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Skip Hop Zoo Lunch Kit, Bee
Skip Hop Zoo Lunch Kit, Bee
Price: $9.00
3 used & new from $9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars adorable for toddlers, September 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was expecting something a little bit bigger, but despite the tiny size this lunch kit is adorable for toddlers. Perfect size for small small crackers, dried fruits , string cheese, and the kinds of snacks moms tend to pack on the run. I love the locking mechanism and the plastic seems very durable as well.

I have not tested it to see if liquids leak, but I did put some washed sliced grapes, berries and a few chunks of watermelon and it did not leak when tipped. Little ones will have fun packing their own snacks with moms help. Cute item for $9.00 price.

We Are Called to Rise: A Novel
We Are Called to Rise: A Novel
by Laura McBride
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.81
85 used & new from $6.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bittersweet, and left me with an overall feeling of hope, September 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We Are Called to Rise is an compelling debut novel that while sad, leaves the reader with hope and promise -- for humanity and about people doing the right thing.

The story is told in alternating voices by individuals although unrelated, who will see their lives gradually converge. Avis, one of the voices in this story, is a middle-aged woman who is trying to spice up her in the rut marriage, when her husband announces he is love with another woman. She also worries about her adult son who is a troubled man after serving time three tours of duty in Iraq. Luis is a key character, an Iraq vet who has been hardened and traumatized by spending time in front lines of war. Bashkim, another key character, is an eight-year-old boy who lives with Albanian refugee family in Las Vegas. Lastly, Roberta is a lawyer and child/welfare advocate who, although she plays a smaller part in this story, has heartbreaking job dealing with abused children and the homeless.

When Bashkim, a third grader is given a writing assignment, he is given a penpal in the military. He is assigned Luis who is now at Walter Reed Army Hospital. His letter is sent off and when he receives a response from penpal Luis, no one is prepared for the shocking response he gets. It is this letter that sends the story in motion, and with each new chapter the tension builds and culminating in an explosive event.

Most of the characters in this story were ones that I cared about, Avis had a horrible childhood and then is dumped by her husband Jim for a younger woman. Bashkim, really drew at my heartstrings, in some ways he seemed more mature than his age, but in other ways he seemed very naive. His situation at home with his family was difficult. The vets and even lesser characters like teachers each played an important role in making this story as good as it was. Although we learn some terrible things as we we read, and I prefer to remain as oblivious as possible to the nitty gritty details of war, this story in many ways is bittersweet, and left me with an overall feeling of hope. A terrific debut novel.

4.5/5 stars

The Virtues of Oxygen
The Virtues of Oxygen
by Susan Schoenberger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
35 used & new from $8.11

4.0 out of 5 stars unforgettable characters, September 14, 2014
This review is from: The Virtues of Oxygen (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Virtues of Oxygen is a book that I was initially drawn to because of the title and, I also because I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about someone who had contracted polio as a child. In this story Vivian Markham, now 63, contracted polio when she was just 6 years old. As a result she has spent nearly her entire life living in a iron lung so that she could simply breathe. His older sister Darlene, age 10, also had polio but died while still young.

Having lived on a farm when the Vivian was young, the parents provided the constant care required, but as they got older they moved from the farm town to a small town, where the church and residents rallied their support providing companionship and care. One of the women who helps Vivian is Holly, a young woman who hasn’t had an easy life either. She recently lost her husband, has two sons, and her mother has now suffered a stroke and needs constant care. Holly’s job as a newspaper editor for the small town paper doesn’t cover her expenses and the excessive medical bills she has been left with. She is trying her best to make ends meet. My heart went out to Holly and her struggles. Holly’s is a story that will resonate with readers whose lives were turned upside down by job loss, loss of a spouse or home foreclosure.

Vivian, on the other hand, was a very strong character who lived life to the fullest despite her disability. Great with investments, computers, and business savvy in general, she was a woman who maintained friendships despite her situation. I was inspired by the way Vivian had made the most of her life. Her story and how the community rallied to help seemed very realistic of small town life. I especially liked learning of Vivian’s early years when she was stricken with polio. She’s a woman to be admired.

The Virtues of Oxygen is a story of friendship, it’s never overly sad or sappy and the author does a great job of portraying the economic struggles of a town and its people. If you’re looking for something a bit different, this one is based on a true story, try The Virtues of Oxygen.

Safety 1st Clean and Comfy Feeding Booster
Safety 1st Clean and Comfy Feeding Booster
Price: $34.99
7 used & new from $26.18

4.0 out of 5 stars great alternative to the highchair, September 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Out of the box, this booster seat was easy to assemble, and easy to used. It's a great alternative to the highchair or as an addition chair if you have 2 little ones. The high back is great and offers good support and the tray and chair are easy to clean. Try is dishwasher safe. The tray was a little tough to remove the first time I tried but now that I have the knack of it - no problem!

Nice item

Road Ends: A Novel
Road Ends: A Novel
by Mary Lawson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
60 used & new from $8.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story - talented author, September 11, 2014
This review is from: Road Ends: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Road Ends begins in the mid-1960s, and tells the story of the dysfunctional Cartwright family, Edward, Emily, and their eight children who live in the fictional town of Straun, somewhere around Ontario. Straun a remote town where severe winters are commonplace.

Daughter Megan, the only girl and second oldest child of the family now 21, has decided that she needs to venture out on her own and start living her life and is planning on moving to London. From a very early age she has acted as the head of household, taking on the duties that her mother,. Her mother wraps herself up in fawning over each successive newborn and basically ignoring the rest of her family. With the arrival of yet another newborn son mother, most often can be found in her room with the baby.

With talk of Megan’s decision to leave the nest, the fractured family begins to come apart. Edward, the father, is pretty much a non entity. He was raised by an abusive father and has kept his distance from his own children for fear of losing control. He doesn’t seem to even realize what is happening to those around him. Oldest son Tom has returned home after the death of a close friend, he is depressed and unable to cope with life on the outside.

One character I really felt for was little Adam, just 4 years old and desperate for love, attention and affection, my heart went out to both him and Tom for what they were dealing with. Even Megan, who had dreams of something more, a better life learns that the path to happiness and fulfillment are not always easily attained, and that it is not always easy to cut ties with family either.

The Road Ends is a beautifully written and compassionate but dark story. The cold and desolate landscape adds to the bleakness of the story and depressing emotions some of the characters. It’s a story that portrays a family with all their warts and vulnerabilities exposed. This book is part of a stunning trilogy which I really enjoyed - Crow Lake; The Other Side of the Bridge; and now Road ends. If you have not tried this author, I highly recommend that you do.

OXO Good Grips 6-Piece Plastic Measuring Spoons with added Scraper
OXO Good Grips 6-Piece Plastic Measuring Spoons with added Scraper
Price: $4.99
2 used & new from $4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Better suited for children, September 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First, I've been pretty happy with all of the OXO products that I own, but these measuring spoons were disappointing. These spoons are the chunkiest measuring spoons I've ever tried. They seem better tailored for children than for adults IMO. On a positive note, I do like the different color with the measurement on each and the price is good, but I'll probably save them for my granddaughter to use when we bake together.

Jenga "Throw-n-go"
Jenga "Throw-n-go"
Price: $22.12
27 used & new from $16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars updated version of a fun timeless game, September 7, 2014
This review is from: Jenga "Throw-n-go" (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A favorite game of years gone by updated by adding a colorful spin to the mix. Still pretty much played the same was except that now there is a die that determines what color piece (Black, purple or blue) you must remove from the stacked tower and from where you must remove it - end, mid etc and even a wild - or do what you want move.

Depending on the color piece you need to remove, we found some pieces definitely seemed tougher to remove with this version than with our old game. Kids and adults alike will have fun playing this game, and it's a great way to test your dexterity and get a few laughs in as well.

The bottom line is either version is lots of fun. I do like the color scheme

The Paying Guests
The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.37
51 used & new from $15.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forbidden love, scandal and crime, September 7, 2014
This review is from: The Paying Guests (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Set just outside of London in 1922, The Paying Guests, is a literary thriller which kept me quickly turning its 500+ pages.

Frances Wray is a 26 year old spinster who lives with her 50-something mother in what was once a comfortable life. Now, Mr. Wray is deceased and has left the women in his life with substantial debt. In addition, the economy after WWI has taken a downward turn and mother and daughter have decided to take in boarders to help with expenses and repairs needed on their home. The couple who joins their household are Lilian and Leonard Barber.

By day Leonard works, and Lilian is staying home adjusting to life as a new wife in a new place. Frances and her mother have plenty of adjustments as to make as well, and each walks of fine line as to being friendly to the "paying guests" and giving them the privacy and space they deserve. The lifestyle and manners of the Barbers are a bit of a shock to the system, especially for Mrs. Wray, and at times the two feel very awkward around the Barbers even in their own home.

---possible spoilers below --
When Len goes off to work and Mrs. Wray out about town during the day, Lilian and Frances spend time getting to know one another and become confidants. Frances is a lesbian who had recently ended a relationship with a woman because of family obligations. She feels comfortable enough to tell Lilian about this relationship hoping she will not think any less of her. Yet with each new day Frances finds herself attracted to the young woman and she does her best try to go about her daily activities in spite of these feelings.

For the first 200 pages or so the author builds the tension as the reader is getting to know the "paying guests" and how the lives of the Wrays are impacted with their arrival and sharing a home together. The second section ratchets up the tension even more with the turn of each page as Lilian and Frances relationship develops into something more than friendship. The added tension and some shocking violence add to the overall psychological drama. The final section deals with an investigation and trial with an ending that left me satisfied.

Sarah Waters knows how create a suspenseful novel. The time period and characters came alive on the page. I can't say that I liked any of the characters, but I did feel like I was right there watching the happenings firsthand. This is a story has it all - forbidden love, scandal and crime. I was hooked early on and invested until the end. This is sure to make my list of favorites list for 2014 - Read It!

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy finely crafty historical crime fiction.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2014 6:40 PM PDT

Dear Daughter: A Novel
Dear Daughter: A Novel
by Elizabeth Little
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
57 used & new from $11.12

4.0 out of 5 stars a protagonist you won’t forget, September 5, 2014
This review is from: Dear Daughter: A Novel (Hardcover)
Dear Daughter tells the story of Hollywood "It Girl", Jane Jenkins who served 10 years in prison for murdering her mother, Marion Elsinger, a high society beauty and philanthropist who has had numerous husbands over the years.

Jane, as a teen was spoiled rotten and totally out of control, often appearing in the media for some drug or alcohol offense. Now at 27 and newly released from prison on a technicality for evidence mishandling, she immediately goes into hiding. She is a woman on a mission, determined to find her mother’s killer, although the night of her mother’s murder she was heavily under the influence.

Jane changes her appearance, leaves town and recreates herself. Even her lawyer isn't sure where she is. With only a vague memory of a conversation she overheard her mother having with a man the night of the murder, she headed to two small mining towns in South Dakota, to get to work. However, once she begins asking questions she quickly learns that she’d better be careful or she could even be a target like he mother.

Our protagonist Jane (Janie) is what makes this novel a treat. She’s a spunky, in your face kind of person, she’s very vain and knows how to turn on the charm when it’s to her benefit, but she is very witty and funny as well and that’s what this novel so good. Imagine an in your face Beverly Hills girl in small town South Dakota looking for a killer. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Although a lot of what happens in this novel seems very unrealistic, it’s fiction, and if you can allow yourself to suspend belief, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Dear Daughter is a multi-layered mystery with a protagonist you won’t forget. Although not all of the threads are completely tied up, the ending did not disappoint, and it left me wondering if a sequel might be in the works. Elizabeth Little is a new author with talent who knows how to create interesting and quirky characters, I’ll be looking out for more books by her moving forward.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel
by Joshua Ferris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
76 used & new from $11.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars started strong and then got whacky, September 4, 2014
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris is entertaining read, with a quirky protagonist that will make you laugh or at least have you scratching your head and asking yourself what planet does this guy come from?

Paul O’Rourke is our lonely and messed up protagonist. He’s a guy who has felt like an orphan ever since his father who suffered from manic depression took his own life when Paul was still a child. Although Paul’s a successful Park Avenue dentist now, with a five-chair practice that is opened until 10 pm some nights, and master of his craft in providing pain free services, his personal life is a mess. He’s not a great friend, and he prefers to add to his misery by watching the Boston Red Sox self destruct in solitude. He has lots of opinions of his beloved baseball team and and their arch rivals as well. He knows how to screw up a romantic relationship by diving in hard and fast, stalking women and by obsessing about pleasing the parents instead of focusing on building a relationship with the person he is dating.

He smokes too much and is a pseudo atheist who seems to be obsessed with other religions at the same time. One day technology turns on Paul when someone creates a website pretending to be Paul O’Rourke DDS, then tweets begin and even a Facebook account surfaces. Who is behind this and why are they targeting Paul? A group referred to as Ulms with a belief system is based on a “doubting God”. The group instead of targeting Paul, when all is said and done, may be the key to the sense of community Paul had been longing for all along.

This was an incredibly difficult book to review, I liked the writing, and enjoyed many of the quotes. At times I felt sorry for Paul, who creates much of his own misery, other times I was laughing about the absurdity of what I was reading. Like Paul,as a conflicted Red Sox fan (especially this year) I found his musings and even obsession with the team and players a delight. However, once the Ulms surfaced, the story seemed too weird and I lost interest. Overall, this was an okay read for me. I think readers who enjoy satires might enjoy this one a bit more than me.

3.5/5 stars

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