Book Club

Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

So, I won’t lie – I had figured the twist out on this book fairly early on. However, there were enough characters in this book and the plot line was still delivered well, so it did not stop me from wanting to finish it.

This psychological thriller features an artist Henrietta (“Hen”), her husband Lloyd, their neighbors Mira and Matthew, and Matthew’s brother Richard. Hen and Lloyd had moved into a new neighborhood in the suburbs and quickly took to their next door neighbors,Mira and Matthew, after begrudgingly attending the neighborhood picnic. The fact that the four of them were the only adults on the block without children gave them a common bond off the bat. However from the first dinner date Hen began to unravel who Matthew might be and what he may have done in his past. 

Having suffered at the hands of his verbally and physically abusive father, he now has a hate for all men, especially those that cheat or harm women. Matthew has become some sort of vigilante. But he takes things a bit too far. Helping someone and saving someone from a “bad man” is one thing. But what he does is something altogether different.

Matthew has a brother, Richard, that he has lost contact with over the years. Richard doesn’t come around very often, usually only when Mira is away on business. Now Richard is much more like their father. Very aggressive and chauvinistic towards women, however as faras Matthew is aware he has never acted on any of his thoughts and feelings. That is until Matthew’s friendly coworker comes up missing.

All along, Hen feels she has it all figured out. Even though she had some mental issues in her college years, this is different. She can’t be making it all up, right? Initially she faces off against Matthew with the police, but eventually they begin a sort of extremely odd friendship. Something he has done in the past with several women in his life, many of whom have lost a spouse or boyfriend shortly after the friendship with Matthew began.

Is Lloyd in danger? Has he done anything to be deemed a bad man by Matthew? How will this tale end? Will you figure it out as quickly as I did? Will the truth come out? Has Matthew committed all these criminal acts? Has Richard? Or is Hen losing it again? Will anyone trust her before it is too late? Enjoy!

Book Club

Verity – Colleen Hoover

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover was a little bit of a different, darker read. Being that it features two authors, one helping finish a series for the other who has become an invalid after an accident, there are chapters of her autobiography mixed in with the chapters of this story. That made this book quite a page-turner and a fun read.

In this triangle, there is a gorgeous and kind husband, Jeremy, as well. Verity and Jeremy are said to be “Chronics” – a term made up by Verity for a person who chronically has tragic things happen to them. They have lost two of their three children and now with her accident…it seems the hits just keep on coming.

The main character, Lowen, was selected by Verity’s publisher to finish her serious out since she had a similar writing style. Lowen is invited out to Verity and Jeremy’s home to sort through Verity’s office and find any possible notes regarding her vision for the last three books of the series. Lowen does not find any notes, however she does find a manuscript of an autobiography Verity wrote in the years and months, right up to her accident. Chapter by chapter Lowen uncovers the type of person she believes Verity to be, and it is nothing like Jeremy portrays. All the while Lowen and Jeremy have struck up a connection, putting her in a very tough position to uncover the horrible truth to Jeremy or save him from it.

Could Verity truly have been this heinous person and Jeremy really not have seen it? How did she hide her true character so well? What will Lowen do with the information she has uncovered? And is Verity’s current state real or is it all a hoax?

Find out who wins the man and what happens to that manuscript. I suggest this book for a nice weekend in or even sitting on the beach. It is one you will fly through quickly!

Book Club

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Anonymous Girl is a riveting tale about a young girl, Jess, trying to make her way in the big city. When the opportunity falls into her lap to make a little extra cash one weekend by attending a simple survey on a college campus, she bites the bullet and does so. Whats a girl to do that is strapped for cash? 

The survey is regarding morality and ethics, and as she is posed multiple open ended questions Jess is pressed to open up more and more. At the end of the survey Jess is given the option to further the study with the professor behind the screen for even more money.

Having found out that her family is also falling on hard times, Jess takes the obvious route and chooses to extend the study. To do so, she is required to meet with the professor in a one on one basis for more in depth sessions.

