Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week - My Opinion

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journey for hosting this Banned Books Week event. Many other bloggers are participating and offering their own take on Banned Books. Be sure to check out her site for related posts this week!

A banned book is the removal of a reading material that someone has protested. A book challenge involves an attempt to remove material from school curriculum, a school or community library, or a retail store, which then restricts the access of the book to others. 

No one should be able to choose what I read. The only people I should be able to challenge what they read are my children. Obviously I wouldn't want my 5 year old reading THE KITE RUNNER or even my 10 year old. But I am not saying she could never read it. There are appropriate times to read certain books and I think that is a parent's decision. But, it isn't MY decision to make for someone else's child. I wouldn't want someone saying THE HUNGER GAMES can no longer be in our library because a parent doesn't want his child to read it. Just don't allow your child to read it until that child is mature enough to handle the content. If your religion or belief system doesn't allow you to read a book, don't read it. But your belief system isn't the same as mine, so don't apply it to me.

If you think this is something that happened in the 1950's and is no longer an issue....WRONG! I just happened to see this article a couple weeks ago. A mother is trying to ban the book THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot. I read this book and found it extremely fascinating. This mom is trying to ban it because her 15-year-old son was reading it and read some passages to her that she felt they was pornographic.  Ok, if you don't know anything about this book, first of all, read my review, HERE.

Ok, now that you know what it is about, you can guess that it wasn't written for the audience of 15-year-old boys. This is an important story for women. It's a scientific book talking about the women's reproductive system. It's an important event from our medical history and my guess is the author's target audience was adult women....not teenage boys. Could I see a college class reading this? Yes. So, why was her son reading this? I have no idea. But, banning this book isn't the answer here. This mother needs to have a talk with her son about choosing appropriate books for his age and having a conversation about why this book was written and it's impact on women today. In fact, the author, tweeted this,

 "Just in time for banned books week, 
A parent in TN confuses gynecology with pornography 
& tries to ban my book." - Rebecca Skloot

To see more about that story, click HERE.  Should this book be in school libraries? Not for me to say. But I could see this piece of history being discussed in an upper lever science or ethics class due to the situation Henrietta Lacks was going through. 

So, as part of Banned Books Week, I am asking parents to be knowledgeable about what your child is reading. Get involved and maybe even read the book with them. Research reviews and find out who the intended audience is for the book. If it doesn't sound like something your child would enjoy or should be reading, then find them a new book. Don't take it away from others who may want to read it.  

“I believe in any kid’s ability to read any book 
and form their own judgments. 
It’s the job of a parent to guide his/her child 
through the reading of every book imaginable. 
Censorship of any form punishes curiosity.” 
― Sherman Alexie

I have accumulated a list of banned/challenged books that have left an impression on me. I have read every one of these books and even though I may not have liked them, I found them to be an important piece to my reading knowledge. I would be sad if I hadn't had the opportunity to read them.


This book is taught in our school's Junior English class and since I sub in that class, I have had an opportunity to have discussions about racism with students. Even though language is used that is no longer appropriate, it shows the time setting of the novel and the ignorance of the characters. It's an important novel to read and discuss.

BLUBBER by Judy Blume

Even though "bullying" is the buzz word for schools now, bullying was happening long before it became the focus of many schools. In this novel from the 1970's, Blume hits on the realities of bullying and the one being bullied.

“Having the freedom to read 
and the freedom to choose 
is one of the best gifts
 my parents ever gave me.” 
― Judy Blume

THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini

One of my favorite books of all time. But, there are some terrible events that happen in this book that are not for young eyes.


This collection of short stories are based on soldiers during and after the Vietnam War. The stories depicted aren't for younger eyes. But, these stories need to be heard and can be appropriate for high school students, especially during a study of the war.

THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

A horrific and sad story. But there are so many evil and twisted novels out there, that this one is calm in comparison. Does everyone believe in ghosts and in the type of heaven described in this novel? No, but just because you are reading it doesn't mean you have to believe it.  It's a story.


I'm not sure I would have gotten through puberty and teen years without reading this book.


Obviously, this is a highly controversial book. I read it, but did I believe everything in it? No. Did I find it interesting and enjoy the story? Yes. Try not to take everything so seriously. It's a NOVEL!

THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss
Again, another wonderful children's story that teaches us to take care of our world and those we love. How can that be wrong?

THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker

Obviously there is some language and graphic scenes in this book that are not appropriate for all ages. I didn't read this book until I was in college. But, that is part of being knowledgeable about your child's reading and maturity level and what they are reading.


I can't imagine why this beloved book from my childhood would be banned. The devotion and love that Charlotte showed to Wilbur was a true sign of friendship. What child doesn't need to learn that?

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

Science Fiction is not my usual genre, but I wanted to know what my kids were reading and what all the buzz was about. This series has gotten reluctant readers to be excited about reading.

TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer

Even though I didn't read the rest of this series and am not of fan of vampire novels, Meyer's books have contributed to teens and adults being excited to read and voraciously reading through series to find out what has happened to their favorite characters.

“Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” 
― Isaac Asimov

I know there are hundreds of other novels that have been banned or challenged and I'm sure I could talk about many more of them. But, my point is still, if you are banning a book, you are essentially taking that book away from someone who may really appreciate the story. Do you really have that right to say what I can or can't read? Do I have the right to say what you can and can't read? I hope not.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Diane Chamberlain Newest Book and POGO Opportunity

Today I'm sharing an awesome promotion from one of my favorite authors.

Diane Chamberlain's newest book, PRETENDING TO DANCE is coming out October 6, 2015.

Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain is back with her 24th novel, 
Pretending to Dance (October 6, 2015, St. Martin’s Press),
 and YOU are invited to an exclusive, never-before-seen POGO opportunity!
You may have heard of BOGO (Buy One Get One free) but, for the first time ever, 
BookSparks is hosting a POGO special (Preorder One book and Get another One free)
 That's right, Preorder One, Get One (this is even better than shoes)!
This week only, thanks to St. Martin's Press, 
if you preorder blockbuster author Diane Chamberlain's highly anticipated new book, 
Pretending to Dance, 
you will get her amazing last book,
 The Silent Sister (coming out in paperback next week), for free. 
Two AMAZING books for the price of one!
Starting TODAY, Tuesday, September 29th, to Friday, October 2nd at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST
you can preorder Pretending to Dance 
and receive a FREE copy of Diane's last novel that was hailed as the next Gone Girl
Already preordered a copy of Pretending to Dance
As long as you preordered during the month of September and can provide us with your receipt, you are still eligible to participate for this POGO offer!
Email your preorder receipt to 
and your mailing address to claim this awesome POGO offer. (US only)
To find out more about Diane Chamberlain and her books, click HERE.
Preorder your copy of PRETENDING TO DANCE by clicking the photo below:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Product Review: PacificCoast NutriLabs Melatonin

The older I get the harder it seems for me to be able to get a quality night's sleep. Either I can't get to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night and can't return to sleep. I know this is a common issue for several of my friends and wanted to share my experience with PacificCoast NutriLabs Melatonin.  I was sent a bottle to try and review for my readers.

The National Sleep Foundation states that 20% of people get less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis. Obviously this could be for various reasons, but for some it is because it is truly difficult to shut down from your hectic day. Especially with the increase of smart phones, devices, and televisions consuming our time, your brain has a difficult time going from being stimulated to completely shutting down for sleep. This is where Melatonin can help.

For me, I typically don't have too much trouble falling asleep. I am usually pretty exhausted by the time I get in bed and can relax and fall asleep pretty quickly. My issue is that I wake up around 4:00 AM, wide awake and can't get back to sleep. So, I wanted to try the Melatonin to see if it would help keep me asleep for the entire night.

I took one 5mg Melatonin when I started getting ready for bed. It was part of my routine of brushing my teeth and getting things ready for the next day. So, I took it approximately ten minutes before I actually crawled into bed. Once I'm in bed, I like to play my Words with Friends game or Scrabble or read a chapter or two from my book. But, when I took the Melatonin, I would get drowsy right away and couldn't stay awake at all. The first few times I took Melatonin I still woke up around 4:00 AM. But, after taking it consistently, I found that I was finally sleeping through the night. After about six weeks of taking the Melatonin, I can now just take it when I feel like I need to make sure I get a good night's sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced mainly by the pineal gland, a small gland behind your brain that is part of your endrocrine system. The pineal gland acts as a biological clock, telling your body when it is night and when it's daytime. When your body's natural clock is disrupted by numerous late nights, by bright lights of technology, or by erratic sleep patterns, your pineal gland isn't able to perform its job as well. That is where the Melatonin can help. It is non-habit forming and is a small pill, that is easy to take and has a rapid-release formula.

PacificCoast NutriLabs has an empty-bottle guarantee. If you don't notice a considerable difference in your sleep after taking one bottle, send the empty bottle back to the company for a full, hassle-free refund.

For $12.25, you can purchase PacificCoast NutriLabs 5mg Melatonin, 120 Capsules
on Amazon. 

You can also find out more about PacificCoast NutriLabs by visiting their website,

If you would like to purchase PacificCoast NutriLabs Melatonin, click the photo below:

Thanks to PacificCoast NutriLabs for sending the 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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Product Review: Amazingly Beautiful from Trusted Health Products

Trusted Health Products offers a variety of products ranging from health care to skin care. Products are available for both men and women. I have previously reviewed their Relief MD spray and you can see that review, HERE

Their newest product Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer and P.M. Moisturizer for Women was sent to me for the purpose of this review. Amazingly Beautiful uses a combination of fruit, nut and plant extracts to feed your skin cells and promote youthful, glowing skin. Both the A.M. and P.M. moisturizers are an oil, which I found to be a bit odd to put on my already oily skin. But, I know that your skin craves moisture and even those with oily skin need moisture. I just found, this summer in particular, it was too much for me to use in the daytime. I did like using the P.M. Moisturizer at night and really liked the scent of the P.M. Moisturizer. I have product left to try this winter when my skin is more dry and I am anxious to see if I notice a difference.

Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer and P.M. Moisturizer for Women offers a special label for each customer, adding your name to the bottle label to remind you every morning and evening that you are truly Amazingly Beautiful.  I thought this was a unique feature and liked seeing the product on my bathroom counter.

Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer and P.M. Moisturizer for Women offers the following features without a single chemical added to this product:

-The safest and most effective moisturizer and revitalizer available
-Say goodbye to dry skin
-Say goodbye to oily skin
-Skin looks and feels younger, softer and smooth like silk
-Decreases the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet
-Reduces appearance of aging
-Firms and tones skin’s appearance
-Pores appear to shrink, giving a smoother look to skin’s complexion

-100% pure – No preservatives, parabens, GMOs, synthetic chemicals or additives of any kind

Each formula offers a specific blend of extracts to offer your skin the best treatment. The particular blend also has an aroma to either wake you up or relax you for bed. The A.M. Moisturizer offers a blend of almond, orange, lemon, avocado and olive oils. The P.M. Moisturizer offers a blend of almond, orange, lemon, evening primrose, and apricot. My favorite scent of the two was the PM blend, but I really liked both. Even when I stopped using the A.M. Moisturizer, I still liked opening the jar and breathing in the scent.

You should also note that anytime you change your skin care routine, you may experience a brief blemish breakout. These breakouts can last a day to a week and are related to your skin releasing the toxins built up by chemicals in skin care products you have previously used. This is normal and shouldn't cause you to stop using the product. I didn't have any breakouts while using the product. I just found my skin was too oily to use the product during the daytime.

If you are interested in trying Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer and P.M. Moisturizer for Women, for a limited time, the manufacturer is willing to offer my readers one FREE bottle. They would love to have my readers try out Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer (for women) or The Man A.M. Moisturizer (for men) and agreed to send one bottle FREE if my readers would pay a minimal shipping and handling charge. This is a one-time only offer!  They also agreed to include 2 eye-opening reports – The Poisons You Put On Your Face Everyday and Why Your Skin Care Products Have Never Worked: The Truth Revealed .”  That’s a total value of over $40.00.  CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE BOTTLE AND FREE REPORTS NOW! 

For more on Trusted Health Products, visit their website:
You can also "Like them on Facebook, HERE

You can also find the Amazingly Beautiful A.M. Moisturizer and P.M. Moisturizer on Amazon, HERE.

Thanks to Trusted Health Products for sending me this product for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this product through Amazon, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Children's Book Review: The True Spirit of Christmas By Dorothy Thurgood Manning


By: Dorothy Thurgood Manning

January 14, 2015 - Paperback
September 20, 2015 - Hardcover

Publisher: Loretta Kids' Books


I love Christmas books. I have one whole tub full of Christmas books that I love getting out and rereading with our kids each year. If you are looking to add to your Christmas book collection, add this one to your list.

Maddie loves Christmas! Well, most of it anyway. Maddie loves to hang the lights and decorate the tree and window shop, telling her family all the gifts she wants. But, she isn't thrilled with making gifts for her family at school or making cookies with her brother. Finally, on Christmas Eve, when all Maddie can think about are all the gifts she is going to receive, she meets someone who shows her what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.....the giving.

The story is sweet and kids will be able to identify with Maddie's excitement. The book is "mostly" written in rhyming verse. I say mostly, because some of the rhymes didn't work for me or were awkward. The pattern and rhythm to the story were thrown off a few times, but I imagine only the parent reading the story would notice. The kids will delight in the vivid illustrations and getting themselves excited for the upcoming Christmas season while reading this story.

If you are looking for a reminder lesson on teaching your children that it is truly better to give than receive, this is the book for you. I think this book would be perfect for preschool to lower elementary aged kids. It's available on Kindle, paperback, and most recently, hardcover, so you can add to those special books you set out at Christmas time.

Dorothy Thurgood Manning - source
Dorothy Thurgood Manning was born in Boston and raised on its South Shore. Ms. Manning graduated from Stanford University and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from California College of the Arts.  She studied painting as a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish. Ms. Manning currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and two young sons.  She is a co-founder of the Alta Vista School there and was its first art teacher. THE TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS is her first print book. For more information, check out her website, HERE
To purchase a copy of THE TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS click the photo below:

I will be linking up with Booking Mama in her Saturday feature Kid Konnection. Check out other great posts related to children's and YA books shared from other bloggers by clicking, HERE

Thanks to the author 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 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 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest By J. Ryan Stradal

A Novel

By: J. Ryan Stradal

Published: July 28, 2015

Publisher: Viking/Pamela Dorman Books


J. Ryan Stadal has won the blue ribbon at the state fair with his first novel, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. It is easily going to make my list of Favorite Books of 2015. I may be a bit partial since I'm a Midwesterner and much of the story takes place in Minnesota and Iowa. The book is centered on the Thorvald family starting in the 1970's and taking the reader to present day. The other main character in the book is the food. Each of the eight chapters is based on a food, from the lutefisk to the peanut butter bars, its role is just as crucial to the story.

The story centers around Eva Thorvald, but by telling her story, you must hear the story of others in her family and people throughout her life. The way this story is told reminded me of the book OLIVE KITTERIDGE. The chapters, in a way, are like their own short stories, connecting people to Eva's life. As a new chapter begins, we learn a new dish, and pick up later on in Eva's life. Some characters are left behind, others are revisited. Gaps of Eva's life are ignored, but the reader soon realizes it doesn't matter. The story begins with Eva's father, long before she is born and takes us all the way through Eva's life as a successful chef. How she gets to that achievement is amazing and part of the allure to the story. Recipes appear in each chapter and their descriptions will make you want to rush out and get the ingredients.

Eva's story is full of loss, forgiveness, failure, love, luck and eventually, success. Her story is amazing and inspiring. I may have laughed and cringed at the practical joke she played on some bullies in school. I cried along with her father as he wept over his newborn child. I savored the food descriptions, wishing I could have just one bite of Eva's famous succotash.

Stradal has a special talent for linking characters in unique ways and making them reappear in surprising situations. He leaves you wanting more of the story at the end of each chapter and yet, eager to turn the page for the next tantalizing recipe and event in Eva's life. Much like you would linger over your pie and coffee, you will want to linger over the stories in this book, being reminded of your own family occasions where food was the center of attention.

Side note: There are multiple swear words in this book. It feels natural as part of the culture of the situation, but take note if it offends you.

J Ryan Stradal - source

Born and raised in Minnesota, J. Ryan Stradal now lives in Los Angeles, where he is an editor at Unnamed Press, fiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown, advisory board member at 826LA, and co-producer & host of the literary/culinary series Hot Dish.

In addition to his first novel, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST, his work appears in Hobart, The Rumpus, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Joyland, The California Prose Directory, and Midnight Breakfast, among other places. He likes books, wine, sports, root beer, and peas.

To purchase a copy of KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher 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 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