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Caravan Collection by Couleur Nature Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towels, 20-inches by 30-inches, Orange/Natural, Set of 2
Caravan Collection by Couleur Nature Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towels, 20-inches by 30-inches, Orange/Natural, Set of 2
Price: $39.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not great, August 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are indeed tea towels, and as such are meant to cover a teapot or dish of scones, and are not primarily to be used as absorbent dishtowels. I was thus not disappointed by the fact that they were not very absorbent or as useful as a terrycloth dishtowel - I did not expect them to be such. However, they were in my opinion only just OK as tea towels.

The stripe was a dull gray and not what I would describe as more olive, as shown in the picture. Rather, the stripe looked washed out and quite dull. These towels are indeed linen, but they were quite thin and not very luxurious feeling. They came in a plastic bag and would not be very suitable as a hostess gift. The lack of a box, or nice packaging, may be due to the fact that being a Vine item they cannot be gifted. However, if you purchase these and they do not come in a box you may be disappointed by their unsuitability as a gift.


Sterling Silver Twist-Cuff Decorative End Cap Bracelet
Sterling Silver Twist-Cuff Decorative End Cap Bracelet
Price: $105.24
2 used & new from $75.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but does not come in a box, July 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a nice bracelet and arrived exactly as pictured. My wife has a narrow wrist, but she was able to adjust to for her wrist without it being too loose. She thought the bracelet was quite attractive - ideal for casual occasions and even for a bit more formal ones. The two-toned gold and sterling silver design allows it to go with either and both.

Please note that while the description of the "Amazon Curated Collection" talks of gemstones and diamonds, this refers to the collection in general, not specifically to this particular bracelet, which contains neither. It is also stated that the pieces in this collection come in custom boxes, but this Vine item came in a plastic bag inside of a padded envelope. The lack of a box may just be a feature of the Vine program, since their items are not to be gifted, but a prospective purchaser should make sure that theirs comes in a box. I am not judging the lack of a box as a deficiency because being a Vine item it may deliberately not have been sent in one. However, if it was not a Vine item I would have considered the lack of a box to be a deficiency.


Shetland Bus: A Wwii Epic Of Escape, Survival, And Adventure
Shetland Bus: A Wwii Epic Of Escape, Survival, And Adventure
by David Armine Howarth
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.14
79 used & new from $4.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A World War II Memoir, July 25, 2014
This is David Howarth’s memoir of his time as a Royal Navy sub-lieutenant, the second in command of the installation in the Shetlands that was running fishing boats to and from German occupied Norway. These boats brought allied agent into Norway and refugees from Norway to Britain. The book tells of many exciting adventures of the Norwegian sailors who risked their lives (several of whom lost them) in these endeavors.

The book discuses many interesting items, such as the Shetland islands, and Norwegian fishing boats, in addition to the heroic tails of the men who fought against the German occupation. However, the book is a memoir, and is focused on the operations that Howarth was supervising, as opposed to all of the British actions against the Germans in Norway. As such it discusses an aborted attempt to destroy the German battleship Tirpitz, but not the later successful ones carried out by the British Navy and Air force.

I recommend the book to those who like WWII memoirs, but those who are more interested in the overall aspects of the fighting against the Germans in Norway may find the book a bit too focused on Howarth’s involvement and that of the Norwegian sailors he supervised. The book was also a bit matter-of-fact, as opposed to being a page-turner.


South From Corregidor
South From Corregidor
by John Morrill
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.21
34 used & new from $10.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent WWII memoir, July 22, 2014
This review is from: South From Corregidor (Paperback)
This is a reprint of a 1943 memoir that describes the heroic escape of 18 men through Japanese held waters, in a 36-foot boat from Corregidor to Australia. It has been augmented with numerous maps, some drawings and a review of what happened to most of the men after their journey, all of which I felt greatly added to the original text. The men who escaped were part of the crew of the minesweeper Quail that was sunk to keep the ship from falling into Japanese hands with the fall of Corregidor. Rather than surrender, the captain of the Quail, John Morrill, led members of his crew to escape in a 36-foot diesel boat. This book describes their travel through Japanese held waters using a makeshift sextant and salvaged maps. The book described the conditions on Corregidor prior to its capture by the Japanese as well as the details of the journey. It discusses the problems that encountered and the assistance provided by loyal Filipino’s who at the risk of their lives by helping them, often sharing their meager food.

I found this to be one of the better WWII memoirs and recommend it to anyone interested in the history of WWII and adventures at sea.


Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring
Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing history, packed with insight and excitement, July 17, 2014
This is an excellent and engrossing book. It details the formation and actions of the Scorge spy ring in Tokyo. The book is based on the thirty years of research by Gordon Prange into the Japanese side of WWII and all of its aspects. The book is a fitting companion to “At Dawn We Slept” and “Miracle at Midway”. Like these other books, “Target Tokyo” is a blend of meticulous scholarship and engrossing writing that gives new insights into the history of World War II.

