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Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel
Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.92

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plum as Watson, July 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read a few Janet Evanovich novels about her wise-cracking heroine, Stephanie Plum, but I wouldn't call myself a big fan. However, I was intrigued by these new characters cooked up between Evanovich and Phoef Sutton, an Emmy-winning producer/writer.

This new series about a brilliant but eccentric jillionaire Emerson Knight and Texas country girl who-went-to-Harvard, Riley Moon (Knight & Moon) is--despite the authors letting you know that it was Edgar Allen Poe, and not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who fathered the detective novel--the latest twist on Sherlock Holmes and his physician side-kick, Dr. Watson. Character-wise, I found it engaging. Aunt Emma (Emerson's aunt) is a good stand-in for Mrs. Hudson, and cousin Vernon a sort-of a Baker Street irregular wrapped into one person, but I think that might be a bit of a stretch. The evil henchman, Rollo, is an unsinkable assassin who is shot, run over and generally done-in who keeps popping up again is no Dr. Moriarty. (More of a Colonel Moran maybe.) There's no bumbling Inspector Lestrade (yet) nor Moriarty, but I'm hoping the full cast of characters is in development.

The story is told from the perspective of Riley Moon with her newly minted law and business degrees. (The Devil Wears Prada but instead of fashion, she practices law and runs a mean spreadsheet). It's a country-girl takes on the big-city but instead of New York, it's Washington, D.C. Her first job is a dream one for her--a junior executive in a storied banking establishment. She is assigned the job of "dealing with" one of the bank's wealthiest but eccentric clients, Emerson Knight. Knight's behavior mirrors much of Sherlock Holmes in his hopelessly inept social skills and touch of mysticism and relentless logic. He's also hot stuff, and throughout the book the authors keep the reader guessing whether Moon will succumb to her attraction to Emerson, who is not discouraging such urges but effectively smothers them with his social ill-graces--up to a point.

The story itself is of the conspiracy variety with the villains attempting to steal the world's gold supply. Since a big hunk of that gold belongs to Emerson Knight, he wants to see it, but his banking firm responsible for its safe-keeping is dragging its feet. The bank decides to send their newest hire, Riley Moon, to placate Emerson Knight, and so begins the relationship between Knight and Moon.

While the story is engaging, I failed to see the clues and deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes. Emerson Knight seems to be smart enough but Evanovich and Sutton somehow have not worked out how to take a clue right in front of the reader's nose and turn it into a solution. (The Problem of Thor Bridge is a good example of how a clue was only recognized by The Great Detective.) Right now, Riley Moon is little more than Stephanie Plum with Harvard degrees--the authors need to give her a personality uniquely her own, and what they have so far compliments Emerson's social awkwardness and generally odd behavior; so it shouldn't be too difficult.

I look forward to further Knight and Moon stories, a fuller set of characters and a deductive Emerson Knight. As a series it's off to a good start but has a long way to go.

AmazonBasics Blackout Curtains - 52 x 63 Inches, Navy (2 Panel Set)
AmazonBasics Blackout Curtains - 52 x 63 Inches, Navy (2 Panel Set)
Price: $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plain Tapestries, June 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the castles of yore, they used to put up elaborate tapestries to help keep the warmth from creeping out through the stone walls. Having recently added new windows to our house, I wanted the curtains to serve the same function as the tapestries—to reduce leakage. The Amazon Basics Blackout curtains serve that function well and can help control the amount of light coming into the room.

The installation requires only a pair of rod holders and a rod. The rod goes through the stitched fold in the top of the curtain, put the rod in the holders, and Bob's your uncle! It's done. That's the easy part. The hard part was getting the hardware. I had a devil of a time finding the rods and rod holders. Some rods came with the brackets to hold the rods, but after somehow ending up with just a rod, it was very difficult to find the hardware for just the rod holders. My suggestion is to get them from Amazon. It's a lot easier to get the curtains with the hardware and then put them up and be done with it than running all over town trying to find the right combination of rod and rod holders that I did.

The material is heavy enough, but plain, and while they work with the one room that I put them in, I'm not sure about the rest of the house—what other design/color patterns come with the curtains is unknown. Two velcro-bound stashes come with it, and to let the light in, just loop the sashes around the curtains, and that's that. They're simple, easy to mount and heavy enough to keep the warmth or the heat out.

Golden Hill Studio Wine Glasses Hand Painted in the USA by American Artists-Set of 2-Frosted Curl Dot Light Green Collection
Golden Hill Studio Wine Glasses Hand Painted in the USA by American Artists-Set of 2-Frosted Curl Dot Light Green Collection
Price: $49.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegance with Frivolity, June 11, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For some reason the hand-painted designs reminded of Marc Chagal. It may have been the spirals evoked one of his dream sequences where stars and corkscrew planets floated in the night sky. These glasses are especially nice for company; welcoming and fun rather than a pretentious showoff. The glass itself has a frosted feel to it rather than the smooth side of a typical glass.

The red stems remind be of stockings on these elegant yet unserious glasses. Of course the wine tastes exactly the same as it would from an ordinary wine glass.

Tomcat Press 'N Set Mouse Trap, 2-Pack
Tomcat Press 'N Set Mouse Trap, 2-Pack
Price: $3.99
14 used & new from $3.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Murphy Bed For Mice, June 7, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I may sound like a wuss, but I don't like to see mice suffer——after all, they're just being mice. The Tomcat Press 'N Set Mouse Trap seemed to have been created on the basis of a "Murphy bed" — one of those beds that folds upwards into the wall. The mouse walks into a little opening, steps on the Murphy bed, up it goes and seals the mouse between the bed and a wall....with bookcases. That's what it looks like, and the entire series of events must resemble an old black and white comedy from the TCM channel.

So, I was wondering, what if I lowered the panel so that the mouse could get out. We live in a fairly rural area, and our next door neighbors raise goats on 13 acres; so my plan was to catch the mouse, run down to the field behind our house, pull down the Murphy bed, and let the mouse hop out and go play with his cousins, the field mice.

The first time I put out the traps (2), I got a mouse. I took the trap down to the goat meadow, opened it up and pulled out the mouse. He/she was dead. So I re-set it and put it back. You really have two options rather than the one implied; after a catch, toss it in the trash. You can reset it as long as you're willing to pull a dead mouse out of a trap--or set free a live one. If you just want to catch, toss and not think about it, that option is available too.

Overall, this is Thoreau's "better mouse trap." There's a bait door in the back (I used peanut butter), and you pull down a lever on the side, and it's all set to go. The mouse steps in, and whoosh! He's slammed against the bookcase and is killed or knocked for a loop. Either way, it's out of action and you can dispose of the mouse and trap any way you want.

T-fal RK705851 10-In-1 Rice and Multicooker with 10 Automatic Functions and Delayed Timer, 10-Cup, White
T-fal RK705851 10-In-1 Rice and Multicooker with 10 Automatic Functions and Delayed Timer, 10-Cup, White
Offered by Turner Department Store
Price: $53.00
23 used & new from $52.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compote Cooking, June 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The T-fal RK705851 10-In-1 Rice and Multicooker, as the name implies, is designed to handled more than one kind of cooking-- including cooking rice, risotto, oatmeal, soup and yogurt and functions to steam, slow cook, keep warm, brown and bake. On the top front is a screen where you punch a menu button and select the function you want by moving a cursor using + and - buttons. There's also a separate browning button.

The accompanying recipe book has different recipes that cover the different functions; including time to cook and which parts to use—generally just the cooking pot, but some call for using the steamer dish that goes on top of the pot. However, I had no plans to change meal preparation choices based on the selections in the recipe book; so I decided to try it with compote. I use compote daily as both a healthy snack and for cereal fruit. To make compote, I chop up a bunch of fruit, throw it in a casserole bowl and nuke it for 15 minutes. However, while easy, I wanted to infuse the different fruits together for a more integrated feast.

So I chopped up several apples,strawberries, sliced bananas, and added a carton of blueberries and put them into the Multicooker pot. Then, following the recipe timing for sautéed vegetables, I selected "Slow Cook" for 20 minutes. However, it wasn't quite that easy. The default for "Slow Cook" is 4 hours, and by pressing the + and - keys, it just increases the time plus or minus hours--nothing about minutes. Nothing in the instructions about "Slow Cook" for 20 minutes or any other amount of minutes. I pressed the "Browning" button, and suddenly I could add minutes. (The "Browning" button is not on the Menu; so it was possible to select "Slow Cook" and "Browning" at the same time.) After 20 minutes, I opened up the cooker and the fruit was just mildly warm. So I cranked it up again, but this time to 55 minutes and came back about 35 minutes later to see blueberry juice spilling out onto the counter. I opened the lid and voila! I had a Jackson Pollock painting on the counter and some drying dishes. My compote was all purplish blue and looked awful. I unplugged the cooker, closed the lid, and let it sit to cool off while I cleaned up the kitchen. After about a half hour I came back and opened the top, and it was still very hot—too hot to take out. Opened the lid and let it sit for another half hour, and was finally able to pour the compote into a casserole dish to cool.

While not pretty, it was the best compote I'd ever made. All of the tastes of the apples, strawberries, bananas and blueberries had been fused into the apples. By sealing in all of the juices and heat, the apples were soft and delightfully different than apples I had cooked up in the microwave. I'll have to do some more experimentation with the timing, and I want to try some of the recipes so that I can easily (with emphasis on the "easily") whip up different dishes. The cooker has a bucket handle on it; so it's easy to pull out and put away, and it's small enough to store in a minimal amount of space.

My biggest complaint is that the documentation is minimal, and the recipes are printed in an 8-pt sans serif font in white text that required a magnifying glass. Between the designers creating a a pretty recipe book, and engineers writing the documentation, it's a miracle that anyone can understand any of it. There's a whole field of UX/UI that T-fal (and just about every other gizmo merchant) needs to consider in selling their wares. What may be intuitive to an engineer and look pretty to a designer is not necessarily (...or absolutely) comprehensible to the average Joe or Jane who has to use the gizmo. (Consider getting dating advice from an engineer, and you'll better see what I'm talking about.)

The documentation aside, the Multicooker is great and after trial and error, pretty easy to use and clean up. The measuring cup, and spoon and paddle (that's what it looks like but it's probably some kind of spatula) are probably superfluous in most kitchens, but they're useful. I have not yet used the steamer, but I know of several recipes I'd like to try it with, and I look forward to using it for forging beyond compote.

3M Comfort Grip Gloves CGL-CR, Cut Resistant (ANSI 3), Size L (Pair of Gloves)
3M Comfort Grip Gloves CGL-CR, Cut Resistant (ANSI 3), Size L (Pair of Gloves)
Offered by E-GLING
Price: $12.90
7 used & new from $12.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought they were too small, but they were just right, May 31, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
During the spring I do a lot of prunning and cutting back wild growth on the edge of our property and (of course) mowing. Wearing a pair of my cloth covered gloves, first I had my hand ripped open when I mowed too close to a wild rose vine, and then later when I had my finger torn by a simple twig. It was time for a tougher set of gloves.

I like the cloth gloves because they "breathe," but I definitely needed a heavier canvas to fend off the different attacking yard growth I deal with in the spring. So I got the 3M Comfort Grip Gloves for two reasons; 1) they promised better resistance, and 2) I liked the idea of a better grip; especially for sawing and pruning trees and shrubs.

When I first put them on, they felt small. (My hands are regular size guy hands--a large, but not huge!) However, after wearing them for an outing of cutting, mowing and they were quite comfortable and I could use them for gripping and picking up things that I usually have to take my gloves off for--not surgical glove precision but not floppy-cloth either. The rubberized parts that fit over the palms, finger fronts and tips aid in the grip, and the heavy cloth backs protected against thorns and pointy twigs.

First Alert P1010 10-Year Photoelectric Smoke and Fire Alarm
First Alert P1010 10-Year Photoelectric Smoke and Fire Alarm
Offered by Gold Silver Traders
Price: $31.50
73 used & new from $31.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Fits in Small Places, May 26, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's only so much you can say about a product that works, is easy to install and takes up very little space. The
First Alert P1010 10-Year Photoelectric Smoke Detector measures about 1.75 inches across at it's base, and by unscrewing the base (sort of like opening a jar), the base plate can be mounted just about anywhere with 2 supplied wood screws and anchors. A small button is pressed to test the high-pitched alarm, which will give you a clear idea of what it sounds like in case of an actual fire. To tell you the truth, the pitch is a bit too high for me, and I wish they'd make the alarm tone from a lower note--or alternate between a high and low note to alert a wider range of ear tones. However, most smoke alarms share this oversight, and so the P1010 should not be singled out for a more general flaw in smoke alarms.

The first time I tried to remove the base, it was difficult because it is shipped with a small inserted cardboard shock absorber. With a good CCW twist (holding the alarm base-up), it opens, and once the shipping cardboard is removed, it goes on and off the base with ease. Yet, the alarm is securely held by the base; so there are no worries there. So, other than the high pitch alarm, I found this alarm to be a much better alternative to the old bulky ones we have elsewhere in the house with the same high pitch alarm.

Ghost World
Ghost World
Price: $2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Watching a Void, May 23, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ghost World (Amazon Video)
Seems to wander without a point. I like both main actresses, but without much plot it doesn't hold my interest.

The Dollhouse: A Novel
The Dollhouse: A Novel
by Fiona Davis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.43

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story; Little Passion, May 21, 2016
This review is from: The Dollhouse: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a good summer read, written more like a USA Today story than a novel. To be sure, the author has a well-structured story, an interesting landmark in the Barbizon Hotel for Women and its storied residents (even though my favorite, Sylvia Plath, only lived there a month, the fact of which the reader is reminded often -- too often), but I got the feeling that the author was handed an unassembled ébauche of watch parts and told to put them together in a book, making sure that all of the parts were working and the whole thing ticked. In that she was successful in spades.

The only spark of passion was the interaction between Darby (from the 50s) and her mother, and the love of her father by the 2016 journalist, Rose. The process of getting dumped by her boyfriend (Rose) and being lured back by his ex-wife was full of feeling, as well. Good stuff that would have been welcomed in the rest of the book. However, the story was based more on the diametrically different bad choices women had in the 1950s. They could be smokin' hot models and snag some guy on the fast track to cooperate or professional success or they could be career girls with crappy jobs like typists being trained by a Sturmbannführer left over the WWII. It wasn't quite that simple, but those were the outlines. (In places like NYC, the lines were far blurrier.)

The story itself, though, is quite good as long as you're willing to work with characters teeter-totting on stereotypes. The modern girl working in journalism in a changing journalistic world -- makes one nostalgic for Lois Lane working for the Daily Planet--and the old fashioned girl that conservatives think was really happy back in the day. Nobody's happy; then or now. There're just different things to be unhappy about. (Well, the wars -- just about everywhere now -- have great journalistic opportunities for women; so that's something.) If the author, Fiona Davis, really thinks that a whole lot has changed; just look at the faces of women on TV. Any of them look like Dorthy Parker or write like her?

The style is one that has gained popularity these days, and that is the unhinged sequence. One chapter is 2016; then the next is 1952. This Davis handles with aplomb, and I never once felt lost or confused. Darby the 50s girl and her world at the Barbican Hotel \and the Barbican Hotel today as a condo-convert. Those times were on a different planet than today, and so it's not difficult to keep them separate, and the characters are different people: a young women in the 50s and an old woman in her 80s. Davis does a good job of transitioning back and forth as the story develops. So, like I said, this is a good story.

One thing that drove me crazy were the chapter headings. The fonts were from the 1890s more than the 1950s. I have no idea who did the book design, but they need to do a little fact-checking on typography. (See[...].) The fonts that emerged after WWII were not the wonderful art deco ones of the 30s and certainly not the graceless monstrosities used in this book--all caps to boot with no added spacing! The 1950s fonts were the pointy atomic age, cartoony space shot, and streamlined 1954 Pontiac and 1955 Ford fonts.

Before the next outing on a novel, Davis needs to get roaring drunk with her editor, both of you leaving those sticks at home. Then talk about the kind of writing you'd like to do if you weren't constrained. Then read Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath and Hunter Thompson, and write a really good novel.

Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed (Not Sold in Pinellas County, FL)
Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed (Not Sold in Pinellas County, FL)
Price: $53.97
6 used & new from $53.97

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get the Weeds and Grow, May 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
During Spring my yard looks like a dog with mange. The previous owner was plagued by grubs and turkeys who tore up the yard eating the grubs. To solve the problem he put in a special grub-resistant grass that had several unusual characteristics, but the grubs let it along. While everyone else has a bright green yard, mine is brown with patches of green from some grass of dubious origin and weeds. Then in the Fall, while my neighbors' yards turned brown or we lacked sufficient rain, my yard remained a healthy veggie green.

This year my yard sprouted what looked like a small wheat-field of weeds. They weren't dandelions nor clover that Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed is supposed to knock out, and after a Winter that was both mild and dry, it persisted well into April, with snow threatening early blossoms. Waiting for a weather report of impending rain, I spread the Weed and Feed the day before the rain. It was a good soaking rain, and so once it dried out a few days later, I mowed the yard to rid the mini-wheat field from sight with the hope that the Scotts feeder/killer would do its job and it would not re-appear.

Now about three weeks later, my yard still has its mangy look, and that will persist until late May or early June. We've had several rains, and all of the Spring blossoms on our dogwood, cherry and crabapple trees are in bloom--drawing attention away from the mange. The wheat field of weeds that had sprouted up have not come back, and while I spotted some dandelions and a few patches of clover, they are few and unhealthy looking. The tuffs of non-grub-proof grass that have snuck into the yard are a bright green, serving as a counterpoint to the still-brown carpet of the main lawn. So there's clear evidence of the turf-building aspect of the Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed is working as well

Knowing my yard quite well after 17 years of tending it, I see signs of turn-to-green in late Spring. The recent soaking rains and strong signs of new growth have ensured that I will have a busy summer keeping it mowed and trimmed, but I will have far fewer hours spent pulling weeds.

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