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Luan Gaines "luansos" RSS Feed (Dana Point, CA USA)
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T.S. Shure Pirates of the High Seas Wooden Magnetic Action Heroes
T.S. Shure Pirates of the High Seas Wooden Magnetic Action Heroes
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainment for little pirates everywhere, March 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was so pleased with the T.S. Shure Daisy Girls School Days Magnetic Wooden Paper Dolls, that I was happy to try the Pirates of the High Seas Wooden Magnetic Action Heroes. I already liked the quality and colorful, contemporary illustrations of outfits in the Daisy Girls’ set and was not disappointed to see pirates Captain Redbeard and Captain Jack, both as bright and sturdy as the first set. These figures are taller than the Daisy Girls, more robust- but that’s fine for pirates who sail the seven seas in search of prey. The dolls are just as attractive, the “pirate wear” offering a number of swashbuckling outfits fit for a sailor- and lots of accessories. But best of all, the same two little girls who received the first set of magnetic wooden paper dolls were just as excited with the Pirates of the High Seas. One of them even had a favorite pirate book, very excited to play with these new dolls. I love that these magnetic wooden paper dolls have appeal to both boys and girls and will keep them in mind when selected inexpensive gifts for birthdays. Great little product. Luan Gaines/2015.


Girl Runner: A Novel
Girl Runner: A Novel
by Carrie Snyder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88
89 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars “Under every layer of pain another layer of recovery lies in wait, the sweet forever surprise of endurance.”, March 7, 2015
This review is from: Girl Runner: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am so grateful this exquisitely insightful novel was given to me or I might have missed it. Snyder artfully tells the story of Canadian Aganetha Smart, a woman of humble beginnings who simply cannot keep still, her instinct, even in childhood to run. This instinct enables her to achieve the impossible at a time when female athletes are not only restricted in the activities they pursue, but coddled by men who instinctively view women as limited in the early 20th century. When Aganetha Smart wins Olympic gold in the 800 meter race in the 1928 Olympics in Australia, she sets a record. It is perhaps the most notable event in a life that peaks early, but Snyder isn’t just relating the story of a superb runner, she inhabits a character that experiences a generation of change, a woman who has lived beyond her loved ones, memories her only companions at 104.

The world is a dull place when Aganetha is a child growing up on a farm, though she is rarely bored with chores and a family of “halfs”, the children of two wives by her father. There is a small graveyard on the property, where Aganetha’s beloved older sister, Fannie ( a “half”), takes her to tend the graveyard, reciting the names and dates of those who failed to thrive. Surrounded by siblings, Aganetha eventually moves to Toronto, where she lives in a boardinghouse with her sister Olive, works in a factory and joins a work-sponsored women’s track team that is the true beginning of her life’s passion and her first real friendship with another runner. It is where Aganetha will fall in love and have her heart broken, where she will dream of Olympic gold as the first to cross the finish line.

We meet Aganetha as an old woman, “liberated” from a home for the elderly by two young strangers, a brother and sister with a secret and a destination. It is on this unexpected journey that Aganetha relates the particulars of her long life, having been told by her abductors that at the end of the line there will be a revelation and an important question. But it’s never about the destination, only the journey. In beautifully nuanced prose, Snyder reveals the essence of this character that has survived more than a century, known farm and city life, the Great Depression and two world wars, her feet always in motion- in her imagination when she can no longer run.

She feels the weight of her years as the car travels toward its destination: “I creak, my bones not so different from the branches, absorbing light, graying and careful. We are old.” Memories surge with each jolt, Aganetha visiting the past through the starts and stops of the journey.
Though the plot moves back and forth in time, Aganetha is always present, awake to every moment, filled with stories of sisters, family lore, first love and lost love, secrets and regrets, a century worth of life that is always fresh as Aganetha experiences it in the moment. She shares her finest moments and her most difficult, sharing the wisdom of a humble soul whose gratitude and forbearance are born of participating fully in every day: “The appearance of perfection does not interest me. It is the illumination of near-disaster beside which we all teeter, at all times, that interests me.”

This is a novel for young women who want to know what their mothers and grandmothers felt and thought, their secret hopes and yearnings, how the world changes when you’re busy living, how such different times seem so familiar. It is for women of a certain age, who know that time may make its mark upon the flesh, but the mind remains young, the reflection in the mirror sometimes a shock when we forget we’re no longer young. This protagonist is a friend to treasure, her wisdom and compassion tempered by humility, a sense of proportion in the world. Aganetha Smart leaves her footprints on the earth and the heart. Luan Gaines/2015.


Artaste 46861 3-in-1 Citrus Juicer, Enameled Grey
Artaste 46861 3-in-1 Citrus Juicer, Enameled Grey
Price: $100.18
8 used & new from $75.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too good to be true? Not really., February 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I knew this was a risky product choice, but found the many uses for the Artaste 46861 3-in-1 Citrus Juicer appealing. It is ideal for making fresh juice, coring apples or pears, cutting potatoes or carrots. It is weighty enough and advertizes a wide, heavy base, though it isn’t as wide as I expected. My main concern was the height of the juicer on the counter or the amount of space needed to store it after usage. It does fit fine on the counter, though I need to move it forward to use it fully extended. (Another unforeseen problem: I am too short to get the leverage I need when juicing, so must either move the appliance to a lower surface or stand on a stool.) I am still learning the various ins and outs of various attachments and how to use them most effectively, but that comes with time and familiarity.

I love that the appliance has a coated finish to resist citrus acids, pitting and corrosion. And I see now that I may have to adjust my apples before coring to make them fit correctly. Still, it’s such a simple process that I find myself happy to make adjustments. I think the main considerations with this 3-in-1 juicer are size and price. The quality is what I expected and the price is in line with that. So it’s simply a matter of deciding whether to keep in on the counter with other such appliances or store it in a spot that will accommodate its height. If I use this product as frequently as I have been, it will remain on the counter for ease of access- if only I had “an appliance garage”! ( I have chosen a number of kitchen “gadgets” lately and find that the easier my food preparation becomes, the more likely I am to be creative- and enjoy the experience. Luan Gaines/2015.


T. S. Shure Daisy Girls School Days Wooden Magnetic Dress-Up Dolls
T. S. Shure Daisy Girls School Days Wooden Magnetic Dress-Up Dolls
Price: $16.46
4 used & new from $16.40

4.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the fashion!, February 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I chose the TS Shure Daisy Girls School Days Wooden Magnet Dress Up Dolls for two school-age girls that spend a lot of time in the car commuting. I like the quality of the dolls and the fact that they are magnetized. The magnetized 40 pieces of clothing are well made, brightly colored and stylish, appropriate for girls in the early years of school. While the clothes stay on all right, I did notice that the shoes were likely to fall of easily, especially if the doll is moved around in play. I guess they will have to decide the best way to handle the dolls. The graphics on both the dolls and the clothes are nicely done, the kinds of styles that appeal to young girls of this age, although the graduation cap and gown might be pushing it.

For a relatively inexpensive toy or gift, this set is a no brainer. Little girls love paper dolls and playing dress-up and the magnetized version solves a lot of problems and is suitable for small fingers. I was happy to see that the dolls were culturally sensitive, not one specific race represented in the package. Speaking of package- although it was nicely put together, the plastic carry bag is very flimsy and could easily be replaced by a large zip-lock bag when the original gets too damaged to use. I loved on reviewer’s suggestion that the clothes can be used on the frig to decorate the photos of school friends. Luan Gaines/2015.


Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Range Extender with High-Gain Antennas (RE6500HG-FFP)
Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Range Extender with High-Gain Antennas (RE6500HG-FFP)
Price: Click here to see our price

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Not for novices, January 28, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was afraid I was in over my head in requesting the Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Range Extender, but love the idea of extended range for my computer. My router is in the garage, my desktop in the loft and my laptop happy to go anywhere I take it, especially outside to the gazebo, something not possible before the Range Extender. My granddaughter has an assortment of devices that always seem problematic when she’s trying to use them here, so I was hoping the Range Extender might solve some of those problems as well.

Onto phase two: the setup. This was problematic, in spite of the directions, or maybe because of them. It was necessary to call in a friend well-acquainted with various systems. Though he said the process could have been simpler and was overly complicated, he got the job done. Now that the Range Extender is in place, I am happy with the results, but it’s unfortunate that I had to call in outside help. In any case, my laptop is the beneficiary, now free to roam. Luan Gaines/2015.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 28, 2015 10:20 PM PST


Coffee-mate Coffee Creamer, Sweetened Original, 1.5-Liter Pump Bottle (Pack of 2)
Coffee-mate Coffee Creamer, Sweetened Original, 1.5-Liter Pump Bottle (Pack of 2)
Price: $26.48
17 used & new from $26.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Quick and easy solution for coffee drinkers, December 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thought this product would be a good solution to a weekly club meeting. I probably wouldn’t buy it in this size for home use, but for a group of people- most of whom appreciate having coffee served during the meeting- this product is ideal. As suggested by another reviewer, I opened the pump before screwing it into the bottle. The most obvious advantage of Coffee Mate sweetened Coffee Creamer is that it does not have to be refrigerated. Of course the coffee drinker must want sweetening as well as cream. So far the Coffee Mate sweetened creamer has been a hit and the size is perfect for the group of 6-12 people. We’ve only used it one week, so I’ll have to see if the pump clogs as some others mentioned in their reviews. If the pump remains clear, this product will be a practical and easy solution for serving a small group of people. Luan Gaines/2014.


The Killer Next Door: A Novel
The Killer Next Door: A Novel
by Alex Marwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.49
78 used & new from $4.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “All those years I thought I was working my way up the ladder to be People Like Them.”, October 28, 2014
In a world of misfits, a young woman fleeing from those who mean to kill her finds temporary shelter in a South London boardinghouse. Lisa Dunne, using the assumed name of Collette, is closing out the books in a London club when she witnesses a murder. The night’s take still clutched in a bag in her hand, she flees in panic from her boss and the others engaged in the crime. Later, she will find that money her only salvation on the run. Spotting one of her pursuers while hiding abroad, Collette rents a cash-only bedsit at 23 Beulah Grove, a shabby boardinghouse back in London where she is only one of other eccentric characters who prefer anonymity, some with secrets as dangerous as hers.

It is in the bizarre boardinghouse environment, the fringe-dwellers on the edge of society, that Marwood builds her engaging tale, the threat against Collette real enough, with both her ex-boss and a police detective moving closer by the day; but quite another horror exists in the midst of these six troubled souls, an assortment of tenants: big-hearted Cher, a pickpocket and runaway from a dysfunctional foster care system; the handsome Hossein, an Iranian political refugee waiting for his papers; the divorced, asocial Gerard, who rarely leaves his room and plays unbearably loud music that rattles the flimsy walls; Thomas, the odd duck who rents the attic; and Vesta, an elderly pensioner in the basement apartment who has always lived in the building. All of their troubles are exacerbated by the unctuous landlord, the voyeuristic boor, Roy Preece, who intrudes on their privacy and secretly records intimate moments. But no threat is greater than the presence of “the Lover”, a killer who resides among them.

While horror lurks from within and without, each tenant symbolic of society’s ills, unexpected friendships brew, Collette warming to the compassionate Vesta and exuberant Cher, her fear held at bay, at least temporarily before the inevitable moment of reckoning. Still, violence is in the air, debts to be paid, murders to be exposed in a collision of events that proves Marwood an apt chronicler of the human condition and the always fickle hand of fate. Luan Gaines/2014.


Philips Sonicare HX3631/06 Powerup Battery Toothbrush, Medium, Scuba Blue
Philips Sonicare HX3631/06 Powerup Battery Toothbrush, Medium, Scuba Blue
Price: $14.85
8 used & new from $9.34

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping the cavities away, October 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Philips Sonicare Battery-Operated Toothbrush (HX3631/06) is a compact, handy toothbrush for those who have grown accustomed to using any of the electronic models currently popular in maintaining dental hygiene. While this model, battery operated, is a great first brush for those who have only used manual brushes to clean their teeth, it has other uses as well, as an extra toothbrush in an upstairs cabinet, or a way to take the convenience of a rechargeable toothbrush on a trip or sleepover. Easy to use- and complete with two AA batteries in the package, this Sonicare model is the perfect extra brush and comes with a one year warranty. Although the regular toothbrush has done its work for years, advances in dental hygiene suggest the daily use of power toothbrushes to keep the teeth and gums healthy and less prone to cavities.

I have also found that little ones find this model quite enchanting, easy to hold in small hands to brighten up a smile in the morning or use before a bedtime story. I don’t have to worry about that well-worn toothbrush packed for an overnight stay when my grandchild comes to visit. It’s actually a treat to use, the big girl brush at Nana’s house- something she can do while I am brushing my teeth with my rechargeable brush at the same time. Early hygiene habits are critical for a lifetime of healthy teeth and I find this convenient toothbrush, made more portable by virtue of the batteries, an affordable way to teach and enjoy a daily ritual with my granddaughter. There is another in my suitcase for travel, saving the trouble of carrying a rechargeable along, while still giving me the hygiene I depend upon. Luan Gaines/2014.


Photography: The Definitive Visual History
Photography: The Definitive Visual History
by Tom Ang
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.98
62 used & new from $17.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The invention of photography was a triumph of the Industrial Revolution mission to bend nature to the human will.", October 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Not only is Ang’s Photography, the Definitive Visual History, a beautifully bound coffee table book, but a thoroughly researched and thoughtfully presentation of the art of photography, from its beginning and the concept of the “camera obscura” to the efforts of Louis Daguerre in 1839 to its present day form. Printed on heavy gloss quality stock, the images, whether black and white or color, are crisp, striking and placed in a pleasing design within the context of information that accompanies each chapter, visual impact married with facts.

Beginning in 1825, Ang describes the rapid spread of photography around the world, chapters covering 1825 to the present, each broken down into specific time spans, new methods and technical advances, the layout creating a real sense of the momentum of such changes, for example, “Spirit of the Time” (1940-1959); “Challenge and Change” (1980-1999); and “The Digital Age” (2000- Present). Each chapter provides profiles of influential photographers of the era, examples of their work, the cameras/techniques involved and each time frame’s technological perspective. The result is stunning, a display of creativity influenced by technology, from the hand ground lenses of the early years to current digital innovation. In addition to the information from one photographic era to the next, each set in the context of technological innovation and social changes, Ang includes, besides a glossary, a comprehensive “A to Z” of photographers, biographies of more than two-hundred and fifty of the world’s greatest photographers.

If you purchase this elegant book as a girt, you might want to consider buying another for personal use, Ang’s treasure of history and visual image promising hours of fascinating entertainment in the art and science of photographers. Luan Gaines/2014.


DII 100% Cotton, Tonal Fringe, Variegated, Machine Washable, Everyday Kitchen Basic Placemat, Set of 6, Taupe
DII 100% Cotton, Tonal Fringe, Variegated, Machine Washable, Everyday Kitchen Basic Placemat, Set of 6, Taupe
Price: $26.00
3 used & new from $22.10

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome product that looks great but will have to prove itself, October 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Much as I might like to choose a bright color, the taupe seemed the best selection for everyday use, a 100% cotton product that would be subject to much wear and the challenges of everyday use. With the criteria of function and durability a primary concern, these placemats will undergo daily use and frequent washing. I also felt I could integrate these 13” x 19” placemats with other, more decorative ones if needed, the taupe likely to fit in with most color schemes. Since the tonal weave allows some color variegation, this shade will work well for me. DII also offers a number of napkin ring designs that will blend well with placemats sets of many colors and offer variety even for the daily place setting in a busy household. One of the perks of more casual dining is that placemats are a modern substitute for more formal table linens, a way to dress up daily routines of busy people.

In terms of quality, at first blush, these placemats by DII are similar to others on the market, sturdy-looking, well-made and of the advertised size. However, I have not yet washed them, so I cannot attest to their durability, even allowing for some fabric shedding through the wash cycle. The problem of shedding fibers during washing will be critical in deciding whether to buy from DII again. If the placemats don’t hold up in the wash, I will likely avoid DII products. But if they shed a reasonable amount and dry flat, as directed, I will be happy to use this brand. Because of this reservation, I cannot give this product more than a 4 star rating. Depending on the results of the wash, I will either raise my rating or speak to any problems I have found with the placemats. I appreciate other reviewers sharing these issues, because I will be more attentive to this feature when caring for the product. Crossing my fingers for a successful outcome. Luan Gaines/2014.


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