Friday, June 27, 2014

"Hickory Dickory Dog" by Allison Murray (Review & Giveaway)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0763668266
About the book:  Charming illustrations highlight a child’s day at school — with a surprise canine visitor — in this twist on a nursery rhyme about the hours of the day.

Hickory, dickory, dare, Dogs aren’t allowed in there. A sneaky peek through . . . Then a hullabaloo! Hickory, dickory, dare.

Zack and his dog, Rufus, are best friends. So when Zack goes to school, Rufus follows along. And once he’s there, Rufus joins right in with painting, lunchtime, and even garden time — which makes for one messy pup when it’s time to go home! Engaging illustrations capture the people and playthings of a child’s day, with an array of analog clocks sprinkled throughout for good measure.

My thoughts:  I love children's picture books. They are invaluable to the process of children learning to read and to love books. The pictures in a good picture book entertain, engage, and enlighten. In Hickory Dickory Dog, the author/illustrator utilizes the well-known nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock to convey the relationship between a boy and his dog.

Dogs simply don't go to school (at least, people school), but Zack and Rufus do and their activities are charming and so much fun.  Each page shows us a delight. Allison Murray brings rhyme and art to a delightful level of joy for the young child to enjoy. This book is for the very young to grade 2 child. I recommend  you either borrow a copy from your local library (ask them to acquire it if it is not in the library's collection) or purchase one for lots of reading to that special child in your life.

GIVEAWAY:  The good folks at Candlewick Press have a copy of Hickory Dickory Dog for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win.  Giveaway begins June 17 & ENDS July 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway copy will be mailed directly to winner by Candlewick Press.

What Makes Author, Dianna T. Benson Write? Book release May 19 "FINAL TRIMESTER"

We're getting an opportunity to see has happened to Dianna T. Benson as she has ventured into the realm of writing Christian suspense. 

Dianna, tell us a bit about how you came to begin this journey of writing Christian suspense and how it has worked out for you so far.

I started writing my first book in 1993 when my oldest child was a newborn. After completing five novels, having two more children, earning my EMS degree and working for two years as an EMT, I signed with my first agent in 2007. At that time, I was writing mainstream suspense. Six agents offered me representation that spring; it was a difficult choice between them since all six are top-notch. 


In the fall of 2007, a film agent requested a screenplay of The Hidden Son after reading the book. In early 2009, just before I completed the script, the film agent suddenly retired due to health issues; I never pursued anything further with the script. 

Later in 2009, I received a four-book mainstream contract offer, but turned it down to focus on my family since my husband was just diagnosed with head and neck cancer. During his surgeries and radiation treatments, I took care of our young family of five and read Christian fiction for comfort and support. While reading, I recognized various elements within my own writing that would be an ideal fit for the inspirational suspense genre. So, I continued to read a ton of Christian fiction. Then I wrote my first inspirational suspense and loved writing it. Suspense is my natural writing voice. An EMT and Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative for a decade, I naturally implement my firsthand medical and rescue knowledge and experience into my stories. Inspirational is a thread I love writing and it fits within my characterizations and plotlines like a key puzzle piece.   


In 2011, I won the Genesis in the mystery/suspense/thriller category.  In 2012, I signed with a new agent; within days I had a contract offer from B&H, a large traditional Christian publisher. That contract was pending for thirteen weeks due to the publishing house facing difficulties (less than a year later they permanently discontinued their fiction department). During those thirteen weeks, my agent let go of all the other interest in my writing. I considered ending my writing career before it even really began. Since EMS was always a part time career for me (too intense for full time), I applied to Penn State to earn my Masters in psychology to become a social worker out in the field (not clinical) – Think: EMS without the medical aspects. I was accepted into the psychology program and decided to put my writing career on hold. But…due to my Genesis win, Ellechor Publishing House, a small traditional Christian publishing house, contacted me, requesting me to submit to them. Within days, they offered me a nine-book contract.  

For details on what led me to start writing that first book in 1993, read my WRITING page on my website: www.diannatbenson.com


You have a book,  Final Trimesterdue to release May 19, 2014. Tell us a bit about it, please.
Paramedic Jodi Duncan recognizes the work of a serial killer before the Myrtle Beach PD even suspects a connection between the deaths of two pregnant women. Despite the vast differences in the two cases, Jodi urges Detective Nate Quigley to think outside the box. After digging deep into the separate investigations, Nate finds no evidence to support a serial killer theory, and he warns Jodi to back off police business, which only fuels her passion for the cases.

When a third pregnant woman is murdered, Nate is named lead detective on the case and works to link the deaths in order to unmask and stop the serial murderer, a disturbed man who believes God and the devil battle inside his head to bend him according to their wills. As he fights both voices, his interest fixates on Jodi when he discovers her obsession with ending his rampage.


More about Dianna Torscher Benson -  is a 2014 Selah Award Winner, a 2011 Genesis Winner, a 2011 Genesis double Semi-Finalist, a 2010 Daphne de Maurier Finalist, and a 2007 Golden Palm Finalist. In 2012, she signed a nine-book contract with Ellechor Publishing House. She’s the author of The Hidden Son, her debut novel. Final Trimester is her second release. 

After majoring in communications and a ten-year career as a travel agent, Dianna left the travel industry to earn her EMS degree. An EMT and a Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative since 2005, she loves the adrenaline rush of responding to medical emergencies and helping people in need. 

Dianna lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three children. 
Website: www.diannatbenson.com

Her releases are available wherever books are sold. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Ten For Me" Written by Barbara Mariconda Illustrated by Sherry Rogers (Review & Giveaway)

Hardcover ISBN: 9781607180746, $16.95
My thoughts:  Children love to be entertained and part of that is being read to from cute picture books. Couple fun entertainment with learning and you have a deliciously grand win-win situation. In Ten For Me, we have two children catching and releasing butterflies. They are involved in a competition to see who can catch the most butterflies.

On day one, Ed catches 10 and Rose catches only 1. But that still adds up to 10. As the days progress, they each capture a different number of butterflies but the total is still 10. The story of their little contest is told in delightful rhyme that flows beautifully. Now don’t count on this being classic, Robert Louis Stevenson, poetry; but it is very well done. The words and cadence are good.

Being such, it enables the story to capture the attention of the child to whom it is being read more readily. It also teaches, by example, the beautiful use of words, rhyme, rhythm, and cadence.

There are two primary focuses in this little children’s book.  Addition up to 10, and butterflies and that which pertains to butterflies.  Each two-page spread presents a salient bit of information about butterflies, especially pertinent to those butterflies on that page. And then at the end of the book there are several pages of information about butterflies and some number fact pages, too. All in all, a very entertaining and educational book replete with bright, funny, and colorful illustrations.

I can heartily recommend this for the home, school, and public libraries.



* Who Will Win Their Own Copy? *
Begins June 25 & ENDS July 17
@ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author:  Barbara Mariconda (Ten for Me and Sort it Out!) is one of those people who has done it all! An educator (K-6), a mentor teacher, an adjunct professor of Children's Literature and Process Writing, Barbara has also written a wide variety of musicals, songs, and books. She has worked with Children's Television Workshop and Cherry Lane music on the creative staff of the Sesame Street Music Magazine. In addition to writing workbooks and beginning readers, her middle grade novel, Turn the Cup Around, was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children's mystery. 

Illustrator: Sherry Rogers spent twelve years as a corporate graphic designer and artist before “leaving it all behind” for the freelance world of illustrating children’s books. Through illustrating The First Fire, Sherry remembers her own ancestor, Na Ni, a Cherokee woman from the mountains of North Carolina. Some of Sherry’s other Arbordale titles include The Penguin Lady, Ten for Me, Hey Diddle Diddle, Newton and Me, Moose and Magpie, Paws, Claws, Hands & Feet, and The Deductive Detective; as well as her award-winning titles: Sort It Out!, Kersplatypus, Burro’s Tortillas, and If You Were a Parrot. 

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of Ten for Me by the publisher, Arbordale Publishing, in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review. The giveaway copy is also provided by Arbordale and will be shipped directly to the winner.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon's Long Journey Home from the Iraq War By: W. Lee Warren M.D.

About the book:  No place was safe. An almost constant barrage of mortars and rockets tested the courage of even the strongest men and women.

The endless flow of patients--American soldiers, Iraqis, and even terrorists--bathed the medics in the worst things humans can do to each other.

When Dr. Lee Warren landed at the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, he quickly learned that the challenges he faced as a brain surgeon in Texas were nothing compared to tent-hospital operations in a war zone.

Months of personal struggles on the home front. One hundred twenty days of combat carnage on the battlefield. One desperate will to survive.

My thoughts:  Don't plan on this being a book about soldiers and battalions fighting with ammunition zinging, tanks and planes duking it out with cannons and weaponry blazing. It is not a "war" book in that essence. It is, however, a war book that will engage the reader and provide insight into the war that is waged in a field-hospital in a war zone. It will allow you to see the mental, emotional, and physical strength of our soldier/doctors and soldier/medics and our soldier/chaplains. You will see their weaknesses, too. You will feel their weariness and discomfort as they slough through mud or combat sand infiltrating their lungs. You will appreciate their knowledge and skill and their bravery to use extremely limited resources to perform surgeries that save the virtually unsavable life of the wounded whether they are American or enemy combatants. Whether it is a small child with a bullet through his brain or an Iraqi woman about to give birth, these are American doctors and soldiers with skills and compassion and courage.

Most of all, this is the story of Dr. W. Lee Warren. A highly skilled and trained neurosurgeon who served in Iraq in 2004. His own family broken, he departs America as an Air Force doctor. He arrives in Iraq as "green war zone" but highly skilled neurosurgeon and leaves when his tour of duty of finished a leader and seasoned soldier/surgeon.

I challenge my readers to get a copy of No Place to Hide and read it. See how God works to bring Grace through it all in the scope of war and in the minute bits of individual people's emotions and personal trauma.

About the author:  W. Lee Warren, MD, is a writer, board-certified neurosurgeon, and patented inventor. He lives in Auburn, Alabama, with his wife and business partner, Lisa Warren, and they have five children. Dr. Warren has a BS in Biochemistry from Oklahoma Christian University and an MD from the University of Oklahoma. He practices minimally invasive brain and spinal surgery, develops new technologies with his wife through their company, Warren Innovation, and is an affiliate professor of biomedical sciences at Auburn University. In his spare time he plays guitar, writes songs, and recently completed his first novel, Kill Switch.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review. www.zondervan.com

"Over the Candlestick Classic Nursery Rhymes and the Real Stories Behind Them" by Michael G. Montgomery and Wayne Montgomery

Hardcover: $16.95

ISBN: 978-1-56145-259-0

Total Pages: 32
 A special addition to nursery rhyme collections, this beautifully illustrated volume includes interesting facts about well-known verses.

With whimsical, full-color illustrations and a little historical detective work, Michael and Wayne Montgomery have created a delightful and original nursery rhyme book that will entertain as well as educate readers, young and old alike.

This volume brings together more than twenty classic nursery rhymes, riddles, and tongue twisters and offers a fascinating glimpse into the age, origin, and meaning of each. Youngsters will enjoy such perennial favorites as Jack and Jill; Humpty Dumpty; Old King Cole; London Bridge; Rain, Rain, Go Away; and others. Younger children will delight in the rhymes and beautiful illustrations while older children and adults will be fascinated by the historical details.

My thoughts:  I love beautiful children's books. When I saw Over the Candlestick Classic Nursery Rhymes in the Peachtree catalog, I thought it would be a nice book. But when I received my copy, I saw that it was a handsome, world-class nursery rhyme book that will span years beyond the years when Mother Goose and others are read to the young child. This book will remain on shelves for dipping into the bits of history wrapped up in these salient little rhymes.

The illustrations are beautifully executed with charming detail. The art takes me back to books of yesteryear when art was more descriptive and charming and when the details and expressions told the eye the story even without the text. So hats off to Michael Montgomery for a beautifully done work.

Who doesn't relish moments with a young child in your lap while you read "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Old King Cole," and of course, the loveable "Humpty Dumpty."  And salient history? Well, did you know that "Mary had a little lamb" were  the first words ever heard on Edison's phonograph? And did you know that the rhyme "London Bridge" may have had a darker side involving the building of the bridge? But darkness and history are not for the wee-little-ones. Just read them the rhymes, examine the detailed pictures, have fun, and enjoy. Then later as they begin to read on their own, you can delve into some history and background of these rhymes and have a bit of fun while you do so.

Now the sad part..... this book is no longer in stock at the publisher's - Peachtree, but you might be able to find a used copy online or perhaps locate one in your local library.

Author & Illustrator:  Michael G. Montgomery has illustrated numerous children's books. He attended Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia. Montgomery lives in Georgia. You can visit Michael G. Montgomery’s website here.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy of Over the Candlestick by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ozeri 360 Oscillation Tower Fan, with Micro-Blade Noise Reduction Technology (review)

The Ozeri 360 Tower Fan oscillates at 60, 90, 120, or 360 degrees for partial to complete air circulation with 3 whisper quiet speed settings. Utilizing advanced cylindrical motion technology with over 200 noise-reducing micro-blades, the 360 Tower Fan achieves remarkable airflow velocity while remaining impressively quiet. The 360 Tower fan offers 3 fan whisper quiet speed settings for customized airflow. It also features 3 preprogrammed airflow patterns designed to foster sleep, relaxation and comfort with up to 360 degree complete oscillation for timely relief on a sweltering summer day or for refreshing circulation all year long. The Ozeri 360 Tower Fan features an 8-hour timer that can be programmed in 30 minute increments with ease, and a multi-colored LCD that displays all fan functions and the room temperature.
My thoughts: I have had the pleasure of reviewing several products for the Ozeri folks and been delighted with the quality. They have provided this Ozeri 360 Oscillation Tower Fan for my review.

First of all I'd like to share a little history about our family. We live in North Carolina and it can get very, very hot in North Carolina in the summer. When raising our children, our home was not air conditioned and we had several fans we used to try to move the air providing some level of comfort on those hot days and nights. We jerry-rigged those fans to get optimum airflow and yet were still hot. There is no escaping the humidity and the heat of a North Carolina summer.

Eventually we were able to have our home air conditioned. Such a relief! And such a joy. However, we didn't get rid of all the fans. You see, we realized that sometimes you just need to help move the air a bit and fans do that job.

If tower fans were around back then, I was not aware. We had small, medium, and large fans that sat on tables, the floor, and were even propped in the open window. But I can see that a tower fan would have been a super improvement on what we had available to use especially had the fan had the options that the Ozeri 360 has.

I just came back from a walk (got to get some exercise) and although it was not even 9:30  a.m. when I began, it was hot. Well, it is North Carolina and we do "hot" very well; and it was also humid, which is another of North Carolina's attributes. So right now as I write this, I am sitting enjoying the cool air of the Ozeri 360 Oscillation Tower Fan. It feels so very good. Yes, I do have air conditioning, but I am also very hot right now. So yes! This fan is super nice to come home to.

I've played with the remote to change settings and airflow speed. By depressing the timer button, you increase the duration of the fan's operation in increments of 30 minutes. The thermostat feature is interesting. When it is engaged, the fan will select the proper speed setting to achieve the target room temperature and automatically turn on or off based on that setting. Interesting.

The fan is quiet. Nice. So much is nice about the fan! But reviews are suppose to point out the "cons" as well. So here goes..... I found it difficult to assemble the base, and so I called my son to come by and he did it quickly. So not a problem except for the "some assembly required handicapped (me)." My son had difficult getting the remote battery compartment to open, but that will probably be OK after the initial opening/shutting. The fan being a tower fan and just slightly wobbly, in spite of the broad foot, should be placed on a hard surface and/or watched carefully around children. Their active little bodies would not bode well for using this fan unless care is exercised. 

Do I like it? Absolutely! I'm glad I was given this opportunity to review it. I think this is a keeper and one I can fully recommend. 


DISCLOSURE: I received a product in order to facilitate this review. No compensation was received for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not required or expected to render a positive review.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Captain No Beard: The Crew Goes Coconuts! by Carole P. Roman (Review & Giveaway - US & Canada)

Award-winning author Carole P. Roman continues to publish children's books that entertain and educate. Today we're going to look at another of her "Captain No Beard" series - The Crew Goes Coconuts!
About the book:  There is a storm brewing on the Flying Dragon, and it's not about the weather. When the crew finds themselves parched and not enough juice to go around, blame falls on Matie the goat, Hallie's friend. Divided, they square off, ready for a fight and Captain No Beard must teach his crew that not only is bullying wrong, they must learn to value and respect each and every member of the crew. Watch the crew of the Flying Dragon learn an important lesson about being a true friend.
If you are unfamiliar with Captain No Beard, it is about brothers, sisters, and cousins playing in the kid's bedroom and the bed is the ship, the stuffed animals are the crew, and the story line is usually solving the issues that kids face - sharing, bullying, meanness, kindness. And in The Crew Goes Coconuts! they learn that looking and speaking differently from each other does not entitle them to belittle, make fun of, or not accept each other.

They soon learn that the goat (whose "goat" they keep trying to get - pun intended), has value to add to their play and gathering. They become thirsty. All drinks are gone. What are they to do? Ahoy there me matey! I see an island. And then the solution is solved by Matie the Goat.


Each of these books is a delight and so cute. Children love the "pirates" and love to "shiver me timbers" and "Ahoy, mateys." 

I previously reviewed each of the Captain No Beard books and found them delightful, educational along the lines of character traits, colorful, and fun. Take a look at each of my reviews:
  1. Strangers On The High Seas
  2. Stuck In The Doldrums
  3. Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience
  4. Captain No Beard (book 1 in series)
Why not read my reviews and also go to Amazon.com and read other rave reviews for Carole P. Roman's Captain No Beard books.  But for right now, just use the entry form below and see if perhaps you might be the one to be blessed with a copy of The Crew Goes Coconuts! for that special child in your life.

GIVEAWAY:  A print copy  of the Captain No Beard book The Crew Goes Coconuts! to one lucky winner. Open in US & CANADA. Begins June 17 & ENDS July 8  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: A copy provided by the author as a giveaway for one of Chat With Vera's readers. This giveaway hosted solely for readers of Chat With Vera.  A complimentary copy provided for this review. Opinions expressed are my own. No compensation received.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Remembering Dad in the Little Things


Father's Day was Sunday. Lots of folks shared memories, pictures, and generally some really good warm-fuzzy bits of information on Facebook and other social media locales. My Dad has been gone from us for many, many years. I thought, "Why don't I share something, too, because Dad was very special?" But..... just couldn't pull myself into gear to get it done. But I got to thinking that the man that was my Dad needs to still be remembered because he was special. And then I thought about some of the things that made him special. You know the song "Little Things Mean A Lot"? Well, it is in the little things that a big man is made and the little things are captured in the memories of the mind and heart. Now, in no special order of importance or relevance, here are some little things.....
  1. Dad was not a large man. Barely hitting at 5' 8" and he was small in size as well height.
  2. Dad was sickly as a teen and that left him with limitations as a man.
  3. Dad did some boxing as a young man. He also swam. And he also did some  gymnastics.
  4. Dad loved his mother. Dad loved his father. Dad loved his brothers. Dad loved his sister. This love laid the ground work for the love he showed my mother and we three children.
  5. Dad loved God. He loved God with all his heart, soul, and body.
  6. Dad was a good son. When his father's shoe repair business faltered (already it was two-generational) because Granddad had suffered a stroke, Dad stepped up and began repairing shoes. He grew the business because his brother was at war and Grandmother wanted Dad's brother to have some work to come home to. I can still see Dad standing at the pole topped with a foot form, pounding nails or gluing soles on countless shoes. I can still hear the deafening roar of the wall of machinery that was the nuts 'n bolts of shoe repair. 
  7. Dad's hearing was bad and it is an inherited trait. But you know, listening to that deafening roar of a wall of shoe repair machinery simply compounded the hearing loss. All this was before there was any form of good hearing aids or surgeries to help, too.
  8. But Dad was there doing his part to keep the business going so a brother would have work, and one of the brothers did come home and work there. 
  9. While Dad's brothers were at war (WWII), Dad took care of his Mother and Dad as well as his own growing family.
  10. I said that Dad loved God. He also served God. He taught the men's Sunday School class for untold years. They loved his teaching and that was because Dad loved God and loved God's Word. Dad was also a lay preacher. He was very dignified in life and in the pulpit. I can still hear his voice resonate as he quoted the poem "The Touch of the Master's Hand" in one of his sermons. 
  11. Dad was very smart. Very intelligent. You've heard about the shame of a wasted mind. Dad's mind wasn't wasted because he used it. But he had so much potential and so little opportunity. What he did do, however, was seek to gain education from the resources available to him. He took a correspondence course from Moody Bible Institute and he improved his understanding and knowledge of the Bible. He also took an accounting course by correspondence. His accounting education equaled that of a four-year degree without the extra non-accounting  courses. He had no calculator and no adding machine. He had his mind and a pencil. He didn't make mistakes when he added columns. He simply got it right the first time around. And what did he do with this education? He kept "the books" for several small businesses in the evenings after he had worked all day at his regular job. Work back then was a five and a half days work week. And at night, Dad was still working adding columns of figures in his head.
But Dad was a Dad, too. We lived on the Atlantic coast and we'd go to the beach when he had a little time off. We loved the water and Dad would swim with us. I can still see him in the backyard refurbishing an old wooden 14" boat. To make it seaworthy, he applied sheets of fiberglass material which was glued or varnished onto the boat. That got all under his skin making him miserable. But there were two goals in getting that little boat seaworthy: 1) Fish a bit, and 2) Take his kids out in it for fun. We rode that boat all over the sound (and ocean, too). We learned to water ski. Dad pulled. We skied. He'd have the biggest grin  his face. I still see him with his bald head shining in the sun getting pinker by the moment, and old shirt on to keep some of the sun off. His skinny legs. And again, that big grin.

You see. Dad was enjoying his family and it was all in the little things. A stop on the way home from the beach to get an ice-cold coke (in a bottle). Being wet and sandy. Sitting on towels to "protect" the car. Dad not complaining about our being wet and sandy. Or perhaps it was a run to the Dairy Queen after evening church service or a run for hot Krispy Kreme donuts.

The little things. But remember, Dad was a small man and he loved his Mama. Well, his Mama was sickly and there were times she just couldn't get up the stairs. I'm speaking a flight of stairs - not a few steps. So Dad picked her up and carried her - though she was not a tiny lady. He carried her in his arms just like he always carried us in his heart. Because when we married and left home, he still carried us in his heart. We could see it in his eyes. He didn't have to say anything. It was there. The love, the warmth, and always the smile.

Little things mean a lot in the memory bank of life.

Stuck Together (Trouble in Texas, Book 3) by Mary Connealy

ISBN: 9780764209161
About the book: Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.
Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel's only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.

My thoughts:  Whenever I’ve picked up a Mary Connealy book, I’ve know I’m in for a bit of history, a bit of sweet romance, and a lot of fun and levity.  She writes with the magic of an author that can weave a good story, tuck in some salient information from history, and leave you relaxed and feeling happy to have read her book. That is talent.

Lively Tina who so desperately needs to feel the connection and love of family and invincible Vince from the team of guys who have made up the “Trouble in Texas” series, clash and smash it out as they discover that they are getting stuck together in more ways than one.

The action is quick moving, the dialogue to the point and sprinkled liberally with levity, and you move with the characters through the pages bumping into trouble and solving issues in the town, on the ranch, and in the hearts and lives of the characters.

A good read anytime, but especially for a relaxed, lazy summertime bit of enjoyment.

Author Bio:  Mary Connealy is an award-winning, bestselling author known for her fun and lively historical romances. An author, teacher, and journalist, Mary lives on an eastern Nebraska ranch with her husband and has four daughters and two grandchildren. Learn more at www.maryconnealy.com

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated nor required to give a positive review.

Edwin: High King of Britain (The Northumbrian Thrones 1) by Edoardo Albert


ISBN-13: 978-1782640332
Lion Fiction/Kregel Publishing
About the book: Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin's usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure - the missionary Paulinus - who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point. Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to great power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life ...This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade - and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

My thoughts: I enjoy reading books based on real history and written with historical authority.  Edwin High King of Britain is authored by Edoardo Albert who has taken the early history of England (Britain) in the 6th century as recorded by historian Bede, who lived during the period and is accepted as authority in his writing, and fleshed it out to give us Edwin, the first High King of Britain.

When I agreed to read Edwin, I did so with some feelings of fear that I would not enjoy it. Frankly, I do not like reading about this period as much as later periods of history. I was very pleasantly surprised at the readability and feeling of the author holding faithful to the actual recorded history in his story. I found the story interesting and it gave me some insight, albeit fictional, into the early history of my own people.

The time is after the conquest of the Roman Empire in the land that is now England, Ireland, and Scotland and after the Romans had left. It is 625 A.D. This is the story of uniting the people to form a nation.The inhabitants are pagan in religion and clannish with individual kings for each group. The area has been settled by the Germanic people, the original Britians, and invaders from the North.  Edwin is an actual person recorded in the Ecclesiastical History the English People by Bede. The story opens with Edwin in exile and out wandering when he is approached by a mysterious stranger who predicts that Edwin will be a ruler.

This was a barbaric land and people, and the story portrays this well. It was also a good portrayal of the beliefs about the hereafter that these early people held as well as that of their many gods. The introduction to Christianity by the new wife of Edwin who brought with her a Roman Catholic priest, Paulinus, is interesting. A blending of the barbaric warring and piety made for a different and interesting read.

While based on the history of Bede, the reader must keep in mind that this is not a record of what took place. It is, in fact, a novel and should be read as such. I enjoyed the book and will recommend it to those who enjoy reading fiction based on this time period.

I've always enjoyed a bit of history, so here is a bit about Northumbrian, Bamburg Castle History which includes information about Edwin.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Edwin: High King of Britain from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Meet the Planets by John McGranaghan Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein (Review & Giveaway)

About the book:  Soar into the Solar System to witness the first Favorite Planet Competition, emceed by none other than the former-ninth planet, now known as dwarf planet Pluto. The readers become the judges after the sun can’t pick a favorite and the meteors leave for a shower. Who will the lucky winning planet be? Could it be speedy-messenger Mercury, light-on-his-feet Saturn, or smoking-hot Venus? Readers learn all about each planet as Pluto announces them with short, tongue-in-cheek facts. Children will spend hours searching the art for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art, and classic literature.

My thoughts:  The planets line up - all eight of them (remember #9 was disqualified just a few short years ago). They are in a contest much like a beauty contest. The aim is to choose the best planet. Well, we Earthlings obviously think planet Earth is best don't we? The author and illustrator have both packed a lot of information into this cute book giving us facts about each planet, history of astrology as it pertains to the planet being featured, etc. The storyline is cute and engaging.

The back of the book is has six pages packed with information that will engage the mind of an inquisitive kid - or adult. Lots of good stuff here for the home or school library shelf.

GIVEAWAY:  One of Chat With Vera's readers has the opportunity to win their very own copy of Meet the Planets. Use the Rafflecopter entry form below.  Begins June 14 & ENDS July 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Meet the Planets from Abordale Publishing for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review. Giveaway copy will be provided by publisher directly to the winner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adovia Anti-Aging Facial Lift and Firm Serum with Dead Sea Minerals and Vitamin C (Review) #serum

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
If you look on Amazon.com, you will see that there is a whole line of Adovia products incorporating Dead Sea Minerals to care for the skin. Today I am reviewing the Adovia Anti-Aging Facial Lift and Firm Serum.

About the product:
  • Achieve An Instant Lift and Anti Aging Effects on Your Skin
  • Delivers Anti Wrinkle Results Over Time
  • Vitamin C - Also Contains a High Concentration of Vitamin C for Anti Wrinkle Antioxidant Skin Protection
  • Dead Sea Salt - Formulated with a High Concentration of Dead Sea Minerals and Salt - 21 Minerals Essential for Skin Health and Beauty
  • Non-Oily Moisturizer Delivers Deep Hydration and Nutrient Absorption
Now for what I think about the serum after using it for two weeks - morning and evening?  I found the Adovia Face Serum to be a creamy liquid dispensed from a pump bottle. The action of the pump was good, but I found that my bottle's pumping action was difficult to start at first go and later, after using about half the bottle, the pump simply stopped functioning. I believe I must have received one that is defective which can happen with any product. Now the main properties to review are the lotion/serum itself.

I don't believe in miracle creams or serums. I do, however, believe that we can help our skin along by caring for it. Part of caring for it includes using creams, lotions, and serums to moisturize and aid in keeping the skin soft. The ingredients in Adovia are considered to protect the skin by hydrating, providing nutrients, and protection. As their product information claims, it produces "results over time." I found a small amount covers my face. I allowed it to be absorbed prior to using moisturizer and makeup. I found that my skin feels silky and soft after using it - even the next morning. It is non-irritating and I believe this would be a good addition to one's skin care regime.

DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. #serum 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN: 978-1-61626-0408
About the book: Captain Dean Watters keeps these parts of his life in laser-like focus. So when hackers threaten both his mission and his team, Dean's Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Ten military super-secure computers are missing-which if opened, would give America's enemies a blueprint of US military intelligence. Failing to stop the hackers isn't an option.

Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. She's also a target. Her expertise in quantum cryptology makes her an unwitting pawn in the hackers' deadly game. They're coming for her, and Dean and his team must stop them.

Before the team can get to Zahrah, she disappears. Now Dean must race to rescue her and stop the hackers from unleashing terror on millions across the globe. But to do so, Dean will be forced to crack open the steel box around his heart-a move that might come at the highest cost.

Review: This is an interesting story that is centered around a Green Beret Special Forces team. The team is working in Afghanistan. The author did a great job in making the action of the story feel very real. She even helped describe what life is like there and the tensions between Afghan people and American soldiers. 

The plot centers around the theft of a super computer that contains information that can be used to bring down the American military and wreak havoc on the nation. A half American half Afghan woman who is the daughter of a retired American General is kidnapped. She has the expertise to hack into the stolen computer, and her captors will stop at nothing to get her to give them access to the computer. There is a love story between the leader of the Special Forces team and this woman. 

A sub-plot to the story involves one of the members of the team going back to the states to spend the last days of his newlywed wife suffering from cancer. 

Scattered throughout the novel are elements where different people reveal their personal walks with God. Plenty is found in this story to show people’s dependence on God. 

The language is very clean considering the dialogue of soldiers. This would be a great book for teenagers interested in fictional stories centered around military operations. It is a good read and a quick read. At first, I had trouble keeping up with the many characters introduced almost all at once. Often, the author uses military acronyms, but she includes a glossary at the front of the book to understand them all. The book ends openly revealing there are more books to follow within the series. (guest reviewer, B.Lyles, teacher and band instructor)

GIVEAWAY: A copy has been provided by Litfuse for one of our readers to win. Begins June 10 & ENDS July 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open for US addresses only.
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About the author: Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and a Maltese Menace in northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction. Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/xoyE1

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the author and publisher in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

{Review and Giveaway} Mrs. Armitage Queen of the Road by Quentin Blake

  • ISBN-13: 9781561452873
About the book:  Dear Anastasia, Because I am buying a new motorcycle, I won't need my old car anymore. I would like you to have it as a present. It's parked outside. Here are the keys. With love, Your Uncle Cosmo

Thus begins Mrs. Armitage's excellent road adventure. Accompanied by her faithful dog, Breakspear, Mrs. Armitage wraps a long scarf around her neck, gamely sits down behind the wheel of her newly acquired vehicle, and takes off.

There are many surprises along the way—potholes, fender benders, a few sideswipes, and other "minor" accidents—until all that is left is Mrs. Armitage, Breakspear, and the bare frame of the car. But the ever-resourceful Mrs. Armitage remains undaunted. And when she finally meets up with her uncle and his motorcycle cronies, Mrs. Armitage is rightfully honored as the Queen of the Road.

From the best-selling author-illustrator Quentin Blake, Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom and winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, comes this charming story of a indomitable and appealingly off-beat woman who finds liberation and new friends out on the open road.

My thoughts:  Quirky! Absolutely bizarre and quirky. Quentin Blake has taken his ink pen and water colors and given us in image and text a cute, quirky little lady who is gifted a car. Well, more a rattletrap vehicle of the 4-wheel version. Once given to her, Mrs. Armitage and devoted dog, Breakspear, hop on board and roll down the road.

Each "bump in the road" shakes off a piece of the car as she rolls along. What does she do? Despair? No. She simply throws the troublesome piece away and keeps rolling along. (What can we learn from life with this tidbit?) In one scene (two-page spread of delightful imagery), she is rolling along and still has the sides of the car intact. Here is the story line on that page....
"Breakspear," said Mrs. Armitage, "I think it is time for us to get out of this town." They went down a side road into the country. All around then were trees, and the birds were singing."
"Breakspear," said Mrs. Armitage, "this is blissful." 
This is a fun book and will be an opportunity for teaching "making do" with what you're given and also acceptance of the "bumps in the road of life." The book is, I am sure, fully intended to be an entertainment and light-hearted little read for the young and young-in-heart, yet sometimes it is good to also read between the lines, so to speak.

GIVEAWAY:  Peachtree Publishing has graciously saved a copy of Mrs. Armitage Queen of the Road for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win. Just use the entry form below and let's see who might get a copy for some special child. Begins June 7 & ENDS June 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.

Author/Illustrator: Quentin Blake has earned an international reputation for his quirky, humorous drawings. The best-selling illustrator and author-illustrator of more than one hundred books and the recipient of numerous awards. In 1999, Blake was named the first Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom. Famous for his illustrations of Roald Dahl's beloved books, Blake has three books with Peachtree Publishers: Santa's Last Present, Loveykins, and Mrs. Armitage, Queen of the Road. He lives and works in England and France.You can visit Quentin Blake’s website here.
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DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Peachtree Publishing in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are my own. No compensation was received for this review. Giveaway copy is provided by Peachtree.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day By The Numbers - 70th Year of Remembrance

I first saw the video below on the CNN website. I then found it on Youtube.com and available to share as an embed file. Please watch it. My heart weeps whenever I think of war and those who are the battle fodder. It has been throughout history a bloody and vile thing. War. But wars will be fought. Lives will be lost. Evil will try to prevail. Hopefully, good will be the victor. But it is still war. It is still bad. It is cause to pause and reflect on the wars of history and aim to avoid the situations that bring them into our present lives.

Now take a few moments and watch these young men, for they were young at the time, as they embarked on one of the most courageous and terrible days of World War II. Many never made it home.


And now, I share my uncles from World War II. Two were in the European campaign. One died training others to be a pilot.



The Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher (Review & Giveaway)


About the book: Bestselling author Robin Lee Hatcher has written another heart-stopping romance full of mystery and suspense.
  • A jilted bride desperate to save her family from ruin.
  • A bounty hunter seeking vengeance for a ravaged past.
  • An arduous trek toward justice---or redemption.
Silver Mattlock and Jared Newman know traveling together is a bad idea. Bad for Silver's already tarnished reputation in her small Colorado town. Bad for bounty hunter Jared's secret, single-minded mission for revenge. But Silver is determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father's fortune. And Jared's in a hurry to hunt down the murderer who destroyed his family---even if Silver is too distractingly beautiful for comfort.
  
My thoughts: This is a book you can pick up and have a relaxed read and yet still get that touch of sweet romance, bad guy and good guy adventure, rough travel over the desert and country side in search of the bad guys. You get to see a person's faith lived out in resisting temptation.

There is rescue of those in danger and a good twist in character revelation at the end.  It interests me how a young female character of bygone days puts her trust and life completely in the hands of a stranger who she has engaged in order to find the man who jilted her on her wedding day and who stole all her father's money. She has to learn how to cook - she can't even make coffee - while on the trail in this adventure. She camps on the hard ground, endures cold and rain. Robin Lee Hatcher did not disappoint in authoring this good read.

About the author:
Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heart-warming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, two RT Career Achievement Awards, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over sixty novels. Learn more about Robin at: http://www.robinleehatcher.com

GIVEAWAY:  The folks at Litfuse have graciously provided a giveaway copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win for their very own. Just use the Rafflecopter entry form below and rack up those entries. Begins June 6 & ENDS June 27 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy for the purpose of this review by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Zondervan and the author, Robin Lee Hatcher. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Multiply On The Fly by Suzanne slade and illustrated by Erin E. Hunter

Hardcover $16.95ISBN: 9781607181286
Ages 4-9
About the book:  From pirate bugs to spittlebugs to lovely Luna moths, children will love learning about the world’s insects in Multiply on the Fly! Following in the footsteps of What’s New at the Zoo? and What’s the Difference, this rhythmic book teaches multiplication in a way that will make children “bug” you for more. Teeming with fun facts, readers will multiply a variety of insects, including daring dragonflies, hungry honeybees, and stealthy walking sticks. The “For Creative Minds” section in the back of the book keeps the fun rolling with facts about the insect life cycle, matching insect activities, and multiplication guides to make anyone a multiplication master.


Review: Multiply On The Fly is a many faceted children's book. Beautifully illustrated with remarkably accurate drawings of insects by Erin Hunter, each page describes a feature of the insect on that two-page spread in well done rhyming prose. What is so interesting about this is that first of all it rhymes. Next it speaks to a specific characteristic of the insect. Then on most of the pages alliteration is utilized adding depth to the text. Lastly and as the main feature of the book, a multiplication "task" is presented.

This is very much for a young child's book. And it will behoove the adult to guide the child to grasp each of these tenets.  I find that learning can be lots of fun. It doesn't have to be just academic, fact finding, instruction. Let's have some fun while we're doing it. That is what Multiply On The Fly does for you.

