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A. Volk (Canada)
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BenQ GW2760HS 27-inch A-MVA LED Monitor Ultra Slim Bezel
BenQ GW2760HS 27-inch A-MVA LED Monitor Ultra Slim Bezel
Price: CDN$ 244.98
20 used & new from CDN$ 244.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great monitor, terrible color calibration, June 16 2015
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
This is a great monitor for a great price IF (and this is a big IF) you can get the settings right. Out of the box, for some really stupid reason, the manufacturer's settings are completely white washed. It looks like there's a giant white spotlight shining on your monitor. Having ordered two of these monitors, I can confirm that it wasn't just one monitor or one computer. Window's color calibration utility helped a little, the driver not at all, but ultimately what turned my monitors from disappointing to very pleasing was searching "benq monitor color washed out". I found a helpful youtube channel that linked to a helpful download of a color calibration file.

And did that file ever make a difference! The colors are now vibrant, the glaring white spotlight is gone, and all I'm left with is a big, crisp, clear display. So a great monitor, but you need to do some legwork to get it looking right from out of the box.

Finders Keepers: A Novel
Finders Keepers: A Novel
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.93
35 used & new from CDN$ 22.14

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Detective Hodges Series Continues Admirably, June 6 2015
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Ce commentaire est de: Finders Keepers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Finders Keepers is the second in the detective Hodges series and is almost certainly, at least in part, a blank-you to some of King's fans who have complained about his treatment of characters. Probably also a reflection of King's own thoughts along those lines. The main villain's motives are to find his favorite author (whom he is obsessed with) and make him pay for ending the series the way he did. That was back in the late 1970s, and then the book jumps forward to the chief protagonist, Peter. A teenage boy who ends up falling in love with the same book and characters, as well as the loot from the heist. King is at his best when he's talking about the love and joy of reading. He's clearly as big a fan of reading as he is of writing (if not more so). Naturally, it's also a topic that his readers will identify with. But this book's writing is not without a few flaws.

First, the psychology of the main villain is hard to get. He starts off as a psychopath, but one with a really deep interest in literature. His past, while discussed in moderate depth, never quite fit with his ultimate development. Neither his childhood or his early-mid adulthood really justify the person he ends up becoming. It just didn't quite fit for me- part psychopath, part lunatic, part alcoholic, part genius. It felt forced together unlike say Annie Wilkes. Second, the book jams in some pretty serious coincidences. I get that coincidence is an important part of almost any suspense story. But so many things drop into place at just the right time in just the right way that it took away from the credibility of the plot. In this sense, I felt Mr. Mercedes was more credible. Finally, the ending of the book is really tacked on as a sequel. I'm not going to argue about the plausibility of that ending, but wonder why it was crudely jammed on to the end of this book. I think instead it would have made an excellent starting chapter of the inevitable third book. It's not like Stephen King needs to worry about advertising a new book!

So then why did I give this book four stars? Well, because I liked it. I definitely didn't love it, but the writing was generally compelling and King's imagery and handling of the human condition is once more top-notch. In fact, I felt King was at his best when he was at his most mundane in this book. Peter's relatively tame life was much more interesting to read about the Morris' (the villain). And even for Morris, it's when he's doing something relatively ordinary (like coming up with some basic poetry) that rang the most true to me. The plot moves along at a good pace and I was able to get through the book in a couple of nights without ever feeling like I was forcing myself. So that's my final test of whether or not I can recommend a book, meaning I can and do recommend Finders Keepers. It's an interesting thriller that will probably have the reader thinking about their own literary idols and what they'd do to get more of them, or better yet, just what they want from their writing.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland
Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland
by Amanda Berry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.00
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A no holds barred look at some of the best and worst of humanity, April 28 2015
Many of the general details of these women's horrible ordeal are well-known. Kidnapped in their teens by a psychopathic monster, they were kept in his basement for years to be used as punching bags and sex slaves. Amanda eventually gave birth to the monster's child (I'm deliberately avoiding using his name because I think he deserves to be known simply as a psychopathic loser rather than awarding him any kind of posthumous fame- the cowardly loser stuck true to form and killed himself rather than serve his own jail sentence). Amanda's feelings toward him became somewhat more mixed as she saw him being a "good" father (i.e., not a psychopathic monster) to his new daughter. Gina's feelings are simpler- she hates him. The third captive, Amanda Knight, wasn't interested in this book or a relationship with the other two prisoners (I think she just wants to put it all behind her).

So what do you get from this book? Equal parts chilling and inspiring. The details of their daily lives in captivity are unnerving even in their mundane moments (e.g., watching Obama win on TV). The ease in which they were kept captive, and the missed opportunities for finding them, are heartbreaking. But their ability to stand up to this brutal psychological and physical torture and not just survive, but to a degree thrive, is remarkable. They overcome efforts by the loser to make them hate each other and become friends. This friendship, as well as fond memories and love for their actual families, gives them the strength to carry on. And to move on after they are freed. Make no mistake, there are lasting physical (Amanda tattoos over some of hers) and mental scars that will quite likely never go away. But the ability of these young girls to go through such a horrific ordeal and come out functioning, and still capable of loving, is a remarkable testament to the potential of the human spirit.

This book is written well enough, and the subject matter is just so strong that it can't help but give you a punch in the gut before lifting your soul. That's a pretty rare thing for a book to be able to do, so I'm confident in giving it five stars. Just be aware that this book, for all its incredible uplifting, also makes you confront some of the darkest sewage in human behavior. The only thing that makes that bearable is knowing that these brave young women have found a way to move on with their lives. The title is very appropriate- hope kept them going and I definitely hope they have the best lives they can from here on!

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War
Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War
by Randy Stradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.03
49 used & new from CDN$ 5.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens vs Predators vs Humans vs More Predators and Aliens?, April 24 2015
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This is a pretty fun graphic novel. Written by the original writer for the original AvP story (Randy Stradley, who also author AvP War), Three World War continues the story of Machiko Noguchi. She is running a hunting ranch on an alien planet along with boyfriend Ellis (from War) when the Colonial Marines stop by for a visit. Seems that predators attacked a human colony again. Only this time, it wasn't the usual predators. These predators kill unarmed civilians. But that's not all, one of their deadliest weapons were aliens that they were able to control (predaliens actually)! Seems that this makes them pretty unpopular with not only their human victims, but with other predators as well. If only they can convince the other predators to help humans versus kill them too.

The story is well-written and moves at a good clip. The action is good and the characters and plot are credible enough (unlike parts of War). I rather liked the ending and felt it was a good way to wrap up the Noguchi story. For now at least. So this is a fun book to read. If it was a little bit longer and had a few more of the beautiful illustrations that are in the front and back of the book I'd give it five stars. As it stands, it's definitely worth a good four stars.

Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook: A Real Barbecue Champion Brings the Tasty Recipes and Juicy Stories of the Barbecue Circuit to Your Backyard
Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook: A Real Barbecue Champion Brings the Tasty Recipes and Juicy Stories of the Barbecue Circuit to Your Backyard
by Ray Lampe
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.03
25 used & new from CDN$ 16.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for beginners that's still of some value to veteran pitmasters, April 20 2015
This was the first serious BBQ book I ever got. I picked it up at a large book sale only to find it had actually been signed by Ray himself! Must have been put in the wrong pile, but bonus for me. At this stage, in the early 2000s, BBQ was still a fairly unknown movement in the North. Grilling was king. Neighbours thought I was very weird for slowly smoking food, although the smells soon won them all over. So getting Ray's book was a real boost for my cooking.

In this book, Ray goes over the basics of cooking in competition as well as for fun. I'm in the second group, and there are important differences between the two. He covers the basic techniques of cooking the major BBQ cuts of meat (brisket, chicken, ribs, pulled pork butt) and follows each with several different recipes for each. I've found that, like most BBQ recipes, these are best as guides to be modified to suit your own taste. But the basic techniques, as well as the explanations of what happens when you BBQ (vs. grill) offer an excellent introduction to the art of BBQ. The book is lighthearted and simple to follow, with lots of anecdotes and pictures to liven it up. It's not the most comprehensive guide to BBQ techniques or recipes, but it is a great and easy place to start off with for a beginner. Since that's where it was when I got it, I'll give it five stars. If you're already familiar with BBQ basics, then it's probably a 3-4 star book. Some of the sides and unusual recipes are probably going to be new and interesting even to veterans of BBQ, so I think it's worth recommending overall.

Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue: BBQ Your Way to Greatness with 575 Lip-Smackin' Recipes from the Baron of Barbecue
Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue: BBQ Your Way to Greatness with 575 Lip-Smackin' Recipes from the Baron of Barbecue
by Paul Kirk
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.22
26 used & new from CDN$ 7.24

4.0 out of 5 stars This is a pretty solid book about cooking BBQ, April 20 2015
This is a pretty solid book about cooking BBQ. Not grilling, but old-fashioned smoked BBQ. It is simply jam-packed with recipes for just about every kind of major BBQ meat used (and some rare ones too), making it a very comprehensive guide to BBQ. It also includes overall reviews of how to cook each major kind of meat (ribs, brisket, pork butt, chicken, etc.) and recipes for the usual BBQ sides. I found some of the recipes to be a little repetitive and out there, but if you are someone who likes to constantly experiment with new flavors on your BBQ, then this is definitely a book you will appreciate. I haven't followed any of his recipes to the letter as much as I've let myself be inspired by them and modify them to suit my own taste. Which is much more what BBQ is about than slavishly following a recipe to the letter.

So overall, a solid book that I enjoyed getting. It might be more valuable to a new beginner or to someone who likes a really diverse range of BBQ tastes, but I think it's good enough for me to give it an overall positive rating and recommendation to just about anyone who likes BBQ.

Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
by Aaron Franklin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.25
13 used & new from CDN$ 30.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to a single style of BBQ cooking, April 20 2015
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Let's start off with what this book is NOT. It's NOT a book on grilling. It's NOT a book on general BBQ. It's NOT a book full of recipes.

So what is it? It is an exceptionally detailed look, almost story, of how Aaron Franklin cooks his BBQ. He must be doing something right as people regularly wait in line for hours, every day, just to get a taste of his BBQ. What is his BBQ? It's central-Texas-style BBQ that involves very minimal rubs (mostly salt and pepper) and smoke from a real wood fire. This book is about how to recreate that BBQ. It starts off with a brief history of his experience in BBQ before launching into the details of smoking. It starts with the different kind of BBQs, with a strong focus on offset smokers. He details how and why his smokers work and what the home enthusiast can do to maximize the performance of theirs. He then talks about different kinds of wood. Then fire and smoke. Then meat. Then cooking in general. Then recipes for briskey, spareribs, and turkey breast. And finally a brief bit about recipes for BBQ side dishes. Each of those sections gets its own chapter. So yes, there's an entire chapter on how the fire should burn. There's an entire chapter on selecting the right kind of wood or meat. And all of the recipes are central-texas style recipes, although he does very briefly mention how a cook could modify them to other styles.

So if you are looking for any of the things this book is not (as listed above), then this book is a bust. There are much better general guides to cooking BBQ (I like Ray Lampe's book, but also have Raichlin's, Kirk's, and others). But if you are looking for a really detailed guide on how to recreate some really unique BBQ, or how to just plain cook better with wood smokers, then this book is hard to beat. The writing is interesting and personal, but also informative. I usually cook with lump charcoal in my offset smoker, but this book has me seriously considering switching to just wood. BBQ is Aaron's passion, and by the end of this book, it's hard not to be affected by that passion. Any book that can pass that along to its readers is a very good book, so I'm giving this book 5 stars, even if it's focus is quite narrow.

Rockford Files Season 5
Rockford Files Season 5
DVD ~ James Garner
Price: CDN$ 37.59
27 used & new from CDN$ 33.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Still going strong, April 8 2015
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Ce commentaire est de: Rockford Files Season 5 (DVD)
Jim's still putting on a pretty good game, and it's a good season to watch. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it's quite as strong as some of his earlier episodes. The big double-episode con game for example. It started off pretty good and then sort of petered out into something a little silly by the end of it all. So while I definitely enjoyed Season 5, compared to previous Rockford seasons, I just can't quite give it a full 5/5. 4/5 or 4.5/5 seems about right to me.

Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus Volume 1
Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus Volume 1
by Various
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.24
35 used & new from CDN$ 17.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of AvP comic fiction, March 30 2015
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As a fan of both franchises I was intrigued by the comics that blended the two, but not enough to go out and collect them. This omnibus has done that work for me, so I just had to go and order it. There are several different collections in here, including:

Aliens vs. Predator: This is the story that first got the franchises merged into an actual story, and it's a good one. The only issue I have is that the current canon says that aliens are supposed to resemble their hosts, when these ones all resemble human-hosted aliens no matter what species they infest (e.g., alien rhinos). But that's a relatively small complaint for what is otherwise a very good blend of action, suspense, and even some philosophy. It's also one of the best illustrated of the group.
5/5

Blood Time: This is a brief story that follows some of the predators from the previous story. It's OK, but not much more than that.
3/5

Duel: Marines land and duke it out with predators on the planet that was infested in the first story. It's good, but it goes by too quickly and doesn't feature the aliens too much.
4/5

War: This series continues the story of the first series in this collection. It was kind of spoiled for me by my having read the novel of the same name first. And the novel, as flawed as it was, was actually better. For example, the robotic suit that one of the human characters use is actually explained in some depth. So for me, it was not only rehashing a story I'd already read, it was doing it more poorly and with so-so artwork.
3/5

Eternal: This is an interesting comic that starts off with an opportunistic thief a few centuries ago. It's grim and brutal, taking the AvP franchise into interesting territory that doesn't simply retread old stereotypes or the same characters.
5/5

Old Secrets: This one was interesting, and also different from old stereotypes, but it wasn't as good as Eternal or the original series.
4/5

The Web: This series also features a character from the original series, but in a much more grim and disturbing way that once more asks who is the hunter and who is the hunted.
4/5

The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History
The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History
by William K. Klingaman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 7.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that really focuses on a single year in history, March 17 2015
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This book isn't quite what I expected and I didn't really enjoy it. So why 3 stars? Because it's wasn't bad, it just wasn't very enjoyable. I was hoping for a book that gave me more details and depth about the specific effects of the volcanic eruption on global climate. There are some of those details, but this is largely a condensed global newspaper for the year 1816 (as well as some of 1815 and 1817). It really is a historical snapshot that covers major events as well as individual statements from North American and Europe (most of the rest of the world isn't mentioned). As such, I found it partly a history lesson about events that I wasn't really interested in. I didn't care about the US political scene at the time, only about how peoples' lives were affected by the volcanic aftermath. It was interested to read about how unrest in Europe was affected by the poor summer, but it appeared to be equally (if not more so) affected by the end of war.

The writing is fairly good, so it's largely a matter of whether the subject matter is something that will appeal to you. If you want an in-depth historical review of 1816 that includes some meteorological context, then this is a 5-star book. If you're looking for a detailed outline of how a volcano affects global climates, then this is a 2 to 3 star book. Given that I fall somewhere in the middle I'm going with 3.5 stars that I'm conservatively rounding down to 3.

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