Where the Staircase Ends {Book Review & Giveaway}

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ABOUT WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS

Publication date: April 14, 2015

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.

Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable — unless the staircase breaks her first.

ABOUT STACY STOKES:

Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business.  She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband.  WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter

My Review

When I started this book, I thought it was going to be sort of the teenaged version of It’s A Wonderful Life (which is great, because I love that movie). After dying, teenager Taylor is forced to climb an enormous stone staircase – all she can do is go up as she gets glimpses of her new reality and is faced with the ghosts of her past as they appear on the staircase.  Memories, both good and bad, take her through the decisions she made in her life.

This is not your typical “teenager girl” problems book which I can find insipid and irritating if not done correctly.  This is a really good book and the writing is really well done.  The characters are relatable and realistically flawed, but at the same time not stock or stereotypical, which I occasionally find in books of this genre.

I was left with questions of “Who would be on my staircase?” and what moments would show up as the best and worst in my life.   I do recommend this book – it’s worth the investment and it’s definitely a page-turner.

 Buy Where the Staircase Ends

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If you’d like to read Where the Staircase Ends, five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes (INT), so make sure to come back every day to enter!

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Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap Infused With Marula Oil

* The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap in exchange for a product review.  However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

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We live in a house with 2 kids, 2 dogs, one very chubby ferret, 12 fish, and there are 3 horses in the barn! Between the animals and the kids, someone is always DIRTY! So when the kids are covered in mud and muck we now go straight for the deep cleansing  hand soap Dial Miracle Oil!

This time of year the heater dries out our skin inside the house and the mud covers little hands while we are having fun outside. Once we finally corral pets and kids back into their cages (pets) and the house (kids), the last thing I want to worry about is whether or not the soap we use is going to leave behind any residue on the hands, arms, and elbows of our little ones! Thankfully, Dial Miracle Oil Handsoap came to our rescue with a conditioning soap that provides refreshing moisture and deep cleansing family soap that everyone loves.

Because Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap is infused with micro-scrubbers and Marula Oil with Micro Oil Technology, I don’t have to worry about the kids (or my spouse) spreading germs or oily, soapy residue around the house. Dial Miracle Oil soaps are super clean rinsing so once you have washed off the dirt and debris, all you are left with is soft and clean skin!

Whether you have a houseful or just value a hard-working conditioning soap that pampers you by giving you refreshing moisture for your skin while providing the deep cleansing power of a family soap, Dial Miracle Oil will make you smile!

 

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3 lucky Mama Games readers are going to get a chance to win a coupon for a free bottle of Dial Sugar Miracle Oil Hand Soap!  Come back every day to enter!  US Only 18+.

 

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Vimbly Keeps Moms Connected!

* I was provided compensation for this post about Vimbly, but all opinions are my own.

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Do  you LOVE trying new things?  Looking to plan fun date nights, or events for you kids?  If you are, you have to check out Vimbly.  Vimbly is an awesome website that shows open time slots for activities, classes, & date ideas by listing different businesses on a single page and letting you book your activity directly.  These activities include dance, cooking, glassblowing, pizza making, wine tasting, intro to cigars, learning to DJ, improv, scotch pairing, samurai sword fighting, persuasion class, and thousands more.

If you are a NYC mom, this is AWESOME, because there is a whole section just for activities for NYC kids.  I went looking for an art class for this weekend (this post is written on Thursday afternoon).  I found FIVE options, including a seriously cool “Kids Circus” class, a dance class, a violin lesson, and a boxing class!  How great is it that you can schedule something at the last minute for your kiddos!  The prices are very reasonable too – the boxing class was 50% off and only $15!  There are even free events listed!  Vimbly is a great site to “have a life” and still stay on budget!

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And don’t worry – there are plenty of activities for adults too!  I searched for “wine” events in NYC this weekend and found everything from wine tastings, wine tours, to a Beginner’s Tango lesson with wine!  Does it get any better than that?  Vimbly is extremely easy (and fun!) to use and explore, so head over to see if your city is listed!

Even if you don’t live in one of these 18 major cities where Vimbly hangs out, this is perfect for the traveler! I occasionally travel to Chicago and NYC, so I definitely plan on using Vimbly to plan fun evening activities while I am in town!

 

And don’t sweat – if your city isn’t listed and you don’t travel, Vimbly expects to establish a national presence in 2015.

