Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review - Jack Templar Monster Hunter (Book #1 of the Templar Chronicles)

About the Book

Title : Jack Templar Monster Hunter (Book #1 of the Templar Chronicles)
Author : Jeff Gunhus
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2012
Pages : 204
Recommended Age : 8 - 18
Summary : Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

My Review

I absolutely love this book, I was deciding whether to give it a 5 star or 4 because the "warning" part at the beginning of the book and in a few places along the way. They got kind of draggy and some parts unnecessary, I was a little bit turned off by it at one point and almost wanted to put down the book, I'm glad I hang on, that's why it earned a 5 star.

This book is packed with action and every minute you will be transported from one excitement to another heart racing danger, danger lurking around where Jack Templar & his friends have to fight off monsters, werewolf, trolls, zombies and harpies constantly. I don't remember reading books that has all of them in a book, quite an interesting mix of baddie guys. Even though its action at every turn the flow of the story is well paced where I was able to stop and catch my breath before I get caught up with another wave of excitement.

I wasn't too comfortable with the detailed description on the way the main characters slayed the monsters I especially dislike the part where the monsters and creatures attacked Auntie Sophie but than again if it gets into me means the author did a good job with the description, although I think its too much information for 8YOs to handle.

I am sure my 8YO boy, who is also an advance reader, will enjoy this book a lot but I would think this book will be more suitable for 13 YO & above, plus of course adults like me who love fantasy stories.


About the Author

Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Middle Grade/YA series The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. Jeff is also the co-CEO of a national company with over 4,000 employees that has been featured in national media for its unique opportunity for college students to learn entrepreneurial skills. He is the author of the motivational career guides No Parachute Required (Hyperion) and Wake Up Call (Seven Guns Press). After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active lifestyle in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with his kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

Remarks : This post includes affiliated links.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oh Baby! (Diary of a Real Payne, Book 3) - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Diary of a Real Payne Oh Baby by Annie Tipton
Title: Oh Baby! (Diary of a Real Payne, Book 3) 
Author: Annie Tipton 
Publication Date: September 1, 2014 
Publisher: Barbour Books 
Pages: 195 
Recommended Ages: 8 to 12 
Summary: In this final fabulous release in the Diary of a Real Payne series you’ll find yourself ROTFL with EJ’s hilarious adventures with a new little Payne. The Payne family has just adopted a roly-poly package of pudge with bright eyes and a sparkling smile. In true sisterly fashion, EJ can’t wait to teach baby Faith how to be amazing at everything (just like her big sis!). But when EJ learns that she’s losing her role as flower girl to the adorable newcomer in an upcoming wedding, it’s almost more than she can handle. In classic EJ form, she dreams up even more fantastic adventures for herself—promising colossal fun as you become part of her daydreams in Oh Baby!


You can purchase the first two books in the series through Amazon by clicking the book covers below.

The Buzz About Books 1 & 2

Book 1: "I am 7 years old, and I loved this book because of EJ's imagination and how it focused on the real meaning of Christmas. The book made me laugh, and I especially liked the part when EJ used the shopping cart to pretend to be a race car driver. She thought her mom's scarf was a yellow flag, and she stopped just before she crashed into the display of glue bottles. I liked EJ's character, and I read the book in about 5 days. When we had "Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character Day" at school, I dressed up like EJ Payne. I can't wait for the second book in this series!" ~ Emily E., Amazon

Book 1: "My 9-year-old foster daughter loved the book! She related well to EJ and her spunky personality and humorous outlook on life and what it hands you. Great lessons for her to learn, as well as entertaining. She read it in a matter of days and even chose reading it over playing Nintendo, which is a huge endorsement! I also enjoyed it and found it a fun and comforting read for this 40-something adult. Great job. We're really looking forward to Book 2 of EJ's adventures at camp! Thanks, Annie!" ~ Lfierbaugh, Amazon

Book 2: "Church Camp Chaos is a delightfully funny look into the highly imaginative workings of a tween girl, EJ Payne. The book cleverly uses a combination of diary entries, narration, and hilarious passages peeking into EJ's daydreams. The story is originally clever and, at times, very poignant. I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic book and I highly recommend this series to young girls in particular between the ages of 8 and 12 who also love Clementine, Judy Moody, and Ramona Quimby." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Book 2: "Curly, my 8-year-old bookworm, loved this book. The day it arrived in the mail I let her look through it. By that evening she brought the book to me to thank me and tell me she was finished. She read the entire book in one day and I don't think she ever put it down! She enjoyed EJ's adventures and the fun times she had at church camp. She told me the book was "funny." I appreciated the way the book treated family relationships and showed a loving family who works together and endures different situations together. EJ and her brother don't always get along but their parents encourage them to be kind and EJ grows to appreciate her brother and even his slightly obnoxious attempts at humor. I enjoyed the life lessons that EJ learned about trust, faith, and friendship and am glad that I can find books for my daughter to read that are humorous and fun while still promoting good values." ~ 5 Star Review, Lextin Academy, Amazon

About the Author

Award-winning author Annie Tipton made up her first story at the ripe old age of two when she asked her mom to write it down for her. (Hey, she was just two—she didn’t know how to make letters yet!) Since then she has read and written many words as a student, newspaper reporter, author, and editor. A native of Wooster, Ohio, Tipton received a bachelor’s degree in Communications at Milligan College in Northeast Tennessee. She currently resides in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize (winner's choice)
Contest Ends: September 30, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by Barbour Books and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Sweet & Bitter Almond, Red Dates and Pumpkin Soup

We love to drink soup, from the simple mixed vegetable soup to herbal soup, any type of soup coz we gotta have soup at dinner time.  Today I am sharing with you a nourishing soup that only requires 4 ingredients which you can grab at any supermarket.  The recipe calls for different amount of sweet & bitter almond but because I bought premixed package so I simply just put 3 tablespoon of it into the soup.

If you are cooking over the stove in a stew pot than you have to boil it for about 4 hours. For me, I made this the night before using my thermal pot.  The next afternoon DinoPapa cook a simple lunch for himself and had it with the soup.

While boiling the ingredients, my nose was being overpowered by the sweetness smell from the red dates, I thought perhaps I had put in too many and the soup will probably turn out to be too sweet.  When I drank it later there were no strong red dates sweetness, instead there is the sweetness from the pumpkin with a little hint of almond, it is quite tasty actually.

Why is it a nourishing soup?
So, what's so nourishing about this soup other than perhaps the pumpkin which aids in bowel movement?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

DinoFamily's September 2014 Term Holiday Fun

A few days ago DinoBoy said in a somewhat sad tone "This September there will be nothing for me because I have to go to XXX (student care's name)."  Little did he know that this Mama has lined up some weekend fun activities for him to enjoy.  Why ONLY the weekends you asked?  Sadly, this Mama is unable to take leave for the whole week or even a few days because this Mama does not have too many annual leave left *sigh*  So, we shall make the most out of weekend and have an enormous time enjoying it.  Here is what I have planned for us~

Fun-cation @ United Square
We are fans of Geronimo Stilton, so how can we miss the FIRST live show in town?!!!  Can you hear us squealing and screaming with excitement???  We are getting ready for some cheddarfic action with Geronimo Stilton at United Square.

Kids can look forward to an engaging mousey adventure filled with games, dance, songs and a whole lot of fun! Get your paws ready to tap and clap along!

OMG!  Meet & Greet sessions, FOC too!  We must not miss this!!  We'll just have to queue to get a Meet & Greet pass 1 hour before each show, only the first 50 families will get to Meet & Greet Geronimo, Thea, Trap & Benjamin Stilton after the show.

Catch Geronimo Stilton ‘Live’ Shows / Meet and Greet!
Show Dates : 03 to 15 September 2014
Show Time : Mondays to Fridays 2pm and 7pm
Weekends : 2pm, 5pm and 7pm
No shows on 9 Sept, Tuesday.
Show Venue : Atrium, Bastment 1

Total Turtle Takeover at City Square Mall!
Are you a Cowabunga!!! fan too?  This September, be prepared to meet the familiar heroes in a half shell – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The exciting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ’Live’ On Stage will take place during the September school holidays at Singapore’s first eco-mall, City Square Mall. 

Look forward to meeting the Turtles – Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo – join in the action as they share some tips they have learnt from Master Splinter.

Gosh another Meet & Greet session not to be missed!  There are 50 Meet & Greet passes to be redeemed, join the queue with your minimum spending of $50* receipt 1 hour before each show to get a pass.

If you are catching the "Live" show anytime from 05 to 14 September, stay back for the Turtles TV Nights and watch episodes from season 2 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at B1 Fountain Square from 8pm to 9pm for free. There are also wide range of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nickelodeon merchandise for sale from 08 to 14 September 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ‘Live’ Shows / Meet and Greet!
Show Dates : 06 to 14 September 2014
Show Time : Mondays to Fridays: 2pm & 7pm
Sat & Sun: 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
Show Venue : Level 1 Atrium, City Square Mall

3D Turtles Floor Art: Snap & Win!
This, we are definitely NOT going to miss it!  A unique Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D Floor Art, shown for the first time and exclusively at City Square Mall.

Find the 3D Turtle Floor Art at L1 Atrium, strike a pose and share your photo on Instagram with the hashtag #TurtlesAtCitySqMall and stand to win $50 worth of Metro vouchers! Only 20 winners will be selected, based on the creativity of your photo and the number of likes garnered.  Contest runs from 21 August to 14 September * Instagram accounts have to be public to qualify. Other Terms & Conditions apply.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Once is NEVER enough on the Skyline Luge Sentosa

When I received the media invite to the Skyline Luge Sentosa I was excited because I know DinoBoy will enjoy this but at the same time I was scared.  I am not a fan of height, especially those that mean I am hanging high up in the air with nothing to hold on for my life.  Regardless, I still went ahead to confirm our attendance because to see my son happy and have a chance to experience something new & dangerous is more important than my little fear or phobia. 

Frankly, taking the Skyline ride for the first time, I was petrified!!!  Sitting strapped down by a safety bar on a chair that hangs on the cable by a small "metal thing"and moves slower than a snail uphill with the feet dangling below was way too much for me to handle.  The noise made by 2 Luge karts hanging below our chair is affecting me too, I tried to distract myself by chatting with Adora and taking photos.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Finding Fuzzy: A "You-Decide Tale" of a Lost Friend (Sweet T Tales) - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Finding Fuzzy: A "You-Decide Tale" of a Lost Friend (Sweet T Tales) 
Author: Cat Michaels 
Illustrator: Irene A. Jahns 
Publication Date: March 26, 2014 
Publisher: 2101 Ink 
Pages: 44 
Recommended Ages: 5 to 10 
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Illustrated chapter book for early readers (Gr. K-3)

Blue sky ...

Warm sea ...

Sugar-sand beach ...

The perfect family vacation on the Carolina coast ...

Except the trip takes a nosedive when Jenna loses Fuzzy, her plush blue rabbit pal. Jenna learns to carry on without him. But when she stumbles across a secret, she faces the toughest decision of her young life. And YOU, the reader, will help her make that choice and come up with the ending of this You-Decide tale. Don't worry. Cat shows you how in her book and on her website.

So, slip on your flip-flops and join Jenna at the shore. It's time to decide YOUR ending for Finding Fuzzy.

Caution: Irene A. Jahn's ocean-themed watercolors have been known to cause beach fever.
"Finding Fuzzy" placed second in the Purple Dragonfly Writing contest, a national contest for children's book authors, in the category of chapter books.

Book Preview


The Buzz About the Book

"Finding Fuzzy is an early chapter book featuring the opportunity for children to create their own ending to a sweet, summertime story. The main character, Jenna, has a decision to make when she discovers that her beloved stuffed bunny she had lost is now being used to protect a litter of kittens. After weighing out all of the possible outcomes, it is up to the reader to decide what happens next in the story. I thought this was a unique concept that will interest children, especially ones who are interested in writing their own stories (like my daughter!). I recommend this book to parents, homeschoolers, and teachers with children between the ages of 5 and 10." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

"The story is sweet, and suitable for all children. The book is set up to get kids to think and discuss what they would do in a certain situation--in this case, giving up a precious friend (the stuffed bunny.) I could see using this in either a classroom setting or as a bedtime story. The watercolor illustrations really capture a beachy mood and create a great visual for kids as well.. " ~ 5 Star Review, Nikki B., Goodreads

"Cat Michaels has put young readers in a position to solve the dilemma. Readers must brainstorm and utilize their critical thinking skills to write the ending to Jenna's story. This quick to read chapter book has small colorful illustrations that help readers imagine the beach. Readers will also find that the author has created a world where they use all five senses. The back of the book has tips for parents and teachers to help their readers.. " ~ 5 Star Review, Kristi B., Goodreads

"This is a book with a difference. The space where the ending should be is blank, leaving readers with the opportunity to take a far more pro-active role in the unfolding of the story. It's time to get creative. It's time to give the story your own ending! There's room for a picture as well, so the budding author can test out their illustration skills too!" ~ 5 Star Review, Peachy Emma, Amazon

"The genius here is that Cat has picked the perfect storyline to make your would be writers put themselves into Jenna’s shoes and truly understand how she feels.It’s the stuffed animal, every child has one and every child is very attached to it. This is a great book for it's educational value as far as letting the kids use their imagination to come up with their own conclusion. ----5 stars for this one!" ~ Bookroom Reviews, Amazon

About the Author

CAT MICHAELS started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. After earning an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas, she spent two decades helping students from kindergarten to college reach their potential.

She also managed communication and resource development programs for an international high-tech company that included writing press releases and articles for trade journals. After recession and downsizings, she returned to her education roots, serving at a community college as a writing coach and learning specialist for students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities.

Cat spins tales of everyday life, with a twist of magic or twinge of mystery, that open young minds to new ways of thinking and looking at the world. Illustrations by watercolor artist Irene A. Jahns help bring that world to life. Cat and her family live in North Carolina where she designs playful gardens, dabbles in all things digital, and writes.

* Download free pdf of chapter 1 and You-Decide pages by visiting http://www.catmichaelswriter.com/finding-fuzzy-a-you-decide-tale-of-a-lost-friend.html *

FREE Short Story Offer

Subscribe by email to Cat's Connections to receive updates, special offers, and to be among the first to hear about new releases by Cat Michaels. PLUS, when you sign up, you will receive a short story penned just for adults, Driving Down to Dillon: A Very-Short Story of Love and New Beginnings by Cat Michaels. Click on the cover below to subscribe to Cat's Connections.

PLUS... email subscribers to Cat's Connections will also receive 5 extra in the giveaway below.

Driving to Dillon by Cat Michaels

* Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $30 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize
Contest ends: September 19, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. One winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cat Michaels and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Simple Almond Butter Cake

I have not been baking since I don't know when, so last weekend I decided that I will TRY to bake something because I think my flour and ingredients are going to be expired soon (after checking, they are not).  I flipped through my many cake books and finally decided to bake an almond cake since I have all the ingredients except for milk.

That Sunday I accomplished so much that I am so proud of myself.  In the morning I went to NTUC to gather the ingredients. I baked AND cooked a 3 dish + 1 soup dinner for us and my sis' family.  This almond cake recipe is so easy and simple that I could start the preparation while watching my soup boiling on the stove.

The last time I baked this cake I put too little almond flakes on top so this time I make sure that they cover every corner of the batter.  When I open my oven to remove the cake the aroma of baked almond flakes fills my kitchen, it makes me want to cut a slice to enjoy with my cuppa.

I always have difficulty in storing my cakes because the containers I have are either too small or too big.  I managed to find this rectangle box from Daiso with the right size and height plus the cover is in my favourite color, best part is that it cost only $2, it does not matter that the box is not air-tight since it will be consumed within the next 2 days.  Now perhaps this will make me bake more cakes in the near future.

Till my next bake post, hope you will try your hands in making this simple almond butter cake.

Almond Butter Cake

by Jennifer Lim
Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 40mins
Keywords: bake dessert nuts cake
Ingredients (10-12 slices)
*140g self raising flour
*140g castor sugar
*50g milk
*2 eggs
*150g butter, soften
*50g ground almond
*Some almond flakes

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line an 8x3x3 inche loaf pan with baking paper.
2. Sieve the self raising flour and ground almond (optional), set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter & caster sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mix to combine.
5. Add milk, mix to combine.
6. Add the flour & ground almond 1/3 at a time. Mix to combine.
7. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40mins.
8. Remove from oven and let it cool on a wired rack for about 10mins.
9. Remove cake from the pan and let it cool down completely before storing.

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