Blog Tour Book Review: Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore

About Just the Essentials

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave (March 7, 2017)

The author of Skin Cleanse returns with a comprehensive guide to the ultimate ingredient for living an all-natural, plant-based lifestyle: essential oils.

For millennia, essential oils have played a key role in health and beauty rituals. From references in the Bible (frankincense and myrrh) to Hippocrates (who documented the effects of oils from over 300 plants) to Ancient Egypt (Cleopatra pioneered the use of fragrance), essential oils have been revered throughout human history for their healing powers and their unparalleled scent.

But in modern times, they’ve often been misunderstood, underappreciated, even cast as “dangerous”—and relegated to the dusty shelves of health food stores. That is, until recently. Today they’re back in the spotlight as increasing numbers of consumers are looking for all-natural alternatives to skincare products and opting for fragrance-free detergents and soaps, natural remedies for common ailments, and toxin-free home cleaning solutions.

Enter Adina Grigore, owner and founder of the wildly popular all-natural skincare line SW Basics. A former essential oil skeptic, Grigore learned everything she could about these potent plant-based compounds when she began formulating her products. And what she learned was that essential oils are some of the most powerful, healing, health-promoting compounds found in nature. That, and they smell pretty great too.

In Just the Essentials, Grigore offers a 21st-century guide to these ancient oils, offering a fresh, fun, and authoritative overview of what they are and how they can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life. From plant-based medicine to all-natural skincare to safer and cleaner household products to aromatherapy, this handy and entertaining guide provides detailed advice for a wide array of oils, safety guidelines, and a range of do-it-yourself recipes to get started. Inside you’ll discover such fun facts as:

  • Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial that is proven to be as effective for treating acne as benzoyl peroxide; it also kills oral bacteria and is a life-saver for tooth infections.
  • Cinnamon oil is a circulation-booster that helps to ease everyday aches and pains as well as headaches (even migraines).
  • Peppermint oil is brimming with antimicrobial properties; peppermint oil can be used for everything from alleviating digestive problems to cleaning your kitchen counters.

With lists of the best oils for beginners; instructions for diffusing and safe handling; and DIY recipes from dish soap to toothpaste to facial masks, Just the Essentials makes it easy and enjoyable to reap the many benefits of these pure plant extracts.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life by Adina Grigore. I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

Just the Essentials is a book all about essential oils. It covers the basics of what they are, what they can be used for, how to find quality essential oils and also includes recipes to incorporate essential oils into your every day life.

I first heard about essential oils when I started becoming interested in healthier living. I heard of them but I didn’t take it any further until I read this book. I have been curious about essential oils for about two years but felt really intimidated so I never really put forth effort to learn about them or try them so when I got the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance to see what kind of information this book could offer me in the hopes of starting my essential oil journey. Honestly, I had no clue where to even start.

Needless to say, I am SO glad I read this book. After reading I definitely feel ready to begin my journey with essential oils. Through reading it I learned that I actually have been using an essential oil topically, tea tree oil. I found that it helped heal my piercings faster when diluted with water, so it was cool to make that connection. 

I really loved this book. It was a really fun read which surprised me. Nonfiction books can either be really great fun reads for me or dull reads and this one was just super fun, at times humorous and it really just flew by. It is a super small book at about a little over 190 pages so it can definitely be read in a few hours but I feel like this is a book that I will keep in my collection as a point of reference to go back to when I want to refresh my memory on the benefits of certain essential oils. There are also so awesome recipes included that I can’t wait to try out like the face masks, counter cleaning product and various other skincare and hygiene type recipes that sound amazing. 

I found this book to be really helpful, fun and easy to understand and relate to, especially for an essential oil newbie like me. Most of all, it got me really excited to embark on my essential oil journey and find the oils and method of use that are for me. I am so grateful for this book and I highly recommend it if you are interesting in the topic of essential oils and healthy living. Five stars!


Photo by Liz Andrien

About Adina Grigore

Adina Grigore is the founder and CEO of the all-natural, sustainable skin-care line S.W. Basics, which she started out of her kitchen in 2011. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Adina has worked in the wellness industry since 2007 as a private holistic nutritionist, a personal trainer, and a workshop coordinator teaching people about the DIY nature of wellness. S.W. Basics products are now sold internationally and have been featured in Vogue, O Magazine, W Magazine, the New York Times, InStyle, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living, among others.

Follow Adina on Instagram.

tlc logo

Audiobook Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

25147880Title: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
Genre:  Nonfiction
Publisher: Penguin
Length: 6 hours 16 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Publication Date: June 2015
Rating – 3/5

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world...


I think I am finally catching onto the audiobook movement! I am starting to find it soothing to listen to audiobooks where I used to not be able to get into them. Radical! I’m really excited about it. I think my favorite genre to listen to via audiobook is nonfiction memoirs or biographies. Maybe in the next few weeks I will try out a fiction title to see how I like that.

When I first heard that Aziz Ansari was releasing a comedic book, I instantly wanted to read it. This want of mine increased tenfold when I read that it was concerning the topic of modern romance (as suggested by the title). It’s a fairly short audiobook at about a little over six hours so I knew I could listen to it in one day. It started off pretty well and I loved listening to Aziz narrate. He told little jokes that I’m sure didn’t make their way into the books and were solely for audiobook patrons but he did mention that audiobook listeners were missing out on some good charts that are included in the book. I was sad about that, but that’s okay. The audio was clear, he read at a nice pace…I love the music at the beginning and the end. Having him narrate was definitely the best part of the book for me. That said, I gave this book three stars. It wasn’t really what I was expecting and fell short of my expectations. I love Aziz Ansari and think he is so humorous. I found this book to be just a tad bit humorous and I was expecting it to be so much more. I was expecting/wanting a comedic take on romance, which don’t get me wrong, there were some humorous elements to this book but just not to the degree that I would have liked. It was definitely more of a study on Modern Romance…it really reminded me of listening to a rather interesting thesis comparing the romance of yesterday to the romance of modern times including topics like online dating, marriage, divorce, infidelity, how to meet people, dos and don’ts have online dating, etc. I definitely feel like this book is for single guys and gals, though it is interesting to read/listen to even if you are attached or married (but that’s just my opinion).

While I didn’t love it, I did like it so I ended up giving it a 3 out of 5 star rating. I thought it was interesting and it had alot of factual information that was obtained through studies, research and surveys. It is definitely a well researched, well formed book. If you are interesting in reading about these topics, check it out and let me know what you think…if you felt the same way as I did or if you absolutely loved it and why. Happy reading everyone!

Blog Tour Book Review: In a Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi

In A Dark WoodAbout In A Dark Wood

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 26, 2015)
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 5 stars

In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante’s Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning—a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.

Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy: “In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.”

When Luzzi’s pregnant wife was in a car accident—and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter, Isabel—he finds himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieves and cares for his infant daughter, miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turns to Dante’s Divine Comedy for solace.

In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helps the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the Inferno of his grief, the Purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then Paradise of the rediscovery of love.

A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn’t realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante’s epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi’s book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man’s descent into hell and back: it is Dante’s journey, Joseph Luzzi’s, and our very own.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

AmazonIndieBoundBarnes & Noble


Happy Tuesday everyone and thank you for visiting my stop on the blog tour for this touching memoir, In a Dark Wood. I’d like to send a big thank you to the author Joseph Luzzi and also to TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for giving me the chance to read this and provide my honest review of it.

In a Dark Wood is a true story of a man who loses his wife in a car accident that also results in their baby girls premature birth. It is the memoir of his struggle with living in the aftermath of this great loss – becoming a father, whether or not to give up on love and finding his way out of grief and mourning. Dante’s Divine Comedy is his guide through this just as Virgil was Dante’s guide in the Inferno.

I will preface this review by saying that I am giving this book a full five star review. I couldn’t put this book down. It was tragic throughout as the author masterfully takes the reader through the darkness of loss weaving the words of Dante’s work into the narrative to show the guidance, comfort and wisdom he found in them.

I had never quite looked at the Divine Comedy this way and I walked away from this book having learnt a new perspective on the epic poem that I had loved when I first encountered it in college. While I think someone who hasn’t read it and loved it will still enjoy the reading experience of this book I think those that have had the unique experience of reading The Divine Comedy will come to understand it in a different way after reading this book.

I felt like this book was part memoir and part literary criticism although I don’t think that’s quite the genre I’m looking for. It sort of reminded me of the reflection on literature that I loved in Ann Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet but on a more personal level.

The subject of the book itself is a heavier one but even with that I felt like I flew through this book. Maybe it was because I enjoyed the writing and learning more about Dante, his life and his work and how they related to someone’s life. I also found myself very invested in the story of the authors grief and struggle. The things he wonders about as he deals with death and questions of the soul are things I find myself wondering about as well when I think of losing a loved one. In fact, I will be adding this book to my collection. I can see myself turning to this book for guidance during loss just as the author turned to the Divine Comedy.

I’m a big fan of memoirs and when I read that this one incorporated a piece of literature as profound as the Divine Comedy I jumped at the chance to read this. I highly recommend reading this. It is profound, deep, touching, and deeply fulfilling.


