Book Review: Table Talk: Memoirs of a Bikini Waxer by Caren A. Stein

Brutally Honest & Ridiculously Funny…Table Talk: Memoirs of a Bikini Waxer is a hilarious collection of stories, opinions, rantings and ravings that will leave you laughing your hairless ass OFF! Each chapter represents a different hat worn by Caren on any given day as a hair removal specialist. The Bikini Waxer — The Love Doctor — The Bearded Lady — The Belle of the Balls- no subject is off limits. Not only funny but sincere and uplifting, this book will leave any female reader with a sense of womanly pride and dynamism. “As a woman who knows women, I have found that no issue is too big or too small to discuss. We are passionate conversationalists regardless of the subject matter. Whatever the issue may be from finding a new wrinkle or a gray hair to buying a new outfit, dating a jerk, getting a divorce or not knowing what color to paint the damn powder room, it’s all important to us – at least for the time it’s on the table. Some women look to me for answers. I can only tell them what I would do in certain situations but it’s important to tread lightly with some subjects. After all, despite what some may think, I don’t have all the answers. Who on this planet does

My first thought when I got this book was, “So why did I want to read about waxing again?”, that did not last very long at all. This is a very fun and enjoyable read that had me laughing out loud several times. Caren A. Stein has written a sassy, smart little romp about how she lives her life and what she does. There were some stories of things that she has put up with as a waxer that made my jaw absolutely drop. The way she handled them was professional and yet also a bit laughable. It did not take me long to read the book as it is a short and fast paced read but it is put together very well. There is some coarse language so if that is something you are okay with it will not be a bother to you. The formatting of the book makes it easy to read and the chapter titles are pretty funny as well.

I am a person who enjoys a little look into other peoples lives and Caren A. Stein gives us a fun look into hers. I can not say this book made me ever want to go and get a bikini wax, I suspect I might end up being a whiner which Ms. Stein lets us know is not very well liked by those in the field. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good laugh and a nice fun easy read. It is a good book if you ask me.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D.T. Max

For two hundred years a noble Venetian family has suffered from an inherited disease that strikes their members in middle age, stealing their sleep, eating holes in their brains, and ending their lives in a matter of months. In Papua New Guinea, a primitive tribe is nearly obliterated by a sickness whose chief symptom is uncontrollable laughter. Across Europe, millions of sheep rub their fleeces raw before collapsing. In England, cows attack their owners in the milking parlors, while in the American West, thousands of deer starve to death in fields full of grass.

What these strange conditions–including fatal familial insomnia, kuru, scrapie, and mad cow disease–share is their cause: prions. Prions are ordinary proteins that sometimes go wrong, resulting in neurological illnesses that are always fatal. Even more mysterious and frightening, prions are almost impossible to destroy because they are not alive and have no DNA–and the diseases they bring are now spreading around the world.

In The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, essayist and journalist D. T. Max tells the spellbinding story of the prion’s hidden past and deadly future. Through exclusive interviews and original archival research, Max explains this story’s connection to human greed and ambition–from the Prussian chemist Justus von Liebig, who made cattle meatier by feeding them the flesh of other cows, to New Guinean natives whose custom of eating the brains of the dead nearly wiped them out. The biologists who have investigated these afflictions are just as extraordinary–for example, Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, a self-described
“pedagogic pedophiliac pediatrician” who cracked kuru and won the Nobel Prize, and another Nobel winner, Stanley Prusiner, a driven, feared self-promoter who identified the key protein that revolutionized prion study.

With remarkable precision, grace, and sympathy, Max–who himself suffers from an inherited neurological illness–explores maladies that have tormented humanity for centuries and gives reason to hope that someday cures will be found. And he eloquently demonstrates that in our relationship to nature and these ailments, we have been our own worst enemy.

This was an interesting book and you can tell that a lot of research went into the work that was done. However overall I found myself fairly bored when reading it. I guess it was not what I expected which was not the books fault (I guess) such interesting information though could have been given in a less dry manner. This is a shorter review than usual because that is all I can really think to say about the book. Give it a shot if you don’t mind a dry presentation the information is interesting at least.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Working with Bitches by Meredith Fuller

Release Date: March 26th 2013

What do you do when the queen bee demands to know why you haven’t written the report she never asked for? Or when the colleague who you thought was your friend takes sole credit for the project you worked on together?

