Archive for December, 2013

THESE MOMS ROCK!

Incredible Animal Moms: Exploring Our Incredible World Series

Written by Mark Smith

Animal Moms pic

This fifty six page book is another book in the exploring our world series. This volume focuses on the unique relationship between animal moms and their young. Smith has selected twenty animals; some are common but many are unique. He gives the reader just enough information to create a comprehensive portrait of the mother-child relationship and its uniqueness in the animal world. Each of them is accompanied by a photograph to illustrate the synopsis. The reader will be encouraged to pick out favorites and research other aspects of that animal’s life. Children aged eight and up might read the book independently. Younger children will enjoy an adult reading it aloud in several parts. Anyone who reads the book will learn something new; I know that I acquired a lot of new information. Did you know that a newborn elephant weights 250 pounds and that a mother elephant is pregnant for 22 months? All the female members of the herd live as one family and protect it.

Some animal moms and babies are remarkably similar to humans. They even look and act like us. These animals are extremely smart; they make their own tools which they use to find food. Some have even mastered how to use sign language to communicate with humans. The orangutan mom spends six or seven years teaching her babies survival skills. She teaches them how to make a new bed of leaves each night. Unfortunately, orangutans are disappearing because humans have cut down the trees they need for their habitat. The cow mother also is similar to a human mother. She will have a bond with her calf for life and socializes with her young throughout her life. The mother will travel for miles to find a calf that strays from the herd.

There are some animals that are very different from humans. You probably know that an octopus mom has eight arms, but did you know that each of them has a suction cup to move and catch food.? They are able to camouflage themselves and completely disappear. They also have a bird’s beak which they use to eat their food. An octopus mom has only one chance to have babies. She will lay as many as 200,000 eggs! For one month until they hatch, she stands guard for predators and does not eat. Some of these moms get so hungry that they eat their own arm rather than allow the eggs to go unguarded! Seahorse moms do not do any of the work in having babies. She chooses one mate, and lays all of her eggs in the dad’s pouch. He carries them until they hatch. He has a special hormone in his body to protect the eggs and give the eggs everything they require.

Some animals are beautiful and dangerous at the same time. The Strawberry Poison Frogs are brightly colored. They can be red, blue, green or spotted. They get their poison from the things they eat. These frogs are only about one inch long, but their bright color is a warning not to eat them. The mother lays about five eggs. When they hatch into tadpoles, she carries one at a time up a tree that may be 100 feet high and places it into a small pool she has made in its leaves. She feeds each one of her own eggs until they are fully grown. Pretty incredible for such a small creature!

I have only talked about a few of these incredible moms. Read this well written and illustrated non fiction book to find out much more extraordinary information about our animal world.

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A GIFT TO ONESELF

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I would like to wish my subscribers and their families all over the world peace, joy, health, and happiness however and wherever you celebrate during this holiday season.

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The Prayer: A Haunting Children’s Christmas Tale that Captures the True Spirit of Christmas

Written by Stephan J Myers

Illustrated by Kerry Fisher and Stephan J Myers

The Prayer,pic

These verses were first written in 2009 and recently published in Great Britain in kindle format. The author makes one request: before reading the story promise that you will never forget the meaning in these words. I don’t think that you will…

The title is a bit misleading because this book is not a prayer in the religious sense. At the beginning the scene is set for children round the world dreaming of the images and gifts that Christmas will bring; then suddenly shifts to the image of children who have no family, friends, and are struggling to survive the night. “For sometimes the children who need things the most, are lost to the night and a pale winter’s ghost.”

A starving child dressed in rags hears a voice in the darkness that urges him to follow his lantern so that he may discover a home with a hearth and a warm fire. This spirit instructs the boy to hold up his lantern and peer through the windows he passes along the way. The boy obeys and observes a young boy reading in a room with presents piled under the tree. At the next house he views this same boy who is now a father with a child on his knee; the kitchen tables piled high with food. As his lantern grows dimmer, the boy gazes through another window viewing that boy as an old man. No one in these houses is able to see his plight. The lamp is beginning to fade, and so is the life left in that little boy. When New Year dawns, those lucky children are still reveling in the holiday oblivious to his plight, while that little needy little boy has become a ghost.

This is a powerful and well written short story done in verse that will remain in memory long after you read it. The illustrations are colorful, fluid, warm and penetrating; they reinforce the words and draw on compelling images that do not allow the words to recede from memory. Myers represents the story through the eyes of the starving child though the execution does not always work. I would strongly recommend this book as a family read or a book for classroom discussion reminding all of the deeper meaning of the Christmas season.

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QUEST FOR REVENGE

Quest For The Lost Treasure

Written by Gerry Gaston

Illustrated by: Laura Livi

Questforlosttreasure

The story line of this book is a simple one. At the outset the reader is given a challenge. A gang of pirates has invaded and sacked your village depleting it of all valuables. You alone have the courage and determination to sail across the seas, track them down and relieve them of those treasures! At last your rowboat arrives and you have the pirate ship in sight. Let the adventure begin!

This book is an interactive, choose your path e book. On each of the approximately fifty pages, the reader is given two choices. Unfortunately, the child is often redirected back to a page that has already been read. Eventually, the explorer is lead to the pirate treasure regardless of the choices he makes along the way. The authors suggest that the book is appropriate for ages three to eight. The vivid, bold and animated illustrations by Livi are stunning, but the text is somewhat rambling and difficult for a young child to follow. Here is one example, “As the ship rocks slowly and the waves gently lap against its hull, your mind tells you not to trust your instincts, because the calmness could be deceiving.” In addition, the complexity of vocabulary would inhibit a younger child from independent reading. Words like plundered, anxiety, dangling and abandoned are not easily explained by the illustrations alone.

I read this book on a Kindle Fire HD. The pictures were brilliant and the interactive tabs worked fine. Some reviewers complained of having difficulty reading the text because it was printed in white and the print too small. Reviews on the book on amazon run the gamut from five to one stars, I would place it right in the middle. I feel there is a place for interactive readers with rich illustration and simple plot lines, especially for reluctant readers. Certainly, a pirate adventure story that allows the child to choose his own solution is something such a reader would enjoy. But don’t expect a child younger than eight to succeed in reading this book on his own. The long sentences and more difficult word meanings will necessitate that a parent or teacher will need to provide assistance.

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BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Mason and Bess: The Adventure Continues Book 2

Written by Diane Major

MasonandBess2, pic

This short fantasy story that is appropriate for tweens, teens and adults involves a boy named Mason who lives with his best friend, Bess, and his mother, Queen Anna, in a land called Sanctea. They once lived in a small town on the planet earth;  but Anna, who has the ability to pass from one dimension to another, decided to leave the earth.

The Queen awakens from a dream in which she sees their former neighbor’s daughter named Katie sucked into a vortex. Hoping that the child has been transported to her own homeland, the Queen sends her special messengers, the Elgae, to search for her. Unfortunately, she is not found. Anna suspects Katie is the victim of foul play. Anna cannot leave her world without weakening her powers so she sends her son and Bess to find Katie and return her safely to earth. Mason will take the magic wand his father left them. Bess is given a special black medallion that will transport them between worlds.

Anna casts a spell to transport the children back to their old home on earth, but Bess finds, to her chagrin, that she is no longer a young girl but a black and white cocker spaniel! The two children locate the pool where Katie went swimming, and when they sneak in at night find themselves sucked into that very same vortex. They arrive in a magical land called Nomreg where there are feathered green trees, lollipop flowers, floating TV screens in the sky, and beautiful rainbows. Appearances are deceiving; the children find themselves in a war between the Fairies and the Bugzies. They will each face many dangers and adventures in their quest to find Katie. Will the power of the magic wand be enough to ward off their enemies? Are they successful in locating and returning Katie to earth and ultimately traveling back to their own world of Sanctea?

There are lots of twists and turns in the plot and some surprises along the way. Even though the story is short, the main characters are believable and well developed. I am looking forward to meeting them again in further adventures.

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PRINCESS MADELINE TRILOGY BOOK BLAST

About the Books

The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin PulioffTitle: The Escape of Princess Madeline (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #1) Author: Kirstin Pulioff Publication Date: November 4, 2012 Publisher: Caliburn Books Number of pages: 138 Recommended age: 10+

Summary: The Kingdom of Soron is known for many things, its rolling landscape, haunting history, fiery sunsets, and its beautiful princess. Princess Madeline woke on her sixteenth birthday to realize that her future had been planned out, a life full of privilege, royalty, and boredom… a life with a husband and knight champion that she did not choose. Using her charm, strength and stubbornness, she defies the King at every turn, determined to keep her freedom on her terms.

Freedom quickly turns to disaster as she finds herself seized by a group of wandering bandits. With the kingdom in turmoil over her capture; her Knight Champion eager to prove himself, a group of dedicated suitors determined to win her hand, and a group of exiled wizards join forces in the hunt to rescue her. Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure full of twists and turns as she tries to find her freedom and answers to her questions about life and love.

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The Battle for Princess Madeline by Kirstin PulioffTitle: The Battle for Princess Madeline (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #2) Author: Kirstin Pulioff Publication Date: May 21, 2013 Publisher: Caliburn Books Number of pages: 159 Recommended age: 10+

Summary: The Kingdom of Soron bustled with activity as preparations for the Fall Festival began. Lively merchants, hardworking farmers, and musicians eagerly awaited this event of harvest and joy. This year’s festival was even more important, as they celebrated Princess Madeline’s betrothal to her knight champion, Daniel. Celebration quickly turns to disaster as Prince Paulsen returns with curious demands, either Princess Madeline will be his, or no ones. Rejection turns to obsession and battle is declared.

In a tense struggle to decide her future, Princess Madeline must choose where to put her trust… in the king’s tried and true plan, the wizard’s cryptic messages and maps, or her own sense of bravery. Follow Princess Madeline on this adventure as she battles evil in an attempt to create a future of love and magic.

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Princess Madeline and the Dragon by Kirstin PulioffTitle: Princess Madeline and the Dragon (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #3) Author: Kirstin Pulioff Publication Date: November 26, 2013 Publisher: Caliburn Books Number of pages: 135 Recommended age: 10+

Summary: After a season of battle and rebuilding, the Kingdom of Soron is exhausted. With the return of the exiled wizards, the Spring Faire, and her upcoming wedding, Princess Madeline is looking forward to a peaceful season of celebration. When the mysterious green dragon reappears, threatening the kingdom and the king, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden won’t rest for long. Faced with this incredible new danger, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden must find a way to lead their kingdom and secure their future. Can they find the answers hidden within their mother’s cryptic messages from the past, or will the dragon destroy everything they hold dear? Follow Princess Madeline as she embarks on a dangerous new adventure to save her kingdom and her family.

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The Buzz

Book 1: “Well-written, fast-paced, and entirely appropriate for its target audience (middle grade fantasy), this short but succinct novel (novella? It was maybe a little between a novella and a novel) tells a delightful tale of a naive princess who learns the real meaning of freedom. Kirsten gives her characters a sufficient amount of depth to make them genuinely likeable, and she leaves room for much, much more to come.” ~ 5 Star Review, Ally, Amazon

Book 1: “An inspiring thought provoking, and wonderfully written fairy tale by an author who transports us to a time in our imagination where everything is magical and possibilities are real.” ~ 5 Star Review, kathyls, Amazon

Book 2: “Fairy tales are filled with knights and princesses and castles and a special magical feel that takes the reader far, far, away into another world, another place, another time. The Battle for Princess Madeline fits the bill to a tee! Author Kirstin Pulioff has created a special feel to the tale of Princess Madeline with her own special talent for using words to paint pictures in our minds.” ~ 5 Star Review, Dii, Amazon

Book 2: “The story is well developed and easy to follow. The vivid scenes will transport young readers into the magical world of fairy tales with thrilling characters that have come to life. Another splendid read for young readers! I can hardly wait for a new book, Princess Madeline and the Dragon. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Mrs. D., Amazon

Book 3: “The story is engaging on many levels, as is Pulioff’s writing, but on this occasion I was mostly drawn into the action and the mystery as how to prevent the worst from happening. This is great entertainment and should do well across a wider age range.” ~ 5 Star Review,ChristophFischerBooks, Amazon

Book 3: “Kirstin Pulioff has saved the best for last. ‘Princess Madeline and the Dragon’ is the final instalment in the ‘Princess Madeline Trilogy’. I thought the first two books were finely wrought stories, but this novel surpasses its predecessors. Prophesies, family tragedies, magic and – of course – dragons, combine to produce a tale that is an instant classic. Written with a great deal of charm, ‘Princess Madeline and the Dragon’ will not disappoint Ms Pulioff’s young fans. I look forward to seeing where next her imagination will take this natural storyteller. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Diogenes, Amazon

About the Author: Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in Oregon, and enjoys being a stay at home mom. When she’s not writing, she is busy with her kids and church.

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* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: December 18, 2013 to January 16, 2014, 11:59 pm, 2013

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kirstin Pulioff and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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A COLOURFUL CHANGELING

The Colourblind Chameleon

Written by Laura Kantor and Sarah May

Colourblind Chameleon, Picture0003

This book exposes the plight of a colourblind chameleon who lives in the Amazon forest. As he journeys through forests, valleys, and waterways, this poor creature is unable to camouflage himself in the environment like his fellow chameleons. While his friends simply change to green when hiding in the forest or blue when it rains, he explodes into colors like purple or even worse, might accidentally transform into polka dots and stripes. Not only is he different, but he cannot control himself because he is unable to realize what color is being projected. What a dilemma for a creature whose strength is to be able to blend in; all this chameleon is able to do is stand out!

Will this little chameleon be condemned to be an outcast? Not a chance. One day he comes across a suitcase whose contents have been strewn all over the landscape. He does indeed find clothes and accessories that he can use to transform himself. When some of his chameleon friends drop by to visit, they get an unexpected surprise as well.

The illustrations in this short book are very colourful just like our friend, the colourblind chameleon. They are drawn in a non-traditional format as the book does not follow the same pattern page by page. In fact, many of the pages look very similar to a comic book or children’s graphic novel. This should not pose a problem for children who are independent readers, but might be difficult for a younger child to follow. Still the text is not difficult and most children age six and up will be able to master it. Children will grasp the lesson that being different or having a disability might appear to be a difficult challenge, but that persistence and good will toward others will enable one to succeed. Take a peek at our colourblind chameleon friend’s short story. You and your child will not be disappointed.

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About the Book

The Colourful Chameleon by Laura Kantor and Sarah Ray

Title: The Colourblind Chameleon

Author: Laura Kantor

Illustrator: Sarah Ray

Publication Date: November 19, 2013

Publisher: Independent – Squidgy Face Books

Number of pages: 32

Recommended age: 2 to 7

Summary

Once there was a very special chameleon…

The Colourblind Chameleon is the debut title from up and coming author/illustrator duo Laura Kantor and Sarah Ray.

This is a colourful and imaginative tale of a chameleon who doesn’t fit in with the rest. He realises that it’s not just good to be different… it’s a lot more fun!

Delight in the rhyming verses, vibrant colours and hilarious drawings as you are taken on a wonderful journey with a special little chameleon (wearing fabulous pants).

The Early Buzz

“This is a lovely book for children ….. Fun and bright, educational and with an underlying message……. It great that it teaches children about a chameleon changing colour and it also teaches children that it’s OK to be different ! I love it ! The illustrations are fabulous too…… Funny and colourful.” ~ 5 Star Review, diamondlil, Amazon

“An excellent debut. Engaging story with captivating illustrations. Good to see a childrens story with a real positive message.” ~ 5 Star Review, Lucy, Goodreads

Purchase

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About the Author: Laura Kantor

Laura Kantor Author

Laura Kantor

Laura Kantor up in Coventry, England, but has spent the last few years living overseas in Canada, Australia and now Singapore. In her free time she loves to travel, bake and write (of course). With a job in marketing, project management and a love for writing lists, Laura decided to self publish her own stories, and set up Squidgy Face Books in 2013 (www.squidgyfacebooks.com), teaming up with Sarah Ray who was the perfect illustrator to bring her stories to life. A year of very late nights and extremely long weekends later and their first release, The Colourblind Chameleon is ready to bring some colour and fun to squidgy faces around the world.

About the Illustrator: Sarah Ray

Sarah Ray

Sarah Ray

Sarah Ray, the illustrator of The Colourblind Chameleon grew up in the Herefordshire countryside where she gathered lots of inspiration for her drawings. Animals feature frequently in her work and she enjoys giving them human attributes.

This is Sarah’s first children’s book, after working with a variety of clients on commissioned illustration. She also has her own range of award winning greeting’s cards which she sells across the UK, http:// www.sarahray.co.uk

Squidgy Face Books

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* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: December 12, 2013 to January 10, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Laura Kantor and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. The author contacted us to participate in our Book Promotion Program where we will tweet and share information about this book, the author, and the giveaway.*

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TALE OF TWO TREES

TALE OF TWO TREES

Written by Barbara Ann Mojica

Heather was sitting with her mom and grandmother on the couch when her younger brother, Alex and her dad walked into the living room with the artificial Christmas tree. A gasp of horror escaped from their lips simultaneously. Dad proudly announced, “Isn’t it beautiful, and we don’t have to worry about finding pine needles in the rug next July.” Mom and Heather managed to slowly stand. But we were planning to go to buy our tree tomorrow! Dad just smiled, “Alex and I thought we would surprise you. We bought some beautiful new ornmanets too.” Heather peeked into the bag. She found some glass ornaments shaped like pine cones in bright colors that were covered with sparkles. “These are hideous! You can’t be serious about putting this up in our living room.”

Heather and her mom walked into the kitchen. They decided that they needed to act quickly so they talked with grandma and hatched their plot. Early the next morning all three jumped into the car and headed to the local Home Depot. In less than thirty minutes they had found the perfect tree, an eight foot tall Douglas fir, replete with thick, sweet-smelling branches. They hauled the tree atop the SUV and brought it home. Alex and dad had already installed their tree in the living room. That did not deter the ladies from installing their freshly-cut tree in the dining room alcove. By the end of the day both trees stood proudly, one smelled of pine but the other did not!

When people came to visit that year, they were treated to two beautiful family trees. Most of them were at a loss for words; they refused to take sides in the debate over which was prettier, but the next year the new artificial tree quietly disappeared!

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