Thursday, December 8, 2016

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix and published by Thomas Nelson [Review & Author Giveaway]

My thoughts: This is a very well written book though a hard-on-the-heart story to delve into.

The author takes us through the courtship and into the throes of a marriage giving the reader word pictures of the manipulation of the husband over the wife in things secular and spiritual. The husband feels and intensely believes he is called of God to serve in some vastly important way and a perchance meeting with a business acquaintance leads his heart to Nepal.

He begins to maneuver his life and that of his wife and young son in that direction against the desire of his wife and strong discouragement of the church elders. Being discouraged by the elders and seeing no support in that camp, they leave the church and the husband seeks support elsewhere.

They do go to Nepal. The wife and son are left for weeks in this strange land while the husband treks into the world he feels compelled to serve.

This story brings to bear the harshness of life for those serving in foreign fields. Fiction? Yes, but so revealing in its reality. Life is not easy or always benign for this missionary. This is the modern age, but even that does not ease the life of the families serving in countries other then their homeland - especially when it is forced on them by a husband unfeeling for the family needs.

A story such as this should compel husbands, wives, churches, mission boards, etc. to fully vet candidates who seek to minister afar. Not all are called. Not all are to serve afar. It behooves all to be diligent to determine the true call of God on their lives.

About the book: "I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing."

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream--reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family's undoing. At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren's past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It's thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review of my honest opinion. I received no compensation for this review. Learn more & purchase a copy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Books perfect for gift giving from National Geographic Kids Books [Review & 2-Book Giveaway]

Let's face it, kids reach for and react to the longed for and cherished toy more than they do a book. Well, after all, a book is a flat, inanimate object that doesn't make sounds, move, interact, etc. Well, that is unless..... you do of course, consider the imagination that soars with the turn of a page.

Books truly make the best gifts -- a thoughtfully selected book will hold a child's interest long after the new toys have been tossed aside.   National Geographic Kids Books is featuring several new titles that are perfect for gift giving and I have already reviewed several here on Chat With Vera.  These books have big, bold, and beautiful hardcovers; cater to book enthusiasts and reluctant readers alike; and are fun, inspiring AND educational (but don't tell kids that last part!).

Ultimate Oceanpedia: The Most Complete Ocean Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids) by Christina Wilsdon (ages 7-10, $24.99) 

About the book: Perfect for the ocean-obsessed, this book is the most complete ocean reference ever. Ultimate Oceanpedia is overflowing with amazing facts, photos, art and diagrams that take the reader on a journey through the ocean. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, turtles, sharks, fish, crustaceans, sponges -- from the weird to the wonderful -- they are all featured in breathtaking photographs with easy to read captions. Wild weather, underwater exploration and tips and pointers on how to help keep our oceans thriving round out this thick, keepsake volume.

My thoughts: This book is a fabulous treasure trove of information about the World's oceans and how they interact and influence all life on the planet. Most everyone knows the planet is comprised primarily of water, but until you look at the pictures and further investigate the oceans themselves you have no clue as to the immensity of these wonderous  bodies of water.

For starters, I was awed by two pictures of the oceans. One showed the hot spots of the oceans and the article explained how the warmth of the hot spots influenced northern areas as well. The degree of heat indicated in the image was intriguing. The other picture showed the plates and how they extended beyond the land masses and how they once were all connected. Amazing!

 As with other National Geographic publications, the pictures are awe inspiring and cover such a variety of life in and on the oceans. It seems as though the author has thought of so much to help the young reader - A table of contests grouped into interesting categories such as Oceans, Ocean Life, Ocean in Motion, Wild Weathr, Underwater Exploration. And then she has included a superb Glossary and Index.

The "Bet You Didn't Know" sidebars are fun and interesting. Just another gem.

I recommend this book for every school library, public library, and home school library. Not only is it a fun and interesting book to read or peruse, it is a tremendous reference source.

Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success by Crispin Boyer (ages 8-12, $12.99) 

About the book: This fun book of quirky failures and famous flops will keep kids laughing while they learn the importance of messing up in order to get it right.  Science, architecture, technology, entertainment -- there are epic fails and hilarious goof-ups from every important field. Silly side features help to analyze the failures: "Lesson Learned," "It Could be Worse!," "Losing Combinations," and a "Fail Scale" help readers navigate the different kinds and scopes of the mistakes made. Read to learn what went wrong, what went right, and what kids can learn from each failed attempt.

My thoughts: This little soft cover book is fun. It chronicles failures - some not so well know and some epic. It also shows how failure can lead to success. The Table of Contents doesn't give a clue about the individuals (famous) one might wish to seek out, but you can find them in the Index in the back. Example: Thomas Edison and Einstein.

I love this quote: "Only the one who does not question is safe from making a mistake." Albert Einstein

A fun book to tuck away some interesting facts into your head and to while away a few hours.


1 Winner will receive 1 copy of each book in this review.
Begins December 7
ENDS December 15 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book to facilitate a review of my own opinions which are given without compensation. Giveaway copies are provide by the publicist or publisher directly to the winner.

Michèle Phoenix’s ‘Of Stillness and Storm’ Bookworm On-the-Go Prize Pack

A tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry—don't miss Michèle Phoenix's new intimate and bold release, Of Stillness and Storm. It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. When a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again, the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past might be too much. Will it be the family's undoing?

Take Michèle's new book with you on your winter vacation and enter to win her Bookworm On-the-Go Prize Pack (because you can't take a stack of books with you when you travel).


One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 31. The winner will be announced January 3 on Michèle's blog.

Watch for Chat With Vera's review on December 8

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Retro Photo: A Personal Selection of Vintage Cameras and the Photographs They Take by David Ellwand [Review & Giveaway - US/CANADA]

With exquisite original photos and boundless enthusiasm, David Ellwand offers a love song to film photography and the vintage cameras that capture it.

ISBN: 9780763692506
Hardcover $45.00
My thoughts: Growing up, it was quite the norm for me to see a camera in my father's hands and to be the subject of his many creations. Our family had a real treasure trove of photographs taken by Dad.

I even had the experience of helping him and learning from him in our old garage where half of it had been converted into a photo processing lab. Dad had a contact printer and an enlarger. He had rolls (huge rolls) of photographic paper. He had large jugs of the processing liquids, white enamel pans for bathing the pictures in the processing liquid, and a line stung at the end where the wet pictures where hung to dry.

Yes, photography was part of Dad's and my lives.

The opportunity to review Retro Photo: A Personal Selection of Vintage Cameras..... was one I simply couldn't pass up. I truly hoped to see Dad's argoflex in there. And he had one of those large "newman's" cameras that used plates for the images.

Retro Photo.... was a real treat to stroll through visually and mentally picture my Dad's enjoyment of his cameras and the pictures he took. No, I didn't find Dad's Argoflex nor his German  camera pictured in the book. But treasures they are.

About the book: With exquisite original photos and boundless enthusiasm, David Ellwand offers a love song to film photography and the vintage cameras that capture it.

From the pinhole to the Pentax, Retro Photo: An Obsession is a visual journey through the history of photography, highlighting some of the iconic cameras of the analog era. Appealing to those new to film photography as well as the seasoned professional wanting to explore new avenues, this beautiful keepsake volume showcases more than one hundred cameras from the collection of photographer and author David Ellwand, along with photographs he has taken with them. At once an accessible guide to vintage cameras, a highly personal take on photographic history, and a celebration of classic design, here is a book that takes the fear out of old-style photography and puts the fun back in.

And now some pictures of my Dad's cameras that I have saved.

My brother brought this back from Germany in 1958 for Dad.

Additional filter lenses from Argoflex and some
Dad had ground locally.  Also his light meter.

Dad's Argoflex that he used prior to my birth in 1939.
A treasure.
Begins December 5
ENDS December 13 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only. NO P.O. BOXES

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Find it at Candlewick-click here Or here
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate a review of my honest opinions which are freely given. I was not compensated. Giveaway prize copy is provided and sent directly to the winner by Candlewick.

Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! by National Geographic Kids [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1426325427
$24.99 Hardcover

My thoughts: How do you say "Wow" with super exclamations that go pow and wow? Well, that's what Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More deserves.

This is a giant of a book in size (measures 9.5 x 0.9 x 12.2 inches), in pages (304), and in mind-blasting information.

Be prepared to sit for hours, days, months delving into the facts and fun information that is packed inside this real treat of a book for kids ages 8 to 12. Well, older and younger kids and adults will all spend much time sifting through the vast amount of information it contains.
The pictures capture the reader's attention and the occasional side-joke softens the learning a bit. We all know that good teachers are often the ones that bring a bit of levity to the classroom.

I love the index and glossary at the back beause they make investigative reading and learning easier. There are also lists of other materials the reader can source for further study.

This is a superb book for home, school, and public libraries and I can highly recommend it to my readers. Another superb publication from National Geographic Kids.

About the book:  Food chemistry, atom crashing, wave power, food chemistry, and robots! These are just a few of the topics covered in this fantastic new science encyclopedia, which presents a comprehensive overview of physical and life sciences from A to Z. Super smart and kid-friendly, it’s packed with full-color photographs, weird but true facts, amazing statistics, do-it-yourself experiments, plus profiles of scientists and National Geographic's explorers who rock the world of science. Keep up with the changes happening all around us with this stellar science reference book.
Begins December 4
ENDS December 12 @ 12:01 a.m ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given without censure. Giveaway copy is provided by the publicist or publisher directly to the winner.

How Things Work (National Geographic Kids) by T.J. Resler [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN-13: 978-1426325557
Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Grade Level: 2 - 5
About the book: Ever wanted to take apart the microwave to see how it works? Crack open your computer and peek inside? Intrigued by how things work? So are we! That's why we're dissecting all kinds of things from rubber erasers to tractor beams! Read along as National Geographic Kids unplugs, unravels, and reveals how things do what they do. Complete with "Tales from the Lab," true stories, biographies of real scientists and engineers, exciting diagrams and illustrations, accessible explanations, trivia, and fun features, this cool book explains it all!

My thoughts: This is a super book for kids. The sense of humor the author brings makes the reading fun while sharing educationally pertinent information about how specific things work in today's world. Bits of scientific history are thrown in making the journey toward achievement to market an item understandable.

The illustrations just pop out at the reader grabbing attention and pointing to exciting information. There is a plethora of things to explore the inner workings. It should be understood, though, that this is a children's book and the complexities of how things work is not the actual goal. It is general, and understandable to ages 7 to 10, amount of knowledge. It will, however, be good reading for older kids and adults as well.

A great addition to home, school, and public libraries and one not to be missed. We expect no less from a National Geographic Kids publication!
Begins December 4
ENDS December 12 @ 12:01 a.m ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review of my opinions which are freely given, without compensation. The prize copy is sent to the winner by the publicist or publisher.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Snow Queen: A Tale in Seven Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, Illustrated by Sanna Annukka

Hardcover $16.00 
My thoughts:  I was excited at the prospect of this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Snow Queen. It has been years since I've read fairy tales and I had not ever read The Snow Queen. The  unusual illustrations lend a modern look to the old story. And the cloth bound, hard cover book is reminiscent of books from the past.

Though the story is short and should have been a quick read, I found I simply could not get that interested in it. It begins with a sinister mirror that is like a devil. It shatters and the slivers fall to the Earth impaling people with the evil of the mirror causing them to be like it.

This should not have surprised me because fairy tales of long ago have usually had a grimness to them and a bountiful amount of evil. Usually, evil is overcome by the good others do. So one probably should expect a dark side to exist in fairy tales.

The illustrations are Scandinavian and modern with a weirdness that is indicative of the story itself - as well it should be. Would the story be better illustrated with more realistic "people" roaming the cold countryside? That would be interesting to see but Sanna Annukka chose this style and it does suit. The cover is beautiful in the deep aqua-blue with silver accents.

About the book: Gorgeously packaged with intricate illustrations from Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka, this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved fairy tale, The Snow Queen, is the perfect holiday gift for adults and children alike.

Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children's book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Blogging for Books reviewer's program to facilitate a review of my honest opinions which are freely given.