Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Cutting Cords


Review By: Dawne Prochilo
Title: "Cutting Cords"
Author: Jo Ramsey
Publisher: Jupiter Storm
Recommended? Yes

Review: Shanna's home life just went form bad to worse. Her father left and her mother is oblivious. Luckily she has Jonah around to soothe the rough spots in life and with her parents' separation. 
As if life couldn't get any worse, a fellow classmate Tammy, someone Shanna rarely talks to or hands out with, is seeking her help with a problem. Someone is trying to control Tammy and Shanna feels obligated to help her new friend. With the assistance of Jonah and Shanna's guide, she tries to keep Tammy safe. 

This YA novel is a very good read and I would recommend it to anyone. Ramsey's writing style is tremendous in this novel. The way she builds the characters in this young adult book is spectacular. While I'm not one for paranormal (vampires, werewolves, etc.), I was drawn into this book. Definitely a page turner and well written story line.
Ramsey's books are available on amazon



Friday, April 29, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: GAMESTORMING


Title: GAMESTORMING—A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers 
                                  
Author: Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo

Publisher: O’Reilly

COVER PHOTO
Recommended? Yes.

Review: Games? Work? These two concepts rarely go together. 
The challenges of the workplace are many but, in their new book, Gamestorming, authors Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo have compiled a winning selection of strategies for meeting participants to inspire and stimulate thinking and problem solving in all directions.

To be frank, when I saw that Amelia Bedelia and the Brothers Grimm were mentioned in the Forward and Preface, I knew that something was up, something fun, that is. 

Thinking back on a couple of decades of meetings, I cannot recall many gatherings that I would describe as “fun” let alone “productive”.

After reading Gamestorming, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve that time spent in meetings, conferences, problem-solving sessions.

The strength of this book lies in its detail. Authors do not assume familiarity with the central “game” concept, itself, with 5 stages of a game “business” world. The authors invite game players to imagine, create, open, explore, and close that world. Gray begins with an explanation of game and how game strategy operates; then he provides the fundamentals with “10 Essentials of Gamestorming”.

Illustrated in simple outline sketches by Dave Gray and Sunni Brown, the text reads like an actual playbook, supporting the book’s sub-title: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.

With an extensive Table of Contents, one can find games for various purposes: Opening, Exploring, Closing. 

It is a fundamental collection for those who want to have options in their approach to meetings for varied purposes. The best part of it all is that it promotes creativity in looking at issues, problem solving. Whether using a Fishbowl strategy, a Graphic Jam, Challenge Cards, or a Pain-Gain Map, players will be able to check the game guidelines: Object of Play, Number of Players, How to Play, Strategy.
For a quick intro to this game approach, check out Graphic Gameplan strategy online at the Gamestorming website.

The world has changed rapidly in the last decade or two.
Gamestorming, with its interactive nature and visual processing, is the meeting playbook for now! 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Food Product Review: GoGo Squeez


Reviewed by Alyssa Ast

Product: GoGo Squeez Applesauce
Details:
  • 5 yummy flavors
  • No mess
  • 100% fruit
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Gluten and dairy free
  • No added sugar
  • Kosher certified
Price: around $2.30 for a pack of 4
Recommended? Yes
Review:

We were doing our weekly grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago when we saw a small display case of GoGo Squeez Applesauce. The fact they put applesauce into a small, squeezable package was very intriguing and we just had to give it a try. Originally, we thought it would be one of those things you try once and then throw the rest out, but it turns out GoGo Squeez Applesauce is perfect for desperate situations.

I threw the applesauce in the diaper bag and there it sat for a couple of weeks until we were in the store a few days ago and my 11 month old started screaming like someone was killing him. Nothing would please him until I remembered the applesauce. He loved it and it was so handy to use as we were walking through the store. Plus, there really was no mess at all. It worked so well we had to go buy more. It's a good thing we did too because a couple of days later another child of mine fell off the swing and landed on his mouth. Of course, eating anything was pure misery for him but not the GoGo Squeez Applesauce. The nozzle on the package was perfect for getting past the split lip and sore tooth.

After these two events, I am completely sold on the GoGo Squeez Applesauce. It may be a little pricey, but it's definitely worth it if you have small kids or are even looking for a handy snack to throw in your purse.
Monday, April 25, 2011

Spoling Changing Table


By Anjanette Belloni

Product Name: Spoling Changing Table

Manufacturer Name: IKEA

Retail Price: $79.99

Where to Get It: At your local IKEA store

Sizes/Specifications: Colors: black/white or beige/white

Width: 23 5/8 "
Depth: 31 1/2 "
Height: 37 "

Product Description: 100 % polyester

- Foldable; easy to store when not in use.

- The cover and the storage pockets are washable and easy to put on and take off.

- Easily accessible and practical storage for diapers, bottles, toys, changing table accessories, etc.

- The storage net underneath can also be used as a laundry bag; just remove and zip up.

Recommended? YES!

This changing table is amazing! I only wish I had one with my first two children. A year and a half ago I stayed home to be with my children and babysit my friends little tikes. It had been years since I had a changing table in the house and we needed to get one, we just happened to be limited on space and money. I had seen the Spoling Changing Table in IKEA before and never gave it much thought. After shopping around and being very disappointed in prices and the bulkiness of tables out there, I headed back to IKEA.

I couldn’t be happier! This table was very simple to put together and required no help from my husband. My favorite feature of this changing table is the fact I can fold it up and tuck it away when I am not using it. There are several pockets conveniently located for diapers, wipes and much more baby paraphernalia all within a hands reach. I wouldn’t stock pile bags and bags of diapers in the bottom storage area, it is just better suited for light weight odds and ends. We’re still very limited on space and with the light weight design of the Spoling, moving it around is effortless. Cleaning the changing surface is a breeze as well! You just unzip the changing surface and toss it in the wash. The Spoling is not your traditional changing table and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: When A Mullo Loves A Woman

Review By: Dawne Prochilo
Title: When A Mullo Loves A Woman”
Author: JoAnne Kenrick
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Recommended? Yes

Review: Pearl Kizzy and Adam Flint have a dilemma. Love, devotion and the undead. It's the latter that delivers the harshest problem.  After a quandary, Adam feels he lost Pearl and she is heartbroke. Her second mistake is falling for the suave Adam (AKA a vampire).  Now Adam has claimed Pearl's heart and it's up to Evan to fight for the woman he loves, no matter what. The scenes Kenrick describes impacted the story to a hilt. 

Kenrick had me from the moment I opened this book. The desire between the duo is exceptional and very believable. Kenrick has made the ultimate love story filled with suspense and drama. 

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of romance and true love. The connection between the two characters is phenomenal. While I'm ready for an excellent love story, I was quite surprised with this supernatural/paranormal romance. It definitely changed my views from the norm.


"When A Mullo Loves A Woman" is available on Amazon in print and for the Kindle.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights

Review By: Dawne Prochilo

Title: Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights
Author: Jean Joachim
PublisherAstraea Press
Recommend? Yes



Review: Artist Carolina Davis White is stuck in a loveless marriage. After years of feeling trapped and stuck, she runs away from her cheating husband and his money, which he uses to benefit himself. She finds herself at the family cabin in the solitude of the Catskills and reconnects with old friends including Mike Foster. Finding peace, obtaining her divorce and falling for Mike are in Carolina's future. But alas, watch out for that selfish husband, Brad. If ever a man needed to be knocked down a notch, he is a prime suspect.

Mike is dealing with his own loss, his son years ago and all the money he's made over the years mean nothing to him without true love. Add in that he's wary of all women, who may be after his money.

If you're looking for a sweet, sensual side to romance, this is the book for you. Take the beautiful and charming Catskills, add in love, friendship and romance and this book will grab you in. I was drawn into the storyline immediately and Joachim's dynamic writing style, dialogue between Carolina and Mike is so remarkable. The love grows with each scene creating the love all women cherish and desire in life.

This is one of those “What-if” novels that many women will relate to. I highly recommend this novel and challenge anyone who reads not to find a little of his or herself in the characters experiencing love lost returning from the past.
Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Poetry Speaks Expanded





Author: Poetry collection edited by Elise Paschen, Rebekah Presson Mosby; Advisory editors, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove, Dana Gioia
Poetry Gem!
                                                                                       
Publisher: Sourcebooks Media Fusion

Recommended? Yes.

Review:

Poetry is the order of the day for April.

Poetry Speaks Expanded is a hard-cover, CD-included, poetry collection that makes an ideal choice for building a poetry library.

Poets of the near and more distant past are represented with bio information, present-day poet commentary essay along with some photos of manuscripts and life events for each poet. These range from a Life magazine cover photo of Robert Frost from March 30 1962 to handwritten, typed, and scrawled poetry drafts of May Swenson, W. H. Auden and E. E. Cummings.

With narrated sections by Charles Osgood, the CD renditions of poems are a gem for poetry fans.
Essays by Robert Bly, Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, Elizabeth Alexander and many other poets provide context to these poems.

This collection provides an opportunity to share the words and lines with others, to listen and enjoy on your own. 

Priceless!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Butterfly Mosque: Book Review

Title: The Butterfly Mosque
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Publisher: Grove Press Price: $10.06+ upcoming paperback edition, Amazon
Recommended by BeyondBeautifulBabe: Yes!

G. Willow Wilson @ ComicopiaImage by bradsearles via FlickrRaised an atheist American, G. Willow Wilson’s Muslim conversion as a twenty-year old crossing into Egypt is a mix between her inevitable fate and her desire for a philosophy of feeling. In her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, her new faith is an affirmation of personal experience, not a leap.

She conveys her new religion and home as the best of the human heart. With her hypnotic writing style, she explains Egypt: “This was the secret of life in the gullet of the Nile. Kun; ‘Be.’ Good and evil, chaos and order, joy and tragedy — they were all brought into being with the same single word. Kun, fa yakun; ‘Be, so it is.’ ”

But her let-it-be soul is just a butterfly in a world of rules. It is naïve to believe that live-and-let-live has a chance in a world that would crush a butterfly upon a wheel, where great effort forces others into servitude, wars and ways of thinking. Obedience is prized in religion, politics and bureaucracy, and free will is dashed unless defended at every turn.

But Willow wants the magical feeling of truth without opposite, and her ectstatic feelings of faith are the same as any novice to any religion. It is a gift, and it is unclear whether her idealism will grow from a caricature into something of lasting value.

In Egypt, Willow quickly falls for and engages Omar, a Muslim raised by a remarkable, centrist single mother, Sohair. She is the most intriguing character in the book, raising two boys who seem to respect women while remaining chivalrous. While engaged, Willow’s life in Egypt is a continuation of her pluck and ambition, as she writes for a Cairo publication and learns fatwas are not to be feared.

Fatwas are intended to make life easier, with rules against terrorism and for the mundane, such as a disbursement of inheritance. The more she learns of her new religion, the more she surrenders into her better self. “I realized that despite the bewildering number of behaviors I had had to alter to survive in the public sphere in Egypt, I was not less myself – in fact, I was becoming a better self. I didn’t know I was capable of growing into the sort of person who stands up and walks toward a fight.”

As she walks toward a personal fight with her atheist past, she takes on the scarf, and comes to the realization that each side fears the other for its own reason: “We are cruelest to those who remind us of our capacity for cruelness….This is the heart of the clash of civilizations: not the hatred of the Other, but the self-hatred produced by the Other.”

She says Muslims are The Surrendered, which means free will is second to God. But her life outside her memoir raises even more contradictions. She wants to be a woman who is hidden and therefore appreciated, and she embraces a religion that despises graven images – but she writes graphic novels, such as Air Volume 4: A History of the Future.

Her contradictions and fearlessness may bring her trouble in a culture that prizes obedience. As Sana’I, a 12th Century poet quoted in Willow’s book, said, “One good woman is worth a thousand men.” I would add that one good book is worth a thousand lesser. Wilson’s The Butterfly Mosque is more than a good book. Also reviewed at www.beyondbeautifulbabe.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Product Review: HTC Evo Shift

By Christina Newman

Product Name: HTC Evo Shift
Retail Price: $399.99
Where to Get It: Sprint
Sizes/Specifications:
  • Access to 4G speeds that are up to 10x faster than 3G
  • Dual-mode 3G/4G device, access to dependable 3G speeds and accelerated 4G speeds where available
  • Mobile Hotspot capable
  • 3G speeds where available
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • Android™ 2.2
  • Chat-style messaging
  • Touchscreen
  • Web browsing with Flash
  • Music capable
  • Sprint TV and Movies®
  • GPS Navigation enabled
  • Web browsing capable
  • Email capable
  • Camera
  • Bluetooth® Wireless
  • Memory card slot
  • Voice activated dialing
  • Supports multiple simultaneous users

Product Description:
The awesomeness you'd expect from the HTC EVO™ 4G name in a new, streamlined design with slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The HTC EVO Shift 4G rocks a brilliant 3.6-inch touchscreen display, MP3 player, preloaded Kindle® reader, and Sprint TV® access to keep you entertained on the fly. Surf the Web at 3G/4G speeds and fire up the optional Mobile Hotspot capability to share a connection with up to 8 Wi-Fi devices. Snap pics and clips with the 5.0MP camera/camcorder to share with your social network in an instant, or message like a maniac. Hungry for more? Hit up the Android Market™ and indulge in apps galore. Description from Sprint
 
Recommended? Yes

Review:

My experience with the HTC Evo Shift has been very pleasant. Though I wasn't sure if it was the phone for me after having it a while I can't imagine going back to my old ways. The touch screen adds an element of fun to using a phone that I didn't know was possible. For someone who uses their phone to keep up with a constant influx of emails, text messages and streaming information this phone is a dream. Giving me the ability to leave my office without falling behind on work is like a dream come true; making it easier to attend events or a lunch out with friends.

There are a few things about the phone that I don't love. Such things include the resistance to open the keyboard, it can be a bit tough. Constantly making efforts to keep the screen clean as well as accidentally hanging up on my call because I bumped the phone with my face. Out of everything the largest con to this phone is battery life. I find myself plugging in my phone by lunch to ensure that my battery will last me until it's lights out.

My bottom line - This phone is awesome for those who need to stay connected to the office but don't want to be confined to it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

IKEA SKRAPA Rubber Spatula


By Anjanette Belloni

Product Name: IKEA SKRAPA Rubber Spatula

Manufacturer Name: IKEA

Retail Price: $0.59

Where to Get It: IKEA, only available for in store purchase

Sizes/Specifications: 10 " in length

Available in red, black and white

Unit # 601.671.34

Product Description: Reinforced polypropylene, Polyolefin plastic

Dishwasher-safe

Withstands temperatures up to 122°F

Recommended? No, especially if you plan to use it around heat.

The kitchen is the focal point of my house. Whether I am baking or cooking, something is always going on in the kitchen. I rely heavily on my spatulas and there is an abundance of them in the utility drawer. While strolling through the elaborate universe that is IKEA, I found a bin of spatulas. I can always use more and at $0.59 each who can pass it up. What I should have done was kept walking.

Within the first 24 hours of owning my new spatula it found its way to the garbage. I had cooked up a pan of scrambled eggs. While the spatula worked great at scraping the bowl I mixed the eggs in, it failed at scraping the edges of the pan. The spatula melted instantly while I was trying to scrape the egg from the inside of the pan. This was not just a singled out occurrence with one spatula, but all of the spatulas I purchased.

The product information I posted does have heat limitations, which I found on the website. I am not quite sure if that was posted on the bin label in the store. The large bold purchase price was all that caught my attention. I have now learned that NOT all spatulas are created equal. When things are rocking and rolling in my kitchen, I just don’t have the time to remember which spatula I can and cannot use to cook with.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Manufacturer: Corioliss

Product Details: Hair straightening iron with 1" ceramic plates

Price: From $39.95 (MFSRP $109.95)

Where to Buy: Amazon

Reviewed By: BeyondBeautifulBabe


Until iPhone creates an app for straight hair, the Corioliss Flat Iron will have to do. Its ceramic plates heat up in about a minute, and you just slide the iron along your sectioned hair.


The result is smooth, straight locks, although there is no escaping that you will damage your hair a bit each time, so use a weekly hair oil, like Moroccanoil to restore balance.


Recommended? Yes. Of all the hair-straighteners I have tried, from drugstore bargains to the infomercial InStyler with its rolling barrel, the Corioliss is tops.









Saturday, April 2, 2011

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

By Christina Newman

Title: Red Riding Hood
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Run Time: 100 min
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: David Johnson
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman and Billy Burke
Recommended? Yes for the 13-17 crowd














Synopsis:

Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon... Written by Warner Bros. Pictures



Seyfried captured my interest with her roll in the television show Veronica Mars in 2004, quickly won her way into my heart with her performance in the musical Mamma Mia back in 2008 and again with Letters to Juliet just last year. So it stands to reason that there are three things that I love about this film; Seyfried, Burke and Hardwicke.

This film has a great visual feel. It brings you so close to their environment that you can almost feel the cold on your cheek, it is truly a visual masterpiece and we all have Catherine Hardwicke to thank for that. Her ability to create breathtakingly beautiful movie will never get old. Along with the visual the movie has musical scores that compliment the eeriness very well.

Seyfried and Burke are great together. If the entire movie had been based a bit more around these two and their relationship it may have actually proven to be a better movie. As it is the movie is okay. I can see it as something the teen crowd will like because of the movies main concept, forbidden love.

For me the movie falls just flat of what it could have been. It just goes to show that beauty, talent and a big budget does not mean a darn thing if the script is not well thought out.

My bottom line - It's pretty, talented and trips a lot.

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