Profile for Gary K. McCormick > Reviews

Browse

Gary K. McCormick's Profile

Customer Reviews: 259
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,700
Helpful Votes: 731




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Gary K. McCormick RSS Feed (San Jose, CA)
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Horse Healer: A Novel
The Horse Healer: A Novel
by Gonzalo Giner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Would have been better had the author been reined in..., March 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The Horse Healer", by Spanish veterinarian Gonzalo Giner, is an adventure story set in the turbulent years of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, when the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula were starting to push back against the Muslim invaders who had occupied what is now Andalusia. The time and place in which this story is set is ripe for a full-blooded adventure tale such as this book aspires to be, but the execution of the concept lags behind the potential of the setting.

While there is something to be said for "writing what you know", too often -- and this is such a case -- an enthusiastic author elevates a practitioner of their own profession or specialty to an overly exalted position in order to push the story. Horses were, of course, quite important in medieval times, especially to the knightly warrior class, and the culture if Islam fairly worshiped the animal. As a story device it allows the young protagonist, Diego, to interact with many different people in many different situations and places all across the landscape of what is now Spain in pursuit of his quest to become a skilled "horse healer" and along the way attempt to rescue the sisters whom his failure to follow direction allowed to be kidnapped by Moorish invaders.

In the book Diego does too much and goes too many places to be believable. The character strays too far from what should be the main thread of the story -- rescuing his sisters -- as if the author had so many ideas he didn't know how to choose among them, and just threw them all into the book.

In addition to the plot and story execution flaws, the translation into English is clumsy, quite often overly literal, and sometimes mystifyingly obtuse, bogging the reader down in clumsy phrasing and odd word choices. This book falls short of the mark for a recommendation from me.


iPhone 5/5s Case, ullu Handcrafted Premium Leather SnapOn Case - Deep Sea
iPhone 5/5s Case, ullu Handcrafted Premium Leather SnapOn Case - Deep Sea
Price: $50.00

2.0 out of 5 stars First-order Fail - It Doesn't Fit!, March 29, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This case fails the first order of business for a protective case - the product (iPhone 5C) won't fit into the case! Too bad, because it's nice-looking, and has a great feel in the hand.


Snugg® iPhone 5c Case - Leather Flip Case with Lifetime Guarantee (Black) for Apple iPhone 5c
Snugg® iPhone 5c Case - Leather Flip Case with Lifetime Guarantee (Black) for Apple iPhone 5c
Offered by TheSnugg
Price: $29.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice fit, full protection – strong magnet can cause problems, though, March 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like the full protection aspect of this case, which is the price one pays for a loss of convenience as far as using the phone’s camera (have to hold the front flap out of the way to take photos or video). One caveat, though – the magnetic latch is powerful enough to scramble hotel-room card keys and the magnetic stripe on parking lot cards!


The Book of Speculation: A Novel
The Book of Speculation: A Novel
by Erika Swyler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, witty, and complex tale of life, love, mystery and the Tarot, March 24, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Erika Swyler's "The Book of Speculation" is an imaginative journey through a morass of family mystery, Tarot magic, and the unseen world of carnival shows.

When a package containing a mysterious book - hundreds of years old and full of cryptic entries - arrives at the doorstep of Simon Watson's crumbling cliffside house on Long Island, Simon, a librarian at the local county library, is set on a path of discovery which pulls him back through time. The book, which turns out to be the journal, or logbook, of an 18th-century traveling circus, teases out clues to Simon's own convoluted family history, offering clues to his painful past, and hints as to what the future might hold.

The story offers a host of complex characters, surprises, and a few unexplained factors which, though I noted them, I did not find to detract from the full development of the plot. There is dark magic, of the kind which only seems to show up in the oldest parts of the New World, in New England and the Northeast, and which is ultimately shown to have its source in the Old World. The narrative switches back and forth from Simon Watson's present-day quest to puzzle out the secrets of the mysterious book and how they relate to his weird family history - his mother drowned, his father dead a scarce few years later of heartbreak, and his younger sister wandering the carnival route reading Tarot for gullible marks at each stop - and the history, family history as it turns out, which is recounted in the book.

"The Book of Speculation" is a dark but fascinating journey, which, though it does not serve up the answers to all of a reader's questions tied up in a neat little package delivered in the last chapter, is ultimately satisfying in its delivery of a parcel of mystery.


Oreck Revitalize Carpet Cleaner
Oreck Revitalize Carpet Cleaner
Price: $374.71
2 used & new from $374.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Works well, but has a couple of small shortcomings, March 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Using the Oreck Revitalize Carpet Cleaner is my first experience with a non-industrial carpet cleaning machine. After a less-than-wonderful experience with a rental unit from the local supermarket a few years back I was looking for a good experience from a personal unit from a brand I recognize. My house does not have wall-to-wall carpeting, but we do have large area rugs over hardwood flooring in the living rooms and family room, and that is what I wanted the Oreck unit for (also upholstery).

First and most important - it works, and works quite well. Even after a thorough vacuuming, the Oreck pulled a noticeable amount of dirt out of the area rugs. Curiously, on the first try, on the cleaning pass, the dirty water tank wasn't filling. I could see water being vacuumed up out of the rug, but it seemed to be evaporating quickly and just leaving a bit of dirt residue in the tank. When I went back and did a rinse pass on the rug, the accumulation of water in the dirty water tank was what I expected.

For upholstery I think the unit has some shortcomings. Without the rotary scrub tool which is optional, or comes with a more fully featured unit in the line, the upholstery brush is not too effective. The head of the unit incorporates the sprayer, brush, and vacuum head in one, and the cleaning solution does not stay in contact with the fabric long enough to do an effective job. The brush passes over the sprayed area, then the vacuum sucks it up, very quickly.

One small nit that I had was the difficulty of removing all of the water from the clean water tank. Neither the fill hole nor the spring valve at the bottom of the tank are th low points in the surfaces they occupy, so it takes a bit of shaking and swishing around to the the last bit of water out, which is kind of a pain in the neck.

Nits aside, I found that the Oreck Revitalize did a good job cleaning my rugs, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a DIY carpet cleaner.


Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
by Dan Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.23
48 used & new from $14.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One more from the master, March 18, 2015
When the pre-eminent sports writer in the world has penned his memoir and is pushing 86 years of age to boot, his fans can be excused for thinking that they have seen the last book from him. Well, luckily for the legion of Dan Jenkins fans around the world, the master didn't hang up his Royal typewriter after he finished his memoir - he has just released a new book, "Unplayable Lies".

A collection of essays and columns, like his earlier works "Fairways and Greens", "The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate", and a couple of others, "Unplayable Lies" contains 40 pieces, about half of which were previously published in Golf Digest magazine and the rest of which are brand new. As usual in Jenkins' work, the columns are by turns funny, informative, acerbic, and cynical - but always honest. Jenkins has been everywhere in the world of sports, seen everything, and known everyone, and the depth of his knowledge and feeling for the game of golf comes through in the essays in this book. Some of his attitudes might come across as a little outdated to younger readers - or those with thin skins - but that's more their problem than his.

Like all of Jenkins' books, the depth of his knowledge and the honesty of his work shine through. In the loving yet crisply analytical foreword to the book which was written by his daughter, Sally, an accomplished and award-winning sportswriter in her own right, she speaks of the three lessons as a writer that she learned from her father: "the absoluteness of his concentration, the contrariness of his thinking, and the depth of his respect for good writing. All of which can only be called integrity."

I'm thrilled to have this new work from the man whose writing piqued my interest in the game of golf, and eventually led me to pursue the craft of writing about it myself, and at the same time sad to think that this probably really is the last long-form work we'll see from him. I take heart from the knowledge that, if this is indeed his last shot at long-form writing, it's a helluva good one.


The Temple of Light: A Novel
The Temple of Light: A Novel
by David Piazza
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Author knows her stuff, but not the easiest read, March 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The premise behind "The Temple of Light" -- that the temple of an ancient goddess-sect (which has evolved into the worship of Mary in medieval Italy) lies beneath the foundations of a cathedral in Milan -- is interesting, and author Daniela Piazza's background in literature, philosophy, and art history provide strong underpinnings for the story; however, the many interwoven plot lines give the story a sense of over-busyness, and the prose is somewhat stiff at times. I found this book to be very difficult to get into, and despite the novel idea which is the basis for the tale, reading this book was more work than pleasure.


Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30, 5.5 Ounce
Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30, 5.5 Ounce
Price: $10.13
3 used & new from $10.13

3.0 out of 5 stars Works fine, smells odd, March 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the limited amount of testing I have been able to do in the waning days of winter (even in California) I have observed that Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport Sunscreen appears to provide a level of protection consistent with its SPF 30 rating. It stays on, continuing to offer protection against UV rays, even when the wearer is sweating. My only complaint is that it has an odd aroma, halfway between "unpleasantly medicinal" and "cheap drugstore perfume".


Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard--America's First Spaceman
Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard--America's First Spaceman
by Neal Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but deeply flawed biography of a polarizing character from the early days of the US space program, February 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was enjoying "Light This Candle" tremendously until I got to the final couple of chapters. The tone of the book was a bit sensationalistic at times, but it was an enjoyable read, and seemed to offer a thorough look at the man who became "America's First Spaceman". I started to have misgivings in the final chapters, though, where the author recounts Alan Shepard's retirement years. I noticed a large number of errors in the golf-related references; for example:

* Thompson refers to Alan & Louise Shepard's ashes being scattered over Stillwater Cove, which he places next to the 17th green of "...Pebble Beach's Cypress Point course..." - Stillwater Cove is adjacent to the 17th green of Pebble Beach Golf Links; the Cypress Point Golf Club is a couple of miles away around the point, and is a private club which is not affiliated with the Pebble Beach Company.

* The author refers several times to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, previously the Bing Crosby Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, as having been started by Crosby in the 1950s, when it actually began in Southern California in 1937, running through 1942 before halting because of the war, then picking up again at Pebble Beach in 1947.

* The address of the Shepard home in the Del Monte Forest area of the Monterey Peninsula is described as overlooking the 6th, 7th, and 8th holes of Cypress Point Golf Course, which he refers to as the most challenging trio of holes in the world. The cited address is over a mile away from those particular holes, which carry no such distinction.

It's not that these errors are any big deal in and of themselves - what is important is that these are easily researched bits of information that would have been very easy to get right, and it is obvious that Neal Thompson and/or his publisher simply didn't bother to do so.

The inaccuracies which I noticed gave me pause, and then I started reading some of the other reviews here on Amazon and discovered that the rest of the book is rife with misstatements and inaccuracies with respect to the space program as well as Shepard's time in the Navy. This knowledge really takes the shine off the book for me, and while it was an entertaining read, I am afraid that, because of the factual errors, it cannot be taken seriously as an authoritative biography.


Miele Dynamic U1 Jazz Upright Vacuum, Canary Yellow
Miele Dynamic U1 Jazz Upright Vacuum, Canary Yellow
Offered by K&M HOUSEWARES AND APPLIANCES
Price: $549.00
10 used & new from $549.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, efficient - but heavy, February 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Miele Dynamic U1 Jazz upright vacuum cleaner is a well-designed, efficient cleaning machine. With its adjustable suction settings, carpet/floor on/off switch, and flex-tube with accessory tools for cleaning furniture, stairs, drapes, etc., it is very versatile. Pickup from low-pile carpet and smooth, hard floor surfaces is very efficient, the swiveling body allows for amazing maneuverability, and the LED lights in the front of the floor unit do a great job of illuminating the surfaces being cleaned. The only drawback that I can see, and my only complaint, is the unit's weight. As shipped, the vacuum weighs 26 pounds, and since the box didn't weigh very much, the unit itself must weigh in at or near 25 pounds. When using the vacuum, you are maneuvering and supporting a large percentage of that weight - essentially everything above the swivel joint. I was actually achy and a bit sore the day after using this vacuum to do a thorough cleaning in a 1,600-square-foot house. I love how well the unit performs, but the weight will take some getting used to.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20