What is in the book –
“Target Tokyo” paints a vivid picture of the members of the Sorge spy ring, particularly Richard Scorge, who arguably contributed greatly to the USSR being able to defend Moscow in 1941 by being able to transfer troops that had been stationed in the East to guard against an attack by Japan. Sorge was able to convince the Soviets that the Japanese were not going to attack, so it was safe to transfer these troops westward to defend Moscow and thus turn the tide of the war. The book discusses why the Soviets ignored Sorge’s previous warnings of the German attack earlier in the year. The book also goes into detail concerning the information he sent pertaining to the 1939 fighting between Japan and the USSR. He correctly predicted that the Japanese had no desire to expand the fighting and would pull back.

The book goes into more than just about the messages he sent to the USSR. It also discusses his relationship with the German ambassadors to Japan and how he became an indispensable advisor to them, enabling him to gather critical information rather easily. The book also discusses the Japanese members of the ring - who they were, how they operated and how they were caught, leading to Sorge’s capture. The book is also details much about Sorge’s life in Tokyo and that of the other members of the ring. Sorge was a complicated man and the book shows why. It also discusses the imprisonment of the members of the ring and how and why each confessed, and in the process the reader learns quite a bit about the Japanese justice system of the time.


CrossWays: The Path to Victory is Not Always a Straight Line
CrossWays: The Path to Victory is Not Always a Straight Line
Offered by CN Traders, Inc
Price: $15.89
34 used & new from $12.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice game to play with your children, July 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are enough reviews that discuss the exact ways in which this game is played, so I will just focus on some elements and how the game played in our family. A young player has a good chance to win because a strong element of luck is introduced into the game because it is played with cards that determine how your pieces move. Thus, young players can and do win quite often, which greatly enhances their enjoyment of the game. However, the game also has defensive elements (the removal of opponents pieces) as well as being a game where you place your own pieces on a board, and this introduces an element of strategy that enhances the enjoyment of more skilled players. In our house, a typical game lasted 10 to 20 minutes, which was great for younger players, as I have found that my grandchildren sometimes get bored if the game lasts much longer, especially if they think that they will lose.

All in all, the game was entertaining when played with some of my 7-10 year old grandchildren, but not when only adults were playing. The game was a bit too easy for an all adult group and this necessitated making up house rules to make it more complex. I therefore recommend the game for family play with children in the 7-10 year age range and perhaps for children a bit older, but not for an all adult group unless you use more complex rules.


How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
by Steven Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.26
102 used & new from $11.25

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well written and very informative, July 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book to be well written, entertaining and very informative. I have not previously read any of Stephen Johnson's books, but now I will be on the lookout for them. This book reminded me of the books by James Burke, "The Day the Universe Changed" and "Connections", which discuss the complex evolution of technology, and the interactions of events leading to our modern world. "How We Got To Here" focuses more on innovation than Burke's books, but like them it is also written for a general audience and requires little or no technical background.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in history, science and technology and to anyone interested in the strange interconnected tales of how the things that we take for granted were developed. My only minor quibble is that the book is a bit light on technical details. For instance, it discusses pendulum clocks and then pocket watches, but does not describe the difference in their operation, or anything about the development of naval chronometers. I would have liked a bit more technical detail, but this was not a big enough problem to reduce my rating from 5-stars.

What is in the book -
The book describes six innovations that follow the author's contention that - "An innovation, or cluster of innovations, in one field end up triggering changes that seem to belong to a different domain altogether." This idea can best be understood by examining the six innovation chapters and the short conclusion chapter that make up the book. These chapters are as follows:

1. Glass - The first innovation, the development of glass and how it impacted society, starts with the natural pieces of glass found in the Libyan Desert, and goes on to how men eventually learned to make glass. This required the concurrent technology of furnace building and the segregation of the Venetian glassblowers to the island of Murano because of the fires that these furnaces tended to cause. These glassblowers arrived from Constantinople when it fell to the Turks and their segregation led to the cross fertilization of ideas and techniques. The concept of one innovation leading to another in a different field is discussed in terms of the development of the printing press, which made books readily available, which in turn resulted in many people realizing that they were farsighted and could therefore not read them. Previously, Johnson contends that this deficiency was not readily apparent because people did not require the ability to see small things close-up, although I personally find this a bit of a stretch since tasks like sewing would have also required this skill. Books resulted in the development of spectacles and spectacle makers who experimented with the lenses resulted in the invention of the microscope and telescope, which in turn altered our concept of the microscopic world and the cosmos. Glass also led to better mirrors, which in turn altered one's view of self.

2. Cold (as in refrigeration) - Here the story begins with Fredric Tudor's idea (obsession) to bring ice from the frozen lakes and ponds of New England to the tropics, and how this ultimately led to a very highly profitable business, but not before he first went broke trying to perfect this scheme. Ice eventually led to refrigeration and to changes in the living patterns in the US and now in much of the rest of the world because tropical climates were now made more habitable. Cold is also the story of frozen food and how this has changed eating habits.

3. Sound - This chapter discusses the importance of sound and how it led to the concepts of recording it. The different field discussed was how recordings led to the acceptance of Jazz music, and to ultrasound and how this has changed the ratio of male to female children in China.

4. Clean - This chapter deals with sanitation, chlorination of water, and how this has led the development of mega cities. It has also led to the development of advertising through the need to sell soap and to advertising of soap through soap operas on the radio.

5. Time - This chapter discusses how Galileo's observation of the swinging of a pendulum in a church led to clocks, and how accurate clocks transformed navigation and promoted trade. It also goes on to discuss how the development of railroads led to the need for better time keeping and eventually to time zones, atomic clocks and to the GPS system.

6. Light - This is about lighting, from candles to light bulbs to neon signs. One of the concurrent technologies that are discussed is the ability to remove Neon gas from the atmosphere and the need for signage in Las Vegas.

7. Conclusion - This is a short chapter devoted to what Johnson calls "time travelers", people who anticipate a need that so far has not developed. Contrary to the discussions in the rest of the book, these "time travelers" are not influenced by concurrent technologies, but anticipate them.


Transformers Age of Extinction Generations Leader Class Optimus Prime Figure
Transformers Age of Extinction Generations Leader Class Optimus Prime Figure
Offered by Norson
Price: $61.99
38 used & new from $61.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good play value, but a very complex transformation, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My almost seven-year-old grandson loves transformers and this one is one of his favorites. He especially likes that it transforms into a truck, which is how he generally uses it. However, he also loves to have it transformed into the human robot from, but he cannot do the transformation himself. It took his father quite some time to figure out how to make the transformation and it required instructions from the Internet for him to be able to do so. Unfortunately, even with the transformation being shown to him, the steps were still too complex for my grandson to be able to do it himself.

Five-stars for being able to transform into a truck, but minus one star for the difficulty of transforming into this form.


The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea
The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea
by Walter R. Borneman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.00
97 used & new from $0.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, entertaining and informative, July 1, 2014
This book details the careers of the four 5-star admirals of WWII, William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, and William F. Halsey, Jr. It discusses their private lives as well as their naval careers, but the focus is primarily on their careers. I found the book to be well written, entertaining and informative. I recommend this book to those interested in the history of WWII. Serious students of the subject may not find a lot of new information, but others will be rewarded by an interesting study of the these four men.

I found the book to be fair in its treatment of the four, covering their mistakes as well as their triumphs. This was especially true for Halsey who in some ways comes out with a somewhat tarnish reputation. Laehy is the least well known of the four, but Borneman makes a point of saying that he was perhaps the most important. While King's angry demeanor is discussed, he is painted in a somewhat better light than in other books, where he is depicted as more of a bully and womanizer; two aspects of King's personality that are discussed, but not focused on. Nimitz comes off much the same as in the other books that I have read - a kindly hard-working man who shunned the dramatic in favor of working quietly to get things done. The book also discusses MacArthur and his relationship with the four and Raymond Spruance who the author believes was worthy of a fifth star, perhaps even more so than Halsey.


The Iron Road: An Illustrated History of the Railroad
The Iron Road: An Illustrated History of the Railroad
by Christian Wolmar
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.23
76 used & new from $13.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and very informative, June 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great book. It is very well written, highly illustrated and very informative. This book is chocked full of pictures – photographs, drawings and maps, but it is more than just a picture book. The text is highly informative and does an excellent job of describing every aspect of railroads – the engine, tracks, brakes, types of cars, construction, stations, bridges and tunnels, underground systems, the impact of railroads, people who built the railroads, and much, much, more. It includes inserts that illustrate the stages of the operation of a steam engine and how this is used to drive the wheels of a train, the rack and pinion system used to climb steep grades, the air break system, the operation of a funicular railroad and many other technical aspect of railroads. The author clearly loves his subject and its shows. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, or technology – especially as it applies to railroads.

What is in the book – The book is divided into five parts as follows:
1. The First Tracks - This section describes the origin of railroads, from those drawn by horses (yes the idea started with horses pulling wagons on wooden rails), and the marriage of this with steam power. It describes the operation of steam engines and the earliest steam railroads in Britain, the US, and its spread to the rest of Europe and then to places like India.

2. The Spread of Railroads – This section covers the development of railroad technology to cross the Alps, cut through the jungles of Panama and go across the US. It discuses technological advances in breaking systems, bridge building, and the Pullman car.

3. Railroads Come of Age – This section covers such diverse topics as the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Orient Express, railroads in the Andes, in Africa and in the hill country of India. It also discusses the people who ran railroads and those who lived on “the wrong side of the tracks”.

4. War and Uncertainty – Railroads in WWI and WWII are discussed here as is the development of the diesel and electric propulsion and the first high speed trains.

The Iron Road Today – This final section brings the story of railroads into the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. It covers more about railroads in Siberia, the channel tunnel, modern train systems in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and bullet trains in Japan and Europe, and finally in China. The last pages briefly discuss Maglev trains and how the process of magnetic levitation and propulsion work. The book also has a two-page glossary of terms, a bibliography and an index.


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