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Strategos "The Guardian of Time" RSS Feed (In Space above Planet Earth)
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Front Lines
Front Lines
by Michael Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.66
53 used & new from $8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written, Page-Turner, Alternate History Epic, February 5, 2016
This review is from: Front Lines (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The artwork for this book was a huge turn-off, but the premise sounded interesting (women are allowed to enlist, and are drafted during World War II), and all of the author's other books are very highly rated, so I decided to give it a try.

Lots of other reviewers have lobbed criticisms of various sorts at this book like grenades, but you won't hear any complaints from me. I think this book is an outstanding beginning to a new series, and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more.

I don't usually go for American History, American Historical Fiction, etc. I usually find that Americana type stuff boring and hokey. I'm also not usually interested in stories about discrimination and overcoming prejudice as a genre because I often find stories like that emotionally upsetting.

This book is written with tremendous skill and style, but is exceptionally balanced. There's loads of character development, good description, interesting plot, and it takes it's time, but I was never bored, or impatient. I was simply drawn into the story from the beginning and found it enormously compelling. Unlike some other reviewers I find ALL of the protagonists interesting (from the girl-next-door Rio, who is thankfully NOT a Mary Sue), to the the brilliant Rainy (who kind of reminds me of my older sister).

Some people complain about the book not jumping to the action sooner, but honestly, this is an epic done write. I didn't think "I'm 150 pages into the book and the action hasn't started.". No, I thought "I'm 150 pages in, the action hasn't started, and this book has ALREADY been really, really good."

I have exactly one criticism of this book, and one comment of warning. First, it's got some language (not as much in REAL war obviously, but enough to make this recommended for older teens only, as if the mature themes are subject matter, to say nothing of the derogatory language, were not enough of a clue).

The only real criticism however, is the AWFUL cover art. I have a feeling a lot of people will miss this book simply because of the lousy cover art, which is a shame. Hopefully the publisher will re-release it with a more compelling cover that makes people want to pick it up and read it. Because once you start reading, it's hard to stop. This is a WELL WRITTEN book!


OtterBox SYMMETRY FOLIO iPad Mini 4 Case - Retail Packaging - BLACK NIGHT
OtterBox SYMMETRY FOLIO iPad Mini 4 Case - Retail Packaging - BLACK NIGHT
Price: $42.66
2 used & new from $42.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Oops!, February 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this product in exchange for a review but failed to note it is for an iPad Mini 4 and will not work with my iPad Mini 2.

In case you were wondering if it works for an iPad Mini 2...it doesn't. 5 stars as I cannot give a proper evaluation due to the product not fitting my iPad.


Labyrinth
Labyrinth
DVD ~ David Bowie
Price: $3.99
76 used & new from $0.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Dance Magic Dance!, February 1, 2016
This review is from: Labyrinth (DVD)
"You asked that the child be taken. I took him."

Labyrinth is a difficult film to describe, except perhaps as what you get when you combine the imagination of Jim Henson, George Lucas, and David Bowie and toss a teenage Jennifer Connelly into the mix as the protagonist. Or maybe... try to imagine Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland with puppets instead of CGI, and transformed into a rock musical. ....Sorry that sounded awesome even to me. Yeah, Labyrinth is awesome.

"You cowered before me, I was frightening."

When this film came out critics hated it, and the audience was lost. Figures. That's typical of stuff that's ahead of it's time. Some modern viewers don't seem to be able to grasp what this film is all about either.

When I was kid, this was just in the rotation with the other family-oriented fantasy films that were kicking around in everyone's VCRs alongside Secret of NIMH and Neverending Story. What did I think? I saw it in snippets and thought it was cool of course, but also kind of confusing and disorienting. But the WORLD of the film was just awesome. But there was a lot of awesome kicking around in those days (Dark Crystal, Return to Oz, etc, etc) so it was easy to lose this one in the shuffle.

I revisited this film MANY years later as an adult when my ex-fiance, and then later my wife both enjoyed this film very much, and I watched it alongside. Considering that at the time I was starting to really get into music games (Rock Band, Rez), this film blew my mind. I quickly realized in my mind it was a classic, strange as it was.

Fast forward a few years and after repeated viewing this film just continues to grow in my estimation.

"I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down."

I can kind of understand why some people aren't crazy about this film. Its protagonist Sarah is kind of a blank slate except for a child-like sense of wonder and a fantastically teenage girl love of romantic fantasy. David Bowie's Goblin King is absolutely fabulous in every sense of the word, thoroughly 80's and wonderfully over-the-top. The various creatures are silly and full of personality. However, the plot is very simple. There's no overt character growth or character development to explain exactly WHY Sarah wants her little brother back so badly. The world of Labyrinth can seem a bit cold. But all of that is missing the point.

"... I am exhausted from living up to your expectations."

From the first notes of David Bowie's "Underground" you feel yourself suddenly transported to a world of epic fantasy. The special effects are mind-blowing (Early CGI owl transforming into a real owl still is jaw-dropping), visually, the film is indescribably amazing. It seems every time I watch the film I seem some new awesome detail. Rocks that align with the camera angle to look like the Goblin King's face. EVERYTHING from Sarah's room in the beginning of the film appearing in the world of Labyrinth in some manner (there's a poster on her wall that's the setting for the climax of the film). And then there's the costumes, the creature designs, the amazing sets, and oh yeah, the MUSIC!

"...Fear me. Love me. Do as I ask, and I shall be your slave."

Interestingly there is a strong compelling spiritual element to Labyrinth, but it's introverted and undertone not in your face, so a lot of people can miss it. Some people look at Sarah and the Goblin Kind's relationship and just think "Ewww...Gross..." They seem to be missing the fact that arguably EVERYTHING that happens exists only inside her head. The climax of the film is the same as the book/play she was reading aloud at the beginning of the film. Her gown in the dream she is pulled into later in the film bears a striking resemblance her fantasy costume/gown at the beginning of the film as well. Everything in the world of the Labyrinth, including her pseudo-romance with the Goblin king can be traced back to objects in her room.

What does it all mean? That's for you to figure out! Is the fight against the Goblin King a fight against her own childish selfishness? Against growing up itself? Against the pull of mature feelings and away from childish ignorance? And what about her little brother? Is her quest to get him back the pull of responsibility making her realize she can't live in a fantasy world forever and that there are people in the real world who need her? It's all there, but subtle enough that it's not frustrating like obvious unanswered questions in most films.

If you watch much anime or fantasy TV shows, interestingly you'll find many elements of Sarah's struggle in those kind of stories. Often a protagonist will get pulled into a selfish fantasy world and have to "wake up" by confronting their inner struggles, in order to be ready to finally fight the big bad. This has happened in (short list), Sailor Moon, The Big O, Wolf's Rain, Gurren Lagann, Star Trek, Doctor Who (I could go on). So no, it's not a unique trope, but it is the ENTIRE film here, and it's incredibly well done. There's no silly "This is all a dream." statements from Sarah to reduce the gravity or confuse the audience. She thinks of the labyrinth and she's there, like in a daydream. No doorways or spells needed.

The fact that a being with god-like powers happens to have a thing for Sarah is something we can accept because in the mind of a teenage girl in the 80's and in the world of the film, that's how things work. And the interactions between them really are brilliant.

"My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great...You have no power over me!"

Ultimately this is a story about growing up and empowerment, and I'm sorry if other people can't see that. Sarah is a wonderful protagonist and I feel exactly the way that Jim Henson did, that Jennifer Connelly is absolutely perfect. The first time you watch this film it feels a bit odd that there's two real people and a world of muppet/puppets, but after repeatedly viewings this feeling vanishes because Jennifer Connelly always treats the puppets like they are living, breathing person that she is talking to. She is sincere in her role, and it comes across. Her acting is subtle, and it's wonderful.

Likewise, the Goblin King is an over-the-top character who like to play mind games, toss you into peril, and surprise you like the insanely powerful magician he is, but he's also sensitive, playful, viewing everything that happens through the course of the film up to the finale as an elaborate game played with the girl he admires. Great acting, and a great character. And the songs David Bowie wrote for this film are really enjoyable (I own the soundtrack and listen to it all the time).

