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Mr. August "Literature lover" RSS Feed (Highland Park, IL)

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The Girl on the Train: A Novel
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Page Turner of Voyeurism, Heartache and Alcoholism, January 31, 2015
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Have you ever sat near the window on a train and observed people in their apartments, offices, or homes! Children playing outside the same time every day? Husbands leaving for work? A secretary staring at a computer screen? A woman looking happy and serene or quite disturbed? Paula Hawkins grabs the reader as the main character, Rachel, rides the 8:02 AM to London every business morning and conjures up stories about the people she sees from the train. Rachel returns from London a 5:00 train, but in between she is roaming around London pretending to her landlord, Cathy, that she has a job.

Rachel is an alcoholic, spending her time and money sloshing from scene to scene. Her drunken escapades produce blackouts making her voyeurism on the train remarkable. Rachel has no self esteem since she has lost her husband, Tom, to another woman. She is more than forlorn, she barely functions. I felt like the author was moving me from one drunken stupor to another.

Rachel observes an idyllic couple from the train and then sees their lives change. She is so desperate to be worthy to someone, she pretends she may know more than she does about the woman, Megan, the beautiful woman of this destructive couple. Hawkins uses Rachel's alcoholism as a barrier to reality undercutting any self confidence for her. The women in the plot are part cloying, depressed and hold secrets.

As the mystery reaches a climax, I expected a real surprise ending, but it isn't there. This book does not compare to Gone Girl. However, it did hold my attention and the machinations and evolvement of Rachel's emotions are worth the read.

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Courageous American Soldiers, Unspeakable Torture and Not Enough Facts, January 21, 2015
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I led a discussion on this book and one of the class members lived in Japan for 39 years. She is American and offered that much of the information in this book is not available to the general Japanese population. I offered that I was concerned about some of the historical inaccuracy of the book (as other reviewers have written).

The book was not presented in chronological order creating a disjointed portrayal of this travesty. I'm also not sure why Flyboys was capitalized, I never heard FDR referred to as the "Dutchman," or General Curtis LeMay as "Curtis." Did he know them on a first name basis? I appreciate that information that many Americans did not know. Our pilots were experts and apparently suffered unimaginable deaths and tortures. Bradley confused me with the terms deaths and casualties, the latter meaning wounded, not death making some of his statistics questionable.

He did a superb job of painting a group of young, eager Americans who did not have a clue what they were getting into, but went back into the air after many of their buddies never came back. All of these young men, many not old enough to vote, were sworn to secrecy and performed like experienced soldiers in the face of the enemy. They all seemed to come from good families, hard-working parents or single parents, who loved their sons and believed in their patriotism. It is a hard book to read knowing what they endured.

However, Bradley equates the Japanese atrocities with many US policies and treatment of prisoners. I felt like it was a general statement. I cannot accept that Americans are universally equal to this extreme. We have tortured (and recently exposed it in the Irag and Afghanistan debacle) but it is not a universal in our history and was not carried out on a totally blind basis. Cooking and eating the liver of those we executed does not seem to be part of our culture! I understand Bradley's defense of those who fought blindly in wars, killing per the request of the Emperor, but we remain a democracy and do question our past and present.

Bradley's research seemed limited and I believe he did not refer to multiple sources before applying his pen to these pages. However, this book is a solid tribute to the Flyboys and all American soldiers. The information regarding George Herbert Walker Bush was new and interesting. He is a modest man who is patriotic and used his talent to save many disasters. I am impressed with the description of his war years.

The Friendship of Criminals
The Friendship of Criminals
by Robert Glinski
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.44

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Explosive but Weak Novel, January 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Creating a tough cast of characters, Robert Glinski developed a rather complex novel of the seamy side of Philadelphia. If you are seeking a mafia-type novel with many angles, this debut could be of strong interest. The plot has many edges and the reader is required to separate the bad guys to try and grasp "who's on first."

Raymond Rea wins the leadership of the Italian crime organization when the mob boss, Tom Monte, ends up in prison. Rea opts to renege on former agreements with the other crime families. He thinks he knows all the answers but he miscalculates the strength and intelligence of ruthless Anton Bielakowski, the head of the Polish group. He is 60 years old, but the author portrays him as if he were in his 80's, Then there is the FBI agent, who believes after 10 years, he has worked undercover long enough to finally bring all the evil to its knees. He has dreams of grandeur.

There are more groups, the War Boys, motorcyclists, whose initial friendship extended to crime and the Armenians. Anton's son is groomed by Sonny, who began his career when, as an orphan, he hit a prison guard and was saved by a friend of Anton's. Sonny is Anton's most trusted soldier but Sonny's life, despite his ability to develop scheme after scheme, is a lonely man with a troubled son.

There are so many characters with just one woman, Angie, who becomes a player amongst the men aka killers. Glinski interjected some interesting characters, like one defense attorney, for purpose of the plot and then his story all but vanishes. Anton believes in wives and families - really they are such good men as they slice each other up or blow their brains out. It is all about power, once again, and this businesses move from the numbers game all the way to the possible procurement of Viagra. I'm not sure Pfizer approved this inclusion in the story.

I liked some parts of the book and the climax was satisfying. These mobsters existed by making the right choices and when to change sides. At least we do discover, that a 60 year old can outwit a younger gangster!

Dickies Men's Sanded Duck Insulated Vest, Black, X-Large
Dickies Men's Sanded Duck Insulated Vest, Black, X-Large
Price: $32.67
11 used & new from $32.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Versatile, Everyman Vest, December 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This black extra large Dickies Vest looks rugged and is a a great fit. My husband liked the insulated inside pocket and the overall insulation. It is not for very cold weather but it is made well and can be versatile for at least nine months a year in the Midwest. The vest wasn't overdone with too many extraneous details and the black is perfect. It would make a great gift for any guy, even the fussy ones, it's a solid vest. The price is very reasonable and the fit is true to size.

I only wish it were made in the USA instead of China.

The Room: A Novel
The Room: A Novel
by Jonas Karlsson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.22
72 used & new from $5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Lost in the Translation of this Inventive Novel, December 25, 2014
This review is from: The Room: A Novel (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At first, I was bored with the book, then I began to question and explore the validity of the plot and main character, Bjorn. Then I could not stop reading the story. I became more engaged because I imagined this was a Kafaesque-style novel, and it is. There are Kafka portrayals since we can relate to Bjorn and some of the other characters on many levels and it does become surreal. But I began to doubt everything.

Bjorn is transferred to a new job (it is implied he was forced out of his old one) because there is some oddities in his personality that are non-conforming. However, he remains a worthwhile employee. Bjorn is full of himself; he is arrogant and believes he is intellectually above the others in his department in the Authority (symbolism for sure). He makes a meager attempt to interact with the other "office workers." but he is insulting and often, rude. As a disciplined worker, he has set up a 55 minute work schedule for himself followed by a break. On one of his breaks, he finds The Room and discovers everything, The rooms offers him peace and provides seclusion for his lack of social acceptance. None of his co-workers believe there is a room or, at least, they deny there is one. And so the reader is wondering, is there a room, is Bjorn really the smartest one, is he simply hallucinating? His boss, Karl, seems to be the only one who rallies to his side; maybe he recognizes his brilliance, or is his brilliance possibly an illusion?

Karlsson does not tie up the novel into a neat package. He magnifies the corporate fear of many employees who will do anything to assert themselves against another employee to retain their jobs. This book could provide many long discussions. I would recommend it for those who enjoyed Then We Came to An End, by Ferris.

Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Silver Metallic
Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Silver Metallic
Price: $21.92
13 used & new from $17.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Scale Without Gimmicks or Deviations in Weight, December 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After using many different scales over the years, we are quite pleased with this Taylor Electronic Scale. Just step on this proper-sized scale, no waiting for the 000's, and your weight will appear. tried it at different times and there was a consistency of almost the same pounds and ounces. The ounces deviated at the time of the day and, of course, after dinner.

It's a simple scale: I didn't have to place it on the floor perfectly to obtain the same digital result. My now "old" scale would offer me different weights within a few minutes depending on if I moved it a few inches on the floor's surface. The manual is useful with readable instructions for battery installation, low battery indicator explanation, trouble shooting and a body mass index. The latter you may not want to see! It is based on BMI and indicates "normal" weight determined by body mass index and height. The columns for the overweight and obese are included without differentiating between male and female.

I recommend this scale and the price point is reasonable, particularly through Amazon.

PureGuardian H965 70-Hour Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Crystal White
PureGuardian H965 70-Hour Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Crystal White
Offered by Sylvane
Price: $59.95
9 used & new from $59.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Safe, Simple Humidifier, December 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since I have not used an individual humidifier for years, this unit was positively far removed from the old-type of humidifiers. Years ago, I would fill a low round humidifier with water. The nozzle would go in one direction and the unit would have to be physically moved to redirect the mist to benefit anyone. I would need to check the "bowl" for water to avoid any electrical shortage; it was not a safe item, especially for children. Tripping over it was a common occurrence.

Since then, we have a central humidifier on our heating system, which originally was costly, but it is low maintenance. However, it does not always emit enough moisture which is why I found this product intriguing. The features on this unit make sense and are useful. I believe the light is a great safety feature. The spray/mist control is important and offers three adjustments of low, medium and high spray. The water level safety feature removes the guessing game of when to fill the unit. It shuts off automatically. I do wonder if distilled water would be better for care of the unit or if tap water is just as acceptable for limiting descaling.

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel (Alex Awards (Awards))
Everything I Never Told You: A Novel (Alex Awards (Awards))
by Celeste Ng
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.22
109 used & new from $10.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Letting Your Life Slip Away, December 11, 2014
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The dynamics and tentative balance of the Lee family is a study in racism and the fierce battles to belong. The technical talent of Ms. Ng is remarkable. She is able to move the reader from the climax of the plot and invade our senses with flashbacks of this family in crisis.

A terrible tragedy occurs to Lydia, the teenage daughter of Marilyn and James Lee, an “American” mother and Chinese father. No one knows the feeling of exclusion from society better than James, who apparently feels ostracized even as an adult. He is a college professor, teaching the history of the cowboy, of all things. He is accustomed to ridicule and wants his children, particularly Lydia, to have many friends, popularity and feel a part of a social crowd.

Marilyn, on the other hand, is angry because she did not become the doctor or scientist and decides Lydia will be the one to attain those goals. Living vicariously through Lydia is a main thrust of the story. It is a sad commentary on our society and the mistakes too many parents make when believing their children want what they want.

The family is dysfunctional, the oldest child, Nathan, is overly anxious to leave the nest and poor Hannah, the youngest, is almost totally ignored and starving for affection. Ng’s most credible perception of the family’s catastrophe is seen and through her eyes and heart. She is the omniscient one without knowing it.

Marilyn’s presence as a mother comes at a great cost to the family. Her expectations preclude her from delving into her children’s hearts and knowing who they are. For an intelligent woman, she really believes her children have the same aspirations as she does. James is floundering and because he does not have a sense of belonging, it becomes a tragic tale.

The plot is precise and the author’s prose enriches the story as the fabric of this family is shoved aside. It is heartbreaking but there are responsibilities that Marilyn has abandoned. At one point in their lives, Marilyn leaves and returns to school, abandoning her family. James is not equipped to help his children get through this upheaval. When Marilyn returns, she asks the children if they behaved while she was gone. She did not apologize or offer any explanation. Tragic consequences are now entering their lives. This is an outstanding first novel; I highly recommend it.

BLACK+DECKER BDH3600SV Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology, 36-volt
BLACK+DECKER BDH3600SV Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology, 36-volt
Price: $254.99
2 used & new from $254.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER’S “ELECTRIK” BROOM, December 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I inherited my family’s Regina Electrik Broom. I think it was first made in the 1960’s and it’s still working! I never gave it away because it does the job on a wood floor by picking up the crumbs, glass particles and some dust. The cup needs to be emptied and it’s quite loud and, of course, it must be plugged into an outlet that will accommodate the length of the cord.

So here is this fabulous Black and Decker Lithium Stick Vacuum and after working with this new efficient technology, I may finally donate my Regina Broom. We assembled this easily and put it to its test on the floors and carpets. Only one screw was needed to assemble, really one screw. Needless to say, I am totally impressed. Not only does it have enormous suction capability, it is quiet, lightweight, bagless, and good-looking. We tried it on the sofa and it suctioned the invisible crumbs with no effort.

I particularly appreciate the design except I cannot find a place to store the rotary brush; it’s the only design flaw that I can find. The vacuum held its charge for about 20 minutes at least and charging is easy. The lithium battery is not replaceable, however. The product “feels” expensive, it is not junkie, it all fits together.

I liked the balance of the product probably because the head of the vacuum rotates from side to side with me. It doesn’t work against me. This is a vacuum that has definitive changes to meet my needs. I am not an obsessed housecleaner by any means, but if I’m doing it, I want it to be easier. This product removes the word “chore,” from the task!

AmazonBasics Portable External Battery Charger - 10,000 mAh
AmazonBasics Portable External Battery Charger - 10,000 mAh
Price: $29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Portable Power Bank, December 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don’t have a mode of comparison but this promises to be a “lifesaver” for me. I like the velvet pouch so I will be aware by touch that I have it with me.

Since it is my first, the manual is quite important. It offers detailed explanations of the product overview, charging and checking the power level and how to charge my devices.

My first thought is that with my charged power bank, I don’t have to meander around the airport and crawl on the floor to charge my phone or tablet. It may seem trivial, but it’s a real inconvenience to look at my phone, know my flight is delayed and I need to charge my phone immediately to make endless calls to book another flight and notify others. If you have ever tried to squeeze in among those who are charging, you will understand the importance of this solution.

I like the size of the power bank and ran a trial of charging two devices at the same time. The manual also offers trouble-shooting ideas, which is another feature. The sentences in the manual are clear and concise.

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