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Monoprice 609326 Ebonite B Flat Clarinet with Case, Cloth, and Gloves Nickel Silver
Monoprice 609326 Ebonite B Flat Clarinet with Case, Cloth, and Gloves Nickel Silver
Price: $119.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay for getting started, June 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This clarinet reasonably okay for a beginner,as the product description says. The materials are not atypical for an instrument of this quality, and they are not the best, though on the instrument that I received, everything appears to be intact and functional. This is a good choice for a student who is unsure of what instrument to ultimately stick, with and for parents not wanting to invest a lot of money on the student's first attempts. Purchasing the first instrument helps one avoid mounting rental fees, and the instrument might be passed down to a younger sibling when the older one acquires something better. The case appears to be sturdy enough. No marching gloves came with this clarinet, but that is certainly not a big deal.

For someone more experienced or more serious, there are certainly better instruments, used and new, to choose from. However, this Monoprice clarinet will do the job for a while. Anything that gets young people (or older!) playing, appreciating, loving, and ulitmately growing with good music -hopefully for a lifetime! - is a good thing. How nice that price doesn't have to be the biggest obstacle.


Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why
Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why
by Paul Tough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.86
50 used & new from $9.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Another shoutout for human kindness and connection, June 26, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is wonderfully gratifying to read about new programs that reach out to children who may be struggling in school and continue to find things difficult later in life. What I appreciate about this book is the compassion that runs through it. Reading about brain research helped me to better understand the factors that interfere with a child's development of skills that are crucial for succeeding in school, getting along with others, sustaining attention, and so on. Paul Tough cites many fascinating studies and their beautiful results. What shines to me here is the vote of confidence for human warmth and empathy at all stages of a child's life. I really appreciate the way these needs are explained and spelled out. Remembering a very different approach to education decades back, I found myself repeatedly moved by this book in ways that I did not experience in "How Children Succeed," though that was also a satisfying read. Another book that offers some similar ideas and ways to apply them is Ross Greene's "Lost and Found."


Lost and Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You're At It, All the Others) (J-B Ed: Reach and Teach)
Lost and Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You're At It, All the Others) (J-B Ed: Reach and Teach)
by Ross W. Greene
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.58
57 used & new from $14.28

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So sorely needed - inspiring and uplifting, June 21, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is as inspiring and encouraging as the program that it describes. Dr. Greene does a fine job of explaining how the program works, in clear language, with very detailed instructions for each stage of the CPS process. CPS Problem solving strategies are illustrated with sample dialogues between teachers and students. Every detail is attended to, down to the exact words teachers can use to reach out to students who are struggling. Each chapter ends with a variety of uplifting quotes from teachers who have succeeded with the program. I am so touched and impressed by the the basic idea that people do well when they have the skills to do so, and by the degree to which empathy for students, parents, and teachers underlies this whole process. At face value, it all seems to make good common sense.

My only reservation about this program is that Dr. Greene tells us that it can take a year or two for an entire school to truly embrace this program and thrive with it. Getting all teachers on board can be challenging; however, he provides clear instructions for that. The other possible obstacle is that the style of interaction that he calls "Plan A" (adults making decisions for students; punishment and reward rather than targeted problem solving; blaming the student for not wanting to cooperate; etc.) is so prevalent in our society that some teachers may find it extremely challenging to face down their own conditioning and impulses. Still, Dr.Greene assures us that with determination, persistence, and a firm desire to help students learn to collaborate in improving their lot rather than shut down or run away, good things can happen. Definitely worth a try! I look forward to reading Dr. Greene's earlier books on this subject.


Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal
Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal
by Jack Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and at times, riveting, June 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a book about the Erie Canal and much more. Several fascinating threads run through the book, alternating chapter by chapter. First, we read about the initial idea of building the canal, and the surveying and planning, and seeking of funding etc. to get this massive project underway, as well as the logisitics of doing this with the limited equipment that was available in the early nineteenth century. In alternating chapters, we read Joseph Smith's life story, with riveting descriptions of his revelations, the growth of the Mormon religion, and the obstacles it faced through the years. We also read about William MIller and the movement that became the Seventh Day Adventist religion, Charles Finney and the huge revival movement, and Masonic and antimasonic political groups and the struggles between them. Throughout, there is much discussion about the political, social and economic conditions of the time, and the various issues faced by minorities and women. The canal unites all of these different subjects, and the book concludes with a chapter about the canal's significance and purpose today.

I found myself glued to this book much of the time I was reading it. I found the descriptions of revivals and mob behavior particularly intriguing. I feel that I gained a better sense of what daily life was like for much of society in the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Highly recommended to those interested in history in general, and history of American religion in particular.


idée Stainless Steel Clothes Drying Rack, PDR01E
idée Stainless Steel Clothes Drying Rack, PDR01E
Offered by Pax Global, Inc.
Price: $29.69
3 used & new from $29.69

5.0 out of 5 stars It holds lots of clothing and has a nice flat surface for sweaters and such, June 15, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a really well made, solid product. I have owned several drying racks before, and this appears to be the most stable and possibly the most durable. It holds lots of clothing and has a nice flat surface for sweaters and such. I like that the rack is easy to put up and take down, and that it folds nice and flat, and will fit in the small space between the dryer and the wall. The two wings can be adjusted up and down. I filled the rack with lots of fairly heavy laundry including jeans and towels, and the thing didn't wobble at all. I was able to fit a very large load of laundry with room left over.

The one possible drawback to this product is its size. It does take up a lot of space, but I still prefer it over my old drying rack because of the difference in overall quality. Highly recommended to those who have room for it.


All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World
All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World
by Zora O'Neill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.24
69 used & new from $9.19

4.0 out of 5 stars People who love words will enjoy this book, June 8, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about Zora O'Neill's attempts to become fluent in Arabic dialects as she traveled around the middle east, taking courses and seeking out people to converse with.. Her writing is upbeat, often light, and very readable, reflecting her enthusiasm for learning (always contagious!) and laced with bits of humor here and there.

This is really a book about Arabic in particular and language in general. However, O'Neill goes into history, political tensions, cultural differences, literature, (especially poetry), the position of women, and her own Arabic classes and private study, as well as the history of Arabic study in the west and how it has developed over the last few decades. She includes odd facts like the history of dubbing foreign tv shows with Arabic, and occasionally refers to the tense politicalShe offers lots of fascinating information about Arabic grammar, but avoids discussing very technical points in the main text, explaining such things in greater detail in the excellent notes. I very much appreciate that she writes about her inner process as she deals with this complex language (languages, really) while living in an unfamiliar culture. She opens up to us about her self-consciousness and uncertainty when initiating conversations, and the courage that it takes to do so. We learn about the possible consequences of mistakes. For example, very similar vocal sounds can mean "May God be pleased with you" which is used for polite requests, or "May God abandon you," which is "something one should pretty much never say." Fascinating.

Here is a brief sample of O'Neill's vivid description; this time, discussing the pronunciation of the letter "ayn:"

"The first time I heard it, I stared, bewildered, as our professor repeated the letter. Her lips barely parted, yet a tremendous, odd sound emanated from her, half foghorn, half heartsick wail...Trying it myself, I contracted my larynx as our professor directed...then swallowed, simultaneously pushing sound up and out. My eyes bulged with effort."

People who love languages - playing with them, learning about them, reveling in their oddities and eccentricities - will very much enjoy this book, as will anyone with an interest in the middle east.


Play Life More Beautifully: Conversations with Seymour
Play Life More Beautifully: Conversations with Seymour
by Andrew Harvey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.54
43 used & new from $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this very satisfying book of conversations between pianist Seymour ..., June 1, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really enjoyed this very satisfying book of conversations between pianist Seymour Bernstein and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey. I so appreciate their warm camaraderie, mutual respect, and beautiful ideas about ways that immersing oneself in great music can order other aspects of life.

Most of the conversation has to do with Bernstein's background: his childhood, his music education and deep devotion to practicing, his difficulties with his father, his religious education, his experiences as a musician during the Korean War, and so on. Harvey also weighs in about his own past experiences. My favorite parts of the book are the conversations about so many aspects of a life in music: studying, teaching and performing. I enjoyed reading Bernstein's detailed descriptions of his various teachers and his relationships with them, as well as his observations about musical phrasing and interpretation, and his four stages of learning new repertoire.

In addition to music, Bernstein and Harvey 's conversations pass through lots of other topics. Here are some: spirituality, solitude, and family, not to mention some rather odd views about women. Though most of this is engaging, the best parts of the book have to do with music and its mysterious power to profoundly enrich our lives. I came away from the book (I love the little surprise at the end! the link didn't work for me; may be necessary to search under the title) feeling fulfilled and uplifted. This is a very lovely book, and would make a wonderful gift for those who love music and good conversation, sometimes deep and probing, and sometimes whimsical.


Make Fun!: Create Your Own Toys, Games, and Amusements
Make Fun!: Create Your Own Toys, Games, and Amusements
by Bob Knetzger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.50
54 used & new from $13.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read, fun to try things - & a blast from the past, May 31, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this book with kids in mind, knowing that someone close by is good at making complex, fabulous things out of simple or odd ingredients. When I received the book, I quickly realized that in addition to being a guidebook for creating neat stuff, this is actually a fun and fascinating read. I have loved reading about toys from past decades that did such marvelous things, and about the people who brought them into being. The color photos, QR codes, and lively writing have glued me to this book since it arrived. The instructions that I have followed are clear and beautifully illustrated, and more helpful stuff is available online. I love the spirit of adventure and fun throughout the book.

So...this book that I got with kids-and-helper in mind may not get to them for a while, because I am having too danged much fun with it, reading, learning, planning, fantastizing, and experimenting. While some of the projects look scary, others are really quite simple and use less mysterious materials.

Here is a quote from the introduction by Mark Frauenfielder, describing the work of author/toy designer Bob Knetzger:

p. xiv: "I don't think Bob designs toys that he believes will appeal to kids. He designs toys that appeal to him. And because of this, his toys have a sense of humor and playfulness that shine through...I've read a lot of books about how to make toys, but this is the first one that gets to the heart of the innovation and creativity that goes into being a toy inventor."

What fun stuff! Such enthusiasm, shining through this book, is delightfully contagious. Highly recommended.


Alzheimer's and Dementia For Dummies
Alzheimer's and Dementia For Dummies
by Consumer Dummies
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.82
35 used & new from $14.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A very valuable resource and comfort to caregivers, May 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book offers a very wide range of vital information for people facing a diagnosis of dementia, and for their caregivers. Like many :”For Dummies” books, each chapter is written to stand on its own; there is no need to read the book straight through (though I did). Two tables of contents (one general and one very detailed) and a good index help the reader to find exactly what’s needed. One of the best aspects of “For Dummies” books is the “Ten’s” chapter at the end. This book has 3 sets of “Ten’s,” one of which is partially addressed to the patient. The rest of the book is for the most part directed to the caregiver.

Throughout the book, the authors continuously emphasize the great advantages of early planning for the patient’s care, as this is very unfortunately a progressive disease. Financial, legal, and health decisions made soon after diagnosis can spare the patient and the family much grief and expense in what is already such an emotionally challenging situation. Other topics covered include a chapter on various forms (four covered here) of dementia; caring for the patient at home, in an instituion, or both; managing all aspects of daily life with this person’s difficulties in mind; record keeping; financial and legal and health related decisions; end of life issues; care of the caregiver, etc. etc. etc.

Here are some of the things I most appreciated about this book: first, the emphasis on preserving the patient’s dignity throughout this long and difficult process. Second, along with that, the importance of maintaining compassion for the patient; remembering that they are not doing things intentionally. Also, I appreciate that the authors urge caregivers to take some time away from the patient on a regular basis, in order to restore themselves physically and emotionally.

My only reservation about this book is that it might have been good to read more about risk factors and prevention, though there is a chapter that covers those subjects generally. Also I found contradictory ideas about the degree to which Alzheimer's disease is heredity. Perhaps no one really knows the truth about that.

This book could be a tremendous help and comfort to someone dealing with the sad realities of a loved one’s suffering. I wish I had had access to it when someone close to me faced a similar situation. Highly recommended.


The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti
The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti
by Radhanath Swami
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.56
55 used & new from $13.65

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Journey Within, May 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this very readable and accessible book, "The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti," Radhanath Swami discusses many aspects of Hindu philosophy, centering on bhakti yoga. He tells how he discovered this path for himself, and what it has meant to him through many decades of devoted study and practice. I particularly enjoyed the first part, "The Big Questions," in which he handles more general aspects of this subject. Many of his points and the stories he uses to illustrate them are familiar from other readings. I appreciate his ability to explain important concepts in simple, familiar language, and to bring Sanskrit terms to life.

Part II, "Living Spiritually in a Material World," goes more deeply into bhakti yoga, with more emphasis on a very personal and loving relationship with a very personal deity. Some readers will feel an affinity for this, while others may have difficulty with it. Again, many colorful stories and passages from old texts help communicate important ideas. Radhanath Swani writes with warmth and humility throughout.

Overall, this book has much to teach those interested in a wider perspective on the subject. I find it fascinating that the author came to this path back in the early 70's at a time when many others pursued similar things,and while so many of them turned away after a short time, he has stuck with it and done so much. I look forward to reading Radhanath Swami's earlier book, "The Journey Home."


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