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Customer Reviews: 241
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Brenda Frank "Eclectic Reader" RSS Feed (McLean, Virginia)

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The Best American Mystery Stories 2013
The Best American Mystery Stories 2013
by Tom Barlow
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.10
108 used & new from $2.12

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Mystery Stories is a Box of Chocolates, November 1, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
ALL of these stories are well-crafted and deserving of being in the collection. However, some people like chocolates with nuts and some people like cream-filled. This group of stories has choices that appeal to everyone.

Among the chocolate-covered cherries, my favorite, are "The Sailor in the Picture," by Eileen Dreyer, "The Ring of Kerry," by Dennis McFadden and "The Street Ends at the Cemetery," by Clark Howard. These are the type of stories that linger. They stay with you long after the book is closed.

Other stories, like "Crossing," by Andre Kocsis, are equally compelling and enjoyable, but, in my view, don't qualify as mysteries. They're simply short stories, not who-dun-its.

There are a few coconut and cream-filled, my least favorite, in the mix. "The Devil to Pay," by David Edgerley Gates, was confusing and "Bullet Number Two," by Hannah Tinti, just didn't appeal to me. It was more of a "slice of life" than a mystery story.

All of these stories have been previously published in magazines and other anthologies. Many come from Ellery Queen Magazine, which makes me consider subscribing. Michael Connelly and Joyce Carol Oates are probably the most well-know and popular authors among the contributors to this collection.

Although I like mysteries, Lisa Scottolini, the editor, attracted me to "Best American Mysteries." I have read most of her work and heard her speak; she has my total confidence in her judgment.

Although "Best American Mysteries" is a box of chocolates, there are plenty of yummy selections, and it's all of fine quality.

Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy
Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy
by Bret Contreras
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.73
72 used & new from $12.48

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improve your Body without a Gym, October 24, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The concept of improving your muscles without weights or machines is appealing. It removes major excuses for not exercising and allows you to workout anywhere, at your convenience.

However, I had the impression that "Bodyweight Strength Training" would require no equipment. That isn't exactly the case. Many exercises use furniture and structural items of your house to replace gym equipment. Think of hanging off the rafters as a monkey.

Various exercises use a vertical pole, chairs, large boxes or a weight bench, open rafters, a sturdy door or a chin-up bar, a step stool and a table. Sometimes you might be safer and better off using some gym equipment rather than furniture for exercising. Chairs can move while you are doing your scapular shrugs. You certainly don't want to misjudge the sturdiness of your door.

Exercises are grouped by body parts and designated with degree of difficulty, from one to four. This allows you to design a personalized exercise program or work on specific muscle groups.

The anatomical illustrations are wonderful. Using both men and women, the drawings depict the function of each exercise and clarify the movement. I own both Women's Strength Training Anatomy and Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd Edition(for men) by Frédéric Delavier, which also show exercises illustrated with people without skin. The Delavier books have better illustrations with much greater detail, but employ bands, free weights and machines in the exercises. I find the anatomical diagrams in all of these books extremely helpful when selecting and performing exercises.

I would like to see more explanation and guidance in how to do the exercises correctly, both for effectiveness and to avoid injury. There are many admonitions to "do this" or "don't do that, " omitting the "why" of the directive. For example, in performing the"Single-Leg Box Squat" you are told, "Don't let your knees cave in or out," but the reason for this instruction is missing. Proper form is critical in improving and protecting the body, and many of us need explicit and more detailed instruction.

The last chapter of "Bodyweight Strength Training" has useful advice in how to design a training program to meet your goals, including a chart of all the exercises and sample routines. I'm confident that this book can guide you to achieve your ideal body; it's just a matter of doing it . . .

A New Leaf
A New Leaf
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, October 17, 2013
This review is from: A New Leaf (Amazon Instant Video)
Henrietta is adorable. Matthau is perfect as he is transformed by her and by a special fern, really! His "gentleman's gentleman" is also well done. Lots of fun!

Gray Ceramic Solar Cascade Fountain
Gray Ceramic Solar Cascade Fountain

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Fountain, October 16, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The ceramic bowls are easy to clean and don't have algae clinging to them, like terra cotta does. Also, the mount for the solar panel allows it to face the sky giving the fountain more energy to run more often.

The top bowl arrived in pieces. However, the company quickly sent a perfect replacement bowl.

Accused: A Rosato & Associates Novel
Accused: A Rosato & Associates Novel
by Lisa Scottoline
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.80
278 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much About Mary, October 13, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have read all the Scotollini Rosato series and loved them. They have interesting characters, laugh-out-loud humor, good Grisham-style legal content, and satisfying mystery. I expected the same in "Accused," but was disappointed.

The Rosato series is about the law firm of Rosato and Associate, a topnotch, Philadelphia, all-women firm headed by Bennie Rosato. Scotollini is a talented, clever, witty and extremely humorous writer. I have read all her work and generally find it entertaining and satisfying. Being an attorney, Scotollini is qualified and able to write credible legal mysteries.

"Accused" is mainly about Mary Dinunzio and her family. Nothing wrong with Mary, but the good part of the other books in the series is the interplay among the other lawyers, their families, and the investigator in the Rosato law firm. "Accused" began with Judy Carrier working with Mary on a case, but Judy fell out of the plot just as the case began. Mary and her Italian family are fun, but not as a steady diet.

Scotollini always throws in some girl-stuff and angst, but Mary's angst in "Accused" just didn't do it for me. It was too "girlie," unlike Scotollini and more like Nora Roberts. I love the J.D. Robb "In Death" series, but never read the mushy Nora Roberts romances. (J.D. Robb is a pseudonym for Roberts.) They're just too gooey and boring. In "Accused" the extraneous human-interest story largely focused on wedding dresses. Yuck!

Give us more meat and less fluff in the next Rosato book, Lisa. I'm still a fan, but keep up your standards.

HP Officejet 6100 e-Printer Wireless Color Printer
HP Officejet 6100 e-Printer Wireless Color Printer
Price: Click here to see our price
81 used & new from $49.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works for Me - update, October 13, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This wireless printer meets my needs. Our Brother Laser printer started leaving smudges on the paper, and I wanted a reliable back-up that didn't cost a fortune. This HP hooks up to our wireless network smoothly, allowing me to park it in any convenient place, rather than attached to the computer.

It cranks out nice, sharp copy in short order. I'm not looking for photo-quality, just printed copy suitable for ordinary use. I also have an Epson photo-quality printer. This HP prints MUCH faster than the Epson, although slower than a laser printer.

Sure, you have to buy ink and it is expensive. However, that's the case with most printing devices. The cost of a toner cartridge for my fax machine is ridiculous. The price of toner and ink cartridges is so high that the cheaper machines are nearly disposable. At least with the HP, you can buy individual cartridges. It comes with the usual tiny ink cartridges, allowing you enough to try it out. I bought a 932XL black ink cartridge for $32 that will print 1,000 pages. Since I'm not running an office, this will keep me going for a good while.

It is an inconvenience to remove the paper to print an envelope, but not a deal-breaker. I don't print many envelopes. If you routinely write letters and print envelopes, this is not the printer for you.

The cloud printer feature doesn't have much relevance to me. I don't have an I-Pad and work exclusively from my laptop or desktop computer, so I can't say much about printing from "the cloud."

This HP printer is not an ultimate printer, but it's not priced as one, either. It gets the job done.

UPDATE: The printer squeals! As the paper goes through the printing process the printer emits high-pitched, loud noise. I think that plastic parts are rubbing against each other, but I haven't figured it out, yet. The printed documents still look good. Other than the squeal, I'm still happy with the printer.

LATER UPDATE: The printed stopped squealing! I don't know why, but it's now quiet. I'm getting very nice color printing. It printed beautifully several photos on photo paper. It also printed perfect cards on card stock. Great performance!

Bell 22-1-34000-8 BellAire 4000 Tire Inflator
Bell 22-1-34000-8 BellAire 4000 Tire Inflator
Price: $27.20
3 used & new from $27.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Free Air!!!, October 13, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am opposed to paying for air at gas stations, and free air pumps are practically nonexistent, now! Yes, I have scouted all the local gas stations looking for free air pumps. It's not just the coins you have to deposit to get the air. I don't like to feel pressured by the time limitations to raise my tire's pressure. (Sorry, I felt compelled to write that.)

I feel so strongly about free air that I routinely use a bicycle air pump to inflate my car and motorcycle tires. Granted, it is a high quality bicycle air pump, but it still requires a lot of pumping to reach the requisite tire pressure. Of course, I justify this by saying that I'm expending calories and working the muscles. Who needs a gym when you have a tire pump?

In short, the Bell Tire Inflator is designed for a person like me, who likes to be self-reliant and is unwilling to adapt to the demands of modern gas stations. I know that this product is probably intended as an emergency tool to be carried in the car, but it is also a nice item to have in the garage, too.

A more important motivation for me to have the Bell Tire Inflator is that I own two motorcycles with spoked wheels. The spokes make it very difficult to attach an air hose to the valve. Yeah, I should put on valve stem extensions, but I haven't. Many of the commercial air pumps have long, metal connectors on the ends. They don't have the flexibility needed to bend around the spokes and connect to my motorcycle tire valve. That's where the Bell Tire Inflator comes in. What a nifty solution!

The Bell hose easily bends around the spokes to attach to my motorcycle tire valve. The first time I hooked it up and turned it on, I felt amazed that I could just stand there and watch the tire inflate. I was stunned to see that I could simply watch it happen, rather than pumping and pumping. I know, where have I been living, under a rock! It's just me. . .

In short, this device worked just as advertised. It has a built-in light that would allow you to use it on a dark road. It has the reflective triangle and warning flasher that could save your life on the side of a highway, and can pump up a flat well enough to allow you to reach a gas station, in an emergency. You don't have to use tire sealant that can make a flat unrepairable, making this emergency repair very expensive. The Bell Tire Inflator would sure make me feel better if I felt a thump from one of the car wheels while driving on a freeway at night.

Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
by Wil S. Hylton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.19
95 used & new from $11.15

71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings History Alive, September 26, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Pure military history has never appealed to me. Although I enjoy history, I have no military background and war stories and battles have never particularly interested me.

"Vanished" is different. I found it to be a real page-turner. Reading during lunch turned into reading at the kitchen table after lunch to find out what happened next. That's because "Vanished" isn't pure military history, but the story of the personal quest of Pat Scannon to unravel the mystery of a B-24 bomber that disappeared with its crew on September 1, 1944 in the Pacific near Palau, colored by the personalities and circumstances of the crew and their families and put into context by the strategy and actions of the Japanese and U.S. military forces.

Hylton's saga resonated for me, having visited Papua New Guinea and Midway Island and toured the remnants of the Japanese and U.S. World War II tunnels, bunkers, tanks, gun batteries, pillboxes, ammunition storage huts and memorials. My Pacific travel included diving in Fiji, Tahiti, and Papua New Guinea, so I could also identify with the location and recovery process of the wrecks and artifacts Scannon discovered, explored and recovered.

Scannon's motivation to uncover the details of the vanished bomber and crew was driven by the need of the families of the airmen to know what happened to the men and, hopefully, recover remains to officially put to rest. This process took ten years, thousands of dollars, and liaisons with government organizations and veterans. Scannon went from an interested observer with a 1993 expedition to find a Japanese trawler sunk by George H. W. Bush in July 1944 to a man driven by the need to identify and explore military planes sunk in the Pacific to find soldiers missing or killed in action.

"Vanished" is well written and replete with notes and supported by an extensive bibliography. The only improvements that could be made to "Vanished" are improving the clarity and the details of the maps included in the book, and adding more photographs.

Note: I appreciate the quality of the paper used to print "Vanished." Frequently, I am disappointed to find quality books printed on thin, cheap paper. Personally, I would prefer to pay a bit more for a more enjoyable reading experience and a more permanent book.

The Total Fishing Manual (Field & Stream): 317 Essential Fishing Skills (Field and Stream)
The Total Fishing Manual (Field & Stream): 317 Essential Fishing Skills (Field and Stream)
by Joe Cermele
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.47
81 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great fishing book!, September 19, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of the most in depth fishing books that I've read. It contains a ton of information about many types of fishing techniques. Fly, bait, lure, shore and boat fishing are all covered. I learned new tricks and methods that I have never heard of through my years of fishing. It covers tons of species of fish as well. It even has instruction on how to make your own lures out of household items. This book has even enabled me to dig up old dusty lures from my tackle gear that I never used because I didn't know how to use them. It is put together very nicely as well with even metal corners on the cover and very thick pages. Excellent coffee table book for anyone who enjoys fishing and even for those people that think they know everything there is to know about fishing.

Fiskars 8 Inch Amplify RazorEdge Fabric Shears (170810-1001)
Fiskars 8 Inch Amplify RazorEdge Fabric Shears (170810-1001)
Price: $18.19
15 used & new from $11.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ease and Precision for Sewing, September 11, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I quilt and sew using many types of fabrics. These projects always require precise cutting, and scissors never seem to be sharp enough. Although when quilting I usually use a rotary cutter on a mat, there are times when scissors are more convenient.

These Fiskars are up to the job. The soft-touch grip is easy on my arthritic hands, and the blades cut with precision and no effort.

I don't really understand the "floating tang." Apparently, the "amplify technology" senses blade separation when cutting thick fabrics and forces the blades back together." Whatever, it definitely works.

These scissors come with a "lifetime warranty" which covers defects in materials and workmanship as long as you own them. Although the warranty, itself, wouldn't persuade me to buy these scissors, it gives me reason to think that I'm buying a durable product. Since I try not to be a member of the "throw-away society," the warranty appeals to me.

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