Sunday, September 24, 2017

WINDOWS by Julia Denos & illustrated by E.B Goodale [Review & Giveaway - USA & CANADA]

ISBN: 9780763690359
My thoughts: At first glance, one would think this is simply a book about seeing into the windows of one's neighborhood as the day ends and the lights inside come on revealing activities at the close of day. However, as you ponder the pictures and text it leads one to contemplate just what is really going on inside the rooms alight and revealing the lives of those around us.

We see that they, just as we, putter about their homes doing the mundane chores and being involved in the act of daily living. Just as you and just as I. So we see the varied homes with varied shaped windows with varied individuals each unique and each somewhat the same as you and I. We are all going about the act of living out the day and are backlite in the windows of our homes.

Is this snooping? Is this an invasion of privacy? Is this none of our personal business and encroaching into the lives of those into whose windows we are peering? That just depends on your outlook. I choose to think that it is that little bit of life our neighbors are willing to share with us. They are allowing us to peer into their windows and see them a little.
What if we allowed our associates, our families, our neighbors to peer into the windows of our souls at least a little just as we are peering into the windows of the houses along the street at close of day when the lights come on and the curtains are not yet pulled shutting us out?

A lovely book provoking thoughtful insight into that which is around us. Illustrations by E.B.Goodale are done in dark shades of blues, browns, and greys indicative of the setting sun and darkening evening. Golden rosy hues light the backdrop of the pages as the sun sets and as the lights flick on in the windows of the homes along the street inviting the reader to peer into the windows and find objects and activities to talk about.

About the book: Walking his dog at dusk, one boy catches glimpses of the lives around him in this lovely ode to autumn evenings, exploring your neighborhood, and coming home.

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbors as families come together and folks settle in for the night. With a setting that feels both specific and universal and a story full of homages to The Snowy Day, Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale have created a singular book — at once about the idea of home and the magic of curiosity, but also about how a sense of safety and belonging is something to which every child is entitled.
Begins Sepember 24
Ends October 15 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received an Advanced Reader Copy (uncorrected proof) from Candlewick to facilitate my review which is freely given.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pattan's Pumpkin - A Traditional Flood Story from Southern India by Chitra Soundar illustrated by Frané Lessac [Review & Giveaway - 4 winners, USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 978-0763692742
Ages 4-8
My thoughts: Summer has ended. A few yellow leaves are fluttering down out of the towering trees here in North Carolina. Sure, we'll have some more really hot days, but basically the weather is about to turn and we're about to get a nip in the air that says Fall is here and Winter is on its way. And as we go to shop for groceries and other sundry items, we can't help but notice the vast amount of hyped-up Fall foliage, real and artificial pumpkins, and even some Merry Christmas items peeking through the silk and plastic signs saying, "Fall has come, spend your money here."

But all things Pumpkin don't necessarily mean pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, and trick or treat. No, in the South of India there is a story they tell. It is that area's version of the Great Flood that is recounted in the Judeo/Christian Bible where Noah built an ark that saved his family and pairs of all the animals on the earth before the rains and flood came that destroyed everything that wasn't in the ark.

In the Irular tribe in Southern India version as told in Pattan's Pumpkin, which is a children's picture book for ages 4 to 8, the story is adapted from the "original" where a great gourd was the "ship."  This is a cute story and farmer Pattan is a caring individual who is trying to save people, animals, and plants from the destruction of the flood.

Cultures around the world have varying versions of a great flood which speaks to a global covering flood as told in The Bible (Judeo/Christian). This children's picture book is a good introduction to the Indian culture and the stories that are passed down through the ages.

About the book: A vibrant variation on the traditional flood myth from the Irular tribe in Southern India.

When Pattan finds a yellow-flower vine wilting in his valley, he replants and cares for it, watching as a pumpkin appears and grows taller than the goats, taller than the elephants, as tall as the very mountains. When a terrible storm rages across the valley, Pattan wonders if perhaps his pumpkin can save the seeds and grains and saplings, the goats and birds and bison, and protect them all as the storm clouds burst and the waters rise. Frané Lessac’s brilliantly hued artwork is a feast for the eyes, while Chitra Soundar’s thoughtful retelling is a fascinating example of the kinds of stories told the world over — and the differences that make each version unique.

Begins September 22
Ends October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA/CANADA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Candlewick Press will provide and ship winner's copies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

National Geographic Kids Ultimate Space Atlas by Carolyn DeCristofano [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781426328022
$12.99 Softcover - 160 pages
My thoughts:  Last week in the news they were reporting on the long-term mission to Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft and it's final images beamed back to Earth as it crashed into Saturn. This was a mind-boggling achievement that began October 1997 and concluded September 2017 - two decades of space exploration. So it is quite timely to have an "Ultimate Space Atlas" from National Geographic Kids so they can learn about this fabulous and enthralling universe in which planet Earth abides.

The focus in the book is understanding the solar system and outer space and with many details explained in understandable terms for the pre-teen and older individual. The section on Saturn is especially interesting and appropriate right now given the achievement of the Cassini spacecraft. There are pages of information and images garnered from the Cassini mission.

But this is not just a book of facts, pictures, and statistics, it includes a terrific glossary and some fun and games pages. The illustrations and actual photographs are simply outstanding.

If there is a kid in your life that shows any interest at all in science, this is a terrific book to get for him or her. It is appropriate for ages 8 to 12 but I actually can see teens and adults enjoying and gathering information from which they springboard to further research and study. A good book to have!

About the book:  Blast into space to explore our solar system and beyond. This out-of-this-world atlas takes readers through maps of the solar system, the Milky Way, and deep space, giving them a close look at and locations of planets, supernovas, and other universes. Sky maps will help kids spot these objects in the night sky and maps of planets and our solar system give the kind of incredible detail that National Geographic is known for. It's the perfect book for space fans and budding astronauts.
Begins September 21
ENDS October 12 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Rule of Law by Randy Singer - Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781496418166
$16.99 - Softcover - 456 pages
Tyndale House Publishing
My thoughts:  In America we are a country of laws and the "rule of law" is paramount to keeping our governing persons operating within the parameters established for their positions. Their decisions must be within the scope of the law in which they are to operate.

Anticipating a book written by an attorney entitled Rule of Law will definitely whet one's appetite for a legal procedural. Randy Singer's books have always been top-notch reads and he ranks amongst the best legal suspense writers of today. As anticipated, Rule of Law is loaded with development of court cases, deposition of witnesses, various courts scenes (including the US Supreme Court), and how attorneys reason through their statements for court.

But Rule of Law is not just about the court room and the attorney's work, it begins with the powerful scenario of a Seal Team mission and it's outcome. The story has a powerful backplot where the extent of the most powerful individual in the World, the U.S. President, and her chief of staff and the head of the CIA to wage war unsanctioned by Congress is exposed. How much freedom to work in the shadows does the CIA have? How far can the U.S. President go in ordering missions that are acts of war without the sanction of the Congress?

This book is long. This book is fascinating. This book is a terrific read. I recommend you find the time to settle in and read this story. It could happen.

About the book: What did the president know? And when did she know it?

For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.

But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?
Begins September 20
ENDS October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"---part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate a review. Giveaway copy is provided by publicist and publisher, Tyndale House and mailed directly to the winner.

Love You Always by Eileen Spinelli [Review & Giveaway]

Hardcover - Ages  4 - 7
ISBN: 978-0824956868
Published: WorthyKids/Ideals
My thoughts:  This gentle and lovely little book exudes joyful living and encourages little ones to know and accept that they are loved. They are loved always and by a host of people. Their mama, their father, their grandparents, and on and on.

The love is there even though they are not always nice and sweet. Love is for always.

I am so encouraged by the joyful illustrations that Gillian Flint has presented using black pen lines with soft hues of gentle watercolors. The joy is in the action and in the facial expressions of the characters. Pictured are a variety of individual grown ups and children. The children range from blonds to darker skinned curly heads.

Eileen Spinelli uses simple rhymes that roll easily off the tongue with a vocabulary that young listeners will understand. I like the concept of the child being a leaf on the family tree and that family members and those outside the immediate family are included in the range of people who Love You Always. A charming book.

About the book: A love poem to a child from all the people whose love surrounds him or her

A child is a treasured leaf on a family tree, surrounded by love from mom, dad, doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends too. This sweet, reassuring picture book from Eileen Spinelli acknowledges the whole tree -- the many who are invested in a child's life -- with expressions of unconditional love from each. Heartwarming verse and charming artwork will make this book a must-buy for baby showers, birthdays, and other occasions.

(NOTE: Dark shading on images in this review are fault of Vera's Pictures. Sometimes my pictures just don't quite make it right.)
Begins September 20
Ends October 3 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to Continental USA only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author Bio: Eileen Spinelli spent Saturdays at the public library as a child, and it was there that she decided to become a writer. She’s authored more than fifty children’s books, including Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; The Best Story; and Two to Cuddle. Eileen lives in Media, Pennsylvania. When she and her husband, Jerry, who’s also an author, are not writing, they are hanging out with their grandkids (30 and counting), playing Scrabble, reading, watching old movies, and raising Monarch butterflies.

Illustrator Bio: Gillian Flint has had a passion for drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, so a career in illustration was a natural path for her to take. Her work has been published in the UK, USA, and Australia for clients such as Highlights, Five Mile Press, OUP, and Little Bee Books (book forthcoming). She enjoys using watercolors, crayons, ink, and digital illustration to create a variety of artistic styles. In her spare time, Gillian enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and pottering about in the garden on sunny days.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by WorthyKids/Ideals to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by and shipped directly to winner by WorthyKids/Ideals.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Very Thankful Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen & published by Thomas Nelson

My thoughts:  Have you noticed a few leaves already tinted yellow or orange beginning to tumble from the trees ? I have. It is a reminder that even though the days are warm, sunny, and so pleasant that Fall is just around the corner with nippy mornings and a foretaste of the cold of Winter.

In A Very Thankful Prayer young readers are taken through the day being filled with a "thankful heart." Being thankful for the seasons and pumpkins, coats and farmers, sunshine and apples.... and so much more. A delightful traipse through a child's day encouraging him or her to be so very thankful and to pray their thanks.

I would highly encourage those who value prayer to share copies of this little book with the little ones in their lives. Perhaps a Fall or Thanksgiving gift would be a nice time to do so.

About the book: Every day I wake up with a happy, thankful heart.

From watching the leaves fall to picking pumpkins from the patch, from sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones to learning how to give—there’s so much to be thankful for! Join these adorable animals as they say a prayer of thanks to God, who gives us every good thing.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook reviewers program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author. I was not required to render a positive review. Opinions are my own, alone and freely given.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton (Christian historical fiction) [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN 978-1-60142-994-0
Release date: August 29, 2017
My thoughts:    As I turned the pages of Many Sparrows, I once again found Lori Benton's storytelling to be enthralling, historically compelling, and awash in the faith that sustains. She reveals the strength and weaknesses and unspeakable trials that were faced in the push westward.

Clare is a young woman born of refinement in the coastal Virginia colony. Married, she found herself bereft of comforts, wealth, refinement as she is compelled to accompany her husband, Philip, as he goes from pillar to post never settling down and never accomplishing anything. The story opens as they are in a westward bound wagon with a few worldly goods with their young son. Clare is nearing the end of her pregnancy when Philip decides to go back, alone, to seek help.

As a woman reading this story, I found myself broken hearted for Clare who was so sorely tested in mind, body, and spirit. She even had to trust herself into the care and keeping of a strange man who happens along the trail and finds her in desperate need of assistance.

As the story progresses, this stranger-frontiersman, Mr. Ring, leads her through hostile Indian territory in search for her son, guides her in the manner in which she should behave in the presence of the Shawnees, and reveals his own reliance on God.

This is a story that compels the reader to immerse themselves into. It is one on which to dwell on the complexities of human emotions - those of the white settlers and those of the native Indians. There is such sadness and broken hearted emotions rippling throughout. The reader will come away with a better appreciation of earlier people who lived in these United States for what they endured and how many found the faith that sustains.

I consider Lori Benton to be a master of historical fiction and I highly recommend Many Sparrows.

About the book: Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son...especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

About the author:  Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn't writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards,The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, Christy-nominee; The Wood's Edge, and A Flight of Arrows. (all reviewed on Chat With Vera) Learn more at
Begins September 19
ENDS October 9 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Advance Reader Copy from the Blogging for Books review program on behalf of the publisher, Waterbrook, to facilitate this review. I was not compensated nor required to render a positive review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and/or author.