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Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death Dual Edition (The Twilight Saga Book 1)
Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death Dual Edition (The Twilight Saga Book 1)
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $10.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Made me want to reread Twilight, but not in the way you think., October 13, 2015
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I never thought something would actually make me want to go back and re-read the Twilight series, but Life and Death accomplished it.

Everything about Bella that made her relatable when I was 17 and annoying when I was 22--her insecurity, her malleability, her tendency to blame herself for everything, her self-deprecating attitude, her general lack of a strong identity whatsoever--were things that I, and many other readers, liked and then hated because we experienced those things first-hand. I related at 17 because I was awkward, insecure, felt out of place, and tended to define myself by how others saw me. I was annoyed at 22 because I had grown past that, and couldn't believe I was ever such a sad pushover. And so it is with many a current, or former, Twihard.

But Beau? There is nothing relatable about him. His internal monologue is crude and uninteresting, and in some ways he's creepier than his stalker/girlfriend, Edythe. His one redeeming quality is his awareness of how messed up his life with his mom was...even if he isn't quite mature enough to fully articulate it. But even that, while interesting and thought-provoking, isn't enough to make up for the rest of his cringe-worthy dialogue, both internal and external.

I'll say this for the original Twilight, I was riveted from start to finish the first time I read it, even during the chapters spent almost entirely in Bella's emo headspace. She's not a person I would ever wish to be, or wish on anyone I know...but she was a character that parts of me, parts of my history, could relate to. Vampire/Werewolf elements aside, the choices she had to make were choices most American teenage girls have to make at some point--who to be, who to love, who they love more, whether to sacrifice who they are for something they want, when to stick to their guns...sadly, even whether to get married or have that unexpected baby. I didn't agree with all her choices--but at least she had them, and she made them herself even when everyone around her was trying to pull her in the direction THEY thought she should go.

Beau is bland by comparison. Facile to the point of being vapid, at times, despite the insinuation that he was in AP classes and a good student. Never having been a teenage boy, I can't be sure...but I somehow think this stinted, emotionally constipated, severely dumbed-down version of Bella speaks more to an adult, traditional-minded woman's external view of teenage boys than their own internal worlds. At least, I hope so.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2015 4:09 PM PDT


The Five Love Languages in 30 Minutes - The Expert Guide to Gary D Chapman's Critically Acclaimed Bestseller (The 30 Minute Expert Series)
The Five Love Languages in 30 Minutes - The Expert Guide to Gary D Chapman's Critically Acclaimed Bestseller (The 30 Minute Expert Series)

5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, July 15, 2013
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When I was a teenager my grandmother would quote from "The 5 Love Languages" almost incessantly. She urged me to read it several times, and even bought me a version of it for young adults at one point. I was always skeptical of and bored by self-help books, and refused.

Now, as a 24-year-old trying to navigate through adult relationships, I find myself intrigued by the concepts that she found so eye-opening. As a test run I decided to try this short guide. It's incredibly detailed! It includes descriptions of the love languages themselves--which I remember well from the many times my grandmother tried to get me to take a quiz to discover mine--as well as short descriptions of what is covered in each chapter.

There are illustrative examples from real couples' experiences, and sections on applying the concepts to real life. And while I do remain skeptical that something so simplistic could really breathe life back into a dead relationship, I have to admit that a lot of the concepts presented make sense. I might just read the full book now that I have some idea of what it's all about!


The Tapping Solution in 30 Minutes - The Expert Guide to Nick Ortner's Critically Acclaimed Book (The 30 Minute Expert Series)
The Tapping Solution in 30 Minutes - The Expert Guide to Nick Ortner's Critically Acclaimed Book (The 30 Minute Expert Series)

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Responsible, Concise. I am impressed!, July 3, 2013
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"The Tapping Solution...in 30 Minutes" provides a compact and yet comprehensive overview of the theory, practice, and benefits of the self-help practice known as tapping.

While I am skeptical of any self-help technique that claims to offer total freedom from or reversal of serious physical and mental ailments, I do have to acknowledge that a practice which helps maintain an overall more balanced emotional state is likely to be of great help to people already dealing with a serious illness. However, it's also important to acknowledge that anyone whose health is already in a precarious state should be careful of revolutionary remedies that make large promises.

