Alisten Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker and LED Light Lamp Alarm Clock

This Alisten Bluetooth Speaker with Alarm Clock LED Lamp comes with the unit, an aux cable, a USB cable, and an instruction booklet. The speaker is attractive, has three levels of brightness for the LED or can be turned off entirely for use while sleeping.

There is an FM radio, and it can play from Bluetooth devices and also as an MP3 player with USB and micro TF/SD Card input. Personally, I use it a lot out on my porch while I am working on my laptop. I use it in conjunction with Spotify or iTunes or even my microSD card full of my favorite songs. I have sometimes also had occasion to sleep while it is on. I love that it can be set to turn itself off so I can fall asleep to music and yet have darkness and silence after I have fallen asleep. 

It is true the instructions are not the clearest, but the features are not that terribly hard to figure out. I enjoy this little speaker and its portability. I move it from room to room when I change places I am working.

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If you if are interested in more details about this Alisten Bluetooth Speaker with Alarm Clock LED Lamp, then here is the Amazon product page.

 

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A Beautiful Work In Progress – Kindle Ed. – By Mirna Valerio (Author)

I had the good fortune to read this title in advance, thanks to the Kindle First program.

A Beautiful Work In Progress: A Memoir, Kindle Edition, by Mirna Valerio is one of the most inspirational personal accounts I have ever read. It does not hurt that the book details the life of a plus-size athlete. I am a plus-sized, non-athlete, but inspiration can go a long way into shifting thoughts which become actions, so I am willing myself to put these good intentions into practice and get myself started toward better health. Her advice goes so far as to think of oneself as an athlete whether or not any external validation of that is present. Good advice, I think how shortly ago I finally decided to think of myself as a writer– if only because “I write.”

Like the author, Mirna Valerio, I have replaced the goal of becoming “skinny” (whatever that is) with becoming fit and healthy. I think that is more a desirable and realistic plan. Will I be running marathons– most certainly not, I know– no matter how impressive that would be.

She makes it unmistakably clear within the pages of the book and in the speech she gave in September of 2016 (reprinted in the appendix) that we have our preferences. We are not cookie-cutter people in shape, size, nor about personal tastes. My preferred physical activities center around basketball, dance and swimming. I have tried to keep dancing, but the instances of basketball and swimming have indeed become fewer and farther-between. These favorite activities are ones I wish to resurrect in earnest.

Her accounts of some of her marathons were quite harrowing. She is unquestionably a dedicated, determined, and exemplary athlete. In my opinion, the author is a role model and heroine, though she writes her story as though she is neither. Her prose is approachable, readable, and relatable. Reading her account is almost like hearing it from her lips, as her style is easygoing, matter-of-fact, and unassuming. I have gotten to know her more than most other authors, I believe.

The accounts of her many races and her training measures are here, but there is much more in this book. Mirna Valerio is a multi-faceted person. Her intellect shines through as clearly as her athleticism and prowess in her marathon runs. She is a voracious reader, she has taught music and Spanish and traveled a good deal. It is all pretty fascinating.

I am usually one to think “I am not worthy!” when reading such an account of an accomplished person, but I know that she would not want that so I will put that energy instead into making my story come true. After all, this is not the end. I am chronologically further into my story than Mirna Valerio, but this last act could prove greater than the others if I put my all into it and “do not leave anything on the trail” so to speak.

So here am I, despite appearances, a burgeoning athlete. Thank you, Mirna Valerio. I have subscribed to your Facebook and Twitter because I see that your posts are as inspirational as this book, and I will need the encouragement. In return, consider me another “work in progress” and one of your many “enablers.” 🙂

If you are interested in this lively account of a marathoner, then here is the Amazon product page link to A Beautiful Work In Progress: A Memoir.

 

 

 

 

 

ONTA® Gorsun Foldable, Adjustable Lightweight Headphones (Orange)

These ONTA® Gorsun Foldable, Adjustable Lightweight Headphones are surprisingly good for the price and for being touted as children’s headphones. The headphones fit me comfortably. I consider I have a medium-sized adult head size. The fit was perfect for me, oddly enough– not too tight, nor too loose. I had no issues with them even after wearing them a long time. My daughter uses them while playing a PS4 game. She has said that after MANY hours they become a bit uncomfortable. These are not the only headphones available to her, either, so she chooses them, nevertheless. I am thinking they are suitable for about age nine and up, depending on head size.

I checked out the ONTA® pair for sound. Quite honestly I did not expect much. Instead, I was pretty impressed. The sound is crisp and full, unlike many headphones costing more than these.

Now the vibrant orange color and the plastic build and feel clues you in that these are for children. Happily, the sound does not. Unlike some similar products I have tested, these headphones fulfill their purpose well. Some things sold for children are low quality. Why? I imagine that children are not the consumers buying them and that manufacturers do not think the buying adults will truly test them out.

I would have no qualms giving these headphones to any young person.

If you want to buy these earphones, here is the Amazon product page link.

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives: A Novel – By Julie Lawson Timmer

~ GENERAL TAKE [MILD SPOILERS] ~

I read Mrs. Saint and the Defectives in July when it was available as one of the selections for Amazon Prime’s Kindle First program. Every month, Amazon Prime members can pick out one title from the handful offered and download it for free thirty days before it debuts publicly. It is one of my particular favorite perks of the Prime program.

I chose this title, as it seemed one right up my alley. It sounded fun, light, and quirky enough to de-stress me and set me up for a positive month. I was not wrong.

The titular character, Mrs. Saint, is a powerhouse of a woman with firm opinions on things like being neighborly, families eating together, and teenage boys and dogs. You know– controversial stuff. I could not help but love her immediately. But then, I loved every one of the characters in this book. The author, Julie Lawson Timmer, does a fantastic job of breathing life into them all. Besides mere life, she bestows each with a charm, grace, and personality. I know people such as these.

Markie, a recent divorcée, and her teenage son Jesse become next door neighbors to the irascible elderly woman and a rag-tag bunch she calls “defectives.” The dance that ensues between the overstepping neighbor and the reticent, retreating Markie is something to behold.

The so-called “defectives” are an awkward bunch of lovely people like ourselves and probably everyone we know. No one escapes pain and woundedness in this life. Some merely hide it better than others, if you ask me. Brokenness does not mean one is “defective”– just human in an imperfect world.

The author has an impressive command of language and narrative. I read the book through nearly in one sitting. Ms. Timmer obviously knows people. With a few deft sentences, she made me feel I understood even the lesser characters well. I had a stake in them and their growth and struggles.

If she were to write a sequel, I would buy it and read it with anticipation. The ending was a mixed bag to me. Ultimately, I like what occurred for most of the characters. There was a development, a revelation, that I felt was not necessary to the story, but others may well disagree.

 

~ MORE PERSONAL TAKE – [MEDIUM SPOILERS] ~

 

Mainly, I enjoyed at least the first 90% of the book very much. I smiled often and even laughed aloud. Other times, I found myself “coaching” the characters as though they would hear me and fall into line. [Why do I do that– ever?]

Knowing her neighbor had lots of wisdom, why did Markie not keep her stubborn attitude in check? Why did Mrs. Saint deliver her “advice” in the same matter-of-fact way? Did she not realize that “people do not care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Had she not heard that you “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” sometime in her life?

So, I would have preferred if a few certain characters might have been less reactive and stubborn. It became a bit frustrating– though true-to-life to some degree– as we can “miss” each other even with the best of intentions.

I have read many lighthearted books lately in which the last chapters took on a vastly more profound and somber subject or tone. There was some warning [of a sort] when I looked back over the stories in detail. However, they felt disjointed and out of step with the rest of the narrative.

Much to my chagrin, Mrs. Saint and the Defectives wound up this way. My thought on the semi-surprise “Cause” ending is that the book, though seemingly lighthearted in tone, is quite serious in its way. The plight of these people is enough– more than enough to my way of thinking– to give it importance, relevance and whatever other weighty “ance” word you can imagine. This tale is about the human condition.

There is no end of books written about the subject that is broached in the last pages about a certain character’s back story. I would not discourage significant themes. I find them when others may not, in fact. This tale of a pushy but well-meaning neighbor with a houseful of eccentrics under her roof and their dealings with the near agoraphobic single mom and her angsty son is ENOUGH.

The ending seems a reach in a few ways. The explanation feels like a betrayal of the personality and traits of the title character. It does not go with what came before. Also, it seems like a reach — like that of an overachiever holding a pen, who always pushes for more and is rarely satisfied– and never believes that others without that ultra-critical eye, simply marvel at the beauty that was inherent in their words already.

I wish I could have assured the author that just as these quirky, beautiful people she lovingly detailed in these pages have intrinsic worth and are not “defective,” so too would this book be worthy enough without the ultra-serious turn. If it is not broken, it does not need fixing.

What Julie Lawson Timmer has done with her work has touched me greatly, without a doubt, and I am grateful for it. I just would have liked to have maintained the same particular sentiment and tone from the start through to the story’s conclusion. As this is art, though, it is the beholder’s eye that matters. Your perspective may differ.

Here is the link to download the Kindle version of Mrs. Saint and the Defectives on Amazon.

 

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ULAKY “Wine A Bit, You’ll Feel Better” – Vinyl Wall Decal

This “Wine A Bit, You’ll Feel Better” Vinyl Wall Decal by ULAKY was perfectly packaged (wrapped in plastic and rolled over a styrofoam tube) so that it arrived unwrinkled and in pristine condition. It came with a helpful instruction sheet, so there are no worries that you will mess it up.

The decal has individual pre-cut elements that you can peel and apply to your wall or another predetermined area. The surface needs only be clean and smooth for successful application. Importantly, this sticker is removable and repositionable. It should not leave behind any sticky residue, either. That means when it outlasts its charm, you can just peel it off. It should not harm paint. The decal is environmentally friendly and non-toxic.

I would not hesitate to buy again from this company.

If you would like to have this ULAKY humorous wall decoration for yourself or as a gag gift for a loved one, here is the Amazon product page link.

If you would like to see my original review on Amazon, here is the link.

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Fidget Force – LED Cosmic Hand Spinner

This Cosmic model is my first light-up spinner. I was not sure how I would like it. Would it just be too gimmicky? Would the lights increase my enjoyment of the focus spinner? Since my primary goal is better concentration when I am writing, would it improve that for me?

Surprisingly, the lights enhanced my experience. Especially in subdued lighting, the light show in your hands is cool. The lights going on when the spinner is idle are only so-so, but when it is spinning, the pattern is intriguing.

The spinner is black with white circles that let the LEDs show through when slight impact to them turns them on. Each end has three lights (blue, green, and red).

This Fidget Force Cosmic Hand Spinner is one of the lightest ones I own. The spins are among the smoothest, as well. The lights flicker for roughly twenty seconds after you tap them on with a finger or hand. The turns last longer than that, but this is not a spinner for the person who craves long spins. Especially in this instance, I do not mind because the added dimension the LEDs bring to the table.

The other side of the spinner has three peace sign stickers. There are also nine space-related stickers included in the package should you wish to change them out or the current ones wear out.

Although this is a pretty consistent spinner and the spins are smooth as butter, I do believe this is nevertheless one of the least durable should there be a fall from a height or heavy impacts. The most that will happen to this one is that it might fall on the rug, so that is a non-issue. If your child rough houses a lot, then you might want to look for a more durable specimen.

If you would like to buy a Fidget Force Cosmic Spinner, then here is the Amazon product page.

Here is my original Amazon product review. I hope you enjoy it.  🙂

 

Folding Hand Saw For Camping/Pruning

 

I am straightening up the yard. My father-in-law calls that action “a police call,” which was a new one on me. In either case, I bought this All Purpose Folding Hand Saw for “back-up.” There are dead branches to cut away from trees and some thick vines attempting a coup d’état on the property. Their reckoning is upon them now.

So far small and medium branches are no problem to prune from trees. Vines on the ground and running up the trees are no sweat for this saw, either. Whether the high limbs or the low vines, they are getting clipped and carted away, as the as the saw is about 14″ long to reach in either direction.

The tool has a gear style lock for safety. Therefore, it will not open up in someone’s camping gear, or the like. It takes a bit of strength to open it up, so small children are safe from harm.

The ergonomic handle has an anti-slip and comfortable grip. Whereas I need to wear gloves to protect my hands, this is not the case when pruning now. My daughter and I with our small/ medium hands can use this tool perfectly well. It is easily stored in a camping bag, a toolbox, or hung in a shed or on a workbench.

I can foresee my daughter will be borrowing this saw for upcoming camping trips, as it would be ideal for making a campfire.

This pruner seems pretty durable with triple-cut teeth. It is also 100% corrosion and rust-resistant. There is a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee on this Folding Hand Saw, so there is no risk.

Does anyone else use the phrase “Police Call” for outdoor clean-up? Is this descriptive term reserved just for outdoor work or does household work qualify when more than one person participates?

If you are interested in this camping and trimming saw, here is the Amazon product page.

Here are my photos and review. I hope you find them helpful.  🙂

“P.S. From Paris” by Mark Levy – Kindle Edition

P.S. From Paris was my August Kindle First selection. Amazon Prime members get access to one free book one month before it becomes available for purchase. I am glad that I read it. However, there are a few caveats.

Characters – Characters in P.S. From Paris are well-fleshed out with a few being less-so. I quickly grew fond of most characters. The banter between the main characters especially is worth the price of admission.

Content – There is nothing particularly egregious in this story. The language is tame overall, with maybe a dozen mostly mild expletives. There is no violence. There are allusions to adult relations that are not much steamier than the old film trope of having the camera pan away from a kissing couple. I like the overall wholesome feel.

Pacing – One of the major detractions from the book for me was the pacing. The beginning seemed slow. I had to fight to stay awake. The pace picked up and never wavered again once the romantic leads met one another.

Storyline – This is a romance, certainly. Some have labeled it rom-com. For me, there are comic moments, but they are the sort that made me smile wryly, rather than laugh out loud. This book was light-hearted the first 85% or more of the novel, then become melodramatic and serious in content and tone near the end.

This evolving plot is something I have seen a lot lately. It tends to feel a bit contrived– like the author is trying too hard to be clever, relevant, and socio-politically vital. This story is slightly less heavy-handed about it than others I have read lately.

It is not that I object to profound messages in books that I read– quite the opposite! It is more a matter of feeling that there is depth to be found in the simplest of stories, too. To me, it does not need switching gears to make it into something unexpected. When done with mastery, precision, and subtlety, I am sure it would make a winning story for me. I have seen it so often that I am starting to expect it beforehand.

I am also unclear how realistic the plot twist is, as it seems beyond all credulity that the publishing deception went undiscovered for years. [It is too difficult to detail this further without spoiling the plot for readers].

Writing – Marc Levy writes well. The story is often enjoyable to read. A slight problem with following the story comes down to dialogue. Mr. Levy kept a minimalistic approach to attributing lines of dialogue. It became hard to follow without reading back and making sure of the speaker. There were also several instances of a change in the scene without much fanfare. It took a minute to sort out what was happening.

APEKX B1 Bluetooth Earbuds – Immersive Sound— Even From Lower Volumes

These Apekx  B1 Bluetooth Earbuds have sets of S/M/L butterfly ear hooks so that they fit nearly everyone. They are comfortable in my ears and stay put as well or better than others I have owned.

On a charge, you get over five hours of time to talk or listen. If you run them completely down, they charge quickly enough. It takes just around sixty minutes. The standby time is supposed to be 180 hours; which is incredible to me.

The most important factor is the sound quality. I mainly listen to music, but occasional podcasts and videos, too. The sound is full, with good bass and clarity. It is an immersive experience. Ambient noise gets filtered well. My daughter and I tested them together. When she wore them at a normal volume for her, I could not hear the song she was playing. The same was true when I had them on. Also, we could not make out what the other person said when we had music going. That said, of course, these are not the earphones to wear if you need to be aware of your surroundings.

These are the pair I wear when I can just lose myself in the music for a while– whether I am working at my desk, performing other tasks around the house, dancing, or relaxing. Music has always been the saving grace in my life. I take it seriously.

Apekx might just get that the soundtracks of our lives mean a great deal to us.

I suggest gifting this pair to someone who has a penchant for turning the volume too high because they want to hear everything and get an immersive experience from their media. They might just turn it down and save their hearing possibly.

These Apekx Bluetooth Headphones come with both a 30-day money back guarantee and a one-year warranty.

 


If you are interested in seeing more, here is the Amazon product page.

Here is my original review, I hope you find it helpful. 🙂

ROOROO Tri-Spinner Fidget Focus Toy

The RooRoo Tri-Spinner Fidget Gadget is an EDC [Every Day Carry] toy. I had no idea until I did some research that there are well over seventy unique styles and types of these fidget- focus spinners. There are more than thirty options from which to choose when it comes to the chain and cube varieties. It is the phenomenon of the year.

Those who might elicit benefits from fidget spinner use include people with: ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Aspergers and Autism– and those are just the ones beginning with the letter “A.” Bad habits are easier to overcome for some. Enhanced focus is a benefit for me. Downtime is enjoyable.

This RooRoo Fidget Spinner Toy is a solid competitor among the field with its 608 inline skate bearings and ceramic body. The body design is the commonest on the market. My model came without the “ROO” lettering on the caps, which I do not mind in the slightest.

The spins are impressive with all of them lasting more than three minutes in my time trials.

Time Trials – Flat Surface

1 – 3 minutes, 10 seconds

2 – 3 minutes, 20 seconds

3 – 3 minutes, 14 seconds

4 – 3 minutes, 23 seconds

As you can see, the spins were amazingly consistent. I tried to give it a decent spin but surely did not put much strength into it. I wanted to get a baseline only. Most people would tend to get longer results.

Where this one shines is how effortlessly and smoothly it glides and that it has nearly no noise except a satisfying little whir. It cannot be much louder than a hummingbird’s wings. When used as intended, disturbing other people seems unlikely.

This RooRoo Fidget Spinner is not the glitziest model out there; it has no lights, nor multiple colors, for example. I do not require any of that myself. This EDC is a good, reliable spinner. Had someone told me I would be collecting “toys,” I would not have believed it. I finally found a trend I enjoy.

The RooRoo Tri-Spinner has a lifetime money back guarantee, so there is no risk.

 

 

 

This is the Amazon product page for more information on this spinner.

Here is my original Amazon review. I hope it is helpful :-).