Month: September 2017

Reconnect With Family Game and Activity Time #PlayTestShare

Raincoast Books

With school starting up this month and the return of many after school activities, the focus on family down time can be pushed to the back burner. While we sometimes have to do a give and take at home, it is so important to carve out time for your family. This could be setting aside twenty minutes a day or a couple of hours together once a week. It is important to choose what works for your family so that way you know you will stick to it.

The best way to use that family time? Play fun and interactive games and activities that get you talking and laughing!

Reconnect With Family Game and Activity Time #PlayTestShare

Raincoast Books has put together nine games, activities and books that help strengthen the family bond through laughter. We tested out Royal Bingo and After Dinner Amusements: Family Time and had an amazing time!

Reconnect With Family Game and Activity Time #PlayTestShare

About Royal Bingo

This majestically illustrated bingo game features portraits of 64 royal icons from around the world. Spot famous faces like William and Kate, or meet some less familiar figures such as the playboy prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein. Each royal is further brought to life in an accompanying booklet, which details their personalities, foibles, gaffes and romances. Who will reign supreme?

Who doesn’t love learning about the royal families? When I saw this game I thought immediately of my Mom who is a HUGE royalty fan. She loves the English royal family but will read books, magazines and more about all the royal lineages. This game was pretty cool as you were able to learn about more than just the popular royal names and you were given a bit of background about each one. It takes Bingo to a whole new level while being great for young and adult players a like although I have a feeling that adults will love and appreciate this one a tad bit more!

Reconnect With Family Game and Activity Time #PlayTestShare

About After Dinner Amusements: Family Time

This is a fun little twist on classic games and activities and offers easy amusement during family dinners, holiday gatherings and road trips! This miniature deck of cards features fifty thoughtful and playful questions about the past, present, and future – a great way for family members to connect and learn new things about one another.

Reconnect With Family Game and Activity Time #PlayTestShare

This was an amazing way to get our kids and us talking about our family – what we loved and more! It had great questions and thought starters. We pulled it about an hour before bed time and let the kids choose three questions. While we answered the questions we also found ourselves discussing even more about what we want to see more of in our family time, what we want to do in the upcoming year, etc. We also set a monthly mini golf challenge and formed our teams. It was fantastic to have this time dedicated to talking about us.

The other seven titles include:

Animal Friends on a Parade Puzzle

From a gorilla in a party hat to a hedgehog rat-a-tat-tatting on his drum, these animal friends from different habitats—the jungle, farm, woodland, and Arctic—know that togetherness is something to celebrate. Featuring twelve double-sided uniquely die-cut pieces by artist Junzo Terada, this fun puzzle offers (nearly) endless combinations, providing hours of entertainment.

Say Zoop!

The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages.

Donner Dinner Party

Who’s safe when there are cannibals hiding among you? That’s the question at the heart of this fast-paced game of social deduction in which cannibals and pioneers face off in a fight for survival. Set in the winter of 1846, players are members of the ill-fated Donner Party wagon train, stranded atop a mountain with no food. Rowdy, outrageous, and full of deception, this party game packs a delightfully wicked twist!

Ghost Story Box

Based on a unique and original format, this game contains 20 story-telling puzzle pieces printed on both sides. Each piece can be interchanged or flipped over to allow for all kinds of plot twists and turns, and there are even two alternative endings! When all the puzzle pieces are used, they stretch out to over 8-feet long to tell your own mega ghost story!

Make and Move Mega: Dinosaurs

Press out, slot together and play with your very own T-Rex, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pteranodon. Created by talented paper artist and engineer Sato Hisao, each of these detailed 3D models comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions. No scissors or glue required!

Star Wars: Super Graphic

Graphic design guru Tim Leong presents STAR WARS trivia via playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics. From a Venn diagram of Yoda’s idiosyncrasies to an organizational chart of the Empire to a line graph of Grand Moff Tarkin’s management decisions, STAR WARS SUPER GRAPHIC shines a new light on the much-adored universe. Equal parts playful and informative, this visual love letter to the vast STAR WARS universe will enchant fans of all ages.

Travel Matching Game

Mix and match with this classic matching game, which includes 36 robust, jumbo-size cards featuring charming illustrations by Greg Pizzoli that will have kids ready to pack up their bags and explore the world! Children will adore pairing colorful images of suitcases, taxis, stop signs, and other classic travel imagery as they develop memory, concentration, and identification skills.

The Giveaway!

Now my Canadian readers have the chance to win one of the above games or activities of their choice to help them plan out their own family activity night! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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

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Simplify the Birthday Planning Process #StreamTeam


I love love love party planning. I look forward every year to planning our boys birthday parties. They are both summer babies so it gives me quite a bit of flexibility with the themes, planning and execution of their parties (not to mention we have generally had great weather). We usually only include family and close friends but every year I like to come up with a new theme and recipes to try out.

While I love planning birthday parties from the pre-planning to the actual day of, trust me I do still get overwhelmed.

As parents, we have a huge amount of pressure on our shoulders to throw the most memorable and fun party ever for your child. But really it shouldn’t be like that! The focus at the end of the day is your child and them reaching another important milestone. Sadly though, 2 out 3 parents feel pressure to be party perfect with 69% wishing that birthdays could be easier to make special.

Simplify the Birthday Planning Process #StreamTeam

So how do we simplify the birthday planning process and make the day special for our child?

Don’t invite every person your child has ever known or come in contact with. Keep it simple – family and a few friends. The day becomes easier and a lot less stressful when there are fewer people. The bonus? Family love helping out – use this to your advantage, maybe have a few family members bring over a special dish, ask for help with the clean up and help with supervision during the party. Every year we keep the invite list low and put the focus on our son and ask everyone to come prepared to get wet in the pool. My family gets to play with our boys and I have the pressure of direct supervision off of my shoulders so I can focus on having everything ready for our guests.

Simplify the Birthday Planning Process #StreamTeam

Keep the meals simple – think hot dogs, burgers and pizza. One year I went all out making exotic dishes but really and truly all my children and their cousins wanted was the basics. Funny enough, the adults felt the same too. If you plan ahead a couple of months, you can take advantage of sales and stock up on hot dogs and meat.

Simplify the Birthday Planning Process #StreamTeam

Instead of doing elaborate decorations, choose one focal point for the party. For us, that has always been the loot bags. For a Spider Man theme one year, I wrapped up the loot bags in spider webs and the kids loved it (although it was quite a pain to put together). We also did plastic fish bowls one year for a Nemo themed party and filled them with treats. You really don’t have to go over board when choosing loot bag items, some parents purchase a gift card whereas I like to include water balloons, plastic bouncy balls and candy.

Simplify the Birthday Planning Process #StreamTeam

Start the morning of your child’s birthday off with an extra special birthday wish from the characters from some of their favourite shows on Netflix, including LEGO, Troll Hunters, My Little Pony, Skylanders and much more! What child wouldn’t love a special birthday song going out to them from their favourite character to watch on tv?

Check out this quick trailer to learn more about Birthdays On-Demand on Netflix.

Above all else, enjoy each and every moment of the planning and the actual day. Your child is one year older and wiser! Cherish every moment on their special day.

What do you do on your child’s birthday to make it memorable?

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

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Sky Throne Book Review

iRead Book Tours

In Sky Throne, on his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

The Sky Throne Book Review

About Sky Throne

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

My Thoughts

I LOVE Greek history (well all history in general) and this book had all of my favourite Greek Gods but from a whole new view-point – before they became the Gods that grace the pages of history books and classes.

The story focuses around Zeus who is a light-hearted prankster who yearns for more than the life of taking care of sheep that he is leading. He is such a funny sweet young man who it is almost hard to imagine in the beginning that this young man will become the great Zeus. It is when his best friend is murdered and his Mother injured that Zeus sets out on a quest to learn more about his past, avenge his friend’s murder and to find his place in the world.

This is when we meet with some of the other God’s and get an intimate look into their youth and personalities. Zeus enters a very special and elite school with very few of the other God’s. They are in a constant competition with the neighbouring school who broke apart from Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia. This is when the story gets really exciting! The plot begins to centre around the Sky Throne, the disappearance of his friends and a battle between (what felt like) good and evil.

I loved every moment of this exciting story and felt it would be great for young adults and adults alike. It gave such a unique and different look at the lives of the Gods before they became famous in history. We saw them as they begin to grow into their roles, as somewhat normal teens trying to find their place in the world. It was definitely a novel that I could not put down and have read several times over since receiving this book. It is a definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble and Book Depository.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USATODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel. The second book in the series is set to release in 2018.

He’s a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

Book Trailer

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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Life Long Book Review

iRead Book Tours

Like so many Americans before him, he travels through unfamiliar territory with no clear way of knowing who will help and who will harm him. And he may well find himself on the wrong side of the border with a mind that has no borders.

Life Long

About Life Long

Ray Lopez is on the run with a duffel bag full of cash. Both drug dealers and the police are after him. But Ray is not a criminal. His last brush with the law was over traffic tickets. Recently released from the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he is haunted by voices, auditory hallucinations, that frighten him and cause him to question his every move.

Ray’s journey from California to Laredo is perilous. Like so many Americans before him, he travels through unfamiliar territory with no clear way of knowing who will help and who will harm him. And he may well find himself on the wrong side of the border with a mind that has no borders.

My Thoughts

Life Long is an emotionally charged, thought-provoking novel. Our main character, Ray, suffers with schizophrenia. I found this left him open to people who would use him, hurt him and prey upon his fears and worries. Ray was at the heart of things a truly kind and warm individual who wanted to help others. His mental illness caused him to act and say things he normally wouldn’t at times. It also caused him to live in fear and do things he probably shouldn’t but because he couldn’t process things the way others may, people took advantage of this. My heart broke for Ray at so many times throughout this story.

Ray was used by a person that was close to him and who should never have treated him the way he did. He was taken advantage of and this left him caught in the middle between drug dealers and the police. Because of the way he processes situations, he felt that his only option was to run. Which is what he did. We quickly see just how unprepared he is to move out into the world when he has been so sheltered for so long.

He finds himself on a journey that he was so unprepared for – including not having enough of his medication to help keep the voices caused by the schizophrenia at bay. He feels he has no other option but to cross the border into Mexico to look for medical help. His trusting and nervous nature makes him a quick target.

Life Long is an intimate look into the struggles of a young man dealing with a mental health condition. He is unprepared and unsure of the world around him – as he is always second guessing his decisions, is it the voices or is this a good decision? My heart broke so many times throughout this novel at the unfairness that he was dealt with and how resilient he was. Life Long is a definite must read novel for young adults.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, IndieBound.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Born and raised in Fresno California – Educated at St. Mary´s College California, University of California Berkeley, University of San Francisco – Practiced law from !966 to 2003 as a Deputy District Attorney, a criminal defense attorney, and a Deputy Public Defender – Appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974 and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County California.

Ronald L. Ruiz has published 5 novels and a memoir. Happy Birthday Jesus (1994), Giuseppe Rocco (1998), The Big Bear (2003), A Lawyer (2012), Jesusita(2015). and Life Long (2017).

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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Fuller House Returns Back and Better #StreamTeam


One of my favourite Netflix spin offs, Fuller House, returns in Season 3 on September 22nd, 2017! Fans young and old will love the comedy and family fun in this original series.

Fuller House Returns!

About Fuller House

In the spinoff series, Fuller House, life can take you into unexpected directions and also back into familiar territory when veterinarian and recently widowed D.J. Tanner-Fuller finds herself living in her childhood home with younger sister and aspiring musician Stephanie Tanner and DJ’s lifelong best friend/fellow single mother Kimmy Gibbler. The women reunite to help support one another navigate careers, parenting and relationships with the kind of love and humor you can only get from the people you grew up with.

The Tanner childhood house is fuller than ever with not only DJ’s three boys — the awkward 13-year-old Jackson, neurotic 7-year-old Max and baby Tommy Jr. — but also Kimmy’s feisty teenage daughter Ramona and Kimmy’s not so estranged ex-husband Fernando all under the same roof.

Fuller House Returns

Fuller House stars Candace Cameron Bure as D.J. Tanner-Fuller, Jodie Sweetin as Stephanie Tanner, Andrea Barber as Kimmy Gibbler, Juan Pablo Di Pace as Fernando, Soni Nicole Bringas as Romona, Michael Campion as Jackson, Elias Harger as Max, Dashiell and Fox Messitt Twins as Baby Tommy, Scott Weinger as Steve Hale, John Brotherton as Matt Harmon, and Ashley Liao as Lola.

Fuller House

Our Thoughts

I grew up watching Full House so I was already a huge fan but this season of Fuller House seems even funnier and heart warming than ever.  I was given the opportunity to watch the first two episodes in season three and couldn’t wait to watch it with my niece who is a HUGE Fuller House fan.

The very first episode had me going from laughing out loud to getting a bit teary eyed. The opening of the first episode was priceless and even had my youngest laughing and copying the song. What I love the most about this show is the real life portrayal of family life – it is honest and full of the ups and downs of life. Life and family can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. We have our moments of losing our minds and then other hilarious moments that make everything worth it. This is what Fuller House captures – the love, the sadness, the frustration and the humour.

Season Three of Fuller House is definitely going to be a must watch season! Get ready to catch the new season starting September 22nd, 2017.

Fuller House Trailer

Who is your favourite Fuller House character?

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

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