Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Celebrating Dads 2014

On most mornings DinoPapa will be sleeping while we go about doing our stuffs and getting ready to leave the house by 715am.  This morning DinoPapa was up early and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the father & son pair, both feeling bright and chirpy.

This rare photo of them makes me realized that because of his work commitment DinoPapa was not able to be as involved as he wish to be with DinoBoy.  Sometimes I can sense his disappointment, sadness or frustration when he is unable to join a family outing or a gathering with our friends. 
Father's Day falls on 15 June 2014, I would like to celebrate this day year in a special way by hosting a photo contest!  Post a photo with a short caption on "I love my Dad because", please read contest rules below on the photo rules & requirements.

I have not think about the prize yet since I just decided to do this contest 10mins ago before I started to write this post but I will update it once I have decided on it.  However if you like to sponsor a prize for my contest I'll be super duper happy too!  Just let me know via an email to jennlimbh(at)gmail(dot)com.

Updated on 15 June 2014

We've got a prize~  Its a beautiful framed up scrapbook layout sponsored by Susan from A Juggling Mom~ WOOHOO!  You can insert 1 photograph in the layout, the red frame will definitely brightens up the area where you place it on.

Photo Contest Rules

Contest runs : 1 - 30 June 2014
Open : Singapore
Prize : A framed up scrapbooking layout
How to enter : Post a photo in Instagram with a short caption on "I love my Dad because...", include the hashtag #celebratingdadssg and tag us @din0mama.
Photo requirements : Photos MUST include a DAD that is related to you.  It can be your child(ren) with his dad or grandparents, you with your dad or father-in-law. 
Terms & Condition : A winner will be drawn the old school way; names in a box and DinoPapa will pick a winner.  Winner will be notified within 24 hours after the contest ends and winner will have 48 hours to respond.  Failure to do so will render the draw void and a new winner will be picked.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble - Book Review

Noah Zarc Blog Tour Button FINAL

About the Book

Title: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble (Book #1)
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: Evolved Publishing (2nd Edition)
Number of pages: 214
Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn't be better. But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth… for the second time.

My Review

I have never been a science-fic fan, don't get me wrong, I loved and grew up watching Star Wars and Star Trek.  Aliens are cool, I even watch Ben10 with my 8YO boy and enjoy each episode as much as he does but stuffs like futuristic terminology - not so cool.

Well, there are no aliens in this book and I can assure you that the only weird futuristic theory is Hamilton's handkerchief explanation about the time travel.  Instead you have the modern day Noah's Ark; the Noah Zarc family, travelling through time and era in their huge ARC or Animal Rescue Cruiser; an enormous snub-winged manta ray shaped collecting a pair of animals in hope to save the animal world.  Sounds peaceful and original enough.  However, throw in a twelve year old old with a love of adventure or anything exciting, a big bad guy, a stowaway, a dangerous rescue mission and we have all the elements that makes a great book.

Noah is born as a paraplegic, being bound to a wheelchair his whole life, I can understand his yearning for freedom to move around without restriction, the ecstatic feeling when he is floating and moving weightlessly while travelling in space or when he is piloting the spaceship.  Freedom tastes so sweet for this boy who is so full of life.

I particularly highlighted this when I read it "Everyone enters this world with some kind of handicap.  Whether it's the place they live, the family they're born into or the weakness of their legs, no one has a perfect life.  What makes each of us special is how we deal with our circumstances."  Well said Mum!  I'm glad that the author put this in the story to serve as a reminder to kids.  Not many of us can focus and rejoice on the good side of our life, the kids will have to know about this earlier in their life.

This science-fic book is well written, even with the Star Trek settings there were not too much technical details that will probably confuse the young readers.  Although this Mama is confused with the calculation of years to jump forward or backward to get to that exact time and location of the event by tracing the DNA of time streams.  What?  DNA of time streams???  Ok I think I better leave these calculations to the younger minds.

The Buzz About the Noah Zarc Books

Book 1: "Pease's strength as a storyteller lies in his ability to connect multiple time periods imaginatively, as well as Noah's excited, fast-paced narration." ~ Publishers Weekly

Book 1: "If I had read this book at age 10, I think it would have made me love SF just as much as reading Asimov did. If you like the non-stop action and humor of Rick Riordan's Olympians books, I think you'll also like Noah Zarc." ~ Sher A. Hart, book blogger and author

Book 2: "This is another great mind-bender. The wild time jump details are fabulously thought out and cause some unexpected results." ~ Michelle Isenhoff, Children's Author

Book 2: "A well-written, adventurous read for young readers and even adults, Noah Zarc blasts through space and into your imagination." ~ TKristufek, Amazon Reviewer

Book 3: "I was completely captured by the characters, the action and the issues and questions: set in fantasy but integrating concepts and engaging readers with a fun tale that teaches as it entertains." ~ Gaele, Amazon Reviewer

About the Author

D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.

* $25 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: June 11, 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. A 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 the 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, D. Robert Pease 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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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew - Book Review


About the Book

Title: Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew: The Super Secret
Author: Melissa Perry Moraja
Publication Date: May 5, 2014
Publisher: Melissa Productions
Pages: 154
Recommended Ages: 6+ (read-aloud)
Summary: Up until a few days ago, nothing extraordinary had ever happened in ten year old Josh Wunderkind’s life - except eating a whole pot of pasta by himself. But that all changed after a mammoth-sized bird hit him smack on the face with a glob of neon green bird poop, triggering his superhuman Wunderkind ability and leaving him with the responsibility of caring for a baby bird he named Max. Now Josh was just like his older brother and twin sister Madison-super extraordinary! But what Josh didn't realize was that being superhuman wasn't all fun and games.

And things only got more complex in Josh’s life when his two siblings and a couple neighborhood friends persuade him to lead a super crime-solving, neighborhood news team—the Gumshoe News Crew. But not before they agree on the Super Secret and complete Gumshoe Boot Camp.

Find out what the Super Secret is. Will the Gumshoe News Crew complete boot camp? Or will Josh let his team down?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop 2014 - Geronimo Stilton

CBW Kid Lit Giveaway Hop 2014 - Banner - FINAL

Its Children's Book Week and we want to celebrate this week with not just one giveaway from the DinoFamily but a whole list of giveaways!  This Kid Lit Giveaway Hop runs from 12th to 18th May 2014 and is hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews.

Our family have always love books since we were young, thanks to our dear Mum who packed us up and out of the house for our weekly trip to the library, regardless of the weather.  When I became a parent I was determined to make DinoBoy a book lover too and I have succeeded!  Mum will be so proud!

A few days ago while trying to decide which book to recommend and giveaway for this blog hop, I hit a snag as I have too many choices!  I turned to DinoBoy for help, I asked him which book(s) will he recommend to a friend who is not too keen to pick up a book to read but chooses the IPad or mobile phone or computer to play games instead.  He gave me a big grin and said "I've got a great book for him." before heading off to the mini library in his room.  He returned a second later with this book - Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye (Geronimo Stilton, No. 1)

"This is MY first Geronimo book that made me want to read more about his adventures, this friend will surely love it!" said the boy excitedly.

Well, truth to be told, I was not a Geronimo Stilton fan because there were too many fanciful fonts on each page, I was afraid that DinoBoy will think it is right to start writing in funny fonts in his school work.  Turned out that I worry too much.  I started to read this book about a clumsy scatty-cat mouse who is the editor of The Rodent Gazette and fell in love with him too.  Besides enjoying his adventures I learn something too, things that I know but not in details and will never search to learn more about on my own.  So yupe, Geronimo Stilton is allowed to stay in the home.

So in a span of a year or so, DinoBoy's Geronimo Stilton collection has grown from 1 to 50+ books and it's growing still.  Here is a photo of his collection, all 42 books with at least 10 books lying all over the house, ready for him to pick it up whenever he feels like reading.  We recently just added The Hunt for the Golden Book to the collection. 

His collection does not includes Thea Stilton series coz in his own words "That's girls books Mom~"  Well, we are not going into this girls books-boys books thing so we are including Thea Stilton in our giveaway!  Good luck every one!

Giveaway Details

Prize : 2 Geronimo Stilton or Thea Stilton books (Paperback), of course you can choose 1 of each series.
Open : International
Giveaway period : 18 May 2015, 2359hrs
Enter : Use the rafflecopter widget to enter this giveaway
Note : The books will be mailed directly to the winner from Book Depository or Amazon.

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Updated 06 August 2014
I have deleted the email address of the participants for privacy purpose.

Don't forget to hop onto the other link in this blog hop to enter and stand a chance to win some great books for your children!

Disclaimer : This post contains affiliated links.

Four Fiends - Book Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Four Fiends (The Countdown), 2nd Edition
Author: Nikki Bennett
Publication Date: February 16, 2014 (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Independent: Firedrake Books LLC Pages: 215
Recommended Ages: 8+
Summary: The Four Guardians of the world have gone missing. They’ve been kidnapped by some of the most diabolical fiends that ever existed. Now, four misfit kids from different parts of the world must band together to save the Guardians. Along the way, they learn to work together, as they confront and conquer their deepest fears.


My Review

Four children from four different countries and backgrounds, each with their own individual "flaws" were chosen by the Golden Dragon to come together and travel far o rescue the Four Guardians from the Four Fiends.

JinJing - a gentle giant who is chunky, shy and awkward at all times and is constantly bullied by her peers.
Pietro - an insecure boy who couldn't turn down a dare and love to spin tales into unbelievable stories to make others take notice of him.
Kate - a confident girl who is not afraid to stand up for herself but finds it hard to ask some one else's for help when she needs it.
Saburo - a boy with leg problem trying to behave like any normal kids but sometimes he will use his aching leg as an excuse to gain sympathy from his friends.

Do you find these "flaws" familiar?  I believe they can be found in every individual, in both kids and adults.  Most of us will try to hide them or use them to our advantage in some ways or other, but remember, overdoing any of them and it will be damaging to any relationship.

The Four Fiends are Deviousness, Ignorance, Gluttony and Chaos, the four children has to fight their own fiend with their magic weapons.  I like the choice of magic weapons the author gave each child, they look so simple, normal and useless but in time of danger they prove to be more powerful then anything swords or big guns.  These four children started the adventure as strangers and parted their ways at the end of the mission as good friends, and as lifelong friends no doubt.

The story line is simple and but captivating at the same time, any 8 year old or older kids or adults will love the story.  I know I love it and read it at every opportunity I had to finish reading the book in 2 days.

In the adventure, there is a twist of tale about the famous stories of Nian, New Jersey Devils, the Gods of Olympia and Pandora Box.  These are great extension of teaching units which the parents can do with their children.

However there were there were a few typo errors in the story that I was not happy about, the author should have proof read them more carefully.  Then there is the term the author used to represent Grandfather as spoken in Chinese.  The correct spelling of the words should be "Gong Gong" as indicated in this Chinese English PinYin Dictionary and "Gon gon" does not exist in the Chinese ideogram.

The Buzz

"This was one of the most entertaining reads for the whole family we have found in a long time. The characters are very believable, and I am always a sucker for heroes that have to find their way. The reading is very fluid and easily understood by the little kids when read aloud (sounds silly but anyone trying to do this will tell you it's not as easy a thing to achieve as it sounds) and the kids all seem to enjoy the story. The history is easily accessible even without a lot of research or background knowledge. The kids are very motivated to research and learn more on their own because this story has captured their interest. I already have many home learning lessons in mind using this book and have begun developing them with my kids. I think this is a book that will be found in classrooms very soon! Great job! I'm looking forward to more soon!!!" ~ 5 Star Review, Mariah W., Amazon

"Excellent read in and of itself, and provides excellent, character-building source material for reading to youngsters. The characters are well written and realistic, and the storyline is cleverly written and intelligent." ~ 5 Star Review, Alia K., Amazon

"Fantastic read. I loved the characters in this book so much that I re-read to my 9 year old after finishing it. I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes stories about adventure and believing in yourself." ~ 5 Star Review, Keith, Amazon

About the Author

Nikki BennettNikki Bennett is an author and world traveler currently living in Japan. She loves traveling, and incorporates all the culture and folklore she can from the countries she visits into her stories. Nikki has two books out right now. Her first book, FOUR FIENDS is a MG fantasy adventure and her newest book, MUKADE ISLAND is a YA adventure/fantasy (think Lord of the Flies meets LOST, it it was set on a different world!) Find out all about Nikki's books at www.worldofnikki.com

Website | Author Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

* Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) 
Contest ends: May 31, 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. A 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 the 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, Nikki Bennett 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.

Disclaimer : I received a free electronic copy of the Four Fiends in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Are you expecting too much from your child's teachers?

Have you ever been in situations where your friends complained about their children's teachers?  How the teachers are "not doing their job." or "dunno how to teach.", unable to engage their child, lazy, slow in teaching etc.  I have, and many a times I wonder if the teachers are really "not doing their job" or we are expecting much more from them.

I have expectations from DinoBoy's teachers too, however I also choose to put my utmost trust on them that they will be able to impart their knowledge to him, influence him so that he yearns to learn more.  That does not mean that I am not involved with his school life, even though he attends student care after school where his will finish his homework, I take time to check his work to make sure that he is doing ok academically.

There are almost 30 students in a class and the classroom is full of activities at every minute.  Coincidentally, a friend posted a status about her kid's teacher in her facebook and got a few responses from her friends, one of her friend wrote this and I think she speaks for most, if not all teachers.
Well, being a teacher myself, I agree with you that the teacher should be mindful of what she/he say or do but I guess that's one rotten apple that shouldn't mean all are bad.

In terms of classroom management skills, kids nowadays, no doubt, are very vocal. No noise doesn't necessarily equate to good classroom management skills. There are also constructive noise in instances like group work, group writing or reading a big book where teachers will discuss the big book with pupils. Kids do get excited and when they do, they tend to speak all at the same time even though they are class rules like 'raising your hand' and 'waiting for your turn to speak' or 'be polite in your responses'. This is where the teacher will continuously remind them of the class rules and how they should respond. It is not easy to be aware of what 30 pupils (in a lower primary class and 40 for upper primary class etc.) are speaking/doing at the same time throughout every lesson.

At every lesson, you would have kids who want to use the restroom, have a sip of water and also have complains of their peers disturbing them etc. while you, the teacher are teaching or checking through their work as you walk around in class or helping those who are struggling.

Teachers do care and are mindful with the exception of a few and it would definitely help too if parents reinforce good behaviour and social skills. Sometimes, a good teacher can do so much but due to the lack of home support of some parents and their parenting skills, we too end up with kids bringing the bad language or behavior to class and influencing their friends. - A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous

It has never crossed my mind to micro manage the teachers as I find there is no need to do so.  As it stands currently, I'm already up to my neck trying to managed the boy's school schedule, family and work demands all at the same time.  If I have any hint of extra energy left I'd probably spent them sleeping, surfing the net or watching tv (yupe, I'm so tied up till I have lesser chance of watching my favourite tv series).  I do my part as a parent by ensuring that DinoBoy finishes his school work and hand them up on time, spellings are learn and tested.  I don't set a timeline for the teachers to mark them or return the work to the students because I believe the teachers have their own schedules and they have good time management skills.  A teacher only gets to spend so many hours in the school and probably busy as a bee, that's not counting the number of hours they spent at home doing research on curriculum, lesson plans etc.

I have some blogging mummy friends over at my blog to share their views on their perspective of a good teacher and their expectations from them.

*** *** ***

Actually to me, as long as teachers don't call me to complain about my children, it is good for me. But I will appreciate feedback on my children's progress in school via email every term - which actually doesn't happen. I prefer most "homework" to be done in school because the teacher will be able to guide them through it versus not being able to complete it at home because they do not understand it. It has also been a practice for spelling books to be returned for parent's signature every week. But if it doesn't, I don't think that's a big issue. - Adeline Oon

~ ~ ~

Too often we judge a teacher by what we hear or the work our kids bring back. Too little we see the actual efforts of the teachers; staying up at night preparing for lessons/marking; buying learning/decorative materials out of their own pockets; making every effort to make learning fun in the class. I don't want a teacher who is just good in PR (with the parents), knows how to please parents. I rather a teacher who makes every effort to make learning fun, sees a potential in my kid despite his weaknesses and have a never give-up attitude on my kid. Returning of spelling books/homeworks are mere superficial basis of how good a teacher is. In short, I see a good teacher base on her teaching attitude & beliefs never mind if I don't get regular updates from her. - Elin

~ ~ ~

Based on my own schooling experience, and with my husband being a teacher, a good teacher to me is one who is dedicated to teaching and motivates the children positively. more of, "Yay! you scored a B4 for your O level chinese! well done!" and none of, "you're the one person who pulled down the entire class passing percentage!" - these are actual words my teachers said to me.

You will be able to tell a good teacher from the bad cos the children will all love these teachers, no matter how fierce they are said to be. My DM was greatly feared but loved at the same time by all the naughty students. and they actually learn something from these teachers (may or may not be academic related, but definitely positive).

As for homework, to me, it's more of a revision from the day of teaching. so i don't expect a lot of homework, just a reasonable amount (e.g. 2 pages max on a topic learnt today for open-ended, 4-5 pages max if it's MCQ). - Mabel Lee

I think a good teacher is one that passes on the love of learning to children. Not the knowledge but the love of gaining knowledge which will lasts forever. I hope my boys will love going to school so much because of his teachers and friends. - Cen-Lin Ting

~ ~ ~

A good teacher is someone who is a role model, motivates and inspires children. Not returning the spelling book weekly, I don't think we need to penalize the teacher on this as they are also busy people. I am an educator myself and I know the hefty amount of admin work to do. Homework is not a compulsory thing but at the end of the day, when a child learns something about moral or a topic, a learning is achieved. - Allison Tan

~ ~ ~

Base on personal experience. A good teacher is one that is able to inspire and motives. We need to understand and learn, not understand to be tested. Doing homework and spelling is a form of testing to gauge how much a child has learn. If the teacher was an engaging teacher you do not even need to do homework. You just need to pay full attention in class. I went from normal technical stream to express stream not because my teachers gave me tons of homework and corrected my spelling in time. I was motivated because I had engaging teachers. - Irene Soh

~ ~ ~

For me, as long as the teacher is someone the child looks up to, gives me feedback when feedback is due (like when child is not meeting expectations) I'm ok. A bad teacher is one who doesn't even know the student enough to give feedback. but of course as parents, we also must manage expectations. - Jiahui Lu

~ ~ ~

I would love it when teachers give feedback on child's progress on a regular basis rather than just throw the bomb at us during PTM (Parent Teacher Meeting). Spelling book and homework to me is not exactly on the top priority cos i know and understand the heavy admin work of being an educator. Motivating and inspiring and engaging children are what I hope a teacher can have but sometimes these can be so immeasurable. - Connie Huang Low

~ ~ ~

Every teacher has her/his own teaching style just like every child has her own learning style. As much as we do not want our children to go through a one-size fits all education system, we must also try to understand the different methods teachers may use in the classroom, and not compare between teachers. As a parent, I would recommend that the parent speak to the teacher to better understand the teaching approach she adopts instead of flaring up without basis yet simply by comparing. Also, there is no basis in saying the lousy class gets lousy teachers. that is labeling not only the teacher but her child's progress in school too. - Nadia Efron

*** *** ***

So, are you asking for unrealistic performance from your child's teachers?  Do you agree with what I have shared in this post? Share your view by leaving them in the comment box below.

Mrs D's Chapter Books - Book Blast & Giveaway

About Book 1

Title: The Trees Have Hearts 
Author: Mrs. D 
Publication Date: March 31, 2014 
Publisher: Mrs.D. Books Publisher 
Number of pages: 41 
Recommended age: 6 to 10
Summary: A Mom's Choice Award Winner

The story of a young girl, left friendless because she could not speak a new language, will touch your heart. It will take your child into the imaginary world of a little girl who moved to America from a different country. Unable to speak English, the lonely girl could not find friends. She lived in an old house with a small garden, where three blooming trees and the mysterious wind became her first imaginary friends. The garden friends developed a wonderful friendship with the lonely girl, and helped her overcome her fears and worries. Through the story, they taught her how to make real friends and helped her cope with difficult moments while adapting to new surroundings. Unforgettable characters will open a beautiful imaginary world to young readers, inviting them to share the fears, tears and joys of a little girl. The story will teach the true meaning of friendship while showing readers the beauty of nature. This book will open an unknown imaginary world through the eyes of a child...

Book Trailer


About Book 2

Title: The City Kittens and the Old House Cat
Author: Mrs. D
Publication Date: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Number of pages: 37
Recommended age: 6 to 10
Summary: This story revolves around Christmastime and a family who once adopted a lost kitten, naming it Nyda. Nyda has now grown old and has settled into a calm, uneventful life with her new family-until the day before Christmas, when the family's older daughter brings two playful kittens, Mickey and Jack, home for the holidays. The two kittens from the big city are a change for the family, and for Nyda. The old cat likes her settled life and is not happy about the new arrivals. She's also very protective of her belongings. The city kittens annoy her, and the old cat grumbles about the new additions to the family- until she hears a story one night that makes her feel bad. The kittens aren't the soft or spoiled brats she had thought they were . .

Book Trailer


The Buzz

The Trees Have Hearts: "This is a lovely book for young girls, and especially young girls who face loneliness because of being in a new place. They are sure to find peace and encouragement in the special values taught in The Trees Have Hearts. Mrs. D does a wonderful job of reaching out to kids in a unique way in this book. The beautiful trees give warmth and peace as they spread their blooms throughout the garden and into the hearts of those who read this book." ~ Joy Hannabass, Readers' Favorite

The Trees Have Hearts: "In The Trees Have Hearts, Mrs. D. demonstrates love, compassion and a touch of mystical ability as she manifests what the trees might say, if they spoke to a lonely little girl. Then again, maybe she writes to alert us all to listen with our hearts. I highly recommend this book." ~ 5 Star Review, sunnyrock, Amazon

The Trees Have Hearts: "The author writes a lovely story about a lonely little girl with a great big imagination. She turns her beautiful garden into her sanctuary of imaginary friends that remain in her heart and follow her into adulthood. The lessons to be learned in this story is love of nature, respect for nature and changes of nature from one season to the next. Just as children go through many changes from season to season. This would be a good bedtime story. reading a few pages each night nurturing your child's imagination and leaving them with sweet dreams." ~ 5 Star Review, It's Time to Read Mamaw, Amazon

The City Kittens and the Old House Cat: "The City Kittens and the Old House Cat is an inspiring story written from a cat's point of view. The story can be understood by all pet lovers. The book has some beautiful and colorful illustrations. That makes the book very attractive and visually appealing, something which all the kids love. Children's books should be colorful and bright. The message of tolerance is very important in the current living situation. The book has a nice moral which can be explained to children and they can be asked to practice it too." ~ 5 Star Review, Mamta Madhavan, Readers' Favorite

The City Kittens and the Old House Cat: "Snuggle up in front of the fire and share this sweet kitty tale with your little ones. Bright, richly detailed illustrations bring the story to life as the old cat learns to accept two little intrusions. Fun book to put on your wish list, especially around the holiday season. A delight for any cat or animal lover!" ~ 5 Star Review, CLMurphy, Amazon

The City Kittens and the Old House Cat: "Mrs. D. weaves wonderful lessons of acceptance, adoption and not judging other people without getting to know them into this sweet children's picture book. I highly recommend it for young children." ~ 5 Star Review, P.J. LaRue, Amazon

About the Author

Mrs. D. (Olga D’Agostino), an award-winning children’s author, was born in western Ukraine. She lived in the historical city of Lviv, where she studied business in Lviv Business College and worked in the food industry. In 1992, she immigrated to the USA with her two small daughters and for years worked in her own business. In 2011, she began her career as a writer, focusing on writing children’s books that have meaning and provide valuable lessons. Two of her children’s books, The Trees Have Hearts and Good Morning, World!, won Mom’s Choice Awards in 2013. She is a member of SCBWI and speaks a few languages fluently. She lives in the famous town of Smithville, NJ, with her husband Patrick and a meticulous old cat named Nyda.

Published books by Mrs. D. include Carlo the Mouse on Vacation, The Trees Have Hearts, The City Kittens and the Old House Cat, Good Morning, World!, and Carlo the Mouse, Book 1: Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse and The Little Girl Praying on the Hill (a short story for an older audience).

Coming in 2014: The Royal Palm and Carlo the Mouse, Book 2: Now We're Talking!

The full series of Carlo the Mouse and her new books, The Mysterious Life Inside a Closet, That Is How Things Are (two connected stories): The Autumn Wind, and The Kitten and the Sparrow, and three rhyming stories in Who Is Most Important in the Fridge? will be published in the near future. Her books are available in print on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as e-books for most popular electronic devices. For updates on Mrs. D.’s books, please visit her website: www.mrsdbooks.net.

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: June 10, 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. A 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 the 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, Mrs. D 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, May 9, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Minion Banana Custard Cheesecake

You are reading a scheduled post prepared last week as we are joining the Screen-Free Week Challenge from 05 May to 11 May 2014. We are turning off screens for 7 days and turning on LIFE. Join the fun – just unplug!

Right, I think all of you are getting tired of all my no bake cheesecake posts on Foodie Fridays, I told myself that I should stop it BUT when I was browsing the net for cheesecake recipes earlier I chanced upon Angela Chia's blog and her Banana Custard Cheesecake.  It is NOT just another custard cheesecake, its MINION BANANA CUSTARD CHEESESCAKE!!!!  I am not a HUGE minion fan but DinoBoy is and I know he will love these cheesecakes.  Look at them, aren't they cute and adorable? Ok, they look different from Angela's because my aluminion cups are too small so there were not enough space to add in the "eyelashes" but they still look like minions.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Children's Book Week 2014

You are reading a scheduled post prepared last week as we are joining the Screen-Free Week Challenge from 05 May to 11 May 2014. We are turning off screens for 7 days and turning on LIFE. Join the fun – just unplug!

We participated in the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews in December 2013 and we blessed a copy of The Fourth King to one lucky reader.  This time they are hosting giveaway hop in conjunction with Children's Book Week and we are proud to announce that we will be joining this meaningful event.  We urge you to join us too!  To know more about this read the following Sign-Up information by Mother Daughter Book Reviews.

CBW Kid Lit Giveaway Hop 2014 - Banner - FINAL

Are you a children's book or teen literature blogger, an author, a publisher, or a publicist looking to share copies of a fabulous book? Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews are joining forces to provide you with the opportunity to take part in a Blog Hop featuring links to giveaways for fabulous children/teen's books, gift cards, cash, or other prizes. What better way to celebrate Children's Book Week?

How Does it Work?

Dates: May 12 to 18, 2014
  • Posts must go live at 12:01AM (EST) on May 12, 2014
  • Giveaway must end on May 18, 2014 @ 11:59PM (EST)

(If using Rafflecopter, set your widget to end on MAY 19th at 12:00am)

Cost: FREE!
Prize: Children/Teen's Book and/or a Gift Card

  • If your prize consists of a book, it must be one appropriate for children/youth under the age of 18. You can also offer an Amazon gift card, a credit at the Book Depository, or PayPal cash as a prize (minimum $10) in conjunction with a book OR in lieu of a book, but your post MUST discuss children's books or literature. Links to posts just offering a gift card or cash with no mention of children/teen's books or literature will be removed from the linky list. If unsure, email me!

Posting Requirements: Posts must be published no later than May 12, 12:01 am, 2014 ~ Posting early is ok. Posting late is not ok.

Your post must contain the following information (clearly visible):
  • Event Button
  • Giveaway Details
  • Links to the Hostesses (Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews)
  • Giveaway Linky List

The event button, links to hostesses, and linky code will be emailed to you on Monday, May 5, 2014.

Please send me your direct URL once your post goes live, or if possible you can send me your permalink ahead of time. Failure to send me your link within 24 hours of the start of the Giveaway Hop will result in the removal of your link from the linky. If you send me the direct link after the 24 hours deadline, it will be added to the bottom of the list.

Adding a Link to the Linky: To enter the Giveaway Hop, you simply have to enter the home page of your website followed by the country restrictions (i.e., Who can enter? US; US/CAN; WW; other). Once your post is ready you can send me the permalink as described above.

Deadline for Sign-Ups: May 9, 11:59 pm (EST), 2014
The linky will close and no additional links will be accepted.

Promoting the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop
We need YOUR help in spreading the word about the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. You are certainly not required to do anything other than sign up if you wish to participate, but we would sure appreciate your help by either posting about the sign-ups, tweeting about it, or sharing the information within your circles or even popping the event button up in your sidebar. We are also happy to provide you with the full post HTML code if you would be willing to post about this sign-up. Just email Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews. The more sign-ups the better for all of us!

Please feel free to contact either Renee [renee (at) motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com] or Katie [YouthLitReviews (at) live (dot) com]. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

Sign-Up Here
You will be asked to enter the title you want displayed in the linky list (please add country restrictions in brackets), a link to your home page (or direct URL if you have it), and your name and email address.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Our Home Revision Timetable

You are reading a scheduled post prepared a few days ago as we are joining the Screen-Free Week Challenge from 05 May to 11 May 2014. We are turning off screens for 7 days and turning on LIFE. Join the fun – just unplug!

Right, we are at the middle of school term 2, DinoBoy started his mid year test on 23 April 2014 and will continue till 16 May 2014 with a few tests in each week.  You must be wondering about the number of subjects he have, well he only have 3 but there is Listening Compre, Oral & written test for both English and Chinese, on top of that there is Chinese Show & Tell and English Spelling Test.   Thank goodness that the teachers decided not to do English Show & Tell and Chinese Spelling Test, otherwise that's another 2 things to prepare.  *phew~*

Last year I did not do much revision with him till the last term, as the Primary one students were not graded.  This year is streaming year for DinoBoy's school so I think I cannot be so relax.  I did a timetable earlier in April, listing out the revisions we ahve to do daily at home.  Frankly, I am not a fan of such structured routine but I think it's necessary if I want to gradually ease DinoBoy into some serious school work mindset otherwise he will think that its all fun and play with no efforts put into his study.

I told DinoBoy that the time stated in the timetable is only a guide but the time spent on each subject's revision/assessment books will still be an hour.  If we are able to reach home early we can start the revision early too, this will mean that we will have extra time for reading or playing board games.

It's been about a month and so far we have been following the weekday timetable to a T, I'm still a little bit lax on weekends mainly coz we have busy Saturdays and usually too tired to bark at DinoBoy on Sundays.  Regardless, we still managed to finished the English grammar & Chinese comprehension assessment books, the Maths problem sums assessment book is all caught up to the topic that the teacher is still teaching (yupe, Maths test is next week but the teacher has not finished teaching all the topics to be tested).  And the English comprehension assessment book that DinoBoy started after he was done with the grammar is 3/4 done.  Don't get the wrong idea that I pushed him to do many chapters per assessment book, except for the Maths problem sums the rest are mostly MCQ questions with minimum writing required thus he was able to finish them so fast.

Oh ya, you may have noticed that the English grammar assessment book is for Primary 1, I bought this when we were buying school books in the school and I did not have any chance to let DinoBoy do it then since I was not focusing on doing assessment books with him.  I didn't want to waste it so I just let him do it since there is not much different between these 2 levels.

I have been asking myself this question "Am I demanding too much from DinoBoy by pressing him to do these assessment books?"  I am not sure but I'd like to think that I am not, DinoBoy understand the purpose of daily revision and will go into the study room to pick up any assessment book to do for that hour.  Of course some days he will protest and try to argue/bargain his way out but with some reasoning he is always back on track.

To relax his mind after an hour of work we always end the night with some chit-chatting, ice cream, reading and/or a game of Ludo/Chinese Chess/Snake & Ladder.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Screen Free Week Challenge 2014

Yes! Screen-Free Week is happening from 05 to 11 May 2014.  We will be taking part in this challenge again for the second time in a row.  We only managed to finish the challenge with partial succeess last year which I have shared here and here but I am happy that I have continued to enforce the no screen rule after the challenge and we managed to cut off all screen time during weekdays.

So for this year's challenge, I'd like to try to avoid screen time on weekend especially for DinoBoy.  Even though he only have Sundays to watch tv, play on his ipad, laptop or our mobile phones, I didn't like it but I did not try to do anything to it too mainly coz Sundays are usually rest day for us and with a full day out on Saturdays for classes I really do not have the energy to do anything else on Sundays.  However, I'll try to make a change, perhaps instead of letting him go on screen time spree I'll try to keep it to half a day.

To those of you who are unfamiliar about Screen-Free Week, here is a brief intro taken from their website.
Screen-Free Week is an annual, international celebration when schools, families, and community groups pledge to spend seven days without entertainment screen media.* Instead of watching TV, surfing the web, or playing video games, they read, play, think, create, get physically active, and spend more time with friends and family.
If you think your family are facing too much screen time thus missing out or having not enough family bonding time and you like to make a change, why not take this challenge as a first step to a better family life?  Ok, I know how difficult it is to take the first step or initiative, you can find millions of reason to NOT do it.  However, think of the great stuffs you can do with your family together, the priceless memories and the endless fun you guys will have.  Do you want to look back years later and the only thing that you can remember are of every one facing a screen of their own and not communicating with each other, such as this photo below?


Well, I certainly do not wish to have that kind of memory. Sad to say, it's such a common sight that every time I sit at food courts or restaurants having my dinner I see a few tables of family facing their gadgets even while eating.

Some of you are thinking "What? Need to include the WHOLE family? Well... I don't think so and so will take part." or "I have to check my emails, how to work if I don't face the computer?" etc.  Of course it not possible to avoid screen during work but this challenge is focuses more on family so if you need to use the computer or any electronic gadgets for work, just continue to do so.  Even though the challenge says "include the whole family", I personally think that you can rope in who ever you want to do it, it may not be every one in the family.  Like us, we started in small steps, last year I took part with DinoBoy while DinoPapa's was not involved as his work requires him to be on the phone or checking emails constantly.

The purpose of this challenge is about all the fun stuffs you do with your family away from some computer games/gadgets.  For me, its also about the target I set out to achieve from this challenge and to continue to do it AFTER the challenge.  

So, take the first step out!  Join us in this cause for better family life!  For those who has done the challenge before, do join us again this year, we will be glad to have you back with the troops again.

Here are some links to help kick start the preparation.
  • Get your Orgainiser's Kit here.
  • No idea how to engage your kids so that they are away from the screen?  Fear not!  Here are some great ideas.
  • Screen-Free.org has put up a few essential handouts here that includes Pledge Card & Certificate of Achievement.
  • For USA residents, you can find a Screen-Free Week event near you here!
Do let us know if you are joining the challenge with The DinoFamily, we can probably exchange ideas on the things you plan to do or even get together for the kids to have some fun some where.

Don't hesitate, Join the challenge now!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Faery Swap - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Faery Swap 
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn 
Publication Date: December 19, 2013 
Publisher: Independent 
Pages: 281 
Recommended Ages: 10+ 
Summary: Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body. Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.

Faery Swap is an action and druid-magic filled portal fantasy, told by both a runaway faery prince and the boy he's tricked into taking his place. This Prince and the Pauper meets Warrior Faeries tale is suitable for all ages.

NOTE TO TEACHERS: A 2 minute book trailer and a 9 minute Virtual Author Visit video brings Author and Rocket Scientist Susan Kaye Quinn (Ph.D. Engineering) into your classroom, sharing her background in science and engineering and talking about her book, Faery Swap. A downloadable Teacher's Guide includes discussion questions, activities, and a Knowledge Seekers card-based game designed to be played in the classroom - all aligned to Common Core reading, writing, and college readiness standards for Grades 3-6. (Virtual Author Visit can be found at Susan's website: www (dot) susankayequinn (dot)com/p/virtual-author-visit.html)

Book Trailer


The Buzz

"I've seen and enjoyed this theme before, but never in a book for this age group and Ms. Quinn carries it out beautifully. The kids were fun and acted like kids, which makes them believable for all ages. The pace and action will keep readers flipping pages greedily. Also, telling the story from the two viewpoints greatly added to my overall enjoyment. Highly recommend for ages 9 and up." ~ 5 Star Review, Alan T., Amazon

"I am a 10 year old boy. My mom recommended this awesome book to me because she knows Kai Strand, who knows Susan Quinn. I was hooked from the first paragraph! This is a wonderful ( and quite thrilling) story! Good for all ages and I wish I could rate it 100 stars! ... I can definitely recommended this to almost anyone! Good job to Susan Quinn. The story is balanced neatly between Zaneyr and Finn, by Finn's perspective in the first chapter, Zaneyr's perspective in the the next, then Finn again, and so on. Great book and is a must read." ~ 5 Star Review, Red Rose, Amazon

"I LOVED this book. This is one of those books that grabs you and doesnt let you go. Susan Kaye Quinn is an awesome writer! Feary Swap is funny, well paced, and filled with adventure. It's a book no kid will want to miss. I especially loved the witty humor that kept me laughing page after page. The world building was vivid and phenomenal. I could just see this as a movie in my head. I liked how the author sneaks those educational moments in there without you even knowing it. A delightful book for old and young readers alike. Get it!" ~ 5 Star Review, Daddy's Girls Book Reviews, Amazon

About the Author

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (BONUS: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: May 29, 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. A 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 the 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, Susan Kaye Quinn 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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Services