Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: Confetti Cakes For Kids











Confetti Cakes For Kids: Delightful Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City's Famed Bakery
By Elisa Strauss, Christie Matheson






Description: Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes has created confections as elaborate as a platter of sushi, a wine bottle in a crate, and a designer handbag. Now she focuses her talents on her younger fans with this enchanting collection of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes for kids. Strauss starts readers off with 20 delicious recipes and all the basic techniques needed to complete any project in the book. Then she offers step-by-step instructions for 24 jaw-dropping designs that can become the centerpiece of any celebration. Projects span the imagination--from a charming sock monkey, to an MP3 player, to playful hula gingerbread girls and boys--and will appeal to anyone looking for the perfect way to thrill a child with a delectable, spectacular creation.

The cover of this cookbook is definitely eye catching isn't it?! These cakes and cupcakes look like works of art but are doable to make using this cookbook, Confetti Cakes for Kids as your guide. There are step-by-step instructions for amazing cakes, cookie and cupcakes. There is a chapter each on Cake basics, Techniques, Basic Recipes, Cookies, Cupcakes, Mini Cakes and Cakes. There are recipes for Vanilla Butter Cream frosting and even Cupcake frosting that look easy to make. There are also templates at the back of the book to make it even easier to duplicate these beautiful creations. My son and I are eyeing the Conversation Heart Mini Cakes for his classroom Valentine's Day Party as I am in charge of the snack. We are also considering the Lollipop Cookies that look like something from the Cookie Bouquet stores. This would be a great cookbook for anyone who likes to bake or wants to learn how to bake these creations. It would also be a wonderful book for Moms & Dad & Grandparents to bake beautiful treats with your kids.

Elisa Strauss owns the Confetti Cakes Bakery in New York City. Check out this video called Diary of a Foodie where the author shares details about her baking and her bakery.

I want to thank Anna from Hachette Books for sending me this fabulous book.


** Make sure to check back next week as I will be hosting a Hachette Books giveaway for several cookbooks including Confetti Cakes For Kids!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Book Review: The Flavor Bible:: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity




The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
By Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg



Description: Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating "deliciousness" in any dish. Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements of an extraordinary meal.Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from America's most imaginative chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an essential reference for every kitchen.


The Flavor Bible is a treasure, filled to the brim with creative ideas to pair and combine flavors that complement your own recipes. It's not your typical cookbook filled with recipes but instead lists thousands of ingredients and they are all organized alphabetically and cross-referenced. It's more like an encyclopedia that guides you to delicious flavor combinations. There are also wonderful essays and stories intertwined throughout the book from different chefs that can provide inspiration and ideas for your own cooking. If you are an experienced cook you will definitely be able to dive right in and retrieve some great ideas. For the foodie wannabee's and Food Network gurus (like me) this will be a great reference to help you explore and build your confidence as you experiment in your cooking.

*I want to thank Anna from Hachette Books for sending me this fabulous book.

** Make sure to check back next week as I will be hosting a Hachette Books giveaway for several cookbooks including The Flavor Bible!!




Monday, December 29, 2008

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. Marcia has suggested that we also share what books and book related items we have received as holiday gifts as well. I actually had a slower week with the Holidays but I am still thrilled with what I received in the mail.
  • The Condition by Jennifer Haugh (From Paperbackswap)
  • The Hour I first Believed by Wally Lamb (From Book Club Girl for the January On Air show with Wally Lamb). I was so thrilled to get this book as I am a huge fan of Wally Lambs writing. I have read all of his books with the exception of his non-fiction book. Also, this book was a signed, First Edition Copy which was an added bonus.
Here are a few other books that I missed posting about when I missed a few weeks of Mailbox Monday Postings.
*I also received a gift card from Amazon from my Secret Santa from the Book Bloggers Christmas Exchange. I will definitely have some fun shopping for books! Otherwise, I didn't receive any book or book related items as holiday gifts.

To read other Mailbox Monday posts, check them out HERE.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blog Improvement Project for 2009

I've been thinking about new goals and ways to improve my blog for the upcoming year. Then, I read a post on Mary's Blog about the 2009 Blog Improvement Project this evening. This project is being launched by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. I launched my blog in July of this year so I know that I can benefit from some fresh and new ideas to improve my blog.

Here are some of the details about the Project:

The 2009 Blog Improvement Project is a year-long challenge that will consist of twice-monthly activities to improve your blog. Every first and third Monday of the month I’ll post an activity here at Sophisticated Dorkiness that will related in some way to making your blog better. Each participant should spend the next two weeks focusing on that aspect of their blog. Possible topics include goals setting, writing better content, building community with readers, getting more readers, and blog layout and design.

If you choose to participate in this project, there is no obligation to participate in every challenge, and you can customize each challenge so it makes sense for your particular blog and goals. Think of the design as similar to Weekly Geeks — participate when it makes sense for you. This is a group effort, because getting better is always easier when you have a support system, but the ultimate commitment remains with you — how do you want your blog to be better by the time we get to December 31, 2009?

*****

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall

Book Review: The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall


Description: The Music Teacher is a penetrating and richly entertaining look into the heart and mind of a woman who has failed both as an artist and as a wife. Barbara Hall, award-winning writer and producer of such hit television series as Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, tells the story of a violinist who has accepted the limitations of her talent and looks for the casual satisfaction of trying to instill her passion for music in others. She gets more than she bargains for, however, when a young girl named Hallie enters her life. For here at last is the real thing: someone with the talent and potential to be truly great. In her drive to shape this young girl into the artist the teacher could never be, she makes one terrible mistake. As a result she is forced to reevaluate her whole life and come to terms with her future.



I received The Music Teacher as an Advanced Reading Copy as part of LibraryThing Early Reviewers. This is the story of a woman named Pearl who teaches violon lessons in a music shop in LA after not making it professionally. Pearl focuses on one student, Hallie, who she feels has potential to be a prodigy. Hallie has a difficult home life and Pearl gets overly involved and makes mistakes in judgement that effect both of their futures. There are other characters in the book, mainly Pearls coworkers who are all floundering in life trying to find their way. I found the story a gritty, dark and sad representation of music teachers. The book wasn't about music as much as it was about how music relates to life and relationships. The story fell flat for me and I didn't find myself caring that much for Pearl or the characters in the book.

  • You can read other reviews with different perspectives including 5 star reviews of The Music Teacher at BookBrowse HERE.
  • You can read more about the author Barbara Hall HERE.
  • This book will be published in February 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: Raising A Successful Child:: Discover and Nurture Your Child's Talents


Raising a Successful Child:Discover and Nurture Your Child's Talents by Sandra Burt and Linda Perlis

(Hosts of Parents' Perspective Radio Show)

Description: This book is based on the belief that all children have talent and potential — and so do all parents. To the familiar four talents that most parents try to bring out in their children — artistic, musical, athletic, and academic — Raising a Successful Child adds six more: empathic listening, idea generation, natural leadership, natural comic ability, spatial aptitude, and negotiation skills.

The authors teach parents how children function so the parents themselves can identify their children's strengths. The activities and exercises guide parents on a journey that leads to discovering each child's many innate talents. Raising a Successful Child shows parents how to support their children's interests and nurture their strengths while opening them to new experiences and avoiding unhealthy parental pressure.



This is a book that I received from Mini Book Expo and Ulysses Press . I was interested in reading this book as a parent of a 10 year old child and was hoping to learn a thing or two. Raising a Successful Child is a book that is presented in a simple format that is parent friendly and filled with good advice and suggestions. To get the most out of the book, the authors explain in the introduction that the first 3 chapters give a foundation for the rest of the book. It is a good idea to read those chapters first. Then the other chapters are arranged by subjects and can be read in any order as the subject applies to your needs at the time. Each chapter then has an "In Short" section that gives helpful ideas that apply to that subject. Some of the subjects the authors address are: Alone time and Creativity, Learning Tools, Teamwork, Partnership between Parent and School, Overscheduling Activities, Teamwork, Value of Family and More. There is also an appendix of resources and a significant Bibliography to reference at the end of the book. This book would be a good resource to new parents and parents of young school aged children. For me, I didn't find that much new information in this book. It could be that because my child is older I have already dealt with some of the issues addressed. Also, I found that some things didn't apply to my family. The nice thing about this book is that it does have chapters on different subjects that you can refer to as they apply to your child and family situation. I did like the positive attitude and ideas that it reminded parents to think about. The authors encourage being a nurturing parent and that this would empower your child to be successful. They remind parents that we grow and learn from our mistakes and should try to enjoy the adventure of parenting!




The authors, Sandra Burt and Linda Perlis are the producers and hosts of the award-winning weekly radio program, Parents’ Perspective, interviewing guest experts on a different child rearing issue each week. You can find more information about the authors and their radio program at their website Parents' Perspective.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mailbox Monday


Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I haven't had a chance to post my Mailbox for a few weeks so I will post some of the books that I have received most recently. It's been like Christmas here with books coming in the mail this month. My wonderful husband swears I get a book a day delivered but that's exaggerating just a wee bit!! I tend to get more reading in during the winter and look forward to catching up on my books.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (I actually received 2 copies of this book. One from Library Thing Early Reviewer's and the other must have come directly from the publisher Random House.

Curse of the Bone Pirates by B. T. Hope (from FRN )

The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty (I got this too late to read for the Author Discussion from Book Club Girl )

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin Books)

Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper (Penguin Books)

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon (Penguin Books)

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (From Hachette Books)

Confetti Cakes for Kids by Elisa Strauss (From Hachette Books)

*I should also add that my Secret Santa from the Book Bloggers Christmas Swap sent me an Amazon.com gift card and I am going to have lots of fun shopping for books.

To check out more Mailbox Monday posts, go to The Printed Page for links!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: Finding Father Christmas & Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn














Robin Jones Gunn's Father Christmas Series are wonderfully charming novella's. There are currently two books in the series and they are both cozy and warm stories that are perfect reading for the Christmas season. I hope that the author will continue this series as I look forward to reading more Father Christmas Books.


The author shares on her website in The Story Behind the Story, that she "....realized the book was going to be about belonging. What sweeter gift is there for any woman at any stage of life than to discover the place and the people to whom she belongs?"

Finding Father Christmas (Father Christmas Series #1)

Description: Miranda Carson's search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in London with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn't recognize her, and whom she's quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can't bear to leave.

This is the first book in the Father Christmas series. I would highly recommend starting with this one as they are important to read in order to follow the events of the story. This first book, starts off with Miranda's search for her father which takes her from the US to England during Christmas. She finds herself in a cozy tea shop called The Tea Cosy which is just the kind of place I would imagine visiting in England. She finds new friends and the truth that she has been searching for.


You can read an excerpt of the book and find a reading guide HERE.



Engaging Father Christmas (Father Christmas Series #2)

Description: Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.


In this follow up to Finding Father Christmas, Miranda returns to England for Christmas with a new boyfriend and a new extended family. A twist of events makes Miranda question everything that she has learned to appreciate. Both books tie into the true meaning of Christmas and are uplifting stories of the peace and grace that the spirit of Christmas can bring. Miranda may not have found her true birth father but she did find the true Father of Christmas which is a blessing that we can all find.


You can read an excerpt of this book, HERE.

Check out Robin Jones Gunn website for more information and The Story behind the Story of writing these wonderful novellas as well as listening to an excerpt read by the author.


*Thanks to Miriam from Hachettte Books for sending me these books.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review: Run by Ann Patchett


Run by Ann Patchett

Description: Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive and ambitious father. As the former Mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children, all his children, safe.

Set over a period of 24 hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from one another, and how family can include people you've never even met.

Run by Ann Patchett was the selection for my book club this month. It was a great book to discuss with a book club as there are so many layers to the story to discuss. The story emphasizes the point that the events in a single day can change your life completely. There are many themes to this book...political issues of race, class and family. It is the kind of book that can take on many perspectives from the readers standpoint. Many of my friends in my book club felt this was a political book, others felt it was more focused on family. I found it to be a blend of the two.

To me, it made me think about the definition of family and what it means to each person can be quite different. Is a family by definition, only those who are related by blood? I think that there is so much more to being a family than shared bloodlines. I have both a brother and a half-brother. I am closer to my half-brother and we didn't grow up together for most of our childhood. We have a bond and closeness that I do not share with my full brother who I grew up with. There are many factors and events that may have affected that but I find it interesting that my connection to my half-brother runs so much deeper. In this story, a white family (Bernadette, Doyle and Sullivan) adopt two young african american boys, Tip and Teddy. I found it refreshing to read how the issue of race in this family made no difference in their choice of adoption and the way they raised the boys. They loved them unconditionally as if they were their own children by birth. Sadly, Bernadette dies shortly after and this effects them all in many ways. Their biological son, Sullivan, was more effected by the adoption as he was an only child and the focus shifted away from him after the boys were adopted. He also had to deal with the death of his mother and it appears to me that this effected him deeply and changed the course of his life tremendously. There is a theme throughout the book that relates to the importance of motherhood and how that loss can effect a child and family.

There are other characters in the book that make a direct impact to the story as well. Uncle Sullivan, the namesake of the biological son, Sullivan. Who has an intense bond to Teddy. Tennessee Moser a mysterious woman whose quick act of bravery will impact the lives of all of the characters in the story. Kenya is Tennessee's daughter who has an incredible maturity for an 11 year old girl and an olympic size ability to run.

The theme of politics dominates the book as this is the path that the father, has chosen as his role as a past mayor and would like his sons to pursue. He exposes them to many political experiences and speaking events and it is not a path that the boys are interested in pursuing. There was a suttle tie in to current political events with a sign posted in a window that caught my attention when reading the book. I found the explanation by the author in her On Air Show with Book Club Girl very interesting. You can listen to this wonderful conversation with Jennifer from Book Club Girl and the author Ann Patchett, HERE.

I believe that the title of the book, Run, reflects the idea that all of the characters are running from something. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read the book by saying more. I will tell that you should definitely read this book to uncover the meaning behind the title.

This was the second book that I have read by Ann Patchett. The first was Truth and Beauty which is a non-fiction book, a memoir of Patchett's friendship with Autobiography of a Face author Lucy Grealy. This book was a testament of the depth and beauty of their friendship even when life can bring such pain and agony. I read it a few years ago, before I started my blog, so I do not have a review here. I have Bel Canto and Patron Saint of Liars on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I look forward to reading more of Patchett's books.

You can read A Conversation with Ann Patchett from the back of the book, at this link HERE.

HERE is an Author Interview with Ann Patchett.

You can also visit Ann Patchett's Website.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Giveaway of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin!!


Joshua Henkin has graciously offered to send an autographed and inscribed copy of his New York Times Notable Book, Matrimony to anywhere in the world!! Matrimony would be a great gift for the holidays, a great book for yourself or a book club selection. Joshua Henkin is available to participate in book group discussions which, in my opinion, as a member of a book club would be an awesome experience. Check out this guest post he wrote about visiting book groups HERE.

There is also a Reading Groups Guide and video trailer of Joshua talking about the book.

Here are some of the many book blogger reviews about Matrimony for you to check out:

The Literate Housewife
The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
She is Too Fond of Books
Age 30 - A Year of Books
Books and Cooks
Reading Room
Bookfoolery and Babble
A Reader's Journal
B&B Ex Libris
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Shelf Life
The Boston Bibliophile
Trish's Reading Nook
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Fresh Ink Books

To Enter: Please post a comment and make sure that I have a way to contact you by email or through your blog/profile. I will use Random.org to draw a winner and the contest will run through December 21st Midnight EST. This contest is open worldwide!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Review: The Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan and Hazel Cole Kendle



Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan and Hazel Cole Kendle

Description: This amazing year, the nine children in the Cole family have been allowed to sit down with the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue to choose the gift they would most like to receive for Christmas. This is a rare event, for the Coles are not wealthy. Indeed, "Cole Family Christmas" is the true, tender, and wholly unforgettable tale of a coal miner's family. The story takes place in the small company town of Benham, Kentucky, in a time (1920) and place when coal was king and families made their precarious living mining the dirty and sometimes deadly coal.When one of Mama's few possessions, a treasured purple glass bowl with fluted edges, is accidentally broken by exuberant children rushing in from the outdoors, and an unlikely blizzard prevents Papa from coming home after working extra hours at the coal mine on Christmas Eve, the stage is set for a Christmas morning in which gifts are given and received that no one could have predicted.


This is a heart-warming Christmas story based on a true story of a real family living in the Appalachian coal country during the 1920's. Hazel, is the 88-year-old co-author of the book and the youngest of nine children in the story. Jennifer Liu Bryan is the granddaughter-in-law of Hazel Cole Kendle. This story, follows a very special Christmas when the Cole children are allowed to ask Santa for gifts from the Sears catalogue wish book. An unexpected snowstorm changes things for the family. Instead, they cherish a very special holiday in which the gifts they give and receive have such special meaning that the store bought gifts lose their significance. This special and very unexpected Christmas morning has lived on as a treasured family story and is shared with the world in Cole Family Christmas.

This book is geared towards children ages 9 to 12 years old. I found that it is suitable for adults as well as I enjoyed reading the book with my 10 year old son. The book is made up of 9 short chapters and is 74 pages in length and is designed for family read-a-louds for all ages. The illustrations by Jennifer Julich enhance the reading experience of this book. They are beautifully illustrated with vibrant colors and details. I especially enjoyed the "six vintage Christmas-themed fabrics featured on the borders" that reflected Mama Cole's quilts!

You can find more information about this book at The Cole Family Christmas Website HERE.

Thanks to Lisa Roe from Online Publicist for the opportunity to review this wonderful Christmas Treasure.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guest Post: Julie Gabriel , Author of The Green Beauty Guide


How to Find Winter Skin’s Rescue without Breaking the Bank
By Julie Gabriel
Author of THE GREEN BEAUTY GUIDE:Your Essential Resource into Organic and Natural Skincare, Hair Care, Makeup and Fragrances



The Green Beauty Guide took me three years to complete, from start to finish; it took me fifteen years to get rid of acne; it took me just one winter on a budget to sum up the most efficient, money- and time-wise, skincare routine for sallow, pale, winter-weary skin.

Here are ten amazing green basic ingredients that cost cents to obtain yet can make million dollar difference in your skin condition this winter.

1. Olive oil: massaged into dry, parchment-like hands and especially cuticles; used to saturate cotton wool balls and wipe off makeup; to massage itchy, dry skin all over the body; to layer under your moisturizer for an extra dose of antioxidants and good fatty acids.

2. Sugar: makes a lightweight body scrub, essential to achieve that holiday glow naturally. Simply mix with olive oil and rub using light circular motions.

3. Castile soap: liquid olive oil soap is very low in skin irritants and can replace a shampoo and even facial cleanser for sensitive skins.

4. Potatoes: use the lack of sunshine during the winter time to naturally lighten skin discolorations using raw potato puree which is rich in vitamin C and naturally whitening enzymes. You can place potato wedges under your eyes to combat dark eye circles - great post-party remedy!

5. Yogurt, especially plain Greek variety, makes an excellent cleanser with mild exfoliating action. It’s very safe for the most delicate of skins.

6. Honey is a time-tested cure for chapped, cracked lips. Apply organic honey in the evening to wake up to smooth, yummy lips.

7. Egg yolks can be massaged into wet hair to strengthen the scalp and prevent hair loss.

8. Sea salt mixed with plain filtered water (1 tablespoon per 3 oz) makes a great styling mist for hat hair. Lightly spray the sea salt solution over dry hair and work it well under hand dryer - but avoid very hot air that can damage your hair!

9. Pale peach loose mineral shimmer added to your regular face cream can enliven the most sallow, dull complexion. Choose the shimmer that is free from bismuth oxychloride and silica.

10. Diet rich in magnesium, essential fatty acids, vitamin C and beta-carotene naturally feeds your skin from inside, so feel free to indulge in dark chocolate, salmon and other fatty fish (ideally, organic), oranges, mango and carrots.

*Thank you to Julie for graciously offering to write a guest post on Winter-Friendly Recipes. I hope that everyone tries one of these great tips.
I tried using the Honey for chapped lips. My son notoriously suffers with chapped lips every winter. I applied honey to his lips at bedtime last night and he awoke to a less reddened area on his skin. He tends to chap the skin above his lips so that may take another application to resolve. His lips were definitely improved!

Make sure to visit the TLC Book Tour stop from yesterday featuring Julie's book, The Green Beauty Guide. You can read my review, and enter the Giveaway contest to win a copy of the book. Check out the details HERE.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Green Beauty Guide Book Tour Plus a Giveaway too!


The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel

Description:

Go green and get gorgeous

The promise of beauty is as close as the drugstore aisle—shampoo that gives your hair more body, lotions that smooth away wrinkles, makeup that makes your skin look flawless, and potions that take it all off again. But while conventional products say they'll make you more beautiful, they contain toxins and preservatives that are both bad for the environment and bad for your body—including synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, and even formaldehyde. In the end, they damage your natural vitality and good looks.

Fortunately, fashion writer, nutritionist, and beauty maven Julie Gabriel helps you find the true path to natural, healthy, green beauty. She helps you decipher labels on every cosmetic product you pick up and avoid toxic and damaging chemicals with her detailed Toxic Ingredients List. You'll learn valuable tips on what your skin really needs to be healthy, glowing, and youthful.

Julie goes one-step further—and shows you how to make your own beauty products that feed your skin, save your bank account, and are healthy for your body and the environment, such as:

• Cleansing creams and oils • toners • facials • under eye circle remedies • anti-aging serums • lip balms • scrubs • exfoliators • clay and cleansing masks• moisturizers • acne treatments • makeup remover • teeth whiteners • shampoos, conditioners • fragrances • sun protection • bug repellants • baby products • and much more!


With her friendly, thorough, and helpful advice; fabulous beauty recipes; product recommendations and ratings; Toxic Ingredients List; and a complete appendix of online resources, Julie Gabriel gives you all the information you need to go green without going broke and become a more natural, healthy, and beautiful you.

I am thrilled to be hosting a book tour for Julie Gabriel's book The Green Beauty Guide from TLC Book Tours. I have been consciously working on changing my cleaning products to more greener and safer products. I am also attempting to change our food choices to more healthier, organic foods. It's a challenge to make changes and for me, it is small changes, one step at a time. My son has food allergies and I have learned a lot over the years about checking ingredients to make sure that foods are safe for him. I have realized that there are so many unnecessary additives and preservatives that are added to make these products last longer on our shelves. I have often wondered if the extra shelf life these products provide for our convenience is worth the health risks we may be exposing ourselves and our children to. I was excited to be part of this tour and read Julie Gabriels book to learn more about Green Beauty products. Ms. Gabriel emphasizes in The Green Beauty Guide, that what we put on our skin is just as important as what we eat as it is absorbed by our skin and we shouldn't put anything on our skin that we wouldn't be able to safely eat.

The Green Beauty Guide is chock full of wonderful information to help you choose safe, organic and natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup and Fragrances. I believe it is a must-have resource for anyone interested in learning about going green and choosing safe products for your body from head to toe. Not only do you learn why you should choose safer products, but you learn how to do this. This Guide is thorough and jam packed with detailed information and it includes 12 pages of references.

I appreciated that Ms. Gabriel goes into such great detail and thorough explanations in each chapter. Especially early on in the book where she describes the specific ingredients that are in most beauty products that are toxic and unsafe. One study the author refers to found that about 90 percent of cosmetic ingredients have not been analyzed for their health impacts. I went to my cabinets to check my own beauty products and found that most of my products contained many of these offending ingredients. Even products that I "thought" were more natural had some toxic ingredients. Ms. Gabriel writes that even products labeled organic and natural may still contain toxic ingredients or byproducts. That is another reason why this book is so important...it is a reference and guide that you can look back on and check these important details as you shop for beauty products.

Ms. Gabriel recommends that if you start with only one organic beauty product, that it should be your moisturizer. She explains that moisturizer stays on your face the longest and that would mean that your body is absorbing what is in the product that you choose to use. In a sidebar, the author points out that the skin can absorb up to 60 percent of substances applied to its surface. You can also develop allergies to cosmetic products. The toxic ingredients can worsen your acne or cause allergic reactions that look like acne or pimples. There is concern that the toxic ingredients may also lead to other serious diseases.

There is a green leaf product guide that rates products and takes into account more economical choices and products that may be more readily available in some grocery and drug stores. Not only does Ms. Gabriel give examples and names of specific products that she recommends, she also gives many recipes to make your own beauty products! She also gives simple tips and techniques to solve skin troubles using foods and products that you may have right in your own home or are easy to get. Personally, I am looking forward to trying some of her home facial routines and green solutions for dark circles under my eyes. I learned what causes my dark circles and plan to try some recommended techniques that are natural and easy to incorporate into my life.

Yes, some of the products are quite expensive but there are other options that are more economical. Ms. Gabriel understands that not everyone can afford the expensive options so she is very thorough in providing alternatives. She includes product recommendations as well as many recipes for things such as lip balms, sugar scrubs, facial masks, acne zappers, baby wash and wipe solution, bath salts, bug repellant and more.

