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Laurie A. Brown RSS Feed (SANDPOINT, ID USA)
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The Buried Giant: A novel
The Buried Giant: A novel
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.17
109 used & new from $12.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely enchanting, March 28, 2015
“The Buried Giant” doesn’t tell its story simply. On the face of it, it’s a simple tale. An elderly Briton couple- Axl and Beatrice- not valued by their little ‘village’, decide to pay their son a visit in the village nearby where he lives. On the way they meet a Saxon warrior and his injured charge, a knight, ogres, a swarm of nasty pixies, monks with deadly intent, boatmen who ask an awful lot of questions before ferrying his charges across to islands, and more. Many of these characters are not who they seem to be at first. The knight is Sir Gawain, despite King Arthur being long gone. The boatmen, despite working a real river, are the ferrymen of the dead. Even Axl isn’t the peasant he appears to be.

Axl and Beatrice are in love with and devoted to each other. Beatrice addresses Axl as ‘husband’ and he calls her “princess” – I’m afraid to say that I did laugh a bit at this, being put in mind of ‘The Princess Bride’. They never want to be more than a couple of steps apart.

An odd mist lies over the land; it brings forgetfulness, both of recent events and those long past. It lies in patches, so that sometimes Axl and Beatrice can remember things they previously couldn’t. This leads them to wonder: if there were bad things in their past, would they be better off forgetting them? No, they decide. Those events made them who they are today. But while remembering is good for Axl and Beatrice, it isn’t best for everyone. Sometimes it’s best to let the past be shrouded in forgetfulness for the sake of happiness and peace. Axl and Beatrice can forgive- have forgiven- their past errors; that’s a lot harder for large groups of people.

I read this book over about 24 hours; when I would take a break I needed to shake my head to clear the mists out. The story enchanted me, in the same way that Arthurian legend and Tolkien’s word does, despite being told in plain language without the flourishes or old fashioned language of many myths. I loved this book.


Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
by Evan D. G. Frase
Edition: Hardcover
55 used & new from $1.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Great in some ways, sadly deficiant in others, March 25, 2015
I was loath to put this book down once I started it. It held my interest like a well-crafted novel would- for the most part. The author’s premise is that empires expand when they have good sources of food (mainly grain), and then, when the food sources fail the empire collapses. They present the Mayans, Mesopotamia, the Romans, the British Empire, modern China, and modern America among others, and they paint a pretty scary picture.

Sadly, their scholarship doesn’t match their writing. The British Empire didn’t fail because of a shortage of grains. Some of the dates given are just wrong; in at least one case, that makes what they are saying impossible (that a certain event caused something).

The book jumps around in time and place; I found it rather jolting at times to make the connections. For some reason, they felt they could bind a lot of the events together with the story of the world roaming trader Carletti, but they don’t even give him a continuous narration. He really had nothing to do with their thesis.

What was good about it? It does examine food surplus and scarcity. To be a food empire, the empire must be able to produce or capture a surplus of grains. They must be able to ship it to all its area, and trade it for other things, both necessities and luxuries. Having more food than your own population also gives a society another, very important, thing: when there is enough food that not everyone has to be a farmer, people can do other things, like learn to read and write, become artisans, and go exploring. Being able to have a non-farmer class gave us civilization.

They also go over why the food surpluses ceased to be. Irrigation that created over saline soils, loss of soil nutrients, loss of soil itself due to erosion, lowering of average temperatures by even one degree makes plants take longer to ripen grain, lack of rain- all these things can create disaster. And we are facing that again today: today we face climate change, soil erosion, drought, and the fact that the vast majority of grain growing (and, hence, meat producing) relies on petroleum inputs- and we are fast running out of petroleum.

The authors do not have an answer to our possible/probably plight. One thing they do suggest isn’t something that will work for most areas of the world: becoming locavores. Eating only foods grown within a circumscribed area at least remedies the amounts of fuel used to truck and process foods. Now, a big city, with all its suburbs, covers a huge area with blacktop and concrete and will have few areas for growing foods- and it takes a LOT of area to grow grains and frankly no one wants a pig farm next door. Our area, despite being rural, cannot successfully feed itself. The soils are not rich enough to support much beyond grass hay and cattle. The growing season is too short to ripen grain a lot of years- not to mention many fruits and vegetables. It’s possible on a small scale to ripen peppers and tomatoes by protective coverings but it would take a LOT of greenhouses to feed the county year round.

What this book does is point out a lot of different aspects of food supplies and make you think about them. For that I give it four stars.


Watermax Neutral pH Water Treatment, 1-Quart
Watermax Neutral pH Water Treatment, 1-Quart
Price: $24.95
2 used & new from $24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Great product!, March 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We don't have our watering system hooked up yet for the growing season, but our water has such a high mineral content (magnesium, calcium & iron) that it creates crusts on container plants in no time, and if you leave water in a clear container overnight you can see sediment in the bottom. We also get a lot of alga growth, which I hadn't realized was connected to the scale & crusting.

