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

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Bulbrite LED11A19/827/D 11-Watt (60-Watt) Dimmable LED A19, Medium Base, Warm White
Bulbrite LED11A19/827/D 11-Watt (60-Watt) Dimmable LED A19, Medium Base, Warm White
Offered by iQlighting
Price: $21.45
2 used & new from $21.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Setting a New Standard and a 5 Year Warranty, July 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My dad was in the lighting business his whole life. I remember his traveling to college and lighting shows, coming back with new innovations. He told me that the present day bulb would evolve into something else.

He sold many lamps, especially the old gooseneck desk lamp, and talked about the need for more controlled and longer-lasting lighting. Because of my upbringing, I am aware of lighting when I enter a room, restaurant, auditorium, etc.

So I know he would have understood the features of this bulb and its applications. We used this bulb for an art deco table lamp that draws attention. The bulb was easy to screw into the socket. We instantly were impressed with its warm glow, enhancing the details of the lamp as we used the dimmer. I am impressed. We had an old dimmer switch and the Bulbrite bulb adapted to this switch smoothly.

The base of the bulb is quite different than the fluorescents and not that I know the details of its development, but I would imagine that the engineering is first-rate. I did look up the company and discovered the president has won several lighting awards. This appears to be a well-tested product.

The box contained the usual information including 800 lumens, energy cost of $1.32 per year and providing the definitive information that it replaces the 60W incandescent.

Lucky Us: A Novel
Lucky Us: A Novel
by Amy Bloom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.45
43 used & new from $12.97

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You Can Fake Pretty”, July 21, 2014
This review is from: Lucky Us: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This meaningful phrase was stated by Clara Wiilams, a black cabaret singer, who suffers from vitiligo, a skin depigmentation. Her skin looks white, often mottled, but she is a black woman who captures the heart of an older white man.

The story opens with Hazel telling her daughter, Eva, our narrator, that her father’s wife has died and they should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for them. What happens when they arrive at this house of mourning shocked me but it is an exceptional opening event to this novel. Hazel abandons Eva, leaving her well-worn suitcase on the front porch and then takes off.

This is 1939 and Eva is 12 years old; she now becomes the younger sister of beautiful and outspoken, Iris, and lives with her father, Edgar Acton, a college professor. Despite the differences between Eva, who is bookish and plain, and Iris, who is saving her pennies for Hollywood and Vine, they get along. Iris does not seem to resent her, but Iris’ agenda is so far-reaching, they are thrown into a peculiar world. They run away and Ms. Bloom provides fabulous scenes from lesbian Hollywood parties, Hedda Hopper to tenement living with a motherly landlord. Iris is not street smart enough to outlast the Hollywood competition.

The family needs to reinvent themselves and Edgar enters the picture, broke and in need of a job, even though he stole the girls’ meager savings before they left. They drive to Great Neck, New York and Edgar is hired as a butler (he practices on the trip) and the Torellis accept the entire family and move into a home on their property. Life becomes somewhat normal until Iris falls obsessively in love with Reenie, the married female cook.

The author creates secondary characters that are not squandered. There is Francisco, a make-up artist, his sisters, Gus, Reenie’s husband and Danny, the child Eva and Iris stole from a Jewish orphanage. Life moves as one incredible event fade into another. For example, Gus is of German descent and someone reports him as a German spy and he becomes a prisoner in our country, similar to the Japanese. He flees America and moves to Germany, where life is somewhat worse. All of this is recorded in letters he sends to Eva, who is now a full-fledged teenager.

Bloom’s historical expertise is woven into the story during and after the war. She doesn’t miss a trick, whether it’s Jewish influx and housing or the government buffoonery. Each character is singular. Edgar, who is really Isador Vogel, has questionable credentials. Reenie’s fate is a shock. The entire cast is strong and meaningful. There was some of the earlier John Irving with her diverse characters placed in loony situations.

Falling in love shape their lives. Falling out of love is often a devastating blow but there maybe some luck around the corner. Bloom has them move on, whether it’s mopping up the floor or creating a phony transcript to get into medical school. Highly recommended.

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir
by Alan Cumming
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual and Provocative Memoir, July 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I didn't know what to expect before reading a chronicle of this famous Scottish actor. He is a talented professional with kudos from the stage, screen and television. Now, he can add his writing skill to his credits.

From page one, I was impressed with his writing style and the emotional impact broadcasted throughout the book. He is a demonstrative man who moves the reader back and forth from his childhood to a 2010 reality show. It is a clever technique allowing him to unveil his abusive life as a young boy in Scotland to a super talented performer. He is not a braggadocio; we don't hear tales of how wonderful he is. When we learn of his brutish father, it would be a natural assumption that he went into acting to validate and lose himself. Not so. He just loves to act and he can champion many diverse roles.

Alan's "father" is impossible to accept as a decent man. Cruel to both his sons, he freely gives out physical and emotional punishment. Alan's fear of the next paternal onslaught is palpable. The man should have been in jail. We do not find out why his mother allowed it to happen most of the time. I don't accept the reasoning but Alan puts his mother, Mary Darling, on a pedestal. She was a sharp observer to her sons' agonies.

In the throes of the TV show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" Alan is committed to uncovering his family's past, specifically his maternal grandfather. There are mysteries to disclose and Alan is affected with overwhelming emotions. Moreover, Alex tells his brother, Tom a startling revelation, divulging a life-changing paternity admission. This information catapults Alan into a tailspin and believes he has the answer to his father's cruelty. But yet, the man was an equally opportunity abuser, handing out his mistreatment to both sons. We live in the world of DNA now, which can provide many answers and some solutions.

Alan Cumming does not seem to possess the egos of many actors. He is self-effacing and is devoted to his family and friends. His range of acting is remarkable. If you want to read a highly emotionally charged memoir, this will book will be the one for the year. The Scottish landscape and Alan's childhood home is a bonus.

All Fall Down: A Novel
All Fall Down: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $10.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plunging Into Hell, July 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Jennifer Weiner is my wisecracking girlfriend who really is smart. She may seem superficial at times but she knows the score and is a big cheerleader for women. She does not take their problems lightly and, at the same time, she can punish them for their lack of confidence or ability to discern the problem.

Here we have Allison Weiss, a Jewish girl, from the East, who wrangles with herself over almost every little thing. She is an only child who has an only child, Eloise, aka Ellie, who is annoying. This 5 year old screams out certain words as Allison insists on placating her. Why? Guilt that she is not a good enough mother or making up for what she lacked by her own mother?

The gist of the story, centering on addiction, is her overwhelming responsibility for raising her daughter, acting as cheerleader for women, and serving as the breadwinner. Her husband, Dave, is not moving up the corporate and/or publishing ladder and becomes a poor provider. Instead of helping his wife, his silence and disapproval seems to rain on Allison's sensibilities. She becomes a controversial blog writer and her talent helps maintain their lifestyle. As an only child, she is responsible for her wonderful father who is plummeting into dementia and her mother who, she believes, has led a charmed life as she kept her distance from Allison.

Weiner's vivid description of the ascent into pill addiction peppered with alcohol is fascinating. She gets into her soul and the reader can feel the craving and the deadly inability to stop. The addict will do anything for the next pill or the next fix, just to feel somewhat normal. Forgot about the highs, Weiner brings Allison to "rock" bottom.

Weiner helped me understand addiction and the description of the treacherous withdrawal is the best I have read. The author takes us to a rehab clinic that houses a heterogeneous group of patients, who have terrible lives and deadly demons. Her husband drives her to this mediocre place, with an air of coldness and loathing.

Allison moves through the stages of addiction, denial and withdrawal with clarity and intelligence despite her horrific dependence. There are a few twists in the characterizations, which made sense. Some parts of the novel were tedious and became encumbered and repetitive. Addicts repeat their transgressions and Weiner, at times, reprises the same scenes too many times. Her levels of blame and agonies were introduced in replicated venues and scenes.

Weiner drew me into the characters; I did not have to like them, but she made sure I understood Allison Weiss. I wish I had a better grasp on her husband's thoughts and wonder if he had any guilt. I did learn enough about drugs for a lifetime.

Guerlain Abeille Royale Intense Restoring Lift Nourishing Day Cream for Women, 1.6 Ounce
Guerlain Abeille Royale Intense Restoring Lift Nourishing Day Cream for Women, 1.6 Ounce
Offered by Club Distributors
Price: $104.99
19 used & new from $99.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Equal in Quality to Many Nourishing Creams, July 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a big fan and user of Guerlain. This is an expensive cream and it does not make my skin feel greasy or overly hydrated. However, I don't believe it is any better than more inexpensive moisturizers that promise restorative results. I haven't noticed a visible difference in my skin since using it. However, I am pleased with the quality and although, it is rather high-priced, it is not in the $300 or $400 per jar category!

The Arsonist: A novel
The Arsonist: A novel
by Sue Miller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.19
71 used & new from $12.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Candid View of Family Crisis In a Meandering Plot, June 26, 2014
This review is from: The Arsonist: A novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Frankie (Francesca) Rowley returns to the United States after 15 years establishing sites in Africa as an aid worker. She is semi-heartbroken and burned out and retreats to her family's summer home in Pomeroy, New Hampshire. Her parents, retired academics, have converted their summer home to a year round residence as they become one of the town people rather than the summer people.

Sue Miller's primary cast is the immediate family with Frankie, her mother, Sylvia and her father, Alfie. As the three of them are grappling with their reunion, the town explodes with at least six fires, which are not accidental, but arson. Frankie, now her in her 40's, meets Bud Jacobs, the new owner of Pomeroy's newspaper and former dynamic D.C. political journalist, twice-divorced and setting down new roots in this small town. He is a wonderful secondary character, he is smart, thoughtful and cares about people. The sexual scenes are filled with passion and nuance. There seems to be instant and realistic attraction, but Frankie has not decided what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Ho-hum.

The mystery of the fires initiates a lack-luster investigation and one of the least exciting detective stories. However, the gist of the story is Sylvia and Alfie's marriage. Sylvia is inwardly dissatisfied with her marriage; she no longer loves Alfie, even as he is plummeting into Alzheimer's. When we meet him, he is in the early stages and his lucid moments apparently bring him recognition of his doomed failings. Alfie's deterioration provides the crux of the story as any spouse or caretaker can identify with Sylvia's, anger, solicitousness, solitude and the ultimate worry about money. Sylvia's myriad of emotions provides a solid basis of the novel. Her guilt and anger are front and center.

So this non-idyllic retirement evolves into helplessness and bird's eye view of Alfie vanishing into dementia. Ms. Miller's writing is excellent; I am a fan of her talent to tell us about family imbalance and foreboding.

Despite Miller's excellent grasp of identity issues, the plot does not provide the same depth of fascination. Frankie's floundering about her future endeavors, despite the ultra-sexual and exciting relationship with Bud, becomes unsettling. The denouement regarding the arson is anti-climatic. Read this novel for Miller's insight into midlife crises, she is at the top of her form. When I wrote my review of The Senator's Wife a few years ago, I encouraged the reader to stay with it, keep reading. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for this book. The mystery fails to "ignite," but Miller captures the complications of another family in a disaster.

VINCENT LONGO La Riviera Sun Bronzer for Face and Body, Copper Kiss
VINCENT LONGO La Riviera Sun Bronzer for Face and Body, Copper Kiss
Price: $32.00
4 used & new from $32.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Instant Bronzing, June 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was instantly surprised by the immediate addition of bronze coloring on my fair skin. I mixed the colors together and it went on a bit too heavy. An applicator could be included with directions for mixing. I will use it again but I will use less. This product has an added benefit as it can be used on the body also, which is probably why it is so concentrated for better coverage.

The compact is rather cheap. For this price point, the bronzer should be in a better quality case.
I was pleasantly surprised this was made in Italy (not China) and that it is hypoallergenic and cruelty free.

DII Womens Microfiber, Machine Washable, Perfect for College Dorm, Pools, Gyms, Locker Rooms, Bathrooms Shower Wrap, Ruby
DII Womens Microfiber, Machine Washable, Perfect for College Dorm, Pools, Gyms, Locker Rooms, Bathrooms Shower Wrap, Ruby
Price: $17.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic Shower Wrap, June 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I washed this separately before wearing it. I didn't want to take the chance that the red could run on other clothes. It washed well, did not shrink and the velcro held up during the wash and dry cycle.

The fabric is lightweight and it fit me well enough. I would have liked a more plush fabric that could also dry while I'm blow-drying my hair or walking around. I am familiar with these wraps and would keep this for one for visiting guests. The velcro is a bit harsh on my skin, this is certainly not a spa-qualiity wrap, but it is quite sufficient for an inexpensive wrap.

I'm not sure I understand "Design Imports India." The wrap is made in China.

Coffee Blenders Escape Single Serve Cups for Keurig K-Cup Brewers,15 Count
Coffee Blenders Escape Single Serve Cups for Keurig K-Cup Brewers,15 Count
Price: $20.14
2 used & new from $12.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NO Taste or Flavor, June 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I expected a robust flavor from a dark roast. No sugar or creamer was added in order to provide a pure evaluation of the taste.. I don't know if it's the additive but the coffee tasted similar to hot water. I've been using Keurig for years and I mean years. We bought one when the first brewer was available for retail users. Adding my experience with trying hundreds of coffees through the years, I was anxious to try a different brew. It was disappointing. I can say positively it was fresh but I attribute that to the Keurig vacuum process. It is probably the weakest coffee I have tasted in a single serve cup made for Keurig. And I prefer medium roasts, but this brew did not come close to a light roast.

I am not less stressed but that is not my determining factor in rating this Coffee Blenders Single Serve. The price is quite high, also. The more popular Keurig k-cups have demanded exorbitant pricing, but $1.28 per cup seems really off the charts.

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing: A Novel
The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing: A Novel
by Mira Jacob
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.22
69 used & new from $12.90

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Stunning Debut, June 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Family gatherings are strong memories for all of us whose childhoods impacted on our view of our place in life. Mira Jacobs provides us with poignant family get-togethers of a middle class Indian immigrant household. While moving the reader between the early 1980's and late 1990's, we are immersed in the family of Amina Eapen. Amina is the only American-born member of her immediate family. Thomas, her father is a surgeon, Kamala, her mother, believes life would be better back in India and her older brother, Akhil, is a gifted intellectual with debilitating sorrows.

As the story opens, Amina is 30 years old, living in Seattle as a wedding photographer working for an exacting boss. She is trained as a photojournalist but escapes into celebratory photography as the result of one famous, controversial photo. Keep in mind that Amina is creative with a camera, she produces candid snapshots exhibiting soul and individuality.

Amina's parents live in Albuquerque and she returns home for a short visit after her mother tells her something is wrong with her father. The short trip becomes a long one when Amina discovers that he is acting strangely. Kamala, a Born Again, is often in denial and finds comfort in the preacher du jour that provides her with consolation for short periods of time. Her skill at cooking represents comfort and is a link to the past, when the family was whole. Her mother's unsubtle reminders and match-making attempts provide a humorous look at the importance of tradition in this family.

Amina cannot escape memories of tragedies. There was the Salem India 1979 explosive family visit prompting Thomas to relocate his family to America permanently. Memories of her brainy brother, Akhil, haunt her and she battles with the past as she faces her father's diagnosis and begins to rekindle her own past. Her brother's leather jacket is symbolic of multiple layers, including an immigrant teen-ager, smooth, dark tragedy and the need to belong. It is a brilliant representation of the family's movement into the American way of life and the horror it can bring. Jacob outdid herself with that technique.

Families are often messy and Jacob fulfills the reader with the joys, anger, hindrance and grief of Amina's dysfunctional Indian family in America. The book is an excellent debut but comparing her to Jhumpa Lahiri is stretching Jacob's talent. Lahiri knows when to stop, this is an overlong novel and Jacobs does not capture the profound tragedies with nuance. However, she is an honest writer with enormous skill and can make the reader both uneasy, sad and provide us with some comedy. 4.5 stars

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