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Customer Reviews: 238
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W. Sanders RSS Feed (Bloomfield, CT)

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Dear Daughter: A Novel
Dear Daughter: A Novel
by Elizabeth Little
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mother-Daughter Issues, July 11, 2014
This review is from: Dear Daughter: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Good grief! Little certainly can write. Reading Little is like eating bon-bons. They're really good, and even after eating too many, you don't care, you just want more, even if you're staying up much later than you promised yourself you would. Elizabeth Little's "Dear Daughter" is a mystery with multiple layers of intrigue, the most interesting being the dual query, "Who's my mother/Who am I?" The story centers around Jane Jenkins, a Paris Hilton / Kim Kardashian type celebrity, who is one of those singularly unaccomplished people chased by the paparazzi to get photos of them doing nothing of merit--for which tabloids pay big bucks.

Jane is convicted of murdering her mother, an idea that has passed through the mind of a daughter or two. However, after 10 years in the joint, her lawyer is able to get her sprung because of the mishandling of evidence by the LA's forensic lab. Jane decides that she'd be well-served if she discovered the real killer of her mother. Shortly before the murder, she had been in the next room and overheard her mother arguing with an unknown man and a couple of key words are uttered that are Jane's only clues who killed her mother--if it wasn't Jane herself. (Sometimes booze and dope can cloud one's memory, and Jane isn't absolutely, positively....well maybe she did take the shotgun...but she doesn't think so.)

So the saga begins. Jane wants to avoid the celebrity chasers, and so while trying to find out about her mother, she also has to avoid the reporters, bloggers and a host of other creeps who make their living (and probably their own selfhood) by writing, tweeting and gossiping about those who live to get tweeted, written and gossiped about. All of this happens in a wonderfully written surround of words and phrases that Little wields with aplomb. For example, when stopped by a cop, she writes about her heroine "putting on her best these aren't the droids you're looking for" face. Not only is that a perfect example of modern culture and what we're expected to understand as a reference, but it describes the culture itself. (This, as opposed to "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war.")

Somewhere around the middle of the book, I began having trouble of keeping track of who's who and what's what, and the story seemed to droop. However, after the middle, it picked up a head of steam and finished on a very strong, have-to-stay-up-late to finish note. Little weaves a complex story filled with great writing not uninteresting side characters, and a story that meets the expectations of a good mystery, albeit a bit convoluted in places. Her Jane Jenkins character is fully drawn and believable in her own shallow sharpness.

All in all, Elizabeth Little writes the way I wish more writers would. Her imagery brings alive a culture that is one that we embrace and are embarrassed by all at the same time. We subscribe to the New Yorker and Economist, but volunteer to go the super market where we get in a long line just so that we can browse through US, People and the National Enquirer. Our celebrities are participants in the most banal "reality" shows that have nothing to do with reality, and their stock in trade soars with a publicly released sex video. However, even (or especially) the most hot shock chick on has a mom and mom-daughter issues.

I look forward to more mysteries by Elizabeth Little, and I wholeheartedly recommend "Dear Daughter." The little dip in the middle and similar plot over-complexities are sporadic and minor, but in the future, I hope to see less of those and more of what Elizabeth Little does so well--describe and add whatever amounts to literary eye candy that she spreads like diamonds throughout the book.

(An interesting note in the acknowledgements and end notes are "Mom, it's fiction" and "Mom, it's not about you.")

Arkon 1/4-Inch 20 Camera Mounting Bolt to GoPro HERO3+ HERO3 HERO2 HERO Mount Connection Adapter
Arkon 1/4-Inch 20 Camera Mounting Bolt to GoPro HERO3+ HERO3 HERO2 HERO Mount Connection Adapter
Price: $7.95
5 used & new from $7.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly, July 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The gizmos that come with the GoPro Hero3 Black are nice and solid products. This one, while I was able to get it to do the job of holding the camera to the tripod, (not by GoPro) was just a cheaper quality. When I tightened the hold, the camera was still a bit loose and I never was able to get it to the point where it "locked" the camera in one position. As soon as I tightened the screw, I felt it begin to strip the threads; so I didn't tighten it further. When that happens, it's usually cheap metal components that have not been (and never will be) sufficiently hardened to snug up an angle. If you need a low-cost adapter for a GoPro Hero3 Black, this product will work, but if you plan on doing a lot of tripod work with your GoPro Hero3 Black, you might want to pay a little more and get one made of more substantial materials.

