Friday, December 9, 2016

My Cape is in the Wash: Animal Charities

If you ever looked at my tabs above, you'd notice that I have one labeled Animal Links. You can add your favorite charity to those links and visit a few that are up there. AND while the giveaway is about more than just animals, it was started as a way to acknowledge kindness toward animals. 

Here is the linky so you don't have to visit the page:


I thought I'd take a moment to highlight a few of these. Also, remember you don't have to donate money, but time or even used serviceable goods. Just be kind! :)

From their site: 
Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. The foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies for cats, dogs, horses and wildlife. Since its founding in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $103 million toward 2,500+ studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments and preventions to benefit animals worldwide. 
Morris Animal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 84-6032307

This is one of the places that lets you easily donate as a memorial gift. I can personally tell you that getting a gift like this after a loss is comforting.

 Excerpt From their site:
We want to share with you our vision on how to address the urgent and growing need for a responsible, long term, and self sustaining Giant Breed Rescue in today’s society. 
Big Dogs Huge Paws was founded on the core philosophy is that every "BIG" dog deserves a chance. Our goal is to make sure that every dog receives only the best of care, food, and training. We will also ensure that they are properly evaluated (medically and behaviorally) and placed according to their special needs. Our medical officer and veterinarian team will provide first aid training to all foster volunteers and health seminars about the latest developments in animal medicine. We work actively with professional behaviorists who train each foster home how to handle introductions, properly evaluate dogs, work through specific behavioral issues, etc. Foster families undergo quarterly training sessions in order to maintain everyone's skills and abilities and ensure that the entire foster team is on the same page and has the tools they need for success. We will be working toward a special therapy dog training program as we identify dogs that would be good candidates and other potential partnerships. Eventually, our goal is to secure an actual facility where we can work with special behavioral or medical cases to give them the optimal chance of success! 
Big Dogs Huge Paws was officially incorporated as "Big Dogs Huge Paws, Inc" on June 11, 2008. Our EIN number is: 26-2780979
I've highlighted them previously because I think a lot of big dogs get left behind.

From their site:
National Mill Dog Rescue pledged to put an end to the cruelty of the commercial dog breeding industry, more commonly known as puppy milling. Through rescue and education, NMDR continues in its life-saving work while enlightening the public about the truth of pet store puppies. NMDR has taken a national approach to their rescue and adoption efforts and they have rescued and placed more than 10,000 mill dogs since their inception in 2007. These dogs are now living as cherished family members across the United States.
National Mill Dog Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our EIN# is: 26-0574783.  

I've actually been following this group for a long time before they were on any of the major social media. I had a friend who helped them rescue dogs.

From their site:
Mission and Vision
HeART’s Speak’s Mission is to unite art and advocacy to increase the visibility of shelter animals. 
The Vision of HeARTs Speak is a global community that treats all animals and people with compassion and respect.
HeARTs Speak is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. EIN #27-2327189

This is an organization I'm going to try to become a part of in the near future.

Also...

Don't forget to give while you shop:

There are just a few great services out there. Please feel free to list an animal charity in the linky. 

Remember:
Giving to any of these charities (time, money, serviceable goods) gets you an entry into the giveaway. Also you can help a neighbor out and that counts too. Even the smallest kindness can make someone's day. A smile, a kind word can go a long way for someone... and yes, that is an entry too. πŸ˜‰

To enter for the giveaway you MUST go HERE to enter.


Have a great day!
😻

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Entertainment

Just trying to prove that I can now deal with the holidays. 😊

I admit I tend to lean toward the unusual during the holidays. I do like the feel good type, but my faves tend to be a bit odd in nature.

Some of my past fave holiday books:

Audiobook:
I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
by Molly Harper
Series: Half-Moon Hollow #2.7
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
It's Christmas in Half-Moon Hollow and newly turned vampire Iris Scanlon-Calix wants to make Gigi's first visit home from college as normal and special as possible. It's taken months for Iris to work up the nerve to spend time around her baby sister after her vampire transition, so she enlists help from Jane Jameson and Company to keep her blood-thirst under control and assure Gigi's safety. 
Gigi, on the other hand, has problems of her own, including the demise of her relationship with high school sweetheart, Ben, and a looming job interview with Ophelia Lambert, the scariest potential employer in the Hollow. And then there's the small matter of the handsome, frustrating vampire who keeps appearing in Gigi's peripheral vision, then disappearing before she can talk to him. 
Can the Scanlon sisters negotiate romantic problems, vampire politics, and Christmas cookie disasters and enjoy a relatively normal holiday?
This novella is fun to listen to and you don't have to really have read the series before diving into this one. Granted I was familiar with the world this one inhabits so I was not completely lost. This one is good for those that want a bit of "red" with their holiday treat as well as some laughs.

Kindle book:
A Karma Girl Christmas
by Jennifer Estep
Series: #3.5
Novella
It's Christmas time in Bigtime, New York, but society reporter Carmen Cole isn't in the mood to celebrate since her husband, Sam, has to go on a business trip and might not make it home for the holiday. But Carmen has plenty to keep her busy, since she moonlights as Karma Girl, a member of the Fearless Five superhero team.

On Christmas Eve, Carmen, as Karma Girl, is assigned to guard toys, clothes, food, and more that are intended for needy children and their families. But an ubervillain also has his eye on the toys and plans to steal and then sell them to the highest bidder. Carmen will have to use all her empathic powers just to stay alive, not to mention make sure Christmas is a happy one for all the kids who are counting on her. It's all in a night's work for a superhero ...
This is another novella that can be read as a standalone. I love this series and it holds easter eggs from the other series the author writes. This one is if you want a little superhero in your holiday bag.

Short Novel: 
Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol
by Jim Piecuch
Standalone/Retelling
Tiny Tim is all grown up in this continuation of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol, and this time, a certain ghost shows him the true meaning of Christmas cheer! 
In A Christmas Carol, evil Scrooge was shown the error of his ways by three helpful ghosts and vowed to become a better person. Bob Cratchit and his family benefited most from Scrooge’s change of tune—but what happened after the goose was given, and Scrooge resolved to turn over a new leaf? 
Tim Cratchit’s Christmas Carol shows us Tiny Tim as an adult. Having recovered from his childhood ailment, he began his career helping the poor but has since taken up practice as a doctor to London’s wealthy elite. Though Tim leads a very successful life, he comes home at night to an empty house. But this holiday season, he’s determined to fill his house with holiday cheer—and maybe even a wife. 
When a single, determined young mother lands on Tim’s doorstep with her ailing son, Tim is faced with a choice: stay ensconced in his comfortable life and secure doctor’s practice, or take a leap of faith and reignite the fire lit under him by his mentor, Scrooge, that fateful Christmas so many years ago.
This is another short book which is a sort of retelling of A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite holiday stories. In this one Tiny Tim is all grown up and on the verge of making a lifetime decision.

Speaking of Scrooge...

Movie:
Scrooged
In this modern take on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.

Speaking of retellings of A Christmas Carol...
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 Christmas animated musical comedy television special directed by Chuck Jones.


Of course there are a ton of movies from that era that I still love but I HAD to mention the Grinch. Plus, Chuck Jones rocks and had sent me something in the mail a million years ago. 

AND speaking of unusual...

A Wish for Wings that Work

I don't know if anyone here has watched this one, but it is off the long gone Opus the Penguin. This one made me laugh. This is actually the full movie, so it is 23 min. long.
ALBATROSS! πŸ˜†



πŸŽ€

Also, don't forget to do something kind and enter for a prize (just click on the pic below to go to the post):

Remember even the smallest kindnesses counts. The smallest kindness can make someone's day. Even the Grinch found that out. πŸ˜‰ That is all that is needed to enter. I did make the rules a bit more clear (I hope. LOL). We all need to see kindness right now so share! Plus kindness tends to spread and that is also why you need to share. Just remember to share at the giveaway post.

As for the entertainment... any odd holiday suggestions for me? I may do music on another post.
πŸŽ„πŸŽ…

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Puppy Birthday Giveaway!

Well it's time!

First, let me say that I'm sorry this one wasn't going to be international. I just can't afford the shipping. However, if you are willing to pay the shipping, then that is another matter. Unfortunately then it wouldn't be a prize in the truest sense.

I will run this one like I have the others

The Rules:
Kindness. Just spread it around. 

You must have done something kind to a person or an animal in need (in the past it was only for animals and this year I've expanded it as explained HERE as to why (posts on this issue can be found on the featured area to the left). Lend a hand to someone who needs it. Support any cause that uplifts another/animal or fights for their rights (you can also add a link to the animal links in the page listings, it's for charity). Blog post about a issue or cause. Called on your representatives to actually represent! Adopt a pet. Just make someone turn that frown upside-down! Giving your spot in line to someone who seems rushed. Bought someone coffee. Made someone feel welcome. Compliment someone. Donate time. Donate used but serviceable goods. Seriously, ANYTHING kind.

Sometimes it is the smallest kindnesses we don't recognize in ourselves that can have a big impact. Think back when a small kindness was given to you and it made your whole day. Little things add up to big things. That is why you should also recognize the small things.

Just do SOMETHING that really shows that you care. You could have done this action at any time during this year of 2016. Gotta make the year positive somehow. 

πŸ’— Expand that heart! πŸ’—

You must put what you did in the comments in πŸ‘‰THIS post onlyπŸ‘ˆ (okay, you can comment on other posts what you did but it only counts here for the giveaway). 

You must then fill out the rafflecopter form (to keep it organized and simple).

It is US only because of shipping.

The giveaway starts Today and ends on Dec. 30th, 2016. 

πŸ’žAlso, if you could help promote it, I would be grateful. *gives soulful puppy eyes* I think we need to see as much kindness as possible. I'm not asking for follows, just kindness! Retweeting this link would help: https://twitter.com/BooksThings/status/805896984091656193πŸ’ž

The Prizes:
I tried to keep to the bookish theme since most of you are readers and kept a bit to the animal side since it is celebrating my pup's b-day. Both books are animal positive so no need to grab any tissues. I also wanted to throw a bit of fun into the mix to hopefully put a smile on your face. Guess which one I'm talking about with that one? LOL

I'm also throwing in a choice between the key FOBs listed below. A second place winner will also get their choice of key FOB.

I really hope you all like the prizes.

The Details:
A poop emoji bag! Dimensions are about 3.5" x 3.5"
4 Harry Potter felt bookmarks. One for each house.
Felt cable (earbud) holder. Earbuds not included.
CHOICE of either key FOB (second place also gets choice). 




The Love Dog 
By Elsa Watson
Fired from her job as a paralegal, Samantha Novak is in trouble. When Telltale, a Hollywood tabloid, asks her to write an expose on the reality television dating show, The Love Dog, Samantha is thrilled. She's always dreamed of being a writer, and the fat paycheck won't hurt. After being recently left at the altar, she's not too keen on love either. 
Hired as the canine star's handler, Samantha finds that digging up dirt on set is harder then she thought. Apollo, the show's star, is a sweet golden retriever who takes his job as the "love dog" very seriously. He only wants to help couples fall in love and make everyone on set happy. Mason Hall, the show's producer and leading man, is down to earth, charming, and... very attractive. 
If Samantha doesn't reveal to the world that the reality show isn't exactly "real," her new career will be over before it starts. But when she falls in love with Apollo and Mason, will she still have the heart to expose The Love Dog's dirty secrets?
Elsa Watson returns with another charming "tail"!

Doghouse
by L.A. Kornetsky
Even though she’s unlicensed as an investigator, the infamously nosy Ginny Mallard has begun to make a name for herself as an unofficial champion of the tongue-tied. When a mysterious stranger comes to her with landlord trouble, she convinces her bartender friend Teddy Tonica to help her once more. Soon, they realize they might have got themselves tied up in an underground dogfighting ring. With the help of Ginny’s pet shar-pei puppy and Tonica’s tabby cat, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt. Will twelve legs really be better than four?
The Rafflecopter Form

This may be the last one I do (the dog is fine so no worries) so don't wait until next year to enter. Also, I do think I may have a few giveaways in the near future of older books that I have and I need to make space. So if you are wanting more books, look for those. 

It has been fun "meeting" many of you. I hope this post ends up making you smile like it has for me in the past. It seems like something we all need right about now. 

The pup also thanks you for thinking of others at this time.
🐢

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

Standalone
340 p.
Publisher: Pyr
Published: 11/1/16
Source: From publisher for review
In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy. 
Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael SteinhΓΌller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever. 
The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering faΓ§ade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?
My thoughts:

I really enjoyed Stephanie Burgis's last historical novel, Masks and Shadows (review linked) so I was thrilled that this one came in the mail for review. This is based on some historical events (Congress of Vienna) and people ( for example Pergren, a villain in the book, was a real villain in life). The author even suggests books at the end of the story if you would like to further your education on the time or people of the book.

Of course not everything is based on truth and usually that is the part that I enjoy. I would have thought the alchemy would have drawn me in... well, it did, but what really captivated me was the mystery. Caroline was the mystery. Her past, present, and what she wanted all intermingled with the political intrigue of the time period.  How those puzzle pieces came together is what really what had me turning the pages of this book.

There are other POVs within the book which enhances the political mystery as well as brings to light other aspects that Caroline did not and could not have known or expected. One of them is the viewpoint of Michael who was an old trusted friend whom she felt abandoned her. You also get a viewpoints of Emperor Francis and Peter who is part of an actors group caught up in the intrigue. These viewpoints are well placed and so it wasn't confusing to the reader.

Without revealing what happens I have to say I really enjoyed the ending. I did not want to put it down and it was quite satisfying, especially with our main character, Caroline. This is a solid mystery with some paranormal happenings to enhance the threat. I give this book 4 stars.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly

Series: Seriously Wicked #2
240 p.
Publisher: Tor Teen
Published: 11/1/16
Source: From publisher for review
A sparkling new adventure about teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, introduced to readers in Seriously Wicked 
Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them. 
Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.
Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?
My thoughts:

I had not read the first book in this series and I had a feeling I would be okay skipping it. I was so you should have no problems if you haven't read the first book (although I know it's gotten good reviews).  I did read her Ironskin series and enjoyed them so that was another reason I took a chance on this book, plus I was in the mood for something light.

The book as a whole is YA but it reads quite young. I would think that mature MG kids could read this one with no problems. While the themes weren't too mature, there was some alcohol in the book even though Cam was against underage drinking. I would probably suggest those that are on the fence about letting their kids read it try it first before deciding. If nothing else you will have read a entertaining book yourself.

Within the story Cam is determined to be a good witch despite being surrounded by "wicked" witches. She considers her mom a wicked witch (her mom concurs) but she is more like someone who wants her way and feels she knows what is best for everyone else. So... borderline evil. She finds that her mom's friends want to play a game in destroying her friend's lives but with an unexpected truce with her mom she figures out the most evil witch's end game and how to save everyone around her. She should be quite exhausted after trying to outthink everyone.

The secondary characters work and I really think they enhanced the story. I really liked her circle of friends and it was nice that she was able to let several of them in on her witchy secret. Sometimes the secret trope gets old quickly so that was a refreshing part of the story.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the friendship and the fun in dealing with a wicked witch while finding out what truly makes a good witch. I also enjoyed the end tidbits with the spells she had to figure out as well as her morality good witch list.