Monday, March 30, 2015

New Release - Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles -- Review and #Giveaway (3 winners)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Forward by John Edwards — TV personality and renowned psychic medium 

Wow!, I am on a roll these past few weeks when it comes to finding time and enjoying a good book in the evening.  I sure did miss reading books since the holidays, especially the Chicken Soup for the Soul ones, which I find inspirational.  A couple nights ago after finishing The Dovekeepers book, I picked up the recently released (Feb. 10th) Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles book to read.

Like all other Chicken Soup for the Soul books, this recent release contains 101 inspirational stories, with these stories in particular being of hope and faith divine intervention and answered prayers.  With all the negative things that happen in the world and that are reported each evening on the news, it takes a book like this to remind you that good things really do happen to good people and that you really can beat the odds -- I know as I beat a rare form of cancer in 2008 and have two miracle babies to enjoy.

Enjoying "me time" after the girls went to bed, I poured a hot cup of tea and curled up with a blanket and this book the other evening.  A couple hours later the book was read cover to cover, and I found myself smiling.  What a wonderful way to spend an evening, reading such awe inspiring and uplifting stories of others.  From messages from heaving to miraculous healing, each and every story that I read reminded me believe in miracles and that there still is good in this world, even if the news is reporting otherwise.

I am so happy to have found time to read this book, and have already started to pass it around to friends and family to read.  They, too, have enjoyed the book, and it has made for wonderful discussions and sharing of our favorite stories among each other.  If you love Chicken Soup for the Soul books or find yourself feeling down and needing a little pick-me-up, you'll want to pick up a copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles" to enjoy.  An easy read that you can finish in a day, or pace yourself by choosing a few stories an evening, you will find yourself feeling hopefully and uplifted as you read through the 101 stories that make up this recent release.  I can't wait to hear what you think of it, so be sure to share your thoughts below, in the comments section.


Want a chance to win 1 of 3 copies of "Hope & Miracles" from the folks at Chicken Soup for the Soul?  Then, complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Role Mommy Writer's Network, in which I will be compensated for my time.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.

Based on Alice Hoffman’s Bestselling Historical Novel About a Group of Extraordinary Women Whose Lives Intersect In a Fight for Survival at the Siege of Masada in 70 C.E.

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Starring Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan, Kathryn Prescott, Diego Boneta and Sam Neill Star

Whenever the holidays roll around you can expect to find a special airing on television from executive products Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey.  Well, this upcoming Easter is no exception, as they will be sharing a four-hour limited event series, THE DOVEKEEPERS, airing on CBS, Tuesday, March 31st (9:00-11:00PM ET/PT) and Wednesday, April 1st.

Last week I received not only an advance screening of this limited series to preview, but the book, "The Dovekeepers" by Alice Hoffman was also included.  Do you like to read a book or watch a movie and then see how it compares to the other?  I do.  So, the other night after the girls went to bed, I started in on the novel by Alice Hoffman.  This was the first time I read a book by this New York Times Best Seller, but it is definitely not going to be my last, as I have already added her to my must read authors, for my upcoming summer reading. :-)

I was able to read this 501 page book in 4 days (well evenings after the girls went to bed and the house was quiet).  It really was a page turning, and got me excited to watch the series with the screener I was sent.  I had shared the following trailer with my husband, who is also into faith-based films, and he asked me to hold off watching it until the weekend, so that we could both enjoy.  I am so happy that I did, as we haven't been able to stop talking about how great it was, and are already planning to watch it again when it airs on television this week (3/31 and 4/1 at 9-11PM ET/PT on CBS).

Here is more about the upcoming television broadcast:

"This project stars Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Prescott in the title dovekeeper roles, Sam Neill as first-century Jewish scholar and historian Josephus, and Diego Boneta as a star warrior of the Jewish army at Masada. The series is based on Alice Hoffman’s bestselling, critically acclaimed historical novel about a group of extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada. 

Photo Courtesy of CBS Television Network

Set in ancient Israel, THE DOVEKEEPERS is based on the true events at Masada in 70 C.E. After being forced out of their home in Jerusalem by the Romans, 900 Jews were ensconced in a fortress at Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. Besieged at Masada, the Jews held out for months against the vast Roman armies. The project will recount the events from the perspective of a few extraordinary women who arrive at Masada with unique back stories, but a common bond for survival. Additionally, these women, who work together daily as dovekeepers, are all concealing substantial secrets.

Photo Courtesy of CBS Television Network

Hoffman’s novel was published in 2011 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, earning the New York Times’ bestseller status and widespread critical acclaim, including being hailed by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as “a major contribution to 21st century literature.” 

THE DOVEKEEPERS will be brought to television from executive producers Roma Downey and multiple Emmy Award winner Mark Burnett (SURVIVOR, “The Voice”), the production team behind the Emmy-nominated 10-hour miniseries “The Bible,” which scored big ratings for the History Channel in March 2013, and the feature “Son of God.”

Photo Courtesy of CBS Television Network

Frank Siracusa, John Weber and Yves Simoneau also serve as executive producers, with Simoneau directing. Ann Peacock adapted the novel for the screen.

