Product I Swear By: Natural Ice Lip Balm

Mentholatum, are you trying to pull a cruel joke on me?

My favorite lip balm, Natural Ice spf 15 menthol/mint lip balm, once purchased by the case at my local Acme, is no longer on the shelves. If you haven't tried, I recommend. They are the makers of Soft Lips and a few other household name type products. I fear that they are discontinuing my chap stick! What's a girl to do? (Stock up on Amazon.com and PRAY!)

Seen it? Know something I don't? Fill a sista in.

"Belong to Me" and "Love Walked In" by Marisa de los Santos

*** Precursory note -- I picked this book because I liked the boots on the cover. I wasn't familiar with the author, with the characters...in fact, it wasn't until I had finished the book (delightful choice) that I found out there was another de los Santos book that predated this dealing with the same characters. See that review below.

I really enjoyed this book. Beautifully written with endearing characters, I found it really enjoyable. As mentioned in my note above, I sort of goofed by not reading de los Santos' books in the proper order, but that really didn't damper my enjoyment. I still felt close to the characters almost right away, figured out their relationships to one another and most importantly, cared what happened to them. That's key for me.
Marisa de los Santos is a poet, I found after reading up post-BTM. I subliminally inferred as much from her book. Her words are carefully chosen and paint a really lovely picture. Probably why I enjoyed reading it so much.

What I liked: character and relationship development, beautiful "scenery," everything wraps up with a pretty bow

What I didn't like: some of the animosity or conflict seemed a bit contrived at times...forced? something like that...Piper in particular; she vacillates between vicious and one inspiring empathy too quickly and you end the book a big fan -- hardly believing she's the same Piper that kicked off the book. Her budding romance at the end of the book is...well, it just felt weird to me. And I'm never a huge fan of needing a couple mysteries to make a book come to life; I think the book could have been just as interesting without all the "dun dun dun" cliffhangers.

That's another thing -- de los Santos switched POV like I change my VS panties. So be prepared for that. It's almost like reading a lot of simultaneously occurring short stories. Which I dig. But I can imagine someone might find it irritating? And the overlap is sometimes a little bit of a stretch for my liking.

Final thought: Fun chick read with lots of relationships and pretty affluent scenery written around them :)

I enjoyed it so much so, I went out and got the novel I missed in her series of two (so far) about this crew. "Love Walked In" was, in my opinion, the weaker of the two books. Good news for de los Santos, who appears to be getting stronger in her foray into fiction. But bad news for me, looking to get the same heart out of "Love Walked In" as "Belong to Me." No dice.

LWI was sort of a throw away for me. What I found charming about the main character in BTM now seemed a little more obnoxious. More of the cliff hanger moments and contrived unrequited love popped up here and by this point, I was sort of over it. Maybe because I read BTM first? Not sure. LWI was a NYT bestseller, when in my opinion its follow up was much stronger.
Any-who...I guess if you're going to read one you should read this one first so you get the background down pat before you launch into the meat -- this is the appetizer, so to speak. Bon appetite!

What the Dog Did by Emily Yoffe

" What the Dog Did" was a thoroughly enjoyable read by one of my favored journalists, Emily Yoffe (of Dear Prudence fame). I follow her column Dear Prudence religiously and I enjoy her immersive journalism pieces on Slate.com very much. This was a lovely peek into her home life, something I find intriguing about anyone, let alone someone I read regularly.

"What the Dog Did" chronicles the Yoffe family journey from begging to get a dog, through the trials and tribulations of ownership straight on through to love and integration of said pup. As a dog lover (duh) this was a no-brainer feel good book. Yoffe's research into the history of dog ownership was really interesting and supported by the frame of her narrative. I read this quickly over a long weekend of here and there attention. I laughed a lot. I recommend.

A few notes/potential spoilers -- her tales of Boston Terrier antics were a bit dismaying as BT loyalist and mother of two American Gentleman. I did find most of her reports on the breed amusing, but her run in with a nasty little guy made me think one bad apple may have spoiled the bunch for her. Just my two cents.

Further, there is an undercurrent of a story through the book of Yoffe's interaction with "Todd," her dog trainer. She addresses him regularly through the book and devotes an entire chapter toward the end to a rather shocking and upsetting turn of events in the course of Todd's life. This sideline is sort of like a thread hanging from a sweater. It's dangling there almost within reach for a good yank but the book ends without any such satisfaction. For a journalist like Yoffe, I was a little disappointed that a more decisive conclusion wasn't reached as to his fate. I was left scratching my head and wondering "what gives?"

Overall, I highly recommend for dog lovers or those considering a dog. It's a really great recap of what it's like to bring a dog into your life and bonus, a nice piece of Yoffe's writing, if you enjoy her work, as I do.