Monday, May 20, 2019

What a Year...

I started this blog, Reviewed by Mom back in 2010.  In the beginning, it was a fun hobby for me.  I was a mom of three young children who missed some of the structure of a 9-5 work life.  Blogging became a way for me to feel a little more connected to the outside world.  Over the years, I was able to work with some really amazing companies and host some fun giveaways.  I really enjoyed those opportunities and loved writing about the newest products out there.

On top of having some fun products to try out and a forum to share my thoughts, I really enjoyed getting to know my readers.  Some of you have been with me since the beginning!  I have truly appreciated the support over the years.  You have all kept me in the blogging business for almost 10 years!

You may have noticed some real silence from me over the past year.  When I just hopped on to write this post, I couldn't believe how long it had been and it made me feel sad.  I really love Reviewed by Mom and it has brought me many smiles over the years (the horrors of Moon Sand, charity work with Zhu-Zhu Pets and the countless page turners I have had the pleasure of reading in the name of RBM to name just a few).

2018 was not my favorite year.  Sure, there were some really great moments but there was some really tough stuff too.  First off, in the late spring, I become really sick with some significant stomach issues.  I lost more than 20 pounds, had no energy and really became a  shadow of who I was.  During that time, my mom who lived here with us in an inlaw apartment and who I cared for, was hospitalized and sent to rehab.  As a result of mobility issues and increasing health issues, she had to move to an assisted living facility in August.  In the fall, I was in the ER twice with dehydration and a third time for kidney stones as a result of being dehydrated.  Cue the violins, my was a real pity party of here for awhile!

At the end of the fall, I began to feel better after some new medication and a great doctor.  Unfortunately, as I began to get better, things for my mom became worse.  She had a stroke right after Thanksgiving.  The doctors did not think she would survive but she did.  And because of her strength and will to live, we got two extra months with her before she passed away in February.

It has been really hard.  I am an only child and my father passed away in 2006.  It has been a very emotional time for me and my family.  I miss her terribly but also feel grateful that the kids had so much day to day time with their Grammy.  How lucky we were to have her live here with us!

This past year, with all of the challenges, left me little time or energy to do the things I love.  I abandoned the blog.  I gave up running and I even began reading less.  Now that I have had some healing time behind me, I am ready to jump back into life.  I just finished a great book that I can't wait to share with you all, I ran a 10 miler a few weeks back and I am doing my first post for Reviewed by Mom in almost a year.  Things are looking up and getting a bit more "normal". 

Thank you to all my readers for sticking with me for all of these years.  I am glad to have you here and am looking forward to connecting with you again. It is good to be back!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Stars on Ice coming to Portland!!!!

I am so weekend Stars on Ice is coming to my City!  Portlanders are you ready?  If you haven't heard all the buzz about the show (where have you been?!) here is the scoop...


National Tour to be Highlighted by Performances from U.S. Olympic Figure Skating
Bronze Medal Team Members, including Nathan Chen, as well as
Ice Dance Bronze Medalists Maia & Alex Shibutani


(Portland, ME) – Every four years, the Winter Olympics give us a chance to revel in the performances of our favorite athletes, as well as celebrate any medals they might have won. The U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team delivered against tough opposition winning a Bronze medal in the team competition, while Maia & Alex Shibutani, the brother-sister two-time National Ice Dance Champions and three-time World medalists also took home an Ice Dance Olympic Bronze. Despite narrowly missing out on the podium, two-time National Champion Nathan Chen delivered one of the Olympics greatest single performances with his record-breaking free skate that featured SIX quadruple jumps! Those Olympic memories will be at the epicenter of the 2018 Stars on Ice tour that will feature many of the skaters who medaled for the U.S. in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Tour will visit Portland, ME on Sunday, April 15 for a 4:00 PM performance at the Cross Insurance Arena.
This year’s Stars on Ice tour will put American fans front and center to experience the best of U.S. Figure Skating. Joining Maia & Alex Shibutani as 2018 Olympic medalists on the 2018 tour will be U.S. Olympic Team Bronze Medalists; two-time and reigning National Champion Nathan Chen, U.S. Champion and overnight sensation Adam Rippon, 2018 U.S. Ladies Champion Bradie Tennell, and National Champion Mirai Nagasu, who made history by landing the first triple axel for an American woman at the Olympics.