Quartet 4-Count Broad Dry-Erase Marker Kit, 1 Eraser, 2 oz. Spray Cleaner (51-659672Q)
Quartet 4-Count Broad Dry-Erase Marker Kit, 1 Eraser, 2 oz. Spray Cleaner (51-659672Q)
Price: $11.38
7 used & new from $5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Do Their Jobs, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's pretty difficult to get excited about a kit of markers, some cleaners and an eraser, but they all did their job well, and so I'm happy to recommend them. A while back I got a white board that I put up next to the exit door to the garage. On it, I put reminders of what I needed to take with me--mobile phone, keys, lunch, etc. The board also has little magnets where my wife and I can affix coupons. I got some color markers at a dollar store, and they didn't exactly work well. They looked faded and I had to scrub messages on the white board with them. In no time, the board was pretty messy, and the eraser that came with the board was a little bitty one affixed to the head of the marker that came with the board.

Rather than buying what I needed piecemeal, I got this kit, and everything in it worked fine. First, I used the eraser to get as much of the old stuff off that I could but some of the older (more stubborn) markings were still there. Since my white board had never been properly cleaned, the spray cleaner had to be applied more than once with a paper towel to wipe away the old markings, but it did a great job. The new markers were clear and the red, green, blue and black colors distinct.

This is one of those handy things that takes care of business with no muss or fuss. If it's what you need, this one works fine.

Five Star Zipper Binder Plus Multi Access File, 2-Inch Capacity, 13.75 x 12.12 x 3.5 Inches, Blue (72534)
Five Star Zipper Binder Plus Multi Access File, 2-Inch Capacity, 13.75 x 12.12 x 3.5 Inches, Blue (72534)
Price: $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For A Low-Tech Reality, July 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not sure whether this is exactly what most need for either modern business or education. It is decidedly for paper and only paper--along with paper-marking instruments. You could get more than one spiral bound notebook clamped in and lots of loose sheets of paper that are easily and well-organized. In that respect it looks like the ideal organizer of school or business meetings. If that is how your business works, you're in luck--especially if it operates on technology that existed before smartphones, tablets and USB drives.

For me, the lack of a pocket for a USB drive, some cables and a plug-in recharger for a smartphone or tablet--or even a small laptop--dates this binder. The way the handle is positioned, the materials in the binder hang downwards. If you hazarded putting a tablet in the binder, its weight would be pushing against the material that houses the zipper. From the weight and apparent quality of the cloth, it wouldn't be long before your iPad or Surface came bursting out and crashing on whatever surface you happen to be over. There is a netted catch-all pocket for pencils, pens (quills?), erasers, yellow markers and paper clips. I suppose you could stash a USB drive there and secure a small tablet in there along with your smartphone, but it's little more than a netted sack that is hardly purpose container forbuilt-for the kinds of technology found in modeled education and business.

Of course for those of you who live in a paper and pen world, it's no so bad.

DII Everyday Bamboo Middle Stripe Placemat, Blue, Set of 4
DII Everyday Bamboo Middle Stripe Placemat, Blue, Set of 4
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casually Elegant, July 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To describe something as "casual elegance" sounds pretty much like a cliche, but in the case of these placemats, the description is apt. For a small summer dinner party with friends, these mats are the perfect compliment to anything from a stir fry prepared in a wok to a barbecue. They have both the delicate strands of bamboo that held together with blue and gray threading give them the substance to handle hot plates and silverware without looking either tacky or something used for the previous meal when the kids had a food fight. It's nice to find something so simple yet so nice.

Universal Smartphone Holder and Flexible Mini Tripod for iPhone 5 iPhone 5C 5S Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note 3 Nexus 5
Universal Smartphone Holder and Flexible Mini Tripod for iPhone 5 iPhone 5C 5S Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note 3 Nexus 5
Price: $18.18
7 used & new from $17.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stable and Simple to Use, July 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 2:34 Mins

For this review I used two cameras. One recorded the review itself as the tripod held the camera (an iPhone.) The second camera showed what the iPhone looked like while making the review. (Sort of like dual reflecting mirrors.) You can see how stable the picture is made by the iPhone because it was held in place by the tripod. The other camera I hand-held.

Bagmen (Victor Carl)
Bagmen (Victor Carl)
by William Lashner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarified Corruption : Power and Money, June 25, 2014
This review is from: Bagmen (Victor Carl) (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bagmen is a lot of fun, and while I found a few missteps, there weren't many. The story centers around Victor Carl who happened into the job of a "bagman" -- the guy (or gal) who is so named for delivering bags of cash to different individuals in a position to influence the outcome of an election, drop a criminal charge or get the water treatment plant built in a certain district. This can be anyone from a union boss to a priest. Victor has come up in the world from a mere lawyer (forever with an ear open to the sound an ambulance carting off a potential client) to the loftier and more rarified air of a guy who collects from the rich and gives to the corrupt. The rich have their will implemented and the corrupt get paid.

One of the enigmas of the story lies in the love/hate relationship that Victor has with his position. He can clearly see it is no less sordid than what he had been doing as an attorney, but he runs into the rich crowd whom he simultaneously detests and wants to be a part of. He beds (or gets bedded by) women for whom power is a drug, and sex is a strange concoction of control and pleasure to a point some would consider perversion. (Not Victor, though.)

The most interesting characters are not the corruptors or the corrupted but the bagmen who have their own set of rules and ways of being. One, named 'Stony' is a second generation bagman and more or less takes Victor under his wing. Early on, Victor gets into big trouble as a suspect in a homicide, and the bagmen's camaraderie quickly turns sour and Victor is on the outside looking in. However, he is quickly accepted back into the bagmen fraternity—one of those missteps I mentioned--and the story continues. Stony comes across as sort of a Yogi Berra kind of philosopher and avuncular figure to Victor, but as the reader finds out, Stony has his rules as a bagman, and the first one is to look out for Number One (himself.) So it's important to understand Stony's rules and to realize that he's not kidding.

The dilemma for Victor is where to draw the line—believe it or not a moral line (and we're talking about a lawyer?). Some nice people have been murdered, and Victor has a strong moral sense about their being killed (and possibly ending up the same way himself. ) As the story unwinds morals keep getting in Victor's way and he even wonders if he's on the right side, even though all sides in the political battle do little more than voice hollow platitudes. (How can you be on the wrong side of a platitude?)

William Lashner's humor is wry and unrepeated--it sparks like a firefly and you either get it in a blink or miss it. Victor Carl is stuck with being a hypocrite or lashing out against the hypocrisy that has become his bread and butter. His cynicism is not too deep because his expectations of the human race were never too high to begin with. Nevertheless, he is nagged by the possibility that some decency wouldn't hurt all that much and too much evil spoils life for everyone. So, in a glib sense of right and wrong, he still lances windmills and Lashner's tale of Victor Carl is one of great fun and mystery.

Don't Kiss Me: Stories
Don't Kiss Me: Stories
by Lindsay Hunter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.26
93 used & new from $1.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wal-Mart Noir, June 17, 2014
This review is from: Don't Kiss Me: Stories (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With a book like this, it's easy to do one of two things; 1) Detest it and get snarky, 2) Declare a 'new voice' and over-praise it. I hate to get snarky, and this is an easy book to dismiss as drivel, and I can provide several reasons why. Likewise, I dislike declaring a 'new voice' or revolutionary thinking for a collection that shows little evidence of much new or revolutionary. However, I do think that the author, Lindsay Hunter, has something truly new: the voice of the Wal-Mart worker; at least female worker. I'm not referring (necessarily) to the women who work at Wal-Mart, but the underpaid, undereducated and just plain invisible women and their men who work at such jobs. According to economic demographic trends "these" people may be what becomes of the working and middle classes.

Other writers have used the kind of our-of-their-mind-and-on-to-the-page writing without a lot of in-between grammar gumming up a pure thought. For example, Jack Kerouac:

" «And think, Sal, when we get to Pennsy we'll start hearing that gone Eastern
bop on the disk jockeys. Geeyah, roll, old boat, roll!» The magnificent
car made the wind roar; it made the plains unfold like a roll of paper;
it cast hot tar from itself with deference - an imperial boat. I opened my eyes
to a fanning dawn; we were hurling up to it. Dean's rocky dogged face as ever
bent over the dashlight with a bony purpose of its own."( from On the Road (1955);)

So the free flow of thought is not new and certainly not literary heresy, and in some places Lindsay Hunter sounds right:

"Her momma was the town skank. Everybody knew. So you couldn't take her all
that seriously when her girl went missing. Stay home all night for once, our
own mommas would whisper to each other, swat each other on the arm.
You so bad. I know it." (from A Girl)

Women writers who knew both sides of the track have created major works, but they seem to have voices that transcend themselves. For example, Sylvia Plath wrote:

"Look what can happen in this country, they'd say. A girl lives in some out-of-the way
town for nineteen years, so poor she can't afford a magazine, and then she gets a
scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New
York like her own private car. Only I wasn't steering anything." (The Bell Jar--1971)

However, while the stories seem to emanate from women who might seem to have Wal-Mart lives, it's hard to tell whether or not Hunter has. In a few of the stories the dialect stumbles on good grammar and generates a sense of fraud. Further, Hunter does a lot better job in describing than she does "inside the head and voice telling" Her Nixon story didn't work for me and some of the other where she talked from the inside didn't either.

In some places where the author seemed to think it was a good idea to use clever formatting (Our Man) or ALL CAPS (my eye-brain is still screaming from THAT). (Cigarette companies used to print health warnings in ALL CAPS to make them difficult to read.) If you have something to say, gimmicks will not help.

All in all this book is a mixed bag. O. Henry wrote "flash stories" and a recent issue of the New Yorker was full of them. They're just short, short stories, and I think they have their place in American literature--past and present. Lindsay Hunter has picked an important voice and does a good job in communicating that voice and even the culture. She needs a lot a work on her storying telling.

D-Link Systems Wi-Fi AC750 Portable Router and Charger (DIR-510L)
D-Link Systems Wi-Fi AC750 Portable Router and Charger (DIR-510L)
Offered by antonline
Price: $107.83
43 used & new from $90.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Added Privacy in the Coffee House, mobile device charger and View USB Drives on Your iPad, June 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like the Wireless AC750 Portable Router and Charger by D-Link, known as the DIR-510L. It has a few issues, but I'll get to those later. I tested the personal router on an iPad Mini, regular iPad and an iPhone. ( I have no idea how it works with an Android or Surface device.) Trying to follow the paper Guide that comes with the device proved very difficult in the 5-point font they used to print it in. So, the very first thing I recommend doing is to read the Quick Install Guide online at:

(Google up Quick Install Guide DIR-510L for the URL--I cannot put it here.)

It has three basic types of connections:
1. Broadband Router with Ethernet cable
2. Mobile Router Setup (Requires 3G/4G USB adapter) //Not evaluated
3. Wi-Fi Hotspot

I first plugged in an ethernet cable, fired it up and connected two iPads and an iPhone to the DIR-510L. The default password is a blank; so you're advised to create your own password. Anyway, it worked fine and all of my "i" devices wirelessly connected simultaneously. (The manual suggests that you connect no more than 5 devices at the same time.) If you do not have a wireless router, this will allow you to connect all of your "i" devices. However, most ISPs like Comcast and AT&T include a wireless router. However, what I did find invaluable is the new found ability to plug in a USB drive into the DIR-510L and open it on my iPad. For me that's huge!

Next, using my own wireless router as a "hotspot" I unplugged the ethernet cable and re-connected my mobile devices to the wireless DIR510L wireless connection that appears in my Wi-Fi Settings on my "i" devices. That worked too, and it's the important one. Every Thursday I meet a friend at Starbucks and use the mobile hotspot they have there. (Some people use our Starbucks as an office with their laptops, tablets and mobile phones all arrayed on the postage-stamp size tables there.) One feature of the DIR510L is that it can add a layer of protection against unwanted intrusions. In Starbucks, everyone there has the Starbucks wireless connection code; including some jerk trying to get information form your mobile device. By connecting my DIR510L to the Starbucks wireless and then my iPhone to the DIR510L, I'm using the password that I set up on the DIR510L as a firewall against intrusion.

Most of the configuration is done online at a D-Link URL. There you enter your Admin Password and some other configuration chores. Fear not; once it's done; it's done. However, you do need one more thing, and that's the app, "mydlink SharePort." With the SharePort you can access Documents, Folders, Videos, Music, Photos and "Favorites" from storage devices attached to the DIR510L.

The DIR-510L includes a WPS button for wireless devices with WPS. Since the "i" devices don't have WPS, I could not test it. However, they do have WPA/WPA2, and from what I could gather, WPS security is a lot less secure than WPA. In fact, I found several online articles suggesting that you avoid WPS. I'm no security expert, and so I wouldn't bet the farm of any of the available security measures. Nevertheless, I checked to make sure that my devices were secured by WPA2--it was done automatically in connecting to the DIR-510L and that's on top of the DIR-510L security. (A big red warning labels comes with the DIR-510L that lets you know that your device is subject to unauthorized access unless you have WEP, WPA or WPA2.)

Finally, the DIR-510L charged my devices. I just moved the switch to "Charger" and plugged in the power cord to my iPad. I watched the battery go from 85% to 90% indicating a positive charge. (I didn't wait for it to hit 100%.)

Overall, I really like the DIR-510L, and my reservations are small, but I do not believe to be petty. Like everyone else, I want good security, and from what I've seen about WPS security, they probably ought to drop it and provide more instructions on using WPA or include WPA2 as part of the DIR-510L. Another problem is with their Quick Install Guide. Why print it in 5-point fonts? That's absurd! Either put it in standard size print (about 12pt) or just provide an online address. Third, who's bright idea was it to print the labels in white on a white background? The labels for the button positions (e.g. 'CHARGER') and sockets and idiot lights are all white on white. Here's what I suggest: give all of your designers a piece of candy that gives them the runs, and then write the antidote in white ink on white paper. See how they like it. Otherwise, it's a nice design. Finally, not counting the value of an online PDF file with all of the documentation, I had a lot of trouble working out the configuration process using the necessary online link. Is there some way that the configuration (all of it) could be put into the SharePort app? Then it would be available all the time.

All-in-all, the DIR-510L offers a lot as a personal router, device charger and USB drive access for "i" devices. Once past the initial setup, it's pretty easy to use and provides a lot of functionality. This is one device that has MORE features than expected and worth every penny of it.

Tomcat Super Hold Mouse Glue Board, 4-Pack
Tomcat Super Hold Mouse Glue Board, 4-Pack
Price: $6.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use, and works some of the time, June 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have mice, and my wife goes nuts whenever she spots the their droppings. We've used traps (both spring and electronic) and even poison. (I couldn't bring myself to put out the poison packets, but the mice gnawed their way into the package with the poison and did themselves in.) So when I saw the Tomcat Super Hold Mouse Glue Board, I had to try it.

Right off the bat I caught a little mouse. The poor thing was struggling and looking at me like I was going to help him get unstuck. I picked up the trap and covered the mouse with a big maple leaf and carefully put it in the trash. I didn't want to have the thing stick to the side of the trash can. Tip: Put the trap into a bag before putting it in the trash.

I put two in the garage where we've had mice move into my car's air filter for warmth. The first one caught something that kicked over the trap after apparently getting caught and kicking free. I assume it was a bigger mouse or even a chipmunk. Anyway, it seemed to mess up the stickum in the trap. I put another one next to it, figuring that it would have more difficulty getting away from two, but so far the only thing that it's caught is a big black spider. I replaced the one where I had caught the first mouse but so far nothing.

At this point in time, the traps are batting 250, which doesn't sound bad, but the real fact is that only 1 out of 4 has caught a mouse. In all the years I've been battling mice, I've caught more with peanut butter and the old-fashioned Victor spring traps than any other. I don't like the spring traps because they get yukky with mouse blood and guts and will swat your fingers while setting if you're not careful. My electronic trap worked exactly once, and I like it a lot except for that fact that it quit working after the first mouse.

Of all of the mouse trap systems I've used, this one is the easiest if you don't count the suffering of the mouse. However, it only works some of the time, and while simple, I wish the mouse didn't have to suffer. Like all mouse catching systems, you want to dispose of the caught mouse as soon as possible so it won't get smelly.

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