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Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones - Charcoal
Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones - Charcoal

4.0 out of 5 stars Looks/Feels like the Bose SIE2. Still good!, August 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This review is going to sound very similar to the one I posted for the Bose SIE2 Sport Headphones - Green. Why? Because these Bose SoundSport headphones are pretty much the same exact set of headphones. I was provided a pre-release set of these SoundSport headphones, and I selected them hoping they would include a mic and controls like the other SoundSport sets. The information I had available didn't specify if they did or not. Well, they didn't. And what I have instead is a mirror copy of the SIE2 set, with only a few minor changes.

First, let's get it out of the way. I still love the Bose SIE2 headphones. They are my go-to set. The sound they produce is pleasure to my ears. All ranges sound crisp and clean. Did the SoundSport set exceed the SIE2 set in sound quality? Let's find out, along with some other notes.

Package: The SoundSport was nicely packaged. The sleeve shares plenty of details, and the inside container houses the goods nicely without being too much of a pain to get stuff out. There is even foam inserts to protect the headphones. Compared to the SIE2 packaging, this is a huge improvement. You had to cut plastic to get into the SIE2 - and cutting when wires are tucked away inside is risky. The box contains the headphones, 3 sets of ear tips, a shirt clip, a carrying case with carabiner, and the usual papers. The SoundSport set comes with a cord about 45 inches, while the SIE2 came with a 31 inch cord and a 21 inch extension cord. There is no extension cord included with the SoundSport set. I would have preferred a similar configuration as the SIE2 set - shorter wire with extension. It's nice to be able to have the shorter option without wrapping cables.The SIE2 set also came with an armband. I will say that I appreciate the carrying case that comes with the SoundSport set more than the SIE2's armband. All in all, still a nice set.

Comfort: This is a carbon-copy of the SIE2 review as the ear pieces and ear tips are the exact same. The product comes with a few ear tip sizes(small, medium, and large), so you can find the best fit. They are all in the StayHear design. You'll want to choose the best fitting tips to get the best sound. I will say that the tip design is by far my favorite configuration. It fits in the ear snug, but remains comfortable. And you don't have to shove the tip in your ear to get it to stay put. It uses the countour of your ear to hold it in place. The medium was a perfect fit for me. I can enjoy them for long workouts.

Sound: I use these with an iPhone 6 Plus and can compare them to a few lower end earbud headphone sets, the old and new style Apple ear buds, a circumaural pair, a set of Etymotic HF3 in-ears, and the Bose SIE2 set. Yet again, these are a mirror copy of the SIE2 set, and I found no discernible difference in sound quality. Is that good or bad? Well, on one hand I'd expect improvements over the years. On the other hand, these are still the best sounding headphones I own - a perfect match with the SIE2 set. The sound these produce is an excellent blend of all ranges. Vocals soar, and bass is plenty. High volume or low, they handle it. And a nice addition is that the design of the ear tips limits external noise.

Construction: Other than the longer cord, again this SoundSport set matches the SIE2 set in construction. The Y split of the cord is a little larger on the SoundSport, but seems to be made in a similar manner. The plug connector is thin and straight, which helps avoid issues working around device cases. Just like the Bose SIE2 set, the cable is very thin. I was worried about this with the SIE2 set, but I've had them for a few years, and I've had no issues with cracking or breaking. All in all, great build quality.

Convenience: There is no mic or remote with this set. I admit I was a little disappointed when I saw that there was no mic or controls. As mentioned above, I have a pre-release copy and there wasn't mention of whether it would have these features or not. There are SoundSport sets on the market with a mic and controls, so I was hoping. I assume this will be the replacement for the SIE2, while those other SoundSport sets replace the SIE2i, which did include the mic and controls. Also, as I mentioned, I liked the extension cord arrangement with the SIE2 set, and this SoundSport set doesn't include one. That's surprising since some of the other SoundSport sets include one. And, while the SoundSport doesn't come with an armband, I'll admit that the carrying case is nice.

Price: The price of this set is unknown at the time of this review since I'm reviewing a pre-release set. If it is close to what the SIE2 set sold for on release, then I'll say the same thing I said then - for the price, they should include the mic and remote feature; instead of creating an additional model with those features and charging a premium. But, overall, these headphones are worth the price of admission, and I think you'll find them a great addition to your workout, travel, chilling arsenal. I do wish they had found ways to improve upon the set compared to the SIE2, although I guess it's hard to improve on something that is already so great.

This is really a 4.5 star review, but unfortunately, half stars don't exist on Amazon. The primary reason it is lacking that last nudge are the lack of mic+remote, and the fact that the set mirrors a set that is almost 3 years old.

Black & Decker SC1007D Slow Cooker, 7 Quart, Geometric Cream
Black & Decker SC1007D Slow Cooker, 7 Quart, Geometric Cream
Price: $39.07
12 used & new from $28.24

3.0 out of 5 stars OUCH! That's Hot!, July 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A good basic crockpot is a must in a busy, family kitchen; or rather that's always been my motto. I love being able to assemble a casserole, or a roast while the kids are in school, so that when they get home I can focus on them.

Unfortunately this particular model seems to run VERY hot. I will say that I love the gray insert and the pattern certainly looks prettier sitting on my counter than my go to (black insert with black casing), but even on low this heats up very fast-to the point where touching it can actually burn your hand. Nevermind what it does to the food.

I've been cooking with a crockpot for almost 20 years, and I know not filling up a larger pot can burn the food very quickly, so before using this I made sure that I was going to cook enough to properly fill it. I did, and the food still turned mushy with some burnt pieces around the bottom edges.

I'd say if you have a home with no curious kids, and you were there to watch the food (or at least peek at it every couple of hours) this is a fine basic model, But I think I'll stick with what I've been using.

Viva Sol Premium Hook and Ring Game
Viva Sol Premium Hook and Ring Game
Price: $19.99
3 used & new from $19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Hit or miss, July 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This set is wonderfully crafted, but the game itself is hit or miss - no pun intended, well, maybe it was! All of the parts are good quality and good looking. Setting up the game unit is very simple. Screw the backboard into the wall at a convenient height. You can also use the included double-sided tape if you prefer. Then hang the string from the included eye hook about 6 feet away from the board and make sure the string is barely tight when the ring is looped onto the hook. Now you start swinging the ring toward the hook, hoping to catch it on the hook.

It's very challenging. Especially for our little ones. Of course, there was excitement when someone hooked it, but that was very rare. The instructions even pitched a game of H.O.R.S.E., but the successful hooks were so rare, that such a game would take days to finish. I'm sure with continued practice, one could get better, but it's tough. So tough that most of our competitors gave up quickly.

With most games, we like to set it up quickly, and put it away when not in use. That's not so simple with this set. In our case, we had to screw it into the wall. And then get a stool to screw the strings eye hook into the ceiling. I'd propose finding some velcro with adhesive backing to speed up the process - just use it to attach the backboard to the wall, and attach the string to the ceiling.

The game is very simplistic, and someone could easily make a game set with parts from your local hardware store - for much cheaper I might add. But our crew doesn't have enough interest in the game for it to be a lasting addition to our wall. That's not to say other families may find such a challenging game exciting. But cost being a factor, it's hard to justify the cost of this set when such parts are found at very low prices at local stores.

The Forgotten (Krewe of Hunters)
The Forgotten (Krewe of Hunters)
by Heather Graham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.42
29 used & new from $2.43

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun!, July 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm back on the groove! There are now so many books in the Krewe of Hunter series that it can be hard to keep track of who's who/who is with who. Author, Heather Graham, seems to release three at a time, so reading the three together/in order seems to get things back on track for me. One thing I love about the Krewe Series is that Heather brings back couples from previous installments. Who doesn't enjoy seeing characters we got invested in back with a new adventure in store for them.

In this book we are reacquainted with Laura Mayhew, one of the heroines from the previous book ( The Silenced). She moved away from Washingtong DC to get away from the press that surrounded her after her kidnapping. Relocated to Florida she has found a job at Sea Life working press for the aquatic facility.

FBI agent Brett Cody is following a case he became obsessed with. Migual Gomez came to him wanting to do the right thing. For years he had been forced to work for a crime family, but he had enough. When Miguel is presumed dead, and his beloved wife murdered Brett knows he can't stop until he finds the answers.

The story is an intriguing one, bringing in Voodoo lore and modern horror elements. I will say it does leap quickly from speculation to 'this is what we have on our hands,' but since this isn't a nonfiction book about Voodoo I can forgive that and go along for the ride. Matt and Meg (the couple from The Silenced) come back to help Meg's friend Laura get to the bottom of what's going on, and the quick pace works as Graham does something very simple-she acknowledges and even lets readers believe that a little something more is going on with the couples quick love for one another-maybe a soul mate kind of thing. The fact that she allows for this, and even meets it head on lets me buy into the quickened timeline and pace.

A rollicking good summer read! Can't wait for the next one!

As Night Falls: A Novel
As Night Falls: A Novel
by Jenny Milchman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.36
70 used & new from $8.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Author's Fault, July 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't blame the author for my issues with this particular book, rather I blame the publicist or the editor, or whomever chose to give away what could have been a very interesting twist for the book.

Sandy Tremont lives with her husband, daughter and the family pet on an isolated plot of land. Her husband built a dream home for them, and Sandy is still getting used to it. One cold October evening, two men burst into the house. Their clothing tells us and Sandy that they are prisoners, and one of them is Sandy's brother-why is he there? What does he want?

One, the setting could have been so much more had it been during say a blizzard or a violent thunderstorm. They are already isolated, why not take it as far as you can?

And two, Nick being Sandy's brother shouldn't have been given away from the get go. Author, Jenny Milchman, is a proficient writer, but the fact that so much was given away from the get go had me two steps ahead the whole time instead of trying to absorb into the story. If Nick is there, I figure he wants something from Sandy-be it revenge from some past slight or he feels she owes him something. And I was right. That little tidbit should have been kept under wraps, as a lot could have been done with it.

When Sandy's daughter, Ivy escapes, I was not treated to the harrowing chase the synopsis mentioned, rather I was given a, "WHAT in the world moment?" when yet another player shows up.

All in all, this was such an intriguing premise, and yet it was the little things that kept it from being a real winner for me.

Don't Lose Her (The Max Freeman Mysteries)
Don't Lose Her (The Max Freeman Mysteries)
by Jonathon King
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.49
16 used & new from $4.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Where is the connection?, July 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't know if it's because I'm not familiar with the author's writing, but I had a tough time with this book.

I started reading with no expectations, so i can't say the book didn't live up to mine, but I almost felt as if I was reading a primer.

Diane is a judge.
Diane is pregnant.
Diane goes to lunch.
Then she gets kidnapped.

The fact that Diane is presiding over the case of a notorious Columbian drug lord, is eight months pregnant and a US district judge, makes for a very interesting premise-or so I thought it would be. I just never felt a connection with any of the characters-and for a book like this to work for me, I need to. Diane didnt' install any sympathy or empathy from me, and as such I had a hard time rooting for her-despite that fact that she is a pregnant woman in a harrowing situation.

Max Freeman the former cop and now PI that works for Diane's husband, Billy, is supposed to be a tough as nails character, and while I bought his actions, I never got invested in them.

I'm not sure I'll read any more of King's books, and I can't really recommend this one either.

A Star for Mrs. Blake
A Star for Mrs. Blake
by April Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.54
94 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Loss and Heartbreak, July 17, 2015
This review is from: A Star for Mrs. Blake (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book tells a haunting and beautiful story-there's no denying that. But for whatever reason I had a tough time getting into it. I will say I think that had more to do with WHEN I sat down to read this, then the actual book itself. We are in the middle of a home renovation, and it's exhausting. This book deals with a heavy subject, and I had a tough time giving it the attention it deserved.

Cora Blake comes from a small fishing town. Many of the men are gone, and each day the women struggle in the bitter cold to get to the factory-just to make a dollar or two for food. Cora is dealing with the loss of her beloved son-Sammy-while caring for her three young nieces. When word comes that she has been chosen to make a pilgrimage to the Meuse-Argonne Cemetary in France to see her son's final resting place, Cora thinks she will finally get the closure she deserves.

Along the way she meets other mothers and wives-each with their own story to tell, each with their own loss and heartbreak. It's a moving story of a little known chapter of a bitter war.

Author, April Smith, did a wonderful job creating the atmosphere and sharing the women's loss with us. Please don't do what I did and read this when you want something light and frivolous-this book deserves time and attention.

Kelty Catalyst 46 Liter Backpack - Women's
Kelty Catalyst 46 Liter Backpack - Women's
Price: $159.95
6 used & new from $159.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Where do you put the kitchen sink?, July 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using a L.L. Bean medium Bigelow Day Pack which has a capacity of about 2200 cubic inches for a few years now. It's my "carry everything" bag when we go hiking, camping, to the amusement park, etc. It has a rigid panel to contour the bag to your back and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It has plenty of storage, straps, a waterproof cover, and is even compatible with hydration packs. If something didn't fit, it got strapped or clamped on. I love the bag, and it has withstood lots of abuse and still looks new.

With that said, I ventured into new territory by checking out this Kelty pack. I've never tried the brand, but knew it gets high acclaim. Diving in, I knew this bag would be bigger. It is almost 700 cubic inches larger - 2930 cubic inches. What's great is it weighs almost exactly the same at about 4 pounds. So let's see how it fares...

The Kelty pack looks fantastic. It's a nice bright color which looks clean despite having so many straps and pockets. Like the L.L. Bean pack, this pack has a multitude of pockets, pouches, and straps to utilize. It has a hood that serves as storage too. The lower hip straps offer large pockets, and the side mesh pockets are incredibly large and can hold very large water bottles or other items. It's amazing how much you can store in this bag. Yet it doesn't come off as big. It can handle a full suite of camping gear and room leftover for your favorite snacks for the trail.

Getting the right fit takes a little practice. The frame offers a contour that works well, but only once you get the pack seated well against your back. Once you find the right fit, it's comfortable no matter what you have stuffed in the bag. And the padding is nice and thick to keep the pack and frame from poking along the trail. I will say that one nice thing with the L.L. Bean pack is that you can remove the hard panel and use it as a more flexible backpack. When you remove the frame from the Kelty, it becomes a little floppy and doesn't have the full back padding that gives it a little structure without the framing. Not a big deal, but it's always nice to have a more flexible, but usable bag in some situations.

Overall, this bag is great. When I compare it to the L.L. Bean I've cherished for so long, I do have to say I appreciate some characteristics of each. The L.L. Bean comes across as better quality in materials/zippers/padding, all zippers have flaps or covers to help with water protection, many of the pockets are easily accessible even with the bag on, it's fully capable without the rigid panel, and it comes with a rain cover. The Kelty on the other hand offers more space at the same weight, has an aluminum frame instead of a hard plastic shell, has a hood flap for great water protection and extra storage, is very comfortable when fitted properly, has waist band storage that is easy to get to and can house phones and other accessories, seems to be more water resistant as is (although I wouldn't call it waterproof, nor does it comes with a rain cover), and it just looks great.

The Kelty Catalyst 46 is all about storage and comfort. It hits the checkboxes for both. I do which it had a few more segmented pockets inside the large compartment, so you can organize things in the bag. I also wish the side zipper (one that actually leads to the interior of the bag) had a cover or zipped closed at the bottom, as sometimes it doesn't close all the way and can cause moisture to enter the main compartment of the pack. I've just made it a point to ensure that zipper closes completely. I also wish it came with a rain cover, as there is no reason at the cost of this pack that it doesn't come with one. I believe they tried to make this Catalyst more water resistant, but the covers are always a nice assurance.

I do believe I'll find this to be the more useful pack for hiking and camping, but can't see myself using it for the other outings due to its size. But I know this Kelty will be a welcome addition to the trail. I sure look forward to seeing how it fares. Fortunately, even if something goes wrong, Kelty has a great warranty!

The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer
The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer
by Ashley V. Routson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.27
52 used & new from $12.19

5.0 out of 5 stars And My Education Continues!, July 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me start out by saying that most of what I learned about beer, I got from my husband. And I won't lie, he's well versed in most things beer. He loves his beer and he researches what he loves. So while I don't consider myself the connoisseur he is, I have gotten to the point where I can appreciate a good beer. I know what I like and what I don't like, but I'm willing to try new things.

I grabbed this book for one reason-to educate myself. My husband is an avid homebrewer, and I love helping him brew and bottle the beer he makes-the process fascinates me, but my favorite reason I LOVE the way hops smell. I love the way beer smells. If there is a beer perfume I would buy it by the gallon and bath in it. With all that said, I dove into this book eagerly.

One thing author, Ashley Routson, does it speak for the layman, but she never speaks down to those of us that are still learning. Reading about pale lagers, dark lagers, IPA's, Stouts, and lambics I felt like I was talking to a knowledgeable friend, as opposed to being instructed.

But what I really love are the recipes! Cooking with beer and beer cocktails. My absolute favorite drink at the moment is a well made shandy (sparkling lemonade and some wheat beer-that's it!), but beer cocktails go well beyond that, and now I have them at my disposal. Maybe I'll try the Black and Tan next (Pale Beer and Dark Beer poured a very specific way) or maybe I'll make some mulled beer when the cold sets in.

There are some wonderful food recipes here as well-though I will say they sound wonderful! I cook with beer a lot, and have desperately been searching for a good Beer Cheese Soup recipe-found it here! It's creamy and rich, without an overpowering beer taste to it. I'd buy this book for the recipes alone-Texas Style Beer Chili, marinated Sirloin, Chocolate Stout Baked mac and Cheese-just to name a few. (I will update this review, when I've made more of the recipes in this book)

The Blackout Stout chocolate cupcakes were easy to make and delicious! A real man's cupcake-ok, and a woman's because I gobbled these up! And who doesn't love a good homemade cupcake?

I originally tolerated going to breweries because I know how much my husband enjoys it. He goes shopping at the mall without complaint for me, why can't I do this for him? But as I've become more educated on the finer points of different types of beer, and the brewing process I find myself enjoying these outings more and more.

This book will become my guidebook as I learn to navigate my way through the complexities of beer, and dare I say it will be fun doing so!

Kiss Me (Fool's Gold)
Kiss Me (Fool's Gold)
by Susan Mallery
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.19
72 used & new from $1.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Summer Read, July 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's summer, and summer means one thing to me-Romance! I love reading a nice, juicy romance novel with a glass of iced tea. I'll sit on my porch, while my kids run around the yard. Susan Mallery's "Fool's Gold" series is perfect for my favorite summer past time.

Phoebe Kitzke has a kind heart. She's do anything to help a friend, in fact she'll do anything to help a stranger-and it's given her a broken heart more than once. When she takes the fall for her boss' mistake, Phoebe's friend, Maya, suggests that Phoebe join her on a cattle drive.

Zane Nicholson is your movie cowboy-tall, sexy and (he thinks anyways) immune to love. But Phoebe's kind heart and quick wit are enough to thaw this cowboy's heart-or will they?

This is your typical romance novel-boy meets girl, attraction ensues, but for some reason they want to fight their growing feelings for one another. The journey to happily ever after is why I read these books, and Mallery gives us plenty to work with. To be honest, I'm glad there wasn't the typical blow up-boy or girl does something that could be misconstrued, they break up, but then realize they really love one another. Instead, though the book unfolds over the course of a week, the attraction Zane and Phoebe feel for one another rang true for me. I wish we'd of had more time with them, but hopefully we'll see them in future installments of the Fool's Gold Series!

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