Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Morgan James Kids books: great lessons for children through imagination

A great new set of children’s books by author Nancy Guettier. These books introduce lessons for children in a fun and imaginative way.

First, Mermaids on Mars is the story of mermaids who wasted water on their home planet of Mars. They used the water from everything until the planet ran dry. Desperately needing water, the mermaids come to Earth where they conserve water as the precious resource that it is. The end of the book gives the five rules of water conservation which includes not running the water while brushing your teeth and taking shorter showers.

Second, Circus in the Sky is t a wonderful lesson of the constellations in our night sky. The story is told through the imagination of a young boy named Julian as he dreams in he is the ringleader of a circus in the sky. As the tent floats among the stars the various famous constellations are introduced. Constellations like Orion the Mighty Hunter, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor and the seven sisters.

Third, I Wish is the story of two young girls who find a magical wand and as wishes are made, they realize what is more important Arianna makes wishes that she would be a bird or a fish or even a cat. With each wish, Genevieve points out that if all these wishes come true, she would miss out on spending time with her friend. It is a great lesson about being yourself and the joys of spending time with your best friend.

Fourth, Jude’s Moon is the story of Jude and imagination that the moon is his very own balloon. He receives a lesson in the moon’s phases as he discovers that the moon looks like a banana and not a round ball. The story then explains why the moon like it does from the first quarter moon through the cycle of phases. Jude loves the moon and its light: his very own flashlight.

Lastly, ROY G BIV is made at me because I love pink! is a story about Genevieve who loves pink and one day after it rains, she meets a rainbow who introduces her to the colors of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet are remembered by the acronym of ROY G BIV. It is a story about the primary and secondary colors which make up all the colors of our life.  

Each book is beautifully illustrated by various artists and written in a manner that children will enjoy and understand the important lesson of the book. I loved how the books are told from the imagination of a child and teaches lesson about our life, planet and universe. I highly recommend these titles for any family and classroom libraries.

These titles are available on Amazon
in paperback for $9.95
n hardback for $19.95 and on the Kindle for $9.45

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Gemma Doyle trilogy: magic and mystery

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray is fantasy series about a young girl at an English boarding school when she discovers a magical realm. She learns that she has a magical gifts and she must learn how to use them. She, along with her friends, must defeat the evil which is unleashed and return the balance between the world and the realm.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is the first book, 1895, Gemma Doyle is sent to a boarding school in England after the death of her mother in India. Once there, she begins to have clairvoyant visions as she discovers the magical secrets of the Spence Academy for Young Ladies. She soon becomes friends with Felicity Worthington, the most popular and influential girl at the school. Along wither her roommate, Ann Bradshaw and Felicity’s best friend, Pippa Cross, Gemma discovers an ancient group of women called The Order. The girls decide to start an Order of their own and discovers a magical cave which bestows magic gifts of immense power. Soon the power turns evil. Will Gemma and her friends survive?

Rebel Angels is the second book which begins two months after the events of A Great and Terrible Beauty. The magic in the caves has been released and the evil sorceress, Circe, and her allies are free to roam the realm and possibly the human world. Gemma and her friends must find the “Temple” in order to bind the magic and Circe again. New friends, teachers and mysterious men are pressuring Gemma to use her magic according to their plans. Unsure who to trust, Gemma must rely on her own instincts to battle Circe and restore the magic. Will her chosen allies help or hurt her? Will she be able to fight the growing threat from Circe?

The Sweet Far Thing is the last book in which one year has passed since Gemma arrive at the Spence Academy. She is struggling with the magic from realms and the effects on the school. When the East Wing of the school is being rebuilt after a fire from many years ago, a mysterious stone is unearthed and Gemma beings to have visions of a young girl in a lavender dress with a magical dagger. Time is running out, can Gemma find the clue to realm the wall between the realm and her world? What is this mysterious stone? Who is the girl in Gemma’s vision and can her dagger help end the Circe? Will Gemma and her friends survive?

I enjoyed this series very much. I’ve read it a couple times over the last few years and it get better and better. I enjoyed the references to classic Greek tragedies. The descriptions of the school and the grounds gives the reader the sensation of being there. The interactions between the characters, especially teenage girls, was realistic. There are many surprises in the book from the first opening page to the closing lines. This makes writing a review difficult but makes for a very good read. I highly recommend the Gemma Doyle trilogy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

There are limits to sharing and we need to teach our children those limits

Over the last few months, I read articles about why some parents aren’t teaching their child to share. At first, I thought what a stupid idea but the more I read, the more I can see their reasoning. I understand that there are limits to sharing and we need to teach our children those limits both as the giver and the receiver. If the toy is a “community toy” as in a day care setting, sharing it would be automatic because it doesn’t belong to the child to decide who plays with it and who doesn’t. What is the toy is the child’s personal property? Do you teach automatic sharing? During my research, I’ve come up with three limits to sharing: kindness not obligation, teaching boundaries, and curbing the entitlement culture.

First, sharing should be out of kindness not obligation. If my daughter wants to share her toys it will be out of the goodness of her heart rather than because I told her so. If we force children to share toys they aren’t done playing with or doesn’t want to share, we are teaching them obligation. “I need to share the toy because Mommy said so” and not because she wants to. When we allow a child to share out of kindness, the child learns generosity and seeing the joy of someone else enjoying the toy as well. One day, one of the neighborhood boys came to me and told me that Abby wasn't sharing whatever toy it was at the time. I know he was thinking she would get in trouble and he would have the toy next. When I told him that the toy belong to Abby and she decided who played with it and when. I've also done the opposite and told Abby that a toy which belongs to another child needs to be returned when he or she wants it back. 

Second, a child is not obligated to share just because another child says “please.” The child is being polite; however, no is a perfectly legitimate response. I think it does a child a great disservice to teach that he or she can have something simply because he or she wants it and said please. We need to teach children that because you want something doesn’t mean you’ll get it and help them cope with disappointment because it will happen. Life isn’t fair. Someone will get something you want before you can get it. As adults, we don’t automatically share our property because someone asks. If an adult says, “No, you can’t borrow (fill in the blank),” nothing is thought as the adult is being unfair but when a child says no, he or she is being mean. Why is it okay to say no as an adult but not as a child?

Third, we’ve become an entitlement culture. Life, the universe or God does not owe you anything. Parents, society or others do not owe you anything. A child needs to learn there are consequences for his or her actions. The “I want it now and I don’t want to work for it” attitude needs to stop. Now that my daughter is playing more with the neighborhood kids, I see the entitlement attitudes more and more especially “I want it because everyone else has it.” One day, my mom brought home a cupcake mix to make with my daughter. After they were done, of course, my daughter wanted one. I gave her one and soon I was bombarded with kids asking for cupcakes. When I told them no, for reasons of safety, not knowing food restrictions and parents’ allowances, they said “But she got one.” Why do they think because I gave my daughter something, it means that I will or have to give them one? I also didn’t want to set a precedence that they would expect to eat at my house when I know Abby doesn’t get the same consideration at theirs.

I know we are in the holiday season and the season of giving; however, I feel that sharing and giving should be out of the kindness of our hearts instead of an obligation. If it becomes an obligation, the true spirit of giving is lost. We need to teach our children that saying “please” is being polite but it isn’t the magical word to automatically get it. We need to live in a culture in which yes means yes and no means no without comments of being unfair or being mean. Establishing boundaries of giving when we want to protects is from being taken advantage of. If I were to ask a favor, I hope for a yes but I also expect a no. I will be disappointed with a no response but I understand that it is the other person’s right to deny my request. Why aren’t we teaching our children this principle? 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ophelia: new perspective on the tragedy of Hamlet

Ophelia by Lisa Klein tells the story of Hamlet and the events of the Danish court from the perspective of Ophelia. Anyone familiar with Shakespeare’s play knows that Ophelia commits suicide in Act IV but what if her death was really was an escape. What if Ophelia survives and tells the tragic tale of Prince Hamlet.

The story opens as a young Ophelia moves to the castle when her father, Polonius, is employed by King Hamlet. She soon becomes a part of Queen Gertrude’s court as a lady-in-waiting. There she becomes a favorite of the queen as she reads love stories to the queen. At the age of 15, she has grown into a beautiful woman and has caught the eye of the handsome Prince Hamlet. They soon fall in love and secretly meet with his friend, Horatio, as their lookout. Hamlet soon leaves for school when tragedy strikes, the king is dead. The events that occurs in the play unfold. Ophelia begins to fear for her life. So with the help of Horatio, Ophelia is able to fake her death and escape to an abbey in France. She soon discovers that she holds the key to the future of the Danish court. Will she ever be able to return home? Or will she be forced to live in hiding for the rest of her life?

I found this book many years ago when browsing in a bookstore. Since I love Shakespeare, I was intrigued at the concept that Ophelia survives and we hear the story of Hamlet from her perspective. I loved it then and I love it more now that I've read it again. Since the play tells the story about the death of King Hamlet, this book is a great imagination of the romantic relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet before he goes mad with revenge. The book is categorized at a Young Adult; however, I highly recommend it to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with Shakespeare’s play or not, you will enjoy this story. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre: a comparison and contrast of two classic novels

Among booklovers, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are beloved and revered. It is common knowledge that Charlotte Bronte was not fond of Jane Austen and didn’t understand why her books were so popular or praised. So I decided to read their most famous books, Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Jane Eyre (1847) again and compare them. Both books have many similarities. There were both written by a woman. The interest in both books is between a wealthy landowner and a woman who is socially beneath him with a woman of class vying for his attention. Both books take place in the English countryside. Both main characters refuse to consider a marriage of convenience. Even though about different eras, Austen’s Regency England and Bronte’s Victorian England, both display the restrictions under which women lived. Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre were both more independent than the eras would suggest but that is true for their authors. Jane Austen never married and Charlotte Bronte eventually married a man she, at first, did not love. The contrast in these books which I will discuss are in the main characters, societal class and the mindset of women.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is upper class, beautiful and outspoken. She is socially inappropriate, often speaking with a sharp tongue to those above her. She ends up with her man, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and all is well. The tone of Pride and Prejudice, is light and a witty comedy between men and women. In Jane Eyre, Jane is poor and orphaned. She’s plain and speaks her mind with decorum that is unusual for someone of her status. She’s socially awkward. She ends up with her man, Mr. Edward Rochester, but only after tragedy. The tone of Jane Eyre is dark with Gothic elements. Even contrasts are seen in the love interests of each woman. Mr. Darcy is dashing and portrayal of a wealthy man pride and a sense of obligation and consequence. Whereas Mr. Rochester behaves inappropriately with the governess, Jane, and holds nothing back. He crosses a line when he decides to marry his governess which leads them both heartbroken and lost. Rochester is tormented by a secret he must keep and yet he pursues Jane who seems to be a relief from the monotony of high society.

Both books features class, although in different manners. In Pride and Prejudice, the Bennett family is lower landed gentry who are on the edge of poverty if one of their 5 daughters doesn’t marry well. Mrs. Bennett’s whole goal in the book is to marry off her daughters to men who can handle their affairs as well as lift them up on the social ladder. While in Jane Eyre, Jane is orphaned and sent to a charity school at the age of ten. She is forced to find work as a governess. She later comes into an inheritance from a long lost uncle. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is the only son, raised and groomed as the heir of the family fortunes as well as the family societal responsibilities. While in Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester is the second son, raised as the back-up and is only in his position because of the death of his older brother. Therefore the attitudes between the two men are extremely different. One of duty and the other blasé as to his social requirements.

 Both books display the mind set of women. In Pride and Prejudice, the overall attitude is that all women think about is marriage. The famous opening line says it all: “It is a truth universally acknowledge that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” While two of the Bennett sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, display cool and calm attitudes about marriage and men, the younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia, are young and too forward. Lydia is so desperate to be married that she runs off regardless of what it would do to her family. The middle daughter, Mary, views marriage in disgust. In Jane Eyre, Jane never gives marriage a thought. As an orphan with no family fortune, Jane is forced to work and marriage would be an afterthought and may be a conscious decision not to as it could interfere with her livelihood. When Rochester proposes, she is shocked and questions his sincerity. When she realizes that he sincere, only then does she give in to the idea of marriage and love.

In conclusion, I’ve always enjoyed Jane Eyre more than I have of Pride and Prejudice. While I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy finally put aside their social restrictions and give in to their feelings for each other. However, Jane Eyre has a darker intensity to the atmosphere and the characters that Pride and Prejudice just doesn’t have. There are certain scenes in Jane Eyre, when I feel my heart race with the events. I feel Jane’s fear, her sadness and her attraction to Mr. Rochester. Also, I am also drawn to the wildness of Mr. Rochester. His “rules be damned” attitude and go after the woman he loves. He is tortured and flawed in ways that Mr. Darcy isn’t. To me, Mr. Darcy is the man your parents hope you bring home but it’s Mr. Rochester who captures your attention. Both books are classics and deserve the attention they received since their publications. In my opinion, Jane Eyre is the better and more exciting book. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sam's Top Secret Journal Book 3 Memorial Day: a story of honesty

Sam’s Top Secret Journal Book 3 Memorial Day by Dr. Sean Adelman is the story of 14 year old Sam who has Down Syndrome. She writes in a secret journal about the events surrounding her family, friends and school.

Book 3 begins as Sam recites a poem she wrote honoring Memorial Day. While the majority of the student body applauded her effort, one troubled student tried to ruin her day. She brushes it aside and enjoys her accomplishment. Along with her family, dad, mom, older sister, Jenny and younger brother, John. Sam is going away for the Memorial Day weekend where they meet up with their cousins, Leanne, Madison, Brian and Bruce. Let the adventure begin! Soon, Madison begins to act like a bully and an important medal is missing from a vet’s collection. Sam is sure Madison has it but what can she do about it? Can she tell the adults? Would she be believed? Will the medal be found?

I normally don’t like reading books in the middle of a series because I feel I miss out on the introductory aspects of the characters. I chose it because I was interested in reading a book that features a main character with Down Syndrome. I loved that it didn’t matter if the main character had Down Syndrome, the life lessons are the same that any child should read and learn. The lesson of how hard it can be to do the right thing. The right thing is never easy but it feels better when you do. In the information which accompanied the book, Dr. Adelman wrote about the fears and worries which parents can have when raising a child with Down Syndrome. His goal for writing these books is that “our hope is to help keep those dreams alive for parents, kids and society.” A fictional character who can be model for any child with or without a disability that anyone can be extraordinary. I highly recommend this series for any family or classroom library.

Sam’s Top Secret Journal
Book 1 We Spy
Book 2 Sam’s Secret Island
Book 3 Memorial Day
Are available on Amazon
With Kindle Unlimited for free

And in paperback for $6.99

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Figuring it out with Grace: a story of the search for true love

Figuring it Out with Grace by JD Tynan is the long search for true love. The story features Grace Gibbs, a psychology professor who is searching for her soul mate and goes through a series of men. Until one day she has had enough and searches for the one who got away.

Grace is 35 and single again. The story flashbacks and forth as the reader is introduced to Jared Moore, Grace’s childhood best friend and the one who got away. Grace takes the reader through growing up with her parents’ divorce, her mom’s revolving door romances and sexual awareness of Jared Moore. As she reminisces, she realizes what is wrong in her life and moves forward to change. Will she be able to find Jared? Will he forgive her? Will she ever find happiness with a family of her own?

I enjoyed Figuring it out with Grace. In many ways, I could related with Grace with her family history and trying to overcome the family cycles which has plagued her life. I enjoyed seeing her happy and laughed with her as all her dreams come true. I loved the building tension between Grace and Jared as they both fight against what they need to do and what they want to do. I really enjoyed Jared’s character. I also enjoyed Grace’s discovery that everything looks perfect from the outside but once you get a glimpse inside, you can see that everything is far from perfect. Figuring it out with Grace is a great story about one woman’s journey to find her soul mate.

Figuring it out with Grace
Is available at Amazon
On the Kindle for $2.99

And in paperback for $17.95

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stop Bullying: parents need to start the lesson sooner

Bullying is a very important topic that many parents think they don’t have to deal with until their children enter school. I, unfortunately, thought this way until recently when my three-year-old daughter was confronted with bullying behavior from an older child. Over the last few months, my daughter has been given more independence to play outside with the neighborhood kids. And for the most part, she has hours of fun and plenty of exercise. Until one day, I noticed the language of intimidation and menace in one older girl’s voice. My little girl had a look on her face that she didn’t understand why this girl was treating her like she was. Then I realized that I had to tackle this problem a lot sooner than I thought.

Everyone knows what a bully is. We probably have all experience at least one person who terrorized us on purpose. When most people think of bullying, they think of the physical pushing, shoving and punching one can suffer. More and more, we now realize that bullying is psychological as well. Bullying is someone using power over another, gaining control through fear and usually occurs with an audience. Bullying will often occur over and over until the child and the witnesses are powerless to stand up and fight back. There is three types of bullying. The physical bullying that everyone is familiar with. The verbal bullying which includes threats, taunting, hurtful teasing and hate speech. And social bullying which includes the intentional excluding from a group and spreading rumors. Bullying has become a bigger problem online as people are using the anonymity of the internet to hurt and terrorize others. 

Bullying can begin as early as three years old and 1 in 5 students in the US classrooms will experience bullying. Children often bully because it solves their social problems. The proverbial “easy way out.” Bullying is often in place of social skills that a person fails to learn in their developmental stages. Individuals who do not learn how to work out their problems or get along with others. Bullying can be a natural response to situations in which an individual feels socially awkward, insecure, frightened, bored or embarrassed. Bullies often will target children who cry, get mad or give in easily. They will learn a child’s weakness and press that button until they get the reaction they want.

How can you know if your child is the victim of bullying? Children who are bullied will often:
  • Have damage or loss of items that he or she cannot explain
  • Have physical signs such as scratches or bruises
  • Have a loss or change in friends
  • Have a sudden loss of interest in activities
  • May be unusually sad, moody, anxious, angry or depressed
  • May have physical complaints such as headaches and stomachaches to avoid school or other activities
  • May start doing poorly in school

What can parents do to teach their children about bullying? First, take it very seriously either your child is the bullied or the bully, something is wrong which needs to be addressed. If your child is the bully, there needs to be a set accountability for their actions, consequences will happen if they chose to engage in bullying. Second, parents need to communicate on their level. Look the child in eye, so they can understand that their actions and words can be hurtful. I find that my daughter and her friends will respond better to my warnings or instructions when I bring my eye level to theirs instead of them looking up to mine. Third, remove the child from the situation and find out the triggering incident. Help children understand that bullying is wrong wither its being the bullied, the bully or the witness. Lastly, be a role model for children. Children are great watchers and will respond to what they see rather than they are told. Show them how not to be bully, how to respond to bullies and how to help others who are being bullied and they will follow suit.

How to teach children to respond to bullies:
  • Look bullies in the eye
  • Stand calm and tall
  • Walk away
  • Speak in a firm and confident voice
  • Teach a child when and how to ask for help and not to be afraid to seek the help of an adult
  • Encourage cooperative play and friendships. Children who are loners are more likely to be bullied.

It is unfortunate that once a child learns to be a bully, they will most likely with always be a bully. They will grow up to a teenage bully and even an adult bully. And once a child is bullied, they will be bullied in some form for the rest of their life. Unless, we teach our children how to respond to bullies as well as teach that bullying behaviors are unacceptable. Parents need to help children learn the skills they will need to handle situations they will encounter in their lives. It may sound strange but I know that teaching my daughter how to deal with conflict in the proper manner will help her in school and her adult relationships wither it be her friendships, colleagues and in her marriage. I know bullying will be a lifelong lesson as she interacts with different people in her life. Parents, we are our children first and greatest teacher.

American Academy of Pediatrics
The Bully Project:
How to Stop Bullying Behavior in Preschool Kids:
Empowering Parents:

There are also a great numbers of books available for parents and children on bullying. Here are just a few:
Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness by Lester L. Laminack and Reba M. Wadsworth
Words Wound by Justin Patchin
The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Juice Box Bully by Sornson and Dismandy

Monday, November 16, 2015

To those suffering around the world

To those suffering around the world,

I write this letter with a heavy heart. I know that many of you won’t read this but I feel I must express my feelings on the small chance that you will. I know the focus is on the Paris attacks and call to action for payback. Unfortunately, media’s and many people’s attention span is short and moves on to the next tragedy. I hear the outcries of those who have suffered in the other devastating world events prior to the Paris attacks. I want the people in the world who experienced devastation to know, though it may sound hollow, that I feel great sadness.

From the village of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil where a dam broke on November 6th, leaving the village buried under a wall of mud and one person dead and 22 missing. To the families of the two Americans killed in Jordan on November 9th. To the families of the seven people killed in the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on November 10th. To the citizens of Beirut, Lebanon where more than 200 were killed in two suicide bombings on the 12th. And so many other struggles which may not have gotten the same world media attention. I know there is so much more that goes on in the world than what I don’t hear about from my news sources. So many names, so many lives and so many stories, you all deserve to have your lives honored and remembered.

Each events is horrifying and saddening. One event isn’t greater than the others. The loss of life is always a tragedy. It doesn’t matter if it’s one life or thousands. Each life deserves to be mourned and remembered. In my little corner of the world, I feel sadden by these events and the loss of lives. I can only imagine the fear, the hopelessness, and grief you feel right now. I can try to put myself in your shoes but I feel it won’t even come close, I cannot fully understand what it is like to live in the horrors that you must face every day. As an American, I am spoiled when it comes to my daily life. I can go about my business in my town without fear of being attacked or hurt in any way. My greatest fear is an earthquake or getting in a car accident. I don’t fear being shot or bombed. I should because if it can happen in the world, it can happen here. Just because I am in America doesn’t mean I am safe or immune.

When I hear of tragedies such as the ones from this past week, my heart feels numb because I am overwhelmed with shock and devastation. I feel powerless to help or prevent such adversity. I feel very small in a world of very big problems. I am one citizen in a world of billions. I cannot pick up arms and fight. I cannot be there to help shift through the rubble and help rebuild your lives. I don’t have the funds to offer an organization which is able to go out in the world and help. My inaction may seem like indifference but it’s not. Only by the grace of God is my life in relative safety. I see my problems as petty and insignificant in the world of terrible events. Right now, I can only offer my heartfelt condolences and prayers.

My words may not give you any solace or comfort but know they are from my heart.

With love and prayers from a small corner of the world,


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

National Candy Day: A few of my favorites candies!!!!

Today is National Candy Day. A day that we celebrate everyone’s favorite candies. Candies and sweets have been consumed for thousands of years. Egyptians persevered nuts and fruits in honey. The Aztecs and Mayans ate chocolate during religious rituals as early as 300 AD. Everyone has a favorite candy or candies. Here are three of my favorites.

Since November is also National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, I will first talk about my favorite peanut butter candy: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. The Peanut Butter Cup was created by H.B. Reese in 1928, a former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey. Reese was inspired by Hershey and started his own candy business. The Peanut Butter Cup was first most popular creation. When Reese died in 1956, his sons merged the company with the Hershey Chocolate Company. As of September 2012, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is the best-selling candy in the U.S. with sales in the billions and fourth selling globally. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are now available in minis, miniatures and big cups as well as many different flavors including white chocolate.

Another favorite candy of mine is the Snickers bar. The Snickers bar was created in 1930 by the Mars Company and was named after the Mars family’s favorite horse. The candy bar consists of nougat, peanuts, caramel and covered in chocolate. The candy bar is available with almonds, peanut butter, miniatures, ice cream bars, dark chocolate and even energy bars. Snickers have had successful ad campaigns such as “Not Going Anywhere for A While?” and the now famous and popular campaign “You’re not Yourself when You are Hungry” which was featured as a Super Bowl Ad in 2010 with Betty White and Abe Vigoda playing football.

Lastly, Peanut M&Ms are my favorite. First introduced in 1954, the Peanut M&Ms were only in the tan colored shell. The multicolored shells didn’t appear until the 1960s when the Mars Company added the red, yellow and green. The Peanut M&Ms were also introduced at the same time as the famous M&M tagline “Melt in your mouth, not in your hand.” In March 2016, M&Ms is launching “Vote For Your Favorite Peanut” campaign, which will pitted the classic Peanut M&Ms against three new flavors: Chili Nut, Coffee Nut, and Honey Nut. Between March 1 and June 17, fans were be encouraged to buy and taste all four and then vote on their favorite. According to the company’s press release, the winner will be available in “open stock” by August 2016 and then in “mixed display cases” by September. I didn’t hear about this campaign until I researched the history of the Peanut M&Ms. Coffee Nut sounds promising but I think I’ll stick with the classic Peanut M&Ms. I’ll be on the lookout for the new flavors.

What are your favorite candies? Do you prefer sweet? Do you prefer chocolatey? Or do you like sour? With so many to choose from, it may be hard to pick just one. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bandwagon fans: love 'em or hate 'em

Bandwagon fans. The words leave an unpleasant taste in many a fan’s mouth. Bandwagoning is a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular. A bandwagon fan is someone who follows that trend whether it is a sports team, fashion, music, movies or other entertainment, because it has been or is the popular choice. However, if or when the trend falls or is no longer the popular choice, he or she will gleefully jump to the next trend. There is a psychological theory which explains the bandwagon effect. The Bandwagon effect is when individuals will do something primarily because others are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs which will be ignored or overridden. This theory is applied in advertisements to influence consumer behavior. Bandwagoning is similar to herd or mob mentality. There are three types of bandwagoners which everyone is guilty of at some point in their lives and possibly without realizing it.

First, “The Follower.” the person who simply follows the crowd as what clothes to wear, what sport or team to follow, what music to listen to, what books to read, what television shows to watch and on and on based on what friends or celebrities are doing. When I was in junior high, it was popular to have a favorite Looney Tunes character. Everyone liked Taz or Tweety Bird, I chose Marvin the Martian. I think I chose him because no one else did. Even though I still like Marvin, I chose him on a whim because it was popular to like a character from the cartoon. Same thing happened in high school, when Winnie the Pooh was the popular cartoon to have a favorite character. Again, while everyone chose either Winnie the Pooh or Tigger, I chose Eeyore for the same reasons I chose Marvin.

Second, “The Hot and Cold Fan” is a fan who jumps on and off the trend depending on how well it is doing, specifically a sports team. When the team is winning and on a hot streak, this person will cheer, boast how the team is the best and “We’re #1!” But when the team takes a bad turn and starts losing, this person will take it very personally and start criticizing the team and say “They are the worst.” I see it with fans of certain teams. When the team is hot and winning, the fans are everywhere and in your face about how their team is winning and yours may not be. But when the team is losing or having a bad season, the fans are suddenly quiet. The flags on cars are gone and posts to social media stop. They usually disappear until the team gets on a winning streak again.

Third, “Lifelong Fan,” the bandwagon fan who becomes a lifelong fan. All fans start somewhere. Whether it’s a family tradition to follow a certain sport or team or they are introduced to new music by a friend, someone started somewhere. In many areas, I am a lifelong fan who began as a bandwagon fan. For instance, I haven’t always been a Kansas City Chiefs fan or really a football fan in general. In 2003, I met a friend who introduced me to football and the Chiefs. I, then, chose the team as the one I would follow. I remain a fan to this day even though that friendship has ended. The Chiefs have been a hot and cold team for many years but I remain a fan. I may not know the entire history of the team or know the stats of every player but I cheer them on win or lose.

On its face, bandwagoning should be avoided. However, we are social creatures who are influenced by those around us. Some influences are bad but some influences are good and can open your world to a different experiences. We long to a group with common interests. Some people follow what is popular simply to fit in and some discover they like an activity and become a part of the group.  I think most people dislike bandwagoners because some people come in and try to speak with knowledge and authority that they don’t have. If you are new to a trend, acknowledge that you are and that you are still learning the history of a team or the story of a movie franchise, and so on. The lifelong fans will appreciate the honesty and even help you learn the information you need. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Monsterland: a theme park of monsters. What could possibly go wrong?

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash is a story about a theme park of monsters. Exhibits and rides featuring vampires, werewolves and zombies. What could possibly go wrong?

18-year-old Wyatt Baldwin lives with his mother, Claire, his younger, Josh and his stepfather, Carter White. A new theme park is set to open on the outskirts of town. Monsterland is marketed as a zoo of sorts for the various monsters in order to protect them from. Dr. Vincent Conrad is in charge and is able to entice Wyatt and his friends, Howard and Melvin, to attend the grand opening of the park, despite the reservations of his parents. With heighten security, the boys make their way into the park and get the VIP treatment as they explore Vampire Village and the other areas. Soon things began to go awry and chaos ensues. Can Wyatt and his friends get out of Monsterland alive?

While I am not a fan of vampires, werewolves or zombies, I enjoyed this book. It built the intrigued as you follow Wyatt on his visit to the park. He knows, you know, something is off and nothing seems right. The story has a slow build to the action but once it gets there, it’s a fast paced, heart beating fight of survival. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about these monsters. A story to enjoy on Halloween or any night you need a scary adventure with vampires, werewolves and zombies, oh my!

Monsterland is available
On Amazon
on the Kindle for $0.99
free with Kindle Unlimited
in paperback for $12.99

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two great new children's books about nature and new adventures

Today, I have two new great children’s books to review.

First, The Great Carp Escape by Irish Beth Maddock, illustrated by Lucent Ourano, is a story about taking care of all God’s creatures, even the ugly ones. Beth and Paul live by a lake. They often on the shore and swim. Paul likes to dig for clams while Beth likes to snorkel and lie so still that minnows swim up to her nose. One day, they discover that the carp have been trapped in a pond under a weeping willow. Together with their dad and neighbors, Beth and Paul dig a trench from the pond to the lake and guide the carp down the new creek. My daughter and I enjoyed reading this story as we followed Beth and Paul as they learn that even ugly fish like the carp need help. The illustrations are beautiful and vivid which helps add even more life to a beautiful story. I highly recommend this book for any school, library and family.

Second, A New Life Begins: The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba Book 1 Series 1 is the story of Zealy, a beautiful seal, who is newly born and lives with her mommy and daddy. She soon meets a baby orca whale named Whubba. Whubba watches over his new friend day and night. They become best of friends ready for new adventures together. When this book arrived, my daughter eagerly wanted to read it. It was beautifully illustrated and a wonderful and simple story that children will enjoy.

The Great Carp Escape
is available on Amazon
for Kindle $6.99
in paperback $12.99
And Barnes and Noble for $12.99
Also available for fundraising opportunities
For more information:

A New Life Begins:
The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba Book 1 Series 1
is available on Amazon
for Kindle $3.49, free with Kindle Unlimited
in hardcover for $19.95 and in paperback for $16.95
Also at Barnes and Noble
In hardcover $17.95
paperback $15.95

Nook $7.99

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vacationland: a story of sabotage and revenge

Vacationland by Nat Goodale is a story of a way of life and the changes which can threaten a town and an industry. Located on the coast of Maine, a small town is faced with influx on newcomers who want to change their town. Some see the benefits while others will fight tooth and nail to keep things as they are.

Donny Coombs is a lobsterman like generations of men before him. He lives simply but comfortably. That is until new neighbors build a house next to his property. Delano Nelson and his wife, Eliza are a well-to-do couple who want to make the area for rich vacationers. Donny and his neighbors immediately began to butt heads about state of his property. Donny soon meets the beautiful Shelly Peterson, the daughter of one of the people trying to change the town. They soon have a whirlwind romance as her father doesn’t approve and Shelly doesn’t care. Soon, Donny notices that someone is messing with his lobster traps, his dog gets poisoned and sugar in his gas tank. Who is trying to sabotage his livelihood and hurt him? Is it his new neighbors or it is someone else lurking in the background?

I enjoyed Vacationland and recommended it to all. Donny is a gruff, rough around edges guy who wants to trap his lobsters in peace. He doesn’t want to be bothered and won’t bother others. When the Nelsons try to pretty him up, he fights back and fights back hard. No one messes with Donny. I also enjoyed how the book shows the ugly side of when an area is changed to benefit the luxury of others rather than the livelihoods of the locals. There is one scene when Delano Nelson complains that the congestion at the docks, the town council has the foresight to remind him that the lobster boats have priority on the docks because the lobster they bring in funds the town. This book is filled with romance, mystery and suspense as Donny must discover who is trying to sabotage him.
Vacationland is available
On the Kindle for $4.99

And in paperback for $14.99

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lonesome Cowboy: a story of following your dreams against all odds

Lonesome Cowboy by Frank Lowe is a story about a young man who must reinvent himself in order to chase his dreams.

The story opens with Red, a singing cowboy, getting ready to sing in a town he swore he’d never return to. He only returned because his son, Kyle, urged him too. But Red has seen a very painful life, a life that his son knew very little of. Kyle will soon learn the painful secret his father has been hiding. Once Red, whose real name is David, confronts his past, it opens a world of opportunity for his son. Kyle soon meets Miranda Romero-Durante, a beautiful Mexican woman who works at her family’s restaurant. After a sudden tragedy, the family is forced to return to Mexico, leaving Kyle behind to figure out a way for his future with Miranda. He is faced with a great challenge as he is not Mexican and Miranda’s family will look to her to carry on the family name with a Mexican man. Will Kyle be able to find a way to build a life with Miranda?

I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be about a struggling singer who finally makes it big but it was better than that. I loved a line which David speaks to Kyle, “Never only means not yet,” meaning don’t give up. I also loved the final confrontation with Miranda’s scheming aunt. It was a great “HA! In your face!” moment. I highly recommend Lonesome Cowboy as a story of inspiration and following your dreams.
Lonesome Cowboy
is available on


Friday, October 9, 2015

Black inked pearl: A girl's quest

When I received the email invite to read Black-inked pearl: A girl’s quest by Ruth Finnegan, I was intrigued by the description: “An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking.” A story about a lost love and a lifetime spent searching for it again. The opening chapter was breathtaking and I loved the imagery of the search, turning back to find your love has gone. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it.

I’m sad when a book gets a place on my “Did Not Finish” list. It’s a list that no author wants their book to be on. I read 11 chapters, 75 pages and I was lost. Hopelessly lost. According to the book’s Goodreads page, the story is the interlacing of between this world and another. The story did flow like a dream with ambiguity and odd occurrences that often happen in dreams. The publisher, Garn Press, regard the book as a “rare work of genius, a novel that is unparalleled in modern times on dream, dementia, and truth.”  The classic themes of passion, troubles, torment and grief in the novel are reminiscent of Homer, Soranzo’s Adamo and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s sonnets and James Joyce. Maybe this is why I was unable to finish because despite reading Shakespeare’s sonnets in high school and I have never read these classic works.

I’m sorry, Ms. Finnegan, you captured me with the opening chapter. I loved the line “But his figure lost in the mist, her footmarks, the way, lost in the water.” It sent chills through me. Sadly, I couldn’t follow the story. I wanted to so bad because the language was so beautiful. I couldn’t. If you are a fan of or even familiar with the classic works mentioned above, you may enjoy this. I might look in to these classic works myself and give this book another go. For now, it has to be shelved. A sad day for a bookworm.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Miss Fortune: a memoir of one's journey to better her life

Miss Fortune by Albina Hume is a memoir of one woman’s journey from poverty in the Ukraine to animal activism in Africa. It is a life which many of us can hardly imagine but a classic story of picking yourself up from the dust and creating a great life in any way possible.

The story opens with a prologue, Albina is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her wedding invitations which features a butterfly as a representation of the beginning of new life. She lives on a ranch in Africa with her fiance, John, who works to save the white rhinos from extinction. The short, then, flashes back to childhood and life in the Ukraine. She struggled with the pronunciation of the letter “R” and was horribly teased because of it. She would spend her life trying to avoid all words with Rs, which would be proved hard in a language with strong R pronunciations like Russian. She would be educated in boarding schools and when she has her diploma in hand, she would try to find a job. Only the doors to steady work would be closed to her as employers discovered she was a villager. She soon gets into deep debt, trying to make a living and turns to exotic dancing in order to pay those off. She would soon find herself in Greece, where she would fall in and out of love as she is used and betrayed by men who lied. She would eventually turn to a marriage agency which leads her to John and his ranch in Africa.

I received a PDF copy of this book which was hard to read at first, mainly because I have never read a book in this format before. But once I figured it out, the book was a fast read because it kept me intrigued. Her story seems only like it was written for a movie. Her story was all the more heart wrenching because she lived it. As I read her descriptions of her journey, her disappointments, her struggles, I found myself horrified that this was her journey but I rejoiced with her as she found love and a new purpose in her life. I recommend Miss Fortune as a life story which will inspire and encourage other to take their life circumstances and change them for the better.