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OXO Good Grips Toilet Brush & Canister Set
OXO Good Grips Toilet Brush & Canister Set
Price: $22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Super handy to use, April 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderfully designed toilet brush. It comes right out of its holder without a glitch and goes back in just as easily, with the sides closing shut. There's no drippy mess when you use it, and the brush is tapered so it fits into the toilet hole handily and scrubs there and around the rim well. The stark white color is not quite a match next to our fixtures, but I like everything else about it, including the nice, long handle.


My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope
My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope
by Nomi Isak
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.18
48 used & new from $12.15

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story but different viewpoints could improve it, April 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book very moving and inspiring but also not always credible. While I admired a huge amount of what author Ellie Laks wrote about helping animals and troubled youth, other sections were harder to accept. The whole part on applying the principles of 'The Secret' to avoid financial ruin, for example, really put me off. I just don't believe in the `Law of Attraction' and think it panders to our less compassionate, blame-the-victim, materialistic instincts.

I also found some of the rescues too much like compulsive or addictive behavior, such as when Ellie left her first child and husband so much of the time to keep acquiring more animals. There can be a fine line between devotion and obsession, and sometimes I felt that line was crossed. It didn't seem right that horses who had terror of the saddle and had been abused should have to face that fear and be saddled again, as Ellie said all such horses at the Gentle Barn must be. I also wondered at some of the extreme efforts to prolong the lives of crate calves who were so near death and had already suffered horribly. It sometimes seemed this was more about meeting people's needs to rescue animals and feel good about that rather than providing whatever the animals needed most. I don't know if so much contact with the public, for example, would be what many of the animals actually enjoyed.

The problem of mistreatment of farm and other animals is all too real, and I`m grateful the Gentle Barn brings attention to that and for the good it does. I'm just not entirely sure I believe all the accounts of events in this book and think aspects of the treatment given seem controlling or excessive. I would have liked this book better if it had been written by someone not connected with the Gentle Barn who could have given a more balanced treatment, capturing Ellie's tremendous drive, enthusiasm, and voice but also providing others' accounts and experiences. This seemed at times too promotional and self-serving, which undermined the story and made it harder to believe.


A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran
A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran
by Shane Bauer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.25
47 used & new from $10.09

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A moving story I could never fully believe, April 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This was a fascinating and often moving read, but I simply couldn't believe the authors' account of innocently wandering into Iran. Their failure to assume responsibility for their acts and their continuing sense of entitlement also began to grate on me as the story progressed, even as I sympathized with their pain. It was never credible that a fact-loving journalist educated at Berkeley and living in the Middle East, along with his two bright, well-educated friends, would have no clue where they'd traveled on vacation or would think a tourist attraction they drove to was one hundred miles from the Iranian border when it was in fact only about three miles away. Did none of them ever look at a map to see where they were traveling? They repeatedly stress how knowledgeable they are of the Middle East, yet we're supposed to believe they had no idea of basic geography most tourists to the area would know?

It was also quite suspicious that they would begin their `recreational hike' towards Iran in the dark after 10 pm in a rugged area near the border where locals say they are no real trails and no one hikes for fun because of the steep terrain and presence of both land mines and smugglers in the area. They had no sleeping bags or camping gear and apparently just slept on the ground that first night, but we readers learn almost nothing about that critical part of the story (unless we Google news sources for the information) because it's left out: the tale opens when Shane wakes up to the `minty' mountain air.

From the book itself it's clear these three are good at lying and do it much of the time. They fake being on a hunger strike, for example, devise an elaborate code to smuggle out to their families, and coordinate their stories ahead of various events to work against Iranian authorities. Of course, this is all understandable, given that they're imprisoned and don't want to be hurt, but it also undermines their credibility about never knowing how close the border was and other aspects of what they say about their experience. I suspect, as others have, that they were there for Shane to get a story, and the situation grew much worse that ever foreseen.

What I couldn't understand was why they would never just apologize for what they did: Knowingly or not, they'd traversed another nation's land and should not have been where they were. This was neither respectful of Iran's borders nor of the very touchy situation between our nation and Iran. These travelers, however, didn't often seem to think about the impact of their actions on other people, such as their guards, their attorney, various diplomats, and others in our country and abroad who spent thousands of hours and over $1.5 million because of their little hike. While they openly sympathize with fellow prisoners, for example, the men report taking an extra dinner tray each night, which would presumably mean less food for other people.

They also make demands all the time, Sarah shouting for tea and slapping her guard without blowback, Josh telling his guard, "I'm angry with him for slamming my window a few days ago. I want an apology. But he doesn't acknowledge it . So I say it again, louder." This is hardly like Abu Ghraib or the Gulag, and although these three liken themselves to other political prisoners held under horrifying conditions, they in fact are treated with kid gloves most of the time and end up having daily meetings outside together, TV's in their cells, decorated birthday cakes, and the ability to order as much food as they want and to brew beer and grow vegetables in their cells. Of course, the experience also deprived them of contact with home for months at a time and was harsh in other ways, especially at first, but overall I was surprised at what relatively good treatment they received given where they were and thought it sounded far better than the plight of those held by our country at Guantanamo. In fact, I sympathized at times with the Iranian jailers, who had to apologize to these young people on more than one occasion and often seemed to make an emotional connection with them, trying to make their situations a little better.

That look at the Iranian people and the vivid portrayal of both good and bad inside their prisons and culture was one of the most interesting aspects of the book. I thought it also showed these travelers in very human terms, their longings and jealousies, and was beautifully written in places, capturing their inner lives. I could feel for the authors in many ways, but a recurring problem for me with their book was what seemed a lack of honesty on which it was based and the way they never seemed to broaden their view much beyond their perspective, seldom admitting any fault or responsibility at all.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2014 3:32 PM PDT


Dove Restorative Treatment with Anatolian Pomegranate Seed Oil, 3.3 Ounce
Dove Restorative Treatment with Anatolian Pomegranate Seed Oil, 3.3 Ounce
Price: $11.19
3 used & new from $11.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Scent too strong and results not that great, March 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I used this according to the directions after shampooing but did not think it improved the look of my hair. The scent was also stronger than I like, though it did dissipate over time. The product added some nice shine to my hair when I applied it later, a few days after shampooing when I was due for another shampoo, but my hair was a little greasy by then so I did not want to wear it that way. All in all, I don't feel like using this much since I don't like the intensity of the smell and the results are not that motivating.


Omron Pain Relief Pro
Omron Pain Relief Pro
Price: $42.12
41 used & new from $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Effective, affordable unit for home use, March 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this because I've had problems with arm/elbow pain in the the past and thought it would be very nice to have such a unit on hand at home. I've liked Omron products in general over the years and think this seems well-built and nicely compact. The directions are good and it's not hard to set up, though I found all the warnings a little intimidating. Since I myself have no aches or pains at present, I let a family member with a bad shoulder try this so I could have more info for my review, and he absolutely loves it. He says the power is great and it gives him relief as good as at the PT office and other, larger TENS units he's used in the past. I think it would be nice if this device came with more than once set of pads (as some electric toothbrushes do with brushes) so that different members of the family could use it regularly. Other than that, I think this is a good unit so long as one reads all the warnings and is careful not to use it near metal or body parts ( the heart, the head, and elsewhere--read the product information) where it should not be used.


Gemini: A Novel
Gemini: A Novel
by Carol Cassella
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.70
73 used & new from $6.19

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent novel but didn't draw me in, March 10, 2014
This review is from: Gemini: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I eagerly awaited this novel, but once I began reading did not find the narrative drive strong enough to sustain my interest. I never really identified with the doctor protagonist or why she cared about that particular Jane Doe patient so much, and the alternating chapters with the character Raney, though well written, served to detract from the book's forward momentum for me, like why were we following this girl all of a sudden? I was not engrossed enough in either story line to have a stake and grew impatient, feeling that not enough of interest was happening and I didn't know where the book was going. I eventually looked ahead to see the outcome and found that original and intriguing, but the way the story was presented moved too slowly for me and did not pull me in.


Dove Beauty Bar, White, 4 Bars
Dove Beauty Bar, White, 4 Bars
Price: $7.19
15 used & new from $4.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Our favorite bar soap for 29 years, February 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We've been using Dove for going on 30 years and still love it more than any other bar soap out there. We started for a baby with sensitive skin, and my husband and I both like how non-irritating and moisturizing it is. We actually use the unscented variety most of the time, but I like the scent of the scented bar and don't find it overwhelming as many scented products are. The bars are lovely, pure-looking and white, and the dove is such a wonderful symbol. I guess it would be better if this were a local and organic company, but for something from the mainstream this has been a good product, and I appreciate their ads celebrating women of various ages and body types.


Quicken WillMaker Plus 2014 Edition: Book & Software Kit
Quicken WillMaker Plus 2014 Edition: Book & Software Kit
by Nolo Editors
Edition: Paperback
Price: $31.65
42 used & new from $27.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and not-too-hard to use for straightforward situations, February 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unlike some reviewers here, I have not used earlier versions of this product nor spent a lot of time over the years writing and changing wills. My husband and I have a very straightforward situation and each just need a basic will since the ones we had done 30 years ago with a lawyer have been misplaced. This product was easy to load and no more difficult than Quicken to use. I think it's a good bet for straightforward situations like ours but would not want to use it if I had more complicated arffairs because the consequences if mistakes were made could be too great.


Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness
Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness
by Neil Swidey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.90
53 used & new from $11.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, significant, and moving read, February 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of the most compelling and interesting nonfiction books I have read in years. It reminded me of Into Thin Air in the gripping way it brought the scenes and characters to life. It also educated me tremendously about environmental engineering and the incredible and often unacceptable risks to the workers who build the great tunnels, bridges and other construction projects of our world and the way governmental and private interests, safety and budget concerns, often collide. It's reminiscent of the costs of war and the way young lives and unquestioning risk takers are required to fuel the system. Meticulously researched and brilliantly presented, this is creative nonfiction at its best, both heart-rending and thought-provoking.


One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters
One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters
by Larry Dossey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.53
53 used & new from $15.37

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, February 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book mixes quotations from Jung and James with accounts by everyday people of their extrasensory experiences and faith healings. It has all manner of psychic experiences in it and was too 'far out' and anecdotal (as opposed to rigorously researched) for me, but I did like many of the ideas raised and respected spiritual and psycological thinkers quoted.


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