Month: October 2015

How to Plan Your Fall Family Getaway

Planning a Fall Family Getaway

Fall is the perfect time to plan a family getaway for the weekend. The weather is not too hot and not too cold, the scenery is spectacular and with the stress of back to school time, I think the whole family needs a time out to just relax and focus on the most important thing in the world: family.

Not all fall family getaways are created equal. There are several factors that you should consider prior to booking a quick family getaway, besides the usual price and time.

Here are some tips to help plan your next fall family getaway:

Location, location, location! You want to make sure your hotel room is in a location that is central to all activities planned for the weekend, as well as within walking distance of restaurants and coffee shops (hey moms and dads want to enjoy too with a glass of wine!). Being in the centre of the activity gives you easy access to activities as well as the ease of being able to enjoy some quiet time when the younger children become too tired to carry on.

Location is number one when booking fall family getaways!

Look for a location that provides fun, physical outdoor activities. Fall is a great time to get outdoors so take advantage of this cooler weather and look for locations that provides hiking trails, gondola rides and plenty of opportunities to just get out and explore the environment.

Take Education Outside with Scenic Caves

A location with plenty of restaurant choices. While a kitchen in the suite is an extra bonus for families for snacks and early breakfast meals, being close to a good variety of restaurants is important too. This really allows us as parents to sit back and enjoy our time with our family.

Planning a Fall Family Getaway

Look for amenities that your family will actually use, such as a pool or even a restaurant in the hotel. Our boys love going for an early or late night swim so this is always number one on our list.

Planning a Fall Family Getaway

Blue Mountain in Collingwood offers all of this and more. We stayed at the Seasons hotel and were extremely impressed with the amenities not only in the hotel itself but the surrounding area. Being in the centre of the village allowed us to move around easily around the village, visiting new shops, going on hikes and trying out new restaurants (my husband tried his first beaver tail!). We had a fabulous weekend away from home just focusing on us as a family and exploring nature. A definite win win for us as a family.

What do you look for when booking a family getaway?

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Convergence by Trudie Hayes

iRead Book Tours

Three pre-teens, whose paths had never crossed before, will have their lives forever changed in Convergence.


About Convergence

It was the first day of school and anxieties were running high. For certain​ ​there was the excitement of moving up a grade, but there was also the dread of anything and everything that could go wrong. Not only were the possibilities endless, they were totally out of your control. Whether or not you were accepted rested squarely on the shoulders of the popular kids. Suppose you were too short or too tall; too smart or not smart enough; too rich or too poor; or just plain different?

These thoughts were fresh on the minds of Otis, Chandler and Marissa. Three pre-teens whose paths had never crossed, although they lived in the same town in Connecticut. Their backgrounds were so diverse they may as well have lived worlds apart. That was all about to change when on their way to school a series of bizarre events lump them together. Literally!

Join them on this unreal journey to alternate realities never before re­vealed. Go back in time to a parallel past, the All Agos. Coexist in a present experience that mirrors your own, the Ne’er Now. Finally and with greater understanding, manifest in a future of your creation, the Will Be Once.

My Thoughts

The plot line in Convergence is very appealing to the youth. Here are three young teens, struggling through school and acceptance, they are brought together in an interesting way. These are teens that would never have really have come together in any other circumstances. They come together at first in acts of kindness and then later as the adults in their lives guide them.

I found at times this novel was hard to follow along with. Situations changed quickly or were underdeveloped causing it to be hard to understand for me. At times, I had to retrace the story to see if I had missed something. I love fantasy and sci-fi novels but I found some of the concepts harder to follow in this novel, maybe having it further developed may help?

This novel is geared towards teens who love fantasy. I think older teens will appreciate this novel more as it may be more difficult for younger teens to follow.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the Author

Trudie L. Hayes’ personal story and family life influenced her mission to spread the core values of self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-love to children and persons of all ages. An affiliation with physically and mentally disabled adults and children spanning many years is a major contributing factor. The caregiver role has been paramount throughout much of her life, even while furthering her education or working full-time in a corporate setting.

These experiences have given her a deep understanding of the trials and struggles associated with a compromised existence. As well as the inspiration and joy derived from living life to one’s personal best.

It is through these myriad life experiences that Hayes began writing and registering several related trademarks. With a grander vision of promoting confidence and self-worth.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Hayes still calls the Nutmeg State home. The oldest of two children, she remains close to her siblings. When Hayes is not writing or managing her business, she dedicates her time to other creative outlets and artistic pursuits. Hayes has a deep appreciation and passion for music in its many forms; she enjoys writing song lyrics, performing, and has an affinity for Jazz.

The Giveaway!

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

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Threading the Needle by Gabriel Valjan

Italy Book Tours

Book Three in the Roma series, finds us back in Italy in Threading the Needle.

Threading the Needle Book Review

About Threading the Needle


Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor, Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain student Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”

My Thoughts

It is hard to believe but book three in this series is even more incredible than the first two!

Threading the Needle is all about building trust. Bianca has to break with her personality traits and trust her friends in order to solve this new case. Each character plays a strong role in solving this intense plot that starts with the murder of Charlie Brooks. Threading the Needle is intense, action packed and full of suspense. It constantly left me on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out the next step only to be fully surprised! Even more so, with real world events mixed in I found myself looking up the events to understand the  novel even more so. It opened up a whole new world for me that I was not even aware had happened. I love novels that make you think like this and expand your knowledge.

Threading the Needle is the perfect third novel in this series that you will not want to put down! It has everything you need and more with no disappointments.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Gabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.

The Giveaway!

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

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Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich

Italy Book Tours

We enter into the lives of Italians during the Second World War and witness their daily struggle in Port of No Return.

Port of No Return

About Port of No Return

Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

My Thoughts

What an incredible, heart breaking story Port of No Return tells. You cry, you smile and you sit in disbelief at the personal strength and perseverance these individuals had. I can’t even begin to imagine all that they witnessed and all that they had to go through in order to just survive.

Our two main characters, Contessa and Ettore, have a good life in Italy. This is quickly torn apart when the war reaches their village and destroys all that they have worked for. They find shelter with friends but are quickly torn apart by allegiances. This causes the family to separate and leads them down a dangerous path. One that with every turn of the page brought new fears and trials, that as a reader leaves you on the edge of your seat. Life is a constant struggle for them. You find yourself crying, praying, hoping and smiling with them.

Port of No Return was like opening an intimate journal, a struggle for family, for love, for rebuilding their lives and the immense strength each of these individuals had. At the end, this could very well be so many people’s life that we are reading. These citizens were displaced from their homes and forced to wait out immigration in camps, never knowing where or when they would find a home. It gives a sense of new respect and admiration for the generations that came before us and all that they struggled with to give their children freedom and a new life. I have since re-read this book several times, as well as borrowing it to a co-worker who also fell in love with the story.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chapters.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Michelle Saftich is a first-time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia.  She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. She is married with two children.

The Giveaway!

My readers now have the chance to win their own copy of Port of No Return, enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck.

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Author Interview

What inspired the book?

My father was just a baby when his family had their house bombed and they lost everything during World War II. Their experiences in Italy’s Fiume and as displaced people in Europe inspired my writings about this time period and part of the world.

How did you do research for your book?

I interviewed my father and his family’s friends as well as reading online news articles, research papers, World War II refugee accounts and websites dedicated to Fiume and its history including those of Italian museums.

Your book is set in Fiume, Italy. Have you ever been there?

My family visited when I was a child of nine years. The city is now known as Rijeka, Croatia.

How long have you been writing?

I have wanted to be a writer since the age of six. I have always written stories and manuscripts in my free time. Working as a journalist, sub-editor and in public and media relations, I have come to learn many different writing styles. My debut novel took two years to research and write.

What is your next project?

I am writing a sequel to Port of No Return. I want to explore how the Italian family adapts to Australian culture after migration.

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

During most of the writing of Port of No Return, I was working two days a week as a sub-editor and raising two young, school-aged boys. So three days a week, I would do housework for one hour each morning then write until school pickup time, a total of 15 hours a week.

Favourite childhood holiday spot?

I have wonderful memories of beachside holidays on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. In particular, we stayed at a holiday apartment fronting the ocean at Burleigh Heads. I still recall when I was twelve years old, making my father carry a heavy typewriter up to the holiday apartment, so I could write on the balcony, while gazing at the sea.

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

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Warm Up Your Fall Home Decor with Posterjack


Fall is such a beautiful time of the year with the vibrant colours in nature. Our natural environment makes for beautiful backdrops for family portraits and individual shots. I love heading out with the boys this time of year to catch them in motion against the gorgeous reds, yellows and browns. These photographs make the best home decor decorations, they are personal, have a connection and not to mention visually stunning.

Warm up Your Fall Home Decor with Posterjack

Finding a way to display these shots can be a challenge at times. You want your photographs to be displayed in a manner that encompasses their warmth and spirit without taking away from the natural elements of the shot itself.

So how do we accomplish this?

Posterjack has three simple home decor solutions for you to display your photography that includes canvas prints, mixed material and rustic mantels. Each of these items have their own unique element to help you tell your story.

Posterjack’s rustic mantels includes wood prints, barn wood prints and woodstand prints. Matching this to your home decor or even fall inspired theme decorations will really bring to life the decor while emphasizing the natural beauty of the outdoors.

Warm Up Your Fall Home Decor with Posterjack

Posterjack provides you with custom designed canvas prints that displays the rich colours in your photographs to their best advantage. Canvas prints are one of my favourite home decor items, can you honestly see anything more beautiful than the trees below? It is a starting conversation piece – even more so when you can brag that it is an image you caught yourself!

Warm Up Your Fall Home Decor with Posterjack

For some added variety and depth, try using mixed art materials that includes metal, acrylic and photoboards to display your work. We have a display above our television and this concept works really well for us. You can also add in some natural elements with fall decorations, pinecones, woods, animals and so on.

Warm Up Your Fall Home Decor with PosterjackWhichever way you decide to warm up your home decor with, Posterjack is there to help you create a unique and meaningful design to complement your home and life.

How do you add warmth to your home decor in the fall?

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