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Dear Committee Members
Dear Committee Members
by Julie Schumacher
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.90
104 used & new from $3.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully dark and snarky, July 18, 2016
This review is from: Dear Committee Members (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Julie Schumacher has written a wildly amusing collection of recommendation letters in the character of Jason Fitger. Fitger is an English professor in a beleaguered English department in a small liberal arts college. His department is chaired by an outsider from the social sciences, and the Economics department is slowly taking over their building, renovating all the space except the English floor, and in the process is poisoning the English department with asbestos and bitterness. Fitger was once a brilliant novelist of a predictable sort: the privileged white male with "deep thoughts" and complex relationship issues. He's alienated his ex-wife and mistress(es), but as they work in other departments and schools in his orbit, he communicates with them via the recommendation letters.

Each letter in this epistolary novel is ostensibly to recommend a mediocre student of Fitger, but he uses the majority of his space to humblebrag, wax nostalgic, insult the recipient, undermine the recommendee, and assert his own self interest and ego. The man is incapable of writing a recommendation letter that actually fulfills its purpose. In doing so, he does what every college professor wishes they could: be snarky and occasionally honest. Fitger is our collective id, saying what we all wish we could say, but know we can't (if we want to keep our jobs and help our students succeed). But Fitger's ego is his undoing. While the majority of college professors can stay professional long enough to complete the task of recommending a student, Fitger almost painfully tanks every letter he writes, shaming his women, insulting his peers, and ruining his students' chances, all the while believing himself a martyr to his department and profession. A narrative of sorts emerges: Fitger attempts to find another year of funding for a grad student teetering on the edge. He attempts to reconcile with his lovers. He tries to reconnect with a friend. We see these characters slowly emerge through the veil of Fitger's medium.

You feel for Fitger, but you also become as exasperated as his ex-wife must be. Fitger can't get over himself in order to help others. After a shock at the end of the collection, Fitger seems chastened, perhaps somewhat transformed by what has happened and his part in it.

Schumacher's slim novel is a must-read for college professors, students, and anyone fascinated or repulsed by the academy. The characters are occasionally a little too true to life.


Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags (Lavender Sweet Vanilla, 80-Count Bags)
Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags (Lavender Sweet Vanilla, 80-Count Bags)
Price: $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars These bags do the job, July 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love these bags. Much tougher than Glad ForceFlex bags, and the scent is less intense than the Febreeze options from Glad. The mega pack is a great value too. The bags can take a beating from pointy objects straining against the plastic, and they tamp down pretty well when you're too lazy to empty the garbage and prefer to keep shoving more in the bag! The handles are pretty strong too.

They DO NOT withstand cat chewing, but unfortunately Hefty does not make titanium garbage bags.


Julep Feels Like Velvet Eye Full-Coverage Eye Shadow Duo, Coconuts/Cabanas
Julep Feels Like Velvet Eye Full-Coverage Eye Shadow Duo, Coconuts/Cabanas
Price: $20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Great natural combo, July 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This eyeshadow compact is great. The shadow goes on velvety with very little dusting on your under eye (unlike Bare Minerals, which ends up everywhere but your eyelid). This particular pairing is subtle enough for daytime work wear, but with a heavier hand and some eyeliner it can easily transform into a night combo. I love the darker shade. I took one star off for the sparkle in the lighter shade. I love a matte eyeshadow, and this has too much sheen for me to really love it. But, the sheen is less pronounced than that of most drugstore brands - and it's almost impossible to find this color combo in matte anyway. The size is average, will likely last for several months with daily use, and the compact includes a mirror (but no applicators, so get our your brushes).


