Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Killing Ploy Book Review

I have a fast paced action thriller to tell you about tonight called The Killing Ploy by Steve Haberman. This is of course about the CIA and those who work for the system and against it all at the same time. This book is only available as an ebook right now and you can find it on If you wish to purchase it. I will be giving 2 ebooks away so you might want to hold off until the giveaway is over and the winner's names are drawn.
As is my usual circumstances, I will give you an excerpt and then I will share a little of what I thought.
Pablo de Silva was once a tracker and shooter in the CIA's elite Eyes and Ears Unit, whose work in Europe includes surveillance and if necessary, killing. But that was before Berlin.

On a Berlin mission, he lost his nerve and failed to save the life of a fellow agent and lover. Tormented by this, sick of violence, held now in low regard by colleagues, he's transferred to a cushy job in Guatemala City to recuperate.

One day, his former mention/head of the Unit calls him home with a new assignment. Liaise with an FBI counterterrorism expert in San Diego and see if the murders of two top Defense Department military contractors, headquartered in that city, have any European terrorist connection. If so, his mentor's Unit will take over.

The task seems simple to de Silva. Off to San Diego and beyond he goes, not realizing he's slipped into a dangerous world. Does he have more enemies than he thinks? Should he watch his back as well as his front? Not until the conclusion of his mission does he find out. And not until that end do his allies discover Pablo de Silva is much more than he seems.  
I have to tell you that this book is fast paced and full of action and danger. Poor Pablo de Silva was abducted one night and taken back to Washington to be given a second chance to determine if he was either a coward or had grown some courage while he had that cushy job down in nowhere land. He's not sure if he is happy about the turn of events or not. All he knows is that the dreams won't stop. He keeps having them, that moment he froze when he should have acted and watched a fellow CIA agent and lover, get killed right in front of him. Alot of people are not willing to have him as backup, afraid he will freeze again.

But, his old boss, George, decides to bring him back to Washington, D.C. The only problem with that is, they did it in a weird way. They kidnapped him off the streets, put him in a van and drove out to a garbage dump. They searched him for identity information and then all of a sudden he felt the prick of a needle and the next thing he knew, he was back in Washington, D.C. Now just what the heck is George and these other CIA agents up to? He certainly does not have any love lost with Stuart Bishop, who thinks he's washed up, a coward and doesn't want anything to do with him. Or does he?

Something big is going on in Paris that has everyone spooked about Terrorists and that is one reason that de Silva has been brought back to the States. They want him to just spy on some people and report back. Pablo de Silva is not sure after all that has happened to him if he can do it again. He still has the nightmare's from when Katarina was killed. His new handler, Stuart Bishop, really does not like him and wishes he could make him go away but George, their boss, wants to give Pablo de Silva a second chance.

I will stop here because I don't want to give the whole story away. I can tell you honestly, that at first, I did not think I could read this manuscript because of all the politics and backstabbing that goes on between the CIA and FBI and God only knows who else! But, after reading the first chapter, I really got into it and so will you. It's a good spy and drama story that even your husbands or boyfriends would like, unless they don't read books period, then, you might have a problem. Otherwise, enjoy the book!

You can buy the ebook at Amazon or Smashwords.

The author, Steve Haberman, has agreed to offer (2) readers a code to get their own ebook for free! Since these are ebooks, I am going to make this giveaway for the U.S. and Canada. Good Luck Everyone!

Mystery Time Book Review

I have to admit I was a little excited about getting this book. It came the other day and I was so mesmerized by the envelope and the stamps that were on it, if truth be told. Why? Because they came from Israel! I quickly opened the envelope as carefully as I could so I didn't mess it up too much and I have it now in my collector's box. I have never gotten mail from Israel so this was big stuff to me! A little ole woman in Georgia, really gets something from there? So, of course, I had to read the book ASAP! Here is an excerpt and then I will tell you a little bit about it.
An American microbiologist dies on stage as he is about to lecture at a sc a scientific congress in Prague, an apparent victimof local criminals. Professor Hildegard Kraus from Heidelberg and her Hungarian born colleague Alex Kertesz from Jerusalem, who hear his last words, are left wondering whether one of the assembled scientists might be the real killer. Whoever it was has also taken Hildegard's watch, a treasured family keepsake with an extraordinary history.

The book itself is a very slim and quickly read book that has the present day events revolving around what happened in the past from the time the watch was made and all the owner's who have had it thru the years. It is kinda a little bit of a history lesson with some fiction thrown in for good measure.

The storyline about Alex & Hildegard is really a little bit like filler information as the real story has to do with the watch. It does have a long and rich story and it ends up in Hildegard's possession because her late husband's father had given it to him. When her husband, Richard, died, she carried it around to remind herself of him. She is very businesslike and very what I call uptight. There were a couple of books before this one that I did not get to read so I am not privy to all the details, but it seems that Hildegard and Alex have known each other for about 6 years while working on the same project that they want published.

The murder of their fellow scientist is baffling and worse, was that in his death, the robbers made off with Hildegard's watch because the murdered scientist had borrowed it and forgot to give it back. The story revolves around getting this watch back and in the meantime, you get the history lesson about the watch.

It almost looked like Alex & Hildegard might have something going on, but no such luck. He is married and has children and lives in Jerusalem and she lives in Germany. They only meet up occassionally to discuss their joint project. To say the least, it is a little bit of an odd relationship, and it's too bad that Alex had to be married.

For some strange reason, when Hildegard holds the watch, she see's images of either things in the past or things in the future. It scares her and she thinks about selling it when she finally does get it back but instead she asks Alex to hold onto it for a few nights to see if he has any visions. He didn't and she is disappointed because she did not want to think she was losing her mind or reality.

I am not sure if this author will write another book picking up where this one left off, but it seems like the ending has left a possibility. There are 2 books prior to this one and if you want to be able to make sense of the whole thing, I would suggest you read those before reading this one. The first book is called The Wish To Kill (written 10 years ago when Alex was younger) and the second one is Murder With A French Accent (which is about Alex's work). They are all written by Janet Hannah who now lives in Jerusalem.

It was a fun, easy and quick read so if you are limited in your time, then this book will be a good match for you. It only has 241 pages and I was able to read it in one day. (I was able to do that because I wasn't feeling good and could do nothing but lie down, so it was pretty easy to do) At the most, it should take you no more than 2 or 3 days to finish the book. If any of you do decide to get the book and read it, I would love some comments on what you thought about the book and the characters.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monitary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Diamond Candle Giveaway

These Diamond Candles are so HOT right now! Every candle has a ring in it, valued between $10 and $5,000!
If you've been wanting a Diamond Candle, here's your chance!
Bargain Hound and My Frugal Wife are hosting a Diamond Candle giveaway!
And they are not giving away just one Diamond Candle, they are giving away TWO of them!
Yes, this means there will be 2 winners! Will you be a winner? Get your entries in!
The winners will have their choice of scent from the Diamond Candles website!
I have never tried these so I would love to know how many of you have and what is your opinion?  I would love a comment below letting me know if you want me to keep pursuing the Diamond Candle Giveaways when I find them. Good Luck Everyone and Have Fun!
This will run from 6/29 at 12:01 am EST through 7/13 at 11:59 pm EST.
This is open to US residents only. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sassy Steals $200 Handmade Items Giveaway **Closed**

Win $200 worth of fine handmade items featured on Sassy Steals.

Brought to you by hosts A Thrifty Diva Surviving Mommy Hood & Giveaway Maven

Prizes Include:
Bezel Love Necklace
Flower headband
Pave Bracelet
Hello Kitty Necklace
Hand Stamped Birth Stone Necklace
Hand Engraved Necklace
White Owl Filigree Ring
Interchangeable Pink Peony T-Shirt
Hand Embroidered Weave Necklace
lace ruffled legs
Country Gourmet Slow Cooker Trio

Thanks to Sassy Steals for sponsoring this giveaway of fabulous boutique finds.

Giveaway runs 6/29 @12:01 am - 7/6 @ 11:59 pm! Good Luck Everyone! I would love to know which products you loved the most for future opportunities.

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Disclaimer: The giveaway prize will come from our Sponsor Sassy Steals. By entering this giveaway you are not holding YOUR-BLOG-NAME-HERE responsible for shipment or delivery of this giveaway. For any questions or concerns please contact the host A Thrifty Diva.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Get Your Sample of 5 Hour Energy

They have another great opportunity for you from the The folks at On June 27-28, they will open up their web site for all U.S. Family Guide Bloggers to receive a free bottle of 5-hour Energy. The offer will be open exclusively to the Blogger community of U.S. Family Guide and is limited to one bottle per person. Supplies are limited so please submit your information today.

Here is the link to share with your audience:

Step 1: Tweet to your Followers
Get Your FREE Bottle of 5-hour Energy on June 27-28! #5HRUSFG

Step 2: Post to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.
On June 27-28, will open up their web site for all U.S. Family Guide Bloggers to receive a free bottle of 5-hour Energy.

Step 3: Post on blog and email to friends

Do you ever have that 2:30 feeling? 5-hour Energy FIXES TIRED FAST. It is for anyone who works hard day or night. Buy it at everyday low prices Online and receive Free Shipping on every order! They are the only place on the web where you can try the nations #1 Energy Shot for Free. Order your free sample today!!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monitary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Five Miles South of Peculiar Book Review

I have a new book to tell you about today called Five Miles South of Peculiar written by Angela Hunt. As is my custom, I will show you the excerpt from the back of the book or the insert in the front cover.

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather's legacy and she enjoys being a pillar of the community . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.
Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that a botched throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she's created, but when she meets a man haunted by tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique woman reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.
My Thoughts:

Two of the sisters are twins, Darlene & Carlene. When Carlene decided to go to Juliard, the music school in New York, she left behind her boyfriend, Griff, who after she was gone, turned to Darlene. They married and lived a long and happy life in Peculiar and had two children.

Carlene is forced to give up her music career when her throat surgery does not help her. She returns home to Peculiar and there is still alot of tension between her and Darlene.

The third sister, Nolie, was left at the altar and she never got over that and retreated to the family home, Sycamores. She never learns to drive and all she cares about is her gardens and her 2 dogs. She makes aprons and then will just hand them out to everyone. Until the day that Erik Payne comes to their estate seeking work. He is a divorced minister who lost his church because of the divorce and he and Nolie will have to face some tough choices as time goes on.

