Monday, June 27, 2016

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson, published by Revell (Contemporary Christian Fiction)

ISBN13: 9780800723583
Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Francisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant. What's not to love? Sunset dinner cruises, posh wedding receptions--the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown. Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Francisco--especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long-ago sailing camp.

When Leo Parker himself turns out to be the yacht's captain, Tia is floating on air. But will it all come crashing down around her when she discovers his heart belongs to someone else?

My thoughts: This is a light, sweet read. So pull up a chair on the porch or at the beach or wherever you're retreating, and relax. All Summer Long moves gently through the renovation of an old yacht basking in the sun and breezes of San Francisco and the Bay. Nearby are the fabled houseboats of Sausalito and the male lead lives on one he inherited.

Having visited San Francisco several times and enjoyed the many captivating views of the City, the Bay, and the quaintness of Sausalito, I looked forward to a story set in those environs. I was not disappointed. I've seen scenes across the bay at night and in the fog and when the sun glistened on the water. I've felt the wonderful breeze. So when these were described, I felt I was there.

This is a heartwarming story that holds a charm unlike so many modern novels. Uplifting in that the main characters are people of faith and not afraid to voice their desire to pray. I love the scenes where the young folks gather on deck for gatherings around the firepit, singing and playing varied musical instruments.

This is a story that while mainly about young adults is a good read for teens, young adults, and the rest of us who have a few more years on us. A safe, clean read.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy from the publisher, Revell, to facilitate this
review. I was not compensated for the review and opinions are my own, alone.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

National Geographic Kids: 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up & Awesome 8 (50 Top 8 Lists) [Review & Giveaway]

Today we're looking at two National Geographic Kids books for ages 8 and up. Actually, Mom and Dad will gain a lot of knowledge from these two books. In 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up the adults might find themselves learning just as the kids are doing. And in the Awesome 8 book National Geographic gives a lot of lists and each has eight in the list.

And to make the adventure more fun, we're giving one of Chat With Vera readers a copy of each of these books. This will be a great addition to summer fun-learning!

About the book: 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up (ages 9-12)

Jam-packed with tips, tricks and skills that every kids should master before turning 18, this is the ultimate guide to expanding ones horizons and becoming a fun-loving, well-rounded and confident young person. A perfect graduation gift or addition to a camp care package, kids will love the expert advice from Nat Geo Explorers, adventurers and masters of their craft from around the world.

My thoughts: There is such a plethora of information packed in this small book. Information of how-to-do these things is presented in a great graphic manner, bright and colorful, great photographs, and step-by-step instructions. Easily understood and easy to work through, each individual list is really going a fun way to learn. Each list is done by experts in that particular area. But not only are there how-to-do lists, there are also how-to-be list that help behaviorally. There are instructions on developing specific skills as well as lists that are curiosity solvers.

... Balance a checkbook .... Sooth a bee sting .... Tie Three Basic Knots ... Pack a Suitcase ...

Some things are "you really need to know this" types and some are "this is fun to know" types. This will be a great little book to have in the home and used kind of like a "bucket list of things to know how to do."

Awesome 8 (ages 8-12)

About the book: A new series from Nat Geo Kids Books,
Awesome 8 is the ultimate go-to guide for curious kids who want to know the who, what and where of the coolest things on the planet. With 50 top-8 lists, every turn of the page presents a different theme and counts down the greatest of the great top 8 of its kind. Awesome 8 lists include Coolest
Coasters, Haughtiest Hotels, Wicked Water Slides, Perilous Predators, Remarkable Ruins, Weirdest Wonders and Swankiest Subways. Great for reluctant readers, each Awesome 8 list appears in photographs, layered with fun facts and insightful stories.

My thoughts: Sometimes it is just fun to look at and learn about things a bit off-the-wall or just simply cool-to-know things. Sometimes it is fun to just see these awesome things - well, at least to see pictures of them, and be amazed that such is part of our world or such is part of the amazing inventions of people.

Complete with a great Table of Contents and an awesome Index, this will prove to be a grand source for delving into bits of research when the mind wants to take a journey to see some "awesomeness." Each two page spread is replete with 8 awesome things, places, critters, etc. and they are all shown in awesome photographs and enough text to tantalize the mind and senses.

This is a strong, well-bound, soft-cover book that will see lots of use and really help keep the kids and Mom and Pop out of the summer slump. Might even be helpful in making a "bucket list" of some awesome stuff and places to see.

2 books for 1 winner
Begins June 26
Ends July 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary copies to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lucky Litter, The: Wolf Pups Rescued from Wildfire by Jennifer Keats Curtis Illustrated by John Gomes

When a huge wildfire roared along the Funny River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, firefighters rushed to the rescue. Finding not one but five wolf pups in need, they raced into action to save the whole litter. With no wolf parents to help, zookeepers and vets at the Alaska Zoo made sure the babies grew into a healthy, happy pack. Follow this true story as the helpless pups move from the charred refuge to the Alaska Zoo, finally becoming big and strong enough to move into their forever home at the Minnesota Zoo.

My thoughts: A sweet story of a pack of wolf pups who were seemingly abandoned and trapped in a wildfire. Rescued by firefighters, the pups were then taken to a place where they could be adequately cared for by professionals.

While these pups were not returned to the wild once they reached an age where they could presumably care for themselves, they were kept and cared for in a zoo focused on a healthy existence for them.

The book presents how important it is for species such as wolves not be allowed to be removed from the wild existence. They are considered a keystone specices upon which the eco-balance of animal, plant, land, and water exist.

The story is multi-leveled in that the reader can learn about wolves, about the eco system, about rescuing endangered wildlife, and about the proper care of wild animals. It is suitable for kindergarten and older based on the way the material in the book is presented to the child and utilized by the parent, child, or educator.

The back of the book has an abundance of information that will enhance the reader's understanding and comprehension of the subject. As this book is read, interest in further material on the subject by the child should be encouraged. Online has proved a valuable asset in multi-disciplined worksheets to use utilizing this book and others which Arbordale has published.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sugar and Spice Gifts and Treats Spa Items (Etsy shop) for wonderful homemade bath treats [Review & Giveaway-US & CANADA]

I knew that Etsy stores or shops online were primarily owned by people who had small home businesses and who made crafty items to sell. I've seen pictures of some of these items and been quite impressed by the talents that are fueling this cottage industry. I love the entrepreneurial spirit of these Etsy businesses - many of them the dream of moms, sisters, aunts, friends. We should support their efforts - especially when they merit it by producing something as lovely as these products.

At Sugar and Spice Gifts and Treats, products are handmade, natural and chemical free, come in a wide variety of colours & scents, and custom orders are encouraged!
My package of lovely treats came packed in a beautiful keepsake box with lovely roses and writing all over it - portends of loveliness inside. I could hardly wait to lift the lid. When I did, I saw the beauties lovingly individually wrapped in pink tissue. Tucked in were also the lovely silky-gauge bag of soap with the little satin bow ribbon. I can hardly wait to experience all this girlyness!

The owner of Sugar and spice Gifts and Treats is Canada based and has developed a line of lovely bath products and even a few other items such as laundry needs. She also packages her items beautifully. Bath salts, bath fizzies, and such are in canning jars such as you would put your prize home made jams and jellies. The she decorates these with lovely "jewels" and fabric cutouts on the lids. The effect is charming. Bath Bombs are thoroughly wrapped in a plastic container and then placed in a frou-frou bag with netting and tied with a pretty ribbon. Soaps are wrapped and placed in a lovely bag and have added bling or glitz.
Unwrapped! Each beautiful item waiting for my enjoyment. I can hardly wait to try this relaxing lavender bath salts and that lovely pink goat soap (see the lovely butterfly "bling"..... Oh Joy! 

This is the stuff to get your "girly" on and give yourself or someone else some really good "spa-time-treats." Now just what was in my package?

  • Mango Bath Bomb (large) - This is absolutely divine! Subtle fragrance. Silky smooth feeling and wonderful to the skin. So relaxing! [Handmade to order. Ingredients: Citric Acid, Baking Soda, Sweet Almond Oil, Meringue Powder, Powdered Sugar, Epsom Salts, Fragrance, Colour]
  • Orchid Almond Rose Soap Sample - So pretty! This lightly fragrant soap lathers fine & luxurious. Skin is left feeling soft and smooth. [Handmade. Ingredients: Goat Milk Soap, Glycerin Soap, Fragrance, Colour] 
  • Lavender Bath Salts - I thoroughly enjoyed my lovely bath soak using these light salts. The lavender scent is light and pleasant. Relaxing! [Homemade. Ingredients: Mineral Salts, Sea Salts, Fragrance, Colour]
  • Body Scrub -  The fragrance is ever so slight and the oil light. I like that this scrub is much less oily than those I've previously used and the fragrance light. The cute little jar is plastic but looks glass making it safe to use in the bath area. [Homemade. Ingredients: Fragrance, Colour, Coconut Oil, Epsom Salts]
  • Guest Goat Milk Fizzies - I tried the Chocolate Mint Bath Bomb Fizzies. Opening the pretty jar I caught a whiff of this delectable scent - a bit minty and a bit chocolaty. I plopped 2 into my bath and they fizzed and made the water so silky feeling. Very nice! [Handmade. Ingredients: Citric Acid, Baking Soda, Sweet Almond Oil, Fragrance, Colour]
Now a final look at real close up. See the lovely jars. You can reuse these for all kinds of things. Gift something to someone in them. Put cotton balls in them. Store a little bits of treasure!

Sugar & Spice Gifts & Treats has a special offer during the month of June: Free shipping on the Bubble Bars - CLICK HERE

Prize for Giveaway
Begins June 23
Ends July 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products from Sugar & Spice Gifts & Treats to facilitate this review. I was not compensated and opinions are my very own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton (The Path Finders Book 2)

My thoughts: As the second book in The Pathfinder Series opens the story picks up where The Woods Edge closes. During a time of war and unrest, war is waging between The Crown (England) and the Continentals (The Americans). Each side has large contingencies of native Indians from a variety of tribes fighting with them.

