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Customer Reviews: 658
Top Reviewer Ranking: 367
Helpful Votes: 7165

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Kathy Cunningham RSS Feed (Bowie, MD USA)

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Sterling Silver Simulated Diamond Baguette Eternity Ring - Size 7
Sterling Silver Simulated Diamond Baguette Eternity Ring - Size 7
Offered by SilverCloseout
Price: $59.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty ring -- but uncomfortable to wear, August 4, 2015
This is a very shiny, pretty, sparkly eternity band. The sterling silver is rhodium-plated (which adds shine and prevents tarnish), and the simulated diamonds are bright and clear. From a distance, especially, this looks very nice. The sizing seems accurate - I usually wear a size 6.5, but I ordered a 7 (to accommodate the ring's substantial width). The 7 is a bit loose, but not noticeably. It's a good fit.

Unfortunately, it isn't comfortable to wear. The ring is about ½-inch wide, but the band is about ¼-inch thick, which means it's very noticeable on your finger. The simulated stones are also rough and scratchy, which adds to the problem. My wedding ring is an eternity band, but the diamonds are set into a channel so they aren't rough against my fingers. Not so with this ring. Honestly, I can't imagine wearing this for any length of time.

That said, it does come with an attractive presentation box (because of the ring's large size, it's hard to fit it securely into the ring slot in the box, but it is possible). The description says the box is made of leather - it's actually covered in leather-grained paper. But it's still a nice box, and the ring looks lovely inside it (making it a very classy-looking gift).

Bottom line, this is a pretty ring. It is marked "925," indicating that it is actually sterling silver. The price is reasonable for silver jewelry (at the time of this posting, the listed "sale" price was $35). Just be aware of how chunky this ring is on your finger and how scratchy the stones feel. This is basically a ring that looks a lot better than it feels.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Remington D3190A Damage Control Ceramic Hair Dryer, Purple
Remington D3190A Damage Control Ceramic Hair Dryer, Purple
Price: $19.96
11 used & new from $17.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Great ionic blow dryer, July 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Remington blow dryer has four things going for it: 1) it's ionic (great for thin, fine hair - no frizziness at all!), 2) it has two very powerful speeds, 3) it has three heat settings, and 4) it's purple!

I've been using an ionic blow dryer for about a year now, and it is remarkably good for thin, fine hair. The difference is amazing - after using my Conair ionic dryer, my hair feels silky and lustrous (and it looks much thicker than it has any right to look!). It also stays that way for a long time, even in hot, humid weather. So when I was offered the chance to try this Remington ionic blow dryer, I was excited. And the Remington is just as good as the Conair when it comes to making my hair look and feel good. And it's better than the Conair in terms of speed and heat settings.

As for speed, both the Conair and the Remington have two settings - high and low. But the Remington's high is much more powerful than the Conair's. I was able to dry my hair with the Remington in about half the time it usually takes me with the Conair. In fact, the Remington's low setting is about the same as the Conair's high setting. This thing has power!

As for heat settings, the Conair has two but the Remington has three - hot, warm, and cool. Because of the greater power of the Remington, I was able to dry my hair quickly using the warm setting (which is better for my hair). I also like the cool setting, which works for quick touch-ups.

And then there's that gorgeous purple color! I know that color isn't really a big thing when it comes to blow dryers (and the Conair's blue isn't bad), but there's just something about purple that feels jazzy and fun.

Both the Conair and the Remington weigh about the same, and both are easy and comfortable to hold during use. The Conair is less expensive, but I think the greater power and better heat options make the Remington a better buy. Overall, I recommend it - and it's definitely going to be my go-to blow dryer.

Beautiful Wall Decor Photo Art - Lake with Wooden Bridge Pier under Sunset 20"x30" x 3 Panels | Large Size Canvas Print
Beautiful Wall Decor Photo Art - Lake with Wooden Bridge Pier under Sunset 20"x30" x 3 Panels | Large Size Canvas Print

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful!, July 31, 2015
This set of three panels is a beautiful rendition of a sunset scene -- there's water, a long pier, and little gazebo, with gorgeous blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows. The photograph itself is striking and very detailed, and the three panels of the triptych work perfectly together to reveal the entire scene. This is a large photograph which looks fabulous over the dark blue sofa in my rec room.

I was actually surprised by how lovely this really is. The photograph is printed on canvas, which is stretched over the three wooden frames (so that no additional framing is necessary). The triptych comes with hardware for hanging.

It can be a little tricky getting the three panels to line up perfectly on your wall so that they work together -- you want to make sure the top border is level, and that the distance between the panels is equal. I used a tape measure and a level. Luckily, the individual panels are light-weight enough to make manipulating them into place fairly easy.

Overall, if you're looking for a dramatic wall presentation for your home or office, this is really lovely (at a very reasonable price). I'm very happy with the way it looks on my wall.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George
A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George
by Kelly Carlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.36

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting, July 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first thing to be aware of about Kelly Carlin's A CARLIN HOME COMPANION is that it isn't about George Carlin. It's a long, sometimes-tedious, disturbing slog through the life of Carlin's daughter, Kelly, who grew up amidst the drugs, alcohol, and craziness that surrounded her parents' lives. Yes, George Carlin and his wife Brenda are characters in Kelly's narrative, but the focus is firmly on Kelly - how she dealt with her alcoholic mother at age 7, how she started smoking her dad's weed at 14, how she got pregnant three times before she was 16, and how she married a deranged coke-head at 22. There's a lot of hobnobbing with celebrities, intermingled with obsessive sex, panic attacks, depression, and various attempts to get sober and do something with her life. It's not an easy book to read.

I was actually expecting a book about George Carlin, told from the perspective of his only child, a daughter who grew up both worshipping and fearing a man who was considered a "counterculture god" to many of us in the `60s, `70's, and `80's. Instead, CARLIN HOME COMPANION is a book about a self-described "Hollywood cliché," a "spoiled young woman who had never achieved anything without her daddy." By the end of the story, Kelly moves beyond that description, and makes a life for herself that is more admirable. But I kept asking myself why I was reading this. Had Kelly Carlin not been the daughter of a celebrity, there would be little point to this book. Her story is one of excess, self-indulgence, and extreme wealth and privilege, set against a star-studded Hollywood background. At one point in the narrative, Kelly enthuses about taking a shower in Farah Fawcett's bathroom using Farah Fawcett brand shampoo. If that sounds interesting to you, you'll like this more than I did.

Bottom line, this is a memoir about growing up surrounded by wealth, celebrity, and unlimited access to whatever your heart desires (even if those desires are often overwhelmingly destructive). I actually found the early chapters more interesting than what comes later - probably because Kelly's childhood with George and Brenda Carlin so obviously contributed to the fractured woman she became. The description of little 7-year-old Kelly desperately trying to cope with her mother's depression and addictions and her father's mood swings is heart-breaking. She never knew what version of her parents she might come home to at the end of the school day, and things only got worse from there. But by the end of the book, I found myself less and less interested in Kelly herself, or in George and Brenda Carlin. And I've never been one to care much about celebrities, which are sprinkled liberally throughout this narrative, so that aspect of the story didn't work for me, either. I admire Kelly Carlin for telling her story with such obvious honestly and openness (thus the three stars). It's just not a story I enjoyed reading.

T-fal A821SA Initiatives Nonstick Inside and Out Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Cookware Set, 10-Piece, Charcoal
T-fal A821SA Initiatives Nonstick Inside and Out Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Cookware Set, 10-Piece, Charcoal
Price: $51.64
36 used & new from $51.64

4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good -- but I'm not expecting miracles!, July 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Buying non-stick cookware these days can be a nightmare. Over the past decade I've purchased three pricy sets (Calphalon, Scan Pan, and Anolon), each promising to provide years of non-stick cooking excellence. Well, they all failed - and they all failed within the first year. So when I purchased this T-Fal set, I wasn't expecting much. The major benefit, I thought, was the price - even if it didn't last, at least I wasn't investing a small fortune. I could buy ten sets of T-Fal for the price of one set of Calphalon!

So, what's the verdict? The T-Fal works as well as any of the pricier pans ever did. The pans aren't as heavy and expensive-feeling as the others I've owned. But the handles are comfortable (and they stay cool during cooking), you can use them in the oven (at 350 degrees), and the lids are glass with little holes for venting steam (ensuring that the pans won't overheat). I like the size of the 5-quart Dutch oven, which has a larger surface area than most such large pots (and I like the steamer basket that fits inside - it's great for steaming veggies). The two sauce pans are nicely sized, too - the little 1-quart pan is perfect for whipping up a quick sauce. The skillets are definitely smaller than those included with my pricier sets - I'm not sure what I'll use the tiny 8-inch skillet for. But the other two skillets (9.5 and 11 inches) are perfectly serviceable, especially since I'm usually just cooking for two. I did purchase two larger T-Fal skillets separately to supplement this set.

Are they really non-stick? Yes! But then so were my other sets . . . at first. The instructions for use are pretty much the same for all of the non-stick cookware I've used: 1) "season" the pans with a little vegetable oil before first use, 2) avoid high heat, 3) allow hot pans to cool before exposing them to cold water, 4) avoid cooking sprays, and 5) use plastic utensils. And I'm following these directions, hoping that this time my pots and pans will last long enough for me to fall in love with them. But yes, they do work as advertised.

But why did my previous pans (which were much more expensive) fail within the first year of use? I'm not sure. And that's my concern now. Because if I don't know what went wrong with the other pans, how can I prevent things from going wrong with these? But so far, I'm happy with this cookware set. I'm also not expecting miracles. If these pans last a year, I'll feel my money was well-spent.

iPhone 5S Wallet Case, Mengo [Magna-Clasp Technology] Snake-Skin Material Credit Card Case with Wallet- Turquoise - Retail Packaging
iPhone 5S Wallet Case, Mengo [Magna-Clasp Technology] Snake-Skin Material Credit Card Case with Wallet- Turquoise - Retail Packaging
Offered by Mengo Products
Price: $12.99
2 used & new from $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Attractive, sturdy, functional cell phone case -- will it replace your wallet?, July 25, 2015
This Mengo "snake-skin" iPhone case is both attractive and useful - theoretically you could dispense with your wallet completely and use this little case to hold your phone, two credit cards, your driver's license, and some cash. I can see this being a big plus for hikers, campers, or anyone looking to avoid bulky wallets or purses. I'm not quite sold on keeping my most sensitive personal items (credit cards and ID) in my phone case. It might be an easier sell for men, who routinely keep their phones and wallets in their pants pockets. As a woman who feels naked without my purse, I'm not sure this is a huge advantage for me. I have enough trouble keeping track of my phone as it is, without keeping my credit cards and driver's license in my phone case!

But, I really like this cell phone case. It's attractive, well-made, and very sturdy. I like the faux snake-skin material it's made of - mine is the turquoise color, which is very pretty and not overly bright (it doesn't look like a kid's phone case). The phone fits easily and snugly into the inside sleeve, and the cover is held closed by a little magnetic flap. It all feels very solid - it's a compact, tight little packet that will clearly protect the phone without adding significant bulk.

The case comes with a protective screen saver that you can attach to the front of your phone to give it extra protection. It was easy to apply, but it wasn't as easy to get the piece of film to lie flat against the phone's screen (there were always little air bubbles that I couldn't remove, which got in the way of the clarity of the screen). I actually think the case protects the phone very well without the screen saver.

Bottom line, if you routinely carry a phone and a wallet in your pocket, this little case could work to consolidate the most important things you need into one compact packet. My husband loves the case. For me, it's hard to imagine giving up my purse in favor of this little case - and I'm not sure how I would carry it around. But I do like the feel of it, the look of it, and way it protects my phone. Whether or not this will work for you depends on how you carry your phone and how comfortable you feel keeping your phone, credit cards, and ID in one case. For now, I'm using it (although without the credit cards and driver's license). And I think it's growing on me!

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Yoler® Microfiber Beach Blanket with Corner Anchor Pocket and Storage bag - Oversized Mat Outdoor Camping Bath Towel - Super Absorbent Fast Drying Soft Blanket - Lightweight 63''*78'' Beach Blanket Oversized - for Family Picnic,Camping,Beach,Outdoor,Party Blanket
Yoler® Microfiber Beach Blanket with Corner Anchor Pocket and Storage bag - Oversized Mat Outdoor Camping Bath Towel - Super Absorbent Fast Drying Soft Blanket - Lightweight 63''*78'' Beach Blanket Oversized - for Family Picnic,Camping,Beach,Outdoor,Party Blanket
Offered by YOLER

5.0 out of 5 stars Soft, roomy blanket -- perfect for picnics and sunbathing, July 24, 2015
This Yoler Microfiber beach blanket is much nicer than I expected it to be. It's incredibly soft -- both sides have a suede-like texture that feels fabulous against your skin. The blanket is also very large -- plenty large enough for two adult sunbathers (or for a picnic with the kids). There are wonderful little corner pockets you can fill with sand or stones to keep the blanket in place, even in windy weather. It's also so light-weight that it's easy to shake out after sunbathing, and it comes with a cute little drawstring pouch to make it easy to carry from the car to the beach (and back again).

Additionally, the blanket washes beautifully -- and the microfiber fabric makes it dry very quickly. I wouldn't mind wrapping myself up in it after swimming, either.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a great picnic or beach blanket, this one is perfect. I highly recommend it.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Con Academy
Con Academy
by Joe Schreiber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.72
23 used & new from $8.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Twisty, fun YA caper novel -- "Ocean's Eleven" for teens, July 20, 2015
This review is from: Con Academy (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Joe Schreiber's CON ACADEMY is a YA novel with an unusual spin - seventeen-year-old Will Shae is a fraud. He has manipulated his way into prestigious Connaughton Academy by falsifying records, breaking into computer databases, and claiming he is the son of missionaries who died doing public service in the Marshall Islands. In reality, he's the son of con artists from Trenton, New Jersey - he was pulling scams when he was eight years old. Now, he hopes Connaughton will give him the boost he needs to go straight and make a real life for himself. Unfortunately, he runs into classmate Andrea Dufresne, who is pulling a scam of her own. Connaughton isn't big enough for two con artists, so Will and Andrea make a bet - whichever of them is able to get billionaire jerk Brandt Rush to part with $50,000 first will stay at Connaughton to graduate - the loser will be out.

CON ACADEMY reads like a teen version of the film "Ocean's Eleven" (or "The Sting," for those of you old enough to remember). Once Will brings in his dad and his Uncle Roy, we're in for a "long con" the likes of which George Clooney (or Paul Newman) would be proud. The problem is, Andrea has a crew, too. So it's off to the races to see which one of them will get the best of Brandt before they all end up in the slammer.

This is a fun caper novel that gets decidedly twisty by its final act. Eventually, the question becomes, "Who's really conning who?" And it's not easy to figure out who to root for, since just about everybody has an agenda (and everyone seems to be keeping secrets). I liked Will, and I get his reasons for wanting to graduate from Connaughton - everyone who goes there ends up a millionaire. The problem is, if he gets to the so-called "good life" through fraud and deception, is it really "good"? Schreiber suggests that making millions carries with it a bit of the "long con," and more than a few Connaughton graduates seem to have played fast and loose with the rules. By the end of CON ACADEMY, Schreiber does grapple with the ethics and morality of conning your way to success - and he does it without ever sounding like an "After School Special."

There is a bit of romance in CON ACADEMY, and it's not between Will and Andrea. Will meets outsider Gatsby in the library, where she works checking out books. Gatsby has secrets of her own, but she's no con artist. And it's through his relationship with Gatsby that Will begins to question his own ethics and the things he's done in the name of making money. Theirs is a sweet, slowly-developing romance that definitely works. I liked them together, and I wanted more - which is exactly what Schreiber was going for. As for the bad guy, Brandt Rush is the stereotypical rich jerk - he's arrogant, cruel, and out for blood when anyone gets in his way. It's easy to root against him, even if it's not as easy to root for the two teen con artists vying to take him down.

My only quibble - and it's not a big deal - is that at times this novel feels like it's taking place thirty or forty years ago. For some reason beyond understanding, Will Shae knows an awful lot about '60,s, `70's, and `80's pop culture. At various points in the novel he references Angie Dickinson in "Police Woman," Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" (he actually quotes from the song!), the Commodores' "Easy," and Rocky & Bullwinkle's "Fractured Fairy Tales." These are casual references, but they give Will a nostalgic patina that made me question whether he's really a teenager in 2015 (I taught high school for years, and I doubt any of my students would have any clue who Angie Dickinson was, even if they had caught an episode of "Police Woman" on TV Land).

But none of that really matters. Bottom line, CON ACADEMY is a fun read. The characters are interesting and well-defined, the plot is exciting and twisty enough to be surprising, and the ending presents a strong message without ever getting preachy. I do recommend it.

VOGLLY Women's Plus Size Short Sleeve High-Low Crochet-Front Long Blouse T Shirt Size 14 US Black
VOGLLY Women's Plus Size Short Sleeve High-Low Crochet-Front Long Blouse T Shirt Size 14 US Black
Offered by Wonder Women Show
Price: $18.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly beautiful blouse at a really great price, July 19, 2015
This bohemian-style blouse is surprisingly beautiful - considering the low price, I wasn't expecting anything this nice. The fabric is polyester, and it's very light-weight, drapes beautifully, and feels silky to the touch. If this was a lighter color, it would probably be see-through (requiring a tank or tee underneath), but the black is dark enough to make it workable on its own. The white embroidery is much nicer than I expected - it looks beautiful against the black fabric.

I usually wear a size 12 and I don't buy plus sizes, but this comes in a size 14 and I figured it might work for me. It fits me perfectly. This does suggest that the blouse may be on the small side, since it's a size larger than I usually buy. But the loose fit means it will probably fit a wider range of sizes than a more tailored shirt would. There are two covered buttons in the back, but the blouse easily slips on over my head without bothering with the buttons. But they do add a nice detail to the blouse.

I did wash the blouse to see how it held up. The label suggests hand-washing in cold water, and then drying flat. I used the gentle cycle in my washing machine with cold water - then I hung it up to dry. It came out beautifully - no shrinkage, minimal wrinkles, same silky feel to the fabric when dry. I did wash it a second time to see how it would handle the "air fluff" cycle in my dryer - that wasn't a good idea, since it came out of the dryer a wrinkled mess. I definitely recommend hanging it to dry.

The only negative is the length of the blouse - it really is longer than I'd like it to be. In the pictures, it's shown on a model as if it's a dress (which is odd, since it's being marketed as a "blouse" or "t shirt"). I would probably wear this with jeans or leggings, and it would look better a few inches shorter. But it's definitely a lovely blouse, and the length will not prevent me from wearing it.

Overall, this is a lovely blouse at a very reasonable price. It feels good on, looks good, and washes well. I highly recommend it.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Amici Baja Set of 4 Hiball Glasses - 19oz
Amici Baja Set of 4 Hiball Glasses - 19oz
Offered by Wayfair
Price: $37.99
2 used & new from $37.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely glasses, but way too big for a highball, July 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A typical highball glass holds between 8 and 12 ounces - it's usually tall and thin so the sparkly mixer (club soda, ginger ale) has room to fizz nicely. These Mexican hand-made glasses are being marketed as highball glasses (or "hiball," as the product description says). But they are very, very large - I easily got 18 ounces of liquid into each of them. They are also heavy and wide enough to make holding them uncomfortable. If I were to make a gin and tonic in one of these, I'd be on the floor after just one!

That said, they are gorgeous! I love the natural imperfections in the glass, and the colorful rims (you get one each in red, blue, green, and turquoise) are festive and fun. The glasses would be good for iced tea or lemonade, but be aware of how heavy and clunky they are to hold. I actually found myself picking them up with two hands to be sure I wouldn't drop them.

I will more likely use these as décor pieces - they look lovely in my glass-front china cabinet, placed among my crystal. I might use them to hold bunches of wildflowers - their natural, hand-made look would go well with colorful flowers.

I note that several reviewers mentioned that their glasses arrived broken or cracked, or that they broke soon after unpacking them. The ones I received were very well packaged (each was securely encased in bubble wrap, and then stabilized in the box with molded dividers). I've had them for a few days, handling them, washing them, drinking from them, etc. So far, they seem very sturdy and solid. The glass itself is quite thick, the bottoms are heavy, and even when I clinked them together (we tried a few toasts!), there was no sign of cracking.

Overall, these are lovely glasses that will look nice with just about any décor. Just be aware of how large they are - if you are looking for highball glasses, these really are too big. But they are attractive, no doubt about it!

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