Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dear Product Companies...

Writing is my passion, but unfortunately like many authors, I do not make a living off it and as such have a day job. I have worked retail since I was sixteen years old and eighteen years later, I'm still here. Now, for the past twelve years I have been in charge of the HBA department (shampoos, deodorant, medicine, dental, etc.). I order the product and stock it on the shelves. As such, I have seen countless packaging changes come by over the years, some good and neat, others....not quite so much.

First off, we have the product that has irritated me the most for many years: Dial body wash. Now, the old packaging was functional and nice. The current packaging not so much. It's thin and top heavy. You can breath on these blasted bottles and they fall over. Every day I have to repetitively pick them up and I've had countless elderly customers complain that these top heavy bottles have fallen over on them in the showers, leaving large bruises on their legs and feet. Several years ago, I contacted Dial with my concerns over their packaging design as many of our older customers are not quite computer literate. I got a short response saying they would forward it to their design department and let them know. Nothing has changed since then. If it wasn't mandatory for me to order this product, I would refuse to carry it, in all honesty. The bonus bottles are wonderful, they have a wide base which allows them to remain steady on the shelf, unlike the regular 16 oz. size. It is difficult to stock top heavy product like this when they are constantly falling over on the shelves, knocking down more product in their wake. Dial body wash is in need of a serious bottle redesign.

Next up, we have a P&G product: Herbal Essences. When the current packaging first came out, I did think it was pretty creative as the shampoo and conditioner bottle fit together sort of like a puzzle. Unfortunately, my liking of that design quickly faded. While it may look appealing, the conditioner bottles face the same issue I have with the Dial body wash: they are top heavy. Quite recently, while stocking the Herbal Essences conditioner, I had a bottle wobble off the top shelf and hit me in the head, which by no means helped the headache I was already dealing with at the time. And it is not the first time those conditioners have wobbled over, let alone the first time I'd been hit in the head by one. Be it the 10.1 oz or the 23.7 oz family size, they are far too top heavy, the latter being the worst offender. I really shouldn't have to worry about being hit in the head by product when working.

Now this last one really isn't a product design issue, but more of a "why the need for such ridiculous names?" problem. OPI is a nail polish company famous for their out there color names. Sure, I myself have gotten a good laugh from these long color names that are somewhat pointless. But, being one who has had the unfortunate job of ordering said product, I know how much a headache it is. Looking off the order sheets and trying to find the blasted product with the same matching ridiculous name can take quite a bit of time, especially when the person ordering is getting interrupted by having to go help out at the registers in the middle of said order. Now, I'm not saying change the names, by all means keep them. They are hilarious. What I do suggest, however, would be to add a number/letter code, much like makeup products do. It would be easier on those of us ordering and even customers. A number code is much easier for them to remember than "Tasmanian Devil Made Me Do It". Seriously.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Memories of Ash ARC review



Okay, I am honored to be part of Intisar Khanani's Early Reviewer team. I mean, absolutely ecstatic because I get a chance to read and review awesome works of art such as this. I'm already a huge fan of hers, having been drawn into her world of magic and intrigue with Thorn and Sunbolt. And now the next installment of her Sunbolt Chronicles, Memories of Ash, nears it's release date. I was nearly drooling over the chance to read an ARC (Advanced Release Copy) of it and this is what I can say: I'm absolutely in love with it.

First off just take a gander at this stunning cover, as beautiful as the cover for Sunbolt. Oh and we can't forget the absolutely gripping blurb either!


In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.


Onward with my review, but disclaimers first: I received an early review copy from the author in return for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my review. (But it has made me even more determined to grab a print copy as soon as it's available!)


I must say that Memories of Ash does not disappoint in the slightest and held me completely enthralled for the past few days. There is plenty of action to keep Hitomi busy as she makes her way through one predicament after another, all of which I am sure will make her a much stronger person as the series continues. Struggling with having lost plenty of her memories in the previous book, Hitomi still remains strong. The conflict she faces, her motivations, her reluctance are all believable and make me feel for her character even more. I love how Hitomi holds strong to her own personal morals, even if at times she must bear making choices she doesn't want to make for the sake of what she believes in. I do love how a certain bonds of Hitomi's past are not completely forgotten to fall into a void. As not to give away spoilers, I was sad that a certain supporting character only had, as I will call it, a "speaking part." Although, I am quite certain we haven't seen the last of him. another side character that actually caught my eye and immense interest is Stonefall. I really do hope to see more of him in the future. Memories of Ash stands well on its own, giving enough glimpses into the happenings of the previous book that a new reader can pick it up without any problem. I would highly recommend Memories of Ash, as well as its predecessor Sunbolt, lovers of fantasy.

Allow me to tease you even further with an excerpt!


“It needs a meal,” the mage says, voice rasping, “and it won’t be me.” He yanks me off balance. I cry out, jerking away from him and lashing out with my glowstone. I manage to smack him hard across the face, but then his boot comes between my feet. For a sickening moment I teeter on the edge of the stairs.

Get back!

I barely register the words ringing in my mind before the mage shoves me, hard. I swallow a scream, throwing my arms up to shield my head as I fall. I slam down the stairs, bouncing toward the mass of tentacles.

Feet first—get your feet first!

I follow the shouted advice mindlessly, twisting my body as I come to a stop amidst a tangle of three or four great tentacles.

Don’t move.

Someone is talking inside my head, and it’s not me. Somehow, that’s almost worse than lying surrounded by the talons of a nightmare monster. Almost.





Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17969479-memories-of-ash

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Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.  Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles, an epic series following a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms.