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Lynne E. "Lynne E." RSS Feed (California, USA.)
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The Harvest Man (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad)
The Harvest Man (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad)
by Alex Grecian
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Slender Plot Featuring One-Dimensional Serial Killer Who Carves Up Victims' Faces, March 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
THE HARVEST MAN is the fourth book in the "Scotland Yard's Murder Squad" series, which begins with The Yard. It seems to be a close continuation of the previous series book, which featured Jack the Ripper (The Devil's Workshop). This fourth book doesn't work well as a standalone, because a new reader (1) doesn't at all understand the hold that "Saucy Jack" has over Inspector Walter Day; and (2) doesn't know anything about what put the "Harvest Man" into a lunatic asylum or how he escaped from the asylum. (Given the cliffhanger at the end, the fifth book in this series probably won't work as a standalone, either.)

The Harvest Man--who hides in unsuspecting victims' attics (like the harvest spider he is named for)--is murdering married couples, after first carving up their faces. Someone else (could it be the escaped "Jack the Ripper"?) is killing and removing the internal organs of local "working women". The first investigation is being handled by Inspector Tiffany, who reluctantly consults with the deskbound Inspector Day, at Dr. Kingsley's insistence. The second investigation comes to light through former Sergeant Hammersmith's private efforts toward collaring Jack, and also involves Dr. Kingsley and Inspector Day. Most of the plot events center around the activities of Inspector Day's family and friends, and around the activities of two boys and a young wife who have seen, and narrowly escaped from, the Harvest Man.

The book is set in London in the Spring of 1890, though it's somewhat lacking in the historical detail that would firmly anchor it there. In fact, the leisurely murder investigations seemed curiously modern to me. Although the investigators are limited to communicating in person or by messenger, I kept wanting them to pull out their cell phones and get on with it! As previously mentioned, the characters' qualities, backgrounds, and motivations seem to have been developed in earlier series books. I liked Claire, Fiona, Henry, the doctor, and the detectives, but I know little about them beyond their activities in this book. The one really good character is the deaf shopkeeper who insists to everyone that "you don't need to shout". The Harvest Man himself is totally one-dimensional--just a lunatic driven by a single mad obsession that forces him to carve up and remove his victims' faces.

Some reviewers have complained that the crimes are described with too much grisly detail. It's true that the crime scenes are bloody messes, but none of the victims are tortured. The reader isn't subjected to graphic descriptions of a victim's pain or of a sadistic, psychopathic killer's pleasure in inflicting it. For me, grue (lots of blood) is to be expected in a mystery/thriller novel, and it doesn't bother me.

But in my opinion, THE HARVEST MAN isn't worth the time it takes to read it, if you're new to the series. The basic face-carver plot is too slender to justify a full-length novel, and you need to be familiar with the good-person characters already if you're going to care much about what happens to them. Also, I was baffled by the inclusion of several poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses--were these intended to enhance the historical atmosphere? For these reasons, I rate this mystery/thriller at 3 stars ("It's okay" on the official Amazon scale).


Hot Wheels Shifters Color Splash Science Lab Playset
Hot Wheels Shifters Color Splash Science Lab Playset
Price: $19.97
14 used & new from $19.96

5.0 out of 5 stars New Favorite Hot Wheels Stunt Accessory, March 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This HOT WHEELS SHIFTERS COLOR SPLASH SCIENCE LAB PLAYSET is my new favorite Hot Wheels Stunt accessory! It's messy, because the car splashes water when it lands in a pool, but it's fun. You load the tank at the top with ice water, and the pool at the end of the track with hot water, and the included Color-Shifter car will change color when it comes in contact with either the hot or the cold water (dark to light color, or vice versa).

My Color-Shifter car needs to park underneath the cold waterfall (below the tank) or the cold spray (the pipe extending from the water tank) for a little while in order to change color, but there are moveable barriers that allow parking. The Color-Shifter car changes color instantly when it lands in the hot pool. At room temperature, the car retains its dark, light, or partially-shifted color (see my customer photos).

A feature that I really like, is that when you launch one car, it triggers the release of a second car if you have placed a second car under the spray pipe, so that the two cars will exit the stunt playset simultaneously (at the bottom on the ramps at the left and the right). You can adjust how the launched car will exit--you can set a ramp in the middle to either crash the car into the hot-water pool or allow the car to jump the pool and continue down the track to the exit. Because the two exit ramps can be connected to other tracks, you can incorporate this messy water stunt playset into a larger Hot Wheels layout!

The Color-Shifter cars apparently vary from playset to playset. My playset came with a Nitro Doorslammer (dark green with cold water, light green with warm water). Additional Color-Shifter cars (e.g., 24/SEVEN) are available from Amazon, but a regular Hot Wheels car that weighs about the same as the included car works fine. The playset instructions caution that all Hot Wheels/Hot Wheels Color-Shifter cars may not work in every playset. This playset's box has "City" printed on the front, so I would guess that all Color-Shifter cars in the "City" series will work with it.

Some reviewers have complained that the cars won't stay on the tracks, but I didn't have this problem. The launcher has three tension settings, and my cars negotiated the tracks perfectly as long as I launched them with the first or second tension setting. The track needs to be snapped together firmly for it to work. The assembly instructions are easy to follow, although there are some tricky parts.
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Linksys N600 PRO Wi-Fi Range Extender with Built-In Audio Speaker (RE4100W-4A)
Linksys N600 PRO Wi-Fi Range Extender with Built-In Audio Speaker (RE4100W-4A)
Price: $79.99
2 used & new from $75.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Range Extender; Audio Streaming Requires Installation of Extender-Supported Media Player, March 2, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This LINKSYS N600 PRO WI-FI RANGE EXTENDER WITH BUILT-IN AUDIO SPEAKER (RE4100W-4A) is a terrific range extender. It's easy to set up, works reliably, and even has a jack for streaming audio from a computer or mobile device to headphones or speakers. (The quality of the sound depends, of course, upon the quality of your audio hardware.)

The only bad thing about this range extender is that it comes with a minimalist, single-page Quick Start Guide. You have to go to the Linksys web site to find out how to set up the wireless music playback feature. This feature requires an extender-supported media player (such as Windows Media Player 12, SongBook for Mac, bubbleUPnP for Android, or Plugplayer for IOS, to name a few listed in the feature setup article). You will have to figure out for yourself how to use the media player to recognize the Linksys Range Extender broadcast signal. It took me a little while, but eventually I was able to use the free version of bubbleUPnP to successfully stream already downloaded music from my Galaxy S4 smartphone to speakers connected to the range extender jack.

The range extender that I tried a few years ago (the Diamond Wireless Range Extender (Old Version)) drove me crazy with its constant blinking from signal rebroadcasting, and also slowed down the wireless connections for everything on my home network. In contrast, this Linksys N600 Pro range extender is solid as a rock (no blinking connections), and gives me a strong, maximum 4-bar signal in my garage, which used to receive a weaker 3-bar signal.

A wireless analyzer (Wi-Fi Analyzer) detected this range extender as a second signal with the same name as my router's network signal--for the signals on both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands. The analyzer shows the router and range extender signals as relatively stronger or weaker, depending on whether I'm standing physically closer to the router or to the range extender.

This range extender is equipped with "spot finder technology", which means that the "Power" light changes color, from green to orange, to indicate whether you have placed it in a good location. It's recommended that you choose an electrical outlet that is halfway between your router and the location with the weak signal that you want to improve. The light glows solid green with a good connection, solid orange with a weak connection. Once you've set up the range extender to work with your network router, it will reconnect with the router whenever it's unplugged and plugged in again to an outlet that's within the router's range.

This range extender is essentially a "wall wart" that extends downward from a 2-prong, ungrounded plug. It will completely cover a two-socket electrical outlet unless it is plugged into the bottom socket. However, when plugged into the bottom socket, it does not block the top socket at all.

A final worthwhile feature of this Linksys N600 Pro Wi-Fi range extender is the Ethernet port that allows it to be used as a wireless adapter for connecting a wired device to your wireless network. Just connect an Ethernet cable (not included) to the Ethernet ports on your wired device and range extender (after you've set up the range extender to work with your router).

Out-of-the-box setup is a snap. You plug in the range extender and wait for a solid "Power" light, then use a computer, smartphone, or tablet to connect to the extender's broadcasting "Linksys Extender Setup" network. If this doesn't work, you can open a browser window to access the extender. The Linksys web site has a whole collection of articles that explain in detail how to use the range extender, how to update the firmware, how to access the range extender's web-based setup page, how to do a customized manual setup, etc.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2015 4:06 AM PST


Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
by Jessica Knoll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Guarantee You'll Like It, Because of Unlikeable Narrator, March 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you like Chick Lit, you'll probably like LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, but there's no guarantee of that. The novel is extremely well-plotted and well-written, but the main character--almost the ONLY character--is shallow, snarky, selfish, inconsiderate, and sadistic. Narrator Ani FaNelli (the reinvented former TifAni FaNelli) may be intelligent, beautiful, and so well put together that she attracts people's attention as she walks down any NYC sidewalk--but I simply don't like her. And I was unable to forgive her for being the way she is, even after I learned all about the truly terrible things that happened to her during high school.

The plot is fairly straightforward. Ani is the "sex writer" for a major women's magazine, and is planning her upcoming wedding to a young, handsome, aristocratic financier who hails from Philadelphia's Main Line "old money". TifAni has strictly plebian, all-girls-Catholic-school, wrong-side-of-the-Philadelphia-tracks origins, but the reinvented Ani can mix easily with aristocrats. Ani has learned all the right things to do: always pass the salt and pepper together; say "Nice to see you," not "Nice to meet you"; always appear as if you're not trying to be pretty even though you are pretty. Ani draws a lot of extra self-confidence from the heirloom engagement ring (with a huge emerald) that she's sporting.

Ani seems to have it all, but before she gets married, she needs to clear up some unpleasant, criminal allegations still lurking in her past. To that purpose, she has agreed to tell "her side of the story" in a movie documentary about the dreadful things that TifAni endured in high school. Those things really are terrible (if a bit predictable at times), and it is indeed a wonder that TifAni/Ani survived at all. Not surprisingly, the events that ultimately surround the filming of that documentary lead to yet another reinvention of Ani/TifAni.

To me, Ani remains a superficial, unlikeable, pretty-girl-with-a-Marilyn-Monroe-figure from novel's beginning to novel's end. Her story is mildly entertaining, but her horrible high-school experiences don't justify to me her present-day behavior, which is always self-absorbed and occasionally cruel. However, because LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE is reasonably good contemporary fiction, I rate it at 3 stars ("It's okay" on the official Amazon scale).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2015 9:38 AM PST


TP-LINK TL-WA860RE New Version N300 Universal Wireless Range Extender With Power Outlet Passthrough, Wall Plug, Plug&Play, Ethernet Port, Smart Signal Indicator Light
TP-LINK TL-WA860RE New Version N300 Universal Wireless Range Extender With Power Outlet Passthrough, Wall Plug, Plug&Play, Ethernet Port, Smart Signal Indicator Light
Price: Click here to see our price
8 used & new from $49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Rock-Solid, Versatile Range Extender Exceeds Expectations, February 28, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This TP-LINK TL-WA860RE WIRELESS RANGE EXTENDER works exactly as advertised, and far exceeded my expectations. The last range extender that I tried (the Diamond Wireless Range Extender (Old Version)) drove me crazy with its constant blinking from signal rebroadcasting, and also slowed down the wireless connections for everything on my home network. In contrast, this TP-Link range extender is solid as a rock (no blinking connections), and gives me a strong, maximum 4-bar signal in my garage, which used to receive a weaker 3-bar signal.

A great feature of this TP-Link range extender is the "smart signal indicator light" which tells you when you've installed it in an ideal location, neither too close to nor too far from your network router. I tried it in several indoor electrical outlets where it signaled (with an orange light) that the location was too close to the router. (Note: the range extender will still work if it is plugged into an outlet that is "too close".) When I moved it to an outdoor outlet in my detached garage, it signaled an ideal location (with a green light). (Note: the range extender is designed to operate within a range of 32-104 degrees F.)

A wireless analyzer (Wi-Fi Analyzer) detected the range extender in the garage as a second signal with my network's name. When I looked at the analyzer while in the garage, the second (range extender) signal was stronger than the first (router) signal. When I looked at the analyzer while in the house, the first (router) signal was stronger than the second (range extender) signal. Obviously the "smart signal indicator light" was working correctly.

Another excellent feature is the power outlet pass-through. The TP-Link range extender is essentially a "wall wart" that extends downward from its 3-prong grounded plug. The range extender will completely cover a two-socket electrical outlet unless the range extender is plugged into the bottom socket. Even then the range extender will usually block another 3-prong grounded plug from using the top socket. The power outlet pass-through feature solves this outlet-hog problem: you can plug a second 3-prong grounded plug into the range extender itself. My garage door opener works fine when plugged into this TP-Link range extender.

The TP-Link range extender is easy to set up. First, you plug the extender into an electrical outlet near your router, and wait till the "gear" light turns to solid green. Then if your router has a WPS button, you press that button, and then press the range extender's "wireless lock" button. When the range extender's "bars" light turns to solid green or orange, you have a connection. If your router does NOT have a WPS button, you can connect by going to your router settings and running the "WPS wizard" (Netgear routers), pressing the virtual WPS button, and pressing the router's "wireless lock" button.

If your router has neither a WPS button or a WPS wizard, you can use your computer's browser for the setup. There is a complete TP-Link TL-WA860RE user's manual on the included "Resource Disc" that gives detailed instructions for manual setup. A briefer version of the steps for manual setup is given as "Option 2" on the included Quick Setup Guide.

A final excellent feature of this TP-Link range extender is that it can be used as a wireless adapter for connecting wired devices to a wireless network. An Ethernet cable is included so that you can connect the Ethernet port on the wired device to the Ethernet port on the range extender after the range extender is set up to work with your router.


Hoover A301 Air Purifier WH10401
Hoover A301 Air Purifier WH10401
Price: $199.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Large-Room Air Purifier Does Good Job of Circulating Filtered Air Throughout Condo's Combined Living/Dining Room, February 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This large-room HOOVER A301 AIR PURIFIER (WH10401) does an excellent job of circulating filtered air throughout my condominium's combined living room/dining room area. The A301 model air purifier has both a main filter (a HEPA filter) and an odor filter (a porous black nylon (?) sheet that attaches to the HEPA filter with Velcro fasteners). In my experience (garnered from years of coexisting with an asthmatic spouse), HEPA filters are absolutely the best for removing dust and allergens from indoor air.

Features that I like about this air purifier are: (1) it operates in either a vertical or horizontal position; (2) it can be set to run continuously at any of three speeds or to shut off automatically at any of three speeds after 2, 4, or 6 hours; (3) it has filter lights that go on to tell you when the filters need replacing; (4) it has three fan speeds (low for very quiet, medium for average use, high for maximum cleaning); and (5) it is easy to set up because it arrives with odor and HEPA filters already installed (just remove the tape from the air purifier door, and plug the air purifier in).

I haven't been using this air purifier for very long, so I don't know how long the HEPA filter will last. I'm guessing that it will need replacing every 6-12 months. This product is so new that replacement filters aren't yet available on Amazon, or even directly from the Hoover web site--thus I can't report on how much the replacement HEPA filters cost. This air purifier does arrive with two of the optional odor filters (one installed, one in a plastic bag).


Stuhrling Original Women's 946L.01 Winchester Swarovski Crystal-Accented Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
Stuhrling Original Women's 946L.01 Winchester Swarovski Crystal-Accented Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
Price: $69.99
5 used & new from $69.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Watch for "Tailored" Person, February 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I saw this STUHRLING WOMEN'S STAINLESS STEEL SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL-ACCENTED WATCH WITH BLACK LEATHER BAND on Amazon's Deal of the Day ($54.95), I really liked its looks. Now that I have it on my wrist, I like it every bit as much. The dial has exactly the right amount of sparkle (from the Swarovski crystals marking the hours) for a person like me who prefers tailored or informal sports clothes. The transparent portion of the dial appears dark gray when the watch is on my wrist.

The stainless steel case is perfect, because my body chemistry corrodes base metal or electro-plated metal no matter whether that metal is used for watches, rings, bracelets, or knitting needles! The dial seems large for a women's watch, but my more expensive Wenger women's calendar watch has the same size dial, and the large dial size does make it easy to read the time. The watch keeps very good time.

The leather strap has lots of pre-punched holes, and I don't have to go to the last one to be able to strap the watch firmly to my narrow wrist. I prefer watches with straps to watches with bracelets made of metal links and elaborate folding hinges, because metal bracelets are always loose on my wrist when there are enough links in the bracelet to go over my large hands.

The watch comes in a bright orange presentation case that is encased in a black cardboard protective sleeve. The case includes the warranty (in a little orange envelope), startup instructions, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. The watch is battery-powered. To start it up, you pull out the little plastic tab at the watch stem.
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Sterling Silver Pearl June Birthstone and White Topaz Halo Heart Earrings, Ring, and Pendant Necklace Jewelry Set
Sterling Silver Pearl June Birthstone and White Topaz Halo Heart Earrings, Ring, and Pendant Necklace Jewelry Set
Price: $99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars June Birthstone Set--Classic Pearls Surrounded by White Topaz Stones That Sparkle Like Diamonds, February 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This STERLING SILVER BIRTHSTONE/WHITE TOPAZ JEWELRY SET, with pearls for a June birthday, is even lovelier than its Amazon photos. The overall design with birthstones surrounded by heart-shaped settings is rather sweet, but the design acquires a simple elegance when the birthstone is a pearl. What could be more classic than pearls surrounded by white topaz stones that sparkle like diamonds?

This set comes in an attractive presentation box covered with silver paper. Of course, it would be even nicer if it were presented in one of Amazon's black suede jewelry boxes--how pretty the pearls would be, against a velvety black insert!

Before you order, be sure to look at the product page video, which shows all three pieces (earrings, necklace, ring) separately in three dimensions. That way you won't be surprised by how the settings look from the back. I like the way they look, but some people don't care for plain backs, and the back of the pendant is lightly stamped with "PAJ 925 China".

Also, note that the ring comes in a size 7. Usually a jeweler can resize a ring to make it a little larger or smaller, but it's easier for a jeweler to cut a ring down than to enlarge it.
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Authentic Kero Lasso Cable (LC-LW) - Apple MFI Certified Lightning Cable 10 feet long with Cable Tie - For iPhone 6/6 Plus/5C/5S, iPad 4, iPad Air
Authentic Kero Lasso Cable (LC-LW) - Apple MFI Certified Lightning Cable 10 feet long with Cable Tie - For iPhone 6/6 Plus/5C/5S, iPad 4, iPad Air
Offered by KERO Products
Price: $22.99
5 used & new from $22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain-Priced 10-Ft. Lightning to USB Cable Connects Newer-Generation Apple Products to Distant, Hard-to-Reach Outlets, February 26, 2015
This KERO LASSO CABLE is a 10-foot Lightning to USB cable that works perfectly with my 2d-generation iPad Mini. Currently priced at $23 on Amazon, it's a good deal, because a 2-meter Lightning to USB cable (about 6-1/2 feet) costs about $29 at the online Apple Store.

The cable tie is just a Velcro strip, and can be easily removed. This 10-foot cable is very convenient for connecting a newer-generation Apple product with a distant charger or hard-to-reach AC outlet.

Disclaimer note: This review is based on a product supplied to me by the manufacturer free of charge for review purposes. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.


Nomad Cable - 3" Apple Mfi Certified Lightning Cable for your Key Ring
Nomad Cable - 3" Apple Mfi Certified Lightning Cable for your Key Ring
Offered by KERO Products
Price: $18.95
33 used & new from $17.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Convenient Cable Length; Hard-to-Open Key-Ring Cap; Uncapped Lightning Connector, February 26, 2015
This 3" KERO NOMAD CABLE charges my iPad Mini when it's plugged into the USB outlet on an AC charger, exactly as promised. My only complaint is that the "interlocking detent" feature of the key ring cap is too secure--I usually need to use my teeth to free the cable from the cap. This little lightning to USB cable will definitely not come loose easily from a key ring.

I haven't used the Kero Nomad Cable for very long, so all I can say is that it works exactly as advertised out of the box. I don't intend to carry it on a key ring with my keys, because I doubt that any cable can take that sort of abuse--especially a cable with an uncapped lightning connector. But this is a handy thing to store in the original protective packaging in my car's glove compartment.

Priced at $19, this 3" key-ring Lightning to USB cable costs the same (at the time of this review) as a standard half-meter or one-meter cable purchased from the online Apple store. Because of the tight key-ring cap and the uncapped lightning connector, I rate this Kero Nomad Cable at 4 stars ("I like it" on the official Amazon scale").

Disclaimer note: This review is based on a product supplied to me by the manufacturer free of charge for review purposes. I have no financial interest or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.


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