Category: reviews

The Secrets of Happy Families Review

There is no denying the fact that when we are happy in our home life we function better, feel less stressed and communicate better with others around us. Happiness in our home life is incredibly important for our personal well being. I definitely can feel the difference in myself when chaos and stress disrupts our emotional well being at home. I can see these effects in my children in their temperament and behaviour towards eachother. 
I love attending workshops and reading books to help me with my parenting skills. Sometimes the information is helpful and other times I feel like it would not apply to our family or is something I could never see myself implementing in our home. I was excited to review The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler for many reasons. Who doesn’t want to work on skills to increase their family’s happiness? I am always up for anything that will help my family in the long run!
This book was developed after Bruce Feiler was determined to find the best solutions about raising happy families. He gathered the latest research, team building exercises and problem solving techniques from some of the greatest experts out there. He then tested these techniques out on his family. He developed techniques to help build stronger family relationships, managing chaos, teaching our children values and having fun as a family.
The Secrets of Happy Families starts off with the quote: “All happy families are alike”. At first I did not understand the quote but reading through the book it began to make sense. Happy families all have similar things in common: adaptation, communication and being together. I think we all know communication is important as well as being able to change to different situations but it is usually the how do we do this that is the difficult part. I am in no way perfect – I lose my patience, I can yell, sometimes when I argue with my husband I do not listen to his side of the argument. I know this and I am always open to learning new techniques to help not only myself but our family. 
Bruce provides an open dialect with his readers providing easy to follow techniques with valid reasons behind them. He actually offers over 200 strategies to help deal with pretty much any situation your family could be facing! Pretty awesome, right? 
My personal favourite technique is one that has been implemented at my work over a year ago. At work we have daily “huddles” first thing in the morning and this is the perfect opportunity for all team members to catch up, share information, talk about what went right and what is going wrong. We have started weekly huddles which are going really well. It is the perfect way for each one of us to have an open forum to talk about what we like, what is not working well for our family and to let each other know what is going to happen in the upcoming week (appointments, practices, staying late at work, etc..). Common sense right? But how many of us actually take the time to work on communicating not only with our partner but our children. By communicating I mean taking the time to sit and listen, understand what they are saying and feeling – not just telling them (something that I have been guilty of many times!). 
This is one of the best parenting books I have ever read. Bruce provided concrete examples and techniques that would fit our lifestyle and have actually helped us as a family work together. Life is hard enough as it is why not work to make the home a happy place? I know that his techniques have already started to improve our family dynamics! 
To find out more reviews on this book, check out the Litfuse blog tour. To purchase your own click here.
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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Carolina Gold Review: Bravery, Strength and Romance

Historical fiction is one of my favourite literacy genres to read. I love reading fiction based in historical settings as you get an excellent insight in to the way people lived during those times. When that type of novel can combine romance and the bravery of a young woman – I am in book heaven!

Carolina Gold is written by Dorothy Love and takes place in South Carolina just after the American civil war. We are introduced to Charlotte Fraser who is returning to her father’s once flourishing rice plantation after the war. She is determined to harvest the popular rice called Carolina Gold. She returns to a plantation in ruins, belongings stolen, freed bondsmen and scarce money.
To help make ends meet, she accepts the position of tutor to her neighbouring plantation owner’s two young daughters. The owner, Nick Betancourt, sets out on a course to prove his ownership of not only his plantation but several of the neighbouring ones as well. This sets in motion a journey for Charlotte that opens up many doors to hidden family secrets.
Carolina Gold is based on a true story written by Elizabeth Allston Pringle called A Woman Rice Planter. The novel describes the difficulties rice plantation owners had in keeping workers, the changed relationships with former slaves, decline in the price of rice and the devastation of crops from natural disasters. 
My favourite aspect of this novel has to be the fact that it is based on a true story. It is incredible to think that such a brave, young woman could have accomplished this much in a very male dominant society. Dorothy Love remained true to so many details during this time period that you were able to get a complete picture of the daily lives of not only rice plantations owners after the war but a woman’s perspective throughout this time.
Dorothy Love has an incredible way with words that drags you into the story. The romance parts of the novel were not overly drawn out which is perfect! I find that some novels can overplay the romance to the point that the story does not develop enough. She balanced the two perfectly! Not being too familiar with the details during this time period it was extremely interesting to dive into this historical period and learn about their struggles and changes that both sides had to go through during this period.
Dorothy Love is a former freelance writer and college professor. She is the author of the Hickory Ridge novels set in her hometown of Tennessee.
You can find more details on the novel and reviews here. If you would like to purchase a copy of this book you can do so here
Rating: 5/5
Don’t forget that they are also hosting a fabulous giveaway! Enter now:
 The release of Carolina Gold coincides with Dorothy’s birthday. Celebrate with her by entering the Southern Essentials Giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on January 14th!
Between January 3–14, visit Dorothy Love’s Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day and be entered to win the $100 Visa Cash Card grand prize. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on January 14th! (Don’t have a Facebook account? Enter here.) RSVP today for Dorothy’s Carolina Gold Author Chat Party on Facebook.
During the party Dorothy will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Southern Essentials Giveaway, and giving away books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she’ll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at her next book!
So grab your copy of Carolina Gold and help Dorothy celebrate her birthday on the evening of January 14th! (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The Dancing Master: Review & Giveaway

