Friday, April 3, 2015

Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum Advanced Relief


I got to try this Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum lotion as part of the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program. Here is the review that I left and then additional comments about the product.

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I'm always dubious about claims of great performance when it comes to lotions and potions, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that after using this serum my skin did look and felt better. I have noticed over the years that most hand lotions within an hour or less of putting it on you see the same flaky, dry skin. I did not notice that with this lotion. When using it on my feet, not only did the skin look better, but the day after using it it still looked better and some of the calluses were easier to remove than usual.

Why the 4 stars instead of 5. I don't like the smell of this item. Reminds me of men's aftershave.

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When I do a review of a book or product from the Amazon Vine program, I do not look at what others have to say about the product as I don’t want to encourage ‘lemming’ behavior, even if unconsciously. So I wrote my review for this serum and after posting it, looked at the reviews that have been left for it. At this point in time almost ALL the reviews mention the scent as being too overpowering. A male reviewer felt that it was flowery smelling, I thought it smelled like aftershave, other compared it to room deodorizer, etc. I think the point has been made. If you are sensitive to scents, you are not going to want to use this product. If it doesn’t bother you what something smells like, then you might like to try it.

Others also mentioned the viscosity of the product. The manufacturers call it healing serum and as some noted, serum is usually a thin clear fluid. This looked and acted as a lotion just like any other kind of lotion. I thought it felt tacky the first time I tried it, but didn’t have that sensation after that, perhaps because I used way less.



The product seems to work as it should, by it is important to know some of the problems with it prior to buying. If you can test a sample first, that would be much better than buying the full sized container, especially at around $10 a pop for it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fisher-Price Thomas Wooden Railway Set

When I signed up several years ago to be part of the Amazon Vine program, I thought all I would get to review is books. Over the years, I have gotten more and more products and less and less books that I would be interested in reading. Like the last type of book I want to read is one aobut Vampires or witches and those paranormal themes and I seem to be offered a lot of those. However, I have gotten some excellent products to review and this is a review about one of them.

I love children but my youngest is going on 32 and no grandchildren in sight, so I don't have kids toys around any more. I've had plenty of opportunities to review kids toys, but with no child to help me out I've had to pass them by until this month. So here is my Amazon review about a great toy train set called

Fisher-Price Thomas Wooden Railway Set .


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Over a month ago, the lady who cleans for me had to bring her son with her as she had no one to watch him for that time period. Jasper is a real cutie-pie and is 4 years old. While he brought some crayons and a coloring book with him, it dawned on me that I had no toys at all for him to play with if he had to come again. When you have a good cleaning person you want to keep them happy, so when I was offered a chance to review this Thomas Wooden Train set I grabbed it. It came on a day that she was cleaning again so I showed it to her and asked if she thought Jasper would like to play with it and ‘absolutely’ was the answer. So I asked if she could bring him by so he could play with it.

When he came over he looked as if he was anticipating Christmas the grin on his face could have lit up a room! As soon as we got the box unpacked he started building. While he did look at the instructions a bit, typical guy, he proceeded to ignore them. Built the train tracks on his own. I only had to help with the fireworks piece which he very much enjoyed the way it worked. A little over half an hour later he asked if he could do something else and so we packed it up and got out crayons and paper. After spending about 10-15 minutes coloring, a Chevy emblem, a Case tractor (this kid is all boy!) he decided to play with the train set again. So he pulled it all out and set up his track with ‘mountains’ (pieces of track that didn’t meet but slanted off of boxes etc. Soon he was totally lost in his own little world, talking about riding the train and singing a song about going on the train. Later I asked mom if it was a Thomas the Train song and she hadn’t heard of it so in his angelic voice he was making it up as he went along playing. After about 45 minutes, it was time to go home. So I asked him to be honest (he is a Mennonite child and thoroughly understand what being honest is about), did he think this was a fun toy to play with? With a 5 star smile and he said yes! 

There can be no greater praise for a toy than that it takes the child into imagination land and they play with it for much longer than normal to be involved with one task for their age group. It was fun, and because of all the track pieces, the tracks can be put together in different ways each time it is played with. The curved track pieces are cut to be used without regard to up or down. Depending on with way you want the curve to go is how you can put it into the tracks. Everything seemed well made and sturdy. I believe that you can also buy supplemental parts for the train set for even more fun. Now on those days that Jasper has to come with his mom, he has something fun to look forward to playing with. I would highly recommend this train set! It was a real joy to watch him play as it has been a long time since I’ve had little ones playing in my home. 
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cole Shoot by Michael Maxwell

Here is a copy of my Amazon review of Michael Maxwell's 5th book in the Cole Sage series.