She is also asked to perform “assignments” asked of by the professor, Dr. Lydia Shields. These tasks seem unusual but Jess is ensured that her safety is always the first priority, and that she can stop the sessions at any time.

Little does Jess know, Dr. Shields isn’t just studying morality and ethics, she has an ulterior motive – one that hits much closer to home than expected. Jess also comes to find that she is not the first “subject” to get close to Dr. Shields, who is found to be much more powerful than initially foreseen.

Just how powerful is Dr. Shields? How destructive can she be, especially now that she knows all of Jess’s deep dark secrets? What are all of these assignments for? And who else will be trapped in Dr. Shields’ venomous web?

This book was quite the page-turner. I absolutely loved it. I hope you do as well. Leave a comment below!

Fabulous Finds

For Every Woman Out There

I want to tell you about my personal (but amazing) experience with the Women’s Health Kit from DoTerra. To put is as delicately (and least TMI) as I can, I am going to use weather as the reference guide to my lovely monthly cycle. Not trying to gross anyone out.

I am always regular, no issues there. Once a month, for an entire week, it storms. Now the first two days of the storm it is painfully lightning, thundering, and raining cats and dogs. Shoot, it’s a darn near typhoon! For the rest of the week it just rains and rains and then the last two days of the whole week its lightly drizzling. 7 full days of no sunshine. Cramps, bloating, pigging out on sweets and comfort foods, the whole bit.

Last month, on the last day of my stormy, dreary week, I got my order of Phytoestrogen pills in the mail and began taking them. Truthfully, I was a bit skeptical and didn’t foresee my having a huge change in things. As I said, I am always so regular and never more than a day off from beginning my stormy week again that I assumed things were normal. I did however have some other issues that made me want to begin the Phytoestrogen pills (weight gain, hair loss, etc – all pointing at hormonal issues)

The very next month, two days prior to my next stormy week to begin, I got my next order in the mail of the full Women’s Health Kit, which includes the Phytoestrogen pills, the Bone Nutrient Pills and the ClaryCalm Monthly Blend (which smells HEAVENLY). So for two days before my cycle was to begin I had been adding in the Bone Nutrient Pills (preserving your bone mass and density is critical starting early) and the ClaryCalm on my pulsepoints. The first thing that I noticed was that my storm wasn’t thundering and lighting or raining cats and dogs. It was just a normal storm, like my typical days 3 and 4. No cramps and no desires to munch on everything in sight. I still had a little bit of bloat the day prior to the storm beginning and the day of the storm beginning, but nothing terrible. I thought that was awesome! But to top it off, it was going to get better. My storm only lasted for 2 days! Two full days later, I had no rain. Not even a drizzle!.

If you have PMS, horrendous cramping, irregular cycles, hormonal issues, are pre-menopausal, basically if you are a WOMAN, this kit will be a godsend! I even joked with my friend saying, although I can totally wait, I’m almost excited to see how my next month goes. If it is this easy again I am completely sold and telling every single female friend I know about it!

“Normal hormone levels influence a woman’s good health and emotional well-being from her early teens to her transition through menopause. doTERRA Women gently supports a woman through the menstrual cycle and helps to diminish the normal symptoms of menopause.* doTERRA Women supports healthy bones and heart as women age, while the essential oil blend provides temporary relief from heightened emotions related to regular hormone cycles in women. The doTERRA Women line of products provide natural support throughout the different phases of life.”

This kit includes: Phytoestrogen Lifetime Complex, Bone Nutrient Lifetime Complex, and Clarycalm Monthly Blend for Women. For more info on each item, click on their name. Or to view the whole Kit at once, click here.

Fabulous Finds, Fun With The Fam

In our Dance Bag

We are headed out first thing tomorrow morning to our first competition of the year, Showstopper Regional competition in Sandusky,OH. We have had conventions, master classes, and busy dance schedules all year long with extra weekend practices here and there. But this weekend (and nationals in July) is what we have worked SO hard for all year round! As usual, when heading out of town on any kind of trip, I stress out about what I need to pack and if I will forget something vital. Dance trips are even more stressful.

You have all the costumes and their pieces, dance shoes, headpieces, hats (for some of my son’s classes), rack and rolls, makeup, glitter, jewels, endless hair products, safety pins, super glue, extra tights, clear nail polish, needle and thread, lotions, snacks, waters, studio jackets/gear, warm-up items, Bloch booties, and I am sure I am missing some other vital items. All of that on top of your normal travel items like: clothing to out to eat, swimsuits (since we are competing at the awesome Kalahari Resort and Waterpark, toiletries…you get the gist of that.

See what I mean? Super stressful. I always have to make a list of items as I think of them about a week before we leave because I know if I don’t write it all down, I will forget what I need to grab. The rack and rolls have been a lifesaver with storing most of their dance needs all in one place, especially since I have a dancer of each gender which means they are in completely separate changing rooms and areas. If you haven’t already invested in rack and roll for your dancer, I highly suggest you do. They were the “big” Christmas gift from their grandma this year and have been extremely helpful. I honestly couldn’t imagine this year without them since my 6 year old went from 4 costumes to 7 this year. Gamechanger!

But the reason I really started this post was to discuss some of the items I have begun taking with us on busy weekends and to conventions, and now to our first competition this year. Some of these items are things that you would not consider in the hustle and bustle of remembering those vital items that we talked about above. That list alone seems endless, right? But the below items have become essential to my kids to have with us, and they love using them. Our health during these trips is vital too, right? So read on to figure out what else you might want to consider packing for your busy little dancer and why you would need it. And at the bottom I will share a link to where you can find these items.

First off, the most important thing to me and my family is that all of the items discussed below are completely all natural, safe, purely effective, and therapeutic-grade essential oils. They can be used in place of the items we tend to grab at the store full of chemicals and fillers that are terrible for our bodies, especially our poor little growing kiddos. So here we go:

Deep Blue Rub Packets – This one is my favorite to talk about. Our Deep Blue Rub is amazing for before and after workouts for sore muscles. It is blended in a base of moisturizing emollients that leave your skin feeling soft, not greasy. And is a top choice of massage therapists and sports practitioners. If provides a comforting sensation of cooling and warmth to problem areas. I keep the big bottle at home for us to use throughout day to day for my basketball playing husband and uber-active children. Works on growing pains too! But these sample packets are perfect for a weekend getaway. They come in a box of 10 single-use packets that won’t leak in your travel bags! They are essential for your dance/gym bag or bathroom! Enjoy sharing the soothing blend with others at sporting events, the gym or on the go with these sweet little packets! And again, having two kids in different areas, I can stick a pack or two in each rack and roll and off we go!

On Guard – I love this protective blend to help kill the germs around us, and at dance the germs are ALL around us. I swear our entire studio came back from Tremaine Dance Convention with illnesses. Some were vomiting, some had terrible colds. Just too many kiddos in one area to not pass the germs around! On Guard is a powerful blend that contains natural and effective cleaning properties, protects against environmental threats and supports healthy immune system. The wonderful thing about On Guard is that it can be used topically, internally or even in our favorite household tasks such as laundry detergents, dish detergents, and counter cleaning, with no preservatives added! But my most favorite way to use On Guard on trips like this is to pack the On Guard Sanitizing Mist into my purse and both of their dance bags. They can continually mist their hands and sanitize all day long, as well as aromatically take in the beautiful, uplifting scent, all while preventing the spread of bacteria!

Breathe – Breathe is our respiratory blend, clearing airways and maintaining the feeling of easy breathing. This was not initially one I had thought of, but a dear friend told me how she used it on her daughter before their big cheer weekends and sporting events. She claimed that her daughter felt as though she was able to give more during her performances due to breathing better. My favorite way to incorporate this blend into our weekend is with our Breathe Vapor Stick. I just rub it on their chest, costume on, and onto the stage they go!

