Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: The Joy of Ballpark Food by Bennett Jacobstein

From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine

By: Bennett Jacobstein

Food Photography: Deborah L Jacobstein

Published: January 9, 2015

Publisher: Ballpark Food Publications


Baseball is synonymous with summer. People all over our country spend days, nights and weekends at ballparks cheering on their favorite minor or major league teams. Part of that enjoyment includes the food you eat at the game. Ballparks aren't just serving hot dogs, peanuts, and cracker jacks anymore. There are foods to cater to every palate as well as dietary needs. Bennett Jacobstein and his wife, Dorothy spent a good share of 2014 visiting all thirty of the major league ballparks in the United States. Their purpose was to investigate the various food offerings and find out what is unique about each one. Their book also shares iconic historical information related to the classic song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", the creation of Cracker Jacks, hot dogs, nachos, and how peanuts became a top-selling item at ball games. Each ballpark is featured including their signature hot dog and some of the more "unusual" and popular food choices.  Dishes such as Grilled Wild Alaskan Salmon at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wild Rice Soup at Target Field in Minneapolis, Rocky Mountain Oysters at Coors Field in Denver, and a Lobster Roll at Fenway Park in Boston are just a few of the stranger options to enjoy during a ball game.

Image taken of a page in THE JOY OF BALLPARK FOOD showing a photo of the menu from Wrigley Field in 1947. 
The enjoyment of food during a ball game has become big business and the Jacobsteins' share some interesting tidbits of baseball history, how some foods were created, and unique hot dogs to fit every personality and geographic location. Wonderful photos are included throughout the pages to whet your appetite. After reading through these pages, you will want to order tickets to get to your favorite ballpark as soon as you can!

Our family has only been to four of the ballparks, and were familiar with several of the dishes mentioned at Wrigley and PNC Park. This book can certainly be used as a travelogue to visiting and tasting some of the chef-inspired dishes that have become so popular at games. Even though this book is offered in paperback form, it would make a great coffee-table book or conversation starter for summer gatherings or an excellent gift for that baseball fan in your life. Even non-fans will enjoy the food facts throughout the pages. The best part is that all royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. That makes this book a "Home Run"!

Bennett Jacobstein
Bennett Jacobstein lives in San Jose, CA. He is a retired librarian and publisher of demographic materials. He currently works during the baseball season in the concessions stand at Municipal Stadium, home of Minor League Baseball’s Class A Advanced San Jose Giants. Every minor leaguer dreams of making it to the big leagues. Bennett had his dream fulfilled when he worked as a concessions stand substitute at three Oakland Athletics games during the 2013 season.

He enjoys both baseball and food but considers himself a much better eater than ball player. He had a two-year Little League career in which he went two seasons without getting a hit. His only RBI was when he got hit by the pitch with the bases loaded. When not batting or sitting on the bench, he would be found in right field praying that the ball didn’t get hit to him.

The three greatest days of his life were the day he married his wife Debbie, the day his daughter Aviva was born, and the day he first successfully replaced the nachos cheese bag in the dispenser at the San Jose Giants’ concessions stand.

To learn more, go to You can also find out more on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE JOY OF BALLPARK FOOD, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher 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 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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Product Review: Hask Hair Products

I can tell you that before this Spring, I had never heard of HASK Hair Products. Since I am not one to turn away FREE hair products, I obviously said yes to trying them out.

HASK is a collection of hair care products that feature exotic oils in their products. High quality ingredients, aromatic fragrances and unique packaging come together to create amazing shampoos, conditioners, shine oils, and deep conditioners.  All of their products are based on Argan, Keratin, Monoi, and Macadamia Oils.

HASK products are free of sulfates, parabens, drying alcohols, phthalates, gluten, and artificial colors. All of their products help to repair damaged hair and give you a shiny, frizz-free finish.

There is a product for every hair type:
  • Frizzy Hair - Argan Oil penetrates deeply and repairs split ends. Hair is soft and fortified.
  • Weak Hair - Keratin strengthens and smooths the hair shaft from the inside out.
  • Dry Hair - Macadamia Oil gives hair hydration and moisturizes your hair. 
  • Dull Hair - Monoi Oil nourishes and hydrates all hair types. The oil is known as a Tahitian beauty secret.

My favorite of the four products has been the Argan Oil for Frizzy Hair. I have loved all the products, but that seems to be the one my hair needed most. I have been a loyal Pantene user for many years. But using HASK, I noticed a difference immediately. I have now been using it for six weeks and I don't know that I could ever use anything else. 

Each of the formulas have a different fragrance and I think the Monoi Oil is my favorite scent, but I really like all their scents. The product is smooth and thick and doesn't feel greasy at all once applied. I use the Deep Conditioner once a week and love the way my hair feels after using it. The shine oils have been life-savers in this constantly humid weather we seem to be having here in Iowa. I am able to keep my hair looking the same all day long.

I have been so happy with my hair lately, I had to take a photo and share my "Good Hair Day" thanks to HASK. My hair is very fine and has a natural curl. To be able to straighten it, without fly-aways or frizzy ends and keep it looking nice all day is not normal for me.

You also don't need to use much product and when using the conditioner, I apply it just to my ends, not on my scalp at all. Same when using the deep conditioner and shine oils. 

HASK products are already well known in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, Mexico and South America.  They are now gaining popularity the US market. Oh, and the best part is they are MADE IN THE USA!!! You can find HASK at Ulta stores and as well as various pharmacies and department stores. Check out their website, to find stores in your area.  Their products are very reasonably priced. For $5.99 on, you can get a shampoo or conditioner and if you buy two products, you get one free! That's a great deal!

If you are frustrated with your hair products, have flat, lifeless or frizzy hair, I strongly suggest you try the HASK product best for you. You aren't out a huge cost amount and you are using exotic oils on your hair rather than chemicals! Who isn't interested in that???

For more on HASK products, check out their online presence: 
Website - 
Instagram - @haskhair
Twitter - @HaskHair
Facebook -
Pinterest - HaskHair

You can find all the HASK products available online for purchase at Ulta, HERE

Thanks to HASK for sending me the above products for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review: Love and Miss Communication By Elyssa Friedland


By: Elyssa Friedland

Published: May 12, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow Publishers

Fiction/Contemporary Romance

Have you ever wanted to completely disconnect? No cell phone, computer, or iPad. No email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Could you do it for an hour? A day? A week? How about a whole year? Evie Rosen is completely dependent on being available 24/7 not only because she is trying to make partner at the law firm, but also for her social life. After not making partner and being fired for sending thousands of personal emails during business hours and then messing up a date after "googling" the wrong guy, Evie decides to give up the internet. She uses an old cell phone and no longer checks her Email, Facebook feed, or uses Google. Her friends think she is crazy and slowly she begins to wonder the same thing.  How can anyone live without the internet for a whole year and still connect with friends and find a new job?

The concept for this book is interesting and even a little convicting. How often do I reach for my phone when I am bored, when I need to check the radar, look up an old friend, or use "google" as an encyclopedia? We all do it. It's become part of our life. But, living vicariously through Evie, you think about giving it up yourself. Sure you would miss out on seeing your friend's 100th photo of their new baby or miss that coupon to your favorite clothing store. But does any of that really matter?

Evie begins to realize that yes, some of her relationships will change because she "unplugged", but those friendships that matter grow deeper and are more fulfilling. Her down-time is filled with walks in the park, visits to her grandma and finding out she has a knack for decorating.

Even though this book starts slow and Evie's insecurity becomes repetitive, her character does come around. She has an endearing grandma and a few friends that keep the story interesting. Readers will be rooting for Evie and the new future she is creating. The romance piece is predictable, but it's who you want Evie to end up with so the reader is happy.

Overall, this book will encourage you to enjoy the time you spend with those you love, not the devices in your hands. It will show you that you don't always have to be connected to connect with others. And it reminds you that the internet can be a helpful tool, as long as you can balance your time on it. LOVE AND MISS COMMUNICATION is a current, witty, and modern love story.

Side note: I love the cover. The colors are bright and eye-catching. The cover relates to the concept of the book. Plus, it's fun!

Favorite quote from the book: "These people who take up space in our lives, they don't just vanish entirely. They leave scars." 
Elyssa Friedland - source
Elyssa Friedland attended Yale University, where she served as managing editor of the Yale Daily News. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School and subsequently worked as an associate at a major firm. Recently, she has written for POPSUGAR, and Bustle. Prior to law school, Elyssa wrote for several publications, including Modern Bride, New York magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, CBS, Yale Alumni Magazine, and Your Prom. She grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in New York City with her husband and young children. For more on Elyssa, check out her website, You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE. You can ask Elyssa questions on Twitter using the hashtag, #askelyssa. To see her article titled, "10 Ways the Internet is Ruining Your Love Life, Because Cyberstalking Exes Solves Nothing", click HERE.  

