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Confessions of Marie Antoinette: A Novel
Confessions of Marie Antoinette: A Novel
by Juliet Grey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.98
52 used & new from $5.54

4.0 out of 5 stars On par with Phillipa Gregory but not as good as Margaret George or Michelle Moran..., August 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoy historical fiction and have read my books centered around British royalty -- I also have enjoyed books by Margaret George that follow more exotic women such as Cleopatra and Mary Magdalen. So I figured I would branch out a bit.

My knowledge of Marie Antoinette was basically limited to the oft-repeated mis-quoted "Let them eat cake". So I wasn't sure what to expect going into this.

Though this is the 3rd book in the series, it was the first one that I read so I felt a little like I was missing a bit of the backstory -- particularly since I did not know much about Marie Antoinette.

However, after reading the book, I feel like I know quite a bit about her... and have a decent appreciation for who she was and what she had to deal with. The author writes very well -- a bit too colloquial as if she is trying a bit too hard to make the characters seem just like the readers... However, Grey is still able to tell a good story while mixing solid history. As with a lot of historical fiction, after reading this book, it has inspired me to do my own "research" to find out how much was history vs fiction.

By the end of the book, you can't help but feel sympathy for Marie Antoinette. However, as with a lot of historical fiction, even though there are plot twists and turns, you ultimately know how it turns out (spoiler alert -- it doesn't end well!) and you still wish that somehow it could be different.

Sometimes the book does get a bit ploddy -- sort of like the author is trying to hit a particular page count so there is a fair amount of repetition and filler.

However, I think it was a great read and will most likely go back and read the earlier books as well just so I can fill out what I missed going into this book...

[NCJVR]


Smays Genuine Leather Card Holder Case with Stand for Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G (Magenta)
Smays Genuine Leather Card Holder Case with Stand for Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G (Magenta)
Offered by Smays
Price: $13.99
2 used & new from $13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent case for a reasonable price., August 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This case fits my Huawei phone perfectly. I like the color of the case and the fact that the design holds the phone securely without cluttering up the screen with clunky straps or elastic bands. I also like the fact that you can stand it up like a tablet.

The leather is thin and not exactly the most luxurious in the world -- but given the price, it still works very well. Compared to cases I have used for other phones, this adds minimal bulk to the phone and provides decent protection.

[NCJAR]


Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G LTE Smart Phone - 16GB - 6.1'' Screen - Quad Core - Factory Unlocked - US Warranty (Black)
Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G LTE Smart Phone - 16GB - 6.1'' Screen - Quad Core - Factory Unlocked - US Warranty (Black)
Offered by Huawei Device USA
Price: $350.00

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the BEST PHONE I have ever used -- regardless of price., August 19, 2014
I have a bit of a problem -- I love gizmos and gadgets. Part of it is they are my lifeline to work (I'm an IT geek working in Production Support so need to know if our system up and dies). Part of it is that I also have to have my music and my books with me wherever I go.

I started out with Android but after a couple of years, I drank the Koolaid and went with the iPhone because iOS was much more stable and user-friendly.

I tried the Casio Gz'one earlier this year thinking that perhaps Android had improved and, well, it was free from my cell phone provider. I wound up returning that phone after a week because it suffered from the same laggy buggy issues that made me go with the iPhone in the first place.

Then the Amazon Fire phone came out and I really liked that because I am wedded to the Amazon eco-system for music and books. Finally, there was a phone that made accessing my Amazon content a breeze without having to jump through 10 hoops. But the problem with the Amazon Fire phone is the cost and it is still not fully "baked".

Huawei offered me this phone and given my love of gizmos and after reading the other reviews, I was eager to try it out.

First thing... if you are going from an iPhone to a Fire Phone (or virtually any other Android phone), it is a significant jump in size. Well, this is yet another huge jump in size over the Fire phone... It is only slightly smaller than a Kindle reader screen and what many would consider to be a "phablet" (though I really hate that term).

But what about the actual phone itself? Could a 299 phone really compete with phones that cost 700 - 1000 bucks?

Um, yeah! This phone is amazing.

Size: The screen is huge but it is very thin and lightweight -- even with a case, it weighs less and is thinner than my iPhone 5. I was accustomed to carrying my iphone in my jeans pocket -- that isn't happening with this phone (my one regret).

However, the advantage of this phone is that you can actually READ what is one the screen and you can actually type on it with your fingers because the on-screen keys are large enough to accommodate something larger than a toothpick stylus. And being over 50, my eyes definitely appreciate the extra real-estate.

Screen: The screen is absolutely amazing. Bright, beautiful and easily as good as the Fire phone and the Retina displays on the Apple devices.

Operating system:

I've discovered that each Android system is slightly different in terms of what utilities and menus they provide with their particular device. I've used Motorola Droids which were very different from Casio which was different from Asus and VERY different from the Amazon Fire (since Amazon's version has really "tightened" the functionality in order to make their phone easier to maintain -- taking a page from the iOS playback of "control = stability").

Huawei's OS implementation is probably the best version I have seen -- they have several utilities for file management, user profiles, phone manager, themes, downloads etc without burying everything under the ubiquitous "setup" icon. In short, if you are a techy-type who loves to manage your own phone, Huawei gives you the utilities to do it and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where and how to do it.

One of the things I really like is how easy it is to actually kill running processes rather than just having them linger in memory taking up resources. If you wind up with a lot of applications open, devices get bogged down and sluggish. Here you have full control at your fingertips to get rid of applications you aren't using anymore.

Performance:
This phone performs better than ANY smartphone I have ever had. Scrolling has no "lag" or jump to it. That was one of things that I disliked about Android in the first place and caused me to switch to iOS.

Sound Quality:
Again, Huawei sounds as good if not better than any phone I have used -- regardless of price. Call quality is excellent. Music quality is also outstanding and you would never guess that this is a 300.00 phone and not a higher-end music player (part of that may be due to the fact that I'm using Neutron for music playback which supports higher bit-rate and 64-bit processing)

Video:
I have never taken videos with my phones before but the day I received this phone, my boys also got a RC helicopter so decided to try it out. Works REALLY well and creates great sounding videos. The clarity of the video image itself is not the best in the world but this is a cell phone -- not a video camera.

The downside is that this phone only works with AT&T and T-Mobile and those carriers just do not provide the coverage that I'm used to with Verizon. However, this phone works great as a WIFI only device so I could still keep my Verizon phone service and basically use this as a much more like an iPod Touch on Steroids for a LOT LESS money and a lot more functionality.

So in my humble opinion, this phone is great for:
1. Anyone who would like the advantages of a smartphone but don't want to sign up for a 2-year commitment.
2. Already has AT&T or T-Mobile and would like to upgrade their phone without plunking down 2-3 times the cost of this phone
3. Doesn't want to have to carry a tablet AND phone all the time because the phone is too small read.
4. Wants to have all the advantages of an iPod Touch without the cost and limitations associated with iOS
5. Techy people who really like to manage the resources and apps on their phone.
6. Non-techy people who WANT to learn to manage the resources on their phone but can't find the find the tools they need because they are buried 4 levels deep in an obscure menu.
7. Someone who wants the benefits of the latest and greatest technology without having to spend more 700 bucks.

While I like the Amazon Fire phone a lot because of its ease of use with Amazon, this phone is definitely a better value and all-around superior device at a fraction of the cost. I simply love all the flexibility and functionality and that fact that I can afford to buy this outright without having to sign away my life for 2 years (which is at least 2 lifetimes for a cell phone).

FWIW -- unlike Samsung or Apple phones where there are TONS of cases and accessories, there aren't many yet for the Huawei. I am currently using a Smays Genuine Leather Card Holder Case with Stand for Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G (Magenta) that works very well with phone...

[NCJAR]
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2014 5:12 PM PDT


Westinghouse 7800000 Brentford Indoor/Outdoor Five-Blade Reversible Ceiling Fan with Clear Seeded Glass, 52-Inch, Aged Walnut Finish
Westinghouse 7800000 Brentford Indoor/Outdoor Five-Blade Reversible Ceiling Fan with Clear Seeded Glass, 52-Inch, Aged Walnut Finish
Price: $331.00
3 used & new from $299.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful fan -- but make sure your room is large enough for it., August 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Growing up in the Chicago area, I never knew about ceiling fans. When I moved to North Carolina and they were a de facto standards, I really grew to appreciate how well they work... so much so that when my sisters were renovating the family vacation home (which has no A/C), I pushed them into getting ceiling fans and they, too, were hooked.

If you don't have A/C (or don't want to spend the money on constantly using it), Ceiling fans are a "must have".

This particular ceiling fans is probably the nicest one I have seen -- I love the old-world hand-blown look of the glass with bubbles in it.

This ceiling fan is HUGE. I originally thought I would put it in my cabin which is a whopping 600 square feet total... However, this would dwarf the largest room. Instead, I have installed it on my porch at home and again, this makes that space much more pleasant on steamy summer nights when you want to watch the sunset.

I had someone install it for me since that is beyond my "do-it-yourself" capabilities so can not comment first-hand on the ease of installation... however, I didn't hear too much cussing from the guy that installed it so I'm assuming it was fairly straight forward.

If you have a large space and are looking for a cottage-chic look, this is a good choice. Perfect for large rooms and outdoor porches...

[NCJVR]


Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper 24 Mega Roll (6 packs of 4 Mega Rolls)
Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper 24 Mega Roll (6 packs of 4 Mega Rolls)
Price: $34.79
3 used & new from $31.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked ever since I first saw the ginormous "Parent" rolls at the P&G Plant, August 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So how exactly does one review toilet paper? When I was a kid, my mom used to buy the cheapest brand possible (this was back in the day of Mr. Whipple and "please don't squeeze the Charmin") and it was not fun to use -- ok... no toilet paper is really "fun to use" but some.

Then my sister married an engineer from the Mahoopany plant of P&G where they made Charmin. I remember seeing a warehouse full of HUGE "Parent Rolls" (literally about 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide) and was in awe. I had a chance to use Charmin for the first time. I vowed never to use the cheap brands which don't hold up and are like using sandpaper. I figure if my finances are in such dire straights that I can't afford Charmin, then I have bigger financial issues than toilet paper.

In the long run, (though I haven't run the numbers), I think Charmin is cheaper because you have to use less of it to get the job done. And it is just much more pleasant to use. I love the convenience of the Mega Rolls because you don't have to change rolls as often... and considering my kids don't know how to change a roll of toilet paper to save their lives, this is important to me!

[NCJAR]


Turtle Beach Ear Force Heroes of the Storm PC & Mobile Gaming Headset (TBS-4222-01)
Turtle Beach Ear Force Heroes of the Storm PC & Mobile Gaming Headset (TBS-4222-01)
Price: $79.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Affordable and precise soundstage but not comfortable for those wearing glasses or extended wear., August 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So headphones have started disappearing at our office... Which is a problem if you like high-end headphones. So I got these... I figure they are distinctive enough that no one would steal them. Plus, they also make great headphones for conferenc calls!

Sound quality is very solid... Though a bit muddy for music, which is my primary use. Very detailed in terms of soundstage ... You can practically picture where each musician is sitting relative to you.

They are not the most comfortable headsets in the world... They are tigh on my head and I do not have a big head. Wearing glasses at the same time adds to the discomfort.

Build quality is solid and if you are purchasing for kids, I think these would withstand the abuse. There is no carrying case but they do fold flat so they can be transported in a computer backpack without adding too much bulk.

If they perform this well for my non-gaming applications, I think they would be a solid affordable choice for gamers which don't require audiophile quality but where precision of sound location is important.

[NCJVR]


Vector Blade Electric RC Helicopter GYRO Gyroscope 3.5CH Channel USB IR Infrared Ready To Fly RTF (Colors May Vary)
Vector Blade Electric RC Helicopter GYRO Gyroscope 3.5CH Channel USB IR Infrared Ready To Fly RTF (Colors May Vary)
Offered by Airsoft Joe
Price: $35.95
3 used & new from $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars REALLY durable and user friendly!, August 13, 2014
We received this RC Helicopter today and my boys (14 and 17) have been having a lot of fun with it. We have had RC bugs in the past which never worked too well and broke easily so wasn't sure what to expect from this RC Helicopter.

First, I will say that my boys are NOT practiced in the art of flying RC aircraft. However, they were able to figure it out without having to do much with the instructions.

Getting the helicopter to actually lift up proved to be the trickiest part -- particularly if the battery was not fully charged. However, after several failed test flights, my son got the hang of it.

I will say this is very durable for an RC toy -- there were MANY crash landings and even though it would land against something with the propeller still spinning, it still kept working -- again, this is a HUGE plus over the other RC toys we have had in the past.

To borrow one of my ex's favorite sayings, this is sort of the Wagnerian Opera of toys -- moments of brilliance punctuated by hours of boredom. The amount of time required to charge the helicopter relative to the amount of "flight time" seems pretty excessive to me -- you have to charge for 45 minutes to get 7-8 minutes of flight time. Since we haven't had a lot of RC toys in quite a long time, I'm not sure if this is typical -- however, if you have small kids, they could get frustrated pretty easily with all the time waiting for it to charge relative to the amount of time they get to spend playing with it.

However, this is a great gizmo if you are into RC toys and have the patience to let it charge. For the price and the durability and ease of use, it is a great product. Helicopter was provided for review purposes.

[NCJAR]


BOOMco. Whipblast Blaster
BOOMco. Whipblast Blaster
Price: $14.97
18 used & new from $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes your kids give up their gadgets and enjoy being, well, kids, August 12, 2014
This review is from: BOOMco. Whipblast Blaster (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Between my sisters and I, we have 6 boys and we all got together for summer vacation.

These days it seems like most of the boys are busy texting their friends or glued to YouTube. However, we broke these out and and despite the fact that the youngest of the boys is 14 and the youngest and the oldest is 23, they all had a blast (no pun intended) with these guns -- we have a very large yard with few trees and they were chasing each other around again like they were little kids... I'm not sure who had more fun -- the cousins or us three girls watching them relive their youth!

Because of the distance that this shoots, darts are easily lost -- which is a problem since only 4 darts are included with the gun -- so if you decide to have your own "family feud" -- make sure you order more "ammo".

It is nice to be able to have the cousins come together enjoying some "low tech" fun and burning off energy. Any toy that encourages that kind of fun is a great "investment"... just be sure to bring the extra ammo!

[NCJVR]


OXO Good Grips Twist & Pop Strawberry Huller
OXO Good Grips Twist & Pop Strawberry Huller
Price: $7.99
6 used & new from $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Safer and more efficient than using a knife!, August 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My kids love fresh strawberries but will only eat them if they are cored and rinsed (otherwise they take one small bite and leave the rest as if it was a toxic substance).

So every time I would get fresh strawberries, I use a knife to cut off the top and clean all at the same time so they are a ready snack in the fridge.

This little gadget is so cool! It really cuts down on the waste of the strawberry -- though (like using an apple corer), if you don't have a perfectly symmetrical strawberry, then you will still leave some of the unpleasant under-core behind. But this still makes cleaning the strawberries much more efficient than a plain ordinary knife -- and it is less risky since it is much harder to slip with the knife and cut your thumb!

[NCJVR]


Orthaheel Women's Walking Shoe By Orthaheel In White / Pink - 10 Medium
Orthaheel Women's Walking Shoe By Orthaheel In White / Pink - 10 Medium
Offered by Above The Rest Products
Price: $99.95
10 used & new from $99.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much arch support and didn't help my heel pain, August 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have developed some sort of heel pain -- presumably plantar fasciatis -- and purchased these based on the recommendations that these would be good for foot pain. I wore them for awhile when I was working at a regular sitting desk and they were ok but didn't seem to help that much.

But then I switched to a standing desk... out of all the shoes I tried, these were THE most uncomfortable for standing on long periods. I was constantly aware of the prominent arch support.

I have switched to New Balance and Skechers -- switching back and forth -- and even though they aren't specially designed as orthopedic shoes -- they are half the price and twice as comfortable

[NCJAR]


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