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Mama Mirage's book and product reviews from a Christian perspective. And of course Giveaways! ;) Scroll down to read the newest ones or select a specific category in the sidebar. Check out my main blog for posts on homeschooling, recipes, crochet patterns, craft projects, and Christian life. :)

{Please read my Liability Disclosures and Policy statement before entering giveaways hosted here. Updated 11/22/2012}

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Green" by Ted Dekker [Book Review]

This review is for those who LIKE extra details and a longer review. If you are someone who does NOT like spoilers and just wants to know the basics and opinion so as not to ruin any surprises, please click HERE for a shorter review.
I am a person who likes longer and deeper reviews better so I decided to post both a shorter spoiler-free version, and also a seprate longer review for those like me who enjoy knowing more than usual about a movie or book before delving in. ;) So here's your extra juicy double cream filled review for my kindred spirits out there! ;)

This is the Publisher's Summary of Green:
At Last . . . The Circle Reborn
The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.
But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who’ve experienced Black, Red, and White.

"Green" was my first review ever for Thomas Nelson Publishing. They actually sent me the book about 3 months ago and it's taken me this long to read it (for which I do feel bad!) Let me back up a bit...

I love to read. I love love love fiction. SciFi is awesomely awesome. I DEVOUR books. I read Frank Peretti's "The Oath" (a seriously big fat piece of Christian SciFi genius for those who don't know) in about a week - when I was 16 or 17 years old. I can read a regular paperback novel in a few hours if it's the weekend when Dada can be the kids' go-to man so Mama can get some reading done. ;) So for it to take me longer than a day or two, a week tops, to read a book... well it means it was a super busy time for me (when ISN'T it now that I have kids though) or I was not able to "get into" the book. Such was part of the case with "Green." Which brings me to my review:

"Green" is advertised as being both the beginning and the end, functioning as both a prequel and a finale to Dekker's "Black," "Red," and "White" books. So when I began reading it, having never read any of the other three before, I went into it expecting that it would indeed work as a prequel as promised. It did not. I was lost for the first 1/3 of the book and am even still confused on alot of points. Advertising this book as being one you could either begin or end the series with, was in my opinion, a mistake. Having begun with this book I now have zero desire to try on "Black," "Red," or "White." It's extremely difficult to stay interested in a book when it leaves you confused far into the book. There has to be the right balance of mystery and revelation and, while it may have had the right balance for a finale, "Green" tipped the scales into frustration as a prequel.

The time-travelling "Thomas of Hunter" is eluded to being the hero of "Black," "Red," and "White" but in "Green" he comes across as flighty, easily shaken, and confused, with a bit of a bad temper. It is not explained why he is this way if he is the leader of the good guys. It seems to me that someone who is portrayed as a prophet of God would have a faith that is more like a longterm believer would have than the way he comes across as an infant in the faith. This confused me as the book insinuated that Thomas was the great leader and having been fighting this battle in two worlds for most of his life. To see him acting like a brand new believer while being treated like a seasoned warrior was confusing.
(*Spoilers ahead*)
Billy/Ba'al/Bill is another character that makes me wrinkle my forehead, along with his counterpart Janae. It seems like this Billy fellow just decided to be evil out of the blue. Now I don't know the real rest of the story from the "Black," "Red," and "White" books, just what it made it seem like in this one book. And how is he both Billy in the "present" and Ba'al in the parallel-future (or whatever it is) but then he's more like two beings in one body when he visits the future, and then later two seprate beings in the same timeline who are the same only somehow are two different people? The book never really explained this. I think Bill is supposed to represent the antichrist. And Janae is the daughter of a half-demon thing and a human from present day. Or something. Yeah I just about went cross-eyed reading that back to myself so don't feel bad if you don't get it: me either!

To be honest I felt like the plot was missing some large important chunks that would have fleshed out the story and made it understandable and enjoyable. I imagine those tidbits would be found in "Black," "Red," and "White." Now to be clear, "Green" was not a slow book. The story was definately happening. It was that as a reader new to the series, I was bogged down by not understanding what was going on for most of the book, which made it painfully boring and difficult to read. I may have found this tolerable if it hadn't been for the fact that the spiritual elements were disturbing and misleading, but more on this later.
The jist of the plot is that Thomas is living happily ever after in the "future" (in which spiritual things are more visible and culture is quite primitive) hiding away with his merry band of "Albinos" when all of a sudden things go teribly wrong. Thomas' son turns on the faith, calls himself a prophet, and tries (disturbingly successfully) to take the entire band of Albinos down that road with him. He hooks up with Janae who promises to deliver their unsaved counterparts (crudely referred to as "scabs") into their hands to be mercilessly slaughtered by way of a virus from the advanced civilizations of the past- that would be us here in present day. Meanwhile Thomas is not there to help his out of control adult son, he's instead trapped back in history here with us in present day. After alot of swapping centuries, deception, and disturbing descriptions of occultic rituals, it's the end of time and Thomas' son didn't make it to the other side. Thomas begs to be allowed to go back in time and try to save his son. "Elyon" agrees on one condition; Thomas will be starting over with no memories of his previous ending. And so the story begins again where it apparently began the first time in the "Black," "Red," and "White" books.

