book reviews, healthcare

Repost: Review of Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist…

Here’s a reposted book review I originally wrote in 2011 for Epinions. com. Hope you enjoy it, as/is!

I guess I can thank our recent return to watching television for introducing me to former cosmetic dentist Michael Zuk’s 2010 book, Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist.  It was sort of a “one thing leads to another” thing.  I was watching Extreme Home Makeover and remembered that there used to be an Extreme Makeover show dedicated making over peoples’ appearances.  I looked it up on imdb.com and someone mentioned Zuk’s tell all book about cosmetic dentistry.  I went to Amazon, noticed the reviews were pretty positive, and decided to download Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist to my Kindle.

What’s this book all about? 

Back in the 1990s, Michael Zuk was bitten by the cosmetic dentistry bug.  He bought into the highly motivational speeches he heard about how cosmetic dentists can change peoples’ lives for the better by giving them beautiful smiles.  So Michael Zuk became a cosmetic dentist and eventually added orthodontics to his practice.  He got into the business of overhauling smiles by giving his patients veneers, replacing enamel with porcelain, and bleaching teeth into brilliant whiteness.

Somewhere along the way, Dr. Zuk lost his enthusiasm for cosmetic dentistry.  He started to notice how some of his overly aggressive colleagues were ruining their clients’ teeth with veneers.  He also noticed that cosmetic dentists were raking in a lot of cash for procedures that might eventually ruin a client’s perfectly serviceable, but not quite camera ready, teeth.

Dr. Zuk also discusses orthodontic treatments and offers his opinions on some of the newer treatments that are available, such as Invisalign.  A lot of clients are attracted to so-called high speed braces, even if the treatment won’t make that much of a difference.  Dr. Zuk explains why clients need to be more informed about their options and the potential risks that can come from cosmetic dentistry.

My thoughts 

I think Dr. Zuk has written a very interesting and useful book for the general public, especially those who might be tempted to undergo a cosmetic dentistry makeover.  Dr. Zuk is brutally honest about the effect some of the more popular procedures, especially bleaching and veneers, might have on a person’s teeth.  He seems particularly against veneers, which are apparently especially damaging to some people.  It seems a lot of cosmetic dentists sugar coat what actually happens to natural teeth when they undergo cosmetic restorations.  Clients may be left with a big bill and teeth that eventually fall apart.  I was pretty shocked when Dr. Zuk wrote that he’d sooner trust a good family dentist rather than a cosmetic dentist.  He seems to think the cosmetic dentistry industry is all about money and, in fact, often comes across as quite cynical.  On the other hand, some of his comments are pretty funny, too.  I actually laughed out loud a couple of times.

One thing I noticed about this book is that it seems to be somewhat poorly edited.  I don’t know if it’s because of the Kindle, but in many instances throughout the book, there was no spacing between words.  So I ended up reading several sentences thatlookedlikethis.  It got to be pretty annoying.  Another thing that might be off putting to some readers, particularly if they are in the dental profession, is Zuk’s rather pessimistic attitude.  He makes a lot of comments about how cosmetic dentists are only in the business to fatten their wallets.  He claims that cosmetic dentists are constantly fixated on other people’s smiles, looking for ways they could be improved at a pretty penny.    

Overall

I am lucky enough to have pretty good teeth, so I have never been attracted to the idea of getting cosmetic dental treatment.  Nevertheless, I did learn a lot from Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who might be thinking about taking the cosmetic dentistry plunge.  I do wish the book were better edited, especially for the Kindle. ETA in 2022: It looks like this book is no longer available on Kindle, anyway.

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book reviews, LDS, religion

Repost: A review of Jessica Bradshaw’s You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons…

Here’s a reposted book review from my original blog. It was written in June 2017, and appears here as/is. Some things have changed since I wrote this. Bill’s younger daughter came around, and now talks to him.

As many regular blog readers know, I frequently hang out on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard, although I have never myself been a Mormon.  I started hanging out on that site because my husband, Bill, used to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He and his ex wife were converts at the end of their disastrous marriage. 

