Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reads: Melting Into You by Tracey Alvarez

Melting Into You by Tracey Alvarez

Love small-town romance with an unforgettable cast of characters?

The Due South series will transport you to an unspoilt, wild island off the coast of New Zealand. 

Meet Kezia and Ben...

Big, sexy men who don’t relate well to kids need not apply…
Kezia Murphy plays her widow card well. When you don’t trust people not to let you down, it’s easier to not get involved—and getting involved with a man who makes her skin sizzle just by looking at him would be una pazzia—crazy! Four years ago while Kezia’s daughter, Zoe, battled leukaemia, a tragic accident stole her husband’s life. Starting over in the little town of Oban where she’s adopted into the close knit community on Stewart Island, Kezia and her daughter are all the family the other needs. Except Zoe yearns for more.

New Zealand’s worst candidate for instant fatherhood…
Ben doesn’t do gooey emotional stuff. He doesn’t do cosy home and family. And he sure isn’t the big teddy-bear Kezia Murphy, the woman he secretly fantasises about, thinks he is. So when Jade, his surprise eight-year-old daughter arrives on his doorstep, he’s a D-minus student struggling to pass a crash-course in parenting.

They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…
When the sparks of attraction between Kezia and Ben fan into an inferno, Ben doesn’t know how much longer the layers of resistance around his heart can resist melting into the gooey mess he fears. 

The more he fights it the harder it is to make the choice that will destroy the family he now longs to claim.

And enough steaminess to make your toes curl!

My Review

If you know me, you'll know that I *love* romance novels! So when I picked up Melting Into You, I was pumped to read it since I haven't been doing as much reading as I used to lately. But I was glad I did!
Besides the storyline being easy to follow, even if you haven't read the previous book (which I hadn't, but now will!), the writing is great! I was surprised to see that this is only the authors second published book - she writes like some of my favorite authors that have been writing for decades!
The characters are really well developed and you are given an instant picture of each of them in your head, and know right away whether you'll like them or not. Secondary characters too!
The story itself  is a great read too - it ventures into romance novel territory without being too unrealistic or making the characters seem stupid. Adding kids to the storyline makes it more complicated, and I found the author handled that situation really well!
All in all it was a great read and I will definitely be following Tracey Alvarez, the author, now and look forward to her future books!- The next one is due out later this year :)

You can check out the book on Amazon here and read more about her here on her website!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Giveaway! Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum

I will be turning 30 this year - yes that big birthday that every 20 year old never thinks will come! - and I must say that I'm pretty happy with where I am! My skin however, is a different story! 10 years ago I could eat junk like crazy, bathe in the sun, give my face a little scrub in the shower every morning and still have that wonderful, youthful glow! *sigh*
I have noticed especially since my last pregnancy that my skin just seems dull - its losing its firmness and plumpness, and getting a little bit drier.

 I've read so much about vitamin C being such a powerful antioxidant, even when applied topically! According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin C helps in the production of collagen - a process that is slowed as you age. Collagen gives your skin that firm, full look we all only notice we don't have once it's gone ;) Vitamin C also helps repair damage caused by free radicals - outside forces that damage your DNA and can speed up the aging process - not something anybody wants!

So besides getting my daily fill via orange juice, I thought it could be neat to try and see if applying it directly to my skin could bring any benefits! Azure Naturals sent me a bottle of their Ultimate Vitamin C Repair Serum to try out - here's a little bit about their product:

VITAMIN C WORKS!  Our serum will increase cellular renewal by boosting the production of collagen and elastin. Vitamin C, Ferulic Acid, and Vitamin E are all powerful anti-oxidants that when combined can provide up to eight-fold antioxidant protection, 96% reduction of sunburn cells, and prevent the formation of free radicals in sun exposed skin. Our serum is intentionally designed to be thin, but not greasy or watery. This is the optimal consistency for a Vitamin C serum and allows the potent ingredients to deeply penetrate your skin to repair sun and other environmental damage, while boosting production of new collagen and elastin.
ONE YEAR MONEY BACK GUARANTEE:  We are so confident that we have created the best Natural and Organic skin care products available we back all of our products by a 365-day, 100% Hassle-Free, Money Back Guarantee. If you don't absolutely love any of our products we will give you a full refund, including shipping, no matter where you buy the product!

