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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Balance of July

During the month of July, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "Child of the Ghosts" by Jonathan Moeller. Read my review.
- "Khe" by Alexes Razevich. Read my review.
- "Open Minds" by Susan Kaye Quinn. Read my review.

Other Products:
- "AVR-X1000 In-Command 5.1-Channel Networking Home Theater Receiver with AirPlay (Black)"  from Denon. Read my review.
- "Half and Half Sweetened Instant Tea Mix, Iced Tea and Lemonade, 24.34 Ounce" by Lipton. Read my review.
- "Hit-A-Way Jr. - 2-in-1 Youth Batting Trainer" by SKLZ. Read my review.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Product "Hit-A-Way Jr. - 2-in-1 Youth Batting Trainer" by SKLZ

About the Product: The Hit-A-Way Jr. batting trainer is the fun and safe way for children to develop their batting skills. It's construction mirrors that of the SKLZ adult swing trainer, the Hit-A-Way, but brings it down to youth proportions. The Hit-A-Way Jr. sets up in seconds and easily converts to a tee with two different height options, giving your future all-star two ways to have fun. Start your little one by hitting a ball on the T-Ball stand, then graduate them to getting comfortable swinging the Neoprene bat and hitting the moving ball. The tethered ball simulates real pitches and develops hand-eye coordination, balance, and timing in both right- and left-handed batters.
Features:

  • Sets up in seconds for hours of play or practice 
  • Use as a batting trainer or as a T-ball trainer 
  • Tethered ball simulates real pitches 
  • Great for right- and left-handed batters 
  • For indoor or outdoor use


My Review: Previously I had bought the big version of this batting trainer for my daughter, as she was struggling on the hitting aspect of her game. When I saw that SKLZ had this youth version I immediately thought about my nephew that is six years old. It was a blast! He enjoys so much his new equipment that he wants to sleep with it. First day he spent more than four hours playing with it and definitely he was starting hitting the ball much better at the end of the four hours. Best part is that he was so tired that he did not complain when sent to bed! But for more "serious" training, there is the need of an adult supervision to adjust the level of the ball (height and distance) as this changes after a few hits. It is easy to assemble but the material is not solid that will last a lifetime. But if it last one year of some use (not intense), it will already be worth the money.

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, July 23, 2013

Book "Open Minds" by Susan Kaye Quinn


About the Book: Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

About the Author: Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times. 
She left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees (B.S. Aerospace Engineering, M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering) and work everywhere from NASA to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) to a little Venice Beach restaurant called The Green Bean (she was the bookkeeper). She has designed aircraft engines, studied global warming, and held elected office (as a school board member). Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Rocket Scientist and Author," and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore. 
Which is too bad. 
All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up dystopian future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. For her stories, of course. Just ignore that stuff in the basement. 
Her middle grade boys clamor for more middle grade books with magic and gadgets and less teen novels with kissing. Unfortunately for them, she enjoys writing both.
Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.
Check out Susan's author website (www.susankayequinn.com) for more information about her books, and subscribe to her newsletter (http://bit.ly/SubscribeToSusansNewsletter) to be notified of upcoming releases.

My Review: This is a very interesting book, where the author create a world where human kind developed the ability of reading thoughts. But not all of them are capable of doing it. Those are called zeros and are outcast from society. Our heroine is Kira, a zero, who secretly loves Raf, a mindreader from her class. When he tries to kiss her she controls his mind and almost kill him. With the help of a friend (Simon) she starts learning how to control her new ability of mindjack and she quickly find out that she is not alone with this ability. And her world turns into lies to her family, to her friends and to Raf. The author did a great job constructing a very rich set of characters. The story flows in a quick pace and at the you just want more. Fortunately the trilogy is completed by the time I finished reading the first book, so I can proceed and read all three without having to wait at all.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of any science-fiction fan, as well as any young adult that enjoys a very well written novel.  I bought this book from Amazon.com and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

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



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Product "Half and Half Sweetened Instant Tea Mix, Iced Tea and Lemonade, 24.34 Ounce" by Lipton

About the Product: Lipton half and half lemonade iced tea mix has the freshness of iced tea along with the great taste of cool lemonade. This tea and lemonade flavor mix is a beverage the whole family will love to drink, and is an easy way to refresh your mealtime. With the delicious blend of thirst-quenching Lipton iced tea and the sweet taste of lemonade in simple to make mix, you can enjoy these great flavors anytime of the day.

My Review: I was very pleasant surprised by the effect the lemonade had on the iced tea. I would never do this mix voluntarily but at the end, it was a very nice combination of flavors. Initially I was worried about the fact that it was sweetened, but even that proved to be not a killer. The amount of sugar is enough to break the bitterness of the tea and the lemon and the final result is a very refreshing drink.

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, July 19, 2013

Book "Khe" by Alexes Razevich

About the Book: Khe loves her simple life on a farming commune, until she discovers that her gift for pushing the crops is a death sentence. Fleeing across the treacherous wilderness, she makes her way to the city of Chimbalay, searching for the orindles who might save her. But Chimbalay has its own dangers. The Powers are there - the secret rulers who have chosen Khe to be the mother of a monstrous new race. 
Neither "man in space" SciFi nor classical fantasy, Khe deftly blends elements of both while satisfying those searching for something different. Readers looking for solid world-building and fresh and fully-realized characters will especially enjoy this book. 
A trust betrayed. A transformation that changes everything.

About the Author: Alexes Razevich was born in New York and grew up in Orange County, California. She attended California State University San Francisco where she earned a degree in Creative Writing. After a successful career on the fringe of the electronics industry, including stints as director of marketing for a major trade show management company and as an editor for Electronic Engineering Times, she returned to her first love - fiction. She lives in Southern California with her husband and one of her two college-aged children. When she isn't writing, she enjoys playing hockey and travel. 
She would love to have you join her on Twitter https://twitter.com/lxsraz and get to know you on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlexesRazevichAuthor.

My Review: Very entertaining story, the author creates a very interesting world, populated with a race where the males and females live separately and once per year they reunite to mate. But that happens as an impulse that you cannot control, and our heroine misses this impulse and is sent for treatment. Initially the treatment seems to work, but then some side effects start to happen and the whole story develops from there. While seeking for a cure to her problem outside her village, she finds others affected by similar problem and she ended up finding the answer for a much more high level question, who are those entities that came to their world and caused the society to behave as they do nowadays. Very well written, characters full developed and environment well described. Nice cover. It took me around 10 hours to read the whole book.

I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that enjoy a very well written science-fiction book. I bought this book from Amazon.com and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Product "AVR-X1000 In-Command 5.1-Channel Networking Home Theater Receiver with AirPlay (Black)" from Denon

About the Product: The AVR-X1000 A/V surround receiver provides network functions that let you enjoy Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM Internet Radio, as well as AirPlay for enjoying content from your iTunes library stored in an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or a PC or Mac. It also supports the Denon Remote App that lets you operate the basic functions of the AVR-X1000 from your iPhone or Android device. With the addition of a separate power amplifier, the AVR-X1000’s multi-zone functionality lets other people enjoy music or video entertainment from a separate source in a different room while you enjoy your own programs in the main room.

My Review: This is a very powerful product, very easy to set up. The feature I enjoy most is the two-zone, two-source multi-room capability, that allows me to listen to my music in a room while my daughters are in a different room enjoying the home theater with their program. My previous receiver was a Sony STR-D615 that I have been happily using for the last 18 years. But this new one, being modern, have network capabilities, that really increases how fancy you can go on its usage. It is not fair comparing electronics products that were manufactured almost twenty years apart, but definitely if you have all the other electronics, you will have fun connecting them together and streaming all audio from your iProducts to this Denon equipment. Sound reproduction is very decent (I have JBL speakers) and with proper adjustments it matches the sound quality of my old faithful Sony. Go for it!

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!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book "Child of the Ghosts" by Jonathan Moeller

About the Book: For fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword & Sorceress", Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Jennifer Roberson, here is a new story of a woman's fight against an ancient evil.
When her life is torn apart by sorcery and murder, young Caina Amalas joins the mysterious Ghosts, the legendary spies and assassins of the Emperor of Nighmar. She learns the secrets of disguise and stealth, of assassination and infiltration.
But even that might not be enough to save her.
For the evil that destroyed her family seeks to devour the entire world...

About the Author: Standing over six feet tall, Jonathan Moeller has the piercing blue eyes of a Conan of Cimmeria, the bronze-colored hair a Visigothic warrior-king, and the stern visage of a captain of men, none of which are useful in his career as a computer repairman, alas.
He has written the DEMONSOULED series of sword-and-sorcery novels, the TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS urban fantasy series, THE GHOSTS series about assassin and spy Caina Amalas, the COMPUTER BEGINNER'S GUIDE sequence of computer books, and numerous other works.
Visit his website at: http://www.jonathanmoeller.com 
Visit his technology blog at:
 http://www.jonathanmoeller.com/screed

My Review: This is a very entertaining book, with a plot very well constructed and characters enjoyable. Our main character is a young lady named Caina. She lives in a world surrounded by sorcery and nobility. Her mother was denied a formal sorcerer training for lack of aptitude and she joins an alternate clan that plays with dangerous sorcery, the necromancers. She sells her daughter Caina to the most powerful of the necromancers' sorcerers, Maglarion. After a close call with death, Caina manages to escape from Maglarion and joins a legendary society called the Ghosts, that act as spies and assassins for the Emperor of Nighmar. The Ghosts were summon by her father before he died in the hands of Maglarion. Caina is trained on how to disguise and stealth, how to infiltrate and murder. She becomes a powerful weapon for the Ghosts in their fight against the sorcery. And the story develops in a very fast pace and all the plots and twist should be savored with delight. There is a sequel to this book named "Ghost in the Flames" that I placed in my "To Read" list and I intent to do that in the first opportunity I have, as I am really curious to see how the life of our heroine Caina will develop as a Ghost nighfighter.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that enjoy a very well written book with an young adult theme. I bought this book from Amazon.com and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

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