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Mark "Technology, Music and Movies" RSS Feed (East Coast)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (#1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (2008 HOLIDAY TEAM)   

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SKLZ Kool 'N Fit Sport Performance Spray
SKLZ Kool 'N Fit Sport Performance Spray
Price: $9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars SKLZ Performance Spray - Not A Believer, January 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
SKLZ Kool 'N Fit Sport Performance Spray is advertised to help you have a faster warm up, better work out and a faster recovery afterwards. This product provides no real information on how it is supposed to deliver on those promises.

The menthol and camphor in the ingredients are bound to produce a pleasant sensation. And if the odor is similar to Vicks Vapor Rub, it's because the active ingredients are so similar. I know nothing about the effects of juniper berry and peppermint oils, other than the additional aromatic qualities.

But will this actually help you perform? I doubt it. And I have no clue how it's supposed to speed up your warm up or aid in your muscle recovery.

CONCLUSION

This may have some real benefits, but I noticed no benefits during or after my workout. I will believe it when I see an actual study supporting this product's effectiveness. On the other hand, the product does not appear to be able to do any real harm. And you may like the odor and sensation it provides.


One Sweet Quarrel (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries)
One Sweet Quarrel (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries)
Price: $3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars One Sweet Quarrel – A Good Story Bookended By A Slow Start And A Disappointing End, December 7, 2013
One Sweet Quarrel is a novel ranges from very good to underwhelming. It is a disappointment in so much as Deidre McNamer is clearly accomplished at the craft of writing. I do not use those words lightly. But ultimately, what could have been a great book is derailed by some of the author’s creative decisions.

This novel has a very slow start. That may be part of the reason why it initially alienates so many readers. Yet there are reasons why the writer may have chosen to build her story that way, to show the mundane lives these people led before each of them finally had a shot at their dreams. And by the time I was three quarters through the book, I was prepared to shower it with glowing praise.

Yet for very different reasons, I think this book largely represents a missed opportunity. The last quarter of the book feels underwhelming. Perhaps the writer has done that to communicate how underwhelming life can be. Yet if that was a conscious decision, it is one that has left this reader feeling very unsatisfied.

The author also chose to explore many tangential characters and their lives. In and of itself that need not have been a flaw. But it was the way those characters and storylines were explored that was flawed. In many cases it seems to come at the worst possible time. The final letter from Carlton is a case in point. While so many questions about these characters remained unanswered, reading Carlton’s banal discussion of insurance feels like filler at best.

Despite these drawbacks, I am glad to have read this book. I wish there was more time given to the actual boxing match and the immediate time period leading up to it. And in that sense, I think the author could have strengthened the plot structure by creating more of a climax around the story’s central plot point.

CONCLUSION

There are not many books of historical fiction that I know of that center on sporting events, much less boxing. And for those drawn to this story for that reason, they are bound to be disappointed. What this book does succeed in showing is the author’s keen understanding of human nature and the fundamental lack of fairness in life. But the central plot point is little more than wall paper for this story. And in that sense, it’s a missed opportunity.


Lonely Planet Discover Germany (Full Color Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Discover Germany (Full Color Travel Guide)
by Andrea Schulte-Peevers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.37
82 used & new from $12.83

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lonely Planet's Discover Germany - A Great Guide Book, September 19, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lonely Planet Discover Germany (Full Color Travel Guide) is a great new guidebook from Lonely Planet. It is written in a direct style. It is organized in sections to cover different regions of the country, with sub-sections on specific cities and landmarks. And each section includes high level maps and quality photographs to bring the content to life.

It's hard to use a lot of guide books while travelling. Most of the ones that are comprehensive are a little too large and unwieldy. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, many of the more concise guide books have great color photos but don't give you nearly enough information for your trip. This book is kind of a good balance between those two extremes. It is packed with details and tons of high quality photographs, but it is edited down enough to make each section easy to use.

As an added bonus, a more detailed fold out map of Berlin is included in the back. For those who plan to make Berlin the center-point of their trip, this will come in handy.

CONCLUSION

This is a very useful guide book that is well thought out and full of good information. It brings to light parts of the country that most Americans rarely see, allowing you to prepare for your trip regardless of how far off the beaten path you want to go. And while it is not thin, it is a good size to easily fit in most purses and travel bags. Recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2013 10:41 PM PDT


Infinite Products VectorGuard Screen Protector Film for iPad mini - 2 Pack (IP00697_F)
Infinite Products VectorGuard Screen Protector Film for iPad mini - 2 Pack (IP00697_F)
Price: $10.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Infinite Products VectorGuard Screen Protector for iPad Mini - Functional But Costly, September 18, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Infinite Products VectorGuard Screen Protector Film for iPad Mini - 2 Pack (IP00697_F) is a functional product. Like most screen protectors, it comes at a premium. It gives your device basic screen protection but the durability could be better. It is similar in thickness to the Infinite Products PhotonShield Anti-Glare and Anti-Fingerprint Screen Protector Film for iPad Mini - 2 Pack (IP00701_F) but does not have the anti-glare properties.

PROS:
++ Custom designed with cutouts for the Apple iPad Mini
++ Basic screen protection with maximum clarity
++ Does not interfere with the device's touch screen
++ Includes a cleaning cloth and a small applicator card
++ Includes 2 screen protectors so you have a backup
++ Online installation videos are provided at "screenprotector dot TV"

CONS:
-- Plastic surface seems easily scratched by the applicator card (cover it with the cleaning cloth when smoothing out the surface)
-- Applicator card is small, less effective than a credit card for smoothing bubbles
-- More costly than other screen protectors
-- No warranty information is provided

CONCLUSION

This product provides basic screen protection without glare reduction. It comes at a premium but it's worth considering.


Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse
Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse
by Dorothy Ours
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.30
37 used & new from $6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battleship - A Well-Researched, Inspirational Slice Of History, September 18, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse is not just the story of a famous race horse. It is also the story of America, the UK and the world of horse racing at a pivotal time in history. It's the story of a young rider driven by his father's shadow. And it's the story about a young DuPont heiress, and how she bucked convention to make a name for herself in a male dominated world.

All of the intersecting threads make this a very ambitious book. The result is that the book often feels very dense. The author is constantly trying to put things in context, referring to related aspects of the story in asides and tangents. She weaves a lovely tapestry that does engage the reader. But this is not a quick or easy read.

The extensive research that went into this book is evident even from early on. And the deeper you get into this story, the more astounding it becomes. It's amazing that she was able to do the research to resurrect so many of the facts of this story. And her writing style brings them to life, reading in many places like more of an epic novel than a book of history.

CONCLUSION

This book is part epic and part history. While it is clearly very well researched and densely layered with story lines, it is as a consequence sometimes overwhelming. But for those who take the time to work through and digest the rich story lines, this book will pay many dividends. I enjoyed reading it and I hope you do too.


The Sixth Station
The Sixth Station
by Linda Stasi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.29
94 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Sixth Station - Interesting Concept, But Flawed Execution, September 18, 2013
This review is from: The Sixth Station (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Sixth Station has been compared to the books of Dan Brown, but it can only be compared to them superficially. The central ideas behind this story are related to those of Dan Brown's books. There are a good number of conspiracy theories wrapped around religious and historical back-stories. The author relied on her journalism background in crafting her central character, which initially provides the hope of a different twist to the Dan Brown formula.

But the execution of this book is flawed. The protagonist is snarky and judgmental, not qualities I would generally associate with journalists. The characters are cookie cutter at best, with an emphasis on the superficial. And since the story is told through the lens of this protagonist, we get the benefit of her snarky comments about every aspect of this story.

But perhaps the most annoying thing about this story was that the author constantly over-uses foreshadowing and innuendo. She does not trust the reader's intelligence, and when she tries to plant any kind of clue to how the story will develop, she throws in some language that amounts to a giant sign that reads "clue here!" And yet we never really get the pay-off that she promises us.

This book still manages to provide some guilty pleasure, and despite the very annoying narration I found myself drawn in. I wanted to see how the author developed the plot line. Sad to say it, the good concepts that underlie this story were largely undermined by poor pacing. There is a lot of waste here that could have been edited out. Even for a story that fits squarely in the realm of the implausible, most of the twists are predictable.

CONCLUSION

This book is largely a disappointment. Yet despite the flaws, it does have a quality that kept me reading. This might appeal to some readers who are looking for light fare, yet such a controversial and heady topic seems out of place with a "fun read." The underlying questions posed by the book largely remain unanswered at the end. Considering how many cookie cutter elements are used to piece this story together, that is perhaps the most disappointing thing of all.


Infinite Products PhotonShield Anti-Glare and Anti-Fingerprint Screen Protector Film for iPad mini - 2 Pack (IP00701_F)
Infinite Products PhotonShield Anti-Glare and Anti-Fingerprint Screen Protector Film for iPad mini - 2 Pack (IP00701_F)
Price: $19.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Infinite Products Anti-Glare Screen Protector for iPad Mini - Tough Install, Marginal Value, September 18, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Infinite Products PhotonShield Anti-Glare and Anti-Fingerprint Screen Protector Film for iPad Mini - 2 Pack (IP00701_F) for the iPad Mini is a functional product. But like most screen protectors, this one comes at a premium. It gives your device basic screen protection with diminished glare, and it also protects against fingerprints and smudges. All anti-glare protectors slightly diminish clarity. But the real downside is that despite the premium, this protector is difficult to install without bubbles. The included applicator card is small and may actually scratch the protector if you don't cover it with a cloth. So the durability could definitely be better.

PROS:
++ Custom designed with cutouts for the Apple iPad Mini
++ Glare reduction helps in indirect sunlight
++ Basic screen protection, with smudge and fingerprint resistance
++ Does not interfere with the device's touch screen
++ Includes a cleaning cloth and a small applicator card
++ Includes 2 screen protectors so you have a backup
++ Online installation videos are provided at "screenprotector dot TV"

CONS:
-- Plastic surface seems easily scratched by the applicator card (cover it with the cleaning cloth when smoothing out the surface)
-- Applicator card is small, less effective than a credit card for smoothing bubbles
-- Screen protector slightly lessens screen clarity
-- More costly than other screen protectors
-- Not enough glare reduction for reading in direct sunlight
-- No warranty information is provided

CONCLUSION

This screen protector provides some glare reduction, scratch resistance and fingerprint resistance. But it comes at a premium. It's worth considering but is not a clear cut recommendation.

Enjoy.


The Color Master: Stories
The Color Master: Stories
by Aimee Bender
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.36
60 used & new from $7.79

4.0 out of 5 stars The Color Master - A Masterful Collection From Aimee Bender, September 16, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Color Master: Stories is a great collection of stories. Those who love imaginative literary fiction should find a lot to enjoy here. The writing here is direct and can be enjoyed on the surface level. Yet it also has a dreamy quality, if only for Bender's ability to write fantastic and improbable story lines in such a matter-of-fact way.

Beneath the surface, I often sensed that there was something more, some allegory or satire. I can't say that I felt I fully understood any of these stories to that degree when I was done reading them. I can say that this collection was enjoyable from start to finish, and that it invited me to read slowly and re-read the stories when I was done. That, in and of itself, is saying something.

Aimee Bender is a writer I have heard a lot about. Unfortunately, I have not read all of her work. So I can't put this collection into the context of her other books. But I don't think I have to. This collection stands alone. In fact, each story lives as its own entity. While that is a testament to Bender's skill, it also may make it hard for some to appreciate how good of a collection this is.

At times her stories do wander, incorporating tangents in a way that adds to the mystery of her purpose. It is clear that she is skilled in the technical elements of fiction and story-telling. It's just not always clear what her purpose is in the specific story lines she has put together.

CONCLUSION

This is an engrossing collection of stories. Those who are giving plot synopses of these stories are barely scratching the surface. This is fiction written with grace and skill. While I can't pretend to understand everything beneath the surface of these dreamy stories, I can say that I look forward to continuing to try.

Enjoy.


V8 Chocolate Peanut Butter Complete Nutrition Bar, 1.72 Ounce Bars (Pack of 6)
V8 Chocolate Peanut Butter Complete Nutrition Bar, 1.72 Ounce Bars (Pack of 6)
Price: $9.99
6 used & new from $9.89

4.0 out of 5 stars A Protein Bar And Candy Bar In One, September 12, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
V8 Chocolate Peanut Butter Complete Nutrition Bar, 1.72 Ounce Bars (Pack of 6) is a good meal supplement bar. It does have the familiar after taste of a protein bar. But it also has the sweetness of a candy bar, with the chocolate being on the darker end of the spectrum. While these kind of bars are an acquired taste, this one is easier to adjust to than many others.

These bars are somewhat high in sugar so they are not ideal for those who need to control their sugar intake. But for everyone else they are worth a try.

Enjoy.


How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
by Ken Ludwig
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.93
84 used & new from $10.38

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good, August 29, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is not a casual read. It is surprisingly effective though, not only at learning how to teach Shakespeare, but at learning about some of his key works yourself.

The author's approach centers on memorization. That is not something I thought I would have agreed with. However, actually reading the book and working through the author's examples, it's an approach that becomes surprisingly convincing.

The book centers on twenty five passages from various Shakespearean works. But the author uses the themes and techniques from these passages to highlight more universal ideas. In that sense, I think that one can not only come away having memorized these 25 passages. One can also have a better appreciation and understanding of the language and imagery of Shakespeare.

The author has also placed a lot of background information on Shakespeare in the book. These asides are carefully located in places where they add insight into his work.

CONCLUSION

This is a book that takes a traditional approach to a traditional subject. Yet it does it in a novel way. It is effective and highly readable. The author's admonition to memorize these passages out loud means this will not be ideal for the beach or the commute to work. But for those with an interest in learning Shakespeare and sharing his work with their children, this is a book that meets the objective.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2013 10:28 AM PDT


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