Book Review: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants, written by Sara Gruen, is a novel worth reading. It is an intriguing tale of life under the big top and a behind the scenes peek at the inner workings of a traveling circus train during the 1930’s. Whether you have experienced one of these traveling circus trains or have seen a modern day circus, “Water for Elephants” will sweep you right back to those days when you were awed by the lions, monkeys, elephants, clowns and lively music of the circus!


Gruen said in the forward that she did extensive research on the history of the traveling circus and it shows in the novel. Gruen has written a novel so compelling, vivid, and detailed it is hard to put down.

“Water for Elephants” is parlayed by Jacob Jankowski, who knows the workings of the traveling circus inside and out. Why? Because he was there, quite by accident as you will find out, but nevertheless he worked and traveled with the Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth! Now 90 plus, Jacob is in a nursing facility, grumpy when awake, and reliving his circus days when asleep, thus sharing his memories with us the readers, through his dreams.

Jankowski’s life was a full one with the circus. You will learn about love, marriage, domestic cruelty, animal cruelty, love and respect for animals, camaraderie, trust, work ethic, drinking, carousing, along with faithfulness, enduring love, freaks, midgets, rubes, roustabouts, violence and murder all co-existing. Get ready for a fast and fascinating read.

Two dynamic tales told in one book, one of Jankowski’s existence as an aging nursing home patient and two, his life with the circus. History buffs will appreciate the novel and research done by the author. Gruen truly captures and reveals a lost world, emotional and full of dark secrets.

Characters such as Marlena, Jacob, Big Al, August, Camel, Kinko the midget, and Barbara behind the hooch- cooch tent, you will never forget after reading this novel. You will become entwined in their interesting lives and feel as though you have known them forever before you finish your read.

After you read this book, you will understand why “Water for Elephants” is a bestseller, for sure!


Author: Sara Gruen- “Water for Elephants” the book and soon to be movie

personal opinion…

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Why would you need an air humidifier in your house?

During the long and cold winter months and also during the summer days when you put the air conditioning on, you may feel the air in the house dry. Just as humid air can be bad for your health, the dry air may have the same unwanted effects. In this context, it is important to keep the humidity of the house at the right level which is suited for you.

Dry air can be easily solved with a humidifier. These are devices that make water vapors to maintain the humidity on a room. When they are used correctly, they can improve the air in the interior of the house.

What is an air humidifier?

When the air is too humid, it can help the forming of mold, resulting into health problems and damages for your house. When the air is too dry, the ideal environment for respiratory problems such as allergies, asthma or skin problems is created. A humidifier can be successfully used during the winter in areas with warm weather, where the heating systems are used constantly in houses. Dry air can affect not only people, but also the floor if it is made of wood, and the wooden frames of windows.

Types of humidifiers

Mainly, humidifiers classify in two categories

  • Humidifier that forces air through water pulverizing it in the room
  • The atomizer type, which ‘breaks’ water into particles to create a fog

Humidifiers are recommended for people that live in areas where houses must be heated for a long period of the year, and for people living in areas with a dry climate. These devices can help people suffering from throat pains, headaches and coughs. Generally, a humid house is more comfortable as long as humidity is kept in optimal levels.

Things to consider

All the humidifiers need cleaning. Otherwise, they will be contaminated with mold and become dangerous in the long term. Make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer to clean it and don’t use it unless you are sure it is maintained properly.

Ideal humidity

Ideal humidity level in a house must be between 30%-55%. It is why you might want to buy a humidifier which can measure this level, so you can adjust it to the one required by your family.

This level is different in office buildings, where the spaces are wider and it has to be adjusted for tens of hundreds of people’s needs. It is why a home humidifier is smaller and cheaper, but you have to check the maximum surface it can cover.

If you want to buy a humidifier for a newborn, make sure to check with his or hers doctor before buying it. Only this way, you can be sure of the ideal humidity required in the room of your new child, so you could buy the right humidifier. In case your child has health problems are requires an exact level, there are devices with adjustable level of humidity and even with a timer that could set it on and off at different times of the day or night.…

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Review of Vera Bradley’s New All in One Wristlet and Original Wristlet

Vera Bradley is a maverick in the luggage and handbag industry. The company has turned cotton print fabrics into an elite designer line. They cater to a wide audience, however. Teenagers to soccer moms love the extremely well constructed and washable bags.

In an effort to change with the times and needs of their intended buyers, Vera Bradley updates the fabrics every six months and often retires a handbag design in favor of a new one. The wristlet, a popular checkbook sized bag, has been redesigned as the Vera Bradley All-in-One Wristlet. However, the original wristlet was also redesigned as well. So some Vera enthusiasts are wondering which wristlet is the better deal.

The Vera Bradley Wristlet
The regular sized wristlet is a simple bag with one inside pocket and dimensions of 7″x 3 ½” x 1 ¼”. This bag has a 6-inch strap with a trigger clasp. The new design includes an additional hook on the opposite end of the bag so you can quickly transform your wristlet into a small handbag. The trigger clasp also allows you to easily hang it from a larger bag as well. It is big enough for me to tuck chapstick, a cell phone, my small camera and some money, ID, and credit cards.

The biggest drawback to this bag is that there is only one pocket so organization is out of the question. Money and credit cards will just be thrown together and the sole inner pocket does not have a snap or any type of closure.

The Vera Bradley All-in-One Wristlet
The new design in wristlets is an attempt to organize the original by adding pockets and ID windows. The wristlet measures 3″ x 5 ¼” ¾”. This may not seem significantly smaller, but it is. The wristlet has one outside pocket for a cell phone or digital music player and on the opposite side has a clear view ID window. Inside, there are 3 credit card slots and a zippered pocket. There is one slip in pocket for cash or other cards.

The biggest drawback to this design is the size. I used it with an Apple iPhone, my cards, a small amount of cash and coin, and one skinny size chapstick tube. It was overstuffed and I had a hard time closing the zipper. While I like the idea of the organizers, it needs to be bigger for my needs. The zipper also opens all the way around on three sides so anything you do stuff into the middle will fall out when you open it. If you are only carrying cash/cards/phone, this may be ideal. But anything larger than an Apple iPhone and the pocket will not work.

Price Comparison of the Vera Bradley Wristlets
Regular price for the Wristlet is $25. Ebay and other retailers often have sales and you can get these at a better price. Also, the retired fabrics go on sale at Vera Bradley stores and online for 25%-40% off.

Regular price on the new All-in-One Wristlet is $32. Again, go to eBay or other sellers for a better deal.

For the price, I believe you will still get a better deal with the original wristlet. Perhaps the designers will take into account the size and redesign the All-in-One larger. I’ll wait for that.…

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Book Review: Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Book Review: Story of a Girl

They made us clean our lockers on the last day of sophomore year. I tore down the class schedule I’d taped to the inside of the door at the beginning of the semester and tossed it into the pile of recycling that already included ninety-five percent of the crap I’d busted my ass to do all year. What was the point of all that so-called learning if, in the end, it was going to the trash?

After reading a particularly interesting review at Maw Books Blog, I went to look for a copy of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl. This is the hard, bittersweet story of a sixteen-year-old girl named Deanna.

Deanna made a mistake when she was thirteen: she had sex with a seventeen-year-old boy, and was discovered by her father. Now that she’s entered high school, she’s still branded as the school slut, and her father can’t look at her in the eye. It doesn’t matter that Deanna hasn’t touched a boy since Tommy: her mistake seems to have defined her forever.

Deanna has a lot to deal with. Things at home aren’t going well for her: her father’s angry and distant, her mother is tired, and her big brother is a young parent living with his girlfriend and their baby girl in his parents’ basement. Deanna also has two best friends, Jason and Lee. Too bad she has a crush on Jason, while he’s dating Lee.

When Deanna gets a job for the summer, she happens to be working at a pizza place with Tommy, the boy she once was with and who still teases and provokes her. Can she manage to leave her past behind and go on with her life?

I really liked this book. The reader’s made to feel for the main character, a girl who once made a mistake and who can’t let this get past her. A girl who’s made remembering her sorry past every single day of her life. Deanna’s only outlet for her feelings is dreaming that one day she will be able to move in with her brother and his girlfriend, and writing stories in her journal.

Deanna’s story is a search for her own identity, a quest to find out that she is who she wants to be, and not what others think that she is. I’d definitely recommend this book, and I can’t wait to try out some other novel by Sara Zarr.…

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Book Review: Loving God when You Don’t Love the Church by Chris Jackson Foreword by Dutch Sheets

Lets be honest, the church isn’t always your friend. Many Christians love God, but don’t love his people. Why you ask? Because the church has the power to hurt its own parishioners. Gossipers, backstabbers, green-eyed monsters, and evildoers roam in churches like they do on the street. They’re Christians – just not good ones.


Victims of bad Christians end up feeling, hurt, angry, depressed, embarrassed, and sour about the church. Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church helps Christians who have been hurt by the church. Jackson tells stories of victimized Christians and uses the bible to help people forgive and move on in the church.

Jackson explains that people are more offended when Christians hurt you because they proclaim to be Christians. They talk about walking in Christ’s footsteps, but they fail. People have a higher opinion (non-believers are the exception) of Christians and when they stumble and hurt someone it’s harder to swallow.

A piece of advice from Jackson – confront the Christians that have hurt you, but do it in a non-aggressive manner.

Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church isn’t a deep reference guide, but it will give you a foundation to work off of in terms of forgiveness.

Dutch Sheets is the President and co-founder of Dutch Sheets Ministries. The ministry is devoted to world revival and passionate prayer. He also wrote Intercessory Prayer and Watchman Prayer. Chris Jackson is executive pastor at Freedom Church in Colorado Springs.

Chosen Books published Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church in 2007. Retail price is $14, but the book can be purchased for $5 on the Dutch Sheets Ministries’ website.

Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church is recommended for anyone in or outside of the church who has been hurt by the church. This book is also recommended for pastors and Christian counselors. It can be a good assist to people that they counsel.…

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Review of Disney Digital Books

If you’re a parent of children under the age of 12 then there is no doubt that you are familiar with Disney’s characters. My 3 year old daughter is in love with Princess Tiana, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear. In an attempt to get in some more reading time and really take advantage of her love of Disney characters I decided to give Disney Digital Books a try. I figured that since they were offering a free 7 day trial that I had nothing to lose.

The signup process for Disney Digital Books as fairly simple. After registering with the site I was granted access. I was given the option to create multiple accounts for each of my children so that the experience was customized with their name and they could also choose a Disney character to be their avatar.

With my daughter sitting next to me on her little chair, we navigated our way through the site. She was instantly “oohing” and “aahing” over the different sounds and animations that I described above. She decided that she wanted to use the Disney character Princess Tiana from the Princess and the Frog to be her avatar and then we went into the site. Once into the actually site we were given the option to choose from hundreds of Disney Digital Books to read. Some of these books were actual recreations of the Disney movies that you’ve probably heard of before like Toy Story, the Princess and the Frog, Pinocchio. And some of the stories were actually new spins on these stories with further adventures by these same Disney characters.

My daughter and I surfed around to her hearts content. At first we started out with me just reading the stories to her. Although she was attentive, one thing that I didn’t like about this feature was that the digital books were separated by age level. At times I ended up picking some books that were chapter books and more oriented towards older readers. There weren’t nearly as many pictures in these digital books as I felt were necessary to interest a 3 year old for very long.

One feature on Disney Digital Books that would be great for an older child was that the pointer turned into a pencil shaped object that you could drag over each word and then the word would be pronounced for you. This would be good for a child who is learning how to read. However, one downfall of this feature is that each word is spoken by someone with a different voice. So for example if you are trying to point and click all of the words in one sentence then you will have about fifteen different voices that have said each word by the time that sentence is done. While this feature is good for helping children with word pronunciation, I really do not think that it is good for helping with reading comprehension.

Another feature on Disney Digital Books is that you can just have a book read to you. My daughter really liked this feature. I thought that this feature was nice, but I really compared it to watching TV. It reminded me of still frame TV shows like Thomas the Train. I think that sites like this should really emphasize the child and the adult interacting and this feature is one that can allow an adult to just park their child in front of the computer and listen to someone else read to them.

Overall I would say that the Disney Digital Books trial is nice and simple to use. Another plus is that it is free and requires no credit card, so if you are curious then I would definitely give it a try. I did, however, decide to cancel my trial of Disney Digital Books because I was disappointed that the characters really did not come to life. I felt that there were not a lot of animations or interactions besides just reading the books, and I did expect a lot more than that.

Curious about Disney Digital Books? Check it out yourself at…

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Deliver Us from Evil – Book Review

Deliver Us from Evil
Author: David Baldacci
2010: New York, Grand Central Publishing

Deliver Us From Evil was written by bestselling author David Baldacci. Baldacci is best known for suspense and intrigue and Deliver Us from Evil offers both.

Canadian businessman Evan Waller is a man of many secrets who uses his Canadian business as a front for slave and prostitution trafficking. When he dabbles in nuclear weapons deals, Waller captures the attention of Shaw and agent of an unknown U.S. government organization.

Shaw was a lead character in Baldacci’s earlier novel The Whole Truth, but in Deliver Us from Evil neither Shaw nor his organization know the whole truth about Evan Waller. Waller’s deepest, darkest secret has him in the cross-hairs of another clandestine organization whose goal is to hunt down and kill war criminals.

Both Shaw and Regina Campion and her gang from the war crimes group set their sites on Waller when he is vacationing in Provence. Each group, unknown to the other threatens to bungle the objectives of the other. Working for different purposes to nab the same man creates a loophole through which Waller may be able to escape both.

The plot is masterfully creative and full of suspense, typical of Baldacci. Danger lurks with every turn of the page. Baldacci keeps the reader guessing while the two groups scheme to take out Waller.

Don’t be lulled into thinking you can outsmart Baldacci, the plot has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

I give Deliver Us from Evil from David Baldacci a four out of five stars and recommend it for those who enjoy thrillers. The characters are intriguing, but the best thing is waiting to see how the two groups, working on the same job from different angles, will act and react once they discover each other.

Grab a copy of Deliver Us from Evil and enjoy the read.…

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Online College Review- Thomson Education Direct

Associates Degree in Marketing

To enroll in online classes, students must complete a simple questionnaire and an admissions test. To make enrollment easier, every potential student is assigned an individual to assist them during the application process. Enrollment procedures can be handled online or though the mail.

The Thomson Education Direct Marketing Program offers an easy to use format which will appeal to beginners and to those experienced in online learning. An hour of studying each day is all you need to complete the curriculum which includes the principles of business, marketing, management, mathematics, and finance. Step-by-step lessons written in non-technical English provide photos and diagrams to illustrate each new concept. Microsoft XP, CD ROMs, books, reference materials, and a business analyst calculator are all available to provide hands on training.

Lessons are broken up into study units. After every unit is completed, you’ll take an open book exam. These exams count for two thirds of your overall grade. The proctored examination will account for the remaining one third. Students must have a C average or a point average of 2.0 to receive their degree.

Additional Information:

Cost: The cost per year semester is approximately $808.00. Several payment options are available and discounts are offered to students who pay in full. 
Accreditation Agencies: U.S. Department of Education – DETC (Distance Education Training Council).…

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