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Wind/Pinball: Two novels
Wind/Pinball: Two novels
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $18.47
16 used & new from $18.46

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice glimpse into the author's early talent, August 4, 2015
Newly translated into English, "Wind/Pinball" are the first two books of the author, part of "Rat" trilogy that is completed with, A Wild Sheep Chase.

Both Wind and Pinball are very short and probably best described as novellas. In "Wind", an unnamed narrator is home from college for the summer and spends his time patronizing J's Bar, listening to music and drinking beer with his wealthy friend, "The Rat". He talks and fantasizes about the women he has been with including a 9-fingered woman he has been seeing,

In "Pinball", the narrator is now out of college and living and working in Tokyo as a translator. He's bent on tracking down a spaceship pinball machine he played while in college. He's involved with identical twins who are staying appeared in his bed one morning. The twins at times are only distinguishable by the numbers on their shirts - 208 and 209 (assuming they haven't switched shirts to have a little fun of their own). The Rat is still hanging out at J's but seems depressed and has had no luck with women.

For Murakami fans who have an appreciation for the writer's work, these (2) entry novellas seems to reveal how the author is trying to develop his style. "Wind", almost seems incomplete with rambling dialogue which reader's new to this author may be put off by, especially since there is no real plot or resolution to this short story.

In " Pinball" there was more of a surreal feeling developing. I couldn't help but wonder if this unnamed narrator in both stories was in some small way a bit autobiographical of the author at that particular point in his life.

There were recurring themes like loneliness, death and obsession. We also see emotionally devoid young men and physically imperfect women much more like the author's later offerings. I especially enjoyed the quirkiness of the characters and the conversations between the narrator and "the rat". Overall, I was satisfied by this combined offering, as I think it gives readers a nice glimpse into the creative talent this author possesses. I thought the introduction which describes how the author was inspired to write was fantastic.

The audio version, read by Kirby Keyborne, was very well done.

De'Longhi EDG656T Dolce Gusto Esperta, Black
De'Longhi EDG656T Dolce Gusto Esperta, Black
Price: $164.24
12 used & new from $59.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Closest Thing for 5 star coffee house drinks with a few cons, August 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First off, I am a bit of a coffee nut, but I am also the only one in my home that drinks coffee. For the last 7 years I've used only a Keurig. Keurig makes a decent cup of coffee for me, because there are so many K-Cup choices out there, but specialty coffees like those found in 5 star coffee house are not an option at home with Keurig.

The DeLonghi Dolce Gusto Esperta makes fancy coffee house coffees at home deliciously possible. Cappuccino is my favorite blended brew. It comes out creamy and frothy, but is a bit messy because it uses 2 pods for specialty drinks and requires clean up after each cup as well. The water is heated instantly as well, which is a nice feature. Honestly, this is closest think to fancy expensive coffees and even regular pods have a full-bodied taste.

There are a few cons to this item as well in my opinion -- price of the unit ($200) and price of the pods. Pods can run $2.00++ per cup of coffee (and certain drinks use 2 pods). I also wished that the water fill tank was visible, instead of hidden in the back as it's easy to run out mid-brew if you don't check it before brewing.

I wouldn't recommend this maker for every family, but now that I have it, I would not want to part with mine.

Summerlong: A Novel
Summerlong: A Novel
by Dean Bakopoulos
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.76
62 used & new from $10.59

5.0 out of 5 stars terrific summer choice, August 1, 2015
This review is from: Summerlong: A Novel (Hardcover)
"There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one" ---Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Summerlong begins with Don Lowry, a 38 year old real estate agent who is struggling to keep his wife Claire, and two young children afloat in the midst of the 2008 recession. One day while out taking his daily walk he sees a women sprawled out in the meadow and he isn't sure whether she is in trouble so goes to her rescue----an his trouble begins. Her name is Amelia Benitez-Coors (AKA --ABC).

ABC is sexy, beautiful and emotionally fragile. She a graduate of Grinnel College in Iowa where the story takes place, and is caring for an aging, pot-smoking woman by the name of Ruth Manetti. ABC is also contemplating suicide, but as the story progresses it's clear Don can't stay away from her.

