Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy (Four of Hearts Ranch #3) by Debra Clopton [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.

Having lived through her parents’ endless string of “matrimonial bliss gone wrong,” Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She’s been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she’s inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She’ll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt’s footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan’s hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He’s pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that’s a challenge that Jarrod can’t pass up.

Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy’s stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy’s kiss lasts forever?  For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.2/23

My thoughts: Debra Clopton writes an entertaining contemporary story, and this third in the series was awaited with anticipatory thoughts of fun and relaxed reading. I was not disappointed on that level. I knew with a title such as "Kissed by....." that it might entail more kissing than I like for my reading and reviewing. But I do enjoy Ms. Clopton's stories, so I dove into reading it.

The story is warm and entertaining and the characters realistic, charming, quirky, lovable.  The little town has a bit of everything and a heaping dose of friendliness and caring.

Cassidy has returned to the home of her beloved aunt deceased for several years. Seeking a new life in a new place following her divorce after eight years married to a man who has been grossly unfaithful to her, she desires to establish a Bed and Breakfast and small business on this inherited property she loves. It is close by the ranch of the man who previously broke her heart prior to her marriage.

So Cassidy is dealing with the aftermath of divorce, refurbishing and refitting the property to ready it for her dreamed future, and trying to convince everyone she is not interested in a new relationship with a man. But then there is a whole lot 'o kissing going on.

This is not a story I would particularly want to pass along to a teen. While it is not truly offensive, some things you just need to keep a bit low key.
Begins February 9
ENDS February 25  @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Step by Step (Crisis Team #2) by Candace Calvert [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1-4143-9034-5
Paperback $14.99
About the book: Three years after a tragic accident left her a widow, ER nurse Taylor Cabot is determined to move on, checking off one item after another on her survival list. Her relationship with a handsome plastic surgeon even gives her hope for the last point—“fall in love again.” At least until crisis chaplain Seth Donovan steps back into her life, reawakening unanswered questions about her husband’s death.

While in San Diego to train community volunteers, Seth hopes to learn why Taylor is backing away from the crisis team and from their friendship. But nothing prepares him for the feelings that arise when he sees Taylor again . . . and sees her moving on with another man.
When a community crisis hits home and puts lives at risk, emotions run high and buried truths are unearthed. Will hope make the survival list?

My thoughts: Candace Calvert does not disappoint. Again she has brought compassionate medical care rendered with the expertise about which only a medical professional could write. This time a new dimension is brought to the table of healing - crisis care by chaplains and caring volunteers. Just as there is a need for someone to patch up and mend broken bodies, there is a need for someone to nourish and gently care for the wounded spirit and soul of those broken by tragedy or who have to endure the loss of a loved one through tragedy.

As the characters are introduced and their flawed personalities or their own broken spirits are fleshed out, we step into scene after scene deftly described and detailed by the author. Forgiveness enters into the story. Tragedy. Healing. Revelation of past secrets. Hope for healed and mended futures. And yes, a sweet love story.

This is a good, clean read that is safe to hand over to any teen or grownup. This is Christian fiction and the thread of faith is delicately woven throughout.
Begins February 7
ENDS February 29  @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate a review. These are my own opinions and I was not compensated to review the book.

Giveaway: $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate

I am hosting a $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate giveaway in conjunction with my review of All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Check it out.....

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
(1st) "All Things Bright and Beautiful"
(2nd) $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate
Begins February 2
ENDS February 16 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Visit your local Family Christian store or shop online at FamilyChristian.com for this and other amazing products to encourage and uplift your heart.
Disclosure: A copy of All Things Bright and Beautiful was provided by Worthy-Ideals Publishing to facilitate a review. Giveaway copy of book is provided by Ideals directly to the winner. A $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate is provided by and sent to winner directly by Family Christian. Only 1 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate per month is allowed to be won - discretion of Family Christian.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book by Daria Song

Korean artist Daria Song’s sequel to The Time Garden takes readers on a visual journey into a magical nighttime world seen through the eyes of a fairy.

This second book in the bestselling Time coloring series features the voyage of a fairy who, when the cuckoo clock chimes midnight, enters the human world. To the tiny fairy, everything seems enormous and magical, from the curtains to the chandelier to a mystical rowboat that takes her further into an inky adventure. With her she packs her favorite items, which one can find throughout the book’s pages: an owl-feathered pen, a star-scented spray, a time tape measure…even the key to the time chamber itself!

Filled with the imaginative, intricately detailed illustrations Song’s readers have come to love, The Time Chamber presents a view of our world made new—and ready for coloring.

The Time Chamber features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.
My thoughts: This was my first excursion and experience with an adult coloring book. I found it interesting and certainly intriguing in the story and artistic line. Daria Song has created a sweet little fairy that lives in a clock. She leaves the clock - The Time Chamber - and visits the bedroom of a little girl while she sleeps.

The book provides opportunity to find repeated use of images. The very detailed drawings will provide opportunity for anyone that enjoys coloring with pencils or gel markers a tool with which they can let their imaginations run amok with splashes of color to fill in the black and white pages.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Blogging for Books review program on behalf of the publisher and author/artist to facilitate this review. I was not compensated.

Friday, February 5, 2016

GL-Sail(TM) Fine Art Oil Colored Pencil for Drawing and Sketching and Pencil Wrap (Set of 48 Assorted Colors)

It has been years since I've colored and most of the time it was with my young children using crayons, watercolor paints, or children's inexpensive coloring pencils. The new trend of adult coloring books and quality coloring pencils finally caught my attention and so here we are - Chat With Vera is coloring!

To do that you need a well designed coloring book (this is not your typical coloring book, folks) and a quality set of pencils with which to fill in those teeny, tiny artistic and fantasy style books. I had the opportunity to get a set of GL-Sail Fine Art Oil Colored Pencils to do this. The set of 48 arrived securely with not a point broken.

The range of colors is very nice and you can go from barely there to fairly intense color. Not strikingly intense, though. There is a strong leaning in this selection toward the neutrals and shades of blue - browns, beautiful greys, blues, slates, and a silver and a gold. I fully expected points to snap easily when applying pressure to deepen the color. This has not happened so far. I don't know if these are "artist grade," but I do know they are very nice and much better than the run-of-the-mill coloring pencils.

There is also a case that you can use to protect and carry the pencils around. It is heavy material with little pockets for each and every pencil. It will protect really well. And the design of the material is awesome!
Pencils are all spread out and I've begun to color this fantasy tale.

The case is beautiful, with vibrant colors and a striking design. It can be rolled to a compact size and tied securely with the rope/tie protecting your pencils as you carry them around with you.
Vera's first attempt at using the pencils and
experimenting with pressure and position.
So..... are you ready to begin the journey into adult coloring? There is plethora of styles of books available and these GL-Sail Fine Art Oil Colored Pencils will work very nicely for you.

Product information (from GL-Sail) - See it on Amazon - click here

  • 48 Exclusive Assorted Colors: You can vary the color of the pencil to achieve different effects. The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look, but using gradient color will make a soothing atmosphere of the drawing.
  • Practicability in Use: Ideal for Secret Garden Adult Coloring Books, Artist Sketch Scrapbooking&Sketching! Great pens to sketch, draw, doodle, write and get creative in a fun and skilled way. 
  • Ultra Quality: With stream-lined design of pencil holder and super fine tip ensure smooth and comfortable writing and drawing. The strong tip prevents from breaking, ensuring a longer life for your pencil.
  • Easy and Convenient to Carry-on: The pencil wrap helps keep your color pens always organized. And each pencil can be stored in its own individual insert.
  • Security Assurance: It is a lead-free and non-toxic oil colored pencil, which are made using wood from sustainable forests. Children or adults may use it safely. Perfect gift for painting lovers.

I received my pencils are a nicely discounted price to help facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated to do the review.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Play-Along Bible: Imagining God's Story Through Motion and Play by Bob Hartman, Illustrated By: Susie Poole

ISBN-13: 9781496408648
Ages 3-6 - Tyndale House Pub.
My thoughts: If you've ever sung "Itsy Bitsy Spider" you know that children love it and love the actions of the song. There are some fun Sunday School "Bible" songs that have actions, too. These are always a hit. I know when telling the story of Joshua marching around Jericho and the walls of Jericho falling down, the young children relish the opportunity to "shout" to make the walls fall. That is the concept of The Play-Along Bible. No, it isn't a song or songs. It is a simple way to engage young children as you tell them the stories from God's Word.

Each of the 50 stories has a title, Scripture reference from which the story is taken, and the text told in simple words and phrasing accompanied with instructions for the child (and the parent or caregiver) to do that illustrate that part of the story....
In the very beginning, everything was completely dark. You couldn't see a thing (Place your hands over your eyes. Shut them tight.)
Then God said, "Light!" (Say, "Light!")
And it wasn't dark anymore--it was bright! (Open your eyes.)
God called the light "day" (Shout, "Day!") and the darkness  "night." (Whisper. "Night")
And that was the first day. (Shout, "Hooray!") 
Opportunities to wave hands and arms, wiggle fingers, etc. are given throughout. This is engagement that will capture the attention of the young child and ingrain the basics of each of the stories in their mind. Keep in mind that the story-telling is very basic. The concept is to give the basics and to capture the child's attention. This does it very well.

This hardcover book can be used in Children's Church, Sunday School, preschool, or at home. There are four Bible verses given at the end of the book. Parents can actually read the Biblical text to the child if they so desire because the reference for each story is given. Since the Scripture is not printed in the book, parents will also have the option to select the version that they prefer. My preference would be the King James.

The illustrations are light and whimsical. There is joy depicted and a myriad of objects on the pages for little eyes to seek out and identify. Another great opportunity to engage and teach.

About the book: Looking for a way to integrate the Bible into your child’s playtime?

The Play-Along Bible inspires children’s imaginations while growing their understanding of and love for God’s Word. Through simple hand motions, facial expressions, verbal exclamations, and funny noises, kids can participate and respond to God’s amazing story. Whether it’s acting out the dawn of creation by making a funny fish face or belting out a giant roar while pretending to be a ferocious beast in Daniel’s lions’ den, kids will encounter hundreds of fun ways to actively engage with the Bible. Using this fresh and easy, multisensory approach, you’ll be surprised how well your child will recall and absorb the Scriptures. Adding to the experience are delightful full-color illustrations from British artist Susie Poole.

About the author: Bob Hartman is a pastor, author, and storyteller with a rich history in publishing and whose books have sold more than 1 million copies. Primarily he's written children's books with a strong moral theme or Bible story books. Bob is best known for The Lion Storyteller Bible, which sold more than 200,000 copies, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy, with more than 90,000 copies sold. He is also the author of You Version's Bible App for Kids, which has been downloaded over 5 million times. Bob is married to Sue, and they have two married children and three grandchildren.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale Blog Network to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Step by Step by Candace Calvert has officially released!

It's now available online (in both print and digital) at favorite sites like Amazon, Barnes & NobleChristian Book and others. Don't be shy about asking your local bookstore to order if you don't find it on the shelves.
The giveaway ends on 2/29.
You may enter via 
this link. 

Early reviews are flooding in and I'm delighted and honored by comments such as these:

"Fans of Dee Henderson and Grey's Anatomy will love this wonderfully sweet, healing story about finding one's way back to love after losing everything . . ."--Susan May Warren
" . . . all that was missing was the popcorn . . . would make for a great Sunday night Hallmark movie . . ."
" . . . Calvert writes in such a way that you are not just there with the character, you actually become the character . . ."
" . . . fast paced action . . . like a scene from the TV show 'ER' . . ."

A short blurb from the back cover:

"Three years after a tragic accident left her a widow, ER nurse Taylor Cabot is determined to move on, checking off one item on her Survival List after another. Her relationship with a handsome plastic surgeon even gives her hope for the last point--"fall in love again." At least until crisis chaplain Seth Donovan steps back into her life, reawakening unanswered questions about her husband's death . . ."
If that intrigues you, here's Chapter One.

In celebration of Step by Step's release (and in keeping with a story motif),the good folks at Crazy 4 Fiction and I are offering a chance at a fun giveaway. The grand prize winner will receive a Fitbit Flex activity tracking bracelet and signed copies of both Step by Step and By Your Side (as shown in the photo above) . Five other winners will receive copies of Step by Step.

The giveaway ends on 2/29. You may enter via this link.