I think what impressed me the most right away is that they offer a full year money-back guarantee! I have bought products in the past from companies who do offer the same thing, and when I'm not satisfied, yes! I return it! 
Something I was worried about however, was whether or not the serum would be too oily. While I notice my skin getting drier, it does occasonally still have a breakout, especially after pregnancy! But I was pleasantly surprised that the serum is not greasy at all and in fact, my skin was dry about 10 seconds after applying it - much like a gel would be.

After three days of using the serum, I noticed that my skin was softer and clear - the sides of my face near my hairline tend to get dry and they were definitely a lot softer - even without me using a misturizer! And my complexion just seemed nicer - my pores seemed more refined, and I has no breakouts! Yay!

I am definitely going to continue using the serum and see what further reslts it brings, but for now I am absolutely happy with what I've seen in the past 2 weeks! And I would love to give one of you a free bottle to experience the results for yourselves in the giveaway below!
Or, if you'd like to see the serum for yourselves, take a visit to their page here on Amazon : it's a great prie too - a lot cheaper than ones I've seen in the drug store! Just $19.95! They also have some other products available -

Just use the widget below to enter the giveaway and win a bottle for yourself! The givesaway is open to the USA and ends August 12th, 2014. 
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reads: The Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids


authorphotoMorganMossAuthor Bio: Morgan Moss is the creator of The Inklings of Life humor parenting blog (, which was named a Top 10 Mom Blog of 2013 by the parenting website VoiceBoks ( Many of her parenting and motherhood articles have been featured on sites such as the Huffington Post, Babble,, Mamapedia, Parent Society and She is a trained tattoo artist, and spends her free time creating mixed media art. 

Author Links - The link for any or all of the following… 

Book Genre: Nonfiction Parenting/ Humor Parenting
Publisher: Inklings Print
Release Date: October 17, 2013
Buy Link(s):

Book Description:

Motherhood is chaotic. Some days are filled with unicorns and fairy dust, and some days the unicorn craps on your brand new rug and the fairies are flying around, crashing into walls. Mainstream parenting books help with the unicorn and fairy dust days, but what happens when your kid drops the f-bomb in a crowded grocery store? That's where "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" comes into play, tackling situations in motherhood that you were definitely not warned about. Think of this book as your manual to the parenting problems that leave you throwing your hands up in the air, wondering if you are the only mom who goes through this craziness, and has you hiding in the back of your closet with a bottle of Moscato and a cheesecake (we've all been there). "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" includes: ~The myths that mainstream parenting books tell you, and how they don't apply to every mother. ~How to deal with temper tantrums from toddlers to tweens. ~How to "win" the various battles you will have with your children (like the Personal Hygiene Battle and the Clothing Battle) ~Tips on dealing with picky eaters and the difficult potty trainee. ~Helping build your tween's self esteem and creating a strong family unit. ~Motherly advice on parenting from birth until the tweenaged years (around 12 years old) ~Mom Competition, unplugging your kids, chores, peer pressure and more! Written by an unconventional, tattooed, colorful mother whose out-of-the-box parenting tips have proven successful for many families, regardless of parenting style, "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" weaves together helpful advice with humorous stories from the author's own trials and tribulations as a mom, as well as stories from other moms and dads on their own parenting journeys. So get the kids in bed, grab a glass of wine and something sweet from your hidden stash of goodies (we all have one of those, too), and crack open "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids". Your mom-sanity will thank you.


From Chapter 7: Fixing More Than Macaroni and Cheese

Myth #1: Fixing my kids what they want ensures that they are at least eating something. If I don’t fix them what they’ll eat, they’ll starve. 

Tatted Mom’s Truth #1: Your child will not starve themselves. I can 100% guarantee it. These are the same kids who make mud pies in the back yard and try them out to see what they taste like. They will not pass down a hot meal of seafood alfredo because the little shrimps look gross. They reason so many moms use this as an excuse is because they try for one meal to get their kids to branch out, and when it doesn’t work, they give up. Let the kids skip that meal. I promise you, they won’t skip the next one. And don’t go letting them have snacks after the dinner they refused to eat, either. That just reinforces the horrible eating habits. This whole picky eating thing is usually a test of wills with kids. They love macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, so they turn down everything else put in front of them until you feed them their favorite meal again, and they stick to it. The more you give in, the more they will take advantage of you.

Tips for Creating Healthy Eating Habits in Children

  1. Introduce your kids to the kitchen as soon as possible. Each of my kids was around the age of two when I had them actually help me prepare meals, but even before that, I’d put them in their high chair, give them a snack and pull the high chair into the kitchen while I prepared a meal with fresh meat and vegetables. I’ve always had my kids pick out meals for us, help cut vegetables, or even given them easy instructions for sauces. When they were too young for any of these options, I had them hand me things so I could cook. A toddler feels like king of the world when you say to him, “Hand Mommy that spoon right there, please,” and even if he hands you the salt, a random apple or the cat instead, he’s a big boy who helped his mom make dinner. Having the kids interact with the cooking process almost guarantees them to eat it, because their pride will kick in, as well as their curiosity. They’ll think, “I helped make this sauce, so I wonder if it sucks or not.” Plus, they’ll see that, despite the fact that those shrimp look like fat worms, no worms went into the making of the meal.
  2. Put the “Mom is eating something, I want a bite” quirk of motherhood to work for you. It never fails. As soon as you go to take a bite of your favorite cake or try and sneak a single M&M into your mouth as a mom, your child will appear out of nowhere and ask for a bite. I can remember one afternoon, when I was chopping up red peppers to go on a vegetable tray for a cookout we were going to, and as I popped a fresh red pepper slice into my mouth and started crunching away, The Girl, two at the time, appeared out of thin air and asked for a bite. I stared at the red pepper for a moment and thought there was no way she would eat it- two year olds didn’t eat fresh red peppers. But, I handed her one anyway, she took a bite, and happily trotted off with a smile on her face. No dressing on it, no salt, nothing, and the child ate it and returned for a second one. Nine years later she’s not a fan of red peppers anymore, but when I put a vegetable tray out for us to munch on, she’ll eat carrots, celery, raw broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. This concept worked at introducing my kids to sushi, too. Hubby and I love the stuff, so we would get some for just us and order the kids stir fry or their favorite Asian dish. Curiosity got the best of both of them, and soon they wanted to see why Hubby and I loved sushi so much. We let them try it, and they were hooked.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids” 

