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Laura Probst's Profile

Customer Reviews: 238
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,100
Helpful Votes: 1676


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Reviews Written by
Laura Probst "dragon wench" RSS Feed (Conover, NC USA)
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Vornado 723DC Energy Smart Air Circulator with Variable Speed Control
Vornado 723DC Energy Smart Air Circulator with Variable Speed Control
Price: $159.99
4 used & new from $159.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best fan for the money. Period., May 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was born in Florida, spent most of my formative years there; while I've lived in northern states, I'm now back in the south. Which means I've been exposed to just about every type of fan available on the market: box, ceiling, pedestal, window, oscillating table, personal, tower, even handheld paper. About the only one I haven't tried is the new Dyson open-frame and that's simply because I can't afford it. All the houses we've had possessed central air, but fans help circulate the air, keeping it cooler and the electricity bills lower. Plus, when we have the house open (which is as often as possible), fans help bring in the cooler night air and blow out the warmer daytime air. I currently live in a basement apartment and while I have a couple of ceiling fans, there's limited air circulation, so I've been on the lookout for a good fan for a while now; the oscillating table fan I've been using, while attractive, is also noisy as hell and inefficient. So I don't use it. This Vornado, though, without a doubt, is the most awesome fan I've ever had or could hope to have. It has a footprint no larger than a good-sized pedestal fan and from a single spot in the room creates waves of air, both direct and indirect, with seemingly very little effort from the fan itself. I think what I love most is there are no fixed "Low", "Medium", or "High" speed settings. Instead, a dial allows the fan to run from low to high with many variable settings in between, giving greater control to the user. At its lowest setting, the fan is whisper-quiet; at the highest, the fan, while not exactly silent, is still reasonably quiet, certainly a great deal less noisy than many air circulating fans on the market. Not to mention, at its highest setting, the Vornado's output with definitely blow your skirt over your face and send your hair flying straight back. The fan body turns on the central post of the curved metal tube which is the stand; once you swivel the fan body into position, there's no knob to turn or clamp to tighten to keep it in place. It just stays there. According to the company, the fan can swivel 110 degrees, which basically means you can point it in just about any direction needed in order to provide the best airflow for the situation.

When I unboxed the fan and placed the rubber stabilizers on the metal tube, the entire time I was thinking, "Now this is a quality fan!" It was weighty without being difficult to carry or move, and while it's currently standing on a carpeted floor, with that weight and the rubber feet, not to mention its vibration-less performance, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't perform just as well while sitting on my tiled floors. (By the way, while there's no actual handle, the deep, front-facing lip of the fan body is easy to grab and hang onto, working just as well as a purpose-built handle would.) I can easily see the Vornado lasting for several years, and with the 10-year warranty I'm assured that if something did go wrong, the company will stand behind its product. I also like that the fan body can be disassembled and the grill and blade removed for cleaning, which is... nice! Honestly, about the only way this model could be improved upon is if the dial were made digital and a remote was included. Maybe they have a model like that. But this model, with everything I've seen of it so far, is most definitely worth the price. I have a ceiling fan over my bed, but I've come to prefer having the Vornado on at night, circulating indirect air around the room and over me as it makes for a more comfortable night's sleep. Plus, the slight hum of the Vornado is like having a white noise machine running as I sleep, which is just a bonus.


Wellness Complete Health Hairball Control Chicken & Rice Natural Dry Cat Food, 11.5-Pound Bag
Wellness Complete Health Hairball Control Chicken & Rice Natural Dry Cat Food, 11.5-Pound Bag
Price: $37.99
7 used & new from $37.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thanks, but I'll stick with Blue Buffalo., May 1, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ever since I brought Ramses home from the shelter, I've fed him Blue Buffalo Adult Cat Indoor Formula Dry Cat Food, 15 lb Bag. I started him off on the kitten formula, then moved on to the adult formula, but always stayed with Blue Buffalo. Ramses has never been a hearty eater (except when I go out of town and he's taken care of by a relative; then he makes a liar out of me by gobbling his food) but he grazes steadily throughout the day. However, his appetite seemed to diminish lately, so I switched to the salmon flavor, but that didn't seem to help. I've always been curious about the Wellness brand; the times I've looked at a bag, the ingredients seem to be on par, quality-wise, as Blue Buffalo. So I figured I'd give it a try. (Thankfully, Ramses isn't finicky about his food: when he had a health scare a while back, concerning his UT and crystals in his bladder, he didn't shy away from the special food he was required to eat in order to clear up the issue.)

Initially, Ramses gobbled down the Wellness Complete (I followed the instructions on the bag, mixing the Wellness Complete into the Blue Buffalo to switch it over in stages) and I was encouraged by his eagerness. However, after the novelty factor wore off, Ramses went back to his normal eating routine and seemed to treat the Wellness Complete with the same disdain as he'd treated the salmon-flavored Blue Buffalo; about a week later, he was eating even less than he was before. After about a couple of weeks it got to the point where I had to start mixing the Blue Buffalo back into his bowl again; only then did his appetite perk up. Unfortunately, Ramses wasn't on the pure Wellness food long enough for me to see any benefit in his health; true, he only threw up once while he was on it, but I can't be certain that's indicative of the food as I've been using a new grooming tool on his fur which has drastically reduced his hairballs (not that he's had that many in the first place; those times he does throw up, it's usually from eating too fast and trapping air in his belly) to a bare minimum.

In the end, I can't say I necessarily recommend the Wellness brand cat food, but I can also admit it wasn't given a fair trial. Perhaps if Ramses had started out on the brand at an earlier age, perhaps if he'd completely lost his appetite for Blue Buffalo, he would've had a better chance of acclimating to the food and liking it. As it is, I'll stick with Blue Buffalo and go back to the chicken flavor when the salmon flavor is gone. I'll also never monkey around with Ramses's food again on the off chance he "might like a change of pace." Silly human.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2016 11:37 AM PDT


Aroma Housewares MI 3-Cup (Cooked) (1.5-Cup UNCOOKED) Cool Touch Mini Rice Cooker
Aroma Housewares MI 3-Cup (Cooked) (1.5-Cup UNCOOKED) Cool Touch Mini Rice Cooker
Price: $24.99
2 used & new from $24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An adequate little rice cooker to serve one or two people. For cooking rice and maybe pasta, but nothing more., April 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never had a rice cooker before as I never really saw the need for one. But I liked that this one was smaller and cooked one- and two-person serving sizes. As a singleton, I've come to hate cooking as, unless I have a specific recipe, I either have to scale down a recipe from its regular 4 or more serving size or end up cooking a lot of food and end up with a ton of leftovers. Neither of which I particularly enjoy.

For its first run, I used a half cup of Thai Jasmine rice (high quality rice from Nuts(dot)com which meant I didn't need to rinse it beforehand as the miAROMA instructions suggested) and half a cup of water. After the cook cycle clicked off (in a very short amount of time, it seemed like), I didn't notice any puddles of water around the steam vent or underneath the cooker. I used the included plastic paddle to stir the rice and pour it into my bowl. The rice was still firm but fully cooked, soft but not mushy, and there was no excess liquid left over in the cooking container. Basically, it turned out delicious.

I next tried an omelette, the other recipe included in the instruction booklet. It was a simple cheese omelette, so I tweaked the cooking times a bit because of that. I mixed the eggs, cut up some cheese into tiny dice, dumped it all in the cooking pot, and ran the 'Cook' cycle. And was disappointed when, after the cycle clicked off after about five minutes, I removed the top to see the eggs had stuck to the surface of the pot, and the cheese, instead of melting, had stayed put and browned. I used a spatula to scrape the pot as best I could and added a bit of Brummel & Brown for the next step of cooking. After stirring and replacing the top as directed, instead of putting the eggs on the 'Cook' cycle, I used the 'Warm' cycle instead as the eggs as this point were mostly cooked and I didn't want to overcook them. Despite this, in the end what I got was not an omelette, but scrambled eggs. Rubbery scrambled eggs with browned cheese bits. As you might be able to guess, I had to throw them out as inedible.

I have no idea how this rice cooker will handle pasta or some of the more complicated recipes the company claims it can make such as pancakes. Especially since, after trying to access some of those recipes on the company's website, instead of bringing them up, the site would simply circle me back to the main recipe page. Maybe the Aroma site just doesn't like Google Chrome. It still really pissed me off trying to deal with such a site. I'd say, for simple items requiring nothing more than water, such as pasta or rice, this is a nice little cooker. I'd also say, don't believe the claims that this cooker can cook amazing meals; as my mom used to tell me, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Maybe the digital version can handle more complicated dishes, but not this model.


