A Chance to Support a New Children’s Book Publisher!

Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to share a new YouTube video from my toy & book channel. In this video I had the pleasure to support a new children’s book publisher who I am proud to even have an affiliate link with! “Grandpa and Me” is a fun family tale that teaches the value of hard work and persistence. Watch the video below to find out more!

Here is the affiliate link if you would like to check out the book further yourself or even order a copy: www.http://salutations365.com/affiliate-marandas-toys-and-books-036/.

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Video: New ACEO Art Trading Cards & “Kid Artists” Book Review

Some of my newest art work and a cool book I came across for fellow art nerds:

5 Observations About the Movie “Jurassic World”

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Spoiler alert!

First off, of course I don’t think “Jurassic World” is as good as “Jurassic Park”. Being that “Jurassic Park” is a beloved classic from my childhood with warm memories attached to it, it would be darn near impossible for any sequel to match the emotional impact for me. So, I am not judging “Jurassic World” in direct comparison with the original movie, although I may make some casual observations about the direction some aspects of the film franchise have gone.

1) “Jurassic World” did have some awesome special effects and cool fight scenes. I especially enjoyed the Indominus vs. T-Rex scenes. I did find it a bit abrupt how the Mosasaurus brought the battle to an end, but it was still cool. That was by far the best part of the movie for me, probably followed by the scene where the Indominus is trying to break open that gyrosphere the kids were trapped inside or when the kids come across the ruins from the original Jurassic Park.

2) I didn’t care for Claire, the heroine of this latest film. I read an article online after seeing the movie about how Ellie Sattler from the original movie was a far stronger female character and someone kids could really look up to as a role model, while Claire is kind of wishy-washy and boring. I must say I agree.

3) I liked Owen’s character, but I didn’t buy the romantic relationship between him and Claire. That whole thing felt forced to me, perhaps because as I stated above, Claire seems like such a two-dimensional character without much depth.

4) As for the kids, I liked the younger kid (Gray) but didn’t care much for his older brother (Zach). Zach just seemed sort of boring and forgettable to me. I did like the one scene that showed a bunch of the tourists (mostly kids and teens if I remember right) playing on their cell phones instead of paying attention to the dinosaurs they came there to see. That pretty much sums up society today.

5) The whole Indominus is part velociraptor twist didn’t really come as the great surprise they seemed to think it would be. Personally, I think it would have been cooler had it been revealed that the Indominus had been spliced with some human genes. At one point I thought that might be the case since the creature started showing signs of logicial or manipulative thinking to confuse and trick its keepers, or when it was revealed that it was killing for sport and not for food.

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Newest Book Release – “Searching for the Truth”

In my latest YouTube vlog, I gave some personal information about what inspired my most recent book release, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds”. I also read aloud a couple of the shorter poems from the book and explained why they meant so much to me. I hope you will check it out!

My blog is growing! 2014 in review

Check out these cool facts about my blog stats! I had about 13,000 views in 2014 from 123 countries! Wow! Thanks to all who read and support this blog of mine! I hope you continue to enjoy it!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why “Mockingjay” (the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy) depressed me

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After seeing the Mockingjay Part 1 movie in theatres, I finally decided to read the entire Hunger Games trilogy. I had read bits of it in the past, enough to know the main plot of each book, but I had never really sat down and read them all cover to cover. Last night I finished the last book in the series. And I must admit that after I turned the final page, I found myself deeply depressed. To me, the last book was very much a downer, even more so than the previous two books.

So, I sat in our library looking at our darkened Christmas tree and wondering why I felt so morose. I finally decided there were several reasons I found the conclusion of the series so disturbing. First, it felt like the last book was filled with the agony of multitudes dying, often for no good reason (as is the reality in war). In the first two books, most of the deaths were related to the tributes participating in the Hunger Games or were the slow, gradual kind of deaths caused by the perils of poverty. In Mockingjay, the deaths seemed constant throughout, not just a few people here and a few there. Understandably, the thought of mass death and the destruction of the world all around us causes immense despair, even if only on a subconscious level.

Another issue was the very real idea that no matter how many immoral and violent governments, presidents, dictators and groups we remove from power or destroy, there are always just as many waiting in the wings to dole out their own brand of pain and injustice. Even at the end of the book when things seem a bit more hopeful, we know that the world is not safe and secure. The world is never actually safe and secure, no matter how much we may choose to live in denial. Even among those brave enough to rebel against injustice and evil, you will find cruelty, deception and betrayal. Many of those people don’t even realize that they are no better than the enemy they seek to destroy. Vengeance and victory may give us a brief respite, but eventually the same old problems seem to find their way back.

Lastly, it is incredibly depressing how war leaves those who survive broken. Maybe not always physically (although there is plenty of that), but deep down on the inside, the trauma of warfare leaves many human beings irrevocably damaged. Survivors are left with wounds that cannot help but affect the next generation, sometimes starting unending cycles of mental illness and abuse. Often hatred and bias is passed down much the same way, even if it is done so with millions of seemingly insignificant words and attitudes. If we could truly see the damage done by war throughout all space and time, we would probably be shocked by how far the effects trickle down.

After thinking about all that, I guess it is no wonder I found myself discouraged. Perhaps the worst part of all though is that when it comes to fighting for freedom and justice, we are often damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

The most memorable books I read during November 2014

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During the month of November I read a wide variety of books, including kids picture books, several popular young adult series, poetry and nonfiction. Here is a list (in no particular order) of the ones that really made an impact in one way or another –

1. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. This was the November selection for my Goodreads middle grade book club. I’m glad it was picked because it was truly an engrossing story. I loved the historical tidbits about Philadelphia weaved into the story and I have always enjoyed books about people dealing with major tragedies and illnesses. It is during those times that the true character and strength of human beings is tested. Stories like this make you think about what is important and appreciate what you have.

2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman. I decided to read this young adult book series after seeing the movie based on the first book, If I Stay. I enjoyed the first book and figured the second book would be anticlimactic, but I actually ended up liking the second book more than the first. I found it sad but realistic how the relationships formed in the first book became messed up by the residue of personal tragedy. I like that the series ended satisfactorily, but without being too cheesy.

3. Hold Me Under: Poems to Drown to by Casey Renee Kiser. I discovered this poet through Goodreads and have now read two of her books. Her poetry is dark and at times a little disturbing, but I happen to like my poetry that way. I like that her writing isn’t predictable and boring, yet still remains easy to understand.

4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I decided to read this middle grade book for several reasons. I love novels in verse so I figured this memoir in verse would be a good read too. I also read the book because it just recently won the National Book Award. Unfortunately, some inappropriate things were said at the award ceremony that overshadowed the victory somewhat. I felt that the best way to support my fellow author in this situation was to turn my attention back to her book, so I picked up a copy. Like her previous novels in verse, I found Woodson’s writing in this book quite moving. It is an intimate look at racism, religion, and family issues, as well as an inspiring story about fulfilling dreams.

5. How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland. I have an unusual and probably weird interest in death. This nonfiction book fascinated that morbid aspect of myself. Both medically academic and creepy at turns, this book really lays out the entire process of dying. The chapters are mostly separated by different modes of physical death (heart failure, murder, suicide, cancer, viruses, euthanasia, etc.). I especially found the chapters on murder, suicide and accidents interesting. This book made me surer than ever that no matter how I die, I just hope it is quick and relatively painless.