Posts filed under ‘sponsored’

Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened


Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a wacky, mostly true memoir written by The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson. The book is comprised of a series of stories about Lawson’s life from early childhood, up through her marriage and beyond.

As you read this book you’ll find yourself shaking your head in utter disbelief that anyone could grow up the way the author describes. Lawson, provides photographic proof throughout the book and honestly without those pictures you would never believe that her stories were even remotely real.

The funniest stories revolve around Lawson’s father, a taxidermist who brings home road kill on a regular basis to amuse his children. Of course, Jenny and her younger sister are absolutely frightened by his antics, but that doesn’t stop him from bringing dead animals into their home.

This book isn’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of curse words thrown in for good measure and Lawson herself states that many people will be offended by her words.

The book feels a bit like an ode to the dysfunctional. Many of her stories are both funny and disturbing. As I read the book I often wondered if I should cry for the author or laugh at the antics she described. I think that may be the point of this book. Perhaps the goal is to realize that no matter how messed up your upbringing might be humor makes it all much easier to swallow.

If nothing else this book will probably help you realize that ‘normal’ is all relative. If you didn’t grow up with raccoons wearing shorts and turkeys following you to school then you probably started off a lot differently then Lawson did.

Note: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

March 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM Leave a comment

Book Review: Diary of a Submissive

I’ve participated in quite a few BlogHer book reviews over the past year, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I signed up to review Diary of a Submissive. Penguin Press, the publisher of the novel, calls it The “real” Fifty Shades of Grey…A true life erotic story of female submission to rival The Story of O.

I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I know a lot of my friends have swooned over that novel. When I took a walk down the beach one summer morning I found two separate women lounging on chairs reading it.

Diary of a Submissive is told from the perspective of Sophie Morgan. Sophie is an independent woman who consciously gives up her power in order to coexist in a submissive relationship with a dominant man. She believes her submissive role maximizes her sexual pleasure with him.

The story steps you through her erotic experiences as her sexual desires awaken and deepen. This story is not for the faint of heart. It is classified as Erotica and Sophie provides detailed descriptions of sexual fetishes and explorations that would make a ‘good girl’ blush. I found it difficult to read a few scenes in the novel that were graphically depicted. Sophie is a self-described masochist who is aroused by physical pain and humiliation.

As the story progresses Sophie’s experiments are pushed to the limits. Her partner James takes her to deeper and darker places.

If you enjoyed reading Fifty Shades of Grey or want an introduction to the erotica genre this might be the book for you.  As for me, I think I’ll stick with other novels. I have to admit that this one made me a little squeamish.

This is a compensated review commissioned by the BlogHer Book Club. All opinions expressed are my own. 

October 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Do You Have the Courage to Be Yourself?

Before you read BlogHer’s latest book selection, ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’ I encourage you to watch this video.

In the video, the author of ‘Daring Greatly’ discusses her research on vulnerability to a live audience of 500 people at TEDxHouston. She references this speech multiple times throughout her book, but it provides a good summary of where her story will lead you.

Dr. Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Throughout her research Dr. Brown finds people who refer to vulnerability as being naked when everyone else is clothed. It is something most of us try to avoid for fear of mockery and humiliation.

The funny thing is when asked about vulnerability people say it is the last thing they want someone to see in them, but the first thing they want to see in another person. It’s what makes us genuine and real. When people show vulnerability we immediately feel connected and close to them, but we are frightened that people might judge us for being vulnerable and view us as weak and unworthy.

Dr. Brown’s book breaks down her research in an effort to show why we should embrace our vulnerabilities. How it helps us to live a genuine life that is true to ourselves and to those around us. That living the model life of what people expect, (perfect family, perfect mother, perfectly thin, perfectly beautiful), should not be our goal, but rather to embrace the truth about ourselves and thus become more strongly connected to the people around us.

I found the chapter on wholehearted parenting extremely enlightening. It’s a very interesting book that opened my eyes up to the way in which we are raised and the way in which we raise our children. Even if you don’t buy the book, definitely check out the videos on and elsewhere on the Internet. You’ll learn quite a lot about Dr. Brown’s research by watching them.

Note: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

September 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Trust Your Eyes

It’s been awhile since I read a good mystery. It’s not typically the type of book I’d pick up a in book store so when an advanced copy of Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay showed up on my doorstep my husband laughed and said, “are you really going to read that?”

While I wouldn’t have chosen it for myself I sure am glad the BlogHer book club  chose it for me. Trust Your Eyes is a story of two brothers who live together after the unexpected and unfortunate death of their father. The younger brother is schizophrenic and almost never steps outside of the house. At a young age he became obsessed with maps. He memorized every place he ever read about and can name intricate details about the streets and stores in cities he’s never even visited.

The invention of a new game called Whirl360 (similar to the street view on Google Maps) brings the younger brother’s love of maps directly to his computer and he spends all but an hour or two a day stepping through the streets of cities memorizing the places and landmarks within them.

