Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Speed Limits - Book Review

image credit: Yale Books
Speed Limits by Mark C. Taylor investigates the world's obsession with making things go faster and how we're not always saving time by speeding things up. It examines the many technological innovations - telegraph, electricity, internet - that have seemingly given us a better quality of life and made it easier to produce and communicate while also causing a deterioration in quality of life and hindering personal interaction and communication.

There was a time when workers requested eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation time, and eight hours of rest. but today's work week is no longer divided up like that due to our ability to be constantly connected, constantly available, and constantly getting things done. Leisure time is not valued as much in today's society.

I enjoyed reading about how the Protestant reformation and the invention of the printing press began to transform society, but there is also a lot of talk about business and economics that kind of went over my head. This is not exactly a leisurely read, but more of a thesis and something that could be used as assigned reading in a college class perhaps. So just keep that in mind if you're considering picking up this book.

Speed Limits is published by Yale University Press and will be on store shelves on October 28, 2014. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Move On - Book Review

It's okay to not be okay.

That's probably something you never thought you'd read or hear from a Christian author, especially with the Christian church trend of smiling and nodding without actually admitting to any problems in your life. Because what good Christian has problems, right?

All of them. And that's what Vicki Courtney's new book Move On addresses. This book talks about being honest with ourselves over past or current messes, forgiving ourselves just as God forgives us, not trying to hold ourselves to some standard of perfection, and just turning to God and allowing His grace and mercy to help us move forward in our lives.

At the end of each chapter, you'll find discussion questions that you can either journal about on your own for further reflection or discuss as part of a small group or Bible study. Because a big part of this book is about being honest with ourselves and bringing honesty into the church and supporting our fellow Christians through their messes, I think this book would definitely be best when read with a church group.

The truth is that life is messy, and even the apostles struggled. But when things get hard or when we feel ashamed because of things we've done wrong, instead of hiding, running, or ignoring, we should face our messes and let God help us deal so that we can move on and experience our lives the way God intends.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - October 20

Last week I had some really great meals out, including delicious fish tacos, but now I'm back to having homecooked meals. Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: spaghetti and turkey meatballs

Monday: chicken caesar salad

Tuesday: grilled swordfish, rice, and green beans almondine

Wednesday: grilled cheese and soup

Thursday: hot dogs and fries

Friday: eggs and waffles

Saturday: on our own

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dancing on the Head of a Pen - Book Review

"You do not have to write a book today. There is not enough time to write a book today. You do have to go to work today." - Eric Maisel

This quote is included in Robert Benson's new book Dancing on the Head of a Pen. I thought it was a great reminder for me and other writers, especially with National Novel Writing Month in just a few weeks. In fact, this whole book is filled with writerly advice and would make a perfect companion to have on-hand during those trying November weeks when 50,000 words seems like a longshot.

In this small book, Benson offers tips on how to find your story, your audience, and your pace, and how to always keep writing. These tips are what work for him, and they are not one size fits all. (Although, I, too, prefer to write everything out by hand and then type it up when I'm ready to edit.) But this book will get you thinking about what works for you and what doesn't and how you can silence your inner critic and just keep writing.

You don't have to be a writer, though, to appreciate this book. It's for painters, musicians, and anyone drawn to a life of artistic expression. If that's you and you find yourself stuck in your creative projects or don't know where to start, check out this book.

Dancing on the Head of a Pen is published by Waterbrook Press. I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TBT - Hudson Valley Pumpkin Blaze

You might remember last year when I posted about our trip to The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze in New York's Hudson Valley.



Well, we went again this year, and it was just as amazing! Seriously, if you've never been to this, you have to go! Tickets sell out fast, and some nights are already sold out. But if you can wait until November, there might be a few nights still available.



Here are just a few scenes from this year's Blaze, which is actually it's 10th anniversary, hence the pumpkin birthday cake below:








Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Madness of July - Book Review

image credit
The Madness of July by James Naughtie is a spy thriller that takes place in the late 1970s, involves A LOT of characters, and spans the locations of Washington, D.C., London, and Scotland. I thought it sounded very interesting, but I was actually disappointed in this book.

First off, there are just WAY too many characters. You know it's going to be hard to keep track of everybody when the author includes a character list at the beginning of the book. I had to refer back to this list numerous times while reading the book.

Second, I know that this is a book about spies (and former spies), but everything was just a little too coded for me. I needed to know more information while reading so that I could at least follow along with what the heck was going on. For much of the book all I knew was that someone had died and it had to do with a mysterious British government person, someone or something named Bendo, and Berlin. Seriously, these characters would only say the word "Berlin" and then I was just supposed to go along with it without having any idea what was happening in Berlin. I didn't find out the significance of Berlin until the end of the book!

Third, unlike most spy novels, there was pretty much no action in this book. And this is categorized as a spy THRILLER, but there was nothing thrilling about it! Nobody was running around and getting shot at or fighting or driving fast cars. It seemed like a lot of dialogue, one guy traveling to Scotland to hang out with his two brothers, and a few secret meetings between a couple guys. And then BAM! Mystery solved. The end.

I guess I just wanted a little less talking, especially if it wasn't going to help me understand the plot anyway, and a little more action.

The Madness of July is published by The Overlook Press and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish

Is Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish really a miracle?


I've never had a gel manicure from a salon, but I've heard about them. Your manicure lasts two weeks, but the LED light that cures the polish can cause cancer or something, and removing the polish is crazy. Even the promise of a long-lasting manicure cannot sell me on salon gel manicures.

But then I read something in a magazine about a new gel polish that doesn't require an LED light but still offers long-lasting, chip-free color. The product is Sally Hansen Miracle Gel.

They sell it at my local salon, and I had some salon reward points to redeem, so I decided to use them on the Miracle Gel. You buy the colored polish and a special top coat. (About $9.99 each.) And that's all you need.

So, did I get 14 days of chip-free polish? Not exactly.

right hand - not even one week and my thumb,
middle finger, and ring finger all have chippage
After not even a full 48 hours, I had a chip on my right-hand ring finger. And by the end of the week, the tips of the nails on my right hand (my dominant hand) were starting to wear away. My left hand (my non-dominant hand) still looked pretty good.

left hand - not even one week but
still looking pretty good
After one week, I did need to remove the polish and start over. The polish was very easy to remove with regular nail polish.

I didn't get the results the product claims, but I did think the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish worked better than regular polish. I usually have to do multiple touch-ups on both hands throughout the week with regular nail polish, and sometimes it doesn't even last a day without chipping. So, the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is definitely worth the investment, especially if you a) don't want a gel manicure at a salon and b) work with your hands all day but still need your hands to look nice on camera or mean people on YouTube will make comments.

I didn't receive any product for free in exchange for posting a review. I purchased the product at my local salon because I wanted to try it, and then I thought it would be nice to share my experience with you here, especially for those of you who are also curious about this product.