Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review: The Island of Doves by Kelly McNees

This book deals with the dark subject of domestic violence, but since the storyline is transported back into the 1800’s, the book was an easier read for me, despite the horrific subject matter. Maybe the fact that the victim Susannah, is getting help escaping her abuser made is easier to read, but I also believe that the style of the author contributed to my ability to read this book dealing with domestic abuse and not be sickened early on to the point of having to put the book down. 

Susannah is married to Edward, who controls her life and becomes abusive for no reason, often putting her life at risk with the degree of abuse he exerts upon her. Catholic nuns realize the severity of Susannah’s situation and help her escape from her prison. She finds shelter with Magdalie, a trapper who lives on Mackinac Island with her son and the memory of her sister, who was a also a victim of domestic abuse, but could not be saved. 

The book explores the relationship between the two women, who come from very different backgrounds, but whose lives are connected through the impact of domestic abuse. This is a nicely written book that elegantly deals with a dark subject. Maybe the book is too sanitized for this topic because it almost reads like a vacation read or something to read on a rainy weekend with a nice cup of tea by the side.

Book Review: Here and Again by Nicole Dickson

Even though this story plays in modern times, for the most part, the story itself has been repeated over generations in rural America. In this book, Ginger Martin lost her husband in the Iraq War and now lives with her three kids on the farms that her husband’s family owns and has owned for generations. Like many women before her, Ginger finds herself struggling to maintain the farm properly, lacking the strength of male workers to maintain the "homestead" so often described in Wild West novels. Similarly to those movies or stories, a savior appears for Ginger as well, but not in the form of a cowboy, but of Samuel. 

available at Amazon

Samuel is dressed in a Civil War uniform and it turns out is a person that cannot progress into the afterlife, but keeps wandering the earth, seemingly to seek people like Ginger, where he can help out. We never quite find out why Ginger and her family can interact with Samuel, but after a while this really does not matter. What matters is the help and support that Samuel provides to Ginger and her family. He helps not just in maintaining the farm, but also in Ginger finding closure with her husband’s death and the family finding together in their farm as the true home. 

This book is unique in the story it tells; it mixes traditional stories of women struggling to maintain the farm and finding help from strangers wandering through with elements of a modern ghost story in the form of Samuel. I liked this book because it was easily mixing the traditional story telling aspects with some quite radical ideas and still evolved into a very traditional story.

Book Review: Forever Bridge by T. Greenwood

Using the backdrop of Hurricane Irene, T. Greenwood paints a story of a woman, Sylvie, who has suffered tremendous hardship, but finds in the end back to a quiet life and happiness. In one tragic, horrific night, Sylvie got into an accident with the family car. This accident resulted in the paralysis of her husband and the death of her son. Sylvie blames herself for the accident, feeling guilty about the injury to her husband and causing the death of her child. She is never quite the same afterwards. Ruby, her daughter, suffers from a mother that is distant and broken. She is now obsessed with bridges, seeing their strength and elegance in the artful arrangement of beams. 

One day, a young woman named Nessa, enters the lives of Ruby and Sylvie and helping Nessa heal, Ruby and Sylvie heal their divide and find together as a family. Nessa harbors a dark secret that is related to her pregnancy, but Nessa seems unwilling or unable to speak. So no one really knows what her story is and why hse is finding herself in the small Vermont village that is now home to Sylvie and Ruby. Slowly, Nessa’s secret comes out and in helping Nessa, Sylvie can find a way out of her grief and guilt. 

T. Greenwood manages to cover some very dark and depressing events and subjects with a quiet calm that draws the reader to the storyline, even if it touches on subjects one would rather push away. This book shows that some conflicts and feelings need time to bubble to the surface, but if they do, the healing can truly begin.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Product Review: Purex Insider - Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash

Through Purex Insider, I received a nice box with a new Dial Body Wash inside. This product is called Dial Miracle Oil and is infused withMarula Oil to ensure that your skin is perfectly moisturized even in the dead of winter, when I know my skin is usually really dry.

Dial has provided my graciously with a free sample of this new product and after using it for a couple of weeks, my family is certainly a fan of this product.

