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Monday, September 30, 2013

Balance of September

During the month of September, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "Insight" by Jamie Magee. Read my review.
- "Wotan's Dilemma" by Hank Quense. Read my review.
- "Encrypted" by Carolyn McCray. Read my review.
- "Forbidden the Stars" by Valmore Daniels. Read my review.
- "Mind Games" by Polly Iyer. Read my review.
Other Products:
- "Colorful Activity at Times Square Augmented Reality Jigsaw Puzzle, 1000-Piece" by Ravensburger. Read my review.
 - "Study Kit with Tabs, Flags, Arrow Flags, Note Tabs, Grid Notes, full Adhesive Notes, Label Pads and Flags + Highlighter" by Post-It. Read my review.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book "Mind Games" by Polly Iyer



About the Book: During a New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball, psychic entertainer Diana Racine touches the hand of a masked Cyrano de Bergerac and is instantly transported into the icy-cold body of a dead woman submerged in water. As Diana crumples to the floor, water filling her lungs, she hears Cyrano whisper that the game has begun. 
Diana has been called every epithet in the book: charlatan, cheat, publicity hound...and genius--all at least partially true. But convincing New Orleans police lieutenant Ernie Lucier that her vision of the dead woman is the real thing may be her hardest act yet. He becomes a believer when Diana leads him to the alligator-infested bayou and the woman's remains. When another vision leads to another body, it's clear that the two dead women are a prelude to the killer's ultimate victim--Diana.

About the Author: Polly Iyer writes suspense, mysteries, and thrillers, all with a touch of romance and characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After pursuing careers in fashion, art, and business in Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she settled in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina where she devises ways for life to be complicated for her characters. Better them than her.

My Review: This is a very well written novel with a simple plot. A psychic (Diana Racine) that in her youth helped police department to solve crimes, is doing entertainment shows as an adult. When she touches the hand of a masked guy, she sees a dead woman under the water, and the masked man says to her that the game has begun. And then it starts a very high paced adventure, where our heroine is kidnapped by the masked guy and a policy lieutenant (Ernie Lucier) tries to rescue her. There is an emotional involvement between the two of them and the author deals very well with all the psychological sides of this relationship. Diana has also a very peculiar relation with her parents. All in all, this is a very entertaining book, that will keep you busy for a few hours. It took me around thirteen hours to read the whole book. 
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers who like a good mystery with some paranormal activity.

I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book "Forbidden the Stars" by Valmore Daniels

About the Book: At the end of the 21st century, a catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt has left two surveyors dead. There is no trace of their young son, Alex Manez, or of the asteroid itself. 
On the outer edge of the solar system, the first manned mission to Pluto, led by the youngest female astronaut in NASA history, has led to an historic discovery: there is a marker left there by an alien race for humankind to find. We are not alone! 
While studying the alien marker, it begins to react and, four hours later, the missing asteroid appears in a Plutonian orbit, along with young Alex Manez, who has developed some alarming side-effects from his exposure to the kinetic element they call Kinemet. 
From the depths of a criminal empire based on Luna, an expatriate seizes the opportunity to wrest control of outer space, and takes swift action. 
The secret to faster-than-light speed is up for grabs, and the race for interstellar space begins!

About the Author: Valmore Daniels has lived on the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and dozens of points in between.
An insatiable thirst for new experiences has led him to work in several fields, including legal research, elderly care, oil and gas administration, web design, government service, human resources, and retail business management.
His enthusiasm for travel is only surpassed by his passion for telling tall tales.
Visit him at www.ValmoreDaniels.com
Also by Valmore Daniels:
- Fallen Angels -
Book 1 - Angel Fire
Book 2 - Angel's Breath
Book 3 - Earth Angel
Book 4 - Angel Tears (TBR)
Book 5 - Angel of Darkness (TBR)
- The Interstellar Age -
Book 1 - Forbidden The Stars
Book 2 - Music of the Spheres
Book 3 - Worlds Away

My Review: Very well written science-fiction book, will keep you entertained for hours. Plot is simple. In a futuristic world, a family is mining in an asteroid when an accident happens, killing both mother and father and leaving the young son (Alex Manez) missing, as well as the asteroid they were working on. In the meantime a mission to Pluto finds an artificial artifact made by aliens. Suddenly the artifact starts to react and just out of the blues the missing asteroid appears in the orbit of Pluto, with our young Alex on a survival capsule. The phenomena is studied and people start to realize that they might be facing the solution to travel at light speed and young Alex might be the key to understand the new element they were mining in the asteroids. But there were side effects on Alex, due to exposition to the new element, called now Kinemet. And during their return from Pluto, Alex is kidnapped by some space age pirates under the command of a lunar lunatic that wants to control the new technology. Very entertaining story, I recommend this book to all readers that love a well written science-fiction novel. Unfortunately the story does not close per se. It will continue in a second book. But very good start!
It took me almost ten hours to read the whole book.

I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book "Encrypted" by Carolyn McCray

About the Book: A code written in unbreakable Angelic script.
The resurgence of the Black Death.
Can an FBI Agent and the Robin Hood Hacker save the world from another Dark Ages?

About the Author: Carolyn has had a long and extremely interesting road to become a bestseller. 
When she head to veterinary school those many years ago she had no idea decades later she would be writing controversial historical thrillers, gut wrenching mysteries and roller coaster-style action/adventure tales!
Born in San Francisco and raised in the beautiful Napa Valley, Carolyn always had an overactive imagination. As a child you could usually find her dragging the neighborhood children out to the haunted barn to make her Nancy Drew-style audio tapes. Oh and did she mention, there was an entire life-sized recreation of the nativity scene in the rafters? Yeah, that wasn't just a little creepy.
Which of course was great practice for writing such blockbusters as Plain Jane: A Patterson-style thriller with a dash of Hannibal and 30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller.
Carolyn is honored to have a seven book contract with Amazon's mystery and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer along with being one of the eight books during the inaugural launch of Amazon's new Serial program (9th Circle).
With over 250,000 books sold, Carolyn now lives on a beautiful lake in the Pacific Northwest where the fog rolls in over the water, snuffing out all signs of life around her. Yep, she still loves the creepy!

My Review: This is a very fast paced story that you read on the edge of your chair. At the end you see yourself cheering for the outlaws, hoping that they will prevail against the law. This book is part of the series called "Robin Hood Hacker" and the main characters are very well developed. Ronnie is a beautiful hacker, with a brilliant partner named Quirk. On her first try to meet FBI agent Zach, that is trying to capture her, the hell got loosed and she ended up to have to rescue him and from there they both run for their lives for most part of the book, trying to stop a terrorist group to spread the plague known as Black Death.It took me almost nineteen hours to read the whole book. I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that love a very well written thriller, with romance and high technology toys, and with salvation of the world at stake. This was the first book I read from this author and definitely will not be the last.

I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book "Wotan's Dilemma" by Hank Quense

About the Book: This is a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth. In it, Brunnhilde, a Valkyrie, searches for an understanding of mortal love and hopes someday to experience it. While Brunnhilde goes about her quest, a secondary story involves a struggle to possess and control the magical horde of gold known as the Rhinegold, now transformed into quantum electronic devices of immense power. The god Wotan contends with two aliens in a three-way scrum. 
This ancient myth is now told as a sci-fi tale with aliens replacing the fantasy creatures. Beautiful goddesses, magical gold quantum electronics, aliens, a murderous god, great heroes: what more could a reader want?

About the Author: Award-winning author Hank Quense writes humorous fantasy and sci-fi stories. His motto is fantasy and sci-fi stories told with humor and satire. He has over forty published short stories and a number of nonfiction articles. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. He refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news. Hank lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Hank’s previous works include Zaftan Enterprises, Zaftan Miscreants and Tales From Gundarland, a collection of fantasy stories. Readers Favorite awarded the book a medal and EPIC designated it a finalist in its 2011 competition. His Fool’s Gold is a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth and Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previously published short stories. Build a Better Story is a book of advice for fiction writers.

He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:

Hank’s Blog: http://hank-quense.com/wp
Strange Worlds website: http://strangeworldsonline.com
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99

My Review: This author always amazes me with his inspiration to adapt other stories using a lot of humor and producing a very entertaining book. This is not just another quest for immortality, or for the knowledge of mortal love... gods, Valkyries, aliens, electronic artifacts, mortals, warriors, every element of a very strange and funny story is present. The Old Gods Retirement's Village is where all the old forgotten gods live and as described, is one of the most hilarious ideas of the book, that is full of brilliant sarcasms. Although I had no previously knowledge on the Brunhilde myth, I was able to follow the story without any problems.

I recommend this book for all readers who likes a good written fantasy story and wants to be entertained on a Saturday afternoon. It took me a little less than four hours to read the whole book. 

I received this book from the author for review 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!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Product "Study Kit with Tabs, Flags, Arrow Flags, Note Tabs, Grid Notes, full Adhesive Notes, Label Pads and Flags + Highlighter" by Post-It

About the Product: Post-it Study Kit includes eight products sure to help you get organized and create a system that is a smarter way to study. These products will help you Find what you're looking for, Remind you of key information, and Remember the important stuff. Kit includes Tabs for dividing sections in books and binders; Flags to mark and pinpoint information; Label Pads to label binders, notebooks and more; a variety of Notes and a Flag+ Highlighter combining yellow flags and a highlighter in one convenient device. All of this in a sturdy box that will be easy to throw in your back pack so all those study essentials are with you when you need them.

My Review: Post-It prepared a very useful combination of their products in this package, containing one graph pad, 5 pads for notes, 3 sets of different colored flags and a marker with embedded flags on it. The yellow highlighter with the flags is to most useful product, very convenient to have at hands when you are reading or studying. I left the product for my younger daughter that is in high school to use and she simply loved all the items. Everything came in an excellent package that can even be used to transport all the items in a backpack.

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

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

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book "Insight" by Jamie Magee

About the Book: Willow Haywood has always been trapped between the worlds of the Light and the Dark. Her waking hours are plagued by her ability to feel the emotions of those around her. No matter how inward she draws, she cannot shut out the feelings of others. Sometimes she will see images - echoes of other people and places - that she can enter to influence the emotions of people she has never met. 
By night, Willow experiences her only escape from this terrible insight - entering into the world of dreams. Most of these dreams are shared in blissful silence with a stunning blue-eyed boy. But every new moon she lives through something much darker: a horrific nightmare shared by another mysterious boy who is always shrouded by shadows. 
One night, this shadowy figure invades her dreams outside of his appointed time. In this new nightmare, Willow is marked; a mark which follows her into the waking world and sets her on a momentous path through light and darkness, through fragmented myth and half-truths, through past lives and disturbing family secrets, all in the face of the ever-dominant Zodiac. What she finds will endanger the lives of those closest to her and will force her to make a decision that will change her world forever.

About the Author: The fun non boring Bio :) :I'm an obsessive daydreamer. Lover of loud alternative music. Addicted to Red Bull. I love to laugh until it hurts. Fall is my favorite season. Black is my favorite 'shade.' Strong believer in the saying: there is a reason for everything, therefore I search for 'marked moments' every moment of everyday...and I find them. Life is beautiful! 
Boring one....: Jamie Magee has always believed that each of us have a defining gift that sets us apart from the rest of the world, she has always envied those who have known from their first breath what their gift was. Not knowing hers, she began a career in the fast paced world of business. Raising a young family, and competing to rise higher in that field would drive some to the point of insanity, but she always found a moment of escape in a passing daydream. Her imagination would take her to places she'd never been, introduce her to people she's never known. Insight, her debuting novel, is a result of that powerful imagination. Today, she is grateful that not knowing what defined her, led her on a path of discovery that would always be a part of her.

My Review: This is a very entertaining book, dealing with a young woman who has special abilities of influencing the emotions of people around her. During nights she dreams with a boy with blue eyes. But alternating with this pleasant dream, she has nightmares about a boy hidden in shadows. Her world almost fall apart when her father tells her that they are from another dimension and what she thought were just dreams are more real than ever and new adventures begin when her family decides to go back "home". And the main love story between our heroine and the blue eye boy is something that defies time... 
Very entertaining, it took me around 14 hours to read the whole book. I recommend this book to the permanent library of young adults or any reader that likes a well written fiction book.
I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Product "Colorful Activity at Times Square Augmented Reality Jigsaw Puzzle, 1000-Piece" by Ravensburger

About the Product: Discover Times Square with a 360-degree view while finding out interesting facts about NYC. Project your own picture on one of the billboards and forward to your friends. Ravensburger's Augmented Reality puzzle collection makes your puzzle come alive. Download the free AR Puzzle app from the App Store that utilizes the camera function of the iPhone® or iPad® versions 2 or higher to animate the scene. Experience a totally new visual reality and reveal audio details, sound effects and factual formation.

My Review: I love the picture selection. In a sense it makes the puzzle easier with so many colors. Usually if you have similar tonalities of blue (skies, seas) or green (trees, grass), things are more challenging, but there is a lot of fun on this puzzle. I am a puzzle maniac, having assembled jigsaw puzzles from 100 to 9000 pieces (a 13200 pieces is in the queue and I am really going to the 18,000 and 32,000 pieces from Ravensburger in the future...). Some of them were 3D puzzles, like the Taj Mahal, US Capitol, Neuschwanstein Castle, Big Ben, etc. This particular puzzle is another very high quality product from Ravensburger. All the pieces have an excellent finishing and they stick together very well. 
What differentiates this puzzle from any other I have assembled before is the so called Augmented Reality, bringing more reality through the use of an application that I loaded on my iPhone. With this application, you chose between 360 degree view or facts. When you point your camera to certain parts of the puzzle you have in the screen of the phone more level of details in better resolution than you can see in the puzzle itself or some facts about that image. It is kind of entertaining for a while.
I usually assemble this size of puzzles on top of Foam Boards. They are very light and conveniently cheap. The foam board being 3/16'' (5mm) gives your puzzle enough support. I usually cut the board (easily done with a cutter) after glueing the puzzle, leaving a border of 1'' at each side, so I can pin the board in my garage (that, at this point, is full of puzzles...). What help me a lot is that my wife and daughters also like the challenge, so we move fast. A 1,000 piece puzzle do not last a weekend, although the 8,000 piece one took us 2 months (most 2 to 3 hours at night work) to put together. It took us 3 days to put this one together. I highly recommend this puzzle for the excellent quality to everyone that enjoys challenges alone or with the whole family. It is a guaranteed entertainment for hours, listening to music or talking in family environment. 

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

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