I found alot of the spiritual and moral elements in this book to be misleading and disturbing.
The character "Teeleh" seems to be representative of Satan. The head demons are referred to as "queens" and the rest are "shataiki" which are in the form of black bats.
Angels are portrayed as cute fuzzy little white bats called "roush." I was kind of offended at this since the Bible describes angels as giant fearsome warriors. The roush in "Green" seem to have the purpose of show up, say something cryptic and uncomforting, and then waddle off.
The character Elyon which seems to represent Jesus is described much like Peter Pan. A "mischeivous" water sprite who never grows up. This was very offensive to me. My savior is not some eternal child and "mischeif" (means stirring up trouble) is a character trait of the devil, NOT God.
Elyon has done something to the water in the lakes and rivers. The book seems to say that the waters used to be green but are now red with the blood of Elyon because was murdered in the water but that story is not explained.
Horde is the name for the unbelievers, who are easily recognized by their crusty scabbing skin which is a result of being infested with demon larvae. The Albinos are those who do not have the scabbing disease. They do not have the scabs because they have drowned themselves in the red lakes. (I think I know what symbolism Dekker was going for there.) The red waters keep the disease away.
Ba'al is described to a tee as Grima Wormtongue from LOTR, grotesque skin and fingernails and creeepy voice included. If you're having trouble imagining the scabbing disease, just remember the scene in LOTR where Gandalf exorcises the possessed King Theoden.
The Albinos, which seem to represent Christians, are nasty and spiteful. They treat Thomas' wife, a convert from the Horde, like she's STILL Horde. The majority of them are easily led and have no conviction of their own, just blow with whatever wind whispers doubt into their hearts. They, especially Thomas himself, preach love your enemies, love the Horde, but then out of the other side of their mouth treat them with as much love as you would have for a cow pie you'd just stepped in. They refer to the Horde as "Scabs" because of their disease and speak of them spitefully. Granted, the Horde are ever trying to kill the Albinos, and the Albinos live in hiding in a valley out in the desert to escape the death sentence. But they preach love the Horde and then as soon as Thomas' son suggests that they instead slaughter the Horde in the name of Elyon, the majority of the Albinos don't seem to resist the idea very hard and end up willingly carving the mark of the beast into themselves.
Then there are the Forest Guard who have characteristics of both Albiono and Horde. They claim to be on the right side like the Albinos, but they have the scabbing disease and are amassing an army to kill the Horde. They live in the forest and are also on the Horde's most wanted list with the Albinos. These are who Thomas' wayward son goes to initially with his plan to unite and slaughter the Horde. I am not sure who they are supposed to represent. Perhaps "lukewarm Christians" who claim the name but refuse to change in their hearts. This is a parallel I do appreciate the significance of. I think alot of authors leave out the middle ground because it's for God to decide who is and isn't lukewarm. I think the fact that "Green" is fictionalized leaves an opening to mention that there IS a 'middle' ground that thinks they fall on the Right side but do after all fall on the Wrong, and I'm pleased to see that Dekker took that opportunity to mention it. We need to remember that true salvation is soul deep.
One thing that was supremely disturbing was the descriptive occult ritual scenes. The first one of which described the "scab" king and queen going to the evil preist Ba'al's temple in the middle of the night. There is a sacrificed decapitated goat on the altar and the head is described as bleeding on a plate nearby. Ba'al drags his finger through the blood before enjoying a taste. Then he makes the king swear allegience to their god (who is of course the devil) by drinking a goblet full of the goat's blood. Later, the prophets of Ba'al slice themselves open repeatedly and drain their own blood on an altar to the demons. Dekker describes it in great nauseating detail. When I got to this part I had to put down the book and did a week of serious prayer before picking up the book again. I do not believe a Christian should be reading things like that and it made me feel dirty and sick inside. After a week of praying over it I decided that I would finish the book because upon signing up to review for TN I agreed that I would read the whole book in order to post an accurate and fair review. I think that's totally fair of course and I would not feel properly equipped to review a book which I had only read the first half of. So I signed the contract not thinking that I would have a moral dilemma on the very first book I selected to review. Leave it to me to unknowingly pick something controversial! Lol!
BUT I am first and foremost loyal to God so I decided therefore that I would finish the book yes, but if I encountered any more scenes where there appeared to be content to make me feel morally violated, I would just skip that scene and pick up where it ended. And so I have.

So my final word is that I would not recommend this book to anyone, Christian or not. I would not recommend it for a non-christian due to the misleading nature of some of the spiritual elements, and I could not recommend it to a Christian due to the disturbingly graphic nature of the rituals as explained above. In a 5 star rating with 5 being buy a copy for everyone I've ever met, and 1 being put it out with the trash, I would have to give "Green" by Ted Dekker a 1.5 for the merit of a fast-paced plot.

This book was originally reviewed for Thomas Nelson Publishing and the original version review posted HERE. This is a lengthened version which I kept feeling the need to post because I had left alot unsaid in V1 that I felt was important. I was provided with a copy of the book for free, in exchange for an honest review. Both version 1 and version 2 of my reviews are totally my unswayed opinion, unedited by anyone but myself. I received no other compensation for my review than the copy of the book.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Adirondack Stone Works - Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

UPDATE: Congratulations to the winning entry #12!

When Jeremy of Adirondack Stone Works contacted me to do a review and giveaway I was wondering what exactly I would do with an engraved stone. But then I visited their websites (main | pet) and thought, "Wow! Those look great!" Go check them out - you'll see what I mean. :) Once you see them you're going to want one too! You may have even seen something similar at the front of someone's house with their address on it... but I will tell you I have never seen this high quality of work before and I have seen my share of engraved address stones.

