Dead Witch Walking – Audio Book Review

Dead Witch Walking (unabridged), an audio book written by Kim Harrison and narrated by Marguerite Gavin, gives listeners a total listening time of just over thirteen and a quarter hours. The first in its series, this book sets a compelling tone for the next in one in the tale.

The audio version is a theatrically acceptable account of one witch’s escapades as a “runner” (a law enforcement officer) with Inderland security, the organization in charge of crime control in Cincinnati. Lightly comedic, yet slightly more dramatic, strong words make striking pictoral impressions, a talent the author has picked well.

Although its storyline is clearly and distinctively made up of what its author’s cleverly exacting, yet enticing, impressions of being such a witch are, it is also a grown-up and magical theatrical experience with a child-like story telling tone that might make it worth taking some of your time to listen. It warrants saying, though, that even with its theme, the nature of this effect is much more like walking through an exciting theme park than being delivered into the witches’ brew.

Rachel Morgan, an unlikely, and yet seemingly unsuccessful witch with an attitude, consorts with several supporting characters, including Ivy – a vampire, and Jenks – a pixie (an unlikely team in any event), along with other magical creatures as she makes her way through this creatively tailored tale. Rachel is bold, witty, and tough, yet not-so-fearless in her restless attempt to leave third world rule before her would-be assassins fulfill their contract in its entirety, making this audio book’s narration riveting, and even animated.

Conversational, yet clearly with under worldly propinquity, Marguerite Gavin’s exceptional narrative qualities add distinctive impressions, giving each narrated character its own unique ability to stand apart from the rest. Strong vocals are capable and advanced, adding to its artistic impressions and giving this audio book a highly entertaining, even if not yet reinventing, quality.

On the darker side, the third-worldly essence of this audio book has that somewhat unsettling otherworldly violence within its content, largely stemming from the somewhat slight, if not thorough degradation settled into its more feminine characterizations. With the subtle undercurrent of third world violence married to the audio version of the book “Dead Witch Walking”, it would not be so likely to be recommended by so many without its well thought out and theatrical antics. These are also what make the tale so enticing.

Overall, someone who appreciates the finer arts of theater, and who would also appreciate its most artistic nature, could so unwittingly enjoy this audio version of what is now also a best-selling book in print edition, that one might be sure to continue to follow its entire series. Someone other than this might not last through its first chapter.


How Massage Chairs Help While Relaxing And Reading?

Massage chairs must seem like a gift from heaven after a long day at work. It helps one relax and some time in it seems to get rid of all kinds of body issues. While you were relaxing in that chair, you must have often wondered how did it manage to do it. So let’s talk about it along with all the benefits of it: 

It helps one heal quickly

Relieving tension from the body is very important if you want to function fully on an everyday basis. But this tension should be relieved in a harmless manner so that it doesn’t accidentally add on to your pain and worries. Massage chairs are able to do just that with the different kinds of settings that it has. You can gauge your own stress and tension levels and then proceed to set the level of massage which makes you the most comfortable and relaxed. This is certainly more effective than going to a masseuse who you won’t be able to dictate to about the speed and strength to be used. 

It costs less

Buying just one massage chair will be enough to last you for years. You can use it according to your wants and then get it tuned up when needed. This will certainly cost less than going to a masseuse and that too periodically. Moreover, a massage chair will relax your whole body but a masseuse might not be able to do so. 

Doesn’t disturb

You can easily take a book and then settle down in your massage chair. The vibrations or movements of the chair aren’t so powerful that it will disturb your reading rhythm. In reality, you will be fell relaxed, be able to read a book and then probably be able to go to sleep there as well if the chair setting is on low. Using a massage chair is a really great way to unwind after a long day. 

Get ahead and foot massage

One of the best parts of all massage chairs is that you will be able to get ahead and foot massage at least. Of course, there are massage chairs that allow you to get shoulder and back massage as well but a head and foot massage are common in all. This is possible due to airbags in the massage chair which moves in several different directions so that it gives your head and feet a full massage. These airbags commonly move in the S and L track as well so that you can get a variety of head and foot massages. After all, it’s your head and feet which bears the brunt of the day’s labour mentally and physically. 

Basically, in a massage chair, you will have a remote controller with you that will allow you to get the massage intensity you want. It will also allow you to set the timer so that you get to be in the mood and intensity you want. 

The whole massage session is always a deeply comforting and pleasing experience. In this, massage chairs will satisfyingly improve your mental well-being. The massage sessions will certainly help uplift your mood, help in ensuring you have better blood circulation and help you relax as well. …

The Wildwater Walking Club: Book Review

I bought The Wildwater Walking Club at Super Wal-Mart for $2.97. Needing something new to read, I was happy to see a cheap book with a description on the back that intrigued me. It turned out to be even better than I thought.

Written by Claire Cook, it is a story of three women who form a friendship that stems from a routine morning walk. They eventually come up with a name, calling themselves The Wildwater Walking Club, being as they live on a street called Wildwater Way. The new friends hash out a plan to keep themselves motivated to walk, deciding they would add up all the mileage between the three of them after a certain amount of time and they would take a trip together as a reward. The destination would be as far as the walking mileage totaled up to. Meanwhile, it tells the story of the main character, Noreen Kelly, who takes a buy out from the shoe company she works for and is currently unemployed, living on a salary for the next eighteen months and deciding what to do with the rest of her life. By the end of the book, she comes into her own and is in the beginning stages of developing a business designing custom clotheslines.

I liked this book, and learned a lot from it. One of the characters owns a lavender farm and the book gives a whole bunch of interesting information about lavender. The main character also gets into gardening, which is a part I liked reading about. The characters also open their hearts to a former teacher that one of them corresponds with, who eventually dies of cancer. Noreen makes a clothesline for the teacher’s class room for the students to use for various things. This part is very sad when they learn of her passing, but they also find a way to celebrate her life. It is comical and sad all at the same time. When the main character’s mother comes to visit they develop a closer relationship and Noreen learns some about her mother. There is also a romantic story line as well but not like it is in those cheesy romance novels, which, sometimes I don’t like.

The Widwater Walking Club is an inspiring story in more ways than one that I would recommend to anyone who likes to read.


BOOK REVIEW: Mistwalker by Denise Lopes Heald

In an effort to breathe new life into old books, here, the first in a series, are book reviews written in the 1990’s. What would be more appropriate than a novel from Del Rey’s Discovery line.Editor’s note: This is the only book by Denise Lopes Heald. It can be found in some used books stores or online at Amazon, eBay or other online used book dealers.

“Because something new is always worth the risk.”

This is the quote from Del Rey’s Discovery line. It’s a project that boasts to help readers “experience the wonder of discovery with Del Rey’s newest authors.” A worthwhile endeavour, and one most people would expel a slight harrumph at it lofty goals. With good reason. In these days of ‘conglomeration’, and (publishing) houses being run by MBA’s, chances are rarely taken on new authors. “If its not a bankable name, it ain’t worth the ink to print” seems to be the motto decried at stockholder’s meetings. (Or the ‘new’ author is subjected to the worst possible contract, barely making them any money on their own work.) So, dear publisher, don’t mind us being slightly skeptical.

Yet Mistwalker is a refreshing change. Denise Lopes Heald has had a few SF and Fantasy stories published. Although Mistwalker is her debut novel, it is packed with incredible story potential. This book is not without its faults, but they are easily overlooked as the author spins words and crafts written pictures with the skill of a veteran. Most of the problems with the book should have been caught by an editor and the text has rough spots because of it. Mistwalker, however is still a wonderful read.

It’s the tale of an off-world political fugitive and a local working stiff. Its romance is handled with panache, Sci-Fi (element) handled with technical care, and (the) ecological suspense dealt with in an even manner. (The latter storyline – however – is tumbled out haphazardly and not expounded upon with due effort.) It’s about Meesha Raschad, a tough off-planeteer who has a reputation of surviving where most “newbies” would have died, and the local women he meets up with. Their lives intermingle in a widening path of mismanaged romances, mystery pasts and political intrigue.

Heald writes in an interesting style, mixing local and alien languages with familiar templates. She skirts the fringe of ‘cyber’-words (references that are made up to fit the story and make it sufficiently alien) and walks the fine line of nonsensical ramblings. Some sections (of the novel) infuriate with their unusual references, yet pique the interests with their mutations of the usual. As she matures, and perhaps finds a better editor, Denise Lopes Heald has the talent to see her into the next age of SF. (This latter being where all the current authors have faded into the background.)

A solid thumbs up for Mistwalker. And a hope that Del Rey‘s future discoveries will have an equal amount or more of the abilities Heald shows here.

paperback edition
Publisher: Del Rey
Date: July 1994
ISBN: 0-345-38890-9


Book Review: Brunch – the Perfect Weekend Treat by Jennifer Donovan

Brunch: The Perfect Weekend Treat, by Jennifer Donovan, is simply the best! The book breaks away from the normal menu and offers 40 creative, delicious and unique weekend selections that would make your mother proud. Donovan takes brunch to a whole new delicious and wonderful level and flawlessly proves it to be truly indulging inspiration to the weekend tradition that never goes out of style.

Brunch introduces Donavan’s “favorite meal of the week” in four scrumptious chapters that represents her love and passion for the mid-morning cuisine. My favorite chapter is “Sweet Moments,” which takes you back to the sweet moment in time during the weekend of unbridled bliss of sleeping in and indulging in nothingness. This chapter is devoted to nothing but sweets, sweets, and more sweets. The Apple Pancakes with maple syrup butter is a sweet delight that wakes up the old breakfast tradition and the Waffles with Caramelized Bananas recipe would definitely put you on the top of the list with your brunch buddies.

I especially enjoyed the Dried Cherry Cheesecake and Doughnut Muffin recipes. The Dried Cherry Cheesecake recipe combined my love for cherries and cheesecake in a breakfast cuisine. The Doughnut Muffin recipe has a fluffy, rich and sweet taste that creates a delight that you can truly enjoy. I’m truly impressed with the simplicity of the ingredients that make these recipes easy and mouth-watering, and I found that the difference is in the superfine sugar that gave the muffins a richer taste.

The “Get Cracking – The Perfect Egg” and “Toasts and Tarts” chapters provide very distinct and tasty brunch items sure to get you ohhs and ahhs. The Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and the Cheese & Herb Soufflés with Sautéed Mushroom recipes make the top of the list in these chapters. Donovan also has a simple Eggs Benedict with Quick Hollandaise Sauce recipe that make this traditional brunch dish seem less daunting.

The chapter that really makes this cookbook unique is the “Cheese and Greens” chapter. It shows off Donovan’s distinctive culinary skills by introducing the out-of-box brunch recipes that don’t fit into the normal brunch hour. But the recipes are one of the kind and I can’t wait to experience them all. My favorite recipe is the Mini Bacon & Egg Pastries with Cheddar. It was very simple to make and very tasty.

Brunch: The Perfect Weekend Treat is a perfect tribute to brunch and brings back the joy of lazy weekends.


Health Concerns for Artists

How often have you read the warning labels on your cleaning supplies? What about your art supplies? Perhaps it is because the warning list are long, complicated or difficult to understand that people ignore them. What ever the reason, health complications for artists is a serious issue that compounds over time through repeat exposure.

In a society where we now worry about ingesting contaminated food, we should apply the same caution using our work and hobby related materials.

The first year I ever experienced a sinus infection was also the first year I worked with large quantities of unmixed plaster. Coincidence? Maybe. But if you’ve ever mixed large quantities of plaster, you’re aware of how the dust lingers in the air and will coat your body mouth and nostrils if you aren’t wearing a dust mask. So in other words, the first thing to protect yourself from should be any sort of airborne particles. If you can blow it out into a tissue at the end of your work session, you should be taking precautionary measures. Be especially cautious of pigmented dust, (like from pastels) because it might also contain cancer causing heavy metals such as cadmium.

Another airborne danger is vapor inhalation. Just this morning I was thinking back to how much I loved playing with the markers and pencils at my grandparent’s house as a child and my nostalgia was triggered by the smell of a permanent marker. Again, not something you should sniff a lot of. Some vaporous products trick people into believe that they are safe because the are labeled odorless. Wrong! Usually you won’t know it is affecting you until you start to feel dizzy or light headed. To protect yourself, always read the warning label on the side of the container. Why risk killing off brain cells you might need to create your next masterpiece? And if you pooh-pooh the risk keep in mind that building up a toxic level of a material (like turpentine) might prevent you from working with it again, forcing you to change your choice of materials. I knew someone in graduate school that this happened to. Ventilate your working space well, or invest in a respirator or specialized air purifier.

Skin absorption is another danger that is not viewed very seriously. Most people by now understand the concept of nicoteen patches so apply the same concept to your paints. You should be most concerned with any pigments that contain specialized health warnings. Solvents can also be absorbed into your skin. I once received a chemical burn on my wrist years ago when I worked at a photo shop. Some chemicals splashed onto my watch band and although I washed it immediately, unbeknownst to me the chemical was still present. By the following day I had a blistered rash on my wrist, directly under the watch band. Keep your clothing clean and protect your skin with barrier cream or solvent resistant gloves. Also, just because I’ve seen it done so many times, don’t use solvent to clean your skin. For oil based stains try an oily product first to cleanse the skin, like baby or olive oil. Then wash with soap and water. Lava soap is a great hand soap for artists because of the pumice particles that help scrub away paint, but also for its economical price.

Another easily overlooked hazard is accidental ingestion. Though I have heard a horror story of some actually drinking turpentine by accident it is a small concern compared to what you might take in on your lunch or smoke break. Often people don’t think to wash their hands before eating a snack or having a cigarette. Both have the potential to transfer hazardous materials from your hands to your mouth. By being aware of these potential dangers, you help insure that you’ll be making art how you’d like, for as long as you’d like.…

Low Fat Fruit Smoothie: A Healthy Snack

There are busy days you need more than just breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the keys to healthy snacking is preparing the snack before you are too hungry to control yourself, before the craving for a sugar rush overwhelms you. It helps to have something quick and easy on hand. A fruit smoothie will give you a boost that lasts till dinner time. The merits of a fruit smoothie are simple:

1) It helps to meet your fruit and dairy intake for the day.

2) Fruit and honey have natural sugars that give you a real boost without crashing your blood sugar level later on.

3) Depending on the fruit you use, you could boost your anti-oxidants, your immune system, etc..

4) You can share it with your children and not feel guilty – no need to hide a sugary quick-fix snack.



Honey (optional)

Frozen fruit

Milk (dairy substitute) or Orange Juice (or other fruit juice)

Put two cups of frozen fruit in a blender. Add a cup of milk or orange juice and two to four tablespoons of yogurt depending on how creamy your taste runs. Blend until fairly smooth, then add the desired amount of honey. When all is mixed, pour into a glass to enjoy a simple, quick, healthy snack.

On a side note, you can buy prepared frozen fruit in your grocer’s freezer, but that can be expensive. I prefer to buy fruit in bulk when it is on sell (strawberries at $1/lb) or I go to a pick-your-own farm. Simply wash and freeze the fruit in individual sized bags or in large freezer bags; after one night’s work it’s ready to go for months to come. Also know that raspberries, blackberries and the like make the smoothie very seedy, and may require extra blending time if you choose to use such fruit.…

Brands That Offer Extended Girls’ Sizes and Small Women’s Clothes

Buying clothes for young girls who have outgrown children’s sizes can be a challenge for parents who want modest or age-appropriate clothes. Juniors’ fashions may be too risqué or have embellishments that parents of young girls may want to avoid. Fortunately, there are several brands of clothing that offer either extended girls’ sizes, extra small women’s clothes or both.

Extended Girls’ Sizes at Old Navy and Gap

Old Navy and Gap are two brands that offer both extended sizes and women’s sizes to fit young girls. Sizing is similar between these two brands, both owned by parent company Gap Inc. The international company has five distinct brands – Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta, according to the Gap Inc. website.

Old Navy clothes can be trendy, but the company also offers staples like basic jeans and shirts. Girls’ sizes at Old Navy run from size 6 to 16. Many shirt styles are available (online only) in plus sizes L, XL and XXL. These shirts fit chest measurements up to 36 inches. Some pants are available in size 8 plus to 16 plus. These fit up to a 30-inch waist.


When girls have outgrown the children’s sizes, the women’s sizes pick up where the sizes for girls left off. Women’s clothes are available in sizes 0 to 20. Women’s petites are available for young girls and women up to 5’4″. Women’s pants are available in petite, short, regular, long and tall.

Sizing for clothes at the Gap are similar but prices are slightly higher and styles tend to be timeless. Sizes for girls at the Gap are available in XS to XXL. Girls’ plus-size shirts are available in M, L, XL and XXL. These fit chest measurements up to 35 1/4 inches. Girls’ pants are sold in regular and slim sizes 4-18, with plus-size pants available in 7 plus to 18 plus. The 18 plus pants fit up to a 31 ½ inch waist.

When girls move into women’s sizes, shirts are offered in sizes 0 to 22. Women’s size pants are available from 0 to 22 and are available in petite, ankle, regular, long and tall. Some jeans are available in size 00, which has a 23-inch waist measurement.

Wide Range of Plus Size Girls Clothing

Land’s End is one company that has an extensive offering of plus-sized girls’ clothes. Not only are girls’ clothes available in size small (7-8) through XL (16), but plus sizes are available in small to extra large, sizes 7 plus to 16 plus. Pants are offered in a similar size range, with regular and slim pants in 7 to 16 and plus sizes in 7 plus to 16 plus. Size 16 plus pants fit a waist measurement of 32 inches.

When girls are outsized in the children’s size range, women’s shirts and pants are available in size 00 through 26W. Jeans are available with 30-inch through 34-inch inseams. Women’s petites are available in sizes designed to fit women 4’11” through 5’3 ½” tall. Shirts in size 00 fit a bust measurement of 31 inches.

Land’s End clothes are known for their classic look. Prices may be slightly higher than other stores, but promotional codes for free shipping are often available. Land’s End offers extensive clearance and marked down items online.

European Sizing for Girls’ and Women’s Clothes

Hanna Andersson clothes use European sizing based on the child or tween’s height in centimeters. Sizes are available from 50 cm to 160 cm. The 160 cm-size fits girls 62 to 66 inches tall and weighing 88 through 110 lbs. Women’s sizes are available in XS through XL. The XS size is similar to a size 2 or 4 and fits a 32 ½ inch bust and 25-inch waist.

Although Hanna Andersson clothes sport a hefty price tag, there are some advantages to purchasing these clothes. Hanna Andersson offers styles that are more modest and age-appropriate than other retailers. The clothes are shrink-resistant, high quality and carry a recognized brand name. All of these factors improve the chances of reselling Hanna Andersson clothes to recoup some of the cost of the items.

Boden previously offered European sizing for their women’s clothes but now offers US sizing equivalents for women’s clothes. They added US size 2 and size 18 to their offerings in the fall 2010. Size 2 fits up to a 32-inch bust and up to a 25-inch waist. Pants, skirts and dresses are available in regular and long lengths.

Boden sells children’s sizes, …

Emma Watson New Clothing Line with Alberto Ferretti Inspired by Jane Birkin

Life as Emma Watson is pretty good right now. The ‘Harry Potter’ actress has teamed up with Alberto Ferretti for an ethical clothing line which is nearing completion. The Hollywood starlet has released her third set of designs for the ethical clothing line People Tree. Reports are that Watson worked on a “green” capsule collection.

Who is Emma Watson?
The 21-year-old was born in Paris and moved back to England by the age of five. At the ripe old age of 10, Emma Watson landed the role of a lifetime as Hermione Grangerin the uber successful ‘Harry Potter’ film series. Over the next 10 years, Watson has grown up on the silver screen, continuing to play Grangerin in ‘Harry Potter’ films. Watson also manages to balance her time as a university student, studying at the prestigious Ivy-league Brown University. Watson then went on to become the face of Burberry for two campaigns and is now collaborating with People Tree for an ethical teen line.

Who is People Tree?
People Tree markets itself as ‘The Fair Trade fashion pioneer.’ They work with 50 Fair Trade groups in 15 countries in order to bring the most benefit to the greatest number of people. People Tree designers, located in the UK and Japan, enjoy using handmade fabrics to create not only beautiful, but caring garments.

Emma Watson and People Tree
“Emma had a Jane-Birkin-in-the-70s image in mind,” said The Times of India in a recent report about Watson’s collaboration with People Tree. When speaking of Emma Watson, Ferretti admits, “she is intelligent, with a strong personality, a young, modern girl of today but aware of social issues at the same time and very rigorous.”

The Emma Watson at People Tree line ranges from women’s dresses and skirts to men’s t-shirts and scarves.

The general population isn’t aware of animal cruelty and the impact the clothing business has on that industry. Clothing lines like People Tree collaborate with actresses like Emma Watson to raise awareness and c onsciousness of the growing issue.…

How to Be Fit at Fifty+

Keeping fit in your fifties and beyond, is no simple feat. As the years advance, I find my body says to me, “Just let me sag, just let me eat; it’s part of old age…” All these body arguments go against the fact that, as humans, we need to exercise and watch our food intake at whatever age, and if we don’t, we will pay for it big time in bodies that are less agile, sick and overweight. As I watched my weight creep up to a level I was not comfortable with, I rebelled against my complacent body and thought, “This is it. I’m getting back to the weight I used to be, pre-body-metabolism-slowdown, and I’m going to get in shape.” Even though it was only 10 pounds, I knew it was going to be a colossal struggle. I joined an online weight monitoring organization, and kept track of everything that went into my mouth, because at this age, just exercising is not enough to lose weight, although it is vital.

So, I stepped up my exercise program to include at least 3 times a week at the gym, two 40-minute walks a day, and, in the summer, biking when I wasn’t walking. At the gym I usually do 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer or cross trainer with ramp, or hour-long classes related to firming up various parts of the body, using light weights and bands. I also used the weight machines to firm up arms, abs, hips, and legs. I was amazed that when I teamed this up with cutting the calories and large portions, the weight began to drop off, and my body became more efficient at keeping it off, even though it still complained about sore and tired muscles!

In our 21st Century world there are just too many opportunities to eat high-calorie food and to sit and use technology, whether it be texting and surfing on your phone, watching movies and TV, sitting too long at outdoor patios and drinking and eating too much, or just sitting in your car on your way to work. Sitting is very hard on the human body; it was made to move and be active. Our ancestors spent little time sitting- there was too much to be done, just to survive. One of my most active pastimes is gardening, and I do it for exercise, but also to enjoy my own organic fruits and vegetables in the summer, and flowers from spring to fall, not to mention the connection it gives me to the earth and to all the creatures that inhabit it. There is no better exercise than emptying a compost bin and planting and weeding a garden. Sore muscles, yes, but good for the body!

In all, there are many ways to keep fit that don’t cost a lot. Yes, the gym does cost, but it is minimal in relation to the benefit. Compare it to the cost of buying pop or junk food. Every day I try to think of how I can get exercise in the simplest ways, “Can I ride my bike to the store for milk? Can I walk to the library? Why not?” I will also save on gas, which has become a more and more expensive part of life. I’ll show those oil companies I can get along without them, at least some of the time, and become even more fit.…