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Michelle R RSS Feed (Minnesota)

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More Happy Than Not
More Happy Than Not
Offered by Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Price: $8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Awesome Than Not, September 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
More Happy Than not is a likable story about a likable character, despite a pretty glaring plot hole.

The story is set in the near future, or perhaps even modern day in a slightly alternate universe where memories can be erased. One of the people who receives the procedure, a secondary character at best, is a boy who lost his twin brother when the murderer mistakes the brother for him. He receives the procedure in order to forget his brother. His parents move to a different neighborhood where no one will tell him about the missing piece.

There lies where you have to roll with it, have to buy into an internet age where you can effectively erase someone in a permanent way. When everyone isn't a Google or search away from the truth.

But rolling with it is worth it for the question this raises about the torture the parents go through in being the ones who remember their other son, but must keep him a secret.

The central character is Aaron. When we meet him he is very in love with his girlfriend, but attracted to a boy he meets, and battling depression over his father's suicide. I think most readers will suspect why the situation might not be as it appears on the surface long before it's explicitly stated.

The book asks if the relief from pain that comes from forgetting is worth what's lost. Is it fair to take away the memory of a twin, a past love, an experience that might otherwise help the person grow? Doesn't doing so rob the person, even if the person is the one wanting the procedure, of their identity? What would the world be like if we didn't get a chance to learn from the obstacles in our way?

Aaron, his girlfriend, and the boy he meets, as well as Aaron's mother, are all terrific characters. I think in lesser hands Genevieve, the girlfriend, would be not just unlikable, but dull. Instead, she is one of the many characters who my heart broke for. She is an interesting, talented girl, who fell in love with a boy who may not be able to love her the way she loves him. She would easily carry her own book.

The neighborhood kids were well-drawn, each one unique even while playing the same games, going through the same rituals. I respected the talent it took to make everyone a real person.

There's a lot of sadness in this story, and don't be surprised if the ending breaks your heart.

The Sims 4 Premium Edition
The Sims 4 Premium Edition
Offered by Shekinah Stuff
Price: $89.95
90 used & new from $49.99

38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars New and Not Improved., September 2, 2014
There's no "there" there. Game play is shallow, new emotional system fails to move, and this is to reminiscent of Sims 1, a game released in 2000. As the base game of a new generation of Sims, it's not meant to have all the bells and whistles, but to provide a solid base, but I am thoroughly over the game in less than a day.

One of the advances over the years was the sense of the Sims being freed from their homes, and no load screens unless the Sims were on vacation or headed to college. Load screens are back, Sims are tethered to their houses, and the game solution seems to be to have NPCs parade past the house in this unnatural way so that you can get some socialization. Imagine if you looked out and saw all your neighbors parading by.

And even though the new emotions system has been hyped up, the results are more shallow than Sims 2 or 3. Look, I'm a middle aged woman playing with dolls, at least lets have the dolls have some complexity.

Eh, I don't see how expansion packs will fill the void at the center.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 3, 2014 7:34 AM PDT

House of Ivy & Sorrow
House of Ivy & Sorrow
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Girl Power, June 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I preordered this based on the cover, and read it right after release. A few months later, I have to say I remember this fondly.

The main character is smart, brave, and resourceful, trusting in her friends and grandmother for guidance. When a male character asks her to surrender her powers so that he can use them to turn around and save her from danger, she does not wrap a bow around her abilities and hand them over. She would get along with Buffy Summers and Veronica Mars.

And the cover is still gorgeous

Guy in Real Life
Guy in Real Life
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $3.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Kind of YA Novel I Like and Appreciate., June 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Guy in Real Life (Kindle Edition)
** spoiler alert ** Unavoidable Spoilers for this, and Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell! I would recommend both of these authors, even if you read this and know/discover some of the details. These are spoilers, but they're not, imo, SPOILERS!

"But I don't get one thing, and it's a kind of important thing," Svetlana says, and here she finally stops and turns to face me. "Do you want to be with me, or do you want to be me?"

I recently read Guy in Real Life,* by Steve Brezenoff. I seem to have preordered it. I do that a lot, and then can't remember why. Could have been the cover. Could have been a comparison to Eleanor and Park. Could have been that they have similar covers. As I type this, that seems to job my memory. An article on cover trends!

As an unabashed fan of YA, I like a lot of things I'm seeing these days, particularly books about misfits and geeks. Another book I read about a year ago that works for this trend is The Summer I Became a Nerd. "Summer" and "Guy" are very similar in exploring the same gaming world.

Guy went to a surprising place, and did so in a way I could have never predicted. Lemme explain.

In the beginning, "Guy" reads as a simple love story. Lesh and Lana have a bit of a meet cute, and it seems like their obstacle is going to be that he's a headbanger — is that still the term? — and she's a D&D dungeon master.

Where it subtly went a different way is that Lesh, while grounded, gets pulled into World of Warcraft. (Never mentioned by name.) He doesn't find himself interested in playing an orc and gaming with his friend, but secretly creates an elf who looks a whole lot like Lana.

This decision could be chalked up to horny boy creating a hot looking female to stare at, who looks like his crush. And this is maybe what it is, or part of what it is, or how it started. As he games, he finds himself slipping into the role of Svvetlana. (Two v's because regularly Svetlana was already used in the game.) He allows other players to think he's female.

And there are repercussions. See, not spoiling more than I must for this discussion.

I will say that he learns a little of what it's like to be female, including the male gaze, and someone who crosses boundaries in a way that most women either know or fear.

Eventually Lana finds out about his character, and asks the question quoted above. And here, for me, is the biggest similarity to Eleanor and Park. Both endings, in the tradition of The Lady or the Tiger? doesn't answer all the questions, instead asking the reader to reach his or her own conclusion. Lesh answers Lana, to an extent, and is honest, but the reader will be left with questions.

Like any sane person, I have a love/hate relationship with endings like this. Eleanor and Park has me mentally begging for One More Line!

It's clear Lesh likes — like likes — Lana. It's also clear he wishes he could be more like Lana, to what extent is left unclear. Maybe the point is that he doesn't have to know that answer today.

Lana, by the way, is terrific. Intelligent, funny, creative. And even formidable.

I would recommend this book, all the books mentioned, with a recommend in capital letters for Eleanor and Park! What I think might not work for some readers of Guy in Real Life is a lot of time is spent in the various games, and those are written very realistically, with immersion in those fantasy realms. It's cool and creative, and so very relevant about who Lesh and Lana really are, but if you think nothing ever happens on Mad Men, or that there was no point to the "beetle" scene in Game of Thrones, eh.

Of "Guy" and "Summer," I would label "Summer" the more accessible book about gaming and geek culture (and being a girl into these things) if this is foreign territory. I recommend Eleanor and Park to anyone with a soul.**

Still, "Guy" raises interested questions about identity and the search for self. The characters feel real, complex, and engaging. I was blow away by how Brezenoff deftly lead me into the book, and had me read a good long way, before I realized some of the issues he'd brought into play. I have to wonder if some of this is because if I, a woman, play WoW as a guy, no one will give me grief — in fact, I'll get less grief, and be allowed to game in piece* — and the exercise never raises questions about identity. My choice would be met with a shrug, a male playing as a female is looked at as dishonest, and his gender identity and sexuality are regarded with suspicion.

Good choice, you, in picking this book. Allow me to pat myself on the back.

*Guy in Real Life becomes an acronym, G.I.R.L. This refers to men pretending to be women. Some of the "men" undoubtedly would not self-identify as such.

**Okay, there are some people with souls who probably didn't like E&P, so please allow me my moment of hyperbole.

***But like Lesh, love playing a female blood elf. I prefer a hunter to a healer, though.

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Nature Shield Synergy Essential Oil Blend. 30 ml (1 oz). 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. (Blend Of: Citronella, Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Lavender, Litsea, Tea Tree, Patchouli & Catnip).
Offered by Plant Therapy Essential Oils
Price: $32.95
2 used & new from $15.95

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nope., June 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Before heading out for my walk, I said to my husband that if the drops worked, we'd be buying a lot of witch hazel. (The solution I used to dilute.) My local pharmacy will definitely not need to stock up on the old w.h., at least not on my account.

I mixed 10 drops in a cup of witch hazel, and then a few more drops for good luck. I sprayed a very generous amount on my clothes before putting them on, I sprayed a generous amount on my skin. Then, I took one of my dogs for a walk. (I also took the spray bottle with me.)

These drops could not have failed harder. In the twenty minutes I could stand being out, I received approx. 8 bites, and fended off several more. I sprayed more on during the walk, multiple times, hoping. I sit here trying to ignore the one I received on my left buttock.

Now, I am one of those people mosquitoes love, which means I don't expect to ever be unscathed, but this was the worst experience this season. Insane. Like I was ringing the dinner bell.

Details that might help put this in perspective:

I live in a heavy mosquito area, Northern MN. I am female, and in my forties. The weather was overcast, but not rainy. On the walk the previous day, using "Off," I received 2 bites in a little under 40 minutes.

I am now trying to not scratch the area on my upper thigh.

The smell is very citronella, which is not a personal favorite, but if it worked, it could have smelled like sheep dung.

I cannot think of anything positive to say, and feel like I wasted my money. I'm glad other people have had a much better experience.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2016 12:32 PM PDT

Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining Book 2)
Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining Book 2)
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked, but I doubt it will end up as a favorite., November 3, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Shining (the book) entered my life when I was too young to be reading books like The Shining. I went to the movie version with my mother and grandmother, and the one time they clapped hands over my eyes was when the naked woman came out of the tub.(I could tell stories about the discrepancy between their treatment of sex and violence.)

King said in an interview, at least I remember him as having done so, that Danny would grow up to be an abusive alcoholic, which I admired for the realism of that -- statistically, probably. It seems, though, that King came around to see something better for Danny, now Dan. Once that, psychic vampires aside, is also plausible.

I liked this version, where he finds sobriety and a calling. I'm not as sure that the huge coincidence in the book works, and the bad guys didn't feel scary, and they didn't make me worry for the good guys.

The scariest scene was at the beginning -- the return of the dead woman from the tub -- but that got an assist from my childhood fears.

I guess what I'm saying is that I wish that King didn't have to label this a horror novel, and could truly make it about Dan Torrance's work to guide people into death, to witness their lives and, oh, transitions. That feels like the book this was meant to be, perhaps the book the author wanted to write. Maybe that version could have been a story in his next anthology.

Like a whole lot of other people, I considered Stephen King a part of my life, his books there for every stage of my life, other than infancy and toddlerhood. I'm always glad to spend time with him, as well as the other find writers in his family. (Tabitha King, Joe Hill, Kelly Braffet, and Owen King.) But for me, the two best novels from this family this year would be NOS4A2 and Save Yourself: A Novel. However,last year I adored 11/22/63. This is a wordy way to say that I liked Doctor Sleep, but the end result was too far off the mark for me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2014 3:47 PM PDT

The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book
The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book
by Cook's Illustrated
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.72
78 used & new from $15.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ongoing Review, November 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So far, I'm loving on this book. There's a section that tells must-have kitchen essentials, and each recipe tells the principle behind the choices.

Today, I made banana bread, and it was a solid 4. Very moist, pretty simple and fun to make.(I'll add more impressions of recipes as I go, and when Thanksgiving on the horizon, I plan on making 2-3 more things, minimum, shortly!)

I know people who've bought these books before are complaining about repetition. This is important information, and valid from their perspective. But this whole book is new to me, and I'm amazed at the number of recipes and amount of information and education.

Bumble Bee Sensations Seasoned Tuna with Crackers, Sund- Dried Tomato and Basil, 3.6 Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)
Bumble Bee Sensations Seasoned Tuna with Crackers, Sund- Dried Tomato and Basil, 3.6 Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)
Price: $29.49
2 used & new from $29.49

4.0 out of 5 stars This was a little bit of alright., November 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like tuna, particularly when they're flavored -- like the Tuna Creations in a pouch by Starkist. (Starkist Tuna Creations, Hickory Smoked, Single Serve 2.6-Ounce Pouch (Pack of 6)is my favorite of those.) So, this hit the spot, the simplicity of pulling open the tab, and having some crackers right there. I like tomato basil, so that also tasted good. I could see this for when I'm too busy to break from work!

I'm buying these!

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
by Rick Hanson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.44
109 used & new from $6.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What I Needed...., November 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First, I had preordered this book before being offered a review copy, forgetting I had pre-ordered. My brain was really determined to have this book.

I objectively know my life is amazing, and appreciate my blessings, but I have difficultly allowing this knowledge to affect my mood. I constantly expect the other shoe to drop, and some of this is for good reason, and based on past experience. I live my life under a constant cloud of stress, tension, and possibly low-level paranoia that the universe is out to get me. (I'm a delight at parties.)

This book explains to me why my brain is trying to keep me safe, and in doing so making me rather miserable. There's a mention in the book about dealing with our true needs -- preventing scurvy with vitamin c -- and how we tend to compensate in other ways for the things we really want. This made me ask myself what I really craved and sought, and that could well be a game changer for me.

Why 4 stars? Pure orneriness. I hate reading books like this and having a lot of page space devoted to the author trying to sell me on a book that's already mine. Give me the science and principles, sure, but then let's move on to the practical.

Grade My Teacher: A Short Story
Grade My Teacher: A Short Story
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars All The Lonely People, October 12, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A teacher sees a review of her on a Grade-Your-Teacher website. It's not flattering. The student alleges an incident that is just close enough to what happened to allow the teacher to figure out the identity of the girl. (The girl reported the subtext of a conversation as, um, text.) They arrange to meet and discuss it.

The story is about loneliness, and the desire to be seen and appreciated. The desire to be perceived in the way that matches how we perceive ourselves.

I found the story interesting, and I like short stories, but for readers who are more ambivalent about the shorter form, it might not seem like there's enough there there. However, the story rewarded me by making me think about the things people do in order to be heard, and how the internet both allows opportunities to be seen, and opportunities to ignore the humanity of others. And why the temptation to lie or exaggerate on the internet might be too enticing by far.

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