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Profile for S. Foley > Reviews


S. Foley's Profile

Customer Reviews: 11
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Helpful Votes: 70

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S. Foley RSS Feed (Seattle, WA, USA)

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The Rylerran Gateway
The Rylerran Gateway
by Mark Kendrick
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from $35.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor editing, February 22, 2011
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This review is from: The Rylerran Gateway (Paperback)
I admit I was unable to finish this book. With that in mind, I did read over a hundred pages in the hopes that it would get better, but I simply couldn't force myself to continue. I purchase gay speculative fiction in an effort to reward authors who venture into such uncharted territory, but this book was one of the true disappointments.

While the plot offers an intriguing basis for both setting and story, the writing style is short, choppy, and terse--sentence after sentence without any commas, em dashes, ellipses, semicolons--and it is best summed up as mechanical. There's no flow between sentences in a paragraph, no smooth line of dialogue to follow; just brusque phrases that rarely extend over one line before running up against a period. It breaks immersion, and supremely distracts the reader from the reading experience.

The one-star review mentioned a lack of sex in this book; while there might have been only a singular scene, the author certainly does not neglect his descriptions. But because of his mechanical style, there's no intimacy: instead, the characters' thoughts come off as repetitious musings that can consistently be summed up as "Gosh, he's so hot." (Except, no comma, because those are apparently verboten.) The flirtatious behavior is similarly clunky and juvenile, which would be an interesting insight into the characters ... if it weren't written with the apparent vocabulary and sentence construction skills of a middle school student. When reading a book, one expects prose, not bulleted lists in paragraph form.

There's also a deluge of jargon in the prologue and first chapter, lots of completely unnecessary (and frequently unexplained) neologisms, and a few technical problems that rendered several sentences in a different typeface and size quite unexpectedly.

Teva Men's Itunda Closed Toe Sandal
Teva Men's Itunda Closed Toe Sandal

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, for the price, January 8, 2011
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Decent feel and (thus far, anyway) moderate durability. However, there are no fasteners on the cinches, so they constantly come loose after only a few hours of use. This leads to chafing if you're not careful to re-tighten the cinches often.

Velcro would have been a significantly better option here, rather than the smooth (and very slick) cinch straps.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2011 12:23 AM PDT

The Bastard Prince
The Bastard Prince
by Megan Derr
Edition: Paperback

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Editor badly needed, January 6, 2011
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This review is from: The Bastard Prince (Paperback)
Having read some of Ms. Derr's other stories, I acquired The Bastard Prince with a bit of trepidation. Like many authors, she has written some excellent works with real depth and wit, and others that were formulaic: rote studies of unidimensional characters in thoroughly predictable settings. For an example of the former, one need look no further than Prisoner; this work, however, can only be grouped with the latter. The best that can be said about this novella is that it may be easily finished in less than an hour.

One can make several judgments about the book simply by skimming through it, and while such surface-level observations obviously cannot prove the worth (or lack thereof) of the content within, they often hint quite accurately at the quality to be found upon further examination. As such, one might be content with noting the cover's lack of appropriate design; poor use of negative space, unintentionally off-center elements, and decorative typefaces with drop shadows do not lend an air of elegance to any work, much less a Regency storyline. The text inside has poor margins, worse line spacing, and full justification without hyphenation. The latter would not necessarily be a problem if it were not for the fact that one occasionally finds a line of text with more space than letters. A closer examination affords a view with plenty of typographical errors, as well as a seeming lack of decisiveness about whether to use line breaks or tabs for new paragraphs.

These manifold oversights are footprints by which one tracks poor editorial control, and the writing itself suffers similarly at the hands of this animal. The reader is treated to breathless descriptions of clothing and other meaningless finery, repeated almost verbatim throughout the story. These painstakingly elaborate itemizations might be allowed for if manners of dress were actually a plot device, but when these brocaded paragraphs are not given a second thought by the denizens of a dreary nation, they represent an almost criminal waste of space in an already short story. I have already alluded to the flat characterization and predictability, which serve mostly to diminish the scant redeeming value to be found in the dialogue--what little Ms. Derr has seen fit to dole out, anyway.

