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Shelli Meyers RSS Feed (Centreville, VA, USA)

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Upcycling 101: How To Recycle Your Household Trash, Old Items, and More
Upcycling 101: How To Recycle Your Household Trash, Old Items, and More
Price: $0.99

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninspiring and ridiculously brief, May 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This title does not even have enough content to constitute a brochure, let alone a book – it is a list of just ten recycled upcycling ideas, each expounded upon by 1-3 sentences, and each given its own page (perhaps to make the end product seem longer?). Of course, at the whopping price of free, even ten fresh ideas would be nothing to complain about, but each of the ideas are either laughably obvious, uninspiringly general, redundant, or some combination thereof. For instance, anyone taking the time to download this title surely already washes and reuses glass jars (the topic of over one third of the numbered items), and the added suggestion that we can use them to "store things" is not particularly useful. The sole example in the item for repurposing old clothing is to turn a pair of jeans into cut off shorts! But my personal favorite is the assertion that there are a "million" ways to repurpose an old wooden pallet, such as adding arms and cushions to turn it into a couch or a chair (huh?). To add insult to injury, there are no photographs or illustrations, the formatting is wonky, and the grammar and punctuation are atrocious.

I applaud the self-publishing movement, and the altruism behind putting materials out into the Kindle world for free. But I can't support simply throwing together any old piece of trash and tossing it out there into the world; it serves no one at all, including the publisher, and makes actual quality publications that much harder to find.

And with that, this review is now likely longer than the entirety of the e-book in question.


Prague (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Prague (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
by DK Publishing
Edition: Paperback
81 used & new from $0.01

87 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unlike any other travel guides., November 18, 2004
A chance acquisition of the Prague Eyewitness Travel Guide has made me a rabid and devoted fan of the entire series. Although many travel guides offer excellent text content in terms of descriptions and reviews (Lonely Planet comes to mind), what makes the Eyewitness series such a standout is its innovative use of (glossy, color) photographs and illustrations. The Eyewitness guides use visual displays to convey information that cannot be easily gleaned otherwise, yet is extremely helpful to the travel experience.

Here are just a few examples, from the Prague guide:

* The illustration of the Charles Bridge identifies each statue by the saint's name; information which is not completely obvious (at least not to non-Czech speakers) when you're standing in front of one.

* Cutaway illustrations of churches, museums, etc. identify rooms, sections, items, etc., making it easy to home in on areas of interest, or to identify otherwise unlabeled features.

* Photographs of the outside of the buildings of reviewed attractions.

* Photographs of paper and coin currency.

* Photographs and explanations of foods and beverages.

* My personal favorite: photographs of automatic metro ticket machines with detailed instructions on how to use them.

Don't miss these exceptional and stunningly beautiful guides.


Bodum Handheld Turbo Frother, White
Bodum Handheld Turbo Frother, White

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Handy, if a little underpowered., July 6, 2003
Since I don't generally put frothed milk on my coffee, I tend to use to mix and fluff cold chocolate or even plain milk. (I find it works much better if you put your milk in a tall, narrow glass.) My major complaint is that my cold milk beverages don't stay frothy for very long, so I have to drink them up quick if I want to enjoy their frothy goodness. I also find the power switch to be complicated to turn on (its "on" vs. "off" position is impossible to tell by looking at it).


Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow
DVD ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
Price: $5.37
283 used & new from $0.01

6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Washington Irving is rolling over in his grave., July 6, 2003
This review is from: Sleepy Hollow (DVD)
I took great exception to the fact that this movie borrowed the name and a few (FEW) plot elements from its namesake short story. Why bother if you're simply going to make such a radical departure from the letter and the spirit of the original?
I generally like both Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci (not to mention Tim Burton), but even they were not enough to raise this messy adaptation from the bowels of derivative shamelessness.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2008 10:57 PM PDT


The Left Behind Collection I boxed set: Vol. 1-4 (Vols 1-4)
The Left Behind Collection I boxed set: Vol. 1-4 (Vols 1-4)
by Jerry B. Jenkins
Edition: Paperback
50 used & new from $1.71

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining & illuminating read, even for non-Christians, June 18, 2003
My sister, whose taste in modern literature I respect immensely, recommended this series to me, which came as something of a surprise since I am a non-Christian and she is at best only marginally so. The basis of her recommendation was actually our mutual attraction to the horror genre; it may be interesting to non-Christians wondering about this series that she regarded it in this light.
Unfortunately, the weakness of the series is the rather sophomoric writing style - choppy sentences, lack of metaphor or evocation, flat dialogue, simplistic characterization, little unexpected intrigue. However, what it lacks in style it makes up for in plot; spanning the scope of years and over a large geography, its palette comprises (at least to this untrained-in-Biblical-prophecy reader) the creepy, dramatic, and global manifestations of the end days (albeit fictionalized) as apocalyptic Christians believe it to be specified in the book of Revelation. This makes it a fun read and a wild ride.
However, what most attracts me to this series is that it actually represents the beliefs of millions of Christians in North America, and this makes it something of a work of anthropological note instead of just purely fiction. The authors are clearly evangelizing to their audience, and familiarize the reader with the tenets of faith of those who believe in this end-of-days scenario in an easy to digest format.
Did reading these books convert me? Well no; not even close. But it did engender some critical thinking on my part as to why exactly I do not believe these things, while simultaneously providing me a deeper understanding and respect for those who do.


Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
by Tony Horwitz
Edition: Hardcover
268 used & new from $0.01

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much to savor, but too much hand-holding., May 7, 2003
There is much to enjoy about this book. Author Tony Horwitz's historical accounts of Captain James Cook and his travels are compelling and reverential without being worshipful and one-sided, and his modern-day travelogue, recounting his trips to the places Cook visited are evocative, educational, and humorous. The skill with which he alternates back and forth between the past and the present is the strength of the book, allowing the reader, place by place, to experience the changes wrought by the passage of time since Cook's first landing.
With all this praise, why did I give it only three stars? I feel that much of the emotional impact the book might have had was diminished by Horwitz's continual attempts to forcefully bridge historical narrative with his present-day travelogue. Each time in his present-day travels he encounters a "ghost" of Cook - a home in which he is said to have resided, an inlet which appears much the same today as it did in Cook's time - Horwitz invariably interjects something like, "One can almost imagine Cook writing at his desk / viewing the breathtaking site / etc." At first I merely noted these sidebars, then I found them awkward, and finally, annoying and forced. Rather than have spoon-fed us each time we were supposed to have taken notice of some bridge between the past and the present, I would have preferred that Horwitz had stepped back and let us imagine them for ourselves.


Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception (Cover art may vary)
Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception (Cover art may vary)
Offered by Bargain Huntter
Price: $9.10
116 used & new from $5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As much for adults as for kids!, March 27, 2003
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I was introduced to Set not as a child but as an adult in my late 20s. My group of friends played often, and it was not unheard of to walk into what was supposed to be a raucous party only to find 15 people huddled silently around the coffee table, concentrating intensely, only to be interrupted by the occasional exclamation of "SET!"
I took it along on a recent ski trip with my young (9-year-old) nephew, whom I was not sure would "get" the rules, since they require quite a degree of abstract visual thinking. However, I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to not only pick up on how to play, i.e. how sets were formed, but turned out to be a worthy competitor!
This is one of the rare games that can be enjoyed in mixed child-adult groups, and continually challenges the skills of visual association and left-brained thinking while still being thoroughly enjoyable.


Daughters of Captain Cook
Daughters of Captain Cook
by Linda Spalding
Edition: Paperback
48 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously evocative and creepy., March 27, 2003
Ironically, I obtained this book thinking it was a historical account of Captain Cook's progeny, based on a hastily-read (although positive) review of it in Outside magazine. However, despite not being a fan of contemporary fiction, I was immediately swept up in the deliciously woven prose: contemplative, evocative, personal, and mysterious. Its imagery entranced and lulled (but not bored!) me in its depiction of a Hawaii both exotic and yet accessible, while the seedy underbelly of its mystical and tragic plot slowly and deliberately unfolded. Although it seems incogruous for a gothic novel to be set in a tropical paradise, Daughters of Captain Cook is a compelling, nearly seamless read.


American McGee's Alice - PC
American McGee's Alice - PC
Offered by lakeplacegames
Price: $103.99
32 used & new from $11.49

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning, deliciously twisted, but overly tedious., September 22, 2002
The premise of "Alice"'s plotline will certainly offend the sensibilities of die-hard Lewis Carroll fans; the Alice of American McGee is a delusional mental patient haunted by the fiery death of her family for which she blames herself. If you can accept that this is not meant to be an accurate representation of Carroll's vision and is instead a derivative work, it's a deliciously twisted and original take on the whole Wonderland universe.
While the graphics are truly eye candy, the music appropriately creepy and complex, and the Quake III engine impressive, a game with this much plot potential is rendered flat and uninvolving by the strictly linear progression of the story line. Even if taken as a straight first-person shooter, the game still does not vary much or require significant strategy to progress. I also found Alice's dependence on the jump-but-don't-fall-off hurdle to be overused and annoying; it certainly was not so heavily depended on in any Quake incarnation and did not need to be Alice's only substantial challenge.
It seems as if "Alice" tried to merge the fast-paced action of a first-person shooter and the compelling plot of an RPG with stunning visual and auditory embellishments, but fell far short of the engrossing experience that a game such as Half-Life accomplished.


Buddha's Little Instruction Book
Buddha's Little Instruction Book
by Jack Kornfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.87
143 used & new from $0.01

17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly cute and somewhat trite., September 22, 2002
Buddhism is a complex practice of self-reflection, investigation, introspection, and hard work, with no easy or pat answers. Although some Buddhist philosophies can indeed be expressed simply and succintly, I found many of the little "mottos" of which this book is comprised to be overly trite platitudes which "dummy down" Buddhism to appeal to a pop culture hungry for cute inspirational answers. Sayings such things as "The mind contains all possibilities," "No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin again today," and "Whoever sees truth sees the Buddha," do not provoke much more than a "well, duh" reaction from even the non-Buddhist layperson, let alone a serious student of Buddhism. Additionally, some of the "instructions" are highly recycled from other authors, proverbs, and even movies, such as "Live every act fully, as if it were your last," and "Wherever you go, there you are."
The book is not completely without merits. Tucked in with the overly cutesy truisms are some contemplations which do actually provoke thought and reflection, such as "Everything in moderation, including moderation", although they are few and far between.
For someone interested in digesting short Buddhist "slogans", I would far more highly recommend a study of the Lojong teachings (aka the Seven Points of Mind Training) as detailed in many great books such as Chogyam Trungpa's "Training the Mind & Cultivating Loving-Kindness". These instructions are far more profound, thought-provoking, original, and cohesive than Jack Kornfield's (and can even be purchased as display cards with a little easel).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2009 12:13 PM PDT


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