Category: review

Book review: Discovery of Witches

By , June 24, 2011 4:07 pm

A review of mine for A Discovery of Witches is up at Blog Her!

I need to warn you up front: Deborah Harkness’ novel, A Discovery of Witches is part one of a trilogy, and the second book isn’t scheduled to come out until next year. I say “warn you” because I made it a third of the way through the book before I read the dust jacket and learned the tale of Dr. Diana Bishop wouldn’t be complete for a few more years. And already, a third of the way into the first book, I knew I wanted to read the whole trilogy.

Check out the full review here.

Reading versus E-Reading

By , May 15, 2011 6:02 pm

I’ve had my Nook for about three weeks now (here’s my original mini-review) and I wanted to add some more thoughts. I have a particularly relevant experience to compare and contrast to, since I just finished A Discovery of Witches for a forthcoming review. After three weeks of reading physical and digital books, I’ve come to a conclusion: I prefer reading e-books. I prefer having physical books.

Wait, what?

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NOOK’d (and some mini book reviews, and a discussion of copyright)

By , April 26, 2011 1:30 pm

Someone I met in DC had a Nook and, in large part because of her urgings, I ended up buying a refurbished one from for $99. It arrived last week (and my purdy purple case arrived today) so I figured I’d share my thoughts on the device itself, along with the books I’ve been reading.

I went with a Nook instead of Amazon’s kindle for a few reasons. First, the Nook allows you to take out books from participating libraries, including Chicago Public Libraries. Unfortunately, the book selection isn’t great – and Amazon has said “Kindle will do that too in the coming months! – so it’s not as big of a deal as it seemed when I bought the Nook,  but whatever. Likewise, the Nook allows out-of-the-book loading of books purchased from Google Books, which will let me buy things through my local feminist bookstore’s online store front and support them. You can do the same with the Kindle, but it requires jumping through questionably legal hoops. Paula, the friend from DC, has a Nook, and she can lend me books through Barnes and Noble’s lending feature. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Nook was $99 at Woot, and I couldn’t find a Kindle that inexpensive. The biggest visible difference of the Nook versus the Kindle is that the former has a color touch screen along the bottom, while the latter has a bunch of physical buttons, and then the Nook uses Barnes and Noble to buy books while the Kindle uses Amazon.

So what do I think? Well, about a week in I’m loving the experience of reading on the Nook. E-ink is pretty awesome, and – for me, at least – suitably replicates the experience of actually looking at a physical page. It almost looks ‘fake,’ like it’s a demo unit at a store and not an actual piece of technology that has a display that clean and smooth. The page turning time – a brief flash while the next page loads – bugged me at first, but really isn’t any longer than physically turning a page in a book. I also like that you can turn pages with the buttons along the right or left side, or swipe along the touch screen in a really satisfying manner. (The touch screen, BTW, automatically turns off while reading so you’re not distracted by the menu.)

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Review: Bum Buddies ‘Tease My Tush’

By , March 23, 2011 9:56 pm

Yes, the packaging is kinda stupid.

My last two sex toy reviews were, alas, of sub-par products. Too expensive, too loud, too battery-eating, too ridiculous. But at last, with the Bum Buddies Tease My Tush (hereafter referred to as the BB) I think we have a winner!

I gotta say, I was skeptical when the BB arrived at my doorstep. The name, the packaging, the color – none filled me with a sense of confidence. (Not that “confidence” is what a sex toy should fill you with, ifyouknowwhatimean.) But the MSRP, $16-18, isn’t too bad and – unlike some other toys I’ve tested – the front and back oft he packaging note that it’s made of silicone, is phthalate free, can be cleaned with soap and water and/or boiled and/or placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. (My roommates have yet to let me do that last one…)

So while the color and packaging were kinda silly, the actual information on the packaging was reassuring. Imagine that! And the package was easy to open!

The BB feels nice and silicone-y to the touch. You can see the small manufacturing seam running down the middle if you look, but it seems to be pretty well made and I wasn’t worried about it falling apart. Honestly, I was more worried about not feeling a thing, or having it slip out right away. But, thinking happy thoughts, I lubed up and got to work.

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Review: Amante Remoted-Controlled Vibrator

By , December 22, 2010 9:15 pm

Mention a remote controlled vibrator to anyone my age, and they immediately think of the scene from The Ugly Truth where Katherine Heigl is wearing vibrating panties at a dinner meeting and accidentally allows a random child access to the remote:

Alas, my experience with the Amante Remote Control Egg wasn’t quite so exciting, but still provided good fun. Read on for the full review!

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Mini reviews: New Super Mario Bros Wii, The Force Unleashed

By , November 24, 2010 5:15 pm

New Super Mario Bros WiiAfter much hemming and hawing and uncertainty, I finally made the decision to purchase New Super Mario Bros Wii a few weeks ago. This is a new, 2D version of Mario for the Wii, following up on the successful New Super Mario Bros DS, which came out a few years ago and which I loved. The Wii version is pretty much the same, with the addition of multiplayer(!) and (obviously) being on the Wii.

I’d do a big lead up to what I think of the game, but it’s really not worth it: This game is tons of fun. It combines the best of the NES versions of Mario (particularly drawing a lot from Mario 3) as well as the SNES Super Mario World (SMW). In fact, I’d rate it only slightly behind Super Mario World, my all-time favorite Mario game, in terms of fun and difficulty.

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Review: Luxe Magic Massager

By , September 27, 2010 7:18 pm

One of the great things about living in Chicago is Early to Bed, a “sex-positive, women-oriented shop,” with a goal of being “staffed by people who take their sex toys seriously and are able to honestly answer questions about toys and sex in general.” (I feel particularly spoiled because they’re in walking distance of my apartment.) A few weeks ago, I responded to an open invitation they had on their blog, asking for sex toy reviewers. I was lucky enough to be selected, and today picked up my first toy for review: A Luxe Magic Massager.

Luxe Magic Massager

Luxe Magic Massager, in all is luxe-ious glory.

My first impression of the Luxe Magic Massager didn’t blow me away. The packaging is certainly functional, but the picture on the front is slightly out of focus and the back contains clinical language about not using on “inflamed areas or skin lacerations” and a 30-day warranty which requires sending in a $12 money order for processing. The back also says “SOLD AS A NOVELTY ONLY,” which means the manufacturer is able to dodge laws restricting the sale of sex toys but, more importantly, is able to dodge listing the contents of the product. (And, sure enough, while the Luxe is “Assembled in the U.S. with pride,” it was made in China.)

Indeed, e2b recommends basically any soft-material sex toy other than silicone be used with a condom. Alas, the Luxe doesn’t say this on the box, so I’m saying it now: if you’re using this (or any other “novelty” toy), or are unsure of the toy’s material, use a condom! I’ll be honest, I’m a little less worried about this particular toy, because it won’t be going inside me or used on any skin with porous membranes, but for anal play I only use toys with condoms or well-washed silicone. (And now I’ll get off my soap box and on to the actual review!)

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Galcon on Android

By , August 25, 2010 9:00 pm


Just got Galcon on my Android phone to tide me over while I’m traveling this week. (And am currently playing it instead of, y’know, memorizing my lines or prepping for my show…)

It’s a pretty great game, described by Penny Arcade as “Space Risk in Real Time.” That is, you’re trying to take and hold planets by moving armies around. There are no dice rolls – it’s a pure numbers game – and the bigger your planets are the faster you generate new armies.

At an easy $2.99, available for iPhone and (in a larger edition) for computer) I highly recommend it.

Review: Currie EZip Trailz Electric Bike

By , July 14, 2010 10:41 am

I bought this one! This one! Mine!

As I mentioned last month, I bought an electric bike shortly after I got out of the hospital. Specifically, a Currie EZip Trailz. (I feel particularly clever because it’s currently $499 at Amazon, but I bought it for a brief period when it was $399.) I haven’t really discussed it much since then, though, so I figured it was time for an actual review.

First, a bit on how electric bikes work. They all have some sort of motor connected to a battery, allowing for extra oomph while biking. The motor is either strapped onto the fame (like my bike) or, for more expensive models, built into the hub of the wheel. The hub motors are better and quieter, but the external motors are cheaper. The battery then goes somewhere on the frame of the bike, in this case attaching to the rear rack. Again, on fancier bikes, the battery is more well-hidden. Depending on the style of the bike, you get power to the motor either automatically, by pedaling, or manually, by a handle-mounted throttle or trigger.

The Trailz is about as low-end of an electric bike as you can find. It’s a steel frame, so it’s super heavy, the battery is less expensive, so it’s heavy, and the motor is mounted rather than hub-based, so it’s heavy. With the battery, the bike weight about 90 pounds. Without, it’s closer to 75. I got the step-through model because, to be totally honest, it’s a bit more girlie. So sue me.

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Review: Almost Perfect

By , June 16, 2010 3:42 am
The cover of 'Almost Perfect'

A partially obscured shot of a female face. How original for a book dealing with a trans character...

I just finished reading Almost Perfect, a young adult novel about a high school senior, Logan, who falls for a girl, Sage, that he eventually learns is trans. It’s well-written and believable, told from the first-person perspective of Logan, and does a good job of being injecting humor without being light or unrealistic. As someone who is a trans fiction aficionado, it was very refreshing to find a trans main character in a book that isn’t sensationalist or belittling. Or overly optimistic and picture-perfect.

There will be spoilers beyond this point, so consider yourself warned. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I would definitely recommend Almost Perfect. But a title like that should tell you that it has an ending which is – at best – bittersweet.

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