Monday, August 29, 2011

Book 72: Kitty's Greatest Hits

Kitty's Greatest Hits (Kitty Norville)Kitty’s Greatest His is the newest book in the Kitty Norville Series. It’s a collection of the stories Carrie Vaughn has written over the years related to the series. Admittedly I was unsure if I wanted to get this book since half the stories I read before. Yet the wealth of backstory and knowledge about the characters make the book thoroughly enjoyable

I legitimately read half of the stories before. But I knew there were two stories never published before and there were a couple stories that I just couldn’t find the particular magazine. So my interest was definitely piqued immediately. I knew I wanted this collection and when I needed another book for an Amazon order I was completing. And this book didn’t disappoint.

This book was backstory city and I loved it. There were only a couple books that were Kitty centered. Even then you got to learn more about her. But the tails I loved most was the ones about Rick and Cormac. But the TJ story was also really good. It was nice to get the side characters to really come out to the center and play. You get a more complete look into the world. The only story which I loved but was unsure about where to place it was when Rick was being studied by the government although I love how even Carrie Vaughn even said she wasn’t sure where to place it timewise and how Rick developed.

Midway through the book, I thought I had a complaint, there wasn’t a playlist like there was in all the other Kitty Books. Then I turned to the back of the book and started to thumb through the Author notes. Then I got to get her feedback on the stories and found my playlist. So I was glad to find the playlist. Plus the author notes were great. They not only talked about the stories and the creation of them. But they just had some great tidbits for the avid Kitty reader; like one of the main reasons TJ was gay originally was to avoid the complication of people wanting him and Kitty to hook up. But that simple move alone and his story, you see he’s not a gay character, he’s a character who happens to be gay. That’s an important and great distinction that so many writers fail to really nail down right.

I can’t pick out my favorite story. So many of them I loved. The spin on the Story of Daniel was great. It was so believable as to why Daniel was able to survive in the den of lions. You had great lends of history with stories that involved Catherine of Aragon (also my favorite of Henry’s VIII’s wives) and the start of Rick’s vampire life. Plus you get the zombie story. I can’t tell you how much I loved the fact that it was a Haitian Zombie story not the typical eat your brain zombie. Much creepier to lose control of your body and to be controlled by someone and be their slave with devastating affects on the body if you use most of the neurotoxins. And finally you get to know how Amelia and Cormac became one. Plus it felt like a couple of the stories were edited some in order to really hone in the story. What more could I ask for?

I loved Kitty’s Greatest Hits. It was fantastic. There were no complaints for this reader. Just a good book from my favorite active author.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book 71: Onward How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its SoulI thoroughly enjoyed the book Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz. It was a great look into one of my favorite companies. You can see Schultz’s passion to have Starbucks be a great company that distributes great coffee.

If you know me, I’m a huge Starbucks fan. As my one manager described me to a new employee “This is Kathy, She loves to work 24/7 and she always has a coke or a coffee in her hand.” It’s just who I am. So when I first saw the book Onward, I was curious about it. But I put it aside since I really only had money for my venti coffee (oh they days when I used to double fist the Ventis as I sat through class). It was probably a poor choice to delay reading this book since I own a couple shares in Starbucks and this book really talked about it’s direction.

The thing that really struck me about this book was the passion Schultz has.. He loves the Starbucks brand and really wants to do right: as ceo, as a brand, and continue to grow. Plus he brought up questions that as a “bob,” I ask myself. He was trying to figure out how to get that perfect cup of coffee and be able to create that sense of community that exists at the good Starbucks. I live across a street from a Starbucks but I routinely prefer to go to the Starbucks by my jobs. But it was great to see the ceo really think about how to make Starbucks better.

The passion started to pull back when you had discussions about the Starbucks tough years. They had to close several stores (many of them new ones), try to combat the shrinking expendable income, and to get back to the roots of the company. But the book really shows how the company has rebounded since 2008 and why it was able to rebound. They were asking themselves the tough questions.

The book was interesting since you saw how excited he was about the coffee, how shaken he was by the store closures, and the desire to make good changes in the world. Sometimes I’m skeptical of brands giving back to the world.. But some of my skepticism towards the Starbucks nature has shed since reading the book.

All in all it’s a good book if you like the brand. I’m not sure if you would enjoy it as much if you aren’t a coffee drinker or interested in business models. But since I was interested in both, I got hooked onto Onward.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Letters 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67

Letter 59: One of my favorite cards

Letter 60: Wishing someone close to me some luck

Letter 61 and 62: Sending some love to two of my friends after we talked

Letter 64: Writing to one of my penpals

Letters 65 and 66: A couple thank you cards for some amazing gifts in the mail

Letter 67: A card to a relative

Book 70: Star Trek Corp of Engineers Book 1: Belly of the Beast

The Belly of the BeastI was really excited to have an opportunity to read Star Trek Corp of Engineers since the premise seemed so awesome. What more could an engineer lover ask for (aside from Dax and Klingons), I’ve always been drawn to the engineers so to have a series that focuses on them sounded so awesome. So I started at the first book in the list on the eReader I’m borrowing which happened to be Dean Wesley Smith’s Belly of the Beast. In the end it was a fun diversion and easy read but it was not the best Star Trek book.

As I said, I jumped at the opportunity to read this series. It actually beat the book I was supposed to read on the eReader (Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul). But then again, he wouldn’t have loaded it up with so many Star Trek books if he didn’t want me to enjoy them as well. And I’m glad that I could start the series at the very beginning. But reading this after reading Destiny and Typhon Pact, it had me slightly confused chronologically especially when I saw that Data was still alive. Then I realized it was pre-Destiny and pre-Nemesis and the confusion ended.

The book read smoothly and the evnts proceeded. There weren’t any real lulls. It went from the Enterprise fighting an enemy. After disabling the ship, Geordi stayed on to work with the Corp of Engineers and the Da Vinci to learn more about the alien ship. As they explore the ship, they learned that there was a terrible beast inside the middle of the ship that just exploded to life.

The book has two major weaknesses. First is maintaining character voice. Geordi is an iconic Star Trek figure and has a pleasant warm personality that loved to joke (but never at someone’s sake) and hard working. At times it was spot on and other times, it didn’t feel like Goerdi. But the bigger issue was the character voice of Vale. She’s becoming a favorite of mine after reading Destiny. I like her spunk. But I didn’t see it. Other characters that he introduced were okay but felt like they were throw aways for the most part. They didn’t have any depth. The only character I thought he nailed 100% was Scotty and he was there for a single chapter.

The other weakness was the fact at times action moved too quickly. It was as if all this amazing set up and intrigued maxed out most of his word limit and he had to wrap things up quickly with semi-neat ends. So the end was a real let down. I wanted to get at the core of the mystery and learn about the ship and the crew that were originally on the ship. But you never got that.

It was a good enough read to make me happy and lock me in but it wasn’t the best written book. Instead it had some flaws and it made me want more then could be supplied. But I’m still interested in reading the rest of the series and I’m hoping for better things as they go on.

Product 38: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash Foaming Scrub

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Scrub, Pink Grapefruit, Super Size, 6.7 OunceNeutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Foaming Pink Grapefruit Scrub was something I was really wanted to try out. Unfortunately it wasn’t the awesome acne wash that I was expecting especially since it won an Allure Reader’s Choice award. Great smell, nice feel to it but it didn’t really help my acne issue and tore my pores.

So when my acne decided to go a bit haywire in part due to due to my stress, lack of sleep, diet and underlying acne issues, I decided it was time to finally try the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit scrub that won the Allure award. Allure does their annual awards and prides itself as the Beauty Magazine and one of the places I read a lot to keep up-to-date with the trends in the cosmetic world. I’ve been holding off on purchasing this in part due to the plethora of acne washes and cleansers that I have in bathroom.

First thoughts were that I loved this wash. It felt so good on my skin and I loved the aroma. It seemed like something that would be good for my skin and I hoped would just clear my acne super quickly like it’s supposed to do. But I know with acne washes, it may take some time before you see any results. The first few uses, I loved how my skin felt clean and tight.

So I used the wash daily, just in the mornings (not the twice a day like the bottle said). At first I did this because I forgot to reach up and grabbed the cleanser when I take the nightly bubble bath. Then I did purposely since I was noticing my pores were getting larger and larger with a more torn appearance. Scrubs can be notorious for tearing pores if you do it daily which is why most dermatologists are recommending that you use scrubs once a week, not daily. In the past, I never noticed my pores coming under attack or getting larger. But this was definitely the case with the acne wash long term.

After about three weeks, my acne wasn’t getting better. In fact it was about the same as always. Then I looked closely at the active ingredients. I saw it was salicylic acid. This is the most common active ingredient in acne washes and can be really affective at drying out the skin from oil. But for my skin, for whatever reason has never really been prone to working with salicylic acid to help stop acne, instead I need other active ingredients like a glycolic acid or egg whites.

Bottom line, I like the way it feels, but it’s not right for my skin to really tackle acne. It was a good try and I like the way it feels especially the first couple uses when it just leaves the skin feeling clean and tight. But a daily cleaner it was too rough for my skin and ripped my pores open.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book 69: Unlocked The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider

Unlocked: The Life and Crimes of a Mafia InsiderUnlocked: The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider by Louis Ferrante was an interesting book about being in the mob. Plus it was a rare look into a part of the Gambino mob family and about growing up while in prison. Although there were times when the part of the book really reminded me of watching Oz.

I have always been fascinated by crime although not always by the mob. Well there are mobsters that fascinate me but you are talking about the classic mobsters that lived and breathed by a code that has gone by the wayside in the past few years. But there was something appealing to this book. It was more then he became a book reader after going to jail for his crimes. Part of that was from the way it was marketed on the book. There were comments by an actress, the coscreenwriter to Godfellas and New York Newsday and all the comments seemed to point at his journey in addition to the life in crime. It drew me in.

I will have to say, I’ve never read a book that was set up this way. The first half of the book had chapter titles and the second half of the book just had numbered chapters. This really marked the life of being free and outside of prison and life in prison (with just a little bit post prison). The book never felt to be sequential in order of events since each chapter was more a tale about an event. Sometimes there was foreshadowing of events and other times there was retracing of footsteps.

In this book, you get a total feel for street life. There were times the dialogue had to be read aloud to get what he was saying since he really tried to get that New York accent of the mob world (which often meant being butchering grammar on top of the accented words) but it made it more real too. You got a feel for what he was going through. He was a king pin and thought he was smart but also realized when everything was hitting the fan and he needed a better defense.

Now when he was talking about the events that happened in prison, there were times when it felt like I was watching an episode of Oz. The stuff he saw mimicked the stuff from the show. Since he was in prison when the HBO show was on the air and he points out how life passes you by in prison, it seems unlikely that he would use the show as a way to pad up the book. It was more the show was just that good at portraying life in prison. Plus the book had that tone about it which isn’t bad since I LOVED Oz.

I’m glad that during a trip to the hole, he started to think about life’s questions and his friend sent him three books that were recommended by a clerk for someone who is short and bossy. It started off something good within him. He decided to start to better himself and change his life. In some ways he was at odds with the blood from his mom and dad, that is the mafia ties and the non-mafia way of life. He learned that the risk taking and stubbornness that made him a leader in the mob, wasn’t always a bad thing. But he also learned the value of doing what was right for him.

This was an interesting book that I enjoyed a lot. It got a good peek into a life that is fairly closed off. Plus it was great to get a really good critical look at life not only in prison but in the mob since the age of Gotti and death of the code of not saying anything.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book 68: Silent Truth

Silent Truth (Bad Agency)

Silent Truth by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Diana Love was a decent book. I am not in love with it like I was with the last Sherrilyn Kenyon and Diana Love book.

Silent Truth is part of the BAD Agency Series (Bureau of American Defense Agency). The book focuses on Hunter Thornton-Payne III and Abbie Blanton as they deal with the death treats, health crisises and threats to national security.

Now for me this book required me to suspend reality a great deal and buy into another reality that has an intelligence agency that has a carte blanche check from the president to do anything without any oversight and no one knows about it. That was hard for me to do. The Congress would have to approve the budget or something. Their would be a money trail. Plus there is the Fratelli secret organization that has plants in and a breeding program which seems to be responsible for Hitler, crime, and yet they were all about researching the women. They had some crazy plans that didn’t make sense to me. In the end the biggest problem with the book was my ability to buy into their reality especially knowing nothing about the BAD agency.

The book is fairly fast paced in the action. It will just keep throwing in a wrench into the scheme of things. It was mostly a fast pace moving story where events made sense in their world. Although the cover made it sound like it would be a faster pace novel then it was.

I loved Hunter. He was one of those real hardass kind of hero but at the same time, you can tell deep down he’s a softie. Just the kind of guy I tend to fall for. The book really played off his different levels and showed he had as many flaws as he was an ideal guy. It made him real. This was the real win by Kenyon and Love. Their female lead, Abbie, was okay. There times she was awesome, intelligent and strong but other times she would be so naïve that it was unbelievable. I just wanted her to be less naïve to the danger around her since she was an investigative reporter. The other characters were strong and well written. I like Linette (the mole in the Fratelli who is feeding information to BAD).

The only one I didn’t fully get was the killer JC. While he was a pure sociopath trained to kill and would only do authorized kills. I still never got why target Abbie’s mom to begin with. I won’t spoil the relationship ties but in that story itself, I don’t think it worked. Plus I didn’t buy his place in the Fratelli. It was all just too convenient. In a way it felt like they wanted to tie up most of the loose ends all in one book.

The book was good read but it did have some weaknesses too. But I did enjoy Silent Truth. I would continue to read on in the BAD Agency series although I know that the other books aren’t as likely to focus on Hunter.

Product 37: Almay Makeup Remover Towelettes

Almay Makeup Remover Towelettes 25 towelettesIt’s never a good sign that I used 25 towelettes and never came up with a clear opinion about a product yet this is exactly what I thought of Almay Makeup Removing Towelettes. They were just okay but nothing to write home about since I didn’t really think they really did much at all for my skin.

Almay has made a name for itself for creating many hypoallergenic cosmetic products. It’s a line that is both affordable and ranges in its effectiveness. So I when I had a coupon for the an Almay product and I know I love cleansing wipes as an easy way to make the skin feel refreshed during a long work day, I figured why not.

I like the Almay wipes a lot more then I liked the Ponds wipes. But if you read the previous blog entry, you would know that I hated the Ponds wipes. So the Almay towelettes worked better just by the simple fact that it didn’t feel like it was leaving a film on my face.

At times, not all the time but definitely at times, they would have a weird aroma. It’s weird since it wasn’t consistent and would go away. But the aroma when it was present was off putting. It was like a baby wipe that wasn’t really fresh anymore. Then the next wipe would be completely odor free.

In a time when I’m breaking out a lot, I was hoping that by keeping my face clean, it would help the break outs. The Almay wipes did nothing to help keep the acne at bay. Now that could mean that my acne isn’t related to the oil on my face or the towelettes weren’t design for oil based makeups (since most hypoallergenic makeup will be mineral based not oil based).

I will not likely get the Almay wipes again. I just didn’t like them enough. I want to spend money on a cleansing cloth that I feel like does stuff for my skin and I have a feeling towards. Not that I used it and feel meh about it for over a month. I will have to say, this also proves to me that all make up removers and cleansing clothes are not equal. There is a huge difference between using an excellent one (like the collagen wipes from BR and Basis) or a poor one like Ponds and one that is just so-so like these Almay ones.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book 67: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced“I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced” was a book that had me interested in the title and the photo on the biography. It is a fascinating read to see how a girl quickly grew up and got the courage to run away from her abusive husband and seek a divorce. That’s no easy task in Yemen at the time. It’s an easy read that really makes you question marriage and yet gives you hope to see a child actually grow despite everything.

I will admit over the past few years, I’ve become fascinated by the tales of the Arabic world. It’s so closed off in many ways yet so full of culture. I love reading memoirs from the area just so I can get peek inside even though I know I’m not reading a tale that would be typical. Something had to happen that made things come out into the open, either they were exiled, arrested or in this case challenged the law at such a level it drew an international audience.

There are few books that make me go “wow you are amazing” and still make me question the validity of marriage. This was the case where a poor family used the convention of marrying off a young child under the guise of ‘at least she won’t be raped/kidnap by another man’ and in the name of following the footsteps of the prophet’s wife by marrying young. Unfortunately the husband not only failed to not touch her until she reached puberty, he was abusive to her and kept her away from other children. After a while, Nujood knew she had to escape and she got help by going to the court. From there she found people like her lawyer Shada who were sympathetic to her plight and helped her seek her freedom. Throughout the book you see how she grew up and learned a lot not only about herself but her family as a whole yet deep down she can still be a child by always wanting to color. She has a sense about her where you can tell if given the right opportunity she will thrive and make a mark on the world. Already she’s helped two other young girls escape from marriages that were too similar to her and helped break the ground for a 9 year old to escape from her marriage in Saudi Arabia.

I loved this book. I was so hopeful. Then I read the epilogue. Unfortunately there was a period where she pulled of school. But with the help of the book royalties, she and her sister are attending school once more. She still has the goal to be a lawyers.

I do wish this book was more oomph to it. But it’s hard to get that kind of oomph to from a child who is so young. She's simply too young. But the writing is well done and I’m sure that’s in major part to Delphine Minoui help (her co-writer) since Nujood has attended very little school.

I would recommend highly recommend this book for people looking for a quick read that will enlighten, disgust and give you hope all at the same time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Product 36: Sensodyne Pronamel Toothpaste

Sensodyne ProNamel Mint Essence Toothpaste, 4 oz. (Pack of 4) So recently I tried Sensodyne Promamel toothpaste, this is a toothpaste that I’ve been curious about. There are a lot of big claims about how great it is for the teeth. But overall I feel like it’s like a night time moisturizer something you should do every night so you see results in the future but at the same time I wasn’t in love with the clean.

I was hoping for an amazing toothpaste with the Pronamel. I wanted it to feel like the Marvis toothpaste and feel a noticeable difference after brushing. And to be quite frank, I was let down. It was only okay. Plus the mint essence also made for a weird taste in my mouth.

It was something that made me just feel very indifferent about brushing my teeth. I shouldn’t feel indifferent about my toothpaste since it doesn’t make you want to brush. You are brushing because you have to. But there is the promise that using this toothpaste will strengthen your enamel.

In the end, I’m switching back to my Arm and Hammer toothpaste or Marvis. If I’m going to spend a little more on toothpaste, I just want a little bit more instant satisfaction. The pronamel wasn’t bad. I just didn’t love it.

Product 35: Ulta Aqua Dreams Shower Gel

Thanks to a workshop at one of my jobs, I got to try out the Ulta Aqua Dreams Shower Gel. It’s a very rich shower gel that can do wonders for a body that has dry skin but I’m unsure of the actual cleaning power underneath the ultra rich lather.

Ulta is a lot like Sephora. They cater in offering several different brands of cosmetics and bath & body products but they do have their own products that work well. Now I don’t really shop their much since I would have to go out of my way rather than shopping Schiller’s itself or going down to Sephora (which is very close to one job and down the street from the other); so it was fun to win this little prize at a workshop from a grab bag.

This shower gel has a scent that is rather synthetic smell that still smells clean and has a hint of the ocean or water. The smell is rather pleasant and relaxing. After I have a shower gels that have more natural based aromas, it was odd to go back to the manmade scent even though it’s fresh and clean smelling.

But the thing that sells the product is the richness in the lather and the bubbles it produces. It’s suds up in a rich way. It feels really nice to have such a creamy lather. The downside to the rich creamy lather is the way it washes off, it takes a lot of water to get rid of that film of soap. I’m not sure if I get it all especially in the morning. I never feel grimy but I don’t always feel like I’m polished clean either.

Oh one bad thing about this bottle is that it’s a leaker. I was offered to get another prize that day since the bottle was leaking but I wanted to try it. It’s not a bad leak. But did make some of the bling prizes a little sticky.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book 66: The Mascot Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood

The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood

Reading The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father’s Nazi Boyhood by Mark Kurzem was a great book since it offered a different look into the Holocaust then the typical Jewish survivor story who told their tale of the war only. It reminded me of something a former teacher said to me and was what I wanted a movie to be.

Alex Kurzem was extremely reluctant to share his past with his family. It wasn’t until his sons were grown until he started to share the mystery of the past that he pushed away for so long. He was a Jewish boy who escaped the massacre when they cleaned out his ghetto and was found by some soldiers of the Latvian 18th Police Battalion. He was actually turned into a little soldier and his past from everyone and became a mascot of the Battalion while he was at the tender age of 5.

This book was an interesting search into the past and really reminded me of a French movie I saw at the Philadelphia Film Festival a few years back that really disappointed me. But this actually showed me what I wanted in the movie: the frustration, the dead ends but at the same time the reward of understanding bits and pieces of the story. The movie I saw just let me feeling empty where the book was actually rewarding. Plus it’s amazing to me that he became a bit of a Latvian folk hero in the war due to his desire to be with the soldiers and be the Little Corporeal.

The book reminded me of words from Niels Bo Poulsen. He said how hard it is to try and talk about the war with many of those who collaborated during the war years. The former soldiers would lie to your face even with the evidence of photos in front of them sometimes because of guilt and sometimes out of the desire not to be judged/criminalized. For years Mark’s dad would show a photo or two from his suitcase that he carried with him although it wasn’t until Mark was all grown up before he figured out some of the photos of he saw where carefully covered up with fingers to hide the markings of a soldiers uniform. You can tell how in trying to figure out his father's past, Mark met up with problems of those not wanting to discuss aspects of the past especially when it meant talking about the actions that led to collobration with the Nazi and Latvian governments.

Overall I liked the book. I will have to say I liked the fact that this survivor story wasn’t the typical story of hiding/lying, getting caught, sent to a camp and found a way to survive. Instead a little boy was adopted by a set of soldiers and through a mix of fear and wanting to please, he became a little soldier as well. He survived the war while being shown the horrors of it at the front but at the same being protected from the atrocities all at the same time. He was always a little boy who couldn’t stop any of the actions of the soldiers and was even used by those around him.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book 65: Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the OperaI was actually amazed by how much I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I always loved the musical but at the same time I was never quite sure if I would fall in love with the book. There is a magic about the book that just sucks you in.

I’m surprised it took me this long to actually read Phantom of the Opera. The only thing I can think of is that I tried to read the book when I was way too young (4th grade or so) and the writing was too advance for me. Reading this book was amazing. It was great.

The thing that surprises me that the musicals and the movie versions leaves out how deep the mystery and the narrative is especially in comparison to the book. The book is a mystery and yet at the same time it has a research feel to it so you just have to believe in the tale he uncovered. In a way it’s like hearing a tale from one of your closest friends as they go through their notes. It’s completely compelling and conversational but at the same time, it goes deeper.

Plus it was surprising to see how the musicals changed some of the tale. At times book Christine seems so weak compared to the musical version. But it seemed more fitting with the perception of women from that era. And then the last book had the Persian’s narrative. It gave Raul a way inside of the Phantom’s mind and a way into the underground chambers.

It was great book. I’m glad I finally read it. Plus it was fun to talk about the love of the book with one of my online friends that has similar geeky tastes as me.

Hope you enjoyed the review. Please share and comment on it.

Letters 56, 57, and 58

Letter 56: Cheer up letter

Letter 57: Saying hello to a friend

Letter 58: Another letter to say hello

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Product 34: Philosophy Amazing Grace 3 in 1 Shampoo, Shower gel and foaming bath

Philosophy Amazing Grace Shower Gel, 16-Fluid OunceI just had to try the newest line to arrive at Schiller’s. It’s Philosophy bath and fragrance lines. So I decided to try out the Amazing Grace version of the shampoo, shower gel and foaming bath cream. Over all it’s an amazing product given all that it can do but it may not be the best thing for my body.

I will admit I’m a wee bit skeptical of something that claims to be a 3 in 1 product especially when you try to blend a shower gel and a shampoo into the same product especially when you have oily hair. It’s hard to get that balance right where it will clean the hair and not strip the skin.

All that being said. I was really pleasantly surprised by the Amazing Grace. It could actually clean my hair and make it nice and soft while at the same time it was a great shower gel. It worked exactly like how I wanted it to work. I still can’t believe when my hair actually looks clean when I wake up in the morning. Plus it made my skin nice and soft.

But Philosophy does have a problem. I’m pretty sure it’s helping my acne problem to grow. I will admit I have some added stress in my life so that will make my skin more prone to break outs. My face is a wreck after a week worth’s of nightly baths with the Philosophy 3 in 1 product. I blame the baths since the one day I was reading a book and stuck my hand underwater and realized how moisturizing the water was. But that added moisture is probably due to oil and that is clogging my pores since the rest of my beauty regimen is staying constant with a couple soaps and a toner.

Between the aroma (a soft scent that is fresh, clean, delicate and feminine without screaming perfumed) and the way the Amazing Grace 3 in 1 Shampoo, Shower Gel and Bath foam, I love the product. I just have to be careful to use it at a shampoo or a shower gel only since when used in a bath, it does break me out. Still very exciting for Schiller’s to carry Philosophy bath and fragrance.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book 64: Starfleet Year One

Starfleet Year One (Star Trek)Starfleet Year One was an interesting book by Michael Jan Friedman but it was like a poorly made latte. It’s good and you enjoy it but in the back of your mind, you know it could be better.

This is quite possibly the most interesting book in the Star Trek Universe in a couple ways. First it was a book that was created through a serial publication. This book is a slightly larger amended version of the serialized story. Second it is the only series that has existed without using any Star Trek characters from the TV series as a man character or even as a background character. But in the version I read there was a scene with T’Pol. Now part of me wants to say that she was included to help with the licensing process from Paramount (just like there is an inclusion of a caveat that the book wasn’t related to the Enterprise series).

This book was great in the imagination and the creation of Starfleet. It’s driven and crated. Most of it made a lot sense too especially the uneasy balance of military and science within Starfleet.

I had two major problems with the book. The first is how the characters come off at times. They just didn’t always “read” right. T’Pol was so anti-association with Starfleet yet she was one of the first Vulcans to serve on besides humans. Then you had the intrusion of Poltergeist and Heather O’Rourke’s voice saying “They’re here” instead of the Earth Command officer. It’s just so hard to really use that quote when the baddies are arriving without thinking of the epic line from the movies. But one of the things that really bugged me was how mid-book Cobaryn was seemingly ill at ease to learn about the mafia when for the previous 140 some pages, Cobaryn was so inquisitive about cultures. It just didn’t fit the character thus far.

But the thing that really killed me was the ending. I won’t spoil it for those. I just didn’t think it made sense. Cool idea of solidarity but that’s something that would only happen in a story.

Overall, I enjoyed the story woven by Michael Jan Friedman. It would have been fun to see a continuation to the series but it wasn’t meant to be. It was a neat idea on how the Federation got it’s start.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Book 63: Blood Trinity

Blood Trinity: Book 1 in the Belador SeriesSo I’ve continued reading mostly my fluff books by reading Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love. Overall I liked this book a lot. It was an enjoyable read.

Blood Trinity is the first book in the Belador Series. It was refreshing to actually pick up a book that really took the time to really set up a story. I’m not jumping in mid-stream to a series. Well not completely. The book kinda started midstream since it talked about Evalle’s struggle to figure out her place in the world of VIPER and the Beladors. But the real gist of the story goes on from the prologue which really sets up both Evalle’s closemindness and her friendship with Tzader and Quinn.

One of the nice touches in the book was the character Feenix. He was just fantastic. It’s just a fun little character. He didn’t have anything to really add to the story but show Evalle’s softer side and show a fun pet in the underworld. I definitely would want a pet gargoyle who happens to speak and eat lug nuts. I wonder why I haven’t seen that more in the genre. It reminded me of Bronx from Gargoyles (Yes I loved that old cartoon series). The rest of the characters were well done too but I just really loved the pet. Sometimes you are just drawn to the ugly cute side characters.

The other thing that I really liked was the idea of mixing up the Gods and having them play on the same team (more or less). Only in urban occult fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, do you see the attempts to explain the different gods from history and I like that. It draws me in. Mixing up Loki with Shiva and taking bits and pieces from multiple cultures is fun. Plus it’s done in a way where the cultural biases can have big consequences and even lead to the some major prejudices.

I’m not sure if I want to get the next book in the series but I really enjoyed it. It was such a good standalone book but I didn’t get enough pull me into the next leg of the story. I’m curious. But I would like a little bit more of a teaser.