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I've loved books my entire life and have amassed a relatively large in-home library. I read mostly genre fiction, with a penchant for mysteries and stories with a paranormal or fantasy-ish twist. For the last several years, I've been choosing my reading material almost exclusively from among books aimed at children (including picture books) and young adults. Those I most enjoy are added to my library to be shared with my grandchildren. It is one of my greatest life goals to help foster in them the same love for reading that has made my own life so much richer - and so much more fun!
Taste: OK - fairly sweet
Energy Boost: Maybe a little? Certainly nothing worth the...
Calories: Yikes! 260 in the can. Of course, the can is supposed to contain 2 servings, something that never seems to work well in this packaging (non-resealable aluminum can). For that matter, even 130 calories is more than I'd be happy with.
Bottom line: Not for me. I think I'll just keep taking my B Complex vitamin with a cup of green tea when that desire for a nap hits me at around 2:00 pm.
While, overall, I like this supplement, I would urge new users to proceed slowly with it and to really pay attention to their body's reactions to it. I would also suggest taking the time to read Jeri Zerr's review here on Amazon before purchasing. Zerr's review gives a good overview on the product and the substances it contains - important information to have.
Even though I'm satisfied with MuscleTech, my own experiences with it have been a bit mixed. I take it very early in the day - about 4:00 am - before heading out for my morning walk with my dog. The first two days I took it, I got quite shaky, but not until about 9:00 am. The shakiness lasted for less than 30 minutes, but it was enough that I stopped taking the product for a few days before giving it another try. I haven't experienced the shakiness again.
In the few weeks that I've been using MuscleTech, I've increased the distance of my morning walk from 3 miles to 5 miles. I do think that MuscleTech has helped me with this transition and can report that I finish the walk at a brisk speed and feel like I would have no trouble going a couple more miles. I also feel more energized throughout the rest of the morning, but continue to feel that 2:00 in the afternoon need for a nap. :) MuscleTech has not affected my sleep; of course, I would never consider taking it later in the day than 10:00 am. I also have no intention of increasing the dosage as suggested on the product label to 2 or 3 capsules daily.
Bottom line for me? I thought it was helpful in increasing stamina and energy and will continue to use for now, but would not consider it for long-term use or use at higher doses. Recommended, but suggest proceeding with caution.
This gate proved to be just what I was looking for - sturdy, easy to assemble, install and operate and much nicer looking than the more usual wood or plastic baby gates. Since I don't need to have access to my project room restricted at all times (only to keep my dog - or a visiting dog - out of the room for short periods), the stay-open feature is a nice bonus. Being able to walk-through rather than climb-over is making me a very happy camper.
This is the 8th entry in the Just Grace series narrated by (you guessed it) Grace, a 3rd grader who manages to come across as a relatively normal kid leading a relatively normal life. A talented artist, Grace enhances her stories with cartoons, illustrating everything from favorite t-shirts to maps of her neighborhood. The drawings add a great graphic element (even though I wish the accompanying text was just a tiny bit larger). Grace is a likeable girl, with involved parents and friends of both sexes. Her lack of brattiness will please parents and the situations that make up the plots will ring true with young readers.
In this volume, Grace is excited about the upcoming wedding of her good friend Augustine Dupres, but disappointed that she doesn't get to be the flower girl and worried about finding a great present for the wedding. With the help of her friends and her dog, Grace comes up with a memorable gift idea that she is sure will make the bride happy.
While there are some continuing storylines, the books work as standalones. In order, the series includes:
Still Just Grace
Just Grace Walks the Dog
Just Grace Goes Green
Just Grace and the Snack Attack
Just Grace and the Terrible Tutu
Just Grace and the Double Surprise
Just Grace and the Flower Girl Power
My seven year old granddaughter really enjoys these books, but two of her younger cousins are less enthusiastic and, to be honest, all three prefer Sara Pennypacker's Clementine series (begins with Clementine). Even though I tend to agree with them on this point, the Just Grace books are fun to read and I recommend them.
I've been waiting a long time for the Father Dowling Mysteries to come to DVD. It was one of my favorite series during its original run from 1989 - 1991. Along with "Murder, She Wrote" I considered it a sort of comfort-TV. (Like comfort food in a way, only without the calories!) I could count on both shows for an hour of decent entertainment with likable characters, (mostly) solid writing and pleasant casts.
The Father Dowling Mysteries didn't enjoy the long run of Murder, She Wrote and the wait for it to come to DVD has been considerably longer. Unfortunately, now that it's finally been released, the quality of the DVDs isn't what I had hoped it would be. I knew I wasn't going to get Blu-ray quality, but I expected the episodes to look a little better than they did on my VHS tapes when they were newly recorded and they just - don't. Not really. A couple of the episodes (The Missing Body Mystery, for instance) look overly dark and a bit muddy in places and even have some odd moments where the picture jerks a little. (Forgive my techy-talk.)
Aside from a promo for each episode - "Next on the Father Dowling Mysteries..." (which are of even poorer quality than the episodes) - there are no extras. There are, however, English subtitles.
The case is just as bare-bones as the DVDs. A brief synopsis of each episode is included, but it's printed on the reverse side of the case art. That means that, unless you remove the insert from the case, you're reading the synopsis text through the plastic and some of it is obscured by the doohickies that hold the discs in place.
While I was disappointed in the quality of the DVD and the packaging, I really enjoyed spending time with Father Dowling (Tom Bosley) and Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson) again and was quickly reminded of how much Mary Wickes as the housekeeper, Marie, added to the series.
Included in this 2-disc set is "Fatal Confession", the original television pilot which aired in November of 1987, in which Father Dowling and Sister Steve investigate the apparent suicide of a former parishioner.
The set also includes all episodes from the first season:
* The Missing Body Mystery (2-hour episode) - After a man dies in the confessional, his body disappears, only to turn up across town. The investigation leads to a confrontation with the FBI.
* What Do You Call a Call Girl Mystery - Three powerful men are suspects in the murder of a prostitute.
* The Man Who Came to Dinner Mystery - Star Tracy Nelson's real-life grandmother, Harriet (from Ozzie & Harriet fame) and her then-husband William R. Moses guest star in an episode where Moses has witnessed a murder and is now being hunted by the murderers.
* The Mafia Priest Mystery (parts 1 & 2) - When a fellow priest, who has family ties to the mob, is accused of murder, Father Dowling tries to prove his innocence.
* The Face in the Mirror Mystery: When Father Dowling's no-good half-brother (also played by Bosley) turns up, Frank is able to thwart his attempted crime, but their resemblance to one another causes trouble.
* The Pretty Baby Mystery: After a baby is left at the rectory, Father Dowling and Sister Steve try to help the mother, whose life is in danger.
The Father Dowling Mysteries was a good series with an appealing cast. I'm glad it has finally come to DVD. But, IMHO, the poor quality of this release doesn't do the series justice, which is a darn shame. I hope that seasons 2 & 3 are created with a closer eye to quality.
During the winter months, I wear Microspikes daily while walking my dog along country roads and through fields (no sidewalks in my tiny town). They have kept me steady and upright over snow and ice and have helped make walking in the winter just as pleasant as it is in other seasons. It's wonderful to be able to enjoy the time with my dog and the often stunning winter landscape without having to worry about slipping, sliding or falling - even if my dog gives an unexpected tug or wants to do a bit of romping around me. (He LOVES snow!) I've even experimented by TRYING to make my foot slide across various surfaces - ice, hard-packed snow, powder over ice, slush, etc. - while wearing these and have been unable to do so. In addition, the design of Microspikes has kept them firmly on my feet if we venture into deeper snow; this was not always the case with Yaktrax Pro, a product I've used - and really liked - in the past. (On several occasions, I lost a Yaktrax in deep snow and had to retrace my steps to retrieve it.)
Microspikes have helped keep winter accessible to me - something I really appreciate.
Very highly recommended.
Note: Make sure you check the various listings on Amazon before ordering - price can vary substantially.
The Future Door is the second book in author Jason Lethcoe's No Place Like Holmes series. Set in London - and elsewhere - around the turn of the century, the story features the brilliant young Griffin Sharpe and his uncle, Rupert Snodgrass, an inventor who longs to be a detective as famous as his former neighbor, Sherlock Holmes. (Holmes has recently retired and has taken up the hobby of beekeeping.) The story opens with Griffin and Rupert - who have received word that Griffin's parents have been kidnapped - sailing for America, where they hope to rescue the couple. Once they arrive, someone tries to kill them, they discover that Griffin's parents are fine and that they have been lured to America so that Professor Moriarty and his nephew, Nigel, can set some evil afoot back in England.
Lethcoe's premise is good. The idea of a bright kid following in Holmes footsteps appealed to me and time-travel can make for any number of interesting plot twists. And, even though he never struck me a particularly kid-like and I didn't understand the several references to his "sad eyes", Griffin seemed to be a decent enough character - one that could grow on me over time. But, as the story progressed, some plot issue arose and I began to find it increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief and let myself sink into the story.
- I just didn't buy all of Griffin's keen observations of the person trying to kill him in Boston (identifying the manufacturer of the gloves she wore and the specific type of blade that made the scar on her face). I understand wanting to show us the he has skills similar to those of Holmes, but the circumstances didn't seem to lend themselves to some of these details.
- Even though Rupert was convinced he couldn't stop the Moriartys without Griffin's help, how could Griffin's parents let THIER CHILD return to London when they knew someone was trying to kill him? Even if they felt he must go, how could they not go with him?
- How did Rupert and H.G. Wells know that they had sent a sparrow into the future?
- It may have taken Rupert 25 years to invent and build the time machine, but why on earth would it take him that long to build another? Once you know how...
- The forward/backward in time switch that gave them absolutely no control over HOW FAR backward or forward they went? A very sticky plot issue.
I think Lethcoe has talent and that this series has potential. At this point, though, I think they both need a bit of polishing.
I've had mixed success with Ellen Potter books. While I thoroughly enjoyed The Kneebone Boy (and would love to hear that Potter is hard at work penning the further adventures of these characters), I found Olivia Kidney disappointing. Pish Posh fell somewhere between the two. And it's somewhere in that middle ground that The Humming Room seems to have landed as well.
Potter has set her reimagining of The Secret Garden on an island in the St. Lawrence River. Her writing is solid - sometimes wonderful - and the atmospheric settings she has created, including the island house, the river, some of Roo's hiding places and the domed garden are outstanding.
Unfortunately, I felt the characterizations didn't quite live up to the terrific atmosphere. Even Roo, the central character, never struck me as completely fleshed out - though she had much more depth than the other characters, most of whom seemed fairly one-dimensional. I found this most aggravating in the case of Jack, Roo's river-loving friend. Because I thought he had so much potential and was so intriguing, the fact that I never really learned much about him disappointed me.
I enjoyed The Humming Room and felt the time I spent reading it was time well spent, hence the 4 stars. But I wanted to love it and I didn't.
Wildwood sounded right up my alley - a middle grade/YA fantasy with a focus on adventure over romance. But this story never drew me in, taking me ages to finish (rarely, if ever, a good sign). I found many of the characters more annoying than engaging and I disliked Prue's parents intensely. On top of that, the fantasy world lacked, IMHO, some essential element that would have made it truly magical - a place I would love to visit or learn more about.
And though it doesn't really have anything to do with the book itself, the description of it as "the epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger--nothing less than an American Narnia" struck me as more than a bit grandiose.
Overall, I found Wildwood difficult to enjoy and very tough to finish. A real disappointment for a story that sounded so promising.
Absolutely delicious cookies - crisp & crunchy, but not hard; sweet, but not too much so. Since a lot of the gluten-free foods I've tried have left (IMHO) something to be desired, these were a very pleasant surprise. The grandkids love them too - a true test of cookie goodness.
I can buy these locally for about $3 per 5.5 ounce box. I offer this info so that buyers can decide if Amazon's current price, whatever it may be, is a bargain.