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The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One)
The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One)
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Five Elements"... an action orientated, Young Adult fantasy adventure... 4 to 4 1/2 Stars, July 27, 2015
"The Five Elements" is the first book in fantasy series named, 'The Alchemancer' by author Scott Marlowe.
This Kindle e-book was approximately 461 printed pages and sold for $3.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)

This is a the tale of a pair of young people living in Norwynne Keep... Aaron, a young sorcerer's apprentice/aide and his friend Shanna.
Little do they know but things are about to happen that will separate them and change their lives irrevocably... it's also going to start them on what could only be described as an adventure of a lifetime. Thus begins their mysterious tale...

Some thoughts on "The Five Elements"...

1.) a generally well written and edited, Young Adult (YA) orientated fantasy adventure.

2.) map... a subtly color map of the entire area. Great for readers that like to be aware of distance, direction and topography

3.) list of players... right after the map there is alphabetic list of characters, along with some of their personal info.

4.) action... lots of travel, encounters, battles and unexpected twists and turns.

5.) character development... I thought Aaron's character was well done.

6.) many important characters can be severely injured or even killed... adding a sense of realism within the context of this fantasy tale.

7.) while this story had some truly fabulous and intriguing segments, I thought this tale was a bit too busy... a little too action orientated.

8.) cover art... a colorful if somewhat generic cover image.

Impressions:

I admittedly struggle with YA books. If I was 15 - 17 years old I'd have loved this book... but those days have long past. So after a very entertaining and tense opening third of the novel I became concerned when I found this story began leaning heavily in what I'd consider the direction of Young Adult.

To me this book seemed a dichotomy of genres... one section filled with some great Adult orientated scenes and then switching over to what could only be described as a tale meant to entertain a mid-teenage audience. And the book seemed to flip-flop back and forth between genres from about Chapter 14 on, when Shanna showed her true petulant and rebellious, school-girl nature.

It's mentioned on the Amazon.com page as in 'coming of age' category... I think that this is an accurate description. And because of that I believe that most readers of serious Adult orientated fantasy/adventure might struggle as I did, to maintain interest in this work. I guess it's really a matter of what you like and your personal tastes.

However, as it is mentioned in the' coming of age' category on the Amazon product page, I think most YAs would be very entertained and enthralled by this effort. And rating it from a YA perspective, this would warrant 4 to 4 1/2 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Eachine M33 Bluetooth Headphone Wireless Foldable Folding Stereo Earphones with Noise Cancelation NFC Microphone for iPhone 6 6 Plus 5 5S Samsung S6 S6 Edge IPad Computer etc.(Black)
Eachine M33 Bluetooth Headphone Wireless Foldable Folding Stereo Earphones with Noise Cancelation NFC Microphone for iPhone 6 6 Plus 5 5S Samsung S6 S6 Edge IPad Computer etc.(Black)
Offered by Eachinedirect
Price: $139.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The "Eachine M33 Bluetooth Headset"... exceptional value for the price... 5 Stars, July 25, 2015
A review of the "Eachine M33 Bluetooth Headphone Wireless Foldable Folding Stereo Earphones".

This device is available from and sold by Eachinedirect (fulfilled by Amazon), and was priced at $45.99 at the time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free device for the purpose of writing an honest review.

What's in the box...
1.) headphones
2.) micro/USB charging cable
3.) double ended 3.5 mm aux-in cable for use with non-bluetooth device
4.) user manual

Dimensions:
Weight... 215.8 gm (7.61 oz) {The product page on Amazon.com gives the shipping weight, rather than the actual device weight}
Size Unfolded (approx) 16cm x 17cm x 5 cm

Some thoughts on the "Eachine M33 Bluetooth Headphones"...

1.) came securely and professionally package (see photo below)

2.a) MFB (Mutli Function Button) on the right headphone allows for off/on function, call answering/voice calls and pairing with your bluetooth device. (see photo)
2.b) pairing is done by pressing the MFB until it flashes blue and red. Then finding the M33 in your bluetooth device>settings.
2.c) other buttons in this area are the volume control and SEPARATE, easy to find and manipulate buttons for skip/repeat tract... BRAVO!
2.d) also has NFC for bluetooth connection for devices that have NFC capability.

3.) the headband is hinged and can fold up (see photo) for easy storage. It also expands/contracts for personalized head-size adjustments (about 1 inch of play on each side)

4.) headphone cushions are kind of a combination of both on/ear and over/ear... you'll understand this apparent oxymoron when you put them on. The cushion material is very soft and comfortable to wear. As with any over the head headphones warmth buildup is a problem with extended usage.

5.) calls in and out... call are answered by pressing the MFB. Voice quality was very good from both ends. Voice calls out (when blue-toothed to your phone) could be made by pressing the MFB and awaiting the appropriate response. Outgoing calls were quick and easy to make... voice quality was very good.

6.) sound quality... EXCELLENT! with a full mid and high range giving a sense of depth and presence. I thought that the bass component was exceptional.

Impression:
An over the head Bluetooth headset that offers many features... they were comfortable and adjustable, plus offered superior sound reproduction. What more could you ask for.

Conclusion:
If your in the market for a Over-the-Head bluetooth headset at a fair price, look no farther. This unit is an exceptional value.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson
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Disorder of War: Book I
Disorder of War: Book I
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Disorder of War"... terrific debut novel... 5 Stars, July 14, 2015
"Disorder of War: Book I is the first in a medieval fantasy adventure series by author N. J. Shamey with Illustrator C. J. Teague and Editor Kelly Hartigan.

This Kindle e-book was approximately 280 printed pages and sold for $3.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)

Sergeant Dagan Sharaf, a wily combat veteran has reenlisted and has been assigned to head-up a group of raw recruits... his mission is to turn them into a well oiled, fighting unit for the King's war against Arrenon. This first book deals mostly with his exploits and how he and his troops react when they come up against the enemy.

Some thoughts on "Disorder of War"...

1.) well written and edited, with prose that was easy to read and comprehend.

2.a) action... sporadic at first, but then had more and more encounters as Dagan's squad reaches New Bekka.
2.b) the entire story and events had a nice sense of pace and timing.

3.a) character development... a diverse group of individuals make up Company E. Each with their own strengths, weaknesses and personality traits.
3.b) Sergeant Dagan... a man's man and a beacon of hope and strength for his rag-tag company of misfits. His was a personality I liked more and more as the story progressed.

4.) it wasn't until the end segment that magic came into use... I was beginning to think that this may have been misnamed 'fantasy'.

5.) map... a detailed map giving the reader a sense of direction, distance and topography.

Impressions:
I really liked this tale. The main character, Dagan, reminded me a lot of Joe Abercrombie's Logen Ninefingers from "The First Law' trilogy... one of my favorite heroes.
In addition to character development skills, author Shamey has the talent to spin a great tale... keeping it moving and making it believable within the context of the setting.

I look forward to the next installment.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Resurrection: A Dark Fantasy Tale (Kindred Book 1)
Resurrection: A Dark Fantasy Tale (Kindred Book 1)
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "Resurrection"... the Pros and Cons... 3 1/2 Stars, July 14, 2015
"Resurrection: A Dark Fantasy Tale" is book 1 in the 'Kindred Series' by author Zed Amadeo.
This Kindle e-book was approximately 68 printed pages and sold for $.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)

Dina Durst unwittingly witnesses something she was not suppose to see. As a result her two assailants brutally beat her, leaving her for dead. But they make two mistakes... they didn't kill her and they inadvertently left on her body, the marks of witching power.

Some thoughts on "Resurrection"...

The Pros...
1.) a quick and entertaining read.

2.) generally well written and edited.

3.) contains some intense and graphically described encounters.

4.) an ending that is an intriguing set-up for the next installment.

A few minor concerns...
1.) I thought Alejandra's character a bit one dimensional.

2.) I felt the dialogue near the end between Dina and Seymour felt a bit contrived.

Impressions:
A dark fantasy indeed! An enjoyable, short read if this is a genre you like.
Overall, as a debut novel, well done... maybe lacks a bit of polish in some areas, but I think that this will develop in time as the author does appear to have some story-telling skill.

As it is... 3 1/2 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


In Search of Piétons: A Photo Documentary
In Search of Piétons: A Photo Documentary
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "In Search of Piétons"... 25 stunningly unique photos in a style reminiscent of the late Andy Warhol... 5 Stars., July 11, 2015
"In Search of Piétons: A Photo Documentary" is a unique photo-journalistic experience by author/photographer Bill Bolton.
This Kindle e-book was approximately 52 printed pages and photos and sold for $9.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of one man's obsession with photographing IPCS. I'm sure ;) nearly everyone will be familiar with these initials (quasi acronym), but just in case you're one of the few individuals reading this review who doesn't know the meaning, the letters IPCS stand for 'Illuminated Pedestrian Crossing Signs' (essentially the red and green, 'DON'T WALK' and 'WALK' crosswalk figures at intersections)... so now you know; but deep, deep in your psyche you've always known this. Oh, and... AND this collection of photos were all taken in France... but I know you probably knew that as well.

The premise for this 'documentary' started innocently enough while the author was exploring Paris on foot in 1991... he was on a street corner and noticed that the particular Illuminated Pedestrian Crossing Sign here was distinctly different from the one found at the previous intersection. This simple observation, turned out to be the beginnings of a quest to reveal the extent of yet another artistic form of expression that could only be French; glorifying, in a way, their innate preoccupation with style and uniqueness.

So over the span of the next two years, the author assembled the 25 unique and different photos of the crosswalk figures found here. Each picture displays only the crosswalk symbols associated with both the 'DON'T WALK' and 'WALK' figures... and nothing else.

In addition to the photographs, in the front of the book there is a short account describing some of the techniques and difficulties encountered with taking these pictures. Each photo is accompanied by a URL and a QR reader link so the reader can see exactly, on google maps, where these IPCS can found today... about 20+ years after the fact.

Impressions:
A collection of photos that will grow on you as you begin to realize and appreciate the quality and uniqueness of what is displayed within these few pages. While perusing these pictures I had the distinct impression that this collection was something that Andy Warhol would have loved to have authored.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Yesterday's Gone: Season Six
Yesterday's Gone: Season Six
Price: $5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yesterday's Gone: Season 6"... The Pros and Cons... 4 Stars, July 7, 2015
"Yesterday's Gone: Season Six" contains the final six episodes in the sci-fi/horror serial by authors Sean Platt and David Wright; edited by Jason Whited.

This Kindle e-book was approximately 415 printed pages and sold for $5.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)

This entire final season takes place 3 1/2 years after the end of Season 5. Early on in this season finale, we discover that the aliens, with the exception of a few small pockets of rebel resistance, have pretty much taken over the world as we knew it. So we begin to sequentially visit all the original characters (Boricio, Mary, Brent etc.) and learn their present circumstances... and needless to say, most of them are facing dire predicaments.

Some thoughts on "Yesterday's Gone: Season 6"...

1.) superbly written and edited. Prose that was easy to read and understand.

2.) action... a ton of it. Encounters that were often horrific in nature and graphically described. There were some events that were not for the faint of heart.

3.) there was little down time and no 'fill'. The sense of pace and timing was spot on.

4.) some jaw dropping chapter endings. e.g. the ending of episode # 31.

Concerns:

1.) swearing... there were chapters involving Boricio (in particular the last Episode # 36) that, to me overdid the use of swearing (using the f word). Now I have nothing against use of 'off-colored language' in novels' when the situation calls for it AND I'd never have a problem with any scenes that partake in dialogues with Boricio; simply because swearing was an integral part of his character. But what struck me as odd and out of place was the intensity of the 'off language' throughout the narrative descriptions (not dialogues) of chapters involving many Boricio chapters (but in particular Episode 36, chapter 28).
a few examples of many....

<Bushy Eyebrows looked up, startled, wondering why the f*** Boricio wasn’t falling. Boricio grabbed the gun, snatched it from his old f***ing hands>

<A bright-yellow spark of lightning shot from his hand and fried the f***er.>

<The landing was hard, but not enough to hurt the f***ers. Just momentarily disable them.>

Swearing in dialogues as part of a character's personality... well OK; but swearing in the narrative portions, I'm just not sure about.

2.) the end sequence... I'd hopes for a truly great and memorable ending when I began the last Episode, # 36. But of all the possible conclusions, the authors decided to use one that while not exactly deus ex machina (as there was some vague foreshadowing of events to come), but there were several/many incidents that one could definitely be call deus ex machina-esque. Happenings that were both improbable and implausible... stretching any sense of believability (i.e. believability within the context of this sci-fi/horror setting) to the max. I'd just love to go into the details of my concerns, but this would result in major spoilers. Readers will judge for themselves as they start the final chapters.

Impressions:
Loved the decisions to make a clean break from the end of Season 5 for this finale. The 3 1/2 year separation between seasons gave all the characters a fresh start. This also eliminated any confusion that might have occurred with the time lag between Seasons 5 and 6. (remembering the story flow, dates and events has always been one of my personal shortcomings caused by of the often lengthy time between the end of one season and the start of the next).

I also really liked the individual stories involving specific people or, in some cases, groups.
These tales were often horrific and intense in content... enough to give you nightmares, but to a one, superbly done.

And finally, I thought Borico's Epilogue at the end was a brilliant and most appropriate ending.

Conclusion:
Overall a series of stunning and epic proportions. A tale with a fabulous story-line that saw the development of many new and intriguing characters; but none more memorable and fascinating than Boricio Wolfe.

<SPOILER> But for all the brilliance of the first 35 episodes, this entire series was shaken mighty by several events that occurred in the final chapters that made up the bulk of episode 36. I'll just say that with this being the last season of this epic adventure, I figured that the good guys would likely eke out a win in the end... but what I never expected was a scenario where the previously omnipotent bad guys never stood a chance.
To me it seemed to be a quick and a little too convenient solution for what could/should have been a potentially very intricate and compelling ending... especially when you had an enemy that up until the very end, appeared to have everything stacked in its favor.
I came away, wondering what the Beta readers felt about Episode 36. Surely someone must have some niggling concerns about the direction taken and how things finally unfolded here.

Rating...
For the first 35 episodes and first 5 episodes of Season 6... for the terrific story, for the unforgettable characters and the stunning and unexpected twists and turns, it's an easy 5 Stars.
For the last episode, # 36... David and Sean I love your writing and your stories, but honestly I'd hoped for better here... 2 1/2 Stars.

Overall... 4 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Into the Nanten - The Record of My Exile (Season 1)
Into the Nanten - The Record of My Exile (Season 1)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "Into the Nanten"... the Pros and Cons... 3 1/2 Stars, July 4, 2015
"Into the Nanten - The Record of My Exile" is the first book in a series by author Jay Swanson with illustrations by Nimit Malavia.
This Kindle e-book was approximately 467 printed pages and sold for $2.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)
Marceles na Tetrach is sent into the uncharted jungles of Nanten to try to find the previously exiled, Brin Salisir. This book is literally a series of daily entries in a journal, detailing his experiences in his search for any clues that may lead him to the missing exile... clues that are already 20 years old. Thus begin Jay Swanson's own version into the heart of darkness.

Some thoughts on "Into the Nanten"... the Pros and Cons

1.) well written, edited and accompanied by many superb illustrations.

2.) many encounters, graphically described. Many of which are not for the faint of heart.

3.) a persistently dark and foreboding atmosphere, that after a while, may weigh heavily on the reader's psyche... I know it did mine.

4.) some magic was involved... featuring some unique and intriguing variations of the occult arts.

5.a) maps... there were a couple small area maps that our heroes came across while on their quest, and were subsequently displayed at the end of the same chapter (journal entry).
5.b) if I had a wish it would have been for these maps to be centrally located at the beginning of the book. I did not bother to bookmark the smaller maps when I came across them, so I felt continually lost in this expansive and diverse geographic landscape.

6.) in all honesty, despite this novel being well written, I struggled mightily to maintain my interest is this work and often found myself skimming... especially towards the end when I simply wanted to be finished. I found the narrative had a repetitious quality to it, there was a lot of introspective and repetitive nasal gazing, and for some reason the protracted lack of a sense of direction by our protagonists gave me an uncomfortable feeling of claustrophobia.

Impressions:
I think most readers of will enjoy this work; I, simply put, did not... and I can honestly say that this was the first Jay Swanson book that I have felt this way that about.

As it is...3 1/2 Stars. (rounded up, as most concerns were of my own personal, subjective feelings)

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


The Riyria Sampler
The Riyria Sampler
Price: $0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MJS sampler... go ahead and get it; you've nothing to lose... I doubt you'll be disappointed, June 28, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This small 63 page sampler is a great place for readers to meet and get acquainted with Michael J. Sullivan's two likable, but roguish heroes, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. Two unlikely misfits who through strange circumstances have thrown their lot together and formed a shaky but a-protect-each-others-back alliance. Not withstanding the times of course, when they've liked to have killed each other.
In addition, Michael J Sullivan is a superb writer of fantasy adventure

The four works here include...
1. )The Thieves
2. )The Viscount
3.) The Jester
4.) The Death of Dulgath

The first three are complete short stories, the last is an excerpt from a full length novel due for release this fall.

Hey... this sampler is free and your going to be immersed in a world of high and intriguing fantasy that just happens to have two larger than life heroes.

Go ahead; get it; you've nothing to lose... I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


KitchenPRO Stainless-steel 5-Attachment 8-Piece Mandolin V-slicer
KitchenPRO Stainless-steel 5-Attachment 8-Piece Mandolin V-slicer
Offered by Deal Republic
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The "KitchenPro V-Slicer... The Pros and Cons... 3 1/2 Stars, June 28, 2015
A review of the "KitchenPro V-Slicer".
This device is sold by Deals Republic (fulfilled by Amazon) and sold for $29.99 at the time of writing this review.

Please note I was provided a free device in return for an honest review.

In the package...
1.) the V-Slicer Main Frame
2.) Blade Storage System
3.) Safety Holder
4.) instructions booklet

Some thoughts on the "KitchenPro V-Slicer"...

The Pros and Cons...

"The Main Frame"

1.) it has rubberized non-skid footings on the bottom to prevent slipping when used on a flat surface.
2.) one end has a rubberized grip allowing you to pick up the Main Frame and use it on an tilted angle. (see photo)
3.) the individual blades snap into place when inserted... this seems quite secure when blades are in use. There is a small tab on the bottom back section of each blade that allows for release of that blade from the Main Frame.

The Blades Storage System

1.) the blades snap in for secure storage (released with the tab on the bottom back section of blade).
2.) the Storage device must be assembled... a picture in the instruction manual is adequate.

The Safety Holder

1.) can be used to hold smaller bits of veggies, so as to protect your fingers.
2.) has a plunger that can be 'pushed-down' on vegetables to pick them up. Similarly the plunger can be 'pulled-up' to release small remnants of vegetables too small to slice.
3.) this unit is a rectangular shape so it has directional arrows to help to ensure the proper orientation when using this holder.

The Blades

1.) one of the blades allow you to cut two different thickness in a single plane (e.g. onion rings).
2.) the other 3 blades allow you to cut three variations of thickness for julienne cuts and dicing.
3.) when using the cutting blades (3) the sharp edges are always exposed, so care must be used when handling these particular blades

The Manual

1.) gives only the bare basics can of instructions. If your unfamiliar with this type of device then the proper and safe usage of this slicer might be difficult to grasp if only referring to this manual. I was surprised not to find more detailed instructions in the booklet OR at least a reference to an on-line tutorial. Here is a YouTube site that will help considerably... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAlUaDVNMlY
2.) stresses safety, but misses some important points. (see Cons below)
3.) the booklet shows both the 5 piece and the 10 piece units.
4.) it does not mention about using a cut resistant glove when working with this device.

The Cons: The Main Frame
1.) the blades on the Main Frame are complete exposed at all times. However the 'grater blade' has a overlapping edge that covers the V-blade of the 'Main Frame', so this grater blade could be used when storing this device away. (see the last 3 photos below)
Despite all the 'safety' talk in the manual there was not a mention of using this blade as a guard for the V-blade on the Main Frame cutter.

Impressions:
A great device for doing fancy things with sliceable fruits of vegetables. Especially useful if your doing larger amounts. However this in not a toy... it should be used with great respect; kept out of the reach of children and used with caution by anyone not use to working with a slicer device or who is inherently klutzy.

Also, a word about CLEAN UP... it should be done immediately and with great care. I say immediately because if you let the juice dry on the blades, they will be that much harder to clean. The instructions say to rinse under warm or cold water... and this will probably do in most cases. However, DO NOT LEAVE THE V-BLADE MAIN FRAME OR THE CUTTING BLADES IN A SOAPY DISHPAN, where they may become hidden and forgotten.

Conclusions:
Overall a useful kitchen aid that is reasonably priced and is very useful, especially if preparing larger amounts. A better thought out and more complete instruction booklet, plus an on-line tutorial reference should have been included. (Improving these deficiencies will garner a higher rating from me)
I'd highly recommend a cut resistant glove when using this product.

As it is... 3 1/2 Stars

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson
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Swarm II - A Zombie Series
Swarm II - A Zombie Series
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "Swarm II"... a good follow up, but a few concerns. 3 1/2 Stars, June 21, 2015
"Swarm II - A Zombie Series" by author Alex South.
This Kindle e-book was approximately 208 printed pages and sold for $2.99 at time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

General Theme (minor spoilers)
The small group of survivors continue to look for any signs of non-infected life while dealing with a dwindling supply of food.
Their story continues.

Some thoughts on "Swarm II"...

As I mentioned in my review of 'Swarm I' this novel had the feel and atmosphere of an episode of 'The Walking Dead'.

I generally liked this second book but with some reservations. As one other reviewer mentioned the dialogues seemed very repetitive and at times, contrived. Initially I thought this may have been a way of showing some depth of character but these strangely similar and recurrent conversations become annoying after a while.

My other concern was <SPOILER> Laura's extended battle near the end. Only partially recovered from a serious injury she seem to be able to accomplish the impossible against a steady stream of stronger adversaries.

Impressions:
I thought this was a good book... good enough to make me want to read the next installment. But there were a few areas where (IMHO) the writing was a bit weaker than in book one... especially with the dialogues.
The end sequence was tense and exciting although somewhat improbable, given the circumstances.

As it is... 3 1/2 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


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