Archives for March 2016

Books of the Week!

The Great Adventures of Hotdog Man: Quirky New Fantasy Series Calls on Nation’s Favorite Snack to Defeat the Evil Dr. Mustard (Seriously!)


While most new fantasy authors are keen to break new boundaries, most dip their feet into the literary waters with some kind of recycled narrative that “plays safe” to the market. But not Michigan’s David Baer; a maverick new author who is rapidly making his mark by smashing onto the scene with an unlikely hero who is…well…a hotdog!

But it’s a true recipe for success. In fact, the first two volumes of ‘The Great Adventures of Hotdog Man’ boldly prove that nothing is to unconventional or weird for a fantasy audience that is become increasingly discerning. The series retains all of the hallmarks they crave, while offering something never before seen in the genre.


Volume one, ‘The Beginning’ – Centuries ago an evil power tried to take over the world, a powerful wizard, created gems that once possessed by a good hearted human would give him great powers to combat the evil, now that evil has returned and its time for new heroes to step up and protect the planet, Hotdog Man, a youngster steps up to the plate after the evil Dr. Mustard enslaves his Parents. Join our new friends and heroes as they gain incredible new abilities to battle the crazy doctor and his minions.

Volume Two, ‘The Mirror of Mushrooms’ – After getting amazing abilities from a powerful wizard, the world’s greatest superheroes must now travel to another dimension, to retrieve the mystical Mirror of Mushrooms, to gain new levels of power to combat the vicious Patricia Peachtree!

“I had to strike a very fine balance when writing these books,” explains Baer. “My goal was to take the time-tested concept of a hero seeking redemption and save the world in doing so, but I knew I had to offer the readership something totally new and off-the-wall. Where else will you find a cast of characters that include a Dr. Mustard, the sinister Major Mango, the dreaded Paprika-Tron and Barry Broccoli? The best bit is that the format works, perfectly!”

Continuing, “There’s also a very emotional undertone to the story, in that Hotdog Man’s quest is deeply personal, in terms of his fight to find his parents and save them from Dr. Mustard’s evil plans, along with the rest of the world. These threads will be of particular pertinence and interest to young adult readers who are just finding their feet in the world and developing their own emotional foundation. It’s great for young kids and fun-loving adults, too.”

With demand set to increase, interested readers are urged to get their hands on copies without delay.

Both volumes in ‘The Great Adventures of Hotdog Man’ are available now:

Volume one, ‘The Beginning’ –

Volume Two, ‘The Mirror of Mushrooms’ –

This one is quite imaginative! I found the characters interesting! Recommend for children 8+.

About the Author:

David Baer was born March 13th 1988 and grew up in the small town of Oscoda located in the North of Michigan. As a boy he loved fantasy stories and knew one day he would make one of his own, he is married to a woman named Heidi and has twelve doves and pigeons and in his spare time breeds them.

I love this next one!


FisherDawg by Lisa Phillips is a new children’s picture book that will have your children uttering the “oohs” and “aahs”.

Just about every kid in the world will identify with Cilla, aka FisherDawg.

This is a delightful story! I recommend for all young children! It’s a real must-read!

FisherDawg is a real dog with a zest for anything revolving around the sea.  The wonderful color photography and antics described in the story are all drawn from real life and will capture the hearts of children and parents alike. The delightful humor and silly antics will bring smiles and warmth to all. FisherDawg also includes fish jokes, crafts and a scrumptious recipe for FisherDawg’s favorite cookies that you can make for your “dawg.”

For more information, visit Lisa’s facebook page:

About the Author:

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Lisa Phillips started her career in the US Navy where she was first introduced to photography.  After leaving the service, she continued her career in the business world, specializing in marketing.


Lisa resides in Gloucester, Massachusetts which is part of a charming, seaside community called Cape Ann.


You can find Lisa Phillips through her Facebook Page ;

Via Instagram (@fisherdawg) and

I love this next one! It is truly heart-warming!

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Schiffer Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Reasons to Smile: Celebrating People Living with Down Syndrome, a compilation of short stories written by or about a loved one living with Down syndrome from writers around the globe. The goal of this book is to create awareness, education, and acceptance for people living with special needs.

Some proceeds from this book will be donated to Tim’s Big Heart Foundation, an organization that seeks to help people living with special needs reach their entrepreneurial goals.

Reasons to Smile: Celebrating People Living with Down Syndrome
By Andrea Knauss & Elizabeth Martins, Foreword by Keith Harris

This compilation of 56 encouraging and eye-opening short writings by a variety of authors across the globe celebrates the lives of people living with Down syndrome. Together with 56 inspiring “slice of life” photos, these candid true stories, including the renowned “Welcome to Holland,” provide inspiration and connection. Parents and families of children living with Down syndrome will discover a wealth of positivity and valuable guidance. Special education teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, and policy makers will find helpful information and insight from stories regarding behavioral health. And anyone who is looking to learn more about Down syndrome will discover a world full of possibilities they never knew existed.

About the Authors:


Andrea Knauss, Elizabeth Martins, and Anna Knauss are from Philadelphia. Andrea works in the counseling field and loves to garden, Elizabeth works in publishing where she enjoys the written word, and Anna is a fashionista who enjoys performance arts. You can follow along with their journey and this book Keith Harris is the father of Tim Harris, owner of Tim’s Place, the first restaurant in the US owned by a person with Down syndrome.

Find out more:

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. is a family-owned, independent publisher of high-quality, nonfiction books. Since 1974, Schiffer has published thousands of titles on the diverse subjects that fuel our readers’ passions. From our traditional subjects of antiques and collectibles, arts and crafts, and military history, Schiffer has expanded its catalog to publish books on contemporary art and artists; architecture and design; food and entertaining; the metaphysical, paranormal and folklore; and pop and fringe culture, as well as books for children.

Visit to explore our backlist of 5,000+ titles and learn about Schiffer’s exciting new releases. Whatever your passions are, Schiffer Publishing welcomes you to find your niche and scratch it with books from our catalog of specialized titles.

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received.


Muzic School Delivers Songs About Us by Kerry Fenster Album Aims to Educate, Empower and Entertain Kids with Special Needs


With the support and guidance of long time music executive Richie Gallo (,) who has worked with artists from Sting to Raffi, Kerry Fenster is getting the professional push necessary for the world to hear the music he’s designed for children with special needs. Fenster’s fine-tuned music therapy approach on Songs About Us provides parents, educators and therapists with a unique recording that assists kids in developing basic social and developmental skills.

Songs About Us is an innovative social skills behavioral tool for developmentally delayed young adults, disguised in a set of extraordinary songs that are accessible to the current generation,” said Gregory T. Anderson, J.D. Education Specialist, Vocational Education, The Help Group West. “You’ll find yourself whistling these catchy tunes.”

Kerry Fenster’s work with children with autism at The Help Group, one of the largest, most innovative and comprehensive organizations of its kind in the United States, spurred his passion to make music for the children. “Families with special needs children deserve music they can all enjoy and learn from together,” said composer Fenster of Songs About Us. “We are excited by the feedback we’ve received already from those who have heard the recordings.”

One of the four original songs on the recording is the lead single and music video “Quiet Hands,” an engaging song that encourages body control with a fun sing-along chorus which repeats “never to poke, never to scratch, never to hit, never to snatch” and features arm movements that both entertain and teach by example. “Hygiene,” “Personal Space” and “Use Your Words” are additionally entertaining, educational and energetic songs, each teaching popular social skills as indicated in the song titles. Enthusiastic, well-spoken peers provide charming greeting and parting statements for the album, which draw the listeners into the experience while subtly teaching vital conversational skills.

Produced by Mark Mazzetti, who has a significant history of creating Grammy® Award winning hit records, the independently released Songs About Usbears the hallmarks of a major label, high-quality listening experience. “Kerry has created some exciting music for a very special group of people. Supporting a generation with new music that might just make a difference in some lives is certainly a worthwhile project”, said Executive Producer Richie Gallo.

Aiming to educate, empower and entertain those with special needs while delivering practical tools to improve their regular interactions with others,Songs About Us –the first in a series from the label Muzic School– is a 5-song EP featuring 4 original songs plus an updated version of Pete Townshend’s “Pinball Wizard,” a lively tribute to the uniquely gifted. Songs About Us is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other popular online retailers as digital download for $6.99 or physical CD for $12.00. Both formats include song lyrics for lively sing-alongs and improved comprehension. A portion of all net proceeds will be donated to various children’s charities. For more information on Songs About Us, come check us out at or write to

Credit: Muzic School.

Charlie is Pet of the Week!

Charlie, March 31 Pet of the Week

Sweet, sweet Charlie is only 2 years old, but those eyes speak of an ageless patience and wisdom. He has great spirit and loves to play with humans, and displays a kindness toward them that’s remarkable. He’s a little shy in play groups with other dogs and would rather avoid the “tough guys.” Meet Charlie at Animal Care Services on the shelter side of the P.D. Pitchford Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A563498.


(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: Courtesy of Animal Care Services on the shelter side of the P.D. Pitchford Animal Village.

Denny’s and The Grand Slams Join in the March Madness and Offer a Slam Dunk Deal


On Thursday, March 31, the breakfast stars of Denny’s slam dunk web series, The Grand Slams, will be live at the College Slam Dunk Championship on ESPN at 9 p.m. The crowd can get in on the diner action and make some noise from the sidelines with free Denny’s thundersticks, as well as build their trading card collection with one-of-a-kind cards for each of The Grand Slam characters given out during the game.


Watching from home? Don’t worry – Bacon, Egg, Sausage and Pancake are coming straight to your living room! A teaser of the newest episode from The Grand Slams will air during the College Slam Dunk Championship, and you won’t want to miss this episode! After watching, fans can vote online via for their favorite Denny’s Dunk by The Grand Slams cast and simply leave a comment for a chance to win free Grand Slam®s for a year – talk about a slam dunk deal!

Credit: Denny’s.

Making Manna by Eric Lotke


Libby Thompson is just fourteen years old when she flees her abusive home with her newborn son, Angel. Now they must build a life for themselves on hard work and low wages, dealing with police who are sometimes helpful-but not always-and a drug dealer who is full of surprises. As Angel gets older, he begins asking questions about his family, and Libby’s tenuous peace threatens to crumble. Can a son without a father and a young woman without a past make something beautiful out of a lifetime of secrets? Making Manna explores the depths of betrayal, and the human capacity to love, flourish, and forgive in the face of heartbreaking odds.

I found this book engaging and recommend as a great read for adults! I especially like how realistic and in depth the characters are and found the book tough to put down! I found the characters to be the best part of the book and I really do hope for a sequel! 


Eric Lotke has spent his career driving change in the prison system. He’s spent time providing legal counsel to people incarcerated under DC law, working to reduce violence in neighborhoods, and researching how to create progressive economic change. His work with the census bureau’s treatment of prisoners has lead to integral changes in state law in New York, California, Delaware and Maryland and hopefully many more.  His lawsuit over the exploitative price of phone calls from prison also led to new rules by the FCC.
The National Criminal Justice System commissioned him to write The Real War on Crime.He is the author of two novels, 2044 and Making Manna. He lives in Washington, DC.

You can purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to participate in the Blog Tour for this book. No other compensation was received. 

The Adventures of Gumby: The Complete 60s Series – A Step Back in Time


This 1960s Gumby claymation series is perfect fun for young children. Through its cute lessons and humor, this collectible box set brings enjoyment through short adventures of fun characters. Gumby, Pokey and new friends such as Professor Kapp go on fun adventures through different stages of history, often invoking trouble and learning lessons along the way. This series will appeal to the oldest, die-hard fans as well as new kids who will find joy in these classic stories. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “I am a big fan of Claymation and this is a collection of the classic clay animation series from the 1960s. The DVD has a ton of episodes and you get to watch the technical aspects of the animation and the characters evolve over time.” Samantha A., adds, “Something I immediately noticed about this series is that the animation isn’t like any film series you’ll see made today. It is a clay animated show. This type of animation is particularly interesting because it is made by taking pictures of each movement the characters take.” See their full reviews below.

The Adventures of Gumby: The Complete 60s
Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Gumby is a very enjoyable and fun claymation series that is about a green humanoid character named Gumby and his side-kick and best friend Pokey. They go on wacky adventures that we see a lot while watching this series of episodes. Some of my favorite episodes were “ the zoops” “the glob” “Santa witch” and “hidden valley”. They are lots of other great episodes in this series as well, but these really stand out.

Something I immediately noticed about this series is that the animation isn’t like any film series you’ll see made today. It is a clay animated show. This type of animation is particularly interesting because it is made by taking pictures of each movement the characters take. The way the makers behind the animation create the claymation is included in the of the bonus features.

This show is also very creative. I watched the episodes and was amazed and often wondered about how they came up with these ideas. From the punch lines to the plot lines of each and every episode.

The bonus features on this DVD disc are something special. Included are behind the scene footage, a photo gallery of photos from making this film, the first aired pilot episode with sound and a very rare episode called “space ball”. I love that they include photos because it gives you an inside look on what was happening when they created the animation and it makes you feel connected to the show even more. Also, getting an exclusive look at never before seen special episodes is very cool because, while watching them I kept thinking about how rare they are.

I recommend this series for ages 5 to 18 as well as adults. They are classic films that anyone can enjoy and they first aired over 60 years ago so, this disc is perfect for anyone who grew up with Gumby and would like to see him in action again. This series also gets 5 out of 5 stars from me because these were such fun episodes that anyone can enjoy and the animation is interesting. Also, seeing the bonus features on the disc makes it much more enjoyable because I now have an appreciation for what went into making such this animated series.

The Adventures of Gumby: The 60s Series, Volume One
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

The Adventures of Gumby: The 60s Series is a very good DVD collection with some very creative animation for its time. I am a big fan of Claymation and this is a collection of the classic clay animation series from the 1960s. The DVD has a ton of episodes and you get to watch the technical aspects of the animation and the characters evolve over time.

The Adventures of Gumby: The 60s Series follows the title character – an enthusiastic green clay-boy – and his friend Pokey, a horse, as they go on fantastic adventures from battling in a joust to keeping a king in power to saving a princess from a knight and even a high-speed chase from a sculpture come to life.

As the series goes on you meet several new characters, like the mopey yellow dragon Prickle and a blue flying mermaid named Goo. My favorite characters are Rodgy the bird and Henry the bear. Rodgy and Henry make an excellent duo. There is a great episode on Rodgy’s origin story called Who’s What. Henry is molding clay and he makes a bird that comes to life. While Rodgy may not always agree with Henry, they always stick together.

My favorite episode in this collection is Even Steven, which follows Gumby and Pokey on a road trip but the trip goes haywire because of some con artists trying to take their money. This cat and mouse chase is funny and unpredictable.

Another episode I enjoy is Treasure For Henry. It follows Rodgy and Henry as they find some treasure that turns out to belong to pirates. This is one of several episodes in this series that is very creative with the use of real life objects in the animation.

I recommend that you watch all the episodes in this collection as well as the special features, especially for Gumby fanatics. The DVD includes the original TV pilot and some behind-the-scenes footage on how they do the Claymation. I’m amazed by how they use clay and I like watching the animation grow more sophisticated and complex over time.

I recommend The Adventures of Gumby for ages 5 to 12. It’s colorful and a fun show to watch and the jokes are meant for all ages. I give this DVD 3 stars out of 5 stars.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Interview with Joe Clokey, son of Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby. Joe is the producer of the new compilations and new Gumby shows which are soon to be released. Listen to his interview on our radio show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions here:


The 27th Annual America’s Family Pet Expo Returns to OC Fair & Event Center Giveaway Opportunity!


Showcasing thousands of pets, products and the people who love them!
Animal presentations, family pet entertainment, four-legged competitions and adoptions all weekend long
***Please Do Not Bring Your Pets***


The 27th annual America’s Family Pet Expo returns Friday, April 22 – Sunday, April 24, 2016 to the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa (88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa 92626). Cats, dogs, miniature farm animals, birds, and exotic reptiles, will come together in this unique event giving show guests the opportunity to experience furry, feathered and scaled friends in a variety of different ways.
“The Pet Expo is excited and proud to once again bring responsible pet care, entertainment, and pet adoptions to Orange County for the 27th year” said Doug Poindexter, President of the World Pet Association, producers of the America’s Family Pet Expo. “As the years progress, so does the show, with a variety of educational presentations, product launches, amazing pet acts and our popular animal adoptions. The Pet Expo truly is the place for anything pet-related.”

Last year 45,000 guests visited the America’s Family Pet Expo showing a 5% increase from 2014. There were more than 600 animal adoptions including dogs, cats – and even a few guinea pigs –that were adopted into “forever homes” from the Pet Expo’s Southern California animal rescue partner organizations

New to the Pet Expo, is an adorable collection of mini farm animals including mini donkeys, mini cattle, mini sheep, mini dairy goats, chickens, rabbits, and pot belly pigs. For equine lovers, horses from Camp Rusk Foundation for Retired Horses will make their debut.
Returning fan favorites include Splash Dogs, offering a wet-and-wild canine competition, and the Police Dog & Protection Demonstrations, crime fighting dogs in action showing how they serve and protect our community. The Free Flight Bird Show, where magnificent birds spread their wings and take flight, will perform throughout the weekend.
Kids can get in on the action by designing and creating a 10-gallon aquarium in the Kids Aquarium Contest. There will also be pony rides, face paintings, and The Great American Petting Zoo for the whole family to enjoy.

Pet Adoptions will be handled on site for those looking for that “purrfect” animal addition to the family. There will be hundreds of animals hoping to find their forever home from local community partner organizations at the Pet Expo.

General Admission, $13.00; seniors 60 and over, $11.00. Children 6-12, $8.00. 5 yrs and under, free. Active and retired military free with ID. Show hours: Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm.
OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa 92626. Facility charges $7.00 parking. Kindly leave all pets at home.

Dog at OC PET Expo

For more information and to purchase tickets online visit . The America’s Family Pet Expo is created, produced and managed by World Pet Association, Inc., a 65-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting responsible pet care.

We have teamed up for a Giveaway! We have a Family 4 Pack of tickets for one winner! To enter, leave a comment below telling us why you would love to go! Deadline to enter is April 18th, 2016 at noon PST. One winner will be randomly selected via

Self Disclosure: This is a featured event. I have or will be receiving free admission to feature this event. No other compensation was received.

Burke Williams Unveils A New Custom Body Polish Experience a Signature Full Body Exfoliating Treatment Like No Other


Burke Williams Day Spa is pleased to introduce the ultimate Custom Body Polish. This new signature 80-minute body treatment will be available at all Burke Williams day spa locations beginning April 1, 2016.


The Custom Body Polish treatment defines pampering. This exfoliating and moisturizing experience begins with a customized sugar scrub to deeply exfoliate the skin and encourage dead skin cell turn over from head to toe. Sugar contains natural glycolic acid, which when warmed, melts moisture across the skin’s surface. The sugar and essential oils are applied and polished over the skin with a unique body buffer. The buffer stimulates oxygenation and revitalization, which is enhanced by wrapping the body in a warm thermal blanket. The treatment is completed with a soothing H2V Express Facial designed to heal and rejuvenate the skin.


This exfoliating body treatment thoroughly and effectively removes dead surface skin cells leaving the skin glowing, invigorated and polished. Experience this new treatment for $169 ($190 in San Francisco) beginning April 1.


To book an appointment and learn more about Burke Williams Day Spa locations, services and products please visit

Credit: Burke Williams Day Spa.