This film is a trip, and it very easily fits the trope "What do you mean, it wasn't made on drugs?", but it's disjointed, almost random leaps of logic make it a wonderful adventure (an adventure is by definition, a story where you don't know what is going to happen next), and the absolutely brilliant world created and portrayed make it a true fantasy classic.

This is a film to love and cherish till the world ends.


Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Round Created Opal 7mm, Swiss Blue Topaz and Created White Sapphire Pendant Necklace, 18"
Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Round Created Opal 7mm, Swiss Blue Topaz and Created White Sapphire Pendant Necklace, 18"
Price: $42.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Another nice piece of Rhodium Plated Jewelry from Amazon, January 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife previously got a similarly styled tree of life necklace that she liked very much, so I asked her if she would like to try this piece. Normally she doesn't really like "sparkly" jewelry, but she likes this piece.

The price is in expected range because there's actually gemstones in this piece, not plastic. How you feel about them not being dug out of the ground will vary but personally I think it's ridiculous to have a problem with created gems unless you are a sentimental person ("It's from the mines of Moria and I slew a dragon to obtain it!"), or are a gem aficionado who appreciates the natural imperfections of non-created gems.

The plating is thin, but solid, as is the necklace chain. Like the other Rhodium Plated piece we got the necklace tangles easily and is difficult to fasten due to the size of the faster but these are minor gripes.

My wife likes it and that's all that counts. Lovely!


Corsair CX600 CP-9020048-US 600W Power Supply
Corsair CX600 CP-9020048-US 600W Power Supply
Price: $64.99
70 used & new from $45.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice power supply with two minor issues, January 29, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this to replace another supposedly high quality power supply from Sentey that had a VERY loud electric buzz which appears to be a voltage build-up that's known across the PC builder forums. It was so loud it was annoying my wife so I decided to bite the bullet and fix the issue with a new power supply.

This one is quiet, solid, and matches the aesthetic I'm going for (black case with no lights). I'd give it five stars for the high quality except for two things.

1. There's no manual. Come on! Not everyone who buys a power supply is going to know all the setup things you need to know from experience. Don't force your customers to rely on YouTube to figure out how to use your product.
2. I was initially confused and near panic thinking I needed an adapter to get the four prong plug required by my setup. Then I checked the reviews and saw someone post that you need to pull the eight-prong apart and it separates. If it wasn't for that I might have returned the item thinking it was for a different motherboard type or something. That plug either needs a label with big red letters, or preferably to already be separated.

Aside from these two issues it's a good product and recommended for system builders who want a high quality power supply.


KMASHI External Battery Power Bank 6000mAh Backup Pack Portable Ultra-thin Charger for iPhone 6 6S Plus Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note5 Google Nexus LG HTC Motorola Bluetooth Headset
KMASHI External Battery Power Bank 6000mAh Backup Pack Portable Ultra-thin Charger for iPhone 6 6S Plus Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge S5 S4 S3 Galaxy Note5 Google Nexus LG HTC Motorola Bluetooth Headset
Offered by eCase
Price: $49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice battery bank, January 29, 2016
I got one of these free of charge in exchange for a review.

If you aren't a fan of battery cases, and would rather externalize a solution to running out of charge at inconvenient moments, this is a nice choice.

It's small, attractive, performs well, and is compatible with a range of devices. I'm not a fan of the charge indicator as multiple lights or a charge gauge is easier to read. On the other hand, the device comes with a simple manual and charging cable so it's clear the manufacturer cares about customer experience.

My wife likes this device very much and will be using it for her Android phone, and I'll keep my eye out for more accessories from KMASHI in the future.


Women's Kaftan Satin Gown With Pink Spring Flower Design, Navy - X-Large.
Women's Kaftan Satin Gown With Pink Spring Flower Design, Navy - X-Large.
Offered by Tom David Lewis
Price: $11.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice if you have the right figure/body build for it., January 29, 2016
I got this item for my wife free of charge in exchange for a review. I was hoping this would be an Asian-style garment that would fit an Western body type. It's hard to review though because...

The item sizing is accurate. The pattern is beautiful. The fabric is very nice. Everything appears to be high quality about this garment.

Unfortunately...

My wife is very curvy, and this garment, while available in large sizes, is still designed for a straight figure (Asian style). My wife has refused many times to wear Asian-style wear even though I love it because it looks awful with her figure, and warned me that this item would be no different. "No, it's for Americans!" I said. I was mistaken.

This item will not fit someone like my wife correctly without tailoring. It's a great garment otherwise though.

So... five stars for quality even though my wife can't wear it.


Coup Rebellion G54 Kickstarter Edition (The Dystopian Universe)
Coup Rebellion G54 Kickstarter Edition (The Dystopian Universe)
Offered by IBC Direct
Price: $29.99
4 used & new from $24.59

4.0 out of 5 stars For the COUP Completionist, January 27, 2016
I gave to the Kickstarter for this game and was really excited when it was announced. I figured the only thing that could be better than COUP was more COUP. The reality is a little different than the dream though.

First of all Coup Rebellion G54 is itself a bit of a mixed bag. It's nice to have more cards to play coup with, but with the new categories of cards, and the somewhat poorly written rules, it feels a bit like a step backwards. It's true, there ARE more ways to play, but in the rush to get the game out it almost seems like some of the cards weren't tested all the thoroughly for fun and play-ability. The overall tone of the game is darker than COUP, and maybe a bit less fun.

On top of that, you have roles which are a bit confusing at first as you try to learn them all, smaller cards that don't feel as well made, and the overwhelming task of organizing everything when you first open the box. Because there are different categories of cards, you'll want to organize them by type so you can find the required numbers of each type easily. I'm really not sure why we need separate descriptor cards for each role, since this could have been accomplished much more effectively by creating a better book of instructions.

When I went to play this game for the first time a player kept inching to leave saying she didn't have time for a long game. After 45 mins to an hour just to unpack, organize, and get everything ready I didn't blame her! I kept saying that once we started things would move quickly and the actual game would only take 10-15 minutes, but she almost didn't believe me because the instructions and initial unboxing ad setup were so incredibly complicated. Yeah, you want to unbox and organize this one BEFORE trying to play with people.

The Kickstarter edition includes extra cards for COUP a mini card game (at least the version I got), some original coup cards with the Inquisitor and the Beaurocrat additions, the crime boss with both the original artwork and the new alternate, and coins that are apparently different from the regular version of the game.

Worth It?

I own the original COUP and the Expansion. I also own The Resistance and the expansion and One Night Revolution. I thought I couldn't get enough of this universe. But even for me it's starting to feel like a little much. Would I recommend this game? Would I recommend the Kickstarter Edition?

If you love COUP but desperately want more roles buy this game and you ought to be satisfied for a good long while. If you are a board game collector/completionist get the Kickstarter Edition for the extra COUP cards and alternate artwork


NZXT Source 210 ELITE Midtower Case with 3.0 USB - Black
NZXT Source 210 ELITE Midtower Case with 3.0 USB - Black
Offered by SPICY BOMB
Price: $46.95
21 used & new from $45.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For the budget minded PC builder, this is an outstanding value in a case, January 25, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been meaning to buy a better case every since I had my first custom PC built as a teenager. Cases are expensive though, and a hassle to swap after you've already built a PC, so I've put it off for a very long time.

In 2008 my mother bought me my current PC for a present (I was unemployed and my PC at the time was aging). It was a Gateway 5662, and it's served me very well since then. Over the years I've replaced the hard drive several times, replaced the graphics card several times, and replaced the power supply several times I've upgraded the ram, reinstalled the OS and upgraded it, and replaced the keyboard and mouse. And now, finally, 8 years after buying my PC I got around to replacing the irritating plastic case with something nicer.

Some people like their PC to be outfitted like a low-rider with all kinds of crazy running lights and glowing spinning things. Me, I like my PC to be quiet and stealthy as a superhero ninja. I took all night and all morning on my weekend to pull my old motherboard out of the old case and hook it up to this beauty. It's got a lovely uniform paint job and once you have the screws that hold the back on off the sides almost slide off TOO easily.

I've worked on cases and motherboards quite a few times over the years in my career as a lofty IT Guru, and I'm used to the difficulties of getting cases and components installed. In contrast to other cases I've worked on it, this was was absolutely a joy to work on. The brand new screws and holes fit snugly, but not so tight as to present any difficulty. Every screw tightened down fairly easily, and nice and tight with hand-tightening only.

I discovered to my horror upon removing my old motherboard that it did not use stand-off screws (it used raised indentations in the steel for the screws instead), but I needn't have worried because this case comes with a giant assortment of screws including power supply screws, and stand-off screws. The manual isn't terribly informative but then again it doesn't need to be.

The drive bays don't require screws and that's a nice feature (never owned a case where I didn't have to go through the pain of screwing in drives). The case is nice and roomy, and the paint job is high quality. The sharp edges have been smoothed out so you're not likely to cut yourself on a sharp edge (thank you!!!!), and the two installed fans are whisper quiet compared to my old case. The air coming out of said fans is also nice and cool instead of burning hot like in the old Micro ATX case I was using.

When I get a PC the first thing I always do is disable the case light, hard drive light, and case sound (no annoying beeps and flashing lights thank you). With that setup this thing almost disappears on my black home theater table, and that's just the way I like it. Some people complain that this case has it's USB ports in the front upside down, but who remembers which way those go anyway?

If you like a nice easy setup in a solid, spacious case that's built to last, and think your PC should be neither seen nor heard in the dark, and ESPECIALLY if you like to save money, this is a wonderful case. Highly recommended for the budget builder who wants a Full Tower Case with lots and lots of room to expand and add fans.


Keluoer Iphone6s Battery Case Iphone6 Battery Case 5800mah Portable External Battery Backup Charger Case Pack Power Bank for Iphone 6s /6 4.7 Inch (Rose Gold)
Keluoer Iphone6s Battery Case Iphone6 Battery Case 5800mah Portable External Battery Backup Charger Case Pack Power Bank for Iphone 6s /6 4.7 Inch (Rose Gold)
Offered by Keluoer
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Make your phone battery last three times as long, by increasing it to three time's it's size!, January 25, 2016
I was sent one of these battery cases for my iPhone 6s in exchange for a review.

Have you ever had the following conversation with someone?:

You: "I love my iPhone, but I wish it's battery lasted three times as long!"
Other person: "Yeah, but then it would be three times as big!"
You: "I don't care!"

Ah yes, if that describes you, then you have found your item. It makes your brand new sleek iPhone as big and bulky as an old Nokia, and yeah, makes it's battery last as long too. But wait, there's more!

While it doesn't unfortunately come in every color that iPhones do, it come in the new rose gold and champagne gold colors, and the other colors are nice selections too. It snaps in easily, and can be removed with a bit of effort (not thankfully, as difficult as removing an Otter Box). But once you buy one, why would you ever want to remove it?

You plug it in, it fits snugly, and then you're set. Plug your phone in to charge the case, and press the one button to charge the phone too. When your phone battery runs dry, press the button to start charging off of the battery. There's a cool series of lights that blinks when charging and is completely lit up when fully charged.

There's a USB port for charging other phones and that's a killer feature. There's also a kickstand in case you want to watch videos on a desk or some such. The only downside to this device that I can really point to is that the headphone space is only the size of the original earbuds, so large connectors won't fit. It's too bad because I really like this battery case, and I also really like a large headset I recently bought, and I'll have to remove the case to listen through them. I thought about dropping the review a star for that reason, but I just couldn't.

This device is really high quality, fits great, connects snugly (but not too snugly), and feels good in your hand. It IS enormous, but still fits in your pocket (as opposed to say, the 6s Plus). It's also attractive (compared to an ugly tan Otter Box I recently tested), and really simple to use.

It has ONE button! If you can't figure out how to use a device like this it's time to go back to your rotary phone and a phonograph player.

Awesome device. Just don't buy it if you like your iPhone because it's THIN.


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