Jeremy has been working with stone his whole life and has been engraving stones for almost 8 years. Adirondack Stone Works is located in rural upstate New York in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and is a small family business run by Jeremy and Tavia- a blessing, they say on their About page, because it allows them to be home with their 3 children.

Adirondack Stone Works makes custom engraved natural bluestones. You might like your address engraved on one at the front of your house, or a family name & wedding date, or a little phrase that means something special to you, or a memorial stone for a pet or loved one. You also have 3 sizes of stone to choose from!

What more could you wish for? Free shipping and your finished stone arriving in about a week from when you place your order? Wish granted if you live in the US! :)

I chose to review a Pet Memorial Stone. They were so helpful and patient with me as I got all the details straightened out and placed my order, and when my stone showed up I was blown away. I liked the look of the pictures on the websites but when it showed up and I saw my new stone in person I was really floored by how beautiful it was.

The stone is gorgeous. The engraving is exemplary. The natural look 'chipped' edges look positively terrific. There is nothing weak or shoddy about it and yet it is not bulky looking either. Honestly it's just so... well so beautiful that I just looked at it and ran my fingers over the engraving for about half an hour before I could put it down. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it's the highest quality stonework I've ever seen. Not that I'm an expert but really it looks amazing. Did I mention I was impressed? Lol!
If you want to read about my dog Kady whom I decided to get the memorial stone for, go HERE.

Now that you've seen these beautiful stones I know you want one! :)
Adirondack Stone Works has generously offered a giveaway for my readers!

The winner will receive one custom engraved stone from Adirondack Stone Works in the Medium (about 11-12" size).

How to Enter (each worth 1 entry unless specified):
1- Visit the Pet Memorial Stone site and come back here and comment me something you learned or something you like. Yes I'm gonna make you do your homework for this one. ;)
YOU MUST INCLUDE AN EMAIL ADDRESS in your comment so I can contact the winner.

After you have done the above, you may do any or all of the following for bonus entries:
2- Visit the main Adirondack Stone Works website and comment me something you learned there that is different from what you said you learned on the pet memorial site.
3- Blog about and link to this giveaway, then comment here with the link to your post so I can check!
4- UPDATED: Tweet about this giveaway as follows so I can see it
#Giveaway Enter to win a custom engraved address, etc. stone from Adirondack StoneWorks! @MamaMirage LOW ENTRIES! http://bit.ly/6mWO1l
Please comment the tweet link here after tweeting so that your tweet will count as an entry. One tweet per person PER DAY- don't forget to leave the new link here each day or it won't get counted.

By entering this giveaway you agree that you have read, understand, and agree with my Giveaway Rules, and my Disclosure/Policy.
Giveaway is open to residents of the USA.
If you do not follow the entry rules you will be disqualified.
Giveaway will end on the evening of January 12th, 2010 and the winner will be announced and/or contacted on Wednesday, January 13th.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winner: Girly stuff!

**SURPRISE at the end! Keep reading!**
Hello hello! I know you've been wondering when I would post the winner today... Sorry about that. It's just been one of those days, ya know? So now that I have the littles corralled for the evening, I'm posting the winner! Thank you so much to everyone who entered!
Here's who Random.org picked:
Sarah said...
I commented on the Chicklet Chicklet potty training post!
untenuredteacher at yahoo dot com
November 9, 2009 4:38 AM
Congratulations Sarah! I have emailed you. You have 48 hours to respond.

Now for the surprise... Hehe...
There will be a small runner-up prize. If you're the runner up and you don't want the prize you can turn it down. BUT I am out of envelopes! Gotta hit Wally World this weekend and buy some more. So the runner up will not get their prize for a little longer. I will contact the runner-up via email and they will have 48 hours to respond. ;)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Safety 1st potty

She started using the potty on Monday night, and by Sunday morning I wanted to throw this seat away! :( Why? Because the seat is a sponge. So guess what happens to the pee when she goes? That's right, it soaks into the sponge and WON'T COME OUT. I ring out the seat and wash the whole thing with antibacterial hand soap every single time she pees and yet the seat REEKS of urine. And her behind reeks of urine from sitting on it. Last night after her bath she sat on it but did not pee, and when she got up and I was dressing her I noticed she suddenly once again REEKED to high heaven of stale urine. JUST from sitting on that stinky seat, fresh out of a bath! Oh I am just so MAD, SAD, and feeling like I've been HAD! This thing costs nearly $20 (alot in this economy) and you get to use it for a whopping 5 days before the stench is so bad it could knock you over?!
Also, after just 3 days of use by one single child, my 3 year old daughter, there is a yellow stained ring around the inner seam of the seat.

There are way better options out there I'm sure. There's got to be. My advice is to forfeit the padded seat ones in favor of something that can be sanitized so it won't stink. They have to get used to a hard seat eventually right? Or else you'd never be able to take them anywhere with public restrooms.

Baby Mum-mums: Review

Not really "Pancakes" but according to my then-2 1/2-year-old they are! When my baby boy was learning to self-feed I saw some Baby Mum-mums in the store and decided to try them. They are Gluten-free, Egg-free, and Peanut-free for peace of mind. They have no artificial colors or flavors, and they are wrapped by twos for convenience! This means you can grab one out of the box and toss it in the diaper bag- no mess, no prep.
Mum-mum Original
My son loved them! So did his big sister! She asked what it was called and I told her they are "rice rusks" but she couldn't pronounce rusks so I called them baby ricecakes. She had never heard of a ricecake though and so they became the only kind of cake she knew at the time: pancake! Lol!
Mum-mum Vegetable
They come in Original, Vegetable, and Organic. In the US, you can buy them at places like WalMart and Target. They are available in Australia, America, and Europe. Mum-mums are easy for small hands to hold and dissolve easily. My kids have tried the Original and Vegetable flavors and loved both. I can't find the Organic ones anywhere here.
Mum-mum Vegetable

**I was not compensated in any way for writing this review. Opinions and results expressed herein are my own. Results may differ for others.

Have YOU tried this product? What do YOU rate it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Girly Stuff Giveaway

Okay just for fun, I'm giving away some girly stuff this week! I like to browse discount/overstock stores and clearance sales and sometimes find some super cute neat stuff. I am passing on a few of my finds to you!

1 cucumber facial mask
1 bar of English Lavender scented Yardley London soap (I'm not too fond of lavender but WOW this smells so good!)
and last but not least, 1 LipLites "Champagne Frost" colored lipgloss.

To enter, go to my main blog and comment on any post on the first page. No half-hearted minimal-words comments please; put a little thought into it. Then come back here and tell me which post you commented on. Don't forget to leave your email address in your comment here so I can contact you if you win.

I won't be responsible for the postal system being slow or losing or destroying your prize, or anything else that happens to the package and it's contents after it leaves me. Use the prize at your own discretion. All consequences, good or bad, that arise from your use of any part of the prize, are your own responsibility. I.e. don't sue me if you wind up allergic to lavender or any other ingredient or accidentally stab yourself in the eyeball with the lipgloss wand or something. ;)

I have not been compensated in any way for this giveaway. I have not received any samples of these products, been asked to review them, or been asked to have a giveaway. I bought them and I'm now giving them away for no reason other than the fun of it.

Ends sometime next Wednesday, November 11th, Veterans Day. I am not putting a specific time. It will end at whatever time on that day that I am able get on the computer and lock the comments, and then I will ask Random.org who the winner is and announce it here. So if the comments aren't locked, it's still open for entries.
This giveaway is open to residents of the US only. I wish I could afford the shipping out of the country and if at any time in the future I feel I can afford it I will open up giveaways to some global neighbors. ;)
I'm always a bit slow to get things mailed due to having 2 toddlers and the whole two toddlers thing not mixing so well with getting to the post office before they close. Forgive me if I'm slow. I promise to do my best to get the prize sent in a timely manner.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Giveaway winner! (Ferdinand children's book)

I have just put the entries into Random.org's list randomizer! Do you want to know who the winner is? Do you?

I will be having another giveaway soon. My giveaways usually run Wednesday to Wednesday. They will be on one of my blogs or the other. If not this one then check the main one. If life gets crazy I might skip a week but as a general rule, check in on Wednesdays for a new giveaway and the winner of the previous one.
And now I guess I should put you out of your misery and end the suspense eh? ;) Randon.org's winning choice for "The Story of Ferdinand" children's book is...

Kelly! Congratulations Kelly! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GIVEAWAY! The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf! {CLOSED}

I am so excited to present a giveaway of one of my favorite childhood books! "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf. The winner will receive 1 new paperback reprint of this 1936 classic children's book. To read my review on this book, please scroll down or click HERE. :)

Giveaway is open to the US only. I'm not being compensated in any way for this review and giveaway. The book came out of my own pocket as will the shipping. So I am very sorry to those in other countries- I really wish I could afford the shipping! But I cannot so I must restrict this to residents of the US. Thank you for understanding.

Mandatory Entry
♥- Leave a comment telling me the name of your favorite childhood book AND where (name the blog or site) you found the link for this giveaway! Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. (worth 1 entry)

Bonus Entries- Please make a new post for each entry. Leave your email address with each one or make sure it's imbedded in your profile so I can contact the winner. None of these will count if you have not done the mandatory entry first. If you accidentally forget your email address (or somehow else make a mistake), please don't just add another comment to correct it: delete the comment that is lacking it and repost it with all the corrections so I don't think that you are trying to cheat and get more entries. You may do any or all of the following bonus opportunities in any order:
♥-Become a follower of this blog and comment letting me know. If you're already a follower this counts too, just leave a comment saying you are. (worth 1 entry)
♥-Take my poll in the column to the right. Don't forget to leave a comment saying you did. I will count voters to make sure you did. (worth 1 entry)
♥-Comment on any of the reviews on this blog. (Even old ones.) Leave a comment here telling me which review you commented on so I can go read your comment. You may comment on multiple reviews for more entries, but commenting more than once on the same review still only counts as one entry. Comments must be real comments, thoughtful, more than just, "Neat" or "wow that's cool" KWIM? (worth 1 entry per review which you have commented on)
♥-Visit my main blog http://everypreciousjoy.blogspot.com/ and comment on any post on the first page. Leave a comment here telling me which post you commented so I can check. You may comment on multiple posts for more entries, but commenting more than once on the same post still only counts as one entry. Comments must be real comments, thoughtful, more than just, "Neat" or "wow that's cool" KWIM? Only comments on the most recent blog posts (what's on the front page at the time of your comment) count. Comments on old posts do not. (worth 1 entry per post which you have commented on)
♥-Blog about this giveaway. Leave me a link to the post so I can see it! (worth 2 entries -post once for each entry like "Blogged it #1" and "Blogged it #2". Don't forget the link.)
♥-If you see that another entrant has found this giveaway through a link that YOU posted about this giveaway, you may make another post per referral to claim it as a bonus entry. These will not automatically be credited so if you want to make use of them you will have to check back and claim them. ;) (worth 1 entry per refered entrant)

Giveaway entry starts now and lasts until (extended until Saturday, 10/31 at dark), when the winner will be randomly selected by random.org and posted here. I will try to email the winner but sometimes my email glitches so the safest way to find out in time if you've won is to check back here this weekend! The winner will have until dark on Monday night to respond to me with their mailing address before I chose a new winner.

