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

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondō
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $8.90
119 used & new from $8.90

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tidy once and be done, April 25, 2015
I cannot promise you that you will change your life or find your bliss, but I can say that I had a lot of fun following her tidying advice.

The basic premise of the philosophy, as you may have heard ad infinitum, is to only keep those things which "spark joy". If that's a little too airy for you, try things that you have a visceral, immediate, positive reaction to. As others have noted, there's an essential difference between focusing on what you're getting rid of (as many other cleaning/tidying advice does) and focusing on what you're keeping. In my opinion, Kondo's way of doing not only helps you as you transition your space, but also going forward when you make new purchases.

Speaking of purchases, what made me grin and even giggle was her observation that "storage experts are hoarders". Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. (The Container Store must be gritting their teeth.) Whereas people who advocate storage solutions are trying to maximize the amount of objects one can store in their space, her advice is to review and whittle down your possessions until you feel a "click" that tells you when you've reached the minimum you can own. This should be more like a weight lifted off of your than a panic that you don't have enough; if you feel that, you've gone too far.

A corollary of her advice not to obsess over storage is not to buy special storage solutions. She advises using shoe boxes and other boxes you probably already have around the house. (That sounds very DIY, but it comes off as much less pretentious than most DIY titles.) After sorting through my drawers, bookshelves, bathroom, kitchen (including cabinets and shelves) and closets (bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen), I'm happy to report that I haven't had to buy one special storage item to more logically store my items other than book ends to help vertically store my books.

This book isn't taking off because it's giving a lot of specific advice on tidying, although it does do that. What makes it "magical" is that it promises that you can tidy once (however long that session might be) and then be DONE so you can get on with the rest of your life. Just as importantly, the process of tidying, which requires you to listen to yourself to determine what makes you happy, can help reveal what you would like to do with the rest of your life.

After my tidying jaunts, I did indeed feel refreshed. The little bits I have to do daily to keep the space tidy- which is really putting things in their place and then wiping down surfaces- don't feel onerous but instead like lovely little rituals. All this while being able to carve out a sanctuary in my small condo. I have been much calmer and happier since I embarked on my tidying project. I recommend it for anyone.

Blurred Lines (Behind Closed Doors Book 2)
Blurred Lines (Behind Closed Doors Book 2)
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological abuse is just as dangerous as physical abuse, April 5, 2015
Cawood's Tainted Love was one of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read, and the follow up does not disappoint. The reader was sickeningly aware from the beginning of Faith McKenzie's story in Tainted Love that she was becoming trapped in a cycle of dangerous physical violence. What Julia Swift suffers through is more subtle but just as disturbing to read: her husband doesn't beat her unconscious; instead, he slowly, consistently wears down her self-esteem and isolates her from friends and family. According to Wayne, Julia is a misguided and naive young woman who's lucky to have him around to protect her from the Big Bad World- and no one symbolizes that more than Ashleigh Jordan, his very intelligent and successful ex- and Julia's best friend.

In some ways, Ashleigh can feel just as overbearing and controlling of Julia as Wayne can. The reader is going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what Ashleigh's motivation is: is she trying to protect Julia, or is she so blinded by her history with Wayne that she's trying to hurt him through Julia? Regardless of the answer, the fact that Ashleigh and Julia's married brother Sean have been dancing around each other since college isn't making anything less complicated.

This is the kind of story that builds on you and then makes you want to jump out of your skin. Everyone who reads it will understand all too well how a beautiful and talented young woman like Julia can find herself trapped in a psychologically abusive relationship. I look forward to reading the rest of her story, and I can't wait to dig deeper into what the truth is about the mysterious Ashleigh.

Disclaimer: I know the author. This has not affected my review.

Reebok Thunder Chief Backpack, Electric Blue/Gravel Grey/Gecko Green, One Size
Reebok Thunder Chief Backpack, Electric Blue/Gravel Grey/Gecko Green, One Size
Price: $31.99
3 used & new from $31.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and sturdy, April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a sturdy bag with structure that also happens to be lightweight. That might not sound like a tall order, but unfortunately other similarly structured bags are heavier (I'm looking at you, Patagonia). I feel completely safe putting my laptop in this bag, as well as heavier textbooks.

The bag is stylish enough that my fifteen year old has used this as her "weekend" bag- i.e., meeting friends, shopping, etc.

Recommended for students and anyone else who doesn't need an oversized bag for their commuting needs.

Highest Quality Athleema Set of 3 Loop Bands (Light, Medium, Heavy) 10" X 2" the Best Exercise Loop Resistance Bands for Any Workout. Great for Home Gyms, Yoga, Pilates, Physical Therapy. 100% Natural Latex. Lifetime Guarantee. Special Low Introductory Price.
Highest Quality Athleema Set of 3 Loop Bands (Light, Medium, Heavy) 10" X 2" the Best Exercise Loop Resistance Bands for Any Workout. Great for Home Gyms, Yoga, Pilates, Physical Therapy. 100% Natural Latex. Lifetime Guarantee. Special Low Introductory Price.
Offered by Kane And Sons
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Durable, versatile bands for resistance and flexibility training, March 20, 2015
I received these in exchange for an honest review. I was immediately pleased by the sturdiness of all of the band's, particularly the light band; usually bands are so flimsy that they break easily.

Although these did not come with instructions (which is why it lost a point), I was able to use them for a variety of lower body strength training exercises, including one-off squats, lunges, leg circles and the Pilates side series. It was also useful for some upper body work, particularly for the rotator cuff. Perhaps most enjoyable of all, it was great to stretch my lower body with.

While not an essential piece of equipment for the home exerciser, one that will enhance your home workout.

L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Volume Filler Daily Volumizing Moisturizer, 1.7 Ounce
L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Volume Filler Daily Volumizing Moisturizer, 1.7 Ounce
Price: $19.97
15 used & new from $13.93

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take care with sensitive skin, March 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had some trouble testing this because when I first put a very small amount on, it stung. I did notice, however, that my skin felt as if it had something on it two days after I'd applied it (and yes, I had washed my face). The effect was a little powdery, but it also felt smoother (and I don't have any complaints about the smoothness of my skin).

I did not use this during the day as it would be too much under my sunscreen, but I did use it at night. I would recommend this to anyone who wanted an effective night cream, but I can't endorse the claims about volumizing.

Ares: Bringer of War (Olympians)
Ares: Bringer of War (Olympians)
by George O'Connor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.18
73 used & new from $4.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From where does war get its nature?, February 19, 2015
Let's get the basics out of the way: this is the story of Ares told through one of the most bloody stories in all Greek mythology, The Trojan War aka the Iliad. As O'Connor notes, he begins his tale in the same place that Homer did, after Achilles has tantrumed off the field of battle. O'Connor follows the story through, down to the abominations the Greeks wrought on the Trojans after they were victorious. (For more on that, see The War at Troy: What Homer Didn't Tell.) Yes, O'Connor's illustrations and story-telling are as impressive as ever.

The series opened with Zeus, and eventually all of the other books have come back to him. This book is no different. O'Connor hinted in the story of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, that Zeus was playing the long game, and in the story of Ares (god of war and Aphrodite's lover), it's fascinating to see who gets that and why.

The story opens with Ares listening to one of his sons cursing him for being indifferent to his fate. If only; the same irrationality and bloodlust that drive him to dip his hands into gore make him among the more attached parents on Olympus. Unlike Zeus or Poseidon, he doesn't see his children as potential pawns but as attachments of himself. Ares is destructive, but he is also passionate, in destruction and in love.

This wasn't strictly Ares' show; as many readers know, just about every Olympian with the exception of Hestia picked a side in the war and eventually came to blows themselves over it. Of all of the other gods, Athena was the one I couldn't stop reflecting on. For a goddess synonymous with wisdom and cunning, she is surprisingly (dare I say it) hot-tempered and arrogant. The goddess known for her skill at manipulating others is blind to the fact that she has been manipulated, and the weapon used against her was her pride. In that way, she's the parallel to Achilles, the strong but ill-fated hero of the Greeks, and not the clever Odysseus, who doesn't play much of a role in this story. You leave this story with a lot less respect for Athena than you had in other books, which leaves us with the awful, deflated feeling that the only thing that's left after the Trojan War is power (Zeus) and destruction (Ares). Now guess which one has more integrity?

Impatiently awaiting the next installment

Stages & Thieves (Semya Slotin Mystery Book 5)
Stages & Thieves (Semya Slotin Mystery Book 5)
Price: $3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All kinds of thieves in this one, February 19, 2015
Semya Slotin's strength has always been her gut instincts (her super intelligence is an added bonus). But when she's struggling with both grief and impending motherhood, those instincts might be a little dull. She knows that her lover Vincent is still alive, but nothing else is as sharp as it used to be. Being an orphaned outsider is finally starting to catch up with her, and her spats with her partner-in-crime Polliannah aren't helping anything. So maybe indulging the manipulative CIA agent who wants to offer her information in exchange for something really dangerous isn't a good idea, but suddenly Ms. Slotin is a little more desperate than she used to be.

Two crime families- in Moscow, of all places- would be dangerous enough. Throw in a couple of jealous mob wives, a long-lost father and a police commissioner/former agent who's starting to get a clue about what his former agency was *really* doing and you've got a lot of drama. But all that's irrelevant, ultimately. The real question: is Semya going to end up more alone than when she started out, or is she finally going to convince people that just maybe her gut isn't as rusty as it might seem?

Loved it, of course, and read it all in one sitting. (Good thing that was a snow day, because the scenes between Polli and said former agent were h-o-t.) My favorite part of all though was the reunion between Semya and her father. (And if you ever wondered where the name "Semya" came from, you're going to find out.) Here's hoping Sam Dovos isn't too dirty so he can stick around for the next books...and boy do I hope we find out (or confirm) why Ulrich Edgerton needed to ruin Semya's family's life.

Desperately awaiting book six.

*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

That Old Black Magic (The Lizzie Hart Mysteries) (Volume 2)
That Old Black Magic (The Lizzie Hart Mysteries) (Volume 2)
by Caroline Fardig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.79
11 used & new from $10.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from a master of hilarious mysteries, February 3, 2015
It's not Lizzie Hart's fault trouble keeps finding her, but maybe she can figure out how to get out of her own way once in a while?

Lizzie hasn't even finished her bagel on her first day back at work before someone (else) is found dead. Unfortunately, this time she's well-acquainted with both the victim and the accused murderer. Because Lizzie can't catch a break, this case is going to put her back into the orbit of her hot ex-boyfriend Lee just as she's ready to take things to the next level with her even hotter almost-boyfriend Blake. Good: she might get to work through some of the issues that have left her more than a little closed off with Blake; bad: she might not be able to resist Lee as well as she thought she could.

Not enough complications? Then how about the fact that the latest murders have a distinctly creepy occult angle to them and if Lizzie wants to clear an innocent person she's going to have to infiltrate a coven. And from there...hilarity ensues.

Once again, Fardig made me laugh til I cried in a number of the scenes. Lizzie gets the prize for one of the most awkward first dates ever, and without giving too much away, never has a breaking and entering been so funny. (And both her stupid car and psycho co-worker returns for yet more cringe-worthiness.) Plenty of serious moments- your heart might break at the end- but overall you'll chortle through another clever mystery.

Recommended for fans of chick lot, comedy and mysteries.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Lost Youth
Lost Youth
by Robert Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
5 used & new from $11.98

2.0 out of 5 stars Okay premise hurt by old-fashioned dialogue., January 14, 2015
This review is from: Lost Youth (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found the dialogue stilted and old-fashioned (in fairness, this seems to be an issue with mysteries). The premise was interesting enough, but the detective was almost too smart; take some time to develop some points rather than talk/logic through to them.

The Good Suicides: A Thriller
The Good Suicides: A Thriller
by Toni Hill Gumbao
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.04
98 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A good suicide makes things easier for those left behind, January 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Hector Salgado has yet another gut punch of a case to solve in Barcelona: the suicides of three employees of the same cosmetics company. They all attended the same company retreat, and they all came across something incredibly disturbing. But is that enough to cause three people to take their own lives?

Meanwhile, Hector is also trying to piece together what happened to his estranged wife Ruth six months before at the end of The Summer of Dead Toys. His nemesis claimed responsibility- but he's dead. With him died his best chance for resolving the case...or did it? Leire Castro, his impetuous subordinate, needs something to do while waiting for her son to be born, and working on this case sounds like the perfect pastime. But what Leire hasn't counted is how deeply she has to get into Ruth's life in order to retrace her steps on her last day; as she does so, she begins to understand why Hector couldn't let her go after she left him. But what is she going to do with a shocking piece of information that even Salgado was unaware of?

Salgado has six and then five suspects to work through. He understands very quickly that their motive is the same (even if he doesn't know at first what it is). It's the psychological make up of each individual- and the dynamics of the group itself- that are going to be key to solving it. The leader, the ingenue, the good soldier, the experienced commander, the bumbling newbie or the heiress...or is Salgado not looking hard enough where he should be?

Whereas the mystery in The Summer of Dead Toys backed up from the center and circled around itself before coming to a resolution, the answer here can be better described as linear; once Salgado figures out what the case is really about, the answer comes pretty quickly. In that way, this wasn't a perfect mystery; finding out who was behind the deaths wasn't as satisfying as it could have been (although the motivation was heartbreaking). Also, while the clue as to what really happened during the company retreat did make sense, it felt a little too easily resolved. And *the* question, which the fate of five people seemed to hinge on, wasn't explicitly answered, although the reader might appreciate who answered it and why. If I could, I would give this 4.5 stars instead of 5.

Other than Ruth, The Good Suicides makes almost no mention of the The Summer of Dead Toys. However, the pathetic imagery (both human and animal) that haunts Salgado is reminiscent of the chilling tableaus encountered in the first book: something vulnerable that never stood a chance in life but whose existence points to something evil. As much as Salgado is trying to come to terms with the complicated, corrupt world he inhabits and present a veneer of calm, with each book the reader begins to understand that this is just a facade. The truth about the first suicide is something that stay with both the reader and Hector for a while, no matter how much he tries to "celebrate" after solving the case.

It is the last page, really the last sentence, that insured that I will read and devour the sequel. I did see it coming in the chapters right before it, but it still took my breath away. Suffice to say, Ruth's disappearance is more intimately connected to Hector than even he is aware.

Despite my complaints, I could not put this down; I read the entire book in one day, staying up well past my bed time in order to do so. Those who like international mysteries with a big helping of psychology will want to carve time out of their schedule for this as well.

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