Product Reviews: SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt

This reviewer was given a SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Review for an honest review.

Winter running is difficult and I have been mostly running inside since Travis over at SLS3 sent me a Dual Pocket Run Belt to try out.  That is one of the reasons I waited so long to actually post a review. I can’t run indoors with too much gear. So I wanted to get a few good runs under my belt (see what I did there) before I decided about the product. Luckily, I was able to get a half dozen or so in before the ankle took me out.

When I was first running and needed something to carry my phone a purchased a belt. The four things that were most important to me were size, capacity, ease and comfort. These are the things that I decided to evaluate this Belt on.

Size: When I was first running I had trouble finding a belt large enough for my size. I have slimmed down some but not enough that sizing is not very important to me.  This Belt fits most hips (24-38″). I will say that I did not wear it on my hips but at my waist and it was a good fit. I have never been comfortable with belts that ride on your hips so the sizing was good. I was also pleased to see the sizing easily found on their website. On many sites the sizing information is not easily accessible.

Capacity: I know many of us are using phones to listen to music, track our routes, listen to Zombies, Run! and the idea of running naked is a deal breaker. Personally, I have passed on electronic free runs because the idea of listening to my breathing for 5-10K is not fun. Add to this the fact that phones are getting larger and larger and the most often asked question I have seen is will this “thing” (belt, water carrier, etc.) hold my phone. The dual pocket design on this is actually great. I used one side for my phone (a Moto X Gen 2) and one day even left it in its larger wallet case to see if that would be a problem, it was not. I used the other pocket for a variety of things over those runs. One day it was my point and shoot camera. The next it was my keys and my inhaler. In all of the trials I found that the pockets were large enough for my needs.

Ease of Use: This is the one spot that I felt the Duel Pocket fell short, partly because of my personal phone issues and partially because of design. Apps on my phone tend to crash. Additionally, I run intervals so I often need to be able to look at my phone and/or restart apps. Because the phone is completely covered I could not do this without unzipping and removing the phone. Which brings me to my second issue, the zippers on this product are a bit stiff. I cannot judge if that is something which will work itself out over time, but when I did have to remove the phone or my inhaler, I would have to stop running to do it. That said I can’t wait to take it out again now that I have a new to me smartwatch and see how it works paired with that technology.

Comfort: One of the reasons I switched from my first belt to a hand-held water bottle with phone pocket (other than ease of access to my phone) was that the belt was uncomfortable and that after the first few minutes it would shift around. If I began my run with the pocket in the front it would end up in the back. I did not notice this at all when use this product.  As a matter of fact most runs I forgot I was even wearing a Belt. But when I need to access the pockets they were right were I left them.

Overall the rating is as seen above 9.2. The main issue which brought the score down for me was the lack of window accessibility. If you have a smartwatch or do not need to check your phone while running you could raise this review to a 9.5.

One lucky person will get to try it out themselves since Travis and SLS3 are sponsoring a giveaway! He also wanted me to let you know “This is our limited time introductory price for the dual pocket run belt. The belt retails at $29.90 but our Amazon store has it listed for $16.90 (43% Off).” Amazon store – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017DRIKFY?tag=broobook-20 And you can also receive 40% off on our entire website www.slstri.com using the code BLOG40.

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50 Word Friday: Poison Princess

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles)
Title: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)
Author: Kresley Cole

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux. But she can’t do either alone. With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him? Who can Evie trust? As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.[1]

Review:

Likes: Post apocalyptic and dystopian. The idea that people are the Major Arcana is interesting. The quest to find Evie’s Grandmother makes for compelling forward movement. Dislikes: Jackson is supposed to be roguishly charming but is an ass. She plays a bit loose with the tarot. YA Escapism = Yes!

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Wordy Wednesday: The Magician’s Land

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The Magician’s Land: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)

Title: The Magician’s Land Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking Adult Rating: 5star
Publication Date: 2014 Genre: Fantasy

Why Picked: My complete adoration of the first two.
First Line:

“The letter had said to meet in a bookstore.”

Summary:

In The Magician’s Land, the stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy—on-sale from Viking on August 5—Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story be­gan, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Along with Plum, a brilliant young under­graduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demi­monde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost for­ever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory—but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrific­ing everything. The Magician’s Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemp­tion that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnifi­cent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole. [1]

 

Review:

I just moments ago put down The Magician’s Land. I was lucky enough to be contacted by Cat over Viking and get an ARC (no strings attached). But this was a read I did not and could not rush. I have been in love with this world since the very beginning and even knowing there is the possibility of a television show, getting to the end of this is book means the end of Quentin’s story (as well as so many others) as told by Mr. Grossman. And I was not ready to let go of this story yet. But Quentin’s story is over. And it was a wonderful ending.

Let me get my issues out of the way up front. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone back and reread the first two of the trilogy. I did read summaries to refresh my memory but Grossman’s worlds are so full and stories so well crafted I was caught a few times trying to remember exact details of what happened. Also I will mention, and again these are personal preferences, there are portions I would have thinned out and plot points I would have like to see more of. These are difficult to explicitly comment on without being spoiler-ly but more of the characters at the end and less of those in the middle would have made this redhead much happier.

So you know I loved the earlier books, what about this one? Well, Quentin having been tossed out of Fillory goes crawling back to Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. For a while it seems like things might settle into a professorial routine for our petulant hero, but through the shenanigans of a young fourth year student, Plum, both she and Quentin find themselves tossed out of Brakebills and suddenly part of a magical Ocean’s Eleven-like heist. Oh, and by the way, Fillory’s Royalty, Elliot, Janet, Poppy and Josh, might have just found out that their realm is set for a mighty apocalyptic, you can’t stop it, end. How these two plots merge and resolve is plotting and story-telling by a master.

There are enough encounters with past characters and settings to keep devoted readers happy but not so much that it seems forced and unnatural. Like I mentioned I would have love to see more of my old favorites but as with things like this are a personal quibble. I will be honest about the character of Quentin, for most of the story up to now, he has been a twit. I am firmly in the Catherynne M. Valente school of magic:

I would have run wild through a magical kingdom and never looked back. Talking animals? Yes. Witches and monsters? Yes. Dark queens? Absolutely. Give it right here. I would have said yes to all of it. [2]

So Quentin getting every damn thing he has ever wanted and being all “meh” or “It is hard” bothered me to no end. Non-magical life is meh and hard and boring and “shut up Quentin!” But these books were a fine example of how you can dislike a main character and love a world. That said, something about Quentin in this book is different, or I am different now, because he feel much less that Quentin and much more a man ready to begin again and again and again, understand that life is just damn hard and having gotten to that point he receives what fictional characters get and us mundanes may never find which is the chance for a happy ending.

The New Deadwardians: 50 Word Friday

 The New Deadwardians

Title: The New Deadwardians
Author: Dan Abnett (Author), I.N.J. Culbard (Illustrations)

Summary:

In post-Victorian England, nearly everyone of the upper classes has voluntarily become a vampire in order to escape the lower classes who are all zombies. Into this simmering cauldron is thrust Chief Inspector George Suttle, a lonely detective who’s got the slowest beat in London: investigating murders in a world where everyone is already dead! When the body of a young aristocrat washes up on the banks of the Thames, Suttle’s quest for the truth will take him from the darkest sewers to the gleaming halls of power, and reveal the rotten heart at the center of this strange world.[1]

Review:

I wanted to love it. I settled for liking it. Maybe a bit too much mystery for my “meh on mysteries” tastes. Or maybe not enough time to develop the story / characters so I was not invested enough. The conclusion was satisfying, the art was lovely but I left unenthusiastic.

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Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1): 50 Word Friday

[ { ENCHANTED (WOODCUTTER SISTERS #01) } ] by Kontis, Alethea (AUTHOR) May-28-2013 [ Paperback ]

Title: Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1)

Author: Alethea Kontis

Summary:

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises. The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?[1]

Review:

If you don’t like your fairy tale-ish stories jumbled up steer clear. I’m not always a purist. I enjoyed how Kontis picked, chose and weaved together bits and pieces of many different tales. A pinch of Frog Prince and a dash of Cinderella and I loved it.

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Bellman & Black: Wordy Wednesday

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Bellman & Black: A Novel

Title: Bellman & Black Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria Books Rating: 4star
Publication Date: 2013 Genre: Historical Fiction

Why Picked: Received from NetGalley for Review
First Line:

I have heard it said, by those that cannot possibly know, that in the final moments of a man’s existence he sees his whole life pass before his eyes.

Summary:

As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune.

Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born. [1]

Review:

Bellman & Black is labeled a ghost story and herein lays the story summary’s most hated feature for non professional reviewers. Where are the ghosts? They are there. They are just not quite so obvious so the ones in the plethora of urban fantasy on the bookshelves today.

This is the story of William Bellman, the boy who kills a rook and the man who pays the price. William Bellman and 3 of his childhood friends out playing one day, decide to see who has the best slingshot and the best aim. William, in a shot which is described throughout the book as beautiful in its arc and range, wins the day by shooting far enough to actually kill one the rooks the boys were aiming at. They then ignore all of the mythic legends about rooks and luck.

Set in the 19th century, this story is told much at the pace of the time is it setting not is writing. The slow and unhurried pace of its beginning, as you find out who our young William is, the abandoned son of the son of the Mill owner, the quick thinking young man with a mind for business, the young husband and kind father.

But the pace begins to pick up as the deaths begin and then as they increase. And at each one Bellman sees the Gentleman in Black, until he has lost almost everyone and everything, except his daughter Dora. It is at this point Mr. Bellman’s life changes. He believes he makes a deal to save Dora that he will embark on a new business which will benefit both him and Mr. Black. The rest of the story centers on the building of the Bellman & Black Empire and the unraveling of Mr. Bellman himself.

While I enjoyed this book I am baffled by many of the criticisms leveled against it. So many people are unsure at the end of where the ghosts are, and who the mysterious Mr. Black “really” is and how does the poor seamstress Lizzie know Mr. Black. I really want to tell them that they are firstly reading to much modern paranormal where everything is obvious and there is no more subtlety in their lives. And two, I want to tell them to read the book again because I think it is very obvious the answer to the last two questions. While there are some questions I would like to have answered, these are not among them.

I will admit to a bit of surprise at how much I enjoyed this book given its pacing and it Dickensian tone. I think the story would have been better for me if there had been less details about his retail life and and more details about the characters. I think once it was established that he was whip smart and ambitious (in the beginning) and driven and single-minded (in the middle) we could have had less mill/store detail and more character detail. And I would have cared more at the end. However, even without falling in love with the characters, I did have a driving need to find out what the resolution of the story was. And in the end Mr. Bellman’s debt was paid in full.