I am not shy to admit it – I LOVE historical romances. I am not fussy with certain eras I love them all. There is just something about the magic of centuries long ago, the women in their gowns and the romance. I am constantly downloading one after another on my Kindle for reading. 
The Dancing Master written by Julie Klassen follows the story of Alec Valcourt and Julia Midwinter. Alec Valcourt moves to his uncle’s cottage along with his mother and sister in remote Devonshire in the hopes of starting over from his family’s scandalous past in London. He is shocked to learn that the village matriarch has banned all acts of dancing including lessons and balls due to a tragic memory from her past (Alec Valcourt is a Dancing Master who teaches young men and women the fine art of dancing).
Alec Valcourt finds an ally in the matriarch’s daughter Julia Midwinter. Together they help each other learn about the secrets of their past and carve their own future.
The Dancing Master is written from the perspectives of both Alec and Julia allowing us to have a glimpse into both the characters of Alec and Julia – which I really loved as it helped to develop their personalities and get to know the inner workings of their minds. The novel was full of interesting turns and spins – most I would never have guessed! So it really kept me wanting to turn each page and not put it down (to my husband’s dismay!). It had just the perfect amount of romance – nothing overwhelming but simple, innocent first love.
Julie Klassen is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has sixteen years of publishing under her belt. She now writes full time. She is a three time Christy award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award Winner.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Rating: 5/5


Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!



  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the “All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)” Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun “Jane” merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

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Come Out to the Garden: Children’s Book Review

Our family loves reading time – I have to admit I think I love it sometimes even more then they do! I love to act out their books when I read aloud to them, make silly voices and spend quality time with my boys. Finding a children’s book that allows for this and teaching a lesson for them can be hard!
Come Out to the Garden written by Rick January is the story of Mary Louise, her Granny and her Granny’s vegetable garden. It is a beautiful sunny day, as Granny calls out to Mary Louise to “Come out to the garden” so that they can pick vegetables for a special lunch. Mary Louise convinces her Granny to pick the vegetables that sit closer in the shade so that they will not become too hot. They pick a feast of vegetables that they have as their lunch.
The story is written in a simple rhythm that flows perfectly – making it that much easier to read aloud to my boys. It teaches the importance of hard work, growing and sustaining our own food and the relationships between Grandparents and our children. I loved that it had our eldest son talking about our garden that we plan on building in the spring and what vegetables he would like to plant and grow. I love when a children’s book starts conversations with my children that are so important like healthy foods and learning to grow our own food. 
The relationships between Grandparents and Grandchildren is so important for children. It was great that in this story Granny was teaching Mary Louise all about the importance of growing our own garden and the nutritional value of vegetables. Grandparent’s have so much knowledge to give our children and it is important to foster this relationship.
Rating: 5/5
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate the review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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Deck the Halls with Posterjack! #Christmas

The Holiday season is coming up quick! There are now just under two months to purchase or make and wrap presents for all your loved ones. My favourite parts of the holiday season (apart from being with my family!) has to be all the decorating options and choosing unique gifts for each of my family members. My favourite gifts to give? Photographs! I may be a bit biased with my love of photography but who doesn’t love receiving a gorgeous frame of their grandchild or niece/nephew?
Have you visited Posterjack’s website? They create incredible works of art in a variety of mediums from your own photographs! They are able to do prints in acrylic, canvas and even metal. The final prints will amaze you. The bonus? You can create and order from the comfort of your own home!
Here is a look at their typical canvas prints. A welcome addition on any wall!

This is one of their acrylic prints.

And one of mediums that I think is just incredible – a metal print!

They have also developed great ways to decorate your home for the holiday season using your favourite photographs. My favourite has to be the photo wreath – such a creative and festive way to showcase your photos in your home.
Make sure to check out Posterjack and to get those orders in early if you are ordering for the holiday season.
What is your favourite way to display photographs around the home?
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