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Profile for C. T. Mikesell > Reviews


C. T. Mikesell's Profile

Customer Reviews: 130
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C. T. Mikesell RSS Feed (near Dallas, Texas)

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Defender ST101 Covert Pinhole Color Security Camera Pen with 4 GB USB Memory
Defender ST101 Covert Pinhole Color Security Camera Pen with 4 GB USB Memory
Offered by eovas
Price: $25.98
3 used & new from $20.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better Alternatives Abound, January 2, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Is a camera pen cool? Definitely. Can you have fun with *this* camera pen? Possibly.

As advertised, the Defender ST101 Covert Pinhole Color Security Camera Pen (with 4 GB USB Memory) takes still pictures and video. Provided your lighting is adequate, your pictures will be adequate, too. Nothing glorious, but they'll do the job. The video is choppy, but being able to clip the pen to your pocket and stroll around with the camera running is easier than holding your cell phone and walking around (or maybe it's just me that has that problem). Sound, of course, would have to be added in post-production.

You can surreptitiously photograph people/things, though concealing the amber/blue light may be an issue. I've taken random candid shots and pictures of notes on a whiteboard and they came out "good enough." Nothing I couldn't have done (better) with a cell phone, but the USB was a handier option than Bluetooth or cable syncing with my computer. That said, I suspect most potential purchasers will be plenty happy with the technology they already own rather than add this pen/camera/USB drive to their kit.

If you're not prone to buyer's remorse and/or your therapist doesn't have your secret agent obsession handled with medication or hypnosis, give the camera pen a go. Otherwise content yourself with the more-powerful options you likely already own. (Likewise, although the pen works just fine, any halfway-decent clicky pen is just as good at a small small fraction of the price.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2013 2:59 AM PDT

KR Tools 10299 25-Feet Rapid Read Calculator Tape Measure
KR Tools 10299 25-Feet Rapid Read Calculator Tape Measure

3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not fantastic, October 21, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I ordered this tape measure I thought the calculator would be a great feature. Unfortunately it adds bulk that makes it awkward to hold. That said, it's solid and the lock on the tape measure holds securely; overall, things function fine. If you don't have a clipboard with a built-in calculator and are in need of both a tape measure and a simple calculator this will work fine.

Verbatim Acclaim 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive 97164 (Piano Black)
Verbatim Acclaim 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive 97164 (Piano Black)
Offered by Better And Better
2 used & new from $70.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy!, October 21, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This portable hard drive performs as promised. Good data retrieval speeds means I can archive video to the drive and watch it play back without transferring it to my laptop. Only drawbacks are the short length of the cable that comes with the hard drive and the cap sealing the drive in the enclosure feels like it might snag on something when transporting the drive. A longer cable would be nice, but a third-party cable works OK. I have not experienced any problems with the end seal, but it does make me a little nervous.

Oral-B Vitality Dual Clean Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush 1 Count
Oral-B Vitality Dual Clean Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush 1 Count
Price: $27.78
2 used & new from $26.21

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the sonic toothbrush, October 21, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I used to have an Oral-B sonic toothbrush that cleaned well but irritated my teeth. This toothbrush cleans as well as the old toothbrush but doesn't set off the buzzing, tickling sensation. It also sprays less toothpaste if I open my mouth while brushing or the bristle end comes out while I move the toothbrush around. Fewer toothpaste specks on my clothes make me a happy camper!

Deliver Us from Evelyn
Deliver Us from Evelyn
by Chris Well
Edition: Paperback
52 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golden, July 18, 2006
This review is from: Deliver Us from Evelyn (Paperback)
Chris Well's follow-up to Forgiving Solomon Long doesn't disappoint. Seamlessly blending pop culture and crime fiction, Deliver Us from Evelyn does for comic books and blogs what FSL did for classic TV.

Despite some pretty "out-there" scenes, the novel is at heart character-driven (or at least Well has found the perfect characters to inhabit his wacky plotlines). And while Evelyn Blake gets all the attention in the title and synopses (not that she'd let anyone share her limelight), there are plenty of other primary and secondary characters to love (or hate): the fortune-seeking, chocolate-popping mobster wannabe, the much-put-upon staffer(s) at Evelyn's magazine, the Evil Duke Cumbee (just the name and you're hooked), plus the feds/cops from the Organized Crime Task Force introduced in FSL.

There's a Bible story woven through the plot much the same as there was in FSL, but things turn on the elements of human nature revealed in the Bible, not in "deus ex" machinations. Ultimately the bad guys are brought to justice because of their crimes, not because they aren't Christians; this hasn't been--and still isn't always--the case with books coming from Christian publishing houses. If you're looking for a preachy book, this isn't it.

But if you're looking for a book that blends comedy, tragedy, action, a little romance, and whole lot of mayhem, Deliver Us from Evelyn delivers all that and more.

The Last Disciple
The Last Disciple
by Sigmund Brouwer
Edition: Hardcover
165 used & new from $0.01

18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but Has Potential, March 31, 2005
This review is from: The Last Disciple (Hardcover)
The Last Disciple has an interesting plot. Unfortunately, it's often hampered by poor writing. A couple more passes of the editor's pen would have eliminated a lot of the wordiness and over-constructed sentences. The writing improves midway through the book (or maybe you just get used to it), but it can be a struggle getting through the first few chapters.

Another problem for the book is that the authors neglect to wrap up any of the dozen or so storyline threads. Everything is left in transition, with half the threads ending (for now) halfway through. I can understand that the authors want to do a series, but when everything is set up for payoff later it means that nothing pays off now. It doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable first volume.

That said, there are plenty of moments that capture interest and most of the characters are more than cardboard cut-outs. The good guys have their bad points. The bad guys have layers of nastiness and understandable motivations. Regardless of what you may think of the book's eschatology, this is a vast improvement over the Left Behind series.

The End-Times aspect of the book neither impressed nor discouraged me. This is a work of fiction. Implementation of ideas is more important than factual accuracy. I'm unconvinced the Left Behind series has much accuracy; I don't expect much truth in prophetic interpretation here, either. If you're sensitive to that kind of thing, this may not be the book or series for you.

The novel's not entirely bad, but it's no Ben-Hur, either. I'm going to wait until the series is complete before pursuing it further.

Forgiving Solomon Long
Forgiving Solomon Long
by Chris Well
Edition: Paperback
59 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, February 11, 2005
This review is from: Forgiving Solomon Long (Paperback)
Too often Christian writers settle for being imitative instead of original. Thankfully Chris Well is not the Christian answer to Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen; his voice and style is unique. While fans of Leonard and Hiaasen - and Shakespeare - will enjoy this novel, it will be because it presents a fresh and funny take on the mob scene, instead of the all-too-typical over-moralized Christian fiction knockoff.

Forgiving Solomon Long is the story of a contract killer who develops a conscience late in his career. It's also the story of mobsters who quote everything from Chekhov to The Odd Couple (and, unfortunately, Punky Brewster), pop decongestants like tic-tacs, and try to find their way in a world that has stopped making sense. And then there are the men and women of law enforcement, whose worlds are beginning to fall apart as well. All of it told in a fast-paced, funny style that will keep you laughing as the chapters whiz by.

My only problem with the book comes at the ending. In an effort to keep things fast-paced, description and imagery are sacrificed, characters are forgotten (although that seems somewhat intentional based on a literary observation by one of the gangsters), pop culture references all but disappear, and the story gets stretched a bit thin. It's not enough to detract from the brilliance of the first three-quarters of the book, but still - bada-bing - there it is.

If you're looking for a book with engaging characters and an entertaining plotline, that deals with issues of faith without preaching, and tackles Shakespearean tragedies (e.g., Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar) without being overly blatant, pick up a copy of Chris Well's breakout first novel. You might not forgive yourself if you don't.

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
by A. J. Jacobs
Edition: Hardcover
168 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Smart-ish, January 18, 2005
A.J. Jacobs' autobiographical romp through the Encyclopaedia Britannica is light-hearted, fact-paced, and trivia-strewn.

There are two parts to "The Know-It-All": the individual encyclopaedia entries and Jacobs' running commentary on his life, how facing his quest changes him, and all the places he's gone with an encyclopaedia in tow. It's like a travelogue through the Britannica. You find out about everything from cross-eyed fetishes to a wide range of ancient and modern philosophies, and at the same time Jacobs deals with father/son issues - both between himself and his father and himself and his will-he-ever-be-conceived child - and in-law sibling rivalry. Jacobs' sense of humor isn't going to get him a sitcom deal any time soon, but his wry observations about history are amusing if not always side-splitting.

Is it a problem that the author is an extremely privileged individual? To a degree, yes. It becomes tedious after awhile, reading about all the fun things he gets to do based on a seemingly endless supply of cash - one scene of him and his wife sweating an American Express bill would have been appreciated. At the same time, if I had the opportunity to do the things he did, I probably would. Would I like to jaunt across the Atlantic for a wedding or cross-country to keep my wife company? Sure. Like to meet Alex Trebek? What is "yes"? Drop several thousand dollars on a set of reference books? You betcha. If I'd like to do those things, I can hardly begrudge Jacobs the opportunity himself.

Jacobs comes to the conclusion that knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing, but that knowledge is worth having if it gives broader insight into the questions of life and allows for wiser decision making. It reminds me of an old stand-up bit I heard as a kid: Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a Cadillac so you can drive around looking for it. Knowledge and money are tools to gain the prizes of wisdom and happiness. Maybe you wind up an educated fool who is soon parted from his money, maybe not. But you'll never know unless you begin the journey.

Reading this book won't necessarily make you smarter, but it should make you laugh out loud at times. Maybe you get wiser, maybe you don't; but for relatively little money you'll find yourself with some happy moments - and a book to drop on spiders - and that ain't too bad.

Shoofly Pie (Bug Man Series #1)
Shoofly Pie (Bug Man Series #1)
by Tim Downs
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.34
95 used & new from $0.01

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polchak: The Bug Stalker, January 10, 2005
Shoofly Pie is a very enjoyable book. Set in rural Holcomb County, North Carolina, where Nick Polchak expects to keep himself out of trouble, the novel sets up nothing but for our hero and his client, Kathryn Guilford. With an ever-increasing body count and bugs swarming everywhere, Polchak and Guilford must find a way to expose a killer before they wind up as just so much Shoofly Pie, themselves.

The pacing of the novel is fast and the dialogue is frequently funny yet still believable. The scientific elements are presented convincingly without weighing down the story with technical details - how accurate they are, I don't know, but it all sounds pretty plausible when you're reading along. Downs runs into some trouble keeping his POVs fixed; when telling things from Kathryn's perspective, for instance, he will often use technical insect names or forensic jargon she herself wouldn't know. Sometimes he'll include a description of something down a hallway that the POV character couldn't see. Minor points, but they keep the book from getting a five-star rating.

Very little Christianity gets presented in the book; it's limited primarily to the presence of an elderly preacher who conducts a couple funerals. He's treated sympathetically (an exception from the way a secular book would likely portray him), but he never preaches a sermon of Christ-oriented salvation (an exception from most evangelical novels). The net result is a message that Christians are okay folks, no need to run and hide when they come around. There's little in the book to offend - no sex, no swearing and "on-screen" violence is limited to a couple fistfights - but Downs doesn't go to the Pollyanna extreme, either.

If you're a fan of any of the CSI programs on television, you'll likely enjoy Shoofly Pie. A few scenes carry descriptions as gooshy as the graphic CSI animations, so if those creep you out - or if you're insectophobic - you might want to give this novel a pass. Otherwise, get ready for an experience unlike anything you've had before. Shoofly Pie is well-worth reading.

I Spy Christmas:  A Book of Picture Riddles
I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles
by Jean Marzollo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.62
294 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh what fun it is to spy..., December 24, 2004
If you're familiar with the I Spy series, you know what to expect in this book. If you're new to the world of I Spy, imagine staring in your fully stocked refrigerator looking for the Philly cream cheese. You know it's there - you just bought it yesterday - but for the life of you, you can't find it. Then your spouse comes by, reaches around you and grabs the tub from beside the two-liter bottle of Pepsi. I Spy is just like that: you know what you're looking for, you know it's in the picture somewhere, and some clown is bound to come by and find it immediately after you've been searching for a half an hour. That's why I recommend letting your spouse have first crack at the pictures. It makes your finding the specified objects a breeze.

The thirteen hide-and-seek pictures in the book all have - as you might suspect from the title - a Christmas theme. There's Santa's workshop, assorted sugar cookies and Christmas tree ornaments, shop window displays, and an arrangement of dolls and stuffed animals that looks a lot like something from the movie, E.T. Most images are set as cheerful tableaus, but several are avant garde arrangements of knickknacks, doodads, and Christmas goodies.

The riddles are challenging, not because they're cryptic but because they have you searching all over the page to find what you're looking for. I find it helpful to work on two or three elements from the riddle at a time. If you're looking for an ice cube, a twist of lime and a carrot-nose all at the same time you're bound to run into one of the three sooner or later. Plus it cuts down on the frustrating "ooh, I just saw that ... where'd it go?" moments. Once you've exhausted the riddles - and that should take a while - it's good to find a friend and play "I spy with my little eye something that begins with...." The pages are jam-packed with everything from angels to zebras, so you'll never run out of things to spy.

There are only a couple drawbacks to the book. First, the glare from the glossy paper can make it difficult to find anything on the page if the lighting isn't right. Second, there's no answer key. It's left to your own judgment as to whether you've found what you're looking for. There are times when you'll be looking for an object, say a jingle bell on the "Holly & Ivy" page, and you'll see something that looks less unlike a jingle bell than anything else on the page, but you're left wondering if you've actually found it or not. Granted, there are those who'd start with the answer page and fake their spying prowess, but for honorable souls there's no option to solemnly swear you've tried your best and then sneak a peek at the answers. Oh well, I guess it's time to let my wife have a look.

The pictures in the I Spy books are as incredible to look at as they are to search for the hidden-in-plain-sight objects. I Spy Christmas is an excellent choice to add to your collection or to start one with. Enjoy!

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