The 2018 Stars on Ice tour will also present several other skating luminaries, including U.S. Olympic royalty, Ice Dance Gold Medalists Meryl Davis & Charlie White; three-time National Champion and 2016 World Silver Medalist Ashley Wagner; and National Champion and huge crowd favorite, Jason Brown. Also featured on this year’s tour will be three other members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating team, 2017 U.S. Ladies Champion Karen Chen, 2018 National Ice Dance Champions Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue.

Tickets for the 2018 Stars on Ice tour are on sale now. Tickets start at $25 and are available at,, the Cross Insurance Arena’s Trusted Choice Box Office, Ticketmaster at Wal-Mart Electronics’ Departments, and by phone at 1-207-775-3458 or 1-800-745-3000. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Please visit for the most up to date information, as well as exciting show announcements.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed watching the Olympics with the kids this year and figure skating was one of our very favorite events.  I think it is incredibly exciting that Olympic medalists are coming to our city.  It really is a unique opportunity to experience some of that Olympic excitement close to home.  I am thinking of surprising the kids and taking them next weekend!  I hope to see some familiar faces there so be sure to get your tickets at  Not near Portland?  Not to worry...Stars on Ice is visiting lots of other towns so be sure to visit the website to find out when they will be near you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Regal Academy: The Grand Ball....Review & Giveaway!

Earlier this month an adorable DVD was released that would make a great Easter Basket addition for the girls in your life.  Regal Academy:  The Grand Ball is out now and is sure to be a big hit.  Here is the scoop..



Public Media Distribution, LLC. announced it is releasing the new DVD “REGAL ACADEMY: THE GRAND BALL.” Kids aged 6-11 will have a blast with Rose Cinderella and Friends at Regal Academy’s first big Ball on campus. The DVD also includes a karaoke bonus track of “This is the Moment” from the “Grand Ball” episode of the Nickelodeon series.

The episodes on this DVD include:

“The Grand Ball”

It’s time for the first big Ball on campus, and that means big dresses, big dancing and big dates. Rose ends up going with Hattie, the awkward grandson of the Mad Hatter, but Joy has only eyes for Esquire Frog. Esquire’s frog curse is so strong, no one has ever broken it, so Joy and Rose cook up a plan to kiss him at midnight with special curse-breaking lipstick. Vicky has her own plans for a fun night, inviting the evil Candlewick from Pinocchio to turn everyone at the Ball into donkeys!

“Swan Dancing with the Stars”

Headmistress Cinderella is holding a dance competition at her castle, and both Astoria and Odette -- the granddaughter of the Swan Princess -- are determined to win. But Vicky sabotages the dance with the help of Rothbart, the evil wizard from Swan Lake. Can Rose help everyone dance to victory?

“Song of the Sea Witch”

Rose wants to learn to sing, because all of the great fairy tale princesses could sing. Things get tricky when the Sea Witch steals Rose's voice! Rose has to sing in front of the whole school, as Hawk and the others fight to get her voice back in time for her debut! 

My Thoughts:  This is a really sweet show that my daughter, who is 8, really enjoys.  At her age she is all about "fancy" so shows that feature princesses are right up her alley.  She really loved The Grand Ball episode with the hubbub surrounding preparations for the dance. 

Each episode is filled with fun and problem solving messages which make it a positive show for children to enjoy.  I love the integration of familiar characters like Cinderella that tie in beloved fairy tales.  This show is bound to be a bit hit with fairy tale lovers and little girls who long to be princesses!  Pick up your copy today on Amazon...

Win It!  I am thrilled to tell you that one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of Regal Academy:  The Grand Ball!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Moveable Feast Season 5....Available Now!

Where are my foodie followers?!  I am such a wannabe foodie.  I love food but I lack the time and motivation to create really fabulous dishes most of the time (I am working on it though!).  I really love to watch cooking shows on TV and one that I always enjoy can be found on PBS....Moveable Feast. Season 5 is now available on DVD and would make a great addition to your DVD library or a thoughtful gift.  Here is the scoop...


Available on DVD and Digital HD March 6 from Public Media Distribution, LLC

 Public Media Distribution, LLC announced it is releasing “MOVEABLE FEAST WITH FINE COOKING – SEASON 5” on DVD and Digital HD. Nominated for an Emmy® and James Beard Award, and winner of both Telly and TASTE Awards, MOVEABLE FEAST WITH FINE COOKING is co-hosted this season by award-winning chefs Pete Evans and Curtis Stone, and special guest chef Michelle Bernstein. In Season Five they bring viewers to Europe and Puerto Rico, in addition to locations in the United States, to meet top chefs and award-winning food artisans to source the finest regional ingredients and create a multi-course feast for friends.

Viewers will learn cooking tips and techniques from talented chefs, including Patricia Wells, Guy Savoy, Bryan Voltaggio, Tom Douglas, and Sherry Yard, and discover how they can interpret the chefs’ flavorful dishes in their own kitchen. Diners enjoy these spectacular meals hosted in unique places, from the breathtaking mustard fields of Dijon and rice farms near Turin, to a stunning vineyard in San Luis Obispo and an authentic Taos pueblo. Viewers will want a seat at the table!

My Thoughts:  I have seen this show before on PBS so I already knew I was going to like it.  What's not to like?  The places the chefs take you are gorgeous and interesting and the food is to die for.  I love to see what local dishes the chefs come up with and I am appreciate the tips and techniques even though I am currently in the "macaroni and cheese" phase of life.  I will be banking these ideas when fine cuisine no longer means red sauce.  

If you love travel and food this show is a fun and informative watch.  You will find inspiration and maybe even some motivation to create some of these amazing dishes.  Even if you are not a person who loves to cook this show is a fascinating trip to great locations to learn more about food culture.  Yum!  

Purchase your copy today on Amazon...

You can also visit for local show times.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Fear by CL Taylor...Review & Giveaway!

It is no secret how much I love to read.  It is, hands down, my favorite hobby.  I love all kinds of books but my current favorite genre is psychological thrillers.  A real favorite of mine in this realm is C.L. Taylor and  I am  delighted to be included on the blog tour of her latest book, The Fear.  I just finished this book up last week and I couldn't put it down.  It hooked me right from the first page and left me guessing until the end...I love it when that happens!  Here is the scoop on The Fear...

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

 Lou Wandsworth is used to being headline news as, aged fourteen, she ran away to France with her 31-year-old teacher, Mike Hughes.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is focussing his attention on 13-year-old Chloe Meadows.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…

My Thoughts:  Earlier this year I reviewed a book I loved by CL Taylor called The Missing (read it HERE).  I was wondering how The Fear would measure up because I had enjoyed it so very much.  The verdict?  The Fear is even better than The Missing!  I should have known I would love it because two of my other favorite authors were already singing its' praises (Karin Slaughter and Mark Edwards). 

As I mentioned, the book grabbed me right from the first page.   I was immediately curious about Lou.  Right off the bat you could tell she was complicated and kept feelings and thoughts close.  She is the kind of person who doesn't let others in easily and Taylor was able to convey that to the reader.  I felt like I was just getting to know someone who didn't really WANT me to know them which I felt added a real layer of complexity to the book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The present day is expertly woven in with the past when a young Lou was being abused by her karate teacher.  As the story unfolded, I became invested in Lou.  I wanted her to succeed and to rise above what had happened to her in her childhood.  Mike, her abuser, is just  a horrid person and as the book goes on you learn just how terrible he was to Lou and what a danger he is to Chloe.  The book mainly told through the perspective of Lou in both past and present but we also hear from Chloe from time to time as well as a character named Wendy who offers even more depth into this complicated story.

The twists in this book kept me on the edge of my seat.  C.L. Taylor writes with real creativity and took me on a real rollercoaster ride as I rooted Lou on in her quest for justice.  I didn't see the ending coming and was left at the end feeling grateful to the author who managed to keep me guessing and surprised by the ending.  

If you haven't read C.L. Taylor, you absolutely must.  She is a master of psychological fiction and The Fear would be an excellent introduction into her world.  You can pick up your copy today at the local bookstore or on Amazon...

Win It!  I am so excited to tell you that one lucky Reviewed by Mom reader will win a copy of The Fear!  Thanks so much to the publisher for sharing this great book with me!  Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire...Review & Giveaway!

One of my most favorite authors is Gregory Maguire. He had me at Wicked and I have read every one of his novels over the years.  I saw Wicked the Musical in Boston many years ago and was lucky enough to hear Mr. Maguire speak here in Portland many, many years ago. I find his work to be creative and quirky and so highly readable.  His work is a real treasure.  His latest offering is Hiddensee is the creative retelling of the  Nutcracker and is an absolute must read.  Here is the scoop...

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.
Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists' colony-- a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .
Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann-- the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier-- the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet-- who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.
But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults-- a fascination with death and the afterlife-- and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

My Thoughts:  Gregory Maguire is a masterful storyteller and his imagination is unbeatable.  If you are familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ballet you as I am you would expect to hear the tale from Klara or perhaps the prince but the perspective is from Klara's Godfather, Drosselmeier who creates the Nutcracker for her.  The reimagining of this story as told by "Dirk" is a fantastical journey full of surprise, mystery and darkness.  As always, Maguire creates a setting that transports you right into beautiful and desolate Bavaria.  His prose is almost poetic with bits of humor thrown into the sometimes dark storytelling.  We meet Dirk as a young boy and follow him along as he comes of age in the most mythical and eccentric ways.  Life does not always go as one would hope for Dirk but following his path is one crazy adventure.  
I think it takes a special author to weave a story based around a well loved folk and/or fairytale.  There must be research to stay somewhat true to the original storyline but also a powerful imagination to make it your own.  Gregory Maguire has mastered this skill time and time again and he has done it to perfection with Hiddensee.  Pick up this book and buckle up for a fantastic journey.  You can pick up your copy at the local bookstore or on Amazon here...

Win It!  One lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of Hiddensee!  Thanks so much to the publisher and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ellie,Engineer Prize Pack Giveaway!

A few weeks ago we celebrated National Engineer's Week and Girl Day and I have the perfect book to celebrate BOTH!  Ellie, Engineer is available now and is a must read to your young ones.  Here is the scoop...

Ellie loves to build. She’s always engineering new creations with the help of her imagination and her best friend Kit. Unfortunately, with Kit’s birthday just around the corner, the French-braiding machine Ellie built turns out to be more of a hair-knotting machine. What’s Ellie going to do? Luckily, the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about Kit’s surprise – it must be the dog she’s always wanted! Ellie is struck with inspiration: she’ll build Kit the best doghouse ever! The project quickly becomes more than just a present for Kit – it builds a bridge between Ellie and those bothersome neighbor boys, as well as the other handy girls in her class.


Designed to look like Ellie’s notepad, with pencil-on-graph-paper illustrations of her projects interspersed throughout the book, Ellie, Engineer inspires creative and crafty girls to get hands-on with their imagination. Ellie’s projects range from the simple (using a glass against a wall to amplify sounds), to the practical (the doghouse), to the fantastical (a bedroom security system featuring spikes) – encouraging readers to start small but think big. Ellie’s parents support her engineering experiments, with important safety tips sprinkled throughout, and her relationship with Kit is a glowing example of positive female friendship. They share their hobbies – Ellie likes to get her hands dirty, while Kit prefers ballet – reminding readers that there’s no wrong way to be a girl. Ellie’s hand-drawn tool guide at the end explains basic tools in accessible terms, rounding out this fun and funny adventure, and giving girls everything they need to be their own Ellie!


About the Author: Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters Red, Sweetly, Fathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

Buy It!  You can buy this inspiring book for girls today on Amazon....

Win It!  One lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win and Ellie, Engineer prize pack which includes:

~Copy of the book Ellie, Engineer
~Custom DIY Ellie-branded toolbox, designed to be easily assembled Ellie-style, as well as some simple tools and an instruction booklet!

Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shawn Colvin: The Starlighter...Review & Giveaway!

Last month, Shawn Colvin release a lovely collection of children's music that I have had the pleasure of listening to.  I have been meaning to tell you about it for weeks but between school vacation and many snow days I have been running WAY behind!
Many of you, like me, might have memories of Shawn Colvin tied to her Grammy winning hit "Sunny Came Home".  She has a great voice and it has been really nice to see it in the children's music realm.  Here is the scoop on The Starlighter....

When Shawn Colvin was an eight-year-old girl, her parents presented her with Lullabies and Night Songs, a collection of children's music that joined famed composer Alec Wilder's arrangements with the fantastical artwork of author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. The budding young musician found inspiration in the book and in 1998, Colvin, then eight months pregnant with her daughter and on the cusp of becoming a parent herself, returned to its pages to record the seasonal album, Holiday Songs and Lullabies, which featured her re-workings of several of Wilder and Sendak's selections.

Now, 19 years later, she has revisited Lullabies and Night Songs for her newest release, The Starlighter. The Starlighter finds the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist once again reaching back to her childhood inspiration in service of crafting an elegant and graceful musical offering- one that resonates with the warmth and tenderness of poignant familial experience and remembrance. Its 14 songs are a mix of traditional numbers and children's standards, all of them culled from the pages of Wilder and Sendak's transformative book.

The selections that Colvin chose for The Starlighter run the gamut from traditional fare like "Hush Little Baby" and "Raisins and Almonds" to "Minnie and Winnie" with words by 19th century poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "Cradle Song," with lyrics by celebrated English poet William Blake. Colvin and producer Doug Petty remain true to Wilder's original arrangements while also embellishing them with gentle orchestration, horns, accordion, piano and Colvin's signature acoustic guitar. The result is an album that captures the magic and mystery of children's lullabies while also offering a moving and timeless musical experience.

  1. The Starlighter
  2. Raisins and Almonds
  3. Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  4. Minnie and Winnie
  5. Sleep, Baby, Sleep
  6. Many Million Years Ago
  7. The Huntsmen
  8. The Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird
  9. Night
  10. The Journey
  11. Baby Shaftoe
  12. The Nut Tree
  13. Hush Little Baby
  14. Cradle Song
My Thoughts:  I like kid music that is not totally kid music.  This means it is not all silliness that has limited grownup appeal.  The Starlighter is a CD that everyone can enjoy and I have listened to it plenty of times when my kids were not in the room!  Shawn Colvin has a really lovely voice...clear and pure with lots of depth and I find her overall style to be very soothing.  The instrumental portion is aching beautiful and sweet and I can absolutely imagine rocking a little one to sleep while listening.  I enjoyed all 14 tracks and I think this is one of those great collections where you don't have to skip a song...I love it when that happens!  If I had to choose a favorite  I would go with the classic Hush, Little Baby.  Shawn Colvin's unique stamp on this song is really beautiful.  

This CD would make a thoughtful baby shower gift or gift for a new parent dreaming of sleep!  You can purchase the CD and stream the songs on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Win It!  I am so pleased to tell you that one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of The Starlighter!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway