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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author Interview: C.H. Admirand (Romance Author)

This is so exciting - I had the opportunity to interview romance author C.H. Admirand.  So to start, I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to C.H. Admirand for taking the time to do the interview with me, and for sharing some really fun facts with us.

I've had the pleasure of reviewing two of the three books from the Secret Life of Cowboys: Tyler, and Jesse

C.H. Admirand has a new book coming out November 1st 2012 called A Wedding in Apple Grove.  Synopsis:
Welcome to Apple Grove, Ohio (population 597) where everyone has your best interests at heart... Love is in the air and the proof is in the painted proposal on the water tower. Every girl in Apple Grove looks forward to her beau following town tradition by getting on a ladder and making his love for her public.

When Daniel Eagan moves to town, his matchmaking neighbors direct him toward the Mulcahys. But when the petite and winsome Megan arrives on his doorstep in khakis and a tool belt, sparks start flying between the new guy and the hometown girl...
1. The Garahan brothers from your Secret Lives of Cowboys series and the Circle G Ranch they are working hard on really came to life in the pages of your books. What inspired you to create The Circle G Ranch? Does it exist in real life?

I’ve been a fan of Westerns (TV and Silver Screen) for years and have always been drawn to the episodes/movies where something big was at stake…usually the ranch. I love history and am working on tracing out my great-grandfather’s roots in Ireland, so I added that in when I started writing contemporary westerns, tying my modern-day Garahan brothers with their ancestors from my first book THE MARSHAL’S DESTINY…they’re related to Marshal Ben Justiss. Sooo fictionally speaking…the ranch and the Garahans so exist. :)

2. All of the Garahan brothers seem to be great guys, do you have a favorite? 

It’s a tough choice, but Jesse would be my favorite, because of all that he’s been through and he still can’t keep from falling in love with little Lacy and Danielle.

3. By the time I was done reading Jesse, I could almost taste Uncle Jimmy's Chocolate Pie - and I've wanted a good chocolate pie ever since! Have you ever shared the recipe (I'm going on the assumption that somewhere you have a favorite recipe that brings back fond memories here)?

Actually, I do have that recipe somewhere…it was my great-grandfather’s, he and my great-grandmother had a tavern in Livingston years ago, and he shared the cooking. When we were little, he’d make his chocolate pie when he knew we were coming for a visit. :)

4. You've written around 20 published books - do you have a favorite? Why or why not?

Usually, it’s the book I’m working on at the moment…BUT…I am in the next phase with the Digital Comic and working with the most talented artist in the world, Jorge Correa, Jr. and he’s asking for indepth descriptions of the characters. Because some of them appear in my Irish Western Series, I had to go back and look up physical descriptions for him. When I did, I ended up re-reading big chunks of that series and have to say I really love the last book in the series…A GIFT FROM HOME…because it starts over in Ireland. I really loved writing that book and am in the process of getting the rights back for that one too.

5. Over the years, I've learned that authors sometimes do wonderful things to make sure their stories are as real as they can be (exotic trips and experiences, story boards, writing from fun memories, etc), how do you find your inspiration, and do you do anything special to bring your characters and places to life?

It was a cross-country trip that had me falling in love with Colorado that inspired my first book, which ended up launching my Irish Western Romance series. Tie that in with a life-long love of Westerns and the quintessential American Hero…the Cowboy and you have the core of that series and my current series from Sourcebooks…The Secret Life of Cowboys. Although it hadn’t been my intention at the time, because I didn’t ask the right questions I went along for the ride to support an author friend and ended up at LeBare in Houston…a ladies club. After suffering from extreme mortification through the first few dancers, a cowboy walked on the stage and my creative side took notice and had me wondering why would a “real” cowboy be up on that stage. And I knew…to save the Circle G Ranch! For my upcoming Small Town USA series from Sourcebooks, I took a detour on the way home from Lori Foster’s Reader Event last year to drive to Purity, Ohio. The original name of the series and town in my book. I took pictures and was beyond grateful for my hand-held, voice-activated recorder…I had one whole tape’s worth of observations as I was driving to and through Purity. I added in the neighborhood I grew up in and the one we’ve lived in for the last 30 years to come up with the perfect small town…which is now Apple Grove, Ohio.

6. When you read for pleasure, what types of books do you enjoy? Any all-time favorites? 

I’m a die-hard Romance fan. Some of my faves are by Nora Roberts , Julie Garwood, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Christina Skye. All time favorite book – historical: Ransom by Julie Garwood. Contemporary: The Return of Rafe Mackade.

7. In Jesse, we get to read about two sets of Garahan cousins, dare we readers hold out hope of a spin-off series involving the cousins?

Actually, I will be working on the proposal for two new series, hoping to catch my editor’s interest, with the Colorado Lawmen…the Garahans’ Justiss cousins…and with the FDNY Garahans.

First I have to finish book 3 in my Small Town USA series…the hero just happens to be Patrick Garahan, former FDNY firefighter who has relocated to Apple Grove to escape a tragedy in his past.

8. I understand from your website that you are working on a Digital Comic called Bring 'Em Back Alive, which will be a Western Romance. Can you tell us anything about it yet? Have you seen early pictures? 

I just received the pencil and ink layouts for Megan O’Mara and Michael Flynn…and they are PERFECT!!! The artist, Jorge Correa, Jr. is a genius. I’m attaching the layouts for you to check out. I’m so excited about this comic, firstly because it is a whole new process for me and the opportunity to learn something new is always challenging…and in this particular case…FUN!

9. In your Bio, you talk about the fact that you often love to include bits of your ancestry in your books, are you able to share one or two examples? 

In my first book, THE MARSHAL’S DESTINY, the cameo picture on the cover is my great-grandmother, the real Margaret Mary Flaherty when she was about 22 years old. She’s also the namesake for my heroine. The bits and pieces of her character are taken from 3 generations of feisty Irishwomen: Flaherty, Daly, Garahan, and Purcell. OH…and the scene where she whacks the bad guy over the head with a cast iron frying pan is taken from a real-life incident…my hubby’s grandmother did that, but I can’t really talk about the details…yet. In the first book in my Medieval Trilogy, I use my Purcell Ancestor’s family castle Loughmoe Castle in Tipperary, Ireland (there’s a pic on my website) renaming it Loughmae Keep and move it to Northumbria, England. :)

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Again, I'd like to say a huge Thank You to C.H. Admirand for taking the time to do this interview with me, and for letting me share this interview with you.

~ Wendi

Giveaway: The Trouble With Magic by Patricia Rice (Casablanca Classics Giveaway, Rafflecopter, US/CAN, 9/14

Sourcebooks has a line called Casablanca Classics, where they bring back wonderful out-of-print books, and they have recently released The Trouble With Magic by Patricia Rice, and you can win your copy here!

The Trouble With Magic  
by Patricia Rice

Sourcebooks Casablanca ~ pages 320
Fiction / Romance

About the Book:
August 2012, Casablanca Classics

Is Her Magic a Gift or a Curse...?

All the Malcolms have some magic, but Lady Felicity's ability to read people's emotions simply by touching them or their possessions overwhelms her. She's reached a marriageable age, but how can she ever wed when she can see so clearly a man's guilty secrets?

Only He Can Tell the Difference...

Ewen Ives, itinerant rake and adventurous inventor, knows better than to underestimate the mischief of the Malcolms. But sparks fly when he encounters Felicity, and Ewen can't seem to refuse her plea for assistance...

“Rice's enchanting book is truly spellbinding.” —Booklist

“You can always count on Patricia Rice for an entertaining story with just the right mix of romance, humor, and emotion.” —The Romantic Reader

“Patricia Rice's historicals are deliciously fresh, sexy fun. Never has the battle of the sexes been more charming!” —Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
With five million books in print and New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists under her belt, Patricia Rice’s emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances have won RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards and have been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA finalists in the historical, Regency and contemporary categories. A former CPA, Patricia Rice is a native of Kentucky and New York, a past resident of North Carolina, and currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information on Patricia’s current releases, please visit www.patriciarice.com.
Giveaway Details:
One lucky Wendi's Book Corner reader will win a copy of The Trouble With Magic by Patricia Rice.  Open to the US and Canada, no PO Boxes.  Enter via Rafflecopter now through 9/13, and the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: I did not receive anything for posting this giveaway - I simply want to bring you a great giveaway! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Amazing Action Alphabet - A Powerful Way To Help Your Child Learn Letters and Sounds

I'm always on the lookout for teaching/learning tools that will help me give my kids the best possible jump-start for their learning, and I love what The Amazing Action Alphabet does for kids.  It helps them learn by seeing, hearing and doing something, so they are engaging 3 different senses while learning!

In the Intro to the flip book, the author makes a GREAT point, that it is easier to learn something new when you can relate to it, so she is using things kids can usually already relate to in order to give new information (animals), she then uses the animal to tell a story about why the letter sounds the way it does.

For example, when learning the letter 'A', kids are introduced to A the Alligator, who is angry at the army of ants who has taken off his apple.  As a parent, I read the story of A the Alligator to my son, and then get him to act out how A the Alligator might act when he is angry.  I then re-read the story and act it out with my child.  LOVE this active learning!!

Each letter has its own animal... B the Bear, C the Caterpillar, etc.  They are fun and colorful animals that kids love to interact with.

While your child sees the picture of the alphabet letter/animal (Upper and lower case), you are able to read the story from the back of the flip book, turn the page and repeat!!  It is easy and fun.

This is an absolutely wonderful way to get young kids interested in learning their ABC's, and it works!!

The Amazing Action Alphabet Flip Chart and CD 
by Esther Kehl, illustrated by Andy Carlson

See Hear Do Company
Teaching Aid / Kids / Pre-K

Edition Reviewed: Flip Chart and CD - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher and MediaGuests for participation in a review tour ~ all opinions are 100% mine!

About the Book:
It is a simple combination of seeing + hearing + doing that = LEARNING! Researchers and educators have found that people retain 20% of what they hear, 50% of what they see and hear, and up to 90% of what they see, hear, say, and do. The system, called The Amazing Action Alphabet, offers a popular flip chart with alphabet characters and stories, a CD of each alphabet character, activity books, visual aids such as posters and placemats, and mini books.

The Amazing Action Alphabet approach is based on a series of engaging alphabet characters, involves seeing, hearing, and ‘doing’ physical actions, making it possible for children to retain more of their learning. The success of the system lies in the combination of multi-sensory, hands on experiences that engage and involve young learners. Esther continually receives enthusiastic feedback from parents and educators who have remarked how fun, simple and effective the Amazing Action Alphabet books are.

About the Author: (from MediaGuests site)
Esther Kehl established the SeeHearDoCompany LLC in 2006. She is a former elementary education teacher and reading specialist. While working in education, she saw the need for a comprehensive strategy to help students succeed in letter and sound acquisition. Not being able to find a comprehensive, user-friendly system on the market, she created her own system which she has continually been working on for 17 years. Her first book was published in 2004, and she continually works on new products that benefits the early learner. Her books have been highlighted on television programs, preschools throughout the United States, blogs, and newspapers.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crashers by Lindy S. Hudis (Book Review)

I was surprised at how quickly my attention was caught by Crashers by Lindy S. Hudis.  First let me tell  you how shocked I was/am at the fact that there is such a thing as vehicular accident fraud!  I really had no idea, so not only did I learn something new, but the fictionalized story was very captivating.

Overall, it is a good wake-up call to remind us that taking the easy way out of a situation is not always the right choice, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, and there are situations that can get much worse before they get better!

Such is the case for Shari and Nathan, who are engaged, and wanting to get out of debt.  When approached with a get-rich-quick scheme that seems easy, they find themselves in deeper than they want to be.

I loved the insight into the investigative side of the fraud as well, and thought Detective Louise Holley was wonderful.  This was a pretty quick read because it was hard to put down, and I constantly struggled NOT to skim ahead to see how things turned out.

Pick up a copy of Crashers and I can just about promise you will have a non-stop page turner in your hands, I enjoyed it and I'm glad I stepped away from my normal genres to give this one a try.  You'll learn a few things, you'll ask yourself if you could ever find yourself (or your loved-ones) in a similar situation, you'll hold your breath through some scenes, and you'll get a shocking twist in the story near the end.

I'll add one last note that this is a great book, but is probably best for adults due to mild language.

Crashers: A Tale of Cappers and Hammers
by Lindy S. Hudis
Bettie Youngs Book Publishers (April 27, 2012) ~ 290 pages 
Fiction / Thriller
Find Lindy on Facebook, Twitter and her website

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of the author in coordination with a Karma Media Review Campaign!

About the Book: From Amazon
Fraudulent car accidents is a multi-million dollar racket, involving unscrupulous medical providers, personal injury attorneys, and the cooperating passengers involved in the accidents and who also receive a portion of the illegal proceeds. Such is the fate of newly engaged, Nathan and Shari, whose joy is tempered by the dark cloud of mounting debt. A chance encounter with a stranger in whom Shari confides her troubles, proves fortuitous: he tells her of a get-rich-quick scheme that will put her and her fiance on easy street. Seduced by the chance to move from hard times to good times in no time, she finds herself acting as a stuffed passenger the victim in a staged auto accident. Shari gets her payday, but getting out and breaking free of the insurance fraud underworld will take nothing short of a miracle. A modern day cautionary tale that uncovers how the innocent get lured into the scheme of cappers and hammers.
About the Author: (from her site)

Lindy S. Hudis is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of a suspense novel, Weekends. Her screenplay “The Lesson” was made into an independent film and was screened at the Seattle Independent Film Festival and Cine-Nights in 2000. She lives in California with her husband and two children.
Read what other Karma Media Team Members had to say about Crashers:

*Disclosure: I received samples in exchange for my honest review in participation with this campaign. I am an Amazon Associate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THE Best Dill Pickle Recipe Ever, Includes Tweaks (and Shhhh - It's Easy!)

So, I have to give credit to my sister-in-law for hooking me on making home-made pickles!  I've made them for a few years now, and each time they turn out great.

I've made them using two different recipes, so I'll share the basic one and then tell you some of the variations and you can craft your own recipe and make it YOURS!

I'm going to assume you know how to do basic canning, or that you can find the basics online.  I'll tell you what I do, but I am by no means an expert!!

Disclaimer: I'm not a canning expert!!

Ball's website has a very nice section on canning, so if you want additional information visit them here to get started... but don't let NOT knowing what you are doing hold you back - it is EASY and FUN!!

:)  Did I make that clear?  I'm sharing what I do to make my pickles, I'm not an expert at all, so keep that in mind please.

What you need (the basics):
- Pickling Cucumbers (general rule of thumb seems to be 1 1/2 to 2 lbs per Quart canning jar)
- 2-3 Heads of Dill per jar
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds per jar
- 1/2 tsp Peppercorns per jar
- 3-5 peeled garlic cloves per jar (hubby loves garlic, so I tend to put 7+ in)
- 1/4 cup of chopped sweet onion per jar
- Brine (recipe follows) to fill jar to within 1/4 inch of top

Brine Recipe:
- 4 1/2 Cups Water
- 2 1/4 Cups White Vinegar (you can use Apple Cider Vinegar instead)
- 1/2 Cup Pickling Salt or Celtic Sea Salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt)

Put all ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil.
Set aside until you have filled your quart jars with ingredients, then fill to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar

Note:  I find that this brine recipe fills about 6 quart jars, so make it in multiples, ie, if you are going to do 2 dozen quart jars of pickles, start with a quadruple (4x) batch, so 18 C Water, 9 C Vinegar, 2 C Salt.

Basic Instructions: 
1. Wash your cucumbers.
2. Prepare your jars (wash/sanitize - using clean jars, I generally run them through the dishwasher using just water for 10 or so minutes and get them really hot, I also do this when making jams too)
3. Get your canning pot out, fill it with water and get it heating.
4. Fill a small pot with water and bring it to a simmer, you will use this for your quart lids
5. Pull all your ingredients out and organize them in your workspace so it is easy to fill the jars

Assembly Line Style of Filling Jars With My Helpers!
Filling the jars...note the flipped jars that were done the day before.

Fill the Jars (measurements are per jar, set them up assembly line style): 
1. 2-3 heads of Dill (the nice flowery yellow part of a bunch of dill)
2. 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
3. 1/2 tsp Peppercorns
4. 3-5 peeled garlic cloves
5. 1/4 Cup chopped onion
6. Cucumbers to fit
Here is where you need to decide the types of pickles you want: whole, spears, rounds for hamburgers, a combination, etc.  I personally put a combination of whole and spears.  I can generally fit 4-5 cucumbers in the jar, then add 5-10 more cut spears (make spears by cutting the cucumbers in quarters the long way).  Do not overfill the jars (not above the neck of the jar) as it will possibly cause your jars to not seal correctly during canning.
Sometimes it is easier to put the jars on their sides when filling them with cucumbers.
7. If you still have room in the top of the jar, you can add smaller pieces of cucumber, more garlic, more dill, more onions, etc.  Just do not overfill the jars.
8. Fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top with the Brine

Process the Jars for Preserving:
(Hopefully your canning water has come to a gentle rolling boil)
1. Make sure the tops of the jars are clean (wipe off any spices or ingredients so you get a good seal)
2. Take a lid from the simmering water and place it on the jar mouth
3. Take a ring and tighten it on the neck, keeping the lid in place
4. Do this for a "set" of jars, or the amount that will fill your canner
5. Make sure the water covers the top of the tallest jar by 1-2 inches
6. Boil for 15 minutes
7. Remove carefully and let cool on a counter or table

When completely cool, the jars should have a tight seal.  To check the seal, you press down on the middle of the lid.  If you hear a click, the jar did not seal, so you will have to re-process or store in the refrigerator.  If the jar lid is solid (no click), it is ready to be stored.

Now the tricky part - I flip the jars daily for 2 weeks to distribute the spices really well before storing them.

And now the fun part... Variations!!  The above makes a really good basic Dill Pickle.  You can add the following in order to tweak the taste and make the recipe your own:
1. Pickling Spices (follow the instructions on the spice jar/box)
2. Add Jalapeno peppers
3. Add Spicy Red Peppers
4. If you love garlic or onions (or okra, etc) fill a jar with those instead of cucumbers

Pickles made with Pickling Spices and Jalapeno Peppers, just before Canning.

Note: The cucumbers are slightly "cooked" during the canning process, which can make them a little less crisp.  To help crispness, wash the cucumbers the night before and store them in ice water or a clean cooler filled with ice.

Some people are able to do a quick batch of pickles in a little over an hour.  I tend to do 3-6 dozen quart jars at a time, and it generally takes 4 hours or so.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Revenge of the Vegetarian by Jim Tilberry (Book Review)

It has been a while since I've sat here in the living room and just laughed enough to catch the attention of the family, but I did that while reading through Revenge of the Vegetarian by Jim Tilberry with Patricia Van Winkle.  So if you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, read on... this book is for you if you need a laugh!

In this book, Jim covers a ton of information (some of the topics typically missed by other books)on vegetarianism, and he does it with humor... namely: 10 Great Reasons to Become a Vegetarian, What You Can Eat on a Vegetarian Diet, Veg Speak, Coming Out, Dead Vegetarians Speak Beyond the Grave, Quitting Meat, Answers to Questions from Vegetarians, Psycho Vegetarian, Converted Carnivores, Respect My Tofu, The Veggie Diary, Gift Buying for Vegetarians, Social Situations, Vegetarian Olympics, Vegetarian Zodiac, The Veggie Rap, Rise of the Vegocrats, What is Your V.Q.?, and A Look Ahead.

Honestly, one of the best parts of the book aside from the actual information is the humor.  It is done in such a way as to be highly entertaining and witty while imparting information.  For example, number two in 10 Great Reasons to become a Vegetarian says:
2. You get to choose the restaurant where you eat when out with friends. If someone picks a restaurant you don't like, in your whiniest voice say "But it's not vegetarian-friendly! There's nothing I can eat there."  The others in your group will relent and go with your choice.  Caveat: You may find that you're never invited to dinnar again by these same friends.
And the fun doesn't stop there, every single page is packed with Vegetarian tid-bits surrounded by witty humor.  I found Randy's Veggie Diary (page 40+) to be a hilarious read as he tried to become a vegetarian after Jim talked him into trying it.  A few trips to White Castle, Chicken Wings, Pepperoni, and Bacon all become challenges in his not-so-successful week.  I also loved The Veggie Rap, where Jim takes a look at the possible reasons why vegetables are less-appreciated - so true - all 7 examples made me shake my head with a smile.

So, there is a lot of fun to be had in this book, and I can say that I really think Vegetarians need to read it simply for the fun of it.  The tongue-in-cheek humor was a lot of fun to read, and should lighten the mood of just about anyone!

PS - the ink drawings are pretty funny too!

Revenge of the Vegetarian: A Humorous Spin on the World of Vegetarianism
by Jim Tilberry with Patricia Van Winkle
70 pages ~ $11.95 Available on Amazon
Non-Fiction / Lifestyle / Vegetarian / Humor

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of the author in coordination with a Karma Media Review Campaign!

About the Book: From Amazon
Written by a passionate vegetarian, "Revenge of the Vegetarian" is an amusing, irreverent, and often hilarious book that covers a range of topics about vegetarianism and the meat-eating culture. The author has his tongue firmly planted in cheek, while taking humorous jabs at a variety of easy targets. Get a silly lesson on how to deal with meat eaters in social situations. Read surprisingly funny interviews with famous dead vegetarians such as Gandhi, Socrates, and Ben Franklin. You'll even get a comical look at how the English language would change if an overly zealous vegetarian politician got his way. The book also poses a lot of "what ifs." What if there was a "Vegetarian Olympics"? What if vegetarians ruled the country? And what would a vegetarian horoscope tell you about your future? Also you'll learn some laughable techniques meat eaters can use to more easily quit their carnivorous habit. "Revenge" pokes fun at vegetarians, vegans, liberals and conservatives. But it pokes the most fun at meat eaters. This short entertaining book is ideal for any vegetarian or vegetarian wannabe with a sense of humor. Some adult language. Not appropriate for children.

Read what other Karma Media members have to say about Revenge of the Vegetarian:

 *Disclosure: I received samples in exchange for my honest review in participation with this campaign. I am an Amazon Associate.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rock N Learn DVD Giveaway (12 Winners, US, Rafflecopter, 8/27)

I had a blast reviewing Rock N Learn's Sight Words Level 2 with my boys (see my review here).

Giveaway Details:  The Karma Media Team is proud to bring you the Rock N Learn DVD Giveaway!  12 winners will be chosen and each winner will receive a Rock N Learn DVD of their choice.  Entry is easy via Rafflecopter.  Open to residents of the US.  The Giveaway ends 8/27 at 11:59 PM EST.

Good luck everyone!!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 10, 2012

Win Candy For a Year! (Easy Rafflecopter, US, Through 8/21)

Candy, Candy Candy! Who doesn't love Candy! But have you tried organic candy? What would you do if you could have some delicious all-natural candy right at your doorstep? Introducing YumEarth!   Here at Wendi's Book Corner, I've teamed up with Blog It Forward to bring you this great giveaway!!

YumEarth is a brand of candy produced by YummyEarth. Everything YummyEarth makes is certified organic or all natural, gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and has no chemical colors, artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup. This is why they are the #1 organic company in America! The company was founded by two dads to share healthier treats with their kids and are proud to share that each serving provides 100% of daily vitamin C. It has been called “The Best Lollipop I've ever tasted” by Today Show Food Editor Phil Lempert, YumEarth Organics Lollipops come in eight mouthwatering flavors: Very Very Cherry, Too Berry Blueberry, Strawberry Smash, Sour Apple Tart, Pomegranate Pucker, Razzmatazz Berry, Mango Tango and Wet-Face Watermelon. Featured as the “Snack of the Day” on the Rachael Ray Show, YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears have the quintessential texture of a traditional gummy bear with unique mouthwatering flavors: Pomegranate Pucker, Strawberry Smash and Sour Apple Tart.

YumEarth Candy is now available at Target! That's right, you have the option of buying the candy online or at your local store! Check this list to see YumEarth Candy is available at a Target near you. To celebrate the release of YumEarth Candy at Target, YummyEarth is sponsoring a giveaway of a YEAR'S WORTH OF CANDY to one lucky winner!

Enter on the rafflecopter form below! This giveaway is open to the US only. You are entering to 12 bags of YUMEARTH ORGANICS LOLLIPOPS and 12 bags of GUMMY BEARS. Must be 18+ to enter. Giveaway closes on August 21 at 11:59pm est. Only one person per household/IP address may enter. You only need to enter the giveaway on one of our blogs. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I did not receive any products, I did receive one link in this giveaway in exchange for sharing the giveaway with you.

Rock N Learn: Sight Words 2 Learning DVD (A Fun Way To Start Preparing Kids To Read)

If you have kids or work with kids, you will want to take note of Rock N Learn's fun music learning videos and cds. Our family was sent the Rock N Learn Sight Words Level 2 DVD to check out and we love it.  The videos are upbeat and fun, with great colorful characters that emphasize the importance of having fun and learning.  The songs are fun and catchy, and the kids will dance and sing along with the characters on the screen.  There are also snippets of real video footage (check out the black bear in the video below), which I think is great because it ties the video to real-life things.

Sight Words Level 2 covers 68 common sight words and has a bonus section for word shapes.  These words are on the Primer Dolch list, which is the widely recognized in the education field and covers pre-k through 3rd grade.  These words are important to learn by sight because they often don't always follow traditional phonics rules.

When developing this DVD, the creators worked alongside reading teachers to make sure kids would succeed AND have fun.

The kids love this DVD, which is great as a parent, because I know they are having fun AND learning, and it is especially great, as Logan is entering Kindergarten and Brandon isn't quite ready for pre-school but he is getting introduced to these words early.  I can feel great about letting them watch this DVD, and they don't even know that they are learning.  I can't wait to check out other Rock N Learn DVDs.

Another great thing about these is that they get kids interacting and learning on so many levels by encouraging reading (words are shown on the screen), hearing, and speaking (talk along with the characters).

Check out this sample clip from the Rock N Learn Sight Words Level 2 dvd (found on the Rock N Learn You Tube channel):

Rock N Learn has a great line of educational materials including DVDs, Audio CDs, workbooks and now the addition of iBooks.  They have over 50 products covering early childhood learning (preschool, kindergarden, grade school), languages, language arts, math, science and social studies.  They even have one for dealing with money and change (which my kids need!).

Use coupon code JQ7711 and get 25% off your entire purchase of DVDs and CDs at www.RockNLearn.com (US only).

Sight Words Level 2  DVD
 by Rock N Learn

DVD ~ $19.99
DVD With Sight Words 1 ~ $34.99
Cartoon / Learning ~ 61 minutes

Edition Reviewed: DVD - Review copy received through Karma Media in order to share my honest review with you.

Stay in touch with Rock N Learn: Visit their website, Follow them on Twitter, and Like them on Facebook.  They have also created a website www.worksheets-for-math.com to provide parents and teachers free downloadable study materials.

Check out what other Karma Media bloggers had to say about the Rock N Learn Sight Words 2 DVD:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green - Embrace the Unexpected In This Feel-Good Family Movie (Sneak Peek)

I was blown away by The Odd Life of Timothy Green!  Not only was it a very touching movie, but the actors were AWESOME... all of them!

The boy who plays 10 year old Timothy Green (CJ Adams) was one of the cutest 10 year old boys I've ever seen!  He brought such depth to Timothy throughout the entire movie, right along with his light-hearted smile and selflessness.

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton were beyond believable in their portrayal of Timothy's parents, and their grief was so real at the beginning of the movie when they learn that they really can't have their own biological children.  That combined with their celebrations and acceptance of Timothy's achievements and trials, as well as their acceptance that they made mistakes and would continue to do so and learn from them made them simply perfect as parents.

Odeya Rush was wonderful as Joni, the girl that befriends Timothy and accepts him for who he is.  She brought so much joy (and quirky fun - tell me you didn't just love what she did in the 'cherry on top' scene) to the movie.

While I'm talking characters, it was also great to see other wonderful actors and actresses who made up the supporting cast including: Ron Livingston, David Morse, Dianne Wiest, Lois Smith

Without giving too much away, I'll admit that my eyes teared up during at least two scenes, if not three, and I seriously DOUBT there was one dry eye in the theater by the end of the movie (yes it has a great ending, but there is one particular scene that you are just about certain to shed a tear or two in).

Cindy and Jim find out they are unable to have biological children of their own, and both are struggling to move on, so for one evening they give themselves the freedom to pretend they have a child, and they write down all the things their child would be/do... their child would have Cindy's kind heart, would score the winning soccer goal, would have Uncle Bub's humor, etc.  It is a very touching scene, and by the end, they place their "memories" in a box and bury it in the garden.

Later that night, there is a storm outside and Timothy enters their lives, complete with his leaves.  You then watch as they accept that Timothy is theirs, and make him a part of their lives.

Timothy has this way of unexpectedly touching the lives of the people around him with his honesty, laugh, encouragement and friendship.

This is a great movie, dealing with family, honesty, community, life, dreams, hope and so much more.  You will laugh... and you will probably cry... and you will laugh again, so go see Timothy and find out what he is all about!

The Odd Life of Timothy Green
by Disney
Find The Odd Life on Facebook and Twitter
In theaters August 15, 2012  ~ Rated PG ~ 1 hr 44 min
Comedy / Drama / Family

About the Movie: (From Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Academy Award®–nominated director/writer Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) brings enchantment to the screen with “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” It’s the inspiring, magical story of a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who can’t wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim—and their small town of Stanleyville—learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.

Disney presents “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” with Ahmet Zappa, Scott Sanders and Jim Whitaker producing, story by Ahmet Zappa and screenplay by Peter Hedges. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is slated for release on August 15, 2012.
Movie Clip From YouTube:

*Disclosure: I got to go to an advance screening of The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Review and Tour: Captain by Thomas Block

I found Captain by Thomas Block to be a very engaging and engrossing story.  I know next to nothing about aviation, short of the few flights we take every now and then, so I am certainly not speaking from any type of expert point-of-view - that is for the author, who retired as an airline pilot with a lot of experience.

This book gives readers an inside look at some of the possible situations being faced by today's airline pilots, crews, companies and passengers.

Thomas Block created some wonderful characters that will pull you into the story and keep your attention riveted to what is going on.  In a few situations, I found myself holding my breath as conversations played out.  I particularly liked the strength of Linda.  There was also a depth of emotions that you don't always see often in books.

One thing I've never particularly considered is how technology has affected the choices and views of pilots today vs. pilots from an older era.  When you rely on technology to do everything for you, you can loose some of the problem-solving skills that could mean the difference between life and death... and safety.

I also enjoyed looking at the airline situations from differing viewpoints - that of the pilot and crew (taking actions and making decisions as things unfold), and that of corporate, who is more concerned with money and numbers.

Join the flight crew and passengers on Flight-3 as the suspense heats up.  This fast-paced suspense packed book will keep you entertained to the end.

Thrillers and suspense are not my normally read genres, but I'm glad I stepped away from the norm to read Captain.  It is a wonderful story that kept me fully riveted.

Welcome to another great Karma Media Book Tour, where you will find honest reviews and insights into today’s authors and books.

Each tour stop is unique, so remember to check back with the tour daily.

 View the entire tour schedule here: Karma Media Book Tours

 This tour will feature:

Author: Thomas Block
Featuring the book: Captain
CreateSpace (April 7, 2012) - 348 Pages
Available in Paperback and Kindle ($16.99/$6.99)

About the Author:
Thomas Block has written a number of aviation-oriented novels, many which have gone on to acquire best-seller status in numerous countries.

His novel writing began with the publication of "Mayday" in 1979. That novel was rewritten with his boyhood friend, novelist Nelson DeMille in 1998 and remains on DeMille's extensive backlist. "Mayday" became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005. Other novels by Block include "Orbit" (a top bestseller in Germany, among other nations), "Airship Nine", "Forced Landing" (also done as a radio serializatoin drama in Japan), "Skyfall", "Open Skies" and "Captain".

Thomas Block is still writing both fiction and non-fiction, and has edited and updated his earlier novels into ebooks of all the major formats and also into new full-sized (trade soft cover) printed versions.

Visit Thomas Block at:  www.ThomasBlockNovels.com, www.Facebook.com/Captain.by.Thomas.Block and www.Facebook.com/ThomasBlockNovels

  About the Book:

'Captain' is his most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet . It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner's cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival.

'Captain' is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them.

 'Captain' is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.

'Captain' is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they've strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.

Disclosure: This tour was brought to you by Karma Media. As a participant of this book tour, I received a copy of the book in hardcopy or ebook format for the purposes of sharing my honest review with you.

If you are interested in joining Karma Media Book Tours or would like to explore the possibility of having Karma Media feature your book or series, we invite you to visit our team website at www.karmamediateam.com

*Disclosure:  I am an Amazon Associate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gutzy Gear - Let Your Child's Creativity Shine! Review and Giveaway

PhotobucketHave you seen Gutzy Gear accessories yet? If not, you've got to check them out.

There is a Gutzy Gear Backpack Strap Cover, which serves as the base of your child's creativity. Once you have that you decorate the straps with great velcro badges, or Gutzies.

The Gutzy Gear Straps can go on backpack straps, bag handles, duffle bag straps, guitar strap, scooter handle, luggage handle, light saber (don't ask!) etc.  The strap is about 11 inches tall, and the width is flexible as it is adjustable using the velcro closure strips, thus allowing it to be put on just about anything!

Here is Logan's backpack.  When we put on his Gutzy Gear strap covers, we went to our local Bed, Bath and Beyond to see what Gutzies they had.  As you can see, we had a lot of fun!  He gets to move the Gutzies around and can change his favorites around.

They pull off and on fairly easily with the use of velcro, which makes them easy to move around, and fun to trade with friends.  And I'm really impressed with the stitching detail.

While we were out, we also picked up a few sets to have on-hand for birthday gifts, and so far they have been a big hit.

One of the best things about Gutzies, is that there are a ton available already and they are always creating new ones.  Check out the new character line (Logan has GOT to get a few of these, so I'm thinking of creating some rewards for meeting goals), that includes favorite Super Hero figures along with fun cartoon characters.

Not only do they have great Gutzies, but they also have a place where kids can download/print some fun free posters and the badges from Series 1 and Series 2.

I loved reading about how Gutzy Gear began:  Gutzy Gear was created by cousins Lauren Bass and Wendy Koolik, after the pair wanted to create a children's line of accessories that promoted creativity while being personal, fun and interactive.  After finding their Grandmother's golf sweater filled with golf badges, they came up with the Gutzy Gear ideas.

Stay tuned for more great pictures from our upcoming Gutzy Gear Party!!!

Gutzy Gear (Accessories and prices vary)
by Gutzy Gear
Kids / Accessories / Creativity
Find Gutzy Gear: Facebook, Website

Edition Reviewed: Gutzy Gear Straps and Badges - Review copy received courtesy of Gutzy Gear in coordination with a Karma Media Review Campaign!

Read other great Karma Media reviews for Gutzy Gear Accessories Here:

Giveaway Details:  Open to residents of the US, Enter now through 8/24.  Easy Rafflecopter entries:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received samples in exchange for my honest review in participation with this campaign.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back-To-School BOGO at Famous Footwear

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Famous Footwear for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

FF-BiggestVictory-GIF_300x250(1).jpgAs the new school year approaches, it is time to start thinking about getting all the supplies from the class list, taking the kids to get some new school clothes, and getting some new shoes to replace the well-loved and well-worn ones from the past year... and Famous Footwear is here to help out with great brands and great prices, and a deal just for you.

With hundres of brand-name shoes and thousands of styles, you can be sure that you can find what you are looking for in their well-organized stores.

And right now, Famous Footwear want to make your shopping experience even better by giving you a coupon for 15% off your purchase and BOGO Half Off, making their already great prices even better (Rewards Members get 20% savings instead of 15%).  Click here to get your coupon: BOGO + 15% off Famous Footwear Coupon

If the store you are at does not have the shoe you want in the store, they will find it for you through home delivery or online at www.famous.com.  You can also order shoes online and have them shipped to the store where you can pick them up at no-charge (you won't need to pay for shipping).  

Additionally, Famous Footwear has a FREE Rewards Program, where you can earn 1 point for each $1 spent in-store or online, and for each 100 points, you will get a $5 certificate (up to $100 per year).  You will receive a special offer just for signing up.

What are you waiting for?  Sign up for their FREE Rewards Program (if you haven't already), go find the perfect new shoes for the new school year, and use your BOGO 1/2 Off + 15% (20% for Rewards Members) coupon between 8/2 and 8/18!  

Visit Sponsor's Site

SAVE on Your Next San Antonio Vacation or Outing

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of SAVE for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


Years ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting relatives in San Antonio.  We had a blast and I hope we get to go visit again soon.  The weather was wonderful, the people were nice, and we really had fun exploring The River Walk, The Alamo, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not, among shopping and eating great food.  We loved the boat tour along the River Walk.  It was a great way to learn about local places to visit, as well as getting to hear some of the local history and fun facts.

San Antonio is known as one of the nations most affordable vacation destinations, and now the SAVE – San Antonio Vacation Experience can help you save even more!  Explore the SAVE program and find over $600 in discounts to great places throughout San Antonio including theme parks, animal adventures, shops, hotels, historic tours and so much more.  

Another great thing about SAVE is that they have great deals on hotels that will fit everyone's budget, from luxery to budget prices, you will find a great hotel near some great attractions you'll likely want to visit!  Be sure to check out SAVE's Limited Time Offers for even greater savings on hotels and attractions!


Some Great SAVE Hotel and Attraction Partners:

SAVE Hotel partners include: Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Hyatt Regency San Antonio on the Riverwalk, San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel, Hilton Palacio del Rio, The Westin Riverwalk San Antonio and many more!

SAVE attraction partners include SeaWorld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn, Splashtown, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, San Antonio Botanical Garden, & more!

See What I Can Save For My Own Family (2 Adults, 2 Kids)

Hotel: The Westin Riverwalk San Antonio, we can save between $119 and $179

Sea World: Save $10 per person = $40

Six Flags Fiesta  (they have GREAT rides here!!!) : Everyone gets in at Kids price, or Buy One Get One

Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Save $1.00 each = $4

Natural Bridge Caverns: $2 off Adult, $1 off Kids= $6

Splashtown: $7 each = $28

As you can see, my family would save AT LEAST $200, and that is on the low side!

Six Flags_Poltergeist and Scream.tif

Follow @SAVEinSA and read about great offers and limited time offers being offered by SAVE and start planning your trip to San Antonio!

Visit Sponsor's Site

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