Saturday, October 18, 2014

Book Review: Rock Angel (Rock Angel Series Book 1) by Jeanne Bogino

I received a free copy of this book for review through Tastemaker MOM. While I usually review books within the mystery genre, the topic of this book interested me. A story about the music industry and how a young women with a lot of talent would experience such a world. I did not know what to expect from a book with this subject? Would it read like an extended story in Rolling Stone that would describe in a lot of detail wild escapades, while still somehow managing to stand up on stage and make fans happy every night? Or would the book describe how a young girl, full of hope, gets used up in an industry that is always looking for the next big thing and churns out new talent every week only to drop those talents that do not bring enough in sales or fan appeal?
copyright Durhamonthecheap - available on amazon

In the end, Rock Angel is a little bit of both with Shan, a young woman landing a job as a lead guitarist, at the center of a drama that has everything and I mean everything in it. There is love, betrayal, loneliness, fan adoration and a cruel, but wonderful, music industry controlling the strings.

Shan seems to have finally made it and that at only 18 years - she gets hired as a lead guitarist for a band that seems destined for stardom and there is the cool Quinn, leader of the band. We immediately find out that not everything is perfect. Shan is addicted to heroin and seemingly can;t beat the addiction and Quinn is addicted to women, sleeping around like there is no tomorrow and so we sense trouble from the beginning between Shan and Quinn.

But we as the readers seem to be the only one that can sense the trouble because Quinn and Shan can't seem to sort things out for themselves. They engage in incredibly self-destructive behavior when together, tearing themselves apart, then taking a break and experiencing some resemblance of normalcy. Only to then have the cycle start all over - with us as readers wondering when will this nightmare stop? At times, Shan's and Quinn's behavior is extremely hard to stomach and I really just wanted the pain for these two people to be over, but I could not put the book down because I was curious whether in the end there would be something to salvage for either one.

This author has not stopped short of providing the harsh reality of the music industry. I would not recommend this book for teenagers, some of the scenes, especially those involving the self-destructive drug behavior, were hard to stomach and get through, even for me. I wold also not classify this book as a summer or beach read, the subject matter is too dark, the characters too messed up and the constant rollercoaster made me want to shake both Shan and Quinn repeatedly and ask them to finally come to their senses.But if you are looking a gripping novel about the music industry and are willing to take the fame with the dark sides, this is a great book.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty

This book by Sara Hagerty describes an important message about religion and the role that God can play in someone's life. While Sara uses her struggles with fertility as the starting point of the story, the overall meaning of the book is much broader.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - available at amazon

Here is a woman that thought she had a life all planned out. She would get married, then have kids and after the kids were grown and out of the worst childhood maladies, the rest of her life would somehow figure itself out. So what to do if the kids do not come? What to do if kids are not just a planned stage in your life, but you actually long to have kids and you wonder what to do now with your life when the kids are simply not coming and your life seems without content? It is this broader journey of seeking guidance and support from a higher power that the author describes in eloquent terms and invites the reader of this book to join her in.

The story told in the book is of a journey, in which the author realizes in the darkest hours that strength can come through believing and that this belief can stay with you for the rest of your life. This belief in a higher power can lend you support and strength that allows you to overcome obstacles as they arise. It may not always be obvious that God is working his magic, but looking back I am sure almost everyone can point to events in which we considered ourselves either lucky that we made it through them or counted our blessings on help arriving unexpectedly before worse happened. It is these situations that the author points to when indicating that God can be found in the most desperate circumstances sometimes.

Whether you prefer to speak of God, a higher power or some other force that you seek help or guidance from, strength can be derived sometimes from the fact alone that you know you are not alone in whatever struggle you are facing.

I enjoyed this book very much, in large part because the author's style is lyrical and reminds you of traditional storytelling. While dealing with a very religious and incredibly personal subject, the author never appears to want to preach people or force her opinion on the reader. This is a lovely book to read and work through as you determine how you find a solution to your journey or the struggles you are currently dealing with.

