Monday, January 30, 2012

You Trust Me, You Really Trust Me

After my surgery in 2010 I started up a Facebook page called Helping Hands where I informed my community that I was looking for work. No job too big, or two small! Babysitting, cleaning, packing, organizing, painting, errands, whatever. Thankfully a few moms have taken me up on this. My fee is relatively small, only $7.50 an hour but some money is better than no money and I needed it to be an amount that was comfortable for my community.

So far, my jobs have all been in the babysitting area. Completely fine because I love kids. What I love the most about this is how I know they trust me. Trust means everything. It means you can count on this person to do right by you, take care of your needs and in their abilities. You can count on them!

I believe the reason this means so much to me is because I never felt like I could count on someone. My mother died when I was 12, my father abandoned us, my grandmother didn't protect me, my grandfather molested me, etc.,. I know I can count on my husband, it wasn't always that way and in his defense I never let him be there. I felt that I had to rely on myself because that was how I protected myself.  There was no one else to fall back on growing up, it was all me.

When I hear my friends say, they trust me, that I am good with their kids, or even them giving my name to another friend as a potential person to watch their kids I am thrilled. I get all fuzzy and warm inside. For someone to give me their children, their most prized possession, really says something. Oddly enough, there are people who have absolutely no problems handing their children off to just about anyone. I am not one of these people, my kids have been left with three people about a hand full of times in the past 8 years. It isn't something I do often and while I do have someone I completely trust (Clary), I don't do it often but I would trust her with my kids as much as myself.

Today, my girlfriend Carissa called and asked if I was around because her little one was sick and she had to get her medicine, and get some quick groceries but didn't want to take the baby with her. Heading there, I had thought how awesome it is that she called. She has options and it feels good to know she trusts me.  I know as a mom, leaving your sick kid is hard enough even if it is with your spouse.

Her baby slept the whole time. I sat on the laptop with her dogs at my feet, watching the baby toss and turn while she slept. She never even knew I was there. Carissa called from the road and offered to buy me lunch. People are just so kind! She was paying me to watch her sleeping baby and buying me lunch?! Not a bad gig. I  helped her take her groceries in and removed them from the bags mostly because she is a friend but because I know as a working mom with a sick baby, she has to be exhausted.

Wednesday, I am watching another friends baby. I hate charging for my services. As a friend, I would watch their children for free if things were different. Time is money and with a huge medical debt over my head, I need to charge for my time.

Thankfully they completely understand!

What do you do for extra money?

To Kill A Mockingbird Is A Real Classic! Blu-ray & DVD Tomorrow

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel was translated to film in 1962 by Horton Foote and the producer/director team of Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula. Barnes and Noble has some promotional deals on the classics, in book or DVD.

Proclaimed one of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time by the American Film Institute, To Kill A Mockingbird is now available as a 2-disc set. Hollywood icon Gregory Peck won the Best Actor Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal of the courageous but understated hero Atticus Finch. The film, based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction, captured the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. To Kill A Mockingbird boasts Robert Duvall's screen debut as Boo Radley and Mary Badham's unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance as Miss Jean Louise "Scout" Finch. Watch it and remember why "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, John Megna, Frank Overton, Brock Peters, Rosemary Murphy, Collin Wilcox, James Anderson, Robert Duvall
Directed by: Robert Mulligan

Run Time: 2 Hours and 10 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated (N/A)

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English), DTS 5.1 Surround (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

Black & White


Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech

American Film Institute Life Achievement Award

Excerpt From Academy Tribute to Gregory Peck

Scout Remembers

Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula

Theatrical Trailer

Production Notes

Disc 2: Bonus Disc
  • Run Time: 0 Hours and 0 Minutes
  • Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
  • Color
  • Bonus:
  • A Conversation with Gregory Peck
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird

The 411 by Maria:
Unlike a lot of my friends, I don't recall having to read this book in school but then again, that was a long time ago. If I am going to watch or read something, I don't like to read the synopsis so I had no idea what the movie was about when I started.

The movie is set in the 1930's and focus on Atticus Finch played magnificently by Gregory Peck and his two children, Jem and Scout (more on them later). Atticus is a respected attorney who has been commissioned to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a woman in her own home.

What I Can Tell You:
Wow, where do I start. I was completely floored with this movie. Gregory Peck performance is completely stunning! The fact that he won best actor for the role was not lost on me, completely worthy of it and one of the best acting I have ever seen. However, after seeing some of the bonus features, I believe he was pretty much playing himself!  A gentle, kind soul, whose thoughtfulness and mannerisms bring out the best in those around him. He allows, after a gentle nudge to make their own assumptions and mistakes in life in hopes of becoming a better person.

The actress who played Scout was unbelievably "real". You would never believe that this child was not Gregory Peck's daughter. There is real love there and I was in awe of how much acting had to be done. Most emotions were seen not heard. Without the use of a soundtrack and a whole lot of dialogue these actors really have to ACT! You can hear everything. The actors are not bogged down with dialogue, the scene is set, and you act!

The quietness of the whole movie is really what got me. When I discussed it with people after watching, those who have seen or have not, that was what I mentioned most. I appreciated the quietness. For such a sensitive subject matter, I felt that if this was being done today, the deepness of it would be lost in translation.

I have so many favorite scenes:
  • Scout saying goodnight to her father and asking what he has to pass on to her when he is gone.
  • Brock Peters taking the stand. His emotion was so real! 
  • Atticus speaking to his children. He is such a gentle, caring man who obviously loves his children.
  • Scout and Jem's relationship. Anytime they were on the screen I was in love. 
  • Scout talking to the gang who headed to the jail to take the law in their own hands. Her innocence was palpable. 
  • Scout talking to Boo Radley after he helped her and her brother.
If you do get the Blu-ray, take time to watch the bonus features. Truly a blessing to have this footage. Well worth your time.

To Kill a Mockingbird won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Peck), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction. Truly a classic and one that everyone should watch.  This is when acting was actually acting. No green screens, no classy soundtracks, no glamorous special effects, just acting at its finest.

To Purchase: 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from Universal Studios for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spiritus by Dana Michelle Burnett - Book Review

I love being a book reviewer. Beside the awesome free reads (and believe me, this is great), there are some awesome writers who become favorite, go to authors when I am looking for a book, a gift, or during girlfriend discussions. In the past few years as a reviewer, I have read some awesome books. Books that may never have been on my radar, and that would have been a shame because I have absolutely loved so many of them.

This week I was reading Spiritus by Dana Michelle Burnett about an eternal love affair. An undying love that withstood even death. 

When Becca moves into her ancestral home in Corydon, Indiana, her life takes a puzzling and thrilling turn when she meets the ghost haunting the halls. As the seductive spirit lures her closer and closer, she learns about her own past and starts to understand that some mistakes are meant to last.

Becca McAllister has always been different from other girls her age. Never part of the "in crowd", Becca never really fit in anywhere. When her mother dies and her father moves them to the small town of Corydon, Indiana, Becca didn't expect things to change.

But things do change when Becca accidentally makes contact with a one hundred and sixty year old ghost, Alastor Sinclair, that haunts the halls of her new home.
To Becca, Alastor is a seductive spirit that seems to see straight into her soul. To Alastor, Becca is what he was waited a century for--A second chance.

But the closer they get, the more Becca realizes that this isn't the first time she and Alastor have known each other. Worse still, is she the one responsible for his death so long ago? And if so, did he come back for love or revenge?

The 411 by Maria Gagliano

Wow...awesome! I loved it.
Spiritus is about a girl named Becca who moves into her father's families house. A house he grew up in and was in his family for ages. He promised himself that he would eventually purchase it for himself when he was older. Becca's mom passed away so they are on their own trying to find a new normal. What's normal about finding a man standing in her bedroom one night watching her sleep only to have him disappear moments later?

Becca starts her new school with everyone else, makes friends easily, has the cutest boy in school talking to her, and after a seance with her new friends suddenly finds herself with her own private ghost friend.

Alastor Sinclair loves Becca, he has loved her for years and has returned to her. One problem, she doesn't remember their life and he can never come back.

Becca and Alastor's love story borders on obsession like most young relationships. Dana, did a great job of twisting and weaving a different kind of romance story. You have Science Fiction, Young Adult, Historical Romance all mixed into one. 

The ending alludes to a part 2 and I can't wait to see how Alastor and Becca find ways to be together. Kudos to Dana for writing an interesting YA book that is completely different. You will find yourself sucked right in from chapter 1.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums Anti-Gingivitis Rinse Giveaway

The Natural Dentist was created by a dentist! Doesn't that just say it all! We hear more and more how  much our oral health contributes to our overall health. As a mom, I want to be around as long as possible for my children. I want to take care of myself the  best I can and if using a rinse on my teeth can help me, I am soooo there.

Gingivitis is due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits, and it is often painless, so bleeding gums may be your only symptom until it has progressed further along (other symptoms are swollen/tender gums, receding gums, and/or persistent bad breath). Luckily, one of the early warning signs of the gum inflammation IS the bleeding you see when you brush or floss, so it is your body’s way of telling you something’s not right. If you have a family history of this issue or notice bleeding when you brush or floss, you should schedule a dental visit to evaluate your condition, as well as take steps at home by adding The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums Anti-Gingivitis Rinse to your oral care regimen.

