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M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge" RSS Feed (Torrance, CA USA)
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Peeled Snacks Coco Nosh Trail Mix, 6 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Peeled Snacks Coco Nosh Trail Mix, 6 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Price: $62.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Ingredients Taste Fresh and Well Balanced, December 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My bag of Coco Nosh arrived today. The ingredients were fresh; there was no evidence of stale or rancid ingredients, a common problem with trail mix. The flavors were well balanced and not too sweet. The predominant ingredient is shaved coconut. There are banana chunks and dark chocolate chips. Because a 6 ounce bags contains 840 calories (6 servings of 140 calories with 10 grams of sugar per serving), I don't recommend eating these straight unless you don't have to worry about calories. For me, the best way to portion these judiciously is to mix them with my plain Greek yogurt or oatmeal. As a garnish on the aforementioned foods, I can give the Coco Nosh a high recommendation.


My Sunshine Away
My Sunshine Away
by M.O. Walsh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

5.0 out of 5 stars The Need to Feel Whole Again After Something So Awful Happens, December 14, 2014
This review is from: My Sunshine Away (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
M.O. Walsh has written a very heart-felt, old-fashioned Southern novel in the best sense. He creates the languid pacing, and sweet-tea flavors of New Orleans from the point of view of a high school boy, the narrator, living in a single-parent home in the suburbs from the late 1980s to early 1990s. The novel is full of cultural references from the headlines and the type of music teens listened to in that period.

Much of the novel feels like a memoir with very compelling exposition that captures the spirit of New Orleans. In one of my favorite passages about how the sweltering heat has given birth to the love of great food and lots of eating, the narrator writes, “When everything else is burning, sweating, beaten down by a torturous sun, only your tongue can be fooled. So you tease it with flavors like promises, small escapes from a blatantly burdensome land.”

Out of this setting we are confronted with a hideous crime that ruptures the narrator’s sense of innocence and the myth of the simple life his existence in the suburbs has engendered. Much of this novel is about the boy’s quest to feel whole again and to find the truth about this unspeakable crime.

The crime is very personal to the narrator because the victim, Lindy Simpson, is the object of his obsessive love. The narrator’s love for this girl is both convincing and palpable.

Walsh successfully conflates the sense of place, loss of innocence and a whodunit crime story into a masterful novel. Highly recommended.


The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye J. Walton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.86
77 used & new from $6.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Characters Populate This World of Magical Realism, December 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this fast-paced novel the author is very strong at characterization with a full genealogy of characters. She starts at Ava’s great grandparents moving from France to New York (the slums of Manhattan) and the family experiences tragic loss. You don’t find out about the main character until 100 pages or so.

While the title is centered on Ava, the real title should be focused on Ava’s mother Vivian. Ava’s brother is a sort of autistic future seer and Ava has wings in this novel of magical realism.

The lead-up to Ava is the most compelling part of the novel. However, the plot with Ava, narrated by her, lacks character development because her narration doesn’t really expose much about her.

There are winged creatures, seers, ghosts, and other elements of magical realism. What makes this work is the author’s talent at creating a vivid, concrete, believable world. I’d give this four stars, but Ava, the assumed central character, could have been more compelling, or at least as compelling as her mother and grandmother.


The Last Illusion: A Novel
The Last Illusion: A Novel
by Porochista Khakpour
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.65
46 used & new from $5.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Crazed Fable About an Abandoned Albino Reveals Original Satire, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Imagine a retelling of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “An Old Man with Enormous Wings” set in New York during Y2K. But in this case the tale, inspired from the Persian beloved epic Book of Kings is about a different type of oddball: An albino is abandoned by his mother and put in a cage for 10 years where he becomes an outsider who travels to New York to find his way in all matters of love, culture, and socialization. Using this audacious plot point for her real agenda, satire, Porochista Khakpour has written an ambitious, original, rule-breaking novel. If you can hold your attention to this kind of brilliant satire in a 320-page fable, then this should be for you. Readers of Jonathan Lethem should find themselves in friendly territory with this crazed, Bosch-like parable.


Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe
Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe
by George Friedman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Resentments Don't Die Easily, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
George Friedman has a compelling story to tell that informs his astute analysis of the flashpoints or hotspots in Europe, volatile places vulnerable to violence and war. During World War II in Hungary, his father was forced to do the bidding of the German war machine, which meant looking for landmines toward the Russian Front. By a combination of miracle and his father’s keen wits, his father survived and used his connections to save some, but tragically not all, of Friedman’s family members from death at the hands of the Nazis. Surviving that, his father, now hated by Communist Russia, for being forced to help the Germans, fled Hungary, got his family safely to New York but then was forced to be a spy for the Americans for several years during the Cold War.

Friedman juxtaposes his family history with the flashpoints in Europe: The Balkans, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Turkey are particularly dangerous.

What makes Europe such a “tragic figure” is that for hundreds of years it was the place of high expectations for humanity in the arts, music, the intellect, democracy, but these aspirations historically collide with avarice, suspicion, and tribalism in a continent that has provincialism and geographical forces that make countries remain isolated.

Exposing the “cancer cells of resentment” that are always roiling beneath the surface of a continent full of the haves and have nots, Friedman has written a compelling narrative and analysis of the smoldering cauldron that remains Europe. This is a book that should not be ignored. Highly recommended.


Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Silver Metallic
Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Silver Metallic
Price: $19.88
16 used & new from $18.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read, Consistent, and Simple to Use, December 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Out of the box, you'll find two AAA batteries taped to the bottom of the scale. You'll slide the plastic compartment, install the batteries, and you're ready to go. There is no on button. The scale is activated simply by pressure or I should say your weight.

The digital readout is large and has good contrast for visibility.

Repeated weight tests showed consistent numbers to a tenth of a pound, which is superior to my analog scale. For consistent, easy-to-read numerals at this price point, I can give this a strong recommendation.


AVEX Kid's Auto Seal Freeride Water Bottle, Charcoal, 16-Ounce
AVEX Kid's Auto Seal Freeride Water Bottle, Charcoal, 16-Ounce
Price: $13.99
3 used & new from $12.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Use for My 4-Year-Old Twins, December 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Avex water bottle is a good choice for my twin 4-year-olds. Aside from its flashy glow-in-the dark spiderweb design, the bottle is BPA free, leak-proof, spill-proof, has a clip-on handle and unlike any other bottles I've tried, it has a large red push button in the back. I was concerned that my girls weren't strong enough to push the button, my happily I underestimated their strength and they had no problem though I noticed one of my daughters used both hands to press the button. I noticed the water didn't have that horrid plastic taste that is common with these type of synthetic composites. The build quality is good. All in the all, the design and execution allow me to give this the highest recommendation.


There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories
There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories
by Charles Baxter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Inventive, Original Voices in Short Fiction, December 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had the privilege of being introduced to the writing of Charles Baxter about six months ago when I reviewed The Best American Essays 2014 and came across his essay, “What Happens in Hell,” a narrative that gripped from beginning to end unlike any essay I’ve ever read, so it was with great anticipation that I read his most recent story collection There’s Something I Want You to Do. The collection does not disappoint and in fact lives up to the compelling voice and thematic obsessions contained in “What Happens in Hell.”

In that essay, Baxter contemplates the thorny matter of sin and virtue and he revisits this messy, complicated notion in a collection that is divided into two parts. Part One addresses the virtues, and the interrelated stories with a recurring cast of characters are titled accordingly: “Bravery,” “Loyalty,” Chastity,” “Charity,” and “Forbearance.” Part Two points to our sins: “Lust,” “Sloth,” “Avarice,” “Gluttony,” and “Vanity.”

Proselytizing is not the agenda here, though. Great story telling is and so are the deeply human, complex portraits of the human condition.

In one story, a woman is persuaded by her co-worker that she should leave her husband and then the co-worker marries the abandoned husband and becomes the surrogate mother to his son. The story becomes even more complicated when the first wife returns, a bewildered transient, to live with the couple.

In another favorite story, a man prevents a woman from jumping off a ledge, they start a romance, and the woman, a comedian, includes the crazy story about how she met her boyfriend in her monologue and includes a bombshell that I won’t mention here in the interest of saving you the surprise twist of this amazing story.

The characters in these stories reappear in subsequent stories and their lives take on greater complexities and contradictions as Baxter lacquers them with more and more depth, giving this collection the effect of a novel. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2014 10:46 AM PST


Chemical Guys HOL_117 Leather Lovers Sample Kit
Chemical Guys HOL_117 Leather Lovers Sample Kit
Price: $20.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three out of Four Bottles Work for Me, December 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This set comes with 4 bottles, a clear spray cleaner, a sprayable leather to be used with microfiber cloth, a thick leather conditioner to be applied with a sponge, and an odor eliminator.

The odor eliminator is a product I won’t use again. The smell is neither pleasant or unpleasant but seems like a waste of time as it doubtfully will hide any bad odors.

The clear leather cleaner spray is easy to use, it goes on clear, it does not leave a residue, and is good prep for the sprayable leather or thicker conditioner.

The sprayable leather goes on easily, does not leave residue and is effective for quick conditioning with use of a microfiber cloth.

The thicker conditioner, which takes longer to apply and dry, is for severe cases of dry, scuffed leather. To avoid this messy conditioner, I plan to use the clear leather spray and sprayable leather on a consistent basis to avoid using thick crème and dealing with the ensuing mess.

Apart from the odor eliminator, which seems like a misguided idea, I can recommend the kit for leather shoe maintenance.


Morning Pep Real Birch Xylitol sweetner (Not From Corn) NON GMO - KOSHER - GLUTEN FREE - PRODUCT OF USA. 1 LB
Morning Pep Real Birch Xylitol sweetner (Not From Corn) NON GMO - KOSHER - GLUTEN FREE - PRODUCT OF USA. 1 LB
Offered by HERBFUL HEALTH
Price: $14.95
2 used & new from $12.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enamel Aid and Tarter Control in a Sweetener, December 2, 2014
Xylitol got on my radar screen a year ago when my twins’ dentist recommended Xylitol lollipops to reduce tarter and aid in their teeth enamel. I decided to try an alternative to the slightly funny tasting Stevia that I use to sweeten my very strong coffee in the morning. At 32 ounces, the coffee needs something to break the bitterness.

I thought I’d try Morning Pep because it’s kosher, non-GMO, and non-corn based. With zero grams of sugar and 9.6 calories per teaspoon, I find I need to use 3 teaspoons to sweeten my 32 ounces of dark coffee. That’s approx. 30 calories, which isn’t bad. It’s a fact that it has 33% fewer calories than sucrose.

The taste is better than Stevia. There is no aftertaste. It doesn’t have any adverse effects on my stomach.

While safe for humans, dogs metabolize Xylitol in a way that it is lethal for them, so please do not use this for your pets.

For human use, highly recommended.


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