With that in mind, I feel no hesitation in recommending this overview for anyone who wishes to learn a bit about tapping. I was pleasantly surprised to find both positive and negative reviews of tapping included, highlighting the benefits of those who have seen improvement while also acknowledging the drawbacks and even addressing the possible dangers. The 30 Minutes series' strength has always been the way it breaks down complex ideas and concepts and manages to relay the most important information quickly and coherently, but the responsible approach in this particular installment really impressed me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2013 8:55 PM PDT


The Bully Book
The Bully Book

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A children's book with all the maturity of a children's classic., February 13, 2013
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This review is from: The Bully Book (Kindle Edition)
"The Bully Book" was a difficult read, not in the sense of the level of writing (which was good writing but clearly written at a young person's reading level) so much as in the sense that I very strongly identified with the feelings of the main character. Growing up I often felt as if there must be some secret conspiracy, uniting all my peers in hating me, vehemently and openly. The mystery of the Bully Book is enthralling, and the characterization of the adults as either unwilling to help or actively deterring the quest felt real, genuine, like something I would have felt at that age. I read this book in one sitting and had to sit back and just sit for a moment when I was done, to think about the secret revealed at the end and how it made me feel...and whether I agreed with it.

Over a year later, it still has me thinking.


Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures)
Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures)
by Kami Garcia
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.74
316 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Darker (and better) than Twilight, February 13, 2013
It was difficult to keep from drawing parallels between "Beautiful Creatures" and "Twilight." Two young people are head-over-heels in love with each other, but they come from different worlds. Forces in those worlds, everything from disapproving parents and friends to century-old curses, seem determined to keep them apart. And as if those weren't enough they are doomed to abstinence-only activities, possibly forever, unless one of them is willing to risk killing the other by accident.

"Beautiful Darkness" includes yet another parallel: like Edward Cullen in "New Moon," Lena attempts to distance herself from Ethan because she believes that their relationship is holding him back from having a normal, happy life. The difference is that in the case of Lena and Ethan, the calamities she imagines felt all-too-real to me as I was reading. Garcia and Stohl create a much darker atmosphere in the follow-up than in the original. Instead of the defiant optimism of young love that characterized the first book, I was plunged almost immediately into the bleak and ominous aftermath of Macon Ravenwood's death. Even when the optimism does eventually return, it's clearly a decision on the part of the characters, to ignore the problems they will have to face later in favor of celebrating having survived thus far. The dynamic of Lena and Ethan's relationship is drastically altered and new characters are introduced, swiftly turning "Beautiful Darkness" into a completely different animal than "Beautiful Creatures."

I enjoyed this book immensely. I found myself stealing moments to read whenever I could, even if I could only get through a page or two at a time on a busy day. I felt like I was on the journey with Ethan, stumbling through unfamiliar territory to find Lena before it was too late.

Although I still enjoy Ethan's perspective, one of the things I enjoyed was getting to see more of some of the secondary characters. Link and Ridley, in particular, are two of my favorite characters in the book. Possibly because they are not seen through the rose-colored glasses of young love, or else because they are physically more present throughout the story, they seem more real, more flawed and complete and interesting. Lena, on the other hand, is a constant thought but an almost non-existent presence, and I missed her much more than I missed Edward Cullen in "New Moon."

The dangers of the Caster world, which existed as a peripheral antagonist compared to the animosity of the citizens of Gatlin throughout most of the first book, comes forward immediately in this installment. I learned more about the Caster world and its (somewhat surprising) connections to the people in Ethan's life, and also found myself with about a thousand questions, in a good way. Despite this shift, the story stays firmly rooted in its Southern setting and characters, and that remains one of my favorite aspects of the series.

From one lover of supernatural romance to all the others: so far this series is shaping up to be everything Twilight, with its premise and its stark, arresting cover designs, promised to be and failed to deliver on. Moving forward, I can't imagine that this ending will be anything more toothsome than bittersweet, but at least I know that if the characters ARE all given happy endings, the writers will truly have earned them in the process.


Fifty Shades of Passion: An Erotic Guide to Exploring Fifty Shades With Your Lover
Fifty Shades of Passion: An Erotic Guide to Exploring Fifty Shades With Your Lover
Price: $3.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A solid introduction to kink, February 13, 2013
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One of my major problems with the Fifty Shades series is the fear that people who read it will attempt to "try this at home" without having the proper knowledge and mindset to keep themselves and their partners safe. I can only hope that fans of the series who are interested in exploring kink will find their way to Fifty Shades of Passion. While it isn't the only research they should do by far, it does give a fairly good overview of the terms, tools, rules, and dynamics of BDSM relationships.

My only real criticism of the book is the way it is almost exclusively geared toward heterosexual women. Although that does seem to be the main demographic of the Fifty Shades series, surely it wouldn't hurt to step outside that heteronormative box, considering we've already left vanilla far behind before getting halfway through the introduction.

That being said, Fifty Shades of Passion does a commendable job of covering the basics. There are chapters on most of the common categories of kink, from milder forms such as dirty talk and costumes, all the way down to bondage, humiliation, role play, and spanking. Commonly used toys for each category are included, as are safety precautions. There are even chapters full of tips on being a good dom/domme or sub! Each chapter also includes a porny little interlude, just to give the reader an example of what engaging in that particular kink might be like. Again, these are all written from the perspective of a straight, heterosexual (and apparently cisgendered) woman...but if that's you, reading the section might give you some idea of whether or not you'd be interested in further pursuing that particular kink.

The best part--especially for a book about sexual exploration--is that Fifty Shades of Passion encourages readers not to stop with its back cover. There are websites and print resources listed in the back--along with a handy glossary of common kink-related terms--to assist those who really want to get serious in learning more about pursuing safe, sane, and consensual kinky sex.


Paleo Bread: Gluten-Free Bread Recipes for a Paleo Diet
Paleo Bread: Gluten-Free Bread Recipes for a Paleo Diet

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you all the information you need., February 8, 2013
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I have been debating whether to follow a diet like this for a very long time, but I just couldn't get around the idea of no more bread, ever. I love bread. So I was happy to read that I might be able to have my gluten-free cake and actually want to eat it, too!

"Paleo Bread" rises above most of the books I've read on diet and nutrition because it gave me more than just a long list of dos and don'ts. It explains the history, research, and benefits of a paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet.

I already knew that a diet full of processed foods and wheat gluten can contribute to diabetes, but I had no idea it could contribute to or exacerbate the inflammation associated with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. As someone with both RA sufferers and diabetics in my family history, I am always on the lookout for ways to reduce my risk of both diseases. "Paleo Bread" offers not only a solution in theory, but practical steps and advice for implementing that theory and using it to improve my life immediately, because alongside all of that history and science, there are buying guides and even recipes for gluten-free, paleo-friendly breads. That's my favorite thing about it! Sunday is grocery day and I can honestly say that after reading "Paleo Bread" I feel ready to jump into eating like a caveman with both feet and never look back.

A final word about the recipes (because I am seriously excited about those recipes): if anyone else is, like me, skeptical of their own ability to make bread successfully, you should know that these recipes are as straightforward as the rest of the book. Chatham lays it all out in easy steps that make the task of bread-making seem less daunting. I'm not saying it won't still take me some work to do it, I'm just saying that these are the first bread-making instructions that made me feel less overwhelmed after reading them instead of more. We're expecting a lot of snow this weekend and I already know what I'll be doing with all that free time: propping my e-reader up on the kitchen counter so I can make some paleo bread!


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but still a great read, January 26, 2013
My best friend gave me this book last night and promised me I would love it. I'll admit, I was dubious; since Twilight happened I have been increasingly annoyed by the proliferation of supernatural romance in YA fiction. However, I decided to try it out anyway, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's still very much a young adult novel, but instead of reading like it was written by a fifteen-year-old, it actually manages to portray teenagers in a way that feels genuine. The observations of the narrator are incredibly astute at times, without ever seeming too far-fetched to be believable for an adolescent boy.

One of the things that struck me most about this book was how rooted in the Southern setting it was. As a displaced Southerner myself (born and raised in Georgia, currently living in Boston), I found the descriptions of places, people, and small-town Southern life achingly accurate. The turns of phrase, the odd mix of religion and superstition, the preoccupation with family history and the Civil War, and even the food...reading this actually made me homesick.

Unlike many other books of this genre, the romance never takes over the story to the point that it drowned out the bigger mysteries being dealt with. Although I did enjoy the romance--and found it much less sugary-sweet and cheesy than many others I've read--I was much more anxious to find out about Lena's family and her powers. I was not disappointed. Ethan's perspective is unexpectedly dark and heavy, focusing much more on the impending obstacles Lena and Ethan face than on things like butterflies in the stomach. While the romance is ever-present in the background, it remains there while the story is allowed to flow over it.

One of the criticisms I've read accused Ethan's voice of being too feminine. I have to wonder about the reasons for this, seeing as one of the biggest aspects of Ethan's character was that he didn't find much in common with other guys his age. The only time I thought this criticism held weight was in the detailed descriptions of clothing throughout the story. While I don't think fashion is by an means an exclusively feminine interest, I also found it slightly disingenuous to Ethan's character (who seemed to care more about thoughts and ideas than about appearances otherwise), and it pulled me out of the narrative every time.

The only other cause for major incredulity was the behavior of the townspeople towards Lena and her family. Although I am, unfortunately, intimately familiar with the small town Southern prejudice against outsiders and those who are different, I found the level and escalation of the malice both disconcerting and somewhat beyond the realm of belief (yes, I have trouble with that, but no trouble with the Caster aspects, I like believability in the real-world elements of even the most supernatural of stories, so sue me).

Other than those little hiccups, though, it was an enthralling read from start to finish. Is this the next great American novel? Well, no. But at the end of the day, I went in reluctant to read it and came out a day later, chomping at the bit for the bookstore to open so I can buy the second installment.


Wheat Belly by William Davis (30 Minute Health Summary)
Wheat Belly by William Davis (30 Minute Health Summary)

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Astonishing, October 31, 2012
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This summary of Dr. William Davis's "Wheat Belly" will take what you thought you knew about whole grains and turn it on its head. I have always subscribed to a diet high in whole grains myself--after all, it's the largest section of the food pyramid! After reading this book, however, I am seriously considering knocking wheat products off my grocery list for good.

Wheat Belly...in 30 Minutes explains how the breaking down of wheat in the body releases large amounts of glucose and other chemicals that contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. The book also speculates very convincingly about the negative impact of wheat-heavy diets on schizophrenics, autistic, and those with ADHD. I was astonished to read that wheat can produce the same cravings and behaviors in a person as those of someone suffering from a drug addiction.

This book takes a solid ton of scientific information on the negative health effects of wheat and condenses it into a straightforward, easy-to-understand, quick read that gives you all of the information without requiring that you get a degree in biology to understand it first. It would make a good primer or study guide for a student, but it also works great as a standalone read for a casual learner who wants to know more simply for their own edification.


Fangs and Stilettos
Fangs and Stilettos
by Anthony DiFiore
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: $14.95
14 used & new from $1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Engrossing, October 18, 2012
As the children of one of the world's foremost fashion designers, Marciano and Natasha have never had what most people would call normal lives. Things reach a whole new level of crazy, however, when the twins fly to New York for fashion week and find themselves caught up in an age-old struggle between supernatural forces. As possibly the last remaining members of a race of powerful supernatural beings, Natasha and Marciano must somehow stop a plot by fashion mogul and sorceress Candice Brown to reveal the supernatural world to regular humans. It's no easy feat, especially considering they have no idea how to use their powers or who they can really trust.

Fangs and Stilettos' unusual premise brings supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and sorcerers into one of the few realms they had yet to conquer with fanfare and style. The result is a surprisingly action-packed and engrossing story filled with colorful characters...and I mean that literally.

This book will be delightful for anyone who harbors an interest in designer fashions, but still accessible to those who aren't interested in that world. Throughout the action, intrigue, and budding forbidden romance that never pause for a second, the author manages to weave a wealth of description and detail that grounds the story firmly in its setting. Somehow, between running for their lives and going toe-to-toe with all manner of powerful paranormal creatures, the protagonists still have time to notice what everyone is wearing and reflect on the different philosophies of fashion without bogging down the narrative with these observations.

If there is one weak point, it's in the development of its characters. Although the hyperbolic naiveté of the largely image-obsessed ensemble is balanced out by a few more down-to-earth inclusions, the author repeatedly shies away from potentially meaningful moments to the point that it becomes difficult to sympathize too deeply with anyone, no matter what side of the plot they're on. That being said, a few characters just shine. Marciano, with his groan-worthy wordplay and untamable enthusiasm (for shoes and in general), is impossible not to love. Likewise Natasha, whose emotions are more accessible to the reader than is the case with most of the other characters, is easy to root for. And Candice Brown is the best tracksuit-wearing villain I've seen since one Sue Sylvester first graced televisions in 2009.

Overall, Fangs and Stilettos is a fun ride, as entertaining as a summer blockbuster. Not being into designer fashions, I was skeptical at first, but by the end of the book I was left saying, "Wait, is that it? No! I want more!"


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