Claire, Don's wife, is also 38, has her own issues. She met Don in college and fell in love. She misses NYC and has never adjusted to life in Iowa. A frustrated woman and former writer, she's lost her sense of self since moving to Iowa and having children. She's ripe for something or someone to put a spark back into her life.

Charlie Gulliver is an actor who has returned to Iowa to settle the affairs of his aging father. His father was a former professor and known womanizer at Grinnel. He also has eyes on both Claire and ABC.

Summerlong is a story about midlife, marriage, fidelity, aging and regrets. It's a story that will have some readers reassessing the strengths and weaknesses in their own relationships. I think it's a book that most readers will be able to relate to in some way.

The most interesting thing about this story was the way the author revealed the internal conflicts of each of the well-developed and memorable characters. I found myself feeling sorry for a few of the characters --even Claire, a sometimes neglectful mother who just lost her sense of self after marriage and children. Summerlong is well written, gives you plenty to think about and would make a great choice for book club discussions. Recommended.

4.5/5 stars

Skip Hop Zoo Stainless Steel Straw Bottle,  Bee
Skip Hop Zoo Stainless Steel Straw Bottle, Bee
Price: $17.99
2 used & new from $17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cute and functional, August 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was pleasantly surprised to see how cute this item is. The nice wide mouth is perfect for adding cubes to cold drinks and the stainless interior makes this an added bonus. Perfect for the 3-5 year old age group.

Slumberjack Timberjack 20 Regular Right Hand Zip Sleeping Bag
Slumberjack Timberjack 20 Regular Right Hand Zip Sleeping Bag
Price: $65.82
12 used & new from $52.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice sleeping bag for the money., August 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Out of the box I was very happy to see and feel how thick and soft this sleeping bag was at this price point. The length is great and can accommodate someone 6 feet. We also liked that you can sleep with your feet exposed for those who prefer more freedom of movement.

This will be great for fall with the Maine woodsy cottage we visit and. Can't wait to formally try it out. One drawback might be the zipper which is prone to catch on the fabric in certain spots, so I am hoping this isn't a major issue during the night if someone needs to use the bathroom quick. No other issues found and overall a very nice bag for the $$.

Farberware 15-Piece Stamped Stainless-Steel Cutlery Set
Farberware 15-Piece Stamped Stainless-Steel Cutlery Set
Price: $39.99
11 used & new from $29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great set for $40.00, July 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For $40.00 this is a great set of knives, granted the quality is not what you would get with a $150.00 set, but these are definitely decent quality for forged knives. A nice variety included in set ( I tend to use no more than 5 knives in any block I've owned).

As with any decent knives these will hold up best if washed and dryer by hands as dishwasher chemicals dull and rust items over time. I'm not sure how sharp these will stay over time, but for now they are great.

Nice item for people on a budget or for peoe just starting out on the own. Oh, by the way the block itself is terrific as well.

The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
by Louise Penny
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $21.38
33 used & new from $15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars slow start, enjoyable characters and setting - 3.5/5 stars, July 28, 2015
A Long Way Home is the 10th book in this mystery series featuring now retired, homicide inspector, Armand Gamache. Gamache left his job after an on the job incident that nearly took his life. He has recovered, but emotionally he is still troubled and has not adjusted to retirement all that well.

Like the other books in this series, this mystery is set in the small, small idyllic village of Three Pines in Quebec. Several of the characters from early stories reappear here ---central to this story is Clara Morrow, considered the talented resident artist of the village. Her husband, Peter is a painter, but not well known like his wife. The couple had agreed to a one year trial separation when Peter was having difficulty dealing with Clara's success. When the year is up and Peter does not return or contact her she becomes concerned. Even though he's acted immature (IMO), Clara thinks he may be in trouble since he has not been in touch.

She contacts retired friend and inspector Gamache to report Peter missing and ask his assistance in helping to locate him. He agrees and has several other villagers help him in the search: his wife Reine-Marie, SIL, Jean-Guy, Myrna, a retired psychologist who now runs the village used bookstore, and Ruth, a grumpy neighbor and poet. Following credit card use and other clues leads to several dead ends, but there is no shortage of possible suspects in this mystery.

I have to admit this one got off to a slow start for me, but because this author has a way of stirring ones senses with her small village setting, scenery, things like violent snowstorms, smell of baked goods from bistro owners etc, I knew my persistence would pay off eventually. The author also has a way of incorporating art, music, poetry and even occasional recipes into each mystery. Her characters are well developed and memorable. Some of the characters are quirky and conflicted, and it's always fun to see how each returning character has evolved as the stories progress.

This wasn't a favorite in the series, mostly because of the slow start and the way some of the treads came together in the end, but for the most part I was still happy I listened to this one. The narrator, Ralph Cosham did a decent job, but takes some getting used to.

3.5/5 stars

George Foreman GFO3320GM Indoor/Outdoor Gun Metal Electric Grill, Silver
George Foreman GFO3320GM Indoor/Outdoor Gun Metal Electric Grill, Silver
Price: $110.60
13 used & new from $77.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars far from idea but food cokks and tastes delicious on it, July 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a decent alternative to someone who does not want to bothered with charcoal or gas canisters, but it is far from ideal. At over $100.00, it's construction is rather flimsy and it was disappointing to find that the grill plate was not removable, making it quite messy to clean up. I'd use some non stick spray to avoid a mess moving forward. Also, because it is electric, storage may be an issue for some as I wouldn't want to expose the plug to the elements

On a more positive note set up was easy and I was happy to see how well the grease drains during cooking without affecting the flavor of our steak and chicken.

Finders Keepers: A Novel
Finders Keepers: A Novel
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.00
145 used & new from $3.89

5.0 out of 5 stars great follow-up to Mr. Mercedes - 4/.5/5 stars, July 25, 2015
I was anxious to see what would follow Mr. Mercedes (2014), and Finder's Keeper's did not disappoint. I must admit that after the first chapter, this one seemed more like Misery, an all time favorite King book.

This review was tough to write but I tried to keep out spoilers as most every review I've read since finishing this one gave away the whole story.

The story begins in 1978 with 20-something Morris Bellamy and two buddies breaking into the home of reclusive author, John Rothstein. Rothstein hasn't written anything in decades, but was famous for his Jimmy Gold character. Morris, the ringleader here, had been a huge fan seeing himself in the Jimmy character until, in Morris' opinion, Rothstein ruined the character in his last novel. By the end of the night Rothstein is dead, Morris' buddies are out of the picture and Morris now has the contents of Rothstein's safe --plenty of cash, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and loads of filled Moleskine notebooks which includes another unpublished Jimmy Gold story.

Fast forward to 2009, Pete Sauber's is a teenage who now lives with his financially strapped mom, dad and sister in Morris Bellamy's old house. Morris, has spent the last 30 years in prison for another crime and is about to be released. Pete is another fan of the late Rothstein's work. So how exactly are Morris and Pete linked and what happened to the loot from the robbery?

The story jumps back and forth in time between these two characters. There are references to the Mr. Mercedes killer and, several characters from that novel reappear in this novel as well: retired detective Bill Hodges, Holly and Jeremy. IMO new readers to this series would be just fine reading this one as a stand-alone, but as with any trilogy, most readers will want to begin with book one.

I liked Finder's Keeper's, it was a story that had me quickly turning the pages, and there wasn't any blood or gore in this one either. King fans will be happy to know that the seed has been planted for the reappearance of Mr. Mercedes for the final installment. I think most King fans will be pleased with this one.

George Foreman GFO200S Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, Silver
George Foreman GFO200S Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, Silver
Price: $89.57
20 used & new from $76.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Works great, but not perfect, July 24, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I first wanted to comment of how this item was shipped by Amazon -- just in the product box which ended up partially ripped open of the bottom. Fortunately, the grill itself was in one piece basically, after only minor assembly.

I LOVE the grill size and grill plate which is non-stick and can fit 10-12 burgers, dogs small streaks or pieces of chicken. The plate is removable for easy clean-up afterward. The 2-downers of this one is that because it is electric you can't just leave it out on the deck which is a bit or a pain and, the stand doesn't feel all that sturdy to me (might feel better using it as a tabletop) so I don't let the little one out on the deck when it's plugged in.

As with other GF grills, you can't beat the way food cooks and tastes after all the grease is drained away.

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