Energizer Vision HD 3AAA Performance Metal Light
Energizer Vision HD 3AAA Performance Metal Light
Price: $14.99
6 used & new from $14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, April 21, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You'd think a flashlight would be pretty straightforward, but there's actually more to this one than it would appear. It may be small, it may be compact, but whoa Nelly! This is the flashlight you want in a bind!

When I inserted the batteries and first turned the flashlight on, I had it in my lap (the lens facing away from me--I'm not that stupid). The light reflecting off my clothing was bright enough to make me wince; when I held the flashlight up and actually "used" it, the bulbs were bright enough to light up the entire room. I can go into my darkened library (where the overhead light doesn't work), angle the flashlight up so the lens is pointing at the ceiling, and it's as if I've turned on a lamp--bright enough for me to pick out every single title on my shelves. And that's just the top setting--there are two! The second setting (found by clicking the soft silicon button at the base of the flashlight: click it once to turn it on, the highest setting, again for the lower, and again to turn the flashlight off) is definitely dimmer, but just as useful. Plus, with a handy wrist strap, this sleek metal flashlight can be taken anywhere, stuck in a purse, in the glovebox of a car, and be ready for any potential accident, mishap, or general darkness-related need you might encounter. Frankly, I love this thing more than my Mag-Lite and that's saying something.


It Takes One (An Audrey Harte novel)
It Takes One (An Audrey Harte novel)
by Kate Kessler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.36
51 used & new from $8.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "No, she wouldn't kill for someone she loved. Not again.", April 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Audrey Harte is a murderer. When she was just thirteen, she and her best friend, Maggie, killed Maggie's abusive father. But while Audrey used her punishment as a way to make herself better, Maggie never did. Now a respected criminal psychologist who uses her unique experience to get into the minds of troubled kids, Audrey returns home to her small Maine hometown after seven years absence... and finds that nothing has changed. Except for the fact, her first night back, Maggie is killed and Audrey becomes suspect number one. Now she must use all her training, not to mention her inside knowledge of how the town of Edgeport, Maine works, to solve Maggie's murder and clear her name, before it's too late.

This is the most raw, realistic, and intimate depiction of fake people I've ever read. Each character was so real, so three-dimensional; nobody was perfect, there were no black-and-white, good-and-evil characters. Each person was damaged in some way, affecting how they did their job, interacted with others, or their personality, making them more like actual human beings than fictional characters. And that includes the setting for the novel: Edgeport, Maine could be an actual small northern (or, for that matter, with just a few changes, southern) small town, complete with busybody neighbors, small-town intrigue, and a faster-than-light gossip mill. The author mentions in the Q&A at the back of the book that she grew up in a town like Edgeport, meaning she was able to perfectly capture all the charms and all the quirks that come along with living in a place so small and insular.

Even more than the character development, the psychological underpinnings to the novel add an extra dimension of truth and realism; Kessler has obviously done her research regarding the issues driving the heart of the novel. Which means none of the actions coming out of these issues feels false or like a cop-out, like it was simply created in order to create tension or drama. Instead, the story flows naturally, understandably, with logical, if sometimes heartbreaking consequences. I suppose I should state that the book comes with a trigger warning for anyone who's suffered childhood trauma or abuse: The story is dark, violent, and gritty, even frightening at times. But so utterly engrossing and enthralling you can't help but be drawn in and keep turning the pages.

Basically, this is the best first novel and best suspense series lead-in I've read in years, and I truly can't wait for the second book to come out!


18k Gold Plated Sterling Silver Oval Baby Swiss Blue Topaz Lever Back Dangle Earrings
18k Gold Plated Sterling Silver Oval Baby Swiss Blue Topaz Lever Back Dangle Earrings
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and lovely, if not quite color-matched, earrings., March 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These earrings are of a simple design and therefore beautiful in their simplicity. They're also lightweight, so they don't drag at the earlobe. The lever backs have a nice snap to them, meaning the tension is fairly high, making the closure secure, yet it doesn't take more than a light touch to flip the lever to the closed position. The robin's egg blue stones are 3mm x 5mm ovals, meaning the overall design of the earrings is small, but not as minuscule as perhaps implied in other reviews. I'm 6'1" and not a particularly tiny woman, yet I have no problem with the earrings either with putting them on or with how they look on me. Basically, these are a nice, inexpensive pair of everyday earrings that, with the right outfit, could also be dressed up for nighttime wear.

My one complaint concerns the stones. With the pair of earrings I received, the stones are slightly mismatched, with one being a couple of shades darker than the other. The earrings have to be together and you have to look closely to notice, but as someone who works with minerals and gemstones regularly, it's a mismatch I quickly picked up on. Nothing major, certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is noteworthy. (I've attached some photos. I apologize for the lack of clarity, but these were the best I could do. The color difference simply refuses to show up clearly in any photo I take.)
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Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver 3D Flower Ring, Size 7
Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver 3D Flower Ring, Size 7
Price: $18.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A rose which will last a lifetime., March 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Once again, the Amazon Collection has curated a gorgeous piece of jewelry. This time it's a pretty little ring featuring a 3-D rose; the ring I received has rhodium plating over sterling silver, but the ring also comes in rose gold and gold plating over sterling. The rose is asymmetrical, making it look more realistic, and it has a low profile so it won't catch on everything when the ring is worn. (I have found that when I stick my hand in my pockets, the rose will catch slightly on the edges of the fabric, but not in any way that will gouge the finger or rip the fabric. It helps that there seems to be a right-way-up to wear the ring, with the large center outer petal at the top of the finger instead of the bottom, as you'll see in the picture I attach. [So the rose almost looks like a star on the finger.] But that's simply my experience.)

As with all the Amazon Collection jewelry, the ring came presented in a lovely black gift box with bright blue accents. This ring would make a perfect Valentine's Day gift: it's a rose which will last longer than any long-stemmed ones bought in a flower shop and is more thoughtful than a box of chocolates.
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Rhodium and Rose Gold Plated Sterling Silver "Dancing" Cubic Zirconia 5mm Pendant Necklace, 18"
Rhodium and Rose Gold Plated Sterling Silver "Dancing" Cubic Zirconia 5mm Pendant Necklace, 18"
Price: $28.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous!, March 25, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love this necklace! I love how the pendant just disappears on the delicate silver chain. I love how the pendant rests below the dip at the base of my throat. I love how the rhodium and rose gold plating combine to make a perfect little nest for the dancing CZ, which truly dances as you move so the stone throws off sparks and flashes of light everywhere. Basically, this is the most gorgeous necklace I've ever owned and has the appearance of a piece of jewelry five times more expensive than it truly is. This necklace is the perfect piece to wear to work as it's not flashy or ostentatious, yet that same subdued design will work beautifully for an evening out to a five-star restaurant and box seats at the theater.
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Perfect Coat Professional Deshedder for Pets PC-86599
Perfect Coat Professional Deshedder for Pets PC-86599
Price: $19.99
4 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great tool, except for the non-replaceable blade., March 19, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am owned by a long-haired black cat named Ramses, who sheds like a fiend. He also dislikes being brushed by any kind of proper deshedding tool or brush. (He does, however, love it when I run MY boar bristle hairbrush over him. The fink.) So it's been a struggle trying to keep up with his seasonal shedding issues. With this deshedder tool, though, I think I've finally come close to finding the perfect tool. Close, but not quite.

The tool is nicely weighted, with a non-slip grip and ergonomic handle, making it easy to use over a long period without gaining any hand fatigue. And the blade is small-toothed, meaning it doesn't tug or pull at the fur, or gouge the skin, which is wonderful as that's part of the problem I had with past deshedder tools. That said, the blade is the one problem with this tool, in that it's non-replaceable. So once the teeth get dull, you can either sharpen them by hand (if that's possible) or throw the entire assembly away, which is such a waste.

However while the blade is sharp, I'll be using the heck out this thing! Because the first time I ran it over Ramses, I got enough fur to make another cat... and that was only after using it on him for two minutes! The next time I was able to wrangle him under the tool, it was for about ten minutes and I filled an entire wastebasket with fur. Ramses stalked away looking and feeling so much softer, silkier, and his dandruff was better under control. So that's a big win in my book.


Sing Down the Stars (The Celestine Series)
Sing Down the Stars (The Celestine Series)
by L.J. Hatton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.49
49 used & new from $1.32

4.0 out of 5 stars "I was born under an impossible sky.", March 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
3.5 stars

I've seen some people label this book "derivative" and I'm not sure how they're coming to this, unless they haven't read the book and are simply copying the reviews of others. Are there certain plot-points that are similar to other YA novels, especially in the broad-in-scope dystopia genre? Well, yes, of course. Show me any book, in any genre, that doesn't share similar plot-points to another book in the same genre: it's bound to happen. That said, while there are similarities to other YA and YA-dystopian novels - a protagonist who's motherless and/or fatherless, a protagonist who's discovering brand-new powers, a protagonist fighting against an oppressive government and/or pseudo-military organization, and a protagonist dealing with *sigh* a love triangle (I think that's a law for writing a YA novel of any genre) - the storyline itself is quite different to anything else I've ever read. This is definitely not a book that's easy to pin down, genre-wise, and it's definitely not a dull or boring book. It's not full steampunk, but has steampunk elements. It's a surprising mix of action-adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, dystopia, which should be overwhelming, but Hatton manages to make it all work.

Um, sort of work.

While many of the concepts and characters were unique and quite creative, some of the descriptions and/or the history behind them weren't fully fleshed out, as if even Hatton didn't know what she was trying to say or how she wanted to say it. It was hard to visualize some of what was written because it wasn't fully visualized on the page. I understand the whole "leave it to the reader's imagination!" impulse, which is fine for some things. But when you're describing technical or fantastical or alien creations, please, be more specific. Yet, conversely, a great deal of the book seemed to crawl for me, the action either delayed or interrupted because -and this will sound as if I'm being deliberately contrary - the prose was overwritten. There were many parts of the book where scenes could've been removed or compressed in order to make the action go faster and the story tighter.

However, most of the issues I had with the book could all be traced back to the main character, Penelope, aka "Penn," the fifth daughter of Magnus Roma. According to the rules of this world, after the alien Medusae came and sent out the rains which altered some of Earth's children, no family dared to have five daughters. For the first daughter carried the power of fire. The second daughter, water; the third daughter manipulated earth and the fourth, if a family carried on that far, did the near impossible and controlled the very air. But a fifth daughter was unheard of, for the fifth daughter was known as a Celestine, able to call down the stars themselves. No-one had five daughters in the same family. Except Magnus Roma, and he named the fifth one Penelope. So to hide Penelope and her sisters from the Commission, the agency developed to seek out those girls changed by the Medusae, Magnus created The Show, a traveling circus, hiding the girls' talents in plain sight, and "Penn," the boy who Penelope must pretend to be. Penelope hates Penn. And, frankly, at times so did I. (Although Penelope wasn't much better.) Both Penelope and her alter-ego are creatures of impulse, of pure instinct like a wild animal. Instead of listening, of learning, of adapting so that she wouldn't have to rely on instinct, Penn always ran away. Which makes the fact that she manages to survive the entire length of the book shocking, considering how many times she's leapt into a new, unknown situation and trusted that a parachute or safety net would appear. And that makes it problematic for the reader, because every time we're introduced into a situation or to a character which might answer a few of our questions - Why is Penn so important? Who is Magnus Roma? Why does Warden Nye behave the way he does toward Penn? - Penn never stays around to let the characters explain, to let us find out what the heck is going on. Instead, she takes her magical, mechanical, space-and-time leaping coat (like a TARDIS in a leather coat, which is pretty cool, actually) and runs away. Again. And again. And again. It's only when she's sidelined by an injury that she actually stays put and even then it's a close thing - she still tries to run away, making her injury worse, naturally. I wanted to reach into the pages and throttle the little twit. Repeatedly.

As to the required love triangle of the book, while there are two boys working for Penn's attention, the romance itself isn't fully developed. I think there was a kiss or two, but for the most part the "romance" kind of limps along in a very forgettable, unnoticeable way until it suddenly it rears its head, as though the author remembered, “Hey, I'm supposed to have them kissing here, right?”

That said, out of all this mess, I'd be interested in reading the second book (especially since there wasn't a real finality to the end of this one; the threads of the story were loosely gathered together, but not tied up, giving an obvious lead-in to a sequel, which is kind of annoying but certainly tantalizing). And I do love the originality and creativity Hatton has shown in some of her characters (Birch, one corner of the Penn love triangle [which is never actually a triangle, unless the boys in it start falling for each other, but I digress] who can also manipulate plants), her bio-mechanical creations (the golems Xerxes and Bijou are awesome, I wish I could have one of each for myself), and the lifestyle of the world in reaction to the Medusae's appearance (which has regressed to a sort of Neo-Victorian design in both technology and clothing). Sing Down the Stars is flawed, for sure, but it's also entertaining, with enough promise and potential to be worth a read.


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