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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, 1)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, 1)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
114 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark but still worth the read, July 24, 2010
I did my best to leave my personal preferences aside in my review. I hope I don't fail too miserably in that task. Now, I don't need a story that's all unicorns and ice cream and rainbows but this was just too dark for my personal taste.

This is a tightly crafted story, well-paced and well-voiced. If it was perfect I would give it 5 stars, but the perfect story doesn't exist and never will so it gets 4 stars.

The story itself is a version of the Quest: Run from bad guys who are chasing you and get to safety, overcoming obstacles along the way. Pretty basic stuff.

I did wonder though, how did Todd NOT see the truth about Prentisstown when he was able to see so much else in the men's Noise? Is the reader to draw the conclusion that it was due to Todd's innocence? Or that it's hard to find the truth among so much information? This wasn't clear to me.

Todd's voice is so real. Ack! What am I writing? Todd is so real: How he changes from seeing Viola as "it" to "the girl" to "her" to "Viola"; how he tries to steel himself to act---haven't we ALL lied to ourself the way Todd lies to himself; his anger at the world and his willingness to do anything to help Viola.

I absolutely ADORED Manchee ("Poo, Todd."). I could just picture him bouncing around, back and forth between Todd and whatever he wanted to show Todd, just so happy to be with Todd.

And the part with the creatures that sang "here" was just beautiful. I desperately wanted Wilf to come by and cart ME through the herd so I could hear them sing.

The dialogue was just right. Not a wasted or incorrect word.

I would encourage others to read this book just for Ness's writing and story crafting. At the very least, read the opening lines. They're good ones.

Word of advice to parents: Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids you might need to pre-read this one. Violent acts don't appear on every page, but they still might be too much for some kids.


Graceling
Graceling
by Kristin Cashore
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.68
253 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing premise, uneven execution, characters could use some work, July 24, 2010
This review is from: Graceling (Paperback)
Premise: 5 stars. A teenage girl who can kill with her bare hands and an uncle who uses her as his enforcer? She MUST have some serious issues.

Plot/Structure: 3 stars. The structure and plot is the Quest tossed with the Hero's Journey, romance, and treachery. Not original. The problem for me was NOT lack of originality (writers continue to recycle these ancient motifs for a reason. Because they speak to the human condition. Aren't we ALL looking for something in some sense?).

For me the problem was the execution: The plot and structure were TOO obvious. The pacing uneven, transition non-existent in places (one moment Po and Katsa are friends, the next they are lovers). I thought Cashore did a decent job with the scene where Katsa and Po have sex for the first time. The prose was sensuous but I didn't think it gratuitious (parents with pre-teens might disagree with me here).

Characterization: 2 stars. I didn't hate Katsa, nor did I find her annoying. I even felt sorry for her. And I DO think she changed in some ways: In the beginning of the story, Katsa shuts out people. But she allows Po into her life, doesn't she? I think that qualifies as change.

In places, I wanted to understand her better. As an example: Katsa's choice to never marry or have children. There is NOTHING wrong with these choices. Plenty of men and women in real life make these same choices. My problem: Cashore never really tied Katsa's choices to anything we learn about Katsa.

Does Katsa not want to marry/have kids because she feels she will lose herself? If so, there is NOTHING wrong with that. Cashore just never made this connection to this or any other reason (Katsa could hate babies and that would satisfy me)

The other characters just weren't fully developed. I don't expect to learn the villain turned evil because Mommy and Daddy wouldn't buy him a pony when he was 5 (unless ponies are central to the story), but I do expect the heroine's romantic interest (and a major character) to be seem like a real person. Po was just TOO perfect.

The writing/dialogue/description: 3 stars. In some places, very pretty to read; in others, difficult to follow. On some pages, Katsa's name seemed to appear a dozen times (I noticed this especially when someone would be speaking to Katsa)--the speaker already had her attention it was unnecessary to use her name again. In some places, the dialogue seemed natural, in others stilted. I also had a hard time "hearing" distinct voices among some characters. As for the Bitterblue issue: Yes, she is 10 years old. But she IS a Princess. She will NOT speak as the average 10 year old will speak (though Cashore could have tied these 2 pieces together).

So averaging these separate scores together results in a solid 3 stars.

Finally the names of people and places. I refuse to critique the names Cashore created for her characters and setting. One, for me it's usually no big deal. Two, creating "fantasy" names is HARD.

I do have a comment or two. First, the name Katsa. Aloud, it sounds like the first 2 syllabes of "Catsup" which caused my mind to add a "p" to the end of the name. Second, yeah, you know what's next: Po. Not the nickname I would have given a Prince (did Cashore explain how Po earned that name? Did I miss it) in any case, but the image that keeps popping up for me is

Po (from the movie Kung Fu Panda) in the voice of Manchee (the dog from the Knife of Never Letting Go) repeating the word "Poo" (as Manchee does)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2012 8:18 PM PDT


Philips Sonicare HX6711/02 HealthyWhite 710 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX6711/02 HealthyWhite 710 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Offered by Zu Store London
Price: $89.90
19 used & new from $79.75

699 of 737 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benefits outweigh the (minor) drawbacks, July 16, 2009
My husband & I have been using the HealthyWhite for a little over a week now and we both agree that it gives our teeth the best brushing we've ever had at home.

Our new dentist and the dental hygienist recommended Sonicare to us both as we both have some gum recession and sensitivity. Rather than just go right out and purchase the first Sonicare we saw on the shelf, we decided to look at the available options.

The other big player in the power toothbrush game is Oral B. There are several others as well, but reviews were difficult to find so the choice eventually came down to Sonicare or Oral B. Also considering that power toothbrushes run on the pricey side (for us anyway), I insisted on doing research.

My research included: Visiting both the Sonicare and Oral B websites and reading about all the different models; reading online reviews, including Amazon reviews, for each of the different models; and a lengthy discussion with our dental hygienist.

The companies' websites were useful for general information. For me, though, the Amazon and other online reviews, were much more helpful in pointing out problems/successes with both Sonicare and Oral B power toothbrushes.

I actually looked at reviews for each Sonicare and Oral B models. After reading the reviews for the lower priced (and apparently older? Sonicare models), like the Essence, I determined that I did NOT want to purchase any of those models. The primary reason: The design of these brushes apparently allows water/toothpaste to seep into part of the brush handle in such a way that mold forms.

With the HealthyWhite and the Flexcare, Sonicare solved this problem, but I was very skeptical about spending nearly $100 (or more!) for a toothbrush.

The Oral B apparently does not suffer from the design flaw of the lower priced Sonicare models and I was actually all set to go ahead with one of the lower priced Oral B models, until I spoke with the dental hygienist.

Following that conversation, I concluded that even if I purchased an Oral B for my own dental needs, we would still need to purchase a Sonicare for my husband, whose needs exceed mine a bit.

For us then it made sense to buy one brush handle and just purchase another brush head.

Although I had read about the difference between sonic dental technology (which Sonicare uses) and oscillating/rotating technology (that Oral B uses), it didn't really make sense to me until my conversation with the hygienist.

The way it was basically explained to me as follows (Sorry if this is a bit graphic):

Sonic technology mixes the toothpaste with your own saliva. The "sonic" part of the technology not only reaches the surface of the teeth but into spaces that no traditional brushing mechanism can reach, even getting in and around the gums.

The Oral B apparently uses the more "traditional" brushing technology and only cleans the area that the bristles of the brush themselves can reach.

This changed my mind, especially in light of my husband's dental needs. At that point, it made more sense to buy one of the newer Sonicare models.

When I first used the Sonicare I expected it to be very loud based on reviews I had read. In my opinion it is quieter than my hairdryer, the noise of which does not bother me. It did take both of us a few days to get used to the feeling of the brush on our teeth.

The Quadpacer technology is helpful, as is the timing mechanism that all Sonicare brushes have, but not really essential in my case: I prefer the longer "Clean and white" cycle and sometimes find that that is not long enough for me.

Some criticize the auto shutoff, but the easy solution to that is just to turn the brush back on. I can always turn it off if I don't want to go through another 2 minutes.

I was a little surprised that the charger is so light and that the brush handle does not fit securely onto the charger: It just rests on the charger and could easily be knocked off. The charger does have room to hold 2 other brushheads.

I have not had any problems with the brushhead popping off the handle when I am brushing my teeth. I do have to be careful about keeping my mouth closed when I am brushing as well as remembering to not start the brush until it's in my mouth.

Overall, though we are very happy with our Sonicare and we really hope it results in better dental appointments. If it does, then it is well worth it despite the higher price tag. My issue with the auto shutoff and the charger do not outweigh the benefits of this brush.

I would recommend this toothbrush, but before doing so I would first recommend talking to your dentist/hygienist and doing your own research. Everyone's dental needs are unique and this brush (or any Sonicare) may not be the right fit for all.

Also, for those of you who do buy a Sonicare, if you register the brush with Sonicare (either online or with the card that comes in the package),the company will send coupons for additional products. I have not yet registered our brush so I don't know how well this works or what kind of coupons Sonicare sends.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2015 2:15 PM PST


No Title Available

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appeals to feline hunting instinct, April 28, 2009
When I purchased this I was specifically shopping for a "dangly toy on stick" that I could drag around for my cat, who loves to "hunt" anything long and stringy. Sometimes after "catching" the toy, he will carry it off in his mouth to his "lair" (inside of a closet). It's hysterical to see him dragging it around like it's real prey.

What I like most about this toy:

1. The "stick" is short relative to the "dangly" part, which means the cat has more to play with. On other "dangly toy on stick" toys, the part available to the cat to actually play with is quite short relative to the stick.

2. The toy appears very well made (in America no less!) and the dangly part seems very securely fastened to the stick. I have heard of other such toys where the cat was able to pull off the toy part from the stick.

3. The dangly part is not just a string/piece of ribbon attached to a stick. The fabric is folded over so it is 2 sided and is tapered to a "point" at the end. The kind and cut of fabric means that when you move it from side to side, the dangly part moves sort of like a snake. A plain old piece of string or ribbon doesn't do that.

As someone else stated this toy does require supervision. The company has indicated as much on the tag that comes attached to the toy, clearly stating that cats should NOT be allowed to chew on it. In fact, no cat should ever, ever be left alone with any kind of string-shaped toy.
We always put this toy away in a place well out of my cat's reach when he has finished playing with it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2015 8:21 AM PST


Pawbreakers! All-Natural Catnip Treat! (0.5-oz catnip ball, 1.25'' diameter - 3-pack)
Pawbreakers! All-Natural Catnip Treat! (0.5-oz catnip ball, 1.25'' diameter - 3-pack)

5.0 out of 5 stars Best. Toy. Ever., April 28, 2009
So the title of my review pretty much gives away my opinion of it.

I gave this 5 stars on 2 levels:

1. I think the concept is brilliant (5 stars on that basis)

2. My cat, 14 years old, has NEVER responded to any toy the way he responds to his Pawbreaker. He has, in fact, never responded to loose catnip this way. He acts like a kitten again, rubs his face all over it, holds it in his 2 front paws, kicks it with his back paws, and gnaws on it. So 5 stars for that.

For those considering buying this, make sure your cat responds to catnip (something like 10-15% of cats don't). It's no guarantee that your cat will respond to Pawbreakers, but the probability is high.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2009 11:20 AM PDT


Crunch - Super SlimDown: Pilates Yoga Blend
Crunch - Super SlimDown: Pilates Yoga Blend
DVD ~ Ellen Barrett
27 used & new from $13.59

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Best for absolute novices or those take it easy days, April 15, 2009
I actually expected something different from this workout and found it not to be challenging enough for me. Others have written detailed reviews about the contents of the workout so I will not repeat that here.

But the lack of challenge it presented for me personally, is not the fault of Crunch or the instructor. It is a fairly decent workout, so I still gave it 3 stars.


Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred
Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred
DVD ~ Jillian Michaels
Offered by kylakins
Price: $8.95
177 used & new from $0.93

57 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good workout, but use caution, April 15, 2009
The 30 Day Shred is basically 3-20 minute progressively more difficult workouts. Each workout is basically a circuit (this could be why some have criticized it as repetitious): One part strength training (3 minutes,if I recall), one part cardio (2 minutes), one part abs (1 minute). There are 3 participants: Jillian, a person who does the more advanced versions, and a person who does the lower intensity more modified versions. The footwork in the cardio segments is NOT difficult so for those with 2 left feet, don't worry about tripping over yourself. The strength training exercises are also straightforward (I wouldn't say easy, because you will feel it).

HOWEVER, lower intensity does not necessarily mean your feet won't leave the floor. So, for those with bad knees or other joint issues (like myself) you may need to further modify the moves or just skip them altogether.

Some reviewers stated that Jillian provides NO instruction as to form. This is simply not true. Numerous times she warned not to extend the knee too far over the foot, maintain proper back alignment, etc. But, for complete novices to all things fitness, it may be difficult to remember to keep your back straight/abs in/knees not over the foot/upright row/ all while maintaining a squat position. Now that I think about it, even some more advanced/experienced exercisers might have difficulty.

Other reviewers commented on Jillian's personality. True, she is not your perky, twinkle in the eye instructor, who bounces all over the studio spreading sunshine and rainbows. For those who prefer that sort of instructor, Denise Austin, anyone? Jillian IS tough. She is NOT there to be your friend or make you feel all warm and fuzzy. She repeatedly says throughout the video that you have to want it. That this is your time, your workout and if you want to be a better you, fitness-wise you WILL have to push yourself. It's up to YOU.

The ONLY exercise that really gave me pause is in the most advanced workout: The straight-leg sit up. I am not a personal trainer or a medical professional, and maybe current sit up research shows otherwise, but I have always understood that straight leg sit ups can seriously strain a person's back.

Overall, I think this is a decent workout provided that a person understands and can maintain proper form and knows how to modify exercises that might be difficult for that person.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2011 4:25 PM PDT


Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.65
2980 used & new from $0.01

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ummmm,, August 4, 2008
Maybe I'll try again, but I could BARELY get past the first page.

"My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down"?

Wow. I was not aware airports had windows that a person could roll down, up, sideways or in any other direction. But perhaps I just expect too much?

How can anyone take seriously an author (no less a published one) who makes such a basic mistake in sentence structure? I would expect better from a high school graduate.

Continuing, the writing and word choice is so......hysterical? Honestly, I could not stop laughing.

The whole human girl falls in love with vampire has been done: Buffy/Angel, Dracula/Mina
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2008 4:06 PM PDT


The Wall Street Journal Complete Money and Investing Guidebook (The Wall Street Journal Guidebooks)
The Wall Street Journal Complete Money and Investing Guidebook (The Wall Street Journal Guidebooks)
by Dave Kansas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.40
225 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Start, May 20, 2008
This book provides novices, such as myself, with a straightforward explanation of various investment vehicles and the basics of the economic cycle.

Reprints of charts, tables, etc. from the WSJ, the SEC, and others are included to give readers of sense of what to look at and how to read the charts/tables/etc.

The book also includes a glossary with basic definitions.

What I really liked about this book is that at the end of each chapter, the author includes additional resources, both electronic and hard copy, that are relevant to that particular chapter. So for example, in the chapter on Money and Economics, the author's suggested reading includes Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations". Electronic resources include websites for government agencies (like the SEC, IRS, the Treasury, etc.), organizations that provide a wealth of information to investors, and tools to research and track various types of investments.

This book should not be the only book that interested people read about investing, markets, business, money, etc. (no book or other resource can cover it all) AND it does not pretend to be such a book. However, if you are starting out, this book is a great one to begin with.


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