For me, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a thorough book that will help you transition to more greener, safer beauty products. I know that I will be referring to this often as I choose my own personal beauty products and routines to make it more safer and green. I will also use this information for my whole family as well. This information is not only for women but for men, babies and children. We all use soap, shampoo, moisturizer and many other things that are important to be safe products for us all.



***

About the Author: Julie Gabriel


Julie Gabriel is a passionate advocate of green lifestyle, a holistic nutritionist, and a new mom of a 18-month-old Maria. A professional journalist and former magazine beauty editor, Julie pursued her lifelong dream and have studied at Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Toronto to become a Holistic Nutritionist. As a Canadian living in the UK, Julie has a deep knowledge of environmental issues both in Europe and in North America. To help new moms save time and money, Julie has launched her own skincare line for mom and baby, Petite Marie Organics. Formulated exclusively with certified organic plant ingredients, all multipurpose products can be used by mothers and babies thus helping moms jump-start green living on a budget. The products, So Pure You Can Eat Them®, are freshly handmade, and every ingredient is scientifically proven to be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Petite Marie Organics mom-and-baby skincare products are available online at petitemarieorganics.com, and in fine health food stores in the UK, the US and Canada since January 2o09.

Be sure to check out Ms. Gabriels website The Green Beauty Guide for even more information.
She shares more tips and tricks, recipes, product reviews and even features Green Beauty Makeovers.

You can purchase your own copy of The Green Beauty Guide HERE. I must add that I believe that the list price for this book at $16.95 is an amazing value for this HUGE book of 400 pages with a wealth of information.

If you would like to visit other stops on the booktour, you may find them here.

This is the Tour schedule for this week:

Monday, December 8th: Red Lady’s Reading Room

Monday, December 8th: She is Too Fond of Books

Tuesday, December 9th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Wednesday, December 10th: Bookopolis (will also be posted as
a Guest Review at Books on the Brain)

Thursday, December 11th: B & B ex libris

***GIVEAWAY***
I have great news to share with you!!! I was fortunate enough to receive 2 copies of this book from the publisher. I couldn't bear to part with my copy so I am happy to say that I am able to give away a copy of The Greeen Beauty Guide to one very lucky reader!!

Here are the details to enter the giveaway for a chance to win this book:
  • For one entry: Leave a post and comment about this review.

  • For a second entry: Comment about a favorite green beauty product that you use or would like to try.

  • For a third entry: Go to Ms. Gabriel's website The Green Beauty Guide and share something that you found helpful and/or interesting.

Please make sure that you post your email or there is a way for me to contact you via email through your blog/contact info. Otherwise, I cannot enter your name into the drawing. I will use random.org to pick a winner of the book.

This giveaway is open to US and Canada only(Due to the high cost of US postage) apologies to my overseas readers. This will be open through December 13th, Midnight, EST.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Book Giveaway: The American Journey of Barack Obama


The American Journey of Barack Obama
by the editors of LIFE Magazine.

Description: The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.

In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.

This is a beautiful book that is chock full of pictures from past to present and it includes wonderful information about our soon to be 44th President of the United States. This book would make a wonderful Keepsake for a personal Collection, Coffee Table Book or Gift book.

Hachette Books has graciously offered a copy of The American Journey of Barack Obama to give away.

To Enter:
  • For One Entry: Leave a comment on this post and please make sure that I have a way to contact you via email.

  • For an additional Two entries: Spread the word about this giveaway and add a link to this post on your blog.

**The Giveaway will end December 6th, Midnight EST.


Hachette will be mailing out the book directly to the winner. This giveaway is open to residents of the US or Canada--no PO Boxes please.


*THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED*

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page . We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. My mailbox was not that full last week and I only received one book. That's actually a good thing as I have so many books TBR that it will give me a little break. Here's what I received:
*Seeing Venice by Mark Doty from Getty Publications

What books came into your house last week? To check out more Mailbox Monday posts, go to The Printed Page for links!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Guest Book Review: Guernica

*Guest Review written by my friend Bonnie Findlay.*

Guernica by Dave Boling

Publishers Weekly: Examining the Spanish Civil War and the town that was famously firebombed by the Germans on the eve of WWII, this multigenerational family saga begins with the three abandoned Ansotegui boys, struggling to survive on the family farm at the end of the 19th century; younger brothers Josepe and Xabier become a fisherman and a priest, respectively, while the eldest, Justo, marries and raises a stunning daughter named Miren. Charismatic, beautiful and the best jota dancer around, Miren attracts the attention of Miguel Navarro, who winds up moving them to ill-fated Guernica after a run-in with the Spanish Civil Guard. Meanwhile, in nearby Bilbao, Father Xabier waxes political with real-life future Basque president José Antonio Aguirre, striking up an invaluable friendship. Boling's portrait of the Guernica tragedy is vivid, as is his illustration of the Basque people's oppression; wisely, he sidesteps elaborate political explanations that could slow the family drama. Boling is skillful with characters and dialogue, possessing a great sense of timing and humor, though some historical cameos feel forced (especially Picasso, who pops up throughout), and some plot twists can be seen from quite a long way off.



Bonnie Findlay's Review-

"The painting which I am presently working on will be called "Guernica". By means of it, I express my abhorrence of the race that has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death." -Pablo Picasso

I had mixed opinions about this book. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, but it was hard to get into this book at first. It was hard for me to relate to mostly male characters who had rough and tumble adventures, as well as switching the point of view to different characters with hard names to read and pronounce.

But at about page 200, I knew the characters fairly well...then the author wrote of the infamous bombing of Guernica and with horror I read his vivid, descriptive accounts of what happened to the town and some of the townspeople I had gotten to know, and the book came alive and was enthralling. His descriptions of the bombs and what they did-to people as well as buildings-reminded me of the movie "The Day After". I actually found myself getting choked up as I read of the destruction and death the bombing caused-and this actually happened in real life! I sympathized with the characters who survived and had to go on dealing with so much loss and sorrow. The three brothers and Miguel each dealt with their sorrow in their own ways.

I don't totally agree with the Publisher's Weekly review about forced historical cameos-Picasso made a painting of the bombing of Guernica that to me, fit right in with the story. After reading about the painting, I was curious enough to look up a picture of it online, which made the story all the more real for me. I DO agree with the Publisher's Weekly review about some plot twists that can be seen from a long way off-I did see one coming, but that was OK, because I didn't know HOW the author would make it all come together. I was glad to know there'd be a bit of happiness for the main characters at some point in the book.

This book did not have a happy ending realistically, but it did have a happy ending of sorts for the main characters. This book was not totally my style but for the most part it was a good read. In my opinion, this would be a book men might enjoy more than women. There are many adventures and predicaments the male characters get themselves into-the book at times reads like an adventure movie. This book got me curious enough to look up more info about the town of Guernica. It was a very sad event in European history. -Bonnie Findlay

*I want to thank my friend Bonnie Findlay for her wonderful review. This is her second review here and I enjoy having guest reviewers who can share different views and opinions. I didn't know about the background of Guernica and it was interesting to read about and you definitely need to check out the Picasso Painting, HERE!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Build-A-Bear Nintendo Wii Game Giveaway and Ebay Celebrity Auction !! EXTENDED THRU DEC 6th!!

**GIVEAWAY EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 6TH....ENTER NOW!**


I am excited to share with you that I am hosting an awesome giveaway and one lucky winner will win a Build-A-Bear Nintendo Wii Game from The Game Factory. This would make a wonderful Christmas/Hanukah/Birthday gift for any young child.

Build-A-Bear Workshop® A Friend Fur All Seasons

An interactive family-friendly experience, Build-A-Bear Workshop® A Friend Fur All Seasons allows families to share the interactive Build-A-Bear Workshop® experience using the Nintendo Wii™ system. Originally made for Nintendo DS, Build-A-Bear Workshop® entertainment experience allows up to four players to name, groom, feed and dress their bear using the revolutionary Wii™ remote. The game allows players to join their customized bear on adventures to explore islands, meet inhabitants and help furry friends.

Build-A-Bear Workshop® A Friend Fur All Seasons allows full interaction between the player and her/his furry friend in a variety of 20 fun mini-games, from throwing Frisbees to ice-skating. Four islands season-themed wait to be explored and six treasure spots hold magical chests! Developed for children and families, Build-A-Bear Workshop® packs fun for the whole family and allows players to take full advantage of the unique features of the Nintendo Wii™ game system.

Category: Adventure
Target Age: 3+
Players: 1-4
Rating: E for Everyone
Price: $39.99

*This game was just released in October 2008.

Key Features:

  • 2 different game modes! Discover and explore the 4 season-themed islands in the Adventure mode and play lots of fun mini-games in the Playground mode.
  • 20 fun mini-games to play including ice skating, build a snowman, a croquet party, a cool ride on a ladybug, throwing a Frisbee, and jumping on a jump stick. Some of the mini-games contain surprises too.
  • Play the mini-games as single or multiplayer party games (co-op) with up to 4 players – it’s fun for the whole family!
  • Find the 6 secret treasure spots hidden around the islands and dig up a magic chest with a surprise just for you!
  • Collect bear medals, other rewards and items to use in the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Choose from more than 80 items available to buy for your furry friend!
  • Natural and innovative game play that take full advantage of the unique features of the Nintendo Wii.

You can view a trailer for the game at The Game Factory .

*This game can be purchased at Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, Gamespot and most other game retailers.

Ebay Celebrity Auction of celebrity-built Build-A-Bear Workshop bears!!

Ebay is auctioning off celebrity-built Build-A-Bear Workshop bears, along with autographed copies of the Build-A-Bear Wii game. These bears and signed games will be on eBay's Giving Works to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California. These one-of-a-kind bears were built by celebrities like Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott, the Jonas Brothers, James Gandolfini, Melissa Joan Hart, Bonnie Hunt, Mitchel Musso, Meaghan Jette Martin and more.

Here's a link to Ebay where the auctions are taking place just you can see what the bears look like and bid on a bear as well. The auctions end December 3rd so be sure to check this out now. They're all very cute and creative! Here are a few bears being auctioned off below:









*This bear was made by Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers!















*This bear was made by Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers and comes with an autographed copy of the new Build-A-Bear Wii game.











*This bear was made by Allie Grant (Isabelle Hodes from Weeds) and comes with an autographed copy of the new Build-A-Bear Wii game.









