Monday, August 31, 2015

Product Review: Cave Tools Kabob Set

My husband is a great grill master.  Here in Iowa, you can still find my husband grilling in January in freezing cold weather because we love grilled food. I love Kabobs but we usually buy them premade up on sticks at the meat counter. I have never owned a Kabob set or skewers. So, I was super excited to have a reason to make our own Kabobs and with five Kabob sticks, we could each make up our own Kabob just how we liked it.

I was provided this awesome Cave Tools Kabob Set. To see more about it, check out this Cave Tools Kabob Set at You can also find it on Amazon, HERE.

Our Kabobs included beef, chicken, onions, peppers, potatoes, and pineapple. The spacing between each skewer was perfect and they were long enough to fit an adequate amount for each person.

They have this cool "rotisserie like" feature where you can turn the skewers easily without moving the rack at all.

The rack fit on our round Weber charcoal grill with plenty of space. The only thing you must remember is that the rack and skewers are metal, so they are hot. Using tongs to turn the skewers is your best option.

Everything cooked evenly and it was absolutely delicious. My husband is not usually a fan of Kabobs because they usually don't cook everything evenly, but because the skewers are metal, I think it helps heat everything properly. The food slid right off the skewers without any sticking or difficulty. We were all thrilled with our supper and I was wishing I could eat another one!  If you are cooking for more than five people, you would want a second set or more skewers for another round. Cave Tools has stated they plan offer the ability to purchase the skewers separately soon. Clean up was also simple. The package says they are dishwasher safe, but I actually hand-washed them. Nothing stuck or left stains behind and the set looks brand new after use.

If you are looking to make Kabobs for your last summer grill out this coming weekend, be sure to click HERE, and order your on Kabob Set. You will be so grateful I told you about this product!

For more information on Cave Tools and all their great products, check out

Thanks to Cave Tools for sending me their product 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 the product through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Children's Book Review: Ellie Goes Back to School By Marci Fair

The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant #3

By: Marci Fair, Elle Fair

Published: May 21, 2015

Publisher: Pacochel Press


With school starting in our area this week, I felt it was the perfect week to share with you this adorable story about two friends on the first day back to school.

Ellie the elephant and her best friend, Pudgy the penguin, are starting back to school. They are both a little nervous, but Ellie especially because she is attending a new school. Ellie and Pudgy are actual stuffed animals that are photographed going through their first day of school.  The authors have thought of everything from library time to gym time to class pets, lunch, and recess. This is likely because one of the authors is an eleven-year-old girl. Nothing in the school day was left out and their feelings about being nervous and scared are spot on. Children will find their days are much like Pudgy and Ellie's.  Readers will delight in seeing Ellie and Pudgy in actual classroom and school settings. They will find the photos silly as well as reassuring.

Ellie and Pudgy model good behavior, sharing and introducing themselves to new friends. They also show how to be there for a friend and how to encourage one another. While at recess we Ellie and Pudgy find a friend sitting along on the Buddy Bench. These benches are decorated in fun sayings and bright colors and are placed in playgrounds to encourage friendship and send the message that bullying is not allowed here.

This is a book I'll be keeping in my school bag to read to the elementary students when I am subbing. It has adorable photographs, a cute story and shares a valuable lesson about friendship. I also want to check out Ellie's other adventures, ELLIE MAKES A NEW FRIEND, and ELLIE'S FIRST PLANE RIDE.

A portion of the sale of every book goes toward helping children in need.

Marci Fair - source

As a working mother of four children, Fair was inspired to share the hard-earned wisdom she gained from juggling work and motherhood for over twenty years. This labor of love resulted in "TILT-7 Solutions To Be A Guilt-free Working Mom."

Filled with over 70 quotes from her children, over 100 real-life practical tips to help working moms and the wisdom of over 80 other wonderful working moms, Marci's goal with TILT is to encourage moms to continue to reach for their goals and dreams, as they help their children reach for theirs.

Marci Fair earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern Methodist University. Together, she and her husband founded a real estate business that is ranked in the top 100 in the United States. In addition, Marci founded a children’s charity Kares 4 Kids, that has served over fifteen thousand kids. 

Marci and her daughter, Elle have coauthored a series of books about Elle's two favorite stuffed animals, Ellie the Elephant and Pudgy the Penguin. Elle loves reading and her stuffed animals so collaborating on these books has been a special project for them together. Both of their previous books have won the God Mom's Choice Award. 

For more information on Marci Fair and her books check out the links below:
Author's Books on Amazon, HERE.
If you would like to purchase a copy of ELLIE GOES BACK TO SCHOOL, click the photo below:

I will be linking up with Booking Mama and other bloggers for her Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. Click HERE to see other great children's and YA book related posts.

Thanks to the authors 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 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 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bout of Books 14 Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Last week I participated in the Bout of Books 14 Reading Challenge.  In my original post, (see HERE) I committed to reading four books totaling 1,273 pages.  I was hoping to read 181 pages a day to stay on track. By Thursday, I had only read a total of 225 pages and was still reading the first book.

I participated in 3 challenges and one twitter chat that allowed me to interact with lots of new bloggers that I hadn't previously known. I was even reminded of my love for unicorns (I collected them when I was younger).

By the end of the challenge:

I read 529 of 1,273 pages

I actually decided NOT to finish AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS. I'll talk more about this in an upcoming post, but the depressing subject matter, the discombobulated (is that a word???) storytelling, and general lack of disinterest in the characters made me decide to stop reading and move on.

I finished one book, 30 LESSONS FOR LOVING.  This makes me sad because I was hoping to finish 4 books, but spending time on AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS held me up and put me behind. I just happened to choose to start with that one and it knocked off my momentum.

I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this read-a-thon. I have always wanted to participate in one, but the timing has never worked. I loved the daily challenges and the ability to be flexible with my posting and reading. I will definitely be interested in doing this challenge next year.

Bout of Books 15 Starts January 4, 2016. So mark your calendars and plan to join me and other readers with a week of reading and sharing our love of books!

Book Review: Below the Water Line By Lisa Karlin

Getting Out, Going Back and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina

By: Lisa Karlin

Published: July 3, 2015

Publisher: Centennial Publishers


I'm participating in the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK tour for BELOW THE WATER LINE. To see other stops on the Book Tour including reviews and author interviews, click HERE.

If you have watched the news at all this weekend, I'm sure you have heard that it is the 10-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It's hard to believe it has been that long and yet, it is likely that the majority of our country has forgotten about Hurricane Katrina, but for residents of New Orleans, there are still reminders of the destruction and devastation the storm left behind. Karlin and her family survived, but still find remembering the horrific details of those days, weeks, months and years after Katrina to be extremely emotional. In BELOW THE WATER LINE, Karlin details with notes from her journal, the day to day struggles of living through Katrina and what she left behind. The book reads much like a novel and you have to remind yourself, these are real people in a very real situation.

Karlin's details about the days of evacuation and sitting in a rain-soaked motel room, not moving on a grid-locked highway, and traveling home to find destruction all around you. If you have ever been through a natural disaster, you will understand her feelings of despair and overwhelming anxiety about where to begin again.  Her details of flooded homes after Katrina reminded me much of what fellow Cedar Rapids residents went through after the Flood of 2008. In fact, being in our old neighborhood this last weekend reminded me of much of the same feelings Karlin described about her neighborhood ten years after Katrina.

I found much of the government response to Katrina shocking and disappointing. I think most of us felt Katrina victims were being taken care of and sadly, that was not the truth in New Orleans. Karlin and her family were better off financially than most, yet still were completely swamped by the amount of money it took to pay for their Houston apartment during the evacuation period, their second home they purchased while trying to get through the repairs of their damaged home and pay for those repairs and the daily bills of a home owner. Her husband, a surgeon, took on another position to help at a hospital north of New Orleans that was inundated with new residents from Hurricane Katrina hit communities. Karlin, a nurse, was able to continue her job training oncology centers and was thankful they were still able to work and provide for their needs.  Her humbleness regarding necessities vs wants was brutally honest and one that many of us, in this land of excess, can learn from.

I did find one part of the book upsetting where Karlin talks about a high school being used as a morgue and moves right on to her frustration with no power or radio without a pause. I'm sure it was more about details rather than emotion at that point. Other times her emotions show as she writes that while traveling between Houston and New Orleans, she felt like she was going between the United States and a developing country.

Amid all the loss and destruction faced by thousands in the Gulf Coast area after Hurricane Katrina, there is much hope. Recovery hasn't happened over night and there are still places that may never return to "Before Katrina" times. But while driving through an area, a lone sunflower emerges from the rubble and debris, Karlin realizes there is still hope for her beloved home.

Lisa Karlin 

Lisa Karlin is an oncology nurse who, unlike weather chasers who look for storms to track, has had the weather chase her, and these experiences are described in her memoir, BELOW THE WATER LINE. Lisa lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, daughter, son, and Yellow Lab named Buddy.

For more information:

To purchase a copy BELOW THE WATER LINE, click the photo below:

Thanks to PUMP UP YOUR BOOK for bring you this book tour. 

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of her 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 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 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived in...China By Carole P Roman

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

By: Carole P Roman

Illustrated by: Kelsea Wierenga

Published: May 14, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


I have introduced nearly every single book in this fabulous series of books by Carole P Roman. I absolutely love how each book teaches the unique parts of the particular country while speaking to the level of the child. Roman knows just what the kids would want to know and shares the facts in a fun way with vivid illustrations. The best part? The parents can learn right along with the child.

I found the facts about China really interesting. There were several things that I didn't know about including the thousands of clay sculptures found buried over 2,000 years ago. I bet kids would be surprised to learn that a certain sport is what finally helped repair the China and United State's relationship.

I think this book about China has the most information compared to the rest of Roman's books, but there are so many fascinating things to learn that I'm sure it was hard to leave anything out. Children will learn that family, tradition, and food are very important to people who live in China.

If your child has to prepare a report on a different country this school year, be sure that you look for these books by Carole P Roman. They are a wealth of information and would make a perfect addition to a home or school library.

If you enter "Carole P. Roman" into my search bar on the right side of my blog, you will see the many reviews of her wonderful books, including her fictional series CAPTAIN NO BEARD. I can't stop raving about this wonderful author and her books.

Carole P Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Carole has written several books for children including the IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...series as well as a fiction series for children, CAPTAIN NO BEARD involving lots of fun adventure and imagination. For more on Carole, visit her website, You can see all of Roman's books by clicking, HERE.

If you would like to purchase, IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...CHINA, click the photo below:

I will be linking up with Booking Mama and other bloggers on her weekly KID KONNECTION. Every Saturday, other bloggers share links to posts related to children's and YA books. To see all the great posts, click HERE

Thanks to the author for sending 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 a copy of this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission with you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bout of Books 14 Check-In

Bout of Books

I've been participating in the Bout of Books Reading Challenge this week. To see more about this challenge, check out my original post, HERE.

I participated in a couple challenges:



I've been busier than I expected this week...that always seems to happen and reading seems to fall to the bottom of the list.

I chose AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS as my first book choice because I have it as an eBook and is a little more portable and can read it easier at night. It is moving along quickly, but honestly, I am not really "enjoying" it. It's a depressing subject and one I don't enjoy reading about. The format of the novel is also weird and makes the traditional reader in me have a hard time with the flow of the story. Anyway, I'm still reading through it and I still have the weekend to catch up on other great books.

I've read 225 out of 1273 pages. I said I would have to read 181 pages/day to meet my goal. Well....At least I read MORE than 181 pages in 3 days.

I've finished no books this week....yet.

My plans for the rest of the challenge: I plan to finish AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS and since this book deals with the sadness of infidelity, I'm going to switch gears and read 30 LESSONS ON LOVING. It's full of stories of love and devotion and marriage.

For more about Bout of Books 14, be sure to click HERE.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Product Review: Cocozia Coconut Water

Coconut Oil, Coconut Water, and Coconut Oil Supplements are being touted as the new health food. 

Coconut Water is a great way to rehydrate after exercise and illness. It can also be beneficial to those with cancer or kidney stones.  Coconut Water is easily digested and is free of extra sugars that most sports drinks contain. It has as much potassium as four bananas and is low in calories.

Cocozia Coconut Water is USDA Certified 100% Organic. In their 16. 9 oz bottle, there are just 40 calories/serving. There is also 45 mg of sodium and 480 mg of potassium. The only ingredient listed on this bottle is organic coconut water. Nothing else has been added to this beverage. No artificial flavors, sugars, or the dreaded "oses" as I call them (like sucralose). Cocozia is also Kosher. It contains no GMOs or preservatives and is fat and cholesterol free. 

I was anxious to try the coconut water because I knew of its benefits and wanted to see if I liked it. The texture of coconut water is different from regular water. It is a bit "thicker" and obviously, not completely clear. It has a strong coconut flavor and is best served cold or on ice.

I found the best way for me to enjoy Cocozia Coconut Water was to mix it. My favorite way to drink it is by mixing it with my La Croix Coconut Sparkling Water. It has the fizz I crave and I don't notice the thickness of the water once it is mixed. Plus, I still get the coconut flavor I like.  This has been my regular drink these last few days of summer and I am really loving it. It is really refreshing on a hot day.

Another way I use the Cocozia Coconut Water is to add it to my smoothies. I will add it along with my other liquid choice of orange juice or grape juice. Or I will use it as my only liquid. Either way, I am still getting the benefits of the coconut water.

Cocozia also offers a Cocozia Chocolate Coconut Water. I could see this added to chocolate protein smoothies. Yum!

You can purchase Cocozia Coconut Water through Amazon in a case of 12 for $14.99. If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is FREE.  Click the photo below to purchase Cocozia Coconut Water.

Thanks to Cocozia for sending a case of coconut water 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 the product through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Remember Mia By Alexandra Burt


By: Alexandra Burt

Published: July 7, 2015

Publisher: Berkley


If you have been part of the craze reading books like GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you will definitely like Burt's take on this gripping and suspenseful story of a mother and her baby. It's not quite fair to say that Estelle is an "unreliable narrator" because she truly doesn't remember what happened. She awakens to find her baby gone and her apartment completely devoid of anything related to her baby. It is like the baby never existed. Her husband is away working in Chicago while she is in New York City and he is certain that she has done something to their baby.  Estelle can't believe that she has, but the baby is gone and she remembers nothing.

As Estelle flashes back to the days, weeks and months before Mia's disappearance, the reader sees a mother desperately struggling to make it through her days as a stay-at-home mom. There is no doubt she is suffering from postpartum depression, but was it deep enough for her to harm her baby? As the reader, you will grow increasingly frustrated with both Estelle and her husband, who seems clueless to her despair. Her misery runs so deep she describes being at the bottom on a well and not being able to see the stars.

This is not a happy book. For mothers, it will make your stomach churn. What happens to Mia is unthinkable, horrific, and a nightmare for all involved. This book is tough to read at times. As badly as I wanted to know what happened to Mia, I had to take breaks from reading. I'm sensitive to these types of books and I rarely choose to read them because I have a hard time distancing myself from the story. This book may keep you up at night, both from the subject matter and because you will have to keep reading.  I can't give away any of the details because you truly have to process this story as you read it.  The twists and turns take you all the way to the very end of the story. When you get to that final page, if you are like me, you will realize you have been holding your breath and thankfully, you can finally breathe again. REMEMBER MIA is Burt's first novel with, hopefully, more to come.

Favorite quote:
"There are moments of joy in everybody's life. Happiness, like sadness, comes wrapped in many layers." 
"Just like memories."
"Just like memories," he says. Page 144

Alexandra Burt - source
Alexandra Burt was born in Germany. She was a voracious childhood reader and after graduating college, moved to the US. After working as a translator, she began taking writing classes and had short stories featured in magazines. REMEMBER MIA is her first novel. Burt has a great love for animals and hopes to find a farmhouse to offer old arthritic dogs a comfy place to rest. She is married to her husband of 20 years and lives in Central Texas with their daughter and two dogs. She is working on her second novel.

For more information check out:

To purchase a copy of REMEMBER MIA, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel for 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, August 17, 2015

Book Review: And the Good News Is... By Dana Perino

Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side

By: Dana Perino

Published: April 21, 2015

Publisher: Twelve


Dana Perino is far from her Wyoming roots, but not far from the values of hard work and respect that she learned growing up.  Life really took off for her when she began living in Washington DC and eventually became President George W. Bush's Press Secretary. She now lives in New York City as a regular Fox News Contributor, appearing daily on Fox's The Five.

Perino begins by sharing about her idyllic life growing up on a ranch in Wyoming and then in Colorado. Her love for her family shows through her descriptions of the land they worked and their strong work ethic. Her times spent with her father reading newspapers, watching the news and discussing the stories and  their ramifications truly prepared her for the future.

The romantic in you will swoon over her chance meeting with her now husband. Through numerous odds against them, they have definitely found true love. If you know Dana at all, you will also know about her great love for their Vizlsa dogs, Henry and Jasper. You can frequently find Jasper making an appearance on Fox News.

No matter your political affiliation, you will appreciate Perino's stories of "43" and life in the White House. You will laugh, cry, and gain a great respect for the job of President. Perino shares many personal stories with delicacy and humor. Her devotion and gratefulness towards the Bush family is present on every page.

Perino spends time sharing personal tidbits about each of her co-hosts from Fox. You will be surprised that one of them had to save another co-workers life right in front of them at a dinner. Even though they may not all agree politically, there is definitely a great respect and love for each other.

Perino strives to find the good in everything, which is where the title of her book comes from. She likes finding the good news of the day and sharing it at the end of the show. Throughout the book, she shares life lessons and pieces of news that reminds all of us that there is still goodness in the world. Her book is perfect for new graduates, job seekers, and frankly, anyone in the work force. The lessons she has learned from her grandparents to politicians to numerous presidents and the press corp are all ones that can keep you optimistic about life in general.

Dana Perino - source 
Dana Perino is a Fox News Contributor and co-host of one of the most popular shows on cable television, The Five. She was the first Republican woman to serve as the White House press secretary, and served for over seven years in the administration of George W. Bush, including at the Department of Justice after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Perino lives in Manhattan with her husband, Peter McMahon, and their dog, Jasper.

For more information on Dana Perino visit:


To purchase a copy of this book, click the photo below:

I read this book for my own enjoyment. 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