Joseph LuzziAbout Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Find out more about Joseph at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

tlc logo

Blog Tour Book Review – Inventors & Imposters: A Sordid History of Innovation & Imitation by Daniel Diehl & Mark P. Donnelly

I&IUPLOADTitle: Inventors & Imposters: A Sordid History of Innovation & Imitation by Daniel Diehl and Mark P. Donnelly
Genre:  Historical Non-Fiction/Inventions
Publisher: Veritas (Ravenswood Publishing)
Page count: 236 pages
Format: EPUB
Publication Date: May 1, 2015
Rating – 4/5

What if everything you learned in school about the heroes of science, technology and invention was a lie?

What if Tom Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb? What if the Wright brothers weren’t the first men to fly? What if Marconi didn’t invent the radio, or Watt the steam engine, or Bell the telephone, or Henry ford the production line? What if Columbus didn’t really discover America, or Darwin the concept of evolution, or Watson and Crick the existence of DNA?

 Well, brace yourself, because none of these people did what the history books credit them with having done. Were they all thieves and liars? Was it all a huge mistake? Was it some gigantic conspiracy? How did all these people become famous for things they didn’t do?

 In fourteen gripping, true stories Daniel Diehl and Mark P. Donnelly dig deep into the past and lay bare the facts about who really invented what and why somebody else got the glory.

 This is historical fact that reads like the best fiction – easy to read and impossible to put down.


Happy Sunday Fun-day everyone and welcome to my stop on the tour for Investors & Imposters: A Sordid History of Innovation & Imitation. I want to say a big thank you to the authors Daniel Diehl & Mark P. Donnelly, as well as Ravenswood Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book for an honest review!

Investors & Imposters is a nonfiction title that features fourteen chapters (one chapter for each invention) that discuss no nonsense facts about inventions and their true and not-so-true inventors.

I gave this book a four star rating because I really liked it and enjoyed reading it. It’s a very short read but what it lacks in length it delivers in substance. Much to the chagrin of my younger self, my adult self discovered a fascination with non fiction in college. Since then I’m always looking for quality non-fiction to sink my teeth into and this is one of those non-fiction titles that I’m glad I came across and will probably purchase and return to in the future.

Investors & Imposters was really interesting and I felt like I learned alot after reading about each of the four inventions. I’m familiar with all the inventions discussed but I must admit that before reading this book I never really paid much attention to the inventors behind these innovations, aside from hearing about them in passing or in a discussion in past history classes. To my surprise, much of what I had taken for granted as fact concerning these inventions like the sewing machine, evolution and the electric light is completely wrong. I enjoyed having my understandings debunked and enjoyed learning about the different innovations that resulted in the final products. I thought it was interesting to see how often inventors (or rather “inventors”) stole ideas from each other and passed them off as their without giving credit to the real innovators. I like feeling that if I ever went to a trivia night and was asked a trivia question based on these inventions, I would know the answer…that is unless their answers are based on the not so true facts that most everyone believes to be true! It is easy to see that a large amount of research was put into this work!

I definitely think this book is a must read and really should be required reading because of the subject matter. I can’t believe I went half my life thinking I knew the truth about some of these inventions when I was so far from the truth. This book also has an extensive bibliography, which as a librarian in training, I fully appreciate and will peruse for further reading. If you enjoy non-fiction or would just enjoy learning the truth behind inventions that progressed the human race throughout the years, pick this book up – it’s a great read and will teach you alot and make you question what you think you know!


DANDIEHLSTAFFDaniel Diehl has been an author, writer and investigative historian for thirty-five years. For nearly twenty years Diehl has been involved in writing for publication and documentary television production. Mr. Diehl’s work has won awards from the Houston (Texas) Film Festival, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (US) and the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Arts Foundation. Working alone and as a part of the multi-award winning team of Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly, Diehl has produced work in two main categories; trade publication and television documentary scripts. His canon of work includes twenty non-fiction books (which have been translated into ten foreign languages), one previous work of fiction and scripts for more than one hundred and seventy hours of documentary television primarily for A&E Network, The History Channel, History International, Biography Channel and Discovery Network.

MPDMark P. Donnelly is an historian, author, screenwriter, duelist, bon vivant, and constant gentleman. He has authored, co-authored or ghost written over 20 titles in several countries and has scripted and/or produced nearly 200 hours of historical television programming. He can frequently be found traveling throughout the north-eastern US giving lectures and presentations at themed events as well as teaching historical swordsmanship and western martial arts. He currently resides in central Pennsylvania where he enjoys life with his wife and family.

               Currently Available at: