The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

About a year ago, I stumbled upon an Instagram account featuring a full grown pig that was dressed up in an outfit.  Then I discovered the story behind Esther and the fabulous life that she lives!  This is a children’s story about the TRUE adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig!

Esther’s dads Steve and Derek had adopted a mini pig, although they had no idea that she would turn out to be a full size of the sort.  Despite her size, her new family saw just how wonderful she truly was and she has changed their lives for the better.

The story tells about Esther from when she was first brought home, to her present life.  Following her though her many growing spurts with many different sizes of beds, to actually getting her own bedroom!  One day, Esther disappears…but found in a neighbors backyard eating some goodies!

Esther and her family outgrew their small apartment as she also has some dog and cat siblings.  So the whole family moves to a farm where everyone has more space to have adventures.  This farm has since become the Happily Esther After animal sanctuary, home to rescued animals of all kinds!

I read this book to my story time kids at the library where I volunteer.  They all loved the story, especially the real photos that were added at the end.  All of them kept saying….”SHE’S REAL? SHE LIVES IN A HOUSE?” it was lots of fun!

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What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is quite the unusual story.  Although I like the story line, I did feel like in some places, the story rambled on leading me to lose interest but then a few more pages and I was back into the story!

Maisie Cothay has never been allowed to touch anything, humans included.  She was born with the power to kill or resurrect almost anything with just the slightest touch.  In trying to keep her safe, her family sequesters her in the family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest.

Her father, an anthropologist sees her more as an experiment that a daughter.  He also strictly warns that she is never to go venturing into the woods behind their home.  Locals have told stories of people disappearing within and then coming back out with bizarre stories.  What Maisie’s father doesn’t tell her is that for hundreds of years, her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, although none of them ever returned – for Maisie is descended from a long line of cursed women…..

Then one day Maisie disappears and returns several days later as if nothing has happened.  While gone, her father goes into the woods in search of his daughter.  Maisie must venture beyond the walls of all she has ever known and into the forbidden woods as she slowly uncovers the truth.

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I’m finally getting to this trilogy on my to-be-read list!  I cannot wait to read the next book!

Welcome to Area X……cut off from the rest of the continent for a very long time since the event.  Mother nature has reclaimed the land and is turning it into something beyond the reaches of our minds and the world we are familiar with.  The first expedition returned to say that the land was amazing, almost untouched and fairy tale like.  Then, all the members of the second expedition commit suicide and the third, all dead in a hail of gunfire as they all turned on each other.  So the pattern goes as the eleventh expedition return as shadows or even shells of their former selves and within months, all die from an aggressive cancer.

This is the story of the twelfth expedition.  A group made up of four women an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, and the narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

The group arrived with only the information that was drilled into their minds before they arrived.  Within a few short days, things start to take a drastic turn…they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

What is the true nature of their mission, what have they not been told by the people who sent them to Area X……..there are too many secrets and nothing makes any sense to them.

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now this was a whirl wind of a ride!  For fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, you will want to dive into this book as soon as you can get your hands on it.  The story is twisted, thrilling and you won’t know what hit you in it’s completely unexpected ending.

Kay Donovan is the main character, who attends

 

an all girls academy called Bates.  Unlike all the other girls at the school, she is solely relying on her athletic ability and good grades to keep her at Bates where everyone else’s families are wealthy.  She’s the star soccer player who has gorgeous friends and are all high up on the popularity totem pole.

Everything seems picturesque until Kay and her friends discover the body of a girl in the lake next to Bates Academy. Then….Kay’s life she’s built begins to topple into chaos when the dead girl sends her an e-mail including a password coded link to a scavenger hunt website that implicated suspect after suspect in the case against who killed the girl they found in the lake.  It gets worse when Kay finds herself in the cross hairs of the murder investigation.

Will Kay let herself be backed into a corner and accused of a crime that she didn’t commit or will she do whatever it takes to keep herself from becoming the next victim to uncover the real murder?  Kay may have skeletons in her closet, but you will have to find out for yourself what secrets she hides as well as play the game along with her to uncover the truth behind everything……

Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler. This is her first novel.

Here’s the People Like Us tumblr: https://jessicalanefinalproject.tumblr.com/

 

 

Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book was my ‘Book a Blind Date’ at our local library and how excited I was to read it being an animal, especially dog, lover!  “Beautiful Joe” is a juvenile fiction story although I think that everyone, EVERYONE needs to get a copy of this and read this amazing story.

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Beautiful Joe was a real dog and this story is based on true events of his life, from being rescued from the hands of a very cruel man who actually removes his ears and tail in a fit of anger.  With all the brutality, comes a new life that Beautiful Joe only dreamed of when the Morris family comes to his aid and carefully nurses him back to health, giving him the name Beautiful Joe.

The story is told through Beautiful Joe’s eyes, who finds that he is in the company of many other animals that the Morris’s have rescued from harm.  The Morris’s believe that every creature has the right to a full and happy life.  Beautiful Joe falls in love with his entire adopted family and becomes the most loyal and trustworthy companion.

Margaret Marshall Saunders –The Storyteller and a Woman ahead of her time…

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This is Saunders most famous novel, which was originally published under a pseudonym Marshall Saunders….her real name is Margaret Marshall Saunders.  In 1892 while she was visiting her brother in Meaford, Ontario, she heard the story of a dog that was rescued by Mr. Walter Moore (the father of her sister-in-law, Louise Moore). This event inspired her to write the story of Beautiful Joe, a canine autobiography of a Meaford area dog, rescued from a brutal owner who had chopped off his ears and tail. She decided to enter the story in a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society. In her book the Moore family became the Morris Family, and she relocated the story to a small town in Maine, USA as per the contest rules. Also, because female authors were not popular at the time, she disguised her sex by not using her first name Margaret, instead using her middle name Marshall. Beautiful Joe written by Marshall Saunders was finally submitted… and won!

The book was first published in 1893 and quickly became the first Canadian book to sell more than a million copies. By 1900, over 800,000 copies had sold in the U.S., 40,000 in Canada and 100,000 in the United Kingdom. And by the 1930’s worldwide sales were over 7 million copies.

Beautiful Joe was chosen as one of the 10 best children’s books in Canada, and for more than a century Margaret Marshall has been one of Canada’s best known writers of children’s stories. In fact, the book has been distributed to children in many cities throughout North America with the hope that children will show the same compassion towards one another as they would towards animals. The book was also the first Canadian novel to be published in the universal language of Esperanto and later translated into 14 languages which include: French, English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese and Chinese. Beautiful Joe’s story has been part of the curriculum at notable Canadian universities such as Toronto, Guelph and Simon Fraser University.

Margaret was indeed a trailblazer who championed the rights of women and animals. She helped co-found the Maritime Branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club with Lucy Maude Montgomery, and continued to speak out on many other social problems as well. As a result in 1911, she received an Honorary M.A. from Arcadia University. All the while preaching kindness to animals, and working tirelessly with the many humane societies she belonged to.

Keeping Beautiful Joe’s Memory Alive…

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In the hometown of Beautiful Joe, there has been formed the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society.  This society preserves and promotes the historical legacies of both ‘Beautiful Joe’ and Margaret Marshall Saunders and celebrates the natural bond between animals and humans.  The society created a park in memory of him as well, which is where Beautiful Joe is laid to rest.

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“Beautiful Joe Park is a peaceful and serene 8.5 acre parcel of Parkland on the banks of the picturesque Big Head River in Meaford, Ontario. The Park is named after me “Beautiful Joe”. I’m the hero in Margaret Marshall Saunders bestselling novel of the same name. I am laid to rest in the Park grounds and you can see my monument.

At the entrance to my Park, you will find a bronze  sculpture of me, Beautiful Joe that was created by local Meaford resident, Gunter Neumann. My Park is also home to a 9/11 Monument honouring a brave dog named Sirius, who was K-9 partner to Officer David Lim. There is a K-9 Monument as well as a Service Dogs Monument. The Park is also home to Paradise Islands, a place where people can have a plaque respectfully placed honoring their beloved companions. We like it when you remember us like that! By retelling my story, my friends at the Society are able to keep my hopeful and rehabilitative message alive.” – Beautiful Joe

To find out more about the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society, click on their logo below:

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READING IS GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH: HERE’S WHY

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The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes through embodied cognition is key to improving theory of mind and also the ability to be compassionate. Although this study does not directly draw these conclusions, it seems like common sense that if we encourage our children to read—as opposed to tuning out through television—theory of mind and the ability to be compassionate to another person’s suffering will improve. {Source}

DE-STRESSING

Taking a break to read can help with your stress levels, according to a University of Sussex study. The researchers increased the subjects’ heart rate and stress levels, and then gave them a variety of relaxing tasks. Guess what? Reading worked best to de-stress them. Personally, I’m not surprised in the lease. Plus, it only took six minutes (six!) for reading as a relaxant to kick in. Which means that if you’re going through something at work or school, you can take a short break – say, ten minutes – and read. Try it!

SLEEP BETTER

According to the Mayo Clinic (as well as my own habits and those of many readers I know), reading before bed can help you sleep better. Avoid e-readers before bed, because screens have an effect on your brain. Keep your paper books for pre-bed reading, and stick to a sleep schedule. Better sleep is essential. “Poor sleep and depression are very closely linked,” according to the Sleep Health Foundation, and “treating one condition will often improve the other.” If you can’t fall asleep, try reading for a while, and see if that helps. Make it part of your routine! Short stories are great for bedtime reading.

SOCIALIZING & EMPATHY

While many of us may have always assumed that reading helped our empathetic abilities, there’s now science to back this up as well. Several studies (one from the University of Buffalo, another from the New School of Social Research, for example) used different metrics and groups, but each showed that reading increases empathy. But for those who also suffer from social anxiety, there’s evidence that empathy and socializing in a healthy way go hand in hand. This incredible article in The New Yorker, for example, which discusses bibliotherapy, posits that books “give us a chance to rehearse for interactions with others in the world, without doing any lasting damage.” Reading is a kind of practice for socialization, which helps us be more comfortable later in real social situations.

AND IN THE LONG-TERM…

Even if you’re not worried about your current mental health, there’s evidence that shows the reading can help prevent various forms of dementia and memory loss and keeps your brain strong over time.

If you needed another reason to feel good about reading, here it is. And if, by any chance, you’ve been looking to read more, maybe these reasons will help you remember to really do it. Take the time to read, for your mental health, for your brain power, for your relationships, but mostly, for yourself. Read on, friends. Read on.

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Judy Garland {READING} The Wizard of Oz

Winterhouse (Winterhouse #1) by Ben Guterson

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a must read for children, full of mystery that will keep them entertained though the whole story!

Elizabeth Somer lives with her aunt and uncle because her parents passed away.  They are by no means a wealthy family and Elizabeth has a feeling that her aunt and uncle really don’t like her.  Until one day out of the blue, her aunt and uncle receive money and instructions to take a vacation by themselves while sending Elizabeth off to a hotel called Winterhouse over Christmas break.  Elizabeth has no idea who sent them the money, which is where her mysterious journey to Winterhouse begins…..

Upon her arrival, Elizabeth is mesmerized at the charms Winterhouse seems to offer, which I won’t delve into because you must read the story to find out all of it’s magical amenities!  She meets a boy her age, whose parents also sent him to Winterhouse for Christmas and they quickly become friends.

Elizabeth loves to read and to her excitement, there is a vast library at Winterhouse several stories tall.  While browsing one day she happens upon a magical book of puzzles that unlocks a mystery involving the Hotel’s owner and his family’s secrets.  Elizabeth quickly realizes that something is happening to her and somehow she is connected Winterhouse, but how?Elizabeth is the only one who can solve the mystery of the strange things that begin to unravel during her stay at Winterhouse……

This story is full of mystery and adventure, a great book for young readers with beautiful writing combined with illustrations that make you feel like you are right next to Elizabeth solving the mystery!

Published January 2nd 2018 by Henry Holt and Co.