Yet another terrific book by Michael Maxwell. The worst thing about this book is the fact that now I have to wait until his next book, Cole Fire is finished and published before I get to read another of Michael Maxwell’s books. I hope it won’t be long. Mr. Maxwell’s, main character is Cole Sage. He is in many ways a ‘mild mannered newspaper reporter‘, but when necessary for the sake of friends and family will don his super-hero cape to bring help to them. Each of his books deals with the different evils that permeate our society today. This book deals first with gang violence and the second the care and respect our special needs mentally handicapped citizens should have. We see again some characters from an earlier book as well as they help Cole’s newspaper intern out of a very tough spot.

I love seeing that a writer can have a character function in a book without all the trappings that most seem to feel are so necessary, such as Cole not drinking, or jumping into bed with his girlfriend. Cole has a moral compass so lacking in many these days. While he doesn't follow rules blindly, he does feel deeply the ethics of the choices he makes and his decisions. This book especially shows it so very well.

There are scenes showing genuine love for people, especially Marco and Cole the first time they see each other which was a delightful scene in the book. For those that would be bothered by it, there are some scenes of gang violence in graphic detail. There are however, no scenes of gratuitous sex to skip over.

Mr. Maxwell writes from a Christian perspective yet without constant Biblical references. This book has two verses brought up by Cole’s friend Kelly. And they were appropriate and in context. One of the things that over the years that has turned me off of the regular so called “Christian novels” is the almost constant quoting of the Bible. No one seems to have a voice unless they are quoting Bible passages and that sure isn't the norm for most Christians that I have met. So even if you don’t live your life with the same religious philosophy as the author and Cole, you can still read the book and enjoy it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cole Dust by Michael Maxwell

One of the nice things that have happened since I starting reviewing books and things is being asked by independent authors and manufacturers to review their items. One day I got an email from Michael Maxwell asking if I would read and review his book Diamonds and Cole which I thoroughly enjoyed so he sent me more of his books. At this point I think I have read and reviewed 6 of his books, 4 of which are in the Cole Sage series. Cole is a newspaper journalist. Rather than being a hard drinking, chain smoking guy that many journalist are portrayed, he is different. It is hard to put your finger on it, but he is different as he defends and helps the helpless, finds the truth behind lies and is always willing to lend a hand as he keeps his positive viewpoint through out. Even though he gets a 'girlfriend' in the third book, he hates calling her his girlfriend at their age, that is what she is. Even after 8 months of dating, they are still not falling into bed at a moments notice (some novels seem to have a couple having sex before they have even changed name or phone numbers which I hate) as matter of fact, they aren't having sex at all, just appreciating each others company. As I said Cole is a different character and if you would prefer to a read books with minimal swearing, smoking, drinking and sex, yet still have a gripping tale, this books might just be for you. Below is the Amazon review I just did for the latest book I read: Cole Dust.

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I was gifted this Kindle book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the fourth book in the Cole Sage series; it leads us more into Cole’s life and some of the things that made him who he is today. Right before leaving on a planned vacation he receives an envelope that had been forwarded many times due to his having moved from Chicago to San Francisco. In the letter and subsequent phone call to the attorney that sent it, Cole finds out that he has inherited property in Oklahoma and must reside in the house for at least 30 days to avoid horrendous inheritance taxes. So he changes vacation plans and heads to Oklahoma.  He comes to find a house in need of a lot of TLC and a yard piled high with tumbleweeds. H also finds a neighbor that is the neighbor we all want, who immediately jumped in to help him bring back the house to the point he should be able to sell it.

In the house Cole finds a trunk in the attic which turns out to be full of notebooks his grandfather had written over the course of his life. His grandfather had died when Cole was around 5 years old so he never had a chance to meet him nor had his father told him much about him. Cole being an only child, with his parents gone had felt alone in the world but in a prior book had meet his daughter that he had never known he had as well as his granddaughter. Just having those two in his life felt like riches, so finding even one notebook from his grandfather felt like a treasure discovered, but he found many more than more than one. So between fixing up his house, Cole learned about the family that he had never known about.

This in many ways was a touching book in that we learned from one family what the depression, the dust bowl the Spanish flu did to the family and the small town they lived in. We see what alcoholism, bigotry and poverty can do to a family. This was an interesting book that brings insight into the life of a family. It made me wish that somehow I could find something along the order of a stack of notebooks or diaries from my grandparents as I never have really heard their background and they are now no longer with us. Sometimes just knowing what past generations went through helps us to understand why we become who we do.
 
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I hope you will take the chance to read one of his books and enjoy them as well as I do.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

I'm not quite sure where this year has gone. My blog hasn't been neglected due to not reading any books, but my Kindle sucks me in and makes it so easy to read the next book as soon as you finish one. I've had many occasions this past year to review non-book items as well, and I plan to start posting those here as well. The Amazon Vine program brings many great things into my life to try and review. My favorite item that I received last year was my  Black and Decker Convection Toaster Oven . I had never even been close to a toaster oven up to this point and so I was a complete novice upon using one. We learned fast though that it makes the best baked potatoes in the world! No more turning on our big electric oven to bake a couple of potatoes for hubby and me and no more too damp microwave potatoes. This come out perfect inside with crispy skin on the outside. Toasting my bagels is super easy as well and no getting a bagel half stuck in a regular toaster.

My latest book that I finished around midnight last night was Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight. To be published by Harper in April 2015. This was a very well written book that centered around the death of a newborn baby that was found in a creek. Written somewhat in the style of Up The Down Staircase, in that there were psychiatrist notes, newspaper articles, journal entries, blog articles and regular text it gives a rest from straight dialogue. Here is my review that I posted to Amazon.

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This is the kind of book that makes me happy to be an Amazon Vine member with a chance to read and comment on books before they go out to the general public. While at times I have had to read some strangely awful books, in other cases such as this, it is a very well written book and hard to believe it comes from a beginning author with only one other book to their name. This was an enjoyable book to read, even with the main focus being the death of a newborn, since it was a well-crafted story that keeps you guessing throughout the book.

This book not only delves into the mystery of a dead newborn found in a creek but also the relationships between people in a small university town. Rather than getting a series of perfect mom’s, dads as well as children, these people seem real. You find a mother still grieving her stillborn baby, another is grieving a divorce, while another is trying to be the world’s perfect mother and wife and alienating everyone around her including her husband and children in the process. All are subjects that most of us can relate to in some way. In the end we see the truth of the saying ‘be sure your sins will find you out’. This was a very interesting book to read and keeps you guessing throughout the whole book. A well told tale and I look forward to reading more books by this author.
 
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One of the difficulties of reviewing books on Amazon is the buzzards that want to swoop down and chastise you if in any way shape or form you write a spoiler, ie. telling crucial parts of the book before they have a chance to read it. In one review I mentioned that the woman had breast cancer which since it was mentioned on the very first page of the book it wasn't something that could be construed as a spoiler yet sure enough it was. So forgive me is my reviews seem a bit lackluster at times. The internet has given people a voice and they are determined to use it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Resistant - RIP Michael Palmer


For my Amazon review this month, I go the privilege (to me anyhow) to get a copy of Michael Palmer's last book, Resistant.  This is the review I wrote for Amazon.
 
It was gut-wrenching for me to read this book of one of my favorite medical-thriller authors. While I've had other favorites that announced they would be retiring, none have ever died in the midst of a brilliant writing career. I was fortunate enough to read and review one of his other books that he sent me and also had several email exchanges, so in many ways he felt like a personal friend. Michael died in October 2013 when he had apparently finished most of this book, Resistant, and his family took it the rest of the way to complete production. It is hard to think that I will never get another new book of his to read. I tried to read this one slow to make the moment last, but as with all his books I got caught up in the story and the pace of the book and finished it way too soon.

This book was about a strain of bacteria that was resistant (hence the title) to all normal forms of antibiotics and had been released by a domestic terrorist group as a way to motivate the government to cancel out all entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, etc. Of course many in the group lived in luxury so they felt a different sort of entitlement. Dr. Lou Welcome, a recurring character in Michael's last few books, becomes heavily involved for personal reasons in trying find a cure for this bacteria that in Lou's words “turned the inside of a body into liquid”, and not nice liquid. We are introduced to a new character that Lou became great friends with named Humphrey Miller, a brilliant man with the worst kind of cerebral palsy. I could see him in further recurring roles in other books and the same with Lou's friend Cap whose life was changed forever in this last book. Of course there will be no further books, but I could see that the author would have already been plotting what kind of story he could pull off with his characters next.

Besides introducing Humphrey to us and the difficulty he faced as a man with so little control over his own body that people thought he was an idiot, instead of a man whose IQ was probably completely off the charts. Humphrey showed us that we need compassion and the will to treat people like him as normal people.  He also brought up the necessity for the world to quit taking antibiotics for the common cold and anything else that with time would cure itself. All of our overuse of antibiotics as a people hasn't discouraged the germs but has only made them tougher and harder to combat. If we aren't careful, we won't need a group of terrorists to release them on us, we will be inviting them in through the front door so to speak.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written as usual and moved along at a quick pace. It was the epitome of the type of books that Michael Palmer wrote and wrote so well. It didn't disappoint.
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One of the things I never do when writing reviews is read any review of the book before I write mine. Needless to say, I was stunned at the poor reviews this book received (I gave it 5 stars) most of the reviewers claiming it to be too liberal and political, boring and all sorts of other things but mostly hammering on the political leanings that they felt were in the book.

Writing a review for Amazon is like walking through a mind field, at least it is for me. If you give anything about the story away whether intentionally or not, you are jumped on for spoiling the story for the next one who might read it. One book that I read had it's entire story based on a wife whose husband had been working in a high paying career died suddenly and she was destitute and ended up having to go work on a farm. When I mentioned in my review that she should have filed for Social Security as a widow with dependents, I was jumped on with the oddest logic for why I was wrong to even think such a thing. Wishing I could make that little symbol for rolling eyes here!

 So anyway, seeing all these reviews that kept talking about how political and liberal this book was, with of course, no actual examples in the ones I read, I put my mind thinking about it. Well, the whole concept of this book was based on a group of 100 people (neighbors) that thought they could 'fix' our country but only if they follow what these 100 decided was good and necessary. I saw no talk or implications of a political party, or being right winged or left. What I saw were a bunch of crazies that thought if they could undo many of the programs in our country, then the US would be as it should be thanks to these 100, but in the meantime they had no compunction in killing people if it furthered their agenda.

I thought the book was well written. I enjoyed it. I didn't find it 'political' in the sense the other reviewers did. I wish I had another of his books to read now, but know I will never again get a new one unless somehow I missed reading some of his earlier books. Thank you Michael Palmer for many hours of pure reading pleasure which for me is the only reason for reading a fiction book.
 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Anne Perry Part Two

Last night I finished reading Anne Perry's Half Moon Street. This book helped me to understand why I like to read books in a series. You get to know the author and their style of writing and what they feel is important. In the first two books that I read of hers, I could see that she brings much in the way of social commentary and problems into her books and proves the point that everything old is new again, or never went away in the first place and just gets worse. In one book she discusses the Irish question which helped me understand in an historical context why there is still so much problems between the Catholics and Protestants there.

Half Moon Street, takes place approximately 150 years ago. In this era, some women were starting to question their roles in society and why they were dependent on their husbands for everything and had to do what the husbands told them to. In the last few years in England the laws concerning husbands and wives had changed and women were no longer consider to be their husbands property and they were able own things, like their underwear and hairpins, in their own right. Theater performances, etc were still highly censored by the chief Chamberlain. Any play that delved too deeply into women's inner most thoughts and gave them voice was closed down. All this laid the groundwork for the societal problem that was considered in this book: pornography. Cameras were new and photography clubs seemed to abound looking for the best way to show light, water, shadows etc. to make for the best and and most beautiful photographs. With the good of photography came the evil of scandalous pictures sold only to certain customers in the back rooms of picture shops. Women that were so inclined at times posed for these photos that no real lady would ever do or even acknowledge that such pictures could possibly exist. It was a huge change from only a few years previously when women were hemmed in on every side.

The murder that Superintendent Pitt is investigating was that of a man that had been found murdered, chained in a rowboat wearing a torn velvet dress in a suggestive pose. After finding out who the deceased was, to find his murdered, they had to go down the rabbit hole of pornographic photos to find out the why and who. At one point Pitt saw a picture and realized that once seen he would never be able to erase it from his memory. Then he thought of his children and what they would think of human nature and most especially the relationships between men and women if they saw something like this. That was the main point that was brought out, even though the person may not mind themselves being in such pictures but what of their children and how would they respond to see their mother or father in these nasty pictures?

A very interesting book to read. I look forward to reading more of Anne Perry's books, but at this point I have four new books to read and review for Amazon and my Christmas present book stack to read before I can get back to her.