[Book Review] Megan’s Munchkins

Today I received an email to review a new children’s book series Megan’s Munchkins, by Pamela Foland.

It is the first book in a series of thirteen year-old Megan, who lives in Texas. The book starts off with Megan finding a box of stray kittens. She manages to hide her kittens in her room for five weeks, without her parents knowing. The book ends with her coming clean to her parents after she comes home during the day to realize her mom and sister-in-law are at the home too; her parents decide to let her keep her kittens.

Reading it as an adult, it was hard for me to be excited about it (even as a teacher, I am NOT an elementary teacher); however, it reminded me of book series that I read as a kid in like sixth grade — books like Sweet Valley Twins, The Baby-Sitters Club, etc. The book is corny as an adult, but cute as a kid’s book… but I wouldn’t put it in the same category as Judy Blume though, or other classics like the Betsy-Tacy series (or my favorite classics like Little Women or Charlotte’s Web).

I felt the whole bit of calling the kittens “munchkins” was a bit cheesy. It reminded me of my high school students going around calling their friends “babe” in the hallway between classes. I also found it too convenient and unrealistic that Meg’s parents were oblivious to cats living in their home for over a month — I had a cat that I loved very much, and he was just one cat… there’s no way of disguising the smell of a litter box.

However, I am sure there will be middle school kids out there that will enjoy. I appreciate Ms. Foland for the opportunity to read and review her new book, and I wish her success with her series.


[Book Review] Puppy Training

Today I received a book to review: Puppy Training: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crate Training, Potty Training, Obedience Training, and Behavior Training — by Julia Chandler.

It’s a good instruction book that is best suited for a first-time dog owner. It has beautiful photos of various dogs which helps the book a lot visually. It’s an easy read with some great tips. The paragraphs are broken up very neatly instead of being long and compact. There’s some really good info in the book like poisonous plants, the kind of collar to choose, click training, etc. I highly recommend for someone who is getting a puppy for the first time.

Thanks to Ms. Chandler for the opportunity to review her book, and the best of luck for her success with it.

[Book Review] Your Breakup, Your Blessing

A few days ago I received an email to review a new book: Your Breakup, Your Blessing: Breakup Self-Help — How to Live Before, During and After Divorce, by Karen R. Rivera.

This is a self-help book for women going through a divorce. On Amazon, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It is very straight forward and offers some good advice and insights. However, I find that most of the info in the book can be found by just using Google, where there are thousands of articles written about this subject. I, myself, have written lots of posts on my blog on dealing with a breakup.

With self-help books like these, on relationship advices, I find that most women are seeking answers to questions that their common senses already are telling them — but breakups, especially a divorce situation, is hard to deal with, and sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else instead.

The main criticism I have on this book is that it starts off its first chapter with different types of abuses in relationships. I don’t think this is a good self-help book for general breakups or divorces, automatically assuming that relationships are always caused by some sort of an abusive relationship is not accurate.

Like most self-help books, this one is targeted towards a female demographic, but I think it is best suited for someone in a relationship like Kourtney Kardashian, dealing with an alcoholic womanizing baby daddy relationship… or Nicole Simpson, who was actually in a physically abusive relationship.

Thank you to the author for the opportunity to review her book, and I wish her lots of success with it.

Happy Anniversary to Me ♡

*Update: Just wanted to share my anniversary flowers with my readers — it’s been two weeks since I’ve received them, and they are still alive! They still smell fragrant and look beautiful — I’ve received lots of flowers before, but these are definitely the longest lasting ones I’ve ever gotten! ♡

It’s been TWO WEEKS and they still look absolutely beautiful (they’re my anniversary flowers from the last week of March). ♡

In my maddening day yesterday (consisting of me fighting with WordPress over $26 — and typing in CAPLOCKS… I don’t even want to get into it…) — I had a happy moment in my gloomy day. My anniversary was a few days ago, and my flowers came in the afternoon. ♡

When I got them out of the box yesterday afternoon (it’s almost 2AM right now)… excuse my messy table!

My favorite — a sunflower mixed bouquet. (I was hoping for sunflowers as my wedding flowers, but since my mom-in-law is buying the flowers, we are going with traditional red roses) — I could tell her that she would save a lot of money on sunflowers instead of roses… but she’d probably say something like yellow doesn’t match any of my wedding colors.

They are on my bookcase now (I’m lying in bed, typing this on my Samsung Note with one finger), and the bouquet smells lovely. When I wake up in the morning, the sunflowers will have opened up more, and they will look beautiful. (I will update with a picture!) My daughter calls me the “sunflower queen”, ha!

I love sunflowers, but a lot of people are disappointed by them as cut flowers. I always see bad reviews for them — and I can only conclude that most women aren’t used to getting flowers from a commerical florist, or the only flowers they’ve ever gotten are from the buckets at the local supermarket by the checkout aisles. I, the so-named “sunflower queen”, need to defend my namesake.

The flowers in the dirty water buckets at Walmart and grocery stores die the next day and have no scent. Fresh cut flowers smells lovely, they are very fragrant. Commercial florists and suppliers ship cut flowers while they are still budding, that way the customers gets the maximum time out of the blooms.

I get so irritated when I see someone write a bad review about my favorite flowers, because they usually complain that they’ve received “wilted” or “dying” flowers — I supposed if you never grew flowers or aren’t used to getting flowers from an actual florist, they might look like that, especially with sunflowers… but I grow them every summer, and florists cut them when the petals are still closed around the head, because once they open they usually die in about a week, so you definitely don’t want sunflowers given to you that are already fully bloomed, because that means it’ll probably be dead by the morning!

I knew my guy was the one when he sent me sunflowers last MarchValentine’s Day had passed, and I had gotten a lot of flowers, but no one had ever gotten my favorite (including him, who got me this ridiculously humongous bouquet of red roses, the first time any guy ever had flowers shipped to me instead of delivered, ha!) — later he told me he saw a picture of my sunflowers on my blog, so he took a shot. He’s the only guy to get it right (and to think, all those men could have saved hundreds of dollars if they had gotten sunflowers instead of roses).

Even though my flowers arrived after our anniversary, I’m actually happy they came when they did because the day was kind of in the toilet. Thanks for my beautiful bouquet, hubby! ♡

(I also finally finished our birdcage cardholder for our wedding — I am quite crafty, if I do say so myself… and I do say so!) — red roses and sunflowers, ha!

Happy anniversary to me. ♡

[Review] Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency

I was given a digital copy (PDF) of a self-help type book, learning a new language, for review: Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency. The book is available on Amazon.com for purchase as a digital copy (Kindle), and it’s free for those that have the subscription service Kindle Unlimited. The book is authored by Janina Klimas.

The book starts off with the usual self-help books, especially with language learning, which is basically that you can do it. You can do it if you put the time into it.

It’s not a learning book in the sense of an actual language book. It’s not teaching you a new language, but gives you tips and advice on how you can learn a language. A lot of the things are common sense knowledge; and as a teacher, a lot of it is common core knowledge.

As someone who speaks conversational Cantonese, and have an elementary understanding of French, being a native speaker of English; here’s my advice — submersion is key. Especially with today’s technological society, even being in a place far removed by my beloved NYC, I can still find ways to “submerged” myself in rural Buddha-land Iowa somewhere. Movies, music, books… I spent a whole summer about two years ago watching French movies, listening to French music, and flirting with French military pilots while my ex-fiancé was sleeping.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s worth the read. Otherwise, it’s $6.99 for the digital copy. I’m not sure if there’s an actual physical copy of the book though, there wasn’t a format option on Amazon.com for it.

I wish Ms. Klimas the best of luck in her continued success in writing and teaching (and learning). Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to review your book! ♡

“The Little Voice” [Review]

In December, an author found my blog and asked if I would write a review for his book. (Sorry it has taken me a while to filter through my blog emails, especially during the holidays!)

The book, The Little Voice, by Joss Sheldon is available for purchase on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

The theme of the book seemed to be rebellion against society and social norm. It’s a short novel and I finished it in one day. I felt it was missing a plot, and the storyline seemed very monotonous. The characters could have been built on more, and this seemed kind of all over the place. When I think of other “societal rebellious” novels like Catcher in the Rye, although it was only Holden as the main character, it was focused on what happened to him in a span of just a few days from prep school back to NYC.

This jumped from grade school to adulthood, and there was too much narrative explaining what was going on instead of the book being able to do it on its own through the story. Another “rebellion” novel, I think of, The Basketball Diaries, the grammer sucked and I’m quite certain Jim Carroll was high when he wrote it, but it was incredible because it didn’t feel pretentious.

With Sheldon’s novel, there was way too much quotes from Lao Tzu in every chapter (he’s the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote The Art of War, for those of you who don’t know); and maybe he could have focused more on one aspect of the character to make the story more readable.

This was a novice book, and I’m sure Joss Sheldon will only continue to improve with his writing. I did not particularly like the novel, but that’s just me. I strongly recommend my readers to give it a try and see for yourself. There’s a Kindle version available for only $2.99, as well as a paperback and hardcover edition.

Joss had emailed me a PDF format of his novel, and the cover art looks great. Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to review your novel, Joss. The best of luck in your continued success! ♡

Obagi Blue Peel Review

I got an Obagi Blue Peel at the Cleaver Dermatology center in Kirksville, Missouri (they’re opening another location in Georgia soon!)… the center is separated into a medical dermatology part and a spa area (to the left as you walk in). They have their own parking (very convenient), and it’s one of the nicest spas I’ve been to (and I’ve been to plenty!). My esthetician, Robin, was very friendly and nice. There was no waiting around to be seen either, so that was great too!

Robin cleaned my face, applied lotion on my lip, and then put the Obagi Blue Peel on. She did two coats. I was worried it would hurt, it didn’t. It did sting a little bit, but definitely not anything terrible. I was given a mini fan to hold to my face to cool it down. Afterwards, Robin washed my face again, although I did have blue residual on my face.

The blue was completely gone the next day after I washed my face. No peeling or anything. I was told to wear sunscreen and lotion, I didn’t do either. I had watched YouTube videos where these white women looked like their face was literally peeling off… that hasn’t happened to me, so maybe this stuff only works on white people???

After about 4 days, I started “flaking” a bit. It looks like I have dry skin around my jaw area. I also started flaking on the sides of my cheeks too. Nothing major. I was a bit disappointed. I wanted my face to go through that weird looking white-woman peel, and it didn’t. The side of my face was a bit itchy too.

After a week, I told Ed my face feels softer. He told me they probably put baby oil on my face and charged me for a swab of Johnson & Johnson baby oil, ha! That’s only because they all think I’m “beautiful”… but as every vain woman knows, the more vain you are, the more critical you are with yourself.

To me, it felt like getting some super-strength overpriced facial. I liked it though, it wasn’t a bad experience. I would actually recommend this instead of getting regular spa facials… if you don’t mind the blue tinge left behind a day or two; also, every person is different. So maybe this would be more beneficial for some people with lots of dead skin or maybe someone with acne problems; the YouTube videos that I watched where people’s faces were peeling off were either older women or people with bad acne… so I’m not sure what I was really expecting out of it.

I have these very fine wrinkles on my forehead, and Ed thinks I’m crazy — but that’s only because to Ed, I am forever 21 and his fantasy Asian girl — every white guy has that one Asian friend who is his fantasy Asian, ha!

La Femme Infidèle

Tonight I’m in Ames, I always have a hard time sleeping anywhere that is not my own bed… hotels are the worse of them all. Anyway, it is 0230 and TBS is playing Unfaithful. I actually saw this in the theater when it came out in 2002… I can’t remember who the guy was that took me to see it.

So when the movie came out, I didn’t especially like it, but now that I’m older I appreciate it more. The American film is actually based on a French film in the 1960s, La Femme Infidèle. The plot line is the same. The French title means: the unfaithful wife.

It’s actually a very sad movie, and probably something that happens a lot in every day life. A bored suburban housewife that has an affair… it’s strange, I actually feel very compassionate for all three main characters — the wife, husband, and even the lover.

When I first saw the movie, I didn’t like Diane Lane’s character, but now that I’m older I can empathize with the character of Connie Sumner. Watching it now, I think Diane Lane should have won the Best Actress award at the Oscars (she was nominated, but didn’t win).

I think the most complex about the character is that she’s a good person that loves her family, but she has a sort of self-awakening when by chance she meets a handsome younger man… maybe it’s a mid-life crisis or something. I’m sure when a woman is in her forties or even older, and a hot young guy finds you sexually appealing, it’s bound to make you temporarily lose your senses.

Marius et Fanny

I’ve been watching so much French films… I don’t feel like my French has improved though. I’ve watched a boring movie based on a “true story” about a woman who was the personal chef to the President of France, Haute Cuisine. I gave it 2 stars, it was so boring, I should have given it 1 star… I’m too lazy to find it on Netflix and change my rating though.

Then I watched another cooking movie, Le Chef, that one was a bit better. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I found it kind of bland, actually. It’s about a young man that has a real passion for cooking, but he isn’t able to become a chef like he wants, until by chance he ends up meeting his idol and becoming his sous chef, and eventually becoming an executive chef.

I also watched (in the same day), Populaire… which I think is super corny. The male actor has a very striking resemblance to actor Danny Pino, it’s crazy. It’s set in the 1950’s, and the cinematography is excellent; I’m thinking it might even be Technicolor (as the company is currently headquartered in France). Basically it’s about typing… typing and a corny romance.

That was all yesterday — today I watched Marius and Fanny. It takes place in the 1930s, in Marseille. Again, the cinematography was excellent, and again I’m thinking they used Technicolor. It’s based on the play that was written by Marcel Pagnol, the first of a trilogy — Marius, Fanny, and César. It was funny, the acting was great, especially the actor that played César (Marius’ dad). It could even be a Broadway play… even the setting looked Broadway-ish. It reminded me of a Broadway production. I liked it a lot, the ending was sad though.

Les Films Français

Bonsoir mes amis !

Tonight I watched two French movies, the first one was a hilarious French comedy called Barbecue. It’s about a group of middle-aged, long-time friends from Lyon, who are on vacation together in southern France. I really loved the movie a lot (it’s currently streaming on Netflix). The main character, Antoine, suffers from a heart attack a week after his 50th birthday. It’s an ensemble cast, and it’s one of those feel-good comedies. The cinematography of the southern France landscape is beautiful, and I just loved how colorful the whole movie was. Going to France is definitely on my bucket list now!

The second film I watched is called Le Tableau in French (The Painting), and it’s also currently streaming on Netflix. This is an animation film, and it might be too mature for very young children, but I think it’s a great film… I enjoyed it. It’s about a painting that the painter did not complete, and it’s divided into 3 social classes — the completed figures, the “halfies”, and the sketches. It’s a good film that teaches about prejudice, differences, and intolerance. One painting is a war painting, and the soldiers are all in either red or green uniforms… but then Magenta (one of the soldiers on the quest to find the painter) paints all the soldiers in the war painting a purple-ish color… the painter is kind of like God to the characters of the paintings. It’s a very educational film for children, I think.