120 Days Book Review

iRead Book Tours

When Blake and Soto meet in the San Cristobal, California courtroom, they begin a 120-day journey that will invariably alter both of their lives.

About 120 Days

BARBARA BLAKE is a bright, young, attractive, and ambitious defense attorney. Alejandro Soto, an inmate already serving two life sentences for the brutal murder of a drug dealer and the man’s mother, is on trial for a third murder, one he did not commit but that could well result in the Death Penalty. When Blake and Soto meet in the San Cristobal, California courtroom, they begin a 120-day journey that will invariably alter both of their lives. Together, they spiral ever more deeply into the dark heart of a quintessentially American story of sex and love, truth and lies, justice and prejudice, crime and punishment, and, ultimately, life and death.

My Thoughts

I could not put this incredible book down that centers around two very different characters. We have Barbara – an ambitious and intelligent woman who is incredibly smart and powerful in court but her personal life is quite different. She struggles with relationships and love – she has had failed marriages and she seems to have resigned herself to not meeting ‘the one’. Then we have Alejandro – a convicted murder serving two life sentences. Someone that you start off not having much sympathy for but as the story unfolds, we see a whole new side of his character. Yes, he is flawed and committed awful acts, but he has this different side of him that was created because of his upbringing.

The two characters meet in a courtroom and this begins a 120 day spiraling journey that we are left guessing constantly at where they are going. Barbara tries to feel no compassion or attraction to this man, especially a man who could jeopardize her whole career. But as we learn more about Alejandro, you sympathize with his story and you can feel the attraction and love these two have that could destroy both of them.

Their love is definitely forbidden and could destroy so much and we are left on the edge of our seats throughout the whole novel, wondering will they be caught, what future could these two have? While the ending was fantastic and suited the story, my heart was a bit sore!

This is a fantastic read – full of raw emotions, heartache, pain and forgiveness. I loved every moment of this story!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Ronald L. Ruiz is a retired attorney whose entire career was spent in criminal law as a deputy District Attorney, a District Attorney, a Defense Attorney and a Public Defender.

You can connect with him on his website and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Make BTS a Smooth Transition with the Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker

I am not going to lie and I am not proud to admit this, but I remember going off to my first year at University and being unprepared to tackle basic life skills like cooking for myself. The only things I knew how to cook were 5 minute rice, breakfast sausages and cereal. I remember a friend asking if I could make a fried egg and I just looked at her, like fried egg – where do I start? I wasn’t a spoiled teen, I just wasn’t given the opportunities to learn or the tools to learn.

This is why it is so important to me for my boys to have the skills and confidence that they need to take care of themselves and make nutritious meals for themselves, even when I am not around. I want them to feel comfortable in the kitchen and be able to use tools in the kitchen to help them prepare their meals.

I can also appreciate that they are busy, they are tired (I feel like this is the number one thing I hear all the time) and they don’t have enough time. While I can understand, relate and appreciate these concerns – it is also super important that they ensure they are eating healthy meals especially breakfast, trust me a year of five minute rice, breakfast sausages and my very famous Ketchup based tomato sauce (although to be fair this is actually really yummy – probably because it is so sweet) is not good for anyone.

Hamilton Beach has a great line of products that make life easier for young adults and fits in with their busy schedules. My favourite is the Dual Breakfast Sandwich maker.

The Dual Breakfast Sandwich maker is as simple as plug in and go (no lie!). We pulled it out and expected it to be a bit more complicated and were pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. We plugged it in and during its warm up period, we got our other ingredients ready to go (cheese, eggs, chicken slices). We laid out the ingredients – English muffin on the bottom, cheese, chicken and then slide the grill part for the egg over and placed the scrambled eggs on top (we didn’t pay enough attention the first time and didn’t ensure it was sealed properly and the egg leaked!) and then topped it off with the other half of the English muffin. All that was left was to set the timer for 5.5 minutes and let it cook.

Removing the finished sandwich was quite simple, lift the lid and slide over the plate that the egg was cooking on. We used a spoon to press down a bit on the bread to ensure we could lift each plate easily. The handles do become a bit hot, so make sure you use oven mitts or a towel to lift each plate. They used a spatula to remove each sandwich from the appliance. Voila! Hot, delicious and nutritious breakfast sandwiches ready in under seven minutes.

Our favourite features of the Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker were:

  • simple set up and easy to use (only buttons are for the timer and the plates were easy to figure out
  • you can set the sandwich maker and continue on in your morning routine, getting ready for school
  • easy to clean – the plates wipe clean easily even with a piece of paper towel
  • small and discreet design that can fit anywhere
  • excellent price point and value for money

You can create a variety of sandwiches with this appliance so don’t feel limited to the traditional ideas of an English muffin breakfast sandwich. This Pepperoni and Veggie Mini pizza looks delicious and very easy to follow!

The Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich maker can be purchased from Amazon, Best Buy (both online and in-store), Wayfair, The Bay (both online and in-store), London Drugs and Walmart (both online and in-store) and has a suggested retail price of $64.99.

This product will make an excellent gift for students that are heading off to college or university but also a fantastic item to have in your home for high school students to learn independence and confidence in their own abilities in the kitchen. It is a definite must have item for back to school.

Make sure to stay connected with Hamilton Beach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest products, recipes and more!

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Summer Battles with Zing HyperStrike and Zax

My kids love to run around, make noise and compete with each other. Summer months can be spent chasing each other and battling for the top spot of champion in a variety of games. The hardest part? Trying to think of new ways to keep both an eight and a fifteen year old entertained!

Zax is a soft, foam suction cupped axe that you can use to compete in axe throwing competitions (or if you are like me, to catch your husband off guard when he is walking around the corner!!).

The suction cups work great on any flat surface either inside or outside. For convenience, we tested the Zax out in our living room first. There is definitely a trick to how you flick the axe, so don’t get discouraged on your first few throws! Our first throws were unsuccessful and would bounce off the walls, but once you got used to the way that you had to flick your wrist when throwing it, it easily stuck to the wall. Important to note, it did not damage the paint at all – which I was a tad bit worried about at first.

Our youngest was by far the champion in the competition. He picked up the skills the quickest and loved throwing the axe (although there were a few throws that ended up at his brother that I am not quite were as accidental as he made them out to be!). He perfected the flick and underhand throw but none of us were good at the two handed throws.

Zax come in a variety of colours and can be purchased at Walmart and Target in the US and Mastermind Toys, Canadian Tire, Indigo and Toys R Us in Canada.

The HyperStrike is a high performance bow and arrow that can shoot over 250 feet due to its the bungee cord design. The arrows are made out of soft form and are easy to use. It is designed for ages fourteen and up, and while it was definitely easier for our eldest (and my husband to use), after a few tries our eight year old had no problem loading the arrows.

There are many ways to play with the HyperStrike and the Zing website has some great ideas to get you started, such as: attack and defend, capture the flag, elimination and battle royal. My husband came up with the idea to use his feet to hold the bow in place and would shoot the arrows across the floor in our house at targets (this was a huge hit in our home), along with our youngest shooting arrows off the porch at various targets in the front yard. The arrows come out very fast and make a very loud noise, which my boys and hubby loved but I have to admit the noise sounds terrifying. You expect the arrow to be coming at you a lot faster than it does with the noise it makes.

Both the HyperStrike and Zax will make for hours of fun for your children outside as they battle to be the champions of the summer!

Make sure to follow Zing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news, toys and more.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Big Breath Review

Calm your worries and build your bravery — or relax during a busy day or wind down before bed.

About Big Breath

All day long, you breathe — in and out, in and out — without even thinking about it. But did you know that you can play with your breath, use it to take you on an adventure? All you have to do is find a comfy spot and close your eyes.

Does your breath sound like ocean waves? Like the wind before a storm or a breeze at the start of spring? Can you feel it all the way down to the tips of your toes? By the time you open your eyes, you might just feel a little lighter, calmer, more relaxed.

Our Thoughts

I did not start mediating until I began yoga roughly four years ago. I remember being in my first yoga class and unable to truly unwind and relax enough in order to be present in the moment. It was in that moment that I realized I was letting life take over, I was not present, I was stressed out and not appreciating the tiny moments. It took a lot of practice but eventually I was able to learn how to breathe properly, how to turn my mind off and be present in the moment. This is a skill that I can not stress enough – life is too hectic and busy to not know how to calm the mind. It can be done anywhere, at any time when needed.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated. I read it alone at first and I loved the calming tone of the words. It felt natural, easy to follow, easy to read and fell in a natural progression. I was so excited to practice it with our youngest, who participates in mediation at school but it is not something we do at home on a regular basis. If I am being honest, this is mostly because I don’t know how to help him through the process.

After work and soccer practice, we found a quiet space in our basement and sat across from each other. I read the book aloud to him, slowly and with purpose – giving him the time he needed to follow the directions. We did this without any noise but I do remember how much I loved listening to my class instructor walk me through a guided meditation with the sounds of nature in the background. If you think this would be distracting for your child, this may not be the best idea but if you think it will help – go for it.

This book was incredibly helpful for me as a parent, it helped give me the skills and words to use to help my child through his meditation. He found it relaxing and helped calm his mind and focus. It also helped bring us closer together, as we spoke about his day and his feelings. This is a definite must have book for parents and their children as we look for ways to bring calm and clarity in a rather crazy busy world!

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

About the Author

William Meyer is a high school teacher, longtime meditator, and author. The author of the newly released Three Breaths and Begin: A Guide to Meditation in the Classroom, he is currently working to augment his MA in education from Harvard with a PhD from NYU. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York.

About the Illustrator

Brittany R. Jacobs is a librarian and the author-illustrator of The Kraken’s Rules for Making Friends and other children’s books. She lives in Westminster, Colorado.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West Book Spotlight

iRead Book Tours

Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

About Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West

Cowboy Joel and Blackbeard find themselves face to face with El Maton, the most feared desperado in the West. When El Maton mocks him for the way he looks, Joel must confront his biggest fear; a tongue-slingin’ with the outlaw. Can Blackbeard convince Joel to do it? Will Joel find the courage? Note to Mom and Dad: Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Authors

The Gagnon family is an atypical, hodgepodge mix of humanity. The entire family enjoyed writing this book, with each one contributing their own input. Every child in the family has their own special story, and every one faces their own unique challenges. Stacey, the mom of this bunch, also has a blog called Ransom for Israel. She presents an honest assessment of the orphan crisis and the desperate need for families willing to adopt. After the adoption of their youngest daughter, the Gagnons started a non-profit called Lost Sparrows. Lost Sparrows is dedicated to improving the lives of orphans and those with special needs through education, proper medical care, and adoption. Their current focus is in areas of Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.

You can connect with them on Twitter, Facebook and their website.

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Disclosure: This is a spotlight post, I did not receive compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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