The worst part is that this setting held such promise, being placed in a corner of Prisoner's rich world. But the connections one might expect from such a union are never explored after brief allusions, almost as if the author simply wishes to trade on the success of an earlier work. I am hesitant to believe that, but if Ms. Derr's next editor cannot divine when to appropriately use a colon instead of Yet Another Em Dash, I will consider the matter settled.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 19, 2011 7:27 PM PST

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Offered by Hixson Supply
Price: $15.65
227 used & new from $0.02

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunities, September 6, 2010
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The single-player campaign is solid, carefully designed, and very well paced. Players who want to just get on with the story will not have too much difficulty, while the overachievers and masochists can sweat through the bonus objectives and other achievements. However, SC2's only real single-player advancement was the introduction of interactive objects into scenarios. It would have been nice to see more variety, as most of the missions could be categorized as "survive for a length of time", "build up your resources and attack the enemy's base", or "scout/infiltrate an area with limited units." Even a few variations on this theme would have been nice: there's never been a mission with solely air units before, or one where you had to hold a central objective (rather than an area where you're already entrenched) against attacks both on your base and the objective simultaneously.

Now we get on to the more seriously disappointing aspects.

- Single-player voice acting is fair, but the dialogue is unbearably cheesy. It's stuffed full of cliches, in-jokes, and other references that a lot of people may not understand -- and while fan service is great in moderation, there was no restraint shown here.

- The multiplayer has devolved from a carefully balanced strategy game to a mess of micromanagement. There's a lot more emphasis on individual unit abilities, a lot more units that cannot attack either ground or air, and an overall feeling that your army is more of a patchwork (dare I say confederacy?) than a cohesive force. Starcraft 1 would often see games where you focused on a single unit type as the bulk of your army, with a few extra units to add synergy and support, but SC2 forces you into more diversity without offering much in return. Really, what do cliff-walking units give that you can't get from most air units, particularly when they often require similar tech investments?

- The list of the dead (units, that is) is stunning. Science vessels, corsairs, lurkers, dark archons, dragoons, defilers ... and in many cases, the units felt like they were just renamed to avoid the perception of them being nerfed into oblivion.

- [...] 2.0 suffers from a lot of missing features: easy offline gameplay, most of the custom map features one took for granted with SC1, and ways to meet with new people other than "throw me into a random game with strangers." It still feels half-baked, with a curious overemphasis on Facebook integration to the detriment of its overall usability.

I still bought the game to play with friends. But unlike Starcraft 1, I don't see us playing this ten years from now without some serious and far-reaching changes to the multiplayer experience.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2010 8:51 AM PDT

TableCraft H77448 Crome Plated Stainless Steel Cheese Slicer
TableCraft H77448 Crome Plated Stainless Steel Cheese Slicer
Price: $12.05
4 used & new from $12.05

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little unwieldy, September 6, 2010
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This slicer is extremely heavy. The added weight certainly lends itself to a feeling of solidity, but I can't comment on the durability after only owning it for a few months. (My previous slicer was in operation for over forty years, so I have high expectations there!) On the other hand, the ability to adjust the slice width is very nice, and it's been through the dishwasher several times with no apparent problems.

The wire is also much thicker than the slicers I've previously used, and positioned slightly inward from the fasteners. This makes it difficult to cleanly slice some softer cheeses as small bits accumulate on the wire itself, and the positioning of the wire means that you have to slice off the edge of a counter--or else have the bottom of the slice break off, every single time.

Not a bad product overall, but a bit more attention to the basics would have been nice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2013 4:59 PM PDT

Wheat Thins Family Size, Multi-Grain, 15-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
Wheat Thins Family Size, Multi-Grain, 15-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very salty, bad flavor balance, September 6, 2010
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- Slightly better nutrient content than other Wheat Thins varieties.

- Extraordinary amounts of salt. There are snowdrifts at the bottom of each bag.
- Very brittle: you can expect many crackers to be in fragments after shipping.
- Simply tastes more of salt than of anything else. Compares poorly to other Wheat Thins varieties.

Infinite Undiscovery - Xbox 360
Infinite Undiscovery - Xbox 360
Offered by You Name the Game
Price: $34.99
84 used & new from $5.85

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Graphics from 2008, gameplay from 1990, June 1, 2009
Yes, it's beautiful. Unfortunately, the beauty is a facade, the voice acting is mediocre, and the gameplay stinks.

Let's cover some of the basics:

- Huge world, no rapid travel. No teleports, vehicles, even transit animals. You have to walk everywhere, and it takes forever.

- Enjoy running around in the dark. A lot. Because everything is more fun when you can't see the traps and the enemies, to say nothing of where you're going! ... Or just turn up the gamma on your television and get on with the game.

- As other commenters have mentioned, the difference between one combo skill and another is holding versus pressing a button down. The game frequently misinterprets your actions.

- Someone apparently thought that allowing your crafting abilities to fail, destroying the items á la FFXI, was wonderful and kept things interesting. Except that, here, there's not even the flimsy justification of "keeping the server economy stable" behind this incredibly stupid idea.

- The boss battles have strange objectives that are often unclear, and when there hasn't been a save point in a long time, the frequent deaths on these become especially punishing.

- Having to herd cats -- excuse me, party members -- in towns is a strange abstraction that only serves to make crafting, equipping items, and other mundane tasks annoying and excruciating.

- Your party members love to ignore you when you die, leading to game over more often than not. Nevermind that they have plenty of opportunity and resources to resurrect you: conservation is the game here, and you're obviously expendable. The fact that you get to watch them ignore you, before you truly have to restart from your last save two hours ago, makes this all the more frustrating.

- I suppose one of the conditions from Square as a publisher was that they needed a pretty (and oblivious) male main character, and several bouncy women with extraordinarily high-pitched voices. If that's what you look for in your JRPGs, look no further.

FruitaBu Organic Smooshed Fruit, Smoooshed Apricot, 0.4-Ounce Flats (Pack of 30)
FruitaBu Organic Smooshed Fruit, Smoooshed Apricot, 0.4-Ounce Flats (Pack of 30)

2.0 out of 5 stars Sour and tough, June 1, 2009
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These are okay, but tasted fairly sour and were tough to bite into. The strawberry and raspberry were significantly sweeter and softer.

by Megan Derr
Edition: Paperback

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate and balanced, March 17, 2009
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This review is from: Prisoner (Paperback)
This is easily the best of Derr's better works.

The characters are developed so well that you find yourself anticipating their reactions toward the end of the book, much like old friends. It is a relief, also, to have multi-dimensional protagonists that can tackle problems without angsting for pages on "how shall I ever go on?"--a rarity in fiction these days, and even more so for gay fiction.

What the other reviewers have characterized as a lack of "sexuality", on the other hand, I felt was considerate, reasonable, and much more realistic than most. The clues for the romantic entanglement are there, and it is nice to see them hinted at rather than thrown in one's face. After all, this is the story of a budding relationship rather than a ten-year anniversary. It's always disappointing to see two characters fall in love and start consummation within ten pages of meeting each other, and thankfully that doesn't happen here.

While the sentences can be a little terse in a few areas, the writing quality is still excellent. Perhaps the author is more used to online writing (we can handle a few large paragraphs, honest!) but I'll chalk this up to a difference in writing style. It's still a very polished work that won't distract you with bad editing, leaps of faith, or disjointed continuity.

Overall, it's a lovely and believable world, and this customer hopes that Ms. Derr revisits it soon. If I were to make a request beyond a sequel, it would be to have a copy in hardback.

Orphan's Quest (Chronicles of Firma)
Orphan's Quest (Chronicles of Firma)
by Pat Nelson Childs
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $0.01

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely compelling, March 18, 2008
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I picked up this book while ordering several others from the same genre. At first glance, the book is well-finished and glossy; however, upon close examination the flaws become visible. Sadly, the same holds true for the prose it contains.

The book's printing lacks polish. The cover includes pixelated text, appearing as if it were drawn in Photoshop and then hastily exported at screen resolutions. No one seems to have informed the graphic artist about the virtues of properly weighted or hinted fonts, either. Finally, the text itself is not well aligned from page to page and the printing is so heavy that ink from the opposite side bled through in many places.

Similarly, the story seems more sketched than completed. While the backstories of the characters are mildly entertaining and inventive, they are mostly one-dimensional marionettes with all the panache and dazzle that one expects from puppets. The gentle giant, the mischievous elf, the enchanted woman, the brooding swordsman, and the dismissed apprentice: why, I do believe I've seen these stereotypes before! A motley crew of ragtag adventurers out to save the world from unknown evil, danger dogging their every step is just a little too clichéd these days.

The worst part, however, is the speed to which the characters arrive at conclusions. Arguments, moral dilemmas, and disagreements are handled so swiftly that they have scarcely been developed before they are hurried to their predictable resolutions. The reader is left with a dizzying sense of doubt in the plausibility of the characters' actions. For example, (presumably unintentional) infidelity is handled with great tenderness for all of two pages and then forgotten for the rest of the book. Captors who would not see reason turn warmly logical after a daring escape. Finally, a city guard is seduced with two sentences and a fluttering eyelash in a world that treats sex pretty casually -- but he is content with a fleetingly chaste kiss for his troubles. Don't get me started on the less-than-suspenseful archery contest.

Ultimately, one finishes the book before completely suspending one's disbelief. If the reading journey had been more enjoyable, I'd have said it ended all too soon, and been hankering for the sequel. Sadly, this is not so.

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