During his online tour of New York City the schizophrenic brother stumbles upon an image he believes to be a murder. When he tells his brother about it the two of them quickly become wrapped up in investigating the mystery and the reader takes the journey alongside them as the details unravel throughout the pages.

I liked the way Barclay wrote this mystery around a modern day computer game. If you are familiar with Google Maps you will find the story quite interesting. Google does take snapshots of cities and towns and it is possible that one of their cameras could capture a crime in the making.

Note: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

September 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Get Advice From Food Experts at The Dish and Enter to Win $50

Do you blog about your trials and tribulations with food? Do you reach out to your readers every so often in search of new and exciting recipes? Are you tired of cooking the same meals night after night and looking for guidance from food experts?Do you ever wander the grocery store aisles in search of something new?

If you answered yes to any of those questions you should check out The Dish. The Dish is an online resource center (aka: a website) designed to help bloggers discover new recipes and read up on the latest food trends.

The site focuses on four main topics, which include Seasonal Spotlight, Recipe Resources, Ask Our Team and First Look, First Taste. The first three content areas are accessible by anyone, but to view First Look, First Taste you have to register with a blog URL.

Of course, I was most interested to discover what little nuggets of information were hiding there. I registered immediately and received an email a few days later with a user name and password confirming my acceptance. This section of the website contains details about new products.

Best of all, if you like the products mentioned you can often request samples of them. I just requested a sample of Orville Redenbacher’s Ready-to-Eat Gourmet Popcorn. Yummy!

Don’t worry if you don’t have a blog. Even those without blogs will find interesting articles and tidbits of information on The Dish. I really enjoyed the articles by Phil Lempert. He’s nicknamed the Supermarket Guru and his articles contain great advice on saving money at the supermarket.

For example, in his article about frozen foods Lempert suggests checking the package for the sight or sound of ice crystals. (I’ve never done or thought about this before.) If you feel or hear them he says it’s probably a sign the package has been thawed and refrozen.

He also points out that juice concentrates are a better bargain than jars or cartons. He writes: “Look carefully at the other jars or cartons and you’ll see the words, ‘made from concentrate’ on most of them. Don’t pay more for water! Add your own at home and you’ll save 30-50 percent, and your shopping bag will be a lot lighter!”

My husband and I often purchase apple juice in concentrated form.You can typically find it perched on the highest shelf in the juice aisle. It comes in a can and I usually store one or two cans in the pantry. If you’re in the mood for apple juice you simply find a pretty pitcher and add a few cups of water. It takes up much less space than a plastic bottle, and it’s expiration date is typically much longer.

If you are looking for new recipes, advice from food experts or simply searching for ways to save money at the grocery store I suggest checking out The Dish.

Sign up now to become a member, follow @ConAgraDish on twitter and request product samples from First Look, First Taste.

Enter for a chance to win a $50 Visa gift card! For a chance to win, leave a comment telling me which section of The Dish sounds the most useful.

Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post b) Tweet about this promotion with hash tag #sweepstakes and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 8/22/2012-9/8/2012. Be sure to visit ConAgra Foods’ brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

August 22, 2012 at 8:00 AM 58 comments

Old Memories: Shopping for Auto Insurance

In my junior year of college my dad loaned me the family car. It was an old school, sky blue Toyota Camry station wagon similar to the one pictured below. I moved off campus that year and started an internship in Annapolis that couldn’t be reached through public transportation.

Everyone made fun of that vehicle, but I loved it. It was big enough to transport my belongings back and forth, (at the time everything I owned other than my bed could fit in the back of it), and it was already old and rusted so I wasn’t worried or bothered by the fact that I never washed or took care of it.

When I graduated my dad let me keep the car for another year and when I moved to DC he told me I needed to attain my own policy to insure it. These days with computers at the ready and the Internet always handy I could search for auto insurance on a million different websites and find comparable rates in a matter of seconds.

Back then my dad called individual agents and asked them about their rates and policies. As strange as it now seems my dad and I drove out to an agent’s house, (he worked out of his home), to meet with him in person. It’s funny, but I have a very vivid memory of my dad and I driving through the city to meet this man. When we arrived he walked outside, looked at my vehicle and talked with my dad and I for an hour about insurance.

He was an older pudgy gentlemen with white hair and a big grin. He became my insurance agent and continued in that capacity for the next twelve years.

Although we’ve been with the same agent for over a decade, I still want to make certain we are getting the best price and policy for our needs. Once a year I log onto various websites to check out auto insurance rates at other companies. There are lots of sites available to help you compare free quotes. A good example is

It’s funny to think about how much the Internet has changed our lives. I can receive free quotes on auto insurance in a matter of seconds at any time of day or night without every speaking with a human being.

These days I doubt any parent will drag their kid around the city to meet face-to-face with an insurance agent, but I must admit that the memory of driving around DC with my father is a good one. It definitely leaves me smiling.

August 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM 1 comment


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