Disclaimer: I have a received a free copy of the book from the publisher. The opinion expressed in this review is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crowdtap sampling and review: Advil® Film-Coated - #FastAdvil Solutions

Through Crowdtap I was given a nice kit, involving the latest advance in pain relief by Advil - Advil® Film-Coated for faster pain relief than ever before.

My kit included the following items:
  • 8 2-count samples of Advil® Film-Coated
  • Sampling Instructions
  • 4 Coupons 

I took my kit to work and when hosting a party for another product, I placed the Advil® Film-Coated samples out on the table as well. With the busy time of the year upon us, many people suffer from stress headaches and so the samples were taken quickly. I could have definitely needed more of the samples and the coupons were taken quickly as well.

I have not tried the Advil® Film-Coated, but two of my colleagues commented that the Advil® Film-Coated are fast acting and easy on your stomach. But most importantly, they work as reliably as the traditional Advil!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - only two samples left and some coupons, everyone wanted Advil® Film-Coated

Disclaimer: I received free samples of Advil® Film-Coated in exchange for a sample review. The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Riceworks House Party - Healthy snacks can taste great!

Hosting the Riceworks at work was a lot of fun. In my party pack I got a bunch of items through House Party and Riceworks. Included in the party pack were:
  • 1 riceworks Sundried Tomato Mediterranean Herbs & Cheese gourmet rice snacks
  • 1 riceworks Sweet Chili Gourmet Brown gourmet rice snacks
  • 1 riceworks Sea Salt Gourmet Brown gourmet rice snacks
  • 1 riceworks Salsa Fresca Gourmet gourmet rice snacks
  • 1 wild riceworks Black Japonica gourmet rice snacks
  • 1 wild riceworks Sea Salt and Black Sesame gourmet rice snacks
  • 12 coupons for $1 off riceworks gourmet rice snacks
  • 12 riceworks recipe cards
  • 12 riceworks chip clips
  • 12 riceworks magnetic notepads
  • 12 riceworks water tumblers
 Everything was a hit, especially of course the many samples of crisps that we got. Hard to tell which one was a favorite, but the spicy varieties were a hit, including the Sundried Tomato, Swheet Chili and Black Sesame.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - ready to party - all the goodies laid out for the sampling

copyright Durhamonthecheap - thankful for the coupons to keep the party going at home!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - clips and tumblers, recipes and coupons - great party pack!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - hanging out in the kitchen and sapling riceworks!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - leaving out the samples for the latecomers - everyone got some samples!

Overall, this was a fun and easy party to have at work because the snacks were healthy and went with the cheese and fruit that we always stock at work. In addition, the snacks were so tasty on their own that people kept grabbing different flavors as they walked through the kitchen. Now almost every cubicle shows a tumbler on the desk and the notepads and coupons made their way to the homes to spread the word some more on riceworks.

Disclaimer: I received a House Party kit containing riceworks snacks and various additional items from riceworks in exchange for a sample share and an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by House Party or any third party.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 review: 5-hour ENERGY in Pink Lemonade flavor - to celebrate living beyond breast cancer

Through I received a sample of 5-hour Energy in the new Pink Lemonade flavor with the pink ribbon bottle to celebrate Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

And there is more to celebrate. Now through December 31, 2014, Living Essentials is donating 5 cents from the sale of every specially marked bottle of Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). LBBC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support. Living Essentials has agreed to at a minimum donate $200,000.00 to LBBC.

As a consumer wanting to support LBBC, all you need to do is to look for the white 5-hour ENERGY® bottle with the pink ribbon and you can make a difference today!

5-hour Energy is great when you need a boost of energy, but don't want to wait. The 5-hour ENERGY shot takes just seconds to show an effect and since 5-hour ENERGY have no sugar, there is no sugar crash to come afterwards. 5-hour Energy shots come in a variety of flavors and are still available in original, decaf and extra strength.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - celebrate living beyond Breast Cancer with 5-hour Energy!
Disclaimer: I received a couple of free products to sample the product and review it. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by or any third party.

Purex Review: Purex Crystals - Aromatherapy in Well Being

Through Purex Insiders, I received a sample package for Purex Crystals in Aromatherapy scents. The catchphrase used to recommend using these crystals when doing laundry is "Stimulate your life and infuse your laundry with these soothing aromas." and how true is that.

These crystals are not just a great scent booster when added to the laundry. Coming in three great varieties entitled:

copyright Durhamonthecheap - I added about a 1/3 of cup of Purex Crystals for a long lasting scent boost!

Well Being --- brightens any mood with the happy fragrance of fresh blossoms
Energy --- helps you tackle any day with the stimulating power of citrus
Serenity --- keeps you calm all day long with the gentle scent of water-lilies

They now also allow you to individualize your laundry by putting your laundry in a mood that meets yours. I am so happy I get well being as a full size sample included with the kit, but with Fall coming up and days getting shorter, I can certainly use a scent that brightens my mood. At least until winter gets here and the snow on the ground will reflect the sunlight to brighten the days again.  Purex has generated these Aromatherapy scents by using floral and citrus scents blended with aromatherapy essential oils. The crystals will now infuse your clothing with indulgent and refreshing aromas that revitalize your spirit.

The  process is very easy, you simply add, as instructed, the crystals to your washer at the beginning of the laundry cycle and the scent will last in your clothing for weeks, not just days. No more musty smelling clothes, all clothes will be pleasantly scented and also life your mood.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - my Purex Insider package, three free coupons for the product + a bottle of Well Being!
Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free product as well as three additional coupons for free products to sample the product and review it. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by Purex Insiders or any third party.

Crowdtap Review: Ragù Sauces Sampling - budget gourmet Pasta Alfredo!

Through Crowdtap I received a coupon for a free jar of Ragù Sauces and selected the Classic Alfredo Sauce. Rather than settle for Marinara or another red sauce variety I decided to settle for the creamy richness of classic Alfredo since I rarely prepare this sauce at home. I also figured that because Alfredo is really thick, one jar would go a long way and could be split up over several meals since we do not usually eat rich sauces. I was right, the flavor of Alfredo by Ragu is awesome, I nice balance between cream and cheese, not too many spices are noticeable. The cheese definitely is the main ingredient. I added about 1/3 of the jar to the meal and the meal itself was enough for 2 adults and 2 little kids. The flavor was a hit with everyone and the meal itself, combined with some sliced Roma tomatoes was filling and delicious.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - starting off with a German style white sausage and the Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce

copyright Durhamonthecheap - adding the Ragu sauce to cooked al dente pasta and the cut up sausave

copyright Durhamonthecheap - happy mixing to get all the pasta covered in the creamy richness of Ragu Classic Alfredo

copyright Durhamonthecheap - adding some chives for a little bit extra flavor and some color

copyright Durhamonthecheap - voila - Classic Pasta Alfredo on a budget and no one could tell the difference!
Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free jar of Ragu Sauce (my choice which variety to pick) in exchange for a sampling and review. The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by Ragu, Crowdtap or any third party.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

smiley360. Review: Tazo Chai Tea in three new flavors: Pumpkn Spice, Vanilla Caramel and Chocolate!

TAZO Chai stands for quality tea brewed in the tradition of exquisite Indian-flavored spice-enhanced tea. Initially, the signature Chai tea in filterbag brought together classic spices, including ginger, pepper and cardamom, for the typical spicy taste. Nopw Tazo Chai has also developed new smooth and creamy latte concentrates, in flavors such as chocolate as the perfect way to enjoy the delightfully unexpected Chai flavors with milk.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the Tazo Chai Kit from with samples and coupons!
 As their latest invention, Tazo is now introducing new flavors to Chai such as the  sweet creaminess of Vanilla Caramel and the season's hottest flavor of Pumpkin Spice.

TAZO believes there is truly a Chai for everyone.

So if you are in the mood for the spicy goodness of Chai tea, but still want some chocolate in your life - give the chocolate Chai Tea by Tazo a try or maybe more a smooth vanilla caramel fan - I can highly recommend the vanilla caramel flavor for an interesting twist in the spicy goodness of Tazo Chai tea.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - enjoying my Vanilla Caramel flavor - so smooth and so good!
 Disclaimer: I received free samples and full product coupons from in exchange for a review and sampling the product. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by or any third party.