February 24, 2013

The Sims 3: 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff Review

The Sims 3: 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff is all about adding fashions and trends that were big hits in these decades, to your game. Fashionable new choices for your Sims can turn an average Sim into an interesting Sim that is the talk of the town. The new décor can turn a boring home into the coolest afterschool hangout, or the place where the best parties in town are at. How you want to use the new items is up to you!

Game Description
Give your Sims the hottest looks and coolest décor from yesteryear with The Sims 3 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff. Rock all-new outfits, crazy hairstyles, and facial hair. Sport a 70s disco look with a wide-collared suit and bell-bottom pants, go 80s glam with shoulder pads and bangle earrings, or throw on a rumpled flannel shirt for a wild 90s grunge look. And don’t forget to redecorate your Sims’ homes to suit the decade! The Starlight Party Ball or the Neonis Foosball Table will totally give your Sims’ homes that perfect flashback touch. Bring back all the crazy trends, from feathered hair to parachute pants to console stereos as your Sims warp back in time.

Get fashion essentials and on-trend décor to outfit your Sims and their homes in stylish looks of decades past.

o     The Groovy 70s
—Pump the tunes on your Sims’ stereo system and show off their moves—and their righteous threads. From flared jeans and bellbottoms to halter top catsuits and platforms shoes, your Sims are ready to boogie the night away in style!
Décor—Add some righteous décor to your Sims’ home with a console stereo system, minimalist furnishings, a far out disco ball, and more. Can you dig it?

o     The Awesome 80s
—Don some legwarmers, a leotard, and a headband and your Sim is ready to get physical—at the gym, that is! Outfitted in a vibrant structured suit with shoulder pads, they’re set to bound up the career ladder. Whatever their activity, with the awesome 80s attire, they’re dressed for success, for sure!
Décor—Set your Sims up with radical pinup wall art, tubular arcade games, and a, like totally slick entertainment system—and let the shimmies start shaking!

o     The Grunge 90s
—Whether your Sims are sporting the anti-fashion grunge look in tattered jeans and layered tops or a casual-chic outfit featuring an asymmetrical handkerchief hemline skirt, they’re sure to get mad props for their 90s fashion sense.
Décor—Drag out the distressed furniture for an industrial metal look that says you don’t care about the establishment—even if secretly you do.

o     New hairstyles and facial hair—Complete your Sims’ flashback look with new hairstyles from their favorite decade, from the feathered look of the 70s to the poofed tease of the 80s to a lank grunge ‘do of the 90s and more.” – The Sims 3: 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff

My Thoughts
The Sims 3: 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff is a really fun addition to the game. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so I know those decades very well. Dressing my Sims in looks from these decades was fun, and I added in some of the new décor to give a fun retro vibe.

There are new hairstyles for men and women included, and some facial hair for the guys. The new additions definitely show off the decades being portrayed, which is fun, and I liked it. However, not enough were added, at least in my opinion. I only counted 4 for women and 2 for men.

The new clothing was my favorite part of the “Stuff” pack. However, again, not as many were included as I would have liked. Women got more than the men, as usual. Not that I mind this, but for stuff packs, I think they should really give you more than what they have been offering in this category. Toddlers, children, teen, and elderly Sims should also be given additions. There also weren’t any new designs (with fabrics) that I noticed. They could have made some really cool additions in this category that could be used with all types of clothing and furnishings, so it is a bummer that they didn’t utilize this as part of their stuff pack.

The 1980s seems to be the main decade they featured in this addition to the game. Most of the content included is from this era. There are items from all three decades, but the main focus looks like it is very late 70s to early to mid 80s.

Overall, I enjoy the new additions that this Stuff pack brings. I wish there were more of it, but that is usually the case. If you are a diehard Sims 3 fan, and want to add in more fun content for your game, this is definitely a Stuff pack you want. Same goes if you want to bring in items from these decades. However, if you want more content, I’d hold out and wait for The Sims 3: University or another expansion pack where you get more for your money.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Sims 3: 70s, 80s, & 90s Stuff, Electronic Arts, and Gamers Gate for providing me with a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it. All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.

February 23, 2013

E-Squared by Pam Grout

E-Squared by Pam Grout is provides nine powerful experiments that you can do to create what you want out of your reality. She claims that they work, but it is up to you to try them and prove it for yourself. Are you willing to try to see if it works for you, too?

Book Description
Don't face reality. Create reality! 

