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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Balance of June

During the month of June, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Long Steep Path" by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Read my review.
- "Timecaster" by J. A. Konrath. Read my review.
- "Heaven 2.0" by Scott Haworth. Read my review.

Other Products:
- "Pujols Quick Stick - Underload Speed Training Bat" by SKLZ. Read my review.
- "SpeedSac - Variable Weight Sprint Trainer"  by SKLZ. Read my review.
- "Fastpitch Reaction Ball - Softball Agility Trainer" by SKLZ. Read my review.
- "Catapult Soft Toss Machine - Baseball Trainer" by SKLZ. Read my review.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book "Heaven2.0" by Scott Haworth

About the Book: Having been born in the 28th century, Mike Kepler never believed in the existence of Heaven or Hell. The myths of the old faiths had been abandoned and replaced with the teachings of The Church many centuries earlier. The young physicist is shocked to learn that there is an afterlife when he is recruited by the Taipei Corporation. It was created by a team of scientists rather than God.
Mike's job is to travel to the past and save people at the time of their deaths using advanced medical technology. The individuals are then brought back to the 28th century, judged on the sins they committed and sentenced to an eternity in the artificial Heaven or Hell. Mike quickly learns that the project is far less noble than it appears. He discovers that many of the people sentenced to eternal torment in Hell do not deserve their fate. When a hero he extracted from the past is convicted simply for being gay, Nick decides to fight back against the Taipei Corporation.

About the Author: Scott was born in the wagon of a traveling show. His Momma used to dance for the money they'd throw. Pappa would do whatever he could... Well, not really. That would have been a lot more interesting though. He was actually born in the suburbs of Cleveland.
After existing for several more decades, Scott graduated from The Ohio State University in 2004 with a degree in history and political science. Six months later he decided he wanted to be a writer, which made the degree largely worthless. Oops.
Scott has written many novels in genres ranging from science fiction to political satire. He tried combining the two genres once, but he didn't think anyone would be interested in a sex scandal involving the President of Blargon 7.
When not writing, he enjoys being asleep.
He currently lives in central Ohio, or as you might know it better as, "that state I fly over on my way to a state I care about."

My Review: This is a very interesting and entertaining story, very well written, about a futuristic world where science was able to create Hell and Heaven. The company responsible for this implementation is called Taipei Corporation and it recruits the most brilliant minds on Earth to work for their project, based on Mars. But the way the judgement happens is not completely "fair" and the company needs to fill some quotas for Hell as well as for Heaven and that causes some good people being sentenced to Hell. Mike Kepler is a young physicist that is recruited and when he notices those anomalies, he starts to fight the structure, and he is not alone on that fight. He has the help of his mentor and other surprising help from inside the corporation.
Very entertaining reading, brilliant idea, I recommend this book to the permanent library of any science fiction lover. It will keep you entertained for quite some hours. It took me around six hours to read the whole book.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Product "Catapult Soft Toss Machine - Baseball Trainer" by SKLZ

About the Product: Use the Catapult Soft Toss Pitching Machine to work on both the offensive and defensive aspects of your game. Use regulation baseballs for soft toss or to practice footwork and glove-hand ball transfer. Or use 9" plastic balls for pop fly practice. The unit adjusts for height and distance and serves balls every 8 seconds.
Features:

  • Spiral ball funnel holds up to 8 regulation size baseballs.
  • Automatically tosses balls every 8 seconds.
  • Adjustable height and distance.
  • Use with AC Adaptor or 4 D Batteries (not included).

Catapult Usage:
1) Add baseballs to machine:
Prior to starting the machine add up to 8 balls to the Spiral Ball Funnel.
2) Adjust ball flight angle:
Before adjusting the ball flight angle turn the Catapult off. Loosen the trajectory lever knob at the front of the machine. Adjust leg up or down to adjust the ball flight angle. Tighten trajectory lever knob. Stabilize Catapult by adjusting the rear stability bar. Unscrew knobs on both sides of the bar and adjust height so that the bar rests on the ground. Secure into place by tightening each knob.
3) Adjust ball throwing distance:
Using the adjustable distance knob, tighten to increase ball throwing distance, loosen slowly to decrease ball throwing distance.
4) Power up machine:
The Catapult runs on 4 D Batteries (not included) or with the provided AC Adapter. If using the AC Adapter, connect to the side of Catapult Base below the power switch. If using batteries flip the Catapult over. Press down on the black tab and slide the battery cover off. Install batteries as shown. Turn product ON to power up and OFF to power down. Ensure all persons and pets are clear of the Catapult and the path of the ball before powering on.

My Review: This is a good practice equipment, very easy to assemble and you can use almost immediately after receiving it. But do not think it is a pitching machine, because it is not. It will never reach the speeds of a real pitcher, but it is still good for practicing hand/eye coordination and reaction time. My daughter uses it with the 9" plastic balls for pop fly practice.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Product "Fastpitch Reaction Ball - Softball Agility Trainer" by SKLZ

About the Product: Reaction Ball fielding aid is perfect for improvement of hand-eye coordination and reaction time. Volley the Reaction Ball between two athletes, or rebound it against a wall. Upon landing, the ball will bounce in an unpredictable manner. Repeating these steps will improve your speed and coordination.

My Review: This is a very useful product (at an honest price) to improve reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Upon throwing the ball at the floor, it will bounce in an randomly manner and it will keep the kids in their toes to catch it before it bounces again. Excellent training speed. Your reflexes will be tested at their maximum. Use only outdoors...

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Product "SpeedSac - Variable Weight Sprint Trainer" by SKLZ

About the Product: Build explosive leg drive out of the blocks with the SpeedSac. This variable weight sled allows you to strengthen your lower body muscles by resistance training, similar to metal sleds. Practice exploding from a set position, improve your dash time, and increase overall speed. With removable weights, the SpeedSac allows you to adjust the towing resistance. You can also use the handles on the bags to perform various upper and lower body exercises such as lunges or front raises.
Features:

  • Includes 3 durable weight bags that can be filled with up to 10 pounds of sand (30 pounds total). 
  • Sled material won't harm grass or mark wood floors. 
  • Adjustable leash length to accommodate athletes of any size. 

Sand not included.

My review: This is a very nice set of exercise equipment that will help you exercise your leg muscles. After 20 minutes exercising you will discover muscles that you never new were there, as they all will be hurting like hell.
The sealing of the packages is excellent, so you do not make a mess after filling the bags with sand. I use my bags in my basement and there is no sign of sand anywhere. My wife would be very mad at me if that was the case...
The product comes with a workout poster. On one side, we have recommended drills for only the speed sack and on the other side, a 6 week workout program that combines the speed sac with other SKLZ products, and both have beginners/advanced adjustments. A DVD with instructions is also included in the shipment. The DVD gives demonstration videos for most of SKLZ products. Each video demonstrates regular speed and slow motions with different angles so you can see and teach proper form.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book "Timecaster" by J.A.Konrath




About the Book: Talon Alalon is a timecaster--one of a select few peace officers who can operate a TEV, the Tachyon Emission Visualizer, which records events (most specifically, crimes) that have already happened.
With crime at an all-time low, Talon has little to do except give lectures to schoolkids--and obsess on his wife's profession as a licensed sex partner.
Then one of her clients asks Talon to investigate a possible murder. When Talon uses the TEV to view the crime, the identity of the killer is unmistakable--it's him, Talon Avalon.
Someone is taking timecasting to a whole new level and using it to frame Talon. And the only way he can prove his innocence is to go off the grid--which in 2064 is a very dangerous thing to do. 
Time is not on his side.
Featuring all of the action, thrills, and humor of other Konrath books, but set in an outrageous never-before-seen future, the Timecaster series is ecopunk on super steroids. Add in healthy doses of sex, some characters from Konrath's previous books (Talon is Jack Daniels's grandson), and a lot of outrageous ideas about technology, society, and politics, and Timecaster is a book that will appeal to anyone who likes to be entertained, even if they don't dig on sci-fi.

About the Author: JA Konrath is the author of eight novels in the Jack Daniels thriller series. They do not have to be read in chronological order to be enjoyed, but for those who want to know it is: Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb, Shaken, and Stirred.
Jack also appears in the novels Shot of Tequila, Flee, Spree, Three, Timecaster Supersymmetry, Banana Hammock, and Serial Killers Uncut, as well as the short story collection Jack Daniels Stories, and the novellas Floaters and Burners.
Last Call, the ninth Jack Daniels novel, will be available in spring of 2013.
Konrath writes horror under the name Jack Kilborn, including the bestsellers Afraid, Trapped, Endurance, and Draculas. Haunted House, the next Kilborn thriller, is coming mid 2013.
He has sold over a million ebooks.

My Review: This is a very entertaining book, with some excellent ideas in terms of futuristic technologies. The idea of being able to record past events is fantastic, and it is the basis of the plot. Our hero (Talon) is one of the few officers who knows how to operate a device that records the past. This device is mostly used to solve crimes. But leaving in a society with no crimes is also challenging and Talon soon finds out that it can disturb the minds of people. He investigates a crime that just happen to figure out that he was the murderer... and now his mission is to figure out who is trying to frame him.
I bought this book at Amazon.com in its electronic version. Very entertaining story, it took me about 11 hours to read the whole book. I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader who loves science fiction. You will not be disappointed at all.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Product "Pujols Quick Stick - Underload Speed Training Bat" by SKLZ

About the Product: Narrow your focus and broaden your game. Get plenty of swings for maximizing hand speed, hand-eye coordination and contact.

My Review: This is not a regular bat. It is a training stick. As it is made of aluminum, it is extremely light-weight and when used with plastic golf-size balls (3 included) it helps you a lot with hands-eye coordination and hand  speed. With balls of this size, your accuracy needs to be in shape and using plastic balls you do not need to worry about breaking windows or damaging fences. The stick we received came in a fixed size of 30". I could not figure out how to adjust the length, as claimed by the manufacturer.
Excellent acquisition for a very decent price.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book "The Long Steep Path" by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book: By the bestselling author of DON'T LET ME GO and PAY IT FORWARD, this entertaining and life-affirming collection of autobiographical stories explores the rewards and challenges of building a happy life of self-knowledge and creative inspiration, from a writer who has been through it all.
"What inspired you to write the novel Pay It Forward?"
Years after the publication of Pay It Forward, this is still the most common question asked of Catherine Ryan Hyde, bestselling and critically acclaimed author of 20 published and forthcoming books, including Don't Let Me Go, When You Were Older, and Pay It Forward, the incredible bestselling novel that led to a movie, a foundation, and an entire social movement.
Everything Pay It Forward became is rooted in a small, but extraordinary act of kindness, which Catherine received as a young adult. It was one moment that caused her to look at life in a different way. It was a moment of pure, human inspiration.
In THE LONG STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, Catherine shares her story, as well as what inspires her, in a series of funny and totally engaging autobiographical stories that are at once personal and universal.

About the Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 20 published and forthcoming books. Her newer novels are WHEN I FOUND YOU, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Her newest ebook title is THE LONG, STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, her first book-length creative nonfiction. Forthcoming frontlist titles are WALK ME HOME and WHERE WE BELONG.
She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE...AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY!
Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards.
More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.
For more information, please visit the author at catherineryanhyde.com

My Review: This is quite an interesting book, well written and entertaining. It is not a story in the sense that there is no plot, but it is more a collection of small essays that can hold by themselves. The author talks about some situations that happened during her life, the learning those situation brought to her. All in all it is a good and easy reading, without any religion context. If you are expecting some deep theological discussion, you will be disappointed. But most of the stories are very inspirational. Worth reading!
I bought this book at Amazon.com in its electronic version and it took me a little more than seven hours to read the whole book.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment!