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L. F. Smith RSS Feed (E. Wenatchee, WA)
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Heart of a Toastmaster: True stories by, for, and about members of Toastmasters International
Heart of a Toastmaster: True stories by, for, and about members of Toastmasters International
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring stories, December 17, 2014
Fear of speaking in public is very common. In fact there are surveys that apparently show it to be the most common fear. The good news is that there is a readily available, effective, and even low-cost way to reduce that fear: Toastmasters International. This book is a collection of short essays by and about people who have overcome their fears by joining Toastmasters.

Good for them, but so what? The "so what" is that as many of them say, if they can do it, everyone can do it. In fact, the author, Sheryl Roush, says that about herself, too. That's what these stories are about. Toastmasters works near-miracles for those who take the program seriously. If you want or need to become a more competent speaker and want to feel more comfortable when you speak, then join one of the 16,000 Toastmasters clubs in over 120 countries around the world. Read this book first, though, and you'll see what membership has done for many others just like you.

This book will richly reward you for the time and effort it takes to read it.


The Red Room (A Risk Agent Novel)
The Red Room (A Risk Agent Novel)
by Ridley Pearson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.53
113 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not a hit..., December 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really like Ridley Pearson's books, particularly "Beyond Recognition," which I think is a classic in the thriller genre. That's why I was disappointed in "The Red Room."

I started it, but couldn't get into it. It seemed to be an episode in a longer story, rather than an independent story. I thought that reading the first two books in the "Risk Agent" series might help, so I found "Risk Agent" and "Choke Point" in the library. The first was OK, but I couldn't finish the second. For me, the problem is that those two books and "The Red Room" are indeed all part of one story. Unfortunately, the story-- and worse, the characters-- are one-dimensional. John Knox and Grace Chu take on mysterious assignments and run around a lot, eying people in restaurants to see if they have sinister intent, getting stalked and stalking bad guys, moving from hotel room to hotel room to stay out of the clutches of the bad guys, beating people up and getting beaten up, and endlessly chasing people and being chased. The only real difference among the three books is that they are set in different exotic cities.

This isn't to say that they're badly written. They're not; I don't think Ridley Pearson could write badly. It's just that they're not good enough to capture my interest and hold it to the end.

Of course, interest in thrillers is highly individual. My gem can be your steaming pile of do-do. All I can say is that for me, this book and the two that precede it in the series are OK genre are OK but no better. And they just don't measure up to what I know Ridley Pearson is capable of.


Marley Coffee Blend, Smile Jamaica, 24 Count
Marley Coffee Blend, Smile Jamaica, 24 Count
Price: $19.99
6 used & new from $18.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coffee-- at a price, December 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Of course, coffee reviews are completely subjective. My nectar of the gods might be your swill. However, I think Smile Jamaica is very good coffee.

I'm actually a little surprised. The description and packaging are more than a little cutesy, with Bob Marley quotations, tropical colors, etc. The coffee inside is the real deal, though. The product blurb promises "...a rich flavor, balanced acidity and full body..." that "...leaves a sweet, mellow, lingering finish." Yep, that's exactly what I experienced.

I'd happily order more-- except for one thing, the thing that accounts for my 4-star rating, rather than 5-star: The price. Right now, Amazon offers a box of 24 K-cups for $24.95 plus $4.99 shipping. Just under $1.25 EACH?! Yikes. It's good coffee-- really good, in fact-- but I'll have to think about whether it's good enough to justify that price. You will, too.


The Best American Sports Writing 2014
The Best American Sports Writing 2014
by Glenn Stout
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
61 used & new from $7.75

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection, November 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I buy the Best American Sports Writing every year, and it's always worth the price. Of course, some years are better than others, and that's due to a unique feature of the series: Every year, there is a different guest editor. This year's editor, Christopher McDougall, has done an excellent job.

Sports writing has always had a difficult time being taken seriously. Indeed, there are those who claim that writing about what amount to kid games is trivial and amounts to nothing more than reporting the details of those games. However, the writing in this collection focuses on events at the intersection of kid games and the darker side of the "real world," and there were some major happenings at that intersection during the year.

The collection features stories about the Boston Marathon bombing, the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation, the head injury controversies that are consuming football and boxing, and so on. Further, most of the essays are character-driven. That is, they focus on the people involved in the events, not simply on the details of the events. The result is stories that capture one's attention and that remain memorable.

This collection demonstrates something that most of us have known all along: Good sports writing is simply good writing. This is an excellent addition to the series, and I recommend it most highly.


The Best American Essays 2014
The Best American Essays 2014
by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
65 used & new from $8.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essay is not dead..., November 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I buy the Best American Essays every year, and it's always worth the price. Some years are better than others, and that's due to a unique feature of the series: There is a different guest editor every year. This year's guest editor, John Sullivan, has done an excellent job.

Having said that, though, I found that the twenty or so essays in the collection were darker and heavier than has been the case in recent past years. Many of them deal with difficult topics, such as child abuse and neglect, aging and dying, and racism. The essays were generally shorter than in past years, too, and this, I think, concentrated the effect they had on me. It's not that I enjoy reading "misery memoirs"; rather, these particular examples had impact. They were memorable. I still think about them.

Despite what we constantly hear, the essay is not dead as a literary form. This collection is ample proof of that, and I recommend it most highly.


The Best American Short Stories 2014
The Best American Short Stories 2014
by Jennifer Egan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.45
79 used & new from $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It was a very good year..., November 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I buy the Best American Short Stories every year, and though some years are better than others, it's always worth the price. Of course, that variation is due to a unique feature of the series: There is a different guest editor every year. This year's guest editor, Jennifer Egan, has done a very good job.

Her "bias" seemed to be for strong characters, people who fix on a principle or a habit and just won't let go. That, I think, is why more of the twenty or so stories seem memorable to me. I cared about the characters, what they were doing, and-- most importantly-- why they were doing what they were doing.

This is an exceptional addition to the annual series. I recommend it most highly.


Winsome Wood Groveland Square Dining Table in Antique Walnut Finish
Winsome Wood Groveland Square Dining Table in Antique Walnut Finish
Price: $99.00
21 used & new from $79.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A great bargain, October 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great little table at a fabulous price. I was a little worried that it might be cheap and flimsy, but it's the opposite. It looks and feels like a table that would cost three or four times as much in a furniture store. It does require assembly, but the wrench is included, and it goes together easily.

Bottom line: It's a great little occasional table, and a real bargain. I recommend it most highly.


O.D. Tanker Tool Bag
O.D. Tanker Tool Bag
Offered by BIGFLYSPORTS
Price: $15.72
8 used & new from $12.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and well priced, October 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rothco Tanker Tool Bag
This is a well-made utility bag at a very good price. I bought it to hold a reconditioned tool that came with no carrying case. I'm very satisfied with my purchase, and I recommend the bag highly.


Classic Waterworks
Classic Waterworks
Offered by E-Brands
Price: $8.99
4 used & new from $7.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun at a great price, October 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Classic Waterworks (Toy)
Waterworks is a classic game from the '70s. It's simple to learn, doesn't take long to play, and-- most importantly-- stays fun, even after repeated games. This makes it ideal to fill a few spare minutes.

Bottom line: Fun at a great price. I recommend it it highly.


Mayo Clinic The Essential Diabetes Book
Mayo Clinic The Essential Diabetes Book
by Mayo Clinic
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.02
47 used & new from $10.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, practical reference, October 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a very valuable book. My wife was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and we wanted a readable yet authoritative overview and reference. This is it.

The book is clearly written, and it's very easy to find specific topics in it. It covers all of the basics: What diabetes is, what causes it, what the effects are, how it's treated, and so on. The book is aimed for the non-expert reader, the person who wants to know what's going on and what to do about it. It doesn't talk down or up. An important part of that is the tone. Diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be taken seriously. However, a diagnosis is no reason to panic.

Bottom line: This is a great, practical reference book, particularly for the newly diagnosed diabetic. I recommend it most highly.


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