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L. F. Smith RSS Feed (E. Wenatchee, WA)
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Perfidia: A novel
Perfidia: A novel
by James Ellroy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.31
73 used & new from $17.84

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars James Ellroy is a pretty demanding author, July 31, 2014
This review is from: Perfidia: A novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
James Ellroy is a pretty demanding author. His style is utterly distinctive and unusual, to say the least. This book is a good example of that.

Perfidia is the first volume in a projected "Second L.A. Quartet." It features many of the characters who populate his earlier "L.A. Quartet" and "The Underworld U.S.A Trilogy." When complete, the eleven books will form a history of the dark side of Los Angeles-- and of the US-- from 1946 - 1972. This book, then, is a prequel to the rest of the books.

This book is tells the story of the three weeks beginning with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of Elroy's most distinctive qualities is the way he develops such a powerful sense of time and place. When you read this book, you are THERE, immersed in an exceptionally complicated, interlocking set of plots and subplots. It's a long book-- 700 pages-- but it captures you. Unlike some reviewers, I didn't feel that any of the subplots or characters were no more than padding. The book has a unity-- a wholeness-- that it wouldn't have if any of them were edited out.

However, also like other reviewers, I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I've liked his earlier work. It took me a while to figure out why, but for me, the issue is that in his efforts to intertwine the plots and characters across what will be an eleven book series, he tried just a bit too hard. That is, there's no particular reason for the way that a number of characters from the earlier books just sort of appear in this story every so often. It's not that this is aggravating or unsettling; it's just that it seems to push random events a bit too far.

However, I liked the book a lot. It rewarded me well for the time and effort I spent reading it. I recommend it highly for readers new to Elroy and for veterans of his books. In fact, for the veterans, the book is an essential read.


World War I: The Definitive Visual History
World War I: The Definitive Visual History
by R. G. Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.05
39 used & new from $22.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, June 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderful book. It's a coffee table book, printed on heavy, high-quality paper, loaded with hundreds of photos and maps and brief but good explanatory text. It's important to recognize that the book is not a scholarly work, so it's not reasonable to judge it as one. Those looking for deep analysis of primary sources should look elsewhere.

My bottom line: A beautifully produced that allows the reader to gain a broad understanding of World War I. Well worth reading-- actually savoring.


Logitech Z313 Speaker System
Logitech Z313 Speaker System
Price: $39.99
85 used & new from $13.95

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality at a value price, May 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's possible to find speaker systems for computers that are insanely expensive. Individual tastes and needs will obviously vary, but how critical is sound quality for computer systems? Most of us just want good quality sound when we're playing music, watching videos, or gaming.

This Logitech system is a nearly perfect combination of quality and value. The speakers are small, so they won't fill a concert hall, but they will fill an averages size room. The sound is quite good. The system is simple plug-and-play; there's really no setup needed at all.

I recommend this system most highly. Good sound at a very good price.


BlueRigger High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 3 Feet (2-Pack) - Supports 3D and Audio Return [Latest Version]
BlueRigger High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 3 Feet (2-Pack) - Supports 3D and Audio Return [Latest Version]
Offered by BlueRigger
Price: $24.99
5 used & new from $4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Value and quality!, May 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's easy to find insanely expensive cables for AV setup. There seems to be a notion that good quality sound and pictures require high-priced cables. Of course, research shows that's not true. On the other hand, low end cables do indeed sometimes introduce noise into the signals they're carrying.

BlueRigger cables are a nearly perfect combination of quality and value. They work very well, with no noise or interference. At the same time, they don't cost a fortune. I've bought a number of BlueRigger cables of various kinds, and every one of them has worked without the slightest problem.

I recommend BlueRigger cables most highly.


Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone
Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone
Price: $14.79
21 used & new from $11.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent microphone, May 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an excellent microphone.

It's small and unobtrusive, so it can be clipped to clothing without being seen. It's an unpowered microphone, so there's no messing around with replacing or recharging batteries. There's no setup of any kind; you just plug it into your recorder and go.

It's possible to spend a lot of money on audio gear. However, spending a lot doesn't always get you much better quality equipment. This microphone is a good example of that. It's not hugely expensive, but it works and sounds just as good as much more expensive units.

I recommend this microphone most highly. It's a nearly perfect combination of quality and value.


Planning For Long-Term Care For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))
Planning For Long-Term Care For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))
by Carol Levine
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.96
45 used & new from $10.77

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important guide, May 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is an important guide to an issue that will eventually affect nearly all of us: How do we make decisions regarding the way we or our loved ones will spend the final months or years of life?

Most people really don't want to think about those issues. That's understandable, but we need to think about them. Our physical well-being and our finances depend on advance planning them.

That's what makes this book so important. The author very clearly explains the various medical, financial, and legal issues involved. She points out the options we have and explains the pitfalls that need to be avoided. There are many links and lists of outside resources that can be accessed.

There is absolutely none of the attempts at cuteness that afflict some other "for Dummies" books. The topic is serious, and the author treats it that way. She clearly respects her audience and the subject matter.

I recommend this book most highly. It might be the best starting point for the planning we all need to make for our later years that can be found.


The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses
by Kevin Birmingham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
70 used & new from $13.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and important book, May 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an interesting and important book.

Most of us were exposed to "Ulysses" as 19- or 20-year-old college students. Most of us found it puzzling and maybe even disturbing. Some of us even found it disappointing. That's because we were led to believe that it was erotic, and we found that we had to wade through hundreds of pages of dense text to get to the good parts.

That made the controversy over the book we were also told about very puzzling. How could anyone think it was a dirty book?

Well, they did think that "Ulysses" was not only dirty, but dangerous. People could-- and actually did-- go to jail for trying to publish it or even bring it into the US. This book is the story of how and why the book came to be written, why that mindset existed, and what eventually happened. It is a complicated, fascinating, and important story.

It's hard for us to believe it now, but less than a hundred years ago, the idea of "freedom of speech" did not apply to books. It took many years of struggle by many people to change that, and this book demonstrates how "Ulysses" was central to that change.

The author does a great job of explaining how Joyce came to write the book and why the book came out the way it did. Of course, that's been done before. The author's real contribution is the way he details the extremely complicated events that led to the book's publication and the legal processes that ensued. He manages to make his account read like a fast-paced legal thriller. That's no small thing, since he's writing about Constitutional law much of the time.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a rare combination of a compelling page-turner, literary criticism, and legal scholarship. Sounds unlikely, but it really works well. I recommend it most highly.


Sony Digital Flash Voice Recorder
Sony Digital Flash Voice Recorder
Offered by Deals-USA
Price: $149.99
12 used & new from $149.72

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great personal recorder, May 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This little Sony is a great personal recorder. It's very compact and lightweight. The controls are simple and intuitive. The battery recharges via USB, and it holds a charge very well. The sound quality on playback is very good. The built-in microphone does a very good job, even if the recorder is in a shirt or coat pocket. With the addition of a plug-in lapel microphone, the sound is nearly perfect.

I've found this recorder to be ideal for practicing presentations. It's also great for recording meetings, speeches, etc.

For me, it's a great combination of features, usability, quality, and price. I recommend it most highly.


iWork: The Missing Manual
iWork: The Missing Manual
by Josh Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.73
69 used & new from $16.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one manual you need, May 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is very literally the missing manual for the iWorks suite of programs. Apple offers no documentation at all for them, other than online tutorials.

This book is typical of the missing-manuals series. It offers very complete, easy-to-understand instructions for the newest versions Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Importantly, it covers the OSX and iOS versions of each program. This is critical, since they are intended to be companions, connected via iCloud.

There are abundant screenshots for nearly every important instruction, and the book is in general very attractive and readable. I can't think of anything I wish it had included or anything that should have been omitted.

This is the one manual you need in order to get the most out of the iWorks suite. I recommend it most highly.


Sony ICFS79W AM/FM/Weather Band Digital Tuner Shower Radio (White)
Sony ICFS79W AM/FM/Weather Band Digital Tuner Shower Radio (White)
Price: $45.49
65 used & new from $40.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Great bathroom radio, May 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great bathroom radio. It's moisture resistant, compact, and fairly attractive. More importantly, the controls are very easy to operate, even with wet hands, and it sounds very good. It has a weather band that is very useful.

I think it would be hard to do much better than this for a bathroom radio, and I recommend it most highly.


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