Blog Tour! Defining Her by Samantha March

About the Book

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Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.
Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.

Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.

My Review

Prue and Nellie could not be more different, but their lives somehow become intertwined.

I have read Defining Her twice and I’m so glad I did because I picked up on subtle nuances I did not give proper attention to the first time around and it gave me a chance to get to know the characters on a deeper level.

I have to bring this up first because it’s all I can think about while writing this review. The character development in this novel is out of this world. Character development is one of the top things I look for whilst reading a book. In Defining Her, it is very apparent that Samantha March spent a lot of time developing her characters, giving them unique personalities, quirks, and making them unlikable at times. When an author takes a chance and presents characters that might come across as unlikable, I feel impressed, I want to read more, and I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to become privy to the development of those characters. In a book titled, Defining Her, one might assume there will be growth, epiphanies, and scenes that give the reader little glimpses into the characters’ thought processes and also those thoughts that they keep to themselves that secretly change their own stories and even the stories of other characters. March does not disappoint.

As mentioned briefly, I found it difficult to like most of the characters in the book, but I liked Nellie almost from the beginning. I’ll expand upon my thought in the next paragraph, but this character was developed so nicely and I felt like she was so…real and relatable. I did not grow up under the same circumstances and I did not experience the horrors that she did, but I had my own scary times and that shared trauma helped link me to Nellie and allowed my heart to open up to her.

There are a few scenes in this book that are mature, upsetting, and difficult to fathom. Defining Her is raw, it is genuine. It will tug at your heartstrings and certain parts may make you uncomfortable. But the rawness, the difficult scenes are not put in the book for the sake of being shocking and sensational or to upset readers. Every move, every detail was carefully crafted by the author. The raw and unsettling parts of the story are there to give readers a better idea of a character’s background, to evoke compassion, and as hard as it might be to read about uncomfortable things, Defining Her shows us real life. Horrible things happen to people and this book delicately touches on topics that are real and sadly happen every day, evokes emotions from readers that are genuine, and connects the dots as to why someone might behave the way they do.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a compelling story that is not easy to figure out, readers who love excellent character development, and anyone who is looking for a book whose characters make you think, turn the pages at a heightened pace, share with your friends, but most of all feel.

*I received a complimentary ARC from the author in exchange for an honest, authentic review. It has been a privilege to be a part of this book tour for Samantha and to be able to share my thoughts on this book. It should also be noted that this is one of the best books I have read in a very long time, which made this even more of an honor.*

Tour Schedule

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March 20 – ChickLit Goddess – Review & Excerpt

March 20 – Dandelion Inspired – Review

March 21 – Spunky N Sassy – Excerpt

March 24 – Beauty Books and Cats With Brooke – Review

March 24 – T’s Stuff – Excerpt & Q&A

March 27 – Karan Eleni – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

March 28 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

March 29  – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

March 30 – Hey Said Renee– Review

March 31 – Granny Loves to Read – Review & Excerpt

March 31 – Novel Escapes – Interview

April 3 – Book Lover in Florida – Review & Excerpt

April 3– Rainy Day Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Get your copy!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nn88vt

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/defining-her-samantha-march/1125950914

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/defining-her

ALL OTHER TITLES ARE JUST 99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Samantha March on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mFKkog

About the Author

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Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things beauty, fashion and fitness. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has five published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, Up To I Do and Defining Her, and one holiday novella, The Christmas Surprise. You can also find her on Youtube sharing beauty reviews and creating makeup tutorials. When she isn’t reading, writing, or vlogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Find Samantha

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marchbeautyword/

Youtube: http://bit.ly/2cGNR34

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BySamanthaMarch

Snapchat: Samantha.March

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samanthamarchauthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Samantha-March/e/B005ZWOGJY

Blog: http://www.chicklitplus.com/

Giveaway!

Giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d17395a284/?

Beauty Review: Sally Hansen Miracle GEL

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The black bottle in the middle is the top coat. Starting on the lower left and going clockwise, the colors are 569|230 All Chalked Up (a light lavender), 599|710 Beatnik (a light navy blue), 639|370 Sugar Fix (a patron was trying to help me figure out how to describe this color. It is beautiful…a bit of a periwinkle, or as he said, a cerulean blue with pink undertones.I like that!), 510 Game of Chromes (a beautiful metallic chrome-gold), 819 Buffalo Nickel (a shimmery metallic silver).

 

I love nail polish. It’s pretty and it calms me. As long as my tremors are under control, painting my nails is very soothing and I like to watch YouTube videos or listen to music like Sons of Serendip while I do so.

I currently have three drugstore gel nail polish lines. Sally Hansen, essie, and CND vinylux. I constantly reach for my Sally Hansen shades and it is definitely the most affordable of the bunch.

What makes Sally Hansen’s gel line stand out is

  • the affordability (I usually pay around $8 for a bottle)
  • the color selections
  • they are easy to find, available in my area at Walmart, Target, CVS, and many other drugstores and grocery stores
  • the polish is easy to apply, dries quickly, and the top coat applies easily
  • I work at a library and I use my hands constantly, whether I am typing, checking books out to patrons, or setting up for story time, this polish lasts. I have gone 2-3 days without any signs of wear and that is very impressive. On days off, I can go almost 6 days without any signs of wear.

I highly recommend this line if you are looking for long lasting nail color at an affordable price. There are other lines I want to try, like Sephora’s gel polish, but I know I will continue to reach for Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel.

As far as the colors in the picture go, I love them all! What you see in the bottle and the little ring on the wand is true to what your nails will look like once painted. The top coat gives a pretty shine to the nails and Sally Hansen is constantly coming out with new, beautiful colors.

DEFINING HER Exciting News! Book Release Day

Friends! Today is the day. My friend, Samantha March has officially released her 5th book, Defining Her and it is spectacular. This is such an exciting day and I am so proud of her. Samantha poured so much of herself into this book and gosh does it show.

Please check out her information below. I posted my review on Amazon.com yesterday and will be posting it on my blog during my stop on the blog tour which is March 24.

I am honored to be a part of this wonderful day!

 

About Defining Her

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Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.
Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.
Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.

 

Get your copy!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nn88vt

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/defining-her-samantha-march/1125950914

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/defining-her

 

ALL OTHER TITLES ARE JUST 99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Samantha March on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mFKkog

 

About the Author

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 12.02.27 PM

Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things beauty, fashion and fitness. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has five published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, Up To I Do and Defining Her, and one holiday novella, The Christmas Surprise. You can also find her on Youtube sharing beauty reviews and creating makeup tutorials. When she isn’t reading, writing, or vlogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Find Samantha

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marchbeautyword/

Youtube: http://bit.ly/2cGNR34

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BySamanthaMarch

Snapchat: Samantha.March

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samanthamarchauthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Samantha-March/e/B005ZWOGJY

Blog: http://www.chicklitplus.com/

 

GIVEAWAY!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d17395a284/

Ulta Haul Review!

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I am excited to review these products! I’ve tried almost all of them except a few of the masks. There were just too many in this haul to try them all in a way that would be beneficial to my skin. Oops 🙂

The first product you cannot see well. It is the pink thing in a clear box on the lower left hand side. This is actually the L’ORÉAL Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender and I love it! I like to get it very damp and then use it to blend in my foundation, concealer, or and liquid face products. It is so soft, easy to hold, and it blends my foundation like a dream. Great coverage, no patchiness. I am very happy with this sponge.

I’m a huge fan of the SNP face sheet masks. So far, my favorite is the Otter mask as it is very hydrating and makes my skin feel soft and supple when I wake up the next morning. I have yet to use the Dragon mask so I will have to report on that in a later post. 🙂

The Peter Thomas Roth Mask Sampler was an exciting purchase because I’ve wanting to try this line for years now. At first I wasn’t noticing much of a difference or any results and I felt kind of sad and disappointed. Then I realized that I was not using enough product! I didn’t want to run out, but I was using so  little, the product was not able to work its magic. After discovering my mistake, I began to notice results! I’m so glad I figured that out -finally! At this point in time I have used all of them except the gold one. I like using the cucumber mask as a final step in my night time skin care routine as a leave on mask providing extra moisture. The pumpkin mask really gave me the impression that it was working on my skin. I felt a gentle tingle and once I rinsed my face, and applied moisturizer, I did a double take looking at my face. After one application, I noticed my skin was smoother. Since I goofed on my application, I will revisit these masks in the future in order to give them a fair and proper review.

The Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer became a fast favorite of mine. It has a large doe foot applicator and you can either apply the product right to your face or apply it to a brush or makeup sponge. I apply it right to my face. I do 3 whiskers on each cheek (I know, I’m hopeless 🙂 ) then a few stripes on my chin, forehead, nose and I think that’s about it. I apply it on top of a primer – I have not applied it straight to clean skin. Perhaps I should, to see how it wears. I have a feeling that it would be just as wonderful. I blend it in with a makeup sponge (L’Oreal pink sponge, or Real Techniques orange sponge) and then set my forehead with a translucent powder since it does not dry down completely matte. It is a little dewy, but not greasy or oily. I tried to take a few pictures of what it looks like on my skin, but I need to get better at taking makeup pictures. I have dry, highly sensitive skin and this foundation leaves my skin looking natural and healthy, and it does not cling to any dry spots which is a huge relief. My mom has oily skin and she is going to give this foundation a try so if she has any opinions, I will be sure to report them. 🙂

Lastly is the NYX Cosmic Lip Cream. I love this product! I have 3, my most wearable being Speed of Light which is a rose gold, coppery color that is very pretty on the lips. These are truly creamy and they last about an hour to 2 hours before reapplication is needed. The only drawback, for me, is that there are a lot of blue, green, and black colors. They are so pretty and I want to wear them, but I just can’t pull off those colors.

