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Lily Love
Lily Love
by Maggi Myers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
19 used & new from $8.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE MANY FACES OF LOVE, July 30, 2014
This review is from: Lily Love (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are all sorts of love - the love you have for your child, the love you share with your significant other, the special love that sibling's share, the love that grows from chance encounters and the fleeting love of caring strangers who come in and out of your life. With LILY LOVE author Maggi Myers has touched on all of the above as she takes the reader on a voyeuristic journey into the life of a woman dealing with a special needs child while simultaneously attempting to find some peace and comfort in her own life.

Since this book explicitly details the daily challenges faced by a woman with a special needs child and since Ms. Myers other novel THE FINAL PIECE also deals with the same subject matter and also because her novel's dedication page contains the same message as the one penned by Lily's mother Caroline in her novel, I am fairly certain that either Ms. Myers or a close friend or family member does indeed have a special needs child that has provided the author with an up close and personal view of struggles and obstacles confronting all caregivers.

Ms. Myers must also be a pop music enthusiast hence her use of various appropriate song titles as the headings for each and every chapter (she even devotes two pages at the end of the book to recognizing the recording artists who made each ditty a hit).

There are a few instances early in the book where Caroline's angst over her daughter's situation and her somewhat selfish need to be Lily's one and only caregiver, the trauma of her divorce from Peter, and her self-imposed guilt trip take on a maudlin and mawkish tone but Ms. Myers manages to regroup, diverting her protagonist and re-directing her onto a more positive path. This is a graphic illustration of overcoming the hurdles that confront each of us before we learn to accept and appreciate how mysterious and beautiful life really is. Overall, not a bad read. 3 ˝ stars.


Sherpani Spirit Horizontal Yoga Gym Bag, Heather Black, One Size
Sherpani Spirit Horizontal Yoga Gym Bag, Heather Black, One Size
Offered by HAYS INC
Price: $64.90
6 used & new from $64.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN ONE PURPOSE, July 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A lightweight sturdy yoga bag that holds all of your gym needs and then some. Not only is this a wonderful gym bag with plenty of room for mats, towels, extra clothes, etc it can also double as a handy "carry on" for short trips since it holds more than enough clothes and toiletries to take you through a long weekend with ease. If you're looking for an all purpose addition to your "luggage" that takes up very little space when traveling (and easily fits into an overhead bin) look no further than this little beauty from Sherpani.


Lisette's List: A Novel
Lisette's List: A Novel
by Susan Vreeland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ART HISTORY IN DISGUISE, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Sue Vreeland's LISETTE'S LIST is essentially written on two levels and while it does an admirable job in recounting certain aspects of WWII as well as presenting an art history lesson focusing on the fate of paintings by Pissarro, Cezanne, Picasso and Chagall during the German occupation of France it is not as effective in fulfilling expectations in the areas of plot intensity nor in character motivation and development.

Lisette, the title character, is a Parisian girl raised in a Catholic orphanage where she experiences the beginnings of her appreciation of art. After her marriage to Andre she reluctantly relocates to his home town in Provence in 1937 in order to provide care for his elderly grandfather Pascal, a man who has accumulated several works by the aforementioned masters. Pascal's reminiscence concerning his acquisition of the various works becomes part and parcel of the story.

With the outbreak of WWII and the Nazi occupation of France, Andre enlists in the military, but not before hiding his grandfather's precious paintings and Lisette is left to try to assimilate into a town where some view her as an outsider who resists their culture and provincial ways while a handful of others befriend her.
In the ensuing years Lisette overcomes many obstacles and the reader is invited to follow along as she copes with everything from Nazi's looking for Pascal's paintings to the unwelcomed advances of a local townsman to learning how to make cheese, all the while bent on determining the location of the missing paintings.

When one takes a step back and considers the overall story, it is obvious that this book succeeds less effectively as well plotted work of historical fiction than it does as a primer into the history and interpretation of certain works of modern masters and their use of ochre pigments within those works.

As a long standing fan of Sue Vreeland, I am sorry to admit that this is not one of my favorites.


When the World Was Young: A Novel
When the World Was Young: A Novel
by Elizabeth Gaffney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars COULD HAVE USED A LITTLE LESS SOAP, July 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG by Elizabeth Gaffney uses a Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and a select group of its inhabitants to tell its story. Gaffney has managed to encapsulate a time in U.S. history from post WWII to the"police action" in Korea and give the reader an overview of those times. Throwing into dramatic relief an era of wartime situations and focusing primarily on the emotional sacrifices made by four women during this time period as well as the changes in social convention the reader is swept into the lives of Wally Baker, her mother Stella, grandmother Gigi and Loretta the maid - the person who provides the emotional glue that sustains these women through trying times. Confronted by separation from loved ones and multiple losses these women are forced to face their challenges as well as the consequences of the choices they have made.

This is a novel that will take you back to a time when rationing was the order of the day and the women on the home front, who had previously been delegated the roles of homemaker, stepped up to display a strength and power they had been previously required to keep under wraps.

Told from the viewpoint of Wally, the young protagonist, the book also deals with, among other things, interracial relationships, infidelity and suicide. If all of this sounds like it might be a promising basis for a soap opera, you could be right. While the book does hold the reader's interest as it examines this particular time in history, it is also a little "over the top" in the amount of calamity that it heaps on one family. For that reason 3 ˝ stars.


Then and Always: A Novel
Then and Always: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FAREWELLS AND DREAMS FULFILLED, June 27, 2014
Part fantasy and part love story THEN & ALWAYS is compelling in its examination of how a person's life can change dramatically based upon a single event playing out differently. The narrative shifts back and forth between events in September 2008 and December 2013 and is told primarily from the viewpoint of Rachel Wiltshire, a woman who is scarred both inside and out and whose life has been one of conflicted emotions following an accident and a tragic loss.

Now, another accident has landed Rachel in the hospital and she awakens to a life that if entirely different from the one she remembers living over the past five years. Her family and friends all insist that this new and improved life is in fact her reality and that her recent accident has scrambled her memories.

The story moves back and forth between these two different lives Rachel could be living with unbelievable results that engage the reader in this beautifully complex and moving story. You will need to keep the Kleenex handy while you read this tale of love, fate and second chances.

Albert Einstein once observed, "There are two ways to live your life - as if nothing is a miracle, and as if everything is a miracle". THEN & ALWAYS is one of those thought-provoking books that could make even the most skeptical among us believe in miracles.


Friendswood: A Novel
Friendswood: A Novel
by Rene Steinke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SEEKING JUSTICE AND RESOLUTION, June 21, 2014
This review is from: Friendswood: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Similar in theme to other "based on a true story" epics like Erin Brockovich and Fire Down Below this is another tale of toxic waste dumped by a huge corporation that exposes the residents of a small town to the damaging and often lethal effects of their actions. In the case of FRIENDSWOOD by Rene Steinke, the development of housing units on and adjacent to the contaminated ground and the death of her only child drive one woman to start her own surreptitious investigation in her Texas community in an effort to expose a monumental cover-up which involves not only an ambitious business enterprise but a complicit EPA as well.

It is Steinke's laser like examination of interconnected lives of various members of this Gulf Coast community and their motivations that drives this narrative of cause and effect. From the alcoholic real estate agent and the young girl who has unexplainable visions to the high school football jock and the grieving mother each character is sharply drawn and their individual accounts propel the narrative as each of their personal experiences and incentives are revealed.
This is a psychologically stimulating chronicle involving complex and intimate personal observations that draw the reader into the immensely relatable dilemmas confronting each character and their means of coping with the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Resplendent with atmospheric writing that draws the reader in from page one as well as a history lesson that seems to point out that there is such a thing as déjà vu.


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Offered by Vi-Tae®
Price: $53.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT QUITE THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, BUT PRETTY CLOSE, June 18, 2014
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and no where is that statement more true than with Vi-Tae’s Jojoba Facial Scrub. It’s color (army fatigue green) made me question whether I wanted to put it on my face or not. Fortunately, I was attracted by the wonderful smell (probably the lemon peel and cedarwood oil) and decided to chance it. Well, all I can say is that I’m glad I took the leap of faith because my skin has never looked better. Not only do the exfoliating properties gently get rid of all of the old, dead skin cells that made my complexion look so dull and lifeless – it also tightened my skin and helped hide the fine lines that are a plague to all women as we get older, giving my face that youthful polished look I had at nineteen Best of all, while this product definitely does the job it is gentle and does not contain any of the beta-hydroxy or glycolic acids present in so many of the other products on the market. (I had a bad experience with one of those and ended up at the dermatologist’s office).

Now that I have begun using Vi-Tae’s product I wondered how I ever lived without it. It’s almost like having a professional facial in your own home – at a third of the cost. I’m sold on this product. Thank you to Vi-Tae for the opportunity to use and review their Jojoba Facial Scrub.


Guests on Earth: A Novel
Guests on Earth: A Novel
by Lee Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.90
129 used & new from $1.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FACTUAL FICTION, June 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While the title of this novel is drawn from an excerpt of a letter written by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter Scottie and the book opens with an Associated Press news article concerning the March 1948 fire at the North Carolina hospital for the mentally ill in which Fitzgerald's wife and Scottie's mother perished, Zelda Fitzgerald is, for the most part, a secondary character in this astute look into mental illness and it's treatment in the 1930's and 40's.

As the book opens, the narrator Evalina Toussaint is recounting the events in her life that brought her full circle from the New Orleans French Quarter and the bright lights of Paris to the Highland Mental Hospital and eventually back to New Orleans. This is Evalina's story and her views are the primary focus as she reminisces about how she came to reside at Highland and her relationships with hospital director Dr. Robert Carroll and his wife Grace, as well as the various staff members and "guests" of the establishment. Lee Smith, known for bringing vivid characters to life, has adeptly taken real life notables like Zelda and Dr. Carroll and his wife and woven them into the lives of her fictional creations to create a wonderful tapestry that never loses sight of its emotional core.

Full of atmosphere and featuring a fascinating cast, Lee Smith illustrates for us what it is often difficult to see clearly, that most people struggle to understand what occurs in their lives as they attempt to cope with the challenges of a changing world, and that the line between mentally ill and normal is a very thin one.


Looking for Me: A Novel
Looking for Me: A Novel
by Beth Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
95 used & new from $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOTIVES AND UNDERSTANDING, June 16, 2014
Read by the very talented Jenna Lamia , Looking for Me is a beautiful novel with evocative Southern settings that made a long, long drive more than bearable. It presents a view that is Southern in vernacular but modernized in a way that other Southern stories often are not. This is a tale about family, sibling love, following your dreams, holding onto memories instead of things, and making peace with the past.

From the time she was a young girl Teddi Overman found beauty in the old furniture she lovingly rescued and refurbished while her brother Josh discovered his brand of beauty in the birds and animals that inhabited the forest adjacent to their Kentucky farm. Defying her mother’s wishes that she pursue a more “secure future”, Teddi leaves the family farm immediately after graduating high school for Charleston, SC to live out her dream of restoring and selling antique furniture.

Meanwhile, Josh becomes a passionate environmentalist bent on saving his beloved animals from poachers and those who abuse animals for sport. He disappears into the forest one Thanksgiving Day and never returns to the family home.

Twenty years have past and Teddi has slowly come to an understanding of the motives driving her mother and her brother and her father’s dark secret. She has built a new life in Charleston surrounded by an unusual company of friends, customers and employees but she has never given up hope that her brother is alive.

I will not go any further into the storyline lest I ruin the enjoyment of discovery for readers. Suffice to say, this is a book that will take you on a real roller coaster ride filled with plenty of laughs, a few tears, and lessons on accepting the past while building toward your future. Beth Hoffman has provided readers with a story they will love from the very first page and an emotional experience they will not soon forget.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2014 8:14 PM PDT


We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel
We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel
by Matthew Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.52

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOUR LIFE IS SHAPED BY THE END YOU LIVE FOR., June 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
WE ARE NOT OURSELVES is filled with masterful dialogue, insightful observations about marriage and what constitutes real success, emotional scenes that crackle, and flawed yet sympathetic characters whose aspirations and foibles come alive as their stories unspool.

Born in 1941, to Irish working class parents, Eileen Tumulty is raised Queens, NY in an apartment where finances are thin and alcohol is a means of coping with the rigors of everyday life. Eileen's big dream is to escape her dreary existence and move up the social ladder. Enter Ed Leary, a quiet, unassuming professor/research scientist, who is nothing like the men Eileen has grown up with and appears to be the answer to her prayers. They marry, have a son named Connell, and Eileen attempts to motivate her husband to bigger and better things in both his professional life as well as their domestic circumstances. They have achieved a certain level of economic prosperity and Ed appears to be satisfied with the status-quo while Eileen aspires to bigger and better things.

Then comes the discovery of Ed's early onset Alzheimer's and the trajectory of the individual lives of the Leary family are forever altered. Lessons are learned and the importance of loving one another is brought to the forefront. Matthew Thomas has rendered each of his characters with compassion and his writing rings with a conviction and emotional honesty that delves into truths that are bittersweet and ultimately timeless. This is one of those rare novels in which the individual parts are so brilliantly rendered that together they form a near perfect reading experience.

To quote Thomas Merton "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them".


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