Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shine On, Harvest Moon

This year's autumnal equinox, which took place on September 23, occurred in conjunction with an event that doesn't happen all that often ~ a harvest moon.  So it's rather interesting that Harvest Moon, an anthology of three fun new fantasy novellas, is being released on October 1, not long after that unusual event.  Coincidence?  I wonder.  At any rate, it's pretty clever, as are the stories which all have as a motif a harvest moon.  In other respects, they all are quite different. 

A Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey is a story of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, this one a retelling of both Hades's abduction of Persephone and the doomed attempt by Orpheus to rescue Eurydice from the Underworld.  As is common with Lackey, her retelling turns the myths pretty much upside down.

Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara is set in the world of Elantra.  It tells how teenager Kaylin Neya joins the Hawks, a peacekeeping force, and helps them break up a ring of child abductors and murderers. My introduction to Elantra and its different species was pretty much my favorite of the bunch, and I'm looking forward to starting this series. *doing the happy dance over finding an excellent new series to start*

In Retribution by Cameron Haley, Domino Riley is a mob lieutenant who executes a guy named Benny after he attempts to murder her.  This wasn't just an ordinary mob hit, though, nor is this mob run-of-the-mill.  Rather, Domino Riley is a master magician, as are many of the other mobsters.  Although Benny doesn't have much "juice" (magical power), before he dies he puts a Jewish death curse on Domino that has her being stalked by Samael, the Old Testament Angel of Death.  It was okay, sometimes amusing and other times rather gruesome, but I never really warmed to the character, though by the end I was curious enough to want to read more novels about Riley.

Publication Date: October 1, 2010

As an aside, I started this about a month ago, but, after I finished Mercedes Lackey's novella, I stopped reading, mainly because I wasn't familiar with the other two authors' and their work. I guess I was in one of my "not interested in trying anything new" moods. Thank goodness that didn't last long because, while I enjoyed the Lackey offering, the second turned out to be really good. I wasn't quite as thrilled with the third, but eventually I enjoyed it too once I got into it, especially since urban fantasy is a new subgenre for me and one which I think I really like a lot.  I do hope this teaches me be less resistant to trying new things.

DISCLAIMER: I received this free unproofed eGalley, sent to my Kindle by the publisher with no strings attached, through The opinions expresssed are my own, and I am being paid nothing for my review.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Glamorous Green ~ The Latest Fashion Color

When I saw that Green Interior Design by Lori Dennis was being offered by publisher Allworth Press on, I jumped at the chance to read it.  Being  one of those unfortunates who is highly sensitive to chemicals, including perfumes and colognes (which abound in the office where I work, though most of the offenders are ~ believe it or not ~ men!), as well as other types of pollutants such as dust and cleansers, I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my living space ~ and work space, to the extent possible ~ cleaner and more livable.  I'm also interested in having less of an impact on the environment, a goal that becomes more and more urgent every year.  Finally, I'm planning to make a big move within the next few years when I retire.  I hoped this book might help me achieve a more environmentally friendly lifestyle both now and after I move.

I was not disappointed.

The book covers every aspect of one's living space: from building a new green space to making the one you live in more green, including what to look for when buying furniture and accessories, window treatments, and fabrics, as well as surface features, appliances and plumbing fixtures, what plants help neutralize pollution inside the home, and more.  It also includes handy checklists and lists of green sources.

A list of Chapter headings gives an idea of the extent of the material covered by the book:
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Furniture and Accessories
Chapter Three: Fabrics and Window Treatments
Chapter Four: Surface Materials
Chapter Five: Interior Plants
Chapter Six: Appliances and Plumbing Fixtures
Chapter Seven: Living Rooms
Chapter Eight: Bedrooms and Nurseries
Chapter Nine: Green Building
Chapter Ten: Cleaning and Maintaining Interiors and Landscapes
Chapter Eleven: My Favorite Green Designers, Architects, and Builders
Since I'm currently living in an apartment and don't have a lot of control over the building materials or paints, etc., I kind of skimmed the chapters on surface materials, appliances, green builders, etc. I'm keeping the book on my computer, though, to use when I move and may need the info. I got a lot out of the chapters on furniture and accessories, window treatments, cleaning supplies and interior plants, since those are things I have direct control over. And may I say that some of the information was eye-opening!

Having said all that, I confess that what I loved most about the book were the gorgeous photos! 

Speaking of gorgeous, here's a link to a video tour of a house in the Hollywood Hills that was designed by the author.  Scrumptious!  Makes me wish I'd become a lawyer like my dad wanted me to do so I could afford to live there.

To eReaders, I don't believe this would work well as an eBook.  The color photos demand a computer monitor or the iPad screen.  Therefore, I read this on my laptop, which wasn't the most pleasant experience due to my monitor's small size, so I couldn't see the entire page (which meant that some full-page images had to be made a lot smaller or I could only view the upper or the lower portions at a time.  Not a huge problem, but I wouldn't get this as an eBook unless you plan on reading it on a large screen monitor.  In my opinion, this book would be best as a print copy.  Though I haven't seen it yet in print, I imagine it would make a lovely decorative effect if left out on the coffee table for ease of reference.

Recommended for everyone who wants to turn their homes into places where they can thrive.

Publication Date: 11/16/2010

Advanced Praise for Green Interior Design

“Lori Dennis gives us a comprehensive primer and tool-book for green living. This must-have volume is filled with encyclopedic details, checklists and source guides—everything one needs to know in order to create eco-friendly interiors. It’s the new go-to for sustainable interior design principles and practices.” –Pamela Jaccarino, Editor in Chief, Luxe Interiors + Design

“Lori Dennis is a trailblazer, having specialized in green interior design for over a decade. She’s a master at the efficient use of space and has all the resources and trade secrets you need to make any home more environmentally friendly, visually appealing and comfortable.” –Phyllis Goldstein, Editorial Director, Small Room Decorating, Cottage Style, and Romantic Country

"Not only is Lori Dennis a brilliant designer, in Green Interior Design she proves time and time again that green is both good and glamorous." –Ronda Carman, All the Best Blog

“Lori Dennis offers a thoughtful look at the shades of green that go into living responsibly, comfortably, and beautifully at home. An essential introduction to sustainable domestic design.” –Jordan Kushins, Assistant Editor, Dwell
And from the publisher:
"This easy to use manual includes every aspect of residential interior design ~ furniture and accessories, window treatments, fabrics, surface materials, appliances and plumbing fixtures, plants, and more ~ discussed from a green perspective in terms of both avoiding pollution and protecting the occupants’ health. Green building criteria are elaborated and special focus is given to bedrooms where occupants spend most of their time and are most at risk. Landscaping and landscape maintenance are scrutinized from a green vantage point. The book concludes with interviews with a number of leading designers and architects who incorporate environmental and health concerns in their projects. Lori Dennis shares checklists (such as for green criteria) and sources for materials to help readers develop successful, sustainable projects. This book is a thorough guide for anyone wishing to create green interiors and lessen the enormous stream of waste and pollution generated by the building industry. The audience for this title includes interior designers, architects, builders, contractors, homeowners planning an interior remodeling or new construction project, and students and faculty of both interior design and architecture.
DISCLAIMER: I received this free unproofed eGalley, sent to my Kindle by the publisher with no strings attached, through The opinions in the review are my own, and I am being paid nothing for my review.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day, the Workers' Holiday

Ahhh, Labor Day! Celebrated on the first Monday of September, this end-of-summer holiday is marked by picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. For families with school-age children, it is the last chance to travel before the end of summer recess, and for high school and college students, it's the last carefree weekend for partying before the start of the fall semester.  For sports fans, Labor Day is the start of the NFL and college football seasons.

But what is Labor Day?  How did it come into being? 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, Labor Day "constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."  And to whom do you think thanks are owed  for the well-being of those selfsame workers?  To the efforts of labor unions, actually, those very unions which today are much-maligned by those who blame them for our current economic woes.

From the U.S. Department of Labor website, I also learned that the first Labor Day holiday was organized as a "workingmen's holiday" by the Central Labor Union, the nation's first integrated major trade union, and was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, with a parade.

Prior to the organization of the various unions, working conditions in America were dire, with workers being paid very little for back-breaking work under terrible conditions.  For example, " 1834-1836, women worked 16–17 hours a day to earn $1.25 to $2.00 a week. A girl weaver in a non-union mill would receive $4.20 a week versus $12.00 for the same work in a union mill. They had to buy their own needles and thread from the proprietor. They were fined for being a few minutes late for work. Women carried their own foot treadle machines or were held in the shops until the entire shop had completed an immediate delivery order. Their pay was often shorted, but a protest might result in immediate dismissal. Sometimes whole families worked from sun-up to midnight. Pulmonary ailments were common due to dust accumulation on the floors and tables. Some shops had leaks or openings in the roofs, and workers worked in inclement weather."  (wikipedia)

Despite the odds, some of the women challenged the employers. Their first organization was called the Daughters of Liberty in 1765. In 1825, the women reorganized, calling themselves the United Tailoresses of New York. Strikes occurred over the years, and some were successful. Many were not.

The above example of workplace abuse is only one of hundreds.  Men and children workers faced similar unbearable conditions in the workplace.

The fight for an 8-hour day, a living wage, and safe working conditions was long and bloody.  It could not have been waged without the unions.  So, while fewer American workers belong to unions today than ever before, and union busting seems part of today's political rhetoric, all of us who work an 8-hour day in a safe environment and draw a decent paycheck owe our thanks to those early unions and to those men and women who fought and sometimes gave their lives for the rights of all American workers.

Happy Labor Day, America.