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William Merrill "eclecticist" RSS Feed (San Antonio, TX United States)
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Flings: Stories
Flings: Stories
by Justin Taylor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.47
67 used & new from $1.25

4.0 out of 5 stars One of 2014's better short story collections, October 19, 2014
This review is from: Flings: Stories (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had the pleasure of reading some superior story collections in 2013, including those by Karen Russell and George Saunders, but nothing has struck me so far this year--until now. Justin Taylor's fourteen stories in Flings are sometimes shocking, frustrating, and/or explicit, but they are always engrossing. Taylor handles a couple's breakup in a most unusual manner in "After Ellen," one of my favorite Flings. Another is "Poets," with its two unique title characters who are unlike anyone I know but simultaneously fascinate and repel me. Each of the stories in this book is compelling, though. You can't go wrong with any of them.


Full Measure: A Novel
Full Measure: A Novel
by T. Jefferson Parker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.95
50 used & new from $14.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of real people in Parker's masterful California novel, October 19, 2014
This review is from: Full Measure: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Full Measure, T. Jefferson Parker's new novel, takes the reader in unexpected directions as it develops. The main characters are brothers Patrick and Ted Norris, each struggling with major personal issues. Patrick is a returning war veteran haunted by ghosts of fallen comrades; Ted is physically limited and has a personality conflict with his demanding farming father. A blurb quote for this book (from Stephen Harrigan) compares this writing to John Steinbeck's, and the comparison is apt. Besides having the West Coast setting in common, Parker portrays events similar to Steinbeck's interpersonal dramas of hard-luck people scratching and clawing to get by. But the plot is more than character studies -- the Norris family is in tough straits, and we're not sure how (or if) they will make it through.


Ransom Island
Ransom Island
by Miles Arceneaux
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.96
15 used & new from $17.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Miles novel yet!, September 26, 2014
This review is from: Ransom Island (Paperback)
Ransom Island, the third Miles Arceneaux story, is again set in the Texas Gulf Coast area, although this book takes place in the 1950s. It's fun to connect these '50s characters, including a different set of Sweetwater brothers, to characters in the chronologically-later first and second books. The plot involves a mob bid to take over Shady's, the brothers' relatively isolated and "local" entertainment operation (food, fishing, music, and libations), plus there are preparations being made for a major musical figure's planned concert at the club. I enjoyed the good-guys-vs-bad element of this tale, which also includes a not-always-serious yet period-appropriate look at the racial tensions of the time. In fact, the handling of that touchy subject (race) is a good illustration of the Arceneaux approach to historical accuracy -- a good ear for how things were discussed and handled at the time, but with a vein of humor always nearby, ready to be mined. The novel moves along briskly, is frequently grin-inducing (I'm not an LOL'er), and the CCQ (colorful character quotient) is the highest yet for a Miles book. If you dug the first two books, you will love this one.


D'Addario Reserve Bb Clarinet Reeds, Strength 3.0, 10-pack
D'Addario Reserve Bb Clarinet Reeds, Strength 3.0, 10-pack
Price: $23.32
6 used & new from $21.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Carefully manufactured reeds for the clarinetist in your life, September 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like the idea that the cane plants from which these reeds are made were watched over by company reps from growth through harvest and production. These reeds produce a rich, warm sound, but it's a matter of individual preference whether this particular reed is the right one for the individual clarinetist. All I can say is that they're a quality product.


Now Designs Basic Apron, Veggies
Now Designs Basic Apron, Veggies
Price: Click here to see our price
3 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheerful Apron makes cooking fun…or at least less messy, September 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This colorful apron is made of high quality cotton fabric that washes very well. I can never remember the meaning of the European washing symbols, so I just washed it in warm water and dried it on the usual medium heat setting. It turns out I should have dried it on a low setting, but I didn’t notice any shrinkage.
The adjustable neck strap and long waist ties allow it to fit just about anyone. It can be worn by guys as well as gals. (My girlfriend and I have each worn the apron quite comfortably -- and stylishly, I might add.)
There’s a nice big pocket on the front, but I’m never sure what you should put in an apron pocket.


A Very Fine House: A Mother's Story of Love, Faith, and Crystal Meth
A Very Fine House: A Mother's Story of Love, Faith, and Crystal Meth
by Barbara Cofer Stoefen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.92
58 used & new from $9.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Meth addict's mom tells her story, September 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Barbara Cofer Stoefen is the mother of an addict who felt that her story could be helpful to others who were facing a similar situation. Her teenaged daughter Annie became addicted to crystal meth at the end of high school and as Annie became a legal adult, the situation changed dramatically as far as treatment options and the law were concerned. I read this story with interest--while I have no firsthand experience with a family member going through addiction (thankfully), I have followed the subject of meth addiction.

Ms Cofer Stoefen relates events in a very realistic way, laying bare all of the confusion, anger, frustration, anxiety, and other emotions she went through during this time in her and Annie's lives. While there are recommendations and resources offered at the end of the book, A Very Fine House is not written as an advice book. It is just a mom talking about what happened to her family, figuring things out as she went along. It is also a book about faith in God, and the heart of the book details the author's initial struggle with "how could God let this happen to us?" followed by her attempts to find a solution that would draw on her spiritual support and love for her daughter.

I typically avoid "religious books," but I found this to be a refreshingly honest and non-preachy account, pretty well-written and engrossing throughout.


Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LIT Jumpin' Stix Duck Formula with Glucosamine and Chondroitin Semi-Moist Dog Treat
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LIT Jumpin' Stix Duck Formula with Glucosamine and Chondroitin Semi-Moist Dog Treat
Price: $8.99
8 used & new from $7.13

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My dogs love 'em, and the treats seem to help with their joints, September 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After giving these Duck Stix to my 8-year-old German Shepherd mix, I can report that he loves them, there appear to be no negative side effects, and that he appears to move about more easily and comfortably. He only has very early signs of arthritis, such as slight wincing when I pet his hip areas, but I'm still glad to give him some relief. My other dog, a 6-year-old Yellow Lab, seems to love these treats too, and I don't think it does any harm to give them to her every now & then.


Abroad: A Novel
Abroad: A Novel
by Charles Wright
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.10
86 used & new from $3.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Non-innocents Abroad, August 31, 2014
This review is from: Abroad: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
American author Katie Crouch's novel called Abroad chronicles the descent of a young British woman into a decadent and dangerous lifestyle while participating in an exclusive foreign-student college program in a small Italian city. She falls in with "the wrong crowd," a trio of high-living classmates, and her fate is essentially sealed in that moment. While the story has a gripping and irresistible forward momentum, I found the characters' behavior consistently annoying throughout the book. This gets into the classic debate about whether a novelist has still written a good story if the characters are all unsympathetic or even repulsive to the reader. Certainly that is possible, except in this case I had another problem with Abroad, that the plot kind of stagnated for me -- too much meaningless partying and "living it up," to the point of repetitiveness. Only a couple of scenes stood out, when the four "friends" manage to intrude on an exclusive "secret society" party they were not invited to, as well as their "weekend at the castello." The former passage was vaguely reminiscent of a pivotal scene from the film Eyes Wide Shut. Not enough of that kind of stuff, though, plus I thought the ending was too unoriginal.


Spark: A Novel
Spark: A Novel
by John Twelve Hawks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.23
61 used & new from $12.85

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The perfect assassin...or is he?, August 24, 2014
This review is from: Spark: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Mysterious author John Twelve Hawks, creator of the Traveler series, has constructed a very clever new antihero in his new thriller Spark. After recovering from a traumatic brain energy, Jacob Underwood lost all capacity for emotion, a Transformation that makes him a perfect assassin, a trade he has become quite successful at. His "Spark" -- his inner being (or soul?) -- is disconnected from his body, or "Shell." This story is about what happens when unexpected events begin to shift the assassin's perceptions of himself and the world he lives in. Could his profession, or even his very existence, be at stake? Mr. Twelve Hawks builds a riveting page-turner around this situation and his assassin character.


Belkin Grip Candy Sheer Case / Cover for iPhone 5 and 5S (Clear / Blacktop)
Belkin Grip Candy Sheer Case / Cover for iPhone 5 and 5S (Clear / Blacktop)
Price: Click here to see our price
4 used & new from $24.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish & slim, August 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I will give this Grip credit for protecting the back of my iPhone 5 and its top & side buttons. I also really appreciated the design (appearance) of the Grip and how well it works (button function). However, ultimately I decided that more complete protection of the phone was of greater importance to me, and I went back to my 360 protective cover. (This Belkin Grip does NOT cover the jacks or the front screen.)


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