E-Squared could best be described as a lab manual with simple experiments to prove once and for all that reality is malleable, that consciousness trumps matter, and that you shape your life with your mind. Rather than take it on faith, you are invited to conduct nine 48-hour experiments to prove there really is a positive, loving, totally hip force in the universe. Yes, you read that right. It says prove. The experiments, each of which can be conducted with absolutely no money and very little time expenditure, demonstrate that spiritual principles are as dependable as gravity, as consistent as Newton's laws of motion. For years, you've been hoping and praying that spiritual principles are true. Now, you can know.

E-Squared proves the following:
1. There is an invisible energy force or field of infinite possibilities.
2. You impact the field and draw from it according to your beliefs and expectations.
3. You, too, are a field of energy.
4. Whatever you focus on expands.
5. Your connection to the field provides accurate and unlimited guidance.
6. Your thoughts and consciousness impact matter.
7. Your thoughts and consciousness provide the scaffolding for your physical body.
8. You are connected to everything and everyone else in the universe.
9. The universe is limitless, abundant, and strangely accommodating.” – E-Squared

My Thoughts
E-Squared is a book that can truly change the way that you look at the world, and also change what happens in your world. Pam Grout gives examples of experiments that you can try to see if it will work for you, and prove to yourself that by doing some simple steps and changing how you view the world, will in fact work with you to create what you want!

I found this to be a fun and uplifting read, and I am going to try the experiments myself later this week. If you are someone who wants to change their life for the better, or know someone who does, this is a great guidebook to get you there!

* Thank you to the publisher of E-Squared, Hay House, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Integrative Wellness Rules by Dr. James P. Nicolai

Integrative Wellness Rules by Dr. James P. Nicolai is a book for your health that combines health, fitness, mind, body, and soul, with the author’s personal stories, wit, and wisdom. This is a truly integrative book on wellness that aims at helping you as a whole person.

Book Description
Have you ever found that you needed to change things in your life, but for some reason life kept getting in the way? 

Integrative Wellness Rules will help you get around that obstacle. In the age of conflicting advice on health, this book provides quick and easy health tips for individuals who are on the run but still need strategies to better manage their fast-paced lives. Join Dr. Jim Nicolai-the medical director of the Andrew Weil, M.D., Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval Resort and Spa-as he shares with you the insights and strategies he has collected along the way to optimize health and create wellness.

With a style that is clear, concise, and entertaining, Dr. Nicolai will provide you with the keys to healthier living in a way that is profoundly simple and yet simply profound. You will learn how to eat better, choose the vitamins and supplements that are best for you, manage stress more effectively, and get in touch with your spiritual side. Dr. Nicolai will call you to action with his pearls of wit, wisdom, and humor, and motivate you by providing real-world clarity on which health strategies to add within your already busy life.” – Integrative Wellness Rules

My Thoughts
Integrative Wellness Rules is a great book to read by a doctor that isn’t preachy or harsh on people who aren’t exactly being very healthy. Some doctors who author books (not mentioning any names) are the exact opposite, which don’t exactly make me a happy reader who wants to read the rest of the book, or follow their advice. I am very glad that Dr. Nicolai takes a more soulful and helping approach in this book. It is truly integrative wellness for the whole body, and is an excellent book to read to motivate anyone to approach their wellbeing in a more healthy way. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to change their life for the better.

* Thank you to the publisher of Integrative Wellness Rules, Hay House, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones is set in a small rural town in Kentucky. The characters are lonely, somewhat self-proclaimed outcasts who are hiding secrets of their own. This heartbreaking tale will keep you reading long into the night to find out what happens next.

Book Description
In The Next Time You See Me, the disappearance of one woman, the hard-drinking and unpredictable Ronnie Eastman, reveals the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents. There’s Ronnie’s sister Susanna, a dutiful but dissatisfied schoolteacher, mother, and wife; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective; Emily, a socially awkward thirteen-year-old with a dark secret; and Wyatt, a factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Connected in ways they cannot begin to imagine, their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.” – The Next Time You See Me

My Thoughts
The Next Time You See Me is a very character driven book that creates a Southern town and its residents that could be so true to life, it is eerie. The main characters are memorable, and have qualities that everyone can relate to, even if to a small degree. My personal favorite was Emily, the outcast thirteen year old. However, Susanna is a close second. The lonely characters make you want to hug them, and help them through the story, which becomes woven together like a literary master. Fantastic story that is a great read for anyone. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Next Time You See Me, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Mirage by Matt Ruff

The Mirage by Matt Ruff is a story that recreates the 9/11 story to a completely different reality. One where the Christian States of America is a demoralized war zone, and fundamentalist Christians hijacked planes to take down the United Arab States.

Book Description
A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage—in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of The New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee—a war hero named Osama bin Laden—will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.

Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.” – The Mirage

My Thoughts
The Mirage is the type of book that goes against the normality of mainstream books that aim at becoming bestsellers. Matt Ruff chose to create his story of an alternate history of 9/11, and deals with the moral, political, and religious issues that would surround this “War on Terror.” A brave move from an author that could be brilliant, or fall flat on its face, destined for the clearance rack.

For me, I think it worked out well. The author is able to create an alternate reality (without getting all sci-fi), and looks at the societal and cultural ethics of that reality, as well as shining the light on our current ethics and social norms. It is a thought provoking thriller that is much too good to give away surprises. So, if you want to jump into an alternate zone and find out “what if”, read this book!

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

February 22, 2013

Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr

Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr is aimed to help you become empowered by who you are as a person. The tips and resources included in the book are great starters for anyone who needs a little extra help to uncover their unique gifts.

Book Description
Miranda Kerr is many things supermodel, activist, wife, and mother-but she is also an emerging voice in the world of self-empowerment. Now she has written a book to shine the light of positivity on those who need it most.

"I wish to share my inspiration with you so that you will treasure and believe in yourself," she explains. "If you have faith in your abilities and accept who you are, you will uncover your unique gifts. We all have wings, but it is up to each one of us to have the courage to fly.

"My hope is that my words and the affirmations I have included will help empower you to reach for your dreams, even in difficult times. With action, anything in life is possible."” – Treasure Yourself

My Thoughts
Treasure Yourself is a book that reads like it was actually written by the celebrity author, which I like. I know that some celebrity books (on a variety of topics) read like their editor red-penned everything and completely changed what they wrote. This one doesn’t do that, and if they did, well, I can’t tell, sorry! BUT – that is what I like about it. Miranda Kerr wrote this book that does focus on learning how to actually treasure yourself for who you are as a person, and reading it, does sound like it is coming from her own voice.

This is a truly inspiring book that leaves me feeling uplifted each time I read it. The quotes and insight in the book are great, and I couldn’t ask for more with what the book is. If you need some self-treasuring tips, this is the book for you!

* Thank you to the publisher of Treasure Yourself, Hay House, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

February 11, 2013

Mardi Gras - Polyvore Style!

I love New Orleans and Mardi Gras. I can't make it this year, as nursing school has taken over my life, but I have this fun set I made on Polyvore to share with you to celebrate!

Mardi Gras

February 10, 2013

The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids by Ammi-Joan Paquette

The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids by Ammi-Joan Paquette is a fun children’s book that will take kids on an adventure to find mermaids. The illustrations are a mixture of realism and artwork that makes for a beautiful way to give kids a sense of imagination and adventure.

Book Description
Have you ever walked on the beach and looked for shells or clams? There are creatures, more like you and me, who are even more interesting to look for. Most people don't see them, but they might just not know how to look for signs. That sand dollar - why, that could be a mermaid-size surfboard. Those twisted reeds - a bed for a lovely afternoon mermaid nap. And if you peer closely into the water, you might see a mermaid market.

This is a lovely activity for a fun day at the beach and a way to encourage paying close attention to all the interesting things that can be found on the beach or in the water.” – The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids

My Thoughts
The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids is a beautifully designed book to bring an imaginative fun-filled day for children going on a mermaid tracking adventure at the beach. If you don’t live near a beach, or aren’t visiting one soon, you can always alter this to be at a lake or river, mermaids surely live there, too.

This book isn’t just for kids, the parents who read this with their children will enjoy it, too. It is a delightful book, and if you are reading this with a child who is just starting to learn to read, it will be even better helping them through it, and discovering mermaids and magical things with each page.

The creative insight with this book is fantastic. I absolutely love how much fun it is, and how it brings imagination, a sense of wonder and adventure to adults as well as children. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, Tanglewood Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Know Yourself, Forget Yourself by Marc Lesser

Know Yourself, Forget Yourself by Marc Lesser is a book to help you find out what your life’s purpose really is. Many of us struggle with finding the “right” job, or path in life, and Marc Lesser helps us discover it within ourselves. When reading this book and figuring it out, you might end up surprising yourself by where you end up going in life.

Book Description
We all yearn for clear-cut answers to life’s problems, yet we rarely get them. Formulas fail and contradictions mount. In Know Yourself, Forget Yourself, executive coach and mindfulness teacher Marc Lesser shows that understanding and embracing the points where life feels most confusing, most contradictory can lead us to more satisfaction and joy.

Lesser provides clear guidance and simple practices for embracing five central paradoxes in life and navigating them to increase our effectiveness and happiness. Influenced by the revolutionary mindfulness and emotional intelligence trainings he helped develop at Google, Know Yourself, Forget Yourself is a profound book about cultivating the emotional skills to understand the right path through difficulties and challenges.” – Know Yourself, Forget Yourself

My Thoughts
Know Yourself, Forget Yourself is a book many of us need to read. We end up doing many things through the course of our lives that take us off the path we were meant to live. Getting back on track isn’t always easy, and many times, we’re just not sure what to do, where to go, and feel stuck. I know I’ve felt this way many times. I ended up rediscovering my purpose on my own, but if I had this book, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted quite a few years in the process of figuring it out.

My favorite part of the book is banishing perfectionism. I am one of those people who usually want to do everything perfect, or not do it at all. It doesn’t really have to be that way though! Also, be confident and question everything. I have had issues with this in the past (and present), and really hope to be able to change this about myself.

This is an incredibly helpful and eye-wakening book. If you aren’t ready to live up to your full potential, don’t read this book. If you want to change and become who you are meant to be, please read this book! I highly recommend it.

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

Splurge or Steal: Nautical Stripes

I love making the "Splurge or Steal" sets on Polyvore, and this is my latest. This just goes to show you that you can look great for less!

Splurge or Steal: Nautical Stripes

February 9, 2013

Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner

Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner is about cooking great food, and savoring the experience of a good meal with family and friends. The recipes included are vegan, but that doesn’t mean you have to be in order to enjoy them. Try the recipes, enjoy the stories, and have fun and truly enjoy food again.

Book Description
What do we turn to for both everyday sustenance and seasonal celebration? Food. Often, though, we’re like the hungry ghosts of Taoist lore, eating mindlessly, wandering aimlessly, and wanting more — more than food itself can provide. Ellen Kanner believes that if we put in a little thought and preparation, every meal can feed not only our bodies but our souls and our communities as well. Warm, wicked, and one-of-a-kind, Ellen offers an irreverent approach to bringing reverence into daily living — and eating. She presents global vegan recipes that call you to the table, stories that make you stand up and cheer, and gentle nudges that aim to serve up what we’re hungry for: a more vital self, more loving and meaningful connections, a nourished and nourishing world, and great food, too. Feeding the Hungry Ghost will challenge you to decide: keep reading or start cooking?” – Feeding the Hungry Ghost

My Thoughts
Feeding the Hungry Ghost is a beautiful mixture of stories with recipes to feed your body and soul. This is a vegan book that reminds us that food is meant to be shared with family and friends, and enjoyed. Food is good and even better when it is bought locally when it is in season.

Although the author does stress going vegan, it is not something that is for everyone. However, everyone can enjoy the recipes and stories included in the book. Make some of the recipes for yourself and see if you like them, and want to incorporate them into your meals throughout the seasons.

Some of my favorite recipes included in the book:
  • Lavender Tea
  • Down and Dirty Rice
  • Unconventional but Seductive Veggie Paella
  • Moroccan Carrot Salad

I enjoyed reading this book and discovering some truly new and tasty recipes. If you like food (and honestly, who doesn’t?), try this book and the recipes in it. I highly recommend it.

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

A Guide to Zen by Katsuki Sekida

A Guide to Zen by Katsuki Sekida is a condensed version of the author’s work “Zen Training.” This version of the book was edited down by Marc Allen to include the Zen Master’s original teachings in a much shorter and condensed manner. If you wish to learn more about Zen, and how it can help the quality of your life, be sure to read this book!

Book Description
Katsuki Sekida was both a great writer and a great Zen master, and his books on Zen are among the most comprehensive ever written in English. In these pages, his former student Marc Allen culls the finest pieces from the original works to create a beautifully readable, brilliantly illuminating guide to Zen meditation. It begins with a summary of Zen, continues with a complete course in Zen meditation, and ends with comments on a Zen classic, In Search of the Missing Ox. Specific practices are featured throughout, such as “One-Minute Zazen” and other gems that are the result of a lifetime of study. For students of Zen both new and old, Sekida’s teachings are an endless source of insight and wisdom.” – A Guide to Zen

My Thoughts
A Guide to Zen is a marvelous little book. It starts off with a summary of Zen that makes it simple enough for someone who knows nothing about it to understand. The Zen meditations included are a great tool for newcomers and practitioners to use.

For me though, I love the stories included, and the teachings of what Zen really is. Just reading this book makes me calmer, and in a highly stressful college major, that is truly amazing.

I love this guide. It is simple, to the point, and contains so much knowledge and help within the pages. It is a book that is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about understanding Zen, and can definitely impact the quality of one’s life who reads it. I highly recommend it.

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

Gods of Mischief by George Rowe

Gods of Mischief by George Rowe is a look into the author’s undercover mission to help the federal government take down the vicious Vagos motorcycle gang. It is fast paced, dirty, and full of danger. It reads like a season of a television show or a movie that is just too crazy to be true, but for Rowe, it is very real indeed.

Book Description
The high-octane, no-holds-barred, true story of a bad guy turned good who infiltrated one of the most violent outlaw motorcycle gangs in history to take them down. 

It’s the morning of March 9, 2006, hours before one of the largest motorcycle gang busts in United States history, and George Rowe can’t sleep. He keeps thinking about the past three years he spent as an informant for the ATF, working undercover with the Vagos, one of the most dangerous biker gangs in the country. His fiancée, a struggling heroin addict carrying their unborn child, is asleep next to him. She’s got no idea who he really is, what he’s done, or what’s about to happen. How in the hell, Rowe wonders, did it go so far and get so deep?

A gritty and harrowing memoir about human redemption and self-sacrifice, Gods of Mischief tells the story of the first private citizen to voluntarily infiltrate an outlaw motorcycle gang for the U.S. government. George Rowe, drug dealer, barroom brawler, and convicted felon, never thought he’d work for the feds. But when he watched the Vagos brutally and senselessly beat his friend everything changed. He decided to pay back his Southern California hometown by bringing down the gang that terrorized it. As “Big George,” a full-patched member of the Vagos, Rowe spent three brutal years juggling a double life—riding, fighting, and nearly dying alongside the brothers that he secretly hoped to put away for good. The road to redemption wasn’t an easy ride. Rowe lost everything: his family, his business, his home — even his identity. To this day, under protection by the U.S. government, Rowe still looks over his shoulder, keeping watch for the brothers he put behind bars. They’ve vowed to search for him until the day they die.” – Gods of Mischief

My Thoughts
Gods of Mischief is the type of book that hooks you from the beginning. It is an incredibly well-written account of the author’s life as an informant for the federal government, aimed to take down the violent Vagos motorcycle gang that wreaked havoc on his hometown. However, the author quickly learns that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and he is in way over his head.

Rowe is able to deliver his story with the passion and brutal honesty only someone who has lived it could ever do a memoir like this justice. It cuts out the Hollywood glamorization of gangsters and crime, and shows how things really are. It will leave you with a much different perspective of criminals and gangsters than when you first started reading. Not all are bad, some can change (such as the author), some are worse than you could ever have imagined, and they are much scarier in real life than they are in the movies.

This is a book that is well worth reading. The story is truly remarkable, and is one that I predict could be easily made into a blockbuster movie. I highly recommend it.

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

February 8, 2013

Effortless Mind by Ajayan Borys

Effortless Mind by Ajayan Borys teaches the reader about meditation, and how to have an effortless mind. Meditation shouldn’t be hard, and he explains how to do it with ease. This is a great beginner manual for meditating.

Book Description
Beginners and long-term meditators alike will appreciate Ajayan Borys’s counterintuitive teaching that one needn’t control the mind to experience the benefits of meditation. Instead, as with falling asleep, ease is essential. Effort fuels accomplishment in the world of action, but in the realm of meditation, struggle blocks success. And just as dreams are a natural part of restful sleep, thoughts during meditation are no obstacle to receiving wonderful, revitalizing results.

With clear, user-friendly instruction, Ajayan presents classic techniques that can empower even beginners to experience deep, effective meditation and can help veterans go deeper. Offering eye-opening insights about finding growth and bliss in everyday life, Effortless Mind is filled with the practical and inspirational wisdom of a consummate teacher.” – Effortless Mind

My Thoughts
Effortless Mind is a book that can honestly teach anyone how to meditate. It isn’t just for those who are very Zen and peaceful. Meditation can truly be for anyone, and Ajayan Borys shows that to anyone who reads this book.

In a society where everyone is always on the go and trying to do more, meditation seems like it would be so hard to do. I’ve tried to meditate many times, and often, I’m afraid I’m doing it wrong. To get right down to the truth of it though, as long as you are trying, you are doing it. It isn’t really that hard. The first step is wanting to do it, the second is finding a teacher or a book to help you achieve it. This is the best book I’ve found to do it.

This book covers the basics of meditation, and then eases the reader into learning how to do different types of meditation. Included in the book is chakra meditation, mantra meditation, and meditations to promote health and longevity. You may find that you like certain types of meditation more than others, or that you can only do one or two effectively, at least for now – and that is okay!

I found this book to be incredibly helpful with meditation. It does a fantastic job explaining the types of meditations, and how to do them. I highly recommend it.

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

Deadly Stakes by J.A. Jance

Deadly Stakes by J.A. Jance continues the “Ali Reynolds” mystery series, making for the eighth book in the series. Fans of the series will love Ali’s investigation techniques, and close calls throughout the book.

Book Description
A thrilling mystery from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance starring Ali Reynolds, who finds herself working against the police to clear two innocent names…with deadly stakes.

In Deadly Stakes, police academy-trained former reporter Ali Reynolds is contacted to investigate the grisly murder of a gold-digging divorcee on behalf of a woman accused of the crime. Lynn Martinson is dating the dead woman’s ex-husband, and she and her boyfriend Chip Ralston have been charged. 

Ali is simultaneously drawn to the case of A.J. Sanders, a frightened teen with secrets of his own. He’s the first to find the body in the Camp Verde desert when he goes to retrieve a mysterious buried box hidden by his absent father—a box that turns out to be filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in poker chips. 

When the body of an ex-con is discovered near the first crime scene, Ali struggles to determine if A.J. and Lynn’s cases are related. Though her friends in the police department grow increasingly irritated by her involvement with the cases, Ali must stop a deadly killer from claiming another victim…before she herself is lost in this game of deadly stakes.” – Deadly Stakes

My Thoughts
Deadly Stakes features the lovely Ali Reynolds, a “police academy-trained former reporter.” She is the type of character who can go through just about anything, and still come out looking fabulous, oh and solve the crime or mystery before the police do.

The characters are a bit unbelievable, so is the plot and subplots of the story, but who really cares? It is fiction and an escape from reality. It is a fun read and continues the Ali Reynolds mystery series. Fans of the series will likely love it, and I think newcomers to the series will enjoy it as well. Just don’t expect it to be very realistic.

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

February 6, 2013

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley is a complicated love story that brings up ethical questions when considering life and death. It is written in such a way that showcases the couple’s love for one another, while still focusing on the seriousness of the current situation.

Book Description
Matt Beaulieu was two years old the first time he held Elle McClure in his arms, seventeen when he first kissed her under a sky filled with shooting stars, and thirty-three when they wed. Now in their late thirties, the deeply devoted couple has everything—except the baby they've always wanted.

When a tragic accident leaves Elle brain-dead, Matt is devastated. Though he cannot bear losing her, he knows his wife, a thoughtful and adventurous scientist, feared only one thing—a slow death. Just before Matt agrees to remove Elle from life support, the doctors discover that she is pregnant. Now what was once a clear-cut decision becomes an impossible choice. Matt knows how much this child would have meant to Elle. While there is no certainty her body can sustain the pregnancy, he is sure Elle would want the baby to have a chance. Linney, Matt's mother, believes her son is blind with denial. She loves Elle, too, and insists that Elle would never want to be kept alive by artificial means, no matter what the situation.

Divided by the love they share, driven by principle, Matt and Linney fight for what each believes is right, and the result is a disagreement that escalates into a controversial legal battle, ultimately going beyond one family and one single life.

Told with sensitivity and compassion, The Promise of Stardust is an emotionally resonant and thought-provoking tale that raises profound questions about life and death, faith and medicine—and illuminates, with beauty and grace, the power of love to wound . . . and to heal.” – The Promise of Stardust

My Thoughts
Warning: The Promise of Stardust is the type of book that will make you cry. Be prepared and have plenty of tissues nearby when reading.

After the tragic accident that left Elle brain dead and on life support, her husband learns that she is pregnant with the child they had both longed to have. However, there is nothing about that in the decision for no life support. Elle’s husband, Matt believes that if she knew she was pregnant, Elle would have wanted their child to have a chance to live. Elle’s mother doesn’t want that for Elle though, and insists to have her daughter taken off life support. The legal issues and love story make for a highly thought provoking and sad tale of family loves and losses.

The characters were all created to be realistic, and as a reader, I had compassion and understanding for all sides of this tale. That isn’t an easy accomplishment, but Priscille Sibley created this story flawlessly. I’ll remember this story and the characters in it for a long time. I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good love story.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Promise of Stardust, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Literary Rogues by Andrew Shaffer

Literary Rogues by Andrew Shaffer is a humorous look at how racy, scandalous, and quite wild literary authors can be. Read about real life authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, James Frey, and many more.

Book Description
Rock stars, rappers, and actors haven't always had a monopoly on misbehaving. There was a time when authors fought with both words and fists, a time when poets were the ones living fast and dying young. This witty, insightful, and wildly entertaining narrative profiles the literary greats who wrote generation-defining classics such as The Great Gatsby and On the Road while living and loving like hedonistic rock icons, who were as likely to go on epic benders as they were to hit the bestseller lists. Literary Rogues turns back the clock to consider these historical (and, in some cases, living) legends, including Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Hunter S. Thompson, and Bret Easton Ellis. Brimming with fasci- nating research, Literary Rogues is part nostalgia, part literary analysis, and a wholly raucous celebration of brilliant writers and their occasionally troubled legacies.” – Literary Rogues

My Thoughts
Literary Rogues is a book that literary lovers will enjoy reading. It would make for a perfect gift for a friend or family member that has a bookcase (or more) filled with literary classics and New York Times bestsellers. Book lovers love books, and this is one that is about many of their favorite authors, so honestly, you can’t go wrong!

Andrew Shaffer has a fantastic sense of humor and wit that makes this book easy and fun to read. I learned more about some of my favorite authors, and enjoyed learning that many of them were also quite eccentric and wild. Authors aren’t boring people, and this book really shows how true that is! I love it and highly recommend it for everyone who loves reading, which should really be everyone, right?

* Thank you to the publisher of Literary Rogues, Harper Perennial, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

February 3, 2013

The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter by Jorge Cruise

The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter by Jorge Cruise is the guidebook to the author’s diet plan to help lose weight by cutting out hidden sugars and carbs in your diet. Learn how to do it quickly with this book and then use it daily as a guide to staying on plan to lose weight.

Book Description
Based on the revolutionary #1 New York Times bestseller that is changing the way America eats, this is the only supermarket guide that exposes the true cause of belly fat and disease: hidden sugar!

Transforming your health, energy, and waistline is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1. Unlock the secret to fat loss that food conglomerates don't want you to know.

2. Follow the one simple menu that tells you exactly what to eat to melt up to 9 pounds this week.

3. Discover thousands of "Belly Good" items that make shedding pounds each week a snap.

With a bonus dining-out section featuring menu items from some of your favorite restaurants, this comprehensive guide will help you look and feel your best in no time at all!” – The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter

My Thoughts
The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter is the book in Jorge Cruise’s program that acts as a handy little guide to counting your daily sugar and carb allowances. It doesn’t spend very many pages explaining the diet or giving you pre-designed meal plans. It does however give a very fast intro to the diet, in an easily understood manner to get started with it right away. Personally, I really like this about it. I don’t think it needs a hundred pages to explain something that is rather straightforward, so I like this short and simple approach to it.

I won’t say how many grams of sugar or carbs are allowed on this diet (buy the book to find that out!) but it is rather doable for most people, I think. Losing up to 9 lbs in the first week is enough to make me want to try this diet out soon. Plus, it doesn’t eliminate carbs and sugars all together like many other diets do. Those don’t work for me, so just cutting back and not eating the hidden sugars will hopefully work for me.

If you want to cut sugars and carbs down in your diet, but still eat some and lose weight, this is definitely a plan you’ll want to look into. I recommend checking it out and of course, before starting any diet plan, talk to your doctor.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter, Hay House, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Art of True Healing by Israel Regardie

The Art of True Healing by Israel Regardie and edited by Marc Allen is a book on Western mysticism that unveils how to use meditation exercises to help heal your body, mind, and spirit.

Book Description
The Art of True Healing details a powerful exercise that stimulates the body, mind, and spirit to help us create physical health and personal success. Originally published in 1932, predating by more than a half century the current interest in the mind’s power to heal, this concise work guides readers through what Israel Regardie calls the Middle Pillar meditation — a technique that combines the mystical concepts of yoga’s chakras and the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life to create a simple and effective healing tool.

In this edition, editor Marc Allen brings Regardie’s work into the twenty-first century — showing us how to unleash energy to heal our bodies and, ultimately, every part of our lives. Like few books before or since, The Art of True Healing provides both the theory and practices necessary for attaining well-being and fulfillment.” – The Art of True Healing

My Thoughts
The Art of True Healing is a magical little book filled with pages that can truly help to heal your physical body and your soul. You will learn about the force of life, how to awaken your energy center, the art of healing, tuning in to the infinite, and much more.

The “Middle Pillar” meditation can be used by all of us, not just those who have practiced meditation for years. Beginners may even be highly surprised by just how much they can benefit from reading this book and doing this meditation. After all, who doesn’t want to try something to help improve their lives and heal their health without the use of medications?

I like doing the meditations in this book because you can alter them to suit your needs. They aren’t something you have to do exactly like what is outlined, and for outside the box thinkers like myself, that is perfect! I highly recommend this book to all.

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

February 2, 2013

Review of “The Sims 3: Seasons”

 “The Sims 3: Seasons” is the expansion pack that is all about the changing seasons and different weather to expect during each one. Now your Sims will be able to experience the different holidays and activities that each season brings with it. If you love “The Sims 3” games, this is definitely an expansion pack you don’t want to skip!

Game Description
Let your Sims swim in the ocean on a hot summer day, bob for apples in the autumn leaves, test their snowboarding skill on the half pipe, or welcome spring showers with a walk in the rain and a colorful umbrella. All-new activities, like soccer, and big seasonal festivals and celebrations bring the spirit of each season to life. Your Sims can pucker up at the kissing booth at the spring festival, or see what Halloween surprises await in the haunted house. Dress for the weather with seasonal fashions from sun dresses to raincoats and snow gear. With new foods, décor and weather effects, your Sims can enjoy the bounty and beauty of the ever-changing seasons and play with life like never before!

Key Features
o     Delight your Sims with new activities for every season: Whether building an intimate igloo, carving a scary Jack o’ lantern, taking a plunge off the diving board, or setting off all-new fireworks, your Sim can always find new things to do throughout the year.
o     Join the fun with seasonal festivals: Sims can get in a snowball fight at the annual winter festival, get their faces painted at the summer festival, whoop it up at the spring dance, or bob for apples during the fall festival.
o     Experience the joy and challenge of changing weather: New weather effects and Sim reactions capture the power and beauty of nature! Sims can get a tan, be struck by lightning, or catch a cold!
o     Bring the outdoors inside: Your Sim can now learn the recipe for pumpkin pie or style their home with new furniture and décor. There are a host of new items to ring in each season. Get a tanning booth in time for summer, or ring in the holiday spirit with house lights and decorations.
o     Dress for the weather: Outfit your Sim in new styles for the season, including snow gear, wetsuits, raincoats and umbrellas, and new Halloween costumes!
o     Welcome mysterious visitors: New weather patterns aren’t the only things appearing in the sky! Befriend an alien visitor and use their UFO to abduct a neighbor, invade a community lot, or travel to the stars.” – The Sims 3: Seasons

My Thoughts
As a very serious Sims player, I have been waiting for a long time to be able to change the weather or seasons in the game. When I first heard that we’d have that option with this new expansion pack, I was thrilled! Thankfully, after playing it for about a month now, I can honestly say that I am continually surprised by it and still love having it be a part of my gaming experience. This is not an expansion pack that can get boring or overused because it is integrated so well within your neighborhoods. I really enjoy it, and if you are a Sims player, I think that you will too.

The weather added to the game includes: sunny, rain, lightning, hail, snow, and fog. Sims can experience many of the things that we can experience when dealing with the weather. They can get stuck in the snow, have visible mist from their mouth when it is cold, get struck by lightning, splash in puddles, and even get sunburns if out in the sun for too long. Sims can also get sick now, so be sure that they are in good health! If your Sim town is hit with an epidemic of the flu, don’t worry, they can be cured with a vaccine.

One of the additions I really like is that Sims can now swim in the oceans in the game. I always wondered why they couldn’t before, but finally they can! If you have pets though, they can’t swim out there with you. Probably for the best, you wouldn’t want them to be some tasty shark bait, would you?

I really enjoy all of the winter activities, so the snow addition is my favorite. My Sims enjoy snowboarding on the half pipes, which can also be used year round thanks to artificial snow. Sims can also build snowmen and igloos, which is really fun for Sims of all ages to do. Sims can freeze, so don’t leave them outside for too long.

There is also a new lifestate that was added in “The Sims 3: Seasons” for aliens. I love this addition, and am very glad that they added this lifestate again. I haven’t had too much time to devote to this lifestate, but I hope to get to make a whole alien colony in a neighborhood one day.

The only thing I was a little bit disappointed about was the new clothing for the Sims. Not very much was added for this expansion pack, but what was added is all quite nice for seasonal wear. I could always use more clothing in the game, so this is probably something only certain types of players would want more of.

Overall, I really enjoy this expansion pack and think that it is one that everyone who plays “The Sims 3” will enjoy. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Sims 3: Seasons, Electronic Arts, and Gamers Gate for providing me with a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it. All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.