Cheer/Motivate – These two, in the touch roller-balls, are my most favorite scents to just wear throughout any day, so I always have these handy. During the days of competitions and conventions, rolling these on their pulse points and back of the neck, or taking deep breaths of these blends in can really promote feelings of optimism, cheerfulness, confidence, courage, belief and happiness. These counteract any negative feelings and doubt. Which, obviously, I do not need to explain why these would be beneficial to our awesome dancers before, and during, their stage presence.

Balance/Serenity (lavender) – I make a roller-ball, which I call Antsy-Pants, consisting of both Balance and Serenity. For dance weekends, these items are two-fold for us. IF you have an anxious or nervous dancer, these two will evoke feelings of balance and tranquility, calming their emotions, and lessening feelings of tension. If you do not have a nervous nancy, these are pertinent for a restful and tranquil nights sleep before their big day(s)! During the day for the nervous dancers I would suggest rubbing on the pulse points and back of the neck. For the best nights sleep I would suggest rubbing on the bottoms of their feet and putting socks on. And Goooooood Night!

Wild Orange – this last item supports healthy immune system and is uplifting to the mind and body. I suggest using it internally with just 1 drop in 4 oz of water. It also acts as a really nice flavor to their boring water bottles when they want a taste of something. Just be sure they are using a metal or glass bottle to drink it out of, because the oils don’t mix well with plastic bottles. Ello is my favorite brand of rubber-protected glass bottles (so no worries about shards of glass if you drop it!)

I hope that I gave you some ideas for items you might want to start bringing with you on outings or trips. These are all kid-approved and most importantly – safe! If you have any questions about these items or any other items from the website below, please feel free to shoot me a message or reach out via text/email. I am happy to help you find a natural and therapeutic-grade option for the issues that ail you or your family members.

And, if you are headed out to a competition this weekend too, or any other fun event – have a blast and break a leg!

Find the items listed above and more here.

Book Club

For Better and Worse – Margot Hunt

“For Better and Worse” by Margot Hunt was a fantastic book involving a couple, consisting of two lawyers, who are struggling with the burden of morality and ethics while dealing with tragic news in regards their son.

Mom is a defense attorney, defending the innocent and guilty alike. The shocking situation concerning their young son causes both mom and dad to act a little out of their element, never being in this kind of position.

The book is split into two parts. The first part is from the perspective of the mother, the second part picking up from the husbands perspective, but always in a forward moving motion. This was a nice break from the books I have read of late, bouncing back and forth between lapses of time.

Each dealing with the news in their own ways, the mother is seemingly left alone a lot to deal which may cause her to let her mind run wild and make some decisions on her own that could affect them both. She might even involve past criminal clients if her husband won’t help.

On top of it all, what is up with her husband? Is he cheating? What are with all those late night business meetings? Can they trust their instincts on the situation? Are others involved lying? Can they protect their son from further victimization? Will they make the right choice? And will they get away with it?

I enjoyed this book and it was a wonderful, quick read. Let me know if you enjoyed it as well!

Book Club

A Killer’s Mind – Mike Omer

“A Killer’s Mind” by Mike Omer was a tantalizing read about Zoe Bentley, forensic psychologist and FBI consultant, and Tatum Gray, FBI agent who has the tendency to go rogue.

Zoe has been mesmerized by the instincts and actions of serial killers since she was a young girl, living in a small hometown of Maynard with one. She has always had the skill set to get inside of the killer’s mind and study them, in turn creating a spot on profile.  

Tatum Gray comes to town, after burning his bridges at the LA office, just in time to take over a new case in Chicago. He quickly flies out and decides he needs the assistance of the highly commended consultant to help him profile the killer.

Once he has Zoe flown out from Quantico to assist him, you find they mix like oil and water with a dash of sexual tension. Over time they learn to work with one another as they attempt to catch this terrifying serial killer, all the while Zoe’s history haunts her and discounts her from clearly profiling the Chicago killer.

Is there a connection of the Maynard and the Chicago killers? What about the clues being sent to her?  Let me tell you that this book ends on the very last page with a spine-tingling open ending – cannot wait to read the next book – “In the Darkness”

Book Club

The Devil Crept In – Ania Ahlborn

“The Devil Crept In” by Ania Ahlborn was a little bit out of my wheelhouse. It was a creepy, gory, and thrilling horror story fit to be told around the campfire. Based in a sleepy town, focused around an intimate family with two young boy cousins who were nearly inseparable. A town where there are entirely too many strays and a lot of missing pets. A town where, once upon a time, even a sweet young boy went missing too.

Young Stevie and Jude are typical boys who play games, sometimes fight and trek through the forest behind their homes quite a bit for entertainment. The tree house they have spent much of their childhood building is their very own fortress of solitude. Stevie, having the abusive stepfather, and Jude’s father having passed away. Losing his father has hardened Jude in many ways, sometimes even towards his best friend and cousin Stevie. But Stevie has always looked up to Jude and finds Jude as the one person he can confide in regarding his home life.

Stevie has had some deeper issues in his past. Sometimes he sees things that aren’t there and he has a difficult time getting his words out due to a speech impediment. Because of this he is found to be insane, or at the very least incredible, by most. This comes to be troubling when Jude disappears one night. Stevie scours the woods and sees something at the old farmhouse they always found eerie and vacant during their forest treks. He tries to help the town find clues as to where Jude has gone. But because Jude has had anger issues and acts out, he is immediately written off as a runaway. Stevie knows that cannot possibly be the case. And then, just like that Jude shows back up. But he isn’t acting anything like himself. He is still angry and mean – but all the time now versus sometimes before. And his health and appearance seem to be continuously getting worse. Of course, Jude is also not speaking about what happened or where he has been.

With the help of Mr. Greenwood, the small-town General Store owner, Stevie digs up clues. But without the belief of his family and the town, he knows he has to do this all on his own to prove something is not right with Jude. Somehow the strays, the pets, and the quiet house in the woods owned by the late town doctor all have to do with what Jude has gone through.

Was Stevie just seeing things when he saw a monster on the porch of that quiet farmhouse in the woods? Will he ever be brave enough to face it? Can he even trust Jude anymore? Enjoy this chilling spine-tingling tale for yourself and let me know your thoughts on this read.

Book Club

Second Life – S. J. Watson

 

Second Life” by S.J. Watson was by far one of my favorite books to have read lately. This story has it all: lust, affairs, lies, blood money, murder, mystery, cybersex, family issues, addiction, and even stalking. The twists and turns in the book kept it very intense and made it extremely hard to put the book down. It is a lengthy novel but I read it within a couple of days! There were moments so suspenseful that when someone approached and spoke to me while I was reading I literally jumped out of my chair! Hate to say, but that happened on multiple occasions during this read!

Julia has it all: a family with a top surgeon as her husband, money is not an issue, she does what she loves for work, and she has close friends. But when her sister Kate suddenly is murdered, Julia seems to risk everything she has to try and figure out what happened – her sobriety and her life. She considers placing herself in her sisters shoes to make contact online with people from some of the multiple websites her sister visited, wondering if one of those virtual relationships had a real world connection.

The possibilities are endless. Kate could have met a violent stranger from her online contacts. She could have come across a bad situation at the wrong time. Someone from her past could be seeking revenge. She could have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd of friends which, with her history, is likely. Julia just wants to figure out what happened to her baby sister. But will Julia go too far? Will she risk everything? And who all could be involved in this? Maybe someone even closer than she thinks. Which path will she choose? And will this second identity she creates to do her online “research” end up jeopardizing her real world?

Let me know if you enjoyed this read as much as I did! In the book club we have read some S.J. Watson books previously, but this has to be my favorite by far!