Great Books to Read This Summer

If you want to read books that can capture your attention throughout the entire summer, you should consider The Hunger Games trilogy or the Divergent trilogy. These books are easy to read and can accompany you well for long road trips. For instance, in one week of traveling, I made it through the entire Hunger Games trilogy, including The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. It was so entertaining to read that time seemed to fly by.  The Divergent trilogy, just as engaging, is also a great option to choose as a travel read. Fortunately, both of these series have been recreated into movies. If you’ve seen the movie and loved it, you will enjoy the book even more.

The Fault In Our Stars is also a great book to consider; it will be released as a movie in theaters on June 6th, this year. From the looks of early reviews, it will be just as popular as The Hunger Games and Divergent. The only difference is that it’s not a series. So when approaching this story, it should be more manageable to read, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spend relaxing with it.  Beware, though, this book is known as a tearjerker, so make sure you have tissues close at hand.

For something less gloomy, Confessions of a Shopaholic is a fun option. It’s an exciting story about a Manhattan shopaholic who finds love while spending huge amounts of money that she doesn’t have. Doesn’t it sound like a fabulous beach read! Get started reading one of these great books, today.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
Tags: books, entertainment

If you’ve been out of the car-buying market for a few years and are planning on purchasing a new vehicle soon, you’ll likely be surprised at the variety of features available today. Many features that were once considered a luxury upgrade now come standard. From heated seats to rearview camera displays, even the most basic vehicles offer buyers the comforts of a more upscale ride. Smartphone integration is one such feature that’s being included in more and more redesigns, in all classes of manufacturers from Ford to BMW. As smartphone interactivity becomes a nearly standard feature, car buyers may question if they need to be so connected while on the go. If you’re about to start looking for a new vehicle, you’ll want to consider these pros and cons of purchasing a car with a smartphone-friendly system.


Safety – If you’re going to be using a smartphone while driving, there’s no question that doing so with hands-free technology is the safest way to do it. Voice control services such as finding a contact, dialing, and adjusting the volume all make it easy to place a call without taking your hands off the wheel. This also means drivers don’t have to pull over to the side of a road or fumble around in their purse or pockets, potentially causing a dangerous situation, in order to use their phone.

Convenience – An integrated technology platform allows users to have uninterrupted conversations as they get into and out of their vehicle. For example, the BMW system automatically switches to speaker mode as soon as the phone is in its cradle, then switches back to handheld mode when it is removed. The driver can have seamless transitions without the person on the other end of the line even realizing it.


Cost – Smartphone-friendly systems often come with a hefty price tag. Buyers who aren’t interested in the technology may end up paying for a feature they don’t plan on using or don’t really need.

Over-connectivity – As cell phone ownership skyrockets, many are concerned about addiction to the devices. Honestly, most people just don’t need to be plugged in around the clock. Time on the road is best spent focused on driving, so it’s important to think about whether or not this feature is a necessity, or if you’d be better off using your phone when you’re not behind the wheel.

Categories: AutomotiveTechnology & Computers

Tags: automotive, cars, smartphone, technology

The 2014 NBA Play-offs are in full motion, and the top eight Eastern Division and top eight Western Division have been narrowed down. Here are four things to know about what’s happening now in the the National Basketball Association’s postseason:

1) Two of the teams competing in the Conference Finals have just been announced.

The finals are upon us, and two of the teams that played in 2013 will be back at it this year. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will face off, bringing back memories for many fans.

2) The Heat barely made it to the Conference Finals.

In their game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Heat won by a mere two points. They trailed by eight points near the end of the game and saved it just in the nick of time. The Spurs, on the other hand, beat the San Antonio Blazers by a substantial margin, and their score came in at 102 to 84. There’s no telling if this is foreshadowing for both teams’ performances during the Conference Finals.

3) The format of the finals has changed.

For the first time in 30 years, the finals will be placed in a 2-2-1-1-1 format. Owners voted and approved the format change. The higher seed team will host the first two games, then the other team will host the following two. The final three games will rotate between hosts.

4) Critics are expecting more from the Heat.

Experts say the Heat aren’t performing at their best so far during the postseason tournament. After a narrow win over the Brooklyn Nets, many people are questioning if fans will get to see the Heat going full-force during the finals.


resources: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/5/15/5719116/nba-playoff-scores-results-highlights-heat-spurs

Categories: Sports

Now that spring is upon us, it’s time to shake off the winter blues and start fresh with a clean home. Organizing closets and cleaning dirt and grime can breathe new life into your house, while some simple changes in décor can change the mood of the entire space.

1. Cushions, Throws, and Covers

There’s no simpler way to create a new look in your home than to add some fresh prints and accent items. There’s no need to replace existing furniture, simply add a pop of color with a fun upholstery cover. Bold prints on throw pillows or accent rugs can also bring an interesting edge to the room.

2. Organize Your Closet

Purging your wardrobe is a great way to create space and usher in the new season. Getting rid of clothes can be tough, but there are some factors to help you decide what goes and what stays:

If it has any ink stains, dye stains, rips, tears, or a weird smell

It hasn’t fit in over a year

If an item never really fit in the first place, you need to let it go.

Clothes often have an emotional pull, but hanging on to a pair of jeans in the hopes you’ll lose those extra pounds only takes up space and picks at your body image.

3. Reorganize Bookshelves

If you keep your library on display, keep your books looking their best by removing any ripped or damaged book sleeves. Instead of lining them all in a row, line some horizontally, vertically, and in a rhythmic pattern. This will create a more aesthetic look for the eye by breaking up the monotony of rows.

Summer 2014 is shaping up to be the season of sequels and remakes, welcoming additions to many popular franchises, as well as some fresh takes on classic films. Take a look at some of the most anticipated films your family has to look forward to:

1. May 16 – Godzilla

Joining the ranks of Godzilla remakes, Gareth Edwards’ upcoming film looks like the most visually impressive version yet. We’ll see Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson leading an ensemble cast, and while the “M” word has not yet been mentioned, Godzilla will be facing a giant winged creature we can only assume is Mothra.

2. May 23 – X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past steps back into the timeline set by the 2006 film, X-Men: The Last Stand. After lines are drawn by the two sets of mutant forces led by Dr. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), the world stands in jeopardy of being torn apart by the ensuing war between the powerful factions. According to writer-producer Simon Kinberg, the film will deviate from the comic’s original source material, sending only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to try to prevent the rift between Xavier and Magneto from ever occurring.

3. May 30 – Maleficent

A fresh take on the beloved fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie, tells the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain in the classic 1959 film. The movie takes a look at the events that hardened the evil fairy’s heart, leading her to curse baby Princess Aurora. Filled with action, adventure, and gorgeous costumes, this film looks perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

4. June 27 – Transformers: Age of Extinction

Although it’s the fourth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction is more of a reboot than a sequel, according to director Michael Bay. Shia LaBeouf is out, allowing Mark Wahlberg to take the helm as the film’s human lead. Completely breaking off from the previous series, Age of Extinction will be the beginning of a separate trilogy of its own, says Bay. Audiences will be introduced to a host of new characters as well, including transformer bounty hunters, and most excitingly, fire-breathing Dinobots.

Mother’s Day is less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about ways to show the moms in your life how much you care. Whether you need the perfect gift for your mom, wife, or mother-in-law, here are some tips to make their day extra special.

1. Do Her Chores

Nothing says “I Love You” more than a little extra help around the house. Between work, kids, and getting dinner on the table, housework is the last thing any woman wants to worry about. Doing the dishes doesn’t cost a thing, but it’s a simple gesture that is worth its weight in gold.

2. Spa Day At Home

While a day of pampering at the spa is a fantastic treat, splurge on some high quality bath and beauty products that she can use well into the future. Put together a gift basket of her favorite lotions, scrubs, bath bombs, soaps, and scented candles so she can find her happy place any day of the year.

3. Special Delivery

If you’re struggling for gift ideas, sign her up for a wine, cheese, or fruit-of-the-month club. Not only will she be reminded of you each time her package arrives, a grocery-inspired gift will save her loads of time and money throughout the year.

4. Her Favorite Perfume or Nail Color

If she won’t splurge on herself, surprise her with a bottle of her favorite perfume, or a set of designer nail polish colors. Take a trip to a boutique or browse online for exotic brands. If you’re not sure what she likes, invest in a set of luxury makeup brushes, a gift any woman is sure to appreciate.

Mother’s Day is less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about ways to show the moms in your life how much you care. Whether you need the perfect gift for your mom, wife, or mother-in-law, here are some tips to make their day extra special.

As a kid, I always wondered why the adults never seemed to be having a “relaxing” time during family vacations. Family trips can certainly be stressful, and while there are many lists available for what to pack and how to get there, many parents are left to fend for themselves once they arrive. Thankfully, a few simple tips can help save any family vacation.

If you have a new baby, getting them to sleep in a strange environment can be tricky. If you are planning to keep the little one in a playpen or travel bed at night, set up a makeshift camp in a different room at your house ahead of time. Getting them used to sleeping in the portable bed at home will alleviate a great deal of the stress that comes with adding too many new things to the schedule at once.

Unpack As Soon As Possible
Once you get to the hotel room or guest house, unpack your baby’s things right away. Setting up feeding stations, beds, and changing areas before they’re needed can avoid a multitude of crisis situations down the line.

