Winter Driving Best Books of the Month Men's Leather Watches Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Stephen Kellogg All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Amethyst Jewelry Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer jstfd6 jstfd6 jstfd6  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Shop Now SnS
Profile for Tanstaafl > Reviews

Browse

Tanstaafl's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1041
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,554
Helpful Votes: 4576


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Tanstaafl RSS Feed
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Other Side of Silence (A Bernie Gunther Novel)
The Other Side of Silence (A Bernie Gunther Novel)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Joining in at entry #11., February 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bernie Gunther, ex-everything, once again becomes the star of a Philip Kerr novel. This is a mixture of mystery and suspense that takes place some time ago with characters who were adults during WWII. There is even some literature thrown in via W. Somerset Maugham's appearance as a character. So, we are given a selection from the history books to go along with the mystery. Plus it all has a setting that few are familiar with.

Everyone has a past, and the past plays a significant part in how the story develops. The reader gets to move among society's A-list contingent, visit houses, mansions and maybe even a few with pretensions toward castlehood. There are some bad people in this book. There are some that are worse. There is a lot of time spent on that past that might already be known to readers familiar with the series.

This is the second time lately that I have jumped into a series that has been around for a while. I decided to see what the success had been based on. I can understand its popularity. While this book can be enjoyed without having read the others, I think having followed Gunther throughout would add a lot to the enjoyment of this volume. Like the previous series I jumped into late, I might pick up another but don't have much of an urge to see what I've missed.


Switcheroo (A Gideon Oliver Mystery)
Switcheroo (A Gideon Oliver Mystery)
by Aaron Elkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.37

4.0 out of 5 stars A switch in time costs lives., February 9, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My first exposure to Elkins' Oliver comes at episode 18. I've known of the series but always found myself with so much to read that starting another serial author's output was never all that interesting. And, until not too long ago, I've never wanted to read a series in any order other than that in which it was written. Thus, I have way too many books that are volumes 2 to whatever in series that I never found that I wanted to read past part one.

My new way of dipping my foot into an author's pond, pitch filled or not, allowed me to sample an adventure staring Gideon Oliver without having to first have traveled with him on seventeen other excursions. That worked out quite well. To perhaps write what should be the last sentence of my review in paragraph two, I have little interest in reading vols: 1-17 but would be willing to give number 19 a shot.

The setting of Switcheroo, the island of Jersey, was different enough to carry the story. The small city right next to the manor houses of the country was quaint enough to be a kind of British “cozy” mystery and the characters were right out of Central Casting for a BBC mystery. The “crimes” themselves were normal fare with a few twists thrown in for uniqueness. And, the back story was of enough interest to fill enough pages to make the book the right length.

What caused me to only give the book four stars (and perhaps only three it the setting hadn't been as fun) was that the mystery part wasn't all that mysterious. Only the final pages had enough to make the ending satisfactory. So, even though I've given away my ending, I found this to be an enjoyable way to spend some hours of my reading time. You could do far worse than grab this for yourself.


Oster Personal Induction Cooker/Burner with 9 Heat Settings, 1100 Watts, Black
Oster Personal Induction Cooker/Burner with 9 Heat Settings, 1100 Watts, Black
Price: $57.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Fifth burner., February 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is useful. Though most of the time my wife and I just cook for the two of us, we often cook extra to freeze for quick meals later. Larger pots and skillets leave little room for regular sized pans on the other burners. Solution? Have another burner. Our center island has an electric outlet and this Oster cooker is perfect for there. It is large enough for sauce pans but doesn't take up too much room.

Of course not all pans will work on an induction cooker – just those that are magnetic. This comes with a refrigerator type magnet for testing pans and it also has a quick reference chart for the settings. There are nine levels of heat from Why Bother to Stand Back (my words, not Osters).

There is actually a helpful manual with instructions and suggested settings for various tasks. The use is simple, but does take a little getting used to. If you pick up the pot the burner goes into standby mode. You put the pot with its contents on the burner and then turn it on – no pot, no power.

This Oster burner is fast once it gets up to temperature. I did not (and won't) do a time comparison with our gas range, but it is immediately at temperature. The time difference, if there is one, is minor and far outweighed by the convenience of this extra burner.

This is not something we will use every day but, like many of our small appliances, it will be used – and appreciated – when needed. Good idea. Very attractive. Oster quality.