But this story is about two families in the midst of all the turmoil of 1776 and 1777. White and Indian. Mixed breeds. And stolen sons. The saga, for it is a lengthy telling of that period's history, shows the hearts - fears and hatreds - of each. It shows how God has impacted Indians and how they pursue the path of walking with their Creator God. Their faith is strong.

 Lori Benton has thoroughly researched this story and this period of history. She brings authenticity. I am impressed with her treatment of the Indians in the story as she doesn't stage them as savages. She tells a bit of their own civilization and their unique human existence.

This is a long book and the scenes and events are written in such detail that you want to take your time in the reading. Character development is thorough and exhaustive. You see their strengths and their weaknesses. You experience their joy and their sorrows. You understand their reticence and their exuberance.

While war and battles are indeed depicted, loyalties are tested all around, and yet the story is not so raw that the reading makes one ill.

Lori Benton is an author whose works I always look forward to reading.

Click here to download Chapter 1

About the book: Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own.

No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love.

Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Blogging for Books on behalf of WaterBrook Press and the author to facilitate this review. I was not compensated. Opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Let's hear from Kell Andrews author of MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE [Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Children's books have found a new niche that renders them an effective educational tool as well as a real piece of entertainment. I've found several along the way and it amazes me how an author can turn education into fun. Kids want to read books like this, but the key is making them interesting, appealing to the visual and mental senses, and capturing their full attention. Here is a bit about Kell Andrews's experience in developing MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE.

Mixing Science Fact and Fiction in Mira Forecasts the Future

I was looking for a fun way to write about the sciences, and I thought of the weather. I love kids nonfiction, but I’m a fiction writer. I brainstormed a way to build a story around it, and that story turned into MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE.

 When I was growing up, my family was obsessed with the weather, and once we got cable, we watched The Weather Channel every night. Until then, the weather had just been a few square inches of the newspaper or a few minutes of the nightly news. We had a thermometer, barometer, windvanes, and rain gauges, but I didn’t forecast the weather myself -- it was more of a spectator sport.

It doesn’t need to be. Children can observe and track the weather with very few tools -- just a thermometer and their own eyes. And with easy availability of weather apps and satellite photos, they have tools at their disposal that Mira never dreamed of.

Turning Weather into a Story

Kell Andrews, author
Mira Forecasts the Future
So how to make weather forecasting work in fiction ? It occurred to me that predicting the weather is a real-life way of predicting the future using science, and I noticed how interested my own children were in the little paper fortune tellers they folded and made.

From there I came up with Mira, an inept fortuneteller turned weather wonder girl whose predictions her whole beach town comes to rely on. New to fiction/nonfiction hybrids, I studied a lot of texts, and one I liked a lot was Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Brian Karas. So I wrote the weather information as backmatter.

Later, when I was working with Sterling Kids, editor Zaneta Jung asked my to incorporate the factual information into the story, and illustrator Lissy Marlin turned into a visual in the middle of the book as Mira researches in the library before she tries her own hand at meteorology.

I hope readers get inspired by Mira’s love of weather -- whether they make their own predictions or get fascinated by another area of science. There’s so much kids can do now to learn about and participate in science -- it’s much easier to forecast the future if you start working towards it now.

 May be purchased at Barnes & Noble

About the book: Telling the future is a gift: you either have it, or you don’t. And Mira, daughter of the famous fortune teller Madame Mirabella, just doesn't. When Madame gazes into the crystal ball, magic swirls. When Mira looks . . . nothing. Then one day Mira gets a pinwheel and a windsock, she finds her own form of “magic” in the science of predicting the weather—and saves the day for everyone! This engaging tale, with a fun touch of science thrown in, helps kids understand that we all have our own special talent.
Begins June 22
ENDS July 13 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: This guest post was provided by Sterling Children's Books an imprint of Sterling Publishing on behalf of the author, Kell Andrews, to promote this book. I was not compensated for posting this review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Snow Dog, Sand Dog by Linda Joy Singleton & illustrated by Jess Golden [Review & Giveaway]

When play is the work of children and imagination the fuel of discovery, the longings of a child's heart become fantastically real to them enabling them to engage in a world of wonder.

In Snow Dog. Sand Dog we have a little girl who so very much desires to have a dog of her own. But alas, dogs cause her to go Achoo!! so a dog to play with is simply not in the picture. That is until little Ally begins to draw pictures of her own dogs.

As the seasons cycle, Ally plays out-of-doors with her friends. In snow, they build snowmen. In snow, Allie builds a snow dog which then proceeds to follow her home and play. But all snow dogs melt when the season changes. So then a new dog is needed.

Delightfully written where the child will enjoy as a read-aloud and stay focused. The story flows beautifully. The illustrations are charming, cute, and playfully romping across the pages. Definitely will capture the child's attention. This is most assuredly a "happy" book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this sweet little book and trekked along through the seasons with Ally and her seasonal dogs - with nary an Achoo!
Begins June 20
Ends July 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Albert Whitman & Company publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.