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The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
by Laurie R. King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.84

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 14th novel in the series -- Mrs. Hudson's astonishing backstory, February 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the 14th book in the delightful series featuring Mary Russell and her remarkable husband, Sherlock Holmes. The books are always good, but I would say this is one of the best of the series, containing as it does the origins and backstory of Holmes' landlady, Mrs. Hudson.

The structure of the book is very interesting, alternating between Mrs. Hudson's life story (and even that of her parents) and the situation of Mary, who has been confronted and attacked by a strange man. The storytelling is masterful and the plot very interesting. Of course one would like more Sherlock and more Sherlock and Mary together, but Hudson turns out to be quite fascinating as well, the worthy subject of this fine series' most recent entry. It's better to read these in order because of the evolving story of Mary and Sherlock, but this would also be enjoyable on its own.

Books in the series are: The Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, The Moor, O Jerusalem, Justice Hall, The Game, Locked Rooms, The Language of Bees, The God of the Hive, Pirate King, Garment of Shadows, Dreaming Spies, and The Murder of Mary Russell.


T-FAL FR4900 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker and Deep Fryer with removable bowl and non-stick coating, 2.2 Pound, White
T-FAL FR4900 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker and Deep Fryer with removable bowl and non-stick coating, 2.2 Pound, White
Price: $99.00
7 used & new from $84.15

5.0 out of 5 stars big, wonderful multicooker, February 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This cooker is a versatile, big cooker, capable of sauteeing, braising or deep frying. It is well designed, easy to use and easy to clean.

The only caveat is that this is a BIG cooker. It takes about 7 cups of oil to deep fry. (There's a deep fry basket -- fun!) This is less useful when cooking for one or two, and takes up a fair bit of counter space, but even so it is versatile and performs well, with five cooking temperatures acting on a nonstick cooking surface. The cooking insert, top and basket are all dishwasher safe. There is a filter on top which isn't particularly useful -- it just gets really wet, though I guess it does allow some venting. There is a little timer that can be removed to stick in your pocket, though this isn't easy to pop out.

The only thing not great is the accompanying documents. There is a little cookbook but it only has a few recipes. I would have liked something more useful. Still .... I love this cooker.


The Birds
The Birds
by Tarjei Vesaas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norwegian classic from 1957, February 4, 2016
This review is from: The Birds (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Originally published in 1957, this Norwegian classic by Nobel nominee Tarjei Vesaas focuses on Mattis, a middle-aged mentally handicapped man who lives with his sister Hege. It holds up well after nearly 60 years.

There seem to be two kinds of 'great' literature: the books that perform feats of wonder with words, and those that are quiet but deep. The Birds is of the latter persuasion. The narrative lens is always with Mattis, who is fascinated by birds and assigns them great meaning in his world. We are privy to Mattis' confusing thoughts, as well as the shame he feels when people talk about him or treat him differently. He's aware of what people say. The author does a superb job of getting into Mattis' head, though it's not usually a fun place to be. Vesaas captures the tumult of thoughts and feelings, and the struggles Mattis faces in trying to deal with the world. We also see Hege through his eyes. While Mattis is often alarmed or annoyed by her, we can see she's depressed and lonely. Her reactions also deliver some quiet tension. Is there a reason she sometimes seems afraid of her brother?

As befits a quiet book, nothing much happens but the quiet moments are filled with meaning. There is no dramatic climax, just the struggles one faces plodding through life.

The physical book is a pleasure. At about 5 inches square, it's a nice book to hold and fits in your purse. It has a nice clean font.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2016 6:41 PM PST


The Birds (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
The Birds (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
by Tarjei Vesaas
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from $22.00

4.0 out of 5 stars quiet 1957 Norwegian classic, February 4, 2016
Originally published in 1957, this Norwegian classic by Nobel nominee Tarjei Vesaas focuses on Mattis, a middle-aged mentally handicapped man who lives with his sister Hege. It holds up well after nearly 60 years.

There seem to be two kinds of 'great' literature: the books that perform feats of wonder with words, and those that are quiet but deep. The Birds is of the latter persuasion. The narrative lens is always with Mattis, who is fascinated by birds and assigns them great meaning in his world. We are privy to Mattis' confusing thoughts, as well as the shame he feels when people talk about him or treat him differently. He's aware of what people say. The author does a superb job of getting into Mattis' head, though it's not usually a fun place to be. Vesaas captures the tumult of thoughts and feelings, and the struggles Mattis faces in trying to deal with the world. We also see Hege through his eyes. While Mattis is often alarmed or annoyed by her, we can see she's depressed and lonely. Her reactions also deliver some quiet tension. Is there a reason she sometimes seems afraid of her brother?

As befits a quiet book, nothing much happens but the quiet moments are filled with meaning. There is no dramatic climax, just the struggles one faces plodding through life.


STOTT PILATES 2nd Edition Pilates Kit for Beginners, Teal
STOTT PILATES 2nd Edition Pilates Kit for Beginners, Teal
Price: $42.79
7 used & new from $35.80

4.0 out of 5 stars nice equipment, mediocre videos, February 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a nice beginner's set for Pilates, which focuses on your core and back muscles using exercises for flexibility and strength. (There is no cardiovascular work.)

This is called a 5 piece set; the set includes a very nice textured mat, two dvds, a beginner's stretch band and a strap to carry the mat when it's rolled up.

I've wanted to try Pilates, and this is a decent way to do so. The mat, strap and band are very nice. The videos are only ok. They consist of one woman demonstrating the moves as another explains the process. This sounds good but isn't very engaging or always well explained. The music is pretty nondescript and the workout itself is VERY basic. ai didn't really feel that ai'd had much of a workout, though I felt I'd gotten a great warmup. The dvd includes dvd tips, workout principles, a 25-minute workout and some special features about Pilates and the instructor.

I like the equipment but will probably look for another dvd.


South Beach Skincare All In One Anti-Aging Treatment 2.54 oz
South Beach Skincare All In One Anti-Aging Treatment 2.54 oz
Offered by LIVING ESSENTIALS
Price: $189.00
6 used & new from $189.00

4.0 out of 5 stars effective but hyperpriced, February 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This product is called "all-in-one" because it is anti-aging, hydrating, firming and reduces wrinkles and spots. I tested this product on half my face for several days. I found that it did make a difference. Wrinkles were less deep and my skin felt firmer and softer.

Do you know how you can place a finger near your outer cheek and pull the skin up an inch or so to remember how you looked in college? Well I'd say this cream acts as if you were pulling that skin about 1/4 of the way. The effect is noticeable and lasts a little over an hour. The hydration effect lasts longer.

So I think this is a decent product that does work, and that is reflected in my rating; however, the fact that you can get a 6-month finance plan to pay for it seems a bit ridiculous. It is not worth that.


Kaplan Math Workbook for the New SAT (Kaplan Test Prep)
Kaplan Math Workbook for the New SAT (Kaplan Test Prep)
by Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.76
42 used & new from $9.46

5.0 out of 5 stars review, strategize, practice -- an invaluable help for those about to take the SAT, February 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ah, Spring is in the air, and it's time for the SATs! It's that time when we tell high school kids they're going to take a test that will affect the rest of their lives. No pressure!

Every child is different: some like standardized tests, others fear them. Some approach a test methodically, others don't get motivated until it's almost too late. Some learn better with practice, others by detailed explanation. This book will be helpful for any future test taker. I've taken a lot of standardized tests in my life, I do well on them, and I cannot imagine this book not helping anyone. And it's so much less expensive than a tutor, and less time consuming than a prep course.

The introductory material is very helpful. It's sometimes ignored by studyers, but it shouldn't be. It begins with an explanation of the book's setup, continues with a description of the SAT Math Test (including the number and types of questions, and content distribution), and concludes with test strategy. This information is invaluable.

But as helpful as the introductory information is, the heart of this guide is the 16 chapters that follow, divided by subject and containing a review of the concepts and a 20-question practice test with divided into three difficulty levels. Immediately following are the answers -- and to me this is the most valuable part of the book -- detailed answers that advise on strategy, reasoning and specific actions required to answer that question. The sixteen subjects are: linear equations; systems of linear equations; inequalities; rates, ratios, proportions and percentages; scatterplots; two way tables, statistics and probability; exponents, radicals, polynomials and radical expressions; advanced polynomials and rational equations; functions; quadratic equations; imaginary numbers; lines, angles and triangles; similarity, congruence and proofs; circles; 3D shapes; trigonometry. (Ugh, you couldn't PAY me to go back to high school!)

The book concludes with a full SAT Math practice test, again with detailed answers.

Not everyone can afford a tutor, nor is everyone willing to attend multi-hour prep classes or gather this material on their own. This is an inexpensive way to improve your test score -- but don't wait until two weeks before the test to get it. There are 16 subject sections and a full practice test, so decide how much time you'll put in. If you'll do a section a night, you need a month. That will give you time for review and takeovers. If you can only put in a couple of hours a week, you'll need three months (always generously round up so you'll have sufficient time -- it's more likely unexpected events will detract from your alloted study time than add to it). You can jump around the book, looking at subjects you want to brush up on, or you can be more systematic, but even people who test well will benefit from this book. It's filled with valuable tips and information.

If you want to do better on the SAT, this will help you.


DII Home Essentials Ultra Plush Travel Throw Pillow Blanket, Medium, 50 x 60" - Taupe
DII Home Essentials Ultra Plush Travel Throw Pillow Blanket, Medium, 50 x 60" - Taupe
Price: $29.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very soft, warm, machine washable, 4 by 5 feet, January 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
People are SO clever. This wonderful throw pillow unzips to reveal a soft plush blanket that is about 4 feet by 5 feet. This is great for a child or small adult, or as a lap throw. It's very warm and soft, and comes in three colors. The taupe is a tan, neutral color, and will go with browns or other earth colors like orange, or it would contrast with dark colors.

The blanket easily folds and zips back up. It's lightweight but gives a cozy feel, and would be a superb travel pillow. I thought maybe you could unfold the blanket then stuff the pillow with towels or something so you'd have a blanket AND a pillow, but when unfolded the zip section is in the middle of the blanket (so it's not really reversible either). Still, nothing can detract from this soft, warm pillow-blanket combination.

Machine wash cold. There are no instructions for drying but I dried it for 20 minutes on low and it was good to go, no lint generated, no smell.

**********

Update. I am dropping my rating by a star because of the zipper. This fabric is very plush and te design should have left a non-plush strip around the zipper. It makes it time-consuming and tedious to close back up. That's bad enough, but the zipper keeps separating also. Bad.

Still nice fabric.


The God's Eye View
The God's Eye View
by Barry Eisler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.95
47 used & new from $9.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NSA overreach turns deadly -- and only one analyst might be able to stop it, January 29, 2016
This review is from: The God's Eye View (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
NSA Director Ted Anders is determined to collect information on everybody's everything, and when analyst Evie Gallagher brings him evidence of a whistleblower, he uses the God's Eye capability to .... do what exactly? Evelyn learns the informant and his journalist contact are both captured or killed, and she begins to suspect someone is using the secret program to illegally retaliate. But who?

Eisler has created a half dozen interesting main characters acting within a thrilling plot. There is not much mystery but plenty of tension and creepiness, especially for liberals and those who fear goverment overreach. The writing is unadorned but effective, the dialogue is realistic and the plot is scary. Evelyn is a winning protagonist -- intelligent, principled and a good mother. The only thing I didn't particularly care for were the sexual elements, which alternated between being a bit cliched or downright icky -- rape, abuse and threats versus breasts straining against buttoned shirts and huge members. A bit juvenile, but the rest of it was a fun, fast read.

I hadn't read a book by this author before, but intend to look for others based on this entertaining novel.


Superfood Seagreens: A Guide to Cooking with Power-packed Seaweed (Superfoods for Life)
Superfood Seagreens: A Guide to Cooking with Power-packed Seaweed (Superfoods for Life)
by Barton Seaver
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.95
60 used & new from $3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars informative, interesting, comprehensive -- with a wide variety of recipes, January 27, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like many people I am interested in superfoods but don't always know how to use them. This book is dedicated to seagreens: brown and red algae, kelp, nori, seaweed, sea lettuce -- they go by many names and are a source of iodine, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, fiber and vitamins A, C, D and more.

The author begins with a culinary history of seagreens, including farming, then discusses the various types and nutritional benefits, the tools and ingredients needed (probably nothing you don't already have), buying and preparation guidelines -- and then at last to the recipes.

Recipes are divided into chapters by course: breakfast (including smoothies and omelets); snacks (chips, flatbread, sushi); sauces, spices and sides (pesto, dressing, seasoning salts, veg); salads (sweet but mostly savory); soups (including broths); larger dishes (entrees); and breads, muffins and desserts (including chocolate cake!).

The book concludes with an FAQ, a list of resource websites, and a decent index. This is part of a superfoods series (chia, kale, coconut, seeds) by various authors.

The recipes offered are varied and interesting, and the book's sidebar information is worthwhile and informative. There is enough info that you can figure out some recipes of your own too, and a few lengthier sections dedicated to topics like sushi, salts, etc.

Unfortunately only a few dishes and ingredients are pictured, but those are in color.

I will update as I try more recipes.

I think this is a very interesting book, well organized and informative, and I am anxious to try a number of the recipes.


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