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The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I don't want to believe, February 19, 2015
Gosh, this is a very hard book to review. A friend asked yesterday, and I had to admit to mixed feelings.

On one hand, I liked the ending, the writing was good, I wanted to root for the protagonist (even when I didn't like his decisions), and the book introduced me to some new and interesting information, even though I don't like to consider the extent of the truth of that information.

On the other hand, I really had to consider this book to be fantasy in order to get through it. Like 1984. And I am not the first to make this comparison. The book has such a horrific depiction of North Korean life that I do not want to consider much of it true. Considering it a fantasy makes that easier. I did not care for the author's continuous changing of the protagonist's voice, from that of a youth to that of a mature man. There were other voices in the second part of the book that were also hard to follow.

The fact/fiction thing is the most disturbing. The author's note in the rear says that he spent seven years writing the book. He conducted many interviews of persons who had escaped from N. Korea. He took a carefully monitored and escorted trip to the capital. He details certain limited portions of the setting that he had to fictionalize. That most of the book is steeped in reality gives me the hebbie-gebbies, because I don't want to believe that a country so dysfunctional exists on earth.

The book follows the life of one man in N. Korea through various (unlikely) roles he fills, from the lowest to the highest. As I said, I liked the ending, even while I had a hard time believing it. And I can see why the book has gotten so much acclaim, if one believes that the research is portrayed as accurately as possible.


Miracle-Gro AeroGarden 7-Pod LED Indoor Garden with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit
Miracle-Gro AeroGarden 7-Pod LED Indoor Garden with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit
Price: $174.95
11 used & new from $111.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice product, but limited produce., January 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I ordered this as a half price gold box special. I had always wanted to try this, but at $200, I thought it a bit expensive. I live in a place with a short growing season, and really, I had visions of fresh tomatoes all winter with this. Now, after six weeks, I don't think it is quite that easy.

The set-up, though is easy. Everything worked the first time, and I looked forward to things starting to sprout. The kit comes with seven different herbs, and they started growing very easy. I also ordered some tomato seeds directly from the company, to give them a try, and they sprouted quickly too. But the instructions suggest that you can start harvesting within weeks, and last like I used the first bit of my basil. It was yummy, but really there was only enough for one person as a sprinkle on salad. Fortunately, I am only one person, and I know it will get big fast.

The tomatoes, however, will take quite a while before I have something usable. Just today, I saw the smallest flower buds on the plants. I can't say I believed that I would get anything from them any faster than this, but I was hoping.....

So the seeds all sprouted and are growing the same as if they were growing outside in a hot and sunny climate, while really it is not sunny here, and it is cold. But I can see that all I will get of anything is tastes. It be practical, I would need several of these.

More importantly, I can see that these plants will quickly outgrow the planter. They recommend frequent pruning, which for herbs and lettuce would give you stuff to eat. On the tomatoes it is just pruning. But there is a reason this was on such deep sale: the newer version of this device has a stem that will allow the lamp to be raised another six inches. I may see if I can get a replacement part to allow that.

Overall, I am glad I got this at the price I got it, but there are a few quirks. Lots of seed options and other accessories, though, on the manufacturors site. Probably better for lettuce and herbs than tomatoes.


MaxWave Bluetooth Headset with Microphone, Black
MaxWave Bluetooth Headset with Microphone, Black
Offered by Symaxio LLC
Price: $60.00
5 used & new from $32.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two faults, January 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really want to like these. They are comfortable, and I don't feel like I will lose them all the time (unlike some other Bluetooth headphones I have had). But, there are two major faults with the set I have. 1) There is a buzz in the left ear much of the time I use them. A fault with the speaker, I guess. and 2) I get frequent blips of silence. Bluetooth drop out, I guess. I never had this problem with the last set I had. So I am using them, but trying to figure out how to raise these issues with the company. Will update as time progresses.


InteVision Four Position Support Pillow (20.5" x 8" x 4.5") with High Quality, Removable Cover
InteVision Four Position Support Pillow (20.5" x 8" x 4.5") with High Quality, Removable Cover
Offered by TravelMate
Price: $15.95

2.0 out of 5 stars not great knee support, December 18, 2014
I purchased this to place under my knees while sleeping so that I wouldn't wake up any more with an aching back. I found that it was too soft to keep my knees raised high enough to make sleeping on my back comfortable. The memory foam on it just compresses too much. It does work as a knee separator when sleeping on my side, but the doesn't keep my back from hurting. FYI, I am 5'8" tall with short legs.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel
The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel
by Richard Flanagan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
123 used & new from $12.35

5.0 out of 5 stars extraordinary prize winner, October 26, 2014
I started reading this book after it was announced as a candidate for the Man Booker award, which it has since won. The book is extraordinary, and about a part of history that I, as an American, was not that familiar with: the building of a railroad by the Japanese using slave labor, including a significant number of Australian POWs.

But I almost set the book aside at the start, because the first few chapters seemed to jump around confusingly. The main character, Doringo, lay in the arms of a mistress, with a glimpse of his early life, and a brief mention of the war, and a mention of his being a national hero. For me, there were too many unconnected references, and where were the wartime atrocities that I had been told to expect?

After this brief confusion of time and place (which is wrapped up at the end), the book settles down, and we see Doringo as a young man who becomes a doctor, and enters the military to fight in WWII. He dates one woman, who would be an appropriate wife for him, and has a passionate affair with another.

Then, the slave camp, which shapes Doringo the man, much as it shaped the one-third of the Australian POWs who survived the camps. The gritty horror of the camp is pronounced. Doringo's role in the camp, as both senior officer and its doctor, is both unforgivable and forgiven.

Finally, after the war we see how the camps affected many of those who were there, both as slaves and as masters. For only a few is there resolution.

At points, this book is horrifying. Unsettling. Churning. But, worth the read.


Wicked Company
Wicked Company
by Ciji Ware
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.71
56 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars On the Edges of Society, August 1, 2014
This review is from: Wicked Company (Paperback)
Wicked Company, by Ciji Ware is about as much fun as I have ever had in the 18th century. The novel introduces us to a young Scot girl, Sopie, whose mother is dead, and who works with her father in a bookstore and print shop. The church is not very happy with the bookstore, because it sells books that the church doesn’t consider appropriate. There is also the matter of the etchings. Between the two, the father is arrested and sentenced to prison, where he dies.

Meanwhile, Sophie has met a young man, Hunter, who is a street performer. She introduces Hunter to the local theatre manager, and Hunter rapidly becomes an important actor, as well as dancer, singer, and ultimately manager of theatres.

After the death of her father, Sophie is spirited out of Edinburgh to London, where her aunt has another bookstore, and also dementia from syphilis. Sophie gets the bookstore in order, while also trying to take care of her aunt. Sophie gets printing contracts with a nearby theatre, and that becomes the center of her life. Even when Hunter reappears and becomes a romantic interest.

Over twenty years or so, there are episodes involving Bedlam (an asylum), ocean voyages, journeys throughout southern England, many theatre performances, theft, blackmail, a marriage and some murders, births, and deaths, and more. Much more. Sophie discovers that she has a talent for writing drama, and though it is a struggle to do so, she successfully earns a living doing it.

This is probably a book that is better enjoyed by women, because there is a romantic interest that simmers throughout. But this is not a simpering romance. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical novels, particularly those with an interest in the theatre and the struggles of early female dramatists.


The Undertow
The Undertow
by Jo Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.50
80 used & new from $0.51

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One century of a family, August 1, 2014
This review is from: The Undertow (Paperback)
I grabbed this book off my library’s “Blind Book Date” shelf, and its cover promised “four generations = one tumultuous center. Secrets. Loves and losses. Dreams. Heartbreaks.”

Set in Great Britain through most of the 20th century, it provided all that was promised, and even a fifth generation, though as the father of the “first” generation, we didn’t see much of him.

As I write this, I am hard-pressed to recall many specifics of the characters. Let’s see, the first and second generations both went to war. One did not come home. The third generation was born with a disability. The fourth generation was female, but all had names derivative of William. These generations were born, lived, had relationships and children (the last generation is pending), and died (ditto on that). The book was a good read, but read more like a series of overlapping novellas with interrelated characters. It was interesting to see how the challenges of one generation affected the next.

I am glad I read this book, but I cannot give it the top rating. But if you like fiction of this period (1910s through 2000s), and set in Great Britain, you should enjoy this book.


The Provider
The Provider
by Evelyn Marshall
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.95
46 used & new from $0.39

1.0 out of 5 stars Russian Immigrants make good, August 1, 2014
This review is from: The Provider (Paperback)
I grabbed this book when I saw it had been read by my library's Senior Book Club. I kind of wish I hadn’t. Once started, I wanted to put it down, because the writing was pedantic, but I also wanted to find out if everything worked out in the end. In short, it did, though not quite as hoped for.

Very briefly Rosa emigrated to the US from Bessarabia, near Ukraine, in 1922. She went to Chicago, where distant relatives (who sponsored her emigration) put her up and found her a job. Within a week she met Sanya and fell in love. There is a period of dating. Her family objects to this match, because Sanya has never held a regular job and would not be a good provider. Finding a husband who is a good provider is critical. They marry anyway, go to California, and years pass. Two children are born.

Eventually Sanya dies and Rosa is alone. She moves into a nursing home. There was enough provided to allow that.

There. I have just saved you 300+ pages.


Dancing in the Moonlight: A Cowboys of Cold Creek romance (The Cowboys of Cold Creek Book 2)
Dancing in the Moonlight: A Cowboys of Cold Creek romance (The Cowboys of Cold Creek Book 2)
Price: $1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Rocky mountain romance, July 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you are into romance, or you just need a break from heavy reading, this book is for you. After all, how many silly little books are set with a view of the Tetons, especially from the back side. (I live near there, so this is hometown reading fo me.)

The male romantic interest, Dr. Dalton, is a sole practitioner in a small town about 45 minutes from Idaho Falls, where he seems to spend a fair amount of time delivering babies and checking up on patients. He is the son of a major cattle rancher in this small town of about 2000. He has a heart of gold, which apparently was stolen at a young age by the female romantic interest, Maggie, who is a vet newly released from the hospital where she has been recovering from a leg amputation due to injuries in Afghanistan. She is driving home to escape her life after being rejected by her fiancé due to her injuries. She has a huge chip on her shoulder because of this and because of her injury in general. Besides that, she is in constant pain because she has been overdoing it on her new leg. She can’t be all bad, though, because she drives a Subaru.

In addition, Maggie has a very deep antipathy toward Dalton and all of his family, because she believes that the patriarch of the family cheated her father out of vast sums of money, and that this lead to her father’s death. The elder Dalton is also long gone.

So these two meet up on a dark, empty road on the way to their homes. Dalton is driving home to catch a few hours before returning to Idaho Falls to check on a patient. Maggie is returning home in defeat. She doesn’t know she is a hero in her hometown. Her car has broken down. Dalton, a good neighbor, stops to help, and gives Maggie that help over her objections. Somehow this type of unwanted help continues over and over, while Dalton falls deeper in love, and while Maggie begins to realize that she may have feelings: Feelings she know she can’t act on because no man would want a woman with a stump instead of a leg, and because she hates everything Dalton.

The end to this story is predictable. We don’t read these books because of the end, but rather, because of the journey. This one is pretty nice.


Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Cooling Vest for Dogs, Ice Blue, X-Small
Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Cooling Vest for Dogs, Ice Blue, X-Small

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool Comfort for my Shih Tzu, July 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have a black Shih Tzu. He is handicapped in the heat by his small snout, and I have had to carry him home more than once. Because he is black, when the sun is out, he can overheat even faster. Which is a shame since he really likes to walk. This coat lets him stay out much longer than he usually would. The coat is both reflective and, when soaked in water, it is evaporation. This helps keep him cooler on those hot summer afternoons.

Sizing for a Shih Tzu, which has a larger head than other dogs of its size, is a little problematic. Getting his head through the opening is a bit tight. The other body measurements are true to size. But other than that, it is perfect.


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