Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Coming Clean A Memoir By Kimberly Rae Miller


By: Kimberly Rae Miller

Published: July 23, 2013

Publisher: New Harvest


Sometimes our house is cluttered with toys, sports equipment, mail and newspapers, dirty dishes, laundry, etc. I tend to get tense and stressed until everything gets put away and taken care of. This kind of clutter is nothing compared to the kind of clutter, filth, and horrendous conditions that Miller grew up in.  Miller's father was a lover of all papers and electronics (working or not) and would pile them up into all corners of the house from floor to ceiling. After a difficult surgery, her mother was confined to bed and became a compulsive shopper, often times never even opening the boxes of merchandise that was constantly being delivered to their home. In COMING CLEAN, Miller recounts her childhood growing up being ashamed to live in squalor.

I found her story fascinating, riveting, and heart breaking.  Her childhood of never having sleepovers, not being able to sit on furniture or even the floor, and yet having parents who loved and supported her were such oxymorons.

"Every night before I went to sleep, I would conjure the image 
of the actor George Burns in my head and ask him for the things I wanted most in life:
 new dolls, a best friend, and for my house to burn down." Page 36

As an adult, Miller believes that each time she cleans her parents' house out, it will stay clean...until the next time.  She constantly feels like she can fix her parents and becomes physically and psychology exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a reader you want to scream at her for constantly going back and yet understand her desire to care for her parents and their needs. Reading this book will make you look at the clutter in your home in a whole new way. 

Kimberly Rae Miller - source
Kimberly Rae Miller is a writer and actress living in New York City. Her writing on healthy living has been published on Conde Nast’s blog network, Social Workout, Yahoo’s women’s network Shine, and in various magazines.  She also contributes entertainment news to CBS Radio and CBS New York. In 2010, Kim was featured in Katharine Sise’s breakthrough career guide Creative GirlThe Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career. You can read her personal blog at

To purchase a copy of COMING CLEAN, click the photo below:

I purchased this book on my own and read for my own enjoyment. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ignite Your - Amazing Deals on eBook Bestsellers and a Giveaway

Every day I check the Kindle Daily Deal to see the books Amazon is featuring at a deep discount that day. Surprisingly, often times it is a book I have been wanting to read, a book that is hot and getting a lot of buzz, or one I have never heard of and is completely new to me. 

I love getting a good deal on books and if that sounds like you as well, then check out what Ignite Your Book can offer you. 

Ignite Your Book is THE place for readers and authors to get amazing deals on fantastic eBooks!

If you're a reader: 

Ignite Your Book for readers showcases great deals on today’s top eBooks. View all the books on our site and sign up for a free newsletter to ensure you get notified as soon as the top books are discounted or made available for free. 

These discounts are available for a limited time so we make sure you never miss a great deal! Plus, all our newsletters subscribers are automatically entered into regular drawings for Amazon gift cards! 

If you're an author: 

Ignite Your Book for authors is an easy to use platform that ensures your book gets noticed by avid readers and eBook fans. And while many eBook promotions sites have have raised their rates we've stayed very affordable. With both free and paid feature options there’s guaranteed to be something for every title. Plus there's no limit on the number of titles you can submit and because we have such a big database, our quotas aren't as strict as the other guys. We even give you free author tools to help you on your book promotion journey!

So whether you’re a reader, or an author, you can’t afford not to check out Ignite Your Book and sign up!

Ignite your book and fuel your passion for great eBook deals at:

For a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, write a post like this one about Ignite Your Book to help us spread the word, and then enter the link to your post's URL in the giveaway.

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Here are our participating blogs. Thank you so much for posting!

Library of Clean Reads
Essentially Italian
The World As I See It
Man of La Book
Back Porchervations
Deal Sharing Aunt
View From the Birdhouse
Celtic Lady's Reviews
Celiticlady's Book Recommendation
Storeybook Reviews
JBronder Book Reviews
Katie's Clean Book Collection
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Pinky's Favorite Reads
One Frugal Girl
Story Matters
This That and the Other Thing
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Nighttime Reading Center
So, I Read This Book Today
A Madison Mom
A Bit Bookish
Pure Jonel: Confessions of a Bibliophile
Sincerely Stacie 
Lovely Reads
WOrkS of FiCTioN
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Clean Romance Reviews 
Seaside Book Nook
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Rockin' Book Reviews
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Working Mommy Journal
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2 Kids and Tired Books 
Bookroom Reviews
Life With Katie
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing
Girl With Camera

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: One Step Too Far By Tina Seskis


By: Tina Seskis

Published: January 27, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow


Have you ever felt like escaping your life?  For a day or a weekend, maybe. But not escaping forever, leaving your husband and family behind. Probably not going as far as changing your name and never looking back. That is exactly what Emily does after a terrible secret that she can no longer overcome.

Emily and Ben seem to have the perfect life.  When they met, the attraction was instant and once they began dating, they were destined to be together forever. Their life together with their son is what dreams are made of. Emily is a twin. Emily's parents always wanted just one child and when Caroline was born, after Emily, Frances and Andrew were bitter and resentful towards her. She was the child no one wanted and Caroline grew up feeling unloved and unwanted. Caroline is the exact opposite of Emily, bitter, hostile, bold, and full of issues ranging from anorexia to alcoholism. Emily's dad is a weasel who sleeps with anyone who looks his way and her mom seems to tolerate it, until Ben and Emily's wedding day when she finally decides enough is enough and moves out. Caroline seems to take enjoyment out of being hurtful and destroying other's happiness.  When Emily finds a life with Ben, she finally believes she can build a life without drama.

If you haven't guessed, the characters in this book are messed up. It's distressing and depressing to watch their lives crumble as you turn the pages. Emily walks away from her life in the first few pages and while we watch her begin a new life, we are transported back to what led up to Emily leaving everything she loved behind. Reading Emily's story is like a car accident, you want to turn away, but you just can't.  We know something terrible has happened and Emily is obviously involved in some way, but you don't find out what caused her to leave her life behind until the last thirty pages of the book.  Until then, you are subjected to her destructive and regretful choices and mournful days and nights.

"In the space of thirty-six hours 
I have a new home, new friend, new name, and now a spanking new bedroom.
 But no child, no husband, says a voice from somewhere.
 I ignore it and head for the shower."  Page 45

Finding out the secret to Emily's past in the final thirty pages made the ending feel rushed. During Emily's creation of a new life we are introduced to new characters and I felt like those characters were abruptly tossed aside leaving the reader incredulous to the rushed conclusion.

This book fits the category of unreliable narrators. What Emily leads you to believe throughout most of the book is turned upside down as her secret is revealed. Some readers may find this an intriguing style of writing and others may want to throw the book across the room in anger. I was left feeling a bit of both, but mostly with disappointment in the drawn out story and rushed ending.

Tina Seskis - source
Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, the daughter of an airline engineer and a sales representative. She studied business at the University of Bath and then worked for over 20 years in marketing, advertising and online, with varying degrees of success.  ONE STEP TOO FAR was originally published in the UK and has since become an international bestseller. Tina lives in North London with her husband and son. For more on Tina, visit her website, You can also find her on Twitter, HERE

To purchase a copy of ONE STEP TOO FAR, click the photo below:

Thanks to William Morrow for sending a copy of this book for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Snippets 1.25.15

Another busy week has been left in the dust. I can't believe we are in the last week of January already! Another busy week is ahead, but today I'm slowing down and hoping to see American Sniper with some friends.  I could be doing laundry, organizing our daughter's room, cleaning, etc, etc, but I'm trying to continue to work on that "Balance" in my life and make time for fun with friends and my husband.

I hope you enjoy a few snippets from our week.

Reagan's basketball team won a very tough tournament with some very close games.  These girls are so much fun to watch and play so well together. They know how to be a TEAM!

Since we didn't have school on Monday,
 it was the perfect day to have Reagan's birthday date.
 We did a lot of shopping so she could spend 
her birthday money and gift cards that she received.

Reagan had fun trying on things at Claire's.

Of course, the date had to include ice cream and Reagan insisted on Cold Stone Creamery.
The cool thing was, 
 at that particular store at that particular moment.
We could have any ice cream treat we wanted for free! How cool was that?!?!
Plus, since we were out celebrating Reagan's birthday, they gave us a gift card too!
Free ice cream tastes so much better!

Basketball is still in full swing with all three kids! 
Here is Patrick in one of his games this week.

On Saturday, we all got up at the crack of dawn, correction....before dawn even broke....
to attend the Science Bowl at Iowa State University. 
Patrick and three other classmates competed.
Before attending, I thought I was fairly smart, but after today I am not so sure.
These kids competed against much larger schools, 
Juniors and Seniors who have already had 
Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as well as Calculus.  
They lost all four matches, but never lost their cool and did their best. 
For being freshman, who are all very involved in numerous activities 
and don't just study science in their spare time (I swear there were kids who do that), 
I was very proud of them!  
We go back again in a few weeks with Bennett 
for the Middle School Science Bowl. Should be fun!

Yesterday was also the Winter Formal at school.  Patrick and his date looked fabulous.
What a fun night for Patrick and his friends!

As I was uploading photos, I found this one on my phone that Reagan took during our lunch at Iowa State yesterday. The glasses are "fashion glasses". Isn't she adorable!?!?

There is another full week looming ahead including a show choir trip to Minneapolis.
I guess if I wasn't busy, I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

Thanks for sharing in the snippets of our life here in Iowa.
I hope you continue for look for the big and small joys in your week!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Children's Book Review: Snowman's Story By Will Hillenbrand


By: Will Hillenbrand

Published: November 18, 2014

Publisher: Two Lions


When our boys were little, they received the book GOOD DOG, CARL from my sister. I remember flipping through the pages and thinking, "Where are the words?". Then the first time I "read" it to our son, I realized what a treasure the book is.  We read that book over and over and sometimes it was the same but mostly it was completely different.

In SNOWMAN'S STORY, much can be the same for you and your children. It is a wordless picture book, in that the pictures tell the story and you and your child can fill in the blanks. In the winter, a snowman is created by the forest animals. Suddenly, a hat blows through the woods and lands on the snowman's head. The snowman comes to life and and has a delightful day in the forest until the bunny inside of the hat jumps out and causes trouble. When all the animals chase the bunny, what they find at the end will surprise them.

It is a delightful story that leaves room for all kinds of dialogue that you and your child can create. The illustrations, also created by the author, are stunning and create a beautiful winter scene on each page. The animals expressions are full of character and leave the reader with many options for detailed storyline.

I highly recommend this delightful picture book. It'll travel with me in my school bag to read to the elementary kids in case I need to fill time. It would make a wonderful addition to a home or school library. This is the type of book that can be read again and again and never get boring. Share this book with your child and encourage their creativity.

Will Hillenbrand - source
Will Hillenbrand has written and illustarted many beloved picture books. This is his first wordless picture book. Will lives with his wife, Jane, and their son, Ian, in Terrace Park, Ohio. You can find out more about him at  You can also find him on Facebook, HERE.

To purchase a copy of SNOWMAN'S STORY, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review with other children's book reviews on Booking Mama's Saturday Kid Konnection. Click HERE to see other great posts on children's literature.

This book was a win from Booking Mama. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual Winner

I have chosen a winner for the COMPLETE DO-IT-YOURSELF MANUAL using

This has been my most popular giveaway ever. There must be a lot of home improvement projects in your futures!

Thanks to all of you for entering to win!

The winner is................................................................. Tami L.

I have sent an email to Tami and she has 48 hours to contact me or I will choose a new winner.  

If you didn't win and would like to purchase a copy of this book, click the photo below:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Product Review: Relief MD Botanical Splash from Trusted Health Products

Trusted Health Products sent me their Botanical Splash TM  Body Moisturizer and Revitalizer to try.

This product is the "Ultimate Dry Skin Solution" and during these cold winter months in Iowa, I need anything I can get to keep my skin moisturized.

I was a little skeptical because it isn't a lotion but a spray and I was afraid it would be sticky or greasy.  But it is not!

Each morning for six weeks, I sprayed the Botanical Splash TM on my legs immediately after my shower. I LOVED the citrus scent. It wakes you up and gives you that refreshing boost in the morning. I have noticed that my legs are much smoother and don't have that dry flaky skin that they usually have in the winter.

I think this product really offers two benefits: Moisturized skin and a Refreshing Scent that wakes you up!

This 2 oz bottle has lasted a long time because it only takes a couple sprays to have enough to smooth over your body.

The best part is there are no dead or processed chemicals in this product. Just pure Mother Nature, the way skin care is intended to be. Other products only work on the surface of the skin which does not take care of the problem at its source. Botanical Splash feeds your skin cells the nutrients they need to fight tomorrow’s dry skin today and today’s dry skin, now!  

