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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.49
46 used & new from $9.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Consider Yourself At Home, April 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As I was reading Becky Albertalli's wonderful new book, "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" I thought about how revolutionary this book would have been to me as a teenager. To open this book and read about a teen honestly grappling with his sexuality and the coming out process in high school would have spoke to me as no other book could have. I also thought how everyday this story is for today's times, relevant and timely, and how I am so glad that books like these are available to our youth who so desperately need to see themselves in books.

Our premise is that seventeen year old Simon Spier is being blackmailed by a fellow classmate who discovers a treasure trove of emails that Simon has been sending to a mystery person. Meeting over the internet anonymously, the two have struck up a "relationship"; its basis being it's sometimes earlier to reveal yourself to a complete stranger than it is to those you love. But to whom is Simon revealing his deepest secrets to is the mystery of the story. Is it his blackmalier? Is it his best friend? Is it the cute stage manager of his high school production of Oliver? Time and pages will tell.

Imbedded in this mystery is Simon himself, fully realized, uncliched, with a rich life and richly developed, diverse friends as well. He's navigating his life, and Albertalli makes him solely unique and an entirely everyday teen. She embeds some serious realities into her story, like the pain of coming out, navigating some bullying both inside and outside his house, and the challenges of navigating a world of heterosexist norms. However, the story overall is light, beautiful and rich.

Simon steals our heart, and by story's end, you are entirely cheering him on, wishing him well, and you just know that he's on the right path, and that you are richer for sharing his.


Still Life Las Vegas: A Novel
Still Life Las Vegas: A Novel
by James Sie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is that man in the feathered cape?, April 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Would would have thought a concoction of Las Vegas, depression, mythology, Volvos and Liberace would mix together to form a nearly perfectly complete novel? James Sie does, in his new and infinitely wonderful and complex book, "Still Life Las Vegas".

A potent blend of many unique and wonderful features, this novel tells the coming out story of Walter, a mixed-race teenager working in a sad job in a run down hotel in Vegas. Walter isn't your typical plucky teen with a sardonic nature and a witty beyond years voice to boot. Walter is real; painfully real, and extremely relatable because of that. He lives with his father, who, heavily medicated, is fighting his own demons, haunted by the fleeing of his wife Emily many years prior. Walter has had to grow up on his own, become his father's mental caretaker, and navigate his life and what may become of it. All heck breaks loose in the story when Walter meets Krystos, a Greek wunderkind who performs statuary in the Venetian hotel, and the two swirl together in a mix of intrigue and flirtation. And I haven't even mentioned Liberace, who plays a off-page pivotal role in the story, as does his museum, as does mythology, which looms over all.

In lesser hands, this story could have been a mess. In Sie's hands, however, it is masterful. He manages to combine these elements to make a story that is real and surprising, odd and wonderful. Thrown into the book are a mix of pictures and graphic novel (which I wished were featured more), for Walter has the soul and talent of an artist. Together, the book works, and works beautifully.

I loved Walter from the beginning, maybe because Sie manages to avoid the snarky cliched teenager we see so often in teen lit, and gives Walter a depth to his personality that makes him real and relatable. Finishing the novel, I found myself wanting more, which is a good thing. You hope by novel's end good things for all characters, but in Sie's twisty book, everything is not as it seems, and the surprises in the story, which are gently and honestly revealed, resonate with an emotional intensity that you truly feel. He gives us hope and heartbreak, served on the same plate.

I believe this is the debut novel of James Sie. If that is the case, I cannot wait for whatever comes up next. For in Sie's hands, we get honesty, and slices of life that are rich as three cherries on a Vegas slot machine.


Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum, Advance Relief 6.8 oz
Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum, Advance Relief 6.8 oz
Price: $7.99
4 used & new from $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great product, overpowering smell, April 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My partner has chronic skin irritation issues. We constantly buy and try new lotions to see if they are effective for his hands and arms. With him in mind, I ordered this product to see his reaction to it. He's been using the product over the last several days, and reports a favorable reaction to this lotion. He told me his hands feel better after using it, and it appears to be effectively working on the dry spots on his hands, particularly his knuckles. The lotion promises a non-greasy feel to it, and he said that it initially it feels greasy and soaks into his skin quickly, with the slight exception of his palms. His biggest complaint about the product is its strong smell. It is really quite overpowering (I know immediately when he's used it) but it doesn't last. Since my partner is very sensitive to smell, it's encouraging how much he uses this product. He indicated his sisters, who share similar skin issues, would LOVE this product. So, I recommend it!


The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel
The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel
by Peter Swanson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63
68 used & new from $11.30

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Magic tricks, March 28, 2015
It's always risky writing a review that can be negative. People who enjoyed this book will look at my two stars and immediately think my review is "bad", as if my opinion takes away from the enjoyment that they felt reading this book. On the contrary, my opinion is simply my opinion and as an avid reader, this book faithfully earns its "two stars", and no more.

This is the story of a girl, who's name I can no longer remember (I finished this book last week and it's already fading from memory) meets up with a man in an airport bar in London, and the two conspire to murder the man's wife (a la "Strangers on a Train) over the Atlantic Ocean. The girl on the surface appears to be a Mia Farrow, damsel waif girl, who seeks revenge as if she were popping down the street to pick up a carton of milk. In fact, she probably has more motivation to pick up that carton of milk as was ascribed to her by Peter Swanson himself.

Although this nameless girl is the main character of the book, no where did I find clues or hints as to how she developed this nature. Am I to assume it's because of a childhood-without-rules upbringing? Is it because someone leered at her? Swanson doesn't bother with that piece. He's too busy trying to conceive a twisty plot to care about three-dimensional characters.

In fact, simply put, the author of this book is a magician. He is a magician because he manages to make cardboard characters get up and move around the East Coast as if they were real. The writing is flat, dull, and on par with that of a cereal box or VCR instruction manual.

The only reason I score this book two stars was because of one of the twisty elements in the book that happens midway through. I was caught off guard and surprised. No spoilers here. It was clever enough to earn a couple of stars, but no more.

If you are looking for a beach read, or a mindless story to entertain yourself on a five hour bus ride, or a long family reunion where you don't know a soul, this may be the book for you. If you are looking for good writing, top notch story telling, and compelling characters, I might recommend a book I just finished that I couldn't put down: The Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.


Dreams of Freedom: In Words and Pictures - in association with Amnesty International UK
Dreams of Freedom: In Words and Pictures - in association with Amnesty International UK
by Amnesty International
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.67
44 used & new from $9.56

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and inspiring, March 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a simply lovely book! It is a simple picture book, with quotes from a variety of people and a variety of artists. The people represented in the book are multicultural, and all speak to the beauty of freedom. This would be a great bedtime book for the younger ones (who are going to flip over the art work), or for older kids who can unpack these inspirational quotes and their meaning. Highly recommended for parents and teachers alike!


Gaiam Restore Dual-Zone Back Massage Roller
Gaiam Restore Dual-Zone Back Massage Roller
Price: $14.98
4 used & new from $12.73

3.0 out of 5 stars Odd and ... effective?, March 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So I opened this device and was immediately reminded of a dog toy. It looks like something Fido would chew on over a boring Saturday afternoon. This hard plastic device is "nubbed" with several raised bumps, and rather cheap looking. I didn't expect much. However, I rubbed it over my partner's neck and back, and within seconds, he commented that something "popped" in his neck that made him feel better. I was surprised. The dual ends also seemed to work for an issue in his shoulder. So, I guess this isn't going into the Goodwill box.


Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race
Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race
by Derald Wing Sue
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $48.85
28 used & new from $39.71

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an important book that details specifically how to ..., March 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an important book that details specifically how to engage in interracial conversations, possible issues that lead to miscommunication between races, and ways to navigate these discussions successfully. Embedded in these pages is information on racial identity development, and how the issue of race plays out on a national level. I found the book intriguing and interesting. Although I'm a "fan" of Glenn Singleton's "Courageous Conversations", which is more about school conversations on race, this one is geared more for the general public.

If you haven't engaged in much reading on race, this book may come as a surprise, because Sue writes honestly and openly about race, white privilege and the role it plays in our country.


Braven 770 Wireless HD Bluetooth Speaker - Retail Packaging - Black
Braven 770 Wireless HD Bluetooth Speaker - Retail Packaging - Black
Price: $133.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use for the technophobes!, March 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is my first adventure into the land of wireless speakers. Normally, old fashioned me wants to stick with hooking up into a speaker, or just listening to music with headphones. When a wireless speaker came up in Vine, I thought I'd give it a try. I was glad that I did. I'm immensely enjoying my speaker.

The speaker is built extremely well. The ease of use is what sold me immediately. I had the device operational very quickly out of the box, which is a winning proposition in my book. The sound quality is excellent, and the speaker is highly totable, so that I can bring it around with me to different locations.

If you are new to this technology, and interested in exploring wireless speakers, I'd have to give this one a thumbs up.


Michelle Obama: A Life
Michelle Obama: A Life
by Peter Slevin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.13
67 used & new from $16.73

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Michelle I Always Wanted to Know, March 1, 2015
This review is from: Michelle Obama: A Life (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Writing the biography of a first lady is a daunting business. You have a childhood to write about that may or may not be inspirational. You have the story of a presidential couple that everyone must feel they know a lot about, and the "real" couple behind the office and headlines to contend with. You also have the president, who could so overpower the First Lady as to seem diminutive and a mere echo of her husband. You also have a part of the population who, no matter what you say and/or write about a person, cannot see beyond their own political-goggles and will mercilessly attack a book no matter what the content. Peter Slevin manages to navigate successfully these potential issues in his new, fascinating book "Michelle Obama: A Life".

The story of her childhood is compelling, as she grew up on the south side of Chicago, having to contend with the pervasive racial factors that dominated the society during that time. Her parents gave her a firm grounding, insisting on education and expecting her to be a successful adult. That she fulfilled in spades.

We get to spend time with her in college, and at the start of her career. When Barack enters her life, she somehow manages to both transform and become more the woman she always was. It's a hidden testament to her character and drive, as well as her loving devotion to her husband, who was destined to be on an upward track. Even though the subsequent elections could possibly shadow the Michelle, Slevin steers the book towards her, and we get to see her both at her best and not-so-best.

In fact, Slevin writes a portrait of Michelle that is both honest and honoring. You don't feel at all that he regards her to put her on a pedestal. His intention is to tell her story as honestly as possible. The Michelle that emerges, through it all, is one of humanness, or humanity, and of considerable force and drive.

I must admit to being a Michelle Obama fan, so when this book came up for selection, I jumped at the chance. After reading it, I only admire her more. Even if you are not a fan, her story is a compelling look of one woman's journey through the heartland of America, to rise to become our First Lady. She is the epitome, mistakes and all, of our American Story.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2015 3:19 AM PDT


AccuRelief ACRL-5500 Ultimate Foot Circulator
AccuRelief ACRL-5500 Ultimate Foot Circulator
Price: $164.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Shocking" headline: Interesting device!, February 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So apparently, having electric shocks delivered through pads that you place your feet on is "a thing". I hadn't heard about it before ordering this device from Amazon. I originally thought it was some sort of foot massager, and I love a good foot rub.

However, upon plugging in and turning on, it was clear the device had a different purpose. Little electric shocks began to pulsate through my feet and into my legs. Through a hand held remote, you can adjust the shocks to increase the intensity. The first time I did it, I put it at 15. After several uses, I'm up to 30.

The effect is strange. Designed to increase blood flow into the legs and feet, it seems to work well. I can feel the effects in my legs long afterwards. It not necessarily relaxing, nor is it uncomfortable. But I do enjoy my go arounds with this device and can't help but feel that it's helping somehow. My partner also enjoys his time and uses it after me. They also include a few patches to attach, in case you want shocks delivered to other muscles. I have yet to try that, and honestly, I don't think I will!

The AccuRelief is heavy, sturdy and well made. If you are looking for a foot shocker, it's one of the best!


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