Some interesting "alliteration" in the rhyming prose....
"Seven stealthy walking sticks"
"Each eats eight spider mites."
"Six sturdy soldier ants"
"How long is the luna line?"
I also love how the back of the book has a "Creative Minds" section. This includes pages on insects.... Insect Body Parts, Match the Insects, Insect Life Cycles, and Compare and Contrast. These are beautifully and and with remarkable accuracy done. A great learning and reference tool. Then don't forget this book is all about multiplication! There are a couple of pages recapping the story pages and the specific multiplication problems. And there is an Insect Multiplication Table. Just lots of good learning fun!

Author/Illustrator Info:  Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of over 80 books for children including The Great Divide, Multiply on the Fly, What’s the Difference?, What’s New at the Zoo?, and Animals are Sleeping for Arbordale. Her works include picture books, biographies, and many non-fiction titles about animals, sports, and nature. One of her favorite parts of the writing process is researching and learning new things. Suzanne lives near Chicago with her husband Mike, two children, and their tiny dog Corduroy. She enjoys visiting schools in-person or during her live virtual author visits. 

As both a children’s book and scientific illustrator, Erin Hunter specializes in entomological and botanical illustrations. She illustrated The Great Divide, Multiply on the Fly, and A Day on the Mountain for Arbordale, and she has taught botanical illustration and field sketching at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Erin’s portfolio includes print and online design projects for clients ranging from marketing firms to culinary groups to educational organizations—and she’s drawn insects under a microscope for the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Erin lives with her husband on California’s Monterey Peninsula. When she’s not sketching and painting, she tends to flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables in her backyard garden.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by Arbordale Publications in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Deeper Than Red (Red Returning Trilogy #3) by Sue Duffy

About the book:  Twenty-year-old Tally Greyson isn't consumed with her own education, social life, or career goals like most young women her age. Instead, she's trying to save her mother from the grasp of a seductive cult. What Tally doesn't realize is that in this community, there's a far greater danger than any she can imagine--and she and her mother aren't the only ones in its sights. There are plots brewing here that will threaten the fate of the world.
Concert pianist Liesl Bower has put her own dangerous past behind her, and in her Charleston family home, surrounded by those who love her, she's preparing for a world concert tour with her dear friend, violinist Max Morozov. She thinks she's safe; the man who tried to kill her is dead, his coconspirators have been rounded up, and no one knows she had anything to do with saving the world from a new revolution.

That is, until a world leader is assassinated on the other side of the globe, setting events into motion that could kill the U.S. president, destroy Washington--and take everything and everyone Liesl loves with it. A madman is at the controls now. Even with the backup of the CIA and the dubious protection of a former KGB agent, this time they may all be too late. The heart-pounding final book in the Red Returning trilogy, Deeper Than Red goes further into the world of espionage and action than ever before, delving into the very worst powers of darkness, and pitting them against the light of faith, love, and forgiveness.

My thoughts: Reading book 3 in the “Red Returning Series” by Sue Duffy brought this series to its conclusion and did not disappoint. I previously read the first two books and each time my appetite was whetted for more. These stories about world-class concert pianist, Liesl Bower and her friend and violinist, Max Morozov from Israel, being involved in international intrigue grabs one’s interest and also makes the reader want to listen to the classics referred to in the story.

The story this time is set primarily in the Florida Keys with touches in Charleston, South Carolina, which is Liesl’s home. But the intrigue is played out on the stages of Washington, Russia, and Germany. The Florida connection is a bizarre physic community with clientele ties with Russia. Dark, evil forces are at play a bit different from the usual political intrigue.

Double agents, spies, and bodyguards from all angles and countries. Twists and turns with the flip of the page. But for those who trust in God, a sense of security prevails.

This story has two charming old codgers who take it upon themselves to get involved. A charming "plus" in the story.

A good read and a good conclusion to Red Returning.

Now that you have read my review, I invite you to listen to "The Theme from Schindler's List" because the end of Deeper Than Red captures the emotion of Max, a Jew, returning to the site of so much of Hitler's spewed hatred toward the Jewish peoples. Now listen and feel the pathos. 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Pelican Bride, Gulf Coast Chronicles Series #1 By: Beth White


About the book:  It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.

My thoughts:  This was an interesting period of history for a novel. The Gulf Coast Chronicles promised history and it promised that of a region I am unfamiliar with historically or currently. I am a bit of a history buff yet did not know much about the area's history.  I knew that a group of French Canadians emigrated to the Gulf Coast to escape persecution in Canada. It is also presumptive to assume that English and Spanish were contenders for the territory. And of course, there were the Native Americans – Indians – that were already in the area. It was a rough area just as the author depicted and the young ladies aboard the Pelican (boat they traveled on to arrive as “Pelican Brides”) did not expect it to be so rough.

The ladies soon found out that they as women were much wanted and desired by the rough, dirty, lonely men in this frontier. But even though they signed on to marry, they could have their choice of husbands. It was not quite this simple, though, as there was political unrest, dishonesty, and manipulation of the Indian tribes to suit the political and dishonest goals of the manipulators.

The characters are well developed and interesting. Genevieve Gaillain, a French Protestant and fugitive, is the lead female character who traveled with her sister as Pelican Brides. The main male lead, Tristan Lanier, is a strong interesting man. The supporting cast of men and women are woven into the story with ease creating a community of people that tend to make the reader think this is indeed a historical happening. While a novel, I found it appealing to my love of history. I especially liked the detail of the Indians and their interaction with the French and Canadian settlers. The Indian women teaching the French women how to make bread from corn which they grind themselves is interesting.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.