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The Magical World of Sebella: Legend of Halloween
The Magical World of Sebella: Legend of Halloween
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical, Sometimes Bumpy Journey to Halloween with our heroine Sebella!, September 14, 2014
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Sebella is back and better than ever! This time, Sebella, her brother Drac, cranky cousin Prudence, frightened friend Kendall, and Sebella's grandmother all go on a wild, wondrous adventure to ensure that the most exciting day of the year, Halloween, comes to pass. I must confess, I am an adult, a teacher, and the aunt of a seven year old niece and I enjoyed this second book by children's author Thea Berg even more than the first one! Yes, I admit , I adore Halloween and the child in me is definitely alive but it is Ms. Berg's amazing talents in bringing alive each unique character and creating imagery so vivid that anyone - adults, and children 7 and up, will be enchanted by this book. I don't want to give the plot away, but suffice it to say Ms. berg has created many magical worlds in this book - from a humorous and magical cafe to a technicolor garden of candy (complete with angry gum balls) to a swamp and three wolves who are the key to celebrating the best Halloween ever. I truly believe any child 7 and older will greatly enjoy both this book, and Ms. Berg's first book in the Sebella series. I recommended reading the first book, as it will familiarize you with the characters, so unique in their personalities. However if you choose to pick up this book alone you will easily find yourself able to immediately fall into the magical worlds Ms. Berg has created, along with her often amusing characters. I spend a great deal of time looking for good, well-written children's book and I highly recommend both of the Sebella books. You will find yourself, your students, or child, or niece or nephew, transmitted to worlds you wish were real. Truly an outstanding read. I believe Ms. Berg has an incredibly bright future ahead of her in the world of children's literature.

Fancy Feast Appetizers Natural White Meat Chicken and Shredded Beef Cat Food, 2-Ounce Pouch, Pack of 10
Fancy Feast Appetizers Natural White Meat Chicken and Shredded Beef Cat Food, 2-Ounce Pouch, Pack of 10
Offered by Best-Online-Experiences
Price: $23.86
7 used & new from $23.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My cat adores the chicken and beef! It's a HIT!!!, October 4, 2013
I have an 18 1/2 year old cat who was diagnosed with chronic renal failure - almost two years ago. She is an amazing survivor but has gotten very picky about what she eats and lost weight/muscle mass due to the nature of kidney disease. I decided to try the Fancy Feast Chicken and Beef appetizer to encourage her to eat a bit more and she adores it! It's great for her - lower in protein, has added fat and broth (liquids are good for her kidneys!) It is a smaller amount of food than a regular can of Fancy Feast (hence the term appetizer) but doesn't have a lot of crazy ingredients with names you can't pronounce. Given to a cat along with a well-balanced diet is ideal.

The Magical World of Sebella
The Magical World of Sebella
by Thea Berg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.99
18 used & new from $3.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Ride into a Magical Adventure, May 31, 2013
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What a delightful book! I am a teacher and just finished reading "The Magical World of Sebella: The Magic Castle" - I can't wait to share it with students and also with my niece! First-time children's author Thea Berg has created a whimsical and magical world where four children (with some special powers) must do their best to save the magic castle. What follows is an adventurous, funny story filled with ghosts, dragons, spells and more! The characters are well-defined, the story has a rapid pace that keeps the reader intrigued and wanting to find out what's going to happen next. At times witty and clever, and always entertaining, I highly recommend this book for elementary school children. I can't wait to read Thea Berg's next book! She is truly a writer who understands children and has created a world of fun in this book!

Attempting Normal
Attempting Normal
by Marc Maron
Edition: Hardcover
62 used & new from $1.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Alternately Depressing and Hysterical, May 11, 2013
This review is from: Attempting Normal (Hardcover)
I have to admit that I've never heard one of Marc Maron's WTF Podcasts, nor have I seen him do stand-up. I'd only recently heard his name somewhere and then one day happened upon his tremendously honest, at times searingly despairing but ultimately hysterical as Hell book, "Attempting Normal." I think I loved this book so much because it reminded me so much of myself. Except I am not a Jewish male comedian who masturbates ALL THE TIME.

Marc is brutally honest about himself, as a man, and a comedian. He freely admits to being neurotic, having anger issues, having an inability to form healthy relationships with women and his odd fascination with feral cats. He is wickedly smart, and definitely too self-aware for his own good. But it's his self-loathing, his teetering on the brink of bitterness, his sincere desire to become a better human being after two failed marriages (even if it's only in his own head) that gives the reader a glimpse into the tortured but hysterical world of Marc Maron.

Parts of this book were depressing to ME - Marc is a highly introspective, intelligent man who needs to stay of out his own head more. His observations on break-ups, loneliness, addiction, porn, success, failure and his own shortcomings really push the reader to a place of self-identification. Maybe it was just me.

On the other hand, there were parts of this book where I laughed so hard I was in tears and almost peed my pants. It's totally worth it for these parts alone. His take on Viagra had tears streaming down my face, and his "near-death" experience on a rocky flight to Cleveland will haunt me forever - in a good, laugh-out-loud way, as I too am a nervous flier. I almost can't wait to fly again to try out Marc's shtick on the plane. His insane hoarding of feral cats, his brush with "mouth cancer" and his advice on how to act in a Whole Foods - these are all priceless, funnier than all get out reads.

I highly, highly recommend this book. Marc is a 49 year old Jewish comedian from the East coast; I am a 46 year old WASP from L.A. and yet I felt he WAS me in this book. Except for the masturbation. Be prepared. There's a lot of it.

Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy
Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy
by Bret Witter
Edition: Hardcover
159 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of Life, April 7, 2013
Susan Spencer-Wendel appeared to have a charmed life. Well-educated, well-traveled, a mother of three, and married to the handsome love of her life, Spencer-Wendel was a successful journalist in Florida living a sun-drenched life many would envy. She has an adoring sister, a fantastic best friend. A great dog. A lovely home. By her own admission, she rarely if ever got sick - the sickest she'd ever been was due to a bad chicken sandwich she consumed.

And then everything changed. First it was her withered left hand. Then odd weakness in her muscles. Fatigue. Twitches. She was a woman in her forties - surely it couldn't be anything terribly serious. But it was. The suspect was ALS - a degenerative neurological disorder aka Lou Gehrig's disease. The muscles weaken and weaken and there is no real treatment, no cure. She had, perhaps, 3-5 years to live. Her suspicions were confirmed - she had ALS.

How would you react knowing you had perhaps a year of health left - before your body began to weaken and betray you in the worst ways? Susan chose - she CHOSE to spend her remaining time getting all the joy she could out of life. She took trips - too see the Northern Lights with her best friend Nancy. A trip to Hungary with her husband. As an adopted child she met her birth mother and traveled to Cyprus at least twice to meet the family of her deceased biological father Panos. She sought out her roots. She took her 14 year old daughter to New York to the famous bridal dress store Kleinfeld's to try on bridal gowns. She knew she would never see her daughter married. She swam with dolphins, watched the space shuttle, took trips with her sons.

As the months pass and she pushes herself on these trips, her ALS symptoms become more and more debilitating. Yet she perseveres. She spruces up her home. She builds a Chickie hut in her Florida backyard. She is failing physically - and yes, she has her moments where she admits she's cried. She takes Lexapro - her "happy pill" - an antidepressant. She mourns when she had to retire from her job. She is not a robot. But she NEVER wallows in self-pity. She doesn't spend her remaining time railing at the unfairness of it all. She truly tries to suck the joy out of everything - from a day on a gorgeous beach in Cyprus to a party thrown for her friends to celebrate her Chickie hut.

She does not spend a great deal of time chronicling her ALS in this book. Instead it reads like a beautiful celebration of life, a love-letter to her husband, sister, friends and children. I was in awe of her amazing attitude. She is no Pollyanna but he has made a conscious choice to live her last days in joy. She has inspired me greatly. We are almost the same age. I wonder how I would react, given the devastating news I had ALS.

I hope it would be with half the courage, the grace and dignity Susan Spencer-Wendel has. She is a remarkable woman and I am better for having read her story.

An Appointment With Mr. Yeats
An Appointment With Mr. Yeats
Price: $11.99
61 used & new from $6.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music from Mike Scott and The Waterboys, April 1, 2013
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I have loved the music of Mike Scott and The Waterboys for over two decades. Their latest CD is gorgeous! A beautiful combination if Yeats' words and Scott's music - truly mesmerizing. Poetry and lush guitars, lovely melodies...if you are a Waterboys fan this is a must-have!

All That Is Bitter & Sweet: A Memoir
All That Is Bitter & Sweet: A Memoir
by Ashley Judd
Edition: Hardcover
169 used & new from $0.01

110 of 133 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected, April 28, 2011
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I see that I'm not alone when I expected this book to be a biography and/or memoir. It wasn't that I was looking for the 'dirt' on the Judds; I'd just always liked Ashley Judd and wanted to read about her life. The chapters she does spend writing about her life are interesting and definitely heartbreaking; she appears to have been a very neglected child in a hugely dysfunctional family. However the majority of her long, long, long book is dedicated to her charity work with the foundation she works with, PSI. Although there's nothing wrong with reading about some of her charity work, this book was in sore need of a decent editor. It's simply too long. It's rife with information many of us already know...for example, that AIDS/HIV is an epidemic in third world countries. That women are subject to sexual slavery. That children are sold for sex. Really? She just rambles on and on and on about it until sadly, I was numbed to the suffering she saw and/or experienced. Although she comes off in some areas as a very humble person, in other areas she seems very arrogant and elitist. She tends to brag about her education, her 'four minors' and 'honors courses' in college, as if the rest of us haven't done anything nearly as great as what she's done. She also seems to fancy herself a great intellect. One of the saddest parts of the book is when she practically bites the head off of an innocent woman who thought she was on safari in Africa when she was really there for her charity work. I think she was downright cruel to that woman. Where's your humanity now Ashley? I really wish I hadn't bought the book and will be donating it it to charity.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2013 2:07 PM PDT

Cliffs of Despair: A Journey to the Edge
Cliffs of Despair: A Journey to the Edge
by Tom Hunt
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting and Elegant Glimpse into The Abyss, February 25, 2006
Tom Hunt's beautifully written Cliffs of Despair is both a study of physical geography (Beachy Head, a seaside promotory and chalky cliff in England which is supposedly the third most popular suicide spot in the world) and a compassionate, sensitive and inquiring look into the mysterious and painful geography of the suicidal mind. This is indeed, as author Andrew Solomon states, "an elegy for everyone who has committed suicide."

Hunt left his family and job as an English teacher in America to travel to Beachy Head to try and find answers to the unanswerable - why Beachy Head? Why suicide? Hunt's prose quietly transfers the reader to the very site of Beachy Head; one can almost feel the cold winds of the sea air, and staring at the photograph of Beachy Head on the cover, one can almost imagine standing at the ledge, looking down at an unimaginably frightening sheer drop. Hunt himself seemed frightened of his momentary urge to run off the cliff; an urge I had as well looking at it - an urge that seems, if not universal, shared by many, for reasons known and unknown. Undoubtedly Hunt was touched significantly by the suicide of his schizophrenic brother-in-law, whom he writes about with gentleness and grace. He methodically seeks out answers from locals who live and work near Beachy Head (and who by and large don't seem to want to talk about its macabre notoriety): pub workers and patrons, cab drivers who often unknowingly drive people to the site of their demise, rescue workers who have the unenviable and often dangerous task of recovering the bodies of those who jumped, the coroner, and even a man who survived the jump, only to come out of it sans depression, but paralyzed from the waist down.

Hunt almost seems more interested in the question of why suicide, rather than why suicide at Beachy Head, and indeed, for part of the book, he reflects on suicide, the concepts of sanity, insanity, mental illness, physical illness, the countless reasons (both serious and banal) why people take their own lives. Hunt ends his personal inquiry with a compassionate and non-judgmental look at those who made the choice to jump into the abyss. Indeed, his compassion is almost palpable; this is a highly sensitive man who is simply trying to understand the place the suicidal mind travels to - a place that is ultimately unreachable to him.

Cliffs of Despair's saddest and most poignant moments are perhaps found in Hunt's relationship with the family of a young man who, depressed and upset over a thwarted love affair, jumped to his death at Beachy Head. Hunt stays with the family, talks with them, listens to their searing grief and heartache, sits in silence with the unspoken 'why's.' He returns to the visit the family a year later, sleeping in the dead man's bed, pondering those 'what if's' and 'why's' that so many survivors of suicide obsess upon.

There are no answers to be found in this study of the intersection of geography and unbearable pain: the 'why's' will always remain, much like the sheer, chalky cliff that has invited the death of over 500 people in the last 30 years. Long after you finish Cliffs of Despair, the feeling of falling will haunt you and the images and words Tom Hunt constructed will cut through your consciousness much like the cold winds that blow across the dispassionate cliff face of Beachy Head.

The Year of Magical Thinking
The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.22
739 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life of Magical Thinking, January 17, 2006
Joan Didion's brutally raw, sparse, yet unsparing account of the sudden death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne in December of 2003 gives us a heartbreaking glimpse into the mind of a woman who is practically rendered incoherent in the aftermath of his death. I found Didion's prose slightly rambling, messy and incoherent - as if it needed better editing or was simply her private diary published for the world to see. The book is, at times, frustratingly hard to follow; Didion's obvious cognitive defects due to extreme shock and grief seem the most logical explanation for my problem with this. She seems to vacillate between emotion and intellect. Indeed, her intellectualizing on both her husband's death and her beloved daughter Quintana's grave illness can be off-putting. Didion often writes like the 'cool customer' she was accused of being by the social worker who met her at the hospital after John's death. Yes, sometimes the book comes off cold, impersonal, and overly analytical. And yet one must realize however, that this is not a self-help book on grief, this is not an inspirational tale meant to provide hope, catharsis or any other kind of uplifting feeling for the reader. This is not a religious or philosophical tome on the nature of death or grief. It is simply one woman's story about the manner in which she traversed the treacherous geography of grieving her life partner's death. That is where Didion shines here: in the simple telling of her story.

Yes,people react to death in countless ways. You expect someone to cry when their child commits suicide and yet they sit there stoically. Perhaps this is simply Didion's way of coping. The book is much like grief: often rambling, incoherent at places, sometimes too intellectual, and messy. Yet when Didion recalls her marriage to her husband of almost 40 years, their symbiotic relationship (he would often finish her sentences), her daughter's illness, the geography of her past in California (which haunted her as she drove around Los Angeles while her daughter was at UCLA Medical Center), the shoes she keeps so John can wear them when he returns, she breaks your heart. There are indeed moments where Joan lets the curtain of stoicism, intellect and analytical reasoning open for a brief moment, and we are privy to the theater of her raw, unadulterated sadness.

I wonder too, if one really does have to experience a tragic loss to fully comprehend the insanity that takes over you. Didion begins her book:

"Life changes fast.

Life changes in the instant.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

The question of self-pity."

Didion beautifully expresses her 'magical thinking' - that John will come back and need his shoes that she cannot seem to think of herself as a widow. And how can it be that the world still spins around while she is rendered almost crazy in her grief?

The book is rife with Didion's memories, which indeed include some 'name-dropping' and perhaps even a little snobbishness. I don't believe Didion did meant to do anything other than describe her life with John and Quintana. John bought clothes at Richard Carroll's in Beverly Hills, and they lived in Malibu and Brentwood, and Quintana went to the exclusive (now called) Harvard-Westlake school. They made soufflés with Katherine Ross. This was her life; these are the memories that flood her mind as she reels from the loss of John and the trials and tribulations of dealing with an ill child. This is her story. I cannot fault her for living in Malibu or Brentwood or staying at the Beverly Wilshire; this is her reality, her story. We all have our own stories.

I have only one problem with Didion, and yet perhaps it is a problem we all share. She did seem to live in a rarified world of ease; it seemed like she and her family lived a charmed life...until they didn't. Problems could be solved with a phone call, money was available, stays at the Beverly Wilshire were commonplace, fancy dinners out were common, and things could be fixed. Until they couldn't. Denial. It stuns me that Didion seems to have lived her entire life with magical thinking. What I most felt after reading this book was a sense of disbelief. Did Didion truly believe she and her family were immune from the losses or tragedies that befall most of us, at one point or another? With John's medical history, and his seemingly odd premonition of impending death, Joan seems to have perfected the art of denial. A cool customer indeed. And yet I cannot be too hard on her; denial is a powerful thing. She writes in her book, on page 11:

"In the kitchen by the telephone I had taped a card with the New-York Presbyterian ambulance numbers. I had not taped the numbers by the telephone because I anticipated a moment like this. I had taped the numbers by the telephone in case someone in the building needed an ambulance.

Someone else."

Ah, there's the rub. It's always someone else, isn't it? Even with John's history of heart problems, it would never be them. And then it was. And so ended Joan's lifetime of magical thinking, and the world in which she lived. Tragically, her beloved daughter Quintana died last August; it is almost incomprehensible to me how she is surviving such another blow. And yet this time, I suspect her world of magical thinking is gone, a place she can never return to. Yes, this book is a bit choppy, a bit rambling, at times even incoherent and even boring with the minutiae of scientific and medical details. But underneath it all is a universal and simple story of a woman whose soul was seemingly torn asunder by loss. I recommend this book to all those who have experienced loss and for those who want to read about one woman's story of grief, and all who are willing to face the brutal reality that perhaps we are all, by nature, guilty of magical thinking, until the day we become Someone else, and the ambulance comes for us. Not an easy read, but well worth it.

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