The Real Deal

Have You Ever Wondered... Is that certain book really good? Does that product really work? So have I. From Indie authors and musicians to local products or nationally advertised, I can't tell you the countless products I've bought as seen on TV only to find out that they don't work at my house, the book was really a bunch of hype, the music was not what I had hoped for or a movie was a yawn. If you want an honest opinion, you will find it here. Although I do lots of book reviews, I also check out lots of other products and let you know if they really live up to their ads or their hype. Stay tuned, and check in often. You never know what I'm going to talk about next.


How Do You Become Unstoppable?

I had seen Nick Vujicic (pronounced Voo-yi-chich) on You Tube before I found out about his book.  But once I saw it, it was on my mind for days until it showed up.
All of us have had or will eventually have challenges that will threaten to completely undo us. Loss of loved ones, loss of job, an unforeseen event. We come to a cross roads where a decision must be made: to be crushed, limp along or become unstoppable. UNSTOPPABLE is the newest book by Nick a man born with no arms or legs who used the challenges of his own life to encourage others.
It is at times laugh-out-loud funny, and other parts had me in tears. He addresses many difficulties facing many people today including personal crises, bullying, self-destructive thoughts, emotions and addictions as well as relationship issues. Along with his unswerving belief  that God made each of us unique and for a purpose, ha share  amazing personal tales of faith in action. Not only that, Nick has been a speaker around the world, and has brought back incredible stories  of others from his journeys.
Nick lives a full and interesting life which has included scuba diving, surfing and most recently, marriage. If you or someone you know needs a shot in the arm, needs a hopeful reminder about who is in control, this book could be exactly what you’re looking for. Are you ready to be UNSTOPPABLE?

 "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."


Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah Illustrated

 Olga and Aleksey Ivanov beautifully illustrated this one-song book Hanukkah oh Hanukkah!
  It's light and fun and festive entertainment for the little ones. The first page is a sheet of
music, and a modern family is depicted enjoying the holiday. Hanukkah oh Hanukkah! is
about as long as the song, but the illustrations are wonderful.
WARNING: One illustration isn't Kosher.

This book was given to me free by the Amazon Vine Review Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


All The Benefits

I received Jarrow Formula PhosphOmega Fish Oil from the Amazon Vine Program. Even though the soft gels appear to be large, if I tipped my head back while taking them, they were easy to swallow and didn’t get stuck in my throat. The label recommends taking them with food. There was no discernible aftertaste,  and none of the “fish burps” I’ve hear people talk about with other products. My husband occasionally suffers from inflammation in his chest muscles and this relieved it considerably to the point that he didn’t have to take pain medication. We like the product because my husband and I don’t really eat much fish and this is an easy way to get all the benefits. Because the price is so great, I intend to be a regular buyer of these myself!


Dead on Arrival

Unfortunately, my Primula Tempo Coffee Press arrived from the Amazon Vine Program broken. Furthermore, it is my observation that it was intentionally packaged broken in the original box, as the glass carafe was intact, as were the package box and shipping box. My husband called the number on the box to see if it could be exchanged.
They recommended that it be exchanged where it was purchased. When he explained it had been shipped from Amazon, he was shuffled to others until he was told the head of the department would call. (Online buyers beware!) It's been less than a day, so maybe they will. I will revise to let you know if they did.
We were very disappointed since we were so looking forward to sharing this pot of coffee with several people during the holidays for a well rounded review. Shame, too, because we dearly love coffee. But so far, I am sincerely concerned about the PLASTIC LID on this press which was in shards, interestingly, and not the glass. Unless we are able to obtain another, I can't recommend this to anyone.
Is Epoca intentionally shipping broken products? As a point of reference, Amazon cannot reship this Primula French Press, as they are out and we have heard positively from Epoca and await their response to the email explaining our position.
So far, both Amazon and Epoca have been very quick to respond to email. (Buyer, this is good news!) But I should add that while I have been given credit for this review, Amazon has pulled it from their site. Hopefully, Epoca will entertain ideas of a review. Keeping you posted.


Goal Zero 90401 Rockout Speaker Crystal Clarity

My husband and I love camping. I am somewhat addicted to my music as several super close friends will attest, and never go anywhere without it. My desire to share music while traveling has become a bit of a challenge ever since the epic road trip West last summer. It isn’t always feasible to share my tunes, so I’ve tried using some of the smaller portable speakers.
I could live with some of the options out there, but I could live without them just as well. The last thing wanted is a speaker that needs electric after just a few hours. Nor did I want speakers that required electric to run. I found a cheap speaker set that folded into a ball. The trouble was, the music coming out of it sounded a little too tinny.
I ordered GOAL ZERO 90401 Rockout Speaker from the Amazon Vine program and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Ever since trying out the Goal Zero 19010 Guide 10 Plus Small Adventure Kit, I have fallen totally in love with solar products. The solar panels from earlier this year also charge this unit.
We plugged in our mp3 player and hoped to be surprised. The sound coming out of them was excellent. My husband noted they really didn’t have much bass, but so surprised were we by the clarity of the midrange sound, I stopped everything to write this review. Even with an mp3 player turned up full volume, we experienced absolutely no distortion.
I have become fond of Goal Zero products. They are built for use, rugged and durable. It’s equipped with shock cords to that you can hang the unit, wear it from a belt, loop it on a bike stem all while enjoying amazing sound quality. It zips open to hold your player, and comes with an adapter to recharge from a USB port. Even better, the speakers will last up to 25 hours (some reports say 40 hours) on a single charge and a much closer match to the battery life of my player.
If you love music as much as I do, and like to share it with others, I can’t say enough about this unit. It is worth the price for the quality.


Have You Checked Your Pulse?

Are you FULLY ALIVE? I had to admit I’d stalled a little. I had just survived one of the most brutal years of my life. I had reached the other side of it, happier but exhausted. My low physical activity job left me psychologically tired at the end of each and every day. I had even gained weight.
KEN DAVIS’ book, FULLY ALIVE caught my attention “A Journey that Will Change Your Life.”  I’d heard Ken Davis on Christian radio stations off and on for years. He offered short snippets of encouragement each day. I wanted some of that.
Ken talks about his life and reaching a goal he didn't want: being overweight, often battling depression and out of breath.  His journey involved setting new goals and breaking those goals into hard but obtainable steps forward. He reminded me that anything worth having is worth going for. It was how I had ended up on the other side of such a tough year. I had realized that my life was nose-diving and I needed to make a change. I had changed, but I still wasn't the best version of myself.
Change is exhilarating, disconcerting and sometimes exhausting. What I needed now, was encouragement and new goals. FULLY ALIVE is packed with tales  and vignettes from the life of Ken, his friends and acquaintances that motivated me. He covers something that I have known for a while but his book was the proof I needed. I hit a major milestone in my life a few years ago. On that day, I said I wanted the next same number of decades to be more exciting than the first. So far, it has been. But with this book as a reminder, I not only believe it will continue to be, but I hope to exceed my wildest imagination.
 If you're someone who needs a jump-start, who feels like there’s more out there to experience, that if there’s one more drop of life to be had don’t want to miss out, I recommend this book.

I am a member of the Amazon Vine program. I received no monetary compensation for my opinions. A copy of the book was provided for me to read, in exchange for my honest opinions of the book.


South Beach to the Rescue!

South Beach Fiber Bar
A lot of mornings I get about midway before I start feeling like a little “noshie” and start hunting for  a snack. South Beach Fiber Bar to the rescue! Amazon Vine sent me a box of Dark Chocolate Chewy Granola Bars.  Each box contains 5 which is the right fit for my work week. Each individually wrapped bar is 120 calories of delicious, chocolatey yumminess. With 9 grams of fiber  per bar, that’s over three times the average slice of bread! Add to that, the chewy granola sits on a dark chocolate bar bed. I love these! I couldn’t eat an entire chocolate bar with no guilt, but these allow me my guilty pleasure at only –did I already say this?--120 calories! For some reason, I didn’t get a headache from these the way I do with other chocolate products, even though they do contain a bit of sugar(6 gm) which I normally shy away from.
They are packable in a coat pocket, a lunch bag, purse, brief case or your desk drawer. They are well balanced and satisfying, in that they don’t leave me craving more. I would recommend these if you tolerate sugar, wheat and nuts well. 


Entangled in Escape

ESCAPE by Perihan Magden would be best described as a psychological thriller, and is easily one of the most disturbing and haunting books I have read in a long time. The format of the book took a little getting used to.
 The story is told from the eyes of the young daughter sometimes  speaking to her mother, and alternately describing their arrivals and the minutia the make up their days. Her keen perspective begins innocently, and evolves as the girl grows older. She knows they are always traveling light and running.

From who? For what? While these questions bubble like winter stew in the back of your mind, Bambi and Mother (not their real names) land in cities and seaside hotels around the world where they collect pebbles and shells and other daily accouterments needed to make the hotel room “theirs.” Inevitably, some dark event presents itself causing them to leave everything behind and run off to the next city, country or continent.

Every few chapters, would be a bit from someone who saw them. After reading the book for three days after work, it was getting under my skin. It became clear what was happening, and I had reached a point that they either needed to stop running or I had to finish the book.

When I finished ESCAPE I had no preconceived notion of how the book would end, or even how it could end. It was very surprising and unsettling. ESCAPE is told in such an unfamiliar way that it could be used as a study in style. To say I enjoyed the book would be a stretch.  I give it four stars for keeping me completely captivated and 5 for the way I will be thinking of this book for many years afterward. I dare you to read it.

I am a member of the Amazon Vine program. I received no monetary compensation for my opinions. A copy of the book was provided for me to read, in exchange for my honest opinions of the book.


Sleep Tight Tonight With Dream Water

My husband and I were on our way home from a wedding when he started experiencing pain under his arm. We stopped at an airport kiosk to get a pain reliever and as the clerk rang us up, she offered me a free 2.5 ounce bottle of Dream Water. I had never heard of this product before. What do I want with this? “All natural and calorie free.” (some of my favorite words) and this particular one enhanced with the flavor of pineapple. (Did I mention it was free? They didn’t even ask me to visit their website, FB page or their They didn’t know I was a product reviewer.)
I wondered why I hadn’t heard of this when we were leaving for the red-eye to Detroit when it might have done some good. My husband pointed out that we would test it when we got home at 10:30 a.m. when sleep is unlikely for either of us. (He got a free bottle too, for buying a fridge magnet).
Dream Water is a blend of GABA, Melatonin and L5 hydroxytryptophan and Stevia sweetened Pineapple flavor. The taste was pleasingly light, not too sweet and no aftertaste. Under directions for use, it begins, “Drink a bottle to help with that energy drink you had earlier, a loud neighbor keeping you awake, and general stresses of everyday life.” I like that. How about that no-sleep red-eye flight?
Additionally, the label warns against use if you are under 18, pregnant or nursing and no more than one per 24 hour period.
We got home, dropped our luggage and ate a light meal. My husband--feeling much less pain--and I drank Dream Water. Despite the mid-morning sun streaming through our south-facing window, we lay down attempting sleep.  We awoke 3 ½  hours later feeling very rested. It was a great start to recovering from the flight crossing three time zones.
I will be looking for this product for a number of reasons. It comes in a few more flavors, it’s football season at the high school near our condo, my husband and I both have high-stress jobs and  we are on the brink of the holidays.
Follow directions on the package and let me know what you think. I only recommend this to people who want to sleep and can’t. I will definitely buy this product. Note to self: Great gift to me. Five Stars.


Marware Axis

The MARWARE AXIS that I got from Amazon Vine program is a beautiful leather cover with a swivel to give you different viewing options for your Kindle Fire HD 7”. You can watch it vertically or horizontally and several hands-free positioning tabs make it easy to view while Skypeing, or watching movies without neck strain. It fit only the Kindle Fire HD 7 it’s because the Kindle snaps into their customized frame, as opposed to slipping into a case with a window cut-out.  I like the swivel which also allows the unit to stand vertically, hands-free. The leather is a fine grained, glove soft feel. The dark color is elegant enough for men or women.
It’s a good snug fit but not so much to worry about damaging the unit if you had to remove it. If you’re gift list includes a Kindle Fire HD 7” for someone this Christmas, this would be a great addition. It’s very classy looking and not bulky. It even has a place for the stylus and a few business cards. Marware is becoming synonymous with well-made add-on products.
With proper care, the MARWARE AXIS folio should last you for years, and possibly, outlast the unit itself. 


Smashing Word Press Not for the Faint of Mind

I have often thought myself a glutton for punishment. Anyone who has just begun figuring out Word Press, might agree that it's more than a little daunting. I need help and Smashing Word Press/ Beyond the Blog by Thord Daniel Hedengren was going to be my salvation. For some reason, I just wanted to hop around the chapters of the book, taking what I needed and moving on; but it seemed necessary to start at the beginning.

 The computer language was a bit mind numbing. I restarted the book three times before I could get in to the language. Many ideas for blogs have presented themselves to me, and getting the polished look of Word Press is like finding the Holy Grail. The book at times, seems one step removed from computer programming. The investment in the start-up cost motivates me to learn Word Press, Smashing Word Press is helping me do it.

You may remember that I just reviewed another book: Visually Learn Word Press. Between the two I'm making better headway. (It would be wonderful if they were synched books, but they aren't.) They are both helpful in their own right, but Smashing Word Press literally walks one through the process and the computer codes. They tell you where you can go safely and where you might not want to tread carelessly. A wonderful site can be put up with this book and whether you learn every single thing in it or not, you will have accomplished a very nice finished product. It is my goal to conquer Word Press, and this in-depth book, is the bible I'm reading to reach that goal. The main thing is, you have to be willing to invest the time it's going to take to LEARN Word Press. If you are interested in all the bells and whistles that make a good site a great site, and you love page building, you will probably enjoy this book. I have found it very accurate, user friendly and after a period of time, it really did start to make sense to me. It's a book I will keep on my shelf as a reference. I give it five stars.

 I am a member of the Amazon Vine program. I received no monetary compensation for my opinions. A copy of the book was provided for me to read, in exchange for my honest opinions of the book.


Nectresse is a Sweet Option

Amazon Vine sent me a container of a new product, by the makers of Splenda, called Nectresse. I have been a fan of Splenda since several members of my family were diabetic. Sugar gives me a headache, Splenda didn't. But, I personally found Splenda disappointing to bake with, and the half and half mix really was not a save for me. 
Meanwhile, I gave up any hope of making several items, until something even better came along. Then came Nectresse, made from Monk Fruit. It is said that the Monks in Vietnam began cultivating the fruit some 800 years ago. It is naturally sweet and low calorie and is now in this wonderful new product. My husband and I tried it this morning in our tea. We don’t require tea to be over sweet, but I like to take the biting edge off the brand of green tea that I buy. We both agree that the taste of this is product is full and sweet. I didn’t get a headache. I can’t wait to make biscotti this year. I will update this review when I am able to share that experience.
For now, we find Nectresse an excellent product and look forward to finding many more ways to use it.


Nano Speed Boy Toys

Our Nano Speed - Super Vert Crash Set arrived today from Amazon Vine Program. The box says 6+ but it takes someone older to put it together, approximately 40 minutes. The pieces of track are sturdy enough for the two super-light cars that came with it.
The directions were alright, and the pieces of track are marked on the bottom, but they were a little tough to read for us, even in bright light. The set does not come with the “D” cell batteries required to operate it. The cars took some getting used to, wanting to flip when we let go of them. There is a little trick to letting them go: we used two fingers pressed down on the cars and slowly released the front hood then the middle of the car. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself, but those little cars are really fast. And once they start, the power station keeps them moving until they crash.
I think most little boys would be tickled with the Our Nano Speed - Super Vert Crash Set. Interestingly enough, there were no diagrams for where the stickers should go, which I would have liked. The graphics on the box and actual stickers vary quite a lot, but it looked to us like stickers went over the track seams to prevent cars from crashing or flipping out of the track. I’ve not seen a track with as many twists and corkscrew turns as this one and the way it defies gravity really is something. If you have boys, you might want to give this a shot.


Glamour in SOHO

I was so excited to receive the SOHO Pro Texture Diamond Silver Beauty Case from the Amazon Vine Program. The closed beauty case measures 9.5” x8.25” x 12”The diamond patterned exterior makes an attractive finish. The corners are reinforced and rounded with riveted metal. The double buckles that hold it shut are made of metal and also lock. The case is equipped with two keys. As the lid opens, he accordion shelves, two on each side, reveal space for make-up brushes, eyeliners, lip sticks. The shelves are tall enough to accommodate most nail polishes,  and various squeeze tubed items, and what doesn’t fit easily, could be stored in the larger compartment below.

The interior of the case and shelves are nicely wrapped in black Soho London New York printed fabric and very attractive. The facing edges of the box were nicely contoured to fit together when closed, and not sharp when opened, and appear to be aluminum. The box feels well balanced when being carried. My only complaint is that I prefer sturdier handles. This one is heavy, rigid chromed plastic, but I would have personally preferred a metal handle.

The case seems big enough to hold the make-up collection of one individual. It appears to be metal but is made of very strong man-made material. None the less, it’s a beautiful case. If you have someone who is always decorating every available flat surface of your bathroom with beauty paraphernalia, you might want to give this case some serious consideration. 


Hello, Gorgeous

Barbra doesn’t have anything to worry about, now. After all, she’s BARBRA. She starred in NUTS, and YENTL and sang vibrant songs on vinyl albums my parents played over and over again on the stereo turntable. As one who enjoys interviewing, what I recall (is the hearsay) that Barbra doesn't do interviews. So when I saw the book, HELLO GORGEOUS, Becoming Barbra Streisand, by William J. Mann, I had to have it. Never mind that I have about 15 books that I want to read in varying degrees of desperate; this one had me completely intrigued. I dropped everything to read it.

I could tell you that I met her on a public street in Manhattan, that I gushed over her and she rolled her eyes at me and smiled that mysterious, enigmatic smile in my direction. Neither is true of course. But I had wondered for years why she didn’t give interviews. What really is the real back story behind the actress, and velvet voice and icon we now have known for decades as Barbra Streisand?

MANN captures a time when BARBRA was Barbara. Not as evolved, back when she was singing her heart out with Sleepin' Bee at the Bon Soir, in her early 20’s.


Back when she desperately wanted more than anything to be an actress.

There were very few moments, according to William Mann, author of this un-authorized biography, when she didn’t believe in herself.  HELLO GORGEOUS is peppered (at times quite a bit) with maybe’s and probably’s, but still paints a rather cohesive, and colorful portrait of the girl becoming a woman and then transforming into the icon.
I have always been curious about the “Elliot years”, which are covered extensively. I found the story poignantly painful, and beautiful, inspiring and encouraging. There were some big surprises in there but nothing that changes my love for this amazing actress and singer.
If you are even mildly curious about Barbra, this is the book for you. Thank you, William J. Mann. It's always nice to get questions answered. It gives peace to the soul. I give it 5 stars.


Kindle Fire Screen Protector

Marware Anti-Scratch Screen Protector 2-Pack With Cleaning Cloth for Kindle Fire - Lifetime Warranty
 I love screen protectors! What I'm not fond of is having to cut them out of flimsy films and press out a bunch of bubbles. Marware Anti-Scratch Screen Protector is a heavier clingfilm than I've seen before. It's extremely user friendly with tabs that make removing the front and back film covers really simple. The Protective cover lays on the screen and it's like watching water flow with very few bubbles to work out. I used the enclosed card to squeeze them to the edge while the front film cover was still in place and then, once situated, removed it.
 The microfiber cleaning cloth is exceptional for removing dust, dirt and finger prints from the Kindle screen before protector application. The Marware Anti-Scratch Screen Protector protector in no way hindered the touch screen and the clarity was crystal. I didn't have to cut or trim anything and the lifetime warranty? Really? That's awesome. I will recommend this product to anyone who has a Kindle Fire.
 The application was easy and once it's on you'll forger you have it. Not only that, by the time you remember and need to replace it (if ever), you'll have a back up. My only negative was actually on the packaging which doesn't allow you easy access and is not recloseable. The only way I saw into the package was the bottom seal that did not want to let go with out tearing. I personally didn't want to keep the spare protector out side of cardboard packaging.The cellophane envelope would fit in the Kindle box, however. Regardless, I give this 5 stars.


Not Your Grandma's Vaseline!

