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Deb Nam-Krane "dnkboston" RSS Feed (Boston, MA United States)

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ESSENTRICS Barre Workout
ESSENTRICS Barre Workout
DVD ~ sahra esmonde-white
4 used & new from $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A flexible, therapeutic workout, December 19, 2014
This review is from: ESSENTRICS Barre Workout (DVD)
After managing to injure myself with Pilates, yoga, heavy weights and just walking around (thank you, weak ankles!), I needed a workout that would allow me to work my upper body without bearing weight on it and help me strengthen and stretch. After spending a couple of weeks moping, I remembered Classical Stretch and Essentrics and ordered this DVD. Just what the doctor ordered. Please note, then, that this isn't one of their more vigorous workouts.

The "trademark exercises" Esmonde-White uses in the beginning open up the back and sides nicely. (Unlike many other systems, they focus on opening up the upper body before the lower body.) It also helps strengthen postural muscles and work the abs/waist. Please note: you won't wake up the next morning with the same kind of soreness in your rectus abdominis you'd feel if you did a lot of crunches, but over time you will feel this, particularly as it opens up and strengthens your sides, which helps you stand taller. The arm work in the standing session is a little less intense than their other releases, but that's not a complaint! And while these exercises (pulling your arms away from your torso and moving them with flexed wrists) are tough, they get easier with each session (although your medial delts will still burn).

The floorwork focuses on the legs. As with the arms, the key to performing the exercises is pulling the limb away from the torso and moving from that position (this is pretty much the key to the eccentric/"essentric" focus of the system; others might refer to it as "working in length"). Because the same muscle is stretched and strengthened at the same time, your range is going to be limited. Also, you're not going to want to (or have to) perform the same number of repetitions as you do in other systems. As difficult as the side lying work is for the outer hips/thighs, I found the much shorter seated session for the quads literally breathtaking. However, the stretch that follows releases the lower body and starts getting into the upper back.

The next standing session is barre work. As the cover says, they have been doing barre work since their inception, which precedes the explosion of interest in the Lotte Berke/Bar Method/Core Fusion/etc-style. While those methods focus on smaller movements and lots of repetitions, these movements feature a slightly greater range of motion and fewer repetitions. As Esmonde-White says, the workout is intended to be sustainable, and a lot of repetitions, particularly of rear leglifts, can irritate the lower back. The barre stretch (and her barre is a chair) is very thorough but you'll probably feel it most through the psoas and hamstrings. I not only gasped through this section, I broke a sweat.

Unfortunately, I have to steal time to workout, and being able to do 60 minutes at once is a luxury. I really appreciate the premixes, which not only list the amount of time for each but also list the focus of the mini-workouts.

Highly recommended for time-crunched people in need of a balanced workout.

In From the Cold (The Carlin Series Book 1)
In From the Cold (The Carlin Series Book 1)
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A realistic story of an abuse victim's recovery, December 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In From The Cold is the story of how a young woman rebuilds her life after leaving an abusive marriage.
As other reviewers have noted, what makes this story so chilling is that the abuse Tess endures is so banal: while there are some episodes of humiliating physical contact, the majority of the abuse Tess' husband Mark inflicts is psychological; his constant belittling of her has made her doubt her ability to make decisions for herself. Fortunately, Tess has some sense of self left, and when her husband unapologetically violates her privacy, she starts to realize that he is the problem, not her.
Many women in abusive relationships report isolation that perpetuates itself as the abuse continues. Tess is connected to a religious community, but the values of her church reinforce her husband's belief that he should be in charge of her very soul. To make matters worse, he has told not only fellow churchgoers but also her family that Tess is mentally unstable. In the end, Tess has no choice but to make plans to flee. And then the story really starts.
The story is ultimately about a woman who learns to love and trust herself after spending a lifetime being told that she was essentially worthless. I was moved by the realism of the young woman's situation, and anyone who has ever dealt with a manipulative person will applaud Robbins for so accurately portraying what those interactions feel like.

And The City Swallowed Them (Kindle Single)
And The City Swallowed Them (Kindle Single)
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A true story of global disaffection, December 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
And The City Swallowed Them tells the true story of the murder of young Canadian model Diana O'Brien in Shanghai and the convicton of her confessed killer. At the end of the piece you will still have lingering questions about Who Dunnit and why- and that's just what Hvistendahl wants.

It's all too easy to believe the confession from Chen Jun, the young man who, like many Chinese migrants, was disaffected, out of luck and looking for a way home. Understanding that the confessed killer grew up without either of his parents and almost no female influences after his family was effectively cheated out of a land exchange adds more weight to the credibility of his confession. Indeed, the man himself does a pretty convincing job of selling it, and the story the police put together and meticulously present to the murdered woman's parents fits. But...

In a city that seems to be reinventing itself daily and in which human beings are commodities, there's something unsettling about the people on both sides of the Pacific who brought the victim from China to Canada. The Canadian agent who sent twenty-two year old Diana to Canada and instructed her to falsify her visa request appears remorseless, and there's no shortage of people to tell similar tales of malfeasance about her. But at least she's around; her Chinese counterpart disappears shortly after perfunctory questioning, and to this day there's not a trace of her. And given some of the harrowing tales that the other models tell of working in Shanghai- not getting paid is the least of their worries- it's almost too convenient that a random stranger would have gotten to her first. (One firm conclusion: modeling sounds a lot more like human trafficking these days than the glamorous profession it's been made out to be.) Yet, as the author points out, in a city filled with lonely inter- and intranational migrants, violent crime is much more likely to take place between strangers than friends and family.

Did either of these people get justice? We might never know- but we can try to do better for those who come after them.

Recommended for fans of long form journalism.

Hero Cursed (Oracle of Delphi #3.5)
Hero Cursed (Oracle of Delphi #3.5)
Price: $1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The gods aren't the only ones who can play the long game, December 15, 2014
I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review....but that's not entirely true. I more stalked Ms Jones until she agreed to give me a review copy because I am such a fan of the Oracle of Delphi series. This was worth the wait.
Hero, Cursed follows Lenka Tahile aka Swindle, a son of Hermes, who is one of the Quad chosen to protect Chloe Clever, the newest Oracle of Delphi. We know from the rest of the series that everyone is holding their cards close to their vest and almost nothing is as it seems, but who knew that Lenka was keeping the biggest secrets of all?

It's not giving anything away to say that this isn't Lenka's first go round as the son of Hermes, but why he's bound up to a mortal existence is something that tweaked my myth-loving heart. (Might we see a story for Hermes soon?) But from the beginning, this hero was more than your average demigod; he was a key member of one of the most famous adventures in Greek mythology. I loved Jones's retelling of this famous tale, even if it was a little different than the classic version.

But Lenka's story is of Mythos, and Mythos is all about the Olympian gods. Our favorite Olympian Apollo isn't content to screw around with his own children's lives; Lenka is integral to his plans and he has just the leverage to make Lenka do his bidding. But does even Apollo know the truth about Lenka's dream? And if he does, is that part of his plan, or something he needs to skirt around?

Those aren't even the only questions, but the biggest one is posed by Lenka himself: can he do the right thing even if it means he'll continue to be condemned? Just one problem: does he know for sure what the right thing is?

There's a whole lot more going on here, but that's all I can say without giving the plot away. Suffice to say I can't wait until the next installment of the series...even if it leads to yet more unanswered questions.

The Sea Garden
The Sea Garden
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $12.74

5.0 out of 5 stars A spooky tale of romantic suspense, December 12, 2014
This review is from: The Sea Garden (Kindle Edition)
This is better seen as three parts of the same story told from different angles rather than standalone novellas. Of the three, only the second is truly self-contained; it provides useful information that informs the other two but doesn't need them to tell it's story. Please keep that in mind as you read; I was very frustrated by the ending of the first book but satisfied by the end.
Poor Ellie Brooke perhaps wasn't surprised to feel herself pulled into a world haunted by death from the very first page of the story, but that she felt herself literally haunted was the surprise. Why had the seeming bon vivant Laurent summon her all the way from England to restore his garden in modern-day Porquerolles, and why did his mother regard her with such antipathy from the first? It's not hard to figure out what happened to Ellie and what-or who-is going to follow us into the next story, but the question is why.
The second novel follows blind Marthe Lincel as she bravely works to use her gifts mixing scents for the kindly Mussets into something useful for the French Resistance. She is blessed with bravery and integrity; her weaknesses are, as for everyone else, other people: whom can she trust, and how can she protect those she cares for without harming others. Worse, how can she go on after a painful loss? Of all three stories, this was the one that moved me the most.
The final story follows Iris Nightingale from the 1940s to the present day, and here all the strands come together. Iris works for British Intelligence, helping the French Resistance coordinate intelligence with the larger effort. Pragmatic and competent despite her young age, she nevertheless finds herself swept up into a romance with a head-on is it reckless?- French agent. Tracking down what became of him and her later resignation that she'll never know us just one of the meanings behind the title "The Shadow Life". Iris will eventually get her answers, but is the cost worth the truth?
This spooky tale of romantic suspense had a slow build that made the ending more satisfying even if many of the connections were easy to spot. I would recommend this to fans of historical romance as well as paranormal suspense.

DESERT STAR (The Desert Series Book 2)
DESERT STAR (The Desert Series Book 2)
Price: $2.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, multi-generational story about overcoming bullying, December 11, 2014
I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

In Mystical High, the first book of The Desert Series, the town of Mystekal was in decay. As if to underscore how much, multiple people reported ghost sitings. But they quickly found out that the living could be much more frightening than the dead, and the death of the Ernest Carrow, the murderous high school principal who also owned much of the town, allowed the residents to start rebuilding their lives and rebuilding Mystekal.

Arielle Dalworth, newly returned to Mystekal (and remarried to her husband after an ill-conceived tryst with a slimeball Hollywood producer) is charged with reviving the once grand theater. As she's making arrangements, her hilariously brilliant son River meets Larsen "Lars" Davis, a talented young man who dreams of a career as an actor but whose life is made hellish by the bullying he suffers over his sexuality- both in school and at home. River may be quirky, but he's also brave, and there's no way he's going to watch someone suffer like that. But there are limits to what a good friend can do, especially when most of your trouble is at home. Lars is going to need a guardian angel to help get him out of his miserable situation...and one happens to be working in his school cafeteria. But what is haunting gentle, kind Kathryn, and why does it hurt her so much to see him bullied? There's a lot to unravel and unpack, and some of it is going to include a shocking revelation that will help explain some of the past. But is that going to be enough to prevent another disaster just as the town is coming back to life?

From page one, the reader knows this story is going to be about bullying. As hard as it is to read about someone being bullied in school, it's even harder to read about someone being bullied at home. Your heart will break as you read how sweet and thoughtful Lars suffers through his mother's insults (and those of the people she brings home). However, seeing the Dalworths, especially River and Arielle, reach out inspires hope that Lars' situation will improve.

One of the things I love about Brodey's writing is that she shows the shades of all of her characters, whether they're "good" or "bad". Some of the characters do stupid things, but she gives all of them the capacity to dig deep and understand why so that both they and the readers understand. Still, as someone points out, it takes a lot more than logical understanding to prevent your insecurities from being your own worst enemies, and sometimes that process takes time. Arguably, one of the questions lingering over the series is whether people have enough time to "grow up" before they do something they'll regret.

The shocking revelation in this book helps shed some light on some of what happened in the first book. (Hint: if you liked Book Two and Six of the Harry Potter series, you'll definitely get a kick out of this one.) But ultimately, tragedy is a circumstance, and people still make choices. Brodey explains some of her characters' actions more deeply, but she doesn't excuse them.

I found myself tearing up at the end when we finally get to meet the "desert star", and I'm pretty sure other readers will too. Recommended for fans of young adult paranormal.

The Deliverance of Evil (A Commissario Balistreri Mystery)
The Deliverance of Evil (A Commissario Balistreri Mystery)
by Roberto Costantini
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.97
97 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Good villains don't believe they're what do you do about the ones who repent?, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In 1982, Michele Balistreri is an angry young police captain who holds bureaucracy, religion and politics in almost as much contempt as he holds himself. Good thing there's plenty of partying, alcohol and willing women to quiet his demons. However, when he mishandles the disappearance and murder of a beautiful young woman he'd had designs on, his life is changed forever. By 2005, he's living on anti-depressants, decaf coffee and rations out both his cigarettes and alcohol (and sex isn't something he wants to allow himself any longer either). He's a walking attempt at penitence with nothing to believe in. A slew of murdered young women gives him the will to do more than exist, but when the murders become too reminiscent of his earlier professional and moral failure, he has to ask himself how much the truth is worth.

The Italy of 1982 is decadent, and you can feel how someone young and with something to prove would find that Italy, with its easy beauty and luxury, frustrating. It was however, filled with promise, even if Balistreri can't recognize it. The Italy of 2006 is just as corrupt but now it's stagnant. If Italy was fighting for its soul in 1982, by 2006 its fights are about power and the big ones are orchestrated. The Italy portrayed here is is decaying from the inside out, and now the foreign faces that fill it aren't tourists but the immigrants it both depends on and scorns. This novel is as much an examination of Italy and the people in it vying for power as it is a mystery/thriller.

I figured out the villain (or is it villains?) and the dominant motivations pretty quickly, but those were the easy questions to answer. How it was done and everyone who was involved- and why- were the bigger mysteries, and watching Balistreri and his team unwind the puzzle was engrossing. Before I was halfway through I was unable to put it down and spent the better part of a day finishing it.

Recommended for fans of international mysteries and thrillers.

Canon MAXIFY MB2020 Wireless All-In-One Color Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax (Airprint and Cloud Compatible)
Canon MAXIFY MB2020 Wireless All-In-One Color Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax (Airprint and Cloud Compatible)
Price: $133.01
7 used & new from $109.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent investment, December 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Very pleased with the ease of set up and high quality performance of this printer. The printouts are professional-grade; if I used higher quality paper, I could pass them off as purchased worksheets or printed book pages.

Even better, the cartridges this printer takes are not significantly more expensive than the cartridges used by black and white printers, which was my initial concern about this product.

Highly recommended for anyone who needs a color printer.

Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
by Rachel Cooke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.35
41 used & new from $11.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An era of forgotten trailblazers, October 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book difficult to get into; the author's style immediately gives away how personally attached she is to her subject matter, and some of her enthusiasm and effusiveness was jarring. However, once I hunkered down, I could understand her fascination. Most of the women she wrote about did lead fascinating careers and were, if not all revolutionary, definitely trailblazers.

It shows how quickly things turn that while we are immersed in an almost survivalist "back to nature" phase in cooking and home decor, people aren't talking about the contributions of Patience Gray, who literally lived what she preached about the snout-to-tail philosophy from the 1960s onward. It's equally surprising that as we "look forward" to the post-apocalyptic world (of climate change) we don't reflect more on what architect Alison Smithson had to say about her period's visions of what the world would look like after The Bomb. The more things change...

It is, perhaps, less surprising that we don't reflect on the genius that Muriel and Betty Box brought to the silver screen, in large part because the work they produced wasn't genius- just very successful at a time when women were not expected to know how to shape anything other than "women's" stories for women. And while there were representatives from "women's" fields here (Nancy Spain, the journalist who was assigned the women's page; Margery Fish, the garden writer; and Gray), the stories I found most engrossing were of Jacquetta Hawkes, the archaeologist and Rose Heilbron, the barrister and later judge. Honestly, I dreaded going into those chapters, but rather than being dry they painted a picture not only of the women who forged ahead in spite of opposition but also the fascinating times and societies they traveled in. (Heilbron's story was my favorite; it made me smile to think of a prim, educated woman calmly putting some of the organized crime members she defended firmly in their place.) Some of my enjoyment might also stem from the fact that Cooke's style is more serious and calmer in these chapters; I got the sense throughout that she was mimicking the writing style of each of her subjects.

It's a worthy read for anyone interested in the history of Feminism and British History. However, twenty years after reading Susan Faludi's Backlash, I have to say that it's depressing that it would be such a surprise that women in the Fifties worked outside the home as much as they did or that they enjoyed the measure of success and influence that they did, prejudiced laws notwithstanding. Hopefully this will be a good reminder that the reason the Fifties media pushed the idea of the ideal housewife so hard was because women like this were putting the lie to it.

Chi-hwa-seon (Painted Fire) [VHS]
Chi-hwa-seon (Painted Fire) [VHS]
Offered by Eli 2000
Price: $15.90
6 used & new from $6.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Korean history through the life of an artist, October 4, 2014
As much as this is the story of the 19th century Korean artist "Ohwon" (Jang Seung-ub), it is also the story of Korea's last years as an independent country. (Korea lost its independence in 1905 and did not regain it until the end of World War II.)

As others have broken down, Jang Seung-ub was born a peasant. His life is saved as a young boy by a nobleman when he is being beaten by another peasant, but the nobleman can do only so much for him; his wife admonishes him to send the boy away...because they can't afford to feed him. Several years later, the two meet up again, and the nobleman arranges for him to be sent to gain artistic instruction from a respected master. This is the first time Jang will run into the confinements not only of the system of the arts but also most of Korea at that time: talent is not as valuable as connections.

In fits and starts, the Korean establishment (as represented by a group of fellow artists who comment on his works throughout the film) comes to respect Jang's genius, but each snub pushes him further into his vices: drinking, disrespecting women and refusing to work. His most stable relationship is with a courtesan he rents a house with, but the woman who haunts him is the noble younger sister of the man who saved him. She, however, is untouchable, not only because of the class difference, but because of a congenital illness. It's fair to say that she was his idea of perfection, and when she dies he's plunged into another depression. When, years later, he meets a courtesan who looks exactly like her, he's quickly disillusioned to find that she's as coarse as the rest of her class.

The woman he does truly love, the courtesan Mae-Hyang, is separated from him by religious persecution: she's Catholic, and after they meet Catholics are purged and persecuted. It's only toward the end of the story, when Korea is in such a state of decline that religious persecution is low on their list of priorities, that the two can meet again without fear. However, so much damage has been done to both Jang and Korea that any thought of permanence is doomed.

As Jang's reputation spreads and Korea's politics decay, he (and Korean art in general) become more and more the solace for the Korean psyche. This is particularly painful to Jang when he is struggling to find his own vision and not simply copy old masters. For anyone who knows the history of this period, it's impossible not to hear an indictment of the intellectual culture of Korea, which rewarded mastery of Chinese Classics and considered any deviation from it heresy.

Throughout the film, China and Japan struggle for dominance over Korea; we see this through not only the soldiers stomping through the scenes but also the people vying to own some of Jang's art. This is a reflection of the Korean nobility's struggle of ideas between a Reformist and Conservative vision, and to what extent foreign influence should be allowed. It becomes clear that the only thing authentically Korean is the voice of the artist- but an artist is as influenced by his times as anyone else.

Highly recommended for those interested in Korean history and art.

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