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Book Review: Unlikely Heroes by New York Times bestseller Jennifer Holland

 

Unlikely Heroes

I am a huge animal lover. I love all kids of animals. I would own a zoo and a farm if at all possible. For now I’m happy with our “mini-zoo” which consists of five cats, a dog and two fish. We also feed a wild bunny that lives in our condo complex.

I have always had animals in my life – both big and small. I grew up with several dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, fish and even a horse. I can never imagine a life without pets. They mean the world to me.

Most pet owners will agree that our pets provide us with unconditional love. They don’t expect much in return except for a warm place to sleep, fresh food, clean water and your love.

Pets prove themselves time and time again. There are so many stories about pets who rescue their owners from dangers and uncertain death. Even animals that are not pets have turned into heroes.

A new book by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Holland highlights 37 incredible stories about how animals became heroes.

Jennifer Holland has shown us animal friendships and love with her New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships and Unlikely Loves. Packed with beautiful full-color photos Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom (Workman Press, October 2014) uncovers and celebrates a side of animals that we often think belongs primarily to people—heroism—and shares heartwarming stories that can only be described as remarkable.

A pod of dolphins who protected swimmers in New Zealand from a great white shark. A cat who provided comfort to soldiers in Afghanistan. A llama who shines his very special light of love on the elderly patients in an Oregon rehab center. A paralyzed bunny who brings joy to paralyzed children. An abandoned puppy who lost all four paws to frostbite—that’s him, smiling on the cover of the book—who learned to walk on prosthetics and inspires others with disabilities.

I have another book from Jennifer Holland (Unlikely Friendships). You can read my review here – Unlikely Friendships book review.

When I was offered this book to review I knew I wanted to read it. I does break my heart to hear about animals such as Alyna the paralyzed bunny and Naki’o (pictured on the cover of the book) the abandoned puppy who lost all for paws – but at least their stories have happy endings. Sadly many other animals in the same situation don’t.

These incredible TRUE stories show how ordinary animals go above and beyond without any thought to risk to themselves to save others or to make a difference in someone’s life.

You hear stories every day about dogs and cats who are heroes, but what about a sea lion, otter, camel, horse and a cow? There are animals featured in this book that you would never expect to have the metal capacity to protect others – especially humans. These stories only prove just how intelligent animals really are.

The book has over 200+ pages. You could easily read it in one day if you’d like. I personally enjoy that it’s broken up into individual stories so you can read a few at a time or what ever “free time” allows you to read. I often don’t have time to read so it worked well for someone like me. I actually took the book to work with me and read a story or two whenever we had “down time”.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy this book. It’s a great read even if it was human’s in place of the animal heroes.

I found this book to be inspiring. I am in awe of these amazing animals. They did things even humans wouldn’t do. Often they were heroes for complete strangers too without a thought for their own safety.

Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom is published by Workman and is available where most books are sold.

This book would make a great gift for an animal lover. Even children could appreciate the stories in this book. Plus there are plenty of pictures to go along with the stories too.

My teenage daughter is currently reading this book. :-)

Jennifer Holland PHOTO SOURCE: Workman

Jennifer Holland
PHOTO SOURCE: Workman

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Gone Girl Movie Soundtrack & Book Giveaway (ends 10/24/14)

 

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Have you seen the film Gone Girl yet? I hear from others who have seen it that it’s an awesome film. Personally I have not seen it yet but I might go and see it this weekend. It’s our wedding anniversary and we were thinking about dinner and a movie.

If you are not familiar with the movie it’s based on the novel by Gillian Flynn and stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

I heard the book was really good too.

Neil Patrick Harris and  Tyler Perry also star in the film.

Here is the trailer for your enjoyment.

 

If you would like to learn more about the film you can visit the Official Website as well as follow the film on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

I’m hosting a giveaway for a $25 Visa gift card and a Gone Girl movie tie-in book that ends on 10/18/14 if you are interested. You can find it here – Gone Girl Giveaway.

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In addition I have another Gone Girl giveaway for my readers. This one is for the movie soundtrack and a copy of the Gone Girl movie tie-in book.

Enter to win the “hypnotic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross” that perfectly sets the chilling tone in Gone Girl.

The soundtrack comes from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Reznor and Ross have worked with director David Fincher on two previous films, The Social Network, for which they won an Oscar for Best Original Score, and the critically acclaimed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Find more details on iTunes and Amazon.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on October 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you would like to win this giveaway?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberly

*I will received a gift card for my participation. There is no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Gone Girl – In theaters now (giveaway ends 10/18/14)

 

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Have you seen the movie Gone Girl yet? It opened in theaters this past Friday. I know a lot of people who have been anxiously waiting to see the movie. Apparently they all read the book and loved and and were super excited to see it play out on the big screen. I never read the book. In fact I haven’t heard of the story until now. From what I hear it’s an outstanding book. It was written by Gillian Flynn who also wrote the screen play for the film.

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

I had to look up the book to learn more about the story. I won’t give any details, but I will say that the story does sound good.

Check out the trailer.

 

It looks good. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Gone Girl stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry. It’s rated R. I believe Gone Girl is the first film produced by Reese Witherspoon.

If you would like to learn more about the film you can visit the Official Website as well as follow the film on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

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I have a special Gone Girl prize package to give to a lucky reader. The prize package includes;

  • $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters
  • Copy of Gone Girl (movie tie-in cover, paperback)

The prize package is Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on October 18, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you would like to win this giveaway?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberly

*I will be receiving the same prize package in exchange for my participation. There was no other compensation. Twentieth Century Fox will be providing the prize package. 

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Madame Picasso and the Golden Experience Giveaway (ends 10/11/14)

 

MadamePicassoMiniPoster

I am a die hard book lover. I love to read books. I used to read books all the time. Sadly my time is a bit more limited then it used to be so squeezing in quality time to indulge in a good book is not as easy as it used to be. None the less I make an effort to read as often as I can – whenever I can.

I tend to read a lot of books about true crime. I also enjoy books about animals, ghosts, science fiction and the occasional non-fiction.

Recently I received an interesting book to review. It’s called Madame Picasso.

In the bestselling tradition of The Paris Wife, Z, and The Aviator’s Wife, Madame Picasso illuminates the untold story of the powerful woman behind one of the most famous men in history. A veteran writer and historian, Anne Girard takes readers from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of history’s most influential artist. Part love story, part history, Madame Picasso is perfect for book clubs and reading groups.

The book was written by Anne Girard. In addition to being a writer Anne is a historian who holds a degree in both English literature and clinical psychology.

Here is a brief synopsis about the book.

Novelist Anne Girard brings to life the mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

I have to admit that this is not the genre of book that I would normally read. I’m not into romance novels nor am I into historical novels. Personally I think they would be boring to read. Surprisingly that is not the case with this book. I have been reading this book off and on for the past few weeks and like it, much to my surprise. I thought I wouldn’t be able to get into this story but it did sweep me up.

I don’t know too much about Picasso, the artist. I have seen his work but other then that I didn’t know much about him. I liked this little insight to the man, not just artist.

I actually visited the Moulin Rouge when I was in Paris back in the mid-80’s. It’s a beautiful building. Reading about it in the book was a great trip down “memory lane”. I was just a teenager when I visited the Moulin Rouge. After reading a bit about it in the book it only adds to my personal experience with the infamous Paris attraction.

If you would like to read an excerpt from the book you can read it here.

If you would like to learn more about Anne Girard you can visit her official website and check her out on Facebook. The official hashtag is #MadamePicasso.

mp pack 1v2

Harlequin would love to help one lucky reader see the Golden Age come to life by giving away a “Golden Experience” Prize Package. The lucky winner will receive a copy of Madame Picasso PLUS a film collection including Moulin Rouge, Midnight in Paris, and The Great Gatsby.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on October 11, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you’d like to win this prize package.

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional. 

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Kimberly

*I received a free copy of the book to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. Prizing & samples courtesy of Harlequin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ella the Elephant Season One Volume One now available on DVD

 

Ella the Elephant DVD

I enjoy watching children’s shows sometimes. That doesn’t make me weird (does it?). I just find them so sweet and charming. Even though I’m an adult I still get a kick out of watching shows on Disney Jr., Nick Jr., and PBS. It makes me miss those years when my kids were little. Sigh… they grow up so quickly.

There is a series I have seen from time to time called Ella the Elephant. It’s a show on Disney Junior.

Ella the Elephant first air on Canadian television. It premiered on Disney Junior in February of this year.

The show is based on book written by Carmela D’Amico and Steven D’Amico.

Journey to an island of adventures where the magic of friendship has never been so much fun! Join Ella the Elephant and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series featuring 8 charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many curiosities, but when Ella and her friends’ appetite for fun lands them in some tricky, often hilarious situations, it’s up to Ella’s imagination and her magic red hat to save the day! It’s a collection of teamwork, lessons and adventure for the whole family to enjoy.

This is truly a very sweet series. It’s hard not to fall in love with Ella and her friends. They are cute and entertaining.

Sometimes kiddie shows can be a bit too much for adults, but I didn’t find that to be the case with this show.

Ella the Elephant is a computer generated animated show. The interesting thing is that the background looks more like illustrations from a book. It’s really a unique looking animation. I like the illustrated look. I think it adds to the shows charm.

If your child or grandchild is a fan of the show you’ll be delighted to know that Ella the Elephant Season One Volume One: The Magic of Friendship is now available on DVD. The DVD features eight Ella the Elephant episodes.

  • Ella’s Got Talent/Safety First
  • Trunk Trooper/Ella in Charge
  • Girl’s Club/Soapbox Squabble
  • Treasure Hunters/Ella Borrows Trouble
  • Ella Bakes a Cake/Camp Ella
  • Ella on the Ball/Up, Up and Away
  • Tea Party Trouble/Home Again
  • Ella’s Carnival/Monkey Business

If you’d like to check out Ella’s YouTube channel where you can catch snippets of the show’s episodes you can find it here – Ella the Elephant on YouTube.

Look for the DVD where DVDs are sold. It has a suggested price of $14.98.

You an also check out the Ella the Elephant page on Disney Junior’s website. There you can find games, coloring pages and more! DisneyJunior.com/Ella-the-Elephant.

Is your family fans of Ella the Elephant? Do you have a favorite characters and/or episode? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Ella the Elephant

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta Series and Telescope Giveaway! (ends 9/12/14)

 

Kids Reading

I work with children in a childcare setting. Most children are only with us for a short time, however we do see a few regulars from time to time.

We like to encourage children to read. That is important to us. That is why we give each child who comes through our doors a free book that they can take home and enjoy.

The books we give our are donated. Many have been “well loved” and show obvious signs of wear and tear. Other books are practically brand new.

Not too long ago I received a set of books from the Ricky Ricotta series. The books are written by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat. I have never heard of the series until now.

I am familiar with Dav Pilkey. He writes one of my kid’s favorite book series Captain Underpants.

I read through the first book in the series, Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot. I loved it! I wish these books were around when my son was younger. He’s a “reluctant reader”. He always has been. I think he would have really enjoyed these books.

I did give him the books I received to review and asked if he would read them but he told me “no”. I guess he felt like they were too “young” for him. That might be true, but I enjoyed reading the book and my husband read most of one of the books to and he enjoyed it at well and clearly we are NOT the “target audience” for these books. :-)

In addition to action packed stories and fun illustrations there are also “mini-comics” throughout the books too.

Ricky Ricotta

If you are not familiar with the Ricky Ricotta series here is a brief synopsis.

Ricky Ricotta is a little mouse with BIG problems! Every day he is picked on by the neighborhood bullies. He lives in Squeakyville with his mother and father, and being an only mouse, he is often lonely. That is until SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS! A giant flying robot enters Ricky’s life and an unlikely friendship is born! Together, Ricky and his Robot must save the planet from a galaxy bursting with bad guys!

These are fun books!

I also know that they appeal to children because I took all four books to work with me and they were GONE in two days. The boys went crazy for them – even the older boys (11+ years old).

As I mentioned earlier, Dav Pilkey wrote Captain Underpants. He’s also written other popular books.

When Dav Pilkey was a kid, he suffered from ADHD, reading challenges, and behavioral problems. Dav was so disruptive in class that his teachers made him sit out in the hallway every day. Dav loved to draw and make up stories, so he spent this time creating his own original comic books. 

In second grade, Dav created a comic book about a superhero named Captain Underpants. His teacher ripped it up and told him he couldn’t spend the rest of his life making silly books. Fortunately, Dav was not a very good listener.

Dav has written and illustrated many bestselling books for children, including the Captain Underpants series with over 70 million books in print, the Ricky Ricotta series, and The Paperboy, a Caldecott Honor Book.

Dav grew up in Ohio and now lives with his wife in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about him at www.Pilkey.com.

The books are illustrated by Dan Santat who has illustrated many other books.

Dan Santat attended the University of California, San Diego, where he received a degree in biology. Thankfully, he had a change of heart and went on to pursue an illustration degree from the Art Center College of Design, where he graduated with honors. 

After a few years of designing art for video games, Dan switched his attention to children’s books. Since then, Dan has written and illustrated several bestselling books for children, including The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and Sidekicks. Dan also created the Disney animated hit The Replacements.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in Southern California with his family. You can find out more by visiting his website at www.Dantat.com.

There are a few books in the Ricky Ricotta series and I suspect there will be many more added to the series over the years. These are really fun books.

Ricky Ricotta Books

BOOK ONE: RICKY RICOTTA’S MIGHTY ROBOT

Little Ricky Ricotta has a problem: the bullies at school pick on him all the time. Until one day, he saves the life of a mighty robot. Together, Ricky and his Robot face the bullies, and save Squeakyville from a giant evil lizard monster. That’s what friends are for!

BOOK TWO: RICKY RICOTTA’S MIGHTY ROBOT VS MUTANT MOSQUITOS FROM MERCURY

Mr. Mosquito hates Mercury. The days are so hot, they melt his flip-flops, and the nights are so cold, his toothpaste freezes solid! He’s decided to take over Earth instead. Ricky and his Robot must stop his army of massive Mutant Mosquitoes!

BOOK THREE: RICKY RICOTTA’S MIGHTY ROBOT VS VOODOO VULTURES FROM VENUS

Victor Von Vulture hates Venus. His toasted cheese sandwiches are always way too gooey, and ice cream melts in a second! So he and his army of Voodoo Vultures try to cast a spell on the Earth. It’s up to Ricky and his Robot to stop them!

BOOK FOUR: RICKY RICOTTA’S MIGHTY ROBOT VS THE MECHA-MONKEYS FROM MARS

Little Ricky Ricotta has a problem: the bullies at school pick on him all the time. Until one day, he saves the life of a mighty robot. Together, Ricky and his Robot face the bullies, and save Squeakyville from a giant evil lizard monster. That’s what friends are for!

Check out the trailer for the book series.

 

I love it!

For more information you can visit the Ricky Ricotta Official Site or the author’s site, Dav Pilkey.

In addition I would recommend following Scholastic and ScholasticTeach on Twitter and “Like” Scholastic Parents and Scholastic Teachers on Facebook.

For some addition fun check out these links.

Check out the Classroom  Guide

View the Book Trailer

Play the Make Your Own Robot Game

Read Chapter Excerpts & a Mini-Comic Excerpt

Download the Character Cards

Check out Ricky Ricotta Printables

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I have a fun giveaway for a lucky reader, courtesy of Scholastic. The prize package includes;

  • Tabletop refractor telescope
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs Mutant Mosquitos from Mercury
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs the Voodoo Vultures from Venus
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs The Mecha-Monkeys from Mars

Thank you Scholastic!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on September 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you’d like to win this prize package.

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberly

*I received free product samples from Scholastic in order to do this review. There was no compensation. Scholastic will be providing the prize package. 

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