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House of Echoes: A Novel
House of Echoes: A Novel
by Brendan Duffy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written and suspenseful Gothic novel, January 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Brendan Duffy is a descriptive writer, his elegant prose a long way from the stark hard-boiled school. This novel is about atmosphere and Duffy gives it to you in spades. A young family, Ben and Caroline, eight year old Charlie and two month old Bub hopes to escape their present frustrations-writer Ben has a severe case of writer's block, Caroline has lost her banker's job, Charlie has been bullied by his schoolmates- and although the baby appears cheerful that will change, subtly. Ben has inherited a vast stretch of land and a huge house in a tiny village called Swannhaven in upstate New York. The family hopes to renovate the old house called The Crofts and turn it into a bed and breakfast inn. The house is located on a plateau called The Drop between two mountains. The Drop brings to mind the crash of a gallows trap door and a body on a rope hurtling down.

Swannshaven is steeped in history going back to the Revolution, a bloody saga that stretches right up to the present, with a miasma hanging over the village. The family, anticipating a fresh start, rapidly enters a winter of discontent. Things happen. The forest and The Croft are filled with noises- screeching, knocking, sighing, rattling, and appear menacing. Even the villagers seem strange, surreal. While Ben uncovers one by one the secrets of the Drop and Swannshaven, Charlie seems withdrawn, venturing alone further and further into the forest which is beautiful and menacing at the same time. Carolyn, who is a manic depressive, struggles to keep her equilibrium but says to Ben "I am not happy." The cheerful baby, Bub, squalls more than usual. The family is on the brink and you feel for them. This mixed brew of gothic drama and horror will keep you turning the pages and burning the midnight oil. "House of Echoes" is an exceptional thriller that will tug at your heartstrings. And before you read the last chapter you should keep a handkerchief nearby.

Black & Decker BL4000R XL Blast Party Blender
Black & Decker BL4000R XL Blast Party Blender
Price: $64.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Let's Party!, January 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let's Party!

This blender is ideal for those get-togethers where the extra capacity over a "regular" blender will come in handy. I love the design and operating controls. I am used to older style blenders with the large push buttons. They were difficult to clean around, whereas this blender uses lighted membrane switches. Cleanup with a damp cloth will be a breeze. While I haven't run through the gamut of possible drinks to make, I have found it to perform quite nicely. The instruction book and sample recipes are very helpful, and I'm looking forward to experimenting.

The large size of this blender makes it an imposing site on the counter-top, but it is very attractive. The included chill sleeve is a nice and thoughtful addition. It should help keep the contents from melting too fast when the container is not emptied immediately after making the drinks. The noise level of this blender seems to be less than previous blenders I have owned. The incorporation of a measuring vial (aka shot glass) in the lid is rather ingenious and very convenient since one of the intended uses of this blender is to make alcoholic drinks. The pour spout is also of a clever design with the ability to close it during mixing operation.

I would highly recommend this blender for anyone who likes to entertain and prepare frozen drinks - either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. While I haven't ventured into the smoothie realm yet with it, other reviewers have said they are happy with the results. The included literature says that this blender can be used as a regular food blender also. As with any new product, it is difficult to determine how well it will hold up in the long run. It obviously is dependent on how often it is used and the care it is given. It seems to be pretty rugged, and I suspect it will hold up rather well.

--Roger Meyer

Tiggly Counts
Tiggly Counts
Price: $29.99
4 used & new from $29.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David (three) loves it!, January 10, 2015
This review is from: Tiggly Counts (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It should be noted that an iPad is required to use Tiggly Counts and that the app ordered via Vine has less in the way of instructions and comes in a pouch rather than a box. The ages given as appropriate for Counts is from three to six, but we feel younger children, preschoolers will be the most enthusiastic and get the most out of the program because they are so hands-on. The app's slogan "feel what you learn" certainly applies as small children are so touchy-feely. Our guinea pig child, David, three, delved right in as like all toddlers he loves to manipulate his environment, giving him a sense of control, a sense of pride. Five smooth, magnetic counting blocks in different bright colors interplay with three different "sandbox" scenes on your iPad as your kid goes digital. Best of all, David is hugely pleased with both himself and the app because the whole system is like a game.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2015 4:02 PM PST

Ordinary Light: A memoir
Ordinary Light: A memoir
by Tracy K. Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure delight!, January 10, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tracy Smith's style of writing reminds me of a brook flowing along- gurgles, flashes of sunlight, throaty laughter sounds. This Pulitzer Prize poet puts her soul into words, writing with strange music that isn't sad, but probing. In this memoir she wonders about, she dissects, the meaning of being a black person in the vast scheme of things; being a black person within her own environment; being a person period.

Tracy Smith has an uncanny ability to insinuate herself into the psyche of not only fellow humans and animals but even plants- a calf, in mistaken fear, almost knocks little Tracy down; trees laden with gorgeous ripe apricots or apples seem to have a spirit of their own. Baby quails hatched in an incubator given to Tracy by her father are lively and peeping, all safely hatched at three weeks with the exception of one weak one who Tracy tries to help free himself from his shell. Her father takes the poor little thing away and Tracy thinks her interference may have doomed the chick and she feels guilty, a failure. Twenty three perfect chicks but there should have been twenty four.

In the first chapter Smith describes the death watch for her mother which had taken place twenty years before."We heard a sound that seemed to carve a vivid presence from tunnel between our world and some other... the last breath that blew past us without stopping.." In these rich reminiscences Tracy will go back to her childhood and gives us glimpses of her life as she grows up and confronts her mother's cancer head on, a horrible reality.

Tracy's childhood memories are charming, heart-warming. In an unforgettable chapter she describes her first trick or treating adventure at age five and the white costume her mother made for her with a pointed cap and hood like a Ku KluxKlan member. The little girl did not understand the strange looks she got but came home loaded with candy. Her Mom called the costume a "blip". Not a real statement just a weeny aberration. Little Tracy grew up in the warm nest of a happy supportive family far far from the Ku Klux Klan, far from the world's realities, her own personal heaven.

As Tracy grows up she feels she has outgrown her parents' religion, a firm belief in God and Jesus doesn't seem to relate to her life. She tries to find an answer for her mother's cancer. Her mom says her cancer is "part of God's plan."When only nine she had read the book of Revelations (a tough read for a nine year old) and was horrified at the depiction of God as vengeful, ready to destroy men for their wickedness.

She will find heartache as a student at Harvard which we the readers understand perfectly-who hasn't had their heart broken as a teenager, although perhaps broken in a different way? But she will use those experiences, some ecstatic, some painful to fuel her future as a writer. She will become comfortable in her relationship to God. She will become comfortable as a woman who knows where she is going. She will become comfortable not as a black woman but as a woman. The memoirs come full circle as she returns to her mother's death. In a delirium her mom imagines she is speaking with two angels sitting at the foot of her bed. One of them says "Tracy will be a writer." Perhaps the remark is like a ticket to heaven, heaven being for Tracy a wonderful husband and family and freedom to let her writing gift flow forth.When you close this memoir you are going to be filled with warmth as you think of Tracy Smith. She is so lovable- a girl and a woman you want to hug.

TruSoft By STAINMASTER Luxurious Bath Rug, 17-By-24 Inch, Fresh Cream
TruSoft By STAINMASTER Luxurious Bath Rug, 17-By-24 Inch, Fresh Cream
Price: $18.99
2 used & new from $17.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your tootsies and your kitty (if you have one) will love it!, January 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Charmin guy would go gaga if he ever squeezed this incredibly soft little rug. Our kitty goes gaga too. He more or less appropriated it as his own in its place in front of the bathroom sink. At two feet wide this soft nylon mini-rug with its sturdy rubber underside is secure on the tile but barely able to accommodate two bare feet so it is really a sort of hors d'oeuvre. We are tempted to buy a larger size. Having received the small TruSoft free in the Vine program we did not have to fork over the $19.00 but considering its quality we will go for a bigger rug, the 21 X 36 which is $30.00, and which we will be glad to pay for. The color, a creamy white, looks elegant on our black and white tiled floor.

Coding For Kids For Dummies
Coding For Kids For Dummies
by Camille McCue
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.12
76 used & new from $16.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly comprehensive, December 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Most kids today have practically cut their teeth on computers but Coding for Kids will propel them into a different ball park, and you as the parent can join right in, because probably your code knowledge is zero. One of the great things about this book is the pride your little genius will feel as he tackles each project then advances to the next problem. The manual is well over 350 pages long. Computer programming is usually taught in high school, so your younger kid can get his foot in the door much earlier. Instructions are given for both PCs and Macs.

Author McCue does not talk down to children or simplify her wording; in fact the book is remarkably adult but illustrated in full-color which will appeal to kids. The author assumes that the child can type on a keyboard, click a mouse and install a CD. If he's played video games online that will help him in grabbing the concepts. He should have a knowledge of basic math but if he is less than a stellar speller he will have to troubleshoot his code for misspellings. The programming language doesn't understand misspellings per se but will inform the operator it doesn't understand the command.

MWEX (Microworlds EX) is the acronym of the powerful coding language software with the necessary collection of tools. You will download this program on the Net. You will have 35 days of use and 90 saves before the program expires. A secret password will be given you which allows you to save about 70% off the price of the program. The Coding manual will hold your hand and your kid's hand if you are working together. The instructions will carefully explain the parts and uses of the layout unfolding on your desktop. Four types of projects are covered in the book:

Toys: things you play with no specific goals or purpose

Games: such as search and find. These have a definite purpose and can be won or lost

Animated scenes: little movies, perhaps falling leaves, rain drops or snowflakes, twinkling lights

Simulations: these are mimics of real life such as a tornado blowing down houses, births of babies in a hospital, great crashing waves against a shore, a surf boarder in that wave.

I don't see how a coding program could be more all-inclusive than "Coding for Kids" in giving your small programmer a leg up. He'll be well-schooled in basic coding principals, building on his own technical feats in creating a program, and paving the way for a future in technology. This is the computer age and our futures -all of us- are a part of it. Maybe your kid will be the future Bill Gates and if he starts right here with this manual he might very well achieve it.

New Chapter Turmeric Force, 30 Count
New Chapter Turmeric Force, 30 Count
Price: $20.03
4 used & new from $13.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The jury is out, December 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As other reviewers have pointed out, the percentage of curcumin in Turmeric Force is not given and the price seems off the map. In comparison, Turmeric 500, also available at Amazon, lists its curcumin to be 95% curcuminoids. and the price is $9.97 for 60 capsules. Well, "curcuminoids" probably consist partially of non-curcumin compounds but at least we have some sort of ballpark.

Turmeric Force sells for $20.92 for 30 capsules. Tumeric Force says "Our full-spectrum process extracts precious plant compounds to preserve Nature's full complexity, delivering super-pure, super potent herbal extracts" This unspecific information is absolutely useless. Force says it utilizes supercritical extraction methods- but what are those methods? Whatever the Unique Processing is they don't inform you, and it is really a unique mystery. And the additives hardly seem worth the exorbitant price. The additives include olive oil and yellow beeswax. Actually beeswax is always yellow and the reason for its addition may be that it acts as a binding agent, not as a nutrient.

Curcumin is believed to fight inflammation, and practically any disease involves inflammation. I have been taking Turmeric 500 for about two weeks and see a definite improvement in my shoulder arthritis. When Turmeric 500 is gone, I will plug in Turmeric Force and will amend this review if necessary- if the Force is more efficacious I will say so in the future. My feeling right now is that the price is prohibitive, and I have obtained my bottle via Amazon Vine and the bottle is free.

Save on Healthy Blends Turmeric 500. Each capsule contains 47.5mg of disease fighting Curcumin. Turmeric Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Reduces pain, aids circulation, and protects cells. Contains 60 500mg caps
Save on Healthy Blends Turmeric 500. Each capsule contains 47.5mg of disease fighting Curcumin. Turmeric Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Reduces pain, aids circulation, and protects cells. Contains 60 500mg caps
Offered by D&L Industries
Price: $14.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty amazing!, December 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Turmeric is a perennial related to ginger, and like ginger has underground rhizomes. Cultivated extensively in south and southeast Asia for centuries, the rhizomes are dried and pulverized and processed to yield curcumin. Curcumin like many other nutrients has gained the popularity of a rock star and it will be interesting to see if it will stay high in the charts or sink into oblivion. But so far it is still going strong with thousands of studies having been performed.

Virtually every disease involves inflammation and curcumin may be the magic bullet that shoots down the inflammation before harm can occur and before pain becomes crippling. The effect of the compound will be much more obvious when pain is localized in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis as opposed to heart disease and cancer but curcumin in many studies appears to reduce inflammation -any inflammation. Add to that, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, and appears to be antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial- seemingly anti-anything deleterious to health.

In evaluating scientific evidence, I googled the Linus Pauling Institute ate Oregon State. In a list compiled by New Scientist of the greatest scientists of all time, only two twentieth century investigators were included: Albert Einstein and Linus Pauling.* Pauling had his hand in a great many pies, and he might well have beaten Francis Crick and James Watson in their race for the configuration of DNA, the famous "Double Helix," Crick and Watson had access to X ray and crystallography equipment and data located at the Cambridge and King's College at the University of London which were superior to Pauling's equipment, so fate smiled on them to make the greatest discovery in the twentieth century- how genes are replicated. The Linus Pauling Institute is dedicated to research, not anecdotal observations. They report that although many studies are yet to be done, curcumin can inhibit molecules known to play major parts in inflammation. They do not say does inhibit but the research seems highly favorable to curcurmin.

The Pauling Institute firmly states that in 2014 clinical trials involving 5-8 weeks of curcumin consumption by people with clinical depression resulted in no benefit. It also emphasizes the fact that curcumin when taken orally, is poorly absorbed in the bloodstream. If black pepper containing piperine is sprinkled on the food you take with your capsule, or as some people do, if you just chow down a whole peppercorn or two, you'll solve the absorption problem.

I purchased Turmeric 500 in hopes that it would help the arthritis in my shoulders which made turning over in bed really unpleasant. After one week I can say with confidence that the pain has virtually disappeared. I would be the first to admit that in a case of mind over matter my brain would be hoping the pill would work and that my brain is effecting the nice result, not the capsule. But I think I will give high fives for the Tumeric 500. Whatever is involved here I may never fathom, but I am very pleased indeed and will make certain I never run out of Turmeric 500. It's reasonable in price, too, and I've seen other turmeric compounds costing twice as much. And the product has a 100% money back guarantee.

* Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2014 2:12 AM PST

Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth
Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth
by Terry Alford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate look at Lincoln's assassin, December 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Fortune's Fool" from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" are the words of Romeo, lamenting the bad luck (fortune) of his killing of Juliet's cousin. The analogy to Booth's murder of Lincoln is, of course, obvious.

I have wondered how a young man could be so disillusioned as to think he would be declared a hero for assassinating the man who had just saved the Union. I have wondered just what made John Wilkes Booth tick. Author Alford does not reveal the answers, however, in an intimate portrayal which at times becomes somewhat burdened by excessive facts, losing momentum. However "Fool" is a fine biography, and there are likely no one answer, no one explanation for Booth's behavior. Theories abound, but still John Wilkes Booth was a fanatic and fanatics are not rational.

Growing up in a large family of nine children, John being the second to youngest, he was unusually handsome and appeared free-spirited and full of mischief, but in spite of being intelligent he was a poor student who disliked studying and even his letters as an adult are full of misspellings and generally poor syntax. He seemed to love animals with the exception of cats which he shot and tortured to the extent that his neighborhoods during his growing up were soon devoid of cats. According to many psychiatrists, cruelty to animals is one hallmark of the disturbed personality. He had said when very young, "I must be famous!"

John's father Junius and his brothers Erwin and Junius Jr.were actors and John, although at first appearing non-gifted, learned his trade and after a bumpy start became a fine thespian, aided by his extraordinary good looks and his beautiful voice. He was the Lawrence Olivier of his day.

John was charming and popular and it was perhaps inevitable that he go on the stage, following his father Junius, his brother Edwin, and his brother Junius Jr. where he could play Julius Caesar and Richard III and other great figures from Shakespeare. Booth was perhaps the audiences' favorite Richard because in hand combat scenes Richard and Richmond fought so authentically that sparks flew from their swords. On one occasion Richard knocked Richmond into the orchestra pit where he emerged with a dislocated right shoulder, necessitating he wield his sword with his left hand. The audience was thrilled. In John's mind, when he played Richard he WAS the king, even though playing an arch-villain. Both on the boards and off, Booth relished fighting whether with fists or with a weapon. On one occasion he prolonged the battle field fight with Richmond until the poor actor playing Richmond hissed to him sotto voice "For God sake, John, die. If you don't I will!"

One of the most interesting episodes in the book concerns the execution of John Brown, which John Wilkes Booth witnessed. Of course, Booth was not an abolitionist, but Brown walking calmly up the steps of the gallows and waiting patiently on the trap, showing no fear whatever, a seemingly interminable time while all the various protocols were followed, made a huge impression on the very young Booth. When the trap was finally sprung and Brown fell three feet and was quickly strangled, but the death itself did not disturb Booth. Brown's almost serene approach to death as a martyr for his cause remained a vivid picture in Booth's mind.

Perhaps playing grandiose characters such as Richard III and King Lear he turned grandiose thoughts on himself as if he were an embellishment. But at the zenith of his popularity as an actor he abruptly quit the stage. "He would stop playing history. He would make it."

As the Civil War wound down Booth became more and more obsessed and he was consumed by thoughts of avenging the South and revitalizing her. However, I felt as I read of his exploits in rounding up men to help in kidnapping Lincoln (abducting the President not killing him was the initial plan) that two motives drove him: mortally wounding the Union and simultaneously achieving glory for himself. As for his fellow conspirators, although they denied it,their motive was money, clear and simple. Booth convinced them that the newly energized South would reward them handsomely.

The last chapters of the book describe the well-known drama of the murder of Lincoln on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 and the lesser known details of Booth's twelve days on the run. His frantic attempt to escape is a horror story in itself, his broken left leg becoming gangrenous. Doctor Samuel Mudd, who set the leg is surely far more guilty of conspiracy than was formerly thought. The Union officer who shot Booth after the barn he was hiding in was set ablaze, tried to shoot Booth in the same spot ( below the left ear) that Booth shot Lincoln. He shot him in the neck not in quite the same place, but close. It was a coup de grace of sorts.

Booth, of course, achieved the exact opposite result than he had hoped for, Lincoln becoming not only a martyr but America's most beloved president. He also brought disgrace upon his own family. It is speculated that Ole Abe himself might even feel sympathy for Booth, an intelligent man who acted like such a fool.

Singer S10 Studio 5.5 by 5.5-Inch and 2 by 2-Inch Embroidery Machine with 55 Built-In Designs, 3 Fonts, 2 Hoops and Bonus Software
Singer S10 Studio 5.5 by 5.5-Inch and 2 by 2-Inch Embroidery Machine with 55 Built-In Designs, 3 Fonts, 2 Hoops and Bonus Software
Price: $503.95
3 used & new from $499.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am happy as a clam!, December 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Singer, of course, is THE name in sewing machines. They have been around since 1851 and each successive model uses the current technology- in fact the various machines could be a hallmark reflecting technology. The company has moved with the times producing digital models in the twenty first century.

The compact S10 embroider machine could be said to be a work of art and manna from heaven for the experienced and beginner embroiderer alike. The machine has a built in computer offering some 55 designs but there are literally thousands more available on line from YouTube and from the Singer website. A memory stick is included which pops into the S10 machine and gives you the online access. A PC is necessary but I understand the online software will not be obtainable from a Mac.You can find special designs such as "Hello, Kitty"on line. A training video is also available and will get you in the know quickly. It takes about a day for a person new to an embroidery machine to "vet " the machine and master the basic techniques including how to stabilize particular fabrics, but the directions are very clear and idiot proof. A rank beginner (like me) although perhaps feeling over-whelmed at first, can master the techniques via the instructional video which plays slowly so you can easily follow. Even if you don't know a bobbin from a baseball, you will be enlightened quite pleasantly. In fact even for an experienced seamstress, an embroidery machine is a whole new ball park.

Embroidery is FUN on the S!0! Try it, you'll see!

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