Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day Gift Must Haves


If your husband is like mine, when it comes time to buy a gift for Valentine's Day, he doesn't know what to get.  So, usually I will receive the standard card, flowers and chocolate.  If only he knew what we really wanted.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing products and services that would make great Valentine's Day gifts.  Not only will you have a chance to win these great gifts, but you can also print out the review or company website and leave it where your husband can see it.  A little subtle hint works wonders.  And, as an added bonus, many of the products and services I will be highlighting will have coupon codes to use.  So, if your husband is frugal, like mine, he will be happy to know he will save $$$, while getting you a gift you truly want.
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Virtual Baby Shower -- Gift Giving Guide






Starting next week (February 8th), I will be sharing great gift ideas for new and expecting moms.  Many wonderful vendors have sent me products to reviews, that any mommy would love to have or receive as a gift.  And, many of these products and services will be offered as giveaways to my loyal readers.  So, if you are expecting, just became a mom or grandma, or need to find the perfect gift for a friend or family member's upcoming baby shower, check back daily for some of the must have items, and some you never knew existed.


Do you have a must-have baby gift and want me to review and share with my readers?  If so, drop me an email at rmccoy1234 at gmail dot com, and let me know.
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Spotlight on Mommy Post -- Kim of Hope Loves Cards



This week our Spotlight Mommy is Kim of Hope Loves Cards, an online Etsy stationary store.  I just love handmade cards, and fell in love with Kim's store and product offerings, which include stationery, party invitations, thank you notes, note cards, labels and pocket mirrors! Kim also offers custom orders, and is looking forward to working with you to create something extra special!  All of Kim's stationary items are embellished with hand applied glitter accents, and she does all of the desigining, printing and cutting in house, so you receive your orders quickly.

Don't forget to stop back to my blog on Friday, where I will feature Kim's store and products further.  In addition, Kim will be offering one lucky reader a chance to win a $25.00 gift certificate to use in her store.  I will also be providing a 20% off coupon code for everyone.  Why not make a statement this Valentine's Day with a handmade card from Hope Loves Cards?

---

Company Name/Product/Service:  Hope Loves Cards/Stationery with "Person"ality
Company Location: Clayton, NC
Company Website:  http://www.hopelovescards.etsy.com
Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/hopelovescards
Twitter Handle: @ hopelovescards
Age of Company:  1 year           
Favorite Inspirational Quotes:  When life gives you lemons...make lemonade!
Favorite Book:   Pinkalicious


Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.:

I have a wonderful daughter, Kathryn Hope, who is almost six years old.  I live in Clayton, North Carolina, which is just outside of Raleigh.  I love creating just about anything and take great pride in sending beautiful thank you notes!

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?: 

My daughter loves to draw, especially mermaids.  My business came about as a creative way to make things and spend extra time with Kathryn.  She is the one that decided that glitter needed to be added to my creations.  After searching around on Etsy for a couple of days and seeing all of the handmade creations,   I was totally hooked and knew that I needed to start creating personalized stationery.  Kathryn always likes seeing her image (the little girl with the ponytail) and I am always proud to pull out a notecard and send a special "little Kathryn" to everyone we know.
 
What is a typical work day like?


I work full time in retail - so my days are crazy.  Typically I get up between 5-6 in the morning and check emails and respond to convos that have been sent to my Etsy shop.  I help my husband get Kathryn off to school around 7:30.  Then, if I work in the morning, it's a shower and off to work until about 5:30.  I check emails and answer convos on my lunch break.  Then, I get home around 6:30-7 and spend a couple of hours with Kathryn.  She goes to bed around 8:30pm, then I go straight to my guest bedroom and work on proofs for customers, orders that need to go out the next day, I have all of the cards that need to go out spread across my desk, dining room table, and kitchen table so the glitter has time to dry, and then I go to bed around 12:30.  Then the next morning I get up, assemble all of the glittered cards and get them off to the post office!

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?

The biggest struggle for me is getting my stationery seen.  I am currently working on getting my stationery in retail stores so that I can gain additional exposure locally.  Also, funding for my stationery business can be challenging.  For the first several months for every order I had there was something that I didn't have to finish it - so I spent more than I made at first, but once I found suppliers for my envelopes and a good source for glitter, paper, and boxes things got much easier! 

What did you do in your past work life?:

I have always worked in retail.
 
What have been some of your major successes?:


This month, January 2011, I have started seeing an increase in sales.  I am extremely happy to see all of the business!  I also have someone working one a new box for my stationery - which will hopefully be very successful!
 
What have been some of your major challenges?
:

The biggest challenge for me has been funding.  When looking back on my business this past year, I would love to have had more money set aside to offset the time that it takes to be seen by customers. 

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?  I am motivated by knowing that I have great stationery that brings joy to people.  Whenever someone leaves me an email that they have received the order and that it was perfect, it makes me smile!  Also, I have a goal that someone that doesn't know me personally, will send me one of my cards as a thank you, without knowing that I created the card.  Wouldn't that be terrific!
 
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?:


Find a business that you can share with your child!  My company is named after my daughter, and she loves what I do.  For every order that I have, Kathryn gets one of them to draw on and keep.  She has one of every invitation I have created, one sheet of every notepad, one note card and she really enjoys doodling mermaids on them!  If you can combine your business and your family, it makes it easier.  Kathryn helps me on the computer and is always quick to ask if she can "send" convos by hitting the reply button.  It is quite funny!

What is next for your business?:

My business is branching out from it's Etsy roots and will hopefully be seen in retails locations in North Carolina within the next couple of months.  I would love to see my stationery sitting on shelves in boutiques and speciality stores throughout the United States by 2012.
 
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?:


Just find your niche.  Make sure that your business is something that you can see yourself doing five, ten, fifteen years down the road.  Have funding ready so that you can have all necessary equipment and supplies.  Be prepared for what you will do when your orders come in really quick.  Do you have the ability to get it done in time!  Plan ahead and don't be afraid to hire someone to do the things that you don't like to do - for example, I hate the record keeping so I find someone who can do it for me!  Remember that you can't do everything and be the best!  That keeps me doing what I love, which is cutting paper and adding glitter sparkles!
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Mother of All Ideas Contest -- $2500 Prize for Mom Entrepreneurs

 

Tell us your dream! Owning your own business? Writing a book? Creating a revolutionary product or service that will make life easier for others? The Mommy MD Guides want to help make your dream a reality!

Motherhood necessitates invention, and the Mommy MD Guides are pleased to announce our first annual Mother of All Ideas Contest. Our $2,500 grand prize will help you take your brilliant idea from Mom to Marketplace.

We’re looking to find the best Mom idea—that’s an idea by a mom, for moms. Beginning on January 15, 2011, we invite Mom Entrepreneurs to email us telling us about your great ideas. They could be products that are on the market or products in development. The concept doesn’t have to be totally new. For instance, it is entirely possible to create a better bottle warmer, or a better diaper.

The deadline for entries is 5 pm EST July 15, 2011. Then our Mommy MD Guides team will select 10 Mommy Entrepreneur finalists. We’ll post those 10 finalists and their ideas here on this page and then invite our readers to vote for the Mother of All Ideas, by email through September 1, 2011. We’ll announce the winner on Mommy MD Guides Day, September 15, 2011, here on MommyMDGuides.com and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Mother of All Ideas Contest Grand Prize

It takes far more than money to make your dream come true. In addition to your passion and persistence, you’ll need encouragement, empowerment, accountability, and sound business advice. In addition to the $2,500 cash prize, the winner of the Mother of All Ideas Contest will receive the following.

Business coaching: You’ll have access to a panel of Mommy Entrepreneur Guides, women who have successfully launched and run their own businesses.
Branding and messaging: We’ll work with you to develop a brand and a message for your great idea.
Logo design: The graphic artists at the Mommy MD Guides will help you design the perfect logo for your brand. (Keep in mind that if you’re an aspiring author, you are your brand!)
Press release: We’ll help you to design and develop a powerful, attention-getting press release for your new company, book, product, or service.
Public relations and marketing advice: We’ll give you tips from the PR team at the Mommy MD Guides,
• A feature story on MommyMDGuides.com, with a link to your website.
• Free advertising on MommyMDGuides.com for one year, on our main Recommended Products page.

The Mother of All Ideas Contest Entry

Email jenniferreich@mommymdguides.com with the subject line “Mother of All Ideas Contest Entry.” Tell us the following.

• Your name
• Your city and state
• The number of kids you have and their ages
• Your great idea and its status: Is it a product in development or already for sale?
• Your plans are for the prize: We won’t hold you to this, of course, but we think that our readers will find this crucial when voting for our winner.

To select our finalists, we might request that you send us a product sample to review. After we review the products, we will donate them to local women’s and children’s centers.

Know a Mommy Entrepreneur who should know about the Mother of All Ideas Contest? Please help us spread the word!

The Mother of All Ideas Contest Rules

The Mother of All Ideas Contest is open to United States residents, over the age of majority. The odds of winning will depend on number of eligible entries. Limit one vote per nominee per email address. There is one prize available to be won of $2,500. No purchase necessary.

By the submission of the entry email and product samples, Entrant agrees to the following:

• Entrant company, or its duly authorized representative, certifies that all information submitted in the Entry Form is true.
• Entrant understands and agrees that the Mommy MD Guides have the right to grant or not grant awards in its sole and absolute discretion, which Entrant agrees not to challenge in any forum or setting, whether public or private.
• Entrant certifies that each product that it submits to the Mother of All Ideas Contest complies with all mandatory and voluntary safety standards.
• Entrant understands and agrees that: (a) any review that the Mommy MD Guides conduct will be limited solely to the guidelines and general criteria outlined herein for the sole benefit of the Mother of All Ideas Contest; and (b) the Mommy MD Guides’ review, analysis, commentary, and/or the grant of an award shall under no circumstances be deemed to constitute any opinion, representation, or warranty as to the safety of the products by any at the Mommy MD Guides, its officers, trustees, directors, agents, and employees.
• Entrant agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Mommy MD Guides as well as all of its officers, trustees, directors, agents, employees, successors and assigns, from and against any and all Damages and Claims. “Damages and Claims” are understood and agreed to mean: (a) damages caused by products submitted to the Mother of All Ideas Contest; and (b) claims, demands, causes of action, debts, liabilities, losses or costs (including but not limited to lawyers’ fees and costs), however designated, that relate to the products Entrant has submitted to the Mother of All Ideas Contest and/or any awards granted by the Mommy MD Guides to the Entrant.
• Under no circumstances shall the Mommy MD Guides be liable to any party on account of use of the products submitted. Such limitation of liability shall apply to prevent recovery of direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special and exemplary damages, arising from any of use of the products submitted.
• Entrant certifies to the Mommy MD Guides that its submission does not infringe upon any other party’s intellectual property rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you going to steal my great idea?  Absolutely not! It’s our goal to help Mommy Entrepreneurs succeed, and in bringing some of these great ideas to light, we want to help to bring them to life! We’re only asking for general information on the entry email, and we will give the 10 finalists the chance to review and approve the text we publish on MommyMDGuides.com before we post it.
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Purex Complete Crystals Review and Giveaway


CLOSED



And, the winner is....



Kimberly








A couple months ago I applied to be apart of the Purex Insiders Program, and have the opportunity to try out new and exciting products from Purex.  I was so excited to recieve an email after the holidays, informing me that I was selected to be apart of this program, and that they would be sending me a new product to try out.  Purex wanted me to review their new product called Purex Complete Crystals. 

So, I patiently waited to receive my sample to try.  It finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say, I was impressed by the packaging.  The Purex Complete Crystals bottle came enclosed in a nice blue box.  This was the same packaging Purex used to share this product with major women's print publications, as well as Oprah and the Rachel Ray show.  I couldn't wait to try out this new product, but at the same time didn't want to take it out of the box.  It looked so pretty.  If I didn't know they were laundry crystals, they could have passed for a fancy bottle of bath crystals.




But, I had to review the product and share my post with you, so over the weekend, I tried out the Purex Complete Crystals.  It was so easy to use.  All you had to do is pour the crystals into the washer, at the beginning of the wash cycle.  After the wash was complete, and I opened the lid, I was amazed at how nice the clothes smelled.  What a great scent -- not too strong, like many laundry products on the market.  The fresh scent lasted even through the dryer cycle.  My husband even commented on how the clothes smelled great and asked if I was using a new product.








Purex included a fact sheet with the product test kit, and I was happy to see that Purex Complete Crystals is not oil based, and is sage to use on children's sleepwear, as they don't impair the flame retardant treatment present in children's sleepwear.  Having a newborn at home, I am very selective on the laundry products I use.  And, after this positive experience, I have now added Purex Complete Crystals to my laundry regimen.



Buy it now! Purex Complete Crystals are priced for around $3.99-$5.99 for a 28 ounce bottle, that will do 32 loads of laundry.

Win it!  I am excited to offer a free product coupon to one lucky reader, thanks to Purex

Good luck!

---GIVEAWAY---

Mandatory Entry:  Tell me why you want to try out Purex Complete Crystals.


Make sure to include an email address in your comment, so I can contact you if you win.

Extra Entries:

1)  Subscribe to my blog via email (2 entries)

2)  Follow me on Facebook (1 entry) 

3) Enter any of my other giveaways, leaving a comment with the name of the giveaway (1entry per giveaway entered)

4) Blog about this Giveaway. It must include a link to this specific post, as well as a link to my blog, http://ctmomreviews.blogspot.com/.   (In your comment, please leave a link directly to your post – 5 Entries)

5) Follow me on Twitter (1entry)

6)  Follow Purex on Twitter, and copy/paste this tweet about the giveaway. Please include a link to your tweet. (You can tweet this message once daily, for one extra entry per day)

Enter to #win @Purex Giveaway @rmccoy1234 @
http://ctmomreviews.blogspot.com/ #giveaways ends 2/4

7)  Like SoothEaze (my company website) on Facebook! Please include your Facebook name with your entry, so I can follow you back. (4 entries)

8) Like Purex on Facebook, and leave a comment letting them know Inspired by Savannah sent you, including link to giveaway. (2 Entries)

9) Follow my blog via Networked Blogs (3 entries)

10) Vote for me on picket fence blogs. (One Entry per vote, per day -- see right hand side of blog for link to vote)

Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends February 4, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be drawn using random.org the following day and announced on this blog, as well as emailed. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or a new winner will be drawn.


Disclosure: Purex provided me with a sample of Purex Complete Crystals to try out for this review, as well as coupons to use for my giveaway. The views and comments stated above are mine and mine alone, and were not swayed by Purex.  No compensation was received for this blog post.
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Feature Friday -- Francesca Baby -- Review and Giveaway

CLOSED

And the winner is...




Congrats, to Outofthoughts









On Monday I introduced you to Sally, owner of Francesca Baby.  Today, I am going to share more about her Etsy store and what she has to offer.  If you haven’t had a chance to read Sally’s Spotlight on Mommy post, click here to read it now.

Like I said on Monday, Sally has been a professional seamstress for years, so she offers professional quality products that are loved by moms and babies alike.  Sally was kind enough to send me a set of bandana bibs to try out with Savannah Rose.  These bibs came in handy as Savannah has been teething and drooling all over the place lately.  If I don’t have a bib on her at all times, the collars around her outfits get soaked within minutes.  What I love most about Sally’s bandana bibs is that they make your child look fashionable, while protecting their clothing from drool and formula spillage.  Now, Savannah can show off her fancy outfits with a fashionable and chic bandana.  Another plus about these bibs is that all of the fabrics Sally uses are preshrunk, machine washable and have completely enclosed seams, so when I put them through the washer and dryer, they come out in great condition.  There is no fading, shrinkage or frayed strings.  I have had to toss other bibs as they began to fray or shrink after just a few washes. These bibs are also lined with oh so soft minky, and have a snap closure.

Here are some photos of Sally’s bandana bibs she has for sale in her Etsy store.



In addition to making bandana bibs, Sally also offers onesies, blankets, dresses, knit hats, leg warmers, wet bags, nursing covers and strap covers.  So, as you can see, Francesca Baby is your one stop shop for high quality gifts for babies.  Take a look at some of my favorite items from Sally’s shop.











If any of the above products catch your eye, I am happy to offer a 20% off coupon code thanks to Sally.  All you have to do is enter SFW20 at checkout.  This coupon code will only be valid for a limited time, so act now and head over and place your order at Francesca Baby today. If you stumble upon a product that you must have, but it isn't the color or pattern of your choice, drop Sally a message or fill out her online custom order request form, and she will work with you on making it just right.

And, now for the giveaway...

Sally has graciously offered a prize from her Etsy shop.  The winner of this contest will be able to select an item of their choice, including the bandana bib sets.  Dresses, however, are excluded. 
 
---GIVEAWAY---



Mandatory Entry:  Go to Francesca Baby and tell me your favorite item.


Make sure to include an email address in your comment, so I can contact you if you win.

Extra Entries:

1)  Subscribe to my blog via email (2 entries)

2)  Follow me on Facebook (1 entry) 

3) Enter any of my other giveaways, leaving a comment with the name of the giveaway (1entry per giveaway entered)

4) Blog about this Giveaway. It must include a link to this specific post, as well as a link to my blog, http://ctmomreviews.blogspot.com/.   (In your comment, please leave a link directly to your post – 5 Entries)

5) Follow me on Twitter (1entry)

6)  Tweet about this givewaway.  You can cut and paste the following (You can tweet this message once daily, for one extra entry per day):

Enter to #win Francesca Baby Giveaway @rmccoy1234 @
http://ctmomreviews.blogspot.com/ #giveaways ends 2/4

7)  Like SoothEaze (my company website) on Facebook! Please include your Facebook name with your entry, so I can follow you back. (4 entries)

8) Add Francesca Baby to your Favorites on Etsy (3 entries)

9) Follow my blog via Networked Blogs (3 entries)

10) Vote for me on picket fence blogs. (One Entry per vote, per day -- see right hand side of blog for link to vote)

Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends February 4, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be drawn using random.org the following day and announced on this blog, as well as emailed. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or a new winner will be drawn.


Disclosure: Sally of Francesca Baby provided me with a sample set of bandana bibs to try out for this review, as well as giveaway prize for my readers. The views and comments stated above are mine and mine alone.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Python Printable Mardi Gras Games Product Review

href="http://www.tomoson.com/?code=TOP6111d0bb6f0c295edd4fd332d23328d5">



Last week I shared my review for Python's Superbowl Games Pack. Since then, I had the opportunity to review Python's Mardi Gras Games Pack. The game pack includes the following 20 printables:

Printable Mardi Gras Party invitations
Mad Libs
I Did It For Love
Meet Your Match
Ice-Breaker
Masquerade
Left-Right Gift Exchange
Five Trivia games
Newlywed Questions game
Synonyms word game
Puzzles placemat
Paper dolls
Spot the Difference for kids
Naughty or Nice food game for kids
Scavenger hunt for kids
Printable masks for children

Topics the trivia games cover:
Louisiana, Beers of the World, Mardi Gras Trivia, Champagne, History of Jazz

The quality of these printables are great and offer something for all age groups. You can use this Mardi Gras Games pack not just at Mardi Gras, but for a Mardi Gras birthday or masked ball-themed party!

At just $19.95, this pack takes care of all your Mardi Gras entertainment needs. There are no shipping and handling fees to pay, as you can instantly download the games to use now or later.  And, if you need to print out more because you either misplaced a set of games or have unexpected guests, no problem.  Just log back in and print as many printables as you need, at no additional cost.  It is that easy!