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GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

One Lucky winner will receive one Build-A-Bear Nintendo Wii Game from The Game Factory. To Enter:

  • For One Entry: Comment below and make sure that I have a way to contact you via email, otherwise I cannot add your name into the drawing.
  • For another Entry: Go to the Ebay auction site here and take a look at the bears and let us know which ones you like. Please, check out the Ebay site and not just comment on the 3 Bears that I posted pictures of above.
  • For two additional Entries: Spread the word about this Giveaway and link back here to my giveaway post. Please post the link to your post in a seperate comment.

**This giveaway will end December 6th at Midnight Eastern Time. I will use Random.org to pick a winner. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only. Game Factory will send out the game directly to the winner, hopefully in time for the Holidays.


*THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED*

Thanks To:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mailbox Monday



Happy Monday!! Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page . We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. Here's what I received:

From Paperbackswap :

What books came into your house last week? To check out more Mailbox Monday posts, go to The Printed Page for links!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Review & Giveaway: Purry Logic by Jane Seabrook


Purry Logic by Jane Seabrook


My Review: This is a delightful book that both children and adults will enjoy. I read this book with my 10 year old son who loves all animals, but sadly is allergic to many, including cats. He adores cats and we both loved the beautiful full-color illustrations of the 30 different cats that are featured in this wonderful book. The author, Jane Seabrook, wrote and illustrated the book. She captured perfectly, the adorable expressions and positions that cats can get themselves into and express their unique personalities. These illustrations are complemented by matching quotes that are wonderful companions to the illustrations. Purry Logic is a beautifully bound medium sized hardcover book with rich colors. And, who cannot be pulled in by the adorable cat on the cover with those gorgeous blue eyes? This lovely book would make a wonderful gift for cat lovers as well as animal lovers. It would be a perfect stocking stuffer or hostess gift for the holidays. It is not a book about Christmas or the holidays at this time of year but stands alone in the category of Inspirational books that can be read year round. I like to display a collection of holiday books for different holidays and seasons and this is the type of book that complements my collection.


Here are some examples of the beautiful water color illustrations and quotes inside the book:


























































About the author from Ten Speed Press: "JANE SEABROOK is a designer and illustrator who, in recent years, has focused on paintings of wildlife. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband, two teenage children, and four cats--three adorable seal-point Birmans named Fizz, Bean, and Maisie, and one elderly British blue named Philby." She also has another collection of books called The Furry Logic Series which you can read about here at Ten Speed Press.




*Make sure to check out the Purry Logic Book Page at Ten Speed Press here.*


*****

Giveaway of Purry Logic:


*****


Ten Speed Press
has graciously offered to give away a copy of Purry Logic to one lucky winner! This would be a wonderful book for anyone and it would also make a wonderful holiday and/or hostess gift. To Enter: Please comment below and make sure that I have a way to contact you by email. This giveaway is only open to US Residents and ends on November 30th. This should allow enough time for the sponsor to ship the book to the winner for the holidays. I will choose a winner using random.org. The winner must respond to my email notification with their mailing address within 2 days or I will need to randomly choose another winner.





Thanks to:




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Knit Two:My Guest Review, Author Interview and Giveaway at Words to Mouth!!!

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs will be available on November 25th!

WIN:You have a chance to win one of FIVE copies that Carrie at Words to Mouth is giving away!!!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:You can also read a wonderful Interview with the author, Kate Jacobs as well.

GUEST REVIEW BY ME: In addition, I am a guest book reviewer there and you can read my review of Knit Two.




Here's a portion of my Guest Review for Knit Two by Kate Jacobs:

I was thrilled to hear that there would be a sequel to one of my favorite books, The Friday Night Knitting Club. Reading Knit Two felt like I was catching up with old friends. It was familiar and comfortable, and as you do with good friends, you pick up right where you left off. As with friends you may not see for awhile, some things do change. In Knit Two, time has passed and it has been 5 years since Georgia died. Dakota, her daughter, is now 18 years old and in college and struggling to find her way. She has the wonderful guidance of the Knitting Club to support her as well as her father, James. Actually, most of the characters are trying to find their way through issues in their lives. I believe, that is why it is so easy to connect to this story and it’s characters.


**There's much more so make sure to go to Words to Mouth to read the rest of my review and the wonderful interview with Kate Jacobs!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Testimony Video


Please check out this great video with Anita Shreve who discusses her newest novel Testimony. You can read my review of this wonderful book here as well as sign up for a chance to win my hardback copy in the giveaway that runs through this Friday, November 21st.


video



Monday, November 17, 2008

Mailbox Monday




Happy Monday!! Here’s what I found in my mailbox last week!








Raising a Successful Child: Discover and Nurture Your Child's Talents by Sandra Burt, Linda Perlis(Mini book expo & Ulysses Press)



When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift (This was sent to me from Bloomsbury. I love the cover art and the inside is filled with similar drawings. This looks like it will be a fun book to read)







Who by Fire by Diana Spechler (Book Club Girl, On Air Book Club discussion, November 20th)














(From the author, Check out my review andQ & A with the author here.)






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What books came into your house last week? To check out more Mailbox Monday posts, go to The Printed Page for links!