THE DOVEKEEPERS is the first project from CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Studios’ Limited Series and Event Programming unit. It is a co-production between CBS Television Studios and LightWorkers Media, a division of United Artists Media Group."


If you enjoyed the 10-hour Emmy-nominated mini-series, "The Bible," which was also produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, then you will want to tune in and watch this one.  Based on true events about a group of women called Dovekeepers, who lives .  You will also find that this mini series contains a love story that will draw in you and have you rooting for the couple, as well as tragedy and heartbreak -- all key components to a gripping and highly successful series.  I especially liked the strong female bonds and the sharing of the Dovekeepers story, set in the beautiful backdrop of Masada in Israel.  

As I watched The Dovekeepers advance screening, I couldn't help but feel for the women.  The story line is so powerful and the characters really make it come to life.  It is truly a moving story and one not to miss when it airs this Tuesday and Wednesday.

I could ramble on and on about how great this movie is or what parts were my husband and my favorites.  But, instead, I will just tell you that you'll want to tune in or at least record this 2-day, 4-hour mini-series to watch at a later time.  You will be drawn in the first few minutes and find yourself wishing it aired all in one night.  Thankfully with my advance screening I didn't have to wait 24 hours.  My husband and I watched it one evening, as we couldn't find a spot to pause it at.

Can't wait to hear what you think of the mini-series, once it airs this week on CBS. So, be sure to head back here and leave your thoughts on it in the comments section below.  And, if you have already read Alice Hoffman's novel, "The Dovekeepers," share what you thought of the book.  I loved the book just as much as I loved watching the mini-series -- you really felt the excitement and struggle of the women, as well as the heart wrenching love story as it unfolded on the screen.  Truly not to be missed this week!

Don't forget to follow The Dovekeepers and all those involved in this CBS Limited Event Series on the following social media channels...

The Dovekeepers on Facebook:

The Dovekeepers on Twitter:

The Dovekeepers on Instagram: @dovekeeperscbs

Executive Producers and Cast on Twitter:

Roma Downey: @RealRomaDowney
Mark Burnett: @MarkBurnettTV
Sam Neill: @TwoPaddocks
Rachel Brosnahan: @RachieBros
Kathryn Prescott: @katprescott77
Diego Boneta: @DiegoBoneta

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Role Mommy Writer's Network, in which I will be compensated for my time.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.

A Must Read for All Parents (Especially Those With Teens) -- 'Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust' (Review) #sponsored

 Disclosure:  This is a sponsored Role Mommy post in which I will be compensated for my time.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.

It has been a while since I have picked up a book today -- if I recall right, the last book I read was around Christmas.  So, when I was recently asked to read two books for a review/feature, I used this as an opportunity to get back into reading...and, boy, did I miss it!  

The first book I was sent to read, and was able to finish in a weekend was "Raising Kids to Thrive:  Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection With Trust" by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS ED, FAAP, along with Ilana Ginsburg and Talia Ginsburg, Dr. Ginsburg's teen daughters.  Unlike othert parenting books I have read, which are usually written from a parents point of view, this was included views by the author's daughters, as well as hundreds of other teens from across the country, on a multitude of topics.  From sharing their thoughts on love, trust, safety, honesty and independence, the reader (usually a parent) can see what teens think of these topics that parents find themselves struggling to fight a happy medium with, while also remaining the parent and enforcing the groundwork they are laying so that their children and grow and flourish.

Even though my girls are still young, I am finding books like this one extremely useful in how I parent.  I want them to feel like they can come to me whenever they have a problem or need direction, without feeling scared or embarressed.  

This book, along with research shared by Dr. Ginsburg and firsthand responses from teens and his daughters is helping me recognize that there is a time for parenting and a time for letting my girls experience things on their own in order to learn and build self-confidence.  I, for one, find it hard to loosen the reins and let the girls venture off on their own.  I feel that I need to be holding their hand or hovering over them, in case I have to step in and assist.  But, my girls, just like the teens who shared their thoughts in this book, tell me that they are "big girls" and can do things on their own.   Yes, boundaries are needed when you are parent and raising children (of all ages), but we have to also have faith in our kids and know that what we have instilled in them thus far, will allow them to learn life lessons on their own, without our hand holding.

About this book:

"…loving our kids unconditionally yet still hold high expectations for them; when love feels conditional (when parental affection is solely shown in response to grades, performance, or behaviors) kids experience an ever-present sense of pressure.
…Accept that our children (and adults) are “uneven" kids: the importance of expecting growth and not perfection from our children. 
….Holding our kids to high moral standards, while also being a role model for those standards.
….Recognizing and coping with stress.
...when to set boundaries and when to get out of kids’ way: how to set clear expectations about risky behaviors
…how to start meaningful conversations with our children by becoming a sounding board and not necessarily a dictator
reduce anxiety – for themselves and their kids – as they venture out on their own and move into adulthood

In his latest book --  Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust (American Academy of Pediatrics, March 24, 2015) -- best-selling author, pediatrician and resilience expert, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, offers essential tips on fostering resilience in teens.  He gently helps parents understand how they can meet the challenge to balance unconditional love, yet still hold high expectations for their children.  Through his “Lighthouse Parenting Strategy,” he also helps parents recognize when to set boundaries and when to get out of kids’ ways.
This groundbreaking book includes two chapters written by Dr. Ginsburg’s twin teenage daughters, and interweaves opinions and input of over 500 adolescents who participated in the “Youth View” chapters.  By combining the wealth of experience from Dr. Ginsburg and insightful commentary from today’s teenagers, Raising Kids to Thrive offers a fresh take on how to successfully parent teens in today’s complicated world.
Raising Kids to Thrive will help parents to raise kids who thrive for lifetime by:
  • Balancing unconditional love with high expectations.
  • Eliminate the need for helicopter or “tiger” parenting.
  • Start meaningful conversations with their children by being a sounding board, not necessarily a dictator.
  • Become a stable beacon so their children can turn to them for guidance and self-measurement.
  • Understand and accept that people are uneven and the importance of expecting growth, not perfection from children.
  • Reduce anxiety – for themselves and their kids – as they venture out on their own and move into adulthood.
  • Holding our kids to high moral standards, while also being a role model for those standards.
“People are uneven,” says Dr. Ginsburg. “Highly successful people are great at something, and their desire to explore other areas is what makes them interesting.” He adds, “We harm kids when we suggest that to make it in this world they must be good at absolutely everything.”"

The book itself is broken down into 4 parts.  The first part deals with unconditional love versus high expectations, which is comprised of seven chapters and a reflections and discussion at the end.  These chapters deal with setting expectations as a parent in such a way that kids will not feel stressed or anxious if they don't perform up to our standards, but can also be successful.

The second part is about "Protection Versus Learning From Life's Lessons, is also made up of seven chapters, followed by a reflection and discussion section.  This was the hardest part to read, and had be highlighting many points made by the author, as it dealt with learning the difference between protection and preparation.  It also talked about love boundaries and preparing children for a stressful world.  Kids want to rush to be adults as they feel they will have for freedoms, but they don't realize that being an adult carries more responsibilities and stress.  I personally liked the "Navigational Strategies" chapter, which dealt with ways to handle life's stressors, with useful tips and strategies, ranging from staying organized to self-care and even presentation and self-advocacy skills.

The third part, which was the shortest, but a real eye opener in regards to how our children see things, was titled, "The Voice of Youth."  The three chapters making up this section dealt with the youth perspective on love versus expectations and protection versus trust.  I can see this being a very important section for parents of tweens/teens to read, so that they can maybe rethink their parenting or expectations of their children.

The last part is titled "Rebooting: Moving Toward the Relationship You Hope to Have" has six chapters.  After reading the chapters I could see this section being one parents and children will want to read and then gather to talk about.  I know as a parent I want my children to have a healthy relationship with me and know they can turn to me for anything.  But, there will come times that they will rebel and think they have all the answers, and this is when communication is key.  Part 4 does an amazing job at sharing useful information for parents (and kids) about listening and talking, guiding your children to find their own solutions, as well as offering a space for change.  

If was I was to recommend one chapter out of the whole book to focus on, it would be the last chapter (chapter 23), which is for young people and deals with the first steps toward a better relationship with your parent.Kids will learn how to have a real conversation with their parents, when they need to apologize or how to regain trust, seeing your parents strengths and that they are looking out for your best interest, and most importantly listening and being open to criticism and direction.

Overall, I found this book to be very enlightening and one I wholeheartedly recommend to parents of children (of any age).  This is one book I will be keeping on my bookcase and pulling out time and again to reference when I find myself struggling to guide my girls or having that relationship I had hoped for with them.  Like I said earlier, I read this book in a weekend, as I couldn't put it down.  I found myself wanting to read on and learn ways to be a more successful parent to my girls.

The book is available to purchase right now in Kindle format for only $9.59 and as a paperback book from Amazon for only $13.56.  Click here to order now.  This book, which released on March 24th (this past week) is also available at bookstores nationwide and online as well as from, the award-winning AAP Web site for parents.


Kenneth R. Ginsburg, M.D., M.S. Ed, FAAP  is a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and a professor or pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He is also director of health services at Covenant House Pennsylvania. He has over 100 publications, including 30 scientific articles and 5 books including the award-winning / best-selling  Building Resilience in Children and Teens (American Academy of Pediatrics). He drafted the AAP policy statement on The Power of Play and has been an expert source for several prominent parenting news articles and reports in media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, TIME Magazine, ABC News, Yahoo! Parenting, NBC News and CNN. He is working with The Boys and Girls Clubs of America to incorporate resilience-building strategies into their programming. He is also honored to be working with military parents and professionals to incorporate stress reduction and resilience building strategies into the lives of our nearly 2 million military-affiliated children. His greatest privilege is to be a husband and the father of two teenaged daughters.
 Disclosure:  This is a sponsored Role Mommy post in which I will be compensated for my time.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.