Stay Organized
Designating play spaces and sleep areas, and keeping them relatively maintained will help calm everyone’s nerves. Settling in and have an organized space can help your little one relax and you stay sane throughout your stay.

Many babies will refuse to nap in a strange environment or unfamiliar bed. That’s where strollers come in handy. Make sure to bring a stroller or baby carrier, and plan events around long walks so your little one can nap.

No matter how much you might want to throw in the towel and give up after a sleepless night with an inconsolable baby, persevere. Many babies have a difficult time adjusting to their new surroundings at once, but after a few days they almost always settle in. Power through the rough starts, and be rewarded with a fun and rewarding vacation for all.

If you’re like millions of people across the country, you have a problem, and that problem involves being addicted to social media. Sure, social media can be fun, but when you can’t go half an hour without checking your smartphone, you know it’s starting to interfere with your life. A new app, FBRehab, is designed to help people face the issue.

The idea behind FBRehab is simple. After downloading the app, which costs $0.99, it becomes your portal to Facebook. You simply log in to your account and the app launches a timer. You’ll get 10 minutes for a status update, to check your news feed, or to check in with friends. Your session automatically ends after 10 minutes, keeping you from inadvertently spending an hour online when you had intended to spend only a few minutes there. You get two 10-minute sessions per day, so you’ll feel connected to your network while not being sucked into the online community too deeply.

The creator of FBRehab claims the idea came to him while he was on vacation. He was lounging poolside in a gorgeous tropical place with his friends when he looked around at the crowd of vacationers around him. Everyone had a smart phone in their hand. In that moment, it was painfully obvious to him–everyone was so busy talking about their vacation on social media that they weren’t taking the time to actually have a vacation. No one was in the pool swimming or visiting the swim-up bar; instead, they were taking selfies and posting to their accounts. FBRehab was born shortly thereafter.

FBRehab is a great tool for people who have good intentions about their time on social media. You know, those of us who say we’re hopping on for a quick check-in, only to end up spending hours there–missing sleep, arriving late to work, or irritating our friends because we’re glued to our phones. If that sounds like you, definitely check out the FBRehab app.

The number of people taking an interest in fitness is rising, as alarmingly high obesity rates and the related health risks continue to be front page news. A few years ago, trying to be healthy for many people meant hopping on a treadmill or an elliptical machine a few days a week. Others find they’re most motivated in group activities, such as Zumba or spinning classes. In 2014, a new emphasis on training smarter, not longer, has gym goers of all ages and capabilities thinking a bit differently. That’s where the intense workout enters the scene.

The intense workout is all about fitting in a stronger, smarter workout into a short amount of time. In 30 minutes, these express workouts will have you breathing heavy and sweating–and probably more than a little sore, too. Unlike a leisurely stroll on the treadmill, you’ll know you had a good workout after an intense workout session.

There are many kinds of intense workouts available. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), such as CrossFit, is really taking off at a national level and is offered at studios dedicated exclusively to this style of results-focused, very intense training. DVD-based programs, like Focus T-25, make it possible to fit in an extreme workout at home. Major gym chains are beginning to offer live streaming at home as well.

Fans of the intense workout approach love the results they get. Not only do they cut workout time in half in many cases, but they also do more for their body in 20 minutes than those people who spend an hour on traditional gym equipment. They sculpt and tone their body, as opposed to just exercising for fat loss. It’s a winning combination of benefits that has many people rethinking their approach to exercise.

If you’re a college basketball fan with tickets to the Final Four, you’re getting ready for an action packed trip to Dallas. But don’t limit yourself to basketball–check out some of the area’s highlights to turn your weekend trip into a real getaway. Whether you’re headed there with your family or with your buddies, there’s plenty to do in Dallas. Here are just three of the attractions you’ll want to discover for yourself:

Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park

Adrenaline junkie will want to pay a visit to this unique amusement park. The five rides include the Skycoaster, the Skyscraper, Texas Blastoff, Nothin’ But Net, and the Bungee Jump. If you’re traveling with teenagers, they will love this unique place that’s unlike any traditional amusement park they’ve ever visited.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Enjoy an evening of action entirely different from the one you’ll see on the basketball court at this legendary show that’s been going strong for years in numerous cities around the country. The four-course meal is to be eaten with your fingers–a treat for kids and adults who enjoy getting a little messy. Audience participation is encouraged as the horses and knights put on a memorable performance of jousting, sword fighting, and more.

Dallas Zoo

This sizable zoo boasts more than 100 acres of land, though visitors can easily navigate the main areas for themselves. The award-winning Giants of the Savanna exhibit opened in 2010 and is home to elephants, ostrich, giraffes, zebras, and other animals. The Wilds of Africa exhibit has gorillas, chimpanzees, and okapi, and guests can even take a 20-minute safari ride on the property as well. The highlight for many visitors is hand-feeding the giraffes.