Smart Cookies Cooks Up a Boredom Buster

* I received a complimentary copy of The Smart Cookies in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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I hate hearing “I’m bored” around my house – my younger daughter frequently wants to play a board game, but it’s not always a convenient time.  Smart Cookies is just the solution – not only is it a one-person game, but it’s brain boosting!  The game is designed for players age 6 and up, and is based on principles of logic.

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The games is easy to set up and play.  The spiral notebook has a variety of logic clue “recipes” that require players to place nine different “cookies” onto the “cookie sheet” in a way that obeys all of the clues.  The picture above is the very easiest puzzle, and I don’t think most six year old kiddos would have a hard time figuring out this puzzle.

But here’s the fun part – as players progress through the spiral binder, the clues get harder, and this helps kids develop and strengthen their reasoning and logic skills, as well as verbal expression.  David Capon, President of FoxMind, explained, “Smart Cookies challenges players to use intuitively their reasoning skills  to solve the puzzles while having fun. The skills that young minds develop as they play Smart Cookies are helpful in learning most subjects. The puzzles use visual clues in an appealing cookie design that guide players to advance at their own pace.”

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My daughters really love this game too – the puzzles prevent a nice challenge and keep them well engaged – this game is going to be a FANTASTIC boredom buster.  The cookies are solid and don’t appear easy to break.  You’ll want to watch how you put up the “cookie sheet” and the puzzle book as these are a little easier to damage by little hands.

Smart Cookies ($24.95) was recently named one of the 10 Best Educational Games by Dr. Toy.

Chem-Dry Makes Spring Cleaning Your Carpets a (Healthy) Breeze

* I received a free sample of Chem-Dry Cleaning Products in exchange for my honest review, but all opinions are my own.

 

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Do you have mess makers in your home?  We sure do – between my two kids, two dogs, and a ferret, our carpets, frankly, don’t stand a chance.  I try to use organic products when possible, but sometimes a mess gets  made (usually by one of the dogs) that needs some awesome cleaning power.  However, everyone in my house is an allergy sufferer, and my youngest daughter has pretty severe asthma – she is on two inhalers and asthma medication every day.  So it’s really important to me to have a healthy home that isn’t going to irritate my daughter’s (and the rest of the household) allergies.

I had a chance to try out three different Chem-Dry cleaning products:  Carpet Stain Extinguisher Spot Remover, Grease & Oil Stain Extinguisher & Carpet Deodorizer (Lemon Scent).

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Unfortunately, I had an opportunity to do some extensive testing of the Chem-Dry Carpet Stain Extinguisher Spot Remover.  My oldest dog got an upset belly while we were at work at left several “presents” on the living room run (although this really isn’t like her).  This was a DISGUSTING stain.  The Spot Remover was so easy to use, and it worked AMAZINGLY well.  I just sprayed it on and let it sit for about 30 seconds, and then blotted the stain up with a clean cloth.  Stain GONE – no kidding – one application and the stain was out.  Not only does it have professional strength carbonated cleaning solution, it is green-certified and contains no harsh solvents, detergent, and bleaches, so it’s safe for both my girls and my pets.  Also, it doesn’t leave behind any dirt-attracting residue like other spot cleaners.  I’m a HUGE new fan.  I followed up with the Chem-Dry Carpet Deodorizer that left the whole room with a light citrus scent.  So if you’re looking to add a great carpet cleaner to your spring cleaning arsenal, I highly recommend Chem-Dry!

As you start Spring Cleaning this year, you have a chance to make it a whole lot sweeter!  Make sure to stop by and enter Chem-Dry’s spring cleaning contest with a grand prize of $500 in cleaning products.

What is your LEAST favorite part of spring cleaning?

 

Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer + FLASH Giveaway


* Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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I love, love, love pasta.  However, pasta does not love me and definitely does not fit into my diet!  It can be hard to substitute healthy things when you aren’t used to it, but the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer makes it super easy to substitute pasta with healthy spiral veggies.  This helps you meet those daily requirements of veggies while keeping out carbs.

There are lots of spiralizers on the market – many of them are super clunky and big, and I don’t know about you, but my counter space is precious!  There are also lots of smaller spiralizers that are like pencil sharpeners, but these don’t have a lot of cutting options and they waste a lot of your vegetables or won’t even work at all for large vegetables.  They can also be brutal to clean!

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The Brieftons NextGen sprializer solves these problems – the innovative cap design allows for a deeper reach and firmer grab on veggies with 50% less wastage. It also accommodates vegs up to 6.5 CM in diameter, compared to 4 – 4.5 CM in competing products. It also features a longer blade (7 CM). This results in a longer cutting surface & shorter time to spiralize vegs.

The other great thing is that it is easy to store and comes with removable blades so it is easy to clean.  If you are looking to add a spiralizer to your kitchen, I highly recommend the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer!

And, one lucky Mama Games reader has a chance to win a Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer in this FLASH GIVEAWAY!

You must enter before 2 pm on 3/5/15, and you MUST respond within 1 hour of notification or a new winner will be chosen!

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Fingers in the Mist {Book Review and Giveaway}

*Disclaimer:  I received a free ebook copy of Fingers in the Mist from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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About Fingers in the Mist

Sixteen-year-old Caitlyn Foster never believed in the legend of the Redeemers. That was before the trees started to whisper her name. Before a murder of crows attacked the town. Before she and her family came home to find a bloody handprint on their front door, marking one of them as a sacrifice. As Caitlyn’s friends are ripped from their homes, she knows it’s only a matter of time before the Redeemers come for her. Caitlyn has the power to stop the terror, but she’ll have to decide if she’s willing to sacrifice herself to save those she loves.

Publication date: February 24, 2015      

                                                       Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.                                                          

Author: O’Dell Hutchison

My Review

I loved this book from the minute I started it…and in all honesty I finished it in one day because I couldn’t put it down.   When I first started the book, it reminded me a little of bit of M. Night Shymalan’s movie “The Village” combined with “Children of the Corn” as it is set in a rural farm community that is hyper-religious in a cultish way, believing in “Redeemers” which essentially come and steal your children in the night.

Caitlyn Foster is a fantastic main character, and I quickly became enthralled not only with her, but her choices as she attempts to cope and deal with the exceptionally odd situation that she is faced with.  She is wonderfully flawed, but has a good heart, and I found her absolutely likable as a main character.  I was cheering for her the entire time.

Plot-wise, the story moves at a GREAT pace – like I said, I couldn’t put it down.  There were certain elements to the plot that were a bit predictable for me, but not NEARLY as much as your average YA novel.  O’Dell Hutchison kept me guessing throughout the novel, and this was a refreshing thing for a YA novel. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but it is safe to say that you will be engaged throughout the novel.

If you are a fan of YA paranormal fiction – you have to get this book!  You will not be disappointed.   For those of you who monitor the content of your YA books, I would have no issue giving this to my 13 year old, but if you object to references of drug use (in an addiction context) or teenage pregnancy references, you might want to give this a read first.

About the Author

 O’Dell was born in a small rural town in Idaho. There were no Redeemers living there (that he knows of). After attending college in the Pacific Northwest, he found his way to the Houston area. By day, he is a Business Systems Analyst and at night you can either find him sitting at home, dreaming of random super powers he wishes he had, or directing plays and musicals at various theaters around Houston.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter Facebook Goodreads

 Giveaway

Five (5) lucky winners will receive a digital copy of Fingers in the Mist by O’Dell Hutchison (INT)

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Buy Fingers in the Mist

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD

 

Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology + Giveaway

* Disclaimer: The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Powershot detergent in exchange for a product review. All opinions are my own.

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Do you have kids that like to help with the laundry?  Do you have kids that like to help with the laundry for extra money??  I know I do!  One of the concerns that I have with my kids helping with the laundry is that they can easily dump out wayyyy to much detergent and make a HUGE mess.  Well, the new Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology has SOLVED that problem with a new easy measure liquid detergent!  You will never have a laundry mess again!  But instead of telling you how easy it is to use, I’ll let my daughter show you!

 

Looks easy, doesn’t it!  That’s because it is!  This is a great easy measure liquid detergent, and most important, it leaves your clothes clean and smelling great.  The Auto Dosing is really easy.  You just turn the bottle upside down, pour until it stops, and then latch the lid!  There is no fuss, no mess, and NO measuring.  You get the perfect dose every time – and if you have an extra dirty load, you just put in two doses.  Easy peasy!   The bottle automatically refills for your next load.

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Purex Powershot is also an excellent value and much more cost effective that higher priced detergents.  Give the Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology a try – you won’t be disappointed!