Please understand I'm a mother of 2 toddlers and getting to the post office is about as daunting as going to the moon sometimes, so it may take a week or two for me to get the book in the mail after receiving the winner's mailing address. I will of course be aiming for the next day but please understand if it takes a bit longer.

For more nifty giveaways check out

Review: "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf

Review of Children's Book "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf.

I RATE IT: A beloved childhood favorite! 5/5!
GENRE: Children's
SUB-GENRE: Classic from 1936
TITLE: The Story of Ferdinand
AUTHOR: Munro Leaf
ILLUSTRATOR: Robert Lawson
PUBLISHER: Picture Puffin (Penguin)
ISBN: 9780140502343 (0140502343)
PRICE: $7.99(US), $9.00(CAN)
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: "Published over 50 years ago, The Story of Ferdinand is one of the bestselling children's books of all time, and the bull who preferred sitting under the cork tree and smelling flowers to fighting has become a hero to generations of children."

MY REVIEW: I remember my Nana reading me a tattered old copy of this book 20 years ago when I was a child, and she probably read this 1936 classic to my mom and her 3 older siblings when they were children! I loved the unique detailed line drawing illustrations and the fun story.

My favorite parts were where Ferdinand sat on a bee and went crazy, so the scouts mistook him for a wild fighting bull, then later he just sat in the arena smelling the flowers instead of trying to fight which made the matador so mad he cried because he could not show off. Lol! It does talk in one place about sticking the bull to make him mad enough to fight, and the bulls stick each other with thier horns in play- you see funny little bandaids on them as they are huddled around the bullfight poster dreaming of being the rowdiest so they would be chosen to fight.

That is not really something that I dwelt on or noticed as a child. I just took it in stride that that is how it was back then and Ferdinand was not harmed and lived happily ever after in the end so I was not disturbed by it. You know your child and if they are too sensitive for that. The overal moral of the story seems to be peace and nonviolence as our hero, Ferdinand, "wouldn't fight and be fierce no matter what they did" and therefore was taken home to live happily ever after smelling flowers under his favorite tree.

This is a treasured classic that I'm thrilled to now own for my own children!

You can purchase this book HERE or to enter to win it click HERE!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Little Elephant's Listening Ears - by Susan Hood

I RATE IT: 1/5 for cute illustrations but the text does more harm than good.
GENRE: Children's
SUB-GENRE: Pop-up, pull-tab, flap activity book.
TITLE: Little Elephant's Listening Ears
AUTHOR: Susan Hood
ILLUSTRATOR: Barbara Nascimbeni
PUBLISHER: Readers Digest
ISBN: 0794412300
PRICE: $12.99(US)
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: "A young elephant has big ears, but he also has a big problem -- he doesn't listen! So when Mom tells him to bundle up for the weather outside, he puts on his favorite pair of shorts. When he's reminded not to blow too hard on his soup, he forgets and ends up with noodles everywhere. Featuring pull-tabs, touch-and-feel elements, fun flaps, and more, this story will have kids giggling -- and recognizing themselves -- on every spread."

MY REVIEW: This book is terrible! My MIL picked it up for the kids and of course I was not smart about previewing it before I sat right down to read it to them. The little elephant in the story, Elliot, is a disobedient little brat with selective hearing. Every time his mother tells him to do something, he does not do it. She tells him to dress warmly so he dresses in shorts. She tells him to clean up his toys so they can go to the store, so he totally ignores her and keeps playing. She tells him not to play with the cart, so he piles it high with groceries until it avalanches and gleefully shouts "Earthquake!" She tells him not to play with his soup and not to splash in the tub, both of which end up with liquids purposely sloshed far and wide. The whole book I was holding out hope for a lesson learned in the end to sort of redeem all the bad. Well I was dissappointed in the end when not only was there no consequences for Elliot's day of willful disobedience, but worse, his mother simply took him from yet another disobedient act (jumping on the bed) to sit down and read him a bedtime story, which of course was the only time in the whole book which Elliot listened to his mom. This little elephant teaches kids that if you don't 'hear' what Mom is telling you to do, then it's not disobedience. So you can pretend all the day long that anything you don't want to do, you just didn't hear Mom say it. Then you won't get in trouble because after all, you can't punish someone for not hearing you! Right? What a terrible book! I was very upset after reading it and had to go back and reread it to the kids, ad-libbing in appropriate disciplinary actions for the bratty elephant after every disobedience. Of course that won't work once my kids can read for themselves, so I've opted for a more long term solution. The book is in the trash waiting to be taken out. So if you're in the minority looking for a book with a bad role model, no consequences, but some fun illustrations and pop-ups, then this is the book for you. The rest of us prefer not to waste our money.


Friday, October 2, 2009

"Little Mommy" Children's Book by Sharon Kane

I RATE IT: Precious! Adorable! We love it! 5/5!
GENRE: Children's
SUB-GENRE: Little girls, Classic from 1967
TITLE: Little Mommy
AUTHOR: Sharon Kane
PUBLISHER: Little Golden Books (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-375-84820-9 (0-375-84820-7)
PRICE: $2.99(US), $3.99(CAN)
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: "THE “LITTLE MOMMY” in this story is an adorable little girl. We spend the day in her charming company as she cares for her dolls, treats their ills, gives them a tea party, feeds them dinner, and puts them to bed. Beautifully illustrated, this book has a timeless feel."