Bill was once a fairly enthusiastic Mormon; when I met him, he still claimed to believe.  I think he had high hopes that the church would help him save his first marriage.  But over time, it became clear that the church would not save his family and, in fact, made his situation much worse than it might have been.  Unfortunately, Bill’s two daughters became devout members of the LDS church and he pretty much lost them when he divorced their mother and later decided to resign from the church. 

It is certainly no secret that I despise my husband’s ex wife for many reasons– many of which have nothing to do with the LDS church. The truth is, what happened to Bill would have happened whether or not they had been Mormon converts. My husband’s ex wife delivered the same despicable treatment to her first ex husband. She effectively influenced her eldest son to reject his father. She did the same to Bill’s daughters. She will likely engage the same method if and when she leaves her third husband, with whom she has another son and daughter. That is simply what she does because she’s an abusive person, who thinks her children are extensions of herself, and uses them as weapons.

However, although I don’t believe the church was the main cause of my husband’s split from his now adult daughters, it’s been my observation that the LDS church is an excellent parental alienation tool. The importance of the church and its ridiculous lifestyle tenets– its insistence on being privy to the most private aspects of a person’s life and focus on perfect families– made it much easier for my husband’s young, impressionable daughters to reject their perfectly good dad as “unsuitable” and “undeserving” of them. To be honest, I agree that Bill doesn’t deserve his daughters. In my opinion, they aren’t good enough for HIM. Fortunately for them, Bill is a lot more forgiving about his daughters’ decision to reject him than I am. He once had a very close relationship with them. He is their father, and will always love them, while I have only met them in person once. I have no connection to them, and I think their behavior is unreasonable and just plain stupid.

Perhaps my brief rundown of my personal experiences with the church will offer some insight as to why I read so much about Mormonism– particularly about those who choose to abandon it.  Since I’ve been with Bill, I have come to know a number of impressive ex-Mormons.  It takes a lot of strength of character to go against the grain and reject one’s family religion, especially when it’s a very demanding belief system like Mormonism.  I have found that many ex-Mormons are very intelligent, sensitive, and open-minded.  I truly like them as a group of people.  For that, as well as for her decision to divorce Bill, I will always be grateful to Bill’s ex wife.  Her decision to go LDS and Bill’s decision to leave the church indirectly influenced my life in many positive ways.  Of course, had she not divorced Bill, I might not have gotten to be his wife.

It’s indirectly because of my husband’s ex wife that I “met” Jessica Bradshaw, who just published You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons. I read her first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: A Confessional, which she wrote under the pseudonym Regina Samuelson. I enjoyed the book and reviewed it, and Bradshaw and I became Facebook friends. I was delighted when Bradshaw announced her second book, which would be published under her real name. She also solicited stories from her ex-Mormon friends and acquaintances. I wanted to get Bill to submit his story, but he never got around to writing it.

Over the past almost fifteen years of marriage, I have seen firsthand what can happen when a person decides to leave a high commitment religion like Mormonism.  Some Mormon families truly believe in “free agency” and are okay with family members deciding for themselves what to believe.  There are many more families that can make leaving the church extremely difficult.  Some ex-Mormons wind up getting divorced, being shunned by family members and friends, and even losing their jobs or getting kicked out of college over deciding that Mormonism doesn’t work for them.  Deciding to leave Mormonism was a huge decision for many past members; it can be overwhelming and terrifying.  Many ex members feel that they are alone as they make this monumental decision for their own lives. 

Bradshaw’s latest book is a compilation of stories by former church members who left.  Each story is very well edited and offers valuable insight into what makes a person decide to leave Mormonism.  I was amazed as I read about how each person’s eyes were opened to the world beyond the church.  It was gratifying to read how many of these ex church members began to develop insight, empathy, and an expanded perspective of the world around them, even as many of them found themselves ostracized from their families and friends.

One contributor wrote about how, as a Mormon missionary in Japan, he experienced extreme cognitive dissonance.  He observed how happy, moral, and loyal the Japanese people were to their families and employers.  They were able to be this way even without the direction and interference of a church’s oppressive lifestyle restrictions or strict “moral” code.  As the years passed, the contributor experienced a series of life events that led him from being an “acting Bishop” of a huge ward in Salt Lake City to a convicted felon who temporarily lost his license to practice optometry.  This was a decent person– a good guy who was having a crisis of faith and could not talk to his wife, other family members, or friends about his feelings.  He started playing racquetball, took his new passion too far, eventually got seriously hurt, and was put on opium based painkillers.  He developed an addiction to the painkillers, started calling in his own prescriptions, and soon lost everything. 

Many church members would look at that story and determine that it was the man’s decision to abandon the church that led him to such disastrous consequences.  Indeed, when church members resign, a lot of active members think it’s because they want to sin, are too lazy or weak to live by the church’s rules, or were somehow offended.  Active members tend to avoid those with weak testimonies because they fear they will lose their own testimonies.  It occurs to me that active members who fear those who are losing their testimonies must also have weak testimonies, because if their testimonies were strong, someone else’s doubts would not be a threat. 

A person leaving the church often feels very much alone and may turn to habits that can turn out to be destructive.  In the case of the contributor I just wrote about, he turned to racquetball.  Racquetball is not a destructive habit in and of itself, but if one plays to the point of becoming seriously injured and needs pain pills, that can lead to a serious disruption of one’s life.  Perhaps if the man could have talked honestly to his wife or church leaders about his doubts, he might not have experienced such a calamity.  Maybe he would have eased up on the racquetball and not gotten seriously hurt.  Or maybe the positive feelings he got from the drugs would not have been as seductive, since he might have been able to get a sense of normalcy and calm without needing medication.

Unfortunately, for many people, the church does not lend itself to open discussion or honesty.  Married couples must cope with less intimacy because the church is a not so silent partner in their relationships.  Important decisions about things like religious beliefs are not left up to the married couple.  The church must be involved.  And the church’s involvement means there will be less privacy, pressure, and the potential for punishment and humiliation.  Many people who have doubts about the church don’t speak about them openly.  Instead, they simply fake it.  They lead lifestyles that are not authentic.  They miss out on a lot of wonderful life experiences and freedom due to fear of disaster and abandonment.  Being “fake” is also psychologically unhealthy and can ultimately lead to unhappiness.

I have only described one story in You’re Not Alone, but rest assured that the book is full of enlightenment about why people leave the LDS church and encouragement that there is life after Mormonism.  While the immediate consequences of leaving the church can be heartbreaking and devastating, most people are able to pick up the pieces and live better, more authentic lifestyles.  They make their own decisions and can accept their successes and failures as their own. 

I’ve seen firsthand how liberating leaving the LDS church can be as I’ve watched Bill.  When I met him, he was living on $600 a month and thought his life was ruined.  He thought God hated him.  What a blessing it’s been to have watched him blossom into a self-confident man who loves freely and enjoys his life.  He has plenty of money (not paying 10% gross to the church is a great thing), gets to travel, wears whatever underwear he prefers, and drinks whatever he pleases.  He is not afraid of being exposed to other people’s experiences and no longer has a testimony that must be protected at all costs.  And although he was abandoned by his daughters, Bill has found out that his life is still very much worth living and he is free to do it on his own terms.  I’m pretty sure that is what Jessica Bradshaw’s contributors have also discovered. 

Naturally, I recommend You’re Not Alone, especially to anyone who has been thinking about leaving the LDS church, but also to those who are in any belief system that has them in metaphorical chains.  I also think You’re Not Alone is a great read even if you aren’t LDS, although it probably does help to know something about the church before you read it.  I also recommend Jessica’s first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon.  Five stars from me.

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reviews, sex

Repost: A review of the Hitachi Magic Wand… 

I wrote this review for Epinions.com back in 2007, when Bill was deployed to Iraq, and just before we moved to Germany the first time. As you can see, I didn’t like it as much as a lot of others did. This review actually ended up in my getting some unwanted correspondents. However, this was one of my most popular reviews. It made a lot of money.

First thing’s first. I am a woman in my 30s (er, I’ll be 50 in a few weeks) and I haven’t seen my husband, Bill, in months. Like lots of women in their so-called sexual peak, I have certain needs. Unfortunately, while my husband has been off defending God and country, my old massager started an irreversible death spiral. As I was shopping for a replacement, I remembered my husband’s comment that the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R was the “Cadillac” of vibrators/massagers. Guess he read the ads on the Internet, too. Remembering that little tidbit of information, I decided to purchase one to keep me company until Bill comes home.

What is the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R?

Chances are, most people reading this review already know that lots of women use the Hitachi Magic Wand to satisfy their sexual needs. However, I think it’s important to point out that the Magic Wand is actually billed as just a plain old massager. If you look at the packaging, you see leotard clad women using the device on parts of their bodies that are perfectly acceptable for public viewing. Read through the instructions and you’ll find no mention that this product can or should be used for intimate purposes. In fact, the instructions even include a diagram of a fully clad woman marked with positions where the massager should be used. There are no arrows pointing toward the diagrammed woman’s genital region.

This massager is sold by drugstores and sex shops. Attachments are available and sold separately. They looked kind of scary to me, so I opted to just buy the wand. I had high hopes for this product, since it got so many great reviews and seemed to be so powerful.

Specifications

The Magic Wand has two speeds, high and low, which have vibration frequencies of 6000 and 5000 per minute respectively. Designed to be used in North America, the massager uses a 110-120 volt power source and consumes 20 watts. The manufacturers don’t recommend using the wand with an electric converter, which means that when I move to Germany, I’ll have to find a new toy. The Hitachi Magic Wand is about twelve inches long and has a soft, smooth, flexible head. The power cord is about seven feet long. The massager comes with a one year limited warranty and is intended for home use.

My first impressions

Oh boy, was I excited to get this package in the mail last week. I was especially happy because DHL had lost my package in transit and I had visions of some DHL employee playing with my new toy. I was relieved to get my new Magic Wand in a box that showed no signs of tampering. When I pulled my new machine out of the box, I noticed that the plastic seemed a bit lightweight. The power cord was also flimsier than the cord on my other massager.

I plugged in the Hitachi and tried it out at both speeds by just touching the vibrating head with my fingers, something the manufacturers warn that I shouldn’t do. I wasn’t all that impressed with its power, or lack thereof. Later, I tried it as a sensual aid and found that it’s not as powerful as my old massager was when I first bought it. For me, that’s a big drawback, especially since it takes longer to get the desired effect. The Magic Wand uses a motor to make vibrations. The longer you use it, the hotter the motor gets. The hotter the motor gets, the sooner it will overheat. Others may find the Hitachi Magic Wand plenty powerful.

One thing that does strike me as a good thing about this massager is that it’s very compact. Lightweight at just 1.2 pounds, it’s small enough to easily stow in a suitcase. It would be very easy to travel with this massager as long as you’re staying in North America. I also don’t think this massager is excessively noisy, so that’s another plus.

The Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R is widely available, so even if you’re feeling a little unfulfilled, you can buy it without embarrassment from a number of different retailers. The list price is $69.99, but I wouldn’t pay more than $40 for this massager. Luckily, that’s pretty much what it’s going for these days.

Precautions

I have to admit, I found reading the instructions for the Hitachi Magic Wand very entertaining. Obviously, they weren’t written by a native English speaker, although whoever did write them is very fluent in the language. Here are a few direct quotes from the precautions section in the instructions.

You’ll want to use your massager on your shoulders, arms, back muscles, and legs. It’s not for your chest and certainly not for use around you [sic] thyroid gland (just below the Adam’s Apple)…

The rated maximum continuous use of your massager is 25 minutes. That’s really long enough. Should you wish to use it longer, turn it off and wait about 30 minutes before using it again…

Don’t turn the vibrating head by hand or press it tightly to your body. You could bend the head-supporter, and heavy pressure does not produce a stronger massaging effect anyway…

Never drop or insert any object into any opening. 

Yuk, yuk, yuk…

There are also standard warnings about not using the massager while taking a bath or on inflamed or swollen areas of the body. In fact, the folks at Hitachi even specifically warn that the Magic Wand should not be used on an “unexplained calf pain”. Ouch.

Seriously, this massager seems safe to use as long as the user has common sense. Don’t use it around water, on open wounds, or when the motor is so hot your fingers are burning, and you should be just fine. And be sure to avoid that “thyroid gland”, too… (snicker)

Would I recommend the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager?

It depends. Frankly, I didn’t find this massager powerful enough for my particular “needs”. I don’t like the fact that it’s made of flimsy plastic and has a lightweight and somewhat short power cord. However, I think this massager would be fine for general use on sore muscles. And I also think that some women would find it plenty powerful enough for their sensual tastes. Hell, I find that just reading the instructions is a source of entertainment all its own! But for me, personally, this massager is less like a Cadillac and more like a Dodge Neon.

AND, since it’s a short post, here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote in 2013, about taking this particular vibrator to the dump.

Taking my vibrators to the dump…

As we’re preparing for the packers to come here tomorrow, Bill and I have been discussing what to do with some items we haven’t been using.  A few years ago, when Bill was deployed, I invested in a “Magic Wand” vibrator by Hitachi.  I was really excited about getting this device, since I’d heard such great things about it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with the wand.  Somehow, I also ended up with two of them.  I reviewed the wand on Epinions and ended up getting some uninvited correspondence with yucky, horny men on Yahoo! Messenger.  It was way gross.

So, since about 2007, my vibrators have sat in the bottom of a drawer, bereft of my attention.  I needed something a little more powerful than the Magic Wand and ended up finding something more like a jackhammer for my “special sensual needs”.

I have a few other massaging items that I don’t use anymore… a water bath with jets for my feet, an electric vibrating foot massager, and a cheap chair massager for my back that never fit any of the chairs in our house.  So there’s a pile of massaging items in our bedroom waiting for a trip to the dump.

I’ve been imagining what it will look like when Bill takes these items to the landfill.  One time, when he went there, there were people hanging out at the dump, waiting to see what people were throwing out.  They were delighted when Bill offered them an ugly 40 year old yellow American Tourister suitcase I had inherited from my mom.  They referred to it as an “Ike Turner” suitcase.  I can only wonder what their reactions would be if he offered them my vibrators…

Incidentally, the Magic Wand doesn’t really look pornographic.  In fact, if you read the directions, there’s no discussion of it being used as a sensual aid.  It’s supposedly intended for use on parts of the body that are perfectly acceptable for public view.  But I have never heard of anyone using the Magic Wand for anything other than a sexual toy.  Go figure.

As far as I know, no one who was hanging around at the dump in 2013 wanted my vibrators. I can’t blame them.

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book reviews, celebrities, healthcare, mental health

Repost: My review of Brooke Shields’ Down Came the Rain…

One last repost before I hang up my blogging efforts for the day. This is a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in October 2006. I am posting it as/is.

Having come of age in the 1980s, I have always been very familiar with Brooke Shields’ work as an actress. Brooke Shields has always appeared to be a woman who has it all… looks, brains, money, a successful and apparently fulfilling career, and at last, just a few years ago, she seemed to have found love in her second husband, Chris Henchy. The one thing that was missing was a baby.

Shields was having trouble getting pregnant. She had once had cervical surgery to remove precancerous cells and the surgery had left her cervix shortened and scarred. As a result, in order to have a child of their own, Shields and her husband had to undergo in vitro fertilization. Shields got pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage that was so emotionally painful that she almost decided to give up on her dream of being a mother.

But Brooke Shields found that she couldn’t forget about having a baby. She underwent IVF again and got pregnant, and this time it stuck. Nine months later in May 2003, Brooke Shields and her husband, Chris Henchy, became the proud parents of Rowan Francis. And then, Brooke Shields found herself holding a ticket into the hell of postpartum depression. That hell is what prompted her to write her 2004 book, Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.

I read this book partly because my husband, Bill, and I have been trying to have a baby. Like Brooke Shields and her husband, we have some issues that may prevent us from conceiving naturally. I also have a strong biological history of major depression, so I may be at risk of postpartum depression if I do have a baby. Also, I found this book used and dirt cheap at Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop. I doubt I would have thought to buy this book at its full price or even borrow it at a library, but I am glad I read it. It turns out Brooke Shields is a pretty good writer and her topic is both timely and relevant to a lot of new parents.

Down Came The Rain is not an autobiography of Brooke Shields’ life, although it does include some information about her family. The information is personal, but it also has something to do with Shields’ state of mind and stress level as she embarked on her quest to become a mother. First off, Shields and her first husband, Andre Agassi, were divorced after two years of marriage. Shields doesn’t write much about their time together, except to explain that they had both wanted children, but the opportunity had never presented itself. Not long after the split with Agassi, Shields met and subsequently married Chris Henchy. Then, Shields’ father became very ill with prostate cancer. He died just three weeks before Rowan Francis was born. All the while, Shields was also dealing with insecurity about her future in show business. She had taken time off for her pregnancy and Rowan’s birth.  

Divorce, remarriage, fertility issues, childbirth, career issues, and the loss of a parent are all extremely stressful events on their own. With all of those issues combined together, it must have been almost impossible for Brooke Shields to function. Shields also had serious medical trouble during the birth of her daughter. The child had to be delivered by Cesarean section; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Shields’ uterus had herniated and she almost had to have a hysterectomy. Somehow, Shields and her baby survived the birthing process intact. Shields was left to recover from major surgery as she became acquainted with her baby daughter and the huge role of being a parent.

To be sure, I could empathize a bit with Brooke Shields. She’s a human being and certainly not immune to human problems like postpartum depression. Shields initially didn’t want to go on Paxil, the antidepressant that helped her get through her ordeal with postpartum depression. She didn’t like the connotations that she needed a drug to help her with her moods. I can identify with that sentiment. When I had depression, I didn’t want to take a drug to feel better, either. I liked to think I could will myself to feel normal. Once I found the right antidepressant, it became enormously clear to me that clinical depression is a very real biological problem that affects the whole body. Brooke Shields also came to that conclusion. She started to feel better and was able to function with the help of antidepressants. Like me, she became a believer in the drugs’ efficacy, despite her very famous public feud with Tom Cruise about their usefulness.  

I applaud Brooke Shields for writing this book about her very personal and painful experiences with the hell of depression and her success using antidepressants. I think it’s always helpful when people talk about personal experiences with mental illness because it helps reduce the lingering stigma. I also like the fact that Shields apparently no longer feels ashamed of her use of antidepressants. Too many people don’t seek medical help for depression because they fear becoming “hooked on happy pills”. As someone who has experienced depression and has taken antidepressants, I can affirm that the pills never made me feel “happy”. Indeed, they made me feel normal, which was a huge improvement over feeling hopeless and suicidal. 

On the other hand, as I was reading Down Came The Rain, it was very clear to me that Brooke Shields has advantages that most women don’t have. For one thing, she hired a baby nurse to help her as she was getting over her postpartum depression. Although Shields makes it clear that the nurse was temporary and she had no intention of handing over the job of raising Rowan to hired help, most women don’t have the financial resources to hire baby nurses when they suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, far too many women can’t even afford to take the antidepressants that Shields took as she suffered with postpartum depression. And it also occurred to me that some who read this book may even feel somewhat bitter about the fact that Shields was able to afford several rounds of IVF, too. That’s a procedure that is well beyond the budgets of many Americans.  

Clearly, with her financial resources, Brooke Shields can afford solutions that are well above the grasp of many women. I don’t mean to imply that Brooke Shields wasn’t right to use whatever means necessary to get past her postpartum depression; I just think that some women might resent the fact that they don’t have access to the resources that Shields does. Shields explains what she did to get over the depression, but she doesn’t offer solutions for ordinary women who can’t afford to hire baby nurses or seek out sophisticated medical help.  

Also, it’s important to know that Down Came The Rain is not the story of Brooke Shields’ life. This is strictly an account of her experiences with postpartum depression. She explains what the depression felt like, how it affected the people around her, and what she did to get over it, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a whole lot of insight about Brooke Shields’ life outside of her experiences with postpartum depression, you might be left disappointed. There is no photo section, although there is a small picture of Brooke Shields and Rowan on the inside of the book cover.  

All in all, I think Down Came The Rain is a good personal account of the phenomenon of postpartum depression. And if after reading this book you’re left wanting to learn more about postpartum depression, Shields includes a reading list and addresses to reputable Web sites that offer information about the disorder. I think Brooke Shields has written a valuable book that will help a lot of people who are caught in the throes of postpartum depression, whether they be new mothers or the people who love them. What’s more, Shields’ story ultimately has a happy ending, since she has gone on to become a mother again. On April 18, 2006, Shields and Henchy became parents again to daughter, Grier Hammond… ironically, on the very same day, and in the same hospital, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their baby girl, Suri.

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book reviews, travel

Repost: Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen

Here’s a repost of a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in 2011. I am reposting this review as/is.

As an average American of average means, I have never really considered how a hotel’s concierge services might benefit me.  The most I’ve ever asked of any hotel concierge is directions, or perhaps to order me a taxi.  But hotel concierges do a lot more than give directions or make reservations.  The best ones can pull off logistical feats that would dazzle the average person.  And if you’re in a place like New York City, a good concierge can mean the difference between eating in a hot restaurant at 8:00pm or eating at Sbarro’s.  I never considered any of these things until I read Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen (2011), a book written by concierge extraordinaire Michael Fazio and co-author, Michael Malice.

The book’s premise

Michael Fazio is the co-founder of Abigail Michaels, Manhattan’s premiere concierge service.  But before he helped found Abigail Michaels, Fazio worked in Hollywood for famous actors and as a concierge at New York City’s InterContinental Hotel.  He admits to having the “service bug”, which I would think one would have to have in his job.  After all, he was routinely asked to do things like get tickets to sold out Broadway shows and score tables at hot restaurants for people who were “nobodies”. 

But aside from helping unknowns who were staying at the hotel, Fazio also had to arrange for some exotic requests from people with more money than they could possibly spend.  Fazio arranged for a bathtub full of chocolate for one client, who was hoping to impress a ladyfriend.  He arranged for a last minute helicopter ride to Atlantic City for a mysterious Russian with a suitcase full of cash.  And when the same people kept coming back to him for help, Fazio and his former co-worker, Abbie, started their own concierge business catering to the rich and famous.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and probably would have gotten through it in a matter of hours had I not been trying to read it on a very small cruise ship.  I have a tendency to get motion sickness, so every time I tried to make progress in this book, I started to feel sick!  Once I was off the boat, I whizzed through it in record time.  I really enjoyed Fazio’s anecdotes and the enthusiastic tone of his writing.  I felt excited as I read about some of his more dramatic exploits in the concierge business.  Aside from telling stories, Fazio also includes some handy tips on how to get what you want from a concierge, book the best restaurants and hotels, and even how (and how much) to tip.

I definitely have a new perspective on the value of a good concierge.  Now that I’ve read Fazio’s book, I might even venture to the concierge desk during my next hotel stay!  Who knows?  I might end up with a completely different experience than I might have otherwise had!

Overall

If you’ve ever wondered what your concierge can do for you, you should definitely read Fazio’s book Concierge Confidential.

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