Happy Belly Breakfast Blend Ground, Organic Fairtrade Coffee, Medium Light Roast, 12 ounce
Happy Belly Breakfast Blend Ground, Organic Fairtrade Coffee, Medium Light Roast, 12 ounce

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair-Trade, "bright" morning blend - average, June 16, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a hit or miss relationship with words like "bright" and "breakfast blend" on my coffee packages. But man cannot live on dark roast alone, so I gave this a shot. For breakfast coffees I usually enjoy Seattle's Best in a 3 or 4, or Peet's light brown bags, which may tell you something. Happy Belly Breakfast is very light - the coffee itself is a very light brown. The aroma of the unbrewed coffee is weak with a bit of a tang. Brewing the usual five "cups" (it's not a real cup, but whatever my coffeemaker believes a cup to be - 5 cups equals 2 mugs), I used 5 heaped tablespoons of ground coffee. The resulting brew was acidic and syrupy, a taste I associate with "bright" coffees. I got a stomach ache after one cup, which usually happens if I stray too far from my African dark roasts. If "bright" is a label you like on your morning coffee, you'll be okay with this. It may be too strong for some - it's not a blonde roast.

The coffee is Fair-Trade Certified, if that's important to you.

You get 12oz per package. For me, it's not worth $9.99 for 12oz. I'm happier with $5 12oz. Seattle's Best or $9.99 Peets.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2016 4:08 PM PDT


Freshwater Cultured Pearl 8-8.5mm Sterling Silver Drop Earrings
Freshwater Cultured Pearl 8-8.5mm Sterling Silver Drop Earrings
Price: $39.21

3.0 out of 5 stars decent, not great, April 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These earrings are good, not great. The box says "made in China." I assume they mean the earrings, but I guess they could also mean the box. The attachments are sterling silver, and the pearls are pearly looking, but no one will confuse them with the expensive variety. They also drop a little weirdly - at a strange angle. I guess my ears could be at a weird angle too. Fair enough. They do have a nice weight to them, and the glue attaching the pearl to the silver isn't visible. Definitely more interesting than pearl studs.


SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick 200GB (SDWS4-200G-G46)
SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick 200GB (SDWS4-200G-G46)
Price: $93.56
32 used & new from $79.53

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wireless...ish, February 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The 200GB SanDisk Connect Wireless will hold A LOT of stuff. You can keep photos, music, video files on here. This is how it works:

To upload from a PC - you MUST plug it in to the USB slot.
To upload from a mobile device - install the app, back up your stuff to the drive wirelessly.

You CANNOT at this point upload wirelessly from a PC, which is somewhat misleading of the product (calling itself Wireless and all). I only learned this about this limitation after finding the user guide on the SanDisk connect website. You MUST plug the device in to the PC to upload any material (like a Word doc or whatever). Upload from a mobile device is slowish. Uploading directly to the plugged in drive from your PC is quick for small things, but can take a very long time for larger files.

How does the Wireless part work? You hit a button on the side of the drive, connect to the drive as if it were a wireless network, then access whatever is stored on it without having to plug it in. I'm not sure why this is a really awesome feature, as there are no situations I can think of where it would be really inconvenient to just plug the drive in to the computer, but I'm sure other people can think of scenarios. The wireless backup of photos, etc. from mobile devices might be useful to those who don't have a lot of space on their smartphones.

4 stars for the capacity of the thing, but I just can't see why someone would pay over $100 for this wireless capability if it doesn't allow one to wirelessly upload anything from a PC. A regular high-capacity drive would do just as well.


CLEAN Eau de Parfum Spray, Warm Cotton, 2.14 Fl. oz.
CLEAN Eau de Parfum Spray, Warm Cotton, 2.14 Fl. oz.
Price: $72.00
2 used & new from $72.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting and Clean, December 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This perfume is just delightful. Like clean laundry, warmth, and happiness. There's a bit of a soapy smell that lingers after the top notes (citrusy) have faded. It's not a strong scent, but it's a comforting one. Marc Jacobs, Dior, they say, "Look at me!" but Warm Cotton says, "Be with me."


House of Marley EM-JA008-BK Chant BT Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black
House of Marley EM-JA008-BK Chant BT Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black
Offered by Book Robot
Price: $95.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy connectivity, good sound, December 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Design: First off, this speaker is really cool looking. The design is top notch. It's small, maybe a little bigger than a can of veggies. The wood is painted bamboo and the material below is sort of denim-like. There's also a little carabiner clip on the side to clip this to your backpack or something.

Sound: The sound is loud! That's hard to get with bluetooth speakers, generally. But the sound is also a bit hollow - sort of canned, a little blurry. So probably not going to be your go-to quality speaker, but if you're looking to have a party, listen to music while cleaning the house, have some background noise, this speaker will definitely do its job. You're just not going to get incredible sound and clarity from a bluetooth speaker under $100. For the price and what it does, I'd say this speaker succeeds in its category.

Connectivity: VERY easy. Just turn on your phone's bluetooth, then turn on the speaker. It connects automatically, no need to pair it manually (for my iPhone anyway). The controls are simple: turn on, connect, volume up or down. You can also control the volume with your phone.


Nature's Truth Melatonin 12 mg, Natural Berry Flavor, 60 Count
Nature's Truth Melatonin 12 mg, Natural Berry Flavor, 60 Count
Offered by TheOnlineDrugstore
Price: $12.90
4 used & new from $11.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Ill-tasting Coma, November 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Take one of these, and then you have 10 minutes to get to a safe place. Enjoy your coma.

Most melatonin pills come in 3mg or 5mg doses. These work okay, but it may be 45 minutes before they start to work. That's fine if you remember to take them in time. This pill is a whopping 12mg. If you let it dissolve in your mouth (and my face just twisted into a disgusted sneer while typing this), you will feel the effects with 10-15 minutes if it's your regular bedtime (I can't speak to whether these work on a well-rested person at 4pm). I was completely knocked out, and when I woke up a little dazed. Make sure you have 8 hours to let this wear off.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND letting it dissolve. It tastes like biting into an Advil: nasty, bitter, astringent, and lingering. If you swallow it instead, it will take maybe 30 minutes to work, and the coma is less intense. Either way, don't even think of driving after taking one of these. It really is an effective, prescription-free sleeping pill. The bottle even warns the newbie to take half a tablet at first and work up to 12mg.

All in all, I don't think I'll be using this brand again. Natrol makes a 10mg dissolvable melatonin that tastes MUCH better (almost like candy), and works nearly as well. 5 stars for doing what it's supposed to do (if a little too intensely), negative stars for taste.


Case Logic InTransit 14" Laptop Daypack (RBP-414)
Case Logic InTransit 14" Laptop Daypack (RBP-414)
Price: $45.74
8 used & new from $41.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Small backpack, excellent protection, November 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of the smallest backpacks I've tried out. Previously I had used a big Jansport - not an attractive or well-padded bag by any means, but it fit a lot of stuff in it. This is, by contrast, a very nice, well-padded, sturdy bag. The seams and lining are all well-stitched, without errant threads or unraveling stitches. The laptop/tablet pocket, the largest compartment, is very well-padded, both along the back where the bag hits your body, and around the front and bottom of the pocket, protecting your laptop against drops or jostling. I have a 13" laptop with a sleeve, and it fits perfectly. Honestly, you probably don't need a sleeve with this bag, for protection anyway. A bigger laptop may be hard to wedge in there.

There are plenty of pockets: two open side pockets, one zippered side pocket, a front packet for your wallet or something, a bigger interior pocket for a couple books (but no more than that), and the laptop pocket. Above the laptop pocket is a shallow pocket for your phone. There's an additional pocket hidden in the back panel, where you could store your wallet or phone against your body to prevent theft when the bag is on your back. Inside the bigger pockets there are additional panels, pockets, and zippered pockets. So there's no shortage of pockets. There is, however, a shortage of space. If you have to carry a bunch of schoolbooks, a laptop, binders, etc., you're going to want something much bigger. This bag won't serve as an overnighter either. But, as a working commuter's backpack, it's pretty great, your stuff is secure, and the quality is great.

As for comfort, the bag has twice the padding of most backpacks. It also has an additional front handle if you happen to grab the bag from the bottom. There are also elastics designed to hold the folded up straps, so any excess material from the adjustable straps doesn't dangle. On the whole, it's an attractive bag, and I'm not embarrassed to carry it around on days I don't use my briefcase.


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