Friday, May 17, 2013
There were quite a few goodies in it as can be seen in the video and this voxbox I found quite special as I really ENJOYED most of them! The Dickinson's Witch Hazel facial towelettes are a joy and I now make sure I always have a box of them in the house and one or two in my purse. They're all natural and gentle, and as my skin is super sensitive (I really need to live in a porcelain bubble guys !!!!) the fact that I did not once break out in an irritation or rash says A TON. I heartily recommend them. :)
The Belvita Breakfast Biscuits were yummy and I ate them almost immediately out of the box. They have a snappy texture similar to a ginger snap and they actually did satisfy my hunger at that point and stayed me over for a bit. They are definitely a good snack to have on hand to stave off hunger and get some lasting energy. They are not gluten free unfortunately so I hope to see them come out with a gluten free variety soon.
The Nectresse sweetener isn't bad. I'm not entirely sure how "natural" it is but it didn't give me crippling migraines like some artificial sweeteners do so that's a plus. I quite like it sprinkled on my porridge in the morning.
As for the Colgate Optic White program. The toothbrush and mouthwash are my favorites of it. The mouthwash doesn't sting and the toothbrush really does leave me feeling squeaky clean. The toothpaste, however, is a bit abrasive on my sensitive mouth so I ended up switching back to my normal toothpaste brand.
The Vaseline Spray and Go moisturizer was a disaster for me. I'm sure it's quite nice for others, and indeed it did absorb, dry, and moisturize in a flash just as promised, BUT it did give me rashes and irritate my senses. So it's not a product for me.
All in all, I was quite happy with this voxbox and even found some products I would like to continue using! :)
I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
"Chaos: The Disintegrating Bloodline" picks up weeks after the previous novel, and finds A.J. knee deep in blood, a youth fighting a brutal firefight in a cornfield alongside his mentor, Chris Mangini. The violence is yet again unromantic and rather rabid in its ferocity. The action scenes are nicely written at a heart stopping pace and with no mercy spared for the weak.
We are introduced to a deeper view of Chris Mangini's world as he begins to suspect that someone within his crew of "soldiers" is a traitor, and he wonders at a possible blood connection to the young A.J. I found myself a little impatient to get back to A.J's storyline as I'd become so involved with his story in the previous novel.
When the novel does take us back into A.J.'s world it takes off beautifully. Now that A.J.'s status as heir apparent to Chris's empire is secure, and his loyalties to his mentor set, the story takes us a step further into his initiation to manhood. Nothing is easier for him. Questions about his true bloodline, his future with Chris, and his relationship to his first love, arise. Personal tragedy befalls him from two sides, and he is left shaking and seemingly alone to play the most deadly game of hide-and-seek ever against a would be usurper to Chris Mangini's throne.
This novel for me got better and better as it hurtles to a very disturbing, and shocking finale when a high-school becomes a slaughterhouse rather than a place of learning.
I quite enjoyed this read and find myself increasingly absorbed with these characters and the world presented in these novels. The story feels very cinematic in scope, and I think a very satisfying read for anyone who enjoys a good action tale with elements of operatic tragedy.
I give four of five stars to this entertaining read.
This book is available on kindle for 2.99: Chaos: The Disintegrating Bloodline
Monday, December 17, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In a slim collection of short stories, the trials and triumphs of life as a South Indian immigrant in the United States are told. A young girl, American educated and Indian born, the only daughter in a family of boys, learns exactly how precious she is to her parents. A young English schooled Indian man learns the stark realities of racism in a Texas bar. A young woman feels so racially intimidated that even warming up her curry in the workplace microwave becomes a daily fear for her. A new bride struggles with the stigma of being childless and the temptation of forbidden American men.
Each story carries its own distinct flavor and protagonist, weaving its prose into your heart without using extreme shock tactics or exploiting easy avenues like shaming white Americans or spitting upon life within a conservative Indian family. Yes racism happens in some of the stories, to varying degrees, sometimes violent but mostly of the cold condescending sort that is quite familiar to anyone of color who has had to endure it in school or at work. (It's a sort of racism that the perpetrators often do not realize they're inflicting, one I am quite familiar with experiencing and actually am quite delighted to see so accurately portrayed in some of these stories.) Yes, also, there are stories portraying an Indian protagonist feeling a level of embarrassment at their own culture, yearning for their families to "be more American" so they would fit in better with their peers, but there is no hint of whining self pity about it. It's part of what makes each of these stories so very readable and approachable. It's possible to sympathize with these characters without feeling put on the spot, or judgmental of them.
I can't say I felt let down by any of these stories. In fact, these are the sort of stories I would liked to have read as a teenager. I felt a distinct kinship with the protagonists in the stories "Food" and "Down". It about brought tears to my eyes at memories of similar experiences, yet neither story is about an "us against them" pity party with no solution, but instead highlights the strength of finding one's own character within the trial. I do have to say "Dasi" and "Truth" hit me in the gut hardest and are probably the two most emotionally staggering stories of the group.
None of these stories rings "false" or "forced". They are honest and filled with characters you can root for or are at least fascinated with. I would not mind reading these stories over again and I recommend them to anyone who is in the mood for a good intelligent and eye opening read.
View all my reviews
Thursday, October 25, 2012
I am posting this blog meme a wee bit late but better late than never. If you are a writer with a blog please leave me a note and I'll tag you, and link to your blog, then next Wednesday (or any belated day after) answer these questions, blog em, post em, tag away!
The purpose of this meme is to let everyone know a bit about what you got cooking--novel wise. So, here are the beans on the manuscript I have that is the closest to completion. Cheers!
I was tagged by the lovely and talented Rebecca Emin whose blog can be found here.
What is the working title of your book
For right now. "Blood Brilliant" although that is very much a working title.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The main idea came from an image I had in my head of a woman struggling with a man who snaps her neck. It came from a nightmare I suppose, but I began to wonder what circumstances led that woman there and what could I build around it.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult paranormal.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh dear! Let me think. For the lead, Talitha, I would really like an unknown. She's a temperamental tough, Texan who does not fit the stereotypical svelte body of a Hollywood ingenue and I'd hate to see the role go to someone who is just wearing a fat-suit or gaining weight for the role. I'd like her to be played by someone authentic.
Her father, Ethan Curie, however is totally Brenden Gleeson. Nuff said.
For Robert Christobel I'd love to see a young Spanish or Mexican actor.
Danielle Blakely I'd love to see played by Kat Graham.
Lena Mirinova would be brilliant for Olga Kurylenko and Antonius Merryn is perfect for someone like Bill Nighy.
Amy Ryan would be awesome for Annie and Rose Byrne would be a great fit for Miranda.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young girl suffering from a lifetime of loss and self loathing is ripped from her shell as she is forced to fight for the life of her new best friend who has been kidnapped and held hostage by vampires.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am still considering self publishing but the prevalence of good indie press out there has me really loving the idea of submitting to small market publishers. I am not at all concerned with money or instant prestige so much as I just would love to have my story out there.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took about one year to write before edits. I sat on the IDEA for about 11 years, haha, before actually rolling up my sleeves and doing it, however.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I feel it is a lot closer to the young adult books I read growing up, like "The Silver Kiss" and "Blood and Chocolate" by Annette Curtis Klause, and "The View From the Cherry Tree" by Willo Davis Roberts. There is a combination of paranormal and suspense thriller to it that I think matches well with those types of books. It's the element of a young person suffering who is still forced to take matters into their own hands when things go over their head.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I think my inspiration to write it has always been my love of reading, above anything else. I grew up devouring books and I loved being a reader but then I began to feel the urge to create something of my own for someone to read. I remember being frustrated at times however, as books geared towards my age group often were 90 percent love triangle and 10 percent action, and so I began by writing the story I would like to read.
Also, I am a rabid fan of the vampire genre, and the beautiful thing about that genre is that the author has the freedom to create whatever world they please. The trend right now is towards a beautiful, romantic sort of hero, and that's fine. What I wanted to create however, is a vampire who is more an unabashed villain, someone pitiless and cruel. My protagonist is a teenage girl who despite all her emotional ills and traumas has a solid core that she needs to rediscover for herself. The vampires in this case serve as the rat in the grain exposing that core, but they are not the crutch for her to create a new sense of self.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think it will appeal to the reader who is looking for a dark, vampire tale without all the sweetness of romance and longing. If the reader is looking for a lone-wolf style heroine and vampires that stay evil, well then, this book is for them.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An arranged marriage between Qatari cousins may not go on as planned when matters of heartache and rebellion come crashing into their mannered, conservative world. Abdulla--a widower still in mourning, is pressured by his family to marry his cousin, Hind, a young university student who has dreams far beyond what is acceptable for a Qatari woman of her rank and standing. Hind wins a stay to her "execution" by agreeing to marry Abdulla if she can at least finish her education in England. So, to England Hind goes, and in doing so she meets a young American of Indian descent, Sangita--a young women destined to change their lives forever.
The bare bones of this story are simple, and found in many a romance, the arranged marriage, the conflicted feelings, the budding love triangle. With that in mind, an author tackling the subject needs to be mindful to create a lively tale with characters one can root for.
Abdulla, could easily have been written as a villain, or as someone so dishwater dull he just asks to be flung over for another hunk. His story is written with grace, however, and he is portrayed as a decent, tenderhearted man still mourning the tragic death of his wife. Hind comes across initially as a snooty, prickly young princess, which in essence she is, but it is easy to sympathize with her fear of an eternity spent married to and breeding with a man she does not love with no option for a job or life of her own. A cage is still a cage, even if it is a golden one. When she meets Sangita, the two young women from seemingly different backgrounds, soon find the similarities in their conservative upbringing and hit if off quite well. Hind is constantly appalled or bemused by Sangita's brash American ways and Sangita has a curious fascination with Hind's privileged world.
The backdrop of large, controlling, conservative worlds is thoroughly covered here, with an authentic, and refreshingly balanced view of life as a Muslim. Sangita becomes the "cabbage head" as Hind is constantly reminding her that being Muslim does not exactly mean all the stereotypes a typical American would think. Still, the thrill of a young woman tasting freedom from her stifled, controlling family is tempered with the ever present cloud of being caught and destroying family honor. It's a theme that rang very close to me, and I think will resonate with anyone born into a tightly knit household, regardless of their religion. In fact, it goes a long way into showing just how similar the problems are for daughters born into these families.
There is no real condemnation however, of the conservative life. Rules are stretched but not snapped, and it falls upon the characters to find solutions to their own problems and hearts without shattering the walls around them. They become sneaky, resourceful, and discover their hidden strengths and weaknesses. As their lives become ever more entangled, I began to feel real worry for all three of them, as I realized I just wanted everyone to be okay!
All in all, I found this novel to be a satisfying, involving romance. It was not a lightweight tale by any means. Anyone up for a smart, classy read is in for a treat.
View all my reviews
Saturday, October 6, 2012
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Kelly Lowe is a tough as nails, sassy, homicide detective juggling her job and a boyfriend who is more romantically inclined than she is. When young girls start disappearing and showing up brutally tortured and murdered, and the killer begins trading taunting phone calls with her, the story becomes a race against time for Kelly to find him without becoming a victim herself.
There is a lot of action and danger in this novel, all of it packed concisely into scenes that flick one to another with the breeziness of a made for TV crime thriller. Detective Lowe is a textbook composite of personalities suitable for "movie of the week heroine" and she wavers constantly between tough tomboy swagger and cat cuddling vulnerability. It was easy enough to like her, especially in scenes where she stood up to men twice her size, and bantered in a sibling-esque fashion with her seasoned partner. There was a lot of censored restraint exercised in writing her, however, and it showed bluntly in emotionally charged scenes where Lowe is reduced to yelling "Mother-effer" as she punches out in frustration or refers to people simply as "S.O.B's".
The bleeps are of course the writer's choice and violence and language is clearly kept to a PG-13 minimum. It does provide a refuge for a reader wanting a crime thriller without all the gory extras, but at the same time it gave me this feeling that Detective Lowe was merely a sassy teenage girl pretending to be a cop. The sharp edge of danger I wanted to feel just was not present in the book.
The plot is quite complicated and at times confusing, as there is little real face put to the villain or suspects, at least not until around the last third of the novel. There are the taunting phone calls to Detective Lowe and a twist or two but the energy spent on trying to untangle a pile of suspects who had no personality left me rather cold and not on the edge of my seat. That isn't to say the killer had no teeth, however. Innocent girls are murdered and in horrible fashion but the entire feel of it was as if it were "Seven" packaged for the Family Channel.
I can't say I hated this book because I read through it easily and with enough concern for Detective Lowe's fate, but I did not particularly like it either. I think the author does have a good knack for telling a story, but I really would like her to throw a little more snarl into the pot.
View all my reviews
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Anyhow, Mom delivers to me a recipe for flat-bread which was given to her by another friend who got it from someone--prolly off the internet. This is bread she can actually HAVE!!! *le gasp* So I made it today to give it a whirl.
The attraction of this bread is that it's gluten free and GRAIN free and yet still soft enough to have an enjoyable cold sandwich. It's also full-a flavor and good things like that. So here's the recipe and I shall include hastily taken last minute pictures as well.
Simple Flatbread--recipe credited to Kristin Kons
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I used ground almond, worked just fine)
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup (2TBS whole seeds) ground flax or ground chia seeds (I used ground chia seeds which I got at Whole Foods)
1 tsp xylitol or raw honey, or 7 drops liquid stevia <-- I forgot to use any sweetener and the bread came out just fine. :)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (I have a bad feeling I used one whole tsp of both the soda and salt but it seemed to have turned out fine. Just obey the recipe tho)
3 organic eggs
1/3 cup plain organic yogurt--preferrably low or full fat
Any dried herbs mixed with sea salt--Italian season, Frontier adobe seasoning blend, or whatever seasoned salt you like (I used a mix of dried Italian herbs and sea salt)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, tapioca, ground flax or chia, xylitol, baking soda, and salt
3. In a small bowl blend eggs and yogurt.
4. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and use mixer to stir to combine it until it forms a sticky, wet dough. (I actually stirred the herbs into the dough here)
5. Pour batter in a 12x16 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Smooth batter out with a spatula over the entire surface area, so it is thin and even.
6. Sprinkle herbs of choice and sea salt (if you are using a salt free seasoning blend) evenly over the dough.
7. On center rack of oven, bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Don't over bake or it will be too dry.
8. Cool and cut into desired size. I like using a pizza cutter to do this.
Notes: The bread stores best wrapped in parchment paper and sealed in a Ziploc bag. It keeps longer stored in the fridge and can be frozen.