Sunday, April 08, 2007

We've Moved!!

It's official...
For Immediate Release Reviews has moved!
Click HERE to visit our new home.
We'll be adding a lot of new reviews in April!

Thanks for visiting!

Shaley Melchior, Editor
For Immediate Release Reviews

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Avayon MP-85 MP4 Player







MP-85 MP4 Player
Avayon
$129.99
Click Here to Order!




I recently had the opportunity to try this brand new MP4 player from Avayon. I was impressed from the very moment I opened the package. The MP-85 comes in a sleek black case, lined with black velvet-type material. The player has the following specifications:

Features and Functions:

  • 2.0 inch 260K color super clear TFT LCD
  • 2GB Internal Memory
  • USB 2.0 full speed, connect by USB extension cable
  • Built in SD Mini card slot
  • Stainless metal case, super slim appearance
  • Plug and play
  • Supports MP1, MP2, MP3, MPEG4, WMA, AVI, JPEG, and more
  • JPEG compatible
  • Upgradeable firmware
  • Multi-language support
  • Song title and lyric are simultaneously displayed
  • FM Radio
  • High Quality Voice/FM record
  • 20 pre-set channels
  • A-B Repeat, repeat one, repeat all
  • Audio 7 EQ Modes: Normal , Jazz, Classic, Pop, Rock, Soft , DBB
  • Time shutdown function
  • E-book (Text Viewer function)
  • Digital album
  • Built-in high quality MIC
  • Built-in stereo speaker
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Game (Tetris)
  • No need of driver installation for Windows 98 or above

Connections:

  • Earphone Output
  • USB Port
  • Memory Card Slot

Accessories included:

  • Earphones
  • Wall charger and USB cable
  • AVI Converter CD
  • Manual

General:

  • Power supply: Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Unit Dimensions: W 75mm x H 47mm x D 12mm (W 2.9 in x H 1.8 in x D 0.5 in)
  • Unit Weight: 56 g (2.0 oz)
The player has a great feel to it. The front is a glossy black plastic, with silver buttons. The reverse is a brushed stainless steel type. There's a pin-hole sized mic on the top, as well as a on-off switch. There's a small speaker on the reverse, and the bottom has a slot for an optional mini SD card, a headphone jack, and a USB connection.

I put my player through some rigorous testing. For about three weeks, I carried my player with me basically everywhere. I went on some cleaning jobs, one of which is in an extremely noisy environment. I took it on long drives, I used it while walking, and running, and I basically gave the player a good workout. Here's what I found:
1. Sound quality is great.
The included earbuds fit pretty well, for one-size-fits-all earbuds. They are a little smaller than most earbuds, so they fit in most anyone's ears, even small children. One note, though- the earbuds seem to be incompatible with most other devices. I tried them with my RCA MP3 player, as well as my Acer Aspire laptop, and the earbuds actually made the music sound like it had been sped up, except for the deep bass notes. Honestly, though, most people won't find it necessary to use these earbuds on other devices, so I don't anticipate that being an issue for most people. There's a really nice variety of equalizers, so you can change the sound of your music as you wish. There's 7 different presets, and also, happily, an option for user presets. I choose this option, because I like to turn the bass all the way up, and I can set each setting to my preferences. One of the most surprising features to me was the small speaker on the reverse of the player. Disconnect the earbuds, flip over the player, and you have a remarkably loud mini stereo.

2. The player is extremely sturdy.
I'll admit it, I dropped my player a few times. Not on purpose, of course, but by accident. Once, it fell from a height of 4 feet onto a solid concrete floor. I was a little nervous about how the player would hold up, but there's was NO visible signs of damage, and when turned on, the device still worked perfectly! The only sign of use to the exterior, after using the device for several weeks, is a small scratch on the reverse side.

3. Operation is simple.
The player comes with a USB cable and a small CD-ROM. The CD-ROM contains a software program to convert many different video files to .avi files. While this player has no problem playing .mp4 files, converting them to .avi files can significantly reduce file size, hence you'll have a good deal more room on the device. Simply connect the USB cable to your PC, then to the player. In most cases, the device will automatically be recognized and installed. You can then open up the files in Windows Explorer, and drag 'n drop your MP3 or WMA music files, MP4 or AVI video files, TXT or DOC text files, or JPEG pictures files onto the player. A 1GB file took about 20 minutes to transfer, while a 1 song MP3 file took about 10 seconds.

4. Charging is quick and easy.

Charging is also simple and quick. The USB cable is used as the power cord, and charges the play when plugged into a PC. There's also an included wall plug, and the USB cord is connected to the player and the wall plug, then the player can be charged by a power outlet. My player takes about an hour to go from fully drained battery, to fully charged battery. There's a handy color indicator right on the screen. It's green when the battery is well charged, then as the battery discharges, it turns yellow, orange, then red. My player actually charges faster when plugged into the PC, 1 hour, than when plugged into the wall outlet, about 1 1/2 hours.

My final opinion on the MP-85 player? In all honesty, the only thing it needs is a camera to be the perfect personal entertainment system! The video quality is extremely good. The screen is small enough that you can choose a high compression rate without loss of quality, yet is large enough that there won't be any difficulty seeing any of the action on the screen. I am extremely happy that there is a hard protective cover over the screen. There's no risk of hitting or touching the screen too hard and causing damage. The music quality is really, really good. Even MP3 files sound as good, if not better, than a CD played on a 2.1 stereo system. For a small device, the quality is impressive- I usually don't expect much from a portable MP3 player, but this one sounds great! JPEG pictures look great, and the fact that I can take the e-books I download from Project Gutenberg on the player to read anywhere is a huge plus in my eyes. This player is great with small kids, too. Just load an episode of SpongeBob or Dora, and they'll be set for hours! There's numerous freeware programs available online, such as DVD Decrypter, to place DVD files on the player. Just remember... use this responsibly! I'm not liable for any illegal usage of any programs you use or download from the Internet, as well as any trouble you get into! But it's very cool to take home videos with you, as well as YouTube content. I highly recommend the Avayon MP-85 player. The price ($129.99) is very,very reasonable for a 2 GB player, especially one capable of so much. This player will easily outshine any iPod, any day!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You Stink Soap





You Stink
Handcrafted Soaps and More
Click Here to Browse and Order!



I've found a great source for handcrafted soap. You Stink soap not only smells great, but the varied colors and patterns make the soap as beautiful as it is useful. The lather is quite impressive for handmade soap. It's sort of a light, fluffy, airy lather. When I first received my sample soaps from You Stink, the soap was still a little soft. The scent was pretty powerful, which made it awesome for a bubble bath. Just hold it under running water for a great rich bubble bath. Now that I've had my samples for a few weeks, the soap has really hardened up, and now it makes an excellent hand and body soap. The scent is lighter, but still really yummy. My favorite soap from You Stink is the Garden Mint.

You Stink sells sample sizes for testing, 5 one ounce bars for $5. If you discover what scent(s) you like the best, you can stock up with 6 extra-large bars for $25. These bars are great for scenting your linens gently. Once the bars are fully hardened (pushing on them leaves no mark), they don't seem to leak color on anything they are set on. Try You Stink out... you won't "stink" anymore!

Diner Dash 2 - Restaurant Rescue





Diner Dash 2 - Restaurant Rescue
Brighter Minds Media
Rated "E" for Everyone
Click Here to Order!
$19.95


Diner Dash 2 must be one of the best "time wasting" games around. While that may not sound like a compliment, it really is. After a while, I get tired of games that have a reason and purpose. Don't get me wrong, this game does have a storyline, but the fun isn't really so much in the storyline, as in the game play itself. The story centers on Flo, a waitress that is trying to help save the restaurants belonging to friends from the evil Mr. Big. Mr. Big wants to convert all the small, family owned diners into a huge, unfeeling chain. Flo is determined to save her friends restaurants from an untimely demise.

