Friday, March 28, 2014

All About Animals

This post has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with animals. People who know me  have realised by now that I have a passion for causes, especially related to animals. I am busy with my animal rescue book on Poppy, the famous Fijian dog saved by Animals Fiji. Poppy went on to make a full recovery after surgery, and now has a happy Fur-Ever Home with a loving family in Australia. However, there are many animals in Fiji still in need of help; and their need is dire. The lease is up on the land that Animals Fiji’s Nadi Clinic occupies.
Animals Fiji needs your help to build a new home. Please read on and help in any way – again, no donation too small! You can donate directly to Animals Fiji’s donation page, or donate to my campaign on gofundme.

Just one brick!
Animals Fiji says: "Just US$16.00 will buy a brick for our new home! We need 10,000 bricks! Can you help us?

The Animals Fiji Nadi Clinic (operated by the West Charity Trust Society), which provides emergency care for sick animals and plays a vital role in the management and control of Fiji’s feral cat and dog populations has 3 months to find new land and premises to operate from or it will be forced to close. Since its doors opened 2 years ago, the Nadi Clinic has treated approximately 6,500 sick and injured animals, rehomed 960 abandoned pets and has de-sexed around 2,300 cats and dogs. Over this time it has established several outreach programs, where teams of volunteers are funded to travel to remote communities to control animal populations and to assist injured animals. These programs alone have reached over 20 communities and have led to 600 animals being de-sexed, meaning that over 7 million fewer puppies and kittens will be born.

The clinic plays a vital role in ensuring the health of Fijians and their animals. We have until 12 June 2014 to find new land and premises and are fundraising to find the FJ$30,000 we need to do this. (This comes to around US$16,000) If the Clinic closes then the valuable out-reach programs will cease and there will be no pet doctor in the Western Division of Fiji, putting the lives of animals and the health of people at risk.

Animals Fiji needs your support. All contributions gratefully accepted. No donation is too small - our animals depend on your kindness and goodwill!"

Please share this message far and wide, with your friends, family and animal lovers. Joining hands to help for worthy cause!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: The Shadow of the Pyramid

Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt in The Shadow of the Pyramid. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time, arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king, Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids will just love the twist in this tale.

Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series. Five stars!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Book Review: The Journal of Ted Terrier

The Journal of Ted Terrier by Pawthor Ted Terrier and his scribe (also a Pawthor) Emma Knight just has to be one of the funniest and wittiest observations I have read on humans and their erratic behaviour, from a dog’s point of view. Ted Terrier, a more than intelligent Jack Russell, lays his family bare, revealing the universal human condition of weakness, insecurity, foibles, and failings, seeing life though rose-coloured specs, and the many other silly human things that silly humans do. His journal spares no one and from six-foot-something head of the family Peter, to depressed mum Jane, to amanuensis sibling Emma (who struggles to hold onto her creativity, hence this book to help her get it back), to the various visitors (so few…), Ted gives readers the benefit of his psychological observations. He is honest, fair, and alarming perceptive, especially if you are a human reading this book and you recognise some of your (ahem) failings as a member of the dominant species.

Pawthor Ted Terrier
Ted starts right off by confessing his obsession with feet, and gives us a description of his family’s feet. The smells of his family’s feet, to be exact. Interesting. That gives readers an idea of how dogs see humans: as smells, not as looks and height. Anyone taller than a human child is very big to a small dog. On the philosophical side, Ted waxes lyrical as he explains the difference between human and dog thinking. Humans’ problem is they think too much and they end up confusing themselves and making their own lives difficult. From there he touches on the benefits of Sunday walks (and everyone knows every day should be Sunday); the problem with religion; how bad it is to get upset; what exactly is black comedy; and what really matters in life. On a practical side, he observes that dogs have it much easier because they wear their clothes (fur) all the time, and how communication with humans can be difficult (i.e. what not to do to visitors’ legs).
The absolutely fantastic illustrations give readers a very clear picture of what happens in Ted’s household and I had many laugh-out-loud moments. Witty, sometimes acerbic, and with comic observations any human will appreciate, The Journal of Ted Terrier will make you see your dog in a very different light. Have you ever said or thought, “If only the dog could talk…” Don’t think that. The dog might surprise you! (Five Stars!)
Keep up with Ted’s observations on life by visiting his Facebook page and his blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Diego's Dragon $100 Book Blast

About the Book

Diego's Dragon Book 1 Spirits of the Sun by Kevin GerardTitle: Diego's Dragon, Book 1: Spirits of the Sun | Author: Kevin Gerard | Publication Date: September 30, 2011 | Publisher: Crying Cougar Press | Pages: 186 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: An eleven-year-old Latino boy wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change. Nathan Sullivan hands Diego his statue, a handsome, glistening black dragon. He shakes his hand and leaves him to his friends. The students crowd around Diego, asking for permission to hold it. After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego awards it to his new dragon. If he only knew how fitting the name was, he might have known what lay ahead. Magnifico is the leader of the Sol Dragones, dragons that live within the magical fires of the sun. Nathan Sullivan is the earth's connection to the mysterious creatures. It is his task to find Magnifico’s guide. As Magnifico comes to life he becomes quite mischievous, playing tricks on Diego to embarrass him. As he discovers his bloodline, however, Diego assumes greater control over his dragon and his destiny. In the climactic journey, he frees his people and suffers a terrible loss by guiding Magnifico to their goal.  


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The Buzz

"Every book by this author is amazing. My son, who is very picky has bought every book. He has read them without putting them down and even asked me to organize having Kevin come to his school. Kevin, the Author is a person doing what he loves to do and it shows in his work and his interactions with the kids. You will not regret your purchase!" ~ 5 Star Review, Adina F., Amazon
"My 4th grade daughter is obsessed with dragon books. When I discovered Diego's Dragon, I jumped at it--and now Kevin Gerard is her new favorite author! For a voracious reader like my daughter, that is the highest of compliments, especially considering her love for Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats series. Her enthusiastic commentary about book one, and her pleading for book 2, had me eager to read it for myself. All I can say is . . . my daughter was right. For any fans of middle grade adventure or fantasy or dragons or boy books or epic awesomeness, this is the perfect story." ~ 5 Star Review, S. O'Donnell, Amazon
"Kids who like dragon stories will love this adventure series. Those who liked Harry Potter, kids and adults, will like this series. I truly believe the Diego’s Dragon series will have readers anticipating new releases and then devouring the books immediately upon release. Spirits of the Sun is a great book for boys, and girls—and adults. Without gushing too much, I believe Spirits of the Sun is one of the best books I have read. If the series holds up, I will be its number one fan, though many others will claim that title. Kids, get this book." ~ 5 Star Review, Sue M., Amazon

About the Author: Kevin Gerard

Kevin Gerard Kevin Gerard lives in San Diego, California, with two feline friends, Jesse the WonderCat and Little Man. When not writing or teaching statistics at Cal State San Marcos, he enjoys walking the grounds at the San Diego Zoo, hitting the waves at Cardiff State Beach, and hanging with his brother, nieces and nephews at the local Pizza Port. He also enjoys playing Halo on the internet; look for him in the rocket games as one of the characters from Diego’s Dragon or Conor and the Crossworlds.

Book Website | Author Blog | Twitter

Facebook | Goodreads


* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: April 4, 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, Kevin Gerard 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

Book Review: My Clever Night-Night Shoes

Scary statistics bring home the fact that a child is born with congenital clubfoot (talipes) every three minutes. The great news is that Dr Ignaçio Ponseti’s method for clubfoot treatment is over 95% successful. A crucial part of treatment is wearing a brace to hold the foot in the corrected position. Bracing is the best protection against relapse. Most children sleep in the brace until at least age four. But how do you get a child to wear the brace without them protesting or putting up a fight?

My Clever Night-Night Shoes is a bedtime story for children who sleep with a brace to help keep their feet straight. The book is written by Karen Mara Moss, mom to a strong-willed child who had to be gently persuaded to wear his brace. Artist Lori Bentley wore orthopaedic boots every day as a toddler to correct a problem with her feet. Between them, these two creative people have put together an enchanting book that will convince any reluctant brace wearer to put on that brace to get their feet ready for an exciting future.

This delightful book is a mixture of illustrations and poetry to encourage children needing to wear a night brace on their feet. From being a fireman to being a ballet dancer, from running a race to climbing a mountain, from wearing high heels to skating on ice, this book takes young readers through the many options that will be open to them IF they wear their ‘clever night-night shoes.’ The rhythms and rhymes of the poetry are catchy and just perfect for a read-aloud session at bedtime. The water colour illustrations are delightful, and there is so much detail in each picture that parents and children will enjoy poring over them to discover all those extra little bits that add to the tale. I did notice several intrepid penguins managed to get themselves into quite a few illustrations. A well-deserved Five Stars!

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book goes to STEPS Charity, a regional clubfoot champion endorsing the Ponseti method. STEPS was established in Southern Africa in 2005. The book also offers an end-note of more resources for parents.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review: Only the Dead

In Only the Dead, author Hamilton Wende brings together his journalistic experience of covering war-torn zones, and his interest and research into ancient mythology in a compelling tale. The story has a number of threads running through it to create a fascinating tapestry. Again, as in his previous book House of War, Sebastian Burke reappears; this time he is invited to assist psychologist Tania Burke as she tries to help children traumatised by a war in Uganda, a terrifying army of children led by the megalomaniac General Faustin, assisted by his mysterious shaman figure, Papa Mephisto, and his blood-seeking machete Chonge. If this sounds like a weird mix, it is not. Child armies are a sad truth of Africa and the tragedy of these children ripped from their homes, forced to fight, brainwashed into mindless violence by a mesmerising and charismatic leader who fulfils the role of father figure in their lives is all too familiar to readers who have some idea of politics and war in Africa. Papa Mephisto introduces his benefactor General Faustin to the mysterious lion cult, claiming powers that would make the general and his young army invincible. Sebastian Burke’s interest in lion mythology weaves into this dark, tangled web of atavistic beliefs and fears. At the same time, Islamic terrorist activities and the American interest in protecting the USA and the world from a nuclear threat also underpins this tragic scenario.

Despite the horror of this bleak wasteland of the soul, faint glimmers of hope appear, namely in the main character of one of the child-soldiers, Okuto. He has suffered the same fate as his fellow soldiers, his parents perhaps killed, his village burned. Scarred emotionally and physically by his experiences, only the general and Papa Mephisto mean anything to him. That is, until Victoria, a fellow conscript makes an impact in his life. His love for Victoria is the only thing, ultimately, that has any meaning, and it is his redemption. Between these threads the reader will also learn about the Islamic terrorist, whose love for his daughter, killed accidently by a US drone attack meant for him, drives him to perpetrate a horrific vengeance. A sad but necessary character is the man who pushed the button, a man we don’t really get to know, but his tragic story resonates throughout the book. Love, loss of love, and redemption form a strong element here, and one that lifts the book out of a dark resignation. War is an inevitable part of human society, and the collateral damage is also inescapable. The pace of the book drives the reader on to keep turning pages. The author also intersperses references to the lion culture and myths and legend throughout in little tantalising snippets. There are subtle references that the keen-eyed reader will pick up and not so subtle ones, such as the story of Faust (General Faustin) and his pact with the devil (Papa Mephisto). The conclusion is open-ended, and one wonders if there will be more books. A great read from a talented author who manages to draw you into the hearts and souls of both the characters and the land they inhabit. Five Stars!