I highly recommend all of the products listed above and I will do my best to get back to you on the products I have yet to properly try.

Thank you for reading!

Mental Health Matters Book Review: An Unquiet Mind

An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison
Publication Date: 1995

Synopsis:

In her bestselling classic, An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison changed the way we think about moods and madness.

Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide.

Here Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom—a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.

My Review:

This books holds a very special place in my heart because Dr. Jamison’s strength helped me to realize that I might have a severe mental illness. It was 2004 and I was taking Abnormal Psychology. We had to read a memoir of someone who had a mental illness and type up a paper. My professor pulled me aside and recommended to me An Unquiet Mind. She thought that I would enjoy it but also gave me a very meaningful look and held my gaze for about 20 seconds. I think she was willing me to read this, to know that this book could change. Because of my antics in her class (several times I let her know that I could teach better than she and I often wandered around the class, ending up at the front of the class trying to interject my thoughts into her lecture). With such compassion and respect, my professor helped me more that I could ever express. I’ll never forget her professionalism, her patience, and her forgiveness.

Dr. Jamison is a psychologist, but I’m not sure of she is still practicing, but she has published a number of other books.

Her transparency, ability to be vulnerable and even use some humor while telling her very personal and sometimes painful story blew me away and continues to do so every time I read this book. I read it about 3 times per year. It makes me feel like I am not alone, it makes me feel “normal.” While my diagnosis has changed from Bipolar I to Schizoaffective Disorder, this book changed my life and Dr. Jamison’s story is still so similar to my own.

If you are a fan of well-written memoirs/autobiographies I highly recommend this to you. If you would like to learn about what it is like to have a severe mental illness, more specifically Bipolar I Disorder, you will cherish and appreciate this book. She writes well, yet does not throw around lingo that is impossible to understand.

This beautiful, amazing, brave story will touch your heart, increase your compassion for others and hopefully yourself, and it might spark an interest in other memoirs written by those with severe mental illness.

🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩 5/5 doughnuts

Thank you for your time. I wish you the best.

Brooke

Beauty Haul Review

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-30-20-amI have been trying out these products for almost 2 weeks and I have some definite opinions I would like to share with you. I will add a link to each product in case you would like to purchase it, or learn more about it. 🙂

Batiste Dry Shampoo in the Tropical scent
I’ve tried a handful of dry shampoos and Batiste has been  my favorite since the first time I tried it about 2 years ago. There are many scents and tropical smells like the beach…coconuts, sunscreen…I love it! My other favorite is the leopard print can. It does leave a white cast, though it’s not too bad if you don’t spray too much. To get rid of the white cast, just brush through your hair and if you need to spray some rosewater on your hair or a detangler to soak up the powder.
Grade: B+

Maybelline dream BB FRESH 8-in-1 Beauty Balm Skin Corrector with SPF 30 in the shade 110 Light/Medium Sheer Tint
This is a beautiful BB cream. As the tube says, it is a sheer tint, so if you like a lot of coverage, you might want to skip over this BB cream. I usually wear it on days where I am home and want a little something on my face, but let my skin breathe at the same time. There is no discernible scent and it blends nicely with a beauty sponge.
Grade: A

Milani Prime Light Face Primer: Strobing + Pore Minimizing 
I have been using this as my daily primer. It glides on smoothly and gives my skin a subtle, healthy looking glow. I do not have large pores, so I cannot speak to the claim of pore-minimizing. I have dry skin so this works beautifully for me, but I am not sure if applying it to the entire face would work for everyone, especially those with oily skin, just because of the strobing properties/dewiness.
Grade: B+

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil
This is a wonderful oil! I have tried a few, drugstore and high-end and this is by far the best one. It takes my makeup off, smells amazing (I can’t put my finger on it…maybe like cherries?), and it doesn’t irritate my eyes. My finger slipped and I poked myself in the eye and it was just a gross mess, but after I rinsed out my eye, there was no irritation or redness. I also use this on a daily basis to remove all of my face makeup including eye makeup and if I use it like normal human who doesn’t want to poke her eye out, it feels amazing and my skin is so clean and soft. This oil has been very hard to find, but luckily the CVS by my home always has all of the newest products.
Grade: A

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel
I use this cleanser every morning with my Clarisonic. It makes my face feel super clean, but never tight or uncomfortable.
Grade: B+

