One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

About 5 years ago I started this lil blog of mine. At the time I didn’t really have much direction of what to blog about but I still wanted to give blogging a try. 

When I first started this blog it was a bit of a mess! Which in some ways reflected the state of mind I was in.

But then something amazing happened within the last few years; I found something I was very interested in doing a lot of and also blogging about. I even started a whole new blog that was meant to be devoted to one particular thing, crochet. I named this blog Once Upon This Hook.

And for a while crochet really took over my life. I even created a Facebook page and even changed my handles/usernames on other social media accounts to reflect my passion for the hobby.

I eventually became interested in some other things to occupy my time as well: hunting down free samples and writing reviews for products and books. Which was awesome because I finally found some direction for this blog.

And now the time has come to say goodbye to 27 Shades of Eminence. It’s been an incredible journey but it’s time to close this chapter and begin a new one. I will no longer produce new content for this blog after this year. Maintaining two different blogs is becoming too much work. Which is why I have made the decision to close this blog and move the content I provided here over at Once Upon This Hook.

I have been considering doing this for some time, and I have been slowly working towards this for a while; I have already started posting crochet and product testing and reviews under the same social media accounts. And now the time has come to be all in and focus on just one blog.

If you enjoy the content I have provided here, please take a moment to subscribe to Once Upon This Hook so you can continue seeing the content you loved here.

Thank you for being a reader of this blog and I hope to see over at the new and improved Once Upon This Hook blog coming next year!

What new projects do you have planned for 2019?

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SheSpeaks Bookclub: The Dream Daughter

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Late August I received a copy of The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain via SheSpeaks. This was the September book club reading material.

This isn’t the sort of novel I tend to gravitate toward often. However, it turned out to be something very different than I expected it to be–in a good way! I almost didn’t even apply to participate in this book club because I thought there was a chance it would a bit on the boring side so I was very happy that it turned out to be quite the intriguing read.

I like the two main characters in this book. Caroline and Hunter are quite likable and it easy to empathize with them. The further I got into the story, the harder it got to put down. Also, things got pretty interesting fairly quickly.

I enjoyed this book so much that I knew as soon as I finished this book that I should pass it along to one of my friends who I know will enjoy this book. The Dream Daughter would make a great gift to a mother or daughter who loves to curl up with a good book. I would also go as far to say that this might even make a great Mother’s Day gift! You can read a sample and/or grab your own copy of this lovely read by clicking here.

 

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When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

-Goodreads description of The Dream Daughter

Have you read any of Diane Chamberlain’s other books?

Which ones are your favorites?

Not a member of SheSpeaks? Click here to sign up and you could be invited to participate in a book club just like this one.

I received an Advanced Readers’ Copy of The Dream Daughter from SheSpeaks in exchange for an honest review and some social sharing. The above review reflects my own opinions of the book.

How to Get Free Books (Print AND eBooks)

One of my favorite things to do is reading. I love it when I find a really good book or series of books to read. The downside about reading is that it can get expensive if you do it a lot. One option is to utilize your local library or you might want to check out this list of sites that offer free books you can read if you prefer new books or ebooks.

This concludes my 27 Shades of FREE series. If you’re new to finding free stuff on the web, I hope my posts provide helpful tips. If you missed the previous posts, just click here to see them.

blue pink gray and green labeled hardbound book pile on green grass during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Goodreads Giveaways (Print and eBooks)

This is at the top of this list because this is my absolute FAVORITE source for getting books. I pretty much visit this site on a daily basis to check out the new giveaways. I have received numerous free copies of books through Goodreads Giveaways, as of October 2018  I have received 11 books in print and 3 ebooks! And I have only been active in entering giveaways for about a year. I only enter for print book giveaways but they do have Kindle ebooks and a few audiobooks. You also aren’t required to write a book review.

Before I go any further I’d like to take the time to inform you of something very important: Goodreads is the host of these giveaways and are not the one in charge of the giveaways. If you so happen to have the issue of not receiving a copy of a book, you need to contact Goodreads so they communicate on your behalf. The first step you want to do is after the time frame of when your book should have arrived has passed, you want to go to report that you haven’t received your copy. To do this you need to go to the Giveaway page and then click on Giveaways You’ve Entered, sort the list by won, find the title of your book, and then click on I have not received my copy. If you don’t hear anything or receive your copy of the book within a couple weeks, you need to contact Goodreads by filling out the form found here. It’s very important that you don’t wait too long to contact them because you have a limited time frame in which they will help you.

Library Thing (Print and eBooks)

LibraryThing is kind of similar to Goodreads on the smaller scale. You can either be an Early Reviewer or you can just enter Member Giveaways. Unlike Goodreads, their book offerings are only updated on a monthly basis and there isn’t as much of a selection. You also are required to provide a written review of any book you win within a certain time frame.

Read it Forward (Print)

This is a weekly giveaway you can enter. Sometimes there is an opportunity to win a group of books.

YA Books Central (Print)

There is a pretty good selection of book available here that you can enter to win. It’s not as simple to enter as other sites because you earn raffle tickets via social media activities (following, sharing, visiting…) to help increase your chances to win. You don’t have to do all the activities to enter.

NetGalley (eBooks)

This site is more for professional readers (reviewers, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, etc.) to help promote new books. Good selection of books to choose from. Providing reviews are essential to be selected to receive digital copies.

First to Read (eBooks) 

This site is easy to sign up for. They don’t have a huge selection offered but the selection is updated about once a month. You earn points for interacting on the site (sharing, requesting digital copies, sharing excerpts, etc.), you then can use these points to guarantee early access to digital copies of books. You will want to make sure your device has a software that supports Adobe Digital Editions.  You also aren’t required to write reviews but can help increase your chances of being chosen to receive more digital copies.

Voracious Readers Only (eBooks)

This site is used to help introduce readers to novelists who are lesser known. Sign up is fast and easy. They’ll send you offers for free ebook copies as they come available for the genres you select an interest in. The more genres you select, the more offers you should get. While reviewing the ebook copies you receive are much appreciated, you aren’t required to do so.

Online Book Club (eBooks)

This is a neat book club. Every day they have a Book of the Day which sometimes ends up being free to download. The site also has a daily giveaway for Amazon gift cards. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is check out the book of the day or download it if it’s available for free. There also are a few opportunities to earn some extra entries. The entries do roll over if you enter EVERY day. Another way for you to get free ebooks is to become a book reviewer. You could even possibly earn some extra money if you are good at writing book reviews.

Tyndale Blog Network (Christian book bloggers)

If you have a blog where you post book reviews, and you’re a Christian (and enjoy reading Christian literature), then this is a good site for you. They aren’t always accepting applications for book bloggers/reviewers so you’ll have to keep an eye out for when they open applications for new book bloggers.

Moody Publishers Newsroom (Christian book bloggers)

This is another site for Christian Book Bloggers. This one works similarly to Tyndale Blog Network, however, in addition to posting a review on your blog, they want you to also post a review on consumer site as well (Amazon, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, etc). You should receive your review copy within 7-10 days and then you have 60 days (from the time you receive the book) to read and review the book.

Prolific Works: formerly known as Instafreebie (eBooks)

This site has a handful of ebooks available for you to download for free. You can receive e-mail notifications throughout the week or you can just visit the site when you decide to check out the offers.

BookFunnel: Potions and Petticoats Giveaways (eBooks)

Another good source of free ebook copies (and excerpts). I only discovered this site recently so I can’t tell you how often it is updated with new titles. You’ll have to sign up to receive e-mails from the author but you can easily unsubscribe later. If you have a Kindle (or the Kindle app) I suggest downloading the BookFunnel app to make downloading the books easier.

eBookDaily 

This site has a list of free (and bargain) Kindle ebooks available for the day. You can choose to see both free and bargain titles or you can opt to just see the free ebooks available. You also get to select which genres you are interested in.

FreeBooksy

Another site with listings of free titles. One thing I like about this site they have a section for series. They list the free ebook available for the series but also provides links to the other book titles.

Free (& Bargain) Ebooks E-Mails

Sign up for the following sites and get a list free & discounted Kindle ebooks available on Amazon. Most of the time these are daily e-mails but some of them do have the option of receiving e-mails weekly. They also usually have different books on their list, but sometimes you will see repeats. If you already have a Kindle (or the Kindle app) this a time saver so you don’t have to browse through the free ebook offerings. Most of the sites on the list allow you to pick the genres you would like to receive notifications about.

