Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Beautiful Dead comes to a climactic end

The Beautiful Dead series by Eden Maguire quickly became one of my faves as I dived into the very first book: Beautiful Dead: Jonas on a train ride home from the NY SCBWI winter conference a few years ago.As each book was released, I must say I was never disappointed and couldn't wait to get my hands on the next installment.

I hate to see the series end, but I recently finished the last book in the series, Beautiful Dead: Phoenix. In this fourth and final installment, we know how Darina has helped previous members of the Beautiful Dead bring about justice for their deaths, but now the heat is on as Darina has to help her 'undead' boyfriend, Phoenix. Can Darina keep it together, knowing that her time with Phoenix is running out?

I couldn't put this book down and was pleasantly surprised with some of the surprising plot twists Maguire weaved in. Since book one, I've loved the character Darina as she's strong-willed, independent, and very captivating and Darina doesn't let you down in this one either.

If you're in the market for a clever, and intriguing series, look no further. The Beautiful Dead will fill your appetite for the dark side, romance, supernatural, drama, action, and more.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1402239475
ISBN-13: 978-1402239472
Source of review copy: Publicist
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The ultimate question and answer book

Children are inquisitive and if you're a parent, you're probably bombarded with questions daily like...

-Why do I have to brush my teeth?
-Why are some eggs brown and some white?
-Why do onions make you cry?
-Why is the sky blue?

Chances are you're usually explaining away, but if you need to come up for air or maybe just don't know why worms come out when it's wet (no shame in that), it's time to pick up a copy of WHY: THE BEST EVER QUESTION AND ANSWER BOOK ABOUT NATURE, SCIENCE, AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU by Catherine Ripley.

My kids and I can't get enough of this book. There are so many fun questions and they're broken up into sections: Bathtime, Supermarket, Nighttime, Outdoor, Kitchen, and Farm Animal. And what makes this book resonate with young readers is the fact that the questions were submitted by real children. The 10th Anniversary Edition not only offers all of the fun facts you're looking for, but it offers fun illustrations that will have your young readers picking this one up time and time again.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 3 and up
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Owlkids Books; Tenth Anniversary Edition edition (November 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1926818008
ISBN-13: 978-1926818009
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fish for a Free Book: November 25

Welcome to the Thanksgiving edition of fish for a free book!

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two YA Novels--6/24
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-midsummers-eve-giveaway-hop.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Taking dress-up to the next level

I was recently reading the children's book, Birdie's Big-Girl Shoes by Sujean RimDo. In the book, Birdie can’t wait to dress-up like her mom…wearing jewelry, perfume and big-girl shoes. It immediately made me think of my niece. She loves to dress-up and play pretend, so I'm always on the lookout for everything from princess dresses to fairy wings to Dorothy's red ruby shoes. As the mom of two boys, I'm usually surrounded by Transformers costumes, werewolves, and skeletons, so the thought of feather boas floating around the house is as alien to me as E.T.. However, it made me stop and wonder, why do girls like to dress-up? Underneath all of those sequins and sparkles, there's something intriguing to a little girl about walking in an adult's shoes. They're preparing themselves for the road ahead and role-play allows girls to strengthen many skills they'll need as an adult. So as I was racking my brain for another Christmas present that would be a hit this year, it hit me. What if I didn't buy the usual frilly, lacy princess dress, but instead opted for some gear that would really get her creative juices flowing?

I discovered this fantastic website that offers scrubs not only for men and women, but also kids...http://www.blueskyscrubs.com/categories/Scrubs/Scrubs-for-Women/Original-Scrubs/. The scrubs that Blue Sky offers resembles the same ones you'd find a doctor or nurse wearing in a hospital, which makes them a perfect gift for dress-up play and more. And to top it off, they even offer scrubs for babies! I wish I knew a doctor or nurse who was having a baby because I can see these as the perfect baby shower gift.

Even though we don't have any doctors or nurses in the family, I know I stumbled upon a great Christmas gift as my niece will love the nurse scrubs uniform. Yeah, there might not be any sequins or high-heel shoes that she can stumble around the house in, but the next time she wants to put herself into an adult's shoes, she won't have to just grab that toy doctor kit, filled with molded plastic toys that only let her pretend to play doctor. She can actually wear the real thing and aim to be the next Elizabeth Blackwell...stat!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Here's to gettin' your turkey on...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaching children about OCD

OCD is a difficult thing to explain to children, but as I've always said, there really is a children's book for everything and if you're looking for a way to explain OCD to your child, STUCK by Rhonda C. Martin will do just the trick.

Narrated by Cinnamon, a little girl who's different in a big way, we learn about all the different ways she gets stuck in certain routines and can't stop until she gets them exactly right. For example, Cinnamon has a certain routine when Mom or Dad leave the house, she often washes her hands over and over again, she needs to have her toys in neat lines, and the trash can is her least favorite part of the house. And even though young readers will learn that OCD can make someone feel like something bad might happen, they'll also learn that Cinnamon gets stuck on many good things.

This book sends the powerful message home that OCD is not a child's fault and there's nothing wrong with a child who has OCD. In fact, most of the time, they're just like other kids and whatever happens, their friends and family love them just the same. This is a wonderful book for kids with OCD, kids who would like to understand more about OCD, and for parents to help initiate discussion with their own children about OCD. 

For more information and resources, please visit Stuck's official website.

Additional Information:
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Jabberwocky Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935204335
ISBN-13: 978-1935204336
Source of review copy: Author
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Teach your kids what it means to go green

Go Green! You hear that phrase everywhere these days. We all know that to “go green” means to strive for sustainability and protection of the environment. But how do you explain that to a five year old? Well, author Jill Dunn attempts to do just that in her book, I WANT TO GO GREEN, BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

In the book, a little girl gets to the bottom of just what it means to go green...

Is "Green" a playground where I can play?
Is it a building or somewhere to stay?

Or is it just the color of peas?
Will somebody tell me?
I'm begging you, please!


The little girl begs and pleads and learns that to go green is how we should treat our Earth. Not only is it a way of life that protects the Earth and people, it also protects the animals and more. Kids will enjoy the rhyming story as they learn about everything from energy to conservation to renewable resources and they'll be amazed at all the ways they can go green--just by turning off the TV, recycling their juice bottle, and walking to school instead of taking the car.

Teaching children how to go green shouldn't be difficult and Dunn has laid everything out for your young readers to do the right thing. So the next time someone tells them to go green, they'll know exactly what that means!

Additional Information:
Paperback: 42 pages
Publisher: AuthorMike Ink (April 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984580123
ISBN-13: 978-0984580125
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fish for a Free Book: November 18

It's time to fish for a free book!

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two YA Novels--6/24
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-midsummers-eve-giveaway-hop.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Check out these ridiculous parenting products

Parenting Magazine recently posted the most ridiculous parenting products.

Parenting says, "With kids comes stuff -- but this silly and unnecessary kid gear is a total waste of your money."

If you're a parent, I'm sure your house is flooded with unnecessary kid gear and with the holidays around the corner, you're probably wondering where your going to put all that new unnecessary stuff. I must admit, the thought has crossed my mind once or twice.

That being said, hop over to Parenting and check out their list. The thing that grabbed my attention? A placenta teddy bear!

Okay--that's just gross!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fish for a Free Book: November 11

It's time to fish for a free book!

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two YA Novels--6/24
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-midsummers-eve-giveaway-hop.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Fish For a Free Book Participants
1. Mymcbooks

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrate Picture Book Month

Did you guys know that November has officially been declared picture book month? With the digital age upon us and with many declaring the death of the picture book, some ingenious authors came up with the idea to give the picture book some well deserved love and rightfully so. As a result, every day in November, there will be a new post at their official website from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important. Be sure to check out the site as they have tons of activities, curriculum guides and more!

As you know, picture books are close to my heart and I think they play a huge role in a child's development. But most of all, picture books are just plain fun! In fact, I'm always amazed at where picture book authors get their ideas from. Most writers write about what their passionate about or things they know and I don't know about you, but recalling memories from 1st grade just does not come easy for me. So where do children's authors get their ideas from exactly?

One author has a fabulous story and in honor of picture book month, I had to share it here. That story is of Laura Murray, author of THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL. According to her website, Murray is not only a children's author, but also a teacher and mom of three mischief makers! As a teacher, one of her favorite curriculum units was 'The Gingerbread Man' unit. As part of her lesson at the beginning of each school year, a freshly baked gingerbread man managed to escape from her class. It was up to the kids to hang missing posters, search the halls, discover crumbs and candies, and do whatever they could to hunt down this smart cookie. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well as a result, Murray came up with the idea for her book, THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL. It's a twist on the classic tale, told by the Gingerbread Man himself and the book has quickly become a staple for teachers across the country.

That's just one story of how one author got a fabulous idea and turned it into a success. There are so many more and so many reasons to love picture books. To learn more about Laura Murray, please visit her official website and don't forget to give some love to picture books.Visit the Picture Book Month website and learn more about why picture books are important.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Welcoming Ashton

Thanks for the post, Arthur Lawrence

Until this fall, I’ve never really watched Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen was such a train wreck in real life I couldn’t bring myself to tune in while watching my direct tv San Marcos. But after all the hype about his being fired and Ashton Kutcher being hired, I couldn’t help tuning in. I wanted to see what all the drama was about. Boy was I not disappointed! I know many long time fans aren’t very excited about the change but I really like the way they made the transition. The funeral was hilarious and a fitting tribute to a character gone rogue. Ashton’s introduction was a blast. He isn’t the best actor but the character he plays doesn’t seem to have much personality so it works! Jon Cryer is always great and continues to play the perfect straight man against Kutcher’s slightly spacy and clueless billionaire. And Angus Jones never disappoints. This show is one of very few examples where the cute kid in the punchlines has been able to grow up and remain relevant. Have you noticed they haven’t had to introduce another younger “cousin” like on so many other sitcoms?

Monday, November 7, 2011

An app that simplifies the interview process

If you're a freelance writer, you know the importance of getting interviews. Interviews help gather information, give you an expert source to quote, and really solidify your article and/ or book.

Let's admit it though--if it's a lengthy interview, organization can get a little hairy. There are many tools out there to use, but one that came to my attention recently is the MyInterview App.

This app looks amazing as it will help you create, conduct and manage your interviews. And one thing about doing interviews is the amount of paperwork that usually comes along with it. The MyInterview App helps you go green and will help free you of all that clutter.

Some of the features include templates that will get you started with real questions, and the ability to record the audio from an interview with the tap of a button, take notes during an interview, time your interview, and share data easily by emailing reports right from the app.

Whether you're just getting started as a freelance writer or you're a full-fledged nonfiction author, MyInterview will definitely help you streamline the interview process and help get you organized. Something every writer needs to be!

Learn more at http://myinterviewapp.com/

Friday, November 4, 2011

Can Prepaid Debit Cards Help You Maintain Your Budget?

Maintaining a budget is a lot like yo-yo dieting. Think about it--when dieting, a weight cycle can range from small weight losses and big gains. Your budget can also be affected this way when you don't have a plan. One month, you might see big gains, but another month, you suffer huge losses. With the U.S. economy continuing to be sluggish, moms probably find themselves walking out of a grocery store shocked at their receipt and even more shocked when they realize there's not much in their grocery bags. With that said, what is the best way to maintain a budget?

I don't know about you, but I've tried so many ways to maintain a budget from taking out a set amount of money for the month to not taking any money out at all and only relying on credit cards. Somehow, it never seems to work. Now, with banks charging high fees for debit card transactions, U.S. banks are pushing prepaid debit cards. But is it the right thing to maintain your budget? Prepaid debit cards do offer some advantages:

  • You can only spend what is on your card, so there are no costly overdraft or interest fees.
  • It’s an easy-to-use and convenient alternative to credit cards and traditional banking–without all of the worry of going into debt or overdrawing your account.
  • There are no hidden fees or interest charges.
  • You can get instant access to your balance, deposit, and recent transaction information online. Most prepaid cards even allow you to track your transactions on your mobile phone. This is useful to know where and how much you’re spending.
  • Carrying a prepaid debit card is much safer than carrying cash. If it's lost or stolen, the best prepaid debit card companies will protect you against unauthorized purchases.
  • You can also shop online without giving out your credit card information.
If you think a prepaid debit card is for you, you can buy them online or find them in major retailers, but be sure to study the card's policies. Some charge a small monthly fee, fees to reload the card, fees to withdraw money from an ATM, and fees to speak to a customer service representative. However, preloaded cards that offer the convenience of plastic without the risk of taking on further debt can be a great deal and the popularity of prepaid debit cards continues to rise. According to the U.S. Treasury, even the IRS has started a campaign to issue refunds to those who do not have a bank account in the form of a prepaid debit card.

With the holidays around the corner, I see prepaid debit cards as a great alternative for maintaining your budget. Much like that yo-yo diet you've tried time and time again, you've probably realized that if you want to lose weight, you have to do it the right way. Well, it's the same for your budget. If you want to save money, you have to do it the right way and perhaps a prepaid debit card is the way for you.

Fish for a Free Book: November 4

It's time to fish for a free book!

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: Lori Calabrese Writes--Two YA Novels--6/24
Your URL: http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-midsummers-eve-giveaway-hop.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Fish For a Free Book Participants
1. Bluerose's Heart-YA E-book(10 copies!)- 11/11
2. 2 Signed Fur and Feathers picture books—ends 11/5, US
3. Sharing Some Mail Giddiness: The Secret Life of Bees --US, 11/7
4. iPad 2, 30 Kids' Books & $50 GC 11/23

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to convince your kids to not turn the other into a frog

So one of your sons wants to turn his brother into a frog? We've all been there. I remember many times I would have loved to have changed my brother into a frog, but it just never happened. No matter how much you try to convince your son that it's just not possible, you might want to check out MY BROTHER THE FROG by Kevin McNamee.

In this humorous picture book, a boy wants to change his brother into a frog, but he learns a few things in the process. Things like... his brother will get mad, his parents will get mad, he'll be really good at sports, and more. And when he tries to change him back, it may not be that easy. Now his brother's a duck who hogs the bathtub then he's a chicken who pecks at his toes when he's asleep. There are so many scenarios that he just never thought of and he finally realizes that maybe his brother isn't so bad just the way he is.

MY BROTHER THE FROG is a humorous read that dives into a little sibling rivalry. As I said before, we've all probably imagined turning our brother or sister into a frog, but MY BROTHER THE FROG takes it one step further and really examines what would happen if it actually came to fruition. Kids will get a kick out of the illustrations and parents will enjoy the hidden message that a sibling can actually be your best friend. (well, sometimes)

Additional Information:
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (June 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616331593
ISBN-13: 978-1616331597
Source of review copy: Author
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book.