AND, three lucky winners will have a chance to try Purex Powershot for themselves.  Enter below to win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology!  Enter below to win!
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Lighten Up, Y’all Brings Southern Food with a Healthy Kick {Book Review}

* Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of Lighten Up, Y’all from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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About Lighten Up, Y’all

A collection of classic Southern comfort food recipes–including seven-layer dip, chicken and gravy, and strawberry shortcake–made lighter, healthier, and completely guilt-free.

Virginia Willis is not only an authority on Southern cooking, a French-trained chef, and a veteran cookbook author; she is also a proud Southerner who adores eating and cooking for family and friends. So when she needed to drop a few pounds and generally lighten up her diet, the most important criterion for her new lifestyle was that all the food had to taste delicious.

The result is Lighten Up, Y’all, a soul-satisfying and deeply personal collection of Virginia’s new favorite recipes. All the classics are covered—from a comforting Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits to warm, melting Broccoli Mac and Cheese to Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie. Each dish is packed with real Southern flavor, but made with healthier, more wholesome ingredients and techniques. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, Lighten Up, Y’all has the recipes, tools, and inspiration you need to make the nourishing, down-home Southern food you love.

My Review

So, I have been living in New York for coming up on a decade now, but my roots are Southern.  If there is one part of me that hasn’t been fully converted to life in the Northeast, it’s my taste buds.  I would still rather have a chicken fried chicken sandwich than beef on weck any day.  The only issue with classic Southern food is that it isn’t exactly the picture of health.  Lighten Up, Y’all is the perfect cookbook for displaced Southerners (or anyone else) who is looking to enjoy classic Southern flavors while lightening up on the fat content.

This is a really nice cookbook – there isn’t a whole lot of “extra” writing here – some tips on lightening up your diet in general, and then it dives right into the food, which I think is a good thing!  Lighten Up Y’all is divided into 10 sections, with my avorites being “Grains, Grits, and other Starchy Goodness,” “From the Garden,” and “Sweet Indulgences”.  This has some amazing Southern favorites – Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy, Buttermilk Biscuits with Turkey Sausage Gravy, and other tasty treats, as well recipes with a more contemporary feel, like Summer Squash “Lasagna”.  The great thing about these recipes is that they use easy-to-find ingredients, and are truly light – most rely on healthy oils like olive oil or canola oil, and there are certainly no “deep fried” anythings.  But the recipes all sound amazingly tasty!

If you enjoy Southern food, but are trying to keep your diet healthy, you should definitely give Lighten Up, Ya’ll a second look!

 

Defcon Darcy Book Blast + $10 Amazon Giveaway

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DefconDarcy-COLORRGB72Fisher Stanton, Valley High School’s Nantucket wannabe, has a cheating girlfriend. When he hires Darcy Walker to chase her to a local club, in true Darcy fashion she stumbles upon a dead body. Thing is, this body has secrets…and Darcy’s mysterious friend, Jaws, and the reporter, Tito Westbrook, have a vested interest. Both enlist Darcy to find the person responsible who has eluded them for years, but Darcy doesn’t solve crimes for free anymore, especially where Jaws is concerned. Knowing Darcy’s Achilles heel, Jaws blackmails Darcy into working for him.

In a true test of wills, Darcy and Jaws battle head-to-head to see who can outsmart the other—Jaws needs Darcy to help him end a bitter grudge war; Darcy needs Jaws to divulge the mystery surrounding her mother’s death. Haunted by a past that shaped her present, Darcy will stop at nothing to get answers. Even if it means breaking the law and being disloyal to her new boyfriend, Dylan Taylor, in the process.

DEFCON DARCY gives Darcy’s demons a name and ties up loose ends that made Darcy into the verb that she is. What she thinks she knows as truth, isn’t. What she wishes wasn’t true…is.

The problem is, when your life goes DEFCON 1, not everyone lives to tell about it.

Put Defcon Darcy on your TBR list! Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

 

AJ LapeAbout the author:

A. J. Lape is the Amazon bestselling author of the Darcy Walker Series. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola–and a lifelong love affair with bacon. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she’ll be wearing prison orange due to the various “wiki” articles she looks up…all in the name of career research, of course.
Find out more about A. J. at http://www.ajlape.com

 

Find A.J on:

Twitter | Darcy’s Twitter | FaceBook | Fan Club & Street Team | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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