.
Sworn to secrecy by his university professor and the headmaster of Lakeview Academy, Max is admitted into an exchange program with the sole purpose of finding out the truth. But will his personal feelings for Blakely get in the way?
When a stolen email surfaces, Blakely and her friends' lives are threatened, and Max starts to question what he is really after. From the exclusive rolling lawns of Canada's most prestigious boarding school to the University of Saint Andrews' hallowed grounds, Blakely's quiet, unassuming life is turned upside down.
Is she really who she thinks she is? Can she survive long enough to help Max unearth the truth?
My thoughts-
I thought this was an interesting premise for a story. Yes the princess but doesn't know she's a princess because she is just a regular girl thing has been done, but I liked the twist on this story that Max new going into his undercover assignment as he tries to unfold the truth. I saw it coming that they would fall for each other and I am not complaining, I am in love with love stories, no matter how cheesy or far fetched they might be I live for happily ever afters...but these two seem in love with each other before they even know the other. I do wish the author would have taken more time to have them come to like each other a little more organically, but falling fast and furious aside, I did enjoy Hush. I felt bad for Max and the predicament he found himself in, but that is just being young, I guess. I liked the small elements of suspense dealing with the royal family and the people on the hunt for Blakely added a nice edge to the novel. I would recommend this book to fans of young adult fiction.