Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Crooked Letter ~ Free PDF by Sean Williams

The Crooked Letter is kinda urban New Weird on a massive scale. It's been compared to China Mieville, Philip Pullman, Ursula K Le Guin, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, yada yada, and it won both the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards the year it was released (the first fantasy novel in the history of the awards to do so).

You can pick up the free full version pdf or you can buy The Crooked Letter: Books of the Cataclysm: One at Amazon.

Other books in the series ~

Blood Debt: Books of the Cataclysm: Two
The Hanging Mountains: Books of the Cataclysm: Three

Friday, February 27, 2009

Review & Giveaway ~ JumpStart 3D Virtual World

Jump start is one of my favorite companies. They have such amazing educational products for kids. I have been using jump start products since my oldest was about 3 years of age and we still use the workbooks in our house. When I was contacted to try out Jump Starts new educational virtual world, I jumped at the chance!

When you first start you are able to create avatars called Jumpeez. You can choose the color of your skin from pink to green to your actual skin tone, what clothes you wear, which hairstyle you like and what kind of mouth and eyes you want. After you create your Jumpeez there is so much to do:
  • You can meet and talk to JumpStart characters
  • explore the world and make some discoveries
  • There is an arcade with tons of games
  • You can even visit the movie theater
  • You can ride in a canoe
  • Race a car
  • Paint pictures
  • Take pictures with your camera
  • Adopt a pet and teach him tricks
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Visit the post office
  • Have tons of fun collecting Stars!
The Jumpstart 3d world is very cool. It reminds me of that first Mario Brothers in 3d. My daughter absolutely loves playing this game. I will admit, for my readers, I also played some games. Let me tell you, very fun. The best part, kids are learning! The games and characters are so cool, you don't even realize it. From experience though, it is sinking in. This is a virtual world you can feel good about letting your kids have computer time to play.

Cami has been coming home from school every day and asking to play Jump Start as soon as she walks in the door. She loves her character which is an adorable little blond in a pink dress, she loves designing her house, she loves the games, she literally loves everything about it.

You can play this game for free or pay for a membership. When you are a paying member, there are downloads that you can get of Jump Start games for different age ranges. The website has a great resource section called Fun for Parents with articles, tips, downloads (screensavers, etc) for you to enjoy as well.

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Knowledge Adventure, one of my readers will win a 3 month membership to Jumpstart 3D Virtual World!

To Enter:

Visit Jumpstart and look at the articles under the Fun for Parents area. Pick an article to read, then come back here and tell me which one your read.

For Extra entries:

Contest ends on March 14th at 11:59 pm

Winner is Tami

Like this post ~

Subscribe in a reader

Series Read + TBR

My favorite books are the ones that are in series. I decided to keep track of the ones I have read and want to read all in one spot.

Iris Johansen ~ Eve Duncan & other secondary characters

  1. The Face of Deception (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn & John Logan)
  2. The Killing Game (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, John Logan, Sarah Patric, Jan McGuire)
  3. The Search (Eve Duncan) (Sarah Patrick & dog Monty, John Logan, Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Sean Galen, Jane McGuire)
  4. Final Target (Jessica Riley, Melissa Riley, Michael Travis, Sean Galen, Jonathan Andreas, Chelsea Benedict)
  5. Body of Lies (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Jane McGuire, Sean Galen)
  6. No One to Trust (Eve Duncan) (Elana Kyler, Sean Galen, Judd Morgan)
  7. Dead Aim (Eve Duncan) (Alex Graham, Judd Morgan, Sarah Patrick, Jonathan Andreas, Chelsea Benedict, Melis Nemid, John Logan)
  8. Fatal Tide (Eve Duncan) (Melis Nemid, Jed Kelby, Kemal Nemid)
  9. Firestorm (Eve Duncan)
  10. Blind Alley (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Jane McGuire, Mark Trevor)
  11. Countdown (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Jane McGuire, Mark Trevor)
  12. On the Run (Grace Archer, Jake Kilmer, Marvot {villain})
  13. Killer Dreams (Eve Duncan) (Jock Gavin, MacDuff, Jane Maguire)
  14. Stalemate (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Jane Macguire, Luis Montalvo, Sean Galen)
  15. Pandora's Daughter (Megan Blair, Renatta)
  16. Quicksand (Eve Duncan) (Eve Duncan, Joe Quinn, Megan Blair, Luis Montalvo, Jane Maguire)
  17. Dark Summer (Sarah Patrick, Devon Brady, Jude Marrok)

  18. James Patterson

    Alex Cross Series

    Womens Murder Club Series

    Janet ~ Stephanie Plum Series

    One for the Money
    Two for the Dough
    Three to Get Deadly
    Four to Score
    High Five
    Hot Six
    Seven Up
    Hard Eight
    Visions of Sugar Plums
    To the Nines
    Ten Big Ones
    Eleven on Top
    Twelve Sharp
    Plum Lovin'
    Lean Mean Thirteen
    Plum Lucky
    Fearless Fourteen
    Plum Spooky
    Finger Lickin' Fifteen

    Jodi Lynn Anderson

    May Bird and the Ever After: Book OneMay Bird Among the Stars: Book Two

    May Bird, Warrior Princess: Book Three

Kathy Riechs (Temperance Brennan/Bones)

Kim Harrison ~ Rachel Morgan (Witch/Vampire Series)

  1. Dead Witch Walking (read 2008) ~ Read free online here
  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
  3. Every which way but dead
  4. A Fist full of Charms
  5. Dates from hell (read 2008) ~ short story
  6. Holidays are hell (read 2008) ~ short story
  7. For a Few Demons more (read 2008)
  8. The Outlaw Demon Wails (Rachel Morgan, Book 6)
  9. White Witch, Black Curse (read April 2009)
  10. Hotter than hell ~ short story
Melissa Marr (faery)

  1. Wicked Lovely (read 2008)
  2. Ink Exchange (read 2008)
  3. Fragile Eternity ~ Being released 4/09

Patricia Cornwell ~ Kay Scarpetta Series

This lists needs ton more updating !!!
Red ~ TBR

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Raising Freethinkers A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

I was recently asked to review the book Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas and Jan Devor. I absolutely loved Dale's other book, Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and couldn't believe I would get a copy of his newest book to actually review. When you are a non-religious family, you sometimes feel very alone. My husband and I are actually Atheists, so there really aren't many resources for us. I have found tons of great Atheist blogs and websites, but they usually don't deal with actual parenting. I cant' even explain how good it felt to me when I stumbled on Parenting Beyhond Belief. To read essays from other Atheist and Agnostic parents reassured me as a parent.

Raising Freethinkers ~ A practical, hands-on guide for raising independent, caring kids without religion.

Praised by Newsweek as “a compelling read” and Library Journal as “accessible and down-to-earth,” Dale McGowan’s Parenting Beyond Belief offered freethinking parents everywhere a compassionate introduction to raising caring, ethical children without religious guidance. Now, for the more than 40 million people in the United States who identify themselves as nonreligious, Raising Freethinkers offers solutions to the unique challenges secular parents face and provides specific answers to common questions, as well as over 100 activities for both parents and their children. This book covers every important topic nonreligious parents need to know to help their children with their own moral and intellectual development, including advice on religious-extended-family issues, death and life, secular celebrations, wondering and questioning, and more.

Complete with reviews of books, DVDs, curricula, educational toys, and online resources relevant to each chapter topic, Raising Freethinkers helps parents raise their children with confidence.

I have gotten so much out of this book and will be turning to it all the time for ideas, tips and just to feel like I am on the right track. Even though, my husband and I are Atheist, I have tried not to label my girls that way. I want them to decide for themselves when they are older what religious path they want to take. At this point, neither of my girls believe in God. My oldest did believe for a few years. She had some very religious friends in our old neighborhood. She felt left out not believing. When she asked questions, I answered her the best that I could. I would tell her what I believed and what others believe. After a few years, she stopped believing.

My youngest has never believed, even though this summer she decided she believed in Heaven because she likes angels. I try to spend time with the girls reading them mythology, religious stories, studying various religions. Every holiday I take the opportunity to talk about what various religions believe and do for that holiday. I am trying to install in them knowledge and free thought. This is exactly what Raising Freethinkers talks about.

While this book is geared towards non-religious families, I think many open families can get something from the book. This book is not anti-religion in any means. Actually, it encourages that everyone should be knowledgeable in all religions. Because knowledge and understanding of the world is crucial, in order to be empowered in making informed decisions. There is a ton of advice on teaching religion to kids. The chapters are broken down into subjects including ~

  • Helping children achieve religous literacy without indoctrine
  • Explore life's meaning & purpose
  • Promote a healthy perspective on sexuality and body image
  • Encourage ravenous curiosity
  • Help kids come to terms with death & loss
  • Find and create community
Each chapter is written by a different author. The majority of the chapters are broken into question and answers, making it very easy to read a little bit at a time or go back to find some help on a topic you are struggling with. At the end of each chapter are tons of resources. Includes activities that pertain to the chapter topic, books/movies to read/watch with your kids, websites to visit and more.

If you are a nonreligious family, this book is an absolute must. Even if you have to request it from the library, read this book! If you are religious person, you might want to give this book a read as well. You might come to find out that even those of us that do not believe are still good people. We live moral lives, we want our children to lead moral lives. We care about other people, other cultures, the land we live on. This book also encourages education, knowledge and curiosity. All kids can benefit from that!

You can read Dale's blog The Meming of Life and join in the Parenting Beyond Belief forum. You can purchase Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief at Amazon.

About the Authors

Dale McGowan (Atlanta, GA) is a writer, editor, and parenting educator. He edited and coauthored Parenting Beyond Belief (978-0-8144-7426-6).

Molleen Matsumura has been a humanist activist and writer for more than 20 years and has contributed to Free Inquiry and The New Humanist.

Amanda Metskas (Albany, NY) is the Executive Director of Camp Quest, Inc.

Jan Devor is Director of Religious Education for the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

Huge Thank you to the Family Review Network & Parenting Beyond Belief for this review opportunity!

Like this post ~

Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Trial: Norton Online Family ~ Because Safety is our #1 Concern!

Both my girls are total internet addicts. My youngest is the worst, she is totally obsessed with playing games on various virtual worlds. She has accounts on I think every single site. My tween is getting into aim, myspace and other sites like that.

We go over internet security all the time with the girls. I have still caught them a few times doing things I'm not comfortable with. I've been thinking about looking into some kind of safe guards for our computer. Of course Mom Central and Norton came to my rescue by offering a blog tour that fits my needs perfectly!

In an effort to keep children safe, Norton, a trusted provider of Internet safety products, has come to the rescue, with the introduction of Norton Online Family Beta. Norton Online Family Beta is not only designed to block your child's Internet activities, but to connect you, the parents, with your child's online life.

Check out some key features:

Simple, One-Time Set Up: Create an account online and customize each family member's profile based on age and maturity level.

Easy to Use and Access: Check a child's activity or modify a child's profile, preferences, or time allotment anytime and anywhere using any Internet-connected device.

Clear Reporting: All activities are reported in chronological order and only show the Web sites a child intended to visit - eliminating all the extra URLs, like ads, from Web sites.

Helpful Search Insight: Easily view what words and phrases a child uses to search and where those searches lead online.

Convenient Web Site Control: Control the Web content that flows into the home by prohibiting more than 40 topic categories.

Secured Personal Information: Track, report and prevent personal information that a child may purposely or accidentally try to send via e-mail, IM or social networking site.

Access to Social Network Information: Monitor activity on social networks like Facebook and MySpace with the ability to see how kids represent themselves, when they login and how often.

Real-time Messaging: Built-in messaging allows parents to have real-time discussions with children about activities and better understand their intentions when visiting a Web site.

True Transparency: Children are able to view the "house rules" they established with parents at any time and are notified when Norton Online Family is active, so there is no "stealth" mode.

Custom Alerts: Parents can customize e-mail alerts to address urgent events so they know immediately when a child has reached a time limit or visited a blocked site, etc.

Useful Time Management: An easy-to-use time management feature that - if parents find it necessary - gives each child a "curfew" that will limit computer usage.

I have great news! Norton and Mom Central are offering you the chance to sign-up for a sneak peak by giving you a free trial. I highly encourage you to watch the demo and try out Norton Online Family Beta.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Like this post ~

Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just got $30 bucks back from Ebates!

I love shopping online. You can do research, find the best prices, no driving, no dealing with other customers/cashiers, etc etc. Since I love shopping online so much, I am also a huge fan of Ebates. As a matter of fact, I just got a big fat check of $30.20 for a couple orders I placed that I would have bought anyway.

I've been a member of Ebates since November 2006. The site has really come along way over the years. There are 100's of stores to shop from. They also are always offering specials, coupon codes and even more cash back at certain times.

You can search for either the store you want to shop at or the product you want to buy. It isn't even just stores, you can also earn 2% back by booking your rental car at Enterprise. Plus ebates even shows what enterprise coupon codes are available. How cool is that, not only get a good deal on renting your car, but also earn money back on that purchase!

Like this post ~

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gamer Girl Author Mari Mancusi on Better TV

I recently finished reading Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi (review here) and just found out she was on a segment airing on Better TV with another YA author Melissa Walker.

Mari is holding a contest, you can find the details here. I highly recommend Gamer Girl, I loved it & my tween is excited about reading it!

Book Review ~ Sikulu & Harambe By The Zambezi River

Mythology, Fairy Tales, Fables and Folktales have always been some of my favorite stories growing up. They not only teach some kind of lesson, but they are interesting and make reading fun. The story of Sikulu & Harambe By the Zambezi River is an African version of the Good Samaritan story.

This is the first in a series of adventures that follow Sikulu the spider and Harambe the Hippo as they travel to different countries in Africa. In this story, they are in the village of Sioma where they encounter an old woman in need of help. The other animals all have convenient excuses for not helping while Sikulu & Harambe are the only ones who do.

Based on an actual folktale, it is a great story that reinforces the beauty of kindness to young children. The book also offers a glossary of terms and weaves information about Zambian culture into the story. Children and adults alike come away better informed about life in Zambia.

About the Author ~

Kunle Oguneye was born and raised in Nigeria. He graduated from Valparaiso University in Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He left the world of computers and technology to focus on his passion for story-telling.

This book is geared towards children ages 3 - 8. My 7 year old and I read the book together the first time through, then she read it to herself. She really enjoyed the story a lot. Her favorite part was trying to pronounce the African words. I loved that the book tells you how to pronounce the words. I know for Cami, she loves learning other languages. She speaks basic Spanish to me all the time, then has to translate since her mommy took French and not Spanish in school, lol.

The illustrations are done by Bruce McCorkindale. They are gorgeous, he did a wonderful job bringing Sikulu and Harambe to life. The book is just full of cover, with complete page drawings that make you want to examine every inch of the page.

The back of the book contains a question about What the Moral of the story was, Glossary and information on a Ku-omboka Ceremony that was mentioned in the book, information on the animals mentioned and some information on Zambia.

Sikula & Harambe By the Zambezi River is a book you can feel proud of reading to your children. Your children will learn to help out a stranger in need, that it makes you feel good. They will also learn some African culture along the way. You can just read the book, or you can use this book as a tool for teaching your children. This would be a great book to add to a homeschool classroom.

There of course is a website as well for this book series. It is a lot of fun, there are a couple games the kids can play. I'm sure as more books are written, the site will get larger and larger as well.

If you are interested in buying your own copy, you can purchase the book at the Sikulu shop for $14.95. For just a little bit more you can add the plush characters of Sikulu & Harambe. I recommend buying the full set with the adorable plushies, too cute!

Parent Reviewers Like this post ~

Subscribe in a reader

TV Store Online Halloween Costume Giveaway

I didn't realize that the sold a huge line of Halloween costumes until recently. They are the place to go if yo...