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OXO Good Grips Silicone Drain Protector for Pop-Up & Regular Drains
OXO Good Grips Silicone Drain Protector for Pop-Up & Regular Drains
Price: $8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars moves around some, December 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This drain protector only works so-so. It's certainly better than nothing, but it could be better.

There were a couple of issues. First, the metal part at the top is supposed to weight it down so that it stays in place, but mine keeps moving slightly when the water hits it. So I have to nudge back into place a few times while showering. Second, it definitely lets hair get in underneath the dome; this partially due to the fact that it keeps moving, but also because it doesn't sit completely flush against the bottom of the tub.

This keeps some hair out of the drain, but not all of it.


Carefree Acti-Fresh Pantiliners, Unscented, Extra Long to Go, 93 Count
Carefree Acti-Fresh Pantiliners, Unscented, Extra Long to Go, 93 Count

4.0 out of 5 stars full coverage, December 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What I like most about these pantiliners is that they really provide full coverage. They are wide enough to cover the entire crotch area, while many other varieties leave much of the fabric bare, which can lead to stains and discomfort. These are wide enough and long enough to keep me feeling fresh and dry all day- definitely longer than the 8 hours it says on the package.

I also like how soft and flexible they are; they're very comfortable to wear and don't bunch up or rub in sensitive places.

I wish they didn't come in the little wrappers; it seems like a lot of waste, and it's time-consuming to save each wrapper to take to include in my plastic bag recycling. Additionally, the wrappers aren't closed very tightly, so if you stick these in the bottom of your purse of bag for a few days, you might find that the wrapper has come off and the liner has gotten dirty. But that's my only complaint, so I'll give these 4 stars.


Hiding in Plain Sight: A Novel
Hiding in Plain Sight: A Novel
by Nuruddin Farah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.93
62 used & new from $13.09

3.0 out of 5 stars interesting premise, horrible main character, December 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When Aar, a UN employee, is killed in Somalia during a terrorist attack, his sister Bella flies to Kenya to care for his two teenaged children. They are quickly joined by the children's mother, Valerie, who hasn't been in contact with her children in years, and her lover Padmini.

The bulk of the story focuses on Bella's dealing with her brother's death and her attempts to create a stable life for her niece and nephew, and most of it is told from her point of view. That's unfortunate because Bella is by far the least enjoyable and most frustrating character in the entire book. Based on the author's description and the reactions of other characters, Bella is supposed to be a likeable, understandable person, but I found her more irritating than anything else.

For starters, I thought she was often very rude to the children- castigating them without reason, being deliberately obtuse when they tried to talk to her, and constantly shutting down topics of conversation that weren't to her liking, even when she was the once who choice them. This rudeness seems to be a staple of her personality, since it came up with other people in a variety of situations. In a flashback, she slept with a man and then pretended not to recognize him when he tried to speak to her on the street shortly after; later she begins a lengthy affair with him without ever apologizing for her rudeness.

On top of that, she is unbearably hypocritical. She is angered by a woman who makes generalizations about Somalis but then does the exact same thing with Swedes and Somalis throughout the book. She chastises the children for discussing a family matter with close, personal friends, but then promptly turns around and asks those same friends about a highly personal medical issue that she knows about only secondhand. She repeatedly tells herself and others that she is making the children her top priority and is going to be caring for them from now on, but then spends much of the book (in the days immediately following their father’s death) leaving them home alone or dropping them off with friends while she takes care of her own business, makes new friends, and meets up with a lover. She repeatedly describes Valerie, the children’s mother, as a dangerous madwoman, but she has no problem encouraging them to spend more time with her, and she leaves them alone with her several times.

So far this has been a very negative review, but there were several bright spots, which is why I gave the book 3 stars. The characters of Valerie and Padmini were really the shining stars of the book. They are compelling, interesting, and excellently characterized. The two children were highly believable in their own interactions. Their dialogue was a little too formal to be believable, but some of that might be cultural differences. Finally, some of the major underlying themes in the book- cultural identity, multiculturalism, LGBT issues in Africa, were very interesting to read about and were handled nicely.

If you can get past the one incredibly irritating character, this book has some very insightful and interesting moments.


C2O Baked Coconut Chips, 1.4 Ounce (Pack of 12)
C2O Baked Coconut Chips, 1.4 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Price: $22.52

4.0 out of 5 stars a nice crispy treat, December 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You can definitely tell that these have been baked, since they are nice and crispy. Also, unlike the picture on the package, they are more tan than white, having been cooked.

The chips are very thin, about 1/3 inch wide and 1/2 to 1 inch long. They are the perfect size to mix them into granola or trail mix, or to add them to the top of a cupcake or cookie. They are also easy to eat with your fingers.

They are just a tad sweeter than I would like, but they are not nearly as sweet as many coconut products I've tried. I wish they had just a little less sugar, but I will enjoy them as they are.


How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading too Much (Vintage Original)
How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading too Much (Vintage Original)
by Samantha Ellis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.21

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good book for fans of torrid romance, December 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was very excited when I read the premise of this book. I have always been a voracious reader, and like the author, I loved finding heroines I could related to in my books at a young age. However, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in this book. It has nothing to do with quality at all, but rather with the author's own tastes in books, which seem to rarely have intersected with mine.

In How to Be a Heroine, Samantha Ellis reflects on the books and heroines she loved as a child, and how her perspective of them has changed during adult rereadings. I enjoyed her perspectives on stories that almost everyone is familiar with, like fairy tales, Jane Austen's novels, and Anne of Green Gables. Even though I didn't always share her opinions, it was fun to read about stories that are so familiar to me.

However, Ellis seems to have spent a great deal of her youth reading books that never held any appeal to me at all, like Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, and Valley of the Dolls. She admits that she was enamored with the idea of overwrought, often tragic love affairs, which frankly were the last thing I ever wanted to read. I didn't share her opinions as a child, and as an adult I often couldn't relate to her new perspectives, though it was interesting to read about her gradually developing feminist lens.

Overall, this isn't a bad book. But, I spent a lot of it thinking "I would never read that book; it sounds horrible. I certainly don't want to read a 2 or 3 page summary of it, let alone someone's fond reminiscence about how it shaped her youth." So I skimmed through some sections on books that were especially unappealing to me. I think to enjoy this book, you have to have shared the author's interests at one point or another in your life. If there has ever been a time when you've really enjoyed overblown, high-drama romance (and there's no shame in it), you will probably enjoy reading how Samantha Ellis found her perspectives changing as she aged.


The Tilted World: A Novel
The Tilted World: A Novel
by Beth Ann Fennelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.10
92 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, otherwise great, December 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Tilted World got off to a slow start, and I wasn't initially sure if I would like it. However, after the first 1/3 or so, the plot picked up and I became very intrigued by the main female character, Dixie Clay. She's a moonshiner during the Prohibition whose marriage is in shambles and who is deeply saddened and depressed after the death of her infant child. The story of how she was brought so low so young in life, and how throughout the book she fights her way back to a life she could actually enjoy was very moving and exciting.

I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the book. I am not very familiar with Prohibition-era US history, and I had definitely never heard of the huge floods that were destroying parts of the country at that time. The author did a great job using the historical backdrop to add depth to the story.

I certainly recommend this book, and encourage people who try it to get past the somewhat dry beginning.


The Rabbit Back Literature Society
The Rabbit Back Literature Society
by Pasi Jääskeläinen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Creative modern fantasy, December 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I loved this book right up until the ending, which I found disappointing. As a result, I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5.

Here's what I did like: The characters are wacky, intense, and authentic. The plot has elements of both fantasy and mystery. The characters are all authors and/or avid readers, which makes it fun for dedicated readers and bibliophiles to read. I haven't read the original version, but it seems like the translation is smooth and well done. Sometimes you can tell that something is really lacking in the translation, and that isn't the case here.

What I didn't like was the ending, as I mentioned above. The novel has two main mysteries/plots that span the whole book. I was satisfied by the resolution of one, but I felt that the other was left completely hanging, with no real conclusion or explanation. There wasn't even an emotional sense of closure. I found that frustrating.

But other than that, this was a great book to read. It was creative, funny, and fun.


SOYJOY Snack Bar, Cranberry, 1.05 Ounce, 12 Count
SOYJOY Snack Bar, Cranberry, 1.05 Ounce, 12 Count
Offered by Peters Select
Price: $24.78
5 used & new from $15.48

3.0 out of 5 stars Very sweet and dry, December 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These bars were so-so. I have had other Soyjoy bars that I liked a lot more than these.

I had two main issues. First, the main ingredient is sugar. That doesn't make me think of this as a very healthy snack. Second, my bars were very dry. Other Soyjoy flavors I've tried were quite moist, so I was surprised by how dry these were.

The cranberry flavor was evident, but it was definitely dominated by the sweetness. I would consider eating this every once in a while as a dessert, but not as a snack.


Wolf Winter
Wolf Winter
by Cecilia Ekback
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy supernatural mystery, December 2, 2014
This review is from: Wolf Winter (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wolf Winter is a great novel that combines elements of history, murder mystery, supernatural, and coming of age stories into one fast-paced book. There were so many twists and turns that I never knew what to expect next; this was a definite page-turner!

Ekback created a wonderful cast of fleshed out characters, all of whom have their own secrets, which slowly emerge throughout the novel. She also did an incredible job of describing the landscape northern Sweden; her descriptions of endless nights and horrendous blizzards made me feel like I was actually experiencing them.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that I thought the character Frederika, who was 14, seemed far too mature to be realistic, even given the historical setting.

This book has some disturbing themes and imagery, but if you can stomach that, I would absolutely recommend it!


Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Savory Portobello Mushroom, 14.5 Ounce (Pack of 8)
Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Savory Portobello Mushroom, 14.5 Ounce (Pack of 8)
Price: $16.47

3.0 out of 5 stars not much mushroom flavor, November 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Review for Portabella Mushroom flavor

This soup tastes more like celery and salt than it does like mushrooms. The mushroom taste is there, but it is faint. That's perhaps not that surprising, given that the ingredients also contain potatoes, tomatoes, celery, and a wide variety of other ingredients. It might be more accurate to label this as vegetable soup.

I found that it made a nice base to a noodle and vegetable soup. It was very easy to pour it into a pot and add the other ingredients. The consistency was actually very nice, which was very surprising for a pre-packaged product like this. More often than not, these types of soup end up lumpy and slimy. Happily, this soup was smooth and creamy.

I wouldn't mind eating it again, but I won't use it if I'm specifically looking for a good mushroom soup.


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