Review 2129 is, of course, a personal blog. For once, this is a personal blog that actually means to be personal, honestly and openly so.

Joe has pictures of himself on the front page and on top of every other page. He has an autobiography. He writes about his life with all evidence of honesty. All these are refreshing, letting readers access Joe’s life with no trouble at all. Other than that, Joe addresses readers by the pronoun ‘you’ and occasionatlly refers to himself as ‘Joe Boy’ or ‘Joe Joe’. It’s either friendly and cute or just plain smacks of adolescence for a 23-year-old, but whichever way, this blog invites interaction between reader and blogger.

The layout of the site is clean and classy, which isn’t that much of a surprise since Joe owns his own web business. However, the links are a bit obscurely titled (‘oh that joe’ for his autobiography, ‘my head’ for archived blog entries, etc.). Also, the entries of September and October seem to be missing.

All said, it is the straightforward way Joe talks about himself and his life, without hiding behind anything, that makes this blog a pleasant read. He rants and raves about his problems, he cheerfully informs us about his triumphs – he shares his life with us. Another plus point is the way Joe constantly invites readers for feedback. A regular Joe? Maybe. But a Joe who is obviously comfortable in his own skin, which is an endearing trait.

Review 1638

“Mixed up musings on real life and fantasy from within the Hall of Mirrors” is the byline that greets a reader at the journal, Hall of Mirrors. The site itself is pretty plain – it’s gray. The site has an organized look to it, and it reminded me more of a very serious news site than a personal blog.

Deb Atwood, the writer of this blog, keep this blog as a sort of daily writing exercise. She writes small scenes from her life, sometimes like little vignettes. Other times her entries are more like personal journal entries that seem more like Deb just wants to capture what she did that day for posterity. She writes a lot about her kids, and there are also entries on role-playing and quiz entries. There are occasional book reviews. Deb is a good writer.

The design of the blog doesn’t quite match up with Deb’s writing. As mentioned, the site is very plain with not a lot of personality. Perhaps the writing would be better served by a design that reflects the interests of Deb. But the design is functional and organized, and all of her links work, and that’s important.

Hall of Mirrors links to several of Deb’s writing projects. There is what seems to be two novels-in-progress, a weight loss journal, a journal devoted entirely to role-playing games, and a journal written in the voice of Deb’s young daughter. If you’re into reading comic strips, Deb has a pretty big section of links devoted to comics. One of the superior things about Moveable Type [which Deb uses to run her blog] is the ability to list your entries by subject category – it’s one of my favorite things to find in a blog. It makes it very easy to read all of Deb’s book review entries, for instance. Hall of Mirrors does not have an About the Writer page [that I could find]. I would suggest adding one. I’d like to make one other suggestion – make a separate area for quiz/meme entries. Reading quiz/meme entries breaks up the flow of regular entries.

If you like children and are interested in their development, or you like role-playing games, or you know Deb and want to keep up on what’s going on her life, Hall of Mirrors will likely be a journal you enjoy. I wasn’t particularly excited by this blog, but it is worth a visit.

The Hall of Mirrors

Review 1414

The creator behind this massive site is Sarah. She’s a 19 year old college student, who seems to be proud of her religion and is certainly a focused individual.

Hidden Beauty has a very pleasant design. It’s a relatively simple looking design, but it holds together through the entire site, giving the entire viewing experience at Hidden Beauty a very fluid appearance.

I really liked the idea of “The Aquarium” that Sarah has set up for links to other websites. It’s an original way to display a ton of links without worrying about finding a clever way to display them – this does just that.

Another section that I was particularly fond of was where Sarah explained her beliefs in regards to her religion. Some people can tend to be rather forceful about this type of issue, but the way Sarah comes across is very friendly and non-preachy.

You’ll find lots of the typical “Friday Fives”, or other such meme posts scattered frequently throughout this weblog. While it doesn’t require a lot of creativity to answer some pre-fabricated questions, it does allow the readers to learn things about all facets of Sarah and her life. When the weblog first rolled out, it seemed that the entries were more directly from the author, rather than just the question/answer scheme. But clearly from all she is involved in, Sarah posts when she can and what she can.

Those that are fans of this website welcome the posts that they do get, and for any newcomers, it’s easy to feel right at home.

Review 1606 is a relatively new weblog. With Steven making his entrance into the weblog world with his first post in mid-May, he makes note in that initial entry that the main requirement in all good sites is content. And after reading through this site, Steven’s got the content he needs to make one of those good sites. As time goes on and as entries are added, that content is certain to grow even greater.

The site loads, and the crisp combination of the maroon and white immediately make this site look good. It loads quickly, and it loads correctly. The navigation portion of the site controls one side, the “spy cam” fills the other, and you find the weblog smack in the middle. Everything’s spaced out very nicely, and gives off a very clean appearance.

The only complaint I could find about the actual layout or coding bit of things just happened to be one of my biggest pet peeves. The hyperlinks that Steven links to in his weblog entries open up in the frame that’s home to the weblog – honestly my only complaint about the site.

I was happy to find an “about me” section that was both informative and entertaining. I would have liked to read more about his trusty half-sherpa, half-goat friend and companion, though! Also available for your entertainment purposes while visiting is Steven’s online photography portfolio (called F-Stop), the early stages of a future screenplay (Two Blocks Away), his latest rant (Wha Da Fut?), and a few other sections that are certainly worth checking out.

Typically, Steven does his daily posting duties by sharing a bit of his witty sense of humor in describing what he’s planning on doing or what he had done recently. There are other times, however, when Steven really touches on some quite common major personal issues that I’m sure several other people experience. The difference between those people and Steven, though, is that Steven very eloquently types his thoughts out for others to read. While those thoughts might seem too personal to some or not something they’d be interested in reading, it draws the reader closer to Steven’s life and what he’s dealing with, and makes the reader want to come back and read more. Sounds like the prime purpose of a weblog to me. is a good site, especially if you’re looking to find some common ground with someone to add to your list of daily reads. Although, as Steven mentions in July 8’s post, he’s only been posting every TWO days as of late. Oh the shame.

I’m just kidding, Steven. Speaking for myself, I’ll read whatever I can get off of

Review 1559

Wow. What another wonderful news site that I stumbled upon. In the past we have had news sites that were horrible, decent, and good, but this one takes good to the next level.

The Truth Laid Bear is basically like having a news reporter right there telling you how things are. That is the best that I can describe how the information is presented. I actually turned on my computer speakers and had the computer read the website to me and minus the crappy computer voice, it sounded like a news cast.

Mostly the posts are about news content, but some of them are just opinions on matters at hand. But don’t be alarmed because these opinion sections are more like the “bonus” sections news casts always try to get you to watch.

Design wise, there isn’t much to it. It looks like a modification of a template, but I am not sure if it is or not. It is a simple two column layout that presents all the material that is needed.

As with the last news/links site I reviewed (found here) I have similar complaints. The first is that it is hosted on blogspot. Yes I understand the fact that it is free, but the site is too good for blogspot. The other complaint is the lack of its own domain name. I would love to see the site open up at its own domain. It would just give the site that much more credibility.

Overall the site has an amazing coverage of news events. I can almost miss the evening news and read this site instead for my national news.

NOTE: After the original writing of the review, the site has a major focus on the fires going on in Colorado. Doing some research into the fires, I found that this site had some of the best coverage there was out of all the other sites.
The Truth Laid Bear