If you want to check out the superb quality of Python's party game packs, click here to access their FREE printables page.

This is the perfect addition to your Mardi Gras Celebration.  Don't waste time trying to figure out how to entertain your guests.  Let Python do the game planning for you!  They are just a click away.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using href="http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOM6111d0bb6f0c295edd4fd332d23328d5">Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson href="http://www.tomoson.com">Product review & href="http://www.tomoson.com">giveaway Disclosure.
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The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz Book Review







Summary: 

Beauty is sometimes found in the most unlikely places.
George Jacobs and his childhood sweetheart were just kids living in small-town Levy, SC, when the train brought the evil to town. Now eighty years later, George and Maggie are married, living out their remaining days in Harmony House where time moves slowly--Maggie can no longer communicate her love and George can hardly remember their past. But when a large package arrives and an old stranger moves into Harmony House, their past won't remain at bay any longer. Like it or not, George must now remember things from long ago in order to set himself--and his sweet wife--free. But George isn't sure how many lives were affected by the stranger in Levy . . . or why life must come full-circle now when he's running out of time.

The Inheritance of Beauty is an entrancing story about beauty and age, about the blessings and curses of each, and how the true beauty of a person never fades.
Source: (Book Sneeze)

My Review:

4 stars out of 5 –

Nicole Seitz has done an excellent job with this book.  The story is told through the eyes of her characters – Magnolia, who is a mute, her husband, George, who is frail and insecure, Annie, their caring caretaker and Joe, the lonely prodigy.  The reader, through Seitz’s words, is able to differentiate between each character, and feel they are witnessing the plot as it unfold and relieve each of the character’s past.  I love how Seitz writes in the Southern dialect and makes this book feel like a good ‘ole Southern story of love.  

This book is full of encouragement, faith and shows the true beauty of a person.  Each of the characters learn to overcome the many ups and downs that an average person goes through in their life.  Seitz’s work shows that even though we each go through hardships in life, that we must face them head on, in order to make things right and see the true beauty in people.  The Inheritance of Beauty is truly an inspiration book, and tugs at your heart strings.  If you are looking for a good book, where you relate to the characters, this is the book for you.  

About the Author:

Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Low country native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.


Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
                            
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartók Book Review



Summary of Book:

 “ People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,” Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship between Mira, her sister, and their mentally ill mother. Before she was struck with schizophrenia at the age of nineteen, beautiful piano protégé Norma Herr had been the most vibrant personality in the room. She loved her daughters and did her best to raise them well, but as her mental state deteriorated, Norma spoke less about Chopin and more about Nazis and her fear that her daughters would be kidnapped, murdered, or raped.
When the girls left for college, the harassment escalated—Norma called them obsessively, appeared at their apartments or jobs, threatened to kill herself if they did not return home. After a traumatic encounter, Mira and her sister were left with no choice but to change their names and sever all contact with Norma in order to stay safe. But while Mira pursued her career as an artist—exploring the ancient romance of Florence, the eerie mysticism of northern Norway, and the raw desert of Israel—the haunting memories of her mother were never far away.
Then one day, Mira’s life changed forever after a debilitating car accident. As she struggled to recover from a traumatic brain injury, she was confronted with a need to recontextualize her life—she had to relearn how to paint, read, and interact with the outside world. In her search for a way back to her lost self, Mira reached out to the homeless shelter where she believed her mother was living and discovered that Norma was dying.
Mira and her sister traveled to Cleveland, where they shared an extraordinary reconciliation with their mother that none of them had thought possible. At the hospital, Mira discovered a set of keys that opened a storage unit Norma had been keeping for seventeen years. Filled with family photos, childhood toys, and ephemera from Norma’s life, the storage unit brought back a flood of previous memories that Mira had thought were lost to her forever.
The Memory Palace is a breathtaking literary memoir about the complex meaning of love, truth, and the capacity for forgiveness among family. Through stunning prose and original art created by the author in tandem with the text, The Memory Palace explores the connections between mother and daughter that cannot be broken no matter how much exists—or is lost—between them.
(Source: Goodreads)