The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums Mouth Rinse is clinically proven to:

• Reduce and prevent bleeding gums

• Protects against gingivitis

• Kill germs

• Reduces plaque

• Freshens breath

• Contains Aloe Vera gel as its active ingredient to help prevent bleeding gums

• Also contains other natural medicinal components such as Echinacea, goldenseal, calendula, and grapefruit seed extract that help calm gum inflammation

The Natural Dentist line is powered by nature, proven by science. The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums Anti-Gingivitis Rinse DOES NOT contain alcohol or artificial ingredients, making it natural and healthy for your mouth. However, unlike other natural products, The Natural Dentist tests its products in controlled studies. Universities, oral care experts, periodontists, and dental hygienists continually evaluate the products, ingredients and effectiveness. The Natural Dentist products are not tested on animals; research is conducted with human volunteers and laboratory tests. View research studies, publications and abstracts at
The 411 by Maria:
I have never (knock on wood) had a big problem with my gums but know as I get older there will be more issues with my teeth especially with less than yearly dental visits. Without insurance and with the kids teeth being more important than mine, taking care of my teeth and gums is imperative to my overall health.

Over the past week, I have used the Healthy Gums wash. The taste is very sweet and to use this once a day after my nightly brushing is easy enough. I will be purchasing another bottle but the next one will be The Natural Dentist Cavity Zipper for kids. Why should I be the only one taking care of my teeth the best way possible?

Thanks to the folks at The Natural Dentist, I can offer a bottle of Healthy Gum Rinse to one of my readers.

Dr. Seuss' And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Now An App

App books are a great way to keep kids busy especially when you really need them to be occupied like waiting rooms, school assemblys, doctor visits, etc.,

Dr. Seuss's first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, instantly captivated parents and children when it arrived in bookstores in 1937. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, you can enjoy this pivotal story as an interactive omBook (Oceanhouse Media digital book). It's available for both Apple and Android devices for the special introductory price of $2.99.

Marco walks to school along Mulberry Street keeping his eyes peeled for interesting sites to share with his dad. But today all he sees is a boring old horse and wagon. "That's nothing to tell of, that won't do, of course". . . so Marco envisions much more exciting events, each more elaborate than the last. The horse and wagon turn into a zebra and charioteer, then to an elephant with a sleigh as Marco's imagination goes on a wild ride down Mulberry Street.

"But now I don't know . . .
It still doesn't seem right.
An elephant pulling a thing that's so light
Would whip it around in the air like a kite.
But he'd look simply grand
With a great big brass band!"

Here are some fun facts about And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street:

• The manuscript was rejected by 27 publishing houses for being too fantasy based and different.
• The rhymes were written to the rhythm of chugging engines on the M.S. Kungsholm while Dr. Seuss was on vacation.
• The original title of this book was "A Story That No One Can Beat".

Winner Announcements, Did you win? January 21, 2011

The Winner of the Purex/Jockey Giveaway is:

The Mother's of Reinvention A Must Read for Women!

The Mothers of Reinvention
Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life
By Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen
Published by Vanguard Press
January 3, 2012; $15.99 US/$18.50 CAN; 978-1-59315-683-1

Since we launched our show "Jen and Barb, Mom Life" more than four years ago, the number one question moms have asked us is, "How did you guys do that?" The subtext was not about producing and hosting an award-winning web series, but did we reinvent ourselves, especially given our roles as mothers, wives, and career women? Over and over, moms confided in us, sharing their frustrations, fears, and dreams. How could it be that so many of us who had always dreamed of having a family were feeling like something was missing?

What was a mom to do? REINVENT!
Through the journey of our own reinventions, we discovered the Mom Secret: The more satisfied you are with yourself, the better you can deal with the chaos that surrounds you, the better role model you will be, and the better off your entire family will be! This is not a luxury. This is a necessity.

In The Mothers of Reinvention, Jen and Barb share their steps to help you realize your full potential as a woman while still maintaining your joy as a mom and/or wife. Whether you're a new mother, a mother of school-age children, or an empty nester, Jen's and Barb's personal stories, in addition to accounts from other women who have also reinvented, will engage, inspire, and motivate. Every mother deserves passion outside her family, and The Mothers of Reinvention will help you discover what that means for you!

The 411 by Maria:
OK, as a mom, I was very interested in reading what Barb and Jen had to say about reinventing yourself after becoming a mom!  After becoming a mom, I never once felt that I had to reinvent myself but totally get what they are trying to say. I was not a business woman, I was not a popular girl, I was not a woman who longed for adventure and felt that I was missing out on something better. I wanted to be a mom! My life, was always my kids but now that they are in school, I am tired of struggling and have been trying to figure out a way to make a living while doing it on a flexible schedule that coincides with my kids school schedule. I NEVER want to put them in a before or after program. The thought doesn't sit well with me at all.

With that being said, my blog header says, "Maria's Space, A little place to call my own". It was titled that because as the mom of two under 3 years old who was alone for 12 hours a day with a screaming (18 hours a day) baby and a tantrum throwing son, no family, no friends, nursing 12 times a day, I really needed to establish a place where I could go that was FOR ME!

So part of me completely agrees with finding time for yourself while taking care of your family. 

Barb and Jen sound off on each section. It is nice to hear their individual voices, experiences and personalities shine through. I also appreciate that they don't give you a quick fix or tell you that there is a sure fire way to streamline your life into balance. There will never be a balance but if you "change your perception" you will find what works for you. 

My favorite parts of the book where the true stories from moms included in each section and their "best advice". 

My second favorite part is the end of each chapter "Now You Know". A quick summarization of the chapter.

Some of my favorite statements:

It's OK to say no - and okay to say it often.
Don't underestimate the power of the word need in your vocabulary.
Control only what you can control (These are words I live by. I don't waste time wondering what may happen, I only focus on what is happening and what is in my control).
Everything is not your responsibilty
Your children are capable of more than you realize
You have to be brave enough to ask questions - open up to others, let them know what your doing, and see if they or anyone they know can help you.

I started follow Barb and Jen on their Facebook and Twitter as well as catching up on their webcasts. They really are very REAL. It is like listening to your "smarter, more successful girlfriends" who love you anyway. 

To purchase The Mother's of Reinvention go to Amazon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Silhoutte My Family Generator

My Family from

It's Wednesday Morning And My House Is Oddly Quiet

Usually at this time, Handsome is already sitting at the computer watching Wipe Out videos on You Tube. Obviously he needs sleep! He never sleeps this late. Part of me wants to check on him but I am sure he is fine and will be up anytime now. Walking in would mean waking him.

There is something about this time of the day, when you are completely alone but not! After the kids came, there is never alone time. It doesn't happen. I was a hoover mom and now they are hoover kids. Well, not all the time, Handsome doesn't so much as hoover however, Goddess hoovers enough for three kids. 

Sometimes the noise is just too much although the house is relatively quiet. Teach and I are quiet people. We were both loners as children and beyond, and we don't party so any noise above normal is noise.

When I am overwhelmed by the noise, I remind myself that there is going to be a time when I am longing for them to talk to me. That the thought of them not being here is going to suffocate me. That our time together will not ever be long enough and that seems to get me through the craziness.

Here I sit, typing this post with tears in my eyes, listening to the heat come up, the computer fan, my fingers dancing on the keys and wait for the house to wake. For my kids to come out, with their half cast eyes, sit on my lap and hug me like they do every morning as we say "Good morning" to each other. At 6 and 8 and I am not sure how much longer they will do this but thank God they do now.

When is your quiet time? How much time do you get a day? How do you spend it? I would love to know.

The house makes sounds you are no

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We Can All Have Perfect Skin If We Follow A Few Rules

Skin Rules
Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist
By Debra Jaliman, M.D.

Published by St. Martin's Press
March 13, 2012; $22.99 US/$26.50 CAN; 978-1250000958

Pre-Order on Amazon


The only skin book you'll ever need -- whether you're 16 or 60 -- from New York City's top dermatologist to the stars

Skin Rules is a short, concise, and practical instruction manual from a renowned Fifth Avenue dermatologist on how to attain beautiful skin, a taut and sculpted body, and a much younger appearance. Actors, models, and newscasters go to Dr. Jaliman for her cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for her reputation for being the "last stop" doctor, the one who fixes what others can't.

Skin Rules has something for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have to spend. This small, invaluable guide supplies the same advice Dr. Jaliman gives to her celebrity patients, from lasers to remove sun damage and tum back the clock to suggestions for simple products and habits anyone can adopt for a small outlay of time and money. In Skin Rules readers will learn:
  • about the one ingredient that should NEVER be in sunscreens, but often is
  • how to use inexpensive Aquaphor to heal wounds and prevent scarring
  • which drugstore products really work for acne and wrinkles

Author Bio
Debra Jaliman, M.D.,
 author of the upcoming book Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, has practiced dermatology in New York City for over twenty-five years, and also teaches at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she is an attending physician. Her own best advertisement for her advice, Jaliman has appeared on local and national television shows, including Good Morning America and Nightline. She lives in New York City.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Looking For Some New Bands To Obsess Over? Rosie and Me!

SXSW is right around the corner, and it is already time to start discovering your new favorite bands for 2012. Look no further, as we have the answer right here in front of you! Meet the infectious, and sensational, ROSIE AND ME, an act that will catch your attention immediately.

Hailing from Southern Brazil, the five-piece band fronted by Rosanne Machado, draws inspiration from their culture as they blend their sound with American folk music. This is a unique combination that illuminates throughout their music. Machado leads the band on their musical journey as she is a triple threat on lead vocals, acoustic guitars and banjo. Alongside Rosie are Ivan Camargo (acoustic guitars), Thomas Kossar (electric guitars), Guilherme Miranda (bass guitars) and Tiago Barbosa (drums/perc). The group blends insightful lyrics, brilliant melodies and luscious female vocals reminiscent of indie favorites like Feist and Joy Williams from The Civil Wars.

2010 saw ROSIE AND ME releasing Bird and Whale, which gained critical acclaim from over 80 music blogs worldwide, and a dedicated fan base. Now with a new batch of songs in tow, ROSIE AND ME are a ready to take the music world by storm once against as they will see the release of Arrow of My Ways on January 25th on iTunes.

Today, I listened to Arrow of My Ways (featuring Greg Thomas). I love the sound. Quiet and haunting accompanied by a beautiful voice.  Arrow of My Ways, reminds me of droving down the road on a rainy day, alone, with no direction, just the sound of the road, the rain and my thoughts. 

I also listened to Home (featuring Joshua Thomas). I love the acoustic guitars, very dreamy and haunting.


March, 9th: Viento y Agua Coffeehouse (Long Beach, CA) 
March, 10th: Hotel Cafe (with the Mynabirds), LA 
March 13rd - 19th - SXSW (showcase details TBD) 
March, 14th  Dunn Bros Coffee (Katy, TX) 
March 15th : Opening Bell (Dallas, TX)


            Rosie and Me Website           
Twitterb @rosieandme_ 

So Excited to See Chronicle

Have you seen the commercial for Chronicle? It looks awesome!

Disclaimer: Posted with permission. Chronicle is a 20 Century Fox Movie. I received no monetary compensation for posting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Big Year DVD Giveaway


Comedic Icons Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson Star in the Hilarious Outdoor Adventure Coming to Blu-ray and DVD January 31!

Let the fowl play begin!  Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the story of a competitive trio who quickly turn a simple quest into the ultimate competition when THE BIG YEAR spreads its wings on Blu-ray and DVD January 31.

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson portray three men from very different walks of life, facing a mid-life crisis, a work-life crisis and a no-life crisis.  In the biggest competition of their lives, they undertake an unforgettable trek through North America, engaging in hilarious and bizarre adventures and forming friendships that will last a lifetime!

Directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) and featuring outrageous supporting performances from Joel McHale (“Community”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), Angelica Huston (50/50), Dianne Wiest (“In Treatment”),Brian Dennehy (The Next Three Days), Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”), Kevin Pollak (Red State) and Anthony Anderson (Scream 4), THE BIG YEAR Blu-ray is loaded with special features including the theatrical and extended editions of the film, over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and the featurette “The Big Migration.”  The Blu-ray combo pack and single-disc DVD will be available for an average retail price of $29.99 and $19.99 respectively.  Prebook is January 4, 2012.

THE BIG YEAR Blu-ray Special Features
Extended Feature Film
“The Big Migration” featurette
Deleted Scenes
Roger Tory Peterson
Bird Behavior
Stu Late for Boat, Bird Puns with Brad & Ellie, Stu Gets Bostick’s Autograph
Longer Boat End, Dock, Pretzels & Skippy
Nozzle Theft and Other Newscasters
Longer Cars to HI
Cereal Rat with Talk
Lanky Birder Makes Time with Ellie
Stu’s Summer Montage with Fire Island Fauna
Bostick Returns Home
Long Pelagic
Bostick Goes to China
Gag Reel

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world.
Follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Twitter @FoxHomeEnt

THE BIG YEAR Blu-ray Combo Pack (Catalog #2277373)
Street Date:                      January 24, 2012
Prebook Date:                   December 28, 2011
Screen Format:                  16:9 (2.35:1)
Audio:                                English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles:                           English, Spanish
U.S. Rating:                        PG
Total Run Time:                  100 minutes
Closed Captioned:             Yes

THE BIG YEAR DVD (Catalog #2277366)
Street Date:                      January 10, 2012
Prebook Date:                   December 28, 2011
Screen Format:                  16:9 (2.35:1)
Audio:                                English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles:                           English, Spanish
U.S. Rating:                        PG
Total Run Time:                 100 minutes
Closed Captioned:             Yes

Complete the Rafflecopter to enter for a chance to win The Big Year on DVD. Expires on 2/6/12

More Than Words Can Say by Robert Barclay

2012 is shaping up to be a great year as far as books go. I am really in reader heaven. So far every book I have read this month has really been worth my time! More Than Words Can Say is one of those books I will mention to my friends as a must read.

From the author of If Wishes Were Horses comes a novel of long-buried secrets and self-discovery, showing us that sometimes what goes unsaid is more powerful than words. . . .

Chelsea Enright never expected to inherit her grandmother's lakeside cottage deep in the Adirondacks—a serene getaway that had been mysteriously closed up decades ago. This is no simple bequest, however, because when Chelsea finds her grandmother's WWII diaries, she's stunned to discover that they hold secrets she never suspected . . . and they have the power to turn her own life upside down.

Even more surprising is the compelling presence of local doctor Brandon "Yale, and Chelsea soon finds her "short stay" has stretched into the entire summer. She cannot put this cottage and her family's past behind her easily—and the more she learns about the woman her grandmother truly was, the more Chelsea's own life begins to change . . . and nothing will ever be the same again.

The 411 by Maria Gagliano
I read this book last week, over 4 books ago and in 1 day. I thought this review was already written and will do my best to do it justice in a typical Amateur Book Review. Fortunately, I have talked about the book for a week now with my girlfriends so it has stayed fresh in my mind.

Chelsea's beloved Grandmother, Brooke has passed away. In the lawyer's office, she is told that her grandmother has left her a summer cottage and a note that the lawyer is to give to her. The note is from Grandma and tells her to go to the cottage alone, pick up a few floorboards under a bed and find a box with more information.

