Thursday, September 3, 2015

What A Bragger! by Lee Ann Mancini and Dan Sharp

$7.99 Soft Cover
$16.99 Hard Cover
About the book: Melissa Blowfish likes to brag that she can swim the fastest, climb the highest, and has the best of everything. Corey finds her crying in the sand box with her broken shovel, the only toy she had. They all chip in treasure coins for her birthday present. Melissa prays, giving thanks to God for her friends, and learns they are more important than all the toys in the sea.

Lee Ann Mancini and Dan Sharp have created an underwater world that explodes with color, drawing the children into the captivating story.“

My thoughts:   I previously reviewed Lee Ann Mancini's Fast Freddy here on Chat With Vera. Mancini defly uses lovably cute illustrations and a sweet story to teach good behavior and good character traits. In What A Bragger! a blowfish is all puffed up and full of himself and thinks he is better than the best of the other sea critters.

Illustrator, Dan Sharp, has again created a brilliantly colored pallet of fish and other under-the-sea characters to tell author Lee Ann Mancini's story of being kind and not a braggart. His cute cartoonish styled creatures inhabit the pages of What A Bragger! ...

The story gets behind the reason Melissa the Bragger boasted about things and abilities. The reveal comes when Melissa goes home to poverty and squalor. Children can learn the folly of bragging and can also learn compassion for those who have less than themselves. They can be led to conclusions that will aid them in their own real life situations.

This is a cute book that is Christian orientated with praying to Jesus a vital element.

A visit to is definitely in order.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookCrash Blogger Program to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

About the book: American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

My thoughts: Author Laura Frantz writes a compelling historical novel and The Mistress of Tall Acres is especially dear to her as it is set in her home state of Virginia. Her work is well-research and the characters fit the mores and social restrictions of the period. In The Mistress of Tall Acres,  the story has two basic story lines that captured my interest. One is the turmoil, distrust, and hostility between two factions politically during the Revolutionary War – The Colonists and The Patriots. Families are torn asunder as sides have been chosen and the consequences come to bear upon those left remaining after war’s end. The other is the toll taken on families by the long absence of the father (or other military family member) who had to be away for this long, long war that won America’s independence from England.

This story embraces the emotions and near-destitution of deserted (or left behind) family, danger afoot by scoundrels bent on having their own way, and slow to heal hearts made heart-sore by time and events.

But there is a sweet tale of love story as a little girl’s needs bring together the male and female protagonists in the story. The story follows somewhat predictable lines, but was thoroughly enjoyable to read in spite of the predictability. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters – especially young Lily, and traveling in my mind back to post-Revolutionary War Virginia was a real plus.

Author, Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Renuzit #TBT Girls Night - Weekly September Sweepstakes

Every week in the month of September, Renuzit will be hosting a Renuzit #TBT Girl's Night In Sweepstakes with all sorts of amazing prices. Check in with Renuzit's Facebook page every week to enter and for more information.

Renuzit is taking it back this month! Every week Renuzit will be hosting an awesome Sweepstakes.

The following is are the Renuzit #TBT Girls Night In Sweepstakes amazing prizes:

  • September 3-9th: 1 winner will win the ultimate #TBT Girls Night In package, including a FREE Renuzit Lavender and Vanilla cone, spa essentials and 1 year of Netflix!
  • September 9-16th: 1 winner will win the ultimate #TBT Girls Night In package, including a FREE Renuzit Apple & Cinnamon cone, Sephora gift card and 1 year of Amazon Prime!
  • September 17-23rd: 1 winner will win the ultimate #TBT Girls Night In package, including a FREE Renuzit Pumpkin Pie cone, mani-pedi essentials and 1 year of HBO Now!
  • September 24-30th: 1 winner will win the ultimate #TBT Girls Night In package, including a FREE Renuzit Cotton Breeze cone, home essentials and 1 year of Hulu Plus!

Check in with Renuzit's Facebook page every week to enter and for more information.

[Information for this Renuzit promotion was provided to me as a Social Insider. I was not compensated to provided this information.]

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that make Science Fun by Kelly Doudna

ISBN13: 9781938063596
Softcover $14.95
About the book: Wheel and axle, wedge, and screw. Lever and pulley and inclined plane, too! Learning about the six simple machines has never been more fun! Through exciting science projects and activities kids can easily do at home or school, tomorrow’s scientists and engineers will have a blast learning about simple machines and how they make daily life easier. This book is the perfect STEM companion for curious minds at home or in the classroom.

Book includes: biographical spotlights on famous scientists and inventors; introduction to each simple machine, including real-world examples & history; materials & tools list; infographics; step-by-step instructions and photos; safety information; timeline; glossary; and index

My thoughts: I remember when my children were in school they learned about simple machines in school during science lessons. It would have been absolutely fantastic to have had The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines available for them to thoroughly explore the basics of machine concepts.

In this super little book, the six basic machines are introduced in understandable terms and then spotlights are on the history of their discovery and use as well. The six are: lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, and screw. Included are activities using simple, everyday items to make these or use them to create engineering marvels of their very own.
Illustrations include sketches as well as photographs and simple to understand text.

I like that the author brings a bit of history lesson into the mix as well - introducing Archimedes, Galileo, and on to the Wright brothers and Rube Goldberg. I like that there is a separate chapter for each “machine” after the initial introductory chapter. Again, the author has placed a spotlight in each chapter that captures the reader’s attention with history or more detail. Wonderful! Then at the back, finding or identifying machines in everyday things. And then the wonderful concept of true engineering – putting together several “machines” to create one.

And like all good educational books, there is a glossary of words and terms that might need a bit of defining. Then for hunting and finding a bit of special information, there is an index at the back and a table of contents in the front. Truly a book that will prove entertaining (for boys and girls alike), educational (for kids of all ages – yep, Mom & Dad will enjoy discovering with the kids), and enjoyable.

Author/illustrator: Kelly Doudna Kelly Doudna is a graphic designer and writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spends her free time biking, inventing soup recipes, taking photos of food and downtown Minneapolis, and blogging about it all. She thinks of London, England, as her geographical soul mate and would like to live there some day. Writing about herself in the third person makes her feel weird.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Mighty Media Kids to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed herein are my own and given freely without compensation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Prince Who Was Just Himself by Silke Schnee [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: The royal couple is looking forward to their third child. “He looks a little different,” muses the king at Prince Noah’s arrival. “He is not like the others,” agrees the queen. Soon they notice what a very special person he is, even though he can’t do everything his brothers can.

When the youngest prince disarms the cruel knight Scarface, the nation’s most dreaded enemy, with an act of compassion, everyone finally realizes how good it is that each person is unique.

This delightfully illustrated fairy tale for children three years and older instills appreciation for children with Down syndrome and other developmental challenges, making it a valuable aid for teaching tolerance in the home or classroom.

My thoughts: The author is the mother of a Down Syndrome child whose name is Noah. I believe the author's intention is to bring to children a story that will help them to accept those who are different from themselves. 

Told along the lines of a fairy tale, young Prince Noah while still a small child saves the day.

Illustrated in simplistic art form with bold colors, the detail still captures the essence of how Down Syndrome children appear. This is helpful because young children don't always understand why someone looks a bit different from themselves. Also, since the story is about a child that is "different" but who has special qualities, the reader or listening young child can better appreciate others who are in some way different from themselves.

The special quality of Prince Noah was a compassionate and loving nature. This wins the day. This loving nature is a characteristic of Down Syndrome children.
Begins September 1 & ENDS September 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review from Handlebar Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher, Plough Publishing. Opinions are mine alone. No compensation was received for this review. Winner's copy is provided by Plough Publishing and will be shipped directly to the winner.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis

22544234What a delight to read a book set in the town I grew up in, Wilmington, North Carolina. The time was the final days and months of  the Civil War and the last remaining sea port for the Confederacy was about to fall. Fortified by Fort Fisher, the mouth of the Cape Fear River was just a few miles down river from Wilmington.

I learned bits and pieces of Wilmington’s history as I turned the pages of Mary Ellis’s novel, The Last Heiress. Well researched, I roamed familiar streets and recalled houses from that era that are still standing in Wilmington. Scenes took place near my childhood home. Third Street, Orange Street, Ann Street, Castle Street – all familiar and all where the characters of The Last Heiress walked.

A very enjoyable read and a pleasure to roam my hometown albeit was many years prior to my actual arrival on the scene.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Midsummer Night's Dream by James Mayhew [Release date October 2015] Review & Giveaway (US & Canada)

ISBN: 9780764167973Hardcover $14.99
Ages 4-8
About the book: When Ella learns the story of A Midsummer Night's Dream, she's transported into a magical fairyland. Can Ella help Puck win back Queen Titania's love for King Oberon? Includes beautiful illustrations, a brief passage about Shakespeare's comedy, and facts about Felix Mendelssohn's music.

My thoughts: I believe children should be introduced to classical music at an early age. Appreciation for beautiful music will afford them many moments of delight, enchantment, imagination, relaxation, and joy through the years. The younger they are exposed to beautiful music the more their minds, emotions, and bodies will embrace the beauty. Also being introduced gently to the works of Shakespeare nudges them toward the classics in literature.

Little Ella Bella is a wee little ballerina and this time she meets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and learns to let her imagination soar as her feet prance and her body twirls. She learns the story. She delights in the music. She is a lovely little girl embracing beauty with her heart, mind, and body. And she is being allowed to be a child and a lovely little girl.
Ella, Puck, and little fairies fly across the night sky.

The illustrations are beautifully done in whimsical light strokes feathering through the pages in lovely soft pastels giving the whole a dreamy feel to the reader. The story, while introducing the young to a classic, is done beautifully using little Ella Bella who dreams of becoming a famous ballerina. Little Ella truly floats through the story immersed with Puck and the other fairies and elves.
After her dream dance, Ella is alone on the stage
 and her lovely flowers are beside her.

 I suggest that parents (or teachers in a classroom or library setting) read the story, share the pictures, and listen to the music. (Note: Music is not provided with the book, but do provide it for your little ones.) Let your young audience experience A Midsummer Night's Dream for themselves and see little Ella Bella in their mind's eye as she whirls and twirls.

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
#1: Entire 5-book Series Ella Bella Ballerina
#2: 1 Copy  Midsummer Night's Dream
Begins August 29 & ENDS September 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author/illustrator, James Mayhew exquisitely illustrated A Midsummer Night's Dream with keen imagination and colorful art. He is an award-winning author and illustrator of many children's books, including the popular Ella Bella Ballerina series. His special love for opera and ballet is reflected in many of his stories and illustrations. He lives with his wife and son in Letchworth Garden City, England. A brief passage at the back of the book tells the story of William Shakespeare's beloved comedy and includes some interesting facts about Felix Mendelssohn's enthralling music.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Barron's Educational to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review. Winner/s will be notified via the email they have registered with their entry. They will have 48 hrs. to respond. Failure to respond will result in a different winner being randomly chosen. 1st place is to first chosen and 2nd place is to 2nd chosen - both randomly by Rafflecopter.