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The City of Pillars: The Epic of Andrasta and Rondel, Vol. 2
The City of Pillars: The Epic of Andrasta and Rondel, Vol. 2
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and intriguing second book... 4 1/2 Stars, August 18, 2014
"The City of Pillars: The Epic of Andrasta and Rondel, Vol. 2 is a stand alone fantasy adventure by author Joshua P. Simon. This Kindle e-book was approximately 297 printed pages and sold for $2.99 at the 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 forced alliance that allowed Andrasta and Rondel escape prison in Vol. 1 has turned into a testy if not begrudging friendship. Nothing solid, nothing intended to be permanent, but because of his physical limitations, Rondel has little chance of survival own his own and Andrasta needs a partner on her quest to obtain the Jewel of Bashan. So this reluctant partnership agrees to stay together for another little while. Thus Vol. 2 sees our heroes on a new adventure.

Some thoughts on " The City of Pillars"...

1.) generally well written and edited, with few if any spelling or syntax errors.

2.a) overall, lots of action... from both physical encounters and mental sparing.
2.b) a great final battle.

3.) important character that can be injured of killed. Adding a degree of realism to this fantasy adventure.

4.) maps... two maps. One global and one giving more detail as to where the main events of this tale takes place. Great for those readers who like a sense of distance, direction and topography

5.) the use of italics to indicate personal thoughts added significantly to the development of many of the characters.

6.) there was a smattering of subtle humor sprinkled throughout.

The Cons:
1.) I felt the middle section featuring Shadya and Rondel with Andrasta looking on in frustration kind of dragged a bit after a while.

2.) again as with the first book, our heroes seemed to have fortune on their side as many impossible situations were save by something or someone providing a the necessary help at the last moment. And although you may not have known the exact ending you always knew our heroes would prevail in the end.

Impressions:
While not quite Young Adult and yet not hard core, adult fantasy this tale provided some enjoyable reading entertainment... maybe best classified as fantasy-adventure lite. I found I was able to relax and partake in both the overall light hearted attitude to this story-line mixed in with the occasional intense confrontation.

As it is... 4 1/2 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Aukey Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank Pack 10000mAh for iPad Air, 4, 3, 2, iPad Mini, iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Note 3, 2; LG G3, G2; HTC M8; Nexus 7, 5, 4; Motorola Moto X, Moto G; Google Glass and other USB Charging Devices (1.5A Input for fast charging, 1A & 2.1A Dual Output) - Black
Aukey Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank Pack 10000mAh for iPad Air, 4, 3, 2, iPad Mini, iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Note 3, 2; LG G3, G2; HTC M8; Nexus 7, 5, 4; Motorola Moto X, Moto G; Google Glass and other USB Charging Devices (1.5A Input for fast charging, 1A & 2.1A Dual Output) - Black
Offered by ATEK
Price: $49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great portable battery, reasonably priced., August 16, 2014
Aukey Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank Pack 10000mAh. This device was sold through ATEK (fulfilled by Amazon.com) and retailed for $21.99 at the time of writing this review.

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

The technical:
Size (LWH): 3.8 inches, 0.9 inches, 3.2 inches
Weight: 9.44 ounces

Battery Type: Lithium Ion (included)

Ports: input... USB micro 1.5A/hr
Max output... 3.1 amps (port 1 charges at 1.0 amps and port 2 charges at 2.1 amps)

Has a power switch that also acts to light a LED indicator below it to let you know the remaining battery charge...
red... 0 - 30%
blue.. 30 - 70%
white.. 70 - 100 %

Some thoughts on "Akey Portable External Battery Bank Pack 10000"...

1.) came packed in its own protective plastic casing. The unit once removed appeared to have a professional, hefty quality to it and the exterior had a smooth velvety texture.

2.) this unit would be able to charge my IPhone almost 4 times from 0%.

3.) input... at 1.5A/hr it would take 7 - 8 hours to charge up this battery from empty to full.

4.) the 3 ports are well marked. The LED lights, when in use, are bright and easily visible.

5.) comes with a micro USB charging cable.

Impressions:
A professional and elegant looking battery charger.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Aukey Dual Port USB Car Charger Adapter (4.2Amps/20W) Designed for Apple and Android Devices: Apple iPad Air, Mini, iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Note 3, Note2, Google Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10, One plus, Motorola Moto G X, HTC One M8, LG G2, G3, Nokia Lumia 1520 and most of the USB Charged Devices - Black
Aukey Dual Port USB Car Charger Adapter (4.2Amps/20W) Designed for Apple and Android Devices: Apple iPad Air, Mini, iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Note 3, Note2, Google Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10, One plus, Motorola Moto G X, HTC One M8, LG G2, G3, Nokia Lumia 1520 and most of the USB Charged Devices - Black
Offered by Amzdeal Direct
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Aukey Dual Car Charger... excellent preformance at a reasonable price., August 16, 2014
Aukey Dual Port USB Car Charger Adapter (4.2Amps/20W) Designed for Apple and Android Devices: This device was sold through Amzdeal Direct (fulfilled by Amazon.com) and retailed for $7.99 at the time of writing this review.