Already, I am picturing a mystery and I am not big on mysteries. It isn't, it is a beautiful double love story told through grandma's diary flashback chapters and Chelsea's life.

I loved how sure Chelsea was that she would sell the cottage before she got there. She expected a run down summer place that hadn't been used by the family ever since Grandma closed the door so many years ago. While Grandpa was fighting in WWII, grandma was quietly falling in love with a painter who lived next door.

Chelsea's new cottage neighbor is a very cute doctor who wraps up her hand on their first meeting. Together they read Brooke's diary and piece together the past that shaped a love story and created a family.

The fact that this love story was written by a man was something I had to remind myself of more than a few times. Robert Barclay is a great writer.  Romance novels can for me, get too wordy but this was a quick read with a lot of heart.

The story is character driven and while it is sweet, it isn't sappy. In a nutshell Brooke's husband was fighting a war while she was making guilty goo goo eyes at her club foot, artistic, available, neighbor. She closed the house up and ran as fast as she could away from her heart. She loved two men at once and while I am unsure why she never went back, I loved Brooke who we only got to know in flashbacks. She was a spirit fire with a huge heart.

You can order More Than Words Can Say: A Novel, through Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an ARC to facilitate this review.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Color Carnival Sunday #15

Cold today. Hope you are warm and loved wherever you are.

Spin A Novel by Catherine McKenzie Out on Feb 7

Spin by Catherine McKenzie
Catherine McKenzie is a bestselling author in Canada and Spin is her U.S. debut. Spin is a delectable tale about Katie Sandford, an aspiring music journalist nicknamed “Sober” for her partying ways, who gets the interview of a lifetime at her favorite music magazine, The Line.  But when she shows up to the interview still drunk, she thinks she lost her chance—until the folks at The Line tell her they think she is perfect for another assignment: following a celebrity It Girl undercover into rehab.  All she has to do is get the inside scoop (and complete the 30-day program without getting kicked out).  

Kate's To-Do List:

  1. Go to rehab
  2. Befriend/spy on "It Girl"
  3. Write killer expose
The 411 by Maria Gagliano

Kate is what we call a hot mess. She parties way too much and isn't very reliable. She acts like a college kid and is completely irresponsible but likeable.

When she finally gets the interview of a lifetime. A job at The Line, a magazine she has been trying to get in forever. She goes out the night before and drinks way too much, ends up oversleeping, running to the interview hung over and still drunk. Fortunately for her, the "It Girl" Amber of TGND (The Girl Next Door) is being sent to rehab and the folks at The Line have a proposition for her. Go to rehab and report back on the what TGND is up to. Easy enough! Sell your soul, get some help for a problem you don't feel you have and possibly get your dream job anyway?! Umm...sounds like a plan.

The book is a great ride from beginning to end. I love Kate even though I should despise her. The book is fun, witty and I love any book that throws in real celebrity and music references. I had to remind myself that this was fiction. There were times it felt very real.

Written in first person and narrated by Kate, you find yourself hoping that Kate comes out on the  other end a better person, finds love and that she is never found out!

It is a quick read but hardly chick lit! Very enjoyable characters all around.

To Purchase: Spin: A Novel

I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Bad Kitty Book & CD Read by Vanessa Williams

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel is about a Kitty who doesn't want to bad she can't help it. When her family runs out of her favorite food and offers her vegetables, she goes out of her way to show them how upset she is. She doesn't like Asparagus, beets, or cauliflower and so on.  She than goes on to alphabetically show everyone her distaste. She ate her masters homework, bit grandma, clawed the curtains, etc.  When they finally got Kitty's odd, alphabetical food, she alphabetically makes amends.

The book is a clever, hilarious reinforcement about the alphabet. When my kids were younger (2-3), they loved books just because it had the alphabet in it.  It was what they knew and they were able to participate in the story before they could read.

Vanessa Williams does a much better, funnier read than me. I enjoyed listening to her read. I also enjoyed listening to author Nick Bruel and his kid audience do the read.

While the alphabetical kitty food is a stretch, like buffalo burritos, fried flies, a donkey named Dave,  (what did you expect him to write about 9Lives or Friskies?), the photos are hysterical and really Bad Kitty is a funny cat giving Garfield a run for his money!

Author and illustrator Nick Bruel has a collection of Bad Kitty books. My kids have already placed their book order for Bad Kitty Christmas and Bad Kitty Meets the Baby. Maybe for their birthdays we will get them.

To Purchase:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Bad Kitty to facilitate this review.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

365 Day Challenge - Playing Catch Up 15-19

Ugh...the last day I posted a photo for my 365 Challenge and I am already behind. A stomach bug forced me to put the breaks on for 2 days and now while it has been over for 2 days. It is not completely 100% back to normal yet. So, I am a little behind on everything. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours catching up on posts and another 2 catching up on emails. Ahhhh....I hate being behind in anything.

So without further it goes. 

January 15, 2012
It has been a very weird winter. No snow and usually by this time we haven't seen the ground for at least 6 weeks. Weird. It has been so decent out that Goddess has been jumping rope outside. Well in typical Goddess fashion unless she is told, nothing gets cleaned up. This was tossed aside and well, eventually rained on.

Tossed Aside

January 16, 2012
Goddess and I started on a project that I have been meaning to get to since before she was born. I procrastinated so much, she is old enough to help. This altered book is our first attempt. We used an Blue's Clues Board Book that the kids grew out of. We removed the colorful pages and added scrapbook paper and an embellishment (a pocket from a pair of jeans Goddess grew out of) to the cover. We are still working on the pages inside. She wants to draw on them. I want to paint them and eventually make them a photo book. Since it is our first, we may do both.

altered book

January 17, 2012
These are Chinese New Year Cakes from Shoprite. I love ethnic food and with Chinese New Year being celebrated at the kids school decided to get some for us to try.

These are made with rice flour and red bean paste, they are called "nian gao (粘糕)", meaning "sticky cake and are rather different that the ones I found online but really have an interesting taste. I had them very long ago when I was about 13 in middle school. My girlfriend Chan Su asked me to come over for breakfast. It was a very different meal than the one I was used to having in my Italian American home and never forgot the taste of these cakes. The cakes they served along with a fish and a chicken dish were very wet and didn't have red bean paste and looked more like this.

Chinese New Year Cakes

January 18, 2012
The other night we made some chicken and onions and the onion looked so perfect when I cut it in half, I just had to grab the camera.

The Red Onion

January 19, 2012
I recently received some Weight Watchers Muffins. The chocolate are all gone, but we did manage to take a photo of the muffins before they were all gone.


The Second City Presents : BuzzKill starring Daniel Raymont


Ray Wyatt, a once promising screenwriter, refuses to "sell out" and get a job in advertising much to the dismay of his girlfriend Sara. Just when he is about to write the ending to his own life, he gets a break from an enthused LA producer who wants to meet with him in one week about his new script, "Great Shame."

With little money to spare, Ray loads up his beat-up car, leaves New Jersey and heads to Hollywood. Ray’s trip takes a drastic detour after his rambunctious companion, a young waitress from the local diner, abandons him and an infamous serial killer steals his car containing the only copy of his script with the new ending.

With his entire future on the line, Ray desperately tracks the serial killer down but initially forgoes turning him into the police until he finds out what he thinks about the new ending.

BuzzKill is a film about a dream, a twist of fate and an unexpected happy ending.

Actors: Daniel Raymont, Darrell Hammond
Format: Color, DVD, NTSC
Language: English

Rated: Unrated
Studio: Indican
DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
Run Time: 94 minutes

The 411:
BuzzKill makes its way onto DVD this Valentine's Day, February 14, 2012. This is one of those movies that you just have to see. The budget is low, my expectations were low too!

When I started watching I really wasn't sure what the movie was about but mostly figured I would be in for a boring ride. I was completely wrong. The movie is funny, witty, smart and well acted.

Poor, sad sack Ray is holed up in a pretty shitty apartment complete with dead  animal smell. There is no air conditioning, no stove, a sink and shower that don't work and sleazy slum Lord.

Ray is writing a new ending to a movie and is less than enthusiastic about it. Life sucks and seeing no way out, he decides to try and end his life. Problem is just, as he is about to step off the chair,  his phone rings. It's an agent who wants to talk to him. Ray loses balance and is hanging, fighting for his life. Thankfully the pipe he is hanging from breaks dumping a bunch of sewage on his head. Shitty idea!

An LA Producer calls him, she wants to meet with him, talk about his new ending and asks him to drive out to her and deliver the script so they can talk. On his way, every possible obstacle is put in his way. Beside his inflammed testicle, his car is stolen, he has seen a murdered dump a body, he gets involved with an underage companion, etc. As they say, things that come easy, aren't worth having and the universe has definitely been playing a mean trick on Ray!

When he makes it to California, the producer has been murdered but the tides and moon are aligned and Ray finally gets to reap the benefits of being in the right place at the right time. This just goes to show that everything does in fact happens for a reason. Don't give up, you never know what might be waiting for you down the path! When the shit hits the fan, or in this case the floor, jump in a car and head for California!

Daniel Raymont as Ray is dirty, sweaty, witty, funny, and shows his ass a lot! Good for him!

Check out the trailer here.

To Purchase:

Follow Second City Buzzkill on Facebook

Disclaimer:I received a complimentary copy of BuzzKill from Indican Pictures.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crash Into You by Roni Loren - Blog Tour and Giveaway + GUEST POST

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Doesn't that cover make you want to read it. Super sexy! Roni's main characters are very likable. I couldn't really picture them but that wasn't a bad thing. I created them in my head since they weren't graphically, spoon fed to me. The main character Brynn, kinda looked like me. 

Brynn is a woman on a mission. Her sister is missing and she needs to find her. When her ex Reid steps back into her life she is torn between the love she had for him and the hate she feels when she thinks about how he was the lawyer who is trying to get her mother's killer out of prison. Reid is also torn. He was in love with Brynn and she broke up with him. He also needs to find Brynn's sister. She is the character witness who can help him his case. 

They believe she may be at a BDSM ranch and while Brynn is terrified she knows this may be the only way to rescue her. She decides to head to the ranch and submit to a "strange" Dom which scares her to death, she was raped years ago and submitting isn't high on her list. 

She heads to the ranch and gets ready for humiliation that she knows could break her but Reid has other plans and wants her for himself. Can Brynn survive her past. Will Reid make her pay for breaking his heart? Can they work through the damage they have created without being truly honest with each other? All will be revealed but I will not be the one to give it all away to you, you must read it yourself.

While the story is considered romantic erotica, I thought it was on the mild side. There is bondage, there is submission, there is even a little dirty talk but you are an adult and you can handle it. However, only you dear reader know what's good for you. So what I feel is mild, you may believe is full erotica. 

The book starts out sucking you right in. Roni is a great writer, I can't wait to read her other works.

Except: Chapter 1
Don the gas masks and cue the mushroom cloud. Brynn’s date was spiraling toward DEFCON 1—imminent disaster. In the brief time it had taken her to down three hors d'oeuvres, her sexy doctor had tumbled from fantasy fodder to potential therapy client.

         Doctor Depressed propped his elbows on the table and leaned forward, his brows knitted. “I don’t know what I did wrong. One minute we’re in love and planning the future, the next I catch her in the copy room with her arms wrapped around the pharmaceutical sales rep.”

                Brynn frowned as tears gathered behind his glasses. Oh, hell. She couldn’t have another guy cry on her. That’d be the second one this month. She was becoming the Barbara Walters of dating—taking a perfectly put-together person and reducing him to tears without trying. She reached across the table and gave his hand a quick squeeze. “I’m sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like she took advantage of what a nice guy you are.”

                He stared at her for a moment, and then released a breath. “God, what am I doing? I’m breaking that cardinal rule, right? No ex talk on dates. I’m sure you didn’t ask me to come to this fundraiser so you could hear me yammer about my breakup.”

For more on author Roni Loren: Website/Facebook/Twitter/Good Reads

Personally, I love reading erotica romance, Roni tells us why she loves it!

5 Reasons Why I Love Writing (and Reading) Erotic Romance by Roni Loren

I’m often asked what made me decide to write erotic romance. After all, the first book I wrote when I got back into writing was a YA. Why the big jump? Well, the main reason I tried my hand at erotic romance--besides the fact that it’s one of my favorite genres to read--is that the idea for CRASH INTO YOU could only be told via erotic romance.

If I had to close doors and skip the love scenes, the story wouldn’t have worked. Big important emotional moments and character growth happen during and because of those love scenes. But besides that obvious reason, there are some other reasons why it’s my genre of choice.

1.  There are very few limits to worry about.
When I was writing the YA, I was constantly thinking--wait, is this too much for YA? Is this too sexy of a makeout scene? Is it okay that he said the f-word. Then I wrote a contemporary romance and had some of the same worries--how far can I go? In erotic romance, I don’t have to worry about that. I can write things the way I think is right for those characters.

2.  I’m damn nosy and this satisfies the voyeur in me.
I don’t just want to read a book and have the characters disappear “off-stage” to consummate the relationship. I don’t want anything hidden from me as a reader. I’m invested in these characters and dammit, I want to know all their business, lol.

3.  It’s fun to tell people what I write and see their reactions.
This revelation will either stop a conversation dead or end up in a very long discussion. : )  Regardless, it’s kind of nice to shock people every now and then.

4.  It’s empowering.
Our society has really screwed up notions and stereotypes when it comes to women and sex. We’re objectified on one hand, then are supposed to be demure and innocent on the other hand. I mean, there’s actually a book out there called Porn for Women and it’s of men doing housework. Now look, I appreciate the hubs washing the dishes or whatever, but it’s not going to get me all how-you-doin’. Women like the sexy stuff as much as men, we just usually require more of an emotional connection. So I like that erotic romance shows women embracing their sexuality and indulging in it.

5.  Boundaries can be explored vicariously.
This goes along with the no limits thing above, but I love that erotic romance can show show so many different lifestyles: BDSM, same sex romances, polyamory, fetishes, etc. Even if we pick up a book that’s not necessarily our own lifestyle, it’s still fun and fascinating to read about others.

So those are my reasons. If you read erotic romance, what draws you to it? If you don’t, what draws you to your favorite genre?

To Purchase:

Ronie will be giving away the following prizes during the tour:

* One signed set of Romance Trading Cards for "Crash Into You" to a random commenter at every stop.

* A $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Remember to visit the other blogger hosts and enter to win. The more you enter, the better your chance to win. Here is a list of my fellow hosts: