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Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014
Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014
by Alice Munro
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.78

5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure of insight and life observation, September 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"That Alice Munro is one of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time ought to go without saying by now," wrote Charles McGrath, who edited many of Monro's early stories at the New Yorker. A year after he wrote that, in October 2013, Monro won the Nobel Prize for literature, the Swedish Academy declaring her "master of the contemporary short story."

This collection includes 24 of her finest works from the years 1995 to 2014 and is a treasure of insight and life observation. The stories bring to mind other masters of the short form like Anton Chekhov and Katherine Anne Porter and offer the same sort of clean language, total lack of pretense, and wonderful blend of particularity and universality about the human experience. They take the everyday people and occurrences of life and make of them works of art to which we can all relate.

One of the things I love about this collection is that it includes works that Monro has said are "autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact," and "closer to the truth than usual." In "Dear Life," "Working for a Living," and "Home" we see the joys and pains of her own early years and her perspective as a writer. It's fascinating that a little Canadian girl raised on a failing fox and mink farm, writing so often about her own corner of the world, the small towns and flatlands of Ontario, grew up to become one of the world's great authors. Her stories are rich and dense, full of power.

This is a collection to love and savor as a reader and study and learn from as a writer. It's unique because Monro has experienced what most of the other recognized 'great' writers of Western literature have not: bearing and raising children, being a working mother, getting divorced from a husband. She brings to the table a literary form, part of the planet, and point of view that have never before been so recognized and honored. Bravo!


Kyocera CFP26BK Ceramic Nonstick Fry Pan, 10-Inch
Kyocera CFP26BK Ceramic Nonstick Fry Pan, 10-Inch
Price: $46.50
6 used & new from $46.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Great, deep fry pan, September 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very handy pan with nice, steep sides for stir-fries and sauces, a very effective non-stick surface, and an attractive and useful stainless handle. We've cooked scrambled eggs, pancakes, and stir-fries in it and been very pleased with the results. Since we no longer use Teflon, we're also pleased the pan has a PTFE-free, PFOA-free, Cadmium-free cooking surface but do wonder what is in the "proprietary ceramic nonstick coating" and have not yet been able to find out on this site or in any of the write-ups that came with the pan. We'd like to be sure that the 'proprietary' part does not include any chemicals or substances that could be found to be harmful as Teflon was and hope the company will make that information available. I'll report back what we learn and edit this review if necessary.


Dear Daughter: A Novel
Dear Daughter: A Novel
by Elizabeth Little
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
68 used & new from $13.03

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Character and narrative style not for me, September 24, 2014
This review is from: Dear Daughter: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I expected to love this based on critical reviews liked Tana French's, but I just couldn't get into it at all. From the very beginning character Jane's voice put me off, and I just didn't like the way the book was written. The language use seemed effortful and called attention to itself rather than drawing me into the story. I kept noticing things I didn't like, such as Jane's frequent swearing, her 'clever' (or show-off-y) descriptions, and the recurring insertion of text messages, supposed news articles, email, and other varied forms of material after each chapter, which interrupted the narrative and often seemed fake or unlike their real counterparts to me. I tried to read this on five or six occasions, but I just never liked it enough to want to keep reading. Is it a good mystery? I don't know because the style of the writing and the main character's voice and manner put me off too much to find out.


Scotts EZ Seed Sun and Shade Seed Mix, 3.75-Pound Jug
Scotts EZ Seed Sun and Shade Seed Mix, 3.75-Pound Jug
Price: $15.49
6 used & new from $15.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Good marks for handiness and ease of use, September 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really like the way this has the mulch and fertilizer mixed in, which takes the guesswork out of what you're doing. I also like how easy it was to use with the handy container and the way you're told to water when the earth turns light brown. Since my dog likes to dig holes in the grass, this is the kind of product we need to have around. It gets high marks already for ease of use and good, clear directions. I'll report back and adjust the stars for how well it does for grass replacement in our Pacific Northwest lawn.


The Bookseller: A Novel
The Bookseller: A Novel
by Cynthia Swanson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A compelling but ultimately superficial tale, September 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read "The Bookseller" through in less than 24 hours, which reflects what strong narrative drive this novel has. Although some parts bothered me, namely a sort of 'unreality' or fakeness in so many of the characters and settings, I was drawn into the story and wanted to find out what was going on. It was also interesting to see the early Sixties' housing developments, malls, big cars, Formica, and suburban sensibilities portrayed as so cool and progressive when in fact much of that lifestyle and its consumerism, racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia are now commonly viewed as the antitheses of enlightenment and routinely criticized.

The book kept me reading but so many things about it did not add up--the way husband Lars spoke and acted, the whole set-up of the bookstore and Kitty's life with her woman friend. These characters did not sound or act like real people but more like one-dimensional storybook or television characters, which seemed in ways a good depiction of the outward homogeneity and 'keeping up appearances' aspects of the era. This air of unreality also added intrigue to the story and kept me wondering what was going on, but it made "The Bookseller" seem much more like a fairy tale than realistic fiction.

I was okay with that until many of the questions started being answered and the real from the unreal became more clear. I'd kept thinking there would have to be more to this than the apparent depiction of a rich though not totally stress-free life as a married homemaker with children and an amorous, attentive husband versus a lonely and empty 'Old Maid' life as a failing bookstore owner with few interests and one partner-friend. I mean, how much of a contest is that?

Unfortunately, the 'insights' the protagonist draws about her situation struck me as far too simplistic, stereotyped and offensive to be in any way illuminating or satisfying. Looking back, I found the portrayal of her two lives manipulative and unbelievable, like trying to pass off saccharine as cane sugar or Formica as real stone. What Kitty supposedly comes to see about her child Michael, her friend Frieda, and her maid Alma also lacks insight and never truly acknowledges or validates them for who they are. To have it passed off as more feels sorely lacking.

This novel was cleverly written but ultimately empty and superficial. The alternate reality and road-not-taken aspects, though not outstandingly original, were much more intriguing than the social, psychological, and sociological commentary, which struck me as shallow and uninformed. I was intrigued as I was reading but felt quite let down and even annoyed by the end.


Broadchurch
Broadchurch
by Erin Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.08
43 used & new from $12.50

3.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather watch the series, September 17, 2014
This review is from: Broadchurch (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's a comment complaint that a movie is not nearly as good as the novel on which is was based, but I've found many such movies to be fine works of art in their own right. Novels written after TV shows or movies, however, have never been of interest to me because they've never seemed like REAL novels. That may be an unfair over-generalization, but it is often true that such books are written quickly and lack what many would consider literary merit. I ordered this thinking it was the novel a series was based on rather than the other way around. I started reading and was immediately put off by the inelegant and clichéd language use, which I could not see following for more than 400 pages. All the blurbs on the book were about what was good about the series, not this book itself. I'd far rather watch that than read this.


Scrabble Game (Electronic Scoring)
Scrabble Game (Electronic Scoring)
Price: $21.99
4 used & new from $21.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Bring back the wooden tiles!, September 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Scrabble is one of the world's best all-time games, and I love it--but this set, even with its electronic scoring, is nothing special. The plastic tiles and tile holders are not nearly as nice as wooden ones, and the quarter-fold board is not as nice as a traditional board either. I ordered this because I love the game and thought another set might be useful, but I just don't like the plastic at all. The scoring for me is not worth the trouble of having to supply batteries, though the timing options are nice.


Death of a Nightingale (Nina Borg #3)
Death of a Nightingale (Nina Borg #3)
by Lene Kaaberbol
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.79
91 used & new from $0.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and beautifully written but with more shifts in point of view than I like, September 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Compelling and beautifully written, this novel with its different story threads and points of view has drawn me right in, but the continual shifts in character and situation have made it more effortful to read than works with fewer shifts are. The constantly changing of point of view makes it harder to really get to know any one character. At more than one hundred pages in, I still feel at a remove from all of them and miss characters like Natasha or Olga when the story is not focused on them for what seems too long a time.

With so much going on, it's also hard to re-orient yourself anytime you put the book down for a while. I think it would be better to have read the previous two books in the series first because there are characters and situations from those alluded to or appearing in this--and I wish I knew more about them. Although I admire this and really want to sink into it, I want to read the other books first to see if that makes this one more reader-friendly. Instead of feeling immersed in the story, I feel like I am working much of the time to keep up with it.


Black and Decker TO3250XSB 8-Slice Extra Wide Toaster Oven
Black and Decker TO3250XSB 8-Slice Extra Wide Toaster Oven
Offered by Blessed Living _ BRAND NEW - FAST SHIPPING _ This item cannot be shipped to Alaska - Hawaii - Puerto Rico - PO Box and OUTSIDE of USA
Price: $87.01
2 used & new from $59.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A great, all-around toaster oven, September 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This BIG toaster oven is a great addition to the kitchen both for those who need more oven space and those who don't need as much. Cooking just for two much of the time, I think this will help us conserve electricity and simplify many of our meals. I love the way it broils, bakes and makes perfect toast and can also hold large casserole dishes, cooking everything uniformly and well. I can see using it to replace our main oven's use much of the time and think it would be very handy for singles or couples who need a sizable toaster oven. This will also be very useful when serving larger groups when more oven space is needed.

The appearance is alright (though not notably stylish or streamlined) if you have stainless and black in your kitchen. This might be hard to situate, however, if you don't have sufficient available counter space. The only thing I really don't like about it is the way the top gets so hot, which necessitates pulling it out from under the cabinets and presents a bit of a hazard. The relatively light weight does not bother me, nor do the control knobs, though I would prefer it if they were stainless and looked a little less 'busy.' I especially like the modern look and smooth-opening, substantial feel of the glass door and its nice stainless bar handle.


I Love You More: A Novel
I Love You More: A Novel
by Jennifer Murphy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.27
81 used & new from $1.27

5.0 out of 5 stars A bewitching tale and mezmerizing fiction: Could this be the start of a new detective series?, September 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This bewitching coming of age novel and murder mystery reminded me both of Shirley Jackson's "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" and Alice Hoffman's "Practical Magic." I read it through in under 24 hours, totally hooked by the central mystery, the timeless and sometimes creepy Southern atmosphere, and the voice and personality of 12-year-old narrator Picasso Lane. I also really liked detective Kyle Kennedy and the sense of normalcy he added to the mix, a mortal caught up in the maelstrom. This seemed at first like a good, regular mystery that became more like a myth or modern day fairy tale as it progressed and ended in a way that could portend a wonderful new character in detective fiction.

The writing and the plotline rolled out, smooth and beautifully crafted, so much so that it's hard to believe this is a first novel. The story just got better and more engrossing as it went along with some good red herrings and wonderful characterization. Only a few parts didn't work for me, including the attitude of the wives towards each other and Oliver near the end, and also what they did together during their woodland meetings. I liked the eerie 'Witches of Eastwick' sense of them on the whole, however.

It also was more than a little disturbing, though a clear sign of the novel's power, that this book had a way of making murder seem justified, which I will never buy. "I Love You More" introduces a character too compellingly and poignantly crafted not to be read about again. When Picasso sees her future near the end of the novel, I suddenly saw it too and thought what an absolutely fantastic prequel this could be, a truly mythic creation. I'm already eager to read more.


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