Dad of Divas' Reviews: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review - Upside-Down Magic

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About the Book
From New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins comes a new, offbeat series about a group of misfits who set out to prove that life on the other side of ordinary has its charms.

It’s never easy when your magic goes wonky.

For Nory, this means that instead of being able to turn into a dragon or a kitten, she turns into both of them at the same time—a dritten.

For Elliott, the simple act of conjuring fire from his fingertips turns into a fully frozen failure.

For Andres, wonky magic means he’s always floating in the air, bouncing off the walls, or sitting on the ceiling.

For Bax, a bad moment of magic will turn him into a . . . actually, he’d rather not talk about that.

Nory, Elliott, Andres, and Bax are just four of the students in Dunwiddle Magic School’s Upside-Down Magic class. In their classroom, lessons are unconventional, students are unpredictable, and magic has a tendency to turn wonky at the worst possible moments. Because it’s always amazing, the trouble a little wonky magic can cause .


My Take on the Book
What a great book! I read this with my youngest daughter and she loved it from beginning to end. While the book is geared for 8-12 year-old kids, she is 7.5 and she thought that it was "fun" and she loved the cats on the book too. The story was creative and the characters were memorable. The writers create a great team and the story just works. My daughter loved that Nory kept changing herself into a kitten. I think she wanted to see her change herself into a monkey, but that's just her, as she is obsessed with Monkeys. Nory by far was definitely her favorite character, and this character was one that I know that she, and all readers, will want to see again in sequels to come.  This was a wonderful book with a great message. It is a quick read and one that you and your kids will love sharing together!



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Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review - Descendants: Mal's Spell Book

Descendants: Mal's Spell Book
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About the Book
For fans of Descendants, this spell book, which formerly belonged to Maleficent before she passed it on to Mal, is full of comments, notes, and inside jokes between Mal and the other villains' kids. Laugh and cry along with Mal, Evie, Jay and Carlos as they find their way in the world of Auradon Prep.



My Take on the Book
Get ready for some magic wit Mal and see some of the potions and spells that Mal will use from her famous mother to change the world. You can easily see the pain and the fun that Mal has with her friends. You also get a better sense for her mother Maleficient too. This book really lets see the characters from this series in a brand new way.

Mal is the villain Maleficent child. Her close friends are children of villains too. Jay, Evie and Carlos are her closest friends at school. 

Within the spell book, the reader will notice that is has been written in the margins with ideas, thoughts, actions, and experiences by Mal and her friends. There is humor but the reader can also hear the challenges that these young villains encounter. 

The topics in the spell book vary from using cat hair in stews, to removing hexes, using magic mirrors, and even information about the big bad wolf.

It was interesting to see photos of Mal and her friends. The photos were taken from the movie with the name DECENDANTS. 

The book is to enjoy and for the reader to have fun with, but it is not meant, in my opinion for a young child. I see my oldest daughter reading and relating to the feelings , challenges, and friend situations like the young people in the book.



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Book Review - Descendants: Mal's Diary

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About the Book
For anyone who wants to know more about what Mal is really thinking, this diary gives readers a special glimpse inside her world with super-secret journal entries and Mal's doodles and drawings. Plus bonus pages for the reader to write down her own thoughts and feelings!


My Take on the Book
This was a great additional book that really allows you to explore who Mal really is and what she is really thinking and wanting to accomplish. While you might think that Mal would be happy to be released and brought to Auradon, once you read her diary, you get a different picture of her true intentions.

This book is "written" as diary entries by a young girl named Mal. She has magical powers. She is not a princess, nor does she at first want to associate with royalty. In fact her mother , who is similar to a villain, was banished by Beauty and the Beast.

The diary has drawings, text and lots of details about her everyday life. She writes her thoughts on situations and her feelings. she tells the reader her plans too. Mal experiences trouble and tells her diary how she problem solves.

The book was interesting in the fact that Mal appears to want to continue a path similar to her mother at the beginning of the book, but then you see her attitude change. She becomes more positive and kind towards others. Mal has challenges and with her friends' help she is able to defeat the villains.
Mal is trying to figure out where she fits. I think young girls who have the everyday challenges like the "girl" Mal is experiencing with school, friends, family would probably enjoy this book. It is not meant for a young child.

This was a a great book that any fan of this series would love!


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Book Review - Descendants: Junior Novel

Descendants: Junior Novel
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About the Book
Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos are the offspring of some of the most terrible villains of all time. They're offered a chance to leave the Isle of the Lost, where they have been imprisoned all their lives, and go to prep school in the idyllic kingdom of Auradon with all of the "good" kids. There, they must choose whether or not to follow in their parents' evil footsteps. Watch out Auradon--here come the Descendants!



My Take on the Book
My eldest daughter has been looking forward to seeing this new series, and as someone that enjoys watching the Once Upon A Time Series, I too was looking forward to see the series. That being said I was excited to read this to gain a better understanding of the premise behind the series and this book delivers.

This book is the introduction to the group of teenagers called the Descendants. They are the children of story book villains. The four teens are: Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos. They are the children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella DeVille. Within the story the reader also meets the children of story book prince and princes. In this particular story Prince Ben convinces Mal and her friends to attend the school associated with the prince and princesses. You can imagine the conflicts at first, challenges, emotions, and events.

The story is interesting to read. It will keep the reader engaged from chapter to chapter. There is plenty of good dialogue between the characters that is written well. The descriptions of places and events is written well too. There are photographs from the movie included in the book.

So as the reader becomes engaged, he or she will ask if good will overcome evil. What will Mal and her friends do in the book when confronted with good but their parents are evil (villains). By the end you really have a great understanding of the characters, their powers, the plot and more. By the end of this book my daughter and I were definitely ready for more and are even more excited for the movie itself and the ending won't disappoint the reader either.
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

DVD Review - My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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About the DVD

Join the Mane 6 and friends for a quest of epic proportions! My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests is coming to DVD on June 30 in the U.S. and Canada from Shout! Kids in collaboration with Hasbro Studios.

In Equestria, being true to yourself is the key to earning your cutie mark. Join Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash—as well as everyone’s favorite Cutie Mark Crusaders, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom—as they journey to find their own Cutie Marks, take on the spirit of chaos and disharmony and visit a village where… everypony has given up their Cutie Marks?! It’s all here in Cutie Mark Quests!

My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests carries a suggested list price of $14.98 and is now available for pre-order at amazon.com, amazon.ca, andshoutkids.com.


Episodes Include:
  • The Show Stoppers
  • The Return Of Harmony, Part 1
  • The Return Of Harmony, Part 2
  • Cutie Markless, Part 1
  • Cutie Markless, Part 2
Bonus Feature:
  • Sing-Along



Some Clibs from the Series to watch!


My Take on the DVD
My girls love My Little Pony! They have loved this series ever since I introduced them to the toys and series from the 1980's. Once they learned about this, I let the know about the updated series that is running now. That being said, this DVD has five great episodes. My daughters and I really liked The Show Stoppers and the Sing-Along bonus feature the best. This is not to say that the rest were not good, far from it, just our personal preference. The artwork in this was fun and the colors just explode from the screen. Also, the characters were memorable and the writing was strong. A great DVD for the My Little Pony lovers in your own family.

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DVD Review - Mutant Planet: Season 2

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About the DVD
Discover the astonishing diversity of plants and animals that have made their homes in the unique ecosystems of this Earth. Scale the mountains on the West Coast of India to look into the eyes of the giant purple frog, dating back to the age of the dinosaur. Travel to the tropical Island of Borneo to meet the world s rarest ape and the mesmerizing gliders that fly through the 130-million-year-old jungles. And trek through the Namib Desert of Africa to count over a thousand different plant species, along with the foxes, hyenas, and other carnivores that almost completely subsist on termites. In these five episodes from MUTANT PLANET, you ll marvel as these rare ecosystems reveal their odd inhabitants, showcasing their amazing ability to survive against the odds.


My Take on the DVD
This was not only an entertaining season, but an educational one too. You learn so much about the world around us, especially when it comes to some very cool, and unique animals that for more, will never have heard of or seen before. The series is made in such a way that you get lost in the story and the beauty and mystery of the situation (or at least I did). When I watched this with my girls that thought that the animals were very cool and asked if they could see many of them at our local zoo. Unfortunately, I had to tell them no, as our Zoo is pretty limited to what it has and with the uniqueness of these animals, at east we can see them in this series! All-in-all this is a great series and it definitely got my girls hooked, and they are now asking me quite regularly when they can see more!


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DVD Review - Pound Puppies: Pick of the Litter

Pound Puppies: Pick of the Litter
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About the DVD
Lucky, Niblet, Cookie, Squirt and Strudel! Pick your favorite or take them all in another outrageous collection of Pound Puppies! Join the Pound Puppies for five exciting and hilarious episodes as they continue their mission to find the perfect homes for lonely dogs. It’s all here in Pound Puppies: Pick Of The Litter!


My Take on the DVD
This was a fun DVD that had the following great episodes on it:

  • Dog on a Wire
  • Pound Preemies
  • Cuddle Up Buttercup
  • The Pups Who Loved Me
  • I'm Ready For My Close Up
All five of the episodes were a ton of fun and my girls loved watching them. Both said that Cuddle Up Buttercup was their favorite of all of them, but they really could not articulate why this was. That being said I will say that the characters in this series are definitely lovable and ones that will have you coming back for more! 




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Book Review - If You Were Me And Lived In... China

If You Were Me And Lived In... China
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About the Book
Carole P. Roman's award winning series has traveling again and this time it's to East Asia to visit the People's Republic of China. In this book, younger readers can learn about the wide variety of climate when they read about China's vast size. They will begin their journey in China's ancient capital, Beijing, where they will discover the Imperial Palace of the Forbidden City. Different regions of cuisine are discussed, highlighting the variety of styles and spices of food. Currency, sports, exciting tourist attractions, and a lovely description of the New Year Festivities are included in this introduction the beautiful land of China. Embraced by educators, parents, and children, the series gently and respectfully introduces the subjects of cultures and customs around the world.


My Take on the Book
Another great book from this series! What I have come to love most Carole Roman books is her ability to make the foreign commonplace. She also has a distinct passion for sharing the world with her readers which is truly a great passion to share! This book really delves deep into the culture, food, and customs of China. Wile the book is geared toward ages 3 to 8, I found that even for adults the book is informative and fun. The book is a short read, but definitely worth it!



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Book Review - Mean Girl Meltdown

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About the Book
In this companion to The Best Friend Battle, Sylvie Scruggs faces hockey sticks and mean-girl tricks -- and still comes out on top.

Sylvie Scruggs is finally in fourth grade, and that means she's old enough to join her town's junior ice-hockey team. Sylvie is thrilled to discover her years of skating pay off, as she quickly becomes one of the best players on the squad. But someone else is still better: Jamie Redmond, a fifth-grader who notoriously doesn't like fourth-graders. And, it turns out, she really doesn't like Sylvie.

Then someone starts pranking Sylvie at practice, loosening the top of her water bottle and replacing her special lotion with mayonnaise. Sylvie knows it must be Jamie, trying to psych her out and keep her from being selected as team captain. She enlists her friends Miranda, Josh, and Georgie to prove Jamie's guilt once and for all . . . but can they catch the mean girl before Sylvie has a meltdown of her own?





My Take on the Book

This was a book that kept my youngest daughter and I laughing throughout the entire book. The book was well written, clever and has characters that were well developed and a ton of fun too. While this is the first book for this author I know that my daughter and I will be hoping that she will be having more coming out in the near future!


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Compose Yourself Lets You Compose Your Own Music


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About the Game
Start Creating Original Music in Minutes! Invented by world-famous composer and cellist, Philip Sheppard, Compose Yourself combines a set of Music Cards with an exclusive website to allow you to create, play and share your own world-class composition. The 60 transparent Music Cards, each containing a series of notes, are like building blocks for music, and can be arranged to form over a billion musical combinations. Simply select and arrange several of the cards, then register online to hear your melody played by virtuoso percussionist Evelyn Glennie accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. The website will allow you to flip, rotate and swap cards so that you can change your melody until you love what you hear. When you're done, download an mp3, print music and share with your friends and social networks. Compose Yourself stimulates and connects the right and left brain, building new thinking skills and encouraging creativity, self-expression and a passion for music. As Philip Sheppard has said, "We all talk about playing music, but it's even more fun to play with music!"



My Take on the Game
Philip Sheppard has invented a fun filled activity that involves arranging cards of musical notes and then submitting the numbers on the cards to produce music.

There are 60 cards that can be flipped over, so 120 choices.

Using the computer, you place the numbers of your cards you choose on the screen in the order you desire. Then you choose if you want to hear your music played by a marimba, orchestra, or marimba and orchestra.

My girls enjoyed making music. There is no correct or incorrect way to use the cards and their own creativity was the limit. The girls were so proud of their compositions and wanted to hear their music played using all the instruments.

Another feature is the ability to print the music you created . It will then become sheet music.
Philip Sheppard has included tips and instructions which are easy to use.
You and your child will enjoy this musical activity in your home.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

American Girl Partners with Williams-Sonoma!


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About the Partnership

American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT), today announced a partnership with Williams-Sonoma, the premier specialty retailer of cookware and home furnishings in the United States. The new line of premium, American Girl-branded products—including baking sets, utensils, food mixes, and a cookbook—will be available this fall at Williams-Sonoma and American Girl stores, as well as online. Cooking classes will launch the partnership in June at Williams-Sonoma retail locations.

“We know girls love to cook and bake, especially as a shared experience with their moms, dads, or grandparents,” said Jean McKenzie, President of American Girl. “We’re thrilled to encourage girls to explore their culinary side with a leading retailer like Williams-Sonoma. This unique partnership provides fantastic new opportunities for girls and their families to experience American Girl.”

“Williams-Sonoma is proud to be partnering with such an exceptional brand like American Girl. We love the idea of supporting family time through baking and cooking and our brand will deliver high quality products that teach and inspire creativity in the kitchen,” added Janet Hayes, President, Williams-Sonoma.

The exclusive products will feature baking sets that allow girls and their parents to create a variety of baked goods at home together—like cookies, cupcakes, and French madeleines. A series of culinary classes has been planned at Williams-Sonoma stores to kick off the launch of the partnership. Classes, priced at $30 and include an exciting co-branded gift bag, start this month and continue through the end of the year.

Additionally, Williams-Sonoma is proud to announce it has created a limited edition American Girl spatula—which will be carried at both companies’ stores beginning in late June—as part of its No Kid Hungry fundraising campaign. The spatula will be available for $12.95 with 30% of the proceeds benefitting No Kid Hungry: a campaign that is dedicated to ending childhood hunger in the United States.

For more information about the Williams-Sonoma product line and culinary classes, visit www.williams-sonoma.com.



ABOUT AMERICAN GIRL

American Girl is a premium brand for girls and a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT, www.mattel.com). The Mattel family of companies is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of toys and family products. Since its inception in 1986, American Girl has been devoted to celebrating girls ages 3 to 12 through high-quality dolls and accessories, books, clothes, movies, and unforgettable experiences. Best-selling lines include BeForever™, Truly Me™, Girl of the Year™, and Bitty Baby™. Headquartered in Middleton, WI, the company sells products exclusively through its award-winning catalogue, on americangirl.com, and in its experiential retail stores. By inspiring girls to be their best, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators.


ABOUT WILLIAMS-SONOMA

Since its founding by Chuck Williams in 1956, the Williams-Sonoma brand has been bringing people together around food. A member of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM) portfolio of brands, Williams-Sonoma is a leading specialty retailer of high-quality products for the kitchen and home, providing world-class service and an engaging customer experience. Products include cookware, cooks’ tools, cutlery, electrics, bakeware, food, tabletop and bar, outdoor, cookbooks, as well as furniture, lighting and decorative accessories. Each store has a professional demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and tastings conducted by expert culinary staff. Williams-Sonoma Cooking Schools, located in select locations in the U.S., offer hands-on classes led by professional chefs. A comprehensive gift registry program for weddings and other special events is available in stores and online. On williams-sonoma.com and the Williams-Sonoma blog, Taste, customers can find recipes, tips and techniques that help them create delicious meals and wonderful memories.



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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review - Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather!

Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather!
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About the Book
Ancient Sumerian warriors used to think that lightning and thunder were caused by an angry weather god —boy, were they wrong!

Even today once common ideas about how our weather and climate work are changing as new discoveries are being made. Kathleen V. Kudlinski and SebastiĆ  Serra team up to debunk old—and sometimes silly—myths about weather and to celebrate the pioneers that made meteorology the science it is today.

This award-winning series is especially meant for the budding scientist and is perfect for children who are fascinated by the natural world and how it works.



My Take on the Book
Even though this is a children's book about weather and weather myths , as an adult reading this book, I learned new facts. The author relates the history of weather prediction to the reader. Some of the early weather reporting efforts will make you smile, but that is all those people knew. The book does an excellent job describing the way weather is formed for your child. The scientific names and facts are clearly labeled through diagrams/illustrations and excellent text.


Kathleen V. Kudlinski shows our global warming is a culprit for much of our weather changes. She gives evidence to this in her book. She also explains easily how we can slow down the process as humans. I believe she has information we all need to heed. It is not too late to help our children to become more conscious of their role in the Earth's weather.
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Book Review - Dinoblock


Dinoblock

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About the Book
Following in the footsteps of the groundbreaking Alphablock and Countablock, Dinoblock features thick pages cut into the shapes of dinosaurs! Readers will be introduced to more than 20 different kinds of dinos via die-cuts of their unique silhouettes and the illuminating comparisons to familiar things from a young child’s world. I stretch high like the ladder on a fire truck. I am a Brachiosaurus. As children touch the pages, they have a chance to guess the dinosaur and appreciate the uniqueness of its silhouette. A final gatefold delivers a roundup of all the dinos included. This hands-on approach, delivered in colorful pages by hip British design team Peskimo, makes for an immersive, age-appropriate introduction to a favorite topic of childhood.

Dinoblock



My Take on the Book
If you have a young child who loves dinosaurs, then this is the book that will bring delight and learning to your young person. The book is a sturdy board book with colorful pages. The author used familiar animals in today's world to compare dinosaurs of many years ago. The sentence structure is simple, perfect for a young child. The author included not only the dinosaur names but the pronunciation . There is so much to learn in this child friendly nonfiction book.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

DVD Review - Yu-Gi-Oh Gx: Season 2

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About the DVD
It's year two at Duel Academy, and this semester is more intense than ever! Jaden somehow passed his finals, so he s now back with his friends to continue his training at the world s most prestigious dueling school! But it s not all about classes and textbooks. This year is filled with one high-stakes battle after another as Jaden faces all new rivals like Pro League All-Star Aster Phoenix, dino duelist Tyranno Hassleberry and the sinister Sartorius!




This was a great DVD set that I was glad to have gotten! I had been hoping for a while that it would be released. As a fan of this series from the past, I truly enjoyed the first season and in watching this, they did a great job at capturing the series. You get a ton of great episodes on six discs with action, great writing, characters and so much more! Get ready to be entertained thoroughly for hours on end!



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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Winston watches - the perfect watch for travel


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Winston Watches are a great watch that is made for travel! The watch will be on a on a Kickstarter campaign now on Monday July 6th.

  • Sleek design – Winston watches use Swiss movement and have a minimalist, classic face with a unique blue second hand and a super thin 8mm case.
  • Revolutionary watch case – The team at Winston watches have designed a revolutionary leather passport wallet that also doubles as a travel case for Winston watches and watch bands.
  • Perfect for travel – Every Winston watch comes with our revolutionary passport wallet/watch case, a leather watch band, nato strap, strap changing tool, and a Winston pen.


The watch, and everything that comes with it, will retail for $199 (AUD). We're doing a $50 promotion on Kickstarter though making it $149(AUD) for Kickstarter.



Website: winstontime.com
Instagram: @winstonwatches


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Friday, June 12, 2015

LunoWear line continues multi-generational watchmaking legacy on Indiegogo



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About the Watch
LunoWear, a company founded by lifelong friends Boman Farrer and Ryan Krantz, launched an Indiegogo campaign for their first line of affordable and all-natural watches. The watches also honor a legacy spanning four generations in the watchmaking industry.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve loved watching my grandfather work on watches,” said Boman Farrer, co-founder of LunoWear. “It was more than just a curiosity, it was a fascination. I developed a passion for watches and watchmaking from my family’s legacy in the industry, and it was that passion that inspired and motivated me to embark on this project.”

Lightweight and durable, a LunoWear watch is designed to compliment and enhance an active lifestyle. The line was inspired by the founders’ love and appreciation of the great outdoors, and both Farrer and Krantz wanted a watch that customers could easily integrate into their daily lives.

“Each component was picked individually to flow in perfect harmony with the other components surrounding it,” said Ryan Krantz, co-founder of LunoWear. “We designed these watches with our love for the outdoors in mind. We've taken what you love about the outdoors and turned it into a fashionable, wearable accessory.”

In exchange for pledging to the project, backers can choose from eight different watch styles. The men’s collection offers three unique styles, which will emphasize either an all-natural bamboo or ebony wood case. The women’s collection features the all-natural bamboo case and comes in five different colors: tan, white, red, green, black.

Each LunoWear watch features an all-natural bamboo or ebony wood case with a water resistant finish, a Miyota 2035 Japanese quartz movement, a mineral glass crystal, and a genuine Bovine leather strap. The buckle and crown are made from stainless steel.



Individuals have until June 14 to back LunoWear on Indiegogo, and are still able to claim a variety of rewards, including one Early Bird watch for $50, two watches for $127, three Early Bird watches for $162, and five Early Bird watches for $215. Backers are guaranteed to receive their watches in August.

About LunoWear
LunoWear is an upcoming lifestyle brand, creating lightweight wood watches that are both comfortable and durable. Driven by outdoor enthusiasts, LunoWear aims to inspire people to get out and appreciate what the world has to offer, while also maintaining a unique style.

For additional information: http://www.lunowear.com

Follow LunoWear: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.




My Take on the Watch
I had the opportunity to check out one of these watches and have to say that the watch was amazingly crafted and a beautiful watch in general. The watch, which was light and professional looking definitely turned some heads when I wore it around the office and around town. The watch is definitely one that I could see me wearing on a daily basis to the office. You see, I look to wear a professional looking watch everyday, and having a variety of styles and colors is important to me.  I, for one, am very impressed with this watch and look forward to seeing this available to the mainstream public!



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