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Customer Reviews: 110
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Helpful Votes: 783

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Reviews Written by
Sean Rueter "s1rude" RSS Feed (Baltimore, MD)

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American Barbarian
American Barbarian
by Tom Scioli
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from $23.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Have you ever wished Jack Kirby was more of a smart-ass?, June 9, 2014
This review is from: American Barbarian (Hardcover)
Well then, this is the book for you.

American Barbarian is a blast to read throughout, and often laugh out loud funny. It would make a great Adult Swim cartoon.

Scioli isn't quite the King with his panel to panel artwork, but holy schikes, are there some exciting double-page spreads of the Barbarian in action - rampaging his way through a mobile city, surfing down the backs of some robo-dinosaurs he's fighting to escape and more. I found myself spending several minutes on these compositions on multiple occasions.

Just because it's escapist fun doesn't mean there's not a great deal of craft & innovation involved.

City of Stairs
City of Stairs
by Robert Jackson Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.25

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An accessible yet mysterious yarn about human nature and free will, June 9, 2014
This review is from: City of Stairs (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Reading the first chapter of Bennett's latest, I thought I was in for something along the lines of a China Miéville or Jeff VanderMeer "weird fiction". And I kind of was. As other reviewers point out, the world building is impressive, and it doesn't take long to get sucked into the conflict between Saypur and the Continent.

The events that drive the plot for the first half or more of the book surround a murder mystery, except when they're a coming of age love story. By the time we're fully sucked in for a political thriller (with a brief side trip into an epic hero's battle witha kaiju), the surroundings feel like somewhere you know. It's a marvel that the author is able to craft such a cohesive narrative from such disparate parts. That he drags characters that feel real, and that he causes you to connect and relate to, is even more impressive.

I almost drew back from a five star rating because some of the concluding beats were a little _too_ familiar. But then the aftermath manages to say important things about what it means to be human, without sounding trite (at least to me), and I decided the whole thing was one of my favorite things I'd read this year.

It's not often I devour a book in a matter of days because the story drives me to AND it causes me meditate on the state of society and the meaning of life. But City of Stairs did that for me, and I highly recommend it as a result.

The Shadow Hero
The Shadow Hero
by Gene Luen Yang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply smart (and more important than most folks probably realize), June 9, 2014
This review is from: The Shadow Hero (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yang & Liew's expansion of a hero created in the "grind 'em out" publishing industry that made money off of the Golden Age of superheroes would be a great read even if it weren't also leveling the playing field by giving Asian-Americans a classic superhero with whom to identify.

Their hero's journey from grocer's son to caped crusader is as humorous for all ages as a Pixar film. The pathos behind his origin is a staple of the superhero genre, yet combines with elements of China's cultural history to inform the character's ethos. The action is thrilling; the romance touching.

All of those things would make it great fun, but when you get to the back matter and the actual stories that they've used as the basis for their version of The Green Turtle...the plot thickens. The source material adds layers of meaning to their work, often times accomplishing one of the things described in the paragraph before while simultaneously addressing something the character's creator faced in the 40s, or that Asian Americans and other minority groups face to this day.

There are benefits to this book regardless of what angle or lens you view it from. And when one of those is benefits is that it's an entertaining comic book - how can you go wrong?

Nyantomo Purr Fect Potty Starter Kit for Kittens
Nyantomo Purr Fect Potty Starter Kit for Kittens
Price: $21.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well designed, if a little pricey...with reflections on training from years of experience fostering kittens for a local shelter, May 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Recently tried this kit out for the two little ones we're caring for now. They took to it quite well (the low lipped, wide side entrance makes it really easy for them to get in and out), the litter material allowed urine to filter down to the pad, and both litter and underneath pad were great at absorbing odor.

For our purposes, I'm not sure we'd want to invest in $24+ dollars a month for litter refills and new pads, but from a design and results perspective, this product worked well for us.

As a side note, some of the reviews on here seem to be blaming the litter box for the kitten's behavior. From lots of experience working with lots of cats (the missus and I have been fostering for about five years now and have had more than 30 cats - mostly kittens - pass through our home), it's essential to isolate the cat in a confined space with whatever box/litter you use until they're trained. Even then, every cat is different: some will take to it right away, others will go beside it. Some will eat the litter, others will throw it around the room. There are lots of good resources online for best practices of box training that you should consult. Don't depend on this or any one product training the animal for you.

Half a King (Shattered Sea)
Half a King (Shattered Sea)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.28

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not terribly original, but for Abercrombie, that's not a terrible thing, May 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The latest from Joe Abercrombie is something that, if this book remains a stand alone novel, will probably be viewed as one of his lesser works. But that's not at all to say that it's not an enjoyable read. The tale of a prince who is viewed as 'less than' because of a physical handicap attempting to get revenge on those that wronged him with the aid of mismatched crew of fellow underdogs isn't particularly novel (and is reminiscent of two popular characters from the books that inform our sword & sorcery zeitgeist, Tyrion and Daenerys of Game of Thrones). The author does infuse the tale with much of the sinister naturalism that made his earlier works so special (The Heroes is a my personal favorite, but you can't go wrong with any of The First Law trilogy or the three novels that followed set in that same world & time). Partially due to it's considerably shorter length, however, changes in the characters' behavior can seem to come out of nowhere and the major plot twist comes across as a pretty far-fetched coincidence and doesn't feel earned.

There is certainly enough very interesting world-building on display that, should Abercrombie return to the lands around the Shattered Sea, that this entry might seem stronger as part of a longer series. As it is, this is a quick, fun read, but if you're new to the author's work, I'd start with his debut trilogy to see what all the fuzz is about.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2014 5:47 AM PDT

Savora Pizza Wheel, Persimmon
Savora Pizza Wheel, Persimmon
Price: $29.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Big, round, sharp, April 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Heavier and larger than imagined, but with a natural grip. The weight means that you don't have to put too much elbow grease into cutting your pie. Seems sturdy enough, and will hopefully avoid the wobble at the center joint you often get with pizza cutters.

For the environmentally conscious and waste averse, it comes in a shocking amount of packaging. I guess it's their attempt to market it as an objet d'art, but it's a pizza cutter, and probably doesn't need to come in a shoe box made of high-gloss corrugated cardboard and a six-pack of 20 ounce soda bottles worth of plastic.

Omron Pain Relief Pro
Omron Pain Relief Pro
Price: $44.91
55 used & new from $37.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite a relief (once we got over our initial anxiety), April 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The warnings in the product literature, while necessary and appreciated, were a little daunting - and a bit disappointing since they're quite clear on not attaching the pads to your torso above your lower back and my wife and I were both hoping to try this on our stiff necks. But the directions were clear and straight-forward, making it easy to use. The sensations are a little odd if you're never had TENS before, but they do provide relief.

Time will tell how the re-usable pads hold up, but on they've survived several uses and a wash so far.

Baxter of California Cream Pomade, 2 oz.
Baxter of California Cream Pomade, 2 oz.
Offered by DetailsforMen
Price: $20.00
2 used & new from $20.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to find the right application, February 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Baxter's Cream Pomade does moisturize without feeling too oily, which is one element I was looking for from the product.

However, through a week's worth of use, I'm having trouble finding the "sweet spot" of how much to use and whether to apply it to all of my hair or just the areas around my part where I'm looking for the most style and hold. I've had days where I used a fingertip amount and end up with fallen or static-y hair. Others where I scoop out more pomade and get a chunky look that can feel like I used a gel (mixed with hand lotion).

Hopefully I'll figure it out before the jar is empty. But for the price, I expected better directions or intuitive results in line with similar products.

Fruitvale Station
Fruitvale Station
DVD ~ Michael B. Jordan
Price: $12.96
13 used & new from $8.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Well-done dramatization of a real world tragedy, February 9, 2014
This review is from: Fruitvale Station (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The examination of issues and situations always benefits from thoughtful consideration of and empathy for the individual human beings involved, and that is exactly what this film does for the event that cut Oscar Grant's life short at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station on New Year's Day in 2009. Grant is realistically and reasonably depicted in a fantastic performance by Michael B. Jordan as a 22 year old young man in the process of figuring out how best to handle his responsibilities and becomes an adult. However you view his decisions, watching him live out his final day on Earth forces you to realize how a few different reactions by him or especially those that would judge him could have prevented his tragic death.

While it would be interesting to learn more about Johannes Mehserle, the BART officer who killed Grant, that is the subject for another work. Jordan and writer/director Ryan Coogler are out to tell Oscar's story, and they succeed admirably.

Fruitvale Station does not seem like the first feature film of a 26 year old (now 27, the same age that Grant would be were he still alive) film school grad, and it certainly makes Coogler an artist to watch over the coming years.

I was a little disappointed in the DVD release, as the movie leaves the viewer with a lot of questions about the historical event, but the extras almost entirely focus on the creation of the movie. While cast and crew interviews are interesting, more analysis or even news footage of the event that inspired it would be a nice addition for context and to make owning the DVD more valuable than simply watching the movie.

Love Story, With Murders: A Novel
Love Story, With Murders: A Novel
by Harry Bingham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.34
79 used & new from $7.83

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three (?) Plots, One (?) Resolution, January 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Harry Bingham's second offering starring Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths continues to develop the lead character while she simultaneously works two (or maybe three?) cases. And it's a solid mystery with an intriguing heroine. But I'm not sure how successful it is as a novel.

Griffiths is a blend of Lisbeth Salander and Dexter Morgan - an outsider due to her affect, her mental/emotional condition possibly created by hidden trauma from her youth, driven by a sense of justice to work with others as best she can. Rather than seeming derivative or cliche, Bingham succeeds in making her a "real" person that you're pulling for as a reader - especially in her quests for real human connections with family, co-workers and her lover Buzz.

That's only one of several tales that Love Story, With Murders is telling, though. There's the main police investigation of this book: the body parts discovered around Fi's Welsh district. Then there's the crusade she's carried over from the first book in the series, Talking to the Dead. Finally, there's an investigation into her own past - centered on her adoptive father's criminal history. These plot lines do intersect, but they also make it difficult for any one story to really impress.

In the final analysis, it's the lead character that is truly an impressive creation, and her development that I was most interested in as a reader. Being as "D.C. Griffith's Mysteries" are an ongoing concern, that's probably the most important thing. It just doesn't make this distinct novel the most satisfying reading experience.

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