  1. 90% of it was written at my kitchen island. For some reason, I found it was much easier to stand in my kitchen and type away on my laptop. As a side note, a kitchen island is the perfect height to use for stretching out your legs, ballet-style. 
  1. The drawings for each chapter were done by my kids. My daughter and my son really wanted to be involved with my book, so I asked them to draw the pictures for each chapter and section. I couldn’t have asked for better stick figures. 
  1. The drawings on the cover of the book are mine. I told my book designer that I wanted the cover to look like a scribbled-on notebook, so she told me to provide the scribbles. Touche. 
  1. My editor told me I shouldn’t cuss in the book. I told my editor there was no chance in hell that I wasn’t cussing, but I did omit the f-words along the way to appease her. 
  1. My daughter read my book and then didn’t speak to me for 2 days. I share some behind-the-scenes parenting tactics I used to help me stay ahead of my kids, and she had no idea about them. When she read my sneaky methods of how I handled some of the parenting problems in the past, she wasn’t happy I had pulled one (or several) over on her. 
  1. My mom contributed a story for one of the Ink Spots sections about my sister and I. I wanted my mom involved, so I asked her to submit a parenting horror story, not even thinking about what that meant… 
  1. When I reached the goal I had set for myself on what I felt was an acceptable book length, I then became extremely terrified. I challenged myself to write the book, but that little negative voice in the back of my head kept telling me I wouldn’t have enough material for a full book. When I reached that goal, and realized I had just written a book, I knew publishing it and putting it out to the world was the next step, which is a very scary one.  
  1. The last two chapters were the hardest to write. I thought it would be hard to write about the early years of motherhood because I thought I would have forgotten a lot of it, but writing the last two chapters about the tweenaged years turned out to be the hardest because I was still going through it. 
  1. Chapter 6, “The Toilet Lock” was added in at the last minute. I remember reading about a childproofing problem on a mom forum when I was taking a break from writing one morning, and that jogged my memory about my strong opinions on childproofing. I knew I had to add it in, so I changed some things around to accommodate it. 
  1. I started writing the book years ago, but never got past the opening sentence. When I finally decided to sit down last year and organize everything into a book, I found a folder on my computer titled “Morgan’s Book.” It was dated 2011 and contained one sentence, which I ended up scrapping anyway. I guess it just wasn’t the time for it, because this time around, it took me about 4 months to write it from start to finish.



Signed paperback of A Tatted Mom's Guide To NOT Screwing Up Your Kids

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reads: Stains on the Soul by Jamie White

Book Genre: Paranormal/New Age

Publisher: Pagan Writers Press

Release Date: November 27, 2013

Buy Link(s): Amazon

Book Description: It’s her last summer before going away to college and Fiona finds herself facing more than she bargained for: A boyfriend she doesn’t want who has a strange hold over her, a friend pushing her to expand her boundaries, and a new guy named Ted whose presence is more than a distraction. 

If that isn’t enough, Fiona is being haunted with horrifying nightmares of burning at the stake—nightmares so real, she feels as though she’s losing her mid. 

Are they only dreams, or are they trying to warn her about this new guy she can’t help but want?

Author Bio: Short Bio: Jamie White is a music addict, book lover, pet servant & NaNoWriMo survivor. When she's not busy writing posts for CultureShock, she's taking pictures for her photo blog and spending time with her husband and pets. She released Stains on the Soul and Clutter via Pagan Writers Press in 2013.

Long Bio: Jamie White is an author, blogger, photo geek, music addict, editor, pop culture geek, paranormal junkie, and a pet servant. 

She spent more than a decade as a Journalism student, geeking out over Pagemaker, layout design, and other stuff. 

In college, she took it a step further and became the only student to be on all three of her college's publications, serving as Editor-In-Chief for two of them. Later, she went on to freelance writing and blogging. 

Jamie began her journey into fiction writing in 2010 after joining a writing group. Since that first meeting, she has completed a bunch of short stories, five manuscripts, and several in progress. Her first novel, The Life and Times of No One In Particular, was released in 2012. She followed it up with a story in the Lyrical Muse Anthology in 2013. The end of 2013 will see two releases with Pagan Writers Press.

When Jamie's not writing or blogging, she takes pictures, meditates, practices Reiki and chanting, watches favorite shows/movies, takes walks, and serves as a volunteer for the Florida Writers Association by running their social media and a writing group (Gulfstream Writers).

Monday, July 14, 2014

House of Botori Diaper Bag Review

When our second daughter was born, I knew I was going to have to invest in a good diaper bag. Having 2 in diapers means having to carry a lot - 2 different sets of diapers, 2 sets of extra clothes, bottles, baby food, snacks, books, baby rattles - and that's just a trip to Cosco! A few months ago I had bought a very big diaper bag which I love, but it is super inconvenient and heavy, especially when I'm just running into a store when my husband and kids wait outside, or if we're at the mall and I want to go into a tiny store - watch out!

So I was so excited when House of Botori offered me a diaper bag in exchange for my honest review! Their bags are gorgeous and looked great online! Here's mine, the Ginika Tote:

When I first got it, I instantly loved how it looks soft like a purse, but is really washable - like you can take  a cloth and wipe it! I was also surprised to see all the accessories that came with it!