Here’s What Botanical Splash TM Can Do for You
  • Pores Appear to Shrink Giving a Smoother Skin Complexion
  • Feels like it Moisturizes Deep Down
  • Many Report a Natural Glow to Their Skin
  • Blemishes Seem to Just Fade Away
  • Skin Feels Clean and Conditioned
  • Makes You Look and Feel Younger
The real difference in Botanical Splash™ is that unlike the many skin care products you probably already have on your bathroom shelf, our product is NOT PETROLEUM BASED. It absorbs quickly into your skin and begins feeding the skin cells what they naturally need. 

I didn't use this product on my face, only on my legs, because I tend to be oily year round, but I can see how this would be a great product to keep your face moisturized and the citrus scent would be refreshing in the morning. For especially dry areas or patches of rough skin, you can apply this to the affected area 2-3 times in a day. You should be able to tell a difference in the first day of use or after several uses in extremely dry areas of skin.

To see all the great Trusted Health Products, visit their website, HERE. I will be reviewing more of their products in the next few weeks.

If you would like to try and review Botanical Splash, for a limited time, the manufacturer is willing to offer my readers one FREE bottle. They said they would love to have our readers try out Botanical Splash and agreed to send one bottle FREE if our readers would pay a minimal shipping and handling charge. This is a one-time only offer! Click here to get your FREE bottle now!

You can also like their Facebook page, HERE

Thanks to Trusted Health Products for sending a bottle of Botanical Splash for me to try. I was not compensated in any other way for this review. This review is my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: The Same Sky By Amanda Eyre Ward


By: Amanda Eyre Ward

Published: January 20, 2015

Publisher: Ballantine Books


Best-Selling author, Jodi Picoult has said, "This is the timeliest book you will read this year...This one's going to haunt me for a long time." I would have to agree with her. No matter what your political views of immigration and poverty are, this is a book you must read. The story it tells will leave a significant impact on your heart.

In alternating chapters we are introduced to Carla, a child living in horrible conditions with her grandmother and twin brothers in Honduras. Carla's mother is in Texas and sends money and American clothes to help care for their needs. In the next chapter we follow Alice, wife of Jake, who has just had their newly adopted baby taken away from them when the birth mom changed her mind a day later.  Jake and Alice are their 40’s and are the owners of a famous BBQ in Austin, Texas. From the outside, they live an idyllic life, except all they want is a baby and can't have one. 

Each chapter shares more details of Carla and Alice's despair and sadness.  Carla just want to be WITH her mom and Alice wants to BE a mom. After unbelievably horrible situations, Carla continues to battle and stay strong.  In weekly phone calls, she begs her mother to come home and each time her mother declines, promising to send money. At times I became so angry I wanted to scratch the mom's eyes out for the pain and heartache she was causing Carla. In one chapter, Carla and her brother are living off of a paste of flour and water and her mother sends a beautiful party dress for Carla. Carla states,
"When would I wear such a thing? 
What did my mother think my life was like? 
You could not eat a dress." 

A series of events leads Carly to finally, at just eleven years old, pack up and make the dangerous trek to America. Her story of perseverance, faith, and hope was beyond amazing.  

Alice continues to grieve the loss of the baby they thought was theirs, not realizing her husband is also grieving and losing hope in their marriage. Alice takes on being a "Big Sister" to a floundering teenager and believes that will help her fill the emptiness in her heart. But a teenager isn't a baby and her husband isn't on board with this new plan. After helping her sister through a devastating loss, Alice is able to come to grips with her life and what may or may not lie ahead. 

When Carla and Alice's story come together, you won't believe it and the emotions will pour out of you as you realize that both of them never lost faith and all their pain and suffering was worth it for this one moment. 

This story of Carla's trek to the border shares the dangerous conditions thousands are willing to put themselves and their families in just to reach their dream of living and working in America. Factories, dairy farms, construction firms, etc are constantly looking for laborers, even here in Iowa and immigrant workers seem to be the only ones willing to fill the need. After reading this story, I am looking at these families differently. Their children are in our schools and communities and I had never thought about the difficulties they left behind. Is living in America really their dream? Was it all they hoped it to be? Even if your beliefs are to send immigrants back to their homeland, you won't be able to deny the feelings Carla's story will invoke and the realization that all of us live under THE SAME SKY. Amanda Eyre Ward has told an important story and one that should be read and discussed. I think this would make an excellent choice for book clubs or classes studying sociology. It is the kind of book you won't forget. Amanda Eyre Ward is new to me, but I will definitely want to check out her other books soon. 