Double Switch: A Novel
Double Switch: A Novel
by T. T. Monday
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Relief pitchers have a lot of free time., February 6, 2016
This review is from: Double Switch: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
That's true even when they are at work. Johnny Adcock (from page one to page last I thought of him as Joe, the first baseman for the Braves about half a century ago) is such a player, conveniently divorced, conveniently well off money-wise, and clever enough to play private investigator as a hobby.

Baseball is a world unto itself. No clocks, no (supposedly) contact, only a few players actually “play” at any one time, and there are statistics available for every aspect of the game. Those have been compiled back to the invention of the game sometime just after dirt, sticks and rocks were invented. Baseball players at the major league level represent all peoples of the world, but Latin American players make up a significant proportion of the rosters.

This story is about one of them from Cuba. There may (or may not) be something shady with how he came to play ball in the states. There may (or may not) be family problems involved. There may (or may not) be a cartel at play. There may (or may not) be murders related to the maybes (or maybe nots). Joe's, uh, Johnny's job that isn't a job is to figure out what's (or what's not) going on and put a stop to it if it shouldn't be going on (or not).

Coincidence seems to be the common plot mover in mysteries. I can't remember the last time that the “hero” didn't personally know the only three or four people in the entire world who would be able to help him. And, they all answer the phone themselves when he calls and are never in meetings or on the pot. Never. I can't get family to talk with me without offering money (so I obviously will never have a mystery written with me being the “hero”).

Even with the “I don't believe that for a second” moments, this was enjoyable. It is a one evening's read with enough action, humor, baseball lore, sex, violence, booze and people who do not frequent the places I hang out to make it different. If you like light mysteries, then this could be one for you.


Shaker: A novel
Shaker: A novel
by Scott Frank
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.36
50 used & new from $12.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not “From the movie”, but “For the movie”., January 23, 2016
This review is from: Shaker: A novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This has an interesting premise. The book description made this a book for me to grab. But, what was produced was a movie script masquerading as a novel. Each moment is written with cameras in mind. Each part of the book is written for movie audiences more than readers. Given the author's background, I guess that should come as no surprise.

The characters are too conveniently representative of every possible group on the planet. Plus the combination of events and characters is just way too stereotypical. Those two factors will help fill seats. Add in one character who is either brilliant except when inept or vice versa, and another who is brilliant except when being self destructive or vice versa. Then let the two bad-guys-as-heroes fill the pages with their life stories as well as current events. There are even earthquakes thrown in for special effects (Spoiler, but no surprise: the earthquake aftershocks always come at the most opportune moments in the story. Think: “Main character needs help so cue the earthquake.”)

Not horrible, but few surprises, way too many coincidences, and way, way too much with Hollywood in mind. I didn't like it. Per Amazon's star chart, that's two stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2016 7:22 AM PST


Charcoal Companion CC7855 Himalayan Salt Plate & Holder Set, 8 by 8 by 1.5"
Charcoal Companion CC7855 Himalayan Salt Plate & Holder Set, 8 by 8 by 1.5"
Price: $42.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful without even getting it near food., January 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Even prettier with something good to eat on it. Until a few months ago I did not know this product existed. Then, our son was given one for Christmas and was going on and on about it. I figured that someday I'd find out what it did with fool at his house. Hah!

First, the things that could be bad (only a few) if the instructions aren't followed: don't forget and stick it under water or even under the faucet, don't use it on an electric stove, and don't plan on using it quickly for food. It has to be preheated for at least half an hour.

Even though this is simplicity in itself, there is a learning curve. Things do cook a little differently than when cooked directly on the grill or in a skillet on the gas stove. But, it's worth some learning to do some things differently than I've been doing them for several decades.

Burgers are always the first test – with onions, of course. This plate is just large enough for two decent sized burgers and enough onions to go on them (we like lots of grilled onions). Works great, but some testing is needed depending on how well done you like your burgers. Hot dogs taste different with Himalayan salt. Grilled veggies come already salted. I'm not as fond using it with cold foods. Maybe that just takes more getting used to. And, clean up is easy.

Notes I've made for myself: Remember to dry well and let sit for at least 24 hours. Don't try to use regular pot holders to move the plate. Don't salt stuff before cooking. Do set a timer in pre-heating and sit with a book while that's underway. And, don't let it out of my sight when my son comes to visit. (He's wanting a second one due to that 24 hour drying thing.)


South Main Hardware 848110 5 Inch Hook and Loop Fastening Cable Ties, Black 10-Pack, Small
South Main Hardware 848110 5 Inch Hook and Loop Fastening Cable Ties, Black 10-Pack, Small

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handy ties., January 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I remember when you had to make your own ties like this by gluing hook & loop strips back to back and hating the waste unless you wanted to spend way more time making some hybrid type thingie. Those homemade strips were thick, inflexible and after a few attempts I went back to some type of tape. Then easily used ready-made strips like these became available and they were hard to find and relatively expensive.

These from South Main Hardware are very strong, flexible, thin easily reusable and affordable. What more could I want? Nothing when it comes to these. That's why I gave these five stars.


Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World
Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World
by Tim Sultan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.09

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where nobody might know your name., January 19, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The thought that I first had when looking at this book's description was about a science fiction series by Spider Robinson, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. While they actually have little in common, of course, there is a common feeling about them. That feeling is different from Cheers, which isn't an out-of-the-way bar. Over the years, I've had occasion to find a few such places as Sunny's or Callahan's (without the actual time travelers, though some tried very, very hard to accomplish something similar). Those places are not just “little” or “quaint” or even “neighborhood bars”. There is more to it that, when thinking about it, might really be related to time travel.

Sunny's was a real place with a real history run and frequented by real people. They weren't (necessarily) people with Stories (cap S on purpose) that made them different or special. In the main they were just people looking for a quiet place to have a beer and maybe some conversation. It is interesting how such places seem to attract people who are nothing alike but will be comfortable in the company with one another.

Sunny himself is portrayed as a bigger-than-life guy with an ability to tell those big S Stories. If you have never known a “storyteller” then you might not know that the pleasure of being in such company is knowing that some, much, perhaps most of the story is filled with things that never happened or, at least, never happened as it is being told – but not knowing which parts that applies to. I had a relative who was such a storyteller and we knew that the only way to figure out which parts were really true (or really not true) would be to listen to the same stories multiple times (not a problem) and see which parts never changed.

The author's part in the story of Sunny and the bar is not a small part of the book. His life became entwined with Sunny's and the tale that gets told is one of dedication, love and friendship. I don't know that such will be written about people in the future because today's world is not as conducive to the development of such characters. I do know that I haven't run into such in quite a while. That's a shame, but - I'm glad that I read this.


I Don't Like Where This Is Going: A Wylie Coyote Novel
I Don't Like Where This Is Going: A Wylie Coyote Novel
by John Dufresne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.40

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining for a while., January 16, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book was enjoyable and the pages were nearly flipping themselves when it all came to a halt a little more than half way in. Our intelligent protagonist, Wylie Melville, suddenly became unbelievably stupid. Really, really, really out of character dumb. At that point I said to myself “I Don't Like Where This Is Going”.

I did not want to read another page since what was coming up was too formulaic. I won't spoil the story by revealing what was coming around the bend. However, I will state that I started hearing “Dueling Banjos” coming from somewhere and the volume grew louder the further I read. (Disclosure: I ordinarily love the music but sure didn't want to hear it then.)

A 4-5 star book changed itself into a 2-3 star one because I kept reading only to get to the end and close the cover rather than to enjoy myself through the last page. While Dufresne has writing ability, the blurb comparing him with Raymond Chandler is quite wide of the mark. Not horrible but less than it could have been.


Brawny Paper Towel Roll, 6 Count
Brawny Paper Towel Roll, 6 Count

3.0 out of 5 stars Why change what has worked so well for so long?, January 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This review is about the change in the product, leaving out the tube, and not the towels themselves. I tried this product on both a normal tension horizontal holder (no center support) and on a metallic center vertical rack.

The towels did not want to turn on the small plastic ends of a horizontal holder nearly as well as a tube does. Especially past midway through the roll. This was especially noticeable doing the one-handed grab and pull method of getting a towel quickly. While that will sometimes pull a tubed roll off the holder, it was more a problem with these.

The vertical stand did work better, but again it was more difficult to pull off towels the closer to the end I got. The remaining towels tried to flex and slide down the vertical wires.

The towels still work. But, the advantage to a roll over a stack of loose towels is the ease of use. The removing of the tube negates much of that advantage. I now know why the tube has been the standard for so long.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20