It had a changing pad, bottle holder, a shoulder strap, mini purse, and 2 plastic bags which are great for soiled clothes! It also had stroller straps - it attaches right to the stroller!

Inside the purse was great - it has tons of pockets, plus bottle holders. It also has plenty of room for all the essentials you need for one baby for a days outing!

House of Botori also offers some other great options in stylish diaper bags! Just take a look!
AND - the best part? You have a chance to win one for yourself in a giveaway! House of Botori is offering one of my readers a chance to win one of their gorgeous diaper bags! Just enter here! (July 2014)

Designer Diaper Bag Giveaway: House of Botori

Welcome to the House of Botori Diaper Bag Giveaway!

This great giveaway is for one Ginika Tote Diaper Bag by House of Botori.
It is a gorgeous, wipeable diaper bag full of great accessories, including a changing pad, bottle holder, clothing bags, change purse, long shoulder strap and stroller straps!

This giveaway is open to the USA. Giveaway runs from July 4th - 31st.
By entering, you are agreeing to receive updates via e-mail from House of Botori (first entry on giveaway widget)
WInner will be e-mailed in August 1st and have 24 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.
Good luck all!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reads: Counterfeit Youth by Narbeh Avanessian

What does the man who has everything want? The answer is simple: for it to never end. Jackson Riley is a young billionaire living in the year 2052 with a single obsession - to discover immortality within his lifetime. But what happens when this obsession tears him apart from reality and his one true love Nicole? And why have untraceable special agents taken an interest in his medical experiments? Counterfeit Youth is an emotionally charged sci-fi thriller that explores the concept of happiness, and what it means to live forever. - See more at:

About the book
Book Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: April 28, 2014
Buy Link(s):

Barnes & Noble: Get it here on B&N

The Author

Narbeh Avanessian lives in Los Angeles as a freelance writer and marketing professional. He spends
his free time writing science fiction and studying video games. - See more at:

Free Excerpt!

February 2nd, 2053
What does the man who has everything want? It was the one question that began to haunt me in the younger years of my life. If I could just come up with the answer, I was convinced I could find the secret to the most elusive human emotion: happiness.
I remember sitting alone in a dimly lit Burbank diner at dawn, playing with my ketchup-drenched curly fries as my coffee cooled down, lost in thought. My sunken, insomniac eyes would wait for the sun to rise through the cafe's east windows. The blinding light of dawn's first rays coming in strong and low was almost pristine enough to deliver some kind of answer, but it was not to be.
The bullet train would deliver me to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco in the winter, when the crowds had left. The wind would gust with bursts of fury, and I'd smell the salt in the air. The splashes of the bay water calmed me down immensely. It was the closest I had come to finding what I was looking for, yet I still searched.
For most of my life, I would convince myself the answer would come through my art; perhaps a set of my best paintings—no, an entire exhibit—would give me solace, but it was never enough. Everywhere I looked in my Golden State, the state many simply called California, the answer to the question continued to elude me.
It was my family's move from the valley into West Los Angeles that finally aligned the stars in my favor. Against all odds, I found him—the man who had everything. The question that had driven me mad all of these years could finally be answered, if I could somehow become part of his story and pay close enough attention.
That man was Jackson Riley. He was born in the year 2017 to proud parents who would have only one child. By 2035, Jackson Riley neatly fit the criteria as the man who had everything. He was worth eight billion dollars, the sole heir to a real-estate empire, so he never worried about money. He was deeply in love with his strikingly beautiful high school sweetheart and never suffered unrequited love. At the young age of eighteen, he never ached for lost youth.
So did I learn the answer to my question through a man I thought would only exist in theoretical debates? Is my story in the pages written below any help at all? A simple answer to a once philosophical question does it no justice, but in case you were still wondering, I'll give it to you square. What does the man who has everything want? Simple—for it to never end.