It’s hard to speak out about catty behavior, especially when it’s insidious or goes on behind your back. But you can usually sense when something’s “off”—particularly if you’re completely stressed out and hate the job you used to love. Let’s face it, ladies: there are plenty of nasty, manipulative, and destructive women in the workplace who fly under the radar while ruthless alpha males get all the bad press.

In Working with Bitches, psychologist Meredith Fuller offers practical advice on how to recognize and manage difficult women at work. She combines actual cases with tips that women can use right away to diffuse even the worst situations. Readers will learn how to deal with the eight types of “mean girls” they might face in the office and find powerful reassurance that they are not alone.

I have worked with plenty of bitches in my time and it is nice to have a book that points out the different kinds. I have a better understanding of these women and why they act like they do thanks to this book. While for the most part it won’t help me much in my current working situation it does help me not feel so hurt by those I have worked with in the past. I also think in the end it will help me be able to deal with any more bitches that I run across in the future in a better manner. It really is a problem that they have, not me. That is one thing you have to be able to tell yourself when working with women like this book points out, It really is not you.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood

Release Date: Feb 26th 2013

To contemporaries, the Wars of the Roses were known collectively as a “cousins’ war.” The series of dynastic conflicts that tore apart the ruling Plantagenet family in fifteenth-century England was truly a domestic drama, as fraught and intimate as any family feud before or since.

As acclaimed historian Sarah Gristwood reveals in Blood Sisters, while the events of this turbulent time are usually described in terms of the male leads who fought and died seeking the throne, a handful of powerful women would prove just as decisive as their kinfolks’ clashing armies. These mothers, wives, and daughters were locked in a web of loyalty and betrayal that would ultimately change the course of English history. In a captivating, multigenerational narrative, Gristwood traces the rise and rule of the seven most critical women in the wars: from Marguerite of Anjou, wife of the Lancastrian Henry VI, who steered the kingdom in her insane husband’s stead; to Cecily Neville, matriarch of the rival Yorkist clan, whose son Edward IV murdered his own brother to maintain power; to Margaret Beaufort, who gave up her own claim to the throne in favor of her son, a man who would become the first of a new line of Tudor kings.

A richly drawn, absorbing epic, Blood Sisters is a tale of hopeful births alongside bloody deaths, of romance as well as brutal pragmatism. It is a story of how women, and the power that women could wield, helped to end the Wars of the Roses, paving the way for the Tudor age—and the creation of modern England.

Another one of my War of the Roses read I enjoyed Blood Sisters because it dealt with the women of the family. Most historians focus on the obvious part of the War of the Roses the men of the York and Lancaster families. However women like Marguerite of Anjou, Margaret of Burgundy and Margaret Beaufort were strong and powerful women who rose Armies!

You can tell that this book has been well researched and the history is all correct, while bringing to mind the pomp and pageants of the time period. I enjoy when I can see ceremonies that I have studied put to page and explained well. Sarah Gristwood really has created something that those new to the time period, or who are familiar with it like me will enjoy.

Of course if you are looking for a fictionalized account of the seven women covered in this book Blood Sisters is not the book for you. Sarah Gristwood has created a historical non fiction piece of work that is both educational and enjoyable. I know a lot of people who enjoy fictions don’t want to read the non fiction because they think it will be boring, but Blood Sisters is not it really draws you in. You get a lot of great information but it is presented in a way that is easy to understand and almost could be a non fiction. I would recommend this one to history fans and those who are just getting into it alike. You will enjoy it and hopefully have a better understanding of the women behind the War of the Roses.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Jack & Rochelle by Jack Sutin

Jack and Rochelle Sutin crossed paths in the winter of 1942-43, when, after separate escapes from Nazi ghetto labor camps, they discovered each other in the wooded lands of Poland. The forest where they remained in hiding was a place where many Jews and Russians, the so-called partisans, had fled to in an effort to escape Nazi persecution.

Despite their bleak surroundings–inhuman living conditions and ever-present danger–Jack and Rochelle began a careful courtship that flourished into a deepening love. With a new determination and a thirst for revenge, Jack led partisan raids on nearby Polish farms that were occupied by Nazi sympathizers. Thus was their resistance waged, often in ignorance of what atrocities were being committed in the rest of Europe. Cut off from the outside world, the partisans’ survival depended on desperate, makeshift warfare strategies. Maintained by a blind faith and their deep love for one another, Jack and Rochelle survived circumstances that had never before been imposed on a people.
Today, Jack and Rochelle are part of a small group of resistance fighters whose testimony offers all readers and students a unique perspective on this terrible episode of human history. Lawrence Sutin herein presents his parents’ story in their own words, stories that he has heard throughout his life. In a thoughtful afterword, he reflects on his experiences as a child of Holocaust survivors.

Ably edited by their son Lawrence, the instructive and inspiring Holocaust narrative of Jack and Rochelle Sutin provides ample proof of both the degradation implicit in the Shoah and the astounding strength and courage Jewish partisans demonstrated in their battle against the attempted Nazi genocide. “Jack and Rochelle” is a deceptively easy book to read; the chapters consist of blended chronological testimonies; Lawrence Sutin honorably avoids imposing his own voice on his parents, instead allowing his mother and father to describe, in their own words, their own cadences, the horrors they faced and the gritty resolve they mustered to fight back. Rarely does a subtitle so accurately depict the contents of a memoir as does their own: “A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance.”

Both Jack and Rochelle came from educated and enlightened eastern European Jewish families. As the two of them chronicle the onset of anti-Jewish depradations, they remind us of the rich texture of their pre-war lives. This dimension of humanity, of lives complicated by strained love relations, competitive urges and the deeply felt need for independence, makes the Nazi onslaught all the more unsettling and horrific.

Several themes predominate in the Sutins’ braided lives. First is the omnipresence of Jew hatred, whether it be in pre or post war Poland, in the brutally repressive Soviet bureaucracy or the finely honed hatred of Nazi Germany. Indifferent neighbors, vicious anti-Jewish Russian partisans (who commit ghastly sexual offenses against women who want nothing more than to join them in battling a common enemy), and the active participants in human eradication, the Nazis, make the Sutins’ world one of constant peril. Survival is never taken for granted, and Jack and Rochelle’s descriptions of their physical torment, often undertated, is wrenching to read. Personal sacrifice exists on every level: physical, social and spiritual. Rochelle’s first child dies within a day due to exposure when its survival imperils others; Jack is literally covered with pus-filled boils as a result of living outside the boundaries of human habitation.

Yet, neither Jack or Rochelle never complain, never give themselves away to self-pity. Instead, they are infused with the Judaic command to remember and Rochelle’s mother’s insistence on revenge, to take action to avenge the murder of their people. In this charged atmosphere of sanguine justice and physical erosion, amidst the rank and fetid habitat of primitive partisan surroundings, hope and love survive. Jack dreams that Rochelle will appear. She does. Despite sexual abuse and spiritual depletion, Rochelle gradually accepts and receives Jack’s love. He has never stopped loving her.
“Jack and Rochelle” is above all a cry of victory. It is a cry that murder and eradication cannot conquer a people. It is a cry that memory and consecration to life will prevail over death. It is a cry that love can endure, even if it is formed in the absolute crucible of death.

Book Review: Royal Panoply by Carolly Erickson

From medieval conqueror to Renaissance autocrat to Victorian Empress to modern melodrama, Royal Panoply is the story of some of the most fascinating people in world history. With her trademark blend of probing scholarship, lively prose, and psychological insight, Carolly Erickson focuses on each monarch’s entire life—from the puny, socially awkward Charles I, to the choleric, violent William the Conqueror, to the well-meaning, deeply affectionate Queen Anne, who was so heavy she had to be carried to her coronation. Royal Panoply recaptures the event-filled, often dangerous, always engaging lives of England’s kings and queens, set against the backdrop of a thousand years of Britain’s past

Glimpses of the lives of each of the British monarchs from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. A great book for getting a basic idea of the highlights of each reign and popularly held opinions regarding each monarch and his/her life plus a few less well-known tidbits (to me) (little facts like when George I came to rule England all the general public knew of him was that he was a German general who had locked his beautiful wife in a tower for twenty years and killed her lover after he discovered evidence of an adulterous affair).

There are times however, when I felt that Erickson oversimplified some of the individuals or took a stand on an event or a personality without substantiating it (you know, statements like: Pomp and Circumstance IV loathed High and Mighty for his superior graces and popularity with the people). Just a little evidence or an allusion to evidence would have made it a much more authoritative work for me. That said, I still enjoyed the book. Hey, and now I can recite the British royal line all the way from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II! (Won’t that be useful for winding up parties?!):0)

Book Review: The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis

The true story of thirteen women who took a risk on an expensive diamond necklace and, in the process, changed not only themselves but a community. Four years ago, in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a local jewelry store display window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women, with the goal of sharing it. Part charm, part metaphor, part mirror, the necklace weaves in and out of each woman’s life, reflecting her past, defining her present, making promises for her future. Lending sparkle in surprising and unexpected ways, the necklace comes to mean something dramatically different to each of the thirteen women. With vastly dissimilar histories and lives, the women show us how they transcended their individual personalities and politics to join together in an uncommon journey. What started as a quirky social experiment became something far richer and deeper, as the women transformed a symbol of exclusivity into a symbol of inclusiveness. They discovered that sharing the necklace among themselves was only the beginning; The more they shared with others, the more profound this experience–and experiment–became. Original, resonant, and beautifully told, this book is an inspiring story about a necklace that became greater than the sum of its links, and about thirteen ordinary women who understood the power of possibility, who touched the lives of a community, and who together created one extraordinary experience.

 In Cheryl Jarvis’ book, The Necklace, Jonell McClain convinces 11 other women to band together with her to bid on a $37,000 diamond tennis necklace. (The 13th – and most reluctant – member is the jeweler’s wife.) They hold regular meetings, they set up guidelines for sharing the necklace (everyone gets it for a month), they talk about where the necklace has been and what they’ve done while wearing it – everything from trips to the gynecologist to sky diving. There are rules about when you must have the necklace (if you are going to Paris) and what you must do while you have it (you must make love wearing only the diamonds, which is how one woman convinces her husband to sign off on the project). The women are very different from each other, they have different reasons for getting involved, but they all find it a novel and exciting experience and they take different things away from it. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a big fan of jewelry that I cannot imagine a necklace changing my life, or so many women being moved by the power of some diamonds. Patti, a personal shopper and a woman with a huge wardrobe and closets full of accessories, finds that owning the necklace changes her whole perspective on being a consumer, so perhaps it’s possible. It was interesting to see the different ways the women connected. I’m not sure that it has anything profound to say about our consumerist culture, but it says a lot about how women form friendships and the value of those friendships. I also found that necklace gave the women something to talk about with other people and a reason for people to take an interest in them. This seemed to make them blossom, far more than you could credit to pretty jewelry.

Book Review: Hearts West by Chris Enss

Complete with actual advertisements from both women seeking husbands and males seeking brides, “Hearts West includes twelve stories of courageous mail order brides and their exploits. Some were fortunate enough to marry good men and live happily ever after; still others found themselves in desperate situations that robbed them of their youth and sometimes their lives. Desperate to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, men sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscriptions to heart-and-hand clubs. The men received newspapers with information, and sometimes photographs, about women, with whom they corresponded. Eventually, a man might convince a woman to join him in the West, and in matrimony. Social status, political connections, money, companionship, or security were often considered more than love in these arrangements.


This book was not only a fast read but a fantastic read. It brings you inside a time in America where it was acceptable to be a “mail order” bride. When people braved the American west and headed out to settle there was one very clear thing, there was far more Men then Women. The gentler sex was needed for so many reasons, to make families, to help with the homes and just to bring that little something that Women have about them. Chris Enss captures this nearly forgotten practice in gripping detail telling the stories of some of those who placed the ads and some who answered. Sometimes it worked out, and sometimes it didn’t after all nothing is ever 100% right? If you would like a true look into the way many relationships were formed at a time in history when Women were a “commodity”, but most willingly put themselves out there you really need to take a look at Hearts West. In this book you will also find those who were out to make money on the need for women to be in one place, some had hearts in the right place and some did not. There are some amusing scenes painted of throngs of Men awaiting a boat load of women that they can claim for wives, and what should appear on the gangplank of the boat? One, two maybe three women! Not what you would call a bounty of Ladies coming to the hard country! But the picture is amusing, and many of the stories do end in happy love matches, all from answering a simple ad in the paper. If your interested in true history and would like a book that will not only give you that but something to laugh, and cry about. I do recommend you read Hearts West by Chris Enss, my only complaint about this book is that I wish it was longer.

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