When playing Diner Dash 2, you first complete an excellent tutorial on how to serve your customers. You start with just a couple of tables, but by the time you make it to the higher levels, you have quite a few tables to serve and keep happy. There's many power ups, perhaps not fitting the typical meaning of the word. There's several different types of customers, and they each have different traits, likes, and dislikes. Families must have high chairs delivered to them, or the babies scream and disturb everyone. Cell phone talkers jabber, jabber, jabber all the time while they eat, and distract everyone except families and joggers. Joggers wear headphones, so loud noises don't bother them. Bookworms get annoyed with noise very easily, but are pretty patient while waiting for seating and food. Seniors are very slow eaters, and are also very patient. Teenage girls are pretty easy-going, and eat fast. Businesswomen eat extremely fast, and don't tolerate slowness or distractions very well. You can feed your customers snacks, beverages, and desserts to keep them happy. You can also hire singers, busboys, and hostesses to satisfy guests.

This game will keep players of all ages happy for quite a while. I'm stuck at level 40 right now, out of 50 levels. I had a 10 year old and a 7 year old play this game, and they've mastered it pretty quickly, and really enjoy it. I appreciate that, after installing the game, you no longer need to insert the CD-ROM to play the game. Very handy! I highly recommend this game.

PurrFect Opener and DogGone Opener



PurrFect Opener and DogGone Opener
$9.95 each
Click Here to Order!


I recently ran across these really cool multitaskers. They do sooo much... just take a look at this chart:

Pretty cool, huh? I actually use this gadget quite a bit. It has a magnet on the reverse, so it hangs easily on the fridge or stove, microwave, dishwasher, etc. I think this is primarily marketed to seniors, but it's really useful to people of all ages. My brother has been on antibiotics for several weeks now, due to some tooth problems, and he was given what we call horse pills. Huge, huge pills, much too big for a 10 year old to swallow easily. The pill splitter on openers splits pills perfectly. No crumbly pills or uneven splits. The gripping surface makes opening child-safe (really adult safe!) lids super simple. I always have short fingernails, so using the soda can holder is great for me. I highly recommend this nifty invention!

Handcrafted Handbags



"Villette" Bag
$18
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Bronte" Bag
$18-$21
~~~~~~~~~~~

BeckyKay Designs
Handcrafted Bags
Click Here to Browse and Order!


I have a new philosophy for my life. A woman can never have too many handbags. Am I right, or am I right? These gorgeous bags from BeckyKay Designs are perfect for any woman's collection. They come in many shades and designs of fabric, perfect for any outfit. The designs have whimsical names, such as "Bronte", "Villette", "Adele", "Jane", and "Thornfield". Every bag is very, very well crafted. The bags have interior and exterior pockets, roomy enough for all your important supplies. My personal favorite has to be the "Villette" bag. I love the simple, classy design. The "Bronte" bag has a really pretty handle tied in a bow, and with 2 interior and 2 exterior pockets, has plenty of room for books, crafts, and more. The bag prices are very reasonable, for such high quality purses, and shipping is great and fast. PayPal and money orders are accepted. For those unfamiliar with PayPal, you can use any major credit card or debit card to pay for your purchases. I've fallen in love with the bags BeckyKay Designs makes and sells, and I'm sure you will too!

Handcrafted Bookmarks



Handcrafted Bookmarks
Click Here to Browse and Order!


I love to read, and on the rare occasions that I don't finish a book in one setting, I need a bookmark. I've lost so many pictures, library cards, and important papers that I can't count them all! I've recently ran across these gorgeous Italian bookmarks. They're very well made, and feel great in your hand. They are just heavy enough to keep a page marked without slipping, yet not so heavy that they leave a permanent mark on the page. I've belonged to a number of book swapping groups in the past, and was always annoyed when a bookmark left obvious, ugly marks. No chance with these bookmarks! The shoppe that sells these, HappyBee, also sells sweet totes, credit card and lip balm holders, quilts, bibs, and more. Check them out!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Handcrafted Cat Toys



Handcrafted Catnip "Love Sock"
Click Here to Order!
$9 or $12


After searching high and low for the perfect cat toy, I have found it. This Catnip Love Sock is specially made for optimum kitty enjoyment.

With 1/2 rabbit fur, 1/2 faux fur, ribbons, feathers, and a hefty dose of catnip, I was interested to see how my cat, Tia, would react. She's had limited exposure to catnip, and has never seemed interested in cat toys before, but I thought I'd give it a try. I waited until she came meowing into the kitchen, begging for her umpteenth can of food for the day. Instead of popping open the kitty chow, I tossed the Catnip Love Sock on the floor in front of her, and stood back. Tia went absolutely crazy! She began purring and batting the sock around in every direction. She tackled it, she tossed it, she actually shook it side to side with her mouth, like a dog would do to an unlucky squirrel.

I was so impressed! Even after the initial catnip high went down, Tia returned to the toy over and over again to play with the feathers and strings. Tia hasn't played with this toy much for the last couple of weeks, but then, she's a new mommy! 5 kittens seems to have taken her play time away. I'm looking forward to seeing the kittens try out the Catnip Love Sock, when they are a bit older. I highly recommend this super cat toy!

Custom Made Belts




Custom Made Belts
Belt Shown Above Available Here
Many Other Styles Available Here
Happy Face Belt, Shown Above, $14
Other Belts - Prices Vary


Isn't this sooo awesome! Now you can have a great, affordable, custom-fit belt in amazing colors and styles. TraceyBelt is the shoppe that sells these, and they are so well made. I had so many compliments on my Happy Face belt. Everywhere I went, everyone wanted to know where I found this adorable belt! I live in the Ozarks, albeit the "backwoods" part of the Ozarks. "Everyone and his twin brother" wears belts here. Many are pretty much your run of the mill faux leather belt, or a handy piece of rope, or even suspenders. Once in a while, you'll see a hand-tooled belt, but, for the most part, nothing too imaginative. A belt like this will shake up a small town! The craftmanship is excellent, and the shop owner, Tracey, is very friendly. Customer service can't be beat, and shipping to the USA is a mere $1.5o, to Canada and Mexico, $1.80. All other countries are only $2.5o to ship to. Tracey accepts PayPal, which means you can use all major credit cards, as well as your debit card. Check them out!

New Critters from Build-A-Bear Workshop!

Learn-to-Dress Bearemy
$17
~~~~~~~~~~~~


PJ Bearemy
$15
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peek-a-Boo Monkey
$12
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bearemy Security Blankie/Puppet
$10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Build-A-Bear Workshop
Click Here to Find Your Nearest Store!


Wow. That was all I could think and say after I saw these adorable critters. They are so incredibly soft and huggable! They have the quality and charm that Build-A-Bear Workshop has become famous for, at prices that anyone can afford.

I'm first going to tell you about my favorite of these critters. My favorite is the Peek-A-Boo Monkey. Not only is he super, super soft, but he also has magnets in his hands and feet, so he can be posed in multiple positions. You can also hang him on a metal surface. The magnets are surprisingly strong for a stuffed toy. Monkey has a cute little banana in his pocket that slips in and out. He also has a plastic ring on his tail to hang from a rocking chair, crib post, etc. At only $12, this is an absolutely perfect gift for any small child (or even a collectible for us adults!). Recommended for ages 2 and up.

Next, we have the Bearemy Security Blankie/Puppet. This one is priced at $10, and recommended for all ages from birth up. I can see a little person quickly becoming attached to this teddy. It sports a soft security blankie which also can be a puppet, as well as a teething ring for fussy babies. This little guy is just as soft and sweet as can be!

Learn-to-Dress Bearemy is a great twist on the old favorite - dress-up dolls. I love the bunch of hair that sticks up so adorably on Bearemy's head. He has zippers, buttons, toggles, ties, Velcro, and buckles for an all-around learning experience. The recommended ages are 2 and up. I tried this with a 3 year-old, and she had so much fun trying out all the activities on Bearemy. There's no fear of anything come undone...Bearemy is made extremely well, and all buttons, etc., are well secured. At $17, this is a gift that will last for years and years.

Finally, we have PJ Bearemy. This teddy comes in several different colors, from blue to yellow to pink. The best feature of this toy, in my opinion, is the voice recording chip. It's very simple to use, just press and hold one hand to record a message from Mommy or Daddy, then the child can press the other hand to play. I've found that this is perfect for the evenings that the parents will be away from the child at bedtime. A recorded message from PJ can mean the difference between an easy bedtime, and a screaming, unhappy child. At $15, why not have a couple for different messages? PJ Bearemy is really soft and comfy to sleep with. He (or she!) has nothing on him that will scratch tender skin while sleeping.

I think all these critters are the most adorable toys I've seen yet this year!

Etsy Shoppe - SereneDreams








SereneDreams
Click Here to Browse and Order!


Mmmm.... I love fragrance. Not the heavy, deep, musky sort of fragrances, but lighter scents. I've found THE perfect source for candles, perfumes, and more. SereneDreams sells oodles of amazing scented goodies. The perfumes last for hours upon hours, and a 5 pack of samples is only $7.95. Perfect for finding that scent that fits your perfectly! There's also candles in all shapes, sizes, and scents. The Banana Blast candle is sooo great, it perfumed the whole kitchen when lit. I could smell the yummy scents before I even opened the mailbox! Even the woman that delivers my mail commented the next day on how the package made her truck smell really, really good. I highly suggest you order a sample pack of fragrances... they really scent the area around you with a light, delicate scent that lasts for hours. Here's what Serina, the owner of SereneDreams, says about her products:

"My perfume oils are hand blended and mixed fresh to order! Made with certified 100% essential oils, natural bouquets and some fragrance oils (just ask if unsure) and contain no alcohol or animal by-products. Luxurious as perfumes, or for massage, suitable for aromatherapy in an oil diffuser. Use as room scents, put a drop on a facecloth and throw in the dryer, or use in the tub for a silky aromatic bath!"

Shipping to the USA and Canada is very reasonable, and International shipping to other countries is available upon request. Everything comes packaged very carefully, and there was no breakage or leaking from my package. SereneDreams' 100% positive feedback will make even the most reticent buyer comfortable, and you can use PayPal to pay with all major credit cards. Serina also accepts money orders.

Be sure to check out all the great fragrances SereneDreams has to offer!

The Memory Board

Computer Monitor Before:

Computer Monitor After:

The Memory Board
Click Here to Order
$12.95 to $13.95
15",17", 19" Models Available Now, More Sizes Coming Soon!


I am the Queen of Clutter. Very much so. So when I saw this new invention, I knew it was something I had to try! I wasn't disappointed either. The Memory Board is, basically, a dry-erase board, custom made to fit your monitor. It attaches quickly and easily with the included Velcro, and stays securely attached to the monitor. The board works with any dry-erase markers or dry-erase crayons. This works so much better than using sticky notes that lose their stick! The board is a lot more pleasing to the eye, too. At $12.95 for most sizes, this is a great pick for decluttering your office.

Canguards





Canguards

Click Here to Order!

$0.50 each

Summer is fast approaching! Many of us are planning fun trips for summertime, such as camping, amusement park hopping, float trips, and more. One unfortunate fact of summer is the myriads of bugs, insects, and general critters that come swarming whenever a sugary drink is popped open. Who hasn't had a sweat bee topple to an untimely death in a soda can?

Now, there's a really great, inexpensive solution. Canguards are perfect for that can of soda, juice, or beer. No critters can sneak into your drink and surprise you when you slurp! At only 50 cents each, I suggest stocking up with these special lids.

Canguards are pretty simple to use. They're basically a snap on lid for aluminum cans. The first time you use one, they are a bit snug, so stretch them a little with your fingers, or simply put them on the unopened can a couple of times, and they will fit the opened can perfectly, with no chance of slipping.

These actually work very well, and do everything they are designed to do. No more bugs!


Friday, March 16, 2007

Heart-Shaped Bird Nest Builder



Birds Nest Helper
$8.00 each/ 2 for $15.00 US
Humans decorate their homes with all sorts of beautiful items, and now the birds living in your yard can have lovely nests! Many people, when cutting hair, toss the hair out in the yard for the birds to pick up. It's pretty common to see the hair sticking out of nests later in the year. Now, you can give your birds a bit of fashion advice. This nifty wire cage is easy to fill and refill with:
- straw, dried grasses and small twigs
- dog or cat hair
- moss, bull rush fluff or other natural fluff produced by plants
- short lengths of thread, string and wool
- thin strips of cotton fabric (like the kind quilters make when trimming up)
- dryer lint (yes, finally you can do something useful with dryer lint!).
This is a really, really cool "novelty" item, and is great to hang from trees and let birds "feather" their nests with!

Monday, March 12, 2007

.Com coming soon!

Big news!
We are currently building a new website for For Immediate Release Reviews. It will be (what else?) www.forimmediatereleasereviews.com . Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Review of "Selina Mae Steele"


Selina Mae Steele
Sylvia Marri Stone
CafePress
$17.95
Available Here


Short Summary:
In this book, Sylvia Stone draws on her own experiences as a champion bodybuilder to bring her character to life. Throughout the book, it is truly difficult to tell whether we are reading a work of fiction or an autobiography. Stone expertly weaves a tale of a woman trapped in the world of professional athletes, attempting to find love, happiness, success, and meaning in life. Does she ever find it? The book is left open-ended, so the reader can decide for themselves.


What Makes This Book Good?

The story is quite interesting, and there's a lot of points that an outsider to bodybuilding wouldn't be aware of, so an insider's look is valuable.

What Did I Not Like About This Book?

Needs some editing and cleaning up.
A bit overpriced for a self-published book.


Shaley's Verdict:

Worth a try!
B+



Review of "Grass IS Green... But Beyond Reach"


Grass IS Green... But Beyond Reach
Sylvia Marri Stone
CafePress
$12.95
Available Here




Short Summary:
Gianna Fagan is a typical teenager in many ways, yet, in others, she's very unique. She enjoys many ordinary activities, is awesome in sports, and tries to heal the strife in her family. She has a big problem, though. At times, her body will literally lock up and paralyze her. She falls to the ground and her only means of communication is via blinking. Eventually, Gianna's illness brings the family together.

What Makes This Book Good?

It's an interesting story, and at 96 pages, a quick beach read.

What Did I Not Like About This Book?

It needs a hefty dose of editing.
The story seems a bit implausible, the heroine is a bit too, well, perfect.


Shaley's Verdict:

This book has potential, but needs some assistance to truly shine.
B-

Review of "Being Teddy Roosevelt"


Being Teddy Roosevelt
Claudia Mills and R.W. Alley
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
$16
Available Here



Short Summary:
Riley has to write a biography, and then come to school dressed as his subject for a fancy tea. Five whole pages! The worst part? He can't pick the subject. He picks Teddy Roosevelt out of the teacher's hat. While Riley could care less about this long-dead president, there is a subject in school that he loves - music. Riley wants to rent a sax for band, but it costs $25 per month. His single mom never has any extra money, and his dad rarely sends them money. Riley begins reading his 127-page book about Roosevelt, and starts thinking of ways that he can maybe, just maybe, find a way to get that saxophone after all. The result? Hilarious fun, with Helen Keller tripping over imaginary snakes in the library, a young Gandhi parading around school in a white loincloth and head shaved in the boys bathroom, a kindly school bus driver, a dented van, and much more.


What Makes This Book Good?
The plot is adorable!
The kids are true-to-life.
There is a positive lesson, without being terribly obvious - be resourceful, inventive, and always try your best.
The illustrations are lively and fit in with the style of the book, and the black and white pictures don't detract from the story.
Good quality hardback binding.

What Did I Not Like About This Book?
Could be a bit longer, at only 90 pages, makes $16 a bit pricey.

Shaley's Verdict:

A great addition for school libraries, and teaches kids a good bit of history while being great fun.
A+!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

New Book Review Format,Etc.

Hi! As returning visitors may know, I was sick with scarlet fever for a couple of months towards the end of last year. During that time, books kept pouring in... and went on my bookshelf, where many of them have been sitting since. Why? Well, when I was sick, I honestly didn't want to write. So, I have many books, and I want to review them ALL for you to read and enjoy! Hence, I'm launching a new format for book reviews, effective immediately. Here's what you will see:
~~~~~
Title
Author
Publisher
Price
Available Here



Short Summary:


What Makes This Book Good?

What Did I Not Like About This Book?


Shaley's Verdict:

~~~~~

What's so great about this? Well, it's easier for me... I can bring you 3 or 4 reviews in the same amount of time that 1 would typically take. This means many more reviews for you, and more shelf space for me! So, what happens to the books I receive, after they've been read? Some are donated to one of my local libraries, and other stay on my shelf to be read and re-read.

I'm still deciding if this format will be used for other reviews. Another thing- I get asked this a lot, and NO, I don't receive a single dollar from the companies whose products I review. So, I can give you my honest review, without needing to "gush" over products.

I have some reviews coming up that I'm pretty excited about... Avayon's new personal media player, awesome hats from Wallaroo, a Blooming Candle, great Indie music CDs, lots of games and toys, and so much more.

My office in in my home, and this website isn't my whole life, obviously. Right now, I have some remodeling going on, my cat had 5 kittens yesterday, and spring (hence gardening and planting!) is well on the way. The remodeling that I'm doing is for a new bedroom-slash-office for me, with lots of shelf space, a tv/vcr/dvd player and pc in there, and still have access to a kitchen nearby, as well as my test panel of kids and adults. Yes, life is crazy, but isn't it always? These changes will make everything simpler and enable me to give you a lot more reviews. Falling behind was no fun, but I am slowly catching up. Please bookmark this website, and keep checking for more updates and reviews!



Thanks!

Shaley

Friday, March 02, 2007

Review of "The Invisibles"


The Invisibles
A Collection of Poetry & Artwork
Written and Illustrated by Donia Gobar
iUniverse Books
$12.95
Click Here to Order



Poetry and I don't usually get along. However, when I see poetry AND artwork together in one book, I want to give the book a try. I was not disappointed by The Invisibles. The illustrations are lovely, often haunting, and unforgettable. The poetry, while it looks simple, is, upon further reflection, deeply complex and thoughtful. The poetry is so wide and varied that the reader will never be bored or become tired of the book before it is finished, indeed, many will want to read the book over and over again.

While the book isn't terribly long, 116 pages, the author and artist, Donia Gobar, easily covers many of life's moments. The first poem is a very sweet one, of a little boy playing alongside a creek while his mother snoozes in the sun. A few pages later, the book leans toward the serious and heartbreaking, with a poem that speaks of a six year old child living in a war-torn land, walking through broken homes and bodies, the loss of his mother, the gloating of generals, the bottles of vodka, and, in the end, the poem says:

"And you ask yourself,
Why?
What for?"

It' s so easy to imagine yourself as the small, frightened child, wise and old beyond his years.


Many pages later, Gobar takes us into room 223 of Pittsburg's hospital, where we find a woman of indeterminate age gazing at the familiar, unvarying walls, signs, and flowers around her. The conclusion at the end is that the woman is laying in the bed, where she has lost a day of her life.

My favorite poem in the book is on page 89. It's called The Mute Shore In Me.

Look at those rushing, young emotions,
racing with children of the sea,
scattering diamonds of illusion.

Tipsy, with the wine of crimson dusk,
rising, falling,
and with half-breed twilights,
crying,
and with the mystic blue moon
singing, dancing...

Again and again and again

The old shore in me watches
silently,
stretching out it's world-weary being,
its vulnerable soft edges,
slowly
breaking,
sinking,
where the young waves play
night after night,
day after day...

I found this book to be wonderful, all around. The illustrations that accompany the poems are perfect, and the poetry is well written and thought out. A great book for any library!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Handcrafted Greeting Cards



Handcrafted Greeting Cards
Lucid Dreams Designs
$2.50 - $3.50
Click Here to Browse and Order



Lucid Dreams Designs makes gorgeous cards. It's as simple as that! Not only does this shoppe sell traditional greeting cards, but they also sell "bend-n-sends", which are really great, easy to use cards. More private than a postcard, less time than a traditional card and envelope.

Desirai, the owner and master artist behind Lucid Dreams Designs, uses her talents to make exceptionally lovely cards. Each card is unique, and suitable for many occasions. The Hearts with Bow card, shown above, features gold glitter accents, all applied carefully by hand. This card would be absolutely perfect for an anniversary, wedding wishes, or, how about a "get out of the doghouse" card? This card, among others Desirai sells, are so pretty.

Desirai's bend-n-sends are awesome, too. These would be great for kids and teenagers, you know, get them to send those thank you notes before a whole year has gone by! Also, how about for trips? They are more private than a postcard, so would be great to tell all the delicious details that the postman really doesn't need to know!

All the cards in Lucid Dreams Designs' shop are attractively priced, and easily personalized for that special someone. Check out their shop, they are adding new items all the time! I personally have my eye on these adorable magnets: