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Dr Beverly R Vincent "deadzone" RSS Feed (The Woodlands, TX USA)
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Garrity L.E.D. Touch Lite Bright 3 Led Battery Operated Lamp, Great for Closets, Attics, Garages
Garrity L.E.D. Touch Lite Bright 3 Led Battery Operated Lamp, Great for Closets, Attics, Garages
Offered by SMG - duracelldirect
Price: $11.99
2 used & new from $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect solution for illuminating dark closets, March 29, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Our pantry is dark and as I get older, my vision isn't as acute as it once was. Rather than wire the pantry for electricity, I went looking for a portable solution and I found these. The light is bright, white and effective, and I have not had any issues with them coming loose from where I attached them.


Bosch Season 2
Bosch Season 2
DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars When the author gets involved, the adaptation is more faithful., March 29, 2016
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This review is from: Bosch Season 2 (Amazon Video)
A fantastic adaptation of the Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, with a strong cast and lovely cinematography. Los Angeles has never before looked so real on film, at least not to me.


Victor Power Kill Rat Trap M144
Victor Power Kill Rat Trap M144
Price: $2.88
26 used & new from $2.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Snap...crackle...pop!, November 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This trap worked as advertised. It was placed alongside several traditional traps. The others were all sprung -- only this one was sprung and apprehended the culprit. With maximum prejudice. I like the fact that the bait receptacle is recessed, so the vermin have to work at it to get the food out, which means they're in the crosshairs for much longer and far more likely to succumb. It's a pretty awesome spring, too. I feared for my fingers while loading it, but it locks nicely into place -- much more securely than on a normal trap.


Dexter Is Dead: A Novel
Dexter Is Dead: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it the end for Darkly Dreaming Dexter? May-be..., September 22, 2015
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Is the title a spoiler? May-be.

It must be difficult enough to write a crime series that is being simultaneously adapted as a popular cable TV program, especially when the plot of the TV series diverges rapidly with the novels. And most especially when the series comes to an end, and perhaps not a conclusion with which everyone is satisfied.

The Showtime series ran for eight seasons and 96 episodes, while there has been a mere seven novels leading up to Dexter is Dead, which is billed as the final one. But what does "dead" mean? One could suggest that Dexter Morgan in the the cable series is dead to the world at the end of the final episode. And how exactly do you kill off a character who is a first person narrator?

Dexter is Dead begins with the serial killer behind bars, but not for any crimes that he actually committed. It follows on the heels of Dexter's Final Cut, where Dexter's lovable but oblivious wife meets much the same fate as she did on the TV series, though by different hands. The culprit is also dead, but no one will believe Dexter when he says he didn't kill the actor, or when he accuses the celebrity of being a pedophile. Especially not Detective Anderson, who is determined to see Dexter in prison for life, if not worse.

Dexter is in prison without bail and without much understanding of the circumstances that have him incarcerated. He's adrift, too blasé about his fate to even wonder about things like "due process" and "right to a speedy trial." He's not terribly concerned about his children, either: his daughter with Rita and Rita's own two children, budding sociopaths in their own right. He is, however, upset to discover that his usually faithful sister, Deb, thinks that prison is the right place for him, regardless of whether he is responsible for the crimes of which he's accused. Deb knows all about her brother's proclivities, and she's finally waking up to the fact that, despite his "best intentions," people die because of him, and sometimes innocents get caught in the crossfire. She disavows him—he's not her real brother, after all.

This lights a bit of a fire under him, sparking emotions he steadfastly denies he has. Then he falls heir to Frank Kraunauer, a celebrity attorney known for getting even the obviously guilty off. How did he come to this top-notch lawyer's attention?

The only person left in Dexter's life is his brother, Brian, who once tried to convince Dexter to kill his sister. Brian is as much of a sociopath as Dexter, perhaps even moreso because he was never trained to pretend to be human, but one of his lifelong goals has been to go on a killing spree with his brother, something that can't happen with Dexter in prison. So he finances Dexter's liberty, although his means of doing so create all manner of problems for both men and put them in the sights of a drug cartel's infamous hitman.