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

The technical
Weight: 1.07 oz (30.4 gm) I actually weight this unit.
Output: 20W 4.2A output on each port.
port 1 is for Apple products
port 2 is for other devices.

Some thoughts on "Aukey Dual Port Car Charger"...

1.) a small device that has a solid, well made feel to it.

2.) I have an dual port Amp meter so I was able to charge both my IPhone and my IPad at the same time from port 1. The combined total output I got from both devices was 2.89 amps. I could also do the same thing with port 2 but the charging rate was a little slower.

3.) has a small red LED light comes on when a connection is made between the car socket and the Dual Port charger.

Impressions:
I've only had this a short time but it works as advertised. And at $7.99 it's very reasonably priced.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


The Wurms of Blearmouth: A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
The Wurms of Blearmouth: A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another terrific Bauchelain and Korbal Broach tale... 5 Stars, August 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Wurms of Blearmouth: A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach" is the fifth in series of short stories by Canadian author Steven Erikson. This Kindle e-book was approximately 208 printed pages and sold for $8.89 at the time of writing this review.

General theme <minor spoilers>

Our two heroes find themselves (along with their faithful manservant, Emancipor Reese) shipwrecked in a winter storm on a God-forsaken, desolate and rocky shoreline. Lucky for them, refuge is nearby in a small cesspool of a town called Spendrugle... unlucky you might say, for its seedy denizens.

Some thoughts on "The Wurms of Blearmouth"...

The Pros:
1.) well written and edited.

2.) I've always loved Erikson choice of names... strange, weird and yet somehow fittingly perfect for the assorted and sordid collection of humanity he brings forth in these wonderful short stories.

3.) an exquisite villain in the form of Fangstooth Claw, Lord of Wurms Keep.

4.) as with all the books in this particular series, Erikson displays an impeccable sense of pace and timing to keep his characters hopping from one dire situation to another.

The Cons:
Cover Art... my only minor complaint. For some reason Erikson decided to use professional models to portray our heroes on the front cover. (Whereas previous book had used drawings). My concern is this... I've formulated over the time these characters have been around, as to what Bauchelain and Korbal Broach looked like. And the cover picture found here looks nothing like the descriptions I've concocted in my mind's eye. Yes, maybe a picky point, but something I felt worth mentioning.

Impressions:
Of all Erikson's writings I think I like his short stories the best. Unlike the original Malazan series, they are a quick easy reads... succinct in the manner with which the tales unfold, develop and finish. In addition, Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese are three of my favorite characters.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician
Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician
Price: $3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK... 3 Stars, August 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician" is a trilogy of the Morlac tales written by author Gary Alan Ruse. This Kindle e-book was approximately 376 printed pages and sold for $3.99 at the time of writing this review.

General theme <spoilers>
Morlac, originally a sea-creature was captured by the green wizard, Sordros, and turned into a man-warrior to lead his (Sordros's) forces against the invading army from the North Kingdom. However, Sordros is defeated and flees, leaving Morlac 'stuck' in his unnatural human form. Thus begins the quest for the green magician.

Some thoughts on "Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician"...

A tale of wizards and warriors, battles, dungeons, travel and a smoldering love... which sounds like everything needed for an epic fantasy adventure. Unfortunately the tale was far from it... even the book description on its Amazon.com page states ..."the novel is unquestionably light reading"... (a statement I'd have to agree with).
But to me the major problem was that the writing quality and story telling skills were at best, average. A tale that was big on action and intrigue but in general, weak on character development. Each book basically repeated the format of the previous and was in turn a forerunner of the next... an ongoing hunt for the green magician but first having to defeat the local boss d'jour, replete with all his evil minions and assorted traps and tricks.

Although not classified as Young Adult (YA), it read as such on many occasions. I had trouble maintaining interest in this trilogy because I knew that no matter how dire the situation our group of heroes were going to prevail. Had I bought just the first book on its own, I would not have gone further in this series.

A trilogy where I think that hard core, adult-orientated fantasy lovers would struggle; I know I did.

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

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Bolse® High Output 3-Port USB Car Charger (32W / 6.3A), Provides Maximum Power For 3 Devices At Once for iPhone 5, 5S, 4S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Galaxy Note 3, 2; iPad Air, 5, 4, mini; LG G2; Motorola and HTC
Bolse® High Output 3-Port USB Car Charger (32W / 6.3A), Provides Maximum Power For 3 Devices At Once for iPhone 5, 5S, 4S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Galaxy Note 3, 2; iPad Air, 5, 4, mini; LG G2; Motorola and HTC

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 3 port, 6.3 amp USB Car Charger from Bolse... 5 Stars, August 14, 2014
Bolse® High Output 3-Port USB Car Charger (32W / 6.3A). This device was sold by LowerPriceUSA (fulfilled by Amazon.com) and sold for $13.99 at the time of writing this review.

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

Some technical facts...
1.) weight: 39.1 gm (1.38 oz)

2.) has 3 USB Ports : Two Apple USB Port (2.1 Max/Each); One Samsung USB Port (2.1A Max)

3.) circuit designed with over-heated, over-current, over-charging protection. Charging will be automatically stop when battery is full.

Impressions:
Had a chance to use both Apple ports simultaneously and both charged at max 2.1 Amps each. I was unable to check the Samsung port as I do not have a Samsung device.

Another quality electronic accessory from Bolse that preformed as advertised.

As it is... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 6 Feet / 1.8m Extra Long Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free USB 2.0 A to 8 Pin Apple Lightning Cable for iPhone 5, 5s, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7, iPod 5G (Black/Green)
Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 6 Feet / 1.8m Extra Long Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free USB 2.0 A to 8 Pin Apple Lightning Cable for iPhone 5, 5s, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7, iPod 5G (Black/Green)
Offered by LowerPriceUSA
Price: $29.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quality electronic accessory product from Bolse... 5 Stars., August 13, 2014
Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 6 Feet / 1.8m Extra Long Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free USB 2.0 A to 8 Pin Apple Lightning Cable. This cable sold by LowerPriceUSA (fulfilled by Amazon.com) and retailed for $19.95 at the time of writing this review.

Please Note: I was provided with a free device in exchange for an honest review.

Some technical facts (mostly taken from the product page with slight modification)

1.) this 6 foot cable is MFI certified... and what does MFI mean? Well it means the company is authorized to promote its electronic accessories with MFi logos. The logos in turn communicate to customers that the electronic accessory has been designed to connect specifically to iPod, iPhone, or iPad, and has been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards.

2.a) nylon sheathing... instead of plastics or Polycarbonate sheathing, this Bolse apple lightning cable features a unique high tensile nylon construction. The nylon fiber cloth is wound tightly around the cord lending it superior durability and adding a bit to its flexibility. Nylon as a fabric happens to be waterproof with a high stress quotient so this Bolse cable ought to last really long.
2.) tangle free... when finished, simply wind up the cable into a tight coil to store it.

3.) the Lightning head is larger than the traditional Lightning 8 Pin attachments. This slight increase in size makes it easier to handle as well as insert and remove from the port.

Impressions:
This is a stiff, nylon encased USB/Lightning Cable that is almost impossible to tangle. In addition the green/black color scheme makes it easily identifiable from any other cable... Lightning or otherwise. So this cable will be easy to pick out in a drawer full of electronic cords.

This cable functioned flawlessly and charged both my Iphone and Ipad as rapidly as a "Apple Lightning Cable". (verified by an Amp flow meter)

The only draw back I could find in my testing was that the stiff cable was a bit of a hindrance when used with a dash mounted USB Car Charger. It was too long at close range and tended to get in the way. At this point a shorter cable would have been more efficient.

Overall, another quality electronic accessory from Bolse... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


The Jungle Animal's Conflict: Conflict Resolution for Young Children
The Jungle Animal's Conflict: Conflict Resolution for Young Children
Price: $0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Concerns for the solution of this conflict... 1 1/2 Stars, August 12, 2014
"The Jungle Animal's Conflict: Conflict Resolution for Young Children" is a book by C. Ingram ECE. This Kindle e-book was approximately 15 printed pages and sold for $0.99 at the 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... the jungle has become dry and the one remaining water hole has become a source of conflict for the thirsty animals. Naturally the strongest feel that they deserve to be first. This book is an attempt to show young children how to cope with and resolve peer conflicts. I assume the story was intended to be read with an adult who would be able to answer questions and provide guidance.

Some thoughts on "The Jungle Animal's Conflict"...

The Pros:
1.) several cute colored pictures that accompany the story. The first, a picture of the world was particularly well done.

2.) the problem that needed resolving (who got to drink first) was a reasonable one for a child to understand.

The Cons:
1.) a picky point...the first image of the water hole shows the Serengeti (not really the jungle); would a child notice that? Probably not.

2.) my main concern here was the solution to the problem. And the solution was not to show tolerance. cooperation and friendship as they drank together but rather to break the animals up into their own groups and let that group drink on certain days that were reserved for them!
Now substitute the watering hole for the last working fountain at school and substitute the animals for people of different ethnic backgrounds and you've got the same result. Really a slippery slope here, especially for a children's book.

What was the author thinking? Maybe he/she just didn't think this through, but whatever the case, it's in dire need of a revision.

As it is... 1 1/2 Stars. (for the artwork)

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Sins of a Sovereignty (Amernia Fallen Book 1)
Sins of a Sovereignty (Amernia Fallen Book 1)
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A very intriguing debut... some Pros and Cons... 3 1/2 Stars, August 12, 2014
"Sins of a Sovereignty" is the first book in the 'Amernia Fallen' series, a dark fantasy by author Plague Jack. This Kindle e-book was approximately 291 printed pages and sold for $4.99 at the 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 <spoilers>

The kingdom of Amernia is threatened on many fronts and the "Blood Queen" sends Sir Clark Pendragon on a mission to try to restore some order. This then is the tale of several individuals and the various factions they must deal with... each with their own agendas and their own unique and personal interpretations of right and wrong.

Some thoughts on "Sins of a Sovereignty"...

The Pros:
1.) an intriguing premise, generally well written.

2.) lots of action, intrigue and clandestine plotting.

3.) several interesting, well developed characters.

4.) important characters that can be severely injured or killed. Always a major check point for me in the aspect of realism within fantasy adventure stories.

The Cons:
1.) swearing... realistic vernacular that was just on the edge of being excessive.

2.) no map... a story with lots of travel; a map would have added a sense of distance, direction and topography. Maps... the icing on the cake to take a really good novel to that next level.

3.) a few spelling/syntax errors scattered here and there... just enough to mention.

4.) cover art... overall, a rather bland image that has little eye catching appeal to entice a potential reader to have a look.

Impressions.

I thought the first part of the novel was one of the best books I've read this year... exciting, tense and filled with a sense of apprehension and foreboding. But somewhere along the way this tale seemed to lose some of its momentum... some of its magic. And this occurred around the time when the some of the main characters joined into a shaky alliance. I felt it was at this point that the plot started to drag a bit and dialogues seemed to become somewhat forced and contrived.

In addition, characters both good and evil, seemed to be remarkably alike... yes, the good guys were good and the evil guys were bad, but their personalities seemed very similar. This was because the author used an in-italic 'aside' to show what his characters were thinking... a technique great for character development but unfortunately, many of the 'asides' found here seemed to portray similar traits and personalities.

Overall, a book that initially appeared to have everything that I look for in a great fantasy adventure... an interesting plot that basically features a good vs evil premise, some characters of interest, elements of surprise and unpredictability and finally some unique, fantasy related magic. The author had all these ingredients, but maybe tried to do too much... a case where a little less may have proved to be much more effective in achieving that elusive, near perfect end sequence. e.g. to me, Calcifer's abilities towards the end, stretched the limit of believability (believability with the confines and context of the situation) and left me shaking my head.

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

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


Nightblade: Episode Four (Nightblade Episodes Book 4)
Nightblade: Episode Four (Nightblade Episodes Book 4)
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting Young Adult (YA) adventure... 5 Stars., August 11, 2014
"NIghtblade: Episode 4", this is the fourth of eight installments in the Nightblade series by author Garrett Robinson. This Kindle e-book was approximately 43 printed pages and sold for $0.99 at the time of writing this review.

General theme...

Our heroine, Loren, has run away from her rural homestead because of an unusually cruel father and an uncaring mother. However this has not turned out to be the great adventure of freedom she'd hoped for as one difficult situation after another seemed to confront her every decision.

Some thoughts on "Nightblade: Episode 4"...

1.) well written and edited.

2.) has a nice sense of pace and timing'

3.) lots of action as Loren seems to hop from one precarious situation to another.

Impressions:
This tale has turned into a true Young Adult (YA) adventure... unfortunately my least favorite of the many writing genres. Let me try to clear up any misperceptions here... there's nothing wrong with YA, it's just not what I like to read. A personal and subjective opinion on my part.

I'd hoped, really hoped that this tale would retain a more 'adult' orientated story-line (and it seemed to start out this way), even though our protagonist was a young girl. But I started to get YA vibes in the last segment, and I think this installment confirmed that this was a tale meant for tweens to mid-teens.

This will be my last review in this series.

As a YA tale... 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
raynicholsonsreviews@hotmail.com
@ralannicholson


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