Sunday, October 21, 2018

DVDs for Little Ones...

Each Labor Day my neighborhood holds its annual "Neighborhood Block Party" (the name isn't very original, I know, but "Neighborhood Block Party" is the heading on the flyers we find in our mailboxes 😊). 

This year, the late Summer weather was perfect for a day of food, beverages, a bouncy house for the kids, and a DJ who played awesome Rock-n-Roll.

The family who lives in the house next to mine consists of Mommy, Daddy, a golden retriever who thinks she's a pony, and two youngsters ages eight and six. I enjoyed sitting, talking, and sharing iced tea with these two little ones (while they took a break from the bouncy house) who are more engaging conversationalists than some adults I know. Their topics on this day ranged from the Eagles' chances of a Super Bowl repeat, why the Phillies wouldn't make the playoffs this season, thoughts on their Mommy's new cake recipe, and DVDs watched on "Movie Night" after spending the previous weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.

Often, over the years, these adorable youngsters have yelled my name over the backyard fence to show me their school art work, new wardrobe purchases, or to fill me in on library storytime.  

Listed below are the two DVD recommendations from Josh (age eight), and Andrea (age six). If you have little ones at home, you might want to check out these flicks.

The Secret Life of Pets

What do your pets do when you're not home? When their owners leave for the day, pets from the building gossip with their friends, satisfy their sweet tooths, and throw outrageous parties. But when a pampered terrier and his unruly new "roommate" from the pound get lost in the urban jungle of New York City, they must put aside their differences to survive the epic journey back home. 

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Everyone's Hero

Ten-year-old baseball fanatic Yankee Irving is always the last one picked for sandlot baseball games. But when Babe Ruth's prized bat is stolen during the 1932 World Series, Yankee steps up to the plate to help retrieve it for his beloved idol. He embarks on a wild cross-country journey that teaches him the stuff real heroes are made of, and along the way, Yankee learns the importance of perseverance and the true meaning of friendship.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Have a great week, Everyone!

(photo c/o

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Other "Benjamin" in Philadelphia...

When you hear the name "Benjamin" associated with colonial Philadelphia, the Founding Father who automatically comes to mind is Benjamin Franklin.

But, there was another important "Benjamin" who also resided in Philadelphia. This "Benjamin" is equally significant, responsible for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and played a major role in the country we know today as The United States of America.

This Founding Father is Dr. Benjamin Rush.

Benjamin Rush, was a physician, writer, educator, and humanitarian. Along with being a signer of the the Declaration of Independence, he served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army. He stressed the importance of cleanliness affect on public health, and was one of the first physicians to study mental health. Dr. Rush is known as the "Father of American Psychology."

In the year 2018, we would have referred to Dr. Rush as a "Beta Reader" for Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Dr. Rush was a voice for the anti-slavery movement, an outspoken opponent on capital punishment, and advocated for women's education.

Philadelphia author Stephen Fried has recently penned an incredible book on Dr. Rush, title Rush. If you're a passionate patron of books on American History, you'll definitely want to add Rush to your "To Be Read" list. I'm proud to say that Dr. Rush continues to reside in Philadelphia. He's buried in Historic Christ Church Burial Grounds in Philly's Old City.


The monumental life of Benjamin Rush, medical pioneer and one of our most provocative and unsung Founding Fathers

In the summer of 1776, fifty-six men put their quills to a dangerous document they called the Declaration of Independence. Among them was a thirty-year-old doctor named Benjamin Rush. One of the youngest signatories, he was also, among stiff competition, one of the most visionary. 

From improbable beginnings as the son of a Philadelphia blacksmith, Rush grew into an internationally renowned writer, reformer, and medical pioneer who touched virtually every page in the story of the nation’s founding. He was Franklin’s protégé, the editor of Common Sense, and Washington’s surgeon general. He was a fierce progressive agitator—a vocal opponent of slavery and prejudice by race, religion or gender, a champion of public education—even as his convictions threatened his name and career, time and again. He was a confidante, and often the physician, of America’s first leaders; he brokered the twilight peace between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. As a doctor, he became “the American Hippocrates,” whose brilliant, humane insights and institutional reforms revolutionized the understanding and treatment of mental illness in ways that still reverberate. 

Like the greatest Revolutionary minds, Dr. Benjamin Rush recognized that 1776 was only the beginning of the American experiment. Rush brings new drama to his singular life and towering legacy, finally installing him in the pantheon of our wisest and boldest Founding Fathers.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:


Have a great week, Everyone!

(photo of Philadelphia's Carpenter's Hall c/o;
 photo of Dr. Benjamin Rush c/o

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Great American Read...Are You Watching?

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is an eight-part PBS series that probes the influence of novels on readers. The series explores 100 best-loved novels, what prompted writers to create these renown pieces of fiction, and the power of these stories on the people who read them.

Hosted by Meredith Vieira, each episode features engaging and enlightening tidbits on each novel with thoughts and tributes from notable personalities and book lovers.

Some of the books making the list, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott will astonish no one...but other books like Mario Puzio's The Godfather came as a surprise (a delightful one, too).

Listed below is an episode schedule. If you missed a segment, you can catch up by visiting the website link. See if your favorite novel made the list of 100.

"Launch Special" (Premiered May 22, 2018)
"Fall Kick-off" (Premiered September 11, 2018)
"Who Am I?" (Premiered September 18, 2018)
"Heroes" (Premiered Tuesday, September 25, 2018 8/7c)
"Villains and Monsters" (Premiered Tuesday, October 2, 2018)
“What We Do For Love” (Premieres Tuesday, October 9, 2018)
“Other Worlds” (Premieres Tuesday, October 16, 2018)
"Grand Finale" (Premieres Tuesday, October 23, 2018)

Check your local listings for times and channels.

(photo c/o

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Anastasia's Back in Town!

This week we celebrate the release of Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh novel in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Although author Lois Winston is credited with creating and writing the series, in my mind, Lois simply types while Anastasia dictates over her shoulder.  

Anastasia is the perfect character for a series. She’s endearing, entertaining, quick-witted, and always manages to find challenges to solve. Sit back and take a peek at Anastasia’s latest dilemma.


Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.

At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.

Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?


When life hands you lemons, you have two choices—either accept the sour turn of events or add sugar. Lucille was my lemon; Zachary Barnes was my sugar.

Zack walked into my life nearly a year ago when he rented the apartment over my garage. At the time I had no idea how instrumental he’d become in preserving my sanity and helping me survive the tsunami that had hit me head-on when Karl Marx Pollack, my duplicitous husband, dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. In the blink of an eye my kids and I went from firmly entrenched in the middle class to one step away from residing in a cardboard box. To make matters so much worse, I was also now saddled with Karl’s mother, a woman who has never uttered a kind word to me, as a permanent houseguest.

My name is Anastasia Pollack, and I’ve had more than my fill of sour lemons—not to mention murders and near-death experiences—lately. I often ask the universe why it’s picking on me. So far, the universe has kept mum.

Although I must admit, the chaos has certainly moved the needle of my life from humdrum to way over-the-top. Personally, I’d settle for moderately interesting, especially if it meant fewer encounters with deadly weapons.

Buy Links:




Barnes & Noble:

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.


Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog:

Have a great week, Everyone!

(photo c/o

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Autumn in Philly!

Autumn is my favorite time of the year! Not only is the weather great for outdoor festivities, but I consider the season an opportunity to enjoy many events before Winter and snow creep into our lives.

Listed below are several exciting Autumn Happenings that we look forward to in Philly.

2018 Chestnut Hill Fall for the Art Festival 

Sunday, September 30th; Germantown Avenue; a day to enjoy Arts, Music, Food, and Boutique Shopping; 

Fall Family Weekend

Saturday, October 6th; Morris Arboretum; build your own scarecrow with the highlight of the festival being "a scarecrow walk; 

Old City Fest

Sunday, October 7th; Arch Street; a celebration of Art, Design, Fashion, Food, Creativity, and Culture on our nation's most historic square mile; FMI,

Philadelphia Film Festival

October 18th - 28th; various locations; Films, VIP Receptions, and much more; FMI,

Applefest at Fox Chase Farm

Saturday, October 20th; Pine Road; a fun day of hayrides, apple picking, season games, pumpkin painting, and music; 

Fall Pumpkin Fest

Saturday, October 27th; Headhouse Square; sweet treats for children and adults; shopping face painting, hay rides and more; 

As always, if you're planning a visit to Philadelphia, check out the "Visit Philadelphia" website for an update on city events and activities,

Have a great week, Everyone!

(photo c/o

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Dog is a Veteran's Best Friend...

There's no denying the extraordinary bond between our military veterans and dogs. Dogs are loyal, dependable, and devoted to their human companions.  

For our military men and women dealing with challenges, both physical and emotional, dogs love unconditionally and help our veterans feel safe.

I'd like to share with you two awesome books I recently read chronically some very special dogs who have given our veterans the love, support, comfort, and compassion so desperately needed in their times of despair.

Lone Survivor meets Marley & Me in this “inspiring and very moving” (Bear Grylls, host of the hit TV show Man vs. Wild) memoir of an extraordinary service dog whose enduring love brought a wounded soldier back to life.

A decade ago, special forces warrior Jason Morgan parachuted into the Central American jungle on an antinarcotics raid. He’d served with the famous Night Stalkers on countless such missions. This one was different. Months later, he regained consciousness in a U.S. military hospital with no memory of how he’d gotten there. The first words he heard were from his surgeon telling him he would never walk again. The determined soldier responded, “Sir, yes, I will.”

After multiple surgeries, unbearable chronic pain, and numerous setbacks, Morgan was finally making progress when his wife left him and their three young sons. He was a single father confined to a wheelchair and tortured by his pain. At this very dark, very low point, Morgan found light: Napal, the black Labrador who would change his life forever.

A Dog Called Hope is the incredible story of a service dog who brought a devastated warrior back from the brink and taught him how to be a true father. It is the story of Napal, who built bridges between his wheelchair-bound battle buddy and the rest of able-bodied humankind. It is the story of Jason, who found life’s true meaning with the help of his faithful companion. Humorous, intensely moving, and uplifting, Jason and Napal’s heartwarming tale will brighten any day and lift every heart.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:


In 2010, Sergeant Craig Grossi was doing intelligence work for Marine RECON—the most elite fighters in the Corps—in a remote part of Afghanistan. While on patrol, he spotted a young dog "with a big goofy head and little legs" who didn’t seem vicious or run in a pack like most strays they’d encountered. After eating a piece of beef jerky Craig offered—against military regulations—the dog began to follow him. "Looks like you made a friend," another Marine yelled. Grossi heard, "Looks like a 'Fred.'" The name stuck, and a beautiful, life-changing friendship was forged.

Fred not only stole Craig’s heart; he won over the RECON fighters, who helped Craig smuggle the dog into heavily fortified Camp Leatherneck in a duffel bag—risking jail and Fred’s life. With the help of a crew of DHL workers, a sympathetic vet, and a military dog handler, Fred eventually made it to Craig’s family in Virginia.

Months later, when Craig returned to the U.S., it was Fred’s turn to save the wounded Marine from Post-Traumatic Stress. Today, Craig and Fred are touching lives nationwide, from a swampy campground in a Louisiana State Park to the streets of Portland, Oregon, and everywhere in between.

A poignant and inspiring tale of hope, resilience, and optimism, with a timeless message at its heart—"it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we respond to it"—Craig & Fred is a shining example of the power of love to transform our hearts and our lives.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:


To Jason, Napal, and Rue, and to Craig, Josh, and Fred, thank you for your service!

Have a great week, Everyone!

(dog photos c/o

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Looking for a Writer's Contest?

I am a huge fan of writing contests! While I've been a finalist in several over the years, what I've looked forward to are the tips found in the judges' comments. My motto is "It's not whether you win or lose, but what the judges have to say!" 😊

Listed below are several contest which might be of interest:

"The Suzannah 2019"

deadline: October 1, 2018; sponsored by NOLA Stars; open to published and unpublished writers; entry should be maximum of 7,200 words (including synopsis); FMI,

"The 2019 Emily Contest"

deadline: October 2, 2018; sponsored by West Houston RWA; unpublished in the category entered; entry should be first 5,600 (no synopsis); FMI,

"33rd annual Hook, Line, and Sinker"

deadline: November 1, 2018; sponsored by Hudson Valley RWA; published and unpublished romance and YA authors; entry should be first three pages of your unpublished manuscript; FMI,

Good luck, and have a great week!

(photo c/o