Amanda Eyre Ward - source
Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of five novels as well as a collection of short stories. She wrote THE SAME SKY after being introduced to a fellow mother at her child's school who runs the local shelters for unaccompanied minors. Through her, Amanda started to visit the shelters and get to know the children. After hearing the incredibly harrowing, frightening, courageous and hopeful stories of their journeys to go to their mothers in the US, Amanda felt she had to write this novel.

She lives in Austin, Texas with her family.  For more, visit her website, HERE. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE.

To purchase a copy of THE SAME SKY, click the photo below:

Thanks to Random House for sending an eBook for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Little Monday Inspiration - Balance

Last week I shared my One Word for 2015.

That word is


and you can read all about it, HERE.

Over the course of the year, I plan to share quotes and inspiration related to 


here on Mondays. 

This is exactly where I want to be. 
Right in the middle of too little and too much.

This past week was my first real week of focusing on


and I feel like I did pretty well.

I actually got a lot accomplished even after subbing for 3 days and 
being busy nearly every evening and all weekend.

I crossed off a couple projects on my list that had been on there for awhile.
That was a good feeling.

I spent some quality time with our daughter and 
tried to keep up more with laundry and household tasks.

I even had time for fun!

So far, this Balance thing is working out great!

Where is your Balance between too little and too much?

Did you choose One Word for your year? If so share it in the comments! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sunday Snippets 1.18.15

What a great week it was here in Iowa. 
Even though it is winter, the weather was manageable 
and we ended the week with some sunny skies and warm temps.

We started our week with Reagan's birthday 
and ended it with show choir and basketball.
This is just the beginning of busy weekends in our future.
But, I'm excited for the show choir season to begin!

Reagan got this beautiful desk for her birthday 
and she can be found sitting at it every day after school.
I ordered it from Ashley Furniture and I am really happy with it.
If you are interested in it, 
keep it mind it took 3 weeks to get to the store after I ordered it.
But, it was worth the wait!

We celebrated Reagan's birthday with dinner out at her favorite place,
Zio Johno's with my parents and Pat's sister.
So much delicious food, great conversation, and laughter around the table!

Patrick has been doing well on his freshman basketball team.
Here he is taking off with the rebound!

Bennett's games started this week and he has been doing a great job.
This is him getting a shot in at the end of the game.

It's a good thing I like basketball because right now all three kids are playing.

Our son's show choir group won the Prep division of their competition yesterday! Not a bad way to kick off the season! He also plays drums for the Varsity Show Choir who received 2nd runner up. It was a 20 hour day for him but lots of fun! 

Reagan played in a tournament yesterday and won one game by 20 and lost her second game by 2 points. We are back at it today for two more games. Then I hope a nap is in my future! 

Thanks for sharing in some of the snippets of our life! Be sure to enjoy all the big and small moments in yours this week! 

Children's Book Review: The Olive Tree By Elsa Marston


By: Elsa Marston

Illustrated by: Claire Ewart

Published: November 1, 2014

Publisher: Wisdom Tales


Muna and her family fled their home in Lebanon during the war. While they were gone, Sameer, the neighbor boy, took care of their precious olive tree that had been in Muna's family for a hundred years. While gathering olives, Sameer would dream about the family that lived next door. He would imagine them returning and having a son that he could play with. One day, Sameer looked out and the family had returned. His excitement turned to sadness when he found the family had a daughter, not a son, and she was not interested in playing or being nice. As Sameer picked up the olives that the tree had dropped into his yard, he meets the neighbor girl who has no interest in sharing the olives off of HER tree. Sameer is disappointed and angry until one evening, everything changes.

This is a sweet story of friendship, forgiveness and sharing. I like that it is set in a different culture, which makes the story more unique and gives us something else to learn about and discuss with your child.

The illustrations are beautiful and look like water colors. I love how the illustrator added animals into the photos even though they have nothing to do with the story. Each photo is filled with details to keep your child interested in the pictures as much as the story. Click HERE to download a coloring page from the book.

This is an excellent picture book to share with your child. The lesson it shares can apply to all of us.

Elsa Marston - source
Elsa Marston is the award-winning author of over two dozen books of fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. She grew up in Boston and from a young age was fascinated with the stories of ancient Egypt and the Middle East. Elsa lives in Bloominton, Indiana. For more on Elsa and her books, visit her website at

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE OLIVE TREE, click the photo below:

I will be linking up on Saturday with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Click HERE to see other great reviews of children's books. 

Thanks to Wisdom Tales Press for sending me a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.