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Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy)
Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy)
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! The Seeds of America trilogy has it's last installment!, June 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Seeds of America Trilogy finally has it's last installment. It has been a long time coming and, as someone who used Chains and Forge in education, it is about time!

The trilogy is unique in it's view on the Revolutionary War from the perspective of African slaves who played a significant role in the conflict. I would not recommend reading Ashes without having read Chains and Forge first. While you can still get a lot out of reading only Ashes, the first two books definitely give a fuller experience to the events in the last book.

Chains introduced us to Isabel, a young slave girl in revolutionary times, who - along with her sister - are denied a promised freedom on the death of their owner and are sold to a wealthy loyalist family in New York. Thrust into the center of a momentous time in history, Isabel becomes our eyes and ears on the Revolution - a battle for rights and freedom - as it would have seemed to an enslaved person.

In Forge Andersen switched her focus to Isabel's friend, Curzon, who is one of the many men at Valley Forge. Again, we get to see the hope and the hypocrisy of a revolution that wanted freedom but only for a select few.

Finally, years after the publication of Forge, we return to Isabel and Curzon and Ruth as the war unfolds around them. Isabel is a cynical witness to this battle for freedom when her own freedom is in constant peril. Curzon, on the other hand, is full of dreams and hopes and the brashness of youth. Curzon is torn between his desire to fight for the patriots (who guarantee him no freedom as a black man) and for the British (who may be his chance at a free life in England).And then we have Ruth - Isabel's intellectually disabled younger sister and the one person Isabel feels she is completely responsible for. In Ashes, Ruth has grown and has come to resent some of the care her older sister pushes on her.

As in the previous two books, the three main characters continue to grow and develop into maturity. The constant threat of being sold into slavery hangs over Isabel and Ruth as they witness, and participate in, the siege of Yorktown and the violence of the war. Andersen exposes some shameful incidents in the treatment of slaves during the war - the treatment of self liberated people by the British and their subsequent recapture by the Continental Army and return to slavery. The fact that the slaves belonging to Washington and Jefferson fled to the British side and that many were subsequently returned to their owners is a shameful but little known fact. The ideas of liberty that our founding fathers held so highly did not apply evenly to all and the series forces the reader to take a good hard look at the hypocrisy of our claims that we fought for freedom for all.

Andersen in a wonderful author. I highly recommend her books Fever and Speak as well.

Black Pakka Wood 6 pc Steak Knife Set w/ Rubberwood Box
Black Pakka Wood 6 pc Steak Knife Set w/ Rubberwood Box
Price: $104.93
15 used & new from $99.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced and beautifully built but....., June 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Nothing ruins the experience of a good steak than a poor quality steak knife. I love Wusthof for my kitchen knives and figured I would save some money and go with a set of Henckels for steak knives. Going with a cheaper set was a huge mistake and after struggling with a pathetic set from Henckels I really learned the difference a good set of steak knives can make. J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL 8-pc Steak Knife Set Never again.

Initial Impressions : I was thrilled to get a set of the Viking knives for review from Amazon and promptly gave away my Henckels. Viking is well known for their kitchen appliances (I own a Viking oven and love it) and, while I had not heard of their line of kitchen utensils, I had a lot of confidence in their name. The description on their website stated German surgical grade steel so I was eager to see how great these knives could be. Suffice it to say, at first use, they were perfection! These are the kind of well balanced, perfectly sharpened knives you use at a high end steak house. The blade slides through the steak easily without tearing or snagging on fibers. The serrated tip - which may make it a bit harder to sharpen in the future - is very useful when working around a T-bone. The full tang, riveted handle is made of wood so, while water resistant, I would not recommend putting them in a dishwasher. The box is an elegant way to store the knives or to serve as a gift. (I have heard that it is not traditionally acceptable to give knives as gifts but as a younger financially struggling foodie I would have been very happy if someone had handed me a box of these as a gift!)

BUT : All of that being said, you do need to dry these carefully before putting them away. I was surprised to find a spot of rust right next to the bolster of one of the knives after a few uses and being put away damp. It rubbed off with some scrubbing but I have never had an issue with my 12 year old Wusthofs developing rust spots. Water spots, yes, but never rust! It seems to me that this would indicate a lower grade steel? I've included a picture that hopefully shows the rust spot.

The Viking website said 'German surgical-grade stainless steel' and the box said 'designed in the US, Manufactured in China'. So, it seemed to me that the knives were made in China. I have never had luck with quality stainless from China. Even a pot claiming to be 18/10 stainless rusted after one use! So, I called Viking to find this out and discovered that Viking has outsourced it's culinary production to Clipper Corporation. So I called Clipper, spoke to a nice young man named Robert, and was told that the knives are made in China. When asked about why the box says German Steel, I was told that the steel is from Germany and the final product is made in China. So, according to Clipper, the steel is German made. I cannot fathom why they would not put that on the box - E.G Blade made in Germany, assembled in China??

All in all, these are beautifully built, well balanced knives but, personally, I question whether the quality of the steel truly is the German grade I have come to expect from that term. My biggest peeve with this product is that there is serious lack of clarity regarding where the components actually manufactured. Five stars for design and performance but that spot of rust and the questionable explanation on the box of where the are made have me knocking off two stars so, sadly, a three star set.
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Anatomy of a Soldier: A novel
Anatomy of a Soldier: A novel
by Harry Parker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.11
90 used & new from $0.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A story in pieces, June 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Harry Parker has created something unusual and wonderful in this book based on his time as a soldier in Afghanistan. The book was born out of cathartic writing and is a collection of short narrations by the different items that keep a soldier alive and well on duty, during a catastrophe and during recuperation. Through inanimate objects we get to know our young protagonist, the doctors who care for him and the events that lead to the tragedy at the center of the book. Parker writes beautifully for a first time author and almost every chapter is a perfect little story. You can feel the dust and heat of Afghanistan, the sheer panic of the people struggling to keep a wounded soldier alive and yet we only hear about these things in calm words from the objects in use - the tourniquet, the stretcher, the duffel bag, the saw, the prosthetic.

Parker writes a harrowing novel of trauma and recovery while managing, somehow, to keep it just a little impersonal. The soldier at the center is, in the end, also simply an object. He is one among many numbers - BA5799 - and is addressed often as such. All the pieces that keep BA5799 alive and moving also help him, in the end, to pull the pieces of himself together again.

There are a few books about war that truly capture the hideous atrocity of what soldiers go through without platitudes about heroism and patriotism. Anatomy of a Soldier manages to do so without passing judgement on the why and wherefore of the war in Afghanistan. Our soldier may only be a number but, as the book progresses and the reader pieces together what happened, we begin to care for him as fervently as any author could hope a reader would care for a character.

The book does need a patient reader. The pieces of the story are blown apart, so to speak, and do appear in disjointed fashion and out of order. Some chapters are brilliant and some do seem to be slow but, on the whole, the narrative technique works and I highly recommend this book.

Kirby: Planet Robobot - Nintendo 3DS Standard Edition
Kirby: Planet Robobot - Nintendo 3DS Standard Edition
Price: $39.99
59 used & new from $32.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Kirby fans and people new to the series!, June 11, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This game kept my 11yo busy for hours! He did manage to clear it in 5 hours while the game before this (Kirby Triple Deluxe) took weeks to clear.

Here's his verdict : The games graphics are much better than Triple Deluxe and the game play is very similar but the Robobot armor replaces the Hypernova ability. The Robobot armor enhances Kirby's copy abilities but has less ability options. Each ability also has fewer moves than normal copy abilities but each move is much stronger. The game is totally worth getting for the game play, plot, subgames, a multiplayer mode and the ability to play through the game as Meta Knight once you clear the game. Clearing the game also gives you a Boss Endurance mode allowing you to battle all the Boss battles in the game in order. My son felt that the music was amazing but he did feel that some of the copy abilities were better than others. For example, he felt that Doctor Kirby was less useful since most of his attacks require you to charge him up which is not often possible in Boss battles. Poison Kirby, on the other hand, is very useful and is pretty much a Water Kirby redesigned. ESP Kirby is really cool as well since it can very quickly deal massive amounts of damage in a Boss battle.

We pre ordered this game months in advance and it shipped on time. UPS did only arrive at 5:30 on the day of the release so there was some impatience and anxiety waiting for the box to show up. However, it was nice having a guaranteed copy and not having to visit stores looking for it.

Southern Living
Southern Living
Price: $19.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for those living in the Modern South, June 5, 2016
This review is from: Southern Living (Magazine)
Talk about a cliquish magazine. My first issue had a huge spread on the best sorority houses in the south. That should have been my first clue that I should call and tell them to stop sending me any more issues! However, I'd paid for a year so I figured it would get better. It does not. It is a very 'White Centric' magazine and the emphasis on make up and shoes and looking young are enough to make one gag. The idea that a Southern Lady always has her face on, wears lovely shoes and dresses is seriously out of touch with reality. Superficiality to the extreme. I am not saying that this is any different than other magazines out there but the lack of inclusivity in this one is disturbing every time I get a new issue. The recipes are really good. The gardening information is barely passable (funniest thing being the grumpy gardener). Channukah gets a recipe for Latkes and the other religions (which there are plenty of in the South) don't even get a passing nod. Except for the spectacle of Cinco de Mayo which is treated like a visit to the zoo. The undertone of 'the south is still White' is annoying and I will not be renewing my subscription.

Black+Decker HSVJ415JMBF71 SMARTECH Cordless 16V Max Lithium 2-N-1 Stick Vacuum 1.5Ah
Black+Decker HSVJ415JMBF71 SMARTECH Cordless 16V Max Lithium 2-N-1 Stick Vacuum 1.5Ah
Price: $169.99
4 used & new from $169.78

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good design but still flawed, June 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Black and Decker has got so many things right with this vacuum that it is definitely a good buy if it meets your needs. However it is still far from perfect.

Pros :
- The ability to easily remove the roller brush for easy cleaning. This is a huge improvement on pretty much all Vacuums that I have used. I love being able to just pop off the brush, clean it and pop it back in.
- The auto adjust feature so that the machine changes the suction based on bare floor or pile carpet.
- The button that allows you to quickly turn the roller brush on or off. Great if you get tangled up in carpet fringes or charging cables.
- The design for cleaning out the filter and dust bin. It is a three part assembly that keeps everything neatly inside when you remove the dust container and you can empty it over a trash can with minimal mess.
- Suction is excellent when fully charged - both on low pile carpet as well as on tile and hardwood.

- Battery life. This was a huge issue for me. The majority of our home is a creamy, high gloss tile flooring and the vacuum just does not last longer than 15 minutes - barely enough to clean two rooms and a long hallway before needing a recharge. I do have the brush going to pick up anything in the grout lines and to grab dog hair but that still seems a very short time for a battery to last. I don't expect it to last for hours on a single charge but a good 30 minutes would have been useful. If you intend to use this in a kitchen to pick up stray crumbs after meals, it may be exactly what you need but for a large amount of bare floor the battery does not seem to last long enough.
- Dust container - while designed well for cleaning and removal, I did have issues with the container not locking into place. It fell out during use a couple of times.
- The button to release the hand held vac was very tight on my machine. I had to squeeze it with both hands to get it to pop out. The spouse had no issues with it so it may only be an issue if you have weaker hands or arthritis.
- You will need to buy filters with this vacuum. There is an indicator on the front which tells you when to clean the filter and if it comes on repeatedly it may be time to change filters. Having a filter does reduce dust released when you are emptying the container though.

The bottom line is that this cordless stick vac is better than a few others that I have tried in the past but it is still far from perfect.

Watercolor Set 48 Colors paint pens with Water Color Brush and Metal Tin Case, Superior Non-toxic,for Adults or Kids Artist Art Sketching Drawing Painting Picture and Watercolor Book
Watercolor Set 48 Colors paint pens with Water Color Brush and Metal Tin Case, Superior Non-toxic,for Adults or Kids Artist Art Sketching Drawing Painting Picture and Watercolor Book
Offered by iVenus Color
Price: $68.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Art on the go., May 28, 2016
This is a wonderful way to watercolor on the go without a mess. The watercolor pencils cover a wonderful range of colors and the water brush is really quite ingenious. It is easy to clean off the brush tip with a paper towel and the water flows in just the right amount. The pencils sharpen well without breakage to the tip and the colors blend very well. The colors are vivid and it is easy to blend the colors by shading two over the same area and water brushing.

Right now the price range is around twenty dollars and, at the price, they are an excellent buy. I was sent this set at no charge in exchange for a honest review.

OROSE 19mm Luxury 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase with Cotton Underside, good for hair, sleep and facial beauty, prevent wrinkle and allergy, with hidden zipper, gift wrap (Queen, Ivory)
OROSE 19mm Luxury 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase with Cotton Underside, good for hair, sleep and facial beauty, prevent wrinkle and allergy, with hidden zipper, gift wrap (Queen, Ivory)
Offered by OROSE
Price: $22.00
3 used & new from $15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, May 28, 2016
I was sent this pillowcase in exchange for an honest review and I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality and attention to detail in the structure and design of this pillow. The silk is much thicker than I expected it to be and it does an excellent job with not warming up in the hot weather. I am not that concerned with the wrinkle-prevention stories about silk pillowcases but I do appreciate the fact that silk does not feel cold in cool weather or heat up in warm. I've been using this pillow for a week with no issues. The stitching is very well done. Highly recommended.

OROSE Luxury 100 pure White Duck Down Pillow 100% cotton shell 60s,1pc , Queen
OROSE Luxury 100 pure White Duck Down Pillow 100% cotton shell 60s,1pc , Queen
Offered by OROSE
Price: $56.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A firm pillow that is well made., May 28, 2016
We have owned a number of Goose Down pillows and they have all been too soft for me and been passed on to other members in the household. I even bought one from Hilton thinking it would be close to a pillow I used in one of their hotels. No such luck. All of them have been squishy with the down shifting and I end up needing to fold them in half to get any kind of support.

The Orose Duck Down Pillow is absolutely perfect for me in that it is a fairly firm pillow which doesn't have the down shifting away from your head. It is packed fairly tightly so that you still get a bit of support to the neck and head. I have not seen any stray feathers and there is no scent at all to the pillow. I've been using this pillow for a week now with the Orose coordinating pillow case (silk on one side, cotton on the other) and have been getting the best sleep I have had in years! The stitching on the pillow and case are excellent with no stray threads or crooked seams. It is an item that has obviously been made with great attention to detail.

I was sent this pillow at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

PL360 All-in-One Gel Shampoo & Conditioner, Fresh Pomegranate, 16oz
PL360 All-in-One Gel Shampoo & Conditioner, Fresh Pomegranate, 16oz
Price: $8.44
6 used & new from $8.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful results, great ingredient list and made in the USA!, May 25, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I live with three dogs of varying sizes but all have thick fur with a heavy undercoat. Shampooing and grooming my pets is something I do myself as a way to keep an eye on any health issues that may be developing and also as a time when they get to hang out with me one on one. A bad dog shampoo can do more harm than good with dogs and I have learned to steer clear of most supermarket shampoos with their plethora of chemicals and minimal attention of what they can do to a dog's health.

PL360 (odd name aside) is one of the best shampoos I have tried on my dogs. My previous favorite was Lola and Max but it can leave an oily residue if not rinsed well. This shampoo, on the other hand, foams up well, cleans well and rinses off easily. There is a light but pleasing scent to it and it left the fur soft and silky without weighing it down. The shampoo is ph balanced, can be used with flea and tick treatments and contains no alcohol, parabens or phthalates. The shampoo is biodegradable and is made in the US.

I really cannot think of one thing to complain about with it. It is an excellent dog shampoo and I very highly recommend it.

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