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Wednesday, April 30

DVD Review - NewsRadio: Seasons 1 & 2

NewsRadio: Seasons 1 & 2
Starring: Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Khandi Alexander, Maura Tierney, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Retail: $14.98
ASIN: B00I099JUK
Running Time: 10 hours 12 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

Review:

Arriving on DVD earlier this month from Mill Creek entertainment is the first and second seasons of the  90s comedy series NewsRadio, starring Dave Foley, Khandi Alexander, Maura Tierney, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis and the late comedian great, Phil Hartman.

The series aired on NBC from 1995 to 1999 with 97 episodes produced over five seasons. It went into syndication for a few years before officially disappearing from the airwaves. However, the complete series made its way on DVD between 2005 to 2008, but all the season sets are now out-of-print. Mill Creek Entertainment acquired the rights of several Sony Pictures titles, including NewsRadio, in 2013.

NewsRadio is centered on the antics of the office staff of New York City's WNYX radio station, which is owned by Jimmy James (played by Stephen Root). The pilot introduces the new news director, Dave Nelson (played by Dave Foley), who has to fire the current news director on his first day at work. There is an instant chemistry between Dave and the reporter/producer Lisa Miller (played by Maura Tierney), but there is a slight problem - she wanted to be the new news director. Despite the tension between the two, they enter a relationship which they try to hide from the other employees, Bill McNeal (played by Phil Hartman), Beth (played by Vicki Lewis), Matthew Brock (played by Andy Dick), Catherine Duke (played by Khandi Alexander) and Joe Garrelli (played by Joe Rogan).

The episodes on the three disc-set are:

Tuesday, April 29

Review - The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand



The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand
by Jen Swann Downey
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pub. Date: April 15, 2014
ISBN: 978-1402287701
Pages: 384
Buy Link: Amazon

Review:

Though they were small, my local libraries were my best-friends when I was a kid. My love of reading has continued into my 30s, and of course when I saw a book titled The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand, I eagerly signed up to review it on NetGalley.

This fantasy adventure centers on a young girl named Dorrie, who happens to love sword-fighting. Lets just say life is never boring for young Dorrie, who, along with her brother, Marcus, stumble into the Passaic Public Library. This isn't a regular library, as there is another library hidden within it. There is a magical portal that is the entryway to the Petrarch's Library.

You probably think that librarians are little old ladies wearing thick reading glasses, but that is not the case here, as they ( Lybrarians) are part of a secret society and are skilled at about anything imaginable. The magical portal, that they also protect, is a traveling gateway, where they travel through time to protect important historical figures.

Sunday, April 27

ARC Review - The Girl Who Played with Fire: A Graphic Novel



The Girl Who Played with Fire: A Graphic Novel
by Denise Mina
Illustrators: Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Pub. Date: June 3, 2014
Retail: $29.99
ISBN: 9781401237578
Pages: 272

Review

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the graphic novel adaption based on the late Stieg Larsson's second installment in the Millennium series. All three books have been adapted into feature films in Sweden; while the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was adapted into a feature film in the United States in 2011, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.

After the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, mysteriously disappeared from Sweden. Her state legal guardian, Nils Bjurman, (who had raped her and in turn she sexually assaults him and then tattoos the words "rapist" on his chest and stomach) is searching for her, mainly because she is in possession of the videotape she had recorded of him abusing her.

Lisabeth is actually taking a long vacation on the Caribbean shores of Grenada, where she meets an American tourist, Dr Forbes, and his wife, whom he has been abusing. Lisabeth quickly gets involve with the situation.

ARC Review - Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell


 

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
by Paul Dini
Illustrator: Joe Quinones 
Publisher: DC Comics
Pub. Date: May 27, 2014
Retail: $22.99
ISBN: 9781401210540
Pages: 144

Review:

The DC Comics Universe is full of a variety of male superheroes, but there are also many female superhero characters as well, including Superwoman, Batgirl, Supergirl, etc.. And of course, many of you have probably heard of the character Black Canary that has been appearing on the CW's Arrow this season. In the series, Black Canary's real identity is Sara Lance, while in the comic book it was her sister, Dinah Laurel Lance; though I do have a feeling that Dinah will become Black Canary 2.0 in near future.

The character was first introduced in 1947 and she is normally paired up with the Green Arrow; as you can imagine the character has had many different makeovers over the years, with the most recent occurring in the New 52 reboot. Another character that got a makeover was Zatanna, who first appeared in the DC Comic Universe in 1964. Both of these ionic characters are teaming up for the upcoming graphic novel, titled Black Canary and Zatanna: Boodspell.

Besides from watching Black Canary on Arrow, I'm not to familiar with the character; and I've never even heard of Zatanna before reading the digital graphic novel this morning, which I received from NetGalley. Unlike a few recent DC Comics graphic releases, this isn't a combination of past issues, but instead it is a one-shot, 144 pages issue; giving the readers a glance into the origin of how these two female characters first met.

ARC Review - Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted


Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted
by Gail Simone
Illustrators:
Publisher: DC Comics
Pub. Date: May 27, 2014
Retail: $24.99
ISBN: 9781401246297
Pages: 192

Review:

Comic books may seem like the thing of the past, but thanks to a surge of superhero blockbusters and hit television series (Arrow), not to mention reality TV (Comic Book Men), comic books are starting to become popular again. Publishers have finally entered modern times with digital comic books. 

In the comic book world, superheroes never age, as the comics eventually get rebooted, giving franchises a brand new start. This is exactly what happened with DC Comics with the launch of their New 52 line in 2011, including everything Batman related.

Thanks to NetGalley, I got to review an advanced digital copy of Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted, which consists of issues #19-25, as well as Ventriliquist #1.

Being a superhero has its ups and downs, and Barbara Gordon has hit the lowest-part of her crime-fighting career with the recent death of her brother, which her alter ego, Batgirl, had a part in his death. She is a complete mess and she has even turn to drinking to try to help with the pain. Nothing seems to help her do deal with what has occurred, even visiting a shrink isn't helping her. To make matter worse, her father, Commissioner Gordon, has a personal vendetta to hunt down his son's killer, Batgirl.

Saturday, April 26

ARC Review - Amity by Micol Ostow



Amity
by Micol Ostow
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: August 26, 2014
ISBN: 978-1606841563
Pages: 368

Review:

Probably everyone has heard about the famous so-called haunted house in Amityville, New York, where the Lutz family fled from their house after living there only 28 days in the middle 1970s. They claimed the house was haunted. In 1977, their experiences inside the 112 Ocean Avenue house was chronicled in the best-selling novel, titled The Amityville Horror. Several non-fiction book sequel were later published, along with a few fiction titles as well. Ten film sequels were made, including a prequel and a remake. Another sequel is being filmed for 2015.

Thanks to NetGalley, I got my hands on an advanced readers copy of the new horror book, Amity, written by Micol Ostow. Now, I have read the original 1977 novel and I have seen all the movies, even the really low-budget ones, so naturally I was excited to read the new young adult take on the familiar storyline.

Amity is told from the point-of-view of two teens, but with a little twist, they are from different time-lines. Connor Webb's story takes place ten years before Gwendolyn (Gwen) Hall and her family moves into the house.

The book flips back and forth from the two teenagers' narrations, giving us readers a first-hand account of the dark madness that is hidden inside Amity!

Friday, April 25

DVD Review - Godzilla: The Complete Animated Series



Godzilla: The Complete Animated Series
Voice Cast: Ian Ziering, Brigitte Bako, Rino Romano, Charity James, Malcolm Danare, Tom Kenny
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Retail: $14.98
ASIN: B00I099JZK
Running Time: 14 hours 14 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

Review: 

Monster fans are patiently waiting for the release of the remake of Godzilla, but until then they can't get sink their teeth into Mill Creek Entertainment's DVD release of Godzilla: The Complete Animated Series.

No, this isn't the 1978 Hanna-Barbera cartoon, but instead this is the 1998 animated series, which servers as a direct followup to the 1998 Godzilla flick that started Matthew Broderick. The film was a box-office hit at the time, but Godzilla's new look was criticized by critics and Godzilla fans alike. Nevertheless, the movie still spawned an animated series that lasted for only two seasons consisting of 40 episodes.

Picking up exactly where the 1998 film left off, Godzilla has been destroyed, but Dr. Nick Tatopoulos (voiced by Ian Ziering) is worried that a few of the creature's offspring has survived. Along with the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team (H.E.A.T.), Dr. Tatopoulos locates the last offspring, which the creature becomes emotionally attached to him. Nick becomes sorta like a adopted father to the new Godzilla.

Suddenly, there are strange giant monster reports all over the world. The only weapon that can protect Earth is Godzilla!

Book Blogger Hop: April 25th - May 1st

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the new Book Blogger Hop!

If you want schedule next week's post, click here to find the next prompt question. To submit a question, fill out this form.

What to do:

1. Post on your blog answering this question:

  This week's question is submitted by Elizabeth!

 

Do you answer the Book Blogger Hop questions in advance and have them scheduled or do you write your post the night before or the day of the Book Blogger Hop?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list below (enter your Blog Name and the direct link to your post answering this week’s question. Failure to do so will result in removal of your link).


3. Visit other blogs in the list and comment on their posts. Try to spend some time on the blogs reading other posts and possible become a new follower.  The purpose of the hop is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.
  

My Answer: 

Typically, I setup the Book Blogger Hop either on a Wednesday or Thursday night for the current week. When I have some extra time, I'm going to schedule as many weeks as possible.


Linky List:

Thursday, April 24

Review - 10% Happier


10% Happier
by Dan Harris
Publisher: It Books
Pub. Date: March 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-0062265425
Pages: 256
Buy Link: http://ow.ly/vOtHE
Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/dharris

Review:

As many of my readers already know, I don't read very much non-fiction; mostly due to the fact that most true-to-life stories are depressing and I would rather read a fictional tale with a happy ending. However, I do occasionally read a self-help or spiritual book, which is one of the reasons why I signed up to review 10% Happier by Dan Harris, plus, the author is news anchor, which even further my interest in reading this.

Instead of giving a quick summary of the plot, like I do with my other reviews, I am going straight to my thoughts on the book. By the title and the cover jacket, you would think this would be a self-help novel, but it was far from it. Instead it is a semi-memoir, focusing on the author's entry into the ABC news world, which lead him to drugs and other addictions to help him keep his mind clear due to his heavy work load.

Dan Harris' life changed when he had an on-the-air meltdown on ABC's Good Morning America in 2004, eventually the incident lead him to seek out other healthier ways to reduce stress in his life; mostly medication.

Wednesday, April 23

DVD Review - Gamera Legacy Collection 1963 - 1999



Gamera Legacy Collection 1963 - 1999
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Retail: $14.98
ASIN: B00I099JO6
Running Time: 16 hours 29 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

Review:

The summer blockbuster season began earlier this year with the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but one of the most anticipated summer films of 2014 is Gareth Edwards' remake of Godzilla. You would think there would be several DVD/Blu-ray releases of the older Godzilla flicks, but surprisingly only King Kong Vs. Godzilla has been released this year; though there are a few other titles scheduled for release in May. Until then, monster fans can enjoy Mill Creek's Entertainment DVD release of Gamera Legacy Collection 1963 - 1999, featuring 11 movies, minus 2006's Gamera the Brave.

After the original Godzilla (Gojira) film was released in 1954, there were a surge of monster films being released, including many sequels to Godzilla. Out of these monster flicks came the giant flying turtle, Gamera, the guardian of the universe and friend of all children!


Yes, a flying turtle may seem a little far fetch and a ripoff of Godzilla, but the Gamera became successful; though I'm surprised there was never a Godzilla Vs. Gamera ever produced.

The films on the Gamera Legacy Collection four-disc set are:

WeightMaster II Digital Bathroom Scale by Ozeri Review




No, this isn't Déjà vu! Some of my readers may recall that I have previously reviewed two other Ozeri scales on this blog. So you are probably asking, "Why is he reviewing another bathroom scale?" 

The truth is that I got an opportunity to tryout the WeightMaster II Digital Bathroom Scale by Ozeri and I eagerly took advantages of the opportunity, as I thought the scale would make a great Mother's Day gift for grandma, who has been complaining about her current bathroom scale.

What makes the WeightMaster II different from other digital scales?

Well, it has many cool new features, such as:

Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation - calculates your body fat. 

Weight Differential Detection - displays any changes in your weight since you weighed.

Color Alert Technology - displays your weight loss in Green and your weight gain in Red.

Auto Recognition Intelligence - the scale can store the weight results for up to 8 different users. 
With the StepOn technology, it can automatically turn its self off to help preserve the battery life.

Tuesday, April 22

Blu-ray Combo Pack Review - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller,  Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Retail: $39.99
ASIN: B00H7KJTCG
Running Time: 114 minutes
Rating: PG

Review:

Available to own on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The DVD bonus features include Behind-the-Scenes of The Secret of Walter Mitty and a Still Gallery. The special features on the Blu-ray include Pre-viz, The Look of Life, deleted scenes, extended scenes, alternate scenes and the music video "Stay Alive" by Jose Gonzalez.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is loosely based on the 1939 short story of the same name written by James Thurber and is a remake of the1947 classic starring Danny Kaye in the lead role. In the 2013 version, Ben Stiller directs and stars as the main character, Walter Mitty, a negative assets manager for Life magazine.

Walter hasn't done much with his life, besides for being a good son to Edna (played by Shirley MacLaine) and a big-brother to wannabe-actress, Odessa (played by Kathryn Hahn). He spends most of his time daydreaming, which in reality to everyone else, he is actually "zoning out" or staring into space. He has a bit of a crush on a fellow employee, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig). He even creates a profile on eHarmony, as he had overheard that Cheryl had a profile on there, but he has never gotten around to sending her a "wink."

Life magazine is downsizing and will become an online magazine, so the soon-to-be-released issue will be its last. Photojournalist Sean O'Connell (played by Sean Penn) had sent his latest reel of film for the magazine to Walter, with the negative 25 going to be the cover for the final issue, but there is one little problem - the negative is missing.

Jen Swann Downey’s Top Ten List of Things That Inspired Her to Write THE NINJA LIBRARIANS


  1. A desire to keep my family in butter and heat.
  2. My love of libraries – With all my soul, I have loved libraries since I remember loving anything. As a kid, libraries seemed like magic palaces of possibility. The shelves seemed to hold rows and rows of moveable worlds, each one fronted by a door in the shape of a book cover. All you had to do was swing it open and walk inside. And voila! Imaginary people and situations and places and choices. Those childhood books made it clear that I had choices about what kind of person I wanted to be, how I could live, what might count as “normal” or “good”. Libraries have to rate as one of our most beautiful human inventions, especially public ones.
  3. My love for Librarians - As a book-loving child, I regarded librarians with a strange kind of awe (and our local library as a sort of magical palace, stuffed with a dragon’s hoard worth of riches). Librarians were the keepers of all this treasure, and as such, mysterious and powerful custodians. There always seemed to be more to them than met the eye! Something secret and well-intended and unadvertised. Something underestimated, devoted, and heroic. My opinion didn’t change as an adult, as I began to understand that literacy, information and literature often occupied contested territory! It was easy and fun to imagine librarians – professional book protectors, literacy encouragers, and privacy champions -- as literal warriors, with swords as well as shortish pencils in their arsenals.

Review - A Sensible Arrangement

A Sensible Arrangement
Lone Star Brides series, book 1
by Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
Pub. Date: April 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-0764210587
Pages: 336
Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/tpeterson

Review: 

I have read many titles by author Tracie Peterson, but I wasn't aware that she has published 100 books! That is a great achievement. Her newest novel, A Sensible Arrangement, is the first book in a brand new series. 

In Christian fiction, the arrange marriage plot has been done to death, as it is a simple plot device to get two strangers under the same roof. Here, there are two widowers, Jake Wythe and Marty Dandridge Olson, who are thrown into an arrange marriage.

Typically, these kinds of novels are set on a ranch or some kind of farm, but not here; though Jake would love to own his own ranch one day, until then he has to settle for working at the Morgan Bank. The bank board members don't care for Jake being single, so under pressure he agrees to remarry.

Getting remarried wasn't the first thing on Marty's mind, as she is still grieving over the death of her husband, who died in a ranch accident. Since his death, Marty has been living with her sister and her family, but she fears she has overstayed her welcome, so she agrees to marry Jake.

Blu-ray Review - Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer



Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer
Director: Timothy Armstrong
Starring: Haley Ramm, Kieth Carradine
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Retail: $29.99
ASIN: B00IEXX4XA
Running Time: 91 minutes
Rating: PG

Review:

Arriving on Blu-ray and DVD last week is Cowgirls and Angles 2: Dakota's Summer, starring Oscar Winner (1975, Original Song, "I'm Easy," Nashville) Keith Carradine, Haley Ramm (X-Men: The Last Stand), Jade Pettyjohn (American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars), and Emily Bett Rickards (CW's Arrow). Timothy Armstrong returns to direct this exciting sequel to 2012's Cowgirls 'N Angels. The Blu-ray special feature is a Behind the Scenes of Dakota's Summer.

Dakota's Summer centers on seventeen-year-old, Dakota Rose, who participates as one of the riders in the Sweethearts of the Rodeo trick rider group. Her life is turned upside down when her older sister, Kristin (played by Emily Bett Rickards), tells her that she is adopted.

She leaves the Sweethearts of the Rodeo to spend the summer on her adopted grandparents' (played by Keith Carradine and Anne Lockhart), farm, where she learns who birth-parents are and eventually tracks down her birth-mother. During these summer months, she befriends a troubled young girl, Summer. As she tries to form a relationship with her birth-mother and Summer, she starts to learn a few things about herself, which might bring her back to the rodeo.

Saturday, April 19

DVD Review - SpongeBob, You're Fired!



SpongeBob, You're Fired!
Studio: Nickelodeon
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Retail: $14.98
ASIN: B00HJQMDQC
Running Time: 186 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

Review:

Its hard to believe that SpongeBob SquarePants first premiered back in 1999 and its currently at the end of its ninth season with a ten season in the works. Currently, there are 188 of episodes of the animated series, along with a spinoff feature film with a second film planned for 2015.

Arriving on DVD on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, is the new DVD collection, titled SpongeBob, You're Fired!, featuring 14 exciting adventures in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom.

The episodes featured on the single-disc are:
  • SpongeBob, You're Fired! (Season 9) SpongeBob must look for a new job after he is fired from the Krusty Krab.
  • Neptune's Spatula (Season 1) After pulling a spatula out of a bucket of grease, SpongeBob accidentally summons King Neptune and he must challenge him to a fry cook-off.
  • Welcome to the Chum Bucket (Season 2) - SpongeBob's boss, Mr. Krabs, loses SpongeBob's contract in a poker game; therefore SpongeBob is forced to work at the Chum Bucket.
  • The Original Fry Cook (Season 5) The Krusty Krab's former fry cook, Jim, returns to take SpongeBob's job.
  • Le Big Switch (Season 5) SpongeBob switches jobs with an executive chef, as part of a cultural exchange program.
  • Model Sponge (Season 7) Fearing that he might be fired from the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob tries to become a model.
  • Employee of the Month (Season 1) SpongeBob is always the employee of the month at the Krusty Krab, but this month he has competition, as Squidward wants to be the best employee.
  • Bossy Boots (Season 2) The Krusty Krab as a new employee, Mr. Krab's daughter, Pearl.
  • Krusty Dogs (Season 7) SpongeBob creates Krusty Dogs!
  • License to Milkshake (Season 9) After SpongeBob learns that his milkshake license has expired, he must return to milk-shake academy,
  • Help Wanted (Pilot Episode) - SpongeBob attempts to get a job at the Krusty Krab.
  • Wet Painters (Season 3) Mr. Krab hires SpongeBob and Patrick to paint the living room of his house.
  • Krusty Krab Training Video (Season 3) A Krusty Krab training video for new employees.
  • Pizza Delivery (Season 1) SpongeBob and Squidward must deliver a pizza to a Krusty Krab customer.
SpongeBob, You're Fired! features the very first episode, Help Wanted, as well as two episodes from season 9, License to Milkshake and SpongeBob, You're Fired!; with the latter episode causing a bit of controversy with its portrayal of unemployment, causing a media circus over the episode. However, when the episode aired on Nickelodeon, it received high ratings.

Friday, April 18

Book Blogger Hop: April 18th - 24th

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the new Book Blogger Hop!

If you want schedule next week's post, click here to find the next prompt question. To submit a question, fill out this form.

What to do:

1. Post on your blog answering this question:

  This week's question is submitted by Elizabeth!

 

Are your reviews more of a rehash of the story or do you comment on writing style, characters, and reflection?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list below (enter your Blog Name and the direct link to your post answering this week’s question. Failure to do so will result in removal of your link).


3. Visit other blogs in the list and comment on their posts. Try to spend some time on the blogs reading other posts and possible become a new follower.  The purpose of the hop is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.
  

My Answer: 

I wouldn't say I rehash the book in my reviews, but I always give a brief synopsis of the plot in my own words. Typically, I comment on the plot, the relationship with the two main characters and then give my final thoughts on the book. Every book is different; therefore I don't always write the reviews the same way every time.


Linky List:

Thursday, April 17

The World Of The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

 



The land where The Hazel Tree is set in a parallel world to the one we live in. Ivy and everyone else live on planet Earth, but it’s very different to this one.

Geography


Geographically, the world is the same. The continents just as green, and the oceans just as deep. The Orarius Pack (or the Costal Pack) is located in northeastern North America. It reaches from North Carolina to Quebec but only goes as far west West Virginia and Toronto.  The capital, where Matthias and Ivy live, is in the North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, as that is where the territory began before it expanded to its current size. The Mara Negra Pack (Black Sea Pack) lies in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. This means the territory covers Romania and Ukraine, through Turkey, to Georgia, Lebanon and Azerbaijan. (Google is your friend!!)

Wednesday, April 16

Review - The Queen's Handmaid


The Queen's Handmaid
By Tracy L. Higley
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pub. Date: March 18, 2014
Retail: $15.99
ISBN: 978-1401686840
Pages: 400
Buy Link: http://ow.ly/uKKQP
Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/thigley

Review:

I can't believe this month is half way over already. 2014 is flying by way to quickly, but I have made time to read several new titles, including The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley.

Now, I'm mostly a fan of books set in the 1800s, but The Queen's Handmaid is set in 39BC, which is a bit of a stretch from the wild wild west era. Though I don't read books from this time period, however, I do watch movies (Gladiator) and television series (Spartacus) that are sent around that era, so I thought I would give the book a shot.

The Queen's Handmaid centers on a young woman named Lydia, who happens to be the handmaid for Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. She doesn't have a family, as she has been an orphan since birth, and she now resides in the Queen's palace, where she spends her days taking care of the Queen's children.

Age is catching up with Cleopatra and having a beautiful young handmaid is causing a few problems, as men are taking notice of Lydia, especially Herod, the Galilean governor.

How Judo Can Benefit Your Child

Judo is one of the relatively new martial arts to come out of Japan. Developed in the late 1800s, it is similar to many other martial arts, but is considered safer for many children because it doesn’t involve punching or kicking. Judo uses certain techniques to pin an opponent and is an appropriate sport for most people—from young children to adults. Some of the more advanced techniques are only permitted for older age groups, to ensure that they’re used properly. Look for judo in Wakefield to help your child grow into a stronger, more confident young adult. It is a sport for both boys and girls, and many people who aren’t successful in traditional sports can flourish in judo.

  Physical Benefits

The obvious benefit of enrolling your child in judo classes is that they will have an opportunity to be more physically active. Instead of sitting in front of the television or video games all day long, they’ll be up and moving around throughout class. Many parents find that once their children begin attending judo classes, they learn to enjoy physical activity so much that even while they’re at home, they spend less time on the couch. Older children can also build muscle and cardiovascular endurance if they continue to attend judo classes regularly.

Red Leaf Tea White Matcha Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


I'm not the biggest fan of drinking tea, unless I'm under the weather, then I might drink a cup of hot tea. Plus, I don't minding a cold glass of sun tea on a hot summer day.

Recently, I was sent a 30g package of White Matcha from Red Leaf Tea. Normally Matcha would refer to Green Tea, but Red Leaf Tea has put a twist on their product buy using the same technique they use to make their Green Tea Matcha to make the White Matcha.

White Matcha has several health benefits such as having a high antioxidant count to kill free radicals in the blood stream; it reduces the risk of certain types of cancer; it decreases fine lines and wrinkles in the skin; it helps maintain a beautiful complexion; and it has only one percent (1%) caffeine content of coffee.

There are no artificial coloring, sweeteners, preservatives and there are no MSG or chemical additives in the tea.

Tuesday, April 15

Etronic Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow Review

Since I started blogging, I get a wide variety of different pitches or requests for reviewing products. I don't have time to review every little thing that comes my way, plus some of the products don't interest me. One pitch that did catch my eye was for the Etronic Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow and I eagerly agreed to review it.

Now, I don't travel much, but I have never owned a massage neck pillow before and I thought it would be neat to try it out. I have owned (well it was given to me) a regular neck pillow and I didn't care much for it, as it was bulky and uncomfortable to use.

The Etronic Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow is made out of soft and smooth materials. There are no batteries included, so you'll have to buy two AA batteries. There is a simple ON/OFF button and a mode button; the has latter 6 different massage programs, ranging from a low to a high vibration massages.

The massage neck pillow can help relieve muscle tension, pain and fatigue, improve blood circulation, quickly release arteries and veins, stiffness, tiredness and paralysis. Plus, if you do travel a lot, the massage neck pillow provides support for your head, neck, shoulder, side, back and legs in either a seated or reclined seat. The pillow is small enough to fit inside a bag, tote or suitcase.

Easter Gift Guide: A Place In the Son: Fitly Joined Together in Love and Growing in Christ



A Place in the Son
Fitly Joined Together in Love and Growing in Christ
by Clarence Ogle
Publisher: New Book Publishing (paperback), Certa Publishing (Kindle)
Pub. Date: November 4, 2013 (paperback), April 6, 2014 (Kindle)
Retail: $18.88 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle)
ISBN: 978-1939748140
ASIN: B00JIWKL5A
Pages: 440

Purchase Links:
Amazon (paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Book Description:

"A Place in the Son: Fitly Joined Together in Love and Growing in Christ" is a guide to growing in Christ in harmony with other true believers. Readers are urged to examine their beliefs and their lives and surrender all to Christ. The God who is Love has a calling(s) and a place in the body of Christ for every unique person. The wonderful works of God are accomplished as believers obey the Head, Jesus Christ, and love and serve with their assigned partners in the body of Christ. "A Place in the Son" calls believers to press on, to step into the realm of the supernatural, and to enjoy daily fellowship and intimacy with God. Personal experiences and testimonies of God's faithfulness combine with the Word of God to inspire readers. Both new believers and seasoned saints will find enlightenment and encouragement in the pages of this book. The call of "A Place in the Son" is loud and clear: "Search the Scriptures! Know who you are in Christ! Wake up, sleeping giants!"

About the Author:

Clarence Ogle is a retired soldier and certified public accountant living in El Paso, Texas. He has shared the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God with inmates in local jails for over twenty-five years. He currently teaches the "Growing in Christ" course at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail. Clarence serves as an elder in his church - Destiny Family Christian Center. He and his wife Hayriye have been married for forty-four years and have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Review:

Monday, April 14

LipiX InstantEdge Ketogenic Coffee Review



Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 
As you can probably imagine, I get a little excited when I get the opportunity to review anything coffee related, as I'm a big coffee drinker. So, naturally, I eagerly signed up to review the LipiX InstantEdge Ketogenic Coffee.

The instant coffee is fortified with Medium Chain Triglycerides, a safe, energetic and rich fatty acids that are easily metabolized by the by the body. Unlike Long Chain fatty acids, MCTs aren't absorbed in the human diet. MCTs provides healthy energy for your brain, while at the same time it gives your body that extra boosts it needs to get through the day. MCTs form ketone bodies in the liver, which is then released into the bloodstream and travels to your brain and other organs.

Easter Gift Guide: Entertain Like A Gentleman




Entertain Like A Gentleman
by David Harp
Publisher: New Year Publishing
Pub. Date: January 1, 2011
Retail: $21.95
ISBN: 978-1935547181
Pages: 228

Buy Links:


Book Description:

Knowing how to entertain for that special date or for a large crowd is the epitome of being a gentleman. There is no stronger way to impress someone than by showcasing your culinary skills. Bachelor Chef and culinary instructor David Harap has created a series of menus that any man can make his own. This book helps men create unforgettable meals for their guests without stress or needing years of cooking school. In addition to many exciting recipes for every occasion, that are tons of tips and secrets on how to become the ultimate host. Memorable meals made easy.

About the Author:

Culinary instructor David Harap has a passion for food and cooking since he was a child. Working in commercial kitchens and catering halls to help put himself through Cornell University, David built a solid knowledge base of culinary fundamentals. His cooking style is very much influenced by his global travels and blends international culinary techniques with local and seasonal products. David teaches a wide range of classes, including many on entertaining, at the Central Market Cooking School and hosts an underground supper club, Austin Bite Club. He is also a partner with Stanton Chase International, a leading global executive search firm.

Review:

Sunday, April 13

Blu-ray Review - The King of Comedy

The King of Comedy
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Nero, Jerry Lewis
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Retail: $24.99
ASIN: B00I4X8KU2
Running Time: 109 minutes
Rating: PG

Review:

Arriving last month on Blu-ray for the first time is 1983's The King of Comedy directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Nero and the legendary comedian, Jerry Lewis. Special Features include Tribeca Film Festival: A Conversation with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis; A Shot at the Top: The Making of The King of Comedy; deleted and extended scenes; and the theatrical trailer.

The King of Comedy is a dark-satire film about the celebrity and media obsession in America. Robert De Nero plays Rupert Pupkin, and aspiring stand-up comedian, who wants his big-break in showbiz. After briefly meeting talk show host, Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis), he believes his opportunity for fame has finally arrived, but he is quickly shoved aside by Langford.

Pupkin has a delusional disorder that cause him to believe that he is close personal friends with Langford. He enlists the help of Masha (played by Sandra Bernhard), who has been stalking Langford, in helping him kidnap Langford for ransom. Pupkin doesn't want any money in return; he only wants a spot on Langford's talk show.

The film was a box-office flop back in 1983 and received mixed-reviews; though over the past thirty years, the film has been more accepting from critics.

Easter Gift Guide: My Friend Paris Book Series



Since this is primarily a book blog, I thought I should at least feature a few books for the Easter Gift Guide. I was contacted by Near Year Publishing about featuring the My Friend Paris picture book series, which I eagerly agreed to review one of the books.

The series was created by a fourteen-year-old author, Paris Morris. The first book, I'm Having Twins, in the "My Twins" series was published when she was a ten-year-old. The main character is loosely based on herself and is also named Paris. Paris is a three-year-old who is trying to adjust to the fact that she will no longer be an only child, as her parents are expecting twin girls.

Four sequels were published, titled My Twins Are Coming Home, My Twins' First Halloween, My Twins' First Christmas and My Twin's First Birthday. More adventures with Paris continued in Paris Goes to Lake Tahoe, Paris Goes To Los Angeles and Paris Goes To San Francisco. Three additional titles, Paris Goes to Italy, Paris Goes To France and Paris Goes To New York, are being released soon.

I was sent the fourth book in from the"My Twins" series, titled My Twin's First Christmas. The young author is Jewish, so she enlisted her friend, Jackie Singer, to help her write the Christmas themed installment of the series.

Saturday, April 12

Easter Gift Guide: The Melting Pot Cookbook





The Melting Pot Cookbook
A Jewish Grandmother's Stories and Good Old Recipes From the Good Old Days
By Belle Serbin Fields
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pub. Date: December 13, 2013
Retail: $10.49
ISBN: 978-1490462660
Pages: 242

Where to Buy:


Book Description from Amazon:

The best recipes collected over the years by a 100 year old Jewish Grandmother who considers entertaining a competitive sport. Her recipes not only taste good, but they have to look good, too. Belle's recipes are practical and unusual, and her ingredients are everyday item found in every kitchen. Although the book is written by a Jewish grandmother, this is not a kosher or even strictly Jewish cookbook. There are Chinese, Italian, German, Danish, and other nationalities represented among the recipes. Another lure to the book are the interesting tales of where and how she found many of the recipes, and events where she has used them. Finally, there are ideas of recipes that can be combined to present and unusual visual effect, like her 7 layer Jello mold table centerpiece, or her combination salad mold appetizer. Belle is a kitchen artist as well as a great cook and baker.

Review:

Many of you probably don't know that I'm a decent cook. Though I learned a few things from mother, I'm mostly self-taught,which started when I became in charge of cooking dinners when my mother went back to work when I was a teenager (I believe it was in 1995). As an adult, I have continued to cook my own meals (though I do get takeout once in awhile) and I own a wide variety of cookbooks (Taste of Home, Rachel Ray, etc.). 

Friday, April 11

Easter Gift Guide: Where Did Jesus Go? by Tommy Mann




Where Did Jesus Go? by Tommy Mann

Publisher: WestBow Press

Pub. Date: December 4, 2013

Retail: $9.95 (paperback) 

ISBN: 978-1490816906 

Pages: 84 

 

Purchase Links: 

Amazon (Paperback)

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Synopsis: 

Have you ever wondered where Jesus went after He died?

Did He go to heaven or hell? Did His soul remain in the tomb? Where Did Jesus Go? explores where Jesus spent the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and it offers an in-depth look at many places that people are curious about, including

Heaven, Paradise, and New Jerusalem
Hell, Hades, and the Lake of Fire; and
Gahenna, Tartarus, and Purgatory.

Come find out for yourself where Jesus’ soul was while His body was in the tomb.

Book Blogger Hop: April 11th - 17th

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the new Book Blogger Hop!

If you want schedule next week's post, click here to find the next prompt question. To submit a question, fill out this form.

What to do:

1. Post on your blog answering this question:

  This week's question is submitted by Anne!

 

What do you think is the best book marketing tool? Blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, or goodreads?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list below (enter your Blog Name and the direct link to your post answering this week’s question. Failure to do so will result in removal of your link).


3. Visit other blogs in the list and comment on their posts. Try to spend some time on the blogs reading other posts and possible become a new follower.  The purpose of the hop is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.
  

My Answer: 

Wow! That is a great question. I would probably go with Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing as great social marketing tool to learn about upcoming books. My second choice would be blogs. As a reader, when I hear about a book or author I have never heard of before, I "google" the book title and see what the buzz is all about. Mainstream critics are somewhat lazy about book reviews anymore, as they mostly copy the description from the back of the book and leave out their personal opinions. What I like about book blog reviews, is that they will give their honest thoughts about the title.


Linky List:

Thursday, April 10

Easter Gift Guide: CLEVERFIT



CLEVERFIT
The Adjustable Collar Stay
Retail: $29.95 (Ambassador Set)

Product Description:
CLEVERFIT is the world's first precision fit adjustable collar stays for business, casual and formal shirts. For years men has been frustrated with the average collar stays made from metal, plastic, brass and sterling silver, which are rounded at one end and pointed at the other ends to help stabilize a collar.

Over time, regular collar stays can become warped, broken or even missing, but CLEVERFIT Collar Stays have been created to solve these problems by using a collar stabilizer mode. The CLEVERFIT uses the science of leverage and is able become a collar stabilizer in an extended positions. 

Purchase Link:

The CLEVERFIT is only available at www.CLEVERFITSTAY.com.






Billy's Thoughts: 

Book Spotlight & Giveaway - Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy


Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy
By Shozo Sato
Forward by Gengo Akiba Roshi
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Pub. Date: March 11, 2014
Retail: $34.95
ISBN: 978-4805312049
Pages: 176



Buy Links: Hardcover, Kindle





Book Description : 

In this beautiful and extraordinary book, Shozo Sato, an internationally recognized master of traditional Zen arts, teaches the Japanese art of calligraphy through the power and wisdom of Zen poetry.

Single-line Zen Buddhist koan aphorisms or zengo are one of the most common subjects for the traditional Japanese brush calligraphy known as shodo. Regarded as one of the key disciplines in fostering the focused, meditative state of mind so essential to Zen, shodo is practiced regularly by all students of Zen Buddhism in Japan. After providing a brief history of Japanese calligraphy and its close relationship with the teachings of Zen Buddhism, Sato explicates the basic supplies and fundamental brushstroke skills that you'll need.

About the Author:

Shozo Sato was awarded the Order of Sacred Treasure from the Emperor of Japan for his contributions in teaching Japanese traditions. His areas of expertise include ikebana (flower arranging), chanoyu (tea ceremony), and Japanese theater, as well as sumi-e (ink painting). He is the author of numerous books including Tea Ceremony, Ikebana, and The Art of Sumi-e. He was the founding director of Japan House at the University of Illinois, where he is Professor Emeritus and continues to teach Japanese arts. He divides his time between Fort Bragg, California and Champaign, IL. 

Billy's Thoughts:

I know very little about the Japanese culture, besides from what I see in movies, but I have always been fascinated with Japanese Calligraphy that I have seen art books. Author Shozo Sato has written the book titled Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy that covers the history of brush calligraphy.

Shodo is much more than just painting words or phrases, as it is meant to be a way to express your true-self. The book contains step-by-step instructions on how to paint different styles (Kaisho, Gyosho, Sosho) of phrases.

I haven't reviewed the book, but I wanted to featured it in a book spotlight, as it looks interesting and I haven't seen very many titles covering the subject of Japanese Calligraphy. Learning to brush these beautiful Japanese Calligraphy phrases can be life changing and make an excellent hobby.



Giveaway:

Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy by Shozo Sato
US Addresses Only

Giveaway Ends April 23rd!


This is a sponsored post, however all views expressed are my own.

Pure Colon Detox Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 
 
I'm sure everyone has heard of the word "detoxing" before. Many people detox or fast by replacing their food with juices or water for a certain amount of days. I've never personally tried this, but I have heard people do drop several pounds in a short amount of time. I would rather not starve myself, so I have looked into other detox methods.

Recently, I had a chance to try the Pure Colon Detox (retails at $44.99, but it is currently $18.95 on Amazon) dietary supplement from Pure Body Naturals. The product is meant to help remove waste matter from the digestive tract.

One bottle of the dietary supplement contains 60 capsules, which contains ZERO fillers, ZERO Binders or Artificial Ingredients. It is recommend to take 1 or 2 (no more than 3) capsules a day with 8 oz. of water. It is not meant to be taken for long periods of time, so it is recommend to take a break after seven straight days.

The dietary supplement contains a proprietary formula of:

Wednesday, April 9

MIRA Stainless Steel Container Sets Review

My reviews aren't strictly for this blog, as I do post the full reviews or snippets of them on Amazon.com, which has lead to a few companies contacting me, wanting e to review their products. I don't accept all pitches from these companies, but I do accept a select few.

That being said, I was contacted by MIRA Scales to review their Stainless Steel Container Sets and I eagerly agreed to review it.

Actually, I thought I was going to be sent the 3 container set, but I was actually sent an additional 2 container set. The 3 container set features three different sizes, 16 oz, 8 oz and 5 oz, along with blue, light blue and a teal lid. The 2 container set features 2- 5 oz containers with teal lids.

Yes, these containers are small, but they are meant to be lunch containers. Something you can fit inside your coat/jacket pocket, briefcase, book bag, purse or lunchbox. The containers can easily store crackers, chips, brownies, finger sandwiches, pudding or anything you can think of.  Plus, if you are on a diet, these can help with portion control.

The lunch containers are made of 18/8 food-grade stainless steel and the lids are made of non-toxic LDPE number 4 plastic. All containers are dishwasher safe. The 3 container set retails at $34.99, but can currently be purchased for $17.95 on Amazon. The 2 container set retails at $24.99, but can currently be purchased for $14.95 on Amazon.

Easter Gift Guide: Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows



Setting up my blog's first Easter Gift Guide has been fun, as I have been able to work with many different companies, including the Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows.

Plush Puffs comes in a variety of different flavors, such as Caramel Swirl, Chocolate Chipetta, Gingerbread Spice, Lemony Meringue, Mochaccino (special flavor), Peppi-mint, Pumpkin Pie, Simply S'mores, Sydney's Cinnamon, Toasty Coconut and Vanilla Bean.

Honesty, I didn't even know there could be so many different flavors of marshmallows, as all I have ever tried are the regular vanilla kind and the miniature ones you can put in hot chocolate. Though I have seen a few different flavors in the stores around the holidays. Unlike other brands that coat their marshmallows, Plush Puffs are made from scratch, all-natural ingredients and high quality flavoring throughout each marshmallow.

Tuesday, April 8

Easter Gift Guide: My Hare Line and the Hat





My Hare Line and the Hat
My Hare Line, book 4 
by Patsy M. Henry
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Pub. Date: October 11, 2011
Retail: $9.99 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1613462164
Pages: 28

Where can “My Hare Line” series books be purchased? :

Book Description: 

After a pine tree falls and knocks the rabbit pen fence, Brownie asks Rascal if anyone escaped. Rascal thinks this was the silliest thing he had ever heard. As usual, Rascal talks to Aunt Paula Rabbit about what Brownie had said to him. Rascal is shocked to learn that his family is actually quite adventurous! Join Rascal and his adventurous bunny family in My Hare Line and the Hat.

About the Author:

Patsy M. Henry is newly retired, having worked twenty-five years in banking and eight years as an office manager. Her goals for retirement were to take better care of herself and to write. The first goal was easy to slip into. The second goal has been both challenging and rewarding. She had been encouraged to write by family and friends who told her that she missed her calling. It came naturally for her to write about her newfound love for her rabbits first. The author of My Hare Line Meets the Brown Rabbit is from a large family that gets together often. Patsy and her husband, Jerry, live in Bainbridge, Georgia where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They enjoy spending time in to the mountains. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.

Review:

Monday, April 7

Easter Gift Guide: BigLather Bath Sponge




While setting up this Easter Gift Guide, I wanted to include a wide variety of products, from books and movies to anything out of the ordinary. I received several great pitches from different companies, but I only picked out the ones I thought would make unique gifts for Easter. One of the pitches I accepted was the BigLather Bath Sponge by En-Theos.

Yes, I'm well aware that there are several other bath sponges and face scrubs on the market today. Actually, I have been using the Dove Men Duel-sided Shower Tool to scrub my neck after I shave, but despite how durable it looks, the mesh/scrub lasts about three months before I have to replace it.

The BigLather Bath Sponge comes in both a regular sponge and a soft sponge, which you can purchase in a two pack for $12.00. It may sound a little pricey at first, but when you consider that you probably go through five or six different scrubs or shower sponges a year, the price is more than reasonable.