Not only is the body wash keeping the skin moisturized, but with Marula Oil is also generates a deep lather that cleans the skin even in those quick showers on a cold morning. Dial has really stepped up its game. This is not just the body wash that leaves you clean. This Miracle Oil body wash leaves your skin clean, healthy and glowing. And did I mention the nice, subtle scent that Dial Miracle Oil has? It is not overpowering or strong, just a nice subtle scent that stays with you for hours and you can still apply perfume, if you feel like it, without fearing that your body wash will clash with the fragrance. I have applied perfume a couple of time and never noticed that the body wash clashes with the fragrance. But on most days, I simply shower and then apply a body moisturizer to my arms and a face moisturizer to make sure that I have my SPF protection.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - this is a new product by Dial - infused with Marula oil!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - love the scent and what it does to my skin - so soft and healthy looking
So check out the new Dial Body Wash with Miracle Oil, the Marula Oil, to see for yourself how the new Dial Soap Micro Oil Technology can keep your skin healthy and moisturized throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I received a free product as well as additional free product coupons in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post has not been influenced by any third parties and is solely my own. Mineral Fusion products - SPF15 Brightening Moisturizer

Through I received a coupon for a makeup and skincare line available at Target. I have a Target store close by and so I was happy to try out what is for more me a fairly pricey skincare product. But was it ever worthwhile.

The product line is called Mineral Fusion and one of the trademarks of its line is the inclusion of Vitamin C to naturally brighten and restore youthfulness of your skin. I opted therefore to select a skincare product rather than a makeup item because I wanted to try the effect of vitamin C. One of the products that immediately caught my attention was the SPF15 Brightening Moisturizer.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the moisturizer comes in a nice blue/brown packaging

copyright Durhamonthecheap - this is a good size tube of moisturizer

copyright Durhamonthecheap -I noticed right away that it says protection - and it does!

So I bought with my coupon a $25 product for FREE - how great is that? I have been dutifully applying it every day for two weeks now and I am really happy with its effects. My skin feels more healthy and has a nice glow to it that I usually only see in the spring and summer, when I have been regularly outside. But we still had winter up until last week and so for my skin to have this kind of healthy color is really unusual - but I am very happy about it!
The product is hypo-allergenic, which is important for someone like me with really sensitive skin and also vegan. I use it sparingly, meaning just a little bit on the tip of my finger gores a long way and a good thing it is because I usually do not splurge like that on skincare. But this sample was really great and I dread the day that it is used up. I may have to convince myself that it is worth it after all and consider it my monthly splurge form now on. I really like it that much!

Disclaimer: I received a free product from in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this blog post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third parties.

Product Review: Aldi - Rice Pudding (Senor Rico)

I have found a new favorite dessert - a rice pudding that Aldi occasionally carries. It is a Mexican-inspired rice pudding that is sweetened with condensed milk and has a nice covering of cinnamon and sugar when you pull of the lid.  The texture is nice and creamy, the flavor sweet, but you can still taste the rice. I just the love the balance between the rice texture and the satisfying sweetness of the milk.
The product retails for around 95 cents at my local Aldi store in Durham, NC. If it is available in your local Aldi store, give it a try and let me know whether you agree that this is rice pudding in danger of making you addicted to it.

Book Review: Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar by Shawn Michaels

I have read a number of biographies or autobiographies by famous athletes in recent years. This is the first time that I am reading a book by a former member of the WWE. It was certainly interesting and definitely what I expected in a book by a former wrestler.
This is not your typical wrestling book. Wrestling is still a major part of the book, but this book is much more personal than the pubic persona of the wrestling superstar that Shawn Michaels once was. In this book, Shawn talks about his personal struggle, family trouble and how religion helped him overcome these dark episodes and find peace in his home again.
available on Amazon
I found myself enjoying this book. At first I figured that this was a book by an ex-athlete who wanted to cash in on his former fame, but I was really surprised to see how honest Michaels deals with his life and family in this book.
If you are not into religion and find that all this talk about religion is just something people say to get sympathy, this book is NOT for you. There is definitely a strong spiritual element to this book and Michaels shows some surprising weaknesses for someone who made a life focused on physical strength. But admitting that he was weak and that he needed guidance from somewhere was exactly how Michaels found a path in life that put him at ease with his career and family. Being a wrestler is not usually the background someone finds in a Christian, but similar to Michaels, I too believe that it takes people of all shapes and sizes to make up a community and so I have not issue with a former wrestler talking about his Christian faith. It is actually somewhat refreshing to read a book about religion from someone who did not grow up in a traditional religious environment.
Not surprisingly, Michaels is still experiencing doubts and still wrestles with his new life, but too me that shows how honest he is approaching his life and he writing of this book. Overall, this is a good book for people also struggling with their faith and doubting themselves.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in the post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third parties.