Monday, February 27, 2012

Peeps Eyewear - Review and Give-away!

When I was contacted about doing a review and give-away for Peeps Eyewear, I explained that none of my children wear glasses yet--with my genes it's only a matter of time. They decided to let us try out their product anyway.

Last week a lovely pink box arrived in the mail. Inside was a little girl's treasure--a pink silky cape; a pink crown, a book about a princess and finally a silky pink case with a pair of sparkly pink glasses. Lilly and Molly were beyond thrilled. Let's just say they had a little battle over who would be the first ones to try on the costume. When it was Molly's turn, she kept saying "I'm beautiful. I'm beautiful." Lilly loves the glasses so much that she insists on wearing them all the time.

For my girls it's just dress-up but many little girls need to wear glasses. Peeps Eyewear is a company that helps little girls feel beautiful even with glasses, reminding them with a dress-up outfit, a sweet book and sparkly pink glasses that even princesses wear glasses (we can get into a discussion about princesses and marketing to little girls later--my little girls have regular Legos, by the way).

All I know is that my little girls felt special. They loved the glasses and accompanying costume. If Lilly had to wear glasses, it certainly wouldn't be a problem to get her to wear the Peeps Eyewear glasses.

Peeps Eyewear are available online or from several eye doctors. In Utah, Peeps Eyewear can be purchased from Standard Optical in Salt Lake City.

Peeps Eyewear is also offering one cape and crown set as a give-away to one lucky reader of Utah Mom's Life. It's a fun set that would add to the magic of the little girl's dress-up box.

To enter leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, March 2nd at 11:59 MST. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Saturday, March 3rd. Good luck.

Cutting for Stone - Book Review

A year ago my niece Anna recommended strongly that I read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I ordered it immediately because I almost always likes the books she suggests. I was talking to her again a few weeks ago and she asked if I had ever gotten around to reading the book. I hadn't. It had sat on one of my to-read shelves taunting me this entire time. "Read it next," Anna demanded. And so I did.

Do you know the feeling of spending a significant portion of time reading a rather long novel and when you reach the conclusion you are actually sad to say goodbye to the complex and interesting characters that inhabit the story? I experience this phenomonon with the occasional book. This is exactly how I felt about Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Set in the exotic and unusual locale of Ethiopia, Cutting for Stone tells the story of Marion and Shiva Stone--twin brothers. Their mother, a nun, dies during childbirth and their father, a surgeon, flees abandoning them to the other doctors and staff of the Missing Hospital in Ethiopia.

As the boys learn and grow and develop their own talents in medicine, the novel builds on their relationship and what it means to be family and what it means to be an individual. The characters are at once real, sympathetic and admirable.

I'm coming late to the table with this novel and I can only echo the sentiments shared by many others. This book is fabulous, intelligent, thrilling and riveting. It is a rare gem of literary genius.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No One Is Here Except All Of Us - Book Review

Magical. Lyrical. Mesmerizing. Haunting. Heartbreaking. Tender. Hopeful. Healing. Life.

How can I describe the unique and unforgettable novel No One Is Here Except All Of Us by Ramona Ausubel? Part fable. Part poetry. Part fairy tale. Ausubel takes the stories that she has heard from her grandmother since childhood and weaves them into a breathtaking and heart wrenching novel with characters that are vivid and alive in their human desires, aches and triumphs.

A remote Jewish village in Romania decides to create a new world for themselves as the Nazis and war threatens eminent danger. Constructing a society that cares for everyone in the village, they cut themselves off from the outside world and choose instead to believe that the world has started over. They alone exist. Having a strong faith and a stranger that is determined to protect them, they successfully live peacefully in their new world for several years. But the other world continues and the war that has taken over Europe will not leave them unmolested. As their faith in their new world is shattered they turn to hope.

Hope = Life.

A novel like No One Is Here Except All Of Us is a rare gift and Ramona Ausubel is a rare talent.

** I received a free copy of No One Is Here Except All Of Us in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Winner of LONG ROAD HOME

Wow! I almost forgot to pick a winner! Thanks for being patient.

The winner of the paperback copy of Long Road Home by Will Allison is . . .


Congratulations! Please send me an email with your information so we can ship the book to you.  Thanks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All That I Am - Book Review

Yesterday morning, I told Utah Dad, "if you read one single book that I suggest to this year, read All That I Am."

All That I Am by Anna Funder is a novel based on the true story of small group of friends and political activists who must flee their native Germany as Hitler gains power in the 1930s but who continue to fight against the Reich from their exile in London. They would spend years in prison, give their lives or even their very souls during this harrowing and dangerous attempt to stop a madman by exposing his abuses to the naive world.

I was engrossed in this novel. It was terrifying to be reminded once again of the long and deadly reach of the Nazi Party as Hitler seizes power and reigns with terror. It was helpful to have recently read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (read my review **here**) so that I already had a familiarity with events such as the Night of the Long Knives or Röhm-Putsch--the night Hitler and the Nazis staged a crime to give them an excuse to murder hundreds of political opponents and critics. While All That I Am does an amazing job of bringing the very real human fear surrounding these events and others, I was grateful that I already had some background to place the story.

Anna Funder has an amazing ability to take her research regarding these very brave and real people and give them character on the pages. Her characters are strong, yet have very real human flaws. Toller's depression is intense and at the same time utterly and tragically believable. Though it plays only a small part in the theme of the story, Funder's details of Ruth's struggle with aging are ever so respectful and compassionate as she reminds the reader that the elderly have stories and value. I was very moved by Funder's work.

This novel is as gripping and intriguing as any spy novel but is so much more interesting because it is essentially true. Funder is an incredible writer and she successfully breathes life into a story that has waited too long to be told.

** I received a complimentary copy of All That I Am in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Plague

My children have been sick with a nasty virus for the last week. Thomas was home from school for almost a week and Amberly is home again today. They're pretty miserable. The only good thing about this virus is that the sick kids spend about 22 hours a day sleeping.

And Molly was so cuddly. As she snuggled in my bed for some comfort the other night, I couldn't resist snapping a picture of her cute rosy cheeks. She rarely sits still lately so I totally took advantage of the sweet moments. She's feeling better but has lost her voice. It's really quite adorable.

But now I'm tired of all the sickness and I just want everyone to get better.

Long Drive Home - Book Give-away

To celebrate the release of Long Drive Home by Will Allison in paperback (read my review **here**), the publishers are offering a free copy as a give-away to one of my lucky readers.

In Long Drive Home, Glen gives in to his road rage. He only means to scare the reckless driver. His one quick action will cause a deadly reaction by the teenage driver and set in motion a series of events and decisions that will drastically change Glen and his family's lives.

I really enjoyed this powerful story about choices and consequences and I think you will too.

To enter to win a copy of Long Drive Home, leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, February 10th at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and will be announced on Saturday, February 11th.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Golden Hour - Book Review

Reading the synopsis of The Golden Hour by Margaret Wurtele, I was immediately intrigued. Giovanna is a young woman living in Tuscany during World War II. Her village is occupied by the Germans as the Italians have now aligned themselves with the Allies. As the Italians wait for the Allied troops to liberate them, some, including Giovanna's brother, join the Resistance. Her brother asks Giovanna to help hide his Jewish friend Marco. And, of course, Giovanna will fall madly in love with Marco.

I actually found that I had to drudge my way through this novel. My first problem was the main character. In the beginning of the novel, Giovanna is flirting with a love affair with one of the occupying Nazi soldiers. That entire experience paints her as flighty, fickle and reckless. Later, when entrusted with the duty of supplying the Resistance, she has so much trouble keeping her secret. At the same time, the author describes her as very pious, devoted to her religion and the cause of the Italians. Obviously, she is just a girl and will grow up during the novel. I realize this, but the progression doesn't seem realistic. Then, she meets Marco and she is willing to sacrifice her family, the lives of others, and her religion for his love. I would buy it if the author had more successfully portrayed their romance. As told, it came across as very shallow. Marco was a very two-dimensional character, in spite of the inclusion of his journal entries.

Overall, I was disappointed by this novel. It had a beautiful setting and a promising plot but the writing was wordy and awkward. It lacked the passion that would make me want to root for the love affair.

The details of the war between the Italians and the Germans and the Allies as well as the racial tension throughout the country were interesting (though I question some facts and even the inconsistencies of Giovanna's earlier naivete about what was happening to Jews and then her sudden defense of them and the Black Allied soldiers), but hardly made the book worth the time.

** I received a complimentary copy of The Golden Hour in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. The Golden Hour will be released next week. **