I started putting 1.5 ml of the product into every gallon of water I used on the container plants (I have to ask why they give the measurements in ml for the product and gallons for the water.. odd to mix systems like that). The containers that had new soilless mix in them have not gotten crusts on them, nor have they grown alga. The older containers that already had some crusting have softened somewhat and the alga is not nearly as thick in the ones that had it. This product is a win; given what I'm seeing I'm sure that the irrigation system won't be plugging up this summer like it usually does! (we frequently have to remove the sprinklers and emitters and soak them in vinegar).


Curel Daily Moisture Original Lotion, 13 Ounce
Curel Daily Moisture Original Lotion, 13 Ounce
Price: $7.27
20 used & new from $1.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty nice lotion, March 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a heavy duty lotion. It's thick and luxurious feeling. Despite the thickness, it spreads out and sinks in easily and quickly and doesn't leave a sticky feeling. On most of my body it does indeed last all day, but I have to put it on my hands pretty much after every wash, just like other lotions. The scent is light and kind of old fashioned. It's nice and really does the job.


L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation Makeup, Shell Beige, 1 Fluid Ounce
L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation Makeup, Shell Beige, 1 Fluid Ounce
Price: $11.88
7 used & new from $11.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total win, March 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am loving this foundation. I've been using silicon based foundations for years, but even they didn't last all day. This product lasts ALL DAY most days. Not only that, but my eye liner, which normally migrates down under my eyes, stayed put- the foundation didn't mix with it at all.

I tried it first on bare skin. It smoothed out evenly. Then I tried it over a silicon based sun screen; it worked just as smoothly and still stayed put all day- even though I was working hard outside and worked up a sweat.

This product covers super well- I have red patches and dark spots and this covered them better than any other foundation I've tried. It still has a natural look, though, not mask like. It also minimized my large pores, kind of giving a blurred effect. It was kind of like taking Photo Shop to my face! The finish is neither matte nor shiny; pretty realistic and natural looking.


The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel (An Anchor Books Original)
The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel (An Anchor Books Original)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.93
67 used & new from $8.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Not what expected, March 15, 2015
What a sad thing to review this book right after Sir Terry has passed away; sadder still that I have to say that I didn’t really like the book. It was okay; I read the whole thing without finding it a chore, but it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it might be a humorous book on how *Discworld* works, rather than our own.

There are four books in the Science of Discworld series; this is the only one I’ve read. The books are written in an alternating chapter format: Sir Terry writes the short, fiction, chapters and Stewart and Cohen write the longer, nonfiction, ones. The fiction portion tells a tale of the wizards of Discworld and a misadventure while doing a team building exercise in the forest. They find themselves interacting with Roundworld, a globular world where magic doesn’t exist, but elves do. Thinking this situation is unfair to the humans, they first eliminate the elves from Roundworld. Then they discover that this was a horrible mistake, as humans need to believe in magic in order to thrive and progress- even though the magic is imaginary. They have to go through great effort to correct their meddling.

The science part of the book covers a lot of different subjects; quantum physics, evolution, psychology, religion, time, multiverses, culture, and philosophy. It’s all in terms that most will find accessible, but there is some repetition.

It’s an attempt to get lovers of fantasy to read science-y stuff and sneak some education down our throats, sort of like a grown up version of Mickey Mouse teaching kids about math or something. It works, but not terribly well. The wizard story is just barely held together; the wizards do something, and then they stop and what just happened is explained to us. By the end of the book, I remembered a lot of the science but little of the story. While Cohen and Stewart wrote the science sections, I swear I see Sir Terry’s hand in that; the footnotes are some of the funniest stuff in the book.

Final verdict? Certainly not my favorite Pratchett, but if I see the other three in the series I’ll probably read them. Just not that eagerly.


A MODERN PILGRIM'S MAP OF THE BRITISH ISLES OR MORE PRECISELY THE KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE IRISH FREE STATE Designed by C.W. Riddiford, Done in the Map and Art Studios of the National Geographic Magazine, Gilbert Grosvenor, Editor
A MODERN PILGRIM'S MAP OF THE BRITISH ISLES OR MORE PRECISELY THE KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE IRISH FREE STATE Designed by C.W. Riddiford, Done in the Map and Art Studios of the National Geographic Magazine, Gilbert Grosvenor, Editor

5.0 out of 5 stars So glad to have this again, March 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I love this old map- my grandfather (who was from England) had framed this map, and it hung on my wall as a kid. I loved peering at it, finding the castles and old city names and all. Sadly, it was left behind when my family moved. I looked for it for years before finding this one! It's just as I remember and am very happy to have this. And the seller shipped it so fast I didn't realize what it was when I got it in the mail; it seemed too soon


Saint Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel
Saint Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.80
157 used & new from $7.86

4.0 out of 5 stars The end?, March 15, 2015
“Saint Odd” is (supposedly) the last volume in the Odd Thomas saga. In it, Oddie is back in his hometown of Pico Mundo in the California desert. He knows that it is here that he has to make what will probably be his last stand. He doesn’t mind if it’s his last stand; a fortune telling machine told his girlfriend and him that they would be together forever- and she’s dead now. The satanic cult he’s battled before is after him, as well as planning something horrible for the citizens of Pico Mundo.

Odd doesn’t see himself as a hero. He is humble, helpful, always polite, and only wants to do the right thing. But he has certain gifts- he sees the dead, has certain intuitions, and can home in on people unerringly- that have put him on the path of saving Pico Mundo and possibly the world.

There is a lot of action in this story; it’s the most violent of the series. The satanic cult is not made up of nice people; they glory in their killing. Odd just does what he needs to do to save innocents. And he has a lot of help- a lot of people from earlier in the series show up. There are false leads and dead ends and lots of running about. It’s a good story.. but… not perfect. There are a lot of things left unexplained- who is Annamarie the eternally 8 months pregnant 18 year old? Who are, really, the group that Edie Fischer belongs to? What are the horrible things that must be fought in the next world after this? (and why weren’t there bodachs around? Damn things are always around when death is apt to occur). These things lead me to believe that this might not be the last in the series- which would please me a great deal, as well as allowing these loose ends to be tied up.


Heat Storm Tradesman Outdoor Infrared Heater, 1500-watt
Heat Storm Tradesman Outdoor Infrared Heater, 1500-watt
Price: $127.71
7 used & new from $110.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice heater, but has a lot of limitations, March 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm torn about this product. It throws out a lot of heat very, very quickly. This is the first time I've ever been impressed with an infrared heater (like a heat lamp)- a heat lamp is typically 150 to 250 watts while this heater is 1500 watts. (of course, at ten times the wattage it takes ten times the cost to run the thing). It has a nice reflector to make sure you get the benefit of as much of the radiation as possible. Sadly, the unit is not insulated at all and heats up horribly- don't even think of trying to move it while it's in operation. In fact, I was a little worried about what kinds of surfaces it was safe to put it on (which may be why it's listed as an outdoor heater instead of indoors-less flammable stuff out there)! It does cool off pretty quickly.

The unit isn't something you'd want to put on an extension cord, but the cord that comes on it is only 6' long. That can be a problem, especially outside where power plugs tend to be few and far between. It has no on/off switch, so you have to be sure the plug is easily accessible in case you need to turn it off quickly.

The heater comes with a bracket for attaching to a wall or something, but no stand, so if you want to be able to move it, all you can do is lay it on the ground/floor- and hope that what you lay it on is heat proof. You can buy a stand to go with it ($60), or build something of your own.

While this unit works well for one stationary person, if you're moving around or if there are multiple people you're trying to warm it's not what you want. The area it heats is fairly limited. If you're in one spot, though, it will heat you toasty warm in no time- and heat your tools & whatever you're using.

In the end, it seems a little expensive to get the heater and stand ($188) versus some other heaters. The benefit of this heater is that it works well in the wind whereas regular ones will have their heat blown away. It's also silent, which is nice if you're trying to talk. Unless you're really lucky with where you're electric plugs are, you'll need to invest in a heavy duty extension cord, or install a longer cord on the heater- which will obviously void any warranty. Not to mention create a safety hazard if you don't know what you're doing.


Caress Body Wash, Love Forever, 13.5 Ounce
Caress Body Wash, Love Forever, 13.5 Ounce
Offered by GRL Recoveries
Price: $6.99
4 used & new from $6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great product but scent doesn't linger., February 28, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very nice product. It leaves my skin well moisturized; I am able to do without after bath lotion, even though we are having dry winter air. I'm delighted with that.

The fragrance isn't what I'd call roses and berries; the berries are very strong and there is a basenote of what smells to me like cedarwood. I really like that (although I wish the rose were stronger) because the woody part cuts the over sweetness that berry fragrances usually have. Instead of jammy sweet, it's like a berry patch in the forest. The fragrance is strong right out of the bottle (love the black bottle) but dies off very quickly. I have tried and tried to get the scent activated on my skin later with no luck. I can find no evidence of the time release technology.

I find the dark red of the gel appealing but some people have found it unpleasantly close to the look of blood. It suds up pink, which I also find really neat. It rinses off quickly and doesn't leave me feeling oily or unwashed. The bottle design is sophisticated looking but the curved top means it can't be stood upside down, which will be annoying when it runs low. But all in all it's a pretty cool product.


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