Milani Make It Last Setting Spray
The fine mist on this spray automatically made this one of my favorite setting sprays. There is a scent and again, I cannot figure out what the scent is. Let me think…hairspray and a pool? Not a bad smell, just hard to describe, but definitely not bad. I’ll stew on this… I’m sure that makes zero sense, but if you can describe it better, I would love to hear what you think. 🙂 I use this spray when I am all done with my makeup and it seems to meld together my foundation, powder, blush, and highlight. It adds moisture and life back to my skin but does not make it feel oily or slick.
Grade: A

Cover Girl oh sugar!  Vitamin Infused Balm in 1 Cupcake
This balm is so beautiful, it smells like heaven, a little bit like soda pop, but that could just be me. It smells like a Lip Smacker and I love it! It moisturizes my lips and leaves the softest tint. A true my lips but better. There are at least 5 more colors, but I love Cupcake so much, I haven’t strayed. I’m currently on my second tube.
Grade: A+

Garnier Miracle Anti-Fatigue: Sleeping Cream
This cream is so magical. Every night I take my little spatula and grab some product. The next night I open the tub and it is as if I never used it. It’s wild. I like this cream because it makes my skin feel nourished and supple. I need to use it a little bit longer to get a solid opinion, so when I finish this product I will post an update. In the meantime, I like it and I would purchase it again.
Grade: B+

Garnier Miracle Anti-Fatigue: Wake-Up Hydra Gel Moisturizer
This product feels like silk. I apply in the morning after I wash my face and the smallest amount covers my entire face and leaves it feeling velvety and refreshed. As with the Sleeping Cream, I want to give this a thorough use so I can come back to give you a complete review. In the meantime, I love the pump, the silky feeling, and how it makes my skin feel.
Grade: B+

I feel like I should state that I have dry, sensitive skin. My skin will break out in hives quite easily and it has in the past. I once had to toss over 10 products because my face was…quite scary. My skin usually reacts right away if it doesn’t like a product – 95% of the time, it reacts not even an hour after using a product.

All of the products mentioned have left my skin feeling soothed and quite normal.
I highly recommend all of the above products!

Please do comment with any questions, recommendations, or thoughts.

Thank you for reading,
Brooke 🙂

Book Review: Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life

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Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Published 2016 by The Henry Nouwen Legacy Trust

Synopsis:

Seven million copies of his books in print! This collection of over 100 unpublished letters from the bestselling author of such spiritual classics as The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer offers deep spiritual insight into human experience, intimacy, brokenness, and mercy.

Over the course of his life, Henri Nouwen wrote thousands of letters to friends, acquaintances, parishioners, students, and readers of his work all around the world. He corresponded in English, Dutch, German, French, and Spanish, and took great care to store and archive the letters decade after decade. He believed that a thoughtful letter written in love could truly change someone’s life. Many people looked to Nouwen as a long distance spiritual advisor.

Love, Henri consists of over a hundred letters that stretch from the earliest years of Henri’s career up through his last 10 years at L’Arche Daybreak. Rich in spiritual insights the letters highlight a number themes that emerged in both Henri’s work over the years, including vocation, solitude, prayer, suffering, and perseverance in difficult times. These deeply spiritual letters, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, ultimately demonstrate the rich value of communicating with God through others.

My Review:

When I was earning my Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from an Ohio seminary, Henri Nouwen was an author regularly recommended to students by professors, other students, and clinical and academic advisors.

The Wounded Healer was by far the most recommended book and I do believe my entire cohort read it before we began our internships. Henri Nouwen had such a gift. He was intelligent, well read, well known, gifted, wonderful with people, and a model of selfless love, but he taught us that we did not have to be perfect people in order to help others and to help them begin the healing process. In fact, our wounds could serve to make us better helpers.

In his books, Henri was always so transparent and shared without hesitation that which made him a flawed and wounded healer. I remember this book bringing tears to my eyes, for certainly I was the most flawed student in the bunch and I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Henri helped me through my self doubt, helped me to see that my wounds would make me a better healer. I found great peace in that.

Love, Henri was such a beautiful glimpse into his personal life and the way he loved others in an authentic way that was not full of posturing or self-adulation. Reading his letters made me realize that Henri was human. I admit I put him on a bit of a pedestal while in school, but he was so…real in his responses to those who wrote  him. They were not cookie cutter responses and he did not hesitate to admit when he did not have the answers. I admired that very much and again the importance of transparency became all the more apparent to me during those moments.

I highly recommend this books to fans of Henri Nouwen, seminary students, pastors…anyone whose faith is important to them. I would also highly recommend Love, Henri to anyone who would like to read letters filled with love, kindness, acceptance, and authenticity.

Happy reading to you. I do hope you enjoy reading Henri’s letters and I hope they touch your heart.

🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩 5/5 doughnuts

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.