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Francois et Mimi Iron Weave Fruit Basket, Bowl, Black
Francois et Mimi Iron Weave Fruit Basket, Bowl, Black
Offered by Luzy's Storage Place
Price: $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars pretty. lightweight. large capacity., October 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This fruit/bread bowl is pretty, big and lightweight. It's 11" across on top and just a little shorter at the bottom, so it holds a lot of ... whatever ... fruit, rolls, napkins, gifts, etc. The design is nice and the open weave means good air circulation for the contents. Also, it's surprisingly light, but seems sturdy too. Looks great on the table or countertop.


AmazonBasics Screen Protectors for iPhone 6 (3-Pack)
AmazonBasics Screen Protectors for iPhone 6 (3-Pack)
Price: $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars fine screen protector for iPhone 6 or ???, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't have an iphone 6 but I do have a cell phone that needs its screen protected, so I cut one of these to the apprpriate size. I followed the directions -- installation is pretty standard -- and placed it on without any hassle. Went quickly and no bubbles. Neither visuals nor buttons are impeded.


Leading Man (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
Leading Man (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
by Benjamin Svetkey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.28
119 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars fun insider existential romance, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm often torn when writing a review. Do I rate a book by comparing it to the greatest works of literature, or do I rate it compared to others in its genre? Usually I opt for the latter. Sure, this is not Pride and Prejudice, but in the busy world of behind-the-scenes and celebrity books, it is a fun, well written novel.

Svetkey, who worked for a long time at Entertainment Weekly, fittingly tells an entertaining story in prose that flows easily and is quite funny -- lots of insider tidbits (about New York and Hollywood), eloquent metaphors and interesting personalities. I liked it very much. And considering that I could read it in a few hours, and never got bored, that is enough for five stars from me.

Max is a lowly beginning writer at an entertainment magazine, but he's happy. He gets to meet celebrities, muse about the meaning of fame, and live with the first and only love of his life in a little New York apartment. When the girl he's loved since he was twelve leaves him for a movie star, Max experiences an existential crisis, and is determined to get her back, faking a calm friendship with her even as he's inwardly seething with envy and jealousy. She left him for his favorite actor!

There are plenty of books that cover similar territory. What sets Leading Man apart is that Max is a believable and relatable character, a young guy who struggles to find meaning and to cope with heartache while jetting about interviewing celebrities and telling his story in an articulate and funny narrative voice.

Great writing, an entertaining story, insider observations and a quick read make this a lively and appealing first novel. Look forward to others.


Confessions of a Self-Help Writer: The Journal of Michael Enzo
Confessions of a Self-Help Writer: The Journal of Michael Enzo
by Benjamin DeHaven
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.34
43 used & new from $3.28

4.0 out of 5 stars clever, but not always in a good way, October 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel operates on a somewhat confusing conceit -- that a. character who has the same name as the author is a friend of a rather despicable individual named Michael Enzo, and chapters alternate between the authors narrative and Enzo's journal. The resulting tales of debauchery and outlandishness can be amusing, sometimes laugh out loud funny, but some of it is really not very funny, and the bits that are supposed to be profound are sometimes rather trite.

zi found it annoying that the author would drop a sentence that's supposed to be wisdom for the ages, and someone is so convinced of it that the sentence is then underlined in the book, written in the margin, and then all of them are gathered into an appendix -- but they're not always worth this triple dose.

Striving for a Chuck Pahluniak or Hunter Thompson vibe, the book sometimes succeeds. It's pretty funny, but not as funny as the author thinks it is, amd the writing is disjointed -- a series of short anecdotes rather than a cohesive story.

Short enough that you won't resent the time spent on it. Probably.


Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom
Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom
by Lisa-Jo Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.00
64 used & new from $6.52

3.0 out of 5 stars less a parenting book than a Christian memoir, October 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the first material I've read by this author, though others seem to be familiar with her blog. Baker's writing is often quite lovely, though often repetitive, and the story of her life in South Africa and her travels to Russia are interesting. But I was unprepared for this Christian-centric call to the spiritual dimensions of motherhood, feelings I often shared but not necessarily through the filter of Christian belief, as if Hindus and agnostics can't access this profound aspect of parenting.

I have nothing against religious belief or believers -- certainly less hostile toward believers than they are to me -- but I wish the book had been honestly titled because the book, while pleasant enough, was really not that interesting or helpful to me personally, and I wouldn't have chosen it if the marketing had been more honest.

This is more a memoir, slathered with mini-sermons, vivid tales of labor and articulate bromides told, then repeated, then excerpted as chapter separators, than a celebration of motherhood, which is what I expected.

I found it pretty unsatisfying, but think Baker is a talented writer.


First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen
First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen
by Charles C. Lovett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.98
46 used & new from $13.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a delightful Austen homage -- with one unforgiveable sin, October 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a novel with two tales: one the contemporary story of Sophie Collingwood, 24 and undecided about what to do now that her time at Oxford has come to an end; the other the story of Jane Austen and her literary friend, the Reverend Richard Mansfield.

As one would hope, the two tales share a deeper connection than just alternating chapters. Sophie is an Austen lover, a bibliophile and, it turns out, an heiress of sorts. While she is the only book lover in her immediate family, she develops a lovely relationship with her uncle, told in flashbacks. He fosters her love of reading and mentors her into the world of collecting, and the high points of the book (for me) are their conversations. The other half of the book takes place between 1796 and 1817, and relates the friendship of dear Jane and Reverend Mansfield, a kindred spirit. These chapters are well written and interesting.

Where the two stories intersect is a fictional literary mystery, as Sophie discovers there might exist a book about the origins of Pride and Prejudice. At the same time she is courted by two men, one very nice and the other obnoxious but perhaps more sincere. Hmm, sounds like an Austen novel ....

I am really torn about this book. It is a fun read -- well written, well plotted and well paced -- and would easily have been five stars if it weren't for one glaring problem. Apparently Jane was incapable of deciding on titles, characters, structure or plots, and if it weren't for the Reverend Mansfield, Jane would be forgotten! For the gentleman to steer Austen once was amusing, twice was okay, but after the third instance I began to keep count. TWELVE times he gives her key ideas, until one can only conclude that she might have had children if only Rev. Mansfield had had a uterus.


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

5.0 out of 5 stars alternate realities for a young woman in the 60s, October 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This debut novel is a member of a sub sub genre I enjoy -- alternate realitites that involve dreaming. It'is not flawless. I would give it 4-1/2 stars if I could, but in lieu of that I'm rounding upwards because it was interesting, had a good twist or two, and made the effort. The narration is a bit stiff and detached, but an argument could be made that this is purposeful. The two intertwined stories were both interesting.

Kitty co-owns a book store with her best friend. She's single but happy. Then she begins to dream about an alternate lofe, where she's married and has children, though she's estranged from her best friend. It's an interesting book that thinks about the choices we make and the things that affect the lives we lead.

Set in the 1960s makes for an interesting look at our recent American past and how things have changed since then.

I enjoyed both storylines and thought the conclusion was good, but I did find it lacking in warmth.


Nutiva O'Coconut Lightly Sweetened Coconut Treat, Classic, 24 Count
Nutiva O'Coconut Lightly Sweetened Coconut Treat, Classic, 24 Count
Price: $18.23
5 used & new from $18.23

4.0 out of 5 stars good coconut flavor, 60 calories each, October 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These small bites have a smooth texture, a good taste of coconut, and are 60 calories. Not for everyone, but some will like it very much.


Obsessed (The Lizzy Gardner Series Book 4)
Obsessed (The Lizzy Gardner Series Book 4)
by Theresa Ragan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
21 used & new from $8.14

5.0 out of 5 stars terrific addition to a thrilling female-centric series, October 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wow. First recommendation -- read these books in order. Second recommendation -- do NOT read the blurb for the fifth book in the series, Almost Dead, as it gives away a huge spoiler.

This is the 4th Lizzy Gardner book and it was interesting from page one. Lizzy was abducted when she was a teen and that has affected her life in many ways, so it's a good idea to read these in order. They are: Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed and Almost Dead.

Set in Sacramento, this one begins with Madeline Blair, a psychologist on a local radio station, and Seth, her stalker. But that is just one story line in a very busy book. Eventually Madeline will hire Lizzy to protect her, but in the meantime Lizzy has a couple of other cases she's working at the same time she's trying to prepare for her wedding to Jared, a month away, as well as interviewing for a new assistant. Also, her father is in the hospital, dying, and she is trying to repair their relationship. Other than that, not much is going on! Oh, except her assistant Hayley, a damaged young woman turned badass, is tracking down her mother's murderer. The author juggles all these stories and many characters deftly. If there is one weakness to these books (and I can't believe I'm writing this), it's that the secondary male characters are pretty underdeveloped. The females though, that's another matter. As a PI Lizzy hires a number of assistants, who tend to be young, accomplished and complex women, and they are terrific characters.

This is a fun series with creepy villains, solid tension, believable but not gratuitous action, and an overarching story that will keep you reading book after book. Well done. Anxiously awaiting the next one.


The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel
The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.06
61 used & new from $11.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great addition to a terrific series, October 8, 2014
This is the fifth book in the Department Q series, one of my very favorite Scandinavian series due to the humor and great characters of Carl, Assad and Rose, though it hasn't been my favorite of the series. The book starts with an aid worker in Cameroon, moves to a government ministry in Copenhagen and then proceeds to the story of Marco, a very bright teenage boy who is basically imprisoned and forced to work as a petty thief for a cult leader/boss. While Marco's story is intriguing, it's almost a hundred pages before we really get to Carl Morck, the curmudgeonliest detective in Denmark, and his hilarious assistants Assad and Rose. The plot is difficult to sum up. It's a complicated blend of Danish criminals and African politics and immigrants, but Adler-Olsen keeps a handle on things and deftly juggles dozens of characters.

Other reviewers have complained about the editing and the length of the book, but I would make the distinction that the length would be welcome if Carl and the others were on more of the pages. A lot of the text is devoted to Marco, and it is an interesting story, but the book mainly comes alive when Carl et al are on the page. Also, I want to say that the humor is really the best in Scandinavian crime fiction. It is a dry wit, and it could only be maintained with an excellent translation, so kudos to Martin Aitken.

My only problem with the series is Assad. I love this guy, but here we are on book 5 and we still know almost nothing about him -- where he's from, what he's done, how he ended up in Denmark, etc. It's well past time for us to get some information on this fascinating character!

The series includes (in order): The Keeper of Lost Causes. The Absent One, A Conspiracy of Faith, the Purity of Vengeance, The Marco Effect.


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