Archives for September 2015

Hotel Transylvania 2 – Loving, Forgiving and Just A Little Bit Crazy


This sequel to Adam Sandler’s successful Hotel Transylvania picks up with Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel. Starring the voice talent of Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, it opens September 25. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Lainey A. (age 13) comments, “This animated movie directed by Genndy Tartakosky is truly hilarious and left the audience and me laughing out loud.  If you didn’t enjoy the original Hotel Transylvania very much, give this sequel another try because I truly believe this movie is much better than the original. “  Mia A. (age 11) adds, “I enjoyed Hotel Transylvania 2 better than the original movie because the writing is funnier and the plot more intriguing. “ See their full reviews below.



Hotel Transylvania 2

By Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This animated movie directed by Genndy Tartakosky is truly hilarious and left the audience and me laughing out loud.  If you didn’t enjoy the original Hotel Transylvania very much, give this sequel another try because I truly believe this movie is much better than the original.


By far my favorite character is Dracula (Adam Sandler), because he is such a special character. He is so loving, forgiving and maybe just a little crazy sometimes.   This movie makes me want to have a grandfather like him because he is so powerful and loving.   A continuous joke is Dracula trying to get used to his cell phone.  His fingernails are too long to type with so he is always frustrated with this new technology.


The relationship between Dracula and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) is so beautiful and memorable.  With very exciting news, Mavis is pregnant! It’s a boy!  The strong bond between baby Dennis and his “Vampa” (vampire grandpa) Dracula, is my absolute favorite relationship through this whole movie because their love is so strong even though it is hard for Dracula to accept that his grandson is half human.  Dracula is concerned that his grandson hasn’t indicated that he is going to be a vampire, so he takes five of his hotel friends to try to scare the fangs out of Dennis. They go on this ridiculous adventure to do whatever it takes to get Dennis’s fangs showing.  Will Dennis be more like his mother who is a vampire, or stay a human like his father?


Adam Sandler puts his own spin on this movie.  As co-writer of the screenplay, his goofy short songs pop up throughout the movie.  Not only are the song lyrics funny, but they are also relatable and entertaining for the audience because he takes commonly known songs such as twinkle twinkle and alters the words to be slightly inappropriate and silly.


The special effects are outstanding and I enjoyed all of the different things they do with the animation.  I watched this film in 3D and loved how it makes the characters and settings pop and makes each setting special.  In the scene where Dracula leads Dennis and some other monster guests on a crazy adventure, there are so many special effects that it becomes total chaos.


The message of this film is that no matter how different someone else is, they could be the best thing that ever happens to you, so love them no matter how different they are.  This film really makes me realize how crucial to accept others.


The character Blobby, a gelatinous blob, is definitely a crowd pleaser and the younger audiences laughed out loud at his silly antics.  The target audience for Hotel Transylvania 2 is anyone who wants to laugh and have a good time.  I recommend this movie for ages 5 to 18 because some of the scenes might be a little scary for some young children.  I recommend seeing this movie in 3D as well because it is a very cool experience and give it  5 out of 5 stars because this movie is truly hilarious.


Hotel Transylvania 2

By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Hotel Transylvania 2, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, is super entertaining! This animated movie is definitely a comedy filled with many funny lines and actions.

This movie is about Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her husband Jonathan (Andy Samberg).  Mavis is pregnant and has a baby boy.  Will Mavis’s baby boy fulfill the expectation of being a vampire or will he be just a simple human?

I love the animation and watching it in 3D really helps everything pop and come to life.  I watched the behind the scene video clips and realized how much hard work went into making this movie, including the detailed animation and the voice-overs for the characters.  There are so many details in this film from designing every tree, sign and rock to creating a certain mood.


I enjoyed Hotel Transylvania 2 better than the original movie because the writing is funnier and the plot more intriguing.  After seeing the sequel it made me realize how much more I cared about the characters in Hotel Transylvania 2 than I did in the original. If you were disappointed in the original, give number 2 a chance because it might just change your mind.


The moral of this story is that people you care about are going to grow up and you have to eventually let them go. This is a very good moral that can teach many people.


Adam Sandler is amazing in his roll as the voice of Dracula. While all the voice actors are good, Adam Sandler is particularly funny. My favorite line of Dracula’s says is his response to Dennis when he says, “Blah blah blah.” Dracula replies,  “I do not say ‘blah blah blah!'” in a funny voice. My favorite character in this movie is Wayne The Werewolf because he is so funny.  My favorite line said by Wayne is,” We don’t need to hunt anymore; we have pop tarts!”

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 vampires because all of the comedy, animation and great performances by the voice actors. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18 because there are some parts in the film that could be scary to younger kids. This movie is a very funny film with amazing animation, so make sure to see Hotel Transylvania 2 in theatres September 25.


Coloring for Adults? Yes, please! A great way to help with stress! Skyhorse presents 12 new titles to help you achieve mindful meditation through creation

Art Nouveau Coloring for Everyonesmall   Whimsical Designs Coloring for Artists-NEWsmall  Mandalas Coloring for Everyone 9781632206480small

Since 2013, coloring books targeted to adults have topped bestselling charts, selling more than 1.5 million copies in over twenty-two languages. Five of the top thirty titles on Amazon’s bestseller list are coloring books aimed at adults. Skyhorse Publishing’s first four adult coloring books featuring the paisley and mandala motifs have already sold out four printings, selling at bookstores like Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, and at specialty stores like Michael’s Arts & Crafts and A. C. Moore.


Not unlike the adult summer camps and wine-and-painting parties that have surged in popularity over the last couple of years, coloring is a nostalgic activity that allows people to unplug and fend off the stresses of daily life. With our screen-weary culture, it’s no surprise that adult coloring events have begun to pop up across the US attracting “colorists” to unplug and unwind in social settings.


The recent surge in adult coloring is not just attributed to nostalgia but also its therapeutic effects. Coloring encourages creativity without the intimidation of staring at a blank page. In fact, research suggests that coloring within a premade design might help fight anxiety.  Clinical psychologist Kimberly Wulfert of explains that “In coloring, you’re being mindful, and when you move in a rhythmic fashion for an extended period of time, that becomes a meditation.”


Unlike most coloring books, Skyhorse’s books have sixteen pages of full color for inspiration along with perforated pages, allowing budding artists to photocopy, gift, or display their beautiful creations! This twelve-book series features vibrant illustrations and detailed introductions highlighting the histories of the motifs, including paisley, mandala, art nouveau, zen, mehndi and whimsical designs.


Whether you’re interested in the mindfulness movement, in therapy for seniors, or in a business trend that’s dominating the book business, adult coloring books are hot!


For a world full of stress, there is no simpler way to unplug and relax!

I have always loved to color and it has always been a calming thing for me to do. I am not surprised that there are now coloring books for adults. I received samples of Skyhorse’s books and was quite impressed with all the different creative designs. I am now planning to give a few friends these amazing books during the holiday time! 

Here are a few of my favorites that you can download and color!

coloring page paisley 2

coloring page paisley 1

coloring page mandala 3

You can purchase at and Indiebound.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. Press info, photos and download links were provided by Skyhorse.

Sky Pony titles that are perfect for Kids this Halloween!

Fall is here and that means Halloween will soon be here! Sky Pony has some delightful books for Kids this upcoming holiday. I received samples copies and highly recommend them all.


This one is my favorite!  Great for Kids that are reading chapter books (I agree with the recommended ages 7-10). Bella Donna is a fun and interesting character and I think children will love her!

BELLA DONNA: COVEN ROAD – The first book in a new series!

Written by Ruth Symes and Illustrated by Marion Lindsay

On Sale: September 8, 2015 | ISBN: 978-1-63450-154-5 | Price: $7.99 | Ages 7–10

Princesses? Boring! Unlike all of her friends, Bella Donna dreams of becoming a witch. Ever since she was a baby, Bella Donna has suspected she has magical powers. Bella tries keeping her witchy tendencies a secret from her new foster family—and she stays on her best behavior—but when she comes home early one day from school, she stumbles upon something very surprising. Could Coven Road really be a road for witches? The first installment of the sweet, spooky Bella Donna series will captivate young, magic-loving minds. The text is broken up by adorable pen and ink illustrations that make this a good introduction to chapter books for reluctant or struggling readers, and the vocabulary is not too difficult or challenging.

Ava the Monster Slayer-NEW-REVISEDsmall

This one will make kids laugh and I love the positive message in this one! I also agree with the recommended ages 3-6. 


Written by Lisa Maggiore and Illustrated by Ross Felten

On Sale: September 1, 2015 | ISBN: 978-1-63450-151-4 | Price: $16.99 | Price: $16.99 | Ages 3-6

Called “a triumphant sally in the long-running war against closet and other domestic monsters” by Kirkus Reviews, Ava the Monster Slayer tells the story of a young girl who rescues her favorite stuffed piggy from the monster-infested basement, all while donning her signature glasses, her brother’s superhero cape, her rain boots, and a sparkly princess crown. Why leave all the fighting and world-saving to the guys? Following in the footsteps of Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Black Widow from The Avengers, Ava the Monster Slayer teaches both girls and boys that females can be strong, be brave, and find their courage when needed.



A charming and delightful book for the younger kids! A delightful adventure!


Written by Anne Margaret Lewis and Illustrated by Aaron Zenz

On Sale: September 1, 2015 | ISBN: 978-1-63450-214-6 | Price: $15.99 | Ages 3–6

Inspired by the beloved children’s classic The Runaway Bunny, The Runaway Pumpkin is the next best Halloween classic. A cute little Halloween pumpkin announces that he is ready for a Halloween adventure. So he prepares to set out on the exploration of a lifetime. However, his ever-watchful and caring mother wants to make sure he’s prepared before he takes that first step outside. A book about a little pumpkin who is ready to tackle the holiday with gusto, this book encourages kids to use their imaginations and to go on adventures. It also teaches kids that having adventures and making memories with someone important to them can be extra fun.

I Want to Eat Your Books 9781634501729smalll

I love that this one is not scary even though it has a zombie in the story!


by Karin Lefranc and Tyler Parker

On Sale: September 22, 2015 | ISBN: 978-1-63450-172-9 | Price: $16.99 | Ages 3–6

I Want to Eat Your Books is a delicious introduction to the value of books. When a hungry zombie stumbles into a school looking for books to consume, it’s up to the kids to teach him how books are for reading, not eating! This monster book is silly and fun with a strong message about kindness and friendship. The little zombie teaches kids not to jump to conclusions and to give everyone a chance. This is the perfect monster book for little ones who want a thrill but aren’t looking for anything too scary.

You can purchase the following:

Ava the Monster Slayer: Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound

I Want to Eat Your Books: Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound

The Runaway Pumpkin: Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound

Bella Donna: Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the books to facilitate this post. Photos and press info were provided but no other compensation.

The Herbert Bail Orchestra Debuts New Single, ‘You Are Beautiful’


Herbert Bail Orchestra steps out into the sunshine with their new single ‘You Are Beautiful’, a joyful uptempo ballad. Filled with warm, uplifting lyrics and a sprinkling of Wild West dust, the track is a piece of musical storytelling deftly narrated with the raw and contagious spirit of contemporaries Edward Sharpe, Lord Huron, and others in the folk and Americana traditions.


‘You Are Beautiful’ was produced by Chris Rondinella of Heritage Recording Co, who spent his early days apprenticing under Levon Helm of The Band. ‘You Are Beautiful’ was mixed by Brian Bender of MotherBrian, and mastered by Gavin Lurssen of Lurssen Mastering. The cover art is from Matthew Hoffman’s public art work piece in Chicago, ‘You Are Beautiful’.

I received a free copy of this CD ad love how uplifting and peaceful this music is!


‘You Are Beautiful’ is available for free download via SoundCloud.

About Herbert Bail Orchestra

From the depths of the modern American folk movement hails the vast musical journey known as the Herbert Bail Orchestra. LA Weekly declares Herbert Bail one of the Best Shows to See in LA. “Bottom line: Herbert Bail leaves you amazed!” says mySpoonful.

Recently, the band collaborated with award-winning director Björn Rühmann to create a music video trilogy inspired by three songs from their last album. The first in the series: “The Nature of Things” explores the story of a man, his dog and their last road. It was released exclusively on Nowness and received a Vimeo Staff Pick and was featured in 1.4’s “Six of the Best Creative Music Videos.”


“Herbert Bail Orchestra journey into the American psyche,” says Rebecca Guinness of Nowness.


Recently Herbert Bail released a new single You Are Beautiful which received mention in the HUFF POST, OC Weekly, Buzzbands and more. Herbert Bail is currently performing locally in and around Los Angeles and working on a collection of new songs for release sometime next year.


Singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Anthony Frattolillo, leads an ensemble with accordion, keys, strings, horns, a rhythm section, harmonies, and more.


Herbert Bail’s first album The Future’s in the Past was released in early 2013. Violent Success gave it a 9 out of 10. “A sprawling collection of gypsy folk that’s rich in storytelling and carving out myths of its own,” says Kevin Bronson of Buzzbands.LA. The album received notable attention from KXLU, KTLA, Good Morning LA, AXS TV, Sofar Sounds, SXSW’s Crave Online Music Showcase, LA Record, LA Underground and more. The Future’s in the Past traverses from the cryptic shadows of “Holy Smokes” to Western infused ballads portrayed in songs like “The Nature of Things.”

You can find Herbert Bail on Twitter and on Facebook.

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Any opinions expressed are my own. Press info and photos were provided.

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 3 Robots, Planes, Cities & More!


Fans of The LEGO Adventure Book series from No Starch Press get ready—heroes Megs and Brickbot are about to embark on their most grueling quest yet! In the latest installment of this popular series (more than 100,000 copies sold), readers go on an unforgettable journey through the studios of the world’s finest LEGO builders.

In volume 3 of The LEGO Adventure Book series, titled “Robots, Planes, Cities & More!” (No Starch Press, $24.95, 192pp., Sept 2015), readers learn to build colorful LEGO models including an old-time movie theater, a Renaissance-era house, a jukebox, sushi, an ice cream truck, sports cars, and even a chicken coop. With step-by-step breakdowns of 40 LEGO models and dozens of lively scenes, studios, and more, this is Megs and Brickbot’s most inspiring adventure to date.

According to No Starch Press founder Bill Pollock, “We publish books that encourage our readers to think and create. This tour through the LEGO world shows that building with LEGO is about creativity; the number of amazing things you can build is endless.”

More than 20 years after its founding, No Starch Press continues to inspire LEGO builders, novice and master, all over the world. Readers are never too old (or too young!) to get creative, unleash their imaginations, and have a LEGO adventure all their own.

I received a copy of this book and it really is a Must-Have for Lego fans! There are so many pages of so many things to build and the illustrations are so detailed and easy to follow if you are a Lego builder. I have always found building with Lego a creative talent and am in awe when my son creates with them. This is a creative and imaginative book and I highly recommend for both kids and adults.

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 3: Robots, Planes, Cities & More! will be available in bookstores everywhere this September.

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About the Author

Megan H. Rothrock is a former product designer for the LEGO Group. Her models have been displayed at ComicCon and LEGO events across Europe. A former editor at BrickJournal, she currently works as a freelance toy designer. She is the author of The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 1 and The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2.

Available in fine bookstores everywhere, from, or directly from No Starch Press,, 1-800-420-7240.

Self Disclosure: I received an advanced copy for free to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. Press info and photos were provided. 

About No Starch Press
No Starch Press has published the finest in geek entertainment since 1994, covering topics like LEGO, hacking, science, math, and programming for all ages. Our titles have personality, our authors are passionate, and our books tackle topics that people care about.

About O’Reilly
O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

Move Over Salads, Hello Badass Power Cookie! A Healthy option for the Fall!


Fall is here and that usually means cooler weather is coming up and all those comfort foods! All those pumpkin spice lattes, muffins, cookies. I know, salads are a healthy option. But, how about a cookie that is healthier?

Enter Badass Power Cookie: a high protein, vegan cookie that is packed with the fiber and nutrients that help sustain a healthy lifestyle. The signature oatmeal raisin cookie offers the enjoyment of a comfort food or a “cheat” snack but without any of the accompanying guilt or empty calories.


Packed with non-GMO, whole ingredients and plant-based protein spirulina, the cookies give energy before a workout and repair muscle fatigue after, as well as help promote healthy digestion. Each serving (1 cookie) contains 10g of protein and provides key phytonutrients that exceed those found in 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables.

I received a couple of cookie samples and was actually quite surprised how tasty they were! Of course, they won’t keep me from a pumpkin spice latte but they are tastier than many salads! What a great way to eat your fruits and veggies.

To find out more, check out their website.

Self Disclosure: I received samples to facilitate this post. Photo Credit: Baddass Power Cookie.


Rudolph Pork Rinds are a Must-Buy! Giveaway Opportunity!


You may remember that last week, we featured Thank a Truck Driver and Rudolph Foods. Hope that you were able to participate! To find out who won, you can simply click here. I received some delicious samples of their tasty Pork Rinds and they are simply a tasty snack!

We have teamed up for a Giveaway! One winner will win their own free sample! To enter, leave a comment below telling us your favorite thing about the Fall. Deadline to enter is October 1st, 2015 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected via

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. Photo Credit: Rudolph Foods.

Tom Tom is Pet of the Week!

Tom Tom, Sept. 24 Pet of the Week

Tom used to be a common name for male cats, so we’ve named this great 3-year-old orange guy Tom Tom. See, that way, if he doesn’t come when you call him the first time, he’ll come right afterward! But seriously—and Tom Tom seriously wants a loving forever home—you can get this love bug with the distinctive nose fleck at the Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS.Ask for ID# A552380. Tom Tom will love love you for it!


(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)


Credit: Thank you to the Companion Animal Village.