About the Author:

Mira Bartók is a Chicago-born artist and writer and the author of twenty-eight books for children. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies and has been noted in The Best American Essays series. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she runs Mira’s List (http://www.miraslist.blogspot.com), a blog that helps artists find funding and residencies all over the world. The Memory Palace is Mira’s first book for adults.  You can find her at: www.thememorypalace.com.
 Details
·        Hardcover: 320 pages
·        Publisher: Free Press (January 11, 2011)
·        Language: English
·        ISBN-10: 1439183317
·        ISBN-13: 978-1439183311



My Personal Review:

I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5.  It is not a book to grab, if you are looking for a quick and easy read.  I ended up spending 4 days on this book, as I would stop and reflect on what I had read before reading further.  This is a true story, and follows Mira on her journey of forgiveness with her mother.  Mira’s book shows the reader the true meaning of truth, love and the capacity for forgiveness.  Both Mira and her sister show extreme courage in how each of them deal with their mother and the situations that unfold in their lives growing up.  I loved how Mira was able to take the reader through her childhood memories, based on objects and journals that belonged to her mentally ill mother.  It was not until their mother was on her deathbed that Mira and her sister were able to reunite with her and truly forgive her.  Please note that the portion of the book that deals with Mira’s mother’s death is written as though it is happening while you are reading it.  This was a tough part to read, and left me in tears.  It is written so sincerely and without reservation.  If you like personal memoirs, I would highly suggest you picking up The Memory Palace. 

Disclosure: This review is posted in conjunction with The Free Press Blog Tour. I received a free copy of this memoir in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Story Time For Me Review and FREE Giveaway






I had the opportunity to try out Story Time For Me the other day, and was pleasantly surprised with the selection of online storybooks for children. I sat down with Savannah and we read through a handful of book this site had to offer. Our favorites were:




The illustrations and sound quality were excellent, and I loved how the reading pace was set, so that I can read along if needed, and not feel rushed to finish a sentence. Also, the average story is 2 minutes in length, so you can view a few books in one sitting. If you haven’t had an opportunity to try out online storybooks, this is the perfect website to start with. There are 30 free books ready to read, with more being added. And, if you “Like” them on Facebook, you will be entered into a monthly raffle to win a personalized children’s book. What are you waiting for? Click here to receive 2 free books, to try out for yourself today. You are able to choose between 3 series.  Each series is broken down into age appropriate reading level books. So, no more guessing if a book is right for your child's age.
 


Don’t forget to come back and leave a comment letting me know which book is your favorite.  And, if you want to create a special book for that special someone, why not get a personalized book.  Check out their website for more information.  I like how you can incorporate even a baby crawling into the book.







More About Story Time For Me:

Story Time For Me is the creation of Andrew Gitt, a self-made entrepreneur and father of four. As parents of young children, Andrew and his wife were startled by the fact that the average child watches TV four hours per day, and will have witnessed 8,000 murders and 200,000 violent acts by their teens. And the fact that TV viewing, video gaming, and net surfing outplace reading as a “fun” activity among young children is what motivated Andrew to develop an alternative form of children’s entertainment that would also be educational. He assembled a team of children’s literary experts and multi-media specialists; the result was the formation of Story Time For Me.

Our purpose is to provide a unique and fun learning experience for toddlers all the way up through 2nd grade school aged children. We want kids to see that reading can be just as fun (if not more!) than watching TV and playing video games. We believe that by providing superior stories with award winning illustrations, unique animation, and professionally read narration enhanced with music and sound effects, Story Time For Me will bring back the magic in reading.

Our goal is not simply to turn kids onto reading, but to stimulate their imagination and creativity through the unique activities that accompany each story. Our stories were developed to teach wholesome values through positive, moral themes. All the Story Time For Me stories focus on socially relevant and family oriented issues, and the post-story prompts promote discussion between child and parent.

Andrew hopes to bring Story Time For Me into every household, school and library across the globe in all countries where English is spoken or taught.

(Source: http://www.storytimeforme.com/about-us)



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.
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