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Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I) (Churchill Biography)
Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I) (Churchill Biography)
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, once you're used to the manner of presentation, April 29, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Largely consisting of excerpts from other materials, I found the book off putting at first. The nature of the book is acknowledged from the beginning, so it wasn't a matter of surprise, and other readers may find it endearing from the start.

However, as Churchill the subject gets older, he comes into the voice which all of us know, and it's steady going after that. The interstitial material is fine, and it's interesting to see Winston Churchill's relationships at this young age. Through the author's own contributions and that of his subject and others, the early story of Winston Churchill presents itself in an interesting form. It's more immersive, too, as one becomes accustomed to the manner in which people communicated well over a century ago. Of course, it helps that the subject led a fascinating life from the very beginning. Fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt find interesting parallels here and there.

Churchill's money problems crop up early, and it might be well to keep in mind how much we owe to them, that is, how much more he wrote than he might have if was financially secure. As Churchill's books from this time period are in the public domain, further reading is not expensive and well worth the effort.


Ground Zero: A Zombie Apocalypse
Ground Zero: A Zombie Apocalypse
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun ride, February 23, 2015
Some things happen too fast, like the characters had been reading too many zombie novels. But the problems are few and pretty minor. There's gore, but no wallowing in it. I'm looking for the next one by Mr. Ryan.


French Translator
French Translator
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, one remarkably stupid flaw, February 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: French Translator (App)
I'm looking for something to translate on the fly when my wife and I visit Paris. Depending on my high school French would have been a bad idea five years later, forty isn't better. This is very convenient and seems accurate enough. I've tried others, and gotten an add for every push of a button. This one has a banner, which is fine, and an occasional popup, but it justifies the word "free" far better than some.

Still, one flaw seems to follow all of these apps. I try to get a translation for "thirty-five" and I get "35". Thanks, friend, but I'm pretty sure I already knew how to make the Arabic numerals for that. What I wanted was French. Now, put yourself in the shoes of the programmer, who thought this was what people wanted? How could that possibly make sense?

Yes, it's minor, but I'm hoping someone associated with the program will read this, think "I am soooo stupid" and fix it. It could happen. In the meantime, thanks for "Je ai visite ici il ya quarante ans, je ai tellement aime que je suis revenu." I'm sure it'll be appreciated.


Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth [Online Game Code]
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth [Online Game Code]
Price: Click here to see our price

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Should Get Better, January 21, 2015
Keep in mind that Civ5 now is not what was released as Civ5. That's important because, with any luck, Beta Centauri will be great before too long.

Don't get me wrong, CivBE is fun now. It's different enough from Civ5 to be worth buying (but definitely wait for a sale). True, you look at the screen and realize that "energy" is just money and "health" is just happiness, used to slow down rampant city building (or taking). The diplomacy interactions are very much like Civ5 as well, right down to the tedious "you're friends with X? Wow, so am I maybe we're all bffs?" Every. Single. Time. From both parties.

Still, the alien life adds a twist, as does miasma. The quest system is new and interesting enough. The attitude toward the alien world makes the faction system seem more real that the one in Civ5, which struck me as "you picked a different bonus than the one I picked? I hate you so much!"

The start system is something I like. Yes, you pick which side to play, but then you make several other choices which can affect your playstyle even with the same faction. Granted, these aren't all that important, for most you can pick "random" and not gimp yourself, but they're a nice addition. Your starting location will affect your affinity choices as well, since each of the three relate pretty closely to resources on the map. Also, the second map layer, Orbitals, adds strategy elements without being overly complex. The technology web is very nice, a little clunkier than Endless Space, but it works well. The Virtues system is an improvement over Civ5, too. All in all, the game has a lot going for it.

There are many annoyances which hopefully will be taken care of. You pick the map size, but the game picks your number of opponents. The game prompts you to do many things which matter very little ("your city can shoot that meaningless and harmless bug!"), yet there is one victory condition which depends on clicking the victory building 20 times on 20 turns, does the game remind you to click that? No, that's just what we'd be expecting the game to do. In fact, even if you click on the building, the map will refocus on the city that can fire at the bug, or whatever else the game thinks you should be doing instead of, you know, trying to win. It's not a big deal, but you do get the sense that the developers haven't played this game all that much, or that they had so many other concerns that UI issues were often ignored. You wouldn't have to try that victory condition many times to have the game's constant attempts to distract you with "your worker needs orders" to recognize the problem.

Still, CivBE is fun to play right now. If you're looking for a Civ5 type game that isn't Civ5, you'll enjoy this. It's different enough to be a different game, not just a skin on Civ5 (play it a bit before you decide otherwise, it might look like that, but only at first). Well, except for money and happiness.


Tower of the Sun: Stories From the Middle East and North Africa
Tower of the Sun: Stories From the Middle East and North Africa
Price: $9.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Totten Book, December 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm a fan of the author, and this book did not disappoint. Running the gamut of the Mideast and North Africa, Tower of the Sun was part travelogue, part history book, part political guide. From Morocco to Tunis, Libya, Egypt and his one time home in Lebanon, Totten goes where the news is and gives you a perspective you're unlikely to get anywhere else. Well worth the time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2015 7:57 AM PDT


The Independent Guide to Disneyland Paris 2015
The Independent Guide to Disneyland Paris 2015
Price: $6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful, December 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have been to WDW many times and we're planning a trip to Disneyland Paris. This guide, by a former Disneyland Paris CM, was a great read. It has already helped save money with one suggestion, and others seem like they will help as well. If you're planning to visit Disneyland Paris for the first time, it's not like there are many other guides out there to choose from. This one has depth and covers the rides, the area and offers advice on many aspects of the parks. We enjoyed it and recommend it.


Versailles
Versailles
by Gérald Van Der Kemp
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from $13.42

5.0 out of 5 stars The Hardcover is Huge, a nice coffee table book, November 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Versailles (Hardcover)
One of the reviews complained of a small pamphlet instead of a coffee table book. That person just got the wrong product. This is a huge book capable of both teaching you about Versailles and fending off burglars. The content is mostly worthy veribiage about the Chateau, coupled with impressive photos. I can't vouch for how up to date it is, I haven't been inside since 1976, but if you're looking for a chance to look inside Versailles to tour the world from your couch, or pre-enjoying a planned vacation, the book is very satisfying.

It's true, these days you can see more and learn more online (the HD Youtube tours are nice), but this is enjoyable to have in your house just tempting you to pop open to a random page and start seeing Versailles long before your computer would even have booted up.


Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager
Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager
Offered by Matrix Games
Price: $44.99
3 used & new from $40.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but definitely not for everyone, November 8, 2014
I played Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space (BARIS) way back when, and I still remember the pain of getting Gus Grissom killed on a mission. This is in many ways BARIS 2.

First, the user interface is very old school. Scroll down to the end of your Mission Controller list? Click the other arrow for page two. Seriously. A scroll bar AND a set of page up page down buttons. The graphics within a mission are a combination of NASA and Clutch Cargo. The Kennedy Space Center screen is modern looking, but there are no tooltips, you click the magnifying glass to pop up a list on the upper right and a number on each building. Couldn't someone suggest putting printed words on the screen near the buildings themselves? I could do better in Paint.

Still, we're not playing BARIS for the graphics, or the UI, we want the Space Race. Here, the game is fun. If you liked BARIS, or you like the idea of training scientists, mission controllers and astronauts to run a few dozen intermediate missions and get your man on the moon first, this is the game for you. You take on the role of manager of the USA or Soviet space program, or, if you're feeling European, you can create not only the EU but the EU's space program in 1955 (choosing generally copies of the USA/USSR programs). In some ways the game is about deciding what shortcuts you can get away with. You pick the launch vehicles to use, and those to skip. My first game, on easy (aka "Normal"), I tried to do everything and had to take some chances at the end (when the Rooskies had men circling the moon) with skipping Apollo missions.

The Mission In Progress screens are simple but can be compelling. There's a space background, with still images of your mission specific vehicle racing across (reminding me of Clutch Cargo cartoons). For each step of the mission, there's a chance of problems, and the Nominal/Warning/Failure buttons pop up and you wait to see if your crew and steely-eyed missile men can solve them. You need to earn prestige to maximize your funding at the next project review. Trying out a system too early can actually reduce its reliability, but there's a maximum you can learn about any system without using it.

Beyond UI and minimal graphics, the troubles with the game are not huge, but can be aggravating. There's a drop-to-DOS feeling about the ending. Get your first man on the moon and the research you did on the lunar rover can be forgotten - the Campaign game simply ends. No parade, just "here's the start screen again". Go into negative in your spacebucks? You lose, even if you just beat the USA and USSR into orbit. No warning, just "you didn't read the manual, did you?" No, I didn't, Buzz, no, I didn't. Anyway, you can always play in Sandbox mode as any of the three sides, the game has six modes.

Still, if you're interested in the Kerbal Space Program manager feeling, but don't want to fly the missions yourself, BARIS2, err, Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager can be a fun experience. Don't go in expecting an intuitive UI, snazzy graphics or a satisfying Game Over experience (it had me thinking of the even older Scorpia rant about one RPG where winning literally closed the program and dropped you to "C:\"). If you're looking to run a space program or two, however, do go in.

If Amazon doesn't sell it, Slitherine's website had it for one third off the Steam price (and it's a direct download, not a Steam key, if that matters to you), check both places. Watch for a sale on Steam, too.


BIC Cristal Xtra Bold Ball Pen, Bold Point (1.6 mm), Blue, 24-Count
BIC Cristal Xtra Bold Ball Pen, Bold Point (1.6 mm), Blue, 24-Count
Price: $7.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Smears always, July 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I remember using these in Chemistry class (taken apart and applied to a tapered faucet, they became a squirt gun with a 30' range), but I must agree with so many others that the design is poor. From the first, writing becomes a matter of cleaning the tip, using the pen, cleaning the tip, using the pen again. You need a rag handy to avoid having splotches of ink either on your paper or on a nearby surface.


Watch Dogs - Xbox 360
Watch Dogs - Xbox 360
Price: Click here to see our price
123 used & new from $10.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun - but you are signing up to "hack", July 27, 2014
This review is from: Watch Dogs - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
.Some reviewers object to being effectively required to use the special skills the game gives you to succeed. They note that if you refuse to use them, or use them poorly, you are overwhelmed. This strikes me a bit like complaining that a game revolving around sneaking past most enemies overwhelms you if you treat it like a stand up fight style game and just charge in shooting. Your character dies because you missed the point of the game.

There may not be many making the complaint, but it's something for everyone to keep in mind. The whole point of the game is to vary the usual GTA mechanics by giving you the ability to hack the world around you to your advantage. If you ignore the mechanic which sets this apart from the other games of this genre, it's going to be very frustrating.

If you remember to use your mad skilz, you're in for a fun ride.


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