Month: May 2017

More Than a Soldier Book Review

Italy Book Tours

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

More Than a Solider Book Review

About More Than a Soldier

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

My Thoughts

More Than a Solider is a truly powerful story of a young man who is determined to survive and fight for what he believes and knows is true. It is a story full of bravery, grace, resilience and leaves you feeling humbled, sad and hopeful. While a true story about Angelo’s experiences during the war, it does not glorify war. It shows us the real pain, the hopes and frailness of life.

Angelo enlisted in the US Army and was soon off to fight at the front with the very important battalion, the Rangers. They are trained in a physically demanding manner that makes you cringe but once they are out in the field, you truly understand why they had to be so physically, mentally and emotionally prepared. When they are captured and many of the men in battalion are killed, you worry that the end is near. Somehow he manages to escape but is then out in the open behind enemy lines. This begins an even greater struggle for food, shelter and survival.

Through this novel we are exposed to the real sides of war – the brutality, the illness, the friendships, the hopes and fears. Everything is laid out bare for us in this novel. You feel sadness, hope and pray for him throughout his journey. More Than A Soldier should be a must read for young adults and adults a like. It is a truly special story that I feel blessed to have had read.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

More Than a Solider Book Spotlight

About the Author

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

The Giveaway!

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Watch Netflix When and Where You Want It #StreamTeam


 “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.” – Frank Underwood

I don’t think my children can ever truly appreciate how far technology has come in the last twenty years (I would even say ten!). I remember growing up having to record on video tapes to be able to watch a show later or just being out of luck if you were not at home at the right time from school or work to watch your favourite show. I used to race home from school in order to watch Saved By The Bell! If you missed a scene on the television, there was no rewind button and you couldn’t just pause a show in order to get a refill or go to the bathroom. I still remember when we received the TMN guide every month and I would plan out my month based on when the movies I wanted to watch would be on!

Netflix has changed the way we watch television. Gone are the days when you were limited to watching series and movies at certain times of the day and month, gone are the days of being unable to rewind and pause and welcome to days of flexibility and watching what we want when we want it.

Watch Netflix When and Where You Want It #StreamTeam

While Netflix gives us the opportunity to watch television like never before, it the viewers that are determining a whole new schedule for television viewing. Thrillers for breakfast, comedies in bed and learning at night? All of this is possible now!

Watch Netflix When and Where You Want It #StreamTeam

In our home, it is Power Rangers and comedies before school, documentaries after school (the kids LOVE Growing Up Wild and all of the amazing animal documentaries) and action and thrillers at bedtime, for the big kids – hubby and I – of course! Of course the best part is this can change anytime because we have the ability to watch a wide range of shows, even though our youngest is currently making us watch Power Rangers Super Samurai the entire season for about the twentieth time.

Watch Netflix When and Where You Want It #StreamTeam

BONUS: Are you in Ontario and traveling this summer? Check out the new download zones before you hit Cottage Country! Now you can stop the tears and frustration during the long drives up to the cottage by stopping in one of the download zones to load  up on some great hits. The download zones can be found in these spots and dates:

Canada Day weekend

 Civic Holiday weekend

  • Saturday, August 5 and Sunday, August 6 in Huntsville – 37 Main St E

 ­­­Labour Day weekend

Talk about taking streaming to a whole new level!

How has watching television in your home changed? How do you stream?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix StreamTeam Member and receive perks with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Get On The Move with Go! Go! Smart Wheels from VTech

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels

Little ones have a fascination with cars and wheels. Both of my boys loved to play hours on end with anything that had wheels that they could zip around the floor and the walls (especially the walls!). They were in even more awe when those same cars lit up and made noises.

Knowing that little children are fascinated with the movement, noises and lights of cars, VTech designed the Go! Go! Smart Wheels collection that helps children learn about the world around them while feeding their desire to play with cars that move and  make noise. The collection of vehicles sing songs and can even zoom off on their own with the touch of the button.

Get On The Move with Go! Go! Smart Wheels from VTech

The Go! Go! Smart Wheels Press and Race Fire Truck helps your child explore the world of fire safety and emergency response. Many children want to learn more about these trucks and the heroes that are aboard, and what better way to introduce them to their heroes than through play. Children can learn about firefighting, the letter ‘F’ and even perform their own rescues with their own fire truck. With the press of a button, their fire truck is quickly off to the rescue and your little one becomes the hero in an important rescue mission.

Get On The Move with Go! Go! Smart Wheels from VTech

The fire truck fits perfectly into your child’s hand and is geared to children aged 1 to 5. The fire truck will also respond to Smart Point locations on Go! Go! Smart Wheels  playsets and Go! Go! Animals tracks, which is a definite win-win in my mind.

Get On The Move with Go! Go! Smart Wheels from VTech

The Go! Go! Smart Wheels Press and Race Race Car introduces your child to life in the fast lane – in a fun way! This tiny but powerful race car lights up, sings songs and helps your child learn about the letter ‘R’ – you can even add in fun sound effects. Press, hold and let go and your race car is off to win the championship! This race car is the perfect gift for the child in your life that loves to be on the move and make cars zoom fast. Like the Fire Truck, the Race Car also responds to Smart Points on Go! Go! Smart Wheels  playsets and Go! Go! Animals tracks.

The Go! Go! Smart Wheels collection also includes a dump truck, runway airplane and a trot and travel royal carriage. All of these VTech products can be purchased at Toys R Us or Walmart.

Make sure to follow VTech on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news and products for your little one.

Disclosure: I received the above products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Dragon Rider Book Review

The Dragon Rider Book Review

In Book Two, The Dragon Rider, the barrier is down, war is brewing and dragons fill the skies once more.

The Dragon Rider Book Review

About The Dragon Rider

The barrier is down, war is brewing and dragons fill the skies once more.

Bakari is the first dragon rider in centuries but he alone cannot subdue the growing tensions among the kingdoms around Alaris. He begins a quest to find more dragon riders — the only way to secure peace in the fractured lands around him.

In this second book of the Alaris Chronicles everyone is forced to choose sides in the battle for the governance of Alaris. Roland Tyre seizes control of the Citadel and carefully plays both sides — but his immense charm and considerable wizard powers may prove useless against a deadly and hidden enemy. Battle Wizard Alli Stenos is in the thick of every fight she can find and only wants to secure an end to the violence.

The three young wizards, Bakari, Roland and Alli have become more powerful than many of their elders. But will that be enough to keep Alaris, and the surrounding kingdoms, from descending into all out war?

My Thoughts

The amazing adventure of three young wizards, Bakari, Roland and Alli continues in book two, The Dragon Rider. The second book in this series, is even more exciting than the first novel – with dragons, war, scheming and more. You literally do not want to put this book down in fear of missing what happens next.

The novel opens up with some history from the first novel but to really appreciate this novel, you should read the first in this series, which you can find more information here. After we get a recap of what has led up to this point, we dive into more of Bakari’s story. While I originally thought that Roland would emerge as one of the greatest wizards, it is Bakari – our quiet but thoughtful, compassionate and crazy smart wizard who emerges as the leader. It is Bakari who is marked as a leader and a saviour, a role that he does not relish in but accepts with humility. He is the perfect hero and as he searches for the remaining dragon riders to aid him in his quest, we see even more of his heroic qualities.

While he is on his mission, there is still so much going on in Alaris – a war over power that finds Alli and Roland stuck in the middle. Alli finds a new ally, one that neither you as a reader nor even she could imagine coming to her aid. Roland meets his match in an ancient and evil power. It is the evil power that Roland uncovers that helps us to understand the enormous evil that is about to be unleashed on the world. It is also a great bridge into the third book that leaves your craving for more.

The Dragon Rider is an excellent novel for young adults and adults who love a well written science fiction novel. Full of action, suspense and schemes you never see coming. I loved every moment of book two!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Mike has recently released the first book in a new YA/Teen fantasy series – The Alaris Chronicles, following his 2016 trilogy of The Cremelino Prophecy. Please join his mailing list at to continue to get information on these stories and any future publications.

Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn’t reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn’t put that great book down). Though he has read all sorts of genres he has always been drawn to fantasy. It is his way of escaping to a simpler time filled with magic, wonders and heroics of young men and women.

Other than reading, Mike has always enjoyed the outdoors. From the beaches in Southern California to the warm waters of North Carolina. From the waterfalls in the Northwest to the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Mike has appreciated the beauty that God provides for us. He also enjoys hiking, discovering nature, playing a little basketball or volleyball, and most recently disc golf. He has a lovely wife who has always supported him, and three beautiful children who have been the center of his life.

Mike began writing stories in elementary school and moved on to larger novels in his early adult years. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career. That, along with spending time with his wonderful family and obligations at church has made it difficult to find the time to truly dedicate to writing. In the last few years as his children have become older he has returned to doing what he truly enjoys – writing!

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Summer Reading from Raincoast Books

Raincoast Books

There is only one more month of school left (hard to believe right?!) and the laid back days of the summer are almost upon us. It is so important to keep up with your child’s reading through the summer months. Raincoast books has an excellent selection of books that are perfect for children to read with you and alone through the summer months.

Here are two of my favourite summer time readings for children:

Summer Reading from Raincoast Books

Shark Lady

This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady.

Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary-and they didn’t think women should be scientists.

Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname Shark Lady. Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.

Shark Lady is a truly special book – it reminds children and adults that no matter what anyone says we can be who we want to be. In this beautiful story, Eugenie fell in love with these magical creatures and knew this was her life calling. Nothing could stop her from learning and being a part of their world. No matter what anyone told her about choosing a different field or that it wasn’t the best fit job for a girl, Eugenie showed them that she could study sharks and that you could accomplish anything you wanted to with drive and passion. She showed the world that sharks are not vicious killers but instead she showed them compassion, understanding and respect and wanted the world to do the same. Shark Lady is an amazing book for children to learn to follow their dreams and to show everyone and every animal compassion and understanding.

You can purchase a copy of Shark Lady here.

Summer Reading from Raincoast Books

This Is How We Do It

Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days-and this one world we all share-unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow the real lives of seven children – Kei (Japan), Ribaldo (Peru), Kian (Iran), Oleg (Russia), Anaya (India), Romeo (Italy) and Daphine (Uganda). It is so important for children to understand different cultures, both are similarities and our differences. This Is How We Do It, offers children a look into the lives of others so that we can see how at the heart of things we are all truly the same. We get a look into where these children live, who they live with, what they were to school, what they eat, how they help and what they do in the evening. My favourite part of the book is right near the end when we get a picture of what each child sees at night, driving home that we are all the same. The book is beautifully illustrated with a well written story line.

You can purchase a copy of This Is How We Do It here.

What do you look for in books for summer time reading?

Disclosure: I received the above books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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