While readers may have had sympathy for Dexter off and on over the course of the series, in these circumstances he's not a terribly likable person, especially compared to the way he was in the previous novel, where he foresaw a life without killing and a long-term relationship that wasn't a sham. True, he seems genuinely concerned about repairing his relationship with Deb, but he is equally concerned about the horrible traffic situation in Miami and his constant quest to find good food.

He needs to prove that the crucial evidence against him was fabricated by a vindictive police detective and to forge some kind of working relationship with his brother that won't leave them both dead. How does that all work out? Well, the title could properly be called a spoiler and Lindsay has said that he intends this to be the final novel in the series. And yet, the problem of the first person narrative and some seemingly arbitrary shifts between past and present tense allow for the possibility that this is not the end for Dexter. Should Lindsay be so inclined, there's enough wiggle room left to resurrect his famous creation.


Zeroes: A Novel
Zeroes: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fans of MR. ROBOT will enjoy, September 21, 2015
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This review is from: Zeroes: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
The title of Zer0es, with its saucy, au courant zero substituting for the letter "o," is a binary joke. One character claims that his hacking constitutes a victimless crime because money doesn't exist any more. It's all just ones and zeroes, he says. Another member of the group of misfits latches onto this, saying "We're all just ones and zeroes...Trick is figuring out which of us are ones and which of us are zeroes."

Appreciating a good, self-deprecating joke, the five members of the new pod dub themselves the Zeroes. Until recently, each one plied his or her own particular brand of hacking without any awareness of the existence of the others. They are brought together by circumstance: someone has decided they're needed for a top secret detail, so they are arrested in compromising situations. They're given a choice: a year in indentured servitude to a top secret agency doing something covert or many, many years in prison.

Most of the team members need convincing. A little arm twisting here, a little torture there. Not all of them, though. Some leap at the chance to do some white hat hacking—or is it black hat? No one is quite sure who's running the show. They're taken to super-secret government facility called the Hunting Lodge and assigned tasks to determine their aptitude for the real job ahead, to see if they can handle the pressure, the surroundings and the work, or if they'll wash out and get sent to prison.

Wendig spends quite a bit of time introducing the major players, devoting a chapter to the capture of each. They're a motley crew, mostly young (but not exclusively) loners from a variety of ethnic groups, social structures and orientations. Once assigned their individual performance tasks ("pen" or penetration tests of corporate websites) and isolated in controlled surroundings without any access to the internet or the outside world, they immediately attempt to hack the system and troll each other, with varying degrees of success. One of the subjects, by his own admission, knows very little about hacking computers; however, he does know how to hack people, a valuable skill. As a group, they are something like the Breakers in Algul Siento from Stephen King's Dark Tower series, toiling individually but not exactly sure what they are toiling against. At first, they don't particularly care—they're more interested in winning inter-pod rivalries.

The shadowy figure lurking over the hackers is something called Typhon, which seems to be an experiment in artificial intelligence. The Zeroes begin to find some common elements in the companies and websites they are being asked to penetrate, and one path leads them to the Iranian nuclear program, with deadly consequences. The big question is: are they trying to find flaws in Typhon as a proof of concept or because it poses a real and present danger? Or is there an even more nefarious plan at hand? Even their handlers aren't entirely sure of the answer to those questions.

Once all hell breaks loose—and it does when the lunatics take over the asylum after they achieve their unspoken goal and are deemed no longer useful and a threat to national security—the story opens up beyond the Hunting Lodge to the global stage. High-profile scientists have been disappearing. The socioeconomic framework of the US—and perhaps the entire world—begins to crumble.

The Zeroes are blamed for it all, and more. One of their number is a conspiracy theorist who knows how to live off the radar, and his skills come into play when any number of agencies and individuals begin to target the group. At first they flee but, once cornered, they decide to come out fighting against the faceless entity that has wrought so much havoc.

It's a thrilling seat-of-the-pants ride that alternates between some sophisticated hacking and brutal hand-to-hand combat. The enemy has tentacles that quite literally reach into a dizzying array of people, and the Zeroes are forced to seek assistance from other covert organizations to pull off their mission. Fans of the recent TV series Mr. Robot will find similar themes at play.


Last Words
Last Words
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cold case, with evidence buried deep in a cavern, August 19, 2015
This review is from: Last Words (Kindle Edition)
Usually an author sends his protagonist on a mission that he embraces whole-heartedly, doggedly following the clues and red herrings until he gets to the truth. Investigator Mark Novak doesn't care one bit about the decade-old murder of Sarah Martin inside a cave in Garrison, Indiana. No one really expects him to solve the case, or to absolve the prime suspect, Ridley Barnes. He's so disengaged from and disinterested in the murder and its trappings that he doesn't even bring warm clothes on this wintertime mission.

Two years ago, Novak's wife was killed en route to interviewing a psychic about one of their cases and he's having a hard time letting that unsolved case go. In particular, he's haunted by the last words he said to her that day, and the synchronicity of the date with that of Sarah Martin's murder pushes some of his emotional buttons. At first, this seems like a simple character detail, something to make Novak more interesting. However, as Novak's investigation proceeds, he learns something from his boss that makes those last words, and the circumstances surrounding the situation that inspired them, even more poignant.

His wife also worked for Innocence Incorporated, a Florida-based business that provides support to Death Row inmates who may have been wrongly convicted. One problem with the Martin case is that no one has ever been prosecuted for her murder. Barnes, an eccentric obsessed with caves, has been under a cloud of suspicion for the past decade, but there was never enough evidence to bring charges.

Novak is in Indiana because Barnes sent a letter to Innocence Inc. in which he claims he has no memory of the incident. He wants to know the truth, even if the investigation sends him to prison, so in a way this runs counter to the business's mission. But Novak has been playing fast and loose with the rules so his boss sent him to Garrison to give him a chance to lay low, cool off and weather the storm surrounding some of his recent activities. As a PI, Novak has access to a lot of resources, not all of them legit, and he has been bringing them to bear on the investigation into his wife's murder.

No one in Garrison is interested in poking the sleeping bear that has been the Martin case. Everyone believes they know the truth. Martin disappeared inside the Trapdoor Cavern and Barnes, despite his erratic behavior, knew the intricate system of caves better than anyone else so he was allowed to lead the search. He brought her out, but the teenager was dead, handcuffed and looking like she had been beaten. Barnes' claims that he didn't know where he found her or how she died made him look guilty.

Novak thinks he'll be able to wrap up this futile, busy-work investigation in the few days it will take his superiors to decide his professional fate, but the locals are determined not to cooperate with him, and their resistance—sometimes violent—inspires Novak to dig deeper. The Trapdoor, once seen as a lucrative discovery that would put Garrison on the map, has been closed ever since the murder, and the town is dying. Barnes, for whom Trapdoor is an obsession on a level akin to Captain Ahab's, has been trying to find a way to get back inside ever since. He almost believes the caverns are alive and communicating with him.

Not long after he arrives in Garrison, Novak ends up lost deep inside the caves in total darkness. It's an incredibly claustrophobic and harrowing scene that many writers would have saved for the book's climax, so suspenseful is it. But Koryta has plenty of suspense left up his literary sleeve. Forces are working to thwart Novak, but they don't seem to want him dead, so what is the motivation for countering and discrediting his investigation? Are people working against Barnes or are they working on his behalf? All roads lead back to the unexplored sections of Trapdoor and the secrets long hidden within.

In addition to dealing with the fascinating and thrillingly dangerous world of cave exploration, Last Words also tackles the controversial subject of hypnotherapy. Barnes has been visiting a hypnotist in an attempt to recover memories of that fateful day, and Novak avails himself of her services to try to regain details of the assault that left him lost in Trapdoor Cavern. Many investigators appreciate the value of the process, but also understand that nothing learned from hypnotherapy will ever be admissible in court because many people suspect it causes patients to fabricate repressed memories. On both of these topics, it is clear that Koryta has done his research, but he weaves it into the fabric of the narrative rather than bludgeoning readers with it.

Last Words is the first book in a series, and it seems likely that Novak will attack his wife's murder mystery in earnest in the next volume, Echoes.


Five Days
Five Days
DVD
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Broadchurch (UK) fans will enjoy, July 9, 2015
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This review is from: Five Days (Amazon Video)
A strong cast of faces that have become familiar in the interim since it was first released. Fans of Broadchurch will appreciate the show's focus on the effects of crime on witnesses, innocent bystanders and the people who investigate the crime(s). It's not as fast-paced a series as its five episodes might indicate, and things tend to get a little convoluted and convenient toward the end, but it's highly satisfactory. Looking forward to giving the second season a shot.


Sunshine on Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street Series)
Sunshine on Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street Series)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.00
117 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars More of the life and times of the people who live around Scotland Street, Edinburgh., February 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Another reliable book from Alexander McCall Smith. These are good-natured, warm-spirited books about generally nice people, though there is usually a couple of rotten apples in the barrel -- an overbearing, possibly unfaithful mother and a would-be larcenous narcissist. Marriages happen, dogs are lost and found, a person's life falls under the close scrutiny of a documentarian and found wanting. The boil-popping scene is a tad on the gross side, but generally all's well that end's well.


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Offered by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Price: $11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Science Entertaining with Explosions and Destruction, October 3, 2014
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A reader comes away from Randall Munroe's book, which is subtitled "Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions," with the sense that Munroe likes to blow things up and burn them to the ground, and that may well be the case. Many of his answers are accompanied by the standard disclaimer—do not try this at home—except when says, "If you do do this at home, please send me the video."

Munroe is a former robotics expert with NASA who "dropped out" to draw web comics. His most famous creation is xkcd, where three times a week he publishes a new comic, many of them presenting a fascinating—or ludicrous—take on math, physics, technology or life. His drawing style is at once simplistic and instantly recognizable. His people are stick figures, but that doesn't diminish their cleverness. This book is illustrated with similar drawings, often to provide the punch lines to jokes delivered in the text or to demonstrate a point.

Since he's obviously very clever and resourceful, and seems willing to tackle enormous questions, his readers and fans often ask him questions. Some of these are, quite frankly, disturbing. These he relegates to interludes between batches of chapters with the appropriate heading "Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox." Usually he answers these questions with a simple NO! or a scream, or a comic of the author reporting the questioner to the police, the FBI or Homeland Security.

The other questions are of the sort that college kids might come up with late at night in dorm rooms or geeks would get into heated arguments over at ComicCon. No one asks Munroe who would win in a fight between this superhero and that one, but maybe he's keeping those for the follow-up.

Many questions are about a matter of scale. How many of these objects would you need to do that? What would happen if something this big suddenly showed up or plummeted to the earth? A disturbingly large number of them ask what would happen to a person if something cataclysmic happened, like the sudden disappearance of all of their DNA (his answer unexpectedly segues into the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer).

Some questions have straightforward, simple answers. "What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly turned off?" Everyone would freeze to death. However, Munroe is rarely content to stop there. He expands on these answers, taking them to a logical (or, some might say, illogical) extreme. He ups the ante, going far beyond what the person submitting the question had in mind—far beyond what is even remotely possible, so the answers become thought experiments. Many of his answers end with the extinguishing of life on earth or the destruction of the planet.

But there's a method to his madness. He isn't just speculating. Okay, he does occasionally speculate, but he usually relies on hard science, with a few assumptions. While the book is entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, it is also educational. There are very few formulas (the book does have an extensive bibliography where there are, no doubt, more than enough equations to satisfy those who demand more rigorous proofs), and Munroe takes some numerical shortcuts, but one is left with the impression that he has given these questions a great deal of thought and conducted considerable research.

This would be a terrific book to give to someone with a burgeoning curiosity about the nature of things, as it demonstrates how entertaining science can be. Many of the answers are astonishing and counterintuitive, until Munroe lays out the reasoning behind them. What would happen to a glass of water if the lower half of the liquid were suddenly replaced by a vacuum. Not at all what a person might anticipate. If humanity were to die off (there he goes again), what would be the last remaining manmade source of light? Again, he digs deep, pursuing some unexpected avenues.

Plus, for people who appreciate Munroe's unique, twisted sense of humor, the book is drop dead funny. But, as humorist Dave Barry often says, don't try to duplicate his experiments at home. By his own admission, he is not an expert on these subjects. Because he is willing to consult true experts, he just sounds like one.


The Drop
The Drop
by Dennis Lehane
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
196 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dennis Lehane sees a man about a dog, July 12, 2014
This review is from: The Drop (Paperback)
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Books can take strange paths into existence, but The Drop's circuitous route is especially unconventional. It is based on Lehane's screenplay for the forthcoming movie of the same name (James Gandolfini's last film), which he expanded from a short story called "Animal Rescue" that was itself salvaged from an earlier novel attempt.

The Drop is set in Lehane's Boston, and in the same universe as Mystic River, the events of which are mentioned in passing but do not play a part in this story. It is the tale of a lonely bartender named Bob Saginowski, who has worked for years in a dive called Cousin Marv's, after it's current manager and former owner. Marv really is Bob's cousin, but he no longer owns the establishment. He once was a player with a crew in the Boston underworld, but he blinked when challenged by a Chechen gang, so now he works for them.

Illegal money changes hands here but, more importantly, Cousin Marv's is one of a chain of bars that could be the daily "drop" site: the place where the take from all of the other businesses is brought to be collected. Bars are chosen at random each day and no one knows in advance where the drop will be, thus minimizing the chances of robbery or police raids.

Cousin Marv's is on the police radar for a number of reasons. They know who owns the place and what goes on there, but it was also the last known location of Richie Whelan, who reportedly went out to buy dope and vanished. The cops think Marv and Bob know more than they're saying, and everyone assumes Whelan is dead.

Bob is a Catholic who regularly attends mass at his lifelong parish cathedral but does not partake of communion, a detail that is noticed by Detective Torres, who is also part of the dwindling congregation. There are some sins a person can't come back from, Bob believes, but the nature of his sin is kept secret until late in the book.

Bob's life has been in a rut for a long time. He doesn't know how to make friends or approach women. However, things change when he finds an abused pit bull puppy abandoned in a garbage can. The owner of the house, Nadia, an odd and damaged woman, confronts him when she finds him digging through her trash, but the dog and its plight helps them form a bond. Owning the dog and watching it thrive empower Bob, and others observe the change, though everyone doesn't approve.

A lot of things happen in this brief novel. The dog's former owner, Eric Deeds, a psychotic low-life, demands its return. Cousin Marv's is robbed and the Chechens want their money back, as well as information about the perpetrators. Bob's parish faces closure. Torres stays on Bob's case, even though he has no support from the rest of the police department.

The Drop is packed with gritty action and grittier characters. Everyone has secrets and no one can be trusted. There is no hero: Bob is an anti-hero at best, but he's trying hard to better his situation for the first time in a long time. The book's main question is whether those around him will allow him to save himself. This may not be as layered or rich as some of Lehane's more recent works, but it fits in well with his briefer noir novels. Readers will enjoy getting to know Bob and pull for him to succeed.


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