The Sycamores has been in the family a long time. Their grandfather died in 1968 and nothing much has been done with the house since then. So, the women hire Erik to help get the house back in shape. It is Darlene's & Carlene's birthday coming up that brings the two women face to face again after all these years.

This is a good hearted book that I think you will enjoy. It is really about every day life that most of us live and we can relate to these women on several different occasions. It is what you do with those choices that determines the kind of person you are.

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Private Selections Food Products Review

If you have never tried Private Selection's ice creams, then you really need to! The one below is my all time favorite, Denali Extreme Moose Tracks! It is a chocolate ice cream that has bits of mini Reese's Cup, chunks of other chocolate and a ribbon like dark chocolate that runs throughout the ice cream. Talk about decadent, that is what this is! I probably gain a few pounds every now and then when I break down and buy a small pint like the one above. I don't trust myself with a whole big carton. Oh, in case you don't know, Private Selections is a brand from Kroger, who is the main grocery store that I buy from because of their great selections.

I also got to try out Private Selection's Angus Beef which is really what I have used for years based on my experience with other brands or types of ground beef. I try to always get within the 90/10 range or will get the 85/15 if I have to. Those numbers represent how much fat is in each pack. The higher the first number and the lower the second number is how you know how much fat there is. I like the 90/10 because it does not create as much grease when cooking and to me that is very important. My stomach cannot handle loaded down grease packing food and I will get cramps every single time that I try. I rarely eat hamburgers or anything with alot of grease on them.

The 90/10 also makes the food taste so much better. Because you are getting all the flavor without the greasy stuff. This is my preferred method of grilling out when we do. Everyone says our hamburgers are the best and I keep telling them to switch but so far I only know of one of my friend's who has and that is because she too, has an upset stomach every time she eats something greasy, especially meat. So, if this sounds like you, then I would switch to the 90/10. Yes, it will cost slightly more but to me it is worth it in order to avoid stomach pain. This is also awesome in our veggie beef soup and in our spaghetti sauce. I am sure each of you have something that you would like it in also.

When we made the hamburgers, we also used Private Selection's new Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Kettle Chips instead of baking our french fries which is what we normally will eat our burgers with. But, because we had these chips to try, we did not make the french fries. I think by now, most of you have caught on that I have IBS along with IC (chronic bladder pain) and if I eat something spicy it will aggravate both of those conditions. So, after a baby bite to test the waters, I had to hand over the chips to everyone else. They were too hot & spicy for me. But, remember, what I consider hot & spicy may not be anything to you. All I can tell you is that everyone else enjoyed the chips. If you have stomach issues like I do, these may not be the best thing for you to try. But for those who can eat this type of chip, my husband says you will love them! I can tell you that they are nice and crispy, just the way we like them.

Finally, we had the wonderful Apple Pie from Private Selections. I love the one that is topped with brown sugar and flour crumbs, so I picked that up instead of the traditional crust top pie.

It is sorta like the old time recipe that our grandmother's and mother's used to make called Apple Brown Betty. Have no idea where that came from but that is what I grew up on as far as an apple pie. Today you might think of it more as a cobbler but back then, we considered it a pie. I guess that is why for some odd reason, I really don't care for crusted apple pie. I love it on all other flavor's of pies, but not on apples. So, when Private Selection came out with their Brown Sugar Crumbled Apple Pie, I took to it like a duck hungry for water! And the best part is that it is absolutely awesome with vanilla bean ice cream on top! I would recommend that you heat the pie up in the microwave first and then scoop the ice cream on top. It will melt some but that is what gives it that extra Umph! factor. Mmm, I love it like that! Course, you are more than welcome to fix it however you wish as I know we all don't like the same thing, this is just my personal favorite way to eat Apple Pie.

I hope that I have given you some insights into the Private Selection's different array of products and that they may not be the national name brand, they are just as good and in some cases, taste even better than that national brand! In the past, I have reviewed several Private Selections products and I can honestly say I haven't tried one yet that I did not like. I hope you will try them out and form your own opinion on what each product tastes like. You will not be sorry that you tried them. If you try nothing else, I hope that you try the Angus Beef ground hamburger meat and the ice cream because they are truly the premium in their line of food. The pies come in not far behind, it is really a matter of what you like the best that will determine which one will become your favorite.

Good Luck on your adventure into the world of Private Selections at Kroger and if you have never tried them before, start with a product you already love from another brand and try their brand instead. Although, I would get a new product to try because I already know their quality, but to ease your mind, start with something you already know instead of getting something you have never tried. That way you will be able to tell the difference in the taste. Happy Eating!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours. Images were provided by me and the cranky camera! I am a BzzAgent and I was provided with a means to experience the product or service thru products that were mailed to me and I passed some along to friends and family. This did not in any way persuade me to give this product a favorable review.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beloved Enemy Book Review

I will be throwing books at you left and right this week, so hold on for dear life, and just take them in and mull them around a little and see which one suits your fancy. Since I haven't felt good lately (you can read the health updates I sent up under Giveaways), I decided to tackle alot of books that I had to review and some I didn't. I have a few books that are just mine and either this week or next want to tell you about a few of them.

I normally don't misjudge and get books I don't like but one in particular was one I won from somewhere and for the life of me I can't remember where. But I kept putting it off for months and finally did it this past weekend. It was the most interesting book I think I have yet to read on Armegedden.

But, for now, let's concentrate on Beloved Enemy by Al Lacy. He is an author who has wrote over 50 historical novels and westerns with 2.8 million copies sold. He said that an editor once told him if he did not write sex scenes in with his books he would be through. Well, Al Lacy's answer to that was, "Then I guess I am through"! I was never so glad to see an author finally stand up for something that I personally don't give a crap about reading! Don't get me wrong, I just think there should be a little mystery to it all. Why are we always in such a rush to know everything right now, our way, right now?

Here is an excerpt of this lovely book:
Jenny's allegiance lay with the Confederate Army. But her heart belonged to the enemy.

Faithful to her family and the land of her birth, young Jenny Jordan covers for her father's Confederate spy missions. But as she grows closer to handsome Union soldier Buck Brownell, Jenny finds herself torn between devotion to the South and her feelings for the man she is forbidden to love.

Overwhelmed by pressure to assist the South, Jenny agrees to carry critical information over enemy lines. But when she is caught in Buck Brownell's territory, will he follow orders to execute the beautiful spy or find a way to save his Beloved Enemy? 

Jenny and her family are from Virginia and they truly loved their state and country. Jenny's father is a Lt. Colonel and he and another southerner named John Calhoun were both on Lincoln's Advisory Committee and they knew if war broke out, they would be in the perfect spot to get critical information to the Confederacy. They also had the help of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a wealthy socialite in Washington and was in the upper crust of society. She had help from several girls who would help get messages across the lines to the Confederacy.

Both Buck Brownell and Jenny Jordan knew the instant that they saw each other that they were in love. But, Jenny's father told her she would not get involved with any soldier, let alone a Yankee. Her father got her into trouble and the only reason she was not convicted and shot as a spy was that she did something really brave for someone very famous and she was given a pardon. Her father was not so lucky and neither was Mr. Calhoun and another girl named Lola.

I am going to stop there so that you will have some surprises to read about if you decide to get this book. It was such a tricky time back then, I don't know how I would have survived or how brave I would have been. Well, I sorta do know. If they had such things as Fibromyalgia back in those days and just did not know what it was, I imagine I wouldn't have lasted long. They had to be pretty tough and I don't Fibromyalgia would have fit into those plans very well at all. I probably would have been considered lazy and no good. Definitely, I would not be married, that is for sure!

I hope you do take the leap of faith and immerse yourself in a little history about our country and some of the people who lived in those times.
Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Pillsbury Baguette Chips Review & Giveaway **Closed**

I was very fortunate recently to get to review some really great new product's that Pillsbury has added to their snack line and they are called Baguette Chips. Right now they just have the two flavors, Cheddar Sun-Dried Tomato and Italian Cheese & Herb. But the best part about these little babies is that you can eat 21 baguettes and only take in 130 calories and half of the fat as regular potato chips! And these are so much more filling!

They actually would like some input from everybody about what other flavors you would like to see them add to the Baguette's and how would you use them? I can only tell you how we used them and then maybe you will have some idea's of your own, if you don't already. Oh, before I forget, you can also go and download a 75 cents off coupon to try a bag for yourself in case you don't win.

We are not very fancy so we just like to eat them either just as they are without anything or with one of our favorite dips or hummus or cheese. Told you we weren't very original but I have no need to fancy them up because they really are full of flavor all by themselves! I loved the Italian Cheese & Herb the best and Mike liked the Cheddar Sun Dried Tomato the best. Of course, he can eat the Tomato ones and I can't so that might have something to do with it.

I am not allowed to eat anything with tomatoes or spicey, so I left those for him. Course now, he also loved the Italian ones, too. Great thing about Mike is that he isn't hard to please. Thank Goodness! I would like to see a Ranch flavored one though, what do you think? I guess because I know there is nothing in Ranch that can hurt me but also because I love it! I was also thinking about how they would taste as a sweet chip like with cinnamon & sugar, doesn't that sound awesome? I like crunchy sweet things and I think these would be super alternatives to candy bars and such.

I would love for you to check them out and see what you think and maybe put in some thoughts as to what flavors you might like to see. Hey, it doesn't hurt to give suggestions! I bet Pillsbury would love to hear them. You can also check them out on their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

Pillsbury has been kind enough to offer one winner the same package that I got to review which is (3) bags of each of the (2) flavors! Open to the U.S. only.
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“Disclosure: The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.”

A Lighter Shade of Gray Book Review

I have a new book to tell you about called A Lighter Shade of Gray by Devon Pearse. As is my custom, I like to start by giving you the excerpt from either the back of the book or inside cover.
So, here is how the story unfolds:
Ten years ago, Devon gave up the love of her life, fearing she would one day fall victim to the mental illness that has slowly ravaged the mind of her mother, who isnow being cared for in a private facility.

Just when it seems Devon might have a chance to make up for past mistakes, her best friend Cass becomes a suspect in the murder ofher sister's drug dealing boyfriend. Devon knows cass is lying about the details of her involvement and the lead detective on the case, convinced that Cass is guilty, is relentless in his pursuit of justice.

When her mother's young, emotionally disturbed roommate insinuates she knows something about the night of the murder, as well as details from Devon's own life that no one else is privy to, Devon becomes desperate to uncover the truth before Detective Lake does. As the investigation continues, Devon is led down a path she never expected and forced to face her greatest fears of life and love.

Tangled in a web of lies, regrets and questions, can Devon find a way to let go of the past and start again? And, once the mystery is solved, can she live with the secret's she's uncovered? 
Okay, first of all, I did not know until the end of the book and I read the back cover that this is actually a semi account of the author's own life. So, this made the book even more interesting. I just assumed she named the lead character Devon just so that she could keep up with the book character. Well, just goes to show, how deceiving things can be, doesn't it?
Since the excerpt really gives you a good idea of what the premise of the book is about, I have decided this time, not to divulge anymore info. It is a good book with a surprise twist at the end that makes me wonder if this is part of the "real" life of Devon or if this one is fiction.
I think to myself, surely she would not divulge such an explosive secret in a book that could affect one of her friend's life, so I am thinking that that part is made up...........
Happy Reading!
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cerulean Dreams Book Review

I have a great book to tell you about called Cerulean Dreams written by Dan O'Brien. This novel is set in a distant future where there is only Orion, the city that survived the apocalypse, and the desert. If you enjoy the sample, please like it on Amazon or, ideally, purchase a copy. I am only going to give you an excerpt of this book and if you would like to read the first three chapters, feel free to follow the link above, which is the title of the book, to the author's blog where he has the first three chapters waiting for you! Enjoy!
The tree had been standing for centuries. Many thought that it had survived the wars that had scarred the earth and shaped the future. Every day in his sad excuse for a life, he walked to that tree as the sun set upon the city.
It was an odd sort of place.

Amidst a world bathed completely in lights and steel, this one remnant of nature remained unscathed as a pillar that refused to be expunged from living memory. If pressed, many citizens would argue that they had never seen a day that was filled with sunshine. Instead, the world seemed trapped in a state of perpetual sunsets and eternal nights.

He stood and looked at the tree, a gentle, cool breeze dancing across the majestic limbs and needles that delicately joined in rhythm with the winds. The monolith of nature was veiled in the fading light, crawling fingers of darkness placing its hold upon the day.

Had there ever been a time filled completely with sunshine? The air was smooth and almost sterile. Already the lights of the city jumped to life, a slithering electricity that touched, in order, each billboard and iridescent sign. The tree stood on the farthest edge of the city, closest to the Great Desert that separated what remained of humanity and the barren wasteland that swallowed souls.

A steel wall was erected behind that essence of nature, runner lights crawling up the heavy border. Beyond the wall was nothingness. A vast ocean of sand that served as little more than a reminder of time passed and horrors witnessed. The wind kicked suddenly.

Whipping his long coat around him, it cast shadows of distant denizens and haunting beasts that were little more than colorful fiction. It was quiet this night, as it was quiet most nights. Fewer and fewer people came to visit this place anymore.

Such a reminder was an open sore from a history that many would love to see forgotten. Shadows emerged. Men and women rose from their slumber and moved about the city, the curtain of night a catalyst for their activities. He watched them out of the corner of his eye.

The world had become an immensely safe place. There was no war. Poverty had been abolished, laws and rituals instituted that would maintain the pleasant temperament of the newly-formed society. The cerulean aura was sudden.

The ring flattened around his temples and then across his face, covering his features like a theater mask. Images flooded in front of his blue eyes. Advertisements flashed faster than his eyes and brain could process.

“Cerulean Dreams makes the world swim forever in imaginings,” sang the angelic voice as the images slowed and a woman came into view. Her thin dress was contoured to reveal her perfect figure. “Cerulean Dreams wants to remind all citizens of Orion that the upgrade is now available. The world is at your fingertips, but with Cerulean Dreams, whatever you think can be your reality.”

He grinned, a small turn of his lips.
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours. I was provided this excerpt from the author.

Healthy & Trim Giveaway **Closed**

Graphic Designed by: Deals from MS Do

Welcome to the Healthy And Trim Giveaway sponsored by Meg's Moxie! Are you looking to get healthier and more trim this summer? Enter this fantastic giveaway and win the chance to try some awesome products valued at $300!

I have joined with Meg's Moxie along with some other awesome bloggers so that you guys have the chance to score some healthy products to help you live a healthier life and a much happier one too! I know we all want to feel better and I could use all the help I can get! Good Luck Everyone!
We've purchased a one month supply of It Works Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps from Angie's Wraps to give away!

PLUS, we have a one month supply of Body By Vi Health Products from Body By Vi With Michelle F. This includes:
  • One bag of Vi Shape Shake Mix
  • Vi-Trim Appetite Control Packets
  • Sample Flavor Packets To Add To Shakes
  • 3 Boxes of Neuro Smart Energy Mix
On top of this, we have $20 PayPal to Give Away as well for you to shop with!
This giveaway begins 6/30 at 12:01am EST and ends 7/14 at 12:01am EST. Please enter on the easy Rafflecopter giveaway below. It is not necessary to like all Facebook pages, but doing so will get you extra entries! Any questions or issues with this giveaway, please contact Good Luck!

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

CollageIt Review & Giveaway **Closed**

CollageIt Review & Giveaway 19 Winners!
brought to you by CollageIt
hosted by Beth Ann & Jessica's Helpful Savings
teamed up with 11 other Awesome Bloggers to bring you this giveaway!
CollageIt is a most easy-to-use collage maker which allows individuals to make photo collages on Mac and Windows automatically in minutes with just a few clicks. Whether to a casual user or professional photographer, one can easily and quickly master it. With CollageIt, people can share photos with friends and families in a unique way.

CollageIt assists users in recording beautiful moment in the easiest way. It has the following key features:

-       Automatic, Easy to Use and Powerful.

-       Various Collage Templates to Choose.

-       Customize Photo Collages Freely.

-       Share the Collage Anywhere.


Product page: 

Key Features

Automatic, Easy to Use and Powerful

  • There is no need to make any manual adjustments since this collage editor can create photo collage automatically with just a few mouse clicks. It is easy enough for the users of all experienced level.
  • WYSIWYG—Real-time preview with high speed.
  • Great capacity can accommodate a handful of photos up to 200.
  • Diverse types of photo collage can be created and A1 size or even larger size is available.

Various Collage Templates to Choose

  • Choose the collage layout with various collage templates or create picture collage on Mac OS X & Windows with blank one.
  • Many kinds of pre-designed templates included, users can select a style at their will.
  • Various collage layouts can be found in the templates.

Customize Photo Collages Freely

  • Set page size and collage background to meet your needs.
  • Easily design your picture collages with variable parameters provided, such as photo count, photo space, page margin, rotation and sparse.
  • Photo frames and shadow added for decoration.
  • Cropping photo is available so that the photos in the collage can fit well into the chosen collage space.
  • “Random Layout” can continuously generate all kinds of collage layouts in seconds by just a click.

Share the Collage Anywhere

  • Save the collages as JPEG, PNG, PDF, PSD or other images formats and print it out.
  • Send it to family members and friends via Email.
  • Easily set your photo collage as your desktop wallpaper.
  • Share your beautiful collages on Flickr and Facebook.


15 different collage layouts to choose from.

Step 1: Choose Your Layout

When you launch the CollageIt and get started making the collage, you should first choose the template that has been pre-designed. After choosing one of the templates the main program interface opens.

Step 2: Add Photos

You are going to add photos, click Add button to add desired photos to the Photo List.

Step 3: Drag photos into Collage or Random Layout

You can drag the photo to the collage from Photo List directly, and click Random Layout button to generate the new collage layout then the photos will be filled in the collage automatically.
You can click Random Layout button indefinitely to generate different layout of the collage.
Pictures that do not fit well into the chosen collage space can be cropped to increase the aesthetic appeal, the click and drag on individual photo to swap with another that can be available.
In addition, you can shuffle images on the layout using the Shuffle button to get the best results.

Step 4: Make Settings

Click Page Setup button at the bottom of the screen to change the collage size, and a click on Background button allows the users to fill the background with color or image.
You can set various parameters to change the layout of collage like the photo space, page margin, auto rotation mode and sparse mode, these settings will generate the new layout that make collage look more unique and fresh.
What’s more, the Photo tab offers the options to configure and remove photo frames and shadows.

Step 5: Save

When you’re happy with your collage, click Export button to save the custom photo collage as an image so that you can send it to your friends and families via email, Print it out, hang it on the wall as a poster, upload it to your blog or the image hosting site.  You can even get your collage printed from your local photo printing service.

Giveaway ends July 5th at 11:59pm, open US & Canadian Residents, ages 18+.
 To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck Everyone!
Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Mary's Cup of Tea is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sugarbird Dress Review & Giveaway **Closed**

This Review/Giveaway is done by Kathy's Freebies & Savings

I have had the chance to review a dress from Sugarbird Fashion. I was so excited to have the chance to review one of their dresses. I love all of their dresses. I have been a fan of them on Facebook for awhile now. I have always wanted to buy one of their dresses. They are all so beautiful.

I received the Obritni dress and I was so excited to try it on. They even put a pair of undies with the dress, which was a surprise to me. I love that the dress was black. When it comes to dresses I prefer them to be black. I don't usually wear dresses except for special occasions. I really love the band around the dress. One of the reasons I chose this dress to review was because of the band. I think it really makes the dress look gorgeous. The material is very nice and soft against your skin. I've had some materials that actually scratch against my skin. I'm glad to say this dress has a very smooth and soft feel to it. Another thing I really love about this dress, is that the back has some stones. On the straps of the dress there are some stones and they are very beautiful. This makes the back of the dress really stand out and shine.

Sugarbird Fashion has more then just dresses too. They have pants, body suits, tops, jackets, and athletic wear. If you looking for a dress for any occasion, check out all of the Sugarbird Dresses. They are all amazing! I fell in love with all of their dresses when I first learned about their company. When I need a new dress I will turn to Sugarbird Fashion first. There are a few dresses I have my eyes on already. I can't wait to get another Sugarbird dress. I will defiantly recommend these dresses to anyone. They have many different styles that would fit anyone.
Do you want a chance at winning the same dress that I have reviewed? Well, you are in luck! Sugarbird Fashion has agreed to give away a dress to one of you! Good Luck Everyone!

All you have to do is enter with the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last of The Seals Book Review

I have a really exciting book to tell you about called Last of the Seals that was written by Greg Messel. I have to tell you I had this book all wrong. I don't know why but for some odd reason I thought it was gonna be about the SEALS, you know, the NAVY SEALS. Where I got that idea I don't know. I never even knew that there had been a baseball team called The Seals in California and that the San Francisco Seals eventually became the San Francisco Giants!

Now, how about that! I learned something new but I also dreaded reading the book because I do on occasion love to watch my beloved Atlanta Braves play but I could care less about all the technical stuff that the announcers talk about and that is what I thought this book was gonna be about when I realized the mistake I had made. Well, that is what you get for assuming! This book had a tad of baseball in it but it was really about the pitcher retiring and becoming a private investigator!! And let me tell you that he really got himself into some jammed up positions! What in the heck did a baseball player know about being a private investigator? Okay, here is an excerpt from the book then I will talk a little more:
Mystery, romance, and baseballin 1957 San Francisco. Sam Slater is a lifetime minor league baseball player for the San Francisco Seals. The Seals have just one more season left as San Francisco is about to become a major league city. Sam has come to the end of his baseball career and is going to join the private detective agency of his best friend. When Sam's partner inadvertently sees something he shouldn't have, he is brutally murdered. Sam must go it alone and to find out why. Along the way he is swept off of his feet by a beautiful, Elvis-obsessed, TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan. Sam and Amelia try to unravel the mystery together. On dark and foggy San Francisco nights, trouble is lurking just around the corner.

Well, I can tell you that Sam has not led a great life and did not get all that he wanted out of life until the end of the book. Before he could realize his full potential as a baseball pitcher the war came knocking and then the the next thing he knew, he was landing on that beach on D-Day and from then on things were never quite the same. Yes, he had good days but he also would never make it out of the minor leagues. Too many things had gotten in the way, like the war. By the time he came back, there were younger and better players than him to contend with. But Sam ajusted and it wasn't a really bad life, just a so so good life until he met Amelia.

Of course, even that wasn't gonna help him much when his friend and business partner turned up dead. Jimmy really had no idea that he had innocently took a picture of something he did not even see really. He was following a suspected cheater and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and took a photo in the background of a meeting that no one wanted anyone to see. So, Jimmy was killed and Sam was left to figure it all out. Jimmy's wife had no idea why someone would have stabbed him to death. Between Sam and Amelia they were able to piece together the mystery that ultimately brought Jimmy's murderer to justice and in the course of this bond, they fell in love and Sam wanted to marry Amelia.

This really was an unexpected treasure to read. It looks like it might become a series of books because Greg Messel already had an excerpt for the new book and case that Sam would be taking on as this book ended. It was a heartwarming if not bittersweet book and knowing that Sam and Amelia will take this journey together made it all right for me. You will also be as surprised as I was about this book. It leads you to think it is about something else when in fact it is the center of finding Jimmy's killer that is the story with the little bit of history about the Seals as a bonus. That part of the story is true. There really was a team that ended in 1957 and then they became the Giants!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monitary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Apple IPOD & $25 Itunes Gift Card Giveaway **Closed**

Diva Fabulosa and Beauty and Fashion Diva is hosting a very FAB giveaway! We are giving away an Apple Ipod Touch to one lucky winner!

This giveaway was made possible by the following fabulous sites:
1 Day Graphics

Home Buddies

Jenn's Blah Blah Blog

Freebie Spot

I am in a group of awesome bloggers who came  together to bring you another great giveaway that either you or your children/other family members would love to have! We all know that pre-teens and teens are so into music and this would definitely brighten up their day, whether it is for a birthday gift or even a Christmas gift, it will surely be at the top of anyone's list! And we all know that Apple makes some of the best electronics around so you are getting a quality IPOD along with a $25 Itunes Gift Card for them to download their first great songs that they like.

I admit I am not really into the whole music thing like I was when I was younger and I have probably lost touch with all the names of bands and their hit songs but that doesn't matter because the kids will know while you may not be into it, you won it for them and that will make it special.  So, try your luck and enter. After all, you definitely won't win  if you don't enter. You never know when your turn might be around the corner. Go for it and just maybe you will be the one who surprise's their kid's with an IPOD from Apple! Good Luck  to Everyone!
  • Prize: Apple Ipod Touch or $200 Paypal Cash
  • Giveaway will start July 1 at 12:01 am EST – August 1 at 11: 59AM EST
Wait for the Rafflecopter to load and enter below:

Disclaimer- I received no compensation at all to host this giveaway. All expressed opinions are my own. Mary's Cup of Tea is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize will be sent from the company. If you have any concerns please send an email to jade at pinayjade.

Herr's Box of Assorted Snacks Giveaway **Closed**

Herr Foods is a leader in the snack food industry. They continually introduce the innovative products and packaging needed to satisfy ever-changing appetites and tastes. Their full line of quality snacks currently consists of more than 340 items including potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese curls, popcorn, crackers, nuts, pork rinds, onion rings and meat sticks. All are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. They maintain the highest standard of service to their retail customers.

Review done by Donna's Deals and More:
We had the opportunity to try several flavors of the Herr's Potato Chips. They were all delicious, but our favorite was the Baby Back Ribs. The best thing about these chips is that they are packed full of flavor. They actually taste like Ribs (and hot dogs, sloppy joes, dill pickle, jalapeno peppers, and more!). They are extremely delicious. The only thing that I did not care for was that some of them have MSG as an ingredient. I was not able to try those, but my husband really enjoyed them.
The awesome folks at Herr's are giving away a variety box of their delicious snacks to one lucky reader! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below.

The kind folks at Herr's is giving one winner a box of their assorted snacks! Thank You very much Herr's! Open to the U.S.only and you must be 18 years old or older. Good Luck  Everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Mary's Cup of Tea is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Glamorous Illusions Book Tour Review

I have another wonderful romance/suspense book to tell you about today called Glamorous Illusions written by Lisa T.Bergren. As is my customary way, I like to start off with the excerpt from the back of the book and then tell a little bit about the book and my feelings about it.
Here is the excerpt:
It's the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, but someone dear to Cora is failing as well.

One fateful afternoon,a stranger comes to call, and Cora discovers a terrible secret about her past....a secret that will radically change her future.

Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a trip intended to finish a person's education and solidify an understanding of refinement and ancient culture. As she travels from England to France with kin she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of a family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes there are far greater challenges ahead.....

The first book in the Grand Tour series will take you on a journey of cultural refinement--but, moreover, on an inner journey of self-discovery.
Cora came home from Normal School, which is what they called it, back in those days. It was where some of the better class of children went to get an education. Cora thought she wanted to be a teacher someday. She was on leave from the school for the summer and thought that she would go back after summer was over.

Unfortunately, it did not happen that way. Her parents were not at the train station to meet her and that seemed odd. A fellow neighbor gave her a lift and the closer they got to home, the more Cora knew something was wrong. She flew to the barn where her father laid with his head in her mother's lap. Her mother cried for her to fetch the doctor. Alan had had a stroke, they later found out. It was that turn of events that brought a stranger to their home several weeks later when Alan suffered another attack.

Decisions had to be made and the stranger was not unused to making them. He came, they thought, with good intentions, but underneath it all Mr. Kensington also had another motivation. The farm was on land that they thought might be rich in something that could make Mr. Kensington alot of money. So, he took matters into hand and Cora's future was changed forever.

You will love this book! I wasn't too sure myself but as I read, it got more and more interesting. I will not say anything else as you need to find out for yourself how this book unfolds. You won't be sorry.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Dark Side Of Valor Book Review

I have to tell you right away that some books are hard to read and this is one of them. I have always felt this way about books and movies that begin with the awful things that happen to people as children. Nothing worse that I hate more than anything (movies) that profit from taking pleasure in torturing or hurting children. Thankfully, with books you read it thru the author's eyes and the eyes of the child. This is one such book. It has it's good moments and in the end Lelia will triumph to a degree but we all triumph to a degree depending on how you look at things. One thing for sure is this: Lelia is a fighter and never gives up even when she thinks she has!
Here is an exerpt from the back of the book:
Child Adovacate Lelia Freeman saves children for a living. As the director of ChildSafe Shelters, she ventures to adbandoned squats and crackhouses to rescue teens from the hellish streets of Los Angeles. When summoned to Washington to serve on a committee that aids the children of a war torn African nation, Lelia is kidnapped and becomes a political pawn in a sinister conspiracy. Oceans away from everything she knows, she must trust a mercenary to save her life, or die in the clutches of a psychopath.

Hunting, combat and staying alive are Elijah Dune's specialities. Vengence is his passion. Haunted by past demons, he travels to the Motherland to collect a debt. A debt that demands one payment. Death.

Caught in the crosshairs of a madman, Lelia and Elijah must survive the jungles of Zaire and the horrors of their pasts, or be forever consumed by the Dark Side of Valor

Lelia really does have a rough childhood but nothing as nearly bad as what she encounters when she decides to leave her mother and their small apartment. She had saved up some money from her parttime job and the money that a man named Bernard, one of the few men in her mother's life who really cared about them. His mother had gotten sick with cancer and he had to go back to Ohio and take care of her and he often came back to see them, but Lelia's mother refused to see him, too hurt that he had left.

But Lelia kept his letters and the little bit of money that he sent. When it looked like Lelia's mother was not going to stop her destructive ways, Lelia decided it was time to leave, she left her $50 of her saved money and out the door to Los Angeles she went. Now, here is where I don't understand why she did not go to Ohio to where Bernard was and where she had someone who cared and would have helped her, but it's not my book, so I guess to make it more interesting, things had to go that way.

Los Angeles was not what Lelia thought it was going to be. She left home at 16 and for the last 2 years had been living on the streets, running from an awful man named Zeek who wanted to be her pimp. She had one friend that was living with her who was barely 13 and Lelia tried her best to keep her safe from all the hidden dangers. But, unfortunately, things did not work out very well. The girl got sick and before Lelia could get them help from the new church that she had been eyeing and had befriende some people, Zeek found them and punished them both. The young girl that Lelia had been protecting died and she nearly did too. She finally let the good people from that church help her and that is how she became the Child Advocate later on in life.

I am not going to ruin the rest of the story for you. It is filled with hidden dangers and people that want to take Lelia down off the pedestal that some people have put her on. This is a good book to read and if you need a lesson in how to survive and still get to your dreams, then this is the book for you. Against all odds, Lelia manages to get out from the "hood" and onto a better life, only to be in a more dangerous place once she is sent to Zaire to help the children there. You will want to read this book and silently cheer her on even when things don't look so good.

The author is running a giveaway and all of you are welcome to enter!

Also, if you would like to see the Blog Tour Information you can do so here.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.