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Barbie Life in The Dreamhouse Grocery Store and Doll Playset
Barbie Life in The Dreamhouse Grocery Store and Doll Playset
Offered by DropAir
Price: $56.24
5 used & new from $50.17

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Barbie products, August 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We've had a number of Barbie items in our house over the past few years, starting with my daughters and now moving into items that are played with by younger nieces when they visit. This latest addition to our collection isn't perfect, but it has proven popular and seems to have a more likely lasting appeal.

The girls enjoy pretending to shop, and I enjoy seeing them do so because it's at least something they can relate to the real world more than they could with some other Barbie products. The pieces are small and somewhat cheaply made causing some bad fits, but they're pretty standard for anyone familiar with these toys. The shopping cart is decent, and the doll is a typical Barbie.

This one is likely to get dull if used as a standalone but should serve well as part of a larger, interchangeable Barbie play set. The price seems a little off right now (over $50 on Amazon as compared to $35 on other sites), but perhaps that's just a temporary thing. Either way you're paying in part for the Barbie brand, but it's still a fun and functional toy.


Serta Perfect Sleeper Hollington Plush Mattress, Queen
Serta Perfect Sleeper Hollington Plush Mattress, Queen
Price: $896.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Still early, but performance is excellent, August 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have been utilizing this new Serta mattress, along with an accompanying Serta boxspring, for just under a week, and to this point we are extremely happy with its performance. As someone with a chronically painful back, I've found that the bed is comfortable and is allowing me to sleep more soundly with less constant adjustment during the night.

Out of the box, it was immediately noticeable that the mattress has some heft. It comes in at over 50 pounds, but is still easy enough to move around corners given that it has some flexibility. Both the mattress and box spring were well-packaged and were in excellent condition upon receipt, and there was no noticeable odor upon opening or in early use.

My comments on several facets of this mattress:

Comfort
I have found sleep extremely comfortable. When lying in bed reading, I feel like I’m being given excellent back support when compared to our previous mattress. I don’t feel like I’m sinking into the material, and I can remain stable in a single spot for a long time. During the night, I find that I am waking far less, and neither my wife nor I are waking at all until morning. With our old mattress, I would often find that I couldn’t remain comfortable for extended periods, and that hasn’t been a problem with this Serta.

Pain Relief
As I mentioned previously, I have chronic back problems – mostly in the form of lower-back spasms that can be exacerbated by bad sleep. With this mattress, I am finding that my back feels much looser upon waking in the morning.

Motion
One of the nicest things about this mattress is that when one of us shifts in the bed, it doesn’t bother the other. Even jumping onto the bed causes no movement in other parts of the bed. I’ve owned other mattresses that promised motion isolation, but this one actually performs.

Heat/Cooling
The memory foam included in this mattress seems to be effective in minimizing the amount of heat generated. I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily acting as a cooling agent, but even without the air conditioning running at night I don’t find that we’re experiencing as much heat as with other mattresses.

Concerns/Problems
My only area of concern at this point is the longevity and durability of the mattress. As much as I have enjoyed its performance so far, I’ve owned other mattresses that seemed good at the beginning before running into problems of quick wear. At the same time, this is easily the highest-performance mattress I’ve had the pleasure of using and I’m confident that it will continue to work well.

This is not an inexpensive mattress, but it’s still a strong performer at a fairly reasonable price. While it’s tough to know yet how it will perform in the long term, all indications so far are that this is an excellent product with which we are extremely happy.


Baby Alive My Baby All Gone Doll, Blonde
Baby Alive My Baby All Gone Doll, Blonde
Price: $39.99
7 used & new from $39.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Short-lived fun, August 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These Baby Alive dolls seem to too often suffer from the same fate as the Fur Real animals we have around the house. By this I mean that there is great excitement upon receiving them and realizing the cool things they do, which leads to a short period of fun play before the toy loses its charm and ends up being discarded in favor of something else.

The baby uses a decent number of phrases, but the sequencing really doesn't make sense and there are times when she just seems to prattle. When hungry, she will let you know. And then she will let you know again. And then again, and again, until eventually even the most dedicated child is likely to have become annoyed. I remember how demanding real babies can be when hungry, but I don't remember it being so annoying.

The baby isn't really cuddly or cute, just a hard piece of plastic without any noticeable features beyond the big eyes. This toy only comes with two diapers meaning that you'll have to buy replacements when done - or if you're smart about it, simply use newborn diapers that are far cheaper - and the food mixes also won't last long.

Cute concept with this one and I like the idea of kids learning about the whole process involved with feeding and changing a baby, but this one leaves a lot to be desired.


The Darkest Hour: A Novel
The Darkest Hour: A Novel
by Tony Schumacher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing groundbreaking, but still enjoyable, August 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Germans have conquered England after a late-WWII invasion, and former English army hero John Rossett is now a police officer serving the SS. Having fought the Germans only a few short years ago, he now works under their thumb consolidating Jews into ghettos, from where they will be placed on trains and led to an unspeakable end. John is told that they are being sent to live and work in France, although it's quite clear that he only tells himself this so he can keep doing what he does.

Rossett simply does his job without thinking about what it means or the repercussions of his actions, until one day he finds a young Jewish boy named Jacob, whose grandfather has asked (bribed) John to take care of him. There's something about Jacob that quickly changes Rossett and soon he is doing all within his power to help get the boy away from the clutches of the Nazis.

Rossett is a likable hero whose motivations are believable, as he seeks redemption for his past actions. The action is brisk and entertaining, and some of the characters (eg. his German boss) are well-drawn. Some of the characters, however, remain pretty flat including Jacob, who says or does little, and Rossett's eventual double-agent love interest. Both could have done with a little more fleshing out considering the critical roles they play in the novel.

While much of what is covered will be familiar territory to those who enjoy spy thrillers or action-heavy novels, this is nonetheless an entertaining read.


Fisher-Price Jake and The Never Land Pirates - Jake's Battle at Shipwreck Falls
Fisher-Price Jake and The Never Land Pirates - Jake's Battle at Shipwreck Falls
Price: $49.97
3 used & new from $49.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good choice for Jake fans, but quite expensive, August 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Another entry in the popular Jake and the Never Land series of toys, this latest toy comes ready to use with minimal effort. It's fully assembled with batteries included, meaning that all you have to do is arrange the toys and characters as you see fit. It's not a large toy, but bigger than I had thought given the picture on the product page.

The toy does produce sounds that kids will probably like, and that will probably annoy most adults. It would have been nice to include a volume option, but there's at least the ability to turn them off. I'm always concerned that these toys won't offer enough in the way of play ideas, but I'm always proven wrong by their imaginations and that's what I've again found with this toy. It's also easy to intermingle this one with other Jake toys to create a larger play option.

The only negative for me, really, is the price tag. Unfortunately, while it's a nice toy choice, you're paying a premium for the brand. Even with that, this one will surely be popular with fans of the series.


Five Star Locker Mirror, 5.5 x 5.5 Inches, Berry Pink/Purple (72562)
Five Star Locker Mirror, 5.5 x 5.5 Inches, Berry Pink/Purple (72562)
Price: $16.06
2 used & new from $14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice mirror for the price, August 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I picked this up for my daughter to use in her locker at school, and the results have been good. The magnets are strong and stick nicely to the metal interior of the locker without shifting easily. I also really like the foam padding, because I'd almost guarantee that every kid with one of these will drop it at least once during the school year. We got the purple, and it's aesthetically pleasing.

Four push pins are included that can be used to attach notes, and it's a useful feature for posting reminders. The quality of the mirror itself isn't top-notch, but it's fairly good. Overall, this is a well-priced and very useful product that I would recommend especially to students and parents.


Lulu Jr. My Comic Book - Create Your Own Comic
Lulu Jr. My Comic Book - Create Your Own Comic
Price: $29.99
6 used & new from $29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The layout of the kit is very good. There are very clear walk-through instructions for each ..., August 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of a series of products offered by Lulu Jr., all geared towards helping kids create their own writings/drawings and to help them get a first taste of being published.

The layout of the kit is very good. There are very clear walk-through instructions for each step, and plenty of space is provided for rough work, storylines and early drafts. Plenty of examples are provided to help stimulate ideas for kids who might be stuck on what they want to write about. My daughter spent a fair bit of time each day working on her story before even beginning, and now she's working on the polished copy.

***One important note - we have yet to send our comic in for publishing, and as another review pointed out this could be an issue. There have been previous issues with publication problems and delays in receiving finished copies. I'm hoping this won't be the case for us, but it's important to note both that fact, and the fact that the publication option does come with an expiry date.

Even with those possible problems, I'm still giving this a high rating both for the quality of the kit and for the fact that it has done a great job of getting my daughter's creative thoughts flowing.


DII Woven Vinyl Double Border Placemats, Silver, Set of 6
DII Woven Vinyl Double Border Placemats, Silver, Set of 6
Price: $16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Inexpensive without looking cheap, July 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't sure what to expect of these placemats from the pictures provided, so I've been pretty pleased with their performance to this point.

Although they are a thin vinyl, they look good and provide some decent strength. They do a good job of catching crumbs, but liquid spills unfortunately aren't absorbed all that well and tend to run if you move the mats. At the same time, they're very easy to wash and wipe, unlike fabric mats that absorb a great deal of spillage. I'll personally take the quick wash option any day over needing to launder fabric mats. The only caveat I'd give is that I'm not sure how well these placemats would hold up under the heat of an intensely hot bowl or plate. I'd be a little concerned about their ability to protect a high-value table, and about possible melting.

These have been a pleasant surprise, and they've allowed me to throw out our older mats that have been kicking around for far too long. Great choice especially for those people with kids, as they offer a nice-looking but inexpensive and easy-to-clean option.


It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts: Baseball Stars of the 1970s and 1980s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project)
It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts: Baseball Stars of the 1970s and 1980s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project)
by Fay Vincent
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.00
31 used & new from $5.72

2.0 out of 5 stars Painfully disorganized and lacking in structure, July 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For fans of oral baseball histories, this book seems to hold a lot of promise. Having the chance to "hear" from the likes of legendary players like Cal Ripken, Tom Seaver and Ozzie Smith, or an all-time great manager like Earl Weaver, there's the hope that we'll learn something new or get real insights into the game. Unfortunately, all Vincent gives us is a series of what seem like stream-of-consciousness ramblings.

This book could have been improved simply by having a Q&A format that would keep the interviewee somewhat on track, instead of having them jump all over the place. Without any kind of pointed or challenging questions, there's no need for these greats to really provide any meaty thoughts. We never get to learn about hardships, controversies during their careers, or thoughts on problems with the game. I have nothing against positivity, but without challenging those being interviewed it's tough to break any new ground.

There are a few moments of insight, like Cal Ripken talking about his dad's absences from home during the season or Earl Weaver discussing some of his groundbreaking strategies, but too often it's just a guy saying things like, "he was great," about half the players they played with/against. If you're not going to do any research - which I understand isn't the point of this project - then you at least need to make the interviews interesting, and Vincent doesn't do that.

If you want to know more about baseball during the 1970s, check out Dan Epstein's Big Hair and Plastic Grass or even Phil Pepe's older oral history of that decade. Both are preferable to this title, which proved extremely disappointing.


Cascade Dishwasher Detergent Action Pacs, 4x Concentrated, 110-Count
Cascade Dishwasher Detergent Action Pacs, 4x Concentrated, 110-Count

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our favorite dishwasher detergent, July 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We've been using Cascade Action Pacs for over a year, and at this point I wouldn't consider buying any competing products. We tried several before this one, everything from store brands to name-brand competitors, but found that there was always a problem whether it was soap streaks or lack of cleanliness on our dishes. With Cascade, we have not encountered any of these problems.\

For those unfamiliar with these pacs, my only recommendation is that you be careful to keep any moisture out of the package. Since their packaging is obviously made to dissolve in your dishwasher, it only takes the slightest amount of wetness in the box to ruin several of them. Other than that, they're about as easy to use as anything in one's house. Highly recommended, an excellent product.


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