Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Balance of August

During August, I read/watched and reviewed the following:


- "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn. Read my review.
- "Boston" a Fodor's Travel Guide by Bethany Beckerlegge et al. Read my review.
- "Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It)" by Brian Jones. Read my review.
- "Flash Mobile - Developing Android and iOS Applications" by Matthew David. Read my review.
- "Prophecy of the Sisters" by Michelle Zink. Read my review.
- "Average Joe" by Troy Meeder. Read my review.

Other Products:

- "Ravensburger Puzzle Store" by Ravensburger. Read my review.

Book "Average Joe" by Troy Meeder

About the Book: “What is happening to my life?”
Have you ever honestly asked yourself that question? As young boys, we dreamed of being pilots, firefighters, doctors, and cowboys. Now we’re older, with a wonderful wife and kids, as well as a mortgage, a minivan, and a fulfilling but not-so-glamorous job. What happened? All the dreams that once inspired us have evaporated into traffic jams, computer screens, bills, and deadlines. Why is life so ordinary?
If you think your life is nothing special, take a look at it through God’s eyes.
The revealing truth is that God chooses “ordinary,” faithful men to do His most important work—regular guys like Peter the fisherman, David the shepherd, Stephen the waiter, Gideon the farmer, Paul the tentmaker, and even Jesus the carpenter. In this engaging book, Troy Meeder blends stories about biblical characters and contemporary men to show that an “average-Joe” life, an “ordinary” existence, shapes a man’s integrity, moral stability, resolve, and strength.
The world desperately needs an army of “average Joes.” Like you.

“Troy Meeder’s heart-felt accounts from both his own personal experience and those of friends and family touch a raw nerve in your soul…. Average Joe reminds us that living a life focused on faith, family, and friends is what makes a man exceptional.”
—Rick Wiggers, average Joe and account manager

Includes a study guide for use by men’s groups.

About the Author: Troy Meeder. Well what can a guy say. Over 50, married to Kim for going on thirty years, yes . . . she still is my best friend, love of my life and truest companion. Been a lot of things over the years; corporate VP, youth pastor, Landscape Contractor and gentleman rancher. Founded and built Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. Once an equine rescue facility, now a place of healing, safety, faith and unconditional love for thousands of visiting children. Crystal Peaks hosts over 5000 visitors a year. Kim and I have hiked a hundred mountains, rode horses over thousands of dusty trails and enjoyed many nights around the campfire. Free time, when I get it, is spent fishing the rivers of Oregon, riding my Friesian horse, Eclipse, working on the ranch, even a scuba dive every now and then. Average Joe is my first book. I trust you will enjoy reading about men that have changed the world around them. Men that have an intense love for Jesus Christ, their families and life. While what the world would consider as mere Average Joe's, these guys have embraced integrity, morality and honor. In the face of compromise, they have stood their ground. From a special operations soldier serving in Iraq to a weathered old man in Sri Lanka, these true stories remind us as men, the importance of a mans character, his word and a steadfast resolve.

My Review: This is a very enjoyable and inspirational reading for average Joe's like myself. It really makes us confident that God loves us as we are.
The author tells famous stories about some of the most known biblical characters and also some other personal stories he collected during the years.
He also makes us think about our ordinary life and how God uses us in His plan. Being average is not boring. It can be as exciting as being a celebrity. It all depends on the perspective. But you have to be not just another average, but the best average you can be, and God will work through you, touching the lives of those surronding you in a powerful way that will make you feel very special for God. Live your life with strong moral principles and transmit those principles to others and you may be changing the life of many around you.
Very powerful book, that I recommend to be in the permanent library of any serious Christian that needs to be reminded on the God's extraordinary calls to ordinary men!
This book was written by Troy Meeder and was published in April 2011 by WaterBrook Multnomah Books and they were kind enough to provide me a copy for reviewing through their Blogging for Books Program. Thanks, Mr. Troy Meeder, for such an inspirational book!

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and give a feedback about this review using the link below.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book "Prophecy of the Sisters" by Michelle Zink

About the Book: An ancient prophecy divides two sisters--one good, one evil.
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, they find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

About the Author: Michelle Zink lives in New York and has always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends. Never satisfied with simply reading them, she usually ends up asking, "What if?" Sometimes asking only leads to more questions, but every now and then, when everything falls into place just right, a story is born. Prophecy of the Sisters is one of those stories.

My Review: This is a very entertaining reading, where the author tells us the story of twin sisters Lia and Alice. The story begins when their father dies in a unusual way leaving them and their brother Henry to the care of their aunt. As strange things start to happened, they find themselves involved in a prophecy that could bring back Satan and his army to the world. One sister is the Gate for that to happen and the other sister is the Guardian, whose role is to prevent that from happening. There is a way to end the prophecy once and for all, but one of the sisters need to find four keys for that to happen.
This is a page turner book, that will keep you reading on the edge of the chair until the last page. Excellent debut from this very talented author. I am willing to read the other two books of this trilogy.

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

Use this link to buy this book:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book "Flash Mobile: Developing Android and iOS Applications" by Matthew David

About the Book: Build rich media applications for the iOS and Android platforms with this primer to Flash mobile development. You get all of the essentials - from setting up your development environment to publishing your apps to the Google Market Place/Apple iTunes App Store. Develop elementary applications without coding; then realize the power of ActionScript 3 to add rich complexity to your applications. Step-by-step instruction is combined with practical tutorial lessons to deliver a working understanding of the development stages including: *Rapid prototyping; *Adding interactivity, audio, and video; *Employing iOS and Android Interface Calls; *Hardware optimization with AIR; *Game development; game engines, controlling physics, and 3D; *Designing for iPad, Android tablets, and Google TV; *Code optimization, testing, and debugging User interfaces are presented in full color to illustrate their nuances. The companion website, www.visualizetheweb/flashmobile, includes all of the AS3 code, project files, and a blog to keep you up to date with related news and developments. *Publication within weeks of Adobe's release of the Android packaging utilities; *Full-color illustrations of UI and design implementations; *Companion website with tutorial media and author forum.

About the Author: Matthew has written books for Friends of Ed, Pearson Press, New Riders, Wiley, Focal Press and Peach Pit. He is also experience at leading teams top deliver bestselling titles books that come with accompanying video training and media. An example is Flash MX Magic, a book written by 7 authors, with an accompanying web site and CD. The book sold over 45,000 copies in 12 languages. Matthew is also the author of 400+ articles

My Review: I developed with a friend of mine an application for iOS named "Bible Names" and I was really with high expectations that this book would take us to the "next level", allowing us to use flash on our future application developments. Although the book is really well written and full of examples, its main focus is on Android platform.
That does not take the merit off this book. For Android specific developers, it is an excellent source of information. First section covers how to set up flash CS5 for Android Development. First project is to create your first application using flash CS5. Then the author covers "Rapid Android Development in Flash CS5", and second project is "Optimizing Animation, Audio, Video and Component Use in Your AIR for Android Apps". Third section deals with "Developing Mobile Applications using ActionScript" and the project for this section is called "Building Sprite's 123", a game that teaches the numbers from 1 to 30. Section four covers "Leveraging Custom iPhone and Android Interface Calls with ActionScript" and the project associated with this section is "Building a Gesture-Driven Application". Fifth section covers "Building Games with Flash for the Mobile Market" and project is "Building a Mobile Game". Last section talks about "Deploying Mobile Apps with Flash CS5" and the project is "Publishing Your Apps into the Many Different App Stores". 
Overall it is a useful book, mainly if you are into developing for Android platform. was kind enough to provide this book 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!

Product "Ravensburger Puzzle Store"

This Ravensburger Puzzle Store is excellent if used with "care". I am a puzzle maniac, having assembled jigsaw puzzles from 100 to 9000 pieces (a 13200 pieces is in the queue). I have used different techniques and products to store/move unfinished puzzles, like Fold and Go, Portable Jigsaw Roll, Jumbo Wooden Puzzle Plateau etc. and for the value, this is the best I found.
When I mentioned it must be used with care, I was referring to the fact that if you transport the puzzle using the handle, pieces might slide, so I recommend always moving it in horizontal position. I found out that it is excellent if you want to assemble in a sofa, placing it in your lap. Unfortunately it can be used only for small puzzles. If there was one for 3000 pieces, I would go for it.

Bottom line is that this is a valuable product for puzzle lovers for works in the range of 500 to 1000 pieces (for up to 500 pieces you most likely will not need to store or move, as you might be able to finish the puzzle in less than four hours). 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!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book "Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It)" by Brian Jones

About the Book: Eternal Damnation, Really?
The first four years that Brian Jones was a pastor, he had a secret: he didn’t believe in hell. Today, he shares his story of discovering that hell exists—and why we’re afraid to believe in it.
Are you one of the many Christians who doesn’t believe in hell or is not convinced your non-Christians friends will end up there? Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) will change your mindset for good—and inspire you to do something about it. Drawing on the teachings of Jesus, Jones will lead you into a head-on collision with what he calls apocalyptic urgency. This all-consuming conviction that hell is real will not only strengthen your faith; it will also free you to share good news with others that will change their lives—now and forever.

About the Author: Brian Jones is the Senior Pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley, an innovative community of faith he and his wife helped start in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Today more than 2,000 people call CCV their spiritual home.
Brian is a graduate of Cincinnati Christian University (B.A.), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and has served in leadership positions in churches for over twenty years. His humorous and raw style has made him a popular speaker for conferences, seminars, churches, and retreats. Brian is passionate about the areas of evangelism and church planting, Christian growth and discipleship, family and relationships, Christianity and popular culture, and innovative approaches to spiritual leadership.
Brian’s latest book, Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It), will be released August 1, 2011. Brian suggests that the real reason most of us don’t tell our friends about Jesus has nothing to with not knowing how. It’s because we don’t think we need to. His prayer is that this latest book changes that mindset.
Brian enjoys watching his daughters' soccer and LAX games, losing golf balls on tight fairways, blowing a morning fishing for trout, and watching God's favorite football team: THE Ohio State Buckeyes. For twenty-two years Brian has been married to “that cute little girl with the big brown eyes” he met in fifth grade church camp. Now he and his wife Lisa have three little girls of their own.

My Review: This book is a work of art, where the author is not shy on giving us all details about why hell is real, supported by innumerous biblical passages that he referred inside his text.

He tries to answer four basic questions, in a total of 12 chapters. His questions are: If Hell is Real... Why Don't I Believe It? Why Am I Afraid To Admit It? How Can I Get Serious About It? How Can I Help Others Avoid It?

So he tell us his story, how come he did not believe in hell until four years after becoming a pastor, when through reading and studying he concluded that hell is real and he started an apocalyptical urgent campaign to spread the word, without sugar-coating the message.

For me it shows clearly that if we care about a non-Christian friend, we should be willing to take the risk of losing a friendship than allowing this friend going to hell for not telling him the naked truth about the salvation plan of our God.

I recommend this book to the permanent library of any serious Christian reader who is concerned about salvation of non-Christian people.

This book was written by Mr. Brian Jones and it was published by David C.Cook in August, 2011 and B&B Media Group were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.

If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book "Boston" a Fodor's Travel Guide by Bethany Beckerlegge et al.

About the Book: Full-color guide • Make your trip to Boston unforgettable with maps, illustrated features, and color photos.
Customize your trip with simple planning tools • Top experiences & attractions • Lodging comparison charts • Easy-to-read color regional maps
Explore Boston, and beyond • Discerning Fodor’s Choice picks for hotels, restaurants, sights, and more • “Word of Mouth” tips from fellow Fodor’s travelers • Illustrated features on the Freedom Trail and Whale-Watching • Best bets for dining and lodging, ideas for making the most of your time, shopping blitz tours, family activities, and museums.
Opinions from destination experts • Fodor’s Boston-based writers reveal their favorite local haunts •Revised annually to provide the latest information

About the Author: Former Fodor's production editor, Bethany Beckerlegge enjoyed getting back to her roots for this project. A native of Massachusetts, this Connecticut-based writer and editor rediscovered her favorite Beantown haunts while updating Boston 2012. When not on assignment, Bethany and her husband Robb travel the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut with their son, Andy.
Other writers are Amanda Knorr, Susan MacCallum-Whitcomb and Lisa Oppenheimer

My Review: This is a very well prepared book, where the writers and the editor did a magnificent job putting together this wonderful guide, with full description of places, that should be able to fulfill all your needs for information on that to do, how to do, where to go, how much it will cost, etc... when you are in Boston.
This guide is fully illustrated with beautiful photos and maps (including an "On the Go Map" attached on the last page of the guide) and they go deep in details on every attraction that you can find in the city and its vicinity.
They start the guide with a section named Experience Boston, orienting you on when to go, giving you some important events that happen annually (Marathon, Harborfest etc...) and Top Attractions. Then they propose some great itineraries that you can do in four days, if you are lost and have no clue from where to start during your visit to Boston. Finally they describe some of Family Favorite Programs and programs you can do for free or almost free.
After this introductory chapter, they go into details on some of top attractions, dedicating full chapters to Beacon Hill, Boston Common, and the Old West End (chapter 2), then Government Center and the North End (chapter 3), Charlestown (chapter 4), Downtown Boston (chapter 5), Back Bay and the South End (chapter 6), The Fenway (chapter 7), Boston Outskirts (chapter 8), and Cambridge (chapter 9).
Following the sequence, they start discussing Where to Eat (chapter 10) where you have a vast list of places to eat with range of price and a quick description on what the place has to offer. then we have a Boston Dining and Lodging Atlas (chapter 11) with a similar approach with descriptions on where to stay. Next is a chapter on Nightlife and Arts (chapter 12) followed by Sports and Outdoors (chapter 13), and Shopping (chapter 14). The guide finishes with suggestions for Side Trips (chapter 15).
So, overall a superb job done by the writers and editor and all people involved on producing such masterpiece. It is a must book if you have any plans to visit Boston! was kind enough to provide this book 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!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn

About the Book: Is this the day I die? Li Quan asks himself this question daily, knowing that he might be killed for practicing his faith. American businessman Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant former college roommate is facing in China. He expects his old friend has fulfilled his dream of becoming a university professor. But when they are reunited in China after twenty years, both men are shocked at what they discover about each other. Thrown together in an hour of encroaching darkness, both must make choices that will determine not only the destinies of two men, but two families, two nations, and two worlds.

About the Author: Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching biblical truth and drawing attention to the needy and how to help them. EPM exists to meet the needs of the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled and unsupported people around the world.
"My ministry focus is communicating the strategic importance of using our earthly time, money, possessions and opportunities to invest in need-meeting ministries that count for eternity," Alcorn says. "I do that by trying to analyze, teach and apply the implications of Christian truth."
Before starting EPM in 1990, Alcorn co-pastored for thirteen years Good Shepherd Community Church outside Gresham, Oregon. He has ministered in many countries, including China, and is a popular teacher and conference speaker. Randy has taught on the part-time faculties of Western Seminary and Multnomah University, both in Portland, Oregon.
Randy is a best-selling author of over 40 books including Heaven, The Treasure Principle and the 2002 Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written numerous articles for magazines such as Discipleship Journal, Moody, Leadership, New Man, and The Christian Reader. He produces the quarterly issues-oriented magazine Eternal Perspectives, and has been a guest on more than 650 radio and television programs including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, The Bible Answer Man, Revive Our Hearts, Truths that Transform and Faith Under Fire.
Alcorn resides in Gresham, Oregon with his wife, Nanci, and their Dalmatian, Moses. The Alcorns have two married daughters, Karina and Angela.
Randy and Nanci are the proud grandparents of four grandsons. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research and reading.

My Review: This is a magnificent book, telling us a very touching story about two friends, Li Quan and Ben Fielding, that lived together as roommates while in college, and after that each one followed his path. When reunited twenty years later, they are chocked with what they see. At college Ben Fielding took Li Quan to his church meetings, but after college Ben forgot about God, relying more in his abilities to advance in his business career than in God's intervention. In the other hand, Li Quan did not deny his new re-discovered God, same God of his ancestors, and he give up all his worldly dreams of becoming a professor and writing books to follow the path of evangelising in China.
The author shows us all the "behind the scenes" persecution that happens in China for those who preach the gospel of Jesus. We follow all the sufferings of Li Quan and his family and the rewakening of Ben to his faith, while witnessing everything that Li Quan is enduring in his life in China, in the name of a God that he had forgotten and abandoned.
This is a brilliant book, very well written, easy reading and that keep us turning pages till the very end. It is a must have book in the permanent library of any serious christian reader. Thanks, Randy Alcorn, for such a masterpiece!
This book was written by Randy Alcorn and it was published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.
If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Contest#3 - Book "Indelible" by Kristen Heitzmann

Contest open worldwide.

About the Book: In a clash of light and darkness, can courage prevail?
Rescuing a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion, Trevor MacDaniel, a high-country outfitter, sets in motion events he can’t foresee. His act of bravery entwines his life with gifted sculptor Natalie Reeve - and attracts a grim admirer.
Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands. In each other they see strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe.
When a troubled soul views Trevor as archangel and adversary, Redford’s peaceful mountain community is threatened. Together with Police Chief Jonah Westfall, Trevor presses his limits to combat the menace who targets the most helpless and innocent.

Read my review on this book.

Thanks to Kristen Heitzmann and Blog for Books team, I have one (1) copy of this fabulous book to give away. Here is what you need to do to win a copy:

Giveaway Rules:

1- ) No purchase is necessary … :) ... (just kidding)… :) ...

2- ) Mandatory: Leave a comment with a valid e-mail address to enter into a drawing. Each comment is one entry and you can leave just one comment per day with your e-mail address.

3- ) You can enter an additional comment (another chance of winning!) if you are/become a follower of my blog (must be public profile). This is just one comment/entry during the whole life of this contest. It is not “one comment per day” opportunity, like item # 2.

4- ) If you have your own review blog, leave a link to your blog in a separate comment, to count as another entry. I will start following your blog. Same criteria as rule #3 apply here (Just one additional entry during the whole life of this contest).

5- ) You can enter an additional comment (another chance of winning!) if you are/become my follower on twitter (@rmattos). Same criteria as rule #3 apply here (Just one additional entry during the whole life of this contest).

All valid comments will be sorted by the order they were entered and they will be given a sequential number. The winner will be selected using the site and they will be immediately notified by e-mail, so, no e-mail, no entry. Result also will be posted here in the day following the end of contest.

Contest ends September 02nd, 2011 - 11:59 P.M., NJ time (E.S.T.)
Book will be sent by USPS Media Mail.