Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Claude at the Beach" by Alex T. Smith (Review and Giveaway)

  • Hardcover: $12.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-703-8
  • Total Pages: 96
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/8
About the book:  Claude at the Beach is an early reader, illustrated novel.  Grades 2-4. In the third installment of Claude’s hilarious adventures, Claude and Sir Bobblysock pack their bags and go on vacation to the beach. They rescue a man from a shark, win a sandcastle-building competition, and hunt for pirate treasure. Of course, they make it back home just before Mr. and Mrs. Shineyshoes come in from work.

My thoughts:  Claude at the Beach is the third book by author and illustrator Alex T. Smith. Mr. Smith has created a character I foresee as becoming a classic in time. Claude is a cute dog (probably with a somewhat quirky international flavor and character) and his side kick is a striped sock – Sir Bobblysock (think “bobby socks”).

In this, book three, the twosome wait their for their people to depart for the day, which they do right on time. Then Claude declares it is time for a vacation. So they begin to pack.

The story progresses with their arrival at the beach which is the perfect spot for them to vacation and definitely the spot for Claude to use the underwear he has packed since everyone at the beach is in their undies.

As escapade upon escapade unfolds, we are entertained by the delightful text and sophisticated cartoon art style used to illustrate Claude’s activities. Mr. Smith’s illustrations envelope both the story and tongue-in-cheek humor that the adults reading the story will “get.”

There are some enchanting qualities and items in the story. For example, Claude’s beret. He finds many useful items tucked up under his beret with which to save the day or just plain put to use.

This is an early chapter book written for kids age 7-11 who enjoy laughing. But of course, parents are allowed to read it, too, and get their tickle on.

GIVEAWAY:  The good folks at Peachtree Publishing believe in children's books, children reading, sharing, and a good laugh. So they are going to delight one of Chat With Vera's readers (or some special child of yours) the joy of owning your very own copy of Claude at the Beach. Begins April 23 & ENDS May 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Claude at the Beach was provided in exchange for my honest review. This is part of a scheduled blog tour sponsored by Peachtree Publishers to promote the April 2014 launch of the book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings

About the book:  The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life's next victory to Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up by robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected--Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.

Anne's been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She's only in town to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees--leaving Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person Anne knows in town, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.

But being in town means acting and dressing for polite society--and it's not going well for Anne. Meanwhile, Nick's work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with a rough-around-the-edges woman isn't helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others' expectations, can the pair find their way to love?

My thoughts:  Just looking at the cover, one would think (I did, anyway) that this was going to be one of those youthful, girly (maybe even silly), books featuring a young girl who wanted to be a rough and tumble cowgirl (see the boots peeking out from under the frilly dress) but was forced by society and circumstances and who she was to wear that frilly dress. However, the book is not about a story line of that ilk.

The story has surprising intensity and depth. It deals with subjects and consequences of the actions of cruel and hateful individuals on the subsequent lives of their victims. The depth of emotion and burden carried by the characters whose past life is so impacting their current existence is daunting.
The sweet romance that blossoms between Anne and Nicholas is lovely. The end is somewhat predictable in that boy gets girl, good conquers over evil, wrongs are righted. But none-the-less, the outcome is totally enjoyable and a refreshing relief. Readers will fall in love with the sweet little older lady that takes Anne under her wing. Readers will also feel the intensity of care of the characters toward the little boy abandoned by his biological mother. 
A bit of history:  In reading the book, there is an infant, deserted by his mother, and he is being fed a powdered "Nestlé" formula. The book is set in 1881. Not knowing the history of the Nestlé company and the beginning of the production of powdered infant "milk" or formula, I doubted that this part of the story had true historical significance and that it was just written in as though there was actually powdered formula in 1881. It bothered me because even if I'm reading a novel, if it is historical fiction, I want the history to be right. So I "Googled" "History of Nestlé Powdered Infant Formula." Of course, there is a lot about Nestlé and Infant Formula on the web. Finally, I found a bit of information and here is the link:  Click Here. And yes, the author had done her homework. There was powdered infant formula produced by Nestlé in 1881
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Caught in the Middle from the Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Company in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.

CRITICAL CONDITION Kindle HDX Giveaway from Richard Mabry!

Richard Mabry's latest medical suspense, Critical Condition, is receiving high praise. USA TODAY says, "Mabry combines his medical expertise with a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Richard is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Critical Condition by Richard Mabry
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 11th. Winner will be announced May 13th on Richard's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Richard's blog on May 13th to see if you won.

Watch for my review of Critical Condition
coming on March 25th!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen Indeed!

To me, Easter – or preferably – Resurrection Sunday, is the most important day on the Christian’s calendar. This is a day when we as Christians specifically remember the depth of depravity that drove the need for Christ to suffer and die for our sins. Christ was willing to lay down His perfect life so that we could be redeemed.

But the wonder doesn’t cease with the death of the Son of God hanging on a wooden cross. No the wonder is that He Is Risen! Yes! He Is risen as He said!

The tomb was found empty by Mary when she came early on Resurrection Day to anoint His body as was the custom of the Jews. But He was not there.

So Mary ran! She ran not in fear but in astonishment and in joy. She ran to share the good news that Christ is Risen!

So I share it with you today. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quincy and Buck (Quincy) by Camille Matthews with illustrations by Michelle Black (Review and E-Book Giveaway)

Age Range: 5 - 7 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
Series: Quincy the Horse Books
Publisher: Pathfinder Equine Publications
ISBN-13: 978-0981924045

My thoughts:  There is just something special about a book about horses that seems to capture the attention and love of children. Well, others, too, but especially children.  This book about a horse named Quincy is a gently told story of how the horse is afraid of the dessert and what he will face there. So because of his fear, his opportunity to ride the trail – which is in the dessert – is limited. And Quincy does love to get out and ride.

Quincy’s best friend, Beau, another quarter horse whose stall is next to Quincy’s, isn’t afraid and gets to ride the trail. Beau encourages Quincy to face his fears. Quincy gets the opportunity to do just that when his owner and another lady bring Buck to go together on a ride. So instead of choosing Beau to go, Quincy is chosen.   Quincy soon has a different challenge because Buck is a bully. As the story unfolds, Quincy deals with his fears and copes with Buck’s bullying tactics. He also learns that even a bully has fears.

This gentle story is filled with lovely paintings depicting the horses. The horses are particularly well done, in my opinion.

I would say this is a good book for various libraries because it is a good, enjoyable and educational book for young children or for you to gift that special child in your life.
About Quincy and Quincy's "people." Author Camille Matthews was born in Lexington, KY and now lives near Reading, PA. She is a clinical social worker, equestrian, and equine assisted growth and learning specialist. The real Quincy, whose early experiences inspired the stories, is an American quarter horse. Now 24 years old, he is still working with Matthews as part of the equine therapy team. Michelle Black is an artist residing in La Plata, NM.
GIVEAWAY: The author is giving one of Chat With Vera's readers an E-Book copy of Quincy and Buck. Begins April 19 & ENDS May 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. The e-book giveaway copy is provided to the winner by the author.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Purex® Crystals Dryer Sheets Celebration Sweepstakes

To celebrate the release of the New Purex® Crystals Dryer Sheets, the Purex® brand will be hosting a Sweepstakes. One grand prize winner will receive $500 and a year’s supply of Purex® Crystals Dryer Sheets while 50 2nd place winners will receive a coupon for free Purex® Crystals Dryer Sheets!

Simply CLICK HERE to enter!
DISCLOSURE: This information was provided to me by the Purex Insiders group and I am posting it without compensation or requirement. Information is from Purex®.

Ozeri Serafino Double Wall Insulated Beverage and Coffee Glasses

Product information:

  • Set of 4 heat and shatter resistant borosilicate glasses that each hold 12 oz.
  • Stronger and more durable than common glass, each glass features a wraparound contour that provides a natural aesthetic grip
  • Patent-pending double wall design that suspends drinks within an inner wall, creating an engaging optical effect
  • Designed to keep your hands cool with hot drinks and free of condensation with chilled beverages
  • Completely, microwave and freezer safe; Ships in an elegant 4 color printed box with a 1 Year Warranty; Satisfaction Guaranteed
    (This information taken from product as posted on
My thoughts: The vision of amber hot tea visible through crystal clear glass is beautiful. Being able to actually hold and drink from a cup holding that hot tea is another thing entirely. The heat would penetrate the glass making it difficult to hold, unless it had a handle that did not transfer the heat to your hands. Even the mouth of the glass container touching your lips would perhaps been too hot. But it is a beautiful picture, is it not?

With the Ozeri Serafino double Wall Insulated Beverage and Coffee Glasses you can have that beauty and enjoy sipping the hot tea to your heart's content because of the insulated nature of the glasses. Double layered glass provides the insulation.

The same is true of cold beverages. You can use these glasses without fear of condensation on the outside making them messy to hold and even devastating to your furniture by leaving water rims. Here in the hot humid South, condensation when in the open humid air is a very real problem.

As I used the glasses for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that you could "feel" some warmth and some chill through the glasses, but it was a good, comfortable feel. So that is a plus.

These are hand blown glass and as such are not your ordinary factory produced sturdy, high impact glass.  Well, glass being glass tends to break any way you drop it or crack it (puns are definitely intended here, so be patient with me). But hand blown is definitely more fragile.  While I haven't broken a single glass out of the set of 4, 12 oz. glasses or set of 2, 16 oz. glasses, I have to respect the fact that these are fragile.

Now what do I actually think of the glasses? Well, for starters they are definitely pricey coming close to $10 per glass on For some that is not an issue, but for the average household it could be a problem. A cabinet full of these might break the bank (another pun intended). But if you have the money and want the benefits of the glasses, go for it!

The glasses have a nice shape that fits beautifully in the hand making them comfortable to use. Being two-layered with air in between, they tend to be a bit bulky for the ounces they hold, but that again is a matter of preference. 

Do I like them? Sure. But would I purchase a cabinet full for daily use, probably not since it would definitely break the budget (another one of those intended puns).  They are lovely and impressive.
DISCLOSURE: I received these glasses from Ozeri in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are solely my own. Product information is taken from product websites. I received no compensation for this review and was under no obligation to report favorably on the product.