September 28, 2012

Book Review: “The Green Thoreau” by Henry David Thoreau and edited by Carol Spenard LaRusso

The Green Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau and edited by Carol Spenard LaRusso is a collection of Thoreau’s memorable and inspirational quotes from Walden, and his lesser known essays and books. The release of this collection commemorates the 150th anniversary of Thoreau’s death.

Book Description
America’s first environmentalist on technology, possessions, livelihood, and more.

Henry David Thoreau saw nature as teacher and companion, and many of his philosophies guide the contemporary environmental movement. What Thoreau wrote about simplicity, materialism, technology, and our troubled relationship with nature is perhaps even more relevant to our lives today than it was in the nineteenth century. In these pages, editor Carol Spenard LaRusso presents quotations by Thoreau on nature, technology, livelihood, living, possessions, time, diet and food, and aspiration. At turns passionate, funny, and profound, this collection serves as a compelling introduction – or vivid reminder – of why Thoreau is one of America’s iconoclastic greats.” – The Green Thoreau

My Thoughts
The Green Thoreau features more of Thoreau’s works that are not as well-known as Walden. Some people may not like this, as Walden is his most famous and well-read piece. I thought it was smart and actually quite appropriate. A man as brilliant and ahead of his time as Thoreau, shouldn’t just be defined by his most famous piece of literature. For many of us reading this collection, it is the first time we’ve read some of these selected quotes. What is life without wonder, and discovering new things? I applaud Carol Spenard LaRusso for handpicking the selections as she did for this book.

I was first introduced to Thoreau’s works when I was in the ninth grade. Many of my peers in that English class dreaded it, but I loved it. One of the class projects we did in that class was to pick out quotes from a book of our choice that we read that semester, and then take photographs to illustrate those quotes. I chose Walden. It is one of my favorite things to read, and I still find many useful and inspirational quotes in it.

This collection is excellent. It is a must have for anyone who admires and finds Thoreau’s works inspirational to them. I also think it would make a very good present for someone who is a literature buff or just enjoys good books in general. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Green Thoreau, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 27, 2012

L.A. Fadeaway by Jordan Okun

L.A. Fadeaway by Jordan Okun is a about Hollywood life, told through the eyes of a spoiled twenty-three year old that works at a talent agency in Los Angeles. It is gritty, dark, and often quite raunchy.

Book Description
The unnamed narrator in L.A. Fadeaway is twenty-three, the son of a studio head, rich, entitled, and working in the trainee program of the hottest talent agency in Los Angeles. Fueled by massive quantities of unchecked ambition and attitude, he has one goal: become an agent and take over Hollywood. 

Yet in spite of his cocky-cool demeanor, living the “life” is not all it’s cracked up to be. This born and bred boy of la-la land is consumed with constant anxiety, which he dulls with the usual tools of the trade: Xanax, alcohol, pot, and porn. He knows all too well that Hollywood is a zero-sum game: the only way to get power is to take it. The question is how low is he willing to go in order to ascend the Hollywood canyons—and will his determination to follow in his father’s footsteps change after the discovery of an awful family secret? 

Ready to take his rightful place in the canon with Sammy Glick, L.A. Fadeaway’s enigmatic hero takes readers deep into this dark, star-filled subculture with a hilarious, brutally honest, and unfiltered eye. In L.A. Fadeaway, never has Hollywood been so frightening— or fun.” – L.A. Fadeaway

My Thoughts
L.A. Fadeaway is honestly not the typical type of book I’d read. I figured I’d give it a try though, it sounded good, and who doesn’t like a Hollywood story? Well, after the first page I realized that this book was going to test my reading abilities with patience.

The main character is not someone I’d like. He is rude, obnoxious, and the type that I’d quite seriously want to punch in the face if I met in real life. I didn’t grow to like him the more I read, and the other people in the book, I disliked just as much.

This novel is more of a satirical look on Hollywood and the people that are in it though. The characters have big personalities and even bigger egos. The author was actually in the job of the main character, and he does include some true stories. What is left to wonder about this though is what was “real” and what was excessively over dramatized for the book?

Overall, I honestly didn’t enjoy this novel. It just wasn’t my preferred type of reading material. However, if you like raunchy, edgy, and male toilet-trash-talking, you’ll love this book.

* Thank you to the publisher of L.A. Fadeaway, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom is a novel about mankind’s greatest obsession: time. Some people want more, some people want less. Sometimes it moves too fast, sometimes it moves too slow.

Book Description
From the author who’s inspired millions worldwide with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most imaginative novel yet, The Time Keeper—a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours.

The man who became Father Time.

In Mitch Albom’s newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world—now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began—and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Told in Albom’s signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.” – The Time Keeper

My Thoughts
The Time Keeper is a story that really gets you to think about time in a different and more precious way. It makes you really think about things in a more insightful way, which is a true talent of the author.

This novel follows the lives of three people and their obsession with time. It all started with Dor, the original man who discovered time and how to keep track of it. This “Father Time” did it just “to know.” However, as mankind tends to do, it was taken and used as something else, and man eventually tried to control time.

Dor is punished and sentenced to thousands of years in a cave. He doesn’t age, but everyone else on Earth does. He is able to listen to everyone’s prayers about time, but eventually it becomes too much and he rarely hears any single person’s prayers or thoughts about it at all.

Two of the people he did hear are Victor and Sarah. Victor is dying, and wants more time. Sarah wants less time. She wants to speed things up, and eventually make it stop for her altogether. Dor is finally freed from the cave, if he can help two people the true meaning and value of time. Can he get to them both before it is too late? I’ll let you read this amazing book to find out.

Mitch Albom has a way of writing that draws you in, teaches your soul a life lesson, and leaves you wanting to read more of his works. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Time Keeper, Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 26, 2012

Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse Review

Do you enjoy playing MMO games online, and need something to give your gaming a boost? The Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse might be just the thing to help your gaming be faster, smoother, and more enjoyable.

Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse Features
Make it yours – easily – Want to customize the default settings? Want access to more intricate macro and scripting capabilities than the onboard macros can provide? Download the optional Logitech Gaming Software and tweak your settings to perfection.

Onboard brains – The three memory profiles are stored onboard so you can access all your button, tracking, and lighting color information on any computer with no software required.

Double down with G-Shift – Assigning the G-Shift function to a button on the G600 doubles the functionality of the other buttons on the mouse – giving you massive configuration power and flexibility.

Shift DPI on the fly – For precision targeting or sniping, assign a DPI shift button to quickly change the DPI value. When you let go, you’re back to the standard value. Set up to five DPI levels per profile.

Shaped to go the distance – The G600 is sculpted to support your hand through hours of raiding, PvP, or just grinding XP. Every button is tuned to reduce click fatigue without accidental actuations.

Gaming-grade laser tracking – The G600’s gaming-grade laser sensor that will track the tiniest nudge or the fastest flick with equal precision.

Put to the test, built to last – The three large primary buttons are each rated to 20 million clicks. Durability testing pounds keys three times per second, 24/7, for nearly three months so you’ll never have misclicks.

1 millisecond USB report rate – Input lag won’t be a problem. The G600’s USB report rate insures that all your click movement information are reported instantly to the game. A thousand reports per second takes advantage of your PC’s maximum communication speed.

Braided USB cable – The flexible, 6-1/2 foot long USB cable is cloth-wrapped for additional durability and a premium look. And it comes with a hook and loop cable strap to help you keep things tidy.

Low-friction feet – Ultra low-friction feet significantly reduce the amount of effort required to move the mouse, resulting in less fatigue in long game sessions.” – Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse

My Thoughts
I have been playing MMO games online for almost a decade. I’ve played them on a console, but I enjoy playing them on my PC more, and I’ve been playing them solely on that for the past few years. In all of that time, I’ve always used my standard keyboard and mouse. It worked for me okay, but I always wondered about those flashy gaming mice I’d see in the store. Were they really worth the money? Would they really help my gaming? Perhaps most important for me, would it be comfortable to use?

I’ve been testing out the G600 MMO Gaming Mouse by Logitech for the past month. It was perfect timing for me because Guild Wars 2 just launched, and I’d been waiting to play that game for years.

The first thing I noticed was that this was a larger mouse than what I had been used to. As a female, I don’t have very large hands, so I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to use it very easily. However, after using it for extensive playtime in Guild Wars 2, I didn’t find it to be a problem at all, and actually didn’t strain my hand or my wrist when using it.

One of the coolest features on this mouse is the option to light up the MMO buttons on the left side to a color of your choice. You do have to install the software for this, but it is easy to do, and also lets you change the configuration of the buttons to work with your game.

This is a seriously fast gaming mouse. Although I don’t have the fastest internet speed available, I have a rather nice gaming computer, and I’ve really seen the difference in my gameplay when using this mouse.

Overall, I really like this gaming mouse. It is comfortable, fast, and has some really cool options and features to use. If you are in the market for a new mouse, I’d definitely suggest looking at this one, especially if you are a gamer.

Disclosure: Thank you to Logitech for providing me with the product for review. All opinions, experiences, and thoughts about the product being reviewed are my own.

September 25, 2012

Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross

Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross is a prequel to the hit BBC series created and written by Cross. He is the sole writer for the TV show, but his pure brilliance shines through in this crime novel. It is a gripping novel about a detective that is enjoyable to read about right up to the very end.

Book Description
A brilliant crime novel and prequel to the acclaimed BBC series by the show’s creator and sole writer 

Meet Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. He’s a murder detective with an extraordinary case-clearance rate. He’s obsessive, instinctive, and intense. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumors that Luther is bad—not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented. After years of chasing the most depraved criminals in London’s gritty underworld, he seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things any other detective wouldn’t and shouldn’t do. 

Luther: The Calling, the first in a new series of novels featuring DCI John Luther, takes us into Luther’s past and into his mind. It is the story of the serial killer case that tore his personal and professional relationships apart and propelled him over the precipice—beyond fury, beyond vengeance, all the way to the other side of the law. Is Luther a force for good or a man hell-bent on self-destruction? Edgar Award–winning writer Neil Cross has created one of the most compelling characters in modern crime fiction. Luther: The Calling is a compulsively readable novel by the writer hailed by The Guardian as Britain’s own Stephen King.” – Luther: The Calling

My Thoughts
Luther: The Calling is an extremely well written novel. I hadn’t seen any of the mini-series before reading this book, so I had no expectations or prior knowledge with any of it. I enjoyed it, and found the characters and storyline to be well developed, engaging, and held my attention throughout the story. It also made me want to go find out more about this TV series, and start watching it.

The main character, John Luther is a murder detective. He is very intense, a bit obsessive, and dangerous. He isn’t really a good guy, but is secretly tormented and has these bouts of fury that makes him go into a rage and do things he normally wouldn’t. Actions that are definitely not things he should do as a detective.

This isn’t a novel for the faint of heart, and especially not for those who don’t like graphic crimes written for you to see as you read about them. Some of the crime scenes are quite grotesque and disturbing. Cross is an excellent storyteller, so don’t be surprised by what you read in a novel about crime. If you can handle such stories, I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Luther: The Calling, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

And Live Rejoicing by Huston Smith

And Live Rejoicing by Huston Smith is a remarkable and memorable memoir by an amazing soul that has truly lived while here on Earth. In his worldwide travels, Huston has experienced many different religions, met with numerous leaders, and embraced spirituality and traditions of cultures with enthusiasm, awe, and the ability to tell his journey about it all like no other.

Book Description
“Chapters from a Charmed Life — Personal Encounters with Spiritual Mavericks, Remarkable Seekers, and the World's Great Religious Leaders

Spiritual trailblazer Huston Smith has written comprehensive books about religion and a memoir of his own life, but nowhere has he merged the two elements of seeking and experience with such storytelling flair as he has in these pages. Few have done as much as Smith to explore and illuminate the world’s religions and spiritual traditions, and none have done it with such accessibility, wonder, and delight. In this joyous volume, he looks back on his extraordinary life, describing riveting scenes with unforgettable characters in India, Africa, Tibet, and Japan. Smith’s charm and exuberance come through on every page.” – And Live Rejoicing

My Thoughts
And Live Rejoicing is a different kind of memoir than most I have read. It is more of a spiritual memoir that is told by someone that quickly seems like your close personal friend or mentor by reading it.

Huston’s life and the religious studies he has embraced around the world is amazing. What I love most about this book and the author is that he embraces everything that is thrown at him, and rejoices at the experience of it all. Lucky for us, he has compiled many of his traveling and religious encounters with us in this memoir of his spiritual journey.

This is a beautifully written account of Huston Smith’s life. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of And Live Rejoicing, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 21, 2012

The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook by Jere and Emilee Gettle

The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook by Jere and Emilee Gettle is written by two people who truly enjoy and deeply appreciate growing and harvesting their own food to cook and share with their family. If you want some inspiration and yummy recipes to do the same, this would be a great cookbook to start with.

Book Description
Tired of genetically modified food, but unsure of what to make and how to cook it? Jere and Emilee Gettle, cofounders of the Baker Creek Seed Company and coauthors of The Heirloom Life Gardener, bring you all the delicious answers in The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook.

With a friendly voice, the Gettles take you through 125-plus vegan recipes that are healthy, easy to make, and appealing to vegetarians, meat-eaters, seasoned heirloom gardeners, and novice heirloom-eaters alike. The dishes are diverse in origin–with several plucked from the family’s own fabulous restaurant–and will leave you satisfied at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. They also share their tips and tricks on canning and preserving, as well as the staples that you need in your kitchen.

Replete with beautiful line drawings, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone interested in growing or eating heirloom vegetables and fruits.

Some of the recipes you’ll love . . .
Pink Pearl Applesauce, Blueberry Pancakes, Cambodian Yellow Cucumber Salad with Crispy Shallots, Vegetable Tempura with Thai Basil, Heirloom Spaghetti Squash with Heirloom Tomato Spaghetti Sauce, Edamame Hummus, Melon Sorbet, and Heirloom Apple Pie” – The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook

My Thoughts
This cookbook is written very well and the couple’s passion for what they grow and eat shines through. I’m not a big gardener, but I do enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, and knowing that the ones that I do grow are non-GMO (genetically modified) is a big plus for me. I really should do this more, and this cookbook did give me the inspiration to do so next year.

As for the recipes in the cookbook, many sounded absolutely delicious. There were some that I had no idea what the “vegan” ingredients were, but a little Google search showed that they weren’t really all that elusive or scary to cook.

The dishes do not have real, colored photographs of what they “should” look like when prepared. This is usually a big downside for me, because I like to see the dishes before I cook them. The recipes in this cookbook are pretty straightforward though, so the image wasn’t exactly necessary, but would have been nice to have included.

Overall, I like this cookbook. It uses fresh, whole foods that are healthy for the family. If you want to cook some vegan meals and learn more about using heirloom foods, I suggest reading and using this cookbook.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook, Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 20, 2012

Becoming Your Best Self by Sara Wiseman

Becoming Your Best Self by Sara Wiseman is a wonderful book to help you increase your intuition and become a better version of yourself. If you are looking to receive divine guidance in your life, but not sure where to start or what to read, this is the perfect book to get started on your journey of awakening.

Book Description
What if you could receive Divine guidance at any time? What if you could clearly see your highest potential? What if you could heal the past, live joyfully in the present, and manifest your dreams in the future? You can, simply by using your intuition—even if you’ve never used it before.

In this delightfully inspiring book, Sara Wiseman teaches you how to establish a direct connection with the Divine that will raise your vibration, heal your heart, allow instant access to Universal information, and transform your life in the process.

Through step-by-step exercises you will learn a variety of life-changing skills—from attracting a soul mate to healing relationships to communicating with Divine guides and loved ones in spirit. Throughout, Wiseman shares simple yet profound messages from her spirit guides that open the path to a new level of consciousness and to your own spiritual awakening.” – Becoming Your Best Self

My Thoughts
Becoming Your Best Self is a fun and highly helpful book to read about intuition, psychic awareness, and spirituality. Wiseman fully believes (as do I) that everyone is able to access this spiritual awareness, so if you want to open yourself to it, read this book and do the exercises and meditations included in it.

This book covers a large range of spiritual material including: awakening, sensing, synchronicity, signs, spirit guides, angels, mediumship, ghosts, healing, soul mates, past lives, and much more. The sections that I most enjoyed in the book were on guides and angels. This is really just my personal preference though, and I fully enjoyed all of the sections and exercises included.

There is really only one thing I didn’t like about this book, and it isn’t really a big deal. The audio exercises aren’t available for free with the purchase of the book, as it is not a book/cd combo. However, you can purchase them from the author’s website at: I was a bit disappointed about this because for me, a guided meditation works better than me reading it and then trying to remember what to do.

* Thank you to the publisher of Becoming Your Best Self, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Save Money with the Publix “Running Out? Run In” Event from September 20 – 26

Stocking up on the family’s most used (and loved) items is an essential part of shopping. I also like to wait and get great deals on these staple items. Publix is just the place to go for stocking up and saving this week.

Thanks to MyBlogSpark, I was able to receive a $25 Publix gift card to participate in this event. I stocked up on Chex cereal, Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner. While I was there I also picked up a few other qualifying items and was even able to get a free gallon of milk because I bought 6 (or more) qualifying items. How great is that?

From September 20th through the 26th, look for the “Running Out? Run In” event at your local Publix and save some money on some of your favorite brands from General Mills and Procter & Gamble.

While you’re in the store, be sure to look around for qualifying items that you need to stock up on and get a free gallon of milk, too.

Disclosure:  The Publix gift card and information has been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

September 13, 2012

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel is a book about downsizing, being happy with less, and how you can use this woman’s real life experiences and suggestions on doing exactly that. If you have too much stuff, are in debt, and unhappy, this is a book you need to read.

Book Description
Once, Tammy Strobel and her husband were living a normal middle-class lifestyle: driving two cars, commuting long distances, and living well beyond their means. Now they are living the voluntary downsizing — or smart-sizing — dream. In this book Strobel combines research on well-being with numerous real-world examples to offer practical inspiration. Her fresh take on our things, our work, and our relationships spells out micro-actions that anyone can take to step into a life that’s more conscious and connected, sustainable and sustaining, heartfelt and happy.” – You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)

My Thoughts
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) is a funny, honest, and helpful guide on being happier with less. True happiness doesn’t come from what you have, so all of the needless spending on “things” won’t help you achieve it. Instead, Tammy Strobel suggests giving some of your things away or selling them if you can. She and her husband radically downsized and let go of practically everything to get out of debt and to be truly happy.

Although I couldn’t imagine living in a small 128 square foot home with a husband, this couple was able to do it. I applaud such extreme downsizing and living happily out of debt. However, I just couldn’t ever be that drastic. I imagine most people couldn’t either. For those of us who aren’t going to go to such extreme measures, Tammy does give other examples and suggestions on things we can do to help us be happier with less stuff in our lives.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and found many of the suggestions and exercises useful. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Street Freak by Jared Dillian

Street Freak by Jared Dillian is an inside look at Wall Street through the tales of the author’s real life while working for Lehman Brothers. Dillian rose from the bottom ranks to being at the top of his game, and this memoir tells all about it.

Book Description
When Jared Dillian joined Lehman Brothers in 2001, he fulfilled a life-long dream to make it on Wall Street—but he had no idea how close to the edge the job would take him. 

Like Michael Lewis’s classic Liar’s Poker, Jared Dillian’s Street Freaktakes readers behind the scenes of the legendary Lehman Brothers, exposing its outrageous and often hilarious corporate culture. 

In this ultracompetitive Ivy League world where men would flip over each other’s ties to check out the labels (also known as the “Lehman Handshake”), Dillian was an outsider as an ex-military, working-class guy in a Men’s Wearhouse suit. But he was scrappy and determined; in interviews he told potential managers that, “Nobody can work harder than me. Nobody is willing to put in the hours I will put in. I am insane.” As it turned out, on Wall Street insanity is not an undesirable quality. 

Dillian rose from green associate, checking IDs at the entrance to the trading floor in the paranoid days following 9/11, to become an integral part of Lehman’s culture in its final years as the firm’s head Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) trader. More than $1 trillion in wealth passed through his hands, but at the cost of an untold number of smashed telephones and tape dispensers. Over time, the exhilarating and explosively stressful job took its toll on him. The extreme highs and lows of the trading floor masked and exacerbated the symptoms of Dillian’s undiagnosed bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders, leading to a downward spiral that eventually landed him in a psychiatric ward. 

Dillian put his life back together, returning to work healthier than ever before, but Lehman itself had seemingly gone mad, having made outrageous bets on commercial real estate, and was quickly headed for self-destruction. 

A raucous account of the final years of Lehman Brothers, from 9/11 at its World Financial Center offices through the firm’s bankruptcy, including vivid portraits of trading-floor culture, the financial meltdown, and the company’s ultimate collapse, Street Freak is a raw, visceral, and wholly original memoir of life inside the belly of the beast during the most tumultuous time in financial history. In his electrifying and fresh voice, Dillian takes readers on a wild ride through madness and back, both inside Lehman Brothers and himself.” – Street Freak

My Thoughts
Wall Street isn’t a place that I’d personally want to work at. Reading about it through Jared Dillian’s rise at Lehman Brothers was somewhat interesting. However, the author’s ups and downs with bipolar disorder make the book uneasy to read. For someone who wrote the book that considers themself so intelligent, I am a bit surprised by the lack of actual substance in this “memoir.” It is shaky, written in vain, and was a huge waste of my time reading any of it.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone except maybe some of the author’s family or friends. Other than that, I don’t see who else would praise such a book.

* Thank you to the publisher of Street Freak, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 12, 2012

The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook by Natalie Fee

The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook by Natalie Fee is a fun read that will hopefully make you happier. This isn’t your average self-help book on the subject though; this one cuts out the nonsense, and takes a more practical route to help you reach your goal of being happy.

Book Description
Packed with practical, down to earth advice, “The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook” offers a set of highly accessible and effective tools to help each of us live brighter, happier lives.

Through her refreshing blend of stories, practices and everyday insights, Natalie Fee describes, in an intimate and naturally open way, the process through which we can all better understand what genuine contentment and well-being is… and how we can achieve it.” – The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook

My Thoughts
The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook is a small book with a large splash of happiness in the pool of life. The book is laid out in three parts: The Proposal, The Mystic Marriage, and The Happily Ever After. The topics woven throughout the book easily guide you along your life decisions and how you can turn your happiness meter to be bursting at the top, instead of slumming somewhere down on mediocre (or worse).

Natalie Fee writes in a very down to earth way, which makes this book easy to devour in an afternoon. She writes like she is your best friend, but gives you advice and suggestions that your best friend could probably use, too. In fact, if you read this book, share it with your BFF to help make their life happier.

Overall, I am happier from reading this book. I enjoyed it and think that everyone could use more happiness in their life, so I highly recommend this book for everyone to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 11, 2012

Logitech Gaming Mouse G500 Review

Looking for a gaming mouse that is affordable, comfortable, and gives you an edge in your gaming? Well, look no further because I have found the mouse that will change your gaming and general mouse use forever.

  • Gaming-grade laser – Game-changing precision at any hand speed. Whether you’re zeroing in on one pixel or whipping across a million at full speed, the gaming-grade laser gives you hard-to-beat cursor control. 
  • Onboard memory – You can save your settings on the mouse. A ready-to-play profile (for keyboard macros and dpi settings) stores critical info for your favorite title.
  • Weight tuning – Prefer a heavier or lighter mouse? Up to 27 grams of extra weights lets you mix-and-match for personalized feel and control.
  • Dual mode scroll wheel – You get precise click to click scrolling that’s perfect for weapon selection when you’re gaming. Hyper-fast scrolling lets you fly through long Web pages.
  • Adjustable sensitivity – You can shift from pixel-precise targeting (200 dpi) to lightning-fast maneuvers (up to 5700 dpi) in an instant.
  • 10 programmable buttons – You can program buttons to put valuable macros in your hand.

My Thoughts
To be honest, I was always curious about what made “gaming” mice so much different from a regular mouse. They both move the cursor and click stuff, so really, why pay so much more for a “gaming” mouse? Well, there is a huge difference between a standard mouse and a gaming mouse, which I discovered in the first few minutes of testing out my new mouse.

The first thing I noticed is that this mouse is comfortable to use. It fits in my hand perfectly, and doesn’t strain my wrist. I have big problems with the wrist that uses the mouse, so this is a huge plus for me. I am right-handed, if you were curious about that. I’m not sure if it would be a good mouse for a left-handed person. I tried testing it out for my left-handed readers, but I can use it with my left hand just about as well as I can write with my left hand.

Having the option of the dual mode scroll wheel is a very nice feature on this mouse. When I am playing a game with it, I usually have it locked in for the click to click scrolling. However, when using it for anything else, I can easily push the button to make it scroll at the hyper-fast speed. This is perfect for using with any type of webpage viewing.

I did try out the extra weights for the mouse, but I like mine light. I can see how people would like it either way though.

The programmable buttons are also easy to set and use when gaming. They are easy for me push and remember what I set them to do. The buttons are also positioned in easy to access spots on the mouse, which makes it easier to use when gaming as well. These buttons are a very cool feature for the mouse, so if you’ve never used a feature like this before, don’t be too intimidated not to try them out.

The Logitech Gaming Mouse G500 is everything I could have wanted in my first gaming mouse and more. As a gamer, I never knew just how much I was missing out on by only using a regular “standard” mouse to do my gaming with. However, now that I have made the leap to a more advanced mouse, I am never going back! If you are looking for a new mouse to play your games with, or even just browse the web, I highly suggest this mouse.

Disclosure: Thank you to Logitech for providing me with the product for review. All opinions, experiences, and thoughts about the product being reviewed are my own.

September 7, 2012

A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings by Cassandra Eason

A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings by Cassandra Eason covers everything from the origin of fairies to evidence of these fantastic beings. Exercises for you to experience them are also included, so if this is something you have been interested in, this is a great book to start your fairy journey with.

Book Description
A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings is a wonderful companion for those who wish to tour an enchanted world. Cassandra Eason begins with the myths, legends, and real evidence surrounding the origins and existence of fairies and then takes us on a journey throughout the world to introduce us to the many different varieties of these mysterious beings.

From fairies to Viking giants, selkies to gnomes, fey beings abound. In this spritely volume, Eason shares fascinating anecdotes of people who have actually seen them. And if you'd like to meet them yourself, Eason also provides simple techniques, exercises, and rituals to attract, find, and communicate with the little people. Hang silver bells by a window. Keep potted plants in your home. Or sit quietly between two oaks at dusk or dawn.

Fairyland mirrors universal human issues: fortune versus misfortune, fate versus free will, perfection and imperfection, illusion and objective reality, different time scales, the existence of parallel dimensions, and the duality of human nature. Some people even believe that fairies are becoming more visible again, as they were in pre-industrial days, to remind us of the consequences of consumer society--the danger of being seduced by our own versions of fairy gold.” – A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings

My Thoughts
A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings is one of my favorite books about fairies, and I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve been enchanted by the fae ever since I can remember, so everything I am lucky enough to find with them, I take the time to read and enjoy. This book ranks up in the top of my list, so I am really happy I get to share what I think about this book with everyone.

This book goes beyond just a simple guide; it explains and gives evidence for the fairies. The amount of research that went into this book is amazing, and it is compiled in a very easy to read and enjoyable manner. There are many different types of fairies, and the author does an excellent job differentiating between them. What I enjoyed most in this book is all of the exercises that were added to help the reader really connect with these fun and sometimes mischievous nature spirits. If you do buy this book, be sure you don’t just skip over these.

If you or someone you know loves fairies, this is the book to read. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of A Complete Guide to Faeries and Magical Beings, Weiser Books, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 4, 2012

Guild Wars 2 – Worth the Wait?

Guild Wars 2 was officially launched on August 28, 2012. I was part of the three day head start since I pre-purchased it, so I’ve been playing since August 25. I haven’t been posting much mostly due to this highly fun and addictive game.

After waiting for five years for this video game to be available to play, was it really worth the wait?


This game is so much fun. Sure, the original Guild Wars game was tons of fun, too. However, this one takes it to the top tier of the next level of gaming. The graphics are stunning, the storyline is customizable and so creative (the writers at ArenaNet are amazing), the audio is fabulous, and it is fully explorable with large groups throughout the world.

As always, I started my first character out as an Elementalist. I’m almost level 60 after a little over a week of dedicated playing. The max is level 80, but the game doesn’t stop once you reach that level. There are tons of areas to explore, dungeons to conquer, and dragons to slay. The crafting system is also something I’m taking some time to work on as well.

The armor in the game is designed beautifully, and as a female gamer, that is a huge bonus for me. I love finding cool new things to wear on my characters. The dye system is also different in this game. You have to find or craft an “Unidentified Dye” to unlock a random dye for your character. Once it is unlocked on that character, you can use it on any items of clothing your character wears. I was lucky enough to get one of the black shades titled “Abyss” as one of my first dyes.

Unlike every other MMO I’ve ever played, Guild Wars 2 doesn’t make us fight over monsters to slay out in the world. We can help one another kill something (even if not in the same party) and everyone who helped out gets credit (and drops) for the kill. People are also rewarded with experience points for helping raise people who were killed in battle. Mining, logging, and harvesting spots are also available to everyone and only disappear for you after you’ve gotten them. They eventually respawn for you, but this way of gathering items is so much better than other games I’ve played such as Final Fantasy XI.

All new games have some issues, and this one is no exception. There have been some bugs, account issues, and other things that have happened since the release. I’ve even been affected by some of these. However, it is not enough for me to not want to play the game.

Guild Wars 2 is the best new MMO of the year, and quite possibly for many years to come. If you consider yourself a “gamer” this is one video game you must play right away. It is too fun to miss out on!  

Up All Night by Carol Miller

Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio by Carol Miller is a unique memoir of one of the first female rock DJs. Carol was a voice of a generation that could be heard at night over Rock Radio in New York. She is still on the air, and is even featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her stories of rockstars are mixed in with tales of her own struggles with life brilliantly, which makes this memoir highly captivating.

Book Description
The all-American chronicle of radio legend Carol Miller, from her rise to success in a male dominated world, to the rockstars she's know along the way, to, for the first time, the private story of her quietly waged battle with a deadly disease.

As one of the nation's top radio DJs, Carol Miller introduced the music of Bruce Springsteen to the New York airwaves, was on a first-name basis with Sir Paul McCartney, dated Steven Tyler, and has been recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her on-air approach and singular voice have influenced the sound of rock radio for more than four decades, and her satellite and syndicated Get the Led Out programs are heard nationwide.

In Up All Night, Carol spins the entertaining, moving, and revealing story of her life and times in rock radio and beyond. A nice Jewish girl from Queens, Carol was supposed to be a doctor or, at the very least, a lawyer. But hearing a doo-wop trio in the alley under her window changed the direction of her life forever: she fell in love with popular music.

As the tumult and excitement of the sixties rocked colleges across America, Carol—a biology major at the University of Pennsylvania—became an underground rock DJ at the campus radio station. Radio jobs in Philadelphia and New York City quickly followed, and Carol rose to the top of the profession. But even as she enjoyed a professional and personal life imbued with rock and roll glamour, Carol harbored guilt, disappointment, and alienation, believing she'd failed her traditional, intellectual Jewish parents and often feeling like an outsider in the very culture she had helped to create. The specter of an unnamed illness that had claimed many of her relatives' lives hung over hers as well, and she too would face a monumental challenge when diagnosed with breast and uterine cancer. Told in the distinctive voice that has charmed millions of listeners for decades, Up All Night is a frank, funny, and inspiring memoir. Offering snapshots of the rarefied world of pop music and the shifting social history of our times, it is as much a cultural chronicle as it is one woman's candid and moving story.” – Up All Night

My Thoughts
Carol Miller’s life story is fun, motivating, sad, funny, and honestly real. She details highly intriguing stories with rock legends that she has interviewed and met over the years, as well as become friends with. It starts out with her first encounter with Steven Tyler in a hotel room, and no, it isn’t what you think. The stories only get better from there, but it is her courage to share with all of us her personal struggle with breast cancer and uterine cancer that moved me the most.

Up All Night is a memoir, and some people just don’t like reading those. I am not one of those people, but even if you are one of those people that don’t find it interesting to read real stories, please but that bias aside for this book. Carol Miller’s real life story is so interesting and inspiring that this memoir should not be skipped. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Up All Night, Ecco, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 1, 2012

Psychic Readings with the Thinkers of Heaven by John and Martha McGinnis

Psychic Readings with the Thinkers of Heaven by John and Martha McGinnis is a book that showcases Martha as a psychic and uses channeling methods to get the information that is transcribed in it. If you are not a fan of books such as this, then obviously this isn’t for you. Don’t even bother reading this review. However, if you are open minded and enjoy books such as this, then keep reading and check it out.

Book Description
Extraordinary psychic medium Martha McGinnis transcribes detailed, one-hour conversations with spiritual and historical figures. Persons contacted through this channeling process include religious leaders (Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, and Lao Tzu), political figures (Churchill, Gandhi, and Lincoln), natural scientists (Einstein, Galileo, and Feynman), social scientists (Jung and Friedman), writers and artists (Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and Leonardo da Vinci), philosophers (Plato and Emerson), and jurists (Holmes and Bacon). 

We ask readers to suspend disbelief and consider the profound implications of this new view of a benevolent universe, which differs dramatically from views offered by either clergymen or scientific materialists. These path-breaking psychic readings demonstrate that God is an All-Forgiving and All-Loving figure, there is no Hell or Purgatory, and virtually all persons obtain admission to heaven. These readings describe in rich detail the activities of men and women in heaven, heaven’s view of progress on earth, and the best means to worship and serve God. The final interview with the Father-Mother God states this: “I want every man and woman to hear that they are uniquely beloved. My wish is to glorify each person’s unique individuality. That is what God wants to do. God wants to reach out and pull every suffering heart into consciousness of its own beauty and glory, and to make all people understand how well beloved they are—cherished, treasured. I want to bring about this understanding and this acceptance.” These channeled interviews are full of new biographical and historical information, as well as fascinating insights into science, the creative process, planetary evolution, political science, and global economics. This volume ends with practical advice on channeling techniques useful for others.” – Psychic Readings with the Thinkers of Heaven

My Thoughts
Psychic Readings with the Thinkers of Heaven is an interesting look at life after death, heaven, and much more. You get out of this book what you are meant to. Not everything written in it will resonate with everyone. However, the things that you do hold true to your beliefs, and the things that the book allows you to process and open your own mind up to can be beneficial for you.

* Thank you to the author of Psychic Readings with the Thinkers of Heaven for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.