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Customer Reviews: 280
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Brenda Frank "Eclectic Reader" RSS Feed (McLean, Virginia)
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Taylor 3842 Digital Food Scale
Taylor 3842 Digital Food Scale
Price: $17.97
34 used & new from $10.70

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but Lacks Important Features, May 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This scale is okay for people who need a scale infrequently. That’s not me. I use a scale in the kitchen several times a day, every day. I’m a serious baker and cook and always weigh ingredients. Measuring by volume is just too inaccurate, messy, time-consuming and illogical.

My review is probably unfair to this Taylor scale because I am comparing it to the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, my workhorse scale. The unfairness of the comparison is that the OXO scale costs twice as much as the Taylor. However, the lack of features of the Taylor make even its lower cost a waste of money for me.

The Taylor scale seems accurate. It measures ounces and grams and tares. The deficiencies are that the platform is small and is not removable for cleaning. I routinely remove the stainless steel platform of my OXO scale since it usually gets a dusting of flour after I bake. I can’t imagine how you could thoroughly clean the Taylor scale without getting water into the mechanism, which would ruin it.

Another important feature of the OXO scale is the pull out display. This means that you can place large mixing bowls on the platform and pull out the display to be able to read the weight. With the Taylor scale, you are limited to bowls and containers no larger than the round platform, which isn’t very large.

The Taylor scale is an adequate scale for occasional use. It just doesn't perform well as a baker’s scale.


Hounded (An Andy Carpenter Novel)
Hounded (An Andy Carpenter Novel)
by David Rosenfelt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.11
78 used & new from $9.37

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn’t Grab Me, May 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have enjoyed Rosenfelts’s dog-centric mysteries/thrillers in the past. “Hounded” just didn’t do it for me. Evidence of my ho-hum reaction is that I spent three weeks reading it in dribs and drabs.

“Hounded” might have been too formulaic. Yes, Any Carpenter had his usual legal team with all their idiosyncrasies. It would have been disappointing if he had not. Yet, these characters were flat, two dimensional, with little development or roles in the plot. Even the dogs didn’t get much prime time in this story, and we all love the dogs.

I had always enjoyed Andy’s flip humor in previous novels, but didn’t find any laugh-out-loud moments in “Hounded.” The humor, instead of being funny, seemed expected and routine.

The plot in which Andy’s friend and police officer Pete Stanton was framed and arrested for murder was quite complicated, with a whole assortment of bad guys and many levels, with a nice surprise ending. Maybe my lack of enjoyment of “Hounded” was that it was too similar to Rosenfelt’s previous novels. It's not a bad book; it just feels slightly stale.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2014 4:45 AM PDT


Yard Butler IHHRP-4 Rust Proof Hose Hanger
Yard Butler IHHRP-4 Rust Proof Hose Hanger
Price: $15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Simple Solution, May 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This hose hanger doesn't cost much, does the job, and is elegant in its simplicity. It's made in the United States. The metal is joined with a nice, cold weld, is well-finished, and looks good. You have to have a sturdy pole to mount it and hold the hose securely. Also, it could be used in the garage or workroom to hold extension cords.


Krud Kutter HS01 Green Pressure Washer Concentrate House and Siding Cleaner with Mild Odor, 1 Gallon
Krud Kutter HS01 Green Pressure Washer Concentrate House and Siding Cleaner with Mild Odor, 1 Gallon
Price: $9.85
13 used & new from $9.85

2.0 out of 5 stars Requires Lots of Scrubbing, May 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Don't expect this to remove the Green Stuff from your siding just with water and spray. You still need to get on a ladder and scrub. I don't see any special results with this cleaner. In fact, I have better results with Simple Green. I can't recommend this.


d.light D20 Solar Home System Kit
d.light D20 Solar Home System Kit
Price: $144.02
25 used & new from $143.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Off the Grid, May 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This solar-powered light system has a lot to recommend it, and just a couple of flaws. Let’s start with the good:

1. It’s amazingly bright, for a solar-powered system. Anyone who has installed the old-style solar powered outdoor lights knows that they are bright enough to show people where the lights are, but not exactly useful in providing actual illumination. The d.light system isn't as bright as an incandescent bulb (or a CF, for that matter), but it does a reasonable job of lighting the area. And since the cords between the lights and the controllers are long, you can spread them out to light a wider area or mass them to create more intense light.

2. The lights are individually controlled and each one has a high power/low power option, so you can decide for yourself how to choose between brightness and the length of time your system will function without a recharge.

3. The system is advertised as providing light for a long time. One light on low power operates for 15 hours. Operating both lights high power, the system operates for 3.5 hours. But even that is a pretty long time if, for instance you are lighting a cabin, tent or garden shed. Also, the lights glowed brightly even with just a couple of hours of sun.

4. It is simple to install; all you need is a drill and screwdriver to install the 10 screws. The instructions consist of three pictures and about that many some self-evident sentences. But that’s all you need.

The flaws are minor, but worth mentioning:

1. It’s fairly pricey. At $185, this system is worthwhile only if it’s going to last a while. Otherwise, you are better off hanging an LED-powered flashlight with rechargeable batteries from the ceiling. The system is guaranteed for two years, but since this is a new product, there’s no telling how long it will actually last.

2. There is no mounting hardware. One would think that it would not be too difficult for the manufacturer to add the include screws to fasten the solar panel, the four screws to attach the two controllers and the two screws for the lights. It also wouldn't be too difficult to include cable staples to hold the wires in place, which are conveniently pictured in the instructions but inconveniently not included in the package. Did I mention that the system is pricey?

On the whole, this is a good product for lighting a shed, exterior garage or a one-room summer cabin.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2014 10:09 PM PST


All Day and a Night: A Novel of Suspense (Ellie Hatcher)
All Day and a Night: A Novel of Suspense (Ellie Hatcher)
by Alafair Burke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.56
98 used & new from $5.36

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suspend Reality and It's a Good Story, May 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
According to Alafair Burke’s website, she is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon. She is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure. So, I’m really surprised that she based her latest novel, “All Day and a Night,” on a completely unrealistic legal premise.

“All Day and a Night” refers to a man serving a sentence of life without parole - “all day and a night” in jail jargon. He was suspected of five murders but pled guilty and was convicted of only one. That murder had a “signature” of bones broken after the victim’s death.

After the convict has served 18 years, another murder is committed with the same “signature. The police assign two detectives to reopen the investigation into all the murders. Meanwhile, the convict gets a publicity-hungry lawyer who convinces a State court in one hearing to release him. Within hours, the convict is free, with no motions, no conditions, no review. When does that happen in the real world?

This story continues with more irrational elements. Other than that, the novel is a nice work of fiction: good writing; fine character development; good mystery. Just suspend reality and enjoy it.


Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, 2nd Edition
Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, 2nd Edition
by Lee H. Whittlesey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
34 used & new from $11.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Serious History of Fatal Incidents in Yellowstone - Who's Responsible?, May 5, 2014
"Death in Yellowstone" is not really about lurid encounters resulting in gory deaths. Rather, it is an extremely well researched and documented history of fatalities in the Park since it was created in 1872. "Death in Yellowstone" has 284 pages of text; a 7-page chronology; 3 appendices detailing grave sites and cemeteries; 52 pages of notes; a 15-page bibliography; and a 29-page index. This is a serious history that would interest readers of Aubrey Haines’, previous park historian and ranger.

This is a revised second edition of the original published in 1995. Author Lee Whittlesey not only updated the accounts of deaths but discovered some early deaths that he had overlooked. The 25 chapters cover all facets of death. Whittlesey is the current Park historian who has spent 35 years studying the Yellowstone area and has authored more than 10 books and 25 articles on his research.

Deaths caused by nature include thermal features; freezing; poisonous plants; falling rocks; earthquakes, and lightening. Deaths caused by humans include suicides; shootings; fights; and crashes involving cars, airplanes, horses, wagons and stagecoaches.

Whittlesey has an underlying theme of balancing risk, liability and preservation of nature in the park. Families of victims have sued the Park and demanded additional safety measures, such as fencing each of 10,000 thermal features: geysers, mud pots, fumaroles and hot springs. This demand disregards the remoteness of the features or the fact that some are in prohibited areas. The litigation also disregards the culpability, recklessness and responsibility of the victim or the victim’s parents.

Obviously, the Park has a responsibility to provide a degree of warning and protection for visitors. However, there is also an obligation of the Park to preserve the natural condition of the Park for visitors to experience and enjoy. Accordingly, visitors are responsible for heeding the warnings and alerts that the Park provides and using a reasonable degree of caution when touring the Park. An example of blatant disregard of this obligation is the risk undertaken by parents who place their young child on the back of a bison for a photograph. Bisons or buffalo are not big, dumb, fuzzy, harmless animals, but 2,000 pounds of unpredictable, sometimes belligerent, animals with lethal horns. In these cases, it is often impossible to protect people from their own foolishness.

Note: this paperback has a sturdy, glossy cover and back and is well-printed on quality paper. In my view, these assets contribute to enjoyable reading.


Zwipes 669 Pocketed Plush Lint-free Absorbent Large Drying Towel, Blue, 40" x 25" Pocketed Drying Towel
Zwipes 669 Pocketed Plush Lint-free Absorbent Large Drying Towel, Blue, 40" x 25" Pocketed Drying Towel
Offered by MembersDepot
Price: $8.99
2 used & new from $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Make Your Motorcycle Gleam, April 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wanted the Zwipes towel to dry my motorcycle. Normally I use a chamois and small terrycloth towels, but I figured that the microfiber would do a better job, and it does.

When you wash your motorcycle, you also have to dry it to avoid spots and streaks on the sleek finish. After all, everything must have that high-powered gleam!

This towel is more efficient than the chamois. It’s large size allows me to finish the entire motorcycle with one towel (it’s a small cruiser). It works as advertised and doesn’t leave lint, after the first washing. The pocket is handy to work into crevices with your fingers inside for thorough cleaning and drying.


Advanced Photoshop CC for Design Professionals Digital Classroom
Advanced Photoshop CC for Design Professionals Digital Classroom
by writer on digital design. Jennifer Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.80
61 used & new from $10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag, April 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book covers both photography and digital design. This may be a drawback for those who use one or the other. I use Photoshop for website design images, print material design and photography, so all the techniques interest me.

Don’t count on “Advanced Adobe Photoshop CC for Design Professionals” being only for advanced users. The first chapter is entitled “Introduction to Advanced Navigational Features,” but workspaces, rulers, guides and grids aren’t really advanced. The next chapter is on Adobe Bridge, which is a critical work process system for photographers and really not advanced. Chapter 10 on “Creating images for the Web” is on common procedures like formatting images; however, it also includes slicing images, a more advanced technique.

The 3D techniques might be new to the average Photoshop user. Also, creating compositions and applying special effects might be enlightening and inspiring.

I’m largely self-taught with Photoshop. When starting the lessons, I realized that there are, indeed, many useful tips that professionals use that I didn’t know. Although the shortcuts that are frequently referenced are not entirely relevant to me. Unless I use Photoshop every day, I just rely on right click rather than shortcut keys, because there are too many to memorize.

The book comes with a CD containing the lessons. Since the introduction advises the reader to register the book for the most current lessons and video tutorials, I did that instead of using the CD.

The video tutorials are helpful. However, I found that Jennifer Smith works a bit fast and uses too many shortcut keys. It would be more helpful if she slowed down and used the conventional method of selecting tools.

I haven’t had time to work though all the lessons, but I intend to. Doing so will review some techniques and fill in gaps in my knowledge. All in all, the book and lessons are helpful and will advance my ability to use Photoshop. You might benefit, as well, by purchasing “Advanced Adobe Photoshop CC for Design Professionals.”


Swingline LightTouch Reduced Effort Stapler, 50% Easier, 20 Sheets, Black (S7066402)
Swingline LightTouch Reduced Effort Stapler, 50% Easier, 20 Sheets, Black (S7066402)
Price: $12.12
43 used & new from $9.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Operates Well, with a Light Touch, April 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since I have arthritis in my hands, reduced-effort products are very appealing. This stapler will staple a stack of paper with little effort. Just as claimed, I don’t have to lean my whole upper body into it to staple the pages. Also, the soft rubber on the top and bottom of the stapler gives it a nice feel and holds it firmly in place.

The stapler exceeds its claim of stapling 20 sheets of paper. It does this easily and well, so I kept adding more. It works well for 28 sheets, then the staples become too short to hold more.

The box recommends using S.F. 4 staples. I had a box of S.F.1 staples that was about 40 years old. So, I used the nice box of S.F. 4 staples that I found in my husband’s study and tossed the ancient staples.

So far, this stapler is a smooth performer with no jamming. The only issue is that the top of the stapler does not fit over the stapling mechanism but rests about an inch above it. I think that this is part of the “LightTouch” action; however, it makes the stapler more prominent and obtrusive than I would like. Hence, a one-star deduction. At least it's a nice grey color than doesn't stand out.


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