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Tales from the Amazon

 

 

My Nine Lives as an
Amazon.com Top 10  Reviewer
 

(Recently Updated - Now a top 50 reviewer)
 

by Rebecca of Amazon

© www.TheRebeccaReview.com 2007

 

 








Listen to your dreams - those are 
the sounds no one else can hear. 

~Kobi Yamada

 





Dedicated to all the reviewers at Amazon.com who write for
the sheer love of writing, to my life coach who believes in me 
and to my grandmother Clarice who secretly loved cats.

 

  Grandma Clarice
March 1940

 

 


 

Introduction

 

A review can amplify an author's message and there is nothing I find more exciting than reviewing items that open the mind to possibility. I love reading books late at night and falling asleep happy. Letting thoughts crystallize overnight often results in waking up to a review flowing through me onto the page. 

I love cats and I love books. Some of the most sublime moments in my life have been while reading an enlightening book. Many of my most comforting memories include reading a book with a cat sleeping close by.

My cats have always been attracted by the soft patter of my fingers on the keyboard and will often walk in front of the computer screen, as if trying to distract me from less important matters. Cats have taught me much about how to enjoy life and live in the moment. They also get as excited about new toys and catnip as I do about books.

One day I looked at my keyboard and realized I had literally put holes in the keys from typing over 2500 reviews. It was then time to buy a new computer.

With some sadness I said goodbye to my old laptop, but saved the keyboard. I had to move on and life was taking me in new directions.

With a new DELL computer in hand, I started to review even more. 

The questions is, how did I get to the top of Amazon.com and why am I there?

Is there some mysterious reason or did I just type a lot of reviews? Could writing one review really change your entire life? It changed mine and here is my story. Being at the top of amazon has helped me bring awareness to my favorite charity www.worldvision.org.

I believe each life is here for a purpose and I believe Amazon.com reviewers are providing an incredible service to publishers and authors.

I love talking to authors, publishers and reviewers.  They are the most interesting people I have ever met. Writing reviews for new authors is one of the best experiences in my reviewing journey.

My goal in writing this online book is twofold. I wanted to share what happened behind the scenes as reviewers and authors encouraged me to write more reviews.

I also wanted to share my journey and publish a few of the inspiring comments I have received over the years. Iím excited about reviewing and how a review can be a gift to a reader and an author.

This is a story of my journey while writing reviews. It is a scrapbook of thoughts and experiences.

Amazon.com is truly the catís meow!

Warmest Regards,

Rebecca of Amazon, M.Ed.
www.TheRebeccaReview.com

 

 


Diving Into a Magical River of Books

 

Is there any excitement to compare with the opening
of a fresh parcel of books? ~William Targ  

 

Thank you, first of all, for all you do to promote and cherish the written word. Your reviews are pure magic. Being a reviewer myself, I know what a particular agony and ecstasy reviewing is and I am always thrilled when an author writes to tell me that my review was meaningful. ~K.

The Rebecca Review was not an idea I thought of at the start. I started by reviewing cookbooks and slowly worked my way into reviewing a variety of genres. The first recorded review was posted on April 3, 2000 (The Best Recipe). This was five years after Amazon.com opened its virtual doors in July, 1995. 

It is interesting how my desire to write a cookbook turned into a desire to start a website and then a desire to review. I honestly had no idea that wanting to write a cookbook would take me to a place where I would have to figure out a professional reviewing name.

Like many reviewers, I was at Amazon having fun, meeting people and chatting at the forums. I didnít even take my first few postings seriously. Well, not until I realized (to my horror) that the reviews I had so casually posted were not edited by professional editors. I had not even spell checked them, thinking that would be some automatic feature.

The main problem was that I was high on chocolate when I first posted reviews. I had just discovered a delicious chocolate and had obviously become high on life itself. A few days later I wondered about my sanity. How could I have written those reviews without even checking my spelling? I panicked and sent reviews to my editor who was kind enough to edit a few reviews.

I even considered an online editor after coming to the realization that my words were posting almost instantly and for all to see. Did I think I was posting my reviews in private? The site felt so cozy.

After this brief, albeit startling revelation, I lost my fear of public posting and now enjoy the excitement of posting my thoughts for all to see. Now reviews post almost instantly and you can erase or edit individual reviews. Your reviews are also listed in an about-you-area/profile page where you can organize your thoughts on books, movies and almost anything Amazon sells.

Amazon has come a long way since I started reviewing back in 2000. Amazon's willingness to venture into uncharted territory is very exciting for the consumer. It has been an adventurous journey to watch the site change over the past few years. Not only have they made it highly enjoyable to post reviews, the site is super user friendly.

When I first started reviewing and talking to fellow reviewers at the forums, there was a stigma attached to writing reviews for anything but books. If I reviewed kitchen items, reviewers would comment about the inappropriate nature of such reviews. It has taken years for this to be more accepted and I am sure some reviewers would still never review anything but books. 

 

Visiting Bookstores in Europe in 1981
Me, Dad & my Brothers



While this is ideal in a perfect world, many of us find great pleasure in reviewing obscure and fascinating items. Kitchen items have always been the love of my cooking life and I can truly say I almost died from excitement when kitchen items appeared at Amazon. You could then review a zester, or even an ice cream maker.

There didnít seem to be any limits. I started to review everything I owned and even things I didnít own that I borrowed from the library.

It soon became very apparent. I was addicted to reviewing. I didnít have a car and frankly, I needed more books on a daily basis. So, the trips to the library started and I figured out how to take the bus to the local library. This was a temporary solution. A bag of 10 books is heavy and I had to carry them home on a bus and who wants to spend hours reading anyway? OK, Iíll admit to wanting to read constantly.

Well, apparently I heard this was not uncommon. These trips to the library were quite acceptable as long as I was being productive and actually leaving the house now and then. 

Online life is intellectually addictive. For me, Amazon is the icing on the online cake. I became instantly infatuated with a website. I canít say there is any other site online that affected me in such a profound way. I fell madly in love with the entire idea.

It may have something to do with being instantly published. Having the heart of a writer, I was fascinated by the entire process. I could tell people what I thought about books and a website would actually post my humble little thoughts. I was honored they would actually let us post and tried my best to write good reviews.

There were a few days when I was so annoyed by a few movies that I left a trail of terror and had to go back later and rethink my entire life. Normally my vindictive side is more contained.  

Did I want to promote items or take the more critical route? Already I was receiving notes telling me I was too positive. Who did I think I was being so sunny and cheerful in the dark depths of Internet life?

I blame it on being young and naÔve at the time and I knew how it felt to be rejected by the publishing industry. I wanted to help new authors who self-published their books. 

It seemed to me that you had to be famous before anyone would publish your cookbook. This didnít work for me because I didnít want to be famous; I wanted people to enjoy my recipes. Creating a website sounded like the perfect solution, I would give all the recipes away for free.

Then, I remember thinking this was not such a good idea because I would need to create over 400 website pages. (Which I eventually did...)

Now you can be published in a matter of days or months and have Print-on-Demand books for all to purchase from online sites like iunivese.com. What a new world online life has brought to new writers who want to share their heart and promote what they love.

Many of the books being published online are especially helpful and very unique. I love the originality and creative spirit.

You donít have to be famous to get your message across. You just have to know how to write and how to market yourself.

 

 

Dad reading to me in 1971. It seems my mother
took a lot of pictures of my dad reading
to me. It is one of my favorite
childhood memories.  

 


Kayaking Upstream

 

 

 

Life can't really ever defeat a writer who is in love with writing, 
for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, 
warm, cold, treacherous, constant. ~Edna Ferber (1885-1968)


 

 

 

Your reviews, and overall outlook on life, are refreshing in a world of negative reviews and criticism. Iím delighted to see how youíve made such a positive influence in the lives of others, both reader and author alike. Many blessings to you as you continue to share your gift with the world. ~D.

 

Reading books can be as sublime as kayaking in the Amazon observing the pristine forests. 
Being positive can at times be like paddling upstream against the current of critical opinion.

Many people write me and say my reviews are ďseasoned with loveĒ because they are so positive. 
I love reading and mostly refuse to read anything I dislike. Five stars means I liked the book and 
I can recommend it to you. If a book completely impressed me, my review will reflect that attitude. 
Iíve been known to give some books 100 stars.

I read your review of The Metabolic Plan on Amazon. Checked out your website and I've impressed with what you do! It's amazing. :) I worked through your website and found your work to be very positive. Take Care and Be Blessed.  ~J.



My Review Rating Scale

5 Stars Ė I think you would enjoy this CD, DVD or book. I loved it! That doesnít mean 
I agreed with everything in the movie or book. I look at the overall message.

4 Stars Ė This was still an enjoyable book or movie, but it fell just short of the five-star rating.

3 Stars Ė Still entertaining and you might enjoy this book. Sometimes this will be a critical review.

2 Stars Ė May not be worth your time and I wonít spend time writing a review.

1 Star Ė If a book or movie is a one-star item I don't review it.

 

In general, I see better results from love and since my life seems to be about finding 
a way around rejection, I understand the heart of a writer. If a door closes, 
Iíll find a window and then Iíll enjoy the view.

I actually do sometimes get more negatives from a more positive review when it is sitting 
amongst many negative reviews, so votes are never a factor.

If people have a strong dislike for a product, they will at times just give you a negative 
because they disagree with your view. We all notice the trends.

I donít consider a critical analysis of a book to be a negative review. I have written reviews 
filled with critical analysis even if people say I write mostly positive reviews.

I find that when I review books I donít love, I become frustrated. Then I start to look for 
one book to satisfy my all-encompassing urge for an escape into the pages of a book that feeds my soul.

The problem is, few books really capture me. I am on an eternal quest for memorable books.

A few books become caring friends who hold silent conversations with your soul. 
There are books that will change your life after the first page and books who will 
hunt you down and throw themselves at you, even from a store shelf.

While surfing around at Amazon, books have a real advantage. 
They just arrange themselves according to your personal tastes. 

I canít tell you how many times Iíve found a book that was looking for me.

 


 


Scanning the Horizon

 

It always gives me a shiver when I see a cat seeing
what I can't see. ~
Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)


All good and true book-lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed...No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over.

~Eugene Field, Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac (1896) 

 

In the past few years Iíve spent a large amount of time reading in bed, my favorite place to read. At times I like to imagine Iím reading in an exotic location or reading in a forest that is a dark silhouette against a midnight sky decorated with stars.

Occasionally I print off a copy of my about-you-area/profile at Amazon. I donít think I found out about rank until I had written hundreds of reviews.

Since I never kept detailed records for the early years, I am reluctant to say how long it took to reach the top ten. The precise moment evades my memory. I remember seeing rank 9 and then realizing something had happened.

Frankly, I was having so much fun reviewing I must have suddenly hit the top ten in 2001. It is amusing to me that I went someplace I didnít even know you could go. When I hit rank 3 one of the reviewers returned and I ended up as rank 4.

The totals on the wish lists look a bit strange, but honestly I tended to erase things from the wish list as soon as I purchased them for myself or I got bored and had fun erasing things I no longer really desired (lots of impulsive additions for sure). I use my wish list as a ďto buy one day listĒ and will often move things to my shopping cart. At one point I erased an entire wish list and turned them into tags. 

There were a few days when I erased quite a few reviews because I felt they no longer represented how I felt about the world.

At one point, I decided I didnít like everyone knowing what I had purchased, but soon got over this and unveiled most of my purchases.

There are reviewers who keep better track of me than I keep track of myself and the reason this list is not a comprehensive one is because I was too busy reading and it is at least a good excuse.

 

Here are some interesting numbers, numbers were accurate
at time of recording but a lot changes on Amazon including
our vote totals, number of reviews...etc. We are not sure
why, but in November 2006, I lost about half my votes and I was
not the only one to experience lost votes. So that explains
some of the numbers. At other times, I deleted reviews,
lists, rearranged items and organized wish list items
into tags. So much has changed since 2000! Here
is a record of the numbers recorded throughout
my experience:  

2000

4/3/2000

Reviews Written: 1

 

2001

6/20/2001

Reviews Written: 580

   

 

10/5/2001

Rank: 9
Reviews Written: 707
(4816 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 74
Wish List: 719 items
Listmania Lists: 2

2002

1/9/2002

Rank: 5
Reviews Written: 844
(6044 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 74
Wish List: 924 items
Listmania Lists: 2

 

1/23/2002

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 864
(6226 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 77
Wish List: 936 items
Listmania Lists: 2

 

6/10/2002

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 968
(7812 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 76
Wish List: 998 items
Listmania Lists: 2  

 

8/21/2002

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 1173
(8456 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 84
Wish List: 1000 items
Listmania Lists: 2

 

 

2003

2/4/2003

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 1364
(10088 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 88
Wish List: 808
Listmania Lists: 51

2/17/2003

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 1393
(10213 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 88
Wish List: 808
Listmania Lists: 80


4/5/2003

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 1444
(10604 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 96
Wish List: 854 items
Listmania Lists: 158

 

 

8/13/2003

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1563
(11744 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 106
Wish List: 958 items
Listmania Lists: 392

 

9/16/2003

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1509
(12035 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 109
Wish List: 998 items
Listmania Lists: 392

 

 

 

2004

1/18/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1622
(13524 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 124
Wish List: 1059 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 4.0)

1/27/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1711
(13754 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 124
Wish List: 1069 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 4.0)

2/23//2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2007
(14118 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 11
Wish List: 993 items
Listmania lists: 533
(Rating: 4.0)  

 

3/15/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1830
(14409 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 11
Wish List: 995 items
Listmania lists: 533
(Rating: 4.0)  

5/9/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 1896
(15027 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 11
Wish List: 993 items
Listmania lists: 533
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

8/16/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2248
(14118 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 10
Wish List: 175 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

2005

1/14/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2552
(18984 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 185
Images: (1 published) 
Wish List: 463 items
Listmania Lists: 534
(Rating: 3.5)  


1/30/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2588
(19395 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 202
Wish List: 310 items
Listmania Lists: 534
(Rating: 3.5)  


2/10/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2611
(19704 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 203
Wish List: 323 items
Listmania Lists: 534
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

3/2/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2631
(20220 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 224
Images Published: 2
Wish List: 350 items
Listmania Lists: 547
(Rating: 3.5)

 

5/1/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2728
(21329 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 250
Images Published: 3
Wish List: 455 items
Listmania Lists: 547
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

6/20//2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2809
(22229 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 275
Images Published: 3
Wish List: 663 items
Listmania Lists: 547
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

8/14/2005

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 3009
(23452 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 300
Images Published: 7
Wish List: 947 items
Listmania Lists: 547
(Rating: 3.5)

 

   

2008

Somehow Amazon changed
things and everyone's rank
changed. The helpful votes were 
also taken away - the ones
given by "fan" voters. I also
deleted some reviews. 

10/26/2008

Rank: 3
Reviews Written: 3904
(32,075 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 43 items
Listmania Lists: 5
So You'd Like To...Guides: 7
Customer Images: 31 published

TAGS: 8121 products tagged

Something new appeared. On our
about-you-area page this is now
what you can read: 

"Viewed 13,060 times in 
the last thirty days." 

 

2009

7/14/2009

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 3857
(33,090 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 18 items
Listmania Lists: 5
So You'd Like To...Guides: 8
Customer Images: 35 published

TAGS: 8078 products tagged

"Viewed 951 times in 
the last thirty days."

The reason there are less reviews almost a year later: I cleaned up my reviews and deleted a lot of dead reviews. Those are the ones that said unavailable. Mostly beauty product reviews. Sellers seem famous for moving product pages. 

I tagged all the books I've reviewed and the total came to 1635.

 

7/20/2009

Rank: 5
Reviews Written: 3705
(32,763 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 18 items
Listmania Lists: 5
So You'd Like To...Guides: 8
Customer Images: 35 published

TAGS: 8100 products tagged

"Viewed 1280 times in 
the last thirty days."

The price of deleting hundreds
of unavailable reviews was a drop
in rank from 4 to 5. It seems when
you delete a review you also delete
the votes.

 

 

9/9/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2332
(16933 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 10
Wish List: 296 items
Listmania Lists: 533  

 

10/7/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2446
(17368 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 10
Wish List: 381 items
Listmania Lists: 533  
(Rating: 3.5)



10/15/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2473
(17477 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 109
Wish List: 391 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 3.5)  

11/2/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2560
(17729 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 109
Wish List: 425 items
Listmania Lists: 533  

11/27/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2404
(18138 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 161
Images: (1 Published) 
Wish List: 418 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 3.5)  

 

12/26/2004

Rank: 4
Reviews Written: 2543
(18637 helpful votes)
Shared Purchases: 174
Images: (1 Published) 
Wish List: 440 items
Listmania Lists: 533
(Rating: 3.5)  


2006

11/11/2006

Rank: 5
Reviews Written: 3320
(14719 helpful votes) - votes disappeared on many reviewers pages - strange but true
Shared Purchases: This feature now only displays up to 12 products automatically
Wish List: 30 Items
Listmania Lists: 1
(174 views)
So You'd Like To...Guides: 7
(1216 views)
Customer Images: 32 published

TAGS: 222 categories, 7006 products tagged

(I transferred everything on my wish list and made it a tag so I could find items more easily when I wanted to purchase things.) 

11/11/2006

Notes:

"I seemed to have lost about 9,000 votes in the last two days. Has this happened to you? Do you know anything about it?" ~ D. 

 

2007

4/15/2007

Rank: 5
Reviews Written: 3957
(39030 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 309 items
Recent Purchases: This feature now only displays up to 12 products automatically
Latest Activity: Items we review are now listed at the top of the page.
Listmania Lists: 4
(3114 views)
So You'd Like To...Guides: 7
(4112 views)
Customer Images: 34 published

TAGS: 291 categories, 9454 products tagged

 

Note: 

With so much to review, I rarely left the house from Nov 2006 - Feb 2007. With only about 125 books left to review I finally felt free enough to leave the house and read more casually in April. 


5/30/2007

Rank: 5
Reviews Written: 4003
(40,063 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 317 items
Listmania Lists: 5
(3241 views)
So You'd Like To...Guides: 7
(4274 views)
Customer Images: 34 published

TAGS: 302 categories, 9441 products tagged

 


2010

Amazon changed the ranking system
and I started to drop in rank even
though I was posting about the same
amount of reviews. The new system
rewards usefulness to the customer
and seems fair. Now you can get 
into the top 10 with about 250 
reviews if you are a very helpful
reviewer.  

1/6/2010

Rank: 9 in New Review Rank, Rank 6 in Classic Review Rank
Reviews Written: 3744
(34,730 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 17 items
Listmania Lists: 5
So You'd Like To...Guides: 8
Customer Images: 35 published

TAGS: 7776 products tagged

"Viewed 1,923 times in 
the last thirty days."

Total Books Reviewed: 1719

2011

Amazon dropped the classic ranking
system so many people lost their
high ranking. I lost my top-ten badge
but was given a Hall of Fame Badge
which is given to those who made it
to the top ten in the new and classic
ranking systems. 

12/11/2011

Rank: 21
Reviews Written: 4445
(41,729 helpful votes) -
Wishlist: 12 items
Listmania Lists: 6
So You'd Like To Guides: 5
Customer Images: 35 published

TAGS: 8588 products tagged

Total Books Reviewed: 2066

 

2/27/2013

Rank: 38
Reviews Written: 5,056
(47,443 helpful votes)
No Wishlist
Listmania:
6
So You'd Like to Guides: 5
Customer Images: 37

 

 

 

 

Yes I was terrified!

Feeding a tiger cub his bottle at the fair.
This made my day because I adore cats!  

 


The Jaguar Pounces Playfully

 

 

Human beings are drawn to cats because they are all we are notóself-contained, 
elegant in everything they do, relaxed, assured, glad of company, 
yet still possessing secret lives. ~Pam Brown

 

 

   

I would love to hear a bit more from you on how and why Amazon book reviewers have risen from an underground community to a whole new vigorous collective voice on a scene that has been dominated by professional book critics. ~R. 

 

Wall Street Journal

10/21/2002

 

This was my first real publicity ever. I am still stunned by the entire experience. This was the first time I talked to a reporter and the first time I had to know what I was talking about.

Fortunately, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so I was natural, laughed through the interview and basically was not nervous. When I realized how much can be printed and how many things I could say wrong, I was more reluctant about interviews. Although when the next reporter called, I was quite happy to talk to her. 

Comments: 

I am so pleased. I've actually told your story at a few of my conferences (including one to 150 librarians) and used your best quote in the Wall Street Journal as an example. It's burned in my brain: "It's almost an intoxication with words." ~M. 

Thanks for the gorgeous review! You made the book look irresistible. Also love the WSJ article about you. ~D. 

 

Amazon Forum in Seattle

March 29, 2004

 

A few reviewers were invited to talk to some of the top employees at Amazon. They wanted us all to participate in a forum because they valued our reviews, listmania lists and discussion board posts. They wanted our feedback and ideas. We were all very honored and pleased to have been invited.

During the day, the humorous part of the meetings was when Amazon employees would bring up a topic of interest; all the reviewers had so many creative ideas they would take over the forum for minutes at a time. No one was shy about individual opinions and everyone seemed to have a special cause or concern. I felt that our ideas were a reflection of the overall Amazon community and everyone had many creative ideas for future site features.

The Amazon building/castle and employees really did impress me. I had more than a few thoughts about wanting to work in a building with huge windows overlooking downtown Seattle. The professionalism of the Amazon reviewers at the conference also made me realize how dedicated everyone was and how much life experience they draw on to write their reviews.

Jeff Bezos spoke to us and thanked us for attending the forum. I could not believe we were all in the same room with Jeff. It was truly a momentous occasion.

 

 

Article appears in the L.A. Times

March 24, 2004

 

Photographer for LA Times arrives to take my picture. I frantically redecorated my office the night before. I also had to buy all new bedding since my office and bedroom is in one room. I was not sure what type of photograph would be needed but did suggest that because I read a lot of books in bed, I should have a photograph taken reading books in bed.

That picture actually did appear in the newspaper. I kept thinking: ďHelp, Hollywood is going to see my bedroom!Ē

The photographer had me pile books up on the desk. I had 200 books on my shelves and some of the books even had some publicity after people noticed them in the photograph. I was sitting up on my desk; afraid Iíd knock all the books over onto the floor. It almost happened a few times when we tried to take photograph with the cat. She was none too pleased about this new adventure.

While stacking books for the picture, I promptly ruined my freshly painted nails and had to go fix them. I changed outfits at least four times because I could not decide what to wear.

I had no idea the article had appeared, so imagine my delight when people started to send me e-mails telling me that I had a huge picture in the Calendar section.

Note from reader:

The article is a cover story in Calendar (pretty prestigious) and your photo is huge actually, with you leaning on two tall stacks of books, somewhat bathed in blue light. ~ J.

 

Note from a forum:

Congratulations to The Rebecca Review Ö& Amazon for making great strides in how the public & professionals view these reviews. First the prestigious Wall Street Journal Article a couple of years ago. Now the LA TimesÖ

 

Amazon Reviewers are
 Featured in Forrester Magazine

July 2005

 


Other Interviews:

I was interviewed by Money Magazine and was asked to do an interview for a Brazilian magazine. A professor wanted to do a survey and many of us did fill out an online form about reviewing. My first online interview: An Interview by Yen

Writer Requests for Interviews: 

I'm a writer/editor in the UK. I'm putting together a feature for a magazine you can find the online
and was hoping you could contribute. In the feature I'd like to examine the importance of the 'social web.' 

As you're one of the top reviewers on Amazon, you'd make a great interviewee for this feature
(I'd like to find out what motivates you, and what kind of satisfaction you get out of reviewing on Amazon).

Please get back to me if this is something you would be happy contributing to?

Thanks for your time,

D.


Amazon Reviewers Featured on 
Evening Magazine, King 5 TV

July 31, 2006 - Interview at my home...
November 1, 2006 - Interview on TV

 

VIEW VIDEO


This is an interview with Jim Dever, a famous reporter
 from King-TV. The interview is at my home so you can see
my office, bookshelves, Kitten Meesa, products I review
and other fun items. The focus is on Amazon Reviewers. 

 

"Hey there, I saw you on Evening Magazine a couple of nights ago. 
How have you been? Imagine how surprising it was to see you on TV. 
You looked great...often wonder how you're doing
." ~M. 

 

Amazon Reviewers Featured "again" on 
Evening Magazine, King 5 TV


September 8, 2008 - Interview on TV

 

 

Questions & Answers  

Most of the main questions people have asked
me in e-mail since I've been online reviewing...


 

Who are you?

I review
therefore I am

I am a positive lifestyle reviewer with an interest in reviewing books, movies and music that promotes positive change in the world. I am convinced that the world can be changed through information and action, so I try to promote items that will help to bring about positive change. 

Reviewing is my lifestyle, I live to review!

 

 

What is your age?

I'm 45.

 

Location?

The World of Amazon!

 

Do you have children?

No but I have four cats.

 

What is your educational background?

I have a masterís degree in Educational Administration (1992).

 

Have you ever won any awards for your writing?

In July 1999 I was selected as a winner in the Better Homes and Gardens Standouts Recipe Contest and in August 2000, my first poem appeared in Tides of Memory. As far as current rewards go, I can't think of a better reward than a comment from an author about how much they enjoyed a review or a note from a movie producer or scriptwriter saying you understood their work. 

  

 

How do authors and publishers find out about you? 

Many people find my reviews at Amazon and at other sites. One author wrote me back after I asked the same question:

 

I obtained your name through John Kremer's BookMarketingUpdate.com.

 

Most authors and publishers find out about me when they find my reviews. So the more I review
the most requests I get to review more. 

 

When did you launch SeasonedwithLove.com? 

5/2/2000

 

 

Have you published your work?

I have published some photography. OregoN Fruit featured one of my recipes in 
their Holiday Journal. My online cookbook is "Seasoned with Love." I finally
did publish my cookbook through Iuniverse.com. I am also the author of two
Kindle books: Moonflower Dreams and What To Do When Feeling Blue. 

 

Have you written reviews professionally? 

No, but I have been asked to write reviews for publishers and authors. Magazine editors have asked if they could publish my reviews in their magazine. The reviewing scene is no longer dominated by professional book critics. I've been asked to provide blurbs for the back cover of books and two were recently published.

I would be very grateful for your review. It would also be great if I could be allowed to insert some of our comments on the back of the book cover. ~R. 

We really liked the review of Tazo'sģ "Lotus Decaffeinated Tea" you
posted on Amazon.  If it's alright with you, we'd like to
include it in the Food reviews section of our upcoming website. 
~http://the21review.com

 

When did your first blurb appear?

My first blurb appeared on the back cover of Hearts and Minds by Thomas David Kehoe. 

 

What are your reviews to you? 

Reviews are my fascination with life on display. Reviewing adds a sense of mystery to my daily existence. I have an uncanny ability to intensely focus on projects for hours at a time. Reviewing gives me an outlet for my love of intense reading sessions. I escape into books. 

 

How do you have time to review so many items? 

We currently don't have our TV hooked up to cable, so we have plenty 
of evenings to read. I also make reading a priority. I like reading books late at night. 

 

Why did you start reviewing at Amazon?

I have been reviewing since April 3, 2000. After watching an Oprah show sometime in 2000, I became completely fascinated with the idea of actually telling people what they wanted to know about a book by Gary Zukav.

He was promoting his book The Seat of the Soul and I decided I wanted to read it. I started to review cookbooks and self-help selections on April 3, 2000.

 

Do You Review for Other Websites? 

My reviews often appear spontaneously at other sites due to the Amazon associates program where sites list books and link them in to the Amazon site. 

 

What inspired you to start reading?

And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air. Lucy felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well... she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe and even catch a glimpse of the empty room from which she had set out... "I can always get back if anything goes wrong," thought Lucy. She began to walk forward...

~The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

 

This book was the doorway to my love of reading at a very early age. Now I see that reading is a bit like that wardrobe. You enter a new world through the first page of a book in a similar way to how Lucy enters a world of imagination through the wardrobe.

I was very young when a teacher in Africa started reading this book to the class of 2nd graders, I think that was when the fire flickered just slightly. Before this, my father had been reading me everything from C. S. Lewis to Alice in Wonderland.

I remember the rest of the class becoming frightened by something in the book and they all wanted the teacher to stop reading. I believe I was the only one who raised my hand to have her continue. I was seriously disappointed and much later figured out I would have to go to the library and discover the rest of the book myself.

That was when it started, as plain as day.

You know, my father read me adult books at age 5-10. My paternal grandmother gave me Alice in Wonderland on my seventh birthday. Fortunately, I still couldn't really read it that well, so my dad had to read it. He did sing "beautiful soup" rather well.

 

Why do you review?

Reviewing at Amazon is my main hobby besides cooking, searching the world for beautiful movies, knitting, refinishing wood furniture and exercising. I love playing with words and ideas. I like organizing my thoughts on various books and movies. There are so many to find and so little time in life to spend on such pleasures.

It is my theory that when you need a book, that book will find you.

I hope by reviewing, I can help some books find readers.  

 

Which review has the most votes?

I recently noticed that "Introvert Advantage" has over 350 votes.


What type of items do you review the most?

Poetry, Cookbooks, Exercise DVDs, Beauty Products and Self-Help books. 


What are the strangest things you have reviewed?

Tiramisu (a dessert)

What is your main motivation for reviewing?

I write reviews in my head about everything in my life, so Amazon gives me a natural outlet for analysis. I also love helping new authors who may not be able to get a review as easily as a famous author. I love this quote: 



The urge to write can come from anywhere- the desire to have a serious conversation with yourself, the need to sort out what seems like an overwhelming number of tasks, the urge to capture the past or pin down a current insight, the impulse to record an event or perceptions of an event, or simply the desire to create a record of life's journey. 
~Rita D. Jacobs

Most haven't given me the time of day. You did, Rebecca, and so much more. Thank you. ~S. 



My motivation for reviewing is that I love to read and have the need to review every book I read. It just doesnít seem as much fun to only read a book. The process of analyzing a book is truly exciting. I also like learning about new things, like how to make croissants. Reviewing has been more of an education for me than college. I can follow my true interests. 

One of my main interests within my motivation for reviewing is to find books that can change a life in a positive way. I am always looking for books of beauty. 

I truly love promoting books I love. 

According to Jason Epstein, former Random House Editorial Director and Founder of New York Review of Books, "Book reviews are important not simply for their promotional value...they contribute to that ongoing, open-ended Socratic dialogue that is our culture." 

He also said: "I don't think anything can replace a serious book review for promoting a book." 


Originally my intention was to review everything in my house. Now my main focus seems to be on reviewing
for new authors. Publishers also send me books by new authors. Reviewing is really my creative outlet, 
my main hobby and it makes me happy. 

People gravitate to what gives them pleasure and reading is one of my main sources of intellectual
and emotional pleasure. I think of reviewing as a lifestyle choice, or a way of living. Reviewing adds
an additional element of pleasure to purchases and it is an endless source of creative exploration. 

The truth is, I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and have been known to be especially
curious. My father called me "question box" as a child.

What I probably like most about reviewing for authors is the sense of connection and community
reviewing creates. I learn a lot about life by talking to authors, publishers and reviewers. It is
very encouraging to know that my writing can make someone's day and can encourage
people to read a new book that will improve their life. Writing is truly about connection and
books can weave themselves into your heart. 

 

Does your family understand your reviewing? 

When family members have seen articles in the Newspaper they say: "That doesn't 
sound like you." It is quite possible that complexity is born online when you are an introvert. People don't recognize me in real life since they see me as an introvert. I am definitely an introvert and my world is enlivened by words. 

 

Do you buy books to review? 

Yes. I also have a soft spot in my heart for lonely little library books when they go on sale. One time I found 15 items for $24. I also found most of the copies of the Oprah magazine and I keep going back to get more copies. Currently I mostly read
free Kindle book but I also buy most of my books from Amazon. 

 

What do you love?

Finding amazing books. I love how books find you when you need them most. 

As a creature of comfort I can think of nothing better than snuggling into bed for a winter of reading, tea drinking and hours of delving into the minds of many authors.

 

Why write these for Amazon rather than, say, start up a blog?  Do you read reviews by professional reviewers? Do you do research for your reviews?

I love the sheer honesty presented in the Amazon reviews. Professional reviews are also fun to read and are often inspirational.

I enjoy reading living reviews, with the voice of the author almost swimming through the river of the reviewerís thoughts. Those types of reviews inspire me Ė the ones that are alive. They send me hunting for more information.

Reviewing is only a starting point for an entire world of information. Doing research to write a review, connecting the dots, it is all a process that brings pleasure to the mind and satisfaction to the soul.

We must all write the types of reviews we prefer to read. I for one enjoy hearing about peopleís lives, why they enjoyed the book, how it changed their life and why they were entranced. Reviewers write to me and say they enjoy that aspect as well. 

The beauty of each review is that even though they may say something similar about the books, each person has a unique take on the subject.

To me, the person writing the review can at times make the whole reading experience more enjoyable and life enhancing. To know you share a love of a certain author, painter or musician is almost intoxicating at times. Especially when you can find someone who has so many interests you can relate to.

I relate best to reviewers who look for beauty in art, in the art of writing, the art of movie making and in the art of composing music.

Books come alive at Amazon and I love finding reviews that inspire me to go read additional reviews by the same reviewer.

Mostly I started posting reviews at Amazon because of an intense desire to help others see why certain selections were so wonderful. That might explain all the five star reviews. I think that when I post my reviews at Amazon, more readers have access to the information. I do also post reviews at my website.

I also have enjoyed reading reviews by Elvis Mitchell at The New York Times and we agreed on the Under the Tuscan Sun movie. I found the reviews at Amazon also expressed many of my own views.

Once you have read the lyrical account of Frances Mayes story in her book, you can never think of life in the same way. I can highly recommend her book. I did enjoy the comments Diane Lane made about how bad reviews should be forgotten, although I canít say authors ever forget them.  

I do also have a blog! 

Do you keep all the books you review?

I keep a few books that I want to read again, but mostly I donate my books to goodwill or the library so they can be passed on
to new readers. I normally keep around 100 books at all times. Some reviewers have over 6,000 books, or so I've heard! 

 

Do people find your reviews reliable? 

 

This customer says it best: 

"Bravo! Wonderful and helpful review. Before I read this review, I was thinking about ordering this item. 
Moreover, because I see that Rebecca has given a review (and all of her Amazon reviews are
reliable), I was so impressed by her exceptional review. Each time she gives a review, she not
only explains about the product, moreover, how it has helped her and she also suggests how one can
use the item the most effective manner. I ended up buying this item as well as 2 other Carol Myss's books
after I read this great review." ~ Daisy 

 

Traveling to France with my college friend Terri in 1996
She taught me to make delicious blueberry muffins when
we would visit her parents at their beach home.

 

What type of reviews do you enjoy?

I am a positive lifestyle reviewer with an interest in reviewing books, DVDs and CDs that encourage positive change in the world. I am convinced the world can be changed through information and action, so I try to promote items that will help to bring about this positive change.

Authors are writing souls and their books are living representations of soul expression. I think most authors have a desire to be understood and appreciated.

When you review for an author, you connect on a meaningful level. Authors want to be heard and they sometimes write and say: ďYou really got it!Ē

 

I came across one of your reviews tonight completely by accident and was astounded at the depth and lengths you went to get inside the book you reviewed. ~Y. 

Most of the reviews that I see are either very positive or very negative. There are very few reviews that label a product as simply okay or adequate. This is probably due to the fact that only people that have extremely positive or extremely negative experiences with a particular product will actually take the time to post. ~D.

What is your idea of a good review?

1. A Description of Content Ė Just enough to whet the reading appetite and yet the information doesnít ruin the work for others who have not read the book or viewed the movie.

2. A Description of Delight or Dissatisfaction or maybe even Mediocrity Ė I want to know if a work changed a life, moved someone to tears or brought a smile to their face.

3. Personal Experience Ė Information that makes me want to purchase an item so it will enhance my life. Iíll also buy items just to see how bad they could possibly be.

You can really say that once you have watched a movie, read reviews on the movie and written a review of the movie, that it has become a part of you. There are elements you will draw from the entire experience that will change you. What you read and view might be who you are becoming.

 

Do you collect articles about reviewing? 

New Article from the Washington Post by Mike Musgrove

Listen to Peter Harris' Interview with the BBC - He's a top reviewer #1 in the UK

www.celestialgraphics.com/articles_communities2.html

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,53488,00.html

http://hostit1.connectria.com/twduff/home.nsf/plinks/TDUF-5V8JU8

http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/23/perlstein-r.html

http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020080.php

http://www.rediff.com/search/2002/nov/13amazon.htm

http://www.epinions.com/content_1052090500

http://shorewalker.com/section1/recognition_race.html

http://www.budgeburgess.com/LCAmazon.html - A reviewers experience in Scotland.
He also provides advice on writing and has unique views on why people write reviews. 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/cm/top-reviewers-list/-/1 - Reviewers lists at Amazon

http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/2005/07/22/why-do-people-post-reviews-on-amazon/ - An
author's blog about reviewing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com - Site description at Wikipedia

http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3573791 - Amazon Connect - Author Blogs, wiki
pages and uploading pictures. 

http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/01/09/amazon-offers-author-blogs/ - Author Blogs

http://rebeccasreads.com/ - People often send books to me that they intend to send
to a fellow reviewer. Sometimes I've had packages of the same book sent to me
and to her, but to my address. 

http://www.sarahweinman.com/confessions/2005/03/who_should_revi.html  - Interesting
comments about who should review books...

http://www.infotoday.com/online/mar04/banks.shtml - See inside the book features

http://www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm  - blog about amazon reviews

"If your book has an average sales rank of 10,000, you're currently selling around 30 copies a week. If your book has an average sales rank of 50,000, you're selling about 11 copies a week, and at 100,000, you're selling just under a copy a day." ~ Morris Rosenthal

http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/bookreviewing.htm - the serious and the silly

http://collectedmiscellany.com/archives/000735.php - Tons of links to book/author/writing blogs

http://www.metaforix.info/books - Amazon.com's new bookerati article from April 04, 2004 is
well worth reading for all the tidbits about reviewing. 

http://www.chinmusicpress.com/blog/archives/2004/12/amazons_rankings_rollercoaster.html - A 
publisher watches ranking

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5330445 - How NPR affects
book and music ranking at Amazon

http://www.intuitive.com/blog/translating_amazon_ranking_into_sales.html - A chart
of sales ranking and books sold

http://www.iwebtool.com/articles/10681_amazon_what_does_the_
amazon_sales_rank_mean_and_is_it_significant.html
- More info on book ranking

http://www.webpronews.com/expertarticles/expertarticles/wpn-
62-20060615NavigatingtheAmazonSalesRanking.html
- authors will enjoy this

http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/30/books-publishing-internet-tech-media_cx_mm_mn_books06_1201book_land.html

http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/30/donald-mitchell-amazon-tech-media_cz_hc_books06_1201amazon.html

 

Find a new article? Send me a note and I'll put up links for one and all...

 

Which Review is Your most Popular Product Review? 

A Paraffin Bath. The last I noticed,  it had over 175 votes. It has been at Amazon since
November 4, 2000.  

 

When do you write your best reviews?

Often very late at night or first thing in the morning. 

 

Are there books you wonít review?

I try to stay away from books that have violent content, swearing and a negative impact. I have noticed a direct correlation between my moods and what I review. If I review a number of depressing books it can have an adverse effect on my moods. So, I tend to try to space out those types of books. 

How many books do you review a year? 

About 180 books a year.

Even the prestigious and prolific Sunday supplement of the New York Times can only cover about 10% of the books received. ~Dan Poynter

 

In Dan Poynter's books I read that the New York Review of Books reviews over 400 books each year. The LA Times reviews about 2,100 a year. 

 

Why don't you review novels? 

It isn't that I don't review novels. I do review novels, but my tastes are very eclectic and
I seem to prefer finding novels on my own. Normally I have enough novels to keep
me busy and this is why I rarely accept novels for review. I do have a tag list filled
with novels I do want to read. I am currently not accepting novels. 

 

Is there ever a time when you would not review an item because so many other reviewers have already written about the item?

The other reviews donít prevent me from reviewing. In fact, often they inspire me to buy the movie or book and review it too.

Writing the review increases my enjoyment of the product. Why watch a movie if you are not going to review it? That is my thought anyway. There are rare occasions when I decide not to review an item, but that is normally ďafterĒ viewing a movie or reading a book.

I think more deeply about life in general because of the analytical nature reviewing encourages. If you write a review, you are sure to put a new spin on the information. So, you should go ahead and write your review if you feel you can add a new perspective.

Also, many times people will read your review because they are at your specific Amazon about-you-area/profile page. So, adding a review to your page brings awareness to the item. In that way it is important if you want to bring awareness to items or promote books.

If I love or dislike a movie, I might read through all of them at some point because I enjoy the reviewerís perspectives. I find it most educational and at time hilarious.

If you need a good laugh, Amazonís your place. Reviewers speak their mind and there are a few comedians who make a point of writing humorous reviews.

If I see a movie I dislike, I always look up the one-star reviews. It makes me feel better about all the time I spent watching the movie and it almost makes the movie worth watching. I enjoy reading critical analysis as much as the next person.

 

Do people ever wonder about your life when they read reviews?

Yes, I reviewed quite a number of books on divorce all in a row and people started writing and saying that they were worried about me. I was not getting a divorce, but I was focusing on a number of divorce books I had received in the mail from individual authors.

I will sometimes review in themes because then I am focusing on one topic and I can write faster. Reviewers who read my reviews wrote to ask me if I was OK and hoped I would make it through the difficult time. It was very caring, but now I try to space out books that might cause confusion or worry.

 

I still think that being able to review that many books consistently and being at the Amazon top ten reviewers club makes you larger than life! Please keep up the good work. ~J. 


Do publishers, publicity agents, authors and Literary agents contact you?

Yes Literary agents in New York will sometimes ask me to look out for unique self-published and small press books. Self-published authors also take my reviewing very seriously and I enjoy promoting self-published works. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many famous authors and well-established publishers view my work. I have extended an open invitation to authors and publishers to send me books. 


Iím a literary agent in New York and I have noticed your book reviews on Amazon. 
I just wanted to say hello, and to invite you to let me know if you ever come 
across any self-published or small-press-published books of superior quality. 
Iíd be very happy to hear from you, and keep up the great work. 
~Top Secret Agent ;)

I am sending you a mailing of some of the books that you listed and some new ones too. I will be sending you new releases as they become available. If you could just keep me informed as to when you do review them or send the review to me that would be wonderful. ~J. 

I admire your passion for things around you and your willingness to share this passion with others. I am writing to inquire if you would allow me, as an employee at a book publisher, to send you books that you might enjoy. As I am not the author of the books I send to you, this does put me in a slightly different position. However, most of the books I will likely send are from new authors or authors who have not made a name for themselves. If you are open to receiving a few books from us (or many, if you can handle it), please let me know which genres you prefer. Thank you for your time. ~T. 

I'd much appreciate it if you would review my recent book, which I've enclosed. Like thousands of other Amazon users, I've enjoyed your reviews and found them very helpful. ~R. 

We understand that you review books for Amazon. We do promotions for various publishers and authors, including for a number of cooking, parenting, self-help, nutrition, exercise and children's books. Let us know if any of these titles interest you, and where they should be sent. ~S. 

As an opinion leader in the book review community, I would like you to consider reviewing the following enclosed new titles for 2005. Our books are distributed by Baker & Taylor, Ingram Book Group, and New Leave Distributing and can be purchased on Amazon. ~V. 

I am the author of a new book of poetry. I would like to request a review of my new book and would be happy to provide you with a complimentary copy of the book should you accept. It is a self-published title on which I have worked tirelessly with professors from several universities. Consequently, I hope you will take a moment to visit my website for a synopsis of the book or contact me directly for any questions you may have. ~O. 

You are obviously respected in the reading community. I am writing to request that you read and possibly write a review for the upcoming _____ book. Would you be opposed to reading an advance galley, or do you need to wait for the actual book to be published? If you read the galley, we would be happy to send you an autographed copy of the hardcover when it is released. ~B. 

Whatís the most unique thing youíve reviewed?

Iím famous for reviewing ALTOIDS (Callard & Bowser The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Peppermints). Reviewers at the Amazon forum thought it was amusing and now I seem to be famous for reviewing a wide variety of products. Iíve reviewed air purifiers, flashlights, cooking essentials, lawn and garden items, shoes, beauty care items and even lingerie.

 

How many reviews do you write in a typical week?

I try to write a review every day now but sometimes I write two or three reviews in a day. 

 

How much time do you spend on your reviews?

I give each book/item as much time as needed to write a creative review. I spent months and months reading and reading The Metabolic Plan because it was highly complex in content.

While reading a book of poetry, I might spend a few hours at night and then write the review in one hour or less the next morning.

Novels seem to take me the longest and seem to be my least favorite book to review. I learn more from nonfiction selections, but if I find a good novel, I truly enjoy the experience and find it memorable. 

It is rare for me to spend more than 6 hours reading a book, although I have been known to stay up all night to finish a book I started in the evening. Normally, I can read a book in about 3Ė4 hours or less and write a review in 15 minutes to 1 hour.

There have been rare occasions when a tiny book of quotes took an hour to read and review.

Childrenís books also take about 1Ė2 hours depending on the content and how much time I spend writing the review. Normally I sit at the computer and write for a few hours a day when Iím writing the reviews. Otherwise, Iím reading, editing or researching topics. I also work on my website almost daily.


Examples: 

On April 30, 2005 I read and reviewed Touched with Fire in 4 hours. The book was 260 pages. It took 30 minutes to type and post the review. 

   

How do you actually write the review?

My reviews tend to reflect the beauty I see in a work. So, I'm almost only as inspired as the author was when writing the book. The creativity flows through me and fuels my own creativity. As I read, phrases and comments magically appear in my mind. 

Normally I start to read a book and the review appears in a series of random sentences. I then organize these puzzle pieces and include an overview and additional information. Writing a review is similar to putting a puzzle together or writing a recipe. I like to summarize the main concepts, add a dash of interest and pour in a cup of positive reinforcement. If I am not enjoying a book, I wonít make the review recipe. 

 

Do you get a lot of books/CDs/other products sent to you for review? Do you actively solicit these or do companies come to you?

I have extended an open invitation to authors and publishers to send me books. I get more books from individual authors than from publishers. Authors seem to ask me to review selections almost daily.

I do occasionally ask for a book and have had good success obtaining a few selections I wanted to read and promote. I did ask a computer company if I could review one of their computers but have not heard from them yet. 

Mostly authors and publishers find my reviews and send me items because they see that my reviews are detailed. Here is a letter sent to me after a website noticed my reviews: 

Rebecca: 

We would like to invite you to join our reviewing team. In return for the reviews 
(whether you liked the book or not), you get to read free books that authors send to 
us for review. We already know you write thoughtful analysis of books you read! 

This is the quality which brought me to you. Our writers are seeking just 
your kind of reviews! Please become part of our ever growing reviewing 
community. I look forward to your reply. 


~N. 

 

How do you organize your books?

I organize my books into ďreviewedĒ and ďto review.Ē I do try to keep all my cookbooks and health books in one location.

 

Do you ever return books?

Yes, although I seem to review 99% of all the items I receive.

 

Reasons for Returning Books:

Badly damaged books Ė This can be a real problem and one time a book arrived during the winter and looked like it had fallen in a puddle.

Books with writing on the outer edges of the pages Ė highly distracting (they call it book marking).

Unedited Manuscripts ĖAuthors sometimes ask me for my advice. I have refused to give reviews for unpublished books on most occasions although I do give a few blurbs. Reading unpublished books seems more like editing to me. 

Books that have been published before being edited. (I counted 31 mistakes in one book! How could I review the book?)

POD books and self-published books that were hurriedly printed without the necessary editing process.

Books that are not listed on Amazon. I rarely review anything that is not listed at Amazon.

Books I didnít have a chance to refuse and were sent to me almost immediately before I had time to answer a request. Mostly books that did not fit into topics listed in my about-you-area. This was when I had a public address. 

 

Whatís the biggest thing driving you to write reviews? Is it the opportunity to write and share your opinions? Or do you just enjoy helping people make smart purchasing decisions? Finding others who share your interests and participating in a community? Promoting yourself? Getting positive feedback and working your way up the Top Reviewer lists?


With the rise in self-publishing, more reviewers are needed to keep up with the demand for analysis of new books flooding the market. The Internet has given everyone a voice and the Amazon fish bowl has become an ocean of information for the reader.

Mostly, I started reviewing because of an intense desire to help readers see why certain selections were so wonderful.



Promoting Myself?

My current theory about creating your dreams is: "Decide to be the person you want to become and then create yourself through a process of continuous action." 

I have been trying to seek a balance between my responsibility to God and my responsibility to myself, or my own experience. I see reviewing more as promoting what I love and what will heal. 

While my experience may become intertwined with thoughts about a book, this is only to show how much the item changed my life or how it has affected my life in a positive way. My main goal is to promote positive change and to share what I love. 

I think I'm actually promoting authors more than my own thoughts or writing although the side effect is that at times authors do promote my reviewing. This reviewer says it best: 

I am impressed with your writing and patience when it comes to your Amazon reviews. When something really moves me, book or film or whatever it may be, I feel the need to share it on Amazon so others may also share in the experience. ~L. 

Amazon reviewers are providing an amazing free service to authors. The reviews are all over the web once they post at Amazon due to the Amazon affiliate program. People can display the reviews at other sites. With the rise in self-publishing, more reviewers are needed to keep up with the demand for analysis and book promotion. 


Comments from Fellow Reviewers: 

I like to hit the largest audience I possibly can and Amazon is the largest site. ~Harriet Klausner, in an interview


Working My Way to the Top Reviewerís Lists?

I believe in reviewing as a lifestyle so it is just part of my life. I never really thought about rank and I still think the quality of reviews is more important than rank. Reviewers seem to want to be part of a book club experience. Reviews are often a display of genuine appreciation and customer loyalty. Customers value the reviews and appreciate the instant access to information about items they want to purchase.

I have seen your reviews and want to commend you on the wonderful service you are bringing to the many authors who truly need what you are contributing.  I also write
reviews (when I can spare the time) for other authors in my genre, because I believe
in spreading light and cooperation. I don't believe in competition as that does nothing to uplift humanity. Keep up your wonderful work, it is so needed! ~B. 

 

Helping People make smart purchasing decisions?


Letters from readers: 

Dear Rebecca: 

I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy reading your reviews on Amazon. I specifically look for them when I am considering an item for purchase. I find your reviews to be clear and concise with an honest and personal touch that is distinctively your own personal style. Keep up the great job you are doing at keeping us all very well informed indeed. 

Warm Regards, 

V.


You seem to have read many books in your life and it would be nice if I could benefit from that. Could you be so kind to tell me the top10 (or top5 if you don't have much time) books you would advice me to quench my everlasting thirst form more knowledge? Are there books that had a great influence on your life? I was going got write that I am not so much interested in novels, but it seems you are not either, so I guess it is not necessary to ask for focusing on nonfiction. If you think it is to difficult to make such a list due to the number of books you read or if you are just not in the mood for it or busy, it is of course no problem.

T. 



Customers do seem to appreciate the detailed reviews. I have been enjoying the Gourmet Food Store and Kitchen Store because I love to cook. That meant, I started to review everything in my kitchen too! Amazon customers also enjoy reading my kitchen essentials reviews and have tried recipes I have included in the reviews. 

Customers write to tell me about items they purchased and how the recipe worked. At times they will also ask for additional information about a product before a purchase.

 

Do you actively participate in (or at least read) Amazonís discussion boards?


The discussion board I used to participate in the most is no longer available. Now I do post a few
comments at the new discussion boards.

Readers will often write for more information or express their appreciation for a review. Authors, publishers and readers write me daily from my site. I now have a main contact page.

Mostly I go to the forum when I want a question answered about a new site feature or when Amazon is making changes. The reviewers who participate in the discussion boards are very well informed and keep up with change by writing Amazon and then posting answers to pertinent questions.

 

Do you post your reviews at other sites?

I do post reviews at my own site: www.TheRebeccaReview.com.

Due to Amazon's associate program, my reviews are all over the web and have been featured at many sites. Newspapers have occasionally asked me if they could reprint a review. I have been asked to review professionally and authors do send me books that are not always listed at Amazon. I recently reviewed an item at my site that is not listed at Amazon and then placed a link to the authorís site. I encourage all authors to list their items at Amazon.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how seriously famous authors and well-established publishers view my work. Here is a recent comment: 



It's by far the best review I have gotten, and I feel as if you really seized the heart and soul of that book, the true essence, and you put it superbly in your own words, I can't thank you enough, if no one else reads it, it's enough for me that you read it - and that you cared enough and felt strongly enough to have written about it the way that you did. You are definitely the ideal reader. And your quick response was nothing short of amazing. If a book is written, and one person truly understands it, then it is a success. Well, you made that book a success, and I thank you for that. ~W. 

 

Reviews posted by authors/publishers/sellers at their sites: 

http://www.sharonboorstin.com/press/

http://www.poemhunter.com/billy-collins/books/poet-8221/

http://www.mayikissyoubook.com/amazonreview.html

http://www.loa-lawofattraction.com/rebeccareview.html

http://www.perfectlysaid.com/

 

Blurbs:

http://www.menfakeforeplay.com/mff.html


Book Promotion: 

http://editorials.arrivenet.com/entertainment/article.php/6691.html

Beauty Products: 

http://www.scienceblog.com/store/3-3760911-B0001Y6DX8-Burts_Bees_Head_To_Toe_Starter_Kit.html


Associates post our reviews at their sites too: 

http://www.brightsurf.com/item/0789489163/Sushi_Taste_and_Techniques.html

 

 

Why is this your favorite hobby?

I'm addicted to reviewing and have been for almost 13 years.  

 

Do you spend a lot of time monitoring your helpful votes and/or ranking? Do you think other reviewers are more (or less) competitive about their rankings than you?

I will occasionally print off a copy of my about-you-area/profile page.

The average votes per review can be enlightening. There are many reasons people vote for reviews and I think (last I checked) on average, I get about 9.5 votes per review.

This tells me that my reviews are helpful, but Iím not going to spend time monitoring individual votes. I focus on making each review the best it can be and I want my reviews to be useful to customers.

 

Competitive?

While I donít want to speculate on what other reviewers are thinking, I have read some of the discussions at the discussion boards. I also read a lot of reviews. I think of reviewers as being in one big Amazon reviewing family. So far I have not seen any extreme cases of competitiveness.

Iíve seen reviewers discuss competitiveness and it is mostly all in fun. Serious reviewers do take pride in the quality of their reviews and feel that high quality should be rewarded over quantity. This works itself out in the end because quality reviews do seem to attract more votes. Many reviewers can whip out reviews at lightening speed and provide unique perspectives.

I think success at Amazon seems to be directly proportionate to the passion you have for reviewing what you love. When you specialize, you tend to write very insightful reviews on a particular topic.

The only competition I'm really in is with myself. I have the daily challenge of meeting my own 
goals in regards to completing reviews for authors who request free reviews. That is my 
ultimate challenge. 

 

What are some of the responses from readers, authors and publishers?

People often say my reviews are ďseasoned with love.Ē That is cute because that is the title of my cookbook. Sometimes people complain that Iím too positive. I tend to appreciate beauty in life. I also tend to see positives in negative situations.

On the one hand, Iím extremely positive.

On the other hand, I can be highly critical of myself and blame that on being a perfectionist. Projects make me restless until I can complete them. Iím completely devoted to each project I undertake and work at it until it is completed. The problem is, Iím overly creative at times and have more ideas than I can handle or process.

One author sent me a Valentineís card and his cute words were:

 ďRead less of all books without my name on itÖĒ

 

Do famous people ever write you? 

One of the most interesting letters came from someone who worked on the Sleepless in Seattle movie. Ina Garten also sent me a letter thanking me for my review of her book and told me about her new book.

 

Does anything funny or unusual ever happen while you are reviewing? 

I did have to laugh when I ended up posting "Hell's Gate" by Susan Lancaster before Harriet and Don because normally they get to everything before me. 

I was reading a book when I looked up and saw Jeff Bezos on TV playing tennis. He was promoting the Star Palate cookbook. 


How are you using Tags at Amazon? (Amazon has taken away our ability to tag items, boo hoo!)

The ways I'm currently using Tags include

As Guides: To help people find items I've reviewed in categories, say books about
marriage or beauty products. One of my favorite lists is called Spa Girl and it is
a list of all the beauty products I've tried or want to try. 

Lists: Want and Need is one of the fun lists filled with items I want and need. 

Fun Projects: Tea Party is a list of tea you would serve at a party. 

Favorite Things: Lists for Vanilla, Chocolate and Cinnamon are fun to make and
I'm always finding new items to add to the lists. Kitchen Essentials is another list of favorite
kitchen items and the Cookbooks are items I have reviewed and want to review. 

Bibliomania: A few lists have book themes. 

Music Collection: My music collection is a fun list of music I love or want to own. 

 

Are you driven by success?

I am driven to achieve some measure of success. Iím probably overly conscientious and have been known to fall in love with a project that holds a deep interest for me. 

 

Success!

 

Why donít you write more negative reviews?

I like critical analysis, but have to try not to be too critical and demanding. My product reviews tend to be more critical. With book reviews, authors tend to appreciate insight, care and depth in a review. I rarely will finish a book I don't like, so I rarely will review them. 

Normally I review books I love and may make some comments about various aspects of the books contents if I feel it is something readers would want to know. I tend to trust the reader to look through many reviews to find a good balance of positive and negative opinions. I wake up every morning excited about what I will read and review and I try to see the positive elements in life.

Someone once told me this: 

Look, Rebecca, this entire post boils down to the simple rule you already know. Do what you want because it makes you happy. If you try and make everybody else happy, it ain't gonna happen. ~L 

 

Best letter about positive and negative reviews: 

I suspect that many negative reviews are motivated by the reviewer's desire to demonstrate the refinement of his taste, and to show that every blemish, however minor is detected by his acute mind. If this kind of refined taste were brought to perfection, however, the result would surely be a person who nothing can please. Would that I never become so refined! I prefer the kind of taste that filters out what is bad in a book, and accentuates what is good. 

I approve of the words of that Spanish philosopher Jose Oretega y Gasset wrote in his Meditations on Quixote (which perhaps you have read): "I do not believe that the important mission of criticism is to appraise literary works, dividing them into good or bad. I am becoming less interested every day in passing judgment; I feel more inclined to love things than to judge them. 

Best wishes, 

P. 

 

Letters about Positive and Passionate Reviews: 

Hi, I think your positive attitude to book reviewing is excellent. If a person reads a book he dislikes, let him forget it as soon as possible! Let him not prolong the wasted time by meditating on the experience and recording it. ~ 12/8/2003

I will always take passion and feeling in a review over mere technical information. Good Review. ~ B. 

The warm glow of your Amazon reviews makes for interesting and positive reading. Great recommendations! ~ 1/5/2002

Thank you for your beautiful reviews. Your attention to detail is outstanding. Your writing is visual and pleasantly creative. ~ T. 

 

Do you read the entire book when you review? 

There are some books I read selectively and some books that I read word for word until the very last page. There are so many types of books to choose from. Would you want to read a dictionary from cover to cover? It can take all year! Yes, I've read an entire dictionary. 

Reviewing is a process by which you analyze what you are reading. You may think just as deeply about a book when you are not writing a review, but I find there is a different method of processing the information. When I review, I remember more of the books content and I tend to process the information for a longer period of time, therefore the book contents become more beneficial to me. 

I think books can change your life one word at a time. That doesn't mean you have to read
every word. Some books should be savored over a period of years, some can be read in a night. 

 

Do you ever send out free books?

I have been known to send books to authors who have sent me books. I may see a similar theme or find a book I think an author might enjoy. I did send one author and entire box of books. Iíve also sent other reviewers books so an author could get more reviews. I have left a few people a little confused: 

Today I received a package containing free gifts from you. Would you please give me a little more info for I find myself puzzled by this gift and why I was the recipient. ~L.

   

Have you ever recommended an author to another reviewer?

There was an author who asked me to review a finance book. Iím not an expert on the subject, so I sent him to another reviewer. The reviewer ended up writing an amazing review that impressed the author to no end. A few weeks later an article appeared in the authorís hometown paper and featured the life story of the author. The reviewer was mentioned and this is how I know good things can happen when you pass along information to fellow reviewers. I finally worked up the courage to review the book.

 

Does the current system reward quantity of reviews over quality of reviews?

All reviewers should be valued no matter the rank. Iíve seen excellent reviews by reviewers with only one or two reviews. Quality and usefulness is always rewarded in the end, no matter the quantity.

 

Whatís your feeling about negative votes and negative reviews?

In general I assume the reader did not find the review helpful.

Even a negative review can encourage purchases. I have heard that any publicity is good publicity. Iíve purchased cookbooks that had negative reviews, just to see if the recipes were really as bad as other reviewers said they were. When reading reviews, you take the positives/negatives and make decisions.

I write mostly positive reviews and so I let the reader decide if they like that type of review. I am not afraid of writing a negative review. I have done so, but I donít prefer those types of reviews. I would rather analyze a book in depth and I rarely read a one or two star book. My reviews are rarely negative because I rarely read books that I donít enjoy.

 

Do reviewers think twice about writing negative reviews, knowing that authors and/or fans could exact revenge with negative votes against them? Is this something you worry about with your own reviews?

Iíve seen this happen with an overly positive review. One of my music reviews gets tons of negatives over time because it is so glowing and positive. Apparently people dislike the artist and vote negatively on all the positive reviews. There seems to be a well-organized group of people who dislike the artist.

Mostly I think negative reviews are a result of extreme dissatisfaction with a book or a reader might feel that their time was essentially wasted.

Often the star rating has a lot to do with tastes and personal life experience.

I have advised authors to go looking for reviewers who have reviewed books with similar content. The top reviewers are not experts on every subject. In fact, I finally had to list topics of interest because some topics take too much research.  

 

Do Authors appreciate Amazon reviewers? 

This says it all:


From every nook and cranny of my heart I want to thank you for sharing your sincere thoughts and feelings about something very dear to me - love. I never imagined myself publishing a book. I never dreamed someone would enjoy my sentiments and prose as much as you did.  

I'm so glad you enjoyed the book so much. I am particularly thrilled with how you "get" the playfulness of the book. Our written dialogue with the book is exactly how I hope readers will interact with it. That's terrific and gives me much joy! Thank you so much for including my books on your site - that's quite an honor - I know there are many good books out there and I'm glad you consider my books to be a part of that. ~C. 

Your review was excellent and well written. You showed a strong understanding of the issues. I appreciate that very much. ~J. 

I LOVED the review you wrote on my book - not only because it was positive (all have been) but because it was extremely sensitive and insightful. You have an incredible gift for identifying and extracting the essence of a book. ~B. 

Does Amazon appreciate its Reviewers?

If Amazon didnít appreciate reviewers, reviews would not be listed at their site. Reviewers are rewarded with rank. That is the way Amazon shows appreciation for reviewer effort.
 

Where do you write your reviews?

The desk I review at is an inspiration to me. I found the desk for less than $60 and refinished it.

I have a feeling that the teacher who owned the desk loved writing and since I purchased and refinished 
this desk I have been more inspired to write.

The reading angel on my desk was a unique find and she reminds me of the beauty of how your 
mind can fly to new places as you read. I love the sound of wood drawers opening. 

 

What are the types of items you review?

I review almost anything including music, movies, books, beauty products, home items and exercise 
DVDs. In the past I've reviewed picnic backpacks, Wamsutta bedding, Mrs. Meyers cleaners,
candle lighters, foot massagers, magazines, back massagers, office chairs, magazines, office supplies, 
sushi kits, tea kettles, gourmet food, wall charts for herbs, slippers, plants, makeup, clothes, 
headphones, nail polish, lamp shades, laundry soap, cookie cutters, carpet cleaners, essential oils, 
teeth whitening systems, hair treatment products, sleep aids, hair coloring products, massage oils,
pillows, vitamins, candy, mints, cat toys, perfume, lingerie wash bag, bras, carpet shampoo,
manuka honey, cat treats, toothpaste, protein shakes, envelopes, light bulbs, lint rollers
a bathroom scale, a curling iron, a lawn edger, resistance toning bands and a calculator. 

Some of the specific items include: 

Greenwich Dinnerware
Dagoba Chocolates
Fleur de Sel
Tellicherry Peppercorns
Bell Fitness Medicine Ball
Du Wop Venom Gloss
Oscar de La Renta lingerie
Kama Sutra massage oils
Austin Air Healthmate Air Purifier
Archipelago Botanical Candles
Kiss My Face Beauty Products
Panasonic Vacuum Bags
Oxo Good Grips Whisk
San Pellegrino Limonata Drink
PUR Water Filters
Tupperware
Braun Coffeemaker
Le Grand Miel (Thousand Flower Honey)
Rowenta Iron
Happy Trails Pet Stroller
Victoria's Secret Perfumes and Lotions
Howard Behrens Paintings
Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate
Emeril's Original Essense Seasoning
Cosmic Catnip
LUSH Beauty Products
Leonidas Chocolates
Pearlessence Spa Mist Air Therapy
Foundation Mister
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino
Similasan Computer Eyes Eye Drops
Burt's Bees Beauty Products
Muscovado Sugar
Tazo Tea
Le Creuset Tea Kettle
Tranquil Moments Sound Therapy System
Pure Tupelo Honey

 

What are the largest items you ever reviewed?

Magnetic Recumbent Bike
Desk 
Bookshelves
Low Impact Aerobic Sidestepper 

 

My desk is one of my most prized possessions because 
I noticed that the purchase also inspired magic in my life.


What was one of the best comments about your reviews?

These are perhaps my favorites:

I am a newcomer to Amazon but I think it's AmaZING! So many wonderful books and other products to choose from! The only problem (if there is one at all) is that there are too many items to choose from. I was extremely overwhelmed when I first arrived at the site and saw just how many options I had. 

Thankfully, Amazon provides reviews. As you well know! Well, some of them are wonderfully helpful, funny and informative while others are confusing and often cruel. Yours are probably the best I've seen! You are very smart and have a terrific sense of spirituality that pervades every sentence like a sweet smell enters a room. 

I'm writing to say, Thank You, something you have most likely heard many times before. But I'm saying it anyway. I noticed you contribute fairly often and I think that is great. You have inspired me to pick up a book, read it and write about it on Amazon and maybe I might be able to possibly influence someone the way you have influenced me. You are a truly special woman. ~ P.

I was quite touched by you. Just casually surfing Amazon and stumbled upon someone who feels deeply like me. I found your webpage and found many common threads that seemed to bind me to you ... or at least your outlook on the world. I'm a journalist and cultural anthropologist who appreciates deep thinkers. I try to enrich myself with further meaning. I appreciate how openly you share that which gives your life meaning. I feel I want to do the same. ~ C.   

Hey Rebecca, I honestly have to say that every time I'm searching for a good book for my soul there you are to guide me! It's kind of creepy ;). Anyway, I think you are very dead-on. 

Keep up the great work. I intend to have read all your reviews within the next  decade. ~ M. 

Thank you, first of all, for all you do to promote and cherish the written word. Your reviews are pure magic. ~ K. 

I came across your reviews while visiting Amazon. I was blown away at the sense of purpose you've given your reviews. You transcend the role of reviewer into a compassionate teacher. ~ R.

 

Do you ever get swamped with books? 



What are your main interests in reviewing?

Cooking & Cookbooks
Healthy Living
Diet & Fitness
Decorating
Beauty Products
Love & Romance
Kitchen Essentials
Gourmet Foods
Apparel
Organic & Natural Products
Jewelry
Magazines
Notecards
Inspirational Cards
Office Products
Knitting books
Workout Videos/DVDs
Home & Garden
Decorating
Relationship Issues
Publishing
Writing
Music
Internet, Website Design & Computers
Art & Photography
Expert Advice
Psychology
Self-help
Spirituality & World Religions
Universal Themes
Inspiring Spiritual Journeys
Philosophy
Cats
Poetry
Coffee Table Books
Travel, Travel Diaries & Memoirs
Womenís Interests

Where should authors mail books?

Current Information: www.seasonedwithlove.com/a_review_by_rebecca.htm

Please check this page.

 

If you could choose anyplace to read, where would it be?

In my fantasy of book heaven, I live in a round tower overlooking the sea. A staircase spirals up from a castle into this huge room.

There is a four-poster bed (facing a couch and window) for reading with down comforters. A tray with tea and cookies and maybe even scones with strawberry jam and cream sits on a coffee table near the most comfortable couches in the fantasy planet.

There are two couches, but one couch is facing huge windows that look out to sea.

There are comfortable blankets and pillows spread about the couch and of course a cat is sleeping there twitching his whiskers now and then and stretching out occasionally. To the left there is a fireplace built into the wall.

The floor is covered with plush wool carpets that you sink into as you walk. The floor is wood and creaks a bit here and there. Then, the walls behind the bed/couch are filled with bookshelves right to the top of the ceiling.

Of course there is a ladder that you can move from one side to the other, it is on wheels and attached above the books.

So, the bookshelves are in a half circle around the back of the room, filling half the walls with books and the other half is just windows.

There is also a way to climb to the top of the bookshelves and leave through a secret trap door. There you can sit at the top of the tower reading books in the sun or viewing the sunset/sunrise or sea dashing about on the rocks. Sometimes it is fun just to gaze at the stars.

Favorite books are laid out on the coffee table. Candles are everywhere at night and a chandelier hangs from the top of the tower for afternoon reading. A desk is on the right at the edge of one window so you have a view while typing up reviews.

The secret is, I can go there anytime I want in my mind and often drift off to sleep at night imagining one day I will wake up and be in that tower of my dreams.

The view is amazing!

 
 

Do Amazon customers comment on your reviews? Do customers purchase books because
of Amazon reviews? 


Yes. All the time. We all read each other's reviews and enjoy the community aspects of Amazon. Customers love to ask additional questions too before they buy. At times I have given customers extra information. 


Just a quick note from a total stranger in the frozen north to say how much I appreciate your reviews. One of your latest (superbly crafted, so informational and with such great economy of style) just caused me to purchase from our favorite website a new copy of that sensual cookbook! ~ M. 

Rebecca, thanks for your so-very-well written (and enthusiastic) review on Dr. Moses' book, What Next? It was a lot of help to me in my decision to purchase it. ~ A. 

I read your review and was thinking of buying, but I would like to know some information before I buy it. Does the CD have background music or is it just nature sounds, because some come with music. Please tell me so I know before I buy the product. ~ C. 

 

Iím not overly excited about reading books online. 
It just doesnít appeal to my reading in bed nature. I don't
mind reading a few web pages about a book or author, it
is the thought of sitting and reading hundreds of pages
online that does not appeal to me...


What are your top 10 reasons for reading?

1. I read so I can write reviews - I enjoy the analysis.  

2. I enjoy playing in authorís minds. They have the most delicious thoughts.

3. I have a hunger for knowledge and I need books like I need air.

4. It is a good excuse to climb into bed and stay there all day.

5. Reading gives me new ideas.

6. I love the feel of paper and how a book feels when you hold it in your hands. I like how books look all sitting in a row on the bookshelf and I am tormented by the thought of running out of books to read. Although, that has yet to happen and never could happen. 

7. I love words and books are full of them.

8. I collect quotes and I find it enjoyable to read books just to find great quotes.

9. I'm addicted to my Kindle.

10. You can escape into a world of words and learn a great number of important life-altering lessons. Writing also improves the immune system. 

 

Why do you review more than just novels?

Just because one person finds novels intriguing, doesnít mean others will. Maybe they would rather be reading a cookbook in bed.

The beauty of Amazon is in its diversity. Amazon is really a place for everyone. The main reason I review a variety of items is to bring awareness to what is beautiful, useful or helpful in some way.

Frankly, cookbooks and ALTOID mints, not to mention sensuous shampoos, body oils and silky lotions Ė are more the style of some reviewers.

Amazon now sells just about everything you could ever want or need. It is very convenient to keep your shopping list in your shopping cart. I even buy my beauty products from Amazon.

 

Do you buy a lot of books?

There are ways to cut back on your book-buying budget. However, there are only temporary solutions for the true bibliomaniac. I try to buy my books when they are on sale at Amazon. There are a few bookstores I frequent and strangely enough they all have cats running around in them. It is fun to be greeted by a cat when you walk into the bookstore. These days I buy mostly Kindle books.  

 

I noticed that you do at times review religious or spiritual books. What is your interest in this area and who is the most important voice in history?

I would have to say that the most important voice in history might be Jesus Christ, who is one of the greatest teachers of all time. His ideas are what we can all strive for: Love, Peace, and Oneness with God.

When I get off the path of trying to live my life in a spiritual way, I experience much more conflict and tend to have a troubled heart.

At these times I reach for books that encourage me, or that show me the way to get back onto the path.

Freedom of religion is very important to me. I believe that you make a choice about your soul in this lifetime and while you make many mistakes in this life due to human frailty, there is much to be said about Godís forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

We are all so very human. In that humanness, I see beauty and the darkness of the soul. What we feed grows inside us daily. We are a human becoming. Each of us struggles with great conflicts of the soul and I believe we go through trials and difficulties in order to make us a better soul for the next life.

 

Then, what is the purpose of this life beyond suffering?

From what I have read, suffering is a way to awaken to new levels of spirituality. You can live for the moment, but I think it is more deeply fulfilling to live life in regards to the future. You can still enjoy temporal pleasures, but I tend to look forward to the future in the next life.

Donít the temporal problems in life often become much less important when you view it in the light of the eternal? Many are not fulfilled because they donít see the purpose of life. One of the most asked questions in life is: Why am I here?

People end their lives because they canít find the answer. When your soul is not satisfied by the answers you get when you ask that question, you either give up or you keep searching. Sometimes you may even have to stop asking and submit to your destiny.

It seems that in my search for the purpose of life I found two main reasons:

1. To worship our creator and to find out all we can about God. To lead other people to this knowledge.

2. To learn lessons here on earth and pass tests presented to us. This might include learning how to love or defeating our inner demons.

The truth is, this life is only a drop of water in the river of eternity and in reality, maybe only one major decision needs to be made in this life that is truly important. That being, where you will spend eternity.

Enlightenment for me was realizing there is more than this physical life, because truthfully I think I was like many others walking blind to my own soul. Many people are so busy trying to escape the pain of the present, they donít see pain as a spiritual journey. I think awakening to a higher level of consciousness is possible when you believe in God and seek out truth.

Loving God is one of the highest levels of bliss. You can feel great love and also feel great security and a feeling of purpose.

Faith can be bliss for the mind. In a way, you are giving yourself over to an experience in which you connect with the higher power. Once you surrender to that feeling, it can leave you feeling rather content. Sure, you still feel moments of anxiety, loss and sorrow. Overall, there is a sense of peace that is very fulfilling.

Some people take drugs to look for a new experience. I think people who take drugs are looking for God in an artificial way. Or maybe they are just looking for advanced ways to escape the pain of life.

I find Yoga is very effective to help reduce emotional pain. I also think being able to pray is very healing. I am very happy that God loves us unconditionally and forgives us for our many faults as human beings. I still see beauty in being human, but it is much more freeing to pass the tests life throws our way.

Yes, Iím still struggling in my life like the rest of the planet, but at least I think that I have found my lifeís purpose and I have a definite pathway to follow.

Jesus Christís teachings are very meaningful, although trying to follow any religious teachings will
present many challenges. Jesus loves us unconditionally. 

 

What is Unconditional Love?

To love someone and continue loving them no matter what! This is the type of love God has for us, although it goes way beyond unconditional love.

People can and do hurt you when you offer them this type of love. You are then at the mercy of others unless you can rise above your own sense of loss in disappointing circumstances. In a way, submitting yourself to that beautiful torture teaches you how to love. 

When you find someone in your life who can give you unconditional love in return, even then you may experience pain, but I find it is one of the most healing ways to be loved and to love.

To live a life where you are detached from pain might leave you in a state of utter boredom. You need opposites to keep yourself aware. Sometimes being human is rather enlightening.

Many people think you have to search for spirituality. I think you become more spiritual through being tested.

It is the experience that makes you more aware of who you are and where you are going. I think a person can know a lot about God and still not be spiritual. A person who is truly spiritual shows unconditional love.

 

In love with life on our Honeymoon in St. Thomas.
The Hurricane was approaching but we
were blissfully unaware.



What is the best feeling in the world?

Being in love with life.

Love is simply the best feeling in the world, but Iím learning that love is not always a feeling. A lot of the time, love is a commitment to another personís greater good.

 

What is your vice? 

Chocolate. 

 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? 

Drink coffee!
 

 

What is your favorite recipe? 

Chocolate Brownies.

 

What do you dream about? 

Escaping to an island.

 

What do you do for fun? 

Watching movies, swimming, working out and knitting scarves.

 

What is Your most vivid childhood memory? 

The taste of guavas. 
The feeling of beach sand between my toes. 
Looking at the stars from our porch in Africa out in the country. 
The taste of Lemon Meringue Pie. 
Swimming in a river.
The scent of the earth in Africa. 
The taste of sugar cane. 
The taste of peaches from a tree in our back yard. 

 

What was your favorite comfort food as a child? 


Fudge - a caramel fudge they sold at a fruit stand near my house. By the time we
bought some in the afternoon it had warmed in the sun. Nothing like it! I have a similar
recipe but I swear it needs to be made in Africa to taste the same.  

 

What hobbies do you have that might surprise us? 

Refinishing Furniture.

 

Who is your hero?

My best friend and personal coach. He helps me to think through my life challenges
and achieve my personal goals. 

 

What makes you angry? 

People who never let you finish your sentence...

 

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

That I lived in Africa as a child. That I spend most
of my time alone, I love being home. I need time
to think.

 

 

What is the smartest thing you've ever done? 

Listening to my heart when I fell in love with the Amazon website. Posting
reviews was the best thing I could have ever done because it opened
up my world.  

 

Too Many Books?

Read and Release
books out into the world
through www.BookCrossing.com

Sample Label - print labels
from websites linked to Book Crossing

Labels by Boirina - Link in to see all the
beautiful labels she has in many languages.

 

 

 


Tribal Treasures

 

I put down my book "The Meaning of Zen" and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. "Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears that you have already read it." She looks up and gives me her full gaze. "Don't be ridiculous," she purrs. ďI wrote it." ~Dilys Laing, "MIAO" 


 

 

Selected Five-Star Reviews   

See All Reviews at This Site

Best New Artist of 2006,  July 7, 2006

Evening Oceanís The Attraction is a breathtaking masterpiece that inspires complete and utter abandon into musical bliss. The styles shift from ambient to dance and from pure pop to mesmerizing electronica. This magical debut album was mastered by Don Grossinger, who previously mastered projects for Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Faithless.

1. The Attraction
2. Senses Awake 
3. Waiting For You At The Subway Platform
4. Ending (Open Your Eyes)
5. First, The Heights
6. Trusting You With Everything
7. The Note
8. Haze
9. Friday
10. Night Walk
11. Aurora (Sleepless)
12. Waves
13. Perfect Summer Sky
14. Going Home
15. Every Time I Say Your Name
16. Share Love (Until There's Nothing Left)

The Attraction instantly connects with deep currents surging from the center of energy itself and in dramatic clarity reveals a musical destiny. Piano moves at a mesmerizing speed, then awakens into a deep ambiance alive with mystery and building passion. The intensity of the desire leaves you pleasantly stunned.

Senses Awake is a surprising ancestral fusion, a mingling of earth and sky with days slipping by planets in an inspired soundscape that melts into sublime moments of anticipation. I was left speechless only awaiting the next note moving from earth into a mirror of sound drenched landscapes. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear in this lifetime and as it saturates your consciousness you may wish to listen to it again and again. It is the most peaceful place my soul has ever been. 

Waiting For You At The Subway Platform is a new world of beats and speeding blurs of metallic textures as the music takes off in a fast-paced alchemy. Each moment fully captures your attention as it propels you into vast open spaces. 

Ending is a sexy pop tempo awakening where a master of moods leads you to lush ecstatic landscapes where cabs wait for lovers on rain-drenched streets. Symphonic and perfectly balanced, "First, The Heights," is a place where strings ascend in sensory swirls and build into a moment of silence.

Trusting You With Everything is stirring and beautiful, with inspired undercurrents seeking to draw you beneath into an underwater world. It is as if you are discovering sounds for the first time, uncovering a future of possibility. 

The Note quickly follows in a sweet silky kiss of sound. Delicate in beauty, it creates the most sublime moment on this album. The dreamy quality leads perfectly into Haze where guitar creates a mood reminiscent of a walk outside beneath the stars.  

The awakening in Friday is a world of percussion where dance beats create a club energy, but this can also be enjoyed for the dynamic strengths and surrender into sound. 

To be lost within is to wander in Night Walk. This deeply sensual track moves in and out of reality. Film directors will fall in love with this instantly. With rapid pacing and exciting flourishes, you can truly walk into another world. Night Walk is a mingling of supreme beauty interlaced with moments of exquisite curiosity. Stunning and Revelatory! Possibly a vision of the future of music.

Aurora (Sleepless) mellows the mood and takes the pace to a tranquil open space as Waves delves into World Music and turns the album inside out.

The emotional beauty in Perfect Summer Sky perfectly captures longing and passion. Such magnificence is rare and it may provoke the deepest and most exquisite emotions. 

Going Home defies inertia and has the feeling of a plane taking off to a mysterious destination. Every Time I Say Your Name is an angelic and awe-inspiring track that seems to reflect the album's soul. Share Love has unique mind bending sounds that complete this musical journey. 

Evening Ocean is the most amazing musical discovery of 2006 and is a must-buy CD. The stunning artwork and photography by Natalie Shau will make this a collectorís item. 

The Attraction is truly love at first listenÖ

~The Rebecca Review 

 

Reunion: a Novel by Alan Lightman
Link to Book

Haunting Nostalgia, February 6, 2005

Is it possible for a person to love without wanting love back? Is anything so pure? Or is love, by its nature, a reciprocity, like oceans and clouds, an evaporating of seawater and a replenishing by rain? ~Alan Lightman

Einstein's Dreams is a delicate taste of the banquet of intimacy in Reunion. I am never sure if Alan Lightman's books are novels or the deepest expressions of his romantic nature. After reading Einstein's Dreams I knew there was more to discover and here it is in all its intimate beauty.

The first few pages left me in a high state of amusement. How I understand that love of words as he wishes to be reading a book while lost in the world of a woman. Yet, what would the world be without romantic seduction and the seduction of words? In Reunion, the two dance together, intertwined in poetry and longing.

Detailed accounts of action and reaction fill the pages as Alan Lightman's mind breathes every nuance of life, every consideration. Amidst the contemplations, humor mingles with memories and astute observations. I kept thinking: "I feel all my life past was a beautiful prison from which I unwillingly escaped."

Alan Lightman revels in the sense of adventure he creates through imaginative descriptions of all that occurred or could have occurred. Are memories how we imagine life could have been or how life actually occurred?

Does it matter? Alan's recollections are worth reading twice. He creates ambience and nostalgia in one sentence. Nostalgia for rain drenched sidewalks I have never walked on and musty libraries I wish to visit or return to hours later in memory. His powers of observation flow into a complete unveiling of appearances and private passions.

Reunion is an escape into a world of imaginative observation. Even Alan Lightman's recollections of college and college roommates become an introduction to his main character's inclinations. We follow hearts through secret pains and pleasures. As Charles, a middle-aged professor, decides to attend his thirtieth college reunion, he remembers his senior year. He wanders with his twenty-two-year-old self in 1960 and the entire book become a journey to a past he so desperately wants to relive in memory.

I am so in love with the writing in this book, I hardly mind that a person named Charles wanders in the pages and is in love with a beautiful dancer. I want to know more about how Alan Lightman views the world. His characters seem to me a backdrop for his heart's revelations. This is an obsession with love and life itself and I love the way the writing style changes and keeps your full attention. At times you are reading a novel, at times a memory and at times you have become so seduced by sentence structure, you are lost in a world of words and you are in love.

~The Rebecca Review

 

A Night Without Armor: Poems by Jewel

Love & Loss

We are the living
and the living
must love the world
~Jewel

A Night Without Armor is an intricately crafted collection of honest expression and spontaneous revelation. Jewel Kilcher is not only a singer and songwriter, she is a truly gifted poet. Her love for the poems of Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, Rumi, Yeats and Pablo Neruda flows through her poems in a mingling of mysterious longings and vision.

I spent an entire afternoon reading "a night without armor" and Jewel's intuitive understanding of life and descriptions of loneliness in the midst of popularity left me in a state of extended contemplation about beautiful moments and the cravings of the soul.

Jewel paints unforgettable scenes in vivid imagery. In "Communion" she shows a deep understanding of intimacy and her artistic descriptions capture environments in sensual words that slip over the pages in beautiful streams of inspired imaginings.
 
Her words will at times take you by surprise and I found myself retracing my steps to understand the unique poetic forms and deeper meanings woven within complexity. I found myself reading "Wild Horse" three times before I could turn the page. "Still Life" and "Lost" are also equally interesting in form.

"Gold Fish" was a sweet innocent and playful surprise and her witty interpretation of life in Spivey Leaks made me laugh. "You Are Not" is a revealing look at belief that sharply contrasts with action.

Many of Jewel's poems are saturated in deep heart longing and many are resting in delicate moments of peaceful childhood memories from Alaska. There is a profound poem about her brother Shane and many poems about her childhood and family life in Alaska. "The Slow Migration of Glaciers" is a love poem to Alaska and explores Jewel's longings for home.
 
Jewel's love poems are unique and she delves into dreams, experience, loss, passion, trust, betrayal, fear, disappointment, uncertainty, longing, infatuation and kisses.

These poems are alive with emotion; they capture the beauty of Jewel's soul and make the world feel a little less lonely.

~The Rebecca Review

 

 

Perfectly Said: When Words Become Art by Brian Douthit

Word Sanctuary

Brian Douthit's poems take the reader beyond romance. This is a world of exquisite feelings immersed in a profound appreciation of beauty. The pages are saturated with visions, emotions, desires and deep contemplations about current events. The honesty of expression mingles with a breathless depth of consciousness.

As Brian Douthit captures moments, eyes become sapphire mysteries, nostalgia weaves itself in metaphors and passionate moments are enveloped in poetic expression. The soft scent of perfume drifts through the pages like a mysterious muse wandering in nature.

As I bathe in waves of tranquility
Sweet scented honeysuckle graces the air
And I glance into the mild eyes of impossibility
To see rare beauty, rending the roses to despair
~pg. 36

Sanctuary was the first work of art to capture my attention. Brian Douthit paints love's sanctuary in a flowing inspiring honesty. The intriguing format is aesthetically appealing and is presented in a creative flow of words. As he conveys his thoughts on love, romance and beauty, he awakens the reader to the sublime. Sanctuary left me in a state of breathless wonder as unveiled emotions ignited my imagination.

It is not uncommon to enter entirely new worlds while reading each poem. "Shout Past the Horizon" becomes a profound declaration of individuality, while "An Afternoon with Rain" takes us to a world where the sky is making love in thunder and lightening.

In "The Religion of Romance," love becomes a divine expression as the scent of jasmine softly lingers in a poem filled with emotional complexity. "Answers to Everlasting Strands" presents observations about humanity's eternal search for peace.

Brian Douthit also covers topics of fascinating interest like the meaning of life or conflicts of the soul that play themselves out in "Midnight Ponderings." His descriptions of dreams, wildflowers, rainstorms, dreamy memories and enchanted kisses present ecstatic notions of love. At times nature almost seems to embody the connection between souls.

"Perfectly Said" is filled with poems that delve beneath what meets the eye as the intellectual dances playfully with the emotional in an ecstatic union of soul experience.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker, Brendan Gill  
Link to Book

Sardonic Wit, Whimsy and Heart

Lips that taste of tears, they say,
Are the best for kissing. ~Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker died the year I was born and yet she seems like a modern writer you'd like to meet and talk to for hours. While she lived a troubled life she is a fascinating study. While in France she became friends with Earnest Hemingway and soon thereafter published her first book of poetry, "Enough Rope." She writes about her friendship with Earnest in the Uncollected Articles section.

Of all her writing, her poems strike me as her true self. She reveals so much in her poetry and many times her feelings reach new levels of desperation. She doesn't seem to find as many beautiful moments as Anais Nin, but then again she manages to continue the struggle of life without taking her life in a river like Virginia Woolf.

The true irony of her life is that she dies of natural causes after spending a life embraced in a dream of death. When she wishes people were dead, it might be because she sees death as some beautiful way to escape reality.

The memorable short stories make extended points about human nature and page 48 is an especially good example of a page dripping heavily with sardonic wit. Where did all this angst come from? She is a woman living in a time where she cannot always speak her mind and she is deeply frustrated in many of her "internal dialogue" confessions.

When given the choice between creating and curing, she seems to create from a place of deep emotional pain. She seems to fall into similar patterns and actually seems to revel the idea of: "I wore my heart like a wet, red stain on the breast of a velvet gown."

Dorothy Parker's poems seem to be more of her desire to break free from the brutal revelation of life. She has a typical love-hate relationship with men and is an astute observer of cultural trends. I have a feeling she wrote many of her poems while she was in a manic state of some sort because she reveals so many of her feelings and comments so deeply on her life experience. The first few lines of "Wisdom," show her frustration.

This I say, and this I know:
Love has seen the last of me.
Love's a trodden lane to woe,
Love's a path to misery.

She seems to be having a bipolar diatribe during the story of the Telephone Call. Her mean streak can be a bit shocking at times, but she does love rain and has other sensitive qualities which seem to balance this more sarcastic and vindictive side of her personality.

Dorothy Parker wrote reviews under the title "The Constant Reader." There are quite a few reviews from The New Yorker. She reviews The Journal of Katherine Mansfield and We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson. I enjoyed her conversational style and the way she thinks through her writing while she writes. It is as if you are observing the entire thought process. You can read her thoughts about Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband from Vanity Fair.

One of my friends reads me Hemingway and I read him Dorothy Parker poems. It is a friendship made in heaven. He also knows all about Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table and has lists of books for me to read. This book is my first Dorothy Parker experience and I found many poems that I loved and quotes that are definitely collectable. This is an enjoyable introduction to Dorothy Parker that may end up with many highlighted pages.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Before Sunrise DVD ~Ethan Hawke

Link to Movie

Rare Honesty and Hypnotizing Conversations

In a world where characters seem to cautiously approach a tentative friendship before diving into an impulsive romantic relationship, it is almost refreshing to see both happening at once. From the moment American Jesse meets the luminous French Celine there is a soul connection that defies definition.

At first, Celine seems to overwhelm Jesse with her intellectual wanderings and yet she playfully allows him to tease her. The chemistry is phenomenal and the sheer beauty of various scenes made me realize how the simplicity of the settings actually enhanced the emotional aspects.

Throughout the entire movie you never feel that you are on the outside looking in, although I think that is the underlying attraction. I was so mesmerized by the script I felt I became each character as they were speaking. This is bliss for anyone who loves the sheer honesty of life itself. Jesse and Celine delve into philosophy, creatively describe their first romantic feelings and enjoy a spontaneous merging of the minds.

When they meet on a train heading to Vienna, neither imagine they will encounter a reality that is better than any fantasy. There is a sweet innocence pervading this entire movie with an underlying erotic tension that never seems to find complete fulfillment on screen. While the ending of this movie is more melancholy, the ending of Before Sunset is more than delicious.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Love Poems (Everymanís Library Pocket Poets) by Sheila Kohler (Editor), Peter Washington

An Understanding of Love, November 5, 2004

But true Love is a durable fire
In the mind ever burning;
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning. ~Walter Ralegh

I am naturally drawn to tiny books and this book was no exception. I saw it and instantly fell in love with the red library binding and gold embossing on the fabric cover. This is one of those books you want to carry around with you in your pocket to read on a sunny day while sitting on a park bench.

While most of the poems were new to me, I did find lines to make any poet drown in the pure beauty of words. "In My Sky at Twilight" is a paraphrase of the 30th poem in Raindranath Tagore's The Gardener. The images are lush and mingle emotion with nature. "In Former Days" by Bhartrhari (5th Century) is witty and beautiful in its simplicity. Two lovers are so in love they forget their separateness and then drift back to being "you" and "me." The poem is a mere four lines and yet it provides a intimate look at how lovers feel when in love and when they drift apart. I loved a few lines in "The Palanquin" where a butterfly lands on delicate skin and transfers colors onto the lover's skin.

The poems are divided into 7 sections:

Definitions and Persuasions
Love and Poetry
Praising the Loved One
Pleasures and Pains
Fidelity and Inconstancy
Absence, Estrangement and Parting
Love Past

You may recognize poems by Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman and Dorothy Parker. I was pleasantly surprised by poems by Leconte De Lisle, Pablo Neruda and Dioskorides.

You will find a wide range of love poems. This book contains selections from ancient China to modern America. These poems present the universal experience of the human heart.

~The Rebecca Review
 

Tazo Tea Sampler Pack

An Introduction to the Tazo Experience

My first Tazo experience included a box of interesting items from a friend and packets of Tazo Green Ginger tea. Then, after trying additional Tazo teas, an entire new world of tea revealed itself to me. Yes, I admit to being in love with Tazo teas.

In this wonderful little box of teas, you will be introduced to the following teas:

Awake
My secret is out. I drink this tea when I write lots of reviews all at once. There is magic here. Thank you tea shaman.

Calm
"A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as sitting for 45 minutes in a mountain meadow on a sunny day with your shoes off." ~tea packet

This tea has a magical, almost golden color with a sparkle of brass. The ingredients in this herbal blend are almost romantic. How often do you drink a tea with "rose petals" in the blend? Ingredients: Chamomile flowers, hibiscus flowers, spearmint, lemongrass, rose petals, blackberry leaves, safflowers, peppermint, sarsaparilla, lemon balm, licorice, and other natural flavors.

China Green Tips
A delicate green tea from China's Zhejiang province. I now have learned to drink Green tea with milk and stevia or honey.

Darjeeling
If you want a subtle tea with a smooth, soothing flavor, then Darjeeling is an excellent choice. The slightly floral flavor is much milder than an Earl Grey. While many of the Tazo teas are blends of a variety of teas, this tea is purely a blend of Organic Black Darjeeling teas. The tea is grown near India's border with Bhutan. This tea is just perfect when blended with an Organic Sucanat: Natural Sugar Cane. You might also want to try using "milk powder" instead of cold milk with your tea. I find it helps to keep the tea strength and adds a creamy element to the smoothness of this tea. Darjeeling is a very satisfying blend for morning tea.

Earl Grey
A highly perfumed tea scented with the oil of bergamot.

Om
While I don't taste the subtle cucumber flavor in this tea, I do notice it has been infused with a delicate peach flavor. If you enjoy mild tea, one or two filterbags might be sufficient. If you enjoy stronger tea, four filterbags and 16 ounces of water brings out a stronger flavor. When I drink this tea I think about peaches and cream. Ingredients: High-grown organic Darjeeling green and black teas. Natural flavors of cucumber and peach.

Tazo Chai
A spicy tea best served with milk/powdered milk/soy milk or a dash of cream and some honey.

Passion
The deep purple/red color and hibiscus fragrance is enough to make anyone passionate about tea. Yet, is this really tea? It looks like tea, but it is really an herbal infusion made by steeping hibiscus flowers, orange peel, licorice, cinnamon, rose hips, lemongrass and red poppy in a swirling of hot water. The flavor is slightly reminiscent of hot apple cider or hot cranberry juice. This tea leaves a tingle on your tongue and I think it goes very well with a spoonful of honey.

Decaffeinated Tazo Chai
If you like your Chai with a peppery kick, then this tea will interest you. Rooibos, cinnamon, ginger, decaffeinated black tea, cardamom, ginger, chicory, cloves, star anise and other natural flavors seem to take a back seat to the delicious peppery flavor of this tea. This tea tastes similar to a tea I first tasted in Africa, where Rooibos tea is grown. Best served with milk/powdered milk/soy milk or a dash of cream and some honey. Since this is a decaffeinated tea, it is perfect for late night writing sessions or when you want something calming to drink that doesn't taste like chamomile.

I'd like to say that their teas are best steeped for an extra 5-10 minutes to draw out all the delicious flavors. I use my coffee maker to make tea. Simply putting the tea bags in the coffee pot and allowing the boiling water to drip down into the pot and swirl about with the tea bags. I use 16 ounces of water and two tea bags for each experience.

When you drink these teas you can at times transcend reality for moments at a time. Some of these tea blends even evoke a sense of wonder. You may also enjoy the assorted packet of tea which also includes Zen, Lotus and Wild Orange tea packets.

I just love the packaging of the Tazo Teas. The individual wrappings have a nice crinkly sound and the colors are all so soothing and quite beautiful. These teas are definitely for the aesthetically aware. Drinking Tazo teas literally becomes a magical experience. There is something mysterious going on here. The teas even seem to have a magical glint or luster to them. When you drink Tazo teas the world looks more beautiful and you feel much more aware of life itself. I find that my creativity soars after drinking Tazo teas. Tazo teas are not just tea, they are art in a cup!

~The Rebecca Review

 

Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life by Taro Gold

Living a Harmonious Perfectly Imperfect

Perfection exists only in the imagination. As long as we equate joy with perfection in even a small way, we will never know contentment. ~Taro Gold

In our drive towards perfection, we often seek for impossible dreams that lead to unending conflict of the soul. Taro Gold's "Living Wabi Sabi" is filled with ways we can escape this cycle of disappointment. Quotes are interspersed with personal recollections of his grandmother's teachings. Art mingles with quotes and the pages are of a high quality and shaded with natural earth tones. Not only will this book last a long time, it is perfect to give as a gift.

Taro's thoughts are beautiful gifts filled with wisdom and the secrets of Wabi Sabi living. While life is filled with uncertainties, at least we can ponder how we will deal with uncertainty itself.

Through humorous recollections about cooking or Taro's experience with electricity we learn deep spiritual truths. He discusses the birth of stars, how joy is the ultimate goal in life and how his grandmother taught him to develop inner character so he could contribute goodness to the world. He also discusses interesting facts about Walt Disney and how he was fired from his first job for "lack of imagination." There are a few other humorous examples of how life seemed to take a wrong turn, all while leading the participants right to the height of their success.

There are seven main chapters:

Living Wabi Sabi
Like Sugar from the Sun
The Wisdom of Imperfection
Growing Up, Growing Down
Awakening to the Universe Within
A Field of Possibilities
The True Beauty of Your Life

If you have been reading all the books by Taro Gold, you may be interested in reading more about Taro Gold and in this book, you can enjoy reading a bit about Taro's family history. This is a very personal book and I found it to be the most healing and comforting of all the books by Taro Gold. There are life-changing principles in Taro's book that can be incorporated into any spiritual tradition or lifestyle.

Also highly recommended:

What Is Love? A Simple Buddhist Guide to Romantic Happiness
Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A book of Eastern Wisdom
The Tao of Mom: The Wisdom of Mothers from East to West

~The Rebecca Review

 

 

Pulling a Dragonís Teeth (Pitt Poetry Series) by Wei Shao  

Link to Book

A Journey from China to Manhattan

I want the world to know us, not just because of the new Three Gorges Dam, Beijing or Shanghai. ~Shao Wei

Shao Wei was once a young child dreaming by the Yangtze river. She contemplated her future at a young age and decided she would become a writer. She became a voracious reader and fed her curiosity about the world through books. After living in Wanxian City, east of Sichuan Province, she moved to New York City. Here she was thrown into a new life and found solace in writing about her surroundings. She earned her master's degree in creative writing. She now teaches English composition. This is her first poetry collection in English.

Shao Wei's poetry is at times beyond imaginative, infused with magic and often feels musical. Musical in the way her words entice you to read an entire poem, not stopping until the last word. In the beauty of her writing, a subtle dissatisfaction sometimes appears that seems to represent a intense desire for a place that is anywhere but here. Her words can at times be the meanderings of a discontented mind that is seeking to find contentment in a river of words.

In "Manhattan" she turns the overwhelming into a dreamy place of wild animals and ancient mysteries. Many of her poems speak of an unspeakable loneliness and a desire to belong to a demanding planet, demanding its own space, not to know her dreams.

The moon is always big when I feel lonely
I measure the distance between us
everyone is busy earning a living
no time to care about a girl and her dreams

I loved "The Absent Goodbye," because it reminded me of my grandmother's room that was like the nest in her house. She also left in her sleep and this poem has a certain warmth I could relate to, although it was written about Shao Wei's grandfather.

In the next poem, "Dear Death" there is an almost sorrowful, yet blatant sarcasm. It is hopelessness drenched in longing and reluctant resolution. Wei expresses her desire to be taken with all those she has lost. She says: "If you take them away from me, why don't you take us all?" Her writing often speaks to the reader with the voice of an inner child who remembers the past in vivid images.

"A Fairy Tale" begins with images of a lonely girl tasting sugar and quickly evolves into a story of lonely ecstasy and eternal contemplation. She seems to fear living a life without purpose.

The amusing story about rice, fond memories of planting a peach tree and the almost symbolic tasting of her first apple all make this book of poetry a satisfying and comforting read.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Instrumental Heaven Volume 7 ~ Mehdi  

Link to CD

  An Ethereal Odyssey of Body, Mind and Soul

"Love is the scent of flowers in the spring. It is the silent choirs of petals. Love is the song of the soul, singing to God."

Mehdi's music is striking in its depths and ecstatic in its heights. The poem alone is worth the price of the CD. Mehdi can mean "the divinely guided one" or "flower." If you can find some Nag Champa fragranced candles, it will heighten the listening experience.

This music dances around your soul coaxing you from the depths of your physical form. Mehdi's music makes you drift someplace between earth and heaven. Volume 7: Instrumental Heaven tempts you to escape your daily existence and experience a dreamy state of ecstatic peace. Your mind runs free where your soul longs to wander.

Heaven is interesting in its ability to create a longing for the eternal. The music sweeps forward and twists back and then surges forward again like the symbol of eternity. The blending of Piano, Live Orchestral Strings, Solo Violin, Cello, Flute, Guitar, Japanese Taiko Drums and Hammered Dulcimer is captivating and nurturing. Volume 7 is uplifting and "Flowers of Spring" is especially magical.

Full Moon brings in some of the more primal deep night elements and Clouds of Light has an otherworldly signature. In "Rain" you can almost hear drops of rain splashing on stone. If you imagine a flute player sitting beneath large trees and rain drops dripping and splashing on stones near a river, that is what "Rain" sounds like.

I think the reason this music is so beautiful is because it produces a floating "in love" feeling otherwise known as paradise. Mehdi's music invites you to focus on the moment all while your soul intertwines with the eternal in a dizzying dance of notes.

- The Rebecca Review  

 

Dare to Be Yourself: How to Quit Being an Extra in Other Peopleís Movies and Become the Star of Your Own by Alan Cohen  

Link to Book

A Journey to the Mountaintop of Self-Awareness

Whatever we concentrate on, expands and increases. ~Alan Cohen

All of Alan's books are healing, beautiful gifts that allow you to see a reflection of your current self within the pages. Alan has the amazing ability (very rare as far as I can tell) to see deep spiritual lessons in even the most negative situations.

To Alan, life is a reflection of his inner world. This has become more apparent to me lately and there have been moments when I've spoken my intentions out loud or just thought them silently and my life changes or moves in positive directions. The same can happen when you think negatively as I have proved to myself time and time again.

Alan is a man before his time and his love of quotes and movies is a highlight in "Dare to Be Yourself." The truth is, Alan is comfortable being himself and as Ingrid Bergman once said: "Be Yourself. The world worships the original." He has divided his book into five main sections:

1. The Return of the Golden Buddha - How to chip away the mask and reveal more of your golden nature.

2. Dare to Love Yourself - Do you respect yourself and believe in yourself?

3. Dare to Live Now - How to turn scars into stars and let yourself experience life on the human level. It is fine to change your mind, be wrong or let go. Alan also discusses forgiveness and how to live in the moment.

4. Dare to Be Yourself - How can you take your power back? How to say NO!

5. Dare to Move Ahead - Taking risks, moving through fear, doing the impossible and living your vision.

Alan Cohen mingles practical advice with spiritual insight and weaves popular cultures into deep lessons. I always learn something new about life. There is a fascinating story about Monarch Butterflies on page 45. The original idea of the "Blessing Extractor" and "Wish-fulfillment machine" made complete sense to me and then I was very amused by the cute story of "The God in Chocolate."

His insightful observations about Marilyn Monroe shed light on her life and he also discusses how when you feel like you are dying, you are going through a spiritual birthing process. As your old self dies, the new self is born. This can happen over and over again. I have been through this a few times myself and now I finally understand what was happening to me. I loved his creative ideas for making space for joy and enjoyed quotes by Albert Einstein, Yogi Amrit Desai and Ramana Maharshi.

Reading Alan Cohen's books are truly a vacation for your soul and his writing is refreshing in that he looks at life from an uncommon perspective.

This book even has a workbook section with each chapter- to encourage you to apply the principles and open new doors in your life.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Panther Panchali DVD ~Kanu Bannerjee

Link to Movie

Song of the Little Road

Delicate, almost lyrical black-and-white images, offer insight into the harshness of life in a rural Bengali village. Panther Panchali is the first movie in Satyajit Ray's (1921-1992) compelling Apu Trilogy. Ravi Shankar's hauntingly beautiful music takes this movie to a mythical level.

Satyajit Ray's ability to reveal this story at a leisurely pace, all while intriguing you with the details of Indian life, keeps you captive to the last minute. Even the old stone buildings of the ancestral home seem artistic.

In the first story we find Durga stealing guavas and Apu is not yet born. As Durga's mother, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee), struggles to look after family members she is already responsible for, her relatives criticize her for her lack of leadership in the family. The auntie Indir (Chunibala Devi) takes delight in Durga's adventures and loves the gifts of bananas and guavas.

There is a comforting scene where she is seen sitting against an ancient wall while she rocks Apu in a basket hanging from the ceiling. As she sings there is a moment of serenity in this world where each day seems to be a fight for survival. Her optimistic attitude is almost heroic in the light of how she is often treated. She has much to offer her community and excels at story telling. Watch for the scene where her face is silhouetted against the wall late at night. This movie has many cinematic moments that border on enlightened creativity.

For some reason, this movie reminded me of living in Africa on a campsite/farm where we would borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors house or wander down a path to the river. Here we find the comical "Indir" stealing chilies or other cooking supplies from Sarbajaya. Sarbajaya is overwhelmed by her own life and yet later she is faced with her own loneliness as she sinks into depression.

Apu's father, Harihar, struggles to find work although he has dreams of seeing his plays performed. He is truly an example of a beautiful soul vibrating at a higher level of creativity than those around him and yet he is forced to take on menial work just to survive.

As the story progresses Apu grows into an adorable whisp of a child and I love the scene where he and his sister walk down the well-worn path. There are scenes of dancing in the monsoon rains and while all the characters seem to be living in their own worlds, they somehow function in their community in a meaningful way. As the rains bring life back to the land, nothing can prepare you for the emotional impact of the scenes that follow.

Overall, I was impressed with the brilliance of the storytelling and how each story weaves almost effortlessly into the next. Pather Panchali is one of the rare film experiences no one should miss. Not only does it address the basics of survival in a community, it makes you think about your own role and how your choices affect everyone around you.

If you can watch Aparajito and The World of Apu in the next few days following your first viewing of Panther Panchali, your experience will turn into a complete immersion in the intriguing and exotic world of Apu. After watching the first movie, I could hardly wait to watch the second and within a day I had watched the third. These movies will leave you in the deepest of contemplation for days and not only will you find yourself lost within the minds of the characters, you will enjoy all the connections between the movies.

~The Rebecca Review  

 

Coming Out of the Closet and Breaking the Chains by Tascha Dresser  

Link to Book

Powerful Poetry to Awaken Change

Many pages have been turned in my life. Some are as fragile and as thin as leaves maturing in autumn. Some are white with the scent of ink still traceable waiting to be read and turned, unfolding a new passage. ~Tascha Dresser

Tascha Dresser wrote her first poem at the early age of 12 and continues to write poems about all the experiences in her life. These beautiful poems have evolved from a deep place within her soul where she has fought to overcome life's obstacles.

To read her poems is to understand the frustration of a highly intelligent woman who has fought overwhelming odds to climb from the closet of her past just to feel the sun on her face and to finally recognize that people who struggle to learn at an early age have rights that are protected by law. They deserve to be loved and they deserve to succeed.

Tascha's poems show a depth of emotional intelligence I've rarely seen in poetry. This is the cry of her soul for equal treatment in an unfair world. Yet, even in the darkness of her disappointment over how the world treats her in her childhood, she shows a beautiful appreciation for what is right about her life. There are poems about love, dreams, friendship and being human.

Tascha begins with a poem about a star emerging inside her. She knows that she has value and gifts to give the world. Yet, this star waits for the right time to shine. She knows she has the power to change attitudes by showing her experiences, the depths of her despair, her longings and especially her desires for a better future for all the children who are trapped in the closet of disbelief. We all have the same basic needs and should never be denied the pleasure of a dream. I found the images of "stars" throughout the book to be quite interesting.

The visual images of a star rising from Tascha's soul in "Emerging" are only a small taste of the metaphors Tascha paints across the canvas of your mind. In one poem, "Hate" becomes a wild horse with icy breath and blood red eyes. She takes this image and in "The Horse, Part II" she expands on the idea and beautiful paints images of hearts disappearing in the distance. Then in "The Horse - A Warning," we learn the final result of the ride on the horse called "Hate." The images will remain in your mind long after your heart has comprehended the meaning and understood the implications of allowing hate into your life.

As images of pain turn into power, many of the poems will be understood by anyone who has been through a terrible night of the soul and survived to see the first light of day. There is power in survival and Tascha Dresser's poems speak of a woman who has passionately struggled through a situation where she was denied basic human rights.

The impressions of her struggle are quite vivid when woven into the poems of the closet. I will never forget the powerful images in "Who's in the Closet?"

For me, this poem explains the true purpose of "Coming Out of the Closet and Breaking the Chains." People are starving for love, understanding, attention and affection. But we lock people away by not listening to them, by verbally abusing them, not believing in them or by not seeing them for who they truly are and all while people are starving for kindness.

This book of poems is not only about life's challenges; it is also an expression of all the emotions everyone feels during the cycle of life. Who were we when we were born, who have we become and what will we become, even after we die. Tascha's emotions range from deep sorrow over the state of the world to a high level of frustration because she can see the solutions so clearly, yet others seem blind to her pain.

Very few poems contain blatant anger (Like in "Not At This Time"), but when they do, she uses this emotion to awaken you to a new level of awareness. An awareness where you hope that these poems will encourage us all to react more diplomatically and be more sensitive to the needs of people who need our support and love.

In "What Words Can't Explain" I understood the lines about wishing people could read between the lines because at times even words cannot express your true feelings. In "I'm A Diamond," we meet an individual who always throws "diamonds in the dirt" and recognize how the inability to see beauty traps people in their own game.

"Coming Out of the Closet and Breaking the Chains" is a collection of poems I really needed to read because I needed to let Tascha's words mingle with my own thoughts about the state of the world and about the need for all of us to show more love. By reading her poems, I will now see the world with new eyes because if Tascha could survive her past, then all of us can survive the daily challenges we face.

Tascha's life was not a life any child deserved and I hope that her poems will inspire a deeper awareness of how children who struggle to learn, truly view their lives. I cried three times while reading this book. I am so proud of Tascha for writing these poems and for sharing her experiences so we can all become kinder, more beautiful human beings.

Highly Recommended.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Hemalaya Behlís Yoga for Urban Living: Daily Connection VHS ~Hemalaya Behl  

Link to DVD

The Urban Girl's Yoga Sanctuary

Yoga can be a place of escape from everyday stress. The tension of the day melts away into your yoga mat and drips invisibly through the floor as a deep sense of peace pervades your entire being. Yoga reminds you to breathe, to nurture the soul that you are, to let your body release the stress for you as you stretch away worry, fear, sorrow and anger. After completing this yoga workout, all you will feel is an incredible sense of peace and bliss.

Hemalaya Behl has created a nurturing environment. The workout is set in a room where purple splashes across the walls in paint and artwork adds a peaceful still dimension. Hemalaya sits on a towel and yoga mat. You only need a mat, a towel and blanket for this routine. I'd also recommend that you find a feather pillow and a down comforter because it adds a dimension of comfort to your yoga routines.

Hemalaya Behl has been studying yoga since an early age and her practice is steeped in authenticity. She has studied the teachings of Hatha, Vinyasa, Ayurvedic and Tantra. You can see that she is living her yoga practice.

In 60 minutes, Hemalaya can bring you from the highest mountain of stress to the most tranquil valley of relaxation. Her pleasant voice leads you into a meditation of the body. The poses follow a logical progression and have a depth and purpose I've not seen in most of the yoga workouts I've tried. It reminds me of how one drop of water meets the next and eventually there is a peaceful stream. This is the best way to describe what I cannot otherwise put into words.

If you complete all the poses to the fullest extent, this could be considered an advanced workout. I could not fully complete the "eagle" or "camel" although I can say that when I was in my 20s, these were much easier for me to accomplish. While doing this workout, I did finally succeed in maintaining the most amazing Tree Pose I've ever done. It is definitely easier to do tree pose while wearing the shortest shorts. Having fabric in the way does not allow your foot to remain planted on your other leg. You just have to do this pose to see why I am saying this. Anyway, I was quite elated that I could finally master this pose. There are many poses in this workout I won't be mastering for at least another year!

If you are looking for unique poses, this workout has an amazing spinal twist. Hemalaya gives precise directions and I was able to accomplish more in this workout than I ever have before. My confidence level soared even when I could not fully master a pose.

There is an added level of serenity and comfort throughout this workout. I especially enjoyed the "blanket" section as it was a cozy way to feel safe and secure and I added a feather pillow and essential oil of rose to help me relax further. The exotic Indian music creates a beautiful mood and sets the stage for a deep relaxation. Each pose is done more slowly than say "power yoga" and this workout contains all the basic poses I can think of. Everything from downward dog to cat pose. I liked how Hemalaya said: "angry cat and walk the dog." This was cute. She also taught me that to make a "sigh" or to say "mmm" helps the body to release stress. There are a few "om" moments, but this is not the focus.

As the workout ended, I was listening to the snow melt off the roof and drip to the ground. The window was slightly open and the cold night air was inquisitively sniffing at my warm skin. Most of my body was wrapped up in a cozy blanket. This is how the workout ends, with a blanket.

I was wondering if perhaps yoga was not just part of being human, it has become so essential to my life. Two years ago, I could have gone a week without exercising, but now my body demands to be nurtured. The release of stress through yoga is essential to maintain my sanity. When I cannot connect with my inner self, I become restless and finally I figured out that when you exercise a lot, you have to keep exercising a lot. It might be similar to an addiction.

Yoga, the bliss of my existence. As Hemalaya would say: "mmmmmm"

Yoga for Urban Living was a unique surprise and now I look forward to trying all of Hemalaya's workouts. There are so few yoga workouts with this level of authenticity.

~The Rebecca Review

 

ALTOIDS  

Link to Mints

The Story of Wildly Wintergreen Mints & a Curious Cat

This flavor of ALTOIDS is especially good near Christmas or anytime of the year. Although, my little "curious" cat "Princess" does not agree.

While opening the packet, she heard the crackling of the wrapping and raced across the bed to see what I was doing. That was until I actually released the little tins from the wrapping. When I showed her the mints, she jumped across the bed backwards.

That was funny, but what was even more funny was when dropped a mint on the floor and she went dashing to see what this new fun object had to offer. She was about 5 inches away when again she "sprang backwards."

While I was rather amused, I realized that even cats think this product is "shockingly strong."

This product claims to be "curiously strong" and they are correct. I think this flavor is even stronger than the peppermint. It clears your head and awakens you to life, no doubt.

This is one of the few mints I'll eat, even though it has sugar. They are just too good to pass up and are just 10 calories.

Much stronger than ordinary mints! They are even worth reviewing! Also look for the new "Altoid Strips" in the cutest, tiniest tin ever. They are a good sugar-free version and the tin is just adorable! I love the "snap" sound when it opens and closes and the raised letters.

Ingredients: sugar, artificial flavor, gum Arabic, gelatin, corn syrup, natural flavor

~The Rebecca Review

 

Christmas Cookies Are for Giving: Recipes, Stories and Tips for Making Heartwarming Gifts by Kristin Johnson, Mimi Cummins

Let it Snow, I'm Baking Cookies

"Like many of you, we want to stay connected to our loved ones and to our friends and family around the world. Christmas cookies are more than just baked goods. They are a tangible and tasty link to our past, our traditions, and our memories. They are gifts hand-made with love especially for their recipient."

Kristin Johnson and Mimi Cummins have created a festive book filled with recipes, stories and tips for making unique holiday gifts. Kristin and Mimi lived next door to each other when they were young children and remember the scent of cinnamon, cookies baking and eating cookie dough.

Kristin is an award-winning writer who has written about food online and is famous for her cookie-baking. Mimi Cummings is an avid cookbook-reader and recipe tester. She has worked with professional pastry chefs and also created a website for her grandmother's legendary Christmas cookie recipes. Her site is now the most comprehensive repository of Christmas cookie recipes on the Internet. You can also look for favorite Christmas recipes at the Cookie Exchange forum and even submit your favorite cookie recipe.

"Christmas Cookies Are For Giving" is filled with cooking advice, Christmas stories, cookie recipes and inspiration. You will find heirloom recipes from family and friends, brand-new original recipes, recipes developed by chefs and even a few recipes from Kristin and Mimi's favorite food promotion organizations. Some of the traditional recipes date back to before Mimi and Kristin's ancestors immigrated to the United States.

Each recipe has a full-color photograph to inspire a festive mood and a shopping trip to buy ingredients! Most of the recipes include ingredients you will already have in your kitchen, but you might want to go shopping for mason jars, ribbon and fabric to make the "Cookies in a Jar."

Contents:

The Giving Christmas Cookie - A poignant story about a woman's memories of Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Crescents) from Vienna and how her recipe leads to bringing Christmas spirit to her community.

Christmas Cookie Baking: Tips and Hints -Anyone who is new to baking will appreciate these tips. There are also tips for using the best ingredients and using insulated cookie sheets, which I can also say are highly recommended.

Christmas Cookie Recipes - The recipe for "Vanillekipferl" made with blanched almonds, sugar and vanilla. This recipe also shows you how to make vanilla sugar. There are recipes for everyone from the gourmet coffee connoisseur to art lovers. Children will love the "Cathedral Windows" and "Butterball Santas." Coffee lovers will enjoy the "Walnut Cappuccino" or "Cherry" Biscotti. "Cranberry Spice Bread" is perfect for shipping to friends and family. Just wait until you see the picture for the "Chocolate Cranberry Holiday Bars" and "Pistachio Cookie Tree." The recipe for "Speculaci" includes a story and information on how to paint cookies. You can use the Royal Icing on pg. 130.

Christmas Cookie Gift Presentation - Delicious ideas and great suggestions for making up cookie baskets with additional treats. You might want to include copies of this book to encourage the "giving" tradition.

Shipping Christmas Cookies - What type of cookies can you ship? How do you package them and how do you ship them?

Gifts in a Jar - Great idea if you don't have time to bake. You just pour layers of ingredients into a jar and decorate in a festive way.

Christmas Cookie Stories - The first story is an amusing story about a woman whose marriage is based on Springerle. I believe it after seeing the look on my husband's face when I tried to change a chocolate chip cookie recipe he loves. He won't eat them now unless they have Muscovado sugar in the mixture! There is also an adorable and very amusing story of how a three year old makes her first Christmas cookies. This is the type of cookbook you want to read while sipping a cup of tea while wrapped up in a down comforter by a fireplace.

This cookbook is the most meaningful book I've read this year. It brought back my own memories of my grandmother baking more cookies than we could ever eat in one holiday season. I remember Christmas cookies stored in cookie tins that always tasted like they had just been made. She was famous for always keeping a few cookies hidden in tins for tea after the holidays.

Since no one in our family seems to make as many cookies for the holiday season, I've tried to carry on this tradition by making tins of cookies for my family each year. This book has given me some new ideas and I even found the recipe for "Cathedral Windows" that my aunt makes each Christmas.

"Christmas Cookies Are For Giving" is filled with Christmas spirit, loving memories and delicious buttery cookie recipes! If you are looking for a Christmas gift for your friends and family, this book is more than a cookbook, it is a wish for future holiday memories.

~The Rebecca Review

 

e.encyclopedia

An Innovative Encyclopedia

 "The key aim with e.encyclopedia is to give kids the best resources on paper and online." ~Sue Grabham

Since 99% of public schools in the United States claim to have Internet access and more than half of all school-age children are using the internet for homework, e.encyclopedia takes homework to the next level.

This book presents information on everything from Space Observatories to Philosophy. There are annotated maps, charts and timelines. It also has "information keyword buttons." They are little gray dots with white words or white words highlighted in gray. They are easy to find and are blended in all over the pages. When looking at information on volcanoes, I find a button with the word: volcanoes and a highlighted word: Lava.

By entering the site URL to a special area of the DK/Google site, you can find more detailed information. Then, you type in the keywords to find additional information, real-time reports, satellite images, virtual tours and databases. There are also downloadable images and just about everything kids need for homework and projects.

So, say you are researching Ancient Greece and have traveled through this book arriving at say pg. 376. There, you will find a picture of The Parthenon, information on amphitheaters and even a picture of an Athenian coin. To access additional information, you go to the "DK/Google" site and type in the keyword: "Ancient Greece." This takes you to a page with more options.

Explore everyday life in Ancient Greece
Important sites in Ancient Greece
Find out more about the Ancient Greeks
Examine Ancient Greek Artifacts

Then you click on "Explore everyday life in Ancient Greece" and are transported into a page from the history channel. So, in this way, you can find information super fast. It does seem they have made every effort to make links to only reputable sites so parents won't have to worry about children encountering inappropriate material. There are links to more than 1,000 useful sites.

So, do you have to pay extra to use the e.encyclopedia website?

No, it is free. The website address is located on the first page of the book. Once you purchase the book, the website is free.

This book covers a wide variety of subjects including: Earth, Nature, Science and Technology, People and Places, Society and Beliefs, Arts and Entertainment, History and the Human Body.

I think they have gone out of their way to make this kid friendly, however, even adults might be interested in finding many of the links. I found the section on seeing how an embryo develops in the womb to be rather fascinating. The section on new materials was quite interesting. Could seaweed be used to make a new plastic? Apparently there is material called "Seagel" that is made from agar and is the lightest solid.

You will also find answers to the following questions:

Are mountains still growing?
What causes tides?
How do scientists use the Quantum Theory?
Why is a swimming pool deeper than it looks?
Who were the first philosophers?
How are Musical instruments categorized?
What is a nanomachine?
Who really invented the World Wide Web?
How does the Internet Work?

DK excels in the illustration department. You will find a toucan peering out of the page on pg. 233 and beautiful full-color illustrations on every page.

Picture highlights: The picture of the Hindu Marriage. What a dress! Loved the picture of the nanorobots and the pictures for the diatonms were rather pretty. Also, who knew a pollen grain was so beautiful. The photography is spectacular.

DK & Google have joined forces to make homework fun. There is so much information here, I could spend hours just looking through page after page. e.encyclopedia will give your children a basic overview of our life on earth. Not only will children find these facts intriguing, once they find a subject of interest, they can take their knowledge to the next level by continuing their research online.

What a brilliant idea!

~The Rebecca Review

 

Online! The Book by John C. Dvorak

For the Mind that Loves Being Online

By nature, I'm the type of Internet user who only goes looking for information when I absolutely need it. It is pretty easy to get lost while online. Not to mention, distracted by tantalizing tidbits of information.

Most books about the Internet seem to focus on Web sites or specific Web toys and topics. This book not only covers all the basics of online life, it also fills in the gaps with amazing secrets you won't find anywhere else. Yes, there are also plenty of URLs, yet that is not the main focus.

John C. Dvorak and Chris Pirillo have created the ultimate Internet manual. In a matter of hours, you can read the latest information on hardware basics, ISPs, Music Downloads, E-Commerce, Gaming, Downloading, Email, Spam, Security, Viruses, Creating Your Own Web Site, Web Programming Languages, The Blog Phenomenon, Streaming Media, The Inner workings of a Modem, Networking, PDAs, Internet Marketing, Webcams, Content Management Instant Messaging, Peer-to-Peer Communication and Internet Law.

John C. Dvorak writes the Inside Track column for PC Magazine and has been writing opinion columns about computers since the 1970s. Internet Guru Chris Pirillo has a site where you can find everything from the "Top 50 Windows XP Tips and Tricks" to "The 10 Quick Steps to Being a Great Radio Guest." If you are a Windows Fanatic or want to keep your mind updated with the latest information, Chris has it covered. Ok, so he has lots of sites and even developed a Brain Trust.

Wendy Taylor, the former editor of PC Computing, worked as the project manager and coordinated the knowledge flowing in from a team of experts from various organizations. Her organization of the material is awe inspiring.

This Book is divided into four main sections:

The Basics of Surfing - Shows the value of the Internet
Detailed Information on Downloads, Security and Virus Protection
How to Create a Web site
A Collection of Technical Information

So, how will this book be of benefit to you?

1. Are you buying a new computer? - Read chapter 2 on Hardware Basics and find out that in exclusive circles people are talking about "overclocking." Beware the blue screen of death. The great feature of this chapter is the ability to quickly find information fast. If you are ordering a computer online and want to know the details about SDRAM, pg. 32 gives a basic overview. Then, skip on over to chapter 11 to read about security and chapter 12 to learn about viruses. Read about some famous viruses and learn how they operate. Did you know your computer is probably filled with spyware? Learn how to delete cookies and install antivirus programs.

2. Love to Shop? This book has ideas on how to get the best combination of price and service for your next purchase. It also shows you how to establish yourself as a seller at major sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace. You can sell just about anything at Amazon. There are a variety of programs and I've tried zShops and loved how fast items sold. Amazon now sells gourmet food!

3. Did your phone company offer to rent you a Cable modem or DSL router? How much are you willing to pay to surf fast? Do you want to save money? How much time do you think you will be spending online? This book has helpful advice for every question I've ever had about online life.

4. Interested in Meeting People? I'm glad the authors to talk about the emotional strain of online life. While it can be freeing to tell your best friend all the details of your life, it can be equally unpleasant to find you trusted the wrong person. It is however, very likely that you have a number of soul mates out there who can make your online life feel more like home. You might never meet them unless you were online. This section discusses chatrooms, lurking, netiquette, instant messaging, online dating, emoticons, acronyms, chat shorthand and even an interesting section on Japanese emoticons.

5. Do you have your own Web site? The authors have summarized the basics. These are all concepts I learned by trial and error. I'll agree, FrontPage is amazing. Chapter 14 explains the basics of web programming Languages. HTML, WML, HDML, XML and JavaScript all make their appearance.

6. Want to go Wireless? Read about how you can wear your computer or buy a smartphone.

7. Starting a Business? Read the chapters on Internet Marketing and E-Commerce.

8. Interested in Downloading Music? Read an article about the RIAA and Napster.

An Exclusive Online Guide should appear soon. You have to love books that have their own site with additional information.

"Online! The Book!" is the Official Netizen Brain Update! My little online heart also did a few flips. There is some exciting information in this book. I spent all night in a reading trance except when I was giggling over the witty lines. You can spend two years finding some of the secrets of online life, or you can just spend the evening dining on intellectual treats from "Online! The Book!"

~The Rebecca Review

 

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney

Quiet Reflection on a Noisy Planet

"Introverts are like a rechargeable battery. They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge. Extroverts are like solar panels that need the sun to recharge. Extroverts need to be out and about to refuel." ~Marti Olsen Laney

Imagine feeling alone in a crowd, preferring a quiet corner to the limelight and feeling overwhelmed by phones, parties and office meetings. Do people often think you are shy, aloof or antisocial? If you are an introvert, you are going to completely relate to a variety of comments that are like fireworks going off in recognition of truth. Introverts can hide their talents and only show them in certain situations.

Through reading this wonderful and often humorous book, you will be assured that nothing is wrong with you. In fact, there is a connection between Introversion and Intelligence.

What is fascinating is how Marti Olsen Laney explains how introverts create energy in the opposite way extroverts do. I'm often drained of all energy after being with people for extended periods of time, but being with a book can set me on fire with creativity and energy. I can handle small groups and connecting with familiar faces can actually energize me, but after three hours, I want to find a more peaceful setting.

This book helped me understand why I have deeper thoughts when I'm by myself than in a group setting. People seem to not know who I am in the "real-world," but online, I have found a place to show my true self. This is apparently because introverts are more comfortable with writing than speaking in public.

Are You an Introvert?

Are you detail oriented yet details in public spaces overwhelm you?
Do you prefer small parties with intimate friends?
Do you avoid crowds?
Would you rather be reading books in bed in your pajamas?
Do you get tired when you are around people, but energized when alone?
Do you feel guilty about having to "limit" your social experiences so you can survive?

Does your mind sometimes go blank in group situations?
Do you dislike being interrupted in the middle of a project?

The author has divided her comments into three main sections. First you find out if you really are an introvert, then you discover how to navigate the extrovert world. The last section explains how you can create the perfect life by "extroverting." This is just another way of saying that an introvert can also shine their light out into the world.

After reading the list of famous introverts, you will see similarities in their personalities. The author also gives a list of movies to add to your "must-see" list. Marti also spends time seeking the in-depth answers to brain chemistry. You will also find out if you are a Right or Left-Brained Introvert.

Then onward to "dating." The "Relationships: Face the Music and Dance" chapter shows how personality types collide, how to meet the challenge and then how to appreciate the differences. Even by reading the chapter on Parenting, I started to understand extroverts in a new way. I find extroverts to be fascinating, yet at times they overwhelm my cozy-sit-in-the-corner cat nature with their tiger tactics. Extroverts just seem so aggressive at times. The world can look a little threatening and a party can be overwhelming.

I love the author's ideas about how to be a sea anemone at a party. I've survived many parties with this tactic. If you are worried about what to say at a party, Marti gives plenty of solutions in the form of openers, sustainers, transitions and closers. Then she dives into the hazards from 9 to 5. This chapter will also shed some light on your personal relationships. Ok, by the time I read "Pack Your Survival Kit" this book had been more than helpful. These tips alone will encourage you to create a more peaceful planet.

"The Introvert Advantage" is an encouraging book for anyone who has felt the pain of being an introvert in an extrovert world. Marti Olsen Laney also shows how it can be equally painful and unfulfilling to remain in a state of seclusion. Through reading thoughtful segments on a daily basis, you can finally start to find balance in your daily existence.

This is a must-read book for all Introverts and the people who love them. The author has a comfortable writing style and you will feel "at home" and find yourself "completely" relating to her experiences. It is rare to find a book where you just fall in love with an author's personality. She is cute, witty and intellectual too. Finally someone out there understands! The author has really done her research.

Highly recommended. Add this book to your Top Ten must-read books this year. After all, it will help you understand 25% of the population.

~The Rebecca Review, A Right-brained "mostly" Introvert (INFP) and proud of it.

 

Women of the Forest by Yolanda Murphy

Classic Study of Brazil's Mundurucu' Indians

"In the morning we sat behind our house drinking coffee and watching the mists rising from the hillside in thin tendrils that were said by the Indians (who knew that it was really mist) to be the campfire of a mythical inambu bird. And the evenings often closed in brilliant, iridescent sunsets, kaleidoscopes of shifting colors. It was an enchanted land existing in a distant place and peopled by descendants of a remote age. To enter it was to step through the looking glass."

What would it be like to be a woman living in the Brazilian Amazon Basin? What if you lived in the moment, survival being a daily challenge? How would you set up your life so you had the support you needed when a man walked out of your life leaving you to care for his children? The women in the Amazon have it all figured out. In the first four pages you see the exotic beauty and undeniable reality of life.

The authors were a newly married couple when they first walked into a Mundurucu village in 1952. This book was written in the 70s and explains life from the perspective of a female anthropologist. Yolanda spent time with the women who accepted her as a friend and sister. Robert spent time with the men and learned about the ways they felt towards the women and how seriously they took their religious beliefs. This book really does include both sides, but has a definite focus on women.

This is a fascinating study of how the Mundurucu women humor the "mythically dominant" males, how they care for their men and how they survive when their marriages don't work out. It is a story about how women have found a way to survive by bonding with other women and sticking together through life.

When you read this book you realize how universal women really are. They all seem to basically want the same thing. You have to laugh when you read how the women encourage their husbands to work harder so they can buy new clothes and are even quite willing to do the work themselves. In fact, from this book, it does appear both sexes are working rather hard all day long just to survive. Afternoon naps are however a necessity because of the heat.

This story is also a beautiful look at survival. Of how men and women depend on one another to meet their basic needs. In the Mundurucu society, women and men took on various roles and responsibilities although the women tended to do most of the menial tasks and raised the children. Sound familiar? Well life is changing all over the world and by the end of this book, you can see how the Mundurucu Indians have already adapted to change.

Contents:

Woman's Day
The Land and the People
Mundurucu Culture
Women in Myth and Symbol
The Woman's World
Women and Married Life
Women and Social Change
Women and Men

The work of Yolanda and Robert Murphy encourages an understanding of women's lives in the non-Western world. It focuses on gender relations and the social roles women play in the Amazon forest. Yolanda explains how the women rear their children, take care of their husbands, form groups to complete tasks and keep control of their lives even in difficult situations. There are descriptions of bathing in rivers, preparing foods, gardening, feasts, childcare, rubber collection and all sorts of interesting facts about the lives of the Mundurucu people.

While I thought this book would be only focusing on the women, the second chapter surprised me with information about the land and there are a few maps. There is also plenty of information about the men and what they desire, miss about the older cultures and how they even laugh and say that the homes really do belong to the women and in some areas the men live in a "men's house." There is information about hunting trips and the crafts the men work on in their spare time.

The processing of the manioc plant will interest anyone who has ever cooked tapioca. The myths are entertaining and it was interesting to read their version of the Adam and Eve story.

A widely read and beautifully written classic study of Brazil's Mundurucu Indians.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Simply Irresistible DVD ~Sarah Michelle Gellar

Kitchen Bewitching

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. ~Elsa Schiaparelli

Sarah Michelle Gellar's softer side appears as she picks up the batterie de cuisine and tackles saving a restaurant from certain death. When it looks like Amanda's career is about to end as a chef, an angel appears in her life and gives her some sage advice about looking for a door that will open when another one closes. As the chef of a failing 70 year-old restaurant, the Southern Cross, she only has her loyal clientele who are not there for the food.

To say she is adorable as a chef is an understatement. She appears in a variety of fashionable outfits and weaves a sweet innocent spell on the viewer. Worth watching to see Sarah dressed up in a variety of outfits and different hairstyles.

There are also scenes of outdoor markets, beautiful orchids and of course restaurant scenes, Sarah shopping, cooking and crawling about on the floor chasing after magical crabs all to romantic music.

Instead of slaying vampires, "Buffy" bewitches Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery) and entices love right into her life through cooking a variety of gourmet dishes. If every man has his weakness, Tom's weakness is luscious cuisine.

"She can cook things that make you crazy." ~Tom

As every kitchen sorceress has discovered, the right food can create the right mood and can invite happiness and love into your life. I loved the dance scene and the scene where Tom and Amanda disappear into the scented mist. This movie emphasizes the aphrodisiac qualities of food.

Amanda Shelton (Sarah) only discovers her true cooking talents after meeting Tom. At first she seems unaware of her current fate while Tom seems to be trying to control his fate. He is disturbed by his lack of emotional control and when he falls "in love" with Amanda, his world seems to be spinning out of control.

"My whole life was ordinary and then we met and these amazing things started to happen." ~Amanda

Is it love that makes Amanda a better cook and makes her cooking taste even better to Tom? Are their senses in a state of heightened awareness from the chemicals rushing through their bodies or is there magic floating about? Once she finds a recipe for caramel ťclairs, Tom is even more attracted to her.

There are very few movies about cooking or chefs so this one is a treat. Teardrops in the food reminded me of Like Water for Chocolate. The emotions Amanda feels are somehow magically mixed into the food she is cooking. Either the dishes make people cry, stun them or make them lose their inhibitions. She seems to have a magical gift for culinary creations that have an effect on anyone who consumes them.

Is the orchid plant in this movie the "Oncidium Sharry Baby?" It did look similar, although I can't say for sure. Some people say it has a fruity vanilla scent and not really a chocolate scent. Most types of vanilla do not produce the vanilla beans. If you wanted to cook with flowers, you would want to make sure that the flowers you added to your cooking were edible. Orchid flowers are apparently edible.

Vanilla beans are the cigar-shaped seedpods from a climbing orchid and the pods must be picked, boiled and heated in the sun. It literally takes months to produce the delicious vanilla flavor. It actually takes 100 beans to make 1 gallon of vanilla extract. If you love vanilla extract, you might also enjoy: Fiori di Sicilia flavoring for your baking.

After watching this movie you may want to feed your lover oranges, invest in some expensive vanilla extract, get lost in a kiss or cook up some bliss. If you are looking for the best vanilla for your cooking, Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla is superior.

Deliciously cute, silly spells, sweet innocent love and a few hot and steamy kissing scenes in the kitchen. For romantics and lovers of kitchens and cuisine. Almost a culinary Cinderella story. 

~The Rebecca Review

P.S. If you need a recipe for the caramel iced ťclairs to entice someone with, e-mail me from my site.  

Recipe Link

   

Responses: 

I have been looking for the recipe on how to make those wonderful looking caramel things. I haven't been able to find them anywhere. Could you please send me the recipe. I would greatly appreciate it. ~S. 

I have been dying to have that ťclair recipe for years!!! Could you please e-mail it to me??? ~H. 

Please send me the recipe for the ťclairs. I have my entire office craving these and cannot watch Simply Irresistible without eating sweets. ~A. 


Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Voluptuousness of Italian life

"I thought I was strange to feel this way. Since I've met so many people who read Under the Tuscan Sun, I've found out that lots of people feel this way. It's complicated but feels so very easy. The warmth of the people, the human scale of the towns, the robust food, yes, but I've begun to think, too, that it's the natural connection with art, the natural exposure to beauty on a day-to-day basis." -Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes presents a sensual celebration of Tuscany with hypnotic descriptions of culinary bliss and everyday rituals on long days when she savors the sun. This is creative writing heaven! She is not only a best-selling author, widely published poet and gourmet cook; she is also a travel writer who can describe lands and culture in sensuous and evocative language.

Halfway into the book, I became heady with the desire to just run away to Tuscany. I want to write like her, I want to think like her, I am intoxicated by her creativity.

I first fell in love with creative writing when my teacher in Africa explained metaphors to me. It is no wonder I have just completely fallen in love with Frances Mayes writing style. I also discovered she is a creative writing professor at San Francisco State University and has directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing.

Frances first started visiting Tuscany when she was fresh out of college. In 1985, she rented a farmhouse for the first time and enjoyed going to the local markets to buy suntan lotion and culinary specialties. After this visit, she and Ed rented various farmhouses around Tuscany and finally decided to buy Bramasole.

Frances Mayes gives a vivid and compelling account of how she bought and started restoring this farmhouse in Tuscany. "Under the Tuscan Sun" is really an outgrowth of the diary she kept about her experiences when she first moved to Italy.

She sees homes as metaphors for the self and gives herself to decorating and renovating them with a certain passion. "The houses that are important to us," she writes, "are the ones that allow us to dream in peace."

In sumptuous detail, Frances Mayes describes her home and Italy like a delicate poem as she balances enjoyment of life with responsibility to finishing an extensive renovation. Her writing shows she is most at home in Italy and enjoys immersing herself in words that describe her private escape. She is living the fantasy and sharing every delicious bit of her joy in this fascinating memoir.

I love her observations about life. While they sometimes have little to do with Tuscany, they are enlightening. Through gorgeous descriptions, she says: "Life is beautiful, take deep breathes, enjoy food and pleasure." Through intimate reflection, she considers how life changes so we can go forward in our thinking.

She writes about tours of ancient churches and towns, fig-pollinating wasps, the ancient tile roof, books with blue leather binding, art, festivals, walks through the piazza, gardens and even gives us her precious recipes.

Then she continues to describe lush fruits, vegetables, and flowers, olive groves, orchards, and vineyards violet blue hazes, pelting rain, green landscapes, olive oil, hot waterfalls, olive wood fires, cool walks through chestnut forests, blood oranges, jars of plum jam, mascarpone custard, cherries, bees burrowing in pears, pecorino cheese, fertile earth rich as chocolate cake, wild strawberries, white peaches, fresh herbs and baskets for picking tomatoes.

Thankfully I had some fruit cobbler and pecorino in the refrigerator or I would have gone half mad not being able to taste fruit and cheese after listening to the completely delicious descriptions.

She also vividly captures a humorous moment when she has cement poured all over her head and gives a hilarious recounting of her first wall-building endeavor. She paints evocative descriptions of nearby Cortona, thinks about Elizabeth David's recipe for peach marmalade and considers passages from books by Henry James and D.H. Lawrence. Her knowledge of the world is impressive and fascinating. I even learned an interesting and amusing fact about James Joyce.

I'm going to admit that a few times while listening to the unabridged version narrated by Barbara Caruso, the writing was so beautiful I was at times overwhelmed. I believe many of us feel a deep need to live in an almost rural community where people actually care about their neighbors or at least talk to them. Frances is now an honorary citizen of the town.

At the end, she starts to talk about her life growing up in the South and focuses on religion and even makes a few observations about the sensual life and afternoon naps. There are moments throughout the book when she stops to compare her Californian and past Georgian existence with this Italian paradise.

While some may say this is domestic sensuality at its best, I think it is love. Love for the land, love of food and love of life. Frances Mayes sees beauty in life and this book will be equally loved by those who also share the desire to find beauty in the simplicity of existence. Many have read this book and have changed their lives. The descriptions of life that moves at a slower pace, has the power to make you want to leave America fast and arrive in Tuscany early.

Read or listen and then plan your escape! I've just printed out information about a farmhouse in Tuscany. I shall continue to dream. I'm also going to go make some Biscotti!

A lyrical account of a love affair with Italy you will never forget.

This review is for the unabridged recorded book version narrated by Barbara Caruso.

~The Rebecca Review

 

Feeding the Media Beast: An Easy Recipe for Great Publicity by Mark E. Mathis

Mysterious Media or Predictable Publicity

Mark Mathis has a wicked sense of wit and connects immediately with the reader by first building up your self-confidence and then taking you deep into the mind of the Media Beast. He dispels the myth of unpredictability and guides you through the publicity process.

Feeding the Media Beast is a extremely well organized book. First the author tells you what he is going to present to you and the proceeds to deliver a delicious array of pithy comments, witty remarks, insightful solutions, examples you can relate to, concise descriptions and snappy quotes. This book is well researched and to the point.

The text is snappy and fresh and the author often displays an uncommon perspective. He presents unique ideas on conveying information and shows you how to use this highly potent marketing machine to promote your product or idea.

I was rather impressed with how succinctly and honestly Mark Mathis describes the Media Beast and its voracious appetites. He shows you exactly how to serve up a story the beast won't be able to resist. In fact, he says it is quite predictable.

"When a Media Leader latches onto your story, big things are bound to happen."

So, how exactly do you get the Media Beast to pay attention and hunger for your
information? It seems that once you understand the nature of the beast, you can follow twelve simple rules to success.

Mark Mathis has worked as a television reporter, columnist and talk radio host. In the past few years, he has been teaching the Media Rules. These rules include the Rule of Difference, Emotion, Simplicity, Preparation, Easy, Repetition, Resource, Invention, Timing, Ego, Balance, Ambush.

You might be especially intrigued by how he answers the following questions:

1. Why do reporters seem to have a worldview that differs from the general population?
2. Why do reporters tend to support liberal positions?
3. Where do journalists come from?
4. Why is the most popular news often irrelevant to your community?
5. How do you make a reporter care about your story?
6. Are you prepared to give an interview?
7. Do you know what the Media Beast wants for dinner?
8. Is bad publicity avoidable?
9. How can you get reporters to call you for your expert opinions?
10. How do you avoid the traps even PR professionals fall into?

Mark Mathis explores all angles, highlights simple truth and elaborates with anecdotes that will often make you laugh. You will learn how to make a difference in the world, create a compelling message and utilize DES (difference, emotion and simplicity).

Feeding the Media Beast is for anyone who views the news, produces the news, wants to be in the news or has been burned by the news.

Fear the Beast no more!
Even if he is knocking at your door!  

~The Rebecca Review

 

Amelie DVD ~ Audrey Tautou

Compulsively Comic

This is a French romantic comedy set in Paris and almost told as a fairy tale. Is this a postmodern version of Cinderella? Close, perhaps, but the slipper seems to be a picture. Yes, you get to actually see places in Paris you might have visited. I was especially delighted for that reason.

I don't remember the last time I laughed so much while watching a movie. In fact, maybe it was when watching "What About Bob." Which proves psychological hilarity does appeal to my sense of humor to the extreme.

First you have two obsessive-compulsive parents who never fully develop into characters you can admire or dislike. They simply exist in this movie as some sort of semblance of balance for the dysfunctional life Amelie (Audrey Tautou) has woven her fragile existence between until her parents are torn apart by death. For the first part of her life, she is not shown normal affection and finally retreats into her own imagination. Deprived of love and basic childhood pleasures, like friends, Amelie lacks social skills in various areas, while she seems to survive working as a waitress in an eccentric cafť.

One day her life changes. She is watching the news and is so shocked by the revelation she drops something that rolls to a bathroom tile, that reveals a hidden treasure. She vows to return the treasure to the original owner.

There is something beautiful about Amelie's character. She embodies an innocence long forgotten and therefore her vindictive side in regards to the corner grocer will have you rolling on the floor. The man (Mathieu Kassovitz) she falls for is of course even more eccentric than she is and well, he works in a place that might not delight you and there are a few seconds here and there of adult naughtiness. They could have left out the dancer and the shop where he works because technically those items are not really woven well into the story. A more hilarious view is taken of sex in this movie and there are no serious love scenes to be sure. His character is not fully developed and they focus more on Amelie's life and longings.

Amelie sees herself as an angel/avenger. Half the time she is helping the eccentric characters find their way to happiness, while the hilarity comes from her attempts to "teach" other rather rude characters a good lesson. Then Amelie sends her father's garden gnome all over the world and this inspires him to travel. She seems to inspire others to follow their dreams.

In the process she discovers that having heart only shows her half the real picture in life. She needs a soul mate to complete her. Being the completely innocent character she is, she would of course find someone who is rather a nonconformist in a way. He spends some of his time collecting torn up pictures from a photo booth and is seeking to solve the mystery of his life. Who is the man who keeps appearing to have his picture taken?

Watch for a moment of pure spectacular creativity when water splashes all over the floor. There are artistic moments of bliss in this movie!

Nostalgic in places and poignant scenes that will catch you off guard as you find yourself suddenly crying and maybe relating to Amelie in some intimate way as you realize that you too have had dreams that didn't always come true just when you wanted them to.

Completely modern movie making and has academic nuances here and there to delight the poet in you. A cozy Parisian Soundtrack is included to match.

A similar experience to watching Moulin Rouge because you have an intense desire to watch this over and over again. I think it is just so visually stimulating and the details can hardly be absorbed in one viewing.

A feel good movie that leaves you with a sense that
there is still beauty and sweet innocence left somewhere in the world.

Or maybe that is just a fantasy.  

~The Rebecca Review

 

The Best Recipe by Editors of Cookís Illustrated Magazine

I find something new each time I read this amazing book!

This is not only a book for those who love to be entertained, it is also for those who love to cook and want to make their cooking the best it can be. Christopher Kimball is one of the great researchers of our time. His attention to detail is remarkable. As an aspiring cookbook author myself, I see this book as an example of how recipes should be written. My favorite sections are the detailed scientific and descriptive essays, which are intriguing and entertaining to read. Not only did this book help me decide which barbecue grill to purchase.

The information on chocolate is extremely accurate. This is the first book I reach for when I have a cooking question or want to validate my beliefs. You could say this is my cooking Bible. I also like the fact that there is a website and a real author you can actually write to. The website also gives the option to purchase individual recipes. I find it refreshing to find that the author is interested in his readership and really does want you to have success the first time you make a recipe. Thank you Mr. Kimball for helping us clarify the technical details and solve the cooking confusion. I can't wait for the next book.  

~The Rebecca Review 

 

 


Addicted to Adventure

 

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the 
winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

Publishers have told me books sell better even after one review posts at Amazon. Many books donít even have a review and that means there is a great demand for reviews.

 

Reviews Causing a Surge in Rank?

Now and then I pay attention to book ranks and have noticed definite surges in rank just because a review was posted at a location needing a review. Publishers agree that a review helps sales. I think a negative or positive review helps.

Sometimes I see sales rank jump dramatically after I post a review. One book went from Rank 145,053 to 140,738 within a few hours and then jumped to 70,685. 

The next time (a few days later) I checked the book was ranked in the 20,000 range. Either the author was promoting their book like crazy (she is famous, but the book was written a while ago) or the review I posted encouraged sales. I loved the book and my love for the book seems to have inspired purchases. It may have helped that I featured the book on the first page of my site and that I put a quote about the book in my about-your-area.

Authors and publishers have told me that my reviews help the sales rank. I also think a good thorough review can encourage an author simply because they received some positive feedback. There is power in being positive. Book rank can now change by the hour...fun to check up on books to see how they are doing. 



Catalogs

We do, in fact, have a catalog we can send you. ~T.

Here is our catalog. Take a look at our books and please contact me to receive any review copies you would like to review. ~J.

 

 

Publishers

I admire your passion for things around you and your willingness to share this passion with others. Iím writing to inquire if you would allow me, as an employee at a book publisher, to send books you might enjoy. As I am not the author of the books I send to you, this is a slightly different position. If you are open to receiving a few books from us (or many, if you can handle it), let me know which genres you prefer. ~T.

 

Reviewing One Item at a Time

Iím reviewing quite fast in comparison to most reviewers and yet there are some books that have to be reviewed at the right moment.

Here are two authors who are glad I waited to review their books:

Just when I had almost given up on seeing your review for my two books, there they were! They were well worth waiting for. You write with such sensitivity and caring. Your reviews are truly seasoned with love. ~M.

I just wanted to thank you for your glowing review of my novel. Honestly, it has been so long since Iíd heard from you that Iíd pretty much given up on it ever happeningÖso imagine my surprise when your review appeared on Amazon.com and I got your letter on the same day. Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments. Iím very grateful, and honored to be included in your growing list of reviews! ~A.



After two interviews in prominent newspapers, I became swamped with books and had never expected I would receive that many books all at once.

Publishers and authors came calling. For a few months I felt overwhelmed by the experience, but soon learned to developed a system for answering e-mail and set up information at my site.

By putting up a list of items I was interested in reviewing, I cut down requests to about 5 a day and started to receive books on a regular basis. 

 

Including Books at My Site

Iím so glad youíve enjoyed the Love book so much. I am particularly thrilled with how you get the playfulness of the book. Your written dialogue with the book is exactly how I hope readers will interact with it. Thatís terrific and gives me much joy! Thank you so much for including my books on your site Ė thatís quite an honor Ė I know there are many good books out thereÖ~C.


Review Requests

Iíd much appreciate it if you would review my recent book, which Iíve enclosed. Like thousands of other Amazon.com users, Iíve enjoyed your reviews and found them very helpful. ~R.

In the next three months, were planning to come out with a new book. I will definitely send you a copy to review once some galleys are available. ~M.

 

Responses about the site

I am really impressed at how your website is evolving. You are doing an amazing service with your work. I wish you an exciting year ahead, filled with rich experiences, great movies/books/music, and success in all your ventures. ~L.

Iím pleased with how youíve been able to develop a recognized, quality review site. May we link to your site for those customers/readers who are interested in reading good reviews? ~V.

I found your website online and was genuinely impressed. I've never seen anything like it and the seriousness and care you put into your work is evident throughout. ~J. 

 

The Horror of Book Stamping

First, I wanted to say I agree with you about book stamping. What a horrid thing to do to a book. Fortunately, the big time publishers avoid this habit. I did receive one of the ďWow A Review CopyĒ and thoughtÖ the poor book. It is annoying to read a book with black lines flashing on the edge of the page. I notice this because I actually read the entire book and I can hardly stand the black writing across the white page. ~J.

I would like to ask publishers and authors to consider the damage you do to a book when you stamp it. I mean, the poor book is right. It not only creates a negative first impression, you canít give the book away as a gift or pass it along to other readers. Stamping a book is like a book death sentence.

Reviewers hate this and Iím very happy I havenít seen a stamped book in years. One time a sticker was placed over important information in a book and while stickers are better than stamping on the pages, it was still annoying.

 

Returning Books

I normally send back books or donate them to my local library if I canít give at least a three star review because I donít see the point of promoting books under three stars.

 

Asking for Books

Do you know how someone of the Catholic faith feels if they get an opportunity to meet the Pope? They become overwhelmed with excitement, and yet at the same time they are extremely self-conscious of their own worthiness due to their sins. This is also how an author feels when someone associated with Amazon offers to review their book. Apparently, Rebecca, I didnít know this until I received your email. I would be very grateful if you reviewed my book. ~B.

 

Book Promotion Agents

We understand that you review books for Amazon. We do promotion for various publishers and authors, including for a number of cooking, parenting, self-help, nutrition, exercise and childrenís books. Let us know if any of these titles interest you, and where they should be sent. ~S.

 

Can I quote you?

Just saw your Amazon review. Thanks so much! I will add your blurb to the book! ~S.

 

Will you read my review?


I love and appreciate all your book reviews on Amazon. Recently you did a marvelous review of a poetry book. I do not know if you ever comment on customer reviews, but if you do or would care to; I thought I would ask if you could take a peek at the customer review I wrote.

Understandably, you may be far to busy and loaded down with book reviews to have time for this, and if not able to do so, or you do not do this at all, I will understand completely. Just thought Iíd ask.

Will keep reading your splendid and always candid reviews, so keep up the great work. So glad youíre such an outstanding reviewer on Amazon. ~V.

 

Authors asking me to review PDF files

I have so far refused to review books on the computer since it is difficult to sit for such a long time starring at the screen. I prefer to read in bed, on the couch or anyplace but in front of the computer.

 

 

Thoughts I've Had on Occasion



Reading vs. Reviewing

Readers will often ask if I read a book when I review it. What type of question is this?

Reviewing is a process by which you analyze what you are reading. You think more about what you are reading when you review, therefore you may remember more so you can apply various principles to your life. Books change your life one word at a time.

 

Reviewing at Amazon

People naturally want to share what they love. The everyday reader is the buyer and people tend to trust their friendís opinions. You get to know a reviewerís tastes and preferences and you start to trust their opinions. At times reviews do seem to be a genuine display of appreciation and customer loyalty. Customers value the reviews and appreciate the instant access to information.


Cooking

To everything you cook, add a dash of love.

 

Happiness

Happiness is a feeling of love radiating from your soul. 



Interesting People

Interesting people are concerned with the intricacies of existence.

 

Parenting

Tell your children you love them, that you are proud of them, and that they are the most important people in our life. Tell them you will always love them, no matter what happens.



Turning Hate into Love

Hatred can have deep roots, but truly beautiful flowers only grow in the warm soil of love. Iíve always believed that if someone hurts you, either intentionally or by mistake, the best thing you can do is to bless them with kindness. In that way, you stop the negative influence of their words or actions. This is difficult to put into practice, but rewarding when you observe the power of the positive choice.

 

Online Life

It is quite possible that complexity is born online when you are an introvert. Iím definitely an introvert and my world is enlivened by words.

 

 

Life goals

Do something big to connect with other people who want to end world hunger. 


Sponsor a World Vision child


Visit Europe


I want to live in a beautiful home with a pool and an apple tree in 
the backyard. The yard will also be filled with lavender plants so
the scent will waft through the office window. 


Plant lavender on my deck


Take more vacations by the sea


Train to be a massage therapist


Take more computer classes 


Build a website about reviewing


Review everything I own 


Help more authors by reading their books and reviewing them at Amazon


Nurture my spiritual life through reading more spiritual books


Start my own bookstore/bakery

Exercise more and moreÖ(Reviewing my way to fitness...)


Finish the SWL cookbook

♥ = accomplished

 


Voices from the Rainforest

 

 

 

Comprehend the size and vastness of your destiny. 
Commit to the highest expression of who you are. ~Robert Shahidi

 

As I write this, I'm celebrating six years of reviewing. There are over 200 books on my shelves and my wishlist doesn't even represent my voracious appetite for books. I have moved all my books to tag lists. 

Recently I worked my way through all my reviews to remember what I wrote years ago and to rediscover some of the items now buried under thousands of reviews. How many Amazon finds will I encounter next year? What will my favorite authors be writing in 2007? 

As I worked my way through reviews, many of the products said: "no title available" or products had been moved to various locations and products were updated, book names changed. I posted reviews at new locations and cleaned up my review list, leaving me with significantly less reviews than when I started. But it was worth the effort to traverse the Amazon landscape again. I had 3333 reviews and ended up with 2910 and then I erased more, added some and continued on. Some reviews no longer represented how I felt about the world. I was amazed at how much I had changed and like a diary, the reviews gave insight into the reasons for the changes. 

 



Like an online journal, reviews are my blogs, my memory of bibliomania finds or casual discoveries. Will life ever slow down so I can spend more time savoring the intricacies of experience or will I dive again into another river of books, the ever changing exciting world of new discoveries? 

Books sent to me by authors, books found on the dusty shelves of an old bookstore in an ancient town, books rescued from library sale rooms. I will admit to occasionally buying books from an eccentric bookstore, finding books while on a vacation or buying a book at the grocery store. Most of the books I want to read are now on Tag lists at Amazon, waiting to be discovered and reviewed. Now and then I will read a book slowly for an entire week, savoring each moment. I sometimes long for a real Amazon store, a place where I can go and pick up books off the shelves. Although I must say, Amazon.com is like a virtual "Miracle on 34th Street." If they don't have an item, they direct you to a website that carries the product. Such are the wonders of Amazon, the site that I love. 

Tagging is my newest way to organize a wealth of information. If you love to cook, there are gourmet foods galore and tag lists to add all your favorite finds for future purchases. Favorite genres, no problem. Tag lists are a reader's dream come true. Here are some of the ways to use tags: 

Guides - to organize books or collections of specific items like kitchen essentials.

Lists - To Buy in the future, one has to have hope. 

Gift Guides

Fun Projects - Like a tea party or woodworking or a redecorating project

Weekend Trips - Travel lists

Online Cataloging System - Books you have already can be organized according to category. Helpful when
you want to tell friends about a book you loved and want to introduce them to more authors. 

Organizing Reviews - Easier to find items you reviewed when they appear on a list. 

Lifestyle Guides - Like culinary therapy or sweet sleep and relaxation. 

Books Recommended by Friends - Now I finally have a place to put all those books I am supposed to be reading and discussing with friends. 

Favorite Things - Chocolates! I love vanilla, chocolate, cats, hearts, love themes, things that look pretty in pink. 

Dreams - Ideas for the future

Hobbies - Exercising and cooking...

Author Themes - Some books fit into specific themes like changing the world or a high level of creative thinking. 

Life Changes - Marriage, parenting, taking care of aging parents. So many books on subjects that are
more than self-help selections. 

Personal Care - Lists of items you keep buying

Holidays - Keep items in a list to buy during favorite holidays. Great idea for Christmas shopping. 

To Read List - Numerous ideas here...

To Review - You can keep private lists of items you want to review. 

Cooking - Cookbooks, food writing...

Magazine Subscription Lists 

Nurturing Themes - indulgences, creature comforts

Fashions - Clothes through time or the latest clothes you want to buy for the next season

Ideas for Creativity - Office, journaling, crafts, knitting...

Music - beautiful voices, healing music, music collections

Psychology and Self-Help Themes

Making a Gift Basket 

Life Enhancement - Life balance and life purpose

Spirituality

Memories

Moods

Technology Watch 

 

Tags are beyond useful. It feels like you can finally organize your mind! 

While I was looking through my reviews I happened upon an old review for a fountain and found another reviewer saying: "How many fountains does Rebecca have on her desk?" I laugh, he is writing from New York and has declared that I am now selling fountains on eBay. I'm not sure why I would be reviewing the item at Amazon if that is the case, but continue on...

Over time, I watch artists rise to the top of the charts, relationship books come and go, the newest find climb to the top of the ranks. Authors write me to tell me they are moving because Hurricane Katrina destroyed their house. Books seem filled with memories of Sept 11th. By reviewing I feel even more connected to the world and to the ever changing landscape of time. Authors write me to explain a new book project, a reviewer checks in to explain the newest glitch or hot topic on the discussion board. A long lost friend from college writes to say they just found out I wrote a book because they visited my site. 

If I'm happy I write reviews. If I'm sad I write reviews. Some say I'm too positive, but they have not seen me crying while writing a review. Others claim a positive approach changed their way of thinking. I review no matter my mood, even when angry. Reviewing has a soothing effect on me and reading is an escape from moods into magic. 

I head to the discussion board to find out about the latest news. Amazon.com is my virtual home and passion. I may be The Rebecca Review, but I am very real. Even Harriet (the former #1 reviewer) is real, she wrote me a few times after we appeared together in a magazine article. I remember thinking there was no way anyone who posted so many reviews could be just one person. But I've proved it to myself over the years. I scribbled a note to myself: "Posted 94 reviews on March 26, 2006." I didn't write all of them in one day. 

I ordered a few items recently and soon a little box will arrive and I will transform the shopping experience into a review. This is life, I feel more real because I review. I want to make life less ordinary and more extraordinary. Reviewing can be a lifestyle! 

When you start to make your passion your way of life, there is an immediate and passionate response from the world. Here are a few of my favorite responses, positive and negative: 

Connection

Your writing connects readers to a workís pure essence, peeling back layers, and revealing heart and the purpose beneath. Your passion for communication is inspiring. ~L.

 

Gift

I loved the review you wrote on my book Ė not only because it was positive but because it was extremely sensitive and insightful. You have an incredible gift for identifying and extracting the essence of a book. ~B.

 

Capturing the Essence

You truly have a wonderful talent. Iíve never seen anyone else who has the ability of distilling and writing about the book as you do. You captured the essence and spirit of the book as well as its relationship to our lives. ~J.

 

Can I send a ďSecond Book?Ē

I really appreciate the review you did on my first book. Would you mind if I sent you my second book to review. I should have copies in about two weeks and I can forward you one.

 

Connection

Your review was excellent and well written. You showed a strong understanding of the issues. I appreciate that very much. ~J.

 

Writing before Buying

I read your review and was thinking of buying, but I would like to know some information before I buy it. Does the CD have background music or is it just nature sounds, because some come with music. Please tell me so I know before I buy the product. ~C.



Book Cover Blurbs

I would be very grateful for your review. It would also be great if I could be allowed to insert some of your comments on the back of the book cover. ~R.

 

Free Books

Thanks for your support! Here are some extra copies for you to give away. Enjoy! ~T.

 

The Swamp Factor

Thank you in advance for your consideration for reviewing this book. We understand you are swamped, but it is also evident that you love what you do. ~D.

 

Interviews

Iím a fellow Amazon.com reviewer. I just happened to notice you were in the Wall Street Journal. Congratulations on a well-spoken interview. I manage communications professionally, and you handled one of the major players as well as any of my oft-interviewed clients. ~T.


Bibliophile Conversions

Just a short note to say thank you for your wonderful expose on a couple of books about books & book loversí reviews. I am a bibliophile and it is wonderful to read that others share my joy. I donít know how anyone could read your comments/love of books and not CONVERT IMMEDIATELY!  ~T.


More Conversions

I must admit, that as a natural-born cynic, I started out not liking you much, but you have converted me. You are the most forthrightly positive person Iíve ever encountered, and as such, you have influenced me to become more forthright and positive myself. Iím intuitively an optimist, anyway, so it was not such a major sea-change. But your missives have mastered me, and I can no longer resist their allure. Iím a pro-whatever guy now, thanks to you. ~B.

 

Lost Souls (but not really)


I just wanted to say I love your site. Itís so warm and inviting. I lost myself here for over an hour. LOL  I will be back to check out how to write your own cook book since that is exactly what I am trying to do. ~ K.

I spent half an hour wandering around your web site Ė very impressive! You are an eloquent writer and very enjoyable to read. Your writing has a graceful flow to it that evades most writers. I imagine also that part of it is your attitude towards life that permeates your words. You are clearly a giving, optimistic person, and it shows even in a review of a non-fiction book or your letters to your editor. Best of luck with your new cookbook. (Have you ever thought of writing fiction?)  ~ S.  


Recipe Success

I was able to access your recipe for madeleines when I was searching through Amazon.com looking for a non-stick pan with Madeleine shapes. I ordered three of the pans for mini-madeleines and followed your recipe. I was able to make 100 madeleines. They are really mini bite size and I had to use a teaspoon to fill the molds with batter. They worked well. Thank you for the recipe. ~ M.

 

Sweetest Comment Ever

I l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-v-e      YOU;
because you are so acquainted with love. ~ A.

 

Not So Sweet Comment 

How sad that you must have nothing important in your life that all you 
do is sit at your computer and write reviews all the time. 
Reviews about mints???????????? What a sad existence you must lead. 

To read negative comments I have received: Heard It All Before Page

 

Author Response

Thanks for the gorgeous review! You made the book look irresistible. Also love the WSJ article about you. ~D.

 

Writing

You write beautifully and are so generous with your praise. Your review brought tears to my eyes and then a few lines later I was squealing with delight. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my book and then to write so eloquently about it. ~C.

 

Contribution

I have seen your reviews and want to commend you on the wonderful service you are bringing to the many authors who truly need what you are contributing. ~B.

 

Music

Iíve enjoyed your reviews on Amazon.com. I know your focus isnít particularly on music, but with your interest in healing and metaphysics, you may be interested in reviewing the enclosed newly released CD. ~L.

 

University

Hello Rebecca. I am a student at the University of ______ and I am trying to cite a review in a theoretical paper; I am using your opinion in it to back up my thesis. I am using the review for ""The Introvert Advantage: How to Survive in an Extroverts World,"" and I can not find your full name or a date of publication/copyright. If you could email me as soon as possible that would be much appreciated. ~B. 

Time

Your efforts are so sincere. I read several of your reviews and I believe you give authors and their books a fair assessment. But it's just amazing how many you  have written. I don't know how you find the time. ~T. 


Ideas

I have read so many of your reviews and I love your voice and your ideas are so helpful. ~K.

 

 


Mirrors of Clouds

 

 

Find something you're passionate about and 
keep tremendously interested in it. ~ Julia Child


 

 

Where do I find your cookbook? I went to Barnes & Noble and they said they couldnít order it. I would really like to have it for my collection. ~ M.

 

Site visitors started looking for Seasoned with Love: a collection of best-loved recipes inspired by over 40 cultures long before I could finish publishing (the book is still evolving but some recipes are here). My idea was to create a website and then publish the book. 

My love for cooking reaches far into my past. As a child I wanted to start cooking at age two or three. My mother always let me play with the pots and pans in the kitchen and I pretended to cook on a cardboard oven at age five.

Like many cooks, I remember learning to make cakes in an Easy Bake oven in which I made quite a number of decadent chocolate cakes (and ate them too). Leaving America to go live in Africa was heartbreaking. I had to leave my oven in America.

 

 

 

Caught trying to box up
canned goods for the needy in 1968  

 

I seemed to want to cook from a very young age and was very curious about what was going on in the kitchen.

My first real creation on a real stove was ďPuffy EggsĒ as my brother called them. More than likely it came from my curiosity to see what would happen if I used a scrambled egg mixture in an egg poaching pan.

By the time I was eleven, I was making lemon meringue pie and strawberry jam. My mother actually taught me how to make jam.

My father had visions of strawberries growing in barrels on our deck. He also worked to enrich the soil and started to grown his own tomatoes and corn. I even remember he used to make fried zucchini blossoms.

We definitely never went hungry. We could live off our garden and the chickens we raised.

 


 

Farmhouse in Africa

 

Cooking during my childhood was a matter of survival. We took food more seriously and there was less time to be inventive and create new recipes. I did find out how to make a number of basic foods and then expanded this knowledge later.

One of the best recipes Iíve ever made came from Africa. It is an apple crumble with a rum-butter sauce.

After searching through an enormous pile of papers for a recipe, I finally decided there had to be a better way to organize recipes. I spent many hours transferring my recipes onto the computer. It was then that I realized the potential for a cookbook.

The most exciting part was putting the pieces together. Along with the recipes, I provided helpful tips, historical facts and interesting stories about the foods we love. I had the idea that the perfect recipe was one you could prepare in 30 minutes or less. Most of the recipes took 15 minutes to an hour. There were exceptions, like when bread had to rise.

There was so much to learn and fortunately I met a wonderful editor who taught me about writing a cookbook. I soon realized cookbooks were the life energy of an author.

When you hold a cookbook in your hands, there is no way to imagine how many hours the author spent writing and testing recipes. I think a cookbook may be one of the most complex books to write.

Cookbooks can be an individual biography or a cultural biography. Food reminds us of people and places. My aunt and I had a good laugh when we realized that most of our family pictures are at a dinner party or celebration. My family loves to cook.

It seems that people do cook less today than they did even ten years ago. Stress and time constraints limit the time we can afford in cooking. We are all so busy living that we forget to nurture both our bodies and souls. It is part of living in our fast-paced world.

Cooking from scratch can be very therapeutic and also brings family and friends together. There is a magical bond when people start to share their cooking secrets. It is a magical gift when you receive a friendís favorite recipe. While fast food promises instant gratification, it can never replace the memories of a slow-cooked roast or the aroma of a freshly baked cake.

 

Living on a farm in Africa in 1979

 

While living in Africa, one of the most beautiful and exotic places on the planet, the scent of the warm earth was intoxicating to me. I also learned to love some of the interesting foods. We picked our own passion fruit from a vine growing wild in our yard. We drank fresh milk, raised our own chickens and fought off snakes trying to steal the eggs.

Part of the time I did live in the city, where they have incredible restaurants serving a wide variety of ethnic and local cuisines.

 

Here are some responses that told me I had better get busy and finish the project:

I was wondering about when the cookbook, Seasoned with Love, would be published. I tried the Cherry Pie Recipe and it was absolutely delicious. If you could just let me know, that would be great.

I review too. I just love your positive energy and your creativity. I would like to purchase your cookbook. How do I go about doing this? ~L.

 Just visited your site!! It is wonderful!! I can and (will spend) all day there! I, too am hopelessly addicted to cookbooks and LOVE to cook! I collect cookbooks from all my travels and read them the way most people read a good thriller! Iíd love to add your cookbook to my collection. I know I have space for at least one more. lol  Please let me know how to purchase your book. ~D.

Best wishes to you for the new year and best of luck with your cookbook. It is bound to be a success, with your flair for writing and for designing gorgeous pages. ~C.

I visited your site for the first time while searching for recipe writing software. Your website impressed me very much, it was very friendly and informative too. I would love to have your precious advice on my project and would love to have some time with you some day! ~S.

 

Since I decided to build my site before publishing my cookbook, this created some interesting responses that I was not prepared for, but definitely sent me to the computer to finish typing.

www.SeasonedwithLove.com was launched on 5/2/2000, around the same time Amazon.com launched their kitchen store. I stayed up all night waiting for the entire website to appear.

That was one of the happiest days of my life. Not only did I build a site after attending only one day of classes, FrontPage allowed me to easily make changes and I didnít have to hire a webmaster. This was as easy as working in WORD.

 

Visitors Start to Arrive

During the first year (5/2/2000 to 5/2/2001) I had 122,756 visitors looking around the site.

By the second year (5/2/2001 to 5/2/2002) over 345,004 visitors had found my site and then by the third year (5/2/2002 to 5/2/2003) there had been 428,548 visitors.

One day in 2004 the site rank went to 150,040

8/28/2004 Ė 301,564

10/20/2004 Ė 292,881

10/25/2004 Ė 277,421


I changed a few pages...oops. Site rank is apparently negotiable. 

One of the aspects of running a site is also finding a way to communicate with your visitors. After setting up a communication page, the letters started arriving. I had no idea people were searching around the site for hours at a time. When I started to post my reviews at my site, things became even more exciting. Now authors wanted to send me books to review.

At first people said I was too positive and I endured quite a lot of criticism about being a person who looked at the positive side of life. The truth was, I was depressed for a great deal of the time while writing very positive reviews. It was an escape from an overwhelmingly heavy burden.

My husband almost died during this time from a thyroid problem and my escape from my life included writing lots of reviews and building a website. Finally he went to the doctor! During this time I was also constantly sending out letters to publishers to try to get my cookbook published. I received so many rejection letters; I started to throw them away. They seemed to want you to be famous before they would publish your recipes. 

This was part of my destiny! This taught me an amazing lesson about the heart of writers and how important it was to find something positive about an authorís soul expression. One of the more amusing aspects of writing recipes and writing reviews was when the two merged. I started to offer recipes in reviews. I love that authors 
just go ahead and publish their work anyway! Some of the best books I've ever read were first self-published. 

 

This is what happened next:


Hello, I was wondering if I could get the recipe for the caramel iced ťclairs from simply irresistible? I canít find it anywhere and they look very, very good.

Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I have searched for this recipe since I saw the movie Simply Irresistible.

I am the one who asked you about the caramel ťclairs. I tried it and the first batch was gone in seconds! Everybody in my house loved it. Thank you so much. Do you have any other recipes that you want to recommend to me? ~S.

I have been looking for the recipe on how to make those wonderful looking caramel things. I havenít been able to find them anywhere. Could you please send me the recipe. I would greatly appreciate it. ~S.

I have been dying to have that ťclair recipe for years!!! Could you please e-mail it to me??? ~H.

Please send me the recipe for the ťclairs. I have my entire office craving these and cannot watch Simply Irresistible without eating sweets. ~A.

 

Soon, I was sending out recipes daily. It was a good thing my grandmother taught me to make ťclairs. The trip to France also helped, because I learned the French also made them with caramel icing.

Finally I put the recipe up at my site and the idea for an Internet Kitchen was born. This way I could simply give site visitors a URL and send them to specific pages. This gave me new freedom and I started to make additional pages.

I loved my huge kitchen, but with all the work I had online there was hardly any time to garden, although I did start some big projects.

Then, something unexpected happened in May. My grandmother died and I could not believe that I did not have my cookbook published. I was devastated by her death.

Like many authors who have had this disappointment, the one person I wanted to see my cookbook, was my grandmother. She was the reason I was writing the book in the first place. It took me quite a while to recover and the way I survived was by keeping in contact with good friends online and by keeping busy with working at my site.

When I turned on my TV on Sept 11, 2001 Ė it felt like my life literally stopped for three months. It devastated me, not only because of what had occurred, but because it had occurred on my birthday.

I never realized what an impact a tragedy could have on you if it happened on your birthday. Now I refuse to celebrate my birthday on Sept 11 and I spend the day much more quietly and normally by myself or just with my husband. I changed in so many ways on that day and it had a profound effect on me. I still reviewed, because it took my mind off the tragedy.

I spent a lot of time at forums talking to online friends and it was amazing how people changed in an instant. Forums that were filled with hateful comments suddenly changed into nurturing environments. I was amazed.

Lately Iíve noticed how profoundly that day affected writers and many times they do mention the day and interesting changes in their lives that occurred after Sept 11, 2001.

I could not possibly keep up with a house, so we moved to a smaller house and I had a much smaller kitchen by 6/7/2003. I didnít cook very much in that kitchen because I was too busy writing reviews. We keep moving and I am hoping that one day I'll have everything unpacked! Actually this time I might finish a book before
we move again. During the last move, I realized most of the boxes were filled with kitchen items. 

While I am writing this book, I am sitting at my desk dreaming of living in a castle tower. It might happen one day. ;) For now, I'll just write a novel with recipes...

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

 

 


Sacred Dreams for the World

 

 We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. 
But the ocean would be less without that drop. ~Mother Teresa

 

World Vision

I found the address for World Vision on your website. Thanks for the info. Your website is beautiful. I love the pictures and quotations. I can imagine that people would browse it just for the sheer pleasure of looking at it. I feel so fortunate to have my book featured there. Thank you again. And thanks for the encouragement. I hope to keep writing and if I do manage to conjure up another book, you can be sure Iíll send one to you. ~C.

 

Mission

I came across a few of your reviews on Amazon.com, and I was impressed by their thoroughness and style. Iím also blown away by your mission of helping children around the world. Thank you for doing that for the world. (I had not heard of WorldVision.org until your profile inspired me to give. ~B.

  

Donations

I wanted to let you know that I have made a small donation to World Vision and plan to make another one next month. I know you said one-time donation, but it is easier for me to do two small ones over a period of two months. ~C.

I noted your interest in child welfare which I also share. Iíll be making a donation to World Vision. ~J.

 

Change the Future of a Child

Children shouldn't have to worry about their next meal or go hungry. Join me in changing the future of a child and change your own life through the joy of helping another soul live a beautiful life.

www.WorldVision.org

   

Note from an Author:

Change the Life of a Child through Sponsorship

No good act performed in the world ever dies. ~William George Jordan (1864-1928)

Did you know that one-quarter of the world's children are underweight? We can help to change the world by helping one child at a time through sponsoring or making a donation to this wonderful organization. You can sponsor individual children at World Vision or send donations for specific items families around the world need.

Not only will you change the life of a child, your life will change for the better too. The child I'm sponsoring in Mexico even wrote me a letter and sent a drawing from school. Through sponsorship you can truly feel like you are changing lives and this is a wonderful way we can reach out to the world.

If you mail a check, they will set up an account for your donations and send you more information. I have been very impressed with the high level of organization and the commitment to children around the world.



Top 10 Reasons I love the World Vision Site:

1. They offer a variety of unique opportunities to change the life of children around the world.

2. The sponsoring is a wonderful way to get involved in changing the world.

3. Your money provides education for children who might not be able to afford to go to school. This allows children to pursue their dreams.

4. Sponsorship provides seeds and tools for farming.

5. World Vision sends out an information packet so you know where your money is going and how it is being used to help a specific community.

6. World Vision provides a Sponsorship Handbook. There is a phone number you can call to give additional gifts. The gifts will be purchased in your child's country to save on shipping costs.

7. World Vision provides greeting cards you can sign and they deliver the cards to your sponsored child.

8. Each year you receive a progress report and updated photograph of your sponsored child. You can then see how your gifts are helping the community.

9. Automatic Giving through bank or debit/credit card deductions.

10. Tax-deductible receipts and a monthly statement.

Many of the authors and artists I have reviewed for at Amazon also make donations to this charity.

When you visit the site they have an International Gateway. You can select a specific country of interest. The site is well organized and you can choose to send specific gifts, sponsor children or send in donations for emergency aid.

There is a wonderful gift catalog. You can choose to give items like a milk goat, fruit trees or a dairy cow.

Highly Recommended!

~The Rebecca Review

 

 

 

 

 


Recipes & Seasoned with Love

 The "Seasoned with Love" website is, in my opinion, the foremost cooking site on the internet. However, this site is much more 
than "just a cooking site." As well as being a very talented cook, and cooking writer, Rebecca is a multitalented person, 
who among other things, is a very prolific book and movie reviewer, and her website is a 
monumental work of inspired love. ~ New Millennium Flower Essences

Quick Guide to www.SeasonedwithLove.com Site Pages



Contact Page

www.seasonedwithlove.com/a_review_by_rebecca.htm

 

Letís Link Sites

www.seasonedwithlove.com/to_link_to_this_site.htm

 

Pictures of Princess Sasha

www.seasonedwithlove.com/princess_sasha.htm

 

Online Review Page (with link to my review page at Amazon.com)

 www.seasonedwithlove.com/the_rebecca_review.htm  

 

My First Online Interview (You will be able to see how I learned a lot from that first interview because I started to use those answers in other interviews!)

www.seasonedwithlove.com/an_interview_by_yen_in_taiwan.htm

 

Questions & Answers

www.seasonedwithlove.com/reviewing_journey.htm  

 

Online Chat

www.seasonedwithlove.com/a_chat_with_rebecca.htm  

 

Favorite Cookbooks

www.seasonedwithlove.com/favorite_cookbooks.htm

 

Internet Kitchen

www.seasonedwithlove.com/rebeccas_internet_kitchen.htm

 

Seasoned with Love Cookbook

www.seasonedwithlove.com/new_cookbook.htm

 

Kitchen Essentials

www.seasonedwithlove.com/kitchen_essentials.htm

 

Cooking Websites

www.seasonedwithlove.com/cooking_web_sites_and_catalogs.htm

 

Gourmet Food Store

www.seasonedwithlove.com/gourmet_food_store.htm

 

Links to Reviews at Seasoned with Love

www.seasonedwithlove.com/the_rebecca_review.htm

 

Site Visitor Comments

www.seasonedwithlove.com/your_important_comments.htm  

 

Online Letters

www.seasonedwithlove.com/my_journey_in_letters.htm

 

Inspiring Quotes

www.seasonedwithlove.com/quotes_poems_passages.htm

 

Donate Free Food

www.seasonedwithlove.com/donate_free_food_daily.htm

 

Sponsor a Child

www.seasonedwithlove.com/change_the__future_of_a_child.htm

 

Online Site Map

www.seasonedwithlove.com/seasoned_with_love_site_map.htm  

 

Movies

www.seasonedwithlove.com/american_and_foreign_movie_reviews.htm

 

Let the beauty we love
be what we do. ~Rumi

 

Creative Notes from Fellow Reviewers

A reviewer's review of a reviewer...