I received a small .25 oz container (trial size) of Vaseline lip therapy from the Amazon Vine Program. It's a great travel size if you want to take it to the beach, purse or an office desk drawer. The cocoa butter fragrance reminds me of an island getaway.  It's deeply fragrant and reminds me of tropical summers by the sea. I expected the petroleum undertones that I was used to but there was none of that.
My husband said it makes my lips very kissable. (His too, I might add) but he normally uses nothing and found it slightly greasy but that seemed to fade fairly quickly. (It might have been all the kissing.)
It's still the rich creamy Vaseline product I remember. It came in a plastic container with a plastic lid that snap seals.  The brown label is distinctly different and eye catching. This isn't your grandma's Vaseline. I'm going to make sure heading into winter, that I have this awesome product on hand to prevent chapped lips.

I'm recommending to everyone who has lips! Five stars.


Fits Like a Glove

 Ladies, are you as tired as I am ...
that most oven mitts are big enough for a linebacker to shove his hand into? I got my cherry red women’s fitted Kitchen Grips mitt from Amazon Vine Program. I love the color and it’s easy to slip on and fits very well, not too tight. Other colors are blueberry, lime, bubblegum and patterns currently available were Carnival and Circus.

I am not a big baker and part of the reason is that I don’t have oven mitts that really fit. One size does not fit all. Standard oven mitts feel enormous and when I’m trying to pick up something blistering hot, it needs to prevent my hand from burning and allow me to pull it from the oven without risk of dropping it. If this mitt had been around at the time it would have been in Betty Crocker’s Kitchen.
Kitchen Grips comes in three sizes down to a size that fits me. Not only that, the raised nub textured exterior is non-slip, insulated to resist heat to 500degrees (260 C) with an extendable cuff which is great for outdoor grilling. The mitt is also stain resistant, dish washer safe if you wash it in the top rack.

This fall I plan to be in the kitchen a lot more, making delicious meals for my husband and friends. I love this mitt! It's a great gift idea for a bride, a graduate or the cook/baker in your life. I give it five stars and will be telling every cook or baker about it.


Belkin Folio Case

Belkin UltraThin Folio Case for Acer Tablet 10.1in (Midnight Black) I have a number of Belkin products and for the most part like them all. When I ordered this Ultra Thin Folio Casethrough the Amazon Vine Program, I hoped it would be just what I was looking for. I’m a big fan of skype and enjoy keeping up with loved ones. What sold me on the Belkin cover, was the free standing adjustability factor. You absolutely will not have to worry about your Iconia falling out of this case, which means guaranteed protection against scratches. It’s not bulky, but also doesn’t feel like one of their sleeker designs. It’s well sewn and very durable and I like the texture of the case but would like it a few shades darker, but it’s growing on me. It appears to be more grey than black. It is a case designed only for the Acer Iconia, not a power cord, stylus lint-free cloth or any extras. I give it four our of five stars.


Into the Darkest Corner: A Five Star Winner

Into The Darkest Corner is one of the most heart stopping books I have read this summer. It’s filled with enough hair raising excitement and enough unexpected turns that you can't see what's going to happen next, just like it was for Cathy Bailey.
We follow Cathy has ritualized going the closing and locking of her doors, checking them and rechecking them, not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes for her to feel  at peace that they have been properly checked. Haynes offers a unique window into the life of a woman suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it affects life in the short and longer term.

Initially, the dual story line threw me, but after a few chapters I caught on, as Cathy's past paralleled her current life.This witty, well written novel from author Elizabeth Haynes is an Amazon Best seller in the UK and stands to be one here as well. Her portrayal of Lee Brightman is breath-taking and horrifying, how insidiously he invades every aspect of her life and covers himself in the process.

This story will have you on the edge of your seat much of the time while reading it and wondering about the characters, long after you finish the book. I give it five stars. It is a work of true genius.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine Program, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


The Water Myth

By now, you're among the millions of people drinking bottled water. If you aren't you may be among those, like myself, who filter their own water. It's a well-known fact that most of us don't drink as much water as we should. The reasons vary, but what it comes down to is taste.I like starting out with a certain amount and making sure it's gone by a certain time of day.
I like the 1.5 liter bottle because it's sturdy enough to hold and drink from when full and doesn't feel as though it will collapse like some bottles do. I got Essentia from the Amazon Vine program. I began drinking it and thought it was very nice. It tasted like water.
I decided a true test would be to compare it against the water I usually drink. Brita filtered water. The difference in taste was startling. I gave my fiance two glasses of water. One we usually drink and Essentia. He couldn't get over the taste and texture difference. I thought all water was smooth, but really, comparatively, this is smoother. Noticeably silky.
The difference was remarkable. Our filtered water didn't taste nearly as clean or as smooth as Essentia. I liked it a lot and the infusion of Electrolytes is a plus. I didn't feel a lift, or more energized per se, but while at work, my staying power and focus seemed more enhanced. I really need to rethink my water. As I suspected, they are not all created equal. I highly recommend this to anyone who drinks filtered or bottled water. If you don't believe me, I double dog dare you to compare it to what you are already drinking and let me know what you think.


Don't Leave Home Without It!

I was beyond thrilled when Amazon Vine sent me the GoalZero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit. The photos don’t really do it justice. This small design is light weight and extremely pack-able and fast charging.

GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 is two solar panels about the size of a trade paperback, bound in black canvas and much like a book, closing with the panels inside protecting them between uses. A sturdy Velcro closure folds over like an envelope flap and on the back is a super tough mesh carrying case to store all the wires and Guide 10 Plus battery pack. Two zipper pulls make it accessible. The Nomad 7 can be used together to charge one unit (like an iPad) or to charge two separate devices: a phone, mp3 player or battery pack. The the panels are housed in durable canvas, stitched with French seams, and sports ten braided loops at various intervals for a myriad of hanging options. The entire unit is weather and water resistant.

This kit contained the Guide 10 Plus, a rechargeable, four-battery pack of AA batteries (included), with a snap-shut door to keep the batteries in place. It also included an adapting clip that pops right in, allowing the recharging of AAA batteries.  User tips and Nomad 7 and Guide 10 Plus user guides, and warranty were included.

Three distinctly different charging and usage wires included in the kit give the user various charging options; one connects the solar panels to the Guide 10 Plus, a second connects via USB to the batteries or directly to the Nomad 7, and third, a 12 volt output. I plugged my Koolotron into the latter, but it didn’t so much as turn on the fan. (For that I would need their larger unit.) I hooked it up to my fiance’s phone and it began charging immediately. Currently we are looking for other electronics that we can charge this way. (A Kindle? A Nook?)

I intend to take this unit on our next vacation and several planned camping trips to give it a thorough field test. Everything about this product is first rate and with proper care would last for years. I give this item a 5 out of 5 stars. I won't be leaving home without it.


Alluring Addiction

One doesn’t hear about opium per se these days. I became curious immediately, especially that the author of this tome was still among the living. To be clear, I’ve not used opium or any of its derivatives knowingly. I have known several people who did. Certainly nothing comes close to the exotic opium smoking Steven Martin conveys here. One assumes an opium fiend to hold the less glamorous title: addict. It is at this point, trying to break the addiction, that Steven Martin begins his personal story.

The book is rich with Asian history and tales that surround opium’s mysterious, though sordid, rise in popularity. Martin, a collector of opium smoking paraphernalia, is masterful in his ability to captivate the reader and carry them along in this dangerous and illegal foray. It isn’t long before he becomes prisoner to the pipe. However, three quarters of the way through the book, I was tired of being a spectator to this self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing adventure. But honestly, I didn’t want to miss a word he wrote. Fortunately, the author’s tale takes a turn for the better. All of the people in his story were not so fortunate.

The writing is spectacular, and the neighborhoods and shacks where Martin finds company with his muse bloom in the imagination. At times I felt intensely interested wanting to be present where this activity might be taking place, and actually, I have no real desire for such things. My concern is that his portrayal of opium smoking will be found alluring to a new generation. I give this book four stars. It’s a boldly honest book, and if you choose to read it, not one you will soon forget.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine Program, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


You Can Get There From Here

The title of Gene Edwards book grabbed my attention straight off. I hadn’t been good at living close to God for a long while. As of late, I’m not great at morning devotionals, don’t usually have a list of prayers at the ready, nor will you find me burning out my kneecaps in hours of prayer. Somedays I need a drive-thru church, prayers that I can say while reheating my morning coffee in the microwave and sound bites from my Heavenly Father. I had fallen under the spell of “too-busy.” Add to that, I was thrown into heavy duty life changes every other year.

What I also noticed, however, (and usually late at night) is the insidious, ever-widening gap between me and God. Gene Edwards reveals that for him connecting with the almighty in a real way was elusive, not only to me and others,but to him, a pastor. I had beautiful seasons, life on the edge seasons, breath-taking, white-knuckle seasons, hold-your-breath-until-this-is-over seasons. When there is God or nothing, I choose all God. But honestly, outside of a crisis, when everything is going right, I didn’t know how to connect.  So how does one cross the threshold into continuous, meaningful relationship with God?

I found Gene Edwards answers surprising and simple. Almost too simple. He explains the entryways that led him to the heart of God, and profoundly impacted his journey. I appreciated Edward’s honesty that as a pastor he struggled in many of the same ways I did: falling asleep while reading the word or praying, running out of things to pray or talk to God about and his feelings of inadequacy.
His steps to living in communion with God are so easy anyone serious about their journey can follow. At the back of the book were exercises and questions that could be utilized alone, with another or in a small group setting. I will be sharing this book with my fiancé and in the fall, our writers group. I’m giving this book 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


More Zzzzz's with ZzzQuil

Unlike other NyQuil products you don't have to be sick or in pain to take ZzzQuil. If you are having a sleepless night, you definitely want to give this
a shot. I read the package instructions, expecting to be told I needed 8 hours in which to make optimum use of this product. If they are printed on the package, I didn't see it.
What I did see was the recommendation that it not be used with alcohol.

After lying awake for an hour one night, I took the recommended dosage, 2 caps. What I should tell you is that I rarely take medications of any kind. I am, apparently sensitive to them. As someone pointed out to me once after taking a certain type of over the counter cough medicine, "You should not be seeing star trails when you move your hand from otc cough syrup!"

At any rate, when the ZZZQuil hit my system I was out. At 7 am when it was time to get ready for work, I could have easily slept for another two hours. I was relatively groggy until 9:30 a.m.

In the future, if I'm partially through a night but still need to sleep I may take half the dosage. My fiance also tried it and found it very strong. He takes some medications but nothing depressant type. He felt foggy headed for several hours after waking.

I like the way it works within 30 minutes and the sleep was deeply restful. I just wanted to keep sleeping.


Contigo for People on the Go

The Contigo Autospout Addison Water Bottle from Amazon Vine was a beautiful deep translucent blue. My fiancé and I had tried all kinds of water bottles: Aluminum, steel, recycled plastic. We prefer the fresh taste of filtered water, but always there was the disappointing reality that some taste attributed itself to the bottled water.

 Some other bottles we've used weren't conducive to in-motion use, like if you're driving, or cycling. One finger press unlatches the drinking tube from it's shield and one finger press puts it back. It's ideal for use in rush hour traffic, riding your bike or anyplace you don't want to be fumbling with two hands to open a bottle. The top has a sturdy loop that makes it easy to grab and easy to carry. The wide mouth makes it easy to fill and threaded seal doesn't leak. The removable straw inside means you have options of no tipping the bottle or using it without the straw. When the bottle is closed it doesn't seep and water doesn't run out of it if it happens to fall over. The design has no pressure-equalizing air hole. So in order to drink from it (with the straw) you need to slightly loosen the cap or blow air into the bottle. The silicone drinking spout lets the flavor of the water have center stage.

My fiancé had no trouble going through 24 ounces of water the first day we had it, as opposed to possibly eight ounces on any given day. I found the color of it appealing and it comes in additional colors: charcoal purple and raspberry. I like this design the best so far of all their bottles. I would recommend this product as the positives outweigh the negatives. And I think I need to get another one anyway since it keep ending up in you-know-who's lunchbox!


Ultra Doesn't Do It

Dear Neutrogena,
You don’t know me, but I was recently given Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser through the Amazon Vine program. I washed my face this morning and thought, it was pretty good stuff. I let my fiancé try it too. His skin is extremely sensitive. So much so, that some sensitive skin products leave the t-zone of his face dry and inflamed.
He agreed to try your product, and he initially looked good afterward. His quotes, “I am not fond of liquid soaps. But this wasn’t bad.”  He looked nice, softer, no exzema. I pressed a little further. 
“How do you feel after washing with it?
“I like bar soap. But it was better than Dove.”
I admit it, Neutrogena. I am not afraid. I decided to put you to a real test, and do a total body wash in your product. I figured if it can handle his face, it should be able to handle my body. I am prone to dryness, but have no sensitivities.
I squirted clear liquid formula in a scrubbie lathered up to a medium foam. I didn’t think much of that, while I scrubbed and shaved and sloughed off a whole days work in the city. That medium foam had real staying power.

But, after setting the scrubbie aside, I washed my hair (for another product review). When I came back to my scrubbie, it was still full of lather. I can’t say that about many skin cleansers, let alone ones for sensitive skin.  After patting myself dry, my skin felt soft, your product impressed me. The pleasing,  aromatic fragrance is definitely a plus, neither masculine or feminine, but clean.  I personally like your formula.
My fiancé however, did not fare so well. The next day he was red and inflamed and even a little flakey. He won’t be using it. We were disappointed that it didn’t work for him. I’m giving it  3 out of five stars.

Your Test Market


Expand Your Options With Seagate

It's summer, you're planning a vacation of a lifetime: maybe abroad, the Bahama's or Route 66. You're planning to take hundreds maybe thousands of photos. You want to write in your digital journal every day. You might even interview the locals, shoot some video and you can already see your laptop choking on all the saves. You need to travel light, but you want to capture, store and retain as much as possible. Do you pack your terra book? It's got the storage, but it's so bulky, so heavy! all those wires...

 No! Seagate Hard Drive to the rescue! Seagate Expansion 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive STBX500100 comes in a sleek, low profile design. It's slightly larger than my fiancee's wallet and about the same weight. It requires only one plug in to work : a USB 3.0 cable (included with a quick start guide) and unlike the book, doesn't require an additional power source in addition to the port.

 The super speedy USB 3.0 is "backwards compatible" with USB 2.0 ports, is automatically recognized by the Windows operating system. No time-consuming installations and nothing to configure. This has my vote for portability, compact space saving design and ease of use. I plugged it in and within 10 seconds, I was dragging and dropping photo files to store. Not only that, it fits inside my netbook bag. I will be recommending this to everyone of my digital photography travelers, and business associates.


A Big FAT No to Feather Pillows

My assistant and I have been talking about pillows. Bed pillows. How difficult it is to find something light, fluffy with enough support to keep a neck from kinking. We had found some inexpensive ones at a discount store (which shall remain nameless.) I tried to remember why I hadn't owned or bought a feather pillows in years, so we each got one.  I left, feeling like I'd got a pretty great deal, and with a smile, I looked forward to the wonderful experience of sleeping on a real feather pillow.

The question floated in the dark recesses of my mind, did I not like feather pillows?  I laid my head down for a relaxing night’s sleep. A single feather poked me in the head. So, I pulled it out and let it fall to the floor. The next day, we went to the store to get cases for the pillows. That night, I slept pretty well. If a feather scratched out, I pulled it out and let it fall to the floor. After a week, there were enough feathers on the floor to wing a small bird. A second pillow case was obtained.

This worked for awhile. But eventually, after a month, they began emerging all over again, scratching my cheek, head and neck until I pulled them out.
When we couldn't stand it anymore, we removed the pillow cases to shake them outside. That’s when we saw how many barbs had actually migrated through the fabric. Try as I might, the feathers didn’t want to shake free; barbs stuck to everything. It was also when I noticed the pillow tag: Contains chopped waterfowl feathers. Uh… gross.
After washing the cases, pillows were stuffed back inside them. That night as I tried to sleep, bizarre imagery swirled in my mind. Pictures of dismembered birds, their feathers being unceremoniously plucked and boiled clean. Were these feathers from oil-spilled waters?  Feathers harvested from dead water birds? Couldn’t they have put a little better spin on this? Used prettier sounding words? But even I couldn’t come up with anything that sounded pleasant.
When the chopped feathers began poking through again, another pillow case went over the pillow. How many cases can I put on one pillow? How many would it take before they stopped coming through?

I developed a-middle-of-the-night coughing spell. A dry hacking cough that went a few rounds before it allowed me to fall back asleep. This went on for a week or so, until I noticed on the dark colored sheets, what looked like a layer of dust at the head of the bed. Every time I moved them, fluffed, settled my head, shifted or turned the pillows, out sifted tiny white curls of waterfowl debris. The pillows were degrading. I felt nauseous. I removed the pillow from the bed and set it on the floor. I refused to sleep on it another night. I advised my assistant to do the same.

Interestingly, that night, I didn’t cough at all. The next day I and my assistant, who it turns out had not been sleeping well either, drove to a national chain store and looked at lots and lots of pillows. Foam, memory foam, cotton fiber filled, polyester, firm, soft, medium soft. Pillows for stomach sleepers, pillows for back and side sleepers. Prices from seven to twenty nine dollars.

We both settled on the same one: a firm/extra firm with a 2inch gusset. We took them home and slept like babies in cradles of clouds (I got a new body pillow too). I couldn’t believe the difference. So, I am one more step closer to a vegan mindset as a result.
I will not recommend feather pillows to anyone, and if you are suffering from respiratory illness of any kind, you may want to remove feather pillows as a first step toward improved health.


illy issimo delicious!

I'm an avid coffee drinker. I like it hot, iced and on certain days, room temperature. I also like it black with cream on occasion and sweetened slightly. I could not have imagined how great illy issimo Caffe Coffee Drink would taste. 
I poured half for my assistant and myself and after drinking it, we both agreed that this coffee tasted bold without being overwhelming and pleasantly sweet. The flavor was clean, brisk and refreshing.

Each can contains 6.8 fluid ounces and can go just about anywhere you want to take it this summer, running errands, on the way to work, on vacation, or even camping. I recommend this to anyone who drinks coffee and enjoys it sweet and black.

I received illy issimo Cappuccino Coffee Drink from the Amazon Vine program. It arrived the same day as the Caffe but I tried them on separate days. The Cappuccino flavor was nutty and sweet, the same great flavor as the Caffe but creamier. The espresso style coffee contained low fat milk and cocoa. This 8.5 oz can contains only 100 calories but tastes like dessert. I love these ready to drink energy beverages. They come in lightweight aluminum cans with a push pop tab.

I wasn't able to get much of a break at work and I had packed Cappuccino as a "just-in-case" measure. Turns out I really needed it that day.
Cappuccino contains sugar also, 18 grams as compared to the Caffe which is 10. I enjoyed it but the sugar wreaked havoc with my head.If you don't mind sugar you are in for a treat. Give it a try. I will be looking for their sugar free versions.


Big Help form Janet Majure

A month ago I tried again to start another blog on Word Press, thinking, what the heck is the draw? But what I figured out is that looking different is very attractive when you want to get noticed. I had figured out enough to post but not much else. When the Amazon Vine Program offered TEACH YOURSELF VISUALLY WORD PRESS by Janet Majure I grabbed it.
A lot of my writing friends were moving away from Blogger to Word Press almost 6 years ago. I tried to follow them, I really did. But the amount of time I had to invest bore very little fruit. I used to think it was just me, that everything about Word Press seemed complicated. Six years ago, I wasn’t even sure what to talk about, and the options available in Word Press overwhelmed me.

I considered getting help. At the time, I had a stream of constant distractions and opted for the less time consuming option to blogging.
Since then, I’ve heard a lot about Word Press, how customizable it was. The blogs of writer friends were looking impressively professional and really polished. Very unique. I couldn’t believe it: I had blog envy.

This comprehensive book takes you step by step through Word Press, from Chapter one Introducing you to setting up the .com and .org (Word Press offers free and for purchase sites). It goes through the creation of that which makes each site unique : appealing visual and written content, then on to tools, widgets and plug ins. Chapter 9 is a how to on building traffic, so you can have an audience for your site. Majure rounds out the book with Tweaking Theme, Content Management and Maintaining the blog.

Even though I learned a good bit on my own, this book has been enormously helpful. It’s like having someone sitting in the room with you helping you each step of the way. I recommend this highly for people who have been frustrated and/or overwhelmed by Word Press. If you are trying to put together a unique and professional looking blog, this is a must read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Applause for Avitae

Who knows what I expected when a bottle of
Avitae Caffeinated Water arrived from Amazon Vine program, but what I found was a nicely tapered 16.91 oz bottle with caffeinated water. I put it in the fridge and went about my day until my energy started to flag.
I have two jobs and on the way to my second one, I drank the water. At first, I really didn’t notice a difference. Within twenty minutes I started feeling a little more alive. I don’t like feeling my heart pounding in my chest like I get with some energy drinks. Avitae hydrates without all the hype and has no calories, carbonation or flavorings, no dyes or artificial ingredients. With 90mg of natural caffeine, it’s a little less than a regular cup of Starbucks (260mg).
I'm not always in the mood for tea and like the idea of getting a caffeine lift from water, especially with summer right around the corner and this answers that problem for me. I will recommend it to my friends and co-workers. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.


Is Bloggers Boot Camp for You?

I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years. In that amount of time, I‘ve put them up, taken them down, restarted, deleted renamed and rewrote several.
Once, I had a blog that I faithfully posted on three times a week, (The Radical Write) and on a dare, took the challenge to post once a day for a year (One Lap Around the Sun.)

BLOGGERS BOOT CAMP, written by Charlie White of and John Biggs of takes blogging to the next level by showing you how to set up your blog, post several times a day every day, how to find your sources and a plethora of helpful hints.
This is well beyond what I'm interested in, but I decided to see what they had to say, figuring the very least that could happen is that I’d become a better, slightly more focused blogger.
The book is laid out like a workbook, with wide margins for writing notes and ideas. I generally hold books in sacred regard, choosing not to highlight or write in them. This one practically screams write in me. So I did and dog-eared a dozen and a half pages of information that I want to re-read and absorb every drop of information; from Chapter 3 Target Practice “Writing begets more writing”, Chapter 5 What to Write About and making the most of previous posts to Chapter 8 Building Traffic, Making Money and Measuring Success. White and Biggs take their years of impressive experience from several fields and combine it to give you a current, thought provoking look into the professional realm of blogging.
BLOGGERS BOOT CAMP is filled with timely and useful information but it is at times overwhelming. I am not someone who blogs full time, nor am I a journalist. But if you're putting together a website for news, marketing or public relations this book is definitely worth a look.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


Weather Alert Radio

ETON American Red Cross FR-X2 Hand Turbine NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio I come from a long line of outdoorsmen. I also happen to believe in having the right tool for the right job. That’s where the ETON American Red Cross FR-X2 Hand Turbine NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio comes in. Whether on land or sea, this solar and hand turbine powered AM, FM, weather radio is a must have. It comes with a USB smart phone charger, which allows you to charge your phone no matter if you have access to electricity or not. The LED flashlight can easily replace the battery operated one I used to use and comes with a handy carrying strap. “It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of radios,” said my assistant. Additionally, the FRX2 has a DC-input (mini-USB) for AC power and a headphone output port for individual radio listening, something my green ETON FR160GR Microlink doesn’t have. The case is hard plastic and seems more fragile than the less expensive matt green FR160. What I would like even more, is a meter of some sort to show how charged the unit is. But, overall I’d recommend it to all my traveling friends and as a really nice unit to have on hand in case of emergency.


Pleasing Peugeot Pepper Mill

I’ve had a lot of pepper mills in my life, some tall, some wood, some acrylic. When I find one I like, I used it everyday. With many of them, they became useless or broke under the stress of daily use.
I prefer wooden pepper mills for this very reason, and the harder the wood the better for the sheer longevity factor. The Peugeot Peppermill has some real heft to it, it’s not too light, made from beech wood and has a soap-smooth matt finish that doesn’t show fingerprints. It’s pleasing to hold and a pleasure to grind. The horizontal crank at the top appears to be brushed aluminum and feels sturdy. The grinder turns clockwise for fine or counterclockwise for coarsely ground. The grinding mechanism is guaranteed for life.
The pepper it came with is flavorful and pungent. Each turn of the crank delivers nearly 1/8 of a teaspoon of pepper, which is far more than most of mine gave.
It makes an aesthetic elegance to any dining table. I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys freshly ground pepper.


I began reading the Max Allan Collins' Triple Play: A Nathan Heller Casebook with the first short, Dying in the Post War World.
Collin's second story, kisses of Death employed the use of the iconic Marilyn Monroe which put an interesting spin on the tale.
 I enjoy most crime novels, but prefer suspense and thrillers.I found the language a bit dated, but accurate for each short. Because this case book retells three of the most spectacular crimes of the twentieth century which, there isn't a lot of suspense.
 I enjoyed the portrayal of Nathan Heller because he just keeps plugging away and doesn't seem to get ruffled easily. Because of Heller, I enjoyed the stories. Because they're shorts, they read quickly. I'll recommend Triple Play to anyone interested detective stories.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


Strong Branding, Weak Flavor

I received my box of gourmet Marley Coffee through the Amazon Vine program. I’ve been a big fan of coffee ever since I had to wake up at 4 am to bus tables at the Ramada Inn Hotel when I was a teenager. Back then, drinking coffee saved my job. In the 30 years since then, I’ve come to appreciate the multiple nuances about the classic brew. While I don’t consider myself a coffee snob, I know what I like.
One Love, according to the package, is Organic coffee and Fair Trade Certified, and a piece of the family dream,  which I don’t mind standing up for. I still harbor a fondness for the music of the Marley men, and it was with great anticipation that I tossed a pod of One Love into my coffee maker.  For me the coffee was more on the light side of medium. Actually, it tasted on the light side of light.  I prefer a dark bold flavor but don’t mind a good medium roast. The package also said Exotic Floral and Berry. Try as I might, I just couldn’t pick the Floral and Berry notes or much of a coffee flavor and strangely, no real fragrance. Honestly, I could take it or leave it. I wouldn't recommend this.


Take Thule Crossover Sling Pack

I tend to carry a lot of gear. I’m on the go a lot and I like to travel. I used to commute far enough that it was easier to carry all I needed in one bag. A back pack was too bulky and an Ameribag wasn’t big enough.
THULE makes a great Crossover Sling Pack. The low profile design is attractive and sturdy and allows easy access to all contents while wearing it. The wide strap disperses weight over a larger area which is great if you pack heavy like I do. A zippered compartment in the strap lets you stow sunglasses, mp3 player or smaller cell phones for easy access. The back of the bag is soft material over padding to protect your Mac or laptop.
Two zipper pulls, allow you to adjust for accessibility. Inside the main compartment is a padded drop-in sleeve that will accommodate up to a 14 inch Macbook or laptop. The facing zippered interior pocket, which seems to be semi waterproof, is roomy enough to hold a standard composition book with plenty of space left for magazines or other books. There’s also a plastic latch clip sewn into the pocket for keys or jump drives.
The second large pocket is compartmentalized for smaller items with a double sided mesh pocket that keeps maps, electronics and writing utensils in view. A smaller zippered pocket is where I keep my keys, but you could easily keep cash or credit cards handy. The exterior pocket will hold even the largest water bottles. Two sturdy grab and go handles allow it to be hung on most doorknobs. The textured zipper pulls are a sky blue which carries through on the interior pocket lining. The whole bag filled would fit in the overhead compartment of most commercial flights.
Being of smaller build, I find the bag covers a good bit of my upper body. You can wear it like a backpack or in front of you. I’m looking forward to traveling this summer and giving THULE Sling Pack a real work out.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free from through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 



EXPATS gripped me from the first paragraph. Kate Moore is leaving her job as a concession for her husband's job transfer to Luxembourg. There she'll raise her sons with her husband Dexter, a securities analyst for a banking firm. Kate has a secret past, and decides against telling her husband what she really did for a living while they were stateside. She promised herself that she would never investigate her Dexter.
In Luxembourg, Kate meets Julia from Chicago and they become fast friends. It isn’t long before Kate's internal alarms begin to sound and she checks into a few things that Julia had said, to find them untrue. Julia and her husband Bill don’t seem to be quite a couple; and even though they pose as husband and wife, Kate isn’t buying it. Suddenly, Kate is suspicious of both of them.
At home, Dexter blatantly withholds information from Kate, who is driven to insane levels of curiosity. Will she give break her own vow to herself and check up on him?

I loved every moment in this story, each chapter ended in a cliff hanger. Like putting together an intricate puzzle, EXPATS had me guessing at every turn, then suddenly, the entire picture emerged. Chris Pavone writes masterfully and more than once I found myself holding my breath waiting to see what would happen next. I will be searching for the next one in what promises to be an engaging series.
Definitely a must read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


Theanine 200: Five Stars

Jarrow Formulas Theanine 200, 200mg, 60 Capsules (Health and Beauty)
L-Theanine 200 is an amino acid capsule containing a Unique Relaxant that is reportedly prominent in tea. It generates Tranquil relaxation with no drowsiness. I've taken it at the end of the day to read in the evenings before I go to bed to maintain focus. I have had great results, as I choose when to leave off in a book instead of crashing unexpectedly.

I have used it occasionally during stressful days and it has helped me. It produces a pleasant platform of well-being, with no grogginess and I've not experienced any feelings that were negative and no "hang-over" or unpleasant after-effect. I would recommend this to anyone who gets jittery at meetings, before making speeches or finds themselves in the middle of anxiety producing moments, as well as those days one is taking a test or has to be at the top of their game, when anxiousness would be a hindrance.


Vitamins Please!

Vitamin Squeeze Energy Drink, Fruit Punch flavor is delicious. It's in an easy to hold, flexible 12-Ounce container with a flip top. The Fruit Punch flavor is fortified with Vitamin C; 120% of the recommended daily total and taurine which is an essential nutrient said to be necessary for retinal health and found in animal protein. If you're a vegetarian like I am this might be for you! I take it with me to work and add it to my afternoon glass of water for a quick pick me up.
On the plus side: The color is a vibrant red, there is no nasty after taste. The flavor can be as rich and full as you like, there are no calories, no jittery feeling and no crash. It includes electrolytes which sometimes need replenished due to aggressive work outs or fluid depleting illness. I like the easy to hold container which is much larger, than the MiO water enhancers.
On the down side, it leaves an odd residue on the inside of plastic bottles, so if you are one that likes to reuse them, you won’t want to keep the bottle for long. Also, because it does that, I’m less inclined to use this product in my stainless steel drinking bottles. If you use it at home in a water glass for example, the residue washes off easily with the slightest hand scrubbing. (But I noticed it after the dish washing cycle finished. I will say it may have been my dish machine soap not being top grade). If you are all about portability, it's a bulkier package than the MiO.

I would highly recommend this product due to the convenience of having vitamins on the go, as well as on color and flavor.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
By Stephanie McAfee

Graciela Jones, “Ace” to her friends, might be rotund, but she doesn’t let it affect her friendship with Chloe and Lilly. In fact the only time it seems to bother her at all is when she thinks of the love of her life, Mason McKenzie a hot-looking stud who only has eyes for her. But because of one incident, she’s keeping her distance from him. The same cannot be said for her beloved pet Buster Loo who seems to adore him on the days that Mason arrives on Ace’s doorstep attempting reconciliation.
This story is like having a conversation over a couple of beers with your neighbor. The irreverent humor, and slightly off color metaphors help keep you turning the pages of this crazy adventure in Bugtussle, Mississippi. It is laugh out loud funny in parts, the characters are heartwarmingly real and anything but predictable.
If you are offended by somewhat crude humor and the occasional f-bomb, this might not be for you. But if you enjoy chick-lit from an unconventional view point, this book will make a great summer read.
If you like the book, you may want to follow Ace on or

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


Need You Now Book Review

According to the abundant promotional material in which this book is slathered, author Grippando is the author of at least a dozen and six published novels, with a number of them labeled “best sellers.” In his latest effort, NEED YOU NOW, the work is technically well crafted, in that each chapter tells its own story, most ending in a cliff hanger.

Additionally, Grippando’s “style” borders on being original, in that chapters dealing with the central character are written first person (“I did this, I did that.”) Everyone else is written third person (“He shot someone here, he stabbed someone there.”) A clever effect which soon became tiresome.

NEED YOU NOW deals with the aftermath of a sixty billion dollar Ponzi scheme, in which a young financial advisor and his girlfriend are confronted by decidedly unpleasant people who want their money back. Oh, and of course you have the normal bad guy who has been framed, and the traditional government people who may or may not be trustworthy. Couple this with an obvious bad guy (Undisclosed until a couple of hundred pages have slipped past your eager fingers.)

So here’s my problem – I don’t care. The characters are reasonably well crafted, but I couldn’t warm up to them. The story line is predictable and pedantic. The endless stream of agencies named by initials only gave me a headache. The only places that drew my attention were those where an expendable clerk was being turned into dog food. (Did I mention the rhetoric here is truly going to move the classification into the “Rated R” category.)

Bottom line: If I had never seen a Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts adventure movie, I might consider the book interesting. Unfortunately I have, so it wasn’t.

A special thanks to my friend Jack Petersen for his contributions on this review.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Old Kili's Instant Ginger Lemon Beverage Mix

Old Kili's Instant Ginger Lemon Beverage Mix was fragrant when added to 8 oz. of  boiling water, and appeared to be darker than in smaller cup in the photo. The ingredients were not listed on the side of the box which always concerns me when trying a new product. I'm not a fan of sugar. Also, the directions list only the metric amount of water to add, not a plus if you don't know metric conversions (and I don't) and nothing about the depth of flavor aspect.

I am usually very fond of ginger and lemon drinks but as I said with no ingredient list, I was uncomfortable drinking it.  It was tasty enough, but not all that remarkable to me. I have discovered since drinking it that dried honey was the sweetener, something that really should be promoted on the box somewhere. I like to be in control of how sweet something is going to be. A lack of information on the packaging would keep me from buying this product in the future.
On the plus side: For an instant beverage, it wasn't bad. If you were traveling, taking it to work or camping it would be great to have along because of the minimal amount of effort it takes to prepare.