To purchase a copy of LOVE AND MISS COMMUNICATION click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for sending an eBook version to me 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 reviews.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Fun Father's Day Quiz from Grammarly

Take this fun Father's Day quiz and check your grammar.

Click on the correct answer below each photo. The correct answer will appear in the photo. How good is your grammar?

I got 7 out of 7. How did you do???

This quiz is brought to you by Grammarly -

Friday, June 19, 2015

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

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

By: Carole P Roman

Published: September 23, 2014

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


It is never to early to start teaching your child about our great world and the countries and cultures that make it so wonderful.  If you are a home-schooling parent, a teacher, a grandparent, librarian, or anyone else who loves reading to kids, this series should be at the top of your list.

Carole Roman has the talent for teaching early learners about other cultures and making it fun and interesting to them as well as to the adult reading it to them! Through words, vivid illustrations and even actual photographs, Roman takes you into Greece, explaining its language, food, and culture. While reading the book, I found myself getting hungry for some fabulous Greek food.

Greece is full of important history and sharing this book with your child will help them connect parts of our American culture to the Greek culture. A dictionary in the back of the book will help with Greek terms and their pronunciation.

Carole Roman has written several other wonderful books in this series including writing about the countries of Kenya, France, Mexico and Australia...just to name a few. Be sure to check out all the books in this IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN.... series. To see all the countries offered, click HERE.

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,

To purchase IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...GREECE, click the photo below:

I will be linking up with other bloggers on Booking Mama's Kid KonnectionEvery Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection that shares children's book reviews and other bookish posts for YA and Children's book fans. To see these posts, click HERE

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book to me 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 reviews.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Product Review: Viva Labs Raw Organic Cacao Nibs with Recipe

Viva Labs
Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

I was approached to review Viva Labs Organic Unsweetened Cacao Nibs I have never tried Cacao Nibs before and wasn't really sure what to do with them.  After some online research and looking around Pinterest, I found many ways to get all the benefits from Cacao Nibs.

Cacao Nibs look like shaved chocolate, but they don't melt in your hand if you hold them. They are crunchy and pack a strong chocolate flavor as well as have a chocolate scent. 

What is so special about Cacao Nibs?

Cacao Nibs are considered to be nature's chocolate and were known to be used in Mayan rituals and ceremonies.  Cacao Nibs offer cardiovascular health with having polyphenols, catechins, and procyanidins naturally present. These compounds help keep your cholesterol levels within the normal range.

Cacao Nibs contain essential daily minerals like magnesium, chromium, calcium, and iron. They also have theobromine which is a stimulant-free energy source.  Rather than the crash you get after eating chocolate or drinking coffee, Cacao Nibs will sustain your energy.

Viva Labs take great pride in having the finest variety of Cacao Nibs taken from Perunvian Criollo beans. They also use Fair Trade practices when growing and harvesting the beans with Peruvian Farmers.

How do I use Cacao Nibs?

I made a smoothie using Viva Labs Cacao Nibs. 


In your NutriBullet (or other blender system)

1 cup of Almond Milk
1/4 Cup of Peanut Butter
1 Tbs Chia Seeds
1 Tbs Cacao Nibs
Handful of ice cubes
(optional: 1/2 frozen banana)

Mix until all items are blended together.

If you are looking to add chocolate flavor without the calories and sugar, using Raw Cacao Nibs in smoothies, cookies, and granola is an excellent idea.  I have a much longer span of energy and feel like I am actually adding benefits rather than empty sugar calories to my diet. 

To purchase a 1 lb bag of Viva Labs Cacao Nibs, click the photo below:

Thanks to Viva Labs for sending this 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 reviews.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Little Monday Inspiration - Create Light

It has been awhile since I shared some inspiration to kick off your week. Last week, this quote stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you.

Today's inspiration comes to your from another blogger whom I admire, Dani DiPirro.  She shares positive quotes and inspiration and creates beautiful ways to do it. Her blog, Positively Present makes me happy and makes me think every week!

I am using her calendar, EVERY DAY MATTERS, daily and you can see my review of it back in January, HERE. Today's quote comes from the month of June, where her word for the month is "nuture". This final sentence from last week struck a cord with me and I thought it might with you too.

Sometimes we get stuck in our rut 
of blaming others, self-pity, and general crankiness.  

We can't sit around 
waiting for someone else 
to make our situation better, 
only we can make that change. 

So, quit pouting and being angry! 

Create some light in your life today!
 I promise you will feel better! 

Thanks Dani DiPirro for this kick in the butt! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: The House of Hawthorne By Erika Robuck


By: Erika Robuck

Published: May 5, 2015

Publisher: NAL

Fiction/Historical Fiction

I feel very ignorant when it comes to knowledge about our most prolific and talented writers from history. Yes, I have heard of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson, and Melville, but didn't realize they were all friends. I didn't realize some lived in poverty, with depression, or had vast political connections. Nathaniel Hawthorne, most famous for his book THE SCARLET LETTER, was such an odd man. He was passionate, secretive, and deeply in love with his wife Sophia. But he often acted selfishly and left Sophia to handle things without giving a thought to her needs. He would have drove most wives mad, but Sophia was always waiting patiently for him. She waited for him to decide to marry her, stayed with him through poverty and depression, and put aside her artistic talents to raise and mother their children. THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE tells their story, from her perspective.

Robuck details Nathaniel and Sophia's passionate and intense relationship that was also full of disappointment and failures. Robuck begins by telling of Sophia's younger years, detailing her debilitating headaches, her beautiful paintings, and how she eventually meets Nathaniel. Sophia Peabody Hawthorne was a captivating woman who was kept in Nathaniel's shadow and often took a backseat to his notoriety when she was likely just as talented in her own right. He was a complex man and an irritating husband who often put his relationships with other authors and even presidents above his family's needs. They lived with much discord between family and friends because of their political beliefs against slavery which also resulted in financial and job loss.  The publishing of THE SCARLET LETTER came at a impoverished time for the family and helped ease their difficulties but also thrust Hawthorne into the spotlight, which he didn't like.

Photo taken from the pages of THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE
Robuck aptly offers a spotlight on women and their role (even if it was viewed as less important) in history. She gives an honest and revealing portrait of the lives of artists and writers in the 1800's. This story shares a very intimate look at the lives of the Hawthorne's and their families. It details the many different homes they lived in and especially Sophia's deep connection to nature. The reader will appreciate the many descriptions of the country at that time and will feel the emotions along with the characters.

Photo taken from the pages of THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE
It took me a bit to get used to the writing style as Robuck used language befitting of the era and of course, of an artist. But Robuck definitely has a way with words that are delicate and deep. Her sentences are beautifully written. I can only assume she writes as Sophia herself would have written in her journals.

THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE is emotional, believable, and well-researched. Robuck is extremely talented at bringing historical literary figures back to life. If you would like to read my review of her book, FALLEN BEAUTY, click HERE.

Erika Robuck - Photo Credit Catsch Photography LLC
Erika Robuck is a contributor to the fiction blog Writer Unboxed, and she maintains her own blog, Muse. She is a member of the Hawthorne Society, the Hemingway Society, the Historical Hovel Society, and the Edna St vincent Millay Society. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and three sons. For more information, check her website, You can also find her on Twitter, HERE, and Facebook, HERE.

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel. 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 paying a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Monday, June 8, 2015

14 Books to Read This Summer - Fiction and Non-Fiction

There are some amazing books coming out this summer that I wanted to be sure to share with my readers. Some of these are sitting on my own shelf waiting to be read, others I'll be buying like the rest of you as soon as they are available. Most of these are authors I don't want to miss and some are brand new to me.  I've offered both fiction and non-fiction choices and something that I think will fit everyone's reading personalities. Obviously there are other great books coming out this summer and I couldn't possibly talk about all of them here. These are the ones that caught my eye. Be sure to let me know if you read any of these great summer books! Clicking on the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase if you choose.

By: Judy Blume
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Knopf

Judy Blume is back with an adult novel. I devoured all her books as a tween/teen and I'm anxious to share my very own collection with my daughter soon. Those of us who loved her books as teens are sure to love her books written for us as adults! I love the 50's era and this book paints a picture of tragedy from that time-period.

In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

To Kill A Mockingbird #2
By: Harper Lee
To Be Published: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Harper

It would be difficult to find anyone who isn't chomping at the bit to get Harper Lee's long-awaited book after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  This one is a no-brainer.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

A Helen Grace Thriller #1
By: M. J. Arlidge
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: NAL

I was offered this book and turned it down, only because I don't think I could handle reading it. I get nightmares easily (I know...don't laugh, but the baseball scene in TWILIGHT gave me nightmares for weeks) and I know this one will give me nightmares. I know my limits when it comes to scary stuff. But, for those of you who can handle thrillers like this, I think it sounds like one you would read straight through. I want someone to tell me how it is!! It's the first in a series that I'm sure will be a hit!

Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Inspector Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense.

By: Alexandra Burt
To Be Published: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Berkley

This one I am worried about giving me nightmares as well, but I did agree to give it a look. But, I'll stop if I think I can't handle it. Another mystery I couldn't stand to not know what happened. Reading the synopsis, any mother's heart would stop. I think it'll be a page-turner because I'll have to know what happened!

First I remember the darkness.
Then I remember the blood.
I don’t know where my daughter is.

Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital after being found near dead at the bottom of a ravine with a fragmented memory and a vague sense of loss. Then a terrifying reality sets in: her daughter is missing.

Days earlier, Estelle discovered her baby’s crib empty in their Brooklyn apartment. There was no sign of a break-in, but all traces of seven-month-old Mia had disappeared. Her diapers, her clothes, her bottles—all gone.

Frustrated and unable to explain her daughter’s disappearance, Estelle begins a desperate search. But when the lack of evidence casts doubt on her story, Estelle becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of the police and the media.

As hope of reuniting with Mia becomes all she has left, Estelle will do anything to find answers: What has she done to her baby? And what has someone else done to her?

By: Beatriz Williams
To Be Published: June 23, 2015
Publisher: G P Putnam's Sons

I am a huge Beatriz Williams fan and isn't this cover just gorgeous?!?! Historical fiction and scandal make this novel one to read!

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photographs, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

By: Lori Nelson Spielman
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Plume

I've already raved about this one, HERE. It's perfect for summer and may convince you to bury the hatchet at those class reunions or family gatherings.

The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans' favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn't biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.
Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever. 

By: Barbara Delinsky
To Be Published: June 9, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Barbara never disappoints me and I have been hearing about this one all winter. If it doesn't end up in my mailbox, I'll be buying it.

Caroline MacAfee is a skilled carpenter, her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. Together they are the faces of Gut It!, a home renovation series on local public television. Caroline takes pride in her work, and in the way she connects with the show's audience. But when she is told the network wants her daughter to replace her as host-the day after Caroline's fifty-sixth birthday-she is devastated. The fallout couldn't come at a worse time.

For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiancé who doesn't want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It!

For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. Her ex-husband's death thrusts her into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there's Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself.

Who am I? Both women ask, as the blueprints they've built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other.

By: Jane Porter
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley

This one is waiting for me already. Don't you love the cover? I love how it is modern, set in wine country, and connects to WWII. I can't wait to read it.

In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.
What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.
As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.

By: Julia Pierpont
To Be Published: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Random House

I love finding debut novelists. Her book full of family secrets is sure to keep readers turning the pages. Family dramas makes for perfect summer reading.

Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into crisis. His wife, Deb, gladly left behind a difficult career as a dancer to raise the two children she adores. In the ensuing years, she has mostly avoided coming face-to-face with the weaknesses of the man she married. But then an anonymously sent package arrives in the mail: a cardboard box containing sheaves of printed emails chronicling Jack’s secret life. The package is addressed to Deb, but it’s delivered into the wrong hands: her children’s.
With this vertiginous opening begins a debut that is by turns funny, wise, and indescribably moving. As the Shanleys spin apart into separate orbits, leaving New York in an attempt to regain their bearings, fifteen-year-old Simon feels the allure of adult freedoms for the first time, while eleven-year-old Kay wanders precariously into a grown-up world she can’t possibly understand. Writing with extraordinary precision, humor, and beauty, Julia Pierpont has crafted a timeless, hugely enjoyable novel about the bonds of family life—their brittleness, and their resilience.

By: Paula McLain
To Be Published: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books

I love historical fiction and this one is getting lots of early praise. I am often drawn to novels set in Africa, as this one is, and I'm sure is one I will enjoy.

Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Paris Wife, takes readers into the glamorous and decadent circle of British expats living in Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun tells the story of the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer, and aviator Beryl Markham, from her childhood in British East Africa to her relationship with hunter Denys Finch Hatton and rivalry with Out of Africa author Karen Blixen—a notorious love triangle that changed the course of Beryl’s life.

I like to learn something while reading too and I enjoy non-fiction just as much as fiction. All of these will inspire you to do better, be better, and have fun....oh and have a hot dog while watching your favorite baseball team!

From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine
By: Bennett Jacobstein
Published: January 9, 2015
Publisher: Ballpark Food Publications

Now, I know this book has already been published for several months, but its theme is all summer. Ballparks, baseball games and food mean summer to many people. This one is waiting for to check it out. We love going to baseball games, even though we don't go to that many...unless you count our boys' games. Summer dinners consist of hot dogs, burgers, brats, and walking tacos for us until baseball season is over. But ballparks all over the country are upping their game and serving out-of-the-box food. I can't wait to see what's inside the pages of this book. I bet it'll make me hungry and want to go to a game! I also love that all the royalties from this book are donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. That's pretty awesome!

Baseball is a game that is identified with food. We even sing about it at every ballpark during the seventh inning stretch: "….buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack..." The famous song was written by Jack Norworth in 1908. From the early part of the twentieth century until the 1980s, classic baseball fare consisted mostly of hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. Then ballparks slowly began to sell new items. A proliferation of new food offerings during the 1990s was fueled by the opening of twelve new major league ballparks. Now, teams around the country sell a variety of exotic food as well as wide variety of hot dogs. The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine begins with the history of the first hot dog at a ball game and concludes with a culinary tour of all 30 major league ballparks. 100% of royalties from the sales of this book are donated directly to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties of California.

By: Laura Vanderkam
To Be Published: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Portfolio

I'm a huge fan of Vanderkam. I follow (ok, stalk) her on Twitter and read her blog everyday.  She has been promoting this book for months and I think all of us can learn from her research on how to balance work and home life.

Balancing work and family life is a constant struggle, especially for women with children and ambitious career goals. It’s been the subject of countless books, articles, blog posts and tweets in the last few years, and passions run high in all directions.

Now Laura Vanderkam, the acclaimed time management expert, comes at the “having it all” debate by asking a very practical question. Given that we all have the same 168 hours every week, how do people who do have it all—women with thriving careers and families—use those hours? When you study how such women fit together the pieces of their lives, like tiles in a mosaic, the results are surprising.

If you work 40 hours and sleep 56 (i.e. 8 times 7) that leaves 72 hours for everything else. Vanderkam explains how her subjects use those “everything else” hours; why we work less and have more free time than we think; why it’s a myth that successful women get too little sleep; and how women can have demanding jobs, spouses, and kids, and still enjoy a healthy amount of downtime.

She shares the time-logs from 1001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year and still make time for their families and friends, for sleep and exercise, and for leisure activities they love. Based on what she learned from the patterns in those time-logs, she provides a framework for anyone who wants to thrive at both work and life.

Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side
By: Dana Perino
Published: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Twelve

I know this isn't technically a "summer read", but since it is close I'm still sharing it. This was a gift from my husband and is waiting for me to crack the pages. I respect Perino and enjoy watching her on Fox News. I am confident this will be inspiring and informative and may help you get back on track to finish out the year with a positive attitude.

Thoughtful, inspiring and often surprising, AND THE GOOD NEWS IS... traces Dana's unlikely journey through politics, the White House, and television. She has an uncanny ability for knowing what to say and how best to say it. A recurring theme in AND THE GOOD NEWS that planning has never worked for Dana; every time she has made a plan, something unexpected-and often better-has happened. 
AND THE GOOD NEWS IS... blends a candid self-portrait with advice for allowing one's very best personality traits to shine through, emphasizing that dignity and civility are choices we make for ourselves.

By: Candace Cameron Bure
To Be Published: August 1, 2015
Publisher: B & H Books

I have loved Candace Cameron Bure since her days on "Full House" and am still a fan as an adult. I follow her on social media channels and appreciate her honesty and faithful devotion to God and family.

Candace Cameron Bure has grown up before our eyes and we've watched as she's balanced life in Hollywood with her faith for many years. But that all reached new heights when she was given the opportunity to join the cast of Dancing With the Stars. Being on the show was one of her dreams come true; and with that dream came the opportunity to display her Christian faith in front of millions of people, through an intense season of stretching beyond her limits, and to run the race God gave her with joy and perseverance.
Join Candace as she reflects on the self-discovery that came through leaping out of her comfort zone. Go behind the scenes and experience the highs and lows, the roadblocks, and the personal victories. Hear straight from her heart on tough lessons learned about grace, rejection, perfectionism, disappointment, accountability, dealing with criticism, and more. Through God’s strength, and with the help of endless support from her family and friends, see how Candace stayed true to herself and publicly lived out her faith in Christ all the way to the finale.

If you typically like the kind of books I share about here, I am confident these books will be winners. Let me know if you add any to your summer reading list!

If you choose to purchase any of these books by clicking the photo of the book, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting