Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Beneath the Sun" by Melissa Steward and illustrated by Constance Bergum (Review and Giveaway)

ISBN: 978-1-56145-733-5
Hardcover $16.95
About the book:  This lyrical tour of a variety of habitats offers young readers vivid glimpses of animals as they live out the hot season under the blazing sun.

Journey from your neighborhood to a field where an earthworm loops its long body into a ball underground, and to a desert where a jackrabbit loses heat through its oversized ears. Beneath the Sun shows readers how animals survive the hottest time of the year.

My thoughts:  Illustrated with soft water colors and soft, yet definitive lines, Beneath the Sun captures the essence of life underneath the hot summer sun for life on Planet Earth. Whether it is the spittlebug staying safe from enemies and the sizzling rays of the sun underneath it's milky white goo of bubbly froth or animals hiding in the shadows or dens where it is cooler during the heat of the day only to emerge in the cooler night air, survival Beneath the Sun is innate in all creatures.

The heat of the sun encompasses dessert, sea shore, and forest; and survival and coping skills abound amongst the creatures.  Even in the sea, the sea anemones pull in their tentacles and the sea stars hide in the shade of a dense seaweed mat.

Living creatures all - animals, insects, sea life, mankind, cope with the heat of the sun and revel and relax in the cool of the summer's night air.

I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely illustrations created by Constance Bergum. Though softly drawn and not photographic like, they still were pretty true to life. The artwork and text by author Melissa Steward were well coordinated. This is a book designed for the young child ages 4-8 and does a good job for this age group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway GIVEAWAY:  One of Chat With Vera's readers will be randomly chosen using the Rafflecopter entry form to receive a copy of Beneath the Sun provided by Peachtree Publishers. Giveaway ENDS April 8 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT and is open to USA-addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Beneath the Sun by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review. Giveaway copy is also provided directly to the winner by Peachtree Publishers.

A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides #1) by Tracie Peterson (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN: 9780764210587
About the book:  About the book:  Marty Dandridge Olson is a widow looking for a way out of Texas. Widower Jake Wythe has secured a job as a bank manager in Denver, only to discover that the bank board wants him to be a married man. With Texas in his roots, he advertises for a Lone Star bride, and Marty answers the call. They both agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

Marty works to carve out a new life in high-society Denver as Jake works to guide the bank through a collapsing economy. But when money goes missing at the bank and accounting discrepancies point to Jake, he must find a way to prove his innocence. Yet all he wants to do is go back to Texas and own his own ranch. Marty, on the other hand, owns a ranch–one she’s never told her husband about. She hates Texas because it represents the losses in her life. But as the couple grows closer and love begins to bloom, Marty realizes she needs to tell Jake the truth. Can she come to terms with the past and her anger toward God in order to make room for love?

My thoughts:  I have read several of Tracie Peterson’s books through the years and reviewed some here on Chat With Vera. Usually, I totally enjoy her stories, settings, and characters. I felt, though, that A Sensible Arrangement gets the Lone Star Brides series off to a rough start. Perhaps it is that I just didn't care for the story or just simply wasn't in the mood for this particular read at this point in time, but I don’t think that is the case. Things I liked about the story and book:
  • The “mail order bride” or marriage of convenience was not a totally unrealistic happening during that time frame. It is hard for folks in 2014 to conceive of entering into such an arrangement, but it did happen and it was successful for the parties at least in some measure.
  • Marty's feisty spirit during her ride into Denver on the "safe" stage coach when she virtually saved the day.
  • The superior complex of the society dames is pretty much spot-on right. It happened then. It happens now. Marty’s finally standing up to them was strong.
  • Marty’s caring contribution of herself and her efforts to the orphans got close to my heart. My own mother and her younger brother had to be placed in an orphanage at age 9 because her father died and her mother could not care for her. That was in the mid-1920s.
  • The historic depression of the economy being woven through the story, though it seemed the story based the “crash” more on the collapse of silver and the gold not backing sufficiently. Here is a short paragraph from Wikipedia about that:  
              "The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the overbuilding and shaky financing of railroads, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of '93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time."
Now some things I did not care about in the book: 
  • I felt that Marty’s character was a bit contrived. I especially didn’t care for her begging repeatedly for Jake’s forgiveness. 
  • The story dragged in places.
  • The ending was rather abrupt.
I can see subsequent books in the series having the orphans that are transferred to Texas play major roles. I also see Alice making an appearance either as a major player or just continuing her story in another setting. (You'll have to read the book to learn Alice's story.) I can also see a touch of Marty and Jake and their life-after-the-financial-bubble-burst. We’ll see.

Do I recommend the book. Yes.

GIVEAWAY:  Litfuse Publicity Group is providing a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win in a giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Begins April 17 & ENDS May 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open for USA addresses only.
See what other readers are saying about the book. Click here.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of A Sensible Arrangement from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Bethany House a Division of Baker Publishing Group and the author, Tracie Peterson in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Dr. Fischer Mother's Day Dead Sea Minerals Gift Set: Review & Giveaway

Isn't this a lovely package? You know, I was so thrilled when given the opportunity to review these products from Dr. Fischer's! What lady doesn't love a bit of a "spa treatment"? I know I do! Now you don't have to travel to Israel to experience the benefits of Dead Sea minerals to pamper and condition your skin. You can shower, exfoliate, and cream your skin with these products right in the comfort of your own home.

First, what is in this lovely package?  The Dr. Fischer Dead Sea Minerals Gift Set includes four beauty products specially priced at $47.95. (Purchased individually, the retail value is $74.) 

I have been using these lovely items for a week now and I have to say that I am totally enjoying them. The fragrance of all the items is very subtle and refreshing. Slightly fragrant but so pleasant. Let's look at them individually!

Mineral Creamy Shower Mousse: Product Description - Gentle Cleansing & Active Moisture, Soothes & Rejuvenates the Skin. Contains Dead Sea Minerals, Olive Oil, Cotton Oil, Almond Oil, Fig Extract, Vitamin E & A, Omega 3 & 6.

My thoughts: I used a couple of pumps and thoroughly enjoyed the smoothness and delight of it as I washed my skin. It feels so good and refreshing. My skin did not feel like it had had a strong, harsh product cleansing it, but had a lovely clean feel. The fragrance is delightfully light.

Mineral Shower Scrub:   Product Description - Three Actions in One - Cleansing, Peeling & Moisturizing. Contains Dead Sea Minerals, Jasmine Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel and Pro-Vitamin B5

My thoughts:  This amber colored product does a fantastic job of exfoliating my skin. My legs felt wonderfully smooth after using it only once. It is not harsh as some "scrubs" are. It seems to peel the skin at the same time it cleans and moisturizes it leaving it smooth and feeling wonderful.

Mineral Body Butter:  Product Description - Intensive Moisture Complex for Healthy & Younger Looking Skin. Contains: Dead Sea Minerals, Vanilla, Patchouli Fragrance, Cotton Oil, Omega 3 & 6, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Almond Oil, linseed Oil, Vitamin C & E

My thoughts:  I have found that most of the body butters I have used in the past are simply too greasy! They are heavy or sticky or greasy. Also, many have such a strong, long lasting perfumed fragrance that it overwhelms. NOT SO with Dr. Fischer's Mineral Body Butter in this Dead Seas gift set. It is delightful and leaves my arms, legs, shoulders and chest feeling delightfully satiny. Hours later, my skin still feels this smoothness and softness. I am delighted.

Mineral Hand Cream:  Product Description - Dr. Fischer's Genesis' DEAD SEA MINERALS PLUS Moisturizing Hand Cream
Hypoallergenic * Sensitive-Approved * Emollient Enriched
Dead Sea Minerals - Omega 3 & 6 - Silicon
Aloe Vera & Chamomile Extracts - Vitamin E
Intensive moisturizing care with an enriched complex of emollients, herbal extracts and minerals. Regular daily use prevents dryness and keeps the hands extra soft, smooth and healthy looking.
* Intensively hydrating care to keep the hands soft and youthful.
* Caring Aloe Vera and soothing Chamomile natural plant extracts.
* Vitamin E for essential anti-aging protection against free radicals.
* Provides a soothing, protective barrier that cares for dry skin.
* Non-greasy, easily absorbed and leaves the hands pleasantly fragrant.
My thoughts:  There are so very many hand creams on the market and through the years I have used my fair share of them. There are greasy creams or lotions. There are sticky creams and lotions. There are those those that are simply non-effective and a total waste of money. When I started to use the Dr. Fischer Dead Sea Minerals hand cream, I thought, "Well, another smooth it on, not-gonna-do-much cream." Well, after a couple of days I was seeing that my poor tired, worn hands were looking and feeling so much better. Not perfect. But then, these are MY hands we're talking about. Just much better. I am totally enjoying this hand cream that is NOT greasy. NOT sticky. And it IS effective.

Mother's Day Promotion

For this special Mother's Day promotion, 
the Dr. Fischer Dead Sea Minerals Gift Set will be priced at for $47.95
~~ a savings of $26!
Click Here to Order
This offer will end on May 12, 2014.
The Dr. Fischer Gift Sets are packed by women with special needs at Bayit Cham-The Centers for Mental Wellness. When you buy this gift, you are supporting this special population of women.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
GIVEAWAY: One of Chat With Vera's readers has the chance to win their very own Mother's Day Spa Package! Prize is provided by Dr. Fischer. One winner per household, email address or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again. Winners must have a U.S.-based address to receive their prize. Giveaway ENDS MAY 7 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.

About Fischer Pharmaceuticals Ltd.  Fischer Pharmaceuticals, founded in 1965, is a multi-national company specializing in the manufacture of more than 500 skin and health care products that are marketed worldwide. Investment in extensive research and development and quality control rapidly established the Dr. Fischer logo synonymous with quality and innovation.

Fischer Pharmaceuticals offers innovative solutions for head-to-toe healthcare that includes treatment toiletries, advanced anti-aging cosmetics, dietary supplements and medical preparations. All Dr. Fischer products are meticulously tested for safety and efficacy and carry the seals of approval of many prestigious medical organizations worldwide. Millions of consumers know that the Dr. Fischer slogan, “Tried & Tested,” fulfills its promise of quality products for all family members.

Dr. Eli Fischer, President, Fischer Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.  At the age of 78 Dr. Eli Fischer doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. He is a scientist, a successful international industrialist, philanthropist and an international brand.

Dr. Fischer received his Doctorate of Pharmacy degree from the University of California and was a teaching fellow at Harvard. His first innovation was in the field of ophthalmology. He developed a medical preparation for treating glaucoma, which becoming the "drug of choice" for ophthalmologists worldwide. In 1965 he founded Fischer Pharmaceuticals in Israel specializing in the fields of ophthalmology and dermatology.

Dr. Fischer is active in interfaith organizations for peace, provides grants for research students, and donates to numerous charities that support women and children.

DISCLOSURE:  I participated in this event on behalf of Wendy's Bloggers for Fischer Pharmaceuticals Ltd. I received Dr. Fischer products to facilitate my review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller

Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764210020
About the book:  The kind people of Amana have been her guiding light, but her greatest trial is yet to come...   West Amana, Iowa, 1890

After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.

Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans--especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas's future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?

My thoughts: When presented with the opportunity to review A Shining Light I agreed to do so primarily because I have never read a historical novel based on the Amana Colony in the 1890s. Knowing that Judith Miller researches well when she writes, I looked forward to this romp in historical fiction amongst the Amana colonists. Since I knew virtually nothing about the Amana Colony, I did a bit of my own internet research prior to beginning my read. So as the story unfolded, it came to life for me.  (Overview on Wikipedia of Amana Colonies)

Our heroine and her son, Andrea and Lukas, have come upon really hard times after the death at sea of her rough, unloving husband. So she seeks out her father and his farm which just happens to be adjacent to the Amana holdings. Upon arrival she sees the homestead has burned down and learns that her father is dead. Prior to this unhappy occurrence, her father had sold the farm to the Amana Colony with right to dwell there until his death. So Andrea now has absolutely nothing.

Faced with untold sorrow and misfortune, Andrea and Lukas are taken in by the folks in the Colony until they can reach a decision about their direction in life. Andrea is not completely ignorant of the beliefs and customs of the Amana Colony, so she and Lukas seem to adjust and fit right into daily life.

I found that as the story proceeded the beliefs and customs of the Amana folks seem to be  a mixture between Amish and Quaker. While they have families that dwell together as the Amish do, they work in community kitchens and on community farms. The flour mill is owned by the Colony. It seems no one works for pay. They simply live, work, eat, and sleep there and all do their part to make the community work. One has to be voted in by the leadership group similar to becoming Amish. But there are differences.

The story's resolution surprised me but I was not disappointed. It is a sweet story of reliance on God to supply one’s needs and the support that a community of faith can give to a believer in sweet communion with the community.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of A Shining Light from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Canyon of Danger and River of Peril Goldtown Adventures #3 and #4 By Susan K. Marlow (with free study guides to download)

Canyon of Danger (Goldtown Adventures #3) by Susan K. Marlow:

ISBN: 9780825442971
Paperback Kregal Publications
About the book: Jem Coulter's pa, the sheriff of Goldtown, is away on a trip to deliver a prisoner to Sacramento, and he has left Jem in charge of the ranch-along with Aunt Rose, that is.

No sooner is the sheriff gone then trouble starts-a dead calf, a mysterious stranger, and then Pa's horse, Copper, and his prize rifle are stolen. And Pa's deputies seem unconcerned. Jem and his cousin Nathan find Copper's tracks end at a dark canyon up in the hills.

Jem remembers an old Indian legend Strike-it-rich Sam is fond of retelling about people disappearing and no one ever seeing them again. What is the real story of the canyon of danger? Have thieves found the perfect hideout?

Readers ages 8 to 12 will be entertained by the adventurous spirit and historical lure in this fast-moving series that teaches about life in the post-Gold Rush days of 1860s California. Quick-paced plots and unforgettable characters make these books fun for the whole family.

My thoughts:   I found Canyon of Danger a book rife with boy-adventure, learning to mature and trust, and boys being adventurous boys. Jem's adventures involving trying to shoot the wolf that killed one of their cattle and instead shooting a man, of having his horse and Pa's rifle stolen, of trying to find the thieving rascals will keep the reader glued to the pages. The exciting rescue and revelation at the end is predictable but still great.

A terrific read for boys 8-12 or girl's, too. Boys will love it for the all-boy feel it has in the character development and super high level of adventure that is sure to enthrall and entertain.

I recommend this and the others in the series for home, school, and public libraries.

Study (Enrichment) Guide for Canyon of Danger (download a free PDF)


River of Peril (Goldtown Adventures #4) by Susan K. Marlow

ISBN: 9780825442971
Kregel Publications

About the book: Jem Coulter thinks his family is just on a sightseeing trip to the big city of Sacramento. Then armed bandits hold up the stagecoach for the secret stash they're carrying: gold for the Union Army fighting the distant Civil War! Suddenly war isn't nso far away; it's right there on the road to Sacramento, with Jem's father, the sheriff of Goldtown, fighting against the rebel army's Knights of the Golden Circle.

When the family finally reaches the city, they think they're safe at last. Setting out to see the sights, Jem, his sister Ellie, and their cousin Nathan make a new friend. But is Henry the pal they think he is? With a father who is a die-hard Confederate, could Henry be in cahoots with the thieves?

River of Peril gives readers ages 8 to 12 the fast-moving, exciting adventure they've come to expect in this series, as well as a glimpse into the history of post--Gold Rush and Civil War life in 1860s California, with stagecoaches, steamboats, stowaways--and lots of gold!

My thoughts: Well, I found this book an absolutely delightful read. I felt thoroughly engrossed in Jem's adventures involving the stage holdup gang, the rescue of a stranger on the dock, their being in peril on the river (hence the book's title), and the exciting wrapup of the story at the end.

A terrific read for boys 8-12 or girl's, too, if they don't mind it not being "girly." Boys will love it for the all-boy feel it has in the character development and level of adventure.

I recommend this and the others in the series for home, school, and public libraries.

Study (Enrichment) Guide for River of Peril (download a free PDF)
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the books from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tracie Peterson celebrates 100 books with an iPad Mini Giveaway & A SENSIBLE ARRANGEMENT Live Webcast Event!

Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson's 100th book! A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie's new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.
  One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Watch for Chat With Vera's review on April 17th

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Purex® No Sort® for Colors Detergent Review & Giveaway

Purex® has a "new kid on the block" and this one doesn't play by the rules. 

Yep! The rules have changed! The rules for laundry sorting have now taken a back seat to the tried and true sort by separating whites from colors and darks from lights.

How many of you have faced your family's laundry pile tossing white in one pile, slightly colored in another, darks in another, and denims in another? Well, it makes for a long laundry day, doesn't it?

The new Purex® No Sort® for Colors Detergent features a breakthrough Anti-Color-Transfer Technology and will simply make life a bit easier for you because you don't stress over what goes into each pile.

You know who I see as the BIGGEST crowd of customers for this new product? 

I think it is the kids (oops, young folks) in college or just starting out on their own. Why? They simply don't care. They don't have time. They don't have the laundromat money for extra loads of wash.  How many moms have sent Johnny or Susie off to college with new clothes and despaired over those white T-shirts or white undies coming home grey or some off-shade of something?

So now it is Purex® No Sort® for Colors Detergent to the rescue!

O.k. The stuff is packed with anti-transfer-technology, and when I washed a load that included blacks, medium colors, and whites I was well pleased with the result. There was absolutely no greying of the whites. There was also a black knit shirt that was a "first wash" and I was surprised that I detected no color transfer.

Purex® does stress that it can't perform miracles and you should continue to wash strongly colored fabrics or new pieces of clothing, especially jeans, separately at least 5 times before doing a mixed color load with Purex® No Sort® for Colors Detergent.

I also strongly encourage you to STILL separate out those fuzzy pieces (towels and washcloths, fleece) from regular darks or you'll end up with lint and fuzz on your stuff.

Want to win a coupon for a free bottle? Check below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: A free product was provided for me as a Purex® Insider to use to facilitate this review. Coupons (3) were also provided to be used as prizes for the giveaway I am hosting here on Chat With Vera. No compensation was given in exchange for this review and opinions expressed are solely my own.