BookBub 

Robin Reads

eBooks Habit

E-Reader IQ Daily

E-Reader News Today

Mega Book Deals

Red Roses Romance (Romance books)

Book Barbarian (Science Fiction & Fantasy)

Book Adrenaline (Mystery & Thrillers)

Early Bird Books (Mostly bargain books + a daily free ebook)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BzzAgent: Downy Unstopables

I like BzzAgent but for a little over a year I hadn’t been invited to participate in any campaigns. Which was so a bummer because I like the way the site was set up. Then this past summer I FINALLY was selected to participate in the Downy Unstopables campaign.

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My mom & sister already use Unstopables so I was already aware of the product. I was sent three sample packets of the scent Fresh. I was a little disappointed to be only sent just a few packets but I am still grateful for being able to try this product our for myself.

We didn’t have pets at the time but I was still interested because I do like how these kinds of products give laundry the extra boost of freshly clean smell. The packets, unfortunately, weren’t as easy to use as I would have liked because I did have to use scissors to open them but I did enjoy the scent.

The scent did stick to the clothes after washing but the strength of the scent wasn’t quite as strong as I would have really liked it to be after drying. But the scent was long-lasting. Something that probably could have been easily solved by just adding a little more of the product.

If you already like Downy or are looking for laundry scent booster, you should definitely give Downy Unstopables a try. I’ll likely be using this product again in the future and will definitely have to try out other available scents.

Do you use a laundry scent booster? Which brand and scent is your favorite?

**I received free samples of Downy Unstopables from BzzAgent to try out but my opinions are my own.**

We Are All Readers

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To say that you hate reading is a pretty stupid thing to say; it’s the same as saying that you do not like watching movies, or listening to music. Of course, you might not like all movies, and it’s all a matter of personal preferences, for some actors or directors, your mood and a bunch of other factors.

That being said, we’re all readers. Yet, some of us have not discovered what they like to read.

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Smiley360: Vitafusion Probiotic Gummies

Gummy Vitamins. Oh, how I love my gummy vitamins! I like how easy they are to take- much easier than traditional pills or capsules! So when I was given another opportunity to try out Vitafusion Probiotic Gummies, I was definitely interested. I have already tried Vitafusion Gummy Vitamins and I do tend to like them so I already anticipated that I would like these new probiotic gummies.

Vitafusion

I absolutely love these! They are my favorite probiotic gummy (so far) because they have this very natural flavor- similar to a fruit juice. They’re sweet but less so than other gummies I have tried. I honestly don’t have any dislikes about this product. I would definitely recommend this to someone who is looking for a probiotic gummy vitamin that has a more natural taste to it.

 

Do you like to take probiotics? Do you use Vitafusion or another brand? And what is preferred form to take probiotics?

Throw A Party, Get Free Stuff: Ripple Street & Tryazon

Ripple Street (aka House Party)

Ripple Street is the new version House Party. What I most like about this site is that you can free stuff from either throwing a themed party or from talking about it online (Chatterbox program). I have only tried one product through the site, and that was before the change to Ripple Street, but I am hoping that changes in the near future!

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t received anything from the site since the change so I can’t really speak about the differences from the old House Party/ Chatterbox vs the new Ripple Street. It has an interesting new look and they have added communities you can join.

Tryazon/ Tryabox

I can’t speak from personal experience when it comes to this one but I will say that it looks like it works similarly to the way House Party/ Chatterbox did (before becoming Ripple Street). You can apply for a theme party or a box of samples to try out. They also do giveaways as well. I’ve seen a fair amount of opportunities for family-based parties, boxes, and giveaways here.

**Next: How to get FREE books**

Smiley360 & Social Media Link sites

Last time I shared with you some sites that offer opportunities in exchange for social sharing, and usually a review as well. Social Media Link websites technically fit into this category BUT since there are more than a handful of them, I figured it was best to devote a whole post to these sites.

Smiley360

I’ve tested out a few products through Smiley360; A couple of gummy vitamins and a scent booster for laundry. And I have had a couple more offers that I have declined. If you don’t have an interest in signing up for a whole bunch of sites, then I suggest you at least sign up for this one.

It’s really easy to sign up and get set up, it’s also probably one of the easiest in comparison to other sites I have mentioned so far. One thing I like about Smiley360 is the allow you a chance to try out their social sharing tools right away.

They usually send e-mails about offers they have for you, but I would suggest checking in every once and a while because sometimes offers do slip through the cracks. You fill out a quick survey to see if you qualify. If you do you will within a short period of time. When you the campaign ends you typically with have a follow-up survey and/or review to do about the product you tried out.

The following sites are very similar to Smiley360. They essentially work the same but with a focus on a specific brand. There are a few more out there but these are the ones I most recommend joining. They typically don’t offer as many offers as Smiley360 but still are well worth becoming a member of if you are a fan of (or just interested in) the brand.

Snuggle Bear Den Community

Generation Good by Seventh Generation

Simple Solutions by Arm & Hammer

 

 

**Coming next: Ripple Street & Tryazon**

 

 

Shine: A Novel by William Bernhardt (Book Review)

I’ve been a big fan of reading since I was a young teen. Some of my favorite past times are the days I spent all day reading a really good book. I am especially fond of books in print because there is something nostalgic about being able to hold a physical print copy. However, I understand the perks of ebooks; very convenient and more environmentally friendly. I never thought the day would come when I would be open to reading ebooks but that day has come to pass! It took me a long time to warm up to the idea but, eventually, I decided to give it a shot. I have to admit having a tablet has been a major factor in what has made me feel more comfortable with reading ebooks.

The below review is of the very first ebook I have read a few months ago. I received the free ebook from Voracious Readers. I discovered the site via Facebook one day when I was looking through my feed and I decided to check it out. And I haven’t regretted it since!

Signing up with Voracious Readers is super simple; you only need to provide your name, e-mail, and check off the genres you are interested in reading. They’ll send you offers to your e-mail for any ebooks in the genres you checked off. If you’re interested in an offer sent to you, just click on YES, I WANT A COMPLIMENTARY REVIEW COPY OF THIS NOVEL! at the bottom of the e-mail. You typically will receive your free copy within the next few days. I typically receive offers 1-2 times per week. How often you receive offers will depend on how many genres your interested in. If you’re aren’t interested in a book offer just ignore the e-mail.

While reviews are appreciated, you are not required to post any. But the purpose of this site is for these books to be read so, please, pass on offers of any books you’re not interested in actually reading.

Shine: My Review

In the near future, a few young women manifest extraordinary abilities called “Shine.” Each girl’s ability is different. Some develop unusual mental abilities. Some become physically powerful. Others have talents that defy description. But the world does not embrace these Shines. It fears them.

Aura was only trying to use her healing powers to help a small child. But when she Shined, something went horribly wrong–and Seattle was destroyed. In the aftermath of this disaster, the government institutionalizes Shines in “rehabilitative treatment centers.” Aura is sent to the Transforming Your Light island rehab–but to her it seems more like a prison. The other Shines hate her. The people running the place are out to get her. And she feels certain more is going on here than “group grope” and twelve-step sessions. But when she tumbles onto the horrible secret lurking beneath the rehab–she realizes just how great the danger to her and the other Shines really is.

Aura resolves to escape before it’s too late. But she can only do that if she organizes the Shines, persuades them to work together, and overcomes the deadly opposition she only barely understands

  • Amazon description of Shine

I liked this book! It was a fun read. It kind of reminded me a tiny bit of Marvel’s X-Men. I liked how the group of girls were as unique as their special abilities. I also found the world this book is set in to be interesting as well. There are also a couple of good twists at the end of the book.

There were a few chapters in the book that kind of confused me. I think these chapters were mainly meant to convey to the reader the social and political environment or to let the reader get to know a certain character better. While I understand the purpose of these chapters, I think these were poorly put together and they just take away from the book rather than improving the book. Another thing I didn’t like is that you didn’t really get to know the group of girls the novel centers around, Aura being the exception. While I did enjoy the book as is, I think fleshing out the characters would have greatly improved this book.

After I finished reading the novel I did a little research and found out that Shine was originally a collection of short story episodic story arcs and that other authors contributed to the project. Other authors who contributed are Sabrina Fish, Tamara Grantham, Burke Holbrook, and Lara Wells.

I’m unsure if I want to check out the continuation of the series just because it seems like the group of girls this novel centered around won’t really be making an appearance, at least not the way I would like them to.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

** I received a free ebook copy of the book discussed in the above review but my opinions are my own.**

Try new products in exchange for an honest review and social sharing

1. Influenster

I absolutely love Influenster! This is one of my very favorite sites that offer opportunities to try out free products (VoxBoxes) in exchange for a review and some social sharing. I’ve received multiple boxes (7 within the past year and a half) of free full-size products from Influenster.

Why do I like Influenster so much? Because, in addition to getting free stuff and writing reviews, users also can read articles about trends and top lists. It’s a fun site to go to even when not trying out new products. It’s easy to use this awesome site. Just fill out your profile, connect your social media accounts, and answer some short survey questions. I recommend checking back every once and a while to see if any more questions have been added. It’s important for you to answer these questions because your answers help get you matched up to VoxBox opportunities. Also, go ahead and start writing reviews about stuff you have already tried out.

Keep in mind that even if you do everything you need to set up your account, this does not guarantee you will be selected to receive something to try out very quickly. This is because there are other factors to be considered, like demographics, etc. I have seen on social media that many have waited a long time before finally selected. I lucked out, however, and got my very first invitation within 30 days after signing up. So it is possible to get chosen within a short period of time after signing up, but don’t expect it, and have some patience if it doesn’t happen right away.

2. BzzAgent

Unfortunately, I have only been in 3 BzzCampaigns. I just recently was invited to join a campaign after going a LONG time with no invites. BzzAgent was just recently (within the last few months) acquired by PowerReviews which I anticipate means there should be more campaign opportunities for more products and brands.

The good news about BzzAgent is that you have the option to sign up with your Facebook account. When you sign up, you want to be sure to answer the survey questions. And be sure to check back every once and a while for new ones added. Also be sure to connect social accounts, like Twitter and Instagram. This is important because some of these survey questions are campaign qualifiers!

If you qualify for a campaign, you will have some activities to complete. These involve some social sharing within certain guidelines. These are usually easy and there tend to be some options of what you can do.

3. Crowdtap

I discovered Crowdtap last year. It fast became one of my top sites to go back to for trying out new products. One of the perks of Crowdtap is that you earn points from answering short survey questions, trying out new products, and other simple tasks. Later you can redeem these points for $5 gift cards (usually Amazon). So even if you aren’t able to get in on that many product missions, at least you can still get something out of participating in activities on the site. By the way, those survey questions I mentioned, those are kind of important. Why? Because it is my understanding that your responses factor in on whether or not you are chosen for a product mission because spots are limited ( and they want to make sure you are a good fit). I try to log in and do the surveys for a few minutes almost every day.

Another good thing about Crowdtap is that they give you information about your product missions before you even apply. This allows for you to judge if it is a good mission for you or if you should pass it up. You do have to make sure you fill out a report when you finish your mission. It’s basically a review of your experience with your product(s) you tried out and doesn’t take a lot of time. It is very important that you do these reports; failing to complete the report at the end will result in you being flagged! 4 flags and no more Crowdtap for you!

4. 0.8 Liter

The thing about these product samplings is that in exchange for the products you have to post a review on either Facebook or Instagram AND the site. If you are selected 0.8 Liter will contact you via e-mail when it ships and they will provide information about reviewing the product.

0.8 Liter (also known as 08L) is a neat little site that has these really short product sampling campaigns. They update their campaigns for FREE TO TRY products and they have some TRY NOW products that you can get for a special low price. These offers are updated pretty much daily. Most of the products you will see are K-Beauty but there are other items non-beauty at times. What I like about this site is that you can see what upcoming sampling campaigns are coming up by scrolling to the very bottom.

5. SheSpeaks

This is a pretty neat site. It’s a site just for women! Every once in a while they offer opportunities to get free stuff. And the kind of free stuff you potentially can get vary. So far the only things I have been offered, and have been interested in, are books. Seems like they tend to offer them spring through summer.

As far as free books go, what I had to do to fulfill requirements of the campaign is post pictures on social media that I was reading the book sent me. I had to do this about 3 times within a certain time frame. And then I wrote a review of the book after finishing it.

This site really is a community with message forums, product reviews, blog posts, and even recipe sharing! I would definitely recommend this site to any woman.

 

There are a couple other sites I could have added to this list, but I have little to no experience with these sites so I decided to keep them off the list for now.

 

**Next up: Smiley360 & Social Media Link sites**