This is the most adorable children's book I have stumbled across in a very long time. Maybe in my life... Seriously I adore it! It has a lovely innocent childlike tone and is written in sing-song rhyme that is engaging. If that weren't enough the precious illustrations call up nostalgia and the beauty of a time when little girls were actually allowed and encouraged to be little girls rather than made to feel like such things were a prison and mind control and taught instead that perpetual dress-up and rowdiness equal true femininity. The child in the story narrates her day with her three dollies; "This is my house and I am the mommy. My children are Annabelle, Betsy, and Bonny (Bonnie)..." the book begins. Throughout the 22 page story we see the child and her dolls playing house, baking, laundering doll clothes, and cleaning. She interacts with other children, having a tea party with the neighbor and cooking supper for a little boy who appears briefly playing the role of daddy to the dollies. The little girl must call Dr. Dan (another little boy) when one of the dollies takes ill. "She'll be well as quick as a wink. It's just the mumbledy bumps, I think." A precious book that exhudes the sweet, busy, innocent, feminine spirit that I want my daughter to emulate! And what does my 3 year old daughter think? It's one of her favorite books to read at bedtime. :)

To purchase a copy of this book online, please visit http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/display.pperl?view=oonline&isbn=9780375848209
or to look for it in the children's book section of your favorite grocery or department store. Ours was purchased at the local bulk foods grocery; WinCo.

Porter's Salve

My number one most important thing EVER to have in the medicine chest is Porter's salve!

It's been around for just about forever... My grandma used it as a kid and now generations later I use it on my kids. It smells strongly of camphor but it works better than anything else in the world that I have tried.

Firstly it doesn't allow the wound to get infected and fights the infection off if it's already infected. It draws so it can be used on splinters. It pulls out the PAIN starting immediately on application! It is BETTER than Neosporin at reducing scarring!! In fact, it works so much better than Neosporin, it makes Neosporin look like plain Vaseline in comparison.

When I was a kid, about 11, I was running with the wheelbarrow and I lifted the handles too high... The front piece that goes in front of the wheel caught on a rock and it flipped, me too. I landed on my knees on the underside of it and one of those giant bolts that holds the legs on punctured my shin. It just cut through a perfect circle like a paper punch and pushed that circle of skin in about 1/4 inch. Into my shin bone. Mom packed it with Porter's Salve and put a band-aid on it. The Salve made it start feeling better almost instantly and within an hour I felt no more pain at all. We just kept it packed with salve, with a bandage, until it healed.

Another time, I was in the barn and the door to the milk room was stuck. When I yanked on it to unstick it, it suddenly came loose and swung into me. A rusty nasty old nail stabbed me right in the knee. Went inside and Mom helped me pour Peroxide on it and then put a band aid with Porter's Salve on it and then I went back to the barn to milk the goats. I don't even have a scar left from that one anymore!
My dad cut his finger half off once. Actually I think it was his thumb. He was using an electric saw of some sort. Not sure if it was the table saw or the little one... but somehow he sliced his thumb but good. Right into the side of the bone. Well he didn't want to go to the doctor so Mom put salve all over the wound and bandaged it up tight with a popsicle stick to keep the fragile bone secure. He has full use of that finger today and you can barely see the scar. Not saying I advocate not going to the ER when you chop your finger half off... Yikes! I'd have at least let a doc stitch me up first. But my parents were very very poor and did not have any sort of insurance or government help so a trip to the ER would have cost them the house so that's why they didn't go I guess.
When I was a teenager, 16, I was playing freeze tag in the Church downstairs with the youth group and tripped over my own feet or some imaginary rough spot in the air (yes I am that clumsy, and it's getting worse! Lol!) and fell into the window. My top half went through the window but I had caught myself on the side of the window and shoved enough to push myself back into the room where I fell into the shattered glass on the floor, unconcious. I had sliced my knee open about 2 inches long side-to-side, deep to the bone, and a big flap of flesh on my wrist was just flopping there. If I had not had my watch on, the piece of glass that sliced that flap could have done some lethal damage. I was taken to the ER and had more than 18 stitches total. I declined to have a tetanus shot. I was on some serious pain meds for the damage and kept my stitches bandaged with Porter's Salve on them 24-7. Today you would probably not notice the knee scar if my knee is bent, and nobody even notices the wrist one unless I point it out. Needless to say nothing got infected.
My sweet calico cat got attacked by some sort of predatory bird once. We found her hiding in a ditch covered in mud and unable to walk. Both her front legs were broken, snapped clear in half, at the top near her shoulders. She had 3 very deep HUGE talon holes, on in the back of her head and 2 more in her shoulders. Our best guess was an Eagle or Owl had gotten her and carried her off and she, being the brave little kitty-girl she was, would have curled her back legs up and fought for her life. And when it dropped her mid-flight, from however high it was up there, she would have landed on her front legs, snapping them both in half. Then she dragged herself to the ditch than ran the length of the property and dragged herself through the mud with her hind legs until she came to the house where my mom found her. We found out that cats don't like ACE bandages so we just had to let her heal without any support. We packed the talon holes with salve though. Her broken legs healed overlapping and she had a very short front half for the last 5 years of her life. She looked like she had her behind up the air all the time! Lol! But the talon holes... well they never got infected and healed so well you couldn't find the scars if you tried.
I used Porter's salve on my daughter's belly where the cord fell off leaving a sore-looking open hole. My husband has used it on wounds he got from sliding playing softball. I've used it on hemmorrhoids and where I tore giving birth. (Sorry, TMI! LOL!)
Last month my husband had a minor surgery to remove a cyst from his back. We kept Porter's salve on the stitches and they healed up in record time. The stitches are supposed to stay in 10-14 days but they were ready to come out at 7 or 8 days so by the time 10 days came around, the nurse was amazed it had only been 10 days.
Works great on minor things too. When the kids get ouchies I use it on them. I've used it on sunburn, cat scratches, picked skeeter bites, and bleeding hangnails. I put it on their toes at birth where they got pricked for the blood test.

The other day I got burned. Severely burned. I was carrying a pot of greasy boiling water to the sink and it splashed on my belly, instantly boiling off some of the skin it touched and leaving the rest inflamed and blistered. I had dropped the pot in the sink and ripped my shirt off in seconds and when I looked down I saw shreds of skin hanging off where it had been boiled off, leaving just the few fragile base layers of skin raw and exposed. The area it covered was about 6"x4" and I immediately thought, "I need to go to the ER!" Which if you know me is VERY unlike me. I don't go to the doctor unless it's very very serious. Well it was late and the kids were in bed and I didn't want to drive somewhere with tired kids and a bag of frozen peas on my belly so I just treated it myself. I held a wet paper towel on it for about half an hour and then slathered it in Porter's Salve with a paper towel over that and held a bag of frozen peas on it for over an hour, after which I bandaged it up with gobs of salve and took tylenol. By 12 hours later, more than 50% of the burned area was barely tender and to the naked eye looked totally healthy and back to normal! All that remained were the blisters and skinless spots. The swelling was gone and the redness except in the stripe of most seriously burned area. Well today was day 3 and I have not gone to the doctor, only kept it bandaged with the salve. I left the blistered parts unbandaged for part of the daytoday for the first time to let them get some air, but the skinless parts I have kept bandaged the whole time to prevent infection. I change the bandages and apply more salve twice a day. It is looking wonderful! At first I thought I would have scars on half my belly, but now it is looking like the scarring will be very minimal, perhaps only the skinless spots. I am glad I did not go to the ER after all because of how amazingly well the salve is working.
So, what I'm trying to say here is that Porter's Salve is the best thing in the world for wounds. Everyone should have this in their medicine cabinet instead of Neosporin IMO! Lol!
The only downside is that you have to order it by mail from the company. You have to print out an order form and snail-mail it in! But trust me it is so worth it to have this stuff, even though you have to mail order it!

Click the pic to visit the Porter's Salve website for more information and ordering instructions:

*I do not advise not going to the doctor in the cases of serious injuries or illnesses. My decision and my family and friends' decisions to decline to make use of modern medicine and doctors are our own decisions and you should not blindly base your decisions on ours. You should do your research and make an educated choice for yourself.
**Disclaimer: All reviews on this site are my own opinion from my own personal experience. What works for me may not work for another and vice versa, and while I may have had a good/bad experience with a product, someone else may have the opposite result. Purchase and use any of my reviewed products at your own discretion. Responsibility for your use of any item and any consequences from use belongs solely to you.

Have YOU tried this product? What would you rate it?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

PR Welcome!

PR Friendly! Etsy welcome! I will consider all proposals. Details below...

I love reviews and giveaways! Pitch me! I will do my best to give a thorough and fair review of your product. Reviews will be posted or linked on both my blogs- see below for what that means in detail. I reserve the right to turn down anything at any time for any reason. We have 4 kids from our 11 month old baby up to our 6 year old first-grader (we hope God blesses us with more children), 1 dog, 1 mommy and one daddy at your reviewing disposal. We ♥ natural stuff, attachment parenting stuff, made in USA stuff, WAHM stuff, organic stuff, time and money saving stuff, and cooking stuff. We have sensitive skin. We hold very conservative values. We homeschool. No conflicts of interest. Tell me what you need and I'll do my best to accommodate. Email me! :) mamamirage (at) yahoo (.) com I've later found a few missed pitches that my spam filter stole because the subjects were too vague or looked spammy I guess, so I think a more specific, friendly subject would be less likely to be flagged.

I would LOVE to review your product and/or host a giveaway sponsored by you! You may choose to have me do a review and giveaway OR just a review. I only write HONEST reviews of my personal opinion/experience and will not use anyone's words/opinion/salespitch/photos that I do not agree with in my review. I will only review products my family is actually interested in and can really use. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing reviews but I do require a free product to test and keep for reviewing purposes. Consumable products must be large enough for me to be able to do an accurate review on because I want to really try it out properly! :) The giveaway item/code must be shipped or emailed by your company directly to the prize winner. Please specify prior to the giveaway being published where you will ship to (US, Canada, etc)- i.e. what countries the giveaway will be open to. I require it to be open to at least the continental US. Please specify if it will be open to the entire US or just continental states, and which, if any, other countries it will be open to.

I will give the pros and cons in my reviews as I see them and I will be totally honest about my opinion of the product, good or bad. I may decline to review something if I think that I will be unable to complete my review properly by the deadline you need it done. This is because I want to give the necessary attention to reviewing YOUR product in the fairest possible way! I hate doing a halfhearted job so this is my way of saying that if I can't do it right I will have to regretably decline or take a rain check in trying to give your product the respect it deserves.

My review will include pictures from your company/website. My review will also if possible include a minimum of one photo of my family using your product. My review may also possibly include a video of us using or talking about your product. I can have my readers visit your website (or a vendor website of your choice for your product) as part of the entry process for giveaways. If your website carries products other than the one I am giving away, I may (at your request) award multiple bonus entries to entrants who make a purchase from your website during the giveaway. This will be possible only if there is a way to check each purchase claim with your company so that nobody cheats. If you want these options included, please bring them up with me before the giveaway begins so I can accommodate you. I will try to ask about these things but I'm human and forget things sometimes. ;) I advertise my giveaways on several other blogs' linkup lists to draw more traffic.

Daddy (early 30's) - outdoorsy guy, loves hunting, camping, rock crawling, and fixing things I break. ;)
Bug (4 1/2) - loves trains, cars, climbs or takes apart everything he can get his hands on.
Mommy (that's me- late 20's) - addicted to chocolate and office supplies, loves books, baby stuff, and anything that makes motherhood easier. I'm somewhat crunchy, don't wear makeup anymore and rarely pants.
Chicklet (6 1/2) - loves dolls, playing dress up, art, reading, writing, and anything to do with babies!
Weetsie (26 months) - loves dolls, playing dress up, coloring, and is my pickiest eater and my most active toddler!
Honeypie (11 months) - starting babyfood, learning to crawl, wears both cloth and disposeable diapers, breastfed, all smiles and sunshine!
We have one large mixed breed dog and do not currently have any other pets.
Any or all of these occupants are available to help test products.

I do not have any conflicting loyalties involving anything I could or would be reviewing that I can think of. If you still have questions about any loyalty to certain companies or fields then just ask.

If you are interested in having me write a review, and optionally also sponsoring a giveaway of your product, you can contact me at the email address mamamirage (at) yahoo (dot) com with the details of your proposal. I need to know what you'll be providing me with, if you're also sponsoring a giveaway and what product it will be if different than my review product, what countries the giveaway will be open to, and if there is a specific date you need the review and/or giveaway completed on or by. Please state any special requests or considerations. Don't forget to specify which countries this should be open to (which you will ship to). Please make sure to bring up any aspects or requirements that you have an opinion or specific need for. As previously stated I try to ask all these things but I'm a human with "mommy-brain" so sometimes I forget. ;) 

Unless you request otherwise, my giveaways will run 1-3 weeks from a Wednesday to a Wednesday. We can discuss this and decide together what's best, or I can make a judgement call myself if you have no preference. Winners will be chosen by random.org, or based on a requirement specified in the entry rules. Winners will have 1-2 days (as specified in individual entry rules) to contact me on completion of the giveaway and if they do not, they forfeit and a new winner will be chosen. If this doesn't work for you please bring it up- I can accommodate most requests!

Sponsored Reviews will be posted in full on my Review and Giveaway Blog, and either in full or abbreviated with a link on my Main Blog (my personal blog).
Sponsored Giveaways will be posted at the bottom of the coordinating review on my Review and Giveaway Blog, and I will mention and link to them from the review/link for the product on my Main Blog to draw traffic from my readership. Depending on the length of the giveaway, I will post reminders every so often on the main blog for those who are new or missed it before.
In addition to this, I advertise my giveaways frequently on at least half a dozen popular giveaway blogs and blogs that host a weekly/monthly/perpetual giveaway listing to draw in new traffic. I sometimes link to my main blog on facebook as well and also use word of mouth to spread the news regarding products I'm enthusiastic about.

My two blogs, my primary one http://everypreciousjoy.blogspot.com/ and my giveaway one http://mamamiragesreviews.blogspot.com/ are LINKED. Very much linked. The review blog is newer but I wanted a way to keep all my reviews and giveaways in one place without having them completely take over the front page of my main blog. So I have buttons on my main blog that link to posts on the review blog, and vice versa. So they are essentially two halves of the same whole. I'm working on getting page rank stats up for the review blog. You can view my main blog Page Rank and Sitemeter buttons by going there http://everypreciousjoy.blogspot.com/ and scrolling down to the bottom of the lefthand column. At the time I write this I'm page rank 1.

We ♥ natural stuff, attachment parenting stuff, made in USA stuff, WAHM stuff, organic stuff, time and money saving stuff, and cooking stuff. I am very interested in reviewing anything to do with babies, as we always seem to have one around here! ;) Baby carriers / slings / wraps, cloth diapers, babyfood / babyfood making supplies, pregnancy products and maternity clothing, wooden / natural toys, playmats, items that promote better baby sleep habits, books on large family parenting and homemaking... These are by far not my only interests- remember, I will read and consider all proposals before accepting or declining.
If your business benefits any charities I would like to know so that I have the option of mentioning them in my review. Many people will spend a little more to buy from a company that donates to something they believe in so if you do that then my mentioning it is good advertising for you.

Please feel free to send me an email with any questions or proposals. I look forward to getting to know you and reviewing something for you! I am happy to work with you on any specifications or details regarding a giveaway as well- please just let me know what you need and we'll work it out. Thank you for your interest! Have a wonderful day! :)

**This PR Policy has been updated 11/22/12**
I reserve the right to update and change my policies at any time. Policy that applies to each review/giveaway is the one in effect at the time I accept said review/giveaway proposal.

Current Giveaways

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