August 30, 2008

Review: The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel

From the founder and owner of the organic skin-care line, Petite Marie, comes a revealing look at cosmetics and skin care that the most of the beauty industry would love to keep secret. For instance, all that a product needs to be labeled as “Organic” is a drop of organic essential oil. This is called greenwashing and most greenwashers spend more money on promoting themselves as environmentally friendly than they do on formulating toxin-free, environmentally sound products.

With The Green Beauty Guide, Julie Gabriel starts with the basics of learning all about your skin and guides you through what you should look for in all your beauty products. She teaches you the how tell the difference between a good marketing campaign and truly organic products. You’ll also find The Ten Commandments of Green Beauty, How to Go Green Without Going Broke and even recipes for your own organic beauty products such as cleansers, toners, facial masks, moisturizers and even acne zappers with simple easy to find ingredients.

For me, a not so environmentally conscious consumer, the realization what most of us are doing to our skin and the environment was initially a bit intimidating and scary really but Gabriel’s information makes it easy to make the green switch. I’ve already been through my cabinets checking labels and packaging. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in making a difference.

Review: City of Refuge by Tom Piazza


With 1,836 lives lost due to the hurricane and subsequent flooding, Hurricane Katrina was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States and the costliest in terms of property damage. City of Refuge is the story of how the hurricane affects two very different families living in New Orleans.

SJ Williams, his sister Lucy and her son Wesley were all born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward. New Orleans is their place and they are proud to have made lives there. The widowed SJ owns his own carpentry and repair business, loves to read and cook while watching over his family. Lucy struggles with drug and alcohol dependence while scraping by working odd jobs where she could find them. Nineteen year old Wesley is at the point in his life where he’s no longer a boy but not yet a man. He feels smothered by his Uncle SJ’s subtle pressure to become more than just another thug in the neighborhood.

Craig Donaldson is married with two small children. He and his wife Alice are both New Orleans transplants. Nobody had ever had more of a crush on New Orleans than Craig. As editor of Gumbo Magazine he reveled in the rich musical history and the characters found in neighborhoods throughout the city. However more and more lately his wife is feeling a restlessness coming from giving up her own painting and teaching career to the increasing violence and decaying infrastructure of the public school system. Now once again faced with packing up and evacuating the kids Alice is more convinced than ever that it’s time to leave New Orleans and doesn’t hesitate to make this clear to Craig.

From a few days before the hurricane to first Mardi Gras celebration six months after the devastation Piazza documents the lives of both families with raw emotion and genuine feeling. During the first night of the storm SJ is prowling the house checking rooms sealed up like tombs to the raging outdoors and you can feel the worry coming off the pages. While staying with relatives in Chicago, Alice has made the decision that Craig himself can’t come to terms with. It’s time to leave New Orleans and make a new life for their family. You get a true sense of Alice’s need to protect her family while still feeling the anguish that’s pulling Craig in two directions.

The book is a true homage to the author’s love of the city and I enjoyed getting to know these characters and be a part of their lives. I would recommend this book to book clubs who will have much to discuss about the book, the city and social differences of the characters.

August 28, 2008

Books I've read in 2008

I'll update the list with each new book I read for the rest of the year. As time permits, I'll start adding links to the book descriptions.

  1. Creation in Death - J.D. Robb
  2. T is for Trespass - Sue Grafton
  3. The Spellman Files - Lisa Lutz
  4. All The Numbers - Judy Larsen
  5. Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich
  6. Turned Out! - Reggie Chesterfield
  7. The Darkest Evening of the Year - Dean Koontz
  8. Sucker Bet - Erin McCarthy
  9. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City - Kirsten Miller
  10. The Manolo Matrix - Julie Kenner
  11. Souvenir - Therese Fowler (ARC)
  12. High Heels Are Murder - Elaine Viets
  13. The Prada Paradox - Julie Kenner
  14. Hot Mama - Jennifer Estep
  15. Strangers in Death - J.D. Robb
  16. Cooking Up Murder - Miranda Bliss
  17. Eternity in Death - J.D. Robb (Dead of Night Anthology)
  18. Sex and the Single Ghost - Tawny Taylor
  19. Double Dating with the Dead - Karen Kelley
  20. Me Times Three - Alex Witchel
  21. Lamb - Christopher Moore
  22. Bubbles Unbound - Sarah Strohmeyer
  23. Slay It with Flowers - Kate Collins
  24. The Book of Fate - Brad Meltzer
  25. The Curse of the Spellmans - Lisa Lutz
  26. Sweet Revenge - Diane Mott Davidson
  27. Dedication - Emma McLaughlin
  28. Angel With Attitude - Michelle Rowen
  29. Murder on the Menu - Miranda Bliss
  30. Accessory to Murder - Elaine Viets
  31. Candy Apple Dead - Sammi Carter
  32. Dearly Depotted - Kate Collins
  33. Dead Over Heels - MaryJanice Davidson
  34. There's No Place Like Here -Cecelia Ahern
  35. Like A Charm - Candace Havens
  36. Sleeping with Ward Cleaver - Jenny Gardiner
  37. The Undead Kama Sutra - Mario Acevedo
  38. I'm The Vampire, That's Why - Michele Bardsley
  39. Don't Talk Back to Your Vampire - Michele Bardsley
  40. Skulduggery Pleasant - Derek Landy
  41. The Butcher of Beverly Hills - Jennifer Colt
  42. Because Your Vampire Said So - Michele Bardsley
  43. Tall, Dark & Dead - Tate Hallaway
  44. Wake - Lisa McMann
  45. Dead Sexy - Tate Hallaway
  46. Songs for the Missing - Stewart O'Nan (ARC)
  47. My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon - Anthology
  48. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
  49. Don't Hex With Texas - Shanna Swendson
  50. Oscar Season - Mary McNamara
  51. Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear - Sharon Dunn
  52. A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthrur's Court - Marianne Mancusi
  53. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
  54. Demon's Are a Ghoul's Best Friend - Victoria Laurie
  55. Real Vampires Get Lucky - Gerry Bartlett
  56. The Wedding Girl - Madeleine Wickham
  57. Killing Bridezilla - Laura Levine
  58. Demon Envy - Erin Lynn
  59. The Art of Racing in The Rain - Garth Stein
  60. The Richest Season - Maryann McFadden (ARC)
  61. Specials - Scott Westerfeld
  62. Hold Tight - Harlan Coben
  63. Sucks To Be Me - Kimberly Pauley (ARC)
  64. Flora's Dare - Ysabeau S. Wilce (ARC)
  65. Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich
  66. Real Vamps Don't Drink O-Neg - Tawny Taylor
  67. Death By Darjeeling - Laura Childs
  68. Gunpowder Green - Laura Childs
  69. Why You Crying - George Lopez
  70. Undead and Unworthy - MaryJanice Davidson
  71. - Rebecca Anderson
  72. So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
  73. Thanks For The Memories - Cecelia Ahern
  74. Blue Is For Nightmares - Laurie Faria Stolarz
  75. Summer Blowout - Claire Cook (ARC)
  76. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale - Holly Black
  77. Dead Men Don't Get the Munchies: A Cooking Class Mystery - Miranda Bliss
  78. Romancing the Dead (Garnet Lacey, Book 3) - Tate Hallaway
  79. Fallen (Seven Deadly Sins, Book 2) - Erin McCarthy
  80. Chocolate Dipped Death (A Candy Shop Mystery)- Sammi Carter
  81. Married Lovers - Jackie Collins
  82. My Husband's Sweethearts- Bridget Asher (ARC)
  83. Impossible - Nancy Werlin (ARC)
  84. The Ex-Debutante- Linda Francis Lee
  85. It's a Kind of Magic- Carole Matthews
  86. American Widow- Alissa Torres
  87. Breach Of Trust - Kimber Chin (e-book)
  88. Something Wickedly Weird, vol. 1: The Wooden Mile - Chris Mould (ARC)
  89. Romeo, Romeo - Robin Kaye (ARC)
  90. City of Refuge: A Novel - Tom Piazza (ARC)
  91. The Green Beauty Guide - Julie Gabriel (ARC)
  92. The Book of Matthew - Thomas White
  93. When We Were Romans: A Novel - Matthew Kneale
  94. The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir - John Grogan (ARC)
  95. Insatiable Desire (The Demonborn) - Rita Heron
  96. Nation - Terry Pratchett (ARC)
  97. The Charlemagne Pursuit: A Novel - Steve Berry (ARC)
  98. The Best You'll Ever Have - Shannon Mullen
  99. Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles) - Lori Handeland (ARC)
  100. City Dog - Alison Pace (ARC)
  101. Blue Genes - Christopher Lukas (ARC)
  102. Forbidden Knowledge - Michael Powell
  103. Chasing Diana - Jack and Robin Firestone
  104. The Daughters Grimm - Minda Webber
  105. Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? - Allyson Beatrice
  106. Thread of Fear - Laura Griffin
  107. The Salem Witch Tryouts - Kelly McClymer
  108. Bad Cat: 244 Not-So-Pretty Kitties And Cats Gone Bad - by Jim Edgar
  109. Competition's a Witch - Kelly McClymer
  110. She's a Witch Girl - Kelly McClymer
  111. Dirty French - Adrien Clautrier & Henry Rowe
  112. Dewey - Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
  113. Otis: The Musical Owl - Joseph Chappelle
  114. The Possession - Jaid Black
  115. Playing Dead (Prison Break, Book 3) - Allison Brennan
  116. Immortal Warrior - Lisa Hendrix
  117. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
  118. Through the Storm - Lynne Spears
  119. Going Down - Nicci Talbot
  120. Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead - Saralee Rosenberg
  121. Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice - Maureen McCormick
  122. The Book of Nonsense (Sacred Books, Vol. 1) - David Michael Slater
  123. 365 Erotic Secrets for Sensational Sex: The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Ecstasy - Dr. Pam Spurr
  124. The Pre-Nup - Beth Kendrick
  125. The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen (Rose of York) - Sandra Worth
  126. Santa Responds: He's Had Enough...and He's Writing Back! - Santa Claus
  127. Written In Blood - Sheila Lowe
  128. Paul of Dune - Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
  129. I, Lorelei - Yeardley Smith
  130. DNA - W. Craig Reed
  131. Mysteria Lane (Berkley Sensation) - Anthology
  132. The Unseen - T.L. Hines
  133. The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud - Jenny L. Cote
  134. The Coffee Shop of the Living Dead (Escapade Johnson) - Michael Sullivan
  135. Cross Country - James Patterson
  136. American Wife: A Novel - Curtis Sittenfeld
  137. Kiss - Ted Dekker
  138. Fault Line: A Novel - Barry Eisler
  139. Same Kind of Different As Me -  Ron Hall & Denver Moore
  140.  House of Dark Shadows - Robert Liparulo