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: My Father’s Son by John Davis

My Father's Son AudiobookTitle: My Father’s Son by John Davis
Narrated by Stephen J. Cohen
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: October 13, 2016
Rating – 5 stars

John Davis grew up in the 1970s and ’80s on the rough streets of Brooklyn, a place where no one thought twice when parents smacked around their kids – or each other. At the center of the tumultuous neighborhood, and John’s world, was his larger-than-life father, Roberto. The Argentinean butcher and kingpin drug dealer was a sadistic bully whose mercurial temper left a trail of tears and chaos across his family. John, in particular, seemed to bear the brunt of Roberto’s wildly swinging moods. Any wrong word could cause an explosion. Every knock on the door might be one of Roberto’s enemies, or the police.

In his publishing debut, Davis recounts how he spent his childhood in constant terror and his teen years learning to fight back. But it was much later, as an adult, that he learned the most shocking thing of all about his father, his past, and himself. Told with raw honesty and deep emotion, My Father’s Son is a memoir of fear, abuse, survival, and identity.

When I saw that My Father’s Son by John Davis had been released as an audiobook, I immediately couldn’t wait to listen to it. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my  honest review since I had previously reviewed the ebook.

My Father’s Son is a memoir, so it is the story of the author’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn, the son of an abusive father. It chronicles his father’s actions, their effects, family secrets and ultimately strength of spirit and the ability to overcome.

I thought that the experience of listening to this was a positive one, I really enjoyed listening to this as an audiobook and felt like it was being told to me in a conversation with a friend. I loved this narrator too. I tend to err on the picky side when listening to audiobooks because I find with some narrators it’s hard for me to get into a book, but I thought that this narrator was fantastic. The story of John’s childhood is gut wrenching sometimes and I think that this narrator was perfect for the topics presented in this memoir because his voice was very soothing and he read at a perfect pace for this book.

This memoir is gripping, at times gritty and just very real. Both when I read and listened to this on audiobook, I just wanted to hug little John and save him, hold his hand and tell him it’d be okay and that he wasn’t alone. This book, and others like it, I think are important ones. This was so different from my childhood, and I think when we don’t see stories like these we naively see the world through blinders and stories like this help me to remember that everyone has a different story and is going through different things and to always be compassionate towards everyone.

While this book does deal with the heavy topics of child abuse and drugs…it does also feature very heart warming things as well like family and self discovery. This was wonderful as an audiobook and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. My listening experience of My Father’s Son was a wholly different experience than reading it, although I think either way you experience this book is worthy of five stars. I thank the author for sharing the story of his childhood with the world, something that must have been difficult to begin with but reading it has definitely helped me to reflect and taught me a few things as well. If you would like to read my review of the ebook for My Father’s Son you can read it here: My Father’s Son by John Davis

Audiobook Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

9418327Title: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: 5 hours and 35 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publication Date: Aprill 5, 2011
Rating – 3.5 stars

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

I listened to Bossypants by Tina Fey via Audible as well. I had been wanting to read this book for a really long time, especially after I listened to Amy Poehler’s audiobook of her memoir. There is just something that I love about listening to memoirs when the author’s narrate them, it just makes them hit home that much more. I guess it’s more personal that way and the author’s unique voices really shine through.

I love Tina Fey. I love her wittiness, her sauciness and just how kick ass she is as a comedian in a historically male dominated business. It’s wonderful to see women like her now dominating comedy so I really wanted to get to know her better in listening to this.

I enjoyed a lot about this book but I especially loved hearing about her stories from SNL and 30 Rock, shows that I love. It was also interesting to just hear about her experiences as a female comedian, how she got to where she is today and tidbits of her history and family life. I loved the subtle feminism in this book and even the funny self deprecating remarks she makes which she manages to pull off. Sometimes I enjoy that, sometimes I don’t. You can tell she’s just poking fun at herself, which is something I do often. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves somewhat right? She did make me chuckle a few times. Even though I was hoping for just a little bit more, I enjoyed listening to this. Four stars. I am hoping for a follow up memoir to this one.

Blog Tour Book Review: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

hidden-figures-pb-coverAbout Hidden Figures

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 6, 2016)

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Hello everyone, happy Wednesday! Thanks for stopping in on my stop for the blog tour for Hidden Numbers. I received a copy from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

Hidden Numbers is a nonfiction work that tells the story of a group of African American women whom worked for NASA as mathematicians. Their story has been a lesser known story even though they played such a pivotal, important role in United States space exploration history, literally calculating the trajectories that sent astronauts into space. 

When I first signed up to take part in this tour, I had no clue that a film was coming out based on this book and the work of these amazing women.  I ended up seeing the trailer randomly and it floored me! How had I never known this essential part of history?!

I loved this book. Not only did I learn a lot while reading it, it was also very inspiring and moving. It’s evident in the writing and the detail included how much research went into this book and the result is an in depth look at a piece of history that we didn’t know we were missing but are so glad to have brought to light. There were so many different interesting aspects of this book. These women are incredible and brave, as are each of their stories. They were women working in a male dominated industry at a time when that wasn’t really done, especially in that particular industry. Not only were they women but they were also black women and this was during the time of the civil rights movement, so with just those two key pieces of information you can see just how important and awesome their work and their situation was. 

I am so glad that I read this book and I recommend it to everyone. It’s such an important piece of history, and it’s just fascinating to read about what these women did…I mean without them many things would not have been possible and it’s extremely maddening that their story is barely coming to light and I can’t wait to see the movie based on this book. These women definitely came alive through the pages of this book so it will be incredible, I think, to see them come to life on screen as well and the actresses attached to the movie are phenomenal so that’s exciting! A five star read!

Margot Lee Shetterly AP Photo by Aran ShetterlyAbout Margot Lee Shetterly

Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Find out more about Margot at her website and connect with her on Twitter.

tlc logo

Blog Tour Book Review: Brave New Weed by Joe Dolce

brave-new-weed-coverAbout Brave New Weed

• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (October 4, 2016)

The former editor-in-chief of Details and Star adventures into the fascinating “brave new world” of cannabis, tracing its history and possible future as he investigates the social, medical, legal, and cultural ramifications of this surprisingly versatile plant.

Pot. Weed. Grass. Mary Jane. We all think we know what cannabis is and what we use it for. But do we? Our collective understanding of this surprising plant has been muddled by politics and morality; what we think we know isn’t the real story.

A war on cannabis has been waged in the United States since the early years of the twentieth century, yet in the past decade, society has undergone a massive shift in perspective that has allowed us to reconsider our beliefs. In Brave New Weed, Joe Dolce travels the globe to “tear down the cannabis closet” and de-mystify this new frontier, seeking answers to the questions we didn’t know we should ask.

Dolce heads to a host of places, including Amsterdam, Israel, California, and Colorado, where he skillfully unfolds the odd, shocking, and wildly funny history of this complex plant. From the outlandish stories of murder trials where defendants claimed “insanity due to marijuana consumption” to the groundbreaking success stories about the plant’s impressive medicinal benefits, Dolce paints a fresh and much-needed portrait of cannabis, our changing attitudes toward it, and the brave new direction science and cultural acceptance are leading us.

Enlightening, entertaining, and thought-provoking, Brave New Weed is a compelling read that will surprise and educate proponents on both sides of the cannabis debate.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Brave New Weed by Joe Dolce. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours.

Brave New Weed is a nonfiction book all about Cannabis. It discusses the origins, history and possible future of the plant for the world and specifically, the United States. It was a really fascinating discussion on the arguments against and for marijuana use, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. I found the origins and the history of marijuana use to be super intriguing, especially when it came to the medicinal use of cannabis oil for cancers.

I really enjoyed reading this book. While I’m still not close to being an expert on the topic, as someone who knew next to nothing about the plant or it’s history, I definitely feel like I learned a ton of really interesting and really useful information from reading this book. The author discusses the topic in a serious and at times, lighthearted way that I really enjoyed. I loved how the book was sectioned between old, new and future. I also really enjoyed reading about the authors travels throughout the world, visiting dispensaries and talking to scientists and growers and I loved the discussion on how the plant is grown and used in the different places. One thing that I never knew anything about that this book made me super interested in was how Cannabis is considered a Schedule I category drug while others like Cocaine and Meth are schedule II, which after reading through this book, I think is CRAZY!

It is going to be interesting to observe the future of Marijuana in the US and I am so thankful that I have read this book so that I am more familiar with the topic. Also, If you read this book I definitely recommend reading the appendix! Five star read!

joe-dolce-apAbout Joe Dolce

Joe Dolce is the former editor in chief of Details and Star magazines, and has written for many of the world’s leading publications, including the New York Times, Gourmet, and Travel + Leisure. He is the CEO and founder of Joe Dolce Communications, a presentation and media-training company based in New York City. He is not a stoner.

tlc logo

Book Review: Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter by Nina Norstrom


Title: Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter by Nina Norstrom
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Publisher: WriteLife Publishing
Page count: 190 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Rating – 4 stars!!

Symbolizing a Journey ─ Learning Lessons ─ Letting Go ─ and Gaining Insight . . . tools that lead to relationships.

Relationships are formed with people, alcohol, animals, battlefields, diseases, drugs, environments, and even our emotions. Whether toxic or nontoxic they’re an integral component of daily living. That’s just the way life is!

Follow Author Nina Norstrom through the journey as she peels off those toxic relationships she endured. In this book, you will experience her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness. Writing about those types of relationships can be therapeutic. So she started journaling. And that’s how this story took its roots.

The tale exposes a mother’s struggle to escape her world of toxicity. Along the way, their journey takes them into the clutches of diseased relationships. As the shoe prints are molded in and out of a variety of toxic relationships, they’ll leave behind a blazing trail of lessons.
This story in its raw image projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out the toxicity of deadly relationships. Its message reveals the importance that life brings many challenges, and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned. You will find, ultimately, this story speaks to the beauty of love, compassion, courage, determination, and strength.

“Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter. A Journey Through Toxic Relationships,” is a powerful, insightful, and inspiring personal story . . . a riveting account about one family’s cycle of toxicity.

To ensure relief from toxic elements, portion of proceeds will go to fund the fight against toxic relationships.

One thing that I absolutely love is reading about a person’s life and seeing the world through the lens of theirs. Books like Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter by Author Nina Norstrom do that for me. They take me out of my life and teach me life lessons through the experiences of the person who wrote it.

Nina Norstroms memoir is a journey through relationships and the life lessons that she learned from them. The overall theme of this book is a focus on toxic relationships. One thing I really liked is that the author explored different kinds of toxic relationships in romantic relationships, friendships, between family members and also toxic relationships that can occur within the human body.

I found tremendous value in the sections that come after each chapter where the author includes the lessons she had learned that the reader can take away from her experience. It actually made me think back on relationships and friendships in my past that at the time I didn’t realize we’re very toxic but that when I look back at them I am able to recognize that they were wrong.

This book was a mixture of feelings for me ranging from happiness at happy, loving moments to sadness at the sad, heartbreaking moments that occur. I found the author and her daughter to be extraordinarily strong women throughout their lives, especially when they only had each other. Just beautiful. 4 stars!

Blog Tour Book Review: Set Free From Darkness: A Memoir by Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen

SFFDBANNERSFFDKINDLETitle: Set Free From Darkness: A Memoir by Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 143 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication date: September 20, 2015
Publisher:  Veritas, an imprint of Ravenswood Publishing
Rating: 5/5

In 1987 I had dreams of marriage and a family. I had a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter and a nice home. I wanted to know the God that could create a child so perfect. I began exploring my spiritual options. While researching New Age philosophies I would go through mental illness psychosis leaving me with the worst fear I could ever know. I was afraid of my thoughts and myself. With misdiagnosis and failed hospitalizations I ended up taking the life of my 10-month-old child. Set Free From Darkness will take you from tears to victory. I set out “to know the God that could create a child so perfect” and He answered my prayer but in a much deeper more complex way. He loved me enough to allow my heart to be broken so I could begin a journey to learn to love and forgive.


Good morning everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Set Free From Darkness: A Memoir. I would like to thank the author, as well as the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

Set Free From Darkness is a memoir, as you can tell from previous posts this year I have been trying to read more memoirs as I find them to be completely fascinating and I love the life lessons that I inevitably find in them. They just give me another perspective on life that I find to be valuable and oftentimes, beautiful. This book definitely falls into that category for me as well.

It tells the story of the author’s struggle throughout her life with mental illness, a struggle that causes a terrible tragedy at her hands that causes her life to fall apart. While it starts off in a very dark place, as we are taken through the author’s struggle with her mental illness and the years following her daughter’s death, the story ends in a much lighter place with the foundation being her Christian faith. It is basically a story about a person’s mental, spiritual and physical journey to God and to their own forgiveness.

I loved this book. For me it was a very emotional book as it starts with a difficult subject matter involving the death of a child and mental illness but I think that these issues are very important to talk about and I think the author does such a superb job of talking about them in her book since she has lived through this. I can’t begin to imagine what the author has been through and felt through the course of her life and the events in the book but I have a small idea thanks to her courage to tell her story. The story is definitely a testimony of God’s working in her life so it may not be a story for everyone but I do definitely think, however, that everyone should read it. I think everyone can benefit from reading it in some way, which is what  I love about memoirs. They teach us things. They allow us to see the world in different ways, through different lenses. This book definitely did that for me and I’m grateful to have read it. It may be difficult for some to read but nonetheless it is definitely worth it. Five stars from me. If you are interested in purchasing please visit one of the links below.

Happy reading everyone!


About the AuthorSKR

Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, believes in the full gospel of the Bible, complete with the Spiritual Gifts, and retains the respect for others who are on their journey seeking the “light”. Growing up with legalism, rules and regulations she has come to view God in a much broader way. Susan is happily married and has been the shepherd of four goats, two dogs, one cat and a rooster. She and her husband, John, live near Green Bay, Wisconsin. She would be the first one to admit that she did not have what it took to live out this story, but for some reason she was chosen. Now she is grateful to be on this side of the pain, sharing a story of hope and restoration. “There is something that happens inside a person when what they hold dear is stripped from them. If once they can let go of the guilt and sadness, a healing takes place that creates a strength unknown to many.” Susan will tell you she didn’t do anything special…she just got up every day and somehow managed to take another step. God wrote this story of beauty for ashes, one day at a time.