Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis UniOrlando Segway miniPro
Profile for DanD > Reviews

Browse

DanD's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1236
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,568
Helpful Votes: 9824


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

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

Reviews Written by
DanD RSS Feed
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
by Raymond Obstfeld
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought-provoking, an introduction to social issues for the layman, June 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like most people, I primarily know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from his role in AIRPLANE! (Oh, okay, that basketball thing, too.) Since his retirement however, he's become a celebrated writer commenting on important social issues. You may question what gives Abdul-Jabbar the authority to write about issues such as race, religion (okay, those two are kinda obvious), gender equality, aging, class, and media. He actually provides a solid introduction establishing his credentials, in a manner that becomes a trend throughout all the pieces. Abdul-Jabbar unabashedly injects pop culture references throughout the essays (from the past to the present), and often delivers insightful musings with a sardonic wit.

If I can find one flaw in WRITINGS ON THE WALL, it's that it isn't entirely cohesive. It's almost like a personal treatise, like Abdul-Jabbar created a pamphlet so you'll know exactly where he stands. I guess, of course, that's more or less the point; still, it makes me want to go pick up one of his more focused books. I highly recommend this for the average layman interested in the prominent social issues facing America; not only is it accessible and entertaining, but it's highly relevant, and proposes some important questions, and a few possible solutions, as well.


Exile on Front Street: My Life as a Hells Angel . . .  and Beyond
Exile on Front Street: My Life as a Hells Angel . . . and Beyond
by George Christie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit watered-down, but very interesting and engaging., June 16, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Is it possible to be a Hells Angel and a diplomat? An outlaw biker by night and Department of Defense employee by day? Well, maybe not the latter. But George Christie tried the former, gaining a name for himself as the biker club's peacekeeper, while also becoming one of its most influential members--before, of course, things went south and he was eventually ousted.

EXILE ON FRONT STREET is an engaging and entertaining book about the biker lifestyle, from someone of power on the inside. Its only real flaw is the fact that it seems somewhat glossed over...a very PG-13 biker memoir. You also have to question the fact that a man who knew about so much that went down draws no conclusive conclusions and gives very few tangible details. To be expected, of course; but if you believe every word in a memoir like this, then I've got some ocean front property in Arizona I'd like you to look at.

That said, EXILE is an engaging read, and it's entirely possible that the book is completely true (though not the complete truth; there's a huge difference). Christie makes for an almost whitewashed narrator, but he has a wry sense of humor that intrudes here and there. I'd love to read something he writes when he has nothing to lose, when statues of limitations no longer matter. This is a pretty watered-down outlaw memoir, but it's still worth a read.


The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
by Michael Tackett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.77

3.0 out of 5 stars A nice slice of baseball Americana., June 7, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is book is about one of the many unsung heroes of baseball: guys who devote their entire lives to the game, the players, the fans. In this case, our hero is Merl Eberly, an Iowa baseball coach who helped craft the carriers of such mainstays as Ozzie Smith and Bud Black, but also hundreds--if not thousands--of others, not to mention the community of Clarinda that rallied around the team.

There's a lot to recommend THE BASEBALL WHISPERER. It's one of those books that just kind of brings a smile to your face thinking about. Eberly's story is a good one--born during the Depression, a wayward youth who found himself through sports, and eventually helped a community establish its identity. The only real problem here is in the telling. Michael Tackett has a gift for prose--the book flows along, his writing is solid--but the arrangement is just repetitive. It's unfortunate, but as is, the story feels like it takes too long to tell; too much focus on individual players, that stretches out over multiple chapters per player (and this, coming from an Ozzie Smith fan). It's definitely worth a read, if you're into either baseball or a good ol' Americana feel good story. I guess this is the best way I can say it: I usually shy away from anything that reeks of schmaltz, but THE BASEBALL WHISPERER is a story I think of fondly, and with not a little admiration.


Hail, Caesar! [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Hail, Caesar! [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
DVD ~ Josh Brolin
Price: $19.96
48 used & new from $11.78

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky, vaguely dark ensemble comedy, June 6, 2016
Hollywood. The 1950s. The Golden Age of filmmaking. Those who live there live on top of it all. Unless you're studio fixer Eddie Mannix, and our studio's most famous actor has just been kidnapped. Mannix races against time to gather the ransom, all the while dealing with an unraveling spiral of secrets and lies and the quirkiness that is Hollywood.

The Coen Brothers make, essentially, two types of films: comedies, and comedic melodramas that border on horror. No Country For Old Men and Fargo fall into the latter, and truthfully, these are the films I tend to enjoy more; their comedies can sometimes become downright crude. Not so with HAIL, CAESAR! While it's true this film has limited appeal outside of Coen fans (it's a very tongue-in-cheek love letter to the film industry), it's expertly made and has a wry sense of humor running beneath the surface. The script is solid, if not their best, and the acting is near-flawless. It's always nice having Josh Brolin in a lead role, and George Clooney clearly enjoys working with the Coens (though he tends to ham things up too much with them; here it sort of works). I won't go through the entire cast because, well, there was apparently a huge casting call, but Alden Ehrenreich is a standout; this could be a star-making vehicle for him, as he plays one of the more sympathetic characters--the film's aw-shucks moral center.

I know several Coen fans who didn't particularly care for this movie; and while it's true that it doesn't rank up there with their best--it's not even their best comedy--HAIL, CAESAR! is far from a wash. In fact, I feel kind of guilty having to defend it. It's a solid film that's worth repeated viewing, and does exactly what its masterful filmmakers set out to do. Isn't it kind of wrong for us to expect more?


The Wolf Road: A Novel
The Wolf Road: A Novel
by Beth Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but intriguing and plenty dark, June 3, 2016
This review is from: The Wolf Road: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Teenaged Elka is lose among the ruins that are left of the world, a vast wilderness polluted when her grandmother was just a child. She has just fled the man she's always known as Trapper--or, in her more affectionate moments, "Daddy." Because Elka has just found out that Trapper is actually a vicious serial killer, being hunted by the vengeful (and equally terrifying) Magistrate Jennifer Lyon. Elka flees into the forest, unaware that the man who raised her, who made her a part of this world, is hot on her trail. And violence--and a few terrifying realizations--follow in his wake.

THE WOLF ROAD by Beth Lewis is kind of hard to explain. There's a lot to to love about it; it feels somewhat original (though I'm sure it isn't; but at least it *feels* that way, that's pretty rare), and features two very interesting characters: Trapper and Magistrate Lyons, who offer contrasting villainous-ish roles. Plus, by the end it gets pretty dark, which is always a plus. And yet, the character of Elka never fully comes across. A large part of this is because of a flaw inherent in a lot of survivalist fiction: the repetition. You can only have your character do so many things on their own in the wilderness before your story gets bogged down. And where Lewis tries to interrupt the monotony, it feels forced. Maybe the book is too long; and the opening scene, while pretty bada**, is a bit out of place so early (like a quick shot of espresso before sitting down to watch paint dry). THE WOLF ROAD has some pretty big flaws, but if you like interesting takes on post-apocalyptic fiction, then it's worth a read.


The Dream Life of Astronauts: Stories
The Dream Life of Astronauts: Stories
by Patrick Ryan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written stories rooted by a great sense of location and theme, May 31, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A man who worked on the Challenger program has an affair with his boss's wife, while his boss maintains she is slowly poisoning him. Against the background of the Watergate scandal, a boy watches his family fall apart due to his father's jealousy. A proud man who's suffered a stroke deals with the lack of respect he senses in the people around him--most especially his sons, who've turned aggressive and mean-spirited. A former mob man hiding in the Witness Protection Program feuds with--and attempts to seduce--the haughty head of his condo board.

These are stories that stretch across generations, focused around southern Florida and, mostly, the space program. This unique feel helps this collection flow, as does Patrick Ryan's prose, which is solid and underlined by the sense that there's chaos within the order. On the other hand, the stories of THE DREAM LIFE OF ASTRONAUTS aren't, necessarily, spectacular. It's a worthy read, and the stories themselves are mostly enjoyable; but they don't have a lingering punch that makes great short fiction truly stand out. I almost feel like I've read some of these stories before, in one form or another; though admittedly, not from Ryan's talented pen.


Lifeproof NÜÜD SERIES iPhone 6s ONLY Waterproof Case - Retail Packaging - BLACK
Lifeproof NÜÜD SERIES iPhone 6s ONLY Waterproof Case - Retail Packaging - BLACK
Price: $50.99
30 used & new from $39.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, does what a good phone case should do, and doesn't much get in the way., May 27, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I recently upgraded to an iPhone 6+, and carried it in a rinky-dinky $10 case for a while because, on principle, I think phone cases are far too expensive. (If you upgrade through a plan, your case can cost more than your d*** phone!) I was able to sample this through Amazon's Vine program, meaning I didn't have to pay for it. But you know what? I'd be willing to fork money over for it.

I get the feeling this is watered-down (hehe, pun) version of a truly hardcore case; but if you can afford one of those "a tank can run over your phone and you'll be able to call Mom and tell her all about it" cases, you probably don't shop on here very often. The case suits my purposes: it slides in and out of my pocket; it completely covers the phone, save the screen (the edges of the case stick outward slightly; if dropped straight down, your screen shouldn't touch the ground). The vibrate switch takes a little getting used to, as it's backwards, but once I got the hang of it I kind of like it. The flap for the charging cable is easy to work, and the cable fits in nicely. (You may think, "duh," but with my last case it didn't.) I can't for the life of me figure out how to open the headphone plug; I have never plugged headphones into a phone (I'll watch an occasional YouTube video, but my music goes on my iPod), and I know that's a big thing, but I have the feeling once you figure out how to open it, it'll be easy.

I haven't really tested dunking my phone underwater, because I'm not an idiot, but I did accidentally spill a bottle of water on it an hour ago, and when it came away unscathed, I figured now was a good time to write the review. I'm happy with the case; like I said, I got it for free, and figured hey, I'll just buy something else if I don't like it. No need to buy another, though. This one does the job.


Dinosaurs on Other Planets: Stories
Dinosaurs on Other Planets: Stories
by Danielle McLaughlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good--but not as memorable as it should be., May 27, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In these enchanting, yet subtly unnerving stories, an aging couple deal with their wayward daughter's return--as well as the grandson they never see, and the sheep's skull he finds on their property. A woman going through relationship hiccups deals with her daughter's new obsession with foot-binding. A young girl feuds with her mother's friend over the woman's mentally challenged daughter. A couple must deal with their son's new obsession with the end of their world, and the random acts of violence this leads him to.

Danielle McLaughlin's DINOSAURS ON OTHER PLANETS is a beautiful collection, make no mistake about it. McLaughlin's prose is full of vivid imagery and interesting characters; I read the book in just a couple days, and that's with a full-time job. There's a tension just beneath the surface of events, as these characters deal with realistic situations that seem a tick or two away from exploding into chaos.

Why just 3 stars then? I tried to give it 4, but I couldn't. When sitting down to this review, I had to go back through and read some lines from the stories so that I could remember what they were about. The ones I didn't remark on, I honestly don't recall exactly what happened. The stories don't STICK. I remember her prose--and yes, I'll check out anything else she does, because her prose is truly beautiful--but the whole point of a story is to...well, tell a story. And these seem fleeting. I don't want to give the ultimate condemnation of a story collection--"This would best be served in a creative writing classroom"--but it's a struggle not to actually say it. There's a lot to love here, but I can't help think what her prose would be like when given a lingering plot or a truly haunting premise.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2016 7:22 PM PDT


The Witch [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
The Witch [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
DVD ~ Anya Taylor-Joy
Price: $14.96
41 used & new from $10.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A triumph of acting, atmosphere, and tension., May 21, 2016
A Puritan man banned from his colony takes his family into the wilderness to live. But soon their infant child goes missing, and tensions revolving around the children arise. Is there something in the woods? Or is the evil already within their walls?

It's hard to describe the plot of THE WITCH. In fact, it's best to point out the film's subtitle: "A New-England Folktale." That perfectly sums it up: a dark little fable, a bloody fairy tale rooted in actual American history. It's a film that's slow going at first (I'd had high hopes, and about 20 minutes in I was expecting to be disappointed), but it's clearly a labor of love and dedication on the part of writer/director Robert Eggers, and eventually the sluggish plot catches up with the nerve-jangling tension and atmosphere, and the movie lingers with you afterwards. It goes places most modern horror films only say they will go, with imagery that lingers. Yes, there's some gore; but the gore is transient. It's there and gone. But the shifting shadows, the flickering candlelight...hell, the cinematography even makes a rabbit look sinister.

There are two main components that help this be a superb horror film. First: Eggers' dedication. He doesn't pull punches and he doesn't back off; this isn't a horror film that got watered down somewhere along the line. It's an unhappy story that doesn't end happily. Face it. Second: the acting. It's solid, all across the board. Of course, there's only six principle actors, but when four of those are child actors, it's saying something, as children are usually a liability in horror films. But THE WITCH is a film that revolves around contemporary concerns about teenage girls (the Salem Witch Trials, Miller's THE CRUCIBLE, etc), and thus relies upon the younger characters. And the acting is superb. The sense of dread is palpable. Every inch of this film leaks tension. That isn't necessarily enough to make it a classic, or even to make it universally enjoyable, but it's more than 99% of horror films have these days. THE WITCH has that necessary quality that's so lacking in the genre today: dedication.


Make Me (with bonus short story Small Wars): A Jack Reacher Novel
Make Me (with bonus short story Small Wars): A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.48
115 used & new from $1.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Jack Reacher at his best, but it's still freaking Jack Reacher., May 19, 2016
Jack Reacher spots a town's name: Mother's Rest. A little nowhere town surrounded by roughly a million miles of fields. Curious about why the town bears such an unusual name, Reacher departs the train...and instantly encounters a woman who mistakes him for someone equally big. Which is strange because Reacher is a big, big man. Stranger still: turns out the woman is a P.I., and her partner is missing, and she has no idea if anything's happened to him or if he's running late. Reacher doesn't much care. Until he realizes how strange the townsfolk are acting. How they're following him. Reporting on him to someone. Mother's Rest isn't what it seems. And Reacher has just stepped into a world of trouble.

I'll cut straight to it: MAKE ME isn't a grade-A Jack Reacher novel. Some of Child's schtick is wearing thin: the random encounters; the strong-but-not-strong-enough female lead who falls head-over-heels for Reacher and drops her panties at the first chance; the henchmen who are tissue-thin and about as strong; the elaborately-detailed fight scenes (here, rendered far too poetically, as though Child is almost making fun of himself). I can barely even remember which Reacher novels are what, except for my first, which remains my favorite (and I can't even remember the name off the top of my head; NOWHERE TO RUN? Jesus, they all sound alike after a while).

That's pretty harsh, eh? So why 4 stars? Because: this is still a Jack Reacher novel. This is still Lee Child. He's still the Hemingway of action thrillers. And the novel reads quickly. Very quickly. Almost 500 pages flew by for me. And the plot is intricate, and interesting, and by its end, very dark. No, none of it seems realistic by this point. But you sort of accept that going in. I mean, how many times can one man just happen to be in the right place at the right time? Take it with a grain of salt. Is MAKE ME great Jack Reacher novel? No. But it's a damn enjoyable one.


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